Friday, December 25, 2015


Might or probably aren’t final conclusions.

There is no such thing as permanence.
Boundaries create change because things pile up on one side or the other.  Then gates open.
All boundaries can shift.  
Everything is interwoven.
It’s a dance, a symphony, a time art.
If we are friends or even enemies, we are linked, changed.
If we pay no attention, it’s to shrug.  Mostly.
Gradients, vectors, power transfer, value change

Taxonomies (pigeonholes)
Anything you look at is at first just a big blob.  Then you begin to distinguish one part from the other, one kind from other, one situation from another.  So you say, “this and not that,” but if the pigeonhole is mistaken, you’ve got to say, “It would be better to make a new system.”  Think of all the animals who were thought to be related until we looked at their genomes — and then they were entirely different.

In the academic context, disciplines of knowledge have been historically useful, but now they don’t fit what we are learning.

IDENTITY AND CONSCIOUSNESS are the screen but not the machinery that produces them.  They are dynamic and assembled from the body, its functions and interactions on every wake-up.  They are not the on-switch.  They can be multiple, they can alternate, they can be incomplete.  Shape-shifting, tricksters, morphs, illusions, are part of the deal and often self-protective or the person couldn’t persist/exist.  But some molecular additions are toxic, some permanently.

The operation of the body, inheritance, responses, are NOT the essence or intention of the person.  They are the result of molecular interactions which are triggered and hosted by the body.  This includes intentions, which can seem voluntary but aren’t.  They must be backed by other forces, maybe other people or circumstances.  Maybe meds.


EMERGENT: something that appears or becomes possible because of underlying conditions.  It wasn’t there earlier.  An important result of mutations and adaptation: evolution reaches back as well as forward and finds new uses for old parts.

HOMEOSTASIS:  the limits of survival.  Too much or too little will take the creature or group or species out of the game, so those who can manage to stay within the boundaries will survive.

FOCUSING:  Eugene Gendlin’s way of talking about managing the “working platform” of the brain.

FLOW:  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi way of talking about an exact match of skill/capacity with the demands of a situation.

THE CIRCLE OF BELIEVERS A conventional way of thinking about observers like anthropologists or scholars of religion who do not share the beliefs of those who are being observed, but do not denigrate or mock them.

REALITY:  CONSTANTLY REINVENTED CONSENSUS.  What the screen shows for most people.  Humans cannot access directly “reality” which is matter of wave lengths, molecules, chemical interactions — the equivalent of pixels excited by technologies.  We must interpret the “code” of neurological processes only as shown on our consciousness screen, or through technological detection. 

IDENTITY: MANY LAYERED DYNAMIC PROCESS that uses memory, habit, group feedback, environmental cues, and other brain tricks to shape the picture and story on your screen.

ECOLOGY: An operating circle of interrelated forces and entities that maintain the homeostasis of the whole.

NICHE: That ecology circle, which is based in geography, and can’t be maintained if the environment goes outside the limits of homeostasis enough to damage the ecology beyond recovery.

THE FELT SACRED  is a meaning so deep that is beyond what the brain can describe.  Basic mammalian instinct generated from the bottom up to the most elegant abstract concepts puts a human, separately or in groups, in a state of vibrant harmony.  It might be landscape, music, interpersonal relationship, art, story — often surprising.

LANDSCAPES OF INTERACTION   (I’ll come back to this.)


CRISPR: The technique that can insert or knock out a gene from it’s long string curled up in the chromosome.  REMEMBER: a gene is simply a recipe for a set of molecules that may or may not interact with other molecules and that may only be about timing or some algorithm of “if/then”.  Many things are the result of interacting SETS of genes at a certain stage of development. 

EPIGENOME is a set of molecules that act on the genome.  They can be inherited.  They come from the environment and can turn genes on or off.

METHYLATION  The process by which the epigenome acts on a gene.

MOLECULE:  Elements made into a structure that can interact with other molecules.  There are many kinds, described and grouped according to what they do and sometimes by the kinds of atoms in them or how they are “folded.”


A fossil from the future

I’m reading “Origins and Revolutions: Human Identity in Earliest Prehistory” by Clive Gamble, a geographer and archeologist.  He notes that hominins (not including primates but all fossil relatives) went along for three million years without changing at all.  Suddenly they began to evolve — what was the trigger?  Later, in the Neolithic period, there was another jump.  He doesn’t talk about the anthropocene — he talks about “post-lithic” humans!

The companion book is “On Deep History and the Brain” by Daniel Lord Smail, whom I came to know about because of his sojourn with the Neubauer Collegium which now inhabits the former Meadville/Lombard building.

Another good author to read is Mark Solms.  There are vids of all three men on YouTube.  Gamble is English, Smail is American, and Solms is Australian.  That must mean something.  Globalizing academia, maybe.  A convergence.

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