Aspects of Data

 

"Appearances to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are and do not appear to be; or they are not and yet appear to be."

                                                                                                                                            Epictetus

 

-1-

What was not apparent has become real. What is not apparent will become real. Within the Historical epoch reality, or what is "real," is equated with the Amythic or the absence of myth. (The word "myth" is thereby relegated to a synonym for "false".) Amyth's function is the preservation of precedent, knitting its version of continuity with the past to the status quo, and finally to the force of example. Amyth deforms the negentropic value of informational process by appealing to Amythic authority, appealing to history, appealing to its past patterns of self-idealization. In effect Amyth permitted, even invited, man to ignore the ecological consequences wrought by the complexification and influence of his tools. In Nietzsche's phrase Amyth is "the exhaustion that gazes backwards."

 

-2-

Survival through lexical re-structuring, thus a capacity to articulate the interface between paradigms. Rigidified paradigms as tautological loops: As they rigidify they I) destroy the sense of mystery, 2) lose their reverence, 3) can connect exclusively with what they "know," 3.1) with what is routine, 3.2) such that change is comprehended as disconfirmation and 3.3) self-perpetuation is confined to a uniforming process. Since man's rate of change is fundamentally dependent upon redefining the alternatives to extinction, the method of definition employed becomes a measure of its own success—its meta-method. The intention to survive (adapt) is subsequently reflected in the range of methodological resources selected to describe the condition. Methods, like specialists, die with the environments that create them . But the application of atrophied methods (bureaucracies, ideologies, fossil fuel systems, whatever) is the result of obsolescence another level up, in the sense of Model confirming Method with coherent purpose.

 

-3-

Models reveal meaning (or value) and select method, implicitly or explicitly. The system of models (or myth) employed in practical calculating and engineering is assumed accurate for the description of its effects upon total environment, forcing reality to be seen as a mirror image of intention. For example, if it is not the intention of fossil fuel systems to pollute they can be so engineered as to inhibit pollution or make it acceptable to those polluted. Since engineering in a sense is expedience, the initial decision, at least, is to render it acceptable. This is the ceremony of "crisis management."

 

-4-

Every lexical shift or cultural re-stratification is a response (an adjustment) to emergent inconsistencies between the dominating myth, in this case Amyth, and reality feedback. As accelerating rates of shift exceed some indefinable critical point the myth itself is voided. Sometimes the shift is as subtle as the proverbial distinction between factors A & C, but not between A & B and B & C. Sometimes not. Currently man's experience is overlapping relative to the end of one paradigm (or psychic space) and the beginning of the next occupying the same time. In this context man's experience is interface-space, beyond the historical

Amythic epoch and prior to its successor. And while anticipations of the successor constitute its outer reaches

(its initial parameters) they can in no way reflect the order-of-magnitude of its optimum development,

or peak-form. The unexpected is permanent .

 

-5-

Interface-space paradoxically emerges as the model of no model. The future in the present is a recurring unfinished puzzle with confirmation/disconfirmation as the function of feedback and no one model remaining central and accurate without adaptation to feedback. Man's models place his special-case experience in the pivot of an aggregate of subsumptions (or judgments). The final subsumption (the final sum of parts) constitutes the manifest interactions of the collective-subjective--the collective influence of subjective experience. Between the inexorable objective and the collective-subjective all resolution of contradiction and attempts to control or direct are conditioned by and restricted to the mental processes peculiar to the brain/mind of this species. As a biological entity man must breathe oxygen, acquire nourishment, rest himself, and maintain the equilibrium of his ecology as well as reflect on the condition of existence and the potential of his being. He must, in fact, integrate the relative and changing requirements for survival with the ontological aspects of existence.

 

We cannot merely engineer survival; and although we've ossified and lost our capacity to celebrate it, mystery remains our only experienced absolute.

 

-6-

Knowledge of ignorance posits faith in the unknown. What we don't know is ground to the figure of the known. Elements of that figure persistently merge and are lost to the ground, reappearing elsewhere as figure again without preparation or alibi. We (our cultures, myths, systems) are traumatized by this unremitting interaction of the knowable and its passage to the bete noire—the void. In a world of biological, chemical and physical pollution, it seems to me that we are overlooking the semantic pollution effecting our environments as we attempt to restore ecological balance. At some point in our educational and experiential progression, we must allow for systematic analysis of that media which affects our lives. (Print, plug, electronic, phototropic, chemical, physical, kinesthetic, etc.)

 

 

Frank Gillette

 

Radical Software Vol.2 / 1971