Heat = random kinetic movement of microscopic particles - temperature is defined as the average energy of particles in a substance. Higher temperatures correspond to higher energy levels. In a solid, the particles are constrained to remain fixed, their only mode of action is vibration.
As the vibrational energy increases,
the substance undergoes a phase change into a liquid, the particles become mobile, swirling like - well, like a liquid. The volume of the substance remains about the same, but it moves and adapts and explores the space in which it is; viscous, it creeps along slowly, surface tension limiting yet not stopping the rate of change, movement, adaption. Further increasing temperature, the substance becomes a gas, expanding to fill the available space, the particles hurtling in straight lines, changing direction only upon collision; more is happening, more space is filled, covered, touched by the particles.
Do we need to cover so many states,
to pass through all possibilities like a ballistic particle in a gas phase, hurtling at speed, filling space like some kind of Sierpinski curve? Reacting against micro-specialisation by dissolving all boundaries, by becoming extremal polymathic, leads to an unconstrained spreading out and the creation of a featureless, formless mess. A nebulous cloud. The gaseous particles bounce around, reflecting off one another and any other particles with complete conservation of momentum and energy, perfectly elastic collisions with no interaction other than collision. A solid rests upon whatever it rests, vibrating internally with a pleased self-confidence. Only the liquid phase allows a locally intense investigation of details. "If your rules are too rigid, nothing interesting will happen. If they are too loose, nothing will happen. But if they are in the middle region,...all kinds of organising processes will happen." - Manuel de Landa, Mondo 2000 #8, 1993. I feel that there is some kind of parallel here with social forms and physical characteristics, solid institutionalisation, gaseous hyperactive spectacle, something in between.
This forming onto surfaces,
investigating their characteristics, morphing into them, slow surface reactions, abrasions, changes, this is a process without the speed and resonance of gaseous hyperactivity, a form without the stability of the solid phase. Without spectacularity or conservative massivity, activities in this region of the energetic spectrum fall into a state of invisibility. This invisibility is not only with respect to a public, but also to those supposedly more discerning eyes which in principle have other criteria for judgement but often are only acting out a version of a mass gaze - the general scientific, technological or artistic communities with their peer review and specialist media, the mass public whether highbrow aesthetes or lowbrow pop culture addicts. Although we try and define ourselves as some kind of other (whomever this we may be, but at least the we who received the CraNma call), we define our own successes almost always in terms of such criteria, we argue these criteria to the sponsors and the grant-givers. We have kicked our own arses.
The between-state must, by its very nature,
maintain an invisibility, a covered-up, separated privateness. No-one needs or wants to be seen when they melt. Institutions often provide the walls, the enclosure to contain the melting process, the melted person, the aeration of public life can be used to assist in the circulation and mixing of the liquid. It is apparent that many of the institutions that used to form these breeding pools are now nothing but shells perforated by the trajectories of the gaseous high-energy egos of their directors. When there is nothing but perforated stone and swirling air, there is little life - the image that comes to mind is the sun- and sand-blasted ruins of a millenia dead civilisation.
It is perhaps arguable that such
is the necessary structure of institutions of this scale and type - the construction of an evolutionary psychology just-so story to explain this would be remarkably simple and is left as an exercise for the reader. This may or may not be true, nevertheless, there is a prevalent characteristic of large institutions to be dominated by egos that often destroy any possible benefit of that institution to a creative or research-interested community, whether the institutes and structures are naturally growing or imposed from above by royal fiat. I would argue that the only way forward is to attempt a re-seeding, the DNA-like kernels of possibly creative or productive situations need to be wrapped in shells that protect and these then filled with a yolk that feeds and nurtures. Not every plant is an oak, especially not immediately. As Tom Ray put it, given the geological, energetic and chemical conditions of this planet, who could or would foresee rice. The weeds struggling around the aerated monument ruins need to be watered too, and they themselves should not give up just because they fail to meet the ridiculously high expectations they too may place upon themselves.