Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Showing posts with label Dualism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dualism. Show all posts

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Artificial Intelligence Nemesis

Image Source: thebodhitrees.

The creation of AI is a story of humanity. It will end where it begins, with a nemesis that will test humankind. This is because human beings grapple with inner knowing on ever more profound levels, driven by self-engineered crises.

Artificial Intelligence: The Nemesis in the Mirror

Anonymous - This Shocking Footage Should Worry You! (2018-2019) (13 January 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

AI is a big mirror. As Google's Cloud Lead Dr. Fei-Fei Li stated, AI began with the question, "Can machines think?" Engineers began building machines to mimic human thinking, to reason, see, hear, think, move around, manipulate. That was AI's foundational dream. In the 1980s, machine learning was born, followed by deep learning, which is rooted in neuroscience. This young discipline is set to explode, due to the exploitation of big data, harvested from around the globe. Thus, no matter how the machines end up evolving, it is worth asking now what we are doing with AI and why we doing it. There are unconscious human impulses that are informing AI design.

Find your museum Doppelgänger: some people have found themselves in paintings at art museums. Image Source: Kottke / My Modern Met / Davidurbon.

This mirror will test a psychological mode which human beings have used to build, change, create: the obsession with the nemesis, the other, the twin, the Doppelgänger.

The nemesis psychological complex works by externalizing something we cannot manage inside our own natures. Once the thing is externalized, we interact with it to create new ways of understanding and operating in the world. One of my posts, I Will Teach You Infinities, described how the nemesis complex informed the structure of language, because language progressively builds away from the starting point of selfhood, or 'I.'

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Time and Politics 26: The Age of Divergence

Image Source: 8 tracks radio.

Last week, Michael Morgenstern intellectualized disinformation at The Chronicle of Higher Education: Dear Humanities Profs: We Are the Problem. Dismayed about American politics? Look in the mirror.

Morgenstern stated that postmodern theorists attacked the canon in the second half of the 20th century. According to these theorists, the western canon in arts and literature (and science) was a story of oppression, often intended, sometimes unconscious. This dominant account was written by Dead White Males. The period from the 1970s to 2010s was spent dismantling that canon, attacking power and privilege in the name of liberal civil rights and equality.

This approach extolled cultural relativism: there was no objective truth, no higher class of knowledge, no text, no vision of cultural superiority which could be offered as a mode of control (subtext: unless it was the new, divergent, relativist, postmodernist canon).

The Age of Divergence

Morgenstern has realized that this attack on cultural and intellectual convergence brought about our present circumstances. Postmodern literary critics had stated that every text was equal. Every text had its own 'civil rights.' Boomer intellectuals and their Gen X students recovered silenced voices, women writers, slave poets, indigenous histories, minority views. This was understandable and justified, because so many people had been mistreated and oppressed for decades, centuries, millennia. Without their voices, our histories were incomplete and our whole understanding of reality would be based on injustice and immorality.

However, this recovery of lost texts was also done in the name of undermining established experts and authorities. This was really a generational power struggle inside the academic profession, but it was dressed up in and justified with theory. Old tenured professors were unseated, early-retired, or pushed out. The aim was to supplant the older generation of intellectuals (viewed as 'the 1950s') with a radical new generation (defined as '1968'). But time has finally caught up with the 1968ers, who are now retired or retiring.

It's not as simple as this, but broadly speaking, this is Morgenstern's summary of how radical liberals attacked conservative authorities of the 1950s and built new intellectual value systems from the 1970s onward.

Morgenstern concluded that the liberals were successful. As a result, we now live in a world where no text is taken as true or accepted solely on the basis of the authority of its author or publisher. Unfortunately for this stratum of intellectuals, they now claim expertise, and by their own logic find themselves attacked, just as they once dismantled the institutional and cultural structures which came before them. Only one Chronicle reader, rebek13, pinned down Moregenstern's idea:
"I'm confused by other commenters who seem to have missed the main points I took from this, which were not so much about 'the canon' at all, which the author admits had exclusionary tendencies (though it need not).

What I see here is a critique of our abdication of the very idea of expertise, excellence, and beauty--literary studies serving as a prime example, but only that. We have in a postmodern haze suggested that tweets are just as good as texts, and that anyone's opinion on literature, philosophy, or history is really probably just as good as the expert who has spent years studying these fields. In doing so, we have made ourselves absolutely pointless and suggested the uselessness of our very fields.

Isn't it very odd that professors of literature have such poor defenses of the study of long, dense literary texts? Isn't it odd that many of my colleagues have turned to facebook comments and recipe books as objects of study (not scrutiny, ever, but study) as though these articles were just as precious as a novel? Why should students understand the value of a long text if we are saying 'everything is literature; nothing is any more worthwhile than anything else'?

It's funny. Colleagues with creative writing backgrounds seem to have a much more profound and certain appreciation of literature than those who spend their lives studying it. They would never suggest that a tweet could achieve the same things as a book. They are not that far gone.

The solution as I see it is not a return to canon as much as a return to the idea that some modes of thought and expression ARE better than others, and that experts are in a pretty good position to tell people how and why. Then we need to be those experts."
In short, due to the Internet, we are awash in oceans of information; and the very people who were supposed to decide what information was authoritative staked their own authority over the past fifty odd years on the deconstruction of privilege around information. This overhaul was supposed to offer new freedom for disempowered liberals in the old, conservative system. It was not supposed to spell freedom for disempowered conservatives in the new, liberal system.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Awaken the Amnesiacs 10: The World of Machines and the Retired Engineer

Image from 2017's Cicada3301 rabbit hole, an online/real world code-breaking scavenger hunt. Some people believe that the Cicada online games are recruitment puzzles for an unknown organization. Image Source: Youtube.

