Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Tendency

Virilio has a very important concept, that of the 'tendency'. Much like the accident, it is one that is hard not to think about once it has made its appearance. It introduces itself, and then it reintroduces the world.

The gist of it is to take what is given and extrapolate it three steps ahead. Take it from where we're at, and go to where it's logically going. Without doing the proper philosophical move of explicating every step of the way in expounded detail.

I encountered my favorite example of this in an episode of This American Life. It went something like this:

"I had noodles for breakfast"
"Oh yeah. Cheap ones, or expensive good ones?"
"Dunno, my girlfriend bought them."
"Do you love her?"

As you can see, there are intermediary conversational steps that are brutally bypassed in this example. It also makes for an interesting conversation - rather than focusing on the minutiae of noodles, it went straight to a point. Not the point, mind, as conversations rarely have one singular predetermined point, but a point nevertheless.

In writing, this takes the form of applied enthymemes. A paragraph begins with an opening statement, some expansions of this statement, and then ends by moving everything along. Without remorse, it moves from the present to what could be, should we but think about it. It harnesses the tendency and displays it before our electronically weary eyes. It is but a step on our way to becoming immortal cyborg heads.

This, to be sure, is one of the reasons many who attempt to read Virilio give up after a while. Either because they haven't been clued in to this, and are thus confused by the sudden leaps, or they see what the deal is, and rejects it as lazy writing. Either way, the tendency is real.

In life, you can apply this in any way you want. I would suggest poetry. -

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