November 02, 2016

God Nose

God Nose
The ghostly, bisected nose that invades my visual field, but is almost always ignored by representational artists (they can't all have small noses) is way too big.

The nose that I think that I have is the one that I see in the mirror. It is tiny. The split ghostly nose that I see, is big. Is it really my nose? The nose large on white.

I also note more recently that there may be many more representations of the nose than I previously realised. The nose(s) drawn above form the shape of a keyhole, a shape which is shared by the ancient Egyptian menat pendant, the Egyptian bull God's horns, and those of Hathor the mother God, vast ancient tombs in Japan and Saudi Arabia, and possibly also upside down Stupa. Perhaps the ancient Egyptian ritual Sistra">Sistra and Sekhem were also designed to encourage their holder they they are always looking at the world through, or as, a sort of slit. I guess it is also the "dimly seen," gossamer," "wispy" doorway or valley female mentioned by the Tao.

Posted by timtak at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2016

The Cyclops with the Mousy Hair: Here she is

The Cyclops with the Mousy Hair: Here she is
On the wikipedia page regarding the mythic ancient Greek Cyclops (circle eye) there are some theories as to its origin. One is that since they were associated with blacksmithery, they might originate in the practice of wearing an eye patch by blacksmiths to protect their eyes from flying sparks. Another theory has it hat perhaps originated in ancient Greek reactions to mammoth skulls whose tusk socket may have appeared as eye sockets. A third theory has it that perhaps Cyclops represented deformed humans, born with one eye due to exposure to teratogens.

I suggest than the Cyclops is simply another representation of self from a first person perspective. From a first person perspective we all have only one eye. Mach drew his visual field with one eye closed, and thereby concealed this fact, but this visual field would been the same single ellipse with none, one or even both eyes closed. The origin of the Cyclops as self representation, would be poke-your-eye-out obvious if it were not for the fact that she is wearing a wig, as it were. That is to say that in my case at least my mind is feminised, pretending to be the opposite sex. This makes the Cyclops too (Fire-in-Cairo) hot to be visible.

Looking at the above image someone in me feels an affinity for it. It is quite mesmerizing. On the one hand I feel I should look like a Cyclops, because my monocularity in the image above corresponds to the subjective experience more than the usual two-eyed version. But at the same time, the guy or lady here above represented with one eye is not me. This one eyed guy is another, a hermaphrodite 'beast' or Buddha and very big. The Cyclops is not me at all. I am the little guy I see in mirrors.

This final bit may be religious mumbo jumbo (the above is purely experiential and or scientific!) but I have the strong premonition that we are all going to meet the Cyclops with the wig, not that we don't every moment of our lives, but that we will one day see her clearly. Will we be forgiven for keeping her hidden?

Or on the contrary I worry whether I will I be forgiven for showing her? Have I caused anyone grief? Did anyone go mad watching my photo-compilation?

My hope is that some folks, who I love, will not be surprised to meet her, the Cyclops with a wig, and that I will not be surprised either.

When I made this video, the wig was even more metaphorical.

Posted by timtak at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)

The Buddha's Lap

The Buddha's Lap
Whose legs are these? I don't think that they can really be mine. How could I not have noticed that they always point upwards, or I down? I lived my life not realising that I am upside down, like a foetus in the womb of my mind. Will I be born before I die!?

After The Buddha in the Womb, the Hadith, a Bowie song in which he says skull designs upon my shoes, Rochat's research in which he find that children like looking at their own upside down feet move from their first person perspective, and Buddhist priest (別府信空上人) who found that his lap was rather Amida's lap. After hours of beating his drum and chanting in a seated position, presumably when he was looking down at his lap, the Amida Buddha said to him "You say 'please meet me, please help me', but before you realised, I was already holding you so tightly wasn't I? Don't you understand? Can't you see, you are on my lap?"


別府信空上人(2015)『現物者の喜び』法然寺 p36

(I have never seen heaven nor the Buddha anywhere near my lap. The above picture was taken when I was seated normally on the floor.)

Posted by timtak at 05:41 PM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2016

The Sphinx: The Return of Mr. Long Paws

The Sphinx: The Return of Mr. Long Paws
If you look at a Sphinx from the front it can look like a lion with the head of a human, but from the side the Sphinx has the strangely elongated forearms, and hand like paws. I never knew. Why should this be? What else has massive pair of forearms and a strangely inappropriate head, like the Sphinx?

If you stand up and look down at yourself, it may give you pause, groan; you may agree that you too are the Sphinx. If you are anywhere near as thin as an Egyptian at least, then in a standing position all you are to yourself is a glimpse of a headless torso and a pair of long forearms (above top). This beast, our body, has no head, but I think we feel that a human is looking out of it.

Once again I think that Sphinx (Dogū, Venuses, the Buraq, and Barlachs Angel) is the terrifying self-body view, from whose perspective we see ourselves.

This makes the riddle of the Sphinx all the more poignant, "Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?" The answer should be nothing, or "The Sphinx." There is no identity that connects these representation of a human life, were it not for the Sphinx, who is watching and listening.

Sphinx statues too are brilliant visual riddles. From the front they look like a familiar third person image. From the side, or knowing what the are from the side (Mr. Long Paws) and so from above, they look like a first person body views.

But then along came Oedipus, the man who said in answer to the riddle "man," and named himself, with the help of his mother. Perhaps the Oedipus event, when the poor old Sphinx threw herself from her high rock and died, refers to the point in time when the Sphinx as watcher was replaced by a "passive" "acoustic cap"/"hieroglyphic bonnet" and the relationship between human self-representations and first-person perspective became sexualised, and Oedipus gauged out his eyes. Come back Sphinx, all is forgiven.

I am reminded of Yeats' Second Coming. The audio made me shiver. I have always liked the poem, but I never fully realised before that it was about the return of the Sphinx.

Sphinxes from Wikimedia

Posted by timtak at 06:21 PM | Comments (0)

Cancer in the Neck of God

A Cancer in the Neck of God
I am more into horror and taboo than truth. It seems to me that the real world, the "out there," is largely a fiction. Sure it enables us to make smart phones, so it has to be partly true, but then termites make beautiful nests, and fish navigate the oceans, but their view of the world is surely silly, and ours, an evolutionary blip away, likewise.

So the more interesting question to me is "why do we believe in the world?"

(The image above shows me being pleased to get a message from Yasuko and has little to do with the contents of this post)

It seems to me that we believe in the world for the same reason that we believe in ourselves, or rather because we believe in ourselves. I think that Buddhists are right to say that the world is a fiction that starts with the self.

Basically, I think that I am the I of my self narrative. This is a silly as thinking that I am the face in the mirror but nonetheless, I think I believe it.

