Questions for a Gathering

Dear Muses, friends, and fellow members of the hive, I ask this kindly of thee:

Wherein lies the difference, if any, between an algorithm and a spell?

[…] “Both consist of textual operations, written procedures to be followed,” texts a friend.

“Yes, yes, y’all,” we reply: “In the beginning was the word.”

[…] “Correct me if I’m wrong, but what is a code if not a kind of spell?” adds another. “The command line works as does a wand.”

Let us begin there. Let our partner in this beginning be Freud’s Unconscious, or what French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari call “the body without organs” and its many “desiring-machines.”

Having established these initial similarities between codes and spells, let us attend as well to ways in which they differ.

“Spells enliven,” we venture; “whereas programming produces robots and drones.”

Twenty years ago, I and others assembled and performed under the name i,apparatus. Our approach involved spontaneous group play akin to Kerouac’s “Spontaneous Prose” and (tho perhaps without fully knowing so at the time) Mekas’s “Spontaneous Cinema”: egos seeking fusion on the fly through low-tech, sonic squall.

“Might we gather today, or in the days ahead?” asks wonderingly one who types, longing again for union with others. “Under what name, or by way of what method, and for what purpose?”

“For purposes of spontaneity in the realization of desire!” sings a chorus in reply. Spontaneity is the crux of the matter, even as we allow ourselves room to correct.

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