2016/12/28

From Modernity to After-Modernity (31)

Part 3. Divination
Introduction (continued. 4)


The future as a probabilistic outcome

The alternatives, that are shaping in the present as potential futures, are not readily visible and so the substance of the future remains invisible to the naked eye for the majority of citizens. But it is nevertheless accessible to inquiring minds. To detect these alternatives in their very early stage, I mean at the early stage of their formation as potentialities in the present, one has to entrust the subconscious by entering states of altered consciousness. It is indeed only after they have already emerged as selected future alternatives that conscious observation will possibly detect them. The fact of the matter is that the substance of these alternatives is being formatted inside the context that is shaping in the present which means that, while this context has still not been substantiated yet, future alternatives are already forming in the midst of the presently forming context. This whole process remains largely hidden to conscious observation and its visibility will only arise with its substantiation.


In summary the potentiality of the future is contained in the context that is taking shape in the present. But only the augmented perception, gained by the minds of those who dare to confront their conscious with their subconscious and vice-versa, opens their consciousness to these alternatives that are starting to shape in the present context as the potential future. In practical terms this implies 3 things for the human condition:

  1. not being a given the shaping of the future is open to the intervention of humanity. The alternative potential future outcomes are given by the balancing act between the determinant factors that are shaping and interrelating in the context forming in the present. What this implies is that very small forces have the potential to exercise a determinant impact on the outcome of this balancing process. This is the butterfly effect that was detected by quantum physics. In practical terms this means that human dreams and ideals, about how the future should ideally unfold, have the power to strengthen humanity’s collective will which procures it the potential weight to successfully act as a lever on the formation of the future. It is indeed this newly gained strength, shaped by our dreams about an ideal future, that has the potential to gain a multiplying effect on human behavior in the present context by letting humanity add the very small weight of its actions to the alternatives of its liking within the balancing act of the selection process that will result as the substantiation of the future.
  2. the wisest, among those whose perception is augmented, eventually gain the knowledge of the systemic working of the universe. What this means is that they have attained the wisdom to see the selection process between competing alternatives, as it unfolds in the present, and how it is shaping the substance of the future. This is what in philosophic Taoism is called “seeing the Tao in action” or what in Buddhism is called “Pure Consciousness”, or what I personally prefer to call “seeing with the eyes of the universe”. This is also the substance that Xieyi painting strives to catch1. The rare individuals who gained the knowledge of the systemic working of the universe, in tribal non power societies, were the “master-men of knowledge”, later called Flame-Sovereigns in the territory of today’s China. The specific context of China, during the emergence of agriculture, allowed these “master men of knowledge” or Flame-Sovereigns2 to unify the animist culture over an expanding territory the result of which was later inherited by the Chinese empire. In contrast following the agricultural revolution the special geographical context of the TriContinentalArea, or Middle-East, imposed an immediate restructuring of tribal governance under the aegis of power which consecrated the dominance of the men of power over the men of knowledge since the early days of the transition from agriculture to empire3. With the emergence of the Chinese empire the knowledge and gifts of the master men of knowledge”, who had earlier unified cultures over expanding territories during the transition from tribal societies, were inherited by some rare “master-scholars”4. Their knowledge was codified by their followers and these codes supplied the Chinese with the necessary add-ons to adapt animism to the new context of empire which lasted until its demise in 1911. Such wise individuals have always been extremely rare and unfortunately in Late-Modernity, for reasons already mentioned, they have completely vanished from the societal scene. Historically the wisemen were the men of knowledge of their societies and their role was to share their holistic narratives about the working of reality with their fellow citizens.
    As mentioned before this was done for two reasons – first to decrease the anxiety and suffering the individuals were experiencing when faced with the unknown, in other words, the target of the worldview was to increase their levels of happiness – secondly, and perhaps more importantly, to increase societal cohesion in order to smooth societal reproduction and thus facilitate the perpetuation of the species. The survival and perpetuation of the species was always the paramount concern of the men of knowledge. Unfortunately during the early years of High-Modernity philosophic rationalism and science definitively separated the trinity that substantiates the exercise of such a wisdom – knowledge, – worldviews, – arts5. And so Modern societies have since erred from an initial bout of irrational exuberance during High-Modernity to confusion and then to more confusion. Maximum confusion was finally reached in Late-Modernity when human minds, transfixed by material possessions and technological gadgets, lost any concern for reality or the survival and perpetuation of the species. You can observe this in the way some scientists have started to rationalize the technological singularity without any sensible opposition arising to counter them. But such a rationalization can safely be said to be the surrender of humanity to the reign of “machine artificial intelligence” (MAI). What is even more baffling is that this surrender is presented as the natural evolution towards greater progress that promises to supply a better future for humanity. Such a future created by machines, equipped with artificial intelligence, is thought by scientists and futurists as being in humanity’s best interest. But... nobody can hide that MAI is nevertheless feared even inside the scientific community. The technological singularity means indeed that humanity is going to be unable to understand the complexity generated by MAI and nobody will thus have the means to know what is the finality MAI will align on. If this finality is rationality for the sake of rationality, as is today’s scientific credo, then the probability that humanity will be sacrificed on the altar of rationality is very high indeed. This acceptance that humanity should abdicate its own will to the will of machines can not be understood otherwise than being an act of willful ignorance about the systemic nature of the principle of life. In my eyes the ignorance by scientists of the systemic nature of the principle of life can only be construed as a betrayal of life6. Where is morality in all of this? We already heard that reality does not matter. Are we now going to hear that morality too does not matter?
  3. considering that the wisemen, who are conscious about the working of the universe, know the potential outcomes of the selection process that will substantiate the future; one would think that societies might want to listen to them so as to maximize their chances to attain the best future alternative for the species. But, while having been extremely successful at churning out material stuff by among other separating the trinity “knowledge-worldview-art”, Modernity also eliminated the wisemen from its midst and so it definitively blew its chances at harmonizing its actions with the systemic reality of our universe. The profound truth at the heart of this observation is that the reasoned abdication of life, by science, in favor of the machines will inevitably give way to the cleansing, by our universe’s systemic reality, of the product of this irresponsible mechanical mess-up of life’s systemic complexity7.

