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The Knowledge Jockey

Enlightenment through Technology

Colin Brauns
DMST 4200 – Critical Approaches to Digital Media
Dr. Trace Reddell

“Our sole responsibility is to produce something smarter than we are; any problems beyond that
are not ours to solve... [T]here are no hard problems, only problems that are hard to a certain
level of intelligence. Move the smallest bit upwards [in level of intelligence], and some problems
will suddenly move from “impossible” to “obvious.” Move a substantial degree upwards, and all
of them will become obvious.”

- Eliezer S. Yudkowsky,
Staring into the Singularity
Introduction
There is a concept of operation I have become quite fond of, originating in the
psychedelic mind of one of my favorite writers, Manuel De Landa. Manuel De Landa
fuses “non-linear dynamics, the 'nomad thought' of post-structuralists Gilles Deleuze
and Felix Guattari, and the psychedelic experience...i” into pieces of writing that push
the reader's images of what he knows in unbalancingly generative directions. The
operation De Landa describes involves the “double articulation [of] sorting and
consolidation” of matter into geological strata, biological species, and social classes.
The concept is most easily described from the geological point of view. Sedimentation
in rivers sorts rocks of different sizes, buoyancy and so forth. After the rocks are sorted
into similar groups, they are then consolidated into geological strata, “each composed of
small pebbles which are nearly homogenous with respect to size, shape and chemical
composition.ii” Genes are similarly sorted and consolidated in this fashion. They are
sorted by evolutionary pressures such as predation, climate and mating. Then, sets of
genes are consolidated by reproductive isolation (becoming incapable of mating by
separation or death) until a new individual species is formed. Social classes also sort
and consolidate. Class roles sediment through ranking on the social pecking order, and
are consolidated by legal and theological codification. The double articulation of these
operations is a powerful occurrence, one I believe to be active in the process of
research. In today's dense media climate, one goes through many pieces of writing,
video, conversation, lecture and so forth, sorting out pieces of information that are
relevant to certain overarching ideas one has. Then, these pieces of information are
consolidated into new research papers. For the last two years, I have been sorting
information with several guiding principles. I wanted a realistic viewpoint that would
simultaneously be able to reflect upon and influence the world. I wanted to be the
ultimate agent of progress, helping people solve their problems, working towards an
idyllic world born of science fiction and unwavering optimism. The consolidation of this
operation was destined to be an archetype for action. I call this resultant archetype the
“Knowledge Jockey.”
The ideas in this paper are by no means organized chronologically by date of
discovery. Each piece of sorted information has found it's own place in a section, it's
own conceptual strata. I roll the Knowledge Jockey archetype through each strata of
sorted information until it consolidates into a cohesive, increasingly (yet never entirely)
comprehensive archetype for survival in the 21st century, one that uses scientific and
spiritual enlightenment and political action as it's two primary modes of operation. The
arguments put forth in this paper are fairly straightforward. I argue that we are in the
middle of several major paradigm shifts in the way we produce, use, and distribute
knowledge that are challenging authoritative structures in academic and other spheres.
Secondly, I define some of the material shifts that we will see in the world, resultant of
our new knowledge paradigms, and of being in an age of exponentially increasing
technological production. Thirdly, I will define the ethics of the knowledge jockey,
shaped by influences from Shamanism to the Situationists. Lastly, I will describe how
all of these new phenomena will reshape our world, and how we can survive the
tumultuous years ahead through creative survival.
Third Culture and the Third Knowledge Revolution
Every so often, a group of thinkers comes together and declares their difference
from their intellectual predecessors through a change of name, and a distinction of a
few principles that have changed with the times. Old notions, widely held to be true,
sometimes for centuries, are overturned, but not overnight. Small groups of very smart
people initiate these revolutions by discovering something, but the real revolution does
not come until other people in the world start noticing and changing how they act, a la
Malcolm Gladwell. The Tipping Point phenomenon could be well deconstructed from a
neo-materialist point of view.
The Third Culture is a self-declared paradigm shift, bellowed forth from John
Brockman and a team of some of the most distinguished scientists in the world. Their
claims that a juncture of several theories and disciplines have allowed the scientific
intellectual community to directly engage the culture of the world, an area historically
reserved by the literary intellectual elite, are quite strong and have garnered much
attention in recent years. Brockman argues that “the division of intellectual disciplines
into the literary and the scientific… is obsolete.iii” While this is true, it is not thanks to a
few scientists that are part of Brockman’s intellectual stable (a small group of extremely
smart people.) Brockman wants to be interdisciplinary, yet by establishing an
intellectual pedagogy he is disintegrating the ability to actually push intellectualism
forward, because he is simply creating new masters for everyone to be disciples to.
Essentially, he is thus creating new “disciplines” out of old ones, while the ongoing
technological knowledge revolution is dissolving the need for “disciplines” at all.
Michael R. Allen is hip to this fact, and carefully deconstructs it in an article entitled The
“Third Culture” and Disciplinary Science, specifically using a book by Joe Moran entitled
Interdisciplinarity, which humbly deconstructs the same shifts in disciplinarity. He
beautifully highlights a different vision for interdisciplinarity as offering “something akin
to a conversation in which knowledge is shared.iv” This view of interdisciplinarity is
vastly enabled and reinforced by a technological knowledge revolution as altering to the
fabric of the planet as the developments of speech and writing – and perhaps more so.
Throughout our history as a species, we have undergone several revolutions in
our ability to produce and exchange knowledge. The first of these was speech. This
enabled an era of oral legacy, propagated via story-tellers and shamans. The second
knowledge revolution stemmed from writing, which allowed “for the aggregation of tribes
and villages into urban complexes through the apparatus of royal administration.v” The
digital age represents the Third Knowledge Revolution, where “strict disciplinarity is
impossible,vi” and society is increasingly networked to a vast global, streaming database
of knowledge, seething with uploads, downloads and transfers. In the world of the third
knowledge revolution, the noosphere is thicker than the atmosphere, and all frequencies
are literally vibrating with knowledge. Once the third knowledge revolution touches the
entire world (as it has almost nearly done), a re-localization of all systems becomes
possible. It is not surprising then, that community-based, independent media and
systems of education have been arising all over the world. This de-authorization of
knowledge will allow people to design the worlds they want to see.
The advent of Third Culture and the Third Knowledge Revolution, both occurring
in major ways in the mid 1990’s, is indicative of an even larger change that we are
undergoing. These paradigm shifts have occurred all over the place in the last twenty
years, in light of several revelations in everything from information technology to
physics. One paradigm shift results from computer models of artificial life. The
previous paradigm was that of the hylomorphic model. In the abstract sense, think of
the hylomorphic model as arboreal, essentially as having the structure of a tree. On top
of the tree sits God, below him sit popes, presidents and so forth. On higher branches
sit professors, below them are their disciples. This model has persisted in human
thought for its entire history. People think that this is the natural way of things, as
increasingly live in ecosystems that are self-contained, only coming in contact with other
machines. Many new technologies seem to emerge as horses once did, from
evolutionary processes. So when we encounter new technologies, how do we deal with
them? We certainly don't try to approach them as we would a wild horse. We let them
into our houses, and allow them to continue their lives. But somehow, we are blind to
the fact that technology, left untrained and unbridled, is just as dangerous as a wild
horse. All across the world (especially developed countries,) wild, electronic horses are
roaming through our homes, breaking up our conversations and relationships, kicking
dust into our eyes, stealing idle moments and putting sheets of metal and glass
between us. The wild horses that roam through our streets and homes are also like the
wild horses of days past. They enable both war and progress. Once we tame them, they
can enable a different level of civilization, nearly unimaginable now.
The same physical laws that enabled evolution have enabled technological
growth. Technology, it seems, “wants” the same things as life does. Kevin Kelly informs
us that “the major trends in technology evolution, actually, are the same as in biological
evolution... towards ubiquity, towards diversity, towards socialization, towards
complexity,vii” and towards specialization. The implication that technological innovation
share many of the same traits as biological evolution makes a lot of sense. What other
process could technological growth really occur by, that we have observed? Ray
Kurzweil explains how technology and life have the same evolutionary properties:
Evolution applies positive feedback: the more capable methods resulting from one stage of
evolutionary progress are used to create the next stage... each epoch of evolution has
progressed more rapidly by building on the products of the previous stage. Evolution works
through indirection: evolution created humans, humans created technology, humans are
now working with increasingly advanced technology to create new generations of
technologyviii.

