Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Troubleshooting Reality; A Very Preliminary Review of *Sentience: The Invention of Consciousness* by way of *A General Theory of Love*

I'm a trouble-shooter. I've proven myself quite good at troubleshooting things that I don't necessarily know as much about as others who aren't so good at it. I proved myself good at computer and network troubleshooting, even though my technical knowledge was far deficient from that of many of my colleagues. I'm good at trouble-shooting engines, even lacking very refined design and engineering skills. 

Who knows? Even though my grip on reality may not be as good as yours, I'll bet I'm better at troubleshooting it. You know, I spend my time fixing things. I try to understand things to the extent that I must, to be able to troubleshoot and fix them. I almost always come away with a better understanding by the time whatever I'm working on is fixed. But I don't really remember a time when I thought that I completely understood what I was working on. 

Most recently, I've been troubleshooting the strange electrical situation on my recently rebuilt sailboat. It's a primitive arrangement, meaning pre-digital, meaning pre-WWII tech. The Internet is now full of instruction on such things, mostly among antique motoring fanatics. It is really difficult to parse the valid part from all the instructions, each of which lacks the kind of narrative completeness I require.

At great pain to body and mind, I've gotten this 50 year old single cylinder two-stroke engine to run quite well. Just as I had the old Martin (pressure cooker company) outboard when I was a kid. This sailboat engine is also sparked by a magneto, is easily started by hand, and will even power rudimentary electrics without a battery.

So, to sail the boat I only use the battery to start the engine. For convenience sake. Without even bothering to charge the battery from the dock power, I sailed half the season with a battery read of 12.4 volts. I assumed that the battery was old and weak, and anyhow it worked fine and I talked myself into believing that the starter/generator was vaguely recharging the battery while I motored out. There is also a very small solar pad.

Eventually, I bought a voltmeter to plug into the cigarette-lighter-style 12 v receptacles I placed here and there for iPhoney passengers. That helped me to realize that there was no charging happening, either by motor or by sun, though the tiny solar panel helped to hold the voltage where left it, once I realized I should actually charge the battery now and then.

So having fixed all the little leaks, and having perfected the carb and points and mast wiring and electrics, and all the lights, I turned my attention to this little non-problem of generation. After many trips out and back along a long walk to the boat, to try another conjecture with yet another gizmo, the walk being as far as it is possible to be from the gate of this massive marina, I finally understand what is wrong and what to do about it. 

It is a pleasure to me when I finally get to a totality of how the things I work on work. That's what solving a problem feels like. It feels very different from making something new. Related for sure, but different. All the otherwise disconnected symptoms start to match up and then you know what to do to fix the overall. Ignoring all the irrelevant stuff which might be working poorly or fine but isn't germane to the problem at hand. I'm just not that good at new. I fall for things as they are more than as I wish that they were. Plus new is way expensive anymore,

I am persistent to a fault. And I am really cheap; not by choice, but by necessity. I am motivated. Having money to spend feels like cheating. Indeed, I argue that to get money you have to cheat, but that would be a different essay.

In my experience of troubleshooting, hearing someone express certainty about what's wrong or what to do invites an instant assessment of how grounded that certainty is. If it doesn't feel grounded, then I'm pretty sure that the certainty will be an obstacle and not a help to my troubleshooting. Which is to say that misplaced certainty will prevent my seeing of the actual problem. Grounded certainty is much more welcome, often accompanied by an "aha" from me, or if not, by a quick explanation from the certain party. Indeed my welcome of grounded certainty is grounded itself on the basis of many such previous explanations. That person has become my teacher.

There aren't many teachers on the Internet. Well, OK, there are plenty, but one sure does have to wade through a lot of dross to find them. There used to be more, back in the days of newsgroups. Things degenerate.

So anyhow, maybe I have a right to troubleshoot even philosophy or epistemology or consciousness study even though I might barely know how to define those disciplines. 

