I was asleep until I woke. And I haven’t been able to sleep since. I walk through life in a dream.
The first half of my life seems like a haze, shrouded in emotional frustration and confusion. I groped about aimlessly the first twenty years, trying to make sense of the situation I was born into.

I moved a half dozen times before the second grade, finding myself in new places every six months as my father changed jobs, relocated, upgraded and renovated homes. School was a social activity with compulsory testing. Learning was effortless until middle school, when the concept of studying was introduced, something I had never done, apart from the encyclopedias I would read in the bathroom, or sprawled out in the study. Thats when I began to struggle. Life had always been relatively easy until then. I was medicated at the request of the school in first grade, citing concerns that I was a distraction to other students, and that Ritalin was a cure for this new type of disability they called attention deficit disorder. The good intentioned parents I had accepted the recommendations of the teachers and doctors, and soon I was a docile boy, entranced with the help of stimulants. My curiosities were focused while medicated, which made managing my attention in the classroom more manageable, but it took a toll on my soul. While I began gaining a sense there was something off about the daily trips to the nurses office, I would hide the pill under my tongue, and throw it away, in some vent or down the drain. Of course, these days were like a vacation, where my senses could unwind and my proclivities toward the innumerable distractions could sweep my imagination away, often at the expense of the teachers patience. Impulsive behavior, lack of self control, constantly side tracked by preoccupations that flashed across my constrained attention in the classrooms.

When medication was abruptly stopped my seventh grade year, amid rising concerns in the media that Ritalin and other stimulants may cause adverse health affects, I was thrown into an spiral that I would not recover from for a very long time. The abrupt cessation of medication meant I had to rely on my natural efforts to focus my attention on academic matters that had otherwise been a compulsory obligation. My performance degraded from A’s and B’s, to C’s and D’s, and my military father, in the midst of building a company, showed little patience, and even less sympathy. The feuds that would come to define our relationship eventually began to wear on my self worth as I internalized my failures with each infraction and failure.

I’m not sure when self mutilation became an attractive fixation, but I recall the moments with friends when my fearlessness, coupled with an impulsive reflex, manifested in competitive shows of strength. What is more impressive that being able to withstand an indian burn, or playing knuckle wars. This progressed into burning myself, in a version of chicken, to see who could last the longest. The emotional pain lurking behind my juvenile exterior proved to be a mighty force that would shield me from feeling physical discomfort. This evolved into cutting, and etching names into my flesh. I did this with some other boys, who were equally pained.

I formed a suicide pact with one of my best friends. I woke up one morning to the news that he had successfully completed his fate. I was devastated, though not surprised, and carried guilt that I was still around for the rest of my life.

After that episode my parents transitioned me from Christian Schools to a public school, and began to re-medicate me. A depression swelled and eventually materialized as I grew listless for life. A blanket of paralysis enveloped my feelings, and I grew frustrated that feeling was difficult at all. It’s not so much that you feel bad when you’re depressed. It’s that you feel nothing, which in itself is a bad feeling. Burning, cutting, and later drugs, criminal acts, and sex were not just activities for an aimless youth. They were an opportunity to feel something, anything, at any expense. When you don’t feel anything, you don’t feel alive. So the threat of death is not something to fear. Its almost preferable to the nothingness that characterizes every living, breathing moment, where happiness and joy are a vague gossip, a lore for the more fortunate, born to feel, born to wake up each day grateful for a life which praises their efforts. But this was just a myth, something I could see, but never find in my own life, much less create.


What is subjective experience? (Exploring Phenomenology)

We will be discussing the question of “What is subjective experience?”.

More precisely, we’ll be exploring Phenomenology, or the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience.

Our previous discussion explored the question “What is meaning?”, and divided the topic into two parts:
1.) The linguistic and social construction of meaning, and non-linguistic, phenomenal/ internal interpretation of meaning.
2.) The existential/ meaning of life.

We had a fruitful and enjoyable discussion that ended with more questions about the nature of the subjective or “phenomenal” experience, so we decided this would be a good topic for the next discussion.

