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Friday, April 24
by Rich on April 24, 2009 02:08PM (PDT)
Reference: 100 Years of Sri Aurobindo on Evolution
This is the first part of a longer meditation on the future bodies. I have entitled this section “Goodbye To All That” which is the title of Robert Graves autobiography in which he recounts his experiences in the trenches in WWI. What he is saying goodbye to is the passing of an era: of the naive, carefree, class based culture of Edwardian England, which did not survive the war. Sri Aurobindo wrote the passages referenced here at about the time the Edwardian era ended and the great war began. Because our views and valorization of nature are cultural constructions, to appreciate why Sri Aurobindo extrapolates a certain form of naturalism into the future body we must first excavate his conceptions of “what is natural.”
The context of his writing referenced here on evolution and the future body seems to flow naturally out of a post-romantic protestant view of Nature he must have been exposed to growing up in England which lived on well into the Edwardian era. To the British upper classes it was a view of nature as pristine, which they enjoyed in well manicured English country gardens, not yet smeared with the blood of the trenches. Above all nature was clearly distinct from the machinery given to us by culture.
In forming his view of nature Sri Aurobindo took account of Ruskin's, Carlyle's, and Arnold's critique of industrialism. This view of nature was certainly valuable for sacramentalizing nature at a time when the Industrial Revolution was rapidly desecrating it. Today however, the interpenetration of nature by information technologies and genetic engineering has added enough complexity to what it means to be natural/human that we can no longer escape environments which are increasingly mediated by technology. Electricity undergirds much of our phenomenological experience of the world, bio-technology sustains our physical presence in it. In such a brave new world the continuity of the already developed evolutionary form with all its biological naturalism seems to be a reality to which we have already said goodbye
But, what is important for us in Sri Aurobindo's vision of the future body .... more »
Wednesday, October 22
by Rich on October 22, 2008 05:20AM (PDT)
If anything Sri Aurobindo's vision is its own genre of Utopian vision. In a very real a sense it is the “completion of Utopian visions” (the divinization of Earth) Anyone in fact living in a community dedicated to Sri Aurobindo's vision lives in an Utopian community, which today might be called an intentional community. Fredric Jameson's Archaeologies of the Future, is in an omni-directional interrogation of history, class, structure, wish, will, imagination, transcendence, and post-humanity of Utopias
Jameson begins his study in full recognition of the spiritual Utopian urge. He quotes here from the evolutionary Science Fiction of Olaf Stapleton :
“It must not be supposed that this strange mental community blotted out the personalities of the individual explorers. Human speech has no accurate terms to describe our particular relationship . It would be as untrue to say that we had lost our individuality , or were dissolved in a communal individuality as to say that we were all the while distinct individuals . Through the pronoun “I” now applied to us all collectively, the pronoun “we” also applied to us."
I one respect namely unity of consciousness we were a single experiencing individual , yet at the same time in a very important and delightful manner distinct from one another. Through there was only a single communal “I” there was also, so to speak, a manifold and variegated “us” an observed company of very diverse personalities , each of whom expressed creatively his own utpian contribution to the whole enterprise of cosmical exploration, while all were bound together in a tissue of subtle personal relationships.”
Along with Lyotard, Jameson is one of the two beacons of post-modern cultural history. Although Jameson is perfectly cognizant of the failures of Utopian vision and the most recent anti-Utoipianism that runs through post-modernism, he probes the issue further to uncover what he calls an anti-anti Utopianism.
In this work rather than just applying post-structuralist scholarship as a solvent for exposing the ideologemes of Utopian fantasies, or simply deconstructing the “doxa” couched within the discursive formations of social, economic, and psychic, Utopian dimensions, his aim is also to reconstruct - and like Zizek whose wish it is to redeem the history of failed totalizing Utopian visions - he seems to wish to recover a vision of a new imaginative totality, while suggesting ways to remain mindful of the reification involved in collapsing the Utopian vision into any one of its dimensions
Utopian communities and Ashrams that aspire to something exceeding their humanity would do well to heed Jameson's warning below. If the intentional community one resides in fails to be mindful of how its multi-dimensional values and vision can collapse into class, cultural, ethnic, or personal battles its evolution will not end in the Superman, but rather as Nietzsche phrase it the contemptible Last Man.
