There is something in man that can only be freed if we first liberate what is locked up in our idea of Nature. By unlocking this we will also liberate our own nature, which can never be reduced to an object. Assuming this goal will be an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
Can machines be used to break the encirclement of machines? Certainly, today there is very little that the naked human being can do against them, or so it seems. But neither can machines do anything on their own, but only as part of a vast technological web in which they interact with humans.
Everything historical is ultimately contingent. Today’s prevailing system, as well as the dominant scientific theories, are only one of many possible versions of developments that are neither universal nor necessary. The same can be said of the current technology deployment. One and the same body of knowledge can give rise to the most diverse technological applications, but on the other hand, different theories can also achieve applications nearly indistinguishable.
In technoscience, as in power, we can recognize at least three basic levels: the symbolic, the structural and the functional or instrumental. Far from dealing exhaustively with any of them here, we will be content to indicate, in the most schematic way, widely ignored aspects of these levels which are of special interest and which are contained within a different level which is not technical at all but remains the indispensable background.
When we speak of machines we no longer think of something as basic as Newton’s three laws of mechanics, and yet in them the instrumental principle that still guides this civilization is already fully realized. Machines long predate the birth of mathematical physics, but it is only with mathematical physics that we begun to see the entire cosmos as a closed system with the clock as its model. Less than a century later, the West had already invented «Nature» as a nostalgia for that without separation.
The maximum of intelligence is put into the design of machines so that their use requires the minimum of wit; this gap between the side of creation and the side of the user is constantly growing, and the mechanisms of power do their utmost to exploit it. Before modern physics, nothing seemed more stupid than a machine. After the pendulum clock and calculus, people began to doubt whether man imitated Nature or Nature imitated man. And later, when it became clear that machines can interact with the environment to an increasing extent and without definite limit, many are inclined to believe that there is nothing in Nature that machines cannot eventually overcome.
Artificial intelligence gradually expands the complexity of its feedback cycles with the environment; in this sense, not only it does not create closed systems, but their range of operation is permanently broadening. However, we still maintain the idea that the physical ground that makes it possible, with its atoms and particles within its fields, is a closed system by definition —it is a mechanical system.
Much more attention has been paid to the major differences between today’s physics and Newton’s physics than to what they have in common, which, as befits the least noticed, is usually the most important. On the other hand, there is a tendency to believe, without the slightest justification, that a predictable system is a closed system; and since it has also been inculcated that the essence of intelligence is the ability to predict, this combination of prejudices, interests and misunderstandings directs the entire flight of machines, whatever their level of organization.
Everyone knows that Newton could not explain our solar system as a mechanism, nor has anyone since; and yet we still judge the motion of celestial bodies by his three laws of mechanics. These laws remain the irreducible scheme of any closed system, and prefigure all the conservation laws which give their fundamental character to all later theories.
Newton’s three laws, the very foundation stone of modern technoscience, already involve the three levels —symbolic, functional and structural with respect to the most recent theories- that we have mentioned, and without cleaving this rock and bringing forth its water we will never get out of its charmed circle.
There can be no proper mechanology without due consideration of the three principles of mechanics, but since they are universally taken for granted, it is necessary to recapitulate what we have already said on several occasions. Subsequent physics has introduced dramatic changes one after another, but one fundamental aspect remains unchanged by each of the three principles: we still adhere to the principle of inertia and inertial reference systems, to the idea that in Nature there are constant and universal forces which depend only on distance but not on the environment or the velocity of bodies, and finally, to the simultaneity of action and reaction, which defines both what a closed system is and the global synchronization of its parts.
So here there is a principle of reference, a principle of action and a principle of regulation. These are three completely different levels, which nevertheless lie on the same plane and which can be applied in both the continuous and the discrete domain. It soon became clear, for example, that Newtonian absolute time was just a metaphysical principle; but a later theory such as relativity does not really change this state of affairs, since it is explicitly based on the simultaneity of events and thus on their global synchronization.
Much has been said about the dispositive as the essence of technology, but the disposition of the modern mechanics underlying it still is waiting to be properly contrasted. On the basis of the relational criterion that physical time is nothing but the measure of motion, it has often been argued that physics would not even be possible without assuming the constancy of forces or the equality of background and coordinate systems; however, it is from purely relational criteria that it follows from Weber’s law that both the principle of inertia and the constancy of forces, besides universal synchronization, can be dispensed with, if the concept of retarded potential is correctly interpreted.
Such a relational mechanics is in agreement with known observations and predictions, even if it also allows for important divergences. It can also be argued that its internal logical consistency is greater, since the principle of inertia forces us to consider a «closed system that is not closed», which is obviously contradictory. On the other hand, the principle of dynamic equilibrium, which makes it unnecessary, only states that the sum of all forces of any nature acting on any body is always zero in all reference frames. Newton’s laws can be summarized as meaning that nothing moves without being moved by something else; but in relational mechanics, bodies can be interpreted as moving by their own impulse without incurring in contradiction.
It might be thought that two systems of mechanics leading to the same predictions only raise a question of formalism, but the fact that they can yield radically opposite meanings even when they are compatible should already strike us. And it reminds us that the principles of mechanics are not univocal even in the most basic cases, let alone the more complicated ones that demand increasing degrees of discernment in their application.
One system tells us that without uniformity of measurements it is not possible to do physics, while another, without uniformity of time, forces or reference systems, allows us to reach the same predictions with less artifice. The problem is almost the same as the one that arose when moving from classical electrodynamics to relativity; however, in relational mechanics it is not necessary to postulate a four-dimensional space-time. It is another way of seeing that there is room within the principles themselves. There is plenty of room at the bottom, but not where most people think.
Modern field theories still are in the same middle ground that Newton already occupied between Descartes and Leibniz, that is, between mechanics described in terms of geometry and purely relational mechanics —or between purely mechanical causality and acausal or amechanical description of phenomena. Known physics can be poured into a relational mold, but for most, if a framework does not lead to new predictions, it is basically unnecessary; if, on the other hand, it yields too many new predictions, it becomes undesirable.
However, the mere fact of overcoming the principle of inertia should be for us at least as important as all the predictions, since it eliminates at a stroke, within the theory itself, the artificial separation we have created between us and Nature. Even today, we would probably need another three or four centuries, as it has taken since the introduction of this principle, to understand thoroughly the consequences of this step.
From a relational point of view, it is clear that one can do physics without the principle of inertia, but it is another thing to dwell on what that means. But from the opposite perspective, it is possible to return to Cartesian physics in a consistent way, as some recent researchers have done, accepting that all motion is rotation and involves an acceleration. In this case, what is suppressed is not inertia itself but the inertial reference system, so that all forces are different expressions of internal «inertial forces».
If one observes closely enough the displacement of an automobile, one can verify there is no such thing as a truly uniform speed, and that the forces of traction and friction are never exactly balanced. The construction of clocks poses the same problem. In relational mechanics, whether a body is in motion or at rest, there is always a perfect balance of forces; in the new Cartesian geometric mechanics, there is no motion without imbalance; and yet both dispense with the inertial frame of reference. It should be enlightening to thoroughly contrast these two perspectives and their coincidence.
This and many other possible observations show that we know nothing about inertia. Inertia is the basis of all modern physics, but it must be necessarily fathomless to the very physics that has been built upon it. Physicists do not pretend to know what reality is, but if today it is generally believed that reality has a physical nature, or if we believe in the reality of matter, it is just because we believe in the reality of inertia. And if this universe is believed to have arisen from an explosion 13 billion years ago, it is not so much because of any experimental evidence but because physicists seek a justification for the plain fact that everything is in permanent motion.
The principle of inertia, by its very definition, is the decisive cut-off point between the uncontrolled Nature and the laws that man postulates in its regard. But for the autonomy of human laws to become definitive, it was necessary for the other two principles to be consistent to form a closed circuit, as Newton finally achieved. Organic chemistry is only that part of chemistry which deals with the most complex molecules, a definition which is already indebted to physical considerations. Is an organic physics conceivable? Here we would have to proceed in the opposite way: the known «inorganic physics» would be a mere part of this more general «organic physics». It would, in any case, be a physics in which the principle of inertia is not shielded.
And, to the surprise of many, it can be seen that a renewed Cartesian mechanics, always considered as the epitome of rudimentary mechanism, is at least the most geometrical expression of this organic physics. The best exponent of inertia is a rolling ball; but Newtonian mechanics does not even contemplate the dynamics of an oriented point with rotations. When its variables are included, we have six dimensions for motion within ordinary Euclidean space. A point with freedom of rotation generates vortices as it moves, and vortices are the only natural gear known to nature. They also allow the passage from ideal points without extension to real bodies with extension in space, source of so many misconceptions in physics and in our representation in general.
