Episode 5

What happens when an ideology under the infinite guise creates a finite number of institutional/non institutional posts? The more ideologically entrenched a society is, the more it perceives any diversity as a threat. All human societies require myths, and they cannot function effectively as societies so long as they remain baffled by their ambivalence. For any concerted action to be possible, myths must be “ideologized” In its essence, politics is the practice of making symbols useful, for good and for ill

A society is pre-totalitarian when its people will only accept as “truth” what confirms what they prefer to believe. The politics apprehends genuine artistic works as works of artifice. You also have to be skeptical of the altruism behind conscripting a large number of people for free work is in their best interests. That is to say, even the political needs art as its mythopoeic foundation and challenge.

It is also true that humans can only produce art through culture by means of sign systems that are politically established and maintained. The best sometimes artist can hope for is a tenuous and ultimately doomed alliance with the status quo.

In the Marxist base and superstructure model of society, Ruling class-interests determine the superstructure and the nature of the ideology justifying the actions of society. An authority who calls to us is interpellating us a position we recognize and accept. The position we take is relative to a superior and central ‘Other Subject’, exercising emotional authority. Our identity is thus defined by the other and we recognize ourselves as an image or a reflection of the Other. The consistency principle leads you into a cycle of investment whereby you bond your sense of identity both to the subject position and also the underlying ideology.

Althusser’s explained how Ideological apparatuses interpellated the subjects into ideological positions. This interpellation is a form of misrecognition, where an externalized image is perceived both as the self and an ‘other’ all of which can be imagined along the lines of the most commonplace everyday police (or other) hailing: ‘Hey, you there!’”


Aristotle imagined a world in which machines could do all the work for themselves. He believed that better machines could free and elevate people, even slaves. But when the economy becomes more about information it seems to distort and shrink the overall size. In the case of the music industry, making a pre-digital system “efficient” through a digital network shrank it economically to about a quarter of its size. Instead wealth is being vacuum upstairs, since most of the real value still occurs out in the real world is reconceived to be off the books.

We’re used to treating information as “free,” but the price we pay for the illusion of “free” is only workable so long as much of the overall economy isn’t about information. The information economy, has been busy trying to conceal the value of all information, of all things things

The identity stack is 3 layers: fabrication of interchangeable components, knowledge sets and expensive cryptography. Non-material roles may be priced at will pertaining to social conceptions of status, possession, rights and so forth. The capacity to “innovate” which is usually a word for disintermediation is now potentially exceeding the capacity to learn. The practice of splitting the economic and social aspects of technology at the lowest attainable level is like dividing church and state for our day.

The material structure can get as cheap as nature allows, and advances as quickly as technology. The ability to re-package and shrink economy seems to be growing exponentially. But if the world is to be reconceived and engineered as a place where people are not particularly distinguished from other components, then people will fade.


Software could be the final industrial revolution, and it might subsume all the revolutions to come: Maybe technology will make all the needs of life so inexpensive that it will be virtually free to live well. But instead, we are probably heading into a period of hyper-unemployment, and the attendant political and social chaos. The outcome of chaos is unpredictable, and we shouldn’t rely on it to design our future.

We’re used to treating information as “free,” but the problem in each case is not that you stole from a specific person but that you undermined the artificial scarcities that allow the economy to function. “Public goods” are defined as Non-exclusionary. They can be used by everyone, including those who don’t pay. They are Non-rivalrous. You disintermediate some and intermediate others. Transfer of intellectual property to those unrelated to the inventors is like injecting meth. Short term euphoria and long-term doom.


Moore’s Law means that more and more things can be done practically for free, if only it weren’t for those people who want to be paid. People are the flies in Moore’s Law’s ointment: when machines get incredibly cheap to run, people seem correspondingly expensive. In previous times in history inventions of new things created high value occupations by automating or eliminating those of lower value. Today’s flexible software is threatening to “free” us from the drudgery of all repetitive tasks rather than those of lowest value, pushing us away from expertise.