" In addition we have been plagued by the perpetual reversion of difference and otherness into the same, and the discovery that our most energetic imaginative leaps into radical alternatives were little more than the projections of our own social moment and historical or subjective situation: the post-human thereby seeming more distant and impossible than ever"
The review of a portion of Jameson book is insightful even though its author Peter Fitting self-revealingly discloses he does not completely have his hands around it. (rc) more »
Sunday, April 27
by Rich on April 27, 2008 09:11PM (PDT)
The question of identity is a clear postmodernist concern, and critic Scott Bukatman has added that he believes the issue of human definition is clearly central to the work, and thus the ambiguity is crucial'(14). This view is similar to the philosopher Slavoj Zizek. He argues that Blade Runner' stages a confrontation with our own replicant-status', so it is only when we as humans realize that our notion of self is very much constructed by the world around us, that we can become a truly human subject' ... more »
Tuesday, March 18
by Ron on March 18, 2008 05:17PM (PDT)
Arthur C. Clarke, a writer whose seamless blend of scientific expertise and poetic imagination helped usher in the space age, died early Wednesday in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he had lived since 1956. He was 90.
Rohan de Silva, an aide to Mr. Clarke, said the author died after experiencing breathing problems, The Associated Press reported. Mr. Clarke had post-polio syndrome for the last two decades and used a wheelchair.
From his detailed forecast of telecommunications satellites in 1945, more than a decade before the first orbital rocket flight, to his co-creation, with the director Stanley Kubrick, of the classic science fiction film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Mr. Clarke was both prophet and promoter of the idea that humanity’s destiny lay beyond the confines of Earth. ... more »
Monday, October 15
by Ron on October 15, 2007 03:26PM (PDT)
When Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize for literature last week, my first thought was: What a victory for science fiction!
In 1979, three decades after her first novel, "The Grass Is Singing," and 17 years after the release of her landmark "The Golden Notebook," Lessing published "Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta." It was the first book in a five-volume outer-space fantasy, "Canopus in Argos: Archives," that aggressively broke with naturalism.
Today, such a novel would be no big deal; literature is full of time travel, gender ambiguity and that nifty catch-all "magical realism." But in the 1970s, mainstream fiction took pains to set itself apart -- and above -- genres like science fiction. "Shikasta" was met with jeers. ... more »
Sunday, July 29
by Ron on July 29, 2007 10:41AM (PDT)
...it was around that time, the mid-1990s, that fiction—all fiction—finally became obsolete as a delivery system for big ideas. Whatever the cause—dwindling attention spans, underfunded schools, something to do with the Internet—the fact is these days that if a Top Thinker wakes up one morning aghast at man’s inhumanity to man, he’s probably going to dash off a 300-word op-ed and e-mail it to The New York Times, or better still, just stick it up on his blog, typos and all, not cancel his appointments for the next seven years so he can bang out War and Peace in a shed. If one truly has something to say, seems to be the consensus, then why not just come out and say it? If your goal is to persuade and be believed about the truth of a particular point, then what would possess you to choose to work in a genre whose very name, fiction, explicitly warns the reader not to believe a word she reads?
This trend in global epistemology would probably have made science fiction irrelevant all by itself, I reckon. But the genre has an even bigger dragon to slay with its new profusion of cheesy, dwarf-wrought superswords: the scarcity of foreseeable future.
