Autobiography and Structure of the Metastory: A Twin Evolution

The purpose of this post is to give readers of this blog a sense of two things: The evolution of the person writing the words you are reading, and the evolution of intent and execution of those words. The key word is “evolution.” The Metastory was not outlined, researched, and written. It grew organically — evolved — beginning as a fledgling, ugly creature with no real place in any ecosystem. Eventually, though, it carved its way into a robust and capable lord of its domain. The following brief essay is its rags-to-riches tale…

I am a Scanner. I have never wanted to focus on any one thing. “Jack-of-all-trades” is the standard cliche, but the “master of none” that typically follows is an unfair assumption, as my scanner brethren would surely agree. The terms historically applied were polymath or Renaissance Man, and these are more typically applied to knowledge rather than manual skills as is “Jack.” In any case, at university, this propensity for broad pursuits led to a frequent shift in “majors,” and ultimately a very broad formal education.

In 2004 I graduated, and I was going to be a novelist. There was no need for safety-net lifeplans; that was it. (In fact, I’ve never been very good about safety nets, and in many ways this characteristic is central to my particular human condition).

So, I wrote two novels with beginnings, middles and endings. I loved the creative process, but had no passion for editing. Both of these remain dustily “finished” in terms of story arc, but are unpublishable in terms of continuity or semblance of polish. In some ways, knowing that I *could have* completed them properly if I really wanted to was self-congratulatory enough to satisfy my gumption, but really I am just a notorious non-finisher; (classic Aries…)

The warm glow of hindsight reminds that, isn’t it funny how often we don’t realize what we’re practicing for while in the midst? (Much like Daniel-san waxing the car). My abortive fiction career was (you will be shocked to discover) the posterfetus of “philosophical” fiction. I had just spent four years researching countless fields of study. I read non-fiction exclusively, in order to produce fictional allegories, parables and mythologies that accurately alluded to the nature of reality, meaning, value, and all of those other furry, fluffy, fuzzy words so loved by philosophy.

Realizing that my true interest was in the philosophy rather than the fiction, I then spent the next four years continuing to expand my knowledge base, writing a thousand-or-so pages worth of non-fiction essays (and reading a commensurate, i.e. vastly larger, body of research), on a range of subjects rivaling the course catalog at any major university. At certain times woven through those four years I sought and won the rejection of some double-digit number of PhD programs in philosophy at said major universities, as well as some of lesser stature.

That puts us around eight years post-graduation — 2012. It would be melodramatic to imply there was a single lightning-bolt moment when it all came together. The point is that it is now 2013, and it is time to begin to reveal, if piecemeal, the mad scientist concoctions of my last eight years.

That’s my story, in Cliff’s Notes, and thus far. Or, at least part of it. Now allow me to step back and take a different approach.

Above I claimed to have studied basically every subject there is, to some degree or another. This is true, but implied therein was that it was for the sake of research. This part is not true. The term “research” implies a particular direction of cause and effect; e.g. I want to write about X so I research Y and Z because I believe they will support the arguments I intend to make. Conversely, I was reading on “every subject” simply because everything interested me. I have never cared much for facts and figures. In fact, the details bore me, and they rarely if ever promise earth-shattering insight. What I sought was concepts, processes, systems — the structural associations that would bond the details together. I knew that with a sound structure the details were unnecessary, at least in the sense of memorization. As a sort of conceptual, categorical algebra, if you have the proper equation you can always solve for X; memorizing all possible X’s is tedious and unnecessary. The structure will cause them to fall into place, emerge, or otherwise reveal themselves naturally, without effort, much as any story unfolds.

So in terms of subject matter my “research” seemed arbitrary, but there was always a central theme, a common bond, in the notion of seeking how things fit together — all the ways in which a puzzle could be constructed. In turn these readings informed my writing, which was a major reason why my fiction failed. The stories drifted along with my readings, and the result was an amorphous, Gordian knot of troglo-thoughts and good intent. I so thoroughly flouted continuity as a basic principle that the novels were not only unpublishable, but also uneditable.

The good that came of this was twofold. To a lesser degree, it was the poetic sensibility of wordplay that is so often absent in non-fiction. To a greater degree, there was this kaleidoscopic menagerie of information colliding on the dancefloor of my mind.

Now, imagine all of those subjects are people. In the context of the Ivory Tower, the great asylum of academia, these sad souls are decrepit and wan — quarantined from one another for fear of cross-contamination. The Tower cultivated these circumstances over many generations. Perhaps they did not intend the resulting situation, but two assumptive imperatives seem clear: a.) ensure that each specialist is steadfast and undistracted in their focus, and b.) that studies cut sharp and deep into the body of their subject. The problems that arise are similar to any asylum: obsessiveness, disassociation, and a lack of perspective. Again, in this particular extended metaphor we are treating fields of inquiry as people. We placed all-that-is under the scalpel of inquiry, but we forget the second part: How do we put the world back together? Where lies the suture that follows the scalpel? And as we quarantine, we forget that people are supposed to cross-contaminate. *Ahem.* Cross-germinate.

