In your time zone: 2023-05-04T18:00:00Z
ZOOM video conference: Launch Meeting - Zoom
Thompson’s text is not the easiest to follow. After all, it is his first real attempt at his own-conceived Wissenkunst. The word he quite often uses to describe this particular effort is “mind jazz”, and it appears to me that all of us engaging in the exploration of his imagined landscape agree.
Chapter 4 – “A Cultural History of Consciousness” – is the longest, and perhaps densest of the prose chapters of the book as he is attempting to bring together the themes, notions, and ideas he has been unfolding thus far. What is more, he offers his own take on a framework of “evolution” of consciousness that deserves more than just passing attention. In many cases, this chapter raises more questions than it answers. It almost demands the reader slow down and consciously reflect on how all he has presented thus far fits into this proposed framework.
In this session, the desire is to revisit the text and work on a number of open issues and raised questions it would be worthwhile engaging more deeply.
Thompson, William Irwin (1989) Imaginary Landscape: Making Worlds of Myth and Science, New York, St. Martin’s Press; Chapter 4 “A Cultural History of Consciousness”. (Reprise)
Achronon (Ed) will conduct a brief opening and closing exercise.
- Feb 09: Acknowledgements, Prologue
- Feb 23: Chapter 1
- Mar 09: Chapter 2
- Mar 23: Chapter 3
- Apr 06: The Spirit of AI (an organic interlude)
- Apr 20: Chapter 4
- May 04: A WITting Interlude in the Imaginary Landscape ←
- May 18: Epilogue
“Most thought-provoking to [Marco] was Thompson’s contention that what we consider “evil” in one epoch is often the harbinger of what becomes good and essential in the next. I find myself pondering our conversation about AI [time before last] —and the skepticism/resistance we generally expressed toward it— in the light of this notion.” How do we feel about this now?
Marco also noted that “Thompson also contends that what is past—perhaps now, the human as such—still sticks around. It may be destroyed by the new techno-economic paradigm, for example, but can be preserved as art. I wonder: is this good enough for us? And what if one doesn’t want to be taken up as an organelle within the new super-organism? Can one ultimately make that choice? And what are the costs/benefits of doing so?”
Both Maia and Michael noted how the influx of new, unfamiliar ideas and notions are so often initially resisted, much like our own body’s immune reaction. Nevertheless, at least in English, there is a clever association between “community” and “immunity”, deriving etymologically from their Latin roots. There’s much more than can be said about this, and Michael has provided some additional inputs for consideration (see Off-site Context, Backstory, and Related Topics below). How might these ideas assist us in gaining deeper understanding of Thompon’s insights?
Ed appreciated John’s drawing our attention to the idea of “attactors” which Thompson introduced into this schema via Abraham, but he is stumbling over the relation between the three attractors (static, periodic, chaotic) and the five-stage/phase framework that Thompson presents. There seems to be a disconnect of some kind here, so he is looking for others’ thoughts on how the apparent discrepancy – if there is in fact one – might be resolved? Are there perhaps other attractors that could be indentified, or is this perhaps simply a weak spot in Thompson’s argumentation?
Welcomes and greetings
Re-engagement of open topics and questions
Wrap-up and hand-off to next session