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What is emile on Anarchist news dot org talking about?

+7 votes
I am intrigued with emile but I have no idea what the fuck he is ever talking about. What is emile on Anarchist news dot org talking about?

For those that don't know what I'm asking about:

I see emile refer to Mach often. From what I know Mach was a physicist. I don't understand how Mach or theoretical physics relates to MAKE TOTAL DESTROY
asked Sep 24, 2012 by anonymous

2 Answers

+1 vote
I'm still trying to figure it out a lot of the time, not necessarily the fault being Emile's, but they often use a kind of metaphysical-phsyics language to discuss theoretical concepts, but while often critiquing the western scientific worldview, what they call "relational understanding".  They recently posted the following on A-News but its a pretty good explanation of where theyre comin from:
"What is ‘relational understanding’?

My writing, for example, is couched in ‘relational understanding’ which differs from ‘rational understanding’ in a manner discussed by Ernst Mach using the metaphor of ‘figure and ground’. Rational understanding is in terms of the dynamics of figures; i.e. it is in terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’. Relational understanding acknowledges that figure and ground [matter and space, inhabitant and habitat] are in conjugate relation, as in the case of a hurricane [figure] and the atmospheric flow-space it gathers in [ground]. Mach points out that PHYSICAL REALITY is where “the dynamics of the habitat/ground are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants/figures at the same time as the dynamics of the inhabitants/figures are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat/ground.” [‘Mach’s principle’].

Our standard way of discussing/understanding dynamics IN WESTERN CIVILIZATION [i.e. not in aboriginal and buddhist and vedic approaches to understanding] is to reduce dynamics to ‘what figures do’ where ‘figures’ are understood as ‘things-in-themselves’. For example, we know that a hurricane is a figure that is in conjugate relation with the atmospheric flow space [ground] that it gathers in [the figure is a ‘dimple in the flow’], but for convenience we impute all of the authorship of the dynamic to the 'figure' and we say that; ‘Katrina is intensifying and growing larger; ... Katrina is moving north towards the Gulf Coast; ... Katrina is wreaking destruction on New Orleans;... Katrina is dissipating.’.

Essentially, our habit or ‘convention’ of convenience is to mentally superimpose an absolute space and time reference frame over the ‘figure’ and describe what the figure does relative to an absolute frame, rather than dealing with the complexity of its being a dynamic ‘dimple’ in the dynamic ground, rather than a ‘thing-in-itself’ in empty space with ‘its own internal process driven and directed development and behaviour.

Since we reduce ourselves and biological organisms in general in this manner, this reduction we build into our language/discourse has a profound influence on how we see ourselves and the world; i.e. it has a profound influence on ‘what is reality’ to us. [This is discussed by Sapir and Whorf and is termed ‘the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis’].

That’s the gist of difference between ‘relational understanding’ which acknowledges the conjugate figure/ground relation, and ‘rational understanding’ which reduces dynamics to ‘what things-in-themselves do’.

What you are ‘detecting’ is that my comments are in terms of ‘relational understanding’ instead of the usual ‘rational understanding’.

One of the ramifications here is that ‘hierarchy’ follows from ‘rational understanding’ or ‘thing-in-itself based understanding’ but not from ‘relational understanding. For example, as soon as one imposes ‘thing-in-itself’ status on ‘figure’ one must assume that its behaviour derives from its own internal processes; i.e. it must have its own ‘internal direction’ or ‘internal management’ of its behaviour. It must have an internal centre of control [management] as well as operational components to achieve behaviour [workers].

In the relational view, for example, the fertile valley [‘land of opportunity’] beckons and someone starts tilling the soil and someone else joins in and starts planting and someone builds some tools for the harvesting and someone else builds a grindstone to make some flour from the grain and a community farming operation ‘gathers’ RELATIONALLY in the general flow of life. The evolutionary drive is a combination of ‘epigenesis’ [outside-inward ground-to-figure orchestration by the opening of spatial possibility] and ‘genesis’ [inside-outward figure-to-ground blossoming of assertive potentialities].

NOW, if we lift out all the little wriggling creatures in this ‘community farming operation’ and hold them up in the air against a blank background we can apply ‘analytical inquiry’ and monitor what each participant is doing and how the multiple participants coordinate their activities to produce farm products. With this ‘description’ in hand, and thanks to the invention of money and wages and the concept of ‘paid labour’, we can install a ‘manager’ to ‘give voice’ to the description of activities, along with a bunch of workers that he can assign to the various tasks and, voila, a factory-farm based on the dynamics of figures, out of the context of the dynamics of ground. We can plunk this factory farm operation down anywhere we like. All that’s needed is a bag of money to purchase a manager and some workers. Of course we did cheat the people out of their own free association and their building of a relation with the land and with one another.

