Archive | September 2018

The Anthropocene and “the Global Brain”

For the last few posts, I’ve been examining the Anthropocene as an example of what Timothy Morton has called “hyperobjects”. Hyperobjects arise in that realm I previously wrote about as the “irreal” or as “Third Space”, as a kind of interstice between the strictly “subjective” and the strictly “objective”, and have in that sense a certain, what we might call “occult” or magical character in that they largely defy adequate definition or description in any indicative or prosaic language. Their very indistinctness, fuzziness, and indeterminability is what makes them hyperobjects in the first place. “God” for example. Hyperobjects are those issues and things that we have great difficulty “coming to terms with”, which is why we often resort to a more mythical idiom in an attempt to lend them some concreteness, since our language otherwise lacks precision.

So, I want to continue with our discussion of the Anthropocene and attendant concepts like “the Global Brain” as just such hyperobjects and perhaps give a convincingly clear explanation for the existence of these strange things called “hyperobjects” at all.

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The Anthropocene is The Matrix

We are trying to approach and investigate the meaning of the Anthropocene like explorers who have discovered a strange world inhabited by strange creatures, some of which may be quite dangerous, for it is, in some sense, the “New World”.

It also strikes me that the Anthropocene may be taken as the meaning of the movie The Matrix. That would account for its ambiguous character as being both “hyperobject” and yet also “hypersubject”. For me, in any event, The Matrix is quite a remarkable movie, since it parallels many of the themes found in William Blake — the Matrix as Blake’s “Ulro”, the Architect as Blake’s “Urizen”, and even Neo shares some characteristics with Blake’s “New Adam”, Albion.

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What is “Technocratic Shamanism”?

It strikes me that, before I get into the potential redemptive factor in the Anthropocene, I need to explain what Algis Mikunas means by “technocratic shamanism”. The term appears in an essay called “Magic and Technological Culture” contained in the book Consciousness and Culture: An Introduction to the Thought of Jean Gebser.

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The Anthropocene as a Virtual Reality

I frequently mention Neal Gabler’s book Life The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality as an example of what we are calling “the subjectification of reality”. Interestingly, Gabler’s book was published the around the same time as Rolf Jensen’s The Dream Society: How the Coming Shift from Information to Imagination Will Transform Your Business which might also be considered an apotheosis of this “subjectification of reality” (a phrase I gleaned from “The Coming of the Subjective Age” by Sri Aurobindo).   Lately, I’ve been attempting to correlate all these matters with what is now being described as “the collapse of reality”, and with the apparent emergence into conscious awareness of this paradoxical “hyperobject” (or “hypersubject”) called “The Anthropocene”, coincident, too, with the breakdown of the consciousness structure of Modern Man — the mental-rational or perspectival. That is to say, in another respect, the corruption of the consciousness structure.

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The Anthropocene and Market Mysticism

Before I delve into the question of what might be redemptive in the Anthropocene, I think I need to flesh out somewhat even what we mean by the term “Anthropocene”. Obviously, I understand by this something quite a bit different than being only the name of a geophysical epoch or age. But even considered merely as a geophysical age, it would be our present milieu. And a milieu is largely defined as that field of force, as it were, in which we “live, move, and have our being”, somewhat equivalent to the German notion of an “Umwelt” or “Lebenswelt“. We aren’t necessarily fully conscious of our milieu, or our Umwelt or Lebenswelt. So, these also may be described in terms both as “hyperobject” or “hypersubject”.

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Gaia and the Anthropocene

“Gaia” is simply the name we give to a sense of the implicit solidarity of all life — the underlying unity of the Lifeworld and the life process which we vaguely acknowledge as “the web of life”. “Gaia” is the name we ascribe to that collective life process conceived as a holon, or as one of Timothy Morton’s “hyperobjects”. In my reading of Aurobindo, for example, the name “Nature” is used rather than Gaia, but Aurobindo employs the word “Nature” in exactly that sense. Nietzsche deploys the name “Dionysus” or the Dionysian in pretty much the same sense.

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The Anthropocene and the Subjectivisation of Reality

In his book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, and in his many other writings, Marshall McLuhan examined media — technologies in general — as the progressive “outering” of the human form itself. This phenomenon of “extending” or “outering” of the human form is quite akin, if not identical with, the psychological phenomenon called “projection”. In the industrial era, many poets and artists saw, for example, precise correlations between the more or less mechanical functions of the body and the workings of machinery — heart, lungs, muscle and bone, digestive system and so on replicated by a more or less conscious process of biomimickry in machinery, in some ways exemplifying that our “inside” was now becoming our “outside”.

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