Tag Archives: culture

The Media’s Role Vs. Our Role

The Media’s Role:

Generally speaking, it’s the media’s job to get attention and sell access. It’s their business model. There are a few authentic people in the industry but journalism is by and large a pious fraud narrative put forward to cover the otherwise parasitic and predatory industry. They manufacture the topics of discussion by hyping various fears and twisting words. This is followed by a self-propagating circle of repetition to reinforce a certain narrative. The industry erodes social integrity and the capacity for individual sensemaking for the sake of its existence, which is based on control.

The “profession” is practiced by dividing people into camps and selling access to those “market segments”. There is an incestuous relationship between the media, politics, and industry. The latter two depend on the media to advertise their “products”. The media lavish support on, and-or destroys, persons, public personas, or companies based on the goal of servicing or growing the power and influence. Media companies are cultural butchers and the public is the meat source.

Our Role:

Our job is to take responsibility for what we support and reject so that it shapes what is valuable to put in front of us. It’s us, the third estate (the common people) that have both the power and responsibility, even if we give it away to the fourth estate. (the press) We need to treat the information for what it is; commercial, which is the science of getting people to think and behave in specific ways – also known as manufacturing consent.

We are far better off as a community cultivating abundance by having each other’s backs nourishing and protecting each other’s full potential. This is not what the institutions of media, politics, and industry feed on. The point is that we have to do it ourselves. If the commitment to each other does not flow from the bottom up, it will never come from the top down. The roots feed the fruit.

We’re responsible for the values we cultivate through our actions. Our collective actions shape what we experience as a society. We all swim in the same pond. Whether or not we are kind in heavy traffic or look out for the people on our streets is as important as whether or not we take a leadership role as a means to serve ourselves or as a responsibility to serve the common good. A mutual stake in each other’s success is a recipe for a better world as far as I can tell. Parasitic and predatory behaviors are a recipe for self-authored poverty and suffering.

In this context, how we respond to an industry attempting to invite us to dinner as the meal and not as a guest is important. I think disinviting ourselves from the media’s table as much as possible is better than becoming part of the ecosystem by applying all our energy to pushing back against parasitic and predatory agenda pushers. While some attention must be paid not to be caught in parasite’s and predator’s traps, we also have to be careful not to fall into the trap of devoting all our energy to push back. It depletes the energy we need to do something better. Do something better on whatever scale is possible. That’s what changes the world.

I could be missing something(s)

Bacteria, Like All Organisms, Form Social Networks

Interestingly, bacterial communities’ (called biofilms) and the communication networks that coordinate their actions as a group body (called quorum sensing) have a human social analog. The form and function we know of as human sociality have roots deep within the relationship economy of biology itself. The deeper we dig, the more it appears that what we experience as life is built on a nested architecture of self-similar communication networks.

Bacterial communication and group behavior

“…The past decade has seen the emergence of a new field in basic microbiology… Scientists had long held the view that bacterial cells behaved as self-sufficient individuals, unable to organize themselves into groups or communicate… The idea that bacteria could function as groups and that individuals within the group could respond to the group as a whole seemed almost ludicrous… [It is] now… generally accepted that bacteria produce, and respond as groups… This phenomenon has become known as quorum sensing.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC228476/

The Biological Relationship Economy: An Overview

Looking at biological systems as collections of organisms that work together is a far more useful and revealing lens than is assuming organisms are defined by nucleic DNA and the epigenetic relationships that orbit that core. For instance, our microbiome is a collection of organisms that live in and on us. They are a necessary part of what we need to function. Some of these specialize in acting as part of an immune response, destroying or keeping in check pathogens that might disrupt the community of relationships we depend on. With this larger “biological relationship economy” lens in mind, we can see that viral and bacterial organisms can act as part of our metabolism process, bringing nourishment, and as part of an immune response.

