Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Singularity is Here!

Here it is, your weekly "Best Of" from two years down. Although we're now up into July 2006, this one was actually plucked from down in May 2006, since I noticed in my site meter that it was getting a fair amount of hits. I then reread it and decided to try to edit it into presentable shape. Originally -- and I guess still -- titled "The Singularity is Here!" And don't forget, these are never mere summa rerungs, but an opportunity for me to dialogue with my own shady past and to entertain deep second thoughts about it, or what we call "higher ambivalence." It also allows me to cover my tracks. [Most of the new material is in brackets.]


I am convinced that the destruction of transcendence is the actual amputation of human beings from which all other sicknesses flow. Robbed of their real greatness they can only find escape in illusory hopes.... The loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia. --Pope Benedict

[Don't you love that line? "The loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia." It's so pithy, and yet it sums up a whole dimension of soul pathology that connects most of the organized enemies of mankind as such. No, wait a minute.... half the enemies, i.e., neo-Marxists, metaphysical Darwinists, radical secularists, and scientistic reductionists. Our other adversaries, the Islamists, have the opposite problem, that is, the loss of immanence. Along these lines, the big-brained Spengler wrote,

"Secular liberalism, the official ideology of almost all the nations of Western Europe, offers hedonism, sexual license, anomie, demoralization and gradual depopulation [i.e., an infrahuman and immanent hell]. Muslims do not want this.... For Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality."

Thus -- and this is about as ironic as it gets -- extremes meet in the radically immanent Lizards and their enemies, the radically transcendent Islamists. But BOTH are enemies to the Raccoon -- and American -- way of life; for the Lizards and other radical secularists cut us off from our vital transcendent center, while the Islamists would cut us off from or earthereal existence, and have us lead a life of bodily death while we still inhabit one.]

Anyway, a reader asked me to comment on a post by ShrinkWrapped from a couple of days [years] ago, entitled The Despair of Abundance. The reader mentioned “Kurzweil's theories of a coming singularity, and how that might affect man's search for ultimate meaning.... I often wonder if in Kurzweil's future, where all horizontal needs are easily available and we have all that we want, will man's nature provide him with no choice but to set out in earnest to discover the new world of the vertical? Or will he simply continue to wallow in the material world all the more enthusiastically.” [Short answer: see the Pope's pithy pronouncement above.]

I am not familiar with Kurzweil, but ShrinkWrapped linked to an article by Douglas Mulhall, in which he discusses this “singularity” in terms of the development of “superintelligent” human beings through genetic engineering and artificial intelligence: “Thanks in part to molecular manufacturing, accelerated developments in AI and brain reverse-engineering could lead to the emergence of superintelligence in just 18 years. Are we ready for the implications -- like possible annihilation of Homo sapiens? And will we seem to superintelligence what our ape-like ancestors seem to us: primitive?”

[Ho! For some pinhead to suggest that a computer could ever exhibit superhuman intelligence only emphasizes that said pinhead does not know what superhuman intelligence is. In short, could a computer ever write the Torah, Tao Te Ching, Upanishads, or the Book of the Subgenius? The question answers itself. Except to a materialistic pinhead.]

Mulhall spins out a number of possible dystopian scenarios that seem not just fanciful to me, but based on more fallacies than it is possible for me to even address in this post. Let me say first of all that human beings have always intuited and lived in the light of the singularity, or eschaton, at the end of history. Consciously intuiting this singularity is one of the prerogatives of being human, and what sets us apart from the beasts, for it really amounts to intuiting God, or the Absolute, or the One, or O, or the coondom thereof. I believe that Kurzweil’s notion of some sort of purely “horizontal” singularity is simply a garbled misapplication of a transpersonal religious idea. It's just a kind of sophisticated stupidity, like that of the Lizards.

For the singularity is already here, and has always been here. It is radically transcendent, beyond space and time. But because it is, it is necessarily immanent as well. It cannot be contained, so it “spills” into manifestation, sending its rays into every corner of reality, including human consciousness. To be “born again from above” is precisely what it means to reorient one’s life in light of this singularity or "attractor" at the end of history.

