Thursday, 27 January 2011
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
This is a link to the south sampler I put together today in anticipation of the workshop/seminar I'm presenting in February for the GLITS literature thingy:
stuff like this:
Before following any of the exercises contained in this sampler readers are urged to discover what ‘type’ they are by downloading a free version of the South book from this location:
Every good book needs a protagonist and luckily you’ve come along just in time to fulfil that role. According to How to Write a Blockbuster ‘characters provide readers with the emotional key, the route into your story’. This principle seems equally applicable to any decent guidebook or gazetteer, but the authors of this book also warn: ‘if your characters are flat and lifeless, no one will want to read it’.
Are you feeling flat and lifeless? You’re in for a pretty boring read if you are. Your job is ‘come alive’ so that I can just sit back and type. You should expertly discover who you ‘really’ are and help the rest of us to get to know you. You might of course be shy or introverted and reveal yourself just a little bit at a time, facet by facet as it were, or you might on the other hand just burst into life like a New Years Eve firework display along the Southbank. It’s up to you.
Other characters will be fleshed out by the people you’ll meet while reading this book, by friends and family, passing strangers and by me, the typist.
So what is South? South is an instrumental discrimination borne out of the fact that without a North there is no South. It is a navigational system created by your own networks of meaning. South is a reference axis emanating from the Southbank area of South London. It is perfectly possible to find a slippery surface, lay this book down upon it and spin it round to create a new orientation; perhaps we could call it Weast or the South East Pole as my Grandfather put it. Whatever name you choose, the particular form that your journey to this destination will take is the subject of this book. The author and publishers wish you great luck on your journey, however they would also like to point out that they cannot accept legal responsibility for any strangeness, temporal or subjective dislocation, psychogenic slippages or other oddities that might result from it.
How This Book Works
South may be represented as a radical form of construct elicitation or subjective geometry. The history of the South East Pole which is spread throughout this book as a distributed chapter (there is also an enhanced, computational version available on the web) describes the background to the development of the mysterious South system, explaining how it was formulated in the turmoil of the 1930’s and in the personal turmoil of its creator, my grandfather, Ivan Dâr. For those of you, who would like to read this history a complex navigational exercise will ensue, those of you who would like to jump straight into the South system can avail themselves forthwith of a rapid introduction:
The South software and a free download of the South book are all available on the web here: http://www.doc.gold.ac.uk/~ma501ed/south/south_Download.html
Before undertaking the core algorithms presented in this book the reader should complete a series of processes, these processes will help the South system to construct a hypothesis about you, or, what my grandfather called a psychogenic topology. Some of these processes take the form of ‘repertory grid’ tests, the investigation of your own networks of beliefs, which may also be called constructs. (Exactly how you use these tests will be explained in great detail) Other processes may be more familiar, such as multiple-choice questions involving five level Likert scales such as:
Please indicate how much you like bananas:
Not all 1 2 3 4 5 very much
Most of these processes use bipolar scaling methods, identifying the magnetic attraction of dichotomous concepts, discovering which pole a particular notion pulls you towards. Oddly numbered scales do not allow for equatorial malingering. Your ontological commitment is required at all times.
Before you depart it is crucial that you collect useful items to take with you, these items, if chosen well, MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE, so proceed with care.
Each of you should pick a word associated with the Southbank and the River Thames. It’s a good idea to test this word out loud before finally committing to it. The sorts of words I have found useful in the past have been BASTULE, RIVERINE, POWER-STATION, WATERLOO, SEA-CONTAINER and OXO. These are purely subjective choices and may be wildly different from your own word preferences. Unfortunately there is only room for one word on this expedition. On the whole, the better the word the greater its relative atomic mass.
You will also need to choose a colour out of RED, GREEN, VIOLET, BROWN, YELLOW, BLUE, GRAY and BLACK.
You should also choose between a FERN, a ROSE and a SUNFLOWER.
Please write in this book whenever instructed to do so. It will increase its second hand value as you are adding new content. Obsessive collectors will have an excuse to hunt down multiple copies. Others might swap copies on the Internet or sell them on Ebay etc. In no way should writing in this book be seen as damaging or undermining it. If the book is a library book however, you are entreated to use only the pages marked ‘Library Users’. Those who do write in library books should be aware that there is a special circle of hell awaiting you (see Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy for more details).
Above, Dante’s special circle of hell for the perpetrators
of library book defacement.
