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GENERAL ANTHROPOGENY
 
FIRST PART - BASIS
 
 
 
Chapter 5 - INDEXES
 
 
 

 
 
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
 
 
Chapter 5 - Indexes
 
5A. Index vs indicium. Indexed indicia
 
5B. Corporal propositions to indexation
5C. Modalities of indexing
5D. The semiotic of the index
 
5E. From technique and indicia to indexes
 
5F. Indexes and macrodigitality
 
5G. Indexes and society
5H. Indicia-index
 
 

 
 
 
 
Chapter 5 - INDEXES
 
 
 

Latin-based languages make the distinction between indicia, we have just seen, and indexes, to which we now turn.

 

 

5A. Index vs indicium. Indexed indicia

 

Indexes are these gestures through which Homo's transversalizing, manipulating and upright body, endowed with a neutralising brain, has little by little developed the power of pointing at targets, marking the beginnings and endings, tracing directions, determining angles, miming speeds, miming and triggering motions, therefore dancing, identifying forms and collections, adding or subtracting collections between them, distributing consecutions.

We must see that indexes and indicia work in the opposite direction. Indicia go from things to the one considering them; this is what the Latin objectal termination "-icium" in indicium indicates. Conversely, indexes go from the pointing, tracing or collecting specimen to things; what the "-ex" Latin subjectal termination in index indicates.

English did not keep this opposition. It uses “index” in the singular form and “indices” in the plural form for both words. This fusion or confusion is interesting insofar as it betrays the close link between both terms. But within the framework of the anthropogeny, it is indispensable to start from the Latin distinction, which marks a decisive anthropogenic step.

Indeed, as the indicia encountered by transversalizing, substitutive, complementative, comparative Homo were pointed and traced by indexes, technique was veritably on its way and even initiated science, into physics, that is the indexation of indexables, and into mathematics, that is the general theory of indexations. We must therefore first measure how much Homo's body - which we have seen is techno-indicializing - is multiply indexating.

The encounter between indicia and indexes at the beginning of Homo is not a simple confluence of two heterogeneous series, as is often the case in Evolution. It is the emergence of a veritable couple. Indicia, going from object to the manipulator, call for indexes. Conversely, indexes going from the manipulator transform everything to which they point into indicia. This couple will determine the powers and limitations of hominid technique and logic.

Homo erupting in the Universe is indissolubly indicializing and indexing, even indexing and indicializing. It is probably its most original, or at least basal, functioning. Therefore, as we will study dialects later <10D, 16, 17>, the anthropogeny will note that their elements and practices are usually, under deep and complicated exteriors, sometimes pompous, simply indexes, indicia, indexes-indicia put into light. Lots of elements of images, music, writing, mathematics and logic too. An environment becomes hominid, transversalizes, insofar as it consists in indexed or indexable indicia and in diversely indicializing indexes. A few indicia are then sufficient to raise indexes. Only a few indexes suffice to open a field of indicia.

 

 

5B. Corporal propositions to indexation

 

5B1. Indexing arms, hands, fingers and feet

 

The fact that the arm of the upright primate can extend and move linearly in every direction, and is even capable of wedging itself osseously in a stable direction, invited Homo to define global or specific orientations. More exact still, Homo's hands - particularly when they extend, straighten and wedge flat - propose innumerable indexes of pointing, delimiting, tracing, convecting, deciding. The hominid thumb is very detached and supplied by nerves, and the finger that soars alongside it in angle opening, the index finger, although not the longest, plays a prevalent role in this respect. In German, it is known as the "Zeige-finger", the pointing-tracing finger. In French, it is simply the "index", as its phalanx, its intermediate phalanx, its distal phalanx, when they rise, in contrast with the four other fingers that depress around it, are per se the organ of insisting indexations. To which the wrists and mobile fixation of phalanxes on the metacarpals add the indexations of rotation.

Furthermore, Homo’s two arms, two hands and two index fingers often offer indexations. And these two are capable to mark the beginning and the end of a segment simultaneously. To mark an angle. Or to mark the pace and tempo of a consecution. Or still, to transpose magnitudes onto other magnitudes, into an application (mapping, function) engendering measure. Finally, by mirroring each other, they are capable of provoking direct, returned, bilateral symmetries. Because, indeed, there are four or five manners of making two hands fit into one another: both facing each other, both back to each other, one facing and the other backing, both in various shifts or crossings, etc. Furthermore, these mirror effects can also occur between the faces of the hands and the faces of objects, which thus mutually index and indicialize.

Moreover, both plane hands easily form, when placed horizontally edge to edge, sometimes a unique cut, sometimes the two scales of a balance susceptible of receiving collections of small objects (in French "manipule", manus, plere, filling), such as grains or pebbles, to present them to someone else or to oneself, to compare them in numbers or quality. The hands of another's body can serve this purpose as well as one's own hands, and the chain of indexations that runs from body to body, ensures more than anything the "cum" of collaboration and companionship.

