Randonauting Towards an Existential Eucatastrophe
Trauma Mapping W/ Nathan Vanderpool. April 7th @ 12:00 PM ET. RSVP here. 75 mins.*
*Schuyler Brown, who was originally scheduled to be with Nathan tomorrow, will have her own session in May.
An event to get excited about:
Stealing the Culture with Dialogos: Being a Man W/ Jack Donovan, Ole Bjerg, Cadell Last, and Nina Power. April 13th @ 12:00 PM ET. Patreon event.
This multi-perspectival conversational combination is one you will only see at The Stoa. Past guests—Jack Donovan, Ole Bjerg, Caddell Last, and Nina Power—return to The Stoa to engage in a dialogos about being a man. Like previous “Stealing the Culture with Dialogos” sessions, this one will be significant for the noosphere.
April 6th, 2021
It uses a quantum random number generator that gives you coordinates to a random destination point in your area. Before you generate coordinates, you set an intention of some sort, and the idea is that your intent interfaces with the app in a way that leads to interesting coincidences. It has been known lately for creepy coincidences, ever since a group of teenagers in Seattle came across a dead body in a suitcase using the app.
On the Randonautica website, they introduce the philosophy of “Noveltism,” which is the philosophy of the app: Novelty is a treasure. Novelty shows us the way beyond the imaginable and opens up new possibilities for us. The one who possesses novelty becomes the creator of a new reality.
Camille and I have been experimenting with the app, and it has led us to, well, random places: an empty field, a parking lot, the front of somebody's house, and a weird bird statue. I have been using it by asking it a question, then going to the destination point and trusting what emerges, and pretty solid insights have been emerging.
One of the cooler things about this is not so much the destination points, but the destination paths. The app limits your radius, to encourage exploration of your local area, and our last three trips, which were all around a 20-minute walk, have led us to streets around us I did not even know existed. It is a cool feeling, getting to feel your boring old area as a new area.
Lengfelder was influenced by Guy Debord's “Theory of the Dérive,” which was about emancipating oneself from the patterns of profane living, by randomly drifting through a city with the intent to become cognizant of our psychogeography, which is how our geographical environment influences our psyche.
According to Debord: In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there.
I have been trying to do this with The Stoa, but in the noosphere rather than city streets, hence the deliciously random feel of this place. I do think this kind of Noveltism is needed to help us imagine a new world.
Maria Clara Parente first turned me on to the term I like called “social imaginaries,” which the philosopher Charles Taylor describes as:
By social imaginary, I mean something much broader and deeper than the intellectual schemes people may entertain when they think about social reality in a disengaged mode. I am thinking, rather, of the ways people imagine their social existence, how they fit together with others, how things go on between them and their fellows, the expectations that are normally met, and the deeper normative notions and images that underlie these expectations.
Maria makes the argument that it is in our social imaginaries where we have a chance to change things, as that is where the existential openings are. I agree. We need to start walking down different streets in our collective mind, and shake ourselves out of our algorithmic-induced profane patterns, to become hopeful for the world again.
A lot of people have told me that The Stoa has given them hope, and surprisingly allowed them to become optimistic during a pandemic, and all of its harrowing second and third-order effects. Perhaps this is because The Stoa, and its steward, are imbued with an existential hope. Yeah, I know shit is bad, but I am very existentially hopeful.
Allison Duettman, president of Foresight Institute, is also visiting The Stoa soon, to give a talk on existential hope. She calls existential hope a great “action generator,” and I agree with her. In the paper where I first encountered the term, I was also introduced to another term I quite like: existential eucatastrophe.
According to the paper, an existential eucatastrophe is: an event which causes there to be much more expected value after the event than before, and also, it is: upside risk on a large scale. It is inspired by the word “eucatastrophe,” coined by J. R. R. Tolkien, which refers to the sudden unexpected turn for the better that is commonly found in the ending of fairy tales.
What is an example of an existential eucatastrophe? The authors of the paper give a good one: the origin of life. That is indeed a good one. They argue that to address all of our existential risks—or the meta-crisis, to use The Stoa’s parlance—is to find existential eucatastrophes, because "failing to achieve a eucatastrophe is itself a catastrophe."
Maybe an existential eucatastrophe will be us co-discovering some sexy new meta-psychotechnology, or communitas, or something more surprising. My pet theory is that the meta-crisis may serve as humanity's rite of passage to become aware of itself, not in a disembodied propositional galaxy brain sort of way, but in an existential eucatastrophe sort of way.
That might be a wild thing for me to say, and here is another wild thing for me to say: the daemon, collectively followed, could lead us to socially imagine an existential eucatastrophe or two, and of course, a practice or two will be needed for this. Our old ways can only serve us so much, and practicing being random is a pretty fucking good way to find a new way.
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