A few inescapable conclusions

The most pressing question of our time, I feel, relates to the distinction between scientific knowings and knowledge in the sense of a worldview that can possibly be shared by all. The fact of the matter is that to make sense out of the contemporary transition from Modernity to After-Modernity we need to be able to distinguish the grain from the chaff within the brouhaha that assails us daily. From the get go we observe the following:

  1. science emerged out of a context dominated by the ideologies of rationalism and materialism that are rooted further in the ideologies of individualism and the reason of capital which themselves are rooted in the ideology of power. What I mean to say here is that, in the end, science finds the resources to sustain its substance in the abstract principles founding the reason at work within capital. And this, in turn, explains how the mechanical reasoning that supports technology succeeded to impose itself as the dominant form of human activities in Late-Modernity.
    Scientists are paid to work on projects financed by big capital holders or their agents. This is why they accept to collaborate in the conception and execution of the technological visions of capital. In other words to satisfy the economic needs of their families scientists, most often unconsciously, agree to let their minds be trapped in a system of reasoning that is nevertheless alien to them. Such a system of reasoning eventually goes counter to the systemic reality of our universe, and against the systemic reality of the principle of life, and so it eventually becomes a moral burden in the minds of scientists; something Einstein and Oppenheimer, for example, illustrated with their declarations opposing the use of nuclear weapons. But the fact of the matter is that scientists, consciously or unconsciously, participate in setting in motion pathogenic practices that are threatening the health of their societies, of their fellow citizens, and of the human species.
    While this is generally occurring unconsciously there is no escaping the fact that their responsibility is on the line for messing with the systemic complexity of the principle of life that is encoded in the application running on the operating system of our universe. Being one of the applications installed on the operating system of the universe we must realize that the tweaking of this application within the context of the sub-set earth, at the hands of a mechanical rationality, is bound to end tragically for the principle of life. And this leads me to think that the responsibility of scientists in this process is unmistakably going to reverberate, far in the future, on how humanity shall remember about their activities. Scientists should thus not be astonished when observing that more and more people are coming under the impression that science and technology is a threat to them. And naturally the perception of being threatened stresses people out. There is only a small step from such a perception to come to despise scientists as being “elitist pricks” that can’t be trusted8.
  2. by imposing itself, to the world as a whole, Western Modernity is potentially blowing up humanity’s spiritual capacity to handle the perpetuation of its own species into the future. What I mean by this is that human actions have strewn so far already out of the bounds of the systemic reality of the principle of life that the fate of humanity is perhaps already sealed. The possibility is very real indeed that we can no longer do anything else than to observe how nature cleanses the mess left over by the hubris of an adolescent and arrogant human species.

