Inquiry: Estrangement IX – Adaptation

Credit: Adaptation. LJ Frank, Artist

by LJ Frank

This series on estrangement seeks to understand some of the differing faces of estrangement and the crossroads it approaches for good or ill.

Is there a multi-consciousness emerging in a universe that perhaps is a vast neural like network? Is the universe similar to a map of the human brain?

The interconnected nature between the person ( the human brain) and the machine is escalating from Charles Chaplin being swallowed by  a machine in the 1936 film Modern Times to Blade Runner and Ex Machina to the non-fiction Doomsday Clock. We have arrived at the adaptational stress point where human and machine merge and where relationships are being redefined in a “minute.” The neural network is evolving.

In a twist of Ralph Waldo Emerson observation, noted in the introduction to this series,  Are we now imprisoned in a life in which the machine and the person have become an extension of each other yet at the same time we remain  powerfully unlike each other and increasingly so?

High technologies, plagues, climate change, the nuclear and biological options and warfare, combined with artificial intelligence, social, legal and cultural dynamics and polarization have taken root in a changing yet politicized masculine and feminine dichotomy.  The question of self-awareness has changed the paradigm of what we might consider as consciousness. As we evolve within the context of these factors do we become more or less estranged from those closest to us?

As a student of eastern philosophies, all humanity may be perceived as one consciousness, but the merging of the human with the machine has effectively added layers to that consciousness and for some it means not fitting in to the world around us, even to those within the same family, community and culture. The irony is that technology in a way that can democratize can also divide us into digital performers.

New paradigms are emerging at a faster rate than our politics, philosophies, social constructs and theologies can grasp – the technology has sped up the economic and cultural characteristics and lifestyles of our existence.

Labels and categories are becoming obsolete within a single generation. 

Gender and social identity are becoming increasingly fluid and in that fluid state the struggle people are having is the divide between those that do and those who do not hold on to old concepts based on previous learning patterns and traditions that are in conflict with the present changing reality. The stressors are real. And those stressors are a sibling of alienation. Where do we find the balance?

I recall experiencing a few tectonic earthquakes as younger man. I had no place to go except up and that jump was only temporary for the moment I came back down I was greeted with a quivering earth. My emotions were still in motion. I had to get out of the way of falling debris and jump over crevices opening up beneath my feet. The ambience and angst of estrangement is similar. I was estranged from my physical surroundings.

In a sense we are arriving at the crossroads of creative beingness. Anything is possible. Our consciousness has and is being altered. The body’s stressors are more alert. I take a breath and utter “Om” for a few minutes to calm the estrangement.

“There are no strange lands. The traveler is the only one who is strange.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

In a period of cultural fluidity, a reformation of thought is occurring. Reformations destabilize and lead to estrangement in ideas and what we thought we knew to be true and find to be no longer correct. Multiple paradigm shifts are occurring simultaneously today.

The estrangement swirls around the pressures of adapting in a world where life is inherently unfair, unequal and where the physical and emotional resources of any given person is situational.

An existential angst about one’s purpose grows – the person in the mirror may no longer be recognizable. How much of that reflection has grown into an illusion? What is the reality? Do I adapt or not?

Adaptation is an easy word to enunciate.