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Apr
2nd
Sat
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Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are the product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise.
James Surowiecki, American journalist, The Wisdom of Crowds, Doubleday, 2004.
Mar
4th
Fri
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I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.
Kurt Vonnegut, writer
Feb
28th
Mon
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Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.
Thomas Henry Huxley, English biologist (1825-1895)
Feb
27th
Sun
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He had more books than I’ve ever seen in all my life - two libraries, two rooms loaded from floor to ceiling around all four walls and such books as the apocryphal something-or-other in ten volumes. He played Verdi Operas and pantomimed them in his pajamas with a great rip down the back. He didn’t give a damn about anything. He is a great scholar who goes reeling down the New York waterfront with original seventeenth-century musical manuscripts under his arm, shouting. He crawls like a big spider through the streets. His excitement blew out of his eyes in stabs of fiendish light. He rolled his neck in spastic ecstasy. He lisped, he writhed, he flopped, he moaned, he howled, he fell back in despair. He could hardly get a word out, he was so excited with life.
Jack Keroauc, On The Road, Viking Press, 1957, Chapter 4
Feb
19th
Sat
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Vincitore è l’uomo che non ha rinunciato ai propri sogni.
Feb
13th
Sun
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The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
Albert Camus, Algerian-French author, journalist, and philosopher (1913-1960)
Feb
4th
Fri
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Synesius, you don’t question what you believe, or cannot. I must.
Hypatia, quote from Agora movie 2010
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That Man is the product of causes that had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins — all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.
Jan
27th
Thu
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The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is apt to spread discontent among those who are.
H.L. Mencken, American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, acerbic critic of American life and culture (1880-1956)
Jan
26th
Wed
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The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity.
Carlos Castaneda, Peruvian-born American anthropologist and author (1925-1998)
Jan
9th
Sun
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Timothy Leary on cybernetics and a new global culture

M. C. Escher, Peeled faces

Cyber" means "pilot."

A “cyberperson" is one who pilots his/her own life. By definition, the cyberperson is fascinated by navigational information - especially maps, charts, labels, guides, manuals that help pilot one through life. The cyberperson continually searches for theories, models, paradigms, metaphors, images, icons that help chart and define the realities that we inhabit.

Cybertech" refers to the tools, appliances, and methodologies of knowing and communicating. Linguistics. Philosophy. Semantics. Semiotics. Practical epistemologies. The ontologies of daily life. Words, icons, pencils, printing presses, screens, keyboards, computers, disks.

Cyberpolitics" introduces the Foucault notions of the use of language and linguistic-tech by the ruling classes in feudal and industrial societies to control children, the uneducated, and the under classes. The words “governor” or “steersman” or “G-man” are used to describe those who manipulate words and communication devices in order to control, to bolster authority-feudal, management, government-and to discourage innovative thought and free exchange. (…)

Cyberpunks use all available data-input to think for themselves. (…) The classical Olde Westworld model for the cyberpunk is Prometheus, a technological genius who “stole” fire from the Gods and gave it to humanity. Prometheus also taught his gene pool many useful arts and sciences. (…)

The cyberpunk person, the pilot who thinks clearly and creatively, using quantum-electronic appliances and brain know-how, is the newest, updated, top-of-the-line model of the 21st Century: Homo sapiens sapiens cyberneticus. (p. 62-64.) (…)

The term “cybernetics" comes from the Greek word kubernetes, “pilot”. The Hellenic origin of this word is important in that it reflects the Socratic-Platonic traditions of independence and individual self-reliance which, we are told, derived from geography. The proud little Greek city-states were perched on peninsular fingers wiggling down into the fertile Mediterranean Sea, protected by mountains from the land-mass armies of Asia.

Mariners of those ancient days had to be bold and resourceful. Sailing the seven seas without maps or navigational equipment, they were forced to develop independence of thought. The self-reliance that these Hellenic pilots developed in their voyages probably carried over to the democratic, inquiring, questioning nature of their land life.

The Athenian cyberpunks, the pilots, made their own navigational decisions. (p. 64.) (…)

Cyber: The Greek word kubernetes, when translated to Latin, comes out as gubernetes. This basic verb gubernare means to control the actions or behavior, to direct, to exercise sovereign authority, to regulate, to keep under, to restrain, to steer. This Roman concept is obviously very different from the Hellenic notion of “pilot” (making their own navigational decisions) (…) the meaning of “Cyber” has been corrupted. The Greek word “pilot” becomes “governor” or “director”; the term “to steer” becomes “to control”. The terms “cybernetic person” or “cybernaut” return us to the original meaning of “pilot” and puts the self-reliant person back in the loop. (p. 66.) (…)

These words (and the more pop term “cyberpunk”) refer to the personalization (and thus the popularization) of knowledge-information technology, to innovative thinking on the part of the individual.

According to McLuhan and Foucault, if you change the language, you change the society. Following their lead, we suggest that the therm “cybernetic person, cybernaut” may describe a new species model of human being and a new social order. (p. 67.) (…)

The postpolitical information society, which we are now developing, does not operate on the basis of obedience and conformity to dogma. It is based on individual thinking, scientific know-how, quick exchange of facts around feedback networks, high-tech ingenuity, and practical, front-line creativity. The society of the future no longer grudgingly tolerates a few open-minded innovators. The cybernetic society is totally dependent on a large pool of such people, communicating at light speed with each other across state lines and national boundaries.

Electrified thoughts invite fast feedback, creating new global societies that require a higher level of electronic know-how, psychological sophistication, and open-minded intelligence.


This cybercommunication process is accelerating so rapidly that to compete on the world information market of the 21st Century, nations, companies, even families must be composed of change-oriented, innovative individuals who are adepts in communicating via the new cyberelectronic technologies.

