Iconoclasm

There goes Nimrud.

“The final images on the video show the final, total destruction of one of the world’s most important archaeological sites.”

April 16, 2015admin 52 Comments »
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52 Responses to this entry

  • Iconoclasm | Neoreactive Says:

    […] Iconoclasm […]

    Posted on April 16th, 2015 at 11:00 am Reply | Quote
  • jay Says:

    And the iconoclasm isn’t even the destruction of real Idols. Unless an image served a cultic function of which prostrations and venerations were made for such images it is not idolatry.

    [Reply]

    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    That’s not how Iconoclasm works. Iconoclasm is the principle that representation is itself suspect in all forms. The human love of beauty, which itself tends towards the cultic, obsessive and idolatrous, is controlled by destroying all of the icons (images.)

    All images possess cultic function and an implicit sacral or profane character. Iconoclasts of this sort at least admit this, even if they rage against it. In a sense, there are no purely ‘secular’ images; images cannot be created without intent, and all of the original intents have either religious or personally spiritual motivations. (What about depicting a family member? – reply: Have you heard of ancestor worship?)

    In time we will finish their iconoclasm for them by breaking their faces.

    [Reply]

    jay Reply:

    It could be argued that the 2nd law of Moses is Iconoclastic. Is Judaism by its nature Iconoclastic?

    [Reply]

    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    Not temple Judaism, though certainly first-reconstruction (i.e. ‘Judaism’ as it is currently known) is. There were plenty of images in the temple. Their ban was on, as the author of the first comment in this chain noted, on actual idols.

    What that means is hard for us nominalists to understand, but in Genesis, I believe it is Rachel who is described as ‘bringing her household gods with her’ – small idols. This anti-‘idol’ institution was to try to prevent things like making kings or ancestors gods, or weird excesses like Asherah or Moloch.

    “Iconoclasm” as a term refers specifically to a group of Christians in the ninth century who, under some influence from Islam (‘progressives’ of a sort) wanted to do away with all icons. They lost then, the iconodoules such as myself were victorious, though not without the shedding of blood. They of course in the process destroyed a fair amount of ancient things of great value, like iconoclasts always do.

    Personally, I’d say there’s a line between destroying all depictions of anything other than geometry, and not destroying the images of things that people slaughtered their children to appease. In the first case, destroying such as the Muslims now do (the Persian Muslims who invented Algebra were not Iconoclasts, iirc.) is utterly degenerate on the side of self-righteousness and moralism. But the other extreme – leaving even sites of ritual slaughter intact because of ‘cultural value’ shows a lack of will towards destroying a degenerate culture. The Muslims, being true Universalists, consider the whole world open for their indiscriminate purging; even applied to things that are utterly innocent of what we Christians would regard as sin, such as the tomb of Jonah.

    Ironic, since the Muslims claim to regard Jonah as a prophet. For this reason, some Muslims are confused and think ISIS isn’t Islamic. But it wouldn’t be Islam if they didn’t reserve the right to destroy everything just to prove that they control it.

    Posted on April 16th, 2015 at 12:40 pm Reply | Quote
  • Hegemonizing Swarm Says:

    So, with the last remnants of cultural-historical value removed, there are less and less quibbles to thoroughly nuking the place from orbit.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 16th, 2015 at 1:04 pm Reply | Quote
  • dantealiegri Says:

    The weakness of the west is so strange to behold.

    A calm british voice used to be followed by the calm british fist.

    I suppose it is useful to see what happens when a civilization no longer has the believe that it should exist.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 16th, 2015 at 1:13 pm Reply | Quote
  • Thales Says:

    “PROGRESS!!!”

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 16th, 2015 at 1:28 pm Reply | Quote
  • Krisis Says:

    True modernism, indeed. Hopefully, they’ll build a top modern, functionalist, concrete mosque on top of that old, bourgeois, all-to-human rubble. They’re just joining the heroic struggle of the utopian socialists who demolished the old inner cities of Europe.
    Long live the Islamo-Bolsheviks!

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 16th, 2015 at 3:15 pm Reply | Quote
  • Dan Says:

    Is America a Communist country?

    Vlad Putin just said yes, likening America to the USSR after World War II.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-04-16/putin-live-talks-us-nukes-ukraine-iran-hitler-and-cloning-town-hall-meeting-%E2%80%94-full-v

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 16th, 2015 at 5:38 pm Reply | Quote
  • Blogospheroid Says:

    Do I interpret that admin considers this demolition a tragedy?

    Well Nick, Unfriendly AI is going to do worse to humanity and human values. Everything that we consider beautiful will be torn down if it doesn’t bring in a higher score in the AI’s utility function. Support research into human value aligned AI while we still have humanity left.

    [Reply]

    Hurlock Reply:

    How do you know how AI’s are going to think?

    [Reply]

    SVErshov Reply:

    I suppose, it is possible to run AI in backtesting mode on archived data from electronic trading platforms and in simulation mode on real time data. Trading bots tested that way, but bots are primitives compare to AI.

    [Reply]

    Blogospheroid Reply:

    The crux of these matters is described in http://lesswrong.com/lw/y3/value_is_fragile/

    Losing everything of value is a very high probability scenario in any kind of uncontrolled take-off.

    [Reply]

    SVErshov Reply:

    Restoration of moral in psychiatric hospital is mission impossible. “Types of machines are easy matched with each type of society” DELEUZE. We created AI and we created money which AI can easy use, crypto currencies.

    SVErshov Reply:

    @Blogospheroid

    Restoration of moral in psychiatric hospital is mission impossible. “Types of machines are easy matched with each type of society” DELEUZE. We created AI and we created money which AI can easy use, crypto currencies.

    Jesse Reply:

    Would you still say it’s high-probability if AI emerges through mind uploading? I think a lot of AI enthusiasts underestimate the degree to which getting a communicative intelligence requires a huge amount of evolutionary fine-tuning of brain structure to produce a social creature that has a drive to mimic and learn from other social creatures, I don’t think you’re going to get such an intelligence from any relatively simply seed algorithm given access to a large amount of computing power.

    SVErshov Reply:

    AI is not my area of interest. But science can be measured by money. How much money you spend that much science you get. Seems like a lot money pouring to this research.

    Lesser Bull Reply:

    Ha! Maybe a little unfair, but still funny.

    [Reply]

    Mechanomica Reply:

    “Beauty is truth, truth beauty”

    Moving past the horror of insulted human values, nature’s justice has a certain charm.

    [Reply]

    Blogospheroid Reply:

    Cockroaches and stegosauruses both had truth and beauty till the asteroid struck. Cockroaches survived and their truth value increased compared to the stegosaurus.

    Do you truly think that the beauty of the cockroaches is also greater than that of the stegosaurus?

    [Reply]

    Mechanomica Reply:

    I understand the level on which you’re asking me that question. I’m supposed to find the stegosaur more beautiful because it’s a more complex organism. The differences between human/dinosaur behavior and brain size aren’t so great as the differences between the human and the cockroach, so it should be easier for a person to empathize with the dinosaur, or to anthropomorphize and identify with it.

    But isn’t it pretty to you at all, that the roach could survive all that?

    That’s the kind of justice and beauty I was talking about: the beauty of the the tardigrade making it past multiple mass extinction events. It’s the beauty of the first shoots of prairie lupine popping up through the nitrogen-starved soil left behind by the catastrophic eruption of Mount St. Helens, as well as the beauty of the eruption itself. Or for a more controversial example: on the big island of Hawaii, some of the more recent post-eruption areas are now covered with an aggressive grass all the way from Africa. Perhaps one of the prickly seed pods made its way over adhered to the lining of a tourist’s coat. It’s an invasive species and it will probably push some delicate, colorful native plants to extinction soon if it hasn’t already. But it is. It’s there. It’s happening.

    With humans, too, it seems to me that the bowl—in some ways—is already broken, the last glass of milk actively spilling onto the floor. What now? I can let myself be sad at length for what’s lost or I can trace and retrace the neural pathways that let me become energized enough to do something with what remains. For me, the hardiness of certain forms of life in the face of nature has become a genuine source of joy and wonder. Even if I might have naively hoped for the world to provide me with a different outcome in many cases, there’s information in the real outcome that I wouldn’t be able to access if I were determined to ignore it or to rail against the perceived injustice of what occurred. (I do not, btw, mean to imply that’s what you’re doing, only that this is how I’ve framed the choice to myself.)

    Still, I do like your point about the cockroaches. It highlights some common ground between our camps, regarding the relative importance of FAI. The way you phrased it here reminds me of some problems raised in Peter Watts’ Echopraxia, about the weaknesses of human engineering when pitted against natural selection.

    [Vaguely worded spoilers to come.]

    In the book, there are some among the augmented who refer to baseline humans as “roaches.” When a character objects to this nickname, a fellow baseline explains to him why the term isn’t necessarily meant to be insulting:

    [You’re] so primitive you’re unkillable… Sure, [you’ll die] if someone drops a piano on your head. But you’re also field-tested. We’ve had millions of years to get things right; some of those folks in the Hold are packing augments that didn’t even exist a few months ago. First releases can be buggy, and it takes time for the bugs to shake out—and by then there’s probably another upgrade they can’t afford to pass up if they want to stay current. So they suffer—glitches, sometimes. If anything, roach connotes a bit of envy.”

    Unsurprisingly, there are augmented and otherwise intellectually superior characters in Watts’ books who die along the way. That kind of death hits me harder than the death of a human “roach”, just as you’re implying it should. At the same time, their deaths were also beautiful to me because—even though they’re fictional—they helped make salient to me some very real dangers. So I’m glad the author killed them off. What he communicated through their deaths was something that needed to be said. Nature, similarly, communicates to us through death and destruction, if we are smart enough to listen.

    If you’re asking whether I find it ugly or objectionable that the human being—along with the remnants of the beautiful and mighty early works we’ve created—may in the final tally amount to little more than a boot loader for a higher intelligence, my answer is “no.” In fact, my opinion is very much to the contrary. If such a being has all the qualities that would make it viable over the long term and it truly is more intelligent than us, then as far as I’m concerned it’s more than welcome to burst forth from my chest and eat my face. We’ve had our run.

    But the possibility of all Earth-originating intelligent life succumbing to a complete collapse at the hand of Gnon, due to AI (or anything else, for that matter) being engineered improperly by a bunch of dumb apes with their heads in the clouds? That bothers me a great deal. It also constitutes the primary—if not sole—reason for my interest in the alt-right and specifically in Neoreaction. For all that I respect Yudkowsky, Bostrom, et al and their work, I don’t think the current FAI crew, on their own, have of all of what it’s going to take to prevent this kind of collapse. Some of the missing pieces to that puzzle are floating around here. I’d like to see it all put together.

    (As a side note: Yes, I do consider what ISIL/ISIS is doing now to be a natural consequence of everything else that has occurred thus far. This doesn’t mean that I agree with them. It means I’m ready and willing to integrate the facets of reality communicated through their actions.)

    scientism Reply:

    “ISIS destroys ancient city to make way for giant server farm to further its goal of building a super intelligent AI” would probably elicit a different response from admin. Ululation, perhaps.

    [Reply]

    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    Those with the brilliance to construct an AI would house it in a beautiful city like Nimrud; even if the thing went foul and destroyed it afterwards, like Islam is doing.

    Furthermore, I would think underneath a mountain would be a better place for a server farm and the deep mind of a singleton. Nature itself provides that any group who demolished Nimrud to build a server farm would probably fail to even make something that could think.

    [Reply]

    Blogospheroid Reply:

    Orthogonality problem. If you’re smart, doesn’t mean you will be humane or even need to be. Human psychopaths probably exemplify this. If the AI considers Nimrud beautiful it will be because someone managed to input their values correctly.

    Hegemonizing Swarm Reply:

    … after the super-intelligent AI first scans the city to sub-nm precision, imprints the exabytes of data in a memory crystal to be preserved for all eternity, and commits it to a block-chain of historical events and objects. Then, according to its utility function takes it apart to appropriate the resources it needs.

    Yes, well, to me it sounds better than having it be blown to bits out of spite, by a group that is akin to a blight in the desert. But that may just be my brand of silicon-etched romanticism.

    [Reply]

    Blogospheroid Reply:

    I consider the micro-scan followed by storage a more or less friendly scenario. I’m a patternist. As long as the pattern is stored somewhere, it can be re-instantiated.

    But the point is why would the AI even store values and objects that are of interest to humans alone and not to the AI ? I don’t see any reason for it to.

    Hegemonizing Swarm Reply:

    Agreed. I was posing two extremes here. It is possible to imagine an AI that doesn’t care at all, Your typical paperclip maximizer won’t be interested in where it came from, it just wants to paperclip.

    This lack of interest is a weakness, it puts paper-clipping ahead of building up knowledge about the universe. E.g. learning about primitive cultures could feasibly help it to come up with cheaper strategies to spread through the universe [if intelligent life develops in a similar way in other places].

    Also: Information storage is cheap. If [part of] the advanced intelligence has any interest in its human roots (akin to the Internet Archive, but for physical objects), it can just as well keep it around for study.

    Blogospheroid Reply:

    Perhaps, but the overriding point here is “Powerful agency destroys that which it does not value”.

    [Reply]

    Aeroguy Reply:

    Knowledge has utility. As the acquisition and storage cost of knowledge goes down, the demand for knowledge will rise. Curiosity scales naturally with intelligence.