If this wider relationship economy lens is unpacked further, we can see that some forms of cancer may be the result of another collection of organisms that is attempting to defend its integrity. To illustrate, certain strains of the flu are caused by a virus that naturally grows in duck’s throats and is part of their microbiome. This virus attacks us by way of those who butcher ducks getting infected. This may be a type of cross-species immune response where the bacteria is attempting to act as a defender of the biological ecosystem system that it is part of.

Ecosystems can be thought of as biological bodies that extend beyond species and include groups of species and the environment they interact with. There are plenty of these cross-species integrated systems that are collectively aligned around the principle of both establishing mutual coherent integrity and the defense of that integrity by various means.
This “nourish and or defend coherence in the context of the environment” behavioral economy is the axiom on which every coherent organism within and entire ecosystems are based. The behavioral tax that must be paid toward defense is part of the process of coherent biological systems and happens on many levels. When humans are at the receiving end of defensive acts we experience it as a disease.

The array of behaviors in cancer, when taken as a whole, looks like something is deliberately trying to destroy our biological systems in a number of ways with a certain “understanding” or behavioral inclinations aimed at how to make that destruction happen. This principle is no different than when our natural killer cells, which are part of our native immune system, seek out harmful cells in our body and destroy them.

In other words; cancer may be due to our biological system being perceived as a pathogen in relation to another biological system – a collection of organisms that forms a collective body of nourishment and defense – that has sent out destructive agents the same way we produce various defensive immune response agents. Perhaps these defense vectors are in the form of transposons or viral packets, or bacteria suited with certain mechanisms, etc. which turn our native systems against themselves in order to protect the integrity of the system in which those defensive vectors (organisms, viruses, etc.) natively participate.

There are many kinds of cancer. Some may be a result of reversion theory, where our cells are thought to revert to unicellular forms when under prolonged attack but some other forms take on a far more sinister strategic approach to disrupting the systems we depend on for coherence that it makes me wonder if something is recognizing us as a pathogen and taking active defensive action to mitigate that destructive agency.

Of course, this is all speculation. I do know that biological systems are aligned around two foundational strategies, one, to establish coherence, and two, to defend that integrity against antagonists. If we were not blinded by looking at individual organisms and viral elements as separate biological entities, rather than parts of an integrated ecological network of interconnected organisms and environments that are collectively parts of the same body, we would be able to see the sources of disease. In other words, we may be the cause of our own disease because we fail to recognize how to play mutualistically in the broader social biological community.

Here’s an example of interspecies transmission of destructive agents that may be constructive in another biological relationship system context:

https://phys.org/news/2017-01-secret-weapon-insect-transmitted-viruses-exposed.html

History Repeats Itself

After the arrival of the printing press on the human cultural scene, ideas were much less able to be contained and controlled by what was, in effect, a priest class of idea manufacturers. Before this technology, ideas were printed as social currency from the central authority that consisted of the government and church. This set of ideas was consumed as the map of reality by the population at large. With the printing press ideas became far more distributed and less contained by the mandates and hegemony of a robust social institutional base. The institutions had a stranglehold on the narrative map with which the culture navigated and therefore largely defined the culture were now under threat.

A whole new economy of influencers entered the scene, unleashed by the technology. Turmoil followed as the former centers of influence saw their ecological niche threatened and fought to retain their relevancy. Enlightenment ideas such as deism, liberalism, toleration, and scientific progress eroded the supremacy of these former undisputed champions of culture. These new narratives were harshly crushed with physical and ideological warfare because they threatened the now weakened institutions.


After the printing press, it took some time to get the reins back from the effects that “ideas in the wild” had. A time of chaos ensued until a new equilibrium was forged – until these new ideas developed into cultural institutions themselves – until they became well entrenched in the culture with formal institutions of their own – complete with a priest class of “experts” and the attending flocks of faithful followers along with those who get caught in the currents of influence produced by whatever ideological coin of the realm happens to be popular at the time – the “zeitgeist du jour” The organs of influence that emerged in this new climate fitfully found a place of equilibrium among the traditional forces once the boundaries of influence were sufficiently defined. Books, newspapers and later, radio and television were the new centers of power that coexisted with government and church. They now controlled the narrative and defined the culture.

