Some quotes I like:
I don’t believe there is such a thing as postmodernism. It’s exhausted. We truly need a complete new thing, and [Deleuze and Guattari’s] A Thousand Plateaus is the direction. Those guys are fifty or sixty years ahead of everyone else. You read it at first and you think you’re reading poetry: “Metals are the consciousness of the planet.” Get out of here, what the fuck is that? Then you read about metallic catalysts, how in a way they are like probing heads that unconsciously accelerate certain reactions and decelerate certain others. They allow the exploration of an abstract chemical space by probing and groping in the dark. And you realize those two are right.
Chris Langton at Los Alamos later set out to classify all possibly cellular automata – which basically means abstract spaces with many dimensions – depending on how many rules they have. He discovered that there’s a range, a magic region if you will, where your cellular automata game will develop all the unpredictable patterns that the Game of Life developed. If your rules are too rigid, nothing interesting will happen. If they are too loose, nothing interesting will happen. But if they are in the middle region – what they call the edge of chaos – all kinds of organizing processes will happen.
The metaphor they use is solid, liquid, gas. If the system is solid, too crystallized, its dynamics are completely uninteresting. If it’s gaseous, it’s also uninteresting – all you have to do is take averages of behavior and you know what’s going on. Liquids have a lot more potential, with all kinds of attractors and bifurcations. Now what they’re coming to believe is that the liquid state in nature – not just actual liquids, but liquidity in the abstract sense of being not too rigid or too loose – these liquid systems “poised on the edge of chaos” are natural computers.
One of the things that amazes me is that the Himalayas – which people think of as the paradigm of the stable – are still moving up one millimeter a year because India is still clashing with Central Asia. They’re a ripple in the surface of the Earth. We cannot conceive of a clash that would last millions of years – our time frame is too limited. Imagine an observer with a time-scale so large that he could see this clash. He wouldn’t even see us. Species to him would seem like vast amounts of bio-mass in constant change. He would see evolution. Everything that matters to evolution happens across millennia. That observer would see species mutating and flowing. He would probably worship flows – unlike us, who, because of our very, very tiny time-scale of observation, tend to worship rocks.
Psalm 78:35, “And they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer.” So yeah, I think DeLanda’s on to something.
I’m about half-way through DeLanda’s 1000 Years of Nonlinear History, I’ll post my notes when I’m done, but so far DeLanda’s thought is very interesting and very far ahead of most everyone else.