Flat

For the first time this season, the beaver pond freezes over.  Transparent, fractally tessellated ice coats the water.

The finer approximation of flatness, the greater the surface area we specify, the rarer it becomes.

Sublimated water crystals have the greatest chance maybe.  The problem: only two dimensions make flat real, three end it.

Colder. The clarity of peri-freezing ice solidifies translucent, that impossible frictionlessness now gone.

A beaver swims under thickening ice.  Head bumping the underside, breathing the air pockets there, the thump thump, thump echoes.

Slice of Life With Photo

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This is reblogged from CK MacLeod’s (nee Zombie Contentions) where I was a contributor for a while writing under the unlikely nom de zombie “bob”.

Nature Preserve Pond
Nature Preserve Pond

Walking in the Nature Preserve yesterday, I didn’t see this.  The colors were there, and it was morning, but instead of clear light, steady rain alternated with downpours.  This picture suggests what I saw a few years ago.  I have seen nothing close to this again.

Binghamton University own the Preserve and the Biology Department uses it for a laboratory.  So what  I did see was a 40ish woman knee-deep in the pond, scooping up the water into a bus tub, with 15 or so young people, not dressed for the weather watching her.  She heaved it to the edge of the pond and all but yelled, “What do we see?”

Inaudible.  “Yes, water spiders!  Where did we see water spiders last week in the river?”

Inaudible. “Yes clinging to the rocks!  She then thrust her hands at head level and spread her finders as if she was about to grab onto the last rock.

The young people stood mute, perhaps flashing back to the life and death struggles they had witnessed only a week ago.

“Yes it’s so much easier for them here…they can just relax…near the pond edge the weeds make it harder for the fish to eat them.’

Amphibian Digitism

Salamander
Amphibian Digitism (Click pic to enlarge)

the object has a similar interiority and a different physicality, and this I call animism….

the object is devoid of interiority but possesses a similar kind of physicality, and this I call naturalism.

Phillipe Descola – Beyond Nature and Culture

If I describe my first shamanic journey on my own behalf, not Coleen’s journeying for me, mediating an entourage of power animals and beings, not her extractions of misplaced energies, not her soul retrieval journeys, but my own journey, not with the powerful bear, or the gregarious wolf or the insightful owl, but with beings I won’t name and with salamander then there’s only this:

Salamander vibrates between animism and naturalism and so even before the Manhattan Project, before digital computers, salamander was and is digital.

Salamander collapses subject and object, figure and ground, living not just in the ground and the water but of ground and water like pouring water into water.

The object has a similar interiority and a similar physicality and this I call digitism.

Becoming/Unbecoming

In Digitism Part 1 (?), I quoted from Beyond Nature and Culture – Philippe Descola.   In these quotes he described what he posited as the four possible ontologies.  He defined ontologies as ” sociocosmic forms of aggregation and conceptions of self and non-self.”

Figure and ground is the basis for perception to distinguish this from that.  I think ground is a  more complicated phenonomen than simply being the undifferentiated backdrop to thingness.  The perception of ground contains a set of assumptions and guesses.  For instance a frog assumes that everything not moving is neither food nor  threat.  Everything that does not move is the backdrop allowing things (foods or threats) to manifest.

Humans require a more complicated backdrop – “sociocosmic forms of aggregation and conceptions of self and non-self.”

Descola’s intent is to distinguish how the experience of interiority aggregates portions of the physical world into the experience of self, leaving the rest as non-self.

Yet the language is also evocative of Buddhist ideas of Non-Self as a mark of existence.  So despite the experience of a Self as not only the referent point for perception, but as  truly existent, self-sufficient essence, its nature is in fact Non-Self.

Training in not only the idea , but the experience of this as well, leads to the recognition of the non-duality of subject and object – Space is Seen.

So meet Red Bob #2 – part of my own ongoing training in non-duality.

