ACME stands for Anything Can Mean Everything, and OMMM = Only Material Matter Matters. They mark the proposed extremes of philosophical bias toward anthropomorphism or mechanemorphism. Each of these diametrically opposed psychologies stereotypes the other such that they constitute a monosense extremism. In other words, it seems that the human mind tends to interpret its relation with the universe in ways which can lead to hyperpersonalization (ACME) at the cost of de-realism or hyperrealism (OMMM) at the cost of de-personalization.
absolutely spiritual absolutely material
subjective imagination objective empiricism
Tarot, I Ching, Prayer Quantum Mechanics, Economics
charismatic love cause and effect
‘top down’ meaning and order ‘bottom up’ probability
superstition, mania, pareidolia, woo cynicism, depression, reactionary
naive, simplistic jaded, dismissive
identification with the divine will identification with inanimate logic
life=spirit-ghosts, matter=cartoon illusion life=zombie-robots, matter=fact
objective world is a dream, maya subjective world irrelevant
time = synchronicity, zeitgeist time = uniform duration; t
I AM THAT I AM i = square root of negative one
Arranged by degree of subjectivity or homocentricity, most people who consider themselves rooted in science or skepticism will easily identify the pitfalls of the opposite end of the spectrum: ACME. Anything Can Mean Everything. Like the ubiquitous manufacturer of cartoon products, ACME is Cargo Cult optimism. A naive belief, rooted in pareidolia/apophenia that the cosmos exists to provide one with whatever one wants, (so long as the recipient is worthy of said blessings).
This is Santa Claus, pure and simple. The universe is your vending machine, with all the universe’s comforts and satisfactions available to you simply for the asking. A prayer, a sacrificial offering, some mumbo jumbo, and a bit of humble narcissism is the only coin required to nudge the supreme creator of existence into doing your bidding. God is your parent, partner, confessor, forgiver, and servant. He loves you even though you mainly talk to him when you think you might want something from him. He’s omniscient, but really he can’t see through your transparent pretense of needy, fear-based petty egotism. He really favors you only because you’re more deserving - you’re special, you’re saved. Your accidents happen for a reason. There are no coincidences.
ACME provides everything for free in a universe of cartoon consequences. It’s Manichean bipolarity is all Road Runner and Coyote, with mindless self-confidence effortlessly speeding passed the intellectual snares of the Wily-but-undeserving.
Switching over to the other side of the continuum, we find OMMM. Only Material Matter Matters. This is the mantra of hard materialism. Meaningless and repetitive, the worldview of strict determinism leaves literally nothing to the imagination. We are the universe’s prisoner. Rooted in the strong teleology that the universe is devoid of strong teleology, the human subject is either an exceptional pocket of unknowable fuzziness in a knowable and highly ordered cosmic accident, or an unexceptional blob of deluded protoplasm which nonetheless is the sole source of the perception of order, beauty, thought, values, and purpose in a blind, unconscious universal machine, depending on which side of the argument needs support.
In the OMMM cosmos we find black holes, singularities, superstrings, anti-matter, and quantum, which is really just probability bundles that express themselves as either particles or waves (even though those forms are mutually exclusive by most sane reckoning), depending on the observer, but sort of not really depending on the observer as it might seem. What we don’t find is any sign of ourselves. We are the empty vessel of observation, the pristine and empirical anti-guru who has shed all human identity and mortality to bestow upon the foolish masses the crystal clarity of our unflinchingly, heroically defiant message of enlightenment. The Anti-Cogito: ‘There is no proof of consciousness - you just think that you think, therefore you aren’t.’ You have become none with Youniverse. OMMM.
OMMM is a worldview that draws it’s boundless authority from evidence. Evidence which is produced by and for an audience that exists only to fulfill souped up mammalian evolutionary purposes - which are not purposes at all but a simple elaboration of one or two basic rules established at the dawn of timespacematterenergy. Rules that inevitably, randomly, or arbitrarily (but never purposefully) makes 10+7 equal Chlorine (if we are talking nucleated protons) or 400 + 300 = ‘Red’ if we are talking wavelengths of light.
Anything you may have noticed, like how something like water looks, sounds, smells, tastes, feels to the touch, feels to float or swim in…these things are ‘simply’ emergent properties that inevitably or arbitrarily follow from H2O. It’s all very simple when you reverse engineer it, but try to start from nothing and run the tape forward. How do you come up with a different spectrum of visible light? Where do you get a color from?
