ISBN 978-0-9954550-3-0


Irreversible Noise

Original Edition
  • Paperback
  • 175×115mm
  • 200pp.
  • Norm
Cover Image

A major critical intervention in the small but growing theoretical discourse on the concept of ‘noise’—a discourse in which cultural theorists associate noise as ‘unwanted sound’ with the concepts of ‘noise’ and ‘randomness’ in contemporary science in an attempt to conceptualize noise using notions of alterity, contingency, and indeterminacy that have become the familiar indices of subversion in contemporary critical theory. Wilkins challenges this facile association and develops a compelling alternative. Wilkins shows how it is precisely the conceptual understanding of noise as intelligible constraint that can transform the structure of experience more effectively than the naïve equation of noise with unintelligibility. Irreversible Noise is a theoretical tour de force and a decisive contribution not only to ‘noise theory’, but also to cultural theory, sound studies, and philosophy.
Ray Brassier

Irreversible Noise develops a novel understanding of the theoretical and practical role of the notion of ‘noise’, as a form of randomness, in the humanities. Its multi-level account of constrained randomness contributes to demystifying noise, while giving a novel role to randomness, showing that constrained randomness is a functionally necessary condition of reason and, thus, of freedom. Drawing on concepts such as anti-entropy, extended criticality, the dynamic formation of phase space, the manifold nature of the concept of randomness and its functionality in historical dynamics, it turns them into fundamental tools for a novel analysis of a variety of fields.
Giuseppe Longo

This wide-ranging inquiry elaborates the theoretical and practical significance of the concept of noise with regard to current debates concerning realism, materialism, and rationality. Drawing on contemporary scientific thinking, it elaborates a multi-level account of noise, showing that randomness is an intrinsic functional aspect at all levels of complex dynamic systems.

On the basis of this analysis Inigo Wilkins interrogates the ideological implications of the fetishisation of chance in socio-economics and aesthetics.

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Muti-Scale Randomness
  • The Metaphysics of Illusion: Freedom, Causality and Noise
  • The Geometry of Risk
  • The Complex Texture of Sound
  • Conclusion