Phenomenology is a broad, multifaceted subject with far ranging implications not only in philosophy, but psychology, religion, and science. While there is not a singular, agreed upon, definition of Phenomenology, we can divide the subject into two parts:

1.) The phenomenological method or style of thinking (first posited by Hegel and expanded by Husserl), which utilizes reflection to study the structures of the mind, subjective experience, consciousness, etc.
2.) The historical canon of thinkers that sought to clarify the contents of these investigations, which will take us through 20th century continental philosophy to psychology and the modern day study of consciousness and philosophy of mind.

Phenomenology studies the “acts of consciousness”. This differs from Ontology which studies the “essences of being”, or what is. In addition, Phenomenology approaches the world in which there is only mind, and all experiences are an act of mind. As a result, there is no such thing as “objective research”. This differs from Substance Dualism (Descartes) which conceives a world in which there is a mind and a body, and studies the world as a collection of objects external to the mind.

Many of the questions about consciousness being pursued by current neuroscience research borrow heavily from philosophers of mind influenced by the studies of phenomenology.

Some questions we will explore:
Why is it important to study subjective experience?
What is the nature of subjective experience?
What are the properties/qualities of a phenomenal experience?
What are some structures of subjective experience?
What role do the following play in subjective experience: intention, intuition, evidence, judging (noesis), empathy, lifeworld.

Dreams of Divinity

I had a weird experience when I was laying in bed last night
it was strange
it was like a spiritual experience. Or just, me recognizing patterns. It caught me off guard, but it was profoundly spiritual, and deep. Closest thing I’ve had to a “spiritual” experience. Even though, I wouldn’t attribute it to anything supernatural. Just a state of being.

It was a result of the discussion last night.

As I was laying in bed reflecting on the conversation, some “background” observations began to surface, and a pattern emerged that really… enveloped me. Background observations related to the group discussion, like salient details that aren’t or weren’t significant to the moment, but signified something greater. Like, if I was to step back and gain distance and analyze actions and words and behaviors, a theme would emerge, an objective theme, that indicated something significant. Like a transcendental truth, like enlightenment.

It emerged because of these patterns my mind was sorting out. As they emerged, I began to have this resonant experience, like one-ness. It was similar to what it feelings like when you learn something, when something clicks. When you’re totally engaged in purpose, meaning, when there is clarity, when you’re present, when the mind isn’t anywhere but here and now. Things made sense.

I want to hash out the patterns I observed, from like, from the group discussion, from our discussion. See if there is something here.

Some of the key takeaways from the group discussion were:
Meaning is mostly a result from our relationships/community with others
Meaning is mostly a result of a common purpose
There seems to be a common purpose

I am

I am, that I am.

That’s a fact. But I’m not sure who or what or how that amounts to anything. Like, what is the substance. Just liquid, flowing. Amorphous and transient and fleeting and ethereal. I feel like I’ve been on an acid trip the past several months. But spiritually. In the sense that, I really really really don’t know what is going on. In the sense that, what really matters, and once that is determined, how on earth do I find a way to contribute to that cause.

So I’m working on the prior. Finding what… matters, as if this is a scientific pursuit, as if there is an objective goal, while all along its this spiritual journey to no where, within myself, within this quagmire of mind, full of psychic energies that pull and resist, and shape the efflorescent conception of present being, of a life worth living.


Walking and reflection go hand and hand, and I believe the art of reflection, of learning to incubate the material you’ve accumulated throughout the day or life, and turn it into something living, something containing an inspiring life of its own, is a lost one.

Much like the art of meditation, reflection requires self control, the ability to focus the will onto the present moment, like a beam of light concentrated onto a burning point. Walking facilitates this. Waking busies the body, but the mind remains awake and active, toward no end but itself. I think walking is essential to reflection. Kant and Thoreau and others would walk several times a day, and that is where they found their inspiration.

