Some Personal Observations Regarding the CopySouth Workshop:
Trivandrum, Kerala, December 2008. Trevor Batten, Manila January 2009
SECTION 5. The Search for new Languages:
Discovering the problem is only half the battle -is there a solution?
1.0 The manipulation of Semantics by doctrine:
We can look at art
as a language and define language
as a medium in which concepts are externalized and internalized. These
concepts can then be re-invented, explored and understood -so that we
can gain a new perspective regarding ourselves and the world we live in -by imagining that which does not yet exist.
Technology is a way of doing things.
Information Technology may be a way of confusing things.
There are four distortions
of the mind that underlie copyright issues:
1. The confusion between
symbol and object
Doctrines are fundamental languages through which
military, political or religious forces guide the actions of subordinates towards national aims.
Military doctrine creates a basis for conduct in accordance with
the intention of the commanding officer without having to refer decisions to
a superior authority.
2. The obsession with permanence.
3. The obsession with
beauty and pursuit of happiness.
4. The belief that things have an inherent
self or an essence.
Social engineering could well be practiced through the dissemination of "doctrine" through information
As a result, we may well be
operating in a monolingual and monconceptual environment. Therefore
everything we might compliment and enhance that which we mean to oppose. The words
are a symbol of being forced into an IP discourse - not transforming
the structure, just replacing words within them.
Is the solution to reinstate Art as "Language" -and transform "Doctrine" into "Thinking"?
Ontological and Epistemological Systems:
Exploring the way we experience and
describe the world around us through the development of verbal and non-verbal
language systems. Enabling us to explore and
"map" our (local) conceptual and physical enviroment(s) -and providing
a system for the orientation
and navigation of the individual or group within that environment.
Some Words and Concepts that might need further Exploration/Definition:
(exploring preconceptions and assumptions)
In many branches of science, entropy is a measure of the disorder of a system. The concept of entropy is particularly notable as it is applied across physics, information theory and mathematics. In thermodynamics ....... it is a measure of the disorder of molecules in a system <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy>. In information theory, entropy is a measure of the uncertainty associated with a random variable
(or one who's value is unknown TB)........ A long string of repeating
characters has an entropy rate of 0, since every character is
- The change in the internal energy of a closed thermodynamic system is equal to the sum of the amount of heat energy supplied to the system and the work done on the system.
- The total entropy of any isolated thermodynamic system tends to increase over time, approaching a maximum value.
In laymens terms:
- Energy can be converted from one form to another -but not createdof destroyed
- Without (energy) input systems tend to decay
The anthopologist and perceptual
scientist Gregory Bateson once provided a classic definition for
"Information". A definition that now seems sadly forgotten in our
current "Information Age": The Wikipedia entry on Bateson <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_Bateson
> does not mention it -but in Information Ecology <http://felix.openflows.com/html/infoeco.html
> we read: "Information is not objective data, however, information
is the relation that arises within the environment,
it is the difference that makes difference (Bateson,
1972, Steps to an Ecology of Mind:
). Information results from relationships between
two otherwise meaningless pieces of data, it relates
both side of the flow to each other."
Beyond its clever wordplay -the definition is also extremely useful because it not only clearly relates to the concept of "entropy
" and the element of "uncertainty
(and its resolution) in communication -it also reminds us that
"information" requires recognisable variations in a "carrier" system as
well as a significance in the way it affects out behaviour within some
(perhaps arbitrary) system of interpertations.
When dealing with "information" we should always be aware of the implicit or explicit context that provides it with "meaning".
Organic and Inorganic:
Historically, early Western scientists
were under constant threat of being accused of witchcraft by the
Church. It seems very likely that, as a result, they were forced to
remove any concept of "animism" (internal life force) from their
scientific investigations. Physics was long seen as the "Queen of
Science" and many of the "soft" sciences have tried to emulate its
success. However, physics is the science of "dead" (inanimate) material.
Dead material is subject to decay and dispersal -while living organisms
tend to collect material and organise it in various (anti-entropic?)
Living (organic) systems seem to have the following (related) characteristics:
- The Processing of "Information" (the dfference that makes a difference) by reacting to local envrionmental conditions.
- A Feedback system -which modifies their local environment as well as modifying the organism itself
- An "Organic" tendency to create Order
- connective organisation and growth
- As opposed to "Inorganic" tendency towards Disorder
Perhaps we need to develop a whole new science that is able to deal
with "Organic" systems (whether normally concidered "alive" or
Economy and Ecology:
Normally, ecology and economy are
concidered to be in conflict with each other. However, the
interconnected nature of the global economy -and indeed "classical"
Keynsian theories suggest that economies are actually ecologies of
closely interacting processes. The recent "collapse" of the global
financial system suggests that like "living" ecologies -economic
ecologies are subject to sudden collapse too. Perhaps we could define
an "ecology" as a natural "economy" -a trully
"free market" (initially) not based on "money" and developed without
any form of (concious) economic theory.
It therefore seems likely that more than a trivial understanding of the
way natural ecologies function may be essentuial if a viable economic
system is to be created.
Economy and Energy:
It might also be worthwhile concidering the possibility of viewing the concept of economy in terms of "energy" and not
"money". Perhaps this would allow the potential integration of
"emotional energy" and "intellectual energy" as well as physical
The concept of "energy" also brings up the question of the first law of
thermodynamics in relation to economics and our definition of "wealth":
Can an economy actually increase wealth -or only distribute it (as the
first law of thermodynamics suggests -if wealth is realted to energy in
Within an "inorganic" system -it would seem that there is no way to
increase (or decrease) energy. However, perhaps the laws of "organic"
systems are different. Can synergy produce work with less energy than
individual systems would need to do the same work? Does saving energy
increase wealth? Are our current concepts of costing and accounting
(calling to economic account) actually dangerously in error?
