Monday, October 22, 2012

If illicit drugs were legal… they would become obsolete

Today we live in a society which prohibits some psychoactive (mood/mind-affecting) drugs and allows some others. Most assumingly believe that these illegal drugs if made legal would impact both the health of users and those around them by being massively available on the market. Unfortunately, those with this assumption don’t understand that it is just that, an assumption taken for granted, with no proof. Many while discussing the topic of legalization may say, “I don’t want to see cocaine or heroin being sold in stores!”. What they fail to see is the fact that such a recreational drug industry would be much like the pharmaceutical industry, always producing new generations of drugs with reduced side effects and more target effects. In other words, if illicit drugs became legal, many of them would become obsolete. New drugs would take their place with fewer side effects, or old ones which work well will be implemented. So the assumption about these drugs being around in their current untreated forms is highly unlikely.

The pharmaceutical industry is a good model for what a recreational drug market could be like. Drugs would be tested for safety of use, with the goal being a mood shift of some kind. This is in contrast to the pharmaceutical industry’s goal of either mitigating or removing symptoms of illness. Interestingly, one part of the pharmaceutical industry reveals itself to be a prototype of the recreational industry: lifestyle drugs. These compounds like Viagra, balding treatment, or Contraception straddle the line between what one wants and needs, with wants being more of a recreational pursuit. This gives us a direction in which we could picture the future of the recreational drug industry.

An advantage of the recreational drug industry would be the proper understanding and handling of what the psychopharmacologist Ronald K. Sigel calls the “fourth drive”, which follows from the other three: hunger, shelter, and sex. This is our drive to alter our mood; this can be accomplished in various ways, but one of the most efficient and direct ways are drugs. Therefore, it makes sense from both a rational and humanitarian point of view to go about satisfying this universal human drive with care and understanding, rather than denial and restriction. The way to do this is to make illicit drugs legal and have them be a part of an industry which improves on them and allows for the access of the proper usage information. We should not keep our current drug policy: denying our natural urge to alter our mood with chemicals, and restricting it to a few compounds which are never improved upon, with little information given about their proper safe use.

An important fact which is never considered is that with such an industry, the current form of illegal drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin would be obsolete and reformed. For instance take cocaine, it could be worked on so that it comes in a form which would bring out feelings of extreme pleasure but without an abrupt crash which causes the user to crave more; rather, they could be satisfied with the experience, thereby allowing it to end. This could be a form of cocaine that is not done through the nose but chewed as a gum. It could also be attached with a time release hypnotic to induce sleep so as to assure the end of the experience. Therefore, one can imagine how these drugs could be improved upon, fitting them in with society and a healthy life. Alternatively, one could engineer a new form of cocaine by altering its chemical structure. This would be like the process of creating designer drugs, with the difference that the goals wouldn't be to merely create new drugs. Instead, the goal of such pharmacological manufacturing would be to create better and safer drugs, not just novel ones.

A concern raised could be what to do about people over doing these experiences. The fact of the matter is that in the real world things need to get done, and people know that. If they find themselves addicted, like many do (with non-drug addictions) they know they can get help in a safe and legal way with little social repercussions. It is just facile to assume that everyone will be completely incompetent and doped up. Many forget that could happen now, but it doesn’t because things need to get done. Also, drug addiction has little to do with "chemical hooks" and more to do with social isolation and depression. An experiment called referred to as "Rat Park" showed that when you gave addictive drugs to rats who were isolated, they almost always got addicted. Yet, if the same addictive drugs were given to rats who had social lives, then the rats would not become addicted, even when forced to have dependency! In that case, they would suffer withdrawals with every redosing, although able to do so. This experiment shows how addiction comes from us being in an emotional cage, cut off from people. But if we are happy with ourselves and surroundings, then addiction is much less likely.

An unseen effect of this industry would be the normalization of recreational drug use, thus removing the stigma and thereby allowing society to have a proper place for this drive of ours. This being a much better alternative to the current “war on drugs” and constant shaming of the desire to fulfill a natural and universal human need.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Do you know how to feed yourself information?

My personal rant becomes a critique on how our US educational system stifles proper learning by not allowing people to learn how to "eat" or process information for themselves, but rather keep them "spoon fed"or uncritically consuming information, leading too mass acceptance of propaganda.

Is our educational system creating people who can feed themselves their own information (being critical and having context) or is it generating people who need to be spoon fed their information (consuming uncritically) by an assuming "authority".

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Line Between Habit and Addiction: Drawn by Society?

Humans are said to be creatures of habit. This is also seen in all other organisms as well: all living things fall into regular patterns of behavior or activity. With that said, some habits can be detrimental or ultimately self-defeating to the organism's health; these habits are called addictions. Technology can provide us with tools that we become habituated to; cell phones are just one example of a habituated tool (people complain they feel naked or missing a limb without their cell phone). What most fail to see, however, is how far the definition of tool, actually extends. Everything we use to accomplish a goal is done with a tool. Therefore, we can see our lives as a continuous series of habits with the various tools we use to accomplish tasks.

Some goals are not as practical as others; yet, that does not mean that there are fewer tools available, or willing to be made so, in order to accomplish these recreational or leisurely tasks. Recreational and other leisurely activities have tools which become habituated as well. For example, many would think that we eat fruits because they're innately good for us. But this isn’t the case at all. The fact is our primate ancestors who had no need for fruit, to maintain a healthy diet (this is because most mammals except for primates make their own vitamin c) developed a purely recreational sweet tooth for sugary fruit (a pollination/fertilization strategy for trees) which they became dependent on. Thus their bodies stopped making vitamin C in much the same way the body stops making endogenous opioids (what some refer to as endorphins) when heroin users are addicted. That is the origin of our dependence on fruits. It's plain to see how what was once done for pleasure becomes a necessity.

With the understanding of how technology provides us with tools to accomplish both practical and leisurely goals, one may ask: what makes some habits become defined as addictions, while others are regarded as socially acceptable? Some would like to think it would be those habits which are detrimental to the individual. However, what's there to say when a whole culture sanctions an otherwise detrimental or potentially dangerous activity (e.g. addiction to shopping, work, legal drugs, food, economic/political practices which support hegemony)? 

Ironically, because of certain potentially dangerous habits becoming culturally sanctioned, the activity becomes less dangerous. If people starting eating fruit (assuming we still made out own vitamin C), would it be seen as an addiction? One can imagine campaigns of politicians telling the public the horrors of citrus in the eye, or cavities, or even how apples can hurt teeth. But most now would see such an idea as ridiculous, although the idea of chemical dependence would still upset most of them (albeit the need for vitamin C being a chemical dependence). It seems that if the society institutionalizes a habit, its chance of harm goes dramatically down. There also seems to be a kind of asymmetry when it comes to illegal habits, they become so dangerous when condemned, relatively begin habits can become detrimental.

All in all, in understanding the line between addiction and habit provided by technology, we see the distinction being mostly defined by the attitude of the consensus. Addictions which are culturally sanctioned cease to be dangerous; and habits which are potentially dangerous become hazardous when made illegal.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Self-Consciousness and Ketamine

For what seems like an eternity, some people have wondered if animals possess the same quality of awareness as humans. In recent years some neuroscientists have stepped forward and proclaimed that their research has pointed to the area of self awareness. They believe it resides in the neo-cortex of the brain which is behind the forehead and is also the most recently evolved part of ourselves. Therefore they believe that as this is a unique part of human anatomy, only humans possess that quality: self-consciousness.

