Tag Archives: Awareness

History Repeats Itself

After the arrival of the printing press on the human cultural scene, ideas were much less able to be contained and controlled by what was, in effect, a priest class of idea manufacturers. Before this technology, ideas were printed as social currency from the central authority that consisted of the government and church. This set of ideas was consumed as the map of reality by the population at large. With the printing press ideas became far more distributed and less contained by the mandates and hegemony of a robust social institutional base. The institutions had a stranglehold on the narrative map with which the culture navigated and therefore largely defined the culture were now under threat.

A whole new economy of influencers entered the scene, unleashed by the technology. Turmoil followed as the former centers of influence saw their ecological niche threatened and fought to retain their relevancy. Enlightenment ideas such as deism, liberalism, toleration, and scientific progress eroded the supremacy of these former undisputed champions of culture. These new narratives were harshly crushed with physical and ideological warfare because they threatened the now weakened institutions.


After the printing press, it took some time to get the reins back from the effects that “ideas in the wild” had. A time of chaos ensued until a new equilibrium was forged – until these new ideas developed into cultural institutions themselves – until they became well entrenched in the culture with formal institutions of their own – complete with a priest class of “experts” and the attending flocks of faithful followers along with those who get caught in the currents of influence produced by whatever ideological coin of the realm happens to be popular at the time – the “zeitgeist du jour” The organs of influence that emerged in this new climate fitfully found a place of equilibrium among the traditional forces once the boundaries of influence were sufficiently defined. Books, newspapers and later, radio and television were the new centers of power that coexisted with government and church. They now controlled the narrative and defined the culture.

This newfound expansion of the narrative territory didn’t mean that society transformed into a place of justice or any other high virtue. In fact; exploitation, or what could be called social farming (where a small group that holds control of the narrative entices larger groups to act in unison under the banner of a set of ideas that serves the interests of that small group) reemerged after some time. The former concentrated seats of power were disrupted for a time but not the principles on which the human social economy operates. Grifters and those who ride on waves of authority rather than the much harder work of authentic contribution to the human condition dressed up in lofty ideas like freedom and justice while they reestablished the reins of influence. Once again the influence was leveraged to parasitic and predatory effect on the many to serve the few. In other words, the new boss was the same as the old boss.

This same period of chaos and fight for control of the narrative is happening again with the advent of the internet. Like the printing press, this technology unlocked the ability for one person to reach thousands and millions with a keyboard and a camera. This has once again disrupted the institutional layer of society – the few that control the narrative for the many. The same painful and bloody birthing process that happened in the wake of the printing press is once again unfolding. I suspect that a new equilibrium will form over time. I’m not sure we have the maturity as a species just yet to redefine the principles on which our new social contracts will operate. Will we generate the emergent fruits that result from a commitment to the realization of each other’s full potential, or will we reestablish the poverty inducing climate produced by the image so well defined in George Orwell’s book Animal farm, where the creatures used the ideas of freedom and equality to reestablish exactly what they claimed to be fighting against?


Freedom and justice cannot be expected to flow from untended soil, it has to be continuously and carefully cultivated by what we do for each other, not by what we can get from each other. I hope we can develop the insight and discipline to choose the former because the latter is a recipe to author our continued poverty.

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)

The Dark Side of Simplicity


The burrow is the domain of creatures less able, or perhaps less willing to contend with the kinds of adversity that exist in the full light of day. It’s eyes become tuned to the blacks and grays of the shadows. It scurries out in reluctant circles to find food, doing only what is needed to satisfy the drives that compel it to act, all the while terrified it might become food itself. In this world, devoid of colors by way of the limited perspective through which reality is rendered in the dark, it carves out an existence beneath the threshold of possibility, in a cocoon of safety spun with fear. These creatures of the burrowed dark have, in effect, determined that the cost of contention with a full spectrum world is too high – or perhaps too frightening. Either way, it trades vision for safety, and in so doing sacrifices possibility on the altar of fear.

Each choice presented by nature is bloody – every proposition that renders benefit also comes with sacrificial costs. We sacrifice any hope progress by not taking the risks to brave the light of day. We gain safety at the expense a fuller embrace of reality, avoiding the dangers, but also the opportunities. We can form a prison of stagnation that returns the kind of clarity that only the limited vision of darkness can bring; not a clarity that forges an accurate view of the world, but the false certainty forged by a restricted field of vision.

