The Future Nomad

The future nomad is alone, but connected; unique as a whole, united in the specifics. I am able to go wherever I want, there is no property or territory that permanently belongs to someone. I bring advanced technology that lets me survive in any environment but is still light enough for me to carry. There are buildings where millions of people can sleep undisturbed and when they wake up there is food free to eat before they continue their adventures. The big cities are always lit bright as the day, but the sleeping rooms are insulated. The light is just like sunlight in every aspect, expect perhaps in brightness. There’s always pleasant weather here and all the big cities are in the same time zone. Weeks are no longer seven days, because we are no longer forced to work business days and consequently no longer forced to rest on the sabbath. Nighttime only exists in the wilderness, but I am equipped to live in the wilderness. The city is of course also filled with wild nomads, but I make different agreements with people I pass on the street and lions that stalk me on the savannah.

There is still competition for awareness of what is important and urgent (this is called politics). Organizations compete for central spaces, on big online platforms as well as in physical spaces, like the squares, parks, streets and the sides of buildings in the major cities. Some advertise news, including products and scientific findings. Some are looking for labourers or other potential members for their organizations. More often the job descriptions are vague, asking people to join a project or movement first and finding a suitable task later. Lobbyists from each organization try to influence other organizations. Most days there are new banners and new groups of people, either in the streets or online, demonstrating to raise awareness of particular organizations, projects or issues.

Each situation is unique and each encounter follows a new rule. People make temporary agreements to build water treatment systems or new gadgets that will bring them to their destinies. As culture develops or projects are completed, technological artifacts are recycled or replaced. Similarly, organizations and their bureaucracies must be constantly recycled or replaced. Change is the only permanent state, pardon the pun. Home is not necessarily a specific place but a state of mind; a feeling of safety and belonging.

There is a tent by the river. Two individuals are digging in the sand. Much later I learned that they had slept by that river for forty years. As the sun sets in the wilderness, I suit up in my sleep-sack. Just as my breathing slows and my eyelids turn to lead, a dark figure in loose clothing appears, walking slowly past me, clinging to a tall cane. I follow in the darkness until we reach a dimly lit patch of golden sand. The cane falls onto the sand, the robes turn into feathers and an owl shoots into the air and fades away. I pick up the cane, a sturdy piece of pale, old oak, and I start poking the sand. I thud into a layer of gravel, but it gives way. I strike again and again and I’m led downwards by the cane, spiralling through layers of rock that melt away before me. I slip and land on my ass in complete darkness. There is a noise like traffic behind me, but I can’t see. Suddenly a wall of light explodes through the darkness. A TV presenter, the name escapes me, is conducting a lecture, pointing at pictures of the nervous system.

“… and so the spinal cord reacts automatically to heat signals, telling the limbs to retract. The nerves can detect tiny changes in pressure on the skin. Think of it as a light-switch. Like when the wind blows, the pressure flicks the switch and opens the floodgates for the electric current. The cerebellum, also known as the reptile brain, which sits atop the spine, sends out electric signals to the muscles, coordinating intricate movements. On top of the reptile brain we find the sophisticated communication centre of the brain, it functions as a relay and is responsible for, for example, the production of emotions and recollection of memories. You can think of it as a librarian who directs you to the book you’re looking for.”

A new picture appears.

“The olfactory system is better known as the sense of smell. Molecules in the air interact with the nose much like a key in a keyhole. Different molecules of varying sizes and shapes fit into different keyholes. When the floodgates are opened, positively and negatively charged ions stored in the nervous system come pouring out, creating an electromagnetic field and an electric current that flows into the centre of the brain, connecting, for example, emotions and memories. The surface of the tongue is also layered with such keyholes and, as you probably know, sugar and salt are among the key molecules.”

New slide.

“Repetitive patterns in the movement of air, what we call sound waves, cause the eardrums to vibrate. These vibrations flick the switches on and off, sending a pattern of electric signals to the auditory system on the sides of the brain near the ears, here and here.”

