Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mental shifts 2

Of the past we have only memories.
Memories fade, and are modified by later memories and concepts/considerations put upon them. Memories have status, in relation to how often we dwell on them. Memories are linked together by association, and/or chronology. Memories are primarily, so far as we know, stored physically/chemically in your meat brain in patterns or arrangements of according various theoretical structures.

Of the present –which is a most narrow slice of always fleeing awareness – the now instant, for this we only have our senses. Sight, touch, smell, taste, hearing, and the sixth which is a variable, debated, denied sort of intuition or spiritual awareness.

Of the future, our minds can only guess, which is done by an internal function of extrapolation/imagination, which also does many other things. Our minds hold a mental conceptual space, not a physical space but a mental quality that can be described as a space. This is where we actually ‘are’ where we do our thinking, although the actual processing is done by your meat brain. But you don’t have any physical sensation of your meat brain. Blood flow cannot be felt, chemical balances have no dials and readouts, none of the physical aspects of the physical brain are directly sensed by us. The brain has none of the nerves that let the skin sense touch, heat, pain etc. So the thinking operations of the mind are in what we call consciousness, and I use the idea of an imagined space to describe it, but other non-real but metaphorically accurate systems of description can be invented.

So this mental conceptual space is larger and less limited than our senses. We receive sense data, not like computers receive data, but as living creatures receive it, seamlessly jumbled imprecise input. We then project 'out' onto the reality around us our world awareness concept. All we experience is really in our heads. I might see someone next to me shopping for a TV at the bestbuy website, but that image is being processed and made in my brain. Have you ever seen someone sleep with their eyes open? Eyes don’t stop seeing, but when asleep the brain stops processing images, and instead displays dream images it mysteriously creates. Hearing doesn’t stop when we’re asleep. All that info still comes in, but we only wake up when it becomes too loud or certain words are said. One of the evidences of our consciousness of the world being an internal representation is in how easily it can be disrupted chemically. Drugs affect the body, and the mind is a function of the body. All the drugs classified as psychotropic are the ones that strongly affect the mind, causing hallucinations that can be visual, audible, kinesthetic etc. Even getting sick with a bad cold can make a person ‘loopy’ and confuse the senses. Depression, and more severe things such as manic states are not just physical but mental. Even a healthy person within the bounds of ‘normal’ finds their mind affected by the chemical process of emotions. Tired, angry, happy, physically struggling with something, think about how your thought processes are in those states.

When we learn something, those concepts are forming neuron pathways in our brains. (at least that is a main theory believed to be true.) This is the physical connection with concepts, thoughts and the physical body. We understand mentally what has formed there physically, from repeated exposure. But the brain is very plastic, it forgets, and deforms ideas. It can also generate similar structures (if consciousness is a ‘space’ then ideas are ‘structures’) by imagination. This thought creation, synthesis process can be freeform, playful, creating dreams. It can be logical, procedural and also create dreams. Given the forgetfulness factor, repeated constant exposure needed to maintain and fix concepts. The mind ‘space’ we think from can be a blank slate, but usually isn’t, being fulled with immediate concerns and thoughts of what we are about to do.

All that to say that when changes happen, that is when new thoughts and concepts form in your mind through the instruction of others or your own recombination of knowledge, such change is interesting. Positively it is enjoyable, or it could be distressing, but that change is in the consciousness, the virtual workspace of your mind. That’s why people use sayings like ‘expand your mind.’ Society has discovered drugs didn’t work for that; instead drugs encouraged crime, homelessness and mental breakdown. Education is a more traditional and consistent way. The feelings of wonder and seeing everything around in a new way like I described yesterday is the result of a shifting/ destabilization/ enlarging of mental space. Because, those things I see and sense around me are really all in my head, in the mental space where I have concepts and values attached to objects that really have no capacity for emotion. Saying ‘that’s an ugly poster’ is about your valuation of what you perceive as the poster, not the physical object itself. “There is a pretty girl” is a mental concept you may revise depending on what you observe, the change may be in her actions or in your perception, but the place it happens is in your head.

This is an incomplete contemplation. There is still the element of spirit to consider, and a deeper look at how understanding this system of mental makeup affects how we understand reality and our awareness of it. But that will have to be for another day.

Grady Houger ~ Will interest outweigh the boring essay format?

only 924 words!

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