Great for Everybody

Friday, July 27th 2012

If its great for most people then it's usually bad for a few.

Bypassing Emotive Statement

Thursday, July 26th 2012

Nearly every argument in favour of something has an emotional basis.

Shadow Creatures

Wednesday, July 25th 2012

The things seems to crawl just outside his main field of vision. Almost subsconsciously his eyes eye swould dart to try and see them. And there would be nothing there. And then, out of the corner of his eye, he'd see another. And another. And so it went on. As if the world was creeping up on him but never revealing itself. It was constant. Unrelenting.

What did all these shadow creatures want? What were they doing? Did other people see them? Was he one of them?

Remembering the Internet

Tuesday, July 24th 2012

One of the great inefficiencies of human existence is that individuals have to constantly relearn things that others have previously learned. Sure, we can store some knowledge in text, video, institutional systems, and so on. But true mastery means sitting down and understanding stuff.

So all these brains sit around learning the same things in parallel. It would be better if each brain had access to the sum of human knowledge and experience and could build on that. Instead of learning something 500,000 people have already learned before them.

Sure, in learning something again a person might vary it slightly and recombine it with other ideas in new ways. There are problems with this too.

But perhaps it would be much better if every person just plugged into an exo-brain that had access to the sum of human knowledge. And then created new ideation based on that.

Oh wait. Isn't that the internet? :-)

That's exobrain version 1. But we still have to take physical action - type, talk, gesture - to work with it. Eventually, as my friend Emlyn says, using the internet will just be like remembering things. The association patterns that make up ideation will be partially composed of artificially generated memories.

And then things will get really interesting. I just wonder what we'll forget in the process ...

Good and Evil

Monday, July 23rd 2012

Evil minions don't think they're evil. They just think they're being practical.

Evil overlords do think they're evil. But they think they have to be evil; because the world is evil. They usually start off rejecting the evil they come to accept. And so they think they act in accordance with their nature.

Evil often thinks its good.

And good is often taught it is evil.

Socially Generated Madness

Saturday, July 21st 2012

What happens when you think about something? Do you categorise it? Describe it? Start thinking in terms of pictures, songs, social situations, goblin Kings, giant Elk, art, sentences? How do you find different ways link things together? What sort of associations in your mind? How are memories recalled?

If you write a song, for instance, it has an emotional character. You could say it's a description of a feeling, of a set of memories. What about a mathematical model? Maths describes things too. Perhaps it describes how water flows or how a network's nodes interrelate.

Description is an inherently social activity. Why bother describing something unless you are describing it for someone?

Yes, that's an exaggeration! Music, art, writing, science, maths, etc, aren't just about description! You could create a perfectly good mathematical model, never mention it to anyone, and get a computer to do something with it. You could write a song you only ever play to yourself.


But remember, the computer was created by others. You probably have to describe the mathematical model in terms of a particular programming language. Also created by others. That music you write may have lyrics, or be in a particular key. So even though there is no direct relationship with other people, there is a circuitous relationship to others via communicable forms such a computer code or musical notation.

So self-expression - even if its just to yourself - takes its ideas from society and is usually descriptive in nature. It often has social origins and social implications. Indeed, describing things to yourself is often a way of simulating the social repercussions of different things you could say or do. Actually expressing yourself is trying out a particular option! :-)

Most people are habituated to all this.

  • people learn by copying others - mimicry;
  • people have to form ideas into communicable form to express them.
  • as a great deal of time is spent dealing with others, a lot of thinking time is spent forming communicable ideas.
  • slowly virtually all ideation ends up in communicable form whether they need to expressed or not.

Thinking in communicable sets of ideas becomes the stuff of private thought as much as it the stuff of communication. For most, communicable thought exists in a substrate of private thought that is also built from communicable ideas. And so there is the sense of:

  • the Private Self - the part you could communicate but don't;
  • and the public self, the part you do communicate.

But there's a problem.

What happen when the communicable ideas don't match what you are experiencing? Perhaps there aren't the words to express what you feel. No way to capture to thing you can imagine. No way to relate what you have seen.

Because the Private Self simulates expression to others, it attempts to do this:

  1. Describe the experience;
  2. prepares different ways of expressing it;
  3. expresses one of them.

If it can't do that then the experience is discarded as absurd, meaningless or lacking in concrete form. And so the Private Self struggles with a roiling ocean of the abstruse and ineffable. The more experiences of the ineffable the mind experiences, the more conflict arises: the Private Self comes does battle with the person's Natural Way of Being. The natural way of being gets classes as atavistic, chaotic, uncontrolled - and if it manifests itself in a socially unacceptable form - madness.

Of course, art can give form to the otherwise ineffable and provide succour to the Private Self. A way of give expressed form to the otherwise incommunicable. And much Art of trying to bring the Private Self closer to the Natural Way of Being. And, usually, incorporate it into the Public Self.

And so socially generated madness is often a conflict between the Natural Way of Being and the way the Private Self has been conditioned to describe itself to itself.

Of course, what I've written here is a classic example of what I'm talking about - a description! And with that paradoxical point I'll go and ponder something I can't write in a blog post :-).

vaguely related reading:

We're at the bottom of page 167.

Click a page number above to go to that page.