The class of psychoactive drugs known as dissociatives (PCP, DXM, MXE, N2O, etc) work on the NMDA receptors in the brain by inhibiting them. The psychological-phenomenological effect is a disassociation or fragmenting (breaking apart) of perceived elements of the mind such as the senses, cognition (thoughts), and body-self image. A particular kind of drug in this class called Ketamine provides some very interesting insight on the anatomy of self-awareness.

Ketamine was first developed in the 1960s as a derivative of PCP with the intention to replace it. This was a time when the medical industry was looking into the anesthesia effects of dissociatives (because of their ability to separate different parts of the mind from each other). It was seen as a better alternative to PCP because it paralyzed the person more or less; this is unlike PCP which leaves the patient with the ability to move around- a problem considering the person is in a fragmented state of mind. However Ketamine showed the problem of still bringing people into a bizarre inner world. This was called the “emergent phenomenon” as it seems that people emerge into a hallucinatory world. Because of this, its anaesthetizing use was stopped on adults and used only for young children and animals (hence why some refer to it as cat tranquilizer). It was still used because unlike other chemical agents used for anaesthetizing, Ketamine does not cause much harmful bodily side effects like respiratory depression. It only because of the emergent phenomenon that it is not used on humans usually.

Around the 1970s, consciousness researches like John C. Lilly were starting to write about the mental effects of sub-anesthesia doses of Ketamine. They described a world devoid of the familiar outside environment, which is replaced by the mind turned into itself. To explain this in metaphor, think of the mind’s relation to the body and world as a feedback loop; the mind takes information from the body and world and then outputs behavior. Ketamine blocks the signals going to that part of our brain where the neuroscientists believe is the seat of self-awareness: the neo-cortex. Therefore by blocking the signals from the body, world, and rest of the brain, the loop neo-cortex is part of turns on itself; the output of behavior becomes the input of information, without going thought the body or world. This leaves that part of the brain isolated unto itself. That fact will prove to be the most insightful.

The effects of Ketamine at doses which block the neo-cortex from all signals from the rest of the body and world leave one feeling as if they are pure self-awareness distilled from the prior personality and environment. There are anecdotal accounts of people becoming made of light with no real identity to the body or even to humanity and life. Therefore there may be some merit to the idea that this part of the brain is the center or location of self-consciousness because of the experience being so primarily centered on self-awareness and not anything pertaining to the body or the outside world.

Personally I’ve been a subscriber to the notion that consciousness cannot be pin pointed in one spot and is instead more like a gestalt of the interaction of brain-body-world. However this insight provided by the mental effects of Ketamine, in that they make the person feel like a distilled piece of consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, makes me wonder if this location-the neo-cortex- is the location of self-awareness. But I stop there and wont make the step to say that place causes self-consciousness. For all I know that area could be like an antenna receiving rather then generating self-awareness. One should remember, neurological correlations of psychological phenomenon do not necessarily mean a causal link; correlation does not equal causation Thus I stand by original my affirmation that the brain does not cause consciousness, yet I am willing to place importance on the area of the brain in regards to self-consciousness.

One last word on the question whether or not animals possess the same quality of consciousness as we do- our self-awareness. Our neo-cortex being a unique part of human physiology not shared in nature can lead one to assume that animals as a result do not have self-awareness like we do.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Human Dimension: An Imaginative Model of Schizophrenia

In other essays I have written about the unique aspect of human experience which seems to be absent in the rest of nature- the human imagination: specifically the part of the mind that is able to access and create alternative realities or viewpoints of reality (such as day dreaming or planning future events). Animals most likely do not posses this trait because they do not preoccupy themselves with abstract or symbolic affairs like humans do. It seems that animals are only preoccupied with the sole reality of biological nourishment, while humans seek not just biological stratification, but moral, aesthetic, transcendent and many others not tied to biological survival.

With that said, we can call this unique human access to and preoccupation with the symbolic and abstract parts of the imagination: The Human Dimension. Its is a part of the world (dimension) that only humans can inhabit. Thus there is a unique “disorder” which again only seems to effect humans called schizophrenia. I believe that this “disorder” is not an illness in the same way we think of polio or cancer, but rather it is an inevitable part of human variation due to our ability to access the human dimension. That is, it cannot be eradicated nor can it be cured. This is why schizophrenia keeps a steady population without ever going down or up. One will never see an epidemic of this “disorder” like you would with other illnesses. Therefore it becomes clear how schizophrenia is only present within humans because of their unique ability for abstract and symbolic thought (imagination).
I want to take the time to explain how and possibly why schizophrenia is only present in humans. All other mental disorders from bipolar to anxiety is related to biological function, and therefore can be present in animals. For instance, it is imaginable to picture a dog with anxiety, or depression. On the other hand, its impossible to envision a dog with bizarre beliefs or disorganized thinking. This is because unlike humans, animals do no have an imaginative dimension to get lost in like schizophrenics do (more on this later).
Moving on, most mental health professional agree that Schizophrenia is a neural-chemical imbalance, probably of dopamine. They came to this conclusion after seeing that the positive symptoms were treatable with drugs that inhibit the release of dopamine into the synapse. Since then, all psychological explanations for this disorder have been thrown by the wayside in favor of a purely chemical model. I believe that just because one can give a drug (which is like a chemical lobotomy) to someone and see them behave less responsive to stimuli (because the drugs don’t completely remove the symptoms, just handles them) is not a valid reason to think that the “disorder” is caused only by that imbalance. Those kinds of medications/drugs give the same effects to mostly everyone. So why assume, because it gives the same effects to schizophrenics, that its pharmacological action becomes the key to knowing the causation of this peculiar condition. If anything, these drugs are good ways to handle the rough times they may face, but it is not the answer to the causation their mental state.

Although I wont argue that schizophrenia has nothing to do with levels and ratios of neurotransmitters, I will contend that it is not solely a chemical imbalance, rather I think it is a natural variation of human psychology. That is, people with schizophrenia may not have an illness, but instead be a kind of person with the ability to find subtle meaning much more then the average person; an ability that may have had an evolutionary advantage (being why it has not been eradicated) which may have had profound effects on the cause of our idiosyncrasies from the rest of nature. One just needs to think of the figure of the shaman (who resemble schizophrenics) as the prototype for most of human professions unseen in nature: doctor, priest, politician, artist, judge, etc. What may be considered an illness or disorder might in fact be a natural but rare variance of human cognition; one that is crucial to the origins of society and perhaps other creative and useful ideas in history.

It seems that for schizophrenics, they live more in the human dimension then the average person. Because of this, I have developed an imaginative model of schizophrenia which incorporates the three basic levels: paranoid, disorganized, and catatonic. As for the other less known ones like undifferentiated, for now I can just say they fall somewhere on the spectrum that is central to this model.

This model is simple to understand and has two main aspects: (1) a way to prevent and perhaps treat psychosis and (2) a novel theory of schizophrenia that sees it as a spectrum disorder involving varying degrees of immersion in the imagination. It assumes that schizophrenia is not an disorder but a rare inevitable product of human cognition and imagination. With this said, the model acknowledges that if untreated, schizophrenia can develop to a undesirable state which characterizes most schizophrenic mental states today. The model postulates that if treated, the individual may come to understand and accept their condition, not as a problem of society, but as a unique and potentially fragile condition that reserves much respect in society and cultures and may continue to contribute to it through creatively expressive means. This model essentially views the schizophrenic not as an unnecessary invalid, but as a fragile but piquant artist; this latter part must be cultivated through treatment.

