Sunday, April 28, 2024

A General Theory of Love

A General Theory of LoveA General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was alerted to this book a while ago, but only recently found it in the library. It’s not a new book, and it remains very brain-centric, which makes it, to me, somewhat obsolete. But then we’re all more brain-centric than ever, now fairly obsessed with intelligence, natural and artificial.

By brain-centric, I mean that we still imagine that our thinking and feeling both happen somehow *in* the brain. That is where we locate our consciousness, likely mostly because of the brain's proximity to our most basic senses.

A less brain-centric understanding of the brain might conceptualize it as more of a switchboard to orchestrate the interactions of our body-boundaries with the world we live in. Such a view would make the mind more of a microcosm than a computer; our contemporary machine metaphor for how things work. The mind and body interact, and emotion was never absent. Heck, emotion also pervades the cosmos. We just can't see it yet.

Of course, clever though we certainly are, our intelligence, highly untempered by love, is destroying us even as it elevates us. This book was instrumental in foreshadowing the impending paradigm shift we so ardently resist.

As Lewis demonstrates and insists, emotion is in no way subordinate or merely ancillary to intelligence at the core of what makes us human. We perish as easily from love’s lack as we do from stupidity.

To call it what it is, the behavior of our economic and political leaders is hateful. They celebrate a kind of disembodied merit, which discounts kindness as but a sales booster. They treat the symptoms of the dispossessed by drugs and prison in what is revealed by this book to be a vicious cycle which starts with being too desperate for survival to afford love.

Nobody but what we call the one percent now benefits from this ardor. The rest of us make do with bread and puppets between our overtime labor gigs in someone else’s interest.

Where is the love?

Well it’s been papered over by false passions for personal gain. We should know better; that there is no person without the social, and there is no social without emotional bonds.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Civil War

My daughter sent around this well-reasoned and alarming article from the New Republic. It sent me into a bit of a tailspin, especially as it was immediately followed, in my reading adventures, with notice of a new film called Civil War. How many of us will now be picturing fraternal warfare in our minds? The referenced article outlines four possible outcomes for the fall election, none of them good.

I've since checked up on the filmmaker, Alex Garland, no relation to Wizard of Oz, I'm almost certain, and was reminded of liking Ex Machina, in a way. It played more with the cinematic elements which might trigger an audiences loins; audience as proxy for creator. I found that interesting.

I dialed myself back anyhow, with a haphazard read hinting Adam Tooze' take on Foucault's take on power. Kind of the absolute autarchy of the workplace up against fantasy fictions of public democracy. Yes, sure, maybe there are people who would shoot their right-to-carry gun at someone shouting angry epithets in their direction, but how really shall we identify the ones to hate? How shall we decide who's cheating to make it in and who's really just supplicating? Are we really so ready for anarchy? Genetic testing proves white supremacists to never be quite so lily-white. We are already more like family than we are a nation.

Shall there be no sanction against murder? How would we identify teams? Town against town, or would we each choose an AI inimitable leader? Does it really all devolve into black and white? Can Texas and California be united based only on their exceptionalism?

We do destroy by proxy with abandon from here, without feeling all that much worse for it because it doesn't seem directly to affect us. It's over there. It's horrible the way a movie is horrible, and then we go shopping for this and that, eat out, drink beer, and merry ourselves. Shall I eat popcorn while watching Civil War?

I myself reserve my sharpest anger for rich people who've become Trumpers because they think the policies which enable them to get rich on the backs of everybody else need to be continued in support of their life-styles. But since I actually love some such people, and since I don't want a gun anywhere near my hand, except for target practice maybe, I'm not going to be charged up to kill any such people, hate them though I might. When alone. On and in principle.

Now what happens when my phone no longer recognizes me? I ordered up a new driver's license to reflect my newish address. It was getting to be too much trouble to deal with transactional types who filled in the driver's license old address unthinkingly. Don't they know how often people move? Or do I just look stable? I forgot to record the fact that my eye-color has changed because of glaucoma drops. How does one even do that? I don't think my phone cares. It's more geometric and deploys frequencies I can't sense.

The world is roiling, and, interestingly to me, it now revolves around national security threats which result directly from our savior economic system, which rushes to the cheapest manufactory and damn the torpedoes!

So we see evil in the differing economic arrangements in China, say, where the People's Liberation Army was "designed" so as not to be a burden on the people. It would grow its own food instead of plundering overtaken villages and farmsteads. And, eventually, it would grow factories and whole industries, some defense-related and some only incidentally so. Potato potaato, we build our economy on the basis of our military-industrial complex, while China is maybe more up-front about the arrangements.