The world is speeding up, you may have noticed, and the rate at which it’s speeding up is speeding up, and the natural human curiosity that science fiction was invented to meet is increasingly being met by reality. Why would I spend my money on a book about amazing-but-fake technology when we’re only a few weeks away from Steve Jobs unveiling a cell phone that doubles as a jetpack and a travel iron? As for the poor authors, well, who would actually lock themselves in a shed for years to try to predict the future when, in this age, you can’t even predict the present? ... more »
Thursday, April 12
by Ron on April 12, 2007 10:28AM (PDT)
...If we define the topic as the relation between the reader's, the character's, and the author's willingness to believe, then the matter is very different in Valis. In Valis the text does not offer the reader the incredible as already labeled incredible — zany or horrifying, extreme or bizarre. The incredible is offered as ordinary, as reportage. Is not this the frisson worked by this novel? Anyone reading a novel such as Ubik has to accept that the novel offers something visionary and phantasmagoric. Whether one then emphasizes the novel's treatment of the deliquescence of commodity in late capitalism, or, with George Slusser, one then emphasizes its rendition of ``historicity'' in relation to an open, Emersonian event horizon, one has to pay attention to that explicit inventiveness which constitutes the shimmering portal... through which any reader gains entrance to that novel and others like it. Valis is different. ...
Many of Dick's values are strongly liberal and humanist. He values the little guy who dissents, resists, and persists, if necessary, alone; he values the single humble act, the individual saved..., the broken pot fixed, the embrace of two strangers in the dark and rain-spattered forecourt of a gas station... And liberal values, and hopes, are subjected to intense torsion, or distortion, in Dick's novels. [Fredrick] Jameson has traced this in Dr. Bloodmoney, whose bizarre cast's weird actions he sees as Dick's response to a threatened "leftist" belief that good and evil in history can be attached to individuals. Dick values that which is unassimilated — unassimilated into the mechanical and collective, into an oppressive society, into a single godhead, into entropy; but the urgency of assertion and defense of that value leads him to break all traditional definitions of the human individual. Liberal humanism, passed through this sieve, emerges as intuition of the potential value in androids, gods, animals, robots: anywhere and wherever life asserts a distinctness, rather than threatening it. The issue must be fraught with danger: vindication of the human, if it is to be achieved, will only be effective if the human has been profoundly jeopardized. ... more »
Tuesday, April 10
by Ron on April 10, 2007 11:30AM (PDT)
...Unlike most religious seers, Dick did not approach his visions with anything like certitude. Dick distrusted reification of any sort (his novels constantly wage war against the process that turns people and ideas into things), and so he refused to solidify his experiences into a belief system. ...Dick approached his theophany (or "in-breaking of God") as artistic material, reworking it in his writings with an artist's commitment to irony, craft, and a political bite. Even in his private journals, he constantly liquefies his revelations, writing with a modern thinker's sense of the tentativeness of speculative thought.
... Dick's Black Iron Prison imaginatively captured the "disciplinary apparatus" of power analyzed by historian Michel Foucault. Demonstrating that prisons, mental institutions, schools, and military establishments all share similar organizations of space and time, Foucault argued that a "technology of power" was distributed throughout social space, enmeshing human subjects at every turn. Foucault argued that liberal social reforms are only cosmetic brush-ups of an underlying mechanism of control. As Dick put it, "The Empire never ended."
"...today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups... unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. "
As Jean Baudrillard has argued into the ground, simulation rather than representation has become the defining characteristic of cultural signs and artifacts in our time. ... The technological simulacrum creates its own reality, which Baudrillard calls the "hyperreal," a kind of ersatz parody of Plato's ideal world of forms. For example, when you download a printer driver from the Internet or record a CD onto digital tape, you do not "copy" the information so much as replicate a hyperreal object.
