Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Technology of narrativity: art of surviving with monstrous brains

Living beings present a massive information growth in respect to inorganic matter: aminoacids, proteins are very complex molecules not to mention fishes, plants and mushrooms.

The complexity of mammals in particular, produce nervous system able to handle a huge amount of information.

The size of brains is important, but if we confront human and cetaceans brains, the difference is irrelevant. Still we can see a gigantic difference in dealing with information. Our information exchange is several times more sophisticated (viciously maybe...), complex (degenerated perhaps). What we observe is an infrastructure of information in which our human brains are plugged in: let's call it culture.

In culture we are immersed in a network of meanings and senses. Actually, they are virtual: a priest is a priest only by convention, nothing in his physical structure or in his behaviour can tell you he is a priest. This complex network is not objective like inorganic matter, but not even like behaviours of dolphins or other primates. Often it's based on patent absurdity, sometimes completely mad guys lead the majority, it happens also that some of our members find gods, kill gods, or are gods.

In general we invent senses and meanings in our virtual cultural world. We are huge producers (polluters) of meanings,senses and myths. We create myths and we start to “believe”. No other animal “believes”. Sure, it can be cheated, but you can make an animal to believe. You can trick to let him think something (sure you can deceive animals). Primates deceive themselves (I mean, also the cousins with fur). But it appears, only humans believe. And we do believe in senses,meanings and myths. Gorillas and chimpanzees cry for their dead sons; sometimes they can't cope with the grieve. But it's just us who truly add something to primate feelings and emotions. And after we invented and believed in senses,meanings and myths, they are there.

You start to see them in the world. We do see priests, politicians, characters. We see a cultural world, which actually is far from being objective. We see our myths, they are there for us. They are there because we put there and they are there because we evoked them. We see a world consistent with our culture, we see the sense of the actions (more or less, of course...)in the environment we live in. If you believe in god, you're able to see his hand in everything of the “created” world. You can also see numbers everywhere.

We invented stories, we polluted our virtual world of stories and we started to believe them, becoming crazy searching objective senses and meanings in the myths we created. So we created more: we invented a series of stories to placate our appetite for stories.

The question is not whether these food of stories, of gods are real or not.

But : can we digest them? Can we digest our gods, our myths? And equally: can we fast from our senses, can we fast from gods?

I guess a lot depends on the story you tell yourself: a kind of eating your senses, your meanings: self-cannibalism, to survive an overwhelming wave of information.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Rosa speculorum:

the art of being human


The significance of human actions, resides in meanings. You know what is love,hate,proud, humiliation, pleasure and fear, because you understand these human meanings. You won't find any fear or humiliation in the physical world. Sure animals encounter something similar, but the proper human experience lies on the articulation of these sensation in their meanings. True, you feel love for someone, but you've been told about human loves in songs, movies, friends' tales, parent's model: after a training in human society, you become accustomed to what love is for human beings. We shape the meanings of human facts from human tales, from our experience (which is your story). You can see as normal human facts, because you understand them; otherwise it would be the a monkey delirium what men do.

We do understand even the most execrable and ominous facts, because we catch a glimpse of significance even in the monstrous action of psychopaths. We are terrorized by the most disgusting crimes and we are wondering “why, how could they do this”, precisely because we know it. Equally, when we admire the most sublime works of men (buildings, music, actions) and we reckon how superior is the prowess of these men, we subtly are admiring our ability to understand the prowess of humankind.We see others as monsters and artists, because we understand others. You can love another human being, because you can see that he's like you.

But if you try to investigate the consistence of human facts, you'll see a gigantic entanglement of drama and comedy, plays that imitate other plays. How do you learn what is betraying? From other betrayals. Some act as they know their act will be used as models; other prefer to act as they are unique; most act as unaware of acting. Every human act is an acted reaction. You can find the very first human act: the very first interpretation was unaware of the humanity of acting. An Ur-act is not an act: an act must follow other acts to be an act. Therefore only after many acts have been played inhumanly, finally you can have a proper, first human act.

We are so involved in human actions, that we don't see ourselves acting on the human stage:for good. Indeed it's important to take seriously your acting, otherwise you couldn't be that convincing. Of course sometimes the paramount interpretation is precisely the one showing awareness of the game. This is typical of arts, especially in drama, or film, where on stage, you allude to the fictional nature of your play. You can do it in your real life as well, but exaggerating could bring you the label of mad and not always is a good one. It's preferable to act as you believe in the norms regulating our human reality. But gravity is not questionable; integrity, reliability, discretion, for example, can be questioned. It's also a good norm for you to observe some sort of regularity: your mind needs to act with a decent amount of coherence to stay sane.To be human, you need to act as such: an original human fact is the imitation of other one.

Therefore our actions are copy of copies. Notwithstanding, it's us, we are the players. I cry and admire the human condition, precisely as other Greeks, Indians, Chinese, Jewish,Arabs did before me.And in my crying and in my admiration resounds like a warped replica their own.I can reflect on my self, because I'm mirroring other speculations, twisting a bit my own reflection, for my own ignorance and my own pleasure.

Your consciousness is the sensation of doing something when you think and then calling the actor of the thinking a self and this reflection, self consciousness. It's the optical illusion of mirrors mirroring mirrors, foreseeing in the vertigo of the infinite reflection, a glimpse of a mind. In reality? Just reflections of reflections. Only? Nothing more; but it's beautiful, like a rose, an infinite rose of mirrors. Enjoy your own rosa speculorum.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The writing of the Gods

"Angelus Silesius, a mystic poet of '600, said that the rose is without a why,
she simpl blooms. So it's vain your intellectual proud to discover a meaning in things: things simply are. In the “Tractatus logico-philosophicus”, a delirious poem that is the foundation of modern logic, Wittgenstein aimed to find the general form of proposition (well, of every possible proposition in every possible world uttered by every possible intelligent being), which is [ p-bar , xi-bar , N( xi-bar )]. In a novel, Borges said that Aztec Gods printed on the skin of the jaguar the secret meaning of the world.

So now, we can start. In the inorganic world, we don't have information: information is something that stand for something else. In the inorganic world, things don't stand for something, they are the things. To exchange information, you need a reading device and to have a reading device, you need a writing device. Living beings can do it. But you can have meanings only if you have a language. Frogs exchange information (can perceive pain, so don't be cruel with frogs), but they do not have a language. A rose, equally, exchanges information, but if you ask a rose, why she blooms, she can't. One good point in not asking yourself “why”,is that you can't get insane. Have you ever seen crazy roses? Neither I. The only safe salvation from madness is to be a rose. But of course if you're a man, this is not helpful: if you pretend to be a rose, you are definitely mad.

But men are interested in finding the ultimate meaning of things; this is for example the source of philosophical investigation. Some also believe that in the particle accelerator you'll find these kind of meanings, like a general form of meanings.

They pretend to be roses! In fact, you'll find amazing information and no meanings. The secret meaning of the world, is a fiction, to be precise a novel. Humans tell each other though novels, this secret meaning. The good news are that you can read in multiple ways this novel:it can be written by god on a jaguar skin or in holy book(s), but it can also be written by men as a tale. The bad news are that you can read in multiple ways this novel: a contradictionary delirious of primates, pretending to write meanings.

More or less, we are enchanting each other with stories, and we believe these deliria, falling in the enchantment we ourselves are telling. We create gods in our novels and in these novels gods create men. A narrator create a story and a reader believe to be created by the novel. But it is true! Our minds are created by the stories others tell us. When you read a story, a narrator is creating a piece of your mind. And when you tell a story, your creating a piece of someone else mind: men are the creative process of man, homo homini opus.

And creation is not a prerogative of god, is it? And is really such a blasphemy to call the world, the novel of god? In a Pirandello novel, we meet 6 characters searching for an author to write their story. What is absurd, to believe in a god? To search for meanings in protons? To tell stories? To search for your own author? To write about roses?

At the end of the day, it's fine: a bunch of monkeys telling stories, pretending to be roses.” Not too bad, fella; it could be a worst story...



Thursday, 19 November 2009

Metaphysics and human rights:

gambling in possible worlds and common sense

The statement “every human being is born with equal rights” is a wonderful display of a chaos metaphysics; of course we are proud supporters of it. The underlining concept is that you are the person you are for a very random cross of contingencies and chaos.
“You” is an umbrella term for several instants of space and time, with a certain refrain of occurrence. It's easy and helpful to label “you” that body and mind, but
Being white, being protestant, being transsexual could bring some intrinsic rights??? And what about the mix: say, being Muslim is at the top of its scale and being transsexual at the bottom of its scale, how would you compute the combination, in the middle??? What kind of algorithm are you using???sometimes you include in the umbrella term the delirious adventures of a twist of your mind; do you dream, don't you? As human beings, we decided to distribute rights in order to play our games, but the distribution to be fair has to recognize the contingent nature of the umbrella term “I”.
Therefore it would be absurd to give to a very random configuration of you, more rights than another:playing would be unfair. This configuration of me as, say, a white catholic homosexual man, should receive more rights to play than,say, me as a black Muslim heterosexual woman? A part from cultural reason, from a metaphysical point of view, can you image a consistent logic to assign rights and privileges to random configurations? Honestly, can you find a reasonable way to share privileges and rights to contingent and chaotic sets of properties, coherently?
The development of culture is a wonderful deployment of the random adventure of these funny characters that are human being. They have been involved for thousands years in their crazy tales and for centuries they distributed rights and privileges to play in accordance with their delirious contingent tales. No matter how fun you find this method, no matter how you love absurdity, after all this time, human beings accepted that if it's completely chaotic the corpus of their tales, it's pointless to attribute more importance to one instead of another. The impression of being led by absurdity is only
superficial: indeed the principles ruling your lives are absurd, but our primate-like brain tend continuously to adjust our actions.

Endorsing the universal rights, is a good way to spend less time and resource in this continuous adjustment. And accept the cooperation of our instantiations, even the possible one, will only empower our games. Instead of blocking and obstructing the development of your possible selves (including the ones you currently wouldn't label immediately under "your" umbrella term), can only be a wonderful empowerment for human beings. Including you; I mean, the strict umbrella term. The gain at stake? Well, as a gambler, try to image the possibility of playing at infinite tables.
So my friends, let's the instantiations out and give your bro' a chance!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Homo homini opus


Get a look at your hands. I suppose:5+ 5 fingers, good mobility (well of course if you don't have these characteristics, I beg your pardon). What's the buzz? Well, you are smart, in part because of your hands. Humans started to increase their smartness, when they started to stand, walking with feet and freeing the upper arts. Human brains became to explore the world with hands. Touching things and touching things with things.
Take a stick and try to test the ground. Very soon you'll be able to “feel” the ground with the stick: if it's hard or soft; but also if it's wet. Shortly humans begun to build tools.

The good thing in building tools is that you have to be smart to build one, but also that you can store “smartness” in the tool. Take scissors: the shape of the tool is shaping your movements.
Scissors are not just an extension of movements (in sharpness), they are also guiding your gestures. Manual prowess brings you a degree of smartness. Artisans are smart monkeys.
A good thing of smart monkeys is that they can communicate. And communication is another tool. You can build scissors, hammers, mainframe, tables, satellites. You can also build stories, narratives, legends, religions and jokes. Narratives are a kind of tool to extend gestures and guide movements. When you have a certain degree of narrative movements, you have a mask, a character. A mind.

We build minds with our narratives because we've been built as minds by narratives. We composed very long stories, really very long. Societies are this kind of stories. With societies you can tell very long stories. We tell stories about Egyptians, about Julius Caesar, about the man of Neanderthal. We always told stories about the beginning: of everything. Sometimes with fantasy, sometimes with proven fantasy. We spoke of an old man with a white beard “creating” the world; we spoke of a very strange event in which normal rules don't apply. In short we told ourselves a lot of stories.
We build tools to play with. We built hammers, scissors and minds. We built computers and programs. We program now. As we've always done. As soon as we stood on two feet, we started to program our environment with stories and with tools, because we were programming our minds. Now we program in these virtual environments, transferring intelligence in lines of code. As usual.
It's funny when people is afraid of technology, forecasting the times the machines will overthrow men. It's funny because men are nothing but the spirits evoked by hammers and scissors: it would be silly to say we
“overthrown” our tools. It's funny but to some extent our minds have
been created by our tools. “But we'd create with intention”. And intention what is? Don't be too philosophical. Of course we create with intention and dices says 7. God doesn't play with dices, we do.It's good, it's cool. It's our work. It's us.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Human programming: ecnode teh ambgiuity


Cybernetics is the explicit intent to program human beings to do at best some tasks. Of course this is what human beings have always done without saying it aloud. In general we can say that a human brain is programming himself. One of the most spectacular feature of the human brain is the informational re-entry. Basically the brain is spending much more time talking (and listening!)
to himself, that with the outside. But when we are speaking of a human mind, we are already halfway: indeed to have One human mind, you need at least Many. A human mind not only flourish in an environment rich of other human minds:it can only happen in such an environment. We don't know
(yet) if it's possible a solitary intelligence.
We know for sure that you can meet human minds only in a very rich mind environment; we can call this rich environment, culture. This environment is overpopulated by information. But information is something misguiding. In our very rich informational environment, what we are talking about, why? Why we are encoding so many information, what is the purpose? Information is something that stands for. So for what is standing our world of information?
I tell you a story, an ambiguous one...

First, information. It's very imprecise (!!!) (philosophically...) the way information is treated in the information theory. In the lifeless universe, you don't have information. Protons and the like are not encoding information, they aren't something that stand for something else: they are the things. In the chemical reaction you don't have processes that stands for something else: they are the things of the processes.
A body is attracted to another body not because they are exchanging information: gravity is the thing, not something that stands for it! So you have information only with the peculiar systems that we call living beings: the real information factory.

Amongst living beings, you have humans. Humans are the lords of the informational exchange: they can trade information as nothing did before. A human brain can store a lot of information. But a human mind even more! To activate a human mind, you need to put a human brain in a rich informational environment, populated by other human minds and most of all, populated by structures of information that can be used by the brain to stand as a mind. A brain can start to think only after the assistance of cultural infrastructures: just think of speaking. No child can learn alone how to speak. And to speak, you need to learn an individual form of possible human languages. To speak, you need to speak of something.
Stop for a while to image your brain as a machine, scanning the environment in search of information: of course it's what your brain does and indeed it's
what a newborn brain does. But when this newborn brain is immersed in a cultural environment, the surroundings of the newborn brain start to stands for something. Information becomes meaning.

With some analogies to the distinction made with the lifeless universe, information in
a cultureless environment differs from the one in an environment with. One is that in a cultural informational environment, the encoding is quite ambiguous. Meanings are not analogically and unambiguously encoding of information: they stand for something, they are traded publicly and so there is a degree of shared encoding. But there is not force holding together meanings and what they stand for: everyone has a peculiar shape of his use. Technically (and chomskly) everyone is speaking is own idiolect. What is the informational advantage? Well, if you are encoding ambiguously, you can encode more: you have more dimensions to wrap your meanings in.
The amount of information you can encode in the human misunderstanding is huge:
precisely for the ambiguity. Now think of ambiguity not as an obstacle to the true meaning, but as a resource to encode more meanings. This is what we normally do when we are speaking. Now if you were a human being with many dimensions to store information, what would you do? I personally would enjoy this ability to encode in several informational dimensions; I also would try to manipulate this information, maybe building
new way to wrap even more information. You know, I'll probably try to leverage even more on ambiguity and instead of writing endless report about the informational surrounding, I'll probably would scan my environment narratively. Yes, this is what I'd do if I were a human being: I'll encode more informational ambiguity in narrative dimensions.


Monday, 2 November 2009

Labyrinths:a mind game of death,pleasure and higher cognitive performances

Flowers for Us

Who builds labyrinths? And most of all: why?An intelligent being is required to build labyrinths
and an intelligent being is the victim to be put in the labyrinth.labyrinth.A victim,but also a lover, a mate. You build a labyrinth to veil access without closing the access,it's a sophisticated way to encrypt a passage. I leave you the chance to find the way, it's just there, you need only to solve the puzzle.
Every time you find solutions in the humans world, you find the exit to a labyrinth. Labyrinths are made by humans for humans, to exercise their highest prowess, for pleasure.
Although a labyrinth is good when is difficult and the stake is high:let's say a proper labyrinth put your life at risk. Have you ever tried love? Love sometimes is simply living in comfort and fun; sometimes is cooperation and understanding; sometimes it's a labyrinth that put your life at risk.
We love risks (sometimes!), we love challenges and more on, we love to see someone else trying it. We build arenas and coliseums to see our mates challenge each other, to see
triumphs and defeats. You would find any joy in a quiet march without a winner and without many losers. We discover new ways to preserve our mate from physical pain and actual damages, but it's not less sadistic to put the pride, the honour, the self esteem of our mates at stake. Like “cognitive sharks” we are excited to see our mates exercising their abilities. This is what we do to stay awake, to stay alive. In order to be human, we need self consciousness, and we reach self consciousness in a articulated social process to activate our highest cognitive performances. If you just stand, you won't reach any soon your proper cognitive level of human being.
We are required to pass through a certain degree of cognitive obstacle, to turn on the mind machine, we need to move our brain and make a virtual friction in social environments. In short, we become humans after labyrinths, we need to find ourselves at the end of a wandering and we like to put someone in a labyrinth to let him find himself.
We are the product of a sadistic act of love and we love through the distance we pose to our mates. We are not put in steady orbitals, we reciprocally negotiate the space amongst ourselves.
How many labyrinths do we need to find the exit? It's up to you, my friend. Being inside and outside is relative: you are born when you discovered yourself in the labyrinth, maybe going out from the labyrinth is the exit from life. And another thing:there are no meanings in the labyrinths: the labyrinths are the meanings and as you can see, they are not unambiguous.
I start to think that the gods who built these labyrinths were insane. My friend, enjoy the labyrinth, enjoy the unexpected: pleasure of discover and exercise of your highest cognitive performance. The monstrous unexpected that you can meet in life,it's just the twist on the way, invented by your mate for their pleasure and for fun: hug the unexpected and you'll take part in the pleasure of your mates. Even if uninvited

The unexpected be with you,my friend

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Flames of narrative technology.

How to put on fire your party. Vol. 1 technology. Vol.2 narrativity


Vol. 1 .You’re a primate. Life isn’t easy. All these guys chasing you (and they aren’t creditors, they are lions), all this time spent searching for food. It’s cold, and dark. Then your Research and Development department finds the first improvement: fire. Fire is the first technological step. The release 1.0 of Homorama. With fire you gain time (as any technological improvement, see operations consultancy), you make your life easier (less cold, cooked meal: that means you can eat meat), you become less victim: less lions in chase of you. You gain self esteem, technological self esteem. It’s not any more about who has the biggest arm, or the biggest tail. You can show off your discovery. And the curiosity of the first improvement successfully leads you to try again. Without a success, curiosity is pure fantasy. A successful curiosity is promoting itself. Try again. Spend time in research.

Vol. 2. You’re the same primate. Life isn’t easy for you either. You feel the pressure of this boredom and meaningless life. Too much danger, too few rewards. At least give yourself a chance: do something different. I’d tell story, but I’m not sure I have the whole device required, the phonation is still primitive; probably my brain is not yet ready to invent plot and communicate tales. But I can’t stand to gather fruits, flee from lions and be scared all my life. There is a storm, it’s raining, a thunder. Pure courage, pure adventure. And only one step from death. Yes, why not? Why not facing your death? A close thunder , a flash. A burning monster, the hurting demon. You are there to face your death. Why not getting closer to this demon? Facing death, courage, meaningless all this brought you fire. And when you mastered fire. You first communicate your feelings. You started to share. Not just fruits and grooming. You started to share a space, a virtual space, a cognitive virtual space. We are mates not because we’re afraid together. We are sharing a narrative.

Vol. 1. The strange case of life on earth is a case of bio-technological warfare. Every species is escalating the conflict. Just give me one thousand years, I promise, my venom will be more poisonous, my jaws will be more inescapable… Primates were clever and agile. Curious and vulnerable: they needed to escalate dramatically: they needed to do something new. Courage, tools, in one word: they needed to shorten the technological process. Stop with the thousand years: individual life span to measure progress. You need to find something. And when you is involved, we know a mind is just round the corner. Accelerating the technological process, permits to amass a critical cognitive potential.

Vol. 2. The fight for life is a circle. We’ve seen dinosaurs. We’ve seen bacteria. No matter how big, how resistant , the game is written. No fun. But if you can just put apart some minutes, like the dust of your hole in prison. Hide your spared time, like a prisoners hide the dig of a tunnel. And when time is enough, you can go. You have a new world, a world of narratives. This is the fire every man brings with a story. And every man tells a story: himself.

