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Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. (Albert Camus)
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    Fluid Cyberspace -> Commitments to Multiple Essentialities
    Project: Polytopia
    “The deterritorialization of the self is the essential feature that marks human entry into cyberspace. In the universe of infinite connection and possibility the only possible ontology is magical; reality as that which is invoked, the world conformant to will. The techniques of magical will, quintessentially linguistic, require a conscious mastery of the relationship between word and world. At the end of history comes the Word. “

    Ritual and the Virtual
    Mark Pesce

    “Contain yourself!
    “I can’t! I am bifurcating into everywhere!”
    “Well, let yourself flow as fluid silk down the throat of time”

    (From “Spheres of Glowing Minds” –coming up soon)

    The point of course is that for a commitment to be taken seriously, it need passionately introduce into our minds an array of possibilities and diversifications that for all practical purposes allow a multidimensional representation of our nature, a multiplicity.

    Let us start with a movie:
    Akiresu To Kame (Achilles and the Tortoise (アキレスと亀):
    An array of possibilities

    {image 1}

    If you’ve never watched Takeshi Kitano : Achilles and the Tortoise (アキレスと亀 Akiresu to Kame) you are missing on a fabulous piece of visual poetry, an exploration by an artist (played eventually by TK himself) on the nature of art and the nature of an artist. (let it be said that I am biased and a great fan and admirer of Takeshi Kitano)
    Many will not like this movie and I am not even sure what TK desired to portray in this cinematic representation of an artists claim to fame. wealth and audience acceptance.
    However, the reason I am mentioning this film that I watched few days ago is directly correlated to the idea of intelligence and the search for a total re-orientation of intelligence within an evolving playfield (in this case Art), our cultural cyberspace.
    I see in this movie a motion that depicts in visual poetry the seeking individual and his capacity (and willingness) to undergo extreme self-inflicted circumstances for the purpose of what may rightly be called the de-territorialization of the self.

    Actually if we are to follow the protagonist of this adventure what we will find there is a total de-contextualization of the concept of art in which imitation and copying are enmeshed into an inextricable continuum of trial and error with no positive conclusion (apparently so). The artist, Machisu, does not recognize his own uniqueness and in an ironic twist of self-perception the very fact that his uniqueness is unrecognized allows him to experiment with all possible styles (Rothko and Miro, Dubbufet and Kokoska and so on) of painting. In a funny sense I believe that what TK is portraying is the very fact that an artist that lacks essentiality (in the sense of a unique nature) paradoxically is able to explore and express a phase space of possibilities otherwise not achievable.

    {image 2}

    In a certain (and not so funny) sense Achilles and the Tortoise represents an adventure of non-discovery (socially and financially apparently a failure) but seen through the lens of intelligent exploration the oscillating paradox becomes clearer and clearer. It appears that what happens to the mind in question is an endless voyage, at each intersection becoming more extreme, finally not even able to self-destruct and relinquishing the path/goal. But to my eyes the artist in this case has correlated his non-discovery (of his so-called unique essentiality) to a process of a much greater discovery, namely, that he does not have an essentiality as such but is able to contain all essentialities.
    The idea of connecting all forms of exploration both inner and outer into a coherent whole is not new, but the manner in which we may describe at present the multi-phased approach is changing. And this film definitely does induce in the critical observer a fresh approach to the concept of de-territorialization. What I saw in this film is a representation of a commitment to multiple essentialities.

    {image 3}

    Commitment to multiple essentialities

    The idea of multiple essentialities implies a fundamental approach to life in which no pre-programmed model or a conceptualization of a model is already present in the mind of the committed. In fact given our multi-modal manner of beingness based on an evolutionary and open-ended approach to the exploration of our minds we may correlate the idea of commitment to multiple essentialities to the idea of variation and diversification in the process of evolution. Moreover if we are to relinquish, as Deleuze suggested, the perception of tree-like hierarchical structures in favor of the rhizome conception we may finally get rid of the idea that one essentiality covers all of our needs, both as individuals and as a culture.

