Aptoptic lila

One has to be realistic. The chosen, fermatan refrain of those most energized by the cynical weariness of how things really are. Well of course it is true: things really are. There are states of affairs, and there are rules. This is how things really are, and this is how things really change. How do we know? Well its perfectly clear to everyone, just look around you. See what happens when you don’t play by the rules. We can’t truly just change the way things are – the way they are is true. However, rules govern how things change, how we change the way things are, but the things we change change the rules that govern the change in the things we change. Where do we stand now? What is the way things really are for the way things really are? The grounds for the rules of the generation of rules, themselves tectonically active, how are they “really?”

Laws, languages, and sports: none of them really stay the same. They all have rules, and breaking the rules results in penalization, and yet the activities are always already morphing into something new. What drives this morphogenesis? How is the change within the system organized? How do the rules measure the change in rules? Rules are supposed to order, to inhibit change in the change they facilitate. But they themselves must change, whether to consciously adjust to contemporary situations or to consciously prohibit adjustment. Simply because, everywhere, it is observable that in fact they do. Empirically, the rules must change. But how? How can one be realistic about this change?

We can make rules about how to change the rules, this accounts for at least one of the meanings of the ‘must’ in ‘must change.’ Meta-rules. and for them? Meta-meta-rules. This is clearly establishing a theoretical problem, but one that shapes lives. Infinite recursion seems immanent, but, at fist glance, the rational person would see that there needs to be a terminus for the system to have logical actionability. Each level up the hierarchy of rules, the formulations must become more abstract, but also firmer, harder, and more resistant to change. At the bottom a larger set of specific, small, pragmatically adjustable rules and at top a tiny set of absolutes which remain immutable. A constitutional system.

This reality of this change is immanent. There is a certain meta quality expressed here, but because it is a logically constructed self contained system around one game, they really all condense into a single stratum.  A law passes if voted for by a certain majority. If there is a tie than a specific person is called on to cast the tie-breaking vote. If they become inoperable they are replaced by such and such a person. If we want a more historically sensitive system we can reduce the necessary majority to a smaller margin provided this change is voted for by a certain larger majority. All of these seem to function on the same plane.

But this integrated stratum itself is subject to change, both in how it is interpreted and how it is performed.  It itself is subject to different games external to it; the rules that affect its change are subject to the interplay of the outputs of all the games, with their own rules, that relate to the game at the center of our quilt; and the rules that relate these ruled games to each other seem anything but formal, static, and immutable. As one passes up to the larger social systems and ideologies, or down through the biological and physical processes, or through any rhizomatic system linking all these together, what is seen is a a labyrinth of bylaws where the very text itself is smudged and faded. The Constitution can be changed, but then come whole new games with their own rules: senatorial proceedings, elections, enforcement, advertisement, revolution.

This covers the other meaning of ‘must’ in ‘must change.’ Now it seems as if the most constituent power in change is the set of rules that are most contingent and highly mutable – almost like games. Historical forces, market decisions, subculture mimesis, personal endeavor, enmity, affinity, mood, metabolism, neuro-chemical balances, quantum mechanics. How am I to be realistic in this gray market inter-practice rule based norm web. To measure our reality, our tool most ready to hand is a rule. Certainly the majority of human endeavor is trying to study these games in order to shore up the rules, to make them so clear that they become synonymous with nature – with how things really are. Only then can we all have a perfect understanding of the way things are supposed to change so that we can finally all just be realistic.

But the way to spot a master, someone fluent with the rules and the practice of the game, is that they know when and where to break the norms without breaking the game.

So you now tell me to be realistic with your well intentioned construct to discipline my my behavior with the belief that the future is practiced exactly as the past. Which set of ways things really are should I chose from? Clearly the one that supports what you are already conditioned to believe. Change is the rule of rules, and as such is the aporia that can govern only action without content. All I have left now is play.

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