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fox hunt lane

Feb. 27th, 2011 | 03:10 am

Heels Found Black:
A deep breath facing graveyard things.

I would have built you a house, if we had found level ground. You stacked the odds under our bedframe, as if I wouldn’t think to look there.

“Watch my shadow, not me.” you said, as we danced. That was the day the birch tree finally died. We waited, then stacked it to dry. The bark dusted your dark coat and I read your sighs like tealeaves.

We Washed You:

I stretched long, breathing the apple blossom morning. I ran my mind into the edges of my skin, owning it while I could. Sun through dusty windows outlined your weight against this world, your reality. We washed you in the giant tub. I rubbed your red teeth, your fingernails, your smeared and stained passion. You, who are not ghost. You, of flesh and bone and juice, who laid joyous in white sheets like a shroud.

There are times when dens must be abandoned, when they become uninhabitable. I escaped to the treetops, lost in the air above. You played below with stones and grass, covered in sensation, never calling me angelic.

Between the bark and the wood labyrinth builders slowly chew. The oak will not succumb for a thousand builder lifetimes. But when it falls, they dance for the generations.

You slept peacefully in November, and I curled beside you, feeling your whirring and buzzing through your lungs, like electric crickets. I found a heart of bees pulsing in you, speaking in languages you (nor I) can know. When you leave they will fly forth and bears will ask your bones for honey. They will ask it with sharp teeth and tender paws.

yes, yes I am coming. no, I will not wait for you.

Grand Central Station:

Your laugh touched the gilded ceiling and took years to float back down upon us. I had forgotten your soundless mouth when the notes rained around me. Trains came and went, but we sat on the benches, our sea-green luggage unused. You may still be there at the station for all I know, wearing my careful braids piled on your head like a crown of snakes. The outline of where you slept radiates in the spring when the jets go over. I carved what you were called in algae in the fence posts so you can find your way back.

Pigeons beat the rhythm of your hips, and I am close to deciphering the messages you left me in tapping school-teacher heels.

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Herons and Power plants

Feb. 13th, 2010 | 02:05 pm

The world grows bright as herons watch. My mother was born in a town named Heron - but I could not convince them we were kin. As I walked along the break-wall, they warily waited to see how near my path across the rocks would come. Too close and they'd rise with slow wings beating large against the air. Their majesty seemed an artifact from a time long-past, part of a dynasty whose descendants still wander as beggars among us.

I relearned a love of silence that summer. I rode my bike alone at dawn, my tires spinning lightly on the pavement or crunching on the gravel, distinct in the sleep-silence. In those days I would swim in Ontario every morning, usually the only person on the shore. Sometimes a distant figure would appear against the shore, but that was rare. Like the herons, I'd watch them warily, modest.

Under the cool water, fresh morning light moved in ribbons across the rocky bottom. I once spent a lifetime looking for patterns in waves and died pleased, though none were ever discovered. Sliding through, skin bright and pale, the strange sounds of a water-filled vastness surrounded and separated me from the world, leaving me clear and full. In isolation it is easy to be innocent. Ontario has more dresses than I have moments, none the same blue or green. Familiar rocks are always slightly changed - a bit of foam or seaweed, a new arrangement, each day was delight. Constant yet ever varied, like a self persisting through time with minimal memories.

It was the summer I talked to the plants on my windowsill. I watched firmness of the the lower leaves of the jade plant fade, the energy moving up into new leaves, strengthening the hard stem as it grew taller. In those days I was sick to death of self-righteous cleverness and feints within feints. I sought simplicity, and I found it, mostly.

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sleepless wild, beneath the bramble

Feb. 1st, 2010 | 11:45 pm

We set down our pencils, hearts tired from tracing and retracing to a point beyond comprehension. These lines will never form the same image, stubbornness subsides. The true skeptic is an accursed breed. The blanket of certainty blown away long ago, he stands bare before the gale without the comfort most enjoy. How do you live a life in a transient reality? How do you reconcile the brevity of life with the vastness of experience? Is simply noting you're alive and enjoying the world sufficient?

A mirrored face dissolves into tomorrow's inhabiter. There's a core, a string that pulls part of yesterday's child into todays adult. (Is this a fluid or is this a solid?) Along the ripcord moments accumulate like pearls. More are lost than kept as they roll by like marbles on the Titanic. I'm a child trying to catch them before they hit the water. I want to hold them a little while before I follow them into that dark unknown. (I wonder which marble I'll clench tight as I make the plunge) Like a lover on a cold morning with the alarm clock ringing; there's a car to scrape, breath in clouds, and class in ten minutes but let me Hold You Here, warm, let me hold to these moments a little longer.

My stories itch my pink oyster flesh until I cover them with rememberings, finally hardening them into a shape I like. Raven wise, I carefully select the shiny ones. Squirrel frantic, burying for the winter of old age in places I hope I can find them again. On the tour of the pearl collection she recalls: I dove deep into murky realms for this one, traveled into the tangled Amazon for this one, and this one? Oh that was found between the familiar couch cushions of cliches. I'm wary of an inflated sense of uniqueness.

Kitchen cabinets opening and closing, a heater turns on, the dog's nails louden and fade as she walks past the closed door. A gust shakes the house, a phone rings, a car passes. Familiar sounds, in this instant being is enough. I've lost track of time permanently and I don't expect to find it again. It was encased in comfortable scenes and unnoticed sounds. I left it lying around in Saturday mornings, set it down standing in the shower, and watched it pass me as I stared out the window.

It is not frustrating but curious how traces of past movements and thoughts gather about this place like cobwebs, building thick from repeating paths again and again. I cannot see them, but I can the stickiness and heaviness of my legs and mind. I have to look for them to understand why I've paused now. Let me reflect, live it twice, hold it close a little bit longer, skip class and lay under the covers. Ignoring inevitabilities, breathing, eyes closed, each second knowing: for now, this is enough.

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Oct. 24th, 2009 | 03:08 pm

one day you woke up,
bleary-eyed and racked by flu,
and said, with passion, you wanted something instead of nothing.

that ambiguous gray had chosen a side
and today there was an ultimatum.

you had watched Elizabethtown -
and that scene, where she makes him a map,
and that song we sang, where "all exits look the same"
and that sickness, which shook your mind,
left your asking echoing,
where is that fence? what is that fence?

choose a side, you demanded
asserting for once
fueled by fever and infection
I am alive, and I want, oh how I want.

I knew that chorus
I knew the debt-collectors would call
and when they left pockets emptier,
"I won't call again"
and I'd be poorer, too.

We were still thousands of miles tired,
from passing and signs,
from attentiveness stretched beyond the norm.
We stumbled through 3 a.m. at closed gas stations,
there was one that only charged three cents of gas
before telling us to go elsewhere.

dead deer and your steady breathing -
I never looked back to see you sprawled
filling the backseat,
curled tight, but still too large to disappear in blankets
my eyes faced the road,
alone, me or the engine pulling you along with me.

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Just leave me your wake to remember you by...

Sep. 28th, 2009 | 02:17 pm

I've been listening to Gregory and the Hawk a lot today, yesterday. I'm trying to make up for the fact that I'll be missing their live show on-campus next month. I've mostly been alternating between the song "Boats and Birds" and a cover of Beyonce's "Irreplaceable". The lyrics in their entirety aren't fitting to my feelings (when are they ever), only fragments. 

Before the rain came today Ontario was a dark blue. I can watch the whitecaps from my bed; in the warmth of my room the violence of the wind and waves is only visual - but I can imagine being in the midsts of the tempest well enough.  The rain thick, the lightning violet - I'm slowly getting work done.

Friday night I sat on the movie theater fire-escape with Z and C, watching raindrops run off the roof. Lit by parking-lot lamp-light, they flowed like orange ribbons when I watched them attentively, forming images of icicles when only the unfrozen drops were falling. They became a curtain of orange-peach, snake-like streams of bright fire-jewels. Hidden from view we watched the night rain, staying dry as the wet sounds of cars rushing by surrounded and echoed in our cubby.  

I have two papers on Temporal Lobe Epilepsy to write, a summary of Corpus Callosum research to compile, a prolog program, and about a thousand other things. This semester might be the craziest yet as I scramble to get things published before graduate applications and to figure out which schools I may want to attend. I turned twenty yesterday - that's how old I'll be when I start my PhD program next Fall. I don't ever remember my sense of self being particularly united with my number of years, but I suspect it's becoming increasingly divorced. More and more I see myself in terms of the work I do - my career, my projects, my academic interests. Not to an extreme extent, but compared to three years ago I've become more of a Cognitive Scientist.

I took the GRE a week ago and promptly fell ill afterward with that over-hyped flu: H1N1. I've since recovered, but not before missing three days of classes, which is a huge pain. I scored well enough on the test that I'm comfortable about graduate admissions, although I doubt I would ever get a score that I'd be satisfied with.  I'm endowed with the never-good-enough complex in most academic matters (really, it's a blessing). 

So what does the future hold for Miss. Elizabeth? The immediate future holds school work and a night of bowling. After that, some sort of graduate program and some independent adventures. Uncertainties and beauty. There will be beauty.

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Aug. 12th, 2009 | 09:22 pm

We hovered near silence with few splashes as we slid between the large tree-trunks and crossed the recently flooded island. Our paddles passed over submerged land-plants, slowing drowning and bright green beneath the old metal canoe. The beautiful but invasive weed Marsh Blazing Star shone bright purple in the hot morning, poking tall from the still, shallow water. The island was free from the constant heavy, hazy sound of cicadas. It was strangely quiet, the few birds we saw did not sing.

A bald eagle circled above, it's head-plumage like the white flag Americans never seem to give. The bird is now a symbol of ecological recovery, having conquered DDT and habitat destruction. We've seen many species waving that white flag, surrendering to us. Do we have a white crown of our own, a naive blankness and feathery halo to obscure our distance-vision? What clouded state of innocence is maintained by our short memories?

I brought no thoughts of politics into this storm-changed place, only those of Lewis and Clark and the Amazon. We steered the boat through maple, oak, and others. Even natives can be filled with awe. Along the edges we pushed through snail-crusted reeds that bent under the weight of shells and scraped against our "hull". Occasionally we would get stuck on a fallen tree and back paddle, then find a deeper path.

We jumped into waist-deep water where there is normally only a few inches and a nice beach. I snorkeled along the surface, seeing little through the thick murk. Scrounging the bottom there were rocks and weeds; I could only make out what was very close. For every treasure found, I imagine there are many fruitless dives.

Seaweed stuck against legs and little squirms let them continue downstream. The muddy or dark can hide a lot, including a lot of nothing.

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Poly springs Up Again

Aug. 2nd, 2009 | 01:52 pm

It seems polyamory is popping up everywhere! Like many people, I check Postsecret.com every Sunday. For those unfamiliar with the project, people mail in their secrets anonymously on postcards. There's a vast supportive community surrounding these secrets, books filled with the cards, and postsecret projects on college campuses across the nation. They are usually fairly interesting - sweet and flippant, surprising and sad. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a large archive anywhere, only the weekly post, presumably so people have to buy the books. So anyway, this particular secret seemed appropriate to post.


It only further reinforces my belief that in order for polyamorous relationships to work, openness and honesty is essential.

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Polyamory Article

Aug. 2nd, 2009 | 12:41 am

"Polyamory—relationships with multiple, mutually consenting partners—has a coming-out party." in Newsweek:


The article mentions "Ethical Slut" which has been on my To-Read list for several years now after being recommended by kira_speaks. I have no idea if I could ever pull It off for very long and I haven't been keen on talking about it for the last few years. However, I thought it might be of interest to those contemplating/arguing about the nature of love or other slippery things.

