FIRST PART - BASIS
Chapter 6 - POSSIBILIZATION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
6B. Modes of existence: submission/bluff, confrontation/isolation, seriousness/play, exploration/coquetry, dream/reverie
Chapter 6 - POSSIBILIZATION
We could have spoken of possibles and even of possibilization as a tendency to move within possibles as soon as the first chapter, where we saw that Homo's transversalizing body cut up his environment into coaptable and substitutable segments, therefore transforming it into a *woruld (world, Weld, wereld) <1B1>.
Indeed, through their substitutability, the segments of techniques grouped in panoplies and protocols are grasped as capable of being elsewhere than where they are, or to be able to be what they are at another moment, or still, to transform into something other than what they are. Homo's angulator and processional vision <1C1> adds that the segments can then be grasped under another angle or in other reciprocal slidings. And the hominid associative and neutralising brain indicates that the same given can be situated at diversely neutralised, general, blurry levels of apprehension <2B2>. Possibilization was even present since the walk with its eight aspects of rhythm: alternation, interstability, accentuation, tempo, self-engendering, convection, strophism, distribution by nodes, envelopes, resonances, and interfaces <1A5>. Indeed, the rhythm can be defined in two words as the possibilized reiteration.
However, we felt that it was more frank to introduce the possibles and possibilization after putting in place indicia and indexes. Because technique is not enough, we also need indiciality <4> and indexation <5> to open the order of thematization of one segment by another, in distanciation and not only at a distance. And, the possible is only really itself when notions of "under other forms", "elsewhere", "in other times", "under another angle", "in other processional slidings " escape the weight of the functional materiality of technical thematization. Furthermore, there is only frank possibilization if, in the handling of segments, the endotropic regimen of the associative and neutralizing brain becomes increasingly independent from its exotropic regimen. Indiciality and indexation contribute greatly to the latter.
In any event, the possibilization of segments and possiblized segments definitely open the anthropogeny. Because, next to the definition of Homo as techno-semiotic animal, the other richest and surest is the definition that sees Homo as the possiblizing animal.
6A. Meditation, contemplation, consideration. Desire versus super-predation
It goes without saying that possibilization, as it put itself in place, gave hominid specimens immense physical powers over their environment, rival species and their own congeners. So biologists like to say that Homo is the super-predator because its possibilized predations are unlimited in their ends and in their means, and that Homo therefore places itself above all predator-prey-predator chains.
But there is a risk that this manner of speaking could induce error. Indeed, predation is caudal-rostral, even when it acts by the band, such as with packs of wolves that hunt their game diagonally. But Homo's body is transversalizing <1A2>, like the panoplies and protocols that it opens <1B>. Therefore, for Homo, predation - except in some rare and extreme cases of urgency - is never more than a possible amongst others. It is as fragile and temporary as any other possible.
Specifically, we should not confuse with predation (even if the latter is detoured and differed) this hominid performance that power is, even when power seems to limit itself to monopolizing the resources available in one place and to exploitating other people. In French, power (pouvoir) is both verb and substantive. It shares its etymology with strength (puissance in French) and also with possible and possibilization, all aspects of which it stirs, particularly the pure thematization. We have seen the pure thematization cumulating in indexations and infinite (indefinite) indexes by dint of being empty <5G2>, and therefore typically possibilizing.
Therefore, through possibilization, Homo not only sees, hears, acts etc. like all prior animals, but he also meditates, measures and proportions (modus, measure, proportion), since its indicialities and indexations impose comparative delimitations everywhere. Homo contemplates, keeping its environment together as though it were a temple (templum, cum), i.e. a place delimited by the stick of an augur to serve as an area of intense indiciality and indexation, even as a mantic. Homo considers, therefore assembles its environment as he does for the stars (sidera, cum), which of all indicia carry his indexations the farthest, making him an astrologist <5H2>. Lastly, through its things-performing-in-situation-in-the-circumstance-over-a-horizon, Homo desires, grasping everything, objects, others, actions-passions, like from the stars (sidera, de), into beings from afar, into activations-passivations that thematize presence for him <2B10>.
Whether he meditates, contemplates, considers or desires does not only mean that Homo sees and hears together a lot of "things" that can be counted and substituted, but also that he keeps them in suspense as he weighs them (pendere, sus-, sub-). Thinking (pensare) is the frequentative-intensive form of weighing (pendere). Standing in a declared frontality, and even more when seated. Rodin's Thinker compatibilizes vertical and horizontal, referential stability and guard, vigilance and floating attention, opening around him the technicizable segments of the *woruld like a field of possibles.
The passage from caudality-rostrality to transversality does not diminish the momentum of possibilization. That in less than forty thousand years (40 kY), and especially in less than two centuries (0,2 kY), Homo Sapiens Sapiens should have succeeded in displacing the ecological balances resulting from 5 billion years on a planet like the Earth is a rather good demonstration of the organising and perturbing capacities of a brain that has become meditative, contemplative, considering, weighing, suspending, desiring.
6B. Modes of existence: submission/bluff, confrontation/isolation, seriousness/play, exploration/coquetry, dream/reverie
Exotropic circulation, where the brain centres on things, and endotropic circulation, where it more or less works in a closed circuit, constitute the primary attitudes of an animated organism <2A3>. In such a way that the prevalence, or initiative, of one of these two circulations gives way to fundamental modes of existence of a hominid or animal specimen: bluff or submission, seriousness or play, confrontation or isolation, exploration or coquetry, dream or reverie. This is the primary, and most fundamental field of hominid possibilization. As technical and semiotic being, Homo thematizes the modes of existence, multiplying them, slicing them, combining them and qualifying them to his wishes. Higher and lower animals display the same modes of existence than Homo, but with less resources.
