09/06/2006 12 min #1198

Homo insapient

Homo insapient


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,

as well.

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

by association.

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

important members'.

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

more machines.

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

eliminated outright.

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.