Pdf Economy

The standard mindset in the Western post-industrial state can only conceptualize of things in an inherently consumerist fashion. Every purchase of an old-fashioned vinyl, keyboard or guitar opens an opportunity to earn money by enhancing provenance.

More and more of the economy is mediated through a productification of the environment, and then after productification, we turn it in pdfs or mp3 but keeping it predicable, largely consumerist experience. The rise of the “network economy” where all economic activity is mediated by information tools, and the commodification of all human activity as a service to the information age.

An Mp3 buyer is no longer a first-class citizen in a marketplace. When you buy a vinyl, you can resell it at will, or continue to enjoy it no matter where you decide to buy other vinyl’s. You have only purchased tenuous rights within someone else’s company store. Musical recording was a mechanical process until it wasn’t, and became a network service.


In order for a computer to run, the surrounding parts of the universe must take on the waste heat, the randomness. Google wants to be closed about how it compiles and exploits your information. Facebook wants you to have only one identity, so that it’s easier to collate information about you. Twitter suggests that meaning will emerge from fleeting flashes of thought contextualized by who sent the thought rather than the content of the thought. The plain is to gain dominance through rewarding network effects, but keeps dominance through punishing network effects.

The illusion that everything is getting so cheap that it is practically free sets up the political and economic conditions for cartels exploiting whatever isn’t quite that way. When music is free, wireless bills get expensive, insanely so. No matter how petty a flaw might be in a utopia, that flaw is where the full fury of power seeking will be focused. The power of the network grows as the square of its size. The original form was called the fax-machine effect.

One person with a fax machine is useless. Two people is one connection. Three people is three potential connections. Four is 6.

The Web has created a broad new class of knowledge workers: volunteer amateur editors. Their net effect is to displace existing knowledge workers, including journalists, writers, librarians, musicians. Nothing kills jobs faster and more permanently than free labor.

A few of the folks all this places aggregates will inevitably get an insane lift from being hitched to it, and they’ll create even more excitement.
After all that’s the religion the world has run on for 40 years. This ideology wants the algorithm to run the show with as few humans in the loop as possible, ostensibly to improve “customer service” by “lowering prices.

The only thing that matters is that you don’t want to be left out of the loop in the information age. The game is on you, and it will only get worse. The only thing that matters is that you don’t want to be left out of the loop in the information age, and that you want your information to be valued in economic terms, not in terms of how much you can make from it. If the information age accounting were complete and honest, as much information as possible would be valued by those who provide the information.


Scientific data can be gathered and mined, just like gold, provided you put in the hard work. Pretending that data came from the heavens instead of from people can’t help but shrink the overall economy. Capitalism only works if there are enough successful people to be the customers. No economy can be sustained on the backs of a few hundred major companies with a handful of employees and virtually no overhead. No amount of cost lowering can foster economic dignity when it also means that there are fewer good jobs.

We can’t tell how much of the success of an AI algorithm is due to people changing themselves to make it seem successful. People have repeatedly proven adaptable enough to lower standards in order to make software seem smart. Efficiency is a synonym for how well a server is influencing the human world to align with its own model of the world.

The future is uncertain. The death of traditional jobs in the manufacturing and retail industries and the decline in the middle class are just some of the factors contributing to the decline. No amount of cost lowering can foster economic dignity if it also means that there are fewer good jobs.


The music industry is a Superstar economy, that is to say a very small share of the total artists and works account for a disproportionately large share of all revenues. This is not a Pareto’s Law type 80/20 distribution but something much more dramatic: the top 1% account for 77% of all artist recorded music income. A star system is just a way of packaging a bell curve. Winner-take-all distributions come about when there is a global sorting of people within a single framework. But broader forms of reward like academic tenure and research grants are vastly more beneficial

All rituals in which anointed individual will suddenly become rich and famous are winner-take-all rituals. Winner- take-all Distributions, amplify errors and make outcomes less meaningful . To rely on them is a mistake — pragmatic, ethical, but also a mathematical one. ​ Top players are rewarded tremendously while almost everyone else starves.

