Window of Perception & Temetic Metacognition
The Overton window, or window of discourse, represents the range of ideas, which are accepted within the public discourse. Anything that is communicated and falls outside the frame of the window, is essentially disregarded first. Symbol-systems and implicit philosophies define the Overton window. However, the shift of the window, the extension, or realignment and recalibration of the perspective, is basically a matter of confrontation, repetition, critical mass, learning curves, and embodied experiences. The outlandish ideas of science fiction, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, utopian, alternative, transformative, and visionary images, articulated in various media, categorized as technological, social, economic, and environmental fiction, push the boundaries, and therefore shift the window of discourse even among futurists, as those who professionally explore, research, and occupy the territory of the futures. Our investigation in this paper takes a closer look at the mechanics involved in the movement of the window of discourse.
Becoming a sci-fi lunatic is the act of surpassing the business as usual procedure and entering the stage of business unusual. The post-normal times expressionist always already implies the (r)evolutionary act as a creative endeavor, and a continuing transformation of all biological information towards higher levels of hierarchy, while acknowledging Baudrillard’s most cogent expression of his mature thought, namely that reality has been murdered. Overcoming the obfuscation and distortion of a limited omniscience of subjectivity, enforced through comfort zone and filter bubble, reaching the boundless, infinite dimension through ego-death and flow state, entering the sphere of transcendence and mind-blowing awe, describes the process of the denial of death. From these perspectives, we describe the Overton window as a Window of Perception, where cognitive experiences at the fringes of our socio-economic reality, exemplify great changes in the perception of the world, and thus alter through our neuroplasticity, the synaptic networking, our view on the world. Fringes are the outer, marginal, or extreme boundaries of an area, group, or sphere of activity. The shift of the Window of Perception is then ultimately expanding the horizon. It is not only thinking outside of the box, it literally implies perceiving outside of the box through.
The reason why the Window of Perception can be exogenously influenced, is based on a power struggle between those who engage in the reality distortion field and challenge the status quo of the manufacturing consent, and those who violently oppose characters like that through the groupthink representation of ignorance as strength. It needs triggers that penetrate the sphere of the robust frame either through iconoclastic acts or pervasive ideas. Also, the suspension of disbelief necessary in engaging in a fictional world, can lead to the resumption of belief, meaning the transmission of ideas that are not yet realized, but certainly possible, depending on scale, obstacles, and limitations. While entering a fictional world, one can leave it with something that can be translated into the reality of the here and now. These trips into the realm of the fictional dimension, symbolize the explorative nature of engaging in imaginative worldbuilding, and are essentially the foundation for anything in the future.
A “realistic” approach towards the future includes an anticipation of the range from the dystopian dimension until the so called utopian image, articulating the consequences of our actions, and vice versa, considering the actions that are necessary due to the consequences. The dystopian image however should not become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The counteract then is essentially an experiential future that allows an embodied experience of alternatives, which shift the window accordingly. It is therefore not necessarily about the preferable image as an utopian vision, but the yet unthinkable and radical investigation to trigger shifts in the Window of Perception as a sense of possibility to alter the overall direction. The task is to dissolve cultural conditioning and to explore our dreams and fantasies in the virtual hyperspace delineated or expanded by the imaginative realm of fiction.
The complexity and interconnectedness of our time, and the emerging future perceived as uncertainty, and in its exponential development impossible to fully decipher in advance, is by definition, overwhelming our cognitive capacity, and cannot be fully absorbed and understood. Thus, the need to playfully and creatively engage with the possibilities, enables us in preparing for eventualities. Considering the multiplicity, or multiverse and pluralistic futures, science-fiction can open up the discourse, as well as delimit our Window of Perception through the manifestation of a particular, pervasive image. As such, sci-fi is the most advanced and sophisticated trans-disciplinary approach utilizing sciences and arts, and within the disciplines of sciences, essentially combining the so-called soft and hard directions of sciences, which we can then perceive as a smooth transition back and forth, feedback loop-like informing and defining each other.
