Discover more from Raids on the Unspeakable
Architecture and accounting
> ... the functions with which we are concerned are like those of the nervous system, including the brain, in relation to the rest of the body.
This a tale of two factories—the first grew out of a city; the second, a Plan:
The despot is not a man. It is the Plan. The correct, realistic, exact plan, the one that will provide your solution once the problem has been posited clearly, in its entirety, in its indispensable harmony. This plan has been drawn up well away from the frenzy in the mayor’s office or the town hall, from the cries of the electorate or the laments of society’s victims. It has been drawn up by serene and lucid minds. It has taken account of nothing but human truths. It has ignored all current regulations, all existing usages, and channels. It has not considered whether or not it could be carried out with the constitution now in force. It is a biological creation destined for human beings and capable of realization by modern techniques.
Against the divine paternity of this plan, the first factory was born of circumstance and grew as the tobacco leaves which it processed—that is, as if naturally and only by deriving its constituents from the surrounding soil. This coming to be originated with artisanal tobacco production, as scattered throughout city and town wherever its practitioners arose. Over time these elements were fused into the first form recognisable as a factory.
Yet this factory had thus grown organically; was situated in various buildings, to which were added more as it outgrew each plot—and all until ultimately the whole was a ramshackle structure spread between buildings and blocks. The overseers here were interested in, but were finally found to be incapable of, taming this creature. They merely held its leash, then feeding it more or less allowed the nature of things to provide; it was not transparent, no science could approach its inner workings with any accuracy. Mere palpitation was insufficient to the task.
First then came the vivisectors, those that analysed the whole into its elements and sought to bring its process into understanding; it was drawn apart, separated into comprehensible segments. These could not yet be seen precisely in their activity, but this was sufficient to understand the mechanism of their functioning. Still yet was its form too messy for the accountants to announce their reign.
Then came the diagrammatists, who working hand-in-hand with vivisectors reconstituted the whole upon a piece of paper; it was nothing like the creature we first encountered, for one it was missing a whole dimension. Further, these men sought not the same but more; it was this imperative which directed the task entire, operated throughout to animate and give it meaning. The aim was to improve upon nature, to begin by understanding her design—then draw from this one better.
Then came the architects and necromancers, as the diagram of a new creatures was rendered as skeleton in stone; then were added the various substances (men, machines, etc.) called for by their recipe. Here the necromancer played their part, for taking these elements they sought to reconstitute a living whole. The pieces were assembled and all enacted the appropriate ritual—and with that it came alive once more, albeit in strange new form; that of the Plan.
Finally the overseers returned, now from the catwalk above presented with an image as the grid of their diagrammatists; it was from here that they watched and directed their various eyes, intervened with their many hands as and when desired. Here they began to count, for now the elements were separable and readily cognisable—that is, readily countable.
Thus returned also the accountants, now easily imposing calculable spaces upon all that once offended their sensibilities. The new factory served well their needs, finding already in its form—and prefigured by its form, which itself took them into account—the gridded and tabulated structure of their craft. This was here and that was there and each was in its place; it was thus possible to carefully measure the flows between, the time taken, the money made.
Of course, this new brain—thereby constituted as a center of calculation—was blind but for its aides, foremost of whom were the accountants; it was they that let it divide and quantify the body whose activity it directed, the bodies whose activity it directed. Thus it conducted the various hands, and with hundreds of eyes it watched them work. Some hands held tools, others a rifle and bayonet; each as necessary to the nature defined by its relation to the body as a whole. These did this and that, those kept them in order—thus did the dance gather its pace.
The skeleton, of course, was as necessary to the Plan as the brain which conducted the whole according to its dictates. This skeletal structure was of a type more akin to numbers than men; it derived from the grid a tabular architecture, that which then fed back into the plan as realised by its accountants and diagrammatists. The whole which was constructed from representations by the architects and masons was thereby represented once more by bookkeeping.
Where once the brain had been a man with hands, now it was men with numbers that wrote written orders; it was thus that the whole was brought within the purview of scientific industry—that is, the provenance of its many eyes. These sent signals by which the total structure and its processes were analysable and calculable, albeit abstractly as by table and graph; it was thus that the whole now subjected itself to interventions in its own action.
The point of departure here was not the process itself but empty space, or what might as well have been—for was not a space determined by the processes that ran through it; rather its architecture determined these processes. The Plan was made to fit a thing which was not but was to be made so, and thus came the necromancers with their recipes and rituals. This brought to life the cold form wrought by masons; thereby blood flowed in its walls once more.
And yet the brain saw no blood, only numbers; it held no weapons but words. There were other hands in other places, as those with rifle and bayonet, and those that wiped away all blemishes and stains. None were men but for the parts they played; all else was excluded that none could contradict it—thus the Plan was rendered as by a quiet violence: a clean sheet of paper cut by lines.