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completely random

from Glench’s Consumption, Noise, and Creativity:

One way to understand the static mindset and the type of consumption that brings this about is through the metaphor of signal processing. Specifically, signal noise. In this concept, noise is unnecessary “filler” information. Media that is passively consumed is like this noise: it is ultimately worthless. It is just coherent enough so that the mind can latch onto it and not think, not take the hard path of making signal, the kind of growth we’re looking for. Unless consciousness is structured or directed, silence can be a terrifying experience. When the mind is undirected by external stimuli or media, feelings of boredom, depression, and existential angst spurt from the mind’s cracks*. Its effects closely mirror the effects of extended sensory deprivation. One way of dealing with unwanted silence, then, is to constantly fill up one’s life with relatively meaningless noise, or passively consume media, as I call it**.

Now, what is noticeably lacking in his behavior is any expenditure of real energy. It seems that whenever he could experience any amount of boredom, he crammed some type of media into his brain. Growth is an inherently energy-intensive process; most things that lead to positive feelings in one’s life are going to take work. A useful notion is the endergonic reaction in chemistry. This type of reaction uses energy to make new chemical bonds, thus creating structure. This is the essential difference between active consumption/creation and passive consumption. Whereas the former requires energy input, the latter requires nothing, and can, in fact, take energy. Extending the chemical metaphor, passive creation is entropy, the dissemination and random distribution of energy. Chaos. It is watching every episode of The Simpsons and starting over once the end is reached. It leads nowhere, only in ever-constricting circles. Instead of contributing to chaos by passively consuming, we should be using our energy to make something, whether it’s connections in our minds or the physical or quasi-physical representation of an idea realized through creation.

This is where I differentiate between active consumption and creation. Active consumption, while not explicitly making something, requires energy input. If one is actively consuming media, they are analyzing, comparing, contrasting, imagining, and most importantly, learning from the experience to achieve higher levels of thinking. Creation, then, is the process of using this knowledge to make something. What is interesting is that making something is almost always a learning process, as well. The entire routine creates what Douglas Hofstadter might call a strange positive feedback loop, where the process of creating, in turn, contributes to learning, and can then be used in further creating*** (and so on). Taken all together, the dual processes of learning and creation lead to a higher complexity of self, and a rewarding sense of personal improvement and growth.

from A Paranoid Companion to Thomas Pynchon: The Early Stories and Novels, Chapter 2: The Unity of Pynchon’s Allegory of the V:

“Low-Lands” signals the beginning of Pynchon’s parody of metaphor as life. In each of his early novels, Pynchon’s heroes lose their identity in symbolic structures they confuse with life. In the novel V, Herbert Stencil pursues the V-metaphor as if it were real and loses his life. In Gravity’s Rainbow, Tyrone Slothrop is in love with “the Word”–the logos–and fails to realize that symbolic structures created by the mind to comprehend “reality” are not the same as the apprehended experience they are designed to explain. Thus, systems of symbols assume a life of their own, independent of the experience they are supposed to represent. Getting lost in the interaction of symbols means mistakenly treating theoretical models (fictions) as if they were allegorical truth. Only what fits the symbolic model can be real. Experience that does not fit the model cannot be real. This sort of closed reading or interpretation asserts that words equal things, that symbolic structures are the same as the experience they represent. For Pynchon, this mistake is one of the symptoms of Modern thought.

In Pynchon’s “Entropy,” lack of real communication causes entropy in social relationships along with a growing inanimateness–the decline of humaneness–of human beings. Failure to communicate is the rule in V, The Crying of Lot 49, and Gravity’s Rainbow. Further, there is an inverse ratio between power and communication: the more power is increased and consolidated, the less communication occurs. However, Pynchon offers a possible alternative to convergence in The Crying of Lot 49, where the struggle of the Tristero to create an alternative postal service becomes a force of dialectical opposition to the increasing monologue (the diminishment of new and original voices) caused by the merger of mass media into a single corporate voice. Here, Pynchon comes close to predicting the creation of the Internet in dialectical opposition to the increasing entropy of traditional media.

from Steve Mizrach’s Philip K Dick: The First Cyberpunk UFOlogist?:

But perhaps the best proto-cyberpunk novel of PKD’s is his most under appreciated-Radio Free Albemuth. It is full of metaphors and concepts derived from electronics, communication, and information theory, some of which Phil probably picked up from his stint in a record store. PKD conceived of the idea of a universal Matrix-something which Gibson was only beginning to hint at towards the end of his first book, Neuromancer -an information “web” spanning entire galaxies and linking them in rational harmony. The problem was that this “Network’s” links were broken and therefore the pure signal of the cosmos was being distorted on this planet by the noise of the smothering Black Iron Prison. The Firebrights previously traveled openly between their world and ours, descending on select humans; now the lines of communication had been cut off. Since the B.I.P. arrives in 70 CE, it is clear that PKD considered the main “communication receiver” on this planet to be the Temple of Solomon. The three-eyed race of Albemuth took it upon themselves to heal the Matrix and to restore the Net through VALIS. Clearly, when one node in this cosmic Matrix is cut off from the rest, they are apparently all disturbed by it.