Personally, I have spent significant stretches of time pushing the envelope of both ends of the continuum, and see them as natural extremes which human consciousness is prone to. I feel like I have benefited over the years from exploring both sides, but that ultimately I find the extremes to be crutches to help us lean on one side of reality or the other without having to truly own the full reality of what we are as human beings. We get comfortable in our familiar psychological territory and we reinforce that tunnel reality, selectively ignoring, distorting, and denying those aspects of the continuum outside of our comfort zone.
The Cosmos is a word for order, and that’s what it is. Some order is subjective, some is objective. Being that neither we, nor the universe can contemplate ever being completely objective or completely subjective, it seems to me that it is the polarities which are illusion and not one pole or the other.
In between the two poles, we may find a dynamic but anchored intersubjective worldview which honors the empirical realities without sacrificing the enchantment of the Cosmos and the Self. No Santa Claus, no Frankenstein, just real people, real world, real characters and destinies, with all their dream filled, deluded dramas and revolutionary enlightenments.
Ultimately the neurological processes that produce this are no different from those of the rest of the Cosmos. If there is meaning in here, there is at least the capacity to manipulate, transport, and transmit meaning out there. The idea of a Cosmos that manages to evolve a trillion cell organism which is positively dripping with layers of meaning, order, and purpose of megasymphonic proportions without getting even a speck of it on itself is a little far fetched. All hundred billion galaxies over 13+ billion years and no consciousness whatsoever until Homo Sapiens sapiens in the last few minutes of geological time on this one tiny planet. Mmhmm. OMmm.
If you’re interested, here is an analysis of this art I made to accompany this idea.
Starting with the center section:
The caption at the top gives compass directions which I try to loosely follow in the spatial layout of the composition. This was my original purpose, to visually represent this horizontal spectrum of phenomena, from most subjective on the right to most objective on the left. Along the vertical axis, I had a looser schema in mind - micro on the bottom, macro on the top. This seems to have translated to something else on the subjective side, a more literal ‘above<>below’, but on the objective half, it seems to be ‘macro<>micro’.
In the center left of the image we see a naturalistic, stylized image of a transparent, colorless human body with a truncated cranium. The supine posture is significant as it portrays the body from the perspective of medical science. An X-Ray of a patient or a cadaver, lying face down. A model of purely physiological systems. The human features are transparent and irrelevant - a generic mannequin face just there to provide dorsal/ventral orientation. Mainly highlighted there is a rather lifeless brain and spinal column.
Above it we see a portmanteau of the Earth’s atmosphere seen from space and a solar eclipse forming a serendipitous sense of sunlight filtering through a blue green ocean. The half circle above is telescopic, showing galaxies in deep space. The hemisphere below the face is microscopic, a human ovum being fertilized at conception. The top and bottom circles, as well as the yin/yang curve of the back of the neck subliminally suggest something of the hourglass form that I had originally intended to use as a theme on the object side. The sense of the circle divided. The inflection point of physicality over subjectivity.
On the right, we see a closeup of a model’s eye, the truncated circle of the pupil mirroring the cranium so that what lies within the pupil’s circle could be read as a view of what’s going on inside the skeletal body’s brain. The pupil’s blurred periphery represents the subjective visual field, and within it, a mixture of photographic images and hand drawn characters suggesting the fugue of consciousness’s multivalent perceptual and cognitive data streams. The pupil collage is anchored by the landscape photo - an ordinary leafless tree and fence on the left, sky above, road below. The fisheye lens effect exaggerates the perspective of the fence and gives a tone ‘first person singular’ narrative of a somewhat dreamy, somewhat real subjective experience - a scene.
Adding to the narrative, the black cat, mirrored in the center, and echoed in a cartoon form with a head that resembles a black crescent moon. The Sun/Moon theme was unintentional, but it shows up again in the top right with the heliocentric zodiac image and the crescent of the letter C. The cartoon cat’s tail echoes the black crescent moon theme as well, it’s backwards S shape similar to the curve of the cadaver’s neck, only vertically.
The photo, cartoon, and word CAT plays on semiotic themes, such as the Peircean Trichotomy, with it’s Icon, Index, and Symbol distinctions, and the common distinction of image, icon, and word. What I’m pointing out here is that the subjective side is a reflection of exterior phenomena, as reinforced by the square of reflected light that dominates the upper right quadrant of the pupil, highlighting some blue sky and gentle clouds, beneath a canopy of eyelashes which are nearly indistinguishable from the tree branches. The extreme closeup of the eyelid and eyelashes are also suggestive of mirror reflection, owing to the intimacy of closeness.
