Exploring Simondon

(Douglas Duff) #1

Wondering which writings of Simondon you two have read (or anyone else who has read Simondon). His ideas keep arising in readings and even some dreamings. Definitely not light reading, from what I can gather. Thought I understood the preindividual/transindividual concept, but the ideas keep shifting with each encounter. Any recommended starting points?

Cosmos Café: Integrating Science, Art, and Time [6/5]
(john davis) #2

Two Lessons on Animal and Man by Gilbert Simondon.

Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual by Muriel Combes

Emergence and Embodiment edited by Bruce Clarke

These are the books I am familiar with. Having studied Erin Manning, this material is made easier to follow. Good luck, Doug, and let me know how it goes.

(Geoffrey Edwards) #3

I just finished this one and reviewed it on Goodreads. Here is my review :

« I picked up this book because it is one of the few books by Simondon that appears more accessible to the common reader. I intend to read his major works (the philosophy of individuation and of the technic) but viewed this as a kind of introduction to his thought and writing style. This book is also relatively short. I loved it, especially the second « lesson ». He is a subtle thinker, Simondon, and draws as much from the literary world as from the scientific. This book surveys the historical contributions to the opposing doctrines either that animals are distinct from humans or that they are the same. He delves as much into the pre-Socratic thinkers as Plato, Socrates and Aristotle, Christian writers such as Saint Augustus or Saint Thomas, or Francis of Assissi, and Rennaissance and Enlightenment writers including Bruno, Montaigne and La Fontaine. This is not groundbreaking work like his other texts, but a fascinating treatise on the relation between animal and human. »

Like @johnnydavis54, I’ve been reading commentairies, but I am planning to tackled the originals in August, when I get back from my vacation out west.

(john davis) #4

I loved it, too. It is hard to find English translations but tons of commentary has arisen around him. Manning quotes him a lot. I am starting to get a handle on transindividuation and it is starting to make sense.

(john davis) #5

You reported that you were making connections between Simondon and Modeling the Personal Pronouns with CL. I would like to pay attention to the ideas that keep shifting. I want to create conditions for skill building as we affectively attune to the field of all possibility. If there is an interest we can do a zoom session and share with others. Perhaps we can co-compose such an occasion?

The Minor Gesture, by Erin Manning - Meeting #8- Wrap-up
(Douglas Duff) #6

Replied here to your comment. And hope to add thoughts and insights into what I am reading soon.


I often will “voice-to-text” my thoughts while commuting to and from work. There is often a horrible understanding of what I am saying into the microphone as the app translates (midst will be mitts; Sloterdijk becomes slot her dike…not what I intended!)…so I expect there to be many words that do not fit below, though lightly edited. I too feel the pain of losing momentum, Johnny’s infamous momentum of learned material, Zoom recorded material, etc… these personal recordings are my way of staying with the feeling, retaining the reading.

In this strange poem-like thought form, I am imagining the pre-individual (of which I still know nothing about) as being a cauldron and we are the chefs, picking and choosing our ingredients. I am on a kick to learn articulation, explication…for what am I doing when I read if not just some sort of self-entertainment…my current exploration of Simondon may come from a mind-space that does not grok the depths of the actual meaning/historical-philosophical explorations, yet there is something about his ideas that tap into this cauldron and create some technical recipe…

for reading to be most useful it will be like what?..

Shelf Life

our thought food has a shelf life.
This for me is the urgency,
the whipping up of the recipe, and serving quickly,
with the finest ingredients available.

I’ll let you in on a personal secret.
I am a poor man’s omnivore.
If they didn’t lock dumpsters, I would be dumpster diving.
All of my clothes are used, out of others Goodwill,
all of my food, if available, is on Kroger’s manager special, half-off,
the finest of cheeses, the greatest meats, the organics, the food that would be wasted, thrown in the dumpster and locked for no one to grab, not even the animal, where is the fun in that?

I am a poor man’s omnivore,
Always in search of more,
composting the waste of our kin,
in kind donations,
quick finds and notations.
I am the bottom feeder, yet I’m rising to the top.

So many chefs have left their works untranslated, their recipes supposedly only to be found by the finest connoisseurs, locked in the universities, hidden in dusty books and libraries.
Simondon is one of these,
now renowned in universities,
ideas and words seeping into ideologies,
interpretations and recipes created for you and me…
these are the ideas I wish to present to thee.

To have thoughts as a bottom feeder, as a non-communicator communicating what I have found:

(for I am not just a bottom feeder, I live like a king. I dispose of knowledge as though it were mine to waste. I tear through the latest packaged book, open it up and devour like a king, books spread about on my table, it used to be a long table… I am the man of the house sitting at the largest chair of all chairs, All other chairs laid bare, the feast before me Socrates, groveling feet, on the opposite end all the way up to my most recent reading of an infinite conversation. )

Am I alone on this journey? Can I allow others to join in at the roundtable? Would anybody really want to?
No matter, here I am,
the king, dumb of one,
the kingdom of my mind,
locked away,
like a dumpster rich with ingredients for recipes,
under key, locked away, for another day?

Probably not, for I too…I will go to the Great Dump,
be dumped, this body will not be mine any longer,
and ideas will be disbursed and dispersed like phantoms in a fire, or a protesting Buddhist gasoline lit.

I admire those that do not dispose, that utilize what they’ve been told,
That retain their knowledge, that share the feast.

