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Excerpt from Dreams

Proof (p. 307)

From chapter "Proof"

Think about how so many people—even people of good heart—talk about natural communities. They call them “ecosystems.” But as I wrote before, “ecosystem” is a part of the language of the machines, with its emphasis on quantifiability, repeatability, and on-demand perceptibility. One huge perceptual, existential, epistemological, and ultimately physical problem (among many) with all of this is that willfulness, and especially, as I wrote early on, willful unpredictability, f**** up the whole neat system, throws a sabot into the machine’s gears. If some other is willful, the actions of that other cannot without coercion be counted on to be quantifiable. Likewise, that other cannot without coercion be counted on to be strictly repeatable (within physical, emotional, spiritual and other constraints: you could probably predict with some accuracy that I’m going to sleep tonight, but you [and for that matter I] don’t know when, and further, if you don’t have my best interests at heart and you’re trying to predict when I’ll go to sleep, I may stay up all night to let you know I’m a willful being). And also likewise, if capable of hiding, that other could find ways to not be perceived. Frankly, at this point in this culture’s raging omnicide, and at this time of the ascendancy of the scientific mind-set that demands access to all others at all times, if I could hide, I certainly would.

Proof based on quantifiability, repeatability, and on-demand perceptibility only really works on systems. We pretend it works on communities, and sometimes it does kind of work on communities, but even in those cases we’re not really talking about communities, but rather systems (or ecosystems). We then overlay these proofs back over living communities, and then hope to hell that the artificial map somehow resembles the territory. When this process continues to f*** up natural community after natural community, somehow each time we—predictably enough—are still able to maintain the pretense of surprise.

But there’s a deeper problem that ties all of these together, which is that the triumph of the demand for proof—with its machinelike implacability, with its undeniable rules, to be supposedly applied evenly to all, applied in all circumstances—over experience means the triumph of these machinelike qualities over the wedded pair of life and experience, individually and together.

That’s not a good thing.