Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Illuminating Discord: An interview with Robert Anton Wilson

"Voting wouldn’t excite me unless it included electing the directors of the big banks and corporations, who make the real decisions that affect our lives." Robert Anton Wilson.

CRNLA: What is your present involvement in “movement” activities?

RAW: I’m more involved in space migration, intelligence increase and life extension which seems to me more important than any mammalian politics. What energy I have for terrestrial brawling goes into Wavy Gravy’s Nobody for President campaign, the Firesign Theatre’s Papoon for President campaign, and the Linda Lovelace for President (which I invented myself, since we ought to have a good-looking cocksucker in the White House for once.) I think these campaigns have some satirical-educational function, and, at minimum, they relieve the tedium of contemplating the “real” candidates, a more-than-usual uninspiring lot this year. Voting wouldn’t excite me unless it included electing the directors of the big banks and corporations, who make the real decisions that affect our lives. It’s hard to get excited about the trained seals in Washington. Of course, if voting could change the system, it would be illegal. Teachers would be handling out pamphlets for children to take home proving that voting machines cause chromosome damage, and Art Linkletter would claim that a ballot box drove his daughter to suicide.


Excerpts from HYPERPOLITICS by Mark Pesce

Introduction by way of a poem:

Good Catch In A Lonely Network

Keep your heart near the music
You, and yours fill up the definition: muse
Make cupids touch your favourite
wrapped up in speaker cables
with a mouse mat under your hat

All my great whispers to
your heart and your voice
Defined by a USB stick
Data drive to the movies
Together, upstairs.

To be alone on the web of Billions
Seems impossible
nothing can fall
through this net.



"All actions generate equal and opposing forces, rising to meet
them. This is the essence of Taoism, as well as Newton’s Second
Law of Motion. Politics is the art of opposition, hence why von
Clausewitz said that war is the continuation of politics by other
means.—pg 7

 The level of direct human addressability of the species in toto can
be calculated as the ratio of total number of subscribers versus the
total world population: 5,400,000,000 / 6,900,000,000 or 0.7826.
As we move deeper into the 21st century, this figure will approach
1.0: all individuals, rich or poor, young or old, post-graduate or
illiterate, will be directly connected through the network. This
type of connectivity is not simply unprecedented, nor just a unique
feature in human history, this is the kind of qualitative change that
leads to a fundamental reorganization in human culture. This, the
logical culmination in the growth in human connectivity from the
aural tribe to the landline telephone, can be termed
hyperconnectivity, because it represents the absolute amplification of
all the pre-extant characteristics in human communication,
extending them to ubiquity and speed-of-light instantaneity.—pg 15

A group of hyperconnected individuals choosing to
hyperdistribute their knowledge around an identified domain can
engender hyperintelligence. That hyperintelligence is not a static
actor. To be in relation to a hyperintelligence necessarily means
using the knowledge provided by that hyperintelligence where,
when and as needed. The more comprehensive the
hyperintelligence, the greater the range of possible uses and
potential effects.—pg 21.
Page numbers to PDF article (not printed page numbers).

The desire to conserve that power led the guilds to
become increasingly zealous in the defense of their knowledge
domains, their ‘secrets of the craft’.
The advent of Gutenberg’s moveable-type printing press made it
effectively impossible to keep secrets in perpetuity. One
individual could pen a single, revealing text, and within a few
months all of Europe would learn what they knew. Secrets were
no longer enough to preserve the sanctity knowledge domains.
Ritual cast a longer shadow, and in this guise, as the modern
protector of the mysteries, the university becomes the companion
to the professional association, indoctrinating then licensing
candidates for entry into the professions. The professions of
medicine, law, engineering, architecture, etc., emerged from this
transition from the guilds into modernity. These professional
associations exist for one reason: they assign place, either within
the boundaries of the organization, or outside of it. An unlicensed
doctor, a lawyer who has not ‘passed the bar’, an uncredentialed
architect all represent modern instances of violations of ritual
structures that have been with us for at least fifty thousand years.

--Hyperpolitics pg.19

Hyperconnectivity, hyperdistribution, hyperintelligence and
hyperempowerment have propelled human culture to the midst of
a psychosocial phase transition, similar to a crystallization phase in
a supersaturated solution, a ‘revolution’ making the agricultural,
urban and industrial revolutions seem, in comparison, lazy and
incomplete. Twenty years ago none of this toolkit existed nor was
even intimated. Twenty years from now it will be pervasively and
ubiquitously distributed, inextricably bound up in our selfdefinition
as human beings. We have always been the product of
our relationships, and now our relationships are redefining us.—Pg. 22

They don’t need fancy services – and wouldn’t use them.
They only need to be connected to other people. That in itself is
entirely sufficient. People come fully equipped to provide all the
services they need. Nothing else is required. Five thousand years
of civilization have seen to that. We know how to organize our
own affairs – and can do so without any assistance. But now we
can do so globally and instantaneously. That’s not a power
restricted to the billion richest of us; it’s now within reach of half
of us, and improves the lives of the poor far more than it helps us.
Our innate capacity for self-organization, now extended and
amplified almost infinitely, has itself produced some unpredicted
and unexpected effects.—Pg 29.