The idea that there will be some sort of material singularity that will end human suffering is both absurd and undesirable. According to all religious traditions, the cause of most human suffering is not lack of intelligence but man’s own corruption. No material progress will undo this decadence, and would likely even aggravate it. For as Schuon notes, “the lasting elimination of our miseries depends on our conformity to Divine Nature, or on our fixation on the ‘kingdom of God' which is within you.” What Schuon is talking about is conforming ourselves with the singularity discussed above. This is not theoretical, abstract or ethereal. Rather, it is entirely empirical and experiential -- it is the experience that is at the heart of any religious transformation.

To the extent that we do not use the world as a plane to rediscover our divine “inwardness,” then we will be strangers in this world, wandering from pleasure to pleasure with “no direction home.” In other words, in our fallen, “exteriorized” state of consciousness, we require suffering to overcome our faults, to “tear ourselves from sin,” and to reascend back to our source. In the spiritual view, it is our illusory, exteriorized state that is the cause of our suffering. Therefore, to provide this illusory state with even less suffering -- to try to make it completely comfortable and to eliminate all friction -- is simply going to increase confusion and cause more souls to deviate from their proper end.

[By God, it's like putting a bunch of penguins in Chicago in August, and then giving them some swamp coolers to feel at home, that's what it is. A lot of good that will do. There are NO horizontal conditions, no matter how "comfortable," that could ever make up for the loss of my Raccoon habitat.]

These spiritually flabby horizontaloids are Nietzsche’s pathetic last men, the cosmic losers who shall live in a “pitiable comfort.” I’m afraid that we are well into the phase space of that false singularity, and we can already see it’s baleful effects. I believe that ministering to the lower needs of these last de-virilized men forms the basis of contemporary liberalism, which increasingly cannot tolerate discomfort, disappointment, or inconvenience.

Theodore Dalrymple wrote of an ironyclad truth that the modern liberal will never understand, which is that misery always rises to the level of the means available to alleviate it. Therefore, even if a liberal program “works,” it doesn’t work, because it simply creates an appetite -- an expectation and narcissistic sense of entitlement, really -- that unhappiness or unfairness should not exist. To live one’s life in this infantile way is a recipe for metaphysical disaster, or liberal cluelesside.

If we eliminate the suffering that provokes “inwardness” and rebirth, it actually leads to a frenzy of manic activity in which less and less imperfection is tolerated, and at the same time, magnified. Just as luxuries become necessities, inconveniences -- or even delays -- become cosmic injustices. This is why, for example, the phenomenon of “black anger” occurred only after the civil rights movement had accomplished all of its aims, or why feminists still exist.

[This is also why the horizontally privileged Michelle Obama walks around with her own personal black cloud. It's amazing, really. If she had been my student in graduate school, I would have failed her just on the basis of her tortured grammar and poor spelling, not to mention her kooky and/or shallow "ideas" (just liberal cliches, really). But racist liberals passed her along anyway, since they don't believe blacks should be held to the same standards, but just want to feel good about themselves. Thus, she harbors an abiding sense of grievance, despite the attempt by liberals to remove all friction from her life. I'm guessing that no one's ever told her that she is an idiot, least of all the mealy-mouthed Barack -- which she desperately needs to hear in order to even begin to remedy the situation. What a lousy husband. You shouldn't have to learn that you're braindead from a total spengler.]

Leftism attempts to eliminate evil without eliminating the cause of evil, which is in the human heart. In so doing, it causes deeper existential alienation, a more profound attachment to the very impermanent things that can never satisfy us. This doesn’t mean that we do not attempt to improve the world. Of course we do. But only in the context of perennial wisdom and total, integral truth -- of horizontal and vertical realities. Exclusive focus on "horizontal perfection" would lead to a kind of hell with no vertical escape. But this is the explicit program of liberalism. And to the extent that spiritually blind Lizard-types foreclose the vertical, they only hasten the coming of this hell.

