Patchwork is Not a Model (Part 4)

A new post over at Struggle Forever! addressing some of the recent patchwork chat that had orbited around the “the map is not the territory” provocation from a few weeks back.

Their research, as an ethnographer rather than a philosopher, does very well to clarify this problematic.

…it was not the accuracy of the models that was valuable. The limitations of the models provide an insight that lead to new research and a new, but still incomplete understanding. In other words, models are not only representations of an external and independent territory, they are tools for interacting with and understanding the territory. This is a process that Manuel De Landa describes as “synthetic reason,” which he argues is unique to simulation. Models not only structure our understanding of the territory, they allow us to probe and explore parts that remain unknown and, perhaps, unknowable. As we do this, new dimensions open up and we find new limitations and new areas to explore.

This was certainly the provocation I was hoping to inject into the debate but perhaps somewhat more abstractly.

A map is a model of a territory, in the most general terms, but what do we mean by territory anyway? It is administrated space. A space that I might proclaim to own and, as such, have an in-depth empirical knowledge of. The map is a representation of this knowledge, always already laid over the top of the ground; the land-in-itself.

In scientific terms, this is clear but also, perhaps, somewhat neutral. However, when I use a map, specifically of a territory, I am always aware — at the moment — that I am using it to navigate state infrastructure.

The map is not the territory. The state is not the land.

This is the point I think Bonnet is trying to make in The Order of Sounds, with his focus on those experiences which fall through the administration of the senses. This is likewise what Robin and I began exploring in rural Cornwall.

The eeriness of some of our ruinous and abandoned, or simply untouched, spaces comes from the fact that the state, capital or even more localised infrastructures, have missed or forgotten these spaces. They acquire mystery in their falling through the processes of territorial administration. And, as such, they begin to feel like places where something else might have the opportunity to come in.

They are instances for letting the Outside in.

In this way, I agree with Struggle Forever! wholeheartedly:

Patchwork is an idea. I’m by no means up-to-date on all of the discussions about it our how it would be enacted, but I tend to take it as a way of thinking about Accelerationism, not as the simple speeding up of geopolitical and socio-economic processes, but as a proliferation of vectors.


Leave a Reply