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Messages - Cramulus

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1
RPG Ghetto / Re: Unified Vidya Games thread
« on: Today at 01:20:19 pm »


I found this super weird game for PS4 called Everything. I was hooked in because the game features narration by Alan Watts.

The game's kind of hard to describe. This is more of a zen-experience sandbox than a traditional game. It's about Being, and becoming different things. It reminds me a lot of Sagan's line that we are the universe trying to know itself.

You start off as some kind of animal - I started as an Elk. Your options are kind of limited. You can wander around, and if you see other Elks, you can press circle to "join" with them. Then "you" aren't just one elk, but as many as are in the group. You can form groups, or break groups. When beings are in a group, you can make them dance, and sometimes that leads to reproduction.

You can also ascend or descend into other scales of beings. If you're standing next to a blade of grass, you can become that blade of grass. From the grass's perspective, you'll be able to see tiny stones, ants, worms, etc.. you can shrink down and become them. If you go down far enough you will become pollen, dust, smaller leads you to DNA, bacteria, atoms, going deeper still leads you to a world which is just geometric patterns. Keep going down and you start to see galaxies--you've looped around to the top of a different cosmos.

Most of the gameplay is explorative. It has a kind of pokemon-feel where everything you become gets added to your collection, and it tells you "You've been 41% of all trees". So there's this urge to Be everything in the universe, to taste everything and try it out. There are also little icons that appear in the world sometimes - when you touch one, you unlock a snippet from an Alan Watts talk.

It's a really weird game. Relaxing. Not anything I expected.


Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY-cEIijw2I

2
Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: Yesterday at 08:54:36 pm »
I'd like to take a sec to touch some of my own skepticism and uncertainty:

There's all this talk about the "centers" - mental, emotional, physical... Each center is an "apparatus" or "mind" that dictates certain functions.

A lot of people have chopped up the centers into various subparts. One system tells you that each center has its own intellect, emotion, and movement. Another system will tell you that the physical center (more often called the "moving center") has three parts: motor, instinct, and sex.  Et cetera.

I think this is kinda dodgy and hard to verify, especially since the centers are all working at the same time. If I want a healthy sandwich, is that intellect? emotion? body? a mix of all three, right? so how are these categories useful?

The self is a funhouse mirror - if you go looking into your own mental processes through the lens that there are two centers, God and the Devil, you will be able to recognize your thoughts and behaviors as either belonging to God or the Devil. What you seek so shall you find. So how can any of these divisions be "real"?



BUT

What I think is key here is that we're trying to figure out where our thoughts come from.

And through doing that, we're trying to develop something outside of those forces, which can moderate it.

I used to think of emotions as these more or less automatic processes that get in our way. I saw the rational, logical mind is the real self we have to listen to. After all, of all the centers, the intellect seems the most under our control. So isn't that the self?

But this line of self-observation illuminated to me the ways that my intellect is also mechanical, that it has its own needs which are sometimes in conflict with other parts of me. And if I focus on intellect, I become unbalanced. The consciousness we're working on is something outside of the intellect, something that can moderate it or make room for it as needed by the harmonious, combined self.

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Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: Yesterday at 08:34:53 pm »


Yeah the language here is tricky, since we’re talking about hyper-subjective internal experiences. I’m thankful that this thread hasn’t gotten too mired in definitions. I’ve intentionally shifted between terms like Consciousness, Mindfulness, Self-Awareness and Self-Remembering, even though they are not technically interchangeable, and none of those are 100% accurate to what we’re talking about.

The way that I’m discussing consciousness here, it’s something aspirational - a clear state of mind that we can achieve through self-observation and intentional effort. The little sparks we get from time to time are the tip of the iceberg.

If most of your thoughts and behaviors are mechanical, there’s a level of selfhood that you’re missing out on. The consciousness I am pointing at is a path to build a “real self”.

