Category Archives: Practice

The Origin of Personality and Culture

The bouba/kiki effect is a non-arbitrary mapping system between speech sounds and visual shapes that we are biologically wired to do. If asked to name the objects below using the words bouba & kiki, the word kiki will most often be used to name the sharper object, and the word bouba used to name the softer object. It is because the sound kiki is sharper than the word bouba. Our subjective language is shaped by our objective environment.

If the implication of this connection between subject and object is unpacked across larger scales such as individual personalities and cultures, we can see how certain languages and customs would be sharper in tone as a result of the communication telegraphed through the social and objective environment by harsher climates. Ice ages and seasonal environments, or natural events such as volcanoes would communicate a certain perspective that would be different than a tropical island environment with steady access to food all year round and not as much need for shelter and so on. This objective communication by the environment would incline the subjective maps and behaviors developed by the people in that environmental womb to reflect that localized aspect of nature. We can see this type of bouba/kiki effect reflected linguistically (our subjective maps) as well as behaviorally (objective expressions) in our personalities and in our cultures and so on.

In other words; our identity to a large degree is based on patterns (echoes) of being repeatedly informed by, and responding to environmental cues. These cues define our form much like the rising sun would warm a rock, defining the properties of its form for a time. We are a collection of adaptive behaviors that were shaped by environmental factors over time which favored behaviors that were required to remain coherent in that context. (to survive) Harsher climates would have demanded harsher “kiki like” actions and words, and these traits would carry forward (perhaps past their shelf life) as acquired adaptations even if they became maladaptive in the context of a changing environment. This would have a self perpetuating effect, where harsh behaviors would craft a feedback loop of harsh behaviors, much like corn produces corn seeds, which produces corn and so on.

Understanding this concept may offer us the opportunity to strategically decide what to “plant” because although we cannot control every variable, our opportunity to participate in what will contribute to what we experience as our future depends in part on what behavioral seeds we cultivate.

 

From Existence To Significance

Life A limited Time Offer

My guess would be most of us either get swallowed by the circumstances we’re bathed in through the collective effects of our developmental environment, finding some reactive equilibrium with that happenstantial field of influences that define our initial form, or we wake up from that opaque mist to recognize that we also have a voice in the field of influences that defines our experience. We may discover that if we work intentionally, effectively and proportionally, that our voice might cultivate something significant rather than merely reflective – something that does more than reflect the defining qualities of the environment, but also plays a role in defining.

Cultivating something significant often requires disciplined effort and patience to shepherd nascent forms to fruition where they produce emergent properties, but the cost of doing so can render an effective player in the field of relationships that defines what we experience, and perhaps emergent properties that will pay continual constructive dividends. Nature clearly communicates that we can count the seeds in an apple, but not the apples in a seed if that seed is cultivated – nourished and protected through development to its mature state of fruition. This cultivation aspect of being might be the “why” we are here, but it is more certainly the big “if” in terms of whether or not we realize the opportunities that are presented out of the cauldron of relationships that define us.

We can make the transition from that which has been defined by circumstance, to that which also plays a role in defining circumstances, but only if we first recognize, then take the proportional actions to overcome the things that would otherwise turn our presence into a neutral mush carried on the currents of environmental whim, or worse, to become an agent of reflected destruction. Some of the common stories that emerge from the field of defining relationships that we’re both baptized in and have some measure of ability to participate in include environments that falsely convey we have no significance – that our voice is of no effect and that we are solely the victims of an authoritarian fate, or perhaps an environment that has so shocked us with a series of capricious horrors and injustices that it causes us to see reality through a distorted lens which renders an image of tragedy and misfortune that is inevitable and that total occupation with self defense and protection are of paramount importance, or perhaps our social environment coupled with our innate capacity for vision has revealed to us the tragic and arguably insane failure of the collective social economy that powerfully defines our experience to sufficiently recognize, value and express the behaviors that nourish our mature potential – a maturity which is only possible in a climate of sustained mutually nourishing and protective developmental behaviors aimed at serving each other’s common interest. The fields of opportunity that we leave fallow can make us the authors of our poverty, and in that poverty we can get stuck in a vortex of self reinforcing destruction making our circumstance worse by filtering the world through a lens of dominance. One where it appears to make sense to force compliance from each other with the aim of getting the most we can get, rather than searching for and cultivating commitment between each other to gain what is rendered by the emergent fruit of community. We can either be caught spinning in a turbulent eddy of malignant selfishness that takes us in vicious circles that go nowhere, or we can tend to the fruits that are produced through committed cooperation with and cultivation of each other, and the extended body of life we depend on.

In the light of the necessities to effectively steer with intention through the currents that define us – to participate in where the currents carry us – we would do well to search for what it takes to cultivate that which is most significant to that end – that which has the most effect to tame and intentionally direct the environmental waters that define our experience. We can only realize the strength of that steering activity by both finding and actively participating in the relationships that forge meaningful significance while also mitigating the antagonistic forces that could interfere of interrupt that process. Because we so often start with a lens that was forged in a blend of complacency and trauma, we may not be equipped to see clearly what our best way forward is. Once our lens is refined to see with enough depth to understand where our opportunities are sourced, we can then see our progress is built on a complex and nuanced vision where consequences are not immediately connected in time through a linear process, but are displaced in time, and that development to maturity requires sacrifice in order to bear the eventual fruit.

Our best way forward is not visible using a simplistic, linear and narrowly temporal lens. Although simplistic lenses that do not consider, much less prioritize, the necessities of development over time are what we begin with in our ignorance and also what we gravitate to in times of perceived stress, they are not what serves as an accurate map to our most mature state of being. The effects of past traumas etched in our collective psyche can become a self perpetuating eddy that results in why we sometimes operate on a cultural level with a simplistic lens that seems to infer that serving the self to the exclusion of the community is the obvious choice; and it is in the short run, even though it is ultimately self defeating when the more complex tapestry of relationships that develop over time and space is considered. Our traumas and the resulting myopia may also explain why many of the superficial rituals of social recognition we currently chase and build our dedicated behavioral monuments to are also less connected to significance than they are to a self referential service of themselves – to the status quo – of serving our more immediate gratifications in a bonfire of vanities, or, as William Shakespeare’s character Macbeth so eloquently put about the net result of certain lives:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

As a result of recognizing that the road we currently travel most is a recipe for complacency at best and at worst one peppered with self indulgent distractions that lead us in directionless circles, we might be compelled by that dour vision to take the road less traveled. The unbeaten path does require that we brave the dangers of the unknown and or dedicate ourselves to the disciplines that are valuable yet may be unappreciated, or even detested and actively resisted. But this is what we must undertake for the opportunities that are only harvested by way of that path to be rendered. It is only by way of this more difficult organized effort that we can have a chance to realize and get the chance to embody significance – to make our lives meaningfully matter in a sea of what would otherwise be mere existence.

As a result of seeing the stagnating effect of what is rendered by actions taken on the heels of a shallow vision that looks no deeper than serving the brief periods of satisfaction of our baser drives, we might be inclined to focus instead on the things that do not necessarily tilt toward service of these superficial passions alone, but dig deeper to see something more difficult, more significant. With a full spectrum vision we can become like the parent that is compelled by that deeper vision to act with determination on behalf of a child’s development, sometimes in the context of the myopic protests of that same child. This deeper commitment is forged by a deeper vision. A vision that sees our common child as the extended community of relationships we live in and depend on for nourishment and protection, that defines our being and our experience, and that we also derive our significance from by serving something of nourishing and or protective value in the context of that community.

I may be missing something(s)

What goes into what we perceive as perception?

A Grain of Salt. Each episode asks a useful question, shares some perspective on it, then attempts to leverage that understanding so we can navigate toward a more effective and meaningful life.

Season 01 Episode 06:

What goes into what we perceive as perception?

