I am a man, I am what I have chosen to become. I am responsible for who and what I am. The man I am is not an accident of fate, the manufactured product of some conspiracy between genetics and society. My accomplishments are my own, I allow no other to lay claim to them anymore than I allow any other to become an excuse for the failures which are equally mine. I know who I am, and without apology the person I know I am serves as range mark and reference standard by which the remainder of perception is mapped against reality.
There are many things I know, there is a vastly larger number of things I do not know. My life is now as it always has been dedicated to enlarging the value of that fraction. There are some few things I choose to believe. There is a vastly larger number of things I refuse to believe regardless of the assertions of my fellows, for there are significant differences in responsibility created by what a man might accept as fact based on the assertions of his fellow man, those things that become the tools of his life, and the progeny of the times a man might allow an assertion of his fellows to cause him to believe, or modify belief, effecting changes in the much deeper motives of his life that give rise to the actions for which a man is held accountable.
It is not my desire the things to follow should be believed, but rather I would hope they should be considered relative to the evidence of life lived and events observed, entertained and examined as a promising perspective from which to ask that that simplest, and most absolutely critical question required to advance the human condition: why?
Chapter One: Evolution's Corner
There is no evidence within the scope of my knowledge to contradict this statement: the human being is mounted on what was an animal. The word mounted was chosen with deliberation, for there is evidence from science to suggest the onset of intelligence was rather rapid, rapid enough to leave open a realistic possibility of intervention. The manner of the human rise to intelligence is an open and an interesting question, but it is not the question at hand. The question at hand is more immediate, more demanding, and ultimately much more critical to survival.
We humans are empowered, and in some ways burdened, by intelligence in our efforts to survive. Unlike the animals we cannot count on instinct as a guide for survival, it would appear humans sacrificed the guidance of instinct to accommodate the abilities of intelligence. As a consequence of this trade humans found themselves possessing a larger field of perception than the other creatures, a range divided between the outer reality of the sense stream augmented by a strange new inner reality created from the memories of the abstractions and imaginings that arrived with intelligence. The same intelligence that enabled humans such a strangely divided scope of perception equally provided the ability to create and use symbolic communication, the inner symbol set to represent the outer reality. The humans gained the ability to share imaginings one to the other, able to focus a group's abilities on a shared imagining. When humans added communicating intelligent imaginings to their repertoire of survival skills they gained the truly unique ability to be willfully proactive rather than reactive in regards to their environment.
From evolution's point of view humans proved to be the Cinderella success story of their times. The tactic of proactive cooperation converted a weak and failing prey creature into the dominant species on the planet in only a few hundred thousand years, a meteoric rise by evolutionary standards. In less time than it takes a leopard to change his spots humans went from being the leopard's prey to being the leopard's protector in an environment utterly dominated by the human.
For all that we are one of evolutions great success stories it is true that evolution's point of view is little considered by most humans. We are the pinnacle of life on Earth, right? The very fate of the planet rests with our actions, our decisions, right? Evolution has finished it's work where we are concerned, right? Wrong. Evolution is never finished, and evolution has only one concern, one only, and that is the formation of life from non-life. We are not the first of evolution's success stories, we are far from being the first time evolution hit such a pinnacle the only improvement found involved a radical change in direction. This is not the first time evolution has turned a corner.
Look at your hand, your body, and shift your focus a bit. Can you see your body from the inside looking out? Can you see the body you wear as a community of individuals? It is you know, the majority of cells in your body could live out their natural lifespan in fine form without the shape and structure you've come to know as you, given of course an environment suited to their level of life. The last time evolution found a corner to compare to ours it was in the apogee of the single celled creatures, to improve life the direction found involved grouping ever more specialized cells into interdependent patterns, structures, each surviving pattern a new form of life climbing away from the primordial soup culminating with the human, who by intent or accident are host and home to the ability to imagine and create patterns not learned from the physical reality represented by the sense stream of our existence.
Hold that image if you can, the awesome depth and trajectory of the eons long climb from our single celled origins till today, and shift your focus to the modern world, that tiny fraction of time no more than three or four thousand years deep whose surface is the world of now. Look down into that shallow film as does evolution, contemplate what there is to be seen.
What is to be noticed are the humans of course, just finding the full power of their new abilities, population pressure from the success of their lives pushing them out from their ancestral homelands into the harsher regions of higher latitudes, across the oceans, building, always building on the dreams they share between themselves. What is to be noticed is how the humans are perpetually grouping themselves into ever larger and more intricate arrangements to attempt ever larger and more complex dreams, troops to tribes to cities to states to nations until near the surface of now there are arrangements of humans beginning to seriously mimic some of the simpler of the multi-celled creatures in number of cells and complexity of functions. And there, right at the surface, that flash of strange light, what is... Freeze. Stop right here and see what you are looking at.
