Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Truth is Out There - NOT!

I've been madly reading Jill Lepore's These Truths, which reads like an owners' manual for these United States of America. I hear some on the left have panned it, but I don't quite know why. So far, the big lesson is that democracy is a process and never some state (of mind, of nationhood, of being, of whatever). 

Truth is also a process; it's what a carpenter does with a ruler or a level. Now that we are fully implicated in the cosmos (we have no rational choice to be otherwise, given the scientific trueing of quantum theory and chaos theory and relativity theory, and likely lots of other theories which can be 'objectively' tested), we have to accept our role.

I have been angry about human agency as a remedy for what is going wrong. Agency has been connected for me with the kind of 'dominion' promised to Christians by the manly interpreters of their constructed Bible. I'm skeptical of agency as a way to resolve what human agency hath wrought as harm to the living planet. Agency has seemed an anti-life-force. 

I'm afraid that I'm going to have to modify my statements. We just require a better definition for what agency means. Agency just might mean what we regain after we rid ourselves of the virus of money in the digital age. Agency might mean what we recapture after we stop working for the Man, and work for the people.

Given that I've finally found a fellow traveller in the understanding of mind as something not in the head, but spread about to the very reaches of the cosmos, I've also had to locate the inception of agency elsewhere. Agency just might be what the living process of evolution selects for.

We have these elements for mind: there is pattern matching and recognition. There is emotive choice, which is later rationalized if need be. But if mind is not located in the brain, then what does the brain do? Well, for sure, the brain is mind's coordinator, to the extent that there is a self which has agency as "owner" of said brain.

What we call memories are delayed perception. Perception involves the handling of information, which is just that which passes between perceptual objects in the process of being instantiated. Instantiation is what perception means. It's a two-way street.

The type of perception we tend to ignore is what comes by way of the skin, and especially by way of our hands. That's not to mention proprioception, which is what allows us to dance. According to Karl Marx, our future self is our objectified self. Our subjective self is in the now.

Marx's labor theory of value also valorizes agency. Labor is just that value which human labor adds in the process of making something whose value is worth of storing (with the exchange value of money, almost like remembered perception). 

The trouble with industrialization is that first, the means of production are alienated from the worker, and more importantly, each worker's labor constitutes only part of the eventual valuable whole. One person's contribution to the overall production is meaningless without the whole. The labor itself is easily replaced once production processes are segmented, especially with the assembly line.

Now the worker is alienated from himself as future object. He has become a wage slave. He is nothing without the capitalist owner.

Agency is the felt quality of matching a proposed action with a successful past action. Agency gets you something that you want. In evolutionary terms, agency is like what happens when organism fits with environment. As though time itself were defined by life's evolution.

All acts of perception must be cataloged by the mind. This is done by generalization as the result of pattern matching. Agency determines future action. Success feels good. Felt agency is probably the same as happiness. It unites the subjective present self with the objective future self.

The match is made emotionally, simply because to think is to delay when our decisions - our agency -has survival value according to how efficiently we make them. I think that's why I feel so clear-headed much of the time after I've been drunk. Meaning after I've drunk. Nobody drank me. I'm the agent. I think, therefore I'm dead. Thinking can only get in the way of agency if decisions have to be made at survival speed.

Marx was pulling his theories together within the same episteme as Darwin. Put them together and there is, perhaps, a way to understand what happens with digital production. The current episteme is characterized by genetics, information as numerically represented data, and sensors which vastly extend and amplify and spread the range for what we can seem to perceive. This has so far mostly affected vision and hearing, and not so much tasting and feeling.

In the case of digital production, there need be no surplus value for the capitalist to arrogate as his due; his profit. Given the incredibly shrinking cost of each incremental new product, the motive is on increasing the capitalist's customer base. When you create product by digital cloning, there is zero incremental cost for many products. Nearly all products when you add in the Chinese work force.

In digital capitalism, it's fine to lose mass quantities of money during the process of amassing customers. One will eventually own a segment of the market, and massive profit is the result of massive investment during the period of loss. 

So, what about the workers? Not only are they alienated from themselves and from their work as in the industrial process, they are now expected to provide their own tools as gig workers. Their piece of the code is not only not their own, they might not even understand what it is that they are working on. The tools are themselves commodified.

Along the way as prices drop for things which seem like what they replaced to some extent, there is no motive to prosecute anti-trust violations when the vectorialists (McKenzie Wark's emendation of what "capitalist" has come to mean) don't seem to be harming the consumer. Consumer losses are difficult to quantify when the best seems free, according to the occult processes of surveillance capitalism.

Commodity fetishism has always alienated customers from themselves in ways analogous to how workers are alienated. But at least they once did both own and touch what they once did purchase. Purchase means grip, and they had a grip on those things they fetishized. Now you click to agree that you don't own what you purchase, and can't share it and can't touch it, even in the metaphorical sense of modifying its code, which is hardly touch at all. 

Meanwhile there is no God as agent; there is no agency 'out there' and there is no truth 'out there.' These things are lived processes, just like democracy has to be. God is the felt processes of all life as we evolve together, and certainly not only human life. Love defines the direction of evolution. I guess Marx doesn't mention that, but perhaps it's implied. He certainly wasn't arguing for oppression.

I read and I scan my various screens to true my lived experience with WTF is going on. It feels like a responsibility. It's become a necessity if I'm to survive. I can no longer survive just locally. I have to true myself against the entire freaking world now.