“Nicholas Brady” (an alter ego of PKD) and Silvio Sadassa overcome the Empire and its tyrant “Ferris Fremont” through a clever manipulation of signal and noise. The noise of Fremont’s lies will be cut into by the subliminal signal that they will put into musical recordings telling the American people he is really a Communist puppet. Similarly, a signal is sent out at the end of the novel VALIS : a juxtaposition of TV commercials for Food King and Felix the Cat gives the world the great words: “KING FELIX,” the joyous king. The suggestion is that Zebra/VALIS is constantly projecting a small, subliminal signal in unsuspecting areas to penetrate the overwhelming noise of the Empire. Perhaps this “still small voice” can even be found in the din and confusion of a genre of trash writing known as “science fiction…” or the great provider of trash called TV. PKD often heard voices through his radio insulting him and telling him to die. Many schizophrenics experience the sensation of being “talked” to by electronic devices or being controlled by electronic beams. But what validated PKD’s VALIS experience for him was the feeling that he was receiving pure, undistorted, rational information; not irrational urgings or unintelligible voices. He could not help but feel he was seeing the “invasion” of rationality and a pure signal into an increasingly cacophonous and dissonant world.

The “Great Soviet Dictionary” defines it thusly:

“A perturbation in the reality field in which a spontaneous self-monitoring negentropic vortex is formed, tending progressively to subsume and incorporate its environment into arrangements of information. Characterized by quasi-consciousness, purpose, intelligence, growth, and an armillary coherence.”

(…) in his definition he has stumbled onto one of the great discoveries of 20th century information theory: the link between information, energy, and entropy. Maxwell’s Demon can reverse entropy (dispersal) by being given the information of the state of molecules in his little box; the problem is that every time information is acquired, the overall entropy of the system increases. Unless that information comes from outside the closed system. The negentropic vortex that PKD speaks of maybe similar to the “strange attractors” of chaos theory or the punctuated equilibria of thermodynamics-a whirlpool of order in the midst of increasing chaos.

Working in a music store, PKD inevitably encountered the problems of distortion and bias-for music lovers, this refers to the crackling “white noise” that cuts into music enjoyment. The source of distortion is not the musical recording itself, but instead the speakers or equipment it passes through. A good electrical engineer tries to reduce the bias of equipment. He also was probably aware of the problems of feedback, when minor sonic perturbations are amplified to where they overwhelm the music itself. Communication theorists have noted that the signal/noise ratio is fundamental to intelligibility, so their goal is also to try and eliminate distortion as well-linguistic distortion; “doublespeak” of politicians and tyrants, if you will. Cybernetic theorists like Norbert Weiner, in examining self-correcting electronic systems, also point out that one of the problems is that “bottlenecks” in the system arise, where the control mechanism becomes “frozen.” PKD might have had some familiarity with cybernetics as well, especially its central importance in music amplification.

from Odd Edges’ Consciousness Explorer 1.0: Logging onto The Reality Wide Web:

[[ Getting to OTHER ]]

Fredkin’s “A New Cosmogony” suggests that reality is best explained as an evolutionary process/system branch that is computed from a super-system outside of physical reality, which is referred to as Other [13]. This isn’t too far fetched considering the standard Big Bang miracle physics, which is more-or-less: everything appeared at once from no where for the hell of it. It was assumed, or not even considered, that even if Other is a higher-dimensional, nonphysical, evolutionary computational processing reality system (inhale) that is running simulations of multiple virtual realities of various physical rule-sets (inhale), the data-stream (experience) of these other virtual realities are not available to us. In other words, one is restricted to the physical matter reality one was dealt. However, this is not the case. Bum bum baaaaaaa……….

At a lecture given at the London School of Economics in 2008, NASA/DoD physicist and consciousness pioneer Thomas Campbell bluntly stated, “I’ve been there.”[14] On a radio interview Campbell said, “I’ve been lots and lots of places. There are lots of different physical realities. This is just one.” [18] Campbell states that he has experienced virtual realities of various physical constraint architectures—some like this one, some not, all of which were accessed via his individual conscious awareness (AND SO CAN YOU!). The experience of being, interacting, and observing these other virtual realities is reportedly as real as engaging this VR. [10][12]

[[ Entropy: The physics of consciousness systems ]]

The criteria for evolution (modification into a more profitable state) in a biological system are survival and procreation. “For consciousness system that criteria (for evolution) is entropy reduction.” Entropy can be thought of as “a measure of disorder…if you have high-entropy you have more disorder…if you have less entropy you have more order and energy that can do work and have an effect.”[12] High entropy results in “dysfunctional internal constraints” within a consciousness system that reduces “functionality and efficiency.” [11]

[[ Deep Reality Hacking ]]

Deep Reality Hacking (DRH, or Dr.H) constitutes extra-physical hacks (aka: psi phenomenon, psychotronics, out of body experiences, remote viewing, healing, precognition, etc.) which can only be achieved if there exists enough available processing, memory, and energy for Consciousness Explorer to execute a given command. This is the testimony of scientists. Scientists can’t run around publishing lies like the rest of us. Their careers depend on non-falsified data, un-like just about everything that will be on the tele.

