Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Review: The Electronic Doppelgänger: The Mystery of the Double in the Age of the Internet

The Electronic Doppelgänger: The Mystery of the Double in the Age of the Internet The Electronic Doppelgänger: The Mystery of the Double in the Age of the Internet by Rudolf Steiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stunningly, here a Rudolf Steiner speaking in 1917 says this about the twentieth century and beyond:

“And the connection will be made between the death forces in the human being, which are related to electromagnetic forces, and outer machine forces. In a sense, the human being will be able to let his thoughts flow into machines.”

Sounds like our reality, right? As I type this review, I’m doing exactly what Steiner described a hundred years ago.

He explains that within the electricity of our nervous systems, there is another spiritual entity, a kind of doppelganger, who lives in our autonomous reflexes and unconscioius compulsions, who belongs to the sphere of the evil being Ahriman. They are beings who, cast out of heaven before the twentieth century even started, plague the earthly level of our consciousness. They long to destroy the human capacity for connecting to the etheric level of consciousness - that part of us that thinks simultaneously and not successively, in felt mental images, not coldly or mechanically. And they’ve been doing a pretty good job, I’d say.

The editors of this book make the point that the computer and the Internet, as machines that mutliply data beyond our ability to consciously remember (*consciously* being the key word), are versions of this Ahrimanic double. The Internet — in its memes, its tl;dr’s and its Buzzfee article—is pure reflex, pure automatism, making us more and more into machines. We can’t focus: it’s too long; I didn’t read. That’s why it’s so gosh darn important to use the exercises that Rudolf Steiner described in his lectures, or something similar. For example, we can think a series of events backwards, or try to take a mental snapshot of where we left our keys so that we can call that image up to find it again. These tasks are being taken over by the Ahrimanic double, aka the smartphone/PC.

But they aren’t pure evil. Steiner even says so: that they will inevitably come, and that it’s how we relate to them that matters. For me, I’m going to try relating to my electronics with a will and a memory rivaling theirs. I will not let my computer become my brain.

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