The History of the South East Pole begins
The content of this book represents an attempted reconstruction following my grandfather’s fragmented and sometimes illegible notes. In reconstructing his system I have pieced together an instrument that deploys aspects of George Kelly’s repertory grid system, the I Ching, sir Francis Drake’s putative programming language Dra (later adapted by my grandfather to become the strongly situated language known as Dâr) and other processes that most closely approximate the schema my grandfather describes. The full extent of his method remains a mystery, what seems certain from the notes he did leave, is that a complete system was constructed and implemented, but in the intervening decades the full details of that implementation have somehow been lost or maliciously destroyed. We can only assume that this loss is irreversible. The system that I have salvaged from his legacy is, however, a powerfully interpolating assemblage of forces. Use them with discernment and the rewards will be numerous.
Like Aldous Huxley my grandfather embarked upon a mind-altering journey. I too have travelled that tenuous road in writing this text. The following algorithms expand upon the esoteric processes and transformations that entailed the writing of this book. These phenomena are in a state of flux, subject to erasure, scour, the pulling and pushing forces of the fluid and solid, the interplay of the exterior and the interior. Categorical descriptions of these processes are problematic. Perhaps, (and I suspect this more strongly as I experience the matrices of the South system), this ontological breakdown is what my grandfather had designed for his system all along. No doubt you will find your own answers and generate even more questions in engaging with it.
You are here to provide a point of view. You are the most important character in this book, so let’s establish some important facts about you.
Go to the twenty-one acres of the Southbank centre, walk along the Festival Terrace towards the National Theatre, regardless of the weather sit down outside the theatre complex and open this book at page 103
Criks: go to page 95
Make your way to the Skylon Restaurant, it offers a range of cocktails and an extensive wine list, as well as a modern British menu in stylish surroundings. But you won’t be enjoying any of this today. You are on an important mission that involves carefully watching and writing a meticulous report on a Lerq. Carry on up the staircase until you reach the wide balcony that overlooks the Festival Terrace; try to get a good overview of the area before proceeding to the darkly concrete environs of The National Theatre. Go to the terrace that looks down on the pavement outside (if you can afford it you could go to one of the flashy restaurants they’ve got up there, as long as you have a view of the area below). You should be reasonably tired by now having climbed those two sets of stairs, possibly more if you got lost. Good. A degree of physical exhaustion can make surveillance work easier; your legs won’t be itching to move on. Remember that this silent, isolated and analytical process, though in many ways at odds with your outward-looking character, is actually good for you and, more importantly, it’s good for this book as a whole.
As an Um you probably enjoy being outside amongst the crowds and thinking outside of yourself. Your energy flows outward. In the first stage of this journey you spent time listening, this can be quite a challenge for an Um, but no doubt you rose to that challenge. In the West Ums are probably the most appreciated of all the types identified by the South System. Your brain is a little different from the others too; some research suggests that your posterior thalamus and posterior insula are more active, making you highly attuned to sensory and emotional inputs. In the past you might have been characterised as having a choleric or sanguine temperament. Stereotypically, you should be a risk taker. Tempered by your social intelligence and talent for happiness you will make an excellent team leader. But how will you handle difficulties and periods of isolation? Try to spot a Lerq in the crowd below. A Lerq might be chracterised as your diametrically opposite charcter. Lerqs are stimultaed by their own company and by their own thoughts, they do not need others in the same way that you do. You can learn a lot about yourself by studying Lerqs. Try to imagine what thoughts and feelings they are experiencing that enable them to remain so self-contained. How could this Lerq way of being help you? Do you envy or reject it? How, if at all does your Um nature impede you in life? Write your answers here:
Now go to page 137
You Criks are enviably adaptable in social situations but we will not take advantage and subject you to an overly boisterous group of people. Instead you will visit the London Aquarium. There you will study the three-hearted genus Octopus. They too are adaptable, to the extent that they sometimes change colour to suit their surroundings.
Where do fish keep their cash?
Please note the London Aquarium tests its fire alarm system every Thursday between 10 am and 11 am, so try to look a bit surprised, perhaps even panic-stricken when it goes off.
Like any Crik an octopus is a flexible and intelligent creature. An octopus can camouflage itself by deploying incredible mechanisms; these include specialized skin cells that transform
the colour of its skin, including its reflectivity and opacity. Octopus can also change colour in order to communicate with other octopuses; these communications may be friendly or hostile. A blue-ringed octopus can make itself bright yellow with blue rings if it gets angry.