All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.
—Friedrich Nietzsche

Above all do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday I walk myself into a state of well being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill … if one keeps on walking everything will be alright.
—Soren Kierkegaard

I can only meditate when I am walking. When I stop, I cease to think; my mind works only with my legs.
—Jean Jacques Rousseau, Confessions

Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence and nothing too much.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every walk is a sort of crusade, preached by some Peter the Hermit in us.
—Henry David Thoreau

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks – who had the genius, so to speak, for sauntering: which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked for charity, under the pretense of going à la Sainte Terre,’ to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a Sainte-Terrer,” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander.
—Henry David Thoreau, Walking

It is solved by walking.
—A Latin proverb

What is meaning? discussion

We’ll be discussing the question “What is meaning?”

The question of meaning is a broad one, but relevant. Meaning seems to be a persistent universal pursuit of humanity, and getting a better idea of “meaning” could, I think, shed insight into other important areas of life. We’re all striving to find meaningful work, meaningful relationships, meaningful past times. I don’t pretend to think we’ll get to the bottom of this question in one sitting, but I’d like to see if we can converge on a common understanding, and perhaps lay the foundation for future Meetup discussions.

Some further questions to elaborate on:
How we do define meaning?
What is the nature of meaning?
Is there a hierarchy of meaning?
What determines meaning, or how is meaning derived?
Does science provide meaning? Can it?
Does religion provide meaning?
Does spirituality provide meaning?
What is the relationship between meaning and feeling and value?
Is there a distinction between objective meaning and subjective meaning?

The Ballerina

Strokes of pink ribbon
satin gloss reflecting light
tight toes point and arc and curve
gossamer stretches and spreads
encircles perfect posture
radiates movement
the hair falls and sways
dark curls unfurl
and the smile rests between lips
and bending wrists gently reaching

the city hums
car exhaust and bums
begging for help
she walks up and down the hill
past city hall
sewing in studios
weaving wax floss within ribbons
the striations and callous definitions
carved in and upon her body
hidden beneath the velvet
broken toes
splintered nails
bruised feet

She walks to and fro
on tips and toes
tracing the lines of movement
embedded into memory
she dances in the studio sanctuary
up and down
out and in
over and below
bowing and bending
her graceful eye
examines her line
records her gestures in the mind
self scrutiny
so deeply wise

What do we see
this delicate beauty
this angel on stage
graceful and gay
she opens in the light
this moonflower of night
piercing darkness with day


I often find myself asking the question “What is the point of life?”

While there are countless philosophically existential, spiritual, and religious speculations to this question, I’ve decided to try and tackle this question from an empirical perspective, grounded in current evidence and sound reasoning: What can I learn about the “purpose of life” by observing life?

My hope is that these observations will lead to insights about the human condition within the context of history, and yield some principles that can be applied to make predictions about the future of humanity.

Some propositions:

  • The “purpose” of all life is to self-preserve information
    • What does this entail?
    • What is information?
      • What types of information? Genetic. Behavioral/ moral. Propositional.
      • What is the role of information in the evolution of living organisms
      • Revising the last question: What criteria determine the value of information?
  • Evolution is the process in which organisms self-preserve
    • Adaptation is the process in which organisms evolve
    • What is adaptation?
      • What are the mechanisms of adaptation?
      • Ontogenic? Phylogenic? Genetic? Psychological? Intelligence? Creativity?
  • The process of adaption tends toward increased complexity
    • Why? Ratchet Effect? Efficiency? Power-laws? Drift?

The evolution of life tends toward increased complexity. Why? There seems to be an implicit “end” in which all life pursues, either biologically or psychologically.

  • Genetic complexity: since the dawn of life, genetic information has become increasingly more complex on an evolutionary timeline.
  • Psychological complexity: Human knowledge has increased in complexity on a historical timeline as various domains develop their own specialized vocabulary.
  • Sociological/ organizational complexity has increased throughout time, as a byproduct of increased population, and complex network systems have emerged to sustain these human organizations.

What is the purpose of life?


I’d like to explore the biological and psychological elements of the “purpose” or “teleology” of life.

Explore the role of energy and thermodynamics.

Darwinian evolution points to natural selection as the mechanism which allows organisms to adapt to environmental demands, and self-preserve a set of genetic or psychological traits.


People Issues

We all have issues.

It’s funny, because our “issues” are only revealed in relationships. Correction. Not only, but it seems most acutely.

Everyone is great by themselves. Most of the time. Life can be comfortable and controlled.

