A tornado in Colorado, USA (7 May 2016). Image Source: Tori O'Shea.
This blog is skeptical of conspiracy theories because they are not consistent with the way reality is created. Conspiracy theories about current events - for example, regarding the disastrous situation in Syria - are examples of modern urban folklore, which impose exactly the same superstitious, deterministic logic onto the world that an established religion would. Many of today's orthodoxies are nominally secular, but they are no less based in blind faith. Actors on the international scene do try to impose strategic control on the world's hot spots; the media come to these hot spots with spin, preconceived ideas and even false flag agendas. However, the notion that anyone - governments, politicians, banks, shadowy cabals, unseen actors, evil establishments - controls the reality that ensues from fluid conditions is incorrect.
RT footage of Putin, commenting on American funding of ISIS Valdai International Discussion Club (24 October 2014; posted in this version on Youtube on 1 October 2015). Video Source: Youtube.
Vladimir Putin inadvertently revealed this contradiction when, in a very popular interview, he accused the Americans of secretly funding of ISIS. The theme for this conversation at the Valdai International Discussion Club was: The World Order: New Rules or a Game without Rules? Putin spoke here with subdued outrage and the sober voice of reason. Americans, victors in the Cold War, unilaterally and blindly imposed their policies on equal and smaller countries, and seriously damaged international affairs.
Image Source: Veterans Today.
Events are not so simple. Ironically, America's critics forget Putin's background and that he came to power on the back of post-Cold-War confidence, with American pro-democracy and pro-market funding pouring into Russia in the 1990s and early 2000s. The relationship continues to this day, under different auspices, if the Panama Papers are correct (see the Panama Papers investigative report here, relating to Putin's estimated USD $200 billion fortune). Putin depicted an American empire, built by media and drone actions, manipulation and shaky alliances, mercenaries and contracted sub-proxies. His criticisms were based in truths, but those truths do not necessarily correlate directly to observed outcomes, nor are they indicative of the authoritarian attitude with which Putin is so familiar, and which he projects onto his American counterparts. Putin's underlying logic undermined his argument and betrayed deeper theatrics. This theme is consistent with the findings of scholar Karen Dawisha in an interview with US News:
Just as Putin is not exactly America's nemesis who speaks with the sober and democratic voice of reason, the Americans are not exactly successfully controlling the world with nefarious schemes."You argue ... that instead of seeing modern Russia as a failure of democracy, we should see it as embodying a new form of Russian authoritarianism that uses 'democracy for decoration rather than direction.'"
Putin wanted to know why the Americans could not foresee consequences of their actions. One may ask why they cannot see one or two steps ahead of alienating the Saudis. Even if America's critics or America's best strategists think they can see how events are unfolding due to different policies, and can anticipate and control a created reality, they cannot. No matter how hard power players try, these controllers are not in control of events. Reality can and will surprise Putin and the American leaders he criticizes, because their frames of reference do not depend on grasping how events come into being as historic artefacts, how a collection of potentials is forced through a tunnel of certainty to become 'something that happened.'
HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur intervewed the leader of Russia's Democratic Choice Party, Vladimir Milov (9 May 2016) on conditions in Russia under Putin. Video Source: BBC.
Before the Information Age, the social institutions which functioned closest to the edge of chaos and which attempted to locate or create order out of disorder were militaristic. Now, the practical realm of the soldier has been replaced by that of the data scientist. Information technology heightens the illusion of control and predictive capacity in flexible or uncertain conditions. Big Data analysts get granular through surveillance, social media, and analytics to build anticipatory models for markets, commerce, or elections. Like Amazon's drones delivering your order before you have even thought of making it, designers want to build personal gadgets that know what you want before you want it. On 10 May 2016, Techcrunch Disrupt New York hosted tech companies' latest artificial intelligence modules, designed to enhance users' real life integration with commercial and socially-connected networks. Siri creator Dag Kittlaus showed off the capabilities of Viv, designed to be "the intelligent interface for everything." Big Data technologists rely on recorded patterns of behaviour and activity to understand a user's future needs and decisions. They look into the past, form corresponding expectations, and then try to project forward into the future with probability algorithms.
