We are actively engaged in creating the world we experience.
Acts of perception are, in many ways, acts of creation. In perception, as much, and often more, information flows from within us than the total amount of information entering our senses. Our brains reconstruct aspects of previous experience, which are assessed to be present, so as to expend resources attending to what is supposed to be novel perception.
We create culture as a kind of virtualized simulacrum of our experience, and we proceed to inhabit the cultural spaces we have created. It is that culture, so created, which changes us in deep ways, as it requires us to perform to more and more exacting requirements. These cultural requirements for particular perceptions, behaviors, and cognitive states, are communicated via rapidly evolving memes. By virtue of technologies of digital reproduction, memes propagate at Internet speeds and we become – ever more rapidly – more and more alike.
We change the environments in which we live and those environments, in turn, change us. The curious feedback processes involved in an organism which is shaping its environment changes the interactions it will have and in so doing changes itself – amount to a kind of neurological/environmental solipsism. We become ever more virtualized versions of ourselves. And, as maps must contain less information than their territories, irretrievable aspects of our selves are lost.
Because we inhabit the technology and culture we create, we become creatures adapted to those creations. This raises the stakes in terms of the significance of the quality of the content we program into our technological culture. We become more and more programmed by the programs we attend to.
The choices are often framed as ethical ones. The problem with ethical choice-making is that it requires a shared ontology. Instead, given the lack of agreement regarding ontological questions, questions of content can be seen as aesthetic questions, which require less or no ontological underpinnings.
Aesthetic questions are more than matters of taste, they are matters of teleology. Aesthetic decisions influence what we perceive, how we behave, and exactly who we will be. We are programmed by our programs.
Image: “00000100i – self-programmed” – Tullio – 2013