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Messages - Mesozoic Mister Nigel

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1
Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: Yesterday at 06:26:47 pm »
I do have to say, I don't buy into any "enlightenment" models of consciousness, at all.

I think there's a lot of baggage around the term Enlightenment, so let me unpack it a little bit so we don't get snagged.

I think that there are moments when we're more "awake" (to use a nebulous Gurdjieff term). But they don't last, we will always get distracted and lose it. You can spend your life meditating on a mountain, and have some holy experience, but as soon as you come down into the city and smell food, it's gone.  There are no "enlightened" people. There are enlightened moments.

This concept sounds a lot like making new connections and realizations. The moment of connection is instantaneous, and you do not remain in that moment indefinitely; rather, you integrate that realization into your existing worldview.

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With a lot of work, you might be able to stay in that moment for a minute or two, but that's the best you can hope for.

I am not sure there is benefit in nouning a verb.

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There are experiences, though, which will alter your perception, perhaps forever. Like, if you experience a real moment of ego-death... in that moment, all the information inside of you gets reorganized. You process things differently. The self has changed. There are a few kinds of meditative experiences that work like this (and non-meditative experiences too - take childbirth). In this thread I'm trying to explore paths to one of them.

In psychology, this is usually referred to as a cognitive crisis, and crisis resolution. I definitely agree that there is great benefit in learning to fluently navigate, and even invite, crisis resolution.

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I don't think there is a higher state of consciousness, nor do I believe that most of us live our lives in a suboptimal state.

I can observe in myself that my level of consciousness crests and troughs throughout the day. And that when it's in the higher state, I'm better at dealing with .. well, basically everything.

Example:
I get in an argument with somebody, I spend most of the day pacing around and stewing, mentally replaying it, fantasizing about what I could have said. We'd call this a low level of consciousness because I'm wrapped up IN the emotion, I'm not able to think ABOUT it.  I'm "out of balance". When I calm down, when the emotional poison has run its course, I feel different (physically), and I'm able to process the experience from a different angle. When I was pissed off, I couldn't see how I was wrong. When I am mindful, it's like I'm looking down on that battlefield from above, instead of fighting on the front line.

We could call this a "different" state. The gist of this thread is about trying to increase that capacity within oneself, to expand ones ability to operate their minds - so we're making a value judgment here, that it's a higher, more desirable state.

This sounds like rationality, ie. the harnessing of the prefrontal cortex to contemplate a situation using critical thinking skills, rather than being ruled by emotionally-driven impulses from the amygdala.

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I think that most of us don't spend enough time thinking rationally or methodically during the perfectly whole aware times we already experience.

The aim I'm discussing in this thread is different than just being more rational or methodical. The rational mind is one part of the self, but if we just focus on that, we will end up unbalanced. Speaking for myself, my problem is that I ignore my body, and I ignore my emotions. I will go entire days forgetting to eat, and then I get cranky and don't understand why. Or I will ignore my emotions in favor of a rational choice, and will ultimately become miserable. From a "mindful" state of being, it's obvious. But when I'm in the mix, it's invisible. I can only see the carrot 4 inches in front of my face.

It does sound like you need to get better at assessing and integrating your emotional and physical signals into your cortical processing.

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But, I may be getting hung up on the layers of mystical obfuscation. It's possible that what you mean by "awareness" is vastly less occluded than it seems.

We're talking about internal states which we can't show to each other, so we're forced to use shitty language

For my part, I am aiming to understand what Gurdjieff meant by "consciousness" -  it is not quite what we mean in the field of neuroscience. But it's worth exploring nonetheless. I recognize that discussing this topic in an esoteric context rather than a modern material one is not everybody's cup of tea.
 

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That said, it seems to me that the real challenge for most people is not accomplishing a higher state of awareness or attaining conscious performance of tasks that have long since been relegated to automatic control, but rather, learning to be comfortable just existing in one's own skin. Attaining a state of contentment with being alone with the self. Becoming at home existing with the memories and thoughts that flow through constantly as a side-effect of multiple network emergent property of consciousness.

Being comfortable with the self, being peaceful and still, is a fine aim.

We all know somebody, however, who is perfectly comfortable being a piece of shit. They actually need to be less comfortable, more critical and reflective, more connected to the people around them.

There's a state of being where you're able to observe which is correct for you - being able to enter that space is MY aim.

It still seems an awful lot like this is simply examining well-known concepts using an alternative vocabulary and a packaging of mysticism to make it look and feel like something different. This is the same objection I have to almost every form of mysticism I have encountered; occultism, occlusion, is employed to make it seem like a novel system when in fact it is not. I wonder at times what you might find if you took a year and seriously studied psychology and neuroscience. Maybe you're right, though, and those aren't the insights you're looking for.

