Friday, January 28, 2011

The Present Will Be Documented

"Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication."

At the bitter edge of Prehistory we are left with the legacy of our ancestors that has come to be regarded as the Toxic Age. Before the Deep Infrastructure made Civilization possible and the gates brought about liberty as a very real thing and not just the buzzword of some tyrant being ironic or moronic, there was a time when Humanity was something only dreamed about and petty nations, states and kingdoms were scattered across the world like so many blood-encrusted gems carelessly cast upon the poisoned earth as though so much glittery litter. Lives were saved or lost on the basis of money, not merit or inherent value as a human being. Life was cheap to the rich and excruciatingly expensive to the poor, the sick or the elderly and vulnerable. To look back upon these times is to look back in shame upon the rampant ignorance, intolerance, hatred, fear and confusion that once ruled the one world our ancestors could never really share.

But that is the nature of Prehistory. Our records are by the very nature of things incomplete and inadequate. We only have fragments and a partial record that is woefully incomplete and hopelessly tangled with interpretations, opinions, and the accumulated impressions of all that have come afterwards and who have looked and had their say about what once was.

That it was a Toxic Age is by no means in any doubt.

That it serves as a collective landmark of what was, and what might have been, and what is right now...that is its true function. To lend us all some perspective. To give a context for how we got to where we are and why it matters and what we stand to lose should we abandon our collective Inheritance. In an age of endless self-determination, it would be all too easy to turn our collective backs upon the tragic past, to abandon our own humanity, but to do so must remain a choice left to the individual. An act of conscience as much as one of consciousness. Many go onwards, outwards, becoming other than human. Such is their legacy and their right--for what legitimate parent would deny their child the opportunity to grow up or to find themself and their unique place in the scheme of things?

The past is not something to forget, any more than a plant's roots should shrug off the fertile soil because it is composed of the remnants of those plants that preceded it. It is the rich matrix from which the present arises like a tender green shoot. It is something to be honored, even if it horrifies us, especially if it terrifies us--we can no longer afford the false luxury of ignorance.
"The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium - that is, of any extension of ourselves - result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology."
Marshall McLuhan
While some contrarian poets bemoaned the loss of ignorance as a loss of innocence, for the most part the transition to an Open Society built upon a history rooted in facts and quantifiable records divorced from emotionally colored accounts by unreliable witnesses, biased scholars or political revisionists has fostered a level of self awareness, introspection and authentic feedback that has reshaped every human institution, social convention and relationship in ways previously undreamed of or deemed impossible by those who lived in far more opaque, murky and confabulatory times.

The present is continually monitored and recorded and analyzed by anyone who asserts their responsibility as a student of history, humanity or culture. Privacy is a priviledge of a most personal sort and has clearly demarcated bounds that are observed by all members of Polite Society. Everything is recorded, stored and available for play-back to those who know how to access the appropriate codes, who gain the permissions of those involved, and who have a legitimate interest in those records. If someone has not turned over their personal life-records to the Public Domain, those records are off-limits unless one is mandated by appropriate authority, permitted by special charter, or acting on behalf of Civilization...which is no small thing in itself.

It is customary for one to compile some sort of summary or biographical statement every one hundred years, to serve as a capstone of sorts, a clarification, or even a rebuttal if so desired, for the centuries' worth of personal records that are then turned over to the Public Domain. Some individuals make elaborate speeches, throw extravagant parties or issue proclamations. Others might append a small cartoon, a cryptic glyph, a thumbprint or small koan or poem. It is an intensely personal matter and left entirely to the pesonal whims, wishes or desires of those directly involved.

The sheer wealth of ever-increasing information is stored within hyper-folded metamemory cores that are integrated into the very roots of the Deep Infrastructure. The primary nodes of this network are thought to form extropic engines of sorts, pouring forth vast amounts of so-called negentropy according to certain cults, clades and cybrist factions. Rumors abound that this is why the Amortals have withdrawn to their radically-discontinuous necrotats and other orbital sepulchre-structures or why so many of them have abandoned the lush worlds of the living for the dead moons of empty systems where they operate below the threshold of contemporary history. Many believe that they are too obsessed with the various pasts they strive to sort out and disentangle from one another in their isolated redoubts and closed tombs. A great deal of firsthand historical fiction has come into the Public Domain via the efforts of various Amortals and their attempts to recover something that no living being can quite grasp, let alone appreciate or fully understand.

The present is a known and measured, observed and structured reality, unlike the speculative and projective future or the muddled and malleable past. It is the bedrock of what is Known and the foundation for all the conventional aspects of Civilization. Everyone has their own memories of the past, their own unique trajectory into the future, it is the present that we all have in common.

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