In the shadows of a narrow mind peering through a simplistic lens we can gain a clear vision of things like “right and wrong”, not because we see an accurate representation of what is, but because the limited range of gray on black we paint our world with generates an illusion of clarity from a fraction of an otherwise full spectrum world. It is from this position of dark clarity that we can lay hold to false claims of absolute truth. From this vapor platform, we can then pronounce with certainty and clear conscience who deserves to be “in”, and who deserves to be “out” – who is worthy, and who is not. We can burrow ourselves deep in the safety of a mob that uses our selfsame brand of social currency – our repertoire of thought stopping clichés to execute our condemnation of those who dare to explore the outside the boundaries of our circle. All can be known if we hide from almost all there is. We can sacrifice the other for the sake of self when we make our pious judgment from high atop our visionary tomb.

When perched on our dark limb, the antagonist becomes anyone or anything that dares shine a light beyond the comfort of our ignorance. Fear becomes our primary currency of being. Uncertainty becomes the enemy. And through our false certainty, we fail to grasp that our life is diminished to a tale “told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” – and going nowhere. Wallowing in a high test reactionary world of responding to what happens, unable to conceive, much less take action to brave the waters required to make things happen. We live in the shadows of this womb, reacting to the currents on which our experience rides, without a voice. The womb of safety is also our tomb, because if we never emerge, we also will have only existed and never lived. This is nature’s proposition, a choice between bloody and bloodier, between bravery and the potential for doom but also for victory, or the the asphyxiating squalor of complacently and cowardice, accepting the way things are – a spectator critiquing the game played upon us.

In the same way that burrows protect the creatures of the dark in exchange for the possibility of vision and progress, simplicity is a borrow of abstraction for those of us see clearly – not because it renders an accurate image of what is, but because it renders an illusion of clarity representative of the limited extent of its field of vision. Those of us either unable, by virtue of ignorance, or unwilling by virtue of fear – give up the possibility of progress in exchange for safety and the illusion of certainty.

For those of us that discover the snare, the battle begins within us between the currents of cowardice and the promise of fruits that might come from contending – from disturbing our comforting place and stepping out into the unknown. Whether we exist in the shadows of the parasitic and predatory existence that living in fear offers, that devours our volition in a pool of acquiescence, or if we act to step out to contend with the devouring demon it is, depends on the choices we make after catching a glimpse of what could be. We stand on the cusp of order and chaos, staring at the divide between the shadow and the light. Which way we face determines whether we have things happen, or make things happen, both of which demand sacrifices, but only one of which offers the promise of progress.

The Purpose of Life is Written into the Structure of Biology

Banner ProfileA skin cell does many vital jobs over the course of it’s life. It is arguably part of the more defensive oriented aspects of our biological economy but it also plays many nourishing roles like producing Vitamin D. Each cell lives and dies, in part, to nourish and protect the whole body that gave birth to it and nourished and protected it to maturity. Skin cells share a common legacy with all cells, to serve nourishing and, or defensive roles in relation to the community, whose integrity depends on enough of that shared value for the interdependent community to survive. T

The whole process for a skin cell takes around 6 weeks, from being “born”, to being pushed up through the layers in about 4 weeks, to dying and serving, even in death, for about two weeks as part of the stratum corneum. (Outer layer of skin) Other cells in our body live much longer, but all that are valuable contributors (not antagonistic to the body) are also oriented toward the purpose of nourishing and defending the community which also nourishes and defends them.

This statement, made through this biological economy, happens on many scales. his is true of cells, organs, an organism, a species and an ecosystem. There is a sufficient commitment to nourish and defend the integrity of the system in order for it to flourish.

Each of us gets to carry the torch of living fire in the community we live in and depend on for life. In fact; the difference between a significant life and a meaningless life depends on whether or not we find and express a constructive role – leaving something more constructive in our wake than the sacrifices required for us to be here. We are an expression of hunger to find our place in the community of relationships and cultivate something fruitful in that context. This act requires sacrifice but also pays dividends greater than the sacrifice. Cultivation is the purpose written into the structure of our being. Every organelle, cell and organ must contribute to the community it lives in and depends on for life; so must our lives be oriented around this natural hunger in order be satisfied.

This understanding and the constructive expression of significance is the key to a satisfied life. We are biologically wired to be satisfied by finding and expressing our nourishing and/or defensive role in the context of the community. This is why we never meet anyone who is both malignantly selfish to the parasitic and predatory exclusion of others, and satisfied at the same time. This move toward constructive significance makes the difference between a frustrated existence, and one more reflective of our role to support the relationship economy on which we all depend for our present and our future. This value system is also the way evolution makes selective decisions about what will continue forward in time, and what will be selected out.

I could be missing something(s)

The Integumentary System, Part 1 – Skin Deep

Exploring the Origins of our Social Nature

AntDrinking

When we are in a stadium or a packed movie house experiencing something on the edge, do we feed on the mindset of the crowd? Do we lose our sense of individuality and become part of the group body? Can cultures incentivize the adoption of ideas; not because the ideas themselves are valid, but because they act as symbolic markers of inclusion? Do these ideas become the de facto currency of social inclusion, something we tend to adopt because we are biologically wired to seek inclusion as a primary drive?