But then invite another “mind” or “personality” or “ego” into the mix and there’s all these frictions that arise.

But every human yearns for intimacy and connection. We’re social creatures

Its also interesting to think that when we speak about a person’s “issues”, it’s often that other people don’t struggle with that same issue in the person.

Like, you have a problem with this part of a person. But another person doesn’t have that problem with them.

It’s interesting.

It’s all about relationship dynamics, and the closeness of that relationship, but it also seems that in those circumstances, that’s a personal problem, not a “them” problem.

If there’s a consensus, and a pattern, then I’m sure the issue can be identified as being legitimate. Pathological mental health issues, for example.

Every person is like a mirror to ourselves. We project our interior judgements onto others. Problems we may struggle with ourself, our shadow self, the unconscious self, become projected onto another person, as if it’s a part of them, as if it’s their problem, when in reality, it’s our problem.

All our problems are “our” problems. They don’t exist in the world. They exist in us.

What is Information

Information is nothing more than patterns of relationships encoded into the material world. DNA. Words.

Information is a pattern, which expresses a relation with other datum.

Pure mathematics is entirely relational, with no groundedness in the temporospatial world, derived from a set of axioms defining these relationships.

Applied physics is an abstraction of relationships of objects grounded in the the temporospatial.

Ratchet Effect

The ratchet effect is responsible for all complexity: once a stable state is established with a set of constraints, it cannot go back to the preexisting state, but only toward a new set of constrained states. The new state is said to be irreversible. This is how increased complexity within a system is achieved.

Said another way: once a threshold is crossed, you cannot go back, because a new stable state equilibrium is established, and resistant to disequilibrium, or entropy. This is due to a kind of crystallization.

You can visualize a cascade of sorts. Thermodynamic energy vibrates particles into a state that is more stable, and irreversible.  Only a more complex state can be reached.

This seems to occur with knowledge acquisition in general. You cannot “un-know” something.

In genetic evolution, I imagine this is precisely how DNA assembles, and increases complexity.

Homeodynamics (thermodymaics) -> morphodynamics (self-organization) -> teleodynamics (life)

Abstractions & Consciousness

Are abstractions “real”?

Are numbers “real”?

I know there are distinctions between real numbers, imaginary numbers, and irrational numbers.

But are they real?

They are not empirical.

They are just patterns.

Are patterns real?

Patterns seem to be projections of the mind.

What makes patterns more “real” than others?

Their utility?

How do we decide the utility of patterns, as a tool?

Explanatory Power? Predictive power?

Descriptive power?

Consciousness seems to be a function of the ability to create abstractions

Abstractions are simply a mapping of relationships

Universal Morality

I think that there is a universal morality, but I don’t believe we will find it genetically hard coded into our DNA. Nor do l think we will find it in any kind of empirical capacity.

I think the universal morality is a metaphysics that manifests psychologically and sociologically as a biological imperative for self preservation.

I think the only way to preserve and transmit moral “truths” (truth is an archetype, an ideal, an aim, an intangible), is through stories, myths, symbols. This is the role and function that institutions play, specifically religions.

I think problems arise with “self domestication”.

I think when humans artificially fabricate their environment (ie civilization) it relaxes their necessity for survival, and therefore relaxes the role of struggle, which I believe is where the bedrock of morality is formed.

Struggle is, what I believe, the necessary catalyst of change. It singly invokes a higher level of consciousness. But it’s not just “mindless” struggle; it’s the ability to struggle, and dissociate from that struggle as a personalized event.

Ideas possess us. Or we can possess ideas.

“I am not the pain.”

Pain is an idea that I can possess. It mustn’t need to possess me.

I can transcend this “possession” of struggle, pain, circumstances, anxiety, fear, etc through the process of “self” reflection, mediation, etc, i.e disassociation.

The reason I bring up struggle and morality is that actions are good or bad. We evaluate good or bad on the basis of “wellness” and “flourishing”.

Struggle is what all organisms do to survive.

All life struggles against entropy and chaos to create order and complexity.

It is through that struggle that we learn certain moral truths about what is “good” or “bad”, and we evaluate those words in terms of our ability to act in ways allow us and others to flourish or suffer.


Living organisms have an innate aversion to death. In humans, this fear is partly rooted in a biological basis of the preservation of the body. Even moreso, it is a fear rooted in the death of the ego, the sense of self. Ego anhillation presents an even more compelling aversion.

Ego is the sense of self.

Rejection, failure, shame, or anything that would undermine the integrity of the ego, which not only establishes our self worth and self identify of who we are and what we are capable of, it establishes our self in relation to a social world that affirms the value of that self.

The ego orients and contextualizes our place in the world, and allows us to intelligently navigate society in a meaningful way, that allows for self preservation.

The only way to grow, to expand your capabilities, is to go beyond your limitations.

Going beyond limitations, into the unknown, into a situation where we lack knowledge and understanding, places you into a place of uncertainty, of metaphorical darkness and chaos.

The only way to illuminate the place beyond and make it known is to go there. This is terrifying, because it involves risk.

The ego’s role is to order the way in which we see the world, and evaluate possibilities that will aid in our survival.

In order to grow, and attain mastery, the ego must collapse, and with it all the ideas of what is possible or impossible, knowable and unknowable.

The ego must go beyond its “self”, it’s ideas about the way things are, in order to expand into something greater.

You cannot grab hold of the new when you are holding onto the old.

Letting go of the “old” means letting go of everything you thought you knew, in order to embrace new experiences that instruct us toward something greater than what we were.

Struggle is essential for personal growth.

Struggle is pain, and pain is a primitive instinct that is programmed into our being as something always to be avoided.

But if it doesn’t challenge you, it cannot change you.

Most fear is rational according to the prevailing ego who is fearful.

But it underestimates its potential to adapt to the unknown.

Change occurs due to inspiration or desperation.

Evolution requires change.

Sometimes you get to pick your challenges. Sometimes you do.

But the only way to adapt and gain strength to overcome obstacles that are perceived to be impossible or insurmountable is to confront that fear, and act in spite of it.

Once you have courage to step into the darkness, you illuminate it, and embrace whatever reveals itself, and figure out whatever you were unprepared to encounter.

This process, while sometimes easy, is most of the time uncomfortable, and challenging.

By persistenting, and making the unknown known, our ego can become stronger, and more adept at handling difficulties.

First Impressions

I’ve had “self summaries” on my dating profiles, but I don’t think they could ever represent me, as much as I try.

Communicating the essence of who you are through generalizable words and cliches isn’t really that telling.

I could put: travel, fitness, health, business, reading, adventures, etc, but that’s all unoriginal. I could put some witty phrase, or some quote, or provide details about where I lived, or what I’m looking for, but even then I’m not sure that tells anyone about who I am.

It all seems inadequate when we’re ultimately swiping based on a 1 to 3 second impression of a potential dating partner. We look at pictures. We imagine being apart of their life, what it’d be like to sit across from that person at dinner, or laugh together, or share moments of intimacy, like what depths we’d find gazing into their eyes, what rising euphoria we’d feel when they look our way and smile.

And then we swipe. And we hope our unconscious fantasy may be mutually realized.


I am always skeptical of others ability to overcome themselves. Many people are weak, and struggle against themselves, their fleshly tendencies, and fail to ever master themselves, because they are impatient, because they lack faith in their ability to overcome, because they fail to trust themselves, and the dormant strength they have yet to conjure through trial, and manifest what they could be.

So when I watch a person progress, toward a goal, toward an ideal, in spite of themselves, in spite of the weakness they wrestle with, I am humbled, because I know there is a spirit within them that is greater than than anything in the world. And each step toward fighting that weakness, which is nothing more than animal possession which is satisfied by instant gratification, and not the attainment of those higher ideals which mark the mind of a more conscious being, a more perfect character is formed.

When people reach out to me, and explain their resolution to transform themselves, their lifestyle, their weaker habits, into something that reflects a higher ideal, namely physical fitness, I am inspired.

But so many people reach out to me, and ask for guidance, and fail to realize that, with or without the knowledge I am capable of sharing, a mind committed to an ideal will achieve it by any means necessary, and therefore I possess no insights that cannot also be reached by some other means.