Yet, even possibilized by Homo, the relations between both cerebral circulations are not infinite. And we find ourselves here in the presence of a relatively closed system that a Heideggerian philosopher would call "existential". Not that this combinatorial does not result in infinite subtleties, like Mozart's music is the vastest demonstration. And it is not for nothing that this musician excelled both in opera and concerto, both genres of the mood. But even the most fleeting nuances intervene within the framework of an elementary combinatorial.
We will try to suggest it in a table, which proved sufficiently relevant and exhaustive that a logician friend of the author should remind the latter that he had noted at first glance that the author had forgotten the "confrontation/isolation" case. Here is the presentation of the table. "A" names any hominid specimen and "B" what A finds in front of it: something inert, an animal, another hominid specimen. The term "exo" designates exotropic cerebral circulation and "endo" designates endotropic brain circulation both for A and B, at least when the latter is animated. The signs ">>" and "<<" mark a strong drive, the ">" or "<" signs indicate a weak drive. Therefore, we shall read "exo<<endo": "The endotropic circulation strongly drives the exotropic circulation". Where a mode of existence is deduced in two lines, the first corresponds to moment 1, the second to moment 2; and both moments, to be read in boustrophedon [from left to right and then from right to left], are thence in circularity, 2 reintroducing 1. As for the inverted disposition "endo-exo" of A and "exo-endo" of B, it follows from what A and B are supposed to face one another.
Here, the word bluff comes from the English "to bluff", meaning "to deter (discourage) or frighten by pretence (tension forward, pre-tension) or a mere show (pure manifestation) of strength (force)" (Merriam-Webster). For the rest, the French etymology makes a sufficient phenomenology when it signals that submission means putting oneself under; that confrontation takes place face to face; that isolation means constituting oneself into an island (isola); that exploration is not without effort and even without cries (plorare, ex); that the complexities of coquetry are suggested by the behaviour of a cock; that dream and reverie (r-esver) means going here and there, to wander and wandering off - the former outside of reality, the second by caressing reality from afar; that play (jocus) and seriousness (serius) are a couple (joca/seria, joco seriove), the seriousness of A going off exotropically from B [the reality B] - whether inert or living - to react endotropically over it, whereas in the game A goes from an endotropic grasping that it imposes to B in the form of rules ("the rules of the game") and only takes into consideration the returns of B within the framework of these rules, the rest being precisely put off-play. Philologists will note that "serius, seria, serium" was only an adjective, often in neutral plural seria: "Serious things", whereas as it probably befits possibilizing Homo, jocus was a substantive, even a god for Horace: Jocus. They will also observe with great interest that the French "jeu" comes from Latin jocus, which insisted on the disengagement, and not from Latin ludus which insisted on the exercise aspect, to the extent that it both meant "game" and "school" (ludi magister, schoolmaster).
Bluff and submission deserve specific attention and a place at the top of the list, because they clearly make the distinction between possibilization and super-predation. We could naively think that for Homo, submission results from a constraint or from bad luck. Yet, when we observe the role plays of children (and adults) we see that in the servant/master couple, most want to occupy both positions in alternation: that of slave-serf, that of master. Everything then happens as if hominid, and already some animal, specimens would immediately perceive occupable positions, taking part cerebrally (virtually, endotropically) to both, regardless of the position they currently occupy. Moreover, we find in many a predilection for the positions of submission. Perhaps because there are more weak than strong people, but also because it is from submission that both positions are better grasped and possibilized simultaneously (Hegel made it the core of his slave and master dialectic ). Neither antique slavery nor great modern dictatorships can fully be explained without the pleasure of commanding for a few and the pleasure of obeying for most. Through a grasping of the "commanded/commanding" couple as possiblized and possibilizator.
The anthropogeny does not offer to complete a general theory of any of the alleged modes. Therefore it goes without say that the exploration mode is not limited to the >> << / << >> cycle, which would make it a simple suite of confrontation and isolation. When successful, it often results in seriousness; when thwarted, it sometimes takes refuge into the game. Here, we contented with observing that the fundamental modes of existence of Homo, or at least a few, find their starting point in the available relations between the exotropic and endotropic regimen of our brains.
6C. Categories of possible
We must renounce to make an exhaustive inventory of the eventualities of possibilization, as by definition it is an indefinite opening. But it is crossed by some large articulations, some of which are categorial - which means that they distribute fundamental forms of judgement (katègoreFeïn, agoreFeïn, kata, speaking against, making visible, judging).
Several of these categories of possible are forming the summit of metaphysics, which we could think are not very accessible. At the same time, they belong so closely to Homo's possibilizing transversality that they inhabit the daily lives of all hominid specimens and are perceived by children from a very early stage, at the same time as humour. Up to the point that the anthropogeny may suppose that they inspired the behaviours of the first upright primates, long before the implementation of a detailed language <16, 17>, or a massive language <10D>; because the gesture, analogizable and digitizable, suffices here through its indicia and indexes.
6C1. The virtual. The difficult and the easy
"Things" (causes) grasped by transversalizing, neutralizing and conceptualizing Homo's perceptive-motor circuits, and thereby simultaneously indicialized and indexed, are swollen (pregnant) with possible realisations that are contained within them virtually (virtus, virtù, secret virtue). Through the distance and distanciation that it establishes between the possible and the reality, the virtual leads to the difficult/easy couple that is unknown to anterior animals, as they are recoilless in the obstacles encountered and efforts to overcome them. We shall note on this occasion that for Homo, "difficult" is linked to the required physical efforts, but also often to the incompatibilities of the technical and semiotic series that he has to intertwin.
6C2. The excluded
Possibilization opens a field where "things" (causes) are chosen, and where, simultaneously, because of the macrodigitality of hominid indexes, others are excluded, either temporarily or definitely. The excluded of such choices could have been chosen and thus could have been. The problem, whether practical or theoretical, for metaphysician Homo will be to know what weight of being, reality, real he should attribute to this "could have been" compared to "being".
