This book is a tour-de-force from the French philospher of science, Michel Serres.
Serres argues that nature is not organised around any -single- principle of organisation, that at all levels, multiplicity abounds: that although logic and rationality have taught us much about ourselves the Universe, that such 'pockets of unity' are merely islands or order in a sea of chaos.Furthermore, we cannot really understand this sea of multiplicity which howls around us: but it can be sensed, -heard-, raging all around it, although it cannot really be -conceived-. By alternately using polemics, scientific method, poetic meditation, aesthetics and literary analysis, he shows how forms are birthed from raging Chaos.
All this results in a 'noisy' critique of Order - social theory, history, science, aesthetics, and metaphysics. In French, the word 'noise' no longer means 'noise' (which in French is 'bruit') but rather 'noise' is an archiac word which means 'clamour' or 'ruckus', (chercher noise: "kick up a fuss" or "look for a fight") and this inter-play is used throughout the book. He utilises what is obviously a huge knowledge of literature, art, philosphy and science to rigourously illustrate his thesis.
Serres proposes that philosophy's purpose is to "think the unthinkable" in the age of scientific rationality. This momentus volume, written in the 80s but only translated recently (1995), is a must-read for any serious student of philosophy, science, literature, or art. It is also of special interest to those engaged in the field of sound studies for its conception of 'noise' and the relation it contains to music (or order).
Lastly, I will quote just paragraph from the section titled 'The Chain' (p71);
"Here then is the chain: white sea or white plain, background noise, surge, fluctuation of the surge, bifurcation, repetition, rhythm or cadence, vortex. The great turbulence is constituted, it fades away, it breaks. And disappears as it came. This chain is breaking, it is breaking at every point, it may always break, its characteristic is to snap. It is fragile, unstable. ... It is the chain of genesis. It is not solid. It is never a chain of necessity. Suddenly, it will bifurcate. It goes off on a tangent. It surrenders to the passing signals, the fluctuations of the sea, or some sowing of sameness. This chain is not a chain of chance either, it would remain meticulously broken. It is a chain of contingency, the recruiting takes place through tangency, by local pulls and by degrees, by word of mouth, from one mouth to another. It emerges from the sea noise [bruit], the nautical noise [noise], the prebiotic soup."