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This nOde last updated June 10th, 2004 and is permanently morphing...
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plural octopuses or octopi (-pì´)
1. Any of numerous carnivorous marine mollusks of the genus Octopus or related genera, found worldwide. The octopus has a rounded soft body, eight tentacles with each bearing two rows of suckers, a large distinct head, and a strong beaklike mouth. Also called devilfish.
2. Something, such as a multinational corporation, that has many powerful, centrally controlled branches.
[New Latin Octopus, genus name, from Greek oktopous, eight-footed : okto, eight + pous, foot.]
"Jaron Lanier is fond of saying that in virtual reality one can choose to be anything: a piano, for example. Fine - having surveyed the smorgasbord of morphogenetic options offered by Mother Nature, I would choose to be a virtual octopus. Many people, once informed, would make the same choice. I believe that the totemic image for the future is the octopus. This is because the cephalopods, the squids and octopi, have perfected a form of communication that is both psychedelic and telepathic; a model for the human communications of the future. In the not-too-dstant future men and women may shed the monkey body to become virtual octopi swimming in a silicon sea.
"Consider: Nature offers the example of the octopus, a creature in which well-developed eyes and an ability to change the color, banding, and general appearance of the skin surface have favored a visual, and hence telepathic, form of communication. An octopus does not communicate with spoken words as we do, even though water is a good medium for acoustical signaling; rather, the octopus becomes its own linguistic intent. The octopus is like a naked nervous system, say rather a naked mind: the inner states, the thoughts, if you will, of the octopus are directly reflected in its outward appearance. It is as though the octopus were wearing its mind on its exterior. This is in fact the case. The octopus literally dances its thoughts through expression of a series of color changes and position changes that require no loca linguistic conventions for understanding as do our words and sentences. In the world of the octopus to behold is to understand. Octopi have a large repertoire of clor changes, dots, blushes, and traveling bars that move across their surfaces; this ability in combination with the soft-bodied physique of the creature allows it to obscure and reveal its linguistic intent simply by rapidly folding and unfolding different parts of its body. The octopus does not transmit its linguistic intent, it becomes its linguistic intent. The mind and the body of the octopus are the same and are equally visible. This means that the octopus wears its language like a kind of second skin; it appears to be and becomes what it seeks to mean. There is very little loss of definition or signal strength among communicating octopi. Indeed, their well-known use of "ink" clouds to conceal themselves may indicate that this is the only way that they can have anything like a private thought. The ink cloud may be ad of correction fluid for voluble octopi who have misspoken themselves. Like the octopus, our destiny is to become what we think, to have our thoughts become our bodies and our bodies become our thoughts. This is the essence of a more perfect Logos, a Logos not heard but beheld. VR can help here, for electronics can changevocal utterance into visually beheld colored output in the virtual reality."
"When we are in the act of
seeing what is meant, the communicator and the one cmmunicated with become
as one. In other words, the visible languages
possible in VR will overcome the subject/object dualism as well as the
-Terence McKenna - _Archaic Revival_
This is a segue from yesterday's discussion about visible language. The notion being that, well let me review what yesterday was about. It was about the idea that if we could see language, if language were a project of understanding that used the eyes for the extraction of meaning rather than the ears, that it would be a kind of telepathy. There would be both a fusion of the observer with the object observed, and with the person communicated with. The place in nature where something like this has actually evolved and occurred is in the cephalopods; the squid and the circoliveral (sp) octopii. These are animals that divided from the line of development that leads to human beings over six hundred million years ago. They're mollusks, they're related to escargo, it's an organism very different from ourselves. Nevertheless, one of the things that evolutionary biologists always talk about is the convergent evolution between the eyes of cephalopods and the eyes of higher mammals. This is because the cephalopods live in an extremely complex visual environment and in fact, they have evolved a form of communication that approximates this visible language that I'm talking about because these octopii have chromataphores all over the exterior of their bodies. Chromataphores are cells that can change color. Now many people know that octopii can change color but they think its for camouflage, for blending in with the environment, this is not at all the case. The reason octopii change colors in a very large repatoire of stripes, dots, blushes, travelling shades and tonal shifts is because this is for them a channel of linguistic communication. In other words they don't transduce their linguistic intentionality into small mouth noises like we do. Small mouth noises which then move as sound across space in the form of vibrations of the air. Rather, they actually change their appearance in accordance with their linguistic intent. What this boils down to is they physically become their meaning, and one octopus observing another is watching the unfolding of internalized neurological states within the organism being reflected in color changes on the surface of the skin. Now these octopii not only can change their color because their soft-bodied creatures. They can also change the texture of their surface from smooth to rugose and folded. They can also, because they're soft-bodied, fold and unfold and reveal and conceal, very rapidly, different parts of their body. So they're capable of a visual dance of communication that is an extremely dense kind of visual signal and in the so-called benthic (sp) octopii, the species that have evolved in very deep water where very little light reaches, they have evolved light-emitting phosphorescent organs, some of them with membranes like eyelids over them, so that even in the darkness of the abyssal depth of the ocean they can carry out this dance of light, self-enfoldment, color change and surface texture which is their linguistic style. In fact the only way an octopus can experience a private thought is to release a cloud of ink into the water into which it can retreat briefly and hide its mental nakedness from its followers. This kind of biologically intrinsic wiring into the potential of language is something that we may be able to mimic and achieve using psychedelic drugs as the inspiration for the direction given to a virtual reality development program. In other words we might be able to create kinds of visibly beheld syntax that would be the human equivalent of the dance of light, texture and positioning that constitutes the grammer and syntax of squids and octopii.
_Ordinary Language, Visible Language and Virtual Reality_ by Terence McKenna