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Messages - Cramulus

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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.”

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.


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.

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?"

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.

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?

Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: March 21, 2017, 02:57:13 pm »
Are you with me so far?
If you want to develop consciousness, you are gonna have to figure it out on your own. But maybe I can help - I'll tell you a little bit about the territory I've explored. Which isn't much. But it's a start.

Let's move on to something Practical.

Let's start with mindfulness.

You can do anything consciously or unconsciously. The actions are the same. The experience is different.

You don't have to sit in the lotus position and say mantras to be mindful. You don't have to buy a meditation mat and you don't have to take time out of your schedule. You should do it in the middle of everyday life. We're not going to practice consciousness in some monastery on a mountain, everyday life is where it matters.

Food tastes better when you're mindful. Hanging out with friends is more fun when you're mindful. When you're being mindful, you're here, in the present moment, connected to the experience. Your brain filters out a ton of information - recognize what's being filtered out. How do your clothes feel on your body? What thoughts are passing through your head, and where did they come from? Interrupt a train of thought mid-stream, then see if you can figure out what station it departed from.

Quote from: william burroughs
Cut the words and see how they fall.

This type of mindfulness is sometimes called the "split attention exercise". It's an attempt to be aware of what's going on inside of you. It's not like Zen, where you are focusing your attention down to a point. You want to spread your attention out, be aware of as much as you can. Keep your awareness in your body. Be aware of your intellectual and emotional impulses.  Acknowledge the thoughts you're having. Don't try to fight them, just recognize them as they come up.

Okay I'm mindful. Now what?

For now, when we're being mindful, we're going to try to identify where our thoughts come from. My experience is that my thoughts and behaviors come from distinct places within me. Sometimes my actions serve one of my body's needs, like getting comfortable, cooking, picking my nose, going to bed. Sometimes my actions are a response to or pursuit of some emotion. Sometimes my intellect is driving the body.

Let's identify those mental train stations that the behaviors depart from. I think there's a small number of places within us which motivate our thoughts and actions.

Let me add a qualifier: we're talking about the internal world, which is basically formless chaos. The "internal places" I am discussing here are abstract. I'm making the cut like this: body / intellect / emotions - but there are other ways to cut it and they're not necessarily wrong. There are totally valid criticisms about cleaving the fuzzy self into distinct units. But we need some kind of system to make sense of what's going on in there, and body/intellect/emotions is a good starting point. I imagine that you could also use the elements, or the chakras, or the id/ego/superego - the important thing is that it's a complete system that leaves nothing out. A cosmos, if you will.

Right now we just want to identify the train stations, the "centers", that our thoughts come from.

What are we going to do tonight, Brain? Like, practically speaking

Be mindful with me today.

First, we're going to try to develop a habit of being mindful. The trick is to program the habitual mind to push us to consciousness. This is also a little bit like learning to Lucid Dream. We want to make random reality checks at various points during our day.

One method is to give yourself "shocks". A shock is a stimulus which surprises you and reminds you to be mindful. This is the same tool as Lin-Ji's fly whisk, or his Katsu! shout. It interrupts our train of thought and reminds us to be aware.

You could draw a little circle on your hand or tie a string around your finger.
When I was starting off on this work, I changed my text message sound every few days. You hear it, you're like "WTF is that?", then you remember. Then you answer your phone mindfully.

Whatever it is, it should be something that you will experience randomly, while you're in the midst of your thoughts.

if you're still following along,
I'd be curious to hear your experiences.

I really like this piece. I like how Sal is described as Ordinary. That actually gives me a little hope, if the average middle age insurance salesman out there really is dreaming of utopia. Like there's this benevolent potential in people, but it's being held back. Is it withheld by the grim realism of human nature? or is it merely something internal in Sal that makes him stay in the confines of everyday life?

What keeps Sal in stasis? Is it a feeling of helplessness? ie That Sal would be benevolent but he doesn't have the resources. That Sal would be benevolent but it wouldn't change anything.

RPG Ghetto / Re: Unified Vidya Games thread
« on: March 21, 2017, 12:18:37 pm »

Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: March 20, 2017, 05:13:12 pm »
When discussing these topics I feel like the first challenge is to avoid presenting it as an us vs. them kind of approach where those who are further along the path of self reflection preach to the cabbages or meat machines.

