|The Wisest Steel Man
||[Sep. 8th, 2012|01:00 pm]
#aristosophy and Konkvistador recently set a challenge: to steel man the Time Cube.
Steelmanning is the opposite of strawmanning. Strawmanning takes a strong opposing argument and converts it into a weaker version to avoid having to engage with the main points. Steelmanning takes a weak opposing argument and converts it into a stronger version to ensure you're engaging with the underyling ideas as seriously as possible.
No one can tell you what the Time Cube is. You have to see it for yourself.
Part One: In Starry Numbers Fitly Order'd
I want to start by placing the Time Cube within a tradition. Its fundamental point, the replacement of the single 24-hour and unitary man with with four 24-hour days and fourfold man echoes a long line of mystical interpretations of the number four.
When I was in Alabama, just outside my motel and only a few blocks from where Martin Luther King used to preach was the Church of the Reconciler, a community aimed at bringing all races closer together. Their symbol was a four-sided figure with each quadrant a different color representing one of the races of man: white for white people, black for black people, yellow for the Asians, and red for the Native Americans. This interpretation of the four races is oddly enough exactly the same as the Hopi interpretation (which they claim predates the white man and any non-revelatory way of gaining knowledge of the races existence), which is itself mysteriously the same as the Tibetan interpretation1
But the idea of the four races probably comes from the idea of "the four corners of the Earth", a phrase we still use today. This phrase no doubt shares an origin in common with the Four Archangels of Judeo-Christian tradition, with the four cardinal points of our compass, with the four rivers that emanated from the Garden of Eden, and with the motif of the four-quartered garden representing the world.
Why all these fours in symbolic geography? Most likely it's based on the bilateral symmetry of the human organism; our anatomy makes us naturally parse the world as containing a front, a back, and two sides. Since we can't fly much and can't dig much, our world contains four directions and hence four extremes. We live in a fourfold world.
"God in Human form has human limits as body controls activity...4 corner head has 1 corner face." - Dr. Gene Ray, The Wisest Human
This fourfold nature of space has given the number four a symbolic significance of representing the totality of the world. Thus, the ancients divided everything into four classic elements - earth, air, water and fire. Thus William Blake quartered the human soul, dividing it into four Zoas and declaring his purpose as being to "tell of the Four-fold Man in starry numbers fitly order'd" (see Abrahams, William Blake's Fourfold Man, for a more complete discussion of this concept.) And we would of course be remiss not to mention that the most popular and omnipresent symbol humankind has ever known is a division of the field into four quarters - I of course refer to the Cross.
Moving from the sublime to the ridiculous, what do we make of the Principia Discordia's Law of Fives? We find a hint in the Principia itself, where it discourses on the mysric significance of the number five by asking "Have you ever secretly wondered why The Great Pyramid has five sides (counting the bottom)?". Of course, most of us interpret the Great Pyramid as having four sides, and now the relationship is obvious. Five is the four corners of the world plus the center, the privileged position in which the observer herself stands. Or in the Discordian metaphor, it is the four sides of the pyramids plus the single hidden base from which they all spring2.
We find echoes of the same idea even in the more serious invocations of four we examine. To Plato's Four Elements, Aristotle added a fifth, the perfect incorruptible aether (sometimes spirit) that occupies the center position in the classical diagram (and of course we can see how spirit might represent the human observer). Blake's four zoas are transcended by Eternity, which is of none of the four but is the source from which all spring. And to the four points of the cross, mystics add the Rose of Rosicruceanism or the Circle of the Celtic cross not to innovate but to draw attention to what has been there all along: the fifth point of the cross. The center.
But who cares about all these fours and fives? What do they have to do with the Time Cube? Here we must turn again to the Principia Discordia, and in particular to the revelation of Patamunzo Lingananda: "THE TRUTH IS FIVE BUT MEN HAVE ONLY ONE NAME FOR IT."
Compare the Time Cube:
"Ignorance of 4 days is evil. Evil educators teach 1 day." - Dr. Gene Ray, the Wisest Human
Two sources that could not be more different. Why the convergence?