This blog is named for a phrase written by Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) in his secret journals. In Yahuda MS 1.1, folio 16 recto, Newton wrote: "the holy Prophecies" of the Scripture are nothing else than "histories of things to come." He was using magic and religion to predict the future and the end of the world. The exact passage in his Untitled Treatise on Revelation (held at the National Library of Israel in the Yahuda manuscripts collection, as cited above; you can see the actual document here) reads:
Rules for interpreting the Apocalyps.

"12. The Construction of the Apocalyps after it is once deter {16r} mined must be made the rule of interpretations; And all interpretations rejected which agree not with it. That must not be strained to fit history but such things chosen out of history as are most suitable to that.

13. To interpret sacred Prophecies of the most considerable things & actions of those times to which they are applied. For if it would be weakness in an Historian whilst he writes of obscurer actions to let slip the greater, much less ought this to be supposed in the holy Prophesies which are no other then histories of things to come.

14. To proportion the most notable parts of Prophesy to the most notable parts of history, & the breaches made in a continued series of Prophesy to the changes made in history And to reject those interpretations where the parts and breaches of Prophesy do not thus bear a due proportion to the parts & changes in History. For if Historians divide their histories into Sections Chapters & Books at such periods of time where the less, greater & greatest revolutions begin or end; & to do otherwise would be improper: much more ought we to suppose that the holy Ghost observes this rule accurately in his prophetick dictates, since they are no other then histories of things to come. Thus by the great breaches made between the sixt & seventh seal by interposing the vision of the sealed saints, & between the sixt & seventh Trumpet by interposing the vision of the little book, that prophesy is divided into three cardinal parts, & the middle part subdivided by the little breach between the fourth & fift Trumpet made by interposition of the Angel crying Wo, & all the other seals & trumpets are as it were less sections. And therefore to these breaches & sections, according to the rule, must be adapted periods of time which intercede & disterminate proportional revolutions of history. Again if a Historian should use no proportion in his descriptions but magnify a less thing above a greater or attribute the more courage to the softer of two persons &c.: we {17r} should count it an argument of his unskilfulness. And therefore since the dictates of the Holy-Ghost are histories of things to come, such disproportions are not to be allowed in them. Thus in Daniel's vision of the four Beasts, it would be grosly absurd to interpret, as some Polititians of late have done, the fourth Beast of Antiochus Epiphanes & his successors; since that is described to be the most terrible, dreadfull, strong, & warlike Beast of all the four, & the Prophet dwels far longer upon the description of that then of all the others put together: whereas the kingdom of Antiochus Epiphanes & his successors was both less & weaker & less warlike then any of the three before him.

15. To chose those interpretations which without straining do most respect the church & argue the greatest wisdom & providence of God for preserving her in the truth. As he that would interpret the letters or actions of a very wise states man, so as thence to know the council wherewith they are guided & the designes he is driving on, must consider the main end to which they are directed & suppose they are such as most conduce to that end & argue the greatest wisdom & providence of the States-man in ordering them: so it is in these Prophesies. They are the counsels of God & so the most wise, & fittest for the end to which they are designed: And that end is the benefit of the Church to guide her & preserve her in the truth. For to this end are all the sacred prophesies in both the old and new Testament directed, as they that will consider them may easily perceive. Hence may appear the oversight of some interpreters whose interpretations if they were true would make the Apocalyps of little or no concernment to the Church. Perhaps what follows may be better inserted in the preface.

Yet I meane not that these Prophesies were intended to convert the whole world to the truth. For God is just as well as merciful, & punishes wickednes by hardening the wicked & {18r} visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children. But the designe of them is to try men & convert the best, so that the church may be purer & less mixed with Hypocrites & luke-warm persons. And for this end it is that they are wrapt up in obscurity, & so framed by the wisdom of God that the inconsiderate, the proud, the self-conceited, the presumptuous, the scholist, the sceptic, they whose judgments are ruled by their lusts, their interest, the fashions of the world, their esteem of men, the outward shew of thing or other prejudices, & all they who, of how pregnant natural parts soever they be, yet cannot discern the wisdom of God in the contrivance of the creation: that these men whose hearts are thus hardned in seeing should see & not perceive & in hearing should heare & not understand. For God has declared his intention in these prophesies to be as well that none of the wicked should understand as that the wise should understand, Dan: 12.

And hence I cannot but on this occasion reprove the blindness of a sort of men who although they have neither better nor other grounds for their faith then the Scribes & Pharisees had for their Traditions, yet are so pervers as to call upon other men for such a demonstration of the certainty of faith in the scriptures that a meer naturall man, how wicked soever, who will but read it, may judg of it & perceive the strength of it with as much perspicuity & certainty as he can a demonstration in Euclide. Are not these men like the Scribes & Pharisees who would not attend to the law & the Prophets but required a signe of Christ? Wherefore if Christ thought it just to deny a signe to that wicked & adulterate generation notwithstanding that they were God's own people, & the Catholique Church; much more may God think it just that this generation {19r} should be permitted to dy in their sins, who do not onely like the Scribes neglect but trample upon the law and the Prophets, & endeavour by all possible means to destroy the faith which men have in them, & to make them disregarded. I could wish they would consider how contrary it is to God's purpose that the truth of his religion should be as obvious & perspicuous to all men as a mathematical demonstration. Tis enough that it is able to move the assent of those which he hath chosen; & for the rest who are so incredulous, it is just that they should be permitted to dy in their sins. Here then is the wisdom of God, that he hath so framed the Scriptures as to discern between the good and the bad, that they should be demonstration to the one & foolishness to the other.

