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Old 06-08-2017   #1
The Crawling Chaos
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Topic Nominated The cyclical nature of the cosmos (headed for a new Dark Age)

Wondering what your thoughts on the following are.

Recently I was talking to a friend who had been reading some ancient Greek philosopher's works and was amazed at how relevant his writings were, even for our time. Social issues, economy, knowledge of sciences and the world... Everything in that 2000+ years old book was still relevant and mostly accurate.

The conversation led us to wonder how and why such enlightened people had not been able to become even more enlightened and save their civilisation from destruction.

Every civilisation that has preceded us, no matter how advanced, wise or knowledgeable they had become, eventually succumbed to another and disappeared.

This got me thinking... Just like the youngster lives recklessly, unaware of his or her own mortality, a lot of us harbour the strange belief that even though those great civilisations from the ancient past disappeared, our own civilisation could one day achieve absolute enlightenment and preserve itself from death.

There is this idea that we can keep growing and growing until we have unraveled the mysteries of the universe and achieved immortality and all-knowingness...

And yet, this seems to ignore everything we know about the nature of the very universe we sprouted from, where everything works in cycles: Matter coalesces until it is dense enough to form stars that eventually burn out and collapse onto themselves. Orbits, seasons, days, tides. Landmasses rise from the ocean to one day be submerged again. Continents drift apart to one day collide and become one again. Even on the greatest scale of all, some physicists speculate that the Big Bang wasn't the first Big Bang, and that the universe's expansion will grind to a stop and trigger a Big Crunch or a Big Rip, which will lead to a new Big Bang, and so on.

That giant ballet of galaxies, stars, planets, mountains rising up and collapsing seems to be the one thing that ties it all together. Nothing is infinite, everything rises and falls and rises again.

And this fundamental law seems to apply just as much to the cosmic scale as it does to the human scale. One only needs to look at our recent history to notice that it is futile and absurd to believe that we can somehow remember our past and use it to change our destiny. And so WWI, the "War To End All Wars", was followed by more wars that are bound to be followed by more wars.

The mistakes that we had sworn never to repeat again seem to repeat themselves anyway, just as inevitable as Winter follows Autumn and precedes Spring. For every action, a reaction. We know more than ever, but everything we know is being questioned and reconsidered by ever louder revisionists. Negationists deny the reality of the Holocaust, despite all the evidence, paving the way for more holocausts to happen. Flat-earthers are more vocal than ever. The more precise NASA's instruments become, the more they are accused of falsifying their pictures. The more secular our societies become, the more they are targeted by the actions of religious fundamentalists. And Trump, unsurprisingly, was picked as the answer to Obama (regardless of ideology and their respective successes and failures, what I'm getting at is that a president that was well-read, pro-choice, pro-equality, pro-health is followed by one who is ignorant, pro-life, misogynistic and bigoted, pro-money).

And so it seems to me that the idea that this Age of Information will somehow lead us to achieve greater and greater things until we reach a state of "Absolute Information", some sort of singularity, and effectively become god-like entities who travel the universe and know how to cheat death in a world that has been rid of all its evils is the greatest fallacy of our time. Because the light will never completely destroy the darkness (and vice-versa): A brighter light only casts deeper shadows, and deep shadows can only exist when contrasted with a bright light.

The darkness of the Dark Ages is only vanquished by the light of Enlightenment long enough for people to grow weary of it and champion the return of the Dark. And the signs are here, all around us, that our civilisation's apex is behind us, and the Dark is on its way back.

