Meditations on Technology


Before I begin – If you have other ideas of what constitutes a tool or technology please comment or schedule a dialogue with me.

Now to begin proper…  I have recently taking to call myself a systems poet. Most other people don’t know that I am talking about, but I know what I am talking about. Randomly the other day I described myself as a tool maker. What does that mean???

What are tools and what are the relationship between tools and technology?

I have written about this before, but I want to refine this…

So there are a few different ideas about tools and technologies

1a. Tools are an extension of the body, like a telescope is an extension of the eye

1b. Tools generate power which extends the body but something like a water wheel.

2a. Technologies are guard rails – I think of this in terms of the philosophy of nudging – and example is the fordist assembly line

2b. Technologies are practices to refine something  Here I think about things like kundalini is tech or yoga is tech. It is a way to focus or refine energy, but it is using your body as a tool. Someone once asked me what are you/me a tool for? 

I recently read Saving the Appearances by Owen Barfield. One of his ideas is that mathematical models like E =MC^2 grew out of making empirical observations. People making observations were just saving the appearances, just recording what they saw, they were not deducing anything. The phenomena  was primary, the data secondary.

This became flipped around when we started taking the data as primary. That is how we started creating models and then studying our models. You could even say science is now about studying models and using more data to figure out if it is correct or incorrect.

The models according to Barfield are the Idols, this is a form of idol worship. I am making no judgements, just observations. One of the great things about the 20th century is that our models became predictive and models started to drive our technologies instead of experiment driving technology. 

Since Napolean and the introduction of Logistics read Delanda’s War in the Age of Intelligent Machines we also have the idea of optimization.  Technology is no not just about models or equations, but about measurement and instrumentation (how well are we doing something, how accurate is a reading), and also about simulation.

We can think of Jungian active imagination as a technology, we can think about talk therapy as technology, we can think of games as technology.  As Marx says technology works on us as we work on technology, so technology is a part of conditioning. 

So to recap technology as extension, as refinement, and as prediction.

As I am thinking about developing technology and tools, more and more I am thinking in this cyborgian way, how do I want to be conditioned … today … right now. How do I want to be…

People say we are moving from an age of doing into an age of being… how do we think about technology as ontology instead of epistemology. 



Complexity, Time and the Pandemic


My internet is not working well so I am binge reading Identities journal, which I opened in 10 tabs in my browser.  Right now I am reading The Curve of the Clock by Ben Woodard.  The discussion begins with biology. That changes over time are often morphological changes. Like a foetus becomes a human child, grows a heart, lungs, thumbs, hair.  This unfolding over time has a different aesthetic dimension than unfolding over space.  Unfolding in space would be the beauty of a picture For unfolding in space, Ben invokes the term phase-beauty.

So what! You may say.  Music unfolds overtime. Ahh but maybe I misspoke, perhaps this is the aesthetic of unfolding over worlds.  The world of the foetus is a different world than the world of the human child. The world of the seed is a different world than the world of the towering oak tree. 

This sort of unfolding over worlds, is something I would perhaps assign to the field of computation in the form of a state machine. Bergson raises the idea that this sort of phase shift, or what I am calling a world shift, is unquantifiable. But perhaps this is the wrong way to look at it. It belongs to the realm of set theory and not countability . The clock is a metaphor for the musical score written once and performed forever (although idiosyncratically).  But the computer is the metaphor for phase transitions. 

Woodard suggest that pandemic, not the virus, is an example of phase-horror perhaps.  Horror would be a reaction to the unknowable, the (un)sensible.  Horror is how we interact with phenomena we can only apprehend through mediation. 

But is the pandemic an example of a phase transition. I would say no. The progression of covid19 within an individual does exist in a world of phase transition, in a world of states: Health, asymptomatic, symptomatic, cough, fever. Together it is a picture of covid19. 

Looking at the scale of a population, a different world, we have different stages, outbreak, epidemic, pandemic, and so forth. The pandemic is a phase within the larger set. What we call this larger set I am not sure, disease perhaps, but I think there is something more accurate.

Knowing a disease with different phase transitions, apprehending it, acting with it, ie epistemology, aesthetics, ethics is different than  knowing a thing that extends only over time and space.  The pandemic itself may have qualitatively different phases within it, just as increased or decrease rate of growth. As the scale changes from linear to exponential, the world changes. 


What is invisibility?


I was reading this article,Contagion and Visibility: Notes on the Phenomenology of a Pandemic by J.P. Caron. It is about ways of knowing and covid19. It is really excellent and I recommend reading it. 

It is from a phenomenological perspective, which can mean one of a million things. But mainly that we start our investigation from sense perception in some way. With something like covid19 what does this mean? 

Well it could mean starting with symptoms, if you have them. It can mean starting with the protective measures we take and the feeling of that, the locus of attention on the hands, on the mouth.  What is the sensation of washing hands, of dry hands, of mask marks (as I am sure many of you have seen on social media).   It can start with our visual experience of charts (of different scales) showing infection, unemployment claims, or the stock market.  

However, all of this is an oblique, or mediated, ways at getting at what we believe is the cause of these sensations – an invisible virus. Sure if we put the virus under a microscope then we have a sense perception of this virus through the eye. Our experience of this is even different than our feelings of illness/symptom, or of protection.

This article mentions invisibility and scale. Invisibility is a problem of scale. It starts from the notion of world building and how we create meaning within worlds – this is a notion that is very close to my heart, as my investigation of system poetics is in many ways about world building.  The virus exists in a different world than the world we live in where we can feel a masks but not virus. We cannot directly ‘sense’ it – that is sense it unmediated.  The phenomenology of the covid19 is the phenomenology of the aspects in which our world of sensation intersects with covid19. 

J.P. connects this with ethics and the cognitive load that is associated with interacting with a something that exists in so many worlds (such as fear).  His perspective is informed by Kant and perhaps Hans Vaihinger, through the notion of as-if.  We have to act as-if these worlds or that these worlds represent something we do not directly sense.  

Ethics is essentially the study of how to act. I offer a different perspective.  This is not a matter of as-if, but a matter of system poetics, or world poetics.  As I see it, the ethical issue with covid19, from a phenomenological perspective, is that it presents itself in so many conflicting phenomenological experiences (or worlds). Which worlds we choose is based on our phenomenological experience of those worlds, the places where they overlap and where they rhyme.

What does meditation do for us?


Someone recently told me to think about what I am a tool for?

I have not answered the question. But it has made me think about what people do for one another and what things or practices we do for ourselves. Everything does something for us, and we have a reason for everything we do (even it is a bad reason, like habit).

I was participating in a vipassana meditation with a group of thinkers. Afterward we talked about what we felt etc, and one of the thinkers said that he could not help but have ideas during the meditation….

This made me think about the purpose of meditation – what does meditation do?

People in my group were talking about thinking more clearly ore removing cognitive bias. These are all great and I agree with them.

But is knowledge, is thinking, the that the only way to understand something?

An example I hear again and again is that of plants and plant lore. Ancient peoples did not engage in the scientific method in order to decide which plants cured which diseases.  So, how did they discover these properties?

I have no idea. Some people say the plants themselves spoke. What is important here is that there are ways to understanding beyond our normal cognitive mode of apprehension. How do we get there?  

My feeling is through meditation. Meditation lets us access other methods of understanding, methods that are subjective and private not public like science. These modes of understanding perhaps cannot be codified as knowledge in our society, or at least scientific knowledge. Since they are subjective they cannot be falsified. But if these subjective experiences provide other ways towards rich human experience why should they be denied.

I recently finished the listening society by hanzi freinacht, which outlines many different ways that inner life matters, how meditation contributes to the cultivation of inner life, and how this interacts with what we would call scientific knowledge. This is multilayered and I could talk about it in another post. 

But for now – is thinking the only path towards knowing? And if there are many paths what are they?

Kickstarter Launch!


Jesse and I had a creative residency at kickstarter last spring. Mainly so I could hang out on the roof deck, drink kombucha, and eat avocados.

We made a mental health card game based around Jesse’s phd work in psychology and DBT. My personal interest is in depth psychology particularly the work of Carl Jung and James Hillman. And I do love love Wilhelm Reich – he is sort of a behavioralist. But in these times I just say – whatever works.

We did not think this would be launching in the midst of a world wide pandemic – and we are offering the first reward for free (download the cards & perhaps print them & play ) You can check it out here.


