Accelerator

There was a sudden realization I had tonight while doing the dishes, about the last four books I’ve read:

Now, these books all have something in common. I’ll give you a hint: it’s a technological post-human meta-rapture of near-infinite to infinite progress beyond the boundary of which no predictions made before could possibly hold true after. Not that that might ever stop anyone from guessing about… The Singularity. If you’ve never heard of it, apologies — you’ve been missing out on one of the more optimistic ideas about the human condition ever dreamed. Which is why I love reading books about it, no matter how impossibly inaccurate the predictions.

The idea of the singularity is based on a the idea that the paradigm-shifting points in history are getting closer and closer together: 13 billion years is the age of the universe, 5 billion for the solar system, 1 billion for complex multi-cellular life, 125 million for mammals, 1 million for humans, 50,000 for fire, 10,000 for agriculture, through all of human civilization and on to the recent awareness of Moore’s law and beyond. And, if such tendencies continue (as tendencies do), eventually a point will be reached that change happens so fast as to be… almost impossibly fast. Fascinatingly powerful idea, right?

If you’re interested in the whole mysticism of it, Terrence McKenna thought of it as a “singularity of novelty” and had all sorts of ideas like how shamanism was a probable agent of evolution. “History is the shockwave of the eschaton,” stuff like that. There’s a collaboration he did in the early 90′s with an electronic band by the name Shaman that’s quite good:

Now, as to the dish-washing revelation. Seems to me that when something is fascinating to you (and this certainly is for yours truly), the reason that’s so is usually important. Y’see, seems to me that this whole business revolves around the idea of amplification, Law of Accelerating Returns, logarithmic time and all that—acceleration (…we have title). I realize I’m being overly down-home-cowboy with my words here, if only to avoid being all highfalutin’ about philosophy; but allow me this observation:

If one’s favored worldview predicates a faster, better, more transcendent society based on the likelihood that change is not only a constant, but one that has an exponential attached to it, it follows that one should build one’s own life to be faster, better, and more transcendent to hasten along that society.

A mighty fine sup’sition on the often finicky follow-throughs of a life lived for the future, if I do say so. A more folksy way to summarize it might be: “if you find yourself talking the talk, you better walk the walk.” Why has it seemed that my life is proceeding so slowly, then? Why do appointments get pushed back, why do things stay on my to-do lists so long, how do I go weeks without a major paradigm shift? I guess I need to accelerate things. To that end, and to close things out, I wish to make a few announcements. So here goes… a few important things:

  • while I’m not going back to college, I’m going to go to some college; most likely for a summer program
  • I semi-officially work for Lynae now, as Her Man Friday (mailing clerk, webmonkey, gopher, dishes-cleaning attaché, motivational speaker)
  • I plan to start volunteering so as to get me more out of the house, and into the life of the city
  • Lynae and I are looking for a house — her Dad is looking to get property in San Francisco and we’re looking to keep living here, so it seems a good fit
  • there’s one other important thing, which can best be announced by looking at this picture of Lynae’s left hand:

New Ring (by Orin Optiglot)

We’re planning to get married sometime in 2010.

Arts and Culture

It’s real easy to feel culturally enriched if you’re lucky. I’m lucky I live in San Francisco. Why, just this weekend I went to two totally bitchin’ open houses for artist’s workspaces in my own neighborhood, experienced a dissertation’s worth of great art, and participated in a super-hip book swap where I traded in the original novelization of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi ("dweet-doo-dee-doo-weee-oop," R2-D2 beeped at the stubborn main computer) for the likes of Will Self’s “Junk Mail,” Nick Hornby’s “Polysyllabic Spree,” two short story anthologies, a Charlie Anders book, and a half-dozen other lucky literary insurgents. There was so little effort involved in doing cool stuff it almost made me feel jaded. But then I realized that I realized how cool it was. And then I was fine.

Returning Books

I’m finished. Done for. Through.

More Than Human was a good book. I can understand why it came recommended. Mating Mind, while also a good book (I’m guessing) did not come as a recommendation. It came as a lucky charm. I didn’t read it all the way through, cause that book already gave me what I needed a long while ago. And it did that by granting me just enough smarts and insight to influence human events.

Whoa… wait, what? That’s right—influence human events. Not Machiavellian machinations, but memes between me and she-who-knows. Powerful transmissions between us transmuted into something else. Our brains interfaced on a level commensurate with the venerable 28.8 modem at first, and then we upgraded to wireless ISDN. Which—granted—isn’t the best service but if you live in Belize who’s going to complain? This’d be fine if I could read her blog (and by blog I mean mind) across town. But wireless service isn’t that great in Belize.

To stretch an already thin metaphor across a perilously dumb (Central American?) chasm, we file-shared. We traded ideas. We’d sit around going “Oh, have you heard of this?” “Do you know about that?” “How about other thing?” It got to the point where our… our “pings” were just… what’s true computer jargon for ‘clogging up the hard drive till you just really have to defrag cause you’re unwilling to delete all those really good, but infrequently-listened-to electronic/ambient tracks?’ That. We had that. Then I started reading “The Mating Mind,” synthesized it with my own experience, and wrote out what is I daresay a rather entertaining little essay. Proud of that.

Call it a confirmation bias, but it changed the whole tone and our… our talking, it took on a different character. Less communicating and more communication. Actually received a genuine transmission in the form of a book—sure you could guess which one by now. And I read it. And I’m done with it. I liked it, I liked what it said about the person on the other end of the line, but it didn’t change the fact that nowadays me and she-who-knows aren’t exactly practicing telegraph operators. So now I’m done, and now what?

Later today I’m returning the Mating Mind back to the library whence it luckily found me. Gluttony is a vice, you know… even for information. And the other book? Well, haven’t figured that out yet. But I’ve been getting an idea. Not on the internet, not in science fiction books loaned to you by nerdy girls, is anybody familiar with real psychic transmissions?