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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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    The human species is rapidly and indisputably moving towards the technological singularity. The cadence of the flow of information and innovation in...

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    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    A couple of days ago I laid out a handful of perspectives in Part I of a Manifesto for the Forthcoming.

    Here is the follow-up to my philosophical manifesto for Space Collective:

    Part II

    Mythologies are More Powerful Than 'Truths':

    The human brain is a narrative machine. We compose our story of selfhood from the insistent, subjective tirade of experience; we order the activities and moralities of our tribe, our nation, our creed within grand narratives we call Religions. We do not just tell stories, we are stories, myths of perception strung out by narrative arcs which dip and peak as the events of our lives dip and peak.

    The ability to find meaning in that which is abstract tends from a similar inherent capacity. For millennia humans projected the universe as one domineered by unseen agents, whether the ancestors who played tricks on the townsfolk, or the God Thor who cast thunder from the heavens. These myths came into existence because they were explanatory, and they persisted for so long because we used them to realise the world around us. At the base of every myth is a natural or moral agency, dictated by physical laws and evolutionary processes we were inherently incapable of understanding. Because myths are explanatory in the form of a story, a narrative, then we remember them, we use language to pass them on and distort them over time, our brains run the codes of myth like an ancient computer algorithm which helps a coherent universe pop up on the surface of our conscious minds.

    Science is new. It explains things by reason, by experiment and by trial and error (often subjectively governed) judgement. The enlightenment may very well have brought into being a manner of thought which comes closer to 'truth' than any before it, but the scientific rationalism which emerged does not come naturally to our intellects. To see the world rationally is to overcome the innate narrative drive of the human brain. It is not difficult to find examples of our egocentric, innate understanding of the world:

    • Newtonian physics sees all things as in motion until otherwise acted upon: human caprice sees stationary objects that need acting upon in order to achieve motion.

    • Einsteinian physics sees time and dimension as being relative to the position and motion of an object: human caprice sees time and space as precisely identical from all perspectives.

    • Darwinian biology sees all organic entities as emergent from a process of blind chance, overseen by NO agent and dependant on nothing more than the most basic laws of physics and chemistry: human caprice sees humanity as a domineering force which can control its universe - from the same reasoning it also posits a higher agency than itself to explain its own existence.

    One of the main problems facing the scientific community of today is that the general populous finds no 'meaning' in its enterprise. There is, and never has been, a drive from the rational community to order their percepts in terms of narratives or myths. In fact, according to what I have just said, it may very well be impossible to do such a thing - science is about truth, not about meaning and most especially not about narrative meaning. It might very well be against rational enterprise to compose myth and/or narrative from reason.

    The current stand-off in America between the religiously inclined and the scientifically enabled is a result of this contradiction. If science, rationalism and 'Utopian Singularity Thinking' is ever to make a mark on the masses it MUST reorder itself into narrative forms which innate human capacities can find palatable. The Grand Narratives of Religion, in all their dangerous naivety (see here for more on this), have hold over the populace because they work with the human faculties of narrative and mythology. Ironically it is because of our evolution that the Theory of Evolution is unacceptable to so many minds.

    This MUST change if rational science is to persist.

    In short, any Forthcoming movement to which Space Collective ascribes, needs to develop a new kind of forward-looking narrative shaped mythology.

    Language Enfolds All:

    (Please read Wildcat's thoughtful post on Language as a prelude to this section)

    The reality we live in is one of meaning and perception. Metaphor is the ever shrinking event horizon within which lies the blackness of human comprehension.

    The language you speak can greatly affect the kind of world you perceive. For instance...