Lost in our own Little Words

As a species we differ widely in our the use of abstract tools in our framing of reality. There are many different narratives, but as far as I can tell, the common property is an attempt to pull the message (the subject) from reality (the object). The localized “subjects” we derive from objective reality varies considerably from culture to culture and person to person, but the “objective frame” we all derive that variable abstract framing from does has global properties that apply to all of us. These common ground messages are what the variation comes from, the same way all written words, that also can vary infinitely, come from a narrow set of symbols.

To illustrate this foundational communication: Reality demands a certain level of commitment on our part to specific activities in order to sustain us as coherent entities. Things like; stay away from cliffs unless we want to suffer the gravity of the situation, breathe appropriately to the situation – make sure to produce and distribute a sufficient amount of food to stay nourished as an individual or community and or gather enough to stay nourished – care for the young and teach them to identify and cultivate the nourishing opportunities as well as navigate and or contend with the hazards reality presents. Do these and many more things, or die out. In other words; we are governed by a common reality that requires we either negotiate the context of nourishing and antagonistic elements it presents to remain coherent, or suffer the consequence. From another point of view it could be said; we must pay homage to reality if we want to derive a satisfying experience from it. Also, our nature is reflective of the broader nature that both generates and sustains our being as well as governs it. Our state of being is composed of interdependent relationship systems that both serve, and require service to and from each other, and we are satisfied when we operate in service to establishing and maintaining equilibrium with this complex set of hungers for specific relationships on many levels.

We are also a voice in the choir so to speak. We can have a measure of influence in shaping what we experience as being. The more clearly we can tell the difference between opportunity and danger, the difference between constructive and destructive, and the more faithfully we are disciplined to contend with that mixed environment, the stronger our voice in this common choir. Nature clearly states that if we sacrifice appropriately, and cultivate sufficiently while contending effectively with antagonists, we can produce fruitful results that pay far more dividends when compared to the sacrifices they cost to cultivate.

Reality conveys that we can count the seeds in an apple, but counting the apples in a seed is not as clear or easy when those seeds are cultivated properly. With this in mind, I do think there are abstract realities within our shared field of vision that are closer to our common source – that common source being what is conveyed through objective reality. We can embrace these realities, and leverage the opportunities available to us, or we can reject or ignore them, but the result in that case is we twist in the capricious winds of circumstance without a rudder or sail.

To illustrate how we convert our perception of what is communicated through reality to words, often encapsulated in texts considered sacred, we can look at this passage in the Bible in Psalm 19:1-4, which says;

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. (NIV)

If we translate the common message communicated through reality into words more pragmatically: We live in an “almighty” reality that both created and conditionally nurtures us – that sets forth requirements (commandments) that must be met for us to minimally survive and or flourish depending on how obedient and committed we are to the proposed relationship between us and that greater power – a greater power that acts consistently and faithfully in context – from which we are born and to which we are recalled. These grander narratives we all share are commingled with the more localized aspects of stories from our environment are often caught in word form and recorded in texts as well. “don’t eat pigs in a desert because they compete for the same food you do.” or “Don’t kill the cows because of how much they give and because you will have nothing to plow the fields next year”. The grander narratives globally shared are mingled with the more localized aspects of stories, and we then see things like this woven into the fabric of stories in the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, Quran and the Tao Te Ching and so on. These various abstract nets in which we capture our perception of reality captured what we need (or once needed) to know in order to understand and navigate reality. We put reality in a story matrix, along with many other things of greater or lessor use, as a translation into words of the guide already being communicated through the structure of reality. The same way DNA encodes the information to reconstruct the proteins we need to continually nourish our cells and organs, sacred stories, which eventually became scriptures, act as cultural DNA.

As far as I can tell, there is variation in the way we tell the story, but there is also a common theme on which all stories are based. There is our local abstract lens through which we frame reality, but there is also a common theme spoken through that reality as well. It is our relationship with reality that defines our experience of life. This common womb we share is our common ground as far as I can tell.

My guess is the morals thing we obsess over is the supposition that these things are necessary navigation aids that assisted us in remaining coherent at least at some point in time. They are like the froth on the surface of a deeper need to connect abstractly with the concrete, which is paradoxically fluid.

