2013, Oct.

On the Affordance of Value

We might all readily agree that to say the value of a thing is ‘intrinsic’ is foolish, but the sentiment that Value is ‘subjective’ fairs no better, except perhaps, as a crude sign of an incomplete thought. I propose to reconceptualise value as a folded packet in desire space. And that desire is not so much subjective as it is perspective--that is: embodied. Value exists in the transformation of a potentia or capacity into a use, i.e. into the sedimentation or composition of a being. Take anything on your desk --- a pen. The pen is not so much an object as it is a cluster, a galaxy of potentials. A pen affords a vast array of possibilities, from the writing of thoughts in english or french, to sketching, underlying, manifesting distinction -- gestural punctuation of speech -- as a rhetorical example in an argument about potentials… the multiplicity of capacities afforded by a pen is sublime, infinite or at least indeterminate. However, to reduce the inability for any subject to conceive of each and every possibility of its use to the ‘subjectiveness’ of the pen’s value is to smudge over complexity in the affordance structure of the object. The pen affords many things, but not all. Even though the generata of the pen qua potentia are indeterminate, it is not up to the subject to determine the potential of the pen. Nor does the subject govern the actualization of potential -- the subject is the actualizationization of the pen. Thus, the subject does not determine the value of the pen, the subject, being what it may become, merely makes purchase on the affordance of the pen. That the subject uses the pen to write a pithy phrase in english does not constrain the value of the pen to the pithiness of the subject’s compositional aptitudes. The value of the pen emanates from the affordance structure of the pen in its ability to capture a territory in desire space. That is to say first that the value is a vantage---not to be confused with the doctrine that the value of a pen is intrinsic. As the vantage of a vista affords no advantage to the blind, the value of a capacity is only afforded to those agents with a capacity of purchase. A pen holds little purchase to the stars, stars that shine dimly on the earth, a whole of no value to them. Now this is not to confuse value with the notion of subjectivity. Or rather, the notion of subjectivity is not to be taken for granted as an accessory to the illusory. Value is real -- consisting in a mediation between the affordance structure and the becoming of the agent. Namely, value is a mediation that tends to act in the favor of the agent. It is Value if and only if it composes the agent. Clearly, this is not a judgement. Value is not an ascription upon the object by way of the agent. Indeed the very possibility of being able to receive the script of purchaser is a base capacity inherent in the object, made complicit by the subject. It would be better not to speak of object and subject at all, but rather two capacities and their actual coupling, and the effect that coupling has. Value exists in a capacitive coupling that develops towards a threshold. The hammer and the stone both afford the being of being able to bash and pound. It would be wrong to say that the hammer is more valuable than the stone without announcing a metric. Perhaps the hammer is more value as an object fit for mass production, then again , perhaps the stone is more valuable precisely owing to it’s unique quality of formation. To announce value in terms of such intrinsic properties is to forget that the object is not object, but a fuzzy cloud of possibilities. These possibilities only become valuable in relation to an agent. The “subject” does not get to decide the metric, the “subject” is the metric-- the threshold. An agent is not a conscious thing, or a thing with hands and feet. Agent simply is a class of being, namely that of becoming. Not all beings are becomings. Only those beings whose quality of being does not reside in there being a quality of being and whose being is not being not being can be becomings. A becoming is manifestly self-compositional. That of value is that of which is an asset to composition. Fodder only explodes with a match.


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