    This kind of perceptual approach is not for the faint of heart, neither is it for the non-courageous, far be it from the moment of emptiness to be re-absorbed into consensual everyday like conscious awareness. In fact we may need go as far as saying that to reach a state that we rightly can call a state of independence we need relinquish completely the idea of one essentiality and embrace the conceptual borderline of instability (found on the edges). This is an exceptional state of mind, an accomplishment of the first magnitude. For the exceptional accomplishment of independence and self-openness is a process of multiplying essentialities requiring the acceptance of the evolved state of affairs of the world (that of multiplicity).

    {image 4}

    Freedom, liberation and independence can be said to be found on the edge, on the borderline of experimentation in which our minds explore the diversity of our perceptual existence.
    The perceptual richness encountered in cyberspace in fact allow our minds a new degree of freedom (implying pleasure) in which we are de-territorializing ourselves.
    It is a pleasure unlike any other to partake in the cyber hyperstream of multiple realities, a cyber experimentation in which we become the artists by mingling with the art itself, not knowing what the program is all about, for there is no set program.

    By being committed to multiple essentialities we claim a claim, a very special kind of claim:
    We claim that we do not adhere to a unique pre-programmed view of the world and ourselves in it. We claim however that we are committed to the very sense of the flow of exploration, dynamic, all-inclusive and endlessly open.
    The Polytopian stance which I espouse, denies the weight and authority of the past, allows the significance of the moment and implies a critical reading of the state of affairs of our conscious aware inherent multiplicity (a multiplicity of knowledge, intelligence, emotions and feelings).
    The hyperconnected reality of cyberspace conjugated with our inner virtualized multiplicity will eventually generate a re-orientation of our perceptual cyber-existential desires.
    The future of our multiple states is thus a great unknown, but it promises to be interesting in many many unanticipated ways.

    Inventing the future requires giving up control. No one with a compelling purpose and a great vision knows how it will be achieved. One has to be willing to follow an unknown path, allowing the road to take you where it will. Surprise, serendipity, uncertainty and the unexpected are guaranteed on the way to the future.

    George Land

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    Ashalynd     Sun, Sep 13, 2009  Permanent link
    Following the ever-bifurcating path is per se both the goal and the reward. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on that subject - and for introducing the interesting movie.

    What makes us choose for this or another road every time we reach the crossing? Why can't we choose both? If we should restrict ourselves to reach anything at all (and why?) - where does it comes from, the wish to approach everything, from stars and galaxies to the thoughts inside the others' brains and to the tiniest particles which may or may not be real? How to balance the wish to reach out with the need to reach something ?

    Many questions, no answers...
    nom the puppet     Mon, Sep 14, 2009  Permanent link
    @ashalynd: that's where mind uploading and experience sharing come in. We can choose both paths as many times as we're capable of turning on another "brain," but there will be left overs from a metaphysical standpoint. The things you can't get from others' minds or aren't capable of exploring yourself from time or feasibility constraints are going to remain unknown unless we develop some sort of infinite computer.

    Another solution: If we find out that our universe can be computed faster than the current rate it's running at, then it may be possible to run multiple scenarios from the past or eventually compute further into the future than we're presently aware, that is if you could gather the necessary information (which would be the monstrous task of finding all the information in the universe at a given point in time or if turns out that our universe is reversible, then you can just infer the previous states) and if you had the time to wait for answers. here

    it sounds like the longing for breadth and depth is just the nature of the beast.

    Wildcat     Mon, Sep 14, 2009  Permanent link
    Ashalynd: "What makes us choose for this or another road every time we reach the crossing? Why can't we choose both? If we should restrict ourselves to reach anything at all (and why?) - where does it comes from, the wish to approach everything, from stars and galaxies to the thoughts inside the others' brains and to the tiniest particles which may or may not be real? How to balance the wish to reach out with the need to reach something ?"

