The specifics are kind of silly: they annouced with great fanfare that they would be imposing new rules on their social media platforms that banned "negativity". I was apparently too negative (I wasn't really) and got kicked off, which is not a big deal except that I don't feel like paying people who treat their customers that way, and as it happens I have other options, so toodle-oo.
Roam the product is pretty great, but unfortunately Roam as an organization appears to be run by insane cultists and I can no longer recommend using the product. I'm switching to Athens which is an open-source clone.
And it isn't just me being treated imperiously, it's also other people who had put much more of themselves into supporting the Roam community. Which basically torpedoed all the good will they had been building for years. It's not so much that such conduct is offensive (although it is) as it is a sign of utter ineptitude, and breaks the trust required to use their product.
Note: does not work with Athens which grabs this for the useless ~~foo~~ format. Also with the shift key. MF. command-option-control-. works.
According to them, a major figure in a minor strand of philosophy, process philosophy, includes Whitehead, Heraclitus, and more recently Deleuze who is mostly responsible for revived interest in Bergson.
Big debate with Einstein; over Einstein's physical ideas about time, and Bergson's durée, which is fundamental to his thing and I guess denotes something like experiential time, although I don't fully understand it. (see Duration (philosophy) - Wikipedia)
Any fixed belief, or fixed emotional response, is a “reference point.” We use reference points as bricks to build the prison of identity. In meditation, we allow that structure to collapse. When the roof falls in, we see the boundless sky. That is the vastness of nonduality, where purity and impurity are equally meaningless.
I have trouble with this; I do in fact cling to this one shred of moral certainty; I am unable to let it go. The best I can do is mercilessly critique it – it seems like a cheap form of fake moral heroism; a way of posturing, maybe of fantasizing that I am some bold member of the Resistance (rather than what I actually am, a guy who likes to pick pseudonymous arguments with random rightwing wackjobs on the internet).
Helpless and fearful people are drawn to magical figures, mythic figures, epic men who intimidate and darkly loom."
"You're talking about Hitler, I take it."
"Some people are larger than life. Hitler is larger than death. You thought he would protect you. I understand completely."
Hitler and Nazis and the Holocaust have a certain function in my thought (and I'm hardly unusual in this respect) – they represent a kind of useful reference point of absolute evil. Oddly comforting in a perverse way – the world may be a confusing buzz of postmodern collapsed values, but at least we have one moral certainty – the Nazis were bad and we want to combat that badness. They are a source of clarity; they dispel the confusion.
They provide a much needed form of sacredness, in perhaps the only form that works in the contemporary world – its inversion. We can't agree on what's sacred, but we all better damn well agree on its opposite.
Nazis and evil in general are a problem for eliminativist theories of agency. Machines may do evil, but they are not responsible for their evil; it's in their programming. Nazis aren't evil, they are just a regrettable consequence of their circumstances – like everything else, a product of the basic processes of mechanical causation.
Nobody is really guilty of anything under such a view, which would be a great relief to us normal sinners if it didn't also let Nazis off the hook.
I think eliminativist positions in general are kind of stupid – it's obvious that "agency" denotes something real, even if we aren't certain about what that is. It's obvious that there's a difference between good and evil, even if people disagree on the specifics, and if our mechanistic theories make it harder to see that, then the problem might be with our theories.
Nonetheless they are useful as a thinking tool. What if we can temporarily stop treating Nazis and Hitler as metaphysical agents of evil, and instead treat them as badly-programmed machines? Don't hold them responsible, recognize that they are just broken. Don't treat them as monsters, they are fundamentally humans just like us, but in their case the programming went bad. They got their imprinting from culture and and their upbringing and something just went wrong.