Part Two: The Ten Thousand Things
Chinese scriptures often speak of the Ten Thousand Things (see for example Verse 34 of the Tao Te Ching) and contrast it with the Tao. The Tao is the pure unitary mystical source of all reality. The Ten Thousand Things are the multiplicity it produces, the normal material objects we know: houses, dogs, birds, trees, et cetera. The scriptures are not meant to imply there are literally ten thousand of these things; rather, the number "ten thousand" is a classic Chinese metaphor for "many".
We Westerners are less expansive than the Chinese: where the Chinese use "ten thousand", we use "four". But the dialectic remains the same: the Eastern description of the dichotomy between the Ten Thousand Things and the Tao becomes in the West the dichotomy between the four corners of the world and what Shelley, with his poet's knack for the perfect phrase, calls The Secret Strength Of Things. For Aristotle it was the Quintessence, For Blake, it was Eternity. In the unconscious symbolism of Christianity, it is the point at the very center of the crucifix, which can be highlighted with the Rosy or the Celtic cross.
I am not the first person to think to describe the history of Western thought as a conflict between these two poles. Some people prefer to accept the world as it is with all its multiplicity. Others believe the multiplicity of the world is a false illusion, and the world has to be One at its source. Maybe the purest and most obvious representative of this second school was Parmenides, who utterly denied material reality because it contained many things and movement and change and he just knew that the Real had to be perfect. In contrast to him we find people like Aristotle, who are pretty happy among the Ten Thousand Things, cataloging them and explaining them and dismissing mysticism as the demented ramblings of people who refuse to live in the real world.
Let us call Parmenides' view Universalism - the belief that the only legitimate object of study is the undivided universe as a whole - and Aristotle's Particularism - that we should instead focus on particular things and forget about some hidden unity among them. It is not hard to draw the battle lines of this conflict: the ancient polytheists were particularists, the monotheists universalists. The orthodox proto-Catholic Christians were particularists, the Gnostics were universalists. Scientists are particularists, priests and philosophers and mathematicians are universalists.
Finally, liberals are universalists, and conservatives are particularists. This one may need some explanation - though not for those of you who have read Moldbug. The liberal project is to push the fundamental unity of mankind - to cast off all differences between white and black, rich and poor, men and women, gay and straight, patriot or foreigner, Westerner or foreigner, as irrelevant beneath our common humanity. The ultimate liberal morality is utilitarianism, which converts everything into a single common moral currency and goes from there. Although liberals are generally not in favor of world government right away, most of them admire weaker institutions like the UN and think a genuine one-world government is an admirable if somewhat starry-eyed goal. One cynic declared that the liberal project was to "eliminate all distinctions not relevant to the profitability of an investment bank", and I admire the sentiment if not the pessimism. Both Moldbug and the Discordians use the same term for the liberal project: they want to immanentize the eschaton.
Conservatives are the opposite: they think the contingent differences among people are pretty darned important. In a bygone day their motto was "separate but equal", emphasis on the separate, and that still describes their thoughts on the roles of men and women. They think conflating "gay marriage" and "straight marriage" under the generic heading "marriage" because hey, what's the difference, misses the fact that these are among the Ten Thousand Things which are actually quite distinct from one another thank you very much. They are against cultural relativism because they think the differences between the West and, say, Islam are hugely significant, and they think world government (or even strong federalism) is an unbelievably terrible idea for exactly that reason. This reaches its most extreme form in the version of libertarianism in which everyone is an atomic individual completely distinct and unrelated to anything else in the world. The Ten Thousand Things have become Seven Billion People. Whereas to the liberals there's just the One Human Race, and even trying to separate humans out from the environment is kinda pushing it3.
