Hearing the Music Part 2

Tomorrow’s events:

  • Collective Presencing w/ Ria Baeck. Every Friday @ 7:30 AM ET. RSVP here. 90 mins.

  • The Hollow w/ Bonnitta Roy. October 9th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th. 10:00 AM ET. RSVP here. 90 mins.

  • Collective Presencing w/ Ria Baeck. Every Friday @ 12:00 PM ET. RSVP here. 90 mins.

An event to get excited about:

  • The Problems with the Sensemaking Scene: Imagining Beyond the Echo Chamber w/ Ellie Hain and Tarn Rodgers Johns. October 28th @ 12:00 PM ET. RSVP by clicking the image below.

Two insiders in the ‘sense-making scene,’ Tarn and Ellie, will discuss the good and bad of the scene, along with presenting fresh ideas and pathways for how to reimagine the current conversation.


October 22, 2020

We had an interesting session on Tuesday with my boy Tyler Alterman, called “The Dawn of the Metatribe,” and it was inspired by a tweet thread of his, where he gives an ethnography of a term I spoke about before called the metatribe.

A definition from Tyler:

The metatribe is neither nihilist nor locked onto an ethical system. It has political opinions without being left, right, or center. These opinions are provisional, nondogmatic, but strongly investigated, so metatribers often appear to be "heterodox" or "Chad centrist.”

For some reason I want to giggle like a dank meme-informed schoolgirl when I see the phrase Chad centrist. 

Tyler continued his thread with: The metatribe is an inevitable reaction to postmodernism and globalism. As the world fractured into a million narratives, the mind still strove for integration. 

Anna Gát wrote a good article called We’re a Niche, We Just Didn’t Know, where she introduced what she called the inter-intellect, which is similar to this metatribe thing. This article inspired its own digital campfire, that focuses on conversational salons. An inter-intellect according to Anna is:

The I.I. is people coming together online and thinking about more organized forms of exchange, collaboration, and a new type of IRL. It’s a matter of identity to some of us. Encounters have changed lives and careers…

I had a good talk with Anna last year about this. I have been intending to visit their digital campfire, and invite Anna to ours as well. Feeling their digital fire from afar I get that their vibe is different than ours, and it seems to attract a certain crowd, aka start-up socialites who are intellectually curious. I will be checking them out tomorrow to get a sense of what they are doing.

In my recent Weird Stoicism entry, I wrote where I vibe and do not vibe with various memetic tribes, and the metatribe session with Tyler did feel somewhat masturbatory, as it was total insider baseball on obscure internet cultures, and I was not vibing with that. 

That being said, I did enjoy the session, as it inspired many thoughts, and my lack of vibing could simply be due to my sensitivity to the other people in the Zoom room who had a “wtf is going on here” face. 

Tyler asked me how I saw the various memetic tribes associated with the metatribe in relation to one another. In that Weird Stoicism entry, I mentioned the top memetic tribes I vibe with, and I want to muse here on how I see three of them that can interface with each other. The three I will discuss are: Game B’ers, metamodernists, and postrationalists. 

We can make the distinction here between the type of people who are attracted to each memetic tribe and the vibe associated with them, and the actual propositions and methods of those tribes. I am going to discuss the latter in this entry, and see if I can get them to play with one another.  

Game B’ers are informed by complexity science, systems thinking, and game theory. They provide a high-level understanding of “what is,” aka “Game A,” and “what could/should be,” aka “Game B.” The former is on a self-terminating path (aka the meta-crisis) due to two “generator functions” of Game A. To quote Daniel Schmachtenberger: Rivalrous (win-lose) games multiplied by exponential technology self terminate.

Also from Daniel: if we are gaining the power of gods, then without the love and wisdom of gods, we self-destruct.

The idea is that we need to collectively phase shift towards a new game, Game B, where we will have what Daniel calls an “omni-win civilization,” that is to say a civilization that benefits everyone involved.

I see the whole Game B thing as a nerdy instruction manual, to describe where we are and where we need to go. Reading this instruction manual does provide existential hope, but it does not provide instructions on what the bridge from Game A to Game B will look like. 

Enter the metamodernists. Brent Cooper distinguishes between a “Dutch School” and the “Nordic School” of metamodernism, and it is the latter that I often refer to here, which is the school our buddy Daniel Görtz (aka one-half of Hanzi Freinacht) is pivotal in creating. As Brent writes: The Nordic School emphasizes developmentalism and political evolution. 

While a large segment of the world still resides in a pre-modern worldview, our workplaces, universities, and those who can influence the noosphere via broadcasting platforms, are situated in a modern worldview, and increasingly a postmodern one, which is what the “Culture War 2.0” term is talking about.

While the few of us in the metatribe, or “sensemaking web” are aspiring towards a metamodern worldview, we have not arrived there yet. We are currently geeking out on the ideas of the meta-systematic builders, such as the ones who are speaking at the “Sensemakers in Residence” series at The Stoa, and we at The Stoa are all recovering from the existential anxiety that comes from this multipolar culture war we are in.

This is related to “the postmodern condition” that Jean-François Lyotard wrote about back in 1979. What we have now is what he called petits récits, or little narratives, but as I wrote about before, these little narratives are becoming very demanding, and have been weaponized. They become weaponized by turning our minds and bodies into weapons. 

It takes a meta perspective to float above all of this, to see all those little narratives, or memetic tribes. This is like seeing all of the “blind men” touching that elephant. If we can start to vibe with these blind men, then we can start speaking with them, and if we can start speaking with them, we can start to feel what they feel: this is the way we get to understand the elephant.

It is probably fair to say, using Ken Wilber’s AQAL model, that Game B’ers are playing in the IT and ITS quadrants, while metamodernists are playing in the I and WE quadrants. I sense the bridge from Game A to Game B is the one that allows us to level up to the metamodern worldview.

The question now: what is the bridge to metamodernity? There is a big chasm between modernity and metamodernity, and it is postmodernity, or to be more uncharitable: this post-truth wasteland, where all of these memetic tribes are egoically battling to capture the metanarrative. This is the liminal we are in right now, or as what I called before: the liminal war. Things get pretty weird in this state, and the “great weirding” term from Venkatesh Rao is very fitting for this. 

Enter the postrationalists. To understand the postrationalists you will need to understand the rationalists. Rationalists are like the New Atheists, in that they are both atheistic and they dig reasoning well, but their focus is not combating religious “untruths,” like New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins aggressively do, or how the street epistemologist do but in a friendlier way. 

The rationalists, whose main home is blogs like LessWrong, podcasts like Rationally Speaking, or places like Center for Applied Rationality, are all about cultivating the skill of rationality in order to apply it to everyday life, and they do a beautiful job at this. I love these people, but to be honest, once you reach a certain degree of rationality, it gets pretty boring, and kind of creepy if overused.

Venkatesh Rao coined this cute term called the “rationalitycalypse,” to refer to all different schools that “yes/and” rationality, or what I referred to in a Letter exchange as the “rationality-and” schools: The three active schools—post-rationality, para-rationality, and meta-rationality—are associated with Sarah Perry, Ventakesh Rao, and David Chapman respectively.

The stuff I love about these rationality-and schools, especially with Sarah Perry’s (who is coming to The Stoa soon) and Ventaskesh Rao’s stuff, is how playful they are with their ideas. I took the Ribbonfarm course on writing last year, and it was a brilliant course. In that course they talked a lot about listening to the daemon (Ventaskesh has even been referred to as a “daemon whisperer” before) and Sarah had this comment on interestingness I really loved, and I am paraphrasing:

It is better to be interesting and wrong, than it is to be right and boring.