Your life, the days you have known, are at the absolute vertex, the tangent point of evolutions second major corner on planet Earth. That flash of light was no metaphor, it is quite literal real, it came from the technologies developed in the last century. Those technologies are the product of mankind's intelligence coupled with his curiosity, and driven by his dreams. They are brand new, no part of any other line or lineage of evolution, from evolution's point of view the first truly new thing in a very, very long time. The last time evolution witnessed something similar was the first time a group of single celled creatures crowded in a limited volume responded to the chemicals released by their fellows, made of those chemicals messengers rather than pollutants in order to adjust their metabolism and survive where those who did not adjust died.
It is my belief, my assertion, the thesis of this series of essays, that the technologies of communication stand in the same place now as did those first primitive chemical messengers then, from evolution's very functionally oriented point of view again enabling the simpler forms of life to become components in the evolution of more complex forms of life. This series of essays is therefore dedicated to examining the functional groupings of mankind, the component units whose summation is commonly called the societies of mankind from evolution's perspective: extremely primitive multi-celled creatures just beginning their climb into an extremely uncertain future rather than considering the multitude of mankind's collective endeavors from the perspective more usually taken, that they are nothing more than arrangements of convenience within the scope of mankind's imaginings communicated.
It is my assertion to you such a perspective will enable a much, much better understanding of the macroscopic behavior of mankind, perhaps even enough of an enlargement in understanding for mankind to realize that with evolution's corner solidly behind us our fate is bound to the fate of the emerging new life-forms of the collective entities, that to serve the cause of our own survival as individuals we must bring our abilities to focus in the cause of supporting the survival of these embryonic creatures.
I am not talking smoke and mirrors, magic and mystique, I am not talking the supernatural in service of the superstitious, I am talking very real and understandable relationships perceivable to anyone and everyone who cares to look at the world we all share with the intent of understanding why that world behaves as it does.
Chapter Two: "Me,We, and Thee"
It is a fact of life the human has the same requirements for survival as do all life forms: the need for sustenance, for security, for procreation. For the animals these needs are quite straightforward, the literal things directly associated. For the animals instinct and environment govern the competition to fill those needs, but such is not the case for the humans.
Human intelligence has set perception and imagination as new players alongside instinct and environment in the competitions for survival. For all that it is an obvious observation it still needs made: because his environment includes abstract imaginings communicated the life of a human is at least one order of magnitude more complex than any of the other creatures sharing the planet with him.
Further, the human capacity for abstract thought communicated enables a single human to form alliances with multiple collectives beyond those defined by nature, alliances beyond the troop or pride as would be seen in the other animals. The human will form alliances with several unique arrangements of differing individuals according to a common thought or imagining, specialized structures evolved to enhance the cooperative efforts aiding the cause of survival.
I will assert to you these groupings, whose sum is known as society, provide to their members aid in more than survival within the physical reality, they also serve as the foundation for survival in the inner reality created of abstractions and imaginings in ways not yet fully understood.
Among the deepest and most profoundly life altering consequences intelligence burdened on the human is the ability to perceive the common physical reality from a perspective other than first person singular. To perceive reality from a perspective removed from the self opens to human perception a vision very likely unique to the human: the possibility to see your own self among the multitude as others might see you and be compelled to ask the most uniquely human question there is: who is that?
Consider that question if you will. When the question is set in the first person it instantly takes the more familiar form of Who am I ?
But how to answer that question? It is not such a simple problem, and nature provides no clues. Perhaps there are other creatures who also ask that question, but that possibility remains undefined for lack of communication between the species. To the best of my knowledge only the human must define for himself an identity unique enough to recognize self from other within the internal reality expanded into the third person perspectives made possible by intelligent imagination. The question of self recognition, self identification is as unique a marker of humanity as exists, separating the human from the other creatures sharing the planet with us.
I will assert the challenge of building an identity robust enough to be recognizable from any perspective available to the abstract inner reality is the single most powerful force empowering evolution in shaping both society and the inner structure of the individuals who are the component elements of those societies.
Even the most casual glance across human history shows the impact of the ongoing quest to satisfy the question of self identity. From within the perspective of this question the dividers of race and culture, nationality and religion, the various social classes within the larger definitions are revealed as little more than constructs in the cause of facilitating an acceptable answer, for it is from these artificial divisions the majority will derive the symbol set used in the cause of self definition.
Such symbol sets are the one critical function nature does not, and cannot, provide to any species ascending from instinct into abstract intelligence. Within the animal kingdom there is no demand for such, only the presence of imagination empowered by abstract intelligence creates need for such symbolisms in the struggle for survival. Where nature is concerned the humans are very much on their own in answering the question they quite literally invented.