Yeah, I have expressly stepped around any kind of tribal hierarchy language. The "I'm the conscious guru, you're the unthinking meat machine" vibe is not present ITT. Like I said, the OP upthread is mainly self directed. I was trying to write a challenge, a call out, that would work on me, and get me to stop relying on my own lazy mental habits.

The idea that it takes some work to fully manifest your consciousness - there is an assumption there which I want to unpack. The assumption is that you are incomplete. You have room to grow, as a person. If you don't resonate with that, then this line of thought is not going to be useful for you whatsoever.

If you are working on yourself in any way, whether it's developing self-awareness or just getting in shape, you start by visualizing the better version of yourself. It'll take some work to become that person. The OP is about pointing how the factory settings we grow up with are insufficient. We're a tangled hot mess. The average person only rarely exhibits the capacity for self-examination.

I don't think you can push someone into this idea of 'consciousness' if they aren't willing to entertain it. Maybe this is where Buddhism for example goes right because it stresses that the act of self reflection is beneficial to everyone and the path is an incremental one rather than a great flash of consciousness.

Edit: Is it a path or is it an on/off switch?

I would agree with that, I don't think that self-awareness is like this permanent feature you get by leveling up. There is no class of "enlightened" people... you may get flashes of insight, but you can't stay there. Our mechanical mind will always beat the thinking mind. You will always forget the moderating-self and go back into identifying with your emotional, intellectual, physical needs.

((this is where the Cosmic Shmuck principle is really handy... don't think of yourself as somebody that 'gets it'. Keep the learning-mind open by acknowledging your own laziness and idiocy. That's why in the Chao Te Ching we called the master the 'wise spag'))

My experience through meditation is this... I found that meditation slowly taught me how to enter a certain kind of mental space, a stillness where there is clarity. ("The eye of the hurricane") But there were times when it 'clicked', and the little components of knowledge snapped together. The car had a new engine. And from then on, my approach to meditation was different. The trail was blazed. It's easier to get back there now. But I will only ever be a visitor, you always go back to your dumbass self the moment your phone rings.

This is a topic which I also think ties in very closely with the ideas that the PD sect of Discordianism has been developing over the years - when you boil it down it always comes down to "Think for yourself, Schmuck!"

Only thing is that you have to make sure you are actually thinking and not just surfing along on a wave of biases and past experience.

Further edit: This act of self-questioning is one that I carry out (almost) to the point of detriment - which is one of the reasons I post so rarely here. It's hard to express one's thoughts when you are constantly second-guessing yourself. Once you can show people that there is another way is it possible to light the path so they don't get so lost?

Critical thinking skills are not encouraged.

exactly, yeah -- PD started me on this journey a long time ago. I think it was when we were reading the Art of Memetics--my sense of self shifted significantly. (partially that the self is a shorthand for a million smaller selves) I'm still feeling it out. I've been looking for signposts left by others who have been to the place I want to be.

The people I'm reading now seem to understand what I experienced, what I'm aimed at, and have left other notes for travelers on the same path. I'm trying to digest those notes and feel them out from the inside.

Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: March 20, 2017, 01:26:05 pm »
So this all boils down to the (false) dichotomy that I am a meat machine, as you say, or I am not, as Kipling and Hemmingway say.  The third option is that I am in fact a meat machine, but that one of the attributes of that meat machine is consciousness.  The entire question is silly, because it's an observable fact that we are meat machines, but the fact that we question consciousness is an iron-clad proof of consciousness.

So all of you fuckers are wrong, or at least not entirely correct.

so, to clarify a little

The OP's position -- that you're stuck in this meat machine, that consciousness is a lightbulb that appears above your head only occasionally, and only for a moment -- is not to denigrate you to mere meat. Nor am I saying that the meat machine is an illusion.

I'm saying that most of us are stuck in routines, chasing physical needs, chasing emotional needs, chasing intellectual needs. And that I think that there's something else we can develop outside of that, another place (in an abstract sense) from whence behaviors can originate.

I can think of times in my own life when that light shone brightly and it illuminated stuff that was invisible to me. Fight with a girl, go for a long walk, eventually when the emotional poison has run its course through my body, I can think clearly again, I can see the ways that I was a shithead. Or when I hit rock bottom in the job market, I had a long dark night of introspection and ultimately decided to make big changes in my life. In order to make those decisions I needed a certain perspective. That perspective was hidden until I detached from the routines I was running. The mind, the body, the emotions -- they are competing, but each of them has an incomplete perspective. With self-remembering, you can build a more complete picture, and operate based on that.

There are lots of ways to cultivate that self-mastery. And it's not easy. You have to brace yourself for it like it's going to be a lot of work. The Fakir of India develop their self by transcending the body. Yoga also uses the body to develop awareness. In Zen, you learn to develop your awareness through control of the mind, sharpening its focus to a point. Monks work on self-mastery through control of their affections and emotions.

But those are just a few of the methods. I am exploring a fourth way.

Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: March 20, 2017, 04:37:31 am »

"The elites themselves believe they are racing using human technology to take our best minds and build some type of breakaway civilization, where they're going to merge with machines, transcend, and break away from the failed species that is Man. Which is kinda like a false transmission, because they're thinking that What They Are is ugly and bad, kinda projecting it upon themselves, rather than believing that no, it's a human test about building us UP.

And so, google was set up 18 or 19 years ago --and this, I knew about this before it was declassified, I'm just saying, I have good sources-- that they wanted to build a giant artificial system, and google believes that the first artificial intelligence will be a supercomputer, based on the neuron activities of the hive mind of humanity, with billion of people wired into it, the internet of things, so all of our thoughts go into it, and we're actually building a computer that has real neurons in real time, that's also psychically connected to us, that are organic creatures, so that They will have current predication powers, future prediction powers, a true crystal ball - but the big secret is: that once you have a crystal ball and can know the future, you can add stimuli before hand which make decisions and control the future, so it's the end of free will and consciousness for individuals as we know, and a true 2.0 - in a very bad way - hive mind consciousness with an AI jacked into everyone, knowing our hopes and dreams, delivering it to us not in some P.K.D. wire-head system where we plug in and give up on consciousness because of unlimited pleasure, but because we were already wired-in and absorbed before we knew it by giving over our consciousness to this system in our daily decisions, and allowing it to control our every decision."

-Abraham Lincoln

Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: March 19, 2017, 06:41:40 pm »
Is there a part of the mind that can become conscious?  If so, am I only partly conscious over time or am I only conscious 5% but continuously?

If 95% of the time is spent jerking off in the basement, then what does it mean to be conscious that 5% of the time?  Does it mean a random moment of clarity or does it mean I am 95% automatic and 5% connected with something that is beyond myself that makes me self-aware? 

I think that we have random moments of clarity. Sometimes you experience a moment when you're able to not just process not just your situation, but also process your thoughts and responses to the situation. (ie thinking about your own thinking)

Most of the time, we are just running these routines we've learned, solving problems using heuristics. When your heuristic doesn't work, or when tragedy happens, you emerge from that fog.

Another way of putting it:

Learning is a conscious process. You can't learn automatically, it takes conscious effort to absorb and integrate information. When you first learned to drive a car, you were really mindful. Every action you took taught you a little bit. Now, years later, you get it. So you don't need the lazy conscious mind to drive. You can just run the mental routine you built.

And if we zoom out, a lot of our life is spent in that routine, in those heuristics. If we don't actively think about it, we don't get a lot of time to reflect on those heuristics, or the process we used to arrive at them.

Am I just one piece of a chain reaction?  Am I on autopilot and consciousness is just whatever is other adding itself into my equation?

Marshall McLuhan says we're the sex organs of the machine world.
The Art of Memetics says we're the sex organs of the meme world.

I think the way out of the chain is Agency. And I don't think you really have Agency if you're just making mechanical decisions.

And to expand it again, yes, most decisions are mechanical. Like a character in the Sims, we always take whatever action we perceive will give us best rewards. We continue to exhibit that behavior until a competing one gives us better feels. (behaviorists call that 'melioration') When that calculus is simple, our behavior is predictable.

If you can make decisions about your automatic processes, you might be in the conscious part of the self.

It's really hard to perform this reflection, this self-consciousness, this Self-Remembering, while the habitual mind is buzzing. When you're emotional, it's really hard to step outside of it and make an independent decision.

