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entropy

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entropy   1 in thermodynamics : a quantity that is the measure of the amount of energy in a system not available for doing work, numerical changes in the quantity being determinable from the ratio dQ/T where dQ is a small increment of heat added or removed and T is the absolute temperature «the entropy of dry air is prpportional to its potential temperature -A.H. Theissen»   2 in statisical mechanics : a factor or quantity that is a function of the physical state of a mechanical system and is equal to the logarithm of the probability for the occurrance of the particular molecular arrangement in that state   3 in communication theory : a measure of the efficiency of a system (as a code or language) in transmitting information, being equal to the logarithm of the number of different messages that can be sent by selection from the same set of symbols and thus indicating the degree of uncertainty that can be resolved by any one message   4 : the ultimate state reached in the degradation of the matter and energy of the universe : absence of form, pattern, hierachy , or differentiation «cultural diversity and heterogeneity counteracts the tendency to cultural entropy -David Bidney» «entropy is the general trend of the universe toward death and disorder -J.R. Newman»


Difference in the form of intensity remains implicated in itself, while it is cancelled by being explicated in extensity. It is therefore unnecessary, in order to save the universe from heat death or to safeguard the chances of eternal return, to imagine highly 'improbable' extensive mechanisms supposedly capable of restoring difference. For difference has never ceased to be in itself, to be implicated in itself even while it is explicated outside itself. Therefore, not only are there sensory illusions but there is also a transcendental physical illusion. In this regard, we believe that Leon Selme made a profound discovery. In opposing Carnot and Clausius, he wanted to show that the increase of entropy was illusory. Moreover, he pointed out certain empirical or contingent factors of this illusion: the relative smallness of the differences in temperature produced in thermal machines, the enormity of the dampening which seems to preclude the construction of a 'thermal ram'. Above all, however, he discovered a transcendental form of illusion: of all extensions, entropy is the only one which is not measurable either directly or indirectly by any procedure independent of energetics. If it were the same for volume or for quantity of electricity, we would necessarily have the impression that these increase through irreversible transformations. The paradox of entropy is the following: it is an extension or 'explication' which is implicated as such in intensity, which does not exist outside the implication or except as implicated, and this is because it has the function of making possible the general movement by which that which is implicated explicates itself or is extended. There is thus a transcendental illusion essentially tied to the qualitas, Heat, and the the extension, Entropy.
Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (1994), pp. 228-9.

Death is inscribed in the I and the self, like the cancellation of difference in a system of explication, or the degradation which compensates for the process of differenciation. From this point of view, death may well be inevitable, but every death is none the less accidental and violent, and always comes from without. Simultaneously, however, death has quite another face hidden among the individuating factors which dissolve the self: here it is like a 'death instinct', an internal power which frees the individuating elements from the form of the I or the matter of the self in which they are imprisoned. It would be wrong to confuse the two faces of death, as though the death instinct were reduced to a tendency towards increasing entropy or a return to inanimate matter. Every death is double, and represents the cancellation of large differences in extension as well as the liberation and swarming of little differences in intensity. Freud suggested the following hypothesis: the organism wants to die, but to die in its own way, so that real death always presents itself as a foreshortening, as possessing an accidental, violent and external character which is anathema to the internal will-to-die. There is a necessary non-correspondence between death as an empirical event and death as an 'instinct' or transcendental instance. Freud and Spinoza are both right: one with regard to the instinct, the other with regard to the event. Desired from within, death always comes from without in a passive and accidental form. Suicide is an attempt to make the two incommensurable faces coincide or correspond. However, the two sides do not meet, and every death remains double. On the one hand, it is a 'de-differenciation' which compensates for the differenciations of the I and the Self in an overall system which renders these uniform; on the other hand, it is a matter of individuation, a protest by the individual which has never recognised itself within the limits of the Self and the I, even where these are universal.
Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition (1994), pp. 259.

