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Rule Following, (n-1) Dimensions and the Panes of Immanence - How We Artistically Create In Our Lives


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This is going to be very sketchy. It will be jumping between associations and thought network hubs, building out a vision I had upon waking this morning. Sometimes in the half-dream things come to you, that are worth unpeeling. I've been slowly working my way through Agamben's The Highest Poverty: Monastic Rules and Form-of-Life which is a study of Medieval monastic rule-guided life (in quite fine detail), with a view towards Wittgenstein's elementary solve for questions of Philosophy, among so many other things. Wittgenstein's powerful tool was to examine just what rule-following is (whether this be following mathematical processes or playing various language games), and ostensibly point out that generally there is "no rule for how to follow a rule". There is no way outside of rule-governed behavior and Life. Instead, we are all in Forms of Life. It's probably not a very good summation, as it's been many years since I engaged Wittgenstein, but that's my immediate stake. Agamben takes up Wittgenstein's rule-following examination and applies it to a period in Western Civilization where lives became quite starkly defined and governed by rules. It writes about the nature of rules, and how they differ from Laws. 

I've already taken a deep dive foray into Bourdieu's concept of Habitus and how it exemplifies itself in the Thai kaimuay, if you want to hypertext swerve from my point here you can. It's about how rule-following and custom conditions and communicates the subject in Thailand's traditional kaimuay:

 

What struck me this morning was actually the way in which monastic life, which was rule-governed almost to the minute of waking life, with times and kinds prayers, meditations and rituals that mark out the hours (he writes about how monks were turned into living clocks), with great rigor. The window that is opened is the way in which all of our lives are rule-governed in important, hidden ways, and that we ourselves are becoming living clocks as well.

But this is not the point of where I am going, just setting ground. What occurred to me was the way in which the simplification of monastic life, it's bounded sense of living rules is very much like a host of human actions which might be characterized as (n-1) inscriptions. N is the dimension we live in, so to speak (and I think we are using it analogically at this point, we can also call it an order of complexity, and (n-1) is rule following actions/creations which drop down in an order of complexity, and importantly inscribe these actions on a medium, a bordered medium. Medieval monks are inscribing the complexity of the world (their otherwise lived worlds beyond monastery walls), in an (n-1) dimensional way, through rule following.

For some reason, upon waking, I pictured the way in which we now all interact and express ourselves through screens. Screens that act like panes. There is a (n-1) dimensional reduction of the complexity of our lives, and all these interactions are rule-following on several levels of description. In a certain sense these panes are little different than the inscriptions of a monastic life, or the way in which an icon painter would paint on treated wood:

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They are bounded, rule-following inscriptions on a medium, (n-1) dimensional reductions. Much has been made about Plato's (n+1) dimensional picture of the world. We live in this world of shadows (n), the shadows are cast by a dimension of a higher order than our own (n+1), and the purpose of Philosophy (and religion) is to connect up this world N, with N+1. Platonism runs through all of Western Culture, and in schools of critical philosophy transcendence (the mark of Platonism, trying to get from N to N+1) is scorned. It's thought to be the great mis-step, principally because it devalues this world, for another more imaginary one, one that has often been in the hands of dogma for the purposes of social control.

What is missing from this picture of Platonisms, hidden and outright, are the ways in which we actually perform or construct transcendence through (n-1) operations. This is the quintessence of Art, which also is often in the service of Platonism. Here, within the bounds of this rule-governed, or rule-conditioned inscription (let's say an icon painting) an N-1 simplification casts our eyes to an N+1 reality. What is operative here though is the very experience of how N-1 releases itself, and calls up "N" in an expression or experience of transcendence in an everyday way. If we look at a hand written letter by our mother who has passed, every jot, every gap in words, every word-choice, every piece of it calls up a world far more complex and rich than what is "contained" in that letter. The inscription holds transcendence, and does so in everyday ways. Scrolling through Twitter on an iphone, a bounded, rule-governed or rule-conditioned inscription in a medium (n-1), is an transcendent experience to our world of N. These are pane of immanence.

There is wordplay here, as the Philosopher Gilles Deleuze proposed a metaphysical plane of immanence, the wikipedia summation of which is below. Hopefully you can see the difference between joining a plane of immanence, and constructing a pane of immanence. We leave aside some of the vitalist and semi-transcendent operations of Deleuze's project when plane become pane. 

