Preemptive Glossary for a Techno-Sonic Control Society (with lines of flight) Pt. 3


PSYCHEDELIC ADJACENCIES are generated via the strategic imbrication of overtly incongruent but subliminally (genetically) congenial signals. Such formations are inevitably spawned within a colloidal dispersion in which perpetually recombinant surfaces enter into temporary electrical relationships with one another by virtue of haphazard temporal and spatial proximities. The colloidal model characterizes the contemporary distribution of auditory fragments within a given environment (most often an overlap of physical, online, actual, virtual dimensions) in which adjacencies are convulsively spawned. Deleuze’s baker’s dough analogy is fitting: two extreme points on a slab become adjacent after a mathematically-determinable number of folds. Immediately after 9/11, a minority of Americans were inclined to ascribe co-conspiratorial responsibility to Saddam Hussein; a status upgraded to seventy per cent in the weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq following copious media efforts at engineering adjacencies (Atta, Al Qaeda, Prague, Hussein, etc.), without explicitly declaring inviolable causal linkage. Terms need only hang together in the same general space-time for factual coalescence to occur. (Psyche + delos = made manifest to the mind). Phonoegregoric propaganda understandably deplores the waning of attention and concentration characteristic of colloidal capitalism (a lachrymose pining for an empty category considering William James’ reminder of how focus and distraction are perpetually complicating each other), fearful of an uncontrolled festering of the viral powers of psychedelic adjacency. Indeed, a state of permanent distraction—the primary perceptual modality of the 21st century—unlocks unprecedented capacities to induce synchronicities, making effective previously unsuspected correlations. A metastatic spread of such entities may indeed constitute an indigestible challenge to the stealthy incorporation of phonoegregoric earworms, given the unstable fracturing and resynthesizing typical of mutant rhythmanalyses.

PREEMPTIVE SELF-DISTORTION: A timbrally-leveraged property of sonic sigils marshalling anadumbrative ducking from resistant re-appropriation (wresting). Audio branders initially developed PSD to defeat issues glaringly exposed by the 1989 release of John Oswald’s Plunderphonics album in which the genetic structures of iconic pop were subjected to disfiguring manoeuvres of urgent concern to the corporate phonoegregore, fearing disastrous and potentially irreversible image-damage. (This explanation runs contrary to the general consensus that the records were destroyed purely for reasons of copyright violation.) Given the strategic move away from the jingle modality in the wake of sensory overload and the increasing unreliability of time (see chronophobia), branding researchers speculated that if they endowed their sigils with capacities to absorb distortion from all sides with no loss of integrity—chiefly through the timbral engineering of a unique soundprint—any future attempt at détournement by phonoinsurgents could be preemptively forestalled. Flexibility is the post-Fordist mot d’ordre. PSD recasts a common technique among institutions of control, involving the integration of plausibly comprehensive internal critique and dissent into a corporate image, multiple alibis conspiring to disguise a severely curtailed range of possibilities, such that resistance is promptly declawed. The perception of sufficiently legitimate options encourages the continued occlusion of the operating system (normalized, therefore inaccessible to direct engagement) within which each choice has already been predetermined (see cyberaffordance). Teilhard de Chardin: “All real integration is based on prior differentiation. (…) Only union within diversity is creative. It increases complexity, and brings about higher levels of organization.”

ANADUMBRATION is the process that effects the perpetual postponement of any unifying perceptual paradigm through the febrile shuffling of parameters. Adumbration is a term developed by philosopher-phenomenologist Edmund Husserl denoting the continuous accumulation of various perspectives (shadings = abschattungen (Ger.)) of an object into a multi-dimensional mental consolidation. Appropriating Husserl’s theory by détourning it (for highly practical purposes), English artist Norman Wilkinson originated at the tail end of World War I one of the most notorious applications of anadumbration via dazzle camouflage, a technique involving the painting of stripes of contradictory size and directionality on a vessel, such that the opponent’s ability to gather a coherent grasp of its coordinates (size, speed, heading, etc.) is accordingly impeded. Any attempt to defeat a listener’s propensity to terminate perception when confident that an experience has been identified, categorized, captured is invariably enhanced by the use of anadumbrative manoeuvres. Indeed, the un-gestalting deviations of anadumbration forestall any preemptive extraction from a system by preventing conscious seizure of its modalities; ungraspable from an extrinsic vantage point, their mysterious implications cannot be comfortably integrated qua dismissed. System immanence is guaranteed by a rapid containment of discrepant surfaces powered by the efficient operations of the Freudian secondary process, by which a subject backtracks into a rational second-order justification from an incoherent first impression, summarily deleted. Anadumbration is a chronocrypsic operation, tasked with time camouflage, asymmetrically imbricating incongruent temporalities while donating integumentary impressions of a wholly illusory kind. Dazzle camouflage breaks up surface continuities via differential blending—collapsing portions of the figure into the (back)ground—a technique that also works effectively in the time domain, by abutting inconsistent, incomplete iterations of a given material which increasingly destabilize the constitution of an accumulated ground in memory.

