Text is now being added and edited, along with additional links. Images will be added soon.
In the meantime, please enjoy the music at the heart of this multi-media essay:
If anything should be clear by now, it's that the aforementioned modernist standards of logic and reason that have put us into this box are not likely, by themselves, to provide the explanatory power required to break out of it. As Einstein famously said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
On the other hand, the vernacular caution against "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" provides a useful warning, which for all its practical and theoretical value has gone largely unheeded by postmodern purists who would deconstruct endlessly so as to disintegrate "the box."
While useful as a corrective force in the trails of the still strong influence of the modern era, the limitation of the postmodern approach—when applied exclusively and without abandon—is that while it may be useful in removing the box, it tends to break down and eat away at the contents as well, or at best leaves an individual without the form or structure that is necessary for a person to fully exercise their "freedoms."
Indeed, anthropologist Dorothy Lee draws on a lifetime of cross-cultural research to convincingly assert that freedom is dependent upon and made possible by structure in a series of classic essays—in spite of any American notion that structure always stands as an impediment to the realization of individual freedom.
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This can be seen in the way that political structures are needed in order to keep the free markets "free."
In the words of a post from an unknown source in a 2010 discussion thread stemming from a question asking what is the opposite of the free market, the "[o]pposite of free market is the situation where people are not able to decide which industry to pursue and to trade and barter the products of their industry--relying instead on instructions of others and distribution by others. In other words, opposite of free market is slavery."
Please note that these conditions can occur under a state controlled, planned economy--which is typically considered the to be the "opposite"of a free market economy--as we see in the structures associated with modern communism.
So, it is interesting that these same conditions also arise in a once-free-market economy that operates in a democratic state, if that market has been hijacked by monopoly interests.
Consider that the father of modern capitalism, Adam Smith, established that an unregulated free market will inevitably give birth to monopoly interests, who will come to dominate that economy and create fundamental imbalances if left unchecked.
Hence, a market will not remain "free" if there is no mechanism for regulation--and most regulation is done by the state, as an exercise of its political authority, although it should be noted a free market does have its own "governing" forces.
If not corrected for directly, these and other imbalances the "organically" arise in the life cycle of a market-based economy must be accounted for in determining how value created within the society is distributed (or not distributed) among the various groups and individuals—or else the overall society will be prone to crisis.
And the "injustices" that result from the failure to account for all this are cumulative, and if not addressed, will inevitably result in a crisis--or more actually, a series of crises that will play out over time as the resulting injustices become increasingly harder for the society (and affected individuals) to reasonably bear.
Then it is up to the state to determine how each crisis will be handled--and if its underlying causes will ever be understood, and then if the market will be brought back into balance through direct (and indirect) interventions, as appropriate.
It is also up to the state to determine if "diversionary" tactics and force will be used to deal with any fallout from the crisis, which is always an option as well.
But if the underlying causes are not effectively addressed, the crisis is certain to arise again, in different form at a later date, and each time the destructive potential of the crisis will increase.
This dynamic is seen in the inevitable periods of crisis that are "built in" to capitalism as we have come to know it. I would suggest these crises have been "inevitable" in large part because when the overall society is not "structured" in such a way that the common interests of society are given sufficient voice and expression, and when certain interests are systematically privileged over others--there will eventually be problems.
The political structures and their processes should also function to rein in the actions of rogue actors, who are not following rules established to protect the common interest, as they also must uphold and represent the essential and commonly held values of the culture that are not accounted for in the "default" market equations that together comprise the "algorithm" that is the economic structure of the society.
When imbalances in how the values and interests of society are represented in the overall economic "algorithm"—as well as the larger "algorithm" that governs the larger society and also directly accounts for social and cultural factors--are not addressed, these "algorithms" will not function well-enough to sustain the society, and will generate inevitable conflicts that will eventually tear it apart.
It is worth noting in this context that every known "civilization" in human history has at some point, begin to decline and deteriorate.The story of the Roman Empire provides a particularly bracing example, that sheds much light on the dynamics of civilization that are still playing out.
There are also those that see spiritual dimensions to the rise and fall of civilizations, a perspective that is also illuminating.
And we all must realize that the stakes are higher than they have ever been, by most empirical measures. And please realize, at this point, that this is a simple "statement of fact"--which, it is hoped, along with the rest of this essay, will assist in clarifying and crystallizing our thinking and our strategies, and mobilizing our forces into purposeful action.
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Economic formulas and algorithms, whether explicitly manipulated and understood, or only implicitly at work in guiding the nature and the trajectory of economic markets, are based on dynamics of human behavior, as well as the cultural consensus on how value should be assigned and how this value should be distributed through the multiplicity of economies that have structured all human exchanges of value since the beginnings of human "history."
And the ways in which our ideas regarding value, which are articulated within and expressed through the forces of the market (under the constraining and enabling influences of government regulation) come to also be expressed in the larger culture also comes into play.
Indeed, the "original" economic structure that developed to enable trade among cultures was a free market, and we should not seek to abandon this economic structure now, especially as we are still deciding to do with the reality of a still-unfolding globalism that at this point, simply cannot be turned back.
The economic formulas and algorithms which articulate the dynamics of free markets are so powerful because they are "elegant"--they account for complexity and variation, no matter how simple they may appear to be.
They have proven to be relatively reliable, sustainable, and able to evolve as additional complexity is factored in, compared to the overly regulated state-run economies. This is when the overall "algorithm" used to understand and regulate the economy is structured correctly, and the political will to apply appropriate government regulation exists.
This is because free market equations factor in the element of choice on the part of each individual actor, and this is what modern communist economies do not account or allow for.
Any algorithm or formula that fails to factor in the expression of choice will never have enough "explanatory power" to meet the needs of the society in a sustainable way.
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Indeed, these state-controlled economies sow the seeds for their own "revolutions," many of which are occurring, overall, without the intense political violence that came to define the communist revolutions, most evidently in Russia and China.
In these relatively peaceful "revolutions" of our day--consider how the Tiananmen Square violence in China ended well, all things considered, although there are have also been less pleasing outcomes to revolution in this day--free market principles are replacing, or more often being incorporated into, state-controlled economic systems. And any serious scholar of Marx will realize that he would approve, as his vision of the progression to communism necessitated the experience of capitalism.
In Marx's view, capitalism may be a great evil—but he sees it as a necessary one, needed to get to "where we are going next." This ultimate end-goal of "communism" as Marx's defines it is only roughly sketched out
Marx's discussion of what communism actually means is more like the account of a very important dream, and nothing like his detailed "schematics" of capitalism, which Marx spent most of his prolific life understanding and explaining with greater insight and influence with any scholar in the Modern era—and with greater impact in the "real world" than perhaps any scholar in history.
So, trying to get to communism without going through the development phase of capitalism is like going in with a hatchet when the job requires a surgeon.
And Marx made his disagreement with the way his thoughts were being put into action in the world around him quite clear.