    I think the concept of reaching out and the concept of reaching something should be transmuted into the concept of embracing, a kind of absorption if you like. The point is to relinquish the apparent separation of goal and journey, or decision and choice of path. If as I suggested in the above post we have no inherent essentiality as such, we may be able to transform into a kind of all embracing entity. In this case the reality of choice becomes a fluid dance and motion in cyberspace. The wish (if wish indeed it is) to approach all and everything is fundamental to the interconnected reality of all life, I don't see a problem here, merely a coherent realization of the actual state of affairs of our conscious aware apparatus?
    Wildcat     Mon, Sep 14, 2009  Permanent link
    nom the puppet: "that's where mind uploading and experience sharing come in"

    the concept of mind uploading is a tough one, not to mention that we do not as of yet have a science that can accurately understand what it is that can or should be uploaded if and when such technology will be feasible and eventually available. but having said that I think that an interactionist approach is or may not be the best solution even if we did attain such a technology as mind uploading. those pesky "metaphysical leftovers" as you call them are indeed the most difficult issue to resolve. the question as I see it is not one of infinite computation capability but the coherence of one's identity in a universe in which all enmeshes simultaneously.
    Fast T     Mon, Sep 14, 2009  Permanent link
    Wildcat, thank you for a moving entry.
    The idea of multiple essentialities implies a fundamental approach to life in which no pre-programmed model or a conceptualization of a model is already present in the mind of the committed.

    That is a starting point that I suspect is hardly ever the start :) and that is why I love this post! For in a unique manner, cruising through this piece of interaction connects me with a journey of exploration that affords to cross ways with this statement without necessarily locating this so important statement at any fixed point. And perhaps that is the kind of commitment that applies here.

    In the movie trailer there is a reference to unconditional support. I understand that to be the raw material of one's commitment, in fact, of one's state of mind. In a way, put graphically I visualize this state as a horse harnessed behind the carriage, or perhpas better yet, it stands for an engine and a vehicle enmashed together. So intuitively, I resonate strongly with the mind-scape and state of affairs presented via this post.
    Still, i would have like to better understand the use of the concept of multiple essentialities, as you apply it.
    Wildcat     Tue, Sep 15, 2009  Permanent link
    Thank you Fast T-
    you managed to pinpoint with accuracy the main theme of this post and I appreciate much this fact. The concept of multiple essentialities is one that I see as highly correlated to the Polytopia project; by definition a Polytopia implies multiple (poly) topos or multiple states of affairs to which we need bring our full attention and passion, getting there is only partially the problem, the issue of course is to deregulate the myth of the coherent self. We do not have a central point of existence, a one essential reality manufacturing process, we have many such modules, each and every one of these as essential as the other, each legitimate on its own account.
    Multiple essentialities, as a concept, implies, that be it inside our heads or outside in the world (though for some of our modules of perception there will be no difference between the two) the real is neither “one” nor “hierarchical” nor “ordered” or consequential. The real and the virtual are also considered in this approach as modules of perception, which can co-exist as an extended perceptual realization of openness.
    Put differently, multiple essentialities is a manner (of thought-of minding) of accepting the Rhizomatic revolution in thought procedures as endlessly open, dynamic, multidimensional and co-extensive with all other objects of identity or realities state of affairs.
    So yes the vehicle and the engine are enmeshed, and the fuel and the road and the goal and the time and so on and so forth.
    Olena     Wed, Sep 16, 2009  Permanent link
    Wildcat, this concept of
    the deterritorialization of the self
    is really interesting, thank you for this post.
    However, I'm not sure I fully grasp it. At first it sounded like relinquishing individuality, (well, mostly when you mentioned the character in the movie) but after reading the whole thing & your comments, it seems more like what you said in the last -
    We do not have a central point of existence
    ... is it both? The idea reminds me of the observations of the quantum world; that an electron has a wavelength rather than a singular, point-like location at any time, except when observed. Is it something like that, or have I missed the point?

    Or is it, rather than relinquishing individuality necessarily, more the idea of letting go of any pre-conceived ideas about what reality actually is?
    Wildcat     Thu, Sep 17, 2009  Permanent link
    Thank you for the comment Olena

