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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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    Openness to the traffic of flows - A polytopian stance
    Project: Polytopia, The Total Library
    I am currently reading one of (probably) the best books in the hard sci-fi genre, it appears that somehow it escaped my attention but here I finally put my mind to it and am exploring the intricacies of this ‘funny’ book.
    The book is called Dragon’s egg, written by Robert Forward and published in 1980, and basically is the chronicles of the accelerated evolution of a species known as the Cheela having evolved on a neutron star with 67 billion times the surface gravity of earth, a fact which of course changes everything (read the book, you will not regret it.)
    What I find in the book fascinating is a particular aspect of the lives of the Cheela, specifically the fact that they live a million times faster than humans, and thus all of their evolution happens in human terms between May and June 2050.



    The issue of speed and relativity in terms of duration is fascinating for a simple reason, for it is my view that something very similar, metaphorically speaking, is happening right here and now, partly within us, partly outside of us.

    The part within us, our minds, and the part outside of us, our civilization, are only two of the dimensions within which it is possible to perceive, differences in speed, distinctions of velocity, variations in rates, disparities of pace and ultimately, divergence in directionalities based on these divergences.

    The sense thought I get from current realities, juxtaposed and coinciding is that different philosophies and worldviews are operating concomitantly and interactively and yet because of the differences in speed that I mentioned above apparent contradictions appear to surface when in fact none such are. The appearance of contradictions in fact is one of the hallmarks of the differences in velocity and variations of pace.

    Some of the ideas currently being promoted in various extrapolated spaces of thoughts are on the extreme wing of the fast forward approach, such as certain brands of transhumanism, whilst others, are on the extreme wing of bio conservatism or indeed full fledged traditionalism.
    It is of course quite obvious that most of the current thoughts, based on philosophies of old, react or better yet re-enact certain known paths of intellectual pursuit and thus constitute the bulk of what is aptly termed the middle ground.
    The middle ground in this respect is what can be called ‘the current fashion’ or alternatively ‘the accepted consensus of reality now’. If we take the grand volume of what is the presently congruous we can, without doubt, perceive an amalgam of concepts from science and religion, so called politics and somewhat misappropriated philosophies of life, or of art, of criticism as well as of envisioning.

    As I see it, there is a pattern there, or more accurately a pattern of patterns, a meta- pattern of sorts; a complex and highly volatile transitory coagulation of our civilization history, both in thought and in action. The meta-pattern I look upon now, involves a flow of traffic, or traffic of flows if one prefers, motions within motions, streams of sensations and torrents of thought with no apparent center or for that matter apparent direction.

    The traffics of flows, of ideas and thoughts we can observe, differ from each other not so much by content as by speed, not so much by context as by velocity, in fact looking upon the different kinds of flows with a certain (necessary) detachment from the implied value of each flow, we can see that flows of ideas, mesh and interact, mutate and fertilize each other, giving birth in the process to yet other flows.

    These flows of course have names, pointers and signifiers that apparently distinguish them from their predecessor’s parent flows or indeed from their siblings and eventually from their offspring. What is important at this stage however is to understand that the differences in these flows can be mapped in different ways, using different benchmarks for different purposes, resulting and here is the crucial point, in different kind of understandings of the state of affairs at play.

    For our ability of analysis and parsing to be conceptually sound and integrated within a larger framework of sustainable action we first need escape the freeze frame fallacy.

    The fallacy of freeze frame:

    The fallacy of freeze frame refers to this most common practice of the mind to dissect a flow of events at a particular time T and implying from it about the flow itself. Consider the fact that a particular group of humans in the process of discussion can be seen to differ in stages, first about ontology and or perhaps metaphysics, then about semantics, later about the ideas and finally about the direction they will or will not take. At each point of the discussion if the frame is in freeze, the conclusion will be that the group is incompetent, unable to reach a decision or alternatively is not adapted to the task at hand, if alternatively the group flow is in freeze frame at the exact moment of consensus, the conclusion will be that this has fallen under the groupthink malady and is not an evolving organism.