What to do?

I’m a realist, and as I stated here above, I consider that the future is not a given. But I recognize that, even if we knew with total certainty that the future outcome for the human species was extinction, we still would have no other alternative but to live till extinction occurs. What I mean to say here is that the darkness of the potential outcome of Power and Modernity has to be balanced by the beauty of life itself. We have no other valid choice but to live… so why not live as happily as we can by offering our thoughts and actions as gifts to the others around us. I see the predicament of living with this knowledge as the best of reasons to definitively abandon “taking” behaviors in favor of “giving” behaviors.

During the last five to ten Milena power societies have imposed “taking economies” on all of us and the result has been a few thousand years of misery for “we the people”. Why should we not try to practice the “gift economies” that were the way non-power tribal societies produced their inter-personal exchanges? What can we lose? For sure we would lose the ideology of power but who is going to miss power? In return we would definitely gain the tribal happiness of living in abundance that was the “primitives” life condition. Who is going to object to that9?

I repeat again.

What the future has in store for humanity is not a given. There can be no absolute certainty about the outcome before it has been substantiated as reality. Aliens, or god, could eventually free us from our hubris ; is it not? But putting all speculation aside the fact is that the contours of the future are definitely being sketched in the context forming in the present. What this means is that the alternatives, which are gaining their substance in the context forming in the present, leave us the possibility to mold the scenarios at work within the probabilistic process that leads to the outcome of the future. In other words, whatever the darkness we detect, by dressing our dreams and visions of the future in the beauty radiating from life we engage in a scenario that could make beauty come true. This Book 3 is conceived as a narrative about such kinds of scenarios. By living, our dreams and ideals of the future, in the present we are weighing on the probabilistic selection of the future outcome that is most favorable to our species and as such I believe that dreaming has become the highest moral imperative of Late-Modernity.

Writing is an exercise at making sense, in my own mind, of my thinking about the present condition of humanity. And since the writing is there I share this exercise as a gift to whomever might be interested to read. I have nevertheless come to terms with the fact that in the age of Twitter very few of my readers will have taken the time to read through the entirety of my posts in this series about the transition “from Modernity to After-Modernity”. I wrote these posts over the last 2 winters as an answer to a deeply felt urge for sense about what societal evolution and the arts are all about. I copy-pasted the content of these posts in book format. It now totals some 1350 pages… This testifies to the otherworldliness of my writing with the universe of Twitter that I just mentioned.These book-covers are an illustration of the organization of the content of my posts in book form:

  • In a first step I copy paste the content of my posts in a book template.
  • the second step consists in completing the table of content which eventually necessitates additional material to sustain a more coherent presentation.
  • The third step is about formatting the existing text and the footnotes
  • the fourth step is the editing of the material in its final version.

Humanity’s presently forming context contains the potentiality of its future. This is the substance of the scenarios that I plan to narrate in this book. But, in light of my Twitter remark here above before plunging in such scenarios, I want to offer the reader a sketch refresher on the determinant factors, that are shaping the context emerging in the present, as I have been laying them out exhaustively in Book 1 and Book 210.
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Notes


1  Xieyi painting or “ink and wash painting” is called shui-mo in Chinese. I personally define it as “writing down the true meaning behind what is being observed by the eyes”. This school of painting is often referred to as "literati painting". It originated in the Tang Dynasty (618-906) and is one of the four arts” that were practiced by the Chinese scholars or mandarins who were gentlemen educated to eventually officiate as the bureaucrats in charge of the decision making process within the state machinery of the Chinese empire. These 4 arts are – “guqin” which is a stringed musical instrument, – “qi” or the strategy of the game of “go”, – “shu“ or Chinese calligraphy, – “hua” or Xieyi painting. Having been educated to execute political decisions scholars were nevertheless not all active in the field. Some, referred to as “literati”, were indeed more interested in the solitude necessary to gain higher levels of personal erudition, and to express this erudition, than in the mundane world of power.



