The language of Otherness

If we cannot separate our brain from language, and we cannot separate language from symbolic systems, then symbols appear to be intrinsically connected to our capability of thinking. Whereas the question whether computers can think is still under discussion - although surpassed by the reality of simulation, neural networks and gigantic databases - the idea of automated systems able to produce and generate thought is an ancestral dream of humanity.

Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz in his monograph 'Dissertatio de Arte Combintoria' (Leibniz, 1666), described and analysed in details the idea of a special alphabet whose elements represented not sounds, but concepts. His aim was to create a system in which symbols could 'magically' produce correct answers to problems almost unaided. The conception of such machine compares the functioning of a denotation structure - such as that of traditional Western music - with the production of concepts and spoken language through the use of logic, and of logic through the use of language.

Music exists before any system to write and remember it, but the denotation method inspires the creation of other music. When we think of natural languages, we can say that logic is both a set of rules which makes possible for language to make sense (grammar, syntax, logic), and that the elaboration of language through these rules produces other and more knowledge.

Leibniz's machine indirectly compares music to thought, and, by seeking to define what level of fragmentation is necessary to identify minimal grammatical elements, and what process is behind the elaboration of concepts, he asserted two main hypothesis: the first is that beauty (harmony) is composed, in formal and ethical sense, of a certain structure drawn by a certain processes (the right answer is ethically beautiful). The second is that a machine has more abilities than humans; in fact, not only should the machine compose thought, it is supposed to give the correct answer even to unsolvable problems.

The language of a machine which can tell the truth participates of that other-languagedness which Bakhtin considers at the base of polyglossia, explained as the use and reuse of someone else's words to make and speak any new sentence. “... For the creating literary consciousness, existing in a field illuminated by another’s language, it is not the phonetic system of its own language that stands out, nor it is the distinctive features of its own morphology nor its own abstract lexicon - what stands out is precisely that which makes language concrete and which makes its world view ultimately untranslatable, that is, precisely, the style of the language as a totality “ (Baktin, 1975).

Identity and language do not belong merely to the individual, rather they are shared by all and contain a certain level of otherness, affirms Bakhtin introducing his architectonic model of the human psyche and the concept of heteroglossia.

The oracle machine performance follows this dream of an absolute truth - that which can be reached by appealing to the Other (as in non-Self), and this zone of Alterity becomes the source of those words and concepts re-composed (or de-fragmented) into a supernatural speech (whose answer is inscrutable), and the answer to this capitalist schizophrenia is screamed into noise.