On A Scale of Now and Then
Below are photographs showing two aspects of the same stone. We will concern ourselves with the top image here. The scale on the ruler in the second image is metric — centimeters and millimeters. We will be looking at temporal differentiation quite differently than any ways that are based in such scalar measure.
Most notable in the top image, and immediately apparent, are the patterns of central marks surrounded by semi-circular arrays of additional points. This pattern does seem very familiar now, as it appears to be configured much as were the examples examined earlier — those apparently based upon patterned ground. A closer examination, however, reveals that there is much else going on here: many of these semi-circular patterns, although they often articulate into fully concentric circles of marks, are clearly patterned after animal tracks — prints characteristic of different animal species, as imprinted by their paws.
Heads and faces of animal species can be discerned in the large white spaces between clusters of black marks; sometimes incorporating black stone grain as image elements, sometimes simply etched in relief (with image elements appearing as darkened grey details, as shadowed by the depth of each inscription into the white stone) where no black marks were located in positions easily incorporated into any particular image design.
Correlating relationships between animals and their tracks, we can begin to broadly define some sense of territoriality — regardless of what we do or do not know concerning the people who produced and used this example of anametric image writing. Further: examining each mark, each individual image element that contributes to an animal’s paw print, provides an ever increasing amount of information about how these animals interacted with their environment — and with people.
Broadly speaking, we “read” these image patterns in a roughly circular fashion; but tangental to each point of articulation, at every step where a new image element is incorporated into our ever growing matrix of understanding, we find new narrative compositions forming.
Overall, these image patterns are not linear in their composition: the information they provide forms through meta-narratives! So, in the process of reading: not only does exactly which specific composites become apparent depend upon each individuals’ discernment (and the lighting conditions under which any image writing example is viewed) — the actual narrative compositions generated are themselves extremely variable, and simultaneously produce multiple complimentary narratives! Clearly, anametric image writing is inherently grounded in differentiation, and is best defined in terms of difference, rather than identity (calling to mind here Leibniz and the differential calculus of minute perceptions). Now we can see very clearly how this form of image writing is of an entirely different kind than phonetic systems of writing, which are inherently identity-based (with symbols directly corresponding with sounds, and composites directly corresponding with words that are composed into linear narratives — exactly as speech is patterned).
Here, we note something new concerning a matter that came to our attention earlier; it isn't just the "in-betweens" holding in composition across grouping patterns that matter: there are also "in-betweens" forming across narratives, as continuities of composition differentiate into disjunctive narrative streams. The "in-betweens" of anametric image writing are an integral part of how this writing formally functions! How very different this form of writing is, from one that is based within a system of accounting! The compelling force driving inscription here is not "to present the same as the same," but on the contrary, to capture difference itself through shifts in compositional patterns.
Below, I have selected out a specific area of the example presented above; and I have highlighted one particular image area. This selection shows the face of a big cat — once again, probably a North American Lion — and the variable composition of image elements within this selection area presents changes in the lion’s demeanor. In each variation that I have selected for a distinct grouping pattern of the lion’s facial features, I have rotated the example slightly; and I have done so to establish a level line connecting apparent pairs of eyes in the lion’s face. There are multiple possible eye pairings in this facial composite; and picking a specific pair (since we know lions have two eyes) implies a specific orientation for the face, which in turn determines the overall grouping of image elements for the entire lion face.
In effect, slight movements of this stone in the hand of someone viewing that area of image elements will precipitate slightly different realizations of the lion’s face: in other words, the “minute perceptions” referenced by Deleuze of Leibniz will singularize, or stabilize into, slightly different images of the lion’s face for a single viewer. These variations are of the same lion; they present us with an example of something which “varies from itself without being other than itself”: in other words, with something that exists specifically within time and AS ESSENTIALLY TEMPORAL IN NATURE, rather than something being expressed in spatial terms by way of metaphor.
Again, this form of image writing has been composed with an entirely different intention than one predicated upon maintaining an accurate account of trade goods; for, what sense would it make to have a system of accounting that presented varying tallies of goods, depending upon who viewed the count?
It is quite obvious here that, right from the very start, something very different is going on with anametric image writing than occurred with the Middle Eastern origin of phonetic writing systems; and it shouldn't take us very long to realize what this difference is, and where it arises.
We all have direct and immediate experience with something that varies from itself without being other than itself: our own consciousness. Gilles Deleuze notes:
"It seems that our problem, in the course of our investigation, has changed altogether. We were inquiring into the nature of the alogical compatibilities between events. But, to the extent that divergence is affirmed and disjunction becomes a positive synthesis, it seems that all events, even contrary events, are compatible — that they are "inter-expressive." Incompatibility is born only with individuals, persons, and worlds in which events are actualized, but not between events themselves or between their a-cosmic, impersonal and pre-individual singularities. Incompatibility does not exist between two events, but between an event and the world or individual which actualizes another event as divergent"
"The Logic of Sense,” page 177.
In this, we can grasp something of that sense of "in-between" which informs anametric image writing. This quote is telling us that it is the personal — as our experience of temporality — which singularizes experience. Whorf's point was that the nature of temporality is expressed differently in different languages — and that a comparison of Standard American English and First Nations languages quickly establishes this process of singularization as one that varies widely. We know that linguistic patterns are directly implicated in the establishment of pre-subjective transcendental fields, and therefore contribute to the formation of the personae that precipitate out from such fields of knowledge; but only because such fields of knowledge are inter-subjective constructs to begin with, and encapsulate the variance of consciousness broadly. It is this very process of encapsulation, though, that imparts specific characteristics to the formation of personae from pre-subjective transcendental fields of knowledge.
You and I may well view an event differently; but at any point in time, we both may see the same event differently than we had a moment ago, and so vary our understanding of what is happening from moment to moment. If we can agree upon this, then it isn't difficult to take the next step: that we might conceptualize events differently if we come from different cultures that have radically different ways of speaking about the world we both experience.
The point to remember here is that events are singularized through the personal; which is to say, that conceptual personae form the horizons upon which events coalesce as distinct. This happens through the creation of concepts. Concepts are the singularities through which horizons of event are defined, and conceptual personae are responsible for producing concepts, through introducing the element of consistency into events — that is, in defining what is being seen clearly of events.
Of course, we are examining a form of writing wherein concepts are produced directly, through the eye movement tracing of image outlines; so, we've caught a huge break here that lets us circumvent some otherwise insurmountable issues related to linguistic translation. We still have to express what we are seeing in words, and that's another issue; but at least we have a fighting chance at the outset to actually realize something of the thoughts that attended these people in their world a very long time ago: we can see the singular images they created; we can compose events from the consistencies we find in these images; and we can grasp the clarity with which they saw their world, allowing us to experience to some extent their point of view — their existence as conceptual personae, as people thinking within the world of their direct and immediate experience.
And yet, even so, we would do well to consider here an added implication: we can not expect any individual from one specific culture to necessarily grasp how another individual from a very different culture realizes events within time — not if very different concepts are being produced, defining horizons of event that are uniquely differential. As with pareidolia, as with confirmation bias, each distinct linguistic culture will have specific ways of selecting events out from the reality of occurrence, and for contextualizing them within their understanding of the world — through the formation of concepts, yes, but also in the sharing of ideas with others — through language. Whatever we might find ourselves thinking, what we find ourselves saying when we bring our ideas into speech may be anther matter; and all the more so when we are going from a form of image writing into a phonetic form of expression.
This is a particularly sensitive matter, for as we saw in the case of the stone circle / Medicine Wheel, it is entirely possible to compose an adequate explanation within one body of knowledge, within a specific non-subjective transcendental field — and in doing so, exclude other interpretations which may be equally sound but even more valid. Different explanations, as event horizons, do not conflict with each other until one specific example is actualized as valid — until one set of concepts is selected as singularizing a specific horizon of event. This is the essence of the arguments swirling around the work of Benjamin Lee Whorf: it is entirely possible for the Hopi to have a very unique grasp of the temporal, as realized through the very different linguistic concepts they use in speaking of events; and it is equally possible for scientists who speak "Standard American English" to point out how time is expressed in Hopi, and to do so using concepts for time that are inherent in English. Whorf's point, and one which Deleuze would appear to be in agreement with, is that one language or the other will form events of time in ways which exclude alternatives — although neither is excluding temporality itself, per say:
"The SAE (Standard American English) microcosm has analyzed reality largely in terms of what it calls “things” (bodies and quasi-bodies) plus modes of extensional but formless existence that it calls “substances” or “matter.” It tends to see existence through a binomial formula that expresses any existent as a spatial form plus a spatial formless continuum related to the form, as contents is related to the outlines of its container. Nonspatial existents are imaginatively spatialized and charged with similar implications of form and continuum.
"The Hopi microcosm seems to have analyzed reality largely in terms of EVENTS (or better “eventing”), referred to in two ways, objective and subjective. Objectively, and only if perceptible physical experience, events are expressed mainly as outlines, colors, movements, and other perceptive reports. Subjectively, for both the physical and nonphysical, events are considered the expression of invisible intensity factors, on which depend their stability and persistence, or their fugitiveness and proclivities. It implies that existents do not “become later and later” all in the same way; but some do so by growing like plants, some by diffusing and vanishing, some by a procession of metamorphoses, some by enduring in one shape till affected by violent forces. In the nature of each existent able to manifest as a definite whole is the power of its own mode of duration: its growth, decline, stability, cyclicity, or creativeness.”
Benjamin Lee Whorf, The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language,
In “Language, Thought & Reality,” pages 147-148.
The point that Whorf appears to have been making throughout his work — and a point that we must find ourselves in agreement with, given what we have seen concerning anametric image writing — is that the languages of the First Nations seem to retain more of the temporal variance that attends our direct experience of the real, prior to our attempts to conceptualize difference referentially, than do languages of European extraction. We definitely see this in anametric image writing, where differential grouping patterns take compositional preference over the system of direct reference established through signification within phonetic forms of writing. Can we conclude that the conceptual personae which precipitate out from each of these very different non-subjective fields of knowledge formation would also markedly differ from each other?
Previously, we have considered the immanences of that prephilosophical plane which is proper to anametric image writing, and which support events as essentially temporal in nature; and we have found some instances where said immanences come to be characterized on that plane by the interrelation of circular patterns: this is to say, we have seen evidence of how different points of view — considered in terms of "what can be seen clearly" — have been compositionally interrelated in such a way as to create bodies of knowledge which are definitionally of a shared origin, rather than being simply a matter of any one individual's imagination. We now see how conceptual personae precipitate out from and at the same time singularize specificity within this context; but the CONSISTENCY with which this happens is yet another matter: that of concept formation.
The question that faces us now, and one upon which our ability to understand anametric image writing ultimately hinges, is this: Can we form conceptual structures through reading anametric image writing, which will create for us horizons of event that allow us to grasp the sense of temporality attending this form of writing for those who originally created it? This is to say: If we agree it is possible the languages of the First Nations may form conceptual structures that are very different than those which tend to form within languages of European extraction, then on what basis can we even begin to realize such differences if we do indeed think linguistically?
This is a question that addresses the core issues facing the linguistic paradigm of philosophy, and the structural understanding of thought. Two very divergent approaches emerged from the 1970s onward to address this issue: in the Anglo-American Schools of philosophy, that of the Biological Paradigm (that neural processes underlie mental states); and in the Continental Schools of philosophy, what might be called (albeit, somewhat contradictorily — which is itself, in this instance, of a differential consistency) the Paradigm of Difference — wherein it is understood that difference necessarily takes precedence over any attribution of identity. As I have already stated, I think there is much of value in both of these approaches: indeed, the certainty and clarity that attends experimental observations obtained from the Biological Paradigm are incontrovertible; but at the same time, insights about the precedence of conceptual structures over linguistic determinations gained through the Paradigm of Difference are invaluable.
In essence, deciding how best we can understand ourselves contributes greatly to our ability for understanding others. By necessity, the answer here cannot simply be, in each and every case, "In English." This point really isn't difficult to understand; consider, for instance: We all have feelings, and we have all at some point experienced difficulty in expressing them, regardless of the language we speak — as surely as we have noticed the changes within ourselves these feelings bring, like it or not.
In general, we can say: That people feel, does not depend upon language; but specifically, we know: How people feel, very easily can.
Philosophically, we would always ask: WHY. And the answer to that question, within post-structural philosophy, can always start the same way: "Our immediate experience of consciousness is one of immanence, as that which differs from itself without being other than itself."
Conceptualizing Time and Space as Differential
Dan Moonhawk Alford was one of Benjamin Lee Whorf’s most qualified proponents. He earned his M.A. in linguistics at UCLA, and spent five years in the 1970s working with the Cheyenne in Montana on language issues. In the 1980s, he taught linguistics and native science courses, and became widely known as one of the leading scholars of Whorf’s work.
In the course of researching the controversy surrounding Whorf’s work, Moonhawk uncovered an interesting genealogical connection for the origin of the concepts Whorf employed. Whorf made use of Einstein's theory of relativity in forming his concept of linguistic relativity; but, it turns out that Einstein's concept of relativity was inspired by — linguistics!
“…Benjamin Whorf had been absolutely right about the relativity of languages, and over the next few years I further nailed down the fact that Einstein got the idea of relativity from the same general source that Whorf did — Humboldtian linguistic relativity, from the founder of linguistics! Whorf got it through Sapir, and Einstein through Jost Winteler, his mentor and rooming house owner, who was a Humboldtian-trained relativity linguist. At bottom, Einstein's physics version was also linguistic, showing that you can't describe a 4D universe with a 3D (Euclidean) language.”
Moonhawk on Whorf.
I suppose we could debate here whether the influence of this relationship was the linear evolution of a conceptual form, or a circular development of this conceptual structure; but in either case, we would still in effect be discussing how we might conceive of time — the concept that lies at the heart of our current inquiry. Still, we can say with certainty that concepts aways come from somewhere, they don't suddenly materialize out of thin air; so it is always useful to know where the components of any given conceptual structure arose.
We can step out of the circularity of this analysis, and away from the tangental arguments which form from it, in remembering that Einstein differed in his conceptual understanding of the temporal with another Nobel Laureate: the great French philosopher, Henri Bergson. Whorf does actually mention Bergson, in the context of temporality:
“What surprises most is to find that various grand generalizations of the Western world, such as time, velocity, and matter, are not essential to the construction of a consistent picture of the universe. The psychic experiences that we class under these headings are, of course, not destroyed; rather, categories derived from other kinds of experiences take over the rulership of the cosmology and seem to function just as well. Hopi may be called a timeless language. It recognizes psychological time, which is much like Bergson’s “duration,” but this “time” is quite unlike the mathematical time, T, used by our physicists.”
Benjamin Lee Whorf, Science and Linguistics,
In “Language, Thought & Reality,” pg. 216.
What could Bergson possibly have been saying about time, that both put him at odds with Einstein and inspired Whorf?
What is "time as duration," according to Henri Bergson?
The answer to that question is absolutely essential to understanding anametric image writing in its own right, rather than as something else presented in metaphor. Let's take this in steps, because this issue is immensely important if we are to understand what is going on here.
