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On The M

Magic — to which altered states of consciousness are the key — has real effects because reality is not separate from consciousness, nature is not separate from mind. Which leads me to two assumptions…

‎(1) The degree to which we can satisfactorily describe a system as separated from an observer (Kordeš; cf. Von Foerster’s trivialization) corresponds precisely to the degree to which magic cannot influence reality. This gives rise to such notions as magic cannot violate the laws of physics.

(2) The corollary that the more an observer is required to satisfactorily describe a system, the more amenable is that system to magical influence. This gives rise to such notions as magic has something to do with quantum mechanics such as wave-particle duality.

This is the basis of my synthesis of magic and cybernetics: that magic describes the (means to) altered states of consciousness required for desired effects, and cybernetics describes the non-trivial relationship between the observer and the observed whereby altering my state of consciousness alters the world I am conscious of. -Joshua Madara

Y0u, Budi Mulyo, Taylor Ellwood & 2 m0ar p33pz <3 7h15

Which leads to a third assumption, from my end: we are already cybernetic and our capacity to alter that cybernetic form is currently increasing. -Kyle Milliken
Gee whilikers, Josh. That is rigorously and clearly stated. Elegantly, even. I think I’ll be quoting it. -Jeff Howard
Magic *could* violate the laws of physics, but it remains to me seen whether it actually happens outside of my mind. -Neko Special
@Jeff Thank you. I have been looking for years for a concise expression of my synthesis of cybernetics and magic; this is the best I have come up with. Next is to formalize it symbolically. 😉

@Neko I would respond to that by saying that the laws of physics are not outside of your mind although they may appear that way to others who are not inside your mind. -Joshua Madara

Perhaps a better way to have put it would be, “magic *could* violate the laws of physics, but it remains to be seen whether other minds can see it when my mind does.”

If all observers witness the same thing, does it matter if it’s a hallucination or not? If everybody agrees to it, it becomes “reality”. -Neko Special

‎@Neko I suppose that depends on whether you are considering the laws of physics trivially or non-trivially. There is a sense in which they are non-consensual (from _consent_); a gale blows you down whether you like it or not, whether you believe in it or not. But there is also a sense in which they are only consensual, they emerge as laws through our consensual (from _con-sense_, to sense together with) interactions with others. Non-consensual physics are mechanical; consensual physics are social. As Carroll said, science describes how apples fall from trees, and magic is a way of asking trees to drop apples when we need them to. Both descriptions require observation, but we can imagine that apples fall regardless of who watches them, yet the second scenario has a special relationship to an observer through her desire for something to happen in a place at a time. -Joshua Madara
If everyone agreed that magic violated the laws of physics, then in a sense, that would be the case. But do their observations corroborate their claims? Did the sun move about the earth until we changed our minds about it? In a sense no, and in another sense, yes. -Joshua Madara
I’m reminded of that story about the Native American tribe who couldn’t see the ship floating out at sea, until the shaman of the tribe noticed it. At that point, everybody in the tribe could see it. -Neko Special
I have heard many versions of that story; I am not sure how true any of them are. Cf. Steven Pinker’s rejection of the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. What I do know is that my everyday experience tells me that reality does not simply conform to my expectations of it, and also that I do not notice things until I notice them. -Joshua Madara
I was also reminded of a Warren Ellis comic, in which the world of the characters saved themselves from Armegeddon by consensus. The majority of people took it upon themselves to believe they’ll be okay, and crisis was adverted. Their morphogenetic fields combined to create a new branch in reality. -Neko Special
There seems to be a lot of truth to this, but how would you explain it interfering with chance in ways that aren’t obviously connected to any system? – John S. Madziarczyk
‎@John I wouldn’t. Not exactly. Magic is magic *because* two things are not obviously connected — they have “opaque causal mediation” (Sørensen). To describe magic as manipulating probability is to trivialize it, which has its uses but starts us down the path of searching for a linear, causal mechanism which we will not find — at least, not apropos of magic. -Joshua Madara

5 thoughts on “On The M

  1. Very interesting thread. It seems to me that in a way all of the above opinions are right. By understanding the interconnection of all things we realise that changes occurring in our mind influence the reality. I would even push it a step further and say that reality influences our mind and causes it to react the way it does, which in return causes change in our perception of reality. In other words nothing is real for us apart from what our mind can see but if our mind changes, the reality changes with it. I am not sure if any “objective” reality exists at all. All we know is what our minds let us to see.

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  2. “The degree to which we can satisfactorily describe a system as separated from an observer (Kordeš; cf. Von Foerster’s trivialization) corresponds precisely to the degree to which magic cannot influence reality. This gives rise to such notions as magic cannot violate the laws of physics”

    The separation of one-self from the rest of the world is what i consider to be the mistake of the mind. If you see yourself as a component of your surrounding environment, then you can cause a change to this environment. The laws of physics are true only as long as we believe in them. Obviously some things seem to be impossible to change- for example the fact that we can not fly without the use of machinery. The question is whether we can not fly because there is a universal law of gravity out there which keeps us bound to the ground , or is it just practical feature of reality, which prevents things from flowing away into space? whichever is true, our understanding of it can change the way the gravity affects us. Perhaps we can not fly because it is not very practical for us- after all birds can fly with no problem.

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  3. The original post, and your comments Hippi,
    are very interesting, or at least as far as
    i can understand them. As far as physics go,
    I spose we cannot fly (as well as not having wings)..purely because our structure is too heavy, and the necessary shape
    and muscle distribution is absent.
    However.. Having said that, what is to stop the non physical
    side of us from taking off?
    I had a fortune cookie last night,
    it said ..Don’t trust “reality”.. It’s only a collective hunch.:-)

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  4. I think Trace is onto a viable truth there (by viable I mean, we can experientially and experimentally corroborate it). The ability for a system to do anything physically rises from the structural coupling between that system and its environment. Given the same Earthly environment, the structure of birds permits flight and the structure of humans does not. Humans are able to adapt out of that limitation by con-structing structures that permit flight. Take an airplane to a different environment and it may not be able to fly there. This structural coupling underlies evolution as I understand it.

    The dream environment is quite different. In dreams, I need not change my physical structure in order to fly, yet my experience of flight is still embodied — I posture my body for flying, I feel the wind on my face, etc.

    Re the statement, “The laws of physics are true only as long as we believe in them,” in my experience, that is true in some contexts and not in others [1]. Are you able to demonstrate violations of the laws of physics by ceasing your belief in them? Are you able to do so in con-sensus (sensing together) with others? Philip K. Dick said, reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away. In my experience, that is also true in some contexts.

    1. Ideas have something like structural coupling, which I suspect has something to do with Dawkins’s conception of memes.

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  5. If something contravenes the laws of physics its a miracle not magic, but then even miracles can be explained probablistically as very rare natural events.

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