The flower below adds to the solar/mandala/iris theme, the bright colors offsetting the desaturated tones of the imagery inside the pupil circle/mind’s eye so that the pupil can be seen as a cataract, and the eyelid frame on top, as a reducing valve (to paraphrase Huxley) which filters the psychedelic intensity of full-blown subjectivity.
Here, the literal up and down of the scene within the pupil, with it’s subtle fisheye zoom and reflected window combines with the language of consciousness, of feeling ‘up’ or ‘down’, going ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of yourself. Reflection, mirroring (in the doublecat and the whole eye - self consciousness), projection (is hinted at in the blurred sides of the ‘window’, and in the superimposition of the words Cute_And_Troublesome) - all having to do with how images are conducted through light, and how meaning is conducted through images to…the Self
Right Center: Within The Self
Here, the additions of subliminal, graphic, ideographic, glyphic, symbolic, and abstract elements broaden the scope of this examination of phenomenology. From where we left off, around the symmetry line of the black doublecat, we are beginning to see indications that double meanings are present. The black cat of course, both the subject of many superstitions (they have been considered lucky in some cultures, and unlucky in others), and a cliche or synecdoche of superstition itself. Juxtaposed with the word ‘Trouble’ barely visible beneath the doublecat, a subliminal alert is signaled. An omen, or sign. The converging cats can be associated with indecision as well - the portal of self inquiry which subliminally invites the viewer to choose which interpretation to go with - the literal, clearheaded, object facing side of pure reason, or through the looking glass.
The iconic Lichtenstein eye has several associated meanings which relate to self observation, vanity, perspective, skew or slant. It has to so with the feed back loop of the self’s recursive recognition of the self. It unintentionally resembles the Eye of Horus , carrying the symbolic ancient theme of royal power and protection(thus both social status) as well as the modern reference to the American 1 dollar bill (thus yoking together Eye, I, and 1 (one, as in someone) together in a masculine syzygy which will become more pronounced later in the Expanded Composition.
The Lichtenstein eye is perched in mid air, reflecting it’s imaginative, cartoon surreality, appears to observe the observed scene in the pupil. The mind’s eye’s I, if you will. Agency. It radiates or is overlaid with a kind of glitchy, pixelated decal mandala of crudely drawn Chinese I Ching ideograms and lunar phases, reflecting again the crescent moon and it’s alchemical meanings of hidden truths partially revealed, intuition, the lunar cycle and it’s association with women.
The crescent C also homophones ‘sea’, as it floats on the surface of what could be seen as a still ocean horizon. Like a sailboat, the C focuses wind like a retina scoops images into the eye, animating the visual experience. Notice the dendritic branches supporting the tree like nerves reaching out to C. Sea. See? The C itself resembles a ripple-like disturbance, only imperfect and bearing the essential qualia of something hand drawn and unpretentious.
The acronym ‘ACME’ yields some interesting homophonic figures as well.
With a Southern or Western American accent, ACME can become “Ah see I’m me” (I see that I am myself or Behold! I am myself) or “Ah see me” (I see myself or Behold…me) or pushing it even further “Ah seem E / A seem E” (I seem to be Energy or ‘a’ seems to be energy). In the final case ‘a’ represents the grammatical article a, which is, paradoxically, about specifying identity in general. Not the chair, but a chair. This capacity to specify by generalizing is the very kernel of perception and metaphor. This is what consciousness is and does. That ACME can be deliriously associated with the formula a ~ E gives the opportunity to question that possibility. It’s not only that perception generalizes specific identities that seem to be Energy (ie seem to be literally, objectively real entities despite all evidence to the contrary), but that seeming is what ‘a’ or I or E or subjectivity is all about. E = experience.
Energy is a measure of experiential intensity. What seems to move or cause movement, what warms and illuminates, what changes patterns and makes more sense of them over time. Coming full circle to linguistics, the pronunciation of vowels - their duration, meter, and emphasis are the essence of dialect. Vowels are like phonetic motivation or energy. They hurry or drag, establish tempo and rhyme. Vowels are the most tolerant phonemes to poetic license so that the quality which allows us to stretch a rhyme out of marginally similar words is the same quality that allows us to refer to ‘a’ chair (instead of being limited to naming only the particular artifact that can seat a person’s body to which you literally refer). It is how Anything can seem important. How it Can Mean Everything to someone.
The I Ching is about categorizing and sequencing archetypal moments of change. It is an attempt to characterize the DNA of change itself; to invoke a third eye, or I and I which sees beyond the appearances of the Self. Here the Self projects it’s own pattern recognition onto the cosmos, asks or prays to it for guidance. It is the Self seeking to go beyond itself through a process which can be considered both superficial self-negation or as deep self transcendence, depending on which side of the doublecat you choose to follow.
