This page is almost a rant, by LionKimbro.
This may be a horrible name for the general pattern, but no matter.
Looking back a bit further, we could also include:
Note the consistent use of EvolutionarySpirituality imagery:
Note the conscious role of Hollywood; Jim Carrey is endorsing Peaceful Warrior, John Travolta for Scientology, and so on.
I believe there’s some tie in with TheHumanAsaMedium, looking at the human as a medium for ideas, more specifically.
Many of these new religious movements, EvolutionarySpirituality, and so on, are notable for explicit conversation about personal internal feedback systems. That is, they’re pointing us to think about the way we live, the way we think, to consciously retrain ourselves, to value things differently, and so on, and so forth. We’re not so much being pointed to focusing all of our attention on one specific moral code, or one specific loyalty or obedience, but to pay attention to the workings of ourselves, to the workings of the things around ourselves. In the case of “An Inconvenient Truth,” it’s pointing at the feedback systems of society, rather than the feedback systems within an individual. I believe that this is very different than the “keep your loyalties, obey these commandments,” that we’ve seen in the past. Scientology is so clearly in the second vein: They start their relationship with you by distributing a personality test, with the promise of adjustment. I don’t think this is unusual of the new movements.
I’m interested in noting that these new movements are competing with professional psychology. I do believe that they are right to criticize professional psychologists, who function as the modern day priestcraft: Psychologists are way too expensive, have far too little commitment to clients, and I don’t think, with their limited time of interaction, really have what it takes to solve people’s problems. I’ve personally seen way too much defeatism from psychologists as a whole. The new movements have much more “you can solve this problem,” and the tools to do it, than do the psychologists, from what I have seen. What I do like from the psychologists, is that they do experiments and publish papers, and check each other’s conclusions: That makes sense. But the professional psychologist that sees N patients with Y half-hour blocks a day for $X dollars an hour, does not make much sense to me. Call up a friend, read a book; You’re probably going to get far better results, and . There are a few (very well paid) psychologists that are really amazing, but they are out of the reach of the vast majority of people. (Besides: You can read their books, instead.)
There is a cut of the population that is interested in these sorts of films, that read these sorts of books, that respond to these sorts of stimuli.
Among this group, they are considering things such as TheHumanAsaMedium, recognition of “message” in films, critical thinking, study of personal feedback systems. We could call it “Sociology is for Everyone,” or “EvolutionarySpirituality,” or whatever.
I do wonder about people who do not consider these sorts of things. Just how many people, specifically, to the person, are in that category? What are they doing, instead? What is the present day map of thinking?
If there is a trend towards EvolutionarySpirituality, (rather than, say, just a better expression within the same small cut of society,) then I would believe that we are approaching a thing that I call: “The Coming Grand Abstraction,” or something like that.
That is, we can envision a society full of people who are paying great attention to psychological or sociological detail. If an idea is expressed, it’s not “ah, there are three people in this room of 40 who are thinking about the sociological manifestations of this idea, and are playing a tug of war over everyone else in the room about it,” it’s rather: Every single person in the room is paying attention to the implications of the idea, applying heuristics, and playing in the tug of war over the idea and it’s proper sorting and placement. It’s a different sort of economy, a different sort of democracy.
I’ve talked about how in the movies, there’s explicit attention to personal feedback systems. And, you know: The movie talks about itself as a message, for the viewer to accept or carry forwards with. (example)
The idea here is that the movie is a purification of an abstract element: The appeal to a specific change. Will Eisner wrote at the beginning of his book on comics, that stories are a way to tell a message to someone who won’t otherwise listen to you. (They’ll get bored, or something.) I remembered that, at some point, when I was 12 or something, I stopped reading stories the full way through: I just started seeking across the pages, looking for the dialog, the dialectic. When the dialog refered to some meaningful actions, I would then start scanning backwards, to find the relevant actions that demonstrate the points made in the dialog.
That is, I was really wanting to read non-fiction, I was really wanting to read straight arguments, but the only places I could find meaningful arguments that were interesting was in story books. (Would later come to become an appreciation of seeking PlainTalk as a LibraryScience method of indexing.)
So I was wanting something “pure,” stripped of all the excess baggage of the “book,” which Will Eisner would probably say is there to hook people into the story. It is PersuasiveContent.
Similar but very different: Porn communities. Porn authors storycode exactly what is in the story. “Fm D/S” means “this porn story is about a dominant older female, and a submissive male younger than the age of 18.” Not my cup of tea, but what’s interesting to note here is that people who spend a lot of time in porn start to develop very particular tastes (kinks,) they start codifying them, and they start labelling everything they read and write with these codes. It’s practically a mapping project for human sexuality.
It’s conceivable to me that one day, the spirituality groups may start similarly typed with encoding systems. “Oh, ECKANKAR? That’s a P-R SG LS (blah blah blah blah blah.)” Perhaps “P-R” stands for “planes & reincarnation,” perhaps SG stands for “spirit guides,” and “LS” for “Light & Sound system” metaphysical practice.