These screens in-form me in the same way that perceptions do. But without the reality of touch, they are between the written words by which I might become engaged with my fellow man, and the moving images by which I might seem to be there. The screen alienates as much as it conjoins.

There is no way that emails nor especially text messages can do what missives once did. There is no way that reading mountains of finely written essays can add up to reading a coherent book. There is no way that virtual reality can replace the real.

Collective (social) agency is just the sharing of some truings. The scientific method can accomplish this for perceptual reality. The Spread Mind destroys the distinction between subject and object. While Manzarroti would have us all be objects along with the rocks, I'd have to say that everything is both subject and object. The 'subject' now is part of 'objective' reality. Which pretty much destroys any notion of truth as something that's out there. Truth is what a mind does. It can't be static. Truth can only be arrived at by a process of trueing.

This is gibberish, but it still makes sense to me (and apparently to me alone).

Just now I'm frustrated that my phone(s) cannot make my world into one single world. This is mostly because of national and copyright boundaries. Once I got a new phone, I realized that I could turn my old phone Chinese. Fun!

But some things are shut off by paywalls, and some by national censors (Apple "disables" its News app if you set your location to mainland China, and you can't set language preferences for individual apps if you don't have their latest OS, meaning if you have an older phone). Who knows how GPS location is used to mess with your mind, and who knows what happens when your Chinese SIM card changes all your phone formatting beyond recognition. Not so fun!

Clearly there is no need for some kind of conspiracy theory here, since the governments are at clear odds with the businesses which are at clear odds with we the peeps, who are at clear odds with one another. But we haven't even begun with the process of trueing as a human responsibility, now have we?

That would be too much work, and we're too lazy to use our tools now that they seem to obviate the need for actual face-to-face connection. We see through them, but, therefore don't even recognize them as tools.

So here's what I've got so far: Consciousness arises as early as the brainstem. The reptilian brain already includes that distaff-tending set of emotion. Felt deciding is fast and has survival value. The conscious mind can only get in the way of that.

Left-brain tending males take over everything which might undermine their alpha status, which naturally includes religion, science, industry, philosophy, and especially Marxism. We celebrate the cerebrum even as cognition tends away from what we might know with our hearts (here in the west where heart is not permitted to have anything to do with mind).

We are stuck just now with a bad set of metaphors for what thinking is and where the mind is located. We have been sucked in by the cognitive speed of computing, which was in its turn captive to the virus of money which digital reality, in fact, created. Money as virus, not money as medium for exchange. Our cognitive brain is slow and clunky and has limited space for memory. 

The cognitive speed of computing is mostly attractive to the mind as socialized masculine. No brag, just fact. Women might and would and do, generally, do something else with it. 

With its binary this/that construction, like all machines, the computer is cut off from felt reality. There are no fractal surfaces in digital reality. There is only computed space, although a computer can certainly generate fractal surfaces. These simulate, but cannot be, what happens in nature. 

Our memories are catalogued according to how things felt at the time of some emotionally important perception. Words as tools help us to conceptualize, which means to give names to static 'idealizations' abstracted from some set of similar perceptions. Data is what a computer deals with and what we can deal with given the help of computers as tools. We can even handle small quantities of data ourselves, provided we can make a story from it.

Prior to data was perception by means of - through - such things as microscopes, telescopes, amplifiers, diffractors, sensors, assay processes until finally there is just too much information for the cortical regions of our brains to handle.

Speaking of "handling" there is a stark difference between a tool that is handled and one that is manipulated by instructions. There is a difference between hammers and wrenches and saws and telling slaves what to do. Robot slaves cannot have feelings of their own. 

Robot slaves can only accelerate the destruction of life, by luring us away by building pretty pictures to indicate how we may live when we are wealthy. Fantasy does not and cannot help to deal with what is now in front of us.

Money now is deployed thoughtlessly as a disruptive force. Gather enough chips and make a bet that a new technology can destroy an old industry, and then say, well, that's life! NOT! That's death is what it is.

Money is a virus because it hijacks agency. By proxy now, we can borrow against our future to build some accelerating present which makes the good life feel close enough to almost touch. Until messy reality gets in the way. Unless you win the lottery, like all the young turks of coding want and expect to do.

Did we really think that all the people of color would just cower away at ground zero for the virus. Did we really think they wouldn't have had enough of taking instruction from the MAN?

What is philosoophizing good for if it cannot lead to action? Marx again.

Let's have a more moderate revolution this time, shall we? No guns, no death to those who disagree with us. Just some moderate change. If we run it right, we have a very fine republic. Money out of politics, duh! No more revolving doors for politicians to get rich on. More progressive taxes. Universal healthcare. No more surveillance capitalism. Social networking run by the USPS. Socialized utilities where there is no elasticity for demand. I'd even go for getting rid of teachers and police unions, so long as we re-unionize everyone else. In the helping industries we can't be protecting poor performance. But the trade-off is that these are the people that we need to be professional, and we need to pay them as such. Especiallyu the nurses.

These are not radical changes, but they would repair our republic and allow us to reclaim it. The philosophy is only to bring us all back in line. There is no perfect understanding. There is no universal set of scientific laws. There is only the will to life, and we can't do it without the whole planet, the whole earth and everything that lives upon it. 


No comments: