January 16, 2014 at 10:31AM
"invention [is] an action of the future on the present." #readingToday

In the section of "Du mode d'existence des objets techniques" following his discussion in that book of the Guimbal turbine, [Simondon] links invention to an action of the future on the present. What can this mean? The veritable moment of invention, he says, is when a circular causality kicks in. In the case of the Guimbal turbine, it has to do with the potential for the oil in the turbine and the water around it each to play multiple roles. The water brings energy to the turbine, but it can also carry heat away from it. The oil carries the heat of the generator to the housing where it can be dissipated by the water, but it also insulates and lubricates the generator, and thanks to the pressure differential between it and the water, prevents infiltration. There are two sets of multifunctional potentials, one in the water and the other in the oil. The moment of invention is when the two sets of potentials click together, coupling into a single continuous system. A synergy clicks in. A new 'regime of functioning' has suddenly leapt into existence. A 'threshold' has been crossed, like a quantum leap to a qualitatively new plane of operation. The operation of the turbine is now 'self-maintaining'. It has achieved a certain operational autonomy, because the potentials in the water and in the oil have interlinked in such a way as to regulate the transfer of energy into the turbine and of heat out of it automatically, allowing the turbine to continue functioning independently without the intervention of an outside operator to run or repair it.

(Moon+ Reader Pro v2.3.4, Gilbert Simondon: Being and Technology)