Okay, so commenter Robotech_Master made a fair point about Salon.com's ad policy and prompted me to go back and read the Alan Moore interview I mentioned yesterday. I was a little annoyed by the distracting ads flashing and jumping while I was reading the article, but it was worth the effort, and I'm looking forward to picking up some of Moore's work.
Here are just a couple of random things that jumped out at me:
And I do tend to think that, given the upsurge of the religious right over the last couple of decades, these are the last spasms of those dinosaur organisms.
Why do you think that?
Because they are standing in the way of history, trying to turn everything, politically and spiritually, back to a medieval vision of the world. Whereas they're perfectly entitled to have whatever worldview they like, I would suggest that humanity is moving in a forward direction. And that any attempt to turn the clock back to a mythical, simpler, or better age would probably be about as effective as Britain's ancient King Canute, who famously sat on his throne along the tide line and ordered the waves to go back.
I'd like to believe this, but I'm not sure I buy it. I do think it's weird that, on the one hand, technology is moving society into an unprecedented level of connectivity and collaboration, of a type that will probably make the religious right increasingly foolish. However, on the other hand, the power base in this country is moving further to the right, and in al Qaeda and other groups we see the global rise of radical fundamentalism, so there's a rather complex fault line forming and it's anyone's guess as to what the landscape will look like after the earthquake.
If we look back a few generations to perhaps our great-grandparents, we've got a very different world in terms of its information content. You have a world where the people's heads were more than likely filled with the details of their own lives. I know that sounds completely unlikely from our cultural standpoint, where our heads are filled with the doings of Joey, Chandler, Ross, Fabian, whoever the other ones are, I can't remember.
How quickly we forget! [Laughs.] But, yeah, people's heads are stuffed with a fantastic amount of information, and I think all too often they cannot assimilate, digest or connect up that incredible amount of data into a coherent worldview.
Yeah. This is something Joseph Campbell pointed to; our culture has developed so rapidly that our the old mythology doesn't apply and the new myth hasn't been created yet that will help us assimilate. It'll happen, but we have to go through this unsettling flux first.
I feel that we may be approaching a cultural boiling point. I'm not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing; I really don't know because I can't imagine it, quite frankly. But I think we may be approaching the point at which the amount of information we are taking becomes exponential, and I'm not entirely certain what kind of human culture will exist beyond that point. Except it will happen sooner than we expect, and the difference between us and the kind of people that will exist after such an event will be vastly different than the difference between us and the hunter-gatherer society we've evolved from.
You're saying we might not be able to recognize human beings of the future that well.
Yeah, it could be a quantum leap, a sudden, massive and unprecedented leap. Boiling point is a good analogy, because what you have before that stage is water. What you have after it is something that does not behave at all like water; it's a completely different substance altogether. And that's what I see looming for society -- and it's probably necessary, probably inevitable, probably scary.
This is the concept of the Singularity that I've been hearing so much about lately. I think we're already in the midst of this, we just haven't quite reached that boiling point yet.
Really interesting, stimulating article. Thanks for nudging me back over there.