To get a bell curve of outcomes there must be a variety of paths, or sorting processes, that can lead to success. Henry Ford made a point of pricing his cars so that his own factory workers could afford to buy them. Digital networks have been mostly applied to reduce benefits of locality, and that will lead to economic implosion.


Bands, solo artist, styles and other talent have gone extinct during the collapse of the music industry, mainly as a result of human activity. A big part of the problem is that most consumers now attribute very little value to the recording itself. A decade-long decline in recording revenues has dismantled the label system, once the most reliable form of artist financing.

The music industry brass remained static and went on a campaign to blame everybody but themselves for their problems, The top 1% account for 75% of CD revenues but 79% of subscription revenue. Nashville has lost more than 80 percent of its songwriters since 2000. Most artists are overwhelmed with tasks that go far beyond making music, such as Tweeting fans. Lower royalties are killing an entire generation of writers, he writes. We are slowly losing the race against multi-resistant bacteria, he says.

The only thing that really works for the user (iTunes, Amazon, Spotify) has given rise to a hardware-based, proprietary, walled- garden, non-music-centric, de-facto monopoly. When you hollow out culture, it is inevitable that parasitic forces fill the void sometimes called corporations, sometimes called government.

The hyperefficient market optimized to yield star-system results will not create enough of a middle class to support a real market dynamic. It is that balance that creates economic growth, and thus opportunity for more wealth. To combat the degradations of star systems, levees” arose to compensate Thermodynamics and protect the middle class.

Levees modestly hold back thermodynamics to protect something precious. Markets are an information technology. A technology is useless if it can’t be tweaked. We can survive if we only destroy the middle classes of musicians, journalists, and film makers. But the destruction of transportation, manufacturing, energy, office work, education, and health care will come if the dominant idea of an information economy isn’t improved.

Live Music fans are frustrated with high ticket prices at concerts. The average consumer goes to just 1.5 shows a year. Many others are touring just to pay the bills, including medical bills. Dick Dale, who remains on the road despite his advanced age to pay for treatment for rectal cancer, renal failure, and massive vertebrae damage.

“When this music wants to be free things started happening. We just started having weekly fundraisers for people like famous musicians who’d gotten sick in old age and had like no support me more,” says singer/songwriter John Perry Barlow. “ Intellectual property kind of like a lot of things in our society it you can think of it as something that only benefits elites but actually it was fought for by unions trying to support people who are not elites at all,” he says. “To have it lost by people who thought they were doing the right thing is just one of the great tragedies of our era,” he adds.

Record companies and the Broadcast publishing official statistics are under increased pressure to keep up the illusion that the music Industry is recovering by manipulating whatever dials can be turned by law or fiat. It has given reign give to an interim “gimmick economy” but in the long term, this way of using network technology is not even good for the rich and most powerful players because their ultimate source of wealth can only be a growing economy. An economy where we sell each other PDF’s or MP3’s is no more viable that the debt based on we have now.

The ideal mechanism would reward creativity, and still be tough enough to withstand thermodynamics which will surely appear. So long as public goods make up a minority of a market economy, taxes on non-public goods can be used to pay for the exception where price and value gap are large.


I think where people go wrong in imagining post-capitalist economies is starting with values. The stacking order is technology → economics → values. You need to start with alternative technological principles. Example: design with degradation/aging as a feature not bug.

