Digital Universe: New Media Morphs the Memescape, by Iona Miller
“We are compelled by the quantity of available social and political facts to learn a new visual language for mastering the inner dynamics by the outer.” ~McLuhan, New Media as Political Forms 2-3
Life is short; but art is long -Hippocrates
"I am the prolific,
you are but the sea
into which I cast
the excess of my fires.
The Energy within me
that burns and churns
the infinities that consume me,
you can never but imperfectly see,
for I AM the creator"
-Blake, Heaven and Hell
"One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself."
"Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art."
-Leonardo da Vinci
"It is here, at this event horizon, that we, the human species, evolve into a realm where the interface boundary between the real and virtual, the organic and the synthetic, become seamlessly infused into an irreversable, ever evolving symbiosis of our own creation, and what evolves henceforth." -Charles Ostman
"I rebel, therefore we exist" -Camus, The Rebel
SCIENCE-ART MANIFESTO 2006
New Media Morphs the Memescape
By Iona Miller 2/2006
From Global Village to Chaosmos
1929: "But the fact remains that, so recently that most people have not realized it, the Earth has become ONE place, instead of a romantic tribal patchwork of places.... What has fact on its side is still this strange synthesis of cultures and times (which we named Vorticism in England) and which is the first projection of a world-art, and also I think the clearest trail promising us delivery from the mechanical impasse." - Wyndham Lewis, "A World Art and Tradition", Drawing and Design Magazine, February, 1929.
1946: "But I should perhaps add, before concluding, that just as eclecticism as a policy would find its justification in a new synthesis, so, in the case of an individual artist, his personality will all the time be creating a personal synthesis ...When all the cultures have been digested , we shall become a new cultural creature: an Earth Man."--Wyndham Lewis, Towards an Earth Culture, The Eclectic Culture of Transition, 1946
1960: “Experimentation has passed from the control of the private artist to the groups in charge of the new technologies. That is to say, that whereas in the past the individual artist, manipulating private and inexpensive materials, was able to shape models of new experience years ahead of the public, today the artist works with expensive public technology, and artist and public merge in a single experience. The new media need the best artist talent and can pay for it. But the artist can no longer provide years of advance awareness of developments in the patterns of human experience which will inevitably emerge from new technological development." - Marshall McLuhan, Report on Project in Understanding New Media, Part VII(Exhibits), p.i, 1960
2003: "It is now possible to probe the role of politics within the vision of communications beyond media. Particularly now the political element within communication is of the very essence of the process of creating probes and percepts that will ultimately lead to the decentering of the global megalopolis. And this must be done with the awareness that the 20th century launched a "new science" a "poetic science" that will permit analysis of the interplay of contrapuntal oppositions within the cosmic chaosmos--- the post-global village." Donald Theall, ParaMcLuhan and Poetic Exploration. 2003
ARTIST'S STATEMENT: THE QUANTUM PAINTBOX
STATE OF THE ART: The cry of Post-Postmodern art is "NOMO POMO: Stop! We've had enough!" We're full of appropriations, sampling, graffiti, data glut, quick-cut image glut, new media and new protocols. We’ve seen so much cool it’s left us cold. We've Flashed into a collective spasm that verges on panic. We can't fight or flee the technological juggernaut, and why should we? The price of entry to this Brave New World is surrender of your belief barrier. We can use new media as our medium for self-expression, joyously making technological and experiential works, body-based works, and mythopoetic works. They aren't machine-made; they are informed, considered executions of our vision, not just mechanical programs or aesthetic accidents. Art connected to Source and the zeitgeist of its times has a living taproot in the matrix of evolution. There is as much unlimited digital aesthetic content as there is in nature. Our works "work" when they work themselves through our culture, based on that culture's underlying psychological need. They become meaningful if perceived as carrying revelatory weight that somehow illuminates our collective lives. They may not be "true", but good things come of this generative vision, reaffirming and celebrating our humanity. To be art, it just has to be significant, reflecting or steering culture. As artists, we use our own experiential vision to create perceptual embodiments in our medium of choice. We can still take a fresh look at the world, inspired by the entire spectrum of human artistic endeavor, without resurrecting or imitating the past, but taking it that strategic step further with contextualized elements. We have attained a degree of technological sophistication to open most, if not all, of the new realms to the creative process. Unexplored media in the quantum paintbox include truly tactile virtual reality, and various levels of induced altered awareness, such as hypnotism, which assault as many of the senses and emotions as possible in order to break open the door of the five senses and drive our audience into the infinitude beyond, newer vistas of participatory experience and expression. Soon artists will be designing new bodies, new senses, and synthetic environments. The path of our unManifest Destiny clearly leads toward a transhuman biological imperative in the evolutionary eventstream.
STATE OF THE HEART: Higher art must be intensely personal while being universal and universally accessible. It must show refined knowledge, understanding and respect for the art that has come before to enrich those around us. Much the same can be said for an artfully and heartfully lived life. We can apply a similar strategy to our spirituality, drawing on the best of what the past offers while keeping our practice and service contemporary and relevant. Our lives become multidimensional artful expressions without frames, embodied in living Light. Process-oriented spirituality is eclectic and intensely personal. The connection we have with the inspirational Source that nourishes creative life is the same source that sustains our spirits and funds our compassion. It is a deep well from which we can drink at will, the abundant lifesprings of our essential being. The Romantics, arguably beginning with Blake, turned art into a kind of substitute for religion. The East emphasizes a mystical-magical orientation, the West a humanist-rationalist POV. Romanticism is an essentially gnostic spirituality, a Mystery religion. But now there is no intergenerational priesthood to have our visions for us; we have them for ourselves. Rather than anti-scientifically considering cognition and technofacility an anti-artistic dirty little secret, digital art and multimedia embrace the fusion. There is no Romantic terror of human cognition nor need for anti-technical transcendence with direct interface on the horizon. Knowledge is power...over yourself. Mind your mind; control yourself with self-awareness and self-responsibility. There is no artificial distinction between the pursuit of knowledge and self-knowledge and aesthetics. Beauty is an affair of the heart but speaks to our whole being.
Key Concepts: DigI/0sophy; No Naked Free Lunch; Hypermedia; White Noise; Obsolete Reality Tunnels; Cliches and Archtypes; Beyond Belief; Virtual Reality Check; Breaking the Spell; Boundary Free Creative Edge; Metamedia; You Turn Me IONA; Bioholography; Technotopia; Kinetic Field of Dreams; New Media; Venture in the Slipstream; Figure/Ground Switch; Byte Me; Lumonics; Paramedia Ecology; Anti-Mystery School; Recycling Consciousness; Metamagic and Technoshamanism; Truth Values; Dissonance Resolution; Digital Universe
2006: POST-POMO DIGI/OSOPHY. What Picture of the World do we need? How can we imagine it into existence, realizing there is no perfect world? Reality is the ultimate medium. To some extent we are all “reality-hackers” because we concoct unique worldviews about self, others and world. We learn ways to make the system work for us, but often fail to notice how it works on us, too. We can now make the electrons dance with Science-Art, and soon, moreso.
Two generations of scientists and engineers were inspired by Star Trek to create what was envisioned there, in an idealized future, and we got cell phones, non-invasive medical scans, the PC, and someday perhaps a Holodeck. On the horizon is Real Fantasy VR full immersion simulation, nanotech subatomic assembly and repair, neural biochip computer interface, cold fusion and/or free energy devices, intervention in the germ line, pharmacogenetics, and healing with quantum bioholography. Low intensity laser therapy (LILT) is already approved for pain control and tissue repair, and promises tissue regeneration. Biotech is poised to take us into the posthuman era of global engineering.
Arthur Kroker, cultural theorist, delineates a dehumanizing vector: “what we traditionally have meant by human perception, (vision, insight, ethical judgment, discriminating between reality and illusion) has been effectively shut down, almost surgically replaced by the virtual vision machine of the militarized imagination. We are suddenly rendered vulnerable to the new virtual myths about the supposedly hygienic character of posthuman warfare.” Information warfare (PSYOPS; Agitprop; psychotronics) is bloodless but just as pernicious.
We live in a complex physical and social structure, historically located in space and time. Kroker suggests we develop filters against such psychic infiltration. He suggests that in radical crisis the individual must courageously refuse to assent to totalitarian power. The destiny of individual freedom depends on maintaining critical ethical judgment and a clarity that can filter out propaganda and rebel against it. He seems to suggest being a rebel with a cause, a novel notion in the anarchist pomo world.
A post-Postmodern movement (Science-Art and Know Brow art) is outlining a new ethic, as one counterpoint to the postmodern message, which rejected all utopian ideals and humanism for cultural relativism, alienation, and disillusionment. It is based on the fundamental nature of the zero-point vacuum. This plenum is an untapped source of virtually infinite free energy potential. ZPE is the physical basis of a negentropic paradigm. It infuses us with a new form of optimism based in evolutionaryism rather than survivalism. We can, for example, have an optimistic spirit without insisting on perfecting society; we can prioritize social safety nets putting people’s real needs above ideology and corporate cycles of business and war.
Although postmodernism claims opposition to the arrogant values of the world order as it exists today, this rather hopeless view never offered positive advice for future generations. It fosters ambivalence, ennui, and resignation over the healthy self-esteem of recognition for accomplishments rather than negative attention from "acting out". This attitude is ironic because we lose some of our humanity toward our fellow beings and it has left a craving for attention from a continuously preoccupied world.
Postmodernism ratifies trauma and drama, offering no new meaning, encouraging no search for identity. It considered humanism and any idealism painfully banal; but is it any better, any less predictable once you know the rules of its transgressive game? How "bourgeois" will humanism be once humanity is posthuman? We realize science hasn't and won’t solve today's problems and remains poised to complicate existence further. We must appeal to our own humanity to “Save the Humans”.
We already have freed ourselves from established order with transgression, emotion, intuition, fantasy, contemplation, mysticism, eroticism, and eclecticism, even magick. We claimed the subconscious and elevated the trance state; we've recycled the entire iconography of human history. We've appropriated, sampled, and graffitied our global cultural heritage. We should have integrated the lexicon of both the rational and irrational by now.
Instead of anarchy, what's wrong with being free AND humane, turning our spirituality back to the real world? Can we find our humanity through apolitical ambivalence, pleasure-seeking narcissism, without identity, purpose, or attachment? This question is acute since we are among the last generations of purely organic humans. Science is meddling in changing human nature as well as the blueprint of life.
We are facing unprecedented challenge as a species. Biotech is on the verge of revolutionizing our species for good or evil. It's one thing to know about futuristic tech that can transform society, and something else to continuously adapt to it. Who will help us if we don't help one another? We are facing unprecedented challenge as a species.
It is one thing to know about futuristic tech that can transform society, and something else to continuously adapt to it. Who will help us if we don't help one another? We'll still be here, just not quite human anymore, with obvious benefits and some subtle, physical and spiritual harms. As spiritual orphans, we are vulnerable to the resurgence of old archetypes and stereotypes.
