NOTES ON BEHAVIOR 5: INTENSITY-SEEKING
There’s an increased consumer focus on “living in the moment,” seeking limit experiences and peak performance. Mel called it “the new hedonism.” The trend toward the consumption of experiences rather than things (in a service-based economy and as) has evolved into an economy of intensity.
It might be related to the sense that we’re running out of time. From the Gamechangers intro: “our lives are as much characterized by scarcity and what we’re losing (time, space, attention, the care we give to /feel from others) as by abundance and boundaryless-ness.”
Or it might relate to the sense that now is all we have, what media theorist Douglas Rushkoff calls “Present Shock”:
“This is the new “now”…Everything is live, real time, and always-on. It’s not a mere speeding up, however much our lifestyles and technologies have accelerate the rate at which we attempt to do things. It’s more of a diminishment of anything that isn’t happening right now – and the onslaught of everything that supposedly is… If the end of the twentieth century can be characterized by futurism, the twenty-first can be defined by presentism.”
In pop culture: the rise of YOLO, the fanaticism over the Redbull jump from outer space, and the mainstream reemergence of rave culture and electronic dance music are all examples of this behavior.
Now that many of the former markers of luxury have been reconfigured by wide availability due to globalization and the internet, being the busiest and having most intense, extreme experiences is now the defining feature of contemporary privilege.
"Riding the crest of burnout is associated with privilege. …. Experientially, privilege means being so busy, overcommitted, and invested in your life that you’re always at risk of hitting the point of diminishing returns."
– Philosopher Robin James
Do you feel safe? Do you feel you can have your images and eat them too? No rhyme or reason to worry—a guard will always be on duty to save you from the dread of entertainment.
At this point we need to define the meaning of the words “intelligence” and “consciousness.”
My definitions are the following: intelligence is the ability to make decisions about decidable alternatives. Consciousness is the ability to decide about undecidable alternatives. Intelligence implies computation and combination, while consciousness implies sensibility (aesthetic and erotic) and ethical judgment.
Nevertheless, I feel that this answer is too succinct, and I need to go deeper. I need to develop the implications of the concept of intelligence starting from Leibnizian computational ontology, starting from the conceptual distinction between the discrete and the continuous in the transmission of information, and in the evolution of life.