Like, OK, when Nicholas Humphrey is going down a track that humans are conscious in ways that other creatures aren't, I find that initially problematical. That's because we're (me and Humphrey) just not using "conscious" in the same way. Consciousness to me is more-or-less what Buddhists mean when they say sentient (in translation). Humphrey's usage for sensation and perception is almost the opposite of my usage. And he never even mentions Julian Jaynes, haha!

Of course I can't know if he uses sentience as he does because he enjoys slamming the benighted Buddhists, or if that's the received and accepted term of art in his field. He announces that he diverges from many who might be assumed to be his colleagues. I'll have to try to find out.

But it does seem as though his usage for consciousness is quite different from mine. I consider lizards to be conscious. And sentient. I'll have to think of a word to describe what humans are. Why can't sapient do? Well, I guess it's not so provocative. To say that humans have invented sapience feels like a trite redundancy. And anyhow, why use the word invent unless you wish to be provocative.

You will never prove to me that there was a Sir Bowline who invented a knot by that name. Knots are in a category of unnatural things which never were invented. They come as close to an embodiment of a Platonic "form" as I can imagine, except that embodiments are precisely not forms in that sense.

Now I wrote recently of discovering books that have stood unread upon my ever-shifting bookshelves. I've had Gregory Bateson there since forever ago. Even or especially knowing that I felt affinity for his thinking, I've left his Steps to an Ecology of Mind untouched for decades. It has sat there as a kind of burden. Like I was never ready for it.

I was reminded of Bateson by way of this Sentience book, who mentions Bateson's slightly more recent book Mind and Nature, which I've now retrieved hard-copy from the library. Cheap, see?

Soulmate. Bateson reminds me that the real is the Platonic ideal. All the rest is perceptual conjecture. Now, I'm no Platonist and certainly no idealist (though Plato's Republic was indeed my first real read. First loves . . .) but there is an essential quality there, now long lost. 

So, what's the difference between a circle and a knot, I wonder. Well, circle refers to an abstraction - a stationary abstraction - and a knot to an actual instance of a procedural form or norm that also happens to work; in just the way that a wheel works, but is not a circle. Procedures are narrative, while forms are eternal, just because forms are abstract. A wheel and a knot both have a temporal and earthly history, Ideas are eternal.

In Humphrey's language, I wonder if perceptions are abstractions from sensation, or if they are procedural and narrative. If they are, then to call them perceptions is inevitably misleading. A photon impinging upon a retina is a perception, precisely analogous to an instrument reading used by a scientist. The reading then becomes part of some narrative understanding or other, which we hope will become useful. 

I rather doubt that much of anything is ever invented so much as discovered. Invention being the proper province of capitalist economics. You find it first; you take credit and get a temporary monopoly on usage, and you brag that you invented it. The actual invention is made by collective resolution, available nearly simultaneously to anyone equipped to interpret newly possible narrative realities.

Nothing springs from the mind, while the mind itself is sprung from all society in which one is invested. So, OK, yes, mind is a manifestation of the collective (if not quite an invention), but not ex-nihilo. And I suppose mindlessness is a function of dividing the social from actual social interaction, which is what communications technology does, which inevitably gives us the mindlessness of the cult of MAGA. For instance.

The mind may apprehend a circle, which is not the same as feeling one.

Though the artist themself might believe they do, art doesn't start with an idea. It starts with an interaction. And then appears something which sounds or looks or feels right for that particular person at that particular time. Artists are makers, but not inventors. I declare! Tools and a medium and experience. Talent, sure. And something new that was never there before. There is no progress to it. 

The "I" in us is an artifact. Art not invention. 

One of the most important, if not the biggest, puzzles that I face now involves wondering why I am so newly clueless about sailing. I felt as one with the wooden boat that I rebuilt in my extreme youth. It was stunningly simple, and though ever the loner, I was much more social then. 

I learned itinerantly how to accomplish the repairs I made, and the sailing of that boat was utterly transparent. No winches, no complex improvements, just basics that I could see and feel. No money, so I restitched the sails and replaced much wood, re-bedded the engine, and sailed for twenty five years in any and all conditions.

