Accelerating Frames of History

This moving moment in history (or at least in the diminutive human fraction and experience of that much vaster context and far deeper chronology), carrying its own momentum as it does, also structures itself by an implicit internally extensible logic of negation and structural incompleteness. The relative frequency or aperture of the accelerating frame of living memory, technological sophistication and symbolic relevance is a diminishing cycle and period. The amplitude and depth of complexity of the technological moment and moving frame of reference expands synchronous with a narrowing of frequency which indicates acceleration. There is a direct ratio and relationship between the diminishing frequency and the expanding amplitude; there is also an underlying symmetry by, through and along which this process propels itself.

The moving frame, having moved, drags itself ever onwards…


The Boundaries of Logic, Abstraction and Knowledge

Matters of social, cultural, psychological or technological differentiation are more often a consequence of arbitrary decision than of any intrinsic academic or implicit logical distinction. The ontological methods by which object or entity labelling, value-attribution or analysis occur are generally also closely aligned to an underlying mechanical or algorithmic and sequential process of thought. Those objects of analysis which find themselves most readily and transparently dissected, reproduced, reassembled and (as concepts or constrained and defined information entities) communicated hold a special and privileged place in the taxonomy and logical structure of our reality.


The thought process captured by an “exploded diagram” view is that replication of an abstraction of linear and mechanical logic. The visual order and sequential assembly decompresses the structure of an entity, process or system in ways which mirror the grammar of language and thought: it is visible, differentiated and provides meaning because every part of the whole possesses clear functional purpose. Even where the purpose of a sub-component is not immediately obvious, a degree of trust in the overall rationale of functional purpose appears warranted. The irremediable logic of contextual relevance provides certainty that this system or entity considered as a whole is unlikely to possess redundancy in the way that organic systems commonly continue to bear material properties no longer apposite to their context.


Further on the topic of differentiating organic and mechanical (or irreducibly algorithmic and logical) systems, it seems that the mental visualisation of a material system composed of manufactured or planned components and sub-systems possesses a fundamental difference in kind, under consideration, than does an organic or living system. An exploded view diagram of a gun, a typewriter, a car, a jet plane or a city has existence as a mental concept in a way characteristically alternative to a fly, frog, a tree, a forest or an integrated Global ecosystem. Inorganic configurations of material components avail themselves of mental visualisation, reorientation and an associated conceptual or teleological rotation in ways which organic or living systems do not.


A living system, specifically, manifests such a radical interdependence between its component sub-systems and orientation and interpenetration towards its broader historical or material context that it can not in any comprehensive way avail itself of the linear proposal endemic to reductive algorithmic or (a purely) sequential logical analysis. There are far too many caveats, exceptions and suspended definitions implicit in the mental model (not to mention – the manifest reality) of a living or complex emergent organic system to find any direct route to capturing or modelling the system in any logic of control and teleology such as that with and through which we generally think and communicate.


The logic of language, narrative thought, explanation and communication has emerged as something of a probabilistic inevitability from the material world. This logic finds itself poorly equipped as a method by which to represent or communicate the sophisticated complexity of living systems such as those that bear the rational burden of seeking existential advantage (or individual and collective Self improvement) through the application of that logic. This is, among other things, an indication of the critical importance of intellectual creativity and authentic innovation. While the ongoing process of refinement towards comprehensive analysis (and explanatory synthesis) of both biological and non-biological natural systems represents an important requirement for our continuing and sustainable scientific and technological development, there exist deep conundrums within the narrative logic of thought and communication which make this an exceptionally difficult task.


Logic is of reality but does not contain it.


An Invention of Imperfection ?

The invention of imperfection: the difference upon which product marketing can be hung and through which target-audience differentiation can be asserted as gender-inflected or sociological significance. This is a source of psychosocial entropy-as-insecurity from which profit or economic advantage can, for better or for worse, be entrepeneurially obtained.

Imagine a world in which body odour was not demonised and exorcised through application of chemical interdiction; granted – not a pleasant concept from this side of the corporeal, chemical and historical facts. Coping with unpleasant smells is very likely akin to developing thick skin on the soles of one’s feet by regularly walking barefoot; common irritants become trivial.


A clever advertising method using the substitution of senses; does this play on insecurity?

An entire grammar and rules-based logic of odour-ranking may have emerged (in an alternative, deodorant-free, world), generating its own unique and olfactory cultural niche: a symbolic economy in which proactive refinement of the sense of smell could provide both financial and sociological advantage. The long march of biological and evolutionary history, having equipped us with contextualised and survival-oriented olfactory senses and their refined perceptual instincts, finds itself in this sensory domain – suppressed.

The shortest form of technological solution is generally that of negation. It is in the essential and axiomatic logic of both communication and technology more generally to seek advantage through reduction, negation, compression. Even where we add, aggregate and gather – the embodied value of that collection or constellation of entities, artefacts or concepts is invariably in the way that it provides acceleration or aspirational simplicity via compression.

The logical principle of negation is in this sense foundational to any system of complex self-reference undergoing relentless and accelerating metamorphosis. The interpretation of unperfumed body odour as being an undesirable expression (of bodily presence) is merely the semantic and superficial layer of an underlying, culturally and sociologically automated tendency towards compression in information encoding and transmission. Any globally-considered or notionally self-enclosed information and communications space undergoing recursive hyper-inflation does so first logically and structurally before appearing at a semantic or cultural layer of meaning and interpretation.


Does a cultural norm follow or prefigure the arrival of an economic niche ?

The only fear I smell here is that of a manufactured and socially-engineered product development team chained between oscillating horses on the carousel of mandatory innovation and product differentiation. The slippery slope of business requirements for innovation in diminishing, accelerating cycles and spirals produces opportunity for the insertion of novelty and creative thinking: perhaps mocha or chocolate cake scented deodorant could become a viable product-line ?

In as much as human beings live and express themselves through the cultural, social and economic world of their existence, they are also constructed by it.  The choices and methods through which self-identity and psychological individuation are performed or cultivated are almost exclusively (and in a variety of ways) pre-fabricated, even where they are notionally new or unique.  Culture reinvents itself through human choice: humans beings are the “choice machines” which fuel the engines of economy and technology.


Fragrance and olfactory interdiction: an idea on the move.