Eat Y'self Fitter
research class by Vincent Van Meenen & Boris Van Den Eynden
In the research class we would like to propose to explore the formula below:
“writing taking up a life of its own by self-execution”
For example: imagine us speculating about and testing out the following:
What happens when we think of writing not as a metaphysical-spiritual product – the Thoughtwork(s) of an individual author – but as a dumb process that takes place in- and outside our heads. Such a philosophy of externalities has been developed in various ways by, among others, Bernard Stiegler (tertiary retentions), Sybille Krämer (Operationsraum Schrift) and Andy Clark & David Chalmers (extended mind).
That which takes place outside the head could be called an active externalism, a constant feedback loop between that-what-is-being-called-the-objectworld (a world full of objects and symbols ready to be physically manipulated) and that-what-is-called-consciousness. Consequently, the machine and the writer could be regarded as 'that-what-Germans-call-Geisteseinheit' and the question "who or what is Creativity, Genius, that-what-Germans-call-Geist, Intention or Instrument" can no longer be answered unequivocally.
Thus the active involvement of the writer in the feedback loop presupposes, among other things, know-how of a / the machine: in other words, he or she must be able to program a / the machine. In this case being-dumb (or stupid) doesn't mean to be deprived of technical knowledge (being deskilled) but rather to be-capable-of-triggering-an-automatic-procedure that takes place between 'Machine’ and ‘Man’. In other words, being-dumb (or stupid) is not an individual 'quality' but an attribute of (or in) a feedback-based process that first of all - at the conception - requires a lot of cleverness and which yields - in the best case - a supplement of wit/spirit (Geistigheit/Geestigheid).
Are we able to become that type of dumb writers?
Writers that allow “writing to take up a life of its own by self-execution”?
And if so:
Where would we situate ourselves in a cultural history of writing-as-computation that is as rich as it is contradictory. We know of algorithms as a tool versus algorithms as a material of aesthetic play and speculation, of those who wrote out the inner workings of nature (as in Pythagorean thought) or God (as in Kabbalah and magic) with the help of dumb symbolic formula’s, of those who introduced computational techniques as culture and a medium of cultural reflection (starting with Oulipo and hacker cultures in the 1960s), of those who wrote as and with machines as a means of abolishing semantics (Max Bense) or of those who became mechanical as a means to structure and generate semantics (Raymond Lull and Artificial Intelligence), of those who mindlessly manipulated symbols as a means of generating totality (Quirinus Kuhlmann) or of those who did the same as a means of taking things apart (Tzara, cut-ups). In addition: we heard of those headless ecstatic ones (Ring ring Kuhlmann, bla bla Kabbala and boom boom Burroughs) and the mindless rationalists (Bonjour Leibniz, hello Turing), after which we binged on pataphysics – a parody of both rationalist and irrationalist symbol-manipulators (Oulipo again). Dumb writers expand (generative art), constrain (net.art), imagine chaos (that website of Jodi) as well as describe chaos in a structured fashion (Joh(a)n Cage). We loved conceptual literature (starting with that Against Expression Anthology from 2011) and couldn’t care less about those novels by Olyslaegers, Spit, Hertmans, Pfeijffer, etc. etc. We built are bodies like Acker, but in the opposite direction, undoing our muscles while listening to Mark E Smith:
“What's a computer?
Eat why'self fitter
What's a computer?
Eat why'self fitter”
(The Fall, Peel Session 6)
(Image: detail cover '34650 Seconds' by Evelin Brosi)
>> This research class is part of the RESEARCH WEEK October 2021 and ARTICULATE 2021.