According to relational mechanics, the geocentric system of Ptolemy and the heliocentric system of Copernicus are dynamically equivalent in all their aspects, including the Coriolis forces or Foucault’s pendulum; but, as is well known, this is not the case for Newtonian mechanics. The trained habit inclines one to think that the relational framework must be missing something specifically physical that makes it a mere exercise in kinematics. However, from the point of view of geometric mechanics, the apparent retrograde motion of the planets and Ptolemy’s epicycles also have a physical meaning unnoticed in Newtonian mechanics.
Classical mechanics does not even describe rotational motion correctly; but this should not be surprising because classical mechanics has never been much concerned with descriptions, but rather with shielding its predictions. It is clear that modern field theories and particle physics violate the laws of classical mechanics in many different ways, but nevertheless, they try to fit into the framework of our ordinary experience, and we happen to confuse that framework with that of Newton’s three laws.
How is it that much more complex laws can be accommodated within the three laws of motion? In the only possible way: by reducing to the same plane things that may be on very different planes. And so these three laws continue to have incomparable power and weight, because they alone allow us to maintain the illusion that there is only one plane of efficient causality. Our ancestors could not believe too much that the Earth was flat because, in general, they did not even bother about it. It is we who try to reduce everything to a single plane of causality, even if we know that this is an impossible task.
Inertia is both the soil and the veil of physics, and it is a veil precisely when it gives us the illusion of being soil. As a principle of reference, it is necessarily reflexive; but the leap from the ideal to the presumption of reality is automatic, passing to deny that there is any viable way of questioning it, despite the fact that it can be disputed from opposite extremes.
The three principles of classical mechanics have not only been a foundation for physics but have acted as a general principle of reduction of experience to a single plane; they form a line of descent which can have no end for itself.
This course of mechanics has been assimilating things that were initially alien to it, both in the domain of physics and in technoscience in general. In this sense, it operates as a great universal symbolic machine, translating external processes into its own language. All subsequent symbolic machines end up in its funnel, since only in the principles of mechanics software and hardware merge.
The phenomenological analysis of the temporality between memory and anticipation makes a distinction between a primary retention of perceptions and a secondary retention in the imagination. Later it has been argued that the various technologies, including language, constitute a tertiary sphere of retention that acts on the first two. Undoubtedly, Newton’s three principles involve also these three retentions on a much more elaborate level, both formal and operational, which nevertheless feed back on the previous levels.
Just as consciousness does not perceive time, but creates temporality through its own activity, so the laws of mechanics are not a simple generalization of the physical plane, but rather they end up creating «physical reality” proper from a more indeterminate background of experience. Both types of movement are incommensurable even though they are intimately connected. In the movement of consciousness, however conditioned it may be, the inner spontaneity is never extinguished; whereas mechanics, by means of a cut fraught of consequences, definitely establishes itself outside.
There are other formulations of non-inertial dynamics compatible with modern mechanics and physics, and one may wonder whether adopting them would make any difference at this point; but this is not the question now. Modern technology always seeks to release energies in Nature to put it at work; here, however, we seek only to free Nature from inertia and contemplate what manifests itself instead. Although it sounds similar, both things are diametrically opposed.
Reverse engineering on Nature is thought to belong to the sphere of technical applications, not to theory, when the reality is quite the opposite: theory, starting with its primary means, calculus, is reverse engineering on known data from Nature; but the descriptions being subordinate to the results, departs so much from the physical geometry that in general machine designs follow a completely independent logic.
Mechanics is the control of forces through other forces, which obliges us to discard other quantities that may be measurable but not controllable. This definitely marks the limits of both mechanics and classical control theory.
In our writings we often speak of the so-called geometric phase not only as a non-standard shift of the potential but as a virtual displacement of the three principles of mechanics from a relational perspective; hence we also speak of a fourth principle or «three and a half principles», without intending to add any more. Holonomy and geometric phases, first recognized in optics and then identified in the most varied contexts including animal locomotion, are now commonplace in robotics and control theory, where they are included for the most instrumental purposes.
The phenomenon of the geometric phase could not be more ambiguous and is open to all kinds of interpretations. Its contribution to the total phase is often smaller than that of the dynamic phase, but it can also be larger. Since it has only lately been noticed, it has been assigned a purely passive and auxiliary role, as always corresponded to potentials in mechanics. But that which is instantaneous cannot be secondary to that which takes time to operate; that which is pure act cannot be passive in relation to that which depends on interactions and takes time to actualize.
Speed is of supreme importance for interactions, but of no importance for what does not depend on them. Nor can time in the modern sense, which depends on the idea of velocity, be of any importance for this. Mechanics and its control interrogate the world through forces, which are reinterpreted by the three principles; these forces can then be diverted to multiple ends, channelled and mediated by all sorts of logical or information-associated categories.
What interests us now, however, are the most basic forms of relationship between a force or kinetic energy and a potential when consciousness is placed in between them. The antithesis of modern control theory is biofeedback, since it applies to internal rather than external regulation and assumes a range of control that does not pass through the voluntary. Biofeedback, the use of machines to tune into internal states and functions of the organism itself, seems very limited and innocuous, yet it is a threshold for exploring this relationship and a turning point for reversing its meaning: using forces in a minimalist way to probe potentials.
Holonomy, global change without local change, is the imprint or signature that the ambient background imprints on a presumably closed system —when we speak of a geometric phase, we mean that geometry of the environment that is not integrable in the evolution of a closed system. However, this factor can also be present in the fundamental interactions themselves: if we apply Weber’s mechanics to the Kepler problem, what we have is a variable force and a retarded potential, with a feedback between the length of the interaction and its strength. The difference is that in the first case the factor is not included in the equations and in the second it is masked by them.
It is one thing how fundamental physics wants to see this question, and another how it can be directly perceived by us. Newtonian mechanics is certainly drawn from experience, but that does not mean that it contains it completely, not even at the level of mechanics, let alone that it can be invalidated by it. We start from the idea that the origin of the so-called fundamental laws has always been global evolutions, and that only the predictions have a local character; it is the reverse engineering of the calculus that has made us think otherwise.
We also presuppose that any phenomenon can be seen as an ephemeral variation or dynamic equilibrium within a primitive homogeneous medium of unit density where there is no room for distinctions between space and matter, motion and time, emptiness or fullness, consciousness and object, zero dimensions or an infinite number of them: this homogeneous medium is the support of any appearance. But this does not exclude quantitative relations of density or dynamic equilibrium in more restricted physical frameworks. Since even in field theories the homogeneity of space is more fundamental than forces, although they deal with a secondary or derivative homogeneity so to speak, there must at any time be a connection between this primary medium and any dynamical evolution analogous to the connection of the geometric phase if this can be treated as a torsion or density change.
Similarly, there would also be a direct connection between any state of intentional consciousness, consciousness of a given thing, and undifferentiated consciousness. The question man has always asked himself is what his conditioned consciousness can gain by uniting with this other undifferentiated consciousness. And the answer can only be nothing; on the contrary, in that direction one has only things to lose. However, the reversal of potency and act that physics has carried out between interaction and potential may also be applied here.
Some organic functions, such as the blood pulse, seem to have the same kind of feedback that the retarded potentials in fundamental physics. Probably also the bilateral nasal cycle of breathing exhibits a holonomic phase memory. If we step outside the inertial framework and global synchronization, retarded potentials should be ubiquitous in nature and in the human body, and only need to be identified. Retarded potentials may only appear to be so from the viewpoint of the intangible global synchronizer, but beyond that, and since they operate in the open, they must be indices of the environmental geometry and the connection between various systems.
Cybernetics and artificial intelligence reproduce at many levels cycles of perception and action already found in organisms and which in the nervous system correspond to the afferent and efferent impulses of the sensorimotor apparatus. Simplifying, we can see the parallel with the mechanical distinction between interactions and potentials, with a mediating connection that can be an index of a certain temporal density, a specific or proper time. If they all express the influence of the medium at various levels, there should be a continuous scale in these mediations.
The laws of mechanics based on inertia operate as a levelling or reducing principle that by compensation tends to explain everything that escapes it in terms of material complexification: in this sense they behave like a principle of material descent, even if ultimately there is not even such a thing as matter. The question is no longer what matter is, but that everything that comes under our control, either actually or virtually as a function of prediction, is reduced to an object. The principle of instrumentalization is already inscribed to such an extent in the principles, that no application needs to be justified anymore.
It is possible to transmute the very principle of instrumentation and its theoretical shielding, in fact a legal shielding. But here we are also and especially concerned with the symbolic, for the symbolic machine that is mechanics reduces man’s symbolic potential to a single plane in a perpetual process of construction.
Seen with some perspective, Newton’s principles are a great cosmic trap from which we have not yet managed to escape. The «fourth principle» or zero principle in Newton’s laws would already be included in the law of gravitation itself —or by extension in any fundamental law of interaction- which had to be justified by the other three principles, although its application in celestial mechanics could not be more dubious. A «cosmic trap» not because it isolates us from the cosmos, but from its background. And the principle of equivalence —and ambivalence- between gravitational and inertial mass, which was already known to Kepler and Galileo, closes this trap whose door is only opened by eliminating the inertial frame of reference.