I could be missing something(s)

A Wide Angle Lens on Life & Biology

My guess is the chief inhibitor to unlocking a clear vision of what the multivariate factors are that drive our experience of life is largely due to the linear reductionist lens we tend to apply when looking at relational systems such as ourselves. Linear reductionist lenses are like using a black and white crayon in an attempt to render a full spectrum image. While it gives us information, some of it quite useful, there is a diminishing law of returns which turns to a negative rendering value after a certain point of inflection.

Linear, fixed focal point lenses are not capable of rendering a full understanding of the workings of complex adaptive systems since, for instance, there is no inherent beginning or end to a given system, but diffuse nested fields of interrelated influences. As a consequence of using unifocal lenses, we often become enchanted with the linear images produced through it, albeit we also become blind in a sense, because much of the rendering is a function of the lens and not an accurate representation of the relational landscape it is pointed toward.

If we apply a systemic relationship lens to biology for instance, we then see a porous increasingly diffuse nested set of influences between organisms rather than distinct isolated organisms separated by fixed membranes. There is a porous interdependent set of relational bonds that lead to the same unified whole which we can detect by picking any point in a system. For instance; we can see the connections between the atoms, organelles, cells, and organs inside our body, and this inward coherency then extends outward to the microbiome, the local environment, the larger ecosystem, planet, star system galaxy etc. all the way to the whole of the cosmos. Were we to pick any other point in that nested collection we could also trace it from that focal point to the nested fields of influences which define that point, and extend again to the whole as well. In effect, linear images are useful, but have their limits. Whenever we choose a focal point, we also sacrifice the larger context.

When we use a systemic relationship lens through which to look at the whole biological economy, we can see with greater depth into the larger biological body of life in which we live, and on which we depend. What defines our local experience in terms of stability or instability in the final analysis is more like a cultivated commitment of a parliamentary nature than any kind of sovereign relational theme. Coherency is built on the strength of serving mutual needs of nourishment and defense. Our experience is cultivated on the preponderance of relationships that are sometimes necessary, sometimes laced with compromise, but always that serve purposes in relation to adaptation – that of remaining a coherent by way of sufficient nourishment and defense as an entity over time in the context of the environment. We realize this threshold of “being” by way of finding and maintaining this coherent equilibrium in the context of the larger environment. We see things like our individual identity and group sociality built on this same engine of nested influences. Understanding this is both the key to maximal growth, and a sustainable equilibrium in relationship to the carrying capacity of the environment.

I could be missing something(s)

Here is an example of the diffuse bonds of influence that conspire to shape what we experience as life and being.

Opinion: Microbial Mind Control—Truth or Scare?

Normal brain function may have evolved to depend on gut microbes and their metabolites.

https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/opinion-microbial-mind-controltruth-or-scare-36352

The Behavioral Theme of Biology is Nourishment and Defense

One of the major themes expressed through biological systems of all types on many scales is activity that lends itself to supporting coherence over time. The strategies are numerous, but pivot on the theme of coherence by way of “renewal” actions over time. In a variable environment with antagonistic agents that break down systems that need continual renewal to remain coherent, coherence sometimes means making sacrificial gestures that may not appear to serve from a short term perspective, but are necessary in when the perspective shifts to the long term. Here is one of those examples: *How a slime mold near death packs bacteria to feed the next generation* “…In the final frenzy of reproduction and death, social amoebas secrete proteins that help preserve a starter kit of food for its offspring.” https://www.sciencenews.org/article/how-slime-mold-near-death-packs-bacteria-feed-next-generation

Biological Influences on Identity Being and Personality

The influences that conspire to define what we experience as things like identity, being and personality type are built on a deep ocean of context based relationships which we have only begun to see with any real clarity, much less harness to our advantage. The currents of influence on which we ride have yet to be captured by the meager net of abstractions we feebly waggle into the depths in hopes of capturing something of value. Here’s a look at one tiny portion of this vast ocean of opportunity we have yet to discover and settle by way of leveraging our understanding toward progress.

An Ancient Virus Lurking in Our Genes Could Play an Important Role in Some Addictions

“…An unusual version of a retrovirus nestled between genes involved in brain chemistry is more common in individuals with a drug dependency than the rest of the population.*

https://www.sciencealert.com/endogenous-retrovirus-hk2-insertion-dopamine-gene-role-in-addiction

An Advance in Protecting the Brain from Dementia

Mitochondria is an organelle (tiny organ) inside our cells. One of the vital roles of it plays in the biological community is to produce a molecule we use as energy. It is like a central bank of our cells. It produces the currency by which things get done. The energy molecule is called ATP. (adenosine triphosphate) A loss of function in mitochondria can negatively impact our biological systems in a number of ways. ATP is not the only role of mitochondria. They also produce many other things by way of their own DNA. Among these biologically meaningful structures is a peptide called humanin.

Mitochondria communicate back to the cell and actively engage in determining major cellular policies in that larger context through signals communicated through structures like humanin. (these are called retrograde signals) Humanin, and many other signals are encoded in the nuclear genome of the organelle and play a crucial “voice in the choir” role in making sure the whole relationship economy functions. Humanin in particular plays a protector role in the cell against damage. (This is called a cytoprotective role). When the population of humanin, and other peptides that together provide for proper function of cells like ours (eukaryotic cells) becomes disproportionate the cellular needs, we suffer degradation of the systems we depend on. This can include dementia when it comes to brain function. Here’s a closer look at how the understanding of these roles can lead us to forming effective treatments.

𝗠𝗶𝘁𝗼𝗰𝗵𝗼𝗻𝗱𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗣𝗲𝗽𝘁𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝘁𝗲𝗰𝘁𝘀 𝗔𝗴𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘀𝘁 𝗗𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗮

“…researchers to believe that humanin levels play an important function in the aging process and the onset of diseases linked to older age… Because of the beneficial effects of humanin, a decrease in circulating levels could lead to an increase in several different diseases of aging, particularly in dementia”

https://www.technologynetworks.com/neuroscience/news/mitochondrial-peptide-protects-against-dementia

Discovering Biological Friends and Foes

 

Not all viruses are dangerous. For instance; some are vital to how we function. The effects of endogenous retroviruses (those that stitch themselves into the human genome) are thought to have been essential for the evolutionary development of placental mammals as one example. Viruses can strategically trigger actions such as reproduction and, or go dormant depending on the biological climate at the time. The fact that cell replication in complex organisms like ourselves takes place and then goes dormant strategically may be due, at least in part, to the influence of viruses in the form of the genetic remnants of the traits that are now embedded in our genes. This, along with many other functions in human biology are parallel to, and could potentially be a result of, the influence of viral behaviors.

In addition to physiology, viruses are known to affect other behaviors such as those we categorize as psychological. The rabies virus is one well known virus that causes increased saliva flow and aggression in mammals. The borna disease virus can infect a number of animals, including humans. It has been known to cause hyperactivity, somnolence, depression and agitation. The point being; our experience as humans is built on a biological relationship economy that extends well beyond a stable set of genes. The relationship field from which we are composed can be cultivated, but it requires understanding how the whole process works. We have a long way to go, but we have made progress.

The spectrum of relationships in nature spans from constructive to destructive and that constructive vs. destructive trait depends on context. Some biological relationships contribute adaptive value, in these cases they are conserved. Viruses, like bacteria and so on can play destructive roles in the context of one system and a neutral or beneficial role in the context other systems. Like the role our various systems play from the respiratory system which carries nutrients in the form of oxygen to our cells, to the immune system which seeks out and destroys perceived antagonists, viruses also exist on this spectrum.. Some are lytic, in that they damage the relationship systems the host cell(s) depend on in such a way that the system is disrupted or destroyed. Understanding this destructive end of the biological spectrum, and how to remedy and or prevent these things from happening in the context of human systems is an important part of the further development of medicine. Here is a look at some of the work going on at the forefront of that discovery process:

