The Technium

Upcreation


Upcreation is my term for the peculiar, profound, and still mysterious way by which complex structures appear in the universe. By complex structures I mean galaxies, stars, planets, life, DNA, termite mounds, rain forests, human minds, and the internet. These complexities tend to “emerge” from simpler systems (clouds of gas, pools of molecules, nodes of communication) in a fashion we broadly call self-organization. But in the right circumstances self-organization can often also be legitimately called self-creation. Without an outside agent, the parts cohere into a new organization that brings forth an “emergent” level or self not present before. Since the new emergent level of complexity encompasses, without destruction, the previous “lower” levels of organization, I call this self-creation of higher levels “upcreation.” A set of entities lifts itself up to a new level of organization in a new entity. By this perspective, DNA chemistry “upcreates” life, and life upcreates minds, and a mind might upcreate a supermind. Upcreation takes place in smaller increments as well: Honey bees upcreate a hive, protists upcreate multicellular organisms, corals upcreate a reef, shoppers upcreate a market, web surfers upcreate Google PageRank.

But while this emergence usually “happens” in an almost passive way in the past, we humans would like to be able to make it happen on command. We would like to upcreate artificial minds and artificial life. However, much to our dismay, upcreation turns out to be something very hard to imitate. For some goals, like making a human-like artificial intelligence in computers, bumping a system up to the next level of complexity has so far been a total failure. A large part of the difficulty lies in our lack of a good understanding of what happens during emergence. What does it mean to make a new level, how do we recognize one, and what are its preconditions?

These are ancient questions, and big in scope. The arc of complexity stretches across the cosmological realm, runs deep through the biological world and extends into the technological sphere. If we understood the dynamics of upcreation we could better craft our technology to upcreate more often. Or at least we could prepare preconditions for it. But science has no good theory of upcreation that can be applied across the board to cosmology, biology, anthropology, evolution, computer science, or mathematics. Instead two dozen specialty theories from different fields of science capture different aspects of upcreation.

The list below is a first step to unify the mechanics of upcreation. I’ve borrowed these ideas from the fields of chemistry, physics, biology, cosmology, mathematics, sociology, philosophy and computer science. Each one is properly used in a narrow area of inquiry. But I’ve been struck by their recurring themes and parallel concepts, and I believe all these concepts are reaching for a similar goal: to explain how upcreation happens. I gather them here together to suggest that like the blind men feeling the elephant, they are all describing the same phenomena.

The Mechanics of Upcreation

Goldilocks States – An upcreation system may collapse if the system’s physical parameters vary outside a very narrow range. Many creative forces operate on a fine threshold of not too much, not too little.

Phase Change – The shift in levels birthed by upcreation has its analog in the chemical shift an element undergoes as it suddenly changes from one phase (solid) to another (liquid or gas). Complex systems, too, exhibit sudden distinct phases of organization.

Critical Point — In chemistry this is the specific, precise juncture of pressure and temperature at which a system changes its phase, or state. Until a system crosses that point, there is no hint of the other state. It comes on “spontaneously.” Many other complex systems can display phase changes and critical points. For instance, the addition of a few grains of sand to a growing pile of sand can trigger an avalanche  (a phase change) that alters the slope of the pile. The falling avalanche readjusts the pile of sand so it continues to rest at the almost-avalanching point. In this way the slope is maintained at near-disequilibrial critical point.

Attractors – Dynamical systems with vast numbers of possible phases (versus the three or four phases available to chemical elements) will cycle through these countless possibilities at random but return to a few phases again and again, as if the system is attracted to them.

Fractals — At critical points, systems of upcreation display a type of self-similarity known as 1/f noise or fractals. Visually this can be pictured as a twiggy tree that looks the same no matter what scale you view it at. Whether you draw the reticulation at the lower level of leaves or the higher level of the tree, the branch patterns are self-similar. Many living systems (and many inert processes, too) display “scale invariance” behavior. The pattern of the whole is contained at each level.