Venkatesh Rao

The average Sci-Fi writer of the 50s, 60s and 70s would be very, very disappointed with the world of 2018. Technology is not pure/impure but subjected to ape psychology People outside tech truly do not understand the insane & stupid arrogance that dudes develop when you give them magic computer powers, tell them to use those powers instead of thinking, pay them a lot of money, and then give them a space where they can suck each other’s dicks all day. Technology is someone’s opinion in material form, sometimes it’s tantamount to being trapped in someone else’s head. What if tech was designed to solve last century’s problems? Why are we so ineffective tackling the 21st? Maybe we are not prepared to make changes that go beyond our current level of mental complexity. Unfortunately the medium has ended up amplifying lack of flexibility, along with self-absorption.

Biggest “tech” breakthroughs in recent years have been nothing more than clever hacks to get around onerous regulation, he writes. Tech exaggerates economic system tendencies toward extraction, growth for growth’s sake, he says. “World building is a thing” in a digital world, he adds. It’s time for a new era of techlash, and a new generation of tech entrepreneurs, he argues. “Art requires the flexibility to loosen one’s identity in order to feel the pleasure of merging with the artist,” he says, in an emotional and physical connection.

Much of internet was a means to access inner space with different destinations being different possible versions of future you. The new stack is so successful that it optimizes its environment instead of changing in order to adapt to the environment. Cheap networking facilitates exaggerated and rapid network effects. Silicon Valley, which once seemed a portal to unlimited potential, now induces claustrophobia as so many distinct companies with different competencies and cultures must compete for the same global pool of so-called advertisers. It might eventually become an ouroboros, a snake eating its own tail.

This access to inner spaces was supposed to make up for our lack of experience in peer relationships which was preventing some the development of the common pathway through which people learn about decision-making skills and the capacity to maintain a relationship.
However, when your inner space is opened to commercial activity, it exaggerates this economic system tendencies toward extraction, growth for growth’s sake, and the removal of human agency and connection. Now the system amplifies for ruthlessness, and capital “becomes a person” through corporations and tech.

So much information is “free,” that there is nothing left to advertise on Google that attracts actual money. It may well mean either the state takes the means of production to sustain itself (i.e seizes say a bitumen plant to keep roads) or simple hollows out in time. It seems like subtracting value, an enormous amount of value, and stymied progress to seize control and extract wealth.

High unemployment and very high underemployment may well result in a non functioning state. This means building new models for the distribution of necessary rival goods. It is entirely legitimate to understand that people are still needed and valuable. The rich live behind gates, not just to protect themselves, but to pretend to not need anyone else. The ghosts of the losers haunt every acre of easy abundance.

It’s not as if everyone wanted to be closer to all of humanity when cities first formed. Something was lost with the advent of the polis, and we still dream of getting it back. The greatest beneficiaries of civilization use all their power to create a temporary illusion of freedom from politics. In every case, abundance without politics was an illusion that could only be sustained in temporary bubbles, supported by armies. It was a bubble supported by the power of the rich, and it’s time to get rid of it, he argues. The quote could be interpreted as a daydream that better technology will free us to some degree from having to deal with one another.

For better or worse, when the time comes the future will be shaped by the separation of church and state for our times. Our new time lords display difficulty understanding the on-the-books value of culture.Ric Amurrio




Every word or concept, clear as it may seem to be, has only a limited range of applicability.

— Werner Heisenberg

If territory is a concept, the question would be: what is the problem to which it answers? Territory: An area of of phase space under the jurisdiction of a certain temporality. A concept is a way to organize a set of patterns that would otherwise remain chaotic. Concepts are not given as part of the universe, nor are they sitting waiting to be discovered in some Platonic world of Ideas. Rather, they are invented and maybe later ossify into “common sense”

“On Exactitude in Science” Borges writes about a fictional empire so adept at cartography that they are able to make a map of the exact size and dimensions of the Empire but when but when future generations lose interest in mapmaking the massive maps decay and litter the empire. Jean Baudrillard used Borge’s fable to illustrate what he saw as the inversion of the relationship between models (copies) and reality.

The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it. It is nevertheless the map that precedes the territory. Territorial refers to the issue of individuality as an entity, identity, be it a person or a location or something else. If the territory you are familiar with is crossed by other people, the space would be crossed by different maps. There is not one map that stands out and defines space. Or is there?