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Aug. 2nd, 2009 | 12:09 am

It is a secret comfort to know that The Wild eventually wins back, eventually reviving stronger. Permanence could not be achieved if we struggled for a thousand more bright and brief regenerations. The world's recovery from our wounds might be long, but our scratches on memory and skyscapes will be erased. The end of the record will be reached, the music will stop, but the disc will spin on, playing white noise. So much Culture revolves around leaving something behind, legacies and "making a difference." Like sex drives and saving babies, it seems to be innate. What of the path that leaves this world untouched? Impossible and undesirable, right? The fight between anonymity and fame becomes a familiar one.

Weeks ago I sought the storm-release, the whips of rain and the grave-cries of wind. I am glad it does not take too much to break the mundane. Lightning is enough to revive my deadened data-entry senses, like Shelly's monster. As it starts to rain now I find my flannel shirt and roll a monthly cigarette. Unlit in my breast pocket; it will depend on how far we [the storm and I] go. Red Thread seeks the storms too, flickering in distant lamp-light pools.

It's something more restless than myself, skin becomes stable in the turbulent air.

Two days ago I had another sleep paralysis incident. I sat up, looked behind me at a slightly distorted self-image in the mirror, and thought "so this is what it's like to be just a mind". It's the third time in the last two weeks. The time before I consciously moved my propioception of my body almost all the way out. It was hard to know which body was the real one. I've fallen out before, but never got up and left. It's very difficult to move - my limbs are more like lead beneath the sea. There is no astral lightness or floating free. I'm learning to enjoy the strangeness and the semi-lucid hallucinations of false awakenings. I learn to dream with my eyes open.

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On Repeat (Yawn at the Apocalypse)

Jul. 11th, 2009 | 10:11 pm

I was laying on my back when I became aware of my sleeping body this morning. I tried to roll over and looked out, realizing I was still on my back. (Oh no, not again - why does this happen every time I take a morning nap?)

It was just before 10am, the blinds were down, making small noises in the wind, and my boyfriend was soundly sleeping beside me. I tested the paralysis, tried to move my hand. I felt like I moved it, even watched floaters move in the air around it as if it had pushed them aside. But I looked at my body and seen that I had not moved at all. I was uncomfortable physically, and I could not shift to change. I felt unbearably hot, but nothing I did could will my hand to move the sheet. I tried making a noise but only heard the sound in my head.

After I tried yelling I tried consciously taking a breath, and realized I had no control over my breathing. That is when the panic always comes - that moment when I try to breathe and realize my body is not responding. It takes rational internal dialogue and resolve to soothe my reeling mind. I reduce panic to unease, reminding myself that fear will hurt me more. I repeat the information that my body is breathing and that I am still safe, and I listen from a distance at that steady intake and exhast, a machine I cannot control. As my breathing continues without me I note the calm of my body, how peaceful it is without me connected.

I alter my thoughts to make it feel like I am controlling the breaths I have no control over, minimizing the dissonance. I give the command to breathe in harmony with the actual breath, and this helps my mind relax. Feedback indicates things are working in sync. Panic subsides.

I have yet to learn to enjoy or relax in the feeling of being trapped in my deadened body. My mind is active but my body unresponsive and generally uncomfortable. I gave the order to my body to move all my limbs and yell, and hallucinated that it occured, even hallucinating my boyfriends sleepy response (confusion at my limbs all lashing out at once - seizure like). At first I thought it had worked, that I had sucessfully broken free and brought life to my body. It was soon clear nothing had happpened, that I had remained stationary, hands on stomach, perfectly still. He was still asleep, I was still trapped.

I thought how unusually lucid I was this time, and how long it was lasting. I told myself that I had recovered before, that it was temporary. Eventually a loud noise would happen and I'd be ready - a dumpster outside or a slamming door as before. I thought it would be hours before my night-shift dreained boy woke up, but a kiss could provide the trigger to rouse me. I could not consider then the possibility of be in a useless body in the realm of the physical.

Looking around the room I made several attempts to force some sound out from my fear. I tried to use the same will power and same mental state that is used to wake oneself from a bad dream. It did not work at first, and I cannot name what eventually let the signal through, but at last a yell did finally escape the binds of my slumber into the world of the living.

(it was the sound of reflexive fear, the sound of release)

The yell is essential. I've found loud sounds are the best to shake me free. My boyfriend laid his hand on my knee, probably assuming a nightmare. I moved my body as if nothing had happened, shedding the hot sheet. When I emerge from sleep paralysis my body is just as relaxed as awakening from normal sleep, but of course, my mind is clear and fully awake.

I walked around the room, calming my mind to match the warm sleep-slowness still draped across my limbs. Normal again.

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Meet me where it breaks

Jun. 19th, 2009 | 05:03 pm

"The old, old urge,
Based on the ancient pinnacles, lo, newer, higher pinnacles,
From science and the modern still impell'd,
The old, old urge, eidolons."

-Walt Whitman

I smelled algae and fish when I walked out the door.

Now and again the fog creeps through the town, cool and thick. In past mornings it has become oppressive, a too-tight blanket, uneasily, not easily shaken. It can seep through moods, leaving students burrowed in bed missing their first class and looking out from high-rise dormitory windows onto a blankness.

Yesterday I went walking in the mist, the air wet and thin with cold, feeling the relief from the heavy summer heat (that had come only a few times so far this season). Unseen birds sang from distant 1975 BBC versions of Secret Gardens. I found the limited visibility centered my attention to the immediate, the island of detail. In contrast to the surrounding indistinctness I was a vaulted cavern of clarity, moving easily within my mind. Anything too distant was blurred from my eye's reach; the jutting power-plant towers and buildings stood erased and I was left distinct against the indiscernible.

Walking along the shore, round rocks shifted beneath me, crackling like the kind of firework that produces huge golden willow tree or dandelions. The kind that seems to blossom shimmering and popping those July nights, lingering just enough time to become aware of one's own awe before fading. I walked over hollowness on bridge made only of sound, bolstered by the surrounding, waveless calm. Each footfall brought a new stone cascade, breaking the still expanse with sound as noticeable as fireworks in the sky. Listening creatures and ghost ships hovered just out of sight as I watched my mind play tricks with the limited input. The familiar shore became a sensory deprivation chamber without womb or coffin-like security. [There is some security in a coffin, the final womb, enclosing and encapsulating - finally safe from all the pain and joy of life.]

Bodies of water have always served as such an adept metaphor for the patterns of human life. I resent falling back onto cliched comparisons involving lake or sea. Like a young girl only seeing her boyfriend in everything, sometimes I only see the water in everything.

Perhaps the reason the complex ebbs and flows are so appealing is because we are composed of so much water ourselves. If our knowledge is shaped by our selves and our physical form, then certainly it is no wonder that the salty brine we emerged from and keep in our blood seems so familiar, so fitting to our lives. It is no wonder we see our emotions and thoughts reflected in the movements of the water when we are composed of water, no wonder our internal and social patterns resemble its patterns.

It may be that the movements, tides, and interactions of waves are the next-closest complex thing to the complexity of our inner interactions - the waves and tides of emotions and events. Bodies of water offer a "depth" we perceive in ourselves. We've carried the old underwater darkness with us, and now relate to it from a distance, isolated on land. I will return to you.

Lone gulls appeared then vanished. Not a wave moved. A pair of female driftwood legs grew weathered from the rocks, one 'toe' pointed to the sky. We build our worlds unknowingly then look with wonder. We are observers seeing only ourselves.

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Soft Sheets

Jun. 2nd, 2009 | 02:35 pm

Stories below two lawnmowers grind against my sleep, and my dream of hurricanes subsides. I dream in charts and Weather Channel graphics - in furious winds, rising waves, and biting rains. From my bed I can see a white plume from one of the nearby nuclear power plants. Eight miles away the fluffy white rifle-shaped cloud builds steadily against the blue, the barrel continuously dissipating harmlessly into dark gray puffs. I can smell fresh cut grass and I remain stationary, languorous as the world bustles with day-bright energy.

I had plans for today, seemingly viscid ambitions carried over from a hard-day's work yesterday, now stagnating in sleepiness.

I'm a hard habit for me to form.

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Hip Hip Hippocampus

May. 29th, 2009 | 06:52 pm

Wow, despite the poor editing and strange dancing, this girl is HIP.

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Objecitivist rejection of Anarchy

May. 28th, 2009 | 01:58 pm

Well written article "Objectivist Resistance to Anarchy: A Problem of Concept Formation?" that I really enjoyed.


Good work Carrie.

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LP Rant

May. 28th, 2009 | 12:42 pm

If you are trying to convince me to rejoin the Libertarian Party, barraging my inbox with anti-Obama propaganda would not be effective! For months I have been receiving a stream of negative and combative emails from The Campaign for Liberty. I can't help but think it's the worst tactic for them to employ. They seem to encourage radicalism and fuel the flames for weak rhetoric and blind hate, provoking fear then asking for donations. Under the banner of revolution they have the feel of Church and Extreme Conservatism strategy to them. Most of their arguments do not effectively establish clear causality.

A recent email told me that in France there are "free vacations" and there are also deadly riots because of job shortages. Are we, the reader, are to assume that free vacation are the reason there are deadly riots? Or is this to simply help us associate BAD THINGS with the bill (H.R. 2564, Paid Vacation Act). Yes, the bill is a breach of government power and would further burden small business owners. Yes, Grayson's underlying motivation is probably to bring business to the struggling Orlando economy he represents. I agree with stopping the bill, but I think dusting of the red scare tools is a little unnerving.

"And only 17 percent of political independents say America is heading in the right direction under Barack Obama. The percentage of Americans who think Elvis might still be alive is higher at 19%...an independent voter is more likely to think Elvis is still alive than think Barack Obama is taking Americans in the right direction."

This seems to imply, 'If you think Obama is doing some things right, then you're a minority (and therefore probably wrong!) and as crazy as someone who thinks Elvis is alive."

Since when did the Libertarian Party begin discounting a belief just because it is held by a minority of people? Isn't that a little ironic and fallacious? Many a Libertarian ego has thrived on being part of an enlightened few...

Of course, sometimes they provide convincing arguments, but lapses into the methods employed by other parties just makes the LP look bad.

The LP is now faced with the task of proving convincingly that socialist policies are indeed detrimental and dangerous. Simply screaming SOCIALIST and reminding us that the French frequently riot is not going to be sufficient to discredit Obama.

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May. 26th, 2009 | 06:15 pm

Hi, I'm Elizabeth.

Maybe you've known me for a long time, maybe you barely know me at all.

After branching out and multiple new beginnings, I see some value in duplicating other work here for archival purposes, so get ready! Fifty or so entries will slowly begin to appear. After some debate, I've decided to place them in chronological order among my other entries.

As I work on that, I will also be adding new entries. I've used this journal intermittently for just about four years now, and I'd like to see more activity. I've made it a goal to write daily online. It was something I did very naturally a few years ago and expect it will be easy to do again. It's a good habit for me for a number of reasons. Like all humans, my emotions and activities ebb and flow in [relatively] unpredictable ways, but I anticipate this flow will at least stretch through the long days and nights of summer. I went through a time of increased self-consciousness. As that has waned, writing has become simpler, liberating.

