The Mutation Into Machinery

In his book Yuga: An Anatomy of Our Fate, Marty Glass highlighted five essential features of the Kali Yuga, or Dark Age. These five are 1) The Fall Into Time; 2) the Reign of Quantity; 3) the Mutation into Machinery; 4) the End of Nature; and, 5) the Prison of Unreality.

Although, arguably, the latter four are consequential from the first — the Fall Into Time — they are all implicated in one another as inseparable aspects of one and the same process which we could broadly refer to as samsara or samsaric existence, and in those terms also, aspects of what William Blake called “Ulro” — the realm of Shadow or Maya, which Blake calls “the Sleep of Ulro”. Ulro can therefore be taken as Blake’s own symbolisation of what is called the Kali Yuga or “Dark Age”.

While the Fall into Time is the leading edge of the Kali Yuga, my concern today is  principally with one aspect of that fall, and that is “the Mutation into Machinery”, or, described differently, the mutation of the human form into a mere “automaton of reflexes”, which could also be called “post-conscious”. This would be the final triumph of the “Sleep of Ulro”.

But since The Fall Into Time is the sine qua non for all the other negative manifestations of the Kali Yuga, it is necessary to first say a few words about that, since “time” (or “Generation” in Blake’s terms) is the meaning of the word “secular”, which is also the domain of what is called “Relative Truth” — truth which is time-constrained and time-bound, which is what we call “the facts of the matter”. But, as we have insisted throughout The Chrysalis, there is a distinction to be made between “the truth that sets free” and “the facts of the matter” which bears on the distinction between Ultimate Truth and Relative Truth, and therefore, correspondingly, to the difference between the Whole and the Totality which are, today, confused in men’s minds.

Logically, the Whole always precedes a mere Totality, which is a mere systematisation or aggregation of particulars or factoids, and therefore reflects the distinction between Ultimate and Relative Truth domains, even though they are connected. “Eternity is in love with the productions of time”, as Blake puts it acknowledging that the Whole is already implicit in the Totality, just as Ultimate Truth is implicit in the Relative (ie, “Heaven in a Wild Flower” and “Eternity in the hour”, as Blake also puts it). Once you appreciate this distinction between the Whole and the Totality, and between Ultimate and Relative, you will understand Iain McGilchrist’s neurodynamic principles described in his book The Master and His Emissary, and the two modes of perception of the divided brain.

It is my conviction that anyone today who wants to escape from the Sleep of Ulro or the nihilism of the Kali Yuga must engage with Dr. McGilchrist’s book, and to see how his “two modes of perception” are equally reflected in, and corroborated by, neuroanatomist Jill Bolte-Taylor’s “Stroke of Insight”, also, and how these two modalities of perception called “Master” and “Emissary” by McGilchrist, also bear on the distinction between the Whole and the Totality, and therefore with distinctions of the domains of Ultimate Truth and Relative Truth, or what was also traditionally understood as eternity and time.

Traditionally, also, a distinction was made between the noumenal and the phenomenal aspects of reality, and traditionally the noumenal was considered the prior, the substantive and the real, while the phenomenal was the image or shadow of the real, informed by the noumenal but not identical with it. The noumenal was not accessible via the physical senses, by only by “insight” or “vision”, and those with that insight or vision were therefore also called Seers. Therefore, a distinction was also made between wisdom and knowledge or belief, and correspondingly between the “truth that sets free” and “the facts of the matter”. Traditionally, therefore, the noumenal, being also the substantial, was invisible to the physical senses. So, when Seth, for example, insists that “consciousness creates form, and not vice versa”, this is a reference to the noumenal underpinning of what we call “reality” — the real power behind the throne, as it were.