Extraordinarily some octopus like the Mimic Octopus have an additional defence mechanism, they can transform their flexible bodies and the colour of their epidermis to imitate more deadly creatures such as eels and sea snakes. They can also change the texture of their mantle to make it spiky like seaweed, or scraggly and bumpy like a rock.
But how does the octopus remember who it is? There is no subjective security in these transformations. How do you know who you are between one setting and another? In this condition of near non-being you must anchor your own being in your present state. This consists of a journey within a journey. My grandfather characterised this state as an egg within an egg, and sometimes as an empty egg.
Look into the face of the fish here, but also look at the faces of the other human visitors, can you find anyone (fish or human) who looks like yourself, or in some way feels like home? Do you like the look of this person/fish? If not why not? Write what this feels like. Perhaps you have had to compromise because no one really looks like or reminds you of yourself, in that case writes what that feels like. Does it make you feel lonely or unique, do you begin to feel any sense of yourself as a location? It has been said that octopus, like other cold blooded creatures, including fish, do not dream, some people think this is because their cold hearts heal quicker from trauma.
Now go to page 148
Degrees of freedom
If I am supposed to be writing an autobiography there is a fundamental flaw in the contract which my publishers have hitherto not noticed - there is no real ‘I’ to autobiographize. Although it is true I use this solitary symmetrical construction on a habitual basis. This ‘I’ of which there is no solid empirical evidence represents a vast number of un-useful habits – the continuous construction of un-resourceful representations, self destructive symbols, phobias and fear. Taking a small stroll through Borough Market will expose a cornucopia of such fears, the fear of not having material things and sensuous experiences, to name just two. You may retrace these steps yourself; beginning perhaps by the ship of avaricious cruelty we currently call the Golden Hind. A boat that represents every malignancy you can care to name. Start there, at this mendacious centre piece of Thames-side reverie.
Have I lost you yet? Who are you anyway? Those of you who are expecting to read a scientific treatise should already be dismayed by the subjective slant of my writing today. Others may be wondering what on earth I am doing using such resources – as the phobia, the displacement, the un-resourceful representation. Are these theoretical resources? Are you interested? Do they fit into a programming language as remotely valid entities?
My goal may once have been to make you all say a resounding communal ‘yes’ following a meticulous submission to the elegance of my logic. But there is no longer an ‘I’ to either persuade or be persuaded.
We are largely sets of unobservable relations, to even use that term implies an anthropocentrism I cannot support, nor yet can I support any form of essentialism. This is the world as I encounter it today. Tomorrow I plan to write a chapter on differential geometry and group theory that will clarify my slippery realism. I will present the case for manifolds, transformation groups and vector fields as fitting processes for a differential morphogenesis that works across both time and space, a philosophical terrain that consists of both the singular and the ordinary. In short a multiplicity, a set of relations and a rate of change.
Walk from the Golden Hind to Borough Market. You will surely become increasingly aware of gustatory representations. Can you resist them? What happens if you do? After 20 minutes suspend resistance, now what do you do? Write down exactly what happens. Describe before, after and during. Describe urges, flavours and regrets. Next time you come here do the same exercise. Note carefully any differences between each visit. In this way you will understand your own degrees of freedom.
Cartographies of Constraint
My parents always criticised me for my fear of bridges, which I now know is called ‘gephyrophobia’. We lived so close to Waterloo Bridge my parents were exasperated by the limitations my phobia created, by what they characterised as my ‘scenes’ and ‘tantrums’ every time we crossed to the North. I didn’t want to be criticised for my fear of bridges. I wanted them to accommodate it, but this was not possible. My father would carry me across the bridge screaming. My mother would stride across it, leaving me to choose between the twin horrors of bridge crossing or maternal abandonment. At about the age of five I began to devise strategies that would nowadays be characterised as tantamount to a neurotic compulsion, but which at the time I found absorbing and satisfactorily distracting.
