Electronic Zen: The Alternative Video Generation Self-Correction Through Cybernetics Jud Yalkut Interviews Paul Ryan

Publication Type:

Unpublished

Authors:

Yalkut,Jud

Source:

(1984)

Keywords:

people-interviews
Full Text: 

 
 

"Regarding black and white videotape we make the following assumptions: -Videotape records a person's genetically determined uniqueness, that is, their firstness.
-Videotape records the way of a person's firstness, that is, the mode in which they have learned to segment the continuum of their experience.
-Through videotape feedback a person can learn to enhance their way and learn new ways.
-Through imitation of another on videotape, one can learn another's way.
-Videotape can record the given pattern of differentiation of many natural and man made forms in such a manner as they can be understood structurally by man.
-Videotape feedback opens up channels of communication in a triad of people sufficient to enable them to stabilize a threefold relationship in a self corrective manner."
          - PAUL RYAN from EARTHSCORE (For an intentional community using videotape).


JUD: Jargon?
PAUL: Jargon. (Laughter) Vocabulary. Yes, I've had to develop a peculiar jargon, because when you talk about tape you develop a new vocabulary on top of tape that has to be different. So, what words come to your mind? I have a friend who used to say: "Think of your five favorite words, and you'll know pretty much where you're at."
JUD: Well, let's start out with Kleinform, and the differentiation between Kleinform and Klein bottle.
PAUL: The Klein bottle is a mathematical curiosity developed by a mathematician named Klein in Germany (NOTE: Felix Klein- 1849-1925), and what I did with it was to transform it into a form. I'll talk about it and then come to a tighter definition.
JUD: Right.
PAUL: A bottle gets its stability from gravity. So just by naming it a bottle the cat precluded thinking about it, but when you take the part contained through and come out again, and go back through and then link up again, you've got a different systemic, a different relationship, and the stability comes from the interrelationship of the parts and not from it being named a bottle. The Klein bottle itself, if you try to use it as a model of thought, allows a kind of inspin. You can go from the part that's contained to the part containing, and back and forth, with a kind of an oscillation. With the Kleinform you can't do that.

"The Klein bottle outline passes continuously from part contained to part containing that part, and vice versa, without formation of a part uncontained. In kleinformation such a passage is not possible. This is the essential difference ... This two part pattern of thinking we call inspin. It is like a dog chasing his tail unto exhaustion. Inspining is not thinking kleinform. Kleinform maintains a threefold differentiation of part containing, part uncontained and part contained. If you have less than three self differentiating parts, you are not kleinforming."
          -Paul Ryan in EARTHSCORE

