rething,

rethink something familiar as new, discover new meanings in the old: experience, or bring about, an unpredicted viewshift that derives from no change of substance — or causes one instead of being caused. Its also the ethics of repudiating the waste of death and destruction: “never erase, always rething,” “theres more newness in a sustained world.”  ■    Plague, churn, rething: metabiology gives a three-stage generalization for the history of life. It all starts as plague: the extensive — “greedy” — primordial biomass self-chokes with resource depletion, with matter and energy massively sedimented, removed from circulation (e.g. Carboniferous deposits); diversity is low, crises catastrophic, recovery difficult. Gradually, biology ascends into churn: the all-eat-all world of intense recycling, tireless whirls of spawn and perish; here, loss of matter is minimized (everythings edible to someone), complexity and specialization accumulate, cataclysms cleave deep but the wounds heal quickly. In churn, speciation outruns extinction, diversity trends up: each plague-like outbreak leaves the biology more resistant. Finally (and controversially), once life reaches a certain level of organization (tied to the emergence of intelligence?), rething shifts the dominant ecological pathways towards perishless restructuring, renovation, rejuvenation — “pouring new wine into old wineskins”: predation wanes, interdependence and mutualisms accelerate, diversity remains high but specialization yields to universalization, crises are worked around — even prevented; “poisons, repellents are rethinged into spices and medicines.”  ■    Evolution optimizes for staying power, not (however measured) efficiency — so “theres no progress” (todays winners would flop in a different age) nor overall direction… but that, itself, may be only locally and temporally true; even death is not a given: evolution uses it for adaptability but entirely different approaches to entropy control and long-term staying power are possible. If you dont mind treating intelligence as a means to a teleological end, nomogenesis — a “planetary rething symbiome” — may be a perfect something bigger: “horizon of civilization.”  ■    Churn is relatively easy to model; in experiments, infrequent (but never slow or local) “wildfire rethingings” — paradigm shifts — are observed to pierce, spasm-like, the infrastructural molasses of lazy adaptive currents. A rething-dominated evosystem is more difficult to demonstrate, models remain inconclusive; some have seen a “kernel of wonder” crystallizing — an eye of the storm, a migratory realm excluded from churn and swept clean by the fierce rething winds it draws and emits. The “rething world” may, ultimately, be heat death where everything is everything — but before that it is a new kind of life, a churn of understandings that kills, recycles, gives birth — only to senses, visions, interpretations: life that harnesses entropy to sustain extropy. Consciousness, even forcedness of the reimagining is critical: rething to churn is like limited-term democracy to monarchy that devolves with chance and death.  ■    Echoes of the concept fly far and wide from the biologic urheimat; rething attractors have been suggested for civilizations (“many times has humanity rethinged itself”), sciences, ages of life (deep sleep as self-rething: “no longer dying, we addict ourselves to forgetting”). In culture, some say a rething age began with modernity, for others were “barely out of the plague”; in any case, culture — an autocatalytic, engageful evosystem of memomes — is where we learn to rething in the first place: quote, remake, restore, relive, layer up protectively. Slack was dinosaurian gigantism; the mobile mammals that dominate after the sparsening catastrophe thrive on collaboration, flaunt their edit trees and over-the-shoulder views to stimulate rethingings. Like biology, culture evolves away from modelability the more you model it: determinism is gone, everyone is the hurricane butterfly; even a secretly imagined future is ingrown into the whole hairtangle — and frightens the real future away chaotically.  ■    The all-preserving rething — “triumph of undo” — breeds noncommittance, ambiguity: “temples these days” are transparent Farewell Forests that “universally inspire,” textless Stonehenges “built to be easy to turn any side up.” Is the whole three-stage scenario just pretty-printing of gradual death? Are we entering a long fadeout of life that “goes soft,” immaterial? Agony of a mind in a freezing body?

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