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Newton was an alchemist. Napier a numerologist. Kepler an astrologer. And Giordano Bruno — Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s poster child martyr for scientists persecuted by irrationally superstitious and corrupt institutions — was an occultist.

The esoteric, the obscure, the fringe, the poetic, and the spiritual permeate the human intellectual landscape, both in the humanities and the sciences1. It’s a major motivator for intellectual investigation. When we come to that epiphany, realizing that our discovery affirms an underlying structural unity of the universe — an instantiation of the beauty of asymptotic change, or fractality, or symmetry, or equilibrium, and that laws seem to be baked deeply into the cosmos — it’s that realization, that glimpse for the mind’s eye, that causes within us a response of such dopaminergic climax and sense of profundity that even the most passionate session of lovemaking pale in its comparison.

To paraphrase the sentiment of a Gnostic text:

Sophia -- whose name means Wisdom, and who was God's divine co-equal and mother of Lilith -- was of such immense transcendental beauty and presence, that God, in his jealous love of her, covered her in the body-cloak of non-existence, never to have her name uttered, so that no mortal could look upon and covet her.

But how does one hide something so omnipresent as **Wisdom**? He thus inverted the *Tree of Life*.

The classic problems of the human condition, too, continue to motivate the scientific mind: the quest for eternal youth and immortality, for man-made sentient creature to aid us in our labors, for a Utopian society / Cornucopia where all resources infinite and people are thus (supposedly) happy, for whether there exists a substance that can turn into any other substance, for whether beings of similar intelligibility with us humans2 exist on other worlds or planes of reality, or for whether super-transcendent intelligence(s) have had some role in the creation or maintenance of our universe.

Whether a Renaissance natural philosopher is using alchemy to derive the philosopher’s stone, or a modern nuclear chemist is trying to miniaturizing nuclear transmutation for 3D-printing, quests of the above type are our intellectual motivators. But there is a tendency in our supposed post-“Enlightenment” climate of scientific and rational rigor to ignore, berate, or at least attempt to justify in some secular sense, a scientist’s interest in these bizarre Occultish ideas that go against the the Enlightenment model of scientific inquiry. In doing so, however, we ignore the underlying unity and composability of human abstraction: fundamental convergences of ideas that refer to the same higher principles of, i.e, symmetry, or man’s place in the universe — missing out on the shoulders of giants to stand on when probing these abstractions qua their nature as abstractions.

The notion that the universe is a hologram, as a theory, is but a drop in the ocean compared to the layers of emanated simulations, embedded virtualized realities, and multifaceted avatarism described in the Bhagavad Gita.

As any good scientist and mathematician knows, the process model-building to make sense of data is as much of a creative process as composing music or writing literature. Thus, could such pre-modern ideas of spiritual, religious, and esoteric origins offer insight into human abstraction qua abstraction, regardless of discipline? Would this enable greater fluidity between abstract ideas of different disciplines? Is there a kind of primordial ontological map of abstract concepts that construct any given discipline?

Often, too, we berate and ridicule these historical quests because of its supposed espousal of pseudoscience or dogmatism, only to be pursuing the same thing in our time. The quest for strong AI, is basically the modern version of the quest for the homunculus, or the Talos, or the Golem — we use Sci-Fi metaphors these days — basically, a man-made fully sentient being. A large part of AI’s history is already pockmarked by ebbs of disillusionment with the entire project because of grandiose promises, and putting our eggs in the dogmatic basket of a single technique like Symbolic AI. Since the AI Winter however, we’ve made some advances in pattern recognition and predictive feedback-control systems — often by using a connectionist correlation model called Artificial Neural Network — but there’s no reason to assume that Neural Networks / Deep Learning techniques will lead to the emergence of artificial sentience (the prerequisite for strong AI), or even that they’ll actually end up solving our hard pattern recognition problems.