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Note that best examples of socialism as envisioned by Marx (the necessary stage of development that links capitalism to communism) in contemporary Western civilization has been most accurately manifested in the countries of Northern Europe, which have fully-developed markets that have never been disrupted by violent revolution (as they have been in the "communist" countries we know of today).
Also note the internal power struggle that occurred in the classic model for modern revolution, the Russian Revolution of 1917, between the Bolshevik and Menshevik Parties.
The Menshevick Party had the support of the majority of the people, but were a minority faction within the Communist Party. Compared to the Bolshevik's, who utimately prevailed under Lenin's leadership, the Mensheviks advocated for a more gradual transition to communism with involved working cooperatively with the burgeoise and middle classes, and also more strongly advocated for the interests of the peasants.
However, the contrasting approach of the Bolshevik's prevailed, and political and economic power came to be concentrated in the hands of elites, as powerful as the Imperial Czars and their royal courts that proceeded the "revolutionaries."
As a result of the Boshevik's dominance over the Menshevik's, a "critical mass" of power remained in the hands of the elites, who unsurprisingly set up a system that distributed political and economic power (and the resources owned and allocated by the state) primarily among the elites.
And vast numbers of people, who have lived under the Russian Revolution and are still subject to its effects, have suffered an almost intolerable amount of inhumanity. And yet, almost unimaginably, they, and other subjugated peoples, have endured.
These statements are dramatic, but any serious student of history will tell you that they are no exaggeration.
The vastness of the human suffering that was part and parcel of the Russian Revolution was then, and is now, a direct result of the failure to effectively transfer the power from the hands of the elites into a more evenly-distributed power structure after the revolution.
This dynamic has been playing out over the course of Russian and Eastern European history since the revolution (with consequences for the rest of the world), and it is still being felt today.
And I don't think what happened in Russia, and later the Soviet Union, and then Russia again, is what Marx had in mind in his conception of the evolutionary stages of human culture and all that this entails.
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In the democratic countries of today with socialist systems that allow for the functioning of a relatively free market, the government takes an active and strategic role in distributing and redistributing the resources of the society so as to best meet the needs of all its members, when taken as a whole, without seriously disruption the individual desire to achieve. In other words, so there is still an economic benefit to doing "good work" that will directly and indirectly benefit themselves and others.
This kind of "value-based incentive" helps to create healthy individuals and a healthy society, and it is important to remember that even the artists need to pay rent and eat, not to mention being able to access the "finer things in life."
And it is interesting to note that many of the "finer things in life" available in the world are often priced to be realistically out of reach for the kind of artist who would produce the object.
All too often, the artists of our culture, both those who are recoginized as "artists" and those the equally creative individuals who are not called "artists"--simply can not afford to purchase the high quality of objects or services they make available to others in their work.
And this creates a fundamental imbalance in the value a highly creative person is creating, in light of the value they are receiving from the society in return.
It is also useful to consider what intellectuals of today have to say about Marx would have to say about the contemporary world in a discussion thread started in 2018--and how the world today aligns (or not) with Marx's original conceptions.
It is also useful to review this Quora discussion thread about the ongoing significance of Marx, who, along with Darwin and Einstein, has been named as the most influential "thinker" of the modern era.
Indeed, it would ill-advised to discount Marx's significance at this critical juncture, which is all too-easy to do in light of the "empirical" evidence we have obtained from the ill-advised attempts to implement Marx's ideas since he has articulated them.
Consider that President George Bush was able to make the term "liberal" a slur in his 1988 campaign against Micheal Dukakis. So imagine what it means to be a called a "Marxist," a "socialist," or a "communist," in America today.
Interestingly, this incident had a mobilizing effect on the liberals, as seen in the resulting increase in ACLU membership after Bush's attack on Dukakis as a "card-carrying member" of the organization.
Also, please note that in the Northern European countries--which most closely resemble Marx's conception of what socialism should look like--they understand that the government is always making a "choice," and indirectly "intervening" in the healthy evolution of society, even (and often especially) when they choose to do nothing in the face other and better options that would require making hard decisions and taking unpleasant and unpopular actions.
In a democracy, the decision-makers will be held to account for their choices in the short term, as well as the long--which can create real problems come election time, if the electorate is not taking the long-view, or simply does not clearly understand the larger context for the decision.
But unlike these free market-based economies, with democratic political structures, the overall algorithm of the state-run economy associated with modern communist political systems, does not factor "choice" into human behavior. And this algorithm is "imposed from above," and tightly managed.
Because this kind of algorithm does not evolve more organically—as a natural progression that must include a capitalist phase—it cannot account for the complexity that must be developed within an economy over time and factored in for an economic structure to be sustainable in the long term.
This is why all modern communist systems developed in the name of Marx—none of which align with his notion of what communism is or should be or how to get there—are doomed to fail if they do not adjust, as their algorithm is simply not sustainable.
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But unlike modern attempts at communist economies, primitive communist economies developed organically among indigenous peoples around the world.
It is notable that later in life, Marx turned his attention to understanding the anthropology of his day, perhaps to assist him in understanding what this phase of communism would look like in more detail.
And it is also worth noting that the seeds for the democratic theory articulated by America's founding fathers can also be found among the People of the Six Nations (named the Iroquois Confederacy by the French), who Marx looked at closely in his anthropological studies, and who appear to have influenced his conception of communism.
But modern communist economies, the ones that have been installed in Marx's "name," (whether explicitly called "Marxist" or not) have not emerged organically.
Instead, these economies came about as the end result of a violent revolution—which inherently entails the "throwing of the baby out with the bathwater," and the economies these fledgling states established also operate with inherently coersive force, as they do not allow or account for the meaningful exercise of freedom of choice on the part of individual actors.
As a result, all communist economies that justify their structures based on the ideas of Marx are too structured and rigid, and do not allow for a meaningful "pursuit of happiness" on the part of individual actors and interests, or the evolution of the communal effort and group conscious that Marx's roughly sketched algorithm for communism would require.
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But too much freedom is not sustainable, either, as anthropologist Dorothy Lee clearly understands, and both structure and freedom must be present in appropriate measure for a economy to be functional in the long term—and providing a set of balanced equations that are specifically calibrated to best suit each culture (or set of cultures).
It is significant that in many "primitive" economies, one becomes rich and powerful within the culture not by "hording'," but rather by sharing. An individual in these cultures are motivated to work harder than others in order to accumulate surplus—not for their own enjoyment or for that of their "nuclear family"—but rather because that is the path to leadership and the way to obtain value within their culture.
In these primitive economies, surplus value is accumulated by these leaders and their family members, and then shared among other group members to meet daily needs, during crisis, and/or during ritualized events. This gives these "distributors of surplus value" authority to assume a leadership role in the affairs of the larger community. In this way, the leaders earn their authority—primarily through their routine and "special occasion" actions, and less so with their words.
This dynamic is also seen in the philanthropic efforts of major capitalists, historically and to this day, who like the leaders in these primitive economic structures, leave their personal imprint on a culture in terms of how the surplus value they create is distributed in order to meet communal interests that are not accounted for directly free market dynamics—and to establish they authority they need to assume a leadership position within the culture with a minimal amount of "friction."