This journal will have a public and private side. There was a time when almost all I did was public. Honesty and intimacy defined my writing and I was, to a limited extent, a performer of sorts. Times they are a-changing.

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Chaos on the Complexity Spectrum

May. 7th, 2009 | 09:01 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 5-7-2009
Added to Impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

Chaos on the Complexity Spectrum
I'm not sure how I feel about chaos being on the extreme end of increasing complexity. Is chaos just a measure of the limits of our ability to remember/perceive patterns? Does chaos begins where the abilities of the human minds end. (And how does chatin random fit into this?)

[As an aside, I recently was reminded how emotional states and the perception of wholes/fragments are related. Depression is associated with seeing the world as very fragmented, events unrelated, things not fitting into bigger schemes. And, unsurprisingly considering spiritual experiences and euphoric drugs, happiness causes the world to seem coherent, and connected. This is pretty far-fetched, but could new understanding and progression towards first ritual and then networks reflect the general emotional states of society? We need a certain level of security to develop a certain world view that states that events are connected and coherent. As technological inventions allow for a decrease in human suffering, ideas that promote certain kinds of relations/causality (i.e. renaissance and scientific revolution) are able to emerge. Following the 1950s and a boom in convenient appliances and leisure, it seemed there was a flourishing of a "feeling of connectedness" in the hippie generation. Of course, drugs and wars are a few of the endless possible defeating factors. The underlying question is: how is the perception and recognition of structures like ritual and narrative affected by emotional states? But I suppose one could ask how mental states affect ANY phenomena.

Signed Area - The idea that social network graphs could be mapped with (+) or (-) signs was interesting to me, in terms of electrical and magnetic dynamics, but also because the term "signed area" is one that has recently appeared in my life. It's been used to describe not the absolute area under a curve, but area that sums both the positive and negative integral area leaving one with a number. This does not reflect total area, only the difference between the area under the curve above and below the x-axis. When this term was mentioned in class, I thought of it in the context of the positive and negative people in my life and how they ultimately "cancel out" each other, leaving the "signed area". Obviously in an ideal social network, one would have more positive links to overwhelm the negative (or at least break even and remain neutral), although it did not seem the signs represented that sort of relationship.

After reading Steppenwolf and talking to people familiar with people with MPD, I've been thinking a lot about personality. I wonder how a social network graph might lend clues into deciphering personalities. In my facebook I currently have different categories of friends, some with very broad interests. In a social taxonomy I'd be hard to classify (as most egotistical teenagers would probably claim if articulate enough) and I have a multiple-inheritance problem of attributes. Could we create a map within the node to qualify the various types of distinct networks it falls into? Can we break a node into sub-personalities? [This really gets back to emotion-based-cohesion; I feel like the happiest people are those with the most integrated personalities who maneuver the greatest number of social circles successfully). Could we base a description of personality based on the lack of connectedness in social groups? On the "tightness" of the network?

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Paper Idea

Apr. 28th, 2009 | 08:59 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 4-28-2009
Added to Impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

Final Paper
I've decided that my final paper will be on labyrinths and strange loops. I've become hooked on Borges and hope to integrate "Garden of the Forking Paths" "The Circular Ruins" and "Tlon..." into my final paper. As I look at the narrative structure, I hope to bring in the labyrinth ideas of Sebald, and perhaps even "Linked". I found an interesting article on Borges which referenced Hofstadter's strange loops. I'm waiting for "I am a Strange Loop" to come in, but once it does I think I will be able to tell if it will be a useful idea to the paper. Parallel structures of parallel structures...

I want this paper to be more than just an exploration of the idea of labyrinths, or pointing out the instances of labyrinths. I hope to come to some conclusion or have some argument about the structure. Are there nodes in a labyrinth or is the point of the labyrinth that there are no distinct nodes. How does the left-hand tracing of the wall to emerge work symbolically in other contexts?

The labyrinths in Sebald occur in two obvious instances: the actual garden that he walks through without realizing until the end it is a labyrinth and the book itself. Part of what defines a labyrinth seems to be ending in the same spot as where you began, but changed. A circular path that is not circular at all and whose end is not quite the same as the beginning. Sebald returns to the same ideas that he began with, but we are transformed (exactly how has yet to be characterized precisely in my mind) and emerge different people. [side thought: Part of the research should be drawing on a map of England the places he travels to see what shape is seen.] Rings of Saturn is also a network - and the overlaps between labyrinths and networks should be considered.

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Recent Brain Download

Apr. 21st, 2009 | 09:21 pm

From my "Second Salience Journal"
First appearing 4-21-2008
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

Last cog class an interesting theory of intelligence was mentioned: intelligence consists of having multiple types of long term memory for the same information (various procedural representations, episodic information, semantic information). This really resonated with me and fits well into how I usually elaborate on Gardner multiple intelligence theories (I generally consider someone intelligent when they possess proficiency in a number of Gardener's categories). If one wanted to cultivate intelligence, one would integrate the semantic information into a variety of *salient* episodes. We know that the best way to create episodic memories is to have some sort of emotional state at the time of learning. As I noted, good learning requires a certain emotional state. I'm not aware of what research has studied this, but I suspect that learning is best done in social situations (i.e. conversations with friends, from parents). It is surely no wonder that removing a student emotionally from the teacher in an anonymous system seems to not be cultivating intelligence at all!

In the past I have considered how I would design school, each design representing where my thougths were at the time... Some elements of the master and few apprentices is valuable, but also peer-to-peer learning with a master-moderator (to insure false information or shallow interpretations are not spread). I'd definitely like to try a different social environment (Socrates had it right!). The professors who form an emotional connection with the students but still inspire/challenge them with difficult projects seem to be the most successful. If a teacher is completely socially unavailable to a student, a student resents the challenges. It becomes a war or conflict.

On another note, the professor mention a way of measuring gray matter using geodesic shapes and subtraction. Do edges get longer the more precise your measurements are? I think they do. As a map-maker's daughter I know there are standards for unit of measurement length for irregular lines such as coasts and boundaries. I wonder how they are determining the length of each small triangle for the brain, or if it's even a problem. I think I remember reading a book that described fractals creating (infinitely?) longer and longer lines as the fractals got smaller and began to surround the molecules.

Is intelligence currently gauged by others (generally) by actions? By verbal articulations (think how misleading William's syndrome can be)! I think it's almost completely evaluated based on verbal communication when institutions are not involved, although in long-term relationships actions have more prominence. Is judging by brain size really judging by appearances? (I know the correlations between gray matter and intelligence are not exactly clear, but I think it's almost clear that the variations in gray matter distribution do affect our abilities...) I am sure a future is *possible* where people are admitted into certain schools based on gray matter size and distribution, but is this a fair method? It's obvious pure intelligence does not always predict how well a person is going to do academically (I do not think brilliant fuck-offs are by anymeans an exception) but other factors in the brain might someday be indicators...

It relates to an essential question in my life: should I judge myself and others by the things we do or the things we think? And is there really a difference, or which is more important, etc. You can love a person for the things you think they are thinking or for the motivations you think are behind their actions, but it's so troublesome when action to support it is not present. I think of The Lazy Idealist, The Righteous Tyrant, and the adage "actions speak louder than words" being transformed to "actions speak louder (and more clearly) than thoughts".

I've been enjoying taking antiderivatives today. It's so pleasant I want to do extra problems! If only every topic was so motivating.

Today we talked about Wicca in class and I realized what little attention I had paid it recently. Five years goes by fast. I think it would be interesting to re-evaluate the principles and practice from this perspective, and maybe look around a few chat-sites and see what is going on in the communities. Keep tabs, if you will.

Yesterday was 4-20, a holiday for some. I had a good, too brief discussion about legalization with JD, who told me that there was a timber company and paper manufacturer in the 1930s who ran a widespread and very effective smear campaign (presumably relating to the moral and health effects). He ran this because legalization because the hemp industry would seriously threaten the timber industry's production of paper. JD said it was very influential and he talked to the right people. I'd be interested to know a few things like "was legalization really being considered then?" and "is it possible we are still feeling the effects of this man's self-interest?" In general, I view events like that in history as sometimes being very important and long-lasting without us ever be conscious of how they are affecting us now. I think the history we learn in school is more of a mythological-narrative than an examination of the cause and effect. We are being told stories in the legend tradition. Not a big deal in isolation, but it leaves us ignorant of the effect of our actions or the progression and development of trends.

One topic I've been interested in lately are the ideas of culture self-balancing and self-correcting as a system (perhaps those "pendulum swings" the news stations refer to). Cultural conflict and eventual resolution (if any) between groups, idealologies, and general life-styles. I'd love to see historical trends modeled computationally, that would be awesome...

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Apr. 17th, 2009 | 09:14 pm

From my "Second Salience Blogspot"
First appearing 4-17-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

The Forbidden Zone, the Oingo Boingo movie.
Ghost Before Breakfast, (Vormittagsspuk) Hans Richter
The Rabbit Moon

Enjoyed Syracuse band "The Magnetic Pull" tonight at the Dreamt House show.

Recently read:
Natural Symbols - Mary Douglass (still reading)
Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius - Borges

Recent Albums:
Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Now Floating in Space
Antony and the Johnson's new album - The Crying Light
Red House Painters - Song for a Blue Guitar (used to listen to Revelation Big Sur so much I decided I should try the album. RBS was my most listened to song of 2007.
Department of Eagles - Recommended by Deven and lastfm
Vampire Weekend - I know what the kids think this will say about me, but I've been enjoying them when Zoe plays them
Zoe Keating - One Cello x 16
Dr. Dog - We All Belong
Panda Bear - Young Prayer
Revamped my Of Montreal collection. Somehow had misplaced a few albums.
Metaform -Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Along with some The Mountain Goats, The Music Tapes, old Mates of State...

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A passing thought on Solidarity (or lackthereof)

Apr. 14th, 2009 | 08:51 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 4-14-2009
Added to Impassioned_ on 5-26-2009
Note: I think my professor-friend mentioned Rand and made a gesture towards me, and then proceeded to say something like, "Too bad for the atheists like Rand, Weber thinks capitalism stems from Protestantism." This was my casual blog reaction to it. I don't really argue anything, just do a little comparison. I can't stress enough the casual nature of this response...


A passing thought on Solidarity (or lackthereof)
In our class discussion today on Emile Durkheim I thought of a particular instance where I have been acutely aware of degrees of solidarity in social phenomena...

Up until just recently, the Libertarian Party was seriously lacking in any sense of solidarity. It seemed almost all those who held libertarian views were unaware that there was a party that represented those principles, and many who knew it existed did not identify themselves as part of the party. Even as a member of the LP, I did not really consider myself "one of them". I suspect this was the case for many, many people. There was no solidarity - they (note: "they" and not "we") lacked the bind of religious institutions enjoyed by the right and the institution of academia enjoyed by the left. Without this solidarity, it has been difficult for the LP to mobilize anyone who is empathetic towards their causes. Their attempts to build party solidarity have been obvious in a new propaganda/rhetoric fountain of literature bubbling forth. I think that's why the internet was so important to Ron Paul's campaign and is still very important to the LP; internet forums provide a community someone can "belong" to and I think significantly facilitated solidarity that was difficult to do with such isolated people.

I have noticed ideology being judged by some primarily its social function, something I find odd and slightly difficult to respond to, especially when it seems far-fetched that ideology is ONLY serving a social function and nothing else.