JUD: You would equate oscillations with the inspinning process. A pendulum.
RYAN: Yes, a pendulum form. Any back and forth, dyadic type of motion, that simply by that motion can become so symmetrically related as to lose context. If you work into a triadic system, you're insisting upon context. That was McCullough's idea; towards the end of his life what he got into was triadic logic, because if you have a triadic system, you necessitate thinking about context. I mean, if you stay within that mapping context you're insisting on context. And it's a form. I thought it was a language at first; I made that mistake in the last chapter of the book I wrote (NOTE: BIRTH AND DEATH AND CYBERNATION, an Interface Book, Gordon And Breach, 1973.). I took the mathematician Rene Thom uncritically, but it seems that language structure is subject-predicate, and that's the dominant mode of the way we think-
JUD: With modifiers-
PAUL: And qualifiers, and so forth. A Kleinform is a different structure for intelligence, and a lot of the struggle that I've been in is trying to get this non-verbal form accessible to people in words, so that they can understand it. It'll come. I'm developing a language that will do that. It's much more important. People who work with tape understand it quite easily, and dancers have come to understand it by working in the form.
JUD: You can't think of any semantic equivalents?
PAUL: Not structural equivalents, not semantic structural equivalents. It's not a language. I thought it was a language, I called it a language, but it's not a language. It's a form. Spencer Brown's LAWS OF FORM was helpful in thinking about it, though I disagree entirely with his basic distinction of dyadics which he works from. I think that's acontextural and I think it's bullshit of a kind, even though it's elegant.
JUD: It's extremely elegant.
PAUL: Yes, and the elegance has an enormous strength, but he and John Lily are both on a kind of attenuated trip from what I can see. I mean they've thinned out their thinking for the sake of elegance, but it loses context. The structure involved loses context. That's my sense of it; I'm sure there are other readings.
          So, that's Kleinform. Firstness is another word that I've been using. It comes from the Stoics, and also Charles S., Pierce. Pierce was very fond of it. And I liked it because it precluded a hierarchy. If everybody's got firstness, then there's nobody that's first.
JUD: As we used to say in the USCO group: "You don't have to be first to be on top."
PAUL: Right. That kind of thing. And it also speaks of uniqueness, like if you record it on tape, you can't imitate it; it's like a fingerprint. When somebody's on tape, the firstness is apparent, and you can't argue with it, nor can they really. (Laughter) You've got to come to some relation to it. And I think it's a genetically determined reality, and the first reality to accept. It's the first limit system you deal with, your genetic coding, and if you move outside your firstness, to develop ways of behaving that are contrary to your firstness, you wind up schizophrenic. And the culture's pushed us that way.
JUD: Into developed secondness, in a sense.
PAUL: Right. I've come to use the phrase "departures from firstness," related to the conceptualization of the community that works by electric tape, or electric metaphors, basically tape, and there will others, like holograms. Basically nonprint media. Departure from firstness seems to be the mistake, the error which can be made if you push somebody so that they're forced into a contradictory relationship with their firstness, or if they push themselves, and then a contradiction is created, and so on. Foistness. (Laughter)
          Other vocabulary? Chreod is another one. Chreod is a term developed by Waddington. That is another thing in the book that I didn't get entirely clear. What Waddington was after was a necessary path of development, and Thom picked it up and generalized it. It comes from two greek words: Od, meaning path or way, and ere, meaning when it is necessary. There are certain structures, or certain models, that support and describe a process, like the tape I made with the Kleinform on the floor which described and supported the process that was going on. Waddington was working in genetics and embryology and developed this notion that are certain patterns, necessary pathways, that if a process is developing there is a necessary pathway that you can describe, and that if it's disturbed, it will return to this pathway. What I tried to do with the notion of sacred chreod was to say that in our evolutionary schemae, there are necessary pathways that evolution has taken which, if we disrupt them, or destroy them, we destroy ourselves. Bateson's rap is that the species that destroys its environment, destroys itself. So that's what the EARTHSCORE text is about in terms of chreod cells, the attempt to discover those given patterns of differentiation in the evolutionary ecological scheme, which if we destroy we destroy ourselves. And by fixing the word sacred to it., the intent is to release and bring to bear man's religious traditions and religious sensitivities in relation to the life support system that he has. It's a very rich notio. Thom and Waddington also go in for the notion of homeorhesis, rather than homeostasis, "rhesis" being "over time." because they say that homeostasis is death. It's a spatial metaphor, whereas homeorhesis is a developmental process.
JUD: What about the terms, cell and chreche?
PAUL: Creche-cell. I like the sense of the word. It's like a crib, in French, and it has the sense of child, and care and tenderness. It's like the family cell in a sense. You see, the structure of EARTHSCORE is entirely mathematical; it's a rigorous mathematical metaphor. The words could be changed. The notion is basically a self-corrective cell of three, and then three different orders of cells, which were names creches. The business of the chreche cell is taking care of firstness; that's its basic function. Chreod cells being cells that decode the given pattern, the differentiation, the ecology, and organize behavior in relation to respecting those patterns. And the work cell would be the cell that interlaced with the society-at-large and maintained whatever was necessary. With the notion of three being self-corrective, you can work exponentially, just increasing, so you go from three-to twelve, and then three sets of twelve, three different orders. Once you get to Kleinform, as opposed to Bateson's work, which is based on the theory of logical types, no class ca n be a member of itself which assumes a discontinuity between a class and its members. If you accept the conceptualization of logical types, which I think is basically a print metaphor, you're inevitably caught in a class society, which is what Marx was decoding and was riled against. We've got to get to a classless society, and if you work in Kleinform you can have a society with no class, because you assume that people are discrete, such as bits of alphabet on a page. You don't class people according to discretion; you accept that they're part of a continuum, which has very large philosophical ramifications. When I read Pierce and saw what hw was trying to do with a triadic system., it's enormously rich, enormously strong, and also his sense of the continuum. But the understanding of a continuum has always been linked up with a unity, a unifying kind of principle. In other words, if it's continuous it's unified. You cannot differentiate.
          Once you pass the continuum back into itself, you have the capacity of the mind to differentiate without severance, without discretion, without cutting off. So you never lose that you're part of the whole. I don't know how far it can go as a form. My sense of it is that as a form it will take habit in an evolutionary sense; that we've had a period, by my calculations, of the 60s and so forth as a period of trial and error, which was random, and the cybernetic metaphor was used randomly. I sort of came to that through McLuhan, through the use of video, and became dissatisfied with the randomness, in terms of using something like video, and out of the video work, that form came to my mind. It seems now that that form can take habit, that it's possible for that form to take habit. I used to use the metaphor of guerilla warfare in a random way. For me, anyway, that phase is over. The random is not a coherent metaphor. It was useful at the end of the 60s, but not that useful now, although it was rich. There's a more formalized possibility that I can see now, using the conceptualization that I've come to, or the composition of EARTHSCORE, but the Kleinform is basically that which can take habit. What I'm up against now is trying to find the proper context for that to take habit, and I'm still not sure yet, at this point, what that is.