New slide.

“The eyes, however, work a little differently. The retina at the back of the eye is a layer of nervous receptors. When a photon of light, a sort of package of electromagnetic waves, hits a receptor it causes something called photoisomerization. If the photon has the right frequency it passes on the required amount of energy to the electron it collides with. The electron gets exited and jumps to a new position which upsets the balance between positive and negative charges and causes the molecule to bend. It’s basically still the same molecule, it just changes shape and thereby opens up the floodgates and sends on an electric message to the back of the brain where our vision is centred.”

Behind me, in the dark of the cave, golden wind scuds silently hurry, making my shoulders shudder. They trickle down into my hands like melted cheese. Jag grab the wind firmly and bend it towards my mouth; its surface seems to be covered in a million microscopic volcanic eruptions, regurgitating insights. I bite off a piece and the silvery smoke curls around my tongue like a snake, leaving a coating of liquid gold. In my memory, Midas sits on the throne in an empty palace. Before him stand statues of men and women, petrified and gilded, the one more grotesque than the next. He stares all day at the most horrifying of them, Damodice, whose golden nails clawed our her eyes under the pain of death. When he is reached by the message about the liquid gold, Midas immediately rushes down to the mouth and collects the gold in his pockets with his bare hands. He carefully sorts out the silvery pieces of smoke and carries his harvest back with him to the palace. In the laboratory stands a man in a golden coat with outstretched arms and his mouth wide open in panic. Midas walks past him and empties his pockets in a golden bowl.

His experiments go on for a thousand years. He cuts his toenails and throw them in, cuts his eyelashes and throw them in, mixes in his own blood, empties all the golden bottles of exotic herbs and elixirs in the whole lab, but it just layers and sinks to the bottom. He smears Damodice in the liquid gold, reads all the prayers and enchantments there are, but to no avail. He beats his head bloody against her chest and fall down on golden marble in a deep sleep. I lose my grip on the memory of Midas; it’s like a piece of soap made of shadows. What was the insight, I wonder, and did he ever grasp it?

The lecturer now presents a picture of a brain in a vat.

“The grey matter surrounds the central components of the brain. Emotions, ranging from good to bad, flow in rivers through this area and this is also where the memories are stored, the library if you will. Different regions have different functions, one part, for example, deals with interpreting signals from the hands and an adjacent area deals with coordinating hand movements at a higher level than the reptile brain. In order to deal with complex tasks the grey matter is large and wrinkled up to fit more webs of nerves. At the tip of the brain, farthest from the spine, we find the pre-frontal cortex, which is unusually large in humans. The highest-level connections are processed here, including things like long-term planning and personality. This broadcast was brought to you by…”

The dream gets blurry. Dawn awakes me; red-gold tendrils of warmth kiss my bare skin. The city lights in all their brilliance can’t compare to the eternal fire. I remember seeing that presenter in an online ad yesterday, but I can’t seem to reach and fully grasp that memory. I photosynthesize in the sunshine and spend the morning in contemplation. I had jumped from project to project ever since I learned to jump, but I had never felt so strongly as I do now that I know what to do next.

We don’t all have to believe in the same thing. Some want to join large organizations and some want to rule the world, but everything comes down to what happens on your journey in each specific encounter with the universe and its inhabitants. There are no permanent courts or permanent laws, but there are also fewer abstract reasons for committing crimes. The crimes that are still being committed are usually to do with love or sudden emotional acts. It’s best to stop a crime before it happens, through education, discussion and negotiation. When it does happen it is likely that the people immediately affected will again first try to negotiate the consequences and attract the attention of others if that doesn’t work. The consequences are not predetermined and who will make the decision is not predetermined either. If a lot of people get involved and there is major disagreement, things could get ugly, but this is rare in comparison with the institutionalized violence of the past.