Some people call this the development of the “soul”. I’ve avoided talking about the soul, because that word comes with a lot of baggage. But it’s worth mentioning: in this scheme, people aren’t born with a “soul” (whatever that may be). One can develop a “soul” over a long period of time through conscious labor and intentional suffering. But we’re in deep metaphor country here. Let’s not worry too hard about metaphysical stuff like that - for now, let’s stick to the practical.

4
Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: Yesterday at 06:39:45 pm »
Great questions! really good stuff to chew on - apologies in advance if my response is a little scattered


Consciousness is isn't just awareness or attention, but those are involved. We don't have really precise language to discuss this fuzzy internal stuff, so it's really good to clarify like you've done.

and by the way, I just want to restate, I'm not an authority on this. I'm a student too, your conclusions might be just as good as mine. We're learning together.


Thinking about these ways of measuring consciousness makes me wonder if we are missing the point of consciousness.


At this stage, we're just trying to develop a finer awareness of our own consciousness. Since we're right in the middle of a stream of thoughts, consciousness is invisible to us until we learn to look at it (we aren't usually aware of our own consciousness, just like fish aren't aware of water). It's also like, if you're trying to improve your running speed, you need to measure yourself. You need benchmarks. Without either, you can never know if you're improving. Consciousness is such a nebulous term, the measurements I presented are a way to process it in more digestible bites.

(and I want to acknowledge: consciousness is "wiggly", hard to define. We have to trap it using nets of words, reality grids per the PD, but we shouldn't get fooled by them. Related reading from Alan Watts, will be very familiar to Discordians: http://cramul.us/post/27126060129/from-alan-watts-on-the-tabboo-against-knowing )

You can see that your level of consciousness varies throughout the day. Sometimes your consciousness is high, sometimes it's low. Think about how your capabilities are different in these two states. It's really hard to realize your potential, to lead a fulfilling life, when your consciousness is low and your habitual mind calls the shots. A lot of the time, when you need to be making conscious decisions, you're making automatic, habitual decisions.

Like you said, just being 100% aware of everything at all times isn't actually helpful, it's chaos. The goal is not to replace all mechanical actions with intentional ones. You need your mechanical mind! But you shouldn't let it have too much power either.



Another way of stating the "point"

When you examine your own consciousness, you'll probably notice that a lot of your behavior appears automatically, mechanically, as a response to some internal state. We have all these sub-selves inside of us, and they all want different things. Our ultimate behavior emerges from conflict between these forces. One part of me is hungry and wants to go out to eat, another part of me wants to read a book--whichever of these signals is "louder" automatically gets control of the body. (unless you're conscious of what's happening)

A lot of the selves inside of you want basic, shallow, ego-driven things. We easily become slaves to these patterns and habits. That keeps us at a low level of energy, low potential, low quality of life. Many of the selves have become prison bars. That's the black iron prison.

Through self reflection and consciousness, by fighting against your habits, you can make intentional changes. You can escape the cell for a little while. You can "think for yourself, shmuck!"

_________
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Yes, one purpose of this exercise is to increase consciousness in general.

But I think there are some overlapping ideas that are less advantageous to conflate with consciousness.  I will say awareness is one because there are moments where you can be aware of multiple things at once, but it is only distracting for you to do so.  So is consciousness only focusing on what is important as opposed to whatever else we could be aware of?  In that sense, the measurement of depth creates ambiguity because it is measured by "how much" rather than "how little."

If the point is to be aware of as much as possible, I don't think that is helpful.  I would make the analogy of stretching and flexing a muscle.  A muscle can't be stretched and flexed at the same time.  I would say a balance is necessary between broad awareness and focus.

Right! But similarly, if you're aiming to build muscle, you need to work it. A workout isn't 50% flexing and 50% stretching, most of it is working at the thing you're trying to improve.

We are really bad at focusing our attention for any length of time. We are really bad at noticing what's going on inside of us. Both of those are necessary to make conscious decisions. The split attention exercise is kinda like a workout aimed at building those muscles.