It is also significant that the economic equations in economies that are intertwined with this kind of political structure do not rely on the principles of scarcity in order to work. So perhaps a return to this kind of structure, while allowing for the free exercise of market forces, should be our ultimate destination, if we are ever to be done with capitalism, or if it will finally run itself out or collapse under the weight of its own contradictions.
And it is the role of government to account for all this, in their economic equations that will ultimately determine how value is created and distributed throughout a society.
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Also consider the "freedom" of a person to manifest their humanity through their creative acts and works, which requires structure to manifest and can be seriously inhibited by an indiscriminate exercise of other, less mission-critical freedoms.
Just ask Professor Robert Storr of Yale University. He has intimate acquaintance with such issues, as made manifest in both his professional and life trajectories, which apparently collided on a fateful late summer night in 1990. At least I'd like to think so, based on the images and information provided in the above link.
So, please realize that reason and logic provide structure and are necessary for the construction of meaning and for the assertion of purposeful effort. Without them, our experiences would appear as be a bombardment of seemingly random sensory inputs and we would be unable to set and achieve goals, which is necessary to manifest meaningful results from our creative efforts.
For example, you cannot perceive the existence of a chair without having a preconceived notion of what a chair is. Without that structured notion of what a chair is, the chair itself does not exist to you as an observer of the "chair."
In this way, the tools of reason and logic make it possible for us to perceive reality and perceive relationships. This is what makes it possible to understand "What a chair is."
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Indeed, the body of theory and research in physics, in particular string theory, is increasingly pointing the fact that frequencies of vibration and the relationships among them are the "building blocks" of matter, and not matter itself.
And the implications of entanglement are hard to ignore, as they suggest matter can be linked in time, across space, in a way that is not subject to the law of the speed of light, as this communication appears to occur outside of the world of matter.
It is also of interest that in the experiment that is commonly used to demonstrate the entanglement paradox, if something is done to alter the spin of one electron that has in the past been "entangled" with another electron in a particle (i.e. in an "intimate" relationship with each other, in the context of a larger "organism"--in which each electron was a part of something that was "greater than the sum of the whole of its parts")--then the other electron's spin will be affected equally, but in an opposite direction.
So perhaps it is that these electrons, having been in the relationship of entanglement at some point in time, become "mirror images" of each other in the realm of matter once they are separated and begin to occupy different "points" in space, although they are still linked--indeed, in lock-step, in terms of time.
In other words, once "joined" in an "intimate" relationship, the electrons are forever "joined," regardless of their location in space--and in a way that directly affects their "behavior" in the world of matter.
The connection between the once-entangled-in-a-particle electrons appears to exist beyond matter, and exist somewhere in the realm of "energy." And for some time now, we have been focusing perhaps too much attention on the "matter" end of Einstein's equation, and the realm of our five well-understood empirical senses.
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In the world of anthropological theory that, as physicists seeks to explain the "laws" that govern matter, seeks to understand the laws that govern humanity, specifically human culture, have something important to say here as well.
In a not yet well-enough known essay, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro asserts that you can only understand one ting by having something else to compare it to and potentially contrast it with. This makes it possible to account for "competing" versions of reality in our formulations in the social sciences, and further suggests that nothing can be known in isolation.
Anthropologist Eric Wolf also points to the interconnectedness of all things in his book, "Europe and the People without History," a title which was initially intended as ironic. He asserts that it is simply impossible to understand culture (or anything really) in "isolation" from its larger context--in terms of its relationships to all other things that influence, or are influenced by, it.
Wolf articulates this central assertion as follows:
The central assertion of this book is that the world of humankind constitutes a manifold, a totality of interconnected processes, and inquiries that disassemble this totality into bits and then fail to reassemble it falsify reality. Concepts like “nation,” “society,” and “culture” name bits and threaten to turn names into things. Only by understanding these names as bundles of relationships, and by placing them back into the field from which they were abstracted, can we hope to avoid misleading inferences and increase our share of understanding (1982).
And another quote from Wolf's book is also illuminating in the larger context of this discussion about physics:
By turning names into things we create false models of reality. By endowing nations, societies or cultures, with the qualities of internally homogeneous and externally distinctive bounded objects, we create a model of the world as a global pool hall in which the entities spin off each other line so many hard and round billiard balls.
Note that the "inadequate" description of reality offered when "objects" are emphasized over relationships in terms of establishing identity, effectively resembles our conception of both atoms and planets when we insist upon understanding them only as "objects" that exist only in the world of matter that as we now know it to "exist," instead of understand them as a set of relationships.
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Indeed, there are indigenous languages in which identity is placed primarily in relationships and not in objects, and this is reflected in the codes of their language.
In this kind of language, there would be a separate name for me, who you know as Kimberly, depending upon who or who I am relationship to at that specific point in time and space. So there might be a word for "Kimberly learning from her teacher," or "Kimberly walking her dog," or "Kimberly reading a book."
It is also worth noting that in Fyodor Dostoevsky's novels, when translated into English in way that is "true" to the original Russian language they were written, are notoriously confusing for English-speaking persons to read.
This is because in the author's native Russian language and culture, there are so many different names for the same person, depending on what their "role" is in the moment, in terms of who they are in relationship to. And Dostoevsky's overall approach to the language plays on these non-binary, multi-dimensional layers of meaning that can be encompassed in the symbol of a "name."
This dynamic is less present in the English language, which is more clearly "binary" ("either/or but not both") in it's logic structure than other languages, even in Romance languages that also have a strong voice in European culture.
The "names" used in English language, which has come to dominate Western (which is increasingly global) civilization, does not make much allowance for context, and so words come to "mean less," as they are stripped of the relationships that can enrich direct meaning with the benefit of implication.
As the mother in Martin Scorcese's film, Goodfellas (who is played by Martin Scorcese's own mother), notes (after a late-night dinner held for her hungry mob son and his"crew after they have buried a body, "It sounds much nicer in Italian."
So this all suggests a way of thinking in which your name (and the names of other matter-based phenomena), and therefore your identity, can be dependent on your"role" and the influence of your environment, which can change over time and space. At the same time, you still retain an essential "integrity" in terms of your overall person, and the implications for your identity which this entails.
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The fundamental interconnected of all things--regardless of whether they are manifested as energy or matter--lays at the heart of two well-known paradoxes, one grounded in buddhism--and please also see this buddhism link--along with one that is grounded in science: (1) What is the sound of one hand clapping? and (2) If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?
I would propose that an answer to both of these paradoxes is "nothing"--at least nothing in the realm of matter.
Recall the central role of the "observer" in "activating" matter into existence in any given point in time and space. If there is no observer, "nothing" happens.
Also note that without resistance from an outside force--the tree "hitting" the ground, or one hand clapping against another--"nothing" happens.
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And this is what "existed" before the Big Bang--before time and space--"nothing" but pure enegery (as all that matter had to come from "somewhere"), yet unexpressed in matter.