    Actually it’s partly all three of the above and more.
    Specifically the concept of the deterritorialization of self is a kind of minding that dematerializes the conceptualization of the myth of self as a coherent consistent and centralizing tenet of our self descriptive process.
    In some fashion there is no doubt that the dual (and quite ambiguous) nature of the quantum world resembles the deterritorialization of self, however I think that this analogy is probably insufficient to contain the multitude of our mind apparatus.
    In fact it is not only that we do not have a central existential reality-constructing center, it is highly likely that in our evolutionary path as minds embodied we have developed (and are increasingly developing) a multiple module system. In this fashion we are able to entertain a large number of simultaneous (and at times contradictory) essentialities and or realities operating in apparent tandem.
    In some senses it will be accurate to say that letting go of pre-conceived ideas or the pre-programmed model of the world and our relation to it is an initial step in order to deterritorialize our selves.
    Deterritorialization in this case can be seen as both a freeing and aggregation of resources (of perceptions, of emotions, of intelligence and so on) for the purpose of increased exploration of interests and re-orientation in the phase space of possible worlds.
    As I see it a commitment to multiple essentialities allows the mind to relinquish obsolete ideas of the self as authentic or as governor and widely opens the doorway to dynamic, multidirectional and multidimensional views of the world and our place in it.
    Olena     Thu, Sep 17, 2009  Permanent link

    Thank you for explaining! I understand better now.
    It seems to me that this viewpoint ultimately rejects the absolute...
    Curious about where this idea will go, if it might be adopted by a greater percentage - I don't know if very many modern humans would be comfortable with self-deterritorialization.
    But, it's incredible to think of what could be achieved if that door were opened.

    Also I think that right now it's much easier to think in this way, isolated, than it is to actually live it. To be human, to need food, shelter, and therefore, money or some means of sustaining ourselves... Like, Maslow's hierarchy of needs. So many of those basic ones aren't being met - it's difficult to think about transcending the set world-view when one is hungry and tired.
    And then, even if one is free to think, it's been true in history that those thinkers are still isolated, since at first the rest of the world thinks it's foolish.
    How to trust oneself, when everyone is against you?

    Or does that come first? Should we first change how we see ourselves and the world, in order to take care of those needs? Should The Hierarchy be actually turned upside-down, or rather, re-written?

    *Also I just looked this up. Should've done that earlier! I'll just leave the link here:
    Ashalynd     Tue, Sep 29, 2009  Permanent link

    I think the step 0 is to realize that "everybody is against you" is a misunderstanding which can and should be fixed. I believe that every human being can understand everybody else, if he or she will. In everybody there is a creative energy which waits to be unleashed. That is what makes us humans.

    We are all connected, and as far as we know, there is nobody else but our fragile community of 6 (well, almost 7 now) billion people, each of them unique. We are like pieces of the puzzle scattered around. The only possibility to view the big picture is to join with the others and share our ideas with them. Internet and social networks give a great opportunity to look into one other's thoughts, something that in earlier times was way more difficult to do, and to think together.

    Good point about basic needs of many which are still unanswered. And then, in many cases it's not even food, shelter or some other material needs but just a human touch. People turn desperate when they feel themselves alone, it's not a natural state for us.

    Thanks for the wiki link on deterritorialization! Deleuze is on my reading list already :)
    Wildcat     Tue, Sep 29, 2009  Permanent link
    @Olena - some very good points. nevertheless, I do not hold Maslow's hierarchy of needs to be a reliable model nor a coherent one (besides the fact that it was proposed in 1943). Maslow's hierarchy of needs is (patently obvious!) hierarchical and in a fashion pre-programed, and if there is one single existential reality we all know it is that "needs" vary across time and circumstances. Needs and motivations are both fluid and undetermined (or vague if you prefer), slowly revolving around certain given general tendencies, but to assume a fixed order or motivations (in the sense of prevalence and importance) I believe is erroneous.
    I hold the view that our needs and motivations are projected upon a multidimensional dynamic and probabilistic phase space, oscillating between multiple directions (multiple essentialities).
    put differently then, there is no reason to assume that just because one is hungry and tired, her own integrity or freedom will not take precedence. it is not only that hierarchy in the arboreal sense should be upturned, it should indeed be relinquished in favor of the rhizomatic approach (or indeed a Polytopian approach ).

