Everything is Permuted
Crossing the borderlands

A short note on process philosophy and transmediated art

What is the connection between the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and a 360 line permutation? Or between the poets and authors of the Ratio:3 and the technicalities of Whiteheadian concrescence? Thee Product is thee Process.
-, Psychic TV
Or we might wish to generalize, and ask: what use is process philosophy? what does it explain? No two actual entities originate from an identical universe.
Alfred North Whitehead
Philosophy looks at the big questions of life: who we are? what we are? why we are? These themes are central to the process approach which centres on the integration of the many into creative unity. Process philosophy, despite its apparent complexity, is thus attempting to answer questions about our status as beings. Process philosophers argue for our freedom to construct and create our own lives, and regard each of us as a complex society inter-relating with ever more complex societies. We are wholly ourselves and wholly interconnected with everything else. These clues may be sufficient. If we treat philosophy in this way, the answer to my initial questions should become clear. The medium of process philosophy bears close resemblance to the artistic media of assemblage practiced in so many twentieth-century art forms.
Robert C Neville
Artists don't think; they 'do'. And what we perceive is a representation of that process. This is especially so when we explore the work of the transmediators, those artists and writers who cross the borders of their discipline and draw influences from the flux of explorative action. In their work they not only reveal to us their representation of life, but more importantly they lay open their creative method. Indeed, the method is frequently pushed to the fore. Transmediation forces us to engage as a participant in the creative act, not merely respond as observer or consumer of the completed artefact. Transmediated art thus becomes intersubjective in its intention and effect, always establishing the Third Mind. I'll tell you one thing you really should keep to yourself: the World is contained in that Word. If you have understood, there is no other mystery. The Way Out is to permutate...
Brion Gysin - The Process
The writers and performers featured elsewhere on this site are classic transmediators, and bring into vivid life the creative emphasis Whitehead exploits in his metaphysics. A case of theory and practice. A key to Whitehead was his rejection of dualism, his embracement of aesthetic complexity as the basis for reality, and of his treatment of each entity as a self-creative being charged with the responsibility for its own evolution and emergence into a creatively constructed future moment. All this for Whitehead was centred in the presentness of becoming. The past was, for him, mere documentation. The future was the realm of invention and novelty. And so it is with transmediated art. The Laws of reality are also the laws of thought.
Ludwig Feuerbach, Principles of the Philosophy of the Future
Brion Gysin is notable not only for the creation of the Dreamachine, but also for his art and writings. His novel (The Process) is a haunting exploration of notions of consciousness, reality and – especially - identity; precisely those areas most exposed to a process philosophical approach. Identity remains uncertain, and perspective shifts. The Process is narrated from all possible perspective: I, Thou, He, It, We, You (Fem.), You (Masc.), They. Gysin emphasizes the importance of 'Present Time'. Consecutive presentation is not a very adequate means of describing complicated mental processes going on in different layers of the mind.
Sigmund Freud
Gysin sought always to extend the boundaries of conventional form, allowing novelty to emerge from an inherently creative instinct. He said we are ‘Here to Go’, signalling an escape from the constraints of convention. Creativity was prioritized. It was Gysin who introduced William Burroughs to cut-ups, the literary equivalent of collage. A page of Rimbaud cut up and rearranged will give you quite new images. Rimbaud images - real Rimbaud images - but new ones.
William S Burroughs
Burroughs of course dealt with uncertainty, and invoked magical principles of literary collage both as content and form in his work. Eric Mottram described Burroughs’ as exploring the ‘Algebra of Need’, and the focus on addictions of all shades warns of just the kind of passive constraints that a process view seeks to break. The battle is always to escape extreme habituation of things past. The constant theme is the struggle to break out of recorded history, lest there be ‘Nothing here now but the recordings’. [The process] involves a reversal of our ordinary understanding that causes produce effects.
Lewis Ford
- is another who has worked and is working this area. He coined the phrase ‘Thee Product is thee Process’, a call designed to dislodge the artificial boundary between audience and artist, between creator and object. P-Orridge, throughout his work, instead develops an organic creative matrix which evades the limiting control of the individual. The false idea which we have to get rid of is that of nature as a mere aggregate of independent entities, each capable of isolation.
Alfred North Whitehead
Always and all ways addressing the drive into the future, his stated destination is simply: ‘Even Further’. On a technical level, much of P-Orridge's art is retained only in the recorded documentation. Performance is transitory, of the moment, affecting and incorporating the presentness of the audience in its form. He formulates new spaces. Literally. Strongly influenced by Gysin, P-Orridge (as befits his chosen forename) also prioritizes the act of creating. In his words, we are ‘Here to Do’. The greater the beauty is, the richer its complexity and more elegant its simplicity are.
Robert C Neville
So the point? Whichever route you took getting to this page, take another way out.

Paul Cecil
Everything is Permuted


Further Reading:

Go to the news pages for details of Painful but Fabulous which includes a paper on the process metaphysics of magical art.

Also visit the - pages for more information on transmediated art and text.

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back all text copyright Paul Cecil, 2002-2004