And the reason the Big Bang "happened" is so that what we know as "God" could experience itself through the realm of matter.
I am referring to "God" as the sum of all energy and matter--that which is greater than the sum of the whole of its parts (which is the fundamental concept behind what makes something "alive," or worthy of an individual identity as an "object," i.e. an "atom").
This all suggest that the "entity" we call "God" is in each and every one of us, as claimed by spiritual traditions across the planet, and yet somehow also outside of us, as its own "entity" and "consciousness"--a consciousness that is only within our grasp when we are able to most fully suppress our individual egos (which it must be remembered are not simply "disposable," as a healthy ego is necessary in order to effectively function in the "real world").
At the moment of the Big Bang, what we call "God" in the culture of Western Civilization, entered into the fractal environment of matter, which like an actual hologram, is a fractal-based environment which enables the creation of other fractals.
So, "God" created the universe that we know, to have the experience of separation and resistance that is the foundation of all matter, but are not inherent to the experience of pure energy that exists in the form of light.
In this sense, we are all here for one, common purpose: to "gather data" for "God," through our mental, emotional, spiritual, and sensory experiences--which are all interconnected within each and every "person."
This is also why it is unwise to reckless intervene in another person's "process," especially a creative one, as you can unknowingly direct them off a necessary path that would have given them whatever experiences in the world that they "need"--which is different than "want"--to have. And that you need to do this even, as especially when, you think you know better than that person what is in their "best interests."
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I will attempt to crystallize these thoughts by explaining why I think, as a general rule, you should let a dog sniff something of interest until they are finished when you are taking the dog for a walk.
For one thing, [dogs] possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in us. And the part of a dog's brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is, proportionally speaking, 40 times greater than ours. Dogs' noses also function quite differently than our own.
So as a human, we can only begin to imagine what a dog is "experiencing" when they are vigorously sniffing a compost heap, or taking the time to linger on an apparently more subtle smell on the grass. Not to mention what they are thinking about as they are doing it.
Also consider that it is often the case that what smells good to a human smells bad to a dog (and dog foods are designed to balance the needs of both "customers"), so what we think is an "unpleasant" odor may bring great pleasure to a dog.
Most long-term dog "owners" know this through experience--which most typically ends with a dog getting an unwanted bath.
So in "gathering data" through their noses, for their own "reasons," and taking the time they need to gather the sufficient amount of data needed to "complete their thoughts," dogs are fulfilling their sacred purpose here on earth, which is the purpose of all beings--and that is to "gather data for God."
This also makes for a happier, and an emotionally and mentally healthier dog, as they now have new "data" to filter through their "thoughts" when they are unoccupied when awake, or when they are asleep in their dreams. And it is documented by sciences that dogs do dream as they sleep.
Finally, please consider that in the terms of contemporary physics, each and every "observer" that is gathering "data' through experience in the realm of matter is bringing "God" to "life" here on earth, with each and every observation they make, every thought they generation, and every possibility and world they imagine.
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This is also reflected in the holographic theory of the universe, as explained in a 2017 research paper from the University of Southampton.
Professor Kostas Skenderis of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Southampton explains in this paper:
Imagine that everything you see, feel and hear in three dimensions (and your perception of time) in fact emanates from a flat two-dimensional field. The idea is similar to that of ordinary holograms where a three-dimensional image is encoded in a two-dimensional surface, such as in the hologram on a credit card. However, this time, the entire universe is encoded!
So our three-dimensional perception of all matter is essentially the result of "fractal" patterns playing out amidst what we currently understand as "choas," like images being projected on a two-dimensional screen.
And this process of "projection" into the world of matter is apparently is "triggered" at the moment of internal or external "observation."
Then factor in the number of potential "observers" and potential "observations" over time and space, and you begin to sense the simplicity as well as the complexity of this arrangement, and the way an allowance for multiple experiences of the same reality, a fundamental concept in postmodern thought, is already "built into the system."
It should be noted that unlike the other theories in physics discussed in this essay, the fractal theory of the universe, in which the "fabric" of reality is also comprised of fractals is only held by a minority of physicists. Current research has lead the majority of scientists reject this explanation in favor of a conception of a "smooth" background for the universe, which I imagine would function much like a multi-dimensional "projection screen" in which matter, on a particle level, is "activated" into "existence" on the "screen" by the "light" of the attention of each and every observer involved in the process.
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So I would suggest another fundamental aspect of the nature of what we call "God," all all that which falls outside the realm of "science" but yet has practical value and application in helping us to understand and negotiate the world around us.
And this is by acting as an "observer" to all of God's works, and by learning to "train your attention" along with your senses to see and hear--to perceive--as clearly as possible what is actually going on--that is, the sacredness that is inherent in all things--and to internalize and "receive" it, you are in effect bringing "God" to "life" in the realm of matter, via your internal and external perceptions.
Consider that the goal of many Christians to "pray incessantly" (to pray without ceasing), so that prayer becomes an ever-present thread in each and every thought you think and thing that you do--whether you are consciously praying or not.
If you are doing this, your mind, body, and spirit are fully integrated, and equally nourished. This is how many of the the "primitives pray", and this also occurs in any culture where the routine activities associated with daily life are infused with spiritual significance (and it is often the women who the caretakers of these "rituals" in cultures where formal religious authority excludes the meaningful participation of women in the "formal" realm of the spiritual affairs of the community.
"Incessant prayer" can be accomplished through the repeated application of rituals and symbols that have the effect of binding the sacred to the profane, and also by the articulation of a worldview in which everything is inherently infused with spirit (quote about Eurpeans vs. Indian--soul vs body from tipiti)
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Consider the well known law that underlays all physics in this context--that nothing (in the realm of matter) can move faster than the speed of light.
Only light--which is pure energy--can move through the realm of matter without encountering resistance, which is captured in the central and related concepts of inertia and gravity. And remember that gravity is one of the four main "forces" in physics, discovered by Issac Newton, which has yet to be adequately explained and while factored into classic equations that explain the fundamental behavior of matter, gravity still remains a "mystery" in the realm of science.
And we must bear in mind the implications of what we know now about dark energy and dark matter, which we realize "occupy" 68% and 27% of space respectively--and of which we know very little.
We are unable to observe either dark energy or dark matter directly (or what goes on in the inside of black holes), using our empirical senses--which are the basis of all "truth" as established in the realm of science--even when enhanced by our considerable technologies in this day and age.
Therefore, scientists can only "study" black energy and matter indirectly and "guess" at the reasons for their perceived effects.
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But I suspect the indigenous peoples, and others who understand what they have always known, have always taken these "factors" into account in the equations and algorithms they use to understand, and affect, reality. both in terms of energy and matters.
All these things that the science created by civilization has not yet been able to explain, but which it is now starting to--the paradoxes of the ages and the outliers and residuals of our statistical equations (which inform virtually very academic discipline in some fashion at this point)--have always been taken into account by indigenous peoples around the world.
