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With Strength I Burn
02-02-2010, 10:40 PM
Imagine a demon offering you his powers. If you agree to his offer, you may forget your name; the transitional phase is obviously beyond anything "we" humans have experienced, but by enduring this uncertainty, you will become something better than Cthulhu, Dr. Manhattan (Alan Moore's Watchmen), or any entity of man's conception. One can hope his or her continuity of perspective isn't disrupted too much. This question brings forth many ontological implications.

YouTube- Solar Fields - The Road To Nothingness
YouTube- Forgotten Land - In The Caves of Enceladus

Edit: Had too many videos and I feel as if I emphasized on the wrong aspect of post-humanism.

Steve Dekorte
02-02-2010, 11:26 PM
.. by enduring this uncertainty, you will become something better than Cthulhu, Dr. Manhattan (Alan Moore's Watchmen), or any entity of man's conception. One can hope his or her continuity of perspective isn't disrupted too much. This question brings forth many ontological implications.

What's remarkable to me about these views of transcendence is that they tend to be rooted in are normal sense of body and connection to the physical world as we commonly perceive. Nothing at all like TL's icy transcendence which disassociates from these notions and enters into the realm where notions like space, scale and identity look like so many bubbles on a foaming ocean of information or static on a television tuned to a non existent station. To me, TLs fiction is special in that he alone (AFAIK) has described these places beyond identity.

With Strength I Burn
02-03-2010, 12:26 AM
.. by enduring this uncertainty, you will become something better than Cthulhu, Dr. Manhattan (Alan Moore's Watchmen), or any entity of man's conception. One can hope his or her continuity of perspective isn't disrupted too much. This question brings forth many ontological implications.

What's remarkable to me about these views of transcendence is that they tend to be rooted in are normal sense of body and connection to the physical world as we commonly perceive. Nothing at all like TL's icy transcendence which disassociates from these notions and enters into the realm where notions like space, scale and identity look like so many bubbles on a foaming ocean of information or static on a television tuned to a non existent station. To me, TLs fiction is special in that he alone (AFAIK) has described these places beyond identity.
Your comment reminds me of my favorite Ligotti story "A Soft Voice Whispers Nothing":

"I remained ever awake to the possibility, as my young mind conceived it, of an 'icy transcendence'" (137).

The metaphysical lecture also conveyed the sense of limitations in one's sensuous representations and thought:
"To know, to understand in the fullest sense, is to plunge into an enlightenment of inanity, a wintry landscape of memory whose substance is all shadows and a profound awareness of the infinite spaces surrounding us on all sides. Within this space we remain suspended only with the aid of strings that quiver with our hopes and our horrors, and which keep us dangling over the gray void..." (144).

You are correct. I believe I emphasized too much on the post-humanist aspect of transcendence.

I edited my original message in order to better reflect this 'icy transcendence'. I added two videos which capture this feeling.

Steve Dekorte
02-03-2010, 03:16 AM
I edited my original message in order to better reflect this 'icy transcendence'. I added two videos which capture this feeling.

Thanks - great videos. I particularly like:

YouTube- Solar Fields - Dust

qcrisp
02-03-2010, 06:50 AM
This is an interesting question.

I'm not sure that there's a choice, though. I mean, it depends on the kind of transcendence, probably. If it's 'post-human' transcendence of the technological and genetic manipulation kind, then there's a theoretical choice. In a sense, though, 'post-human' is a misnomer here, since what this really means is humans trying to control their own evolution. The entire agenda is human.

If we're talking about the complete transcendence sometimes delineated in the tales of Ligotti, then - if this is a reality - then presumably it's inevitable. It comes when the puppet master tires of the particular puppet that you imagined yourself to be.

From a more neutral point of view, transcendence of some kind seems likely, in that matter apparently cannot be destroyed. Things simply change form. (We don't know what consciousness is yet, I don't think, but we can at least conjecture that if matter cannot be destroyed it's possible that consciousness cannot, either. I believe Shelley said that it's infinitely improbable that the cause of mind is [as complex as] mind, but if we're dealing with things that are unvarying in their quantity - mass, energy - then why shouldn't mind be unvarying in the 'quantity' of complexity? If mind has something to do with information - not sure it has - then perhaps information, like mass and energy, may also be a constant.)