Maybe this is why New Age prophets claim history ends in 2012. Maybe that is the official end of our "human" history. History can’t really end till science ends. Military apps drive most of the technology upgrades. Mechanistic augmentation is already here from the heart transplant, pacemaker, and prosthetics, to the hearing aid, and beyond. Then there are the media extensions of our nervous system, from computer to cell phone. Ironically, we're fighting a posthuman war that recently destroyed precisely the artifacts of the dawn of human civilization in Mesopotamia and Sumeria.
Meanwhile, marketers are on the verge of deploying HyperSonic advertising, which aims an aural laser at your head and drills an advert wormhole into your thoughts and biophysical reactions. Hypersonic sound is inaudible to anyone standing outside the beam. Tightly focused ultrasound (HSS) can hit a single person in a crowd 200 feet away. Pitches will be matched to items on the shelves. Your purchasing ideas won't be your own and you won't know the difference. The frequency will put you in a receptive alpha state and sell you at the same time. You're a sitting duck; they are inside your head. HSS is also being incorporated into consumer electronics for direct sound TV and music.
Hyper-space even makes common time and space obsolete, eliminating customary boundaries. This nihilism reflected the prevailing skepticism of the late 20th Century, with it's meltdown Millennial Fever and, but hardly reflects life moving well into the 21st Century. It substitutes an ideological Truth in the vacuum it created by rejecting existential truth for functional truth. In the end, how alive or lively can we be without ideals and love?
The Information Age is obsessed with meaning and lack of meaning. The relationship between sign and meaning is complex. At this stage, most Postmodern art is more symptomatic than memorable, more eclectic than revelatory, more predictable than ironic. Private artistic universes, such as installation and performance art, are obsolete, because now we are all performers in the world of new media. Their predictive element is gone. Everyone stars in his or her own reality show.
In the end, Postmodernism is just a body of complex academic theory without much heart or compassion. But we need to find a sociological way to fund that art, heart and compassion in disaffected youth who have been psychically abused and disenfranchised without spiritual hope for the future. A broader view shows that more than one thing happens. The most progressive thinkers can fear the future they envision, and the most anarchistic person can care deeply for his or her peers. So why hide behind an outmoded trendy academic philosophy, which shaped the 90s but now is just another mask of tattooed conformity?
Reality can be manipulated through physics and technology, through cultural engineering, through media, through hypnosis, through creativity, through contagious ideas, agitprop, psychological propaganda and misdirection. The global dispersal of illicit and pharmaceutical drugs, weapons, and consumer goods is not unrelated to the secret war for your mind, which ranges from economic and sociopolitical objectives to overt spiritual manipulation. If you are an end-user, you are the final link in a causal chain of supply and demand driven by brainwashing.
Democracy went extinct in a hostile corporate takeover. Corporate raiders are now gutting the US economy just as they did the Third World nations. Religion and metaphysics have been hijacked as tools of manipulation of large populations. Marx said as much last century, calling it the "opium of the masses". We might say the same now for plasma TV, X-Box, Play Station and even the web.
Likewise, much of the so-called New Age consists largely of numbed-out dilettante idealists: blue-hairs, beamers, and bliss bunnies. Your cherished beliefs, focus and attention are the most potent weapons of a system gone mad. The battle for your mind is a competition for your screen, including the internal Theater of your Mind. Soon it will be the race for your neural interface. To the extent you are a passive consumer, they have essentially won. If you have otherworldly concerns, you have abdicated control of the only reality we can know: this one. Someone else’s ideas are playing your strings.
DIGIOSOPHY is a metaphysical perspective, a philosophy with its own technopriests, structure of unseen realms (virtualities), subtle bodies, energy/matter fields, technological metaphors (systems, processing, software, networking, interface), rituals (protocols), and visions of the future of mankind. Its rite of passage is a golden ticket to the 21st Century. It may or may not be a human survival technology since its very nature is leading inexorably toward transhumanism. However, it is a form of culture that creates its own context, process, and content.
We've already fused our nervous systems with electronics, essentially making ourselves cyborgs. Next comes the biochip implant, the transducer/biology interface that will be able to automatically modulate mood and regulate the body more optimally than our metabolism. Then comes its first cousin, the nanites to repair and restore the tissues and battle intruders. The inevitable future of medicine, communications, data management and nanotech can only make it more so. The interfaces for computer and communications tech will become less and less noticeable and more organic, a seamless interface between user and information.
The digital universe consists of a matrix of 1’s ad 0’s; input and output: I/O. Likewise, our subjective experience consists solely of Input and Output. Human beings can’t be reduced to purely mechanistic descriptions. Still, the maxim "garbage in, garbage out" holds in both organic and mechanical logic. Often we generate our own garbage internally, playing on our own nervous systems with self-generated signals, self talk, emotional reactions, and self-defeating patterns. Negative patterns both arise from and take root in the lacunae of our unconscious. But faulty ideas take root in both the rational and emotional parts of our mind.
Biology and information converge in bioinformatics. Information is generated by the interaction of systems, composed of matter/energy. Consciousness is generated by the integration of information in special conditions. For each individual, a large part of this information naturally comes from the social/cultural environment. Information integration is focused on brain processes. However, the brain is an interactive system that develops and functions with the body and environment.
We are subjected to philosophical, religious and political propaganda continuously. Culturalization colonizes us at the belief system layer of psyche and infects our self talk and self-image from birth forward. The same process happens at the national and multinational level. People are controlled and manipulated through their belief systems, often based on the most outrageous primary assumptions about how things work. But what if they/we are completely wrong? Our beliefs condition how we think, feel and act.
But our beliefs are recursively conditioned by centuries of cultural programming and mythic patterns that control and manipulates entire populations, socio-politically and spiritually. What if your most cherished beliefs about your spiritual life were undermined with less glamorous revelations about the manipulation of human nature? Why do we seek Truth, and more importantly, why do we seek it outside ourselves in some mysterious authority or mystical signs?
We have to learn how to stop gobbling down propaganda, consumerism, and phony beliefs and make ourselves immune to such manipulation because the onslaught is virtually relentless. Why is the Information Age riddled with gurus? Different classes of belief diseases poison not only what we think, but also HOW we think. Our beliefs about belief are the deeper problem.
We need to build our psychological immunity to such psychotropic infections with DIY mind control. Organized arrays of opinions on economics, philosophy and theology battle for our human minds, seducing and then abandoning us when their false promises fail to manifest. But perhaps if we believe we can, we can solve the problems we claim are unsolvable because of our stupefication, without resort to “higher powers”. We have to focus on what these arcane and banal beliefs deflect us from thinking about, learning to cope without mental crutches. Propaganda misdirects our attention down a dead end path.
First we have to reclaim our brains and our true power of manipulating and regulating our own nervous systems because beliefs work through punishment and reward and the thrills of discovery and belonging. They work by playing a neurotransmitter symphony on our sympathetic and parasympathetic systems of sensory overload and deprivation, our enthusiasm and ennui. The neurochemistry of love works through the same pathways creating addictive patterns that rivet our focus in delight and obsession. We need to learn some measure of self-soothing and self-care.
We’re supposed to love Truth, yet there is none. We’re supposed to love Beauty but we are drugged into a zombified oblivion by the narcotizing false standards of consumer culture that would homogenize us all. We’re supposed to love love itself, which science reveals as an obsessive, addictive process. The more we are calculatedly instructed to be freedom loving the less we can realize it. If that doesn't numb you, they give you Prozac. Shareholder values control your life, the plutocracy, the oil-ogarchy, global corporate feudalism. We are stuck between myths and the system, the decaying American Dream and unaffordable, non-sustainable globalization.
Even though it's an entertaining idea, let's not go down the cinematic black hole that claims we're storage batteries for alien life in the digital Matrix. The tides of human history are sufficient to program most of us into a myopic self-absorbed stupor. Everyone is missing the Big Picture because their attention is waylaid by survival, mindless entertainment, or cultural and religious myths. Just try working yourself out of that labyrinth.
Self-organization and self-steering provide alternative dynamics for the subjective experience of will in Chaosmos. We think we are autonomous, but consciousness studies cannot confirm free will or True Will. We may tell ourselves we have intentionally aligned our will with cosmos for some greater good and experience "cosmic flow", but that could be a bigger fantasy than The Matrix. You may as well rage against the Machine. As long as sociopolitical forces anticipate your next thought you are conditioned to think that way. We think we experience free choice if the determinants are hidden from us. What, if anything, makes our discontent "divine"?
Free Will is arguably as improbable as Free Lunch or Free Energy, according to today's Science. If it exists, we can't find it or tap into it at this time, except conceptually. But we like to speculate and dream about these potential freedoms, which could magically fulfill our desires, security, and power needs. THEN, we might feel "in control". But we fear we aren't in control of our lives except in small ways; the world at large is completely different than we have been led to believe. And freedom remains a "potential". The structure of digital information is decentralized, heralding the end of cultural and individual control fantasies.
Nobody controls anything. It's so complex, everything affects everything else, and we can't anticipate, plan for, or escape it all, despite our intentions or the quantum-mind magic buzzword, "intentionality". Perhaps we seek a domain of control of our lives and health and futures precisely because we feel so OUT of control. We see the flux of chaos and sense the fear and pain in its wake.
In his theory of the virtual class, Pomo social and political theorist Arthur Kroker raises this fear to double irony, to hysteria, to spasm in his reflections on technoculture. In 'Hacking the Media', he says "We like the notion of overidentifying with the feared and desired object, to such a point of obsession that you begin to take a bath in its acid juices. You travel so deeply and quickly in cyberculture that you force it to do things it never wanted to. I try to live my philosophy through cyberculture."
The mind is a factory of illusions, therefore disillusionment. The directed mind also has the capacity to SEE THROUGH its former illusions. We are constantly under the influence of subliminal and overt messages, both internal and external, that create natural trance states and associated beliefs. They color our self-image, relationships, worldview, existential and spiritual beliefs. They self-generate signals that attempt to fill the existential void with some repertoire of multisensory iconography, the linguistic and visual grammar and vernacular of a belief system.
Metaphysics is more than an umbrella term for eclectic spiritual practice or a spiritual study of the Arcane, magick, and hierarchies of altered states and Unknowable Truths. It is the domain of philosophy. In physics it means that which by its very nature is beyond physics, beyond physical corporeality and observability and experimentation. In thought, truth passes as the resonance felt when an old opinion marries a new fact. If it performs this function for you, you consider it “true”; you vibrate with the bliss of recognition, the “ring” of truth.
But metaphysics has been fused with the gnostic lie: The fundamental idea being that there are no knowable ideas, only Mysteries which some elite people have been given the key to and others haven't. God likes some and doesn't like others, and that's all there is to it, and we know who we are, and we know who you are. Like Parsifal in the mythic struggle of the Grail Quest, you have to ask yourself, “Who do these things serve?" Then follow the money. Some myths are worth believing; they have a cash value.
Again, it is well to notice what your attention is being misdirected from while pondering the imponderables in the echochamber of religions. The whole arena is a tableau of magician's misdirection. While you became drowsy digesting the gluttonous banquet of the global cultural content of the collective unconscious something else is going on in the world. You have to ask, where are these ideas really coming from; where did they originate, and what was their functional purpose in society? The real questions is WHAT IS IT PREVENTING YOU FROM THINKING ABOUT - WHAT OTHER COMPELLING PERSONAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES?
Passion for unattainable Truth and Beauty is just as big a deflection as the narcissistic pragmatics of ambition, lust and greed. They can both be carrots to chase. Both naturalism and pragmatism may be doomed by the exponential acceleration toward a transhuman technofuture. Manipulative intervention is possible at multiple points in these belief cycles to reinforce them. In the end, they are concepts of ways of being and becoming. The history of metaphysical ideas is riddled with political and social intrigue. They are deployed to strengthen and manifest downright feudal agendas. There are many new names for old ways of thinking and being.
Ontology is the philosophical investigation of existence, or being. It may be directed towards the concept of being, asking what ‘being’ means, or what it is for something to exist and/or what exists?’, or ‘what general sorts of thing are there?’ It is common to speak of a philosopher’s ontology, meaning the kinds of thing they take to exist, or the ontology of a theory, meaning the things that would have to exist for that theory to be true. All seekers have these basic assumptions about reality based on their experience and worldview.
Epistemology describes how we know what we know and what it is subjectively like, metaphorically. It is concerned with the nature, sources and limits of knowledge. There is a vast array of views about those topics, but one virtually universal presupposition is that knowledge is true belief, but not mere true belief. Our own personal epistemological metaphors are how we describe our subjective experiences to ourselves. They condition our experience, but they can be morphed in therapy, through trauma, by propaganda and enculturation.
Metaphysics is a broad area of philosophy marked out by two types of inquiry. The first aims to be the most general investigation possible into the nature of reality: are there principles applying to everything that is real, to all that is? We can abstract from the particular nature of existing things what distinguishes them from each other, and what can we know about them simply because they exist?
The second type of inquiry seeks to uncover what is ultimately real, frequently offering answers in sharp contrast to our everyday experience of the world. Understood in terms of these two questions, metaphysics is very closely related to ontology, which is usually taken to involve both ‘what is existence (being)?’ and ‘what (fundamentally distinct) types of thing exist?’
Even the philosopher with a low opinion of the prospects for traditional and "woo woo" metaphysics can believe that there is a general framework which we in fact use for thinking about reality, and can undertake to describe and explore it. We can inquire into our most general patterns of thought, and the nature of things themselves only indirectly, if at all. Perhaps it does imply that there is a small but fairly stable core of human thought for it to investigate, but this collides with Postmodern thought which rejects meta-narratives.
When we waken from one of these philosophical dreams into another, we find the crumbling 'truths' were simulations or simulacra all along. What felt authentic, even sacred, at the time is revealed as a sham. A change of heart correlates with the revisioning. The belief's charge of divinity came from the believer's attribution, not its inherent qualities. It is now revealed as a projection.
We have scientific explanations for most of the phenomena that were considered divine powers until a few decades ago. Pre-scientific explanations usually included magic or divine intervention. We've plumbed the galaxies and universe back to the beginning of time, cracked the codes of life, and the workings of the brain. But we can't explain ourselves, much less how we are frequently duped by our subjective experience - or our interpretations of that experience.
Our environment is no longer more mysterious than the unsolved Mystery inside ourselves. We've consumed subject after subject in science and metaphysics in a feeding frenzy. But, we still haven't plumbed the depths of our own consciousness, which is riddled with paradoxes and weird properties. Our sense of Self imposes a sense of unity on our morphing essence, but science can't find this core self in our hardwiring. The "I's have it" and try to make sense of what the other "I's" are doing.
Consciousness eludes both scientists and the common person, but we remain sure we exist, even though physics has shown that the basis of all existence is quite ephemeral. The world of objects has disappeared in the waves of a quantum magic wand. So-called Reality is not at all solid, emerging from the primordial Nothingness beyond the mystic veil of biological and inorganic corporeality.
Nothing Matters. Nothing has been the same since science convinced us we DO live in a vacuum (fluctuation). The ideological equivalent was the diversified relativity of Postmodernism, a bleak vision which can be summed up as the philosophical, intellectual and aesthetic equivalent of "Been There; Done That".
NO NAKED FREE LUNCH: There is no Common Sense; it is the least common attribute. There are plenty of compulsives, sociopaths, toxic narcissists and hyperactives. Illogical reasoning abounds; critical thinking is virtually nonexistent. Intuition works no better though it is trotted out as buzzword and viable alternative. Often intuition means "anti-rational" or "anti-scientific" to those who "trust" it. They can recite a litany of how it has worked for them, conveniently overlooking times it did not.
Intuition is described as a mystic resonance, and zealously defended, but is essentially an emotional argument tied to "felt" sense. I'm not saying we shouldn't listen to intuition; it is a basic way of apprehending, but why is it being reified now? It's another way of pretending there is choice and control; in other words, a form of denial of reality. The fantasy of meaningful intuition is a way of seeking divine connection, mystic signs, confirmation and validation from the Beyond. Meaning has imploded into digital binaries of electronic society. Reality has imploded into hyperreality in life and art. Imagination is reality.
What happens to our social instincts in the age of media? Nothing is as it seems at "face value". Metaphor is a linguistic and visual shorthand of primal sensory experiences that help us map and understand domains of experience. Something stands for something else. When metaphor is a transaction between two concepts, interpretation of each concept is changed in the catalytic process. They trade meaning. Metaphor creates and expresses rather than reveals similarities.
HYPERMEDIA: For the simplest example, digital art can be a copy of a photo of a painting, that is further tweeked into a reflection of the artist's vision in the theater of the mind. Where photography stops, digital art begins it's fractal reiterations of reality. So the Digital Art image or icon is a copy of a copy of a copy of the original. It bears only a surface resemblance having become hyperreal, what Umberto Eco might call an authentic fake, a recombinant commodity. Multiplied stylized images take on a life of their own, shattering the grid of representation.
There is an implicit aesthetic in our experience, and in our virtual experiences. We are hyper-connected yet perhaps less intimate than ever in our technological disembodiment. There are many brands of technological determinism, from utopian to neo-conservative. The utopian 'global village' is replaced with the hyperreal simulation. (Deleuze, Guattari).
Likewise, cultural life has become a hyperreal parody of itself, in the arenas of new media, class, science, politics, celebrity, money, sexuality, power, work, relationships, health, madness, and values. There is no empirical science, just subjective relativism. The virtual class is invisible, dispersed. Cyberpunk is stuck somewhere between resistance and arrogance that everyone "will be assimilated" or become merely obsolete eaters.
Neither the artworld nor spirituality has escaped this flux. Both are full of self-styled gurus and pundits. Classically, the means employed by fakirs are simple misdirection, hypnosis and Psychology 101, which seem to gain in effect as they are divinized and employed beyond the consulting room. After all the psychobabble, vergiberage and bafflegab, we don't need more interpretations or programming; we need to WAKE UP.
Instead of promoting human-centered value systems, fashionable buzzwords twist their meanings often into the functional equivalents of their exact opposites in New Speak. We go to war to insure a peace that never materializes. Our 'salvation' comes at the expense of the whole biosphere; 'rapture' justifies rape of the planet. Human values are touted as reasons to infringe on our autonomy and civil rights. Love means hate; peace means war; security means corporate slavery. Health means mechanization, hybridization. Democratization means corporate looting and exploitation. "Sick" means cool; "Peace Out" notices there is certainly none within us.
There is a subliminal war being waged for our minds, which the Not-Sees would like to hijack for their agenda. Democracy has crahed. Culture only requires a few progressive or innovative thinkers, and a vast army of passive followers who can't or won't think for themselves. Those who don't passively follow the groupthink are labelled weird or eccentric, dancing to a different drum. "Eccentric" means you use your brain instead of letting an external phenomenon condition your brain. The more "conscious" you are, the more eccentric "they" consider you. Well, maybe "they" are boring and predictable.
WHITE NOISE: The cacophonous sumtotal of all frequencies and symbols is white noise. Our culture is stratified by classes (elite, intellectual, bourgeois, wage slave) and racism. The same psychological dynamics, prejudices and misapprehensions prevail in the jumbled philosophies of the spiritual arena, aka the "spiritual supermarket". Metaphysical beauty hides the rotting corpse of new age thought, the eclectic pastiche of incompatible decaying and ruined abstractions.
Seeking a root in today’s creatively evolving culture, many look backward and start digging in the fertile soil of perennial philosophy and gnostic thought. Maybe it is fertile because it contains millennia of conceptual shit, faulty restrictive beliefs. So what do we resurrect when we recursively adopt bits and pieces of outdated philosophy extracted from their native cultures? The sampling and remixing of previous cultural forms.
Others take their cues from psifi Utopias or dark futures. Punk may be edgier, but is oppositional, and therefore stuck in a 19th century dialectical struggle with conventionality and the banal, expressed largely in transgressive and anti-Christian iconography. Post-apocalypsis has become predictable Gothic neo-tribalism, an ancient-future fusion, a pagan occult revival, cyberpunk.
Eclectic philosophical fusions possible are as numerous as drops of water, and some of them are outright rackets. Their roots are all intermingled in our collective heritage. In many cases, the so-called Wisdom of the past is over-rated or an unworkable program in today's world, but nostalgia draws us back like an undertow. Does being dead or discarnate make one smarter? Just how many incarnations or spiritual rebirths does it take to WISE UP? How many bytes of revivalist or transcendent Pie in the Sky does it take; how many trips down the rabbithole?
OBSOLETE REALITY TUNNELS: Tim Leary and R.A. Wilson called them “reality tunnels” while McKenna dubbed it an archaic revival. Tunnelling makes us “see” in a certain way; it creates our often myopic beliefs about self, others and world at any time. Belief wormholes that take us to imaginal or potential universes don’t necessarily match up with Reality. They are a way of sticking our metaphysical heads in the sand, giving our spirits a premature burial in the past.
Physics and art face similar problems with imaginary universes that do not match up with this existant one. Even Renaissance art was trying to re-capture some values from the past, technologically. It’s good to ask yourself just where you think you are going? Where do you go from here?
You are already living a Hyperreality. Debord calls it the Spectacle; Baudrillard calls it the Similacrum. Beliefs are false promises to restore a mythical truth underlying the simulation. Belief maps create the fabled territory that claims to be salvation but is a well-disguised trap, mentally and spiritually. Do you opt for magical concepts that are tricks of the mind or the charm of the so-called real? Imaginal representations are metaphysical simulations, virtual realities. The map isn't the territory of the mindscape, even if it's a good map.