And these things are already factored into all their "codes," "equations," and "algorithms" that they use to position themselves in this world, and to assist them in negotiating it.
But it must be remember that these systems of meaning are all culturally specific, and what works well in one culture may not work well from another. This is why "new agers" and other cultural curators in this age of globalism must be careful as they pick and choose from the products of various world traditions and culture: They may not fully understand the patterns and powers they are evoking in crafting their "theories" and through their "practices."
And it is of paramount that every cultural "exchange" must be approached with an attitude of implicit and explicit respect, in order to "do no harm" in the process, something that Western Civilization is finally starting to get a feel for, and only after a long history of seriously bungling its approach.
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Also consider that a particle cannot be observed in terms of both its location and velocity at the same time. These characteristics can only be perceived and measured one-at-time, but it is not possible to establish both the trajectory and location of a particle at a single point in time.
Overall, contemporary physicists are increasingly able to demonstrate that matter requires external observation to even come into being. This is suggested by the fact that a particle appears to be both a wave and a particle, until isolated from its "group" and observed in a laboratory experiment, and through the act of observation, "becomes" a particle.
This has been empirically proven in the famous double slit-box experiment, which means the effect is observable with your own eyes (with the assistance of technology that expands the reach of our "natural" sense of sight, of course).
In this famous experiment, a light particle behaves as a wave until it is isolated and observed. At the point of observation, the particle acts as though it is at two places at once, and behaves only in its identity as a particle while ceasing to act as a wave.
This all suggests that a light particle does not "act" as a particle at all, unless there is an observer present to isolate the particle from its larger identity and observe it as an individual in a single place in space and time. And that the act of observation fundamentally alters the particle's identity and behavior.
The Schrödinger's cat paradox, in which the cat is simultaneously alive and dead until it is observed, also suggests the significance of the "empirical observer."
And in light of all that, consider the following. Say what you will about the Freemasons, but the book that serves as the foundation of all Freemasonry begins with the sentence: "Through names and images are all powers awakened and reawakened."
And the Freemasons are right about this. The culturally based "fractals"contained in names and images, and in all symbol-based communication, establish patterns of vibrational frequencies and the relationships among them that ultimately determine how the universe does or does not manifest into matter.
Finally, consider David's French 1960 review of Dorothy Lee's Freedom and Culture essays in this context. He states:
Dr. Lee regards differing cultures as differing codifications of reality: "...culture is a symbolic system which transforms the physical reality, what is there, into experienced reality. It follows from this assumption that the universe as I know it or imagine it in the Western world is different from the universe of the Tikopia, in Polynesia. It follows, also, that I feel differently about what I see.”
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By naming or viewing a symbol and by "imagining" the symbol within their mind, an observer "brings it to life" in the world of matter.
This happens when an observer focuses their attention on a symbol in the world of ideas, and "names" and "imagines" the symbol (which manifests the idea in a single point in time and space in the material world).
This process of "naming" the symbol manifests the fractal pattern of the idea in physical form throughout the material world—and potentially in more than a single point in time and space.
The concepts of coherence and cohesion are illuminating in suggesting the factors that contribute to how powerful the force behind the manifestation of the "fractal"-based pattern of the symbol is and what that pattern is.
These factors help determine the integrity of the "fractal" and the extent to which a given fractal pattern (which defines specific "frequencies"of vibration and the relationships that exist among them) can be replicated and sustained in the material world, both in terms of the present, but also potentially in terms of the past and future.
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In other words, culturally-grounded symbols like names and images, are the "fractal" patterns that give material form to the energy in Einstein's famous equation, E=mc2—the formula for converting energy into matter—the most elegant and encompassing scientific equation ever expressed.
This means that the symbolic deployments and expressions that all together create the "codes" of our culture are manifesting and bringing the "reality" we all experience to life.
And in the various academic disciplines, visual, audio, numeric, and linguistic symbols, which serve the function of fractals in the realm of ideas and the imagination ("Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow" according to William Blake).
These symbols are employed as the basis for codes that all together "create" our experience and understanding of reality. And these codes, when combined, create specific equations that allow for variable inputs, which all together create the larger algorithm that governs the universe.
These specialized symbols come to be routinely deployed throughout a culture, and are like fractals that in effect provide "master patterns" the affect the form of all material existence.
So a fractal pattern is "set into motion" by strategic deployment of symbols in time and space. This determines how energy will manifest into matter in each and every moment, with implications for all of time and space. And this is the realm of culture.
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Apparently, it is where you attention goes that determines what kind of reality you will manifest. I have said for a long time that if you go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you will have exactly the kind of Mardi Gras you want to have—whether you know that you want it or not.
In other words, what you put into Mardi Gras is what you get out of it, within the constraints and opportunities available to you given your specific time and place. The same applies to all experience, although typically in less dramatic fashion.
And as the Devaru of India note in their worldview...of course the trees and rocks can talk to you (and they are not speaking metaphorically when they say this), but you have to train your attention in order to hear them—in order to be able to receive and make any sense of such communications. And it takes continued effort and attention over time to develop this "sensory" capacity for perception.
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It is also significant to note that time is a function of space, and simply could not exist without it. Before the Big Bang—before the beginning of time as we know it—all of what is now space fit on the top of the head of a pin.
Time was created as matter expanded across space, and the images we now have of the known universe, when taken as a whole, show a "photographic" history of the massive amount of "pre-matter" energy released during the Big Bang, that has been and is still spreading out in material form throughout space and over time.
At this point in time, our scientists have constructed images of the universe to its furthest known extent. This has allowed them to create a "photograph" of the universe's expansion from the beginning of the Big Bang until now.
This image of the universe goes all the way back to the initial moment of the Big Bang (which is the "end" of the universe in space), in which what was pure energy manifested into the material world as we know it, and as it is now playing over time and throughout space—as least as we now know time and space to be.
It is a well-known fact that the universe is currently expanding. What is up for debate is if it will continue to do so infinitely. If it does not, the universe as we know it will reverse course and begin to contract, or either explode or collapse in on itself.
And it appears to be up to us—individually and collectively, through how we live our lives as well as how we formulate and express our culture—which of these scenarios will play out in our future.
Then consider that research has proven that once a particle has been joined, even if its "parts" are separated over space, what you do to one part of that particle will affect the other part in that specific moment in time that the "intervention" occurs.
And contemporary research in physics is pointing to what I believe to be a soon-to-be-firmly-established fact—that the future affects the present.
This is possible because time outside our linear experience is being shown to move in both directions, which suggests that all of time exists "at once," in way that is beyond our ability to experience it through the "filters" of our five agreed-upon empirical senses, which are the foundation for all science, and from which all scientific observations are obtained.
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This ability to access any point in time and space from any place in the present is often seen in the worldviews of many indigenous cultures—those people who have not yet been "civilized," who would fall under the category of "primitive."
Indeed, this ability is the basis of all shamanistic practice. and the principles of shamanism underlies every spiritual tradition found on every continent around the world.
