Our all too human instinct and reflex is for the construction of system boundaries, gradients of definition, of adaptive frameworks of differentiation and models as metrics of distance and duration. In what ways is the drawing of lines, grids, matrices, referential networks and complex symmetries upon the shifting sands of experience as memory actually always and already also an erasure and a forgetting?
If the boundary definitions of any one artefact, entity or system are themselves always arbitrary as contingent and dependent upon that which notionally exists beyond themselves, then those things are composed in an essential way of the distinctions between themselves and their various antitheses. A thing, that is, becomes quite explicitly a function of that which it is not.
In many cases this is at least a superficially inconsequential matter in regards to the presence of an artefact in the world. Tables and chairs at their most simple level as abstracted far beyond the profound mysteries of matter and mass are simply unresponsive instances of material facts, words – as it were – without meaning. When these things are considered as the consequence of much deeper threads of entangled interdependence we come to see that what they represent in our embodied minds is, again, the dimensionless liquid of a property quite substantially less determinate than the material boundaries we project upon them.
At this level in which common facts ascend into the mental abstractions and effervescing neurocortical symmetries of which our minds (and lives) are composed, we can infer that the borderless essence of languages of difference and technologies of information are really quite ubiquitous. As some mischievously irreducible function of entropy and change, it is far easier to break than to make a(ny) thing but there is also a central pivot and mystery to acknowledge. That is – even the simplest of definitions by which we assert meaning, significance and the inflection of purpose or influence in the world – these are all as much an unseating (an apophasis)as a saying, a forgetting and a remembering.
As we layer the depths of sedimentary self-validation, we simultaneously undermine the certainty this procedure quite natively seeks. In reflexuvely defining things and ourselves, we are unwriting ourselves from time and this, counter-intuitive and resolutely discomforting as it may be, is also the essence of time. This is a question of a referential dependency and ontological dimensionality so vast and complex that it is only by entering into itself in this way that it comes to perceive that its essence and individuating difference is utterly dissipative and indeterminate. It is an act that erases itself as a necessary fact of its own inscription in the world.
If a thing is what it is as a fractal function of that which it is not, it is empty. Self is also (and could only ever be) not-self.
Related: The Nonexistence of Chairs