    Words in French, German and Spanish have a gender, that is they have either a male of female suffix. In English this seems peculiar, as all words appear to us neutral, but in words having a gender acute variations in the perceptions of native speakers of different languages emerge, thus:

    To test how this affects the way people think, she presented Spanish and German-speaking volunteers with nouns that happened to have opposite genders in their native tongues. "Key", for instance, is feminine in Spanish and masculine in German, and "bridge" is masculine in Spanish and feminine in German. Boroditsky asked the volunteers to come up with adjectives - in English - to describe these items. German speakers described keys as "awkward", "worn", "jagged" and "serrated", while Spanish speakers saw them as "little", "lovely", "magic" and "intricate". To Germans, bridges were "awesome", "beautiful", "fragile" and "elegant", whereas Spanish speakers considered them "big", "dangerous", "solid", "strong" and "sturdy"." - link

    Further still, the kind of language you speak can alter the very causality you perceive in the world around you, thus:

    ...the Algonquian family of languages.... have a wide variety of verb forms, while they lack the notion of dividing the world into categories of objects, such as "fish", "trees" or "birds".

    Take, for example, the phrase in the Montagnais language, Hipiskapigoka iagusit. In a 1729 dictionary, this was translated as "the magician/sorceror sings a sick man". According to Alan Ford, an expert in the Algonquian languages at the University of Montreal, Canada, this deeply distorts the nature of the thinking processes of the Montagnais people, for the translator had tried to transform a verb-based concept into a European language dominated by nouns and object categories. Rather than there being a medicine person who is doing something to a sick patient, there is an activity of singing, a process. In this world view, songs are alive, singing is going on, and within the process is a medicine person and a sick man.

    The world view of Algonquian speakers is of flux and change, of objects emerging and folding back into the flux of the world. There is not the same sense of fixed identity - even a person's name will change during their life. They believe that objects will vanish into this flux unless renewed by periodic rituals or the pipe smoked at sunrise in the sun dance ceremony of the Lakota and Blackfoot. - link

    It is as if different languages emerged from, or manifest, completely different realities. Could it be the case that in order to comprehend the universe better we must learn to accept all the realities these languages convey? Perhaps the ultimate language would be a conglomeration of all currently spoken (and even extinct) world languages - perspective is above perception...

    More on this Manifesto to come very soon....
    In the meantime, please click embedded links for more reading
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    [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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    Perspective makes the single eye the center of the visible world. Everything converges on to the eye as to the vanishing point of infinity.

    ~ John Berger, Ways of Seeing

    The perceiver's position in an architectural, or merely physical space, determines the dimensional imperatives of that person's mental qualia. It is interesting to note that each viewer of a rainbow stands at the centre of their very own optical illusion; that light, once split into its component colours, streams - within the constraints of nature - upon a mathematically defined axis, of no more or less than 42° relative to each perceiver's location. There is no definitive rainbow, indeed no absolute dimension from which one could view a rainbow, a horizon or simply a piece of architectural design. The ethereal qualities of light juxtaposed upon an infinity of possible perspectives extends interpretation into the realm of chaos. Throw into consciousness the essence of 'what it is like to be' (known in philosophy of mind as 'qualia'), and human caprice may very well define the clarification of any meaning as a pure impossibility.

    In art, the act of interpretation grows newer tendrils of abstraction by which to strangle anyone vivacious enough to attempt to verify it – yet attempt to we must. I intend to show that the application of consciousness upon the interpretation of art is what defines it. This definition, in contrast to the kind of definition for words one might find in a dictionary, will not dwell arrogantly upon the assumption that art (or words for that matter) can be 'defined' at all. My definition of the word 'definition' from now on will be to 'add new dimensions and qualities to the universe itself in the examination and multiplication of qualia, thereby giving reality a greater clarity'.

    That the human universe can be defined at all is ultimately a consequence of consciousness. To 'give reality greater clarity' is merely to multiply the 'what it is like to be' or the 'beingness' of any entity or concept. The more these kinds of being are multiplied, the more ways there are to perceive the universe and since the universe itself is nothing but perception, consciousness (in all its forms) may very well take credit as the creator of 'the real'. Just as a greater number of pixels gives an image a higher definition, so any multiplication of 'being' within the universe brings a higher definition to what has 'become'* . That which is perceived may be thought to be a minor segment of a text, a play of light on a skyscraper or a wavelength of colour in a rainbow – what in fact consciousness perceives is a universe being given better clarity in the very act of its perception. An exponential autopoiesis of 'becoming':

    A poem should not be but become.