And much of contemporary New Age thinking draws from "ancient" cultures, and often synthesizes "ancient" belief systems across cultures. These belief systems paint a picture of reality that allows for this range of influence on the material world for an "observer" materially situated in a single point in both time and space.
Indeed, time and space appear to exist "all at once," much as it did before the Big Bang when there was no material dimension to it. But please realize that this universe is not a static manifestation of matter as some might perceive.
Indeed, the universe is constantly shifting and forming in response to what is happening in any given point in time and in space—and from the multiple perspectives of any available observers simultaneously.
And this all suggests that not only can what you do in the present affect the future--but it can affect and alter the past as well, although you would not get to "experience" it in your linear experience of time.
I do realize this flies in the face of our linear experience of time and much of what is considered to be "common sense" in the still-pretty-dominant overall Western culture.
But these concepts should be easy to digest for all students of "magic" as it is allowed to exist today. This includes those who rigorously practice the arts, athletics, spiritually, or any kind of rigorous work that assists the individual in better understanding the multiple and complex aspects of our reality, and which inherently requires a deep level of focus, especially when the individual in prolific in their "work" and sustains this effort over time. And this certainly applies to the physicists.
Indeed, all human labor is at its essence a spiritual pursuit, whether the people doing the labor know this or not.
Recall that the Greek concept of the original Olympic games (as well as the traditional approach to exercise still kept alive in Native American culture) in which mind, body, and spirit were "exercised" in equal measure.
Indeed, the idea of mortifying the flesh to uplift the spirit—the idea behind the practice of flagellation common among European Catholics throughout the middle ages—would have been mortifying to their ancestors, the ancient Greeks.
I suppose the Greeks assessed reality and assumed that suffering was already "built in" to the equation (i.e. the myth of Sysiphus-refer to Camus essay), and saw no need to pursue it directly.
Certainly the Buddhists are trying to move us all in the other direction vis a vis the issue of suffering. It appears we have suffered enough for now—at least on this level.
And the less resistance we give to the suffering that cannot be avoided, the less painful our overall suffering will be.
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Consider why a drunk driver will survive a crash in which all members of the other car are killed. The sober people see it coming, and the drunk driver does not.
So, the sober people tense up to prepare for the crash, and their bodies are shattered as a result. They drunk driver survives because they did not see it coming, and were not able to prepare for the inevitable impact.
As academics and intellectuals, we cannot afford to intoxicate ourselves at this critical juncture in the path of civilization, and to embrace the cold comforts of our ignorance and sloppiness.
While forgivable, this retreat from our responsibilities as the curators of our culture is no longer tolerable, and we must change it.
We cannot afford act as drunk drivers during this transition, potentially obliterating all apparent objects that intersect with our paths, but secure enough in our own illusions to survive.
As the leaders of the ideational ship of the culture of our world (with its recently understood implications for material existence), we must now sober up.
But in the spirit of the dialectic—that invaluable thought "fractal" launched by Hegel, turned on its head by Marx, and put into practice throughout this essay and the afterpostmodern.org site that houses it—we must also realize that in order for us to fill this role, we must fully embrace the concept of play in all of our creative efforts and our "work."
We will achieve a better result by approaching this necessary labor in a playful manner, and this helps to ensure that more people will come along for the ride as willing, as opposed to "kidnapped," passengers.
So, let us avoid having to coerce our passengers in the name of their "best interests" if we can—as that would run counter to the spirit of this movement, and is likely to slow things down at best.
Instead, let's try to keep this "work" as light as we are realistically able to, as there is a great deal of darkness that much be faced in the process that is already well underway.
This kind of cultural leadership from the astute observers that create are our culture and by extension our experience of reality—whether they know it or not—will enable us all to survive this transition by either avoiding, or if that is simply impossible, embracing the inevitable crash that is coming if we cannot do this right.
Most importantly, this necessary leadership will also help ensure that minimal resistance is given to the generals and soldiers that must all work together in the revolution in our thinking that is now underway in the academic disciplines and beyond.
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To return to the subject of the essential spiritually contained in all labor, let us consider that in any discipline, practice, professional or trade that allows a person to effectively manifest their full human potential, people will "work" beyond all reasonable limits in order to more fully exercise their creative powers—in order to be more fully human.
NOTE: This is another idea that comes from the anthropologist Dorothy Lee.
And if you are doing this, you will cease to experience your "labor" as "work," and your daily life will be routinely infused with the spiritual aspects of human experience—which is the reality of individuals in most, if not all, indigenous cultures.
This is because the members of these cultures have yet to separate out work, play, and religion in their daily lives. For this reason, the "profane" world is routinely infused with spiritual significance for the individuals within the culture.
And this is reflected in the language of these peoples, in which there is no word for these "civilized" concepts, or concept of the world in which what we call work and play, the profane and the sacred, are not intertwined.
This is also the reason the Native Americans "sold" their lands to the incoming Europeans, usually at a pittance--because they simply had no language that would allow them to conceive of a universe in which they would never again set foot upon their ancestral lands.
So, the anthropologists, along with astute observers in the other disciplines, are increasingly pointing to the "magical" nature of the mundane world.
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But please understand that it is the physicists who are taking the lead in saying these things—and they are the ones who discover and explain to the rest of us the laws that govern all matter, from the (most perceivable) micro all the way to the (most perceivable) macro worlds.
Key individuals, especially in the sciences and the arts (which as William Blake points out, are the foundation of empire and not the other way around)—and the ways of thinking and perceiving that they are developing—are increasingly joining in this symphonic chorus that is expanding the "explanatory power" of our cultural equation.
"Explanatory power" is a term taken from statistics, and it is worth noting that statistics, with all it's "real world" uses, is essentially a practical application of chaos theory.
Overall, the contemporary body of theory and research in physics suggests that the universe is coming into material existence as we are able to observe and conceptualize more of it, and as we begin to more directly perceive additional dimensions of experience.
Also, consider that its simplest terms, "dimension" is defined as the minimum number of measurements required to specify the position of an object, such as latitude, longitude and altitude. Implicit in this definition is that space is smooth and obeys the laws of classical physics.
This definition suggests that in order to perceive new "dimensions" of reality using the tools of contemporary science, we must either develop new tools that will allow us to "measure" energy and/or matter more precisely--so we can gather new data to run through our current models of understanding--or expand the range of measurements that can be useful in interpreting the information we gather empirically, using our senses.
Another option in perceiving new dimensions of reality is if human evolution accommodates the development of a sixth commonly shared sense, that allows for a new range of empirical observations--either through advancements in the design and capacity of the human body (our hardware) or the design and capacity of the human mind (our software).
Indeed, humanity is ripe for a full systems upgrade, and there are ways of thinking that point in this direction as well.
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Also consider the implications of the currents findings from the study of epigenetics, which can be summarized as follows: Yes, blood matters, but culture matters more.
Not only does culture directly affect human development (as in the nature vs, nurture debate), but culture affects the expression of your genes.