The term ‘nihilism’ has a hackneyed quality. Too much has been written on the topic, and any sense of urgency that the word might once have communicated has been dulled by overexposure. The result is a vocable tainted by dreary over-familiarity and nebulous indeterminacy. Nevertheless, few other topics of philosophical debate exert such an immediate grip on people with little or no interest in the problems of philosophy
One of Land's celebrated concepts is "hyperstition," a portmanteau of "superstition" and "hyper" that describes the action of successful ideas in the arena of culture. Hyperstitions are ideas that, once "downloaded" into the cultural mainframe, engender apocalyptic positive feedback cycles. Hyperstitions – by their very existence as ideas – function causally to bring about their own reality. Nick Land describes hyperstition as "the experimental (techno-)science of self-fulfilling prophecies".
Hyperstitions fascinate us because it is in their nature to do so. They draw humans to them, enlist them in their cause. It may be that they are the real actors in the world and humans their servants.
A sense that culture is all hyperstition; that humans are basically apes who evolved to the point where they could act as hosts for these large-scale ideas. The monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey is a representation of this kind of processs; one genius move of Kubrick's was not to show whatever alien agency might have been behind it; so it appears as itself, not a sign of something else.
I mean, they are perhaps more than that, but they certainly meet the basic definition – a mere idea that somehow acts to bring about its own reality. Hm, this seems like a kind of obvious idea but I can't turn up anything making the connection explicitly. Maybe it's too obvious.
Capitalism incarnates hyperstitional dynamics at an unprecedented and unsurpassable level of intensity, turning mundane economic ‘speculation’ into an effective world-historical force.
I'd say this does a disservice to social construction. Latourian actants are more than figments, although not sure they bring themselves into the world...
Abrahamic Monotheism is also highly potent as a hyperstitional engine. By treating Jerusalem as a holy city with a special world-historic destiny, for example, it has ensured the cultural and political investment that makes this assertion into a truth. Hyperstition is thus able, under ‘favorable’ circumstances whose exact nature requires further investigation, to transmute lies into truths.
I can't believe I can make sense of that...but actually it's perfectly clear what he's saying. This is putting a particular Lovecraftian spin on hyperstitions; they not only bring themselves into being, in doing so they subvert time itself. Which I guess makes sense, something that brings itself into being is definitionally capable of acting atemporally, retrocausally.
Here's a first cut at a static-roam tutorial. Not clear anyone else has tried to run this, but if you do, let me know.
Roam features supported
For millennia, this is all “decentralization” meant—agitated daydreams about a world without hierarchies of power, like the kind Dostoevsky mocks in Demons. Except in 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto found a way of phrasing the consensus problem where a decentralized answer was possible, a corner of the world where, under his perfect circumstances, power hierarchies didn’t have to exist
I learned from reading Michael Benson's https://amzn.to/3ogBXzx that Marvin Minsky, who served as a consultant on AI and other matters, was almost beaned by a falling wrench when Kubrick gave him a demo of the huge rotating set for the Discovery centrifuge.
In 2001, there are really no protagonists and the action is driven by whatever unnamed force is behind the monoliths and has, for inscrutable purposes, acted to elevate a bunch of apes into humanity and whatever lies beyond humanity.
There's a very faint bit of background audio, in the space station where Heywood Floyd stops off on his way to the moon, where my name is mentioned, something about "Will Mr. Travers please come to the white courtesy telephone".
HAL though is the closest thing to a fully-formed character and his tragic arc is driven by agency failures, as he grapples to serve contradictory goals that end up driving him effectively mad.
When I'm not pretentiously writing about the Mysteries of Being, I write software. This is sort of a master page for software I've designed and built. Check the side column for real contents.
These seem pretty different to me; but they have in common that they are responses to an even greater nihilism: the absence of core values and structures of meaning in a modernist, capitalist world. This is the real Big Nada; all our posturings are small potatoes in the light of its darkness.
I’m not sure what the Meaningness stance on the third kind I mentioned, which is more of a collective than an individual (I know you’ve written about this but at this point your output is so vast I can’t recall it all). Here’s what I think you’d say: We killed god (eternalism) and are living with the consequences, which includes a frantic search for new eternalisms (Marxism, Rationalism, and other ideologies) that will also not work. Or we are feeling their absence as nihilism. We should instead accept and embrace the absence of grand collective narratives, and work with real, actual, local forms of meaning.
