Dark Precursor

Colin Lewis plays with the idea of William Blake’s The [First] Book of Urizen as a prophetic anticipation of X-risk level artificial intelligence. It’s a conceit that works gloriously. A somewhat extended illustration:

1. LO, a Shadow of horror is risen
In Eternity! unknown, unprolific,
Self-clos’d, all-repelling. What Demon
Hath form’d this abominable Void,
This soul-shudd’ring Vacuum? Some said
It is Urizen. But unknown, abstracted,
Brooding, secret, the dark Power hid.

2. Times on times he divided, and measur’d
Space by space in his ninefold darkness,
Unseen, unknown; changes appear’d
Like desolate mountains, rifted furious
By the black winds of perturbation.

3. For he strove in battles dire,
In unseen conflictions with Shapes,
Bred from his forsaken wilderness,
Of beast, bird, fish, serpent, and element,
Combustion, blast, vapour, and cloud.

4. Dark, revolving in silent activity,
Unseen in tormenting passions,
An Activity unknown and horrible,
A self-contemplating Shadow,
In enormous labours occupièd.

January 10, 2015admin 7 Comments »

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7 Responses to this entry

  • Dark Precursor | Neoreactive Says:

    […] Dark Precursor […]

    Posted on January 10th, 2015 at 6:00 am Reply | Quote
  • Mechanomica Says:

    McKenna was of a similar opinion on Blake and the Great Filter. From “New Maps of Hyperspace” (1989):

    “The English poet-mystic William Blake said that as one starts into the spiral there is the possibility of falling from the golden track into eternal death. Yet it is only a crisis of a moment—a crisis of passage—and the whole purpose of shamanism and of life correctly lived is to strengthen the soul and to strengthen the ego’s relationship to the soul so that this passage can be cleanly made. This is the traditional position.

    “I want to include an abyss in this model—one less familiar to rationalists, but familiar to us all one level deeper in the psyche as inheritors of the Judeo-Christian culture. That is the idea that the world will end, that there will be a final time, that there is not only the crisis of the death of the individual but also the crisis of death in the history of the species.

    “…it is a mad rush from hominid to starlight… energies are released, religions are shot off like sparks, philosophies evolve and die, science arises, magic arises, all of these concerns that control power with greater and lesser degrees of ethical constancy appear. Ever present is the possibility of aborting the species’ transformation into a hyperspatial entelechy.”

    The last section of Blake’s “Book of Ahania” also contains what one might consider a firm warning along these lines.


    The Electric Philosopher Reply:

    Huh. Today’s synchronisity: re-reading Dune, just read the passage where Paul begins to realise his…mission? Destiny?…is to pull mankind off of the path of stagnation and force change upon it. Naturally, he fears the consequences of failure (and success).
    Dune’s hostility towards thinking machines and a pretty damn Nietzschean approach to religion is also fitting.


    admin Reply:

    Overdue for a Blake blitz. I’ll move the Book of Ahania (of which I have no recollection whatsoever) up the list.


    Posted on January 10th, 2015 at 8:38 am Reply | Quote
  • Dark Precursor | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on January 10th, 2015 at 10:53 am Reply | Quote
  • soapjackal Says:

    Willian Blake wrote something with prophetic anticipation. Color me shocked.

    Regardless I love his prose

    “Self-clos’d, all-repelling. What Demon
    Hath form’d this abominable Void,
    This soul-shudd’ring Vacuum?”


    Posted on January 11th, 2015 at 2:16 am Reply | Quote
  • outsider Says:

    Sounds more like it could be a Boltzmann Brain trying to become real in some inconceivably remote mathematical universe.


    Posted on January 11th, 2015 at 12:10 pm Reply | Quote

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