I might have been more professionally engaged with China. My august professor, meaning to write me a glowing recommendation to a heady pre-professional stay in China, included a phrase which might have made the same sense to me as it did to the selection committee. 'while I can't see him becoming an influential professional, [he] has all the qualities . . .' He was surely correct, no matter the causal relations.

Anyhow, it's no longer $500 hammers and NASA at the leading edge of tech. Even the military industrial complex gets its silicon parts off the shelf, so to speak. I know from personal experience that the IT infrastructure and services on an aircraft carrier, say, are far inferior in robust fault-tolerance and service corps as compared with much of the business community. My personal interface with such matters has grown old for sure, so don't take my word for anything. I'm just sayin' that I did once know my networking basics better than the officer-types I sometimes interfaced with, though I would never for a split second consider myself competent to manage a warship's infrastructure. Anyhow, we all believed the same proprietary propaganda. What choice did we have? Chain of command doesn't apply in all situations.

There are so very many things I once was certain of. But now I marvel at how many times that certainty I once had about how to accomplish even mechanical tasks astounds me for my former stubborn simplicity, so full of pride in my acumen was I. Why didn't I think of that before? Pride was in my way.

We're going to ban production in China now for the makings that go into wonder drugs because we're worried about the sort of private intellectual-property style data they can mine. As though our Meta-Alphabet-ical Amazonian rainforest of personal data mined from our incredibly anti-social monetization as sanctioned in and by and for the digi-verse over here. Who owns you? Who ever asked you for permission to use your very personal genetic code for their private profit?

Arrangements are very shifty right now. We long for the kind of stability in cultural arrangements which only seem to have existed in our misty hindsight. And so our fears are easily fanned by demagogues, charlatans, hucksters and Confidence Men. YOLO FOMO motherfuckers who are the inevitable result of we can't tell the difference between reality TV and reality.

But I get it. I do. Scientists who are addicted to the notion that absolutely everything has to make their kind of sense come up with shit like 'many worlds,' or now many other worlds which cuts itself shaving on Occam's Razor for sure. They are so desperate to get the observer out of any and all equations that we're supposed to ascribe reality to these purely mathematical constructs so that we can call it a day. You hear these things in snippets and then you can't find them. But I know the point of the multiverses within multiverses theory was to obviate the need for any observer.

It took billions and billions of dollars to prove the foregone conclusion that the Higg's boson does exist. My nephew did the graphics based on the math so that all could see. He works for Amazon now. Which is the thing we're better off for?

The thing is that nowadays the explainers on the radio, if you even listen to that anymore, are all pert female voices that you can imagine as pretty, which is a great stereotype disturbance when discussing bleeding edge science, but hey why are they reporting and not doing, exactly? Talking heads can be groomed in many dimensions, most beyond your sensory awareness.

I'm way more comfortable with not having to explain everything or assume that it might be explainable in any ultimate sense at some indeterminate future time. I've stopped already in my defeat of Godhead and its replacement by us. At this point now, in human history, there is no more sense to making sense.

My only certainty is that digital AI can't come close to the real thing. The trouble is not that AI will exceed us, it's that we've already capitulated by internalizing the AI that's been all around and about us ever since we started constructing our world even before petro-reality and even digital reality by way of sail and wooden ships and actual horse-power. Sustainability is no road to any future that I want. Sustainability is the fantasy excuse for not changing a thing. Nobody debates that we slaughtered Buffalo to near extinction; that Native Americans never stood a chance. Keep your powder dry.

I want to deconstruct, like any good post-industrial post-modernist. I sure don't want no Elvis wanna-be for any kind of leadership role. Even Parkinson's addled, Muhammad Ali would be better. At least he knew from love. And his job was to hurt.

By definition of digital, meaning the absolute distinction between on and off, digital can't be real. It can only be black and white, with simulations of otherness for froth. As a self of any sort, I am intertwined with just about all of creation. Digital can't be. 

We have no theory for how random works even as we have to way to understand mind as a limited aspect of reality. We certainly have no excuse for separating ourselves as some kind of exceptional knower. Computers, in principle, can't even do random.

So sure, bring it on Trumpers. We do indeed need to devolve power to a more local level. What we don't need is Disney religion permeating our political permutations and determinations on anything approaching a national scale. If only we could imagine decent people wanting leadership roles we could easily imagine smallish autonomous states, intertwined by all our wonderful technologies while bereft of illicit manipulations. 

