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About Otis

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    Prodigal Bum
  1. The heights of satisfaction

    I think there may be something very beneficial about the instinct toward tearing it all up. It all depends upon where you are in your life. If you were very dissatisfied right now, then tearing it all up might be the best possible thing. Personally, as someone who has a most important goal in my life (my documentary) the desire for which I feel to my core, I can say that finding what feels like 'my purpose' is both sweet and frustrating. It's great to have a sense of direction, but painful to always be in the pursuit of that goal, rather than having simpler tastes, and just enjoying what's sweet about life right now. That said, I would not give up that goal, just to get rid of the frustration. The goal is in my bones now, and won't let me rest.
  2. the least obvious

    Hi silent thunder, I'm a visiting old-timer Bum. I don't know if this relates to what you were asking about, but I think about this quite a bit. In Buddhism, people often talk about 'attachment', and well they should. But 'attachment' is only the yang neurosis. The yin neurosis is 'detachment', meaning being disconnected from their lives. Detachment, as far as I can tell, is every bit as problematic as attachment. Panic, anxiety, pain - these are all obvious feelings that call our attention to them, and thank goodness, so we can deal with them. But even more problematic are the feelings we don't feel. This includes problems of numbness, self-blindness, motivated forgetting, unconscious ignoring. These are even tougher to deal with, because our system shuts them out. It's hard to ignore my own pain, because it yells at me, but it's easy to ignore what I'm self-blind to. Detachment is what allows people to ignore others' pain. How could so much of American society be sanguine to the separation of immigrant children from their parents? Only by becoming detached from the humanity and suffering of others.
  3. Hi Yonkon, I'm just a visiting Bum, but sounds like a nice experience. I belong to the local Y, pretty much purely for the sauna and steam room. I find both to be excellent for warming up my muscles, so that my body gets extremely relaxed, and it's easy to stretch. Throw in a little cannabis, and the result is multiplied. I haven't tried microdosing, and I'm not really a meditator, beyond stretching. But I've found that combination to be very useful for unwinding my body. Even if it doesn't become your practice, I don't see why it can't complement it.
  4. Hey therner, good to hear from you. And yes, I still swear by all that. It's been a powerful restorative to my body's function!
  5. The model in the paper and the above video occurred to me during a conversation with my dad, when he told me about new research. In 2007, researchers who worked with patients with completely damaged (or surgically removed) hippocampi showed that the hippocampus acts as the "mind's eye". If there is no hippocampus, the brain cannot previsualize or have other vivid internal sensory experiences. This suggested that the hippocampus was an experience generator. We already knew that it created episodic memory, but knowing that it also helped the brain create pure simulations indicated that it was like Star Trek's holodeck: an empty reality simulator that can mimic any kind of environment. The hippocampus also seems to be the place where dreams come together. During REM sleep, the neocortex practices new skills and facts that it learned that day. The hippocampus stays active during that time, to provide sequence and timing information to the neocortex. All the near-random activity from the neocortex gets reported to the hippocampus, as in waking, but since it's meaningless, the hippocampus does its best to confabulate an imaginary (but real seeming) experience out of it. (So yes, to whoever said that we are dreaming 24/7, you are correct. It's just that our waking dreams are more constrained by continual neocortical input and prefrontal reality testing). Even more important, this insight helped finish the picture. The neocortical sensory nodes provide information that gives rise to the memory of the world, and motor + somatosensory nodes provide the experience of body, but finally this simulation experiment showed how the remaining element of 'mind' enters the picture. Mind, in the model, is part of the overall movie of memory. It reflects how one of the brain's major networks, the Default Mode Network (DMN) interacts with the hippocampus. It is only in the DMN-hippocampus loop that the mental imagery simulations are possible. And I hypothesize that language thought occurs the same way. If you think about it, language thought is a strange occurrence. Our brains' language is synaptic firing and brain waves, so why do we hear ourselves think in language? In our model, it's because the hippocampus evolved to represent the outside world, including accurate reproduction of sound, including speech. So the DMN uses the hippocampus' ability to buffer speech, and introduces inner speech into the simulator. This inner speech, which we call thought, is largely a mnemonic, to give memories a narrative and proper context. Language allows human memories to be much more efficient than non-language animals, because we can sum up an event with a simple story (this is also part of where we go wrong). But language thought is also a form of simulation, not unlike image thought. It can be used to predict a conversation with someone else, or it can be used to buffer information within the hippocampus, for the sake of inner deliberation. It's just a tool, to help the DMN try to predict and plan for the future.
  6. Hi wandelaar, I'm a big fan of Dennett's, and his book was one of the first I read, in preparing for the doc. I've also interviewed him, in 2014. I think his immense contribution was in his attempt to demystify consciousness, to get the woo out of it. Very important. But I do think there's a bit of hand-waving in Consciousness Explained, that I saw only in the second reading. In particular, he claims that we do not really have subjective experience; it just seems that way. But I think that's a flawed argument: if it only appears like we have experience, then it is the 'appearance' that we still need to explain. In my model, there are illusions, for example that 'consciousness' is a 'command and control process or entity'. But experience itself is considered very real, and useful. Particularly for non-language animals, experience is the language of memory; it is how an organism recalls events. My model also attempts to specifically deal with one of Dennett's major arguments, about multiple drafts. In our model, multiple drafts is reflective of how memory is formed. Field CA3 of the hippocampus is a predictive engine, and uses old memories to guess what the next moment of memory will look like. So it broadcasts a 'best guess' to the neocortex - is this what the next moment will look like? The neocortex reports back with mismatches (in the case of the multiple drafts example, the red light pool was predicted to remain, but now it has disappeared, to be replaced by a nearby green light pool). That mismatch gets flagged for the hippocampus. Field CA1 of the hippocampus then takes the 'final edition' news reports from the neocortex, and edits the prediction. And there is even a buffer (field CA2) in which a memory can be stored for a fraction of a second, while conflicts are worked out. This is why the window of 'now' appears to be a slightly fluid timespan of ~300ms-1sec, because that is the range of possible hippocampal times for presenting the new memory, depending upon upstream mismatches. I hope this makes sense...
  7. I think this is right, Steve. We've never been separate from our environments; it just feels that way from within. It's funny: TTB and Taoism helped launch my interest in consciousness, and the model in the published paper is very similar to what I proposed here. And yet, what I consider to be the most profound implications of the theory, the kind of thing that you wrote above, I had to leave completely out of my paper. The reviewers want papers to be as dry and academic as possible, so I had to leave the really juicy stuff out.
  8. Good to hear from you, too, Steve! I'm glad to hear your practice is strong, and that you are continually deepening and improving your relationships. I hope your surgery practice is also still going well! The chronic pain meditation project sounds like a natural marriage of your medical background and extracurricular activities; best of luck with that. I've gotten deeper into anatomy, over the last few years, than I ever imagined; fascinating stuff! I find the science of consciousness much more interesting than the philosophy of it. If you're open to hearing more about my projects, the theory is the place to start. In essence, the theory is this: this experience that I'm having right now, of being a body and a mind in the world, that experience is actually a brand new episodic memory. (Episodic memory, for those who don't know, is the memory of an autobiographical event, the recall of having been in a situation, as opposed to the memory of facts or the memory of how to do a skill). The hippocampus, which is the episodic memory engine, is at the pinnacle of all the sensory systems in the brain. They come together only at the hippocampus to form a big picture view of what all the brain nodes were up to, just a moment ago. We think of episodic memory as something we only look back on later, but I argue that it is first available, right now, in the form of 'neurotypical subjective experience' (NSE is a much better scientific term than 'consciousness' because the C-word means too many things to too many people). So the reason why the world is illusion is precisely because the hippocampus is constructing our internal simulation of the world, moment by moment, with lots of assumptions built in. And the reason why the 'self' is illusion is because the 'perceived self' (my feeling and experience of being a mind and body) is also part of the simulation. The episodic memory needs a self in the middle of it, to give context to the memory (e.g. who did what, how did I feel about it), and we mis-perceive that memory self as our actual selves. But the real self is the entire organism, the whole brain and body, and the perceived self is just part of a movie that plays in the brain. The perceived self, of course, is probably the most 'confabulated' (i.e. made up) part of perception, because the temptation to cheat is so high. There's a lot more to it, in the paper, but I also made a 5 minute explainer video about the theory, which lays out the rough picture:
  9. Thanks, Marblehead! I've just revisited a bunch of old conversations from back in the day, and I very much enjoyed our back-and-forth. You were one of the few other Bums to really make skepticism a core element of your discovery. A couple years ago, one of my brothers asked if I still considered myself a Taoist, and I responded that I mostly think of myself as an atheist now. I can't really claim any capital-letter -ist groups, I think; too much belief and too much baggage. But I'm still a big fan of Lao Tze and Mo Tze and all the other great Tze's. And of the Bums! I hope you're doing well! Here's the promo I created for the Consciousness Doc:
  10. Relativity Theory - For Serious Study

