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.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Awaken the Amnesiacs 9: A True Mirror of a Better World

The preface to this post is a new piece I have published at Vocal Media:

Part of my series, Awaken the Amnesiacs, involves coming to terms with life in a surveillance state, where privacy has been lost. My earlier post, Reflection Reversal, introduced the idea that computer screens and monitors act like mirrors which turn viewers into objects, rather than subjects.

The core of this idea is the fact that we think we are in control of technology. Tools are objects and we are subjects. Right? We think we are using computers to empower and express ourselves. But there is a warning sign in our addiction to technology.

Our technology is constantly subliminally objectifying us, enslaving us, and siphoning off our energy. This unconscious inversion of individual integrity is creating underlying cognitive dissonance, tension, anxiety, and stress. As a result, we are absolutely convinced that 'something is wrong' with the whole world. There is endless harping, conflict and confusion over 'who is to blame' for this grating distress. It never occurs to us that 'what is wrong' is the lens we are using to view reality, not reality itself, nor the people [insert annoying/threatening group here] who bother us.

Thus, part of resolving 'what is wrong' with the world is not to: ramp up our attacks on the annoying people who bother us; or to withdraw into depressive, individual introspection; or to get lost in wacky spiritual practices or cults; or to become engrossed in conspiracy theories as a comforting alt-reality; or to lose yourself in virtual reality environments like Facebook or video games; or to heal what is wrong by self-sacrificing to aid the world and help others; or to immerse yourself  completely in the real world, like work, job, bank account, and hard, cold facts no matter what ...

Part of resolving 'what is wrong' with the world involves reconsidering the art of perception and self-perception in the turbulent times of the nascent surveillance state.

So how should we define ourselves? As we see ourselves, as others see us, or as technology sees us? The conventional self-help wisdom these days is to define ourselves from the inside out, not the outside in. We are counseled to know ourselves, and to go forth in the world in an authentic and grounded way.

The Limits of Consciousness

Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality | Anil Seth (18 July 2017). Video Source: Youtube.

Good luck with that! Before you can get past the social contract, the job, the expectations, the cv - before you can tame your ego and become a soulful human being through internal consciousness and then try to awaken beyond consciousness - and before you can even get to the fact that computers are constantly undermining that process - there is another problem.

Consciousness -- the final frontier | Dada Gunamuktananda | TEDxNoosa 2014 (16 April 2014). Video Source: Youtube.

The True Mirror

We almost never see ourselves accurately, at least physically. Because we primarily have used mirrors to see ourselves, we do not see ourselves correctly, nor do we know how others see us.

Robbie Burns Day just passed, and the great Scottish poet wrote in his 1786 poem, To a Louse:
"in the original Scottish, 'O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!' Or, in modern English, 'Oh would some Power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.'"

The art of being yourself | Caroline McHugh | TEDxMiltonKeynesWomen (15 February 2013). Video Source: Youtube. (Thanks to -A.)

In February 2013, the Scottish self-help author, Caroline McHugh, gave a speech at TEDx in which she spoke of the True Mirror, an experiment in which a mirror is constructed so that you can see how others see you, at least physically:
"So some years ago, I was on a flight to New York and I read an article in the FT, and it was an article about a phenomenon called a True Mirror ... . So the True Mirror was actually invented by a brother and sister team in New York called John and Catherine Walter ... and what they discovered was that if you take two mirrors and you put them together at right angles and you take the seam away the images bounce off each other. And what you see when you look in a True Mirror is exactly what other people see when they look at you.

So I land in New York and I phone John up and ask him if I can go and see him, and I end up in his gallery in Brooklyn ... . There were True Mirrors full length, face sized, all over this gallery. And when I walked over to the True Mirror for the first time ... it was one of the most disorientating experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

The first thing you notice when you look in a True Mirror is that your head’s not on straight. So yours is kind of going that way, and yours is quite straight actually, and yours is going that way a wee bit. So, apparently most of us tilt our heads one way or another, so when you approach a True Mirror the first thing you try and do is fix your head, but, of course, because it’s reversed you go the wrong way."
The True Mirror made McHugh conclude that the people who are most successful go forth in the world by being completely true to who they really are. Some of that involves not knowing how others see us, or not caring, or not knowing even how we see ourselves, but nevertheless staying true to what we know ourselves to be:
"[W]hen you look in a True Mirror you don’t look at yourself, you look for yourself. You look for revelation, not for reassurance. And this was deeply interesting to me because what I do for a living is I help people be themselves. Not in any narcissistic or solipsistic way, but because I believe that social reformation begins — always starts with the individual.

And when you look at remarkable individuals, and when I say remarkable, or successful individuals, I don’t mean monetarily successful. I mean people that have been successful at achieving whatever they set out to do. You’ll find that the thing they have in common is they have nothing in common. These are people who work in many of the fields that I work in. I work with people in corporations, I work with captains of industry, I work with selected politicians. I’ve worked with geophysicists. I’ve worked with chamber orchestras, and ballet dancers, and pop stars, and opera singers.

