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d:2023-01-07

Meta-fantasies

2023-01-07 (through to 9th)

On the day I started writing this, Victor Vorski shared a short article by Brian Eno from the UK newspaper The Guardian on a group I follow, with the headline “Brian Eno says a new global movement is emerging to save the planet — It’s all about relationships”. In it, Eno writes:

That’s the kind of message that art carries well: “Here’s a world that could exist. Now, how does that feel?”

I've been thinking (e.g. 2022-12-23) around this whole phenomenon of how humans seem to be the only beings on this planet who imagine things that are, in whatever sense, unreal. I see this, and I'm sure many others have seen it, as both a blessing and a curse. From where would come the stimulus for change, that is more than just natural development, if not from imagining something different from what currently exists? On the other hand, what would there be to fight about if there were not conflicting opinions about what would be better than the present condition?

A large majority, if not everyone, has fantasies, I am reliably informed,1) and it may be easiest to start with the reported and familiar example of intimate fantasies about other people. If it's “normal”, then why do people react the way they do when someone reveals fantasies? Could it be, perhaps, that the fact that it is normal to keep fantasies to oneself means that if someone does mention a fantasy, it is taken as a warning that they might act it out?2) I understand, and very much sympathise with, the reaction that I may not want someone to be thinking of me that way. And, for sure, it may be unpleasant to feature in unchosen ways in someone else's imagination. But, given that these things really exist in a part of someone's mind, is it worse to know about it or not?

But I don't want to go into too much detail with that. Another day maybe. I'd rather look at the bigger picture — to use the obvious example to point to what is not so obvious. Investing time and energy in imagining things that cannot happen might be seen as a waste of time; but also, as with Brian Eno, it could be seen as art, at least if it is significant to something in the real world.

There's something I want to unpack here, and I'd be grateful for any help I can get from anyone who reads this. The problem, as I see it, with imagination / fantasy / vision (however you characterise it) is that we aren't very good at working out the consequences of doing what we imagine — what we might not want that could be caused by actions intended to bring about what we envision, or indeed what naturally goes along with the end, the better end state that we envisage. So there are two related reasons why information systems are important.

First, something related to my CHOICE ideas. We may have a vision, but however good it is, it is much more likely to be realised if we join in co-creation with others who have a compatible vision. For any unusual vision, it can be really hard to find the others who share that vision. And one might on occasion not want to be public about one's vision. So there is a need for some computational help in sifting through an amount of information that would be impractical for a human, to find those matches where two or more people have the same rare vision or passion. This is hardly surprising, considering that even the less sophisticated computer dating services are much more effective than personal ads in newspapers.

This is one application of a service to connect offers with wants or needs, in that case being about people offering themselves or wanting others. But any offers and wants service depends on a common vocabulary – maybe even a common ontology – so that an unintelligent computer information system can make those matches with enough accuracy to be useful. Developing those vocabularies and ontologies is important, and doing so in a good way, which I see as collective and participatory.

Go back to Brian Eno again. Yes, for sure, an artist (or a visionary in any medium) can put forward their vision into public view. But what are we to do when thousands of people do this? Can we even find them, let alone scan through all the different visions, to select which one might be most meaningful for us, or even just attractive? There comes a point at which this becomes impractical, much like job searching does similarly. We fall back on what seems to satisfy the pressing need, rather than what really fits best.

Second, some kind of system that helps us figure out and reckon more accurately the consequences of decisions or actions. This could be a knowledge commons, where people share their knowledge and experience directly, or some kind of machine learning or AI system, which would help us to see the causal patterns in the world we interact with.

So, what is needed from information systems is more than just a matching service. It's more like a whole knowledge and information ecosystem. I'll need to develop this line of thinking later, not right now.

One more topic to touch on, though: IFS.

Internal Family Systems thinking likens the individual person to a whole cluster, or family, of parts. To me, this makes great sense of the dangers as well as the potential of fantasy: because a fantasy (particularly an unrealistic one) may represent the wish fulfillment of just one part, not the whole. Using IFS language, what is needed is the ‘Self’ to facilitate the dialogue among parts to check that what seems like the urgent need of one part is not at the same time sabotaging the aspirations of a different, healthy, part; or, indeed, having adverse effects on other people.

My meta-fantasy

In his book, “No Bad Parts”, Dick Schwartz several times invokes the idea of the SELF — beyond the individual Self, this is something larger, something collective, that can be seen as having spiritual significance. Beyond the very valuable practice of being Self-led, we can aspire to being in touch with a greater SELF, and be led in that way.

What I'd like to introduce briefly here (and I'll develop this another time) is the concept of what I could call the “sELF”, by which I mean the collective of other “sELVES” – a joined-up group of Self-led others – that join with the first individual's Self to enable more joint, collective embodiment of SELF.

Which leads on to my own personal meta-fantasy. My vision is to be part of a group of people who are mutually constituting sELVES to help each Self be ever more in touch with the SELF. In doing so, each individual will become ever more Self-led, and in touch with their individual and collective ikigai. Each person's fantasies, including healing narratives, are first shared with, then refined and honed by the collective, into a sense of life's work, or soul's calling, for them; and, in my highest imagination, to an emergent calling for the collective as a whole. Thus, my life's work will be integrated with the life's work of these others, in generative co-creation.

So how do I find the other people who want to join with me in what I envision as a co-living, co-creative community, when at present I don't have the benefit of any information system for CHOICE? Ah, there is my own personal chicken-and-egg challenge. Even if I don't get to experience the full benefits of such a system, as from an actuarial point of view I don't have as much time left as many do, at least I would be satisfied if I could see such a system in place, starting to do its job.

From the biblical tradition, Moses, and Simeon of the Nunc dimmitis come to mind.

1)
for example, see Wikihow or Business Insider
2)
Compare the dilemma of coming out.
d/2023-01-07.txt · Last modified: 2023-04-13 14:34 by simongrant