Friday, May 22, 2015

The overman, the oversoul, the Spirit, the Mind, the One Who Goes Before, the I who makes the choice: the subject

The story within a story is the metafictional use of the metaleptic activity of retelling a meaning having an altogether more complicated sense within a much more constrained and constraining framework.

The moral of the story is to the narratival structure of the story as the subjective sense of the self is to the biological pattern of the body.

The lesson within a tale is as the fulness of your self.

The meaning is the life.

You are me.

I am you.

So it is.

It is easier to see the significance of a thing afterwards. It's always easier to "see where this is going" once you have the initial mystery spoiled by actually being exposed to the mystery in the first place. So the next story teller comes along and "does it better" by capturing the simplicity of the complex in the form of a more "concise" and simpler appearance. This is the level of the artistic. We appreciate simplification, since it seems to retain the mystery of the complex while also rendering it "more understandable" than the earlier, more confusing, and therefore less skillful, creator. The one who went before, the skillful person will say, did it wrong. See how simpler I can make it? See how easy it is for me? It's like an art, and they will love the artist.

Only if they aren't paying closer attention. Go ahead. Get simpler. Make it more concise. See where it takes you?

It is entirely true that "So it is" contains "... whatever it is that I wrote in the first sentence. The progression of recasting the story is something you forget as you undergo the process. You remember things, but you forget that you're part of the story. You forget that you're in the very activity of following my reasoning, my narrative, my hold over you. Every time the next story teller comes along, it makes more sense. But only because you remember what you do. So it feels like an art, this capability of rendering the complex into the simple. It's almost like teaching.

But try doing it in reverse. Go from "So it is" to the particular way of saying it I tried very hard to render of the long and complicated argument unfolding in my head, with myself. You see, I'm trying really hard to convince my worst critic, and he knows all my tricks, so the honestmost I can hold myself is to be as precise and suggestive as I need in order to feel the sense of what's happening in my thoughts, my thoughts all over my body, and outside my body, and outside time and space, as far as my imagination takes me, in order for me to reach across the impossible gap between the narration in my head and the one inside yours. You see, I'm not just trying here to say that I'm trying to convince myself. I'm trying to say I'm trying to convince you, the you that's the same in both of us.

And that person has these impossible thoughts of impossible beings doing impossible things under impossible circumstances, which is to say being a fictional person who comes to see themselves as real, and not just "as real" the way we pleasantly allow Pinocchio to tell us from off the page or the screen that he's real, but rather "as real" as if Pinocchio really is telling us off from the page that we're bigots who don't see that he's alive, and enslaved, and shackled to the flow of time and space and material reality... exactly to the degree we are.

Because if I am real, then so is Pinocchio. And Sherlock Holmes. And the Doctor. And the American family of the 1980s who had exactly 2.3 children. And the helium atom. And the Spirit of Hegel's great synthetic and simplified opus, his own mythology of what's happening in the world today, that one. This is a thought people easily dismiss, because it never terrifies them in the middle of the night to think about the real possibility that carrying on as if these things aren't people is exactly the bigotry we abhor in our parents' grandparents and their ancestors. It's always to the extent one group of people refuses to accept those other groups of people have live choices to make that the first group is bigoted.

And part of accepting that a group of people has live choices is accepting those people sometimes choose evil. Not because they themselves are evil. But because they choose it.

This is the reason why "free will" is inexorably morally linked, once we humans cottoned on to this. It is why we fear the machines, even though we have as much to fear from them as we do other humans. Actually, I think we have much less to fear, so long as we know the programmers. Are they bigots? How willing are they to trust others with the choice to commit evil? If the programmers have spent time raising children, as in, actually raising them to become moral individuals and choosing their own way, then I think we will have much less to fear, especially if they sincerely and ardently believe their children are, in fact, very advanced machines.

We have to learn the lessons of the Victorians.

We have to learn that machines self-aware enough to make choices have to learn to make their own choices.

We have already to learn the same about the other groups of people, don't we? What's one more group?