And from this consideration may also appear the vanity of those men who regard the splendor of churches & measure them by the external form & constitution. Whereas it is more agreable to God's designe that his church appear contemptible & scandalous to the world to try men. For this end doubtles he suffered the many revoltings of the Iewish Church under the Law, & for the same end was the grand Apostacy to happen under the gospel. Rev . If thou relyest upon the externall form of churches, the Learning of Scholars, the wisdom of statemen or of other men of Education; consider with thy self whither thou wouldest not have adhered to the scribes & Pharisees hadst thou lived in their days, & if this be thy case, then is it no better then theirs, & God may judg thee accordingly, unless thou chance to be on the right side, which as tis great odds may prove otherwise so if it should happen yet it would scarce excuse thy folly although it might something mitigate it.{/19r}{/18r}{/17r}{/16r}"
Newton's occult papers, some of which are now published online, were kept hidden for centuries. When these mysterious diaries resurfaced, about half of them were purchased in 1936 by the economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946); another large portion was collected by Abraham Shalom Yahuda (1877-1951). You can read details about the 1936 Sotheby's auction of Newton's 'Portsmouth Papers' here and here.

Isaac Newton, Untitled Treatise on Revelation, Yahuda MS 1.1, folio 16 recto (National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel). Published online June 2004. Click to enlarge.

It was Keynes who said that Newton “was not the first of the age of reason ... . He was the last of the magicians.” Keynes lectured on Newton in 1942 and 1943, waiting until the very end of his life to reveal this secret dimension of Newton's work. Prior to that, it was not public knowledge at all. The full text of Keynes's 1946 essay on 'Newton, the Man,' is here.

"much more ought we to suppose that the holy Ghost observes this rule accurately in his prophetick dictates, since they are no other then histories of things to come": Isaac Newton, Untitled Treatise on RevelationYahuda MS 1.1, folio 16 recto (National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, Israel). Published online June 2004. Click to enlarge.

Thus, the title suits this blog, which considers present trends in terms of their potential historical significance and imagines their future consequences. However, this blog also has that name to ask its readers to reconsider ideas they take for granted.

The reason we are discussing Newton now is because his papers were kept hidden and not brought to public light at all until the 1990s. They weren't disseminated online until the 2000s. That is a long time for a central piece of information about the Scientific Revolution to be missing. Newton's private papers tell us how he arrived at his scientific breakthroughs, his methods, and his intentions.

Newton's occult works mean, plain as day, that the Scientific Revolution is not, and never was, what we were told it was. On the surface, Enlightenment principles of secularism and rationalism rejected God and mystical and religious ideas as fairy tales. Religion offered an infantile grasp of the world, beyond which we have matured and evolved.

This would be convincing if secularism and rationalism did not bear all the operational marks of a heretical cult, complete with a hard little esoteric nut at the centre, available only to the initiated. The supreme irony that the cult declares itself the ultimate-anti-cult does not make it any less cultish.

In the cult-like anti-cult atmosphere, anomalies sit out in the open and provoke occasional confusion before the rationalist mantras seal everything back up.

Why was the father of modern science also an alchemist and magician? The occult writings are explained away: Newton was an extremely intelligent, curious individual and he lived in times when religion and superstition had not been completely extracted from scientific thought.

Was Newton really the last of the magicians? The post-2008 economic recovery from the Great Recession was managed according to Keynesian principles. Why was Keynes, a famous thinker in modern economics, so fascinated by Newton's esoteric writings? Keynes's Newtonian occult collection is explained away: it was the economist's personal interest. Magic had and has nothing to do with Keynesian economics.

Well, look at the bottom of this post, and read the transcript from the lecture by German philosopher Jürgen Mittelstraß. He describes the occult distinction between macrocosm and microcosm, with its famous magical spell 'as above so below.' Ask yourself if that sounds anything like the distinction between macroeconomics and microeconomics.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Time and Politics 21: Visits from the Dark-Haired Girl

The Dark Haired Girl by Philip K. Dick (published posthumously in 1989). In his Exegesis (published posthumously 2011), Dick admitted that the dark-haired girl who showed him the larger frame of spacetime and predicted totalitarian America was his dead twin sister. Image Source: Wiki.

This post follows on my post on Wuthering Heights, The Brontë Effect (16 September 2016), to explore the implications of inhabiting time as it really as, not as we perceive it. The 'Brontë Effect,' as I coined the term with reference to Dia Sobin's words, describes the 'reverberating Gestalt' one experiences after reading a work of powerful fiction such as Wuthering Heights, which makes one aware of compressed or overlapping time, temporal identities, and spacetime continua in different perceived realities.