The spectrum can be thought of as a line with the left end being the “baseline” of average human preoccupation with the imagination. The right end of the line represents the total immersion in the imagination. In between these extremes we have degrees of immersion in the imagination. Therefore, beginning at the left end “baseline” we find the average person with a foot in two worlds, one of biological survival and the other of the imagination. He is able to daydream and not let it get out of hand. Moving from the left most spot toward the right we begin to leave the baseline of most people and start to enter the field of awareness held by “healthy” artists and dreamers. These individuals may have a profession or lifestyle which fits with their peculiar perceptions. But again unlike schizophrenics, they are not in need of assistance. While on the other hand, schizophrenics need assistance in helping to control their imagination. So moving right of the artists and dreamer we find a point where beyond it the imagination starts to become uncontrollable. The first example of this (right of that point) is the paranoid subtype of schizophrenia. Here, the individuals imagination starts to work against them making them paranoid; their imagination, like an autoimmune disorder, turns on the person, using its resources to make them paranoid rather then helping them achieve their goals. Moving right of the paranoid subtype we find the disorganized who although may not be suffering, is even more immersed in the imagination; they are unable to interact and are continuously engaging with their imagination much more then the paranoid. Whereas the paranoid is obsessed with social affairs with less imaginative influence, the disorganized is obsessed with self-referential thoughts which have much more imaginative influence by virtue of their novelty as contrasted with the mundane sphere of social relations. Finally at the right end of the spectrum we have the catatonic subtype who is characterized by an inability to move and by holding rigid postures for long periods of time. Here we can see the total immersion in the imagination at the expense of the autonomy of the individual. Unlike the disorganized subtype, the catatonic has no autonomy to act out or perform what they feel. Instead they are completely lost in the imagination, not having any room for stability and tangible physical reality leading them, somewhat like the paranoid, to see the world as hostile. Some can be thought to hold their positions in order to regain some form of basic yet fleeting stability.

Thus this model shows how we can both treat and think of schizophrenia in a new way which emphasizes cultivating meaningful expression of their state and a new understanding of how the condition is part of a spectrum of degrees of immersion in the imagination. The aim here is to provide a framework as to give a more positively constructive perspective on this rare but adaptive human variation.

For a more in depth understanding of this model, please read the essay below. The essay was based on an article about the case studies of individuals going through the onset of schizophrenia in early adulthood and late adolescence.

Toward a Model for Prevention of Psychotic Breaks in Schizophrenia

After reading the article “Which Way Madness Lies: Can Psychosis be Prevented?” by Rachel Aviv, I came up with my own idea of how psychosis and not schizophrenia per se can be prevented. My idea is twofold and simple: (1) Meditation practice of at least 10 min every day school day for the general school population. (2) Once the first signs of “pathological thoughts” appear, cognitive restructuring (from CBT&CT) will be applied so the client can approach their sensory and mental distortions with a positive outlook that will enable them to make use out of it in some artistic or expressive way this will give them self-esteem by showing that their illness may hold some promise for them as contributors to culture/society. This along with a whole school career of mediation to help the mind not become overwhelmed by hallucinations and delusions.

Although my idea may appear radical or maybe even bordering on irrational, I came to these conclusions/strong-hunches completely logically and sensibly. My first assertion comes from the fact that mindfulness meditation has been proven to ease the mind and train it through non-judgmental awareness of events to help maintain a sense of equilibrium and balance with emotions and cognition. In other words, mediation helps one achieve more self-control of their mind from external influences. In the article, when Anna started to become aware of her thoughts as pathological she started to become more overwhelmed and freighted. This can be seen as a vicious cycle where a casual weird idea can escalate (because of anxiety). Like a Chinese finger trap, the more one tries to pull away from those thoughts, the tighter the grip of fear and hopelessness becomes. Therefore, I believe if Anna was trained in meditation beforehand in her school years, she would have had the mental discipline to not “freak out” as much and develop more self-control, consequently preventing her psychotic break with consensual reality.

My second assertion is more radical yet it has been reached through the same kind of sound reasoning. I got inspiration for this idea from two main sources, one being the article mentioned before and the other from the first two chapters of the book The Invisible Landscape by Terence and Dennis McKenna. The authors show the correlations between schizophrenia and shamanism(ideas of reference, thought insertion/broadcasting/withdrawal, feelings of numinous/divinity). They conclude that shamans are a kind of sanctioned schizophrenic; the shamans delusions become abilities and are seen as useful. In return the shaman is a functioning and important member of society, although their perceptions are “off-kilter” with most of society. This showed me how a reinterpretation of these psychotic symptoms can cause changes in the schizophrenic themselves, giving them more self-esteem by seeing their illness or particularity as contributing and meaningful to society. Yet we cant tell people they are shamans, that would be wrong as we live in a secular humanistic culture (for the most part in public dealings). In thinking of a secular way of reinterpreting the odd behavior of schizophrenics, I recalled how in the article by Aviv(my second inspiration for this assertion), many of the clients in the COPE program were interested or occupied with philosophical, religious, or metaphysical questions; also the clients including Anna had distortions of self and world(all is particles, expanded or diminished self, etc) which are views that can be philosophically argued to be true. This lead me to think what if we can through the use of cognitive restructuring, help clients approach their pathological ideas and thoughts will the supposition that they can learn to read these experiences and express them though different mediums.

Basically my understanding is that if the clients are able to focus and harness their delusions and visions with the help of mindfulness meditation and cognitive restructuring, the result will be prevention in psychotic breaks, an increased self esteem which will alleviate suffering, and creating new and exciting art works and methods with minds that are not pathological as much as they are extra-sensory(that being that the clients have more access to their unconscious in addition to having unique interpretations of things/events). The best part of all this is that the clients themselves will be better integrated into society not as hopeless misfits but as engaging yet somewhat dysfunctional artists.

I want to note that this idea is primarily for those in the “prodrome” period before schizophrenia. Perhaps it can be applied to the paranoid and even less to the disorganized subtypes to help them regain control; yet there is no hope for the catatonic subtype, for they have let their delusions and hallucinations get the better of them to the point that some of them cannot move for fear of upsetting their reality even more.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Liberty is Natural, Tyranny is Artificial: A New Way to think of Nature, Artificiality, and Liberty

Nature and natural things are seen as more desirable in the general consensus, as compared to artificial things.

Humans are considered not to be natural: in the sense that what ever a human does is artificial as opposed to natural.

Liberty is understood to be the freedom to think or act without being constrained by necessity or force.

Where most westerners see nature as anything not to do with humans and their affairs, the traditional oriental cultures see nature as simply that which left to itself.

So we can apply this idea of nature as things being left to their own devices to the idea of liberty: the human right to be left to make their own choices.

So in this sense, the non-natural is not the non-human. Rather, the non-natural is that thing which is disrupted from its own state of free liberty.

Therefore, the artificial is the natural disrupted of its liberty by some outside force sometimes called tyranny.

With all that said, we can see how much of what we considered to be artificial is really natural. The real artificiality comes from coercive manipulations of things where the manipulator exploits the manipulated- the victim receiving little or no benefit.

In short, liberty unhindered by tyranny is the natural state of things. True artificiality is when one hinders the liberty or nature of another thing.

I believe we should drop the notion of the artificial being what ever the human does. One can include what the human does as natural and apart of nature. We should then exclude from the definition of nature that which is called tyranny.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Philosophy and Science: Contradictory or Complementary?

In other writings I've gone over how philosophy is at the core of everyone's belief system; that the nature of a belief system is to have some fundamental assumption's or axioms that one cannot prove true, but must take for granted.

