Membrane and Medium: Are They the Message?

The Dark Tower escapade dives deep in the Seventh Week on Monday, May 6th.

We were left last week with the question whether the Charged Global Membrane now being explored by B.W. Powe is a true membrane or a mem-brain, one being “any pliable sheet-like structure acting as a boundary, lining, or partition in an organism”, the other a construct of intellect, memory, and imagination. Perhaps the Charged Global Membrane is both.

Experience is not what you thought, it is what you can remember. All other Experience defeats itself. I am paraphrasing Sellar and Yeatman. Of course, the word “remember” may have to be carefully understood with all possibilities in mind. I am about to recount an Experience, the marvellous adventure of Olde Stephen and myself, what happened after we charged the plant, which turned out not to be the Global Membrane itself, but simply a gateway into it. “CHARGE ME” it said, and charge it we did, with memorable results.

We immediately found ourselves burrowing in a membranous medium, if I may thus describe both our method of propulsion and the environment through which we were propelling ourselves. The latter wasn’t exactly granular, like earth, and it wasn’t exactly liquid, and it wasn’t exactly gaseous, but rather some mixture of all three. Imagine a surrounding of layered viscosities, and you will be close. We weren’t exactly walking, and we weren’t exactly swimming. We certainly weren’t flying. We quickly found that the secret of propulsion was to assume the aspect of star-nosed moles, those intriguing blind burrower-swimmers with the powerful clawed front flippers and nose-surrounding sensors that function like sight. We needed them, because the medium was as foggy as the air had been, if not more so. When I say we assumed the aspect of star-nosed moles, I mean exactly what I say, no more, and no less.

We could detect right away that this medium was fraught with charged membranes, and we were charged both to make our way through it (to the Dark Tower, we hoped, otherwise to wherever it took us), to understand both it and the nature of its charge, and to communicate our findings to the outside world. We instinctively knew that however mole-like in aspect we may have become, we had a considerably higher purpose than your average mole, whose charge is limited only to the finding of food, the avoidance of enemies, the location of mates, and the care of young if any. Olde Stephen, of course, had put all those behind him by the simple act of dying, whilst I, not there yet, was reasonably confident that I would be able to cope with whatever came along. We thus both met the minimum requirements for our membranous, mem-brainy mission. Whether we were up to the rest of it remains to be seen.

I want to emphasize how difficult and unusual was the charge laid upon us. Imagine a fish whose life is dedicated not only to swimming through water, but to explaining to the outside world, which knows water only as something that makes you wet, what water is to a creature for whom it is the vital medium. Water does not make a fish wet, except in our terms. Water, to a fish, literally makes life liveable. I am not by any means sure yet how this analogy translates to twenty-first century humanity making its way perceptually through the surrounding medium, or how that is affected by the Charged Global Membrane. If a fish in its vital medium runs into a membrane, which they often do, the result, with one type, is to be hauled out of the medium as the first of a series of stages ending up on people’s plates. Is that how the Charged Global Membrane works on us?

The medium,—may I call it the Charged Perceptual Medium?,—in which Olde Stephen and I found ourselves burrowing was in fact riddled with charged membranes, like a lake set with myriad different nets, and the question would be whether we would be able to burrow through it without getting caught. And yet we were charged to understand and communicate not only the medium itself, which is easy enough and often done from a variety of perspectives, but the nature of the networks and the various kinds of entrapment they threaten. Or perhaps they do not threaten entrapment at all, but rather hold the promise of freedom, or even the actuality. Or what happens if they do both? Would not that then make the Charged Global Membrane, or network of charged membranes spanning the perceptual globe, simply the Mother of All Unsolved Riddles? If what frees us perceptually also entraps us then our medium indeed puts us in a pretty pickle!

“Olde Stephen,” I asked as we began the experience of burrowing in the experience of the Membranous Medium, “was that what you meant when you said that Socialism, as understood in 1919, was a good idea but wouldn’t work? Did you mean that its way of thinking was liberation but its way of acting entrapment? Liberation from selfish individualism into collective altruism, at the same time entrapment under authoritarian brutality?”

“I think I was pretty explicit about that.”

“And could something similar also be said of its polar antagonist, Capitalism, being liberation from pervasive conformity into individual choice, at the same time entrapment under capitalistic greed?”

“I hope I was clear enough about that too.”

“Does every Utopia make inevitable its own Dystopia?

“I seem to recall that I did think so.”

“Then perhaps we have uncovered the real Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice. Perhaps the riddle of which you wrote is merely one facet. If so, would that mean we have already found the Dark Tower?”

“No. What you suggest is not the real Unsolved Riddle, only the root one. The real one lies in the cast of mind of people who think they know the answer, whoever they are, on whichever side. I think we will find them in multitudes housed in the Dark Tower.”

“Or maybe they are the voices on the hillsides, chortling their cacophony.”

“Or maybe both.”

“Onward, then, Slug-Horn at the ready, through the Charged Perceptual Medium riven with infusions of Charged Global Membrane. By the way, how do we keep the medium from plugging the Slug-Horn?”

“By constantly dauntlessly blowing it, I suppose.”

“Thus adding to the cacophony.”

“A risk that must be taken.”



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