    @Ashalynd- if you've never tackled Deleuze I warmly suggest starting by reading:
    The Deleuze Connections by John Rajchman

    en passant, let me say that this discussion is both enlightening, important and the subject matter of my next essay. thanks
    Fast T     Tue, Sep 29, 2009  Permanent link
    Thank you Wildcat, very informing discussion here, and indeed i for one am looking forward to the next essay. Before that, I would like to dwell a moment on the usage you make of Commitment to multiple essentialities.
    As said in one of your comments above:
    Put differently, multiple essentialities is a manner (of thought-of minding) of accepting the Rhizomatic revolution in thought procedures as endlessly open, dynamic, multidimensional and co-extensive with all other objects of identity or realities state of affairs.

    I wonder if you will accept that the term 'commitment' in this context applies for a manner of cohering reality as/of multiple essentialities (as an open ended dynamic rhizomatic nature)? As it seems to me that 'committing' is a further step to accepting, it calls in my mind for a sort of 'making over' of all the complex live event of self-description and if so, co-extensive description. In this sense, I take commitment to multiple essentialities as a pro-active stance and indeed minding.
    Wildcat     Tue, Sep 29, 2009  Permanent link
    Fast T, I am not sure what you mean when you say “making over” as a further step to accepting. Commitment and acceptance are not necessarily correlated; they can be seen as co-extensive concepts, in that the actual reality of our embodiment exists within an ecological framework (or phase space) of virtualities.
    If we take the extension to stand for (possible-potential) essentialities then the act of committing resources to explore the virtual extension is the actual representation of commitment to multiple essentialities, in turn resulting in an increase in intelligence.

    If you look back at my definitions of intelligence here I wrote : “Intelligence can be said to be a process then, a continuous process of orientation and re-orientation, an iterative, recursive, restructuring of the very meaning it is applied to. Put differently, intelligence is the term applied to the reading of coordinates of implications when applied to a particular context. Moreover, since intelligence is always in motion, by definition it will disturb the silhouette of the context in which and to which it is applied. That in fact is the meaning of open ended (ness), for by eliminating the conceptual rigidity of the context, intelligence (by its very motion), opens, as it were, the context to fresh paths of potentialities”
    I definitely agree with your statement here though:” In this sense, I take commitment to multiple essentialities as a pro-active stance and indeed minding.”
    There is no doubt that a proactive stance is required if we are to not be subjugated to the vagaries of the flow.

    A question that comes to mind is this: " what are the mental and-or emotional requirements to be able to sustain a coherent multiple essentiality commitment?"
    Ashalynd     Tue, Sep 29, 2009  Permanent link
    May be, in the very distant future, people will get the ability (or possibility) to truly connect each other minds, thus getting insight into more areas than it would be possible using the capacity of only one brain, and to use additional "hardware" (whatever that would be) to "run" their minds. If this would be possible, the whole concepts of "ego", "body" and other ones will have to be redefined... Otherwise, what's the purpose of the endless curiosity if it clearly can't be saturated by the resources available to everybody by nature? (Unless there exist some yet-unknown way to increase one's mental capacity without technological crutches... our current knowledge doesn't allow make any statements about it though).

    I wish I could see the society in which it would be possible to open your mind to somebody else's with the same simplicity as we now can share our private blog with our friends...
         Tue, Sep 29, 2009  Permanent link
    Some actualization of complete and total ego destruction happening perhaps simultaneously across the entire human race during some point in the future yielded through some combination of cyber/psycho technology and a social movement which has yet to be clearly defined in popular consensus reality may yield "Positive absolute deterritorialisation". The social movement and technology are more than half way to reaching the tipping point. It's not just a matter of waiting - We're the kind of people who are making it happen right as you move your eyes across these words hopefully understanding them. I think that's pretty much the most awesome thing ever.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    Fast T     Wed, Sep 30, 2009  Permanent link
    Wildcat, I will try to clear my meaning by applying a quote from your quote:) regarding Intelligence.

    since intelligence is always in motion, by definition it will disturb the silhouette of the context in which and to which it is applied.

    That disturbance of the silhouette, is what I referred to as “making over”, and in fact, I understand Commitment to multiple essentialities as intelligence endowed with sufficient stability of direction, simultaneously liberated from the over-ruling historical restraint of self-preservation of single essentiality.