What’s the point? The point is that analytical inquiry or rational intellection orients solely to ‘figures’ out of the context of ‘ground’ and gives a view of dynamics in the one-sided terms of ‘what things-in-themselves do’. From the point of view of analytical inquiry or ‘rational understanding’, the ‘community farming operation’ and the ‘factory farm operation’ are identical and produce the same results. But from the point of view of relational understanding, what has gone missing is the relationship between the ‘system’ of the farm operation and the ‘suprasystem’ of fertile valley, seasons, climate etc. the ‘system’ is included in [the ‘systems sciences/Ackoff’ call this ‘synthetical inquiry’]. Furthermore, this relation between suprasystem and system or between dynamic ground and dynamic figures provided the orchestrating/organizing force which, in the factory farming operation is replaced by a ‘manager-worker’ organizing force. There was no ‘boss’ in the community farming operation [there was shared leadership] and everyone was there on their own volition rather than because they were following a trail of money/wages.

Hierarchy and the leader-follower split follows from reduction of relational understanding of dynamics in terms of the conjugate figure-ground relation [physical reality] to rational understanding of dynamics in the convenient but over-simplified one-sided terms of the dynamics of figures."
answered Sep 24, 2012 by jingles (2,260 points)
+3 votes
I'm glad I found this question. This is only a partial expression (my $.01?) of what I perceive.
There's a quote of Einstein's which despite its perceived tiredness I think is apt in reading emile's posts on @news: "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

I feel emile is pointing this out on a very deep level, particularly if 'make total destroy' is based in the same worldview as that which has made-the-total-destruction, the logic(s) of submission, we face everyday as unquestioned technophilia, determinism, progress, reductionism within which 'self' is understood as a localized object wherein power originates. If 'make-total-destroy' remains yet another expression of the very same conditions anarchists fight, then the results will be more of the same.

Mach's principle (roughly), that the dynamics of participants (you, I, that oak, this cat, etc) condition the dynamics of the space they are included in while simultaneously the space of inclusion condition the participants, is a recognition of an old, inclusionary worldview which most, if not all, peoples were habituated. By 'habituated' I'm indicating more a sense of the wholeness of 'habitat' than simply a measured routine. The sense of self is far more one of a whirl in moving water than a particular, localized, self-powering, thing in empty space.

This challenges our very language, perception and worldview within which many of our deepest notions of morality, evaluations of 'good' and 'evil,' self-responsibility, accountability are grounded. It may be obvious that not only current  institutions and power dynamics come into question, but also any 'alternative' blueprints for future activity and social relations based upon the same fucking cartographic representations will as well. The latter would simply be...insanity.

emile simply asks, as far as I can tell, that we look, listen, and open ourselves to that which is closest to us, the dynamism, flow,  and interdependence of fluid-forms we misread currently as separable 'beings (things)' in empty, unqualified space. Also, learning to speak in ways which open the possibility for the re-emergence (though different than before) of what sustained our 'kind' for far longer than any 'civilized' views have. An increase of verbs, for instance.

This language may come out as clumsy, like a new-born foal, within our current mode of 'English' which expresses an ever increasing fragmentation of independent 'things' through nounification in order to produce, exploit, and dominate all forms of moving expression by way of idealizing what 'they could/should be' according to the most common characteristics shared (as 'species,' for example). What this has fostered, and continues to foster, is a belief in which our ideals and valuations are primary and should be considered over the relational dynamism within which 'we' have no choice in participating and even suicide offers no sanctuary.

At the end of the proverbial day we who desire the dynamism we loosely name 'anarchy' have to ask ourselves if our current language/worldview can speak to those needs/desires. How does, if it all, the subject-verb-predicate structure dictate the force of those desires?  How does our notion of 'cause' as an independent occurrence stifle, if at all, any real change in our conditions? In sum, I think this partly describes what 'emile' is talking about and I feel it's very important if not always easy to read.


edit for grammar and ease of reading.
answered Jul 5, 2015 by AmorFati (7,440 points)
edited Jul 5, 2015 by AmorFati
im really interested in reading this said article, but the link doesn't take me to it, could you direct me to it more directly, or describe the name of the article, i can;t find it through a few combos of google search

honestly, the best way to read 'emile's' writings is to look at @news almost daily since they (seemingly) scrub their site.

here's some of the latest emile: http://anarchistnews.org/content/oxi-means-attack-or-how-scare-international-bourgeoisie-101

but, really emile's writing is pretty consistent if not always easily decipherable for many.
i was more interested in the specific post the questioner was commenting on, the one about physics and shit, make-total-destroy
"said article" is entirely vague (and posting it after AF's comment is confusing); i don't think the OP was referring to an article but to emile's comments (as exemplified in the link they posted).

tl/dr: follow the link, look for comments by emile.

emile is more of a commenter, but has written at least one article. 

i find that emile actually has some interesting stuff to say (at least some of the time). but their way of expressing themselves (at least on @news) is usually far too verbose and academic (in some vague way) in flavor for my taste, and that often gets in the way of my enjoying/appreciating (or even finishing) what they have written. i know at least a half dozen others who have a similar take on it.

when i can get through their writing, i often find nuggets of affinity.
funky@, i can understand where you're coming from. i feel a large part of it may be that emile's trying to communicate a way of seeing and speaking our world through a language (english/subject-verb-predicate languages) wholly unsuited to that worldview. in some ways i see analogous to what merleau-ponty was trying to do in french.