To cross the boundaries, first of immediate, everyday perception, then of whole dimensions, then of multiverses, sounds far-fetched, but I have discussed what it means to live in reality while perceiving time in its whole dimensionality, and not as an arrow, here. From the 19th to the 20th centuries, the fourth dimension has been portrayed by writers elsewhere - by Fyodor DostoyevskyOscar WildeH. G. WellsJoseph ConradMarcel ProustRobert Heinlein, among many others - and notably by Philip K. Dick in "A World of Talent" (1954), which I have described hereIn that story, a precognitive boy is terrified by appearances of 'others.' At first, the reader assumes the boy is schizoid and hallucinating, but these are in fact other versions of himself at different ages. He can see all versions of himself, past, present and future.

A single event in time, perceived by an observer: "Subdivision of Minkowski spacetime with respect to an event in four disjoint sets. The light cone, the absolute future, the absolute past, and elsewhere. The terminology is from Sard (1970)." Image Source: Wiki.

Multiple events in time, perceived by an observer who is moving through spacetime. In the fourth dimension, an 'event' is an intersection between space and time, following a continuum, with each event causally relative to the next: "In modern physics, space and time are unified in a four-dimensional Minkowski continuum called spacetime, whose metric treats the time dimension differently from the three spatial dimensions." The above gif shows "[t]he momentarily co-moving inertial frames along the trajectory ('world line') of a rapidly accelerating observer (center). The vertical direction indicates time, while the horizontal indicates distance, the dashed line is the spacetime of the observer. The small dots are specific events in spacetime."

Our souls know a larger experience of space and time; and stories about souls raise perceptional and ethical questions about that larger experience. In an interview, one of Dick's ex-wives, Kleo Mini, stated that all of Dick's novels concerned the "internal workings of the soul .... He wrote about people's souls, not a word I use lightly."

Dick was fascinated by self-alienation and social alienation, the blind spot when you recognized neither your own soul, nor your place in the world. To survive that moral test, he considered how characters' souls might be externalized and projected back at them as different characters - exactly as Catherine and Heathcliff are projected upon one another in Wuthering Heights. In Dick's view, if your soul was personified outside you, you might fall in love with it, but you would not necessarily accept everything about it. You might hate it and not reconcile with it, which would be heart-breaking, torturous, and tragic.

Image Source: Frith Luton.

Image Source: Carl Jung.

Dick was influenced by unsolved soul puzzles with numinous qualities, which he first encountered in the work of science fiction writer, A. E. van Vogt, and later in the writings of Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, who thought that people were haunted by the shadow sides of their souls. Jung argued that for people to become psychologically and socially healthy, they must reconcile with their shadow. He further claimed that these shadows could embody an outer experience with the opposite gender in the anima or animus.

In Jung's hetero-assumed schema, when men and women went out into the world seeking love, they encountered opposite-gendered characterizations of their own souls. Jung theorized that men projected their soul's inner female back upon themselves; and women projected their inner male back upon themselves. Better love relationships depended on an ability to reconcile with one's opposite-gendered soul mirrors, such that one found increasingly sophisticated versions of one's mirror in the world. Men could progress through four anima soul shadow archetypes: Eve (the object of desire, who also reflects the security or insecurity around the man's mother); Helen (a woman who is externally able and beautiful, but internally lacking in virtue, faith, or imagination); Mary (a virtuous woman, who differentiates between lust and love); and Sophia (a woman of wisdom, who encompasses positive and negative qualities without being condemned). For women, the challenge was develop her inner masculine, so that she would externally find a man of physical power; then a capable man of action, a war hero or hunter; then a man of the mind, a professor, clergyman or orator; and finally, a man of hermetic enlightenment, one who could awaken in the woman a spiritual reconciliation between her soul's conscious and unconscious.

Image Source: Find a Grave.

In Jungian terms, the love relationship was a moral path in which a human being developed his or her own soul. Love was always self-referential, a struggle to improve and expand oneself spiritually, while other people became external reflections of, and catalysts in, the individual's internal process. All of this hinged on coping with the unseen, and interacting concretely or nebulously with elements of ourselves which exist beyond our linear experience of time. For Dick, the shadow anima was embodied not in a lover or wife, but in his twin sister, Jane Charlotte Dick, who died in infancy. Her presence haunted him all his life. She took form in characters in his work; he granted her far-seeing and Deus ex Machina roles. He further considered temporal aspects of the projected soul because Jane was dead. She was Philip's phantom agent, reporting from the other side. Because of Jane's influence on the famous author, she also inspired other writers. Perhaps this was why Dick considered the anima-animus not in terms of romance - as in Wuthering Heights - but in terms of society and politics.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Brontë Effect

Image Source: Opheliac Madness.

At the great blog, Trans-D, Dia Sobin finds artistic connections between layers of time and dimensional existence. Recently, she dug through a trove of old books - with initial posts here and here - and settled on a 1943 edition of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1847). She wrote an incredible post on how Catherine's and Heathcliff's love reveals the blurred boundaries of reality. I commented, because she described something one might call 'the Brontë Effect'; the italicized text cites Dia's post, with my comments in non-italics:
"'And, there is also the transdimensional aspect of the story: the odd way in which Emily presented her narratives, from several different points of view, intertwining numerous points in time, thereby, creating a weird, reverberating gestalt as opposed to a linear chronicle.' ... [I responded:] I felt that there was an indistinctness, especially because the characters give their kids the same names. Past, present and future are jumbled together. ...