As an old, I’m not all that interested in the first form. Sometimes I wish today’s youth would figure out a more effective rebellious subculture, because we need one, but I’m not going to be part of it.
The first isn’t really nihilism but likes to play at it; it can appear nihilistic to the mainstream culture and will occasionally lean into that (eg, the original Russian nihilists, punk), adopting an exuberant stance seeking to overturn or escape the established cultural order, but also constructing a new one, overtly or otherwise. A subculture can’t sustain itself on actual nihilism and the participants kind of know that. “Sexy rebels” generally fall into this bucket, as you point out, real nihilism is not very sexy.
The second is more genuine and stems not so much from rebellion but from the failure of meaning-generation. It’s something that can happen after subcultural rebellion has played out; it’s nihilism for older people. Its hallmarks are alienation, anomie, despair, and exhaustion. You find the theme addressed in modern art and literature (Beckett, Cioran, Delillo’s White Noise …I’ve been compiling a list .
I’m like 98% on board with that, but not quite all the way, I find myself clinging to some faint hope of an underlying Something, partly because I’m not sure the world can survive without one. The world runs on shared narratives, and will make up bad ones if good ones aren’t available.
The other kinds are more relevant to me. Your work here addresses the the second kind, providing practical techniques for escaping nihilistic traps.
I'm generally a big fan of Meaningness but on a few things I find myself disagreeing, or objecting for reasons that I can't quite articulate. Often this is when he touches on politics, I think we just have different orientations on that. Sometimes his stuff seems a bit oversimplified or schematic or reductive.
Sometimes he calls it "obviously wrong", and I know what he means – as a philosophy it is kind of obviously self-undermining and dumb. But it isn't interesting to me as a philosophy, but as a mode of being, a cultural attractor, a consequence of modernism and capitalism that is so pervasive we can't see it directly, even as it molds our thinking.
It was interesting finding myself writing that. I thought I was something of a hardnosed postmodernist, accepting the actual unmoored condition of the world, but looks like I long for a master narrative like a chump, at least 2% of the time.
His recent posts around the topic of nihilism (here) have caused this kind of mild irk, and I can't really say why. One problem may be the variety of different interpretations of this word; he has a rather specific one (in his terms, "denial of meaningness"), he approaches it too much as an individual thing than a cultural thing, something like that.
September 26th, 2021 Put library uuids in urls, this makes it possible to share visualizations by URL
In almost no case would I describe any of these works as advocating nihilism, which would be silly. Artworks should be wary of advocating anything, and advocating nihilism is inherently self-undermining. They are trying to describe a quality found in the world, one which resists description.
I collect church collapses, recreationally. Did you see the recent one in Sicily? Marvelous! The facade fell on sixty-five grandmothers at a special mass. Was that evil? If so, who did it? If he's up there, he just loves it, Officer Starling. Typhoid and swans - it all comes from the same place.
This episode (which is about the movie, not the book, but the movie followed the book very closely) emphasizes the theme of the individual vs institutions, and how Lecter refuses to be categorized.
Top-notch pulp nihilism. Lecter has some resemblance to Anton Chigurh or Judge Holden (Blood Meridian); a supernatural figure who represents the universe's massive hostility/indifference to human values.
There should be a name for this (ipsissimosity? haecity?), and it seems related to the Russian flavor of nihilism, which was more anti-institutional than anti-everything.
On this topic, my ability to impose structure on my output breaks down completely. So this page is far out on the "random scrapbook" end of the scale, whose other end is "coherent bounded piece of writing".
David Foster Wallace appeared to be trying to write himself out of nihilistic depression, and ultimately failing. Infinite Jest is largely about the corrosive effects of addiction on meaning-making; and his unfinished final work The Pale King takes place inside an IRS office, that is, the most boring and meaningless place conceivable.