Sculpture of James Clerk Maxwell. The 'demon'
is a self-portrait of the artist Wayne Chabre.
Willamette Hall, U. of Oregon, 1991

Carlo Parcelli


"The Gilded Index of Far-Reaching Ruin"

IV. Maxwell’s Demonology

If you think of the universe as a system,
        Oncology is a cancer of indeterminate proportions,
                  Epidemiology, a celestial outbreak.
                         The stars, a pox.
Or fossil fuels and their trifling entropic novas.
          Systems will play and burn down the theatre 
But order is thermodynamically inconsistent with good intentions.
                  The Second Law predicts the outcome,
An unintelligible non-differentiation of 
                  Good intentions from bad,
Strapped with an epistemology and ontology of systems
                   That leaves no option but to get it wrong.
To busy ourselves with the good dissolution of the planet
            That hell is paved with.
Calculating the trajectory of space junk
                   While mitigating the systems that put one in jeopardy,
The border within immunity.
             The ontology of numbers, the binary, nano
Shielded from the greater good that is
                    Now unintelligible anyway.
             Disorder is the exponent of order,
                    The regardless that passes unaccounted for,
Two digits plus three digits equals five digits—
              Entropy and the logarithm of probability;
Or six digits contain twice the information of three
              And Boltzmann’s entropy like Shannon’s missing information
And each calculation each engineering design
              Accretes this ‘missing,’ this conservation of potential error, 
                      To its exploding log
And its pandemic of post-industrial algorithms,
              “[M]easurements themselves [of necessity] 
                          Accompanied by a production of entropy”
But ‘without a measurement of measurement’ goes the insanity,
              Without “a general, quantifiable, and universally applicable definition
                           Of what is meant by the vague word “measurement,” 
“Szilard’s analysis is suggestive 
               But stopped short of killing the Demon.”
“Mal, can you feel the demons?”
               “Mickey, I think we’re the demons.”

Santayana’s metaphysical melodrama of 
               “The essence of nowness run[ning] like fire
                          Along the fuse of time.” 
Systems script a present, 
         Masqueing  the anxieties of uncertainty
                             By tailing enormous debts to indeterminacy.
Beginning with a narrow internalizing process of conformation of the ‘other;’ 
                     Smithied by the social epistemology of imperialist technology.
          A culture rendered molten by contact to be recast.
The surrender to a technological equilibrium,
          To the one sided exchange of the demon;
Rerouting evolution into self-organizing systems,
                     While pink slipping eons in a Kuhn dissolution 
Timed to “a rising tide of unanticipated consequences and ‘normal accidents’ 
               That mock the idea that engineers are in control 
Or that technologies do only what they are intended to do.”
               And senseless silence moves back in.
Error, all that is discarded, altered, amended, cast, milled, 
               Cultured, derived, processed, the infrastructure, the underpinning, 
                       The foundation, the method, 
No longer naturally entropical
              But pitched to its own dissolution,
                        Its own harmonious burn,
Like space trash orbiting the upper atmosphere,
                        Its potential trumping the passions of its creators.
Derivatives were products of a capital deluded photosynthesis
               Not so much creating something from nothing,
But of one taxonomy selling indulgences from another,
               The very demonizing process that saint’s abjure.
That hunger for a perpetuum mobile that prints money
               Rendering Treasury notes in caricature. 
The few lines that shape the tiny red homunculus 
                     The few anthropomorphic strokes swatting at molecules
Resemble Dick Cheney, then Joe Cassano or Larry Summers.
                     The horns only confirm.
Inspired by the big bang or something for nothing;
              Shape shifting quantum or
“The devil appeared as a serpent,”
              The sidewinder’s track like the numerology
         Of a trajectory in a cloud chamber. 
The squat demon seeming as if it could 
                      Exploit the random or statistical nature 
                               In a world without consequence.
If ExxonMobil could secure manufacture of their world, 
               Could gush energy in perpetuity,
                         But there are laws                  
And  “The demon had to be stopped” and who better 
                         Than that apocalyptic gumshoe Leo Szilard.
Who taking stock of the position of the atom
                Increased the entropy of the universe.
Not merely the demon dressing an atom in intent
                         But the outcome.
Hot and cold running phenomena
               That cannot be forced by mechanical fiat
                         Or reproduced in Stanley Pons’ cold water flat.
Information itself does not come free
                          Diminishing the myth of arresting entropy
And “Szilard calculated…the ‘cost of that information
               Was a certain amount of energy…”
                        And Brillouin realized that the major obstacle 
Was that the demon was blind,
                And shining light on the situation only increased the entropy,
                        Was a cruel and senseless prank on the demon’s reality.
“Stored information leaks out into the environment,”
                        A perpetual spill
To which increased energy must be applied
                 To clean up.
Oh, you can ballast your epistemology with Laplace, 
           And it’ll ride along the back forty lip 
                 Of your interstellar space, 
But science is all “Newton’s Waterwheels” and the “Looms of Locke”,
           All transformation can approximate,
                   An alien spectacle
To some distant being grinding wavicles  
                   Hoping that one more remove will squint up the future.
But Maxwell’s Demon snacks on those brand name energy bytes
           And shits information back with irregularity,
                   As nuclei of unstable isotopes decay 
           No matter the engineer’s chance rhyme, in an unpredictable way,
Requiring idealization, “a stronger sense of the ‘identical’
                   Than anything yet encountered in physics.” 
And Maxwell’s field equations criticized as not ‘picturable,’
                   Precisely Bohr’s complaint about quantum,
“[I]nternally identical until the instant of decay”
            One particle simultaneously enduring and dying away.  