Power Laws  — Scale-invariant and scale-free patterns are found in other aspects of upcreation. The distribution of phenomenon can follow a long-tail curve, rather than the normal “bell” curve typical of most matters. (Many physical and inert systems also display power laws.) Distribution of words in a language, letters in DNA, metabolic rate in animals, all obey a power law (also called Pareto or Zipf’s Law). At critical points and in the midst of phase changes, the distribution of order in a system can be self-similar, or scale-free, or scale-invariant, suggesting again, the constant pattern is held in the whole and not in the parts.

Scale-Free Network – Networks whose nodes are arranged scale-free (like networks of interacting proteins in a cell, or servers on the internet) are more robust against the destruction of its parts than other network arrangements. Scale-invariance provides a coherence to the whole, a tendency to favor the whole, and a propensity to generate increasing returns (the rich get richer). (wiki)

Universal Computation – All computation is fundamentally identical. This means a very small network of logic nodes is capable of performing the same calculations that a much large computer or brain does, only slower. Given enough time and space, your digital watch can do the work of a supercomputer. When very small networks capable of universal computing are distributed inside larger systems, their computation “emerges” from that matrix, in a step similar to upcreation. In computer science the simplest possible networks of off-on switches can upcreate universal computation, suggesting that many types of networks are capable of emergent computation and upcreation.

Optimal Evolvability – An evolutionary system must balance order and chaos, change and stability. It must replicate infallibly but innovate without fail. Systems that can keep evolving over millions of years must tune their rate of evolution to an optimal goldilocks amount. That rate must shift as environments shift. It is neither maximum change, nor maximum preservation. Rather optimal evolvability requires a complex network capable of changing itself. It is self-organized change, which manifests itself as new levels.

Sweet Spot – A network’s connections can be arranged so that it generates optimal evolvability while maintaining maximum longevity. Remarkably, the zone of optimal evolvability can be shown mathematically to be the same zone necessary for generating universal computation. This suggests evolution is both a type of computation, and an emergent optima and a product of the sweet spot.

Edge of Chaos — Optimal evolvability in a network or system is found at a point of criticality. Too much to one side, and the system seizes up in rigid order. Too much towards the other side, and the system collapses into chaos. The optimal zone is a narrow goldilocks band between the two phases of order and chaos, right on the edge of both. This sweet phase transition zone along the “edge of chaos” is the root of upcreation.

Persistent Disequilibrium – When a system is self-organized to its “sweet spot” it is not stable. It is constantly almost-collapsing in chaos, almost-unraveling, almost-seizing up in crystalline order, but never falling down.  Most disequilibrial systems collapse quickly. Most persistent systems rest in equilibrium without change. A very few systems can maintain the rare balancing act of persisting along the “edge” of a phase transition. A galaxy is a very large system maintaining disequilibrium. So is a fire, although it does not last long. On the other hand a star maintains a persistent fire (disequilibrium) for billions of years. A living organism maintains persistent disequilibria (the slow fire of metabolism) for many years. (A fire would burn the fuel in an organism in a few minutes.)

Syntropy – Syntropy is a type of complexity. Technically it is defined as a sort of anti-chaos, or negative entropy, but it also can be defined as “effective complexity,” which is a measure of the depth of complexity. Persistent disequilibrial systems (as stars and many chemical reactions show) build up complexity and syntropy, while generating maximum entropy as well. The long-lived nature of a syntropic and persistent system increases the density of power consumed over its lifespan, and this controlled energy enables the construction of higher levels of organization.

Emerging Units of Selection – Meta-organization is sharpened and articulated by the action of evolution. Adaptive pressure transforms emerging levels into the new units of natural selection. For instance, originally natural selection worked on cells, but after cells symbiotically joined into colonies, natural selection worked on the level of colonies or organisms. The history of evolution is the story of evolution moving from one unit as the basis of selection to the next higher unit.

Non-Zero Sum – In closed system, such as fire, or an isolated marketplace, trade-offs rule: gain on one side is offset with a loss on the other. But persistent disequilibrial systems (like life, societies and minds) are energy- and information-open and zero sum accounting does not pertain. In these open systems, a gain on one side can generate a new gain on the other side. That is positive sum, or non-zero, accounting. This is particularly true for systems tuned to optimal evolvability and the sweet spot. Here the growth of one species can create opportunities for more species to grow. Energy channeled to one creation enables, rather than diminishes, another. An idea given away is not lost but can still be given to another. Positive sum dynamics is why upcreation is a net gain. It is an additive process and never subtractive. The persistent viability of one system creates a positive opportunity space for another. In this way, upcreation in a never ending cascade flowing uphill.