To me, the Eye, I, and 1 also invite the other meaning 1 in binary terms. Yes. Aye. The point of the eye’s pyramid pointing to the translucent alphanumeric chart above is vaguely reminiscent of a Ouija board, with it’s YES, NO, and GOOD BYE missing. Between chart and the ‘aye’, we can see the mirror image of the tree, now unintentionally but unmistakably taking on the role of a hand or a palm. There’s a lot more in there, the tendrils of the branches and lashes resemble dendrites, while the central mandala is slightly axon-like. The S tail is snake like, with the tree, hinting at Garden of Eden themes - evil, deception, banishment, with the two tree hands seeming distressed, helpless, or dying.
Beneath the ‘Aye’ there is an area of abstract impressionistic color next to steel blue-grey. This reads to me as a further extrapolation of Vision. What do ‘U’ ‘C’? is a question that the composition might be posing to the Aye. The base of the pyramid is qualia, as might be generated in response to stimulation of rod and cone cells. The patterns of raw visual stimulation - exoteric subjective phenomena.
On the top right, we see a zodiacal mandala, with it’s heliocentric graphics of a geocentric/homocentric esoteric worldview. This is yet another kind of Icon dating back to fertile crescent, another aspect of intuitive, superstitious vision. The theme of Egyptian royal power of the Eye of Horus amidst the wheel of change here ascends to divine power as a fully abstracted picture of the solar eye surrounded by the wheel of zodiacal glyphs. The self’s perception of it’s own divine unity, it’s wishful oneness with the reflection of it’s own Idealized Self - uncontaminated by ‘dirty’ physicality and unshaded by circumstance and darkness - a vision of ultimate Alpha strength. The number 9 and letter I (the 9th letter of the alphabet) are visible beneath the equinox line of the zodiac as well.
So, in this panel, we have Eye, I, You (the large pupil is an exteriorized ‘you’), U (drawn black cat’s face and all three cats tails…the scene of the black cat on the road suggesting perhaps that you make a ‘U-Turn’). There is esoteric and exoteric, West and East, In and Out, Up and Down (both emotion, direction, and nobility/esteem/idolatry), around (and around).
To delve deeper into the extended mural on the Subjective side of the mural, come on over to this post.
Left Center: Without The Self
The left side of the center of the continuum deals with objectivity, externality, and requires a different epistemological approach than the right. The left side of this panel intentionally loses some of the sense of artistic collage and presents patterns in an arbitrary, rectilinear arrangement. Like the realm of aggregated consequence it represents, it is indifferent to subjective sense. Noticeably absent is the superfluous layered meanings which dominated the previous panel’s right side. It aims for a subjectively neutral, mostly flat, WSIWYG representation
Not to say there isn’t anything to be read into here, but now the compass points to an entirely different magnetic North. The top of the image features the curvature of the Earth, the atmosphere, and outer space, connoting an orientation to our planet, meteorology, and to gravity. The cloud patterns reflect a pure essence of teleonomy; entropy, evaporation, shapeless shapes with permeable boundaries. Inside a cloud, there is no form at all, from a distance, the cloud appears like solid clump.
The entire Left panel deals with the side of consciousness/the cosmos which is concrete or empty. It deals with opacity and density, structure and motion, rather than meaning and image. The bottom of the Ll is anchored by a snowflake pattern which also resembles the benzene ring - (the discovery of which represents an important milestone in the history of organic chemistry). There is some echo of the mandala patterns from the Right side, but in this context they are molecular, and crystalline - shaped in the pattern not to represent the Self, but more like wheel spokes, out of physical efficiency. They represent nothing, they are the presentation only.
The rectangular elements are shown in false color to de-familiarize them, thus stripping them of subjective associations and present them in a more objective light. The tallest rectangle is a piece of a satellite photo (of Vatican City) which sits above another stack of rectangles showing a closeup of a microprocessor which also resembles a genetic fingerprinting test. To the left of these are negatives of two zebra faces on top of a closeup of muscle tissue, but also suggests liquid melting from or freezing to the snowflake below.
The high and low here are in the sense of quantity, volume, or scale rather than emotional ups and downs or social elevation. Positive and negative have no moral dimension here, but are mere polarity and contrast. The patterns reflect the concrete presentation of the exterior world, it’s evolution, it’s process, in all it’s pristine, soulless wonder.