April 2007


Looking at videos breaking up in their structured, pixellated way, I could see the ingenuity of the codec: focussing on the regions that change the most, trying to mimic human attention.  At a slight remove, it is clear that the engineers are chasing the grail of sending the experience down the line.  Thats a massive urge to communicate from P-world to P-world.   (Can’t grab an example, sorry.)

Here‘s a great post on Neurophilosophy, about a classic paper, “On the pecularities of the negro brain“. The author is clearly simply reacting to “otherness”, based on the obvious characteristic of color (sensory categories win every time). Oddly, in describing the supposed characteristics of the Caucasian and the Negro, he calls the Caucasian “subjective”, and then links that to “determination, will power, self-control, self-government…with a high development of the ethical and aesthetic values”, while he calls the Negro “objective”, and he links that to “affectionate, immensely emotional, then sensual and under stimulation passionate. There is love of ostentation…love of music, and capacity for melodious atriculation; there is undeveloped artistic power and taste…instability of character incident to lack of self-control, especially in connection with the sexual relation”. The latter sounds like a wish list. All the things I could think of someone being, but I am not. (well, he isn’t:).

2 brains

As two brains prove to have common macroscopic structure, despite infinite variability, so it would behoove us to identify the common gross structure among our P-worlds, and therewith perhaps obtain some small insight into the degree of variation that remains.

I have recently been fretting that it is possible to swallow my P-R thesis whole, without any discernable consequences.  Jack even pulled me up on this one.  And its not a scientific hypothesis, but a metaphysical one.  So it represents a framework within which old questions can be examined anew, hopefully with the result that previously distinct mysteries may be seen to be related, thus suggesting, perhaps, new ways of understanding them.  One such old chestnut is the nature of truth.  Several interpretations are possible under P-R.  Approximation to R-world, as evidenced by predictive power, and possible relative stability across time, is one such.  This is uncomfortable for many people.  Our baffling ability to cause misery to others, by denying the reality of their P-worlds, and consequent dehumanization is another.  It suggests a basis for what it is to dehumanize, and suggests that the only way to stop this is to acknowledge other realities.  This surely suggests possible developments in the way we deal with crises.  P-R also demands humility with respect to ones own certainties.

Going asleep last night, I rememberedd that I ought to make a mental note of where I had stopped watching a rather complex movie before I nodded off.  A mental bookmark, I thought.  Then I wondered how it was that a computer metaphor so suited what is a familiar cognitive operation, and one which presumably long pre-dates browser lists of favourites.  The answer is of course that bookmarks in browsers exist precisely because they support a familiar cognitive operation.  When we see a bookmark, we are looking at something which results from our cognitive economy.  Technology is a sketch of ourselves, adn getting better.  In affordance terms, the bookmark in the browser is pure affordance.  It serves no purpose and has no reality except in terms of what it affords us.  One more example of looking outwards to see our minds.

We read so much into artifacts from past societies, conjuring the spirit of the time through these little cultural objects.  We should accord as much, and channel as much, out of artifacts of our own times.  Pop videos would be enormously informative and evocative.  Cartoons, low pass filtered and made of common, typically harmless elements of local desire.

I think Collier would have a dynamical description of the expenditure of energy in autocratic societies that is made manifest in the P-world as threats. In an autocracy, threats hold the whole thing together.  A plurocracy (in which power is distributed and authority multi-dimensional) ought to be more stable, exhibiting lower effective dimensionality (& be easier to cartoon)

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