August 20, 2004
Tackiness of the Moment
A form of artistic political commentary in rather poor taste, (As "Evil Bastard" pointed out, parts are really REALLY tasteless; it's pretty bad even in a "edgey social satire" sense) people are invited to send in photos of themselves Doing A Lynndie: adopting the smiling, cigarette hanging, pointing-at-some-less-fortunate-person pose that Lynndie England had in the infamous prison scandal photo.
Musing of the Moment
I think that well-known phenomenon where you don't notice a recurring background noise until it stops tells us something about our sense of perception, and from there, what consciousness is and how it relates to the subsonscious. This morning I pulled into a parking space and turned off the engine...and only then did I notice that there had been an engine noise all along. But it's not quite that simple, because I wasn't just suddenly aware of the (relative) silence...for a split second I could hear the engine and analyze its sound, think about the components of it, make a quick check that nothing sounded out of the ordinary. I think it offers a tantalizing glimpse into the "tape delay" we live in, but that we fool ourselves into not perceiving. Without realizing it, I was travelling back in time, letting my conscious brain swim in the river of perceptions my subconscious brain has going along. But it didn't feel like I was "playing back the tape"...it was exactly as if I was perceiving things in the moment.
I guess that's as much about how much subconscious processing we do all the time as our fudged view of time, but the "tape delay"...the fact that it takes true, non-reflexive awareness of the outside world about half a second to kick in, but our brain purposefully fudges its clock so we end up thinking we're reacting in "real time"...is experimentally well-established. (Warning, popups for adware at that site). Our self-models are so over-simplified, and off-the-mark...I think that gives some creedencxe to the Zen view that consciousness is an illusion.
Incidentally, I have the hardest time visualizing the implications of the "zap the brain while poking the skin" experiment. I find it so difficult to really grok the idea of consciousness on tape delay, how sensations from, say, the skin must be re-encoded so it fits into our own personal subjective timestream...
Dialog of the Moment
"Pokey, are you drunk on love?"
"Yes. Also whiskey. But mostly love... and whiskey."
--Little Girl and Pokey the Penguin