The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for September 10th, 2012

ruined palaces

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Attempts to “take it easy” for a week or two at the end of the summer, coupled with the puzzling virus which hampered all egress to joy, have left your humble narrator in a state of quivering misery. Downtrodden by vast physical inadequacies, failing organs, and a certain sense of ennui- nowhere is nepenthe to be found. Truly- I’m all ‘effed up. Crises, both existential and supranormal, abound.

from wikipedia

Within the framework of the post-Classic cycle of thirteen katuns (the so-called ‘Short Count’), some of the Yucatec Books of Chilam Balam present a deluge myth describing the collapse of the sky, the subsequent flood, and the re-establishment of the world and its five world trees upon the cycle’s conclusion and resumption. In this cosmic drama, the Lightning deity (Bolon Dzacab), the Earth Crocodile (Itzam Cab Ain), and the divine carriers of sky and earth (the Bacabs) have an important role to play. The Quichean Popol Vuh does not mention the collapse of the sky and the establishment of the five trees, but focuses instead on a succession of previous mankinds, the last of which was destroyed by a flood.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A very bad thought, the sort of tormenting suspicion which instructs and informs madness, infects my mind. There are certain questions which should never even be asked, lest they be answered. Forbidden knowledge is prohibited for a reason, there are some things you cannot unlearn- like what the term “sediment mounds” connotes. The actions of others, with their unknowable motivations, rain random and unpredictable consequences into my days.

from wikipedia

There is a long philosophical and scientific history to the underlying thesis that reality is an illusion. This skeptical hypothesis (which can be dated in Western thought back to Parmenides, Zeno of Elea and Plato and in Eastern thought to the Advaita Vedanta concept of Maya) arguably underpins the mind-body dualism of Descartes, and is closely related to phenomenalism, a stance briefly adopted by Bertrand Russell. In a narrower sense it has become an important theme in science fiction, and recently has become a serious topic of study for futurology, in particular for transhumanism through the work of Nick Bostrom. The Simulation Hypothesis is a subject of serious academic debate within the field of transhumanism.

In its current form, the Simulation Argument began in 2003 with the publication of a paper by Nick Bostrom. Bostrom considers that the argument goes beyond skepticism, claiming that “…we have interesting empirical reasons to believe that a certain disjunctive claim about the world is true”, one of the disjunctive propositions being that we are almost certainly living in a simulation. Bostrom and other writers postulate there are empirical reasons why the ‘Simulation Hypothesis’ might be valid. Bostrom’s trilemma is formulated in temporal logic as follows:

“A technologically mature “posthuman” civilization would have enormous computing power. Based on this empirical fact, the simulation argument shows that at least one of the following propositions is true:

The fraction of human-level civilizations that reach a posthuman stage is very close to zero;

The fraction of posthuman civilizations that are interested in running ancestor-simulations is very close to zero;

The fraction of all people with our kind of experiences that are living in a simulation is very close to one.

If (1) is true, then we will almost certainly go extinct before reaching posthumanity.

If (2) is true, then there must be a strong convergence among the courses of advanced civilizations so that virtually none contains any relatively wealthy individuals who desire to run ancestor-simulations and are free to do so.

If (3) is true, then we almost certainly live in a simulation.

In the dark forest of our current ignorance, it seems sensible to apportion one’s credence roughly evenly between (1), (2), and (3).

Unless we are now living in a simulation, our descendants will almost certainly never run an ancestor-simulation.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Instead of allowing the intangible to complicate an already tenuous circumstance, and in the name of the annual “it’s September, so time to double down on the work” season, your humble narrator is retreating to the Creeklands. This is, after all, where one such as myself belongs- amongst the discarded and the decayed.

A long black raincoat hangs in my closet, awaiting the coming of another equinox, here in the Newtown Pentacle.

from wikipedia

In the near future, anthropogenic extinction scenarios exist: global nuclear annihilation, overpopulation or global accidental pandemic; besides natural ones: bolide impact and large scale volcanism or other catastrophic climate change. These natural causes have occurred multiple times in the geologic past although the probability of reoccurence within the human timescale of the near future is infinitesimally small. As technology develops, there is a theoretical possibility that humans may be deliberately destroyed by the actions of a nation state, corporation or individual in a form of global suicide attack. There is also a theoretical possibility that technological advancement may resolve or prevent potential extinction scenarios. The emergence of a pandemic of such virulence and infectiousness that very few humans survive the disease is a credible scenario. While not actually a human extinction event, this may leave only very small, very scattered human populations that would then evolve in isolation. It is important to differentiate between human extinction and the extinction of all life on Earth. Of possible extinction events, only a pandemic is selective enough to eliminate humanity while leaving the rest of complex life on earth relatively unscathed.

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