Deshan reading book
I am, fundamentally, a city boy and I experience the world through media. I read a lot of books as a kid and I still see everything as a story, feeling rather confused that everyone has lost the plot. I was lying on the floor, under the ceiling fan, thinking. Do other people experience media through the world? What does that even mean?
It is, how to say, well, to put it in caveman terms, it is rather odd that I peer into windows or tomes to go to other places, times and, indeed, minds. When I go to actual other places I wonder how to put these things into windows such that other people may visit, in degraded circumstances. These windows, if one could figure out how to open them properly, could theoretically take one to other place, times and minds entirely. That is, Virtual Reality led to its obvious conclusion, pending the coming collapse of civilization, should feel pretty fucking real. This is not obvious to many people, but ask the caveman what he thinks of radio or electricity. I still don’t get it.
So, that is, at some point we will open these windows and be able to see and be in entirely different places and times. I think the arc of history is exponential, so within my life time. But who knows. For a long time I thought this would be super awesome and I was pumped. Now I’m wondering, then what?
This, what do you call it, progress can seem alternately benign, malign, or asinine. I am beginning to think it has no particular properties of its own. I do believe that at some point entirely new life forms and intelligence will emerge out of information technology, but I suspect they will have similar problems. Albeit with much awesomer super powers. Perhaps the next
profit prophet will be wetware, but then what?
There is a wonder and a promise in complexity, but at some point it is beyond my ken. For example, my brief experience with Hinduism has confused the shit out of me. I have started to see other complex systems in a similar light, which is just sorta giving up and grinning at them. I like swimming in the ocean because I can’t hear or see much and yet I’m in touch with a huge amount of chaos and awesomeness that isn’t (immediately) trying to kill me.
As I’m looking around I find things which might be useful and, indeed, make me a happier and nicer person. But I can’t bring anything back. I try to package things into words or photographs or phrases and they just don’t fit. I mean, I can get bits, but they don’t make sense without other bits, and those other bits are connected to other bits and then I forget where I am. And it’s like, bits or bytes, I’m sure that all things are computationally possible, but I wonder what is actually necessary.
It is like the same tools that enable you to perceive one thing make it difficult to perceive other things. The digital world works by sampling, by leaving certain things out. That is, I am looking at a scene now. There is a cat sleeping on a desk and a tree with yellow flowers outside. If I photograph the tree the cat will be blacked out and invisible. If I change the exposure I can see the cat, but then the tree will be whited out and invisible. The tools which enable one to communicate, preserve and distribute also destroy information.
Hence, while media enables me to experience the world in ways beyond my physical ability, it also has its own physical limits. And biases. It can expand reality, but it also shapes and bends reality in its own ways. In reality, I think all of our perceptual devices are inadequate, built to accomplish a particular end (survival, adaptability) rather than being ‘true’ measures of the world. Even language functions by exclusion (a painting is not a pipe, for example, black is not white) and as such destroys as it creates and preserves.
Which is to say, even a perfect media – one which can both reproduce and exceed the sensations and illusions of reality – still remains an illusion. It does not and cannot contain understanding within itself, I don’t think. I mean, if meditation and even enlightenment are theoretically brain states, those could, theoretically, be replicated. The final sensation, however, would be something beyond any binary states and beyond any conventional communication. The closest I have come to it is holding two (or many) contradictory ideas in my head at once and yet perceiving them all to be true. I don’t know how to package that. I don’t know what media is adequate. I experience the world through media, but I cannot find any medium that fits the world.