March 1997

Root Page of Article: Techgnosis, Infomysticism, and the War Against Entropy, by Steve Mizrach

The Techgnostic Vision

Although I've provided the bare outline of what can be called the techgnostic or infomystical worldview, I have so far left out one of the most critical elements: the idea of some prior fall or disruption which has left humankind cut off from the universal intercommunication, akin to the shattering of vessels described in the Hebrew Kabbalah. The best exponent of this viewpoint is Philip K. Dick, whose later writings suggest that at one point the Earth was part of some vast pan-galactic information network centered around Albemuth or Sirius, but that the connection was severed (for unknown reasons, although the time he gives for this event was the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in 70 CE). As a result Dick describes, a Black Iron Prison which descended around Earth. Finding the Earth cut off from the rest of the universe, the Sirians dispatched a satellite (VALIS) to try and pierce the noise blanketing the planet with a divine invasion of a pure, rational, restoring signal.

From the techgnostic viewpoint, isolated and closed systems must necessarily degenerate. Entropy sets in once they can no longer exchange matter, information, and energy with the rest of the universe. Human beings would do so quite rapidly if they were not constantly taking in new matter from the environment; apparently humans replace every molecule of substance in our bodies every seven years or so. Living organisms and ordered systems are ultimately whirlpools or vortices, patterns of organization which suck in new matter and energy all the time. They expel entropy into the environment (waste matter) but reduce it in themselves. (They can't do this forever; eventually multicellular life must succumb to entropy in the form of biological death.) But closed systems are entropic systems. Fundamentalisms block new ideas, closed societies block new innovations, and closed biotic communities block the introduction of new gene flows. They fall into entropy more rapidly than open systems.

Thus, the problem of theodicy or the existence of entropy becomes explained as a severing of communication. The goal of Earth is not merely to join all human minds into one Gaian planet-mind; ultimately, the goal is to shatter the Black Iron Prison and rejoin this galactic network, reducing the entropic (Kali Yuga-like) state in which it is currently in. Dick even hints that this might mean the triumph over death. Some biologists think organisms acquire genetic errors throughout their lifetime (whether through wear and tear or some preprogramming or both), and that death results when the errors so overwhelm the signal or code of the organism that it can no longer maintain itself in dynamic homeostasis. The inability of the body to function shuts off blood to the brain, and thus the code of the personality or identity of the person is extinguished as well. Death is the extinguishing of information (but sexual reproduction and culture preserve some of it, in the form of genes and memes.) --

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