I really love saying this, because it triggers the shit out of rationalists, New Atheists, street epistemologists, and Intellectual Dark Web types alike. An opportunity for them to practice their Stoicism. In the previously mentioned Letter exchange I elaborated on how I hold that phrase:

The idea is this, if you prioritize interestingness over accuracy, it frees you up to explore. As I write about a topic I often do not have the resources or time to determine if something is 100% accurate. Of course, I do not want it to be inaccurate, and I’ll make efforts to prevent this but I’d rather spend my limited time as an intellectual hobbyist engaging in interesting "daemon" inspired speculations. Doing so may inspire more scientific minds to engage in the rightness/wrongness of that idea in the future.

The uninteresting aspect of the whole rationality-and scene for me is the cutesy and masturbatory vibe they have, which feels like they are conveying the following: please do not take me seriously, and this is what their “insight porn” term is gesturing towards. I speculated that this skill-set of generating insight for its own sake can be repurposed towards solving the meta-crisis:

At my more speculative, and here is where I think my resonances lay, I think the post-rationalist skill-set of generating interestingness for its own sake is a skill-set that can be repurposed towards solving our greatest challenges. 

And this kind of insight pornographic masturbating can be seen as a practice for lovemaking with reality: 

I’d be surprised if some evolutionary biologist hasn’t claimed that masturbation evolved for us as practice for sex. That’s how I view the evolutionary function of post-rationality. The skill-set of insight generation for its own sake is good practice, but I think it has to grow out of the realm of masturbation and into the realm of lovemaking.

It is time for us to move away from “insight porn” and start having “insight sex.” 

Enter The Stoa, and us Weird Stoics. As Tyler mentioned in that metatribe session, The Stoa seems to be the only space where the three above-mentioned tribes are interacting. I agree with that, and we also have representatives from many other memetic tribes as well. We are going to have every memetic tribe in the noosphere eventually come here. And the consistent thing I hear, when people visit us, is that they had a blast. Why?

Because we are having conversations here like people have never seen before. 

Simply put, no other digital campfire is doing what we are doing here. Not Interintellect, Rebel Wisdom, or Justin Murphy’s IndieThinkers. That is not to say they are not doing good work, it seems like they are, but I do not see the memetic diversity that is happening here happen anywhere else.

And it is happening here in an embodied way. We are not just sensemaking here, but we are being “senseful” as well. I had to pause writing this because the “High Pitch: Conversations in a New Key” session started. It just finished. 

It was a conversation with some of the senseful ladies at The Stoa: Bonnitta Roy, Nora Bateson, Ria Baeck, Miriam Mason Martineau, Schuyler Brown, and Ece Utkucan Anderson. I felt very embodied listening to them speak. I was turned on, switched on, and plugged in. This is exactly the type of conversation that The Stoa should “hold space” for. I sense the divine feminine, along with all the holy sluts, will be finding their way to The Stoa soon. 

So yeah, I do vibe with Game B’ers, metamodernists, and postrationalists, but it is time to integrate their wisdom, and their vibe, and sensemake our way forward, and do so sensefully. 

The Game B’ers have shown us where we are, and where we need to go. The metamodernists have shown us that in order to get there, we need to develop both as individuals and as a society. The postrationalists have shown us the limits of rationality, and how to be daemonically playful with ideas in a way that offers us delicious insights. Now, using the wisdom from these three tribes, it is time for us to become embodied.

I lost my mind on April 20th, and I had visions that day, and most importantly I saw something with so much clarity. I saw beauty, and I saw it with my heart. On that day I wrote:

I love you. I love you. I love you. I will be here, as long as I am needed, and no longer. The age of memetic tribes is over, and the age of embodied tribes is here. And I am making this declaration with so much joy: the Stoics have officially entered the liminal war.

I do not know what is happening here, but something is happening here. It is like the daemon got bored with all of these memetic tribes not talking to each other, so he decided to hijack the body of a Stoic, and forcefully throw him in the liminal war.

There is a daemonic vortex around this space. I feel it now. It is very weird, but it is also very beautiful. This is why I am not afraid anymore. I have already heard the music, and it was beautiful. I am ready to hear it again.