This leads me to talk about the divide some people see between science and philosophy. Some believe philosophy is obsolete, while others believe it is a tool for science to make sure its conclusions are logically consistent. There are even people (like myself) who believe philosophy is something more then science and has a life of its own so to speak. The former camp which believes philosophy is a tool are called analytical philosophers, while the latter who believe philosophy is beyond science are called continental philosophers.

With that said, I want to quote a continental philosopher named Matthew David Segall:
"As I said already, philosophy (at least as the ancients [and continental] understood it) is a way of life. Science is a profession, a specialized discipline. As such it deserves high praise for all its accomplishments. But it doesn't tell us anything about the good life, about have[ing] love [and] wisdom despite death."

The good life is the belief system we all have. We come to have it by an intuitive choice which we cannot necessarily justify. Therefore, science occupies a much narrow sphere of affairs than philosophy. This is why all sciences end in -ology (meaning the study of) while philosophy ends in sophy (meaning wisdom) and starts with philo (meaning the love of). This shows that science is a much different activity then philosophy. Where science is the systematic description, prediction, explanation, and control of empirical phenomenon, philosophy is the love for discussing and analyzing different belief systems and assertions about the right way (wisdom) to experience life and the world.

Thus science and philosophy are two different kinds of activities, made obvious by the difference in their endings between ology and sophy. Now can we reconcile these two and see them as complementary instead of contradictory?  

Segall's blog where I got the quote from:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Quick Note on Bath Salts

There's a lot of talk about the new obscure drug in bath salts. I want to just clear some misconceptions about this new designer stimulant. First of all, this is not a LSD like drug (not a psychedelic or a hallucinogen). It is a stimulant (a drug that gives energy like cocaine or methamphetamine) drug called MDPV. Second, taking this drug does not in of itself lead to wanting to hurt oneself or others. The violent individuals reported in the media are experiencing stimulant psychosis (the result of binging on stimulants). And just like normal psychosis, only a small percentage turn out to be violent. Third, unlike cocaine or methamphetamine this drug is very cheap and can be bought in bulk legally. Because of this, new users can order their first batch and binge for days because of the amount they posses. Also, there is a great ignorance of the drug itself even by users, so many of them are not aware what is in store for them in when taking this drug. It does not have a stigmatized history like cocaine or methamphetamine.

With that said, there is nothing special about this drug. Its just another stimulant like cocaine or methamphetamine. Its not causing people to hurt or eat each other or themselves anymore then other similar stimulants. (MDPV) (Stimulant Psychosis)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Intuitive Axioms of Science

In this talk I go over the underlying and unconscious assumptions behind what is commonly regarded as truth in this society. Some topics/questions discussed: Is there proof for science? How do we come to choose the scientific model as the right one? Does all truth only exist inside of individual belief systems? Is philosophy at the base of every belief system? Are the roots of science and reason non-rational?
The picture displayed in the video is not mine and is only to remind us of the many point of view of reality- none of them being the truest one.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Human and Tool as One Entity/Identity

It may seem weird at first to consider- but everything we use, as humans, are tools. From clothing to computers, they're all tools. What is a tool? A tool is anything used to achieve a goal. Take a minute to realize how everything you use is a tool; tools help you get something done: cars help you get places, clothes are to warm us, plates helps us eat, etc.

Human tool use may at first seem not so special in light of the many other animals which use tools as well. But one must look more closely at how human tool use differs from non-human tool use. There is one major difference: tool evolution, what non-human animals lack in their tool use. Human tool use advances and evolves with time. This is why chimpanzees are still sticking twigs in dead trees to fish out ants, instead of learning to open the bark up. On the other hand, humans started with flint and rock and now we have smart phones and space shuttles. As you can see, human tool use progresses over time, while non-human tool use remains stagnated. Thus, we can see how human tool use is unique amongst animal tool use for its ability to evolve.

Knowing that tool use evolves in humans, we can claim that humans are identified and are one with their tools. For instance, all of human behavior is performed through some kind of tool, such as in cooking or hunting. One example of an incredible and mysterious human tool is language. This tool allows for communication which is one of the biggest markers of human uniqueness. It is clear that one of the most important features which identify humans as humans is evolving tool use, for it is their tool use which allows and defines their uniquely human behaviors and activities.

If what makes a human is their unique behavior. And their unique behavior is made possible by tools. We can conclude that tools and tool use are what make humans identifiable as humans. This in turn means that the human entity cannot be separated from the tool/tool use because it is that itself which defines it. Humans are evolving tools and tool use, evolving tools and tool use is human.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why Conventional Ignorance (Common Stupidity) gets me Frustrated.

It’s painfully obvious that our American culture, as portrayed by the mass media, prides in stupidity. There is virtually nothing high brow in popular culture. It’s tacitly assumed that intellectualism is not a virtue, but rather a pretentious endeavor that lies outside of practical life. Most consider ignorance to be bliss, which stops them from wanting to expand their intellect. It’s my contention that we as humans are naturally built to use and advance our intellects. I believe the lie that most humans are dumb or not intellectual is one of the biggest factors impeding our cultural and social advancement from resembling our technological progress.

Sadly, one of the biggest examples of the acceptance of ignorance is in schools. For instance, in most schools the learning that takes place is narrowly focused on what it needed to pass. Retaining information is not important for most students; they just want to know how to pass. Many professors don’t help this trend; they, by expecting this attitude form their students, makes them adopt the same attitude and it corrupts their style of teaching. They start to only teach enough so the students can pass. The idea of idle curiosity and the motivation to learn for wonder and understanding is lost. It’s replaced with a mass rush toward the goal of a degree with no attention paid to what happened prior to receiving it. This appalling vicious cycle is ruining the educational sphere of activity and marginalizing it. The result: people who are willfully ignorant and proud of it. They mask their unawareness with vague notions of practicality and “getting to the point of things”. Well, if all they care for is the end and not the means, and death is the ultimate end, then what stops them from suicide? I am being funny, but I digress. The key idea is that acceptance of the ignorant lifestyle is shocking when we consider that one of its biggest factors is the institution created for opening up the mind and intellect. What irony!

One may argue that being ignorant is some kind or right and should be respected. Well I don’t and here's why I think no one should as well: we live in a democracy (its enough of a democracy that politicians use it in their speeches when justifying invading foreign countries). As a citizen, one must be informed and mentally keen to ensure the right policies and representatives are running correctly- that’s why we have a media that informs us and why we have the right to vote. So one can see how in a democracy, intellectualism is a mandate. Without it, how would we be able to make wise decisions in deciding and evaluating the government and its actions? Intellectualism is not a pretentious activity; it is our duty to ensure a proper and civilized society.

No animal spends as much time in a childhood stage as humans do, about 20 years. This is to guarantee a prolonged education. As humans, our greatest ability is the mind and not anything purely physical. What makes us the most adaptive species on the planet is our ability to make tools. Tool use is a function of the mind. If we spent more time cultivating our minds, we would be using more of our innate potential as humans. This would be the most efficient way of maximizing our natural capabilities. Almost all great inventions that helped humans were discovered or invented as apart of idle curiosity or wonder and awe which drives one to know more and further their mental development. This fact is evidence that following intellectual interests is not ultimately pretentious as it benefits humanity as a whole. We are hardwired to learn and increase our intellect.

All these points touch upon the idea that it is very natural and appropriate for humans to increase their intellect. They do it so they can maximize their intrinsic potential and serve the greater good through conscious participation in government and society. It’s a shame that out culture reinforces ignorance and youthful stupidity as valuable and acceptable aspects of human behavior. Children are indoctrinated with media as they grow up. They are taught to think learning is detrimental to their sanity and livelihood. They try to keep education at a slight minimum, when the mockery is that education is continuous throughout all of life. It’s better to prepare for that with a healthy intellect.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Education a Self can be Interested In.

I want to propose a revised form of US education that downplays competition by focusing more on the individual’s self-interest while in school. This way, instead of competition being the main motivation behind schoolwork, it becomes the persons own passions. So the person grows up trying to figure out how to modify their passions into something useful to society as a whole. This would be the aim of schooling, rather then the blind memorization of facts- which eventually leads up to college where the person must chose their life path, whereas up to that point the thought never entered their mind in a serious fashion- a real recipe for disaster.

So in essence, I believe that the only way of bridging the gap economic between the poor and the rich is to redesign our educational system, from one of competition (seeing who gets the best grades, scores, etc) to one of discovering, cultivating, and harnessing a persons self-interested passion.

There is a real world example of this kind of self-interest driven educational system. Finland:

I believe it will benefit the US economy greatly if we educate our people (in higher education as well) in this manner. If this would to be the case, my expectation is the wealth gap closing, because more people are educated without the burden of debt. Thus a true open class society can exist, with free and high quality education as the escalator between classes. Rather then throw money at other forms of welfare, we can devote most of it to providing everyone education. This will end up being more helpful then standard welfare. If we educate people, they can support themselves. Rather then the government supporting them without providing education. Education helps people help themselves.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Loving you means I wouldn't want you to be any other way than how you are.
Where does the passion fit into this? Perhaps love isn't about pleasure. When we look to love to make us feel good, we end up chasing it like an addict chases a high. True love is acceptance. Don't get it twisted... [rant over]

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Glimpsing Cleavages Without Shame

I rarely talk about myself, but I see this as a great opportunity to introduce this notion with a very recent (today) personal story. While I was in my cognitive psychology class, the teacher posed a question to the students. One of the girls sitting across the room from me answered. So naturally I looked in her direction. As she was talking, I could notice that in the periphery of my vision a- might I say wonderful- cleavage presenting itself to me. It belonged to the tall blue eyed, black hair beauty next to me. I took quick peek as I’m inclined to do so quite regularly when the chance arises (no need for shame, this is evolution in action). After the microsecond glance at the “treasure” my eyes came back up and our gazes met. Oh this was a quite an awkward situation. After locking eyes we quickly turned away and buried the uncomfortable situation by fixating our attention on the teacher. Shortly after, she put on her heavy coat and kept it on for the remainder of the class. No one else did this, so I don’t think it was because she was cold. I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed and some what mad that I possibly ruined any chance of friendship between us.
Yet, I feel that I am at no fault. Like I said before, I feel no shame for looking. This is just how my genes express themselves. If anything, she is too stuck up. Doesn’t she understand that I am a man with hormones ranging, and she, with her slim and sexy frame wearing tight reveling clothes, is signaling to my genes strong erotic messages? Why else would a women wear tight or revealing clothes if not to have people glance at them. I can understand the problem with a prolonged unbroken gaze; in that situation I agree that the person is over stepping their boundaries. A quick glance is not the same as a prolonged gaze because the latter displays an uncontrolled quality which may lead to impulsive behavior, like rape. On the other hand, a quick glance shows an ability to restrain behavior which means one is in control of their actions. Therefore, we can say that a prolong gaze at a women’s figure is offensive because it displays the potential of carrying out impulsive and potentially dangerous behavior; but a quick glance is acceptable and even expected.
All in all, women shouldn’t feel offended when someone glances at their revealing frame or cleavage. If they didn’t want to be looked at in those areas, they wouldn’t wear clothes that reveal them. So men, glance freely with no shame, you are acting out the dance of life/gene maintenance. And women, if you don’t want to be looked at, cover up your body more. You cant expect men not to look. Its in their biological make-up to look/glance!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Post-Metal/Rock as Metaphysical Music

Post-Metal/Rock depicts the interplay of light and dark elements through varying shades of density (represented by low tuning, a thick/heavy sound, and loud distorting feedback) and clarity (represented by clean mellow passages, with a soft/light feel). These elements of density and clarity can be epitomized as the classic forces of light and dark or shadow. With that said, we can imagine post metal and post-rock music as depicting instances of the interplay of opposites (light and dark), by illustrating the varying levels and shades, in their musical progressive passages, as they range from density to clarity and vice-versa. The compositions come out in an organic way (unlike the verse-chorus-verse structure of most music) due to this interplay. Thus, because light and dark are usually the metaphors for the two metaphysical powers- positive and negative- which shape and create all that there is, we can see how post-metal/rock music depicts the varying shades and degrees of density and clarity, and the progressions between them. Ultimately we can call this style of music metaphysical in a sense.

PS: I just want to add that I also find an unifying water element in post-metal music. It is as if the music is symbolic or an overall metaphor for water, the sea, and the changing tides which include storms. The progression of the songs can be analogized to the ways waves pick up and clam down on the surface of the ocean.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Forgiving Everyone For Everything

Alan Watts once said, “To understand all is to forgive all.” That is, when we are fully aware of something- we know its history and make up- we find it hard to blame it for anything, because we see it shaped by forces not controlled by itself. In other words, the thing in question is seen only as reacting to circumstances outside of it, thereby removing any accountability for its status. We see it as a product of its environment.

As a psychologist, one studies behavior. The peculiar thing is that when you start to understand behavior, you forgive it. Where before one would have been appalled or offended by a given action, now one feels sympathetic and does not judge the person rashly or harshly. One reaches a place where all behavior is seen as a reaction to environmental factors outside the complete control of anyone.

When one comes to that realization, its supremely hard to get mad at anyone. Should psychology be taught in public schools to help people become more aware of behavior in general so they are more forgiving when they meet people with different ways of expressing behavior? I think so.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Recreational Drug Use is a Right!

In the same way that we have the right to eat for pleasure as much as we want in light of all the health consequences, we should have the right to use recreational drugs in light of the health consequences. Unlike like drugs, we don’t ban food. We educate people on what is healthy behavior and unhealthy eating behavior. The same should be done with drugs. We must provide people the resources to educate themselves on the real (not politically biased) information about these substances and allow them the liberty to make informed decisions. Just to drive the point home, in the 90’s when it was made clear that there was a direct link between cancer and smoking, more then half of smokers quit. This shows that even for very addictive drugs like nicotine- which is considered to be as or even more addictive then heroin- information alone, not law, has the power to help people make healthy decisions. To make drugs illegal for the harm they cause some would be like making junk food illegal because some people eat too much of it. The same can be said about sex, we don’t make it illegal because some are careless and get STDs or unwanted pregnancies. Making drugs illegal for some of the negative health reasons is like making sex illegal because of STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and rape.