Now I'm chicken and dumb. What I can't figure out is whether this is a function of age-related frailty in body and mind, or if it is the actual wisdom of knowing versus thinking that I know. As in I have much more experience of fucking up and nearly eating shit (as my daughter calls it) than I once did. 

The old boat had the same electrical system as the newer old boat, but I never plumbed it because I didn't have to. In those days you could get your starter/generator locally rewound, which I did, though for the life of me I can't remember why I had that done. Whatever the problem was, rewinding fixed it.

This time, with a lot more theoretical understanding than I had then, in part of because of the Internet, I know that it's not the motor. It's the voltage regulator. I'm pretty sure I didn't know what that was way back then. Knowledge can make a person wary. Seem old.

Progress is a function of problem solving. Not art. An artist might troubleshoot the medium and the tools, though not to make something better. Art is more transformative than that. You end up with something more like a knot than a platonic realization of some idea. The knot was always there, in some sense, as you discovered it.

To me "sensations" are the directly felt responses to what Humphrey and possibly all philosophers call qualia, which are, to me, precisely what cannot be perceived. Apparently to him, perceptions are the indirect or redirected signals from our perceptual apparatus, such that "sweetness" is a perception where to me it's a sensation. 

And in this other book that I'm reading in tandem, A General Theory of Love Thomas Lewis (very properly confused with Lewis Thomas) starts out with what he considers to be the obvious fact that whatever love is, it's in the brain. Thereby cementing the, to me, poor assumption that the mind is all "in" the brain. His certainty immediately precludes other avenues for troubleshooting. 

Tant pis! I can't trust him, though I find extremely useful nearly all that he says about love and about emotion.

In any case, I find the Love book incredibly useful, and ultimately, mostly right. Now Humphrey lands on what I would call a description of the conscious self as derived from narrative social interactions. We are each teachers to each other. It is immensely pleasurable to watch my granddaughter ever so slowly discovering herself. I know that she is not yet, but almost certainly will be, fully conscious as a human being. 

And the narrative construction of the self gives me great hope that despite my existence in the midst of what I might call humanity's most critical existential crisis of all time, we shall effectuate a kind of collective reconfiguration once we identify what is wrong with our collective narrative about reality.

I present here a concise-ish list of misconceptions, so as not to be coy about it:

