On occasion, as my mind drifts from thought to thought, it occurs to me something is missing. I harbor a vague feeling that I’m forgetting something of importance, that has slipped my memory and become irretrievably lost.
Realizing such a dilemma is not unique to me and rather than attribute such memory lapses to rampaging thoughts, I’m thinking that the way we think about things should be re-thought. We are, each of us, after all, inclined to produce a linear personal storyline, a story that evolves through the limitations of language and that our logical minds are apt to modify, disallowing any non-conforming variables our thoughts drift through. Things like dream-time hypnogogic imagery, non-reflective of any remembered personal experience and linear time defying Deja vu occurrences.
Maybe disappearing thoughts find their way into another reality, a parallel universe where what might have happened here if the thought hadn’t been lost, did happen. Which leads me to the unsettling idea that the very trajectory of my life may have veered, taken a different path than it did and that somewhere my alternative life is actually occurring.
It’s kind of fun to imagine the positives of an alternative existence but more than likely there would be plenty of negatives involved as well.
I’ve been reading scifi again. In this reading reality as we wish to know it is upset by some sort of spatial distortion that causes the same transcontinental flight to land twice three months apart. Each passenger in the earlier landing is found to have an identical other in the later landing, not simply doppelgangers but indistinguishable pairs with the very same helices of DNA.
This got me thinking about how I might respond to such a situation, how I might respond if face to face with my identical other. Aware as I/we are of my/our hesitancy to openly embrace new acquaintances on sight I suspect the need for me/us to feel each other out would be necessary. I/we would need to recall experiences had in common and being psychologically identical make each of me wince in embarrassment thereby confirming I/we are two and the same. Identity issues would likely ensue confusing our social status; would I/we become known as they/them? (No slight to the LGBTQ+ community intended).
Hard to say how it might all play out. Maintaining a distance from us will probably be the best solution.
I’ve been reading scifi lately. I know when I pick up a book of this genre there will be concepts, ideas that will stretch, challenge my understanding of how things can be. A gnomon, the reading informs me, is the part of a sundial that stands perpendicular to the horizontal plane on which the hours of the day are inscribed. In the book Gnomon becomes a metaphor (a being as well) for a conception of reality at odds, right angles, I guess, to what we understand to be so, dealing as it does with extranoematic ideas: concepts that lie outside the confines of human thought.
The story is of a futuristic, Matrix-like surreality of a controlling artificial intelligence that is growing increasingly oppressive, protected as it is by a firewall, ‘Firespine’, but opposed by a few freedom-lovers who would like to see it gone and Apocatastasis to occur, that is the restoration of creation to a condition of perfection. In order to do so avoidance of the planet-sized multiple consciousness, Zagreus (Greek mythology reference here) who absorbs beings that fall within its realm (sort of like the Borg on Star Trek) is necessary.
In the end the author informs us that we all we become Gnomon. I think I’m going to set aside scifi for a while.
I’ve been revisiting the ideas of the dream/reality conundrum as depicted in the Matrix scifi stories. The dream state the films present is so intensely real, there are no give aways, no non-contextual interludes as often happens in actual dreams. The dreamer is unaware that he is physically inactive and sedated, kept alive by chemical means, he’s living a dream.
Anyway, I’ve been finding myself lately mentally wandering off, envisioning imaginary places and situations I’m pretty sure never existed or occurred. But, upon further consideration perhaps these memories are in fact reality and what I’m presently experiencing with pencil in hand is a dream.
I’m really not too concerned, though, because in either case, real or imagined, my experiences are fairly pleasant.
I’ve been reading lately about the complexities involved in understanding one’s sense of smell. Exposures over time to different odors can affect how individuals experience scents in the present. Some smells are undetectable to some people while eliciting strong reactions from others.
Researchers theorize that the smells one grows up with may affect how odors are processed. A dairy farm childhood might elicit fond memories of the smell of cattle manure that differs considerably from that of someone who grew up in the city, whose exposure to the same smell recalls dog excrement stepped in on the sidewalk. Experiencing, assigning quality to odors depends not only on the health of the olfactory receptacles one’s nose contains but also on the variety of scents one has experienced in the past and the psychological baggage that goes with those memories.
I wonder what sort of mindset medieval city dwellers had dealing with the smells of chamber pot content poured from windows, horse excrement in the streets and the flow of human waste through town gutters.
I’ll bet a trip to the country was a breath of fresh air.
I’ve been reading that, in the mid-20th century, natural philosophy was dominated by logical positivism: the idea that truths are established in terms of clearly perceivable facts, such as size, shape, age, quantity, etc. The logical structure of this theory might be thought of as analogous to billiard balls on a table caroming off one another in blind chain-reactions of cause and effect. Such theory rejects value or quality judgements which are subject to individual interpretation, being of opinion or belief rather than fact.