Infinite Game – The tendency of a persistent disequilibrial system is to keep going to create other persistent disequilibrial systems. The aim of upcreation is to create something that will keep creating. The object of a great game is not to win, but to keep playing. A system that “wins” is a finite game. A system that generates new systems is an infinite game.  A series of ever-escalating upcreation is an infinite game.

Autocatalysis – Early life had to be an autocatalytic set. A series of chemical compounds in which molecule A catalyzed B, and B catalyzed C, and so on… until eventually Y catalyzed Z, that in turn catalyzed A, in a complete circle. Suddenly the self-perpetuating loop snaps into place. Suddenly, the loop creates itself. Suddenly something new is in the world. This strange loop is present wherever and whenever we find new levels of being. Strange self-causing loops are behind the emergence of life (self-assembling DNA), consciousness (thinking about thinking), behind Gaia (life tilting the climate to favor life), and technology (technology making the world safer for technology). Autocatalytic sets set into motion strange loops of self-causation – which are nothing more or less than upcreation.

Necessary Paradox – At the foundation of every loop of self-causation is a paradox. Where does it come from? From itself, but where does that come from? Which came first, Z or A? What is the cause and what is the effect? These and a thousand more quandaries are the necessary paradoxes of upcreation. The ultimate questions of origin are muddled. Cause and effect, shunted aside. Life is the cause of DNA. Consciousness is the cause of the brain. Technology is the cause of humans. With each upcreation a new set of paradoxes are generated, each of them strange and unanswerable, but necessary.

There are obvious limits to these definitions, analogies, and metaphors. Some of these concepts overlap, while others are clearly limited in their application. For example, certain metals exhibit emergence, in the form of superconductivity, without spawning self-organization. Self-organization itself does not promise upcreation. Proteins self-organize when they fold; membranes, lipid bilayers, colloidal crystals and some reaction-diffusion chemical reactions all self-organize, but none of these examples raise the level of information. And there are huge gaps in explanation waiting to be bridged.

Galaxy Garden

Green galaxy

At the moment there is no single scientific theory that will bridge all these gaps. We lack a Darwin or Einstein of information. The best I could do was string together these hints and bits of technical jargon. When they are all lined up, I believe these summaries suggest a momentum and direction operating in the universe. They reveal an emerging view across many scientific disciplines. In broad strokes this grand story says that the ingredients for bootstrapping self-creation are widely present. Systems can assemble themselves, tune their networks for optimal evolution, and start to upcreate more complex structures over time.  Persistent systems of creation are driven by energy flows to keep the larger system favorable to creation. The dynamics are biased toward positive sums, where possibilities breed more possibilities, and where self-creation becomes the norm. The whole long unrolling parade of ever-more-complex structures becomes an infinite game whose self-made purpose is to keep the game expanding. This entire complex of upcreation is now sitting at our feet. It is ready to create the next level. We can watch it, or ride it.

And we are far from the end.




Comments
  • Jesvin Jose

    I like the idea about the “edge of chaos”. I believe that the human mind is an example of such a system.I would like to know more on how these contexts apply to the systems.

    As for the position of “the Einstein of information”, count me in as a contender!

  • Openworld

    Kevin,

    Congratulations for a valuable and insight-filled post.

    To the mechanics of Upcreation, I would add another: a fractal-like structure in narratives of simple and complex systems.

    In recent years, I’ve been noticing a deep pattern in conversations, blog postings, commercials, books, movies, and scientific essays. Well-formed narratives seem to have a fractal pattern that transcends subject focus and/or scale.

    Awareness of this structure may help ease the growing challenge of parsing information flows and of understanding their relevance to the emergence of complex systems.

    In brief, I believe the following fractal provides an opportunity to assemble (or disassemble) narrative accounts.

    attention->tension->vision->strategy->test->resolution

    In literature, conversations and events following this pattern can be assembled into subplots, which in turn can be woven to make a story that reflects the same pattern. The stories, in turn, can be upcreated into an epic with a similar fractal storyline. And the epics can similarly organize to form an overarching belief system or a religion.

    In science, the narrative fractal can be put as follows:

    attention->challenge->hypothesis->experimental design->trials->conclusion

    … and the assembly of small hypothesis and experiments on these lines can similarly scales to theories and to revolutions in scientific paradigms.

    If such a scale-independent, deep process of experience does exist, it may well explain the emergence of consciousness in evolution.

    Clearly, molecules that evolve to sense and care about themselves — including an ability to sense and care about patterns of response in dealing with their surroundings — gain an survival advantage on net over those who are insensitive to their fitness.

    Moreover, awareness of a deep narrative pattern in their own experience would make a second leap far simpler: an ability to adapt their neural/information processing paths to model a self-similar narrative fractal in others.

    Another factor in upcreation — and the rise of consciousness of others — may be the existence of metapatterns that relate to reproductive success.

    As I interpret sociobiology, evolution is the story of “selfish” genes (physical assemblies), memes (logical constructs), and meme-like qualities of spirit (which one might call lumines) interacting in self-improving consilience that tend to create higher levels of complexity.

    Each particle, molecule, organelle, cell, organ, person, community, and civilization has a narrative regarding survival and reproductive success, including sacrifices for the reproductive success of an emergent larger good.

    As more complex assemblies encounter new tensions and react by forming higher-level visions/opportunities, new strategies will emerge and new acceptance tests will apply.
    Throughout this process, I think some kind of deep, fractal-like narrative form will remain unchanged.

    And throughout this unfolding narrative, selfish genes, memes and lumines are likely to move us (and other) sentient vessels of propagation in ways conducive to higher levels of organization, so that they — and we — can be fruitful and multiply.

    Best,

    Mark Frazier
    Openworld.com
    “Awakening assets for good”
    @openworld (twitter)

  • stephanie gerson

    I think the field of systems thinking pretty explicitly looks at what you refer to as upcreation across disciplines.

    Fritjof Capra’s “The Turning Point” may have been a starting point (or turning point? ha.) as it incorporated multiple disciplines including Physics, Biology, and Economics.

    a more recent and rigorous treatment is offered in Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems, which looks at upcreation in different systems via different lenses.

    and folks from different disciplines definitely get together and talk parallels in upcreation at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico.

  • David Gerard

    This sounds like Wolfram’s complexity theory.

    • http://www.kk.org Kevin Kelly

      @ David Gerard said, “This sounds like Wolfram’s complexity theory.”

      Probably. I’ve never been able to figure out what his theory is. Can you summarize it?

  • Tom Crowl

    I’ve been catching up on your recent posts… truly great stuff!

    I’ll be spending some serious time going over this list and am grateful for it.

    Briefly… re Wolfram (who seems to be hot right now)… saw a good critique at http://scottaaronson.com/papers/nks.pdf
    by Scott Aaronson on Wolfram’s work

    Though I admit I don’t have a clear picture either…

    And briefly on the image suggested by Edward Rietman’s comment a couple of posts ago:
    “Is it possible that dark energy/dark matter are the clouds of uncertainty for the cosmos yet to be unfolded?”…which is a beautiful image even if it turns out to be only a poetic metaphor.

    And from your posts on upcreation, minds, the technium,… well… really everything!

    Gave me this flash of an image:

    An unconscious universe that births bubbles of awareness as the fruits of its own entropic slide and by which it finally defines itself and resolves the uncertainty it was born with… and thus becomes conscious!

    I also like your note on the “Infinite Game” and agree… which begs the question:

    So what does the universe do then? And will it have any energy to do it?

  • Jack Russell

    Another worthwhile read in this area is of course Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach.

    I also personally have an intuition that prime numbers, and complex numbers are at the heart of this mystery. There is a pattern in the distribution of primes, but where does it come from?

    Complex numbers seem to me a more realistic basis for describing the universe than simple scalars; they are the mathematical basis for quantum mechanics for one thing. But imaginary numbers, ie an aspect of a number that is “hidden” from plain view, but can reach across distance to affect calculations – there seems to be something interesting there, to me.

    And again, there is quantum chaos. Whatever this “thing” is, it’s at the very heart of, perhaps even defines, the way the universe is, is my view.

    Jack.