We can use the internal and external difference of retarded potentials and geometric phases as a thread to get out of this trap, going in the opposite direction of its current technological exploitation for control or quantum computing attempts. We have two basic modes of intelligence, the one that is continuously creating temporality, and the one that is merely aware; the one that proceeds by identification and the one that unveils identity. The latter is always out of subjective time, but intelligence being one, one cannot have both at the same time as we use to pretend.
There is nothing mechanical without intention. This is the reality that makes it possible for us to externalize our spirit in machines. And we must say spirit because it is not only our intelligence, but also our purpose or will. This coagulated spirit of the machines in turn makes it possible for both understanding and will to become more and more divergent in their users.
In something as simple as biofeedback, action and perception converge and tend to merge, in what may well be called self-action, and also self-perception. However limited its scope may always be, it cannot be denied that this confluence exists; but the holonomy of a geometric phase is also a self-interaction of the system as a whole. In field theories, where conservation of momentum replaces the third law, self-energy and self-interaction cannot be eliminated either, which only seem striking if we insist on separating the particle from the field. Similarly, the feedback that emerges in an orbital motion is only striking because our equations are cut off from the background; there is no real feedback, there is simply unity, but physics would not have got very far by sticking to that concept.
Since it is not a question here of achieving further predictions or applications, it makes perfect sense to apply a retroprogressive method that goes from the relatively complex to the simple. In this way thought-mediated intelligence could aspire to accomplish what it has often only pretended to do, namely to grasp the emptiness of time: a time zero which has nothing to do with the standards of current physics, and which can nevertheless be the ultimate object of fundamental physics, so different and even opposite to the extremely speculative theoretical physics with which is usually confused.
The horizon of man-machine fusion that is being imposed from above is based on the belief that there is no distinction between natural life and machines, since everything would be mechanical. We know that even classical mechanics is not strictly mechanical, but the mechanical administration of Nature separates it hopelessly from its basic reality, forcing it to depend on other controlled instances. Clearly it is always one same project of domination.
What is predicated of a supposed external Nature is eventually fulfilled in our own nature. It is really incredible that the idea that Nature is dead shit in motion should have been considered acceptable, let alone exalted; but we are still at it, and we see no anxiety to change the basic idea even when it can be done without losing anything and gaining much in universality, since only by abandoning the principle of inertia can the motion of a body be described in the same way in any frame of reference.
In recent times, nanotechnologies and breakthroughs in the manipulation, modulation and tuning of individual quantum states offered the ideal experimental framework to rewrite atomic physics and shed another light on the controversial transition zone between the classical and the quantum domain, for precisely the distance between manipulation and modulation/tuning already exposes the whole problematic of the relationship between both domains. At last it is possible to move from the obtuse lack of perspective of particle accelerators to the more exquisitely minimalist interrogation of energies from every conceivable angle.
New experimental specialities such as continuous quantum measurement or quantum feedback emerge one after another, and the possibilities, interrelationships and bifurcations are just beginning to be explored; they even talk about self-feedback for cases where a resonator interacts not with a controllable system but with a many-body environment. But instead of taking advantage of these fortunate circumstances to reformulate the theory, what is done is to exhibit results by saying as little as possible about how they were achieved. Thus, technoscience as a whole has taken the traditional opacity about its means to a new dimension of secrecy, of esotericism in the worst sense. The occultists of old rambled on about the occult, while the new watchmakers are adept at concealment —especially when it comes to hiding the truth from themselves.
If knowledge that was supposed to be in the public domain has become increasingly private, in good reciprocity it also becomes more likely that knowledge that was previously irreducibly private will find increasingly open avenues of access.
It is common knowledge that the principles of action have a blatant teleological component which has never been explained. The Lagrangian is only an exact mathematical analogy, and yet it is the basis of modern field theories. There is, however, the possibility of employing exact analogies in the opposite direction to the prediction of states of motion in time. Motion alone is insignificant, and time defined according to motion is also insignificant. It may well be said that everything that moves is only a symbol of something else that does not move, but physics only conceives of explaining that something else through motion and interaction.
If the word «mechanics» is used as a synonym for a consistent and rational system, it is clear that one can dispense with the principle of inertia and retain all the rational connotations of mechanics and then more; but on the other hand, without inertia and the other principles that guarantee its closure, the word «mechanics» loses all the heaviness associated with it, and what we have is pure dynamics. This shows that the transformation of the first principle, in genealogical order, can radically modify both meaning and sense, if the means and ends are also redirected.
To contemplate the absence of inertia is an excellent way of putting the world and our relation to it in abeyance, whether it is done at the most immediate level or within the most meticulous theoretical reflection. It should come as no surprise that it has such reorienting power, when the very principle of inertia, as a frame of reference, delimits the primary interface between the self-positioning of the I and what the I can measure of the world.
Too much has been said about the role of the observer in modern physics, and it has even been claimed that its inclusion would close the gap open with classical mechanics, but since the principle of inertia remains untouched, this is manifestly false. On the contrary, subjective factors have been introduced where they were not needed, besides causing other unnecessary breaks and degradations in the classical continuity of the equations.
Neither classical nor quantum mechanics are universal, but the geometric phase is, and this alone makes it an inescapable bridge between both. One might think that the transition zone would be more or less at the molecular level, but the reality is simpler, more elusive and more interesting: since there can be no separation between both domains except in our formalisms, there must be a slipknot between the partial ends of the two theories.
But applied physicists and technicians seek to bridge both domains without dwelling on what they have in common, which is quite a task. It is a matter of exploiting resources while ignoring unity as much as possible, as if they fear it might be a threat to their designs. Something very similar happens with attempts to establish a direct connection between brains and machines, where they try to translate, transmit and reproduce impulses while ignoring the elusive background of the experience that contains it.
If we cannot say that classical mechanics give us the «external» side of mechanics, nor quantum mechanics the «internal» side, it is, among other things, because quantum mechanics also assumes a determinism of local motion; that is, it assumes that global consistency arise from the integration of the local despite the fact that time synchronization is given in advance. For the vast majority of neuroscientists, the challenge of understanding the higher functions of the brain does not involve quantum mechanics at all, but rather questions of complexity and organization at various scales within the classical domain; however, in any case, how synchronization occurs, which is the real crux of the problem, remains unexplained.
We should never have accepted the principle of inertia even if, after the long time of its laborious construction, it seemed the easiest way forward. We should have rejected it from the outset as a matter of principle. But the bait has been swallowed all the way down, and now that we have observed its implications at length, it only remains to apply thoroughly the retrogressive method from interpretations to means, and from means to principles, to recede within the principles themselves from the later ones in historical order to the former.
Certainly, within all the tertiary retention of consciousness that exists in the materialized form of technology, there is a very special one in the principle of global synchronization implicit in the third «law»; just as there is a «secondary retention» in our picture of interaction that corresponds to the second, and a «primary retention» at the most immediate level in relation to the first. Even if it is true that in the civilizing process the tertiary always involves the secondary and the primary, the same is true at the level of principles, and here we have the best chance of asses it.
Global and local are recurring notions of both power and physics, but they are understood in the sense of space, not time. The retarded potentials seem to indicate that the global synchronizer leaves timelines in the shadows. There is no need to go very far in Nature to get a more precise idea of what this means: the model is above our heads, in the sky surrounding the planet.
Those who push us towards a horizon of biodigital convergence will try to use the connection that holonomy involves as a recourse to plug us into the network as directly as they can, ignoring as much as they can its meaning and implications; exactly as it is already done, excused by the same adopted principles, with all kinds of biological manipulations. And in good reciprocity, we will use that same connection to make a deeper contact with that physical reality they want to cancel.
There is, of course, another horizon and it is up to us to broaden it and keep it clear. The descending path of subjection entails incessant complexification, endless technicalities and increasing opacity; the ascending path must seek as much as possible simplicity, universality and the relegated intelligibility. And, of course, there is still something beyond these two paths that must never be forgotten.
So we should investigate, for example, the most basic relations of the geometric phase and the retarded potential with the movements of the human body, organic functions, acoustics, musical creation, and finally with consciousness itself within an amechanical perspective.
How is it that the relationship between the geometric phase and music has not yet been explored? Anyone would think that something present in parallel parking or screwing a light bulb lacks any interest, and yet, properly contemplated and connected, it can take us from the most trivial to the most sublime.
To grasp the naked reality, any kind of technical artifice or concept is superfluous. However, we see that there is a way back that can take up again the mediations and complexity of scientific discourse towards simplicity. This retroprogressive path inevitably has its own rules, justified by the fact that neither its practices nor its objectives coincide with those of the present technoscience.