The most capable methods from one stage of technological growth go on to build
the next stage. We can see this in the evolution of computer chips – the best processors
are used to design the next processor. There is an exponential increase in intelligence,
led by the human mind. In an increasingly tangible sense, writing about the evolution of
technology is also inherently writing about the evolution of the spirit, as our search for
meaning and our ability to solve problems is exponentially increasing with our
intelligence (and our technological frameworks.)
Human mobility and capability will increase as our bodies become more
technologically enabled, thanks to what Ray Kurzweil calls the G.N.R. revolution, with
each initial standing for one of the three overlapping technological revolutions on the
brink of occurring in the fields of genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics. Genetics has
allowed us to map the ways in which life has evolved, and gives us insight into how to
defeat age-old diseases, allowing us radical life extension, and replace any organs or
skin tissue. Nanotechnology “will enable us to redesign and rebuild – molecule by
molecule – our bodies and brains and the world with which we interact, going far
beyond the limitations of biology.” Robotics is the most powerful of these revolutions,
Kurzweil argues. It will see the evolution of super intelligent robots and intelligence
enhancing appendages developed for humans. As Kurzweil points out, “intelligence is
the most powerful [force] in the universe. Intelligence, if sufficiently advanced, is, well,
smart enough to anticipate and overcome any obstacles that stand in it's path.ix” We will
surely use these revolutions to improve our bodies in unprecedented fashions.
Future humans will be capable of superhuman feats by todays measure. We
might even consider them gods, as the ancients would consider those of us who can
talk to one another from the other side of the world. One thing that we would consider
godlike is the ability of future beings to develop our muscle with relatively little work.
This trend already exists today, with people taking nutritional supplements to enhance
their builds, with the main difference being that they have to work at it. This excerpt,
from Neal Stephenson's book, The Diamond Age, illustrates how one might achieve
humongous muscle mass with an investment in one's own biological systems:
On a previous visit to the mod parlor, two years ago, he had paid to have a bunch of 'sites
implanted in his muscles – little critters, too small to see or feel, that twitched Bud's muscle
fibers electrically according to a program that was supposed to maximize bulk. Combined
with the testosterone pump embedded in his forearm, it was like working out in a gym
night and day, except you didn't have to actually do anything and you never got sweatyx.