In your dreams. 

I do, of course, have a theory for random. Canonically now, our DNA evolves according to how its engendered physical embodiment survives to procreate within the ever roiling environment for existence. This evolution is based on, powered by, you might say, random reconfigurations whose net is ever increasing complexity among the living. Whatever you or I know, we know mostly by random, no matter how much credit you may wish to claim.

The only fittest that survive comport to God's mind, not ours. We have but made ourselves numb to any kind of godhead, with religion leading the charge. God has never spoken in words.

Genetics seems like some kind of grand transfer of complexity from dying entropic structure to the quickening realm of what we call creation. As such, it informs a direction for time as a kind of twin for entropic decay. Each must be measured by the other.

One must now say that God is random, which is to say that the Godhead is the fountainhead of life. Is it really any more complicated than that? Must it be? We have far more important work to do than to pound our head on what we think that we must become.

Can't have one without the other; mind the yang, entropic decay the yin. Life builds while its constructs decay. Boundaries are always fractal and therefore unmeasurable to eternity, depending on magnification. The boundary between my mind and the rest of knowledge is surely arbitrary and capricious, though it is certain that I can know nothing all by myself. The constructs of our knowledge also decay, and so, therefore, must knowledge.

My digital records conceal more than they preserve.

I hone my Occam's razor the way that Chuang-tzu's butcher honed his cleaver to find the space between what only seems to be joined. It's not the seeming that's the fiction. It's the knowing which can only be conjecture. The cleaver doesn't change the join.

So sure, let's bring on a civil war of all against the other, Pogo. Who can ever be said to have won that contest, I wonder. Not I, said the little-read hen. I wouldn't even know who to be angry at, other than myself. Good thing, really, that I'll never own a gun. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Three Body Secret of China

The Three Body Secret of China

Some time back in maybe 2016, when I was routinely in Shanghai working for an American College which wanted to build a bridge between here and there, I became aware of the SciFi novel then known in English as The Three Body Problem, by Liu Cixin. Of all things, I learned of the book by way of Facebook, where Mark Zuckerberg touted reading it and touted himself by proxy.

Now I’ve grown to detest Facebook for a variety of reasons that I won’t go into here, but mostly because I’ve always been socially shy. It was a work-necessity at the time (across a VPN while in China). But I learned about the precedent-shattering Hugo award, and I even watched Zuckerberg mimic an American tech-titan in a cringe-worthy imitation of Chinese. I’ll give him credit for trying. I won’t give him credit for much else.

While trying to build my bridge, I would routinely speak before large groups of Chinese students, and sometimes - after I’d read the book - I would ask who had read San Ti, its Chinese title. I was surprised that only a few would raise their hands, though my survey was not an accurate count. The book has its subversive undertones, which might have kept hands unraised at the time.

Amazon was viable then in China, and I had a physical address in Shanghai, so creating my Chinese account was trivial. I had amassed enough WeChat cash to purchase the three-book collection for a song. It was a pretty easy read, not exactly packed with those pesky four-character expressions or too many erudite literary allusions the way that Card Apprentice was when I translated its 600-plus chapters uncredited and for a pittance while wandering across the US trying to understand Trumpism. I was translating for the Chinese on-line literary equivalent to The Voice or whatever we do over here on television that I shall never watch. I was indeed a party to, and part of, the modern version of They Shoot Horses, Don’t They, or a six-day ride-until-you drop bicycle race. Not pretty.

Hey, let’s put on a show! Let’s get rich on the desperation of the intelligent masses. Let’s transform our economies to something even worse than capitalism and make the people love it! It’s all free, after all! The money pump to the top is more efficient than ever, post-industrially speaking. That’s what tech means!

Along my travels, I was told about the child of an acquaintance of my sister who was starring in an upcoming Chinese film about the story of Edgar Snow and Red Star Over China, which I’d obviously read, since I’ve obviously studied some about China.

Now Kenan Heppe, who played Snow in the film, comes across as a rather caricatured American, reminiscent of Zuckerberg’s self-caricature, and is criticized for that. I think that’s how he was cast though, and he played the part brilliantly. Zuck is just a tool.

Way back when, I spent some hours trying to figure out if either film was ever made, and never could. That was when Covid was hitting, and frankly, penetrating the Chinese web remains deuced difficult by reason of a kind of language and ordering that is still more different than Chinese already is from English. I gathered that production of Three Body was suspended for various reasons, having less to do with Covid than with cinematographic cultural reconfigurations. I watched some atrocious clips. And then I forgot about the whole mess.

