Michel Serres and Protest Movements

“In a living system, a message passed from A to B consists of a mixture of signal and noise. From the perspective of A, the noise is extraneous, a threat to the successful reception of the signal. But from the perspective of B, this mixture of signal and noise need not necessarily be grasped in the same way. Noise ‘cuts’ the signal in such a way that what is received is very different from what was sent. To put this in a different context, when we listen to what another says, we also take in the hesitations, the changes in emphasis, the slips of the tongue in what they say. For the speaker these are all just ‘noise’ to be overcome. But for us, as listener, these may significantly alter our understanding of what is being said. Noise and signal are differentially distributed depending on the position one occupies in a communicative set up.”

Language is not (fundamentally) informational

” Language is not made to be believed but to be obeyed, and to compel obedience. . . . We see this in police or government announcements, which often have little plausibility or truthfulness, but say very clearly what should be observed and retained. The indifference to any kind of credibility exhibited announcements often verges on provocation. This is proof that the issue lies elsewhere.”

The stories we think with

“Historians and archaeologists sift through whatever they can confirm as facts and tend to seek some sort of meaningful pattern in them–chronologies and more complex matters. This is essentially the opposite of the traditional Indian way. Indians’ history is a story as well, but story comes first–that is, the meaning of a story is originating core. The facts follow the meaning.”

Don DeLillo on the novelist and the terrorist

“Even if I could see the need for absolute authority, my work would draw me away. The experience of my own consciousness tells me how autocracy fails, how total control wrecks the spirit, how my characters deny my efforts to own them completely, how I need internal dissent, self-argument, how the world squashes me the minute I think it’s mine.”

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