People, just like Nature, just like the universe, abhor Stagnation. Change is the nature of the universe, and just like the brightest day is always followed by the darkest night, our Age of Enlightenment can only lead to a new Dark Age. Cycles. Everything works in cycles. Such is the will of the cosmos.
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Old 06-08-2017   #2
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Re: The cyclical nature of the cosmos (headed for a new Dark Age)

Some day, this will all be gone. It is outside the scope of human experience, generally, to think this way. Because the human lifespan is so short when compared to cosmological time, in other words, how long the machinations of the universal forces that shape galaxies, stars, black holes, the formation of planets, etc., take to create this cosmic "reality", it is nearly impossible for most people to think on that scale. These "realities", as theoretical as they may be, are reinforced by what you are taught, images you see through a lifetime, and through the sensory input of the human body you experience these "realities" through. We are essentially a flash in the pan of existence, although we struggle to find meaning to attach to this experience we call existence. I believe that one of the reasons cosmic horror, Lovecraftian or otherwise, resonates with so many people is that the forces that shape the cosmos are so universally misunderstood and profoundly out of our control that it renders so many humans paralyzed and frustrated with uncertainty.

There was a time when all this was not here, and there will be a time when it is gone. Consolation can be found in the fact that it is highly unlikely that this "termination" will occur within our lifetime, or for that matter, that of any person living today. Again, the scope and magnitude of the cosmological clock dictates this reality, which again, provides a certain amount of comfort to many or most. But someday, even though it is obviously likely to happen long, long after the occupants of this planet and all that are yet to be born are dead for aeons, that all that will remain of this planet and this solar system will merely be particles drifting in the seemingly infinite void of space, as the forces of the universe create to destroy, and destroy to create.

I am not sure of a lot of things, but of this, I am sure.

I tell you everything that is really nothing, and nothing of what is everything, do not be fooled by what I am saying. Please listen carefully and try to hear what I am not saying. ~Charles C. Finn

Last edited by Ascrobius; 06-08-2017 at 12:23 PM..
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Old 06-08-2017   #3
The Crawling Chaos
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Re: The cyclical nature of the cosmos (headed for a new Dark Age)

Thank you for your reply. While I agree with everything you just said, I believe your message slightly misses my point - or perhaps you were just saying that this whole conversation is futile because of our short existence? - and maybe I need to make my thinking clearer:

I was only using the examples on the cosmic scale to demonstrate that this universe is cyclical in nature, and that gives me a reason to believe that everything in it (including something as short as a human life, or the entire history of a civilisation) must answer to the same principle.

Without getting into reflections on what might or might not happen in millions or billions of years on the cosmic timeline (of course, we and all we ever were will be blinked out of existence by the cosmos), I was simply looking at the near future, let's say the next century, and saying that based on everything we have observed so far, there are no reasons to believe that we will ever amount to anything more than all the civilisations that came and went before ours, and that the next step for us (the "westernised world", if you will) is not further enlightenment through the gathering and sharing of information, but rather a new Dark Age brought about by an over abundance of information.

I'm curious to read other examples or counter examples to that theory.
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Old 06-08-2017   #4
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Re: The cyclical nature of the cosmos (headed for a new Dark Age)

You can call it cyclic--that's accurate enough--but I think of it in terms of limitations.

Human nature is limiting. All things, including civilizations, have a more or less predictable life span. Degeneration, death--entropy in general--are limitations we can't escape. Over the long run, human limitations predict our behavior. We can invent pretty philosophies, political systems, religions, but in the end they change nothing. The end is always the same.

I suspect the New Dark Age Lovecraft seemed to predict has already begun. Things like New Age nonsense, death cults, psuedo-science religions, the slow death of literacy and history--they're already here.
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Old 06-08-2017   #5
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Re: The cyclical nature of the cosmos (headed for a new Dark Age)

We are heading for a new dark age because it would take more collective effort for our species not to.

'I believe in what the Germans term Ehrfurcht: reverence for things one cannot understand.'
― Robert Aickman, An Essay
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Old 06-08-2017   #6
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Re: The cyclical nature of the cosmos (headed for a new Dark Age)

P. T. Barnum?

P. T. Barnum and Jenny Lind?

I could use a Lindsey Bar right now.

Mr. Barnum and those two one-armed jugglers, the Ego and the Id:

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Old 06-09-2017   #7
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Re: The cyclical nature of the cosmos (headed for a new Dark Age)

We should also remember that for every Dark Age a new Golden Age is to follow. That, too, is part of the cycle.

