Tuesday, November 13, 2012


(So far -- highly subject to revision, possibly momentarily.)

1.  Everything is code (pattern, structure).  The difference between non-being and being is that being is structured.  At that point it becomes energy.

2.  As Einstein suggested, matter is only coded energy.  I will begin with the atom.  (There are sub-particles but that's a distraction at this point because someone will start talking about Higgs Bosons and I don't want to.  Nor God neither.  The structure of an atom is a central nucleus (at least one proton and one neutron) in a shell that might be only one electron.  At this point we call the entities, when aggregated, "elements."  There are a limited number of them and there can be variations (isotopes) within them up to a point.

3.   Atoms can be clustered into molecules according to how the atoms stick together.  Molecules are described in a lot of different ways:  proteins, sugars, lipids, hormones, etc.

4.  Molecules somehow created one celled creatures, which are patterns of molecules.  The early versions had a nucleus of one strip of genes, which are codes, and a wall, a boundary that can create a gradient which is a source of energy.  The creatures can reproduce by "budding" or splitting.  We call this "mitosis."

5.  One celled creatures one day somehow ended up with a double strip of genes -- maybe a long one broke in half and doubled back.  Now the one celled creature can come up against another one and they can take down the boundary (the cell walls -- one celled intimacy) enough to unzip a double gene strip into two and swap half so that now each has a new code that will make a new structure-creature.  Or the one-celled creature might totally swallow another one-celled creature so that the smaller one becomes a little colony inside the big one's cell wall and produces energy for the bigger cell.  (Mitochondria)

6.  Pretty soon the one celled creatures became multiple cell creatures.  The ones that didn't have code and structure that were successful simply died.  The ones that did (by now we can call them eukaryotes) persisted and complexified and struck up partnerships with other eukayrotes.  (Entrainment, concatenation, complexification, evolution).

7.  After a zillion years of this sort of thing, we have mammals and then human beings.  A human being is a complex colony of eukaryotes that have specialized to the point of not being able to survive on their own.  (Remember Loren Eiseley who tripped on a hot sidewalk one summer day and apologized to the red blood cells streaming from his smashed nose and cooking on the pavement?)


8.  So now we come to the human brain: stacked, packed and wrapped.  Starting at the top of the spine and proceeding -- all above the neck -- is a series of organ parts with the earliest and most primitive brains at the bottom (the reptile brain), going up to the mammal brain, and finally the most human part of the brain which is the outside rind or covering that wraps all the rest, with the most advanced and recently developed structures at the front behind the forehead and the top sides -- the very places most likely to be damaged by butting something.

9.  The parts of the brain each shelter or include specialized small structures, specialized cells, and special abilities to network with the rest of the brain through codes, which operate through direct contact (long extended axons of the individual neurons that can extend for remarkable lengths, like maybe a yard, the way fungal mycosilia filaments  join tree root hairs and mushrooms for beneficial purposes, symbiosis) or by messenger molecules that travel in the fluids of the body (hormones) or by brain wave variation.  In fact, there are two organs that generate brain waves, which are a time structure as well as having peaks and speeds and so on.  The heart rhythm is independent but affected by the brain rhythms.  The brain waves operate something like that circling line in radar that reveals things as it passes.  Brain waves vary all the time, but one of their major purposes seems to be concatenation, entrainment, the coordination of whatever is happening in the other structures.   If brain waves get out of rhythm and lose their pattern, the result is a seizure.

10.  The brain cannot perceive anything that is not coded.  The cells cannot feel, hear, see, taste or smell.  They deal only in the electrochemical processes that they support.  Each organ of perception has to be accompanied by a little center of translation from vibration to code (hearing), from molecules to code (smell and taste), from lightwaves to code (seeing). If something goes wrong with the coding center that means of perception is either distorted or eliminated.  If something can't be coded, it is not perceived -- light waves too long or short, for instance.

11.  There are two realms of perception: inside the body and outside the body.  The function of both is to maintain homeostasis.  The world impinges on the creature through sensations, the coding centers send the information "up" to the eventual final processing which results in action or not-action, which IS an action.  Homeostasis is whatever allows the creature to survive.  If actions help with that or don't interfere, they persist.  If they don't help, the creature is damaged or destroyed.

12.  Inside the body code is created also in the interest of homeostasis:  hunger, fear, rage, desire, comfort, sleep.  We call these codings "emotion."   They may be the product of the autonomic nerve network, a special system that maintains breathing, heartbeat, digestion, and circulation of fluids.  Another coding system is that of hormones in the fluid systems of lymph and blood.  The mechanical management of blood is a very active system: it is what is perceived in some instruments that observe the brain, because active cells cause blood to go there, and it is one contributor to sexual arousal, engaging either the spongy cells of the penis or the spongy cells that enwrap the vaginal tube.  (This probably contributes to getting a good "seal" for the transmission of seminal fluid, but also is coded to the brain as intensely pleasurable.  IF the coding system is working.)