We are all accustomed to believe that maps and reality are necessarily related, or that if they are not. Scribbling on the map does not change the territory: If you change what you believe about something that is a change in the pattern of neurons in your brain. The real thing will not change because of this.

“The map had been the first form of misdirection, for what is a map but a way of emphasizing some things and making other things invisible?”

~ Jeff VanderMeer

Korzybski’s Quest

Alfred Korzybski was a Polish-Polish engineer and war veteran. He wrote the source book for the field of study we know as General Semantics. He was haunted by his war experiences and asked how it is that humans have progressed so far but still fight wars. He believed that the progress of the sciences has not kept pace with the pace of human progress. His work is concerned with the role of language and language habits in human behavior.

Korzybski’s quest: What makes the human species human? What are the similarities among humans that differentiate us from other species? What accounts for the vast differences in behaviors that are exhibited among humans? Is it possible to characterize these vast differences such that we can more rapidly increase behaviors that advance and progress humanity?

What makes humans human? Time-binding

Plants as Chemistry-binders

Plants absorb, or bind, specific chemicals in their immediate environment. They reproduce cells and produce growth. Growth and reproduction are influenced by other environmental factors such as climate, gravity, and (of course) plant-eating animals and pollinating insects.

Animals as Space-binders

Animals possess (to varying degrees) the ability to move about in their environment. If the source of its food or water depletes, an animal can move to another place. Korzybski referred to animals as space-binders in that they ‘bind’ the spaces within their living territory.


The Ritournelle has been translated in fact in English by refrain Deleuze, as, use an onomatopoeia in order to explain this word: “Tra la la” as a kid would hum.

When do I do Tralala ? When do I hum? I hum when I go around my territory…and that I clean up my furniture with a radiophonic background…meaning when I am at home. I also hum when I am not at home and that I am trying to reach back my home…when the night is falling, anxiety time…I look for my way and I give myself some courage by singing tralala. And, I hum when I say “Farewell, I am leaving and in my heart I will bring…”. The ritournelle (refrain), for me, is absolutely linked to the problem of territory, and of processes of entrance or exit of the territory. I enter in my territory, I try, or I deterritorialize myself, meaning I leave my territory.

The Ritournelle is therefore a form of incantation for a claimed spatiality,

Humans as Time-binders

The most critical difference between humans and animals is our ability to create, manipulate, record, and transform symbols. The ability to transfer knowledge from human to human, within and across generations, is called time-binding. Languages and other symbol systems provide humans with the means to document experiences, observations, tips, descriptions. Knowledge among the human species can therefore accumulate and advance as a body, not as random lessons taught and learned by copying, mimicking, or experience. All human achievements are cumulative; no one of us can claim any achievement exclusively as his own.

We all must use consciously or unconsciously the achievements of others, some of them living but most of them dead, to do greater things by help of things already done by others. It is this ability to ‘bind’ time that makes humans human, and is the defining capability of human time-binders. The capacity for accumulating experience, enlarging it, and transmitting it for future expansion is the peculiar power, the characteristic energy, the definitive nature, the defining mark, of man.

The definition of’ territory’ evades simple categorization because it continuously transforms into something else. It does not privilege or preserve any particular homeland’s nostalgic or xenophobic protection.

The territorial codings between and across certain bird species and their environments are carried over into the music in the use of birdsong. In response to these pressures, musicians have tried to open a space releasing “lines of flight” from the interdisciplinary territories in the hope of connections and new productions. The work of Olivier Messiaen, who used birdsong in his works from about 1955 onwards, linked birdsong to the piano in a way that transformed the domain of the musical instrument

The evolution of life is not about the survival of the fittest through cutthroat competition in conditions of ecological scarcity, but about self differentiating life overflowing with experimental self-organizing forms. For Deleuze, contracting habits was a way of creating order out of chaos. Habits are constitutive of the subject, not expressions of it.

