Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

This season is make-or-break. Digital thinking for a digital time.  §

The idea that time is God’s way of making sure that everything doesn’t happen all at once has been attributed to many of history’s most important thinkers. This suggests that whatever the source, we find something about it to be deeply true. It also suggests that at some level, modernity has broken time. Because modernity, increasingly, is precisely that state of being in which everything does in fact happen all at once.

— § —

One of the saddest truths about life is that while the distance from incompetence to competence is very large, the distance from competence to incompetence is very small. If you want to stand a chance, you must never stop clawing as the ground shifts underneath your feet; to hold ground is hard enough. To make it up again? Nearly impossible.

— § —

Metaphysics is that which is larger on the inside than it is on the outside. Empirical science is that which is larger on the outside than it is on the inside. That isn’t to say that empirical science is wrong, or that it’s useless. Only that its immense power comes from a very small actual territory; much larger territories remain to be explored—not in the universe, which is a human abstraction, but in fact in human being, which is—paradoxically—our most fundamental reality.

— § —

The left imagines itself to be fighting for a justice that it will someday bring about, while in truth it is fighting like a child for an immortality that no one can ever grant. The right imagines itself to be fighting for a freedom that is indispensable to human thriving, while in truth it is fighting for imprisonment within human mediocrity. We are told as we are raised that we are to fight “the good fight,” but strangely enough, almost no one in this era of maximum battle is actually doing it.

— § —

Not so long ago, “this is not a pipe” was a scandalous thing to say. Now, it is absolutely mundane. Now, the scandal occurs when one has the gall to claim that “this is in fact a pipe.” Because everyone knows that only the straight, white, cis, male descendants of hundreds of years of colonialists would presume to see pipes. Not-pipes are laudable, but pipes and assertions about pipes? In pipes lies catastrophe. In fact, the road to hell is paved with them.

— § —

In an age of the deterritorialized and the digital, it is the spatial and the analog that call to us the most. Being human, we want what we can have only in our dreams. Locality, continuous variation rather than discrete stepping, and immortality are our fondest dreams. It may still be possible to resurrect some semblance of the former. The latter has been misconstrued in our digital zeitgeist; hence the hospital and the yoga mat. We think ourselves to be either alive or dead, rather than on a continuum between the two, and with this in mind, we are more terrified than were the peoples of ages past. Perhaps in the era of quantum information, we will see ourselves to be alive and dead, mortal and immortal in a visceral way, and all of this will disappear. Perhaps we will also begin to understand that everything is also always at once true and false, but precisely not in the postmodernist way in which everything means nothing. Rather the opposite—every thing, every single thing, will mean every thing, every single thing, all at the same time.

— § —

There’s that problem of time again. Modernity broke it, but perhaps it doesn’t matter if something is broken once you don’t need it any longer. I’m not sure I’m prepared to live in the quantum age, but I do suspect that in some ways it will be more human—and more divine—than the digital age. The digital age is an age of fragmentation; the quantum age promises to be an age of identity. In an age of identity, simultaneity makes perfect sense. All things are already always all things, and always were.

— § —

I don’t know what all of this nonsense is all about. But whatever. I’m overwhelmed right now, this season—legitimately overwhelmed—for the first time in my life. I’m not seeking answers, and I’m not seeking questions. I’m seeking truth and a way forward. Any way. All ways.

This pits me decidedly against all of my intellectual upbringing, which was largely about the emptiness and impossibility of truth and the importance of the “sideways.” I even have a massive tome on the importance of seeing sideways on my shelf. I am tempted to burn it.

In the grand tradition of all that has been rejected by all that is presently holy, I paint a giant cross on my chest and yell, “Forward!”