Holding the Meta
I just got back from the cottage and feel refreshed. Going for a late-night run soon.
I am fully moving my daily writings here on Substack, so you no longer have to click on the link to read the full letter. I will eventually archive them on a personal website.
June 24, 2020
There is a sense that things are metabolizing. I am currently at my cottage, which is a two hour drive north of Toronto. It was a spontaneous decision to come here and I might be here just for the day. The pretense was that I wanted to escape the city, but I really wanted to escape myself.
I just came back from the beach, and the waves were wild, and the water was cold, but I was called to jump in anyway, because I wanted to escape. The jolt of aliveness I experienced when the waves crashed against my body, and throwing me wherever it wanted to throw me, is just what I needed.
I was absentminded coming up here and I forgot to bring my bag that had all my supplies, which was annoying for a brief moment, but I like being annoyed by inconveniences. An opportunity to practice my Stoicism. I am also writing this on Camille’s laptop, which is an awkward experience, because it is a PC and not a Mac, and I forgot what PCs were like. Another opportunity.
I am drinking bad coffee right now, and the Stoic in me is having way too much fun with all these opportunities. I paused from writing this to look at Camille, who is outside enjoying herself listening to a podcast, and getting some sun while feeding peanuts to chipmunks. This is very calming to see, and I am very calm at the moment, but I am thinking about the meta-crisis, which might be the ultimate Stoic opportunity.
While up here I had the thought about writing a book. I received two book deals after I wrote my culture war white paper, but it did not feel aligned to accept them when I received them. I feel more called to write a book now though, but probably on a different topic. This title feels alive: Being a Stoic During the Meta-Crisis.
I am fond of this meta-crisis term and my sense is that it may be good to popularize it. I am currently defining it as the ecology of existential risks and suffering risks we are collectively facing, coupled with our inability to collectively dialogue about it. This is the essence of trying to scale the dialogos project: for us to get into deep dialogue so we can figure this shit out together.
To get a sense of how serious things are this short video about the doomsday curve from the Lifeboat Foundation comes to mind. To quote the video description: This video documents that the percentage of humanity it takes to kill all of humanity is decreasing over time and soon a small group of people, or even a single person, will be able to threaten the survival of humanity.
Fuck. That is not a pretty thought. Nick Bostrom's writing on existential risks isn't pretty either, neither is Shoshana Zuboff’s writing on surveillance capitalism or Borja Morja on data dictatorships. Or what Eric Gara calls the traumacene: our current epoch where the nidus of our deep alienation and atomization is our accumulating trauma.
All of this is part of the ugliness that is the meta-crisis. I do not know enough about their politics or methods to be in official support, but I do resonate with the aim of groups like Effective Altruism and Extinction Rebellion. Beyond whatever flaws they have, they seem to be wanting to address the meta-crisis, and addressing the meta-crisis is a politics I can get behind.
Instead, we have culture war noise. When I go on Twitter I see the dead bodies of cancel culture piling up. Cancelling people is not going to help solve the meta-crisis, nor is it going to address the issues it is ostensibly cancelling people over: racism, sexism, anti-semitism, and all the other isms that are important to care about.
I enjoyed Jordan Hall’s recent video on what he is calling the mind virus. He is talking about the Blue Church, or depending on your current reality tunnel, maybe it’s woke neoliberalism, or what Moldbug calls The Cathedral. Whatever you want to call it, most people know what it is. This Borg like hive mind, backed by institutions and corporations, demands that we conform to a certain woke narrative, or else we get cancelled.
Jordan talks about the countervailing reactionary force that is responding to this mind virus: the deplorables, the manosphere, the alt-right, the neoreactionaries, the dissident right, etc. Alt-centrist movements, like the Intellectual Dark Web, tried to “hold the center” between these polarizing extremes, but it was a thankless task. The woke labelled them grifters, dogwhistlers or gateway drugs, and the reactionaries labelled them cucks, shills, or pressure valves.
Jordan is not a centrist though, and neither is the sensemaking web a lot of us meta weirdos are in. The thing I like about this scene is the ability for a perspectival pidginism to take place, and the capacity for perspectival code-switching. The memes we speak are too weird for the polarized sides to grok, which gives us some cover.
I sense it is more important to “hold the meta” because the meta is where superordinate memes can be born, such as the meta-crisis. If these memes become more popular maybe they could help to reduce culture war noise and shift our collective focus towards getting into dialogos about the existential and suffering risks we face.
Cancel culture might come for the meta eventually, so maybe we need to come for it first. I am going to pivot now and finish the “graphic article” I am co-creating with Lubomir Asrov. It is about the Cancel God.
Gift Economy / The Stoa currently operates through a gift economy. We are offering the Stoa as a gift, for people to freely use during these troubled times. If you are inspired to provide a gift to The Stoa, email thestoa at protonmail dot com. Your gift can take the form of money, support, services or ideas. If you wish to gift money, you can do so here or here for ongoing gifts. If you would like to gift directly to our lovely facilitators and featured sensemakers visit this page.