And as a last note, the comment regarding Max Weber and Ayn Rand. I think that Ayn Rand fits better with Weber than a first-glance might determine. Like Weber and unlike Marx, the economic system is caused or determined by ideology, and not the other way around.

While Ayn Rand was indeed an atheist, her primary justification for capitalism is that is the most moral and ethical economic system. From the question, "what is the most ethical way to live and to treat your fellow man?" she determines capitalism to be the most logical answer. While her ideology differs from protestantism, it is still very much an ideology.

There are huge similarities between Rand's godless ethic and the ethics of protestantism. Rand's characters are directly in the protestant tradition, they simply replace the God factor with the Self. They work for the value and the virtue of fulfilling their potential, associate an absolute morality to hard work, and certainly emphasize self-denial for a greater purpose.

I think Rand tries to resolve the paradox wikipedia points out:

"The "paradox" Weber found was, in simple terms:

* According to the new Protestant religions, an individual was religiously compelled to follow a secular vocation with as much zeal as possible. A person living according to this world view was more likely to accumulate money.

* The new religions (in particular, Calvinism and other more austere Protestant sects) effectively forbade wastefully using hard earned money and identified the purchase of luxuries a sin. Donations to an individual's church or congregation was limited due to the rejection by certain Protestant sects of icons. Finally, donation of money to the poor or to charity was generally frowned on as it was seen as furthering beggary. This social condition was perceived as laziness, burdening their fellow man, and an affront to God; by not working, one failed to glorify God."

Rand indicates, like Protestantism, an individual is compelled to follow a vocation with as much zeal as possible. Like Protestantism, charity sometimes is considered to perpetuate the cycle. Without God to glorify, hard earned money is used to glorify the Self because it was "deserved". Luxuries are no longer a sin in this new moral code if they are only at your own expense after completing years and years of hard work, etc.

Of course, I don't believe the very richest people today got their wealth through hard work, and so I generally don't think that they deserve most of their luxuries. But if someone did work very hard and became rich, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't hold it against them. I'm not even sure we exist in a system where that is possible, and that the "American Dream" is in fact, just a dream of a sleeping society.

Overall Rand completely lacks the compassion factor or any comprehension of those who would prefer leisure to more money. Morality isn't supposed to be legislated according to Rand but she provides few instances of the kind of private compassion I think is necessary if there is no government-mandated compassion. Less subtly I mean to say that on many, many levels I'm far from a Randroid. Being influenced five(!) years ago does not mean I should be so (narrowly!) categorized! I understand her ideas, and while broad and internally very consistent, I see them as relatively un-holistic and blind many important factors. By the time I left high school I was already out of her spell. To come full-circle, any solidarity I felt with her/them has completely dissipated. Appreciative, but aware of its limitations. Take home message: not a Randroid.

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Layers of Networks

Apr. 14th, 2009 | 08:50 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 1-22-2009
Added to Impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

Layers of Networks
I'm about half-way through but it already seems like the author of "Linked" is consciously trying to build a network structure with his book. Certain Concepts he has been turning into hubs, and keeps linking back to them. A neat idea, but it has caused some (negative-emotion-producing) redundancy. I can see why it is a great idea on many levels: demonstrating the concepts, pounding the message into the readers [I imagine two school teachers talking in the break room, one saying "It's all about repetition, repetition, repetition!" as she pounds her hand on the table for emphasis], but I've found it slightly tedious. I really enjoyed the math history at the beginning and the parts about Euler and graph theory, but some of the narrative he tells seems out of place (like how many days he had to write a paper, or how a stewardess spilled coffee on his laptop so he had to use longhand). Some of the information in it often borders on the type of boring self-narrative typical of blogs with few links pointing to them. However, the peppering with really insightful comments and fascinating statistics makes it a lot more interesting. I love the history of science, such as Bose-Einstein information and chaos-to-order state-changes.

All of the network insight I've read seems very accurate, but rather unsurprising*. Part of it may be because it's 2009 and the amazing discoveries from ten years ago have already become mundane and uninteresting. Almost any internet user today could describe in simple terms the idea of hubs and intuit that it's not a random network. The ideas that he describes beginning his research with, such as 'nodes around longer have better odds of being linked to more' and 'nodes are random and of equal weight' and so on seem so silly. They almost seem designed to be disproven for narrative purposes, but the discord-resolution sequence doesn't work because the initial situation is so unbelievable...

*(What does it say about me/my culture that I expect findings in a book to be surprising or sensational?)

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Meaning Fountains

Apr. 9th, 2009 | 08:48 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 4-9-2009
Added to Impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

Meaning Fountains
Today I set down Borges to stare off into space and ask myself, "Do I search for meaning, or does meaning find me?" I thought of the sessions where I was taught to read actively, constantly searching for meaning. Even then, it's more of entering in a mindset that allows meaning to bubble up naturally than a laborious hunt (usually). I can think of times where I had to search for understanding. There are times that require simply recognizing the meaning, giving a nod to it (I imagine my ninth grade English teacher in his sweaters and button-up shirts and Lennon glasses nodding as symbols appeared magically in every short story). However, at times, I feel as though I am sifting through a huge database of possible implications, holding onto a few possibilities, then waiting through the next few paragraphs for more information. One of my favorite feelings is when I sense there is more meaning in a certain phrase, but I haven't quite found it yet. What is it that clues me off in those situations? Is it context clues? Being cued into the patterns of the author? Some malcongruity or feeling that more *should* be there? As humans we are always looking for meaning where it doesn't exist, but I think I am justified in most cases when it comes to literature...unless the author is trying to play "games" with meaningless indicators of meaning.

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Silly Thoughts

Apr. 9th, 2009 | 08:47 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 4-9-2009
Added to Impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

Parallel Universes
I have discovered a handful of of parallel universes.

There is one Elizabeth in this world, and she lives her life fully within it. But close by, in other worlds, there exist other, slightly different copies of her. For instance, I know for a fact each of my family members has in their world an Elizabeth - a shadow of the true Elizabeth - but still complex and real-feeling. And in this dimension, I create the shadows of others, interact with them. Our minds are parallel universes, creating overlapping existences with similar characters (though not quite the same from world to world; my friends create a different Elizabeth than my family, I create a different Elizabeth than the universe of a peer creates). These Elizabeths coexist in these universes, overlapping and similar, but not the same person. They move from place to place in the same way, but each universe perceives it differently.

One might initially think it's best to disregard the other Elizabeths ("I care not what the others think of me!") but I think it is the case the Elizabeths in other universes are able to affect how those in my universe react to me. That is, if I can do things to get this Elizabeth to match up with those Elizabeths, the actions of others are more predictable when they react to the parallel Elizabeth's in their universes.

Conversely, some might emphasize and care about the versions of themselves in other universes to the extent that they lose sight of the universe they operate in. They begin to worry themselves with ghosts (concerning themselves solely with how they are perceived) and forget the universe they exist in can also affect the other universes. (They can do things to change the perceptions of others, to a point).

(Is this just a silly way of using the term? These ideas do not seem creative, just a rehash of the obvious.)

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Remember Borges

Apr. 9th, 2009 | 08:46 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 4-9-2009
Added to Impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

"They consider metaphysics a branch of fantastic literature."

It was with a curious synchronicity that Borges appeared in my life. Tlon was discovered and described by a friend in detail who had found Borges on his own, seemingly randomly. I received then a raving, excited unclear picture of this strange world.

Not two weeks later, Borges was first mentioned in class. I thought 'this might be the same' and it itched for a long time in my mind. I was uncertain if they were because from my friend's description, I had thought the short story he had read was a volume about Uqbar instead of a short story of someone finding the volume. In fact, I thought my friend had found the same volume on Uqbar Borges had and that Borges just chose to write about it. (I suppose I was not listening carefully to think my friend had played the detective role, living out the narrative I would later read.)

The link came together magically last night when on the phone I asked him the name of the author. Yes, the author of the passage we read in class and the author of the story he read (over a month ago now) were one in the same. A delightful finding. That sealed the deal of getting the book, but the library was not open past nine.

One of my favorite little facts is that there are no nouns in Ursprache. Sometimes I think one of the fundamental limits of human language and consciousness is this dichotomy between action and thing. I think I've written here on this before, but like mass being energy and energy being mass, existence of an object is an action; that object being there is an action.

Maybe that's a difference between platonic forms and actually instantiations of forms: forms are nouns (never existing) and objects are really actions. We separate the act of perceiving from the object itself by our vocabulary, which is why I was so glad to see Borges make nouns nonexistent. It mooned. She Elizabethed.

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Casual passing thoughts Sebald

Apr. 8th, 2009 | 08:42 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 4-8-2009
Added to Impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

"Then we tried to name our babies,
but we forgot all the names that,
the names we used to know."
-"Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" The Arcade Fire

A few days ago I finished "The Rings of Saturn" by W.G. Sebald. There's a lot that can be said about the book. I wonder how long it will take for the meaning of my scrawling marginalia to become indecipherable to me, if I will ever return to the book years from now and not be able to understand what links the faded pencil lines once represented.

If I were a person leading a team of people who could just spend all their time on fun projects, I would develop or use semantic-net software already available and graph all the nodes and links in "The Rings of Saturn". The first step would be to make nodes of all the places and people mentioned. Congo. Amsterdam. China. Forbidden City. London. Manchester. Dunwich. Thomas Abrams. Michael Hamburger. Mr O'Hare. FitzGerald. Lady Sutton. Then events, and industries (like silkworm farming), and various buildings. Lastly, the relations would be mapped, and we'd see what graph (holla to Euler and Erdos and Renyi) emerged.

Literary critics, once the software was in place to automate the process for them, would be able to analyze literature in a new way by looking at the graph. [Last night I dreamt my young son, named Virgil, was telling me he thought literary criticism and math were really just the same discipline.]

In one of the last pages Sebald compared writers to weavers, who spend their days "straining to keep their eye on the complex patterns they created" and are "engrossed in their intricate designs and who are pursued, into their dreams, by the feeling they have got hold of the wrong thread". I found this very resonant; it's a metaphor I've used myself but never have I found a book that is as complex as a tapestry, presenting variance within symmetries and playing upon reoccurring parallels or shapes. I think the network to emerge from my Rings-of-Saturn-Semantic-Web-Team would show a small "diameter" (to used Linked's term) or high metric of interconnectedness with an usually number of nodes for a work this size.

Decay is one of the threads or shapes reoccurring, but at least for me, I feel like decay is not merely represented in the tapestry, but happening on the tapestry itself...in my memory. Like Barabasi in "Linked", he describes maps with unknowns on the edges, or pattern books(!) with "the edges and gaps with mysterious figures and symbols." That's how the Rings of Saturn feels; like a complex map already starting to decay in my mind, with unknowns and mysteries in the crevices. One is left with this sense of a intricate pattern quickly fading even as new nodes are layered on top. There's so much motion, from place to place quickly traversing, with nodes always shifting. As soon as you notice them, they begin to fall apart.

There is a definite relation between being able to speak a word and remembering it. In houses everywhere spelling words said aloud and are being committed to memory by children. And so, it is not surprising that the unspoken becomes forgotten. Saying is our way of spreading, reinforcing, strengthening the network. Perhaps we do not speak the worst because we know this intuitively; it is debatable if many of the atrocities mentioned were not spread because of cowardliness or embarrassment. The nodes, underfed by links, become inactive, atrophy, and disappear from consciousness like unused neurons. The memory of Germany's forced silkworm industry falls into obscurity if not preserved in a network (like The Rings of Saturn or a brain) and simply ceases to exist.

