Beams and Struts examines the Singularity in a Campbellian context. The results are fascinating, even if you’re of a mind that Ray Kurzweil’s vision of a Geek Rapture is more wishful thinking than likely future.
Joseph Campbell would have been the first to point out the dangers of reading such science fiction as literal truth. In Campbell’s work, mythologies are never reduced to mere prophecy, belief, or individual religious sect; instead, stories often point toward underlying psychological phenomena that have universal significance and arise from a universal source, despite manifesting in specific cultural contexts. In other words, the cast of characters may change, but the essential plot remains the same. Read in this context, The Singularity could simply be a contemporary expression of an ancient mythological motif: the quest to cheat death. This theme, central to the Sumerian Gilgamesh epic, has been around for at least 3,000 years in literature.
Campbell may have interpreted The Singularity and other techno-philosophies as traps and forms of false consciousness. His vision of a new myth for humanity is far more organic, and places technology in a subordinate role. In his PBS interview series with Bill Moyers, Campbell admits he cannot predict what form this new myth will take, but he believes it will transcend cultural boundaries and represent global consciousness:
“And this would be the philosophy for the planet, not for this group, that group, or the other group. When you see the earth from the moon, you don’t see any divisions there of nations or states. This might be the symbol, really, for the new mythology to come.”
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