Entropy

On the way in to work this morn­ing I re­al­ized that the phrase “your name is ‘mud’” ap­plies to me in a a quite re­al sense. My name is mud. I love puns. But that’s not im­por­tant right now. Entropy. It has been on my mind late­ly. So many things are on the old nog­gin and lit­tle bits ap­pear in my oth­er ram­blings un­til I re­al­ize there is a filet mignon cut up in­to all the ham sal­ad of my oth­er posts. Or at least a sir­loin.

Now it is a pret­ty wide­ly dis­sem­i­nat­ed the­o­ry that the uni­verse will end in en­tropy, heat-death, when the last can­dlewick of a star gut­ters and all mol­e­c­u­lar mo­tion ceas­es. Whatever. I don’t know much about that. What I do know is that my so­ci­ety, per­haps even hu­mans in gen­er­al, seem to pro­mote en­tropy. Perhaps it is in­her­ent to every liv­ing be­ing, that it must take in mat­ter and de­stroy it in or­der to func­tion. Since we are men­tal­ly evolved to be ef­fi­cient not ef­fec­tive de­spite be­ing bod­i­ly evolved to be ef­fec­tive not ef­fi­cient [that idea sort of comes from here] the path of con­sump­tion seems in­evitable.

This sort of leads in­to and feeds what I see as the two main types of hu­man­ly per­pet­u­at­ed en­tropy: stag­na­tion and ho­mog­e­niza­tion. Stagnation is pret­ty ob­vi­ous, re­fus­ing change and op­pos­ing every­thing that would change the sta­tus quo. There is one per­son I work with who epit­o­mizes this to me. If things went this person’s way we would still do all of our edit­ing with pen­cil and pa­per, or at best, on the old VAX sys­tem. Stagnant and ob­so­lete.

The oth­er type of hu­man en­tropy that I’ve thought about is al­so con­cerned with the sta­tus quo, but in this in­stance the con­cern stems from uni­fi­ca­tion through ho­mog­e­niza­tion in­stead of un­change. I guess a good ex­am­ple of this would be con­sumer and cor­po­rate American cul­ture; the Melting Pot idea in­stead of the Mulligan Stew. So you can go across the coun­try and in every large city find the same shop­ping com­plex, with the same stores, sell­ing the same things to the vir­tu­al­ly iden­ti­cal peo­ple from a few thou­sand miles and a cou­ple of moun­tain ranges away. I fig­ure that path prob­a­bly ends in stag­na­tion as well. Once every­one in the world speaks the same lan­guage, us­es the same cur­ren­cy, bends to the same eco­nom­ic and po­lit­i­cal whims and is the same put­ty col­or…

I think what pulled this all to­geth­er for me was my re­cent com­ple­tion of Cordwainer Smith’s The Rediscovery of Man. In this col­lec­tion of short sto­ries, hu­man­i­ty be­comes so ho­mog­e­nized and stag­nant in their utopic hap­pi­ness that the ge­net­i­cal­ly mod­i­fied an­i­mal-men called ‘un­der­peo­ple’ seem more hu­man to the read­er. At least, be­fore the Rediscovery of Man and the sub­se­quent re­dis­cov­ery of va­ri­ety.

So while en­tropy might be un­avoid­able, at least we don’t have to hur­ry the process along. [Peak oil, glob­al warm­ing, eth­no­cen­tric eco­tourist con­sump­tion dis­guised as mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism [We just love Indian food, but can you be­lieve they eat it with their hand?! How drol­ly un­couth.]] The eas­i­est way for me to start is by seek­ing out va­ri­ety wher­ev­er and what­ev­er I am do­ing. That will fight the sta­tus quo of ho­mog­e­niza­tion. Then I’ve got to try to fig­ure out par­a­digm shifts that will pull me out of the efficient/​effective trap de­scribed by William McDonough and there­fore keep me from be­com­ing in­ured in the sta­tus quo of stag­na­tion. At least I’ve iden­ti­fied the prob­lem. Now, on to so­lu­tions.