    Posted on April 16th, 2015 at 5:54 pm Reply | Quote
  • Izak Says:

    At one point Western Civilization used to work hard to preserve and ossify the relics of the past, simply because their “past-ness” was important. Now the West has become so decrepit and weak that it will stand and watch in awe of any group that believes in something, anything, enough to sever its own ties to the world of history.

    And when you think about it, why would these guys care to respect history when they see themselves as reinventing a new, glorious history? And why would anyone in the West try to stop them? What are they going to say? “No, we want that historical data available, because we could write some GREAT research papers on them.” The Islamic State has no use for that. They’re not particularly bright people, anyhow.

    [Reply]

    vimothy Reply:

    Another, perhaps slightly perverse, way of looking at it is that ISIS actually take the religious significance of these monuments seriously, which is why they’re destroying them, whereas to Western liberals they’re just baubles to decorate museums with.

    [Reply]

    Izak Reply:

    Well Abu Bakr, the first rightly guided caliph, let them stand there.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 16th, 2015 at 7:32 pm Reply | Quote
  • Rainer Chlodwig von Kook Says:

    This post should be tagged “golem”.

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/obamas-fake-war-against-the-islamic-state-isis-the-islamic-state-is-protected-by-the-us-and-its-allies/5432163

    [Reply]

    Blogospheroid Reply:

    As though we didn’t have enough unfriendly AI analogies already!

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 17th, 2015 at 3:48 am Reply | Quote
  • Iconoclasm | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on April 17th, 2015 at 4:14 am Reply | Quote
  • jay Says:

    @jay

    But the images of the temple aren’t icons that have a cultic purpose to be used for veneration. Rather it is the glory that resided between the cherubim of the ark that is worshipped.

    If however those images were simple representations and not used in veneration then it will not be an idol. Akin to the snake on a pole that was originally not an idol but a symbol. But when people started venerating it. Then it is destroyed.

    [Reply]

    jay Reply:

    In reply to E Anthony Grey above.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 17th, 2015 at 2:03 pm Reply | Quote
  • vxxc2014 Says:

    As the Dark Ages claimed ever more of both past and future, bright minds debated mythical machine saviors called Artificial Intelligences that would swoop in and either destroy them utterly or somehow save them from consequences of their own degeneracy.

    The people who’ll make it and deserve to by both God and Gnon simply remark:

    “Fucking Savages.”

    And gather men and materials to make it.

    They’re Fucking Savages, They’re Ignorant [Jahil] and probably have the same lifespan as the Palestinians – it’s over once the State Dept is gone and with it the UN.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 17th, 2015 at 3:34 pm Reply | Quote
  • SVErshov Says:

    @vxxc2014
    Brits too stolen a lot ancient statues from Greece during WW2 and refusing to return till now. Or, stealing other nation harritage not a crime anymore.

    [Reply]

    Rasputin Reply:

    Ao vencedor, os despojos.

    [Reply]

    nydwracu Reply:

    Given ISIS, strip-mining the Third World of the relics of superior civilizations before they can blow them all up can’t seem like a bad idea anymore.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 17th, 2015 at 4:12 pm Reply | Quote
  • Jesse Says:

    @vxxc2014 If a new dark ages happens, there probably won’t be a second industrial revolution–all the easily-mined resources, particularly oil and coal, that could be used to start a new one by a preindustrial civilization have already been extracted by us (see http://aeon.co/magazine/technology/could-we-reboot-civilisation-without-fossil-fuels/ ). So a new dark ages would just mean we’d all become “savages” forever, or at least until we go extinct or evolve into some different, equally uncivilized animal (large brains are very costly metabolically, so I wouldn’t count on natural selection continuing to favor brain expansion over shrinkage in such a future–also see http://phys.org/news187877156.html ). That might happen, but why bother making plans for it? Do you really care all that much if your descendants, or your beliefs and values, persist in that sort of world after you’re gone?

    [Reply]

    vxxc2014 Reply:

    My point is avoid Dark Ages, the Duty of every generation of men is to stand their watch against chaos.

    Not sit back and be ironic when it’s at a safe distance.

    Now if they happen do I think it’s anything but another multi-century setback? NO. Many Dark ages have happened.

    Do I want my descendents, kin, beliefs, values to make it anyway? YES.

    And if I haven’t made this clear yet: you’re all full of shit.

    You won’t be sitting back snarky and ironic when it’s your turn and you’ll be regretting you didn’t man the walls.

    The very admin removed to relative safety from the presumed and over rated chaos that will engulf Britain [which it probably won’t] for China [not History’s best bet for avoiding periods of chaos].

    Bullshit. Man The Walls. And shut up.