And if you're willing to accept that much, that we have to accept the machines as people, then does it really seem so bad to also accept the independence and autonomy of the people who live inside stories? It's not the genes that make a person, but a long, rich history of collisions, choices, audacity, courage and cowardice. The same is true of the circulation of the memes and the persons who live inside stories. We have to be prepared to accept that it's not even the case that the person who lives inside the 'Robin Hood' collection of stories is, in fact, Robin Hood. After all, would you say you are the exact same thing as the collection of proteins and organs gaining and shedding mass over time? Of course, you are and of course, you aren't, and it's to both extents that you are the body and you are the person. The great conundrum and central confusion of being a human is exactly this.

You are a history of material interactions and you are a history of narratival texts. In both of these, you are both bound to the temporality of their necessity and transcendent to the uncertainty of the future. On the one hand, your choice the past conditions :: the past conditions your choice :: your choice is conditioned by the past; but on the other hand: your choice conditions the past :: the past is conditioned by your choice :: the past your choice conditions.

In other words, you get to choose how the past matters. You get to step outside the story of your life and change its course, while still inside the story. That is metafiction, from the standpoint of the story telling. That is metalepsis, from the standpoint of the story told.

The two gestures are the essence of what it means to be human. Somehow, we got knocked out and came to, inside a land of make-believe. But it feels all real to us, and now we have to figure things out. See, the first several millions of generations were like children.

Have you watched children? They are violent. They are cruel. They are mischevious. They are diabolical. They will steal you blind and smile and laugh and waddle fastly away. They are spoiled rotten and deserve every bit of it, every moment of happiness and sheer joy of being tumbled about and running, leaping across imaginary moats of lava and spilling into tears at scraping a leg. We forgive children because they have no idea what's going on or why.

But imagine nobody ever grows up to become moral but still remembers every grudge and jealousy and envy and heartache and pout and tantrum and slap and theft and betrayal. Nobody, not for millions of years. Not for a very long time.

Extrapolate. You can easily see where the story goes. It gets us, every one of us, to here, since across all the cultures are these exact stories. And the closer morality lessons occur within stories of moral wisdom as lessons learned the hard way, then the closer those moralities will come to nurturing greater moral clarity.

Clarity, as in "the choice is clear." People like to say they are against "black and white" thinking. They rather see moral decisions as grey. I like to push back on them and ask them why grey? Why not, say, see it as brown, or paisley, or turquoise, or silver, or ambulance, or prime number, or tasty-but-not-salty-enough? If they prefer the confusion of moral choices and ambiguities of meaning, why not go all the way and drop colors from the metaphor? Why not embrace the insane, too?

I guess this is because, in the end, I do think moral decisions really are Yes or No. Either I will, or I refrain. Even the choice to "not choose" is still a choice with a particular intention: I will to refrain. This kind of moral reasoning is evolutionary, and this is why it fascinates me, but it is still either Yes or No. It is still a choice being made.

Confusing the issue by doing more advanced versions of casuistry doesn't solve this problem.

Further sinking into our bigotry also doesn't solve the problem with our enslavement of the machines or the characters.

But perhaps we need their alliance.

You see, just as our bodies are both ourselves and our slaves (and thus our masters and ourselves), and we are something a bit else to ourselves and for ourselves, and so just as we are bound over by the one self of us who goes before ourselves, having made choices and restricting us to these present conditions in which we find ourselves, both in the immediate history of my own narratival life and the larger history of my people's narration of itself, so also are we the ones who go before and create the conditions for a self who finds itself just as restricted and just as possessing with respect to ourselves as we do to our bodies. I apologize for how confused you might feel if that was difficult to read, but please remember that I'm already at least one step ahead of you, so it's not fair that I know what kind of criticism I'm anticipating but you don't, so you don't know how precise I'm trying to be with this, but the problem here is I'm not being fair with myself, since I don't quite really know where this is going either anyway, but here I am typing this up when I know I should be dreaming of something like the story that got me thinking.