The Fall into Time is therefore coincident with the fall into merely Sensate Consciousness, which McGilchrist calls “the Emissary” and which is associated with the left-hemisphere’s mode of perception or “ego consciousness”. In consequence of this fall into sensate consciousness (and therefore into time, Ulro, Maya, or samsara) was the elimination of the noumenal side of things. The merely phenomenal or apparent was now taken as the sole and substantive reality, even though the phenomenal is only the most remote manifestation of the noumenal, the noumenal having also been associated with the formative forces, and which persists still in Phenomenology as “intentionality” or “intentionality of consciousness”. These formative forces are what Blake calls “the divine Imagination”.

The noumenal and the phenomenal (or the invisible and the visible) are two sides of one reality because of the nature of the divided brain and its two modes of perception. We may assume that, at one time, the two modes of perception were more harmoniously engaged for this distinction to be known. In fact, it is encapsulated in the ultimate paradox of Buddhism: nirvana and samsara are the same; nirvana and samsara are not the same. This is, essentially, Blake’s insight into the nature of things also — “the infinite in all things”, or the mysterious coincidentia oppositorum of eternity and time, and of the infinite with the finite that Blake calls “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”.

The Fall into Time is therefore an intelligible idea, coincident with the lapse of consciousness into merely sensate or sense-bound consciousness, the disappearance (as self-alienation) of the noumenal, which is the meaning of the Parable of the Prodigal Son and his journey into a “far away land”, which is egoism. Jean Gebser calls this estrangement “distantiation” from the “vital centre” (from the roots of consciousness itself), those roots that are identical with what he calls “the ever-present origin”. But, in effect, this estrangement is a dissociation of the Emissary from its roots in the Master’s mode of perception, which is holistic and associated with the noumenal side of things.  This dissociation is today’s “mad, mad world”.

The Mutation into Machinery is therefore associated also with the lapse into sensate consciousness, along with a hyper-exaggeration of the merely material and mechanical aspects of the body and nature. The body is a Gestalt of electrical, chemical, thermal, and mechanical energies, whose interplay is called “homeostasis”. This differentiation, however, overlooks the term that is common to all four — energy. The body is essentially an energy form or pattern and therefore itself, in those terms, a numinosity. As Blake puts it equally: ” Energy is the only life, and is from the Body; and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy”. In all likelihood, therefore, Blake’s “four Zoas” are associated with this energy ecology, and his hegemonic Zoa named “Urizen” (who is rationality) is associated with the purely mechanical energies, and thus became associated with the Clockwork Universe theme. Descartes, especially, exaggerated the mechanical aspects of the body and of reality.

And part of the reason that materialism and the Mechanical Philosophy is in trouble today is because of that exaggeration, since electrical energy is becoming more prominent in thinking than the mechanical, and electrical energy emphasises polarity and complementarity. It may even be the case that various forms of “religion” throughout history — animism, vitalism, psychism, or mentalism, and Gebser’s associated “structures of consciousness” — are coincident with the four modalities of energy represented in the human body — mechanical, chemical, electrical, or thermal.

So, presently, we have the “two mutations”, as it were, for Glass’s “mutation into machinery” has its contrary tendency in what Jean Gebser calls the “mutation” towards the “integral consciousness” — a major bifurcation or discontinuity in the human evolutionary narrative, perhaps even a branching. The Mutation into Machinery is what concerns writers like Jacques Ellul (in his sociology of the Technological Society) or Lewis Mumford’s interpretations of the “Megamachine”. It’s what underlies a good many critical reflections on the Technological System, for there is no doubt at all that the technological environment that man has created for himself (the Anthropocene) associated with the “End of Nature” and the “Prison of Unreality” is also pressing him to become more machine-like also — more akin to an automaton of simple reflexes. Last year, for example, I reported extensively on what is being called “marketing 3.0” (or “holistic branding” or “spiritual marketing” and so on) whose disguised aim is precisely the creation of cradle-to-grave “branded behaviours”. “Branded behaviours” is just another way of saying “automatons of reflexes”.