    It is highly difficult to escape the fallacy of freeze frame mainly because our minds are limited in the amount of flow dynamics that are perceivable per time per space and thus an easy escape route out of this limitation is the freeze frame method. We give or concoct our opinion of a process based on the moment we need give such an opinion, this creates a fixed point of observation from which future points are derived, the frame so freezed becoming a bench mark for our sense thought.

    The fallacy of freeze frame is a fundamental perceptual disability afflicting all of us to different degrees at different times and to my mind is the corner stone of the problems we are facing when trying to understand the state of affairs of the world and how to go about it.

    We are all well aware, I think, that being subject to the necessity of action we use the freeze frame paradigm to create for ourselves a set of values (and from that a set of ethical imperatives and moral actions) from which cathedral we judge the reality we apparently perceive. Said judgment of course leads us to so-called ‘realizations’ or ‘insights’ or alternatively beliefs in our own understanding that we deem both universal and true (we need deem these as such since only if they are universal and true would we have, or so we believe enough justification to muster the energy needed for action).

    The first question we need address if so is why escape the freeze frame fallacy in the first place since it is actually a tool of our minds that helps us make sense of the world.
    The answer is not as simple as we may desire it to be; it is fundamentally a necessary transition to a different kind of mind, a Polytopian mind that sees traffic of flows as the foundation of hyperconnected intersubjectivity.

    The cross pollination of flows within the traffic of flows is the answer to the riddle, for without allowing a directed cross fertilization we end up within one particular flow, oblivious to the relevancy of simultaneous evolutions, and thus miss the opportunity of openness to alternate interpretations of possible outcomes.

    Openness in this respect implies a sort of coherent ambiguity, and fertile uncertainty, an evaluation not of the flow to which we ‘apparently’ belong but of the interplay of flows, and intersubjective scenarios.

    If we are to have clarity of mind that engenders the entanglement of an open posthuman future, the view we need uphold is one of multiplicity of forms and functions, simultaneous visions operating in tandem but on different scales of change and pace of actuation.
    It is in fact a different kind of stance, to which quantification of action releases its hold upon us to permit a qualification of acceptance to the ‘other’; the ‘other’ in this case being not an individual but a flow of events.


    Fostering such a polytopian stance is part of the raison d’être of the Polytopia project.

    shortly to be continued..



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    elysium     Mon, May 2, 2011  Permanent link
    Over the past few days I've been taking down quotes which seem related to what you got to say here which you've posted on tumblr lately:


    The same mathematics of networks that governs the interactions of molecules in a cell, neurons in a brain, and species in an ecosystem can be used to understand the complex interconnections between people, the emergence of group identity, and the paths along which information, norms, and behavior spread from person to person to person. –James Fowler

    The Internet has become our global data ecosystem. It is an evolutionary force in the speciation of humanities’ communication and computation infrastructure. As a result of the ease with which data of all types flows around the global, and with the increasing connections made to this data on a daily basis, our species is on the verge of seismic and profound changes. In just a few decades, the Internet has grown like a developing nervous system, transcending national boundaries, shrinking geographic distances, dissolving geopolitical barriers, and binding many of us together into a single, global network. If allowed to continue its course unshackled by shortsighted power players, then it may become humankinds most powerful, liberating, unifying, and transformational force. –-Who Should Own the Internet?

    Manuel De Landa: “There are, however, other structure-generating processes which result in decentralized assemblages of heterogeneous components. Unlike a species, an ecosystem is not controlled by a genetic program: it integrates a variety of animals and plants in a food web, interlocking them together into what has been called a “meshwork structure”. The dynamics of such meshworks are currently under intense investigation and something like their abstract diagram is beginning to emerge.

    It is a principal aspect of the electric age that it establishes a global network that has much of the character of our central nervous system. [...] Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don't really have any rights left. —M McLuhan


    These quotes stand as a bit of an example of how the internet is an effective engine for the flow. It's connected some more of the dots for me to make my understanding of the what you have to say more coherent. Although while blockage of flow sounds like a good descriptor of what's wrong with much of human consciousness, and while the internet is the most open stream of data we've ever enjoyed, I'm left wondering what kind of amazing stuff is next for technologically augmented information 'signal gain' increase. You know of anything especially interesting?
     
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