"In English, the verbal formulation that best insures the mind of staying within the rigorous mapping of relation ships possible in kleinform is the injunction, never less than three." This we call the Canon of Self Correction... That which cannot be decoded or commanded according to the Canon of Self Correction must be accepted in its given pat tern of differentiation. Any non-self corrective process gives rise to a fixed morphology definable once and for all by a model of that process, a chreod that reveals its self stabilized structure. For example, the breaking of a wave cannot be commanded to happen in Kleinform. Similarly, the Canon of Self Correction cannot command triplets, a tri sexual species, or undo our bilateral symmetry. Births as given, speies sexual differentiation, and bilateral sym metry must be decoded and accepted as given restraints on kleinformation. Similarly, non kleinformed self corrective processes must be related to with respect to their form."
          -PAUL RYAN from EARTHSCORE

JUD: How do you feel that this form relates to the content that might fulfill part of it?
PAUL:Well, it has a bias. Any form will have a bias for a certain content.
JUD: Yes, that's the light in which I'm asking that.
PAUL: Yes, and I'm not really sure-at this point. On the basis of the last weekend's work and other work I've done, that behavior is the proper content for this form, as opposed to the Skinnerian stimulus/response kind of thing. I think that this form provides a shape that's kind of minimal., very minimal, within which behavior can be invented., so that it's in a self corrective way.
          Individualized behavior, like the metaphor of the circle, and everybody finding center, like the Sufi tape you showed me, which is a strong and good process, does not allow a differentiation of roles, or a differentiation of relationship, and I have this sense that any kind of religious form, center- the same with Buddhism and Yoga and Christianity, any of them that use that centering metaphor- because it can be used acontexturally is a kind of proto-fascistic structuring of consciousness of which I'm fearful. For example, in the name of ecology, a lot of ugly shit is going to came down. And people now have a sense of the ecology and so forth, but if you define a circle where you're inside and somebody else is outside, you're back into a kind of tribal warfare syndrome, even at a religious level. Perhaps that's an over-reaction oh my part, and an attempt to differentiate a new for from the old, but I sort of keep that flag in my head when I see a circle. (Laughter) So behavior is a proper content, but verbalization, I don't think so.
          I don't think that the structure of language, unless you get into a Joycean usage where language is nore on the auditory channel and is a flow of mechanism, then perhaps verbal form can be found, or the verbal content of this form. Thom, the mathematician I've been using a lot, is now trying to decode the structure of language using his topology, along with the notion of chreods and attractors. I talked to him about a year and a half ago (NOTE: This rap was in 1973.) but I expect that out of his work I'll be able to find some way to understand the relation of language to the kleinform, whether it can be proper content or it needs to stay in a non-verbal realm. Language has been so dominated by print, and print structure, that language is in such bad shape in this country. I found that in the VIDEO WAKE FOR MY FATHER (NOTE: Twelve hours of tape presented by invitation only in an apartment in New York City) that what I was doing was pure command. I was using raw sentences, complex sentences, which don't work somehow. It was John Lennon's Primal Scream album, with very simple language relationships. It reminds me of the context that George Steiner set up for trying to understand what happened to the German language in the 30s.
          The language itself has somehow become depleted of meaning, and I think that the habit of public line that we've gotten from advertising and politics has sucked, whoosh, language of meaning. Nobody's publishing anything that makes any sense. Mailer is straining at movies, Marilyn Monroe, and you meet people all the time who are closet writers, doing very fine things that never see the light of day. So language is in bad shape. So I don't really work to get language into a kleinform. I'd be content in a community for a while where nobody did anything but quote FINNEGAN'S WAKE. (Laughter) Then maybe we'd get some sense of the richness of language back.
JUD: How do you feel that your earlier involvement with the concept of infolding through the medium of tape has evolved into the kleinforming through tape?
PAUL: Infolding was avague tag on the sense of what could happen, coming of de Chardin and the business of matter being lined with consciousness, and the noospheric concept of earth infolding on itself. William Blake used the word as well. My mind, and I guess a lot of other's minds work this way: you have an intuition and then you tag it with a word like infolding which is unusual, that stores it in your mind until you can develop it another way. So, the infolding was a vaguery, and the kleinform is a very rigorous mathematical, diagrammatical structure, and you really don't need to use the word "infolding" once you've approached Kleinform, because the kleinform goes through; it's not just an infolding. I remember explaining infolding to a college kid about two years ago, and then explaining kleinform, and said: "But it's not infolding anymore, because in and out are not valid, not viable." That's pretty much the relationship. Of course, videotape was the metaphor through which I got this form. Simply by doing a lot of tape with yourself and not accepting a discontinuity in replay. I suppose film and the time delay precluded this kind of thinking, because of the laboratory, but when you're using tape you're in the same time-space situation, and you begin to weave it. You can do that with a kleinform.