On the dancefloor of my mind, they finally laid eyes on one another, fell in love, fucked, traded lovers, and eventually laid in a spent and sweaty mound of orgiastic bliss. Every one of them was pregnant, and not one would ever know or care which was the “father,” because that title, too, belonged to every one of them.

When I look at my library I see a web of connections from which nothing is excluded. My long practice has been that of discovering and articulating the framework into which, I am convinced, there is nothing in the universe that would not fit seamlessly. It was, in fact, designed with that primary imperative in mind. After all, if our words are meant to represent the world, and the world is an integrated whole, then the framework of our representations must replicate that integration.

I have always chosen my reading intuitively, and this too is a significant aspect of the practice I have made. At this point, my intuition honed to monofilament, I trust it absolutely to lead me in the right direction. I trust it because my intuition is a junkie, an addict of epiphany, and following in its tread there is always another fix just around the corner. When that drug erupts in my veins and mind, the sheer beauty and rapture of the whole-of-all-being comes into perspective. I am at once shown and become ‘god’ (or some less controversial yet equally totalizing synonym, if you like). I am not ashamed to say, it makes me cry, sometimes to the point of trembling sobs. This is a symptom and side-effect of epiphany, when the beauty is too much to incorporate at once and you have to let it flow through you. What it has shown me, over and over, is that god is in the connections. The facts and figures may help your team on trivia night, but enlightenment hides in the negative space between.

Step back again.

I believe that enlightenment is a real, and the highest, state of human consciousness. I also believe that All is One. These are both deceptively simple concepts, but their exegesis could go on for many volumes. They will be revisited, torn apart, and put back together in a thousand ways as this blog continues on. For now it is only important to accept them as givens so that the more relevant point can be made. Incredible beauty blossoms from the combination of these two statements. It is actually a syllogism, but of a unique sort that spirals and self-perpetuates akin to a Fibonacci progression:

If,

A: Enlightenment exists

and,

B: All is one

then,

C: Enlightenment is attained only by enlightening all things.

In other words, a solitary enlightenment is a vestigial homunculus of the real thing.

And then it spirals.

To enlighten all things, one must understand all things unto becoming them. But then “all things” cannot be limited to humans, nor even animals, or living things, or material things. All things includes the concepts, the lines of inquiry. It includes all *information* that exists or that is capable of existing in any context, in any dimension, in any universe.

And if all is one, then not only must this totalizing conception be accounted for, but so to must all of the connections between each individual part. If all is one, then each part is intimately connected. It is not permissible to treat our nose as proximate and a 7th dimensional fractal as distant. It is not even permissible to treat them as distinct. And yet we must, because everything we do, everything that has ever happened, is necessity against permission. This is one of many hinges to reality that, once you learn the eye to perceive and the hand to toggle, will unfold meaning and purpose, such as they are, such as you allow them to be.

With countless meditations much like this one in mind (which, though abstract and complex, is as short and simple as I am able to make it at this time), I began to look at the dancefloor from above. Like the viewer of a soap opera, I understood the tangled web far better than any of its players possibly could. I began to understand how I could write their story. The traditional, linear method of book writing would not fit the shape of the subject. This book must be grown from seed. As a hologram, or any creature blueprinted from DNA, each part had to contain the whole.

A final step back.

The subtitle of the book The Metastory is different from that of the blog. It is: “Several Models for Observing the Connections Between Things.” If you would stop now, take a breath, and consider this line in the context of all that I have said above, its meaning should be clear. It is intentionally vague on the surface because a story about the whole of all being must be to some degree vague to allow for all necessary escape vectors. The lines of inquiry require free range at every turn, or they will be falsely limited. Yet at the same time the subtitle is specific and precise.

Several Models: There are six models presented in the book. Each is a system designed to tease out the manner in which entities, in any possible sense of the word, interact with one another. These are not all possible models, but rather a cross section of the infinity thereof. They are better thought of as examples than exemplars, meaning, they are not qualitatively better than any others I could have offered, but they do happen to work well together in terms of providing a plotted, spherical cartography of all possible models. The models are maps, but of a higher dimensionality than that to which we conventionally apply the term. These are maps of specific conceptual territories, but they are not only that. They are also blank templates that can be oriented in countless ways, applied to countless concepts, and always bearing fruit.

Observing: This is the key activity, the skill that must be cultivated above all others. Observation requires a relaxed, open association with everything. We must learn to allow information to come to us as it will, to allow it to flow through us and intermingle. It requires soft focus — a broad view of the world. Observation also refers to the singular activity of all-that-is. The whole-of-all-being is a symphony of information, and all distinct entities within are patterned tilings of that information. When two or more distinct entities interact, these sets of information observe one another and react accordingly. In this sense, observation is the only thing that has ever happened.