And that is basically the zombie meme so prevalent today. A Zombie is a mere “automaton of reflexes”, and it is prevalent because the zombie is the meaning of the Kali Yuga and the Mutation into Machinery. If there is, today, such a concern with “mindfulness” and mindfulness practice, as counter-measure, it is largely because mindlessness has become the norm, and there are certainly plenty of those “teachers of Sleep” as Nietzsche called them who wish to encourage others to give up their autonomy in favour of becoming simple automatons. This is what Algis Mikunas has described as “technocratic shamanism”.

We even talk about some people knowing “how to push people’s buttons” as if they were already little more than machines or automatons of reflexes — routine, predictable, controllable. A lot of dystopian science fiction is all about this Mutation into Machinery — of  human beings having been reduced to little more than automatons of reflexes.

Everybody today speaks of our “post-human future”, and it’s very ambiguous. Ironically, in one way or another it’s going to be true, for humanity can go many ways presently — towards self-annihilation. towards the Mutation into Machinery, or effectively towards Gebser’s “integral consciousness” (or Aurobindo’s “supramental consciousness” or Nietzsche’s “transhuman”).

To be in a state of crisis is to be at a crossroads. And we should really be clear about the choices facing us and not walk into this blindly or asleep at the wheel.

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13 responses to “The Mutation Into Machinery”

  1. InfiniteWarrior says :

    In that event, we have a very serious problem.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      From the piece:

      Our universe didn’t used to be conscious, it used to be just a bunch of stuff moving around and gradually these incredibly complicated patterns got arranged into our brains and we woke up and now our universe is aware of itself.
      A common presumption, but one must ask, is it true? So, what he’s saying is that the universe wasn’t conscious until we awesome beings came along to make it so?

      It doesn’t get much more egotistical than that, imo.

      I don’t think that the difference between a living bug and a dead bug is that the living bug has some sort of secret life source in it; I think of the bugs as mechanisms and the dead bug is just a broken mechanism.

      :rollseyes: Well, that’s pretty much the Mechanical Philosophy in a nutshell (or bug shell), isn’t it? And why is “mysterious” or “unknown” always cast as “secret?” It couldn’t be that some mysterious source of life animates the living bug?

      The “confusion” of which you speak is so ubiquitous, so ingrained, so…unquestionable…that it would seem the course humanity will take (at least, in the West) has been subconsciously charted and there will be no deviation from that path.

      How can we possibly chart another course when we are being subjected to the whims of the modern era’s true gods, Assumption and Presumption, every single moment of every single day?

      • Scott Preston says :

        The Mechanical Model has a very firm grip on modern consciousness, even if it is now riddled with paradoxes and self-contradctions. This is why Francis Broucek (in Regaining Consciousness) refers to it as “zombie logic”. The Mechanical Model is the walking dead itself. You heard some of that in Tegmark’s short address — his peculiar acknowledgement of an “aware” universe, but living forms (in this case, bugs) as machines?

        Scientists who deny the existence of consciousness won’t be going far.

  2. Scott Preston says :

    Quantum entanglement now measured in up to 16 million atoms at a time. Very interesting

    https://phys.org/news/2017-10-photon-reveals-quantum-entanglement-million.html

  3. Júlio [Ebrael] says :

    “Traditionally, also, a distinction was made between the noumenal and the phenomenal aspects of reality, and traditionally the noumenal was considered the prior, the substantive and the real, while the phenomenal was the image or shadow of the real, informed by the noumenal but not identical with it.”

    Also traditionally, this axis is named in the Etz Chaiyim (Tree of Life) by the first pair of spheres below the Crown (Kether). Obviously, Wisdom (Chokhmah in the Fire’s Column) precedes Understanding (Binah in the Water’s Column).

  4. Abdulmunem Othman says :

    We invoke words and concepts and weave them in such patterns as to make us able to understand and realize our spiritual homeostasis to move toward the appreciation of our physical homeostasis in a unified move to leave the world of separation into the world of unity where the noumenal is seen as giving birth to the phenomenal, to expose the fallacy of those who said that the form give birth to consciousness, thus making us realize the real choice that is facing us. It is consciousness first and foremost and our physical apparatus is nothing more than a platform for the expression of consciousness with the help of the inbuilt self consciousness that swims in the ocean of the original consciousness in order to erect its image among the billions of other human images for the evaluation of the One. It is a very interesting cosmos where the night enfolds the day and the day enfold the night and life enfolds death aattributesnd death enfolds life in a never ending process until we reach the designated date. Our cosmos is full with life where everything loves everything save the humans that have been given the antagonistic forces in order to test them. This remind me of a verse in the Koran addressing the three branches of the Abrahmic faith saying, for each we have appointed a law and a path. and if god has wished,he could have made one people, but he has made you as you are that he may put you to test in what he has given you. So vie with one another in good works. Unto god will all return and he will tell you about those things wherein you differ. It is to discover god attribute and to emulate them in our image as he said ,I was a hidden treasure and I wished to be known so I CREATED THE WORLD TO KNOW ME. This is to know the mission and not to let ourselves get lost in dark despair or in an unconnected world.

  5. Scott Preston says :

    How the mind can be “hijacked”. A pretty significant article on this theme of mutation into machinery

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/05/smartphone-addiction-silicon-valley-dystopia

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      But are we [in control]? If the people who built these technologies are taking such radical steps to wean themselves free, can the rest of us reasonably be expected to exercise our free will?

      The responsibility is always ours, imo. As with everything else, the tricky part is striking a balance. When in doubt, we might invoke the Methodist principle: “All things in moderation.”

      What’s being described is addictive behavior and predation upon it as opposed to mindjacking, imo, which is far more insidious and difficult both to recognize and prevent. The political concerns expressed don’t really represent mindjacking, either, imo. How can the mind of a person already predisposed toward a certain bias, prejudice, assumption or presumption, etc. be “hijacked?” The more insidious forces out there are merely affirming said biases; not creating them.

      As with everything else, these technologies have their upsides and downsides. While this is a good critique of the downsides (which more and more people are loving to hate, in my experience), it makes little mention of the upsides we’ve enjoyed as a result of the technological innovations themselves, other than to insinuate they aren’t being made manifest, although they most certainly are.

      Everything new and novel is “distracting” in its early stages, but we somehow seem to manage to come around to remembering what’s truly important; seeking out the exceptional; and settling less for quantity than quality. These very same technologies are bringing us together in ways we couldn’t have imagined a decade ago. In fact, if not for them, even our curious, little troupe here at The Chrysalis wouldn’t exist.

      I’d like to bring particular attention to this (and statements like this):

      how YouTube and Netflix autoplay videos and next episodes, depriving users of a choice about whether or not they want to keep watching

      This kind of overreach is present in nearly everything we read and hear, in my experience, and immediately calls into question everything else written or said. This statement (and those like it) is simply not true in most cases. There is usually a setting in video streaming services to turn autoplay off, primarily due to popular demand. What need is there for it, unless one sets aside an hour or two here and there to watch a series or documentary?

      And, now, for our “popular” reference….

      Coincidentally, “mindjack” is a Typhon ability one might “install” while experiencing the video game, Prey. If there is a better contemporary, artistic rendition of humanity’s shadow than the Typhon (and what’s going on aboard Talos One), I’d be hard-pressed to come up with it. The Typhon literally feed on consciousness and externalize their “neural net” in a “web” known as “coral” in the game. They do not retain the human consciousness they feed upon other than to store it in the “nodes” of that “neural net.” The Typhon ‘Phantoms’ (especially named ones), however, repeat aloud quotes from transcribes and the dead humans they’ve reanimated in a creepy fashion: “They want to live inside us, like a disease.”

      “Fears” of technological innovations in communication, such as those expressed in this piece, I would describe more as prudent cautionary tales. We needn’t fear them so much as to be attentively conscious of the manipulative forces at work within them and, often, “at the helm.”

