Jonas Ingvarsson – The Within of Things

Inthedomainexternaltoourfleshourrealandwholebodyiscontinuingtotakeshape STOP
PierreTeilharddeChardin1920 stop
The latter part of the 1940’s was a good period for the reconfiguration of the relations between man, machine, sex and nature. In 1948 Norbert Wiener opened the groundbreaking era of cybernetics with the book by the same title, and in 1950 published a popular account in The Human Use of Human Beings; in 1949 Simone de Beuavoir released the constructivist sex bomb with La Deuxieme Sexe; and does anyone actually recall that Alan Turing’s famous account of the »imitation game» (a.k.a. The Turing Test) in fact begins with a description of a test where you should decide whether the person who answers your questions is a woman or a man?
Somethingelsespotstheconfusion stop johanneshelden stop Moreover – in 1947, the Jesuit theologian and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin writes a letter to UNESCO, suggesting a new definition of the Rights of Man, since the definition of Man – due to the change in social, economical, ethnical and technological couplings – could no longer be based on the individual. The biological body, Teilhard claims, is not the container of the self; the collective and the individual are not to be regarded as opposites, but indeed as each other’s prerequisites.

TheWithinOfThings Stop Teilhard was a theologian who not only believed in Darwin, but who also thought of Man as not being the final state of the evolution. Everything in Creation strived to the unification in The Omega Point (that is, to put it short: Christ). To achieve this synthesis of the theory of evolution, theology and »proto-posthumanism», he had to deconstruct the notion of evolution itself. And quite brilliantly so:

Interiority, the rudiment of consciousness, exists everywhere; it is only that if the particle is extremely simple, the consciousness is so small that we cannot perceive it; if there is an increase in complexity, this consciousness comes out into the open and we have the world of life.

Darwin observed the evolution from the outside. chemistrystartsasked stop Johanneshelden stop This observation, the paleontologist Teilhard claims, is good, for sure, but not good enough. Because in the same way that species and bodies developed and reshaped themselves from utterly simple to very complex forms, so must consciousness have done. Teilhard states (emphasized in italics) in his posthumous Magnus Opus The Phenomenon of Man:

In the world nothing could ever burst forth as final across the different thresholds successively traversed by evolution (however critical they be) which has not already existed in an obscure and primordial way.

The stone is pregnant with the mind. Matter thinks. And thus: exit a bunch of dualisms:

Technology has a role that is biological in the strict sense of the word: it has every right to be included in the scheme of nature. From this point of view […] there ceases to be any distinction between the artificial and the natural, between technology and life, since all organisms are the result of innovation; if there is any difference, the advantage is on the side of the artificial.

Matter thinks, and technology is indeed part of nature. In the writings of Johannes Heldén, the poet:

                                                                 slopes glowing                                                                   down quickly saw

                                           the above anymore


                                                                                                                                                        animals           time changes

The human brain is, for Teilhard, the site of the evolutionary shift from natural selection to invention, both of them, of course, part of the great natural processes of ongoing innovation. In the writings of Johannes Heldén, the poet:

                                                                 slopes glowing                                                                   quickly saw

                                           the above anymore


                                                                 time changes

When evolution turns to invention, so Teilhard argues, Man starts to create the tools that will ultimately reshape her, first by mechanical devices, then by extensions of our consciousness, striving to the final state of one single unified mind, The Omega Point. The extended consciousness – already surrounding the globe – has a name: the Noosphere.

And even today, to a Martian capable of analysing sidereal radiations psychically no less than physically, the first characteristic of our planet would be, not the blue of the seas or the green of the forests, but the phosphorescence of thought.

The signs are all over Heldén’s poetic and artistic output. Computer supported lyrics about nature and environments, graphics and audio paint urbanatural land- and soundscapes, cybernetic in the initial use of the term: »communication in the animal and in the machine». cannot stop writing stop Technology. Nature. Communication. Evolution. The cybernetic anthropologist Gregory Bateson used to ask his students the following: »Suppose I am a blind man, and I use a stick. I go tap, tap, tap. Where do I start?». Replying »the stick» or »the skin» will only manifest the initial fault of the question, since there is no »start» to the »I» in the cybernetic sense: all living things establish themselves, not as bodies or closed entities, but as communicative systems.

It all ends up in one conclusion: Johannes Heldén, the poet, cannot stop writing, he cannot be eliminated from his creative process, since the avatar created by this process indeed is within the communicative system of Heldén the poet. We witness the (always already ongoing) merge of artificial and biological consciousness. Exit the exit author. And there’s nothing peculiar about it. will-o’-the-wisp stop No more strange than poetry itself.


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docJonas Ingvarsson – The Within of Things