2
Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: Yesterday at 06:15:06 pm »
There may be no such thing as a true "higher state of consciousness", but if there is something both indistinguishable from that to the experiencer and apparently that to the observer, there might as well be. There are states of awareness that can be and have been achieved almost as a matter of course by, say, indigenous Americans or yogis in Nepal, which endow them with a much greater awareness of their environments than the human default. See also many martial arts. I don't buy that these are the result of a spiritual awakening so much as deep training of one's senses, but what's the harm in allowing yourself to believe it's spiritual, if that makes it more interesting?

These states are context-dependent, and, at risk of being accused of being reductionist, seem largely to boil down to "people get good at doing that which they do frequently". So it's not the *human* default, it's the *environmental* default; what environment is this person in? What do they do frequently? A yogi in Nepal might be very bad at driving in Boston traffic, for example.

3
Richard Nixon's glittering half-life sarcophagus / Re: Oh, Oregon!
« on: Yesterday at 06:09:28 pm »
Wow. That's essentially using government position to harass or bully citizens, and I hope he gets the ACLU involved.

4
I must be doing something wrong. Just passed my 12th anniversary and have not yet resorted to slut-shaming or female oppression. I mean, maybe trapping women in loveless marriages and shoving them down into 2nd- or 3rd-class citizenship is one way to make a marriage last. But it seems a like a whole lot of not very rewarding work when you can get the same result just by not being an incredible asshole.

Spot on.

5
Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: Yesterday at 02:47:37 pm »
I believe that the search for a state of higher consciousness as a discrete experience, a sort of key to enlightenment or to a superior state of being, stands at risk of becoming like Vex's (or is it Junky's?) dreaming accountant's key to changing the world; the search for the shining key in lieu of doing the very un-glamorous day to day labor can serve as an obstacle from ever really achieving anything at all.

6
Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: Yesterday at 02:31:00 pm »
I do have to say, I don't buy into any "enlightenment" models of consciousness, at all. I don't think there is a higher state of consciousness, nor do I believe that most of us live our lives in a suboptimal state. I think that most of us don't spend enough time thinking rationally or methodically during the perfectly whole aware times we already experience. There just isn't any evidence for this mythical higher level of consciousness.

But, I may be getting hung up on the layers of mystical obfuscation. It's possible that what you mean by "awareness" is vastly less occluded than it seems.

That said, it seems to me that the real challenge for most people is not accomplishing a higher state of awareness or attaining conscious performance of tasks that have long since been relegated to automatic control, but rather, learning to be comfortable just existing in one's own skin. Attaining a state of contentment with being alone with the self. Becoming at home existing with the memories and thoughts that flow through constantly as a side-effect of multiple network emergent property of consciousness.

7
Headhunter at local company contacted me via linked in saying how awesome it'd be if I worked there given my experience .  I apply for grins and didn't fill out optional portions (resume and college transcript) because it said it linked with my linked in profile.

They're ok without the resume but they really need the transcript.

The transcript for a degree unrelated to the job from 12 years ago. 

K

That's weird. What do they need the transcript for, if you have the degree?

Well, GPA was a grand filter about 10 years ago when they had paper applications for fresh out of college students.  They want people with "Academic Excellence."

Shouldn't be relevant for people currently working, but apparently they don't usually hire those already working in the field. 

Bit paranoid about how they talk about their benefits how they have a paid month sabbatical every 5 years.  I just want to know how many vacation days a year they have, it's nowhere on their benefits site.  Heard stories about their campus being awesome for the sole purpose of keeping people on campus all the time.

Ah, that makes sense. They're just incompetent and potentially malicious.

8
Good thing we put an end to all those awful career politicians in the White House!

9
Headhunter at local company contacted me via linked in saying how awesome it'd be if I worked there given my experience .  I apply for grins and didn't fill out optional portions (resume and college transcript) because it said it linked with my linked in profile.

They're ok without the resume but they really need the transcript.

The transcript for a degree unrelated to the job from 12 years ago. 

K

That's weird. What do they need the transcript for, if you have the degree?

10
Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: April 25, 2017, 10:23:44 pm »

11
Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: April 25, 2017, 10:22:44 pm »
If you constantly reflect and force awareness of a specific area of your mind (Trigger a specific neural network) when exposed to a specific consciousness alarm (Or unusual stimulus), you can cause that reflection to happen automatically, almost in the background. In other words, you can automate that reflection/analysis so that you don't necessarily have to be conscious for it. The subconscious can take over that particular mental activity in the future.