Having nanobots enhance your muscles would reduce the amount of time one
would need to spend working in the gym, and increase the amount of leisure time one
was afforded. One could also install nanobots to increase flexibility, or have your
nanobots connected in such a way that the programs could change depending on what
activity you were doing. For example, it doesn't make sense to be hugely muscled to run
a marathon or sail a boat. The stimulation of biological muscles is one way of enhancing
your muscular system. Another way would be to replace your muscles with extremely
strong nanocarbon fibers, and one's skeletal structure with nanocarbon tubes. If one
were to do so, one could punch through just about any material known to man, given
your skin was resilient enough. One could jump hundreds of feet, and land without a
problem. People could have the strength of superman, and perhaps his senses too.
In The Diamond Age, our pseudo hero, Bud, has a musical system comprised of
a “phased acoustical array splayed across both eardrums like the seeds on a
strawberry.xi” He also has “sights - not very tasteful sunglasses with cross hairs HUD-ed
into the lens on your dominant eye.xii” These are meant to supplement a “skull gun,” a
nanoprojectile launcher installed in his forehead. They augment his vision to help him
aim, while additionally providing an increasing intimidation factor for anyone that wanted
to mess with him. It is not too far to imagine eye augmentations that allow one to see
like the Predator (the decentralization of the panspectron,) switching from infrared to
ultraviolet to sonic or microwave. One might imagine telescoping or microscoping
eyeballs that allow scientists to hurdle through their environments, dissecting biology for
any sign of useful atomic arrangement to sell. These systems would inhabit our bodies
like billions of bacteria, bringing us back to the neo-materialist view of technology has
simply part of a larger machinic phylum, an evolved form of life. Kevin Kelly also refers
to machine as the “Seventh Kingdom of Life,” allowing images of a symbiosis similar to
that of bacteria in the human body with technology. The symbiosis that we have with
technology is part of a greater trend of symbiosis that we have with the other forms of
life on earth: the bacteria and other organisms that thrive within our bodies, the
mammals that we have domesticated, the life that balances our ecosystems. In that
sense, we have always been cyborgs. Still, technology is not necessarily always on our
side. The Diamond Age also illustrates what the drawbacks of such bodily modifications
might be: dangers in installation, constant jumpiness or twitching, an increased need for
nutrients and food intake. For some people, however, the risk would be well worth the
investment.
We must seek to change the mass model from that of fearing technology and
fearing change, to that of embracing technology for creative survival. Arthur C. Clark's
popular third law rings particularly true: “sufficiently advanced technology is
indistinguishable from magic.”
The Ethics of Liquidity
Poised on the edge of such an intense exponential technological revolution, we
seek to find paths through the coming (and present) days. Going the corporate route
seems so detrimental to the world (and thus to oneself), yet going the Buddhist route of
renunciation has its pitfalls too. The corporate route is too structured for individuals to
be themselves. The Buddhist route is too loose, too spaced out. There needs to be an
ethics created for the 21st century that allows conscious members of society to be
critically engaged with their environments. We want to be able to group together
enough to stay cohesive, but mobile enough to change with the times. Scientists
creating artificial life simulations in computers are coming to believe “that the liquid state
in nature – not just actual liquids, but liquidity in the abstract sense of being not too rigid
or too loose – these liquid systems “poised on the edge of chaos” are natural
computers.xiii” If we start looking for this ethics of liquidity in culture, we find it at all the
coolest conjunctions. Bruce Lee, who denounced traditional, rigid martial arts schools,
famously said “be like water.” Similarly, the Gracie family, founders of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu,
embraced live training early on, and encouraged open conversation in their academy.
Now, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is considered the best grappling art in the world. Hip Hop
“flows,” and DJ’s “eddie” their records. Hacker culture does it too: minds flow around a
problem until one “hacks” into any cracks. The etymology of the word hack is “a quick
and simple fix,” following the philosophy of liquid: the easiest possible route. Evolution,
according to Kevin Kelly, is just a “series of hacks.” It is present in travel culture too,
where the experience of travel allows one to enter into a liquid state. Manuel De Landa
suggests that “there might be an ethics here: how to live your life poised at the edge of
chaos, how to allow self-organizing processes to take place in all the strata that bind
you.xiv” The lesson here seems to be to never let your life become too rigid, too boring.
This section of the paper is designed to give a brief sketch on how to live a liquid life.
Pre-historic shamans were oftentimes the corner stone of ancient communities,
deferred to even above the chieftan of the tribes. They were responsible for
communing with the Gods, to make the rain come and the crops grow, to prevent floods,
to relate with animals, and to preserve the oral traditions that were the wealth of the
knowledge of the tribe. His relationships with the various spirits that he detected in the
world were mediated through a variety of objects. Rocks were carved into Venus
statues and other portable art. Cave walls, sometimes 1-2 km beneath the earth, were
painted with a variety of mixtures and substances; as if on the other side of the wall lay
the world of gods, demons and spirits. Skins from dead animals covered these
