Destroying the “World”

November 30, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments


Borrowing this nice diagram (above) from a post by Ethan Hein, I have cannibalized it to show how the concept of the “world” can be transcended.


John Locke’s decision to make properties of bodies in space “primary” and properties of experience “secondary” reveals the Western bias toward the public and away from the private. In this way, all bodies are assumed to have an independent presence outside of any perspective from which they might be viewed, and experiences are assumed to be entirely dependent upon the interaction of physical bodies.

The twentieth century should have given us a clue. With Freud and Jung revealing that the depths of human psychology transcended our conscious expectations, and Einstein proving the relativity of mass, energy, time, and space, the surprises of Quantum Mechanics very nearly opened the door to a fully integrated worldview in the 20th century. As if mirroring the turning of the political tide, the 1980s began to turn progressive relativity on its head, and restore a kind of digital absolute. Instead of profound principles of contextual aesthetics, the revolution in physics championed a model of blind probability and computation.

The model that I propose does not contain a “world” which is independent of concrete aesthetics. What we see and feel is not the entirety of what can be seen and felt, but neither is it a “model” of an unfelt, unseen “world.” It is easy to think of parts of our brain as mapping to a model of our body. Different regions of the brain correspond to particular regions of the body. The same is true, however, of our emotions and thoughts. To be consistent, our emotions and thoughts would also have to be models, not of the brain (because the brain is part of the body, which is only a model), but just models period.

There is a double standard that leaks in with the Western-Lockean model. If we say that the body we experience is a model of the body in the world, then we are stuck with the consequence that the mind we experience is also a model of part of that same body in the world. Except that it clearly isn’t. What we think about is not modeled isomorphically in the activity of the brain. There is no computation that looks like cranberry sauce tastes, certainly not without one of these imaginative/imaginary “minds” to make the connection.

If we instead take the unreality of our model seriously, it makes more sense to turn the whole configuration inside out. If our experience models the brain’s activities, then so too must our experience of the world be a model. Since it is in that modeled world that we find the brain in the first place, we now have no reason to believe that the primary properties of bodies in space are really primary. In fact, the whole notion of primary and secondary, interior and exterior, could only be part of the modeling process. There is no indication of any kind of noumenal ‘world’ other than the inferences which we make through phenomenal experience.

To the contrary, all reports from explorers of consciousness report a deep unity of awareness – a vastness of united presence or absence which underlies all phenomena. We do not see a Platonic factory of disembodied mathematics behind the curtain of secondary forms. In fact, forms themselves are completely irrelevant to mathematics. Geometry as we know it, shapes and angles and lines, is entirely superfluous to a quantum-digital universe. Geometry is the stuff of visual presentation and tactile, tangible manipulation. There is no geometry in a vacuum, no visible ‘bits’ or digital bodies which must draw these characters as you see them on the screen. What point could there be of modeling the invisible with the visible? What computer needs to see itself compute?

It works much better if we flip the model over, and see that the glue which holds mathematics together is consciousness. When we infer that a quantity is diminishing toward zero, we are inferring that intellectually. It is a practice of intuition or telepathy – a logical feeling that we have about patterns and what they imply. Bohm’s implicate order, I would say, can be understood more clearly as private physics. Not a disembodied order, but the precipitation of lower order sense within higher order sense. The emergence of cymatic patterns, for instance, in a layer of salt on a vibrating drum, is not a higher geometry which unites the salt, it is an exposure of more primitive logics – repetitive, dumb representations.  Cosmic wallpaper.

Higher intelligence requires not only adding ‘complexity’ to such dumb representations, or increasing the computing resources, but an increase in sensitivity to implicit depths. The multiplexing of sensory contexts is subtractive to the point of simplicity. Something like pain or red is not a complex representation, but just the opposite, a simple and direct presence. These qualities could not be any more primary, from our perspective. It is through this primordial simplicity that true novelty ‘diverges’ from the absolute. Unrepeatable moments made of unrepeatable moments which are made to seem to repeat when viewed from a distance. The “world” is a creation of distancing, of the alienated perspective of elaborately nested subjectivity.

  1. November 30, 2013 at 6:35 pm


  2. phiguy110
    December 18, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    “Something like pain or red is not a complex and direct experience, not a representation.” Shouldn’t that be, “Something like pain or red is a complex and direct experience, not a representation.” Just want to make sure I understand.

    • December 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      Ah, thanks. I fixed it: “Something like pain or red is not a complex representation, but just the opposite, a simple and direct presence.”

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