The Weather Front. Front and War
The American mathematician Elias Loomis, who described the famous geomagnetic storm of the late summer of 1859 when there occurred an exceedingly brilliant display of the Northern Lights, first formulated the hypothesis of the existence of weather fronts as early as 1841. But it was not until 1919, after the First World War, that the Norwegian meteorological school adopted this term and concept, while the US National Weather Service began to mark fronts on weather maps only after the Second World War. It is hardly a coincidence that the history of the concept “front” unfolded directly in parallel to the two world wars. The concept “front” presupposes, in the first place, a planetary, global scale of thought; on the other hand, it is inevitably associated with a clash, conflict, furious onslaught of air masses; but also with a complex strategy, codes subject to deductions, experimental hypotheses, and forecasts.
The mapping of weather fronts repeats, or at least is inspired by, that of military fronts, borrowing its techniques of representation. The militarized imaginary of the front: dynamic forces, polemos, agon, clash. Battle scenes. In this way, the front is at once a loaded but also a symptomatic concept. The military concept of front itself, associated with a frontal surface, with a dynamic curve representing the disposition and dynamic of forces, is in this sense adequate for our thesis on the ontological polemos. Another use of the concept of front, referring to a political movement, can also be understood in the same perspective: Fatherland Front, National Front, Left Front. Obviously, the political concept of front likewise presupposes not just organization based on substantial representation of a particular political identity, of a particular group: “party”, but organization of (dynamic) forces. In the front burns the polemical Heraclitian fire.
The cloud: a celestial battle scene, clash, agon, revolution. The war of the clouds, the revolution of the storm.
The Erotic Front
The front: not just a battle situation but also an erogenous surface. Ares and Eros.
The front: an ontological erogenous surface. An erogenous surface of the event.
The element that envelops, that is a front, not a resisting body but the very resistance of the sensual pleasure that overwhelms, exposes, an ultra-erotic front of the total – and minimal – “incorporeal” – caress.
The cloud as an incorporeal body-front.
The cloud is at once potentiality and actuality – that is why the cloud is inhabited by forms: it is the very metamorphicity of the form that carries a storm, that is, transition of the dynamic form into an attacking actuality.
Front – Attack. The attacking actuality as an alter-actualization of the front.
Representation of Force, Force of Representation
Thus, weather fronts are traditionally understood as dynamic formations, divisions of air masses which envelop the planet and to which we owe the phenomenon of “weather”, its dynamic morphology and persistent change. Today meteorologists know well that the front is much more a representation of forces than an objective structure. Fronts are the result of the movements of the atmosphere, of its vertical dynamics. They are an effect of the vortical motion of fluids – the apeironic vortex rediscovered by modern thermodynamics. Fronts are the trace of the polemical contrasts that are cut into the vortex; that is why they are a representation of forces.
νέ The front is, on the one hand, a representation/ visualization of forces, and on the other, their effect. On the one hand, it is a concept of dynamic, and on the other, a dynamic of the concept.
Of course, the front is a representation, but it is also necessary to construct the immanent consistency of the conceptual front. The very question – the question about the front in this case – is an immanent consistency of the front of the concept, of the front that is dynamically figured/unfurled in this operation: a conceptual nebula.
The Cloudy Edge
The cloudy edge is fringed with gold, with topaz, with silver thread; no, it isn’t a landscape by Claude Lorrain or Jacob van Ruisdael. And yet it is there.
Does the cloud have an edge? What is a cloudy edge? How could these swirling balls, these wispy whorls, these eerie whirls, these feathery curls be an edge? Isn’t the edge a limit/boundary?
No, the edge is a place where spaces, times and modes meet.
The edge is a knot that does not bind but frees, it is not a monolithic immanent technique entangling an encountered body, it is a crossing of the external surface like a body of encounter: dimensions, modes.
The Front-Edge. On Celestial Distortions
θ The front is an edge at which actuality and potentiality come into contact.
Here, however, we are not speaking of contact on a two-dimensional surface, nor even of a section of planes or intersection of surfaces, but of the relation of the two sides of a complex surface. A Möbius strip, a Möbius front.
Thus, the alter-concept of the front is in opposition to the dichotomic view of potentiality as a substantial resource and of form-energy governed by entelecheia, which “sublates” potentiality.
θ The edge is the topological expression of effectiveness – the mode of alter-actualization. What we call effectiveness is an alternative process of actualization that does not reduce but expands potentiality.
At the edge, potentiality transforms itself, increasing its power and, in this way, expanding the horizon of the actual.
θ Effectiveness: an alternative process of actualization that does not reduce but expands potentiality.
θ The event is the sudden expansion of the horizon of the actual: the transformation of the expansion from a quantitative into a qualitative mode. A qualitative expansion of the horizon of the actual.
θ Horizon of the event; a meteor (that crosses it); an evental cloud/a cloud of the event.
The cloud: a nebula of the event.
The front: an erogenous surface of the event.
θ The effectiveness of time is an event-potentiality, an edge of actuality.
θ We shall call front the site of effectiveness.
θ Front, persistence of change.
Ontology of the Front
The front is a sedimentation of forms which, being past, possess both potentiality and actuality. They are deposited in time as sediments, as mat- ter of forms which is itself formed, folded into reliefs – forms. But sedimented time is not exhausted time; it is sedimented insofar as its potentiality is the potential of a returning or re-actualizing actuality; a possibility which is not guaranteed a priori, but which is active in the retrojection of the very moment of actualization, a possibility whose vector always propels and intensifies its own potentiality. Thus, the sedimentation of forms is also an active front that draws the celestial and terrestrial relief of the present, the saturated, neither empty nor full space of the transparent air.
θ The cloud: anachronism/hetero-simultaneity of form. Its complex temporality.
The Sedimentation of the Cloud
At this moment, after the afternoon pump of sleep, the sudden awakening in the other space-time, the banal after the extraordinary, but also vice versa, Città looks like a lair of clouds, like a landscape of cloudy forms, like compression of time. The hill of the ancient town on which clouds recline, over which they watch or pass or linger, as if the hill itself, overgrown with buildings, proliferation, extension, historical sedimentation of life, mineralization of collective human time, has become a landscape, plane, relief of the subject of the cloud, its shadow, support, accomplice; as if fast connections and slow time are on the same wavelengths, are the same. The clouds think the hill or imagine it; they certainly dream it, they certainly make it stand. The clouds stand as a form of thought on the hill, reasonable chaos, disastrous beauty, our stellar affect.
Excerpt from Boyan Manchev Clouds. Philosophy of the Free Body. Translated from the Bulgarian by Katerina Popova, Sofia: Metheor, 2019 (2017), Chapter III: “Meteorologies. Lightning, Storm, Front”, p. 118-127.