shamans, allowing them to speak to the spirits of the species (today, “film is an
immeasurable expansion of the realms of the dead, during and even before bullets hit
their targetsxv.”) Anthropologists believe that the earliest productions of art were enabled
by shaman entering into altered states of consciousnessxvi. There were several routes
into these altered states of consciousness: hyperventilating, sensory deprivation,
ingestion of psychedelic drugs, sleep deprivation, meditation, or fever. Paleolithic
shaman would enter into caves, where sensory deprivation would allow them to enter
into these altered states of consciousness. Once in these altered states, shaman would
often produce cave paintings of people killing animals. Some anthropologists believe
that these paintings were “sympathetic hunting magic,” performed to enhance the ability
of the tribes hunters while on the hunt. He would project a desired solution for his social
group, much as artists do today, and divine possibilties for the future. Yet, “everything
that was directly lived has moved away into representation.xvii” And so everything that
the shaman once worked with has now become a representation or a symbol, “fused in
a common streamxviii” from which the modern Shaman draws.
The shaman serves as a primal model for the art movement that would emerge
through Hip Hop. A great DJ not only has a great collection of albums, but can read the
crowd and spin music with the right tempo, the right feel. Showing certain knowledge
and reference allows the DJ success in “an abstract proving machine that governs the
right to speak.xix” The break dancer gets funky, entering into an intense altered state of
consciousness through vigorous exercise. The VJ takes striking images and mixes them
together to create links between the “spirits” - different ideas. The MC appeals to the
spirits through prayer (his projected flow.) It is from this Hip Hop mentality that we get
Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid's “Rhythm Science.” He talks about
rhythm science as “a forensic investigation of sound as a vector of coded language that
goes from the physical to the informational and back again.xx” This investigation is the
most primal of the modern human era – taking the physical sound, turning it into
information, projecting it, receiving the bounce back and adjusting, recording, and
projecting again. Rhythm Science is like the technological sonar of the present-day
shaman with "strange, inferential portraits of a seamlessly complex system for routing
people and products, a system as intricate as a global nervous system without all the
baggage" mixed on live screens, with live audio, with data pulled from across the global
database of knowledge. Also, like the Shaman, Paul Miller assumes different spirits
through his alternate personal, DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid, who he calls a living
engagement with an “ultra media-saturated youth culture.xxi” The Rhythm Scientist is a
spiritual being, digging not just for new sound bites, but for news pulsing up from
different corners of the globe, new innovations, new technologies emerging and
enabling new kinds of thought. He listens to citizen journalists, war photographers, and
the life rhythms of different cultures, “transforming subconscious thoughts into
formalized artistic acts.xxii” He documents and catalogs them, archives them into digital
formats, uploads them, begins weaving them together into bass beats, drums, melodies,
with political sound bites in the background, pictures pulsed across his spoken word
poetry and dance. He is swept along as the browser drifts in front of him, yet, he is
aware of the pulse undulating in the surrounding social scene. He merges the two – the
flow from the ether (gods word) and the present circumstance with microphones
implanted in his external minds eye. “The hieroglyphic language of the cinema is
capable of expressing any concept, any idea of class, any political or tactical sloganxxiii”
and the rhythm scientist explores them all.
The derivé is like an ancient migration, with the Shaman leading the pack,
looking for signs of green pastures and wild fauna. They take note of the symbols and
indications around them, the hieroglyphics are pasted into Google Maps to form a
psychotopography. We put our houses on the hills of this psychotopography (the cultural
hotspots) where the oceans of mass media can't swamp us. But being swamped is just
one habitat in the various media ecologies of different societies and cultures. The airy
mountains of Tibet still have scarce vegetation, even though they are struggling with a
variety of invasive species. The southwest of the United States has a rampant viral
epidemic. Major metropolises could be considered rain forests, with calls of a wide
variety of species and a constant influx of energy; liquid biological strata surrounding
solid structures. Memetics becomes quite real in the world of the KJ, and he has to be
mindful not to get infected via his technological devices.
The “technology is a bearer of forces and drives,xxiv” and the KJ dips in and out of
them, pulling back direction for the group. But the KJ doesn't just listen to technological
trends: he also listens to those rhythms that the ancient shaman listened to, allowing
him to divine a true economics. He uses the technology to alter the world. He
participates in the creation of a global network that keeps track of the commons: how
much can we extract today? All of these questions revolve around a truer sense of
economics. We must incorporate the economic into our ethics as well.
Just after World War II, Vannevar Bush noted that inventions “extended man's
physical powers rather than the powers of his mind.xxv” In the 21st century, inventions
are focused on extending man's mental powers via digital technology, cell phones
laptops, and all of the informational assemblages around our learning (video games,
etc..) Writing at about the same time as Bush was a man who would earn a Nobel prize