Of these three concepts of transcendence, the last is the most attractive to me. It's not much different to that featured in Ligotti's stories, except that in his stories transcendence always implies consciousness suffering nightmare. We don't know that that is how it will/would be. It could well be the end of the nightmare.

I think the 'post-human' vision is odd in that it is an attempt to limit natural transformations (the great transformer being death) whilst at the same time appearing to be a pursuit of transformation. It is the smaller transformation of the merely conscious within the larger transformation of the unconscious. It seems like a kind of coagulation that must, eventually, be dispersed.

(PS. I'm not sure that complexity is a quantity, actually, but information tends to be treated as quantifiable, so if this is constant, and if complexity is the arrangement of information, then the potential complexity of all things is constant.)

Evans
02-03-2010, 07:23 AM
...you will become something better than Cthulhu, Dr. Manhattan (Alan Moore's Watchmen), or any entity of man's conception...

There is a very important point I think anyone faced with this choice better enquire about. Who and or what defines this "better"

Because if this better is defined by something which has reached this level of transcendence then it not look better to us. I may not be such a great one for this as I suspect my way of looking at things is very from the Ligottian fashion. ( I can do the self and each other part, it's any other aspect of the material world in between I'm not so certain off.)

qcrisp
02-03-2010, 08:38 AM
...you will become something better than Cthulhu, Dr. Manhattan (Alan Moore's Watchmen), or any entity of man's conception...

There is a very important point I think anyone faced with this choice better enquire about. Who and or what defines this "better"

Because if this better is defined by something which has reached this level of transcendence then it not look better to us. I may not be such a great one for this as I suspect my way of looking at things is very from the Ligottian fashion. ( I can do the self and each other part, it's any other aspect of the material world in between I'm not so certain off.)

In a sense, this is what The Shadow Over Innsmouth is all about. The twist at the end is simply, but still retains its fascination. It's not dissimilar to the theme of Bowie's, Loving the Alien. "Believing the strangest things..." etc. You see the same theme in the seventies version of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, too. This question, even today, is where the 'cutting edge' of horror remains: What's it like to become the thing you feared?

Evans
02-03-2010, 09:00 AM
Hmm afternoon Quentin

The differance I can see with the Innsmouth instance is that the casual observer could see the "benifits" of becoming a Deep One (I.E. vastly extended life and experiences).
Possibley I am looking at it in the wrong way, the impression I've got from this topic is that the notion of how the change is better would only be comprehendable to those who had already taken it.
Neither party could fully contemplate the puzzle in question because both are part of it. (perphaps you would get the ironic situation were to human expectations the unhuman state was infinaterly preferable but to the alien expectations the human state was the desireable one)

Sorry if that came out massively jumbled.

For the sake of my answer to the topic's question I'm going to assume this transcendence as the exchange of the earthly "self" as it were for the powers of sense and perception increased to points we couldn't even contemplate in our current state and something of greater control over the states of the universe (be they physical or higher).

Hildred Castaigne
02-04-2010, 01:26 AM
Transcendence is something after which I had almost physically sought in my youth. I was desperate to move beyond this veil of tears, as they say and embrace the real behind the real. Now, I am given to see that the offering demon actually hails from the netherealms of my own consciousness( in my case, all the more reason not to be trusted). The Offer therefore is just another way for my imagination to trick me into forgetting that this life experience is all there is and will ever be for me. It seems to me that the true revelatory experience or transcendant moment occurs when we find ourselves fully conscious in the moment, free from the corruptions of fear or desire. How could such a thing be rendered a tangible or at least qualitative commodity to parcelled out to people? I have my doubts that it could or even should be. Indeed, I have abiding suspicions about anyone or anything in a position to grant so tantalizing a boon. If we cannot ascend on our own, we are merely being carried along and thus not truly in control.

In other words, I'd accept transcendence, but reject the offer.

(imagine, billy batson telling shazam to go get bent, then running off to read his goldenbook copy of nietzsche's beyond good and evil)