Monday, November 1, 2021

Getting Real, or Cosmology Alone Can Save Us

So humans are a microcosm. That means that humans are radically connected to everything else. I'm not the only one to comment that we rival, in complexity, the entire cosmos. And so what are we to do about that?

It seems that every intelligent person is investigating what to do about keeping our world inhabitable by humans. I think that's the wrong problem. The question is what can we do about our behaviors to make us palatable for the rest of life. What must we return in recompense for our gustatory delights?

As I've said many many times before, those of us on the mechanical fix-it side or on the network administration side of humanity are way beyond skeptical that we can engineer our way away from what so often (and wrongly) gets called apocalypse. We don't mean apocalypse. We mean wholesale destruction and end.

Some call this sort of wishful engineering “terraforming.” Science fiction writers like Kim Stanley Robinson and now Neil Stephenson (I keep wanting to call him Bryan Stephenson, and how wrong would that be?) are really engaged in thinking about engineering, including social and political engineering. And some politicians, once again now finally, are trying to do right by the people they serve.

But no-one seems to be understanding how quickly any truly drastic interventions we may make will turn disastrous in purest symphony with the scale of what was attempted. We might as well depend on nuclear winter to save the planet. Perhaps we do.

Shall we retreat into domed bubbles? Perhaps. Shall we become more natural (another misused word) in our behaviors? Impossible! Our triumph is truly wonderful for us. We have good and comfortable lives beyond what was ever possible to oligarchs just yesterday. Or some of us do. For approximation, let's say the literate portion of us.

But to put this all another way, our living is indeed quite natural, so never mind romanticizing Pueblo life, D.H. H.D. Mabel Dodge. It's our nature, as the scorpion said to the frog whom he conscripted to carry him across the river, as he killed the frog. Something like that. 

And it seems to be in our nature to want a portion of us to remain illiterate, which means to remain disconnected from the humanity that prospers. In service to.

We simply won't survive as a species if we continue to despoil the earth for our benefit alone. So the question then becomes, easily, how can we thrive otherwise? Shall we mine our landfills? Do we have the stomach for that? It would be less gross than what it is that we do do. Oh sorry. My puns are never intentional, I assure you. 

It almost seems that we have become clever enough to leave the rest of Nature, writ large, more or less to itself. 

But isn't secreting ourselves from nature the very same thing as terraforming Mars, say, and just as ridiculous. Anyhow, what's the difference between dominating nature and leaving nature if neither leaves the human species alive? Which is, I believe a kind of bedrock truth. We are not apart from nature, and ipso facto we don't survive apart from it.

One of our more fundamental errors is to believe that we have unique access to something more real than real. Something behind or underneath the surfaces. We sometimes call these things principles, and if they work, we call them real. 

But what is real is what is real, and nothing we can do about that. We can't get underneath the real to something more real. All we can do is to find ever more effective ways to work on or with the real. Science is our helper here. It can never grok reality any more or less than religion can, but it can lead us to agree about much of reality. Get reality wrong, and you surely don't survive as individual or species.

One way to get things wrong is to obsess about a reality that you either can't see or can't see yet. We suppose that there is a future reality which is one we fully comprehend in almost precisely the way that religionists believe in a future where we live in God's presence at the end of history. This is what apocalypse means. 

Either way, here we are at the end. 

I'm supposing that there is a different kind of cosmology which distinguishes between knowing reality and working with reality. The one focuses on ideas, which are immaterial, eternal, and come, sometimes unbidden, to the mind and to the mind alone. The other focuses on what I call (I can't say that others call it so, because I'm not enough of an authority) the uncarved block. 

I suppose that this is a matter of priority. Perhaps a chicken/egg sort of thing. If you think that the idea is the primal; that something comes to be ex nihilo by creation, by ideation, then I suppose that you're embedded in Western religious and scientific traditions. If instead you believe that there is no necessary completeness to either reality or to what can be known about it, then you may focus more on transformation than on creation, and you may be embedded in a more Eastern tradition.

Of course most of the essence of any and all traditions has been eroded and perverted, so you may be as free-floating from tradition as I am. As if. 

But the cosmology makes a difference. The earth is as it is, for instance, and as a living being, considered as a whole, it will react and respond to us as we compel it to. Kind of like forcing our ideas upon it. Rape by any other name.

But, I say, that kind of forcing is far far beyond our means. What we can do is to listen for a response. And we can't quite actually do even that if we're overtaken by our guilt at the apparent destruction that we've caused. What we've done is surely not all that bad. And in many ways, we have already grown up and away from our brutal pasts.

We are less ashamed of our lusting, and less likely to indulge orgies of hand to hand bleeding and writhing and hanging death. Our insurrections feel like tailgate partying. Detestable Pinker may be at least partly right. 

But now the dangerous lusts are played out in public. Burgeoning and ever larger monster trucks and boats and mansions. Electrifying them only accelerates the multiplex second comings. 

We are in our natural element, and the elemental is capitalist money. Make no mistake, but we are at our prime. 

There is no shame  or anger sufficient in the cosmos to quell our lust, and so we must conjoin it. We must work through and not against this. 

We are already on the field of play; that place which is the only place where freedom is real. That’s what apocalypse really means. God is on the field with us now. We must conform the rules. 

Let’s try acupuncture, how about? Orgone qi Feng-shui therapy is bound to be better than bio-medical engineering for what ails the planet. Though I hate what it does to put capitalism on steroids, digital power can be helpful with this. Not just LEDs and super smart in/out grids, but transit rectification and alignment, and perma-housing so-called 3D printed in imitation of what the mud wasps do. 

First we had to get the psychically engendered fucking  right, distinguishing between constructed and mystified reality, which is to say to stop distinguishing, because we aren’t quite yet even near to getting real when it comes to sex. But we’re moving on the right direction.

Anyhow, it’s no accident that these things all conflate. The accidents will come about by what we fail to do. The world - us and the planet - is where we need to be. Thank the Cosmos for the oil. We needed that! But to win we have to be sober on the field. 

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