Metavalent Stigmergy

How New Default Consensus Realities Instantiate

Dissolving Human Embodiment & Billions of Close Personal Friends

The following is nowhere close to being a full transcript; just interesting snippets that I took a few minutes to capture. Quotations are Coupland, non quotations are the interviewer.

“Identity’s become an entirely fluid issue, now.”

“Now, not having a life is so common, it’s almost become the norm.”

“The split between being biologically alive and having a life has to do with the way you perceive time and the way you perceive your information environment.”

“People just aren’t getting their year’s worth of year anymore. We’ve increased the information density in our culture to the point where perception of time is now all screwy.”

Interstitial: Our economy is based upon, entirely upon, fending off boredom. Leisure time is a joke.

“But then it all backfired. Technology only gives you more time up to a certain point, and then time starts vanishing at this fantastic rate, like your car running out of gas.”

“I used to have this fantasy that I’d go into a coma for one year and when I came out of the coma, I’d have a year’s worth of magazines and pop culture to catch up on. It’d be like information crack and really fun. But now, every day is like waking up after a year of having been in a coma.”

Do you believe in randomness? “No, when something seems random, it means you’re standing too close to a very large pattern; you can’t see the pattern because you’re too close to it.”

“I think many people mistake the current deluge of information diversity as being the end of history; but in a way I think it’s actually the beginning of history.”

“I was looking at these photographs from the 1950’s and in them everyone was trying to look exactly 35 years old. I mean, you had these 18 year-old boys and girls and these 58 year-old men and women, and everyone was trying to look 35 years-old. So that was the age you were supposed to be inside your head back then, is 35. Now, what’s happened I think is that the mental age everyone’s trying to be inside their head is about 24; and that’s an 11 year shift.”

But what about on a deeper level? “Well, I think as we’re talking about the 20th century here, I think we’re probably going to remember this period of time as being one in which the relationship between the mind and the body was completely severed.”

“I remember I once read about Karen Carpenter, how she felt as though the entire world existed on the other side of a ten feet of plexiglass. I think, in a way, that defines the current mind-body relationship.”

“I think what’s happened is people have begun viewing their bodies as being fortresses, or inviolable, made out of that same sort of hard, shiny plastic as Lego; but the funny thing here is that the average human body contains ten times as many alien cells as it actually contains cells of itself. So instead of Lego, the average human body is more like Pigpen, from Charlie Brown. Remember, the way he used to walk down the street in that sort of perpetual haze of dust and germs? Well, you know, that’s people. Actually, we’re already so ridden with disease and other organisms that the whole notion of being a fortress becomes somewhat beside the point.”

How does a person cope? As you’ve said, every day is like waking up from a year long coma. “Well, there’s obviously no point in trying to remember everything, because then everything just becomes trivia. Cellulose production in Lake Baikal in Russia, the contents of Tori Spelling’s clothes closet, or the weather in Arlington, Texas. What’s important is being able to locate things.”

So has bulk memory replaced history? “Yeah. Sort of the way bulk shopping has replaced regular shopping. I remember back in the 70’s in history class, when teachers would say to us very sonorously, ‘He who does not remember the past is doomed to repeat it,’ and I just don’t think that’s the case anymore.”

“I think that what’s happened now is that we’ve create a scenario so radically different that there’s no historical president to look back on for the situation we now face. We’re no longer condemned to repeat an endless cycle of mistakes. I think this should come as a relief, too. I mean, no more dark age followed by golden age followed by another inevitable dark age. I mean, how great to have finally broken the cycle of history, that people can actually manufacture a destiny of their own choosing?”

If you could be an animal, what animal would you be? “I already am an animal.”

So where does personal memory fit into all of this, doesn’t it get swamped by this super memory, things we’re creating? What about the personal stuff? “No, no, no, the personal stuff, personal memory it’s the most important thing of all. It’s the one thing that can never be taken away from you. It is you. Despite all the recent changes in our time architecture, it still takes time to create memories, it still takes time to remember them. It takes a place in which to locate the memories and a place in which to be still and remember them. It takes a lot of work to be an individual, to have an individual life and it can be scary; but then the option is to forget and to be forgotten.

Are those your last words? “No. I’d say, hey kids! Go blow yourself up with dynamite and reassemble your bits any way you want to assemble them. Hey kids! Go and jump into that cartoon hole and find out what lies on the other side. I’d say, you know, all the time in the world, it’s right there, it’s inside you. I’d say all the world in the world … it’s right there inside you.

“I mean, maybe you have a life and maybe you don’t, I don’t know you, but, you’re not alone.”

“I remember back in the 1970’s, about the time people stopped having lives, they also began making fun of intimacy. They made jokes about people like Halston having parties at Studio 54 for his 500 close, personal friends; and so I guess the whole world is Studio 54 now. It’s just you and me, babe, and billions and billions of other people out there just like you. Billions of close personal friends.

Written on December 4, 2010