Echopraxia, by Watts

Monday January 2, 2023

Here's Watts' follow-up to Blindsight. Blindsight is about consciousness, and Echopraxia largely is too, but it may have been intended to also be about free will (except Watts didn't find it that interesting) and ends up largely more of the same cosmic horror, ret-conning the narrator from Blindsight into the new alien invasion story. It's more fun apocalipsia.


"Consciousness is a scratchpad." (page 64)

“To himself everyone is immortal; he may know that he is going to die, but he can never know he is dead.” (quoting Samuel Butler, page 69)

"Digital physics had reigned supreme since before he’d been born, and its dictums were as incontrovertible as they were absurd. Numbers didn’t just describe reality; numbers were reality, discrete step functions smoothing up across the Planck length into an illusion of substance." (page 223)

Digital physics (though I prefer the name "Information Mechanics") is kind of a fun idea. The Wikipedia page is weak; it doesn't even mention Kantor.

"The idea of God as a virus only really works if you buy into the burgeoning field of digital physics." (page 353)

"Burgeoning" is a stretch, I think. (This bit is from the non-fictional author's statement at the end.)

"The great thing about making yourself the villain is nobody’s likely to contradict you." (page 232)

"the cumbersome bottleneck of the conscious cache." (page 348)

There's lots on "enhanced" humans, and Watts cites Poll results: look who's doping from Nature, which suggested in 2008 that around 20% of scientists take Ritalin or something like it.

There's some strange religiosity, and Watts cites an article about de Botton's Religion for Atheists.