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Commentary on The Ouroboros Code

October 17, 2019 Leave a comment Go to comments

The Ouroboros Code

Reality’s Digital Alchemy Self-Simulation
Bridging Science and Spirituality


I just finished reading the new book by my friend Antonin Tuynman called The Ouroboros Code. In addition to being a great read, the book devotes an entire chapter to Multisense Realism (Exciting!). I highly recommend the book, as it really covers the issue of consciousness in its current 2019 state while avoiding the pitfalls of so many other books. Tuynman explores the most interesting frontiers of consciousness via philosophy, neuroscience, and information theory to arrive at a thesis that is surprisingly similar to my own. I really enjoy both his style of writing and his thorough, yet concise approach and look forward to his future publications.

I will leave the real reviewing of the book to others, but suffice it to say, anyone who is interested in philosophy of mind, AI, theoretical physics, the brain, alchemy, and the metaphysics of the apocalypse will certainly be satisfied. On the vast majority of points that are covered in the book, I find myself in solid agreement, particularly with his stance on “free will” as part of the ground of existence rather than an illusion. What I wanted to do here is to lay out the few points on which our views seem to diverge, or where I have had some additional ideas.

“Can information exist without having been encoded by something external to it?”  p. 43

I say ‘Yes’, in the sense that if a conscious experience includes intellectual kinds of awareness, then anything that is presented within that experience can have informative qualities. To the archaeologist, the stratified appearance of large outcroppings of rock is understood to be a ‘fossil record’, i.e. a decodable text of mineral placements that was never encoded by anything. This answers another question on the same page:

“Can anything exist without information at all?”

Yes. I think that our current use of the term information is loose enough to either include or exclude conscious experience/aesthetic qualities, but I would recommend that in the future, the term information be disambiguated to require a conscious experience in which the particular qualia of abstract thinking are present. I think that all other kinds of sensation (sights, sounds, smells, flavors, tangible objects, etc which I would call ‘subpersonal’ and ‘semaphoric’) can in theory exist as is, without any informative associations. As much as I appreciate the idea of cosmosemiosis (covered in the book), and have myself considered the universe as a semiotic meta-text in that way, I now allow the possibility of a perfectly valid universe of experiences devoid of any informative content…a “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

Of course, the addition of semiotic association and the cognitive-cogitative sense of sense-making  (thought, intellect) adds an infinitely rich layer onto the base level qualities that I can imagine existing prior to ‘personal’ types of experience, but that does not mean that a universe of immediate sensation is not possible or worth experiencing in its own right. It may be that empirically, this is not the way that the universe comes about, and that the intellectual/semiotic sense of representation is part of the fabric of the cosmos. I don’t pretend to know the true history of the cosmos, I say only that our inability to intellectually conjure up new qualia palettes such as an alternate color spectrum suggest that either semiosis alone is not sufficient to generate non-semiotic qualia, or our human intellect is constrained to a particular psychic sandbox.

My position on information is that there is no such thing as a phenomenon which is only information. There is no thing in the universe that exists as a representation that is not also a presentation. The fossils exist before they are examined and interpreted by archaeologists. There is no alphabet but written shapes or spoken sounds that are used as-an-alphabet within the context of an intellectually enabled experience. No intellect, no alphabet, even though shapes and sounds remain. In some ways, I would expect that intellectual conditioning desaturates the aesthetic richness of the shapes and sounds, while in other ways, learning a language opens up our perception to discrete nuances that would otherwise be lost to the entropy of noise. An infant may learn to love the inflections and tones of speech long before any symbolic associations are suspected.

In Multisenserealism (MSR) terms, if information is a difference that makes a difference, qualia are the “afference” which provide the possibility of detection of the aesthetic quality of ‘di-fference’ and of additional significance (‘efference’-saturated afference). Information can only begin to exist where there is a nested afference of afference. The property of ‘difference’ is in the eye of the beholder, or the capacities and renderings of the sense modality doing the beholding (this was discussed in the book also).