This newfound expansion of the narrative territory didn’t mean that society transformed into a place of justice or any other high virtue. In fact; exploitation, or what could be called social farming (where a small group that holds control of the narrative entices larger groups to act in unison under the banner of a set of ideas that serves the interests of that small group) reemerged after some time. The former concentrated seats of power were disrupted for a time but not the principles on which the human social economy operates. Grifters and those who ride on waves of authority rather than the much harder work of authentic contribution to the human condition dressed up in lofty ideas like freedom and justice while they reestablished the reins of influence. Once again the influence was leveraged to parasitic and predatory effect on the many to serve the few. In other words, the new boss was the same as the old boss.

This same period of chaos and fight for control of the narrative is happening again with the advent of the internet. Like the printing press, this technology unlocked the ability for one person to reach thousands and millions with a keyboard and a camera. This has once again disrupted the institutional layer of society – the few that control the narrative for the many. The same painful and bloody birthing process that happened in the wake of the printing press is once again unfolding. I suspect that a new equilibrium will form over time. I’m not sure we have the maturity as a species just yet to redefine the principles on which our new social contracts will operate. Will we generate the emergent fruits that result from a commitment to the realization of each other’s full potential, or will we reestablish the poverty inducing climate produced by the image so well defined in George Orwell’s book Animal farm, where the creatures used the ideas of freedom and equality to reestablish exactly what they claimed to be fighting against?


Freedom and justice cannot be expected to flow from untended soil, it has to be continuously and carefully cultivated by what we do for each other, not by what we can get from each other. I hope we can develop the insight and discipline to choose the former because the latter is a recipe to author our continued poverty.

Does Nature Express Purpose?

Is there a purpose written into the way our biological structures are formed? If we use complex biological organisms such as ourselves as a model, we see proteins, fluids, cells, organs, and various signaling and behavior systems are all organized around a central theme: The behavioral aim among all the “members” of our body is oriented toward providing some nourishing and-or defense value to the community each member is both a part of and depends on. This mutual exchange of value throughout the community is the engine that adapts to remain coherent in the context of the variables of the environment.

At the center of the networked relationship economy is a certain vital relationship core. Relationships that must be present for the system to remain coherent. Without a certain set of vital organs relating to each other under the shared banner of nourishment and protection such as our heart or lungs, we could not function. Extending outward from this central relationship core are rings of contributory relationships that offer adaptive value but are not necessarily vital. The theme of this extended relational network is based on the same currency of adaptive value in the context of the environment.

This principle of relational bonding by way of mutual contributory value is what defines us as individuals and as functional cohesive social groups. The same principle is expressed through the ecosystem our species is part of, where the cooperative bonds aimed at nourishing and defending the vital fruits that sustain the community must be present in sufficient measure for the community to exist and grow to its mature potential.

Nature is not ambiguous about this message. Threaded throughout any healthy dynamic adaptive relationship system are intricate patterns of mutually nourishing and protective feedback loops that are tuned to function in equilibrium with the environment. Bottom line; we must ultimately cultivate the fruit that feeds us to remain coherent and develop to our full potential.

We see this mutualistic relationship network model expressed in many forms. The ants in this video relate to the acacia tree under the same principle as the vital organs in our body. This expression of the sustainable exchange of adaptive value offers us a useful model for the way we can realize the full measure of opportunity we have to cultivate our greatest realization of potential here on this common ground of Earth we share.

What is the social cost of losing our religion?

If we assume that the story-myth-religious ideas and rituals is a natural adaptation, one that enabled us to bond together as groups, making survival more likely; what, if any, is the cost of today’s more secular social-cultural systems? Our myths served many roles; as explanations of natural events, as justification of actions, as records of the past and projections of the future, as a means of healing, renewal, hope and inspiration, as a proto science – as a means of crafting the image of control – the notion that “if we do this, then this predictable outcome will take place”.

