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Divination

A wave of dereliction creeps, bringing with it the ostensible signs of despondency. In car windows a concentrated impact turns the whole pane white, as the plastic coating comes unstuck from the glass. Shop facades are vandalized in drunken brawls, the force makes an area of compact disintegration with spider legs emanating outward. If the glass is installed in rotten wood the break is total and indistinct, if the wood has warped the break is disproportionate. Having just finished a large project, it seems I can’t look at broken windows without imagining the cursor dragging the FCP matte. Every neglected address is like a treasure map to another project, each one evoking a rhythm, a melody, geometry to cut things to. If the Job Centre is anything to go by, the future has everyone with their heads bowed to the ground like a scene from Metropolis. But all I see is handsome potential. The Greeks called it Kairos, those moments outside of Chronos (the normal timeline of events that allows everything to not happen all at once) where a plan comes together and the latent dream suddenly presents itself as a reality. It all comes back to perspective. If a broken window is only looking back at what once was then it becomes synonymous with loss and failure. That’s more like a cultural archetype… Unlike Hellenistic civilization, retrospective gloom seems to be encrypted into our culture. The sombre mechanism of evening news – each episode regular and brimming with unprecedented revelations – would have us believe that we live each moment as a layer piled atop the next: you – the innocent viewer – pulled through the mud and dealt another deck of ‘bad luck’ on a nightly basis. Could it be that the current situation has nothing to do with past experience? If the present is more like the comet-trail of the future, what then? The psychological advantages of such a reversal are limitless. The news, as it is dealt, dissipates into background noise, the solemn performance of the newsreader’s voice suddenly seems absurdly ironic. Like painting and re-painting a morbid scene, the needless rehearsal of victimhood looks repetitively self-indulgent (beware morbid painters!). Then the ‘broken window’ archetype – and brokenness in general – emerges as the ambition of future promise, rather than material collapse. This aspirational theory of time is not considered valid in our present culture. The automatic tendency to consider time as a ‘past-forms-the-present’ constant is so pervasive it goes unquestioned. Replaying old fashions and the strange confluence of anything out of fashion as ‘retro’ signifies a culture that is chasing its own tail. No part of these looped processes empower, they avoid the possibility of ‘originality’ and reinstate the “another day another dollar” mentality. That’s just fashion; to what extent might science be restrained in the same way? To take a materialistic view of time (as a linear progression, rather than, say, fractal propagation) is not only the norm; it is required in order to make equations work. Yet the work of scientists that would intimate otherwise has not been taken to its fullest conclusions, why? The chronology of twentieth century physics is a succession of disappointments to the Newtonian view of the universe, forcing scientists to explore concepts that increasingly point to mysticism (re: particle physicists who embrace Eastern religion later in life). Science is approaching the point where a clockwork view of the universe will have to completely forgotten, and more inconvenient subtleties adopted – inconvenient, that is, to Capitalism’s strictures on our experience of time and space. Attentions are turned toward the LHC, but if they do discover something that offends Capitalism’s theory of time, the effects would incur such a great paradigm shift it would invite the total collapse of society. The exulted and undisclosed relationship between time and gravity, for example, would first redefine the idea of weight in time, and so the energy used to shift weight, and then the means of obtaining that energy by exploitation. Then there would have to be a reconsideration of the meaning of material abundance and rarity, affluence and poverty, ease and difficulty. How could one say “another day another dollar”, if dollars and cents were interchangeable not just at the current exchange rate, but all exchange rates in all timelines! Am I implying that this is control by design? Hawking once said that time travel is impossible because if were, then time-travellers would be arriving here today. Though legitimate, this statement by an eminent scientist uncovers a naivety to the subtle mechanics of control: if such events were witnessed by the public all hope of sustaining the present materialist paradigm would be lost. People – unable to reconcile time-travel with everyday economics – would go nuts. If institutions cannot provide the answers then we can always look elsewhere to individuals who graciously and quietly distribute their contributions to a new paradigm. The idea of the ‘comet-trail present’ to the ‘comet future’ is nothing new. It’s only relatively recently that it has been actively suppressed and, as the world’s population learns to embrace uncertainty, even more recently rediscovered. Cultures in the distant past had a deft appreciation of present time as ripples on the pond of future events. The process of divination is central to this idea, and is based in the concept that future events permeate backwards, expressing themselves by co-incidence in the present. Divination takes the form of earth-throwing, tea leaf reading, even blood-letting. The physical properties involved in these actions, such as kinetic potential or gravity, are