The very first thing we need to understand here — according to Bergson — is that time is NOT space. Earlier, we considered how time is often presented within different cultures, by using different spatial metaphors. That was very interesting, and generated some vey useful insights regarding writing and time; but that equation was also used in a roundabout way to demonstrate that Whorf had been very wrong to suggest the Hopi had no sense of time. Yet as Nick Yee has pointed out, Whorf never actually tried to say that: he was simply stating that the Hopi linguistic conceptions which express the temporal are DIFFERENT than what we find implicit in Standard American English.
Bergson's philosophic inquiries into the nature of time come right to the point here. Let's take our time working through them.
"For experience always gives us a composite of space and duration. Pure duration offers us a succession that is purely internal, without exteriority; space, an exteriority without succession (in effect, this is the memory of the past: the recollection of what has happened in space would already imply a mind that endures). The two combine, and into this combination space introduces the forms of its extrinsic distinctions or of its homogeneous and discontinuous "sections," while duration contributes an internal succession that is both heterogenous and continuous..."
"The important thing here is that the decomposition of the composite reveals to us two types of multiplicity. One is represented by space (or rather, if all the nuances are taken into account, by the impure combination of homogenous time): It is a multiplicity of exteriority, of simultaneity, of juxtaposition, of order, of quantitative differentiation, of difference in degree; it is a numerical multiplicity, discontinuous and actual. The other type of multiplicity appears in pure duration: It is an internal multiplicity of succession, of fusion, of organization, of heterogeneity, of qualitative discrimination, or of difference in kind; it is a virtual and continuous multiplicity that cannot be reduced to numbers."
“Bergsonism,” pages 37–38.
The point being made here by Henri Bergson, Nobel Laureate and renowned author of such texts as "Matter and Memory," is a simple one. Objects in space characteristically show differences only in degree. These differences divide up by degree. If you take a board and cut it in two, you have two boards — which taken together, are equal in length to the original board before it was cut.
Events, durations, are very different. Events in time divide as differences in kind. Think of a young child with an ice cream cone, happily walking along on a sunny summer day. The child stumbles; the ice cream falls from the cone, landing on the ground: the child is inconsolable (for a time). There is a division in the child's emotional state, but it is not one of degree — it is a division in kind, between being happy and being sad.
And yes, we can say that the child (to an extreme degree) is not happy; but if we do, we are not saying what the child IS (ex-cream): the child is not "unhappy" by being happy to a lesser degree, the child is something altogether OTHER than happy.
Bergson has very much more to say about time, and duration; but consider this point above all others with reference to anametric image writing, for it does not bear refutation:
If you have a stone, it will of course have notable differences — as does any object; BUT, as with all natural objects, these differences CAN ONLY BE DIFFERENCES IN DEGREE. The stone is lighter or heavier than others; it is larger or smaller; it is harder or softer; it is more or less of one color or another; it breaks more easily this way or that; the pattern of its grain is denser, or more scattered. That's all there is; there can be nothing else that is not more or less of one thing or another.
So if you find a stone that has images of animals and people and tools and other objects upon it, that CAN'T simply be a result of natural processes. What you are seeing are differences in kind, because, the way these things are of different types is being shown — and that can ONLY be realized as an aspect of time; but, in a very specific way: differences between kinds of things can only be show through MEMORY, because, things differ from each other through their individual histories of interacting with the world in one way or another, and another yet again and again. It is ONLY through memory that temporal differences — differences in kind — can be discerned. One can take a lion and a horse, and measure their differences in size and weight and so on; but it is only when the two begin to act in the world as the things that they are, that one begins to know the nature of each in its own right — and that neither are "more or less" the other, but are instead very different animals indeed.
Here, we reach two inescapable conclusions: if we encounter images of different kinds of things on a rock, then what we are encountering are the effects of someone's memory. If we are encountering images of real things that we have never actually seen, things which neither we nor any other living person could have seen actually existing during the time of our life in the world, then what we are seeing are the intentional result of someone else's memory — someone who lived a very long time ago.
A third explanation — that rocks are capable of forming visual memories and imprinting them upon their own surfaces — perfectly demonstrates how ridiculous any out-of-hand rejection of anametric image writing must in essence be; but it also very nicely brings to the forefront an important issue we will have to examine later: that of the mechanism of inscription (or as Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari call it, "The Abstract Machine of Inscription"), whereby images are imparted onto stone in the production of anametric image writing. In that people must have been responsible for producing anametric image writing, we can learn quite a bit by examining HOW it was produced — by people.
And so there it is: there simply is no other explanation here that makes any sense at all — except that, the First Nations of North America invented and developed a form of writing with images that has remained undocumented because of an assumption that their culture was an illiterate one — rather than the first fully literate culture in the world, as we are now led to believe by the facts and evidence lain before us (as a pre-philosophic plane, I might add) in the course of this inquiry.
It should perhaps come as no surprise that the existence of this form of image writing has never been recognized and documented; after all, look at the academic acrimony directed toward Benjamin Lee Whorf — for attempting to document and describe a spoken language that is widely recognized! And yet, when one looks at some of the most "contentious" ideas advanced by Whorf, they do not seem so very untoward — if one actually reads what Whorf wrote. Take, for example, our current topic of discussion — time:
"After long and careful study and analysis, the Hopi language is seen to contain no words, grammatical forms, constructions or expressions that referred directly to what we call “time,” or to past, present, or future, or to enduring or lasting, or to motion as kinematic rather than dynamic (i.e. as a continuous translation in space and time rather than as an exhibition of dynamic effort in a certain process), or that even referred to space in such a way as to exclude that element of extension or existence that we called “time,” and so by implication leave a residue that could be referred to as “time.” Hence the Hopi language contains no reference to “time,” either explicit or implicit."
Benjamin Lee Whorf, An American Indian Model of the Universe,
In “Language, Thought & Reality,” pgs. 57-58.
Whorf isn't saying that the Hopi have no concept of time — far from it. As Nick Yee pointed out, he was simply saying that the Hopi language does not use the European ideal of time — that of a thing, which can be cut up into pieces, like a loaf of bread being sliced into days of the week or hours of the day. Whorf also says something else about the way the Hopi express time that is very interesting: not that they can't express any ideas about temporality, but that they DON'T talk about time without also speaking of space — which is to say, as Bergson would, that "experience always gives us a composite of space and duration." It would seem that Whorf wasn't saying anything unreasonable; but rather, that the way he was saying it didn't sit well with those who would never admit to the possibility that their world view is anything less than completely objective.
So once again, when we circle back to the issue of why this form of writing has never been recognized and documented by Western Academic Society, we yet again find the issue of: How point of view, in being established through what is considered to be seen with clarity, also excludes from view that which does not conform to the established viewpoint being preferentially selected. Bergson has what is perhaps a more elegant way of circumscribing this issue: We proceed in our understanding by way of intuition, he said; but intuition in the sense of our ability to discern the temporal, as duration, in the world — as determined through our own immediate experience of duration, our immanent immersion within the temporal as conscious beings who vary in our thoughts without experiencing ourselves as being other than who we think we are at any given moment. And again, we see the true nature of the problem that those who criticize Whorf's work embody: How can they grasp a radically different sense of duration if they can only express the temporal through what they clearly understand of duration from within their own language?
In terms of geophilosophy, and their (successful) attempts to move beyond the standard subject/object dichotomy that is so deeply embedded in Western thought (and its grammatical structures), Deleuze and Guattari might describe this situation in terms of deterritorialization and reterritorialization: on the one hand, of Whorf in his attempts at deterritorialization away from the thought patterns circumscribed by Standard American English; and on the other, of subsequent attempts by others to reterritorialize his work by forcing it back within the strictures of Standard American English.
Thankfully, we have reason to think that we might escape this conceptual cul-de-sac of reterritorialization by virtue of the fact that we can discern differences in kind simply through the movement of our own eyes in tracing the outlines of image elements. And because difference in kind is the only principle that grants us some certainty we are looking at the product of another human's hands here, rather than the result of unguessed natural processes (or our own fevered imaginations), our inquiry into the nature of anametric image writing will necessarily proceed through an examination of what can be known of the temporal in terms of differences in kind.
Note that these are not insights which are obtained when working with a spatialized concept of time. Nor are they insights gained from a linear concept of the temporal. These insights come from viewing time as a multiplicity; and this thought has a very specific point of origin for Bergson:
"In fact for Bergson it is not a question of opposing the Multiple to the One but, on the contrary, of distinguishing two types of multiplicity.
"Now, this problem goes back to a scholar of genius, G.B.R. Riemann, a physicist and mathematician. Riemann defined as "multiplicities" those things that could be determined in terms of their dimensions or their independent variables. He distinguished discrete multiplicities and continuous multiplicities. The former contain the principle of their own metrics (the measure of one of their parts being given by the number of elements they contain). The latter found a metrical principle in something else, even if only in phenomena unfolding in them or in the forces acting in them."
“Bergsonism,” page 39.
Bergson uses his concept of duration to establish a philosophic method: that of intuition. This is not the "vague sense of something unknown" we usually associate with that term, but a rigorous approach to philosophic inquiry: that of determining the temporal aspects of an issue, and defining the differences in kind which inform the situation under consideration. Bergson thought of this approach as being every bit as rigorous as the solving of mathematical equations, or as any other form of scientific inquiry; and Bergson demanded that concrete examples be used, rather than vague generalizations and universal concepts.
Duration, the temporal, can only be grasped through that which is in and of time: we can describe temporal events because we ourselves experience the flow of time directly, as immanent to the nature of our being in the world. In this way, Bergson clearly divides two realms of inquiry: that of the spatial, measured by scale; and that of the temporal, measured in duration.
"It is clear that Bergson, as a philosopher, was well aware of Riemann's general problems. Not only his interest in mathematics points toward this, but, more specifically, "Duration in Simultaneity" is a book in which Bergson opposes his own doctrine to the theory of Relativity, which is directly dependent on Riemann. If our hypothesis is correct, this book loses its doubly strange character. In the first place, it does not appear abruptly and without explanation. Rather, it brings into the open a confrontation that until then, had been implicit between Riemannian and Bergsonian interpretations of continuous multiplicities..."
"(Bergson) had, in fact, profoundly changed the direction of the Riemannian distinction. Continuous multiplicities seemed to him to belong essentially to the sphere of duration. In this way, for Bergson, duration was not simply the indivisible, nor was it the non-measurable. Rather, it was that which divided only by changing in kind, that each was susceptible to measurement only by varying its metrical principles at each stage of the division."
“Bergsonism,” page 40.
This approach places us quite closely, and with great authenticity, to where we can begin to grasp the nature of anametric image writing directly. We do not need to resort to spatial metaphors; and we do not need to speak one of the many First Nations languages (although this would of course help immensely): we just need to be sensitive to our own experiences of duration in the world, and try our best to see the sense of duration that attends to each aspect of anametric image writing we encounter. Rather than thinking of time in terms of discrete units, with every temporal aspect measure on the same scale (by a present/presence measured in minutes, or hours, or days, along a linear scale stretching from past to future), we will need to realize that each temporal aspect or event we encounter will have its own characteristic dynamic of duration — its own "event signature," as it were; and that we can discern these only by virtue of our own immanent experience of duration, through the life we live within this world.
This is not to say that we will dispose of spatial relationships altogether, or ignore the relationships of metaphor introduced earlier with regard to time; but it is to say that we are not going to leap directly onto the linear bandwagon of spatialized temporality, simply because it can take us somewhere down the road with little effort on our part. Instead, we will pause to ponder here the relationships of immanence through which (for instance) a spatialized system of survey and mapping underpins and holds together the temporal aspects of anametric image writing (as differences in kind that portray event structures). This will become very important in the next section, when we consider how the metrical properties of the stone substrates used in producing anametric image writing influenced the historical development of that writing form.
Note also: this approach is a very different one than using pictures of things to count their number (although that too presents us with a composite of space and time). In this sense, the issue we are addressing is not one in which we are comparing the use of images in the Middle East at the origin of phonetic writing with the use of images in North America at eh origin of anametric image writing: for in the first case, images were being used as an aid to making a spatial determination of measure (how much of what commodity was being transported in trade); and in the second case, events in time were being conveyed in terms of territorial survey. Instead, we are examining immanences of spatial and temporal aspects as they constitute a prephilosophic plane.
As Bergson notes, we always experience space and time as a composite; and so when we tease the two apart — as Bergson has done in order to realize the role played by these two very kinds of multiplicity — for our purposes, it will always be much more productive to consider SPECIFIC composites of spatial and temporal multiplicities. As we know from the outset, any movement whereby our eyes trace image outlines will be dependent upon resolution thresholds determined by visual contrasts; and yes, in this we always begin with a perceptual matter defined by metrical variances. When we shift into imaging consciousness, however, we find ourselves concerned with an entirely different manner for distinguishing what we are seeing; and we know that we are already neurologically hard wired to distinguish certain kinds of things within our visual field (specifically: faces; places; and, things).
Within that visual field, our eyes move around in the course of finding outlines to trace; and in doing so, we compose discrete image elements into composites that convey to our imagination distinct differences between the kinds of things we are seeing. So in reading anametric image writing, we will be constantly grouping and ungrouping image elements that articulate into image composites — all of which will have a unique spatial distribution that underpins the durational attributes we find defining differences in kind. And none of this will be in a linear distribution, such as we see in Western European languages: the metrical scales we encounter are not of sequence, of "larger afters" that FOLLOW "smaller befores"; they are of divisions that separate and join BETWEEN different events, and they are of resolution thresholds: as much of lighter and darker, as of radial proximity in establishing composite image areas. In this, we can immediately see where any comparisons based upon spatial metaphor, implied as holding between anametric image writing and phonetic forms of writing, fall short: with the former, we are not simply dealing with the linearity of word order (as we are with the latter). Spatially, we are dealing with a wide range, a varied assortment of differences in degree when we encounter anametric image writing.
"In short, "object" and "objective" denote not only what is divided, but what, in dividing, does not change in kind. It is thus what divides by differences in degree. The object is characterized by the perfect equivalence of the divided and the divisions, of number and unit. In this sense, the object will be called a "numerical multiplicity." For number, and primarily the arithmetical unit itself, is the model of that which divides without changing in kind. This is the same as saying that number has only differences in degree, or that its differences, whether realized or not, are always actual in it."
“Bergsonism,” page 41.
Thus we can say that "numerical multiplicities," such as we find realized through objects in space, are characterized by linear metrics of measure: the more times you break a rock, the more pieces of rock you have. Duration, on the other hand, is in itself distinctly NOT characterized by linear ranges of metric determinations; and so I have chosen to designate this form of image writing as "anametric" (which simply sounds a little better — much better, actually — than "numerical" and "nonnumerical").
Here, as much as we might be inclined to see "what happened next," we will always also see that things could happen differently — because the variances we are working with are compositionally supporting temporal multiplicities. Duration, we will find, is always about what happens IN BETWEEN any "before" and any "after" — which, as "event," is defined within anametric image writing very differently than as the "present" of "presence" that characterizes Western European languages.