    I'm a big Einstein fan, but I have my own private theory. I think that General Relativity could potentially be extended from the solar system level, where it works extremely well, to the intergalactic level, in which it completely fails (without invoking Dark Matter and Dark Energy as kluges). I think my theory can cover both scales, without the need for the kluges.
  11. Passing through...

  12. Hello all, I used to post here regularly, back in 2010-11. I'm happy to see so many familiar cool bums still around, and wanted to say hello. I left here in order to make time to create a science-of-consciousness documentary, collaborating with my neuropsych prof dad. I've interviewed nearly 50 top philosophers and neuroscientists in the field, and I've even published my own peer-reviewed cognitive science paper, an anatomical theory of consciousness. All of that is wonderful, but I'm far from done with my doc. I'm turning 50 in a few weeks, and am happy to report that I'm still break-dancing weekly, as well as my all my other dance events. My life-long bad back is pretty much completely healed, and I'm in my best physical health of my adult life. Those are the headline good news. But it's been more complex, as well. I've had my most satisfying romance during this time, but also my most heart-breaking loneliness, when it didn't work out. I'm happy with how much I've learned about brain function, but I still haven't learned how to get most people in the consciousness field (or the press) to read my theory paper. I think I've embraced all of my life, including the painful feelings, more than ever before, but that doesn't mean it's delivered me to some utopian place, where I'm always joyful, no matter the circumstances. My job and life are good, but I also struggle with the dissatisfaction of not yet accomplishing my dream (the doc). In other words, I'm still on my path, not quite the path that I imagined back in my Bum days, but still searching, still exploring. There's a lot more I can say about the last 7 years, and my theory of consciousness, but I wanted to keep this OP short, say hello, and say more only if people are curious. To those I knew, like Steve F., Marblehead, thelerner, Manitou/Barb, Kate/Birch, Scott/Blasto, Stigweard, Dawei, Apech, 3bob, Everything, et al, I'd love to hear what you've been up to. Much love.
  13. Thanks, y'all for your kind words! I miss hanging out with my fellow bums!