Various psychologists claim that our self-representations, especially the I, is believed and understood from the point of view of some sort of "other in mind" (Rochat, 2009) -- someone else in our consciousness. It follows I think that, it is less that we have internalised an other, but more that we have externalised ourselves, as narrated "I" or image in mirrors.

What keeps this fiction in play is less the believability of the fiction, than the horrific nature of the "other" that we hear or see our fiction from. Only a few, Nietzsche, Freud and Derrida and a few of their acolytes (of which I am one) hint at this possibility.

Once we have, or rather become, an "other in mind" (Rochat, 2009), then the the self is believable. and world as symbolised in words and math, can seem real.

I write in this way because I have seen the horror.

When I was in my early twenties, I had an experience where I went right off my rocker, feeling (or knowing) myself to be a complete fiction, a voiced, a whispered fiction, and a loving, sexualised fiction at that, by a colossal giant pretending to be my mother.

The "horror" of the situation kept, and keeps, it hidden. My "true self" (in quotation marks because it was not anything like a self, just vast) was infected by a sort of sexting, telephone sex, or pornographic radio play. "I" am the fictitious hero of that sexting, whispering in the heart. The vastness was playing a mother-whore in which there was talk of me, and everyone else. It seems slightly (but only slightly) strange to me that the vastness was very pissed off since I guess that the vastness is doing it.

And likewise the excuses that Adam said to God (the woman you made for me gave me the fruit), and the excuses that Eve said (it was the serpents fault).

Writing, as I am, from the normal, sane, narrative self perspective I should take the blame. I have lived my life "thinking," that is to say listening to my whispering.

I guess that this grotesque sexual story that I am, evolved to promote procreation and domination of my species. There are psychologists who claim that God likewise evolved to prevent freeloading and get us to get on with multiplying. I think they have it the wrong way around. God is the truth. I am a whispering in my Adam's apple. I am a cancer in neck of God.

I am looking for research or books that link the theories of psychologists with physics.

Adam Smith -- The impartial spectator
Sigmund Freud - The acoustic cap (later the super ego)
George Herbert Mead -- The generalised other
Derrida -- the ear of the other
Michail Bakhtin -- The superaddressee
Thomas Jefferson -- a female Reason
David Bowie -- The girl with the mousey hair etc.

Mead studied Kant, but I can't find a theorist that says that the "generalised other" (the Whore of Babylon methinks) is that which anchors and supports our belief in the world "out there."
Mead is very down to earth. His "Mind Self and Society" is very down to earth, not at all French. He argues for instance that e.g. threats can not be understood unless we hear them from the point of view of an other.

Adam Smith likewise. His explanation is very short -- we can't evaluate our behaviour unless we split ourselves since the subject and object of evaluation cannot be the same.

Aha Mead (1917) wrote a great pragmatist paper on the philosophy of science from which I quote below.

"While the scientist may as a metaphysician assume the existence of realities which lie beyond a possible experience, or be a Kantian or NeoKantian, neither of these attitudes is necessary for his research. He may be a positivist -- a disciple of Hume or of John Stuart Mill. He may be a pluralist who conceives, with William James, that the order which we detect in parts of the universe is possibly one that is rising out of the chaos and which may never be as

(214) universal as our hypothesis demands. None of these attitudes has any bearing upon his scientific method. This simplifies his thinking, enables him to identify the object in which he is interested wherever he finds it, and to abstract in the world as he conceives it those features which carry with them the occurrence he is endeavouring to place. Especially it enables him to make his thought a part of the socially accepted and socially organized science to which his thought belongs. He is far too modest to demand that the world be as his inference demands.

He asks that his view of the world be cogent and convincing to all those whose thinking has made his own possible, and be an acceptable premise for the conduct of that society to which he belongs. The hypothesis has no universal and necessary characters except those that belong to the thought which preserves the same meanings to the same objects, the same relations between the same relata, the same attributes of assent and dissent under the same conditions, the same results of the same combinations of the same things."

In other words, there probably is no thing in itself: to be is merely to be agreed upon.

And why? Here comes the internalised "generalised other"

"The completion of this program, however, awaits the solution of the scientific problem of the relation of the psychical and the physical with the attendant problem of the meaning of the so-called origin of consciousness in the history of the world. My own feeling is that these problems must be attacked from the standpoint of the social nature of so-called consciousness. The clear indications of this I find in the reference of our logical constants to the structure of thought as a (221) means of communication, in the explanation of errors in the history of science by their social determination, and in the interpretation of the inner field of experience as the importation of social intercourse into the conscious conduct of the individual."

But that is specific as Mead gets. It will do. The world of science is felt to exist out there because we have "imported" "social intercourse into the conscious conduct of the individual." But who is aware of this interior social intercourse? It must be (it is) really nasty for it to be so well hidden. It is for this reason that if were to unveil and be horrified at the nature of this "social intercourse," and stop doing it, the myth of the real world, including the distant stars could drop "like figs."

Posted by timtak at 06:16 PM | Comments (0)

People seem Upside Down

People seem Upside Down
The late great David Bowie in one of his last songs, Blackstar, claimed that we are inside out and upside down. The suggestion that we are inside out is fairly approachable from a psychological viewpoint. Several psychologists claim that our selves are representations with which we subsequently identify. In that sense, the "I" and mirror reflections, as representations, are more exterior than that which they are meant to represent; we are inside out.

But why should we be upside down? We view ourselves in mirrors and others before us, of course, out of our own eyes. As mentioned in a previous post, if we have a model of the self as seer from a first person view point then, it, that seer is upside down. We don't usually notice this, but if you look at yourself you will find that your hands are higher in your visual field than your shoulders and your feet at the highest position of all. That we are upside down is so counter intuitive that it may be necessary to have a look of the photographs of first typical first person body views (and on the right a first person view of a paleolithic figurine) in black and white above from Leroy McDermott's seminal paper (McDermott, 1996). Compared to this I-see-I first person self view, all people, in mirrors and walking around, are upside down.

I showed subjects pictures of a park, a group of people, and their own face superimposed with four shaded disks, each with light and shade. Humans tend to feel that light comes from above so the disk that has light coming from the direction that conforms most with the subject's sense of top should look most convex.

The results showed that there was little differences between the four conditions in how often the students felt that the light was coming from the top of the pictures one or other side of the pictures. But, the picture of the park was less likely to have any effect at all, leaving the top to be felt to be at the physical top of the photo conforming with reality, and the pictures of people (self and group) were more likely to be felt to be upside down.

For example in the pictures above, in the pictures of the park the uppermost disk was felt to be most convex conforming with reality rather than being dragged off kilter by the picture. Compared to the park, the pictures of people and the self were more likely to seem to be felt to be upside down, with the left most disk appearing more convex in the second and third (people) pictures above!

