Re: MISC: At the Cusp

Omega (
Sat, 25 Jan 1997 21:30:25 -0800

David Musick wrote:

<snip> Some great Wisdom regarding the nature of technology.

> Even our very minds are technological in nature,
> the very way we *think* has been shaped and tinkered with over many thousands
> of years by countless humans, an ongoing technological project, passed down
> from generation to generation.

This is an interesting perspective, one that highlights how intertwined our
beings and our actions are.

> Those who condemn technology as being "cold"
> are condemning Humanity itself. We *are* technology. Our minds and thought
> patterns are technology itself. Even most of our emotional responses are
> *learned*, and thus technological in nature.
> Building nuclear reactors is not different in its basic nature than building
> sand castles or stacking blocks.
> Calling technology "cold" is a form of self-damnation and self-loathing. It
> is the "original sin" doctrine in another form. Our basic nature is as
> technological creatures, we are learning, manipulating beings. That is what
> we *are*. To condemn technology is to condemn learning, is to condemn oneself
> and one's very nature.

These are all real gems that I'm going to remember for future reference.

> Death is simply a *tradition*; it is not essential to
> life itself. I say: Question Tradition. Find better ways of doing things.

While I agree with most of what you said regarding death, I feel that we should
not overlook the probable fact that any sufficiently great transformation is
indistinguishable from death from a great many viewpoints. In a fully trans-
human life, there is little promise that our egoic identities won't be so fluid
that the death of moment to moment forms (be they physical or virtual) won't be
an integral part of our lives.

The extropian philosophy looks rightly skeptically upon death as we have always
known it. As humans we may approach it in numerous ways (fearfully, or otherwise)
but ultimately we have never had any choice whatsoever as to the ultimate result
(cyronics being the first deviation from this). With trans-humanism, I strongly
believe that the extropian view of ending death is greatly oversimplified. Sure
it might no longer take place in the old way, but in the moment to moment birth
and death of manifest form, I suspect we will have a smorgasbord of choices that
lead in a myriad of ways; that essentially we will be trading physical death
in for endless ego death in its place. I'm all for it, but let's not under-
estimate what we think we are proposing.

> Having vivid memories of a past life is not sufficient evidence that one has
> actually been reincarnated, and more importantly, it is not sufficient
> evidence that one will be reincarnated after one's life ends this time.

The points about reincarnation are good, as the possibility for delusion runs
rampant in these areas. I would, however, apply some double skepticism about
interpreting these kind of memories. I think it's very reasonable to be
skeptical of claims of reincarnation as defined in the normal sense as a one
to one relation between one's ego identity and that of some person who lived
in the past. Going beyond this, however, to reject random memories of people
who have lived in the past, for me, requires assumptions about the nature of
reality that I'm not convinced are justified. Sure it's outside the existing
paradigm, but on the other hand the paradigm is just theory (albeit a very
good one as compared to past ones) while the memory itself (if one has had such)
is direct experience, and holding theory out over direct experience is always
a shaky proposition. (I remember reading somewhere that 150 years ago, theory
told us that women didn't have orgasms.)

> As far as I'm concerned, the experience of the Divine is self-generated. When
> one is out in a forest or on a high mountain and one feels one's deep
> connection to everything, the feeling is quite orgasmic, and we call it
> Divine. The experience of the Divine is self-generated and masturbatory in
> nature. The feeling is very real, but we are the cause of it. It's basically
> a drug induced state of mind, like an orgasm is; it's just that the drugs are
> created by our own bodies, just like an orgasm. The most potent drugs are
> produced right in our own brains. Those, like myself, who have experienced
> these "Divine" states of mind, become very addicted to that drug-induced state
> of mind, and we work at finding more reliable ways to trigger this response
> within ourselves. These methods are our rituals (a form of technology), which
> we modify and evolve, to make them more effective at producing the effects we
> want. We are druggies, basically, trying to get our fix. Pure hedonism.

Very true, but: Are these experiences "real"? If they connect us to some
aspect of reality that we ordinarily miss, then perhaps masturbatory might not
be the correct word. Or slightly easier, do these experiences "have value"?
Your own next paragraph answers the second question.

> I welcome Joy Williams to the Extropan List; I am sure that Joy has much to
> offer and can contribute to our lively discussions of all kinds of interesting
> things. I am an Extropian who also, like Joy, embraces "spiritual" things, in
> the sense of being highly sensitive to the dynamics of life around me and
> becoming highly affected by beautiful experiences. I work to maintain that
> beautiful background hum of bliss and contentment that marks the spiritual
> life, and I strive to deepen my awareness and appreciation of every detail in
> my life. Extropianism is not against spirituality, but it *is* against dogma,
> because dogma closes one off to finding better ways of doing things, and
> finding better ways of doing things is the core of Extropianism.

All in all, I thank you for your insightful and well thought-out post. I
find your writing inspiring, and the more I read it, the more I like it.

In the Ecstatic Service of Life -- Omega