By 1945, as the atrocities of the Nazi death camps were revealed, some thinkers began to see some otherwise subjective value assignments, evil particularly, as having objective validity. Taking Aristotle as a starting point, the dissenters found a biological paradigm to define the natural world: alive and in constant change, developing, reproducing and transitioning. Rather than blind cause and effect everything in nature is in the process of self-directed development.
These ideas have me thinking of a recent experience I had while paddling my canoe along a shoreline. I startled a duck, most certainly a recent mother, who in the interest of her ducklings hidden somewhere in the rushes, put on the most amazing show of feigned injury, flopping along the water, drawing me away from her brood. Choices were there for her to make: stay hidden or risk her life to draw me off; no ‘blind effect’ to the cause there. I’m with Aristotle on this one.
It’s evening. The day has taken its toll. The aches and pains have accumulated over the day’s (relatively) strenuous physical activities. I’m exhausted. I can do little right now but convalesce. Maintaining the mantra: ‘use it or lose it’ is becoming increasingly difficult to voice with enthusiasm. Like others in my aging community vigor and flexibility are diminishing. The unable to perform list awaits and is never empty. Common medical knowledge informs us to cut back our physical (and mental) expectations, don’t push so hard, accept limitations if you wish to maintain your earthly existence.
Morning now. I feel invigorated, competitive again, ready to face any adversity. Age, after all, is experience, an equalizer against youthful exuberance. Bring it on. I’m more than ready for challenge.
As I’ve been recalling, lately, events of my teenage years in the small town I grew up in, I’m getting the eerie feeling that the occurrences I recall didn’t happen as I remember them occurring rather in a world of unreality, a fantasy world that, viewed in retrospect couldn’t ever have been.
Even though my recent remembrances aren’t all happy memories as one might suppose imagining a nostalgic past: I think of unpleasant things and actions sometimes that make me wince at my naivete, the bizarro world I imagine is unreal, the sense I have of these past events and places is unexplainable as being due simply to my youthful lack of worldly knowledge.
Anyway, I’ve been reading about mind parasites that exist, as I understand it, in everyone’s deepest subconscious floating about in the ocean of collective consciousness subtly poking and prodding, manipulating memories in parasitic acquisition that may be detrimental to the unaware driving some to harmful personal behaviors. The only way to counter these parasites is to maintain awareness of their existence but to not call them out, maintain rather a personal center of stability in order to overcome their manipulations. I’m not fully on board with such theory but I guess it doesn’t hurt to stay a bit vigilant; review the past, seek photo references and such.
The science section of the Sunday paper often has an unsettling item or two, usually involving reports by researchers who have determined the dangers of various common behaviors that will likely shorten one’s life. The article that caught my attention most recently warned that alcohol consumption will shrink the brain. Researchers apparently measured brain sizes of some several hundred people and determined that as little as one drink a day will cause one’s brain not only to stop growing but to actually reduce in size.
As I think about this and being aware, as I am, of my forgetfulness as well as the consistency of my inability to come up with the word I want in a conversation, I’m led to believe the researchers may be on to something. The fact that I’ve been consuming alcohol for probably fifty years has me wondering whether dementia may be just around the corner. After all this time it probably wouldn’t make any difference if I quit my daily glass of wine or not; how much smaller could my brain get?
I guess I’ll just have to add alcohol consumption to my other life-shortening behaviors: too much coffee will give me cancer and I can expect diabetes from the sweetened sodas I drink. Such thoughts dim the brightness of the generally healthy lifestyle I see myself living. I guess the realization of life’s fragility will keep me reading such reports even though I won’t be thinking about them too long: shrinking brain, you know.
A recent long road trip had me listening to audio books of the sort providing lots of easy-to-follow action. The books I listen to while traveling are ones I would likely not spend time reading but they’re books I find helpful in passing the time during the long expressway miles.
One of the books I listened to offered believable (but pseudo, I suppose) science that got me thinking. The idea that caught my attention was Spontaneous Creation. The beginnings of life on earth, the book’s protagonist explained, was not due to the Big Bang or an Act of God but by natural physical processes responding to thermo-dynamics, the energy required to ward off entropic disintegration: the idea being that the sun’s heat brings sub-atomic particles into alignment eventually forming complexities that evolve over time into life as we know it.
The idea seemed pretty sound to me but, as the author pointed out the ‘laws’ of thermo-dynamics and entropic disintegration imply the existence of a First Cause, something above and beyond imposing order on the universe. A well-reasoned assumption, I guess, but a cynical nature has me wondering if, perhaps, the author was thinking less about science than about book sales.