Metaphysics is a dead end; all points of reference are liquidated by the universal solvent: chaos. Likewise, the preferred terrain of popular religions. There is a short-circuit in our psychological position. There is no touchstone of reality or truth, beyond the simulation of the sacred, the content of sacred technologies. We have mass murdered our own models, creating a power vacuum. Only the simulation of power masks the political fiction. Democracy has disappeared from the landscape leaving an existential vacuum. Capitalism has mutated into virtuality, a theater of advertising.
Baudrillard concludes, "It is no longer a question of imitation, nor of reduplication, nor even of parody. It is rather a question of substituting signs of the real for the real itself; that is, an operation to deter every real process by its operational double, a metastable, programmatic, perfect descriptive machine which provides all the signs of the real and short-circuits all its vicissitudes. Never again will the real have to be produced: this is the vital function of the model in a system of death, or rather of anticipated resurrection which no longer leaves any chance even in the event of death. A hyperreal henceforth sheltered from the imaginary, and from any distinction between the real and the imaginary, leaving room only for the orbital recurrence of models and the simulated generation of difference."
CLICHES AND ARCHETYPES: Are you creating a unique reality tunnel reflecting your aesthetic like an artist, or a haphazard victim of dogmatic programming and conditioning? McLuhan said the archetype is born of the encounter of cliches. Michelangelo artistically forces intuition to metaphysical exhaustion. The technique of metamorphosis consists in arresting processes in full flight in the act of infinite fractal reiterations. Each new medium is a cliche that burrows and borrows and barrows, or dumps, earlier cliches. Media as environments are quotation devices for psychic and sensory hooks that stick in the mind. The electric media retrieved the unconscious, the old cliches of tribal man, and scrapped private identity and consciousness built up over centuries of repressing the corporate and tribal life, etc.
Jung suggests that archetypes are dynamic energetic forces, universal templates of generic human experience, that act as lenses on our perceptions. In ancient times they were revered as gods and goddesses. They subvert and control our personalities unconsciously, playing out their eternal stories in our personal mythology. To the extent they dominate our personality we fail to carve out a unique individuality. Often we consciously identify with and idealize some over others, such as the Goddess revival.
The myth of the eternal return of the repressed feminine is the emotional appeal behind the popularity of The DaVinci Code, despite its historical inaccuracies. The humanist, rather than feminist perspective realizes the feminine has been here all along, working in its archetypal ways, suppressed or not. You never hear a self-styled Feminist man asking how to balance his work and family life. We don't really "get it" till we have transcended the essential dichotomies that actually perpetuate the struggle. In terms of gender reunion it is a biologically-based power struggle. So, yearning to free the repressed feminine, rather than just being a free human being perpetuates the split rather than resolves it.
There are no ideals and no ultimate negation. Those choices just buffer us in archaic perceptual cocoons, rather than drawing us into the vortex of developing futures. McLuhan pointed this out long ago, saying, "Utopians and anti-utopians are always obsessed with a period preceding their own. Orwell's 1984 happened in 1930." - MM, Take Today, p.75.
Most of New Age culture is either Gnostic, Theosophical or Utopian, sometimes in a very saccharin kind of way, sickly sweet if not toxic, smug and phony; full of New Age “guilt”, parroting, parody, and put ons. Sincerity just means you believe your own delusory pitch. Many speaking careers are based on charisma, the cult of personality, rather than strong content; a triumph of style over substance, validated by "True Believers", consumers. It is based in promotional culture, not necessarily its spiritual content. But no one seems to want to admit that blunt truth; it is the ghost in the shameless self-promotional machine. Often both leaders and followers build their whole personas around their beliefs, adopting the jargon, clothing, music, friends and lifestyle of a particular subculture or cult.
Of course, it is good to root in tradition, but we can get caught in the web of living metaphors. But reality tunnels create tunnel vision, a subconscious filter of belief-congruent experience, confirmation bias. In the womb we recapitulate the phylogeny of species, and after birth our beliefs evolve following the historical arc. Yet, we never stop in our arc to live like a reptile, for example.
R. Buckminster Fuller pointed out that rulers in the past made it virtually mandatory through the rules of academic advancement that the smartest minds became specialists knowing more and more about less and less, thus missing the Big Picture. In this way they sought to suppress their own overthrow by those more intelligent than themselves by containing their thought-processes. This system creates stricture in scientific and artistic freedom. Much the same is true of the culture of corporate seduction and consumerism.
The human mind is a competitive memescape. Small numbers of metaphors can define whole systems of thought; metaphors which are "fuzzy" are described with a truth scale from Zero (absolute falsehood) to One. Its 'normal' to have our desires shaped by the social grid and social codification (groupthink), but it makes us neurotic.
The effect of pop culture is conformity; even our subcultures are homogenized and reappear over the years in an infinity of fractal forms. Pop art is an oxymoron since it cannot fulfill the promise of art to deliver us from the conformity of market forces. The 'original' becomes a fiction; nothing is original since it is all derivative. But, like fashion, it may reflect the zeitgeist of the moment, and include the individualized touch, the artist's stamp of style.
Everyone is a fundamental slave to the system because virtually no one can ever fulfill their desires. If you think you are happy, it may just be the bliss of the "comfortably numb". There is the saying that those who forget or do not know the past are condemned to repeat it. But, in the post-postmodern world, what hasn’t been done? And done to death probably as good or better than it can be redone? Where is the unexplored territory?
BEYOND BELIEFS: Neurotheology has shown that spirituality is a natural phenomenon, hardwired into humans as a biosocial survival strategy that bonds groups with common beliefs and goals, personal and collective. This current runs so deep that for the majority of people, nothing is more important. It infuses all life passages with Presence and meaning in animism, shamanism, polytheism, and monotheism, even science-ism. We believe in belief even over uniformity of belief. But there is a deeper causal vector than beliefs, rituals, customs, commitments, and sacrifices: evolutionary value or fitness. It is the source of mythmaking, morality, sociality, and redemptive values.
Belief systems and paradigms provide rigid structures, the matrix of belief, we can use as our medium for self-expression. They allow us to investigate existence in conventional or unconventional ways. Research methods include setting aside received wisdom, burrowing deep inside your subject and learning to think like your material, becoming fluent in its vernacular.
Hypnotic trances can be instilled but are often a self-generated, self-created reality that appears to happen to us. Instead of being emanacipated, we are hyperdependant. Once we can acknowledge our role in creating these trances we can assume responsibility for the part we play in consciously or unconsciously creating our own realities.
Just as one trauma can lead to a recurrent syndrome, one deprogramming can eliminate it. We can do it ourselves, much like we create belief trances, by burrowing underneath the roots of our belief to a deeper clarity. We can "overwrite" obsolete or imported programs that have taken on a life of their own within us.
A meme is a self-propagating idea, a unit of cultural imitation that, much like a biological or computer virus, effectively programs its own retransmission. They spread through motivating their "host population," novel configurations of old ideas, and by proselytizers. Popular beliefs spread like contagions, cognitive viruses. Memes are informational viruses that influence our thinking, feelings, even our physical regulation.
Memes evolve as cultural viruses taking on a fractal life of their own in the trances we live. They engineer our cultures and subcultures; what we will, won’t and can’t do, and believe. In short, self-replicating memes condition our lifestyles as “True Believers”. Each meme is an existential trance state. Memetic structures compel our attention; we propel and persuade one another toward them socially; they are the basis of sociocultural programming.
VIRTUAL REALITY CHECK: Korzybski pointed out that there are two ways to slice easily through life; to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking. So, from time to time you have to give yourself a Virtual Reality Check by playing Devil's Advocate to your own cherished ideals. How do they look from 180 degrees away? The hallmark of postmodern philosophy has been disbelief or skepticism of all "metanarratives," or translations of reality. Postmodernism has even turned its profound skepticism on such important humanist concepts as "objective truth" and reason.
Yet, for a deconstructionist postmodern society, individually we are still riddled with superstition and gullibility, and open to manipulation through our belief systems as any politician, philosopher, clergy, or salesperson will attest. Further, most people are painfully naive when it comes to even the simplest scientific understanding. Most of us don't have a clue about the fundamental nature of physical reality or our own psychological nature, and our ability to be fooled by our senses and mind, or methods of social and technological persuasion. We may think we know, but the penetration is deeper than we dare imagine.
Nature rejects the naivete that seeks absolute truth. We are beginning to realize, individually and culturally, that "realities" are all human constructions. The task becomes one of "catching ourselves in the act" of creating our own "reality" from the flow of events. Human truth is always an engagement of mind with experience. The challenge of the therapist in these times of chaotic change is to validate the concept that we don't have to fear the collapse of what we think we are.
We can embrace this disruptive chaos, trusting that it is an emergent self-organizing process. We don't need to fear the collapse of our personalistic belief system (the "box" we live in), nor our belief in absolute truth. A strong desire to engage in the "quest for uncertainty" complements our anxiety that perhaps there is no absolute, objective ground to reality. The warrant of Truth is ever elusive when we deconstruct the foundational justifications of our convenient notions about the way the world works.
It is easy to confuse what is actually the creation of beliefs with the "discovery of Truth," a common goal of science and theology. Science offers no ontological Scientific Picture of the World but substitutes a number of applied theories as meta-theory. It’s close, powerful and useful: it ‘works’ and allows us to do work. But the still mysterious “true” metatheory may reveal the basis of consciousness. But who knows when we will lift that veil of Nature?
Permeating the living reality of our culture are certain contagious notions, fads and trends that have the ability to influence the way we think about the nature of Reality and ourselves. Some of them are toxic and can consume you; others are just whims of pop culture infectious and benign as the common cold. Jung described the concept of psychic contagion by certain archetypal forces inherent in the human psyche, which manifest in our spiritual lives and belief systems. He spoke of both conscious and unconscious contamination. Notions like this range from simple superstitions to scientific concepts, to urban myths.
Psychologically, when you change your internal imagery, you automatically change the attitudes associated with those mental pictures and old tape loops. All symbols and signs have been fetishized; every ethnicity and its native imagery has cycles of fashionability. They sweep in and out like the winds of March. Notions burn through our cultural landscape and insinuate themselves hyponotically within its fabric, as fads, whether they are "real" or not, they can be influential. They change us, how we think and feel. They mood alter us, make us feel we belong. An analysis of these notions is useful in distinguishing a common human phenomenon from any potential "alien influence" which may or may not be exerted on us from an unknown source.
BREAKING THE SPELL: Skeptic, Daniel Dennett takes a hard look at beliefs and attendant phenomena in his new book of this name, and asks: Where does our devotion to God come from and what purpose does it serve? Is religion a blind evolutionary compulsion or a rational choice? In a spirited investigation that ranges widely through history, philosophy, and psychology, Dennett explores how organized religion evolved from folk beliefs and why it is such a potent force today. He contends that the “belief in belief” has fogged any attempt to rationally consider the existence of God and the relationship between divinity and human need.