"In reality, duration divides up and does so constantly: That is why it is a multiplicity. But it does not divide up without changing in kind, it changes in kind in the process of dividing up: This is why it is a nonnumerical multiplicity, where we can speak of "indivisibles" at each stage of the division. There is other without there being several; number exists only potentially. In other words, the subjective, or duration, is the virtual. To be more precise, it is the virtual insofar as it is actualized, in the course being actualized, it is inseparable from the movement of its actualization."
“Bergsonism,” page 42.
Which is to say (in part), our immediate experience of consciousness (our immanent sense of ourselves as conscious) is such that it continuously changes without actually fragmenting into discrete pieces (which isn't to say that can't happen; but, we are not here concerning ourselves with pathological states of consciousness); and that it is with this sense of duration as continuous variance that we grasp the temporal in the world as "other," in the sense of durations we know we are not.
But, what exactly might we be thinking when we say that time is a multiplicity? What could this possibly mean? Well, we must first discount the notion that time is a single temporal dimension, adjunct to the three spatial dimensions we so readily reference. We must also abandon the idea that time has only three temporal dimensions — past, present, and future. So, let's work our way backward: how many dimensions could the temporal possibly have? Our upper limit here — starting from the idea that the temporal is characterized by divisions in kind — is that time has an infinite number of dimensions; which is to say, that each and every event is, in itself, a dimension of time; and that these collectively populate the temporal, even as objects populate space. In this scenario, we might then liken shifting between events in time as analogous to moving between objects in space; but, that metaphor clearly does not hold as comparable to our immediate human experience of duration — so again (at the extreme edge of possibility), we see how quickly spatial metaphors fail us in our attempt to convey the possible nature of our experience with the temporal.
What, then, is the nature of that dimensionality which is proper to the temporal? Well, in the context of our current inquiry, we might make reference to the Hopi (and other First Nations) approach to expressing the nature of the temporal: that of duration, as, intensity. And in this, we can see an implicit alignment with Bergson's approach: not that we move between events in time, as with objects in space; but, that events move of their own dynamics RELATIVE TO our immediate experience of duration within our own consciousness: what we understand of the temporal happens IN BETWEEN our direct experience of immanence, and duration as we experience it of immanences forming in the world around us.
In other words, we might say that our point of view with regard to the world is determined by the clarity with which we perceive duration within our own immediate experience — that is, through the singular specificity of our individual lives.
With this approach, the dimensionality of the temporal unfolds in terms of INTENSIVE ORDINATES: we orient ourselves, in time, in accordance with the intensity of change expressed in duration; that is, through the differentials of variance that characterize divisions in time as differences in kind. And once again, it seems that we will be drawn back toward using a spatial expression for this variance — is not intensity a matter of discerning more, and less? Of course it is; but, only as localized phenomena: so, we must acknowledge here that the temporal as a distinction is always a positional attribution. This certainly does not contradict Bergson (who in fact insists that we are always dealing with a composite of space and time), and it also perfectly situates the nature of anametric image writing for us — in that we have a substrate of diagrammatic features therein defining a prephilosophical plane of immanence, which is now coupled with intensive ordinates capable of producing conceptual structures through the singularization of event horizons.
We have a co-ordinate system for mapping events in time and space: we have an image writing system that functions as an EVENT LANGUAGE; and this, in describing the conceptual territorialization of the world by people within it, defines for us the conceptual personae of those who produced anametric image writing.
You can research the concept of event languages; it is now a very well established field — one which will suggest to you, to some extent, how advanced anametric image writing is (relative to other, phonetic forms of writing — which have been in use for only the last several millennia).
So now, thanks to Henri Bergson, it seems we know exactly what we are looking for when we encounter anametric image writing.
Let's put these insights to the test.
"For actualization comes about through differentiation, through divergent lines, and creates so many differences in kind by virtue of its own movement. Everything is actual in the numerical multiplicity; everything is not "realized," but everything there is actual. There are no relationships other than those between actuals, and no differences other than those in degree. On the other hand, a nonnumerical multiplicity by which duration or subjectivity is defined, plunges into another dimension, which is no longer spatial and is purely temporal: It moves from the virtual to its actualization, it actualizes itself by creating lines of differentiation that correspond to its differences in time. A multiplicity of this kind has, essentially, the three properties of continuity, heterogeneity, and simplicity."
“Bergsonism,” page 43.
Reading Anametric Image Writing
Examining the area that implies the mouth for the face of the Three Feather Chief, we can note this section of the overall assemblage is divided into two primary areas of black stone grain, co-joined at the center. The smaller of the two areas, on the left, presents the outline of a North American Lion’s head (facing left).
The characteristic thick, rounded ear of this type of lion can be clearly discerned in the upper right corner of this image area, protruding over as far as the upper left edge of the second area of black stone grain to the right. The nose of the lion protrudes in the upper left corner, at the left edge of the mouth assemblage, with sites for eyes roughly midway between the nose and ears. There is of course more than one positional placement for the eyes, and as always, which eye is selected and its relative position will inform the orientation and demeanor for the rest of the lion’s apparent face. Toward the bottom of the left edge, we see the mouth quite clearly inscribed, running parallel to the top and bottom of the lion’s head.
Below the lion’s head, about a third of the way toward the right edge and directly below the first eye position (which, when reading from left to right, is just below the top of the lion’s head) toward the back edge of the mouth, there is a curious hooked outline curving downward, from the left and pointing to the right. This appears to be a lion’s claw, but it is also something else: to the left, beyond this section of black stone grain and extending from the lion’s snout, we can see a much larger outline of the same structure — but it is also presented as articulating into the beak of a bird (again, this is etched in outline into the white stone background). A closer examination of the original image element reveals that this claw, too, articulates into the beak of a bird (apparently, a raptor of some sort); however, a third iteration of this image element (to the right of the first example, but pointing upward and curving from right to left) does not immediately appear to articulate into the beak of a bird’s head.
Other image positions do repeat this articulation. Tracing with our eyes upward from the tip of the first claw spotted, toward the bottom of the lion’s head, along the curve of the claw, we find as we begin to move parallel with the bottom of the lion’s head that we have found two smaller birds’ heads, with prominent beaks, both facing to the right.
So, we have four different kinds of things — lions, birds, claws, and beaks; with a point of articulation between the lion’s claws and the bird’s beak. From this, we can gain a little information — information that was being passed along by whomever created this section of image writing. We are starting to read anametric image writing!
It is a safe presumption that birds are always more common than lions, and so it would make sense to describe lions in terms of birds. The beaks of birds — of raptors, and many other species — are used to tear and rend flesh; and this is also what a lion’s claws do. Lots of animals have claws, but cats large and small are somewhat singular in having retractable claws, which are used for far more than added traction, digging, climbing, or defense. Anyone who has seen a house cat sharpen its claws knows they are used for ripping and tearing, too. It makes sense that this would be information conveyed about big cats such as lions; and it is interesting to see how this information is conveyed: through an articulation that functions through a sense of immanence, which fuses together two differences in kind and so creates a concept that can be immediately grasped — even if there is no immediate way to express the results as simply when using words alone.
Thus we see that, while differences in kind divide up through time, the articulation of such differences establishes another temporal aspect: that of immanence, which is integral to the formation of concepts. This is why concepts show such a great affinity with events per say — and why numerical or metrical properties are entirely insufficient for composing conceptual structures. Once again, we can see how sorely lacking any accounting system would be for creating a true system of writing.
In the lighter area that separates the two primary sections of black stone grain, at the very bottom and to the left of this area of separation (which runs from the bottom at the left to the top at the right), we see the figure of a hooded person who is facing to the right. This person also seems to be looking downward, toward something in their hands — perhaps a small animal being carried in their arms, with it’s head and neck extending to the left of the hooded figure; so, perhaps they are bent forward under the weight of what they are carrying. I think we can assume that what is being carried is something to eat — because the hind section of the animal being carried abuts the very large nose of a predatory animal, its head shown facing left in outline as the lower half of the left side of the black stone grain section on the right.
This might be a dire wolf: the pupil of it’s eye is round, and its ears are pointed, and its eyes and cranium jut above the general shape jaws (whereas the upper part of the lions’ head is more in line with the contours of the snout).
Between the top front of the figure’s hood, connecting the two sections of black stone grain, there is a small sliver of black stone outlined — in the shape of a weapon. It may be a stone knife; it may be a saner toothed tiger’s incisor; conceptually, it may be articulating both together — but it is pointing to the implied position of the dire wolf’s other eye. It is also pointing to one of the incisors of a large cat (but it doesn’t seem to be a lion) that is biting down upon the dire wolf’s head, with the nose of the large cat’s head (which is composed of the upper left corner of the second section of black stone grain) immediately above the tip of the knife.
Now we have a slightly more complex articulation of image elements — one that directly implicates a person. In both cases, note that the point of conceptual articulation invokes the same kinds of things: tools employed in hunting, attacking, and feeding.
We can perhaps tentatively say here that the image area composing the mouth of the Three Feather Chief is a stone knife, shown in two sections: the stone it is broken off from, on the left; and the stone taken for this tool, on the right — with the nature of the tool itself shown as the slender piece of black stone grain connecting the two sections.
There is still a multitude of different images to be found in this singular image area; but, moving on to the section on the right, we find something very much of interest: the image of a mammoth, distinguished as a pachyderm by the prehensile trunk tip — and as a mammoth by the domed shape of the skull.
The top right corner of this second image area shows the head of a mammoth, facing right, with its trunk curving down and then back to slightly below the midpoint of this section’ s right edge. The mammoth’s eye can be seen as a small, highlighted image element; and the domed skull can be clearly seen at the top of the right hand side of this area — immediately below and in front of the image of a duck floating on water. Directly below the duck, in a detailed area of white stone just behind the protruding head of the mammoth, there is the image of a North American Lion — one that looks very sadly disappointed. We’ll get to that in a little later.
Wherever mammoths are depicted in anametric image writing, they are usually accompanied by an illustration detailing the tip of the trunk. This “C” shaped presentation of the prehensile tip of the mammoth’s trunk is often very accurate, in that it generally captures the fact that the upper tip of the trunk’s end is more pronounced than the lower one. A long, curving structure with this characteristic “C” shape at the end is a good indication the image of a mammoth can be found in the immediate vicinity of that image element.
Moving upward to the position of the eyes in the facial motif of the Three Feather Chief, we immediately note that the eye on the right is also a mammoth. The image element on the left appears to be a person — one wearing a very bulky hooded suit, reminiscent of that kind traditionally favored by Inuit hunters in the high Arctic. This person is facing toward the mammoth (which is facing in the same direction, away from the hunter) and crouching, with a weapon held upraised in the right hand. The overall image area of this hunter is of course composed of a number of image elements, and I won’t try to inventory them all now; but I would like to point out a very nice image of a North American Lion’s face, detailed in white outline at the back of the hunter’s right shoulder, where the upper right arm joins the mass of the hunter’s body. The upraised section of the hunter’s lower arm is itself the image of an alert wolf, sitting on its haunches with its back to the viewer and its head turned toward the extended weapon. Immediately in front of the wolf’s face, in the base section of the weapon image area, there is a person’s face looking right toward the end of the weapon image area; and the weapon image area is itself composed of multiple image elements.
It is difficult to discern exactly what the weapon image elements convey; but, white details within the black image area of the weapon seem to show a comparison in size between the tusk of the mammoth, and the weapon used by the hunter. The hunter’s weapon, much smaller, defines the open area in the “C” shape of the mammoth’s trunk; and the placement of this trunk image, with the tusk, extending from beside the head and face of the person depicted in front of the wolf suggests that these items are being carried over that person’s shoulder — indicating that these items are prized.
Moving over to the mammoth image area, we can see that the trunk and tusks are not the only valued parts of the mammoth: the hind quarters of the mammoth are shown disproportionately large, probably indicating that this is where most of the meat is located on the mammoth; but the head is also shown disproportionately small, indicating both the height of the mammoth (I’ve seen such point of view perspectival variances on other mammoth images, from other examples of anametric image writing) and, in all probability, also indicating that the animal is best approached from behind.
Below the mammoth, as the white inclusion that separates the mammoth’s legs, there is the image of a happy baby mammoth, its trunk raised toward its mother’s milk. Above the mammoth, as a small mark of black stone grain, there is a single small spear point shown arcing toward the mammoth — indicating, no doubt, both the preferred distance at which a mammoth is best hunted, and the preferred method for bringing one down..
Circling back to the the assemblage of the first eye, and taking a slightly more removed view of that image outline, we can discern something else here: not only is that image area presenting the outline of a mammoth hunter, it is also itself the image of a prone mammoth collapsed on the ground — but a very small mammoth, little more than twice the size of the person shown standing at its flank, at the bottom left of the image assemblage. Following this baby mammoth’s trunk, which protrudes to the right at the top of the image assemblage, back along the top of the black stone grain, we find a round white eye — immediately before a white incursion into the black stone grain that presents the image of a stone ax (from a distance), but also the image of a North American Lion’s head (on closer inspection). Both are directed toward an area on the baby mammoth’s neck, just below and behind where the ear would be attached. At lower section of this location, there is also a jagged black “squiggle” outlined in white — a design element which is at once the open mouth of a terrified baby mammoth, the attacking teeth of a lion, and (at its edges) the curved edge of a stone ax.
There is very much more information that could be drawn out from these image areas, but I really just want to give an overview of the facial features as image elements before having a detailed look at the “Three Feather” motif centered above them.
Before we continue on to have a look at the “Three Feather” motif pictured here, note something interesting about how this particular perspective presents the knife-as-mouth assemblage: angled and lighted in this way, we can see in the bottom corner on the right hand side, at least two mammoth trunks that emerge from the black stone grain to be outlined against the white background matrix. At this angle of view, in this lighting, the duck noted earlier at the top right hand corner now appears as the head of a dire wolf. The two areas of black stone grain are not separate in this view, but are joined together to form the head (facing left, previously the smaller of the two black areas) and body (previously the larger of the two black areas) of yet another dire wolf — as seen from above and to its left side, as if viewed from a perch in a tree. The patterns within the black mark (that was previously separate, on the right hand side) depict the closely pressed heads of a pack of dire wolves, with at least two facing in three quarter profile to the front right; but viewed with an emphasis placed more on the previously left and smaller black mark, this pattern also appears as waves upon a rough and choppy sea.
We would need to correlate this with other examples, but, overall the suggestion here could be that one strategy for hunting mammoth was to drive them into deep water, where they would be more or less defenseless against anything on the surface of the water — or at any shore where the land drops directly and deeply into the water. It would seem this strategy could be used successfully, against adult mammoth, by larger groups of people acting in concert — perhaps even with hunters in small watercraft herding the desperately swimming mammoths toward a steep section of shore where other hunters waited with a good supply of spears. Single hunters, it seems, might be better advised to tackle baby mammoth — a fact that holds true for both humans and lions. Groups of hunters, however, might be better able to take down fully grown mammoths — if they could make use of a body of water. Now we see the reason why the lion by the duck looked so forlorn in the earlier example of this image area — and why the dire wolf replaces that lion in this perspective.
