NCCR Mediality
UZH




Die Nationalen Forschungsschwerpunkte (NFS) sind ein Förderungsmittel des Schweizerischen Nationalfonds.
Y. Implosion
Y.4. Combinatorics as Medial Implosion

The sub-project investigates forms and functions of media „implosions“, taking combinatorial analysis as its case study. The notion of „implosion“ (cf. Baudrillard, McLuhan) is far from describing a dysfunction within technical procedures for the distribution of information or, alternatively, as the interference of the media system. “Implosion” rather refers to those emergent phenomena that are structurally connected to successful mediality: the excess of semiotic and media effort is counteracted by the disappearance of the semantic process. This evidence has been regarded as typical of the digital age so far. The present project, however, assumes that in pre-modern epistemologies the excess of information demonstrated the need for models to collect, store and then circulate knowledge data. Combinatorial analysis is a most fitting example: not only is it a universalising procedure to rationalise the finding and storage of knowledge, but it also shows the implosive force of redundant media, which opposes the organization of knowledge and the production of meaning. It is thus possible to distinguish two variants. The encyclopaedic variant collects the implosion of meaning in a comprehensively scientific hyper-organisation and tends towards universal knowledge (omniscience) while the mystic-ecstatic variant aims at the dissolution of knowledge.
(1) The process of the knowledge of art (ars generalis or ars magna sciendi) -- as developed within the tradition of Lullismus that, in turn, generates knowledge by combination -- gets to the bottom of the restrictions of the alphabetical semiotic sign system in such a way that it produces massive semiotic excesses, whose meaning is no longer to be identified. In the course of the explosive expansion of semiotic elements by combination, an implosion of the semantic//of meaning takes place. Thereby Lullistic models of knowledge nevertheless aim at the regulation of such sign movements all the same. The energy of the media, that the procedure releases, allows for meaning to implode in a controlled way, namely as a comprehensive possibility of knowledge.
(2) By contrast, the mystical-ecstatic models of combinatorial analysis aim at deregulation while they celebrate the implosion of meaning. The kabbalah is a good example of this. As opposed to the rational model of knowledge by Lullistic ars, the kabbalah displays the functional differences as well as methodical divergences of combinatory approaches. Notably the “ecstatic kabbalah” (Abraham Abulafia) deliberately includes expansive writing techniques of combinations (chochmath ha-ziruf) within the implosion of semantics, information and knowledge. Comprehensive knowledge yields to the abolition of reasoning and it turns into a media pleroma. In this context, the aim of kabbalah is not to exhaust possibilities; rather, it fosters a logic that regulates the excessive offer of figurative meaning with the objective of experiencing an unnameable divine in the stream of graphic fonts.