This is not what I had predicted at all but from the point of view of David Bowie's monster, first person "girl with the mousey hair", it is not entirely implausible. Quite by chance, I may have operationalised "the whore of Babylon" if it is to our first person self that "the whore" refers. Or it could just be a random artefact since I was only showing 18 photos each to seven people.

McDermott, L. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227-275.

Posted by timtak at 06:14 PM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2016

The Buddha was not always Silent

The Buddha is famous for refusing to reply to the question, "how does the illusion of self arise?" He said we should get rid of it. I think he was being polite.

Going through a famous set of Zen Koan's -- the Gateless Gate - it seems to me that number 42 (by coincidence, I presume) "The girl comes out of Samadhi" provides the answer.

The Gateless Gate's koan number 42 can be found in Japanese and English at various places on the Internet: English, English and Japanese, Japanese. My precis is as follows.

The almost-Buddha of wisdom, Monju, came late to a meeting of Buddhas and found only a woman in state of Samadhi (near-enlightenment, satori) near the Buddha's seat. Monju said "How come this woman can get so close to the seat of the Buddha whereas I can not?" The Buddha said "See if you can bring her out of Samadhi." So Monju walks around the her three times, uses his divine power, but fails. Buddha says, you would not be able to bring her out of Samadhi, even if there were 100,000 Monjus. Then the Buddha calls up a comparative novice Moumyou (罔明 lit, the bright net, sometimes interpreted as "the intellect" or "the seed of delusion") tells her what he wants Moumyou to do and Moumou succeeded instantly where Monju had failed.

The Gateless Gate commentary asks how come the teacher of seven Buddhas, Monju the wise failed, whereas the novice Moumyo succeeded. It says if you know the answer then you can be in Samadhi while still in the floating world.

Finally there is a poem sometimes translated as follows:

One could awake her, the other couldn't
Both have their own freedom.
There is a god-mask, and a devil-mask;
The failure was very interesting.

This translation of the poem is incorrect. The third line of poem in the original (神頭並びに鬼面)refers to the head of a god and a devil mask. By making the poem about two masks it suggests that these refer to Monju and Moumyo, but this may not be the case. And just who was the girl anyway?

A devil "girl" stares out of our eyes, masking our original nature. If we are in Samadhi we can see her, and no amount of wisdom (Monju) can make her unseen. But as soon as we use our intellect, and speak to her, we fall out of Samadhi, even the Buddha himself. The girl near the Buddha's seat and the Buddha are one. The girl is the devil mask of the head of god.

I am not in the slightest in Samadhi. But I saww the devil mask once. Now, I just write about it.

Another poem
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Posted by timtak at 09:52 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2016

The Buraq as First Person (m)Other

In the above video (particularly from 1:18) Richard Dawkins berates and ridicules Muslims for believing that the Prophet travelled to heaven on a winged horse.

Presumably the Islamic winged horse is a metaphor for something, as is the Bull that we are told to find by Zen. The Islamic horse and the Zen bull may even be a metaphor for the same thing.

{Contains Spoilers. This is a scientific analysis of the Buraq that can not capture the communicative power of the original.]

The horse is called the Buraq and is explained in the Hadith in the following way.

"Then a white animal which was smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey was brought to me. ... The animal's step (was so wide that it) reached the farthest point within the reach of the animal's sight."

From a Machian phenomenalist perspective (1897), we do not need a literal horse to reach the farthest point within our own sight since our visual field, the light, the purity of experience, heaven is closer to us than the veins in our neck, and certainly our nose. Our sensations are not distant, and from this monistic point of view, which even Mach claimed he experienced (Mach, 1897, footnote p23), neither are the heavens, heaven, or the stars. This would explain why, "the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke, 17:21), and "the stars in the sky fell to earth" (Rev, 16:3), and why Nietzsche wrote "If you still experience the stars as something 'over you', you still don't have the eyes of a knower" (Nietzsche, 1885) This ellipse of light that Mach calls his "visual field" is pressed right up and into my face. I presume therefore that the Buraq is an enlightened, and in that sense horsey, state of our own mind.

The narrative continues
"Whenever he faced a mountain his hind legs would extend, and whenever he went downhill his front legs would extend. He had two wings on his thighs which lent strength to his legs."

First of all, if the Buraq were a literal horse then it would have four wings since horses have four legs. The Buraq seems to have four "legs," but only two thighs. Could this because it is in fact a human who has up to four legs: our arms and legs (as does the human in the riddle told to Oedipus) but only two thighs?

Why would this beast's hind and fore legs extend when going up and down hill respectively?

It occurs to me that the perceived length of our limbs when viewed from a first person perspective changes greatly depending upon our inclination posture and gait. When reclined (as if walking up a wall, or very steep mountain) we can see our own "hind legs" (our legs) stretching out in front of us as in Mach's famous self-portrait.
Ernst Mach's Self Portrait may be of Amaterasu's Mirror

I have attempted to capture our first person views when we are running uphil and downhill in the image below.
Riding the Buraq: First-Person walking up and down
As shown in the above image, when running uphill we tend to lean forwards into the hill striding fowards causing us to see more of our ("hind") legs which are otherwise fairly invisible in a standing position. This makes our ("hind") legs look longer. Our arms move to a more rearward position to counteract the forward position, pushing them out of sight as in the photo bottom left.

When running down hill we tend to lean back, making our ("hind") legs almost invisible whereas to avoid falling forwards we will bring forward our arms (or forelegs) putting them into our fist person perspective as in the photo bottom right.

I suggest therefore that this horse with four "legs" but only two thighs, is the first person perspective that we tend to forget.

Is the Buraq not also our "mother," under whose feet lies our Heaven, according to the Prophet? As I have been going on about elsewhere, it seems probable that our "I see I" fist person self may be possessed by a (m)Other beast which is what makes it difficult to see.

Googling again (Burak, Mother) I find here, wow! Bingo.

"The Buraq was a white horse with wings and the face of a woman! Clearly suggesting that the great power by which Muhammad was elevated to the level of supreme consciousness was ultimately feminine in nature! Some scholars say that the Buraq is an Islamic symbol of the Kundalini, a force that Eastern Yogis describe as the Goddess or Divine Mother."

I am still unable to explain what the wings are. They may just be a hint to tell us that "the horse" has only two thighs (two literal legs), or they may refer to the sense of strength that anyone in that state of mind would feel. No, I think that they refer to the way in which, in this state of mind, one feels no gravity, as Nietzsche, and Alex Hirsch say.