We have the right to use recreational drugs. What makes drugs dangerous is not its direct their affects, for alcohol is known as one of the worse drugs in that case. There are three major reasons why illegal drugs are dangerous. First they are illegal which makes their use criminal and makes one become alienated from the mainstream of society. This is very dangerous because one loses their rights to live a free life and they must keep their secret from others which may wear down the person greatly. Second, the quality of the drugs themselves is uncertain. As they are illegal they don’t go through any kind of inspection for purity. So one never knows what exactly they are getting; this can pose a risk as one has no idea of the dosage or presence of other substances. Third is the collective ignorance of the drugs affects and safe ways of using it. We all know you shouldn’t drive drunk. We also know one shouldn’t drink more then a few beers if they don’t drink much. Many of these common sense ideas about safe drinking are known as harm reduction when applied to illegal drugs. The problem is that as they are illegal, so no use is condoned making it hard for one to find good advice on how to use them safely. Harm reduction techniques help this problem but are not the end solution. The fourth and least harmful thing about illegal drugs is their direct affects. Because it’s when the first three aspects are taken care of- they aren’t illegal, the quality is pure and the dosage is accurate and truthful information about the drugs are available- do the health affects become a bigger issue. If the first three aspects are not dealt with, then they become the bigger hazard then just the direct health affects of the drug. Thus the health affects are of least concerned when compared to the first three aspects.

All in all, the pursuit of inebriation or alteration of consciousness is a born given right for us. Sure there are risks, but so does anything worth doing. Starting a business or bungee jumping have their risks. Imagine if we made them illegal? People would still try to sell stuff and gets their adrenaline flowing. But if it was illegal, they wouldn’t have safe jump cords, or police to settle disputes, or safe places to jump from, or secure locations to sell things from. The point is that there should be no reasons why we can’t use recreational drugs, if we have the liberty and responsibility to live our lives in the pursuit of happiness.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dulling Occam’s Razor

All students of science are taught the rule of parsimony, also known as Occam’s Razor. It’s understood to be one of the fundamental ways science interpreters the data it collects. It states that if there are two explanations for a given phenomenon, and both are equal in their explanatory power (whatever that means- we will return to this idea later) then the explanation (or theory) which is simplest, is favored over the more complex one. The value science gains from this law reflects its logical-mathematical tendencies; the logic in mathematics are about solving through simplifying. So naturally, science would adopt a rule to solve problems which favors the most simplest answer; just like in math where one answers a problem by simplifying the equation to its simplest possible form.

The idea of Occam’s Razor or parsimony can be traced back to William of Ockham. He was an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher. Basically he was a logician working for the church. The idea behind using the word razor was that one should “slice thin” explanations and theories.

Now I believe that the fact that this rule fits so well with the logic found in math is only a coincidence. William was not a scientist. He was not even an empiricist. He was a subordinate of the church, albeit a high ranking one. Therefore when he came up with this idea he did not have in mind the logic of math and its usefulness in science. Instead he was thinking about finding a way of using logic to defend the position of the church, and the position of the church is god. God is the simplest explanation for anything. If anyone asks for an explanation, say god did it.

Now with all that said, I side with the instrumentalist position in the philosophy of science. Therefore I am inclined to point all this out in order to show that this rule has its origins in something very anti-scientific: defending dogma. Therefore I feel science does it self a disservice by cutting out theories only because they are more complex. The law shouldn’t be implemented only because it reflects the logic of mathematics; its origin are not scientific. The world does not reflect perfect logic, and theories shouldn’t have to either. I can understand the value in simple theories, but let us not be deceived by appearances. Complex explanations and theories may be just as valid.

Finally, what does it exactly mean to have two explanations or theories equal in their explanatory power? Is there an objective test? If so, I have never heard of it. I believe this is a major logical hole in the rule. How can we be the convinced that any two theories are equal in their explanatory capacity?

We need to rethink what it means to use Occam’s razor in light of its historical/cultural contexts and the major hole in its logic. With this in mind, hopefully, we can save possibly valuable theories that were once “sliced away”.

Meandering Existential Reflections

A Psychedelic Trip Report

It’s been a while, about a year since I last took a trip. It was an unexpected call which gave me the news of Lucy’s availability. The caller, whom I known for a year or so, asked me if I would test a tab out to see if it was any good. I hesitated at the idea of tripping so suddenly without preparation. It was a rule of mine to have at least three days before a trip to prepare for it properly. Nevertheless, my girlfriend at the time asked me if I could take it because she wanted to sell some of it to her friends. So eventually I called back the dealer with the Lucy, call him D. I told him I would try out the tab. On my way to his house I quickly assessed the situation. It was a sunny Friday afternoon in mid-October. The weather was very pleasant and the sun's rays seemed to be more golden then usual. I took this to mean some kind of good omen for the trip. Buzzing with good vibes, I entered his house. I asked him why he or one of his friends couldn’t test it out. This question was asked out of suspicion regarding the fact I don’t hang out with the guy much at all, our relationship is one of business. He answered saying that he nor had his friends the time to. He informed me that the tabs were "double dipped" meaning that they received twice the dose of a normal tab. in other words they were strong. I put two hits in my pocket and told D I would call him later as I started tripping to let him know if the product was good.

I walked home to freshen up. I decided I would take a tab and walk around the wooded area of the park. I left my house and walked in the direction of the park. A few blocks from my house I dosed. Once in the park I spit out the tab and searched for a place to sit with a view. I found an open field on the side of a hill. At the top of the hill was a concrete railing that was wide enough for me to sit on. I put on my headphones and mp3 player that I brought with me and played some Meshuggah. I quickly got bored of sitting and felt the desire to walk toward the wooded area. The park's wooded area surrounded a man made lake the size of a few football fields. Most people didn't walk through the wooded area. This made for a nice and quite slice of nature in the middle of a semi-urban neighborhood in the shadow of one of the most popular cities in the world. So I enjoyed this sliver of the park a lot. As I crossed some baseball fields to enter the wooded area, I decided to call a classmate who was interested in psychedelics. He was excited to hear that I was tripping and he wanted to know everything that I was expecting. My classmate, call him S, never had any history of psychedelic use. As I was walking the trail through the wooded area I started to feel as if the top of my head was opening up. I figured this would be where the crown chakra is located. I entertained that idea for a while.

My thoughts began to carry some kind of soft inertia in my headspace. Everything I was looking at seemed to get brighter, especially the way the suns rays would land on the park floor after being filtered through the leaves of the trees. Walking this quite and deserted trail, I was broadcasting to S my reflections of the current situation I was in. Suddenly I started to feel anxiety. Without giving a hint of my changed mood to S I started to walk out of the wooded trail. As I got back to concrete I found myself by the man made lake. I walked in the direction of my house. The lake had mostly joggers at that time of the day. Passing them, I started to "read in" to their behavior. Now, I am a psychology student so I am used to inferring reasons for peoples behaviors. But what I was doing at that moment was grotesquely over done. I felt as if I would feel the person’s whole life, as if I could tell by the way they were jogging or walking how they feel, their life history, and most disturbingly their problems. It was just misery walking past me over and over. I would look into the faces of the people and feel their sadness, their suffering, their grief. In hindsight I believe I was projecting my emotions on to people here. Although there may as well have been miserable people there, by no means it could have been all of them. I got out of the park and started to walk home. All the while I was loosing the ability to keep a logical conversation going, I kept apologizing to S because of this, but he seemed not to mind it.

I reached my house and went strait to the backyard. At this point I started to notice my headspace become enlarged/expanded. I was referring to the state as hyper-space because there was more (hyper) space for me to think in. At the time I was rambling on, giving one-line philosophical notions and questions which got a few awe-filled responses from S. I looked up into the sky as the sun was setting, I couldn’t see the sun itself, but was I did get to see was completely new to my eyes. I saw the line between the light part and the dark of the sky part progress toward the western horizon. It was amazing. After about an hour of talking time with S the conversation was ended. I’m not sure if it was me or him who ended it. All I know is that the last thing we talked about was some of my regrets and shortcomings. That is probably what brought the talk to its end.

After I hung up I continued to hang around my backyard and garage. My head was still filled with the negative thoughts from the tail end of the conversation. At this point I remembered my duty to report the value of the tab. I called D and told him the tab is good and that I was heading over to his house for some weed and more tabs (to sell). On my way there I got a chance to listen to my mp3 player again. I haven’t touched it since I got on the phone. Two tracks were heard. They were both songs I have heard many times, but this time I heard new things. It was awesome. It was as if I could feel the gestalt of the song. I felt as if I was there with the band in the studio while they were recording. And all at once I would feel the whole histories of the different musical styles of the music. It was like seeing the numerous threads of influence and picturing how they all tie up into the song which I am listing to. I also interpreted the meaning of the songs in new ways which have still lasted with me till this day. This is one of my favorites things about psychedelics- their ability to allow one to hear one song in many ways and give it fresh meaning which pertains to ones own life. It’s like the psychological notion of "ideas of reference".
Once I got to D's house again I was surprised to find a female coming in a few moments after me. She was a pretty petite brunet covered in tattoos. She even had a tattooing machine with her, along with a small cute black kitten. Her presence made me feel on guard, more then I was already. She was surprised to find out I was tripping alone. I figured she is used to always tripping with people. D asked if I wanted to smoke a blunt and I agreed. As the herb was being rolled up, I explored his house as I was feeling the mental stimulation from the LSD. I find some occult books. I attempt to read one to no avail, I just keep losing concentration. The sound of footsteps fills the room as I look to see who is coming into D's house. It was a few of his customers that I don’t know at all. I stayed in a separate room as he delt with the patrons, fearing I would look comical. After the transactions were finished I’m called back into the main room to smoke. Upon entering I see that they customers had left. We begin to smoke and I’m told that some old friends of mine are coming over to buy some weed. These two girls, call them H and F were part of my chilling circle back when I was part of one. Now I keep to myself, like a hermit. Of course when they came they told me how much they missed me. This reminded me of the hypocrisy, the lies, and the lack of respect I experienced while hanging out with that group. So my greetings toward them were restrained and a bit aloof. At this moment the weed smoking was done and I needed to meet my GF to give her the tabs. I excused myself from D's house headed toward my house.

The plan was to meet my GF at the time L and give her the tabs so she can sell them at a mark up to her friends. I was given a discount on the tabs in return for my willingness to test them. On my way home I started to feel anxiety swell. As I crossed a two way street the reality of the moment stepped in. I was tripping balls in the middle of the street and on the verge of going into a negative thought loop. In hindsight I believe it was the weed which brought up the anxiety. I made my way home trying to keep composure. A block from my house I saw L with her hands out. Her demeanor stank of infidelity. I felt as if she was cheating on me with her friends. The way she was asking for the tabs and telling me how she is going to meet them up to sell, it felt as if I could read in-between the lines of her behavior. She would say I need to go see so and so and then as she said their name, she would grunt and do a small pelvic thrust. In hindsight I was projecting my insecurities onto her. I was supposed to go with her in my car as she drove to drop off the tabs. But the state I was in had me paranoid and wanting to stay in my garage. She left and I shut myself in my garage.

I started to bring some attention to the visuals I was having. It had been about an hour and a half since I dosed the tab and the visual affects from the LSD were becoming apparent. I turned off all the lights in the garage and left the door to the yard ajar. The slit of white light coming from the crack in the door was making itself much known to me as I stood in the middle of the dark garage. The perfectly motionless and strait light started to wax and wane. The whiteness took on a milk-creamy visual texture to it. The bending and curving of the light was felt inside of my chest. Every wane would be felt as if there was a flexible material band, resembling the light, inside my body. This entertained me for a little while before I started to plunge into the existential abyss. I turned on the garage lights and shut the door. The plain white light from the florescent tubes emanated this humming that to me signified the perceived emptiness of my life. My thoughts started to feel as if they were neurotransmitters hitting receptor sites. But that is exactly what thoughts are. Every idea was a receptor site being docked by a neurotransmitter.

After about a minuet of that sensation I felt another strange event come on. It felt as if the boundary between the inside of my mind and the world started to collapse. My thoughts started to become the things around me and vice-versa. I started to walk around a table over and over. I had my hands clasped as if in prayer and I was repeating a phrase which I don’t recall, it felt like a mantra. Walking this circle around the table, I felt that my path around the table became a circle portal. Then it dawned on me that I was a soul at zero. Whereas before I would pride myself in my spiritual advancement, I was then realizing that I was the farthest I could be from god/enlightenment. The "soul at zero" phrase is an album by the band neurosis. It was like my karma was at its most negative. I felt unworthy of life and a waste of it. Then I stopped my circling of the table. Standing strait up me looked around the garage. I blurted out a noise from my mouth. This sound was the big bang or the start of it all. And every second afterward I felt the progression and complexitification of matter. I saw none of this visually but instead experienced it emotionally. I cannot describe this sensation very well with words. It was an experience of pure emotion, as if it did not come from my prefrontal cortex, but rather from my reptilian or limbic brain. I was in awe of how the universe unfolded into the event of my life. It is so strange that how supposedly out of complete chance my existence as a reflecting awareness comes into being. A meaning maker in a seemingly meaningless universe. What a lofty mystery it is to be alive.

Then as if in a whisper, I softy hear a piece of divine insight. "You Are The Still Silent Space Between All Things." Once comprehending the idea, I looked around the garage to see it through the lenses of this insight. I saw many things around me. All these things around me, I am what’s in-between them? At the time, I took that to mean that I am no single things, but rather what allows anything to be anything: the space which things are in. "I am empty space?" what an anti-climatic piece of information to dwell over. But as I started to really focus my attention on not the things themselves, but what was between them. My self, my thoughts, my true self is not any of these. My true self is silent still empty space. I am nothingness? This left me feeling quite mystical but confused- which is the norm in these kinds of experiences. How can I learn to identify myself with that space in-between things and not any thing itself? I pondered this riddle until L came back.

Once home me and her went inside my house to watch a movie. The negative feelings I had felt before were still lingering and started to swell again once I and L settled in my room. I started to feel self-pity as I reviewed my life and my relationship with L. She was sober and not in the mood to hear my philosophical meanderings and negative evaluations. The weed I brought from D earlier came into my mind and I turned on my vaporizer. Between the lingering anxiety and the lack of concentration given to the film, it took a long time to actually prepare a vapor balloon for our enjoyment. As we started to get into bed for the night- this being about 10 hours into the trip- I glanced over toward my closet doorknob. It was a fake crystal which seemed reflect fractals galore inside of it. Laying in bed with L I started to drift off, watching the last bits of the visual disturbances of dancing color behind my eyelids.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Transparency of Efficient Utilities: How problems keep us awake and why a perfect world would resemble deep sleep.

Just like the lyrics in this song bring up: we love problems because they entertain and arouse our attention. Without them, we would perhaps not find anything worth paying attention to...

Heidegger brought up in his Being and Time that when something works well, we fail to notice it. He used the example of a pencil: we only notice the pencil when it breaks and not when we are using it. When the pencil works up to expectation we focus on other things. But when it breaks our attention is brought to the pencil. Therefore, we can say the same of any utility. For instance a limb. We almost never notice out arms. We do think about where to put them, but we hardly ever think about the arms themselves. Its only when they have some kind of deviancy that we start to think solely about the arms. So when the arm is injured we think of the arm. When the arm is well we think of what is done through the arm.

We can postulate that: as long as a utility is efficient, its presence is transparent, in that we pay no mind to the utility itself.

