Reilly Jones (
Fri, 25 Jul 1997 19:09:40 -0400

Nigel Jacob wrote 7/25/97: <It is my contention that the notion of a
physical Frontier to be explored, settled, tamed, understood etc. is
central in determining whether or not humanity (either en masse, or
individually) can "evolve", in any meaningful use of that term. Thus, I a=
curious as to whether or not any of you think that extropianism can succe=
as a movement within the confines of a society without an accessable
Frontier. Is it likely that extropianism, or any phenomological decenden=
of such, can truly take hold within this society? And if so, do we risk
becoming a subculture?>

Anders Sandberg mentioned frontiers of space and the Net, there are other=

formulations of "frontier" floating around in the conceptual stew. There=

are many books characterizing science and technological development as
"frontiers of knowledge." There are "spiritual frontiers" cropping up on=

various web sites (e.g., - "I feel that the time=

has come for us to venture into the frontier of the spirit which stretche=
broadly on all sides at the fringes of our established rules and
standards"). There are "frontiers of the heart" (see Michael Malone's
article in "Forbes ASAP" of 12/2/96). There are "frontiers of art," see
Natasha More's "Extropic Art Manifesto" or A.N. Whitehead's observation: =

"The human body is an instrument for the production of art in the life of=

the human soul. It unlooses depths of feeling from behind the frontier
where precision of consciousness fails." There is an extropic need to
complexify both ourselves and the outside world in order to open wide the=

metaphysical space between them, a frontier, for discoveries both
scientific and artistic.

There is a recent history of viewing physical frontiers as promoting virt=
or redemption through various forms of imperialism, whether earlier
colonialism or later global "running-dog" capitalist. John Ruskin in 187=
was very influential in promoting the British mission to expand into the
frontier of less virtuous peoples, quite similar to American "Manifest
Destiny." Frederick Turner's essay "The Significance of the Frontier in
American History" (1893) argued that since the closure of the frontier in=

America (the claiming of the Cherokee Strip in 1889), opportunities for
growth and self-renewal would be shut off, leading to decadence. Turner
held that the frontier experience was central to America's character, "th=
meeting point between savagery and civilization." In other words, an
extropic arena of vitality. From about 1900 onwards, America's political=

elite has looked to the Pacific and Asia for frontier-like expansion,
always westward, although they have been frequently frustrated by the
well-armed foreigners in their way. This will continue.

Speaking of extropic arenas of vitality, some hold that cyberspace will
eventually have many jurisdictions, rather than One World Government. =

These jurisdictions will act much like the medieval frontiers or marches,=

where sovereignties overlapped and jostled. In these frontier areas,
before statism took solid root, institutional and legal forms developed
that approximated what "competitive" polycentric government might look li=
(see "Medieval Frontier Societies" (1992) eds. Robert Bennett and Angus

Frontiers are not "goals," a frequent misapplication of the term, they ar=
boundaries. They are really physical, meaning spatial, or rather
territorial. Any use of the word "frontier" outside of this meaning is
only metaphorical.

The frontier mentality cannot be purged from humanity, no matter how fill=
the earth becomes. An evolutionary search in fitness space will continue=
not much different from probes at the ends of tentacles of primitive
one-celled animals. Get out! Move! Get away! Find sustenance! =


It is human nature to be plagued by major cross-purposes: to be differen=
*and* to be similar, or as I put it in my history paper on the ExI websit=
"Life is a struggle between seeking and avoiding surprise." Cultural
speciation precedes human speciation. Cultural speciation is, by
definition, the formation of sub-cultures. So becoming a sub-culture is
hardly a "risk," it is the extropic aim. The idea of a unity of humanity=
a single global culture, makes us itchy. We are too hemmed in here. We
are like restless ants, and our restlessness is ratcheting up. Space is
only real physical frontier to escape the World Surveillance State.

Absent a frontier, absent space to dream in, and move in, humanity implod=
into a stagant dogmatic sinkhole. From the experience of the Crusades as=

overcoming limits, to the proto-spirituality of the Chartres Cathedral an=
the epoch of Scholasticism, to the Protestant Revolution and the scientif=
enterprise it spawned; it has been *Space* (or Extension), that was place=
at the pinnacle of spirituality. Our true longing, to expand and grow, o=
pioneer spirit that took us from medieval Paris westward through the
wilderness to the Oregon Territory, is to leave earth physically and
explore outer space.

Short of being able to do this, we are reaching out to create and then ta=
the wilderness of cyberspace. Cyberspace, after all the media hype is
boiled down, is simply a temporary stopover, a holding pattern, until our=

technology advances further into real space. The impetus we have to delv=
into cyberspace is the same impetus we had in Chartres Cathedral, a plung=
into cyberspace can invoke the same feelings as looking up through those
high windows in Chartres. The same individuals who would call Chartres '=
pile of rocks,' would call a Ferrari a 'rolling hunk of metal,' and
cyberspace mere 'electrons on a phosphor screen.' Such minds are staring=

fixedly at the mud. We turn and look at the stars, the infinite frontier=

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