"The process of getting to tape was really a transition from aural culture to electric culture.
JUD: Through your work with McLuhan at Fordham
PAUL: So it was easy to dig what he was saying. It wasn't a question for me of writing criticism of McLuhan pro and con, but let's do it. So it was obvious to get your hands on the media, so I started looking around for something that nobody had touched; too many people are into film and that medium just didn't turn me on that much; it was like a different space, so I went to videotape. So I want to the library and found that nobody knew anything. The only guy around was Paik.
I had a chance to get onto the portably Sony stuff and I started working in the Montessori school. I worked with the kids one day a week and I took the equipment home. It was the old Sony 2000 studio deck. I just approached it from a kind of McLuhan head: what is the grounding of this, how is it different from print and different from film, and what distinguishes it. The most obvious thing was the control of time and feedback, but it was a closed loop, especially with the kids, so I started making it available to them in an- other room.
Two things are important: one was the business of so much feedback with yourself, and what that does to you, and getting yourself beyond the behavioral constraints of the society so that you're not dependent so much on a mirror, or somebody else, to get yourself back, because you can get yourself back. Like I know how I look when I jump, and I'm not going to be afraid to jump because somebody else is watching, because I've seen myself jumping already. So, doing a lot of tape with yourself creates that kind of behavioral head. That's Why it's important that more people learn how to do that', so if enough people do that you can do something else, whatever that something else is that you want to do.
It's taking in your own soul from outside, and it's powerful shit. Picture.two-medieval cats sitting across from each other at a table, or two Japanese cats, or two Americans, or two chimpanzees, and when you examine the picture it becomes apparent that this behavior is at least 3000 years old. So one of the questions we're up against is not so much the good intentions or the good feelings. I think we've learned that a lot through rock music. We can do that now. We know those circuits, right?
The problem is that once you awaken these feelings, how do you not behave like chimpanzees, when it comes to something like interpersonal relationships and the whole range of ways we've been programmed to behave. So that it really offers you an opportunity to do a behavioral jump. And it's important that a lot of people are doing it, so you're not doing it alone.
JUD: We're talking about the necessity for sheer ecstasy.
PAUL: Exactly. Because if you do it by yourself, you're crazy, but that's cool.
JUD: Like Zorba the Greek was crazy-
PAUL:Exactly. Or like Neitzche was crazy with Zarathustra. Like I let out my tape to anybody I thought was anything; I didn't care if I'd only seen them once; let them have it, shake it and do it, get it out. If it doesn't work, where can we go for the code of behavior and have ecstasy together, because without a little shared ecstasy, this planet just isn't going to make it. A lot of people are really dying, because we've programmed them to dollars as a tribal rite. We need some objective correlative for our ecstasy, and I think that's the function of ritual. The ritual is right when you know the ecstasy is there; then you've got it. OK, we'll do the dishes. Because with the planet in such a delicate balance, the ritual really has to be right because the homeostasis is so delicate. It's never been so delicate. That's a heavy thing, because we've always had one big macrostructure. They came screaming across Europe killing the Canaanites and reading the Bible. Insane, like destroying people like the Hopi Indians. Look what they're doing!
There are some guys who are really just making trash out of consciousness. They're conspiring with entropy, can you imagine? Glory, the technical meaning is clear knowledge, and praise, but people want that cheap. Cybernetics is a transform with a difference, and that's what McLuhan said: every media is different. Doesn't it seem that there has to be some essential referencing system, if we're going to have a homeostasis to balance this one out, if we're going to have the ecstasy."
- PAUL RYAN, from an unpublished rap with Jud Yalkut, 1971.