Philosophical background

Thoughts appear to be different from the electrochemical activity of brains, but this is only because ‘brain’ is a concept based on how it appears from the outside while ‘experience’ is a concept based on how the same thing appears from the inside. All activity in the brain leaves traces which steer the activity in the next present. We can call this cause-and-effect or dependent-arising.

Our experiences have value when seen from the subjective perspective. From the outside we see flows of chemicals in the nervous system, from the inside we think and know and feel. It is only at the point where particles and waves interact with our nervous system that they have value to us. It is only during this brief moment that they belong to us, that they are our own.

Our experiences only exist in the present but time is nothing other than movement. The Earth rotates at a predictable speed and by extracting the concept of ‘day’ from its context we get an abstraction of motion to which we can relate other movements. Each abstract day is identical to the next and we can divide it into 24 identical parts. Hence I’m able to say I’ve been working for five hours.

Property is a fantasy wherein we equate external objects to things that are our own. To think like this you have to consider yourself essentially disconnected from the material environment. This creates an abstract link connecting a person to a thing. Capital is the further abstraction that connects the person to a property value. The state is also a further abstraction from property, if by state we mean something based on territory, which could not exist without the idea that territory can be owned as property. The language of the state makes this clear as it relies on categories like ‘legal subject’ and ‘private property’ and property that is owned in common by several subjects.

From the delusional relationship between person and object that is called ownership, we also get ownership of wives and children. When even men become property we call it slavery. Historically, this was probably made possible by being motivated by racism very quickly after private property was invented. However, the idea was probably used to connect a personal soul to ownership of individual animals like cows and horses, meaning the enslavement of humans came after the enslavement of other animals. This type of personhood, I believe, is about 7,000 years old. Because private property is merely an appeal something real has to be added for it to be realized. In the modern state, the legal property is enforced by armed police and military.

This culture has been practiced and indoctrinating humans, but the perhaps first comprehensive description of property was delivered by John Locke who considered the world a plentiful gift from God to men (there were admittedly much fewer men at that time). Consequently, men are free to take what they want as property. Whoever spends their energy on getting something is allowed to use it, destroy it or give or sell it to another person. But if I stick a shovel in the earth, does that really give me a right to the entire planet? If value is determined at the moment of experience, then I have no right to claim ownership over external objects that only suggest potential value.

Other people have questioned the concept of property for thousands of years, but the one who came closest to a solution was Karl Marx. He describes capital value as resulting from an isolated causal link between human willed experiences and human willed labour and that therefore humans should only value the energy output, not the objects they pour it into.

Aristotle said that justice is proportional to the whole and Immanuel Kant said: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” However, that’s practically impossible unless the rule is maximally vague and Aristotle also said that if something is indefinite its rule is also indefinite. Capitalism tries to commodify all labour, but it doesn’t necessarily reach completeness. If society and value are open-ended, insofar as the universe is practically infinite from our perspective, then no law can be sufficient. And if there is no free will and if humans are not the only ones who have experiences and if it’s at root the experiences that have value, then value is not limited to human willed labour proportional to the whole of society. The value of each currency is relative, but only because each currency (like pounds, dollars, bitcoins) in itself is finite.

However, a lot of people hoped and still hope that Marx was right, partly because there is no other alternative. This is how we must understand the different feelings of anti-leftism, injustice, confusion and hopelessness that characterize society after the failure of the global communist revolution, in stark contrast to the successful national-liberal revolution that so recently overthrew aristocracy.

An experience is personal because it is the subjective perspective, but we have to look at experiences in context and consider all flows of energy involved, without presuming a restricted system. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can all be traced back to the Big Bang. I can experience the energy flows from my unique vantage point, but I can’t break the laws of causality and change the flow. Things accomplished through my labour are not ultimately caused by me and so I can’t claim them as my own. It might be possible to determine nervous activity in detail, but considering the tiny scale of the details of each brain and the things that interact with it we can at best make a very inexact comparison between experiences. I can never feel your feelings from the inside perspective, but I can see similarities between us that lead me to believe that you do have feelings similar to mine. I don’t have anymore right to being happy than you do, but if we cooperate we can help in making each other happy.

In one sense, we are all alone. In another, we are all connected to everything. We are nomads of the universe. I have a unique perspective of the universe, but I can move and change it. I can change my environment, I can plant seeds and transform trees into buildings. Together we can play MMORPGs.

All identities are theoretical because they isolate a specific trait from its context. In reality no two things are completely identical. Of course we rely on making assumptions, e.g. if a stone is falling towards you, you move, because you assume it will continue towards you, but it’s not always that easy. Let’s take a more complex identity as an example. If people treat you like a ‘woman’ and/or assume you will behave in certain ways or have certain physical qualities, and you don’t want them to do so, it can be difficult to deal with that. You could change your body or dress like a ‘man’ or change the law to use the police to force people to treat you as a ‘man’, and that might work in practice, but it doesn’t remove the underlying generalizations.

As I mentioned above, time is abstraction of motion. We find an aspect of a movement and remove the differences to generalize repeated identical cycles. Similarly, the brain categorizes knowledge by comparing phenomena in a network to generalize away the differences and link isolated aspects. Even just counting relies on this system. I can only have ‘2 apples’ instead of ‘1 apple and 1 apple’ if I ignore that the two apples are not identical and only compare specific aspects out of context. Each apple is unique and should perhaps have its own name; when we speak of ‘apples’ we make a generalization which simplifies matters and makes everything more practical. But as is clear in the case of selling fruit for gold, this simplification can instead accumulate problems.

When we identify ourselves with a nation, religion or organization we reduce ourselves to an aspect of ourselves taken out of context. The bureaucracy in relationships must reflect this and not stretch to generalizations, prejudice, guilt by association, honor by association etc. or allow members to pull out in line with agreements on specific aspects. A person representing another person is not identical to that person and must be restricted to certain similarities, given authority only according to the shared conditions and be subject to retraction should the representation overextend the identical mandate.

Logical deduction concerns only identical statements out of context. The conclusion says nothing other than the premises taken together. The conclusion is true if the premises are true. Whether the premises are true or not requires looking at them in context. All words are defined using other words, meaning they are all relative to each other. The nervous system consists of a network of neurons. Knowledge is relative. The premises of all conclusions ultimately come into this system though our senses. We can judge whether there is internal inconsistency, but we can’t judge the worldview as a whole. You may see the universe as upside-down compared to me, but if at the same time I call up north and you call down north, then it doesn’t matter in practice. What the universe is objectively like is beyond a subject.

Most or all of what I’ve written has already been said before, e.g. the same ideas about the unique, association, property and legal rights are found in Johann Kaspar Schmidt’s The Ego and His Own. I’d like to finish with a quote from Nagarjuna’s The Fundamental Verses of the Middle Way. Note that the “objection” is very similar to what Schmidt wrote, as if his book had been anticipated by 2,000 years.

“{10} For one who entertains the proposition ‘the mover moves’ and looks for the motion of a mover, it follows that there is a mover without motion. {11} In fact, if the mover moves, two motions follow: that by which the mover is called ‘a mover,’ and that by which a mover then moves.

{12} Motion does not begin in what has already been moved, nor does it begin in what is not moving, nor does it begin in what is currently moving – where then does it begin to move? {13} Prior to the beginning of motion, there is neither the ‘current moving’ nor the ‘prior moving’ in which motion might begin – how could there be motion in what is not yet moved?…

The ‘beginning of motion’ and the ‘ending of motion’ are to be analyzed the same way as motion…

{18} To say ‘The motion and the mover are the same’ is not correct. However, to say ‘The motion is other than the mover’ is also not correct. {19} If the motion were the mover, then the oneness of the one who acts and the act itself would follow. {20} But if a distinction is made between the mover and the motion, then there would be motion without a mover, and a mover without motion…

{22} The mover does not make the motion by which the mover is called ‘the mover’ since he does not exist as ‘a mover’ prior to the motion…

Thus, a motion, a mover, and the place of the motion are not found…

An actor is dependent upon an action, and the action proceeds dependent upon an actor… From this dependency we should grasp the abandonment of the ideas of ‘actor’ and ‘action’….