Much has been written about machines and desire but here we have pointed to biofeedback as an exponent of a possible inflection. It hints at a will of opposite sign to that «will to will» governed by compulsion; and it also hints at an adaptive internal perceptual continuum that also plays an active role at a different level. Even if any external signal has a very limited range of action, in certain cases some of them may be sufficient to establish certain conditions of equilibrium and the idea of a general balance that could be far-reaching, either by exact analogy or by analogical transposition beyond the quantitative. The geometric phase of the signal would be the eye of the needle between variable action/perception cycles.
In this context, various feedback experiments with biological and physical signals can be carried out and certain «applications» hitherto unthinkable can be conceived. In the face of technologies of unlimited possibilities, powered by the digital plasticity, there are other technologies of real limits that do not lend themselves to escapism or the flights of dataism, even if their signals are digitally mediated. Analog or digital, the important thing is not to catch mice, the important thing is where it looks. There is in the digital and the analogical another life and another impulse.
Biofeedback is simply a detour that allows us to use machines to return to the reality of our physical organism, just as it allows us to use graphic signals that are nothing more than representations to tune functions that exist independently of our mental pictures. Our very organism, at the most basic level, shows signs of something that does not allow itself to be reduced to the afferent and efferent structures of the cycles of perception and action, and the liberation of structures is precisely the way forward, not only in technologies but in general.
The retroprogressive approach makes it possible to connect formal and informal knowledge in the fourth person, which for logical thinking can only be conceived in the same sense that one can speak of a «fourth principle of mechanics», or to the same extent that its conventional «three laws» merge into a single Principle without seams nor closures.
Since the third principle of action and reaction already implies equilibrium just as the first principle of dynamic equilibrium that replaces the “law of inertia”, there should be nothing to prevent their more direct and fluid connection except the way of describing the force or the action principle. And on the other hand, we have already seen that forces can also be defined by an imbalance between rotational and translational motions, and that this also has implications for time and for the space occupied by matter.
The Lagrangian action principle can also be defined as a balance between minimum energy change and maximum entropy production. Thus, entropy is already within the «fundamental» laws themselves, and since «order» produces more entropy than «disorder» and entropy tends spontaneously to the maximum, the question and the vulgar clichés about disorder, entropy and finality are completely reversed, and we can have another idea of equilibrium, «information», «design» and evolution of natural systems.
We have spoken of two great modes of intelligence, and to study the purposeless intelligence of Nature leads our utilitarian intellect back to that timeless intellect; physics itself has pretended this, trying to hide its enormous utilitarian bias. But it is not possible to deceive oneself in this respect: where there are «universal laws» there is no room left for natural intelligence. Inevitably, some of us start from a certain a priori knowledge that has little interest in the results of experience, while for others results are everything while knowledge is rather a presumption.
Fourth person knowledge, as continuity, exists always and we are not going to invent it; the only thing we can modify is the connection between this consciousness and the other three moments of knowledge, in the first person or subjective, in the second person by interaction with objects and the world, and in the third person by language and generalization. The thinking mind, the consciousness of objects, is discrete by its very nature; therefore any continuity that exists does not depend on it. For thought, «consciousness itself» is both an empty set and the ultimate possible synthesis, exactly like the primary homogeneous undifferentiated medium that underlies everything and cannot be produced. Both are the Alpha and the Omega whose supreme identity is to be found.
Today there is much talk of the discrete digital infinity, inaugurated with language and that with code we want to take to the ultimate consequences; but there are never ultimate consequences for what has already established an arbitrary cut with reality, however much it may want to swallow and assimilate it, since it is the cut itself that provokes its insatiable hunger.
Between the continuous and the discrete we have the finite, but the differential calculus, to give an example, even having the limit as an a posteriori foundation is still basically an infinitesimal method, not a finite method. And yet finite difference analysis is much more in tune with the relational ideal of homogeneity in the quantities of the equations and allows us to approach it if it is substantiated and applied systematically in dimensional analysis and measure theory. We said that there is no better way to delve into pure mathematics than to refine the method of its physical applications, and here we would have a good example.
In the continuous→finite→discrete→ sequence of calculus and data processing, and its discrete→finite→continuous counterpart, the finite has never had a substantive role, but a purely contingent one. And yet it is only by giving it back that substantive character within the calculus itself that we can better see, not only the mathematical continuum, but the homogeneity that lies beyond the physical continuum as its most undifferentiated nature. Apart from the fact that the physical continuum may have properties that physics itself does not use to consider, such as non-differentiability, relativity of scales for forces or fractional number of dimensions. The homogeneous, the most undifferentiated, always contains any order of complexity, and thus one can conceive a homogeneous←continuous←finite←discrete←homogeneous sequence.
Mathematically, homogeneity means nothing. But from the physical point of view, physical homogeneity would be prior and posterior to any conceivable order of complexity in the physical continuum. On the other hand, the very idea of law to which thought clings is a permanent search for the continuity that it lacks in its very nature; a search that also by its very nature cannot be completed. But the sense of this incompletion also changes radically if we reverse the object of the search. In the same way, basic logical-mathematical concepts such as identity, equality and equivalence are completely transformed when they are applied to the multiple possible physical equilibria as these in turn also tend to the maximum of homogeneity. If there is a retroprogressive method in the physics-mathematics continuum there must also be, in terms of code, a retroprogramming that has nothing to do with the use of obsolete software.
Measurement is a synthesis of quality and quantity, but quality takes precedence over quantity. The increase of homogeneity in the physical quantities of the equations facilitates the transparency of the relations, and with it, the emergence of proportions, which are relations of relations, returning in a certain way the quantitative to the qualitative. All this should be seen under the prism of the finite, constant differential calculus, and, beyond it, of homogeneity, for it is in homogeneity without qualities that qualities unfold without obstructions.
We also assume that there is always a non-intuitive immediate knowledge that is identical to fourth-person knowledge. The close correspondence between the method of constant differential calculus and the execution of tasks without knowing how they are performed, such as catching a fly ball, show us that this immediate non-intuitive knowledge is something always underlying and not some kind of unattainable ideal.
The difficulty then is not in attaining «intuition,» for we know that this is but an extension of our habits beyond their ordinary reach; but in connecting our intuitions with this other constant knowledge. The way to this cannot be axiomatics, with its obstructive idea of foundations; it is not a matter of deriving reasonings from the principle but of leading them back to it. True intelligence lies in seeing in the undifferentiated, the differentiated can already be seen by anyone.
We can see Nature as an endless dance around a point outside any movement, and also around a point of dynamic equilibrium that would be everywhere. This allows us to establish a double analogy: an exact analogy, of the same type as those used by physics for its predictions, and an analogical transposition beyond any measure, in which the medium-consciousness uses physical descriptions and representations as a symbol of itself and for itself. This does not require complex models, but rather the elimination of certain presuppositions about the nature of physical reality.
In the present state of technoscience, an extremely complex and tortuous theory demands, by definition, apparatuous applications, that is, applications that have to be realized through equally sophisticated machines and with as many layers stacked on top of each other as the theories themselves. But if our idea of retroprogress has some depth, between knowledge and power there must be a form of practice with objectives, angles and an intention incommensurable with the ideas of current technology. Even today the idea of practice in the arts still is a model, and the same could be said of many old «techniques», without ignoring the fact that now we proceed from different conditions. It is essential to create new examples, but practice, in the higher sense of the term, must always guide both technique and theory.
Some may take the path back to the simpler with a wealth of formal knowledge and others may immediately hit the target with their more undivided attention; but while some pull and others push, it is excellent that both can share one same orientation. Bridging formal and informal knowledge has been impossible since the beginning of the scientific revolution.
A large part of the scientific ideas that we indicate come from the works of André Assis, Gennady Shipov, Mario Pinheiro, Miles Mathis, Nicolae Mazilu, Nikolay Noskov, Peter Alexander Venis and other researchers of whom I have already given references in previous writings. These works point, from different angles, to a transformation of our vision of mathematical physics from its foundations, which apparently has no place in a discipline that only allows itself to grow forward, towards the speculative sector of theoretical physics.
And, naturally, the ultimate horizon of theoretical physics can only be the unification of the forces of Nature, at the level of its laws and their evolution in time. But any attempt at unification without due attention to the foundation is like wanting to produce unity without having to go through it —just as one would want to unravel «the mystery of consciousness» without having to go through self-consciousness, and vice versa. However, the always unappreciated unity of life is infinitely more important than any of our theories, and the mere fact that these poor theories of ours seek attunement with it already enhances their value.
We hope to open soon a new website with a collaborative spirit and the intention of distilling that fourth-person consciousness contained in, between and beyond the other three. To begin with it will be a virtual space, but the goal is to create a communication of a different order than the one that prevails today in the scientific community or the web itself. It is rather a matter of finding a communion in aspiration and knowledge, not by adhesion but by a common orientation that counts on the goal itself as an effective means.