And I’ve identified the thread that links them. These are individuals who have managed to figure out the unique gift that the universe gave them when they incarnated, and then put that at the service of their goals."
One of the artists whom McHugh mentions, John Walter, has posted Youtube videos about his True Mirror installations and experiments. He explains that all our lives, we look at ourselves in mirrors which reverse our image. As a result, our self-image always carries an element of doubt and insincerity. The mundane experience of self-reflection is left flawed and incomplete by this simple issue with an everyday tool. Consciousness becomes aware of itself as a separate, problematized self, mysteriously and oddly and inexplicably separated from its true nature.

Other people also do not see us as we appear in normal mirrors. However, a True Mirror - first patented in 1887 - shows our reflection as others actually see us, as we really appear in the world.

John Walter explains the True Mirror: 20160324 082114 (25 March 2016). Video Source: Youtube.

There are lots of videos on Youtube revealing how surprised people are when they look in a True Mirror, because they look different from the way they have always seen themselves. If you want to buy a True Mirror for your home, Walter sells them on his Website, here.

Shifting Self-Consciousness beyond Separation

Of course, we are not an image. But at least the True Mirror offers a way to help reunite and heal the wounded consciousness, which has been shaped by this flawed, habitual, tool-driven experience. All our lives, our reflections have quietly lied to us, whispering that we are backwards and separate from our own true natures.

This is why globally, many cultures are haunted by the idea of separation and reversal, that we have a separate self, a shadow self, a reversed double, or twin who needs to be reunited with the true self and healed.

Even Eden was supposedly defined by Doppelgänger: God-Satan; Adam-Eve; and two trees, one forbidden (the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil), the other not, its fruit the antidote to the Fall (the Tree of Life). The fault line between the true self and the fractured self is symbolically symptomatic of 'what is wrong with the world.' From Jekyll-Hyde to Joker-Batman and all the paired-doublings and couplings in between, we encounter this story again and again.

Sometimes the fracturing becomes more complicated, but the story remains the same. For example, the 1992 Quentin Tarantino film, Reservoir Dogs, features six characters named Mr. Blonde, Mr. Blue, Mr. Brown, Mr. Orange, Mr. Pink, and Mr. White. There is an Internet rumour - somewhat supported by real research - that MK-Ultra mind control programmers use colour coding to name different split personalities, which they artificially create in one, tortured individual. The site, The Ivory Garden, explains that process of traumatic conditioning and what each colour means.

At any rate, the idea that we are separated from nature and God in a universal, mystical sense is a revolutionary idea. Enlightenment secularism was grounded in this fixation on, and redefinition of, subjectivism and objectivism.

In Enlightenment terms, human reason operates separate from any larger objectivity (usually conceived as divine) which might define the general state of nature. The idea that the mind is subjective, separate and limited and that it dares to take on the judgement and responsibilities of the mythical, unlimited consciousness of God has shaped world history for the past 320 years.

The Enlightenment replaced God with man, then (remembering women) replaced God with humans. This movement deified human rationality and distorted our understanding of the material world as a playground which that rationality could experiment upon and control. All this was justified by the premise that there was nothing mystical or magical or 'woo' about our brains. Brains are just bags of grey matter.

And this is why the Enlightenment's acolytes live and die by the idea that humans at odds with nature, a plague on the planet who are nonetheless its nervous masters and mistresses. They are separate, cut off from the environment. But they always have a rationalized formula to describe, contain, manage and readjust that problem of separateness. In short, the idea of the deified, divided, limited self justified rationalized control and exploitation of the material world, of everything we can explore with our senses. This is the kind of troubled secularism that cuts down whole rain forests and then wrings its hands and tries to save whatever remains.

This is why we stand at a crossroads with technology. In one swift move, it could be used as a True Mirror to heal that faulty and painful Enlightenment triad of fractured consciousness, physical domination, and deified-but-limited rationalism. Technology could help us consider that we are whole in, and unified with, the larger universe. We are still fully integrated in nature, not cut off from it. All our actions, including our bad ideas, are fruits of this planet's natural system, and they always were. Our disconnection from the environment is an illusion. Mind you, to recognize and dismantle that illusion, everything we think we know about our consciousness, the natural world, and objective reality would have to change. We could not longer play God in the material world and would have to accept a much larger field of self-understanding. This is terrifying for hard rationalists. It is also unsettling for people with old-fashioned religious beliefs.

Or, we could use technology like normal mirrors of reversal, deepening the Enlightenment malaise, and traveling ever further in our consciousness from our own true selves and true natures. Away from harmony, away from unity with something larger. In that direction lies the creation of surveillance totalitarianism and deep slavery, decked and clothed in the labels of everything that state will not be: union, convenience, and liberty.

Soon in this series: cameras, selfies, surveillance tech, and A.I. assistants.

See all my posts in the series, Awaken the Amnesiacs.

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