I wonder if Emily Bronte was exposed via her father to Scottish freemasonry? Because when you look at the story in the sense of two souls in an alchemical marriage, the story becomes much more clear. Maybe she intuitively 'reached for' alchemical concepts without knowing them. I am sure someone has researched it. A lot of the primal gothic takes on the trans-dimensional or multi-dimensional aspects ... if you consider the alchemical. Across time, space, in new incarnations, like the two lovers embody a conflicting spirit of humans on the moors, but [also on] Jacob's Ladder ... ."
First, regarding Dia's observation that Wuthering Heights is trans-dimensional and multi-temporal, one senses this less in reading the novel, and more in the lingering impression after one reads it. The story leaves one with a feeling of time smashed together through characters' blurred and overlapping identities; their names and roles repeat, and generational tweaks are permitted over decades. The novel goes on forever, but Catherine is only about 18 years old when she dies at Thrushcross Grange. The 2009 dramatization had her die at age 25; either way, she remains eternally young and a persistent force.

ITV 2009 adaptation of Wuthering Heights, starring Tom Hardy as Heathcliff and Charlotte Riley as Catherine. Image Source: Elementary.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Organize the Non-Obvious

Image Source: Asymco/Black Rock via Twitter.

Yesterday, Florent Crivello tweeted the above graph while pondering theories in the famous book, Diffusion of Innovations by the late Everett M. Rogers, Professor of Communication and Journalism at the University of New Mexico, who analyzed how new technology spreads through cultures. Rogers divided society into five new technocratic classes: innovators; early adopters; early majority; late majority; laggards. Rogers sought to understand technological development by relating it to a social relationships. He died in 2004, before sites like Facebook took off, although he plainly anticipated social media. Perhaps it is better to consider not so much the bonds and relationships which drive social networks, as the underlying trends which drive the bonds and relationships. It's not who you know, it's why you choose to know them. Every social bond reinforces a particular view of the world.

Broadly speaking, there are two ways of understanding the world. You can turn dreams into reality. Or you can turn reality into dreams. Sigmund Freud observed this after meeting Theodor Herzl in Vienna. Where Freud analyzed the latter process, Herzl set out to accomplish the former possibility. But universal mastery resides with those who can do both. One may master the world of the self-evident to the highest degree, but still be defeated by the comatose.  A quotation, wildly attributed to Marcus Aurelius and Oswald Spengler: "The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious."

Millennial business preaches a one-way trip: turn your dreams into reality. This professional mantra is profoundly materialistic. The chart above shows that Millennial business leaders and professionals are working against the nature of the global communications trend and misunderstand the endgame of high technology. Every technological innovation in the graph moves us in the other direction, from reality into virtual reality. That mixed message creates the confusion, the frustration, the procrastination of people enmeshed at cross-purposes in a paradox: high tech societies demand that their citizens build more and more little realities, with tools plainly designed to immerse them in dreams.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Quantum Christmas

Jim Al-Khalili explains in a TED talk: robins may fly south in winter due to a process called 'quantum entanglement.' Image Source: Digital Photographer / Michael Williams.

Destiny and faith should be foreign concepts in the realm of science. But perhaps quantum physics will devise a formula for them. This possibility started in the 1930s, with Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and Niels Bohr (1885-1962) arguing whether or how objective reality could be measured, because observing something changes its nature into what we would call a subjective reality. Of course, the distinction between objective reality - which religious people sometimes associate with God - and subjective awareness - the world limited by our individual perceptions - is a very old problem. The 16th century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) wrote: "We are, I know not how, double in ourselves, so that what we believe we disbelieve, and cannot rid ourselves of what we condemn." The central question of religion asks: how are we flawed and animal humans connected to the larger order of the universe? Science asks the same question.

Image Source: Archillect.

To determine if it was possible to measure objective reality, Einstein and Bohr proposed a thought experiment to measure one particle of light, or photon, without affecting it. To do this, they proposed to measure a second particle that was related to the first one, and infer the nature of the related, but unmeasured, first particle. Then they encountered a curious problem. Their measurement of the second particle affected the nature of the first one, but they could not determine how the impact of their actions had been transferred to the first particle, especially because that information traveled instantaneously, that is, faster than the speed of light, which violated Einstein's Theory of Relativity. The distance between the photons did not matter either. They could be close together or on opposite sides of the universe. Einstein did not like this. Wiki:
[I]f a pair of particles is generated in such a way that their total spin is known to be zero, and one particle is found to have clockwise spin on a certain axis, then the spin of the other particle, measured on the same axis, will be found to be counterclockwise; because of the nature of quantum measurement. However, this behavior gives rise to paradoxical effects: any measurement of a property of a particle can be seen as acting on that particle (e.g. by collapsing a number of superposed states); and in the case of entangled particles, such action must be on the entangled system as a whole. It thus appears that one particle of an entangled pair "knows" what measurement has been performed on the other, and with what outcome, even though there is no known means for such information to be communicated between the particles, which at the time of measurement may be separated by arbitrarily large distances. ...

The counterintuitive predictions of quantum mechanics about strongly correlated systems were first discussed by Albert Einstein in 1935, in a joint paper with Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen. ... They wrote: "We are thus forced to conclude that the quantum-mechanical description of physical reality given by wave functions is not complete." ... 
Following the EPR paper, Erwin Schrödinger wrote a letter (in German) to Einstein in which he used the word Verschränkung (translated by himself as entanglement) "to describe the correlations between two particles that interact and then separate, as in the EPR experiment." He shortly thereafter published a seminal paper defining and discussing the notion, and terming it "entanglement." In the paper he recognized the importance of the concept, and stated: "I would not call [entanglement] one but rather the characteristic trait of quantum mechanics, the one that enforces its entire departure from classical lines of thought."