Our age is considerably better off than previous good ones. Despite plenty of thorns in the road, we've managed to build up on some the knowledge acquired centuries before. There is no reason to doubt future ages will do better than us once they crawl out of our ashes. I also agree that grim times are ahead, specially now that we have the power to destroy our species, or at least set it back for thousands and thousands of years.

I personally suspect that the entirety of time has already played out, and past and future coincide in the present moment. All the stars that had to burn have already burnt. All the civilizations that had to rise and fall have already risen and fallen. It is just our linear perception of events, perhaps the result of our primitive nerve system, that limits our view. I have this opinion just based on my very own experiences with precognition, although there might be plenty of other explanations. Of course, I cannot prove any of this, I'm just reporting. These kind of experiences are always subjective.

As for the future of eternal life that Transhumanism promises, this idea that we will become technological gods with in-app purchases inside our brains, that is hubris. And like all forms of human hubris, its quest will only result in death and lunacy for the ones involved.

Anyway, people die...
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Old 06-09-2017   #8
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Re: The cyclical nature of the cosmos (headed for a new Dark Age)

Quote Originally Posted by Karnos View Post
I personally suspect that the entirety of time has already played out, and past and future coincide in the present moment. All the stars that had to burn have already burnt. All the civilizations that had to rise and fall have already risen and fallen. It is just our linear perception of events, perhaps the result of our primitive nerve system, that limits our view. I have this opinion just based on my very own experiences with precognition, although there might be plenty of other explanations. Of course, I cannot prove any of this, I'm just reporting. These kind of experiences are always subjective.
At the risk of derailing the thread 24 hours after it was started, I would like to know more about your reasoning and what you mean.

Do you then believe that causality is an illusion? If the only thing that tells me that I'm holding this apple after picking it up a second ago is a flawed perception of an event that was played out in its entirety (the apple growing, ending up on my table, me picking it up, holding it, eating it) and simultaneously before I even perceived it to happen, does that mean that picking up this apple is not what led it into my hand?

While this is certainly an entertaining thought, I also think that if past, present and future (linear time) are simply a byproduct of our limited perception of the universe, then nothing can ever exist, because things cannot "happen" in a vacuum, freed from the shackles of linear time. So there can be no life, no gravity, no planets or stars without a timeline created by past events leading to the present and further on, to the future.

I believe linear Time has to exist as a dimension outside of our perception, and the direction of its "arrow" is dictated by the direction our universe is expanding in, not our brains. If the universe were to collapse back onto itself following a Big Crunch, time would play out again in a reverse direction (i.e. we would be born out of a grave and die crawling back into our mother's womb).

Curious to know what you think of this.
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Old 06-09-2017   #9
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Re: The cyclical nature of the cosmos (headed for a new Dark Age)

Quote Originally Posted by Ascrobius View Post
There was a time when all this was not here, and there will be a time when it is gone. Consolation can be found in the fact that it is highly unlikely that this "termination" will occur within our lifetime, or for that matter, that of any person living today. Again, the scope and magnitude of the cosmological clock dictates this reality, which again, provides a certain amount of comfort to many or most. But someday, even though it is obviously likely to happen long, long after the occupants of this planet and all that are yet to be born are dead for aeons, that all that will remain of this planet and this solar system will merely be particles drifting in the seemingly infinite void of space, as the forces of the universe create to destroy, and destroy to create.

I am not sure of a lot of things, but of this, I am sure.
It's also possible that the way the universe seems to us (i.e. cold, dark, empty, meaningless) is not in fact what it actually is, or that our basic assumptions about ontology are inaccurate. A good example of this would be Islam being "true" in a sense that supersedes all other ontological claims. I certainly don't THINK this is the case, but I can never be certain. Another possibility is that our "reality" is in fact some kind of game or training ground that our real selves (whatever they are) have chosen to enter for some reason. "Death" might in fact result in some kind of absurd outcome that is currently unimaginable to us, but will make perfect sense when it occurs. If this is the case, I don't know anything about it, but I'm also not willing to idly dismiss it. In any case, we can't really say much about existence, since our idea of it is really just limited to our own acclimation to our sensory perceptions. When we say something like "time," we're just describing the way that events seem to follow on from each other causally (except, notably, when they *don't*, as in certain drug experiences). We can't really say much about what "time" might be outside of our perceptions, even if we invoke relativity and cutting edge science.