If we think of the adage “time flies when your having fun” we can infer that when all is well and we are content/happy, our sense of time quickly runs to its end, so that it seems as if the fun affair was an altogether brief one- compared to what happens before or after. This means that having fun, which may be the most efficient use of ones time in a satisfactory sense, causes time or reality in general to flyby. So let us assume for a moment that one always had fun and there was no end to it. It would be reasonable to say that time would flyby. But would it flyby so fast that it ceases to exist? As times of joy seem like quick flashes compared to periods of plight, a time of joy with no boundaries to contain it would be so fleeting that perhaps if we would to experience it, the experience would not be noticeable in much the same way that our experience of efficient utilities is not noticeable.

If we take the experience of time to be something that can be utilized more efficiently through having fun, then we can say that time would become transparent and we would not notice it at all. So having fun removes the notion of time from us by making it not a problem, because in times of joy one does not experience stress or anxiety which are the essential reasons we bring attention to time.

Thus through the lens of that adage we can see this phenomenon of transparency of efficient utilities as telling us that time is only noticeable when we have something that interrupts our fun. The founder of Gestalt therapy F.S. Perils in his book Ego, Hunger, and Aggression stated that time exists as a tension between meals. That is, we don’t notice time when we are full, because our cares our satisfied, and we notice time when we are hungry, because we begin to focus on the a future event, which in turn creates a hunger-tension which is experienced as time duration.

Taking a step further we can imagine the logical conclusion of our technology in providing satisfaction. If this were to happen, and all our desires were met, we would perhaps lose all feeling for time. What would become of us when time is not an issue anymore? Well if we follow the logic above concerning the transparency of efficient utilities and apply it to this thought, we can conclude that time would become transparent when it is not an issue for attention anymore. But what does it mean to exist without time as a constant in our attention? If such a state were possible, and we had no problems to make time a concern, how would we behave? How would we think? What about us would change?

I believe if all utilities were brought to maximum efficiency, then all experience would fall into something resembling deep sleep- deep sleep meaning a state of mind devoid of conscious attention. That is, when there are no more issues and all runs smoothly in our reality, then our attention becomes nullified as it is only brought up when there is something to be fixed or a problem to be solved. Thus a perfect world, in terms of every satisfaction being met, would cease to become a focus of attention. Thus as no attention is brought to anything, the perfect world resembles deep sleep. We may as well be awake but we wouldn’t know it. Only when something comes to disturb the peace/efficiency/fun does attention spring up and existence once again becomes something to be experienced.

We owe our problems a great gratitude. For without them, we would have nothing in reality to experience. A perfect world free from pain or problem has no reason to be looked at, problems are what bring us into experiencing the world. Without them we would not have any reason to experience reality.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cutting The Breaks On Ostentatious Glory

A Dream Interpretation

The windshield wipers stood no chance to the heavy rain. It was nearly impossible to make out the road. “Hold steady now, we all go through storms like this from time to time.” I told myself in an attempt to calm my shouting nerves. The road was on top a long bridge much like the Florida keys highway, only this one would have tight spiral like turns. I felt the road more then I could see it, and I started to feel it turn. I had no idea how wide the turn was so I started to break. “What the fuck!?” was what I shouted when I found that my foot on the break did nothing to the car’s momentum. They were cut! My only chance was to go with my gut on measuring the angle of the turn. I started to impulsively turn the wheel, trying my best to put all my attention to the feeling of the tires on the road. The car was gaining speed and it was becoming harder and harder to feel out the tires. Then, like a clasp of thunder, the passenger side of the car crashed into the edge railing. I still hadn’t fully engaged the actuality of the crash with its loud crunch, when I suddenly felt no road under the car. I was in mid air falling toward the sea. The feeling of falling was reminiscent of the downward part of a roller coaster. It felt like my navel traveled up my chest to my throat. The front end smashed hard onto the water. The surface tension from the drop must have made the impact similar to crashing into a wall. As I recoil from the front-end impact my shoulders get drenched in very cold salty water. Shivering took over my whole body as I frantically moved around in my seat for a futile impulsive attempt at warmth- this phrase futile impulsive attempt at warmth became the summery of my life as I watched it flash before my eyes. The warmth was happiness. Breathing in the ice cold liquid, my throat bubbles as I draw my last breath.
I awake to discover that was all a nightmare. Seems right as I don’t usually find myself on murky remote bridges in the middle of stormy seas. But what did all this mean? Most people will stop the inquiry here and continue on with their day. No not me. I read in-between the lines. If not for anything else, for the sake of art. A good label to place on this introspective analysis of the random ink-block which is dream interpretation. I favor the gestalt therapy method of alienating aspects of the dream and interrogating those fragmented pieces. I like this method because it involves role playing which is fun for escapists like me.
My choice part to alienate was the fact that my brakes were cut. So I imaginatively sat down the breaks and asked it, “Why were my breaks cut?” The breaks answered, “Because you wanted the glory so that was the fight to get it.” I of coursed played both roles. I was surprised at the answer because I gave the brake’s response spontaneously, with no forethought. The statement was steadily absorbed into my mind.
Do scars double as marks of valor? Or are they futile impulsive attempts at happiness? The asker requests glory not for the better of the whole, but as a way to impress onto that whole his outstanding ability. Now that the pain and the stress have come, one really gives up their essentially hedonistic endeavor. For they realize that to endure the pain, one needs something beside theirselves to live for, and a hedonist only lives for themselves. So seeker of fame, leave the glory to the pure of heart who are brought to glory not by their intention for it, but by the call of the given situation, which sparks inside of them the courage to fight for the ones they love. The hedonist in search of fame/glory cannot find the peace that comes with self-sacrifice- the essential ingredient of well deserved fame.
Where was it in my life that I was striving for glory for the wrong reasons? The dream could be warning me that duties taken on for the sake of popularity will reveal themselves to be too much to handle for those with such shallow aspirations.
I wonder how common this phenomenon is. I also wonder what becomes of the ones who reach that point of pain and then realize they cannot go on. What do they do? Well in my dream I died. And the dream is only a metaphor for reality. So what would be the metaphor for death? The end of something? The end of pain? The end of that particular endeavor and dream? Whatever it turns out to be, it certainly isn't the end to action. For if I would be wrong in my desires, I can always desire other things, or learn to desire things less. The latter is called Buddhism. Should I be a Buddhist?
Dreams are tricky to interpret. There might as well be no definite answer. But the point may not be the answer. It may rather be the search or journey itself. Meandering can at times be the best way to find hidden treasures. And introspective interpretation is no different in being able to find hidden meaning in between the lines of dreams.

Lyrical Interpretation of Lycanthropy by Fear Before

to ruin the illusion?
Is this primal or futile?
Is this instinct or evil?
Is this right or wrong?

The consensual reality is an illusion. That is, it is not permanent and can vary. That’s why we can have different cultures in a single area. But when one has the opportunity to see beyond their reality (like with a psychedelic drug)- not to see another one, but to see a more primal, fundamental, essential reality which may underlie and/or predate our waking/ordinary reality- and they return to this reality and see how people are trapped in maladaptive violent practices which did not at all reflect the harmony and interdependence of all things witnessed in that experience outside of consensual reality, they begin to suffer from the feeling of being trapped in a hostile reality. So is it wrong to ruin the illusion of a blind social construction? Or should one stay ignorant, not dispelling the illusion? Or should one strive toward keeping accord with one’s self-truth and evolve and adapt in consequence to it’s lessons.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Now I

I can't believe

Believe what I see

See in front of me