Writing and Movement

I haven’t indulged in a while at this point, but I was once a graffiti kid. Graffiti not in the broad sense of painting walls in some “urban” style (I did not grow up urbanly anyways), but in the sense graffiti people, “writers” as they call themselves, are very protective about: choosing some short name and putting it everywhere, “bombing” or just “writing”.

All writing, not just the graffiti kind, is very obviously somatic whenever someone writes. Writing is one of the ways in which the word is embodied and this can itself happen in many different ways. One of the most apparent and probably most relatable ways of words being inscribed in our flesh and our limbs being headlessly dictated by them is when signing our names: it is pure muscle memory. Writing as a motion becomes very visceral here, even if, or rather because, one might not think much of it. This is a sort of somatic abstraction which I like to experiment a lot with with my signature, altering the the motion itself for different appearances instead of trying to execute some visual idea. The key to distilling out that abstract motion is of course repetition, having to sign so many documents (doctors are the prime example), or in my case mostly busy hands in boring classes. Although I personally try to resist this effect to some degree, what happens here usually is that our writing becomes one big ligature, the letters lose their organizing function and are often fully unrecognizable or practically omitted. It makes complete sense that signatures by themselves move in the direction of sigils because they literally are seals.

From a qabbalist point of view this is a loss however. We are also interested in the decay of words and how they lose information and fall together in the process, but in a way which needs the letters retained, which is where graffiti becomes interesting. Although always pushed to the edge by egotistical style-maximization, graffiti writers are interested in preserving readability, because all things in graffiti serve the names. All street cred is primarily attached to the name, to the person only in so far as they are attached to the name. Names and people also do not correspond one to one: some writers often change names or have several, few only ever had one, many names belong to crews no one knows the number of members of, sometimes not even the crew members themselves. Of course there is always insider knowledge to the relation of names and people, but for many reasons the graffiti game of a city or region can never be completely comprehended. First of all because a city or region is hard to define in graffiti terms. Even when a crew is associated with a city it will want to grow outside of it, stretching it out, or on other occasions it will shrink to make claims of being “all-city” easier. Rural writers might go all-town in one night and are required to do road trips from that point onward completely ignoring what kind of region they belong to. And even when graffiti is attached to territories, when it is a means to an end of gangs or football club hooligans, these territories can, in the realm of graffiti, only be a swarm of singular instances of a name and never a bordered area. It can only be territorial in the way of wolf packs, which functionally mark their territory the same way; and not by the logic of a state, to encircle the range of a central agency. All this is not even accounting for the huge impact the internet had on the connectedness of graffiti writers.
Even if one did the impossible job of finding a closed graffiti system with comprehensible complexity, it would hardly be possible to get a holistic view of it because of the dynamics of secrecy that are inherent. Firstly because writers find themselves in a criminal position for not respecting property relations, and because of hostilities within the graffiti game itself. Sometimes tensions get so harsh among writers and crews on the level of graffiti, that people have to fear for their physical integrity. And even if unrealistically you became friends with everyone, once you arrived at that point a new pack of anonymous 14 year-olds will pop up with stolen spray cans and make your picture incomplete.

Besides all the impersonal forces that move the writers, the act of writing still remains personal in that it is the movement of an individuals body. In graffiti personality is expressed through style. Style is directly determined by the consistency of movements between units of graffiti of a writer, it is the way a writer likes to move when writing. Signatures maximize style over readability. However, in style we have not found the beacon of creative genius: although personal, style is still emergent. There are several factors in the emergence of style. First again: the name. The writer can only learn to like moves that functionally and aesthetically work with the letters that are in what they write. Furthermore: what input a writer pics up in their city, region or on the internet, which tools are accessible and preferred. And there is a wide range of tools: spray cans of different pressures and sizes (big and fast projects need big, high pressure cans), with different caps to put on them for different paint output, to suit different styles of painting, uncountable different kinds of markers, stones, screws, any sharp object really for scratching, paint in fire extinguishers and shampoo bottles, plain old paint rollers and brushes. It is easy to imagine the various ways these tools demand different movement. But a writer will usually not have one style for each tool they use. What makes it interesting that a writer might have a style dominated by straight aggressive lines when they use a marker or spray can because they started out scratching, or that another might never pick up scratching because other factors made them love round shapes which are not doable in scratching. Style affects tool-choice and tool-production, tools affects affect style. As is the condition for emergence, none of the factors work unidirectionally: Letters shape style, style shapes letters, writers are affected by their surroundings and affect their surroundings. Style emerges from these factors, emancipates itself from them and also becomes scalable. Graffiti is a rare case where a human’s movement get’s abstracted from the scale at which the body conceives of it. Skillful writers are able to execute their style on the level of their fingertips, wrist, arm and whole body.

