My short-term memory isn’t what it once was. I find myself, while visiting with a new acquaintance, forgetting her name before the conversation is over and twenty minutes after dinner is over, I’ve forgotten what I just ate and how many times while retrieving a needed item I’ve forgotten what I was retrieving. I guess I find these small memory slips more amusing than concerning but the realization the issue is a symptom of age and is degenerative is undeniable.
The upside, though, of short-term memory loss is I’m less inclined to hang onto negative occurrences. Experiencing the moment in terms of past memories leaves time for contemplation. It’s good, I think, to feel a sense of peace in aging.
I’ve been reading about the various ways the human soul is perceived by various religious traditions as well as non-believers. In most cases the soul is seen as an entity that remains in existence after death of the body. For those uninclined toward religious dogmatisms the soul may, if accepted as existential at all, likely lack individual identity and will, after death, merge into a collective unconscious, a mindless and immaterial essence.
A common religious perspective has the soul maintaining the identity, personality and memories of the individual from which it emanates. If one is to experience the benefits of heaven or the eternal miseries of Hell such a soul will be necessary, even as such a belief may be a strain on the thoughtful faithful who may have trouble with the idea of a functioning dead brain.
Another concept of soul can be found in the scifi realm. A ‘cortical stack’ situated between the brain and spinal column containing one’s identity is found to be portable. This ‘personality package’ can be transferred once one’s body wears out into a fresh physical specimen creating in effect a new you. Belief in such futuristic technology will certainly be a significant strain on even the most avid of scifi proponents.
Anticipating a future reality beyond life as we know it is something humankind has been contemplating for millennia and it’s pretty compelling for many of us to continue to do so. Contemplation is never a bad thing.
I’ve been reading about the conflicting philosophical thinking occurring among the dons of Oxford in the early 20th century. Conventional exegesis centered on issues of morality, how to think about the idea of the ‘Good’ in action and deed, whether there existed an intrinsic moral intuition directing man’s behaviors.
In opposition to such thinking, others maintained issues of morality were beyond the realm of obtainable knowledge, had no truth value, since such knowledge is dependent on the opinion, state of mind, of the individual thinker. The only knowledge obtainable, the logicians determined, will be found in mathematically verifiable constructs, truths within the bounds of scientific investigation. The Ethicists responded that man’s behaviors are much richer, rely on moral constructs and consist of a multiplicity of remembrances and inputs not reducible to mathematical formula.
I guess the atrocities of World War II must have brought the discussion of Good and Evil back to the philosophical table for everyone.
I’ve been reading about a new technology: a computer chip inserted into one’s pointer finger along with a screen capable of projection implanted into the palm of one’s hand. A truly personal computer available to everyone.
Well, SciFi you know, but an intriguing idea. What a great innovation it would be. We’ll no longer have to keep track of I. D.’s or credit cards. It’ll be a communal data base, essentially a hive mind, a collective intelligence making everyone smarter and more informed.
But, I suppose, on the downside, one becomes an identifiable cog subject to not only AI algorithmic manipulation but in danger of persecution if malevolent entities gain control of the hive, which then may devolve into uncritical conformity.
I guess new innovations will almost always come with a downside.
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.