So who is winning the war between the universalists and the particularists? The universalists have been winning ever since Elijah threw down the various different idols and announced "The Lord is One!" When even Judaism, with its six hundred thirteen different obligations became too much for the universalists, they threw it off and took up Christianity, which nixes the Jew/Gentile distinction, prescribes a single religion for all people, and specifically places in Jesus' mouth the grand reduction the six hundred thirteen commandments of Judaism to one: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart." Finally, when religion itself became too particular, the universalists switched over to ecumenialism, best represented here by the poster on the wall of my Reconstructionist synagogue: "Paths are many, God is one". Or, in the exact inversion of Lingananda's revelation, "The truth is one, but men have many names for it." And aside from religious progress, the project of destroying distinctions between races and genders and orientations and countries seems pretty on track as well. The path that began with the Jewish declaration of the oneness of God has led inexorably to modern society as we know it4.
What is the driving force behind the universalist victory? In a word, education. Those of you who read Moldbug will be familiar with his idea of the Cathedral, the educational establishment which pushes universalist values on the population mostly by sneering at particularist ideas and declaring them obsolete so condescendingly that nobody wants to commit the social suicide involved in asking exactly why they are obsolete and who decided they should be so. This "education" consists of everything from the Sunday schools that teach the oneness of God to the colleges that teach the postmodern philosophy that everything is relative and pure opinion and that the science of boring facts and disparate "truths" should be collapsed into a the general vague fuzz of "opinion". Though the Sunday schools and the colleges may rail against each other on various individual points, as part of the general establishment they are entirely united in their support for the universalist side of the ancient dichotomy5.
Part Three: A Circle Is Perfect Unending Forever
Under what banner do the particularists and the universalists march? The cross, as we have seen, belongs to neither party; considered as a division of the field into quadrants it is particularist, considered as a central point of intersection it is universalist. Nevertheless, the symbolism of disparate movements both religious and secularist show the same two motifs appearing again and again: the circle and the square.
The circle is the universalist motif par excellence. It focuses the attention immediately on the center. No part of it is different from any other; like the universalist God, it is without parts. Indeed, it was St. Augustine who defined God Himself as "an infinite circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere." The alchemists use the similarly endless ouroboros - see for example figure c here. The more mystical and universalist branches of Christianity tend to mark their crosses with circles, like the old Celts (think Pelagius!) and the Rosicruceans. Our images of inclusiveness all involve circles - the circle of life, "inviting them into our circle", even the old classic "Let's stand in a circle and hold hands and sing 'kumbaya'". When Shelley names the Secret Strength of Things, he immediately applies it to "the infinite dome of Heaven", and Aristotle places his aether in the same spherical realm.
The particularists, on the other hand, are amply represented by the square. It captures their symbolic number four and its justification as the four cardinal points or the four corners of the Earth. When the hippies, perhaps the most self-consciously universalist movement of all time, needed a word with which they could dismiss their enemies, they decided to call them "squares". The Discordians differ only slightly; they represent the Eristics (our universalists) with the circle-symbol of the apple, but they choose the pentagon to represent the aneristics (our particularists). This is not especially odd; their choice was no doubt influenced by their own Law of Fives and by the very real Pentagon in Washington. The important thing is that it is a polygon with a particular number of sides, much like Plato's four solids had a particular number of faces.
There is another more important reason the circle makes such a powerful universalist symbol, and that is the sun. There is only one sun, and it is the source of all light, the cause by which all things are seen. It is no surprise that the first monotheistic religion, Aten-ism, was the worship of the solar disc, and the popular Discordian chant around monotheism ("There is only one God! He is the sun God! Ra! Ra! Ra!") is accurate in its symbolism if not in its theonomy. Our current crop of universalist religions may well be spiritual descendants of sun-worship (see for example Freud's Moses and Monotheism). And when Jesus discusses the fundamental unity of humankind, of course he turns to solar metaphor. Matthew 5:45:
"Be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good."
The Christ-figure of twentieth century consumer capitalism uses almost exactly the same language in his own self-conscious paean to universalism:
"There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone."
It is not only the circular sun and moon that provide symbolic ammunition for the universalists, but the spherical Earth. With all the mistakes people have made throughout history, why is "flat-Earther" a term of abuse for a particularly dumb and stubborn person? Why does the myth consistently hang on that Columbus' contemporaries stupidly expected him to fall of the edge of the Earth, when in fact the Earth's spherical shape had been known since at least the lifetime of Eratosthenes in 200 BC?
Remember that the educational establishment is the torch-bearer of universalism, and consider how useful this narrative is for them6. The Earth, so long believed to be four-cornered and four-angeled and four-river-of-Edened, was later found to be a sphere - pretty much the next best thing to having scientists discover that God really was an infinite circle with endless center and no circumference. The entire Earth is without corners or sides or privileged points - even the North Pole, interesting to astronomers and climatologists, is geologically meaningless. The establishment seized on the power of this image and turned the very idea that the world might be flat or have sides into the most ridiculous term of abuse imaginable, then inserted entirely fictitious straw men who believed in a sided world at various points in history so that they might be proven wrong again and again and embarrassed more and more each time. The message is obvious: particularism is low-status and ridiculous. Just as the Earth is featureless and uniform and circular; just as the sun is featureless and uniform and circular, so our own world and our own species ought to be without feature or distinction or privileged vantage point.
Part Four: Plato's Earth Transparent
To the universalists, everything must be reduced arithmetically to the featureless singularity or geometrically to the sphere7. To the particularists, the distinctions between things must be respected exactly as they are; to the Chinese, the Ten Thousand Things; to Westerners, the fourfold four-cornered world.
The genius of Gene Ray is to take the universalists' triumphant metaphor, subvert it, and fling it back at them.
Yes, only one sun shines upon the Earth, and yes, the Earth is a sphere without sides or distinctions. But the day - the sun and Earth as understood by human experience - is anything but featureless. Indeed, we describe especially strong distinctions as "like the difference between day and night". Like the four directions built into the human organism, there are four directions naturally built into our perception of the day: sunrise, sunset, midday, and midnight. So Ray revitalizes the stagnant doctrine fo the "four corners of the Earth" by reinterpreting the four spatial corners into four temporal corners. Immediately, the entire universalist system collapses. The four races of Man - white, black, Asian and Native American - reassert themselves in their old roles as guardians of the Earth's four corners - whites light like midday, blacks dark like midnight, the Asians of the Far East as the sunrise, and the Natives of the Far West as sunset. Other distinctions, like those between genders and religions, likewise become possible, separate like day and night rather than indistinguishable like the points along a sphere8.
Instead of the one day with its one sun upon its one Earth, we get four different days, one for the cycling of each of the cardinal temporal points. Here, much like on the human organism which neither flies nor digs, we're not so concerned with the top and the bottom; therefore we need only the four sides to form a cube. Just as the universalists tried to stamp the cosmos with their philosophy by obsessing over the Earth as a sphere, Ray uses his four cardinal temporal points to overlay the particularist symbol of the square upon the world. But even a square is not sufficiently particularist in this case - compare Friedman's The Earth Is Flat, meant as a symbol of universalism and the collapse of distinctions. In a final coup de grace, Ray replaces the square with the cube, thus uniting the macrocosm and microcosm by having the symbolic Earth-at-large take the same form as the Platonic Earth.
Having neutered the narrative of the spherical earth, Ray has bigger fish to fry. Conservativism has thus far failed to compete with liberalism because it has been shackled by its union to a religion that was itself created as a trojan horse for liberal universalist ideas - the unitary infinite featureless perfect circle God of Augustine, the God who very specifically and very necessarily is not made of parts. Ray declares that God an abomination, a piece of propaganda pushed by the scholarly establishment as an embodiment of their universalist ideals. In its place, he proposes his own Time Cube, the ultimate symbol of cosmic particularism, with all its sides and faces and corners.
The Taoists believe that the Tao precedes and is nobler than the Ten Thousand Things. In a stunning reversal of the Taoist philosophy, Ray declares that the Time Cube is "above God" (see for example www.abovegod.com), asserting contra Plato but in accordance with modern philosophy that the unifying principles between things are metaphysically posterior to the things themselves and thus truly proving himself the wisest human (see for example www.thewisesthuman.com). He rejects the religious idea of pure Being preceding individual objects in favor of Being as as property abstracted from objects by embodied minds.
Why not come out and say this in so many words? Because we are raised in universalism and the very language of educated discourse is universalist language. Because all of our concepts make the idea of intelligent particularism literally inconceivable9This worry is hardly unique to Time Cube, and other traditions have seized upon the same sorts of solutions. For example, in Zen:
One afternoon a student said "Roshi, I don't really understand what's going on. I mean, we sit in zazen and we gassho to each other and everything, and Felicia got enlightened when the bottom fell out of her water-bucket, and Todd got enlightened when you popped him one with your staff, and people work on koans and get enlightened, but I've been doing this for two years now, and the koans don't make any sense, and I don't feel enlightened at all! Can you just tell me what's going on?"
"Well you see," Roshi replied, "for most people, and especially for most educated people like you and I, what we perceive and experience is heavily mediated, through language and concepts that are deeply ingrained in our ways of thinking and feeling. Our objective here is to induce in ourselves and in each other a psychological state that involves the unmediated experience of the world, because we believe that that state has certain desirable properties. It's impossible in general to reach that state through any particular form or method, since forms and methods are themselves examples of the mediators that we are trying to avoid. So we employ a variety of ad hoc means, some linguistic like koans and some non-linguistic like zazen, in hopes that for any given student one or more of our methods will, in whatever way, engender the condition of non-mediated experience that is our goal. And since even thinking in terms of mediators and goals tends to reinforce our undesirable dependency on concepts, we actively discourage exactly this kind of analytical discourse."
And the student was enlightened.
Time Cube should therefore be understood as a sort of koan going under the radar of our biased analytical minds to deny the "oneness of all things" and to restore the "fourfold universe"/"ten thousand things" of the particularists to prominence.
Conclusion: The Measurer of Gods
So we see history as the conflict between the Hindus' insistence that "the truth is one but men have many names for it" and Lingananda's revelation that "the truth is many but men have only one name for it."
The supporters of the former statement, the universalists, believe in the words of Isaiah that "every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain" - or in the words of the old Jewish poem that "all that has divided us will merge". This will immanentize the eschaton by creating a world free of any laws or restrictions or class or gender roles or differences, an infinite circle whose center is everywhere.
The philosophers pursue this project through utilitarianism that collapses all morality into a single interchangeable "utility". The scholars pursue it through their theory of postmodernism and cultural relativism that denies any objective validity to the differences between groups of people. The scientists pursue this project by searching for a "theory of everything" that reduces all mass and energy and particles and forces into a single sort of entity. The politicians pursue it through ever stronger supernational unions and world governments. And the mystics pursue it through the motif of the Unbroken Circle, which can be alternately the sun disc or the spiritual Earth or the "circle of life" or the rose in the cross or merely the circle of humanity. These memes are implanted in us so deeply by the educational system that it's almost impossible to reject them by our own power.
Throughout history, various philosophers have sought to put the brakes on the universalist project. Irenaeus fought the Gnostics who would have had us completely reject the material world in favor of the idealized pleroma. Bacon and Descartes got the theologically-inclined scholars to grudgingly accept a science of the material world (the "fourfold world" of ten thousand things) as worthy of study. Burke condemned the French revolutionary work of eradicating all human distinctions as contrary to proper political life.
But each of these brakes has been dealt with and subverted. The Gnostic heresy rose up again as New Ageism, which soundly stigmatized the "squares" and now threatens the very foundations of the Church. The philosophers have convinced us that science should be tolerated as useful for those who want fancy toys but too patriarchalist and and phallocentric and arrogant to have any broader validity. The revolutionaries switched from bloody guillotine-style revolutions to using the existing social structure to demolish class and personal boundaries. Any particularist objection that takes place within the universalist educational structure can be captured by that structure and neutralized. Only something that comes totally from outside, like a comet blazing out of empty space, can possibly hope to break through our "mind-forg'd manacles" and make a difference.