6C3. The having-missed-her/his/its-conditions
If our planet's climate or tectonic conditions had been different, there would have been other species, even other branches. These different branches did not occur. However, they were not absolutely impossible, they were possible under other conditions. This conditional potential applies to familiar phenomenon: the weather could have been good, even if the weather was bad. Very close to reality, almost real, the having-missed-its-conditions is particularly worrying for Homo.
6C4. The imagined
For transversalizing Homo, the endotropic regimen of the brain provides endlessly proliferating imagined that carries existing, virtual, excluded, not-having-had-its-conditions. This imagined can then try to realise itself in the current, by exploiting its virtualities for example, according to the slopes of the easy and the difficult. But it can also suffice itself endotropically, either by remaining in simply envisaged means and ends (visus, in), or by producing totally self-sufficient consecutions that no longer even aim at the order of means and ends, and content with proliferating aggregative syntaxes (AND), disjunctive (OR), conditional (IF... THEN), into an almost pure possibilization. These possibles of the imagined are the privileged material for reverie.
6C5. The impossible
There is also some impossible when a goal is out of reach, if a means fails, if the various elements that would form a thing-performance-in-situation-in-the-circumstance-over-a-horizon are incompatible amongst themselves. But, in virtue of possibilization, impossibility is not merely a fact as with anterior animals, it is additionally a crossed out, refused possibility. This is why for Homo, the impossible is itself part of the possible, having been possible endotropically, or rather considered endotropically as possible before being refused. This refusal is therefore never a pure and simple offside. Anthropogenically, the impossible is not nothing. Under Homo's yes/no indexes, the possible and impossible will even become one of the basic applications of macrodigitality, and one of its lightning strikes in power. A lightning strike limited in human power, unlimited in divine power.
It is symptomatic of the relations between possible and impossible that a hominid specimen should one day have asked oneself if God could do that the three angles of the triangle should not be equal to two right angles; that all the lines drawn from the centre to the circumference should not be equal; or generally, that contradictories "should be together". It is even more symptomatic that it should have replied yes (Descartes, Letters to Mersenne dated 27 May 1630 and to Meslant on 2 May 1644).
6C6. The condition of the being
In the end, the opposition of the possibles to the impossibles makes that the possibility becomes an indispensable condition of every being. Inversely, every being shows its own possibility just because it is: "ab esse ad posse valet illatio" (from the being we may infer the power of being).
6C7. The necessary and the contingent. Opportunity. Coincidence
For the hominid brain, the necessary is then what cannot not be, it is what of which the conditions of possibility comprise the present existence. In front of the hominid brain the necessary defines the contingent (tangere, cum) as what can (could) not be. For Leibniz, one day Homo will invoke the necessary as ultimate reason for being. But Homo will be embarrassed to decide if the conditions of possibility so invoked must be physical or only mental. Or still, and this is extreme rationalism, if, mental, they are not already physical in some way.
For Homo, the non-necessary has at least four forms: the eventuality (venire, ex), contingency (tangere, cum), occasion (cadere, ob), coincidence (cadere, in, cum). All refer to encounters (hazardous, aleatory, stochastic) between independent series. Under the form of contacts or falls. Fantasmatically, the atoms of Democritus fell into space and the events of the cosmos resulted from their shocks and skirmishes.
6C8. The spontaneous, the available, the suspense
Sometimes then, the possible has a so good face that it seems to naively implicate its passage from virtual to actual, from the imagined to the actual, from the reason for being to being, in a sort of will that is independent and without constraint, like a natural source: it is spontaneity (spons, spontis, source). Correlatively, sometimes possibility maintains an open expectancy, non-oriented, related to a fecund passivity. It is then availability (ponere dis, pose as a double).
Finally, possibilization allows, apart from the expectation of the possible and the impossible, the settling in intermediate states, which we call suspense (hang above): suspense between virtual and actual, between easy and difficult, between exotropic and endotropic, between being and non-being, between the possible and the impossible, between the sufficient and insufficient conditions, between the contingent and the necessary, between the active and the passive. The épochè (ep-ekHein, standing above) was a modality of suspens for the Greek Sceptics. Like the nirvana (nis, vâti, out of, reach) in India. The preposition "entre" (in French) or "between" (be, *twa) as it intervenes in the between-two, is of a considerable anthropogenic scope. We find it in one of the most sophisticated forms of the possibilization, the "putting between brackets", whether it is logical or ontological.
6C9. The compossible
However, when Homo envisages the possible, it is often the compossible, meaning not the isolated possibles but those that can coexist concretely (crescere, cum). This is probably what the following expression targets: "politics is the art of the possible" to mean that it is the art of producing decision that, instead of starting from abstract principles, take into consideration, on the occasion of a thing-performance, all the dimensions of a situation-in-the-circumstance-over-a-horizon. From a hominid perspective, the postulation of existence of compossibles is even stronger than that of the possible, and for a while, Homo thought he could see (like Leibniz) the substances and events of the world engender themselves in virtue of their best compossibility inside an infinitely possibilizing divine intelligence.
6D. Possibilized affects
Affects, which are selected to support the urgent or prolonged behaviours <2A4>, were also the field for hominid possibilization. It extended them, sometimes reinvented them. Whether they are affects of liaison, such as pleasure and attraction, or affects of escape, such as pain and fear.
6D1. Pleasure, pleasures, enjoyment, joy
Animal pleasure often comprises a Baldwin reaction, meaning a perception inducing a motricity, which renews the perception that in turn re-induces motricity. Like the alternations of thirst and deglutition in bibition, that quenches thirst. Or the to-and-fro of pressure-relaxation of copulation.
For Homo, this cyclic mechanism extended and intensified thanks to transversalization and conceptualization (association-neutralisation) which allow him to treat things-performance with insistence, and to maintain them in a certain meditating, contemplating, considering, desiring distanciation suspended in a surfing sliding from one situation-circumstance-horizon to another. Hominid pleasure is the possibilized pleasure up until complaisance (placere, cum). Therefore, French easily slides from singular "plaisir" to plural "plaisirs", signifying incessant passages, dosages, modulations, excitations, allostasis: "il court les plaisirs" (he runs from pleasure to pleasure).