    ~ Charles Bernstein, Rough Trades

    That kinds of being can multiply is nothing special. Nature itself has blindly found, over the past few billion years of evolution, many new ways in which to 'become' itself. The application of amoeba 'being' lends a different definition to reality than bat 'being'. A bat, in turn, has a sonar 'beingness' utterly distinct from any human, and thus must experience a very different universe from ourselves. Where human consciousness wins out over other types of ‘being’ is in its application of language. Language, in this sense, can be understood as a virus:

    From symbiosis to parasitism is a short step. The word is now a virus. The flu virus may once have been a healthy lung cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the lungs. The word may once have been a healthy neural cell. It is now a parasitic organism that invades and damages the central nervous system. Modern man has lost the option of silence. Try halting your sub-vocal speech. Try to achieve even ten seconds of inner silence. You will encounter a resisting organism that forces you to talk. That organism is the word...

    ~ William Burroughs, The Ticket That Exploded

    ...and like any parasitic virus, language, and its forms, multiply and subsume their host – hijacking its nervous system for their own ends. Consciousness is subsumed by language, therefore the human universe is defined through language, just as part of a bat's universe might be said to be defined through sonar (or sound). To aid in the multiplication of language forms; to bring greater clarity to a universe, humans must apply their language 'being' within reality. Art can be seen as language in a broad sense, but in this essay I will concentrate on those modes of language which apply most fervently to the art of poetry: writing, reading and becoming.

    Here an admission of restraint must be given: in order to throw so many broad terms into my examinations (i.e. art, consciousness, form, language, writing, reading, becoming, etc.) I am tightening the very tendrils of interpretation which threaten to choke me. To ignore the limitations of my own analysis would be to contradict myself, and therefore to void each word as I wrote it. Therefore I will attempt to utilise the methods of one for whom the constant redefinition of his own negation of definition was second nature...

    In his 1977 essay 'The Death of the Author' Roland Barthes argues that writing destroys all traces of the writer. This classic post-modern position assumes ownership of a text to be that of culture itself, finally labeling the writer as an instance of language. "Life" says Barthes, "never does more than imitate the book, and the book itself is only a tissue of signs, an imitation that is lost, infinitely deferred.". The multiplicity of emergent meanings for a text allows readership to become the ultimate act of understanding, thus finally, giving the reader a broader, more holistic power over a text's meaning:

    Thus is revealed the total existence of writing: a text is made of multiple writings, drawn from many cultures and entering into mutual relations to dialogue, parody, contestation, but there is one place where this multiplicity is focused and that place is the reader, not, as was hitherto said, the author.

    ~ Roland Barthes, The Death of the Author

    According to Barthes, the clarification (or 'becoming') of a text involves acknowledging dimensions beyond the plane of the text as expedited by its writer. The topology of writing suddenly loses its Cartesian dimensionality: the constituents of meaning have exploded:

    For the present we can say that creativity is not only the fresh perception of new meanings, and the ultimate enfoldment of this perception within the manifest and the somatic, but I would say that it is ultimately the action of the infinite in the sphere of the finite – that is, this meaning goes to infinite depths.

    ~ David Bohm, Unfolding Meaning

    * (Of course this means that any absolutely defined digital camera image would have to be made up of an infinite resolution of pixels – "I'd like a camera with at least ∞ megapixels please" – true 'becoming' would have to be plotted on an exponentially divergent curve. All infinitesimal steps in clarification are worthy of acknowledgment simply because true definition is infinite.)

    (This piece was originally posted on my site, some months ago.

    For those of you who are interested, read Part II of this piece here:
    The Codification of Artistic Species...)
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