Now, in the midst of another great China-America chill which makes me glad I never did build that bridge because it would have crumbled if not from Covid then from America’s continued ignorance about China, I find myself curious again.

Low and behold, there is a Chinese TV series called Three Body which is easily available now to continent-bound me, by way of Peacock. And that unnamed American piratical (when I point at you there are three fingers pointing at me, nenerneenernana) mega-service had the Red Star film for free. Navigating cross-continent subscriptions remains tricky for me, and the price differential can be mind-boggling, although I may still have some yuan in my WeChat account. Hmmm. In any case, Amazon in China, having my now defunct Chinese phone number on its mostly defunct service, is well beyond me anymore.

So here’s the point of my meandering post:

Each of us is a strange attractor by way of coincidence; we are attractors mostly for links which none of us could make solely on the basis of hard work. None of us can master what is really true in cross-cultural relations. All of us are subject to prejudice, and all news is slanted, at least by the prime directive to get your attention.

But I shall and must confess that I wept while watching the Red Star film. It was a fine representation of China’s founding hagiography. I saw myself in my own youth, since the actor somewhat resembles me at that time. The film was also a morality play meant to remind the US of old promises, and the way we once were. Both cinematic productions are old by now, just as I am.

Anyhow, I’ve dived right back in to reading Three Body for yet another time, with my old-age Chinese on my crumbling China-based tablet. I know that I was thrilled by the first read. But there are deeper harmonics for me now. I doubt that anyone even yet knows how profoundly this book has altered China’s sense of itself, and our relations with China.

These twin experiences have given me new hope.

End of Message.

Monday, February 19, 2024

It's About Time

I said I'd stop this. I'm old and I'm tired much of the time. I'm always in pain. Not debilitating pain, but the kind that makes you not want to kneel, lift, climb and so forth in anticipation of how it will feel. I exhibit many of the signs which most people refer to as lazy. I'm certainly lazy in my writing. 

Way back when I hit on what I thought then, and still think now, was an important reconfiguration of how we conceive of understanding, I was certain that the upshot was so obvious that all I had to do was prime the pump and then some more qualified individual would take it over. 

Indeed that pattern has been my conviction about how things work. If Einstein hadn't come upon his theories of relativity, someone surely would have. After all, these are matters of truth - or what I prefer to call truing - where, over time, all of us must agree. I don't tend to credit genius as much as an exuberant first to the finish line. Perhaps you might say that so-called "genius" is a grant from the Fates, which it surely is. But a winner does require skill and training to luck into a win. 

A lazy ass like me can almost never be a winner. Well, I'd say, based on work I've done and jobs I've held that I am not a lazy soul. But I sure am shy of winning. 

Lately, I've been making the unsupported claim that time is a conspiracy of life. Then last night I watched a fairly pedestrian biographical look at Einstein, on Netflix, and realized that I'd better do a bit more work here. 

Among the quips tossed off by the actor playing Einstein - all credited as the actual words of Einstein in writing or in speech - was one about time. Something like "no future to look forward to and no past to regret". I find this online: "The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." Close enough. 

But Einstein's theories only showed that time would slow according to relative velocity of motion, I don't think he ever demonstrated, in his thought experiments, that time could reverse. Subsequent physical models have required time reversal - a kind of reverse causality - as a feature of our cosmos at its extremes.

So it remains unchallenged and therefore unexamined that on the macro scale, causality defines the material cosmos. That's the basis for how the scientific method sets out to understand the way things are structured, and the way that they work. Prediction is the thing, and it should, ideally, be based on a schematic model; a theory. I understand something, scientifically, when my predictions are true, to within some acceptable margin for error.

In a way, I would like to broaden the meaning of "understanding" to accommodate what most of us mean when we say "understood." We live in a time of radical mistrust of authority, which must relate at least a bit to the complexity of elite theorizing. I think that the cosmos may be rather simpler than the experts let on. I continue to believe that this reconceptualization will be good for us all. And by "good" I don't refer to the good life, but rather to life that is good for everyone. A community of man.

But most of us who read at all know that there is this pesky matter of quantum theory, also triggered by Einstein, which prevents, in principle, knowledge about causality beyond certain limits for perception. Indeed, most accepted versions of the theory have it that the investigating subject cannot be removed from the observations; that any attempt to measure - to pin down - what is happening has an impact on the results. Objectivity is dashed beyond a certain scale. 