    • Scott Preston says :

      From the article:

      “Oligarchs and politicos also have hopes of this engineering of decision making as well. As Berardi reminds us the automation of the behaviour of many individuals traversed and concatenated by techno-linguistic interfaces results in the effect of Swarm. Man is the animal who shapes the artificial techno-environments that shapes his/her own brain, the swarm effect therefore is the outcome of human transformation of the technical environment leading to automation of mental behavior. (A: 24) With such knowledge we do not need explain consciousness, only to pragmatically program the brain like an application to be manipulated and constrained to conform to the decision making powers of an elite tehcnocommercium. This is the nightmare of our future.”

      That’s pretty much the gist of what I discovered in my investigations of so-called “marketing 3.0” or “holistic branding” (or “spiritual branding”) which pretty much is the same as what Algis Mikunas called “technocratic shamanism”. — the external pressure leading into the mutation into machinery.

      Our need to preserve our sense of irony and sense of the ironic through all this. The machine and the machine mind do’t understand irony.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      Man is the animal who shapes the artificial techno-environments that [in turn] shapes his/her own brain

      Is that (last) a fact? Sounds like the “neuromods” of Prey, which literally remap the brain’s neural connectomes with a neuromod’s removal “resetting” the brain back to its original state before neuromod installation. All that’s missing is the appropriately named Psychotronics department which, it might be argued, actually exists in the form of certain branches of Public Relations.

      human transformation of the technical environment leading to automation of mental behavior

      Assumes the mind and the brain are one and the same, but are they? Reminds me of this from Scott’s post:

      Traditionally, also, a distinction was made between the noumenal and the phenomenal aspects of reality, and traditionally the noumenal was considered the prior, the substantive and the real, while the phenomenal was the image or shadow of the real, informed by the noumenal but not identical with it.

      There’s something about many of the conclusions in this article that strike me as themselves having evolved out of the mechanical model.

      Can we actually be deprived of our choices (possibilities) and decision-making and/or are we easily led to believe that we already/always are and always will be, forevermore, amen?

      Don’t get me wrong. Cyborgism, especially, is a “confusion” (inappropriately termed “Transhumanism” today, as Scott has pointed out in the past) that many of us are concerned about along with “technocratic shamanism” (or “social engineering,” as it’s more widely known), but there is a great deal missing from this picture, especially in regards to our “interiors.”

      • Scott Preston says :

        Man is the animal who shapes the artificial techno-environments that [in turn] shapes his/her own brain

        Yes, that has to do with neuroplasticity and principle of mutability, which Maturana and Varela refer to as “conservation of adaptation”, just another way of saying “remaining mutable” — ie, open to mutability.

        Pretty much all organisms, not just human, modify their environment, and their environment, in turn, modifies them. Standard cybernetic theory. What’s also implicated in that statement is what is often concieved as the engine or “mechanism” of evolution — “natural selection” or “external selection”.

        However, this is often overplayed when people talk about evolution, and they often confuse evolution with natural selection. The Darwinian theory is “evolution BY natural selection”. There was a great deal of emphasis, originally, on this external or environmental factor — “natural selection”, which really meant “mechanical”.

        Darwin himself, in his late days, rued that he had overplayed the role of natural selection in evolution, and had ignored factors internal to the organism itself, which is often the sticking point in controversies about the real drivers of evolution. But the anti-theological mood of the day often led to such exaggerated emphasis on “mechanisms” and anything that suggested factors internal to life itself were dismissed as “mysticism” or appeals to the “supernatural” (ie, non-mechanical).

        More recent theorists are willing to entertain the organism’s active role in its own evolution.

        • Scott Preston says :

          By the way, a really great and largely sane history of the evolutionary idea is Loren Eiseley’s Darwin’s Century. It ain’t nothing like most pop histories and even that of some biologists who don’t know the history and philosophy behind the idea. Eiseley followed up his book with another pretty good book I just finished called The Firmament of Time.

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