Connections Between Things: Though many anecdotes are presented to demonstrated the application of the models, facts and figures, details, are irrelevant. It is the association between things that matters. It is the lines that connect the dots, the web that weaves the nodes, the beams that support the floors. These must always be thought of as allegorical, diaphanous, or conceptual. If they ever seem solid, real, or specific, then you can congratulate yourself that you have discovered one path that does not lead in the right direction. These are often more useful as indicators of the proper path than actually being upon it.

And I really do see the path. And I can articulate it. As a visual learner, the association of sight is significant. Perhaps it is Stendhal that wracks me with tears and awe as I stand before the threshold of the Basilica of Everything. The framework I have articulated is a space the exact shape and size of existence. Everything fits because it must, because “coincidence is what you have left over after applying a bad theory,” (P.W. Bridgeman). (Of course, this sentiment also makes me an incorrigible conspiracy theorist; but in the interest of curiosity rather than paranoia. I am certain I am not alone in this).

This is The Metastory, and its writer (though the author is the connection between you and I), in brief. Please comment, ask questions, refute or even just send a❤. All of what I have claimed thus far is actually toned down — a nominal, conservative offering. All of this is going to take some convincing, but that’s the fun part. I want your dissent and refutation. I want to be berated and derided, humbled, infantilized. I want it all in good fun of course, and I have no doubt that your critiques (and lambasts) will be intended as such. I want to be told, and proven, that I am wrong whenever that happens to be the case. This is theoretical Darwinism. If my theories don’t withstand scrutiny then they will die because they deserve to. My process is that of tearing down the world and building it back up again. This is the primary tenet of alchemy – solve et coagula. Separate and bring together. Scalpel and suture. I desire that performed now upon myself. Self-transformation lies within.

In the next post I will publish a brief outline of the Six Models. Soon I will have enough background information available that the blog will be free to meander through subjects at leisure. I’m excited. Are you?

What Is The Metastory?

The Metastory is, first and foremost, a book. It is a book that I am writing, but it is also a kind of book that cannot be defined exclusively by its physical dimensions or the words within it. It is, in some sense, more properly defined by the white space that frames the letters. The subtitle of this blog is “all things defined by their exclusions.” My full intent in this phrase cannot be conveyed succinctly, but it is worth meditating on until fully rendered.

The author of this book is the partnership between you and I. For my part, what a given reader takes away from it exists only in suggestion. Every instance of readership will result in a unique expression of its potential because it is designed to be reckoned with, wrestled with, conversed with, and responded to. I don’t recommend using a pen on your computer screen, but I encourage the most extensive of commentary. I promise the print version will be generous in margins.

Any meaning generated by this interaction should be regarded not as something that “I” have offered to “you,” but rather an entity in itself, newborn, and in need of nurturing. Feed the ideas, and let them yearn and stretch into the world. Allow them to fulfill their potential. The walls of this book are will-o-wisps and they will lead you astray. Instead, if you find some insight, take it and run with it. Match it up against everything you believe that you know. This book is exponentially larger than it appears, on an asymptotic approach toward the infinite.

All stories are maps. They are an abridged and encoded version of some shred or shrapnel of the world. All we have are stories. In the moment of experience and observation, encoding has already taken place. The encoded infinitesimal moment of experience is the most primordial, fundamental language, and as language it is story. All stories are maps, but the map is not the territory. If all we have are maps, then what, if anything, is the territory? The territory is the abyss of Nietzsche and Derrida; the ineffable of Wittgenstein; the noumenon of Kant; the ideal form of Plato. It is the fully rendered fractal; the asymptote. It is, from a certain perspective, god. That particular label is inflammatory and controversial, however it is only a word. Just another map in our chart room.

The Metastory implies an infinitude. It is the collection of all possible maps, all possible stories. It is a map of the whole of all being. As such a thing is impossible in any sense, (for such a map must also be the territory it represents, at which point the whole world collapses in tautology), it must be understood that The Metastory is instead a map of the maps themselves. It is the card catalog to the infinite chart room. Borges is gleaming in his grave.

The Metastory is a training manual, of sorts. It is intended to instruct in a certain process of approach toward any subject — one that begins with the assumption that all subjects are intrinsically intertwined and can auspiciously inform one another. Because of this, I am confident that, in the right hands and properly applied, this book has the potential to yield deep insight and epiphany on literally any subject.

Therefore, the intended audience of this book are those interested in literally any subject. If you are excited by history, science, religion, philosophy, economics, language, culture, ecology, or anything else to be found in a course catalog at a university, then this book is for you. From the mainstream to the esoteric, the concepts found here are applicable to all things.

You may be asking, “how is this possible?” The answer has to do with how the book came about and how it was constructed. The answers to this will be found in my next post; a somewhat autobiographical account of the intent and basic premises that form the skeleton of the Metastory.