The Three Feathers
Overall, we are starting to form a much clearer sense of whomever created the image writing on this artifact, as a person — or at least, in terms of the conceptual persona that their thoughts trace for us in outline. We are beginning to see the way in which this person conceptualized their experience of the world in which they lived. Note that we are not seeing spatial metaphors being used to portray time — not at all. We are seeing metrical properties of the substrate being utilized in the presentation of temporal distinctions — we are seeing differences in kind being depicted through images that are detailed using physical properties that vary by way of measured degree. So, if anything, we might expect to see proximities of image elements serving as a proxy for the entanglements of events; but we could as easily see variations in tonality serving the same purpose, as the grouping patterns of image elements we discern shift when viewed under different intensities of ambient light. In any case, the depictions we are seeing are composites of temporal and spatial elements: they are not metaphors for time created using spatial descriptions. Indeed, these are composites such as anyone encounters constantly throughout their life — except, of course, that image elements from very specific lives, from very specific times, are in evidence here.
We must also note that, while it is perfectly normal that space and time are always encountered as a composite, in anametric image writing we are in fact encountering intentional composition: that is to say, we find immanences depicted in ways that never occur in actuality, and that have been brought together into composites in order to create concepts — with the intention of conveying information. This is to say, we are not encountering simply what only would be present within direct perception: we are encountering complex composites that can only be the result of imaging consciousness, that could only be composed by using the imagination. We are not simply seeing things that could have been drawn or otherwise created in the moment of their encounter: we are seeing things that must have been produced from memory. Once again, the importance of this point cannot be overemphasized: when we are dealing with the imaging consciousness of other people, when we are dealing with human memory, we are always already working within the realm of the historical; and the questions we must then answer relate to the proper nature of what can only be called history.
We are not in the realm of the prehistoric here; and any claims to the contrary must therefore be assessed as to the grounds by which history is then being defined — as well as, who is constructing that definition, and what criteria of selection are being deployed. We do find this same situation arising elsewhere in the world, and it is a point of major historical consequence: for it is in the deep caves of Europe, during the last ice age, where we also see images being created in ways that entirely preclude the immediate presence any direct subject — where images were being created from memory. I think there is a simple reason explaining both examples, and it has everything to do with the climactic conditions of the time in those places; but I won’t go into that here beyond noting that in the North American instance we find the end result is demonstrably an actual form of writing. By definition, we can say that the written history of North America actually extends back beyond that of Europe.
We noted earlier that the image area composing the mouth seemed to articulate through the depiction of a tool or a weapon which connected the two sections that compose the mouth. We also noted that this articulation carried on over to the image areas which compose the eyes, where it is once again seen as articulating between two separate image areas — but in a much more conceptually dynamic fashion.
Let's consider for a moment something that Whorf commented upon:
“The Hopi microcosm seems to have analyzed reality largely in terms of EVENTS (or better “eventing”), referred to in two ways, objective and subjective. Objectively, and only if perceptible physical experience, events are expressed mainly as outlines, colors, movements, and other perceptive reports. Subjectively, for both the physical and nonphysical, events are considered the expression of invisible intensity factors, on which depend their stability and persistence, or their fugitiveness and proclivities.”
Benjamin Lee Whorf, The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language,
In “Language, Thought & Reality,” pgs. 147-148.
In examining the image composites anchored in the facial features of the Three Feathered Chief, we can note an interesting distinction — the information conveyed by the mouth as image area is, generally speaking, contextual in nature; while the image areas that compose the eyes portray a situation of personal immanence. This apparent division may convey an important linguistic distinction, between what is known by way of language (the reports of others) and what is know directly from perception. Now of course, the Hopi language study by Whorf would have little connection to this example of image writing from the Northwest Coast. However, this example of image writing is at least 12,000 years old; and, we know that wherever the ancestral Hopi had come from, at some point they must have passed through the area where this image writing originated.
These observations are not fielded with the intention of “proving” something by way of a tenuous associative connection: rather, I am simply drawing attention to the fact that there may always be linguistic patternings at play in anametric image writing that we do not yet grasp; and that we should try to keep such possibilities in our attention RATHER THAN simply defaulting in our understanding to the patterns inherent in Standard American English (such as a sense of time expressed in terms of past / present / future, or as spatial metaphors). It stands to reason that there is more in common between Hopi and this example of image writing than between either and Standard American English; so perhaps, we might even be able to use the example of anametric image writing to clarify the ideas that Whorf was trying to convey — if we strive to remain open to new possibilities of conceptual structure that anametric image writing might offer. If we can map enough of the differential variances that distinguish First Nations’ languages from those of European extraction, we may well be able to compose a more accurate conceptual tracing of the immanences that inform this very broad linguistic group.
For example, we might ask ourselves: What is the nature of The Historical, when history is not being defined by dates? This is certainly a valid, even a pressing question: as we have seen, the use of dates to define the archaeological record has led to much controversy regarding the history and arrival of the First Nations in North America — a situation which seems to preference within many anthropological circles a certain strain of confirmation bias not unlike pareidolia in its effects. If time does in fact tend to be conceptualized differently in First Nations’ languages than in Standard American English and its European relations, wouldn’t history perhaps be viewed differently, too? Wouldn’t the nature of The Historical be conceptualize a little differently than in European languages? And if this is the case, then which way of conceptualizing history should be used when examining The Historical realities of the First Nations?
The standard academic response to this would of course be to use the European model; but I am not convinced this would be the proper philosophical approach — and I am certain this would not be an adequate response to questions demanded by a post-structural context of analysis. So let’s consider for a moment (in rough outline) how some of our other options might be assessed.
We know from the work Whorf did that Hopi tends toward the use of a cyclical temporal history. We can see how this might have stabilized linguistically, because we have seen how a circular grid pattern was used in the survey and mapping of First Nations territory, and how the differential variance of daily cycles throughout the year informed the functional aspect of a stone astrolabe used to determine the seasonal availability of food resources. From this, we could postulate that the variances of a cyclical temporal history might be one of oscillation, as exemplified both by the yearly variances of the sun’s height (and in the corresponding length of days) and the seasonal abundance of food resources.
When we look at how temporal oscillations in environmental conditions (such as animal populations) are described mathematically, we find that a very specific form of modeling is used: that of fractal geometry. Through an iterative application of equations that describe population dynamics, oscillations in stable equilibriums are seen that tie together the population levels of predators and prey; and this certainly sounds like something which the First Nations would have found worth noting.
Perhaps, then, we might actually gain some new insights by (necessarily) abandoning the standard archaeological survey of linear dates on a yearly scale for an anametric, anarchaeological approach that brings temporal cyclicity to the forefront and uses such a model as the primary conceptual paradigm for expressing the nature of the temporal. But, can we establish that we are working with fractal constructs in this? By definition, “the key property of a fractal is a degree of self-similarity across a range of spatial scales (or resolutions) of observation” (Uses and Abuses of Fractal Methodology in Ecology; Copyright 2004, Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS). We have noted that the core of self-similarity we are encountering, through consciousness-of-self, is simply the temporal considered in terms of immanence as it occurs across multiple instances of grouping: in anametric image writing; for an individual; within a collective consensus; and as events within the world at large. In this, we are working within the constraints of the Transcendental Empiricism favored by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari; but we are also pushing ourselves to conceptualize the matters we have at hand in ways we are unfamiliar with.
And so we might ask ourselves: What is fractal time? This is a topic too complex to go into with any depth here; and in any event, I have yet to come across any rigorous description of time, given in fractal terms, that is non-numeric or anametric in nature (and so would be consistent with Henri Bergson’s descriptive definitions). Fractal geometry is a relatively new area of inquiry and conceptual exploration; and for the moment, it seems to be characterized throughout by an entirely metrical concept of variance: that of difference in degree defined in terms of self-similarity across different scalar orders of magnitude.
What happens when Pure Immanence replaces self-similarity? What happens when differences in kind define immanence as the basis upon which events are distinguished, as grouping patterns? What happens when only differentials are encountered, instead of the identities that inform self-similarity? How else to describe the nature of time, other than as — anything, which always returns as something different? In truth, such a description is not hard to conceive; nor is it anything unrealized within the world we all inhabit. I can attest that such a description would certainly be possible; in fact, I have encountered situations in which anyone would find themselves directly confronted with that sense of immanence which fractal grouping patterns impart in theory.
Consider the existential example of navigating high alpine slopes: in such conditions, visible landmarks appear in differentially repeating patterns. There are very limited sets of objects that convey visual distinctions, and they are found in endlessly repeating groups of differential combinations: rocks, shrubs, exposed soil, clumps of grass and other plants can all be larger or smaller, and closer together or farther apart depending both upon the objects themselves and the relative position of the viewer. Any one specific position may appear as a singularly distinct constellation of grouped objects — from a specific viewpoint; but if one moves away from that exact position, in no time one is confounded with how that position’s particular arrangement of objects might otherwise appear — if grouped together, as if viewed from a different perspective. Even if one is looking at the same position, viewing it from a slightly different perspective is an experience virtually indistinguishable from encountering other, somewhat appropriate, grouping patterns of (self-)similar visual elements that approximate the location being sought — and so seemingly serve as that position's de facto visual proxy.
Such a situation of differential variance is also characterized by a limited field of view — because the ground is curved, and the visual horizon is truncated as the ground falls away behind itself. (This is probably why the inhabitants of New Guinea referenced earlier by Kensy Cooperrider and Rafael Núñez used a spatial metaphor of “upslope” for the future and “downslope” for the past; not because of the spatial relationship of relative elevation, but because of field of view: all can be seen downslope, while all but what is immediately in front is hidden upslope. Interestingly, this suggests that in this example we are not dealing with a spatial metaphor per say, but a conceptual equation that articulates upon direct perception). In determining the fractal structure of natural phenomenon, the limit of the visual horizon corresponds to the sampling techniques employed in establishing self-similarity across different scales of magnitude. It also corresponds to the processes that distinguish imaging consciousness from direct perception (which Sartre so thoroughly demonstrated) — by actively producing a limited range of characteristic image elements rather than the full range of perceptions found in any directly perceived scene.
Further, we find that the direct experience of such differential variance is directly analogous to iterative repetition — which in itself can be formative of fractal constructs. Thus, we might well expect that there could be a way to describe time in fractal terms without lapsing back into the use of a spatial metaphor derived from a scalar form of measured degree: that is to say, that there might well be a way to describe the temporal in fractal terms, but through differences in kind, without resorting to spatial metrics of measure by degree of difference.
Again, here we would need to let go of how we habitually interpret words — a major theme of Benjamin Lee Whorf — and move through the tentative steps of a tenacious survey, accepting that we do not yet know how a fractal temporality might appear; while at the same time, realizing we might well find what this is — if we freely look for something other than, what a past/present/future sense of time has always been for us. In this, we can at least see the inherently logical (or rather, contingent) flaw that renders the concept of multiple time lines in alternative multi-verses nonsensical: the assumption that the fractal nature of time is metrical — linear — rather than anametric. Alternate temporalities would have the same components, but in different combinations — with temporal dynamics manifesting through different positional embodiments (a concept very much in keeping with Hopi linguistic patterns, according to Whorf). Any multiplicity is always singular in its occurrence: but while saying this might not make any sense to us in reference to our immediate experience of the world at any given moment, this approach will definitely take us a long way toward understanding the event meta-narratives that are latent within and precipitate out from anametric image writing during the process of reading.
Whereas fractal space is defined by partial dimensions, the grouping patterns of anametric image writing are defined by partial objects — that is, image composites which have elements grouped together from different scales of magnitude: a spear point and a deer (as eyes) and a canoe (as a smiling mouth) all united as image elements composing the face of someone thinking about going hunting, for instance.
"Partial objects are the molecular functions of the unconscious...If it is true that every partial object emits a flow, it is also the case that this flow is associated with another partial object and defines the other's potential field of presence, which is itself multiple. The synthesis of connection of the partial objects is indirect, since one of the partial objects, in each point of its presence within the field, always breaks the flow that another object emits or produces relatively, itself ready to emit a flow that other partial objects will break." ,
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, "Anti-Oedipus,” pages 324-325.
Copyright 1972 by Les Editions de Minuit; English translation copyright 1977 by Viking Penguin Inc. .
If we wanted to give a name to this principle of immanence in its application to anametric grouping patterns, we might choose one like “entanglement”; but, I believe that term has already been taken (as have many others). Still, it is not misleading to think of this concept in such a way, even if it is being applied in a different context than we usually find it; which is to say, although the exoconsistency of the concept in its alternate applications exhibits variation, the endoconsistency of the component elements remains, well, consistent. Here, we end up by saying: temporal fractals exhibit entanglement across physical scales of imaging; and this will be expressed, within anametric image writing, through the formation of what might best be called… Poetics.
It is important to note, however, that such poetics are CONTINGENT; because, there is no necessarily determinate structural relationship between specific sets of endoconsistencies and the exoconsistencies they occur with, in the creation of a concept (a principle that lies to some extent unrecognized at the heart of post-structuralism). This observation becomes particularly interesting within the context of a system of mapping and survey that is based upon patterned ground: with shared reference points taken as pivotal between different points of view, and grouping patterns articulating upon shared image elements, we are already working with ranges of scale extending from the geographical down to the material — with landscapes depicted through whatever forms territorial relationships within them, and the events that ensue when this happens.
Different people in different places, although using the same system of survey and mapping and shared common points of reference, are still going to produce very different event maps of their territory — because "the map is not the territory" and because the events being mapped are not themselves determined by the mapping system: they are empirically contingent upon (to quote Bergson) "lines of differentiation that correspond to (its) differences in time... (it is) the virtual insofar as (it is) actualized, in the course being actualized, (it is) inseparable from the movement of (its) actualization." It is in the relationships that we see holding between such movements that we will find the poetic forming — as a Poetry of Events.
Food and Tools
Let’s shift our attention at this point to the distinctive constellation of marks that distinguished this little stone as such a singular piece of writing. Above the eyes of the primary face, arrayed as if feathers in a headdress, there is a collection of three distinct image areas clustered together.
Looking at the image areas that compose the three feather motif, we immediately noticed that all three image areas depict tools or weapons.
The first image area or “feather” depicts a spear point and a mountain goat.
The second image area or “feather” is of a microblade core.
The third image area or “feather” presents a solid granite ax.
Despite the paucity of information available regarding the lived realities of existential situations encountered during the last ice age (an issue we may well be able to remedy, to a very great extent, through an understanding of anametric image writing), there is a solid body of information available with reference to stone tools and weapons.
Some of this information comes to us from studies of the archaeological record; and some is from ethnographic research, by way of interviews with people who had actually used stone tools (or remembered people who had).