Tunnels have never disturbed me. I could cycle to Greenwich and cross under the Thames, or, if I had the money take the underground from Waterloo to Embankment. It fascinated me to learn that London has not always been resplendent with bridges, until relatively late in its history I would have been able to traverse north and South via myriad ferries, and thence drawn no attention to my phobia. But, as the London of my youth was, as far as I was concerned, over accommodated with bridges, I began necessarily to impose a range of restrictions and complex procedures upon myself, like an inverted version of the Bridges of Göttingen problem. I challenged myself to move through London with the maximum amount of riverine proximity without actually crossing any bridges. Though I have no liking for railway or motorway bridges, it is particularly bridges over bodies of water that terrify me. But my permutations and schedules of algorithms somehow mitigated my fear. In this way I gradually also eroded my desire for parental praise. My parents had no appreciation for my search algorithms so instead I sought praise from myself and lived in fear of my own disapprobation. I was like a rat who had built a maze for himself from which I desperately needed to escape, by exhausting all sets of combinations. A problem I am still trying to solve.
Lesson: What seems like a solution to one problem can cause even more inconvenience than the originating predicament.
The New York Thruway Authority will lead gephyrophobiacs over the Tappan Zee Bridge. A driver can call the authority in advance and arrange for someone to drive the car over the bridge for them. The authority performs the service about six times a year.[
^ a b c Foderaro, Lisa W. (January 8, 2008). "To Gephyrophobiacs, Bridges Are a Terror.". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/08/nyregion/08bridge.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2008-01-08. "Mrs. Steers, 47, suffered from a little-known disorder called gephyrophobia, a fear of bridges. And she had the misfortune of living in a region with 26 major bridges, whose heights and spans could turn an afternoon car ride into a rolling trip through a haunted house."
^ "Gephyrophobia: A Fear Of Crossing Bridges. Even Before The Minnesota Collapse, Many Have Severe Phobia About Bridges.". CBS News. August 10, 2007. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/08/10/eveningnews/main3156354.shtml. Retrieved 2008-01-08. "The monster she fears is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland. At four miles (6 km) long and 185 feet (56 m) high, Ayers says the thought of driving the bridge - with the way it rises straight in the air - raises a sense of panic in her."
^ "Reasonable fear or bridge phobia?". USA Today. August 8, 2007. http://www.mywire.com/pubs/USATODAY/2007/08/08/4184015?extID=10051. Retrieved 2008-01-08. "Jerilyn Ross, a psychotherapist and president of the Anxiety Disorder Association of America, notes that phobias are more than just being afraid of a certain object; they are marked by panic. Someone with gephyrophobia is afraid of panicking on a bridge, not necessarily the bridge itself, she says."
About your egg
The egg is a proto-novel, a book waiting to be hatched. We suggest you keep the egg close to you for the first few days. If you have spare folds of fat this is great, you can tuck the egg into them. Otherwise you might like to keep the egg in your pocket or under your jumper while watching television. When the egg has reached a temperature of about 67 degrees your book is ready to be hatched. Grab this book, head down to the Southbank, turn the egg on and take it for walk. By pressing the forward and backward buttons at the back of your egg you can experience the enhanced navigational range of this book. This will involve going up its stairs and through its secret tunnels, scampering over its many rooftops, clambering along ridges and down into its green valleys to find new and previously undiscovered pages. The book is designed to be smudged, thumbed, bumped, riffled through, used as a pillow, an occasional table and drawing book. It is also a form of compass. One way or another, (if you stay on Earth) this book will always point towards the South, just like your egg.
The largest of Ivan’s notebooks was held together by green garden twine.
I begin to read it as the light of the longest day faded:
‘The memories of what I have witnessed act as a filter, but they are only a map of these events and not the actual terrain upon which they unfolded. In 1963 Dr Eee at the Callois Wing of ST Thomas’s hospital advised me to listen to my own language in deconstructing these memories, in order to expose my own filters, the deletions distortions and generalisations that I have unconsciously passed these memories though and made into a baseline habitual state.
My representational filters, explained Dr Eee, include the feelings both inside and outside of the body, but unfortunately I was not in a position to identify these apparently polarised locations. I heard a voice describing these disembodied kinaesthetic phrases: “there is somewhere solid, tickle, preserve pain in the neck warm”. Dr Eee told me that it was my own voice recorded under hypnosis, but I did not recognise it. I was advised by Dr Eee to use breaks and redirections such as Goto and delay – much like those used in my early computer programs, in fact I was constantly minded of these similarities which Dr Eee seemed oblivious too.
