Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Scintillations of a Difference Engine

I'm still snowed in, and therefore continuing to struggle with Benjamin Bratton, The Stack. I am at that point of despair, where the proliferation of authors he's read that I have not yet heard of may lead me down some rabbit hole of wonder at such manifest genius. So I must choose instead to wonder at what he's not.

Just prior to entering that lengthy section which promises to dissect his Stack, layer by layer, he makes mention of Kurzweil and Cerf, both now denizens of the Google earthspace, perhaps done in footnotes, perhaps referring to rather opposite types, I don't know.

I do know that Kurzweil banishes accident from his conception of ultimate cosmos. This certainly distinguishes him from Bratton, who explicitly introduces accident as one of the most important design outcomes of those Brave New Worlds we perhaps only think that we are engineering, while they engineer us instead. But neither of them write poetry (of any sort which would be recognized as such) so let's start there.

Poesis is a kind of making which Bratton certainly comes closer to than either Kurzweil or Cerf. But his is a controlling and cataloging mind, even his haircut is severe (is this fair? I doubt it), and his writing is quite solid in its overlong convolutions. (out from the snow across the parking lot walks a homeless soul, likely emerged from one of those tents down in the hollow behind my warren)

Poesis mends mind and body by means of accident in a direction toward what we with stronger minds in-formed by many words habitually dismiss as religion. So I wonder if all and any writer of the philosophic is wedded to every other by tacit or overt agreement that at least we can know that accident is meaningless of inception. Which is to say that while accident is often the most meaningful of construals in its outcomes, it is definitionally removed from intentional design, except by those cop-out thinkers who put it to the mind of God.

So I must borrow from the Godless discourse of China, in hopes that I may carve out a space where I am more competent than polymathic Bratton, where intention plays no part in meaning, and accident defines that which is beyond the reach of words and their involuted mental constructions. Which brings us to a better definition for mind than the ones on offer through books. Cosmic poesis without intention of any sort.

There is only so much to be pinned by words, or by the global computational infrastructure of The Stack. Beyond that are other spheres to which we are also linked, and conjoined by those impacts of our bodily manipulations which are only prefigured by mind's imaginings and must be tested against reality. And what if the engineered design of our global Stack is mostly poised to imprison mind in matter, and no wonder Silicon Valley, whatever else it is, is sexist and racist to its core. There is no remedy by argument.

I do confess to a kind of schadenfreude by Trump's juxtaposition against some beautiful person in running shoes, or on a fat-tire bike through snow. Some solidarity with persons sleeping out in tents, even in a blizzard. It is this connection which will define our de-engineered future, undesigned, cosmically relevant in ways that verbalized meaning can not be.

I will continue to read for the lever point, that Archimedean inflexion beyond which I still can find the human, once of direction toward and not away from God so-called and now internalized in opposition to global computational anything.  Which renders uncontrollable appetites, which can be sublimated only if you are fortunate in your beauty, which cannot be resisted, nor should it be for it is metaphor not collapsable by augmented reality which can offer but a glimpse. Where beauty always is. God in the shadows, emergent.

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