Now way back when in my youth I was troubled by the twin paradox in classical relativistic physics. In my thought experiment I had to reduce the cosmos to just two elements, each of which would leave the cosmos of the other were they moving relative to each other.

I understand that the paradox has been rubbed out by math, but however those formulations are made, they don't resolve the thought experiment for me. It's trivial to realize that objects in relative motion eventually fall out of touch. But for me, the trouble was that 'out of touch' meant impossible of relation in the direction of what I consider to be 'multiple cosmos solutions' to knotty physics problems. Talk about a violation of the principle of Occam's Razor!

In a material world, there are only forces and objects, and all relative motion must be accountable to those. I surmised that there must be a conceptual relation apart from forces and objects, without which there couldn't be a singular cosmos at all. 

Without forces, these relations are static; they form concepts or ideas. When they change they do so according to the quasi force of emotion. But emotion is an apprehension rather than an imposition. Still, it is real. The shape of a crystal is real and realized over time. It seems to tend in the direction of some idealized geometric form. 

We humans are used to distinguishing natural forms from artifice on the basis of shapes which tend toward ideals, discounting the spirals of the nautilus for their very complexity; their no two the same quality. 

Now here's where my laziness kicks in. I simply don't know what the consensus is about apprehensions of intelligence. I know that the creationists are crazy, but I don't know that the evolutionists care enough about how unlikely evolved "natural" forms are. I differ with their usage for random.

Over enough time, the random processes of evolution begin to look similar to crystallization; as though revealing a kind of hidden structure - the manifestation of an atomic structure "underneath." Might we ourselves not be conceptualized as the manifestation of some latent structure of the cosmos? Something only manifest over time. 

I would maintain that time is directional in either the materialist or the evolutionary sense only as a conspiracy of the whole. Furthermore, there is no purely physical resolution to the conundrum of time's arrow. 

Here I make my lazy leap, that, therefore, time's arrow is a function of the evolution of life. And the attention given for the measurement of quanta, whose existence in a particular locus in space-time as required by an act of measurement, is demonstrably absent prior to the measurement being taken. The "thing" measured demonstrably exists in a measurable, or at least estimable, cloud of probability. There are waveforms which pervade the cosmos, until they are collapsed by impingement.

My own impetus for this kind of thinking was to resolve - or to "understand" - the many "meaningful coincidences" that I, and I suppose all of us, experience in life. It seemed too lazy even for lazy me to attribute these to God. There had to be something missing in our treatment of random. In all things, I took some clues from China.

Probability relates to chance which relates to random. It is my contention that emotion is what turns the attention of the measurer to the object being measured; passionless though those operators of the perceptual apparatuses may seem. I am redefining usage for emotion to where it is never absent and is never just some quality of the higher forms of life. Emotion is apart from, but essential to, the materialistic outlook.

If there is consternation about the weirdness of quantum mechanics, it seems to focus on the absurdity that conscious measurement determines the disposition of reality. Or call it conscious attention. I understand there may be argumentation about whether, and if so how, consciousness might be an aspect of everything. A kind of panconsciousness. Some call it panspiritualism, panpsychism or maybe "analytical idealism" the way that Bernardo Kastrup does.

I'm trying to make this all much simpler. In my understanding (haha!) it is emotion which is pervasive. And emotion is not something that is possessed, any more than forces are. Emotion is a relation, as is force, and it constitutes the apprehension of forceless motion; meaning, really, that there is a correspondence between the motion happening "over there" and something "familiar" toward or away from which it is moving. 

I don't wish to imply that there has to be an apprehender. I'm only trying to distinguish from perception, which is material implication. Emotional implication is what entangles the twins of the twin paradox. A sense of potential oneness. This is also the superposition familiar to researchers in quantum computing. The connection of distant particles, by definition as I'm suggesting, is an emotional connection. 

At the mega scale at which we operate, all that means is that the particles are connected by a "knower." There is no other way to define both the separation and the oneness. Knowledge then consists in a correspondence between models in the mind and models in reality beyond the mind. The match is an emotional match. Reality can't be defined without it. I guess that I must confess that I also don't think "mind" implies a knower. Mind is a distributed quality of matter when that matter takes a form. Mind conceives, while force is required for perception. And exchange of percepts or what we sometimes call gauge bosons (I think).