A truly human existence involves overcoming habit, moving from mechanical repetition to creative repetition. Repetition is either conservative or is it creative, he says. In jazz, improvisational jazz, one hazards an improvisation, to join with the world. The idea of repeating with a difference is one of the defining features of improvisation in jazz.

Repetition is in one case a reparative reaction to trauma, a compulsive repetition of the same while the other repetition is a creative response to some of life’s little complexities. What Deleuze would call creative repetition or repetition with a difference

The territory is a multiplicity of partial objects that must be brought together or combined in order to create something that will never be completely stable in itself. To improvise is to join with the World, or meld with it. It is only through the expansion of territory that an identity takes form. Without it, one would be in a static milieu, crystallized:

Territory is a part of phase space and is not granted, but created, the territory itself is structured by some kind of repetition of forms of behavior and their function. In both situations it will be a sequence in of markings, or signs, postures, gestures etc. which will be in both situations.

Multi-territoriality is based on deterritorialization. It disrupts existing modes of meaning, wiping out crystallised individuals, de-substantializing jobs and rewriting history. The territory must have an outside, and there must be a way out of it. This creates an illusion of autonomy where the laws become flexible, but this redistribution of power also puts us all the more under the influence of other territorialities rather than only liberating us. TERRITORIALIZATION

The word ‘ territorialization’ was inspired by the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. For Lacan,’ territorialization’ refers to the way an infant’s body is structured around and defined by erogenous zones and their relations with part-objects. As the infant undergoes a process of territorialisation its orifices and organs are conjugated. In the psychoanalytic sense, to deterritorialise is to free desire from libidinal investment.

This reconfiguration of Lacanian ‘territorialisation’ is that the subject is exposed to new organisations; the principal insight being: deterritorialisation shatters the subject.


Deleuze and Guattari would rather consider things not as objects, but as groups or multiplicities, concentrating on events rather than static essences. Music’s purpose is to facilitate a’ phase’ in which flight lines can be released within these numerous interdisciplinary territories to communicate with each other. The capitalist class attempts to control and submit to the reproduction of capital all of the mechanisms of deterritorialization in the order of production and social relations.

In this respect it must not be viewed in a negative way, it is not the polar opposite of territorialization or reterritorialized. It is not a reversal of the territorialization of the territory, but the formation of new combinations of the elements that made up the original territory. It can best be understood as a movement producing change, in so far as it operates as a line of flight, and indicates the creative potential of an assemblage. Philosophy is an example of absolute Deterritorialization, capital is a relative example.


What accounts for the differences in mapping: Evaluating

Korzybski knew from first-hand experience in World War I that human mapping did not always result in “improvement” or “greater things” Because people can expect to experience the ‘same’ event or situation differently, their reactions to the experience will inevitably be different. So in assessing the differences in human behaviors, Korzybski theorized that these differences were matters of evaluation, that is mapping, due to the different meanings that individuals attached to events and experiences, based on their own individual values.

Korzybski published his time-binding theory in Manhood of Humanity in 1921. For two years he observed patients at St. Elizabeth’s mental hospital in Washinton, D.C. He observed the language of the mentally ill, specifically how in many instances their language (maps) did not match the ‘real’ world (territory), which reflected pathological cases of misevaluation. He specifically sought a way to articulate and communicate how a misevaluation differed operationally from an appropriate evaluation.

The Map|Territory Analogy

Two important characteristics of maps should be noticed. A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness. If the map could be ideally correct, it would include, in a reduced scale, the map of the map; the map of the map, of the map; and so on, endlessly, a fact first noticed by [Josiah] Royce (Korzybski, 1994, p. 58).