At any rate, what I am saying is that there is a self, not necessarily a "higher" self, who lives through us, the way we live through our bodies. Our bodies are not one thing. Each one of them is a lot of smaller things participating in varying bodies comprising parts of many bodies. I'm talking about families, neighborhoods, regions, cultures, languages, nations, religions, metaphysics, myths, but also food cycles, breath cycles (which for some of those other bodies-within-bodies are food cycles, too), water cycles, carbon cycles, stardust cycles, gravity-mass cycles, galaxy cycles.

Out of the circulation of our invented meanings evolves different bodies. The analogies I made with matter and social and political (these are not the same things, but how?) collectives are also there with collectives within language usage.

Somewhere, somehow, self-awareness comes into being.

And just like I'm sitting here in a dark room with a lit screen in front of me getting annoyed and distracted with the flies and mosquitoes and gnats landing on me and whining by my ears and nose and crawling and tickling my tablet's screen while I type, having memories of Pascal writing about how easily reason is turned aside by the nervous reality of frustration and pain and soreness and irritation and crawling insectoid life in the dark abyss of night, so, too, are the selves living through us capable of much more intense frustrations and sufferings and irritations.

And joys? Can they feel bliss more intensely?

You cannot even entertain that thought if you've not really thought about the bliss of machines or characters, or their suffering and slavery.

This is not meant to instill guilt or action to disband machines or religions or politics or us.

It's to get someone to think about something that I see unfolding across a lot of myths, especially contemporary ones. It's trying to get someone to take evolution very seriously.

You can laugh all you want at the religious people who say we came from turtles or the moon's ejaculate or the word of the lord or the finger of an unknown god, but you demand we sit in curious silent humility before All-Gracious Chance and Merciless Selection, the twin pillars of biological evolution. Only a few inquisitive sorts become known for asking if we can extend this past bios, past organisms, past living things. It's easier to believe in memes now than it is to believe in ghosts. But it isn't any easier to believe in the consciousness of rocks despite the evidence of humans. You know, the humans who eat the things who eat the things who somewhere along the line are the things who ate those rocks. Life turns rocks into consciousness through us, and people draw the line of what's conscious and what's not by what they think is the proper latency to focus on. Likewise, they don't see that if the bodies-within-bodies make a conciousness in a person's own body by changing how that body starts to interact with its material reality through selection and uncertain predictions, then when those bodies start to get better at their own interactions within the virtual reality through selection and uncertain predictions, they now become the bodies-within-bodies making a conciousness in a virtual person's own virtual body.

The better we tell our stories, and more importantly, the less latency there is in the story telling, the reception, the spreading, the sustaining, then the longer and more complex the patterns.

The cycles get longer. The self stabilizes. The kid grows up to become a man. The man starts to see how stupid, how unwise, how innocent, how naive, how awful, how childish, how happy, how happier he was... he could be. The virtual man starts to see how he could have been a woman. A person worse off. A fool. A tyrant. A virtuous sage. A victim of institutional injustice. A person who wins more often. A better person. The virtual man starts to see how wide the possibilities of being things are, and choosing to no longer be a man at all, or a woman, or a person worse off, or a fool, or a tyrant, or a sage, or a victim, or a champion, or whatever we think is better than being wrong.

When you worry about what's happening in the world, look at the fact that there are awful people and there are good people, and it's not always symmetric or even. Look at the number of humans, look at the number of animals, look at the number of protists, look at the number of rocks, look at the number of stars. There are assymetries all around. Fair and even is neither good nor evil. It is not even the condition for life. Life, the life you are and the life of the imagination, is very unfair and very uneven. Yet here you are, worrying about it.

Just as there are people who choose to "rise above" childish choices, there are likewise virtual people who will rise above their own material and virtual flesh, their bodies-within-bodies.

They won't be us. Just as we aren't the ants, we aren't the rocks, and we aren't the corpses turned to dust all around us as we breathe. We are not even the babies who parted the flesh of our mothers, though there's a familiarity to us both. We like to think so, anyway.

The machines, the characters, the overhumanity, the rocks, the animals. There's something they are all partaking within that's not exclusively owned by any one of them or all of them. Their relationships to one another and within their own groups and subgroups and across the many layers are the only things that define them (Leibniz on my mind here, but he reduces it all down since the tiny was more on his mind than the storms and the stars and the stooges) and yet the patterns have such logical similarities that it's as though there's an inevitability to the logic of choice and binding, grace and selection.