If bets were placed, I wouldn't be surprised if "what's really going on" is something that would be either unimaginable or utterly ridiculous if someone tried to explain it to us. For example, cause and effect might not actually work the way it seems to us. From some outside perspective, this forum might have "always" existed, or even caused Ligotti's existence rather than the other way around. Or, what we think of as "the laws of physics" might be the equivalent of some kind of technology on a scale we can't really understand, or for some purpose we're not privy to, in the same way that the bacteria in our intestines presumably aren't aware that they're contributing to a bipedal ego unit with political opinions.
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Old 06-09-2017   #10
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Re: The cyclical nature of the cosmos (headed for a new Dark Age)

Quote Originally Posted by The Crawling Chaos View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Karnos View Post
I personally suspect that the entirety of time has already played out, and past and future coincide in the present moment. All the stars that had to burn have already burnt. All the civilizations that had to rise and fall have already risen and fallen. It is just our linear perception of events, perhaps the result of our primitive nerve system, that limits our view. I have this opinion just based on my very own experiences with precognition, although there might be plenty of other explanations. Of course, I cannot prove any of this, I'm just reporting. These kind of experiences are always subjective.
At the risk of derailing the thread 24 hours after it was started, I would like to know more about your reasoning and what you mean.

Do you then believe that causality is an illusion? If the only thing that tells me that I'm holding this apple after picking it up a second ago is a flawed perception of an event that was played out in its entirety (the apple growing, ending up on my table, me picking it up, holding it, eating it) and simultaneously before I even perceived it to happen, does that mean that picking up this apple is not what led it into my hand?

While this is certainly an entertaining thought, I also think that if past, present and future (linear time) are simply a byproduct of our limited perception of the universe, then nothing can ever exist, because things cannot "happen" in a vacuum, freed from the shackles of linear time. So there can be no life, no gravity, no planets or stars without a timeline created by past events leading to the present and further on, to the future.

I believe linear Time has to exist as a dimension outside of our perception, and the direction of its "arrow" is dictated by the direction our universe is expanding in, not our brains. If the universe were to collapse back onto itself following a Big Crunch, time would play out again in a reverse direction (i.e. we would be born out of a grave and die crawling back into our mother's womb).

Curious to know what you think of this.
There isn't any deep reasoning, other than these precognitive events I have from time to time (they are, in fact, getting more frequent) and my meager attempts to understand them. If we can dream/see/think about the future, then, at least some form of it exists already and somehow it filters itself back to our time. It is solely a suspicion of what might be going on.

It could be anything, really. de Chardin's Omega Point dreaming itself, perhaps. Or probably electrochemical brain farts.

But just to entertain a thought, I guess if all time exists already, you could see it the way a novel or short story is written. Everything is contained within the text, you can jump pages, go forward or go backwards and double check to see if everything remains the same. If there is an illusion of linearity it is only because you're reading the text as such. I suppose that, if everything is already laid out, then maybe God, or something, does exist

I try to steer away from the philosophy of causality as a reality carved in stone because, other than bare, objective, measurable events (the collision of particles, you hitting me, cloud formations, etc) any grander metaphysical reasoning becomes a complex game of logic, with very consistent internal laws, but no real validity outside of an academic paper or philosophy book. There is no way to really say any of these things are a fact for sure, and the best way, to me at least, to express these ideas is solely through aesthetic means. In the end, for the average person, nothing changes if the future is fixed or not. You still need to wake up early, drive to your work, get the bills paid and sort your own little tragedies down. In my case, a degree of insanity would be necessary to just throw things away, to heck with it all, and indulge in my pleasures, since "everything is fixed already".

I agree with everything Justin wrote above. I've been thinking about some of these things for a while, but there is no way that I know of to be sure of anything. It all seems like an entertaining thought experiment.

Anyway, people die...
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I am simply an accident. Why take it all so seriously?
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