The fingers of both hands have such independent distal commands that they are in a way ten indexes capable of applying to ten objects, but also to touch each other in bi-univocal applications, one by one, one to two, one to three, two to two, three to two, five to five, etc. The word ”digit”, meaning “figure” in English, cleverly links “figures” to the fingers (lat. digitus). After all, Homo's ten fingers-indexes-digits, which he will one day write 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9, provide him with an abacus-indexator that is both sensorial, motor, objectal, multiply segmentarizable and substitutable.

Decimal systems, based on 10, illustrate well the power of the indexating hominid body. But vigesimal systems, based on 20, also do. The 2 x 5 toes added to the 2 x 5 fingers of the hands in a total of 20 fingers were long perceived as a privileged set in popular tales. Apart from the fact that, for some estimations, the basis 20 is often more significant than its 10 counterpart, the biped primate does not completely forget the quadruped primate from which it originates. Furthermore, since the days when the big toe, instead of spreading apart from the other toes like we find in monkeys, aligned itself with them to replace the median toe as fulcrum for walking and kicking, hominid feet have in turn become indexating pointing means. The transformation was probably consummated in Homo erectus after having been prepared in Homo habilis, if it is correct to attribute the latter, who was still quite arboreal, the fossil of a foot with a dominating median toe with an aligned big toe <PP.90>.

 

5B2. Indexing head, look, voice

 

Alongside the arms and fingers, Homo's head also became, at the end of its slender, mobile neck, capable of effective indexes to point targets, trace directions and movements, mark consecutions, collections, complementarities, sometimes leaning forward, sometimes raising a salient chin that we find in no other primates today, sometimes miming complete movements in the three directions at different speeds. According to the Greek "neF-ô" and Latin "nu-o", leaning the head forward marked agreement. It was the most important gesture of Zeus-Jupiter. Sovereignly nodding the head (caput, chief) from top to bottom or from left to right, greatly confirmed Homo as distanciating animal.

The indexating head summarized itself in the indexating eyes as the prominent brow bone recessed and as was selected the white of the eye, until then unknown by the anterior animality, which allows to "spear". Spearing totalizes indexation, as we shall see for mathematics and the role that the arrow and the trait-point <19 and Complement 11> plays. It indeed comprises three parts: a point of departure, a point of arrival, a shaft or intermediary trait tracing the direction, sometimes the force. The action of spearing, with its correlates of throwing, tracing, encompassing, ordering, convection, made of the hominid vision the look, where the face summarises, and which sometimes summaries the gesture of the entire body <3E>. Spearing gave the look its reduplicative and thematizing character (in French: garder, re-). We shall remember that the hominid look, guardian, is “taker” of point of view, angularizing and processional <1C1b>.

To the indexations of the face we shall add those of the voice, to which the differentiated cheeks and lips in the uprighting face, allowed pointing horizontal orientations while its sounds and later on its tones <15A> designated vertical directions by their height, and designated forces to notice or to produce by their intensity.

 

5B3. Indexing gait

 

The biped walk completes this list of indexations with dignity, because it was from the outset indexating by its frank and controlled pace, its directions, the spot (punctum, point) of its departure, arrivals, stops, and assuredly by its "tendencies towards" (ad-gressions). For Peripatetic philosophers, the walk and its pace, its allure, its drive, its internal and external distances, and rhythm in its many aspects, were not only an occasion of thought, but an important part of its exercise. The walk is gait as much by its distanciation than by its indexations.

 

5B4. The transversal and orthogonal referential

 

Assuredly, in order that this extraordinary panoply of indexes offered by Homo's body should flourish, it had to be salient and pregnant from a firm referential. Which is the case since, as we noted, Homo's upright and orthogonalizing body distributes a transversal plan, comforted by the left-right lateralization and in relation to which the two other plans orthogonalize. All the aforementioned indexes work in relation to the norm of these three so-called "normal" plans that are normative between them <1A2-3>.

Awakened by Homo's intensely indexating body, the *woruld in turn produced indexes in an indicial way. A branch on a path was perceived as an indicating arrow or the sign of a track. The magic wand, and later the baton of the conductor, was both indicium and index.

 

 

5C. Modalities of indexing

 

5C1. Indexing as semiotic fixation and segmentarization: pointing

 

The point and the centre each refer to the other. The point comes from punctum, from pungere, piquer (in French) like a bee sting. The centre comes from centrum (kentrum), from the Greek kentron, of kenteïn, which has the same sense as pungere. In both cases, the pointing is targeted in its most determinate action, reception, and sensation, which is the sting. For the ancients, the most striking sting was that of the bee.

Pointing is the exemplary techno-semiotic operation for segmentarizing Homo. Homo operates the first distribution of the environment into segments in two forms: (a) as between-two-segments, (b) as end (term, limit) of segment. When the limits of a set belong to it, the set is said closed; if they do not, it is said open. And it is a pointing that determines what will be so important in stories: the country, pagus, from pangere, darting, but also staking. Etymologically, the country is the portion of the *woruld where upright and transversalizing Homo stuck a central stake to make it his own. The study of the infants' gestures shows that holding up a fist to point to an object, which the primate never does, occurs very early on in hominid life.