I wanted him to praise me for my superhuman efforts in deconstructing my habitual predicates or the language of my preferred representational system, but this desire was itself characterised by Dr Eee as an equally filtered preference for self-talk, which Eee called an auditory digital preference. This was revealed in my frequent use of words such as sense, learn, perceive conceive and process. I nagged at myself continually with these vocabularies, to the degree that they pulled me into a semi-hypnotic negative trance, in which I was profoundly entrenched in my own thinking and negative imaginings that took me deeper and deeper into consistent anchors or triggers. In a sense I was hypnotizing myself with my own language. But was Dr Eee right in his conviction that changing my language would change my life? Wasn’t the fact that I was so often lost in space evidence that my location in the world was dependent on more than language alone?’
So here you are sitting outside the National Theatre on what is probably quite an unpleasant day. Perhaps you are trying not to concentrate on the negative aspects of this space. Your pain threshold in all probability is quite low, that’s not to imply you are a weakling or a whinger but to suggest that you often find things difficult (even intolerable). You are sensitive to your environment, sensitive to sound and smell. Other people may be intruding upon you right now with their noise and their annoying habits. Despite all these distractions you will probably be interested to know that someone is imagining your life. They are trying to imagine not only what you are doing right now but also why you are doing what you do. They may be observing you from the heavy concrete balconies above. You can try looking for them in the crowds but their number is legion (at least it should be if anyone actually buys this book). If things have been timed properly they will be writing detailed descriptions of you right now. Try not to feel self-conscious or bad about what they might be observing. You are being monitored all the time in this city so you should be used to it by now.
There are many different ways of feeling bad, no doubt during your trips to the Southbank you will experience several of them. That is so often the Lerq way. We highly recommend the following exercise as a counteracting measure to your multifarious bad states.
Practice not expressing unpleasant emotions, not 'identifying' with them but merely observing them. Practice not 'considering inwardly' the real or imagined opinions of others towards yourself, but merely observing them.
Now go to page Error! Bookmark not defined. (I don’t think the author has a clue)
Apparently authors should never allow their subjects to occupy more than one point of view at the same time. Let’s test this out right now here on the Southbank. Note the use of third person perspective in the opening sentence, this is a smoke screen designed to lull readers into a form of third person hypothermia. Now you are in this befuddled and even combative state watch out for further signs such as apathy, confusion and PARADOXICAL UNDRESSING.
This third person state can usually be managed with passive re-warming. This method relies on the victim's own production of specific subjectivity to re-warm the body. After wet perspectives have been removed and the skin dried, the victim should be wrapped in the infinite, warm regress of first person perspective, blankets, towels, or whatever else is available. We will now begin the non-Euclidean observation process. Return to one of the balconies along the Festival Terrace or a craggy overhang on the North face of the National Theatre complex. From there position yourself so that you have a good view of yourself in the area below. This is not hard to achieve with a little resourcefulness. You could try to imagine that one of the people sitting below you sipping a frothy cappuccino is you; if, for example, you had been born a few degrees further South or North, with one different parent or a dash of GM.
Describe that person in great detail. Where do they come from, what do they want, how do they hold themselves, what does their body language suggest to you?
Does this person look like they live to seek the thrill of a moment and yet although they are independent, outgoing and assertive they are also surprisingly trusting, often innocently walking into the lion's den at times? No matter what upheaval, challenge or triumph they confront – do they have a wonderful ability to bounce back?
Or does their life somehow fall short of their childhood dreams? Do their eyes often blaze with feelings that words never express?
Write everything you know about this person in the area below; when you have finished describing them turn your gaze upon yourself in the act of observing your self. Describe what you look like and feel like when you watch yourself:
Lerqs >>>> Make up a more expressive word for ‘lost’
Criks >>>> Trip on an invisible wire.
Ums >>>>> Kiss your own elbow
(The above examples are entirely facetious)
Write something here
6. ennui (look it up)
7. mendacity (ditto)
All types: answer the following questions about the River Thames >>>
Is it an extrovert or an introvert?
Is it lazy or energetic?
What kind of house would it like?
Is it happy or unhappy?
What job does it have?
What is its favourite colour?
How does it feel first thing in the morning?
If it was a film-star who would it be?
What does it smell of?
Who is its best friend?
What is its favourite song?
What gender is the Thames?
Michel Foucault’s Technologies of the Self:
Aspley Cherry-Garrards the Worst Journey in the World:
© dare 2011