I think I’ll conclude with a comment on the bizarre notion of a “superintelligent” human species that would somehow replace us. The fact of the matter is that human intelligence is already absolute and infinite, so it cannot be surpassed, certainly not by “artificial intelligence.” We are already "superintelligent."

As I have mentioned before, I was little concerned that my book, what with its bird’s-eye survey of history, may have created the false impression that we are “smarter” or better than our forebears. This is not the point I was trying to make. Rather, my point is that only now, at this point in history -- especially in the Christian West -- do so many human beings finally have the opportunity to achieve their potential, even if most people just waste the opportunity. In the past, only a tiny fraction of human beings had that opportunity.

But make no mistake -- no human writer, no matter how “superintelligent,” will ever surpass Shakespeare. No musician will surpass Bach, or even John Coltrane or Van Morrison, for that matter. No human philosopher will ever surpass Plotinus, or Eckhart, or Schuon, or the Upanishads, because OBVIOUSLY, knowledge of the ultimate can by definition not surpass itself, any more than artistic perfection can surpass itself. There is just “perfection.” One either achieves (or approaches) it or one does not.

It is as absurd as suggesting that, because of genetic engineering, the women of the future will be much more beautiful than the women of today -- that they will be “superbeautiful,” as it were. Preposterous. Women are already ultimately beautiful. Seriously, how could women be more beautiful than they already are? When they try to become more beautiful -- e.g., through plastic surgery or breast implants -- it usually just backfires and detracts from their natural beauty. Likewise, how could music touch our soul any more than it already does? With more technology? Ho! Does Justin Timberlake sound better than Louis Armstrong's Hot Sevens? And how could ultimate truth be more true than it already is?

The singularity is already here. So quit complaining and just enjoy it.


julie said...

If the horizontal singularity actually comes to pass in some way, I'm guessing the future will look a lot more like Idiocracy than whatever utopia people generally envision. Not only does misery rise to the level of the means to alleviate it - so too do laziness, procrastination, pettiness and all the other vices of indolence the afflict the chronically comfortable.

walt said...

Kurzweil's Singularity sounds an awful lot like updated Buckminster Fuller, who also promoted the concept that we can design and engineer our way to happiness, because when finally all their "needs" are met, peeps will be good.

As you pointed out, it never seems to work.

But, the true believers pursue their grand visions, and as with Marxism, proclaim that such ideas have never been given a real chance.

Air America, for example, reeks with such allusions -- completely incongruently, however (to them, the word Progressive just says it all), like kids flailing at a pinata, in feverish anticipation of the goodies that will spill out. Any resulting tooth decay or morbid obesity or diabetes can be "handled" by universal health care.

Van said...

Kurzweil's idea is that we will become technological machines ourselves, through the time tested 'How to cook a frog' method of intellectual evasion.

He proposes that by not only replacing our primitive biomechanical parts, part by part, such as we do now with hip replacement, and prosthetics, but also by slowly augmenting our brains with extended memory and calculation and communication modules. Slowly we will transition to fully improved techonoid, by replacing our existing Human 1.0 wetware with more efficient (there's the mating call of the proregressive) nanoware parts, we will slowly become more and more techno-human than bio-human, until each person reaches the point of becoming 100% techno-immortal, all wetware having been shed to the dumper.

I'm sure this possibility dances in Ray's dreams.

It’s a common strain in youdopeian fantasies, to escape the responsibilities of being You, by becoming someone else who somehow won’t have the burden of any Youness. Somehow the persistence of “I” being there wherever you go never makes a blip on their radar… or its ignored as a mere ghost in the machine… just ignore or filter it out.

Gno problem.

Robin Starfish said...

a singular O
one is the only number
that can ever be

(apologies to 3DN)

Van said...