Like Einstein, Schrödinger was dissatisfied with the concept of entanglement, because it seemed to violate the speed limit on the transmission of information implicit in the theory of relativity. Einstein later famously derided entanglement as "spukhafte Fernwirkung" or "spooky action at a distance."
In 2013, Chinese physicists clocked the speed of 'spooky action at a distance.' They proved the speed of information as it moves through quantum entangled states is more than four times the speed of light, or three trillion metres per second. Their research paper was published in Physical Review Letters, vol. 110, listed here.

Quantum entanglement. Image Source: Glitch.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Awaken the Amnesiacs 3: The Hermetics

The hermetic principle of silence. Image Source: Lilipilyspirit.

Dark days behind us: today is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere (04:49 UTC). The December solstice refers to birth or rebirth of the weakened sun in northern countries, often described in allegorical terms, as one New Age writer puts it: "The sun is dawning after the increasing darkness of winter. The Winter Solstice is nature’s physical equivalent of a spiritual awakening and enlightenment." From Theosophy Northwest:
At the winter solstice the universal currents of life help human consciousness to enter divine spheres. At the same time spiritual energy can descend from higher worlds into the human arena: the gods "descend into hell" to garner experience in their underworld -- our own world -- thereby bringing inspiration and enlightenment to humanity. At this time each of us also may undergo a new birth. Nature has opened the door, and it is up to us to recognize this and take a step further.
For denizens of the New Age Internet, this solstice is the culmination of 2015's online spiritual awakening, perhaps a Fifth Great Awakening in the United States, occasioned by a proclaimed end to the war between the sexes. When combined with hermeticism, discussed in today's post, the gnostic truce between the sexes attacks all polarized categorizations of identity. Online gurus argue that only hardened egoists prosper in an environment where inflexible categorizations of identity are the norm. Spiritual commentators prefer to cultivate a continuum of identities and they expect that spectrum to expand social compassion.

The winter solstice at Stonehenge. Image Source: Stonehenge Trips.

In the aftermath of the supposed collapse of egocentric western dualism, hermeticists pick up the pieces, to recover cultural memory and allow their amnesiac followers to 'remember' earlier ways of identifying with the physical, rational, emotional and spiritual aspects of existence. The hermetic part of this phenomenon makes the now-gender-neutral collective unconscious 'conscious' in practical senses, as with the establishment of new political movements. Of course, the shift in values is not widespread or universal. Nor are gnostic-hermetic solutions necessarily good ones, whatever their devotees may expect.

One must step back from the arcane language and beliefs to observe the actual trend behind them. Online debates on these subjects in mid-late 2015 indicate a tipping point, wherein interaction in virtual reality has begun to change behaviour and awareness on deeper levels. The Internet is breaking down and synthesizing demarcated experiences, whether between mind and body, between the genders, between the individual and the collective, or between the local and global. Perhaps hermeticism and gnosticism are the most durable ideas available in western culture to describe flexible identification, as individuals find themselves simultaneously immersed in virtual reality and 'real' reality.

China's One Belt, One Road Initiative (2015). Image Source: Roman Wilhelm/MERICS/The Diplomat.

One may ask how spiritual issues pertain to hard reality. Why does the New Age Internet matter, when China is building naval bases in the South China Sea, the Red Sea, and on the west coast of Africa? These online trends matter because societies rise and fall according to their adaptability when confronted with jumps in technology, social changes, and ensuing geopolitical conflicts. World War III, when (or if) it arrives, and everything that leads up to it, will depend on global connectivity. How our brains respond to connectivity and the ideas we discover or rediscover through that response may be essential to cultural resourcefulness and survival.

To ask these questions about western values now is akin to asking how the introduction of the printing press in Germany (1439-1440) led to the Protestant Reformation (1517-1617) and the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). The spiritual and moral outlook of a society is indexed to its level of technology and prosperity. When the latter two factors change, so does the former. Anomie and aporia, experienced then as now, will lead to experiments to develop values better suited to new ways of living. But that process emerges through trial and error. Societies sometimes depend on war to determine a new dominant narrative.

My treatment of these topics comes with a caveat. While I may comment on unusual online material here, I do not personally identify with evidence I uncover. Hermetic traditions and politics can be weird, occult, radical, fringe or extremist. My comments in this series of blog posts do not constitute my endorsement of these beliefs. They are presented here as part of an examination of the cultural historical impact of the Internet on western values, under increasingly universalized, yet decentralized and chaotic conditions. I also do not personally agree with conspiracy theories mentioned here, but rather regard them as signs of contemporary mentalities.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Awaken the Amnesiacs 2: The Gnostics

The gnostic twin flame subculture (September 2015). Image Source: The Spirit Science.

In any society, there is no more powerful source of values than the relationship between the sexes. It precedes all other assumptions, so central is it to existence. In a previous post in this series, I observed a trend in the second half of 2015, in which online New Age communities declared an end to the war between the sexes. That redefinition has entered the western media through debates on gender dualism, gender neutrality, gender fluidity and transgenderism. As the trend reaches the mainstream, it marks a huge shift in western values.