As a result, hominid pleasure goes hand in hand with rythm and its eight characteristics <1A5>. To the extent that it would be safer to keep the word pleasure for Homo, who is alone capable of rhythm, therefore of possibilized repetition; for animals we would speak of contentment (continere) and alacrity; the Latin alacritas applied to horses. Unfortunately, this use, which would enlighten the anthropogeny, is too contrary to the uses of physiologists who use the term pleasure widely and we will speak therefore of "possibilized pleasure" in the singular, or of "pleasures", the plural of which marks possibilization in itself.
Following the French semantic, Homo ultimately activated several nuances of possibilized pleasure. Diffuse pleasure accompanies some technical and social practices without being cultivated for itself. Pleasures, plural, insist on the sliding passage from pleasure to pleasure in a renewal which is thematized as allostasis. Enjoyment signals the case where pleasure insists rhythmically and puts in resonance (almost) all the instances of one hominid specimen to the extent that it creates a closed, narrow, absorbing, downward system, like that felt when slowly eating chocolate or during genital to and fro. Joy also marks a sufficiency of pleasure, but through a non-absorption, a quality of breadth in altitude, an indefinite expansion that qualifies it as spiritual (spirare); it is a sound range in an almost immobile height that concludes the Ode to Joy (Freude), in the 9th symphony.
Therefore, the anthropogeny will avoid considering liaison affects (pleasure, pleasures, enjoyment, joy) as simple supports of the act. In a being that is physical, technical, semiotic, analogising, digitalising, etc., enjoyment - particularly diffuse enjoyment as global rythmization of existence - was probably the primary motor and ultimate end of operations, whether the latter are easy, difficult, almost superhuman, playful or ascetic, selfish or altruistic.
6D2. Pain, sorrow, sadness. Fear, fright, terror, horror
The possibilization of fleeing affects was not less anthropogenic than that of liaison affects. Pain, in its receptors and specialised nervous paths, that we shall not mix up with that of touch, enjoys a much simpler structure than pleasure, because it is an urgent response to urgent threats: severe wounds or physiological unbalances. However, when it possibilises, it can also modulate, become subtle, more endotropic and even rhythmic, to give way to suffering (die Leiden), sorrow that the animal already shows. Sadness both reduces and deepens pain, suffering and sorrow, and often creates a system with joy.
There is even a strong regimen of these states, such as fright, terror, horror. Etymology in this case is not very instructive, as it simply sends back to the animal aspects of experience, to the intensified fear for fright (pavere, being frightened, ex, -tare frequentative) to the avoidance by dread in terror (terrere) to the rising of the hair in horror (horror, standing up, trembling). It is perhaps because these reactions are so complex, that they suppose such cerebral orchestrations, that we despair identifying them by another means than through a few exterior traits. So what we call horror takes place in events where suddenly signs no longer carry out their distanciation work. This occurs in three increasingly radical circumstances. (a) When an hominid specimen loses every coordination by nervous - particularly cerebral - malfunction. (b) When the situation becomes insurmountable or strange (foreign) to the extent that it can no longer be coordinated; it is Marlon Brando's hollow "Horror!" whispered at the end of the film Apocalypse Now. (c) When, in the thematisation that the signification is, there only remains - for one of the two previous reasons - the pure, empty, evacuating, emptying signification: Sartre's experience of the absurd alleges the drain hole.
In itself, fleeing affects relative to pain are not rhythmical, unlike the liaison affects relating to pleasure. Sometimes they irrupt and sometimes they stagnate. However, for technical and semiotic homo, everything is ultimately susceptible of possibilising elaborations. There will therefore be rythmic pains, musicalized not only in music but into everyday gestures.
6E. The natural incarnations of indefinite possibilization
It is highly instructive for the anthropogeny that hominid evolution should have selected three behaviours-conducts where possibilization realises itself organically: the smile, laughter, tears. And also that, in all three cases, it realises itself indefinitely, meaning without specific themes, turned to the horizon more than to a circumstance, a situation, a singular thing-performance <1B2>. In other terms, distanciation is here more lively than the distanced themes.
6E1. The smile
Studies by Cheng and Laroche with Pedre-Quadrens signalled in 1965 (Acta Psychologica) and 1966 (Journal de Psychologie normale et pathologique) that in the few hours following birth, "smiles", moderate tensions of certain muscles of the face, concord not only with states of food satiety, but also with REM sleep, which is considerable in the infant, and with the first genital erections. The adult smile realises states of possibilization practically devoid of object, diluting any particular thing, and therefore without worrying contradiction. However, REM sleep is an intense moment of the fusional cerebral digestions and genital erections prelude orgastic states, them too of indefinite availability. Therefore, the "smile" of the newborn would precociously testify of the little man being an animal from the distant, who will organise its things-performances-in-situation-in-the-circumstance on the indefinite of a horizon <1B3>. It only takes a few months before the "smile" of the infant - which is merely a reflex - is transformed into a real, intentional smile assuredly miming the smile of the adults taking care of him.
The smile is varied like the possibilization. It can be bitter or triumphant, or a mixture of the two, like the Khmer Buddhas. But its relation with death, supreme availability, is exemplary. "When you will encounter death, you will feel yourself smile. Do not be surprised, it always goes like this", says the Zen precept translated by Malraux. In the last phrase of Buzzati's Il Deserto dei Tartari, Giovanni Dongo dies whilst smiling to no-one. "dà ancora uno sguardo fuori della finestra, una brevissima occhiata, per l'ultima sua porzione di stelle. Poi nel buio <darkness>, benché nessuno lo veda, sorride".