According to the philosopher Wittgenstein there are no things or objects in reality but only relations. p. 52

Here I would ask why objects can’t be a type of relation and still be things in reality? I see objecthood as a function of the tangible-tactile sense modality. They are renderings of experiences that are on a different scale than our own, but those renderings are as real as anything else. It’s all renderings, so we don’t need to hold on to the idea of renderings as mere ‘simulation’ or non-objects.

Relations at their most fundamental level can only be a functional process of mutual information exchange, which is continuously updated. The relations are expressed as vibrations, which result in resonance patterns of standing waves, but what we observe is a form with a kind of stability. p. 53

I would not consider that the most fundamental level, rather I see it as a semaphoric rendering of the far sub-personal fringe of our human awareness. Quantum experiments are second-hand perceptions conditioned by instruments that we have designed to amplify certain sense modalities (tangible, quantitative, logical) and filter out others (qualitative, aesthetic, intuitive). We have basically used math to build math-seeking devices and then invented a mathematical metaphysics to describe it. What I’m getting at is that just because quantum events occur on the far micro-scale of our touch-body-world doesn’t make them fundamental in the absolute sense. On the contrary, I propose that the fundamental level of any given sense experience is in the center of the spectrum of that experience, whereas for a person, the astrophysical and quantum extremes would be the most aesthetically impoverished ranges of rendering. For us, a shoe isn’t merely a form with a kind of stability, it is a legitimately solid, static object. To be able to consider the decay of particles on the micro level, or the long term cycle of the shoe from before it was manufactured to after it breaks down in a landfill involves changing scale. I think it is important to realize that on those other scales, the shoe does not exist.

Once we stop seeing the microphysical world that we infer from our instruments and calculations as the world that we actually live in, we can let go of what I see as a kind of  ‘gee-whiz’ holdover from the 20th century that demands every natural appearance be reduced and redefined by a sophisticated explanation of how reality ‘really’ is. This is not to say that germs, for example, don’t exist in our world, but that the reality of our experience of health and disease resistance is influenced by other factors as well, including ‘top down’ personal and transpersonal influences (placebo effect, fate/synchronicity). Yes, if we get a cold, there are going to be rhinoviruses in the cells of a body, but that doesn’t mean that the cure has to manifest from that level. Instead of assuming that the most extreme, peripheral scales of time and distance are hosts to the most fundamentally real and causally effective phenomena, I see the totality of the scales and the radiant center of their overlap to be the most whole, natural, fundamental, and ‘real’.

This gives rise to a new critique of post-classical physical theory, beginning with electromagnetic fields and waves and extending through particle-wave superposition of quantum theory. I propose that our interpretations of these phenomena are biased by a centuries old assumption of peripheral scale fundamentalism. We are looking at our native shoe description as less real than the sophisticated molecular description. We see wave patterns in the synchronized changes of physical properties of physical structures and their movements and have inferred an electromagnetic waving-ness force traveling through space to make those changes from the outside. In truth, we have never seen an electromagnetic wave itself, or a ‘vibration’ of space as independent from a physical object or instrument that is vibrating. For all of the reification of spacetime under Relativity, Einstein’s original papers seem to me to regard spacetime not necessarily as a concrete condition which contains physical objects and energies, but as an abstract ‘reference body’…a fictional schema that we can use to predict and control the power of physical things to define each other and their behavior.