Cognitive Load


These days I am sleeping more than normal, moving slower than normal, I need more down time, more inner space time. I am not sick with covid (I hope) – but there is an additional cognitive load of living in the midst of this. I am sure the cognitive load would be much much higher if I were sick, or if a family member were sick. I do have two school age kids running around wrestling on the floor, but it could be worse, I could have 5 kids or infant triplets.  But that is the deal, we all have more of a cognitive load so this is going to reflect in how we work, how we spend our time, what sort of energy we have and what we do.

But it taking all this down time I have notices more things. I have had more conversations (maybe too many zooms). I have had more vivid dreams. I have meditated more and practiced stillness – mainly because I lack the energy to be more active (and we really cannot be more active during this period of social distancing).

I’ve noticed often when I commit to a project and then there is an inner chorus of voices playing out various scenarios of success or failure in my head. I spend more time weaving narratives about my work than actually working.

When I commit to a relationship, for example, or even a course of study, I do NOT experience this same inner dialogue. I commit to what ever it is I desire or plan and I move on. My goal is to experience this with projects I work on too. Often the narrative that I spin about projects are a) that I will not finish the project in time or b) I lack some sort of resource to finish the project (in time). These things may or may not be the case, but often it is impossible predict these before hand, to reason them out in my mind before letting the work work itself out.

A Response to Adam Berg’s Computing the Engima of Love


I read this essay and I really like Adam Berg, I think he’s a smart and talented guy. So I read his piece on glass bead and crafted as sort of meditation interpretation.

What happens when we look at love from a computational perspective? We can look at love from a biological perspective, an evolutionary perspective, a cultural perspective, but now we have computation (a new law of nature), and what does computation tell us about love? What does it mean to look at love through the lens of computation? “When I experience sense perception as love, from a computational perspective, I am engaged in a symbolic encoding.”

This is love beyond language, but as a symbol perhaps used in another formula.  The computational aspect is to translate this symbolic coding.  Compiler theory is transcendental philosophy. Where certain perceptions are translated via foundational categories such as the identity statement, the conditional, into another symbolic language.

The paper is called “Computing the enigma of love”. Love here exists in the sentence formula “computing the enigma of love”, and Berg unpacks the computation of love by examining the three concepts of computation, enigma and love, as well as the entire equation ‘computing the enigma of love’, It reminds me of other great fours in philosophy like Heidegger’s  fourfold (the unity of earth, sky, divinities and mortals that makes a world).

Computation becomes automata theory of love, enigma becomes a meditation on free will, love becomes a meditation on the sublime, and the equation becomes a meditation on the black box / the unknowable.

What type of computer computes love? Automata theory defines different types of computational systems and the spacial, temporal, and veridical (probabilistic) time limits of what they can compute.  Berg describes two systems: the B-computer and the P-computer.

A B-computer is love as a product of the brain, a P-computer is love as a product of pleasure and pain. One is about inputs and outputs with the processor as a black box (a.body without organs), the other is about reducing sensation to different parts. -the organs. Which is which – I forget.

The Engima, this is the engima machine that the British used to decipher codes in WW2. Work on this machine was spear headed by Alan Turing.  So the enigma of love -love is some sort of code – maybe SHA256 – that we need to decrypt. This is different than love as a automata that processes signals in a particular way. What is the horizon of decryption?


It will take me a long time to decrypt a message encrypted in SHA256,

Love as a product of time helps it escape the linear predictability of P-Machines and B-Machines. By unfolding in time love becomes a product of free will. We could also call this unpredictability or non-linear results.  Freedom is that which is unable to be predicted. I suppose as our machines become more accurate at prediction perhaps we will lose freedom, but that is neither here nor there. It is this unpredictability via the unfolding of love over time, the decryption of the algorithm that takes time, that gives us this quality of love.

How does computation address love, which is sublime? Well this is just one point of view. From the Kantian perspective this means something that cannot be measured, from the Burkean perspective it is something that produces the strongest emotion possible (probably painful). So how does a computer compute these two things? The B-Computer computes Kant and the P-Computer computes Burke.