A lot of writers have been entering the world of fine art. There are different directions for them to take, the one that interests us is the calligraphic/typographic one. The most basic difference between graffiti and calligraphy is in what is written. Graffiti hones in on a very specific string on letters, seldom longer than six letters. It explores this string on its own terms, in its own logic, to find all the frictions and resonances within the different ways of writing it. The given letters are formed to work particularly well in that specific formation. In calligraphy however all sorts of things are written. Letters are set in all kinds of relations with each other. This completely different task calls for standardization, scripts or fonts are created, making every letter work with every other letter, the whole alphabet is made uniform. This is not a personal affair anymore, it is where the art of calligraphy differentiates from simple handwriting. We are tapping into the monastic history of script, we find different schools of writing. Although emergence can not be completely ruled out, script has had a more design-heavy history. Here writing is something that is taught and learned, exists for teaching and learning and the act of writing mostly serves to copy existing texts. This explication does not serve to discredit calligraphy. Script simply maximizes for or different kind of consistency besides style: flow. As the units of writing grow in size, from single words to whole books, consistency of movement has to happen more within a unit of writing than between units of writing, which is the idea of the seal, the signature. Script maximizes legibility over personality. Instead of merging the letters together, they are broken up into their parts to make the strokes line up with each other.

Latin bible manuscript. Source Wikimedia

In graffiti flow is just as important as style. The way letters are broken up into parts is one of the first things one hears when asking to be taught graffiti, making the parts work with each other is the next step. This is sometimes proposed to be a complicated, head-heavy thing, but that is only the case when it is approached from a didactic angle. Things become simple when seen as a consistency of motion. Graffiti exists between signature and script, where one merges the letters and the other dissolves them, it holds them to their highest standard. It is the realm where two kinds of movement-consistencies become undifferentiated, where inside of the written units and their in-between coincide, work on the same plane.

PS: This post was supposed to go on a little more. When I originally wrote this draft back in April I had a couple more ideas to develop about this analysis and wanted to make more apparent what I take this to mean, into what broader ways of thinking this fits. But that is usually the part where I get unsure and struggle to make statements I can stand behind. Instead I just wanna get this out just because I need the writing-machines to start running again and feel like I need to put something out to not get clogged. So do with this what you will. I’m always super happy about feedback, and am not attached so much to any idea of mine that I don’t enjoy devastating critique.

Although I got to explicitly connect this to Qabbala, this is not numogrammatical content in the most direct way. If I actually get to put out some more writing in the future it might generally be about all sorts of things. The good thing about not ever having been consistent is that I have no audience to disappoint. Still I hope someone gets something out of this. I will not promise continuing with this line of thought but if you wonder what I think would be the next step from here, I would look at what this analysis says about Gutenberg’s printing press with movable letters and the QWERTY keyboard.


Numbers and Meaning (Part 0?)

Quite a while ago I have been asked on Twitter what 333 means to me. The problem is, that this on its own is the kind of question that spawns a myriad of further questions. Mainly: how would a number “mean” anything at all? Can it?

This has been sitting in my drafts for quite a while now and what I’m posting here is actually only half of what I have written. The other part is an attempt at making the ominous implications in this post a bit more explicit. The thing is: the more I wrote and read, the more I realized just how much of a pseud I am, and I know I claimed this blog to be a place for me to be wrong too, but I still want to save myself from some embarrassment. I haven’t given up on that part (yet?), it will definitely take me some work to make it worth your time though.