With the advent of science and civics (arguably secular religion) taking a more prominent role, the accuracy and historicity of the stories we once unquestioningly embraced as fact have been put to the test. This shift in our focus from “revealed” knowledge to verified, seems to have affected our social equilibrium in ways many of us do not fully understand.

Stories are still important factors in shaping our experience but their importance may have been crowded out of our direct awareness with scientific descriptions of process. Science is a reliable tool but we may have lost our story (or buried it) and that is not without consequence. Nietzsche made a profound point when he said; “I fear we are not getting rid of God because we still believe in grammar.” We still operate by story even if those stories are not in focus anymore. Having them underground can make leave us vulnerable in certain critical ways.

If I understand him correctly, Jordan Peterson attributes our shifted focus toward civic religions – the fight over forms of government, for instance, as part of the fallout of this loss of equilibrium. We still look for saviors, and we still praise and defend as well as crucify them. We also still develop puritanical movements that destroy the integrity of systems that nonetheless support us. We do not recognize our voice in shaping our shared experience through story. This may be a tragic mistake.

Have we mistakenly projected the role of savior onto science as a culture, losing sight of the importance that our experience is also defined by our shared story? Has the dramatic shift in our awareness over the past few hundred years put us in a place where we need to find a new equilibrium? What would a new shared story look like? What would we need to do to nourish its adoption to fruition as a means of articulating the shared values that could bind us together and help move us together into the future?

Our Place as a Species – Where We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We’re Going

This is a take on our current place as a species – where we are, how we got here, and what our future might look like depending on how we negotiate our current situation:

We humans experience things that are geographically near to us differently than if the same incidents happen farther away. We are likely to connect with more emotional intensity to a starving hurt child on our doorstep than we would to tens of thousands suffering half a world away. Our geographic prejudice is understandable considering our biology has been optimized to function in the context of a local tribe. Our senses, including our mental processing faculties, are wired to respond to what we perceive as close to us – what parades in front of and stimulates multiple senses gets more emphasis than stimuli that affect only one or two senses. If we connect to a topic using abstractions, the effects on us are much less than if all our senses are engaged.

The necessity of survival for most of our past was heavily dependent on acting in service of the survival necessities of our local tribe. Without the benefit of the group against the elements, we would almost certainly perish. Because of the residual effects of rejection from the group, which almost certainly meant death for most of our past, to this day we tend to echo these long term embodied memories etched deeply into our biology. For instance; we fear public speaking more than death on average. Our developmental environment as a species shaped the emphasis our senses have, and by extension, the way we process the world – but the world has changed faster than our senses. This unequal progress has caused an out of sync relationship between our senses and the environment we now find ourselves in.

The senses that served us in the local tribe environment make us less equipped and more vulnerable to navigate the necessities of today’s world. As a species, we now have a technology lever that is so powerful we impact the whole Earth. Like a sailor that must get their “sea legs” to be able to walk steadily on a swaying ship, as a species we need to shift our emphasis to the necessities of existing in what is now a global tribe. Our common ground used to be the village, and in a sense it still is, but we now have an additional layer of necessity to contend with the whole Earth.

We were once more defined by the environment but we now have more capacity to also define it. When a child reaches the age of about two-and-a-half, the primary purpose of sleep changes from brain-building to brain maintenance and repair. This same type of developmental transition occurs on many scales. We are at the threshold of this kind of transition as a species. The same way there is a difference in skill sets between constructing a building and maintaining and using it; where scaffolding and tradesmen are replaced by occupants and caretakers, we need to make this transition, yet we are still hungover from the biological momentum of our heritage. Our future increasingly depends on stretching ourselves to fulfill the newly defined necessities of protecting and maintaining our new common ground, which no longer a patch of ground and perhaps a local body of water, it is the whole Earth.