Economy and Culture:
Although often concidered (in terms of
practical effect) to be in opposition, it seems that "culture" is
closely linked to (or is perhaps even an expression
of) local "economic" (and ecological) conditions with regards to the
use of energy. Human and animal practices often seem to be determined
in relationship to there environment in ways that relate to the use of
energy. Practices that use energy (and other recources) inneficiently
are liable to dissapear -unless these have a (perhaps not easilly
visible) "pay-off" somewhere.
Perhaps we could define "culture" as a set of conceptual and
physical "tools" constructed by various (isolated or interacting)
groups of people as a response to local conditions as an aid to
Perhaps we should also
distinguish between "nature" which is a random phenomenon and "ecology"
which is a human conceptualisation of the phenomena involved. Perhaps
there are (several) "cultural" (and financial) ecologies -as well as
If (energy based) "economics" underlies "culture" on a practical level -then perhaps
"aesthetics" underlies culture on an emotional level.
However, the relation between cultural practices and the "environment"
in which they take place means that changes in the environment (whether
intentional or unintentional -whether self-created or externally
created) will always force some kind of cultural change (evolution or
This subtle relationship between cultural practices and the environment
which generates and sustains these practices also means that societies
can easilly be "programmed" to change -simply by changing the
environment in which they operate. This is true of "sophisticated"
cultures -just as much as any other.
Perhaps we need to seriously concider the global effect on cultural
systems worldwide of the doctrine of indulgence promoted by the
advertising industry -in order to open up new markets and sell an
abundance of cheaply produced consumer goods.
Material and Immaterial Capitalism:
Originally, the word "Capital" refered
to "Capital Goods" i.e. an investment in goods that would
generate more (material or monetory) income.
Ironically (and perhaps symptomatic of the world of "Orwellian
newspeak" in which we now live -Capitalism is opposed to "Consumerism".
Keeping a pig for breeding is "Capitalism" -eating it is "Consumerism".
Not so long ago, governmental economic reports would differentiate
between "capital expenditure" (i.e. productive investment in
machines and infrastructure) and "consumer expenditure" (expenditure on
consumer goods that did not create national income).
Presumably, it was the theories of Karl Marx that equated "Capitalism"
with "Financial Capitalism" -thus confusing the issue somewhat. For
indeed, the dematerialisation of money (removing it from any
relationship with any material thing) has allowed money to develop as a
purely notional commodity with no practical value except that given to
it by the monetory (financial) system itself. This has encouraged
speculative investment in notional value -the collapse of which has
deep psychological effects -but presumably no real effect on the
material world (except in terms of our conceptual constructions).
Production and Destruction:
Traditionally, the natural tendency to reproduction exhibited by most
living organisms apparently pernits us (if we invest our grain
productively in the fields) literally, to have our cake and eat it too. Only in
the world of "dead" (entropic, mechanical) things is this not possible.
However, such "abundance" is not limited to our foodstuffs: The
organisms that prey upon us and our food have also heavilly invested in
reproducing themselves in abundance.
Perhaps the "abundance" of goods created by (automated) factories churning out goods also creates a problem:
- Who is to consume this vaste mass of factory produced products?
- How are they to be paid for if human work is made redundant by machines?
- What damage does the automated production and distribution of goods do to our physical and conceptual environment?
- What effect does the advertisng industry and its commercial doctrines have on our social and cultural way of life?
- Previously wars were fought to gain possesion of resources -are current wars required to destoy surplusses?
- Manufactured Goods (weapons)
3.0 Life as a complex Game of (physical and conceptual) Language?
Getting the "language" right:
-the words and concepts that form the basic components (alphabet) of the system
-the "grammatical" rules that define the interactions between the components
-the mappings (translations) that give meaning to the system (in deifferent ways from different perspectives)
- -basic alphabet
-grammatical interactions generating complex compounds
- -defining the elements and their proportions?
- -getting the balance right
- -exploring social grammars and their consequnces?
- -interpreting energy flows?
- Martial Arts (understanding action and reaction in a polemical dialectic)?
- Checkmate (impossiblity of making a legal move)
- Sudden Ending of the game (when is "victory" achieved?)
- Sacrifice of pawns (paradoxal losing something in order to win)
If the wrong man uses the right means then right means turn out the wrong way........
Getting the "question" right:
What do we have now?
What do we want it to be?
How achievable is this?
What's the alternative?
- How can there be freedom unless:
- The players understand the rules
- The game is fair
- The players have some control of the game
- How can one organise a fair game with so many players (with different interests)?
Getting the "game" right:
- Try thinking in terms of dynamic (interactive) "rule based grammar(s)" and not static structures
Ask questions and avoid statements (dynamic systems are liable to change)
- Explore the (potential) players and their (potential) interactions
What's supposed to happen, what actually happens -and who profits most?
What are the limits of validy -and what happens outside those limits?
What are the possibilities of constructing a "neutral" language (and logic) to explain the game honestly and fairly?
- -Conceptual Space?
- -Systems Theory?
- -Games Theory?
- -Chaos Theory?
- -New Theories?
If every manifestation is real but every representaion is false -how
then does one distinguish between a manifestation and a representation?
Trevor Batten, Manila January 2009