    As to the question of mental/emotional requirements in sustaining a coherent multiple essentiality commitment, it surely deserves an extensive attention (hopefully it would be included in your next essay). For starters I'll dare phrase it in metaphorical terms as - The ability to respond to the excitement of one's most intimate and far reaching stretches of self-description, as their edges are engaged; Taking pleasure in partaking of a flow of interactive coherency while it 'shift-shape' on the go.
    Olena     Thu, Oct 1, 2009  Permanent link
    Wildcat & Ashalynd - thank you for your answers.

    And Fast T, I have to add quickly to your making-over concept, it reminds me of a saying that went something like:
    a mind stretched to a new idea will never resume its old shape.

    Ashalynd, I hope we will be able to mind-share in some ways. It could make empathetic communication much easier, and hopefully create a more sincere dialogue generally.
    You said,

    I think the step 0 is to realize that "everybody is against you" is a misunderstanding which can and should be fixed. I believe that every human being can understand everybody else, if he or she will.

    Yes, I think the will to do so is the problem. And, the understanding itself can be.
    "Everyone against me" is a terrible paradigm to live with,
    but how can the idealistic truly come to a consensus with the jaded, or one "set in his ways".
    Or are we not meant to?

    Wildcat, I agree the heirarchy is outdated, but that is why I introduced it:

    I agree with what you said about the precedence of imagination despite (perhaps unfortunate) circumstance, but especially from the older crowd, I often hear the 'realist' response: "Ok, your romantic futurist fantasy is nice, but I have to go to work and make money now so I can live." There's no inspiration in that, and no real desire to think because just working for survival is enough.

    What I really want to know is, how can one respond to that? On a personal level, as well as, with what action? What should we be doing, as we "soldier on"?
    I'm thinking about what was said of history - that we are able to concentrate on art and learning because our fathers fought and worked for our freedom to do so.
    I wish I could remember who to attribute that to.

    we all know it is that "needs" vary across time and circumstances.

    I hope that with time we can change those needs and evolve into a society where the freedom to really cultivate imagination and intelligence is more prominent.

    Some of these phrases are very new to me, like the Polytopian approach, the multiple essentialities... I'm still trying to /really/ understand what the future implications of accepting deterritorialization will be... I wish I could better visualize your individual views.
    Nonetheless, totally fascinating.
    Ashalynd     Fri, Oct 16, 2009  Permanent link

    Sometimes we just have to be patient. Many people hold on to all sorts of wrong ideas because it gives them the feeling of security. You can't force them to let go of it, unless they decide it themselves.

    We are looking into each other's worlds via small windows often covered with dust and grease; we have little idea what kinds of beasts might be lurking within. Getting connected helps people to become less alienated, but it is all very new and we are definitely still going to make mistakes on this way.

    Nevertheless: no tension - no progress. May be people should have different opinions to create some impulse for the humanity, as a whole, to move without rushing or slipping? When we talk to a person and fail to convince them, it's often a sign that something is missing in our mutual pictures of each other and an opportunity to learn more...
    meganmay     Sat, Oct 17, 2009  Permanent link
    This is a pretty overwhelming thread of comments but i think Wildcat's question:

    " what are the mental and-or emotional requirements to be able to sustain a coherent multiple essentiality commitment?"

    is at the core and one of the most interesting questions posed by the Polytopia project. How does this idea break down our previously held notions of what is it so be a human being? And, as is so often the set-up for sci-fi novels addressing protagonists from the past, when you imagine such a question in hindsight, it seems like the most absurd construct imaginable.

    I think the paradigm of individuality is highly suspect, and from my experience theories of extended mind are directly observable in daily life, you are constantly absorbing and readjusting, more or less fluidly, in response to your environment. But this type of communication relies on proximity, and the barrage of information that comes from such a short range physical encounter is liable to deteriorate the fidelity of the signal. Perhaps the problem then, is how to reproduce and fine tune the electro-chemical exchanges we are already capable of and amplify them for use in long range communication. It seems almost like such an amplification of empathetic capacities would have some applications in the tourist industry and peace talks simultaneously.

    Ahem, well that went a lot farther than I was originally intending to go, my original intention was to reply to OLENA's hierarchy of needs comment with a gif I made a while ago...for the sake of not polluting the thread with aforemention gif i link

    Also, I think DMITRI puts it all in some nice concise terms :)