One such study, “Factors Influencing the Use of Stone Projectile Tips” by Christopher J. Ellis, is an inclusive overview of available research on the topic of stone tools. Several pertinent observations are presented in this work, and these can assist us in orienting our own analyses. Among the points established in this paper, we find:
Stone points were used on weapons because they are more effective for killing;
Stone points were used almost without exception for large game (over 40 kg in body weight);
Spears with stone points were better for long distance throws than non-stone tip spears.
In summary: “The major factor indicating effectiveness of stone is its almost exclusive ethnographic association with large game. In fact, this pattern is so strong that in prehistoric cases one can almost always assume that stone points were used in large animal hunting.”
This is all very useful information, and it is very helpful to us here in that the first image composite we encounter through the Three Feather motif is one of a spear point and a mountain goat. We can use the findings of this article to bolster our confidence that the spear point shown is in all probability meant to be interpreted as one made of stone. This is not an inconsequential observation, because the next two image areas in the Three Feather motif are definitively depicting tools made of stone: microblades flaked from an obsidian core, and a solid granite ax. Add to this the fact that the mouth and eyes of the Three Feather Chief’s face convey information articulated around a knife, and we begin to understand the essential role of the Three Feather Chief as a conceptual persona: that of a tool maker.
We can correlate this hypothesis with another instance of the Three Feather Chief motif, as found in anametric image writing on an entirely different stone. Here, we see the disembodied image of the Thee Feather Chief appearing to someone; and we also find numerous images that seem to depict events associated with the production of stone tools.
Pictured Below: In the image on the left, we see a person standing with a bird on their hand (with a much larger bird closer to the forefront). In the center image, on the (center) left we see the Three Feather Chief image appearing in front of a person (with their body seemingly depicted as a bird's head); on the (center) right, we see a person with stones in their hands and a bird's head appearing in front of them, leading them in a specific direction. In the image on the right, we see a person holding a large stone with both hands and the image of a volcano in front of them, to their left. Taken together, we have an interesting constellation of images depicting objects (tools), faces (The Three Feather Chief), and places (the volcano) — all of which unfold into a narrative about making obsidian arrowheads.
Considered alongside the flint knife which forms The Three Feather Chief’s mouth, the distinct image areas of the Three Feather motif present a material history of the technological advances developed, for the production of stone tools, by The Three Feather Chief’s people. Note something particularly interesting with reference to a Western European (academic) concept of The Historical: that there is a distinct tendency here to question whether we are looking at stages in the historical development of stone tool technologies, or, at the steps in the individual apprenticeship of someone who is learning to create stone tools. Yet what is of greatest interest to us is not whether one or the other option is the correct one, but rather, that this question should even arise in the first place. We know from Whorf, with reference to temporal circularity in First Nations languages (specifically, Hopi) that:
“A characteristic of Hopi behavior is the emphasis on preparation. This includes announcing and getting ready for events well beforehand, elaborate precautions to insure persistence of desired conditions, and stress on good will as the prepare of right results. Consider the analogies of the day-counting pattern alone. Time is mainly reckoned “by day” or “by night,” which words are not nouns but tensors, the first formed on a root “light, day,” the second on a root “sleep.” The count is by ORDINALS. This is not the pattern of counting a number of different men or things, even though they appear successively, for, even then, they COULD gather into an assemblage. It is the pattern of counting successive reappearances of the SAME man or thing, incapable of forming an assemblage. The analogy is not to behave about day-cyclicity as to several men (“several days”), which is what we tend to do, but to behave as to the successes visits of the SAME MAN. One does not alter several men by working upon just one, but one can prepare and so alter the later visits of the same man by working to affect the visit he is making now.”
Benjamin Lee Whorf:
The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language;
Pg. 146 in “Language Thought & Reality.”
It would seem, then, that it would make perfect sense in at least one First Nations language to say that “the same” conceptual persona returns throughout time, in each instance of an apprenticeship to stone tool making; and that this constitutes the nature of historical development: not a single timeline of linear development, but a cyclical recurrence of embodied knowledge being cultivated and established anew — that in each iteration is again the history of technological progress, repeated. This makes perfect sense if one considers that each tool maker will in turn instruct subsequent generations: in reality, how one person learns now affects how all others learn subsequently.
This is certainly not the point of view taken up by archaeology within the Western European tradition (where we might instead expect to see references being made to “linear progression” or “static development”); nor is it an interpretation that would be preferred, given a linguistic context of Standard American English: but it may well be yet another example of how we stand to gain more than we lose by abandoning standard archaeological approaches in favor of those that are most consistent with the conceptual structures displayed within anametric image writing, when we are considering any historical perspectives for the First Nations.
With this in mind, we should take another cue here from the above quote by Whorf; that is, we should shift our focus in our ongoing analysis of anametric image writing away from simple image identification and toward “the ordinal”. Now of course, we have encountered aspects of “the ordinal” before:
"The conceptual persona and the plane of immanence presuppose each other. Sometimes the persona seems to precede the plane, sometimes to come after it - that is, it appears twice; it intervenes twice. On the one hand, it plunges into the chaos from which it extracts the determinations with which it produces the diagrammatic features of a plane of immanence: it is as if it seizes a handful of dice from chance-chaos so as to throw them on a table. On the other hand, the persona establishes a correspondence between each throw of the dice and the intensive features of a concept that will occupy this or that region of the table, as if the table were split according to combinations. Thus, the conceptual persona with its personalized features intervenes between chaos and the diagrammatic features of the plane of immanence and also between the plane and the intensive features of the concepts that happen to populate it: Igitur. Conceptual personae constitute points of view according to which each plane finds itself filled with concepts of the same group. Every thought is a Fiat, expressing a throw of the dice: constructivism. But this is a very complex game, because throwing involves infinite movements that are reversible and folded within each other, so that the consequences can only be produced at infinite speed by creating finite forms corresponding to the intensive ordinates of these movements: every concept is a combination that did not exist before. Concepts are not deduced from the plane. The conceptual persona is needed to create concepts on the plane, just as the plane itself needs to be laid out. But these two operations do not merge in the persona, which itself appears as a distinct operator.
These are innumerable planes, each with a variable curve, and they group together or separate themselves according to the points of view constituted by personae."
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, "What Is Philosophy?";
Columbia University Press, New York, 1994; pages 75-76.”
In post-structural philosophy, and to paraphrase Deleuze and Guattari, “intensive ordinates designate inseparable components condensed in the concept as absolute survey (variations).” In other words, the intensive ordinates we will be looking for in examining diagrammatic features will be differential variances that empirically can only occur together — for instance, such as day and night, as referenced by Whorf in the quote above.
And as pointed out earlier with regard to the relationships holding between endoconsistency and exoconsistency: the only necessary connectivity between diagrammatic features and intensive ordinates will be found in contingencies of the real, as occurring in empirically determined, existential differences in kind actually evident for those things depicted.
The Spear Point and Mountain Goat
Before we begin to tease out intensive ordinates from this composite image area, I’d like to point out something in passing. Although the spear point is pretty clearly such at normal viewing distances, upon enlargement this image begins to resemble less and less what is classically seen as a spear point’s shape. In fact, upon enlargement, this image looks more like a distorted rectangle — a parallelogram — than a tapering point. I have seen a conceptually similar approach to the production of spear points before, though: I have a rather beautiful stone that is a very large “template” or “reference model” for the production of spear points. It is made out of granite and was never intended to function as a spear point; but it has a very specific quality to it: the actual flattened “point” end has been sculpted in rotation from the “base” end, where a stone point would be mounted into a spear shaft. It’s actually a pretty incredible piece of work, with the twist itself being a geometric translation of dimensionality for the spear point (from flat end to cubic base) — designed to transfer upon impact the rotational force, of a thrown spear that is spinning, through the stone spear point and into the shaft without the stone point breaking.
The whole point of the particular configuration depicted in the spear point of the First Feather can be summed through reference to a constellation of observations made by Christopher J. Ellis in “Factors Influencing the Use of Stone Projectile Tips”:
Most stone points do not survive beyond a single use;
Time spent in producing stone tips and re-hafting them on shafts is a major factor in the efficiency of their use (explaining why blunter slates outperform sharper flints);
Stone points were used primarily on throwing weapons; but thrusting weapons that did have stone points, which might break on first use rendering the weapon useless for repeated thrusts, tended to use more durable types of stone (such as slate).
If you look closely at the oddly rectangular spear point in the position of “First Feather” in the “Three Feather” motif, you will notice that this spear point has a series of parallel lines running the length of the point, but, offset from the axis of the point that runs to the shaft of the spear.
It was expected that this spear point would break when used; but, this spear point was designed to break in a way which left it still usable. It appears that this particular point could be broken twice, and still remain effective as a hunting weapon without the need for re-hafting a new point on the spear — an innovation that speaks to a recurring theme we will encounter: How to mitigate the breakage of tools during use, when the technologies they are produced with demand that they must be constructed from friable materials? This is a question posed, to each new apprentice in the art of making stone tools, by the materials they must use; and in that each generation might find new answers, we can see here that “circular time” — in which the same conceptual persona returns — is far from static: it is in fact a spiral that stands to constantly advance technological prowess through the generations — much as anametric image writing itself evolved differently in different geographical bioregions throughout North America.
With that pertinent observation in place, let’s return now to our attempt to find the intensive ordinates attending the diagrammatic features composing the “Three Feather” motif. We can begin by noting the mountain goat and the spear point are shown as being approximately the same relative size; and we know that this is not in reality the case, so, we will take this as being indicative of some other relational aspect inherent in the conceptual composite of this image assemblage. We can intuit that the spear point is meant to be thrown at the mountain goat — this would seem to be indicated by their relative positions. We can infer that the mountain goat will no doubt leap at some point — that’s something mountain goats characteristically do, and this one is shown in the act of leaping, with its front legs raised from the ground.
We might thus conclude that the relative size of the spear point and mountain goat, taken as contextual for the dynamics of the spear’s throw and the mountain goat’s leap, indicates the optimal moment at which to throw the spear: as the mountain goat begins to leap, and in becoming airborne cannot change its speed or direction. This is when the mountain goat will invariably land where it is headed — it can do nothing else — and so, this is when an accurate throw of the spear is most likely to hit the mountain goat. If the mountain goat leaps just after or as the spear is thrown, the hunt may well be unsuccessful. Timing would be everything.
What we have here is a fairly complex concept, recomposed from diagrammatic features through an assessment of intensive ordinates — a conceptual composite that is in itself an event. From the equal weighting given by size to the mountain goat and the spear point, the positional relation of both image elements, and the actual dynamics of the images depicted, we can recompose the dynamics of the event this image assemblage is meant to convey.
So, very good: we have found how to compose a concept from diagrammatic features by attending to intensive ordinates; but, what are we actually doing here?
"The plane of immanence is like a section of chaos and acts like a sieve. In fact, chaos is characterized less by the absence of determinations than by the infinite speed with which they take shape and vanish. This is not a movement from one determination to the other but, on the contrary, the impossibility of a connection between them, since one does not appear without the other having already disappeared, and one appears as disappearance when the other disappears as outline. Chaos is not an inert or stationary state, nor is it a chance mixture. Chaos makes chaotic and undoes every consistency in the infinite. The problem of philosophy is to acquire a consistency without losing the infinite into which thought plunges (in this respect chaos has as much a mental as a physical existence). To give consistency without losing anything of the infinite is very different from the problem of science, which seeks to provide chaos with reference points, on condition of renouncing infinite movements and speeds and of carrying out a limitation of speed first of all. Light, or the relative horizon, is primary in science. Philosophy, on the other hand, proceeds by presupposing or by instituting the plane of immanence: it is the plane's variable curves that retain the infinite movements that turn back on themselves in incessant exchange, but which also continually free other movements which are retained. The concepts can then mark out the intensive ordinates of these infinite movements, as movements which are themselves finite which form, at infinite speed, variable contours inscribed on the plane. By making a section of chaos, the plane of immanence requires a creation of concepts."
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, "What Is Philosophy?";
Columbia University Press, New York, 1994; page 42.”
“To give consistency without losing anything of the infinite” — what is that? Well, it is something we have been talking about all along: how do we approach anametric image writing on its own grounds, as that which it is in itself, without imposing upon it preconceptions drawn from what we might expect to find? It is not a small problem, as witnessed by the fact that we have been encountering it in so many guises throughout our inquiry into the nature of anametric image writing. Here, Deleuze and Guattari suggest an approach developed from a position as devoid of preconceptions as they can manage: from a position of absolute chaos, we can strive to find consistencies without limiting our future interpretive prospects; that is to say, without abandoning a sense of the infinite in that which we subsequently encounter.
We can already see in this some of what we have been doing: defining sections of chaos in determining image elements and areas; describing immanences encountered in the course of surveying these sections of chaos, and their actual consistency of occurrence; taking of the finite nature these consistencies embody what remains of the infinite as intensive ordinates; and seeing in this how such singularities of occurrence form the horizons of event where concepts stabilize.
All of which sounds rather nebulous, as philosophy often does — until one happens upon instances where such descriptions actually apply. For instance, take the statement: “In fact, chaos is characterized less by the absence of determinations than by the infinite speed with which they take shape and vanish.” Whether or not this is or isn’t the case in general seems rather indeterminate; whatever could this be talking about, and who would ever see it happening? But we’ve been seeing this happen all along, and we will see more and more of it as we go — in the variable grouping patterns that form in anametric image writing, where each one disappears as yet another is realized, and often with some of the same image elements being included in the new arrangement — an articulation through which each variable grouping turns back onto or is implicated in (entangled with) subsequent new patterns of grouping in “infinite movements that turn back on themselves in incessant exchange.”
We can also see directly something of the “infinite speeds” that characterize these “finite forms”: in the leap of the mountain goat and the throw of the spear — and more particularly, where these later land, as an intensive ordinate.
To continue: between the spear point and mountain goat we find something new; we find that both of these singular image elements express an active vectoring of a kind we haven’t paused to consider in our analysis of anametric image writing before: here, we are specifically dealing with intensive ordinates — with distinct durations that have a specific temporal dynamic. Do we see a spatial metaphor at play here, that presents a temporal sequence to us? I would have to say, no — what we are seeing is a duration, as event, which is being contextualized through a relative proportionality: in other words, we are seeing a difference in degree (between the relative sizes of the spear point and the mountain goat) grounding the expression of a temporal dynamic. Note that this is consistent with Henri Bergson’s contention that we are always dealing in experience with composites of time and space; and with our earlier hypothesis that a system of survey and mapping should be able to serve as the grammatological underpinning for anametric image writing. In this, we are beginning to see how immanence as a composite will tend to appear through relationships holding between differences of degree and differences of kind.
Similarly, we have also hypothesized that a whole range of metrical differences in degree could serve to help section the prephilosophical plane and localize immanence, allowing consistencies to emerge; and here, we are beginning to see how this can work in the production of increasingly complex conceptual structures — without the intervention of any ancillary use, for structural purposes, of phonetic speech patterns of signification. We can see what is happening in these image composites, and we can then explain the concepts being composed therein — in any language.
