REITERATION AND REPETITION

POSTHUMAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doing some interesting philosophical seminars in jail, a friend of mine received this answer from a prisoner, who had killed both his wife and her lover, when he accidentally found them having sexual intercourse.

He said: “In that moment, I though that killing them was what I was supposed to do. Everyone expected me to do so. If I did not, I would have not been able to look into the eyes of my family and friends. I did not feel like killing them, but that was the only way I knew to deal with the situation.

 

And so I did”. Repetitions of behavior. That was the only way he knew to deal with that situation. Patterns of existence. Such a perspective can be applied to many other notions and categories. Judith Butler in “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity” (1990)6, defines gender as performative and reiterative. As she explains:

The action of gender requires a performance that is repeated. This repetition is at once a reenactment and reexperiencing of a set of meanings already socially established; and it is the mundane and ritualized form of their legitimation.

 

More than a noun, gender is a verb: to gender, gendering. This is an example to stress that gender, as well as infinite other micro and macro patterns, are reenacted through the gerundive condition of lived practice. By performing our existence, or more simply saying, by the ways we live, we are creating patterns of existence. Here, it can be of interest to mention Jung’s archetypes as universal, archaic patterns and images of the collective unconscious (1959)7. But how these sort of fluid archetypes formed? In order to address this question, I will now go back to our physics scenario, focusing on modalities of existence, in order to delve into the “how”, which is also the “what” of our possible futures.

MULTIVERSE

Some years ago, when I was working on posthuman ontology, and specifically, on the subject of the multiverse, the eternal recurrence started to haunt my thoughts: I could not think of the multiverse without thinking of the eternal recurrence of the same…

Thus Spoke Zarathustra:

The soul is as mortal as the body. But the knot of causes in which I am entangled recurs and will create me again. I myself belong to the causes of the eternal recurrence. I come again, with this sun, with this earth, with this eagle, with this serpent – not to a new life or a better life or a similar life: I come back eternally to this same, selfsame life, in what is greatest and in what is smallest, to teach again the eternal recurrence of all things (Z: 3, “The Convalescent”, 333).

First of all, let me clarify that by “multiverse”8 I am referring to the scientific investigations on matter from the micro to the macro levels of materialization, which recently brought different fields, from quantum physics to cosmology and astrophysics, to the same hypothetical conclusion: this universe might be one of many. Here, I should also mention that the multiverse “is not a theory, but a prediction of certain theories”, as cosmologist Max Tegmark stresses.

For instance, the math of String Theory, 9 in order to function, requires a distinct feature, which is extra-dimensions of space, consequently advancing the hypothesis that this specific dimension is only one of the many occurring. To go back to our initial point: was Nietzsche, somehow tapping into this kind of memories of the future? Could he be referring to a specific dimension of spacetime, when approaching the notion of the same?

MODES OF EXISTENCE

Let’s now go back to repetitions and patterns of existence. If we think of ourselves as materializations related to one specific vibrational dimension, we can hypothesize such a dimension as holding specificities related to the ways existence manifests in such a dimension, which would imply something like an ontic nature-culture of spacetime. In other words, the nature of spacetime would not be something static, but correlated to the events manifesting within it, thus related to a dimensional “culture”, made, among other factors, by enactments and modes of existence. The crucial question behind this hypothesis is:

Does spacetime hold memory?

Spacetime has been defined as the set of all (possible) events in one universe. Each point in spacetime represents an event. Think, for instance, of spacetime as a blackboard, and events as points on it.To label a point on the blackboard, you have to imagine laying down a grid: this grid represents the set of possibilities related to each event. Spacetime is not a blank canvas: as we have previously seen, its own curvature is an effect of the materiality manifesting within it. So, how does each event affect the spacetime of one specific dimension? Does the repetition and reiteration of modalities of existence mark spacetime in a way that such patterns, the more they are performed, the more they are likely to be repeated?

 

In a simple way, think the way you walk or drive home. The more you take a road, the more likely you will be to take such a road. And if you have children, or if you have a guest and you showed them your way, they will most probably take those same roads: few would actually try different paths. Let’s now offer a monumental example. The pattern of war keeps coming back within human recorded history. Could it be possible that this specific vibrational dimension is more prone to it? Let me develop this point further. On one level, we could hypothesize that war, once present as an event in the memory of spacetime, has been repeated enough to become a common pattern of this vibrational dimension. Here, I would like to specify that we should not think of such patterns as fixed, nor as existing in any separate way: their manifestations would only take place in the performativity ofeach event, in the moment.

The significance of each re-enactment, though, cannot be under-estimated. Each repetition implies a tuning into, and a recreation, of specific modal genealogies; each repetition carries a vibrational impact, every event is related to a certain grid of possibilities. Here, I wish to open a parenthesis to clarify the notion of vibration. In order to do so, I will take a step back. From a physics perspective, anything that has mass and volume is considered matter. For instance, humans are made out of matter, as well flowers, robots and clouds.

The way matter appears on the large scale might be misleading, if taken as its ultimate state. Matter, on a subatomic level, is not static or fixed, but is constantly vibrating, relational and irreducible to a single determined entity: any reductionist approach has historically and scientifically failed. According to the String Theory an active research framework in Quantum Physics, matter, at a subatomic level, may be composed by tiny vibrating loops of energy, defined as strings.

This type of scenario does not entail a dualism between the strings and their vibrations. The two terms are inseparable: the strings are manifesting in a specific mode because they are tuned to a definite vibration, as much as definite vibrations are manifesting through the specific tuning of the strings. In ontological terms, such a view, implies a pluralistic monism, or a monistic pluralism. Going back to our modes of existence, could we infer that specific vibrational states of the strings manifest specific patterns more easily than others?

The “DNA” of Energy

In this hypothetical scenario, vibrational ranges could be seen as a sort of “DNA” of energy, which would carry specific information that may be enacted or left in potential by the manifestations of existence performing within that specific frequency. Such a “DNA” would have evolved through all the events enacted by all the manifestations occurring within that specific vibrational frame. The eternal return can be an interesting way to access this type of hypothesis. More specifically, the eternal recurrence of the same could be conceived as related to the patterns of existence, which keep repeating themselves in a specific vibrational dimension. If so, we might be able to unravel them by repeated processes of material awareness, which would imply a quantum cosmo-ontological sensitivity. Such a possibility complies with a posthumantype of agency where not only the human and the non-human realms bear signification, but also modalities of existence: the “what” is the “how”. Such an agency, which exceeds the notion of a mono-dimensional individual existence, is necessarily related to the understanding of posthumanism as a praxis .

How we exist is who we are, in the same way as what we eat is what we become: food, for instance, chemically turns into our own flesh. In such a frame, the multiverse can be perceived not only as an ontology, but as a path of self-discovery, once the self has been recognized as the others within, ultimately turning into a relational dance of ontic manifestations and events.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra:

For me – how should there be any outside-myself? There is no outside. But all sounds make us forget this; how lovely it is that we forget (…).

“O Zarathustra,” the animals said, “to those who think as we do, all things themselves are dancing (…). In every Now being begins; round every Here rolls the sphere There. The center is everywhere. Bent is the path of eternity.” (Z: 3, “The Convalescent”, 329-30)

 

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