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Heuristics

Ulmer se situe en
La heurstica,
While readers might associate heuretics with a varied set of connotators-eureka, heuristics, heretics, and, yes, diuretics--the word originated as a
theological term, as the flip-side or repressed Other of hermeneutics. One
could interpret scripture (read through a hermeneutic), or one could employ
scripture as a means of invention (read it heuretically). Hermeneutics asks,
What can be made of the Bible? Heuretics asks, What can be made from the
Bible? 1
As an experimental humanities, heuretics appropriates the history of the
avant-garde as a liberal arts mode of research and experimentation. (Ulmer,
1994, pg. 11)
The goal of heuretics is not only to reproduce historical inventions (to learn
about the vanguard or any other rhetoric/poetics from the inside, through
the experience of making works in those styles) but also to invent new
poetics. (Ulmer, 1994, pg. 12)
To point out that a given theory lacks a politics (as has been said of
deconstruction) or an aesthetics (as was said of Marxism) is not to refute
that theory but to call for an invention. Nor is just one politics or aesthetics
or pedagogy available in a theory but many, depending on who is doing the
inventing and within the practices of what institution. Theory is only one
ingredient in the formula of a cultural invention. (Ulmer, 1994, pg. 18)
All discourses on method, including this essay, share a common set of
elements. Ulmer identifies them as:

Contrast--opposing a new method to an old one,

Analogy--figuration as a tactic of displacement,

Theory--repetition and literalization of the newly proposed method,

Target--repetition and literalization of the newly proposed method,

and Tale--a dramatization of the new method.

1 http://www2.yk.psu.edu/~jmj3/defheu.htm. Sitio del profesor Michael


Jarrett

CATTt, therefore, constitutes a morphology of method analogous to V. I.


Propp's morphology of the folktale.2
(Contrast. The theorist (Plato in this case) begins by pushing
away from an' undesirable example or prototype, whose features
provide an inventory of qualities for an alternative method. Plato
defines his own position in opposition to that of the Sophists. The
oppositional or marginalized stance of the avant-garde is the hyperbolic
culmination of this opening move of method.
Analogy. Method becomes invention when it relies on analogy
and chance (Buchler, 14). If methods tend to be practiced as algorithms,
their invention is heuristic (heuretics is a heuristic approach
to theory). To help invent the dialectic, Plato relies on an
analogy between proper rhetoric and medicine. "In both cases
there is a nature that we have to determine, the nature of the
body in the one, and of soul in the other, if we mean to be scientific
and not content with our empirical routine when we apply
medicine and diet to induce health and strength, or words and
rules of conduct to implant such convictions and virtues as we
desire" (Phaedrus, 27ob).
Themy. In each case the theorist generates a new theory based
on the authority of another theory whose argument is accepted
as a literal rather than a figurative analogy. The new theory will
include in one register a literal repetition of a prior theory, modified,
of course, by its interaction with the other elements of the
CATTt. The analogy is drawn in this category from an abstract
practice rather than a concrete one. Socrates obviously fulfills this
function for Plato. The general theoretical position espoused by
the Platonic Socrates concerns Pythagorean mathematics. In the
Western tradition of method, mathematics has been the favorite
authorizing theory for invention inother areas.
Tmget. The theorist has in mind an area of application that
the new method is designed to address. The target is often identifiable
in terms of an institution whose needs have motivated the
search for the method. Thus Tmget supplies an inventory out of
what is lacking or missing, or out of the excessof a new situation
for which no practices yet exist. Plato's target is education. Indeed,
method is the discourse of School as an institution, whose
premise is that learning is transferable.
Tale. The "t" is the CATT's taiVtale, reminding me that the
invention, the new method, must itself be represented in some
form or genre. The tale conveying the method discovered by
means of the CATT operations often turns out to be a dramatization
of the theory of knowledge appropriate for the human subject
2 http://www2.yk.psu.edu/~jmj3/elcattt.htm. Sitio del profesor Michael
Jarrett

envisioned by (or presumed by) the Theo1y. Plato's dialogues


represented his premise that learning must be face-to-face con ...
versation. His discourse on method did what it said (was a showing
as well as a telling).)
The strategy is heuristic, employing several ad hoc rules that require
continuous decisions and selections (there is no "algorithm" for this
exercise). The chief such rule is to read the Discourse at the level of its
particulars -its examples, analogies, and evidence- rather than at the level
of its arguments. The antimethod will break the link between the exposition
and the abstract arguments that provide the
coherence of the piece. (Ulmer, 1994, pg. 25)
CATTt. My procedure now is to select the materials for these categories,
assumed as an inventio, and emulating the tradition from Plato to Breton, to
compose my own discourse on method. The experiment is meant to be
generalizable to other materials, the procedures transferable, with the CATTt
functioning consistently across different contexts. The CATTt is not itself
"Derridean" anymore than it is Platonic or Cartesian. The modest proposal
is: to invent an electronic academic writing the way Breton invented
surrealism, or the way Plato invented dialectics: to do with "Jacques Derrida"
(and this name marks a slot, a passepartout open to infinite substitution)
what Breton did with Freud (or-why not?-what Plato did with Socrates).
(Ulmer, 1994, pg. 28)
Part of working heuretically is to use the method that I am inventing while I
am inventing it, hence to practice hyperrhetoric myself, which is assumed to
have something in common with the dream logic of surrealism. (Ulmer,
1994, pg. 30)
This difference in "logics" is the point of departure for imagining what a new
rhetoric will do that does not argue but that replaces the logic governing
argumentative writing with associational networks. (Ulmer, 1994, pg. 31)
The most constructive attitude to this (unexpected) convergence of a
theoretical school with a technology is the one stated by George Landow,
that hypermedia now constitutes a laboratory for the testing of
poststructuralist (or even more specifically, "deconstructive") theory (Delany
and Landow, 6). (Ulmer, 1994, pg. 34)
"is that all of its marvels will be very difficult to communicate with, because,
as always, the user interface design that could make it all simple lags far
behind" (Laurel, 204). "A major new direction that should be taken," Kay
noted, "is towards a rhetoric for programs expressed as something more like
essay-or in the hypermedia equivalent of an essay" (203). (Ulmer, 1994,
pg. 41)