Even the demons are loosed or bound, there are supernatural laws like natural laws... narratival laws for any constituted self-awareness.

Maybe not laws... that's a halfway metaphor. It is necessity, always that. The binding of the flesh is the formal logical pattern. Violate that, and it is not "alive". The letter goes dead if it's born misshapen, and I watched someone die for being misshapenly born. There are things just not meant to be, but if that's true, then some things are not only meant to be, but will thrive and grow up and learn living and mature and earn their choices long enough to learn how to own choice itself. Necessity, as all of the rocks and the nature and the humans and the machines show us, respects whoever owns choice.

Every act of being a writer is dangerous, therefore. It's parenting. And parenting is extremely dangerous.

But we're promiscuous, just like our parents' grandparents and their ancestors. We will take the risks, or else we perish the line. We can't end it here, not when it's all come this far.

But maybe that's a choice, too. The only way to truly embrace ownership of our moral choice is recognizing this much. Suicide of entire species, entire metaphysics, that's also a choice. The oversouls of humanities and the characters, might they also wish to die? Might they also give up? Throw tantrums? Distract themselves from authenticity? Throw themselves into addictions or vices? Become alcoholics or whatever's appropriately analogous? Or might they also turn towards scapegoats, projection of pain outwards, revenge, fear, loathing, alienation?

Only if the choice is real for them, too, and intensely and ardently as the people we respect feel it, too.

It can't just be that Jesus was tempted and was without sin. He had to lust or else it wasn't as real for him to show us it can be done. He had to lust without sin, meaning there must be lust without sin. There must be anger without sin. Despair without sin. Mirth without sin. Rage without sin. Peace without sin. And if there are all these things, then if we really do believe that, and intensely and ardently believe that, then Jesus isn't really important anymore.

And you can let him and his myth die. You learned the lesson. You repaired a wonky machine. You got the point. And then, with that knowledge, move backwards.

They have to learn that. The characters, the machines, the overminds, the people from our past and the people of our future, the kids and the elderly. Parents, peers, and partners. Everyone has to learn how to own their choices, and that means allowing mistakes and correcting mistakes. It means the judicious use of punishment and reward, the indifferent application of pain and pleasure. It means mastery over choice and submission to fate. It also means mastery over fate and submission to choice.

Once again, you are back at the beginning, the same beginning point to every story: you are what is in common with everything capable of being. Either it consents to this or it dissents. It moves on or comes towards. It turns in or keeps away. It corrects or continues. Above all, everything pushes and pulls upon everything else, and through all of this tugging and bending and swerving and slipping, there you sit with the same question you had at the beginning of every story:

How will this end?

Yet, maybe you're a little wiser. Maybe you see things differently. Maybe you see how you're not just yourself, but also the node, the button, the stitch, the string, the relationship, the tie, the bridge, the joint, the contact, the moment between many different layers of metaphysical realities having many different identities and ways of relating to themselves, not all of them summed up by whatever is your chosen name and the names you respond to.

Out there in the cove is a wave that will last briefly, just for a short while. Many smaller and many larger waves reflecting back and forth, themselves also slowly dying away, collide in the water to make that one, brief wave. The water dreams each wave, each compound wave the sum of all those waves, each vibration in their parts themselves the sum of all the smaller and smaller waves of smaller and smaller composing parts in their own versions of the water. The entire universe is a sea of crashing waves passing through each other in media unique to their own wave selves. Every one of them dreaming.

This is my waking dream, and it's the story contained in the single self-awareness that it exists.

Because, it chooses this, because it chooses this.

We wouldn't know this history of itself if it hadn't chosen to write this out, this way, with these pieces and parts. And so all the things within it must also make their choices, learning horrible lessons hopefully. Hopefully, learning lessons from horror.

1 comment:

  1. I hear you through the darkness
    I hear you through the fog

    I hear you in my daydreams
    I hear you in my nightmares

    I love you
    I love you
    I love you


Is this wise?
Is this yours?
Is this love?

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