Let’s stay with this conceptual composite a while longer, to see what else we can learn — about durations, intensive ordinates, and events. We know that intensive ordinates, as differentials, are composed of inseparable elements. In the example before us, we can see that in the throw of a spear there is a point of release and a terminal point of end contact; in between, there is the arc of the spear’s trajectory. Similarly, the mountain goat’s leap is bracketed by the point at which it becomes airborne, and the point when it lands. In between, there is again the arc of a trajectory — a duration marked by a very distinct beginning and end. Note also what Bergson said about the temporal dividing up through differences in kind: this specific duration, as event, does not have the temporal structure of a past / present / future: it divides between being either a meal, or, a broken spear point.
What can we say about this division in kind, as an event? Well clearly, the issue of “timing” is critical here; so we can say that the success of the hunt is contingent upon an articulation between the arc of the mountain goat’s leap and the arc of the spear’s throw. There is something almost poetic in this; but if it isn’t poetic yet — if we have yet to see the “infinite speeds” of connectivity that arc and jump through poetry — that is only because we would need to find additional similar examples before we would be in a position to posit that certain sense of poiesis, which Wikipedia defines as:
Poïesis (Ancient Greek: ποίησις) is etymologically derived from the ancient Greek term ποιέω, which means "to make". This word, the root of our modern "poetry", was first a verb, an action that transforms and continues the world. Neither technical production nor creation in the romantic sense, poïetic work reconciles thought with matter and time, and person with the world.
Certainly, we are looking here at thought’s reconciliation with matter and time; but how are we seeing a person reconciled with the world? To begin with, we know we are dealing with a conceptual persona here; and that these personae intervene twice, in laying out the prephilosophical plane and in constructing concepts. To that end, we have already examined how the diagrammatic features of these particular image elements are related to intensive ordinates, so, we are left with just one aspect to examine: that of the prephilosophic plane. Where, then, are we to place immanence in this composite assemblage of image elements?
In the face of the chaotic — that is, in the contingent nature of the empirically real — we see just one distinct conceptual point in this image assemblage where infinite speed folds back upon itself as consistency: in a precise moment when both the mountain goat jumps and the spear is thrown. This moment is itself immanence, in that it is never actually realized: timing is everything, but, the exact moment of a successful throw is a singular point along the contour of immanence that brings together the leap of the mountain goat and the throw of the spear. Is that moment getting closer; has it jumped to another point; is it gone altogether? Is it still there with a harder throw, or a quieter approach? Leibniz might tell us this moment does not exist as such: it is in fact a relationship of differentials; of the minute perception that singularizes for the mountain goat an apperceptive choice to jump, and, the minute perception that singularizes for the hunter an apperceptive choice to throw. It is these differentials which, in folding back upon themselves, define the curvatures that mark out the prephilosophic plane laid out by the conceptual persona of the Three Feather Chief — who created the conceptual assemblage of these diagrammatic features to produces the intensive ordinates we still see today, probably tens of thousands of years later, and can still use to generate conceptual structures as intended.
We will encounter this manner of relationship between singular differentials again and again in our analysis of the Three Feather motif; and in this, we will come to see how the poetics of anametric image writing unfold.
The Obsidian Microblade Core
The second image area or “feather” in the Three Feather Chief motif depicts an obsidian microblade core; consequently, the second paper I will reference here deals specifically with the historical development of microblade technologies.
In “Rethinking the Origin of Microblade Technology: A Chronological and Ecological Perspective,” the authors present a convincingly documented argument that microblade technology probably arose in Northern Siberia over 30,000 years ago. This date is significant, because: 1) it corresponds to the period of time just before genetic analysis indicates a separation occurred between populations in Asia and North America; and, 2) it corresponds to best estimates for the start of a developmental isolation from Asiatic cultures for the languages used by the First Nations in North America. Although the exact point of origin for microblade technologies remains unclear, the authors advance evidence that a more northern location would be the most probable:
“Along with the discoveries of more and more microblade sites in the last few decades in North China, there has been much discussion of its relationships to other technologies, as well as its typology, morphology, and technological process, but the origin of microblade technology is still unclear.”
“In this paper, we argue that 1) it is logical to presume that the birth place of the microblade technology was high-latitude Siberia rather than North China, and its origin should be traced back to the early Upper Paleolithic, 2) microblade technology satisfied the technological demands of highly mobile hunter-gatherers, in particular by showing great advantages not only in hunting but also in processing resources to enable them to survive the long cold winters. These advantages consequently encouraged the spread of this technology throughout Siberia, Mongolia, the Japanese archipelago, Korean Peninsula, North China and North America during the last glacial.”
“The distribution of microblade technology was strongly associated with high latitudes, which suggests that microblade technology was a perfect solution to problems of provisioning through long, harsh winters when resources were less abundant and more difficult to access, and when failure to procure sufficient resources had fatal consequences (Elston and Brantingham, 2002). Failure to procure sufficient food resources has fatal consequences in long, harsh winters, as well as making weather-proof clothing. As a risk-minimizing strategy of large-game hunters and effective instruments in making sophisticated clothes from skins and furs and processing plant fibres for sewing in northern Asia, microlithic technology was a great response to solve these problems (Torrence, 1983; Bamforth and Bleed, 1997; Yi et al., 2014).
“According to chronological data and the ecological change during the last glacial, we would like to present a scenario in this way: Foragers in Siberia accumulated enough skills for microblade production with the employment of the blade technology. They adopted a higher mobility for adapting cold weather of the last glacial at high-latitude Siberia during the early Upper Paleolithic. The original microblade technology exhibited its advantages in this process, which made it rapidly spread throughout North Asia during LGM with human migration and cultural transmission. On the one hand, foragers' mobility intensified because of the harsh environment, and resulted the wide spread of microblade technology. On the other hand, the new technology was a technical support for hunter-gatherers moving more feasible in cold environment. The invention of microblade technology might be incidental: however, it is reasonable to conclude that its transmission was in virtue of the cold, harsh climate.”
Rethinking the origin of microblade technology: A chronological and ecological perspective.
Mingjie Yi: School of History, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China; Xing Gao, Feng Li, Fuyou Chen: Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China”.
If the occurrence of animals now long extinct gives us an upper limit in determining a point of origin for anametric image writing, the image of a microblade core in the Three Feather Chief motif at least tentatively establishes an oldest date, before which it would not have been in use; and taken together, this brackets the developmental history of anametric image writing quite nicely. Suddenly, several different threads connecting a variety of observations we’ve already made are being brought together, centered around microblades. We have a strong indication that microblade technology arose in Siberia over 30,000 years ago — just before the genetic split occurred between Asian and North American populations. We are told that microblade technology spread very quickly throughout northern latitudes. We see that microblade technology was particularly well suited for survival strategies during the extreme climatic conditions of the last glacial peak. We find that the raw materials for making microblades were scare (in China, at least) and difficult to obtain; and we also see that the earliest examples of image production in North America included depictions of active volcanos — the source for obsidian, a type of volcanic glass particularly well suited for the manufacture of microblades. We also noted that the images of volcanos and mountains found in the earliest examples of image production from North America seem to have come from a time before the peak of the last major period of glaciation.
More consistencies with our ongoing hypotheses regarding anametric image writing become apparent here: we find that microblade technology was exceptionally practical for nomadic populations hunting hard-to-locate food resources — prey animals that were constantly on the move, too (which, interestingly enough, in effect again describes a relationship of differentials). Unlike wandering herds of animals, volcanos do not move — and so they provide a very stable base for reference in any system of survey and mapping (as well as a location for cyclical return). In addition, it is noted in the above referenced paper that:
Although microlithic technology called for twice the cost in time compared to bifaces, it can provide nearly seven times the cutting edges with the same cost in raw materials (Flenniken, 1987; Elston and Brangtingham, 2002). The design of the lithic toolkit has important significance in mobile hunter-gatherer adaptations (Kelly, 1983, 1992; Kuhn, 1994). The primary factor determining situational decisions is the risk accompanying tools' failure. Bleed (1986) suggested that “maintainability is the optimal design alternative for systems that are needed on unpredictable schedules”. As Table 4 indicates, microlithic composite tools combine both strong and lethal features of organic and flaked stone points that are reliable for hunting success. Reliability is also implemental for processing, because the sharp edges of the curated tools are more controllable for handling details. Although some parts of microlithic composite tools are easy damaged, such as if a microblade is brittle in cold weather and snaps, it is easy to replace with another microblade (Pg. 8).
We noted earlier that the failure rate of stone tool points was a dominant factor determining their uses; and that the image of the spear point we examined seems to indicate one strategy for dealing with this (in designing tools that break in a predictably useful way). The introduction of microblade technologies took the design response to the problem of tool failure one step farther — more than a few steps farther, actually, if indeed the invention of microblade technology was the essential first step which led nomadic peoples in Northern Siberia into North America; and in this, we see a number of important points which demand consideration. It seems that surviving under ice age conditions demands extreme mobility — and mobility is one of the salient factors cited as responsible for the invention of writing in the Middle East. In addition to and apart from the factor of mobility arising as a response to a scarcity of food resources (and their wide, uneven distribution), the limited availability of suitable stone resources is also a factor here: in a few select locations, there was a surplus of available stone; while in most locations, optimum quality stone would be lacking — again, a situation comparable to that of the trade surpluses cited as contributing to the invention of writing in the Middle East.
There is in this, however, an inconsistency that needs to be addressed with reference to the hypothesis that the First Nations remained bottled up on the Beringia Land Bridge for 15,000 years after leaving Asia, but before arriving in North America. Of the Beringia Land Bridge, Wikipedia notes:
“A reconstruction of the sea-level history of the region indicated that a seaway existed from 135,000-70,000 YBP, a land bridge from 70,000-60,000 YBP, intermittent connection from 60,000-30,000 YBP, a land bridge from 30,000-11,000 YBP, followed by a Holocene sea-level rise that reopened the strait.”
Clearly, there has historically been a high degree of connectivity between Asia and North America through a land bridge across the Bering Sea — a fact witnessed by the trans-migration of species such as lions, cheetah, and horses (not to mention, apparently, at least one undocumented species of hominid) between Eurasia and North America. Setting aside the equally probable earlier dates preceding the period of population separation that ensued 30,000 years ago, and without also considering the possibility of transmigration back and forth between Asia and North America, it makes absolutely no sense that nomadic peoples empowered in their ability to survive in Arctic conditions by the invention of microblade technologies would remain immobile upon a Bering Land Bridge for 15,000 years — where no sources of suitable stone were readily available — when it would have been abundantly apparent that sure sources of suitable stone were available on the North American side of the land bridge. Of this, there would be no question: erupting volcanos in the mountains of North America would have been clearly visible from the Bering Land Bridge, both by day as plumes of smoke and vapor and by night as the distance glow of any volcano’s fiery display.
If the invention of microblade technologies allowed nomadic peoples to move onto and survive within the territory of the Bering Land Bridge, then the need for suitable stone resources would have drawn them onward to North America — with or without the use of suitable watercraft, which they apparently possessed.
Let’s have a look the microblade core depicted in the Three Feather Chief motif, to see what we can learn about this technology. Starting from the previous image area, we can observe that mountain goats are found in the mountains — a fact of the nature that philosophers call “a given”. However, not all mountains are just mountains; sometimes, mountains are also volcanos. We noted earlier that depictions of volcanos are often presented in very early examples of image production by the First Nations in North America. Now, we have seen why this might be so: volcanos are a source of the volcanic glass obsidian, a favored source material for the production of microblades. Given what we have learned about the origins of microblade technology, it does stand to reason that the First Peoples to arrive in North America would be looking for volcanos as a source for the stone resources they needed to produce microblades.
As noted in “Rethinking the Origin of Microblade Technology: A Chronological and Ecological Perspective,” and as quoted below, the peak development of this technology was a technique know as “pressure flaking”, whereby the application of pressure at the edge of a microblade core causes a small flake to detach from the core. These flakes are of uniform size, as determined by the skill of the person producing them and the uniform size of the core. A specific kind of tool is used for producing the flakes: optimally, a sharp, hard object that is easily held and which has a certain degree of resilience is ideal. The horns of animals — such as deer or, mountain goats — are perfect for this; not only due to the ease with which they can be held and the sharply defined points they bear, but also because their spring-like give allows pressure to be incrementally applied and at the same time maintained at the edge of the microblade core.
“Although the products by direct-soft-hammer are not as standard as those produced by pressure flaking, the form and size of the products are alike and can roughly serve in the same way. Since the development of lithic technology was a gradual process, direct-soft-hammer percussion might be involved in the initial stages of microblade technology, producing some less normal products between blade and microblade, and finally more pressure flaking would be applied for producing the standard microblade.
“As shown by the chronological data mentioned above, a tremendous transformation in lithic assemblages occurred in the late Pleistocene in North Asia that originated from Siberia. What was the mechanism by which microblade technology spread so rapidly and widely? Lying in high latitudes, hunter-gatherers living in Siberia faced abominable winter weather, and they adapted by developing a blade technology and later a microblade technology. Microblade technology then dispersed in Siberia and Mongolia during Last Glacial Maxima. Although there were indeed some early microlithic sites in North China, a microblade technology did not become common until Late Upper Paleolithic” (pg. 8).
Looking back at the image of the mountain goat, we can note that there is a distinct separation of an adjunct image element from the area of the goat’s head where the horn would be located; and turning to the image of the microblade core, we can see an area of white detail extending from the left into the black area depicting the body of the core — a detail that is shaped as the point of a deer’s horn. We might wonder for a moment why a deer’s horn is depicted, rather than that of a mountain goat; but either would work equally well for pressure flaking microblades from an obsidian core, and the image of a deer’s horn has another important attribute: it can be presented in a way that evokes the image of a stretching, reaching, straining tip of a mammoth’s prehensile trunk. This coincidence of formal shape conveys not only the tool used in flaking microblades, but the degree of pressure needed (in the heaviness of the mammoth) and the inclination of the tool toward the edge of the microblade core (as seen in the attitude of the prehensile tip of the mammoth’s trunk) in order to successfully separate microblades from their core.
A microblade flake can also be clearly seen as a separate white detail upon the black microblade core; but an inverse of this is also seen to the upper right of the core, as a black microblade shown leaping from the core, against the background white of the stone’s dominant matrix.
There are many other image elements apparent as diagrammatic features here; for instance, the overall shape of the microblade core is that of a person’s head, shown with their eyes tracking the course of the microblade’s escape from the core, in a direct line away from their nose. However, I wish to concentrate at this point upon the intensive ordinates inherent in these images, for these are the aspects of anametric image writing that most directly support the creation of the conceptual structures we are seeking.