The Principle is the goal, and only the Principle itself has the capacity to align otherwise highly divergent efforts. And it is good, and it is inevitable, that we have to look again to the Principle from the complexity of multiple perspectives. We have noted the role that in these circumstances the multispecialist, the antipode of the current «expert», is called upon to play as a knower of various specialties who is not compromised by the corporate interests of any of them. He alone today has the freedom of perspective and the technical competence to create a new course in a totally controlled and bureaucratized techno-scientific landscape.
Mathematicians also have an important role to play. They too have technical competence and a freedom of perspective regularly frustrated by having to offer their services for purposes too often unworthy of an uncompromising intellect, which is precisely what characterizes mathematics. Somehow they will have to get even for the now clearly perverse misappropriation of their talents. Or the programmers of the world, for example, including graphics programmers. But the need to direct our talents in another direction is general.
Let us also keep in mind that the relationship between pure and applied mathematics today is mediated by a tool par excellence, calculus, which has reversed the natural relationship between predictions and the physical geometry of problems, which is why it is of enormous importance to recover a less instrumentalized point of view. The balance between prediction and description is critical to the depth of our vision, and this balance was abruptly broken with the establishment of differential and integral calculus. However, this balance can be recovered and there are alternatives that yield solutions.
For starters, we will propose a series of ideas, themes, and argumentative threads already pointed out in previous writings so that they can be elaborated and developed by those with interest in them. We will try to pose problems that make sense and with a needed against the current orientation, problems in which an advance is possible without the need for special means. Some of the topics of interest will be retroprogress, fourth-person knowledge, wave mechanics, the connection between waves and vortices, the connection between light and sound, the hypercontinuum of dimensions within a homogeneous medium, the individuation process, indeterminacy relations and dimensional analysis, the ignored aspects of differential calculus, the «anholonomic music», power laws, retroprogramming, the relationship between thermomechanics and thermodynamics, equilibrium, new links between reversibility and irreversibility, the reversal of reverse engineering in practice and theory, experimentation with biofeedback, or a general theory of health and aging that only for powerful reasons still does not exist.
Everything can find here another value, both the contributions with a high technical level, as well as the connections between multiple subjects, the emergence of a new idea of practical application and functionality or the never sufficient appreciation of the various symbolic levels of any logic or object of knowledge. Precisely with modern mechanics begins the reduction of our idea of becoming to efficient causes that are no less imaginary than others but that polish the tabula rasa of the permanent process of desymbolization.
We know that art and wonder are at the other extreme of modern technology and theoretical science. Let us think what music and the plastic arts have managed to do with two of our senses, vision and hearing, and let us think of the present physical theory of light and sound. According to this theory, light and sound waves are more dissimilar than equal, and no real connection can be established between them. And yet for this same theory it was not hard to reveal a fundamental continuity between both types of waves that has sunk into the shadows, waiting for someone to rescue it. A continuity that can also be established at various levels without the slightest detriment to theoretical rigor.
To speak of the relationship between light and sound is to a large extent to speak of the relation between space and matter, those other two great unknowns in our representation of the world. But we have already seen that even today the most basic relationships of combination between the motion of rotation and translation, or between rotors and oscillators, are still ignored, though they are at the very basis of all our technology. But beyond and before that, this combination of waves and vortices, in the broadest sense of the term, generates the infinity of organic forms that we observe in Nature. It has been precisely the excessive utilitarianism of theory, its opportunism and short-sightedness, that has prevented us from opening up to the contemplation of the six dimensions of space in our ordinary experience and the extraordinary prodigies that their equilibrium unfolds.
In 1820, Oersted discovered in a very simple way the relationship between electricity and magnetism, and we have already seen what is still coming out of it. Recovering the links between light and sound that our own theories have buried, and following them to their source with the proper disposition could have equal or greater consequences, although in almost the opposite direction. Let us not forget, moreover, that even of electromagnetism, the natural force we think we know best, we have just an utilitarian concept.
When in technoscience we speak of principles, means and ends, we should keep in mind that the end of the theory, the interpretation, is the starting point of experiment and application. Interpretation, far from being a philosophical luxury that the physicist allows himself at the end of the day, outlines with its description and representation the field of technical applications. In 1956 Bohr and von Neumann arrived at Columbia to tell Charles Townes that his idea of a laser, which required the perfect alignment in phase of a large number of light waves, was impossible because it violated Heisenberg’s inviolable Uncertainty Principle. The rest is history. But now the tale is that quantum mechanics predicts and makes lasers possible.
This is more the rule than the exception. Theorists are specialists in confiscating experimental achievements and having the last word on them; for a way is always found for the theory to finally «predict» the results that are in plain sight. Of course, a theory that can come to predict anything a posteriori is not a great theory, but a great rationalization, and this is true for any kind of theoretical standard, whose main virtue consists precisely in providing a standard for calculations. Think, for example, of a theory as «restrictive» as quantum electrodynamics, which subtracts infinity from infinity in recurrent cycles of calculation until the expected result is reached. Today everything is justified in the name of prediction, but Ptolemy’s epicycles also had a predictive capacity unsurpassed for their time.
It could be argued that, at worst, the theory is not obstructing the pursuit of new technical applications. This may be true to some extent; but let us keep in mind that the divergence between Bohr and Townes, between theory and the average innovative application, is minimal compared to that which might occur if the technician were to start from the beginning from a different interpretation, different means and different principles —since other goals and uses could also be conceived that are hardly commensurable with the present ones. From principles to ends, passing through the means, there is a round trip, a double direction that creates the continuum between science and technology, but the amplitude of the circle of technoscience possibly passes through the degree of reversibility, or unobstructedness, between principles and ends. On the other hand, if we could see without obstructions from interpretations to principles through means, we would probably not miss formal knowledge nor technical mediations.
Overcoming the principle of inertia within mechanics is equivalent to taking the first and most important step in this process of unobstruction. The same division between principles, means and ends within a continuum already exists at the very heart of the three principles of mechanics, and it is no small thing to understand that the third principle, with its systematic closure and its global synchronization, is the whole horizon to which classical mechanics can aspire in its symbolic economy, the limit of its interpretation; for if one were to see this beforehand, one would perhaps seek to understand things differently. But there is also a correspondence between these three principles and the three moments of temporality or the three aspects, structural, functional and symbolic, that we have distinguished in technique itself.
All this brings us back to fundamental symbolic and semiotic issues. The same ternary division of man into body, soul and spirit, and other analogous divisions that applied to cosmology in the cultures that preceded us, are still in correspondence with modern principles even if their intention and range of application could not be further apart. Discounting some eccentric logician like Peirce, perhaps the last one with some awareness of this correspondence was the one who did most to establish their definitive separation, Isaac Newton himself.
This recurrence is not the product of logical recursion but the effect of a «symbolic resonance» that is not inscribed in language but rather circumscribes it. And, needless to say, its consideration is totally irrelevant, if not counterproductive, for the modes of reasoning of modern science. In a context of efficient causes, dwelling on them could only create «destructive interference,» to continue with the wave simile. And yet, beyond this limited context, they allow us to contemplate «constructive interferences» between various levels that can also have their own meaning.
Thinking by correspondences is prior to the development of logic and in such a sense still involves us without our realizing it; which does not detract from the fact that the same correspondence is one of the most basic and fruitful ideas of logic itself, mathematics, physics or the theory of truth. On the other hand, various theories of the emergence of consciousness in the brain are based on neuronal resonance and its problematic synchronization. However, the same three principles of relational dynamics contain a local temporal adjustment of potentials in which various levels are already environmentally connected. We leave this paralogy open for those who wish to delve deeper into it.
Fourth-person knowledge is not to be confused with the collective intelligence that emerges from discussion and mediation, in technoscience for example, since such collective intelligence ends and is always exhausted in the same tertiary order. If we assume that it exists always and at all times, the only thing we can do is to try to connect our tertiary representations with it, by more or less rigorous analogies; or to connect our always incomplete intuitions with a knowledge that we do not intuit but is already immediately given. Since there is harmony between this knowledge and the «fourth principle of mechanics,» the analysis and synthesis of the operation of the latter serves to get an idea of the former.
Elsewhere we have seen how the evolution in time of a spherical wave in the six dimensions of space serves as a very simplified model of individuation of an entity; and we have also seen that considering six dimensions is not an obstacle to the intuition of organic forms but rather the opposite. Similarly, analogous models can be presented for knowledge, whether at the most reductive level of information, or at any other broader level; if on the one hand a wave or oscillator allows the emission, transmission and reception of a message, on the other hand we can directly apply to it the interference or parallel transport that characterizes the very same geometric phase that they try to exploit for things like the so-called «quantum computation».
The difference is that while the technologist tries to obtain a performance from operations whose physical representation is pointless, from the point of view of this other knowledge the correspondence between the representation of the evolution and the environment surrounding it has a critical value for the extent of its resonance in the field of the knower itself. Needless to say, we use here the word «field» by analogy, in a much simpler, more general and naturalistic sense than the present field theories. In this way a radically different horizon of knowledge from the present one can be created, capable of distilling its own quality of convergence.
