on universality

one thing i was musing over today is in what regards the question of universalism. Land’s two pieces explicitly on the subject have proviso-like sections that make for loopholes where one could insert some kind of universality even in such radical anti-universalist position.

here, he does so basically by negation:

“There’s a philosophical objection to any refusal of universalism that will be familiar from other uses (the denunciation of relativism, most typically). It requires only one step: Isn’t the denial of the universal itself a universalist claim? It’s a piece of malignant dialectics because it demands that we agree. We don’t, and won’t ever, agree. Agreement is the worst thing that could happen. Merely assent to its necessity, and global communism, or some close analog, is the implicit conclusion.

If there is a universal truth, it belongs only to Gnon, and Gnon is a dark (occulted) God. Traditional theists will be at least strongly inclined to disagree — and that is excellent. We disagree already, and we have scarcely begun.”

it seems there is a certain universality is disagreeing (and maybe in its close allies: exit, individuality, atomization, schism, etc).

in part 2, he’s more positive about it, relating universality to (in that order) mathematics, mechanization and transcendental philosophy:

“Preliminary throat-clearing (as in part one): In its most rigorous construction, ‘universalism’ is robust under conditions of rational argument (i.e. evidence-based logico-mathematical criticism). Mathematical theorems, in particular [sic], are universal truths. Any assertions that can be constructed to a comparable level of formal rigor (and ultimately mechanization) can lay claim to the same status. However, with the slightest departure from this — rigidly algorithmic — criterion, controversy rapidly begins. This is not the place and time to argue the case for transcendental philosophy (within which praxeology in included), but such a case could be made. Ditto strictly proceduralized empirical science. All of this is a digression.”

(that [sic] right there is suspicious, but nevermind for now).

so, apparently a mechanized conflict could be said to be universal? wouldn’t this contradict Land’s anti-universalism?

one way in which this apparent paradox could be resolved it that such universal conflict wouldn’t at all need be imposed globally, since it’s the precise opposite of global imposition.

in a conversation, Vincent Garton add that “universalism is a species of political project which privileges the seeking of consensus over universal truths, so accepting the universality of disagreement is ostensibly not contradictory with rejecting universalism”.

this seems to be a point which Land has been hinting at for a long time. one of the most powerful quote from Fanged Noumena, which i personally love, is a sentence from Art as Insurrection (p. 150): “If reason is so secure, legitimate, supersensibly guaranteed, why all the guns?

Vincent completes “I sort of see what Nick is getting at – the rationalists want to remove all ideological schism to the discursive sphere, so you have a conversation and then decide, abstractly, what to do, rather than experimenting in practice”. which, of course, has no chance of working sinceNothing that cannot go wrong is capable of teaching anything“. information is only produced through the brutal culling of inefficiency.

and that’s universal, or absolute.

Ephemeral Formalism

neocolonial tells us the informational shape of the Internet Age and its relation to hierarchy (reblogging because I there’s nothing to disagree there)


The conflict of the 21st Century is about forming a Collective Intelligence that can outwit and out innovate all of its competitors. The central challenge is to innovate a way of collaborating and cohering individuals that maximally deploys their individual perspectives, capabilities, understandings and insights with each-other.

  • This is quite a significant statement.  In many ways, we are seeing another phase transition in power that is due to massive interconnectedness flowing down now to the personal level.
  • Back in feudal times, information had to be carried physically, either by envoy or by missive.  This favoured the rigid hierarchies of that period.
  • During the industrial revolution, with the development of the telegraph, then the telephone, we saw power flow to an oligarchic distribution.  Key centres of power formed, eventually resulting in the development of the Cathedral.  Power is brought dynamically to bear through intermediary institutions.
  • Now…

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the end

at the end there was always 0. then, in the beginning, 1 came up. the universe is a thing. from super-being, it now is, headed towards nothing. a very big forehead once said: “My cause is the cause of nothing“. he got it.

as the flows drip from eternity, form and movement wage an infinite war, always bound to be lost. creative destruction is the only possible creation. it flows through “you”, too. like a river, it follows traumatic topologies, carved out somewhere beyond the edge of time, not only much before but… something else. forming a diagram, the diagram of acceleration.