There is another answer in the literature, but I am still making up my mind about it, so take this with a grain of salt and decide for yourself.

Some people say that the distractions you suffer are from the different "centers" (physical, emotional, intellectual, whatever) conflicting with each other. From that perspective, the "work" of consciousness is an attempt to get your centers to work together and coexist harmoniously. That's why the split attention exercise is important, it is like a survey of the factors influencing your behavior. Your ignorance of these factors empowers them, keeps you in an unconscious fog.

In that fog, your fears and weaknesses and laziness have a huge power over your life.



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When we measure length [of consciousness], I again wonder what is the point?  Is there a purpose to staying in any one place for longer than there is a purpose?


When you're focusing your energy and attention on something, you don't want to suddenly start thinking about potato chips. 

You don't want your decsion subverted by your own desire for potato chips. If we learn how this distraction takes place, and the factors which create it, we gain a small degree of control over it...

The point here is to practice fighting against the mechanical, habitual mind. We're so easily distracted. If you've ever meditated, you've seen it: we are really bad at focusing our attention for any length of time. That focus can be developed. It's an important tool in mastering our Will.



Consciousness isn't an end.

Consciousness is a means to becoming less mediocre, less trapped by fear and doubt and habits that keep us from being fulfilled.

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Literate Chaotic / Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« on: Yesterday at 04:39:15 am »
:mittens:

that's a really good review

6
welcome back
             TO REALITY
oops
             THERE GOES GRAVITY

etc


if you're going to post your life story to STRANGERS
we're not strangers ANYMORE

Hi Tart

7
we would load our trebuches with crates of highly taxed tea

8
I saw a documentary in which an American saved the country from the hated British by stabbing somebody right through the chest with the point end of an American flag

So I imagine we'd probably have something like a polearm hedge, but it's all American flags

Also, our heraldry would include 50 bald eagles, rampant.

9
Bring and Brag / Re: P3nT's Shoops
« on: March 22, 2017, 02:49:56 pm »
damn, man! You've come a long way.

if I ever actually repair my 3d printer repaired, it'd be cool to print one of these.

10
I'm thinking they would dual wield - bastard sword in one hand, attack falcon in the other

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If there was an American army during the middle ages, how would they be equipped?



12
Literate Chaotic / A Koan about Primal Chaos
« on: March 22, 2017, 12:48:14 pm »
Golden Rod approached the monk Nopants.


“Master Nopants, what can I learn by observing Primal Chaos?”


The master held up a pen. “Do you know what this is?”

“Yes, it’s a pen.”




The master said, “I use it to scratch my balls.”

13
Literate Chaotic / The Monkey Experiment
« on: March 22, 2017, 12:45:16 pm »
(originally posted on this forum here, but it's buried on page 4)



The Monkey Experiment
   There’s a famous experiment where they keep a bunch of monkeys in a room for an indefinite amount of time. There’s a big white staircase leading up out of the room. Every time a monkey climbs to the top of the staircase, he gets blasted back down the stairs with a hose. When this happens, every monkey in the room also gets blasted with water. This makes them very angry.

    Soon, the monkeys have figured it out: beat the shit out of any monkey that starts to climb the stairs. That’s the new rule.

    At some point, they remove a monkey and send in a new one. He learns the rule quickly: don’t climb the stairs. And if we’re beating somebody up, join in. One by one, they replace each monkey with a new one who has to learn the rule.

    At some point they can turn off the hose. The monkeys will reliably prevent escape. Policing the stairs has become a cultural norm. Eventually, they have this population of monkeys who are trained to beat up any monkey that tries to escape, but don’t even understand why.

    The experiment is run by interns who are paid in course credit. Occasionally, an intern finishes the semester and leaves. New interns join the team and everybody explains how to feed the monkeys and how to record the data. But at this point, none of the interns are from the original group, none of them have met the scientists leading this project. Most of the interns don’t fully understand the point of the experiment.