PAUL: I've been working with dancers lately. A lot of people seem to be, in film and tape, going to dancers and beginning to work with them. And it makes sense, as probably the richest resource we have out of which to invent behavior, given the traditions of dance. I was very lucky up here in New Paltz to have Brenda Buffalino, who knows what she's doing with dance and has a dance class and a small dance group., and I've been working with her over the summer, being able to solidify a lot of ideas and notions that were worked out in the weekends to get the sense of dance as opposed to linguistic structures.
JUD: And very paradoxially, of course, dance is one of the things for which there's been tremendous difficulty in developing a notation.
PAUL: Exactly., and it hasn't worked on television. There are very few dance pieces on television. Nobody has quite figured out the proper way to move in an electronic context. The Sufi. seems quite close, the Tai Chi seems quite close, those forms of movement.
JUD: Perhaps, in recent electronic work some of things that Ed Emshwiller has tried begin to get at it.
PAUL: Dance is a behavioral resource. As opposed to Albert Scheflen's work (NOTE: A psycholinguist, author of HOW BEHAVIOR MEANS and BODY LANGUAGE AND SOCIAL ORDER)- you know Scheflen tries to describe behavior in terms of the theory of logical types. HOW BEHAVIOR MEANS is based on using the theory of logical types to describe behavior, and to me, it's an excercise is labelling and it's useless for life. I don't mean to put Scheflen down; he's done an enormous amount of work on perspective space in behavior, but you don't behave in perspective space. You examine it and write about it from perspective space, but if you're going to behave, you've got to be part of the behavior, you know.
JUD: You've talked a great deal about necessary redundancy and how that determines the givens in modes of behavior.
PAUL: Yes. Redundancy is a great word. It comes from unda, meaning wave. That's the same word that abundant came from. So redundancy the image I have of it is of a wave breaking back on itself. These are generalizations that Bateson has pushed to a very useful level, like a redundancy pattern. The word, in our culture, is equated with repetition. I'd try to differentiate and save the word "redundancy." It has such richness. But., in terms of behavior, there are certain recurrent patterns, some of which you can't avoid; they're part of it. McCullough talked about it on the level of the reticular core. They said there's about an inventory of a dozen things that require the commitment of the whole organism: birth, death, making love, not making love, fleeing or fighting, crapping, and all sorts of bodily functions- and his hypothesis was that all that was governed by the reticular core, which he intuited worked triadically. And for that work, there had to be what he called the redundancy of potential command, meaning that anytime a particular situation came up, the organism could decide that this was the time to go to sleep, but it would know that from having built up a habit of sleep. That would be the redundancy pattern, and in the behavioral invention that we-ve tried what gives us the flexibility to differentiate roles is that the stronger the redundancy pattern that's created, the more flexibility there can be for role differentiation. Seeing the Sufi tape next to the behavioral tape made that point very strongly.
          During that weekend of work, we started from nothing and created minimal redundancy patterns. Also, the notion of chreods accepts the notion of redundancy in the ecology system, and the using of that from the culture as the coding system rather than any we invent, to take the state of grace, the state which is given and to decode that and abide by that. What I understand of astrology, that's very much the strength of it, is-that it works on a given pattern that no man can control; it's out of the control of man, and indecoding and abiding it, you free the species of interspecies dominance. Waddinton has this notion where he said the human organism, or the human species, has developed an authority bearing species; the father bears authority and he controls other people. Well, we've reached a point where fathers and sons are no longer viable as a control mechanism. We can't presume to control each other.
        We have to allow the species to behave within it's own context. So, if you're going to take away the authority from within the species, if you're going to take way master-slave relations, if you're going to take away dominance relations, how then is the culture going to stabilize? How is it find control unless it accepts a pattern larger than the species and integrates that into Its way of life. So you're beyond the notion of a nation state; you're beyond the notion of family even as we've known it., the patriarchal or the matriarchal family. You're into the notion of a species in context.
          Peter Berge, with whom I spent a weekend on the West coast in marathon discussion'. has an extraordinarily strong vision of what he calls geomorphic identity. It's got a vocabulary where he talks about the Pacific Lake, and people of the mountains, people of the plains, people of the coast, no longer Canadians or Americans, or the nation state rap which has divided up the earth for exploitation, and not for life. And the nation state, as McLuhan describes it, is structured by print and structured by the metaphor. And that metaphor of print goes back to the Egyptians who were the first ones in the West to really code thin--s in an arbitrary kind of script, arbitrary in the sense that you could understand it without context. They were the first ones to have a-hierarchy, as I understand it, with a priestly caste. So you started a class structure. In terms of print. as long as you work with print, you're going to have a class society.
JUD: This is characterized by the idea of literates and illiterates in reference to people who are not cognizant of the sophistications and elegances of a particular system as illiterates, and it's used in a derogatory sense.
PAUL: Right. And the literati think other people are stupid. (Laughter) And it's only 2/5ths of the world that's literate, you know, and they're trying to pump out the SESAME STREET stuff to keep people literate. It's ridiculous. I understand there are blacks now who are saying: "Don't learn to read, just don't learn to read" and that creates a vacuum, and once that vacuum is there, you either revert to an oral culture, which seems impossible to me now, and probably not desirable, or you try to develop electric forms, and I think that Kleinform is one such circuitry, or one circuit design that's generalizable. I'm sure there are others that people are working on, other forms that will work electronically. Well, you've got to ground that.