While statistical correlation models have been used successfully in recommendation systems, fraud-detection systems, feedback-control systems, and beating world champions at Chess and Go, correlation models are what make superstition, popular horoscopes, pseudoscience, and popular delusions possible in the first place.

My point here isn’t that Artificial Neural Networks aren’t significant or hasn’t contribute to scientific understanding — after all, alchemy and herbalism have contributed to hard scientific understanding of chemistry and medicine — it’s that there’s a lot of “black magic” voodoo involved in Deep Learning that future historians may dismiss this current Renaissance in AI to be nothing more than hyped, superfluous pseudoscience.

That which constitutes our scientific and intellectual validity is always historically, socially, and politically determined, and always from the vantage point of the hindsight inherited from our intellectual forebears.


  1. CF. “Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can. Because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” – [Carl Sagan] (https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Carl_Sagan#Cosmos:A_Personal_Voyage.281990_Update.29) 
  2. I refrain deliberately from using “intelligent life” here. Assuming humans are even to be considered “intelligent”, the Earth has its share of intelligent life that we haven’t cared much to enter into meaningful dialogue with. 

MmeEAscii_Blue2

Madame Einzige: A Thematic Outline (Part 1/2)

Introduction — “Ex Nihilo”: Origins in European Nihilism — The Banality of Evil — Germany: Unified, Conquered, Divided, Occupied — Germany: The Legacy of the Statist Frankenstein —

(Written by Ismael Sarepta)

Madame Einzige is an upcoming philosophical epic Cypherpunk novel series, drawing from the author’s intense research of political science, technology, computing, philosophy, psychology — in which historical pattern is combined with speculative imagination, into a prophetic synthesis.

It is a novel series, where religious theocracies weave technologies of virtual-reality, cyberspace, and mass surveillance into State-wide system of totalitarianism, in order to magnify the holy and majestic feelings with God and Clergy;

Where disenfranchised, disillusioned, cyber-prosthetic U.S. veterans violently take up arms against a government that failed to re-integrate them into society, and failed to uphold the American values they risked their lives for;

Where socially neglected computer nerds and failed upstarts realize themselves as the medium through which democracy may defend itself — through hacktivism, and going beyond mere website vandalism to do it and discover the political empowerment of the personal computer.

[Caption: Disenfranchised young U.S. Veterans throwing away their medals during protest. Historically, discharged war veterans that have failed to be re-integrated into society have been the first to organize revolts against the State. Will the same happen to the United States in the 21st century?]It is a novel series where occult-obsessed mathematicians and computer scientists crunch combinatorial sets and sacred permutations in order to develop algorithms for self-aware, disembodied Artificial Intelligences that instantly prophecize the future from petabytes of mined Informatics data;

Where war vets and megalomaniacs form Private Military Companies, offering their services to dictators and warlords, and are paid in land, market-monopolies, drugs, and an exploitable labor force;

Where certain corporations, under the guise of faux-humanitarianism and anti-piracy (and knowing that most piracy actually takes place outside of Western nations), attempt to replace the personal computer in developing countries, by selling mass, nationwide Cloud-computing, Mainframe-like networks to these countries, enabling their governments to data-mine the Cloud for anyone deemed a dissident, criminal, revolutionary, or spy–

[Caption: Topological Map of the “Backbone” of the Internet (click to enlarge, PDF) — how much is humanity’s presence on the Web an accurate portrayal of us? How much does your online presence accurately portray you? Can the sum of humanity’s recorded interactions with a computer really be used to predict our future?] 

Madame Einzige is epic storytelling in which reality and art, analysis and imagination, science and mythopoesis, narration and reporting, blend seamlessly together for the Zeitgeist of the Third Millennium.

Art imitates life: life imitates art.

