Infinite-regress

Entry 568: The Octanti

Home World: Now part of the Borg Collective

Occupation: Borg Survivors of the week

First Appearance: “Infinite Regress” (VOY, 1998)

Summary: These humanoids are one of the many species that had their homeworld and culture assimilated by the Borg. Designated Species 6339, only a handful of unassimilated Octanti starships remain in the Delta Quadrant after their homeworld, culture, and technology were swallowed whole by the collective in 2375. Octanti vessels are notoriously well-armed, one encountered by USS Voyager had 22 phaser cannons on her aft section alone. The Octanti, like most beings who have survived having their civilization assimilated by the Collective, bear a deep-seated loathing towards the Borg. Their greatest weapon against the cybernetic race is a synthetic pathogen designed to attack the programs in a Borg cube’s main vinculum. The pathogen allows seemingly randomized individual personalities that had been assimilated by the Borg to begin reasserting themselves over any and all Borg drones within range of the vinculum. The result was utter psychological chaos, enough to drive the affected Borg to self-destruction. They hoped that any Borg vessels that came to investigate would be similarly affected.

While their goals were not without merit, they were totally ruthless in their quest to damage and destroy as many Borg as possible. Consequently, they had little patience or sympathy with any complications in their plans. They would destroy even innocents that refused to comply with their orders, and even liberated drones would be adversely affected by the pathogen.

God's God
  • Peter: ...you don't believe in a creator? Do you think all of this came from nothing? All this is just an accident?
  • Megan: I believe in the creator's Creator.
  • Peter: What?
  • Megan: Yeah... don't you believe in God's God?
  • Peter: What are you talking about?
  • Megan: Do you think God came from nothing? An omnipotent intelligent designer capable of creating a universe and life just appearing out of nowhere, by accident? That would be like a tornado blowing through a junk yard and assembling a 747.
  • Peter: I see what you did there.
  • Megan: And then there's God's God's God...

Those who claim for themselves to judge the truth are bound to possess a criterion of truth. This criterion, then, either is without a judge’s approval or has been approved. But if it is without approval, whence comes it that it is truthworthy? For no matter of dispute is to be trusted without judging. And, if it has been approved, that which approves it, in turn, either has been approved or has not been approved, and so on ad infinitum.


— Sextus Empiricus, Against the Logicians, trans. R.G. Bury, Loeb edn, W. Heinemann, London, 1935 p. 179

AN INFINITE REGRESS

Who cut the pulmonary vein?
Where does the blood go when it’s stale?
Wherever the moonlight flitters to escape your shadow, your degrading flesh?
Is that what the tragedy escorts us to?
A resuscitation of moths, a corpse road?

What happens to the bodies the lake collects during unfaithful
summers when our hearts, like rotten shrubs, well up to the surface?
Is there a method to the madness? 
Where does the attrition begin, and where does it end? 
In the wasteland of your throat? Behind the petal of your ear?
Does an end even exist? 

We sit back, knees chafed & heady from perversions of sleep, 
tongue-tied, head-locked, thunderstruck & devoid, 
we swallow the street that which, never ends. Is it an
accident, a fallacy of the dead? A toppled sky
with no reason and no rhyme? Is it a lesson?
What does it teach us?

3

Despite it apparently being a fairly popular reference, I had never heard the phrase “Turtles All the Way Down” and was immediately intrigued by this as the title of John’s new book.

Apparently it is thought to have originated from Hinduism and references infinite regress and the phenomena of beginnings and endings. Definitely an interesting concept that will certainly allow for metaphorical resonance in the story.

Garfinkel’s most important contribution is to show that humans … construct mundane social order by consistently using practices to avoid recognizing how arbitrarily social order is actually put together. We keep up conventions, not because we believe in them, but because we studiously avoid questioning them. Garfinkel demonstrated this most dramatically in his breaching experiments, in which he forced people into situations that caused them to recognize indexicality (i.e., that they rely on tacit acceptance of what things mean contextually) and reflexivity (that there are infinite regresses of justifying one’s interpretations). Interestingly enough, the reactions of his subjects were always intensely emotional. Usually it was an emotional outburst: becoming nervous and jittery, shaken, displaying anxiety and sometimes shock (Garfinkel 1967, 44, 221–26) Sometimes it was depression, bewilderment, or anger at having been put in a situation where they constructed a reality they later discovered to be false. In short, when people have to recognize that they are tacitly constructing their social worlds, and in an arbitrary and conventional way, rather than simply reacting to a world that is objectively there, they show intense negative emotions.
— 

Randall Collins, Interaction Ritual Chains (pp. 103-104)

the reference is to Garfinkel’s book Studies in Ethnomethodology