 

5C2. Indexes as cinematic: direction and speed

 

The direction of an indexation does not deplete in the aiming of a point. It can mark and also mime from afar a real trajectory (jacere, trans), which can be rectilinear, curved, meandric. The straight line and the curve, in their immediate or distant tracing, do not suppose the same type of tension and wedging. These are distinct kinaesthetic experiences.

The indexating tracing may still have, and therefore mime, various, differentiated, differentiable (ferre, dis, duo, putting in bifurcation) speeds. The arm and the hand, with or without amplifying baton or stick, are so subtle in their tempo that they will one day be capable of regulating the dispersed movements of a symphonic orchestra.

 

5C3. Indexation as dynamic: charge and discharge (purification of indexes)

 

Indexes are not only a case for kinematics and movements. They often put a force into work. Already for those who emit those indexes, spread into them, express (premere, ex, pushing outside) their energy (ergein, in, acting inside) in them. Then for those who perceive them, if it is true that hominid brains infer the forces from which a movement proceeds and the forces that this movement will trigger; in other words, grasp movances <2B1>.

The charge of an index (carricare, convey) acts then doubly: positively by the vectoriality of its energy, negatively by the neutralisation or cancellation of what would not go in its sense. And on this occasion, it exploits the character of every receptive nervous, and probably motor, system: reinforcing crests, neutralising slopes, thus creating basins of attraction <2A2b>.

Thence the two major practices of the forefinger in Homo. That where he fully uses its convective charge, exalting its power more than its precision, in the warlord or conductor, the politician, the predicator. That, conversely, where precision more than power is targeted, such as in mathematics and physics, where indexations purify themselves from their charge as much as possible to only retain their pure vectoriality. The case of the arrow in mathematics <Complement 11> indicates well the limits of this purity as it is perfectly defined, without being axiomatizable in the expression "a quantity tends to another"; probably because in this case there is no way of absolutely erasing the charge (tension) inherent to the trend.

Every index, like every step, implies an aggression. However, if the latter is initiated in the rostral-caudal aggressiveness of anterior animality, it ends in Homo's transversalizing and frontalizing ad-gredi (walking-towards) <1A2>. It is therefore and to that extend that the index can be discharged, purified, for example in mathematics and logic <19-20>.

 

5C4. Indexation as switch. Yes and no: judgement

 

At the slightest deviation, an indexation shows or does not show. Includes or excludes. Excludes insofar as it includes. In short, it is oppositive and exclusive by nature. Saying yes or no. Yes therefore no. This or not-this. Here or there. Acting or not acting. According to the rhythm of the gesture and the voice, it can even specify: almost that, almost not that; rather here, rather there. It is mainly the indexation that, applying to indicia, makes segmentarizing and transversalizing Homo give rise to things-performances-in-situation-in-the-circumstance-over-a-horizon <1B3>. Symptomatically, the negation of the verb in French exploits the two major indexes, the point and the step: "il n'y en a point (punctum, point)", meaning “there is none”, and "il n'y en a pas (passum, step)", meaning “there are not any”.

In other terms, the index, even before mathematizing, opens the field of logic, meaning negation, exclusion, affirmation, choice and interrogation, with their reciprocal inferences. Logical calculation, just like mathematical calculation, is before all a calculation of indexations, or "indications" according to the words of Spencer-Brown. We will note that the same Latin root "jus" also gave us judgement, judge, justice, just (exact). Between her hands, Justice holds the scales, the most indexating of utensils: no/yes, bad/good, ugly/beautiful, true/false. Urteil, the German word for judgement also indicates the sharing (teilen) that characterises every judgement, of logic and right, and presents this sharing as fundamental, radical, first (Ur-).

 

 

5D. The semiotic of the index

 

Indexes are signs, meaning segments thematizing other segments, and depleting in this thematization <4A>.

Let us apply this precisely. In indexations, thematizing segments are arms, fingers, heads, looks, sounds-tones, steps; thematized segments are pointed segments, and have no other determination than to be pointed; the link binding these two types of segments is the direction of the pointing segment; and the latter depletes in this directional thematization. Indeed, if I sometimes index a segment by touching it or by pushing it a little (like we find in some of Descartes' demonstrations), it is not this physical action that matters, as it would be if it were a technical gesture. Stretching the arm or the finger or the look in a direction perhaps tells a collaborator to do such or such thing, but by itself, as a sign, it does nothing. Indexes are therefore actually signs.

Let us see how they contrast with indicia. And, indeed, going from the subject that indexes to the indexed object, the index is an intentional sign in the primitive sense of tense in-towards (tendere, in) conversely to the indicium that goes from the indicial object to the indicialising subject.

Index is also an empty sign. Assuredly, it is "full" of its indexation, its indexating charge, but this charge, although powerfully convective, points its objects without imputing them internal determinations. The emptiness of index even gives the emptiness of space, which is the set of all simultaneous indexations, and that we shall not confuse with the extent (extension, tendere, ex-) and with spatiality, which are both more concrete. And the same emptiness of the index also gives the "emptiness" of time, which is the set of consecutive indexations, that we shall not confuse with duration and temporality, that are also concrete <29B2>.