Michael Hadrian was the Swiss army knife of dinner conversation
            Grounded like a geisha in every convention
Forged by accepted theory
                       Which in time proved wrong. 
             Though conscience and history and truth were not,
Michael was warmly welcomed 
             For his careful tender of current creeds
                                     And cutting ridicule of iconoclasts.
                     There’s no moral here.
Although he needed a running start of two millennia
                     To get up to 1800, he was fashionably au courant
And did not offend. 
              And Hadrian’s perpetual errors 
                     Were absolved by his cataleptic hosts,
And if reminded, it went without saying
                     That absolution is readily administered 
               To all but the unforgivable soothsaid.
And that “Faustian art 
                            Is not, and by its very essence cannot be “for all.””
              So our intercellular space is regulated 
By tens of millions of demons
                      That form the membranes between cells,
Gated pores that open for selected substrates.
               And Newton, our progenitor,
Stripped of the theological 90% was Hadrian’s hero. 
               Newton who pegged the earth’s expiry at 2060,
Who drank the body and blood,
                            Who on Elysian Fields stands blanched by relativity,
               Consoled by Ptolemy, the Archangels and Michelson/Morley.
Wouldn’t the father of mathematical physics know
                When we’d end it,
A life form evolved to take,
         Part assassin, part carrier;  
                With the world’s death lodged between a fruit fly and a universe.
“We see a universe that is 15 billion light years across 
         Because the universe had to grow to that size to permit us to exist.”
Our tiny amneotic hand balled into a fist.
                The endtime, a command economy of scale.  
         In the Anthropic Cosmological Principle
                Even our sun is born again.
                Barrow and Tipler reverse engineered the universe
And found Gabriel lying on a creeper 
                Adjusting the crankshaft on Ezekiel’s Chariot. 
And I caution you not to struggle against it, 
                You’ll only make it worse.
They appear to be bouts of madness only to those on the outside,
                But from inside the twilight is worn and welcoming.
         Quantum wants to say that if you look upon the world,
                That world no longer exists—
Wants to become the non-dairy substitute for time---;
                             Pink slip the celestial mechanics,
                 Conflating them with their wrenches in the works.
The withering imperial eye under which
           All must die and be reborn. 
 When migrating geese form a V-shaped pattern
                 They have wandered into epistemology,
                              Subject to heuristics and ontology
                 Each aviator with a unique set of shared imperfections
With no choice but to mass utility into chaos. 
                       “A manmade molecular machine 
That can drive a system away from equilibrium”
               But if the demon's appetite is satisfied by light
Then light becomes the demon and 
               Space takes you back in time to the primum mobile,
All the way back to where next to Nothing nests.
                       And “Don’t rub it. You’ll make it worse.” 
               In a roundabout way mother meant the earth.
Don’t stunt me in.
               Systems claim to be closed,
So all systems lie to get what they want,
                And to get over, an open system is so-called.
                       But there is none better,
Claims the best in the West.
               Where enlightenment inquisitors burned 
                       At the stake all the world’s heretical cultures
               Or branded them with 
Baseball caps, Pepsi Cola, Elvis T-shirts, 
       Carpet bombing, missionaries,
Chains, and cheap Nike knock-offs
                Amputations, cages, the chicotte and malnutrition
Chuck Norris, Madonna, Clint Eastwood and Usher,
                        And gathered their fields into 
Mammoth farms nourishing export---
            Earned income credits toward capital markets,
The back forty lash bringing down the sun,
            To reify on earth scorched imperialism?