"I am convinced that the destruction of transcendence is the actual amputation of human beings from which all other sicknesses flow. Robbed of their real greatness they can only find escape in illusory hopes.... The loss of transcendence evokes the flight to utopia. --Pope Benedict"

Though it shouldn't be, it's always a remarkable realization, realizing that the deeply revelatory "aHA!" grasps of Truth... the discovery that you’ve discovered… have already been grasped and revealed over and over throughout time.

What's True is True.

It’s discovery is less discovering, than arriving at the Truth. Arriving at and getting out, walking around through and breathing it all in. Even though you may see and read it over and again, until you've colonized the land around it, put down roots and live into it, you just drive on by it as one of so many 'Scenic Stops" along the way.

More beautiful than beautiful... yeah right.

Van said...

If anyone needed any further proof that michellemybell obamama was out of touch with reality, this, from the grammar link in today's post, should confimr it:

"it is conceivable that my four years of exposure to a predominantly White, Ivy League University has instilled within me certain conservative values"

Conservative Values... instilled... through Princeton?!?!?!

Nuttier than a fruitcake.

Gagdad Bob said...

I think I mentioned in the Coonifesto that problems arise when we try to wring more pleasure out of something than there is in it. A similar thing occurs when we try to get more truth or beauty out of something than there are in it.

For example, although there is surely truth in Darwinism, the Darwinists just as surely try to squeeze much more truth out the the theory than there is in it. Likewise, the whole cult of "art for art's sake" is a circular maze, trying to produce or consume something that is only available when not detached from its divine source. It just leads to narcissism on the one hand, and "artist worship" on the other, or autodivinity and idolatry.

Van said...

Gagdad said "...trying to produce or consume something that is only available when not detached from its divine source..."

Yes, and/or trying to improve it by detaching it from its divine source (probably by trying to make it more efficient and available to all).

I think either intentionally or unintentionally, that's what is done. In the beginning it may even be done innocently (Descartes, Hume), thinking that they'll be better able to see the working parts by pulling it open and having a look at the essentials… getting the useless spare parts out of the way, until finally at some point the knowledge that there ever was a link between the two in the first place, is lost, denied and ensured.

"This is mine! My art, My vision! My truth... and its better than and different than anyone elses!".


Gagdad Bob said...

Great stuff along these lines by Spengler (I spent time yesterday rummaging through his archives -- he's up there with the best, e.g., Vanderleun, Kimball, and Taranto):

"Absence of faith has not made you more rational. On the contrary, it has made you ridiculous in your adoration of clownish little deities, of whom the silliest is yourself. G K Chesterton said that if you stop believing in God, you will believe in anything....

"Bach inscribed each of his works with the motto, "Glory belongs only to God," and insisted (wrongly) that anyone who worked as hard as he did could have achieved results just as good. He was content to be a diligent craftsman in the service of God, and did not seek to be a genius; he simply was one. That is the starting point of the man of faith. One does not set out to be a genius, but rather to be of service; extraordinary gifts are responsibility to be borne with humility. The search for genius began when the service of God no longer interested the artists and scientists.

"In their urge toward self-worship, the artists of the 20th century descended to extreme levels of artlessness to persuade themselves that they were in fact creative. In their compulsion to worship themselves in the absence of God, they produced ideas far more ridiculous, and certainly a great deal uglier, than revealed religion in all its weaknesses ever contrived. The modern cult of individual self-expression is a poor substitute for the religion it strove to replace, and the delusion of personal creativity an even worse substitute for redemption."

Ray Ingles said...

Julie - I guess this place is a circle after all. I pretty much arrived here pointing out that misery wasn't a constant.

Van - Since I don't think humans are the theoretical peak of intelligence, of course I think there's room to grow. But that doesn't mean I don't want to be me anymore. The persistence of "I" is the important thing there.

Good news for y'all - we were having fun with family yesterday, and we're going on a trip for the next couple days, so I shan't have the time or inclination to reply. Enjoy my vacation! :-> May you all have have a pleasant and thankful Independence Day weekend, though we may thank different things.