flame-sovereigns: the Chinese classics, written sometime between 500 and 100 BC, most often expound on the past of the Chinese nation and their depiction is not always verified by archeology. For this reason the historical narrative of the Classics has been described as mythical by “well-intentioned” Westerners. But more extensive digging and discoveries give them nevertheless credit for an exact depiction of earlier periods that were thought to be mythical until then. So it might well be that future discoveries will give them further credit. To this day archeology has confirmed the narrative of the Classics going back somewhere around 1600 BC. What comes before remains thus labeled as China’s mythical history. That mythical history gives one more dynasty, the Xia, starting sometime around 2200 to 2000 BC. and what comes before the Xia it describes as the unification of China by “3 Sovereigns and 5 emperors”. The 3 Sovereigns are – Fushi, – Nuwa, – Shennong. In the History Classics Shennong is presented not as one sovereign but as a line of sovereigns who were also called Flames or Flame Sovereigns. Depending on the work one consults the Flames are seen lasting some 500 to 16000 years. In “Book 2. Volume 4. Governance and societal evolution” I propose the following:
  • Fushi was the model of governance that was active during the “band societal era” that preceded tribal societies
  • Nuwa was the matriarchal, non-power, mode of governance of the “tribal societal era” that precedes power societies
  • the Flames were the “master-men of knowledge (see Book 2. Volume 1) also called “YanDi” who, starting with the emergence of agriculture, acted as the symbol of unity over culturally unifying tribes and later villages that shared common animistic forms in the context of an ever expanding territory. The Flames were thus the real initiators of the theory of sovereignty that was popularized later during the Zhou empire under the concept of “TianXia”

3  See “From Modernity to After-Modernity”, Book 4. “Governance and Societal Evolution.

4  See “From Modernity to After-Modernity”, Book 4. “Sovernance and Societal Evolution.
To my knowledge the Chinese empire is the only and unique power society that preserved animism as its worldview. The “master-men of knowledge”, also known as flames or Flame-Sovereigns or Yan Di or Shennon, acted as the symbols of unity in the spread of their own tribe’s animistic culture. And so the spread of the culture of their own tribe over an expanding territory was unifying an increasing number of people behind a common form of tribal culture a process that has been called called Tian Xia or all under heaven. Once inequality started to set in around 3000 BC some “master-man of knowledge” gradually initiated more and more traits that are typical of the men of power and by 2000 BC, after Yu the Great had initiated the transfer of his power to his descendants, the first Chinese dynasty arose under the name Xia. This institutionalization of the empire led to a restructuring of the traditional role of the animist man of knowledge and his diverse functions were split into specialized spheres of activity:
  1. the traditional retreats of the men of knowledge under the aegis of the master-shaman passed under the direct control of the emperor and were institutionalized as something akin to a council of ministers in charge of conceiving and implementing the politics of the empire.
  2. knowledge formation and the execution of all political decisions became the specialty of the scholars. A very tiny bunch of them inherited the lucidity of the master-shaman who transformed the animist knowledge by adapting it to the context of the empire. The most famous among them are undoubtedly Laozi and Kunzi (LaoTze & Confucius).
  3. health concerns were attributed to the men of medicine whose works gave rise to Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM,
  4. divination was attributed to a specialized office inside the imperial bureaucracy,
  5. the communication with the spirit of the universe was attributed to the Wu Shaman who, the emperors’ individualism willing, was now also put in charge of the communication with the ancestors of the men of power.

