Tuesday, 11 August 2009

A psychotic bean: or how I stopped worrying and love Insanity

No matter what are your relations with a computer, if there is a psycho in the room, it's you; don't point him. Computers are like crystal: they are a logic, sleek sequence. All the fuss, the drama comes from the good old human beings. Why? I'll try to guide you to the early stage of madness (what a wonderful effort: centuries of psychiatry, political correctness and madness is all you can say???).Anyway…
What is a psychosis? Well, it's a bean in your pocket! An imaginary bean, of course. You have this fictional bean in your pocket, which is pretty ineffective. What can a bean do to you? Nothing! Ok, don't rush. It can't do anything, now. You have this bean in your pocket and you think to it. It's a funny, harmless thing: nobody can see you. Are you sure? Why that hand in the pocket then? Are you playing with a ghost bean??? No,no!! And you leave the hand from the pocket (First action caused by…the bean!). What a silly person! Of course it's just your imagination...Forget the bean now and come back to proper business.
But you can't. The bean is still there. You try to think to pleasant memories, to plan the new venture, to dream about those beautiful legs...The bean is still there. You change your trousers and the bean is still there. You drink till excess and before losing consciousness … the bean is still there. One morning you wake up and you realize the bean is growing. Alarmed, you walk nervously, trying to hide this shame and apparently nobody cares. Relief. Hang on a minute: a bean plant is coming out from a pocket and nobody cares?!? It must be me!!! Oh god, I’m insane! Of course! But it doesn’t matter: you realize is just a plant growing in your pocket, but besides this, nothing really has been affected.
Day after day your plant grows, you get used to this strange sensation, of this massive plant. You walk trying to maintain your balance; it's difficult, but you manage it. After two years from the bean started to live with you, you know a girl. She's nice. You see each other and it's ok. You still take the same train and still the bean plant is there, but who cares now? It's summer you almost forget this gigantic plant, whose top is far, far away. Then, suddenly, a person stops you and annoyed asked you to move away that thing; it cast shadows on such a beautiful day. What??????? My imaginary plant casts shadows??? Real shadows??? A physical barrier to sun beam???? My bean???

This is more or less what happened with your mind, when it starts to wander. But why does it even start to wander?
Well, you can say that we aren't exactly Turing Machines and we are not that sequential. Our parallel informational processes often conflict. But there is more. The cognitive architecture in charge of representing the surroundings is not only making a cognitive draft of the environment: it’s building the environment itself. We humans inhabit a dense, articulated virtual environment, made of trees, roads, mountains but also legends, principles, poetry. How is that? That’s possible because the cognitive architecture implemented in your brain and extended in the social environment is actually made for wandering. The environment, we inhabits, is made of a multiplicity of narration, with entangled plots. A Von Neumann tale is quite boring; it would be even delusional, if just it could. Instead we are fine with richer stories. Actually we are only in richer stories. Don’t worry if your imagination is quite fervent, you have just to realize that every human being is psychotic in comparison to a rock or a Von Neumann machine . It's just a matter of degree, but we are all a bunch of psychotic monkeys (to be honest: we are precisely a multitude of sociopathic primates).

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