Not keeping it simple, sorry

I reject the idea of numbers symbolizing archetypal categories (see Qabbala 101 part III.: “Against Numerology”). That means I don’t see any given number as the representation of something above it or of some true underlying meaning, because numbers precede those concepts in any and every direction. Using number as a symbol does not enrich it, but reduce it. Instead of finding out what holy truths can be derived with god-given reason, erroneously seeing numbers as the consequence of these truths, numogrammatics is about finding out what numbers do to us (from the Outside etc. etc. you know the drill). But of course, to accomplish that task, our qabbalism cannot simply be about number in itself and dismiss all symbols, because that would “just” be mathematics and for finding out what numbers do to us there must be something of “us” in the methodology. An inherently productive, positive senselessness of qabbala lies within the gematria, a function mapping from words (signifiers (meaning-havers)) to numbers. This jumbling is what AQ is all about.

However, this post is about what we do when we are given a number, what the numbers make us do, what they make us think (putting it this way now, instead of “what they mean”). Now when someone asks me what 333 means to me (read: does to me), there is already a subjectivity assumed, but I do believe that I was not just asked as Utz, but as a numogrammaticist. Our model for this is, of course, the numogram. Using the numogram is what common ground we can have in this discussion, and it prides itself on being a model that is completely determined by only two givens: additive arithmetic (including its partner subtraction) and the decimal system of writing numbers. The first assumption’s validity is obvious by being deeply engrained in reality itself. The second assumption is based on the fact that decimality is so deeply engrained in us, and “emerged so triumphantly out of the soup of contingency” as I put it in my previous post. Again, we see that the number in itself is being combined with our anthropomorphic view on things, to facilitate the system’s function as a socket to plug ourselves into the numo-swarmachinic rumblings.

An example

Having studied the pandemonium it seems entirely clear what the number 54 does. We know that this is Katak/Khattak/Nal/Kao…, and we know she is the angry one of of three syzygetic lemurs in the time circuit. Her matrix entry says she is the “Desolator” and “Syzygetic Chronodemon of Cataclysmic Convergence”, we see her syzygetic rite described with following words: “Tail-chasing, rabid animals (nature red in tooth and claw)” in the pandemonium and “Coiled Fervour”, “Between burning excitement and arid tension” in the Book of Paths. But that sort of begs the question doesn’t it? Why even is it that way? You can rightfully call me a coward for choosing Kao as an example because it gives me the chance to appeal to (the authority of?) another text:

Katak’s net-span, 5::4, bridges the smallest interval and places her in the centre of the Barker Spiral. She is described variously as ‘tightly bound, coiled or knotted’, ‘wound up’ or ‘compacted’. The Cthulhu Club write of a ‘Katak effect,’ when the smallest difference (5::4) has the greatest impact.

Great Lemurs – No.1: Katak (Posted by Nick Land on August 20, 2004 03:33 AM)

This idea is illustrated very well by the way sound works:

If we have two pitched sounds, they can be more or less dissonant, have more or less tension or friction, be in tune with each other or out of tune. The graph above (source) shows the amount of that dissonance over the ratio of the frequencies of those pitches. As easy as it is to get distracted by all the other information, the point here is that dissonance is the highest when the difference between the pitches is particularly small. Two instruments playing together but not being quite in tune is katakoid through and through, the feelings that can be caused by that are the feelings that Katak causes etc. Unless deaf to outside signals of any kind, what this tension leads to is the musicians tuning their instruments. What happens now is them reaching the musical interval called unison, the “prime” (DE) or “prima” (IT), i.e. one and the same note: convergence. This also happens in the numogram with the sink current, as 5-4=1, we are led to Murmur. (BTW: a numogrammatic analysis of music theory is long overdue. I will have to write on that…)

It is in such a way that numogrammaticists want to reason about each lemur and numbers in general. Every word to describe them should be caused by information that can be found in the numogram, or number in itself. And when talking about 2, for example, it does not technically “represent” pairing, dualism and schism but instead conceptualizing the ideas of pairing, dualism and schism presupposes 2, making 2 their quasi-cause. In the same way, Katak does not archetypally represent the kind of processes described above, they instead are a katakoid becoming, if not a becoming-Katak.