Usually, when we have that 5% moment of self-remembering, it only lasts for that moment, and then it's over.

Part of what I want to discover is how to increase consciousness along a few different dimensions: frequency, length, depth.

Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: March 19, 2017, 06:02:18 pm »
Ouspensky puts it like this: (my OP is a clumsy attempt to say something like this)

Quote from: PD Ouspensky, The Fourth Way, p44
First, self-knowledge. There is a very good Eastern allegory which deals with the creation of 'I'. Man is compared to a house full of servants, without master or steward to look after them. So the servants do what they like; none of them does his own work. The house is in a state of complete chaos, because all the servants try to do someone else's work which they are not competent to do. The cook works in the stables, the coachman in the kitchen, and so on.

The only possibility for things to improve is if a certain number of servants decide to elect one of themselves as a deputy steward and in this way make him control the other servants. He can do only one thing: he puts each servant where he belongs and so they begin to do their right work. When this is done, there is the possibility of the real steward coming to replace the deputy steward and to prepare the house for the master.

We do not know what the real steward means or what the master means, but we can take it that the house full of servants and the possibility of a deputy steward describes our situation. This allegory helps us to understand the beginning of the possibility of creating a permanent 'I'.

Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: March 19, 2017, 05:55:27 pm »
In Illuminatus!, Wilson & Shea describe "the robot" as the automatic, mechanical part of the self. Most of the robot's behaviors are programmed by culture and upbringing. Breaking / reprogramming the robot is the key to personal freedom. The characters in Illumiantus struggle to make actual free-will decisions and not just play out the trajectory of the their cultural circumstances.

Years ago, Free Will / Determinism was one of those landmine topics on this forum that we couldn't discuss without it sliding into 21 pages of banging heads against walls. But what I got from all of that was: Yes, Free Will - the ability to make independent decisions - exists in our potential. Most people haven't developed that capacity.

I myself want to develop that capacity. I've been on the search for different tools to do so. I think the first step is in recognizing the difference between a conscious decision and an automatic decision. First you have to understand the distinction, then you have to learn to recognize it in yourself as it's happening.

Or Kill Me / Re: You're not conscious
« on: March 19, 2017, 05:45:02 pm »
I don't feel like the piece comes to a particular conclusion. This, for me, leaves it feeling too antagonistic to make me want to engage further with the subject of whether in fact I am woke af or not.

Can we hear your motivations behind writing Cram?

Yeah that's my problem with it too - I struggled to inject the point with sufficient humor to make it taste good. I'm betting there's a better frame. (I should maybe revisit Robert Anton Wilson's "Cosmic Shmuck" meme, that seemed like a nice slapstick delivery mechanism for his intended self critical, open-to-being-wrong headspace)

The piece's motivation is to introduce a problem. To some extent, if I tell you how to solve this problem right off the bat, the mental loop closes and it won't get any more thought.

My personal motivation - this piece is sorta self-aimed. I'm trying to stay conscious for as long as I can, and the habitual mind is the enemy of that.

From another perspective: I'm trying to articulate a point presented in some of the stuff I'm reading, but in a different, cooler way  :ECH:

If I am just a meat machine, that means I have no soul...And I know I have a soul, because it hurts whenever I turn on the TV.

 :lulz: :lulz:

Therefore I am not just a meat machine, I am a special meat machine who is in fact the main character.  The people around me are all unconscious meat machines2, I agree, but I am not.

                   (that's latin for Bingo)

The habitual mind seeks to fulfill basic needs. It is the part of you which can reliably solve problems like your hunger, lust, fear.. The habitual part of your mind gets you very wrapped up in the ecstasy of consumption. TV, food, memes - being the main character... many types of pleasure... the pursuit of these ego-centered desires** keep us in the habitual mind, where you can't really bring yourself to consciousness.

I think you hit that in your response - that it's hard to break from those low-level satisfactions, and it's really hard to reflect on the self and its component processes while you're in the thrall of those things.

**footnote: I am in no way saying you need to be an ascetic to search for consciousness. Eat the hell out of that burger.  But eating the hell out of it means really tasting it, eating mindfully.. not chewing mindlessly as you're watching TV, letting yourself get distracted from your body's physical experiences.

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