Ethologists have wanted to see a precursory of the smile in the "silent bared-teeth display" of some superior primates, sign of non-hostility, sometimes even submission. But if the smile is silent, it does not denude the teeth and does not imply submission to another, but to something that goes beyond the other and oneself.
Laughter comes later than the smile in infants because it supposes the development of the thorax, larynx and pharynx. It is also possibilizing, thus characterizes man, insofar as its breathing jolts and bursts of sound make it capable to cancel situations and circumstances that escape social and technical control, such as conflicts between cultures, classes, language and reality, performances and aptitudes, etc. Where the smile surfs, laughter triggers a barrage fire. It is only when it is discreet and rejoins the smile that laughter puts between parenthesis instead of pushing away or becoming the sole focus of attention. This time, the rapprochement of ethologists with the "relaxed open-mouth display" of superior primates seems more pertinent, as this behaviour takes part to simulacrum of aggression. However, it does not include the flow of blasts of sound so essential to the burst of laughter.
Animals don't cry more than they smile or laugh. And for the same reasons. The tears - slow, liquid, suffuse and relatively independent of those who cry - diffuse a situation too urgent amongst their edgeless area. They literally are founding the person founding in tears. Some tears are indefinite and infinite like some smiles. In the West, the gift of tears was the attribute of mystics. The Greek legend says that Heraclitus, author of the "panta reï" (everything runs down), cried about everything, just like Democritus, author of the "atomon" (the unbreakable) laughed at everything. At this stage we have understood that the various solubilisation, that smile, laughter and tears are, go hand in hand with possibilizing Homo's rapid cerebral cleavages, decleavages and recleavages of his brain. They both suppose and develop them.
6F. The cultural incarnations of indefinite possibilization
Indefinite possibilization is so essential to Homo that he universally and probably very early on instituted practices where it could activate-passivate almost in the pure state. The anthropogeny will select the trance for its common character. And suicide for its extremeness.
The trance covers apparently opposed, yet coherent states. The word comes from transire (ire, trans, going through); and the English transient shows well that it is question of a both spatial and temporal transition. It targets these behaviours where a hominid specimen creates a there, an elsewhere. And especially an "other". It alienates (alius, other given), or alters (alter, other determined).
Trance succeeds by exploiting the states between reverie, dream and awakening, and more topically the resources of falling asleep and coming awake, crossed from rhythms applying to gestures that range from intensified manipulation to dancing, and to catalepsy. The transience of trance can be externalised like an extreme agitation or like an almost mortal immobility (in French and English, "dying" is still known as "passing"). Its vibration then becomes the suspended and almost inaudible breadth of the philosopher that concludes a spiritualist conference, as well as the vociferations of the politicians concluding a meeting. All these states are para-orgastic, or orgastic, such as those accompanying music and bullfight.
The anatomical and physiological vibration of trance aims at being in resonance with the X of another order: forces, spirits, fluids, waves, concepts that are little or not accessible in ordinary use. It was probably most extensively made explicit by Asian and north American Shamans. But this curative or illuminative recourse is so native to possibilizing Homo that today many believe that they already find it in sculptors, engravers, painters of the Upper palaeolithic. A book on the latter bears the title: (Les chamans de la préhistoire - The Shamans of Prehistory).
The various natures of these alius and alter X, more or less hidden to the "vulgar" and often also to "the elected", modulate trance according to dosages of choices of existence: bluff/submission, exploration/coquetry, game/seriousness, etc. And also categories of possible: the imagined, the impossible, the spontaneous, the necessary, etc. This is covered by the nuanced English semantic of trance, bewilderment, ecstasy, swoon, daze, rapture, torpor. But it would not be wise to explain each modality of trance using clear purposes. Considering the structures and textures of possibilizing Homo, the trance effect has something that suffices itself, is worth by itself, as the most open field of possibilizations.
If the trance is a collective and primitive hominid state, suicide, the extreme possibilization, seems to have required a societary and belated state. It supposes a great independence from the group, since it is a question of caedere-sui, of slaughtering, felling, massacring oneself.
Some suicides have a cause, or several: escaping unbearable situations or pains; appealing an accusation; taking a revenge for an abandonment using abandonment... But it would be difficult to understand the suicidal impulse that inhabits the hominid specimens if it was locked in these relations of means to ends. We shall not forget that death, being unthinkable, not referable, is the possible per se, and that the intended death exerts an essential fascination on many highly possibilizing brains (Valéry). There are suicides of despair and suicides of joy, of narrowing and widening.
However, for the semiotizing animal, even the pure indetermination of death continues through paths determined according to the fundamental fantasies of the group and of each member, and it is therefore semiotically as much as physiologically that suicides are differentiated by precipitation, defenestration, drowning, strangling, smothering, explosion, penetration, breaking, poisoning, sleep. If one of the late versions of the death of Empedocles supposes that he went to the Etna and threw himself in the crater, it is perhaps that the first sentence of his Purifications (KatHarmoï) ends by "KHaïrete, egô d'Humin Theos ambrotos ouketi tHnètos pôleFmaï meta pâsi tetimenos" "Rejoice, for it is as immortal and non-mortal God that I have walked, honoured amongst you all".
The highly interiorizing Romans instituted the glorious suicide of Seneca and the aesthetic suicide of Petronius. And the Eskimo tradition, where old women who no longer have enough teeth to work leather by chewing the skins go off into the ice sea, shows the ease of Homo to die when the means is simple and not painful, such as the mortal cold, and that the group perceives itself habitually as a relay of nature amongst the others. In a culture of the intensity like one finds in Japan, suicide culminated in Hara Kiri.
6G. Possibilized panoplic and protocolar substitutions. Suites and cycles
Speaking of possibilized substitutions is almost a pleonasm , as it is the substitutions that created possibilization. But in the ontogenesis and probably also the phylogenesis, possibilization - once it stands out - will have been larger than substitution, and its aura will have been in turn widened. To the extent that it is suggestive to speak of substitutive possibilization. Everything pushes Homo towards it: the distanciation and the lightness of signs, the constant and quick sliding between endotropic and exotropic nervous circulations, the intercerebrality with the socius, the slidings from the semiotic to the technical and from the technical to the semiotic, which we call magic.
