Run-Tick Chemistry of Mental Objects
“I was in a Printing house in Hell, & saw the method in which knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation” - William Blake
These are liner notes to the public release of Crystalpunk Crystalpunk: the first prototype of the crystalline little minds famously announced in the Crystalpunk manifesto: that key document introducing inorganic strategies as the first principle of our investigations into programming minds, matter and computers simultaneously. Crystalpunk Crystalpunk is an embodied metaphor: an environment in which mental objects can be dropped to be reproduced and manipulated. This kind of autobiographical software is meant to be carried around with you for life like a diary, adding new representations of mental objects when you encounter them. Crystalpunk Crystalpunk is software for memory-management, but unlike any other found in the download repositories on the web, because it assumes trauma to be an integral aspect of memory as a working process. In terms of imagination memory is an overrated faculty, to be distrusted as a force preventing the new from entering this world. Crystalpunks keep reinventing the wheel on purpose because it gives rise to variations on themes considered exhausted and otherwise remained untested. Memory failure is the North-West passage to imagination and Crystalpunk Crystalpunk fails to provide decent memory on purpose in favour of spontaneous connections between what is immediately at hand.
Symbol edit window/ System configuration
Crystal with Output sensors
Crystal on the left with symbols flowing through it (green lines), mental objects on the right.
Crystalpunk Crystalpunk is a system of flows and interactions between symbol carrying entities and memory-units, both moving top-bottom, while the structure made from these compounds crystallises bottom-up: a self-organising pattern in the void. Symbols, represented by circular matter on screen are in transit. Memory-units, black rectangular matter on screen, are fewer in number but unable to exit the system directly, as a consequence tessellating into a crystal, grown analogues to a kidney stone. Memory-units destroy themselves when their lifespan is over. Symbols are corrosive on the memory that is able to copy them: information from symbol carrying entity to memory-unit is transmitted when memory obstructs the symbol and is destroyed to make way. The crystal, or crystals when 100% interconnection between all memory-units is absent, is a nervous system storing, processing and transmitting the symbols entering it. The little mind emerging as a higher level of organisation is cultured on top of an array of output sensors (green nodes on screen) located evenly throughout the system. Time and energy levels are both measured in Ticks, the critical mass of each item in the system depending negatively on the number of Ticks it exists inside the Tick space of the system. Multiple energy Ticks can be wasted in one time Tick, yet being consumed at a rate of one Tick at a time: time can temporarily stop and branch forth sideways. Tick space/time physics is one crystalpunk dominion of knowledge yet undocumented.
When a symbol carrying entity is about to destroy a part of the crystal it fiercely charges its load into the memory-units immediately surrounding the unit that soon is no more. The symbol unleashed starts its journey here: hopping from memory-unit to memory-unit in a forking process moving left and right, up and down, (green lines on screen) its strength diminishing a Tick for each jump it makes until rendered powerless and grinded to a halt. While being processed, the symbol flowing through the crystal can hit upon a sensor and is consequently displayed; when the system happens to be in feedback mode (the Crystalpunk Crystalpunk equivalent to the “sensualistic speech” of Jakob Böhme) this symbol is itself dropped into the system.
A memory-unit can contain one data-unit only, when in direct physical contact they collectively operate as a relay; each unit functioning as a resistor with a energy threshold measured in Ticks that diminishes minus1 for each system time Tick. A unit can assume a new threshold when incoming symbols, charged with a higher energy level, overrides the old value. The transmission of symbols between units is rough and dirty: depending on the strength of the incoming information, a part and a part only of the old memory is replaced by the incoming signal, as such a travelling symbol is increasingly subject to distortion and hybridisation. In Crystalpunk Crystalpunk memory storage is an information cataclysm: a dialogue between hostile actors, the world too small for both of them. Uncalled memory-units can retain symbols considered withered away, popping up by surprise when a dramatic shift in the crystal's shape has made the unit again accessible. More often you will suddenly see shadows appear of symbols 100 Ticks ago inserted, damaged yet recognisable: most of these symbols have a scar on their face.