Ask yourself how adaptive it is to remain spiritually, mentally, or emotionally stuck in the past, for whatever reason. In my written archive you can catch me at virtually every phase, yet never stuck in one. Most forms of ‘worship’ are either archetypes or cliches, perhaps both. Personal revelatory experiences are no measure; they are often fraught with strong emotional content, but faulty thinking built on a grain of Truth. Often it is a compensatory mechanism to help us maintain specialness, a trick of the mind and self-image. If you recycle a retrievalist reality tunnel you are blinded to other options. It’s like being a scientific or artistic specialist; you know more and more about less and less.
What organic robotoid, parroting perennial philosophy is truly spiritual? Devotees often have a blank look in their eyes when they recruit. Future-resistance stops the process of maturation, as well. What we procrastinate about can take on overwhelming dimensions. It is a way of not “letting go” of outmoded forms that stunt developmental potential, a way of staying stuck. Be careful what models you let colonize your imagination. Are the terms you define yourself with irrelevant; is living up to your old dreams preventing your potential from manifesting?
Those whose cherished beliefs are challenged in the context of traumatic life events are likely to experience severe spiritual disequilibrium; manifesting chaos instead of self-organization. Spiritual disequilibrium can be a blessing, heralding rebirth: emergence from the destructuring of emergency, breakthrough from breakdown. The old structure must "die" before psychic rebirth is possible.
The future draws us forward like a handshake reaching back from somewhere between our fate and destiny, the strange attractor of our own futurity. It does not squeeze us into a recycled mold, and send us down a dusty rabbit hole of myopic vision. That is not focus, but self-deception, disinformation. You are probably not the “reincarnated alien-hybrid messiah of world peace and environmental restoration”. But you do make your own global contribution to the commonweal, especially through self-awareness, practice, service, and compassion.
The Cloud of Unknowing, a medieval mystic text, describes the human soul as embodied in one's memory, reason, will, imagination, and senses. Yet, all these faculties are falsifiable or easily subject to distortion. Unless USED artistically, rather than experienced passively, media is an interruption of our internal narrative, our self-talk; a detour in content and focal point. Is your phone more important than your movie, or your loved one?
Interruption enables incoming messages by lending them shape and hijacking our attention, or they enter subliminally. Particularity is content and momentary truth. The goal is not to pick the right reality tunnel or be psychically tunneled by obsolete beliefs but to live freestyle on the tunnelless edge of dissolving boundaries, the anticipatory/participatory fusion of NOW.
BOUNDARY FREE CREATIVE EDGE: Welcome to the Edge, existential free fall, er, "free-style", since there is literally NoWhere to go. The multimedia field gives rise to the possibility of a work-of-total-art. The avant-garde is software, new interfaces. Computers are personal expression media that simulate old media interfaces. Outside of the professional and scientific domains, consumers think of computers as machines for downloading, storing, transmitting and editing media. Software such as media players and editors, CD and DVD burners, ports to connect digital still and video cameras or MP3 players are what consumer computing is about today.
In part, conceptual gaps and different technical metaphors are the source of generation gaps. The imaginative and adaptive faculties play a big role in what century (archaic revival) we choose to live in, according to our adopted beliefs, which condition our perceptions. Popular options include eclectic adaptations of the world’s religions, neo-tribalism, psychics, and gurus; even science and art have their own historical POVs.
The so-called New Age of spiritual snake oil sales actually harbors the agenda of hijacking the Holy Grail of new paradigm thinking, as long your new vision resonates with a polyglot of poor research protocols, implausible assumptions and lack of critical thinking. Radical pointlessness is the least occupied position, having no POV, it is the toughest to maintain. The poetic vision of Science-Art does not split the material base of Multiverse from the reflexive component of Spirit. It encourages mythopoesis but not literalization at the expense of common sense.
There is a paradoxical dissonance between old and new ways of being in the environment; things that should be preserved and those that are emerging. Things that stay the same are isomorphic constants; but metamorphosis, metaphoric change creates a sense of novelty and newness. The new excites us by emotional appeal, overwhelming our senses, shocking us, thrilling us, or otherwise modulating our systems in a way the old cannot. It reflects the future of our dreams, as leading edge art reveals the future of culture.
Our own epistemological metaphors describe how we know what we know and what it is like. Harking back to the past for a point of reference helps us move from the known to the Unknown in our descriptions, but if we take our metaphors literally, our beliefs stay archaic. We continue to recapitulate the philosophical evolution of mankind, but not truly move forward into new territory. The same is seen in the iconography of “sofa” art, which recycles the same tired themes and styles in the same media, over and over.
Free Style is an improvisational aesthetic that uses one’s realtime local surroundings and (synthetic) synchronicities and virtualities from which to create new expressions in any medium or discipline. We can deal with and use “what comes up” in a creative and therapeutic manner; we can intuit, invent, and concoct from the nonlocal information that is at hand if we simply open to that, living artfully from that spontaneous place.
Free style is an intuitive act that is at once intentionally connective with source and presence, thus freeing and directing that which is inside desiring to emerge: meta-creativity. Freestyle breaks free from the vault of derivative, corporate, or audience-driven formula production. After all, it takes risk to either succeed or fail.
This is the source of artistic and scientific freedom. We must trust the process; trust our own vision as the womb of our subconscious that gives birth to full-blown ideas and inspirations. Freedom of expression means each artist is free to create their own style, weaving into the existing genres of expression, combining, contrasting and injecting their own unique rhythms, modulations, and vision by working at their dynamic edge.
Free style results may be concrete or ephemeral, but the drive comes from a commited perspective on the fundamental nature of reality and our nature. It seeks and sometimes embodies a new way of being, an ethic and aesthetic that is open and psychophysically transformational -- morphogenic. The art of survival equals the survival of art. Art is a human survival technology, in every personal and collective sense of the words.
The Glass Bead Game is a metaphor for playing with the total contents and values of our culture. It plays with them like a painter might play with the colors of his palette. The creative elements are all the insights, noble thoughts, and works of art that the human race has produced in its creative eras. The freestyle artist plays like an organist on this immense body of intellectual and spiritual values.
Ideally, we surf the harmonization of cognitive awareness with empathic and compassionate emotional sensitivity to the zeitgeist of the day. It implies a global conscious awareness that gets the Big Picture, and perhaps even does something about it. ALL the creative juice of science and art is at the leading edge, the living edge.
Chaos theory defines the “edge of chaos” as a special dynamical balance. Science has shown that order emerges from the critical paths of chaos. In psychology, it means sticking to the image as given in Imagination, rather than resorting to glib dream or symbol interpretations. Shamanic personalities work at the edge of chaos for healing. Talent expresses at the edge. Phase transitions occur here, state changes, quantum leaps of consciousness, complexity. Like Schrodinger’s Box, it separates the Living from the Dead.
METAMEDIA: Wyndham Lewis wrote that all "living art is the history of the future". The formula is we become what we behold. What our culture compels us to behold is the holographic ICONOSCOPE: all the new media that both virtually surround and contain, as well as permeate our lives, and comprise an intrinsic part of our environment. The mind-numbing rate of change in our society is so unprecedented it is called Future shock. It’s a technological tsunami.
Debord called it a Society of the Spectacle, emphasizing its visual nature. Everyone is a player. We feed our human selves into seductive processing machines, dreaming of hyper acceleration. Some would say we ourselves are being superseded by technology, having fused with it already in a virtually religious epiphany. We're just the dangling flesh at the end of the terminal. The historical velocity of technoculture is so intense it's created a new autistic species: Homo Mutans.
All the high tech hype is to create a hypnotic fascination, hyper-fascination. Spectacle as a culture commodity is embodied in so-called Reality TV. The War on Terror is a materialized ideology, fighting an Idea. It is unwinable since you can’t wage war on an idea. Ideology is the problem, not the solution to human survival technology. Coercive ideas foster looting of natural resources, coercive institutional power and imported orthodoxies. The same dynamic produces trends, fads and memes, which permeate thinking as well as lifestyle. All gnostic forms are based in an ideology and theology of elitism, truth and secrecy.
Virilo relates all physical dimensions to simulacra, hyperdimensionality, physical presence vs. telepresence. We pass through time and space leaving trails of transmissions. Bluetooth and Broadband expands our aura with portable peripherals. The artistic object can also be dispersed at the speed of light; art rides at the speed of light. This action connects two distant places with a reality wormhole that can make the piece interactive.
Baudrillard speaks of successive phases of the image: 1) It is the reflection of a basic reality. 2) It masks and perverts a basic reality. 3) It masks the absence of a basic reality.4) It bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum. In the first case, the image is a good appearance: the representation is of the order of sacrament. In the second, it is an evil appearance: of the order of malefice. In the third, it plays at being an appearance: it is of the order of sorcery. In the fourth, it is no longer in the order of appearance at all, but of simulation.
YOU TURN ME I-ON-A: We literally have the electromagnetic capacity to broadcast our images if not ourselves to the stars. We broadcast our identities as a fusion of recombinant personae, cliches, and archetypes: infinite fractal use of finite iconography: technological self-amplification of our bodyminds. You turn me on; I turn you on in a fusion of knower and known. I call my broadcast "Radio Free Qabala". coming to you from station IONA, sponsored by the Temple of Living Light. Channels may vary in your locale, that is, by your capacity to tune in and comprehend my essential nature.
Hegel said, “Self-consciousness exists in itself and for itself only insofar as it exists in and for another self-consciousness; that is, it exists only by being recognized and acknowledged.” Likewise, only relationships between objects are observable. Arguably, language was the first real technology, and all others mere extensions of our five senses.
Metamagic, the original reality medium, is a hypercharged spiritual technology, driven by ritual and belief: active attention is synonymous with “worship”. We are a fractalization of collective history. We are carried forward by the anticipation of our own lives, their emergent qualities. Infinite mirroring and anticipation is beyond synchronicity; Xenochrony is the holomovement of Xenochronicity. Only the level of resolution changes, not the content.
LIFE IS A HOLOGRAPHIC PROJECTION: Technology that allows us to manipulate our biophysics makes the body a true medium. We already manage our psyches and moods from a pill bottle, and soon we will be able to achieve similar results with our bodies.
Because we are so often overwhelmed by input and the light-speed of cultural change is it any wonder that stress, panic attacks and anxiety top the list of psychophysical maladies? Add the biological pressures of chemical and electronic "smog" and we can barely function. We are being poisoned slowly but surely by the environment and denatured or modified food.