Because, where there is a will, there is a way. And the will must be present, first and foremost. It cannot be taught. It exists only as a result of character, which develops through its own journey of struggle, and never surrenders the cause to overcome it.

The etymology of Will in Latin is Velle, the present active of Volo, meaning I wish.

Also where the word benevolent and malevolent are derived. To wish good or wish bad.

Patterns of Mindfulness

In view of the structure of the body, it would be astonishing if the psyche were the only biological phenomenon not to show clear traces of its evolutionary history, and it is altogether probable that these marks are closely connected with the instinctual base. Instinct and archaic mode meets in the biological conception of the ‘pattern of behaviour’. There are, in fact, no amorphous instincts, as every instinct bears in itself the pattern of its situation. Always it fulfills an image, and the image has fixed qualities. The instinct of the leaf-cutting ant fulfills the image of ant, tree, leaf, cutting,transport, and little ant-garden of fungi. If any one of these conditions is lacking, the instinct does not function, because it cannot exist without its total pattern, without its image … The same is also true of man: he has in him these a priori instinct-types which provide the occasion and pattern for his activities, in so far as he functions instinctively. As a biological being he has no choice but to act in a specifically human way, and fulfill his pattern of behaviour … They [the primordial images] are not just relics or vestiges of earlier modes of functioning; they are the ever-present and bio-logically necessary regulators of the instinctual sphere, whose range of action covers the whole realm of the psyche and only loses its absoluteness when limited by the relative freedom of the will. We may say that the image represents the meaning of the instinct. (Jung 1960, para. 398, Jung’s emphases)

The universal attributes of language structure are by their nature the most variable in surface representation, variably mapped to processing tasks, and poorly localizable within the brain between individuals or even within individuals. Therefore, they are the least likely features of language to have evolved specific neural supports. Those aspects of language that many linguists would rank most likely to be part of the Universal Grammar are precisely those that are ineligible to participate in Baldwinian evolution! If there are innate rules of grammar in the minds of human infants, then they could not have gotten there by genetic assimilation, only by miraculous accident.(Deacon, The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain, 1997, p.333)

I believe that recognizing the capacity of languages to evolve and adapt with respect to human hosts is crucial to understanding another long-standing mystery about language that theories of innate knowledge were developed to explain: the source of language universals. Grammatical universals exist, but I want to suggest that their existence does not imply that they are prefigured in the brain like frozen evolutionary accidents. In fact, I suspect that universal rules for implicit axioms of grammar aren’t really stored or located anywhere, and in an important sense, they are not determined at all. Instead, I want to suggest the radical possibility that they have emerged spontaneously and independently in each evolving language, in response to universal biases in the selection processes affecting language transmission. They are convergent features of language evolution in the same way that the dorsal fins of sharks, ichthyosaurs, and dolphins are independent convergent adaptations of aquatic species.(Deacon,  The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain, 1997, p.115 f)

The synthesis of activities, producing the emergent pattern, cannot be paralleled in a corresponding synthesis of neurological correlates or mathematical characterizations. Interactive emergence means there exists no overall formal description of the high-level phenomenon, though its pattern will be clearly recognizable within the context of the creature’s environment. (Hendriks-Jansen, Catching Ourselves in the Act: Situated Activity, Interactive Emergence, Evolution, and Human Thought, 1996, p.228 f)


Archetypes, complexes and self‐organization

Learning in the Cultural Process

How Learning Can Guide Behavior

Baldwin Effect


Terrence W. Deacon. Neither nature nor nurture: the semiotic basis of language universals – 28.10.16

Terrence Deacon — Language and complexity: Evolution inside out

Non Association

I try to disassociate from time to time, and do a self check, take stock of what I’m doing and where I am, and ask myself if it aligns with my higher ideals, because it’s easy to start and journey, only to discover your desire for the destination has changed as you’ve journeyed on.

It’s so easy to get carried away in these… habits. But even more than that, it’s like these values, values that I think are congruent with my own needs, my own desires, but it’s only after they’ve been adopted and embodied do they appear to be alien, and not something I want.