As the size of our “tribes” grew from local bands that could be counted in the tens or hundreds to thousands, then millions and is now arguably the collective billions that inhabit the world, we have undergone a bewildering birthing process. In a comparatively short time (as biological development at a species level goes) the localized tribal wombs that once nourished small pockets of us have now become connected. We are now a collective body. We saturated the former small tribe womb and it can no longer contain us.

Because of our growth, we have been expelled from our former womb into a new, larger, more connected environment that demands different necessities of being. Like a newborn infant, we have to learn all the new skills to function effectively in this new dramatically expanded environment. Where we once had room to survive and grow using a greater emphasis on domination and exploitation, we now must do the harder task of cultivation and curation. We cannot look for more things to take, we must focus on strengthening the things that sustain us – things that return more value than they cost. This is not only where our opportunity exists, it is a necessary action to carry us forward.

We could once work cross purposes, competing against each other but our survival and thriving are now dependent more on the necessity to forge relationships like the organs in our body, nourishing and defending each other. This paradigm shift is because we have now saturated the environment. What got us here will not take us forward since we now swim in the same pond. Cultivating the environment we depend on to produce the necessary fruits of nourishment and as well as cultivating each other to our fullest potential is more necessary. We need specific mindsets and expertise to effectively navigate our more developed state of being. As has always been the case, we must either adapt to this new environmental reality or we will be either violently diminished back to the reduced carrying capacity of an environment or selected out for extinction.

If this analysis is correct:

What would you say we need to do differently on a personal and community scale?

Do you consider yourself a contributor to what will move us forward as a species?

What can we do better as individuals and as groups to help us get our “sea legs” to successfully navigate the necessities of current developmental place as a species?

Our Social Past and Future

Were All In This Together

 

We are biological- social creatures far more so than we are logical. Like fish that school, we humans (generally speaking) are wired to nest ourselves in the context of a group, either as a well protected internal organ, or as the skin which relates to the outside world, but acts to nourish and-or defend the coherency of the group. Our biological wiring is so dedicated to this grouping task that our perception faculties are heavily biased toward what is useful over what is accurate. Most of us will sacrifice accuracy on the alter of belonging to a group every day of the week without even thinking about or recognizing it for what it is.

If we unpack the behavioral implications of our inborn social traits at a group level, we see the ritual displays we make to demonstrate our affinity to a group need somewhere to go and somewhere to grow. We seek some identification of “group self” as well as some contrasting social ground to define our group self from group other. As a result, many of us search for the boundary between “self” and “other”, probing the social landscape and attempt to “eat” the “other” as food with our superior ideas.

Never mind the ideas we hold are tokens of belonging far more than fact – they are far more holey than they are holy, we simply shrink or expand their value as necessary to fit the narrative that our group is the only true and right one. We even sometimes call the process of ritual selfing “owning” the other side. This illustrates what the actual act is – a symbolic embodiment of our biological nature; that must eat things to live. It is a perfectly normal outcropping of our social nature deeply rooted in the necessities of being in the context of the environment coupled with the current zeitgeist of ideas.

Marketers hijack these innate tendencies toward belonging in an attempt to build emotional connections between us and logos so the goop inside the packaging has more perceived value. And it works.

Thought stopping clichés are one of the benchmarks of ideas being used as social currency, not as agents of expanding our knowledge base. We diminish or increase the value of whatever ideas we encounter so that it is bent into whatever serves the group. This is why bureaucracies or social movements, once established, tend more to their preservation as they age than they do to working out whatever was in their charter. Whether or not the ideas we hold correspond to factual reality or sensible actions devoted to our common wealth or not is secondary to their value as a bonding agent – defending the coherency of the group. We are in effect groupies. If someone comes along behaving with an affinity to accuracy that differs with what serves group affinity, they are not thanked. They are either passively marginalized, or if they become influential, actively marginalized or neutralized by whatever means necessary.

