OUR INSANELY GREAT AWAKENING

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outsourcing the rational

GOOD GOD I DON’T NEED A REASON

“I never thought too hard on dying before.
I never sucked on the dying.
I never licked the side of dying before.
And now I’m feeling the dying.”

They pointed the way but nobody heard.

They uncovered truths and nobody cared.

They followed their own path. The end.

Future no longer remembers Gen X. Preceded by Boomers, proceeded by Millennials, runt of the demographic litter, which is fine, really.

What if they could be more?

I think of alternate realities.

Not those steampunk novels.

Steampunk is boring.

A novel I would read, though, would explore how Earth could be today had us Earthlings back in the late 1980s embraced and sustained grunge-punk, not rap.

But that’s just too hard to believe. More believable, an alt-history where Earth embraced and sustained techno, not rap.

Think of it.

Back when he mattered, Eminem wrote:

“And Moby? You can get stomped by Obie
you 36-year-old baldheaded fag, blow me!
You don’t know me, you’re too old, let go.
It’s over, nobody listens to techno.”

Strong.

But what if he was wrong? What if there never was an Eminem because rap fizzled out and techno spread around the world, becoming the dominant form of popular music?

I think the world would be a nicer place, honestly.

It strikes me as odd that the number of births and the wrong choices of a group born around the same time would have such a long-lasting ripple effect on the next culture and the next.

Is there a better way?

Numbers?

Because, if numbers, that can be coded and computers can assess trillions of numbers every second.

Which are probably far more than necessary.

Think of how easy it is to judge someone based on only a single number.

What’s your GPA? What’s your ACT score?

High school football players eager to play for the top college football teams are assigned a number, typically between 2 and 5. Recruit X is a 4 ‘star’ and Recruit Y is a 5 ‘star’ but Recruit Z is only a ‘3’ star.

What is your hs-CRP score? It helps determine the amount of inflammation in your body and is a good predictor of your likelihood of stroke or heart attack. You want a hs-CRP score of less than 1 and certainly no more than 3.

What is your HDL? Your LDL?

What are the number of hours per day you sit? That offers a clue into your lifespan.

China, which made your iPhone, has not stopped at simply illegalizing the open, anonymous web. They have begun rolling out a numbers system which helps them determine how great a threat you are to their existing power structure. Points are assigned based on a range of personal variables.

In the US, algorithms are used to take money from us, make money off us, loan us money or, possibly, land us in jail. Numbers that feed these algorithms are based on race, gender, marital status, credit score, income, age.

Tell me your age.

Tell me your income.

What is the cost of your debt?

We dislike it but numbers are used to represent us and they typically do a very good job.

The President sleeps very little, a curiosity among many. While most of America slept last night, the President went on Twitter, which served him various tweets, links and videos, all based on an algorithm, not chronological order. One such tweet struck his fancy, which he then retweeted.

This act brought swift and protracted gnattering from the heretofore established media.

Algorithms impact our economy and productivity, our creativity, our mental health, our knowledge and our awareness, even our nation’s security. Algorithms are everywhere. Stock funds are using algorithms with the hopes of generating outsized returns. The algorithm can assess and intuit more and probably better financial trends, government filings, visual patterns, social changes, purchase data, customer tweets and the like. Facebook’s algorithms may know — before anyone else, before even friends and family — if someone is nearing suicide:

Algorithms are also helping with dying, telling healthcare professionals who most (and most soon) requires palliative care.

Algorithms are also used — which means they are also gamed — to determine what your child sees next on YouTube, far too much of which punctures their senses and pollutes their spirit.

New rule: We must not ever allow algorithms to be unleashed if they harm children and/or diminish life and living — ever.

If our algorithm non-use limits our economy, if shutting off algorithms borks our entertainment, that is small sacrifice. The spread of algorithms into every device and across every human interaction changes everything and everyone forever. They must do no harm.

This is particularly true with respect to children.

Deuteronomy, 12:31: “You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.”

We have always known that sacrificing children is an abomination.

“You’ve got your hands over your ears.
You’ve got your mouth running on.
You’ve got your eyes looking for something
that can never be found.
Like a reason.
Good god, I don’t need a reason.”

Fugazi was once a thing. They were fun to see. Trust me.

WE ARE GONNA RULE THE WORLD

In the beginning was the bass line, and it was glorious, and then the organ, calling all to gather, and the spirit took hold and the congregation did embrace the rhythm, letting it infuse their soul, and they did clap along.

(The Reverend) Tim Maia offers his sermon: “We came from a superworld. A world of rational energy. And we live in the energy world. World of animal energy. Read the book! The only book! The book of God! ‘Universe In Disenchantment’. And you’ll gonna know the truth.”

The 20th century did its best to enforce rational energy upon the world. It failed often and tragically and at scale. It may, in fact, be why so many humans repeatedly engaged in ravenous behavior, a non-rational response to the enforced rational thought. Food, drink, drugs, violence, art — Tim Maia feasted upon them all.

The 21st century will spin reality in an entirely different direction. Because — at long last — we humans have created machines which allow us to outsource the rational, off-load thinking and calculating and processing and determining, leaving us to focus on what humans can do far better than our machines.

Wilding. Dreaming. Believing.

We may not put it together, but it will be enchanting.

It may also prove our doom.

Because as Tim Maia’s funk line reminds us, our animal energy remains ever-present.

Brian  

My best to you

BACK TO THE GARDEN

It’s hard to overstate how huge a transformation Star Wars The Last Jedi takes the whole Star Wars mythos. In the original trilogy, everything pivots around Leia. But now, the past is re-written, as is the future — critical, as these are the only two periods of time that ever matter. Everything has changed now in Star Wars. Luke is Jesus. Luke must die — for our salvation. Luke, now with everything changed, is the one that saved the Jedi order in the past, and now remakes it for the future.

We crave myths.

We believe superpowers exist — and they do — but not in us, though we dream they one day might.

Books, movies, these feed our need for myths. Rock music, less so.

I think of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida as maybe the closest we’ve come to mystical rock music mythos.

Heavy metal thunder.

Upon first listen: nothing before matters, everything from now will be different.

That’s a lot to stake upon the only hit song from Iron Butterfly. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is timeless, peerless, its psychedelic metal sound revelatory of a future which, we must accept, never came. Guitar, organ, bass, vocals, drums, often in concert, sometimes in solo, this 17-minute, 20-or-so word song proclaims humanity at the dawn of a new age, one completely unlike the past, one not at all previously envisioned, filled with dark magic, seductive waypoints, and forever youth — in all its glory and failings. The song quickly takes us from the before time to its big bang, and from there the possibilities are revealed as not quite limitless but still plentiful.

The future beckons. “In the garden of Eden, baby, don’t you know that I’ll always be true.”

I wonder, can we return to the garden? Will the garden come to us?

These are idyl thoughts, the most human of all the thoughts.

Humans are rational creatures, admittedly, and possessing an insatiable ability to benefit from knowledge and learning. But this is not the same as possessing an insatiable ability to want to know and learn. Even in the 21st century, too many fail to recognize the chasm between the process and the gain.

Humans are rational creatures, true, but mostly not. Mostly, we are emotional, feeling, sensing.

We are rational not by choice but by necessity.

Never forget this!

That necessity is now going away.

Always stay mindful of this!

Just as we have outsourced our physical labors to the machines — nobody mills their own grain anymore, for example — now, at long last, we possess the ability to outsource our rational to the machines. Our machines will do our calculus, our remembering, our data accumulation, our indexing, our choosing, our thinking.

Freedom!

Emotion is our future.

Feeling is our future.

Crazy is our future.

I am not sure if that is how we get back to the garden, but I am sure it is our way onward.

Experts in pedagogy — a horrible word — continue to profoundly misunderstand reality and human composition. They continue to insist that non-rational, non-verifiable, clearly emotional-based responses from people on such “knowable” ideas as, say, how AIDS developed, or why the twin towers collapsed, or the impact of the movement of the stars upon our mood, exist because there is too much “fake news” or bogus sources or children aren’t being taught “logic” or their parents, derided as “evangelical” or “hippie,” prevent “the truths” from reaching these children.

Nonsense.

We have constructed a world where we have the freedom to believe in the non-rational, with each of us able to construct — like an artist — the worldview which best expresses our needs. Surprise! This is the zenith of a thinking, learning, progressive, tool-building human evolution.

The Pentagon, we have verified, and to nobody’s surprise, is spending millions of dollars to search for alien life and to uncover the truth behind various unexplained human – non-human encounters. This includes actual Air Force fighter jets chasing an unknown flying object.

Alien encounters? Maybe.

The Pentagon running psyops using our fear and fascination of aliens to set in motion something dastardly? Maybe.

Rational behavior? And?

Stop expecting humans to fully engage with the “facts” “logic” “evidence” “data” when our newest machines can do all of these better, faster, longer, bigger.

You’re being wrongly non-serious.

We can’t outpace our thinking machines, can’t recall more, certainly not faster, can’t absorb as many facts, can’t reach as many people with the data, and so the logical response is to accept that the rational — the “truth” — is the purview of computers, algorithms, AI, robots, and whatever comes next, while we increasingly embrace and feed those elements of our self which the machines can’t do better.

We are outsourcing the rational.