However, although intentional and empty, the index is quite motivated. It is true that it admits the arbitrary. In some countries, peoples say "yes" by shaking their head from left to right and "no" by moving the head back and forth. What signifies "go away" in one place means "come here" in other places. What was the precise reach of the gaghals (gegen-hals, mit zurückgebogenem Kopf) of ancient Nordic? But this arbitrary is limited, and two hominid specimens usually manage to get along on technical operations only using gestures, meaning a few shared indicium and many indexes. To signify that a profile of object goes in such a direction, why make a gesture in the opposite direction, even if this is not excluded per se. In the same way, why designate the greatest using a smaller gesture and conversely? And what hominid specimen doubts the direction of a physical and figural arrow? Indexes are less motivated than indicium, but still very motivated.

The motivation between index and indexed finds confirmation in the proximity of the index (exterior sign) and in the indexation (concept, neuronic synody) that it expresses. Specifically, between the mathematical sign (index) and mathematic concept it achieves (indexation), there is almost an equivalence or equipolence <19C>. But this proximity also creates the power of authoritarian gestures. Indicia and indexes strongly contrast on this point. In indiciality, as it is a transfer of inevitably blurry internal determinations, all sorts of errors, exaggerations, attenuations, and possible deviation slip between the indicium (material sign) and the indiciality (that vehicles the sign). On the other hand, since the index is an empty sign, there is little or no deviation between it and the indexation it completes. And it is usually even more constraining that, as is the case in mathematics, everything is done to avoid every possible deviation.

Let us go back to the notion of implicit or explicit charge of the index. It is not a mechanical charge; physically, it does not move anything directly, even if an eloquent and furious general lacerates his headquarter map by tracing the future path of his troops. In indexation as such, this aspect is not pertinent and is placed between parentheses. But it is often a semiotic charge in its result, at least when the indexing finger triggers actions and does not strictly limit itself to the assessment. And it is sometimes also a semiotic charge in its source, if it is true that the intensity of the physical effort of the indexator goes hand in hand with the importance of the semiotic effect it wants to produce. We suspect that on the morning of Salamis, the arms, look, voice and gait of Themistocles pointed to the Persian vessels with a rare physical and physiological en-ergeïa, and that the sailors were accompanied by it. The Australian frescoes of Wandjina man have shown for the past 50 kY that extended arms convey shamanistic exergy.

 

 

5E. From technique and indicia to indexes

 

Now is the time to ask what anthropogenic paths were called upon to put in place the index, a sign that, like indicium, supposes the practice of a distanciation other than technical distance. Two paths stem from what precedes.

(a) The technical path - In technician collaboration, it must have been frequent that the arm, hand, head, look, directed voice, step of a worker should start pointing, orienting, identifying, distributing enough the panoply and the protocol so that the eye or the ear of a collaborator, by following this hand, look or voice should reach a "thing" (cause), or precisely a thing-performance-in-situation-in-the-circumstance-over-a-horizon <1B3> and should perceive them as equivalents of an effector gesture, but sometimes also as purely thematized, not only at a distance, but in distanciation. The full technical gesture became then the empty sign of the index.

(b) The indicial path. - Around an indicium, it must have been frequent to double the link between the indiciator and the indiciated using a mime. This link, causal or semi-causal, could over time become simpler to the point of taking place in few localisations at a distance, and even in distanciation, without particular determinations.

In the strictest sense, technique, indicium and index call each other. Indexes whip technique and indiciality, and we can even wonder if these latter could have developed or be maintained without the help of indexations. Inversely, the indefinite complexity of technical and indicial cleavages leads to the complexification of indexes, which then call upon the (a) mathematics as general theory of indexations and absolute practice of the indexes: (b) logic as specific theory of negation-exclusion, affirmation, interrogation; (c) physics as applicability of increasingly purified indexes to increasingly purified indexables (events) in observation and experimentation.

 

 

5F. Indexes and macrodigitality

 

When we considered the brain, we distinguished two neuronal modes of representation: analogue representation and microdigital representation, the diverging properties of which are exploited by "analog computers", "digital computers" and "hybrid computers" <2A2e>. Without excluding macrodigitality, indicia rather illustrate the fecundity of analogy in its metaphors and metonymies. Indexes, without excluding analogy, rather illustrate the fecundity of macrodigitality.

Indexes belong to analogy, insofar as they mime - although in an arbitrary manner - the indexations they achieve. They even analogise amongst themselves, since they can inter-mime each other by miming at a distance the same directions, angulations, extremities, speeds, underlying forms, cardinal and ordinal values, the same known and unknown values (x, y, z), the same affirmations, negations-exclusions or questions, etc. This marks the starting point of mathematics and hints at the major role that the traced figure and writing played in it.

But indexes are particularly marvellous in macrodigitality. Because in every panoply, they only need to point to a sufficient number of non-sought objects for the sought object to stand out. We will have the opportunity to see that the semantic of spoken language and written characters, and even that of the most resembling images rests for a good part on such exclusive oppositions: this is partially "this", analogically; but it is also "not that", "not that either" and so on, macrodigitally. As we also find in the figure and writing.