Red Bob #2(mask - Atomic Geograhy) (photo - Stephen Appel) Becoming/Unbecoming
Red Bob #2
(mask – Atomic Geography) (photo – Stephen Appel)
Becoming/Unbecoming

Drone Strikes in the Uncanny Vallyey – Part 3

Part 2 asserts that from  the Uncanny Valley’s forest floor, the drone seems both an uncanny robot and a living nonhuman species.  Of course neither is true.

The drone is a remote appendage of a cyborg. The parts of this entity includes a human at a control panel and all the technological infrastructure the drone needs to complete its mission. Distributed across the world, it is a functional human/machine hybrid, just as a human immersed in an electronic device, or in union with a pacemaker is.

Looking down at the Valley’s forest floor for a moment, perhaps distracted by a sound, or just overwhelmed by the vigilance of looking at the sky, I see this:

atomic angel

Destroying Angels (a group of closely related Amanita species around the world) are among the most deadly mushrooms there are.  Humans eating the various species of Destroying Angel (or the closely related the Death Cap) result in up to 95% of mushroom deaths.

These visible mushrooms though are only a projectile of the underground organism, the mycelium.  This part of a fungus can be huge.  Depending on the criteria one uses, a fungus in Oregon is the largest living organism on earth.

Additionally, the fungus lives in symbiosis with the surrounding trees, fungus penetrating into tree roots cells, becoming a functional entity, becoming one thing, becoming a non-human/non-machine cyborg.

Standing on the forest floor of the Uncanny Valley, the potential of death hovers above me and stands as witness at my feet.

Copies Without Originals

But these excursions into communications sciences and biology have been at a rarefied level; there is a mundane, largely economic reality to support my claim that these sciences and technologies indicate fundamental transformations in the structure of the world for us. Communications technologies depend on electronics. Modern states, multinational corporations, military power, welfare state apparatuses, satellite systems, political processes, fabrication of our imaginations, labour-control systems, medical constructions of our bodies, commercial pornography, the international division of labour, and religious evangelism depend intimately upon electronics. Micro-electronics is the technical basis of simulacra; that is, of copies without originals.

Donna Haraway “A Cyborg Manifesto

That phrase “copies without originals” has wound in and out of  my thoughts for months, counterpoint to an increasing awareness of “authenticity” as a pervasive anxiety of our culture,  digital culture, that is not just on-line, but the whole apparatus of constructed social architecture that now presents itself as given.

The digital is now part not only of human culture, transforming it into cyborg culture, but also a part of the ecology of the earth, just as the movement of air in wind, or water in currents is.  The movement of digital information is as well, transforming the earth’s ecology into a cyborg ecology, the earth era of the Cyborgocene.

So “copies without originals”, the digitized wind, the digitized ocean currents, the digitized geologic flow of rock, the digitized cyborg experience, the same as the undigitized, but not the same, because the cyborg’s measurement of the thatness of say a tree produces a simulacra of interiority residing not only in firing neurons, but also in microelectronics, the two together in an awareness, dependent on each other, but unaware of each, like the conscious and sub-conscious, except for those moments, surreal and uncanny, that leave us gasping for something we can label as reality.

From One to Another

As the forest canopy approaches completion, Jack in the Pulpits erupt to full size.  A few are just ripe, but most are a visibly transducent green that the canopy itself manages to copy only for a few days.

Embedded on the spadix (the Jack), thousands of tiny flowers begin to bloom as the spathe (the Pulpit) develops its purple and white striping.   Slightly foetid, the plant attracts mosquitos and gnats. As they crawl down the inside of the tube, they brush against the flowers, pollinating them.  Continuing down past them, looking for animal flesh, the darkness and shape of the spathe disorient them.  Most of the insects eventually find their way out, perhaps in a slight insect daze, but some never do, and die inside.

What could be more Cyborg like?

Plant and insect united briefly in function operating independently of any intention, one part incapable of intention, the other full of an intention that is irrelevant to the result except for the force of its delusion.

What could be less Cyborg like?

This is the ground the Cyborg contests, the idea of Nature, apart from Humanity, the idea of intention and agency being the same, that the unintentional is the same as that without agency.