44: Apotheosis Revisited

19 February 2012

A tricky decision while compiling The Jolly Pilgrim was how hard to go with the final global musings. In particular, the thirteenth: Apotheosis.

In the end, we chose to tone down the original draft (for the book), and post the ‘uncut’ version online at a later date. You can now find it here: Link to original version of GM13: Apotheosis

The ‘uncut’ version is shorter and spikier than the published one, especially the third section inviting readers to consider their view of the universe as that of a ‘hyper-advanced augmentation’, within a mortal soma, thrown up by an immortal line of germ cells – and reflect upon their relationship with death and mortality accordingly.

(If you didn’t fully grasp that, the book can be found here.)

The intention is to decouple one’s conscious, emotional, carbon-based-life-form view of the world (with all its implicit hard-wired preconceptions and constructs) from the broader metaphysical question of: what is actually going on?

In my view, such a decoupling is useful when making sense of technological civilisation. As my collaborator Tom Mansfield put it: if you set aside an anthropomorphic world view (by accepting humanity as just another phenomenon arising from cosmic evolution), the ecological instability inherent to the rise of civilisation constitutes the disruptive period following the emergence of any new complexity (just as the rise of heavy-element chemistry, biology and multi-cellular life were initially disruptive).

This original draft was written in April/May 2008. One experience I enjoyed during that time was discussing these thoughts – particularly those regarding death and mortality – with my late mother, who contributed decisively to their development.

I leave you with my favourite quote of all, which I found scrawled inside a Hungarian train when I was nineteen.

If it is meaninglessness that awaits us, let us live so as to make that an unjust fate – Unknown

 

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6 Responses to “44: Apotheosis Revisited”

  1. Mark Snare Says:

    your “here” link is broken.

    Sloppy.

  2. Peter Baker Says:

    Fixed. Thank you!

  3. Mark Snare Says:

    better.

  4. Lord Azalin Says:

    If it is meaninglessness that awaits us, we are all fucked!!!

  5. Simon Hunt Says:

    By way of comparison, I’ve just re-read the published version (on my Kindle app because walking upstairs to get the hard copy is inconvenient). I like this one better. Essentially the different endings alone cast a very different shadow. The published version leaves the after image of “This is just the beginning of the adventure”, whilst this one produces “You are part of an immortal narrative and through it, you will live for ever”. The first one is uplifting – which chimes with the general vibe of the book – but the second one feels an order of magnitude stronger and is the kind of premise religions are founded on… ;)

  6. Peter Baker Says:

    “You are part of an immortal narrative and through it, you will live for ever.”

    That pretty much sums it up.

    Very interesting feedback. I agonized over that decision for a long time. (Patrick van Beek called the new one ‘dumbed down’). I decided to base the decision on keeping people “with me” at all costs as too many found the original too full on. For example, in the third section when it says “emergent phenomenon” in the last sentence of one paragraph and then “multi-cellular organisms” in the first sentence of the next, you’re relying on the reader connecting those dots.

    Ironically, the one consistent complaint that is coming back (not to say it’s an invalid point) is that the Global Musings generally are too heavy-handed (I now have an agent trying to sell the MS, and she’s been getting that feedback) – and that’s coming from some fairly sophisticated thinkers, as far as I can tell.

    I don’t think their heavy – I just think they are straight to the point and information-dense (which is what I like to read), and plenty of people (of not an overtly intellectual bent) seem to just fly through them (and then repeat it all back to me).

    I’ll think about the harder version for a following print run (or maybe just the ending?), but I may not get it though a publisher!

    However “order of magnitude” does get me thinking, especially as in my heart I agree with you.

    I’ll leave you with one more thought on the immortal narrative. As you’ll know, one of my observations is that when people set out religious visions, their conception of the divine nearly always constitute some projection of a carbon-based life form (which, as we know, is a very localized and specific phenomenon). Well, REALLY, even if God was going to have a parallel with humans in some way, an entity that walks around with two legs and two arms is a very narrow way of thinking about a human. We think about humans that way because of all the perceptual limitations discussed.

    A more complete way of looking at a human is a string, stretching back to the genisis of life, with this series of incarnations of somas strung along it. So if man was made in the image of God …

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