Observe how the image in the mirror of all of our aspirational self-definitions is the machine, logic, the structured and ordered grammar of a game, a recurring pattern and design or, most overtly in our globally interdependent information and communications networks: an algorithmic sequence. The fantasy of truth, of certainty (beyond that which can be shaped by empirical evidence or otherwise held immediately in our hands or minds) and a faith in the utter reliability of science and rationality, while in the end being all that we might ever ultimately trust, has a strange twist in it’s tail.

The reflexive certainty (of self, of world, of order) we might seek in the arrays and circuits of functional economies and abstract value systems, of any particular (and evolving) legal dogma, in the unacknowledged and living matrix of culture and the extended cognition of technology – the certainty we seek there is only ever contingent and dependent upon a suspension of our disbelief in the foundational paradox and mystery of recursive self-containment. We invest our trust and the disembodied abstractions of finance or wealth into the logic of the machine of our perfect self-reflection and, like some one-armed (or is it “one-eyed”?) bandit, we find an eternal loss, lack, absence and intransigent property of diminishing returns.

We seek our completeness and meaning in the machine and it, beyond our immediate knowledge, seeks it’s own completeness and meaning in us. In this way we find ourselves enclosed in a circularly self-referential loop without edge or end and in which all existence, all linear sequence and the multi-threaded algorithms of thought and culture, of language and technology – they are all folded back upon and through themselves. It is all in the end just so much entangled emptiness and meaningless vacuum; our machines are as ultimately empty and meaningless as are we.

One thought on “The image in the mirror is the machine…

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