Well, this will be slow going. While Bratton seems to use reasonably accessible language, his pages are densely packed, with long paragraphs; tiled over like the calendar of a contemporary leader. I will cycle back around to do a slower read, but for the moment there's something on my mind.
In the background of this (genre of?) writing is the vague but apparently well-accepted notion that the Earth has entered the epoch of the Anthropocene, which is to say that humanity is the major factor in terraformation toward what will prove to be an epochal transformation.
I can't buy this textual manipulation and imposition for the simple reason that by my estimation, there have been scant few humans ever to walk the earth so far. Humans have, so far, been opposed to what we in the West call "nature," which is an intricate and miraculous appearance over time, from the void, of self-regulating and self-correcting anti-entropic organic organization. In the East, this is sometimes referred to as self-so, in opposition to make-it-so.
It may all be accident in opposition to design. One of Bratton's Big Notions is that our new order is accidental, and he is surely correct about that. But so far as I can tell so far, he is urging discovery of the locations where choice can make a difference, and implicitly therefore urging that we make some sort of choice in our designs.
Now choice feels like a good idea, when most of us, when trying to gaze into our futures, are having an increasingly hard time to find anything other from calamity for what we call humanity.
My gaze is toward humanity's dawn and not its sunset, and I don't think I'm looking backwards.
Therefore this epoch which I hope and pray and trust will be a short one, is not yet the Anthropocene, but is rather what I'm calling the binary Logocene. It didn't start with digital, the imposition of binary coding on the planet, but rather around the time of Archimedes, perhaps, and the budding excitement among the human species that we could not only take advantage of leverage against natural forces, but that we could describe our methods in writing and figures in ways to share them with a growing literate body-politic. And thus began an ever accelerating avalanche for man against the elements.
By now in extremis by our thrall in masculinist narratives for domination, at the very pinnacle of hubris, we suppose that we will become eternal and that the entire cosmos may become ordered according to our design. What better definition for the God we once believed?
It is we who have been dominated, of course and not our so-called Mother Nature. The accidental deployments of our machinery are making all the decisions autonomously, and have been for quite some time now. We can only surf their ministrations against the planet, and gladly do so for personal aggrandizement in a kind of nightmare version of competition against our Man up in our Heavens.
It would be difficult to sacrifice oneself to the maws of happenstance, when deferral is so readily available. Toward one's kith and kin it would be downright irresponsible. And yet our time-span individually on the planet has already peaked in just the way that oil's trivial availability has, which matters mostly with regard to the amount of reading you might master before memory fails. To keep that civilizational heartbeat going, beyond which we might be pounded back to the stone age of an instant.
Or it may be that we should turn away from texts of any sort, which while in-forming are also controlling our so-called minds, and not according to some beneficent logic. They get away from us, those words, the minute we utter them, and are turned into something entirely other by new machineries for tortured lexical implications for our enthusiasms.
How strange, I remark often to myself, that we have now ordered ourselves into a neat binary not man to woman, but as Lakoff might have noticed, strong father and nurturing mother oppositions, at the point where perhaps 10 surveyed data-points about your thoughtful predilections can determine your voting or even purchasing patterns to some ever decreasing margin for error, as the surveys become refined.
Let's give the Trumpeters the benefit of the doubt and say they hold nearly the masculine margin against the larger female population on the planet. In round numbers, let's call the split binary in just the way we do with gender. Let's allow legitimacy to the opposition.
At the same time, we will have to admit to ourselves, each of us, that we do not have an independent thought in our minds. That we are neither in thrall to the loudmouth exhorters for our enthusiasms, nor to somber theorists or even artistic envisioners, but rather to the machinery that we have loosed upon the earth. The binary is control as opposed to embeddedness, and there is precisely no way out.
I follow Bratton's metaphor here in dissolving boundaries which have been thought to define a people. Cosmopolitans in Shanghai and New York have far more in common than Kansans and Buffalonians do, perhaps, and I suppose they know it and are glad for it. In like fashion my gender, my culture, my nuance hardly matters any longer, because it is the side of the binary toward control which dictates.
My god is Irony with a capital I, a Great Figure of speech, in case you haven't known him. He has yet to be translated into Chinese to my knowledge, thus far. I have internalized within my own mind the binary, and I have done something no digital 0/1 yes/no either/or artificially intelligent extrapolation can ever do. To hold them conjecturally simultaneous, and to continue to listen as well as to speak.
These conjectural binaries will collapse in one direction or the other, but to hold them open is an act of love, which finally is that force which did bring life to earth from the void of otherwise nothingness.
So there is and will be no leverage point for our designs upon our planet. Neither is there some exit velocity achievable in reality. There is only the human against the machine, and the human remains in the bud. I look forward to the dawning of the Anthropocene, and it will be as welcome as death's sleep, eternally restful in sure knowledge of accident in the direction of love and not terror, the most natural disposition of all.