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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 response to Jonathan Franzen's "Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts":

    The re-contextualization of technological devices within the framework of sexual love is an incredibly fruitful pursuit. This consciousness, taken broadly, enables an erotic reintroduction to everyday life that might be previously unbelievable to the participant. Facets of life one had never before considered relevant can blossom into a sustained arousal, with all of the human work and energy that was directed into the technology around oneself becoming tangible.

    In this light, however, the introduction of material goods into romantic human relationships as symbolic tokens should hardly be considered a negative effect. This widely held position assumes a duality of interaction that must be replaced if we are to achieve a thoroughly multiplicative world. Much as the atomic interactions that produce rich molecules are not simple two-party systems (think of hydrocarbon chains that give rise to life itself), the interactions that are relevant in an ideal world are not merely two-party interactions. Technologies, at their summit, are systems that enable multiparty interaction. Indeed the social constructs that deliver them (through creating desire for cars as tokens of love, in only a single instance), are precisely those that will involve a much greater set of the universe within their production, delivery, and use. Think, in that example, of all the people whose loving energy went into the design and production of the car, and the acquisition of raw materials that enabled its production, and the continued multiparty economic activity that its use will entail.

    The notion that technology is rooted in desperation toward likability is thus accurate, but this is hardly a negative desire. Entities that are closer to the immortal, to the eternal, are those which are most comfortable disrobing themselves of unnecessary self-image and self-definition. Maintaining inefficient parts of oneself is the primary reason for death. Consider an entity that requires eternal existence: what is that entity but something that must necessarily be willing to part with any part of itself that is no longer functional or relevant?

    Perhaps this search for immortality through technology is an extension of a deeper and longer search, that which has been alive in erotic human love since the dawns of time.

    "If you dedicate your existence to being likable, however, and if you adopt whatever cool persona is necessary to make it happen, it suggests that you’ve despaired of being loved for who you really are."

    This reveals naivity. If one identifies the self strongly and securely and necessarily upon what one is at a single point in space and time, they necessarily refuse the ability to grow (to see others as themselves, to see themselves as more than they knew, etc.). Ultimately they refuse the ability to be. Being, as the action of the universe focused through a single given perspective, requires time. If a given self refuses to evolve, it refuses to act, and therefore to be. That 'who you really are' is ephemeral implies one must be loved for what one is becoming.

    The many faced reflectivity of the consumer device is ultimately a fascinating new emergence, and one of arguable consequence. Intuitively, it feels as though for the majority of human history, we have had both relatively close mirrors (in other people, closer to the ones we love, further but not so far away in strangers) and relatively distant mirrors (in sociology, the natural sciences, astronomy, physics, metaphysics/astrology, etc). It is rather difficult (in general, perhaps) to see oneself in abstract fields of study such as these. Technology, Franzen argues, "is really just an extension of ourselves," and thus is much easier to reflect within; it forms a bridge between the human world and the natural world, which for so long have been disconnected by vast oceans of congnitive disarray. Instead of asking for leaps of faith on the backs of enlightened teachers, perhaps technology provides a stairway to integrated recognition of the unity of these vast conscious entities.

    If we can accept that technology is the current face of the infinite in our temporary and mortal world, and we allow that it is an extension of the erotic human love that has defined that drive for its historical existence, we might better consider the intrusion of consumerism in commoditizing love as an ingenious introduction of technology into that world, with the ultimate end goal in sight: to give humanity a simpler pathway to the physical infinite.

    Love does not expose any lies within the techno-consumerist order; what it does expose is a utopian ideal: that all love is flexible, that all love implies an ultimate reconciliation and encodes a rejoinder to grow together. It exposes the desire to share that ideal with all humanity, to reveal it in every minute interaction. Pain would not shatter that utopia; rather, it would be the challenge with which the system could become aware of itself and continue to grow.

    Yes, loving humanity broadly is self-love at a deep level. Deeper still would be to love humanity and its byproducts (such as technology, art, and trash). Further, we could begin to love the constituent elements that enable humanity: material itself, the evolution of life, other beings both alive and dead. And we can carry this forward yet again: love time itself, love reflection itself, love logic and axiomatic structures.

    What is rejection, in this system, other than the honest and direct opportunity for growth? Franzen tells us that "to expose your whole self, not just the likable surface, and to have it rejected, can be catastrophically painful", and this misses the point. You can never expose your whole self, since you would first need to understand your whole self in a communicable context. That is impossible; the self is an endless unfolding, and its comprehension would imply the comprehension of the entire universe at all time. How would this be communicable?

    When Franzen turns his attention to the environment, though, he reveals his deepest misunderstanding of our context: "There was nothing meaningful that I personally could do to save the planet, and I wanted to get on with devoting myself to the things I loved". That planet is you, Jonathan. Those things that you love are, at root, that planet, and they are much much more beneath that. If they think they have recognized the full extent of themselves, they are deluded, very deeply and frustratingly.

    Perhaps this is why Franzen's fascination with birds brought him to a deeper realization: though he never found the ability to connect nature with the beings that were more eminently lovable (and unable to overcome the activation energy required to love deeply the technology that was trying ever so subtly to show him a direct way), he was able to find this indirect foothold to understanding, in these birds. And perhaps it will bring him to take up the cause in a productive way, to prevent the death of those or that which he has found yourself loving, far away though they may be from his empathy circle. Undoubtedly that prevention will involve technology.
    Tue, Aug 16, 2011  Permanent link

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