Petey said...

Why would you be grateful to deluded men who founded our country upon so-called "God-given rights?"

Van said...


From your bow (wow) here,

"I saw this back in the early 90's and haven't seen a good response to it yet.)"

which with typical shallow juvenile chortling, and failure to think past stage one, lists:
The challenge is simple, really; provide the Biblical passages from which the following essential aspects of the American legal/governmental system have been derived:

Government by officials elected by the governed (republican democracy)
Separation of powers (executive, legislative, judicial)
Trial by a jury of one's peers
Presumption of innocence
Freedom from cruel or unusual punishment
Freedom from involuntary self-incrimination
Freedom of speech and assembly
Prohibition of the establishment of religion (could be a toughie!)
and on....

I'd be interested in seeing any of those items on the list explained without reference to Men who were brought up in the (Greco/Roman) Judeo/Christian tradition.

Must have heavy duty stitching on them bootstraps you're trying to lift yourselves by.

Enjoy your holiday... and try not to think of enjoying your friends and family as the effects of darwinistic survival algorerithms.

jwm said...

This article by David Gelertner will provide many, if not all the answers to the doge thang. It's the same one I posted yesterday.(actually I'm just looking for an excuse to exercise my newfound linking ability.)


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Okay, let's try the linky love connection again. Van basically walked me through the process (like John did), and I think i know what I did wrong.
So, without further ado...check out this video, if you have broadband (I can't see it, but I got the song):

And I'm recitin' in rhythmic "all hail Petey the wise" while I'm doin' it, as per Van's explicit instructions. :^)

Nooo! Okay, here is what I keep gettin':

Your HTML cannot be accepted: Tag is not allowed:

Freakin' googlezabub! Publish my link you insidious prelude to Skynet! Arrgghh!

Anyway, here's the cold link:

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

O, and good evenin' fellow Raccoons! :^)

Thanks to Jim and Hoarhey for beatin' the crap out of that DUmmy troll earlier! Well done!

And good call, Jim! It really pisses me off to no end when these lefty punks pretend to be in the Military, or pretend they know someone in the Service.
They always make mistakes, and it may be subtle, but Jim caught it.

I was too pissed to notice the evidence at the time, although I was certain this troll wasn't in the military and never was (unless he got kicked out for bein' a loser who couldn't hack it, but most lefty's are too cowardly to ever consider enlisting, let alone bein' a Patriot).

Like Jim said so very well, we ain't gonna let the Left get away with this crap like they did to our Vietnam Veteran Heroes!
Never again!

God bless you Jim, and thanks for your service! Semper Gratis.
Anchors Aweigh!

Joan of Argghh! said...

Ben, because I gno you're smarter than the average bear, here's a tip for learning new stuff about links. It can even help you yoink and plunder from other sites when they don't leave you any hot links or imbeds up front:

While your cursor is somewhere cold on this page, right click and select "view page source." Your memo pad will pop up with all sorts of jibberish. But it's not. Look at the top bar of the note pad and find where it says, "edit."

Do an "edit" "find" command in the note pad and look for a href It'll lead you to see what linkage looks like when done correctly; carats and quote marks and slashes, oh my!

I've learned a lot of html just from seeing the codes compared with the live post.


Gagdad Bob said...

I don't care if these guys are Marxists. I really like 'em.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Once more into the lancealotlink:

ahref=" "></a>

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Dammit! LOL! I'm gonna make this work if it takes all night! So there! Ha ha ha!

Okay, watch this while I down a can O grog. Maybe that'll help.

Good song, BTW!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks for helpin' me out Joan!
Eventually, somethin' will stick to my tiny brain. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

This guy, John schlitt, used to be the lead singer of Head East.
Remember them?

He has a great, soulfull voice!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Okay, last one for now. I'm beginning to think I need another browser or somethin'.

coonified said...

Ben, maybe a basic html tag site will help out. Here's one.

Van said...

