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Essay: Water and Twilight

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Michael K Laidlaw About 2 500 words

#406 3524 31st NW

Calgary, Canada T2L 2A5


‘Water and Twilight’


Knowledge, Truth and Power

in an

Online World

Knowledge is the first question. Truth is the second question. Power determines the answers to both. Online World is the Realm of dispute.


Knowledge includes truth in its definition, after all if it is not true it is not considered knowledge but delusion, falsehood, illusion. Knowledge is dependent on perception, so limited to true according to this or that perception, as a stick of wood in twilight may be thought a snake until closer perception, given more light, as wavy lines seen through pool water is distorted, then revealead as grid when water is removed. Knowledge increases with the number and variety of perceptions, of perspectives. Knowledge is that most intimate, immediate sense, that precedes all ways of interpreting the world that are not perceptual, including the so-called ‘natural attitude’ of subject and object and subsequent dualities by which we live our lives, and includes metaphysics as ‘natural sciences’, such as atoms, molecules, gravity and energy. Knowledge of the Online World is that there is no Object but entirely Subject of Perception. Knowledge is not perceptual fiction but as real as the stick in twilight mistaken for snake, as the grid seen through water. Knowledge is not simply what we perceive but how. Knowledge is agreement of what is perceived with how it is perceived, again with the gridlines in water we do not say it is illusion that it is wavy, we must recognize it is true as seen through water, and it is an error to ever contend our perceptions are entirely free or innocent of ‘water’ through which we see. Knowledge is thus revealed as according to the ‘water’, according to how, and so the more perceptions, the more ‘water’ through which we peceive, the more knowledge we achieve. Knowledge requires multiple perceptions. Knowledge in the Online World is by necessity less than what we can achieve by ourselves in the offline world, simply because we ourselves determine and can be aware of the ‘water’ through which we perceive, here and now, as often, as many ways, as we desire. Knowledge is truth to us in the way secondhand online knowledge is not. Knowledge online is necessarily secondhand because we are not aware of the ‘water’ through which we see, of the twilight that renders the stick as snake.


Truth is not relative but is essentially contextual, the more robust the more perceptions from which the truth is agreed, as for example Einsteinian Physics answers questions Newtonian Physics could not. Truth is that the perceived snake is in fact stick of wood, if truth is added light, closer inspection, but this can be known only through additional perceptions, and this is why multiple such are essential to achieve truth. Truth is not an elemental form seen by stripping away accidental qualities of this or that perception but is an achievement of perceiving how these accidental aspects can be resolved as whole, not as ideal form but as ambiguous reality with all its uncertain, individuating, elements as given. Truth is not case of only based on an absolute or endless difference on abyss of nothingness but only more modestly without claims to absolute, capital T, truth, only true according to this or thst perception. Truth is built of knowledge and rather side-effect than essential goal for thought or perception. Truth is that there is the truly beautiful and the truly ugly but the only thing in common is the assertion of ‘true’. Truth in this case comes closest to being considered relative, as in ‘eye of the beholder’, but even here it is more contextual, it is whose eye, it is in what beauty means. Truth is of various sorts and no one can claim one sort more than another, as much as it depends on what sort is important, but within that sort there are gradations. Truth is therefore multiple and not dogmatic, contextual but not relative. Truth of an object is represented in three dimensions rather more than two, in colour more than black and white, in sound rather than silence, and so on, and to represent in these various true ways requires multiples of perception. Truth is found through knowledge of these various contexts, through perceptions achieved. Truth is always question online because we do not have immediate awareness of the ‘water’ we see through, and thereby knowledge, and even if there is no distortion we may not be aware of the context in which something is true but not relative. Truth online is always question that may only be resolved by further perception, of the most important being awareness of context, of ‘how’ it is true and not simply ‘what’. Truth can mislead if the context is not clear, as promotion that such and such new toothpaste is fifty percent more effective than original at whitening teeth ignores the context that the original is only two percent capable. Truth online requires more and free perceptions to achieve Knowledge with which to understand Power. Truth Online is never absolute but always partial according to perceptions allowed by Power.