 

 

5G. Indexes and society

 

The contribution of indexes in technical actions, peaceful or warlike, doubles with their social contribution, if it is true that indexes make up most of languages, first gestural then spoken, and thus also most of collaboration, education, sexuality, instances, clientèle, thus, in a word, of the encounter in general <3>.

 

5G1. Index and languages: the language of gestures. Framings

 

Although slower in some occasions, the gestural language can almost completely compensate spoken language, and it is even more efficient than spoken language in transmitting technical knowledge, which is essentially made up of mimetic and indexating gestures. Today still, the apprentice learns more by following the substitutable and coaptable segments as well as the indicia indexed by his master than by reading carefully drafted descriptive texts. It is rare that a technical specification sheet is enough without "joining the gesture to the words".

Recent studies verify that the introduction of sign language takes place at the same time as spoken language. This suggests that the fundamental phenomenon in both cases is the development of the conceptualizing association and neutralization of which Homo’s neuronic synodies are capable and which, according to opportunities, express either linguistically or gestually. In this sense, an anthropogeny can only be attentive to the fact that autists communicate better using gestures, for example using the American Sign Language, than with spoken languages. The existence of writing independent from specific languages, such as Chinese writing, completes this picture.

However, sign language essentially consists in indexes and indexations, with only a few detailed mimes, themselves strongly indexed or indexating. And we will note that, in spoken language too, the most prestigious concepts, not only mathematical and logical but also philosophical, are mainly clusters of indexes comforted by indicia: "sublimation", "inwardness", "transcendence", "immanence", "weighting", "balance", "evidence", "desire", "hope", etc. Apart from extreme cases, the ideological content of a political Right or Left is usually limited to feeling more "to the left" (at odds with) or more "to the right" (straight).

Moreover, indexes play a role in every transmission of information (understood as shaping) insofar as they are the most economical and decisive framing instrument and that for transversalizing, orthogonalizing and globalizing Homo, there is no techno-semiotic transmission without some framing, whether cutting a prey, elaborating a meal, deciding of the implantation of a habitat, writing a text, making a photograph. A frame is both an index and indexation referential. As is the rectangular sheet on which our rectangular texts take place.

 

5G2. Index and positive election or power: slicing, charge and indefinity

 

The internal charge of indexes implies and explains their imperative, exclusive, comminatory (minari, threaten, cum) character. They exclude, oppose, impose, intimate, forbid. It takes just a little bit of abruptness for the hand that picks "the one" to put "the other" out of the game. Once indexed, the observation turns to the order, obligation (ob-ligare, link frontally), to imposition (im-ponere, placing by weighing over), to exclusion. The semantic evolution of Latin word interdictio shows well this type of switching. At the start, it meant say-between (dicere inter) that marks the injunction, and ruling over "ut + subjunctive". But any injunction (jungere, in) is so often a warning (ut ne, not + subjunctive), or exclusion (a + ablative) that inter-diction (say-between) now means forbidding.

Between the "rejected" and the "taken", indexes and indexations have so invented, more than found, good and evil, true and false, ugliness and beauty, into couples where the negative pole probably preceded the affirmative pole each time. For logician Homo, before any demonstration, p is equivalent to non-non-p. And if it is the out-group that defines the we-group (in-group) rather than the contrary, it is largely because of indexes.

It is still indexes that mean that hominid power is not simply a continuation of animal leadership: Homo owes to indexes the indefiniteness, which makes him not graspable. By opposition to indicia, full signs, the indexes of commandment, empty signs, although triggering very specific task seem to proceed from an infinite source and to go to infinite aims. We find a good illustration of this in Tarragona, this statue of Augustus advancing toward the sea just an arm, a hand, a finger, a firm eye, which were enough to govern the empire, by cleaving its flows, like a rudder does to the water. Let us repeat that the front to back head movement, the "neFsis", expressed by itself the supreme power of Zeus-Jupiter. The French says of a leader he is drunk with power; power indeed is intoxicating insofar as the indexes to which is it due are charged; some people feed on power both physically and semiotically.

There is a tight relation between indexes and weapons. Homo's tensed and pointed arm was first ended with a massive flint, then a cut flint, then a spear, a sword, a revolver, sort of supercharged indexating finger. True or fake weapons combine so well the caudal-rostral motricity of animality with the transversality of indexation that they must have fascinated hominid specimens from childhood forever, at least the males, thematising salience <3C1>. They make power through their forces, but as much through the indexation that brandishes them and that they are. The staging of the firing squads makes that it does not miss its target, but mostly that it points good versus evil, false versus true, ugly versus beautiful, the in-group versus the out-group (we-group). Indexations have triggered as many and more wars than interests and have maintained them for longer.

