Toward an honest accounting of our shared metaphysical history
The Enlightenment was the deliberate formation of cognitive biases at the civilizational level around infrequent and unexplainable metaphysics
Before we begin:
- The CIA tells us Remote Viewing, something we would describe as metaphysical, is real.
- I’m a wizard
- I’m addicted to thinking about the biggest things I can think about
- Magick is real and you are under attack
The easiest thing for you to do here is tell yourself I’m crazy and go consume something else. That’s a very understandable reaction.
What is history?
Think about your lifes history. Think back to specific events that have stuck with you. Think about how clear they are. How clear are the events related to those events? How clear are the events you’ve never thought about twice? That doesn’t mean you don’t know anything about your past, but it does mean that you’re likely to feel way more certain about stuff than you’d actually be if you thought about it.
Our civilization has something like that lack of clarity about its own past and the history of our world. That doesn’t mean all the incredible professionals and specialists and artists who have spent their lives working to record and share our history haven’t done an exceptional job — it simply means that they‘ve done an imperfect job at an impossible task. Our civilization is way better at remembering things than we are as individuals, and it’s getting better, but it’s almost always been completely incapable of remembering all but the biggest and most significant events.
History had often or always been a place of narrative and culture for pre-Enlightenment regions until the Enlightenment came along. Narrative is not in the space of science — narrative is in the space of consciousness.
I like a lot of the awesome stuff that has resulted in the infrastructure of our civilization and the wonder of our modern lives. I think that the current state of the world shows us that there are a lot of problems with how we’re creating this stuff, and sometimes why we’re creating it, but I’m very much in favor of innovation and science, as well as the curiosity and ambition that flourishes in the world around me because of the Enlightenment (Something I have not studied, I just live in the end result of its efforts.)
What is happening?
If you look hard enough at history you’ll see that it’s full of things that people keep describing that you know can’t be real. The space of metaphysics is the space of story and fantasy. These unreal things (spirits and aliens and all manner of fantastical things) exist alongside things we know are real like windmills and boats. This is a real problem, folks. In order to hold the position that there are no metaphysics we have to assume that history contains the same mistakes or lies about similar subjects over and over and over again — all over the world. It’s reasonable to want to assume people were just crazy or wrong and move on. I don’t fault the ideologies of the Enlightenment for dismissing this stuff in the face of the evident and magnificently real wonder of modern technology. Especially given that these metaphysical experiences, while prominent in history, are not prominent in the lived experiences of most people who consume modern interpretations of history.
There have been stories of fantastic technology in the sky all over the world for much longer than we’ve had fantastic technology in the sky. The ancient Greeks didn’t have good language around the colour blue, despite it being the sky, until someone got pigments and had to work with the colour more. How did a culture that couldn’t accurately describe the colour of the sky come up with cave drawings of aliens or robots?
Unable to trust data because it’s mostly story, and also because there’s hardly any data, we need to look at patterns and other things to try and figure out what was happening. Let’s look at professions for example: there’s pretty much always been people serving in metaphysical roles throughout our history and most cultures. These professions still exist, check out this Washington Post article. If you view these people as offering a marketable service and you hold the view that every single one of these people and every single one of their clients was wrong or self-deceptive or crazy: what does that say about your perception of most people who have ever lived?
These roles have decreased in prominence and stature as we’ve consumed increasingly complex ideas about reality from our media although, and this is really important, consuming those ideas about reality doesn’t necessarily mean we’re seeing the same benefit as we did from past iterations of this process. The scary movie ends and the things that go bump in the dark disappear with the credits and we often probably feel as good as we would have if we’d seen our village wise woman or shaman or priest. Round up, say it’s good enough, call it a day.
For most people most of the time this is enough but it’s clearly not always been enough and there are clearly still incidents of real metaphysical phenomena which defy our comprehension. Our solution to this is to adopt the cognitive biases of our institutions and tell ourselves it’s not real because there’s “no data” or it’s “hearsay”. At the very least the noteworthy quantity of hearsay represents a meaningful data point.
Science won’t let us talk about metaphysics and culture relegates it to the fringe of our awareness by virtue of how these themes are presented to us in media — and also due to some intense social competition from the space of religion. If whatever metaphysics may exist which relate to consciousness are no big deal then this is probably a fine state of affairs… as long as things are pretty stable for most folks. And that’s how things were — but now they’re not.
A bunch of things have changed and we’re stubborn and scared so we haven’t caught up to it. The mental maps and models our civilization uses to understand what’s happening haven’t caught up to the complexity of the impact of our shared reality on us. We have to tell ourselves increasingly simple lies in order to feel grounded. This is pervasive and systemic despite the existence of an incredible variety of well intended and competent people. There is simply too much cognitive bias in too many institutions (and too much media designed to atomize and consume everything it touches in order to convert attention into profit) to see the continued smooth operation of our collaborative problem solving abilities.
Our shared institutions are struggling at this time because there is an as-yet-undiscovered component of reality relating to consciousness that must be integrated into solutions to shared challenges at scale.
I fully admit that this is Woo. Woo is bad because the Enlightenment didn’t know what to do with it and then capitalism enabled a whole bunch of shitty manipulative products and assholes. Nevertheless: this is Woo and Woo is real.
We’ve all probably felt it at some point or another and, most importantly, we’re starting to see it. The leading edge of a number of scientific disciplines is taking us towards some really profound discoveries about reality. Also: by telling us that the 2004 Nimitz TicTac video is of a real object, and by telling us the object behaved in ways that defy the laws of physics, the United States government has given us proof of new physics.
How is it happening?
My money is on something about dark matter or dark energy relating to consciousness and something about social media platforms amplifying/focusing this effect in new ways. It looks like consciousness is able to connect with whatever remains unknown about physics in some way. It looks like technology can be constructed that will be able to interact with these new physics.
I’m not a scientist. I’m a B+ software developer and, even if it turns out that I’m right about a bunch of this shit, I’m probably still a little bit of a crazy person. My insight comes to me in the form of epiphanies while consuming excessive media that I know is harmful to me because I’m addicted to trying to figure out what’s going wrong with the world. I don’t trust my assessment of the world though because I’m definitely 100% wallowing in an unimaginable quantity of cognitive biases. Fortunately I see more than enough credible people saying stuff like this that I feel confident that the world is a mess and I’m not just projecting because I’m also quite obviously a mess.
How do we stop it?
There is a global mental health crisis. We need to develop massive global infrastructure designed to help people reduce the emotional harm they experience, and mitigate the harmful impact of harmful events after they happen to them.
I think the Catholic Church could put a really strong effort into developing this infrastructure as part of a very significant and critically required reformation. I’ve asked them to do this because why the fuck not? There are lots of organizations big enough to do this. Amazon could do it as part of a similar process.
We’ll probably fix this one way or another and we may even forget it again in a few hundred years until some version of something like this happens again. All we can do is the best we can do.