There is no doubt that overcoming the limitations and mindsets of our small tribal roots is of benefit. In fact, it is arguably a necessary component of navigating the future we are unavoidably moving into. This doesn’t mean it is easy. We swim in the same pond and what we do influences our common experience. This fact carries with it an ever greater weight today than compared to the requirements of living within the threshold of uncultivated nature, waiting for her to deliver a capricious bounty. Somewhere in the depths of history we crossed a threshold to a point where we need each other in ways that cross the former boundaries of smallish tribes. Finding our footing on these untrodden grounds may not be easy, but it’s worth it.
I could be missing something(s)

cr-fzu8ucaa-hli

 

Fish Schooling

Does life require a purpose?

Nebula Art

Does life require a purpose? I suppose how we define purpose and life is important if we are to attempt an answer that is satisfactorily supported with evidence. Here’s my sketchy take on the subject.

All coherent objects in nature must have some capacity to nourish and or defend their coherence in the context of the environmental womb in which it is situated, otherwise it would not exist over time. In our case, we are nested layers of sophisticated behavioral architectures that support this continuing coherence. The behaviors involve things of adaptive value such as breathing, drinking, eating, obtaining shelter, as well forming social bonds, mating and the like because of the adaptive (purposeful) advantage of these behaviors. This macro behavior, along with a host of micro internal relationships carry out a singular purposeful theme of nourishing and or defending coherence. This is expressed on many levels with many variations built around this unified theme of nourishing and-or defending coherence in the context of the environment. This is what defines a coherent entity, whether an idea, what is communicated by the totality of behaviors we express through our life.

The inherent purpose communicated through our nature is why we are not satisfied unless we do something significant – something of nourishing and-or protective value with respect to the common body of relationships we live in, are part of, and depend on for life. Finding that thing we can do to contribute to the nourishing and or protective value to the community of relationships that defines our common experience of life is a story written right into the fabric of life. We never meet persons who are both malignantly selfish and satisfied at the same time. This inherent purpose written into the complex dynamic coherent structures such as ourselves sets the tone for whether we will be satisfied or frustrated, whether we will do what is significant, or move on the currents in meaningless directions.

Here is a look at some “nourish and defend” activity on a molecular scale.

The Origin of Personality and Culture

The bouba/kiki effect is a non-arbitrary mapping system between speech sounds and visual shapes that we are biologically wired to do. If asked to name the objects below using the words bouba & kiki, the word kiki will most often be used to name the sharper object, and the word bouba used to name the softer object. It is because the sound kiki is sharper than the word bouba. Our subjective language is shaped by our objective environment.

If the implication of this connection between subject and object is unpacked across larger scales such as individual personalities and cultures, we can see how certain languages and customs would be sharper in tone as a result of the communication telegraphed through the social and objective environment by harsher climates. Ice ages and seasonal environments, or natural events such as volcanoes would communicate a certain perspective that would be different than a tropical island environment with steady access to food all year round and not as much need for shelter and so on. This objective communication by the environment would incline the subjective maps and behaviors developed by the people in that environmental womb to reflect that localized aspect of nature. We can see this type of bouba/kiki effect reflected linguistically (our subjective maps) as well as behaviorally (objective expressions) in our personalities and in our cultures and so on.

In other words; our identity to a large degree is based on patterns (echoes) of being repeatedly informed by, and responding to environmental cues. These cues define our form much like the rising sun would warm a rock, defining the properties of its form for a time. We are a collection of adaptive behaviors that were shaped by environmental factors over time which favored behaviors that were required to remain coherent in that context. (to survive) Harsher climates would have demanded harsher “kiki like” actions and words, and these traits would carry forward (perhaps past their shelf life) as acquired adaptations even if they became maladaptive in the context of a changing environment. This would have a self perpetuating effect, where harsh behaviors would craft a feedback loop of harsh behaviors, much like corn produces corn seeds, which produces corn and so on.

Understanding this concept may offer us the opportunity to strategically decide what to “plant” because although we cannot control every variable, our opportunity to participate in what will contribute to what we experience as our future depends in part on what behavioral seeds we cultivate.