Friday, July 5, 2024

Old and Decrepit

Not so very long ago, I was living in a place where it was pleasant each day to take bike rides and walks in the woods. My sister and brother-in-law, who were hosting me, are the types who answer the question about why do you climb, with something like 'because it is there.' Maybe. I once answered the question 'why do you sail,' rudely with 'why do you live?'

I used to canoe, and sail my little dinghy, and I used to ride my e-bike all over the place, but now I have a larger sailboat (again) and spend most of my time dealing with repairs of the sort which uncover all the shortcuts that the previous owners took. I have scars and soreness now from living on my side down under the cockpit for, like, two and a half days minus the time it took to lever myself out using main strength in parts not often used so that I could get the tools I didn't think I would need. And minus the time driving to and fro the boat store as I zeroed in on the right sized bolt. Some trips home to fabricate studs and look for other parts. 

And the largely unregulated traffic in the city makes me afraid to ride my bike. And the shortage of sailing hands makes me skittish about sailing. I installed an auto-pilot the day before the engine to prop-shaft connector flew apart noisily, and that was a relative pleasure. With my main crew away, I'd found that this boat won't hold its course with tiller tied off long enough for me to go below and pee. That was becoming a big issue. 

Now back to mountain-climbing and back to nature, I want to tell you in no uncertain terms that there's a better explanation for why you do such things as climb mountains. Beauty. That's the reason. Elemental beauty, which is that place where consciousness is born. The dawn of understanding. You can't even quite know it with too may other people around populating that dawn with noise. Which is a good enough reason not to climb Everest. As if I need [other] reasons.

As you know, gentle reader, I strongly disagree with Messrs. Kastrop and Faggin that their similar forms of analytical idealism are the most parsimonious systematizations of or for understanding. Calling it all mind [also] leaves beauty almost all the way out, just as materialism does. 

My parsimony is rather yin/yang. To shoehorn everything into one type of "primitive" needlessly complicates the whole deal. As primitives, percept/concept are my yin and yang. Quantum physics proves, as K & F also understand, that you can't call subatomic particles percepts. But those authors needlessly assign some sort of interiority to these percept/concept oscillations, in precisely the same way that they  assign interiority to conscious human beings. They and most other consciousness researchers are brain addled. Meaning that they mystify the brain as a kind of seat of consciousness, even as they spread consciousness across the universe. Their mystification involves a false sense that there is any interiority there.

Kastrop defines the term "alter," borrowed from the psychology of dissociative mental disorder, to explain my individuality as a [holographic?] chip off the old universal mental block. I am no such thing. I have a physical skin to define me, thank-you-very-much, and there is no interiority to it that is more interesting than blood and guts. 

My little brain doesn't replicate or store some rendition of reality. Nope! Why would I duplicate what exists all around me? I am unique enough just based on my lifelong trajectory among percepts and words and conversations, and I swear you can know me better than I know myself. I surely don't find that fact to be a threat. Call it a learning opportunity instead. I can learn about myself from you! Any secrets that I might keep are no more occult than to hide behind a wall. 

I do believe that my brain conceptualizes raw reality. Meaning that it composes nameable things, based on their similarities to other things. As Manzotti describes it, perceptions of actual things keep looping, never "stored" in memory by analog to what happens with silicon wafers. Once named, the concept is part of one's fluency. Language is a practice and not a function of storage and retrieval. Like dancing, it's a somatic practice.

This conceptual composition is made up of harmonization among disparate perceptions. The thing I compose is sometimes called an idea, though ideas are confused with inception. Inception starts with yin/yang and there is no priority there between concept and percept. 

Ideas are no more in my head than is some interior me. They can't exist but that they're shared. And then they are placed in a kind of shared abstract space, where it would seem that they always have been. There is, Virginia, no original primordial circle. 

Now it is my claim that art is the most human of possible pursuits. Those who know me will  freely tell you that I am no artist. Oh how I wish that I were! But there are few enough artists abroad in the world, and they don't usually make much of a living. I only wish that I could tell a good story, also a form of art, which I can sometimes do by way of speech, though I rarely have a quiet and patient enough audience. It would seem that my own speech is mostly useful for provoking others to tell their stories. That makes me happy in any case. I like to listen to the stories of others more than I like to tell my own, though some would call that a lie since I do, sometimes, talk a lot. 

A circle is an element of beauty. A "primitive," if you like. But a tree gets much closer to the essence of beauty. You somehow know, don't you, that a tree is a part of you, even as it is apart from you. For me a tree can be what you might call a religious experience. 

When I try to conceptualize to the level of philosophers whom I barely can read, that feels very much the opposite of communing with trees. Well, that's not entirely true. Like when I was reading atheist Richard Dawkins on the selfish gene, that felt religious to me. It's very hard to understand certain of his uglier thoughts. Like when he says a man is a man and a woman is a woman as decreed in the genes. He needs a dose of yin/yang up his yin/yang. 

I don't understand an angry god. Makes no sense to me. God is love. God is beauty. We are, each of us, alters of God, in a way. Just not in the way that Kastrup would have us be, since his ideal world is devoid of emotion. As do most philosophers, he calls it out among a list of things that go on in human and other minds. Trivial epiphenomena. It comes buried in a long list of such things.

Emotion is very much a part of the physical world. Emotion is key to free will. Free will is defined by interaction with the physical world, just as abstraction means to be removed from the physical world. An idea is an abstraction. Physical reality cannot be abstraction except by unnecessarily contorting our language.  There is no need for that. 

To understand is to make a match between physical reality and an "idea." When you manage to put the schematic into words, and when those words give you a measure of control over the physical material world, you may say that you've achieved a kind of understanding. 

But that sort of understanding will never be complete, and you will never rid yourself of the random impingements on the security of your control. Birds poop on the supercollider and fly into jet airplane engines, and things break and fall apart. Our trouble is that we think that "random" is the same as meaningless even while most of our lives have been determined randomly. We think that understanding means to eradicate random.

Eradicating random would be identical to eradicating God. We think that we can take the place of that cosmic love that we seem to feel less and less. I spend so much time trying to read the ever longer articles about all sorts of things, delivered to me by way of money-making algorithms. Nature, meanwhile is having none of this. Nature's seeming anger with us now, is just more of cosmic love. We're not paying attention.

To the extent that we behave according to the same structures which define artificial intelligence, which we surely do when we focus on making money, we are eradicating emotion from our cosmos. At least two local mass murderers around these parts are reported to have been very nice and mild-mannered by acquaintances and co-workers. Emotionally dead, their own deaths would be redundant.

I don't believe that the religious beliefs of the Christian Nation variety - many supporters of Trump - are any different from atheism. When you paint a cartoon god and impose creationism on wild nature, your own beliefs are dead. That doesn't mean that I deny the miracles you feel and know most every day. I only protest your acceptance of some manly need for you to follow his guidance. You're being sold the same bill of goods that atheists pander. Most atheists I know are nicer than pederast preachers.

Anyhow, emotion is the felt apprehension of concepts moving. Non-force-meditated change is apprehended as emotion, which is as much out there as perceptual material reality is, depending as it does, on motion. Your eye must move to see. Your heart/mind must be moved to feel. To be alive is to move and be moved. 

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