Cognitive Activism — Another Way

There is a way of learning that exchanges tokens for momentum — a practice which becomes something analogous to a sustained ‘refusal to measure’ in terms of QM, such that measurement becomes constant and subtle rather than incident-based and incisive. At every point where one would otherwise measure and produce tokens, we instead cache that momentum and leap. Animals and infants use this method constantly — they have no other choice. Insects use it to navigate — but it can be used to navigate in the dimension we call ‘knowledge’ in such a way as to produce seemingly impossible results.

It’s useful to see how much momentum is bound up in representations and their cultural transports. Think about that as a sum, and imagine it suddenly released in such a way as to become accessible. In its cached state it exists as potential, but it is trapped and frozen there, pretending to be a resource when it is, in reality, incurring profound and invisible upkeep costs. These become a siphon for many kinds of resources, not the least of which is human attention.

When we are released from the necessities of representation, or better yet, moved to the position above map users to, for example, map makers — we do not escape danger. But we can at last have a chance to see how profoundly our previous models were self-invested, and perhaps even have a glimpse at the quasi-intelligence(s) that comprise their sources and principles of organization.

A really good model leads one almost immediately beyond itself. Rather than asking that we adopt it and promulgate it, it actually defies our ‘collection’ urges by requiring we ‘expend it’, transforming it into fuel with which to reach for new terrain — where this process will be even more rapidly repeated.

Such an approach produces travel rather than tokens. Each re-entrance increases the momentum exponentially. There are no limits. We used a very similar process as infants to solve the many problems required by being able to use and reproduce language.

The phenomenon we are concerned with, the big questions regarding our sources, meaning, values, and existence share a variety of features. In attempting to understand them, we become vulnerable to anything or anyone who, for one reason or another, wants to sell us an explanation — including aspects of our own psyche.

The nature of modern human culture is to constantly vie for the position of popularity, yet when we participate as consumers in the majority of cases we are being consumed, and merely become the advocates of paradigms and authors. This is an entirely insufficient role. I suggest that our nature is insultingly miscast when rendered in the role of the consumer.

The phenomenon that arouse our curiosity are far more sophisticated and rich — and confusing — than any of the answers reveal. In fact, answers are not really what we want. I suspect our actual (formal) understandings remain so primitive that better ways of asking questions and far better questions would help us more, and render us somewhat resistant to the swarms of ideology-suppliers that hover like clouds around these topics.

The answers we are carrying as untapped potentials are a lot more interesting than the models we’re making. I think those answers are struggling to emerge and be noticed. But the cacophony of media, ‘experts’ and ideology that they must compete with is highly adapted for this competition, and actually silences the parts of us which are trying to be heard. Analogously, you can see the same forces at work in online discussions or communications activities of nearly any sort. Drugs wants to compete. Advertisers want in. Pornographers want a bigger pipe. Musicians are competing. Authors are competing. They are ceaselessly (through human proxies) attempting to derail the very foundations of our humanity and transform our conversations to ‘conversion routines’.

Over time, our souls are lulled to sleep by the ebb and flow of common culture, daily habit, the ‘realities’ we are exposed to and feel obliged to support . And our most profound capacities and opportunities are thus traded away for mere reflections of understanding, ability, and wonder. At this late stage of the process, neither human beings nor the living planet can afford the prices of our commercial cultures — what is being consumed is not merely goods, but worlds.

Yet it remains within our capacity to transform the basis of our habits of representational sentience in such a way as to not only resolve the majority of the historically intransigent perils of our cognitive heritage, and the results of such a transformation cannot be understood in ordinary language or terms. What is coming is a transformation so unimaginable that the wildest fictions would appear clumsy and impoverished. The universe is not only nothing like our models, it is vastly more than the sum of our fictions.

And you and I are, indeed, the living instances and agents of this grand fellowship of stars, eyes, minds… and light. We have within us the capacity to radically remake the human relationships with knowledge, language, and thought itself. I believe this is the single most important challenge facing our generation.

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