Finally, crossing the Buraq with Eckhart (see 12b), the Hindu Bindi and the beast refereed to by Alex Hirsch it may be possible to extend the metaphor to say, that this horse has just one eye, as related in the Disney animated children's program Tale of Two Stans. "When Gravity Falls and earth becomes sky fear the beast with just one eye."

I am seeing first person body views everywhere. Once you get a glimpse of the mistake, or sin, then Disney and mythical beasts make sense, to me. We are all riding the Buraq.

Having written the above I went out on my road bike contemplating a one-eyed Buraq with a Bindi and it occurred to me that this may the significance of the unicorn, which Professor Dawkins also ridiculed. I may be wrong but in any event, I think Dawkins is missing the point, and may be in for a nasty surprise.

Mach, E. (1897). Contributions to the Analysis of the Sensations. (C. M. Williams, Trans.). The Open court publishing company. Retrieved from
Nietzsche, Friedrich. Beyond good and evil. Lulu. com, 1885.

Should anyone wish that I cease and desist then please leave a comment or email me via the email link on

Posted by timtak at 06:46 PM | Comments (0)

Autism and avoiding the Apple: Autistic abjuration of original sin

Autism and avoiding the Apple: Autistic abjuration of original sin
Autistic children*, and perhaps adults, often wave their fingers in front of their eyes, and refer to themselves in the second and third person.

Happé lists "flicking their fingers rapidly in front of their eyes" ( Happé, 1995, p.19) as one of four characteristic "self-stimulation" stereotypies. Tomchek & Dunn found "visual inspection of hands or fingers" in 62% of autistic children under 6 years, the most prevalent behavioural marker, followed by arm-flapping at 52% (Tomchek & Dunn, 2007, p. 191). Numerous case studies note the same behaviour, "Jean would sit for hours staring at her fingers" (Chapman, 1957, p.622) and "[Don] wandered about smiling, making stereotyped movements with his fingers, crossing them about in the air" (Kanner, 1973: see Happé, 1995, p.7 ).

Pronominal reversal is another characteristic shared by many autistics* (Kanner, 1943). E.g. when Don, mentioned above, "nearly fell he said of himself 'You did not fall down.'" (Kanner, 1942, p. 220). Oshima-Takane, found that autistics typically use first person pronouns for the person that they are talking to, and second person pronouns to refer to themselves (Oshima-Takane, 1992).

These traits will be familiar to autistics, their parents, and any one that comes in contact with them. Bearing in mind the developmental significance of these traits, It has occurred to me autism may be related to the abjuration of "original sin".

What is "original sin" even mean? I am not a Christian but I think that the Biblical book of Genesis explains the developmental formation of the human self. Genesis is quite plain that God made adam (the human) male and female (mentioning this fact twice). Eve was then made as a companion for adam. If Eve was not the first woman, then what was she? I think that this "helpmeet" or later the "paraclete" that Jesus says he will become, is the intra-psychic other mentioned by various psychologists such as

Freud (1961) "Super ego" or "acoustic cap"
Lacan "(m)Other"
Adam Smith (1812) (a psychologist before he was an economist) "The impartial spectator"
Bakhtin (1986) "superaddressee"
Derrida (1985) "Ear of the Other"
Arimasa Mori (1999) "Third person" (provided by European but not Japanese language such that "I" means more than a "you for you" as it should do)
George Herbert Mead (1967) "generalised other"
Philippe Rochat (2009) "Others" (in mind)
Thomas Jefferson (1787) "Reason" (female)

The other in mind is theorised to be essential but little is said about it, and, for atheists at least, very difficult to perceive. It is natural and easy to think, "Who? There is only me here." Further, very little, outside of the Bible, is said about the origin of the other. Only Lacan (in obscure hints) and Rochat (2009) suggest that the "Other" we have in our mind is an earlier developmental stage of the self. What earlier stage?

Lewis & Brooks-Gunn (1979) argue that the first self is the self which we enjoy as we see ourselves wave our own hands:

"Gregory is also about 3 months old. Lately he has begun to coo loudly during those moments between waking and calling his mother by crying. One morning, Gregory's mother walks quietly into his bedroom and finds him awake, on his back, with his right hand extended above him and to the right; his head is turned towards his hand and he is watching his fingers move with considerable interest.

The proprioceptive feedback from the two events and actions (looking and moving one's hands and fingers) are both located in the same nervous system. This example differs markedly from the first since the child can operate on both events, rather than just one event, being external to the organism. The infant, having control of both actions can turn to look at the object or have the object move into the field of vision. This duality of subject and object must represent the beginning of the self as distinct from other." (Lewis & Brooks-Gunn, 1979, p.3.)

In babies this enjoyment of watching fingers move facillitates the formation of a first visio-proprioceptive, "I see myself move," or "I see I" self for short. The enjoyment of watching fingers move is shared by autistic children.

Rochat claims that this "I see I" self remains, and that the self has layers like an onion (Rochat, 2009). Neurotypical children and adults somehow manage to "identify" the earlier "I see I self with the objectified self as seen in mirrors or expressed in our self-narrative. Thinking that our reflection in the mirror is on this side of the mirror is a mistake. Our faces, names, and "I," are symbols for others. But neurotypical children make that mistake and grow up.

Why do we make this mistake? Freud claims that the two become one because we are ashamed of the relationship between our selves, and hide the more real one. I think that this is because as we are introduced to ourselves as object in mirrors, or our names, we enjoy these objects from the point of view of our mothers. That is to say we play "mummies and babies" in our minds, just as children play with dolls. This relationship that we have with ourselves becomes more and more self-serving, gooey, and eventually sexual, which is when it becomes *really grotesque*-- so much so that we can no longer see it-- and "sinful."

Autistic children refuse to take a bite of that apple, and waving their fingers in front of their eyes, and referring to themselves only in the third person, remind themselves that the I (see I) and the me are distinct. Sometimes autistic adolescents tragically self-abuse as in the above captured video. But if Freud is right about what is going on in neurotypical minds, perhaps autistic self-abuse is tame in comparison, and even redeeming. This video makes me cry, and sorry.

So, come out of the desert, and lead us to the promised land! This last sentence is right off the wall but, I am not autistic, and I do have a nasty relationship with myself, though I can't quite see it.

Above Image adapted from a screen-shot from the heartbreaking video Broken Nights and Lost Days: Inside World of Severe Autism, released with a Creative Commons licence. Should anyone wish that I use another image, please leave a comment or send an email to the email link at

* "autistics" and not "people with autism" since I herein argue that it is one identity of which the owner could, and should be proud.

Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. (C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Eds., V. W. McGee, Trans.) (Second Printing). University of Texas Press. Retrieved from
Chapman, A. H. (1957). Early infantile autism in identical twins: Report of a case. AMA Archives of Neurology & Psychiatry, 78(6), 621–623. Retrieved from
Derrida, J., & McDonald, C. (1985). The Ear of the Other: Otobiography, Transference, Translation: Texts and Discussions with Jacques Derrida. New York: Schocken Books.
Freud, S. (1961). The Ego and the Id. Standard Edition, 19: 12-66. London: Hogarth Press. Retrieved from
Happé, F. (1995). Autism: An Introduction to Psychological Theory. Harvard University Press. "Many Individuals with autism show motor stereotypies such as rocking, walking on tip-toes, hand-flapping, or flicking their fingers in front of their eyes." (p.19).
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Posted by timtak at 06:45 AM | Comments (0)

Japanese Psychotherapy for PTSD

Japanese Psychotherapy for PTSD
As war continues around the globe more and more veterans suffer from post traumatic stress disorder characterised by aggressiveness, nightmares, flashbacks, and feeling like one is under a spotlight in crowds (e.g. in this collection of testimonies - one can ignore the politics). One veteran characterised PTSD as generally not being able to get over certain painful images which affect ones perception of the present. If so then perhaps Japanese psychotherapeutic methods might be of some help.

Lacan argues that if we can’t express something to ourselves, because we have mixed emotions about it, or it is too shameful or painful, it returns as a symptom. So, he said, symptoms are expressions or signs. Many psychologists including Lacan tend to emphasize language, so his theory becomes “What we can’t think, i.e. say to ourselves, return as symptoms, and if we say the experiences, talk about the experiences, then we stop producing the symptoms. However, there are lots of therapies that are not about talking, and several of them are popular in Japan.

Morita Therapy
Morita therapy is a bit like becoming a hermit for a while. Morita was a psychotherapist who treated Japanese people with “social phobia”. Such people often become hermits. Rather than going against the flow, he confined his patients to their rooms. Then gradually as the patient got bored, he would give them tasks such as cleaning the corridor outside their room, or weeding the garden outside their window, and encouraged the patients to realize that in fact that want to reintegrate with society. With respect of other symptoms as well, rather than going against the flow, Morita encouraged patients to accept their symptoms -- trying to stop them makes them worse – and generally aim towards ‘a whatever will be will be’ (‘ari no mama’ in Japanese) mentality towards them and life in general.

Dohsa (movement) Therapy
Dohsa just means movement in Japanese. This therapy is defined consciously in opposition to talking cures. While many therapies proceed using words as the medium or vector between the client and the therapist, movement therapy uses movement, massage, and other bodily contact. I have a picture of people massaging the backs of people in crouched position, or getting into a sort of T-shape, with intertwined legs. Since this therapy is so non-verbal it is essentially difficult to describe. Books on Dohsa therapy contain little theory, but lists of positions and movements. I think that it may be difficult to get good Dohsa treatment outside of Japan since the therapist would also have had to have had bodily experience.

Tsubo (Pot or Potted) Image Therapy
Seiichi Tashima, a professor from Kyushu University developed this for his clients due to his in ability to use image therapy with them. Image therapy again uses not words but images, asking patients to visualize various images associated with their symptoms. Prof Tashima found that his patients would become too emotional if they did this, or they were too scared of the rush of emotions to do it. His solution was to create a controlled form of image therapy by the most direct of means. He first encouraged his patients to image a large pot with a lid – the lid being the important part. He would then encourage them to image that the pot contained certain positive images. Then the clients would practice experiencing those positive images by opening and closing the lid of the pot that they imagined in their mind. Once they had mastered this use of an imaginary pot to control images, he encouraged them to imagine another pot containing the problematic images. The clients are at first encouraged to open the lid only a little very briefly, just to take a glimpse, and then shut the imaginary lid firmly, and repeat this until they are sure that they can control the flow of images in this way. And then, alternating between positive and negative images, clients are encouraged to increase the amount of time that they can spend with the negative ones until, eventually, they are able to get into the pot with bad images, and just let them flow, like Morita therapy. Rather than a pot one might use anything with a lid or a door.

Sand Play Therapy
This was imported by perhaps the most famous post-war Japanese psychologist, Hayao Kawaii. He studied Japanese mythology from a Jungian perspective and claimed that Sand Play Therapy is Jungian, having been developed by a Swiss Jungian called Kaff who called it the sand play technique. Kawaii gave it a new name “boxed garden therapy” and it became very popular for treating children in Japan. In a box about 2 feet square children are encouraged to make a mythical world representing their own. Clients use lots of figures, trees, vehicles and the therapist just watches the client make this world. It is found that while at first the children may start by making an island in the garden surrounded by monsters, they one day add a bridge and give the monsters hats, or otherwise gradually create a new more peaceful garden. And all the while even though the therapist just watches, the children eventually express themselves to the extent that their symptoms go away. And of course, it is noted that the primary characteristic of sand play therapy, or boxed garden therapy, is its non-verbal, visual nature. Further, it occurs to me now that the “box” of the boxed garden may have a function similar to that of the pot in Potted Image Therapy – to confine the images within a physical and mental location so that the client can interact with them in controlled way. I can't image Veterans playing with toy monsters,or toy soldiers, but it is not inconceivable.

Osamu Kitayama’s Looking Together
Osamu Kitayama noted that images of women and children were a popular theme in pictures from the floating world, appearing when pornographic pictures were under strict censure. Sometimes the faces of the children resemble those of older men. The viewers of these mother and children pictures may have gained therefore some kind of libidinal pleasure from viewing them. Their prime characteristic is that mother and child are viewing something together. Generally the mother is holding up something, or pointing to something ephemeral, such as bubbles, cherry blossom, or something dangling by a string. In the above images by Harunobu Suzuki, the mother and child are watching a little bird or some fireflies in a cage. These ephemera are the quintessence of Buddhist impermanence - ‘the floating world. The child and mother are looking at this floating phenomena in wonder. As a result of his awareness of this genre of images, Kitayama moved towards attempting, rather than to talk about, to “see together” with his patients. I believe that Kitayama, his students, and their clients face the same direction and while using speech, do not attempt to rationalize but simply use speech it to call to mind images in both client and therapist. Kitayama referenced the cinema of Ozu, such as “Tokyo Story”, where family members have sparse conversations facing the same direction, seeming simply to share the same images, sunsets, and memories.

Naikan Introspective Therapy
Naikan therapy is rather like Freudian psychoanalysis in that it encourages clients to look over their past and restructure
their view of themselves as the world. It was developed from a Buddhist practice of “self-searching” where practitioners
would isolate themselves, and go over their lives, asking themselves whether, if they died now, they would go to heaven or hell.

