A revolutionary, albeit controversial, scientific theory named Integrated Information Theory (IIT) has been growing in popularity lately. This theory is unique in that it integrates consciousness as a fundamental mechanism of evolution and cosmology. This fact alone seems revolutionary, at least to an outsider such as myself; from out here it seems as if science has been dead set on proving consciousness to be an epiphenomenon of the human machine, holding fast to the materialist and reductionist viewpoint. Maybe that's why I'm pulling for this theory...I mean...is anyone else getting tired of being told they aren’t a free thinking, conscious entity? It really, really feels like I am.
Integrated Information Theory in summary- The art of give and take
I highly recommend reading the linked article on IIT before reading any further as A) I won't even scratch the surface here and, B) it's pretty much mind-blowing.
IIT suggests that evolution is a process of data collection and transmission, of information gathering and dispersal. An early popularization of this concept came from Jesuit priest and French physicist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, whose master work, The Phenomenon of Man (Le phénomène humain, 1955), set the groundwork for modern theories, including the controversial Integrated Information Theory.
Within the world of IIT evolution becomes a fancy word for the construction and maintenance of a vast information network, with all of creation united in the gathering and storage of data, a “sentient fabric” that makes up the universe. I've found it interesting to look at things through the lens of IIT lately, to test my life and how I've lived it against such a radical concept, if only in the laboratory of my mind.
I love thought experiments, they allow me to safely play with new ways of thinking and being, to consider concepts that radically alter my understanding of life, even if such concepts are still being explored and validated. In the case of IIT, however, the radical concept is beginning to seem less and less radical with each passing year. Still, no one knows where the truth lies, and that's the beauty of the thought experiment: it never really hurts to let the mind wander, does it? I feel my own creativity has been helped immensely by letting my mind wander fearlessly and, as such, this blog will proceed in that fashion.
With that said...
Hold on tight, it's about to get weird - The art of give and take
Let's assume IIT is correct and that the universe is indeed a vast conscious information network. In this reality two high-level modalities emerge as central to dealing with information: experience and expression. Information is gathered via experience, and information we hold may be shared via expression. At any given time a person or group, anything really, whether organic or inorganic, can be said to be engaged in one of these two acts, or some blend of both.
We don’t typically think of our lives as being an information gathering process, just as we don’t think of our time asleep each night as being a fundamental shift in our conscious state. It seems that when something becomes commonplace in our lives to the point of being mundane, the mind is susceptible to losing sight of the truth about that thing. Still, when we stop and think about ourselves honestly we see that we are constantly in the act of information gathering, each time we open our eyes new data is stored, with each new sound, smell, touch and taste we gain new experience.
Sometimes we receive “extra credit” information--something we think we know--an unexplained sense or foreboding. This isn’t to say that these phenomena are typically useful or decipherable, but the experiences are real enough, lord knows I’ve had them. This data--whether valuable or a complete waste--is coming from somewhere. Even if it’s just an epiphenomenal remnant, it’s still data coming in. Perhaps our ability to use it has largely ceased to function, perhaps it’s just beginning to function, I don’t know, but it does seem to me that nature hasn’t made a habit of being wasteful.
Even the act of eating can be viewed as information consumption, as food has been created out of nothing more than collected data. A plant is constructed from various sources, information gathered through the roots in the form of nutrients and minerals as well as through photosynthetic processes in the form of sunlight, and so on. All this data is collected and used to fuel the growth of a complex and beautiful organism, one whose expression of that information manifests as growth, sometimes edible, as in the case of a fruit tree. Alternatively, growth may manifest as a beautiful flower, which produces a wholly different experience, one that speaks to our higher senses rather than satisfying our primal needs.
Searcher thinker singer songwriter - The art of give and take
What does all this have to do with creation and songwriting? As strange as it sounds, creation may simply be a fancy means of data delivery. I’m aware this may sound unromantic, believe me, but it's not really. What we do as artists is far from mundane, it's pure mystery. Mysterious is exactly what I think this life is. I suspect there’s no lack of mystery in humanity’s future, no matter long we stare into our microscopes and telescopes (although we certainly must keep staring.)
In regards to songs, the thing to notice is that words are our central stumbling block. Music is well suited to communicating emotion, but words are a much more challenging puzzle. This is because words are not the point of communication, they are a modality, a tool, and a crude one at that. What we're after is the communication of a feeling, what we wish to express is our experience of a thing, and experience is most effectively communicated via emotion. After all, this is how we experience our own lives, through our emotions. If people could simply feel as another feels there would be no need for words and miscommunications would become a thing of the past...perhaps even war, who knows?
It is here that we find ourselves as songwriters and poets, writers and commentators, trying to express all that we've experienced with rudimentary tools. Words are our limitation and the birth of a feeling is our goal, the invocation of an emotional experience in another person. In the end, this may be the only pure goal of our expression. All the rest, the money, the accolades, the material, the marketing, etc., perhaps they’re all just necessary limitations of our current state of evolution...primitive as it may be.
Find the video that accompanies this blog post by following this link.
Americana Singer Songwriter Ed Dupas’ lived-in melodies unwind with reflective lyrics that speak to the current state of the human condition. Soothing where possible, agitating where necessary, and calling for change where appropriate. Ed Dupas creates and shares well worn wide awake music.
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