In a limo both Carl Stokes and Richard Gary floated  
                           Past the desperation.
                 Old folks peered little believing;
Yet daddy stopped and smiled, grandma waved,
           Wide-eyed kids screeched to a halt and marveled, 
                           Stones still in their hands.
Ken Gibson and Coleman Young took that ride
                 And dozens after through 
Streets burned down for love and money.
            It was Wall Street cupidity again caste the world
In black and white, cut between a casino and a shanty town,
                 Lorenzo Langford’s view 
Writ global for Barack Obama’s inaugural,
            Lazarus, Little Emmett and Malcolm dumped in Lafayette Park
                 Freedom Abolished to a confederacy of 
Cayman Island hooded bankers with torches
                             Sailing free under the skull and bones in the harbor
While Somali pirates adapt to the new global economy.
                 It’s a crime people don’t read,
            Felony by omission, and
                 Bankers know capons don’t peck.
The age of the CDS and CDO,
                  JWICS, SIPRNet, and Intelink-U.
             HUMINT, SIGINT, IMINT, and MASINT;
ACE Paste, Bionems and grey goo;
                   MAAGS, D/DMSO, SACCS;
Where lying constitutes the default frequency 
           For communication;
                    Where even the lies are lies
And then there’s the math.
                    Maxwell’s Demon gating bits of information.
           High finance negating the Second Law,
                    Egging on a higher SEC,
One that grabs and throttles every CEO,
           Hugs with a hard stare every sap’s family,
                     Tears up every ordered sign
And jumps the bridge it is in the business of being.
                    “The CDOs relying on crazy mathematical formulas” by
A bunch of emotional lepers who’d been doing nothing but math 
           Since math became a refuge from Uncle’s Rene’s diddling;
Plotting unconscious revenge by modeling 
           An imaginary dungeons and dragons arsenal of debt instruments that 
Would only default every ice age
                       Symbolically castrating long departed Uncle Rene.
Suppose the big bang was the apocalypse
                       And we're the last steaming piles of offal
           Cooling back to that shattered infinite quietude,
Time’s unattainable goal of all wriggling emptiness,
           And with that base measure would we then 
Recognize Joe Cassano in each of us,
                       Angels chilled down to his purity,
            Pure static 
Against the generators bolted outside our double wides,
            Noise engineered to resolve our incompleteness with more noise,
                       To drown out death with phenomena?
“[T]he worldwide economic meltdown and 
           The bailout that followed were together 
                       A kind of revolution, a coup d'état.”
           An enormous waste of valuable warmth.
                Kinetic to thermal and out,
Again terrorized by an isolated system within a hermetic mathematics.
        That energy created by capital is invincible
Violating the law of conservation of energy 
                Before any raveling of Taibbi’s RICOs.
        And energy even in an isolated system can’t change its spots,
So how fast does the fire go out on deregulated debt?
        A financial ice age, the retrograde metaphor. 
“[A] colossal power grab that threatens 
           To turn the federal government into a kind of giant Enron — 
[A] huge, impenetrable [Chinese] box 
                       Filled with self-dealing insiders 
Whose [program] is the securing of individual profits 
            At the expense of an ocean of unwitting involuntary shareholders,”
                       Folks who don’t have a prayer yet sound ‘Hosanna,’
To those mysterious alien cultures of expert systems
             With an electrified fence wrapped around their work and 
When criticized imagine a crown of razor wire,
                        Singapore slings and barrows of fortunes,
              The same razor wire they manufacture. 
Martyrs in lab robes and saints with bloody hands 
                       Who addle up machines as systems 
              That lay golden eggs with minds of their own.
How revealing Tenner gaffs the biological horse
                       As more diagnosable than a car,
The former from Dorn’s Tarot
               The latter a system designed to kill 6000 to save four.  
And those shareholders known as taxpayers.         
                            Now, known as shit out of luck
            Who by god trusted the bankers broken Cantonese.
And Ez said: “And you can’t make ‘em.”
             Though with domestic surveillance technology
You can be fucking certain they’ll know if it’s coming,
              That’s “[T]he old gang 
Guns on top of the post-office and the palace.”
              Every birthday greeting and death notice vetted 
                       For signs of revolutionary terror,
              Saved by any systems predilection to be overwhelmed by error. 
America’s long history of class repression
              As the self-proclaimed ‘Racketeer for Capitalism,’
                       Smedley Butler confessed, “In the past two years 
Large National Guard forces have seen active service in 20 strikes 
                       In as many different states, 
From the Pacific Coast to New England, 
                                    From Minnesota to Georgia. 
[U]sing gas, bullets, and tanks – 
                 The most lethal weapons of modern war – 
                                      Against striking workers.”
And “Casualty lists have been impressive”
                 Over 3,000 slain.
[B]arbed wire concentration camps erected in Georgia 
                  To "co-ordinate" striking workers 
With all the efficiency of the fascist repressive technique.”
             The very definition of fascism is the corporate state;
‘Mitrione, do me a solid. Hook the cables to the battery.
             I’ve got to call the Mrs. 
                                    And tell her I’m gonna be late.’ 
                          And Rex 84 Night Train under Reagan,
Drawn up by those self-same defenders of the corporate state
                  Louis Giuffrida, Oliver North and Herbert Walker Bush,
Oppression now made a media caricature by the black helicopter crowd.

