The Permanence Review Newsletter, Issue #5
I recently applied the theories of consciousness from The Pressure of Light to this article: Why teaching a computer to remember computing is the first step to constructing consciousness in AI
…which is also a GitHub project: https://github.com/MalcolmAR/ConsciousHabitTracker
There are so far 137 downloads of the Free PDF for The Pressure of Light, consider supporting me in my efforts towards this and future work with a one time donation (even $5 helps) or a monthly donation: https://pressureoflight.ca/publishing/
Section 4 of The Pressure of Light is the one I’m most proud of for its poetry. I use the term Archetypes in my title for the reasons that I believe one should: my artist-technologist and philosopher-scientist defines to halves of an individual conscious mind in terms of who an individual is from the perspective of themselves, the perspective of others, and in terms of the never completely knowable who-they-really-are; it defines to halves of human-action, in terms of how individuals live their lives, and how human societies progress forward through time; and finally, the archetypes can, for the purpose of future work, describe to halves of humanity on the whole, of human-history, and of character in the literary sense.
My reflections on this section sometime have me feeling a little regret over how negative I portray the artist-technologist, but I think it’s important to start with highlighting the pain and torture that exits because of the mechanisms for creating permanence within a conscious mind. That permanence is worth celebrating, of course, because in individuals it’s represented by all abstract concepts: all virtues, intrinsic truths, capacities for observing the complex, and appreciating persistently beautiful qualities. In humanity as a whole, that permanence is represented by institutions like mathematics, faith, law and democracy.
According to the Pressure of Light, the pristiness and value of those permanences are sacrificed once externalized, particularly when externalized for agreement among the group. I believe the externalization works for mathematics, law, faith and democracy because their foundational concepts are either surprisingly easy to embrace consistently across many individuals throughout time, such is the case for mathematics and law, or because their foundational concepts are malleable in the context of an individuals internal frameworks for understanding the universe, such is the case for faith and democracy, while at the same time are surprisingly capable of retaining a degree of consistency across many individuals throughout time.
I also believe much of the torture individuals feel (and I’m happy to put the spotlight here on prominent knowledge-sets perpetuated globally today) are caused by externalized permanences that groups expect individuals to embrace verbatim, as knowledge-sets, regardless of how those knowledge-sets feel within their own frameworks for understanding the universe; to embrace them without any individualization of the knowledge-sets, and to hold true to them all along their own life path, despite the unknowableness of the individual path the group may vehemently insist on affecting. In an ideal learning and thinking environment, I don’t think individuals are apt to torture themselves with the capacities of their own conscious minds; I believe it’s the infiltration of forced group-think that is responsible for most of the existential pain experienced today by individuals across the globe.
The poetry of this section should provide some hope by highlighting the part of ourselves that is not only impenetrable to group-think, but can’t even fathom what group-think or any of the associated pain feels like: that part is represented by the philosopher-scientist.
Without further ado…
There are two types of time that your mind travels. Do not see this as it pertains to the present moment, because what matters is that you are simply a body passing through the universe, miraculously accumulating knowledge as you go. You will behave, decide, and perform in bizarre ways based on an eclectic accumulation. The Pressure of Light investigates the possibility that two types of time are responsible for that accumulation. In mirror-time you are inundated with your drive to establish purpose, cause, context or intention behind the existence of a thought. You are an artist. Or you are inundated with a drive to establish rules every time such and such thought happens, to establish prescription. You are a technologist. In normal-time the self has no interest in perceiving any event as just another example of this or that, instead the self walks the path of time with nothing but curiosity for what lies ahead. In normal-time, you are a philosopher-scientist, meaning above all you develop knowledge that is intrinsically good and useful in real-events, regardless of whether it illuminates connections or has practical applications. In the form of philosopher-scientist, you are concerned most with knowledge that is developed from observations of events that were at first unexplainable, knowledge which is most useful in navigating events that are unpredictable, and knowledge that survives above all by continually proving it’s value through unexpected challenges faced along the dependably heterogeneous path of normal-time.
There are so many known types of selves that fit the form of the philosopher-scientist: the artist or athlete in-the-zone, the rescue-worker acting on impulse, the worker who moves through the day like a zombie; anyone who has reported a time when they were very much applying their mental capacities to life, but without the ability to report on a memory from that time about a thought or a feeling. Being in the zone appears to flavour this experience with enjoyment and a heightened lack of concern for whether the self’s internal processing is at risk of failing her task. Memories from these times are memories of life unfiltered by separation into the particulars of each sensory perception. The memory is of content only, the story of the win, the rescue, or the vaguely remembered workday, with the only medium being the act of recounting the memory out loud. If the memory of the win is recounted inwardly, over and over, then that beautiful moment in the zone becomes a memory of remembering being in the zone, along with memories of mental analyses of what that means. At this point a familiar dilemma may emerge, where contemplating and wanting the zone inversely makes the zone harder to reach or even remember experiencing.
In the context of The Pressure of Light, this is the dilemma experienced by the artist-technologist when attempting to jump time-states, or even just understand the perspective of the philosopher-scientist. The problem inherent to their view is that they are just another iteration of many iterations of artists-selves and technologists-selves, because seeing the universe as nothing but a collection of parts that are each nothing more than one in a projectable series means you also become nothing but one iteration in an infinite iteration of selves. Artist-technologist-selves that come to believe their self-regulating-cycles-of-thinking-analysis are superior to the philosopher-scientist’s immersion-in-action-without-hesitation, run the risk of sinking into a vision of life as nothing but iterating events, like the single life of a video-game character, a life that’s only unique in the sense that it’s a variation on the iterating lives experienced by other iterations of video-game-selves. He then lives completely in mirror-time, forever looking away from the actual path-of-time to instead stare into the pairs of infinitely-regressing-mirrors, each one holding a smaller and smaller version of himself, as he takes clunky and resistant steps forward through time. Without escape, this time-scape becomes a meaningless and unhappy dimension.
If the universe were to trap her in a time-scape like this, the philosopher-scientist would not like it one bit. She’s too committed to seeing every twist and turn in the path as revealing something never before seen, too committed to waiting until the last moment before deciding what knowledge she’ll need at the next challenge. She identifies herself as someone living a truly unique life, as someone living a story, epic in its originality, and with a plot line that nobody will ever predict, least of all her. This doesn’t mean she needs fame to help her stand out, she doesn’t need recognition at all, if she did that would mean she’s only original in the sense that she is a noticeable iteration among fame-seeking iterations. What she needs is to see time as exactly what it is, unpredictable, but dependably heterogeneous, and to see that single path through space-time that only her body travels. On the path of normal-time she gets to do what she does best, reach into her neurology’s network-of-knowledge and draw-out a perfect set of information that never would have come together in the face of any other challenge, at any other point in space-time, or for anybody else. That is happiness for the philosopher-scientist.