“Ex Nihilo”: Origins in European Nihilism

The origins of our protagonist, our Cypherpunk (anti-)heroine take us to the very beginnings of this postmodern era of Pax Americanaour era, following the Second World War, defined by the political and cultural ascendancy of the United States, and prevalence of what we have come loosely to understand as “free market capitalism” and “democracy”. The origins of our Cyberpunk protagonist take us to the Climax of Europe’s collective paranoid angst — that is, the Two World Wars — that angst that unwitting drove Europe’s hegemonic, imperial, nationalistic, war-hawk path to self-destruction.

[Read more]

Wrote another reply to another interesting question on Tumblr–

antigravity000:

What might the cultural and religious emphasis of the Moon for Middle Easterners (Arabs) and the Sun for Europeans suggest about the growth and development of these people? Or does their reverence of one over the other (Sun vs Moon) demonstrate differing psychological growth, a different geographical, evolutionary development?

Historically in the Middle-East, the Moon was closely associated with the female monthly cycles, and pregnancy and fertility. The pre-monotheistic traditions emphasized the Moon’s direct magical role in these things as the astrological agent that caused the female cycles, and the Moon was regarded as a deity. This gave birth to the anthropomorphicized versions of the Moon, and their subsequent cults — Inanna (Sumerian), Ishtar (Assyrian-Babylonian), Ashteroth (Levantine), Anahita (Iranian). These cults became extremely powerful in the Middle-East, until the rise of Abrahamic Monotheism.

The Moon’s “unpredictable” nature, seemingly self-guided movements (relative to the sun and the seasons, at least), and its strange psychological affects on people  during a full moon, was understood as something completely defiant / opposed to the Sun cults that tended to emphasize a male Sun God.

You also had female cults of death that emphasized the Moon — Moloch (male god, Levantine), Ereshkigal (Mesopotamia), Allat (Arabia — part of the pre-Islamic Arabian “trinity”). Sometimes, these deities were invoked during ritual infanticide, usually performed by mothers who couldn’t support the baby.

The whole Moon-Female-Cult religious complex tended to stand opposite to Sun-Male-Cults of Marduk, Ashur, Ahura Mazdah, and Yahweh (Bible), who wanted to impose regularity, patriarchy, legal order, and the establishment of priestly class.

In the Bible and the Qur’an, there is a lot of admonishing of these cults. The Bible curses the cult of Ashteroth (Moon-matriarch-fertility cult), and the Qur’an does the same with Allat (or “Allah’s daughters”) and ritual infanticide.

Actually, Abrahamic-style monotheism, with its emphasis on a male god, law, light, and regularity, can probably be seen in the bigger picture of history as a direct Patriarchal reaction to these female-Matriarchal-dominated “Lunar” spheres of religion.
Patriarchal reactions aside though, there’s tons of Moon imagery across the board in Middle-Eastern mythos, especially in post-Pagan scripture. Judaism’s calendar uses both the Sun and Moon, and the Islamic calendar is purely lunar. Islam also adopted the Crescent as its symbol, but this is actually a much more recent development (~200 years) (Judaism also didn’t really settle on its use of the Star of David/Seal of Solomon until around that time.)
As for evolutionary development peculiar to Middle-Eastern peoples — and I think you and I seem to share similar views on human evolution (mine isn’t really a “view” per se, it’s more of a pretty damn strong hunch) — the fact that there is a Sun vs Moon conflict in Middle-Eastern religious-mythological complex might be demonstrative of something shared bio-psychic among the people. Perhaps, it’s related to an inclination and susceptibility for intense spiritual experiences, vivid imaginations, charisma, prophecy…? But in the Middle-East, historically (and right through to present day), there’s also a great respect for science, precision thinking mathematics, problem solving, wisdom, rational thought, etc., so that the mutual exclusivity between religion and science, mysticism and rationality, doesn’t really exist like it does in the West. Very hard to say on this question of evolution. Perhaps it’s just symptomatic of the holistic embrace of the Sun vs. Moon mythos — being at ease with dichotomies happily co-existing… Just floating this here, though.

^ Not a definitive answer, but worthwhile to consider.

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