Indexation culminates in fascination and hypnosis where the hypnotist, using orientations of his voice, lights fixations and simple convecting rhythms, creates in the hypnotized a gravitation of the attention that takes over any possible evasion <2B9>. The spotlights of film maker-photographer Leni Riefenstahl pointing on Hitler at Nuremberg indexed him, turning him in turn into a gigantic hypnotising and hypnotised index. His word and the screams responding to his voice only had to follow the convections already traced by the indexes of lights. Great revelations will often consist of (jets of) light and (raised) voices, those two vehicles of major indexations.

 

5G3. Index and negative election: the scapegoat

 

We have just seen that the indexating charge is as much negative-exclusive than it is positive. Three children find a dead bird; at that moment, a fourth child appears; they don't know him as well as they know each other; they are three, he is one; but perhaps above all, because of the configuration of the terrain, they come from above, while he comes from below. Everything is played. Arms signalling (indexing) that he is arriving (from the bottom) are three accusing arms (from the top) that point at him. Instantly, the bird is not dead from natural causes, it has been killed. Killed by the one that is coming. Here, the location is as accusatory as the incident and as the human relations, as film directors will well understand.

Let's widen this example to the situations of native Homo, and let us suppose in a hominid group the perishing of plants or game, the spreading and repetition of illnesses, a destruction of goods. In other words, let us imagine that a state of instability accompanied by a difuse maleficent charge is created in a group. And let us imagine that a few troubling indicia appear. In a plant. In an animal. In a member of the group. Especially if this takes place in a place or a moment already predestined.

Then, just a vacillating or fixed, blurry or defined, voluntary or aleatory indexation going to this indicial focus will be enough for the entire charge immanent to the group to rush, by convection and intercerebrality <2B9> to this point-trait and thematise the scattered things (causae) into accusations (causare, ad). In French "pointing to someone with the finger" means "questioning". As etymology states, accusation (causare, ad) is linked to transfers of causality. And it will soon change into guilt in the primitive sense of stumble, false step (not yet of internalized fault) since the false step (passus) is the classic error for rhythmic walker Homo <1A5>. Under the charge of indexation, the indexed is subject to the indexing "questioning" gesture like he will later be subject to the witnesses “against”. This goes further, the charged "someone" attracts others "some ones", fascinates them in the literal sense; indexed, it becomes index. And the false step will comprise its remedy. Because all the social charge being thus accumulated in a bad index, it is probably enough to destroy it, to dismiss it, to submit it, to emit it, so that all that it is indicium to should be dismissed, submitted, emitted at the same time.

It goes without say that the scapegoat can also be an entire people (the Jew for the German, the Palestinian for the Jew, the Jew for the Palestinian). And that anyone, or even anything (cause) can become scapegoat. Any hominid specimen or group offer enough unpleasant or worrying indices and they are sufficiently voluntarily or involuntarily indexating or indexable to accumulate a charge and constitute, in cases of emergency, splitters (scapegoats) through a simple indexation that has become indicial.

The couple of the chief and the scapegoat, both of whom result from the indexation, illustrate how the indexator and the indexed can turn on one another, and how they are both attractive and repulsive in an invincible circularity. The ambiguity of love turning into hatred and hatred changing into love is a very subtle phenomenon in a tragedy by Racine. But it is also one of indicializing and indexating Homo's most archaic and rough experiences <11L2-3>.

 

5G4. Index and violence. Rape

 

Hominid groups are often violent. They defend their values, their saliences and pregnances that only activate-passivate each other well in contrast with other foreign values, those of the out-group allowing the in-group to articulate. If a hominid group is as easily unanimous and focusable, it is because it is enough that someone or something should become an index in it, with the charge of any indexation, to create a more or less rhythmical convection and gravitation. Sometimes pointing to a vertiginous target. Sometimes propagating scattered fragments. But always through adhesions to a yes/no concerning as much the switchover itself as the opposed terms. Violating an object or a valued member of the other group is the basic method of indexating violence because of its strength, but also because of its implications of breakup. In English, to violate duplicates to infringe, transgress, interrupt, disturb, and break.

 

5G5. Index and commerce: presents, presentations and merchandises

 

One of the most powerful indexes is the one Homo realizes when he does with both his flat hands a unique cup to present something, therefore make it present, make it go-before (prae-esse), or still offer it, carrying it across the encounter (ob-ferre). Homo can also use both of his hands like the two comparative plates of a scale. In these two cases a merchandise is created in the wide sense (merx, element of exchange), either that the object of the right hand-platter compares to that of the left hand-platter, or that the object in the cup formed by the two hands of a specimen should compare itself to the object in the cup of the two hands of another.