The RECONTOURING MACHINE is populated by an inalienably local (therefore provisional) set of deviational functions feverishly tasked with the de-emphasis qua defusing of a resilient earworm, especially of algorithmic, superearworm variety (see primers). This machine discretizes the melodic, harmonic, rhythmic components of an earworm in order to calculate iterated deviations, peculiarly calibrated to donate a subliminal impression of change whilst preserving coherent contour-identity—a fractal positioning, in other words, erratically vacillating between familiarity and paramnesia (déjà entendu). The recontouring machine operates in real-time via deaf recording procedures, which segregate components within a given textual totality from one another, capturing them in strict indifference to adjacent context in order to curtail the temptation to produce deliberately memorable gestalts. Recontouring machines have been known to backfire, chiefly from insufficiently rigorous deviation design: an anomaly that too drastically exceeds parametric boundaries risks becoming a new object of obsession for the listener, unaware that an earworm is about to ingress. (See incongruity index).

In a FRACTAL LISTENING experience, an affective intuition of non-repetition is perpetually undercut by a cognitive ratification of identity. It can be thought as an overheated form of structural listening, a modality privileged by Adorno—increasingly difficult to materialize in the wake of pervasive schizophonia—which organizes listening according to a constant push and pull between parts of a given structure and the latter’s gradual, temporally-irreversible consolidation. Such a framework, mobilized by constant dialectical interchange within linear evolution, reflected a more general conception of life as an ongoing narrative, in which one’s self-situation depends on the ability to form continuities, establish polarities. Such auto-fashioning requires for its continuing potency a foundational stability hard to come by within post-Fordist precarity, which dissolves permanent horizons into expedient, expendable presents, anxious instants insufficiently energetic to foment productive bonding. By contrast, the fractal experience shuttles the listener between local specifics (deviations with various capacities to be registered as deviations) and an accumulating shadowy shape-shifting totality, constantly updated by information from this transient matter, forever deferring its termination into a graspable gestalt. The incapacity to categorically identify ongoing recursion within the convulsions of febrile unresolution almost inevitably engenders temporal anomalies, folds, a general buckling of teleological integrity, and an acceleration of uncontrollable interpenetrations of past, present, and future; all the while, a virtual field of potential stealthily expands, unceasingly leveraging the perception of change. Any isolated iteration is thus summarily demoted to transient status, lacking the resilience to firmly establish itself. This modality takes into account the inevitable process by which repetition pressures incongruity to reverse into new forms of congruity (through a gradual ablation of idiosyncrasy); it therefore must remain constantly on the move. (See chronoportation, anadumbration).

PHANTOM SCAN: Pathology proper to individuals living in a realm of electrical reproduction. It refers to the autonomic, involuntary conjuring of a phantom remote control accompanied by requisite bodily movements in a situation when retrospective (rewind) or prospective (fast-forward) approaches to a temporal object are inaccessible (e.g. wishing to rewind a movie playing live on television—though this example is outdated in a culture of cable systems with built-in recording capacities). One suspects that eventual permanent access to temporal shuttling will consign the phantom scan to history. A related pathology involves the triggering of similar autonomic / bodily reflexes when confronted with a situation of temporal shuttling (rewind, fast-forward, glitching) in a situation which cannot be controlled (e.g. a sudden stutter on a live broadcast fosters the urge to correct the situation before the futility of such intervention becomes cognitively clear).

The opposite of technoablation (which occults the introduction of novelty), the INCIPIENCE EFFECT (TECHNOINTENSIFICATION) stems from technological procedures that foster a sense of newness amidst generalized stasis. The incipience effect requires temporary unlatching from a sonic territory (via cut-out) in order to lubricate stealthy reentry via an unsuspected portal. The effect of starting something again, making a new beginning (especially after the sudden rupture of a previous iteration), provides a temporary shock that occults repetition. The effect derives its potency from a concerted study of the phenomenon of cryptomnesia, in which something memorized is experienced as new on recollection.

OVERATTENUATION consists of an excessive application of smoothing modes arising from a misevaluation of a culture’s normalization of incompatibility. Consider its archetypal implementation in Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010). Any fear of alienating viewers with an endless proliferation of contradictory adjacent stimuli betrays disconnection from the contemporary norm of unremitting psychedelic overload, in which the monumental and the trivial collapse into an undifferentiated flow, accelerated into equivocation. Unaware that rapid-fire editing and non-linear abutment have long ago attained normative status—the rate of disruption isorhythmically tuned to the viewer’s attentional capacities—the artist hired a sound designer to equalize qua normalize the gain of each audio track, ensuring uneventful acoustical flow from one scene to another, expelling in the process all incidental sound matter that might momentarily rouse the viewer from hypnosis, replacing the offending deletions with newly recorded foley effects. Such gauche overstepping ultimately foregrounds the nakedly corrupt, temporally-regulatory machinations at play, serving as a reminder that any successful indoctrination is well advised to actively incorporate the techno-perceptual modalities of its era, lest its predatory manoeuvres be summarily outflanked.

– Couroux