Mother and Materialism

Every cloud has a silver lining, they say.  My mother passed a few months after my 24th birthday and I think that I have finally sound something of a silver lining.  My Mother didn’t live long enough so that I could truly be a disappointment to her.  That sounds petty dark.  I think I had disappointed her quite a bit while she was alive, the operative word being think.  Judgements about this or that will fly through various minds at such a statement but there it is, I wrote it.

The thing is, though, that I am only going on her expression as I can’t recall her ever actually saying such a thing to me.  Other’s may have said it but in the strictest of terms that is simply hearsay.  It is a strange thing to rethink and reflect on judgements we believe were made about us for which we have no proof and the weight they carry.  I stopped wishing I could call her and ask her many years ago because I saw no use to it.  IN the best terms it was somewhat masochistic.  It is just a thing that I will never know and I have come to peace with that.  One thing though that I do remember about Mom was her love of numbers.  I don’t mean Math, I mean numbers.  If you could put a number to it then it had to be true.  A strange conclusion for a woman who avoided doing math.

I wonder what she would think about Scientific Materialism and Genetic Determinism?

Maybe it is just the programing on YouTube that I watch or the occasional website I visit but I have been beginning to get the impression of how quickly science, theory, practice and imaging has been progressing.  The idea that our decisions are made deep in our subconscious quite sometime before we are actually conscious of making the choice.  Fantastic.  The understanding of brain physiology and mechanics has gotten to the point where some think that a new form of flawless lie detector is on the verge of beginning created.  Amazing.

The idea of materialism in this sense is the notion that self awareness is an illusion and I can’t say that it is not.  I can barely understand the concept but then  it is an illusion that might make a master illusionist jealous.  As wacky as this will sound this is how I understand this illusion we call consciousness:

Bundles or groups of neurons cluster about memories with some type of causal connection.  This causality isn’t as defined in the sense of the physical sciences for in the mind even an imagined causality is real.  These memory clusters are emotionally weighted, there are many emotions and many degrees of weights.  The driving force is much like a random numbers generator mixed in with electrochemistry (neural transmitters) and buffers (salts in solution).  This provides the energy to the system and scattered all about are logic gates, any one familiar with electronics or even set theory will get this.  So two hemispheres at relative odds with each other both chock full of clusters of memories causally related emotionally weighted, random number generators splashing out a jolt of electric here or there and when a key tipping point is reached the logic gates are employed and TA-DA! Art, Music, political discourse or even violence and of course science.

As silly as this may seem to some there may very well be some truth to it and this truth has to be considered.

It is those damn numbers after all, even the mathematically illiterate put considerable stock in them.  It is one of those acts, strictly on faith that boarders on religious.  Religious as in to repeat on habit, without true understanding.

It could be a wonderful thing in a way.  In the past we killed each other because we belonged to different tribes, different religions, different kingdoms, empires, nations, political ideology, economic ideology, skin color, governmental system or even because the people at the bottom wanted to organize for their own benefit.

Since we are all the same, mindless soulless blobs of polymers none more or less human than the other than all that violence should be coming to an end, maybe even in my lifetime, shouldn’t it?

In all of our scientific excitement and social hubris I can see an old well trodden road clearly before us.  There are other paths but this road is familiar, it feels right and we all know where it leads.  Its course has changed some, there has been recent rerouting and resurfacing and it calls to us.  After all, if all we are is genes and polymers and a few inorganic compounds how bad would it be, I mean on the moral scale, to eliminate those undesirable genes?

Death camps, right?  That isn’t what I am talking about.  I’m talking about snipping here and sticking together there and for those of us who can’t adapt, you know make a nuisance of ourselves then there is medication and for the truly non-rehabilitateable there is prison or maybe a nice island somewhere after they have been properly sterilized.  This is no where near as brutal as past occurrences.  After all it is for the betterment of the human species.  Maybe this is true, maybe it is for a higher quality future so long as we don’t snip away the parts that make us human.  What are those things anyway, those things that make us human?

The issue isn’t intent or motive.  The issue is people, people in power.  IN this case scientific power, the belief that if something runs a foul it can be fixed or simply closing their eyes because they have bills to pay too.  These are the words to watch out for, “You have to trust me, I’m a professional.”  I only had to hear that phrase three times before I stopped asking questions.  Do we really have any choice anyway?

I haven’t made up my mind on the thing.  I don’t really know what to think about it and I am not trying to tell you that you should care one way or the other.  If you want a smoke then smoke, if you want to go to a protest and organize then do so, if you want to game what are you waiting for, other than theft and murder if it feels go to you do it, consenting adults of course.  Whatever it is you choose to do all I ask is that you keep your eyes open and watch your feet.  Otherwise the walk can turn into a climb and before you know it you will be at the very top of a tree from which you can not easily climb down, then your only choice will be to jump.

I don’t know if my mother ever thought something as innocent as an IQ test could lead to something like this.

Just sayin’

 

On Such Stuff that Rattles around between My Ears

I was wandering through my thoughts the other day, reflecting on vague recollections of a book I read many years ago titled who owns what’s in your head, or something a kin to that.  Ownership of a thing I understand but the contents in my head or yours for that matter, are those such things some how the same as a house or a car?

After all, how do you fit a car inside your head?

A thought certainly is the same as a car but does a thought take up space?  What about a novel?  A novel certainly takes up space when it is finished even if it exists in digital form but where does all of that come from?  Does it take up space when it is nothing more than a compilation of thoughts.  Can such a thing be measured?  IQ aside, I mean what does IQ really mean other than a basic measure for an individual abilities to deal with mathematics, language and complex problems (logic), where did the idea of IQ come from?

I look around the studio where I am writing this and I honestly can’t figure out how I perceive it the way that it is.  The space I am observing is much larger than the space my head takes up so is nothing more than a mental trick, some type of an illusion?  I find my self again confronted by Aquinas concept of the Phantasm.  For all I know he borrowed the concept from the Greeks by way of Islam and maybe the Greeks borrowed the idea from the Egyptians, I lack any really understanding of the history of the idea.  Who am  I to judge any way?

Are these carried thoughts in our head along with feelings and creative urges just genetic cargo.  The result of our genes functioning and really nonexistent in the end, that Picasso or Kandinsky is just an illusion and nothing more than a genetic exercise.  When ever I consider Genetic Determinism this is one of the Walls I run into to.  How much of our existence is determined by our genes.  Is our every single creative moment, our thoughts and our feelings all contained in our genes at birth and exercises like this nothing more than genes mindlessly interacting with the environment.  All other things are simply an illusion?

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to answer the question.  Though I don’t think that is a bad thing.  Everyone needs a little wonder in their life.  This keeps existence from become grey and maudlin.

At any Rate have a better than average day.

 

A Sidebar on freedom of Speech

First I feel the\ need to say that I support the second amendment.

That being said, I have a question to ask.  That question is what constitutes Hate speech?

You can define it how ever you like, it makes no difference to me.

So if we as American’s suppress any from of speech because it is hateful what purpose does that serve?

Does it simply serve the elimination of speech that makes us uncomfortable, that feels threatening?

So this is a move to eliminate speech that we, whom ever we maybe, from feeling discomfort from the speaker.

This is censure ship.

Okay

I can deal with that but I have a question, what is the purpose of this action?

If it is to eliminate hate I fear that it will fail.

what THIS DOES IS FORCE HATE INTO PRIVATE GATHERINGS WHERE IT FESTERS, IT IS NOT allowed to be discussed in public where the every day CITIZEN can HAVE A CHANCE TO HEAR THE ARGUMENT AND DECIDE. It allows evil to fester under the skin where only the privileged have the opportunity to speak and there is were the real violent danger lies.

Have a better than average day.

Meta Mumbles from the Past

Iba and I were both surprised to learn that it was during the Chicago’s World Fair of 1893 when the competition between Westinghouse and Edison flooded the place with white light – that 3 new foods where introduced:

Hamburgers

Ice Cream Sandwiches

and

Diet Soda

How American.

Side note:  One day after the fair opened the bank panic of 1893 started.

Source:  Spanish American War Documentary, PBS.  YouTube

Have a better than average day

Side Eye

We select what we see

with careful unexpected ill intention

shapes our expectation

so everything is as it should be

rather than what it could be

it is those haunted strange occurrences

that cause a backward step

hard heartless hesitation

it seems

in the final accounting

we hold others to a longer stick

then we do ourselves

###

There it is all about us

Thou we exist in the ever now

The past lies behind,

filled with those who once were,

some still here,

and those long forgotten.