in literature for his accomplishments, Herman Hesse. While Bush was constructing
man’s physical powers and just beginning to consider the expansion of his mind power,
Hesse was deep into the derivation of a method and ethics of achieving an expansion of
man’s mental powers. His final novel (even though he lived 11 years past it’s
publication,) and the work that won him the Nobel, is where one might find his
conclusions. The Glass Bead Game is a novel set in the future – suggested by Hesse
in later writing to be in the 25th Century – that tells the story of Joseph Knecht. Knecht
is an orphan who enters into the elite academic province of central Europe, Castalia. In
the nearly monastic Castalia, much of technology and world influences are prohibited
for the sake of spiritual and academic. The spiritual development, alongside his
academic development, of the Castalian scholar is begun with meditation exercises. He
then begins to learn music. Finally, he may enter into the Castalian Order, of which the
players of the Glass Bead Game are the most elite. During Knecht's years at Waldzell, a
“high school” that produces the Bead Game Players, he meets another youth, Plinio
Designori, who becomes his philosophical antithesis. Plinio is not part of the Castalian
world – rather, he is an emissary of the outside world whose presence in Castalia is
enabled by his family's wealth. Plinio argues for the merits of the material world while
Knecht argues for the merits of a Castalian lifestyle. At Waldzell, “the two worlds and the
two principles had become embodied in Joseph and Designori respectively.xxvi” The two
ideals, the consciously solid structure of the Castalian province (and the fluidity of the
Glass Bead Game)
While at Waldzell, Plinio often argues that “the world” and the “normal life” were
superior to the “arrogant scholastic intellectualism” of Castalia. Using stinging rhetoric
that attacks the base of the Castalian culture, his main problem with Castalia seems to
do with the “resigned sterility” of the whole spiritual culture and behavior that takes
place in Castalia. Hidden amongst these attacks on the Castalian culture is betrayed a
fondness to the world of politics, wars, business and relationships. In Castalia, no such
materiality is allowed, with students hardly owning their own possessions. They don't
get married, but often go down to a nearby town to interact with the girls, who have no
predilections about marrying these untouchable scholars. They part ways after
graduating Waldzell, with Joseph entering into the Castalian Order, and Plinio returning
to the outside world. In the outside world, Plinio takes his place amongst his wealthy
family of landowners, and becomes a terrific politician and businessman. Eventually, he
works his way onto a major committee that decides the funding for Castalia, working as
an advocate for his childhood home. He then returns to Castalia to find his old
companion, Knecht, has become the Magister Ludi. The Magister Ludi is the ultimate
administrator of the Glass Bead Game, the highest honor in the Castalian world. They
have a conversation that leads Knecht to offer his resignation and move into the outside
world in an attempt to save the Castalian order from what he believesis an imminent
collapse. He moves in with Plinio as a tutor to his son, Tito. While tutoring Tito, Joseph
Knecht goes for a swim with him in a glacial mountain lake, where he succumbs to the
cold and drowns. When Tito realized that he had led the old Magister Ludi into the lake
“...a feeling of sacred awe took hold of him which foretold that this guilt would change
him completely and would make more demands upon him than he had hitherto ever
demanded of himself.xxvii” This guilt is something that environmentalists feel when they
toss a plastic bottle into the trash can, or when a socially conscious Anglo-American sits
in an American History lecture on the genocide of Native Americans with his friend from
a Native American tribe. Tito is driven, from a young age, to be simultaneously Castalian
and worldly, spiritual and practical. Castalia is best understood by its ritual game, The
Glass Bead Game.
The Glass Bead Game is a mode for the scholar to interact with “all the insights,
noble thoughts, and works of art that the human race has produced in its creative eras,
all that subsequent periods of scholarly study have reduced to concepts and concerted
into intellectual property.xxviii” Here, we can see reflections of the battles we undergo
today over intellectual property. Hesse describes a system where free and unrestricted
access to information is the precursor to the production of the game. The scholar's
resources are not restricted, but freely available (although Castalia does have
government sponsorship, and is considered a luxury of the civilization.) The unrestricted
mixture of media and meme becomes clear in one of Hesse's only technical
descriptions of the Glass Bead Game (Das Glasperlenspiel) :
... on this immense body of intellectual values the Glass Bead Game player plays like the
organist on an organ. And this organ has attained an almost unimaginable perfection; it's
manuals and pedals range over the entire intellectual cosmos; its stops are almost beyond
number. Theoretically this instrument is capabale of reproducing in the Game the entire
intellectual content of the universe.xxix
Hesse describes the game as “a mode of playing with the total contents and
values of our culture...xxx” Much as Vannevar Bush imagined himself in his laboratory,
snapping photos with a camera attached to his head, while “the cord which trips its
shutter may reach down a man's sleeve within easy reach of his fingers,xxxi” people who
play Hesse's Glass Bead Game use an organ whose “ manuals and pedals range over
the entire intellectual cosmos.xxxii” Both of these forms of media creation, published
within two years of one another (1943 for Hesse, 1945 for Bush), imagine new forms of
invocational media, where the powers of man's mind are amplified through technology.