Possibilized substitution is both highly transmuting (by inversions, jolts, slidings), and very regulated (there are no possibles without a field dotted by possibilities, thus without rules). This is how substitution suites and cycles were put in place locally and temporally around ingestion, digestion, ejection, excretion, generation; around the phases of the year (seasons) and the day (hours); alternations between illness and health; hot and cold; wet and dry; present and absent. It is in this area of possibilized protocols and panoplies that three major anthropogenic phenomenon were defined: (1) Fault and repair; (2) sacrifice, consecration, prohibition; (3) money, or the neutral exchanger.
6G1. Fault and repair. Debt
Possibilization profoundly changed the status of error. Animals make mistakes and missteps that are usually repaired in urgency to compensate their drawbacks. Conversely, for possibilizing Homo, error appears in a field of possibles, amongst which there is the non-error, in contrast to which error appears as such. Still, if error only concerns the specimen that caused it, it has no tomorrow, whether it is repaired or not. But if it affects the group of belonging (family) or group of contact (clientèle), it can, when it is important, start insisting (sistere, in). Then, its repair is no longer only possible, it is wanted, postulated, demanded, like a possible to be accomplished, and is thus socially evaluated using indicia and indexes.
Then opens a field of speculations (supputation, in French), where it is a question of "putare", meaning cleaning, pruning, clearing, evaluating, "sub", from beneath, and that comparatively. Comparing errors, mistakes, slip-ups will one day be a constant theme of spoken interlocution. Very early on, it must have been a theme of the language by gesture, particularly for the indexations that we have approached and the charge of which transformed the indexed into the troublemaker or scapegoat <5G3>. Therefore, the indexation of the error and the errant changed into blame (culpa), and failing (fall) became guilt (error imputed to someone). The troublemaker-guilty was perceived and moved as cause of the error, put-into-cause, accused (causare, ad). The questioner(s) became accuser, from the same root.
Let us specify that, for a very long time, this had to remain exterior, exotropic, without interiorization of the fault and guilt. From the beginnings of Classic Greece, amartaneïn was still simply missing one's target, making a mistake regarding something or someone. Even in Rome, peccatum, from peccare, originally only designates a stumble, a misstep , applicable to animals: "ne equus peccet" (for fear that the horse should stumble).
However, for possibilizing and endotropizing Homo, exotropy is always ready to slip into endotropy. Peccatum, instead of being imputed to the faulty brain by others, became so by the troublemaker himself, thus divided in accused and accusing, with at the same time a facilitation to play the role of the one and the other <6G4>. The Latin consciencia (scire, cum, knowing with) exemplifies this sliding: at first shared knowledge, then intimate sentiment, then clarity onto oneself, at last grasping of a good and evil proceeding from a self - even an I - conceived as the will source of the fault. The peccatum, misstep that only required a rearranging of the preliminary order, became the Roman-Christian sin, internalised, somewhat Satanic, since it proceeded from a perverse will (vertere, per); the Greek amartas took the same sense in Christian texts dating back to the first century. With the recent West, this will result in Law (directus, directio, regere, dis) where, to be punishable, the guilty must be recognised as responsible for his actions.
The nature of repair, the etymology of which signals that it is both prospective (parare) and retrospective (re-), has always been understood according to the fault, and more generally according to the ontology and epistemology of the substitutable possibles practised by the group. But always supposing that a certain suite, a certain cycle (social and/or natural) had been altered.
6G2. Sacrifice, consecration, prohibition. Cast versus class. Forgiveness
Sacrifice is situated in the perception of these suites and cycles. Fundamentally, it ensures their repair or simply their continuation in a *woruld where unbalance, even when it is not current, is at least virtual, precisely insofar as it is a field of possibilized substitutions or substitutive possibles. The means of the priests (sacrificer) is of the same nature than that which they conjure, i.e. substitutability. Into very regulated and highly transmutable substitutions, like the possibles that must be handled, manipulated <1A1>.
The area of sacrificial substitutions mostly comprised: (a) food, with hunting (rearing) and gathering (culture); (b) health, illness, death, with hot and cold, dry and humid; (c) the in-group (we-group) and the out-group; (d) the here and there: (e) the now and other times; (f) the absence and presence; (g) the right and the left (odd). Everything circulates, in each series-cycle, and between the series-cycles. Eating is inevitably destroying the living, the "Kamo" said Leenhardt's Melanesians. This means, for Homo with transversalizing body and neutralizing brain, to produce unbalance at the same time as balance. Same thing for the healthy and the ill. The living and the dead. For the ancient Mayas, the quiche word Puz (*Pu) seems to designate both the sacrifice and magical forces, when it comes to human sacrifices, intended to maintain the strength of the gods.
Therefore, innumerable repairing and maintaining substitutions of segments of the *woruld were put in place, completed or at least comforted by the segments of the word. Local and daily substitutions in family sacrifices. Cosmological substitutions, sometimes in "great years, in tribal sacrifices. With clannish sacrifices between both.
It is around the sacrifice thus understood - certainly very archaic - that the "rite" became clearer. It would seem that the Hittites (circa -1500), the influence of whom on Greece we are only just starting to measure, expressed the rite using saklaïs, from the same root as the Latin sacrum, from which comes (a) sacrificium, accomplishing the sacred (sacrum, facere) and proceeding by those substitutions which are death, mutilation, self-mutilation, simple loss or libation and (b) the consecretio (sacrare, cum, converting in the area of the sacred) proceeding by a deviation of the ordinary circuit, like for anchoritism (hermits) and virgins. In any case, one of the keys of any anthropogeny is given in the distinction between animal ritualization, a fortuitous addition of secondary behaviours to a main behaviour of which they thus become the obliged annunciators and precursors <4A>, and the hominid rite that supposes possibilization.
