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Daniel Rourke (M, 38)
London, UK
Immortal since Dec 18, 2007
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All things would be visibly connected if one could discover at a single glance and in its totality the tracings of an Ariadne’s thread leading thought into its own labyrinth.
- Georges Bataille
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    Manifesto for the Forthcoming: Part I
    [UPDATE: Part II has now been posted.]

    I have some ideas in need of coalescence, in need of the collective attendance of a multitude of minds. Here are some points of philosophical reference I believe are crucial to attaining a true manifesto for Space Collective.

    This is my Manifesto for the Forthcoming:

    Utopia is a Process:

    Utopian beliefs are single-minded and dangerous. Progress is a process, a collective attendance to that which is forthcoming. As Oscar Wilde noted:
    "A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing." - link

    Humanity is more than a referent for a species, humanity is a process of which the individual, and even the similarly focussed collective, is irrelevant.

    This may seem a negative, even hopeless comment, but do please bear with me. 'We' are an idea, a taxonomic conglomerate decided upon via linguistic trickery. The universe does not recognise humanity, nor will it aid us in our quest for transcendence. The creatures that henceforth benefit most from our present collective ideals will resemble us as little as we resemble the bacteria which deliberates in our small intestines. To attend to the future is to admit defeat for the self, for the very reality one persists from within. Utopia is not for us, it is for all living organisms that have amassed to become us and most importantly, it is for all the beings, conscious or otherwise, who will look back upon us as the Neanderthals of their present.

    Utopia as a final destination is mere grandeur and delusion. Utopia is the manifest whole. It is the process. 'We' are Utopia.

    Technological Reliance ≠ Technological Resilience:

    Human culture is technologically founded. In many ways nothing we understand could exist without technology. Technology defines our universe. Language can be thought of as a technology, it is a set of tools which can be manipulated to aid (or hinder) communication between minds. Thankfully, humans had evolved long enough for our capacity for language to become innate by the time we got around to writing down symbols to perform the same task atemporally*.If writing were to disappear tomorrow civilisation would no doubt cope quite well, all be it with a few obvious hiccups along the way.

    Unlike language though, most technologies are not innate. The great thing about technology is also its greatest detriment. Once we come to rely on the superior qualities of life new technologies give us, we lose our connections with the old. This process is exponential. Take for instance the technology of electricity. If global electrical systems were to shut down tomorrow a great majority of Western infrastructure would go down with it. Project this problem to enormous scale and humanity may very well be placing all of its proverbial eggs in one mutherfucka of a proverbial basket.

    To keep moving forward society should not forget its past. Basic survival techniques should be standard in all education; all human knowledge should be stored in multiple formats (carving things in stone really does have its advantages). Society MUST steady itself for the worst if progress is ever to occur.

    * Written language acts as a cultural memory, separated from the temporally located utterance of the spoken word. Whereas speech was/is the ever evolving consciousness of society, writing is the synthetic memory of society i.e. if kept in its original form it does not change over time.

    History Does Repeat Itself:

    Forgive the cliche for this header, but I mean to expand the metaphor therein.

    The universe is a fractal system. Throughout its history reality has managed to convert the simple into the complex on an infinity of levels. To understand where 'we' are heading we need to understand the manner in which our achievements, both culturally and practically, re-form over time and space into macrocosms of their previous selves.

    Here's a very culturally based example which I feel sheds light on much we tend to forget:

    Second Life has grown at an astounding rate. Its user base is in exponential surge, not least because the communities of Second Life have become the journalist's favourite exemplar of the modern Internet-savvy masses. For me though all the Second Life inspired articles and rants on the future of society and communication miss a crucial point: Second Life is very much the same as every culture that has come before. In a digital free-for-all where 'everything is permitted' how do people manifest their surroundings? Why, they build city streets with pavements and town squares: they build apartments and decorate them with wall hangings they buy from a digital designer. Nothing has changed since the first cities in the Fertile Crescent were given their foundations.

    Human culture is destined in more ways than we care to admit. Accepting this is a strength we ought not to dismiss. What came before WILL reoccur.

    The second part of this Manifesto can be read here:
    Part II

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    Rourke     Tue, Jan 8, 2008  Permanent link
    UPDATE: Part II has now been posted.
    meganmay     Mon, Aug 4, 2008  Permanent link
    Your comment about Second Life makes me think, not that history repeats itself, because that cliche has always irritated me a great deal, though I'm sure your making of this point will be be expanded upon in part II, but instead that perhaps something more fundamental needs to change about the human mind before we move beyond the predictable reconstruction of familiar concepts. We've undergone a digital revolution that introduces the opportunity for us to depart from our recognizable physical and mental realities, but somehow the mental constructs necessary for us to operate in the physical world have taken precedence because it's nearly impossible to establish a feedback relationship in a void. How do we initiate feedback relationships that move beyond the established way of things? Well i suppose that's what we're doing here.
    meganmay     Tue, Aug 5, 2008  Permanent link
    In response to my own comment:

    Over the next few years as the internet becomes ever more a totality of culture rather than simply a referent the lines bordering reality, hyper-reality and pure imagination will dissolve around us. I would go so far as to suggest that many generations from now cyber-entities once labeled 'human' will find it impossible to distinguish what was past-real, what is present-hyper-real and what will never be real in the seething masses of datum the internet will have become.

    -the Huge Entity himself

    Rourke     Tue, Aug 5, 2008  Permanent link
    Thanks for the reminder of my (ancient) past!

    I am at present intensely fascinated by some of the questions you bring up. That thin line between our perceptions and our technologies is one we have very little capacity to express and thus examine. I think when we posit technology we forget that everything from the alphabet to writing and text upwards is a technological extension of our innate capacities. We have incorporated the linear expositions of text, of the word as extended memory, of the printed page into our perceptual schema. We are actually now incapable of realising this reality without them. The alphabet transcends its mere encoding capabilities, it is now a technology incorporated into our thoughts via which we have revealed our world for many millennia.

    I think that the internet will go the same way, perhaps even more so. Over the coming decades its evolving structure will encompass us, overwhelm us and subsume us in its depths. We won't be able to posit a world without it because our perceptions will have been built by it. The internet will slide into the background, we won't see it as a technology any more, as an augmentation. It will become more familiar than the alphabet, than text. It will be like language, etching itself onto the microstructures of our brains.

    The feedback you seek is already happening. We're just not capable of perceiving that feedback, just as the first purveyors of the alphabet, or the first cultures to emerge out of the technology of text could not see the realities they were capable of experiencing literally evolving all around them.

    I think the illusion we have of some sort of control over our fates is greater than it has ever been.
    Rourke     Wed, Aug 6, 2008  Permanent link
    There's a TED talk for every idea/ideal: Kevin Kelly: Predicting the next 5,000 days of the web