Ishin Yoshimoto, the founder of Naikan therapy removed the Buddhist and supernatural elements, and gave clients aframework. They are to think about specific relationships (such as themselves and their mother, themselves and their spouse) over specific periods of time, and given three questions:
1)What did that person do for you
2)What did you do in return for that person
3)What aggravation did you cause for that person
Clients find that, especially in their childhood, they were in receipt of a lot of love, affection and hard work on the part of their care givers, and that they have done very little in return, but have rather caused a lot of aggravation. This is almost the complete opposite of Freudian therapy where clients are often encouraged to find trauma caused by care-givers (sometimes purely imagined, false memories). Naikan also differs from Freudian therapy in that all this process is carried out in the clients imagination. Clients confine themselves to a small space the size of a cupboard, and go through their lives from childhood to the present time a year or two at a time and imagine all these instances of kindness in images, reporting to the therapist for only 5 minutes in each hour. These reports are merely to ensure that that the client has not wavered from the task. The therapy itself is carried out by the clients. Clients generally find it difficult to call to mind the images at first, but as they learn to see themselves from the point of view of the people that loved them, the images come in waves. Clients generally cry in the realization of how much they have been loved. So while on the face of it, it can seem that Introspective therapy is very self-negating, it is conversely very positive because it is the realization of how much aggravation that one has caused that one realizes how much one has been loved.
This therapy is particularly useful in treating anti-social problems such as alcoholism (one of very few therapies to have any effect), drug addiction, and problem gambling.
Japanese people come out of a week sitting in a cupboard (or behind a Japanese screen) feeling really sunny, refreshed
and with a will to help everyone that has helped them.

Auto-Photographic Method
This therapy was influenced by my early research asking students to take 20 photographs expressing themselves. The Japanese are not good at expressing themselves verbally often mentioning others and their groups, but they are very positive and self-focused in their auto-photography. Japanese pose, stand up straight, and care about how they look. Mukoyama has her clients take photographs representing themselves, of the things that are important to them, and their issues, and looks at these photographs with her clients.

Returning to Lacan’s theory, it seems very possible that it is not only “things not said” that return as symptoms, but
also things that cannot be seen -- called to mind. And that in order to cure symptoms, both saying and seeing – or calling
to the minds eye - are effective ways of preventing or, rather encouraging, the return of the repressed, in a controlled way, with other people’s help. This sort of image therapy may ordinarily be more appropriate to Japanese but perhaps also for those who have been exposed to traumatic images.

Posted by timtak at 06:42 AM | Comments (0)

Double Dreams in the Floating World

Double Dreams in the Floating World
Laura Nenzi (2008, p189) uses the above image by way of conclusion to her excellent book on travel in Japan. She writes "But dreams and aspirations (collective and individual alike) are slippery subjects that more often than not hide between lines or amid icons alread dense with meaning. Difficult to verbalize, difficult to grasp, they are impossible tricky for the historian to recover with any sense of certainty. Leave it then to Isoda Koryuusai (1735-1790) to come to the rescue of the text-bound historian with a mesmerizing image that, in the limited space of one woodblock print (19.1cm x 25.4com), concisely summarizes what countless travelers (as well as the historian in question) have spilled rivers of ink attempting to articulate (Figure 14). Dreaming of Walking near Fuji (1770-1773) captures and freezes in time the hopes and desires of two characters from the floating world...What the dream of movement meant to these two is clear: liberation from the everyday. Out of the house, away from all that is predictable and commonplace, they have finally achieved that state of complete disengagement that is the prerequisite for re-creation.
As the juxtaposition of movement and immobility in this image suggests, motion is, in a sense, the antithesis of order: it displaces what ought to stay put; it frees what ought to be contained." (p 187-188. Image on page 189, emphasis mine.)

Bearing in mind her subject matter - Japanese travellers who go to see sights where there is nothing to see - this is a fabulous choice of image to close with. Prof Nenzi is on the money, but I wish she had spilt a little more ink, at least in the interrogative. Do "collective" dreams exist? Can we share our dreams like these dreamers, in some way, in any way? Why are these Japanese dreamers dreaming autoscopically (Masuda,Gonzalez, Kwan, Nisbett, 2008; Cohen and Gunz, 2002) each seeing the image of themselves in their own dream - the dream is doubly double? From whose perspective is the dream seen? Perhaps the most important question for a theory of travel is, have the dreamers seen mount Fuji? And the million dollar question, bearing in mind the genre of the artwork, when they wake up will the erstwhile dreamers then share the same picture of the floating world.?

To be honest I can't answer these questions for myself let alone the Japanese. But at least, I think that there is considerable cultural difference at least in degree, and that these differences help explain cultural differences in travel behaviour.

The position of these (as Nenzi notes) sexually ambiguous lovers, reminds me of the cover of "The Postcard." (Derrida, 1987) which I consider to have been self, or intra-psychologically addressed. It is also reminiscent of the many pictures of the floating world that Kitayama (2005) uses to illustrate the, he argues, psychologically important trope of "looking together." Furthermore, if the Japanese are capable of autoscopy even when awake ( as my research, Heine, et al., 2008, shows), the picture may be illustrative not only of Japanese travel behavior, but also of the Japanese self".

The Japanese are always dreaming that someone else is looking with them Kitayama (2005) and that what they see is in the world.

Image credits: Isoda Koryuusai, Dreaming of Walking near Fuji, 1770-1773. Woodblock print, ink and color on paper, 19.1 b 25.4cm. M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC (The Anne van Biema Collection, S2004.3.23)

Bibliography Created by Zotero
Cohen, D., & Gunz, A. (2002). As seen by the other...: perspectives on the self in the memories and emotional perceptions of Easterners and Westerners. Psychological Science, 13(1), 55–59. Retrieved from
Derrida, J. (1987). The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. (A. Bass, Trans.) (First ed.). University Of Chicago Press.
Heine, S. J., Takemoto, T., Moskalenko, S., Lasaleta, J., & Henrich, J. (2008). Mirrors in the head: Cultural variation in objective self-awareness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(7), 879–887.
Kitayama, O. 北山修. (2005). 共視論. 講談社.
Masuda, T., Gonzalez, R., Kwan, L., & Nisbett, R. E. (2008). Culture and aesthetic preference: comparing the attention to context of East Asians and Americans. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(9), 1260–1275.
Metzinger, T. (2009). The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self (1st ed.). Basic Books. (I have not read this but it sounded like Nishida and uses the word "autoscopy" so it is on my reading list)
Nenzi, L. N. D. (2008). Excursions in identity: travel and the intersection of place, gender, and status in Edo Japan. University of Hawaii Press.