  • Jack Russell

    Perhaps the issue is division. The universe doesn’t seem to be able to divide cleanly. Only add, subtract, and … multiply.

  • Jack Russell

    If I remember, Hofstadter also talks about systems “almost” escaping or raising themselves up to a new level. He shows a picture-of-a-picture of a dragon that is eating it’s own tail in three dimensions, outside the frame of the picture – ie the dragon appears to have escaped a flat picture, into three dimensions. But of course the entire scene is still a 2d picture in a book, so the “escape” is not for real.

    I believe a similar notion applies to quantum mechanics, and the “collapse of the wave function”. When we take an “observation”, it appears to cause a collapse in the wave function of the observed system. It “escapes” from the entangled wave-like continuous quantum world into the discrete macro world. Thus, we get all the philosophy about the sound of falling trees in a forest, and whether the universe only exists because we are here to observe it, and so on.

    My view is that this is of course nonsense. The quantum system does not “escape” to the macro level any more than the dragon in the picture does. In reality, we, the observer, become entangled with the quantum system. It only appears that the wave-function collapsed, because we, the observer, have become part of that system, and we are seeing it “from the inside”.

    Again, I suspect this all comes about because of the nature of numbers.

  • Jack Russell

    So if the universe is the equivalent of the flat page in the book, there is a limit to “complexity” in some sense of that word. But within the page, inside the picture, there could be an infinite set of pictures-of-pictures. A pyramid of levels-on-levels. I wonder if there is a power law constraining the “size” of a “higher” level relative to it’s supporting substrate? Can the pyramid be unbalanced?

  • Mark

    Kevin, reading your posts is like a septuple espresso (that’s a good thing!). Question – aren’t the failures to ‘create emergence’ a problem from where the ‘bumper upper’ 1. too tightly controls/envisions the inputs and/or 2. has too low a tolerance for the immense number of failures generated in the process and/or 3. couldn’t perceive or value the result (e.g., if a machine started thinking, we’d think it was a processing snag)? Thanks!

  • Jack Russell

    So if the universe is constrained in the same way as the picture of the dragon, there is indeed a limit to “complexity” in some sense of that word. Although it’s difficult to conceive of a greater complexity outside of the picture – in fact probably inpossible, since we ourselves are inside the picture.

    But there could be an infinite hierarchy of complexity, of pictures-of-pictures, levels-on-levels, within the frame. I do wonder if there is a power-law dictating the “size” of “higher” levels relative to their supporting substrate. Does the pyramid of levels have to be balanced? It seems that way with the levels in biology.

  • RobertJ

    This reads like a mighty index to the last twenty years of complexity science. Some of these are already linked. It’s my impression that for instance the link between scale free networks and powerlaws are known. The number of connections show a powerlaw because nodes in the network (e.g. genes) are added one at a time and randomly connected to the existing nodes. A few old genes then gather a lot of links, which in turn create a small-world effect or scale free network.

    Insights like these are arrived at through math. Others have tried to talk about complexity without using math, the best example is the theories of Maturana and Varela which included autopoiesis. These guys presented elaborate descriptions of e.g. biological organisms, but their work has not seen much application nor, to my knowledge, has it seen substational development by others. It behaves not like a thing from the natural sciences but more like a humanities treatise which other scholars, occupied with theories of their own device, occasionally comment on.

    Contrast this with the astounding success of control theory, which made things concrete using mathematial formulas and machines, or the system dynamics of Jay Forrester which became a success because it focus on practical examples and models that everyone can learn to build with a little math background and everyone can run and analyze. System Dynamics has changed how people run their businesses and given them a complexity science angle at viewing the universe they live in.

    Maturana and Valera insisted on not using math and they and other grand theories tried to explain everything in the universe without making testable predictions about anything. Who remember Tectology today?

  • RobertJ

    @Kevin Kelly: Wolframs presented his theory in “a new kind of science” which is long but easily summarized. His grand claim is that universal computation is possible even in extremely simple systems. With UC comes unlimited levels of complexity, it’s his deus ex machina for emergence and complexity from simplicity. He uses the 1D cellular automata as examples, which are very simple and seemingly shallow.

