was “how modernity ended”: the whimper-not-a-bang, “historys only second-order transition”; literally, lowering of the peaks (not necessarily averages) of artifact density on the planet: where you “drift for days” seeing no trace of contemporary civilization (though dissolving remnants of the past are easy to spot). Humans as well as Minds “tend to evenly fill available space” but the gas analogy is misleading: we still cluster, only the comfortable separation — “the right amount of forest in between” — went a few notches up. “Sparsen” is also an intrinsic motivation related to the purity voter in live ethics; now it often alludes to self-sparsening — consciously divorcing your inner selves so they “can only laugh at each other” but will do the harshest mutual vetting. ■    Historical sparsening — the tsunami of leaving, the billion-throat exhale of unclinch — “imploded the reign of mediocrity” by relieving conformance pressures, halting the cycle of vogue, even undercutting psychological (by then rarely psychopathic) parasitism. No longer propping each other, unpacked humans began to slant in all directions, “established a whole new standard of differentness”: after all the homogenization and globalization, the human world was catching up with the pan-biologic trend of diversity buildup. Sparsenings “ultimate atomization” — “systemic dissidence” — exteriorized some long-underway but underappreciated behavioral and cultural shifts: introversion, strangening, declining aggression and competitiveness (“feminization,” “infantilization”); it also inspired much (most?)\ fadeout talk: in many ways, sparsening is fadeout. ■    Its not about population levels (still higher now than during most of history) so much as its structuring: a change in habits more than demography, in perceptions more than habits. Riding the transportation and communication shifts (e.g. telecommuting) from the age of still-robust population growth, sparsening peaked during the rapid demographic shrinking — but it was the flight mobility and the new humans Crusoe index (“to never need each other for bare physical survival”) that reduced civilizations footprint; the effect persisted even when runaway longevity started a new demographic boom. ■    “One more reenactment of an empire crumble,” sparsening perfectly played the role of “the worst crisis of our civilization — always its most recent one.” A deafening collapse — a snap of built-up pressure — and, look, its all settling down already, immensely, dust obscuring the sun: the “harvest season of postapocalyptic programming” was over too quickly to develop much self-understanding or regulatory loops. Abandoned industry, infrastructure werent news: waves of industrial extinction had hit before, leaving layers of rusts; this time, however, it was systemic, accelerating, stack-like: as top producers miniaturized, commoditized, dissolved into “cottage” and “pocket industries,” the next in line moved into the vacated infrastructure and workforce; a similar stack draft worked in dwellables, with cheapest mass housing the first to be abandoned as tenants moved up the ladder — and out. The ages cry was “kill an insanity at a time” — make the irrelevant irrelevant: deurbanization, collapse of trade in tangibles, voluntary disemployment with whole classes of occupations disappearing; deinstitutionalization, prison abolition; the moneyfree movement (“refusing to grow up”) dwarfing the earlier nonprofits; blurring of calendars, fandoms explosion, “feralization of humankind.” It was painfully nonobvious that all this wasnt dying — it looked a lot like it; if your complexity was any vertical (a broader concept than conservative), sparsening was pure agony: lifesucking horizontalization, agoraphobic nightmare, asocial anxiety, a brutal end to the foundational ideal of steady growth; suddenly everyone had to “face inwards”: a lack of own meaning, from an occasional headache, became a life-threatening emergency. A violent midlife crisis, searching for a new identity “and finding too many”: in the post-modernity revolution, history ended — “this time for real,” and for good: it had to “after we set ourselves free.”  ■    A mindopening discovery: how vast and still untouched the planet is, bigger than big enough for any conceivable peopling — and how livable most of it can be for a large but zero-weight animal with negligible alimentary needs. Unleashed, lightfoot humans happily lost themselves into the wilderness — dispersed to chase seasons, anchor lives to no one elses views and vistas, slow down to hang inside the rocks of remotest forests; it was when they returned — at a wholly different level — to changing nature as they had just changed themselves: gardening was reborn, started its long evolution towards adverbiality. Reignited territorial instincts remapped the surface; initially vast (“province per family”), multiply overlapping domains crystallized the new ethos of shared ownership. ■    Law-and-government used to rank among top human achievements (“civilization vs. savagery”), few were prepared to give up on that — then or ever; a chasm grew between the infinity-loving and the infinity-fearing whose abodes of orderliness were also dispersing — “fleeing the unbearable absence of danger” — underground, underwater, in space; of these “not all died but all changed” (many becoming fandoms). At the other side across the passive majority were the unlikely revolution mongers: ascetics, downshifters, self-weaners from the glitter teats — “those who always choose the remotest available toilet stall”; eventually, the tree-huggers, homeless by choice, roamers in unpeopled spaces have — reluctantly — “inherited the Earth” in a classic case of game redefining itself. Little material hardship but such an utter end to life-as-usual: for a time, raw animal optimism was the best survival predictor; those who already knew what to do with the unsought freedom exerted disproportionate influence — became a cultural bottleneck: Everday still sees through their eyes, speaks their jargons, lives off their lores (come sparsening, theirs were the only workable lores outside of religions), shuns the shames (opulence, waste) they were the first to ridicule. ■    Slowish for a revolution, sparsening progressed by temptation rather than force but ended up eroding more than anyone deemed survivable. Most of the victims were not barricade fighters but the disoriented middle — feeling betrayed, they angrily wasted their lives away “to spite the world for being no longer” or simply choked in the sudden vacuum. A powerful counterwave arose: a rush to prop it all up, a spasm of engaging, a pained reunion of civilizations alumni — an emergency quest for a minimally livable societal infrastructure; almost overnight, live ethics transformed from a theoretic construct into a lifesaver, from a philosophic melting pot into a communal potluck; core knowledge, laboredly neutral, became a crystallization lattice for minds groping in the pulverized world. Stream joints of all kinds and scales were popping up: fairs, guesthouses, the Road, the City, others that left little legacy; naturally for a reaction, these “new beginnings” often started out rigid, invasive, ridiculously overdefined, “just a facelift” of the pre-sparsening cruft — bound to evolve or die; the world was coming to.

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