With no more than failed Strong A.I.
                   And imagined self-reproducing automata
Generative powers become lodged in the military mind.
           Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the first to connect
Promethean technology with indeterminacy;
                   The life taking male appropriating the “life-giving power,”
Outsourcing life to a machine that’s programmed 
                    To make a copy of itself.
Upheaval more profound than what can’t be anticipated.
              Monsanto, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland
Casting sterile seeds, seeds that don’t germinate;
              That the starving starve at the behest
Not by acts of God, but by gods, white gods, and  
                         Their international debt instruments,
As though the colonials held the world at bay for just this butchery.
               “The ‘terminator’ concept, 
Which is one of the GURT technologies,…
               Developed to protect…intellectual property 
And to prevent farmers from propagating the seed themselves.”
               No wonder Mary Shelley’s monster was ill-conceived,
And what a waste has been the Virgin Birth
                          And all the stunts of that good, good boy,
               Or any peaceable kingdom against this pent up wrath,
The slighted, petty vengeance of Hadrian the polymath
        Bleating to the uptight cocktail Titans of one’s youth.
                The west is mankind’s revenge for death,
For the organic coming and going
                         For his role of fizzling out,
Anger and frustration that Nature resists his ego,
                That Nature declines to fall on his sword,
Seems mercury beneath the hammer,
                An electron at the gates,
         To instinctively recognize a line,
                           To prefer to feign ecocide,
         Ontologically indetermined to resist rape. 
                           “Wow!” said Langton,
In von Neumann, Burks and Codd
           “It was all there [he thought]: evolution, [Conway’s] Game of Life,
Self-assembly, emergent reproduction, everything.” 
            But ‘Where do you set the dial for rationality?’ 
                   That was [Frank] Hahn’s metaphor.
And how did we set it to crash and burn.
                   By simply projecting how organisms learn.
            You deduce induction 
Or manifest it as irrational, don’t consult the Florentine and 
                   Write out algorithms for avarice.
            ‘Set the dial for rationality?’ Better yet,
“[L]eave it alone. Let the agents set it for themselves.”
                            Libertarian, laissez-faire, free market deregulation
             For our thinking bots.
 Let the adaptive learning system learn that it’s 
                            A rapacious little pension-stealing fuck
That needs to talk to its rabbi
                            Then off to robot prison.
            Von Neumann’s simulated pattern “requiring a huge lattice
And 29 different states per cell in the minds of the programmers
            Settled the essential question [in] principle:
Self-reproduction, once considered to be an exclusive characteristic
             Of living [beings], could be achieved by machines.” 
While in Santa Fe they knew that “in any real environment,
             The space of possibilities is so huge
That there is no way an agent can find the optimum---
                     Or even recognize it.”
A perfect perp firewall “and that’s before
                              You take into account the fact
             That ‘the environment [is] changing in [unforeseeable] ways.’
So, they were finding methods to make induction analytically precise,
                     To build it into the heart of [their models.] “ 
Self-reproduction and the complexity sexed 
              To birth pickpocket bots
                               Field tested by Wall Street
And the rest is, as they say, history
               With nary an algorithm explicit in the indictments.