13.  The basic mantra for the brain and for homeostasis is "code in/action out."  In between is a system of sorting code information into patterns that eventually rise to the level of "meaning."  Some meanings are not conscious, while others are or can move in and out of consciousness.


14.  Consciousness, particularly consciousness of the self, is the pressing question of the moment.  It appears to be on or off, but it can also be semi-consciousness or barely subliminal consciousness (what comes to consciousness in dreams or hypnotism or creativity or free-association).  Experiments prove that even unconscious patterns deeply control the functioning of the brain which is only code and can only manage code through finding or creating patterns.  Without pattern there is no way to decide on actions.

15.  There are also many kinds of consciousness that we might call "moods" or "states."  Parallel to the way we learn about the brain through lesions that knock out various spots that reveal their function by being missing, there are conscious or barely subconscious states that control our emotions via depression, hyper-function, dissociation, elation.  The same code can be handled differently in the brain according to this mode of working, but we don't know how or why.  Neurotransmitters seem to have something to do with it.

16.  Voluntary control of consciousness can sometimes be produced by actions -- exercise, facial expression, supplying something that is lacking as in the case of hunger or relief from discomfort.  We say, "Cheer up"  and "Walk it off."  Or we can find something to do that produces "flow," which happens when the tasks exactly match the skills of the person, which is a kind of homeostasis.

17.  The voluntary control of focus is an important precursor to many actions.

18.  Involuntary actions are controlled by the subconscious which is why they are not voluntary.

19.  Memories are created both by actions and by sensations.  They are encoded in some way that attaches them together.  Daniel Bor, in his book "The Ravenous Brain," calls this "chunking, which I find rather inelegant.  I'd rather say "clustering."  Little bits of code combine into larger bits of code -- evidently indexed by the accompanying sensations -- and then into still larger bits of code until they reach the level of meaning.  

20.  Once a cluster has reached the stage of meaning, it is conscious and can be handled rationally, which is a way of managing code.  The more the brain has accumulated code for many things, the better able it is to manage meanings.  A good scientist would recommend a constant consultation with the real world to check meaning with the codes that give us "reality."  A good artist would recommend a constant consultation with one's inner world to discover the emotional meanings and associations of code.  These things are both conscious and subconscious.

21.  Social homeostasis depends upon learned codes of behavior, beginning with babyhood when one's actions of crying or thrashing cause response from caregivers.  If no code that causes emotional and sensational accumulation in the baby comes in, the baby will die as surely as if it had not been fed or had been exposed.  Later in life behaviors that mesh with others will mean better chances at survival but there are many ways to mesh besides conformity.  (Later, gator.)  The deepest code structures/frameworks, which are the ones that are the ones foundational to all the rest concern dark/light, cold/warm, held/dropped, breath/suffocation, pain/comfort.  These are the sensations that the saints describe after an interval of ecstatic and liminal brain consciousness.  They are deep enough to be shared by all mammals, but the latter cannot add the higher brain meanings of complex structural thought.

22.  Social homeostasis is supported by relatively recent forebrain evolution (spindle cells, mirror cells) that allows transpersonal vicarious communication.  When we witness someone else's movement or emotion, we don't just recognize it -- our bodies and brains show very subtle mirroring in our own selves.  This is the basis of some art forms.  Again, this is deep: mammals, esp. domestic mammals can "read" our emotional states but they cannot imitate our movements, except for primates.  However, domestic animals whose use depends upon communication -- like dogs or horses -- can predict and participate in behavior, often perceiving far more subtle signs than humans can.  Whether this could be called vicarious is open to question.


23.  The brain, which is a organically based process of code management leading to action, is protected and confined by a bone bowl or globe.  A brain, I am saying, in its bony holder is like a burning fire (using oxygen) in a chalice, as in the Unitarian symbol.

24.  A brain that supports meaning at the "liminal" or sacred level is governing homeostasis as much as breathing, which is often a metaphor for "spirituality."  Exactly what it is remains mysterious, but we know how to manage it to some degree, mostly with metaphors that have gathered or clustered many rich sensation codes and meaning codes into a complex that helps us keep surviving.  It is not a morality, though morality is also an indicator of homeostasis, but morality is "whatever works."   Liminal sacredness is what tells us our highest meaning and gives us our deepest courage when survival is at stake.

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