I've read more science-fiction than most authors, and I've been reading it
for33 years, so I've had some time to do so. I read a bit more quickly than
most people, as well, but that's just a result of reading a lot — probably.
We biologically and cognitively optimize toward what we do most. If we were
more aware of this essential aspect of being humanly cognitive, we might be
able to solve problems long thought irresolvable, or better yet, survive our
cognitive infancy — which is certainly where we are at now. I have the
sneaking suspicion that our race has 'been here before', as well.
Certainly there are stories that stand out as being essential to our
cognitive lineages, but there are also scalar expressions of templates from
which any story may arise which also stand out. Often, a glimpse of those,
experientially, can be more amazing than any possible story, but that
perhaps is a matter for another essay.
What I want to address here is something very human, very complexly
emboided, yet essentially simple. As a child I deeply experienced the
connectivity of the many living forms I encountered. I never took anyone's
advice to experience them as insentient, or non-intelligent, or 'differing'
in 'scale of ability' in the domain of communication. Because I never
'bought' this fallacy, I experienced a rather different life than most
humans do, even those who claim to be more or less alike with me.
It was clear that the judgmental 'advisors' of modern science, academia, and
religion (at least as popularly experienceable) were 'projecting': it was
their intelligence which was being drawn into question by their axioms and
beliefs, and not that of the myriads of beings they observed and commented
upon, in whatever domain of media or experience one might encounter such
This never failed to bash me around inside, because I knew that the people
around me were not understanding some very essential things about the
biospheric citizen issue in the specific domain of the relations beween the
many species of Earth, and our own species. Thus we arrive at Homo
insapient — the modern evolutionary champion who may well end our lineage
altogether, for the sake of absurd stories, propaganda, and cash. Again,
another essay altogether.
Deeply experiencing these things, and my own nation, people and worls
community as essentially threatening to the Earth, even as a child, I
become, in my own way, a protector.
It seemed a very clear choice, I could have and maintain the essential
heartfulness I was seemingly born with, or I could sacrifice it and become a
I could never see the reward in Side II, Mechanical Valuing. I decided to
stay human at all costs, and champion that for whatever creatures I could
manage the task in aid of. Wow, was I naieve. So glad to still be that way,
Anyway, my point is getting, as is usual these days, belaboured in arriving.
Certain books are more important than others. After you've read a few
thousand of them you begin to form a kind of inner map. It doesn't matter
what kind of books — in any class, this is a possible generalizing outcome
of many readings. What happens is of couse unique to each person. But for
me, a kind of map arose, of particular stories which held some particle so
essesntial, that it drove their cognitive value high above the rest of them.
The Book I am Now Indicating is Larry Niven's Protector, and I'll return to
why, in a moment.
Since I am rambling, and since I am a poet as well as a researcher and just
a plain old human being (sort of), I'd like to take a moment to recommend a
little cognitive experiment. Randomly (in your own expression of randomness)
select three books. Read them as though all the material in each one related
intimately, in every possible way, to the others. With the right set of
books, you could literally have an experience unlike anything you've ever
imagined, becuase, strangely, when linked with human cognition, the
essential scalarity of our natures and languages gets a kind of quantum leap
What happens is that unusually extensible (and highly gneralizing) maps can
begin to form, in the experiencer. Connectivities which are generally
off-limits, entirely, come into play. Although I had played with this as a
toy in poetic experiments during the 1980s, I did not stumble into the
fullness of its potentials until many years later. An artist I once met
discussed a similar property which was emergent from 'watching multiple
television channels simultaneously' — and, at the time, I thoroughly wrote
him off as someone too isolated to test his own experience reliably. Bad
move on my part. He was right.
Why was he right? That's more difficult to answer difinitively, for some
reasons which are harder to explain. A typical dodge, my last statement, I
know — but I must remain cogent to the travel of my fingers and the errand
of my mind. Consider this thought experiment. We'll just play here, no laws
allowed. We'll call our experiment 'A Given Set of Books — and a Question'.
Given any random set of things, experiences, concepts, etc — we can usually
very rapdily apply systems of valuing, or maps to the members of our 'set'.
Fromdiffering perspectives, or for different purposes, the nature of our
maps will change. We could limit the possible qualities of a map-unit to
small or LARGE, for the sake of example. Thus, from one perspective, some
map-units would be so small as to be invisible, while others would look
large in perspective and perception. If we change our approach, or our
desire — the map-units are re-evaluated from the new perspective, meaning a
change in which units are LARGE and obvious, small, etc. Thus we can see, in
a very general way, that we could form a single kind of map that's
incredibly useful. This is actually a toy, alike with one you can hold, but
it works in the mind, rather than the hand.
The toy is simple, but has a few different features. Part of it is
understanding that 'being a good mapmaker' is a game that pays off in
Another part is deeply understanding what the term generalizeable means or
'highly generalized'. And the last portion of this little trinity is a
simple understanding: given any set, we can locate 'triangulations' of 'most
These 'trinities' are far more useful than our far too commonly 'specific'
positions of 'starting' in our inward cognitive activity, thought, judgment,
etc. So we must learn to make rapid and highly general maps, of essential
trinities, tasting many in the course of a few moments, and arriving through
this process at an 'essential trinity' which can yeild scalar domains of
rewards, instead of the linear rewards we are witheringly accustomed to.