On a related note, I have begun to figure out something that is lacking in popular culture for me. There are the obvious labels [oh how my generation abhors the term "label." a girl in class today protested, completely unaware of the irony, the fact that the generation was being labeled as hating labels!] such as "shallow" or "trivial" but I think I have happened upon a very effective description. There's little problem in my mind with trivial or barely meaningful things playing a large role, but it's more a question of the robustness of the network. Yes, there's a lot of information available, but for whatever reason (mass media, huge corporations, that effing american dream) almost everyone is accessing the same exact nodes (making their NN weight overwhelming). There is no diversity, which makes it, like an ecosystem, very weak. Every girl from 7 to 14 knows about High School Musical, and an alarming percentage can sing the songs. Every one is being exposed to the exact same things, has this shared experience. While that may bring about feelings of national UNITY (no comment on socialism trends in the federal government) if we are going to innovate, we need people who have had many different kinds of meaningful experiences. Memes are not bad, but when they are the same meme in slightly different permutations, there are enough "cultural mutations" to make us viable.

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Detection versus Creation (of Meaning)

Mar. 26th, 2009 | 08:38 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 3-26-2009
Added to Impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

Detection versus Creation (of Meaning)
Today a Frankl quote was flashed up on the screen, "the meaning of our existence is not invented by ourselves, but rather detected." I think this could be interpreted as our meaning is not always created consciously, but rather is created subconsciously and then found with the conscious mind. The death bed perspectives allows a person to consciously detect meanings already created, perhaps things thought but never vocalized. I suspect with some people, this meaning may be created moments before detection - a left-brained rationalization/explanation to the feeling of worth produced by the right.

I wonder if those morbid individuals (like myself) who write wills frequently, envision their funerals, and get pleasure from dreadful hypotheticals are finding a way to remind themselves of the meaning of life. To feel what Pausch felt on a constant basis. Do they, we, make life meaningful through these imaginative throes? Can I excuse these habits as delicate reminders of transiency and the constant motivation to live and learn as and enjoy as much as possible? Is life given meaning by the fear of the afterlife? (It seems to be the case, historically). And if so, why? I think it simply allows for another perspective, or unblocks the mental "day-to-day" cloud.

Like Frankl, I definitely consider the meaning of life to be much more visible in the meaning found in individual moments opposed to the general trends. He writes, "For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment." But memory can't hold all of those tiny instances, they blend and blur, and all I'm left was this sensation that, "I was alive then" and maybe "I am also alive now." The meaning is in the moments, but the general trends are all the common intelligence retains. All but a few of those moments are lost, and those that are kept are clung to like crown jewels, told again and again to patient grandchildren. As long as they are not recited into hollowness, the meaning might hold. And maybe the writers of this world are the ones who know that transience all to well, who just want to be able to see, to prove, "I was alive" vividly. I write to relive, for I know the self that existed the moment before has already died. The millions of Elizabeths to have gone before me could choose to say, "this moment was mine, it was real, it was full..." so that the next Elizabeth is not left stranded in hollowness, without memory, an island of existence drifting without them. So little land bridges are built as meaning as preserved ("this is my history, this is how I got here") so that those to come might not suffer the worry of a meaningless life.

And here I sit, on what may have been a cataclysmic day. It doesn't feel grand, just gray and passing like those before. I might think my life as I knew it has drastically changed, but the meaning of it is still unknown. Can one feel numbness or it is just a lack of feeling, a hole where information (a bright certainty or disgruntled frustration) once resided. And how very human to wonder at the meaningfulness of a lack of meaning...

Is the date important, should I mark on my calender? The ghostbusters shirt, Emily's shirt, I wore? The music of the night before that may have moved me to the emotional peace to take the leap (choral, holy, like the most difficult of conversations in emotionless voices, was a thing of great and loft beauty)? Is this meaningful.

(paragraph missing)

What comfort comes in knowing the agonies of life end. Not only do I get to enjoy all the beauty and wonders of life for now, but eventually the agonies end. Of course, some of us are able to eliminate a majority of agonies on earth, but not the overwhelming body-cage. All this is said with provisions - I understand the physical form is also a joy, and that our transience may be a blessing when it pushes us to live completely.

"Our Beloved, Elizabeth"
"September XX, 19XX - April 5, 2064"

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Introduction to My Sleep Paralysis Diary

Mar. 9th, 2009 | 07:29 pm

From my "Sleep Paralysis Diaries"
First appearing 3-9-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009
This blog is a place for me to record and share my sleep paralysis experiences. I have not been formally diagnosed and I do not consider my experiences representative of the experiences of others. I have never had too much of a weight on my chest during the paralysis, unlike most people. I do hallucinate during them, and I am certain I open my eyes at times during it (it has been confirmed by others) and hallucinate conclusions to real events. It has happened four times as of today, March 9, 2009.

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Sleep Paralysis - The Fourth Time

Mar. 8th, 2009 | 07:38 pm

From my "Sleep Paralysis Journal"
First appearing 3-8-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009
The Fourth Time
Sunday, March 8, 10:55 a.m.

It's the first day of break and I experienced my fourth instance of sleep paralysis. It was a particularly long and powerful one, interesting enough for me to document it. I'll also document the other two lesser instances.

I will preface this by saying I have not been formally diagnosed, nor have I sought any medical attention for this. I just assume what happens to me can be categorized as sleep paralysis based on my own informal readings. I've had a number of other health issues which may or may not be connected.

Around 9:30 AM I decided to take a nap. I had lost an hour of sleep to cleaning up my sister's spontaneous midnight-vomit, and another hour to daylight savings time, and had been awoken early by the smoke detector going around eight-thirty. I had been up for an hour an had already eaten a piece of delicious berry pie, so when I began this nap I was somewhat wakeful. I had an unusual amount of sugar the previous day. I don't know if sugar is intake is correlated with sleep paralysis, but it was something out of the ordinary. I also received limited sleep in the last week. I fell asleep thinking about the dreams I had the night (laying in a vast field watching the stormy purple sky, each detail of the matted wet grass distinct, listening to thunder, feeling the electricity in the air). I was sleeping in another sister's top-bunk, an important detail because three of the four instances have occurred when I was sleeping in a bed other than my own.

It began with powerful dreams that border on hallucinations. I "awoke" to my mother in the room, putting away my sisters clothes. I knew it must be late in the afternoon, because she had left for the day and wasn't expected back until much later. I looked at a clock in the room on the wall (one that does not really exist) and it was four o'clock. I was talking to her, and she was responding, but as I sat up she became less responsive. I asked her things, and she wouldn’t answer. I felt like a sleepy child, uncoordinated, unable to pronounce things, and remarkably whinny. I called her name, and she didn't answer. I began saying it over and over again thinking she was ignoring me. "Mom, mom, mom, mom" with increasing desperation. Finally yelling, I realized I could not make any audible sounds. My movements became difficult, and I realized I was experiencing sleep paralysis. I wanted nothing more than to lie down in the bed I was still sitting in, but felt this was giving in somehow. I always try and fight it immediately, to retain control of my body. I did end up laying down in the hallucination, fighting the fear. When I laid down, I "awoke" again and tried to move. At this point I dreamed or experienced my whole body jolting into stiffness, like a character under the Body Binding curse in Harry Potter. During this whole time I had been drifting in between feelings of wakefulness and control and feelings of paralysis.

I realized I was panicking and decided to slowly will my body to feeling. I began with my toes and fingers, imagining myself on a hill where the sun was rising. I tried to feel brightness in my toes, as if to wake them up. I wiggled them or hallucinated wiggling them, then went to my toes, spreading it slowly up my limbs. I let the light calm me, and thought that I had overcome the paralysis as I moved. This was also a hallucination; I was not really moving, I had not really awoken. I reached up to grab my phone from a shelf that sits above my head. I retrieved my phone from a specific clay bowl that someone gave me, a bowl that was in reality miles away. As I went to look at the phone I realized I couldn't see it because my arms were still down and I wasn't really holding it, I was still paralyzed. I closed my eyes in the hallucination because they were too heavy to hold up, my body was pushing me into sleep as my mind tried to fight it. Unable to resist, I let sleepiness wash over me. Some seconds later I opened my eyes and was able to move, finally really awake. I reached for my phone, which was in a different spot than in the hallucination, and started getting up. I was a little less coordinated, my limbs felt huge, but I was definitely awake. The edges of the room were flowing and rainbow like an acid flashback, but that faded within a few minutes.

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Maelstroms and Vortex

Mar. 3rd, 2009 | 08:36 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 3-3-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009
My initial thoughts on vortexes and matrices was that while vortexes are obviously more complex, they might be mappable onto matrices if the matrices were a series of serial snap shots to show changes in the vortex over time. I imagined matrices which captured the vortex in horizontal and vertical cross-sections. However, I realized I was thinking about mapping them in terms of the position in space and time particles within the vortex are located (opposed to the vortex itself). We can see where the things are and where they go through a dense, rapid series of matrices, but this shows the "results" of the vortex, not the vortex itself. A vortex is more than what objects it carries and how they move within it - it is an entity which would exist without the particles (cows, boats, fir trees) within in. Obviously air particles and water particles may be necessary. To map the substance it moves in onto a series of matrices would show the differences in pressure at various locations (the forward-flanking downdraft, rear-flanking downdraft, converging fronts) through density, but the essential information about energy direction may be lacking in the type of matrices I generally imagine.

I'm not sure if there is a scale for dynamicism. Static seems fairly rigid a concept, even if something truly static is as possible as a straight line existing. What makes a vortex dynamic? The complex interplay of very interdependent factors combined with a certain level of unpredictability? What kind of variance occurs among vortexes? Strength, destruction, lifespan, how far they travel, of course, but what kind of variance within the structure, angle of funnel and speed gradients from brim to abyss? What exactly makes it difficult to map?

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Ascent from the Maelstrom

Mar. 2nd, 2009 | 08:35 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 3-2-2009
Added to Impassioned_ on 5-26-2009
Ascent from the Maelstrom

To Survive a Maelstrom:
You cannot beat it with force or cunning, only with the foresight to avoid any area where it might develop. If you are drawn in, you must enter into a state of observance and analytic, objective removal from the situation. You have to open your eyes and look at the surrounding black ebony walls. You have to be willing to wait until the right time to abandon ship. To survive you must be able to look at what kind of objects float, which plummet, and recall the wreckage of previous maelstroms. At some point the maelstrom survivor must become detached from his peril, go beyond the fear, and realize his doom is not inevitable. In the face of doom, he must be willing to jump from temporary security the boat bolt-ring into a greater unknown.

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Mar. 2nd, 2009 | 08:32 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 3-2-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

As more let their duties fall, slip them off their shoulders, the work of the less apathetic increases. Summits are harder to climb when the first few stairs are not kept clean, when the gear is antiquated. The slack in the rope will make things feel easy for a while, until the sudden pull of the docked barge, the tremendous achievement that will float away if not roped in. Where once there were five sets of strong arms, now there are three, soon to be two. The first one to leave could do so because there were more than enough to hold it. The second because he envied the first. The third because the job became uncomfortable. The last ones standing will leave because it breaks the body to stay. If they're smart, those last few will let go at the same time, exchanging knowing defeated glances instead of leaving the other to hold it alone and be pulled into the water. They might not be "mad as hell", maybe just exhausted as hell, as disappointed as hell.