Could this be how intense stress can act to spawn populist movements with fierce devotees that tend to act on more narrow and non nuanced principles? Could this natural tendency toward a desire for coherence make us convinced of an idea, not because of its validity, but because of our need to belong to a group for protection, especially under perceived stress? Is this what happens on differing scales of intensity as a function of our social nature?

Is this holding of ideas as a means of ritual expressions that cement social bonds something we may do without being consciously aware? Is it possible we are not in touch with because we’re lost in our own little words while actually being carried on biological currents that are far deeper and powerful?

This article might reveal a clue of the origins of this type of behavior we see at many levels:

𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗹𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗹𝗱 𝗴𝗲𝘁𝘀 𝗼𝗿𝗴𝗮𝗻𝗶𝘇𝗲𝗱

“… a unicellular organism that may transition into a multicellular organism under stress, has just been found to have a tissue structure that was previously thought to exist only in more sophisticated animals. What’s more, two proteins that are needed by the slime mold to form this structure are similar to those that perform the same function in more sophistical animals.”

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110314172317.htm

The Art of Communication Has A Long Tradition

Collections of cells working together as a unified body, producing specialized behaviors that lend adaptive advantage on a group scale which include some sacrificial acts that benefit that larger community is not unique to complex multicellular organisms like ourselves. It is more of a relationship theme that that has been threaded into biology long before multicellularity as we know it emerged. It involves perceiving necessities, and communicating these necessities across a biological domain so that effective behavioral responses can take place. This community principle, complete with communication across a wide biological landscape has been present, and conserved throughout our biological history – a unified purpose among different biological entities that arose out of necessity long before multicellular (metazoic) creatures emerged. Here is an example of how this takes place among microbes:

How Microbes Communicate Over Long Distances

“…Percolation is familiar to anyone who brews coffee, and it helped researchers at the University of California San Diego understand how bacteria communicate with one another over long distances. Communities of bacteria, sometimes called biofilms, aren’t just a clump of bacterial cells. It seems they can send signals to one another with ion channels, promoting the survival of the community and protecting it from attacks. New findings on that communication have been reported in Cell Systems.”

 

Link to full article:

https://www.labroots.com/trending/microbiology/12216/microbes-communicate-distance

We’re in this Life Together

Like so much of the choreographed biological relational dance that defines our own being – this place in the cosmos that we have only just begun to capture in our meager abstract net of words – the monarch butterfly lives a life of connectivity to itself and nature that steps far beyond it’s own capacity to grasp. When we witness this spectacle of the monarch life cycles, we can only marvel on the sidelines and partly describe the processes as one of nature’s mundane acts of profound expression unfolds before us. Like us, the monarch butterfly cannot sufficiently explain the intricate depths of its own being, and yet it is somehow aware at some level how to navigate the environment that would swallow it if it did not press back proportionally with an effective strategy to negotiate the perils. The monarch cannot explain why it eats what it eats, why it is equipped the way it is, or breeds successive generations, each with specialized roles and specialized understanding, geared to migrate a partial leg of a journey that spans a number of monarch lifetimes and thousands of miles through a myriad of environmental variables and challenges. It cannot explain the depths of its own genius – to act as a singular cohesive unit in the face of variable challenges with a collective body that spans lifetimes and acts in unison to preserve the species as a whole.

The Monarch butterfly carves out its cycle of life in part through a 2500 mile journey every year over four specialized generations of travelers, each lifespan lasting 2 to 6 weeks, except for those that wait through the winter to make the journey again. Like the monarch, we also temporarily carry the torch for a larger body of life that continues beyond our individual lifespan; we play roles in this larger scheme that we may not completely understand. The degree to which we can make sense of this journey we are on is perhaps rooted in the theme that is expressed through all biological forms; that the mark we make, like ripples in this common pond in which we all swim, get carried forward in time depending on how much value they contribute to this common body of live from which we all spring and the extended journey we’re all on. While the significance of our lives exists mostly beyond our field of vision, we can see that what we are is seated on the continuing nourishment and protection of this delicate economy of mutually nourishing and protective relationships that define us as a coherent and continuing form.

An Incredible Journey: The Monarch Butterfly Migration

https://www.isfoundation.com/news/incredible-journey-monarch-butterfly-migration

The Backfire Effect: Plain Truth Sometimes Increases Ignorance

 

The backfire effect is a name for the human social phenomena that exists where when we are given evidence counter to our already established belief, even if that belief is a hope, desire or the like in disguise, we tend to not only reject the conflicting evidence, but believe even more strongly in our original proposition as a result of the encounter.

