Archive for June, 2014

I’ve spent the past several entries trying to pin down the relationship between the simple, straightforward visions of reality that I’ve been discussing at this blog for the last several years and the much murkier and more elusive “underground stream.”

The visions are relatively easy to define, since each one is organized around a limited set of premises and conclusions designed to relate a particular area of practical experience — scientific, social, or personal — to a mystical sense of oneness.

The underground stream, in contrast, has no firm philosophical structure, but it does display certain persistent characteristics. The most obvious is a tendency to perceive existence in terms of occult forces: magical or psychic powers, a world in which invisible spirit beings or unsuspected aliens surround us on every hand, and conspiracies both sinister and benign. It also has a distinctive emotional tonality which ranges from mistily dreamlike to lushly romantic to darkly paranoid.

However, there are times when the visions and the underground stream are so closely aligned that they appear as two sides of the same coin.

One recent example would be the use of the word “cyberpunk” in the 1980s. On one hand, the “cyber” part can be seen as referring to the holism vision, in which networks of all sorts are considered the fundamental units of reality, while the “punk” part evokes the streetwise, anarchic aspect of the horizontalism vision. But it would be equally true to say that “cyber” speaks to the magical dreamscapes of cyberspace and “punk” to the genre’s conspiratorial, film noir ambiance.

Read the rest of this entry »