He uses “the machine to add new layers of meaning and functionality to the daily world
itself.xxxiii” This kind of person could be called a “Knowledge Jockey,” the archetype
illustrated by Tito Designori. It is Tito who interests me more than even Joseph Knecht.
He is a hybrid, a fusion of the material world and the spiritual world. He could even be
considered to have the characteristics of the first Knowledge Jockey, a new kind of
persona, who has his finger on the pulse and spins together the various strings of his
observations into real world manifestations, dymaxion artifactsxxxiv. This fusion of
analysis and of production is representative of a real emergent “third culture,” where
makers and hackers all over the web are producing new objects, and composing stories
about hem, directly aimed at their own cultures. It’s not all dependent on future
technologies. It is happening now.
An early prototype of the Knowledge Jockey is imaginable with today’s
technology. Imagine: high resolution images are projected in all directions from a
central console. Speakers line the walls. There are no keyboards, mice, or screens.
Everything is multi-touch interaction screens. All of the machinery is nearly silent as it
hums away at the building of this ultimate external framework. The KJ stands in the
center. His whole body stands as one invocational medium, poised to explore concepts
far and wide. He has access to all of humanity's knowledge, with constant and
accelerating updates. This is a personal exploration with the world around him: the
spiritual, the ephemeral, the invisible, the universal, the material, the ecological, the
economical, and the social. Wireless sensors are connected to the KJ's body, detecting
all of his vital signs. They are part of his performance. At first, he meditates on himself.
He can switch frequencies, noting his x ray, heat signatures, and so forth, indexical like
the Hip Hop voicexxxv. He runs through a few exercises to get himself warmed up: his
favorite memories, his goals and wishes, his most intimate connections, the
assemblages, machinations, flows, and structures of his environment are cycled
through his minds eye. One screen pulls up the three dimensional image of a mosquito,
the second is filled with machinery, and the third is filled with an antidote to an epidemic.
His quick flitting fingers form gesture after gesture as he invokes a new type of life into
existence. He begins to design a mosquito who delivers antidote rather than extracting
blood. In the next room lay a workshop. A rapid prototyping machine and all variety of
tools lay there. Here, his technology hums with nearly a life of its own, as interns and
padwans scurry about the room. From his journeys, just next door, he sends down
models and plans, concepts of (dymaxion?) artifacts and accompanying comprehensive
strategies for their integration of the assemblages through which he has just passed.
This is the KJ at work, deconstructing the hylomorphic model through his understanding
of “the nets and bets, modes and flowsxxxvi” of the machinic phylum, pollinating the metal
consciousnessxxxvii. Seated for the first time at the helm of machines which enable
human minds the long dreamt of abilities of time control (capture, rewind, fast forward),
astral projection (video conferencing, creation of characters in MMO games and
communities), communal with the full pantheon of gods (google, wikipedia), the
Knowledge Jockey can begin to design a better society, exponentially.
Conclusion
The Knowledge Jockey uses an ethics of liquidity and a neo-materialist viewpoint
to navigate the third knowledge revolution produced by exponential technological
growth. By doing so, he creates something beyond civilization, which was/is a series of
forms enabled by the second knowledge revolution, writing. Just as civilizations were
only far-fetched dreams of the first knowledge revolution’s political group, tribes, the
next level of societal growth is hard to imagine for us. It may not even be possible,
considering the dramatically changing environmental situation on the planet. There are,
however, several interesting tools for an imaginative thinker, things like an expanded
ecological economics, the Design Science process of Buckminster Fuller, the future
engineers of yesterday: science fiction writers.
The Design Science Decade was a concept put forth by Bucky Fuller to
encourage a decade of design that would eliminate all poverty, all need in the world,
through the use of the Design Science Processxxxviii. The first step of the Design Science
Process involves choosing a problem situation, describing the problems in that state,
and defining a preferred state. An easy analogy is an ecological one. Say a knowledge
jockey chooses to address the destruction that cities wreak on the environment. He
would describe the state, using the full gamut of tools described above. He could use
the emerging fields of ecological economics and Manuel DeLanda’s neo-materialist
viewpoint of economics to define a true economics that encompass far more than
today’s monetary economics. Then he would define an ideal state, and begin to design
a solution. A solution a Knowledge Jockey might come up with is something that could
already have been thought of by a visionary designer. R. Buckminster Fuller once wrote
that “a designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective
economist and evolutionary strategist.” One might use those words to describe Neal
Stephenson, who describes a city that intakes its water and air through distributed,
rhizomatic structures, splayed out into the environment:
“Source Victoria's air intakes erupted from the summit of the Royal Ecological
Conservatory like a spray of hundred-meter-long calla lilies. Below, the analogy was
perfected by an inverted tree of rootlike plumbing that spread fractally through the
diamondoid bedrock of New Chusan, terminating in the warm water of the South China
Sea as numberless capillaries... One big huge pipe gulping up seawater would have done
roughly the same thing... but it wouldn't have been ecological.”

