The Retreat of the Solidus

Ebb and flow. Yin and Yang. Donny and Marie.

Just as the tide slaps and slops the shore with foamy hand, as a till lifts and turns a loamy land, the come and the go (the come and the leave, for that matter) answers to nothing but time—and here I sit banging the chime of gratuitous rhyme.

Quoth the raven nevermore. Dirty whore.

There are creation times and tearing-down times; but creation also brings separations, boundaries; and destructions also bring freedom and open spaces. Good and Evil don’t like periodicity, find it ununderstandable. Probably like you are feeling right now. Don’t worry, I’m feeling the same.

And thus comes the solidus:

sol•i•dus |ˈsälidəs|
noun ( pl. -di |-ˌdī|)
1 another term for slash 1 (sense 2).
2 (also sol•i•dus curve) Chemistry a curve in a graph of the temperature and composition of a mixture, below which the substance is entirely solid.
3 historical a gold coin of the later Roman Empire. [ORIGIN: from Latin solidus (nummus).]

ORIGIN Latin, literally ‘solid.’

It’s odd that three definitions of the same word should be so different; stranger still, that three wildly different definitions manage to conflate, then meet at a strange tipping point (dare I say, a critical point along its solidus curve) where all three meet, refuse to overlap, and also refuse to withdraw.

Yeah, I’m in a weird state of mind.

Through misunderstanding and[solidus]or miscommunication I have been accused of blurring the distinction between altruism and selfishness, and consequently, of misinterpreting the altruistic efforts of some as utterly selfish.

More misunderstanding[solidus]miscommunication: I never blur the distinction. Outright, I will say directly that there simply is no difference, per se. Sufficiently indirect selfishness is indistinguishable from altruism. There, I said[solidus]wrote it.

Then again, look to the people that are just giving a “head’s up” when really, they’re gossiping and who speak for others without permission and who lord themselves over others, all in the name of “tough love”. There, intention is everything. Such indirect selfishness, when genuine, often comes at a shorter-term expense to a friendship or other relationship. If you’re getting your jollies giving a heads-up or you find yourself speaking out of turn to prop up your own moral authority or the “tough love” routine is puffing up your sense of place or elevating your own position, chances are….chances are….well, you know what I’m getting at (at the very least, my favorite pastry chef will recall a conversation about altruism).

It’s the coin of the realm these days, the currency among the constellation of players in my life, all of whom hover over the wrong place in that curve, trying to solidify that which must necessarily remain fluid. And they do it by deconstructing the separation between and and or, and by running roughshod over whatever boundaries are there.

Reach exceeds grasp and precious things come off the high shelf and shatter and the only reaction is that someone else should clean up the broken glass.

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The Singularity Is Near

Ray Kurzweil is a very interesting man. He’s one of those scientists who is also incredibly accomplished; the intellectual rubber hits the practical road. Essence shapes Accident.

Some may look at his books as the pie-in-the-sky-ish or over the top, or cartoonish, but they miss the point: there’s always value in blue-skying. And even more value in faith. Yes, faith. Not Faith like I’m sure the literalists will insist you accept, but the kind of faith that’s based on prior accomplishments. The kind of faith that tells you the road will continue past where you can see, or the sun will rise tomorrow, or that the process of learning increases the rate at which you can learn. In other words, faith is the entropy, the free energy from which we humans can direct our own destinies.

A synopsis of Ray’s new book, from one of his websites:

The Singularity is an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today—the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity.

Tall order. But that’s the beauty of exponential growth. I’m sure you’ve heard of the term, “exponential growth”. Most people, I think, have. But there’s a difference in understanding it and really feeling it—that is, getting it on a visceral level.

Humans tend to think in linear ways. Velocity is an easier concept than acceleration. We know a thing. We can know things about that thing. But beyond that, we start to lose our own traction: consider what you might know about the things about the things about a thing? Meta-meta-meta. Meh-meh-meh. M-E-H-meh.

And see? I’ve introduced a new concept, gone and switched gears on you. I’m now talking about metadata. What does that have to do with exponential curves? Well, I’ll leave that to you to think about (and after? try thinking about how you thought about it. And then, in having thought about how you thought about it, will understanding how you went about understanding help you understand more quickly in the future?).

Anyhoo. The Singularity is Near is the book I’m reading now. Kurzweil has some crazy-ass ideas, ones that fuck with my sense of the relationship between matter and energy and information. It makes me think of protein folding and IC fabrication and how some cafes will stack glasses or mugs between plastic trays. It makes me think of sub-atomic goings-on and the Egyptian pyramids and genetically-engineered square watermelons and a little brain game my 4th Grade teacher did with us involving a glass jar, marbles and sand. Yeah, it’s one of those kinds of books.

I don’t think it’s going to sit well in my noggin. In fact, I know it won’t. But I have faith in my own abilities to adapt to new and even radical ways of thinking, ways of looking at the universe. It’ll stew for a good long time, and I’ll reconcile it eventually with things that happen on our human time- and activity-scales, even if it means acknowledging that even those scales aren’t fixed, and are, in fact, accelerating, and are relative—to their own prior iteration.

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