John Perry Barlow “Enantiodromia

John Perry Barlow could have died a proud man had he only been known as a writer and lyricist for The Grateful Dead, but was also a co-founder both Electronic Frontier Foundation/Freedon of the Press foundations, and a Fellow Emeritus at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, where he had maintained an affiliation since 1998. #wokeaf

“Hieroclitus proposed that the fundamental underlying principle of the universe was something that he called enantiodrama, which was the process by which everything is becoming it’s opposite, at all times – which is the best argument for moderation I’ve ever heard. That is to say, that if something manifests something else that is highly caricatured by itself, it will engage eventually in the opposite caricature.That which is peaceful becomes warlike, that which is rich becomes poor, that which is northern becomes southern.

And we are in an age where in enantiodrama is becoming increasingly evident in practically everything we look at, but before I get into that I want to give you a parallel back in the middle 17th century. There were couple guys surprising Newton and Liebnitz and Newton oddly enough came up with the calculus in the same two week period – and this is not an easy thing to imagine happen since the calculus, at least when I studied it didn’t seem particularly intuitive. But they both managed it and reached that point where the human mind collectively was ready to produce it, and they did.

Now a couple things happened at that point, Newton spent the rest of his life trying to produce that Liebnitz had ripped him off and had stolen his intellectual property, and actually didn’t do very much important work after that because he was so bit bittered at this theft of his idea and insights (*John Maynard Keynes, for one, would take exception to this*)…

…Liebnitz on the other hand thought there were plenty of other interesting things to think about…and he went and invented the "bit”…He invented binary math, or *discovered*, and being a creature of his time, what he did then, and it’s a lovely thing that one could do such a thing or would think to do such a thing, he felt that was proof that the Eastern notion of oneness (the monad) was wrong – because the fact that he could create the entire universe out of once and zeros meant that, of course, there had to be duality. There was the sacred number for profane, there was heaven there was hell, there was God, there was man, there was this, there was that.

Leibnitz was so pleased with what he considered to be the ultimate proof of the western way of looking at things, that he actually sent a letter to the emperor of China, whom, he assumed would be the representative to defend the monad against his revelation. And those were the days it took a couple of years for the letter to get there, and then there was a digestive process that I can only imagine that took another 45 years, and finally he got a letter back which was the Tao Te Ching which was translated, in other words – the Emperor wrote back, I see your point but here’s how we look at it:

It’s not either/or.

It’s both/and.

I think had that been understood at the time would have been a real turning point in Western history, but because we then Decartes and a number of other people that were really pretty welded to the either/or school which we’re now stuck with. And now I think we have finally having proceeded into the golden age of irony, and believe me that’s what this is.