Stephenson's future engineers have constructed an elaborate method for micro-


extraction of atomic material from the environment, for later shaping by any numbers of
device/people. While this is a far-fetched scenario for today (who knows if/when this
will really happen?), it is a good example of how Knowledge Jockeys, given their neo-
materialist perspective and measurement of true economics, would approach and solve
a problem: with a distributed, sustainable method.
The Gaia Hypothesis, introduced by James Lovelock, asserts that the planet is
essentially one super organism in which there is a global, ecosystemic balance
(homeostasis.) He proposed this theory in the late 1970's, to much opposition in the
scientific community. An overwhelming global consensus has recently established that
human activities are causing unusual global warming. Is this evidence that the Gaia
hypothesis is valid: there is one global ecosystem that is in balance, and throwing it out
of balance has been seen to result in ice ages and extinction? What the planet really
needs is an intelligent global monitoring system, a nervous system, that will keep the
many distant parts of the planet in homeostasis. The analogous bone and blood
already exist in road/mountain and pipe/river systems. Imagine millions of KJ's at work
in concert and competition, in the field sending live data in for use and archive,
designing artifacts at home (while their artifacts design their homes), constantly plugged
into a global network where all flows pulse, training natural and technological machinery
to work in concert for the benefit of the whole ecology. As our understanding of the
machinations and true economics of our various ecologies increase, so will our abilities
to manipulate the flows of matter within them. We are seeing the growth of the nerve
lines via the growth of our broadband networks. Let's just hope that the growth of these
nerve networks allow us to react in time, before our species forces a global
environmental collapse, and we lose this opportunity.
i Davis, Erik. "Delanda Destratified." Techgnosis. <http://www.techgnosis.com/delandad.html>.
ii De Landa, Manuel. “Deleuze and the Genesis of Form.” <http://www.cddc.vt.edu/host/delanda/pages/genesis.htm>
iiiAllen, Michael R. “The 'Third Culture' and Disciplinary Science. <http://ctheory.net/priner.aspx?id=357>
iv ibid., 6
v Raschke, Carl. The Digital Revolution and the Coming of the Postmodern University. London and New York: Routlidge,
2003. 13.
vi ibid. 17
viiHow Does Technology Evolve? Like We Did. Kevin Kelly. TED Talks.
<http://www.ted.com/tedtalks/tedtalksplayer.cfm?key=k_kelly> 10:09.

