I stopped believing in absolutes a long time ago. Not because I don’t think there is a fundamental ground of reality—an objective truth—out there but because that objective truth is very hard for humans to perceive.
As a species we seem to be hardwired to ignore it in favor of the subjective perceptions our brains absorb. We’re all carrying around powerful heuristic computers in our skulls, but they each carry a kind of defect: filtering out certain perceptions.
When you start to piece various accounts together you arrive, Rashomon-like, at a vision of reality that is… well it isn’t very satisfying, actually. It’s too big for one mind to wrap itself around, which is kind of the point, really. If one could hold the universe inside one’s skull then that one should check to see if they can stop time or change the course of mighty rivers at a whim.
Instead of absolutes I’ve taken to relying on continuums. I do this in my consideration of immersive experience design: some things are very intimate and high touch, others are rooted in environmental objects. All fall within the domain of “immersive.”
People are similar. No one is all one thing or another. That wonderful crusader for social justice you admire secretly kicks cats. The abhorrent racist is incredibly kind to old people—granted it’s only old people they think are the same race as them, but hey: at least they’re not ageist too. Both are fixated on issues of otherness. Perhaps if one were able to expand their definitions and move more of the universe out of the “other” sphere and into the continuum of “their tribe.”
Quick shout out to Grant Morrison for slipping some Spiral Dynamics into the mouth of The Question in this week’s Multiversity. I need to reengaged with that material, but does it’s inclusion on the mouth of a Steve Ditko character imply that GM thinks Spiral Dynamics is some Randian BS?