𝗗𝗲𝘁𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗮𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗿𝗼𝘂𝘀 𝗟𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗩𝗶𝗿𝘂𝘀𝗲𝘀

“…Most people on the planet are thought to carry the HHV-6 virus, which doesn’t cause symptoms in the majority of cases. Antibodies to the virus can be found in anywhere from 95 to 100 percent of healthy individuals, showing that most adults have become infected at some point. It’s thought to be harmless, but in people that have undergone organ transplant, take immunosuppressants, or get a chlamydia infection, the virus can become active… Two types of the virus exist; HHV-6B tends to infect infants and HHV-6A is usually asymptomatic. It does, however, integrate into cellular DNA, where it can remain for a lifetime. It has recently been suggested that the virus can reactivate and may play a role in a variety of diseases including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or Alzheimer’s… This work indicates that some prescriptions drugs might be able to reactivate HHV-6, leading to life-threatening danger for the patient. It may be very useful to identify these cases early.”

https://www.labroots.com/trending/microbiology/12741/detecting-dangerous-latent-viruses

The Relationship Engine that Defines Biology

 

If we step out of our structural model of “organism” and “genetics” and look instead through a relational model that defines biology in general, we see a relationship climate in the biological landscape spectrum that spans from obligate (necessary) mutualism, through commensal relationships that benefit both parties, all the way to predatorily competitive where one benefits and the other is destroyed. Through this lens we begin to see the basis for the emergent intertwined systems we see in biology.

With this model a full spectrum of behaviors would happen in the context of a single organism for instance. Our own system has certain obligate mutualistic relationships such as that between our vital organs. We have commensal relationships with microbes that provide valuable services for the proper processing of food and get to flourish themselves as a result. We also have an immune system that predatorily looks for antagonists and seeks to destroy them.

Systems that align themselves around coherence through the acquisition and support of sustainable nourishment and defense of that coherence through the destruction, or compensation for antagonistic factors (pathogens) that are perceived to threaten that coherence. (Autoimmune diseases would be an example of a disproportionate response in this process)

This twofold relational axiom (Coherence and defense of coherence) is what defines adaptive biological systems. When we look through this coherence lens, the membrane that defines sustained coherence is not defined by genetics, or by the skin of any one organism, neither is it based on a singular organism. It is defined by an adaptive array of relationships across the spectrum that lend themselves to establishing and maintaining coherence. These various relationships are threaded through many organisms and sometimes only parts of other organisms which together define a single relational system.

A sustainable relational economy is one that is adapted to the environment with a proportional amount sampled from that full spectrum. In other words, nourishing coherence and defense of coherence is threaded through many creatures that form a collective body.

Here is an accidental discovery that happened to discover one of these defensive systems in plants which occurred when trying to study the effects of gravity on plants.

𝗔𝗻 𝗔𝗺𝗮𝘇𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗛𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗻𝘀 𝗪𝗵𝗲𝗻 𝗮 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗚𝗲𝘁𝘀 𝗛𝘂𝗿𝘁, 𝗠𝗮𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗧𝗵𝗲𝗺 𝗠𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗮𝗿 𝘁𝗼 𝗔𝗻𝗶𝗺𝗮𝗹𝘀

“…When plants are under attack… their defense systems are raised in other parts…. plants use the same signalling molecules that animals use in their nervous system… the signals as they travel in waves through plants in response to a stressor… there’s this systemic signalling system, and if you wound in one place the rest of the plant triggers its defense responses… if a plant gets wounded, an electrical charge fires, propagating across the plant. In animals, an excited nerve cell releases an amino acid called glutamate, which triggers a wave of electrically charged calcium ions that propagate to cells farther and farther away from the site… what happened to the plants is… Waves of light flow out from the source of the wound, spreading through the plant… once the wave hits, defensive hormones rise in that region of the plant.”

https://www.sciencealert.com/plant-damage-response-defence-calcium-ions-glutamate-fluorescent