Archive | March 2017

The Dream Society and The Global Brain

Earlier, I asked you to imagine yourself as being suddenly thrown into a Kafka novel, a Dali painting, or an Escher print, as though these mind-bending scenarios had suddenly become the context of your life — the absurd and the surreal, like Alice in Wonderland or Dorothy in Oz.  Aporia, a sense of bewilderment, perplexity, or sense of chaos, is most likely the feeling you would have within those contexts.

And this is, ironically, not far from the truth of things, already partially realised in and as “the Anthropocene”, and in connected themes like Rolf Jensen’s The Dream Society and Howard Bloom’s The Global Brain. The dreamy quality in Kafka, Dali, and Escher were anticipations of the imagined world made “real”, of the breakdown of the subject-object differentiation that underlies themes like “New Normal” and related issues of “post-rational” or “post-truth” society. Bloom’s “Global Brain” and Jensen’s “Dream Society” are corresponding issues which, together, make for “the Anthropocene”. Accordingly, as William Blake put it, we do not see things as they are, but as we are, for, in effect, the “global brain” corresponds to Blake’s “Urizen” and “the Dream Society” to Blake’s “Ulro”.

We now live inside the matrix of this “global brain” — the thick network of global information and trade flows — and that matrix is the “dream society”. This “new within” is the essence of the New Normal, of “the Anthropocene”, or what Adam Curtis also describes as “hypernormalisation“.

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Our Aporia

Imagine, if you will (as if, these days, you need to imagine it at all) that you wake up one morning and find yourself propelled into a Franz Kafka novel, or into a painting by Salvador Dali or a mind-bending M.C. Escher print. What you would most likely experience is a state of aporia where nothing makes sense. Aporia might be translated as “puzzlement” or bewilderment, but perhaps “stupefaction” is the most accurate translation of the meaning of aporia.

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Shockwave Rider

The mouse-soul is nothing but a nibbler.
To the mouse is given a mind
proportionate to its need,
for without need, the All-Powerful doesn’t give anything to anyone.

Need, then, is the net for all things that exist:
A person has tools in proportion to his need.
So quickly, increase your need, needy one,
that the sea of abundance
may surge up in loving-kindness — Rumi, “Increase Your Need”

I once considered naming this blog “Shockwave Rider” rather than The Chrysalis. Shockwave Rider (1975) was the title of a seemingly prescient science fiction novel by the British catastrophist writer John Brunner (along with other dystopian novels of economic, ecological and environmental disaster like The Sheep Look Up (1972) and Stand on Zanzibar (1968)).

I actually don’t recall if I ever read Shockwave Rider, but the title of the book has always struck me as an appropriate description of our situation, reminiscent, as it is too, of The Doors song “Riders on the Storm”.

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The Corporation Giveth, and the Corporation Taketh Away

Who is really “stealing jobs”? Immigrants? Or automation? And why are so many people focussed on immigrants rather than automation if they are fearful for their job security and livelihoods? The “tech-revolution” is forecast to eliminate an estimated 47 to 60% of all job categories, and yet most people are focussed on immigrants or minorities supposedly stealing jobs. That’s not sane. Both immigrants and non-immigrants are competing with each other for scarce, secure jobs against engineers and robots. It’s even anticipated — which is frightening to think — that journalists will be replaced by artificial intelligences.

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Not With a Bang But a Whimper

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper. — T.S. Eliot “The Hollow Men

I’ve been absent from The Chrysalis for a while, in and out of medical clinics and hospitals as my doctors attend to my distressed kidneys (my condition remains stable, and I wouldn’t even know I had kidney disease otherwise).

I also took the time to catch up on some reading, including a recent publication by Wolfgang Streeck entitled How Will Capitalism End? (The answer is, not well). Those of you who are familiar with the economic writings of Peter Pogany on “chaotic transition” (Rethinking the World and Havoc Thy Name is Twenty-First Century in particular) will find that Streeck’s reflections on the fate of neo-liberal global economy runs very parallel to Pogany’s, with the exception that, where Pogany sees the present mayhem as a transition to a new global order, Streeck sees a slow withering away into an extended “Dark Age”. In fact, reading Streeck’s analysis of the situation is what brought to mind the mood of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men”.

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Fourfold Vision and the Rivers of Eden

Now I fourfold vision see
And a fourfold vision is given to me
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
And three fold in soft Beulahs night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision & Newtons sleep — William Blake

Legend has it that the Garden of Eden (which name probably means “well-watered”) was sustained by four mighty rivers — Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates. The four sustaining rivers of the original legendary paradise are otherwise referred to as “the Guardians of the Four Directions“, and these directions are not geographical coordinates but spiritual “dimensions”. The same four rivers of Eden are the same four beasts that surround the throne of God in the Book of Revelation. And the same beasts that surround the Throne of God in the Book of Revelation are also the same four Zoas of Blake’s divided “Adam”, and which “reside in the Human Brain”. The “original sin” was the departure from wholeness, called “expulsion from Eden”, at which time there also occurred the falling out of the four Zoas.

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The Global Brain and the Collective Representations

While we are on the topic of “the collective representations” (that is, images) and how this plays out in relation to Howard Bloom’s “Global Brain” theme, I’ld like to revisit an earlier posting (pre-Trump) on that and build upon it further. That posting was called “The Image and the Spirit of Place” and addressed some of the missing information that always attends the image as a “genuine imitation” reality. Images are abstractions from the real, and often only have a tenuous relation to the reality which they supposedly mirror or represent. The Anthropocene. as the “built-environment”,  is, amongst other things, a vast ecosystem (or technosystem) of images and image complexes, or “collective representations”. So, in a sense, we live inside this collective hallucination of the “Global Brain” within a system of mental abstractions called “the images” or the “representations”, which is a kind of schizophrenia.

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