"The value of (x) is nothing when the terms of the equation are not set"
CADE, Untitled diary fragment #527 [fall 2012]
The question we must deal with if we are to have any appreciation of the material presented in Neo London- the material gathered painstakingly by the maverick topographer CADE - is simple: what is (x)? It is impossible that (x) should stand for nothing, a hollow signifier, because the nature of CADE's research works only on the presumption that the value of (x) can be known, and that CADE can discover what it means. But from the quotation above taken from CADE's own journal suggest that he has doubts; suggests even that (x) is meaningless if the context in which it is set itself is meaningless. And if this is the case, it is certainly the shadow of nihilism which causes this to be so, which produces this 'unfixed' relationship which is presumably what we are 'drifting toward'; thus CADE's preposition that we are '...drifting towards (x)...'.
Furthermore, the relationship forged between CADE and the unknown value (x) during the period under examination is certainly a dynamic problem faced by any visitor to this archive; indeed, can we even speak of a relationship when the terms of the relationship are undefined? (x) could by all accounts refer to a person or persons unknown; an event or series of events in a sequence; situations; environments; facts or indeed any 'thing' to which we can refer at all. But the 'thing-ness' of (x) is no less uncertain - for the term 'nothing', (or 'no thing',) occurs with such frequency in the archive that we must put in question even the presumption of a 'relationship' whatsoever:
"Presumably there is a reason why the polis [sic] is instructing nobody to go out into the streets after dark. If there is no reason for this advice, or if it truly is the case that nothing is actually happening, then the advice can only be described as meaningless."
CADE, Untitled diary fragment #223 [fall 2012]
We can assert with some degree of confidence that CADE had been prompted to investigate in detail certain factors that had come to his attention in early October and which developed quickly over the subsequent weeks. From his journals we can discover that his curiosity was first aroused by the unearthing of what we now call 'The Whitehall Letter'. Evidently he was puzzled as to why a sensitive military document, (redacted from almost all of its content,) which suggested a knowledge of an impending Metropolitan crisis and the steps necessary to avoid it, would be tossed in a litterbin on a public street. A seasoned bin-sifter, CADE must have instantly recognised its unusualness; he made the following entry in his journal:
"This letter says almost nothing - what, with practically all the words scratched-out - but it still speaks volumes. The carelessness of the owner. The erasure of all content except the words "national emergency" and the cryptic phrase "...we must create the impression that something is happening, even if it isn't" - suggests either a lurid joke on whomsoever might find the letter, an effort to create general panic and anxiety, or an absence of care altogether."
CADE, Untitled diary fragment #1 [fall 2012]
We can say with certainty that this is the first piece of evidence to suggest the existence of an object of concern, an (x), which not only marks the beginning of CADE's study but also provides a reference point to which all subsequent material ultimately refers back. The notion of treating the letter as a catalyst or starting-point is a problematic one however, for the more cautious viewer will note a series of prominent disturbances in the signifying chain as the project develops and, on the still greater level of concern for the viewer, disturbances are registered in the causal chain itself. Nonetheless, despite the gross inconsistencies which, by necessity, arise as a product of such disturbances, if we are, (as we are helpless not to,) to think causally about the catalyst for these disturbances, we always return to the undefined (x) and in no way to a concrete term. The cause itself is lacking - the question why returns no answer.
Furthermore, the subject of disturbance is a common factor in the documentation which follows. And perhaps we should not lose any sleep over the idea that cause and effect have somehow become unhinged if instead we treat the disturbances on a psychological level; for cause and effect, the perception and interpretation of cause and effect - a concept at the very heart of human understanding - has periodically unhinged itself from the governing error which it served - whether church, state or philosophy - and the documentation of CADE might signalise such an discontinuity, a sudden shift in perspective. Such shifts have in the past presented themselves as earthquakes and portents of disaster. If that were the case, the disturbances evidenced in the archive document the first traces of a crisis in human understanding, but one which cannot even be perceived by those experiencing it - a blindness and a deafness which triangulates on CADE - for CADE is mute, and therefore speechless; a third term in an equation in which the senses do not well agree. Which begs the question; ‘How can we know the subject of this research when it is told to us by someone who does not speak, shown to us by people who does not see, and heard by those who will not listen?’ It is the figure of the three monkeys. We can only be left with (x) occupying the area between the points of this triangle of uncertainty, as CADE himself is sometimes apprehensive to acknowledge.
The catatonia of CADE, the mute subject, also denies us the role of enunciator in the vocal sense. It is difficult for the viewer to identify with CADE inasmuch as he is never seen and never heard, but must rather view the content from his point of view -from the first-person - making the experience not only difficult due to the feeling of absence of a conventional subject, but opens new doors for the unreliable narrator to slip through, for he is restricted in his ability to test his hypotheses. Unable to ask questions of people he must therefore trust his eyes, ears and judgment to deliver accurate information about his world. On one hand this deficiency shields him from the dubious perspectives of other people who are themselves open to errors of judgment, but we must not ignore the counter-effect which makes us, as viewers, more heavily reliant upon his conjectures – upon what he chooses to point his camera at, and what he chooses to write about it.
The viewer has thankfully been spared the oftentimes hopeless wading through the morass of materials which CADE provided to The Unstitute to back his thesis, and the archive has furthermore been compiled and arranged into thematic segments in separate rooms. This process has of course necessitated heavy editing, and at least 70% of material has been cut away from the public view at the behest of a semblance of coherence. At some future time it may be deemed necessary to revise the current arrangement, and future curators may have different approaches and perspectives that necessitate further modulation in the favour of advancing a new thesis. For the present moment however, the curator has favoured the view of presenting the material from the point of view that the crisis which CADE has seen is indeed real, and has an unknown or unknowable cause, despite all evidence to the contrary. Which of course brings us to the difficulty of selection itself. The curator has been charged with piecing together a puzzle, the end result of which is of a picture that either has never been seen before and which cannot therefore be recognised, or which quite possibly is perceptible only from CADE’s perspective, or which, if we can speak of such a thing at all, looks to all intents and purposes, like nothing. Inasmuch as no instructions for the curator have been provided by CADE himself, the final selection and editing process has proceeded along the lines of advancing the thesis that an (x) exists, and no attempt has been made by the curator to qualify, question or negate this thesis. Whether this thesis provides evidence of a personal crisis for CADE alone, or if it indeed points at some future catastrophe which is obfuscated by the conceit of the reality principle evinced by our age is something left for the viewer to decide.
To round-off this short introduction we should say something of the crisis itself, for it is something only ever referred-to in the archive, and which is never evidenced along the lines of the healthy journalistic techniques we are all accustomed to. What actually occurred during those weeks in October/November? We can say, I think, with precision that it was recorded nowhere other than in this archive and therefore cannot be cross-referenced. But that is not an argument against the veracity of CADE’s research – rather it provokes difficulties in what we classify as perception and our roles as characters inserted into that perception. The following fragment from CADE’s journal provide us with a leaping-off point into the archive which he entitled himself “…drifting towards (x)….”
“Walking around Elephant and Castle I find myself drawn always back to this same back street. It doesn’t lead anywhere and it is not attractive in any way. But a strong feeling dissuades me from walking down it, despite the attraction which brings me back here time and again. This street has some quality which does not want to be walked-down, but which wants to be seen as an image from one perspective point. It is nothing more than an image from here, and not a street at all.”
CADE, Untitled diary fragment #129 [fall 2012]