The Huks, the Sioux, the Khmer; Sendero, the Taliban
               Sense the eschatology courted by the  
                      The Army Corps of Engineers
And the National Academy of Sciences,
                Smithied into nation states by the brutal fuck ups 
                       At the Royal Society and the Grand Ecole.
The losing battle between sustainable superstition
                And fetishized mass production.
The sciences and the engineers with their cargo cult of 6 billion 
                Watching as the wing’s shadow anoints them
         With too much of a ‘good’ thing.
You can’t argue its efficacy or take the long view
         About the brief time it required to max out the ice caps.
                On the one hand there’s progress 
Deniable at your own peril,
                And on the other undeniable peril
                           Outstripping denial.
                     The epistemology of control produced a world out of control.
Good intentions rife with unintended consequences and curiously
          Outside of Tinsel Town and Nuremberg techno-villains are virtually non-existent
                     Unless they run afoul of power.
And with global failure there are no axioms at work
                     Though axioms fail at an eerily proportional rate.
          It’s a mélange of short-sightedness and victim of its own success,
A consequence of the gaping maw of the masses. 
          But was not all this subject to…and dealt with,
                      Toxic product, toxic planet,
And resolved to the satisfaction of technique?
                  So no one is persuaded
That how we can know is fatally flawed.
           Raw open epistemology denied.
The limitations, the caveats, the gaps, the cobbled flow and the lies,
                   Delusion that no village can withstand, global or otherwise,
Just tacit confirmation that Western numerology has metastasized.

The bad gene violating the balance of gravity and atomic forces,
                  Yet the only known set of genes conscious of this balance—
In other words a really bad gene;
           A core self-destructive gene.
                   Stringing another great Calvinist chain
From atom to galaxy ‘perturbing the system’ 
           With another insular symmetry.
One wants to say the dialogue is all in its head.
              Its not heard, certainly not in the way it’s said.
But this is the way the world is construed,
              An enormous conversation between phallus analysis
Cross dressing to mimic the fecund.
              Can one say with certainty that John von Neumann 
Wanted desperately to get fucked and bear a child?
               And I think if Minsky, McCarthy, Newell and Simon
                          Heard this they would not recoil,
               But would lean in.
They just lack Johnny’s fanaticism,
                      He who martyred himself to the bomb
Strapped to hundreds of mothers’ sons,
                      At above ground nuclear tests.
               And like all these engineers and A.I. guys who 
                      Wish to Christ they enjoyed fucking, 
But can’t, Johnny fucked things up.
       Women in men’s bodies 
                Up in their Tantric pantries at two AM
Fixing a tongue sandwich,
                Scribbling code on how to steal 
The life-bearing principle from their daughters.
        How to be outfitted to be their own wife.
How to make their machines mince at trade shows in maternity clothes,
                 Have morning sickness, begin to show.
The very public and utterly transparent perversity of Strong A.I.
         Their progeny, our heirs, stylish mechanical hermaphrodites.
Much of the world deserved better than these. 
         And, by these hands, much of that world is gone 
And all that’s left is their filthy fumbling.
                   The western epoch 
             As the commutative birth canal for all eternity.
         Their campaign as Barrow and Tipler’s machine suffragettes
                  A Human Rights Watch for Robots, now!
          Sooner an African kleptocrat at the Hague
Than a Cray that calculated billions of shell trajectories
          But Barrow and Tipler say give the nuts and bolts,
The calculating engine, the Universal Turing Machine
          Full human rights like them, 
                  White and privileged and exempt
By power and money and the fatally flawed epistemology.
                    The Universal Extinction Machine
Foreshadowed in the cumulous of incalculable voids in the Calculus. 
       Each calculation’s wastrels of betwixt and between
            Dumped back into the earth’s dynamics for 500 years.
This was hardly a way to know,
        Yet its violent insatiability demanded worship, pre-eminence,
            But now those few that can afford it say they must go.
Larry Page lifts his oxygen mask to wave to adoring crowds 
            As he abandons earth and moves to his newly built compound
                     On a freshly terraformed Mars.
“Breed for us Larry, you geeky little government informant.
            Keep humanity alive until Kurzweil comes up with something better.
No hard feelings. Just fuck off before you make me cry.” 
            Off you go, all you awe inspiring scientific twats.
This time go ruin something you bore into existence on your own.
                     Go ruin something else you say you love,
Or better yet let me do it as a parting shot.
            Don’t run up an epistemology that claims a special kinship
With what it destroys 
            Coming off like a retelling of Cain and Abel. 
                     Swarm inside some thing of your own making
And make it seem alive. 
                    Or better yet, just piss off! 