Who would have guessed assets require maintenance, progress requires effort, good decisions require consideration? We haven't built the effective cultural tools yet to counteract instinctual instant gratification (when it comes at a significant loss of long term benefits). As much as it has tried, most religions and laws couldn't do it. We haven't adapted to agriculture yet; we're still hunters and gathers foraging and hoarding desperately in a land of surplus. Outpaced by technology, we need to catch up to it by changing how we treat it.

How is that achieved? Education is a useful tool, but it speaks to one dimension and not the useful one. A truly useful education will be passed down in families, maybe institutionalized but definitely localized. If our shared cognition can adapt, perhaps we can hold out until our brains do. I'd like to look into the future and watch a species better cognitively equipped to handle our technology evolve. There's little cause for me to be specieist in my brief flash of an existence.

I wonder how to characterize the types of opinions that emerge from the depths of cynicism. Often the evaluation of a situation is correct, but presented as having outcomes tainted by emotion. You get a very clear picture of current affairs, but a misrepresented or unbalanced (or non-holistic) version of its implications. I think that clarity about the present can give them some sort of authority and credibility, which is often misapplied to their interpretation of what the situation means. They are a strange breed, trapped in something within themselves that is not completely attributable to their experience or surroundings...

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Feb. 25th, 2009 | 06:58 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 2-25-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

Taking a look at my notes and after my last post, I realized how important the limit/boundary distinction might be. Boundaries generally are encompassing, closure minus interior, whereas limits are the furthest, utmost, and seem to have a slightly different meaning. Functionally, I'm not quite sure what implications this has on the interpretation. If there is a difference at all, I imagine it like this:


with the boundary on the inside, and the limit on the outside, potentially not existing and certainly with mathematical concepts floating around in it.

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Feb. 25th, 2009 | 06:56 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 2-25-2009
Added to Impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

Here's a narrative!

Two years ago, almost exactly, a girl sat in the second row of a college classroom as a marker squeaked out the sloppy script of her professor. "Quote of the Day" was scrawled instead of "QoD" because "QoD" represented "Question of the Day." "Quote" is three letters shorter than "Question." No one in the class knew they would be tested on the authors of the quotes come the first exam, and this was to later cause some very vocal protests, but luckily this quote resonated with her enough that she would never forget it. "The limits of my language are the limits of my world" -Ludwig Wittgenstein it said, though no one could tell. Once it was said aloud she copied it down in more legible handwriting.

Characteristically, she balked immediately. To suggest that her world was limited by her ability to articulate seemed unlikely. (She would latter understand language in other ways, reducing this immediate reaction.) Though she had once boasted publicly that nothing was ineffable, she had experienced lately many things she could not express, and felt there was more to the world than was captured in these discrete units of thought. She thought of a limit in conventional, geometric terms - a fence that could not be leaped, a containing wall that could not be looked through.

She was presented with the quote many times after that in strange places. She thought about it, sometimes agreeing, other times disagreeing. There were points where it seemed the quintessential question of her education; is there more to the world than what language can capture, is there more to the world than thought can capture, where is the line between language and thought, where is the line between thought and world...

And then recently, with derivatives fresh and delightful to her mind, she began to think of it with a new perspective. The limits of my ideas have changed as my concept of limits changed. Taken from a mathematical perspective, does Wittgenstein's quote take on a different meaning? The "always approaching but never quite reaching" connotation/denotation begins to sparkle, as does a constant inching towards infinity.

Are the limits of language the limits of our world? Perhaps just a world made up of facts. If you cannot express it logically with language, can it not exist? That seems an extremist view few would venture to take, perhaps a more moderate view is that if it is not articulated it is not a reality fully understood.

I do beleive as my language changes, my world definitely changes. Those changes probably could not be made without changes to language; but perhaps other changes to our world is made without language. It's not "the limits of my world are the limits of my language" for a reason; it seems language encompasses many things beyond the world [of facts].

It's very appropriate to think of the process of articulation, the process of perception, and the interplay. It's a thought provoking and humbling and I'm still without any definite opinions or explanations.

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Dreams and Wittgenstein

Feb. 25th, 2009 | 06:54 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 2-25-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

Dreams and Wittgenstein
Preamble: I am very conscious of the ways emotions influence what I choose to write. I navigate potential sentences with a quick evaluation I consider an emotional-intuition one. I feel for the right words, comparing a working model (built of emotional responses) to what I want to convey (also built of emotional responses). Some days I think math is simply manipulating emotions, emotions of rightness and incorrectness.

Anyway, as we spoke of Wittgenstein I remembered a strange dream I had, so I think I'll apply some gentle, customized psychoanalysis to search for meaning, then describe the insight I think it brought me for Wittgenstein.

This was the dream trigger: The world is everything that is the case. The world is the totality of facts, not of things.

I was thinking about the definition of "world" and thought to myself, almost out of mary-mary-quite-contrariness: The world is everything that is the case AND is not the case. That paradoxical nonsense obviously is exactly what logical Wittgenstein was engineering against, but it seemed a sensible thing; I was essentially responding with, "the limits of my world are not the limits of my thought."

The moment I thought "The world is everything that is the case AND is not the case" I remembered the dream I had awoke from that morning.

(As an aside in response to class discussion, the problem with deciding if anyone ever remembers a dream they did not directly wake from is that it is hard to delimit where one dream ends and another begins. Sometimes I think remember multiple dreams, some of which I didn't wake during, but from an EEG perspective, they might be the same dream.) Generally, tangets are too satisfying to apologize for, unless they're simply uninteresting.

I really must preface this by saying despite my frequent recording of dreams, I almost never consider them too meaningful. Like a Rorsch inkblot test, I generally use them to show me what conclusions my mind jumps to in interpretation and to know what sorts of things I have been processing, subconsciously. I notice trends between reading violent comic books and many guns and murders appearing in my dreams. In those senses the content can be meaningful, but rarely will I fret over "what does it mean?".

In the dream there was a room with ordinary objects, maybe containing a stove, but not necessarily a kitchen. If a rooms were a people, this room would be it's archetype. It seemed to approach pure schema, or was closer to the platonic form. Most often I dream about specific places and am in specific rooms [complete with wallpaper and dirty windows] even if they are unknown to me, but not this one. I am pretty sure most of the inanimate objects in the room had given me a statement about what they were about. I feel as though they probably stated what they were, what they did, not from any faces or with spoken language, just conveyed it directly into my dream consciousness. A white stove, a brown couch, a window with curtains, and then, what I remember most, a dark door. There may have been other enterances in and out of the room, much is unclear except this:

The door "was" a certain person that I am close to. I looked at the door and knew it was him. Not trapped in the door, not part of the door; he was the door and the door was him. The door was half-open, half-closed, and stationary. It was dark wood, like a black-cherry or mahogony with a very dark stain. The light on the grain of the door was very distinct and clear to me, as if I was very close to it.

The door conveyed to me these specific words, "I am the door and I am not the door. I am open and I am closed. The wind blows through and the wind does not blow through. I am and I am not."

How strangely symbolic and prophetic, I thought. It odd that the symbol is meaningful in ways of the conventional connotation. I almost completely reject that this could mean what it seems to mean, and I'm not sure why. Is it denial of the obvious? Is my subconscious not using obvious connotations but using the door for some other purpose? Or is it simply meaningless and should not be taken for more than face value? The contradictions the door presents are familar ones, probably retrieved from thoughts about Zen and understanding the world through contradictions. There's something here I almost have a hold of, and yet it slips between my mental fingers. Looking at the words, open and closed is not really a contradition, just a matter of being half way. The wind blowing seems to be more of an absolute sort of thing, similar to existence. Because it is a dream, of course the door is and is not, but I beleive it was a contradiction meant to be interpreted as reality, maybe. It's as if Magritte's pipe was before me, whispering "c'est ne pas une pipe" itself.

So that's the strange dream. If I gave it meaning, it might be that the person is beyond simple classifications, must be understood from many perspectives, and that I have certain mental limitations for understanding reality. Or that I have to pass through this, but the person is neutral, an object, in the decision. Or that my assessment of the situation must be multidimensional. Anyway I look at it, it seems as though my mind were playing a joke on myself by presenting symbols and statements it knew would be puzzling and ambiguous. I've been seeing and playing with ambiguity everywhere, making the search of meaning much more interesting and dynamic.

Finding the memory of the dream was startling, if not mildly terifying. Uncovering/retrieving a memory unexpectedly always seems to be emotional, like discovering a new finger.

And so, bringing this to bear on Wittgenstein, where is that logical space? My mental world world seems to consist of non-facts, too. Pictures of facts are also facts, but I seem to have pictures of non-facts, facts which are non-facts, laying around. I think I understand exactly where he is coming from in some respects, how he is defining the "world" (I once wore that "A is A" shirt out in public). Maybe the way he is defining facts includes the sorts of things I categorize as non-facts and when made precise and explicit enough, maybe they become facts. I don't think that's the case... I sometimes think logic and truth do not capture the nuances of existence, nor even fuzzy logic, as I understand it. Logic neglects all the necessary qualifiers in my mind, so many things are assumed.... [Sometimes it's wise to abandon a train of thought that begins to lack clarity, I think]

The proposition 2.161 really interested me: In the picture and the pictured there must be something identical in order that the one can be a pictire of the other at all.

What is it that's identical? I don't even have the beginning of an answer, except maybe that it's what is caused in the human mind and not any physical characteristic. Picture A triggers thing X in mind. Fact B also triggers thing X in mind. But defining X beyond just "the characteristic which both have that causes one to understand B is a representation of A" is such a reach - a reach into the unknown for me.

It gets back to the old question, what does something need to have in order for a certain meaning to be constructed in a certain mind?

And, as trite as this might sound, is there ever a fact that is not a picture? Picture A is a fact, and yet it is not a "fact-Fact". It is a picture of a fact. Are those facts differing from Platonic forms? (Is everyone just saying the same thing different ways or am I only ever able to interpret it all through a very limited lens of understanding?)

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Standing In the Field

Feb. 20th, 2009 | 06:50 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 2-20-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

(see: Wheatfield with Crows )

Standing In the Field
The crows found in the flock seem to be more salient - my mind finds meaning from the fear there, in the more realistic-feeling shapes in the blur there than the simple Vs that fly separated, distinctly. What we see in the unknown, what shapes of the world we invent, can have more meaning to us than that which is more objective and obvious. Those hidden things to come, bearing down, are much more ominous.

It's such a noisy painting, if I've ever seen one. So many crows, enough to blacken the sky, surrounding all senses with dirty rustlings and angry, frightening cries. Three crows are awful, but hundreds flying are an unbearable noise to stand below. Both paths lie beneath the flock, you would have to cross through the corn to not pass under. Entering the corn is not an especially pleasant option either. Listening to the sounds in the painting, while the crows are unbearably loud above, the cornfield has its own frightening rustle. To run there would be to submerge oneself in a place where every rustle could be something, a place of constant uncertainty. Countless movies portray cornfields as scary, dangerous places. People are always running in them to hide from danger, and it always provides effective suspense. ("Signs" "Forrest Gump" and of course, "Children of the Corn")

Some of the crows fly low and close, and while they can be pushed off, hundreds more remain overhead to harass. They will be with you, no matter where you go.

