Design and Serres

This post showed up in a recent alert and is well worth reading. It explores Serres's use of 'parasite' and what that means for relationships, noise, signal, meaning, and chaos.

We are going to undertake a somewhat difficult project this week, we are going to read an essay from Michel Serres’s book, The Parasite. The chapter is called, “Theory of the Quasi Object”. This essay will offer us another way of thinking about objects, subjects and relations. Serres sets up a distinction of either/or between being and relation. This distinction between being and relation quickly turns out to be unstable, which results in these strange, swerving objects/subjects that Serres names quasi-objects and quasi-subjects. The conjunction of ‘quasi’ with object and subject suggests the perpetual mobility and transfer of these deceptively stable individuals along passages of relation toward the possibility of the formation of collectives of all kinds.

Noise as the necessary soil from which meaning can emerge is an interesting idea and fits well with complexity theory notions of non-reducibility. I remain very interested in the idea that if emergence means that lower-order interactions lead to higher level properties that are not reducible, it may well be that such emergence continues up beyond our human scales. We see it in galaxies but what if we scale up beyond that? What are the larger emergent characteristics of the universe?