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history

Culture as Error, History as Misunderstanding

We are so entrained to think in terms of cultural continuity as a measure of successful system self-replication that we might never perceive or understand that the most significant moments in any history are shaped more (or at least as much) by difference and dissonance than by continuity and predictability. These stochastic inflections points of unexpected difference from the desensitising cocoons of memory and shared experience represent the kernel core of change and discontinuity around which all constancy and continuity grows. More than this, though – we often incorrectly assume that harmonious, resonant peace and flourishing civilisation is the natural state of humanity because our narratives and psychological selves quite naturally drift towards them. I wish it were true that peace was the ground state of our world but the sad fact remains that what amounts to little more than a shambling, ramshackle leviathan of historical lurches toward the future represents the sum of all failures before we might ever count our successes. Civilisation optimally self-propagates as a function of its catastrophic discontinuities and misunderstandings and to be honest, once we acknowledge this, we might do something to constructively lessen the brutality and suffering that this inevitable historical turbulence cyclically brings upon us all.

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