  • The mind is not, in almost any way, coterminous with the brain.
  • Just because erasing the brain erases the "I" doesn't mean that the narratively constructed artistic self is instantly gone.
  • What is gone is sensation. The responsive "I"
  • To be conscious, consciousness - right down to lizard consciousness - participates in all other life on the planet (and perhaps beyond). Certainly no "I", but also no living thing can exist without the totality of life which came before along with an expectation that the next moment will be similar to the last, meaning that life will persist.
  • The totality of life is not only our genetic heritage, but also our companion living creatures which create the environment which creates us.
  • Intelligence is not severable from emotion.
  • Emotion is directly felt by the mind, no intelligence required.
  • Sensation is also directly felt (what Humphrey misleadingly calls "perception"), but at the remove of preconscious narration. 
  • Humphrey's phenomenal consciousness - the feeling of qualia - is put together by mind's narrative skill.
  • Narration is an ordering in time of what I call "perception" but which Humphrey misleadingly calls sensation.
  • Perceptions are not ordered in time by themselves. Indeed, they could not be. The mind is what does that. Many different perceptions from multiple different senses form a felt "thing" in the mind. Those perceptions don't come to mind in ordered fashion.
  • Artificial so-called intelligence overlaps human intelligence only in the way an encyclopedia might. (The map is not the geography)
  • Emotion is not an epiphenomenon of the brain's function any more than sensation is.
  • Emotion is relational, as is all physical reality, where emotion is both prior to and subsequent to all physical interactions.
  • Physical interactions are perceptual, which also means that forces are exchanged.
  • Emotions may initiate physical interactions, or perhaps they always do.
  • Free will is an emotional and not a physiological fact.
  • Precognition is a recognition of what could be, never what will be.
  • What will be requires an act of will
  • Ownership of actions and decisions always follows after the action or decision was made.,
  • The "I" is a very high order abstraction, always late to the game.
  • Congruence between self-centered prediction and the actual is the basis for the (narrative!) construction of an "I"
  • Feeling ones own "I" happens as an analog to feeling sensations (as a perceptual analog to what Humphrey calls "perception" of qualia, or phenomenal consciousness).
  • This "I" has always been there (think about it)
  • Similarly, emotions are directly felt by the mind in ways that sensations are felt - subsequent to what I call perception. (Who hasn't mistaken hot for cold, for example, based on the mind's narrative errors? Just like I might mistake what I did with the engine on my sailboat just the other day, which I corrected by a modification to my narrative.)
  • Indeed, the mind is mostly composed of felt emotions toward the world all around.
  • This is relational without the forces involved in perception
  • Memory is "housed" in our environment, and prompts our narrative recall. 
  • There are no internal representations residing in our brains. We recall the real.
  • Our brain is a mediator, not an originator, among perceptual and conceptual reality.
  • An artificial brain is quite simply a contradiction in terms.
  • Or else there be no nature
  • Time is a construct of all life. A conspiracy of will, if you will, but not of things as such.
  • God wills forward in time 
  • There is God and always has been
  • There is no lazier word than God
  • We shall soon discover that to participate in the future is far more entertaining than to watch narratives on some screen, no matter how exciting those are. Our entertainments are analogous to blindsight (sight without the "I" of seeing)
  • Capitalism self-destructs upon the realization that the individualism which drives it is the prime fiction. Hurrah!
  • Driving cars, fascinating and wonderful at the outset, shall suddenly become as boring as entertainments projected onto two-dimensional screens.
  • Let us all sail into our future. The winds of reality shall always overwhelm us if and as we challenge them.
So the good news is that since our thoughts are not our own, the collective reconfiguration of those thoughts can happen in a relative instant. Which might be the moral equivalent to God coming down to earth (as distinguished from the childish fantasy that some wise teacher will appear, to tell us what to do).

The big trouble which needs to be shot is trust. Most of the astounding bounty we've collectively gotten from oil now defines the trust (im)balance which desperately needs to be improved upon. It is certainly not clear to me in which direction that balance might plummet or soar. What is clear is that we are at a tipping point.

Well, aren't we always?

Our politics and our economic reality now reward not only narcissistic me-ism, but practically demand it. Instead of debating political lines, we might be better off focusing on some basics: Getting the money and ad-copy out. Hiring for trust as much as for competence. But not forgetting the competence.

It's not that hard for me to see why those who have supported Trump mistrust the politics of those whose rhetoric they either don't understand, or feel is a front for some sort of elaborate and self-serving scam. In whose pockets does this politician live?

I am inundated on a daily or hourly or often minute-by-minute basis by China-originated email and text scams, based on their patriotic deconstruction of our surveillance capitalism. That cannot be the basis for war. It is a call for education and a prod for unity. But it sure feels like they - the artificially intelligent "they" - know exactly what I'm doing on the Internet, and so can prey on me as though they read my mind. There is no better definition for asshole, innocent though the human bit-players are.

Trump represents, of course, a cult. But cult is almost built-in to our global society now. There are no other convincing arguments on offer. We demand a personality that's bigger than life. What we need are more quiet amateurs, who know a lot about everything, but not terribly much about anything in particular. We need leaders who know which experts to trust, not which wannabe personalities will support the one in the middle. 

We need people who will paint and repair our houses rather than people on Tik Tok pandering their personalities.

Well, so I'm alone here. But I have practiced that all my life, and so it not only doesn't bother me, I would be terrified to be recognized. I lack the skill. I am persistent but slow in my trouble-shooting. I am proud, yes, of my accomplishments. A full life, well lived.