    Wolfram spent a decade developing his own theory, alone. The “alone” part shows. :-/ I think he would have created a better book had he used the method you use here, or even just published peer-reviewed papers.

  • Michael P. Gusek

    Kevin, long time fan. Your thoughts resonate some research I have seen around Artificial Intuition as a solution to handling complexity and the ambiguity of reality.

    Take a read:

    http://artificial-intuition.com/index.html

  • hegemonicon

    This is a fascinating idea. What is your thinking on examples of these phenomena in non-complex systems? Things like phase changes, critical points, fractals, and disequilibrium can be seen nearly everywhere, not just in things we would consider complex.

    Rather than being a goal the universe is ‘reaching’ for, it seems like complexity might just be a particularly interesting combination of these mechanics that exist everywhere, like a car is a particular interesting combination of the six simple machines.

  • vanderleun

    “But in the right circumstances self-organization can often also be legitimately called self-creation.”

    An interesting notion whose legitimacy hangs by a thread. I tend to think of it as “The Topsy Fallback” derived from Topsy in Uncle Toms cabin: “Topsy professes ignorance of both God and a mother, saying “I s’pect I growed. Don’t think nobody never made me.”"

    Still, it will do until something better and less mysterious comes along.

  • Alex Tolley

    yes, it would be very useful to have a theory of complexification. Then we could get away from the listing of phenomena and understand why as the first step to harnessing it. We definitely need a Darwin or Mendeleev of information.

  • nickgogerty

    blindingly obvious but should be in the list of upcreation requirements.  Feedback.  It is implicit in most of them, but maybe should be stated.  just a thought.  Feedback loops whether bayesian logic, citations, links or facebook likes are integral components in physical and informational upcreating.

    • Kevin_Kelly

      Yep.

  • Darrell Moneyhon

    Dear Mr. Kevin Kelly, Which of your books best addresses your concept of upcreation? I first heard it described during an audio interview at Integral Life. My co-author, Pascal Solenquintez, and I used the concept in our book-in-progress, About Wholeness, and are now looking for one of your books to read and to then include in our bibliography.
    Below is the context of our mentioning of the concept of upcreation. Did we use the concept correctly? Is upcreation reviewed in your book Out of Control?

    excerpt from About Wholeness:

    Neotheism

    In the God and Wholeness section we cited Integral Christian Paul Thomas’ notion of a good message on a T shirt. Now it’s our turn, except on a bumper sticker:
    Include but transcend “One Nation Under God’ with “One World Through Authentic Self.”

    Neotheism is our new word for a general movement within religion these days. As inside-out, or depth-unfolding types of theologies take form and gain adherents, the Lording god On High who is a Supreme Other (who we see as separate from our “selves,” in order to keep our understanding of God free from being contaminated by our human egos, and in order to keep
    God as our highest priority) is gradually being replaced with a new model.
    The new model is a god who is not separated from our individual selves, but who instead flows continuously from the depths into the surface expression of Spirit known as an individual “self.”

    The new theism sees all individuals as being intimate expressions of a Deep Unfolding. We are not under God so much as we are continuously from and of God, God is constantly through us, and we are (as Integral Christianity maintains) also as God. God is made manifest in us, and it ain’t just bad art. It is an artwork that continues to present and develop the Artist. Down-creation meet “upcreation” (Kevin Kelly, editor of Wired magazine, author of Out of Control).

    In modern theological thought, true access is beginning to trump perfect purity (partly because we are figuring out that separation-based and/or separation-biased thought, or what I call “thinking like matter,” brings with it its own egoistic contamination anyway). Religion is rapidly approaching a day when the perfect is no longer the enemy of the good.

    Call it what you want. Perhaps even call it heresy. But Pascal and I call it “neotheism.”

    Darrell Moneyhon,
    author of Allsville Emerging, and About Wholeness (in progress).

  • Darrell Moneyhon

    I ordered Out of Control. The purchase included a sample-read by Kindle. I reviewed the whole sample and saw no mention of “upcreation” in it. Perhaps it is addressed in the book elsewhere. I’ll find out in a few days when the book arrives. Perhaps “upcreation” is a later development of thought that Mr. Kelly includes in a different book than the one I ordered. I can’t use Out of Control as the source of the concept of upcreation if in fact that particular book is not where the concept was developed or shared.
    Again, which, if any, of Kevin Kelly’s books addresses his concept of “upcreation?”
    Darrell Moneyhon,
    author of Allsville Emerging and co-author of (soon to be) About Wholeness

  • Darrell Moneyhon

    especially fond of the “infinite game” point. If you win, you lose. But if you come just short of “winning,” you get to keep on playing — which seems to be really “winning.”

