catacomber (catacomber) wrote,

MAssumi and the end of PoMo

Brian Massumi writes of virtuality with similar connotations of Levy and Deleuze. It is not a reference to a ‘fake’ world or object, or even a simulated one, as the word is used in common language. It is not substantive like the software objects or predictable, predetermined variables of simulated computer realities. On the contrary, the virtual, in the Deleuzian sense, is an insubstantive entity that can only be implicated through difference: as a retrospective assessment of that which binds an older form to a newer form. In accordance with Greg Lynn’s “Animate Form”, it is this relationship of statics in confluence with one another that creates a motion only with the incorporation of perspective and time, wherein its motion becomes its purpose. Referring to Deleuze and Guattari, Massumi says “the virtual is the mode of reality implicated in the emergence of the new potentials.” (16) If a pole once was straight, and now it is bent, we can see that there was a potential for the new bent pole within the old pole. In retrospect, the bent pole becomes a virtuality of the straight pole before the bending has happened. This is how “the potential of the situation exceeds its actuality.” (16)

This retrospective necessity becomes a key to understanding the significance of the virtual. The significance is that, in light of Massumi’s article, we have entered a world in which the modern and the post-modern are no longer the either/or of our current cultural existence. Their opposition has become irrelevant. It is the time-angle from which our artist/engines view themselves that has become the critical player in breaking up these inhibitive 20th century polarities.

Massumi presents the theoretical work of the arch-typically modernist architect Le Corbusier in the position of the “antithetical”. Le Corbusier speaks of the “creator” (the artist) as a person who first envisions the work, then sets into the play the process of the work’s realization.

Modernists and post-modernists alike all stand in an antithetical position relative to one another. While modernist creationism, to coin an ugly phrase, is linked to the impossible universalities of a teleological set that cannot materialize, pomo theories suffer the same reactive doom, struggling to work from a denial of form. “The opposition between the formal or structural and the accidental is disabled.” (23) It is safe to say that Massumi here is referring to indexes which fairly represent the modern and the pomo respectively.

In short, I want to say that the idea of virtuality, as it has been presented in the last few weeks is a very exciting one. I am anxious to more of this.
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