This is a roundtable invitation, invitation to invent a knowledge nation.
I hold within me ingredients, so with my spices you might spice up your meal.
(Some spices: discovered elements, or ingredients found within forest like morals, morsels that no other would dare to discover. Will you come with me?)

I find the words to be just little turds, that deter us from this cauldron of ideas. Let us stare and stare again and resist the urge to purge out thoughts onto the page for word’s sake, let us continually add ingredients in worlds undeterred.

This is a roundtable food pantry take what you need,
take it all if you please, it will not affect me.
This is the world of abundance there’s no scarcity,
for to withhold an ingredient, to hold a thought, to withhold an idea,
then lock it away within your mind is to be the greedy king.
That is the future, that is the selflessness I desire.
Yes, reading is fundamental, yet reading is only one ingredient.

(john davis) #7

I’m a ghost in a lot of ways
I know you you don’t know me
I can read your time
And when a ghost …what support do you need from our group?
You can help me become a body!

(john davis) #8

I am enchanted by your poem, Doug. Shall we keep the same time for next Weds, at 11am?

I would like a workshop kind of space…process oriented…whoever wants to join us is welcome AND I would like to focus attention on’ triggers’ and how we deal ecologically with ‘stuck states’ so that we can collectively learn to carry the feelings across…to an emergent collaborative knowledge?

(Douglas Duff) #9

Link to the Simondon documentary mentioned in our Clean Language session today (you might need to turn off Spanish subtitles to read the English, unless you understand French!):

It is worth watching the entire documentary, but I selected a few segments to give you a taste:

On his childhood:

Interesting biographical notes + some philosophical ideas + documentary aesthetics:

This is for @Geoffrey_Edwards (and perhaps Waking Life fans (if the melacholic clarinet/piano duet and animation were added, @madrush…) and even Gebser fans (@achronon, @patanswer and @johnnydavis54)…:

I am not going to attempt to map Simondon’s “magical primitive unity” onto Gebser’s structure-states. Simondon gets his idea of the magical realm from the book A General Theory of Magic by Marcel Mauss

About the book:

First written by Marcel Mauss and Henri Humbert in 1902, A General Theory of Magic gained a wide new readership when republished by Mauss in 1950. As a study of magic in ‘primitive’ societies and its survival today in our thoughts and social actions, it represents what Claude Lévi-Strauss called, in an introduction to that edition, the astonishing modernity of the mind of one of the century’s greatest thinkers. The book offers a fascinating snapshot of magic throughout various cultures as well as deep sociological and religious insights still very much relevant today. At a period when art, magic and science appear to be crossing paths once again, A General Theory of Magic presents itself as a classic for our times.

The interviewer in this documentary, Pascal Chabot, wrote The Philosophy of Simondon: Between technology and individuation. In Chapter 11, he goes into a little more detail about Simondon’s understanding on “technologies, sacred and profane” and “the technoaesthetic.”
In the last clip, I like that they question if “magic” is the right word to describe the intimate relationship between man and nature (@56:30) and they connnect art’s role as the bridge between religion and science (@58:20).

(Ed Mahood) #10

Is that what the word generally describes, or just what they are asserting it describes?

Does the word actually describe the relationship, or does it perhaps describe a non-participant’s view of that relationship?

What do they propose as an alternative? What would you propose as an alternative?

I’m genuinely curious.

(Geoffrey Edwards) #11

Regarding Simondon, here is a text in .pdf format by Simondon that describes the process of individuation in his own terms :

The Genesis of the Individual

I’d always rather read the source than the commentary, at least to begin with…

(Douglas Duff) #12

Just a note of what I envision within the framework of Infinite Conversations and the Discourse’s website design and what I feel we can offer:

This Monoskop page for Simondon has a superb collection of all that is Simondon available on the web. Just click on a link below and, if interested in exploring Simondon, you have days, perhaps years, worth of material to keep you occupied:

…then there’s YouTube videos with documentaries, online sites dedicated to lectures and classes. It has all been done, and then some. So what can we offer here?

An organization of works is useful…but where is the online discourse? The learning process? The history of faulty or half-formed ideas? The rough drafts and brainstorms? I believe it can be found here on this site. We keep taking about cleaning it up, staying on topic but that is a tall order. Your questions above (of which I am not qualified to answer but, nonetheless, feel a strong urge to read-up, hunker-down and type-up a response) have been noted, mulled-over, and are now bumping around in a cauldron of a vegetal soup mix. Some potatoes are undercooked and, though edible, need a little more simmer time to reach the stages beyond al dente. The carrots have been over cooked and need to be reintroduced. Some greenery has wilted before being placed in the soup. I am genuiely curious, too, though more along the lines of how to make a decent soup for others, how to make this site a work of art. I am a kitchen sink cook and, though it tastes alright to me, who would want to waste their time with such slop? I really need to clean up my act. So I thank you @achronon, for keeping me on my toes, at the drawing board, seeking out new recipes. Your simple questions have a simple answer, if we wanted to take that route. But simple, as we have noted in many conversations, is not so simple if you want it to be fit to taste for others.

The “Shelf Life” poem thing was a rough invocation to truly learn as a group, yet more so a call out to myself to stop just reading, stop seeking more and more information from readings…a call to move into a space that allows me to “practice what I reach” in my readings, through writings and connections and other discoveries. We have all noted that Simondon is a backburner item, so I disclaim now that I do not wish to lead others too far out into the deep end.

In short…hope to have an answer for you soon Ed!