Meta

Metaphysics started out as a name for all Aristoteles’ texts that did not fit into his main categories. So it had quite a modest start for a word that would evolve to hold the grandest of thoughts on the foundation of everything. It became something referring beyond physical life, and this beyond was to contain the foundation of all physical life: it was to give the reason for every thing to exist. 

Fast forward to Descartes and the meta position became the only real position. I think therefore I am. The meta is not anymore a spiritual realm to aspire too but became the starting point for those lucky enough to recognize themselves in this thinking ego (western, white, educated males). Meta and ego had become very intimate indeed. What was now considered beyond, the alien, was physical life itself, and anyone not resembling the male ego, anyone working, giving birth and looking specific rather than symbolic was relegated to a state of ‘mere’ physicality. The knowledge that all this ego needed a whole lot of physical work in order to sustain itself was brushed aside. The Meta was not to give the reason for existence, it was to be the reason for the existence of everything else. This hierarchical system of repression of everything and everyone needed to sustain these ghostly egos was part of what is called The Enlightenment, but of course much of its structure and reasoning has remained in contemporary culture, business and politics.

Thankfully we then got quite slew of less enlightened thinkers who did not accept this reversal. So while it the Meta-Ego marriage may have inspired colonialism, neoliberalism and concepts like that of The Matrix and Squid Game, it was not a concept that lingered too long in philosophy itself. The meta was shown to be a far more dynamic concept, one that can take time and change into account, so that you cannot and need not tie it to any everlasting truths. 

This is why I love the concept and hate it at once. I hate the concept when a group of people thinks it owns it. Then it it dangerous. I love the concept as an action, as a way to actively try and step aside of your current perspective and to alter it. To look behind the curtains, not to find everlasting truth, but to find a bigger landscape as well as adding a different set of eyes to look at it: to augment your vision. This is also why I love the whole concept of augmented reality.

Enter 2021 and Facebook rebrands itself as Meta. At first I was very shocked about what seemed to me this gross appropriation of an important historical concept. But on the other hand, it is a final conclusion to those philosophies that changed meta from an aside to be an all-enforcing and ordering ego. To the history that took meta as something that can be owned. Facebook will provide the order and the ego, and we will be its physical mass. 

However, philosophy as a whole does not arrive at a conclusion. The history is circular and its concepts ever returning. So while the concept of the all ordering ego is slowly collapsing under its own weight, we, making up the physical mass of any network, can always take action to interfere, to step aside and to use a system in a way it was not meant to be used in. I belief in the development of meta as a stepping aside: a strategy to not get stuck in any particular system, and a way to not get stuck with your self. 

So as a modest contribution to the Metaverse I envision myself developing methods, effects and half-exising objects and perspectives that upset any images of the world and the self that are a bit too straightforward and one sided. I want to help people trip into new perspectives. 

It’s Raining Me effect. Try it here.

Published
Categorized as AR, Metaverse

Standing In Front Of A Map

A perfect language is like a perfect map. But then when the map is finished, what to do there? And would you have anything to say in a perfect language? You would be superfluous. Maybe you would try and force yourself into an awkward position so that you and the map can be in a picture together, as if you really are there, somehow.

A Roman marble head of Venus, ca. 1st-2nd Century A.D. & a selfportrait in AR

Perhaps a more meaningful image of the world would be an image in which the world and the self are not so awkwardly divided. This image is one that can never be completed as we and the world constantly change over time. This image is far from perfect. It is the image of your experience of the world, while it is happening. It changes and morphs because it is influenced by things it does not know, cannot see or did not predict. It does not simply spread a perfect white terra incognito over them, as yet to be conquered. The unknowns are not exactly there to be pointed at. Instead you experience them as fear, excitement, curiosity, desire… as the announcement of the new.

Unfortunately we are still stuck with all those maps. And while we can’t find ourselves in it, collectively we do place all and each person as ‘a kind’ onto the map. And while a map that incorporates more ‘kinds’ in an equal way is better than one that defines less, we may likely find it lacking. And although we must fight any map that does not represent us, the fact remains, we should also ask ourselves what or whom the map is useful to. Its use is to categorize and organize, which can be done in more or less fair ways, but it offers no inspiration whatsoever about what to do in a world that looks like this perfect map. So we may be tempted to draw in some enemies, maybe an exciting unknown wilderness and other opportunities for adventure and conquest, so that we feel we take part in this world.

But of course we are not on this map, and while such a map may be very consoling, in the end it is nothing but a sign of existential poverty. And so is the perfect language: such a language would organize, but it would not express. If the world it describes would uncontrollably change, what would then be its use? Instead of painting a perfect picture and then maneuvering ourselves in front of it for a selfie, we may find ourselves intimately joined to the world, and better visualized in an imperfect patchwork of unrelated thoughts, limbs, desires and half finished sentences. Because we make sense of a world in movement, of a world onto which every little act may lead to unpredictable results and changes. Language helps us to invent ourselves and the world as we move along. Its goal not to organize and fix. Instead it constantly organizes and re-organizes in order to move about. In this second more practical approach, we have no need for universal truths in order to make a move.

Published
Categorized as Metaverse