"Thy firmness makes my circle just, And makes me end where I begun" --John Donne I found this book interesting and frustrating at the same time. I will gripe more about the particulars maybe tomorrow, but this email is supposed to be as productive as possible. Response to Becca: Although suggestive, I'm not sure the four "stages" can be mapped onto the tropes. I think essentially Bok is creating a very very short re-hash of standard literary history in terms of pataphysics. He references Foucault['s "Prose of the World" chapter in The Order of Things and one can tell that he follows this kind of "episteme" way of looking at history. What Bok somewhat pretentiously calls "cyberogranismic phase," which sounds remarkably like "the postmodern" or even the "posthuman" I think is talking about our 'current moment'. Becca I think raised a great question as to how we are supposed to respond to this situation. My guess aligns with John's that pataphysics allows, as Bok put it, "the conceit to regain its status as a device of poetic wisdom" (19). Syzygy and Conceit I agree with John that we need to look at syzygy and the idea of conceits. Bok is attuned to Eliot and the Modernist's obsession with the "metaphysical" poets, the most famous one being John Donne (see the epigraph). The importance of syzygy I think comes from its mocking of dualisms and holisms, which ends up producing laughter and pleasure (jouissance). The equation of this with not this is not a "truth" of the world--revealing that really all is One, but "The absurdity of such extremes and their equation is laughable---but this laughter is itself what negates dualism and affirms syzygy--a joyful wisdom" (Bok 42). Also, it seems that the conditions of syzgy are similar to the conditions of our scholarship and academia: "differing from every other thing in a system that values the norm of difference [syzygy] serves the will to confuse" (40). We want to confuse things and mix things up, but not in order to create a synthesis, but to laugh at the psuedo-synthesis that we have created--to take pleasure in this act. I think this gives us the right idea. What I want to call attention to in Bok is the concept of "measure," as Ulmer was pretty insistent that we were trying to find a "measure" for the accident. The idea of "Ethernity" seems to frame the pataphysician as a type of demiurge, and it seems that Prezi may be just the medium to do this: "Ethernity is a state of maximum entropy--a nullified condition whose potential goes unmeasured, unobserved, its eigenstate corresponding to 'the perplexity of man outside time and space, who has lost his measuring rod and his tuning fork. Like the Maxwell Demon, the pataphysician intervenes in such a void [. . .] sorting its randomly distributed atoms into narrowly constructed forms--creating, in this case, a spectroscape whose maesurements cause a fiat lux ex nihilio" (Bok 35). We are the pataphysician that must arrange the elements in the void of Prezi. However, the difference is we cannot create something from nothing--we have to have material to work with in order to place it into the Prezi. Perhaps our own situation on the net has realized some sort of material limits (measures) of what we can do and make--the free reign of imagination and association is, as we have reminded ourselves with our 'human need' we identified tied to embodiment. I have not read Jarry, but I imagine that issue is that we don't get as much of the limitations--the fact is that even our Prezi space is 'limited' despite its visual rhetoric of infinity. In the network and in the EmerAgency we are not solipsistic, perspectival pataphysicians, but a collective subject which we are trying to undergo, experience, and ultimately measure. (Side note: As I was reading Pataphysics, I was frustrated and yet intrigued by Bok's appropriation of scientific terminology and his reduction of the values of science as well as his narrow reading of Nietzsche as a "perspectivist." The "research" he did, with its breadth but lack of depth read like a parody of theoretical discourse, except that Bok doesn't seem to be aware of it in his prose. He goes about the project seriously AS IF this is the way it is--maybe the joke's on me. I suppose I could read his insertion of terms (without deciding he will define them--assuming his audience is familiar with such things) as a performance of the concept of clinamen--akin to disrupting the flow of words with a tipo).