Although the wave-vortex model is absolutely general and does not pretend to deal with the complex questions of electrodynamics, it is not superfluous to recall that the orthogonality of electromagnetic waves is not a geometric aspect but a statistical average between space and matter; nor is it superfluous to recall Hertz’s distinction between material particle, as a point of application for forces, and material point, as a volume that can contain any number of material particles —and that both already comprise the wave-particle duality that would later come to the forefront in quantum mechanics. Or remember that de Broglie’s matter waves imply a vibration internal to the bodies, which the theory cannot fit properly because material particles are not considered to have volume either.
Bearing these things in mind, among others, one can come closer to understanding how it can be that the interactions of matter and light, in the laboratory no less than in our common experience, take place within a homogeneous and otherwise unchanging medium, and that if this is understandable it is because one oneself is that medium which is nowhere and nowhen.
Venis’ sequence connecting waves and vortices also evolves in six dimensions combining oscillation and rotation, but in this case it is not a mechanical model but a phenomenological morphology independent of any metric or measuring process. In its projective space of continuous dimensions one can contemplate not only the infinite becoming of forms but also their permanent connection with the surrounding environment.
It is extraordinary that we are unable to have a complete idea of the evolution of a spherical wave in three dimensions, which implies a continuous deformation at all points as in Huygens’ principle of propagation of light, and yet we can «intuit» retrospectively, with the invaluable help of logic, its evolution in six. But what is also intuited in all this representation, without ever finishing to encompass it, is the pure transience and the necessarily superficial character of its manifestation.
The original «holographic principle”, that of Gabor, already unknowingly included the geometric phase loop. However, it is a supreme irony that the ultra-speculative theoretical physics has only granted it the status of a universal principle after deducing it from the ultimate horizon of a supposed gravitational singularity, aka «black hole». So the «holographic principle» of the speculative horizon of physics says that any possible event or information of the physical world is contained in a two-dimensional surface, something that has not ceased to sow all kinds of perplexities, even if we always had to know that all our knowledge comes through the agency of light.
Of course, in a relational mechanics in which retarded potentials are ubiquitous and therefore also present in gravity, such a singularity is impossible because as the velocity of the masses increases the force binding them decreases. One has to go to a theoretical extreme such as a black hole to see clearly how general relativity continues to pay tribute to absolute time and absolute forces independent of the environment. But if that which for the theory only arises in the extreme is already apparent at any time and under any conditions, there should be no internal need to bring it out. Here the irreversible is in the evolution of the theoretical horizon itself, not in Nature. But this contains something even more problematic, when physicists like to think that the fundamental laws are reversible, whereas in an open medium reversibility does not seem to makes sense.
Any closed system possessed by an absolute dynamism must lead to a singularity: it cannot have any other theoretical horizon. And here the counterpoint for human creations, in the form of a «technological singularity”, cannot be missing. However, a geometric phase can also be seen as a gap or singularity in the topology of motion, not in the pathological sense, but in the much more elementary sense of not being integrable in the contour of the closed system.
And this non-closed contour is precisely the principle of individuation of forms so wonderfully reflected in Venis’ sequence. And although one would not have to say that the principle of individuation is prior to the individual, it still becomes necessary in a time that has pretended that the individual is the only principle of everything; an individual that would be as closed and atomic as the laws he assumed and applied with utmost generality. Let us say, for the rest, that any particle must be an ephemeral configuration independently of its duration or stability, by the mere fact that it does not become apparent without interaction.
At any level, the geometric phase is the interface par excellence between systems that are otherwise defined as closed: this is its irreplaceable strategic character, which can only become apparent when, firstly, everything «fundamental» is considered closed, and, secondly, «connectivity» between more and more «closed» or «atomic systems» begins to proliferate. But since it is excluded from our principles, it remains just one more contingency.
In a rather opposite but not exclusive sense, the geometric phase can also be interpreted as a transition of scales, as well as a transition between dimensions. Regardless of the fact that the Venis sequence is only a projective unfoldment still out of touch with the quantitative domain of physics, it offers us an invaluable and still entirely undeveloped link between modern physics as a domain of nomos and the becoming of physis eclipsed by the Law. Even in the domain of differential geometry and calculus it raises a number of questions that have not yet known the contrast between our intuition and our reason. In any case, the understanding of the evolution of an individual entity as such seems to me infinitely more interesting than forced speculations and blind applications.
Depending on the physical case, its description and interpretation, a geometric phase can be seen as a parallel transport, as a self-induction, as a curvature or flow of the symplectic form, as a conical intersection of potential energy surfaces, as a transition between dimensions, as a torsion or a change in density, as a phase transition, as a point of degeneracy, as a retarded potential, as the gap in the Lagrangian, as a resonance, as an holographic interference, as a loop, as an enslaving principle, as a hole or singularity of the topology of motion, as a proper time or timeline, as a memory, as an interface or other ways that need not be mutually exclusive.
Why does a geometric phase admit so many interpretations? Poincaré already noted that any «fundamental law» expressed by an action principle admits an unlimited number of possible causes, which would therefore become irrelevant. The geometric phase, on the contrary, admits an unlimited number of global ways of seeing the gap of local causality.
Since global synchronization, by definition, cannot be within dynamics understood as the domain of interaction, with respect to the potential it is dynamics itself that reacts, and it is in dynamics that one should speak of a proper time between actions and reactions: the ideas of locality and causality are due precisely to this, not the other way around, as is currently thought.
The assembly and overall design of human machines yields a fairly unambiguous causality and sense, even though the natural forces on which they are based, such as gravity or electricity, can never have them. Thus, our idea of causality is based on the synchronization of parts (end), the application of forces (means) and materials (principle).
From this point of view, it is clear that the creation of the mechanical clock in the Middle Ages is by far the main development of modern technology, the one that most defines its spirit. What the industrial revolution adds is the exploitation of forces, and the computer-driven digital revolution is inscribing this spirit more and more deeply into matter through an increasingly minimalist control of forces. And the ultimate limit of this tendency would be the exploitation of quantum potentials; but this obfuscation with things that can only offer diminishing returns prevents us from seeing the loose end of the matter.
If we ignore the efficiency of the physical medium, the very disposition of mechanics obliges us to believe in efficient causes even if we refrain from identifying them, and it is up to forces of whatever kind to fill this gap; insofar as we have it, whether we call it homogeneous medium, vacuum or whatever we like, we can contemplate physical processes beyond causality and see at the same time how we insert our human ideas of causes in between. This coincidence of the causal and the acausal, which can certainly be understood at many different levels, points itself to fourth-person knowledge.
Finally we need to assess the meaning of the retroprogressive movement in general and its virtue in the present juncture. On the one hand, retroprogress is an integral part of the permanent turning back on itself of reflective consciousness; on the other hand, from a natural point of view, it is part of the animal need to re-appropriate the possibilities offered by the environment. But today both movements are systemically and systematically obstructed in this terminal phase of a certain civilizing process, and the escapes available for this increasingly violent retention are just pathetically gross substitutes.
Today neither the theoretical sciences can afford the luxury of freely evaluating their own foundations, nor can technologies revise the standards on which they are built. A typical example of a standard that has been shown to be irreversible is the arrangement of letters on the keyboard, expressly conceived to keep manual typewriters from frequent jamming; today this limitation makes no sense on the computer, yet no one has been able to change it. But the theories also have defined themselves as standards, and it is not by chance that today we speak of the standard model of particle physics or the standard cosmological model. There is also a whole historical sedimentation of standards in multiple layers at both the theoretical and technical levels. This sedimentation or accumulation, this systemic obstruction of the possibility of return, is the «living» image of the inertia of civilization, or to put it better, the irreversible in the accretion of its structure.
And everything suggests that we are at the end of a long cycle of accumulation that is already more than half a millennium old; although this period would be very little had it not remade in its own image all that preceded it, with its more vast, slower and surely also more powerful cycles. Knowledge and power were the two feet on which the fatuous man of the Renaissance believed himself to stand, but in the first phase of its unfolding the very process of the expansion of knowledge prevented to asses the movement of power in the opposite direction; now, at the end of this process, there is no knowledge that is not felt as an exercise of power, and a deliberate power in fact. The first liberalism also presented itself as a suppression of frontiers; but in reality what it did was to destroy the existing structures in order to impose its own, which now, having colonized the whole territory, are only perfected in their control and closure. That today’s so-called liberals do just the opposite of what they always preached speaks eloquently of the fulfillment of the cycle.
Knowledge and power compensate each other with the most exquisite equilibrium even where their proportion seems to be most unbalanced, of this we can be sure with the most apodictic of certainties, for there is no better safeguard for the world, for any world. Many will think it is pointless to question the principles of mechanics as we have done, but apart from the fact that here we are dealing with an absolute necessity, it places us on a line of minimum resistance and maximum opposition, which is at the same time a line of minimum opposition and maximum resistance. And the axis of the cycle we are talking about revolves at the confluence between historical inertia, physical inertia and our idea of both.