It has been well proven at this point that cultural influences can determine whether a gene is activated (as in a tendency toward developing schizophrenia, which can be triggered by a series of traumatic events in a young person's environment), or whether a gene is suppressed (as in the capacity to grow to a certain height, which can be inhibited if sufficient nutrition is not available in a person's developmental years).
Also consider how the introduction of a toxin like lead, which inhibits the intellectual development of young children, can influence the physical development of a human--and it is cultural factors that determine how much lead a child will be exposed to and ingest, or the the child will consume enough iron in their diet, which buffers the absorption of lead into human tissues.
In America, where you live (central city or surburb) has everything to do with the likelihood that the development of your mental capacity will be undermined by the presence of lead paint from old housing, or the presence of lead contaminated soil in an old industrial area, or if you will access to affordable, fresh healthy food. Your culture also influences how likely you are to choose those food options if they are available.
And all these factors may very well have a lot to do with your race--an issue whose terrain is negotiated through cultural processes, before they are written into legislation or enforced as law. Even our economic structures are directly influenced by the values that are constructed within our cultural constructs and reflected in our cultural expressions, i.e. the American right to be "free" to "pursue our happiness."
So even here, outside of the expression of our genes, we can see the overwhelming influence of culture on our material world. Indeed, the influences of culture can be seen in the literal fibers of our beings.
Another approach to increasing the realm of our knowledge would be to change the "equations" we use to analyze and reorder the data we already have to work with. And this all is within the realm of science. Information gathered using other means is the realm of the arts and the humanities.
But science is within the realm of human culture, and the implications of these findings in science are impacting all other expression of culture—especially in the arena of the arts. And the artists, as always, are powerful actors in the development and deployment of cultural symbols in all other "theaters" of life.
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In the words of the playful-and-whip-smart-NYC-former-juvenile-delinquents whose music came to be heavily influenced by buddhist thought--the Beastie Boys--our larger civilization in a phase where we are "pulling out knots, and pulling in residuals," culturally speaking.
The result is to increase the explanatory power of our overall cultural equation--to again put this in terms of the research methods of statistics, which is what "pulling in residuals" directly refers to.
It is noteworthy that within the realm of theory coming to dominate the academic study of statistics, the notion of "truth" as being only observable indirectly is being emphasized.
Consider that what is being "tested" in the research method at the foundation that underlines so much of statistics--null hypothesis significance testing--is whether the hypothesis about reality that you are proposing is "unfalseable," i.e. that you cannot prove that it is not true. And even this can only be determined within a certain level of probability.
And those at the forefront of statistical theory are increasingly emphasizing that even qualitative researchers must use their "judgement" to arrive at accurate statements about reality, as blindly applying the "standards of statistical significance" can lead one to erroneously conclude that the data sample analyzed is representative of the larger group, which is the object of study in the research.
Overall, the lines between qualitative and quantitative research are blurring in meaningful ways, and we can no longer escape the fact that every act of research, even in the "hard" sciences, involves the application of judgement on the part of the researcher.
In other words, even our most "empirical observations" that are systematically gathered and understood using quantitave research methods --a process that most often employs the use of statistics.
Indeed, statistical analysis underlies a great deal the knowledge gained in the "hard" and "soft" sciences--and it turns even this is subject to "interpretation"--at least it must be if we hope to arrive at an accurate (and useful) understanding of reality.
Consider that the application of the concept of fractals developed into physics has been applied in the fractal analysis of markets hypothesis, which makes it possible to account for the randomness and turbulence inherent to markets, so as to numerically account for the influence of uncertainty and the elements of crisis woven into capitalism. Consider this explanation from Investopedia.com:
Falling into the framework of chaos theory, [the Fractal Markets Hypothesis] explains the behavior of markets using the concept of fractals. Fractals are fragmented geometric shapes that can be broken down into parts which replicate the shape of the whole. With respect to markets, one can see that stock prices move in fractals. Due to this characteristic, technical analysis is possible: in the same way that the patterns of fractals repeat themselves along all time frames, stock prices also appear to move in replicating geometric patterns through time.
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All these concepts are extremely important in our effort to better understand "reality," which is why they are at the forefront of theory and research across the academic disciplines.
This notion of "truth" as being only obtainable through indirect observation, and as something that needs to factor in uncertainty. The understanding of the implication of the implications of these research methods used in statistics is becoming more clearly articulated in a field of study that has powerful "real world applications.
This is much like quantum computing has been empowered by the seemingly estoteric knowledge obtained from quantum theory, and the capacity of our"real world" technologies have been dramatically expanded as a result.
And our emergent understanding of fractals has enabled the realistic computer generation of the patterns found in nature--such as what you see as snow covering a mountain, leaves as they are distributed on a tree, or hair as it falls on a person's head. The application of fractals to computer graphics has made possible the hyper-realistic computer animation and the special effects that dominate the big screens of this day.
So it can be said that the practical application of the "idea" of fractals (that was devloped within the realm of human culture), has brought computer imagery to "life."
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And these kinds of shifts in our understanding are now occurring within virtually every academic discipline.
In Western Civilization, there has been a movement from all academic discplines combined in ancient cultue, to sorting-out our and specialization over time among the disciplines, epecially in the ?1800s?, to the hyper-specialization within the disciplines we see today. (explain this further)
This is incredibly useful, but makes it difficult to communicate effectively and efficiently, and with minimal tension, across disciplines. And this inhibits the free-flow of ideas.
At this juncture, we need to find a common language to define what is happening across the discipline as soon as we can, as there is much that the disciplines and fields need to learn from each other.
Until we can do this, our vigorous efforts to create and grow cross-disciplinary fields of study, while fruitful, can only go so far, so fast. And it cannot be emphasized enough how pressed we are for time right now.
Indeed, to advance, to meaningfully enlarge "the explanatory power" of our cultural "equations," and the overall algorithm of our reality as it feeds into and is influenced by our culture, we must take all this complexity and make things real simple, real fast. And then we can start making it complicated again--more complicated than ever--over time, as this is the path by which civilization evolves and advances--in cyclical process driven by the force of internal contractions playing out, and hopefully being resolved, over time.
Also bear in mind that all the wisdom contained in the body of theory of research that comes to dominate each discipline should always be understood as "contested knowledge."
Thomas Kuhn points to this process in science, where major thinkers have always vied for dominance in a highly competitive and conflict-laden process—and there is always fundamental disagreement about what the existing paradigm is, what the next new paradigm should be, or if a new paradigm is even required. In Kuhn's words, the installation of a new-way-of-thinking in science requires a "revolution."
The "revolution" that is underway in science and in all contemporary academic disciplines is the result of hard work by astute observers from multiple disciplines from all around the world.
More than ever before in our experience of linear time, thoughtful observers are able to efficiently and effectively communicate and coordinate their efforts across time and space, with minimal tension—and so easily draw upon the work of others who have tried to do the same, going back to the beginnings of human "history."