Yes, it's very powerful and unsettling. What's the worst is the impression that the crows are what's really behind the blue sky. It's as if behind every hope and pleasant thing, an angry blackness lay. It's as if the edges of a more-real world are revealed, and it's an awful, writhing place where your senses are completely overloaded. The murder has completely conquered, erased with darkness the blue sky, perhaps permanently. You are below the murder, beneath the center of the flock. From where the viewer is standing, the sky above is completely black and your existence is surrounded by the overwhelming, confusing noise. This is not sadness or melancholy, but an tortuous existence without peace, with no path to avoid continuing beneath it. The edges of the world slip away into this madness, with only one very long path with the hope of getting out. What's terrible about crows and madness is that both can move with you and follow you as you try to move away.

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Text of Our Lives

Feb. 12th, 2009 | 06:49 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 2-12-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

When interpreting a life, which methods are appropriate to employ?

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Las Meninas

Feb. 5th, 2009 | 06:44 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 2-5-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009
Note: Very Casual Speculation

What really struck me about Las Meninas is what the regions of light and relation of figures would look like if viewed from above. I think this thought was provoked by the depth of the painting, Las Meninas strikes me as especially three dimensional. There are various foreground and background levels, it seems no two figures, except those viewed in the mirror, are on the same horizontal plane, nor do their bodies face the same direction. I produced an interesting image useful to compositional analysis, to see if there was meaning to be found from this perspective. I realize initially as I looked at the diagram I had created that I was looking for meaningful symbols, such as those in higher levels of analysis defined by culture, the secondary or tertiary as described by Panofsky. The diagram seems a good tool for the primary, but I'm not sure I get much meaning from it except a different perspective on the balance already presented. It was a good experiment, but I don't think I know enough to really understand what the technique would get me.


Bold lines represent the viewer.

These planes are completely changed in the Picasso version. The neat star-like image dissipates completely different, sometimes ambiguous spatial relations. I think the relation of the figures in the first it is made noticeable by the lack of that type of relation in Picasso's Las Meninas.

I'm really quite unsure of what the cubist movement was doing, exactly. It might be something of a chicken-egg problem, but I wonder if they were trying to achieve something and found cubism to be the way to do it, or if cubism emerged and everyone declared it was doing these things. Is it part of the deconstructionist movement?

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I've said no vows.

Feb. 1st, 2009 | 03:03 am

Late nights are good for writing. The events of the day are immediate enough to be remembered vividly, but distant enough to be faced with contemplative, reflective calm. I see the once-genuine morphing into flippancy kissed by sardonic irony when faced with audiences these days.

My conscious observation skills have been soaring as my desire to share them diminishes. I've been noticing more and more, feeling my mind activate more and more. It's a retreat into inner-vividness, something I've felt like doing despite the countless times I've seen processing improve through verbal communication. I long for lofty vis-a-vis, but have not actively facilitated it.

As uncharted worlds emerge, it takes time to integrate them into the maps. I've driven the sea monsters to new depths.

I have a lot of work to do tomorrow. Writing of a LISP program (oh shit!), biology of mind readings and essays, editing for the hundredth time my grand proposal, calculus homework, and then some Kant readings. I was going to go to bed early after the excess of yesterday night, but I began writing letters. By two a.m. I had settled into the mood where all I want is words, words to find my thoughts. I am sure if I try there will be time for every thing tomorrow, except the super bowl.

It's February these days. Of 2009. (Later than I thought - time gains a slippery quality if you don't hold it tight, but not too tight).

Sometimes I forget the things I thought I'd remember forever. It shows how poorly I predicted then what would be ingrained and what would blend, bend and blur. I remember thinking "I'll remember this forever" and where I was when I said it, but all else flickers and details seem ambiguous.

There's some comfort in nostalgia, some satisfaction in the familiar mental caresses smoothing the past, maintaining familiarity with memory rather than real events. I think of it as a pleasant diversion, like laying in bed imaging the day I am asked to lecture at Cornell and produce an amazing album.

I'm currently reading Dune. It's the best Science Fiction I've read.

The train is getting way too loud.

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Significance and Linguistic versions of meaning

Jan. 28th, 2009 | 06:41 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 1-28-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009
Note: I really think I should read up on my Lacan

Significance and Linguistic versions of meaning:
It appears this far my focus has been on attribution of significance and when should something be considered meaningful opposed to the linguistic branch of meaning we focused on last class.

I'd like to reread and determine if any of the passages address the question: Can there be pure forms which no object manifests any characteristics of? Forms in the Realm which no image or narrative can approach WHATSOEVER? Maybe they were asserting god was completely unapproachable, but it seemed even little parts of god were possible, and the trouble was that little parts without the whole provided the danger. So, to clarify, is it that god could not be represented at all, not even in the littlest bit, or was it that god could be represented a little but not completely?

It's curious that the passages on idolatry seem to indicate if you are not going to be able to reach the full meaning - if an idea cannot be completely and accurately represented - it's better not to try at all. Almost a "If you're not going to win a battle, why fight?" mentality. The fear of a misleading image is so prevalent, from golden calves and Abraham's father's shop to modern-day misleading advertising controversies [to return to images as commodities]. Is this because we've sensed how prone humans are to believing images? The danger in how easily convinced the mind is by the eyes? "I'll believe it when I see it" is a common mistake with universal deceptive perceptive powers, one which the ancients seemed to understand and tried to defend against. In addition to our reliance on the visual system for survival, could the fact that some of us often think in images contribute to this danger? Are those who process more in images any more likely to be fooled by false images? Are those who process more in language more likely to be fooled by false narratives? My first inclination is to respond with an intuitive "no" that skill in a certain media might provide for better differentiation between fact and falsehood. Instead, I would consider the danger of false images to lie mostly in the increased attribution of "truth tags" or "certainty emotions" to things that are seen because of that human reliance on the visual system.

Time for class, note to self - investigate the structures that help us find meaning/"make sense" (such a good way to put it: "make sense". Because! understanding must be created individually and cannot be transferred directly, only the tools or clues for understanding). Hmmm.

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Music and Platonic Pure Forms

Jan. 27th, 2009 | 06:39 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 1-27-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

Music and Platonic Pure Forms
Lots of thoughts today in class - here's just one

Earlier in this blog today I was speculating on the media of music conveying a different type meaning. I could integrate platonic thought into these spectra, and consider music closer to pure forms (of emotions or thoughts) in the same way the geometric has been thought to approach platonic pure forms/god [in Islamic thought]. This thought bubbled up when I remembered music in terms of the geometric, the more "geometric" the music [Mozart vs. Beyonce] the closer to pure forms it becomes. Note: It all sounds rather Pythagorean to me.

Not to be too predictable in my interests, but one interesting thing about music is that it approaches the pure forms in a very transient, immediate, temporal way. If our pure forms are temporal and dynamic, perhaps music resembles them further in this manner. I could see both "existing" supersets or nominal pure forms having a temporal dimension.

Emotion seems to be the thing I've been returning to a lot. Maybe the reason more things produce an emotional response/have emotional meaning is because of the structure of emotion. Emotions could be such complex phenomena or pure forms, it's easy for a situation or object to have the necess&suff conditions to cause that emotion. I'm thinking of emotions in terms of 3D fluid analog waves representing neuronal activity, which analog situation data in the world can match up to like enzyme parts, and subsequently evoking the emotions. SO, maybe when we add that temporal dimension to music, we more resemble the flow of our own emotions (the rythmic, complex patterns of firing, the pure form, the god of consciousness) and thus have something more meaningful.

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Meaning of Life

Jan. 27th, 2009 | 06:38 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 1-27-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

How frustrating it is to try and find meaning in patterns of events which will yield no clear significance. Why do we think there should be or is meaning in life at all? I think of a thousand generations of widows searching a blank horizon wondering 'what does it all mean'. I think of those at the wakes of all the "meaningless" deaths... What is it that indicates (in the first place) that there is a meaning to be found? What about life convinces humans there is a meaning to seek? Usually, I think if people eventually find some sort of peace, it's through acceptance that either: 1) there is no meaning to be found, or 2) asserting the meaning exists but can only be apprehended by a superior consciousness or being.

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A meaningful glance; glancing with meaningfulness.

Jan. 27th, 2009 | 06:34 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 1-27-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009
Note: This was prior to doing any reading on the topic and is rather immature and under-developed. However, it appears unedited.

A meaningful glance; glancing with meaningfulness.
Speculative thoughts on the search of meaning:

I've begun this search by thinking about the meaning of meaning. What makes something meaningful, what is the distinction between meaningful objects and non-meaningful objects, and are there different categories of meaning?

What is the distinction between meaningful objects and non-meaningful objects:
The initial tendency is to think of meaningful objects as those such as narratives and images created with the goal of conveying some sort of meaning. However, in the right context, an object which would normally carry little meaning, such as an orange, can become extremely meaningful. Sitting on the table of my home, it can be meaningless, but in the malnourished hand of a child wanting for vitamin C, it becomes meaningful. We've established the non-trivial, but expected idea that context is important to meaning. Maybe what makes art "more" meaningful is that it is able to convey a message in a wide range of contexts (i.e. true art is universal) or on limited contexts outside itself. I imagine the more context you give in a book, the more meaning your symbols will hold. Porfiry's small gestures increase in meaningfulness as time goes on.

The search of meaning is partially an attempt to define meaning. What is happening in an organism when they find something meaningful? For some time I've thought as meaningfulness as an emotional response. People, (especially emotionally unstable women come to mind), find meaning in things other don't when in heightened emotional states. It can be induced by drugs that make every little moment or event seem meaningful. And those searching desperately for meaningful evidence, such as in extreme Christianity, are apt to find it (paired with an emotional response of certainty). There might just be some things which are somewhat guaranteed to cause this emotional response in humans, and these are the universally meaningful. Context primes for this emotional response, making it more or less likely to occur. A painting of a pregnant woman among lions may be meaningful, but the image of your pregnant wife among lions is likely to cause a much greater heart-surging of importance and meaningfulness.

That's how it may work for humans, at least. I think machines can experience meaningfulness of a different type, worthy of future discussion. For humans, this emotional response might indicate "useful information" or "representative of important information." If you had been searching to the answer to a puzzle and you learn a piece of essential information, such as the spice on Arrakis is addictive, that information would be meaningful. Or, if you see a dozen red flowers and those roses represents important information, such as "he really cares about me," those flowers become meaningful and hung upside down to dry for six months. Those roses might just be meaningful because of their implications, after the bed's long cold they're thrown out, their meaning dissipates.

I'm not sure if it's different and distinct, but a related form of meaningfulness might be "the implications of this object or event." [It occurs to me now I should actually look up the definition of meaningfulness because Webster probably already has this all covered]. Is there a distinction between intrinsic meaning and meaningful implications? Is meaning ever anything more than the implications of seeing an object? Maybe not. Can meaning exist without context? Maybe that's a silly question because there may always be a context of some sort, just not the meaning-facilitating context...

There seems to be a definite difference in the meaning a painting or narrative can hold and the meaning a wordless musical composition can hold. One can describe what is aesthetically pleasing about all three in terms of style, but it's difficult to assert that Rite of Spring and other pieces mean X, Y, or Z. This might be an instance of a work of art only having one sort of meaningful implications, such as the cultural change it initiated or what it meant for a career. This kind of implication seems different than the kind of implications a red fern gives growing over a grave. It feels like the difference lay in the relation of a person to the implications, again a context change.