The Discourse (there’s actually not that much of a discourse)

This post could be seen as very pedantic. And it’s true, maybe I’m sort of splitting hairs here, or maybe not idk. In our parts the “numerology question” is still being discussed. One side says Land (or anyone else with equal or similar positions on this issue) can talk about not doing numerology all they want, at the end of the day they still do it. The other sees the rift between the Landian conception and numerology unbridgeable. I myself do see said rift as very important to be aware of, which is why I wrote this post, but can not deny that numogrammatics does at least look a lot like numerology. The intermingle and friction across this rift is what I am interested in and if the next part of this is ever going to come out it will be about this.

I will not get mad about people saying numbers represent or mean something, first of all because it’s annoying, but also because I think it can be useful even if not technically correct. Perhaps the language of significance can be misused for our anti-metaphorical ends, the same way the schizo can use the Oedipus for their depraved ends and wipe him of their slippery surface at will.

Thoughts on General Numogrammatics

The validity of non-decimal numogrammatics appears to be something to argue about. The motivation to take off from ten to move to other places starts (at least for me) with something one might call a pure mathematicians intuition, not at all to title myself a mathematician in any sense, I just locate that impulse in that direction. That impulse to hunt down all givens for maximum generality. Striving for maximum power in your statements. How good does it feel to write that upside down A and have it be followed by the most open condition as possible! ∀ is a most addictive sigil, and I will not give it up so easily. So, being possessed by this impulse, one asks: why ten? The topic about our ten fingers shows up. Now what attitude do we have? We could say: we let ourselves be subordinated by such coincidence? we tell others we are exploring the synthetic a priori, are philosophers of the noumenal, are anti-anthro, and then stop at the boundaries of ten? Inacceptable! On the other hand, the whole idea of hyperstition, on which all of this is based anyways, is permeated by deep causality, aiônic time. From this perspective it is a problem to dismiss something on the grounds of “only” being a coincidence. In fact, one may very well go as far to say: the fact that 10 emerged so triumphantly out of the soup of contingency is enough proof that it is the only one numeracy we ought to care about. I see the conflict between decimal orthodoxy and general numogrammatics along those lines. I suspect this to invite very deep philosophical discussion, about the topics of hyperstition, critique, abstraction etc. This discussion is too big for me to conclude, in this post, and probably at all. Because of practical concerns I find myself fence-sitting this divide. Base ten is obviously very powerful and most practical, I don’t think I need to explain that to you if you have found your way here. Nevertheless breaking out of this mold can be insanely productive in it’s own way, and can just as well lead to finding more insight about what makes base ten special and worthwhile. Which brings me to another point: allowing yourself to examine and “spend time” outside of 10 does not have to take away from your conception of centrality, appreciation and use of the decimal labyrinth, it may very well enrich instead. This is why, while I accept the point of decimal centrality, I reject decimal orthodoxy. Not to take away from base ten, but simply against orthodoxy. Because, as noted above, it posits that for some reason I ought not to undertake this or that endeavor with numbers, injecting morality into my lovely numogrammatics, which I do not appreciate. Avoiding the fall trap of reterritorializing into my own counter-morality, and because this is just some blog post, I will for now let myself be content with rejecting decimal orthodoxy on the basis of personally finding it very boring, and thinking it misses out on cool stuff.