Space, time, even energy and mass may not be entities of their own but relationship protocols through which physical properties of physical objects are modified. We may have taken the counter-intuitive impulses of 20th century philosophers and physicists too seriously, and given ourselves a useful but inaccurate creation myth based on ethereal abstractions which mask the role played by sensory-motive capacities ‘all the way down’. Energy may be nothing other than a symptom of an economy of shared sensation which is common to tangible materials. The idea of ‘vibrations’ may reflect more of the semaphoric level of conscious experience beneath the personal ‘phoric’ level, and it may be foregrounding the waving instead of what is waving. There may be no continuous flow of information exchange that gives rise to an appearance of simulated tangibility, rather, there is a solid state of tactile sensitivity which need only be informed on when changing events rise to the level of more personal awareness. This may not be a noisy universe where invisible and intangible energy waves fill every vacuum, but rather a silent universe where visibility and tangiblity become available on a case-by-case, node-to-node basis. The radio waves don’t travel through space, they jump ‘instantaneously’ (in their scale) from physical antenna to physical antenna. The only wave is the waving of signal intensity and its correlation with physical scale. It is a symptom of multiple scales of experience and expression interacting from the top down and bottom up. The microphysical, semaphoric world does not necessarily give rise to the macrophysical, ‘phoric’ description of the world, they may both be parallel worlds that overlap only in trivial ways that provide causal coincidence. There may be no power for intangible properties to ’emerge’ from physical events. Stability may be no more or less of an illusion than vibration, they are just reflections of the directness or indirectness of the perceptual scale.

Also, in this way structure can be considered a form of fossilized sense. p. 55

It’s possible, but it is also possible that the fossilized appearance is a reflection of mismatched rates of perceptual sampling, like when a video camera stops the blades of a helicopter by syncing sample rates with their frequency of rotation. Astrophysical scales of experience are much slower and larger than our own. On the atomic scale of experience, our personal sense experience may appear fossilized.

In my book “Transcendental Metaphysics” I argue, that the ground of existence is primordial consciousness or sentience if you prefer. From this formless, all-pervading field, informational units arise… p.56

I think we can be even more parsimonious and set aside the assumption of fields or of consciousness as a separate container of experiences. At the absolute scale, there may not need to be a formless akasha that connects all experiences, there may instead just be a totality of experience. By analogy, what I see in front of my eyes are a continuous parade of visible forms, connected only by their common adjacency in a single scope of visibility. The visibility is just the capacity to see and render sights spatially. There wouldn’t also need to be a kind of invisible field out there from which visible units arise, the field is metaphorical. What is literally happening is that sights appear ‘within’ the sense of visibility itself. The sense channel is what is modulating its qualities of color and brightness, but the sense channel may be nothing more than the presentation of those qualities. The presences may be the channel. Access to intangible colors and shapes may be what sight ultimately is. There’s no separate field of access-ness, access is just the limitation of some presentations from the total pool of all presentations. Local sense is a partition of the totality of sense, but the totality is concrete sense presences – feelings, sights, sounds, thoughts, etc. – not abstract computations or pseudo-tangible energies that generate sense appearances.

In this conception of a Boundaryless Absolute Pansensitivity (BAP), no windows are required because there are no walls. This ‘everything’ awareness may not be accessible while we are alive, and even the most advanced meditation techniques may only present us with the ‘pure glass’ of the window that separates our individual mortality from the BAP totality – a window that only exists within the temporary partitions of mortalized conscious experience and not from the perspective of the Absolute.

Human consciousness is like the middle floor of an enormous mansion with many windows and mirrors, trap doors and secret stairways to other levels. We have indoor gardens and outdoor balconies. We are the Ouroboros Code on steroids…Ouroboros to the Ouroboro’th power; a labyrinth of labyrinths. I suggest that from the perspective of the Absolute, all of the mansion walls become transparent, and all of the windows are revealed as one-way mirrors.

Later on in the book this quote appears:

Because the very essence of consciousness is abstraction and integration, which is also the very essence of all phenomenological natural processes…p.108

I question that. I would say that abstraction and integration are key features of our personal consciousness, but I think that is because intellectual sense is so developed in Homo sapiens. From a more universal perspective, I would say that the very essence of consciousness is direct, concrete aesthetic participation.

Also similar here:

In the broadest sense Intelligence is then (in imitation of Ben Goertzel): “The ability to achieve complex goals”.

That seems to miss the mark somewhat for me. Someone can be very intelligent without having or achieving any goals. I would say instead that intelligence is the degree of sensitivity in the Cognitive-Cogitative sense modality. Intelligence uses algorithms to offload the discomfort of that participation, as controlled thinking is a form of personal effort. Algorithms are a mindless replacement for intelligence…a useful substitute.