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Plane of immanence (French: plan d'immanence) is a founding concept in themetaphysics or ontology of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. Immanence, meaning "existing or remaining within" generally offers a relative opposition to transcendence, that which is beyond or outside. Deleuze rejects the idea that life and creation are opposed to death and non-creation. He instead conceives of a plane of immanence that already includes life and death. "Deleuze refuses to see deviations, redundancies, destructions, cruelties or contingency as accidents that befall or lie outside life; life and death were aspects of desire or the plane of immanence."[1] This plane is a pure immanence, an unqualified immersion or embeddedness, an immanence which denies transcendence as a real distinction, Cartesian or otherwise. Pure immanence is thus often referred to as a pure plane, an infinite field or smooth space without substantial or constitutive division. In his final essay entitled Immanence: A Life, Deleuze writes: "It is only when immanence is no longer immanence to anything other than itself that we can speak of a plane of immanence.

The idea here though is just to focus on operations of N-1 dimensional reductions, in rule-governed, rule-conditioned ways, so was to leverage the dimensional shift between N-1 and N. And I do believe these go well beyond the human. They can be anything from RNA inscriptions of life forms to a new diet regime to lose weight. The phrase occurs sometimes, that of "playing God", but really anytime we are de-dimensionalizing Life, moving from N to N-1, we are spring loading a transcendent effect...and effect which is immanent.

It could very well be that Platonism (and we know this does not all flow from Plato himself, he just codified it, brought N to N-1, in a particular powerful and historically lasting way) was simply a formulation of N-1 inscription which makes up all of Life itself, and is carried forward through rule-governed, rule-conditioned ways. We all are constructing Panes of Immanence everyday, through all our rule-following actions of inscription. How we walk into an office we work at. How we compose an email. How watch movies from our couch. How we eat. The ways we have turned our lives into clocks (that's a slightly different story).

For me it comes to learning to see all these flattenings as panes. Which is to say, a dimensional reduction of complexity, that in a rule-governed/conditioned way interacts with and encodes its medium. These inscriptions are meant to be released. N-1 is meant to be unfolded into N. And this is immanence. 

Because my writings here almost always have to do with traditional Muay Thai and fighting, this brings up back to what exactly a fight is. (We'll leave aside the whole of training which makes up a great deal of a fighter's life, and that sum of inscriptions.) A fight is an N-1 inscription of the complexity of the world. It's rule-governed, rule-conditioned nature is directed to a material medium, composed of the ring and its opponent, and in a certain sense the fighter (like any artist) must join the medium in order to inscribe within it. The judges, the audience, the gamblers, they too make up aspects of the medium when the fighter is more aware. And in a certain, Old World way, it is an N-1 inscription which invokes an N+1 real, in the way that sparks, embers and lineations sketch out fire and form that lies beyond us.

 

 

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More on N+1 and N-1 from Duchamp and Panes of Immanence

TIME AND AGAIN, DUCHAMP INSISTED that the Large Glass (fig. 1) was also (perhaps even in the first place) a consideration on perspective. When Pierre Cabanne asked him how he had arrived at the idea, he replied, “Perspective was very important. The Large Glass is actually a rehabilitation of perspective, which had been completely neglected and decried. With me, perspective became absolutely scientific . . . It was scientific mathematical perspective . . . based on calculations and measurements.”1 To Richard Hamilton he likewise admitted: “The projection [of each part of the Glass] in perspective [on the Glass] is a perfect example of classical perspective, I mean that I imagined the various elements of the bachelor machine first of all as arranged behind the Glass, on the ground, rather than as distributed over a surface in two dimensions.”2 We know that Duchamp drew up several perspective diagrams in this way, to situate the various pieces of his Bachelor Apparatus—now on a reduced scale, now life-size—before they were outlined on the surface of the Glass. from Duchamp and the Classical Perspectivists

 

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I think this ties back to the Buddhistic (?) principles you and Sylvie discuss on the podcast. Ideas like Ning, Ruup, Samadhi, etc. can be thought to be in the N+1.

Having never fought I can't speak to that aspect, but even just in training the regimented structure highlights whether a fighter and the gym as a whole embody those ideas.

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1 hour ago, jpmoral said:

I think this ties back to the Buddhistic (?) principles you and Sylvie discuss on the podcast. Ideas like Ning, Ruup, Samadhi, etc. can be thought to be in the N+1.

Under this idea, the practice of Ruup, Ning, etc, as aesthetics would be N-1 inscriptions, because they are decomplexifications of the world which are rule-conditioned and trained/then-presented in a bound way, but the effect of them would be to involve N+1 truths or invocations I think.

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Photography makes a prime example of N-1 rule conditioned inscription, not only how it is framed, but the entire edit of the world, and the edit of the file, not to mention the rote, rule-governed paths of producing photographs.

These photographs from today of a calf and a mother are differing N-1 inscriptions.