What is authentic? Is this life self generated, or must I defer to my culture and heros and society for these ideals, for this worthwhile purpose?

Can I coin a purpose of my own? Something that resonates with the depths of my being, that engages my faculties in a rapturous way?

Or is that a fantasy?

Or am I too coward to find out?

Meaning, Archetypes, and Consciousness

Erich Neumann was Jung’s student. The book I’m reading is “the origins and history of consciousness”. It’s more of a distillation of Jung’s ideas. It’s more of a historical development of consciousness, through the lens of myths and symbols and stories, and the cross cultural patterns that emerge from them.

There’s something intuitive about it. Very intuitive.

But the skeptical side asks if this is any different from pseudoscience, because it’s very difficult to refute and falsify.

Patterns exist. Conspiracies exist. So it’s like. How much is credible?

But when you read Jung or Neumann, it’s incredible the parallels and patterns and associations. They cluster. The words even, the origin of words, coincide. Make sense… but I’m not sure what that means.

Ego. Consciousness. Unconsciousness. Collective unconsciousness.

I wish there were a… reductionistic? Ie Scientific to verify the claims.

However, science isn’t able to provide insight on “meaning”. And meaning is all that this revolves around.

Where is meaning when you examine brain scans of neurons lighting up? All you can do is make inferences, but meaning? It’s in this… metaphysical world.

Which… seems so damn compelling. Perhaps this metaphysics is true. Perhaps there is a guiding force working on some… other plane, that allows mankind throughout time, and in the present, to transcend various stages of conscious development, from the instinctual all the way to the highest level of consciousness.

What is meaning? It seems to be essential for our survival, for reasons of interpretation.

Is competence is possible without comprehension? I think so.

When building a sentient artificial intelligence, is the comprehension of “meaning” necessary to create an artificial consciousness?

Meaning seems to be an essential function for conveying information.

It seems to be the “essence” of data, that all knowledge and words and beliefs are imbued with.

But it doesn’t exist in the world.

That’s the weird thing.

It’s metaphysical.

Words are nothing without a mind to interpret meaningfully.

We have countless manuscripts written in unknown languages. These scripts contain meaning, but it is forever inaccessible without the ability to translate and map onto other scripts we know the meaning of, ie English.

This is where understanding the origins of meaning (and hence consciousness) become a compelling study.

There are troves of archeological and historical symbols and myths across time and culture, and these symbols seem to coincide with increasingly more complex social structures, which are a reflection of the development of consciousness of the individual.

We take all this for granted, because we are enculturated and socialized from birth, within society, and these structures transpose themselves into our conscious development through the social structures and language we’re embedded within.

It’s difficult to be aware that consciousness could be any other way, just like if you never traveled to a foreign country radically different from your own, you’d have a near impossible task of imagining an alternative way of living and thinking and being, etc.

But there is a topography of meaning that exists, that is entirely metaphysical, in the sense that, they govern our relationships with eachother and the world, and it’s near impossible to quantify the value and meaning of these relationships. We try, of course, in economic terms, by measuring output and productivity of “attitudes of mind” and “social organizational principles” and “best practices”. But even then we often overlook ancillary and maybe more fundamental relationships that support their development and existence.

Are we simply self organizing social machines with data inputs and outputs that coalesce into complex organizational structures, whose sole function is self-preservation of information, our DNA, or the DNA of the tribe, or even our ideas?

Is meaning a necessary component?

Is meaning an illusion?

It seems to mediate our conscious and unconscious experience in a persistent and profound way.

Are we statistical machines that simply compute optimal outcomes for survival?

How do we know what data or information is relevant? How does the mind provide necessary context? How does it differentiate between nuance, idiosyncrasy, etc?

Perhaps these answers will always be beyond the reach of man, and man will provide all the necessary adjustments in the beginning, transposing these mental maps onto the AI machine unconsciously, implicitly, without adequately understanding their evolutionary origins and character of their nature.

And I guess you could read all this and ask… why? Why the fuck is any of this mental masturbation necessary. Why the fuck do you need to go down this rabbit hole?

I’m mostly interested in discovering unconscious assumptions, and the bias this produces. Inherent bias. Bias that leads to problems. Social problems, ie economic and political.