... As an exhausted rationalist, Baudrillard simply abandoned himself to a morbid celebration of the pixel apocalypse, giving up any notion of resistance or transformation while ignoring the messy realities that gum up the works of all such grand intellectual scenarios. But Dick never gave up his commitment to the "authentically human," the "viable, elastic organism which can bounce back, absorb, and deal with the new." He also recognized that simulacra lie deep in our souls, and that we are not so far from the spiritual paradigms of the ancient world, with their camouflage spirits, talking images, and automata gods. And so Dick redeployed the gnostic struggle for authenticity and freedom within the hard-sell universe of simulation. The world is a prison not because of its materiality—which was the opinion of the ancient Gnostics—but because of the hidden orders of power and control it houses: the various corporate, political, and ideological archons herding us into increasingly compelling synthetic worlds. ... more »
Tuesday, December 26
by Ron on December 26, 2006 02:45PM (PST)
The Christmas Holidays are an opportunity for me to relax by reading some fun books unrelated to my normal research or work. This year, Kim and I have been absorbed in two books by Dan Simmons, one of my favorite science fiction authors: "Ilium" and "Olympos." Here's part of the slip-cover description:
"From the multiple award-winning author of the 'Hyperion Cantos' — one of the most acclaimed and popular series in contemporary science fiction — comes a huge and powerful epic of high-tech gods, human heroes, total war, and the extraordinary transcendence of ordinary beings.
From the towering heights of Olympos Mons on Mars, the mighty Zeus and his immortal family of gods, goddesses, and demigods look down upon a momentous battle, observing — and often influencing — the legendary exploits of Paris, Achilles, Hector, Odysseus, and the clashing armies of Greece and Troy. ..."
And here are the first few paragraphs of "Ilium":
Sing, O Muse, of the rage of Achilles, of Peleus' son, murderous, man-god, fated to die, sing of the rage that cost the Achaeans so many good men and sent so many vital, hearty souls down to the dreary House of Death. And while you're at it, O Muse, sing of the rage of the gods themselves; so petulant and so powerful here on their new Olympos, and of the rage of the post-humans, dead and gone though they might be, and of the rage of those few true humans left, self-absorbed and useless though they may have become. While you are singing, O Muse, sing also of the rage of those thoughtful, sentient, serious but not-so-close-to human beings out there dreaming under the ice of Europa, dying in the sulfur-ash of Io, and being born in the cold folds of Ganymede. ... more »
Saturday, November 4
by Ron on November 4, 2006 05:32PM (PST)
... Something had touched her, not her skin, deeper. At first it was just the awareness that she was not alone. By herself, on the dock, in her bare feet, she now shared her space with someone as real as she--as welcome and strangely familiar as a beloved friend.
She felt years of burden lift. For a moment, she basked in a warm sensation of infinite reprieve.
No judgment. No punishment.
Kaye shivered. Her tongue moved over her lips. A trickle of silvery water seemed to run through her head. The trickle became a rivulet, then an insistent creek flowing down the back of her neck into her chest. It was cool and electric and pure, like stepping out of the sweltering heat of a summer day into an underground spring. But this spring spoke, though never with words. It had a particular and distinctive perfume, like astringent flowers.
It was alive, and she could not shake the feeling that she had known about it all along. Like molecules finally fitting, making a whole--yet not. Nothing biological whatsoever. Something other. ... more »
Monday, October 9
by Ron on October 9, 2006 11:37AM (PDT)
This site is intended to allow science fiction fans to get an impression of the true scale of their favorite science fiction spacecraft by being able to compare ships across genres, as well as being able to compare them with contemporary objects with which they are probably familiar. ... more »
Thursday, December 8
Friday, September 30
by Ron on September 30, 2005 05:00PM (PDT)
This Topic contains the entire text of the remarkable new science fiction book "Accelerando," by Charles Stross.
I recommend reading it for a mind-blowing near-future drama documenting a series of "Singularities" caused by continuing exponential evolution of science and technology. It presents in vivid terms one scenario for the intricate potential interactions between science, technology & culture. It's fine food for thought and discussion about how Integral Yoga might interact with and perhaps modify such singularities. more »
A Review of Dipesh Chakrabarty's "Provincializing Europe" by Amit Chaudhuri (London Review of Books) Debashish
AntiMatters vol 3 no 4 is out koantum
Classicism, post-classicism and Ranjabati Sircar’s work: re-defining the terms of Indian contemporary dance discourses by Alessandra Lopez y Royo Debashish
LACMA 111909 - Debashish Banerji Debashish
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler