Why Honesty Is Not a Moral Value: Conclusion (let’s call it) to a Series of Essays Inspired by the Book, “The Dawn of Everything”

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

But the cosmic vision can’t replace the narrow vision or the mid-range vision. We need to move freely between all three vantage points in order to scan the world as honestly as possible. So it’s a nested hierarchy of perception, where the cosmic puts the narrower communal and personal vantage points in their proper place. Without this fluidity of perception, our limited stories lose that tether to reality and become deceitful to the point of self-destruction.

Refusing to see the world honestly is the quickest way to be killed.

For instance, we could call this a dangerous world or we could call this an evil world. Both would be fictions. But the first one is more consistent with life in a wilderness, and we’re always living at the edge of a wilderness, because life always exceeds the idea, because they are two different substances, and never the twain shall meet

As in any earthly wilderness, it’s best to approach the unknown as a danger, but not as an evil. If we were to live by the fiction that the woods are evil, then the animals we encounter would increasingly live up to that billing. This is how schizophrenia becomes so convincing. The world responds to our stories, whether they’re honest or deceptive stories. Even positive thinking is deceptive. What it produces is a false front, a positive deception. Even if we’re not technically schizophrenic, the same principle exists. An “evil” interpretation would corner the beings we encounter into living up to that billing – they’d sense our fear aggression and respond in kind, seeing us as a threat — or they’d simply refrain from helping the flailing and drowning world (Chomsky’s Martians, for instance) and let it drown.

But if we approach the wilderness as dangerous, but not evil, then we’ll be able to notice other non-aggressive qualities in our fellow animals, and learn to avoid provoking them. We might learn to become friends with some of them, as we did in befriending wolves and wild cats.

The world responds to our stories. The deceptive stories can be too rose-colored as well. If we approached the wilderness as a paradise of love, we’d blind ourselves to the dangerous potentials that are also there and not live long either.

The problem with the bullshit of “positive thinking” is that the naively rose-tinted glass-wearers end up eaten.

But – and this we don’t acknowledge enough — the same is true for the cynics, for the ash-tinted glass-wearers (who think positively still, but only in dark directions). We give the cynics far too much credit for a “worldly intelligence” they Do Not Possess. They also end up provoking a world that eats them. It’s the naïve Literalism, the ignorant certainties, the stupid belief in something called “non-fiction”, which is the deeper problem. The problem is a lost perceptual fluidity. 

Somehow the breath-taking significance of this is lost on most of us most of the time. We don’t see the implications of what we’ve discovered here. This discovery of a prismatic capacity to see everything as honest fictions erases the need for conflict. And this relationship to fiction shows us how it’s possible to move through the world as blindly as Helen Keller, knowing nothing in a positive sense, tapping the canes of our metaphors and stories to obtain negative information (tap, there’s an obstruction, tap, there’s a limit to our metaphor, tap, change direction), and from that negative flow of information, we re-design our theories, stories, myths and metaphors, with no intention of finding conclusion, except perhaps in limited fields of inquiry, and even these may alter radically as more dots of data emerge, and this underlying uncertainty allows us to “keep going” deeper and deeper into this weird, miraculous and unfathomable world.

What Is Radically New: Part IV of a Series of Essays Inspired by the Book, “The Dawn of Everything”

first there is a mountain

“…theory is largely a game of make-believe in which we pretend, just for the sake of argument, that there’s just one thing going on: essentially we reduce everything to a cartoon so as to be able to detect patterns that would be otherwise invisible… One must simplify the world to discover something new about it. The problem comes when, long after the discovery has been made, people continue to simplify” (The Dawn of Everything).

Part I

Part II

Part III

Re-Discovering a Non-Dogmatic Cosmic Vision

Is it possible to think outside these national and supra-national controlling bodies on a communal level, while also relating to the cosmos outside the boundaries of any religious doctrines and beliefs (which are reductive surrogates of a cosmic perspective)?

A non-dogmatic approach to the cosmic perspective is one of the main themes of the Negative Geography inquiry. But I’ll try to approach it somewhat differently here.

If we were asked to imagine a cosmic perspective many of us would probably feel cornered into selecting one or another Ism or scientific theory or any conclusive opinion, whether rose-colored or ash-tinted. Or we might use vague terms like I used — “the whole” or “the cosmos”. Anything we conceive would amount to a cartoonish summary of something that can’t be pictured as a whole, because in picturing the whole we pretend to stand outside this conception in order to grasp it. In its place we relate to a singular projection of our imagination, which is separate from the observer, therefore a fragmented vision, not a real experience of wholeness.