Vol. 1 & 2 During the ages, every man who speaks, every man who tells, is bringing with him this sparkle, old more than 15 000 centuries. Yes, my friend. When you tell a story, you’re passing to your mate a sparkle. Passing the fire is a technology: it’s a narrative technology. A lobster is passing technology to its spring via generation. Our way to pass technology is narrative: every advancement, every improvement, every new trick, it’s a new story. And every story is the deployment of a technology. Every narration is the showing off of a prowess, of technique. In order to tell, you need a stage and a character. And a plot. And a voice telling the story. In other words you need the technology of a mind, the technology to accelerate primate brain with fire. A narrative technology. Fire it up!



Monday, 12 October 2009

The halo of narrativity on the way to become a character


In philosophy of language and logic there is a original sin (shared with common sense): that contents can be identified and described. Clearly, precisely, analytically. In other words that the origin of the meaning of content could be translated digitally. You can translate meanings in digital form. Yes. But they weren’t born that way (at least, up to now. Interestingly in the future we could start to create content digitally: programming is a way to produce digitally content. But you inhabit a world of meanings that are not created that way. Up to now).
Contents are the emissions and the feedback of an informational exchange with the environment. Contents are the exchange: this is why we exchange meanings and not things. We exchange an essence, a spirit, an abstraction. A virtual tool. But this virtual and informational environment is not univocally determined. Everyone with his personal experience changes and modify the environment: contents are dynamic. The bundle of stories and their exchange produce a shared meaning, a shared content: analogically with your social environment and individually mastered. But the analogy preserves the dynamics.

Contents are per definition stories of our experience, of our lives. Our lives are stories of stories. But sometimes this narrativity doesn’t produce living narrative: it’s lifeless, it’s a verbalism. A story of a story that never saw the light: shadows of shadows.
What is the method to tell a verbalism from a story? We are sure there is one? Narrativity is populated by characters.
What is the difference? There is one? Maybe one is a good story and the other is a boring one? There is a method to tell which one is more rooted in our experience ? And it’s a good thing to be rooted?

Why you can decide one is a verbalism and one is a story? A verbalism is the insane prison of a mind that never met characters, that never become one. A mind maskless. The schizophrenic story of a divided mind: an incomplete character that never touched the light of existence. A narrativity full of puppets instead of characters. There is hope to find light? I’m not sure. Sometimes narrativity is simply lazy to appear. Sometimes lacks of talent. Still ,you can develop a character. But if a character never appeared, what happened? If you don’t learn how to speak until 20, it’s likely you’ll never do. Becoming a character could be affected in the same way?

Theory of knowledge and minds out of synch



You are Norman, a scientist, a mathematician. You are slightly autistic, with a clear disconnection from normal social procedures with other human beings; you are very clever in doing the math. For this, you’ve been hired by the government to invent some awesome trick with physics and warfare. Your disconnection get worse. You become paranoid, you see things, you build an articulated and complex belief about a conspiracy, the government, some of your friends involved: usual stuff. After some years you become completely nutter. Nothing of what you see has the minimal pertinence with reality. The funny thing is that actually some guys of the government were looking at you, some of your friends actually worked for an enemy State, some episodes of your life have been disturbed by this plot. What can we say? Did you have an intuition of what was happening? Were you right, to some extent? No, not all. You were mentally high as a kite AND accidentally and parallelly, facts in real life were similar to your hallucinations. I’m sorry.

You are Rosemary and you’re pregnant. Your husband does something strange; not patently, just a bit. You are nervous, exhausted; you see things are not completely in order, but don’t understand precisely where. A couple of clues leads you to a morbid, delirious , impossible version: your husband sold your baby to the devil. Come on guys!, back to reality. You think you’re mad: too weird, too unacceptable, too unreal, too mad. But true!

Have you ever been in situations like Norman or Rosemary? Congratulations all of you are intensely disturbed. If you needed a confirmation, here we go: in your mind a bunch of crazy monkeys are inventing stories to have fun of your life (if only they had 100 000 years these stories would be very interesting…wouldn’t they, oh my Bard?). You are a lunatic if you believe you’ve been in similar conditions. Because every one of us is more or less in those conditions. But we are unaware of being there. Let me explain.

First, Norman and Rosemary are in a condition of building theory of how things are (we normally do this, but not often). This is an (implicit) theory of knowledge. Norman's mind is affected by a stete of disorder (a large chunk of the population is affected by state of mental disorder more or less pronounced); Rosemary’s version is fictional (a large chunk of what we believe scientifically and with good proofs, is fictional). When you dramatically diverge from the theory of how things are of your social environment, you start to have problems. If we believe what others believe, we are fine. But if we miss some coordination, some accordance, some synchronization, we get lost. Why Norman got lost? He simply dissociated himself from his social environment and so became mad and paranoid. The fact his paranoia was similar to reality doesn’t count. Isn't it ironic? We normally are more lucky: our paranoia is less severe and the parallel facts with reality give us the false belief we are right. It’s only we don’t experience the extreme verification Norman did: the verification your beliefs are paranoid (Everyone is telling Norman is mad and when he starts to accept this, the reaction of his social environment is positive: Norman is still seeing the same but now calls himself paranoid either.) Rosemary is simply discovering something to weird to be accepted: let’s just think to quantum theory or the degree of corruption in Italy. Alone is too difficult to manage the building of shared theory. Einstein didn’t believe to accept what he helped to discover. Judges Falcone and Borsellino have been killed by the mafia (large sectors of power said mafia doesn’t exist…).

OK now we have our stage: Norman and Rosemary aren’t more disturbed than us. They simply miss the beat. One too much. When you go out of synch, you see things. You see others dancing but you realize there is no music. It’s only the synchronized movement of everyone that is giving the perception of music to dance for. But there is no music. Or better there is only the multiple coordination of your social environment. The multiple movement gets the resonance of the mind involved: everyone is convinced to hear the music. But there is none.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Habits, alibis

Play safe, play habitual. Habits are the highways and the boundaries of social living. They improve the speed and the easiness to do something. If you don’t need to think to what you do, you’ll do it better. “You” it’s a very heavy operative system; every time you require the use of “You”, the entire system is called. Think to driving: a set of relative complex cognitive tasks, with manual ability. The first time is a nightmare, because “You” is involved. And when “You” is involved, you are driving and you are feeling emotions, you remember, you pay attention to the street, you see details, you are there. And all this is extremely tiring. After a while, you drive “You-less” . It’s not You, it’s just yours (body, cognitive system, user-friendly electronic device, etc. etc.). You drive in absence of You. It’s a zen experience.

Very often this kind of experience is even more pervasive. Your social role, your character are built in the environmental infrastructures. You are a salesman, after your day, seated with a drink in your hand, in the other, your head. While you're drinking your pint (of wine), you remember the days you wanted to write, the days of your warm thinking and feeling, then your boss, "you're clever, boy", the good sales, the good money. Before finishing your drink, you want to kill yourself. Really. And you’re right. But your alcoholism is stronger than your wisdom and you pour a second one quicker than any possible suicidal plan. The day after you’ll start again in your habits. Everything is fine.

The point is: you can’t be present in every moment of your life. Too heavy (for your operative system), too dangerous (for you and society). You are required to do things: you require to do things! And of course You too, requires to do things: you know what to do, because You knows what to do. You is the boss, delegates and leaves automatisms to do the dirty job. The environment and your cognitive system know how to take care of your actions. These are habits. And you should be grateful to them: you’ve been built and designed by your habits. But from the entanglements of your habits, the shadow of You emerges. Nothing wrong, nothing bad, nothing atypical. It’s normal, it’s you.

As soon as You takes the driving seat, we see the troubles. If You is driving, he wants to feel, he accelerates, he changes route, he overtakes. Bad, bad, bad boy. The same if you take You to your job place. Try to speak with your boss in the You shoes. Go to hell. I’m not interested. Not my problem. You know what you can do with the company's vision? I’m not mad. I’m You, You is in charge now, You and I now are free men.

Exactly, fired. Changing habits at work is redundancy (unless you pay someone else to change your organization, hire consultants to put in place new habits as new clothes, without You involved).
Habits are also damningly innocent: you can’t do wrong until you follow them. The definition of committing crimes could be: breaching the habits. Every crime committed is a diversion from habits. Every time You appears, he wants to try something different. Let’s see what happen if I hammer the head of the sweat Mrs Gonzalo. But also: my life is more than this, I deserve more, I can do it. Let me see what there is round the corner: please let me turn! If you permit You coming out, you accept the risk: you’ll see your creativity, you’ll see You in the process of building new places, maybe future habits, maybe not. It’s you.
Where were you last night? As usual, I went home, it was 7,30, like every day; a quick stop to the drugstore, say at 7,53. Stairs, keys, door. Light, a glass, two fingers, scotch. 8,01. Mrs Gonzalo has been killed at 7? I’m innocent then. Your alibi. Your habits. It was You.

Friday, 9 October 2009

I lost my mind. Again. Alfred, a new mask.



Where is my mind? Probably the best article about that is Where I am, from Dan Dennet (one the best philosopher in town), with a rigorous reasoning and a funny wit: a good sci-fi story, with strong foundations. A part from the philosophical issues, where is you, in the majority of situations is where is your living brain. There are small exceptions . After your death, your legacy can be transmitted (say, with a book).It’s not you as a whole, but traces, sometimes important of your mind, of your reasoning, can survive the death of your brain. A second situation is when you notice someone damaged your favorite car . In this case it’s not “you” affected. Still your mind can suffer as if affected. You extended your mind to a thing.



Alles klar? If we are convinced a mind is a individualistic device, complex but a unit, yes, we’re done. Unfortunately this is simplistic. The concept of a single mind, the “I”, a single item, with maybe fading boundaries, but a clear identity, is not a good concept. It’s very useful : you can address bills to someone in a unambiguous way. It’s rational: you can ask and give commitments. In general there are good reasons why it’s good to ascribe a unit to the concept of mind. Still, this is far from being a good description of this cognitive environment.
Your mind is not milked from your brain (well, there are very strong relations, of course). It’s a process of reciprocal manipulation from environment to you and vice versa: your environment shapes you, you digest this manufacturing and design some modifications to your environment: a reciprocal re-programming.


Fantastic, now we are able to be really in control. We just need to re-programming our environment as we wish. Easy, isn’t it? Mmmmmmm. Well, y-yes. It’s what we do: re-programming our environment. The problem is : “as we wish”. The process of re-programming is a narrative. Our environment in order to shape us, tell us a story: this is a dynamic blueprint. It’s living, it’s a living story. We digest this narration, but we don’t digest the story: we are the story! The story (i.e.: Us!) becomes able to narrate. The story tells a story. But these are not “just words” (thank you Barack, my favorite speech!), these are our lives, our feelings, our emotions, our loves, our battles. The story-tells-a-story is the environmental re-programming that builds roads, houses, satellites, etc. etc. To act, to make a difference, (at least in our cultures), you need to be an “I”. You need to be a character. That’s why the environment shapes a mask, permitting you to play a role. The mask is not an disguise: without you’d be faceless. We are characters on stage, without a mask, we’d be speechless ghosts. So a mask, it’s fine. The problem is, our environment is bigger than intentions. Your family, is an environment. Your parents could have intentions (maybe contradictory, but it’s ok..). But also situations are environment. Also discipline, tension, pressure, obstacles are environment: all this forces are environment. And they don’t have intentions. We meet a lot of actors dealing with us, but the environment is more than the actors. The multiple forms of the environment gives us the art of masking (of masking the speechless faceless with a character). And we start to possess many, many masks. We change them, sometimes. But we have the masking art. We can build a new mask. We can modify the old one. We age. We change.
Everyone in few years (20?30?) is in possess of several masks. When you know who you are, you decided your mask. Good. There is no reason the other masks will leave you. There is no reason the other masks will wait for you either. Is it good to have only one? Is it funny to change constantly many? Just a matter of tastes. I personally quite enjoy the mindshake. It’s a funny exercise and very interesting. Do you remember Fight club? Or Nikolay Stavrogin? It’s a classic in art to shake minds. Think to “La Vida es sueno”( Life is a Dream) of Calderon de la Barca or Pirandello So It Is (If You Think So) or Six Characters in Search of an Author.
Mindshake is a good way to complicate your days (and nights…). Where is my mind, after a mindshake? The good news is that if you get lost (if you lose your mind), just remember where are the other, disposable minds. The bad news is that when you lose your mind, you tend to be annoyed by the masking art… Are we safer with the masking art? Or more in peril?
Shake, shake, shake