But know this: Perceptual and conceptual reality both lead to feeling (which the vehicle and which the tenor of that metaphor? Which is the real feel?), and all feeling is direct, mediated though it may be among nerves and words and cultural imperatives. The brain may be our personal mediator of feelings, but all of what we know exists outside the brain. Ideas, our memories, our love interests, our narrative reality. None of those things belong to any particular "I". 

I am what I am, says Popeye the sailor man. I am so glad that Chinese literature isn't built on metaphor as the main figure. I would otherwise have to prioritize emotion over sensation. Or is it the other way around? A rose by any other name. An asshole is always an asshole. A prick by a rose not so sweet. Time moves forward but metaphorically and not for real, says Plato. 

Basta! Till next time.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

My Poor Bookshelves - an ode to Annie Dillard - an Apology

Oppenheimer's quote - I am become death - is become really well-known now. And I suppose we all know how he was crowded out by the burgeoning military industrial complex, which desperately needed its mitts on the formula. We are become wealth. And what's a little red-baiting up against our power now, eh? We have been mindlessly strategic with our oil. We keep the nuclear energy in check.

When she was very young, my daughter claims to have counted the books on my shelves, and they were legion. Over ten thousand, she told me. They lined the walls of the hyper-economical apartment they grew up in, the girls and the books, on my side of the family. It was a large and super airy flat - meaning that it cost more to heat in Buffalo's winters than mansions did. Like heating a tent. Maybe it helped, maybe it hurt, that every wall was lined with books.

They were mostly stackable legal bookshelves, salvaged from the fire which drowned Dad's leather-bound legal volumes, up near the top of the Prudential building. JFK-like, conspiracy theories suggest the burning was meant for the top floor, where Attica papers were housed. Where did I read that? Whatever. I was horrified by the news, riding a subway in New York.

There were also bookshelves that I'd made, up from New Haven probably, or maybe custom made for the apartment. Can't remember, I don't remember them in my marriage house. Not sure. I know they were post-boat because I remember using left-over silicon bronze ring nails for the Philipine mahogany back panel. Back when wood and books both were cheap, and I could fill and build and fill my shelves.

The great culling happened when I drove my little over-driven VW Passat wagon out to California, leaving my ghost behind in that apartment. A shell of nearly all the books I'd read to date, which included the cliched and the insipid from high-school through itinerant department hopping in college. But also various computers and electronics paraphernalia, three electric hair clippers, including the one my Dad had used on all of us, I think. No need for those ever since. Pots and pans and silverware. All the furniture I had up to then. Some of it very nice. Books carted out and back to the middle of nowhere, which was my home-base for driving a couple thousand miles a week to do a one-man minstrel show with computers for 80+ Catholic Charities addresses across fifteen counties. Blah blah.

I culled my shelves just twice. Once for carload. Once over a Christmas visit, to be sent by Greyhound which was by far the cheapest way to ship so many heavy boxes, still costing more than it would to ship myself - about the same weight. Who can understand our economy? They made it, the books did, and probably busted the relationship which took me there and overstuffed her house with Ikea shelves. Which had names, the shelves did. Marketing names.

Mostly, I left behind the easily replaced pulpy school-time books. I kept those I thought that I could never replace. But lost forever were that stamp collection, the comic book collection that I'd told my daughter would pay for her college. And maybe they would have. Oh, what a person will do for love!

So many books I miss, because my memory can't know what I ever did with them. And so many books that I never did read, which followed me around. Dead weight. The detritus of those rare moments in a bookstore while actually earning money up against the mountains of love-debt I kept piling up; those moments when I talked myself into actually buying books. Randomly, really. It was like a chocoholic buying top-shelf and regretting it. 

Well just the other day, after passing through a dry spell with reading 'cause of a new/old sailboat. Hatches all around, deck balsa, crampy engine work, cranky rig, all good now she sails wonderfully and I have sudden time to read but don't know what to read and I see a clutch of books from and by Annie Dillard which I've towed around the country and have never read.

