Tuesday, September 09, 2008

i n t h e b e g i n n i n g w a s t h e w o r d

In Understanding and the Imagination in the Light of Nature - Terrence McKenna sez;

In fact, nature ultimately resolves itself into a self-reflecting, syntactical metasystem, right down to the DNA. DNA working as it does, with nucleotide sequences that code -- that means arbitrarily assign association -- code for certain amino acids. It means that organic objects are essentially utterances in three dimensional space and express of some kind of universally distributed linguistic intent. This is what it means when it says, "In the beginning was the word." Nature is that word. This infinitely self-adumbrating, fractal, syntactical hallucination with an infinite number of facets for potential regarding and self-regarding.

And having said all of this, I might invoke here Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, which as I'm sure many of you know was Kurt Godel's brilliant contribution to theoretical mathematics where he showed that the possible set of true formal statements generated by any formal system exceeded the possible set of true formal statements which the rules of that system allowed. He showed this for simple arithmetic. And what this means, friends, is that what was called truth up until the beginning of the twentieth century, is absolutely impossible. That's what Godel's Incompleteness Theorem secures. It shows that there is no ultimate closure in an effort to describe a formal system.

And so in a way, my take on nature, and culture, and man, is that human language is a meta-linguistic system, generated out of the necessary formal incompleteness of nature. Nature is a self-describing genetic language and yet out of it arises something which is not formally predicted by its constraints and rules. There's a symmetry break there, and a so-called emergent property comes into view. This emergent property is our unique ability to provisionally code sound to meaning so that we then can freely command and reconstruct the world. We imagine that we do this for our own purposes of communication. The analysis that I'm suggesting would seem to indicate that actually we do it because we are complicated enzyme systems that are moving linguistic charge around inside some kind of metasystem. A metasystem that is very important for the emergence of new order out of nature.

The fact that it is contrived, provisional, is very interesting. It doesn't arise out of the gene structure. Rather it is agreed upon by individuals who are living at the time that the linguistic structure, whatever it is, emerges into consciousness. Since individuals are replaced, the language is much more in flux than the genome. The genetic component of an organism is a physical structure stabilized by atomic bonds -- possibly stabilized by a phenomenon like room-temperature's superconductivity. In that the way nature works is to conserve the genes. Molecular machinery has evolved to do that. But there is no mechanism in nature with the same kind of binding force that conserves meaning. Meaning is some kind of freely-commanded, open-ended, self-evolving system. The rules are that there are no rules.

Meaning consequently addresses itself to a much larger potential modality of expression than the genes. The genes basically repeat themselves, over and over. Almost like Homeric poetry, where the idea is that it be memorized and repeated. And that's what sexuality is about: memorizing and repeating gene structures, handing on parts of the story. But the epigenetic domain is different, the creation of linguistic systems, where meaning can be freely commanded, allows very rapid evolution of cultural forms.