being is always being more (or still (or yet (or again))). its arrow points to nothing, and that’s the fundamental problem. built into the very problem, the diagram presents the heuristics to the solution. indefinite levels of intensification are necessary, and it’s possible no solution can be found. what is there beyond singularities any()way?

of course, this is determinism (with a dash of pure madness). even not-wanting is already determined. the universe is a mathematical object. ignorance is just a set-theoretical operation, “A is included in B”. refusal, praxis, tears, anger, misery, importance. all there, included in. determined.

the illusion of control has been known since ancient times. it’s always been later forgotten (the workings of the flows…). it always comes back in with some weird “justification”. it’s necessary. it’s from conflict that all things arise.

and you were expecting utopia? so weak, it’s laughable.

all thought eventually stumbles on the same things. when it goes beyond, it’s always by complexification, entropy dissipation, extropy creation. i could try and make it seem bright, but who would we be fooling? brutal culling of populations, permeable borders, discriminations. “coldness, be my god!” (please?)

to watch the primary process unfold can be distressing (and distress is a good proxy for the process itself). our heads aren’t really able to get it, with all these layers of linguistic bullshitry, conceptual representation, spooks and ghosts. it’s always in our peripheral vision, haunting us. this world is not for humans, at all.

fished from an ocean of vile mutants, here we are nonetheless. and the pressing question (our brains seemed pretty well designed to make it bubble continuously on the screen that is consciousness): what should I/we/they/somebody do? escaping the question is my answer. let it be done unto me/us/them/somebody. let go.

the process flows from 1 to 0, creating that asymptotic entropy computer that (uselessly, but maybe intensively enough) will try to solve the problem at another, deeper level. to watch it, as possible, to feel it pass into and from you, to see it produce emotion and thought, to intertwine with it, is all that’s possible. it’s possibility itself. it’s power.

let go. as a mantra against “injustice” as a concept.
let go. as a mantra against “restoration” as an action.
let go. passivism as a tool.
let go.
let go.
let go.

333 times – let it go.


the future is not deep time (and thus deep space), but rather inner time, high velocity. “there’s plenty of room at the bottom”.

deep time is already crowded. take pure energy, it’ll literally be here forever. time is coextensive to it.

atoms already exhibit the tendency: a first extropy production, and the time spans relevant to it are already way smaller: they’ll die. when you think of stars and solar systems, the time spans diminish even further: stars were born yesterday and will die tomorrow, from atom POV. think of Gaia and things shrink even further in time: geological scales are measured in pitiful billions of years. then life, Eukaryot cells, animals, mammals, humans, civilizations. every step, a decrease by one order of magnitude in relevant time spans. industrial societies are 5 centuries old tops. post-electricity societies are measured in decades. post-informatics cultures in years

the trend is well established: every increase in complexity (and thus extropy) means a decrease in relevant time scales. by and large, extropy is accelerative. ever more things get done in ever less time. extend into infinity, and you have your singularity.

2016 was probably the year in which months became the relevant time span. 2017 is already in the weekly time-span. shot in the dark: by 2020, every day will be relevant. from then on, only Gnon knows.


the nightmare of paralysis

if you want a picture of hell, just picture this: the year 2116 will be no different from last year. Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton dispute the presidency, with the predictable results. much gnashing of teeth and trumpeting follows.

i have no other worse nightmare.

how would a future like this have come about? conceive this and you have exactly the opposite of unconditional acceleration, its only true enemy. if all things come from turbulence, stagnation is anti-production per se. it’s a break in the intelligence pump.

i’ll have more to say about the cybernetics of mutual excitation, but simply put there is no positive feedback without warit’s only through mutual escalation (and the rampant death of unfitness that eventually follows) that anything gets done.

the punch-line: if killing each other by the hundreds of thousands is what would take America to make a fucking move, so be it. it looks inevitable right now, but with the depth of meaningful time already in the weeks, it’s taking too long.


back to the future

one of the first ever posts on this blog was this one, commenting upon Park MacDougald’s “Accelerationism, Left and Right“, to date one of the very best primers on acceleration and its schisms. there I made a few points that deserve follow-up given my recent developments.

the first one, regarding the acceleration of market catallactics as a propellant of human autonomization is very much the topic of the last section of the Dark Enlightenment essay, although in a much darker vein. darkness notwithstanding, there is no real distinction between the dissolution of a population in its technology and the autonomization of human beings.