I like Tuynman’s neologism ‘Concienergy’. Since I am skeptical of ‘energy’ I might use other neologisms of my own for the absolute context of consciousness, maybe ‘ference’ or ‘Holophorence’.

Because reductively everything IS de facto the same […] the universe is ultimately a digital process, in which there is only addition and subtraction…

I see more of a dialectic. The universe is the same in the sense that it is all one self-diffracting aesthetic-participatory phenomenon, I think that all of its diffraction and recursiveness is counterbalanced by its agenda to create the miraculously unprecedented. True, this agenda seems bound on all sides by ever more labyrinthine constraints, but something like the visible spectrum seems to be completely unlike anything else.

Matter is a primitive expression form of consciousness. p. 254

I sort of agree in that matter is relatively primitive and it is a conscious experience, but would characterize it as a form of expression reduction. It’s not something that leads to more consciousness, I think matter is how the truncated surfaces of conscious experiences appear through the tactile-tangible sense modality when they need to be rendered as alien or peripheral to the person-subject sense modality. This reduction is presumably mutual. I hold a coffee cup and experience the cup as nothing but a tangible shape in my hand. I would expect that the geological-chemical scale of experience which comprises what I touch as the matter of the cup renders all of human activity in similarly inert or insignificant terms.

The absolute consciousness projects itself in its relative form(s) thereby giving it content. This self-penetration creates a digital, binary basis for the universe.

Here again, I propose that the digital appearance is an artifact of the semaphoric, sub-personal scale of experience when seen from the phoric/personal scale. Our naive sense of the world is just as real and valid a basis as those borrowed from other scales and perspectives. I see the Ouroboran agent as a Venn-diagram-like overlapping of experiential histories rather than a read-write head formatting a disk. More stained glass and prisms than 1s and 0s.

Many thanks to Antonin for his great writing and top notch representation of MSR. Of course all of my points above are made in the spirit of ‘yes and’ or ‘yes but’ rather than ‘no, wrong’. My view continues to evolve and I would not be at all surprised if it eventually Ouroborosizes itself in the future. It was a unique pleasure to read a great book that includes its own writing in it, with my own writing included as part of it. Talk about meta. Will everyone who reads this book find themselves mentioned? 🙂


  1. October 18, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    I am so grateful for your thoughtful, and yet, approachable articulation of such core ideas about the human experience. More and more, I sense the significance of the aesthetic experience as primary because of the awareness of the way in which the very nature of the human apparatus shapes and colors our perceptions as participants in the world as we know it.

    As this awareness of “multisense realism” increasingly becomes a sort of baseline for understanding my experience, it permits the knowing of inherent limitations due to the apparatus, but includes the possibility of expansive opportunities because of the awareness of the larger ouroboros cosmos we participate in. We are in something much grander than the feeling of being a separate accidental being allows. Yes, any conclusion we may come to expresses the nature of our relationship to experience through the senses. The hall of mirrors is indeed our friend, as it informs, and is not necessarily something to meditate away but to participate in more faithfully.

    • November 1, 2019 at 11:35 pm

      Thank you so much! I just saw this.

      • irad bernstein
        November 25, 2019 at 4:33 pm

        ptero9) I am so grateful for your thoughtful, and yet, approachable articulation of such core ideas about the human experience. More and more, I sense the significance of the aesthetic experience as primary because of the awareness of the way in which the very nature of the human apparatus shapes and colors our perceptions as participants in the world as we know it.

        i) Is a dream, shapes and colors included, a primary human experience, and/ or aesthetic experience?

        “Our dream is not reality” (CW)

        i) Is dreaming a part of reality, just not all reality itself?

        Where is a dream, precisely? Where and how does a dream become… aesthetic?

      • December 26, 2019 at 7:14 pm

        I would say that a dream is a direct aesthetic experience, probably not limited to humans. A dream is aesthetic because it is sights, sounds, feelings, etc.

        I think that dreaming is part of the totality but the totality is much more than what we would call ‘reality’.

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