Categories
Philosophy

Oh yes, this world is a mess

Borders are first and foremost in our minds and now that we have them we seem to need them but they are in no sense necessary facts.

Science and technology cartwheel and careen past us in ways that few can convincingly argue are fully comprehended, defined or ever anything more than superficially controlled. This accelerating turbulence of complex sociotechnical recursion and self-validating necessity is a self-propagating compression wave of information, energy, technology and concepts. It ripples and oscillates like waves on a pond across (and as) the surface and transmission medium of a world and hollow vessel almost entirely nonplussed and (perhaps necessarily) unaware of the big picture and all-consuming information-encoding matrix within and as which it is encompassed, embodied.

The development of progressively more powerful analytical tools with which to abstract underlying mathematical or logical principles has provided a simultaneous abstraction of reality into simpler symmetries, mnemonics, tools and interwoven causal or explanatory threads but all of this has come at a cost. Logical abstraction as conceptual (and material or information-processing system) compression is always also an expansion – contraction via algorithmic brevity into short equations or generalisable principles is simultaneously a hyper-inflation in that this compression always presupposes a (notionally external) library of reference by, through and as which encoding is made possible, and into which utility and value is stored.

As we create more powerful, smaller and faster technologies built upon the foundations that a moving frame of science provides, we simultaneously generate a vast and ever-growing library of reference. More than this, we generate awesome power at an implicit cost of thermodynamic waste (you may indeed have heard of climate change), but also – the information density of our cognitive, cultural, social and economic systems has all but reached its limit and breaking point. The question that comes to mind: if natural systems have quite clearly perfected an approximation to optimal energy and information-processing efficiency over several billion years of iterative refinement on planet Earth, why is it that the emergent intelligence and distributed civilisation of humanity is so exquisitely inefficient and wasteful. Why, in other words, does our ineptitude eclipse our aptitude and what driving force of nature compels us all to an endless litany of fictive conflict, difference, dissociative subjectivity (or self-identity) and alienation?

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