The inputs are the messages which must be decrypted over time,

We could have a different equation, with love not being equated with the sublime. This is just an assumption of this essay, so lets roll with it.Finally we have the boxism – that is the unknowable -the entire formula: computing the enigma of love. We can understand the components but not how they come together. But are there really things that we cannot know, maybe there are things we cannot know empirically but we can know them interpretively. We can have speculations on what is happening inside the box. Who cares what is outside the box! What a relief.

Computing the enigma of love does not answer anything for us, as good philosophy never does. Instead we start to think about how love exists from a computational aspect. This is not the only formula or program that can be computed regarding love and this is the special power of computation. That it can run many programs, and even yet run many simulations for the same program. That it exists in a realm of probability and world generation.

Another way talk we can talk about computing the enigma of love is the manifold of worlds that this sentence/formula creates.

New Newsletter AND Musing about JS Frameworks

code, consciousness

Hey Blogosphere,

I am not sure why I am writing this blog post as an epistle but perhaps it has something to do with me launching a new newsletter. Newsletters are often written as epistles. Not sure why, perhaps because they are letters. In any case, I was inspired by Nitzan – he has started many successful newsletters. This is his latest – the future of agency.

Why a newsletter, I do blog (sporadically)? I have had newsletters in the past, and my companies have had newsletters? I think it is a good conversation starter, and a way to enter existing conversations.

Yesterday Nizan prompted us to think about our practices. And here is what I wrote. It is going to be the subject of the newsletter.

Globally, I am interested in understanding how the technology of computation affects our notions of the psyche, i.e., our inner life, and the mechanics of the psyche itself.

Locally, I am interested in how this manifests itself as both personal and collective actions in the world, and ways (ie projects/interventions) to highlight this manifestation.

Things I am not currently investigating, but appear relevant:  neuroscience, biology, behavioral psychology.

Things this may fall under: phenomenology, depth psychology, design, computer science, cognitive science, systems thinking.

The link is here:

I am trying a new service that I have read newsletters on in the past – tinyletter.

Immediately when I saw the #! I thought – they are using angular. I have not used angular in years, so this intuition may be totally off. Anyway they are not – they seem to be using a new to me framework called velocity. Velocity does seem rad, it is suited towards motion graphics (and the ever present rethinking of the dom).  And DOM/DOMLESS could be one perhaps the first topic of my new newsletter.

Prediction Vs Analysis with models.


I was listening to a podcast today and the host was talking about prediction vs analysis. I think I mentioned this a few days ago when I was talking about the market as an engine and not a camera. The market is something that analyzes the world it does not recreate the world.

So prediction vs analysis… When we create a model what are we trying to do? Are we trying to understand a phenomena? And to what end? Are we trying to understand something in order to predict something?

If we look at analysis, what is that really? In part, that is measurement. We are trying to measure a phenomena. Why? To coordinate perhaps, to plan something.

Only in the last century have we looked at the predictive value of science. That science is confirming theories that we can use to build things like a space ship that did not exist before.

This concept of prediction has interested me for a while, since my time on wall street. What I did was calculate risk, and risk is the probability that something will or will not happen (and if it does/not happen – how big of an impact will it have on other things).

A good analogy is perhaps from medicine. Treating infectious diseases is analytic work, you are sick, lets you analysis to discover what you have, Preventive medicine is more predictive: e.g., lets take these medications/diet etc because our models say you are at risk for some disease.

Clair (from a slack group I participate in) turned me on to this article about various professionals (writers, scientists, economists) who try and predict the future. One futurist said:

From the article (via Anne Lise Kjaer)

Archaeologists find artifacts from the past and try to connect the dots and tell a story about how the past might have been. We do the same thing as futurists; we use artifacts from the present and try to connect the dots into interesting narratives in the future.

This is much different than finding laws in nature or patterns in history. To extrapolate an imaginary future based on facts of today is somewhat wild.