As futurists, we are engaging in the continuous exploration of unforeseen future possibilities of the infinite diversity of existence itself. Our attempt is to methodologically delineate an approach, which then serves as the methodological approach itself to delineate the explorative study of the pluralistic futures. We can focus on Science Fiction images and visions communicated in literature, games, comics, and movies, and how they inform and define the futures discourse itself, and particularly how they manifest the socio-psycho-economic direction of our aspirations. Critically reflecting upon Science-fiction helps us to question the things we know, how we know the things we know, why we know how we know the things we know, where all of that will eventually lead us towards, and what it essentially has to do with our observation of the accelerating expansion of the universe, with metafiction, or hitchhikers.
Time here is the hyper-abstract foundation of everything, and as the non-linear, non-mono-directional, semantic, sequential progression, an intangible, almost illusive concept that tends to navigate anything and everything ubiquitously, without us having a proper understanding of it, since it is in hierarchical order, beyond and above our ability to influence, impact, control, reverse, or outsmart. As linguistic beings we assumingly experienced, since the cognitive revolution, an exponential development of our cultural-linguistic complexity and interconnectedness. Science-Fiction is hence a communicative manifestation of a dialogue with our collective, consensual future direction. It is the most playful engagement and combination of sciences and arts, and can thus be perceived as the most advanced possibility exploration tool. The suspense of disbelief necessary to engage with the story as a plausible version of what might be eventually coming, is a serious elaboration of scientific, technological, social, environmental, and economic fiction, where ideas and visions are outlined, in order to paint a holistic image of causation and correlation of the consequences of our actions. There is a tremendous necessity and serious urgency in actively immersing yourself in those images of possibility as a way of preparation, anticipation, and education about the vast amount of multiplying factors that shape the world we are about to witness.
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis implies that the structure of a language determines a native speaker’s perception and categorization of experience. If we expand our own linguistic ability and add a creative, fictional element to it, that has always and already the ambition to aim at trans-disciplinarity, we might counteract the emerging uncertainty and ignorance associated with complexity, contradiction, and chaos. It essentially seeks to find out whether we make conscious choices or whether our motivation is so instinctive and subconsciously hidden from us really “knowing” about it, that we might not be able to understand the “why” question as the most profound philosophical endeavor. The deciphering of the matrix code as the ability to truly see your surrounding and environment as the all-connected entity of information that presents itself continuously and ubiquitously to those who can observe without judging, is the essence of arts and sciences, and in its future-oriented cumulation nothing less than magic. The bits and bytes are historic witnesses of what we might become; digitalized selfs, living forever as memories in the heavenly cloud. Science-fiction occupies this realm of endeavor and exploration, and essentially shapes the Window of Perception, our frame of public acceptance.
The enemy hindering us at arriving at a preferable Window of Perception, or in other words, an accurate introspection of our collective intentionality, are those who cannot dream of a better world anymore. Our serious investigations into the possibilities of alternative realities, transformative future images, and novel concepts of socio-economic constructions, are often accused of introducing frivolity into serious historical and political matters. The difficulty here is to convince those who refuse to be convinced, to offer solutions and answers that differ with what they have known so far.
Defeating the enemy is the assignment of temetic metacognition, unleashing the true potential of humanity, while pioneering cultural evolution within the emerging metasystem transition towards a bio-digital fusion. Temetic metacognition is thinking about thinking within our technologically administered memetic existence. It means to become aware of our awareness, an awareness that is the result of an ubiquitous and pervasive media filter bubble, a technological reality, subconsciously, even surreptitiously wiring our perception and thought process. Memetics is the genetics of ideas, while temetics is memetics of technology. It narrativizes the chaos of our time, chaos as rather complicated information, not the absence of order. Temetic metacognition thus enables us to reflect upon our technological conditioning, through which our Window of Perception is informed and defined.
Temetic metacognition functions as a key for opening the Window of Perception, and looking outside of what is right now. It stretches our ability to see beyond and above the current status quo, while being a critical reflection upon our own cognitive making, similar to hermeneutics of suspicion, although more aware of our own cognitive biases, as an essential element in the decision-making process that realizes future realities. Both Temetic Metacognition and the Window of Perception are cognitive tools to visualize and depict the stories that surround us more vividly, and to help us to be much more consciously aware of the confabulations we call “reality”, through counterfactual history, thought experiments, ‘scientification’, as well as the resumption of belief.