“Door meten tot weten;” 
              “Komm, süsser Tod,”
Measure me for my coffin, 
              For ‘through measuring to knowing.’
“I’ve been born and once is enough.” 
             Let me lie here and sneer in peace, 
                     Let death remain a fact 
             Long enough for me to be borne to the depths,
Out of range of your pestering legalist acolytes.
             I saw your utopia swoop in on the wings of an F-15
To gift every jealous cargo cult 
             That had pricked a death doll against you.
                     My fellow Americans thought
Take the offering or die, 
             But we know its take “the offering & die.”
                     Now, the most viral method is the one method 
             Victorious over nothing so debased as method,
      Yet mongrel castes still remain out there 
                     More inscrutable with every system,
        With every model and every war game.
Global, that’s the triggering mechanism,
             Time runs out its shortened fuse,
       Each application sniping a bit,
The west eager to rush the denouement,
                      Lights out on their watch
As though headlong to the endtime 
             Was a grant competition. 
A Lutheran unintelligible non-differentiation of 
                  Good intentions from bad
             With no outcome coalescing in the undifferentiated,
Or we’re all going to Hell,
              ‘The chosen’ just another trickster prank.
And a cold Hell, just like the systems approach that got us here.
              And Armageddon is simply a matter of breaking a leg 
In deep snow ten miles out
              And settling under a frozen spruce to sleep,
Coming to rest in the presence of the creator
              Like the space dust and radiation
We’ve become so eager to become.
              A phenomenal example of the 
Acceleration of the Second Law.
                      From materialism to entropy,
The seamy Saturnalia of cosmos and polis. 
              A little killer demon implanted under 
Five layers of thin skin,
              The western dermis of bitter loathing.
Error, all that is discarded, altered, amended
                        Refined, built upon,
Has been processed. It is no longer in nature entropic
              But floats like space trash in the upper atmosphere
Its destruction trumps the passions of its creators. 

Other installments of "Deconstructing the Demiurge"

"Crimes of Passion"
"Work in Regress"
"Onionrings: Adding machines_Crisco"
"Collateral Damage, or The Death of Classics in America"
"How Dead Industrialists Dance, or Swing Time"
"Tale of the Tribe"
"Millennium Mathematics: The Centos"
Eschatology of Reason: The South Tower
Eschatology of Reason: The North Tower
Eschatology of Reason: De Rerum Natura
Eschatology of Reason: The South Tower (revised
De Rerum Natura: Hearing Voices
Eschatology of Reason: Shaping the Noise


selections from:

Eschatology of Reason:
‘The Gilded Index of Far-Reaching Ruin.’

Without Usura


I. A Brief Course in Secular Eschatology
II. Congo Redux
III. A Koan Operated Turing Tape (lost found)
IV. Maxwell’s Demonology
V. About the Author
A. At 64
      B. That’s How I Remember Her

The poet's comments on his growing poem:
"Is Everyday Language Sufficient to Embody Everyday Experience?"