Commerce (merx, cum) in the full sense is the exchange of merchandises in the wide sense (merx, cum). According to the French use, it then extends from merchandises in the strict sense, i.e. objects and services that can be valued in monies, to thoughts and sentiments, roles and grades, sexual relations ("commerce with"); English uses the same semantic extension. In the primitive bargaining, not only objects but also prestige are exchanged, where double take is adjoined with a double gift (Mauss), involving the giver as much as the given; Boas and Mauss assuredly exaggerated the prodigality of the native American potlatch, imagining that to every gift of one responded a greater gift of the other until the ruin of one of the two, but this practice, of which Barnett, Drucker and Heizer have demonstrated the functional and non-destructive characteristic, remains emblematic of that the prestigious exchange overruns the simple trade. Merchandise in the narrow sense, giving way to strictly evaluable trades and purchases is a derived economic conception characteristic of our very industrialised societies but, today still, bargaining remains a weighting of objects and roles, and it is frequent that Africans make the difference between buying and paying, whence "paying" designates the action of exchanging goods against money as in supermarket that only offers merchandises in the narrow sense, while "buying" means a much wider exchange implicating advances, refusal, agreements on value, interests and desires.

We will compare that to grades. Polynesia "grade societies", the Roman's "cursus honorum", the "spits" of Napoleon's Braves, the Freemason's "degrees" of initiation, the "standing" of contemporary habitat are all indexes situating hominid specimens in a social distribution that they often perceive as natural <25B2c> by conversion of the indexes into indicia. We shall specify that the notion of grade is wider than hierarchy, which implies subordination, which did not intervene structurally in primary societies, but only occasionally, for a few punctual efficiencies, in hunting, combat, customary decisions, chieftainship.

 

5G6. Index and collaboration. From community to society. Socius

 

What precedes is enough to explain what indexes brought to the articulation of hominid groups in their *woruld (world, Welt) <1B>. It was both the precision and the grasping in distanciation, because they are more distanciating that indicia, the proliferation of which always ends up submerging he who handles them. Indexes stimulate negation-exclusion, affirmation, and interrogation. And as Homo was gradually lateralizing, they reinforced the couples: accentuated/unaccentuated; high point/low point; beaten time (thesis)/lifted time (arsis).

More specifically, they establish the opposition of marked/non marked poles <3B>, where the non-marked was the obvious (such as the masculine and singular in French) whereas the marked required a specific determination (such as the feminine and the plural in French). That way, the *woruld was distributed according to the markings: right/left, singular/plural, masculine/feminine, adult/elderly, adult/young, high/low, etc., by which the pre-indicial and post-indicial cleavages of technique accentuated <4C2>.

French makes the distinction between community and society. The community defines the group consequences resulting from common charges (munus, cum) of transversalising Homo and an anthropogeny discovers it at the same time as the *woruld. Society supposes not only technique but also the sign. It needs the field of indicia and indexes, with their consequence of commerce, power and false step. Socius, a term thematized by Janet in around 1900, then designates the hominid specimen insofar as it functions in the technical and semiotic field. German makes the same distinction between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, by insisting, often with nostalgia, on the reign of affects, either violent or smoothed, in the former.

 

 

5H. Indicia-index

 

On our way, we have encountered many examples of the excitation of indexes by indicia, and indicia by indexes. In some cases, this reciprocal excitation borders on coincidence.

 

5H1. Indicializing indexes. Numerology

 

Therefore numbers, and more particularly the digits that write these numbers, have always exerted an easily understandable fascination on Homo. They are a matter of pebbles and fingers. The Latin calculus is a small calx, meaning a small pebble used to play, therefore apt for calculation. The Latin digitus gave us both the finger (doigt, in French) and the digit in English. Indexing fingers the ones by the others, or stones ones next to each other, or still, indexing fingers using pebbles and reciprocally is completing a mapping, an application (plicare, ad) of a set on another, it is calculating, playing at indexing little 'calces", discovering the functions that unite them, or rather, the functions they involve once they are activated.

However, these indexations and applications are not independent. They refer to each other by forming suites and series. Therefore, calculation seems to unveil, and even betray (tradere, pulling outside) a secret, hidden order and to that extent the indexes, empty signs, then become indicia, full signs. Knowing Homo's tendency to confound in magic the semiotic thematization and technical thematization <4D>, how can we not believe that numbers and their digits, these particularly abbreviated signs, neighbour the mystery that they could even reveal, and that by entering into them and moving cleverly amongst them one can change or at least grasp the order of the world? Homo has been numerologist since Egypt, since the neolithic, and perhaps since the "blazons" of palaeolithic images. Today still, some head-hunters seeking for high-performance staff for a company, exploit or at least pretend to exploit numerology as a diagnosis or at least as an activation process for the interview.

 

5H2. Indexating indicia. Astrology

 

The Greek phallos or Indian lingam designating the hominid penis in erection or surrection, and therefore the resurrection of the dead and spring, owe their prestige (stringere, prae, linking in front of) to their quality of both indicia of fecund copulation and of pointing, analogising and macrodigitalizing indexes. In the same way the baton, related to the phallos-lingam, became the sceptre, indicium of the strength of the warrior (as strike) and of the wisdom of the old (as support) without forgetting to be the index of the commandment in particular and of the power in general. The sceptre crossed the entire hominid history as the tightest of index-indicia and indicia-index.