Fantastical is our future.

This is the dawning of the age of aquarius!

“Please take my hand.”

Here’s the Boney M version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, suffused with a disco beat and electronic sensibilities. It’s not the equal of the original, but still great.

ALL HOPE IS GONE

Why do you believe?

The culture demands you jettison belief in God, in religion, in your gender, your genetics, your nation’s boundaries. Believe instead — the cultural gatekeepers and media bullhorns proclaim — in diversity, in fluidity, in globalization, in technology, in those jobs not coming back, in all of the things, however true, not true or somehow in-between, which encourage you to consume more, buy more, dispose more, and link your identity more strongly to your possessions, even as you replace them daily, weekly, yearly.

What does belief gain you?

A man using standard computing equipment was able to (digitally) swap the face of a porn actress with superstar Gal Gadot, the actress who so capably plays Wonder Woman.

It’s difficult for human eyes to see the truth, more so than ever before.

Probably, the viewers of porn want exactly that.

There was a terror attack in New York City today. Thankfully, a mostly botched attack.

A young man from Bangladesh.

He came to America.

He lived here for seven years.

He was in nearly all ways discernible to our eyes — and ears and other senses — utterly non-descript.

After a recent visit back to Bangladesh, he changed.

Today, he attempted to set off a bomb on the New York City subway.

Mostly, he harmed himself.

What if — bear with me here — the young man felt compelled to make and set off a bomb, kill scores of innocent people, but he simultaneously didn’t want to?

What if — bear with me here — whatever was compelling him to commit his dastardly act was not at all what he wanted to do?

I entertain the idea that the Bible is a makers guide. There are two elements to this notion:

  1. the Bible’s tales of morality, goodness, and faith instruct humanity — and guide us as we create evermore capable machines
  2. what if — yes, I know this is utterly fantastical — the Bible is also a *literal* makers guide, directing our technological development?

Mad, I know.

Bear with me.

I think today of Joseph. God spoke to Joseph, according to the Bible, through Joseph’s dreams. The dreams told Joseph what to do about Mary, about Christ, when to leave Bethlehem, when to go to Egypt, when to leave again.

Can we — us mortals — develop technology that enables us to send messages into another’s dreams?

Can we make voice a weapon?

Certainly, it’s already used as a substitute for magic.

You speak, your voice travels twenty feet where it reaches your Amazon Echo, which awakens, connects to the Internet, interacts with multiple computers and data sources, then returns with your request, speaking back to you.

Let’s do this, but into a person’s dreams!

A tree falls in the forest, no one is around to hear it, but once all the world’s things are wired, connected, we can hear whatever we want, from wherever and whenever we choose.

What then?

Hearing, seeing, as fluid as your twitter feed?

Question everything becomes no longer a pose, rather, the world we have constructed.

Sometimes, that’s cool.

One of the things I love so much about Beck is that I feel that even his failures — and, honestly, I think most of his songs are near-failures — but even his failures reveal our possible paths, pointing the way to a future, a future that is sometimes acceptable, sometimes exactly not.

Beck’s rhythmic collages of noise, cultural detritus, a flotsam of aural impressions, these alter how we see the world.

The past de-constructed, the future uncertain.

“Rockin’ the city, close to god
Engines running, all hope is gone
Out on the highway, having a baby
Crawling the city, close to god
Engines running
Dixie fried
Got a feeling, that I’m leaving
Extra sugar, heavy breathing”

After you hear Close to God, consider next Sweet Satan.

JESUS IS COMING

In past centuries, humans were altered by the acceleration and spread of their most profound achievement, the outsourcing of their labors to machines. In our century, we are being transformed by the acceleration and spread of our most profound achievement, the outsourcing of our thinking to machines.

We are outsourcing the rational.

Crazy is our future. Expression our currency.

Storytelling will become valued just as in the beginning.

Hunter-gatherer storytellers were essential in promoting co-operative and egalitarian values before comparable mechanisms evolved in larger agricultural societies, such as moralising high-gods. Storytellers were also more popular than even the best foragers, had greater reproductive success, and were more likely to be co-operated with by other members of the camp.

In the history of popular music — which is long — few have been grander storytellers than The Eagles.

“They even brought a neon sign ‘Jesus is Coming’,
Brought the white man’s burden down, brought the white man’s reign
Who will provide the grand design, what is yours and what is mine?
Cause there is no more new frontier, we have got to make it here
We satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds
In the name of destiny and in the name of God.”

Words powerful enough to put out the fire, joined with music powerful enough to stir the wanderlust. You can’t hear the song and not want to leave — or else make it all go away.