The advance wave of transhumanism appears in the tattoo and body mod culture, which also carries a heavy nostalgic tone. Body modification is a neo-tribal fad that has allowed us to use the fabric of our being as a medium, to create body art or make our own bodies works of art through exercise, modification and embellishment. For some this is a soulful emergence and natural way of being, for others a desperate attempt to be "different", and for those who jump on the bandwagon mere conformity. This same notion is applied conventionally in plastic surgery. We all want to feel and look better, and that trend has become frantic in an increasingly competetive world.
We can modify our appearance to achieve a variety of desires. Soon we will be able to engineer ourselves from birth, and modulate our existential holograms at any point. It is difficult to imagine the repurcussions and endless possibilities this opens. When we interfere in our own morphogenesis can we continue to be "human" at all? What unnatural acts will becom embodied somewhere between desire and obsession?
The team of physicist Peter Gariaev detected DNA Phantoms in their research and concluded that we are human biocomputers. The genome is a quasi-intelligent system, but the wave level of genetic coding programs and organizes our 3-D spatial/temporal organism. Gariaev describes DNA expression as a meaningful text that is read and projected by DNA in 3-D in a bioholographic process with sound and light, much like programs of DNA movies or videotape. The digital analogy is probably even closer to the process of development and maintenance.
These movies get corrupted over time and produce aging and mutations. Wave genetics offers new healing and life extension possibilities. Morphogenic information is holographically transmitted and programmed. DNA is not 98% junk, but the formative and transmissive text.
All the cells of our organism combine to form a unified informational space which functions as a DNA wave biocomputer regulating morphogenesis and metabolic information, activated by transduced coherent light and modulated sound. This is more fundamental than genetics or molecular biology. Disturbances in the field that presage disease can be treated.
Healing information can be transmitted in waveform by resonance, sound and light, correcting error patterns or missing information. Video morphogenic information is regenerative, patterning a healing matrix. The bio-computer reads or scans the data and adapts according to the DNA-movie of healthy form and function. A weak field produces a powerful result. We are mutually linked material and nonlocal energy-informational substances that dynamically exchange energy and information. Soon we’ll be able to “change the movie” physically with quantum bioholography as the medium. This is another aspect of the Acoustic Environment: structural cymatics.
TECHNOTOPIA: Technology impacts socity for good or ill. McLuhan might say warfare itself has become its own virtual simulacrum: a self-contained, self-promoting, self-transforming virtual phenomenon stretching from abusive physical violence to the psychological colonization of human perception. Kroker speculates that for McLuhan, the empire of technology performs “psychic surgery” on the global village by means of the war on terrorism. McLuhan wasn't a technotopian because he was pessimistic about the applications of hitech as a humanist and leery of the media hype of the military-industrialists.
Evolving technology resonates like feedback in our phenomenology. Buckminster Fuller did not view technology as separate from nature and our nature, biological intelligence and technological evolution, including speech. Our separateness has created the pursuit of infinite individual "reality wormholes" which reconnect us with the collective unconscious and collective conscious identity through "voluntary ESP".
Media can be defined as devices that transfer a message between human beings. Cyberspace is electronic space, composed of computer networks like the Internet; in them information moves at the speed of light. At that speed less than 0.1 seconds is needed for an electronic signal to join the two most distant points on Earth. computer terminals, scanners, cameras, television, microphones, telephones, cell phones, and other sensors convert the real world into digital information.
Within about 200 years the human body has accelerated from the speed of walking to the speed of light. We no longer live as point-particles but in our waveforms, often spread simultaneously over several time zones. We can read the entire holographic time log of the Akashic Records at our local theater or on DVD. In Dobb’s vernacular, “past times have become our passtimes”, including interests in deep nature as the province of science and art, and obsolete gnostic and spiritual technologies.
According to Baudrillard, when the real is no longer what it used to be, nostalgia assumes its full meaning. There is a proliferation of myths of origin and signs of reality; of second-hand truth, objectivity and authenticity. There is an escalation of the true, of the lived experience; a resurrection of the figurative where the object and substance have disappeared. And there is a panic-stricken production of the real and the referential, above and parallel to the panic of material production. This is how simulation appears in the phase that concerns us: a strategy of the real, neo-real and hyperreal, whose universal double is a strategy of deterrence.
KINETIC FIELD OF DREAMS: The Digital Revolution is here and it IS being televised in a myriad of fractal incarnations, but not on your Grandmother's screen. For artists, the 21st Century is a Digital Universe. In the perceptual-space we now occupy, the gender of presence is neither male nor female, but discarnate! It is the era of the metamorph. Even conventional artists can manipulate their images into a myriad of morphs. Because of insurance problems, fine art has moved toward the giclee print where originals are printed onto canvas and overpainted with a topcoat of paint. But why even bother with the smelly stuff? Why not just slip through the datastream? High end galleries are installing projectors. Popular art is being displayed as virtual paintings on plasma screens in private homes.
NEW MEDIA: That's HOT! And the hottest IT is multimedia, new media. Media guru Mark Stahlman defines this term he coined as the media, which replace the ‘cinesthesia’ of TELEVISION as the dominant environment in our lives and culture. Surround sound is already the medium that replaced television. Home theaters now dominate the consumer electronics business. They are simply big television sets with multi-channel sound added, replicating the experience of multi-channel sound in movie theaters. Acoustic space as surround sound replaced the "tactility" of television.
Media analyst/cultural theorist, Marshall McLuhan dubbed various media hot or cool. He stressed that ALL media are ultimately a matter of sensory balances and sensory biases. He believed that artists need to integrate, analyze and utilize rapid changes in technology, in order to truly have a mass impact on people in the modern age. But the electronic environment isn't limited to artists but is available to virtually everyone. No one escapes its influence. Rapid evolution of communication devices enables and future-shocks us at the same time.
On the other hand, some new media are in the hands of individual artists, who have the capacity to produce desktop films, find innovative new means of distribution, or create art that helps us meet our future. It doesn't take a multimedia studio to create meaningful work. But cultural and political factors are still limiting factors in the global arena of spiritless totalitarianism.
The era of revolutionary democracies is over, replaced by corporate feudalism which holds our attention in a vice grip of technological self-absorption and self-interest that infiltrates the thinking of both left and right with media propaganda. The Fear-Media Machine fights democracy and liberty with fear and racism, creating a mass culture of disembodied cyborg mutants.
The alluring promise of full-immersion Virtual Reality is the ersatz embodiment of this disembodiment, naturalized technological alienation. Still, the so-called New Age is still focused on 19th and 20th century out-of-body experiences, apparently ignoring they are rarely in-habiting their physical bodies. By subverting new media, the artist introduces a new way of being: Homo Lumen, who recognizes our essential nature is nothing but light. It is the old shamanic function of art and artist in 21st century form, artists and scientists who make the electrons dance. Biophilosopy reflects patterns of the ceaseless transformation of life, disclosing the networks of relations that draw the living thng outside itself.
In Simulacra and Simulation, French social theorist Jean Baudrillard argues that our "postmodern" culture is a world of signs that have made a fundamental break from referring to "reality." Reality is simulation of the simulation of reality. The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth--it is the truth, which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.
For Baudrillard all the media of information and communication neutralize meaning and involve the audience in a flat, one-dimensional media experience which he defines in terms of a passive absorption of images, or a resistance of meaning, rather than the active processing or production of meaning. The electronic media therefore on this account have nothing to do with myth, image, history, or the construction of meaning (or ideology).
Television is interpreted instead as a media "which suggests nothing, which magnetizes, which is only a screen, or is rather a miniaturized terminal which in fact is found immediately in your head -- you are the screen and the television is watching you. Television transistorizes all neurons and operates as a magnetic tape -- a tape not an image"” (from Baudrillard: A New McLuhan?)
VENTURING IN THE SLIPSTREAM: Welcome to The Media Matrix, the 'machine war'. Are you the One, a Neo trying to figure it all out in a world where nothing makes sense but Ones and Zeros? New Media paradoxically sucks us into the vortex of disembodiment and is simultaneously the anodyne that assuages the resulting pain of alienation. This is metaphorically presented as Aliens from UFOs, paranoid abducton phenomena, hybridization, and cattle mutilations. We used to be fed a steady diet of these hyperdimensional mysteries on the Discovery Channel, but now they have spread to the History Channel, as if they have migrated from phenomena of the natural world to factoids of human culture.
We have fused our nervous systems with the information environment, fusing and morphing both art and nature. We have met the cyborg aliens and they are us. Biomedia, genetics and wave genetics are not human survival technologies, but just the opposite, by making us transhuman.
FIGURE-GROUND SHIFT: Shift happens. It is the ground that is the medium, for the most part, and the figure-ground relationship that creates the message. It is the capability of the underlying medium to appear in and through fundamental changes and to sustain fundamental change in this way which is the message (mission), the sending. It might be said that the message of medium/media exceeds any figure-ground relationship by ex-posing the passing of some previous ground or grounds in the past and pointing to the analogous passing of the present one in the future.
Exceeding figure/ground indicates grounds (plural), indicates medium indicates message: "changes the medium, which is the message." The medium is the message because the medium, aka the plurality and dynamics of media, is what the message is always going on about.
In Take Today, McLuhan states, “Hypnotized by their rear-view mirrors, philosophers and scientists alike tried to focus the figure of man in the old ground of nineteenth-century industrial mechanism and congestion. They failed to bridge from the old figure to the new. It is man who has become both figure and ground via the electrotechnical extension of his awareness. With the extension of his nervous system as a total information environment, man bridges art and nature.” - p.11
New Media are the various implementations and the profound implications of the shift by acoustic space from the ground of our lives under the conditions of the electric media environment (i.e. television). They are becoming the figures of expression in our increasingly post-electric world -- in particular, as reflected in three-channel stereo (3CS.) When you run your own multimedia content through your home theater, it becomes your own Church of Self-Amplification.
The post-electronic environment is the ground that is the true medium which creates the message, altering our perceptions of self, others and world. The ground of consciousness itself is necessarily double. It includes the nothing part of itself and the something part of itself; and can’t see itself. Conspiracy is the ground of the shifting paradigm.
Bob Dobbs points out, “I would say, the reason why the profane think (increasingly) conspiratorially, is: we have disappeared. So, we are not manipulable anymore. Therefore, the whole social engineering through the media, controlling masses as puppets (conspicuous consumers) - it’s a rearview mirror image. We can now see it aesthetically; or as an artform. So WE like to think and project that we’re being manipulated. Thus, conspiracy is the crude popular slang version of watching (Orwellian) TV and seeing the arty ego-ads manipulate you - saying: hmmm, they’re manipulating me. And I know they’re manipulating me! And they know I’m knowing that. There you have a menippean irony going on! And so, an alphabetic distillation of this process is: "We’re being controlled and it’s a conspiracy."
BYTE ME: Media are unconscious extensions of our sensorium. In 2006, New Media are Broadband, Wireless, High Def, and creating portable environments: the cell phone, high rez digicam, digital video recorder, gaming, podcasting, V-cast. The cell phone has become both the mini computer and TV screen with on demand self-programming of content. Portable screens represent a crucial inflection in the arc of digital media development.