357671683_Motheruntitled2022-1.thumb.jpg.befcfdc603143bc2438f3d852721c32c.jpg

 

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He brings a furor to bear against sovereignty, a celerity against gravity, secrecy against the public, a power (puissance) against sovereignty, a machine against the apparatus. He bears witness to another kind of justice, one of incomprehensible cruelty at times, but at others of unequaled pity as well (because he unties bonds.. .). He bears witness, above all, to other relations with women, with animals, because he sees all things in relations of becoming, rather than implementing binary distributions between "states": a veritable becoming-animal of the warrior, a becoming-woman, which lies outside. Let us take a limited example and compare the war machine and the State apparatus in the context of the theory of games. Let us take chess and Go, from the standpoint of the game pieces, the relations between the pieces and the space involved. Chess is a game of State, or of the court: the emperor of China played it. Chess pieces are coded; they have an internal nature and intrinsic properties from which their movements, situations, and confrontations derive. They have qualities; a knight remains a knight, a pawn a pawn, a bishop a bishop. Each is like a subject of the statement endowed with a relative power, and these relative powers combine in a subject of enunciation, that is, the chess player or the game's form of interiority. Go pieces, in contrast, are pellets, disks, simple arithmetic units, and have only an anonymous, collective, or third-person function: Thus the relations are very different in the two cases. Within their milieu of interiority, chess pieces entertain biunivocal relations with one another, and with the adversary's pieces: their functioning is structural. On the other hand, a Go piece has only a milieu of exteriority, or extrinsic relations with nebulas or constellations, according to which it fulfills functions of insertion or situation, such as bordering, encircling, shattering. All by itself, a Go piece can destroy an entire constellation synchronically; a chess piece cannot (or can do so diachronically only). Chess is indeed a war, but an institutionalized, regulated, coded war, with a front, a rear, battles. But what is proper to Go is war without battle lines, with neither confrontation nor retreat, without battles even: pure strategy, whereas chess is a semiology. Finally, the space is not at all the same: in chess, it is a question of arranging a closed space for oneself, thus of going from one point to another, of occupying the maximum number of squares with the minimum number of pieces. In Go, it is a question of arraying oneself in an open space, of holding space, of maintaining the possibility of springing up at any point: the movement is not from one point to another, but becomes perpetual, without aim or destination, with out departure or arrival. The "smooth" space of Go, as against the "striated" space of chess. The nomos of Go against the State of chess, nomos against polis. The difference is that chess codes and decodes space, whereas Go proceeds altogether differently, territorializing or deterritorializing it (make the outside a territory in space; consolidate that territory by the construction of a second, adjacent territory; deterritorialize the enemy by shattering his territory from within; deterritorialize oneself by renouncing, by going elsewhere . ..). Another justice, another movement, another space-time. Deleuze & Guattari, "1227: TREATISE ON NOMADOLOGY—THE WAR MACHINE", A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism & Schizophrenia   Becoming and A Warfare of Capture What Deleuze and Guattari are invoking is a conception of warfare which is much more fully potentiated. Not locked into rigid hierarchies and roles of figures of power, it is a much more metaphysical battle that reflects aspects of what I have argued is the spiritual foundation of Thailand's Muay Thai, an animism of powers within the history of the culture that predates the arrival of Buddhism (Toward a Theory of the Spirituality of Thailand's Muay Thai). This logic of an animism of powers contains an essential aspect of captured power, the incorporated power of a captured enemy, founded on what historians of Southeast Asia have called "Soul Stuff", roughly equivalent of Hindu shakti (strength). This can be manifested in captured slave labor, or perhaps even in the prehistoric rites of cannibalism through which one consumed the soul stuff of an enemy. You can find a logic of Soul Stuff here, this graphic below helps represent the animism of contest. A primary source on soul stuff and a fusion of military and spiritual prowess can be found with historian O.W. Walters here. Thus, within the cultural origins of Siamese culture, even that which pre-dates the Indianization of the region, we have essential aspects of a smooth, tactical space in a Deleuze & Guattari sense, which potentially maps quite well into the game of Go, especially as it is contrasted to Chess.   Further in concordance with Deleuze & Guattari's philosophical concept of liberty is the way in which Thailand's Muay Thai can be understood as revolutionary in their terms. Deleuze & Guattari write of becoming-animal, becoming-child, becoming-woman, deterritorializing flights inimitable to human freedom. Thailand's Muay Thai (& broader Thai agonism) de-privileges these categories, along a continuous spectrum of thymotic struggle, which runs thru the social hierarchies of low to high, sewing them together. One could say a smooth thymotic space of trajectories. Thailand known for its (ethically criticized) child fighting, women have fought for 100+ yrs, and beetle fighting embodies much of the Muay Thai gambled form. In many important ways Thailand's Muay Thai avoids the stacked arboreal structure of Western Man (& its contrastive Others), favoring a continuity agonistic spectrum within its (Indianized) hierarchies. It has strongly weighted traditional hierarchies, but within this a thymotic