The last consequences of the idea of physical inertia are to be found in the systematic violation of all inter-species barriers by biotechnologies. Despite the vast mountain of empirical evidence to the contrary, genes are still considered as carriers of a digital code. And ultimately it is thought that they have to be a language, because it is assumed that without it biomolecules would be inert and stupid. But here too, once again, the reality is almost the reverse: to be a reliable vehicle of biological inheritance, DNA must of necessity be an extremely stable, and therefore passive, molecule. What really play an active role are the globular proteins and enzymes, truly the first level of organized life in their own right, which are able to build DNA and all kinds of proteins with a variable response depending on their environment. Life has made DNA, not the reverse.
Biotechnologists cannot claim ignorance of this and many other elementary realities of molecular biology, and yet they speak and act as if such realities did not exist. Much more than a language for the plans of a building, genes are themselves building material, which, yes, may be more in tune with some shapes and functions or others, which in any case come, where else, from the environment surrounding these massive and clumsy molecules. But this cannot be reduced to code, and the idea of code and its program continues to have an irresistible attraction for those willing to combine and recombine everything.
We do not act according to our ideas, but rather our ideas reflect what we do and want to do. This is always the case, but now that technoscience is indistinguishable from politics and we have entered fully into technopolitics and digital techno-feudalism, we can verify firsthand what this means. This does not detract from the fact that such willful ignorance is criminal, especially when we are talking about full-scale manipulation of life.
Globalism is the greatest enemy of the planet, and those who push it are the last people who could talk about saving it. Its fate would not matter to them in the slightest were it not for the fact that they still have to live with its troublesome inhabitants. Globalism sees the planet as a portfolio of assets and all life as a reservoir of potentially useful genetic resources. And the best proof of the extent to which they despise life is to be found in the very biological theory and practices they promote in the most determined way. Any fabricated threat pales in the face of this.
Every power tainted with the meticulous and deliberate adulteration of life is destined to fall, for one cannot confuse the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge with impunity; especially if you are willing to ignore life to such an extent. Such powers attract the worst misfortunes upon mankind and the rest of the species, things more undesirable than extinction. And those of us who are witnessing all this cannot remain silent, for the loss of man’s dignity has already gone too far, and by keeping silent we prepare ourselves for still far greater indignities.
It is said that we only really fight for our immediate interests but that is not true. One should not only worry about the consequences for oneself of the stupid machinations of those who claim to be masters of life, one should begin by rejecting their whole program and their repugnant means from beginning to end and in the most radical way. For the self-serving premise from which they start, that living beings and our machines are the same, is manifestly false even for a child, and the most that the development of such an approach can achieve is a refining of simulacra; in a word, of lie and deception at all levels.
So their starting point is simply unacceptable; we will not say their principles because it is obvious they have none. Moreover, it is unacceptable not only morally but also from a theoretical and technical point of view. And the first thing needed to reject this power is to reject its assumptions and pseudo-principles, which is already half way to have principles of your own.
Most technicians and scientists do not realize how far the colonization of their minds has gone because they do not care either, as they are already satisfied with being able to work within a framework with established rules and within a community that seems to give meaning to their effort; but the best among them have little to do within the present mediocrity. The sciences have created a whole narrative of mavericks, revolutionaries and misunderstood prophets, but the truth is that today, even with all these so-called «disruptive technologies», they have more inertia and things to hide than the Church that prosecuted Galileo. The tables have turned completely.
One can be sure that the only ones who are bringing science into complete disrepute are not those who criticize it, but the very scientists who have allowed it to reach this state. And, for one thing, even that could be useful to the powers that be, just as the erosion and discrediting of politics is useful to them. They have foreseen scenarios where the bulk of the population turns its back on scientific knowledge so that a small organized caste can work even more freely —and that is almost what is already happening. It is worth asking with what the power will legitimize itself at a given moment, when nobody listens to its priests anymore. But even if they have succeeded in degrading every conceivable angle of knowledge, they will not prevent reason from having the last word, and we certainly will not give up reason.
It has been repeated that what characterizes technocracy is not the pursuit of ends but its emphasis on means and their efficacy; but this is not a very accurate judgment, and even less so in the present circumstances. Already in physics we see that the means, predictions, became ends, from the very beginning and in the most blatant way possible; what can be expected then of everything else. But precisely the fact of elaborating ad hoc theories has made them the straightest way for one thing but inappropriate for everything they ignore.
Our most celebrated physical theories, or calculus itself, often exhibit great inefficiency for tasks that can be solved much more simply by other means. And when they try to connect different theoretical layers together, the combined inefficiency can grow exponentially because each framework has been optimized for one type of problem at the expense of all the others. And the same is often true of technologies and the attempted technical solution to many real-world problems. There we have the great efficiency of our economic model for just one thing, and its enormous destructive effect for almost everything else. The myth of efficiency to which the technocracy clings is already an object of scorn; absorption by ever narrower ends finished it off.
If retroprogress does not seem to us to be the natural dialectic it is, more than anything else, because of the very unilateral exaggeration of the idea of modern progress itself. A type of progress that they still want to force with a funnel even if we do not have the slightest interest in it. What is not yet pondered is the extent to which science, in pursuit of its predictions and solutions, has inverted the perception of problems; nor has it been even remotely pondered that there is a simpler way of dealing with them without renouncing reason and simplicity at all, but rather quite the opposite. Retroprogress traces back this line of resignation of reason seeking its restitution.
To maintain this fiction of irresistible and irreversible progress, we are sold the most ridiculous lines of escape, when all we want is a little bit of unadulterated reality. Nor is almost anyone unaware that these drastic and irreversible changes that they want to force are staged precisely not to change what matters, but quite the opposite: they are intended to modify the entire population so that the small group of perpetrators remains intact. In a word, any appeal that progress could have
has been definitively buried by its latest promoters, in whom unbridled progress and extreme reaction coincide as never before.
As we have said often, the real Megamachine of globalism, the one that envelops and imposes its meaning on everything else, is the inverted pyramid of wealth distribution with its 80/20 power law reiterated almost to the limit, and, according to some simulations, tending to another «singularity» in which all the wealth would belong to one holder and the rest would have nothing. This Great Siphon extracting and pumping wealth from the physical base of resources to the top of the dome has an elementary mathematical structure in which many things are nevertheless inscribed. Despite the simplicity of this structure, which also plays an ubiquitous role in data mining and data analysis, logistics, marketing, management, administration, and a long etcetera that boils down to optimizing the exploitation of resources, its full-scale study is systematically ignored in all the sermons of economists and sociologists even when they pretend to deal with the «problem of inequality”.
Which demonstrates once again to what extent the sciences, whether natural or human, with their «formidable analytical resources», are controlled discourses integrated into the official narratives. And it also demonstrates to what extent this public discourse has little to do with the real analysis of data that is routinely done behind closed doors.
If in discussing technology it is inescapable to contrast Machine and Nature, here we have a case of particular interest, since power laws and its manifestation in the frequency domain are also ubiquitous in all kinds of physical and biological processes, including our own brain, a very complex form of society. Some have wanted to see this as evidence that inequality is simply «natural», but it seems obvious that the «freedom of scale» that capital has had to grow, the condition for its permanent accumulation, is, more than inheritance, the appropriation of the mechanisms of money and credit creation —for it is also obvious that the inverted pyramid of wealth reflects the mountain of aggregated and accumulated debt of our economies.
In the Great Siphon, monetary, digital, media, state and other large institutional mechanisms are integrated in a way that is at once hierarchical and non-hierarchical, as vertical as the slope of inequality and as horizontal and «anonymous» —in an anonymity proportional to the quantity- as the flow of money; and while the distribution itself is continuous, the number of elements among which it is distributed is always a discrete set. It is clear that only a small part of what is being learned about this power law ends in the public dominion, but there is a great key here to the relationship —and the divergence- between Nature and civilization, and between the supposed liquidity of money and the most vertical hierarchies. Independent studies will be needed to unravel this link, but this is not one of those intractable problems. Contrasting the hydraulic system of debt with the limits of natural processes will bring sunlight into this rarefied crypt.
All the monetary engineering, financial engineering, social engineering, media concertation, knowledge engineering, genetic engineering, etc., are directly indebted to the Great Siphon structure and work to protect it, since it not only accumulates at the top almost all the surplus purchasing power but also channels it. Any society worth of that name will have to do everything necessary to ensure that this structure of massive suction and optimization of collapse never happens again, for such a monument to dysfunctionality not only generates grotesque inequality but corrupts everything it touches, molding it in its own image and likeness. This is what must end.
