Whatever else time travel may entail, it does not involve changing the past.
— Larry Dwyer (cited here).
FILED UNDER :Templexity
TAGGED WITH :Philosophy , Science , Time , Time-travel
Whatever else time travel may entail, it does not involve changing the past.
— Larry Dwyer (cited here).
Comparing this …
— REX MUNDI (@SeverEnergia) September 9, 2016
… to this is darkly illuminating at a number of levels. Turns out the Gernsback Continuum really is continuous.
For the visitors here who are perpetually tortured by the Damn! Where is the tip-jar button? question, less-evil twin has a time-travel book out. (It should be $3.99, but it says $5.99 at my link — which might be a Shanghai-effect.)
UF (2.1) plug here.
If you know anybody teetering on the brink of a psychotic episode, who just needs a slight nudge to plunge over the edge, it would make an ideal present.
The word ‘neoreaction’ is a split, productively paradoxical formula, simultaneously referencing two incompatible cultural formations, each corresponding to an abstract model of time. On one side, it is a gateway opening onto techno-libertarian hyper-progressivism, and an order of time structured by irreversible accumulation, self-envelopment, and catastrophe horizon (Singularity). On the other, it opens onto the temporality of reaction and the cycle, where all progress is illusion, and all innovation anticipated. Within NRx, the time of escape and the time of return seek an obscure synthesis, at once unprecedented and primordial, whose cryptic figure is the spiral. (This is the time of the Old Ones and the Outside, from which the shoggoth come.) If NRx thinks itself already lodged articulately in this synthesis, it deludes itself.
From a strictly philosophical perspective, the time of reaction finds no defender more able than Archdruid John Michael Greer. while his specific form of religious traditionalism, his social attitudes, and his eco-political commitments are all profoundly questionable from the standpoint of throne-and altar reaction, his model of time cannot be surpassed in an Old Right direction. Those who would install a prejudice of relentless degeneration in its place, anchored by a revealed religion of recent creation and subsequent continuous fall, only position themselves to the ‘right’ of Greer by making God a revolutionary. If deep time is to be preserved, there can be no archaic authority beyond the cycle.
Why call Greer a reactionary? It is not, after all, a label he would accept for himself. The answer lies in cyclical time, and everything that follows from it: the supremacy of wisdom among human things, the enduring authority of history, the dismissal of modernist pretension as a mere mask for deep historical repetition, an absolute disillusionment with progress, and an adamantine prognosis that — from the peak of fake ‘improvement’ where we find ourselves — a grinding course of decline over coming centuries is an inevitability. The cultural and political decoration can be faulted, but in the fundamental structure of Greer’s thinking, reaction is perfected.
A prompt by @hugodoingthings to explore the spook-dense crypts of Roko’s Basilisk (which, inexplicably, has never latched before) led straight to this enthralling RationalWiki account. The whole article is gripping, but the following short paragraphs stand out for their extraordinary dramatic intensity:
Roko’s basilisk is notable for being completely banned from discussion on LessWrong, where any mention of it is deleted. Eliezer Yudkowsky, founder of LessWrong, considers the basilisk to not work, but will not explain why because he does not consider open discussion of the notion of acausal trade with possible superintelligences to be provably safe.
Silly over-extrapolations of local memes, jargon and concepts are posted to LessWrong quite a lot; almost all are just downvoted and ignored. But for this one, Yudkowsky reacted to it hugely, then doubled-down on his reaction. Thanks to the Streisand effect, discussion of the basilisk and the details of the affair soon spread outside of LessWrong. Indeed, it’s now discussed outside LessWrong frequently, almost anywhere that LessWrong is discussed at all. The entire affair constitutes a worked example of spectacular failure at community management and at controlling purportedly dangerous information.
Is there a word for an ‘argument’ so soggily insubstantial that it has to be scooped into a pair of scare-quotes to be apprehended, even in its self-dissolution? If there were, I’d have been using it all the time recently. Among the latest occasions is a blog post by Charlie Stross, which describes itself as “a political speculation” before disappearing into the gray goomenon. Nothing in it really holds together, but it’s fun in its own way, especially if it’s taken as a sign of something else.
The ‘something else’ is a subterranean complicity between Neoreaction and Accelerationism (the latter linked here, Stross-style, in its most recent, Leftist version). Communicating with fellow ‘Hammer of Neoreaction’ David Brin, Stross asks: “David, have you run across the left-wing equivalent of the Neo-Reactionaries — the Accelerationists?” He then continues, invitingly: “Here’s my (tongue in cheek) take on both ideologies: Trotskyite singularitarians for Monarchism!”
Stross is a comic-future novelist, so it’s unrealistic to expect much more than a dramatic diversion (or anything more at all, actually). After an entertaining meander through parts of the Trotskyite-neolibertarian social-graph, which could have been deposited on a time-like curve out of Singularity Sky, we’ve learnt that Britain’s Revolutionary Communist Party has been on a strange path, but whatever connection there was to Accelerationism, let alone Neoreaction, has been entirely lost. Stross has the theatrical instinct to end the performance before it became too embarrassing: “Welcome to the century of the Trotskyite monarchists, the revolutionary reactionaries, and the fringe politics of the paradoxical!” (OK.) Curtain closes. Still, it was all comparatively good humored (at least in contrast to Brin’s increasingly enraged head-banging).
Cladistic inheritance necessitates that I begin talking about the Calvinist doctrine of Providence here (soon), despite my total cognitive depravity on the topic. I’ve been reading the Institutes of the Christian Religion, and around it, but inevitably as if from Mars (and as a Confucian). It has to be the case that many of the visitors here are vastly more intellectually fluent on the subject, so any anticipatory comments will be hungrily seized upon.
The fatality, as far as it is initially evident:
(1) Neoreaction, cladistically located, is a Cryptocalvinist splinter.
(2) The doctrines that placed Calvinism in H. L. Mencken’s “cabinet of horrors” (“next to cannibalism”), have never been philosophically dissolved, whether by theological or secular argument.
(3) The moralistic dismissal of Modernity and, through association, of Protestantism, evidences an almost incomprehensibly crude conception of Providence — as if the way things have turned out was not a fatality, and in theological terms a message (or punishment), but rather an accident, or man-made contingency. The rigorous theology of Modernity cannot reduce to mere denunciation.
(4) Calvinism is an instrument with which to explore Catholicism, especially in respect to its implicit philosophy of history (and recourse to teleological reasoning). The ‘Neo-‘ in Neoreaction appears to be a Calvinist mark. There are any number of influential secular explanations for the way history has tortured the Church — such that even the religious seem typically to default to them. Where does one find a radically providential account (excavating the theological meaning of Modernity)?
(5) Is not the very word ‘Cathedral’ in its Neoreactionary usage a complex providential sign? (Which suggests that it has far more to tell than anything either Neoreactionary writers or mere accident put into it.)
(6) The cluster of disputes around ‘predestination’ (or the action of eternity upon history) is the Occidental key to the problem of time.
I’m sure there’s much more …
[This helps to set the tone.]
History never repeats itself, but it rhymes, runs the suggestive aphorism (falsely?) attributed to Mark Twain.
James Delingpole writes in the Daily Telegraph:
… have you ever tried reading private journals or newspapers from the 1930s? What will surprise you is that right to the very last minute – up to the moment indeed when war actually broke – even the most insightful and informed commentators and writers clung on to the delusion that things would somehow turn out all right. I do hope that history is not about to repeat itself. Unfortunately, the lesson from history is that all too often it does.
There’s quite a lot of this about.
For one theoretical account of how history might rhyme, on an ominous 80-year cycle, there’s a generational model that sets the beat. “Strauss & Howe have established that history can be broken down into 80 to 100 year Saeculums that consist of four turnings: The High, The Awakening, The Unraveling, and the Crisis.” From a philosophical point of view, it seems a little under-powered, but its empirical plausibility rises by the month.
There is a ‘problem’ that has been nagging at me for a long time – which is that there hasn’t been a long time. It’s Saturday, with no one around, or getting drunk, or something, so I’ll run it past you. Cosmology seems oddly childish.
An analogy might help. Among all the reasons for super-sophisticated atheistic materialists to deride Abrahamic creationists, the most arithmetically impressive is the whole James Ussher 4004 BC thing. The argument is familiar to everyone: 6,027 years — Ha!
Creationism is a topic for another time. The point for now is just: 13.7 billion years – Ha! Perhaps this cosmological consensus estimate for the age of the universe is true. I’m certainly not going to pit my carefully-rationed expertise in cosmo-physics against it. But it’s a stupidly short amount of time. If this is reality, the joke’s on us. Between Ussher’s mid-17th century estimate and (say) Hawking’s late 20th century one, the difference is just six orders of magnitude. It’s scarcely worth getting out of bed for. Or the crib.
Life appears to be saturated with purpose. That is why, prior to the Darwinian revolution in biology, it had been the primary provocation for (theological) arguments from design, and previously nourished Aristotelian appeals to final causes (teleology). Even post-Darwin, the biological sciences continue to ask what things are for, and to investigate the strategies that guide them.
This resilience of purposive intelligibility is so marked that a neologism was coined specifically for those phenomena — broadly co-extensive with the field of biological study — that simulate teleology to an extreme degree of approximation. ‘Teleonomy’ is mechanism camouflaged as teleology. The disguise is so profound, widespread, and compelling, that it legitimates the perpetuation of purpose-based descriptions, given only the formal acknowledgement that the terms of their ultimate reducibility are — in principle — understood.