Posted by timtak at 06:41 AM | Comments (0)

What Mary didn't Know, but the Japanese Tourist did

What Mary didn't Know, but the Japanese Tourist did
There is something about tourism, that remains to be explained. Taking into account direct, indirect and induced expenditure, tourism is responsible for almost 10% of the world economy and the creation of 255 million jobs (wttc, 2012). More than three quarters of trips were for the purpose of leisure. It is estimated that there will be one billion international arrivals in 2012 (UN WTO, 2012). One billion that averages to one in seven people alive in 2012 will take an international trip. What are all these people doing? There is a large body of psychological research that argues that humans prefer that with which they are familiar with, that which they thus understand (e.g. Heine, Proulx, & Vohs, 2006).

There are a number of theories of why tourists tour. The most famous four are perhaps those by Boorstin (1992), MacCannell (1976), Turner (Turner & Turner, 1995) (for a summary of these see Cohen, 1988), and Urry (2002). Culler's extended semiotic analysis (1988) of tourism is also well recommended.

Boorstin, in his book "The image: A guide to pseudo-events in America" (1992 [1961]), characterised the tourist as an inferior traveller, satisfied with "pseudo events" or in his word, images.

MacCannell's (1976) analysis positions the tourism as a religious (after Durkheim, 1965) activity that through the interpretation of signs (Barthes, 1972, 1977), allows the alienated (Marx, 1972) proletarian tourist to gain a picture of society as a whole, thanks to the presentational (Goffman,2002) activities of tourism providers. Rather than being happy with "pseudo-events", the tourist seeks authenticity. The apparent "pseudo event" status of the tourist experience is, MacCannel argues, merely an inevitable consequence of the structure of presentation and the sign, as Culler explains in more detail (1988).

Drawing upon a considerable oeuvre of anthropological research Turner (Turner and Turner, 1978) also sees the tourist as in search of a sense of wholeness, but in a less intellectual, more chaotic, ecstatic, "liminal" merging or communitas, as a result of the sacred or sacrelized images (a notion shared by MacCannel).

Urry (2002), turning back towards Boorstin while drawing on Turner, argues that authenticity is by no means an essential part of tourism. Tourism for Urry is "more playful" (p.11), and quoting Fiefer (1985) even allows for 'post-tourists' who are aware of the inauthentic nature of the sight, which is sometimes even virtual, but enjoy themselves anyway.

So, perhaps the most obvious controversy in tourism research is whether "authenticity" is required by tourists and if so in what sense? At one end of the extreme, one may wonder if someone watching a travel program on TV a (post) tourist? Surely not. But, when Urry's alienated telephone switchboard operator goes to see the Statue of Liberty, and sees in that sacralized site the meaning of her life, her work, and her society, in the support of the freedom there represented, does it matter that the statue in New York is a replica of then one in Paris? Would it matter if she were watching one of the many replica statues of liberty adorn Japanese "Love Hotels"(Cox, 2007, p224)? Or indeed if the receptionist were herself Japanese, or Russian in the Stalinist era, would her experience of that "freedom" still be authentic - teaching her by contrast the meaning of her arguably un-free life? Many of MacCannell's examples are of domestic US tourism, but as he points out that international tourism can teach us about ourselves through the comparisons we make between our own and other cultures, comparisons without which we would not be aware of our own culture at all.

Contra MacCannell however, we must at least accept Urry's assertion that in tourism, *kitsch abounds*.From Butlins, to Coney Island and on to Tokyo Disney Land (referred to as "rat" by some Japanese school children), tourist experience are often wallowing in kitsch, simulations, and "pseudo-events." And yet, even so, when a child sees Mickey, where-ever she sees Mickey, should we deny that some sort of experiential authenticity takes place? I will return to this point, but, first focus on the characteristic of tourism that the above theorists appear to share.

While there is some disagreement as to the "authenticity" of the tourist experience, all of these theorists stress the importance of the image and gaze. Tourism is sight-seeing, tourists go to gaze at images. The important praxis for tourists is above all to gaze.

But of course tourists do not only gaze. Far from it. As MacCannell and Culler point out, tourists are semiotics (Culler, 1988, p2.), theorists ((Van den Abbeele, 1980, reviewing MacCannell) or ethnologist (Culler, 1988, p11). Typically, they go to gaze at sights, the more unusual and out of their normal frame of reference the better, so long as they they are able to judge them authentic "That is Frenchiness,"(Culler, 1988, p2) "That is a Gondola," "It's Mickey!" Ethnography is a profession, but giving things, new things, names, is the one work that was required of Adam in the Garden of Eden before the fall. Tourists love to see new things, and yet, already know and say what they are. They go in search of these "translations" from sight as sign, to linguistic symbol or meaning.

Readers (not that I have any) that recognise the reference in my title will know where I am taking this but first, in order to gain a clearer picture of tourism, it will help to look at it from comparative perspective, from the gaze of the Japanese tourist. In order to introduce the Japanese tourist gaze, consider a type of tourism that most Western theorists consider to be exceptional.

MacCannell argues that for a sight to be sacralized markers (such as signs, maps, and viewing platforms) are set up, and at times these markers can become the central focus of the tourism destination. Likewise, Urry (2002, p13) citing Culler (1981, p139)
"Finally, there is the seeing of particular signs that indicate that a certain other object is indeed extraordinary, even though it does not seem to be so. A good example of such an object is moon rock which appears unremarkable. The attraction is not the object itself but the sign referring to it that marks it out as distinctive. Thus the marker becomes the distinctive sight (Culler,1981: 139). "

It is precisely these exceptions, that I think form the norm of Japanese tourism behaviour: Japanese tourists typically go to see "markers". Japanese tourism consists in is purest most characteristic form in the visiting and collection of markers.

Most Western tourism theorists agree that tourism is about seeing. People go to places to gaze (Urry, 2002) at images (Boorstin). Even the most semiotic of analyses (MacCannell, Culler) has (Western) tourists go to sites where they apply "markers" (guidebooks, signs, labels) to sights. Very occasionally MacCannell notes, such in the case of a piece of moonrock, the labels maybe of more interest than the sights themselves.

The Japanese have been going to see markers since time immemorial. The author of Japan most famous travellogue - The Narrow Road to the Deep North - went to see "Ruins of Identity" (Hudson) Matsuo Basho, places were once great things happened but where now there is no trace even of ruins, only the markers (such as a commemorative stone) remains. Basho wrote a poem and wept. This trope is continued in other Japanese travellogues, and tourism behaviour, which is often described as being "nostalgic".

This "nostalgia" is sometimes thought to be a reaction to Westernisation, but it has clearly been going on for a lot longer. The Japanese have been waxing lyrical about ruins, since the beginning of recorded time. This practice originates in Shinto. Shinto shrines and visiting them - the central praxis of the Shinto religion - are themselves ruins, markers to events that, supposedly, took place in the time of the gods.