Indicialities and indexations made that sacrifices take on a thousand forms. From the continual and almost furtive immolation of cocks in Griaule's Dogons right up to the solemn immolation of the king-priest in Africa when he had lost his strength, seeing that the life of his people supposed his vitality, according to James Frazer's interpretation of "divine kingship". Also varying from the human sacrifices of the enemy (Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica) or of the friend (Iphigenia) right up to those of the hundred beef of the Greek-Roman hecatomb, or the body of Christ consumed abstractly by Christians under the transubstantiated bread and wine. Sometimes simple Lents and Ramadans. But always under the polarities of the exchange, its regularities and reinstatements. Topological poles: separating what is too confounded, linking what is too separated; or still, distinguishing the close and bringing closer the contrary. Cybernetic poles: maintaining into circulation and ensuring feedback, at the crossroad of allostasis and homoeostasis, of cold and hot, of straight and odd. Temporal poles: crossing future and past. The Roman hostia (hostire, hitting) was expiatory and propitiatory (petere, pro), even divinatory.
The nature of the sacrifice gave birth to its instruments, which are as panoplic and varied as it is, even though the knife, trait-point (mathematics, logic), eminently indexating, separating and distributing, remains its paragon, seeing that, for segmentarizing Homo, there is no sacrificial exchange without segment (secare). And also that blood, that the knife often spills, is, with the consecratory speech, the sacrificial flow per se. The quiq (blood) of the Popol Vuh and circulations between word and blood are these sacrificial instruments in Griaule's Dogons.
And at the same time as a (re)balancing instrument, sacrifice was a powerful speculative motor stirring up particularly animal and vegetable systematics. Never has one sacrificed just anything. A victim must be indicially pregnant and indexically salient. And this according to the rite, that, as we have seen, often comprises opposing couples. These speculations produced and comforted the general couples: important/less important, exceptional/trivial, natural/supernatural, cosmologically efficient/episodic, allowed/prohibited, sacred/profane, present/absent, etc.
The most striking case of sacralizing delimitation was the temple in the wide sense: paleolitic Shamanistic cave, Neolithic rectangle, Indian Hypogeum, Greek Naos, Etruscan-Roman templum (from where our "contemplate" comes), Teōtīhuacān sacrificial pyramids... so many places where, before any other choice, the delimitation as such took place as such, limit (limes), term (terminus) of a place and an era, according to strict and constant rules, a place that by its very indexing charge means that what is outside becomes vulgar (vulgus, everyday people) and that what is within seems reserved, chaste (castus); an asylum where pillage cannot take place, and where the criminals sometimes cannot be pursued (asylum, a- privative, sulân, pillaging). From where the false but suggestive etymology that, before the discovery of the Hittite word saklaïs, brought together sacrum and se-cernere, putting aside.
Prohibition, particularly that of incest, where the now structuralist Homo will one day want to see his foundation, is not less striking than the temple. For Upper primates, hierarchical distribution barred coitus between the mother and her male progeny; for Homo, the barrage became prohibition, provoking the non-chaste (in-cest), the non-private (castus, deprived of), both of which transgressing (gredi, trans) the lineage of the caste (chaste). In the case of the scapegoat, indexation created the saliency and pregnancy of the thing-performance elected guilty; in prohibition (of incest), the barrage had become interdict (dicere inter) creating the saliency and pregnancy of the "back of the mother" (Quran).
Just like the interdiction (dicere, inter) <5G2>, prohibition slid from its positive sense (habere, pro) to a negative sense, in a new verification of the salience of negation under the confirmed affirmation in segmentarizing and macro-digitalising Homo. And of the approved/reproved ambivalence inherent to any indexation. Similarly, imprecation, that etymologically is only a wishing prayer of something to someone (precari, in), was soon understood negatively.
The words of Christian consecration that have crossed two millennia summarise many aspects of the sacrifice, which are even more sensitive in Latin. "Here (ecce) is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the Alliance (testamentum), ancient and new, that will be spilled (effundetur) for you and for the multitude (pro vobis and pro multis) in remission (in remissionem) of sins (peccatum, with its various senses). Do this in memory of me." Almost everything is in there. Blood as the basal circulator. The invocation of regulated suites and cycles, in two testaments. The effusion or libation. The fault having become debt and its adjournment (missio, re-) into another sphere. The relation to death. The prevalent role of indexation (hic est enim). The memory and the project (the testament is both old and new), expiation and propitiation, as in the etymology of reparation. The exit from a series-cycle and entry into another by assimilation (take and eat) to a muted element (wine>>blood).
In this chapter on possibilization, we insisted on the substitutive, thus delineated, aspect of the sacrifice. But there is also a fusionnal aspect to which we shall come back when we approach the perceptive-motor and logico-semiotic field effects, which will bring us to set apart sacrificial fantasies amongst fantasies <7I7>. It is wise to keep in mind the range of sacrifices to understand the range of pardons (donare, per, to give thoroughly), from the negotiated pardon (conditional) to the grand pardon (unconditional), which is not unrelated with sanctity <27D3a>.
6G3. The neutral exchanger. Monies/money. Freedom of choice
Since our chapters on indicia and indexes, we have encountered many exchangeables: tools, goods, competences, grades, instances, clientèle, so many merchandises in the wide sense (merx, exchangeable), objects of commerce (commercium, merces, cum). To which we can now add the highly constraining flows-cuts of sacrificial victims <6G2>. In the end, the innumerable substitutive possibilizations of Homo point together to a stable referent that allows comparing disparate exchanged rather precisely. In a word, towards a neutral exchanger.