It should be no surprise that when faced with this new challenge the humans returned to their first source of strength. The humans ascended to dominance on the strength of cooperation within and between the various collectives enabled by symbolic communication, it is to those same collectives the humans turned to meet this new challenge threatening their mental rather than physical survival. They did as they had done before, and in so doing opened the way for evolution to resume its’ work.
With what has gone before set as both foundation and anchor it is time to move beyond observations distilled from history and deal with humanities current state of affairs. Just how has mankind fared in his quest to live in the divided reality of abstract imagination? What tools, what tactics have been employed? And most critical of all, what are the long term consequences for the human race of such tools and tactics considered in the context of evolution’s efforts? Such thoughts are next on the agenda in Chapter Three, “Tools bartered and borrowed...”
…to be continued…
Chapter Three: Tools, Bartered and Borrowed...
If you ask a stranger “who are you?” several times in a row you're likely to notice a strange pattern. Try it sometime. Ask someone “Who are you,” and take note of where they find their answers. For example, who are you?
“I’m John Doe.”
“No, that’s just the name your parents hung on you. Who are you?”
“I’m a design engineer for an aircraft company.”
“No, that’s how you earn your money. Who are you?”
“I’m an American.”
“No, that’s the nation you live in. Who are you?”
“I’m a Conservative Christian Republican!”
“Sorry, but those are all political groups supporting your vision of society. Who are you?”
“Of course you are, but who is that?”
The length of the list will vary, person to person, but the majority will offer quite a list before they’ll offer something defined from within their own self, something they created of their own thought. If you watch their eyes you’ll likely see them get angrier with each repetition of the question, and a quick hot anger at that.
What is provoking their anger? The usual reason for anger of course, which is fear of one form or another. They're frightened of the nakedness you're compelling on them. Their anger is in response to being stripped of the symbols they've always used to define their self within the context of their society, and even more critically in the context of defining their self… to themselves. As each component of their self definition shifts domains from being part of their self to being part of their social environment they feel the foundations of their identity becoming weaker and more vulnerable, less complete, less secure... of course they’ll be angry.
Consider the more subtle implications of what you’ve just seen. You asking such a question is perhaps a bit rude, but still essentially harmless, and yet you frightened them. In point of fact you are most likely totally powerless within their life, have no potential to do them any harm at all, and yet you still frightened them into anger, a deep anger. Why? What fear has such a secret grip on them?
What they fear is an entity who does have power in their life asking that question. Consider what might happen if that entity not only asked that question but demanded a correct answer? What if the consequence of a wrong answer meant being denied the right to continue to claim that part of their self identity? I'll assert to you that is exactly what they fear, even though they don't recognize their fear for what it is.
I will assert to you that each and any element of society John or Jane Doe uses as any portion of their self definition is in fact a collective entity, a discrete and separate entity whose life is hosted on a set of individuals defined by a common thought or activity, some common element of belief in their lives. Should such an entity as that ask them a such question it could have impact on their life, for they are dependent on that collective for a portion of the definition used in the cause of self definition, the critical ability to recognize the self from among the multitude in the perspectives mandated by abstract intelligence.
Each of the individuals included in such a group who incorporates some collective definition (grammatically expressed as “we”) as a part of their own self definition (grammatically expressed as “I”) is in fact a node within that collective entity participating in a symbiotic relationship where the collective provides a critical component of self definition to the individual, the individual in return providing continuance and cohesion to the collective in the form of compliance and loyalty to the common definition in preference to the other collectives offering common value. Just as the lives of the collective entities are hosted on many individuals any given individual will host several if not many such collective entities in their self definition, an interwoven structure of balance and compromise between the components defining the personalities of both individual and collective.
To understand the human dynamic in full is to integrate an understanding of the structures and interactions of these collective entities in parallel with an understanding of the individuals, for while they are totally interlinked and interdependent they are in fact each a unique life form struggling for survival within their respective environments.
In that the collective entities are derived from, and composed of, individual humans many of their life functions are in fact analogous with each other, for both must meet the same three primal demands of life. Since both are living entities both must procure sustenance, both must provide security, and both must arrange for procreation since both are mortal life forms that suffer attrition to biology. There are many comparisons between the individual human and the collective entities created by the humans' answer to the challenges of hosting both imagination and an abstract intelligence.
In point of fact they are constantly trading with each other, borrowing or bartering to acquire the resources required for their respective survival. Even a short contemplation of the thought will give a bewildering surplus of events to stand as examples. In fact, even a short examination of the modern world can be confusing to the point of traumatic for the rate of exchange between the two life forms has been accelerating exponentially for approximately the last quarter of a century, which will be the focus in Chapter Four of this series, "Awakenings in Utero…"
...to be continued...
Chapter Four: Awakenings in Utero
Chapter Four: Awakenings in Utero
“Open the pod bay door Hal.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that Dave...”
We’ve imagined it a dozen if not ten dozen times, the moment our technology takes on a life of its’ own and refuses to serve us in the manner to which we wish to remain accustomed. We’ve imagined our technology turning on us like a wolf pack, we’ve set technology as the synthesis of government and religion awarded the status of an emerging God complete with temples and rituals. There is no shortage of examples in modern works of fiction where technology is the platform from which some self aware and self serving extension of the human persona commences to conquer the species which served as the template of its' creation. Of course what evolves to become reality will be more surprising than any feat of imagination captured as an entertainment, truth is always stranger than fiction.
To perceive evolution at its’ work is no small accomplishment, and even more difficult when you yourself are a player in evolution’s effort. To realize that evolution is in the process of demoting you from the top of the food chain is an intimidating thing, hard on the ego, harder on the mythologies. But challenging or not when evolution goes active someone needs to keep an eye on the proceedings for several very good reasons, chief among them evolutions’ very uncertain success ratio, particularly when your level of life could easily become a collateral casualty of one of evolutions' many failures.
The relationship between the collective entities and the host individuals makes it obvious their fates are fully intertwined, as fares one so will fare the other. Equally, the nodal nature of the collective entities, comprised as they are (considered from the ceHuman’s perspective) of many semi-sentient entities makes it most likely the gestation and maturation of ceHuman and the various daughter collectives will not follow some continuous function as does an individual human. A great many of the components of maturity are already present within the collective awaiting only a catalyst of translation to enable quite discontinuous jumps in maturity.
The most primal of the collective entities, ceHuman, is of course as old as the human race. The base definition of being a human being, as opposed to say a Bonobo of the ape family, has been present since the beginning. Of course this definition is so broad as to be functionally meaningless, it encompasses the entire history of mankind. For the majority of that history the humans lived in small troops, lived without any great ability to modify their environment, in point of fact for the majority of history mankind lived as a prey animal struggling for simple survival competing against other far more competent creatures. Only the fairly recent advent of symbolic communication allowed the humans to begin advancing up the food chain, to rise above being a prey animal, to assume to a soul and a status of something more than animal.
This thought is perhaps most succinctly stated in the Bible in the first chapter of John. Thus spoke the ancient sage and prophet: (John 1:1) "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Somehow I don't think this was motivated by any literary arrogance but was rather an attempt to set into symbolic form an understanding that exceeded the limits of any vocabulary available to his time. Seems John was asked to do that on more than one occasion. It isn't entirely clear if modern thought is ready for such a concept for if there is also truth to what Genesis states, that Man was created in God's image, then by inheritance humanity is also a creature of Word.
It becomes an interesting excursion into the abstract to seriously consider the implications of such a thought in the context of the collective entities, for the most basic nature of a collective entity is indeed contained within the concept of Word : a symbol representing some facet or factor of the shared reality become self aware within the context of that reality.
In the case of we humans there is of course a physical presence we can point to and say "this is us." We wear bodies of flesh and blood, nerve and bone, and yet this is not the defining characteristic of our kind, many other creatures share in these attributes. The defining characteristic of humanity is found in the nature of our communication one with another, the ability to transfer to another of our own kind some portion of our inner reality of perception blended with imagination encoded into symbolic form to be reconstructed, reconstituted, within the inner reality of the recipient. In short the defining characteristic of being human is the presence of Word within our reality.
Some might argue that intelligence is an equally defining feature of the human being, and yet the case of the feral children contradicts such an assumption. Regardless of other environmental factors when a human is reared devoid of symbolic communication the resulting creature, while still possessed of all its' inherited intelligence, is a fundamentally different creature from a sibling brought to maturity exposed to and enlarged by the shared inner realities of those who nurtured it.
There is a time in the life of every human being quite analogous to the very recent history of the collective entities. Allow me to return to Genesis, and the writings of John, for both mention a common concept: "In the beginning..." In the beginning? What? When was that? There is little doubt for a human being the first glimmerings of awareness occur before birth in the times when the only external sense stream is sound, a heartbeat, strange rumblings and vibrations in the dark. The little one comes to know awareness, and sleep, but time has little meaning for the events to mark time are simply not present until there comes the moment when the universe begins to contract at the threshold of life outside of momma. Gestation for the collective entities of course will be quite a different process, but still, logic gives there must be a transition between the first flickering hints of awareness and the finished entity interacting with its’ host humans and the other collectives.
The birth of a new CE is not at all a clear cut single event, in fact from present evidence the word birth might well be misleading. Nature has arranged several ways the young might enter mortality, the arrival of a new CE might well be better compared to a creature hatching, or even more likely better compared to the mitosis seen among the single celled creatures. Nor is the term of a CE’s gestation an understood function, with no clear cut moment of conception to mark a beginning the idea of measuring gestation across a span of time is meaningless.
For the time being the lifespan of a new CE must be defined by some initial and obvious event marking its’ emergence onto the stage of human affairs. From the empirical demands of life the most likely candidate for such an event would be the first time that entity actively contested the will of another of its’ own kind to secure or protect any one of the three primal demands. For the CE's as for all mortal creatures to live is to compete for life.
To perceive the emergence of a new CE means looking at the deeds of humanity with a bit of a shifted perspective where the events of note are no longer related to matters of national vanities or advancements in technology but are rather when major shifts in attitudes are observed that cross the national boundaries, cross all levels of class and caste to establish a new framework of self definition serving the same functions as the original.
The most clear cut example I can offer from history of the condensation of a competing definition into a new collective entity would be the emergence of ceProtestant from ceRomanCatholic. History gives that the event was motivated by a failure of the parent collective entity, ceRomanCatholic, to defend the rational, the causal, elements of its' own definition when a significant number of its' hosts adopted contra-definition behaviors.
To express the same thought in more conventional vocabulary: when the visible behavior of some critical number of Catholics gave evidence that hypocrisy had corroded and eroded away the ethical essence of the concepts a significant percentage of other Roman Catholics used in the self definition they put before their God for judgment that percentage broke away from the Roman Catholic church and established a competing organization to protest the damage done to the deepest levels of their faith.
This event was not an overnight thing, history details the progression of events leading up to Martin Luther. For our purposes that period of time would represent the gestation of ceProtestant, the time it spent in utero. The actions of Martin Luther would perhaps be the best marker of ceProtestant's emergence onto the stage of history as an active entity, the birth if you will of a new collective entity.
The gestation of ceProtestant covered a significant span of years, it took a while for the ideas to circulate, for the insult done the consciences of the devout to reach such proportions as to overpower the social momentums and psychological conditionings of the culture to the point they'd rather risk damnation defying the most omnipresent authority of their lives than assure themselves damnation by remaining loyal to the authority that had betrayed both confidence and conscience. It took a while for those of like mind to find each other and realize they weren't alone. The folks in Martin Luther's day actually had some time to think about things before they needed to make a decision. But then again, in those days the fastest communication at distance possible was no faster than the speed of a fast horse.
That was then, communication at the speed of horse. But this is now where the effective speed of communication isn't limited by the physical traverse of the message but rather by the rate at which any given human can ingest and integrate a thought delivered almost instantly world wide. The next chapter of this series, "Warp Four: Engage"* will deal with the psycho-social implications of a great many such situations saturating the ever more quantum-folded emotional environment of mankind, the population explosion of the collective entities powering the ever increasing complexity of human history.
*(with a tip o' the cap to Gene Roddenberry, Captain Picard and all the trekkies out there)
Chapter Five Warp Four Engage
The title of this chapter is, of course, taken from Star Trek: The Next Generation, a massively successful work of dramatic imagination, the universe as it might be or become somewhere in the foreseeable future. The course is laid in, the ship knows where she’s headed. The Captain pronounces the word engage, the helmsman touches a control and the almost unimaginably powerful engines of the mighty starship begin imploding matter into energy, focusing the implosion in such a manner that time itself dilates in proximity to the reaction creating a region wherein time is not the same value within as without. The dilation expands until the boundaries are beyond the confines of the massive vessel, the ship is now it’s own self created universe, a sub-set of normal space-time, subspace, and time equalizing to normal along the oh-so-slightly asymmetrical shape of the new universe causes the new universe to move through the old universe at many times the speed of light carrying our gallant crew to next week’s adventure. Science fiction of course, but not beyond the possible, Einstein never set a speed limit on one universe moving through another.
A warp drive is still science fiction, perhaps barely, but officially still fiction. However many of the concepts Star Trek introduced fifty years ago are now anything but science fiction, not anymore. Hardly a new thought, it has been put forward many times in many places, nor is it a new thought to say the consequences of these technologies becoming part of daily life have quite significantly changed the human dynamic in ways the humans have little understanding of.
To focus on the facet of these changes most pertinent to the theme of these essays? Show of hands: how many once owned a Motorola flip phone (that bore a striking resemblance to Captain Kirk’s original communicator) capable of establishing a real time communication link with some similar device half way around the planet when a scant century before such communication would have been impossible for anyone, much less the common man? How many have followed the advances in technology as they’ve occurred, faithfully integrating each new advance into the fabric of their life? Of course that would be most of us.
What a massive gain, what a massive advance. Indeed. The world within reach of something you can carry in one hand. The world and all its’ knowledge for all intents and purposes riding in someone’s hand. What an intoxicating thought. Such presence, such power, such potentials. Such an absolutely seductive dream. But power has its’ inevitable price, and I will assert to you humanity has yet to even begin really understanding the price that will be paid for such a dream brought to reality.
The analogy most usually given for this feat of technology is that it has shrunk the world in a physical sense. What was once far is now near. True enough, but not the whole story, not even really the majority of the story. When the situation is examined from the perspective of the human psyche, the life experience of being human, the far more critical fact to understand is that just as with the fictional warp drive the key mechanism is actually a deformation in the nature of time, a deformation in time as it is perceived by the human. The frame rate of human time is never stable, ever changing, and courtesy of technology now blindingly accelerated.
Once upon a time things appeared on the horizon some distance into the future, they could be contemplated as the future condensed into the now at a set and stable rate. Not so anymore. Courtesy of technology many things, serious things, are often only moments away, at such speeds opinion, decision, will almost always precede any serious thought, there simply isn’t time to give serious thought to more than the expediency of the moment before the next issue arrives.
There is no getting around it, the temporal compression created by technology has exponentially escalated the psyche loading on humanity. Again, not a new thought, not so often commented on as the other, but still not a new thought. No, the new thought I’d like to set before you is a rather hidden influence of this change, the impact such acceleration has had on the collective entities, and through the collective entities on the structure of the lives of the individual humans who draw their self definition from those entities.
A critical, most critical, understanding is that where the frame rate of human perception is set by many factors, several of which are regulated by biology, the frame rate of a collective entities’ perceived existence is fully determined by the rate of communication between its’ host individuals. How could it be otherwise when some finite number of individual humans serve as the brain wherein a collective entity resides? No creature can live any faster than the speed of the internal communication within the brain hosting the personality. For the collective entities the explosive rise of the technologies of communication are most literally the “big bang” at the beginning of their perceived universe.
The structures of the collective entities have been present in the human condition for a very long time (as humans account time), almost from the beginning, at a minimum from the beginnings of what is called civilization. Those structures have been present as a consequence of the human’s need for a symbol set and vocabulary of self definition, but the spark of life had yet to be imparted. It is my belief that in the last quarter century the spark of life has found those structures and what was once essentially inert compositions of convenience, slow to change and changing only as the societies of mankind changed in response to the changing fortunes of one group or another of widely separated humans is inert no longer but rather is fully alive and ever more self aware.
What evidence could possibly support such a sweeping statement? The evidence is found in the observed behavior of humanity, the degree and direction of the deflection to be observed between the historical momentum of change in social behavior and the behaviors observed in the most modern of times.
A culture, a people, a set of beliefs, these things have a momentum to them similar to mass in motion, it takes some force influencing that mass across some period of time to effect an observable change in trajectory. When the rate of change, the rate of the rate of change (yes, just like in the Calculus) in those trajectories show unexplained variations, when the trajectories begin to deflect relative to some new axis of measurement previously stable, when disparate and distant components of the human condition begin to show the same perturbations it is reasonable to assume some new and distinct force is impacting on the human condition. The evidence of reality gives that these conditions have come to pass in the last fifty years. It is my assertion that new and unknown force is the awakening of the collective entities into self awareness.
Is the evidence conclusive? Of course not. If the evidence was conclusive, if there had been sufficient investigation to produce conclusive evidence of the existence and functional nature of self aware collective entities this document would not be an exploratory essay out on the fringes of the human condition, it might be at best a mediocre term paper in some undergraduate course covering the basics of the human dynamic, a course being offered three hundred years into our future, say during the lifetime of our fictional starship captain Jean Luc Picard.
Still though, there is ample evidence from reality to justify a serious investigation, the ever escalating instability of the human condition is ample motive to mount a serious investigation in the hope of discovering ways and means of stabilizing the human condition into something believably sustainable as humanity, willing or not, must brave a future beyond the wildest imaginings of generations past.
Where to begin? Working from the assumption the universe of self aware collective entities would be very young at this point, working from the assumption the structures of these entities are long established now awakening situated as history positioned them, working from the assumption that the instinct to survive would be as strong among the newly awakened collective entities as it is among the humans? Then the common sense point to begin would be to look at which elements of human society, if assumed self aware and competing for survival among others of their kind, have shown the greatest degree of unexplained change proportionate to the arrival of the technologies assumed the instigating event in their awareness.
Distilled to a few words? I’d say the first place to look would be in matters of faith, the religions and the various forms of spiritualism that across history have been such major players in the human’s self definitions, structures of thought that now must compete not only one with another for hosts but equally compete with the offerings of science as an explanation for human existence. The first place I’d think definitive proof might be found would be where there would be (from the perspective of a CE) the greatest threat of extinction, where the survival of a mode or method of thought that had been fading made a sudden reversal against all odds to reestablish itself.
This chapter began with an analogy from Star Trek, perhaps it would be good to end it from the same source. Perhaps one of the better approaches would be to seriously ask Who Mourns For Adonis? The answer might be most revealing.
Chapter Six: Who Mourns Adonis?