If the music itself means something intrinsic, it's much more elusive. What causes this elusiveness? Is it the medium? It causes emotions, but of a different type. Is the distinction the ambiguity found in music what it represents? To be meaningful must there be a degree of clarity about what the art is referring to? When a composer constructs music, it seems they are not sending a message past a sensual/emotion level of awareness, opposed to a narrative or reflective level of awareness. So, for a piece of art to have this quality of meaning separate from the type of related, external implications described, maybe it needs to speak to a more reflective and narrative level of awareness. Is the difference between abstract art and realism? Emotional responses like sadness and joy (opposed to the emotional response of meaningfulness) and clear messages? It seems like a variety of interrelated spectrum in addition to these might come into play in the creation of meaning.

The spectrum of which level of awareness the piece can access, related to the spectrum of context, which involves a spectrum of the "life-changing factor." How life changing is this going to be? How much is my consciousness going to be altered after viewing or reading this?
Oh! Oh! Maybe the reason art has a different kind of elusive meaning is because it can only change on an emotional level, which is accessed in a different way for molding future actions. I imagine emotional-changes are much more gradual and complex than the propositional meaning easy to find and use from narratives. The meaning or theme of a book is something which can be chunked and remembered, recalled and USED in such a way that consciousness and future actions are significantly altered. Are those who find meaning in many things those who can easily change their consciousness, who are more susceptible to the outside influences changing their life?

I'd say, music, fine arts, then written narrative all fall on a spectrum of accessibility (in that order) of meaningfulness. It's easy to access and use the meaning found in words, more complex from images, and even more complex from music. (Is this a reflection of my individual cognition? I don't think so, but that sounds like simply a list of the ways I know how to communicate based on my skill development. Undoubtedly how we generate communication best biases what will have meanings in the world, but to what degree?)

Alright - this all seems very unclear, but I think I've worked through a few vague thoughts a little better. The differences between meanings in music and literature still seems important. As does the question of intrinsic meaning and role of context.

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In Search of Meaning

Jan. 22nd, 2009 | 06:30 pm

From my "In Search of Meaning Blog"
First appearing 1-22-2009 as an introduction to my quest for meaning
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009
His movement began casually. Familiar grip, turn of knob, gentle push, all executed unconsciously. But as his eyes widened midswing, the door flew open, forcefully sent to bounce loudly off the back wall. He searched their surprised faces, scanning the scene before him, shouting, whispering, sighing at once, "WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?!"

The students were unusually talkative.
"It doesn't matter!" one screeched quickly, assertively despondent.
"We can't tell" another added kindly, "at least not for not for sure."
"There isn't any!"
"Depends on the context"
A sardonic voice called, "Only you can answer that for yourself" while someone in the front-seat authoritatively began listing possible answers from a seemingly infinite list.

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Hollowness by the bonfire by the lake [protected post]

Jan. 15th, 2009 | 08:03 pm

From my "Second Salience Journal"
First appearing 1-15-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

05:35 pm - Hollowness by the bonfire by the lake [protected post]
"I don't know how long I can hold on
If it's gonna be like this (forever)"

If the edges of the ice retreated from the flames, it was happening too slowly to perceive. Yet it was obvious by nightfall that the circle of bare ground had expanded while I sat contentedly mesmerized by the flickering. The world was projected like made-for-french-theatre vintage films played on a 1970s TV, and I had sat passively, drained in the light.

Hunting my fleeting thoughts down as they escaped into the darkening, surrounding wood had proved tiresome. I realized I would have to stand days in a clear-minded clearing, nourishment in hands held like Mary's or a monk's, and wait for them to shyly, hesitatingly return. [No whispered prayers, just whistles in the dark]

I think of the day last spring when I placed seed in my palm and stood, outstretched. I had done the same for hours, unsuccessfully, at the age of five when the feeder hung high above my head. [Persistent hope long after it was reasonable, determination and stamina] But last spring it worked and a black-capped-chickadee alighted onto the edge of my cupped hand. Patience and gentleness, that's what it will take this time, too. Its weight was surprising, or lack there of. Each feather, every detail, fine and light, it's small movements rapid and alert, as if an erratic wildness needed constant attention to restrain. It left for the nearest branch and returned, lingering longer and eating more each time.

Current Music: Touched Something Hollow - Of Montreal

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Your Crawling Things

Jan. 7th, 2009 | 08:04 pm

From my "Second Salience Journal"
First appearing 1-7-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

We had promised to put them away,
your crawling things -

By day we vanquished them with lightness,
betwix, a bright and tender, reassuring, glow,
then whispered at night to one another gently,
for fear your crawling things would awake anew.

Optimistically, we scraped and peeled them off,
Shower, gardenias, soft scrubs, then rinse
Your creeping, crawling things collected in a shoe box
and stalled in smothering pursuit

Each banking on the other,
we locked them beneath the trust funds and just above the watch,
Safe depositing hushed your creeping things
silencing a progressive, paralyzing, arachnid lust.

(But somewhere in your seeking
They crawled out through the cracks,
Somehow, relaxing without reception,
only invited your crawling things back!

And now they crawl along my spine,
and up my legs in the bed we share,
your creeping things let loose again,
or new ones born from our troubled lair.)

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Reeking of Condescension...

Jan. 7th, 2009 | 07:49 pm

From my "Second Salience Journal"
First appearing 12-5-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009
06:10 pm - Reeking of Condescension...
and cigarettes, he took the schedule from my gloved hands. Fluorescent flickers showed the routes the fleet of near-empty buses would take that night. "Does the route run in both directions?" I asked. It seemed like a reasonable question, considering how the time listing was set up. But having grown up rarely using public transportation and judging by his response, I suspect it may not have not been reasonable at all. "Don't you know how to read" he asked me in disbelief, then quietly added "schedules like these?" I had already laughed before he finished. "Obviously not" and I left, leaving the bus, moving inside to a place where I could look at the schedule again, checking and triple checking that the right bus would come. After a productive day of academic research and analysis, I still had asked for help reading the bus schedule.

I walk in the mornings past empty cars running in driveways and ice-laden trees. My backpack weighed today exactly a sixth of my weight, just over the 15% maximum recommended by middle school posture police. Yesterday I noticed that it's been rubbing into my lower back in the place a red scar sits now. Every day at the end of work, I'm sure that I'll continue working at home and need resources. Eventually, I'll learn that the books remain in the bag all night and only my laptop is used.

I imagine that if I didn't have the backpack, my footprints wouldn't be quite so deep in the ice-coated snow each morning. As I crunch deep, I invent a companion from the owner of the only other set of prints on the sidewalk. I walk as though I were walking next to him, never crossing and stopping when he does. The time dividing us disappears (twenty minutes? two hours?) and we exist simultaneously, if only in my mind and the mind of the next passerby.

Along the walk to the bus stop there are metal wind chimes which leave a unseasonal, chaotic melody in the predawn air, even when I cannot feel any wind. I am not sure if it should be attributed to the dry air, the silence of the morning, or the surprise of hearing it in winter, but there is a strange purity to the ringing.

My day revolved around a grant proposal today. It's a long process, especially because it will be reviewed by people who mostly have no experience in my field of study and I have to adjust accordingly. Up until recently, I had not considered the possibility of not get funding. Now it looms as a possible outcome if I am not clear or convincing enough. A great and worthy challenge, to be sure.

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Sleep Paralysis - The Third Time

Jan. 5th, 2009 | 07:36 pm

From my "Sleep Paralysis Diaries"
First appearing 3-9-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

The third time:
Earlier this semester (January or February, 2009) I had a shorter instance sleep paralysis. I awoke looking at my friend's wall and couldn't move my body. I starred at the wall and thought instantly about the conversation at the Cognitive Science club where I had discussed the last time it had happened. It was the middle of the night, and I was much less fearful or worried. I wanted to roll over, (I was sleeping on my side. Other times I have been sleeping on my back), but couldn't. After a few seconds I was freed, and was able to roll over and state aloud that I had just had sleep paralysis.

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On the People

Dec. 5th, 2008 | 07:48 pm

From my "Second Salience Journal"
First appearing 12-5-2008
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009

03:47 pm - On the people.
What craziness is it that considers each type of craziness one's own? Reading the DSM, does it define the person who thinks each definition fits themselves? Those self-diagnosing conceited individuals, unaware of the extremes of others, think their small delusions and mild instability compare to those of the wildly insane. Quick to mention their bipolarity, their borderline, and spicy sprinkling of schizophrenia, they function fully in this romance, scorning those truly teetering on the edge of sane existence.

And then, what type of miserable person considers each misery of strangers their own? Those whose hearts opened too far slowly split, lacerations creeping like ivy along the edges, find their sympathy works against them, and unable to act, find themselves aching with each glace with another.

How sobering for those late adolescents to feel themselves slowly solidify. To suddenly wake up one day and realize their habits are harder to break and flaws harder to heal, or perhaps they just are deeper and more complex than could perceived when younger. With an unconscious sigh, fluid personalities gel and there's a small feeling, which will remain unvoiced for thirty years, that maybe he didn't know all he thought he did.

It is here a few girls will realize that each daughter's fear that she will become her mother is what makes her exactly like her mother. Her mother dreads in the same way as she does. Dreading that dread is like walking into infinite mirrors. Dreading of the dreading of the dread occurs acutely and recursively, but is sharper when seen from eyes in the unending reflections of her mother's body.

Both are equally worse: an active fight against it which ultimately insures it, and a passive growth with sudden, shocking revelation. Even resignation to her fate cannot ease the process because she will become her, regardless.

And if she is lucky to have something of her own, some little uniqueness and definite difference to hold close as proof, her mother probably had something else, different but similar in nature, she held close to in the same way.

And if she does something different than her mother, some adventure or field of study, the mother probably did something different from the grandmother in the same way.

(This is not my story, but every girl's. Some, like me, are lucky to have wonderful mothers, and to become women like their mothers and my mother is perfectly respectable. It is not the mothers themselves that are so bad, so terrifying, but rather the abandonment of childish hopes for pure individuality, the resignation that perhaps her thoughts, her responses, those oceanic emotions, and her fate are not as unique as she hypothesized in her teens.)

With vehement denial or uneasy unawareness, life slowly creeps through us, speeding, and twisting, as we invent ourselves and invent worthy opponents, like Time. If you want to know the caliber of a man, learn about the opponents he has created for himself, and those he has uncreated. Some only fight themselves when they've laid waste to all others, or befriended them.

There are some who only create jokes. This is effective, for those who try to defeat anything not meant to be serious only hurt themselves in the process. But when the jokes cease to be enjoyable and light-hearted, vulnerable seriousness has creeps up anyway, and then other shields and foxholes must be found.

At the end of the moment, we add up our emotions, like arithmetic, and try to come out ahead. Many people are poor accountants, unable to see the value of long-term investments, keeping bad records and ignoring trends. Cycling annually, fudging the numbers to show to investors, we try to stay afloat...
Current Music: Cycling Trivalites - Jose Gonzalez

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Sleep Paralysis - The Second Time

Nov. 11th, 2008 | 07:35 pm

From my "Sleep Paralysis Diaries"
First appearing 3-9-2009
Added to impassioned_ on 5-26-2009
The Second Time
Date Unknown, Probably November 2008

The second time happened before the Cognitive Science meeting but after I had researched Sleep Paralysis. I was aware of what was happening. This time I was in my own bed early in the morning. I awoke, unable to move. My hand was against the bed railing of the loft, and I was aware of the sensation. I drifted in and out of consciousness, working to keep my mind calm. The more intense the hallucinations and paralysis, the harder this is to do. This was a relatively mild instance, and I was able to think through the situation and wait it out.

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