The toy is the playful making and parsing of such 'trinityMaps', in whatever
domain is relevant, as a source, to a given desire or activity.
Given any set of, say, five or more books — it is rationally emergent that
we may find one book to be the most generally important of the set to become
deeply intimate with. In other words, selecting, say, at random from all
currently avaialable books — a set of 50 books — we could rapidly identify 5
or so that were radically more important to be familiar with the content of
than a book we might find of 'more essentially average value'. This is,
perhaps, so generally true that it might be applied to any set of any type
of thing. Strangely, this idea emerges as something of a cogntiive bias on
the part of symbolically aware humans. I wonder why? Do you?
Now we take our model to the modern world. If one reads voaciously and
widely enough, one might form, not only single reCognitions of highly
important information keys — but you might begin to form recombinant virtual
sets of such keys. An integration of three powerful books, which can provide
real access to uncommon skills and infomation, can be for a given human,
something akin to an alien miracle toy. The only 'drug' required is
Here's my suggestion of a Quaternity Set, of Terribly Important Books:
What is Life? Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan
Protector: Larry Niven
The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding:
Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana.
The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the BiCameral Mind, Julian
Now here are three randomizeable additions:
A Fire Upon the Deep: Verner Vinge
The King James Bible: (metaphor-momentum-author)
Understanding Comics: Scott McCloud
Given this set of books, read as though they were generally and specifically
related, and, for the sake of our game, created by a single author, we might
learn some extremely unusual things. Especially if we were the sort of
person who was far more interested in the next question than the next
answer. Even moreso if we are resistant to axioms which freeze themselves
into laws instead of launching us into the realms beyond rationality: where
heartfulness, creativity, imagination, and scalar innovation (miracles)
still dwell with great vitality, however forgotten, denied, co-opted or
ignored they may be We must become like rabbits, always seeking the strange
spiralling holes which are the routes to the essential liberties our stolid
and tyrannical cognitive systems exist to essentiall oppose. And, this can
be done with simple toys, imaginatively adapted, and uniquely adopted.
The great reward of our place in the world lies not in our retarded quest to
'master' nature, but in our essential and humanly unique connectivity with
all things natural. Machines, are ir-natural.
They could be seen as emergent from our nature, and thus natural — except
for the fact that they eat living terrains and systems, to spit out dead
copies of themselves at incredibly, scalarly increasing cost. In short, a
mechanized culture has a short, and highly fixed lifespan, if in its
mechanization it misses the essential connective scalarity inherent in a
planet's ecosystems, and if its drive toward mechanization converts these
networks into massively emergent material copies of dead terrain. If
further, ecosystems must then be sacrificed to support such machines — we've
got a suicide system which is nearly absolute in its essential
This isn't to say no machine is agreeable, it is instead to say that we will
be erased by wrongful implementations of mechanistic ideas, and physical
machines. This isn't a science fiction novel, or the future. My human life
has been tortured and erased by machines. It has been all I can do to
preserve some shred of my identity in the circus of inne and outer mechanism
our absurd excuses for 'society' have become.
Machines, cognitive and physical, have been eating me, you, our children,
and the world, for at least the last 50 years. Now, the 'water around the
sleepy frog' we are, is so hot that it's killing a lot of us, directly,
inwardly and outwardly, every moment of our lives. Publically, we are not
noticing this. We aren't opposing it with anything more than our dead and
dying people and a few exuberant shouts.
What is our answer?
To my ear, our industiral societies, particularly america, are singing a
song that seems clear to me: it's essentially this:
we are machine food, come be eaten with us. we make more better. we make
I have found this aspect of my species terrifying and puzzling since at
least the age of four..
Now, let's extend our thought experiment.
What if there is a set of three books, that, read together, as though
linked, contained more functional value than any other possible set? In
other words, we're expanding our earlier model.
Given all the books currently accessible on Earth, which three are the most
generally important in the most general of all possible applications?
This sort of question leads to some extremely interesting experiences. And
they are neither predictable, nore 'rational' in many instances.
For example, I can avow and attest that there is a 'central library' where,
not only are all possible books represented, but any living creature may
'access' any of the books, in a way that is relative to that creature's
modalities of symbolic cognition.
While this place may 'have no physical location', it is an encounterable,
repeatable (across different experiencers from different cultures) and very
completely 'real' place. In as much as your eye exists, this library exists.
Yet there is no dependable record or referece to such things in our
experience in modern societies. In fact, in many of these 'modern'
societies, it is cognitively illegal, and punishable, to believe in, speak
of, or seek such things. This simple fact leads us to an observable
certainty: vast terrains of our cognitive natures, potentials and abilities
have been co-opted, shaved off, punished into a 'more desireable' shape, or
I am certain these ideas, of 'the library of libraries' and 'the three
important books' has at once inspired many modern and departed people(s), in
domains more various than we can imagine. Interestingly, their quests and
questions in these domains have also erased more than a few of them.
Possibly more than prospered by it, for one's uniqueness can be parlayed
into a variety of weapons by an oppressor, and there is no lack of this sort
of tyranny in our cognitive evolution. In fact, this appears to be a common
and underappreciated fact.
The generality of the idea is the important thing to see. Diversity of
experience results in recombinantly scalar tools — flatness of experience
results in linearly linked tools.