Objection: {1} Some say that whatever has seeing, hearing, and the other senses and also feelings and the other mental components exists prior to these things. {2} For how can there be seeing and so forth by a nonexistent entity?…

Reply:… {5} Someone is manifested by some feature, and some feature is manifested by someone. Without some feature, how can someone exist? Without someone, how can some feature exist?…

{8} If the same one is simultaneously the seer, the hearer, and the feeler, that person would arise prior to each one of these, and this is not admissible. {9} But if the seer is one, the hearer another, and the feeler a third, then when there is a seer there may also be a hearer, and there would be a plurality of selves.

{10} In addition, a prior entity is not found in the elements out of which seeing, hearing and so forth and feelings and so forth come. {11} If the one to whom there is seeing, hearing, and so forth and feelings and so forth is not found, then they too are not found.

{12} For whomever there is nothing prior to, nor simultaneous with, nor after seeing and so forth, such fabrications as ‘is’ and ‘is not’ are abandoned…

Self-existence is non-produced and not dependent upon anything else. {3} In the absence of self-existence, how can there be ‘other-existence’? For the self-existence of another entity is called ‘other-existence…’

To say ‘It is’ is to grasp for eternal permanence. To say ‘It is not’ is to grasp for complete annihilation. Therefore, the clear-sighted should not adhere to either ‘It is’ or ‘It is not.’ {11} For the claim ‘Whatever exists through self-existence does not not exist’ entails the view of eternal permanence. The claim ‘It does not now exist, but did exist before’ entails the view of complete annihilation.

From the stilling of the sense of ‘self’ and ‘belonging to a self,’ one is free of the ideas of ‘mine’ and ‘I’. {3} One who is free of the ideas of ‘mine’ and ‘I’ is not found. In addition, one who sees someone as ‘free of mine’ or ‘free of I’ still does not see correctly [when you’re thinking that it’s the ‘I’ that you’re free from, then you’re still not free from the ‘I’]…. afflictions arise from thoughts that make distinctions between entities. These thoughts come from projecting distinctions onto reality. But such conceptual projections cease through emptiness… When the domain of thought has ceased, then what can be named has ceased. The nature of all things is, like nirvana, unarisen and unceased…

{9} The characteristic of what is actually real is this: not dependent upon another, peaceful, free of being projected upon by conceptual projections, free of thought that make distinctions, and without multiplicity. {10} Whatever arises dependently upon another thing is not that thing, nor is it different from that thing. Therefore, it is neither annihilated nor eternal. {11} Not one, not diverse, not annihilated, not eternal – this is the immortal teachings of the buddhas, the guides of the world. {12} When the fully-enlightened buddhas no longer appear, and when the disciples have disappeared, the knowledge of the solitary buddhas will come forth without a teacher.”

Nagarjuna says that the self is not distinct from movement and thus not a separate entity in the universe. We’ve created delusional categories and projected them onto the world. He sees the material world as a total illusion while I rather see it as a distortion of reality. My solution is to deal with problems as close to the situation as possible without pre-empting the solutions through categories like gender, race, species, nation-state, criminal, boss, owner etc. Local, near in time, near those immediately involved, these goals coincide with Colin Wards description of anarchism.

Instead of bosses associated with overarching authority and inflated status there are administrators, coordinators, logisticians and human resource specialists who handle the communication between different sections of an organization without thereby being seen as sitting higher up in the hierarchy or having power over the different sections. This is reflected in anarchist federalism.

My situational ethics can aslo be found in Sartre and Heidegger. In addition, Aristotle’s “practical wisdom” is very close to comparable concepts in Nagarjuna’s writings.

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