On LiteracyOfHumanNature, we see the “lc” (life circumstance,) “o” (changing system,) “r” (release conditions for a system,) and so on.
Wherever people find themselves, they start making sense, they start making maps, they start making codifications, and so on.
And I’m wondering: “Are we doing this more? Are we going to make pretty comprehensive maps? Is society going to turn into the mimetic evaluation & processing device? Are there going to be no more drones, people who are not evaluating (through contextualizing) their mimetic environment?”
Some times, I feel like we are walking into what I call “new closure.”
What I mean by that is: Traditionally, we’ve looked at the world as very open ended. It’s like Space: The world goes out, and out, and out. There are so many possibilities. There is so much that can happen. We don’t really know how things work, we don’t really know how things happen. You just make something up, you just do what you can, and then you go. You try it. A few people find some winning strategies, and away they go. Others don’t. But there’s plenty of space to try something new or different. The world is “open.” It’s psychologically open, it’s materially open, it’s just open-open-open. You look out to the horizon, and it just goes forever, without obstacles or pattern. Anything can happen.
“New closure” would be different.
“New closure” comes from near total understanding. You’ve got maps for everything. Psychology: Almost completely understood. You can find your position on the psychological map, figure out where you want to be, and then make the manipulations required to get yourself to your destination. You can look out at the religious or spiritual landscape, what have you, and start performing a series of automatic analyses, understanding the “genome” of all the beliefs and so on. The systems and the observations are reliable and independently verifiable.
There is an end to “two truths.” By two truths, I mean: “There’s what the psychologists say is true, and then there’s what we know, out here talking by the watercooler, that’s really true.” By two truths, I mean: “There’s what the org chart says, and then there’s what’s really real.” By two truths, I mean: “There’s what the politician says is true, and then there’s what we can clearly see.” By two truths, I mean: “There’s what the teacher says about how kids should treat other kids, and then there’s what we see out on the playground.”
If feedback systems are sufficiently tight and clear, if people are sufficiently notified at every stage of the social organism, and so on, and so forth, then there would be “new closure.”
The new closure would likely have a periphery, an edge of vision, an outer bound, that people would move themselves, and start to explore. Of course. But a core part of the environment, that was traditionally open, would now be closed, and it would likely be a major change. It might even be a noticed change, (as opposed to the majority of changes, which go largely unnoticed,) because it entails “social vision” on the parts of all people.
(Again, this may be personal delusion: It’s entirely plausible, even very likely, to at least some degree, that people see more than they speak.)
If “abstraction” continues on long enough, it would dovetail nicely with the vision of life within the MatrioshkaBrain?.
The idea of a MatrioshkaBrain? is: Take all the matter on Earth, and make it as “smart” as possible. Make it all computational mass. People plants water iron lava. Then combine in the moon. And the other planets. The asteroids. Turn it all into computational mass around the sun.
Weird idea, yes, strange idea, yes, but just hold with me for a moment, in imagination: What would life be like for the inhabitants of the Matrioshka Brain? Well, it may be very abstract. It would be full of intelligences, obviously. It’s not clear what the inhabitants of that pool of intelligences would value. Their own values would plausibly be up for programmatic manipulation.
This is not original thinking, incidentally: This is what’s going on in the “conceivable sci-fi speculation” right now: DavidBrin, VernorVinge, CoryDoctorow?, CharlesStross?, and so on. They’re looking at SecondLife, they’re looking at trends at work right now, and they’re writing RelevantStory out of what they’re seeing.
I have some predictions. Before I leap into them, I want to note that I am already successful on one account:
I have long predicted (since 1998, I think) that people would start making “SincerityFilms.” That people would be taking these abstract directions, and start making movies that were increasingly explicit. The Matrix was somewhat explicit, but many of these movies are far more so. (I suspect that, if it hasn’t happened already, people will even start calling these movies “pornographic,” to describe just how explicitly these movies communicate their specific message. Not because there’s any sex; Rather, because they are simply so direct in communicating their ideas, their memes.)
I think we’ll see completely explicit movies, at some point, in the theaters. We might see “discussion” space being opened up after movies, somehow, as post-movie trauma is taken advantage of: There’s a lot of people who want to hand out fliers after a movie. We might see organized “post-movie discussion” groups, perhaps with cooperation with the movie theater.
I think we’ll see a movie at some point that completely self-analyses, visually. We’ll see overlays over the actions that correlate the motions on the screen with the ideological framework that the movie is communicating, and the argument graphs that support it. There’s a very very miniature version of this in Ferris Beuler’s Day Off, before Ferris speaks about the Walrus (or something like that.) What I’m drawing from that example is the idea of a heads-up display (HUD) within the mainstream movie.
These ideas are a disorganized jumble. If this were a HUD, the sensor would be at the half-way point between pattern recognition, and “no tracking.”