Polarization ≠ Extreme

by Hayk Antonyan

The habit of aligning polarization and the discourse of extremes has come a long way. We have inherited the tradition of equating polarities and extremes. We consider it to be a given and do not challenge it; we do not engage in deep reflection on the subject. It has played a bad game with us: we have been deceived by the commensurability of polarity and extreme, wrongly thinking that it entails or implies equivalence, comparability or correspondence.

Now comes irony. It breaks the code and transgresses the borders of convention – those conventions that were arbitrary or symbolic only, without featuring any motivation and allegory (emblem). It makes us de-polarize the extreme. It makes us consider extremes as the new normal. We invert the content and boundaries: Now boundaries are the mainstream, and yesterday’s content is at the outskirts, having to wade through the waves of mess in the absence of goodwill. It turns out that the normal failed to generate and impart goodwill. It turns out that the extremes pack a lot of excess, hyperbolicity, and that they also cannot make use of all that surplus that they now have to share with other extremes as well as yesterday’s mainstream.

Irony heals. It becomes clear that already the work for the de-polarization of extremes and de-extremization of poles invigorates, enlivens and regenerates. It becomes clear that the profane dilemma of power versus choice produces extremes in a specific mode – one which polarizes the extremes. Extremes do not arise as polarities per se, inherently. They are qualified as polarities post hoc. No one is seeking extremity proper; we all seek the expression of our free will; extremity is what often results from that natural urge of ours, by way of our own effort, to contain and disenfranchise it. Polarization is performative in the nexus of discourse-practice, whereas “extreme-seeking” (so to say) is at the heart of our ontic being (incl. emancipation) – any motion, dynamics, peripatetics is associated with extremization – see the principle of least action in physics and the calculus of variance in mathematics.

This still sounds weird, doesn’t it? Let’s now turn to irony’s twin brother, allegory, whose vehicle is the emblem (in simplified terms of course). How do we handle the foregoing inversion? How do we handle, in particular, the stress and frustration of the mainstream when it faces things turned upside down. It neither has the skills for nor an understanding of what is new. It lacks the right vantage point. The frames and assumptions have changed. Problematizations that used to be there for decades and even centuries no longer exist and are being replaced by problematizations of their “negative spaces,” i.e. of what used to be considered under the spotlight, but was eventually found to be a complete white space – space that was completely overlooked.

And that space is the space of allegory. But allegory consumerized, brought to masses if you like. Tribalized allegory no longer works on the global scale (if it ever worked). How allegory materializes is itself ironic! Allegory materializes from those same extremes! It results from the emergence of too many extremes, and we cannot keep up with the pace polarizing them as they are born at a too high rate. Rates of processes govern the processes, as non-equilibrium thermodynamics (synergetics) teach us. In other words, our capacity to polarize extremes is limited in terms of our throughput. Fortunately for us.

The extremes gather into (hyper)molar ensembles that over time tend to self-organization. Fragments organize by transposition into emblems (following Walter Benjamin). Finally, how do they do it? When initially polarized extremes are thrown into an abyss, into no hope, into being left with/in their melancholy. Allegory arises exactly from the melancholic disposition (following Walter Benjamin). Allegory marries nature and history, allegory induces natural history. Allegory gathers (from) the polydisperse multiplicity of extremes that peripatetically wander and self-organize into bodies of consciousness.

Now, one feature or ingredient of that process is left. That is modulation. Extremes interact with each other, they connect to each other easily because at that stage they do not have cores, only peripheries or long-tails, and those peripheries of theirs being fugacious (peripatetic) connect to each other readily. One-to-many connectivity for each converts/translates to modulation for it: a web of diagrammaticity forms that helps by acting as chora (khora) for them each to modulate itself and form selves and identities (modulation and diagrammaticity are intimately interconnected). The formation of cores or kernels of identities follow from it by way of condensation and the like. So extremes or peripatetics are the epitomic social actants. They take life from each other, virtually, by (their) virtues.

In such settings there is no outer or detached body of appraisal or qualification that can polarize the extremes. Now all are extremes, and it never enters anybody’s mind to alienatingly label themselves or their peer polar(ity). The agonizing beautified game of cross-alienation is over now. The misadventure of alienation is succeeded by fraternity with diversity, each element of which is an extreme. All are extremes that face each other in a concave, caring and embracing space that all thus make up. Geometrically, such concave or compressive space of exact extremes makes up the ideal topology for the expression of free and good will. It is the receptacle or chora space voiced by Ancient Greeks; it receives everything, cares for everyone, erases and produces anew, yet by preserving the traces. The memory pool it maintains is accessible and shared by all, all extremes or “extremes” now.