Forever unknown

silhouetted in the dark

that still

shapes the floor under our feet

Still standing

unknown, unknowing

in a world long dead

Uncomfortable teeth from which we shuttered our fleet fear

Eyes cast fearful forward

uncertain

self inflicted powerlessness

blinded by our own hand

left unable to shape a world made of clay

softened  by the sun.

A thing a child’s hand may shape

Without concern of the following day

We are prisoners of our own doubts

Our certain facts

Our self restraint

Wagging tongues lacking tact

Causing one to prefer

the critics corner

rather than risk the stage.

 

 

Another Adjustment

The next big adjustment I want to try and discuss is getting use to the idea that I couldn’t trust my senses, principally seeing and hearing but to a much lesser degree sense of smell and touch.

When a Mental Health Professional states to some one like myself that what they are seeing or feeling is not real, they, the Professional, don’t seem to understand what a profound task they are asking us to undertake.  People don’t generally question their senses.  As the old statement goes, seeing is believing.  Many of the Schizophrenics I have been able to talk to on the subject have made it clear to me that eventually they learn to play a long.  Imagine for a moment that some one told you that your family was not real, that they were a hallucination and, just for the sake of argument, you love your family, they were a vital part of your life, how would you react?  I am beginning to think that this contributes to the problem of medication compliance.  The is something about the hallucinations and the world they help the sufferer to create that is seductive.  Chronic sufferers have a hard time reentering the mainstream simply because they lack a certain social understanding leaving them feeling awkward.  Suddenly they crave that world they knew so well.  The regular world is an alien land and they are way behind the curve.

The second issue with the problem of accepting that one cannot trust their own senses is that a hallucination is so much more than just an image or a sound.  There is a complex set of other physical sensations that go along with them.  I remember digging out my Abnormal Psych text book to look up physiological phenomena that accompany mental illness.  Top of the list was Hypertension, somewhere else on the list I found Diabetes but no where did I find a discussion of these other sensations.  If the sufferer perceives a thing that is terrifying then their heart rate increases, the respiration increases, muscles tense and a liberal dose of adrenaline is dumped into their blood stream.  For people who lack any real awareness of their body this may result in nothing other than a panic attack.  On the other hand if they perceive a thing that is loved and is believed to love back they’ll get a very different set of feelings almost opposite of the last description.  They may even be a scent involved or a very rare touch.  In both cases these reactions are either instinctive, emotional or both.

I had a strange advantage, again I must pay tribute at least in word to abnormal Psych which I took my sophomore year.  I was already in a state of doubting my senses, particularly eyes, ears and touch.  I don’t think this was good for me in the long run as my Major at the time was Physics and Chemistry.  I think it might have promoted the eventual breakdown.  On the other hand it might have given me the tools to deal with this very issue.  The whole thing sounds crazy.  I could tell when I was Hallucinating and when I wasn’t.  I remember describing it to Meta like this:

Imagine that you are looking at a movie screen.  There are two movies playing on that single screen at the same time.  One film is black and white and it is a comedy/mystery and the other film is science fiction and in color.  Both sound tracks are playing at the same time and at the same volume.  One film is reality and the other film is not.  In time, a human with enough concentration and patience will be able to tell one from the other, in parts.

The weird thing about this is even though I could tell and know that a thing I was experiencing was not real my body still reacted as though it was.  This has taken a toll on me.

Also when I am away from familiar surroundings I must spend extra energy reality testing, some thing that Meta often helps me with, but often I carry out a silent survey of the area.  This is an effort to catch anything unreal before it creeps into the world.  Visual experiences creep into the viewers world generally from the side of the eye or the corners of the room and sneak up on you, at least that has been my experience.  If I catch the experience early I can’t circumvent the worst of the physical reactions.  Plus I don’t always see the people I am interacting with true. This requires a certain level of concentration and at the same time a social awareness to void appearing “creepy.”  The whole exercise is quite exhausting.

I have been trying to discuss this with the various individuals I work with through the clinic but they don’t seem much interested.  I can assume that their are many different reasons for this most of which are not unkind nor untoward.  For some reason I feel that it needs to be out in the world so I write it here.  Maybe some one can get some use out of it or maybe I am just crazy.

Either way, have a better than average day.