A certain strain of intelligent tech criticism warns that passive acceptance of data determinism kills human creativity and leads to civilization necrosis. But...
this insight is unfortunately highly susceptible to being absorbed into the idea that only our divine-like powers of boundless imagination differentiate us from the bots and therefore are the only things that can save us...
the difficult reality is that our faculties of imagination are not magical or godlike in the sense of infinite or salvific power; in fact it is this reality above all that our bots ram home every instant with accumulating inescapable force...
still less fortunately, the worshippers of the “divine imagination” fail to accept that human imagination can never be “liberated” from human memory and indeed can only be saved from an idolatrous obsession with transformation into pure spirit by the bounds and laws of memory...
but fortunately this is true, our imagination and memory are complementary and harmonious faculties even if one is pulled forward and the other pushed into the background by various media, as digital pulls memory forward and pushes imagination back
understanding this, wise critics of anti-human uses/abuses of technology must recognize our distinctive human memory is both different from and better (for us) than machines’ memory even despite their “godlike” powers, and one of its best roles for us is disciplining imagination
the key to reclaiming the REAL present from the shimmering future that never arrives because it is an illusion: building cultural institutions through the discipline of applying an imagination firmly but generously bounded by human memory and that which our memory most must house

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More from @jamespoulos

15 Feb
Hasn’t been easy to grasp China—on one hand, a masculine, vein-popping national communist regime against American interest; on another, something softer, deeper, wiser than what’s sensed and portrayed in the West. But this seeming contradiction is key to understanding China...
What is native—original—to the Chinese civilization-state?
How does China see the logic of its imports and the trajectory of their harmonization with what is native to the civilization-state?
Read 12 tweets
2 Nov 20
A type of liberalism is independent of and prior to the abstract apparatus of liberal experts trying to make the world conform to their perfection of it in speech...

That of meeting your neighbors as you find them in the unending labor of building and tending our shared environs
This liberalism, premodern in its origins, is inimical to the discourse-ruling class—which sees it as flatly unethical and an existential threat to “the world” as they would construct and dominate it
Liberals—regardless of what happens this election season—need to rise up against the “managed democracy” imposed by the decadent and failing discourse-ruling class. To retvrn to a liberalism global but not globalist—real and imperfect, not a pure fantasy. Door wide open.
Read 13 tweets
13 Oct 20
The end of history: an illusion that seeped implicitly into reality. Many felt smart concluding there was really nothing more worth doing. Value and status converged on them as they (and “we”) felt somehow they were doing the last things. Value, and then agency, evaporated below.
“Tech” comes along. Denies this. No! Many new vistas, even unimaginable ones! History forever! Yet *some* feel themselves becoming the smartest of all time by concluding there’s nothing left to do but end history by ending humanity. An eerie imitation..
Due to the pre-digital end of history, the oppressive feeling of the unfolding digital end of humanity is becoming implicitly accepted as an inexorable logic. “We forgot how to stop this, stopped caring. We have no value and no agency.” The feeling now reaches even upper classes
Read 7 tweets
25 Jul 20
what does it mean for a machine to be smart?
does it mean epic gaming?
smart is not intelligence but executive power
Read 8 tweets
7 Dec 19
An entire book could and should be written about this. The ongoing implosion of fantasy as the basis of identity is making people deeply neurotic, awkward, embattled, and ill, and we don’t even talk about it, much less dare to process it
Instead we retcon these sufferings and pathologies as hallmarks of heroic victimhood or vengeful entitlement. How’s that going for us
The whole psychic complex of imagineering as selfhood is toast. People are mistakenly scrambling to internalize fantasies extreme or ultimate enough to ride out the disenchantment. “The universe” isn’t going to save you. “Staying in your magic” won’t stop your disintegration
Read 9 tweets
31 Aug 19
I see the problem of changing eras of communications technology has at last penetrated The Discourse today. If you care for some special clarity on the politics of twitter and radio, read on
We start with oral. (Quiet, you.) The alphabet makes mere content out of its new psychological and social context—think of Plato’s REPUBLIC, or Aristotle’s teachings on formal cause (important) written down.
Plato gives us the city in speech, philosophy as the queen of the means of understanding causes, what makes people and regimes tick.

Aristotle gives us biology: not an emphasis on nature as will or power—the mastery of material cause—but on formative cause, shaping surrounds.
Read 28 tweets

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