5 “From Modernity to After-Modernity”, Book One, history, and Book two, theory , are essays at understanding the process of societal evolution. I observe 4 eras in societal evolution. Here is a rough sketch of these eras:
  • first: bands of individuals, trying to survive under the domination of an alpha-male, were the societal norm for millions of years,
  • second: non-power tribal societies living in economic affluence and in harmony with nature, were the norm starting somewhere between 150,000 and 70,000 years ago and lasted to sometime between 15,000 and 8,000 years ago. The traditional form of governance of these tribes that survived later were constantly threatened by the assimilation of elements of governance or of life from more advanced neighboring societies,
  • third: power societies initiated social inequality and human material and spiritual suffering which called for the cult of the men of power in order to be justified something that led them to perceive themselves as being exceptional beings.
  • fourth: Modernity and total abdication of the mind to the mechanical principle of the reason at work within capital and later to rationalism.
Modernity consecrates individualism and the ego + private property + the reason of capital and philosophic rationalism which separated the traditional unity within the man of knowledge represented by – knowledge – societal worldviews – the arts. During that separation the role of the man of knowledge was opportunistically transferred to the scientist. And following the demise of the men of knowledge big capital holders and their lackeys never rested trying to destroy any remnants of past holistic narratives that were meant to glue societies into cohesive wholes. In the end the traditional function of the arts was captured by finance and made to serve merchandization. In this process substantial content became a danger and formalism was thus consecrated as the only acceptable substance of art. But as some thinkers soon observed this killed the traditional function of the arts. Formalism was indeed no match to illustrate the substance of a worldview in the present.
In conclusion, my thesis is that, Late-Modernity is characterized by – the disappearance of the men of knowledge, – the loss of worldviews and rising anxiety, – the death of the function of the arts, – the simultaneous convergence of Modernity’s multiple side-effects, – societal atomization transforming the individuals in zombies, – vanishing societal cohesion and dieing societies, – societal inability to shape future desirable outcomes. I’ll come back on this process in greater detail further down.

6  The argument I defend here parallels Dmitry Orlov’s concept of “technosphere”. “Dmitry Orlov postulates the existence of something called the technosphere, analogous to the biosphere, which came into existence as soon as human inventions started transforming the natural world. This artificial construct appears not to embrace life as we know it, nor does it have any affinity for the human species, beyond what can be manipulated into the technosphere’s service!” A citation from Global Research’s article and interview about Dmitry’s book “Shrinking the Technosphere”.

In “Book 2. Volume 4. Governance and Societal Evolution” I developed the idea that all human actions, individual and societal, are eventually confronted to the ultimate systemic reality of our universe wherein life’s complexity plays such a decisive role. By this I mean that all actions, that do not fit within the constrains encoded in the systemic reality of our universe and the application of life which is running on its operating system, will eventually be eliminated one day... The foundational idea here is that the whole (Universe) is prime and all its parts are fitting within the constrains imposed by its applications. Those parts or particles that take liberties with these constrains are doomed to be eliminated. It is in that sense that we understand why living species act strategically to ensure their own reproduction over time. The species and their individual particles act like the polarities of the entity represented by life. To maximize the chances to balance these polarities life uses societies as strategic mechanisms in charge of keeping species and individuals on a “middle of the road path”. The strategy of life is indeed the avoidance by species of any danger of falling in the abyss that invariably results in extinction. The danger of falling in the abyss is understood to be located at the extremities of the line represented by the opposite polarities of any entity and so life entrusts societies to guide species and their individual particles on a “middle of the road path” far from the danger of extinction.

Keeping one’s head under the sand is one way to avoid the stench of societal behaviors in times of crisis. But it does nothing to solve the crisis that is responsible for the rotting of societal culture. Seen the predicament which humanity is facing in Late-Modernity it is highly irresponsible to continue keeping one’s head under the sand. This is no time for political correctness any longer. Thinking individuals have the responsibility to speak out and act accordingly. There is no denying the responsibility of science in our current predicament. But this does not mean that we have to burn science. The least we should be trying to do now is to understand where the whole thing went wrong and draw conclusions that could help clarify the path of societies into the future. Having participated in the creation of the mess of power and of Modernity we owe future generations some explanations...

9  Anthropology is a science that emerged in Europe during the 19th century. The context of its emergence was the colonial reality that Europe had been imposing on the rest of the world over the last centuries and continued to impose at the time. So from its onset the context in which it emerged imposed on anthropology to be an ideological presentation of the other people of the earth that was meant to justify Europe’s behavior towards them. Christian morality was indeed starting to question and reject some of its practices like slavery for example. The ideological views developed in the 19th century largely prevailed till sometime after the second world war when a younger generation of anthropologists started to require the application of the scientific method in their approach of tribal life. As a result their views were so flagrantly contradicting anthropological traditional certainties that it took them decades to be heard and their following to grow. Today the vision of tribal life, that finally imposed itself, is one of non-power societies that lived in economic abundance while respecting nature. But be adviced that some very vocal opposition to today’s majority view is still trying to claim the old ideological truisms which is unfortunately shedding confusion in the minds...

10  “From Modernity to After-Modernity”, Book One and Book two

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