#10: An example of acceleration: books

It will be objected that the web of language means words in fact have very high density, all of them having so many plugs in common. But the error here is to suppose that all words exist at all times in some ether. The density of words is potentially extraordinary, but only if they are mobilized. Thus, a tome of philosophy is capable of formidable density—for those who can, with the author, mobilize the whole web of words into and out of which the tome plugs, a book is capable of possessing a mass that literally exceeds that of the Earth. Any honest intellectual will not only testify that it is truly possible for a book to move the Earth, but moreover that the experience is easily understandable as one of acceleration, exactly what the model here suggests. How else has this outstanding and almost unbelievable capability of words, this power that a highly evolved social system has made sure to reveal only to an extremely small intellectual aristocracy and only after its members promise not to share the secret—how has this capacity of words ever been satisfactorily explained?

Had humans ever once in their whole history developed word-things with a greater mass than the whole ensemble of things that generated humans, the ensemble of things would select against it. How? It is the image of a philosopher who forgets to eat because he or she cannot stop writing. Who would seek to produce word-things of such mass, at almost any stage of human history, would literally die trying. For most of human history, the selection pressure or mass of things overpowering the centrifgul tendency of word production has been directly and brutally “natural.” Vital needs easily hold it back. Today, when vital needs, for some, have been taken care of in certain regions of the world, and information technology makes word-production unprecedentedly cheap, it is actually possible to write books that would destroy the whole world as we know it. But through a complex evolutionary history we will try to trace, evolutionarily-selected and highly massive things called ideology remain to prevent human societies from destroying themselves in this fashion. However, as civilization approaches other potentially catastrophic pressures on the horizon, the mobilization of word-mass into the overhaul of things now encounters selection pressures in its favor, a dynamic to be discussed at much greater length later in this work.

Thus, all things have masses and the comparison of masses explains why certain random mutations are “selected.” Ensembles with greater mass “select,” according to evolutionary theory or, in a register of pseudo-physics we could say they pull toward themselves, new things with less mass. The human is evolutionarily fit and is selected or integrated or pulled into the orbit of things preceding it because it produces a new kind of thing (maps, words) without exceeding the mass of the things that precede it. Whenever humans produce books with masses that exceed that of the Earth, the Earth literally accelerates toward the book, a previously ineffable experience to which any honest philosopher can testify. However, the specification and distinction of particular ensembles characterized by variables of mass is itself subject to selection pressures or relationships of force.

It is only possible at any particular time to distinguish ensembles in a way that is evolutionarily fit. This accounts for what is called ideology or false consciousness, because a priori there is no essential necessity sanctioning a conceptual organization of the world that is merely evolutionarily fit at a particular, contingent point in natural history.

Cite this post: RIS Citation BibTeX Entry

Murphy, Justin. 2012. "#10: An example of acceleration: books," http://jmrphy.net/blog/2012/07/30/28361296582/ (October 17, 2017).