They have insect droppings or mold spots on the page's edges, and so I open A Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek which is not the sort of chocolate that I typically indulge, in borrowings from the library. Surrounded still by unread books, I'm never ready for the burden of the ones I'd bought indulgently. And true to form, this book reads so very beautifully I put it down by page 6, vaguely wondering did I have Encounters with Chinese Writers on my shelves as well?

I did!

All these years I'd thought - vaguely, because I'd never opened the book - that this book would describe Dillard's encounters with the Chinese classical poets whose study I'd abandoned. Unread volumes of classical Chinese lit I have, to, excel most American college libraries. All that indulgence weighed me down. Inhibited my reading. Dillard was weighty, somehow, maybe Pulitzer-related, in my mind, and that had inhibited me.

Somehow all the unread books that I spent real money on feel like a burden. Something I always should but never quite want to do. Still, I have experienced unnatural joy on those occasions that I get desperate. Homo Ludens. Stephen Owen's poetics. A bit of Virginia Woolf. Even Foucault v. Chomsky.

No, anyhow, the Encounters book was a breezy journalistic read about her travels in China and in the US as a cross-cultural delegate meeting with Chinese counterparts, along with OMG Allen Ginsburg, who, thanks to Joe Gould's Teeth I finally think I might know. Go figure! I saw him with squeeze box in Boulder once, hamming as a Buddhist.

But Dillard's journalism is peer with Jill Lepore. It was that brilliant, and so easily recognized from and by my own encounters with Chinese writers of whatever kind from whatever century up unto the very present where we all now are become death, destroyer of worlds.

Is the New Yorker really that good? That Ivy League? Hey, I'm Ivy League, though not the native son. Oh wait, I am! Genetic drift toward degeneracy, I suppose. No, I am rescued. Dillard has no connection to the New Yorker at all. Phew.

May it be that I shall reopen Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek. May not be. I've waited this long. But maybe.

My trouble is simple. 

I started life as an engineer. And then I lost faith. Faith in all dimensions. And then, to my surprise and astonishment, I found faith. But I never learned to write. 'Cause of laziness, I think. I've travelled the world some, and this nation a lot, but I never learned to translate any of what I've learned and what I know into writing. I lack the magic of that particular transmutation of mind to matter.

So I spout love this and love that because that's how lazy I am. And when you do that - spout love, unless you're Nicholas Sparks maybe, people just simply turn off. Like you're another religious spiritualist here's how we save mankind altogether now sort of person. They turn you off in an instant, people do. 

It turns out that I've restarted my boat life, and also that I've restarted my bookshelf building life. I don't have any photos that I know of for the original 'hang-your-shelf' in New Haven, so called by my bike-mechanic colleague there. It was plain pine planks with holes drilled through which hemp rope was strung. Hung from the hanger molding that all transient student housing has in college towns and in dormitories. 

Those shelves astonishingly held the bulk of my lightweight paperback literature. Nowadays I'd probably lose sleep expecting something to give suddenly in dark of night, but it never did. 

I have been that graced by luck. Even when my old wooden sailboat blew or cracked apart it never seemed disastrous. Now I know too much. Like, I know that love is a cosmic force. But I can't live to tell about it because it's too complicated and too simple both. Like you need to understand and then move beyond a certain grade of particle physics. You have to do a little bit of DNA and accept that maybe the religious and psychologic proponents of a kind of magic synchronicity aren't all wrong. 

And then all questions are answered. And then you're just plain all alone with the knowledge if you aren't a self-promoter and you can't write. This, the pain of living. 

So here I am building a better mousetrap and there is no beaten path to my door. Thoreau was so wrong in the first place! And way better at self-promotion. (I know this guy in China who calls himself Thoreau, so very much does he love him) You have to want people to read you, and I just don't care if people read me. I just want them to know. I want you to know. Love is all there is.