Deep Reality Hacks include but are not limited to: expanded awareness, expanded decision space, reality feed switching, parallel processing, healing, remote viewing, remote influencing, remote diagnosis, nonphysically visible data sensory (aura detection), telepathic rapport, “out-of-body” travel, precognition, postcognition, surfing the RWW, etc., All of which are a kind of database accessing. All of this is available to low entropy Consciousness Explorers.

The use of reality hacking is already vogue within the artistic activists of the culture jamming underground. Jammers use cognitive, meme-art-warfare, mindfuck works largely aimed to the illuminate the toxic/rigid/shallow practices, philosophy, and value system that has beset all sides of earthly physical existence by of the social takeover of legally recognized corporate “persons”. Deep Reality Hacking Info Art is dissimilar to reality hacking in the sense that the message will not strictly be a response to the hideous corporate landscape but rather the target intention will be a means by which to upload fact or curiosity into observes regarding their positions as largely unconscious Consciousness Explorers in a virtually unrecognized Virtual Reality—So arts to act as an avatar/icon informing and referring observes to the Bigger Picture or the real dope data (i.e. MBT).

from David Porush’s Prigogine, Chaos, and Contemporary Science Fiction:

It’s 1855. Babbage’s own daughter, Lady Ada Babbage, a mathematical prodigy, has developed a viral, recursive computer program that is so powerfully paradoxical that it effectively sabotages any difference engine which tries to run it. This is another Gibson-Sterling insider’s joke: Ada’s program is what 20th-century members of our own parallel reality might recognize as Kurt Gödel’s mathematical proof of his Incompleteness Theorem (a fact we discover only in the epigraph to the novel). It also slyly fulfills William Burroughs’s dictum for any intellectual guerrilla-neo-Luddite-anarchist-pomo-cyberpunker-hacker who wishes to sabotage the Ellul-technique of Culture: program the machine with the simple positive feedback message, Dismantle Thyself.

Let me end with a scholarly note that underscores the intellectual feat and power of The Difference Engine. Our cybernetics—the cybernetics of Wiener, Turing, Shannon, Weaver, and von Neumann—was born in reaction to the devastation of the positivist project by Gödel’s Theorem and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Wiener, von Neumann, and (to a certain extent) Turing were attempting to rescue rationality itself from powerful attacks on its foundations. The goal, and the route to it, was to build a brain on mechanical principles that could think with strict and formal rationality. Such a brain, they assumed, would “think” anything that could be thought, thus conquering the twinned demons of incompleteness and uncertainty. Yet as the AI theorist Herbert Simon has said, “All systems of reasoning are grand tautologies, but only God can make use of that fact” (15).

The point is that cybernetics was essentially a technical response to a philosophical challenge, an incipient—if reactionary—half of what has emerged as the postmodern dialectic: the battle between humanity and its mechanical systems of description. Gibson and Sterling have contributed to this postmodern drama or dialogue by imagining it all backwards. Their cybernetics is birthed by a machine, which incubates its culture with a nascent postmodern philosophy—including the paradigm of chaos—to match. Their cybernetics begins with an overgrown slide rule, a technical innovation, and ends with Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem. It begins in determinism and predictability and ends in groping intuitions about feedback loops and autopoetic self-organization and the anagenetic sentience of machines—in short, in postmodern concerns. In the end, Sterling and Gibson intimate (in the 1990 of this alternate history), you need chaos dynamics and the sensibility of Gödel’s insufficiency of formalism in order to grow a fully intelligent brain from mere brass and steam—or any other mechanics, for that matter.

To take a phrase from Norbert Wiener, The Difference Engine “banishes to the limbo of badly posed questions the mechanism-vitalism duality” (44). The novel leaves me with no doubt that the proper models for artificial intelligence in our time line cannot rely on formal logic alone. The part of our brain that controls and grows in locked looping with our tools and the part that makes connections among everything to formulate grandiose world-building hallucinations of philosophy and fiction and science are at least isomorphisms of the mysterious and chaotic activity of our complex biological evolution itself, which relies on chaos. There it is, the human brain, that great difference engine, frothing and sputtering away like a mass of leaky coaxial cable drowning in a synaptic bath.

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