Power determines our perceptions, first within our minds, next within the world, if we make that distinction. Power is the ‘twilight’ through which we see the stick as snake, the ‘water’ which waves the grid, and the first way to relieve illusions or particular effects of power is to be aware of them. Power in our minds may be in reflecting or amplifying prejudices or ideas we apply to our perceptions, such as memories we have of childhood thst conflict with those of siblings, such as certainty the lines are ‘really’ grid, the snake is ‘really’ stick. Power in the Online world is most clearly seen in political terms, such as limiting news sources or ways to participate in social movements. Power is its own excuse. Powers that limit perceptions limit knowledges limit truths. Power in the Online World is equally dangerous, effective, because simply by limiting the perceptions open to users of the network the impresssion is created that there is only one world, one perspective, one perception, and that is of the network providers. Power can be invisible if there is no other way of perceiving it. Power over online users is not apparent because it is not perceived from any other perspective. Power of Online users is also problem, for they may have no awareness of other perceptions, believing the Online World is the world, or rather all that matters, in attempting to form relationships or politics IRL, that is, in the offline world, In Real Life. Power Online allows distortion of the ‘water’ by users to other users, in representation of self or ideas, that cannot be seen as distortion if there are no other perceptions. Power Online allows the user to create versions of themselves, multiple or eited or selective, as in creation of automated identities designed to promote limited or fringe ideas as though agreed to by larger population. Power can create people who do not exist but as numbers and profiles and invented persons. Power in determining what the other user perceives includes everything from politics to online dating to hookups, and can lead to contentions that there is no real knowledge, no truths, to which are generally agreed. Power can thereby dissolve what is true, what is knowedge, what is real, first in the Online World then by implication IRL. Power to do this is resisted by maintaining as many perceptions, many perspectives, as reasonsbly possible, much as our political culture is healthier when there are more than one source of news, and more than one way in which to participate, not entirely economical, in direction of our society. Power insists perhaps that there is given ideological slant to the poliical news, of this or that source, and while this may be true, this judgement can only be correctly perceived through multiple perspectives, from as near balanced reading as possible. Power cannot prove arguments by increased volume of repetitive claims, only by gathering perceptions that agree with these contentions. Power is in the algorythms that purport to sell ideal products the consumer desires, in fact sells data of the consumers to the producers, and because the mathematical models are trade secrets there is no way to perceive even once through the muddied ‘water’ how any determinations are made. Power decides what data is Knowledge that its online sources can use to create profiles according to algorythms and thus is seen as true, but again this is true only in the limited Online World, which must be affirmed or corrected by other perceptions online or offline. Power online is blind to itself. Power online does not know what it is missing because it can respond only to online data, given programming, Knowledge it assumes is Truth, so simply repeats and smplifies errors entered online, as for example bots that spew hateful racist screed because of systematic racist errors in programming. Power can never be entirely neutral but we must be aware of this and the only way to tell the three dimensional truth is to have access to other perceptions.


Online World is not territory but Realm, in the sense such and such is the Realm of political Power or intellectual discipline. Online World is Real in its Knowledge and through its Power. Online World does not exist as actual physical presence. Online is not actual in that sense, but its power is more rather than less for Power creates only those elements it needs to characterize Real and no accidental vulnerabiities of an Actual Object or Subject, such as name, place, class, gender, and so on. Online World cannot help but present itself as subjective perception but does not allow awareness of how Power determines that perception is through ‘water’ and ‘twilight’. Online World can be contrasted with the offline world of actual physical objects, which have less ‘Real’ exactly because they do not have the manipulated presence through the ‘water’ or the ‘twilight’. Online ‘water’ and ‘twilight’ are technical lenses through which we receive the Knowledge that leads to the truths, but the digital manipulation is not specifically important, if not simply out-of-date by now. Online World is ‘world’ within the human users, within our minds, given presence by implicationof the Knowledge and its purported truths. Online World is an extension of human prceptions but only according to the Kowledge that this or that Power allows, and can likewise be limitation of human perceptions if this or that Power decides. Online World is as if railways were or airplane travel were in previous centuries, in allowing greater mobility, wider perception, increased trade for humans, but only at the loss of previous freedoms, mainly that of exploring and conceiving given world in chosen manner and pace. Online World is thought first to be utopian freedoms of flow of information and flowering of expression, but this has been recast as tool for capital data searching and political propaganda. Online World is not simply free space for thought but also magnified echo chamber, though this is not clear because the cavern wall that casts back the echo is not apparent, is not necessarily simply voices of fellows, is not ‘actual’ in the sense of being nameable or known thus thought not ‘real’. Online World dissolves what is ‘actual’ but the Realm of Power, of politics and economics and all interpersonsl relations remains in the perceptions of its many users. Online World is ‘real’ in that Realm, in the numbers that characterize it in digital ‘worlds’, in the voices expressed and created, in the relations of Power and Knowledge. Online World is simlarly insubstantial but Real to certain perceptions as ‘Sports World’ or ‘World of Arts’. Online World is thus Virtual‘world’, and so Real but not Actual, Ideal but not Abstract. Online World is Virtual and this gives the ‘actual’ objects and subjects more ‘Real’ because they are perceived in other Realms of Virtual and Ideal rather than only the‘actual’. Online World does not immediately give closer inspection or greater light of the stick that appears as snake, or drain the swimming pool ‘water’ to see the grid of lines. Online World require Power to achieve other perceptions, more Knowledge, more truths. Online World is Power is Real in the given Realm, is True only according to peceptions, is Knowledge only to perception. Online World does not necessarily refer to anything outside itself but only through multiple perceptions has three dimensional reality IRL. Online World can benothing but the stick that appears as snake in twlight, nothing but the wavy grid when seen through the water. Online Power can be nothing but the ‘water’ and the ‘twilight’.


Online World Power will always claim Truth is on its side, and determine this Truth according to what Knowledge it allows. Power determines exactly what is the ‘water’ through which we perceive the wavy grid, what is the ‘twilight’ in which stick appears as snake, and in the Online World it is necessary to be aware of such distortions. Truth is contextual, so true in the limited realm of Online, and this should not be dismissed, but with additional perceptions, other perspectives, Knowledge can add to that Truth. Knowledge leads to Truth leads to Power. Online Knowledge is Truth and Power in its Realm. Power is Real in determining what Knowledge is Truth but need not refer to anything outside its Realm, as in an ‘actual’ stick or ‘actual’ grid in pool water.


Online World is determined by Power that determines Truth by what Knowledge it allows. Knowledge leads to Truth leads to Power only if we assure multiple perceptions to be aware of this ‘water’ in this ‘twilight’ of Online World.


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