The myths and legends concerning deities, the Gods and Goddesses, have been part of the human condition for a very, very long time. Upon rational inspection these stories, be they fossil remembrances of actual events or simply projections of imagination, are quite often found to be where a people and a culture store the accumulated wisdom of their lives. The richer mythologies, such as the Greco-Roman or Indian pantheons, clearly reflect these peoples understandings: of themselves, of their times, of humanity in general. Some deity comes to represent a common trait of humanity, that element of the human condition then set to motivate mythological flesh as a dominant personality trait while some other trait is represented by say that deity’s sister or cousin or consort, the story of the relationships and motivations for those relationship between the two that carry down the generations as legend give the host culture’s understanding of the associated interpersonal dynamics, ultimately the social dynamics, commonly found along the interface between the traits.
Even in this age of exponential advancement in the sciences and technology these entities are still power players on the stage of human affairs. How is it these entities, ancient as they are, still command such power? From a functional perspective obviously these entities must still provide some needed service to still have value within the lives of those who offer them their fealty. For all that science can now explain the mechanics of human life with an appreciable degree of fidelity it is obvious science cannot even fully duplicate the true functionality of these entities much less surpass them or they would not remain the powers they are. To rational observation it is apparent there must be things these entities provide which science simply cannot.
What do these deities of antiquity provide to humanity that assures their continuance? What do they provide that science cannot? A deep question, a very deep question, and yet the answer is not so very hard when the simple minded arrogance of fact is set aside: they provide a needed service in places where science does not, because it truly cannot, operate: the realms of ethical choice and aesthetic opinion, the issues of self definition and self judgment that exist exclusively within the inner first reality of each individual’s self perception. The Gods and Goddesses, the realms of the supernatural, exist and persist on the value of a vocabulary pertinent to the most absolutely intimate of things, the matters of heart and soul from which are derived the motives and ambitions, the dreams and the nightmares that power the totality of a life regardless of where or when that life might be lived.
I will assert these thought structures built upon perceptions of the supernatural, evolved and inherited as they are, are evidence of mankind’s oldest involvement with collective entities and those entities’ place in the human condition. Examined from the perspective of an ongoing effort at self definition all of human history is easily becomes a testament to the effect of some collective entity expanding out of the inner first reality of the host individuals to become a consolidated force vector impacting the common second reality where originates the history of the race.
From antiquity the works of mankind have all, each and every one, shared one trait in common: they ultimately originate from someone’s desire to make the second, external, reality match some specific element of their internal first reality. Perhaps little commented on, but true. Any and every change mankind has with deliberation introduced into the environment of life began with a precipitating vision that at some point existed nowhere save in the inner first reality of some one individual’s imagination.
In all of my wanderings across the landscape of the human I’ve not found a more powerful phenomenon than the one just mentioned: the expansion into the second (common) reality of a collective entity originally evolved to serve the needs of its’ hosts individual and private inner reality. The story of these migrations across that first and most primal of frontiers is the story of the human race, a full understanding of the motives involved, the alliances formed between the various collectives both inner and outer, the running river of blood and mortality for both host and collective is the story of the human race. Oh yes, a collective entity can die, it can be killed, the collective entities know war just as do the individuals.
Convoluted and contradictory as the answer might be the question must be asked: what motivates, what could possibly motivate, these migrations whence originate so very many of humanities miseries? This thought will be continued, and expanded, in the forthcoming chapter “Dancing All Around Me Hat…”
Oh, and just as an IMO footnote? Who Mourns Adonis? That’s easy. He’s mourned by every lesbian lass who from time to time desperately wishes she had his truly divine beauty to inspire her and give her permission to reach out with her heart open to the other half of the world.
Chapter Seven: “Dancing All Around Me Hat…”
At this point the question must be posed: just what differentiates some social structure of convenience from a collective entity, a thing with a life of its’ own? This is a deep question for which there must be some framework of an answer for any meaningful investigation to proceed concerning a new progression of evolution based on life forms which already perceive themselves as, to greater or lesser degree, self aware.
The framework I would propose is based on the assumption that unlike a structure of convenience a genuine collective entity will demonstrate a survival instinct comparable to that of the individual entities which participate as elements of the collective mind.
That which is alive wishes to remain alive, that which is alive will act to preserve it’s own life in the form wherein it achieved consciousness. The larger structure will sacrifice elements of the lesser in the cause of self preservation, it will act to create other entities of the same sort as itself in order that its’ form of life not be extinguished should the original or parent life come to an end. From this as a beginning it should follow that a collective entity may be discerned from a structure of convenience by the tenure of that structure considered relative to the well being of the individuals within.