Click! Move on.

But wait. Please wait. Yes sure, this all has some commonality with religion, but still more with science. And for either as for all one needs a level of self-promotion. I'm an abnegator of myself. I want only to hide. 

And every single time I make a post I feel like I'm walking out of the house naked. It's hard. 

But you know in your very soul that life, the universe and everything is not reducible to cause and effect. You know that your entire life is a complex web of synchronicities, which is, of course, easy to say if you're as loaded with social capital as I am. Mostly fate feels lousy for most of us. 

Do I believe that you can make your own luck? Nope, no way no how. If you're a devoted capitalist though, you're pretty much required to believe that you can. You call it merit, you call it hard work, but whatever you call it boils down basically to luck.

Me, I've squandered my luck. I don't make any hay with what I've got. I think I'd feel guilty if I did, although I have pandered love into something kind of if not quite prosperity exactly, which makes a prosperity look-alike.

And I'm not really a hater of capitalism any more than I'm a hater of nature in nature's tooth and claw. But it is barbaric, capitalism is. Looking around the world these days, I don't see that civilization, especially what we call "modern" civilization has moved very far at all from basic barbarism. So very few live by love and give back their luck.

Or maybe I'm wrong. Googoo Doll Robby Takac here in Buffalo runs this massive Music is Art festival, which I always go to for just a hot minute so I can be reminded of my fundamental aloneness. All one in the world. It's just not seemly to dance alone, and so I leave as expeditiously as I arrive. Quick tour and out. Like life, right?

Nick Sparks gives out money in New Bern, which I spent some time in without knowing he lived there. You can find these things out in Wikipedia whenever you want to. But nobody gives out so much money that they won't or don't keep living the life you wished that you could live. Not really ever.

But we're in a bind. We're played out as a species, having fouled our nest big time. We're being called on to display a kind of anti-capitalistic love. Meaning give up our cars, gas or electric. Give up planes. Give up plastic packaging of almost any sort. Get rid of privatized medicine and healthcare of every sort as well, and private transport of any sort, and private utilities, and give up private yachts bigger than you can maintain yourself (I have to exempt myself from some loss of privilege, right?).

None of these things is hard, meaning none creates hardship. Maybe we worry that it would tank the economy, but as with Covid we'll be doing it when the emergency becomes obvious. Why not do it ahead of time to mitigate the inevitable emergency?

Well, because it's really really hard to believe that we have no choice in the matter. And guess what? We have no choice in the matter. Collectively, I mean. We don't. Talk about making your own fate!

Now if only people would read the important stuff, or learn the important stuff. Like wouldn't people change if they scientifically knew that love is a cosmic force? Well, have I changed? Nope. I'm still compelled to display my intelligence and tell people where they're wrong about stuff, always hoping that I'll find the one who really understands and always convincing myself that I'm the only one who understands, but not being able to convince a single other soul. 

Crank! The very definition of sick crank. 

If I'm not going to write it I should at least live it. I won't find it in any book, though I've tried and tried. It's just not there. Or it's all there in all of them, which reduces all the worth of writing to one Big Theme which would be a simple shame.

But it should make a difference to know that love is truly a cosmic "force." It makes a difference to true believers in, say, Christ, to the extent that they devote themselves to doing what some man tells them to do, which ends up as often as not in doing really hateful things. Like banning womens' ownership of themselves. Sheesh.

Most of my reading though is toward the goal of proving myself wrong. It isn't working. I'm not wrong. And so I think this reading is a kind of noble activity because, who knows, I might actually change a few minds.

So let's go down a different rabbit hole for a minute. I read today that Google and Facebook have held back on the kind of facial recognition software which China's party statle deploys willy nillly to tell you "hey Joe, you just jaywalked and we're dinging your social goodness score" for all the world to see. 