Any important truth can be understood at many different levels, and conversely, if a process is only known at the level of prediction, as so many are in physics or probability, we understand it poorly or we don’t understand it at all —no matter how deftly the equations are handled. Since power laws occur equally in Nature and in human processes —from fundamental physical laws to the size of cities, corporations, earthquakes, grains of sand and stars- and a huge mass of statistical information has been accumulated about them, the degree of knowledge that the best experts may have about it is surely halfway between effective understanding and predictive ignorance. One may have almost everything to fully understand the phenomenon, except the necessary disposition to assimilate it.
But there is no need of math to know that in any human group those who take the initiative are a small fraction, and that their proportion and influence extends in a more or less continuous way as far as the number of the population allows. Nor is mathematics necessary to understand that the advantage gained from this initiative can be accumulated and amplified over time through inheritance and the control of the most vital mechanisms for the functioning of the whole.
We understand this without difficulty from our own experience in social interaction as well as from the accumulated experience of history itself. In this case, the critical mathematical elements are the ratio 1/5-4/5 of the «law of the vital few» and the number of times the power is repeated, which must necessarily depend on the scale. Because it is undeniable that this tendency also exists in small communities, and what gives it its monstrous implications is the unrestricted expansion of scale.
This unrestricted expansion in space is opposed by increasing restrictions in time. A very basic aspect of the increase in complexity is the correlative increase of systemic restrictions: this increasing restriction, this fragilization, is something as basic as the aging process we experience in our body, and yet it is generally neglected in the descriptions and analysis of development. Which is not surprising if one notices the implications.
The cycle of expansion is followed by a cycle of contraction: but here we are no longer talking about economic cycles but about vital cycles. Actually, this whole cycle of concentration of wealth that begins with the expansion of Europe until it ceases to be Europe to become “the West» is a cycle of dissipation of energies that had accumulated for at least another five hundred or maybe one thousand years. This first phase grew inward and distilled qualities, while the second phase grew outward expanding the reign of quantity to its ultimate frontiers. Already within the expansive cycle a few awakened enthusiasm and took advantage of the enormous surplus of inner energy of the population, while now to subsist the system takes advantage of the lack of energy, channeling the scarce surplus as best it can.
Evidently, here the collapse will not coincide with any kind of singularity either, since all the surplus wealth accumulated at the top must somehow buy the adhesion of all that remains below; but this massive buying of wills translates mostly into serfdom, generalized corruption, increased restrictions and inefficiency, and the sedation and permanent loss of energy so necessary to be able to take a different course.
That is why now more emphasis than ever is placed on the irreversibility of technological changes: what is irreversible is the end of this civilizational cycle, but those who pretend to guide it prefer to see man disappear than disappear themselves. They do not want to have witness to their end.
There are many levels of understanding for the power law and the principle of development; even the evolution of a spherical wave in six dimensions gives valuable knowledge of the self-dual nature of expansion and contraction. But whatever level of knowledge we acquire, it remains useless, if not counterproductive, for the maintenance needs of this system. So, as with everything else, what should concern us is what value it can have for the communities we build, now still on the margins, someday outside of this system.
Today the structure of domination is fundamentally economic, as in other times it was priestly or military. Although the objective is that no such thing exists anymore, we still do not know to what extent this is possible, because to this day it remains a fact that there is no organization without hierarchy. The only way to minimize this fact is the drastic reduction of scale.
The opposite of death is not life but birth; life itself has no opposite. With this in mind we better understand the omnipresence of the forces of death in motion, which do not pretend to be directly homicidal, but are the very embodiment of a resistance to dying that coincides with the opposition to birth. And our relationship with machines, that coagulated spirit, also concretizes in its own schizoid way the resistance and contraction of that which resists death. Because the truth is that machines continue to have an unbreakable connection with us even though we are being strangled by the umbilical cord.
Those who force against nature the irreversibility of the current changes do harm to all those who suffer them but also and especially to themselves. Certainly they still have the traction of the gears of power, but it is the only thing they see of a much longer shaft. By insisting on the irreversibility of the changes, they multiply exponentially the opposition and cut off the possibility of retreat. No matter how many false challenges and false alarms they fabricate to make themselves indispensable, everyone knows that they are not the solution but the problem. Even to «reinvent» themselves in a minimally credible way, they would need radically new things that they are the last ones to be able to create.
The idea of life and knowledge that is held here is diametrically opposed to that of those who believe in the irreversibility of progress, for such irreversibility is nothing but the inert accumulation of its many layers. We all feel that the fullness of life lies in the liberation of structures, but modern technology tends on the contrary to their systematic proliferation and concealment. And what power and what knowledge are those that need so many devices?
If today’s mainstream idea of biology is just the last consequence of a way of understanding the physical world, there is in physics, which would be the holistic science par excellence if this were included in its principles, a still unheard potential to describe satisfactorily the most important aspects of biological life, aging, evolution and health; and also to confront at least the question of consciousness. The «unreasonable ineffectiveness of mathematics» for biology is notorious, but this should not have surprised anyone since, to begin with, the very application of mathematics to physics and its «unreasonable effectiveness» has been nothing but a concatenation of reverse mathematical engineering operations for very specific purposes. For this very reason, there is also another inverse path to simplicity here, which is barely hidden, and that we hope to be able to show.
Despite all its shortcomings, mathematical physics still maintains a connection with the noblest lineage of knowledge. Molecular biology, precisely because it ignores the wonders among which it continually moves, in its present state is nothing more than a condemned fruit. This judgment may sound too manichean, and yet it is physics that must redress the grievance. The sum of the knowledge of a hundred thousand experts in molecular biology is ridiculed by what a tiny enzyme can do; if one day they are up to its level, perhaps they will no longer want to do so many experiments. And yet, that enzyme knowledge depends more on what has been ignored in fundamental physics than on the whole biomolecular tinkering.
It is not man that has to be overcome, but science, and even more so technoscience in its current concept; Man will remain an unknown halfway between Heaven and Earth, between what he is capable of grasping from the infinite sphere of knowledge and what he is capable of concretizing with it. But I do not believe that this planet will allow at this point the coexistence of two different civilizations, one dedicated to the manipulation of life as they please and the other condemned to suffer it without being able to do anything about it.
No, that will not happen; the tension between Heaven and Earth will not allow it, nor that between our knowledge and our action. Therefore, either this whole race will come to a swift and violent end which stop the impious experiments, or an opponent will soon emerge capable of balancing this extreme situation. One can see lines of forces of the planet opposed to the forces of globalization; but in the scene of knowledge nothing similar exists yet, and without this guide, any opposition is defeated in advance.
Which does not mean that a new orientation of science, technology and practice requires the support of any power, but quite the contrary. If it is not able to emerge spontaneously and by its own means, it will not be worthwhile either —if it is a question of opposing a simplicity that is at least as pervasive, as all-encompassing, as the complexity with which modern technologies surround us. To come up with it is not something within the reach of money.
More than a few have sought to free themselves from the structures in the domain of thought, but until now the domain of quantity that has given this system all its capacity for control has remained unchallenged. However, the supposed technical superiority of its analysts has much of an imposing facade, and one can verify that not even the physical dimensions of elementary calculus problems have been correctly analyzed. Without good analysis there can be no good synthesis, but that has always been secondary to the growth of the specialties. Today the panorama of knowledge is simply indescribable, and not only because of technical and historical problems, but also because, as power and science increasingly depend on each other, the number of things that experts must ignore to stay in their positions neutralizes the accumulated knowledge they hoard.
Our perception of reality is always very superficial. Earlier we noted the concurrence of the discourses of power and physics in certain concepts, although, on the other hand, no one ignores that there is a decisive difference between force and power. We also noted that motion, and any physical state, can be described consistently by both equilibrium and imbalance. But how do I feel power, either outside or within myself? Anyone will say as an imbalance, since power tends fatally to be exercised in its totality, although the other way of looking at it, as a permanent dynamic equilibrium and also as a permanent compromise, must be equally true. However, this latter aspect can evade consciousness to very large degrees, since if equilibrium always exists, and the sum of forces is always zero, there is no noticeable change in the balance. Thus, without intending it, fundamental physics seems to lead us to an unsuspected arcanum of power, an arcanum which, curiously enough, would have a blind spot inaccessible to the prevailing physics and mentality.
For as long as there have been stories, we have been told of the struggle between gods and titans, devas and asuras, for the dominion of the cosmos and man; in this respect nothing would be easier today than to establish a narrative that would not be far from reality. However, the truest of these ever-present myths is something that is not captured by time, although it sets in motion the springs of fiction. In the end, neither the one who better deceives nor the one who is not fooled will win, but the one closest to the Principle.
There is virtue in the retroprogressive, a virtue that the fascism of the irreversible makes ever more evident, but also one more elusive virtue that makes the whole wheel of events turn. This virtue does not adhere to anything but allows everything to follow its trace; even power is able to follow it, since it is enough to seek it for it to open a path where it seems to be none.