Location Livorno, IT
Juan Pablo Macías
August 16, 2020

semeion and the demilitarization of language

Charles Sanders Peirce c1859.

“Language free of syntax: demilitarization of language…

…I let it be known to my friends, and even strangers, as I was wandering around the country, … that what was interesting me was making English less understandable. Because when it’s understandable, well, people control one another, and poetry disappears — and as I was talking with my friend Norman O. Brown, and he said, “Syntax [which is what makes things understandable] is the army, is the arrangement of the army… So what we’re doing when we make language un-understandable is we’re demilitarizing it, so that we can do our living…”

—John Cage

“Language is not life, it gives life orders”

—Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari

“It is sufficient to go out into the air and open one’s eyes to see that the world is not governed altogether by mechanism, as Spencer, in accord with greater minds, would have us believe. The endless variety in the world has not been created by law. It is not of the nature of uniformity to originate variation, nor of law to beget circumstance. When we gaze upon the multifariousness of nature we are looking straight into the face of a living spontaneity. A day’s ramble in the country ought to bring that home to us.”

—Charles Sanders Peirce

“…Now, I consider that we do need to know, and that our only need is to know. If we could love, and love at one fell swoop, knowledge would be useless; but we have unlearned how to love, under the influence of a sort of fatal law that originates in the very weight and richness of creation. We’re in creation up to our necks, we’re in it with every organ: the strong and the subtle. And it’s hard to reascend to God via the graded road of the organs, when those organs fix us within the world we inhabit and tend to make us believe in its sole reality. The absolute is an abstraction, and abstraction requires a strength opposed to our fallen human estate.

Should we be astonished, after that, if the pagans ended up becoming idolators, coming to confuse effigies with principles…?

…A thing named is a dead thing, and it’s dead because it is set apart…”

—Antonin Artaud

“…Al ofrecer estas páginas al lector, no he pretendido hacer literatura. Ha sido mi única intención la de dar salida a mi espíritu, como quien da salida a un torrente largamente contenido que anega las vecindades necesarias para su esparcimiento.

Escribo como pudiera reír o llorar y estas líneas encierran todo lo espontáneo y sincero de mi alma.

Allá van ellas, sin pedir benevolencias ni comentarios: van con la misma naturalidad que vuela un pájaro, como se despeña el arroyo, como germina la planta…”

—Thèrése Wilms Montt

“I am well-acquainted with the lively word:

It bounds forth so cheerful,

Greets one with a courteous bow,

Lovely even in its clumsiness,

Full of vigor, snorting heartily,

Then crawls even into the ears of doves,

Twirls and flutters now,

And what it does—the word delights.

But the word remains a delicate creature,

At once sick and yet soon recovered.

If you want to save its tiny life,

You have to hold it gently and delicately,

Not clench and touch it roughly,

Yet often it dies from cross looks —

And then there it lies, so misshapen,

So soulless, so poor and cold,

Its tiny corpse transformed terribly,

Maltreated by death and dying.

A dead word—an ugly thing,

A bone-dry rattle.

Fie to all those ugly trades,

That put big and tiny words to death.”

“In my room, the silence of death -only my pen scratches away at the paper- for I like to think while writing, since we have not yet invented a machine that could reproduce our unexpressed and unwritten thoughts on some sort of material…”

—Friederich Nietzsche

“To think must be, above all, an aesthetic creation. Thought without beauty does not beget thought: it is, at most, a little bit of truth uttered by a wise man: it is possibility, mass for a ‘fiat’, stone for a cameo. That is why the idea is worth as much as the sentence. A thought embedded in a truncated or harsh phrase suffers; keen ears hear it cry. On the contrary, a fragile thought, embedded in a clear sentence, sings and prays. Great thoughts leaning in lapidary periods are living beings with blood and ‘lymph’, they breathe, speak, move and touch.”

—José Oiticica

When we think of words, we think of language, of text, of orthography, of rules, of communication, of messages, of semiology, of linguistics, we think of conventions, written, enforced by law, fixed and allergic to becoming. We think of the sovereign father (male principle), of his authority, as the possessor of language, as the one that introduces the linguistic conditions that render civilized life possible. But all this entails a masculine hijack of the world of signs through dead words, its institutionalization, its detachment from the Real, from the ground, by an error in perceiving cosmic principles —energies— as humanized and institutionalized fixed images. An error in taking human language for thought.

Language, as we recognize it, is a monolog distributing duality on the realm of society, while it turns its back to what is preceding it at all times, to that sensuous realm that couples thought and extension together. In one, in unity, the cosmic principles of male and female that mark its many rhythms. ”Unity is plural and at minimum two” — the complementary but not mirror-imaged proton and neutron. You and I are inherently different and complementary. Together we average as zero —that is, as eternity…” (Richard Buckminster Fuller in Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth)

The separateness of these principles, of sky and earth, of sun and moon, of male and female, its relation, is mediated by an androgineaus third one, Semeion (literally, sign), not by law, but by a cosmic breath that makes life possible, that connects everything together by airy electromagnetic signs, that beget voice and the silent understandings and becomings of matter and creatures in general. It’s like that understanding of poets like Raúl Zurita, when he says convincingly, that the poetical word saves us from that distance created by the separation of sky and Earth. Poetry does not name things. It says its circumstance, by a performative act, as a bee’s twirls and flutters, as Thèrése’s writing as crying-laughing, unrecognized as the flight of birds, as the overflow of water or the sprouting of a plant. Poetry honours as ritual, as a ritornello greeting its territory. It does not name.

The Word, which only barely communicates, that names dead things, was not first, was not the condition of signs. The sign precedes all, it is the property of a living spirit that puts everything into relation. Thought and extension, the male and female principles, are buffeted together by the airy couplings of Semeion in all species, by an infinity of modalities, forces, energies, essences, elements, substances and dances which conform its vitality. One needs to open one’s eyes to see what lays in front and dance with it, to make it recede, to make it go round. No scientism needed, nor belief. Air-hides-nothing (Luce Irigaray)

According to John Zerzan, language was elaborated for the suppression of feelings, the repression of instincts. But how, a living semiosis, this vital triad, which entails the unity of thought and extension through airy signs, would not be disrupted by the phallic father, its dead letters and its stupid congregation?

How to make justice to this triad when our formation has distributed us by twos? When, through duality and segmentarity, we have been blinded in front of the multifariousness of nature?

How to demilitarize language? How to un-gender our fronts? How to androginize antagonism and reset the cosmic orgy that we are a part of?

Thought was invented to organize the next orgy (Sloterdijk). How to organize the next one? By practicing triadomany… so that we can do our living…