Soundcloud Beats Maslow OR: How Transcendence Works
Some trash talking and a soft intro to FreQ Theory
For the past year I’ve been working on a theory of emergence/transcendence/phase shifts. Tho these are somewhat different things, I want to begin communicating their unifying and practical aspect—one you may find immediately useful in your own lives.
Be warned, some of what follows may read like ridiculous obviousness. But within this obviousness there is a world of fascination we will only just begin to put together. This is a soft introduction to FreQ Theory.
Everyone seems to want to go from this to that. To transcend something, surely. To shift states. From hungry to full, from horny to released, yes, but more. To become happier, healthier, smarter, sexier; from pain to contentment, from poor to rich, lonely to loved, novice to expert, but more. From here to there, kitchen to bathroom (do make sure you make it all the way in), valley to peak, east to west, Earth to Mars, and so on. Makes sense. Transition is the founding operation of all that exists. Indeed, if things never went from this to that, the fireplumes of infantile space would never have condensed from gas to planet, nor protozoa plunged to penguin, nor rocks to tools, nor cucumbers to pickles… nor would have we gone from ape to human.
I cannot think of a human effort that isn’t an attempt to facilitate shifting states. The mother transitions the infant to child, the bus driver delivers us from home to school, the guard is hired to shift vulnerability to safety; the teacher to transition ignorance to knowledge, the chef to transition ingredients to meal, the painter to transition pigment to picture, the builder to transition material to structure. And philosophers…
Philosophers transition perfectly mild cases of confusion into existentially dire, feverishly myopic, compulsively overlong, tangential, comma-laden ones.
Nevertheless, in the era of the digital meme, a good number of them have sheepishly endeavored, pride be damned, to get to the bit-sized point: They try to explain transcendence itself with simple visual memes. Wilbur, Maslow, their intellectual progeny, etc.. Some are triangles, others are rainbow’d circles. Some look like butterflies. Others are more esoteric.
But in my view none of them say enough. I don’t mean these memes lack detail. I mean they lack the detail—which is, again:
Perhaps not enough philosophers have read enough of Phillip Anderson’s More Is Different. Or perhaps not enough of Engels or Hegel. Or perhaps there just aren’t enough academics out there with Soundcloud accounts.
For in a severe case of inadvertent genius…
The Soundcloud logo crushes them all. To explain why, I’ll try to say enough (but I do hope not so much that I transition you from engaged to annoyed).
Transcendences emerge because enough of something has happened.
You’re hungry and you eat a smidge—but the hunger does not subside. You’re horny and you masturbate a smidge—it only gets more intense. You need to poop and you don’t quite get it all out… truly, that is the worst.
Indeed, if enough of something does not occur, the prior state simply does not transition into a qualitatively new one.
A few puddles are still puddles—but enough puddles make an ocean. A little bit of mass makes an asteroid—but enough mass makes a planet. Enough learning makes a master. And enough vinegar for enough time makes a pickle.
Like a child who has tried 16 times to ride a bicycle and then, finally, on the 17th attempt, transforms into a bicycle rider.
Once a quantitative threshold is surpassed, a qualitative shift occurs—and that’s transcendence.
Methane (CH4) becomes a different gas, ethane (C2H6) just by adding another carbon atom and 2 more hydrogen atoms. Add more of the same stuff (carbon and hydrogen) and it keeps changing, until it reaches a profound threshold—16 carbon atoms and 34 hydrogen atoms—and turns from a gas into a solid, hexadecane (C16H34).
Add an oxygen atom to two hydrogen atoms and it turns to water. Add another oxygen atom and it turns to hydrogen peroxide. Boil water enough—beyond a threshold of 212 degrees (at sea level)—and it turns to steam.
And what of emotional transcendence…
My favorite “meditation” for transcending emotional states comes from Baba Rajneesh—the infamous Osho. Caught in some oblivion of despair, I’ll employ it:
I must become sad enough. So I sneak off to some cloistered pocket of the house and begin forcing myself to become more sad. NO. Sadder than that. NO… sadder still! NO! FAR SADDER THAN THAT!!!!
In a safe space, I push myself beyond reason into a hyperbolic frenzy of morose declaration…and then…further…and then…without fail and all at once—I surpass an invisible boundary and a break occurs. Very suddenly, my sadness exhausts itself. No longer within the sadness, I become witness to it.
This process of emotional enough-ing is invariably punctuated by the giddiest, most gleeful laughter my body is capable of quaking… yielding a qualitatively different state—joy.
This enough-ing also shows up in other ways, in what Marshal McLuhan termed a “break boundary”: the major shifts in socio-technological advancement occur at quantitative thresholds of both invention and use, beyond which qualitative shifts occur in human culture.
Don’t forget time.
Certainly we daily employ more tame techniques of break-boundary generation involving quantities of time rather than quantities of emotion or technological development.
Meditate for long enough and a new qualitative state is likely to emerge. Work long enough at something and become masterful of it. Stop smoking cigarettes long enough and become a “non-smoker”, and on and on…
Hopefully this has been enough information to move on to a closer look at that Soundcloud logo.
We see multiple hashes on the left turning into a solid cloud on the right. 13, hashes, to be exact. Notice that they are not only increasing in amplitude (height), but, crucially, that the negative space at the center of each waveform—which determines the frequency between each vertical hash—is shrinking as the hashes proceed. The hashes are contracting. Their frequency is increasing. And then, suddenly, precisely where we would expect to see the 14th hash, something shifts. A quantitative threshold is reached beyond which there are no more hashes, but the sudden emergence of a single, consolidated, qualitatively different entity—a cloud.
And yes, clouds form just that way: Enough water vapor collects beyond a quantitative threshold, and a cloud appears—a qualitative shift from water vapor.
But, as mentioned, this is not just how clouds are made—it’s how transcendence generally occurs.
Again, we have intensifying quantities on the left leading to qualitative shifts on the right. From learning to mastery, from eruptions to islands, from cold to boiling, from acquaintance to lover, etc..
Congrats to Soundcloud, their logo represents the quantitative/qualitative key to transcendence and its subsets (emergence, phase shifts, development).
Ok, I’ve almost had enough of this Soundcloud logo.
But before I wrap up this soft introduction to Freq Theory (a hard intro to FreQ Theory is up next), here is a hint as to where we’re going…
Guess what this is:
If you guessed “sunset”, you’re not far off. This is, yes, a continuation of the condensed Soundcloud form on the right—but does it look like something else, too?
Here, lets try again, but zoomed out:
Yes. It’s a flat line. But it’s also a flatline…
Call it silence, equilibrium, death—this is where the Freq Theory of transcendence really begins.
Part 2—a proper introduction to FreQ Theory—will be headed your way in the next week.
Until next time, happy transcending.
In this article you said there will be more on FreqTheory …..where can I find more about this? I’m curious to learn more
I stopped reading briefly to examine how the desire for transcendence has materialized in my experience and soon remembered another essay read long ago in praise of serendipity. Sometimes transcendence is achieved by a long and hard process and other times it seems to happen simply by accident. Poincaré wrote long ago about a chance thought that struck him while on an outing that united two different branches of mathematics. He took note and a few weeks later wrote it all down. I am sure hard work was previously involved and he just didn't get "lucky."