Spring 2022



Spring 2022

Volume 1, Issue 1




The idea of civilization is relatively new, emerging first in 17th century France but only really taking a more recognizable form in the mid-18th century. To this day, it has never settled into a single concept or definition that most people would agree with. Part of the reason for the lack of consensus is that the civilization embodies a combination of both the material and the social. Karl Marx made the distinction between the physical infrastructure and the spiritual superstructure. Remove the physical and what remains is culture. Remove the social and what remains is infrastructure. Marcel Maus lumped it together as "all that humanity achieved," which works but isn't a terribly useful definition. Charles Segnobos leaned towards the physical when he wrote that "Civilization is a matter of roads, ports and quays," which is to say, infrastructure.

But there is a third way of understanding civilization; as a data structure which is expressed as culture and manifests as infrastructure. Data structures are descrete and static, which is to say digital, but if you add time, they come alive and become dynamic continuous systems, that is analog. Civilization is a pulsating living system that when observed collapses into either material infrastructure, or as a cultural waveform that is constantly in the process of becoming something else.

While infrastructure is an expression of culture, it is largely shaped by geography, climate and the ecological biome that it is a part of. This issue will explore the idea of civilization as infrastructure, and infrastructure as data structure, as a dynamic system, as an intentional ecosystem and as code.




Yellow Brick Letters
ISSN 2789-9012

Chief Editor: Brad Collins <brad@chenla.la>

Events & Communications: Ruben Seja <ruben@chenla.la>

Address: Chenla Institute, Prek Leap National Institute of Agriculture, National Road 6, Sankat Prek Leap, Khan Chroy Changva, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Yellow Brick Letters is published quarterly as part of the Yellow Brick Road Project; a long term exploration of the origins, nature of and future of human civilization from first principles.

Yellow Brick Letters is published by Chenla Institute in partnership with Prek Leap National Institute of Agriculture, Phnom Penh.


All text, images, audio, video and other multimedia is licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license. All code, including code fragments embedded in texts is licensed under the MIT Licence. The full text of each license is provided in the Chenla Dual Licence. Content and code that have been reused from other sources that do not fall under this license can be recognized by a note in their caption or footnote.