    [Reply]

    Aeroguy Reply:

    Crossed off any names off your list? I know you don’t mean sitting on the border with a rifle on your back for display playing flashlight tag with the illegals while the border patrol passes out water. Sit and wait for yet another strong man to lead the proles with promises that can’t be kept? No, we’re doing the same thing, we’re forming fraternities and building up. Amusingly in spit of trustless technology being championed in these parts, we’re certainly spending an awful lot of time building up old fashioned trust amongst ourselves (what you confuse for sitting around doing nothing). On my worst days I think about the things I’d do if I joined with you in a foolhardy crusade. I can think of few things that would give me more satisfaction than crossing off names, but for what.

    Proles can’t rule themselves, that’s a very important trust, which means a new elite must be ready. If we had a ready new elite, you could effectively exit in place. We both know how ridiculous the notion that any prospective new elite is already in NRx, as is the notion that they all have Harvard degrees. It’s like finding a good girl, impossible because they’re not found but have to be made so. Elites are far more challenging since the breeding and training required are far more rigorous. The project is to build better men who can in turn build men better than themselves and so on until exit can be reached. The manosphere was the first generation of this project, NRx part of the second generation.

    [Reply]

    Jesse Reply:

    “Now if they happen do I think it’s anything but another multi-century setback? NO. Many Dark ages have happened.”

    I suppose it depends what you mean by “dark ages”, but to me that term is relative to what’s gone before–so for example I wouldn’t say ancient Rome was a “dark age” for its time, but if our technological civilization collapsed and at some point in the future we had another Rome-like civilization with Rome-like science and technology, I’d still call that a “dark age” since it would have lost so much knowledge relative to our time.

    And note that I was talking specifically about whether civilization could ever recover the level of technology we have today if there was a collapse where we reverted to pre-industrial technology–a collapse from industrial to pre-industrial civilization followed by a second industrial revolution is something that has never happened in the past, so appealing to history by saying “many Dark ages have happened” wouldn’t be a good argument. And I gave a specific reason that a second industrial revolution probably wouldn’t happen, not because humans wouldn’t be as smart and potentially capable of new ideas as ever, but because there’d be virtually no oil or coal left that could be mined with pre-industrial technology (see the article I linked to for why other options like charcoal or water power probably wouldn’t be sufficient to jump-start a new full-scale industrial revolution). So do you disagree with that argument, specifically? Or is it just that another few thousand years of pre-industrial civilization (followed perhaps by a return to hunter-gatherer conditions whenever the next ice age comes around) doesn’t strike you as so bad, so that you still care how well your descendants and/or ideals would fare in such a future?

    To me, with the value I place on continued expansion of knowledge and understanding, that would be a future so boring and pointless that I don’t really see it as any better than a future in which humanity just goes extinct. So I put all my eggs in the “continued scientific and technological progress” basket, not because I’m sure it will happen that way, but because there doesn’t seem to be any point in planning for the alternative, which would just be a go-nowhere future regardless of what specific ideologies/politics dominate.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 18th, 2015 at 2:59 am Reply | Quote
  • vxxc2014 Says:

    To the gentleman inquiring after the British museum’s stewardship of Greek Antiquities: besides me being American not Brit do look at Greek politics and history at the time of the putative looting.

    I think the British Museum will prove a better steward of antiquities than whatever Russian Gangster the Greek Govt will now pawn them off to, assuming some nihilist riot in Greece doesn’t consume them.

    [Reply]

    SVErshov Reply:

    nature of a mental process is the same, difference is in content, both parties, Brits and IS taking care of things, which do not belong to them.

    [Reply]

    NRx_N00B Reply:

    Why do ancient Greeks look more like northwest Europeans? Is it because modern Greeks are Slavs that have little ethnic connection with the ancient Greeks?

    [Reply]

    NRx_N00B Reply:

    A couple thousand years from now, northwest Europeans will be more related to Sub-Saharan Africans with little ethic connection to Händel, Beethoven or Mozart (although they’ll vehemently claim that history).

    [Reply]

    Jesse Reply:

    Unless there’s a collapse of technological civilization, a couple hundred years from now I’m pretty sure whatever beings are in charge of technological civilization won’t be biological humans, and whatever biological humans still exist will be the future equivalent of the Amish, or great apes living on a wildlife preserve.

    Posted on April 18th, 2015 at 2:47 pm Reply | Quote
  • This Week in Reaction (2015/04/17) | The Reactivity Place Says:

    […] for Peak Oilers. Hey, there’s always Catholicism. Speaking of which, where (the hell) did Iconoclasm get such an awesome rep? It is and always has been a communicable mental […]

    Posted on June 17th, 2015 at 3:32 pm Reply | Quote

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