One famous Lascaux drawing consists of a human body with the head of a bird and a throbbing gristle to match it. To this specimen of pre-historic crypto-zoology other archaeological sites add others examples, like half bison/half pig or half deer/half owl. The fact that this theme resurfaces in every culture, from the Greek Centaur to the eternal drama of time and pattern in Virginia Woolf's Orlando, stands as evidence of one fundamental aspect of mind: its permanent dissatisfaction with the biological and cultural boundaries of what can and can't be mixed. The effortless self-explanatory gesture with which man creates mythological beats is not at all different from the way Grandmaster Flash and others created HipHop. Using only the best bits of different records and processing them back into a new track, the recognisable elements severed through juxtaposition and the physical damage of memory resulting from the DJ scratching raw material in fitting shape. Crystalpunk Crystalpunk is a symbolic processor and we have experimented with feeding it “LIGHT AND COLOUR (GOETHE'S THEORY) - THE MORNING AFTER THE DELUGE” and all tones of the Sound House and instructions that control the movement of a Turtle and the notebooks of Coleridge and the cut-ups of Burroughs and Telepathine; all this will be made available in the future.
For now we will focus on the computer aided design of mental objects as Crystalpunks are programming the psychedelic Self before everything else. A direct perspective on mental objects, liberated from their natural neuro-habitat, can be found in the Lewis Canyon, Texas. Here over a hundred rock carvings (curly, fancy, circular, chaotic, totemic, disharmonious, dotted, disturbed, runaway lines of serpentic intelligence, black holes) were drawn by Indians immediately when woken up after 24-hour peyote bliss. Each carving representing a dream: each symbol an emblem of subjectivity, each carving a poem in its own right, each trajectory pursuing a phantom, each a biography of an object changing shape every 10 minutes.
(Self)Education & Culture = resonance
Crystalpunk Crystalpunk seeks to revolutionize the everyday life of mental objects. The system knows no distinction between symbol processing and memory: both are aspects of structure acting, evolving and growing according to crystalline logic. By default the system comes with an inbuilt collection of the mental objects found in the Lewis Canyon, ready to be selected, amended or deleted. The challenge is to replace them, (or better yet throw them away from Tick 0) in the course of your life, with representations of your own mental objects, and to let them find their way inside the system. This little mind after all is not a game but an environment for the in vitro construction of mental objects liberated from your mind, eventually through self-inflicted repetition to be injected back into it. Each manmade object (a building, a poem, a software project) is resonating imperfectly with a mental object inside the mind of its designer and familiar to you as a spectator because the root(mental object) is already partly available in your own mind. Or why do you think we can make some sense of drawings 10.000 year old? This is what William Burroughs meant when he observed that you can only learn people something they already know. This is not at all contradicting what was said earlier; the objective and the subjective are distinct realities; one consists of unchangeable laws while the other is free to believe this to be untrue.
changing from a boy into a girl in a fortnight but keeping the head. This is a transition that amounts to little for the crystalpunk, but produces large problems for her biographer. What must the hacks and dunces of this world do when the person biographied changes shape and essence with the ease some get drunk after a beer or two. How to tell the story of a little mind growing inside a half-full whiskey bottle (Single Malt Science in the vain of Baudelaire) clustering together into a processor, each memory unit a variable and a function, revolving through individual states, depending on time and luck and input and system configuration. Code makes the biographers problem explicit: both deal with variables and functions operating on them, but where the programmer has no problem with the rapid successions of different values stored under one name perhaps reprogramming the function itself, a biographer is supposed to fixate the variables and functions of its subject in unalterable stone. The book and the software in this case corresponds to different ideals of memory: the biography treats memory as something to encapsulate with the fullest integrity of the actual event possible, even though distortion is always there, and to be used afterwards verbatim by others all pointing to the same reference. In Crystalpunk Crystalpunk input is remembered for a while, but the very fact of triggering a memory destroys it. The crystal regenerates when taken apart, but under certain conditions never it builds up at all or outgrows the system and effectively locks out new information from entering as if the tongue becomes too large to fit inside the mouth and the system takes longer and longer for each Tick virtually no longer playing Ticks at all. What do you need to forget to become a crystalpunk? If you need to ask you can not know now: go read the manifesto, go read Orlando, go study Crystalpunk Crystalpunk with care and follow its leads, let your mental objects evolve and they will get you nearer to the answer to the question you are asking me now in vain.
socialfiction / crystalpunk