line-of-becoming that runs between divinity and animality. see Beetle Fighting, Muay Thai and the Health of the Culture of Thailand - The Ecology of Fighting more on the division of divinity and animality by wicha here: Muay Thai Seen as a Rite: Sacrifice, Combat Sports, Loser as Sacred Victim Knowing-as-doing, the wicha of technical knowledge of how to do, runs between the axes of divinity and animality in a way that supports a mutuality of any figure's becoming, from the insect up to the heightened champion fighter, in a line of flight shared by others. Most Deleuzian becoming-animal, -child, -woman examples come from the arts (sometimes the bedroom), but instead in Thai, gambled agonism we have the becoming of actual animals, children, women & the projective affects of an equally agonistic audience undergoing its own becoming-as. When I say revolutionary, I say "Thailand's Muay Thai has something to teach the world about the nature of violence and its meaning." Learning From Chess in How to See Thailand's Muay Thai Keep in mind, this isn't an direct one-for-one comparison of the contemporary game of Chess (and Chess Theory) and the ring sport of Muay Thai. It compares the dominant image of thought in the conceptual trend. Some have pointed out that my gross picture of Chess leaves out its post-1920s modern Chess Theory development, which often eschews central forward advancement. What is important in the Chess example isn't how Chess was played in 1960s, say, but rather that Chess over the sweep of its history allows us to see how it expressed the martial logic from which it came, ie, how some battles were fought in the field, with advancing lines, and a central capture of territory focus. Chess I would argue contains a martial logic fingerprint in its organizational structure, just as the real life political powers of Kings, Queens, knights and bishops made their impact on its rules & formation, the increased power of the Queen on the board said to be a fine example of this (see: A Queen in Any Other Language). Even in the Hypermodernism of Chess one might say that the center still holds importance, as there are just other ways of controlling or managing it.  Hypermodernism for instance may have reflected the increased use of cannon & then WW1 artillery. Between the two games of Chess and Go are differing Martial Logics. It doesn't mean that there is zero fighting for the center in Muay Thai (or in Southeast Asian warfare...siege warfare is prominent in Ayutthaya history for instance, though with influence from the Portuguese, etc), or that there is zero edge or flank control in Western European warfare or Chess (flank maneuvers are numerous in European warfare). The contrast is really meant to exposed how we perceive conflict spatially, and that these are things we've culturally inherited. You see these inherited concepts, for instance the centrality of territory capture in common Western scoring criteria like "ring control". Centralized conflict is part of our past and informs how we judge fighting styles, just as edge conflict is part of Southeast Asia's past. And importantly this also informs our ideas of violence, with a European tendency toward "kill" (to control land, ie the center) and a SEA tendency toward "capture"(to control labor, ie the edge).  
    • Hey so im an ammateur fighting in europe mostly at DIY events. The thing is even though every fight I improve I am never able to win and its starting to get to me.  I have 5 fights in total 2 k1 and 3 muay thai and iv never won a muay thai, won 1 k1 cos my cardio was better than the other girl and I just out brawld her.  People say wow your technique is so much better than the fight I saw you in last year etc but it still feels bitter to constantly lose. I know i am improving but feel that I always just get tougher and tougher matches, the last 3 fights I lost have all been very close fights. One I lost cos my opponent got injured and broke her ankle when I bloked with a knee but she was able to hide it, another one I lost cos she was using more clean techniques and I was brawling (this one I agree with 100% cos I was landing but it was sloppy.)  The last one I lost cos my cardio was bad which is also fine. I am fine with losing, its just starting to get to me that I never win. It also kinda annoys me that the only fight I ever won was one that I just outbrawled the other girl. Feels like my improvements havnt really helped me cos I just get matched with tougher and tougher opponents each time.  Im wondering if I should give up on decision fights for a while and just do non decisions to get my condifence back up or whether I will eventually break through and be able to win. I am also kinda old at 32 so even though my technique is improving my strength, reflexes and reactions will begin to fade soon. 
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    • Hi all, I have paid a deposit to a gym in Pai near Chiang Mai to train at in January. I am now concerned about the pollution levels at that time of year because of the burning season. Can you recommend a location that is likely to have safer air quality for training in January? I would like to avoid Bangkok and Phuket, if possible. Thank you!
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    • Davince Resolve is a great place to start. 
    • I see that this thread is from three years ago, and I hope your journey with Muay Thai and mental health has evolved positively during this time. It's fascinating to revisit these discussions and reflect on how our understanding of such topics can grow. The connection between training and mental health is intricate, as you've pointed out. Finding the right balance between pushing yourself and self-care is a continuous learning process. If you've been exploring various avenues for managing mood-related issues over these years, you might want to revisit the topic of mental health resources. One such resource is The UK Medical Cannabis Card, which can provide insights into alternative treatments.
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