Noise and shine, dimly perceptible corona and hum: these are the kinds of things that are more or less likely to keep the average person awake at night. The mains used to be a source of such indiscretions. The hum would now stand as a token of its former inefficiency if one cared to think back, but it is now hardly possible to remember. Naturally, it is the sort of thing that is purposed to be neither seen nor heard per se, being only the pure medium through which these impressions become possible. It should not be confused with the impressions themselves. In its beginning—idiotic like every beginning—a person was forcibly transported inside the mains and there to cringe in a bath of unreflected light. Obviously nobody could really stand such a shadowy image, even if at first it seemed to seethe with the power of a kind of second life. For this reason people set to work eradicating it, or rather calibrating the mechanical system to the point where its annoying and impractical externalities were dimmed to a practically indifferent level. In terms of the ideal that everyone shares in forming, the mains doesn’t and never has existed (it must have been the intention to give it an awkward name that would finally go unsaid). In other words, only the truly disturbed are likely to be kept awake at night by it.

Two basic cylindrical tanks are seen standing one beside the other quite simply, not encroaching on each other’s spaces and times. Their distinct qualitative capacities in fact consist in the largely homogeneous dimension of space. Insensate columns are mouthing the benign inconstancy of the room. A history of 130 years or so: a grand synthesis eradicating pieces of memory here and there. They flip electromagnetic frequencies into material vibrations, discreetly folding light’s pure stream into their more inert medium.

Somewhere someone is trying to develop a system that will not be undone under the pressures of its own noise and shine. It is part of the meaning of an environment to be composed with certain standardized or regulated characteristics. We are not interested in light per se, but only in the impression it gives. Not in noise but in sound. Not in what is directly given but what allows us to be located, without the dumb effort of giving and finding. In this way we avoid unnecessary confrontations: simply one thing and then another, without the cumbersome and unclear memory of the moment of transference. It is not that forgetting should be considered some kind of lost art; it is simply a part of the structure of things that by its own nature is very difficult to keep in mind. The tendency toward simplification is therefore in one sense necessary and natural: it is impossible to transcribe in the surface of things what cannot be simplified for its own sake. And what is not regular practically doesn’t exist. This means that there is no transcription which is capable of illuminating what there is of existence except insofar as it is put into practice on its own terms, without having to get down on its hands and knees before all those things it owes a piece of itself to.

Another room erected from another continent, but visibly the same, speaks again to the disarticulation of light and sound. (No doubt they are elsewhere being grafted back together). Everything appears evenly distributed, bent toward the principles of constancy. But look at it long enough and it will start to sound different. Sound and light disarticulated through the stacking of a few dinner plates. At this scale it is not clear whether we do or do not want it to make a noise. Perhaps this room exposes a region of calculated indifference. Back across the ocean somebody is mouthing obscenities into a hollowed out skull.

The process of simplification helps to minimize the number of tasks or steps required to perform other tasks. Part of life consists in the process of combining and regulating the already existing tasks and another part in finding other ones. Of course, the process of aggregation which closes things off for their own sake in turn and in itself leads out the other end. That is to say that it is forced into direct contact with the complex through the process of excretion. One can stand to digest only what is nicely composed for the senses, but one always digests it nonetheless. Fuck, life: it simplifies some things so that it can complicate and be complicated by others.

How do people calibrate the times, actions and relations that allow mediums to circulate? It might, for example, be like how the stacking of a few dinner plates can alter the qualitative capacities of a thing, directly situating it in its environmental context. Or else it could be like the pure transference of quantities of energy across qualitatively incommensurable mediums, and therefore basically indifferent to context. The one composes the world without dwelling over the seams. It plays along with the tendency to have it folded flat, without seams; transparent, without shine; meaningful, without noise. But the other issues from the seams themselves as a more and less discreet “fuck you” to all self-possessed resolution and nostalgia. It allows the medium to flow as the pure noise or pure shine that it is as a medium, and of course it feels its way through the obscene to do it. (This dichotomy of course occasions lapses, in reason, in will, etc.).

There is an inconstancy that is found even in factory-direct dinner plates, despite the fine calibration of the machine that begets them. But this margin of error, problem or seam (overridden in all successful action) is finally what the calibration of the mains must render entirely unnecessary to consider, hardly the sort of thing that is likely to keep the average person awake at night. In approximation to the ideal, the mechanism may be calibrated to the point where only the really disturbed sort would take issue with the fact that transformation is performed only to a certain practically indifferent level.

Luke Schumacher