Rewiring For Unity


Unity is a non-denominational spiritual organization based out of Unity Village Missouri, a place in the  Heartland, a region recently romanticized by Bruce Springsteen in a Jeep ad (Jeeps are still a global operation by the way)--which is kind of poetic given that the Heartland was where family vacations in a station wagon had passed through on Interstates. I was a member of Unity in the 1980s, and in retrospect, I recall a sense of unity in the US--even under Reagan.

The 1980s also produced the idea of global unity, sung by Bob Geldolf et al.

We Aren't the World--and haven't been since 2000.


David Eagleman riffs on the idea of "rewiring" in his recent book Livewired. If we simply watch how nature does it we can follow accordingly. But what about government regulations? (Regulation in nature is very different and it's not all about us being at the top of the pyramid in terms of climate regulation).

"While sensor biomimicry is a good start to new ways of thinking about adaptability, it's only the beginning. The larger challenge is to design a nervous system that integrates new plug-and-play devices. Take as an example the problems that NASA continually faces with the International Space Station. Collaboration between nations is the heart of the project, but it's also the core of an engineering problem. The Russians build one module, the Americans attach another, the Chinese contribute another. The International Space Station faces a continual problem coordinating the sensors on the modules from the different countries. The American heat sensors don't always sync up with the Russian vibration sensors, and the Chinese gas sensors have trouble communicating to the rest of the station. The space station continually throws engineers at the problem to solve and resolve it."

"The right way to tackle this would be to imitate Mother Nature. After all, she has booted up thousands of new sensors, from eyes to ears to noses to pressure sensors to heat pits to electroreceptors to magnetoreceptors in war.  Over evolutionary Vistas, she's [Gaia!!] invested her efforts into designing a nervous system that can extract the information of the sensors without having to be told anything about them. The sensors can be totally different in their design, and yet they have no difficulty working together seamlessly. This is because the brain moves around the world, looks for correlations between the different incoming streams, and figures out how to put incoming information to work." 

Both local (read: isolationist) and even global systems have the same problem: No one or one thing can be the world, but the world already has nature as its primary metaphor. But even then, metaphors are only temporary scaffolding for solving problems. Infrastructure, especially electrical infrastructure, is a form or "wiring" and we can say nature takes care of "wiring" in its own ways, but it doesn't work out that way.

You can say nature is local in terms of territorial demarcations. Electricity might go completely local, and is in fact likely in areas that were already isolationist to go to a more extreme version of isolationism, such as your own DC micro-grid: Imagine every house in a suburban development with a wind turbine and geothermal capabilities. And take into account that the original suburbs were a way to commune with nature. This was the cornerstone of Frank Lloyd's Wright's philosophy--that architecture within nature was the main operative metaphor for the human being. It is in some ways a way for humans to adapt and meld with nature.

Unity in Music as a Metaphor

Unity requires regulation. In music, the orchestra metaphor is almost cliche and banal, but orchestration is a good corollary. The size of the ensembles dictates how the composer regulates various musical and timbral elements. But the wild cards were the musicians, the conductor, and the venue. In recorded music, unification between lots of elements is easier and can be done by one person on a laptop (Eagleman's plug-and-play" metaphor)--which is interesting to think about in context of the way computer cybernetics has corrupted systems because it disregards the influence of subsystems. This is why American systems have not worked, and is a perfect of example of why we need some forms of regulation that are as equitable as possible. Obviously, this is fraught with notions of communism/authoritarianism as forms of top-down regulation. In some ways, deregulation in neoliberalist forms is a veiled form of authoritarianism; regulation a liberalist form of communism.

Movement conservatives like Newt Gingrich, who espouse the idea of survival of the fittest, who see no reason for government regulation, believe that the organism itself has to figure out how to do it. This goes back to Wright in some ways, with nature the main regulation of the entire system in terms of site-specific forms. Like most metaphors, they're useful for scaffolding ways of thinking about things, but they can break down or they can fall (like lots of Wright structures). I've always said that metaphors are kind of flimsy things. The world can't run on metaphors. Moreover, we realize that scaffolds are used for building and repairing things, but ultimately the scaffold has to come down. Imagine a town or city where there were scaffolds built on the sides of buildings and were never removed. This signals that the buildings were in disrepair or could not even be inhabited. That's how America has looked.

Even though both regulation and deregulation have their weaknesses, there's always more that you can do to make regulation more effective and equitable, rather than relying on survival of the fittest. It is wrong, and perhaps even stupid to take that philosophy of life in a world with almost 8 billion people. Not only should we be evolving to a higher species, which we already are--at least as a wish. The survival of the planet's climate system is seriously in question, and yet people question it.

But Unity is still a place. Perhaps that would be a better location for future car commercials. (Would they want it?)