The new breeds are simply much smarter than the old guard. They inhale new information the way they breathe oxygen. They stimulate each other to continually upgrade and reformat their minds. People who use cybertechnology to make fast decisions on their jobs are not going to go home and passively let aging, closed-minded white, male politicians make decidions about their lives.

The emergence of this new open-minded caste in different countries around the world is the central historical issue of the last forty years.
(p. 73-75.)

(…) The social and political implications of this democratization of the screen are enormous. In the past to local geography or occasional visits. Now you can play electronic tennis with a pro in Tokyo, interact with classroom in Paris, cyberflirt with cute guys in any four cities of your choice. A global fast-feedback language of icons and memes, facilitated by instant translation devices, will smoothly eliminate the barriers of language that have been responsible for most of the war and conflict of the last centuries. (p. 76.) (…)

Most young people in the liberated lands want to depoliticize, demilitarize, decentralize, secularize, and globalize.

The new breed is jumping the gene pools, forming postindustrial, global meme-pools. They are the informates. From their earliest years, most of their defining memes have come flashing at light speed across borders in digital-electronic form, light signals received by screens and radios and record players. Their habitat is the electron-sphere, the environment of digital signals that is called the info-world. The global village.

The are the first generation of our species to discover and explore Cyberia. The are migrating not to a new place, but to a wide-open new time. The new breed will fashion, conceive, and design the realities they inhabit.
(p.77.) (…)

The Information age (1950-2010)

In the information age, evolution is defined in terms of brain power.

- The ability to operate the brain: activate, boot up, turn on, access neurochannels.
- The ability to reformat and re-edit mind-files.
- The ability to communicate in the multimedia mode; to invent audiographic dictionaries and audiographic grammars. (…)

The 21st Century will witness a new global culture, peopled by new breeds who honour human individuality, human complexity, and human potential, enlightened immortals who communicate at light speed and design the technologies for their scientific re-animation. (p. 80-82.) (…)

Our survival asset is not hive inteliigence, as in the social insects, but individual intelligence. Our species is classified as Homo sapiens sapiens. Victorian scholars apparently decided that we are the creatures who “think about thinking.” Our growth as a species centers on our ability to think and communicate. Predictions about our future would focus on improvements in the way we think.

Our young, rookie species has recently passed through several stages of intelligence:

1. Tribal: For at least 22,000 years (approximately 25,000 to 3000 B.C.) the technologies for sapient thinking-communicating were those of a five-year-old child: bodily, i.e., oral-gestural.

2. Feudal: During an exciting period of approximately 3, 350 years (3000 B.C. to A.D. 350) humans living north of the 35th-parallel latitute developed organized feudal-agricultural societies. The technologies for thinking-communicating were hand-tooled statues, temples, monuments. Their philosophy was enforced by emperors, caliphs, and kings.

3. It took approximately 1,250 years (A.D. 350 to 1600) to coopt the feudal kings and to establish the mechanical assembly-line managerial society. In this age, the technologies of thought-communication were mechanical printing presses, type-writers, telephones, produced by efficient workers in highly organized factories, run by centralized bureaucracies. (…)
By now (…) we have migrated from the “real worlds” of voice, hand, machine into the digitized info-worlds variously called hyperspace, cyberspace, or digital physics.

This migration across the screen into the digital info-world marks the first phase of the postindustrial society. (…)
In twenty years we will spend seven hours a day actively navigating, exploring, colonizing, exploiting the oceans and continents of digital data. Interscreening - creating mutual digitalrealities - will be the most popular and growthful form of human communication. (p. 83.) (…)

The level of intelligence has been tremendously increased, because people are thinking and communicating in terms of screens, and not in lettered books. Much of the real action is taking place in what is called cyberspace. People have learned how to boot up, activate, and transmit their brains.

Essentially, there’s a universe inside your brain. The number of connections possible inside your brain is limitless. And as people have learned to have more managerial and direct creative access to their brains, they have also developed matrices or networks of people that communicate electronically. There are direct brain/computer link-ups. You can just jack yourself in and pilot your brain around in cyberspace-electronic space.”
(p. 248.)
Jan
4th
Tue
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" "[Doubting the great Descartes] was a reaction I learned from my father: Have no respect whatsoever for authority; forget who said it and instead look what he starts with, where he ends up, and ask yourself, "Is it reasonable?" "
Dec
29th
Wed
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Albert Einstein on Individualism

“A man’s value to the community depends primarily on how far his feelings, thoughts, and actions are directed towards promoting the good of his fellows. We call him good or bad according to how he stands in this matter. It looks at first sight as if our estimate of a man depended entirely on his social qualities.

And yet such an attitude would be wrong. It is clear that all the valuable things, material, spiritual, and moral, which we receive from society can be traced back through countless generations to certain creative individuals. The use of fire, the cultivation of edible plants, the steam engine — each was discovered by one man.

Only the individual can think, and thereby create new values for society — nay, even set up new moral standards to which the life of the community conforms. Without creative, independently thinking and judging personalities the upward development of society is as unthinkable as the development of the individual personality without the nourishing soil of the community.

The health of society thus depends quite as much on the independence of the individuals composing it as on their close political cohesion.” “
Albert Einstein, German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, Nobel Prize laureate, (1879-1955), The World As I See It (1949)
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Albert Einstein on religion and skeptical attitude

“Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true. The consequence was a positively fanatic orgy of freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression. Mistrust of every kind of authority grew out of this experience, a skeptical attitude toward the convictions that were alive in any specific social environment — an attitude that has never again left me, even though, later on, it has been tempered by a better insight into the causal connections." "
Albert Einstein, Autobiographical Notes (1979) Edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp