Memory Versus Experience

Friday, June 1st 2012

Experience is usually overridden by memory.

The memories an experience conjures up are often so strong and pervasive that the person having the experience is only has a momentary experience and then spend the rest of the time living in the past.

Over time this effect can be so strong, a person rarely has any new experiences at all. It is all just rearrangements of memories, with a little sugar coating from now to make them seem real.

It's interesting to ponder what would happen if people recalled memories dispassionately. That is - the emotions were acknowledged but were not relived to any extent.

It is partly a semantic construction - the relationship between sensory experience and memory is so fluid that drude dichotomies are not really adequate to task of explaining the situation.

But I seeing memories for what they are - the past - really does help people develop better levels of metametathinking.

Future War

Thursday, May 31st 2012

As machinery takes over war - as drones, automated vehicles and so on - eventually the only casualties of war will be civilians.

Working diligently in remote locations, more and more soldiers will be like office workers home in time for tea.

As my father wittily remarked: When war is declared, people will rush to join the military. It is will be the only safe place to be.

Creativity, Compulsion and Schedules

Wednesday, May 30th 2012

Ever been in a situation where you have been told to do something stupid?

I have. Of course I have!

I could have said: "Don't be stupid! I'm not doing that! That's a stupid decision!"

But, of course, I ended up doing it.

Because I needed to get paid. Because I wanted to please someone. Because the person who paid me wanted to please a person who paid him. And so on down the line.

Everywhere you look in the world of work people are being told to do stupid things. Or dealing with the legacy of stupid things that were done in the past.

I have also told people to do things that turned out to be stupid. I have also probably told people to do things I still don't realise were stupid.

Of course, the "telling" doesn't usually take the form of a drill sergeant yelling instructions.

The "telling" usually takes a subtler form.

The threat underlying "you must do this because ..." is usually implicit. It is in the subtext, hidden between the proverbial lines. But it's always there.

And it is failing.

I have a friend who used to make a joke. He is notorious for scheduling everything. He said:

"I've scheduled some spontaneity for tomorrow".

I wasn't sure he was joking until a hint of a smile appeared on his face.

Erich Fromm in 1976:

In industrial society time rules supreme. The current mode of production demands that every action be exactly 'timed', that not the only the endless assembly line conveyor belt but, in a less crude sense, most of our activities be ruled by time. In addition, time not only is time 'time is money'. The machine must be used maximally; therefore the machine forces its own rhythm upon the worker.

Via the machine, time has become our ruler. Only in our free hours do wee seem to have a certain choice. Yet we usually organize our leisure as we organize our work. Or we rebel against tyrant time by being absolutely lazy. By not doing anything except disobeying time's demands, we have the illusion that we are free, when we are , in fact , only paroled from our time-prison. (To Have or To Be, p. 129)

Time is coordination mechanism. "I'll fo this for you on this day", "I'll pick you up then", etc. But it can often take a stupid, misshapen form in the form of arbitrary schedules.

Every moment's work has a long build up of unconscious activity - some call it procrastination - that looks like laziness. In this sense, I think laziness is a myth. In this period the brain is actually accumulating a lot of information. Eventually it forms coherent ideation that allows for conscious action or deliberation.

How often to people go and do housework or suddenly decide to organise their shed when some other thing is waiting to be done? This is classic. Or how often have to jumped in the shower and then solved a problem you were sitting at your desk contemplating?

Procrastination, relaxation and following your own instincts are necessary components of all creative thinking.

The problem is that imposing a conscious schedule of specific aims on this process actually stops the ideation-forming process taking place. Creativity has its own pace. Force the pace and creativity is lost. A creative organisation - or a life - based on schedules eventually only exist to perpetuate those schedules and loses most of its creativity.

As for measuring things in hours. That is the currency of ignorance. Measuring things in times means you don't understand the topic enough to have any useful ways of measuring what is being done. Instead you resort to something commonly understood but not applicable.

To conclude my rant, a quote from Mr. Zappa (I think):

Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid. (Frank Zappa)

Deferred Decision Paralysis

Tuesday, May 29th 2012

Rather than making a difficult decision now, which would expend mental energy, options are left open to allow decision making later.

"I might need to do this or that. So I'll need *all* the option and ..."

But contemplating that complexity only gets harder with time. Because more decisions are deferred. Building a mountain of open options; the relics of unmade decisions.

Over time, complexity grows.

Eventually the complexity of nested options is so complicated actually understanding the original problem is almost impossible without returning the first principles.

The problem is that returning to first principles threatens the whole structure that has built up, option by option, deferral of decision by deferral of decision.

You have to backtrack through all the decisions, making decisions in retrospect until you get back the original decision that caused the whole mess.

(It's usually easier defer a decision about returning to first principles.)

I call the whole problem Deferred Decision Paralysis.

:-)

Underworld Marketing Guys

Monday, May 28th 2012

Lord Carthagas of the Infinite Void of Doom sat back in his bone chair.

For a moment he rued the Infinite Void. It was sooooo last millennia.

But then a smile crept slowly across his ancient, cadaverous face. His distended nostril sniffed the air with satisfaction. Soon he would be able to afford to redecorate.

Even in the candle-lit, flickering gloom of the antechamber his new creation looked ... magnificent.

Etched on a giant stone tablet there was an ad that would change his destiny.

Necronomobites. Wheat flakes bound in human flesh. 

A delightful early morning repast for necromancers everywhere.

Soon the Old Ones would have to pay attention! No more snubs at End of Millennia wine and cheese gatherings! His Hideous Things(tm) Breakfast Cereal Company would last for all eternity. Just like the Great Old Ones themselves!

Yes, he wasn't afraid to think that!

They would bow to his might.

All would know his name. Carthagas, the Summoner of Great, New Innovative of Wheat-Based Products.

Proper Superheroes

Saturday, May 26th 2012

  • Captain Depleted Uranium Teeth

One of the less successful superheroes.

  • Golden Kneecap Man

He has golden kneecaps.

  • Superintelligent Ant Man

A man who can turn into a superintelligent ant at any moment. (Unfortunately, a super intelligent ant is actually pretty stupid.)

(Thanks to Emlyn for inspiring part of this)

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