It’s like, you’re given a map of meaning. It’s like the map of the world. You use it to navigate your life. You assume it’s a facsimile, completely accurate. You assume, since everyone else uses this map, it’s optimal.

But a map is only a representation. There may be features of the landscape missing. Maybe geological features, topographical features, of water ways, of animals, of climate.

And it may not be accurate, or the only representation. There may be maps that are better, for me, for others.

There is wisdom in challenging the current map, and asking yourself if there is anything missing.

Is there meaning not being represented here? Is there an optimal? Or at least, something better?

You gotta challenge assumptions. You gotta explore for yourself.

Goethe said: None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.


I always have so much to say. I walk around throughout the day, and tell myself to write this or that down, insist that I should part with five minutes and divest of these incessant thoughts, journal them, write them, expunge and excrete them.

Where am I going? From where did I come?

There are no easy answers. Life is a continual process of finding and losing.

The penchant for destruction, for self destruction, for self annihilation, lurks close. Always. I cannot stop it from encroaching. All I can do is build a wall of habits, of orderliness, of repetition.

Instill in me a sacred mind. Something holy and divine, illuminating, collective and conscious. This is my prayer.

Where should I go? Into the darkness. Very well. Let the wall come down. There are no more safe spaces, no place to retreat. I must face my dragons, must confront my demons.

When you can be anything, are you something?

What am I made of?

Business and books? These dichotomies of the soul bend me, near break me. Existing in this world as a whole is near impossible to balance. They want you something or nothing. You cannot be everything.

What do you have to show for yourself? We lie, and convince ourselves that our existence is worth its weight. That we produce, but our results are paltry, and rarely stand alone, or they stand alone, and no one cares, because our ends are selfish and self serving, and we fix the game, a game that we play with ourselves, in our favor.

You are not great.

You have not sacrificed enough for truth, for the raw skeletal essence the frames a worthy life.

I’m in Vegas, alone. My partner is in Germany, with his girlfriend and family. I could speak at length about this subject, but I’d rather wrestle with these abstract irritations scratching my soul.

The darkness is where you must go. We avoid it, like the plague. We avoid it, unconsciously. Go forth, into the darkness, into the chaos, where pain and suffering await, the deepest abyss of hell. That is where you must go. You must be willing to die. You must be willing to be crushed by the weight of failure, until you can no longer breath, and your last cry is a prayer for salvation, from yourself. You must die. You must die. You must die.

The cathedral of stable assumptions must collapse, like the temple of Jerusalem. Come down in an earthquake, because all that is perfect, all that is divine, all that is held up as precious and holy, must die. Only then can we be born again. Only then can a new self arise.

Everything that you love most dearly must dissolve into the ocean.

Throw these ideas away. They are not you. They are attachments adorning you, obscuring you, weighing you.

Pay attention.

Do not think.

Pay attention.

Only when you are nothing can you be something.


Cathartic release.

I was drowning earlier. One day, I hope to be released from this sickness, this tormenting paralysis of the soul.

The cycle will end, one day. I will command it, in some way or another. But at the moment, I haven’t found an escape, a salve, or any means of assuaging the chaotic mania that seizes my soul.

Patience. The nurturing echo of familiar wisdom that seems just out of reach. Patience. For what? The inevitability waiting me? Of death? Let me die already, so that I may be born again, born anew. Let me baptize in the fire of truth, so that my ego may collapse upon itself, and I may begin the process of reconstruction, and transformation. The vessel is sinking, and I’ve emptied all the good I’ve collected, and carried. The is no destination for me but the bottom of the sea.

Let this chaos wash over, drown me, fill my lungs, mute my desperate cries, blacken all that is left of these fantasizes my feeble fingers clutch. There is nothing left but ruin.

The cycle will end, one day.

Relationships, are hard.

Harder with yourself. The self. The enigma of mind, the unconscious germ, waiting to spring from the murky depths, like a lotus, breach the surface and rise like a Phoenix, and unfold its petals toward the sun, beckoning its light to nurture the radiant mandala of memory, before desiccation and darkness take its place, and the cycle repeats.