supposedly bound by future potential, and so can’t help portend to it, just like a fractal tends toward the same design no matter where you are in the picture. Fractal is derived from fractured. Broken glass offers the potential for a shamanic reading, just as accident reconstruction teams look like tribesmen with clipboards as they survey a car wreck. The contemporary interest in divination however does not owe itself to greater technological advancement; I prefer to think of it as just one penetrating arm of an organism that now seeks answers to the fundamental questions: who are we? Where did we come from? Where are we going? How do these questions manifest themselves in a new form? Clif High is the author of the Webbot program. It uses the Internet as the medium of divination that achieves a very high accuracy in predicting the future. It works on the same premise as all divination, that the future decides the present, not the past. However, Webbot expands on this (and the scientific and social conclusions that can be drawn from it) to use a form of divination that centres on linguistics. Radical Linguistics, as defined by Clif High, amiably takes the position that everyone ‘knows’ the future subconsciously – or on some deeper level – and therefore ‘lets slip’ by our choice of words in mundane conversation. The Webbot program scans forums, chat rooms and blogs, collating the frequency of words in seemingly trivial and inconsequential conversation, ascribes those words to a certain tendency and slowly constructs an eventful picture of the future, communicated cryptically through Jungian archetypes. Each word carries a bias, as we can always choose a number of words to describe the same thing. The fact we choose one word over tens of equally applicable options forgives a predisposition to a certain future visualization. More succinctly, the future dissipates into the present and is involuntarily read and expressed by beings sensitive to it – us – in the everyday. The Webbot’s tendency to ‘look around corners’, not only sheds light on events not yet known to occur by the vast majority, but also illuminates certain aspects of reality that were never meant to be seen. With Zen indifference, a more conspiratorial world-view is being introduced to sceptics and advocates alike, which is then actively disseminated among online forums. Among the many fascinating propositions so far derived from Clif High’s work, one of the most compelling is the effects of response. The results of Webbot are gathered into a single report which is downloadable for a fee. The report is then downloaded and widely discussed on the Internet – the same medium High uses as the means of linguistic divination. If the Webbot then includes the data within forums discussing its own findings the result is a strange feedback loop, future reading becomes a closed circuit. Consequently, the growing interest in the Webbot’s results – amplified by the present uncertainty in economics, geopolitics and health – actually compounds the accuracy of the future view. As a result, Clif High ignores this material so as to derive the clearest future vista. This idea is initially straightforward. If you consciously participate in a foretold picture of the future, your expression of the facts are tainted by this conscious knowledge. On a linguistic level, this clouds the natural perception of the future with intent, making it impossible for the final data to be pure. This ‘participation’ can be read, experimentally, as stepping into the realm of future probability, your linguistic presence in which symbiotically must alter future probability. Quantum Mechanics states that attempting to measure the experiment inevitably affects the experiment’s outcome. In opposition to simple cause and effect, Quantum Physics produces events as a matrix of possibles, where higher concentrations of data signify a greater certainty. In a similar way, Webbots treat words with the same particle/wave function dynamics, our words like particles that appear to move in stronger directions than others. The report actually makes numerical reference to the certainty of predictions. In the case of Internet Divination, discussing the ‘experiment’ by linguistic expression (which is precipitated by mental processes) impacts the direction events will eventually follow. The fact that this is preimagined by early Quantum physics sets a challenge, that accurate future reading demands greater scientific authority, therein lies a mysterious connection between the nature of time, probability, and the human experience that, rather than passively riding the wave, seems equipped with the innate ability to augment the experiment’s outcome. Isn’t that godlike quality an insult to such well-rehearsed exercises in psychology as the evening news? In the near distant future, the Hadron Collider might unexpectedly discover the possibility that it doesn’t stop with looking at the experiment, simply thinking about the experiment is enough to change it. It seems unlikely that such empowering information would be freely imparted, or even accepted. Outside of institutional sanctions it is left to fall from the sky, straight into the hands of individuals experiencing their own sense of ‘Kairos’. To this end, Cliff High is making the reports more available, as part of an experiment to see if humanity can alter the bleak road ahead for the better. Inherent to this project is the reversal of a self-victimizing trait as enforced by the mainstream. Through the eyes of Webbot, negative expressions in response to negative news escalates a negative future visualization, just as painting a sad scene begets sadness. As Clif High says, “be careful what you wish for”.

LIFE

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