1. The map is not the territory.

A map depicts only limited aspects of the territory it represents or symbolizes. For a map to be useful, it must accurately reflect the relative structure or relationships of the key features of the territory. Similarly, our language behaviors can be thought of as maps of our actual life experiences. These verbal expressions of how and what we think, feel, react, judge, assume, etc., should be in accordance with the ‘territory’ . And on a pre-verbal level, we can use the metaphor to remember that even our lived experiences — what we see, hear, feel, smell, taste, etc. — are neurological constructs (‘maps’) of whatever it is in the ‘real’ world outside ourselves.

  • The word is not the thing.
  • The symbol is not the thing symbolized.
  • The name is not the thing named.
  • The referent is not the thing referenced.

In other words, a particular type of distinction is expressed: one thing is not the same thing as another thing which the one thing is represented by. More generally, an abstraction is not that from which the abstraction is abstractedThe map (an abstractionis not the territory ( whatever is not an abstraction; but hold that thought until the summary of this page).

2. The map cannot show all of the territory.

Maps are limited in size and detail. They can only depict selected items of interest or importance. Our language behaviors are limited and cannot include or comprehend all of whatever we are trying to describe or understand. On a pre-verbal level, the maps of what we are seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and smelling account for only a fraction of what exists in the territory of the ‘real’ world.

3. A map is self-reflexive and made by a map-maker.

A human being makes a map by deciding the purpose of the map, the size, the scale, the features to be included, how many copies will be made, who will use it, the colors, etc. We are making our own maps (evaluations) of our experiences, and we can also then evaluate our evaluations. In language, since we can almost endlessly talk about our talking, we are in a sense making maps of maps, of maps of Maps, etc..

In deciding all those details, the human map maker must also determine which features will not be included, which might be exaggerated or emphasized for importance, what descriptive annotations might be helpful. And if the map-maker were constructing a map of the territory which surrounded the map-maker herself, then a theoretically-complete map would include both the map itself and the map-maker.


Abstracting, in the context of Korzybski’s model, refers to physio-neurological processes that occur on non-verbal and verbal levels. From the world of energy stimulations that envelope us, our nervous systems abstract (or select, choose, pay attention to, etc.) only a fraction. From these partial, incomplete, and fleeting sensations, the nervous system must construct our conscious or aware experiences by matching patterns of stimuli with the brain’s ‘database’ of previous experiences.

Evaluating is used in much the same way as abstracting, although you could consider it a higher-level, more generalized term in that we can cognitively evaluate the abstractions that result from our abstracting.

Abstracting by necessity involves evaluating, whether conscious or not, and so the process of abstracting may be considered as a process of evaluating stimuli, whether it be a “toothache,” “an attack of migraine,” or the reading of a “philosophical treatise.” A great many factors enter into “perceiving” … (Korzybski, 1990b, pp. 686–687)

Abstraction process: Structural Differential

Alfred Korzybski developed this diagram in the 1920’s as a means to visualize the abstracting process. The parabola represents an environment (the world around us) consisting of innumerable characteristics or events. Only some of these characteristics can be detected by human senses. These initial sensory data are further abstracted and transformed as the nervous system/brain recognizes and associates the data with a word or label. The tag below the circle represents the Descriptive (verbal) level of abstracting.

From descriptions of events we form inferences, assumptions, opinions, beliefs, etc., by generalizing this experience with our past experiences. And we can continue, indefinitely, to forming ferences from inferences,. which may then be subsequently recalled in future experiences.


Something happens (Event);

I sense what happens (Object);

I recognize what happens (Description);

I generate meanings for what happens. (Inferences)

Abstracting refers to ongoing physio-neurological processes that occur on non-verbal levels. EVENT is not OBJECT is not DESCRIPTION is not INFERENCE, etc. We can verbally differentiate certain phases, or levels or orders, of the abstracting process to analyze our behaviors and reactions. What we experience is a function of the unique capabilities and limitations of our own individual nervous system.