          What I've been doing for the past two years in this valley is trying to decode the system with a Sony portable camera, the ecology. So I go out and spend a year and a half by a stream where water goes over rock, up by Smitty's, trying to learn how to decode how water goes over rock. I finally did a half hour tape that I feel is a respectable attempt (Laughter) at decoding water over rock. There's a tree out here,, where I've been fro three months, and last week I had the courage to go out there with a camera, and I haven't even looked at that tape. I don't know how well the portapak decodes a tree. It requires a sense of meditation. It requires a whole different kind of Zen head, You do it right the first time. You don't presume to edit.
          You don't presume to scramble up someone's time sense. You offer them your perceptions, that's all. So I've got 36 tapes, after I sketched out about a hundred tapes, three non-living, three living plant, three animals, and three technologies, and some of it is what people would call boring tapes. It doesn't get them excited. (Laughter). Well, if you're going to understand what lichen are, non-verbally, you go out with a video camera and a micro-lens and you look at lichen for a half an hour, OK. It doesn't tell you a hell of a lot. Maybe we need different instrumentation. Maybe we need Kirlian photography to understand plant life. Maybe we need holographic shapes to understand animal behavior, rather than me running around with the monkeys and a camera, although you can do fairly well with a camera and monkeys and fish.
JUD: And also direct electronic feedback with plant life.
PAUL: That's right. But we don't know; we don't know the Earth. We've been reacting to it. We cut down the trees and then made paper and made marks on it. (Laughter) And we presume to know. And it goes on and on. You know, I've got a half hour tape of the library, and when you speed it up to fast speed, it's extraordinary; you can begin to decode structure, the way McLuhan's mind worked at decoding the structures of print, and trees are a really rich resource for doing tape because you're after it non-verbally. And you show three of these continuous tapes at one time, and you begin to work at understanding the differences between them. That's as far as I can go by myself.
          After this, to really develop a way of decoding the ecology, you need a functioning community that's self corrective. EARTHSCORE is in some ways analogous to the Monastic rules of St. Benedict that were written in the 16th century. It's tricky territory. I don't know how dominant my monastic experience is in the kind of thing I've been doing; it may be too dominant. I want to get away for a while and think differently. But, just as Benedict was into: "To labor is to pray," well, to move information in this culture is the most sacred of tasks, because we need to understand the way things are working.
          The computer industry now, the people working within it, discover that they're basically a working class. They hopped them up and told them that they were professionals, flooded the market, and now they're working their asses off with the digital system. The digital system is the one-to-one correspondence; what's characteristic of the digital system is a quantized model, and it's part of the difficulty of the cycle we're in. We're into understanding money, and everything gets quantized in terms of value. Well, you can't quantize vale when you've got a multi-value system. So the digital computers that IBM has developed has spread over this planet and they're horrendous in an ecological sense. They're extraordinarily stupid; they're acontextural. On and off. Yes or no. You amass wealth and you exploit, and you make money, and you're in big trouble.
          The Kleinform itself cannot be digitized. There are ways to translate it from kleinform back to quantity, but you cannot digitize a kleinform. I think that's where McCullough couldn't make the triadic logic that he wanted, because of his preoccupation with number. "What is a number that a man may know it, and a man 3 that he may know a number." A number is a one-to-one correspondence, again a discrete. It goes back to Russell and Whitehead. And Thom begins a new direction in mathematics that's qualitative. He says: "I don't care how much the bridge weighs; I want to know if it's going to stay up or not when I go over it." And that's the situation we're in ecologically. You can't quantize it and expect to make any sense of it. That's why the extraordinary resistance to capitalism that the alternate culture has developed has been a very healthy thing. And those that have gone the way of capitalism have gone that way; they're divorced from whatever vit ality there was. Because once you start evaluating things in terms of one scale, money, money, money, you're in trouble. You can't keep a balanced system- how to finance these things. (Laughter) That's another problem. But they've got to wake up that you don't that much money to do it. It's a way of thinking that's necessary, that can interface with a capital economy. We don't even have the time for revolution. There's no sense in doing that.
JUD: We need some self-regenerative process whereby as software is produced, raw stock is made available. Just as when you cut down a tree., you should put one in its place.
PAUL: Yes. There has to be some sort of regenerative process. Cybernetics has been tooted and the way it's presented is not right. It's the whiz kids with the computers who figured out what to do in Vietnam and were on government payrolls.
JUD: How do you feel the analog model holds up as opposed to the digital?
PAUL: I'm not sure. Bateson makes extensive use of that, the analog and the digital, and it seems to work for him.
JUD: It's also been used in video thought, especially in the age of video synthesizers.
PAUL: It's not very useful for me. A kleinform is a logic; it's not an anlogic. It's not something that happens on top of logic.
JUD: But it's also a real time thing.
PAUL: Oh., yes, there has to be a time factor in a kleinform. It's not a space model; there is a different time if you pass through the form. You're in each part at a different time, and time has to be considered in a Kleinform.