“The net regards censorship as a failure, and routes
around it.”
At the time Gilmore made this statement, he was talking politics.
Gilmore is a political animal – many of you probably know of his
long-running tangle with US Homeland Security over the free
right to travel within the States without having to display ID.
And, for many years this aphorism was interpreted as a political
maxim – that political censorship of the net was essentially
impossible.—pg. 30

In a future which looks increasingly like the present, there is no
center anywhere, no locus of authority, no controlling power
ordering our daily lives. There are no governments, no
institutions, no businesses that look anything like the limited
liability enterprises born in the Netherlands five hundred years
ago. Instead, there are groupings, networks within the network,
that come together around a project or ideology, a shared sense of
salience (meaning) for that group. The product of that network
could be Wikipedia – or it could be al Qaeda. Buy the ticket, take
the ride. And it’s not over yet. The network hasn’t finished changing, and it
hasn’t finished changing us.—Pg. 33.

But what does the Meraki Mini have to do with the end of the
telcos? Just this: a mesh network is a network that’s been subject
to the corrosive effects of a network. There is no center anywhere.
There’s no hierarcy or preferred route. There’s no gatekeeper
anywhere. You can have one gateway, or twenty. You can have
one mesh node or a thousand. Just throw another mesh node into
the mix, and it’ll all work seamlessly. And mesh networks scale:
the dynamics of a network of a thousand mesh repeaters aren’t
substantially different from a network with ten. Packets still find
their way, with minimal delay.—pg. 34.

But for the past thirty five minutes, you’ve all been bathing in
WiFi, which I’m providing to all of you, free of charge. You’ve all
got good signal, and (I hope) plenty of bandwidth to blog, or
check email, or whatever you might want to do when I get boring.
And here’s the kicker – it’s all running off batteries. The whole
thing is good for at least four hours of fun before someone needs to
go find the mains. And, because it’s both entirely battery powered
and entirely wireless, I can drop it anywhere in I like, whether in
Australia or America or Namibia.—Pg. 36

You need to reach into that bucket of dreams and
ambitions and pull something out to share with us mob, something
that will dazzle and excite us. It might only do so for a moment,
but, in that moment, your social stock will rise so high that you’ll
never have to worry about putting food on the table or paying the
mortgage. You may not retire a millionaire, but you’ll certainly
never go hungry. The mob is a meritocracy – admittedly a very
perverse and bizarre meritocracy – but it is the one place where
“quality will out”. Quality only comes from the marriage of craft
and obsession. You have the craft. Embrace your obsessions.
You will be rewarded.—Pg. 39

 I need to leave you with one concrete example of how this is all
going to work, and for this example I’ve selected the last bastion of
authority and hierarchy – after everything else has dissolved into
the gray goo of the network, one thing will remain. It won’t be
government – that’s half gone already. It’s medicine. Medicine is
very nearly the oldest of the professions, and has been a closely
held monopoly for half a thousand years – closer to a guild than
anything resembling a modern profession. Why? Medicine is
guarded by the twin bulwarks of complexity and mortality:
medicine is rich and deep body of knowledge, and, if you screw it
up, you’ll kill yourself or somebody else. While the pursuit of
medical knowledge is conducted within the peer-review
frameworks of science, that knowledge is closely held. That leaves
all of us – as patients – in a distinctly disempowered position when
it comes to medicine. But that is all going to change.—Pg. 39

But the mob won’t wait forever. Remember: it is smarter and faster and stronger than
you. You can try to get in front of it, and get picked up by it –
I’ve given you more than enough clues to do that – or you can get
run down. That choice is yours. But if I’ve learned anything from
my study of mob rules, it’s that the future lies in making networks
happen. If you do that, there’s a place for you with us mob. – Pg. 41

The lovely thing about science is that the truth eventually
triumphs. Just this year a number of papers – including a few by
E. O. Wilson – describe what biologists are now calling “multilevel”
selection; that is, a process of natural selection which
includes both the individual and groups of individuals. Within the
individual, selfish behaviors are selected for, but with social
groups, altruistic behaviors can be just as strongly selected for.
Consider two prides of lions, one of which has a number of females
who have opted-out of breeding, while another has an assemblage
of selfish individuals, all of whom are breeding. When each pride
is threatened, or needs food, the pride with the altruistic
individuals will tend to succeed, while the pride with only selfish
individuals will tend to fail. The pressures of natural selection will
tend to select altruism over selfishness when selecting between
groups, but tends to select selfish individuals within either group.—Pg 46.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Occupy Guy Fawkes Carnival With a 'V' Mask

The world is being shaken by protests against the excesses of finance, but this is not a revolution – it is a carnival. That does not make it false, but wise. Real revolution is bloody and cruel and mad. A carnival is entertaining and opens up questions that cannot usually be asked. Guy Fawkes has become the king of a carnival of questions. Far from being sinister, his mask is a jokey icon of festive citizenship.