Or in other other words, the search for strange forces or time un-bound exchange of information is fruitless, and shall forever be. Information theory is strangely agnostic about means of transmission, which makes information seem disembodied, which, of course, it can never be in reality. There has to be something to count; whether "packets" of zeros and ones as transmitted by wifi or ethernet or light pulses or whatever. The information is sent and it is received. In the case of superposition, there is no transmission at all. There is a definition for identity which is far more extensible than the resolution of the twin paradox ever need be.

Well, I guess and suppose that this is all about as clear as mud to you, though it is as limpid as ether to me. I remain convinced that this shift to understanding can and will make a difference, and that it is as inevitable as Einstein's part I. Part II is where we neutralize the power of the bomb because we realize that it is only love which is holding it all together. No matter what the Right Wingers tell themselves, truth does matter. A lot. 

Let's start telling it.

Interregnum: Grey Gardens and Pale Fire

You will recognize by tortured non-native English my affinity for Nabokov, who is quite unreadable in Pale Fire. I depended on meme-literate offspring for the existence of Grey Gardens (I watched all three renditions). But it is by the strange happenstance which orchestrates all our lives that I witnessed and read both renditions, gape-mouthed, within a very short interval. 

It is strange that either of these works existed in the first place, and stranger still that they have survived. I could say the same about myself.

I won't recommend the works, mainly because of each their obstinate impenetrability. And yet they were fun for their makers, who must all have felt no choice in the matter once it began. The creative world of media was certainly strange during my childhood. Stranger even than now.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Really Big Picture

Across the span of my lifetime, things have changed with almost breathtaking speed. My tendency, which must be the tendency of most everyone as they grow older, is to disparage the changes. So I have all these possibly fake memories about how workers once took pride in their work, and devoted themselves to a lifetime craft. I remember my own jarring discovery in my youth on a bicycle, that each city looked like any other with the same ugly shopping strips sporting the same ugly shops and bright neon-analog touts.

I've watched and tasted good local eateries replaced by automated franchise outlets, and national brand-names supplant local trusted merchants. I grew up in a house with a fallout shelter, and I remember "helping" to build it. World War II replayed incessantly across the same television networks which helped me cheer our arrival on the moon.

Or, in other words my upbringing left me blind to racism, sexism, ghettos of poverty, except in retrospect. I was insulated from deficits in health standards or building standards or how much industry was changing and despoiling the landscape. Until Lake Erie died, which changed the course of my entire life.

By the time I was a conscious adult, computers had already infested banking and supply chains and would soon infest education and commerce more generally.

Now, on a macro scale we see any and all kinds of trust dissolving into an unholy mess of conspiracy theorizing. I know it's attraction. I remember reading about the Bildebergers in a tract out in the territory where Bo Gritz was as prominent as Jesus Saves billboards. I could feel the panic and outrage as it fitted itself to my doubts. Somehow now the billboards and the tracts have become coarser and even further removed from reality. How quaint it is really, that it was a Google divorcee who funded the bizarre retro respiriting of JFK with the likeness of his nephew. The flaw not quite being the nutty nephew, but rather the already weird and unreal conception we've all inherited about JFK himself. 

Judging by how one stream of filmic zeitgeist has developed, many of us are transfixed by apocalyptic endings. History can and likely must be jarring in our technological streaming age. It's never the same river anymore, in a way as different from what Heraclites might have meant when he spoke or wrote of flow and change. 

We still think that at least a part of the change has included improvements to understanding, to knowledge, to security, and even to decency. If things are not getting better that must be because of a moral failing. Indeed it is.

Like a ski jumper, there can be no doubt that my life has spanned the end of the geometric curve which represents the scientific and industrial revolutions. Guilty! Any sort of geometric curve ends not in quasi-parallel trajectories to eternity. It ends in explosion. It ends in a leap.

I hope for an explosion of consciousness, let us pray.

So many people now apologize for Trump by calling him honest, honorable, not part of the swamp. We crave a moral compass now that we accept unvarnished appetite for the way an honest honorable and clean person should behave. 

Others challenge you to find an honest or decent politician anywhere. When did that become a proper defense for the moral vacancy now in ascendance on the Republican side of the aisle?

Anyhow, the thing about all understanding and knowledge is that it must build within a kind of master cultural narrative. The feeling of understanding is really the pleasant feeling of meshing with the larger understanding; our cultural zeitgeist. One person's understanding, these days, is another person's woo woo conspiracy theory, or religious dementia, or depraved hedonism. 

The kinds of Kuhnian shifts which really change our minds are at least analogous to cultural clashes. At least that jarring. 