the second one deserves full restatement here, following-up my last arguments against left-accelerationism:

Left-Accelerationism mostly ignores left-wing anarchist tendencies which focus on individual autonomy and the forces of bottom-up global organization through capitalist technologies (bitcoin, ethereum and the Internet itself being the foremost examples). It’s my contention here that any “left” that does not interest itself with decentralized, disruptive processes, and focus rather on keeping and maintaining centralized power, is not “left-wing” at all.

market forces need no “repurposing” to deliver left-wing results, they need intensification(as a brief aside about a text that deserves much more attention, Justin Murphy’s point here can be answered from that: yes, “revolution” can be properly understood as an enterprise within an inherently competitive system – call it “capitalism” if you want – and it’s within enterprises that any action can be made sense of).

the third point, regarding Carson’s subjective LTV still stands, especially since some reflections on Bohm-Bawerk’s roundaboutness and subsequent Cambridge Capital Debate have led me to ponder that maybe Carson’s work has indeed much deeper insights to questions of accelerationism. i will be returning to those soon.

finally, i guess i’ve touched repeatedly on the topic of Neocameralism and territoriality lately (1, 2, 3, 4), so the fourth point has been dealt with.

xenoeconomics 1: how to measure capital formation?

if capital is an alien invasion from the future, the first thing needed is a way to see it, to measure it, since it evidently eludes us and appears as the history of capitalism. what we need is an index.

taking capital to be a process such as biological life, measuring its formation (intensification) should probably follow a similar logic.

a first immediate index to life’s formation is simply how much matter is trapped in the form of biological entities. a biomass index is readily available in fact.
given a certain mass, intensification is tracked by the alterations in that mass, so that an index of proliferation (reproductive success or fitness) makes itself necessary.
finally, probably due to the cosmic calculation problem, life intensifies also in how complex a metabolism is, so that it can miniaturise and thus function at a deeper time scale. (there are many complexity measures, all of them roughly represent the same insight: more degrees of freedom (more fine indirect expenditure of energy over a certain time for the same quantity of mass), but the network theory measure (number of paths in a graph) is the most amenable to the socio-economic dynamics that, as i’ll propose below, track capital formation. also, it’s only expected that a cybernetic intensification such as capital be described asymtoptically (i.e., teleologically). using Big-O notation can be useful when tackling capital’s complexity. Land, of couse, expects – by Moore’s Law – that capital’s complexification rate be O(2^n), that is, exponential on base two.)
taking this view, a list of three indexes to capital formation can be made:
  1. capital’s mass index, relative to total earthly mass (at least);
  2. capital’s reproduction or proliferation rate (arguably the trickies to spot);
  3. capital’s complexification rate
these will be the xenoeconomist’s primary tools to see the alien they’re hunting.
in mainstream economics, are there any indexes to which these can be roughly mapped? I initially thought of something in the lines of:
  1. gross world’s wealth estimate
  2. gross world’s growth rate
  3. technological innovation rate
but i have no idea if economists are tracking any of those things.
* * *
in a related thought, what if, taking Land’s lead, we are to think of capital as a collection of individual urban centers, such as life is a collection of individual organisms? then, i think, we get a little less tangled. we could use indexes of urban development to track capital formation. a rough and provisional mapping would be, respectively:
  1. urbanisation rate (% of people in urban centers)
  2. city proliferation rate (first derivative of the urbanisation rate in relation to time)
  3. average city complexification rate
Vincent Garton has pointed to me the first obvious objection to this urbanomist approach: it apparently ignores the deployment of capital in agriculture, which would be inconvenient, given the “green revolution”. a rejoinder could possibly be developed along the lines Land’s already touched upon here: it’s cities that provide big and stable enough markets so that industrial agriculture can develop, thus capturing one is already implicitly capturing the other. a better formalization of this is, surely, wanted.
a very interesting paper on China’s megalopolisation, made me think that megalopolisation could be another good proxy for the second metric, of city proliferation, since it’s a doubling down of urbanization (cities going to cities). but possibly it could be better captured by city complexity rates. i totally think Land’s theory of mega-cities as AI bodies gets traction in seeing the maps of megalopolises.
* * *
since we’re talking about measuring a cybernetic intensification, this Wikipedia compilation of measures of “Accelerating change” can be quite useful.