With all that said, let’s examine the practice of general numogrammatics a bit. There are, as far as I can tell, two directions from which non-decimal numeracies can be approached. Firstly: finding hidden structure in systems that are already numerical but not decimal. For example: the hexadecimal numogram. Hexadecimal numeracy is interesting because it is an interface, a portal between us and binarily digital technical machines. This rests on the fact that computational machines are not only on the base level of calculation working on powers of two, due the binary system, used for it’s electronical clarity. Computers are also structured on the macro level on powers of two, their whole organism is based on them, as above so below. They worked themselves up from commercially available 8-bit machines, over 16 and 32 up to 64, inevitably so, through concerns of memory allocation and efficiency, to say it in broad strokes. Hexadecimal is, as a power of two, therefore in a literal sense in harmony with binary operations and their organization, with one hexadecimal digit perfectly fitting four bits, so doubly binary: base 32 would not be doubly binary and fit five bits, which would be rather useless on the macro scale. The lower-next and higher-next options for such doubly binary numeracies are base 4 and base 256. Base four would be a rather tedious way to interface with binary machines and honestly not a considerable upgrade from simply reading the raw binary data. Base 256 would simply be illegible. So hexadecimal numeracy strikes a good balance between compression and readability, making it the optimal interface for binary to human mediation, holding the potential for giving us access to insight whose importance might be measured by the importance of computers.
If one is interested in AQ, one IMHO already admits to accepting non-decimal numeracy. Since its beginning as an extension of the hexadecimal logic of using letters as digits, expanding the digital method to the realm of the whole neoroman alphabet, AQ has always been an interface for base 36 numerics. In fact, applying the AQ gematria is nothing more less than plexing the enormous numerical value that words tend to have in base 36, and this is very much in favor, if not key to, its appeal, if you ask me. Accordingly, I think the alphanumeric numogram should be subject to much more analysis, given how much time we spend on AQ.

The other direction from which to approach non-decimal numeracies is within the practice of numerizing non-numerical systems, making entities or objects or whatever correspond to zones. The CCRU showed many systems to already correspond to the decimal labyrinth, which is the absolute best, don’t get me wrong. Perhaps every system can be conceptualized through the (decimal!) numogram, and I enjoy and support that practice. But when mapping other structures onto it, I think we must consider degrees of shoehorning, and perhaps also consider the possibility of an N-gram in another base just fitting better and being more useful.

A notion I found very interesting is that posited by Vexsys in her introductory book named after its topic: “Time Sorcery”, available here. On the topic of general numogrammatics she references an article about an advance in number theory concerning the distribution of prime numbers. She writes:

Basically, this article is about experiments involving mapping primes onto a finite field. It uses the finite field to make claims about the infinite number line. That means that our work with the numogram, or any other #-gram system for that matter, is at the very least mathematically solid. We can discover things about the patterns in one particular finite field and apply that understanding, at least somewhat, to the whole. We can switch back and forth between bases and glean different points of view while still applying everything we learn to the same general thing: reality.

Vexsys, Time Sorcery p.24

Besides agreeing with the sentiment of this approach, this is a thought worth investigating because, although Vexsys seems to be more careful than me about taking this connection literally, general numogrammatics is intensely connected to the study of finite fields and modular arithmetic. That is due to the operation of plexing to one digit being a modified mod 9 function in base 10 (a modified mod B-1 in base B, of course). The modification here being the plex-equivalency 9=0, or generally B-1=0. This means that for example the value that a number in base ten plexes to is equivalent to its least significant digit in base 9 representation, exchanging 9 for 0, or in the other direction, that the right-most digit of a number in base 10 is equivalent to the value it plexes to in base 11, exchanging 0 for A. Based on this friction between adjacent bases one might think of a friction-based incremental approach to interpreting the demonic functions between different systems.

There is much more to write about the mathematics of general numogrammatics, and especially its implications for time sorcery, but that will have to be at another time. If I will be able to crystalize some of my loose notes into a somewhat cogent piece, this blog will be the space to look for it.

That said: Welcome to my blog! I hope to post things here that are too elaborate for twitter but not so big and important that I couldn’t just post them. I’d like for this place to stay informal, a place for me to also be wrong sometimes, and just catch some ideas before they float away. In the hopes that they produce even a little numogrammatical discourse maybe?? When working on numo stuff I usually end up not wanting to make it public until I’m sure I have excavated everything there is to excavate. That leads to me not releasing anything because these rabbit holes are practically bottomless. This blog is to break with such anality. So I would love for you, dear reader, not to hesitate to tell me what you think about the things I write and to tell me why I’m wrong, ask me questions and all that. You can connect to me via my twitter, be it in my mentions or DMs, or add a comment under this post.