Issue #53 June 2022
Formalization is our only weapon against time, should we need one. The act of formalization is to fix certain elements, and create a static distribution. It works because movement needs its hinge, it fulcrum, and even though the hinge itself is alive with the movement of what hinges upon it, we can posit a point in the hinge, right at the center, that remains fixed, which gives the hinge its power, and determines the movement of what is hinged. Take for example a map. Anything that moves has no business being on a map, even though we don’t have any issues redrawing them, as long as it moves along our predefined axes. A map orients us by placing us at an ideal point on a surface entirely populated by the ‘around-which’ we and everything else moves. That’s why maps are comforting, and also their design so fraught.
The only issue with them, and this entire procedure of formalization, is that everything that matters moves. Every crisis and situation is local, non-ideal, empirical. That’s the sting of them. Their movement does not merely displace the borders, like in a trench war, but forces us to reinvent the very process of drawing the map, to question the seemingly eternal centers that pretended to take the rightful distribution into their hands.
But what of a mobile formalization? This would be a map that would be rewritten with each movement, shuffling like the topographical cross-sections of a Klein bottle. Intersecting and impossible strata tracing overlapping and bisecting territories. Such a map would tell you not so much where you are, but, rather, where you can go, what is now possible at any juncture. An I-Ching. A compass that always points the way, but never stops spinning. Such a device sounds positively Carroll-esque, but is perfectly familiar: the eye is such a contraption. But only if the eye isn’t formalized again into a fixed relation to its own “hinge”, ourselves, can it open the possibility of other, non-human, non-subjective ways of perception.