This is something they deal with later in the gurdjieff work. There's this idea of an "instinctive center", our habit engine. I think Gurdjieff and Ouspensky describe ways to hack it... the goal is to build shocks, mindfulness, into your habits.


I dunno if you saw it, but that's exactly what the article I posted is about... let me know if you can't access it, I can't tell whether it's behind a paywall or not when I'm logged in at work.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3325518/

Here's the abstract:
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It is now widely accepted that instrumental actions can be either goal-directed or habitual; whereas the former are rapidly acquire and regulated by their outcome, the latter are reflexive, elicited by antecedent stimuli rather than their consequences. Model-based reinforcement learning (RL) provides an elegant description of goal-directed action. Through exposure to states, actions and rewards, the agent rapidly constructs a model of the world and can choose an appropriate action based on quite abstract changes in environmental and evaluative demands. This model is powerful but has a problem explaining the development of habitual actions. To account for habits, theorists have argued that another action controller is required, called model-free RL, that does not form a model of the world but rather caches action values within states allowing a state to select an action based on its reward history rather than its consequences. Nevertheless, there are persistent problems with important predictions from the model; most notably the failure of model-free RL correctly to predict the insensitivity of habitual actions to changes in the action-reward contingency. Here, we suggest that introducing model-free RL in instrumental conditioning is unnecessary and demonstrate that reconceptualizing habits as action sequences allows model-based RL to be applied to both goal-directed and habitual actions in a manner consistent with what real animals do. This approach has significant implications for the way habits are currently investigated and generates new experimental predictions.


So basically (summarizing the above to see if I 'get it')....

They slice behaviors into two buckets: goal-directed or habitual.

We select goal-directed behaviors on the basis of their potential outcome
We select habitual behaviors on the basis of their "reward history". (this kinda reminds me of a markov chain? where every node has a dynamic value, and the output has to do with weighing nodes against each other to find the highest value for a given input)

I wasn't able to follow the bit about reconceptualizing habits as "action sequences", but it sounds like they're saying that if you understand them that way, it allows you to predict whether someone will use a goal-directed vs habitual behavior? sorry, I might need more unpacking before I can wrap my head around it

Don't even bother to try to follow the abstract; character limits mean that abstracts don't explain shit. Can you access the full article at the link? If not, I can either try to find a free version, or get the .pdf and email it to you.

12
Aneristic Illusions / Re: General Trump hilarity free-for-all thread
« on: April 25, 2017, 09:12:53 pm »
Not to mention "my rich father let me do what I wanted" is not a policy position.

Bingo.

13
Richard Nixon's glittering half-life sarcophagus / Re: Spagbook
« on: April 25, 2017, 09:10:21 pm »
That's what I meant about finding the limits of my bubble.  I've was caught up in the Less Wrong stuff a while back, and Bayes is heavily stressed.  I made the false assumptions that a) a lot of so-called "rationalists" would be at the march, and b) more science people in general would know the formula. 

Although, that means it would make a pretty cool tattoo someday.

And thanks!  I like the beard look too.  I certainly haven't lost weight, but I may appear less puffy because I'm getting high a lot more than getting drunk.

Yeah, it makes a big difference in your face! You almost look weirdly younger, even with the gray in the beard. I too have been enjoying the benefits of more weed, less ethanol. I eat a lot more candy and chili cheese Fritos, but I have lost ten pounds anyway.

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I just found out that a thing I thought I had to do today, I don't actually have to do. Yay for an hour and a half of extra time!

15
We bought a car this weekend. My car is still in the shop waiting for a turbo, and Salty's van has tooooo many things wrong with it, so it was time to just buy something that will hopefully be reliable and low-maintenance. So we got another Volvo, a 1990 740 basic model sedan with 132k miles. It's gonna have problems, of course, but my experience with my old one was that everything except the wiring harness is cheap AF to replace.

One of the best decisions I've ever made was learning basic/intermediate auto maintenance. Garages here will rip you off for everything and anything and being able to sort basic problems yourself saves so much time and hassle it's unreal. With a Haynes manual and youtube/google you'd be surprised at what you can do when you're able to diagnose the issue correctly.

Yeah, that's what I did with my old one, back when I had time but no money. Chilton's better than Haynes IMO. The engines on these boxy fuckers are pretty well laid out and mostly very accessible. Now that I have neither time nor much money, the repairs are pretty much going to be up to Salty, which is fine because he's more interested in mechanical things than I am anyway. Plus it's his car. Mine's a 940 turbo luxury wagon, which I hope they can find a replacement turbocharger for soon because I miss my car with heated seats and automatic everything.

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