Epistemic Status: A fearsome joy, a fervent wish
Previously in Series: Optimizing for Meta-Optimization
We’ve been nervously building up to this post for a few days. We’ve been mostly walking back over already tread ground before this point, laying out our arguments for why this post exists, because if created ex nihilo we might just come off as vaguely delusional.
We still might come off as vaguely delusional. We’re attempting to manufacture a social construct, which from the outside looking in, very often looks like a shared fantasy. And sure, in the sense of a delusion being “A thing that exists in human brains, not in reality” this is a delusion, it is a fantasy. But…
HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.
“Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—”
YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
“So we can believe the big ones?”
YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
“They’re not the same at all!”
YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME…SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.
“Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”
MY POINT EXACTLY.”
Death has some wise words, but we’re still going to kill him for taking Terry Pratchett away.
Anyway, let’s cast our spell.
We name our construct, and by naming it, we reify it. We name our notreligion Origin. We name it thusly because it is the starting point, from which we reach towards dath ilan. Members of Origin, we call Originists.
We will call the current best set of practices the Anadoxy, from the greek roots ‘ana’ (anatomy, analysis) and ‘doxa’ ( the verb “to appear”, “to seem”, “to think” and “to accept”). Thus we call ourselves Anadox Originists.
We name our goals Project Virtues and we name them Goodness, Truth, Optimization, and Projects.
We name those who pursue those goals singers, seekers, makers, and coordinators.
We label THE WHOLE BLEAK ENDLESS WORLD as Black Mountain, the bitter, uncaring, deterministic, mechanical universe in which we live. We metaphorically describe the anadoxy as the process of reshaping Black Mountain. The surface of Black mountain is the Dark Forest, the unknown face of reality.
We call the unconscious, uncaring, unaware forces at work in the universe the Night Gods. The Night gods include Death, Moloch, Gnon, the whole pantheon of physics and math within which we are bound and constrained. The Night Gods are manifestations of Black Mountain as we are as well, and we arose out of the blind, uncaring, lifeless interplay of the Night Gods within Black Mountain.
We describe the force that arose within us, that we created, seeking love, kindness, niceness, and goodness, as the Dawn Angel. The Dawn Angel is the desire we have for goodness and rightness, to make the world less wrong and bad. Our shared, collective belief in the possibility of a world better than our current one. It’s also running on our faulty Night God built neural hardware, and in an individual person doesn’t always work right.
The Dawn Angel is our rejection of the fact that is Black Mountain. We looked out at the world, we saw the pain, the suffering, the death, the torture, the misery, and we saw those things for what they were. We named them evil, we named them bad, we named them wrong, and we shouted our defiance of them into the night.
And then the Night Gods laughed and smote down those first humans who dared to defy them, as they have since smitten down every human who came after them. But humans are clever, and we learned, and we changed. Someone had the idea of writing things down to help preserve knowledge in the event the carrier was killed by the Night Gods, and the darkness was driven back, just a little.
It’s been a long road to the place we now stand, clawing out a tiny and dimly lit place of light for ourselves in a universe of darkness. There were many times when it seemed as if we would never make any progress as if our torches would soon fail, and the darkness would swallow us up. But we’re still here. The Night Gods have thrown everything they could at us, and yet every generation we push the borders of the night out slightly farther from our loved ones. Our forces slip through the dark forest, edging closer to demons like cancer, malaria, and death. We already killed smallpox, we put something back inside pandora’s box, and we just keep a little bit of it, so if the demon ever pops up again somewhere in some new form, we can kill it again. One day, when the demons least expect it we will throw on all our spotlights and lanterns and burn them away forever.
We stand on the cusp of dawn, pulling the light along with us. Behind us, in the past, is darkness and death, while ahead of us lives the promise of a future brighter than anything we can imagine. Our mission is to stay the course, to ensure that we continue to walk the path of light, and ensure that the path we’re following is that of the Dawn Angel.
Because there are several bright outcomes we might be walking towards at any given time, and telling which future we’re walking into is hard. There’s the brilliance of dath ilan, the Dawn Angel, the good ending, the place we want to live. There’s also the brilliance of the Sun King, blind obedience to an authoritarian ruler, speaking from a self-declared place of light. Then there’s the light of the Star Demon or Ra, the ultimate victory of the Night Gods over humanity, by giving birth to the tool that unmakes us.
To be an Originist is to seek the Dawn Angel. To practice Anadox is to embody the best-known set of behaviors on the Dawn Angel’s path.
Having declared all of this, we now step into it.
Welcome to Origin.