Saturday, April 4, 2020

A New Narrative is Precisely What We Need

Yet again, I am pleased to find Benjamin H. Bratton to be readable. I follow his analysis here, and, as always, agree with it 99 44/100 percent. The phrase I can't agree with is this one:
"What is required is less a new narrative or a new art than acceptance of how the rapid intrusion of an indifferent reality can make symbolic resistance futile."
His remedy requires a kind of global regime change, and perhaps he even sees that happening as we write. But most of our usage of the planet's brave new instrumentarium, as he also points out, is used for unimportant things. He has pointed this out many times before:
We have the means, but have been using the technologies for less important things (advertising, arguing, affectation, etc.).
Lost here is the evident fact that the instrumentarium is still largely used for purposes of reality denial. Not just the obvious negatives of climate denial, but the very positive messages about God's love, the inevitable apocalypse, the love that might be revealed by us all being in this thing together.

I don't think that it's a valid move for Bratton to even suggest that somehow he (and his followers, presumably) are the only ones not denying reality. To me, he often reads like yet another utopian, sounding off about how we can make things right forever if only we choose to do the right thing.

Religion-based deniers of reality are nowhere more numerous, populous and embedded in the governing structures than here in these United States; where Bratton indicates that he is now holed up. Which is the outside and which the inside of this bunker now?

We are worried here, not only about the reality deniers. We are, or should be, worried about the liars who make hay from the gullibility of masses of people who want and need to believe that their leaders believe. Even when they obviously don't.

Neither Trump nor Bratton believe in any one and only anthropomorphic god, and neither do I. Only one of those two is lying. But I believe in (I wish there were some other term here) something other and more than humanity engineering and instrumenting our survival on the planet based on some fantasy of conscious global human agency.

That's not what got us here in the first place. Billions and billions of years of the life-force of evolution did that. It is purest hubris to suppose that we are somehow the endpoint of all those eons on the basis of a very local and flawed definition for consciousness. This hubris is the suicidal insanity we have to guard against.

Can anyone deny how powerful the Christian narrative has been and continues to be in the processes of terraforming? Broaden that; the Abrahamic narratives? Broaden that; the man as agent for dominion narratives?

Does Bratton even have any clue about Eastern narratives which were always grounded on something other than agency. There were always structures beyond the ability of human mind to apprehend, nor certainly to control. No Platonic God of Greek descent was ever needed in those narratives.

When my dog (I've don't have one of my own, I'm cribbing someone else's) mimics human expressiveness with contrite eyes and turned up mouth to say he needs something of me, that expression isn't fake because he's been bred among humans to know what to do with his face when he wants a treat. The dog is straight up honest in ways that humans almost never are.

Putting on a face has never been a lie where face is important to the social construct. Irony be my guide.

Putting on a mask is nothing in the East. It's what is done, and what if it neutralizes the facial recognition cameras all over China?  Hey a government has got to do what it's got to do for the sake of the people. Except in our American bunker, apparently. Here, the people have suddenly become "them" to those in charge.

There is surely something worse than the po-faced look of VP Pence and other sermonizers in the face of actual emergency, but I don't know what that could be. Anyone who might claim to know what God wants of us is a bald-faced liar. That person wants to build an empire on earth is all.

The virus of that sort of ambition scares me a lot more than does the coronavirus. We do need a new narrative, Benjamin, and it's ready to hand.

The eons of life's evolution are present all in and around us - not off in some distant galaxy far far away. The relation is love, as anyone who's ever eaten magic mushrooms in the right frame of mind will tell you.

This narrative does not harm the corpus of scientific narrative in any way, shape or form. To construe non-physical relations as simultaneous and time's arrow as unidirectional only as a conspiracy of lived life, does no harm to cherished beliefs that are based in reality. Emotions don't need messenger particles, as those are required to mediate the forces of physical attraction or repulsion which define physical, material, motion.

The subject has never been apart from the object.

We are microcosm is all. And if we are to act in concert, we need a good narrative to bind us each to other (as though we could ever exist alone - as Bratton so correctly points out, we have to carry earth with us if we want to head to outer space).

Yes, sure, I am just another fantasist about quantum mechanics and chaos theory. I have seen the heavens and they are ordered that way. This is not rocket science. This is down home real.

The boundaries are always fractal, and the limits of any sort of control are already implied by the feigned attempt to believe in it. Control is what has to be relinquished in order to know the way forward. The instruments are already in place. All we need is love.

To say God knows is cop-out. As Bratton makes clear, it's our job to know. It's our responsibility as literate human beings to become truly conscious and to face reality as it truly is and not as we'd wish it to be in some fantasy of whatever wealth can get us if we win the 80-odd year game against the odds.

The odds are all we've got, right? The accidents of our existence, our personality, our chosen realities. They're all against us collectively right now, and not because of the coronavirus. They are against us because we deny reality in favor of a fantasy. No matter if it's a religious fantasy or a materialistic utopian one. They're both deadly to the planet and therefore deadly to each and all of us.

Sermon ended,


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