Two Worlds

As a consequence of our abstracting-evaluating processes, you can say we live in two worlds — the world that exists out there beyond our skin, and the world in here within our skin. What each of us knows about the world out there is constructed by our in here nervous systems based on our individual sensory interactions with the world out there.


A. We need to acknowledge and take into account the characteristics of these two worlds.

B. We need to understand that even our most basic sense experiences of the out-there world are created by our brains.

C. We need to maintain awareness, and take responsibility, for the neurological fact of this foundational distinction — what we experience in here is not what’s out there to be experienced.

In Korzybski’s terminology, we need to maintain a consciousness of abstracting, beginning with the understanding that everything we experience represents an abstraction of something else. In a very real sense, all we can ‘know’ are abstractions and associated neurological constructions.

… we used and still use a terminology of ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’, both extremely confusing, as the so-called ‘objective’ must be considered a construct made by our nervous system, and what we call ‘subjective’ may also be considered ‘objective’ for the same reasons (Korzybski, 1990c, p.650).


In General Semantics, the behavior we label identification is normally to be avoided, or at least recognized. We allow the stimulus to determine our response, without deliberately or conditionally evaluating the stimulus. Examples of identification include: mistaking the word as the thing, or the map as the territory. An extreme example would be someone eating a menu because the pictures of the food look so tasty. Someone who eats an unfamiliar food, then later has a rather upsetting reaction when informed what the food was, isn’t reacting to the food. The person is reacting to the sound of the name of the food. The verbalized name is associated (identified) with a previous or imagined terrible experience and that drives the reaction. The author was responding to a negative review on of a plastic product made by a company called Steelmaster. This, even though the reader acknowledged the product was described as being made of plastic.


If we approach territoriality from the perspective of biology, we can use the understanding of territory advanced by the ethologist Jakob von Uexküll. Von Uexküll proposed that there is no meaning outside of a milieu (Umwelt). For him a ‘territory’ refers to a specific milieu that cannot be separated from the living thing occupying and creating the milieu, so that the meaning of a milieu for Von Uexküll is affective.


The origin of the word ‘nomad’ is not, as many have assumed, a romanticized image of actual nomadic peoples, such as the Bedouins, but rather Immanuel Kant’s disparaging claim that the outside of philosophy is a wasteland fit only for nomads. The immediate origin of the concept would seem to be Deleuze and Guattari’s discussion of the despot in L’Anti-Oedipe (1972), translated as Anti-Oedipus (1977). The despot is an intermediate figure between the primitive society without a state on the one hand and the so-called civilized imperial state on the other.

What is crucial about the concept , however, is the fact that in Deleuze and Guattari’s description it refers to a latent state of being, meaning it is virtual and presupposed, but never actual. The figure of the nomad stands for the power of the virtual, or what they call the war machine. The nomad is a tendency towards deterritorialization, Deleuze and Guattari argue, that can be found to some degree in all phenomena. Their project consists in identifying this tendency wherever it can be located and finding ways of amplifying it. A philosophy would be a great philosophy, not if it could be placed within a specific and limited territory of reason (such as a correct and consistent logic) but if it maximized what philosophy could do and created a territory: creating concepts and styles of thought that opened up new differences and paths of thinking.

The signifier holds no sovereignty over interpretation in this account, for intensity of experience is more important than meaning. The signifier is not the determinant of what is signified, for the significations of the text change with the placement of the text in context.

In this sense, nomadic space is smooth-not because it is undifferentiated, but because its differences are not those of a chessboard (cut in advance, with defined movements); the differences establish positions and lines by movement.

A tribe dreams about, crosses and dances a space and thus fills the territory from within; the real territory — the material extension held by this tribe which could then be measured and quantified — would be different from (and dependent on) the abstract, nomadic territory, for if the tribe went on, danced and dreamed elsewhere, the original territory would have been already there.

And if the first territory was crossed by other people, the space would be crossed by different maps. There is not one map that stands out and defines space. Or is there?Ric Amurrio