That comet is Time Cube. With its cubic earth, it recaptures the universalist metaphors of the sun and the spherical Earth and turns them into a preconscious koan-like rejection of universalism (which it calls "one-ism"). It calls out the educational establishment on its inculcation of one-ist ideas and declares them evil. Finally, it rejects the one-ist concept of God, with all its historical baggage, and proposed the Time Cube itself as a new symbol for divinity and the apotheosis of a new particularist world order.
As Dr. Ray himself puts it, "Creation of 4 simultaneous 24 hour days, within a single rotation of Earth, empowers me above all 1-day gods and educated stupid scientists."
Appendix: In Case There Are Further Questions
Q: What about the stuff about belly buttons?
A: The one-ist denial of belly buttons is a symbol of the universalist belief in a blank slate humanity. The belly button, as the remnant of physical ontogenesis, is used as a metaphor for memetic ontogenesis. "Belly button logic", then, is the recognition that people arise from a specific contingent environment - that is, that they are one of the Ten Thousand Things and cannot be divorced from their particular circumstances.
Q: What is the significance of "Mom/Dad & Son/Daughter, NOT taught Evil ONEism, which VOIDS Families. "
A: Compare Luke 14:26: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." To universalists, family is the enemy as it is bonds between particular people rather than the human race as a whole. Time Cube, by undermining universalist metaphors, restores the family to its rightful position10.
Q: What does Dr. Ray mean when he says "You will recognize 4 corner Days or incur Easter Island Ending"?
A: Compare to Diamond's account of Easter Island's ending through false religion, social breakdown, and over-reliance on a social hierarchy.
Q: Is Ray anti-Semitic?
A: All references to "Jews" and "queer Jews" and "queer Jew gods" and "Jew owners have enslaved your ass" should be interpreted as a metonymic reference to monotheism.
Q: How about "A mother and baby are the same age, as a 1 day old baby has a 1 day old mother."
A: As in the Biblical "seven days of creation", "day" here need not be interpreted literally or self-consistently.
Q: What does Ray mean by "Cyclops mentality, inflicts static non pulsating logos as a fictitious queer same sex transformation."
A: This question is trivial and left as an exercise for the reader.
1: cf. "The simultaneous 4 human races debunks a God for any race." - Dr. Gene Ray, the Wisest Human
2: cf. "You are ignorant of Divine Spirit measure existing in Great Pyramid abstract of human personification." - Dr. Gene Ray, the Wisest Human
3. cf. "Racial integration equals Racial Slop." - Dr. Gene Ray, the Wisest Human
4. cf. "Christianity is subservient to the Jews. The Bible is Jewish, Academia and Government based upon the Jewish Bible are Jewish." - Dr. Gene Ray, the Wisest Human
5. cf. "Adults Do Not Teach By Examples, But By Word Scams That Brainwash And Indoctrinate Their Children's Malleable Minds, Destroying Youth." - Dr. Gene Ray, the Wisest Human
6. cf. "Religion and academia preach singularity." - Dr. Gene Ray, the Wisest Human
7. cf. "Humans are educated stupid Word Animals, creating a Word God and Word World, thus inflicting singularity as mange upon Nature." - Dr. Gene Ray, the Wisest Human
8. cf. "The masculinity Sun and femininity Earth - form a Binary of Harmonic Opposites at Center of Universe - Greater than either Sun or the Earth, debunking all fictitious Oneism Gods taught by religious/academic Word Animals." Dr. Gene Ray, the Wisest Human
9. cf. "You are a slave - to academic induced inculcated belief - an insidious entity, an evil which corrupts human mental ability to accept creation knowledge." - Dr. Gene Ray, the Wisest Human
10. cf. "Binary Life Force is more Powerful than ONE God - especially the ole dead Jew, for which you've denounced your own mother and father." - Dr. Gene Ray, the Wisest Human