Sunday, October 08, 2017


Computer simulation of part of the brain connectome
The cortex is in thin sheets, so this is a section, I presume.

What if the brain were based on geometry, constructing “sandcastles” (which I’ve been calling “hallucinations”) as temporary architecture based on bits of info (like sand) and responding to mathematical principles (which means I’m in trouble).  They call this “algebraic topography” which I first heard about from a parishioner whose son was studying it in the Nineties.  Some talk about seven dimensions, others talk about eleven.  Since time is one of the dimensions, the surf is always coming in or going out.

Here’s a movie about what amounts to footprints in the sand.

This one is called “Reconstruction and Simulation of Neocortical Microcircuity”
It’s a lot more technical, therefore male.  (Urk.)

So basically, the assumption is that the universe in which we exist is a complex and geometrical structure that we can understand by constructing in our brains a simulacra of the perceived world.  We do this by creating a formulaic and digital depiction of what we think the brain cells are sensing.  By this time (the twenty-tens) the scientists are working with software to keep track of what’s going on.  More sand castles.  (Silicone chips are made of sand.)

“Future BBP work will enrich the reconstructions with models of the neuro-vascular glia system, neuromodulation, different forms of plasticity, gap-junctions, and couple them to neurorobotics systems, enabling in silico studies of perception, cognition and behaviour.”

One of the interesting convergences in my own thinking is the possibility that the cells that sense and organize data from the “real” world — which are HUNDREDS of specialized cells rather than the five senses we know about from childhood because those five are organ-ized as noses and ears, etc. — these single cell types might match the dimensions of thought.  One cell per dimension, not completely inventoried yet.  But that can’t be right because the cells form structures and it is the structures that “make” meaning.  The cells must interact by using electromagnetics, molecules and atoms, because what else is there?  Some structures must be relatively permanent enablers, while others are messages that travel through the enablers, triggering changes.

It’s too much for me to think about in a technical way, so I’m dependent on the derived implications that the scientists will suggest.  Still, this kind of study has the potential to change world culture, even for people who don’t understand it.  I see it as breaking up the kind of assumptions that have put us in the current minotaur’s labyrinth.  Saying that is using Lakoff’s idea about metaphor being the method for dealing with “sand castles” which are also a metaphor.

“Consciousness” is the described goal of much neurological study and theorizing.  What is it?  What does it do?  And behind that is the conviction that consciousness is related to intelligence and that intelligence can be quantified by using paper and pencil testing.  The expectation is that some people will be smarter than others and that this will mean superiority and the right to take more resources and control others.  (Trump“I’m a really smart person.  I’m very rich.  Money just loves me and just comes to me.”)

Few are thinking about the "thinking" below our awareness, the assumed, the gating by chemistry and infrastructure.

In the past “consciousness” has been connected to religion and related institutions (academia) that support and prescribe systems of thinking.  Asian and indigenous systems are more likely to use metaphor, experience, and maybe even the eleven dimensions of the world outside our bodies.  But in the “developed” world — the colonizing world — the definition of thought has been based on logic, dyadic oppositions, and math — which is why it’s so ironic that the advances carrying us to the country of the sand castles have come from that relentless seeking of something permanent, dominant, narcissistic, and assigned to the male gender.

Here comes the tide, the oceanic substrate of the cosmos.  One wonders whether the waves of drug use are symptoms or causes or simply one more sand castle in which people wander looking for something, even as the walls dissolve around them.  “Be here now,” has never been more relevant — it is the definition of consciousness — but don’t expect to stay.

If there are eleven dimensions to the universe, there may be that many dimensions of what we call sex and gender, divided unequally between two halves of the code for constructing the human creature.  (The ovum has the founding cell structure with its own internalized one-celled creatures called mitochondria.  This has become relevant in the discussions of why Neanderthal hominins died out.)  What originally evolved as the drive to fertilize by linking it to pleasure has been dominated by mixing with cultural aspects of ownership, domination, what is more “conscious,” more deserving, more a sign of superiority.  

To innocent minds, Hugh Hefner’s herd of young women who would become healthy mothers -- if they weren’t on the pill and exposed to STD’s -- was the justification and privilege of his sand castle mansion, a circular argument.  People who have been there recently talk about its deterioration, disease (the swimming pool gave people Legionnaire’s), and old-fashioned Fifties red-plush-and-gilt furnishings.  He specifically excluded his wife from inheriting anything, but would she want it?

The infrastructure of social prestige must be constantly renewed.  If Trump’s understanding of life is roughly the same as Hugh Hefner’s, then it is way past its sell-by date.  Unfortunately, this is also true of Congress.  Aging is marked by the death of brain cells: sand castles eroded and collapsed.  I used to say that while new “sea changes” gathered power, they weren’t apparent but rather happening quietly in what one might call other dimensions.  Undertow.

Logically, analytically, cold-bloodedly, using the old male institutional rules, one can understand that the ideas developed by “world” wars based on technology and access to the necessary resources, the pressures created by overpopulation, and even the institutional systems that have roots in the earliest agriculture when land ownership was invented, have put us into these world systems in conflict with each other and have made “wealth” seem like a real dimension of life.  But sand castles make poor forts.

We are all watching Melania’s wardrobe, now that she wears clothes for a living.  She has been wearing chaste, simple gowns and then this summer went to print dresses, not quite old-fashioned.  For gardening she wore a plaid shirt and jeans, just like the rest of us.  Lately, she has been wearing semi-military get-ups and boots.  Trump predicts a “storm” which some interpret as war between nations.  I think he is really in a war against Time.  Already he has been stripped in depictions by artists.  By New Year’s Day he is likely to be stripped of his convictions about who he is.  Then Melania will need the wardrobe for either a widow or a divorcĂ©e.  (This is, after all, not “Game of Thrones”, where fallen queens are paraded shorn and nude.)

I did not expect to end this composition by talking about Trump, but he intrudes everywhere on my computer, even though he only has two dimensions, neither of them quite real.

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