However, on 27 April 2016, Advait Sarkar, Cambridge PhD candidate, talked to Cambridge TV about unidentifiable and unpredictable uncertainties which are emerging around Artificial Intelligence. On 7 May 2016, Tech Crunch further warned that the next artificial intelligence is no artificial intelligence. The article advised that if we want to work with reality, we must understand "incomprehensible intelligence"; the idea of 'intelligence' as we know it, with its deterministic narratives and expectations about the way things happen, must be removed from the equation.
How an event comes into being and reality is created: AccuWeather storm chaser Reed Timmer's footage of a tornado outside Wray, Colorado USA (7 May 2016). Video Source: Youtube.
The storm chasing video above from Wray, Colorado USA gives an example of a true predictive mentality as it engages with circumstances converging into an event. Storm chasers drive around and search for tornadoes when and where conditions are right. Sometimes nothing happens. Sometimes, as in the case above, a huge tornado appears where tornadoes do not normally appear.
Wray Colorado 5/7/16 pic.twitter.com/wfqvHBmAa8— Mr Twister (@MrTwisterChaser) May 8, 2016
Scott Barry Kaufman explains that creativity depends on intuition, combined with rationality (1 May 2016). Video Source: Big Think.
To understand unfolding events, predict the future, or program a computer that can fully anticipate our needs, one must understand how potentials become realities. That requires relinquishing deterministic narratives. Creative thinkers and artists move forward from the past into the unknown to build new realities, not as politicians, gamblers, marketers, or investors, but because it is their calling in life. Rather than retroactively analyzing past events and prognosticating, they live forward as a creative act. The intransitive creative mentality is very different from the transitive political, militaristic, or marketing mentality, because it releases control of, or claims on, the results. Artistic acts are about giving up power, not acquiring power. The final product exists beyond its creator and acquires a life of its own.
In cognitive terms, how that happens depends on finding a middle way between the subconscious and the conscious modes of behaviour. According to cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman in the video from Big Think above, the mind, when thinking creatively, allows the subconscious, irrational or uncontrolled aspects of emotion to operate first, without knowing what the outcome will be. The artist, creative actor, or thinker relies on intuition beneath the surface of awareness, by 'sleeping on a problem,' or letting something sit so it can solve itself. The subconscious mind produces an answer, which we experience as intuition or a sudden, inspiring 'eureka' moment. The answer comes by instinct or a gut feeling, 'out of nowhere.' The thinker then must retrace and deconstruct the process rationally and test all its core impulses, ideas and assumptions.
This process highlights a need to reconcile a deep conflict in our culture, in which security and success are understood in terms of acquiring things, accomplishments and recognition. One builds up a mountainous little personal narrative to conform with a preconceived societal narrative. But developing one's conscious awareness and creative ability depends on dismantling that societal narrative, tearing down rigid values and expectations to locate the true self and one's individual, genuine capabilities (thanks to -T.). You have to let go of who you think you are and what you think you know in order to learn and accomplish things of value. That is why there is a huge difference between reality as described by those who seek to control reality - a reality as defined by rigid but compelling narratives - and those who seek to bring it forth without controlling it - a reality, emerging naturally as it truly is.
On 11 May 2016, Stephen Sackur interviewed musician, visual artist and producer Brian Eno on this topic; if you live in the UK, you can watch the full interview here. Eno, who is promoting his new album, The Ship (released 29 April 2016), summarized his artistic vision in genetic terms. He is an atheist who wanted to understand and explain what it means to be a creator and engage in a creative act from that perspective.
Sackur suggested that most artists come to creation with a central message they want to communicate. Eno is different. He made his name as a producer for musicians who wanted to move into new areas, to test themselves and break artistic habits. In Eno's view, the artist creates events and things by not knowing outcomes. Eno is fascinated by the fluid conditions of the Internet, and expects MMORPGs will become a futuristic collaborative interactive art form. To create a piece of music or visual art, he brings together a series of elements, each with their own potentials. He likens components in artistic productions to seeds in a garden, packed with genetic information and adaptive capabilities, which will grow under a range of conditions. There is a 'genetic blueprint' for a creative act - bits of collected information and ideas and predispositions - but the end created reality shows how those simple, encoded elements of information unfold into a complex convergence. The artist plants the blueprint, the 'seeds,' and the art which comes forth is a permutation of different possibilities, given the environmental conditions. It is not a rigid, narrative artistic vision that is enforced on the world, rather it emanates from the world in a way that is probabilistic, not random. The results are things that Eno has never seen before, in line with the organically evolving circumstances between present and future.