You see, I think Cage and Paik picked up on the cybernetic model and they did extraordinary things with the random phase of it, and they, or the tradition of which I think of them as being most c characteristic, have put us in a position to do more, but I think we have to get beyond the random/analog which seems to me a groping beyond, a random kind of groping. Bit I could be wrong.
JUD: Of course, the analog has importance in the effectiveness with which it bring the intuitive realms into play, and that is possibly the key where it may transcend the purely random.
PAUL:I resist the notion of transcendence right at this time. Bateson's rap is that we can answer the question whether the mind is imminent or transcendent; that the mind is, in fact, imminent, and those traditions that seek to transcend the ecology of mind we're in work against that ecology ultimately.
There's one monk that I keep in touch with who runs down the extraordinary scam of the history of human spirituality, in basically three phases, before our own, and he does it on the basis of alienation, tracing the notion of alienation. The first business is that when man woke to consciousness, he realized that it was meaningless, utterly meaningless and, in his terror, he threw up a vast network of symbolic structures in order to create meaning.
JUD: As Adam supposedly named all the creatures.
PAUL: Exactly. And we had birth, death and mythology. We had the paradise mythology. The Hero. All these things to create some meaning, because it was out of our mind, probably men out of their minds who created these symbol structures that worked. Well, in Indian and the East, and in China, there arose a dissatisfaction with this logical structure, and they sought by very deep interiority to transcend the human condition, to jump out of it- the yoga discipline is the most characteristic- and they sought to basically deny the human condition and in some way to transc end it. In the West, and that transcendence metaphor depended on space, it was a spatial metaphor, the centering image, the insistence on the denial of time, in a sense.
JUD: Timelessness.
PAUL: The insistence on timelessness. The West was seized with this biblical linear sense of time: this social system is unjust, what are we going to do about it; well, we're going to utopia; how long does it take; 200 years; it doesn't matter. JUD: It's based on a very strong cause and effect head.
PAUL: Right, and that created an idea of time in the West, so the Western man's identity has to do with locating himself in history and the fragmentation that comes from that, that kind of conflict. So, now we're in a phase where there's a lot of attraction for the East from the West, which is very healthy, but it's not all. We still have to deal with the birth/death reality. We have to deal with the fact that we're now an endangered species. So the whole business of birth/death shifts enormously. Your life has no meaning. I mean the gift of your life has no meaning unless there's somebody around to accept it. And if the whole species is gone. And to create a meaning system can't be done unless some other species is found to accept the gift of life. And spiritual transcendence doesn't. for me, ground in the birth/death mythology.
JUD: Of course, grounding is one form of harnessing therapeutic energy, an area of exploration in healing.
PAUL: I'm in a place now where I feel that I'm growing new connections in my brain, according to kleinformation patterns. I feel I'm playing that out now. But we've got to do some very fine work now. What I've done so far is a sketch, the last rough piece of work that I want to do; it's a conceptual thing. It's what I fill out as one person in the time that's left. And I wonder about the definition of artist. Money from the state seems to go to artists and mental institutions and criminality. That seems to be the definition of deviants that the state is arriving at, so I think we'll see in the future an extraordinary debate: how do you differentiate a madman from an artist? You know, it's all one mind. Art seems to be the one place where there's flexibility left.
          I was thinking of trying to get together a conference on art and ecology, if an intelligent ecological base could be found that related to art process. It's a very difficult problem, because you know when you get a grant- I know you and you know him- it becomes a political football. JUD: Why don't we return to the structure of EARTHSCORE?
PAUL: It's a conceptualization of an intentional community. In other words, where people would intentionally meet non-compulsively, and it's a method whereby people would agree to behave in a certain way, or agree to agree in a certain way. It's designed to be a leaderless culture, a non-hierarchical culture.
          The minimum amount of people needed are 36. It's based on self-corrective cells of three. Each person would be a member of three different cells: a creche cell which was concerned with the care the persons involved, analogous to a family, or actual family; a chreod cell which would be concerned with decoding the ecological situation, and every month would be producing a record, or an explication, a document of the ecological situation, taking testimony from the earth; and a work cell which would be concerned with things like transportation, whatever interface there was with the money economy, keeping the place working, whatever had to be done--
JUD: The dirty work.
PAUL: Well, there's a way to make any part of the whole meaningful.
JUD: Like who washes the dishes and who takes out the garbage.
PAUL: Right. So there are three orders of cells. A person is part of a self-corrective cell in each of those three orders, and because there are four cells to an order,, or a group of twelve people as one self corrective cell, if it's in its self corrective process and goes off, there are three other cells that can gather around and correct that cell. So there are always three in your creche family, and your chreod family that can correct the activity of that one cell. The coding is all designed in kleinform, and the basic redundancy or the basic command form is "never less than three." That is the Canon of Self Correction. It's not being tied by a rope to two other people, but it's a description of a redundancy pattern. And there's a certain threshold, that if the redundancy pattern was maintained above that threshold, I'm quite sure the community would work, whether it was in an urban or a rural environment, or any environment. If a certain threshold of redundancy were maintained, the community could survive, maintain itself, and a lot of variation would be possible. It's a society premised on the notion of using tape, although the tape is designed to get behavior.