We can’t picture, grasp or describe a cosmic perspective. It becomes a matter of faith. But there is blind faith in ideas, constructs, conclusions, dogmas. And there is a kind of “activated” faith that is creedless, that is “proven” by default, by running into our own limits and realizing that there is always something larger and more profound in the world. We don’t know what it is, but there is a kind of clear-minded faith that develops in what exceeds us.

I mean, even a cynic who doesn’t believe in “the whole of life” is summarizing the whole of life as non-existent. That is, we’re all forced to account for the cosmic lens one way or another, whether we want to admit it or not. Some fill it in with wishful thinking or cynicism, and some with scientific theories.

But is the cosmic perspective activated by filling it with words and ideas? Doesn’t this reduce the cosmic vision to a narrower and more static form?

Or is the cosmic dimension precisely that area of life that can’t be filled, that is constantly overflowing every container we try to build. If so, then the cosmic lens is precisely that state of mind which remains open-ended and uncertain.

The cosmic view, in other words, can be felt as a relationship to this solid limit in our understanding. It’s a vision wider than the widest view, because it detects the limits of every positive attempt to frame it. So there’s no need for a positive cosmic creed, only this direct experience of “something more”, something constantly escaping our grids of understanding (which I’m calling Negative Knowledge).Read More »

What We Retain: Part III of a Series of Essays Inspired by the Book, “The Dawn of Everything”

earth

Part I

Part II

Retaining Technology, Politics and Economy

Technology isn’t the problem by itself. Technological solutions are often necessary. But not as a primary focus. I can almost picture a sane (by no means Utopian) world, which steals an element from Amish culture – not a wholly luddite element, but the element in their culture that is considerate in its rate of adopting new technologies. Otherwise, technological development becomes an accelerating end in itself, which has a hypnotic and reductive effect on human consciousness (as noted in several essays).

But how could such a carefully considered approach to technology be organized?

It wouldn’t work as a top-down imposition, as it would for the Amish, who are pretty much stuck within a narrow system. Any top-down imposition of rules is a reductive strategy in itself, which bends eventually towards dictatorship. But profound shifts in social realities (such as our relationship to technology) would begin on a grassroots level, preceding the imposition of new laws. The Civil Rights era, for example, represented an alteration in the balance of attitudes towards white privilege, and this started to happen prior to any changes in law.

Let me ramble a while in this direction and see if we can return to this question.

Most grassroots social movements still feel compelled to beseech “authorities” for changes in top-down rules, still end up trying to persuade the kings and queens of commerce and government to give their permission for any grassroots shift that is already happening. Governments and titans of commerce yielded to the Civil Rights movement, for instance, because they felt the implicit threat to the whole system of power if they didn’t yield. Or they yielded to the grassroots movement of smoking grass, for instance, because they were lured there by the promise of controlling the revenue stream.

But beseeching these authoritative bodies also keeps us narrowly tied to the harness of commerce, and government, so that nothing significant in that sense ever changes. We earn a certain freedom of movement, yes, but still within the old reins (or reigns) – still trapped in systems of control (and machine intelligence is that system). Trying to live without a cell phone, for instance, is becoming almost impossible. Everything is being streamlined to assist the management of people on a grand scale, primarily it seems via apps on phones. (Not because the Bilderbergs have a broad vision they’re trying to enact, but precisely because they don’t have one, or have only a desacralized vision of manipulated self-interest, where a cosmic lens might once have been). At any rate, we’re still reined to the system, but hats off to those who are trying to build a community off-grid.Read More »

Notes on the Difference Between Closed and Open Views of Evolution: or why machine intelligence will fail

 

Careful how you move. The beginning is always treacherous. Here the pattern is established. The ink dries fast.

I don’t even know yet whom I’m addressing or what I am, but already a momentum has been established in these notes, an artificial destiny of sorts that I can’t trust entirely, nor will I try to dissipate this cloud of uncertainty by framing it prematurely. Something is evolving here that can’t be shaped intentionally, but which is nevertheless shaped by how honestly I attend its birth. So what pushes the evolution towards a beginning, middle and end? 

The beginning is found in these clouds of uncertainty, ghosts of ideas dissipating before they take clear shape, pareidolic in nature, the dust of thought suspended in the oblique light of a dawning concern, over-heated in some ways, to be sure, the Brownian Motion of listless thoughts resolving into more heated currents of desire and fear, the twisting smoke from the cooling coal of a brain, shrapnel from the Big Bang, recapitulating the evolution that had no destiny either, perhaps, and like spilled ink pouring out of a black hole, something forms, and then it looks inevitable, but it never was.

Language is my morning cup of acid. The psychedelics of language turning this perfectly transparent day into an opaque mass that can be molded into a figurine through which I see the reflection of a mind emerging as if it were destiny. Read More »