Now we seem to have fragmented into a kind of heaving swamp of mini-cultures clashing in ways as subtle, changeable and confusing as what the world looks like through a kaleidoscope, without the wonder.

What could possibly bring us back together, now that commerce is the only thing which can truly define the overall appearance of our living landscape. Commerce based on wants and needs which start with food, shelter and community and end with abstracted lusts for those same things writ larger and larger and more and more complex. How much of our enthusiasm do we spend anymore on things that really count. Do we even spend a relative dime on sustainable permanence? Should we?

Or are we locked into a collective supposition that we can collectively achieve a kind of perfection in our systems? A supposition which seems indistinguishable from driving over a cliff in a mad paroxysm or joy at the ride. 

When we despair about "biodiversity" we've reduced the earth to a matter of complexity. By some measures, our complexity has increased, especially if you're focused on data, which is a focus on tabulation which is a focus on a false information theory based misapprehension of intelligence. What we obviously need are sets of better metaphors. To fret about biodiversity is to ignore the possibility that the destruction is equivalent - and I do mean morally equivalent - to the destruction of each of our own bodies. We are killing ourselves for the sake of dead metaphors. 

Frankly, we're doing it because we're having too much fun. We dance on earth's corpse. 


Well, I started this quest by the instigation of meaningful coincidence, or what Meghan O'Gieblyn calls "doublings." I felt at the time - when I was a younger man - that I'd figured it all out. I have to confess that while I may be wiser, like Joe Biden, I may have lost some acuity. I can't quite bring back that Eureka! sense. 

I had something to do with a basic realization about the structure of the cosmos, and I know that it didn't challenge any of our materialistic certainties. It only drew limits around them. Those limits were fundamentally premised on the "function" of chance in reality. Not just in genetics, where it might be almost obvious, but in our daily lives. I experienced a kind of euphoric sense of amplification of the quite ordinary observation that most of what determines who and what we are is not a predicable function of material reality, but rather a complex interaction among more factors than we can catalog. Emotion defines the thrust of those factors, just as emotion defines how we make our decisions, rational or otherwise.

The essence that I have retained is that there is a more expansive definition for emotion than the limited and limiting one we intuit in our naive - as in "naive physics" - ways for making sense. When we despair of our destruction of biologic diversity, we also, at the same time, arrogate to ourselves the obligation to make it right, which goes right along with our guilt for the destruction.

We are simply not that important, and all of our metaphors, dead or alive, have it that we are of cosmic importance. We've refined that to some measure for "intelligence" which is the thing we hang our collective hat on. As though that were the core function of evolution and of life.

Well, I do declare that our naive understanding for intelligence is indeed an important aspect of life's evolution. But we should hardly omit the certainty that earth will not go quietly into the dark night of eternal nothingness. The totality of life on the planet is not in accord with our contemporary notions about what intelligent life is doing. On the scale of politics, we have obviously demonstrated most our idiocy as stewards of anything at all. 

Borrowing mildly from Chinese, as I often do, intelligence without what in the West is referred to as heart is not intelligence at all. When we put orgasmic irresponsible thrilling performances of love front and center in the guise of triumph, success, and performative joy, we are ignoring and not embracing love. To say this sort of thing will not make me a popular fellow. I'm positively anti-economic thrusting. We have to cut it out.


We have to stop searching for any postscriptum to the standard model of physics. It's no longer about force and particles. There are force-free conceptual relations which compose the structure of eternal ideas, though I don't quite mean what Plato meant (the first real book, honest, that I ever did read was Plato's Republic). 

The ideas I refer to are not eternally static. They move, and that motion is what emotion describes. Before Apple patented the i- prefix, I was already calling it e-motion, just as a kind of joke on what we're most proud of.

Well, I might be signing off for good. I'm getting too old to make good arguments, and nobody is paying any attention anyhow. 


I must repair my house and car. It didn't use to hurt so much.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Super Bowl Predictions

Just like Tracy Chapman, ha, I drive around in my old car. Too much money going into it after too many miles. But it's a stick shift and has no interest in guiding my driving. I scoured the universe and there are no more manual transmissions on the market. And I've had it with rehash of someone else's driving habits being pawned off against my own concocted penury.

A tipping point for me. Driving is dead and so should car culture be. Buying electric is a vote for a future I don't even remotely want. I want my city back from Robert Moses, and don't we all now? Vegas can't even do Formula One right!