The trail sign is exemplary. Reaching a bifurcation (Scheideweg, in German), there is a branch on the ground. It faces one of the paths that it opens. Was it placed there intentionally, and is it therefore an index? Or did it fall unintentionally, and is it only an indicia? It it a sign materialised in a material, a branch, or is it a material, a branch, that makes a sign? We already know that the indicium is magic when sliding from semiotic thematizatin to technical thematization <4D>. We must add that it can turn to an index, pointing-tracing the *woruld, thus pregnant of a new layer of paranoia <4F>.

The switchovers between indexation and indiciality can extend to the cosmic scale when a mountain becomes the indicium of a tectonic movement and its secular erosion under the wind and rain (weathering, Wetterung) at the same time as it becomes the index of something transcendent: sky or celestial power. The Japanese are still decrypting the indexing indicia and the indicializing indexes of Mount Fuji.

Astrology triggers a culmination of all the collusions between indexation, indiciality and magic. (a) Stars are indexators that privilege their constance. (b) They are sufficiently periodical to have given rise to numbers, and therefore to ordinal and cardinal numerologies. (c) They are sufficiently immobile to create figures and encounters carrying metaphoric and metonymical indicialities suggesting links and nodes of the Universe: isolated points for the Arabs (Aldébaran, Altaïr) or constellations for the Greek and Aboriginal Australians (Big and Small bear). (d) Belonging is the widest path of indiciality <4B2>, and stars are the ultimate belonging as they move to or from the last envelope of the *woruld. (e) Hominid things-performances are in-situation-in-the-circumstance-over-a-horizon and the stars are the patent reification of the horizon <1B3>, and of the presence-absence <8A> that activates and passivates in it in an exemplary manner.

How then would these macrocosmic trajectories and encounters, and these ultimate belongings not influence, for indexating and indicializing Homo, the microcosmic trajectories and encounters that he believes himself to be, as soon as he brings back the Universe to a *woruld? Astrologer Homo's thirst for indiciality and indexation is so great that it survives to the evolutions of signs from which it comes. The precession of equinoxes over 26 000 years means that the constellations move forth by a twelfth of dial over their zodiacal correspondent every 2 000 years approximately. However, in spite of the current lag between the Aries and other Zodiac signs, "Aries" hominid specimens have remained "Aries" for the past two thousand years. And they will probably still be so in two thousand years, when the zodiac constellations will have gone forth two notches in the dial.

 

5H3. The constant overlapping of index and indicium

 

The slidings between indicium and index perhaps explain that English speakers, who are strong logicians, have only kept one word, index (pl. indices) to designate both; pushing the confusion up to the point that they use indicia in the sense of index on postal items. Indeed, according to a certain vision of things, the *woruld not only "makes sign technically" in technical objects, or "contains signs" in non-intentional indicium, but almost "makes a sign semiotically" in the sense that it seems to index certain things. Such was the fundamental destiny-party of Emerson and Walt Whitman's American transcendentalism, followed by Ch. S. Peirce, who wanted nature to be so indicial-indexating that it showed God: "As to God, open your eyes, and you see Him". The United Kingdom is the land of haunted castles per se, and what are phantoms if not indicia doubled by indexes, and indexes doubled by indicia ?

However, it was the Romans who elaborated the distinction between indicia and indexes, indicia/indices, as they were the first to see the extent to which politics was, at the scale of an empire that encompassed the Mediterranean, the art of playing, laterally and very far, with a few indicialities and indexations that were simultaneously flexible, vague, and extraordinarily adaptable. But the Romans themselves underlined their link by making them both derive not only of the same *deik (showing) root, that is also that of the Greek deik-nu-naï (showing), but also that of dicare-indicare, which designates the pacific elective declaration (dicare, devote, consacrate) or accusatory declaration (indicare, accuse), in contrast with dicere-indicere designating the simple (dicere) objectal or solemn (indicere) declaration.

Homo often wondered if for him experience preceded conceptualization or if conceptualization came before experience <2B2>. Taking into account indexation allows us to see that the question is perhaps misplaced insofar as the indexes, particularly when applied to a field of indicia (the "things" of the *woruld indicialized by technical segmentarization) give birth to experiences and conceptualisation, the blurry and the specific, the singular and the general, the charged (impure, concrete) and the discharged (pure, abstract). And signal how the vagueness of the notion (from noscere, inchoative verb) constantly precedes and introduces the idea (eidos, detached figure) and the concept (conceptus, capere cum, taken into a system).

 

SITUATION 5

It would be necessary to build a logic of indexed indicia and indicial indexations, meaning all the possible encounters of indiciality and indexation. This logic would be complicated although feasible. It is remarkable that Homo has little or not yet initiated it. It would have saved Homo from many psychologies, sociologies, epistemologies and ontologies, both insignificant and gratuitous. And from some inconvenient logics too. Because nothing determines more imperiously the cognitive and practical possibilities and limits of hominid specimens.

As to the theory of pure indexations (discharged), it is made up by mathematics, which is the general theory of pure indexations and the pure practice of pure indexes. This is also the case of logics insofar as they are formalised. We shall develop this in chapters 19 and 20, where we will signal the proximity between indicialities, indexations and invariants of perception.

 

Henri Van Lier

Translated by Paula Cook, 2015

(Last update, October 12, 2017)