Ben hollered "Freakin' googlezabub! Publish my link you insidious prelude to Skynet! Arrgghh!"

Oh... LOL ... ah... oh... it hurts... I know I'm probably going to get the "return as a cockroach in the Orkin training center" karma call, but really LOL!

Ben you were only one character and a space off with what you had... I'll e you the fix.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

HALLELUJAH! I did it! Thanks, Van! One freakin' space! That was it! LOL out loud! Oh man!

Okay one more time:

Time Well Wasted

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Bwahahahahahaaaa! Hooray! The denseness has dissipated...temporarily. :^)

Desert rose

Jim said...


Thanks for the good words; I just can’t stand those phony military wanna-bes. I have no problem with those that could not serve or didn’t want to when they were the appropriate age. Just don’t start in with the” I’m an expert on the military ‘cause I saw some show on the Discovery Channel or a ‘special report’ on ABC News.” They think all the military members are a bunch of uneducated losers that are only fit for manual labor or to be welfare recipients ‘cause they are all soooo stupid and psycho killers to boot, ready to come unhinged any second.

And thanks for your service Ben. And congrats on the link thingie

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

And finally, this one is for all the very patient Raccoons who kept tryin' to pound some sense into my noggin'!

Show Me The Way

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks Jim!
It only took me several hours, and it was one freakin' space.
Kinda funny how I kept missing it.

I hear ya Jim. Nothin' gets my blood to boiling faster than imposters who try to besmirch the honor of Sailors, Marines, Soldiers and Airmen risking life and limb to secure our Liberty and protect our lives!

Then we got utterly vile men like John Murtha and john Kerry who are seditious in the very least.
I can't respect the people who continualkly elect bastards like that!

Personally, I think there should be harsh penalties for the a-holes that do this kind of thing.
This would be unheard of in World War Two, and it should not be tolerated now, without severe consequences.
I'm all for bringin' back hot tar and feathers for these morons!

phil g said...

Thanks for the link JWM...that is a tremendous essay, worth reading a couple of times.

Van said...

BTW Ray, simply reviewing the origins of Connecticut, and the minister Joseph Hooker, the Original Connecticut Compact, will put most of those idiotic points to bed.

More info on John Hooker:

"Before the General Court, on May 3 1, 1638, eight months before the Fundamental Orders were adopted, Hooker preached a remarkable sermon on popular sovereignty. Taking for his text Deut. 1:13 - the passage on which John Eliot later erected his fantastic Utopia-he elaborated the thesis that "the foundation of authority is laid, firstly, in the free consent of the people," and therefore that "the choice of public magistrates belongs unto he people by God's own allowance," and "they who have the power to appoint officers and magistrates, it is in their power also, to set the bounds and limitations of the power and place unto which they call them." 8 This was Hooker's reply to the oligarchic policy of the Bay in limiting the number of freemen in order to maintain the supremacy of the magistrates; and it throws light on the comment written out of England in the spring of 1636, to John Wilson, that "there is great division of judgment in matters of religion amongst good ministers & people which moved Mr. Hoker to remove"; and that "you are so strict in admission of members to your church, that more than halfe are out of your church in all your congregations, & that Mr.Hoker before he went away preached against yt (as one reports who hard him)."9 In the new commonwealth there was neither a property qualification nor a religious test limiting the right of franchise; the admission of freemen was reckoned a political matter and left to the several township democracies. The reaction against the oligarchic policy of Massachusetts Bay carried far. "

If you'd pull your self inflated heads out of your own rumps, you might see beyond your own wisentimers, and learn something... maybe even find an I inside You.

Van said...

Coongratulations Ben! Welcome to the Sacred Order of Linking Raccoons!

onno david said...

I think the whole word singularity is a metaphor taken from physics, which in turn took it from math. The analogy to it is a black hole. You can't see inside a black hole because you can't see beyond the event horizon. It's also important to point out we're not taking this one giant leap from today's world into this future, mysterious world.