Last year I think I participated in a talk about predictive tech. And this was somewhat informed by my prayer blockchain work. And this is further informed by my thinking about conscious computation. For example, what is it about computation that makes us future thinking/oriented? Is consciousness always building mental models to predict the future, or are these models to understand processes (or what are all the types of models that a mind creates)

Anyway I’ll repeat it here, in large part so I remember and can go back to it in the future:

Augury in the 21 century 
Since the caves of Lascaux, humans have attempted to predict and influence the future. (edit: That is if we think the cave paintings are Magic and not commemorative.) Today we have scenario planning and future studies that are supported by the methodology of simulation and empowered by computation.  In the past, there was a symbolic relationships between the world and the instruments of prediction e.g, bones in a certain formation meant rain was coming. Today prediction is a two step process, data collection, world building, and interpretation/selection. The bones and their environment (ie milieu) report data points that are reduced to quantitative values. These values are used to along with the perturbations of variables to construct a variety of worlds. We then pick the most likely of worlds as our prediction. [THIS last sentence would want to rework – it is not phenomenological – but I cant think of the world I want to use, I also feel like I might want to talk about simondon and his notion of the relationship between magic, aesthetics, science and ethics]What is the relationship between the simulations of today and the folk practices of divination, and what can we learn from an archaeology of prediction?

Answer to Job – CG Jung

book, consciousness, jung

I read a commentary on jungian psychology a few months ago that referenced the Answer to Job, Jung’s analysis of the biblical book of Job and then other theological issues such as the Virgin Mary, the holy spirit, prophetic visions and what not.

All my reading now is filtered through a particular subjective lens.  Perhaps all reading everywhere is done through this sort of lens.

There is the general discussion of the idea of God’s unconscious. How he is blind or unconscious to his omniscience. This is not super interesting to me. What is most interesting to me about the depth psychology that Jung explores is the opportunity of human ‘evolution’ by integrating possibilities that lay in the unconscious.

Lets get the banalities out of the way. God is unconscious, or god has an unconscious. He is not aware of his omniscience while he is focused on his omnipotence. Why make Job jump through these hoops – when God knows that Job will ‘pass’? Why is God duped by Satan (his creation or son)?  Ok – the unconscious.

There is also a discussion of the feminine principle/Sophia and the lack thereof in contemporary protestantism, as well as an analysis of visions in the Bible.

But, what resonated most with me is the discussion of the Son of Man, the Son of God, the Holy Spirit (Paraclete), what are these things.  First, I never understood what son of man, son of god meant. And here, I might have misinterpreted it again, but at least I have a touch stone, a definition, that resonates with me. Son of man, that is the next incarnation of man.  If we think of consciousness as something that can evolve, the son of man would be the next evolution of consciousness.

Is divine consciousness qualitatively different from human consciousness? Both consciousnesses are creations of human consciousness and of particular human consciousnesses. The discussion in the book of Job is a product of Jung’s consciousness.  And this blog post here is a product of my particular human consciousness. But let’s look at Book of Job. God’s consciousness is not different than human consciousness in that they both possess an unconscious.  However this is this Paraclete -the holy spirit.

Lets say consciousness is spirit: psychology is the logos of the spirit (psuches) Mind is nous – that is what they do over in cognitive science or neuroscience – noosology. Is the noosophere of Teilhard de Chardin mind or spirit?  But I digress.

Consciousness is spirit.  There is this qualitatively different thing, holy spirit, that when a son of man possesses it, it makes him God. This is the son of god. Then next incarnation of God.

There is a split between man and god, as split put into relief by the book of Job, Job is more just than God, Job is abiding by the laws that God has created but himself does not follow.  We could analyze this with regards to Agamben, the state of exception, and the position of the sovereign.

The creator of the rule is not subject to the rule. But I prefer Jung’s analysis, or my analysis of Jung’s perhaps, that this represents a schism in consciousness that must be reconciled in by a third way, or a dialect process – an evolution, a spiral. The amorality of god and the morality of man must create a new being partaking of each – the son of man and the son of god.

The son of god arises from partaking in the soul stuff of god (the paraclete). The son of man arises by man acting with more consciousness than god, or by exposing the unconscious of god. God does not come into contact with his unconscious through the talking cure, but through the works and deeds of his creation.These could be also called the product of his active imagining.  God’s creation is a massive active imagining.

We still have the split, the son of god and the son of man. How do we reconcile these things? How do we reconcile the false dichotomy of the holy spirit and the human spirit? What makes a spirit holy vs human? Is it mere otherness? There always be an otherness that the human must integrate into his own spirit that accounts for his continued evolution  – ie individuation. Is this just the dialectic restated?