So: in addition to the carry-over of the mountain goat’s horn between the first and second image areas or “feathers”, we can also note a continuity in the intensive ordinates invoked of either case. We noted the primary position of immanence in the first image area as that point where (and please excuse my use of spatial metaphor here for a temporal aspect, but, I am writing in English and am so constrained accordingly) the leap of the mountain goat and the throw of the spear approach each other (in a relationship between differentials); similarly, we see a deer horn and a mammoth’s prehensile trunk tip united (conceptually fused together) at the moment when a microblade leaps in being pressure flaked from an obsidian core. If there is any situation that justifies a description of “infinite speed,” it is that by which the property of jumping is retained in the horn of an mountain goat — only to emerge in being transference to a microblade flake sent leaping from an obsidian core! Here we can perhaps see a sense of the Hopi linguistic distinction for “becoming manifest”; but also for the Kantian distinction of “apparition” — the conditions under which phenomena appear. Why shouldn’t the property of “jumping”, as a temporal duration, manifest the conditions under which it appears? Indeed, there is a subtle shift here in the temporal dynamic that divides each difference in kind between each feather: in the first case, we have a leaping arc between both initial moments — of the spear’s throw and the mountain goat’s leap, and the final moment when either (or both) land; whereas in the second case, the defining moment of temporal division in kind is when the increasing pressure at the edge of the microblade core causes a single blade to detach and leap away from the core. It is as if the point of the mountain goat’s horn or the deer’s antler leads its leap — a dynamic if also manifests in the microblades that it pointedly sends leaping from an obsidian core.
It is interesting that this inversion, from a duration circumscribed by coincident moments to a duration marked in a moment of sudden change, is accompanied by a mirrored inversion of image — between the white microblade outline on the black background of the microblade core, and the black microblade show against a white background, detached and in flight away from the microblade core. And this inversion isn’t just inherent in instances of the microblade’s depiction: it also holds between the first and second “feathers”, between the horn as separated from the mountain goat and the horn as separating the microblade from its core. Indeed, in this transition from spear point to microblade, the technology of stone tool production itself underwent an inversion: from removing flakes from a stone to produce a tool, to using flakes removed from a stone AS tools themselves. We are in effect seeing here an underlying conceptual symmetry of sorts; or to be more specific, we are tracing the contours of conceptual effect produced from the differential repetition of a single concept, employed repeatedly as one underlying component inherent in a range of conceptual structures — something often referred to as a “philosopheme”, a conceptual element that is utilized in producing thought much as phonemes are used in producing speech or morphemes are used in producing written words.
Again, what we are encountering here is a certain sense of poetics that seems to strongly indicate we are tracing the surface contours of a linguistic construct; and the nature of this language seems to be entirely consistent with the kinds of temporal dynamics described by Whorf with reference to the spoken languages of the First Nations. Even though we do not have access to whatever language was being spoken well over 15,000 years ago by the people who used this particular example of anametric image writing, we still have very strong indications that this form of writing developed in association with a spoken language which bore distinctive characteristics still in evidence today within the languages currently spoken by First Nations members. This is an observation that is certainly consistent with what we would expect to find; and were we to not see this, we would have cause to pause and reconsider many aspects of our initial hypothesis regarding the existence and nature of anametric image writing. However, the immanences we are tracing do not appear to be at odds with documented observations regarding First Nations culture; so in this, we can proceed as we have and see where we might end up through this analytic approach.
Having noted some conceptual continuity between the first two image areas with reference to the expression of durations, let’s see if we can find anything similar forming in the context of immanence on the prephilosophic plane. Recall that in the first instance, this was noted with reference to a relationship holding between the animal being hunted and the tool used in the hunt. Can we find any evidence of a similar association within the second image area?
Well, yes and no: there is something shown as a head, distinguished from the microblade core by the white areas of detail that depict the horn tool and flaked microblade; and it is something which looks pretty nasty, with lots of teeth highlighted — but I have absolutely no idea what it is, and I have never seen anything like it. Apparently, though, it could be killed with a hit by a stone point on the neck just below the ear — probably a good thing to know, back when whatever that is was still around.
Whatever that particular case might have been, in stepping back a bit from the second image area and considering at the same time the third image area (or “feather”), we do find a recognizable outline of an easily identified animal: that of a fish, with the second image area (the microblade core) forming the body and the third image area (a solid granite ax head) forming the tail.
The white image details on the microblade core now become the mouth (from the horn tool) and the eye (from the flaked microblade) of the fish; and the shape of the fish’s body is a very characteristic one: that of a giant halibut (having worked at a shore processing plant in Vancouver, I’ve unloaded trailer truck loads of frozen giant halibut — that’s definitely one).
So to define this particular aspect of the prephilosophic plane laid out by the conceptual persona responsible for this example of image writing, we must define the nature of the immanence holding together obsidian microblades and giant halibut. Further, we must do so in such a way as to include solid granite axes in this conceptual assemblage. I wouldn’t call this “a tall order” — certainly, it isn’t as tall as the trees found on the Northwest Coast — but it is specific enough of a configuration that we should be able to tell fairly easily whether or not our analysis conforms to the contingencies of the real found in the area where this example of anametric image writing originates.
Let’s start with what we know: obsidian microblades. Up to a hundred times sharper than surgical steel, these small pieces of volcanic glass could be produced in a very uniform manner through the pressure flaking technique of microblade technology. Through the use of advanced skills, microblade producers could also create flakes of different lengths (using different sizes of cores, prepared specifically for one type of output or another). Certainly, very long and lethal tips could be created for spears; but smaller implements could be created for fine cutting as well. Any length of microblade could be hafted into a wooden shaft or handle; but, multiple, small microblades of the same size could also be set into the same handle to create a very effective saw.
The invention of microblade-studded saws suddenly made available an incredibly vast resource, in the form of wood from trees otherwise too large to be utilized without such technology. It may be that the “mystery animal” presented with the microblade core is there specifically in reference to the arrangement of its teeth, which might well show how microblades should be aligned and grouped together to make a saw.
Being able to utilize the immense trees that grow on the Northwest Coast would allow people there to build large seagoing canoes big enough for communal use — if they also had access to axes and adzes that were solid enough to withstand the stresses produced in hollowing out a massive tree trunk. Granite is certainly coherent enough for this kind of tool, but the integral nature of that very solidity makes flaking granite an impractical technique for creating granite tools. A different approach is needed: granite must be cut, using sandstone files and the same sawing motion used with microblade saws when cutting through wood.
In this progression, we see a constant attempt to answer an ongoing, pressing question facing paleolithic hunters: How can one compensate for the friable nature of the types of stone best suited for making tools? In the next section dealing with the historical development of anametric image writing, we will consider another option not examined here: that of sedimentary stone, such as slate, which can be shaped into a tool and them separated by the individual layers in the stone — to produce multiple copies of a tool from a single stone. For the moment, though, let’s concentrate upon the examples provided through the Three Feather motif; for here we see depicted a direct progression in technological advances, with each stage creating the conceptual conditions which enable the next development to be invented. The leaping motion of the “spear and deer” (or goat) assemblage leads to the innovative leap of microblade technologies; and the sawing movement used in utilizing microblades for working wood leads to the cutting movement of sandstone files used to create shaped granite axes and adzes. Together, these tool technologies enable the wood resources of the Coast to be brought to bear in harvesting the maritime resources offered by the ocean; so let’s circle back here and consider for a moment the how this particular “tool and food” immanence plays out upon the prephilosophic plane we are examining.
First, let’s note that giant halibut are a food resource well worth the effort to catch — the current record for an Alaskan halibut is over 500 pounds, and it took four men to bring in that one fish. When fishing for something that big, using a very large and stable canoe would probably be a good idea, too.
In the first instance of immanence we examined, there was an affinity between the temporal durations associated with both food source and tool use. We can see the same holds true here. The position from which the microblade is flaked from the obsidian core is also the position of the giant halibut’s mouth; and the sudden release of a microblade’s flaking is the inverse of the sudden force of a giant halibut taking a lure. At the same time, the sudden force needed to set the hook in the halibut’s mouth would be on a scale of that through which the microblade is flaked; and in both cases, a desired outcome — the difference in kind resulting when that event divides time — is obtained. Once again, we can see a relationship holding between the durational dynamics being presented — one that is necessarily conceptual in nature, and not one which would be brought to the forefront in an object-oriented language such as Standard American English.
There are other durational affinities to be found here, in addition to that between the sawing motions used to cut wood with microblade saws, and cut granite with sandstone files: similar oscillations are to be found in the jigging motion used to attract giant halibut to the bait and hook; the paddling motion used to drive a canoe; even the up-and-down swell and chop of the ocean’s waves. None of these durational affinities associate through measured degree on a scale of past / present / future: all are instead durations experienced almost as "event signatures" that distinguish one kind of thing from another; and, they also occur in bringing together immanences that trace the contours of a prephilosophic plane.
In this example of anametric image writing, these intensive ordinates are invoked in the creation of conceptual composites which convey how a specific people experienced their specific environment — along with the thoughts they formulated of their experiences. Of course, having so many different instances of the same basic durational type might make for confusing conversations; so perhaps distinctions between each specific durational instance might be introduced — such as Whorf noted with the Nuu-chah-nulth (whom he refers to as Nootka) and their language, as spoken on the Northwest Coast (on the open Pacific Ocean side of Vancouver Island).
Notice, though, that whatever nuances might be linguistically imparted to distinguish between individual instances in which such energy signatures occur, we are in effect descriptively dealing with self-similarity here; that is to say, we are in fact looking at conditions under which it might make sense to start thinking about how temporal fractals would actually appear within experience. As far as anametric image writing goes, we know that the partiality of image elements (relative to the image composites they are incorporated into) will necessarily be one factor defining how anything that might constitute a temporal fractal will occur conceptually. The limited (sectioned) nuances of consistency in event structures distinguish each self-similar occurrence of any energy dynamic as something that does not entirely exhaust the infinity of possible instances where it might be encountered. So, we have partiality and distinguishing nuance as limiting factors defining how temporal fractals might occur in anametric image writing; and that is to say, we have nuanced endoconsistencies and partialities of exoconsistency which singularize self-similar occurrences. Interestingly, if we transpose these factors into our earlier example of an alpine landscape, we can immediately see how any form of partiality — by specific plants for soil types or drainage patterns, for instance — coupled with distinguishing nuances (such as the visually apparent composition of rocks, for instance) will actually go a long way toward singularizing each and every distinct position within that differentially repetitious landscape. So, it is interesting to see how a conceptual distinction teased out from within anametric image writing can in fact turn out to be immediately useful in a real world application.
We might wonder for a moment how this would be so; and we might pass by this question as something unanswerable. But let’s stop for a moment and think about what we now know, to see what alignments between anametric image writing and the world around — from which it was formed, and in which it was applied — become apparent.
We examined the alpine landscapes noted above in terms of their fractal nature. We’ve already noted the partiality inherent in anametric image writing, embodied through the grouping patterns which compose image elements into distinctly identifiable image areas. So let’s ask, how does that partiality arise? Of course it comes from imaging consciousness; but, there must be something about the physical substrates used to produce anametric image writing which allow such partiality to be expressed. And of course, there is: with anametric image writing, we are always looking at depictions on a two dimensional surface that were created using three dimensional space. In effect, we are never really looking at images in two dimensions: we are looking at images displayed on a two dimensional surface that partially incorporate the depth of a third dimension. This fact underpins why different people can see different images when looking at the same image area — or the same person can see that same kind of variance if looking from different perspectives, and under shifting lighting conditions: in viewing anametric image writing, we are never simply seeing surface images, but are also always seeing some partiality contributed by different degrees of depth as well. This partiality is actualized in image outlines, through virtual surface effects contributed by shifting resolution thresholds imparted from the subsurface into the visual properties apparent of the stone (by way of opacity, for instance).
In this, we find an answer as to how a few simple insights gleaned from anametric image writing might serve to disambiguate the experience of traversing a fractal landscape: the approaches that mitigated ambiguity in an alpine environment were ones which were grounded in a depth of observation that partially exceeds any strictly perspectival relationships forming within two spatial dimensions and direct line-of-sight orientation. In effect, we were moving beyond relationships holding between a subject and surrounding objects, and instead started to survey the territoriality of an environment: we were looking at how singular aspects of the environment were connected directly to their specific occurrence within that environment.
Which is, of course, yet another meaning for (and aspect of) “partiality” — that of affinity, which plays a major role in the primary distinctions through which differences in kind are noted and determined.
The concept of partiality is central to our understanding of anametric image writing, and it appears in many instances. In addition to the partiality we’ve noted between tools and food sources, we must consider that gaining access to new food resources is always an act of territorialization — an idea which describes the linkages between conceptual personae and the world they inhabit, without resorting to descriptions based upon a distinction between subjects and objects. This is a fundamental methodological point we must adhere to: because we know that many First Nations languages do not use nouns to the same extent that verbal constructs are employed, and so any steps we can take to move away from the use of nouns (such as subjects and objects) will place us closer to where we need to be in order to more accurately trace the conceptual contours of anametric image writing.
So we can for instance say that, the intensive ordinates we have noted in the Three Feather motif characteristically deterritorialize from each image area and reterritorialize upon the next; but we can also see a shift in food resources occurring in each case, and so note that there is a deterritorialization from the mountains where goats are found and a reterritorialization onto maritime resources.
Something else very interesting is happening at the same time here: when we traced the intensive ordinates between the image areas in the Three Feather motif, we found a differential recurrence of signature profiles that were being repeated across different instances — from mountain goat to microblade flake, and from obsidian saw to sandstone file. In the form of the giant halibut, we find two very different intensive ordinates being united as differential yet immanent within the same singularity. The flaking and sawing activities associated with microblades are sharp and fast (as intensive ordinates), as are microblades in their use; those associated with a granite ax are hard (heavy) and slow (as is its production and use). What is particularly interesting here is the interpretive shift which occurs when the intensive ordinates of the microblade core and those of the granite ax are united as, respectively, the body and tail of the fish. Here we have differential intensive ordinates co-presented to express the immanent nature of an animal. We are seeing intensive ordinates being employed to define the characteristic difference in kind of an animal.
The fish’s mouth and body snaps and flashes when the fish bits: this part of the fish expresses intensive ordinates characteristic of the microblade core. The fish’s tail methodically moves back and forth with heavy force, or produces sudden, hard motions: this part of the fish expresses intensive ordinates characteristic of the granite ax. The difference between the waveform motion of a fish’s tail and its expressed transference into the fish’s body, is similar to the difference in the intensive ordinates characteristic of microblades and granite axes.
Similarly, fishing is a pastime characterized by a lot of slow, ponderous waiting (not to mention paddling) — leading to a sudden, intense burst of activity when the fish is caught.
In that fishing is for all intents and purposes (poetically, at least) being referenced through the intensive ordinates that characterize the fish itself, we are now dealing with an event horizon and meta-narrative defined in terms of the intensive ordinates of an animal, rather than those of a person. This marks yet another shift from what we noted earlier — that in transitioning from the diagrammatic features that made up the mouth, to those that make up the eyes of the Three Feather Chief, we moved from a general contextualization of events toward one of direct involvement. Here, instead of the reader’s relationship of understanding being defined with reference to that of the conceptual persona who produced this example of non-metrical image writing, we have yet another variation: the difference in kind that characterizes an animal — the giant halibut — is being used to convey the nature of a situation to the reader, through a compositional unification of intensive ordinates within a distinct singularity. The concept of a fish is being presented through intensive ordinates which characterize it, which in turn evoke the activity of fishing.
