The Erosion of Perception
‘Not the body but the soul becomes the subject of techno-social domination.’
Modern technological societies are creeping more and more into a form of abstraction. This has been officially labelled as the ‘erosion of the collective perception of objective facts.’ I call it the continuation of the consensus reality meltdown (CRM) – and because of it many people are feeling increasingly distanced from their actions and dumbed to their responsibilities.
We witness the unfolding disturbances and unrest that erupt across the globe, in our nations, and within our own communities, and yet we gaze upon them with a sense of the surreal – we are unable to fathom what is truly unfolding around us. Our customized bubble of perception-protection is morphing and wobbling, and we struggle to form a sense of meaning from it. Many people are suffering from cognitive dissonance even though they may not know what this phrase means – yet they are experiencing it with increasing frequency. Things are no longer adding up, as they say – although this has been the case for a long time, and now many are on catch-up. It is as if we have become abstract players within a kind of simulated game – we are being moved across the gameboard as we sit back and passively watch from our armchairs.
We have moved into the realms of abstractions. Many of our symbols of connection are now digitally mediated through social media. Our sense of reality is being processed through the expanding bubble of the programming puppet called the information sphere – the infosphere.
The world we know is mutating into an infrastructure run on programmed information. A world of separate, processed information and objects – of abstract ‘things’ – is trying to merge with our collective mind. It is the action of a collective, field-like mental pathogen.
There is a sense that a certain rootlessness has crept into the world – a rootlessness of frantic uncertainty mixed with desperate tech-salvation. Things have become more liquid-like as older, established social forms are dissolving faster than new ones can replace them. What we have now is not yet able to form or hold its shape. It feels as if there is a rising confusion entering into the world reality-bubble. Many people are not really sure what’s going on ‘in’ or ‘with’ the world – and no one is telling us anything.
Our social and political systems seem so full of abstract madness partly because they have lost their relation to anything tangible or remotely truthful. So many of us are now rushing just to stand still. The writer Elias Canetti recognized this situation – he wrote – ‘A tormenting thought: as of a certain point, history was no longer “real.” Without noticing it, all mankind suddenly left reality; everything happening since then was supposedly not true; but we supposedly didn’t notice.’[i]
We have hardly noticed that we now live surrounded by a connective mindset that has yet to be transformed into a collective intelligence. Being connected means we can be marshalled and herded into collective thinking that goes along with the consensus, dominant narrative. Nowadays it is called ‘correct thinking’ – whatever that may mean. Yet it is an effective means of targeting consensus behaviour at the same time as suppressing alternative ideas. It is now becoming endemic in our social media. Rather than to be visibly seen to destroy such ideas it is often easier, and more effective, to discredit them, along with the speaker(s). As is well known, each culture seeks to promote and condition those ideas which support and maintain its legitimacy. What each society fears is a flight from their dominant worldview. The mental pathogen that represents this dominant narrative will try out all sorts of manipulations and maneuverings to maintain a social consensus, despite the present fluidities. The contemporary person today exists under this collective norm, and in order not to ask too many questions they are provided with a life of increasing abstraction and distraction. As the philosopher Chantal Delsol says – the modern person ‘seeks a predictable, ready-to-wear kind of happiness at a bargain price.’[ii] Unfortunately, that kind of social happiness no longer comes at a bargain price. Adhering to the new programmed reality will come at a heavy cost to individual freedom of perception.
Social intelligence now means the capacity to see the collective ‘consensus mind’ for what it is. The grand system is pushing for greater automation of human social life, and this includes all thinking patterns too. Increasing abstraction in the machinery of social life brings us greater automation. As Elias Canetti said – all of a sudden, we left reality, and everything happening since then is supposedly not true. The symbols of this abstraction are getting stronger all the time. One of the great symbolic forms is our economic exchange – money. Money has been an object of abstraction for a long time. When such processes as the financial system become abstracted into the intangible then they are ripe for automation. The move into a cashless economy and into digital cryptocurrencies is one example of this.
The infosphere, the modern mediascape, and now the digitized economy, are forming the new conglomerate of an abstracted reality. They are like ghostly realms that subject us to ever more new forms of power relations that will become standardized. As the Italian philosopher Franco Berardi says, ‘Financial abstraction is based on the faceless operativity of automatisms embedded in soulless social dynamics. Nobody is really in charge; nobody is making conscious decisions.’[iii]
We are perhaps not making the conscious decisions, but some type of mind certainly is. Franco Berardi warns us by saying –‘Not the body but the soul becomes the subject of techno-social domination.’
The virus we need to watch out for is one that dominates our thinking and programs our perceptions. It seeks to spread across the globe through countless societies and cultures. It turns our debt into a weapon to keep us in line so we cannot speak out against the mental domination. The new incoming worldview that will replace our current collapsing reality will use symbolic forms of power – such as health, security, economy – as tools for our psychic and social suppression. As the Italian journalist Ezio Mauro puts it:
‘I am indebted, I am dependent upon images and concepts. I am a customer-citizen: indeed, a consumer. I buy and receive ideas pre-processed and broadcast in forms that are functional to someone else’s narrative. I am not required to make any sort of effort in exchange for waiving my right to any form of autonomy…I am unable to give shape to a worldview. Eventually, I will not even have an image of myself in connection with others.’[iv]
Is this not how the mental pathogen sees us – sees itself? We are being maneuvered into giving away our rights to create our own worldview. We must do something about this before we become mentally enslaved to an abstract view of the world, and of reality, that is not of our own making. Soon, we will forced into accepting a replacement consensus reality that will be highly dangerous to our lives as independent, free-thinking individuals.
Seeing the issue does not let us off the hook. On the contrary, it only marks the beginning. Knowing the situation, and realizing its urgency, is the beginning of our work, not the end.
It’s time to become aware of what’s happening right now. It is time to gain a clear vision – free from societal programming. It is time to acknowledge our wounds in order to find our healing. It is time to turn to ourselves. As the indigenous people of Bioko like to say – ‘Let us get nearer to the fire, so that we can see what we are saying.’
The fire now burns strongly from within us.
[i] Taken from his collection of personal writings from 1942 to 1972 called The Human Province.
[ii] Delsol, Chantal. 2003. Icarus Fallen: The Search for Meaning in an Uncertain World. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, p214
[iii] Berardi, Franco. 2015. AND: Phenomenology of the End. South Pasadena, CA: Semiotext(e), p338
[iv] Bauman, Zygmunt; Mauro, Ezio. 2016. Babel. Cambridge: Polity Press, p74-5