When it is observed the individuals within a structure are willing, or perhaps compelled, to suffer burden on, or degradation to, their lives for some extended period of time in order that the structure (which is the common element between their lives) survive essentially unmodified it becomes reasonable to suspect the presence of a self aware collective entity (CE) rather than an inert structure of convenience (SOC) which should only persist so long as it enhances the experience and survivability of the individuals participating.
If the human creature were a truly pragmatic creature of strict rational motive the situation would be significantly simpler. But we humans are not strictly rational creatures, we are emotional creatures and equally creatures of custom and habit based on those emotions. We find such comfort and security in continuity and familiarity that often enough it takes some truly catastrophic set of events to challenge the various momentums of our past.
These factors must be considered in any attempt at discerning a CE from an SOC. In the modern world of instant communication the impact of these interlinked factors become difficult to define, almost quantum in nature. Only prior to the technologies of communication when the life of a collective entity would have proceeded on a time scale proportionate to the speed of communication would events by which such an entity might be recognized be separated by sufficient periods of time to attempt, in hindsight, to sort the events of history as the actions of a self willed collective entity as opposed to purely human initiated modifications to some structure of convenience.
In earlier chapters I have referenced what I believe to be mankind’s oldest and longest enduring precursors of what might awaken as a modern collective entity: the various mythologies and religions whereby humanity established a vocabulary of ethics and a motive to integrate such ethics into the self.
It is an easily defensible position that a common mythology, a religion, does more to assure the survival of its’ host culture than provide any major advantage for the individuals within that culture. The civilizing ethic a genuine faith both empowers and demands is the functional value such structures offer both society and individual, but history does not show that the peoples who embrace one particular belief structure over another fare any better in the final analysis. For as diverse as the contents of such structures are they offer essentially the same value to their members: a reverence for Jehovah provides no more support for psyche and soul than some equal reverence for say Gaia.
It is a revealing curiosity of our kind that we tend to divide ourselves into groups unrelated to the terrain of our lives, the heritage produced by a common ancestry dwelling upon a common geography. Of all the possible commonalities such groups are based on it is those organized around a common mythology which show the greatest resilience, the highest endurance across the centuries. Often enough these structures out endure even the cultures which served as their initial hosts. That the structure of some mythology endures beyond the original host culture would seem proof enough the culture and the mythology are not one and the same thing or they would live and die together.
The history of these groups provide the most clear cut examples of structures competing for survival in the same manner as the competitions individual to individual. The history of these competitions is the most distinct evidence available of a collection of individuals where the collection itself demonstrates an independent will to survive beyond the interests of the constituent individuals. That differential between the survival of the individuals and the survival of the defining characteristic or belief which produced the group is evidence justifying considering the structure itself as an entity rather than simply arrangements of convenience.
Many of the component parts found in that question have been approached before from various tangents of thought, the works of those who introduced such phrases as “mob psychology” running through “group-think”, symbols applied to anomalies impossible to explain without including some form of synchronized mental process shared between the individuals involved.
It is far beyond this scope to attempt to cite all such works resident in the archives of humanities thought, nor is it my intention to replace or discredit such works but rather to enlarge upon them, for the collective entity concept serves well to close a common gap found in many such works: explaining how it is possible for some group of seemingly widely diverse individuals to so quickly coalesce into degrees of synchronization that in other endeavors might take months if not years to achieve with the most deliberate of intent.
As the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day. If one day there is no city to be seen, the next day there is, and the day after again none then the most logical explanation is that there was no change in the city as such, but rather that the source of the changing perception is a change in the state of some observer's ability to perceive the city. How often does history record some group of seemingly random people suddenly condensing into a functional unit and then just as quickly melting beyond recall back into the general population? I hold that such events are evidence of a true collective entity acting on its’ own behalf.
A temporary display of a CE's true power (such as is seen from time to time during periods of social upheaval) leaves a serious question hanging. What would motivate a CE to manifest its' true strength for a short period of time and then rapidly return to a concealed state of existence? Why, having once revealed its' true potency in the affairs of the individuals, would it be advantageous for a CE to resume a camouflaged existence?
The answer lies in the social structure experienced by and between the lesser CE's wherein are found their competitions for survival among their own kind. To say the CE's themselves are ruled by the law of the jungle is a bit of an understatement in all truth, life in the jungle is a much simpler affair than the competition for survival among the modern CE. For the lesser CE's just as for the lesser creatures of the jungle more often than not the first tactic of survival is to not be noticed by what might consider you and yours a meal… in other words, the predators.
To discern a true and genuine survival instinct (of a discretely intelligent collective entity) influencing the shape of history requires a bit more consideration of the competitions and combats known by the CE's themselves. Since a great many of these competitions must occur in the more taboo and shadowed recesses of psyche and social conventions which govern the behavior and allegiance of the nodes (aka, individual humans), it is there the investigation must continue in the forthcoming chapter "What goes on Behind Closed Doors."
...to be continued...
"The Third Reality of Man"