Sunday, September 23, 2012

Diagrammatic Violence

Diagrammatic thinking does violence to our experience.  The abstractions of the diagram take a rich, dynamic experience turning it into elements and ingredients that can be digested and implemented for its own purposes. As Elizabeth Grosz puts it in terms of the "intellect":
The intellect functions to dissect, divide, atomize: contemporary binarization and digitalization are simply the current versions of this tendency to the clear-cut, the unambiguous, the opposition or binary impulses of the intellect, which is bound by the impetus to (eventual or possible) actions. [Grosz, "The Thing"]
Grosz, via Derrida, traces this violence down to any use of language, to the possibility of language itself, but then asks:
Perhaps the question ahead of us now is this: what are the conditions of digitization and binarization? Can we produce technologies of other kinds? Is technology inherently simplification and reduction of the real? [Ibid.]
We can look to more primitive outlooks such as might make a canoe out of a tree and give thanks to the well-suited tree being sacrificed for that purpose, but there is still some diagrammatic violence being done to the thing itself.  Can we construct diagrams, or think diagrammatically, on some basis other than a select number of analogous relationships with their abstract endpoints?  I don't think so?  So then, the question is can we think, productively, other than diagrammatically?