Nor is entropy (meaning the constant and irreversible degradation of energy in every system, a degradation that leads to a continually increasing state of disorder and of nondifferentiation within matter) taken from Bataille's vocabulary. (He would have preferred "expediture," which does not cover the same field and might even seem to be entropy's opposite. Bataille used the classical example of entropy--the inevitable coolinh down of the solar system--against the grain: the sun expands extravagantly, forcing us into overproduction and waste in order to maintain even a fragile balance. Entropy is a negative movement: it presupposes an initial and a deterioration of that order. Expediture, on the contrary, is the regulation, through excess, of an initial disorder abd such regulation is never successful because always insufficient--hence the bidding war unleashed.)
We might even think that the project of Documents was basically anti-entropic. This coolijng down of words into clichés, which Carl Einstein stigmatized from the beginning of the "critical dictionary," is precisely what information theory (taking off from the strict usage of the word in thermodynamics) designates as entropy (see "Liquid Words" below.) But Batille's fascination with rot and waste, with the decomposition of everything, which finds expression in almost every one of his texts, show well enough that the entropic freeze, whether or not he wanted to keep it at bay in his writing, was an essential operation for him, all the more violent in that it was inevid=table and its effectiveness depended on no one's will.
In "Figure Humaine" (Human Face), published in the "dictionary" of Documents, Bataille uncostomarily praised "contemporary science" for having situated the origin of the universe in the condition of the improbable (a crossed-out sentence in the manuscript, where he referred to Lazare Carnor with regard to the notion of improbability,33 reveals that he was reacting to Hans Reichenbach's "Crise de la causalite" [Crisis of Causality], 'which had been published in the preceding issue of Documents, wherein Reichenbach claimed that the second law of thermodynamics, based on Carnot's discovery about mechanical heat loss--and defining entropy--"is in fact nothing but a statistical principle"34). And then there is the "critical dictionary's" article "Poussičre" (Dust), which concludes with an entropic nightmare: "One day or another, given its persistence ... dust will probably begin to gain the upper hand over the servants, pouring immense amounts of rubbish into abandoned buildings and deserted stockyards: and, at that distant epoch, nothing will remain to ward off night terrors, in the absence of which we have become such great bookkeeper"34 Or read Leiris's article "Debacle," which in the "dictionary" comes just before the paragraph on the informe and is illustrated by a photograph of the frozen Seine, on which debris has accumulated. At first sight, Leiris seems to be calling for a social cataclysm that could crack the glacier in which we are frozen. But the only result he sees in this future revolt is nihilism: the fate of this deluge was "having first broken up what was hostile and alien to itself, and then destroyed itself by being changed into ephemeral vapor--that of having annihilated absolutely everything."36
Entropy attracted artists well before the 1960s, when Robert Smithson made it his motto, and many took it up after him (see "Liquid Words," "Quality," "Ray Guns," "Sweats of the Hippo," "Threshole," "Water Closet," and "Zone" below), In the hands of these artists, entropy operates in various ways: by degradation (Raoul Ubac's or Gordon Matta-Clark's brűlages), by redundancy (the casts of Bruce Nauman, Arp, Picasso, McCollum), by accumulation, infinite profusion (Arman's trash cans, Oldenburg's Ray Guns, McCollum's dinosaur tracks), by inversion (Manzoni's Socle du monde, Smithson's upturned trees), by tearing (Arp's or Twombly's torn papers or Serra's Tearing Lead, or Morris's felt tangles) by lack of elasticity (Serra's rolled-lead plates, or Giovanni Anselmo's Torsione), by the invasion of "noise" into the message (Dubuffet's Messages, Raymond Hains's or Villegle's lacerated posters, Duchamp's Dust Breeding), by wear and tear (the oil slicks on the vacant parking lots photographed by Ruscha), but also by under-usage or nonconsumption (the urban no-man's-lands photographed by Ruscha, the interstitial spaces bought at auction by Matta-Clark, or the buttered-on vaseline of Mel Bochner's photographs). Entropy is a sinking, a spoiling, but perhaps also an irrecoverable waste. The first entropic artist was Giambattista Piranesi, about whom Henry-Charles Puech (the historian of Manichaeanism to whom Bataille refers in "Le Bas materialisme et la gnose" [Base Materialism and Gnosticism]) says:
[Beginning with Piranesi], man is definitively overrun by what he creates and what little by little boundlessly destroys him. The obsessional idea of construction, the ordering of stones or of machines, these human triumphs! carried to an extreme, open an infinite vista of nightmares and of multiplied punishments wrought by the automatic law of the vaults, the pillars, the stairways, a multiplication there is no reason to stop (totality, form existing only on a human scale, man is outstripped by the very need for representation that has unleashed this crushing force).37
37. Henry-Charles Puech, "Les 'Prisons' de Jean Baptiste Piranesi," Documents2 (1930), no, 4, p. 204. Thinking in particular of his Pianta di ampio magnifico collegio and of the famous plan of the Campo Marzio dell'antica Roma. Manfredo tafuri would characterize Piranesi's work as "an architectural banquet of nausea, an empty dictionary created by an excess of visual noise" (Tafuri, "'The Wicked Architect': D.B. Piranesi, Heterotopia, and the Voyage," in The Sphere and the Labyrinth [Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1987], p. 35).
Rosalind Krauss, Formless: A User's Guide (1997), pp. 34-40.

And so, if I may continue a moment longer to pursue the ramifications of matching a certain description of Hejduk’s work with a reading of Gilles Deleuze (which at least four of the authors here did and which is not incongruous insofar as both projects, Hejduk’s and Deleuze’s, are radical rercadings of the machineries of modernism), then we will recall that, in order to overcome the entropy inherent in such an endlessly circulating system as Hejduk’s, with all its redundancy and excess, another interpretive mechanism is necessary, a way of "reterritorializing" the signifying regime. Deleuze and Félix Guattari call one such mechanism faciality and it may turn out that this concept, too, has something to offer as a theoretical solution to some of the problems posed by Hejduk’s mask/masque structure.
K. Michael Hayes, "Hejduk's Chronotope (an introduction)" in Hejduk's Chronotope (1996), p. 16.


Monasteries inflated to the scale of department stores: expansion is the third millennium's entropy, dilute or die. Dedicated to respect mostly the dead, no cemetery would dare to reshuffle corpses as casually in the name of current expediency; curators plot hangings and unexpected encounters in a donor-plate labyrinth with the finesse of the retailer: lingerie becomes 'Nude, Action, Body,' cosmetics 'History, Memory, Society.' All paintings based on black grids are herded together in a single white room. Large spiders in the humongous conversion offer delirium for the masses.... Narrative reflexes that have enabled us from the beginning of time to connect dots, fill in blanks, are now turned against us: we cannot stop noticing: no sequence too absurd, trivial, meaningless, insulting....
While whole millennia worked in favor of permanence, axialities, relationships and proportion, the program of Junkspace is escalation. Instead of development, it offers entropy. Because it is endless, it always leaks somewhere in Junkspace; in the worst case, monumental ashtrays catch intermittent drops in a gray broth.... When did time stop moving forward, begin to spool in every direction, like a tape spinning out of control? Since the introduction of Real Time™? Change has been divorced from the idea of improvement. There is no progress; like a crab on LSD, culture staggers endlessly sideways....
Rem Koolhaas, "Junkspace" (2000).

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