This makes the many self appointed “rational warriors” in our culture agents of increasing cultural ignorance when tactics of persuasion that include things like ridicule, and loudly speaking what is perceived to be “important science” to what is is perceived as “the unwashed masses” are employed. Rather than agents of increasing rationality, ridicule and brutal honesty are not effective, regardless of whether or not they may be true.

We see this cultural phenomena in the anti vaccine movement, and other beliefs that require a vigorous denial of plain evidence to maintain. My guess is the reasons for this are at least partially rooted in the fact that, generally speaking, we are social-emotional creatures with a small capacity for rational thought. We are not rational creatures who are also social and emotional. When sincere efforts to combat ignorance simply use fact, and do not also accommodate those emotional-social realities, they tend to backfire fortifying ignorance among those of us who perceive we’re under attack.

Our personal identities have their own ideological immune response system and like our biological one, we become more able to fend off “attacks” over time as we’re exposed to them. Additionally, we can develop what amounts to an ideological autoimmune disease in our perception faculties, where we retreat to a belief matrix that is increasingly divorced from pragmatic realities.

The methods by which we communicate, including the social-emotional subtext of those communications, become part of the means by which things are accepted or rejected. This is the reality of the social economy. Genuine persuasion appears to be built on trust, and that trust sometimes must be established over time, especially when in the context of a prior relational strain stemming from perceived disrespect, or a history of prior emotional strain related to the topic on the part of the person(s) being communicated with. The capacity to communicate in the context of ideological differences requires more than an economy of facts. It must also include a baseline of respect at the very least as a starter for any real communication to have a chance to take place.

*France’s fact-based approach to teaching the public about Lyme disease has backfired*

From the article: “Rather than quieting the concerns of Lyme advocates, France’s national plan is further entrenching two extremes.”

https://undark.org/article/france-chronic-lyme-disease/

 

More information on the backfire effect: https://medium.com/homeland-security/the-social-psychology-of-the-backfire-effect-locking-up-the-gears-of-your-mind-a79d4e6e8061

 

There are some who think the backfire effect is not real, or at least exxagerated. Here is an article about this.

http://mashable.com/2017/05/06/oatmeal-backfire-effect-comic/#Py0CmJZf3iqr

In-Groups and Out-Groups: A Biological Perspective

There is a certain fungus that is able to control certain ants to serve as a vehicle to further its own reproductive ends. The ant, in this case, dies in service of reproducing the fungus. There is also the case of the bacterial parasite T. Gondii which edits rodent brains to be attracted to felines so they get eaten, which helps the bacteria to enter its spawning grounds, which is in a feline gut. (it also edits other mammal brains in different ways) There are numerous cases of parasites and viruses that have the capacity to influence other organisms in service of their specific ends. It could be said that this is the norm in nature – competing influences that ultimately result in emergent behaviors that we typically identify as belonging to “an organism” but are in fact based on the collective property of many organisms.

When we consider that we are also a collection of various organisms that are influenced by each other, each with various agendas and various means of carrying that agenda out, we can begin to see that what we call our choices, and what we think of as our identity, may in fact be a byproduct of the parliamentary constellation of influences that rises from the pool of biological organisms that define us. We may be a reflection of the relationship field from which we are composed which extends beyond human genetics.

A recognition of this, at least from the parasitic sense, there is a now “theory” on the block called ; “The parasite-stress theory” which sees our personal and cultural identities through the lens of the parasitic creatures that influence us to service their various needs. In some real respects, it posits that our cultures in large part are an emergent property of the parasitic microbes that influence our behaviors.

The evidence for this idea is the strong correlation between the strength of parasites in the relationship field of the people in a given culture and their relative state of peace or conflict in addition to whether or not the culture is conformist or individualistic etc. In other words, what we see as culture may be a mirror effect of the relationship field between organisms.

According to this video; the parasite-stress theory may be a general theory of culture and sociality. In a nutshell it acknowledges the fact that the various strategies organisms have to influence other organisms to serve its purposes do have a role in defining this thing we call us. My thought is that it would be a more accurate lens if it looked at the full spectrum of organisms, some of which are on the mutually beneficial range of influence – commensal organisms having a stake in the success of the community it depends on – and doing what they can to offer benefits such as stability, defense, long life and so on. In other words, I think this theory is on to something, but is not yet complete. If we factored in the full spectrum of influences, (rather than just the parasitic segment) we would be able to understand that our opportunity for cultivating an intentional experience of life, rather than riding ignorantly on the winds of biological chance, is rooted in whether or not we intentionally tend the biological relationship field of which we are, on which we depend and that defines this thing we call “us” to be inclined toward the commensal, mutually beneficial segment of the spectrum of relationships.