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West_Julian - Singularity as Eschatological Archetype (2005)

West_Julian - Singularity as Eschatological Archetype (2005)

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Published by Julian West

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Published by: Julian West on Mar 04, 2012
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11/30/2013

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The Singularity as Eschatological Archetype
 
(A Few Observations)
“Heaven is not a different realm, but this worldafter we have improved it and ourselves.”-- RCW Ettinger,
 Man into Superman
 
1
Whether it is named the Singularity or the Spike, the Transcendental Object at the End of Timeor the New Jerusalem, the vision of humankind’s mass transcension into a hyperdimensionalstate of being is a millennia-old archetype whose depths obstinately refuse to be fully plumbed.Like all abiding memes, it is a motif whose representations can vary a great deal in detail withoutlosing their basic archetypal pattern.Today’s prophesized Singularity (as commonly publicized by Vinge, Drexler, and Kurzweil,among many others) is no different. Though first catalyzed by an unparalleled technologicalleap, this metahistorical Spike promises to comprehensively and irrevocably transmogrify everymode in which we relate to our selves, each other, and the phenomenal world at large. Oursphere of influence will vastly deepen -- not only outer space, but inner space as well will be laidbare to the penetrative stare of innumerable nanites and foglets. We shall at last see as we havebeen seen, and will then be, courtesy of superhumanly intelligent and benignly spiritualmachines, summarily remolded in the image of our greatest and wildest expectations.The only significant precedent to such a mind-bending warp in consensual reality would have tobe the resultant Utopia often foreseen as the coda to the various ‘end-times’ scenarios of piousapocalypticists. Peering at length through the symphonic perversity of their feverish visions, wetouch upon several key intimations regarding the ‘look’ and ‘feel’ of a post-historical planetaryrenovation -- visions which until recently have been either faithfully reverenced as gospel truthin spite of (or perhaps because of ) their seeming improbability, or alternatively scorned ashallucinogenic pipe-dreams. But when set alongside the forecasts of our contemporary futurists,these ancient allusions are sometimes startlingly similar to those foreseen today, andoccasionally appear to describe the technologies of tomorrow in bold detail.
 
2
To sketch a brief example -- the ‘Spirit of Healing’ as foreseen in Zoroastrian traditions, whichappeared to its forecasters as ‘a great stream of molten metal’ through which everyone will bemade to pass, in order to be ‘purified’ for the transition to a new life in a paradisiacal ‘House of Song.’ This purgative has again been prophesized today, in the form of a nanotechnological‘swarm’ that, once properly interfaced with the user, will eradicate biological impurities andaugment his or her perceptions with neuromorphic stimulators, thus preparing andreprogramming the user for a life of longevity and transhuman magnificence. “Not onlyimmortal, but eternally young,” reads the Zoroastrian text, a passage which finds a muchamplified echo in the contemporary assurances of the cryonics movement. “Once more endowedwith bodies,” we continue to read, “they will be able to experience the joys of the senses as wellas those of the spirit.” Is this not a vision of a full-immersion Cyberspace -- a virtual theme-park of sensuality as well as a central repository of all the earth’s accumulated wisdom?The Singularity, with all its attendant technological innovations in tow, also looms large in thechiliastic foresights of the Christian apocalypse. Its central motif, “the Holy City, NewJerusalem,” which descends from ‘Heaven” in plain view of the entire human race; a City of pure gold, “bright as clear glass,” adorned with jewels of every kind; a City that has “no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it,” but is lit instead by the “light" of a fully integratedConsciousness –- what is this if not the premature vision of a supercooled solid state Hypercube,the glittering golden mobilia prophesized by FM-2030, our future perfect hyperspatial home? Amystical model of sacred geometry covertly expressing the known proportions of the planetitself, the New Jerusalem represents a measuring-out of Heaven on Earth, the architecture of amacrocosmic temple into which all humankind enters to receive its final transformativequickening. Crossing this final threshold into the numinous Light of the great Beyond, the manymillions of humankind will disassemble into a metamorphic Omegon unshackled from theoutmoded mores of space and time.Our modern prescriptions for the Singularity thus form a significant -- and far more rewardingand technologically correct -- revision of the older eschatological models. These newerprototypes have their template in the earlier visions, however surcharged they may be with thetheoretical promises of the mid twenty-first century. But whether seen through the blinders of tribal theism or through the google-eyed wonder of open source technology, the End promisedby both the visionaries of yesterday and the futurists of today are one and the same -- a NewHeaven and a New Earth.
 
3
The fact that there is a Singularity of one type or another expected by every long-lived memeticstructure in human history seems to indicate that humankind was hardwired with a ‘Singularitycode’ from the start -- that it is an integral product of our forward evolution, an inescapableeventuality designed to fire at a crucial crossroads in the forward advance of our CollectiveConsciousness. In both ancient and contemporary reports of the looming Spike, the doomprophesized by the teleological transition instead gives place to the penultimate consummation of an age-long metamorphosis -- no ‘end’ at all, but rather a new beginning, a ‘making wonderful’,a second genesis. This ‘new beginning,’ the most crucial phase of the unfolding Singularity, isakin to a running process long obscured by an encryption scheme almost supernatural in itscomplexity -- soon to be unraveled and fully deciphered and downloaded by one and all as asparkling new metahistorical operating system whose relative omniscience and omnipotenceconverge joyously upon the Divine.The Singularity is thus the quotient that the alchemical algorithm of Conscious evolution has allthese millennia been struggling to resolve –- which is, how best to explode base matter into ameta-dimensional bloom of fully conscious hyperspatial adventure?Again, the much-expected and multi-faceted Singularity is the long-anticipated answer to life’sprimary impulse -- it only remains for the technological and teleological prowess of the GaianMind’s leading prototype to unravel the remainder of the equation and, with these coordinates inhand, steer the Ark of Life to its transcendent destination in the sky.
4
The coming Singularity brings with it the promise of a new, more masterly emergence of Consciousness, one that promises to unify our fragmented selves into a tightly-woven telesphereof ubiquitously wetwired, mutually reflecting minds. The human psyche itself -- own personalnode of the One (or Total) Consciousness of planetary humankind -- now unshackled from thepains and pleasures of its carbon-based interface, shall fuse with its silicon panacea and populatethe very air we breath with the sentient sparkle of hyper-dimensional joie de vivre.The New Heaven (as prophesized by the ancient apocalypticists) is the opening of this finalfrontier, the interstellar depths of the cosmos brought nearer to us by our needful willingness toventure out from our increasingly crowded home-world via the establishment of a meta-

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