McLuhan's famous dictum, "The Medium is the Message" had a second part -- "The Audience is the Content." Entertainment content must become more and more compelling or we simply make our own, instead. We all now have the capacity to capture virtually every nuance of our lives digitally. We don't have to "download" our psyches into the computer; they are already out there in the data streams as disembodied bytes in the aethyr, each with discrete wavelengths: our images, thoughts, and emotions.
LUMONICS: High Brow art dominated the artworld before Duchamp, followed by Low Brow postmodern rejection of all metanarratives. Arguably video guru Nam June Paik ushered in Know-Brow art based in electronic media. Only light can capture the nuance of energetic processes. Special FX pushes it imaginatively over the top.
The multisensory electronic moving image is now an artist's medium. The identity of the artist is not sublimated in the machine. Deliberately manipulating software in a considered way to create one's vision is quite different from creating art by letting the software run. The creative process between the body and the machine creates a dynamic unified trance presence. The body pushes on the machine and the data-body of the machine pulls the physical body into the generative process, sometimes in realtime.
We don't conquer the process; we link directly or celebrate with multimedia authoring tools in a private ritual wit more layers than Photoshop could ever provide. Is there anything we don't want to see or know? The body is still immanent in the work, in electronic and net-based media. We launch outside of ourselves. There is a metaphoric connection between the finished image and original data. It can be employed to express representational and abstract imagery through recorded and virtual technologies.
The moving image is central to our visual culture, articulating new strategies and forms of image making. The kinetic image fuses electronic and digital media into a new form of expression. We can easily alter both materiality and composition of the electronic image; we can refashion its content, visual vocabulary, and plastic forms. Desk-top cinema has made individual productions a possibility that has jumped the Theatre of the Mind, to become sensuously embodied as a "body without organs", an Android Meme. In the vernacular of paramedia ecologist Bob Dobbs, the parts of the Android Meme are the Chemical Body, the Astral Body, the TV Body, and the Chip Body. But in an era in which everyone is a filmmaker, who is the audience?
PARAMEDIA ECOLOGY: Primal man made his environment by magic rituals that were re-enactments and dramatizations of the creative process by which the world comes into being. Even Renaissance art was trying to capture the values of the past technologically, but 21st Century art is a holographic time machine. Your beliefs determine what century you are inhabiting. Technology has the power to be environmental entirely independent of art as environmental.
Even Jung had no dynamic idea of the psychic role in creating technologies or in responding and reacting to them. Yet technologies, especially electronic tech, are extensions of the body, making us all Cyborgs. The psychic and social saturation resulting from electric extension of the nerves is much swifter than effects of mere extensions to our physical being, such as clothing, or the wheel, or mirrors. The environmental role of art can be spiritual or concretely physical. The actual effects of new technologies turns old environments into art forms that help define us as modern humans.
Dobbs defines the Android Meme as the ability of human-invented technology to acquire the intimacy of speech and intuition. In other words, the Android Meme is technology that has the qualities of "being alive". McLuhan’s chief characteristic of modern media is that they're living organisms. That means they can communicate. The Android Meme wants to join with us in an unholy alliance of archetypal technology and human organism.
The Android Meme is a cacophony of all media, all technology and all ideas of particular times, anthropomorphized, trying to make itself human. There is no great architect of the Meme besides our compliance to feed it. It is collective mythic thinking, in the Jungian sense, where people mime/behave cues from technology when it becomes used by a million people and becomes environment (morphic resonance).
We actually download the archetype of the Android Meme into our nervous systems through television and multimedia. Bob says, “The Android Meme absorbs any response made to it. The artist's task is to understand and meditate upon the why's and wherefore's of its present techniques. This effort has nothing to do with how an artist survives economically.” So, don’t quit your dayjob.
"Media are really environments, with all the effects geographers & biologists associate with environments. We live inside our media. We are their content. TV images come to us so fast, in such profusion, they engulf us, tattoo us. We're immersed. It's like skin diving. We're surrounded & whatever surrounds, involves. TV doesn't wash over us and then go "out of mind." It goes into mind, deep into mind. The subconscious is a world in which we store everything, not something, and TV extends the subconscious....Such experiences are difficult to describe in words. Like dreams or sports, they evade verbal classification." (Edmund Carpenter; They Became What They Beheld 63)
According to anthropologist Carpenter, we are forced into new modes of communication and forced to create our own environments of declassified information when media render old patterns of perception obsolete. When we program our own psychic and sensory lives, we turn to artists who practice creating their own lives for reference. In many ways we are forced to improvise, taking what is at hand, and forming it into something that could be, into something new, but which is made from the parts of the old in a fractal reiteration.
ANTI-MYSTERY SCHOOL: SACRED AND PROFANE. We virtually 'worship' that which we give our attention; the more energy we give it the more we worship it. Our society is compulsive. Technology as the "demon of progress" is a spiritual rival, a rival to spiritual technologies, our "technical destiny". Naturally in the electric age this rivalry for the soul of man is far more intense than ever before: inner vs. outer quest. McLuhan’s thesis was revolutionary: each medium has a larger effect than its mere content, overloading, compensating and extending our physical senses, forcing individual minds and whole societies to adapt.
Today's 21st Century Media Mystery Schools retrain our perceptions even reviewing obsolete Reality Tunneling of the past: ritualized utility and understanding without boundaries or satcom interconnectedness. Technology competes for and effects human senses and perceptions. Art is inherently and seamlessly wed to media ecology. In some sense, the environment can be seen as merely a war between good and bad art. The question becomes not what do we believe and have faith in, but how can we live more artfully and heartfully, developing human survival technologies that feed our souls and spirits.
RECYCLING CONSCIOUSNESS: McLuhan taught that the environment is a programmed teaching machine. He was arguably the first feedback artist, hungry for people with new ideas, angles, insights, so he could use that material to generate more of his own. Feedback of feedback is bad feed, imitation and parody rather than the chaotic creative edge.
Now, with weblife, cell phone/cameras, Blackberries and Sidekicks we all live in our nonlocal "chip bodies" and have become feedback artists, perhaps imagining we are generating our own content of infinite fractal reiterations in a vast parody of ourselves-the put on, the spectacle. Is there any CONTENT without an audience to receive it? Is there any reason to DO anything if it isn't a PhotoOp? At art shows now people are more interested in taking their own photo with the art, than in looking at it firsthand. The same is true for travel; no one looks at the scenery exceptthrough the camera or digital video.
Between space and ground camera surveillance and GPS accountability no one is ever really ALONE; no first-person singular exists anymore. In Dobbs-speak, between voluntary ESP (net) and synthetic telepathy we no longer own our own thoughts and can't even know what they are or might have been without that perturbation. No wonder there is so much static on the Reality Channel of the Digital Universe. Also see http://www.fivebodied.com/project/
METAMAGICK; TECHNOSHAMANISM: Shamanic beliefs are based on the notions that 1) the matrix of reality can be manipulated with artistic endeavor and spiritual technologies, and 2) powerful artwork can be stimulated by a variety of consciousness altering experiences, or initiations. Technoshamanism is the process of altering consciousness through technology. It implies using the artistic, psychosexual, healing and mind altering techniques of ancient shamanism combined with modern technologies for altering consciousness, culture, and the holistic mindbody.
Technoshamanism is the interactive integration of futuristic technology with ancient pathways of the past. As an artform, it implies access to full-immersion experiences, virtual realities that have consequences in the real world. Magickal technologies evolve; belief systems are technologies. Magic means intentionally defining a state of reality through the transmission of information; the medium is the message. Ritual technology is manipulation of categories of information as data and instructions. Contemporary magic claims that the human mind can directly influence the state of reality, though old-fashioned magic attributed it to manipulation of spirits or occult forces.
This gnostic experience for the new millennium explores the final frontier: the untapped powers of the human mind: spiritual technology without the straightjacket of fixed belief. It means dancing through the doors of perception into the hyper-spatial realities of the unfettered collective imagination.
The world of mage and shaman is the world of the spirits, psi powers, psychic phenomena, initiation, altered states, dreams, death, rebirth, and healing. It is the irrational realm of body, faith, trust, and belief. Shamanism reveals the uncanny world of superstition, disruption, dissolution, intuition, mysticism, transcendence, psychedelia, cosmic consciousness. It controls societies, revealing Dionysian and Apollonian spirit: sex and madness vs. conventionality, intellect, morality, and dogma.
Technoshamanism is also the world of what we can call extrasensory science. We can bridge the archaic and modern with cutting edge science and art, which dares to trespass into the forbidden realms. We can play the human sensorium with modulated electromagnetic energy. We can move shamanically through our blocks by heading directly into the fear and pain, which are the doorways to our transformation and head chaotically toward the creative Source. This is the shamanic journey. It is a restructuring process that dissolves old, outworn forms, and fosters spontaneously emergent new images and manifestations.
Technoshamanism is a voyage into the holographic matrix of experience, reflecting both our tribal heritage and global citizenship. In mythology Prometheus, staling fire from the gods, represents the archetypal technological man.
Arguably, two defining characteristics of the modern age, icons of our times, are the omnipresence of the Promethean spirit and the pervasiveness of sexuality and its imagery, soft and hardcore pornography. But even more important and fundamental is the power of imagination, passion, and pathos. We can each tap the spirit of Prometheus and Promethea, grasping our share of the fire of the gods, taking a bite of the forbidden fruit.
To the extent that the shamanic personality (like any artist) has great power, he or she penetrates deeply into the basic roots of the structuralizing process, and brings that symbolic information back. In the realm of “metaphorms” our brain images reality and the universe in its own structural terms. This surreal vision attempts to portray the working of the subconscious mind.
The future is being created in the imagination of the now. Herein lies the tremendous power of both art and invention. All the symbolic iconography of the ages is perpetually recycled and morphed at warp speed, and the vanguard senses that breakthrough is near. The morphology of this repertoire is embodied in Know Brow Art, neither high nor lowbrow, but cutting edge electronic media.
TRUTH VALUES: Is "Truth" destined to remain an eternally displaced metaphor, always just out of reach in the future or another domain? Categories of the "real" include not only the symbolic and imaginal, but also the hyperreal. Even our libidos have been hijacked and short-circuited by the therapeutic medium. Truth changes what we think and what we think is possible.
All forms of psychotherapy are riddled with fads, buzzwords, and belief systems about how and when healing and transformation can and do occur, and what constitutes the valid content of the trusted process that leads to the healthy, authentic life, self-actualization. It may be an oxymoron.
Is the search for the “holy grail” of Truth the ultimate Quest, a journey rather than a goal, as so many philosophers imply? It has taken humanity through the physical rigors of horizontal exploration, and accompanied us on our trips down the rabbit hole of conceptual and spiritual exploration. But, as we know, there is ‘truth’ and ‘Truth’. In Fuzzy Logic, which models vagueness, very precise assertions are almost never certain. Probabilites are uncertain; fuzzy logic is ambiguous.
Our beliefs compel us to engage in confirmatory searches, where we support, corroborate and verify to our own personal satisfaction. There is dissonance between the possible, the plausible, and the probable; then we hit the philosophical wall of the Uncertainty Principle as the deepest nature of reality. There is scant foundation of truth to build on. Can truth be refined in revisionist steps beginning with faulty assumptions?
It is the same drive that motivates both scientist and spiritual seeker to bite off an experiential piece of the Great Unknown. Is Truth primary or emergent? What is Truth? We may know nothing about truth but presume it knows everything about us. Our concept of truth is actually pretty flimsy.
Metaphysical truth is by definition beyond observation, beyond the physically observable, yet perhaps available by deduction or inference. What any given person considers a probability is conditioned by his or her beliefs. The probability of an event as not merely the frequency with which that event occurs, but also as a measure of the degree to which someone believes it "will" happen.
Some even contend they can influence proability with the buzzword, "intentionality". Is that a reality or a fantasy of mind over matter through minute perturbations of quantum mind? It all works logically if you embrace the foundational mythopoesis.
The very first and foundational inner experience in Kabbalah (the art of being fully human) is the Vision of the Mechanics of the Universe, in order to foster a critical eye toward Reality and its underlying physical laws. How can you possibly comprehend yourself if you don’t know the fundamental laws of physics and psychobiology? A common existential “mistake” is viewing ourselves primarily as a solid meatbody, rather than as an electromagnetic wavefront in space that science suggests.
If you are wrong about the fundamental truth of your own existence, how distorted will your other notions be? Kabbalah is radically pragmatic, though not objective, empirical, or reductionist in its approach. It invites you to subjectively make the experiment yourself.
We should take care that our protocols and resulting theories have a sound rational basis, taking the best from both ancient and modern worlds. The brain can register the same result for a simulated or real event; that is a double-edged sword that leads many to faulty conclusions. Can Truth be extracted from Cosmos; will the Truth ever come out? And if so, where is it hiding? All we know right now about the primary groundstate of human existence is that it is Pure Nothing (vacuum fluctuation; ZPE).
The physical and metaphysical roots of different kinds of Truth, relative and Absolute, include physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual dimensions; scientific and metaphysical truth. Truth relates to the Big Picture, adaptation and human survival. Even beautiful and convincing explanations can be wrong. Science often doesn’t know if it is ‘true’ and that is why ‘falsifiability’ is a keystone of the scientific process. We have various forms of truth but they are not reliable for understanding ourselves or Cosmos in the sense of a final and absolute Truth.
We try to obtain the most accurate explanation we can at the moment. Still, we cannot say there will never be an absolute Truth. Yet partial truths remain approximations. But this very lack of absoluteness keeps the future open. What most attracts our concern is often at the creative frontier of the mind.
Our understanding and definitions are refined as data are refined and our perceptions become more enlightened. It doesn’t change what is true, but it doesn’t mean we can never comprehend an Absolute Truth that is currently beyond our ability. We can’t really know. But expansion of our previous understanding doesn’t change the reality or truthfulness of existence. In black and white: what exists and true and what does not is false or a lie. Our perceptions can be wrong and sensible.
Reality can be strongly counterintuitive or contain hidden options at the point of observation. Truth fits happier with philosophy, but should not be confused with probability, as shown in the nature of paradox. Seemingly obvious truths are often not correct at all. We all harbor unwitting biases that distort the signals received by our senses and generated in our own psychophysical systems. Experiments in sensory deprivation have exposed the intense power of inner-generated imagery/feeling states. We can’t remove this distorting prejudice from our viewpoint so Truth remains elusive, if not completely partial and relative.
DISSONANCE RESOLUTION: Cognitive dissonance is the term for discomfort felt at a discrepancy between what you already know or believe, and new information or interpretation. When we need to accommodate new ideas it is necessary to become receptive to even painful revelations when faced with 'new learning' that 'contradicts' prior accepted 'knowledge'.
But we don’t like to expend more effort than absolutely necessary. THAT is why we get and stay stuck in discontent, ruling out the emotionally challenging which is too painful or unpleasant. But that very feelings fuels creativity and innovation, the willingness to try another way. We have to feel the pain and fear first to move on. Synthesizing paradox leads to resolving ambiguity. In a healthy person, dissatisfaction leads to creative action and new patterns of behavior.
Cognitive mismatches are emotionally painful, precisely because that pain signals a need for adjustment. Because it is psychologically uncomfortable, we try to avoid exposure to such ideas and situations. We have to learn how to not “tune out” when faced with ideas that threaten our biases and preconceptions, that is, IF they represent a better adaptation.
Accurate information increases ability to cope in the environment; contradictory and incoherent information naturally creates anxiety. Changing paradigms requires a shift in the level of explanation. Holistic ideas bridge conflicts like idealism vs. pragmatism, reason vs. emotion with global thinking.
Neurologist, Antonio Damasio says neural synapses in the brain are literally 'destroyed' when confronted by new 'knowledge'. This 'destruction' causes actual physical pain for us. To grow or adapt, we have to accept the “death” of the outmoded neural patterns and form new ones, even if it is painful while we evaluate and resolve discrepancies. We must learn strategies for resolving inconsistencies through integration and cognitive restructuring. It is a creative process. Self-actualizers develop integrative strategies for absorbing conflicting information.
Would you rather actually 'die' than 'learn' something new? Are you willing to live with partial satisfaction, or satisfiction? We must still learn to make life saving 'painful' judgments. Self-actualizing people are less likely to selectively repress information about their environment and more likely to find a new synthesis rather than short-circuit from conflict. They may be biologically organized differently.
Dominator cultures are riddled with nonsense that limits our potential, and prevents global responses based in self-actualizing partnership qualities like love, common sense and cooperation. Individually, influences propel us toward or away from self-actualizing alternatives. Some people are more willing to risk, while others are more sensitive to competiton among needs. We can short-cicrcuit the meaning, self-expression and richness of life with learned helplessness. Perception of our environment is a key factor in this process.
Philosophy is about what is changing and not changing: the Absolute vs. Flux. The rate of change is higher for our culture than perhaps any in history. In all cultures, flocks of phone-users can be observed stumbling around in huge crowds through congested traffic, seemingly oblivious to every thing but what is occurring on the miniscule screen in their hand. The ubiquitous cellular device is paradoxically robbing us of our individualities and enhancing our creativity by adding the dimension of immediacy.
No one is self-contained. In today’s world of instant communication our youngest appear to be losing touch with opportunities for communication with the self, for self-regulation. Children are growing up 'connected' at all times. Failure to be reached requires an explanation. We have changed our sense of a right to privacy, the sanctity of the individual: the power of one. It can be regained through focused self-care.
Dissonance resolution meditation can be learned in a variety of virtual environments, with the goal of self-regulation, stress-reduction, and wellness. By continually focusing on something that is mildly disruptive, the human system calls into play its own balancing and centering mechanisms and “overcomes” the mild disruption.
Dissonance resolution within the nervous system is easy to demonstrate neurophysiologically because coherence, resonance, and entrainment of electrical fields and currents can be detected by analyzing neural activity with EKG (heart) and EEG (brain) techniques.
Neurological aspects of dissonance resolution include becoming sensitive to very subtle levels of internal disharmony through growth, learning and expertise. Learning to identify the internal disharmony is similar to learning the “passive volition” of EEG or EKG control. The result once the individual has dealt with the mildly unpleasant stimulus is greater balance, greater focus.
A person can learn to control various aspects of the mind and body in pleasant, non-painful ways. Resolving the finer degrees of dissonance is another route to mastery of stress and achievement of high-level wellness. The basic idea is to involve the viewer in focusing simultaneously on both visual and stereo sound stimulation on a regular basis to establish both mind and body discipline.
This consciousness tool is very much of a scaled-down version of what happens to the viewer as a participant when he or she is focusing on a matrix of shapes and sounds that are constantly changing in real life. That is a definition of DR at one level. But as a technique that is practiced and becomes a clear habit pattern, DR is still an effective type of meditation. Combining visual stimulation with stereo auditory patterns initially evokes internal dissonance. Conscious and unconscious processes serve to resolve as the viewer-participant becomes involved and then progressively engrossed in the stimuli.
Neurological visual and auditory meditations can be learned, creating habit patterns to improve the ability to focus. In this study’s form of meditation, dissonance resolution, the student is first given a mildly distorted signal to focus on. After overcoming the mild irritation of the distorted signal, the nervous system rebalances itself in order to accommodate that signal. One function of the dissonance is to attract the subject’s attention. After practicing this rebalancing skill, we feel the effect of mental effort as a sense of mild relief and increased focus.
However, any meditative type activity can have similar benefits, whether there is dissonance or not. Because of the considerably enhanced focus derived from regular meditation, a person can learn to control various aspects of the mind and body in pleasant, non-painful ways (Gilula, 2005). Mind machines and binaural beat technology such as Hemisynch and Holosynch CDs are alternatives for self-regulation.
DIGITAL CONTEXT: In 1993 I wrote an article on the Digital Universe for CHAOSOPHY Journal based on Fredkin's theory of digital physics, that information is more fundamental than matter and energy, that atoms, electrons, and quarks consist ultimately of bits--binary units of information. Online at http://asklepia.tripod.com/
A DIGITAL UNIVERSE?
SCIENCE MIRRORS ART; ART MIRRORS SCIENCE
DIGITAL CONTENT: The interface of computer science and physics has led to the concept that information may be as fundamental as matter and energy. Some believe that information is just one of many forms of matter and energy, which is embodied in things like a computer's electrons and a brain's neural firings. Others suggest information should be part of the new scientific triad--matter/energy/information--the main ingredients of reality.
Ed Fredkin goes one step further, with his notion of "digital physics." In this, and other systems, information is more fundamental than matter and energy. He believes that atoms, electrons, and quarks are ultimately binary bits of information. These discrete bits of information may be compared to the quantization of energy in light (photons). The work of Nobel laureate, T.D. Lee suggests that time may also be discrete.
Discrete states are the essence of the digital nature of computer operation. Discreteness depends ultimately on quantum mechanics. A general state which 'spreads' is a superposition of such discrete states.
Fredkin suggests that the universe may be a vast computer which creates reality through ceaseless repetition--taking information it has just transformed and transforming it further to generate pervasive complexity. Space and time are discrete, the laws of the universe are algorithmic, and the universe works according to the same principles as a computer.
According to Fredkin, not everything is best viewed as information, but it helps us model reality and create programs to test our notions. What he is saying is that "at the most basic level of complexity an information process runs what we think of as physics. At the much higher level of complexity life, DNA--the biochemical functions--are controlled by a digital information process. Then, at another level, our thought processes are basically information processing."