I wrote about eating at the restaurant at the end of the world, the one which targets the inhabitants of Mcmansions. All of whom spend at least some time in Vegas. What were we thinking? Let gambling in and the NFL will be better? Richer, sure, but . . .

I went to Vegas once and it was mind-blowing. Never have I been so panicked than when crammed by a funneled crowd of strollers at a choke point in the storied sunset walk though and past all the competitive free shows.

If TayTay were performing at half-time it couldn't be more over the carrot top who might yet be our president again. His swan song will be to impersonate Elvis let us pray. What are the odds. Haven't we invited in all the terrorists of the planet for this one? How will it start and how will it end. Will anyone even notice what is being kicked off?

The only places I would still like to drive anymore are in the flyover realms off season. I would like a walkable city with parking at its perimeter and plenty of convenient mass transit thank you very much. Bicycles a-plenty where all the beefy guys are nice.

I will watch on a wall-sized low-res projection, even as TV prices still incredibly drop. I will make wings in Buffalo, coals to Newcastle, over the airwaves. Missing Hunter S. as my wheels are already smoking, my engines belching fire over which rainbow reboot? He shot himself for what?

Anyhow, what's being kicked off is the end of this whole mess. Everything reverts to local, where there actually do remain politicians who are public servants, and who knows, maybe we'll stop paying attention to the global once the media starts its inevitable crumbling now that the interconnections exceed the actual knowledge to keep it all going and safe and worth interacting with. Now that everywhere is pretty much the same.

Let's start with the Post Office, how about, located at the very origin of our brand of capitalism, and put Facebook back where it belongs there. Separate out the product from its delivery again. We'll devolve expertise back local as well. Prices will recalibrate with working class wages and nobody will abide the megawealth of sports or media superstars because what's that all got to do with me.

I like my music live in intimate venues. Welcome back, Buffalo, and may the Super Bowl recede from importance in all of our recollectivism of community activism. Don't come rushing in to where we'll have drinkable water without climate catastrophe for a lot longer than you will. We will dig ourselves out from our automobile destruction a lot more quickly than you will, by hand if necessary, without the panic of New York City.

Vegas will melt down from desert heat. The coasts will be inundated. It's a sign that many of you will find us during the eclipse. Darkness at Noon. Ish. A sign of the times. Groucho not Karl, we shall move beyond the twin models for totalizing labor at the expense of real work. Real human work. MAGA. Communism. Same thing. Whatever.

Any end is always a beginning. Go Bills!

* * *

Well, for sure the Bills didn't win. I was rooting for the Chiefs despite TayTay, and they did their end thing in then end, which maybe we'll learn by next year. I'm keeping my old car, I guess, no matter the cost. It's my service for the sake of the world and so that I don't hate driving. 

It's interesting how much infrastructure can be destroyed how quickly, in Ukraine or in Gaza say. So it's a good thing that our world is now built of cardboard? Has that been the plan all along? Build it and they will come to burn it down. And then we can reinstate, as it were, our art. Reclaim beauty as a public good. Find a way actually to know our neighbors and talk to them. Let go of guilt and outrage both, because they tend so much to become their opposite which never seems to resolve in the direction of love.

I don't know. A bunch of the family went to Niagara Falls the day before the Super Bowl, indulgently and somewhat embarrassingly crowding around my wonderful granddaughter as she was treated to the aquarium. A mostly deserted place on the American side, and mostly deserted by Americans as most strollers were speaking other languages. And it was that rare thing for this winter. A sunny day.

Who knows why the ice boom was put up this year, the first year really in a while that it held back no ice at all. So few years ago it was busted by ice which scraped the low lands bald. 

And as we did with the Peace Bridge, we will debate to death our dire need to rid the city of cars instead of coddling them. Until the car culture dies its natural death, too long after I'm gone for me. So long. The Peace Bridge undercapacity was solved by an obsession with terrorist crossings, making it so unfriendly that casual trips to Canada, by boat or by car, have become too cumbersome to be a pleasure.

The most amazing thing about the Super Bowl was that with tickets costing a minimum of a couple grand, and a maximum of a few hundred K to average 11K a pop, there was a streaker on the field, adverted to carelessly by one of the announcers. What's the backstory to that one? A bet redeemed? An actual football fan who bares his or her chest routinely and spent their entire fortune just to be there? Surely no rich person would risk the attention.

God knows. Yeah right, we all need our comforting fictions. My wings were great!

I do take comfort that wisdom and grace do win out when nature takes its course. We'll get over this because we have to. We shall continue to evolve, like it or no.