2004/11/04

The promised land of consciousness

As the technological roads taken in the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century spread to all corners, people and societies slowly adapted to those new ways. This allowed for digested changes that time passing appeared natural in peoples eyes even if from a historic perspective those changes appear more like a formidable thunderstorm. Starting after the 2nd world war, technological changes followed an increasingly fast pace and by the start of the 21st century many technological changes have no time any more to make it through all the segments of society before being overtaken by always newer technological approaches. This is a time of non digested changes pulling a riot of social, cultural and economic disruptions that are obscuring our understanding of what we are going through and where we are being led to. In a sense I have this intuition that we have entered the territory of folly. A new concept has appeared recently covering what I'm speaking about: singularity(1). From a historical perspective the present times look like the earlier thunderstorm degenerating into some kind of non ending tornado.

Digested technological changes fundamentally altered our vision of the world but left us perfectly conscient and in control. That was early modernity.

In later modernity, non digested technological changes are breaking down all our points of reference and are thus plunging us into a mental state of profound anesthesia. Deeply unsatisfied we follow the movement of economic and social entropy that plunges the majority of us into political apathy.

Earth distances have vanished and looking in the windows of our computers, TV's and phones we can see how the other people of the world are living (global village). Many of us have not only seen the other through the window of TV and computer, we have actually plunged physically into the other's daily reality and this changed radically our vision. But this is not all, images from the space station help us now to discover ourselves and our earth from a distance (mirror). Soon the most privileged will be offered trips in space for a surf around the earth, sure enough their experience shall have profound transformational effects on their vision of themselves, of mankind and more generally of reality.

Those of us who are already watching the "image of the global village in the mirror" are plunged into a whole new world vision that gives us in some way the means to cross the divide between our present day land of folly and the promised land of consciousness that sits across the bridge to the future.

I guess, as for today, only a tiny minority of scientists, thinkers and artists have made the effort to acquire not only a large trempoline of knowledge (curiosity) but who, furthermore, are free enough (unafraid) to imagine and dream what lies ahead of our present day land of folly. And I bet that this vision, of what lies ahead of our present day land of folly, best represents the content of the art works that will really have a lasting effect on the build-up of the coming worldview of humanity. In that sense, I think that the artists who will succeed finding their way today, I mean in visual terms, into this future land of consciousness will be the ones whose visual signs will be remembered for giving the masses (oh whow that is such a maoist term) the visual keys to the door leading into this radically new and global worldview that humanity is in the early stage of the forming process.

But I must point here on the fact that this future land of consciousness can only be attained through knowledge, there is simply no escape to this basic fact. Today is no time for artistic confusion, nor for accepting any further the mercantile confusion coming out of the art market. Crossing the divide between our present day land of folly and the promised land of consciousness that sits across the span of the bridge leading to the future can only be done with solid building materials and the only available material to build the bridge and its parapets is knowledge... It would be suicide believing that one can leapfrog the construction of the bridge and its parapets, by trying to fly to the other side of the precipice, it could only result in total intellectual and artistic bankruptcy. I see absolutely no incentive whatsoever in taking that road.
(1)Broderick argues that this century, society can expect a singularity a Spike in the upward soaring graph of historical change, a wall or horizon of prediction beyond which we cannot reliably see. I'm firmly convinced that we already passed that point, at least in societal terms.

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