"The formula for such stabilization is as follows. Three people do continuous tape without talking and without leaving the scanning field of the camera or cameras. This can be done with one camera on a tripod, or ideally, with three camera in the hands of skilled cameramen who care about the people involved. Tapes are played back simultaneously. This process is repeated with appropriate time intervals, unto stabilization... The invention of a stabilized repertoire of triadic behavioral patterns must precede the formation of this intended community. This repertoire can be assumed to be secure when these patterns can be carried on without the presence of video equipment."
          - PAUL RYAN from EARTHSCORE.

JUD: At a point in EARTHSCORE, you reach the point of not using tape.
PAUL: Right. Because to create a determinate dependency, I think, would be a mistake. However, the community itself would need some record-keeping to keep its time base stability. If you're located in a geomorphic region, and you're keeping testimony, records of the development of the ecology, there's no legitimate authority other than to take testimony in this land. So how are you going to ground testimony? Will you ground in patterns that are larger than yourself? If I do a tape of a tree, there's nothing to stop a man from doing another tape of the tree with a $1500 portapak, and saying, no, he's got it wrong. It's not working that way. All this is public information, and any one of those twelve ecological continuums can be monitored by the other ones: the effect of automobiles on liches, for example; those 3 people rapping with those 3 people, monitored by people who are concerned with television, and any one of those 12 continuums can shift and change according to the different technologies that are there and they'll shift and change over time, like I started here with technologies like the automobile., television and airplanes. Well,, it's possible to combine planes and autos, since it's internal combustion engines, and shift over and watch nuclear power, since they seem to be building a nuclear power plant in the next town. So it's a flexible kind of system, and its a way of life. I think there's a difficulty with it in terms of sexual behavior, since human sex is dyadic, but if the sexual dyad could be broken down, it would be possible in a chreche family, but not necessary. But the sexual relationship could be regulated the way they wanted it. The cell is an information cell based on self-correcting behavior. Insofar as that includes sexual behavior, the concern of the community would be with the care of children, so being responsible for the care of children is accompanied with some right to regulate the birth of children, and in that context, sexual behavior that had childbirth as an issue. The community, by using those cells, would find some way to self-correct. People who have tried sexual triads find they break down, if you've got two of one sex and one of the other, it's not going to work for very long. Whereas, if you've got six people, one cell can be self correcting the other, or if you've got nine, or twelve, those things might s . elf-correct. Sometimes I think that's all a crock of bullshit (Laughter) and just a decadent impulse to attempt that, and at other times, I think it's a critical problem, and if it could be broken down in people, it would release such freedom that a lot of things could happen. It's a mapping; triadic logic is a mapping of the kinship system. We've always had to stumble along with the kinship system, and we've never seen really how it's worked and known how it's worked.
          I think the kleinform is a mapping of the way the kinship system in fact works, so you could return to family in an electric culture with this kind of kleinformation. The family is a natural ecological unit. Split the mean and send them off to war, and you wind up with prostitutes. Split the mean off and send them to work, and you wind up with frustrated housewives, and librium and valium. The extraordinarily sharp definitions of male and female in this culture are ridiculous, much too important. The natural family unit has been doublebinded by literacy, and by industrialization. Perhaps, that doublebind can be broken and we can get back to a natural, organic family situation.

"Let this endangered species have part in the coding of its experience of trial and error for other life forms that may survive its own, both terrestrial and extra terrestrial. Let us code this experience, in so far as it is possible, in a logic of triadic relationships, so as to provide the possible recipients of this gift of human life with optimal fail safe as learners. Let this coding process be part of a way of life that is a ritual of readiness forming a budget of flexibility that will optimize all chances for our survival. Let us engage in the process as part of our bond with our own kind, our dead and our unborn. If survival is not possible, let us die gracefully."
          --Paul Ryan from EARTHSCORE

 

Interviewee: 
Paul Ryan
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