The origins of this trend are at least as old as Christianity, if not older, and developed alongside it. For centuries, westerners have been toying with the feminine-oriented Christian heresy of gnosticism, which drew from neo-Platonism - and the masculine-dominated cult of hermeticism, derived from eastern mystery religions. The Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana must have whole collections devoted to these heresies' periodic resurgences, although they will not always confirm that. In the 2010s, Christian and post-Christian westerners began to combine these heresies. That is not difficult, since both belief systems involve a spiritual journey which culminates in a final merger of the sexes. Cross-pollination within western esotericism is not novel, and merely constitutes a third, enduring strand in the western tradition, opposite Judeo-Christian religion and Enlightenment rationalism.

What is new is how the dynamics of global connectivity create fertile beds for heretical cult behaviour around gender neutrality, expressed through technology and inside technological spaces. I will not summarize gnostic ideas here, because I have in other posts, particularly this one. Upcoming posts in this series address the hermetic 'practical' application of the gnostic vision and explain the possible real world impacts of this shift in values. But I will start here, inside the blind spot of 2015's technological gnostic worship. A caveat: This post reports on these trends as historical cultural phenomena and not as an indication of my personal opinions on these matters, which are private.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Photo of the Day: Bathroom Subjectivity

Photo "found inside a stall at a gas station in Virginia." Image Source: Facebook.

You can read Bertrand Russell, Problems of Philosophy (1912), chapter two, for free online here. According to Russell, the original problem from Decartes' "I think, therefore I am" confronts the distinction between subjective and objective, rather fitting for a bathroom wall in Virginia, or anywhere else for that matter:
"'I think, therefore I am,' he said (Cogito, ergo sum); and on the basis of this certainty he set to work to build up again the world of knowledge which his doubt had laid in ruins. By inventing the method of doubt, and by showing that subjective things are the most certain, Descartes performed a great service to philosophy, and one which makes him still useful to all students of the subject.

But some care is needed in using Descartes' argument. 'I think, therefore I am' says rather more than is strictly certain. It might seem as though we were quite sure of being the same person to-day as we were yesterday, and this is no doubt true in some sense. But the real Self is as hard to arrive at as the real table, and does not seem to have that absolute, convincing certainty that belongs to particular experiences. When I look at my table and see a certain brown colour, what is quite certain at once is not 'I am seeing a brown colour', but rather, 'a brown colour is being seen'. This of course involves something (or somebody) which (or who) sees the brown colour; but it does not of itself involve that more or less permanent person whom we call 'I'. So far as immediate certainty goes, it might be that the something which sees the brown colour is quite momentary, and not the same as the something which has some different experience the next moment.

Thus it is our particular thoughts and feelings that have primitive certainty. And this applies to dreams and hallucinations as well as to normal perceptions: when we dream or see a ghost, we certainly do have the sensations we think we have, but for various reasons it is held that no physical object corresponds to these sensations. Thus the certainty of our knowledge of our own experiences does not have to be limited in any way to allow for exceptional cases. Here, therefore, we have, for what it is worth, a solid basis from which to begin our pursuit of knowledge. The problem we have to consider is this: Granted that we are certain of our own sense-data, have we any reason for regarding them as signs of the existence of something else, which we can call the physical object?"
Philosophical discussions on how to verify truth and reality have never been more relevant than they are now, with malleable truth dominating the Internet and a growing confusion about the distinction between virtual reality and everyday 'real' reality.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Lost Cities: Islamic State's Idols of the Future

Detail of an Assyrian relief from Nimrud showing horses and horsemen of the royal chariot, 725 BCE. Image Source: Steven Vidler/Eurasia Press/Corbis via The Guardian.

Breadcrumbs in the forest: last fall, while looking for Indian silk fabric on eBay, I noticed Syrian daggers for sale, scattered creepily in between the silk listings. Were they antiquities? For some time, reports that the Islamic State have been selling and destroying the precious archaeological and historical cultural heritage of the Near East. On 26 February 2015, after pledging a year ago that they would not do so, they destroyed Mosul's antiquities museum and library, displayed in sickening videos (below). In early March 2015, after looting the ancient palace, they bulldozed the antique city of Nimrud. The Guardian:
"Nimrud, about 20 miles south of Mosul, was built around 1250 BC. Four centuries later it became the capital of the neo-Assyrian empire – at the time the most powerful state on Earth, extending to modern-day Egypt, Turkey and Iran."

Ruins of Hatra.
This is a radical Islamic "cultural cleansing" of ancient history. Islamic State militants are eradicating Iraq's and Syria's past, a cultural history shared with other ancient societies. It is that common heritage, as well as the anachronistic destruction of so-called idolatry, which these fighters are erasing. Abdulamir Hamdani, an Iraqi archaeologist from Stony Brook University in New York, commented:
"Hatra of course will be next," he added, referring to a 2,000-year-old UNESCO-listed site about 100 kilometres south of Mosul known for its beautifully preserved temples blending Hellenistic, Roman and Eastern influences."
And on 7 March 2015, BBC reported that Hatra had just been demolished by Islamic State. Shortly after, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS. Their "artifacts mafia" are making millions upon millions through the sale of antiquities: in Tel Abyad on the Syrian-Turkish border; in Kilis, Turkey; in London, Munich and Brussels; and in other European capitals. With cold hard cash from antiquities sales, the Islamic State fighters are arming themselves to the teeth. They have scrounged weapons originating from China, Russia and the United States ("some were even made at a major U.S. munitions plant in Missouri"). They are buying weapons in black markets in Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Eastern Europe and Iran. There is much stock-taking of their military equipment. Regular munitions and tanks: reports hereherehereherehere and here. Chemical weapons: here, here and here. Nuclear materials: here, here and here. And, with a twist on US weapons airdrops, here - is the real story this, or this?

