What's surprising about this is that if you ask any evolutionary biologist what is evolution, they will tell you it is random mutations and natural selection. But from my description of the conservation of novelty, there's nothing random about prehistory moving from simple to complex with no turning back. Simple to complex is a direction, it's not random.
Just to be clear, not only is biology progressive but it emerges out of an antecedent progressive process, the evolution of physical matter and the physical universe of stars and so forth. This phenomenon of the production and conservation of novelty is not something that only goes on in the biological domain or the cultural domain or the domain of physics. It is a transcategorical impulse in reality, meaning it's everywhere.
And it anticipates a deeper advance into progressive integration in the form of culture, language, human beings, the creation of material culture, the elaboration of the arts and sciences. And we are the inheritors of all the complexity that preceded us.
I also said that there was a second and related thing that our culture has overlooked. That second thing is simply that this increase in complexity has occurred faster and faster over time.
And so today we have one foot in a dematerialized, collectivist virtual, feeling-toned experience-based future but we also have one foot in the consumer-fetish, objectified constipated linear, acquisitive class-conscious, sex-conscious, race-conscious past. Each one of us is a union of these opposites. Each one of us is trying to make some kind of an alloy of our hideously dysfunctional cultural past and the incredibly compelling yet frightening dimensionless boundary-less polymorphic future.
This future is hard to talk about. From what is happening to us now, we can extrapolate toward this adventure in transformational novelty that is now looming ahead of us with such prescience that it casts an enormous shadow over the three-dimensional landscape of our history and prehistory. We as moderns are very conflicted about this idea because the only vocabulary we have to deal with something like this is the vocabulary of discredited religions. In a secular world, that leaves us with no vocabulary at all.
In the next installment, I can start to connect the foregoing with my assertion that there's something hopeful about what I've been saying and that hope is available to all of us.