    These two types of winning — apparent (as in “we won”) vs actual (as in getting to keep on playing) — may suggest another point about upcreation:

    “You can never judge upcreation’s book by its cover.”

    But then I think you said something to that effect when you discussed how you never now what upcreation can do until it’s doing it right now, as we speak.

    Or was that the opposite of not being able to judge a book by its cover?

    Is “right now” the cover or the book?

    Or is it a book masquerading as a cover? In which case: “You can ONLY judge a book by its cover?”

    An ability to operate from depth seems to be important for upcreation. And understanding the concept of upcreation might then be enhanced by an ability to see/sense/know depth. I have heard the term “psychoplomb” used to describe a person how is good at seeing into the depths of the psyche and then describing it out here. Perhaps a really good poet is a psychoplomb. Or a really good therapist. Or a really “spiritual” person.

    Upcreation seems to create due to unfolding from the depths of potentiality into the surfaces (the book cover) of actuality. In my mind at least there seems to be a lot of similarity between “upcreation” and “unfolding.” I am big on the whole “unfolding” view of reality. If the two are related, it’s no wonder I am so intrigued by your “upcreation” ideas.

    Thanks for sharing your ideas,
    Darrell

  • Darrell Moneyhon

    Dear Kevin,

    While I was investigating the roots of your concept of upcreation I came across this interesting statement you made in your book Out of Control. Even though you apparently had not started using the term upcreation at that point, it is easy to see how it was already on the tip of your tongue, so to speak.

    More specifically, my thinking exercise here is about the concept of communication within the “hive mind” (you) or “superiorganism” (Wheeler).

    {… To generate a colony organism from a bug organism requires only that the bugs be multiplied so that there are many, many more of them, and that they communicate with each other. …}

    The clause “that they communicate with each other” is fascinating to me because the first thing we think about the word “communicate” is some sort of overt language. The reader imagines the bugs “talking” to one another. Of course this is a case of anthropomorphism in which we project human qualities and experiences onto the bugs. But even if we correct the misleading assumption of “talking,” we still assume some sort of dance or sounds or gestures, etc. are involved in the bugs’ version of “communicating.” And in some cases the overt “language” medium of the bugs has been found. The bees use a visual medium or mode of a symbolic dance (and, I suppose, kinesthetic and tactile — what the bee feels while participating in the dance).

    But I would be surprised if these external mediums or language mechanisms account for the way the starlings coordinate their complex flight patterns. Perhaps some language form has been identified that I am not aware of. I have not studied animal communication. All sorts of mechanisms of communication may have already been discovered which I am simply not informed about.

    Having said that, it is hard for me to believe that there is not some sort of internal communication process going on in these bugs-turned-colonies.

    You might be kind of alluding to that in a way when you say the “Bachness” is somehow within the individual notes and chords when we hear Bach’s music. “Colony” is a potential which rests within each individual bug. In fact, you say this more covertly in a few more sentences into the passage I quoted above, when you say “Colony is inherent in the bugness …”

    These statements suggest that you, like me, assume that there might be some sort of thing inside the being of a bug which may or may not manifest itself under the condition of “manyness.” And this form then must in effect help govern the parts of the superorganism or vivisystem. And if it governs it must also be “communicating” in some way from form to parts, and probably from parts to form as well (two-way communication would be expected to be much more effective in terms of a distributed system’s flexible adaptation than one-way or top-down communication would be — the latter being more like clockwork logic).

    What are the mechanisms involved in such an inner language? Is it the sharing of information via the electromagnetic medium, like radio transmission and reception — only a mental telepathy version of it? To me this seems likely. And if this is turns out to be the case, then the divide between being (as in “ontology”) and communicating may not be as sharp and clear and true as we tend to think. Something like “communing” or “communion” might also create some form of telepathic “commun(e)-ication.”

    Darrell