The Telegraph suggested  on 6 March 2015 that the price of oil has been manipulated down to cut off Islamic State's oil refinery revenues, and in desperation IS are turning more and more to the plunder of antiquities to make money.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Before the Ides of March

Street art by PichiAvo in Almería, Spain. Image Source: Knihovna Chrášťany.

Do you remember the year you first connected to the Internet? I have friends who participated in primitive discussion forums in 1992. I got my first email address in early 1995. At the time, it felt as though I had held out as long as possible. Happy anniversary: I have been online for twenty years.

Street art by PichiAvo at Hip Hop Street in Vicar, Almeria, Spain. Image Source: Street Art Hub.

On 7 May 2014, the L. A. Times reported how many people in the world have Internet access and how many do not:
60% of world's population still won't have Internet by the end of 2014. A report this week by the United Nations says nearly 3 billion people around the world will have access to the Internet by the end of 2014. But 4.2 billion will remain unconnected. ...
A commenter responded that Internet access should not be held in balance against commodities of basic survival - but should it?
While 60% of the world doesn't have internet, 69% won't have clean water, full medical services, low risk of war, incomes above $6900 a year, or above average infant mortality rates. You think the 900 million Chinese who are picking rice or working in sweatshops care about internet...
This dichotomy between the developed, connected world and developing, unconnected worlds, between being globally plugged in and anchored in a local reality, repeats in personal microcosm. We have connected lives online and distinct lives in meatspace. Constantly shifting from one's sea legs to one's land legs is stressful. How essential - or detrimental - is online activity to our basic survival, development and growth as individuals in the real world?

Street art by PichiAvo from Mislatas representan 2014 in Valencia, Spain. Image Source: Art the System.

It feels as though virtual life is growing at the expense of real life. When Karl Marx wrote that religion was the opiate of the masses, he could not have imagined this most potent drug, which keeps over 3 billion people pacified (you can watch them joining the Internet, one by one, here). Forty per cent of the world's population is connected. The push to get the remaining 60 per cent connected made me think about enormous budding economies and nascent power groups. With all that potential, the Internet could be a seat of freedom or the foundation of tyranny. What it will become depends on how one manages time online and off.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sheeple in the Year of the Sheep: Illusion and Illumination

Mainly in Asian countries and communities, 2015-2016 is the year of the Sheep, according to the Lunar calendar. Image Source: CNN.

How do we see Sheeple in the Year of the Sheep? Does the Lunar New Year's conciliatory message resolve the trend toward Millennial alienation, conflict and aggression? Can the values of Asia's Year of the Sheep or Goat, such as pacifism, collective action and creativity, ease the tensions caused by western gnosticism? In yesterday's post, I outlined how gnostic beliefs provide the background "social pathology of the political religions." Gnosticism built the central myth of our time: the four-fold Enlightenment illusion of rationalism, of higher knowledge through conflict, of control of the nature, and of human power over the earth. In today's post, I consider the Lunar New Year's symbols as a solution to this problematic myth, despite the fact that 'sheeple' are ridiculed by today's gnostically-minded.

Image Source: Pyramids and Sheeple.

Image Source: Seeking Alpha.

Image Source: Democratic Underground.

Image Source: Red Pill.

Image Source: XKCD.

"Making XKCD slightly worse." Image Source: Simon Software.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Lunar New Year's Conformity and Gnostic Alienation

Gnostic symbols. Image Source: MISTÉRIOS DE RENES-LE-CHÂTEAU.

How are the astrological symbols and messages of Asia's Lunar New Year relevant to Millennial life? The Year of the Goat or Sheep encourages conformity and pacifism, conciliation and acceptance of authority, but allows for creativity and a healing of past wrongs. These values oppose the confrontational and competitive alienation of the Millennial mind, which calls for leaders, not followers.

What is the origin of this confrontational alienation? This spring, Pacifica Graduate Institute in California is pondering the central myth of our time in a debate on Carl Jung's Red Book. I would argue that the Millennial myth derives from the Enlightenment era's hyper-rationalism, and an associated arrogance inflated by mechanistic advances in industry, science and technology.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Wrong Side of Enlightenment

"A Japanese student was allegedly kidnapped and gang raped by five Indian men near the Buddhist shrine Bodh Gaya for a month." Image Source: Daily Mail.

If you want a cataclysmic, in-a-nutshell example of what is wrong with the world today, read the news item from a few days ago about the Japanese student who was kidnapped and gang raped for a month near the site where Buddha attained enlightenment in India. Or: follow today's coverage of the Charlie Hebdo al Qaeda terrorist murders in Paris, in which twelve people died, including a policeman who was shot in the head at point blank range. The summary of those events is here. The two outrages bookended Christmas in December and Orthodox Christmas, which is celebrated on 7 January in the Julian calendar.

Al Qaeda terrorist murdered a policeman in Paris on 7 January 2015. Image Source: Mirror.