viiiKurzweil, Ray. The Singularity is Near. Penguin, 2005. 40.

ix ibid. 206.
x P. 3, The Diamond Age. Neal Stephenson. Bantam Spectra. 1995.
xi ibid. 4.
xii ibid. 6.
xiii Davis, Erik. "Delanda Destratified." Techgnosis. 26 Oct. 2007 <http://www.techgnosis.com/delandad.html>.
“The metaphor they use is solid, liquid, gas. If the system is solid, too crystallized, its dynamics are
completely uninteresting. If it’s gaseous, it’s also uninteresting – all you have to do is take the averages of
behavior and you know what’s going on. Liquids have a lot more potential, with all kinds of attractors and
bifurcations. Now they’re coming to believe that the liquid state in nature – not just actual liquids, but liquidity
in the abstract sense of being not too rigid or too loose – these liquid systems 'poised on the edge of chaos'
are natural computers.”

xiv http://www.techgnosis.com/delandad.html. Manuel De Landa


xv Kittler, Friedrich A., Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Stanford University Press, 1999. 125.

xvi A fascinating exploration of the spiritual phenomena of our ancestors is From Black Land to Fifth Sun, by Brian Fagan.
xvii The Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord. <http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/debord/>

xviii ibid.

xix Fuller, Matthew. Media Ecologies. MIT Press, 2005. 33.

xx Miller, Paul D. Rhythm Science, Mediawork, 2005. 4-5

xxi ibid. 12.

xxii ibid. 89.

xxiii ibid. 88.

xxiv Fuller, Matthew. Media Ecologies. MIT Press, 2005. 56.

xxv Bush, Vannevar. "As We May Think." The Atlantic. July 1946. 26 Oct. 2007
<http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/194507/bush>.

xxvi Hesse, Herman. The Glass Bead Game, Henry Holt and Company, 1949. 96.

xxvii Hesse, Herman. The Glass Bead Game, Henry Holt and Company, 1949. 384.

xxviii Hesse, Herman. The Glass Bead Game, Henry Holt and Company, 1949. 15.

xxix ibid. 15.


xxx ibid. 15.

xxxi Bush, Vannevar. "As We May Think." The Atlantic. July 1946. 26 Oct. 2007
<http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/194507/bush>.

xxxii Hesse, Herman. The Glass Bead Game, Henry Holt and Company, 1949. 15.

xxxiii Clark, Andy. Natural Born Cyborgs. Oxford University Press, 2003. 15.

xxxiv http://buckminster.info/Index/D/Dymaxion-A-G.htm

xxxv Fuller, Matthew. Media Ecologies. MIT Press, 2005. 28.

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, "A Thousand Plateaus," University of Minnesota Press, 1980, p. 409. “We may
speak of a machinic phylum, or technological lineage, wherever we find a constellation of singularities, prolongable by certain operations, which converge, and
make the operations converge, upon one or several assignable traits of expression. If the singularities or operations diverge, we must distinguish two different
phyla: that is precisely the case for the iron sword, descended from the dagger, and the steel saber, descended from the knife ... But it is always possible to
situate the analysis on the level of singularities that are prolongable from one phylum to another, and to tie the two phyla together. At the limit, there is a single
phylogenetic lineage, a single machinic phylum, ideally continuous: the flow of matter-movement, the flow of matter in continuous variation, conveying
singularities and traits of expression.”

xxxvi A major theme of Rhythm Science.


xxxvii Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Felix. A Thousand Plateaus. University of Minnesota Press, 1980. 409

"... what metal and metallurgy bring to light is a life proper to matter, a vital state of matter as such, a material vitalism
that doubtless exists everywhere but is ordinarily hidden or covered, rendered unrecognizable, dissociated by the
hylomorphic model. Metallurgy is the consciousness or thought of the matter-flow, and metal the correlate of this
consciousness. As expressed in panmetallism, metal is coextensive to the whole of matter, and the whole of matter to
metallurgy. Even the waters, the grasses and varieties of wood, the animals are populated by salts or mineral elements.
Not everything is metal, but metal is everywhere ... The machinic phylum is metallurgical, or at least has a metallic
head, as its itinerant probe-head or guidance device."

xxxviii