NIETZSCHE WARNED US that if we stare too long into the abyss, then we risk having the abyss stare back
into us. However, this disturbing outcome does not seem to be what happened to Ellie Hain. She has been staring deeply into the nihilistic void of hypermodernity and, for some reason, it as made her more optimistic, humane, earnest & strongly motivated to create a more beautiful world.
Ellie's video manifesto EXIT THE VOID: A Movement For Meaning
(which has been circulating thanks to our friends at the Stoa
) is a simple, straightforward discussion of the tragedy of meaningfulness.
We're all together in front of that tragedy. From Nietzsche's famous nihilism
to Vervaeke's meaning crisis
, our transformational communities are aware that human social access to empowering values has become increasingly degraded.
Ellie views this as a predictable misalignment. It results from the fact that sources of meaningful experience are necessarily mediated by containers (e.g. groups, identities, beliefs, practices) which, over time, are easier to measure -- and therefore easier to optimize for -- than the meaningfulness itself.
This problem of losing the baby but keeping the bathwater is ancient but our new technologies are accelerating our social optimization for the mere containers of value.
Reversing this is the goal of the movement that Ellie represents. You can join them, keep tabs on them or donate to them at RebuildingMeaning.org
Here are their initial targets:
(a) Design for Meaning
(b) Orient AI to Sources of Meaning
(c) Cultivate a New Social Vision
Here's the pitch:Imagine a society where everyone gets support to live their most meaningful life. One person gets unbridled creativity; another, service and love; a third confronts the world’s greatest challenges. We believe this is within reach, if we aim for it. And that attempting it will reverse the modern trends toward resignation, cynicism, isolation, and polarization. But it means changing the structure of markets, tech, organizations, and more. Over eight years, we’ve developed the necessary tools. Now, it's time to build.
If that sounds somewhat familiar, it is probably because a lot of us already sense that this stuff is both necessary and urgent.
A new meaningfulness, one way or another, will require a collaborative partnership between art, spirituality, technology, neurophysiology and social systems. Without letting go of our critical eyes, we most likely have to join with people like Ellie in affirming a new earnestness toward goodness, truth, beauty and justice. We require new approaches to technology, economics and metrics that can place the actual sources of meaningful living at the heart of human enterprises. A revivified spirit of art. An attunement to new and ancient psychotechnologies that cultivate the neurochemistry of meaningfulness and the wisdom to optimize for it. Etc.
Prioritize awesomeness.* BONUS *
If you're interested in learning more about the New Meaningfulness, here's
Ellie's comrade Joe Edelman talking about rebuilding social systems around the production of (or access to) meaning.
And here they are reflecting together in a Q&A