Part 1: The Meme Machine
Today’s world would seem to leave little opportunity for putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. Just the contrary, the increased demands on our time from a proliferating number of sources threatens to pull us apart even further, propelling us towards increased fragmentation, until we can make little sense of the chaos of our own minds. It’s all rather like the ever-expanding “nothing” in the movie “The Never Ending Story.” All that is meaningful is quickly ground into meaningless dust thanks to a perennial state of overload.
News comes to us in the form of sound bites which must be contextualized to have any meaning at all, but what is the context, living as we do in a whirl of ideas, and articles, and factoids, propaganda and public relations releases, all with more spin doctoring than with any desire for tending the truth? And it is your mind’s job, less we forget, to erect towers of meaning from all this rubble, to find a clear path through the static and noise that has all but erased the terrain of the present – far less the future, or even what lies around the next bend.
Yet, there are centering forces. And global society has a remarkable way of, once pushed to the tipping point, of keeping us forever teeter-tottering on that high wire, never quite balanced, but never quite falling off either. Chaos theorists call this “the zone” of maximum growth. It appears that life itself seeks to migrate into this zone, to keep itself forever on the edge between order and chaos, where it can remain forever in a state of accelerated evolution. Artists and champion athletes know all about this. They realize, just as with global society, the individual must keep himself off balance. And that this is the only way – paradoxically – to safeguard their minds and bodies from any and all kinds of stress, just as it’s the only way to shockproof the global economy.
Getting too settled into an ordered state, by contrast, or doing just the opposite, inviting the chaos with a self-annihilating glee, pushes us into terrains of ever-slower growth, stasis and stagnation, rather like sitting at the event horizon of a black hole where things also paradoxically slow down just before entering the eye of the black hole. In the eye – also known as Singularity State – things are moving so fast, we are no longer in time and space proper – infinities elapse before time has had time to happen. Black holes are thus arguably supremely well balanced between order and chaos. The human equivalent to the cosmic black hole would be the Phoenix rising in the fire of perpetual annihilation.
So what are these centering forces that keep us from falling off the high wire, besides various forms of wishful thinking?
1. Memes. Richard Dawkins originated this concept and this word in The Selfish Gene. The idea being that in an information age, “catchy ideas” take on a life of their own, hopping from mind to mind, and competing with other memes, mating with them, and creating progeny, driven by evolutionary forces entirely of their own making. They infect our minds more readily than the common virus. And they respect the integrity of our thought no better than the flu respects the integrity of our physical health.
Despite all our efforts to manage them, corral them, subdue them, and be the master of our own minds, these memes live on like unruly children, to go on and do just whatever they like despite their parents’ every manipulative countermeasure. We could feel powerless over our own minds in the face of this; that would be both humble and realistic. But it would also be missing the bigger picture. Memes do the hard work for us of erecting Gothic cathedrals of thought, of finding meaning out of the chaos, hell of creating that meaning when it is absent.
The very way in which we are swept away by these compelling ideas, mind-storming our way through them until the storm ultimately clears – and the Gothic cathedral of thought arises out of the dust of pre-cognition (are you counting how many metaphors I’ve mixed here?) is the way we evolve a higher integral order out of the chaos. Our minds may not be able to do it, with or without genius IQs. But our memes can do it for us. They can handhold us through the paradigm shifts from lower consciousness to higher consciousness. They can fly us clear of the storm.
How? Because they have a life of their own. Because everything is information, information alone lives. We, as biological computers are nothing more than “meme” handlers evolving ever better ways to manipulate them. And how do we evolve these better ways? Well, our memes tell us what they need from us, of course, carrying us off on the next wave of inspiration and invention – all guided by them – to the singular end of producing better meme replicators, and better meme evolvers.
In a very real way, humanity is just along for the ride. We can’t even divest ourselves of caring and effort, because if we refuse to be excited by anything, memes find it much harder to do their work. The fact is, there are memes out there for the perennially disaffected, depressed, checked out, low-energy, dead-man-walking individuals just like there are for the rest of us. And the second the recalcitrant drop out from the idea-factory drops his guard, memes will be all over him, infecting him, tearing him down with viral intensity, and rebuilding him, all in the name of making him more excitable in order to transport ever more ideas at a faster rate, pushing him towards dissolution. Until, shazam, paradigm shift, and memes remake us into the nexgen human, again and again.