Don Henley and Glenn Frey were musically gifted, both desperately wanted to be pop stars, and possessed of that rare ability to construct radio-friendly hooks, awakening riffs, tightly crafted harmonies, and memorable lines. Often, they transformed those memorable lines into stories which weaved inside the listener’s heart, forever activated by just a few notes on a keyboard or beats from a drum, or the call to prayer of a Glenn Frey chord.

The pair were well rewarded for their gifts.

As are we.

The Last Resort may be the very best song from the Eagles’ very best album, Hotel California, which is one of the very best albums of the modern rock era.

The Last Resort is a layered re-telling of ourselves being our most human.

Destructive.

We destroyed paradise.

This was our very first declaration of human power, a defiance of godly supremacy.

Foolish, foolish pride.

We’ve spent the past many millennia attempting to make good, resurrect paradise, piece it all  back together, and return once again to the garden.

I am not certain we will ever succeed, but the effort certainly drives our best stories, just as its rejection drives our most fantastical failures.

TO-DO LIST

If I don’t do this, now, it won’t be done, now, and if it’s not done, now, then she won’t be able to do her part, now, and if she can’t do her part, now, he won’t be able to do his part, now, and if he can’t do his part, now, then fuck but the whole machine breaks down and if the whole machine breaks down I’m out of a job, this job, and if I’m out of this job, the big mortgage, the 401K, the 529 plan, fuck, but I gotta put more into my little girl’s 529 plan, and the WiFi and the 100 channels and this smartphone, what!, I’m busy, give me a fucking minute, and without this job shit gets bad, real bad, the kinda bad that will be hard to climb out of, real hard, the kinda bad that I don’t want to think about, that my children, fuck, they’ve never had to think about, they can’t even imagine, so if I lose this job, because I don’t finish this now, right now, I’ll lose most of it, not all of it, I’ll still have some, at least I will once I get some other job, a job certainly not as good as this one, but I’ll still have enough, enough to live, enough for my children, but fuck they’ll go deep deep into debt just to pay for the state school, and that’s with living at home, and fuck but what else will they lose, I wonder, they have so much, more than I could have ever imagined having when I was their age, still, I’ll have just enough for everyone to see that I once had more, much more, and I lost it, my own damn fault, letting the work get over my head, so now I’m stuck and it’s never coming back so fuck I gotta finish this one thing, just one more thing, stay here just one more hour, we can order dinner out, I’ll pick something up and, Jesus, the wife is busy and I’m supposed to take the dog to the vet tomorrow, fucking forgot all about that, so that’s like $200 and 3 hours of my time, maybe I can work 2 more hours tonight, not read, just close my eyes and sleep, get in about 6, maybe 5 hours, send out this last email, so yes, since you fucking asked, this is my life now, not just tonight, tomorrow, but everyday, I can’t remember when it wasn’t just like it is now, though I know it was, and I’m not even sure how I got here but I graduated and got a job and took out more credit card debt than I knew I should but got a better job, then got married and got a better job and got a house and got a better job then a better house, then a child, then a second child, which the wife took a year off, fuck, but we’re still paying for that, then an even bigger house, this house, the house I’ll probably die in, assuming I can make the payments and they don’t kick me out, goddam the payments are so high, so yes, to answer your question, I am in a hurry, a goddam big hurry, not like I have any choice, so, ha, Steve, good tweet, needed to be said, oh, that reminds me, new Alec Baldwin podcast tonight, well, I’ll listen to it tomorrow, maybe this weekend, but, yeah, so big house, mortgage, wife, two children, it’s all good, really, good, I mean that, I’m not sure I would want it any other way, though I honestly can’t imagine, at least not at this moment, an actual other way that might be better, but fuck, I don’t know how some people do it, they have it so much rougher, the bus, the train, two shit jobs, three children, some even more, hell, and they still find time to go to church, fuck, but my children are in their teens now, teenagers, Jesus Christ how did that happen, and they probably think we’re atheist, not because it’s something we ever discussed, it’s more that we just never had the time to go to church, and don’t judge me because if we did ever have the time, trust me, there were way way too many other things to do, but fuck, they, those people who got it real tough, they probably work in those Amazon sweatshops, poor bastards, but hey, it’s work, right, a job, better than fucking working at Foxconn, ten, fifteen hours a day, six days a week, making iPhones they’ll never in their whole fucking life be able to afford, and really, going over a spreadsheet, fixing a powerpoint, answering a few emails, fine, lots of emails to be honest, thousands of fucking emails, but it’s not so bad, not really, not like how most people have it, goddam who is sending me a text at this hour, oh, pharmacist, my prozac, no, wait, my son’s, well, okay, we need milk and bread and toilet paper anyway, I was gonna have to stop regardless, but fuck, if I don’t get this done now, shit’s gonna be bad.

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