The neutral exchanger, that we today call money, first took shape in natural objects, such as the African cauri (Monetaria moneta). This Indian Ocean gastropod was sufficiently indicial of fecundity to stimulate the exchange, and was dead enough to index neutrality. But, we shall have to wait for the abstraction of the counting tokens of the Neolithic and mainly that of writing, counting victories, prisoners, sacrifices, merchandises of the Primary empires of Sumer and Egypt before the neutrality of the exchanger declared itself. It only took a few centuries before, always more abstractly, the ingot should have its equivalent in coins, letters of credit, bank notes, credit and debit columns, in digits simply preceded by "+" or "-", in a few 0/1 bits on central computers. Anyway, naturalness did not completely disappear in carnal Homo: neither in the gold standard until the Bretton Woods system; nor in the cut or uncut diamonds that the Jews exchange from pocket to pocket in New York or Antwerp, without written documents, on a pure indicia-index of word, and the value of which is both supranational and subject to indefinite interpretations.
In all cases, measured to the neutral exchanger, the commercial exchangers could become merchandises in the strict sense, themes of exact exchanges, measurable, independent from the desires of partners. Fault itself appeared like a debt, and its repair or remission could depend on a reimbursement.
Does the link between the fault, the sacrifice, death, the neutral exchanger then depend of something more essential than their simple common belonging to the area of regulated exchangeability? Let us recall that the Latin word for money comes from Moneta, the temple of Juno moneta, monitoring Juno (monere, announcing), thus called because she foretold an earthquake. Simple metonymy designating the thing by its place of production or storage? But let us not forget that Juno was the sister and the wife of Jupiter. She was a particularly femininely marked goddess of parturition. Yet it is the same Indo-European root of childbirth *tHè (fe) that gave fe-nus in Latin (revenue of a capital), fe-cunditas (fecundity), fe-mina (woman), and in Greek, with the initial childhood redoubling, ti-tHè-nè (the nurse). The links of the sacred, the neutral exchanger and the generation (life and death) do not seem fortuitous.
The community of root of fe-nus and fe-mina is the occasion to remark that women, mobile elements in various clannish systems, were often a stabilizing theme of the exchange and money for Homo. In African pastoral people, the cattle is not primarily the sign and means of sufficiency of food or the result of a research of productivity, nor it is a direct manifestation of power, but it is the manner of acquiring women against which it is exchanged. The woman as supreme term of inter-clannish exchange probably marks the ultimate acquaintances of the possibilized exchange with the generation, life and death.
Because death sheds light on the sacrifice that in turn lights death; and both are lighted from the neutrality of the neutral exchanger. Death is a moment of radical cancellation and abstraction (unthinkable, that cannot be weighed), a substitution where there is no longer an exchangeable against another, but an infinite opening and exchangeability by dint of being empty or unspeakable (decomposition). The neutral exchanger shows its deadly, sacrificial abstraction in the nil or extravagant spendings of avarice or prodigality, and in the existential vertigo of the player.
The both generalised and adaptable exchangeability of all of Homo's aspects around the neutral exchanger was strongly illustrated in the system of Christian indulgences, where monies could be bought and sold against sins, penitences, pardons, present or future salvation. It is remarkable that the starting fervent point of this system took place in the twelfth century in the first moment of co-creative Catholicism which, thanks to a first flow of monies, would then lead to the banking system, which makes the past, present and future interchangeable, inducing the idea of freedom of choice <30H>.
6G4. Inversion and delegation of roles
The exchange reaches its most radical form in the substitution of roles, particularly in that of the dominating and dominated. Childhood games illustrate the extent to which the ones usually want to be dominating and the others dominated, but also how domination and submission invert, delegate, and participate to each other easily and richly. In the childish game of torture, the torturer of one day becomes a scrupulous and imaginative victim the next, whilst yesterday's victims become equally imaginative torturers. If we do not perceive this quality in everyone, while standing on one side of the fence, of being on both sides each time, we cannot understand anything of the simultaneously stable and flexible organisation of hominid societies with their extreme forms: democracy (direct and indirect), oligarchy, dictatorship, all ordinarily as consented as they are imposed, in the same way as antique slavery. Assuredly, substitutions and delegations of roles due to the possibilizing transversalization and endotropic brain of Homo are only as available as they are because the indexes of power and indexes in general <5>, articulate the yes and the no, the same and the other, from so close. And indicia more still <4>.
6H. The will as possibilized ends and means. Ordinary madness
Apart from the fact that possibilization can make change the means of an end, and the ends of a means, it is still apt to revert their order, considering the end first, and going back (descending) the means from the last to the first. In this reversal of "means and ends" into "ends and means", the ends become projects, in the own sense of "thrown in front" (jacere, pro).
Such is the basis of the technical and semiotic willing of Homo. It took the western world to hypostatize the willing in a will, which was itself hypostatized in a responsible, voluntary subject. But a minimum of willing is linked to the cerebral structure of possibilizing Homo. Homo devotes it to a certain will for power according to the liaison of Latin verbs posse, potere, pollere. And even, since the possibilization is itself indefinite, to a certain all-powerfulness that, since it escapes de facto, tends to project itself into gods or God, de jure.
If we call madness a state where hominid specimens use and enjoy their endotropic nervous circulations with little reference to the objectifying demands of exotropic nervous circulations, except for the conditions of survival, we shall add that the will for power defines an ordinary madness in Homo. This specifically concerns the exchange and often culminates on the occasion of the neutral exchanger, money, monies, insofar as it is the most obvious instrument of pure possibilization. The philosophical ravings omnipresent in Homo are another constant form of this ordinary madness. Later on, on the occasion of Homo's illnesses <26B>, we shall approach pathological madness, which is frequent but not ordinary.
Saying that Homo is the possibilizing animal is its vastest and most stimulating definition. It is so embracing that it runs to the limits of psychology and metaphysics, or still, commerce and power. We have stayed here strictly in line with the anthropogeny.
Henri Van Lier
Translated by Paula Cook, 2017
(Last update, October 13, 2017)