But you know, Facebook and Google know that to out you all the time and everywhere in public would utterly undermine the economic sea whose climate they control. They and all of us depend on a fabulously elaborate mythology of hyper individualism. It is practically a state religion here, that we can't have some kind of government ownership of citizen identities, even though we already have it. We already use it to catch a thief. But wouldn't it be nice if all email were properly identified.

Like I get endless emails now, originating in China for certain, where they have decoded my cookie trail such that if I even breath an interest or a shopping destination I get an email which is so good a spoof that both Google and Microsoft in their AI brilliance, think the email belongs in my priority inbox. They fake some kind of personal connection. It's getting so I waste as much time as spam filters save me just deleting the stuff before opening it.

I know it's illegal over her to use the identity of actual people in targeting them, but it's a matter of anti-Western civic pride over there. Just like it's illegal to ban firearms, because to do so, maybe, would be to compromise our hyper individualistic ability to defend ourselves, our families and our country from those whose manifests we hate.

But hey, the junk is out in the open and your nuts if you don't think some dickhead is going to profit from it. I mean the entire AI shebang. 

There is a different possibility though. We could wake up and realize that we are not so very individual. That our failings belong to a whole community, as does their remedy. No self, no matter how branded by quirky tatoos (which I think are pretty cool too, which is why I'll never have one), is all that different from every other selfie self. No matter how much I read, I still must swim in the same social waters that we all do. I was so disappointed in the Bills last night. I so regret my lost sleep!

Any more than Cherry 2000 AI will not replicate human love. We may finally realize that our mind is not described or describable by our brain. That our emotions don't distinguish us from all the other beasts. That consciousness already exists in a reptile but never in a zero/one logic machine. It's our definitions have to change, stupid!

As refined by art and literature and music, we do embody a very advanced capacity for love. The now universal quest for recognition (Sorry Bill Gaddis, I'll never be able to read your Recognitions, though I'll keep trying), fueled as it is by the way that money works in this economy, is as effective as Oppenheimer's Trinity test as a prototype for world destruction. 

Back when I was trotting around Yale, trying to find someone open-minded enough to test my theories for themselves, a kindly young physics professor pointed to where John Wheeler was then working. I hadn't known who Wheeler was, or that he was visiting Yale. I thought he was some august professor who would be unapproachable. Little did I know that he floated a theoretical approach which includes all conscious observers in the structure of physical reality. An elegant resolution of certain puzzles of quantum physics as I might imagine.

All that I have done, through no agency on my part, is to realize one very early morning in the process of writing that nothing about our knowledge of the physical world need change if we were to adapt our models to accept that emotion is as primordial as are physical forces. My analogy was the absence of substantial change by knowledge of relativity. Except that more time has passed by now since my discovery as compared to the time between Einstein's reformulation and the development of the bomb. 

I think there simply is no interest among the powers that be in talking about love. I define "concepts" on a par with "percepts." By definition, percepts are subject to forces, which means that they participate in the exchange of force-bearing "particles." Without such participation, they would not be perceptible. They could not be measured, and predictions could not be made. Proof is in the energy equations. 

Concepts define a kind of structure of mind. It's a narrative structure, which I try and try again to define on these "pages," but it's not directly measurable, since concepts don't participate in forceful interactions. 

Without narrative, mind has no inclination. Composed physically, as words are, DNA has a narrative structure. When it defines an arrangement of otherwise inert matter such that the narrative structure endures, there is a move in the direction of love, which is the direction of life away from universal entropy and decay. A dance of love and hate defines the All. 

The hope here is that this particular realization is what can and will change the world. It won't be our technological advances. It won't be our astounding and brave new understandings of how physical life and matter are constructed. It will be our collective awakening to a kind of responsibility to love that will enable a transformation at least as spectacular as what an H-Bomb can do on its own. 

There is no art in Trump or Putin or Jong-un. These are avatars of what we all become when we realize our defunct desire for recognition. Embodiments of hate, of decay of entropy of dissolution of global warming meltdown, which isn't a necessary condition of our survival.

They and all masters of the universe are become death. Be not proud.