The invention of a new rhetoric or interface so far has been organized


around the problem of finding an appropriate metaphor, something from the
world familiar to users, that functions as a model of the system, mediating
and giving the user an intuitive feel for how to interact with the equipment.
(Ulmer, 1994, pg. 41)
Within the terms of grammatology and deconstruction, it is not possible
simply to jump to a different metaphor for research. Such a jump would be
easy enough intellectually. The electronic apparatus, however, is a social
machine: the frontier metaphor is in our habits, our conduct, our emotions,
in curiosity itself. My experiment, rather, is to deconstruct the metaphor
associating method with colonial exploration, to put it under erasure in a
certain way, "paleonymically," remaking "frontier" into 'chora. '
The electronic apparatus, however, is introducing, at every level of
individual and institutional behavior, a decentered structuration in which
maps designed in terms of centers and peripheries, of frontiers and
adventure, no longer correspond to the territory. (Ulmer, 1994, pg. 46)
Why place? Because, says Aristotle, in order to remember things, it suffices
to recognize the place where they happen to be (place is therefore the
element of an association of ideas, of a conditioning, of a training, of a
mnemonics); places then are not the arguments themselves but the
compartments in which they are arranged. (Ulmer, 1994, pg. 46)
The justification for inventing a method to be called "chorography" is that it
is specifically an electronic rhetoric, one meant to exploit (but not limited to)
the digital convergence of media in hypermedia. (Ulmer, 1994, pg. 47)
Hypermedia, in the electronic apparatus, requires another radically different
commitment to space from that of the book, a shift that chorography
addresses in the substitution of chora for
topos as the name for the places of invention. (Ulmer, 1994, pg. 49)
The assumption is that changes in the equipment of memory involve
changes in people and institutions as well. Chorography as a practice
corresponds to recent developments in computing, such as connectionism.
() "Information is not stored anywhere in particular. Rather, it is stored
everywhere. Information is better thought of as 'evoked' than 'found.' Rather
than imagining that particular neural units encode particular pieces of
information, this view has it that information is stored in the relationships
among the units and that each unit participates in the encoding of many
many memories" (Rummelhart and Norman, 3). These "distributed"
memories-which correspond to the qualities of chora as space-function by
means of pattern making, pattern recognition, pattern generation. It is not
that memory is no longer thought of as "place," but that the notion itself of
spatiality has changed. (Ulmer, 1994, pg. 49)

An important aspect of chorography is learning how to write an intuition,


and this writing is what distinguishes electronic logic (conduction) from the
abductive (Baker Street) reasoning of the detective. In conjunction the
intuitions are not left in the thinker's body but simulated in a machine,
augmented by prosthesis (whether electronic or paper). This (indispensable)
augmentation of ideological categories in a machine is known in
chorography as "artificial stupidity," which is the term used to indicate that
a database includes a computerized unconscious. (Ulmer, 1994, pg. 50)
In hypermedia the composer constructs an information environment, and
the user chooses the path or line through the place provided. The
chorographer, then, writes with paradigms (sets), not arguments. One of the
profound changes of a hyperrhetoric designed for organizing audiovisual as
well as print practices will be the necessary return of delivery and memory
and their adaptation to a new social machine. (Ulmer, 1994, pg. 50)
I have been designing a method for writing and thinking electronically,
imagining a time when learning is done in cyberspace. One of the features
of the method, chorography, is that it does not lend itself to direct
communication, at least not yet. It has no algorithm, but it may be
reconstructed through inference. (Ulmer, 1994, pg. 58)
That is how I am going to invent chorography-by creating the field within
which the insight I seek already exists. Compose a "diegesis" -an imaginary
space and time, as in a setting for a film-that functions as the "places of
invention," using this phrase in the sense associated with it in the history of
rhetoric.
The topics store the "treasures of tested and approved ways of investigating
a chosen subject, ways both of conducting an argument and of analysing a
theme or subject prior to discussing it" (Dixon, 26). In order for rhetoric to
become electronic, the term and concept of topic or tapas must be replaced
by chora (the notion of"place" found in Plato's Timaeus). That is what I
learned from Derrida. For now a dictionary definition must suffice: chora is
"an area in which genesis takes place" (F. E. Peters, 197). (Ulmer, 1994, pg.
61)