Cognitive Implication of Globality via Temporal Inversion
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 11 Jun 2018
Embodying the Future through Higher Derivatives of Time
Illusory projection along the arrow of time?
11 Jun 2018 – There is a widespread, if not dominant, strategic concern with the future and its prospects. This naturally takes a variety of forms. These include anxiety over prospects of collapse, articulation of remedial proposals and plans, emphasis on the vital importance of growth, and promotion of the need for change and transformation. Less evident are various agendas for a New World Order and anticipation of the arrival of a saviour of some kind, whether framed as new leadership, artificial intelligence, a prophesied Messiah, or extraterrestrials.
Whatever the framing, this implies a collapse of the old order at a singularity in time — however any newly emergent order is then to be understood. These prospects elicit preoccupation with control and the implication for governance — however this may be related to the “international community” and the appeals now made to it (International Community as God or Sorcerer’s Apprentice? 2015).
The present is also witness to various strategies of escaping to elsewhere. These may include back to nature, gated communities, transfer to seaholdings, shift to other planets — or to other galaxies. Following various spiritual traditions, these may take the form of retreating to intentional and meditative communities, including ecosteries. The direction of escape may however take the form of an escape to the past or to the distant future — however this may be imagined and cultivated. Use of psychoactive drugs may be valued in this respect.
In the “enhanced interrogation” that this collectively implies, there is a sense of being painfully stretched on a “rack of time:” within the current reality — whether stretched to 2030, to 2050, or to 2100 — and reinforced by contractual arrangements over time. Locked into this linear reality, there is very much the sense of “doing time” — a common jargon description of incarceration.
The requisite forms of change and adaptation envisaged imply their own form of pain for many, as might be inferred from the recent articulation by Kevin Kelly (The Inevitable: understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future, 2017).
The role of the “missing” in human evolution has been highlighted by Terrence Deacon (Incomplete Nature: how mind emerged from matter, 2012). It is then useful to ask whether there is a dimension — or a kind of dimensionality — which is somehow “missing” from such framings of time. Does the existing framing of change and growth constitute a form of distraction — obscuring a significant degree of misdirection?
Could this be explored as a peculiar kind of confidence trick — possibly involving a degree of paradox? Is there a form of “big lie” to be recognized in this misdirection, as can be variously argued (Existential Challenge of Detecting Today’s Big Lie: mysterious black hole conditioning global civilization? 2016; Global Economy of Truth as a Ponzi Scheme: personal cognitive implication in globalization? 2016; Lipoproblems: Developing a Strategy Omitting a Key Problem, 2009; Vigorous Application of Derivative Thinking to Derivative Problems, 2013).
The concern in what follows is how a sense of a missing dimension is already recognized and valued to a degree — however faintly and variously. The question is therefore how this might be related to a different understanding of time and to the clues which are offered to that experience. In other words, is there a formal articulation which could offer an indicative framework for imaginative experiential engagement with a quite different sense of “temporal direction”? Can the future be rendered present “otherwise”?
This would be distinct from the implications of the linear “arrow of time“, or even of recent indications of the possibility of its “reversal”. The possibility of other ways of thinking about such matters has long been given a degree of focus by the imaginative appeal of some popular science fiction (such as the extraterrestrial Time Lords of Doctor Who) and of the famous children’s tale by Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865; Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, 1871). The latter framed access to a strange world through a “rabbit hole” — itself a notable inspiration for the controversial “documentary” What the Bleep! Down the Rabbit Hole – Quantum Edition (2006). Is there indeed some way of passing through the mirror, as can be otherwise argued (Stepping into, or through, the Mirror: embodying alternative scenario patterns, 2008).
Clearly it could be argued that the failure of systems of governance to encompass effectively the challenges of the times could be attributed in part to reliance on assumptions inspired by Newtonian understandings of force and time — despite their limitations. Hence the multiplicity of essentially simplistic references to “change” and the desperate quest for growth “acceleration”. The obvious instabilities which become evident merit reframing in the light of higher derivatives of time as explored by physics — and otherwise variously described in terms of temporal inversion or negative powers of time
There is a nice irony in the terminology of physics in that the emergence of such instabilities as “ghosts” is understood as needing to be constrained by more insightful models. These “ghosts” are equivalent to the “snakes” recognized as undermining viable nuclear fusion as the much-anticipated energy source of the future. They bear comparison with the “animal spirits” famously identified by John Maynard Keynes as undermining conventional economic models. Provocatively, they also recall critical use of the phrase “ghost in the machine” — in this case in the “Newtonian machine”.
Although readily assumed to be abstruse, the irony is all the greater in that the terms used by physics for such higher order derivatives — jerk, jolt, jounce, snap — are commonly used with respect to psychosocial systems and the intuitive understanding of their dynamics — and in the thrills of roller coasters and trampolines (as cited by one physicist). Whereas “jerk” and “jolt” tend to be associated with the problematic, “jounce” as a synonym of “bounce” is even indicative of dynamics much valued in living systems, as with resilience (Jim Brosseau, Jounce: crafting a resilient life in an increasingly chaotic world, 2014).
However, with that exception, little use has as yet been made of these insights as they might apply to a more orderly understanding of “change” and the “acceleration” of the forms of social transformation so desperately sought. Comprehension of the significance of those terms is typically confined to the “mechanical” experiences of daily life of “being jolted”, or in the jargon phrase of being “jerked around” — when change processes exhibit inadequacies and people are “jolted” by starkly uncomfortable new realities. Curiously both revolution and revelation — whether appreciated or deprecated — might be better understood in terms of such temporal inversion.
The processes identified by Keven Kelly (2017) might indeed be framed problematically by such language. It is not surprising that many leaders are readily described as “jerks”, with a notably propensity for “jerking off”. If physics has seen fit to devise a “jerk meter” (now available as a smartphone app), is the failure of the social science models to encompass “jerks” an indication of a lack of realism — even a degree of oversimplistic naivety?
Beyond the sense of structural violence, this suggests that higher derivatives of time could lead to greater understanding of “temporal violence” (Eric J. Haanstadt, Violence and Temporal Subjectivity, AnthroSource, 34, 2009; Luc Reychler, Time for Peace: the essential role of time in conflict and peace processes, 2015). Related concerns have been framed in terms of time wars by Jeremy Rifkin (Time Wars: the primary conflict in human history, 1987) — the focus of a recent conference (Time Wars, Thinking Together, Berlin 2018).
It has been argued,for example, that terrorism is fundamentally temporal violence. There is clearly a need for insight of a “higher order” of some kind (Global Incomprehension of Increasing Violence, 2016). Is a more fruitful approach to violence then to be discovered “outside time” as conventionally understood?
However the primary concern here is with the opportunities offered for the individual by an as yet unexplored “direction” in time — one of “higher dimensionality” and greater “intensity”, of which “down the rabbit hole” is but one appropriate indication in an increasingly surreal global reality.
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