The words that came to me through twitter (thanks to @pareidoliac) could be or could not be describing Twitter. The first word is pareidolia, which basically is a psychological phenomenon and the tendency to interpret a coincidental visual stimulus as something already known to the viewer. The word comes from the Greek para (here meaning wrong) and eidolon (image). Pareidolia is also related to paraphasia, disordered speech in which words are substituted for another word. Common examples are seeing faces in cars or clouds. Pareidolia is related to the paranoiac-critical method developed by Salvador Dali in the 1930s, in which artist find new ways to view the world and objects around them. Objects have no meaning of it’s own but when viewed our unconscious perceives a phantom image, like the interpretation of subliminal messages. Our brain links things that are not linked in the first place. When objects are being perceived as real, or having a personality or even a face, how does this phenomenon relate to the machinic phylum, a concept of Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari and Manuel de Lanza? And how does our brain handle new concepts, new technologies?
At the turn of the last century the French philosopher Henri Bergson wrote a series of texts where he criticized the inability of the science of his time to think the new, the truly novel. The first obstacle was, of course, a mechanical and linear view of causality and the rigid determinism that it implied. Clearly, if all the future is already given in the past, if the future is merely that modality of time where previously determined possibilities become realized, then true innovation is impossible. To avoid this mistake, he thought, we must struggle to model the future as truly open ended, truly indeterminate, and the past and present as pregnant not only with possibilities which become real, but with virtualities which become actual. Unlike the former, which defines a process in which one structure out of a set of predefined forms acquires reality, the latter defines a process in which an open problem is solved in a variety of different ways, with actual forms emerging in the process of reaching a solution.
These arguments remind me of the phrase that everything has already been written or done before, nothing new can be created anymore. Although new contexts are being created. So all new technologies would have a component of remediation in them as they have been used before too.
According to de Landa the notion of a machinic phylum blurs the distinction between organic and non-organic life. This would mean a distinction between human life and technology. De Landa also mixes the term machinic phylum with Deleuzes body without organs, which I try to apply on Twitter here, when I take the assemblage of tweets as a single mass. Taking this further “(post)humanity will begin to coevolve (or at least to share its ecology) with new systems of autonomous robots and software agents.” This is what I think is happening on Twitter, when people get involved so deeply when writing down all aspects of their every day lives. “Nature in this notion is determinate by neither subjects nor objects. It is above all about nonlinear relations, open-ended connections of partially actualized bodies encompassing distinct levels of organization (biological, cultural, technological). [...] Indeed, a body never corresponds to a unity, a whole, an organism, or a system.” The distiction of online life and offline life intertwines and also the distiction between organic life and non-organic life becomes smaller as argued before. The bodies of users mix with technology through the use of the site of external applications.
2. Deleuze, Gilles. Bergsonism. Zone Books, New York 1988: p. 97. Found on <
3. Johnston, John. A Future For Autonomous Agents: Machinic Merkwelten and Artificial Evolution <
4. Parisi, Luciana. ‘Information Trading and Symbiotic Micropolitics.’ Social Text. 22.3 (2004): p. 25-49.