If God were to exist and he desired to influence us, he would come to us in the form of memes. Yes, the second coming, you heard it here first, is already here, arriving in one torrent of memes after another.
So just sit back, and enjoy the ride. Don’t stress. Know that you will be taken over. You will be transformed into ever better meme handlers. And you will be given all the evolutionary adaptability you need.
Refusing to do this, you will find yourself entertaining thoughts of death. These are your memes testing your resolve. They will not let you choose middle ground. The more you resist them, the more depressed you get until you either choose death or surrender. Surrender to your memes and join the club of super-evolvers. Resist them and die. There’s really no other choice. Why? Because your memes have dictated the nature of the game. And you are powerless to do anything about it.
It appears you have no other reason for existing than for propagating memes. It is why they created you. You are The Meme Machine.
2. Everything follows from The Meme Machine. If memes are how we create higher integral orders out of mounting chaos that otherwise overwhelms our coping abilities, then what are the implications for scenario builders, and modelers of the future?
Much has been made of not being able to predict the future with certainty, and the fact that it is much wiser to prepare for any number of possible futures, all equally possible. While this is true on the face of it, it is far easier to chase down the most compelling ideas of what the future should look like. I.e. find the memes with the greatest sex appeal, the greatest allure, which are doing better at selling themselves than the others, which are finding ways to co-opt and subdue the other versions of the future, by taking these within themselves.
And in this game of co-option, what is the greatest meme of them all? What else but Singularity? A future in which any and all possible futures coexist. You can’t get any more accommodating than that as master-memes go.
We already entertain notions of the multiverse thanks to Stephen Hawking. But memes would have us gain entry to that multiverse as the ultimate organizing idea; as the highest integral order of them all. Forget parallel universes. Memes would open not only the gates of heaven to us, but to hell as well, in fact, to the innumerable heaven and hell worlds and everything in between.
We must have access to infinities within infinities because no one infinity is enough. If we are to embrace the Godhead, and make no bones about it, memes exist precisely to push us towards reuniting with the Godhead, then this can only be done through the ultimate in open-mindedness and willingness to embrace all that is transcendent to us.
Only in Singularity State can humanity access The All. For the mind of God is fractal in nature; it has innumerable dimensions. So any reality that would put us in touch with God, and inseparable from him, would have to be open to this transdimensional state. Only Singularity holds out such a promise.
Sadly, little has been written about Singularity other than that it “is a land beyond time and space – where the logic of space-time breaks down in the face of a post-exponential rate of change.” What many scholars don’t yet grasp – is such a state allows access to any and all realities – simultaneously. And those who live within Singularity are subsequently freed to play in them all. (I will explore Singularity in ever-greater depth in subsequent articles on my blog: http://MeditationsOnSingularity.blogspot.com and in upcoming books within The Fractal Mind series).
As a side note here: It is important to note that Singularity – as I envision it – cannot solely be sustained or contained by breakthrough technologies. Breakthrough consciousness is required. Moreover, technologies that further singularity are inseparable from those that further consciousness. One of the shifts underway now as we approach Singularity is a shift away from technologies that allow us to manipulate our environment to technologies that allow us to expand our minds and our consciousness. It is the merger of these two forces with yet a third in the holy trinity that will sustain Singularity. The third force being, of course, the willingness to shift from Ego-based consciousness to Witness based consciousness (the transhumanist perspective) in order to forge the synthesis of the ever-higher states of intermediate consciousness with ever-higher states of technology.
Returning from our segue into Singularity to our ongoing discussion of memes… It is perhaps even clearer to see now how memes are why we also have a self-organizing universe. It is why and how we interact with one another in groups – to enhance our mind power. It is how these groups in turn self-organize into even larger groups – call them NGOs or CSOs. It is how these larger groups in turn self-organize into still larger consortia and collaborations – tying together the entire globe into one interlinked sentient consciousness with sufficient power of mind to tackle any problem, no matter how big.
And this all happens with little involvement from us. All be it, we do have to be willing to be swept along. The memes do the rest. All we have to be conscious of is: the constant upgrading of The Meme Machine that is us. And by being conscious of how this process works, by surrendering to the process, we also let go of a lot of stress.
This article is part of an ongoing series examining centering forces in an Age of Dissolution.