Not Yet

fri17feb2006—07w048d13%— 12h05m00s—0utc
In which a philosophical quote provides the sparkle for some more talking on philosophical things like the self and civilization.
It is a time when, even if nets were to guide all consciousness that had been converted to photons and electrons towards coalescing, standalone individuals have not yet been converted into data to the extent that they can form unique components of a larger complex.

That’s the chilling intro to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Honestly, when I first read it I thought it was mere Engrish, but now that I’ve come to terms with its form (I’m even starting to like it), I can’t get its content out of my head. It’s just so powerful.

It makes you think of civilization as one long gradient towards ever larger complexes. A very interesting lens with which to revisit many important events and inventions: family, clans, money, speaking, writing, printing, law, contracts, corporations, science, the net, IP, blogs, wiki, mailing lists, email, IM, whatnot.

And it reminds me a lot of a favorite essay of mine — one I stumbled across a few years ago in wonderful serendipity: Erosion of the Essential Self. In it, it is argued that our sense of self is being made increasingly obsolete by technology, and that this may not necessarily be a bad thing. One of the interesting points it makes is that our sense of self itself is probably a byproduct of written culture: “In ongoing, face-to-face conversation, we are little concerned with the mind behind the words; meaning is shaped before us in the course of the interchange. However, with the emergence of printed text, important questions were created about the ’author’s meaning.’” It’s one of those essays that simply becomes a part of you afterwards, something like this:

I was amazed and impressed by the brilliance of GEB when I first read it, but it didn’t change my life. However over the years I kept finding myself returning to its insights, and each time I would arrive at them at a deeper level. Now I find them my own thoughts, and I realize I now see the world through a similar lens.
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