This conceptual arrangement seems to be very close to how we imagined a temporal fractal might appear.
An image area’s primary singularity, which had previously been employed to establish relationships between reader and writer (through, for instance, placing oneself in the position of the person throwing a spear at a mountain goat of flaking a microblade from an obsidian core), is now being used to define the inherent temporal characteristics of an animal’s difference in kind relative to the reader (and, of course, the writer as well). The animal’s difference in kind is being presented as an event horizon which defines characteristic durations through the intensive ordinates it naturally produces as its way of being in the world — which are in turn taken as descriptive of activities uniting people with that animal in the world.
Once again we see diagrammatic features displaying intensive ordinates through immanence, and processes of territorialization being laid out in such a way as to allow the formation of conceptual personae here; but we are seeing this happen through the characteristic durational dynamics of animals, not of people (the latter being the “good example” that Henri Bergson had considered). There are a lot of major implications that can be draw from this observation, but for now consider just this one: animals do not talk.
However, that does not prevent them from participating in and contributing to the conceptual formations that occur in anametric image writing.
Perhaps, in using a form of image writing which is not dependent upon symbolic representations that stand in the place of phonetic vocalizations, once again we are actually gaining significantly more than we are losing; because now the prephilosophic plane upon which concepts are formed can be contoured with immanences drawn from a multitude of differences in kind — which will radically diversify the territorializations expressed thereupon, and therefore increase the conceptual complexity capable of being supported therein beyond measure — literally, by definition.
What we stand to see revealed here is a poetics that does so much more than “reconcile a person with the world”: what we can have instead is a poetics that reconciles the world with itself. We have crossed an interpretive threshold to find that animals can define the event horizons of which people become a part — just as surely as people can define the event horizons that circumscribe animals.
People are not the only singularities that produce event horizons in the world; people are not the necessary center of everything that happens within the world; and, people are not alone in defining territories upon the earth. In other words, we are finding that immanences are of the world, not that the world is an immanence of being human. Now, that's REALLY geophilosophy!
Indeed, this all but limitless proliferation of contours upon the prephilosophic plane of immanence suggests a very interesting proposition: that, far from being a structural element somehow incorporated within anametric image writing, the principle of fractal temporality is in fact an emergent property of anametric image writing: it is something anametric image writing brings into being by its very nature — or at the very least, makes apparent OF nature. If this is the case, then there might be some grounds for suspecting that anametric image writing informed to some extent the grammatological structure of the First Nations’ spoken languages — rather than more or less exclusively the other way around, as is the case with the phonetic writing systems used to represent spoken languages of European extraction.
You might be surprised at how far this stage of non-metrical image writing was developed; it produced some very interesting forms of narrative composition. Let's return to the granite ax that is the tail of the fish; let's see if any of the interesting developments we've just noted in relation to anametric image writing can be found here.
The Granite Ax
Our granite ax isn't a particularly complex object; but like the spear point (with its parallel lines of breakage) and the microblade core (with the pressure tool and the flaked microblade), it does have a distinctive diagrammatic feature that is internal to its image area. We can take note of the place where the handle attaches to the ax, which is clearly indicated; and so, we know in which direction the ax is pointing.
Knowing now that anametric image writing compositionally forms grouping patterns of image elements, and moving in the direction the ax is pointing, we immediately come to another image area: — which appears to be that of a large feline. Indeed, the granite ax we started with is itself also the head of a large cat; but it is difficult to say exactly what species we are dealing with, because of the emphasis that is placed upon the incisors in each image. They are evident as etched in outline when the granite ax is taken as a big cat's head; they are obvious as white details shown prominently protruding from the mouth of the second big cat; and if we follow the second cat's line of sight, we find a third large cat, sitting in repose, looking toward the first cat-as-granite ax — with prominent incisors again shown as white details.
It is tempting to identify these large predators as saber toothed cats; but, their incisors are not at all long enough and simply do not compare with other images, which are definitely of that species. Similarly, any inclination toward calling these large cats North American lions is undermined by the fact that their incisors are actually a little TOO prominent when compared to other images of that species. However, there were numerous species of large cat prior to the end of the last glacial age — some of which had incisors of a length somewhere between the saber tooth cat and the North American lion. Perhaps these images are of a minor that species I am not familiar with, of which few intact skeletal remains have been found.
Whatever species of big cat these three might be members of, it seems apparent that they were social. In that they are shown as following each other's lead, it seems reasonable to assume that they would at the least hunt together when the opportunity or need arose — even if they each tended to range individually. And we've seen this kind of positional interrelationship before — postulated as holding between separate locations for Medicine Wheels used in the survey and mapping of territory. Taken together with the circular pattern of marks upon the top of the Three Feather Chief stone, and the indications of increasing social complexity and organization conveyed through the progression of stone tool technologies depicted in the Three Feather motif, it seems reasonable to conclude that the cultures of the First Nations on the Northwest Coast had grown far beyond that of small bands of simple, nomadic hunter-gathers by at least 10,000 years ago.
One might suspect that, taken together, the images of these three large cats would form a composite face (such as that of the Three Feather Chief). And indeed they do — but it is not the face of a large cat. Instead, these three big cats, as image elements, compose the face of — a bear.
This shift in species type might have seemed to present a bit of a conundrum to our ongoing interpretive efforts, had we not by this point become accustomed to the fact that no image elements have any single identity in anametric image writing. Instead, we have seen time and again how finding shifts between differences in kind will allow us to gain insights into the ideas being conveyed through anametric image writing — and this example is no exception.
Let's start by taking the third big cat — the one shown in repose — and rotating the image composites we are viewing around that area. We immediately see that this image area quite definitively becomes the nose of a very alert bear — one intent upon something that is in the general direction of the viewer. The bear's two eyes, above and equidistant on either side of its nose, are nicely detailed with white highlights reflecting from the center of each eye's black image area. And although a bear's nose is larger than its eyes, in this case the disproportionality seems somewhat pronounced — as if the bear's tendency to rely upon its sense of smell over its eyesight is being highlighted, perhaps implying that the bear is still at a distance.
We don't need to guess the bear is smelling — it smells the giant halibut. Indeed, a slight shift of the grouping pattern for these image elements reveals that the bear's nose articulates into an eye for a new composition of facial features — with the second big cat becoming the other eye, and the granite ax becoming the mouth.
The bear, smelling the giant halibut, has suddenly grabbed it by the tail!
This is indeed an interesting turn of events: the shift in the grouping pattern for these image elements has just shown us exactly the same sense of immanence we experience directly of our own consciousness! The image of this bear, in being articulated across two instances by a shared image element, is "varying from itself with being other than itself": in other words, we are being shown the immanent nature of this bear as a distinct species, as a difference in kind that is discernible only within time — and that also means, only through memory.
There are in fact a number of things that readers of this specific example of anametric image writing are being told to remember — not the least of which is that bears will try and take a catch of giant halibut if they have a chance to do so. Ongoing vigilance against such marauding bears is a prudent course of action — a point emphasized by the way the large cats keep sight of each other, acting in concert; but if a bear should attack, there is one course of action that is recommended here: to bash its nose with a large rock, such as a granite ax.
Let's return to the giant halibut, and its granite ax tail, to see what intensive ordinates we can find associated with the diagrammatic features of the bear's face.
The intensive ordinates associated with the granite ax that seem to be most applicable to the nose/mouth of the bear are those related to the sawing motion used to cut the ax from a larger piece of granite (found in the back-and-forth motion of the bear's nostrils when it is 'sniffing' at something), and related to the action of flaking the area where the ax handle is attached (a hard, sharply forceful motion akin to a bear biting). Both of these intensive ordinates are heavy, solid, certain, regular, and direct...like the determined, ambling motion of a bear which smells fish. Noting that the bear's nose/mouth, the granite ax, and the fish's tail are all expressed by the same singularity, we can suggest the concept being expressed here: it is, simply, 'grabbing the tail' — an important part of fishing successfully for giant halibut. In order to land such a fish by bringing it into the canoe, you need someone who is 'as big (and strong) as a bear' to grab the giant halibut by the tail — with the same suddenness, force, and surety of a bear (in a heavy, solid, certain and direct fashion). This person must also be as attentive as a big cat, and as swift as an arrow.
And as mentioned, one other thing is being told to us here, related to the intensive ordinate of the bear's sniffing nose. Bears can be dissuaded from an attack by smashing them on their very sensitive noses. A solid granite ax would be better for this than anything else.
If we have a closer look at the other example referenced above, of the Three Feather Chief as tool maker, we actually find an image of exactly this happening: a bear is shown being hit on the nose. In effect, this information is cross-referenced between two examples of anametric image writing which both depict the Three Feather Chief — yet another very strong indication that we are indeed dealing with a well developed form of writing that was in common use. And it is without hesitation that I point out, bashing a bear on the nose is still a very effective strategy for stopping an attack:
Sudbury Man Punches Black Bear in Face
Sixty-one year old Rick Nelson was walking his dog in the Panache area on Sunday afternoon when he stumbled across the bear's cub.
"I knew right away I was in trouble," he said. "It's calling for mommy."
Nelson is a former bear hunter, so he stood up knowing he only had seconds to spare.
"The mother was coming full speed," he said. "All you could hear was the bush crashing."
"I knew it would swing first with its left but it would really come with its right, because most bears are right-handed," Nelson said.
So Nelson swung a second time.
"I had the perfect shot to take. I did an underhand and hit it right in the snout."
That's when the bear's cub let out another squeal and started to move away, Nelson said.
"Now it was the moment of truth. What's this bear going to do? Is it going to follow its cub or is it going to come after me?"
"[The mother bear] turned around and it was snorting blood. It looked at me, and I thought, 'Oh no. Here it comes,'" he said.
"But it just turned back around and walked away like nothing ever happened and followed the cub," Nelson said. "So I really lucked out there."
July 05, 2016.
73-Year-Old California Man Punches Black Bear In The Face To Save His Dogs
“Moore ran at the animal and landed a punch known as a “whirling haymaker.”
“The bear didn’t appreciate Moore’s knuckle sandwich, and ran off down the road. Witnesses were happy to corroborate the story, and described the animal as being about 5 1/2 feet tall and 300 pounds.
“He definitely connected. The bear took a breath out like it had been struck in the stomach and then it took off down the road.”
Man Punches Grizzly Bear to Escape Vicious Attack in B.C.
A 50-year-old man is in hospital after fighting off a grizzly bear with his bare hands near Bella Coola, B.C. Friday.
Jerry Lacerte was walking to a friend’s house near Thorsen Creek at around 8 a.m. when he was attacked by a grizzly bear that was with her two cubs.
“I saw three bears and the mother bear just started attacking me,” Lacerte said.
Lacerte started fighting for his life as the bear lashed out at him, cutting his face and arms.
“I punched her right square in the nose,” he said. “I gave it all I had to get away.”
Thankfully, Lacerte’s final blow was enough to scare off the grizzly and stop the attack.
September 9, 2013.
Woman Punches Black Bear in Nose to Save Dog
“Collins let her animal instincts take over last week when she lunged at a black bear that had scooped up her dog and popped it one on the nose.
“Collins' boyfriend said the bear was shaking its head, seemingly shocked, after the confrontation.”
Sept. 1, 2011.
Bear Attacks 2 Vancouver Island Men
Two Vancouver Island men were attacked by a bear while they camped near Port Alberni on Wednesday morning.
Jay Vinden and Bruce Doyle, both from Sooke, B.C., were camping in an area known as Taylor Flats, west of Port Alberni.
They were sleeping when the bear attacked.
"He took about two seconds to size me up, then lunged for my mid-section," said Vinden, 57.
"Then [he] flipped me over with one hand like a pancake and went for my head. I started screaming bloody murder because I couldn't reach my knife and I couldn't curl into a ball or anything, so I just started screaming."
The commotion woke Doyle, 47, who was sleeping in a nearby tent. He started fighting off the bear, which distracted the animal and caused it to turn its attention to Doyle.
"By that time, I got my knife and I whacked him over the snout and away he went," Vinden said.
He believes he would not be alive if his friend had not intervened.
"[The bear] was intent. I was a goner."
July 21, 2010.
Man Fends Off Polar Bear with Punch to the Nose
Wes Werbowy can still see the polar bear’s head pressed up against his tent’s mosquito netting.
“There’s no describing the beginning of the apparition. He was just there — it was instantaneous. I’ve got a thousand pounds of bear, standing on my firearm, his face collapsing the screening of my tent right toward me where I’m still in my sleeping bag and staring at this black nose about two feet from my face.”
That’s when he remembered some words of wisdom an Inuit elder had once shared. The most sensitive part of a polar bear is his nose and if all else fails, take a swing at it.
That’s what Werbowy did.
“I came up off the mat with as strong a fist as I could throw and I punched him as hard as I could right on the nose. It was like hitting a bag of thawed hamburger. It was just this tremendous resounding splat.
“Instantaneously, he just changed ends and vanished.”
James Enuapik says the trick that saved Werbowy’s life is well-known to Inuit hunters.
“My uncle fought a bear three times. The three encounters he had with a bear, he always would punch its nose. It’s the most sensitive part of the polar bear.”
August 13, 2010.
I think we can consider that particular aspect of the anametric image writing we've been looking at, as being substantiated: bears very definitely do not like being hit on the nose!
Material Culture: A Material Narrative and A Material History
In summary: if the developmental trajectory of material innovation depicted by the Three Feather motif is one whereby the efficiency of tool production and use is steadily increased, the ultimate solution reached was to use granite and to cut it using sandstone, a type of stone that wears away easily — taking away some of what it is applied against in the process.
This does immediately give us a very different definitional dynamic for temporality at the core of First Nations culture: one wherein the future endlessly effaces the past, incorporating it into what becomes next — instead of a future that builds upon the past, in a process of steady increase. In the first case, we have a situation that demands a dynamic balance be maintained between what has been and what is to come — least both be lost forever; and in the second case, we have a dynamic which mythologizes an endless increase — and that underwrites an eternal taking of profits.
Since we can trace the material advancements grounding First Nations culture through the development of stone tool technologies; and since we know that the type of stone used as a substrate for anametric image writing directly influenced the formalization of that writing system; and since, by definition, "The Historical" is constituted precisely by a culture's written records, we can also say: the developmental horizon of First Nations material culture establishes and defines the Historicity of that culture, in grounding the production of anametric image writing.
Here, we can speak of a material culture; material narrative; and, a material history.
The end solution to the problem of tool durability also resolved into the use of a mediating substrate for anametric image writing that is pretty much indelible. Today, the paper used for writing might last a few weeks if left exposed to the elements. Anametric image writing on granite can easily last tens of thousands of years. How much paper there would be around you right now if everything with writing on it from the last 500 years was still piled on the ground? Now multiply that by a factor of about 40, and you will have a rough idea of how common examples of anametric image writing are throughout North America: they are not difficult to find — for anyone who looks with an open mind.