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The significance of reason and logic in enabling our perception of meaning, and even matter itself, is also seen in the implications of chaos theory.
make note here: especially at the particle level—and particles and their component parts are the most fundamental "building blocks" of our material reality that we are scientifically aware of
Chaos theory suggests another way of thinking in physics—like much of quantum physics—that on the surface makes no "sense," but has had incredibly useful "real world" applications. Chaos theory is the study of phenomena which appear random, but in fact have an element of regularity which can be defined mathematically.
This returns us back directly to the topic of the postmodern, and suggests that even the most arcane stream-of-consciousness postmodern ramblings can be deciphered with an attentive ear and eye.
And many postmodern acolytes have been doing just that throughout the latter half of the 20th century—perhaps in lieu of interpreting the more-traditional sacred texts of our elders and ancestors, or to go even further back, the still-warm entrails of a freshly slaughtered sacrifice.
Indeed, even the postmodernists deconstruct logically, and their "illogical" creative outputs can be explained reasonably—as can the behavior of most people, if not everyone, when considered with enough care and insight.
As Etheline Tenebaum, played by Angela Huston in Wes Anderson's (American Empirical Pictures) film, calmly observes this about her son's odd behavior in the midst of his nervous breakdown following his wife's tragic death: "He has his reasons."
And so the lack of the kind of caring detachment and insight that underlines Etheline's reply—coupled with the lack of reasonable standards of logic (or even a desire to be reasonable)—provides the necessary vacuum in which the purest forms of narcissism can burst into being.
And these storm clouds of narcissism that already envelop us, hanging heavily with the potential of our impending doom, need little fortification at this late date.
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Nicole Miller, a student in a graduate seminar observed about postmodernism: You can deconstruct modernism all you want, but unless you offer people something positive (and constructive) to do in its place—it will not go very far with people, at least not for long. The fundamental problem with postmodernism is that it is simply not sustainable.
This comment points to the crux of our contemporary dilemma. Instead of seeking to abandon our notions of rationality and reason (along with all the bittersweet fruits of our modernity), perhaps we should be trying to expand and enrich it—to provide a more fertile conceptual soil where new fruits can grow, side-by-side and often intertwined, along with the old.
Fortunately, the postmodernists have created a rich and nutrient-laden ground for the growth that is needed for the constructive efforts of our intellectuals to bear fruit.
And if we cannot accomplish this task with minimal resistance from all involved parties, we are spinning our wheels in more ways than one. And at this point in history, there is not much time that has been granted to us that we can afford to waste.
As frustration mounts with both the modern and its postmodern challenger, academics and intellectuals—increasingly bored with the lilting action in the ring—are increasingly asking the question, "What comes after the postmodern, postmodernism, and postmodernity?"
The natural scientists and especially the physicists have embraced Einstein's challenge to think in new ways, perhaps even more deeply and radically than those in the "softer" social sciences have been able, or perhaps dared to do.
This is because theory and research from the natural sciences enjoy a certain inherent credibility within the larger Western culture, while theory and research from the social sciences do not share the same privileged position.
At the same time, many artists, intellectuals, and academics in the humanities and even the social sciences are beginning to tease out the implications of the new findings of this new science.
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Take string theory, for example, as in the work of Milan Kundera. In the novels of this Czech-born French writer, the path of a character appears to shift and alter as a deeply felt event changes the frequency of the person's "vibration" and the "velocity" of their "path," and seems to even impact the essential "fractal" pattern that organizes the person, or perhaps how that pattern is expressed.
This fundamental "shifts" in the character reality, in which the experience is like being on a train that has unexpectedly shifted tracks, all has implications for how much resistance the character experiences within their (internal and external) environments.
In a Kundera novel, a deeply felt event will change the person in this fundamental way, and the result is to shift that character off of their previous trajectory, which establishes a whole new reality and set of options that the character must now adjust to. And the experience is deeply uncomfortable and unsettling.
This kind of integration of concepts among the various disciplines, with the scientists (and the artists) in the lead, also happened with the postmodernists and the modernists before them. But the struggle to clearly conceptualize the new era that follows postmodernism continues, and right now we do not have the necessary vocabulary to work with.
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In the social sciences and the humanities, many terms have been proposed to capture the "new thinking," but none seem to have resonated outside of academia and been launched into use by the larger culture.
Nor have any gained much significance in terms of interdisciplinary application, with the emerging exception of critical realism—and even that promising contribution seems largely uninformed by disciplines such as anthropology (traditionally divided into the four fields of archaeology, physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, and linguistics), which have much to say about the multiplicity of ways that exist for being human.
Psychologists and psychotherapists also have a great interest in these issues. The Focusing Institute, a foundation based on the seminal work of psychologist Eugene T. Gendlin, held a "Conference on After Postmodernism" at the University of Chicago in 1997, and the foundation continues to feature the material prominently on their website.
"The conference posed a specific question: If we absorb postmodernism, if we recognize the variety and ungroundedness of grounds, but do not want to stop in arbitrariness, relativism, or aphoria, what comes after postmodernism?"
It appears that we need to finish the job that Einstein started when he launched the idea (the ideational "fractal" with material implications) of relativity into the world of Western Civilization. And much like pre-ECC Europe, the academic disciplines now find themselves without a common currency for cultural exchange.
In spite of the success of critical realism, and the rather desperate application of terms like post-postmodernism and a multitude of semi-post-postmodernisms (in lieu of anything better, and how long can that go on?), no name proposed has yet to capture the richness of the new dialogue taking place, and represent the news ways of perceiving, thinking about, and manifesting reality that this shift in our attention encompasses.
So, what direction should we look toward to escape the conceptual rut that has beset us, at the end of this first decade of the 21st century and the beginning of the second millennium (at least by the calendar of Western Civilization)? Logically, where can we go after the postmodern, after the "after-new"?
To the "new-old," I would suggest, in the manner of a spiral: onward and forward and around to the neoprimitive.
Not going back to re-create a former expression of the "original" pattern—either the first expression we have reference to in our human records and recollections, or any return to a specific expression of past cultural, social, or economic forms, per se—but rather going forward to a new expression of the "original" pattern, firmly grounded in contemporary realities and indeed, shaped by them.
And this time humanity has a whole different set of material and knowledge-based tools at its disposal than the last-time-around.
As we will see, the terms "original," "primitive," and "neoprimitive" are not incidental. This and more will be discussed in the essay, In Search of the Neoprimitive, Part Two.
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IN SEARCH OF THE NEOPRIMITIVE, Part Two (upcoming)
~ MEANINGS OF "PRIMITIVE" AND "NEOPRIMITIVE"
~ THERE ARE NO "OLD" PRIMITIVES ANYMORE
~ ARE YOU A "GOOD" PRIMITIVE OR A "BAD" PRIMITIVE?
~ OTHER USAGE OF THE TERM "NEOPRIMITIVE"
To be followed by another essay:
~ THE MODERN, POSTMODERN, AND NEOPRIMITIVE ERAS: The Good, The Bad, and the Beautiful
"My cow is not pretty, but it is pretty to me."
- David Lynch