    The scientist who began the experiment left long ago. Other researchers were assigned to the project by an administrator in order to keep this valuable experiment running. None of the remaining scientists are actually authors of the paper, or even understand what it’s about. 

    The administrator supervising the project isn’t terribly involved with it. He just prolongs the experiment because it’s his department’s main source of funding. But he didn’t begin this project, he just inherited it from his predecessor, who is on a leave of absence and hasn’t been seen in some time.

    The company funding the experiment has a sum of money they spend annually on scientific research, mainly for tax reasons. But the person who reads and approves grants left last year. The last time anybody saw the man, he handed a huge folder to some new kid and said “make sure these stay funded.” Then he disappeared up a long staircase leading into the sky.

_________________________________________

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Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: March 22, 2017, 12:35:24 pm »
A concept that helped me out a little bit:

If we're talking about "increasing" consciousness, we will also need a way to measure it.

Let's focus on that moment of reflection and awareness ("Self remembering"). Recognize that in that moment, our level consciousness is higher than normal: We're able to see our own thought processes and incorporate them into our decision making. We're able to self analyze. (some would say: that's the nascent Real Self)

But it doesn't last! It quickly gets forgotten as the habitual mind grabs the reigns again.

  • We can measure Consciousness in terms of frequency - how frequently do you have these moments?
  • We can measure consciousness in terms of length - how long did you manage to stay conscious and hold off the habitual mind?
  • We can measure consciousness in terms of depth - while self remembering, how much more were we aware of? What were you able to do while in that space?

Once you have the language to measure consciousness, you can start thinking about how to increase it.

Yesterday, I talked about increasing frequency of consciousness by giving yourself "shocks", little surprises which remind you to focus. This is very familiar to we zen-absurdists who like knocking people out of their routine through humor and absurdity. Little did you know, this is 'the way of the sly man'.

Next, let's talk about length. If you want to increase length of consciousness, you have to fix a goal in your mind. Aim the bow. Next time you are in the 'conscious space', just try to stay there just a moment longer.

You will fail... you will inevitably be distracted & fall back into the mechanical self. But with concentration, you can preserve it, insulate it against the habitual mind. Try it out.

Do the split attention exercise. Take a moment to recognize the feelings in your body, your intellect, your emotions. The moment of distraction is coming. See if you can anticipate it. Focus on what that moment is like, what happens to you. Develop a conscious experience of that moment.


It gets easier with practice.

15
Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: March 22, 2017, 02:09:46 am »
Some random thoughts.

When you are mindful of your thoughts you invoke a minder. One who minds. This is consciousness or, more correctly, this is the seat of consciousness. The font from which consciousness pours. I'm of the opinion that when most people talk about consciousness they are simultaneously aware of this phenomenon but blind to what they are aware of, given that it permeates every facet of mind but is not mind.

yeah, like the fish who says "what the fuck is water?"

Quote
I also have a sneaking suspicion that cavemen looking for their own consciousness is how all that god and soul bullshit got started

Kinda reminds of that Bicameral Mind line of thinking - that at one point, the internal monologue might have been seen as an external voice.


Ok, so I really like the mindfulness technique of becoming aware of your own breathing. 

Often when I try to be mindful, I am just reminded of my chronic pain.  @_@.

That's really interesting - you're the second person I've talked to today who's mentioned how mindfulness isn't necessarily pleasant for them. I was unaware until today that many people intentionally avoid it! But I can see how pain or anxiety or depression would make you not want to be here/now.


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It's kind of a new insight that I don't want to do things because my body hurts.  Kind of.  *takes an advil*

That sounds really crappy, I'm sorry.

Recognizing that your body's needs play such a strong role in your behavior / awareness, does that change anything?


If you recognize that fact at the moment of decision, do you think you'd make a different decision?

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