The first Tourist attraction that Matsuo Basho visitied Muro no Yashima, is a shrine to the a god that gave birth to one of the (divine) emperial ancestors in a doorless room (Muro) which was on fire. It has since been traditional to use the word "smoke" (kemuri) in poems about that location.

The Japanese worship markers. In Japan the sign has fully present and evident corporeality.

I thought at first that the Japanese were going to names to provide the sights, the images. In these days of television, sight is as portable as information. While (as described below) Westerners are inclinded to believe in the spooky immateriality of the sign (used as they are to talking to themselves in the "silence" of their minds) so the thought of travelling to a sign is probably not very attractive. Signs are everywhere and no-where. Signs are within. We travel to see "it" that thing out there "with our own eyes".

But for the Japanese signs have to be transported. The first of these, the Mirror of the sungodess was transported from heaven, to be the marker of the most important deity. The imperial ancestors then distributed mirrors to the regional rulers and some of these were enshrined. Subsequently Japanese gods have been be stamping their namess on pieces of paper and being transported all around the country to be enshrined far and wide.

The Japanese do not travel for sights but for markers and since markers are portable, then one might think that it would be the Japanese that might stay at home. Why don't they set up a marker saying Paris and visit it instead? This is indeed what they do. As Hendry points out, throughout Japan there are markers to places abroad, Spanish towns, shakespeare's birthplace "more authentic than the original!" (Hendry's exclamation mark). If the marker has been transported, and the sights have been provided, then the Japanese are happy to visit that transported marker instead, or in preference to the original. "Foriegn villages" (gaikoku mura) have a tremendous history streatching back as far as their have been shrines but more recently, again, the first tourist attraction that Matsuo Basho visited, as well as being associated with the actions of the gods, was also "the shrine of seven islands." In the grounds of the Muro no Yashiam (Room of Seven Islands) shrine there are miniature version of eight other shrines all around the country (in those days abroad). In other words, Basho's first destination of call was a "foriegn village." Likewise as Vaporis elucidates the most popular site in the Tourism City which was Edo (the place which all feudal lords had to travell to, the place with the most famous sites and still today the most visited place in Japan: Tokto) was Rakan-ji a temple in which all of the 88 buddha statues of a famous pilgrimage were collected to gether. As if going to an international village, by going to that one temple, the Japanese were able to feel that they had completed a pilgrimage in the afternoon. The 88 stop pilgrimage has itself been copied into many smaller, piligrimages all around Japan, sometimes at a single temple, including at my village of Aio Futajima. In sort of nested copying, the copied 88 sites of the larger pilgrimage are themselves copied to one of the temples where again, one can complete the pilgrimage at one visit.

The Japanese are also fond of post-tourism via the use of guildebooks and maps, which are like super-minature "foreign villages."

Taking a deconstructive turn, I associate the Western practice of going to see sights, such as Frenchyness and proclaiming them Frenchy, with the ongoing efforts of Western philosophers to promote dualism (Derrida). Derrida argues that the dualisms for mind and body, or thinking matter and extendend matter, locutionary and illoluctionary acts, speech and writing, etc, are all designed to purify the habit of listening to oneself speak, to frame this habit as thinking. As other deconstructive criticism has argued, the creation of dualities does not only take place at the Philosophers' desk but also in pictorial art, literature, mythology (Brenkman) and society. If the philosophers are interesting it is because they give us clues of to the tactics by which dualities can be preserved. One of the most recent such tactics is that provided by Jackson in his papers regarding Mary in a black and white room.

Mary grows up in a black and white room. She sees the world through black and white monitors. She knows everything there is to know, physically, about the world except she has never seen colour. When she leaves here room and sees some red flowers, she is (we are persuaded) surprised. "Wow, so that is what red is." This demonstrates to somethat there is something non-physical about the world. Even if one has all the data, all the information, all the language about the world, there is something about the sights, the seeing, the images, that makes us go wow, and proves that the world is not only physical. This thought experiment persuades some of duality.

Tourists are all Mary. They go in search of Frenchiness and in a mass trancendental meditation, they see Frenchiness, the niagra falls, and are assued that there there is a world out there, and a private world in here.

But what of the Japanese? The seem to be going to see the marker, the sign saying "This is red." I had thought perhaps they they then provide the sight from their imagination to go with it. I.e. we go to sights to mark them, Japanese go to markers to site them. But this is not entirely the case. Yes, there is some "image provision" going on on the part of the tourists. Someone intending to visit the site of the famous duel between Miyamto Musashi and XYZ in the straits of Kanmon -another completely empty ruin of a tourist attraction - said that the the place brought up many images (omoi wo haseru). Someone taking a super miniature foreign village style-tour aroud a map of Edo said that just looking at the map brought back "the mental image of the Edo capital" (omokage wo shinobaseta).

But that is not what is going on in Japanese tourism as I found out this weekend. Before writing about Japanese tourism I thought it would be a good idea to do some, so I visited some of the J-Tourism style ruins in my local village and was powerfully impressed.

In the local town there is a ruin of an ancient governmental site from about 1200 years ago. All that remains is a field and some commemorative stones. There are benches lined up beneath the trees at one side of the site, in front of the empty field with some "markers" explaining what used to be in the field. Imaging the tourists rathe than the ancient town hall, I could not but laugh out loud.

In my village of Aio, there are ten tourist attractions, two of which are empty. One is to the early twentieth century European style Japanese painter Kobayashi Wasaku. There is a bust. Two commerotive stones and an empty area of tarmac. And finally and most movingly, close to our beach house, on the road on the way there is the site of the birthplace of one of the Choushu Five, Yamao Youzou a young revolutionary, who was sent to study in my hometown, London, towards the end of the nineteenth century. He studied engineering in London and Scotland and came back to Japan to lead the Westernization of its technology education, founding what is now the engineering department of the University of Tokyo. At the site of his birth place there is a large black stone upon which there is a poem.

There is a poem which goes something like
At the end of a long journey
Which is the heart
Is Japan

Nothing beside remains. Laughing at myself all the while, I had a Matsuo Basho momement and cried. It was not that I imagined the figure of Mr. Yamao but, as was suggested to the readers of a modern guide to Basho's work, he travelled all over Japan to the sites visited by the ancient so as too "commute with their hearts" (kokoro wo kayowaseru) and that we by visiting the same sites, or just reading the guide book can do the same through the filter of Basho. By the same logic, can you feel my heart in the above photo?

The attraction of the small hillock next to a stone surrounded by bamboo it was not the sights, or the marker, nor the tourists gaze (my gaze), but the gaze of Mr. Yamao who had also stood there well before setting off to London, and back to change the world. I felt I saw the world through Mr. Yamao's eyes.

Had I imagined things, then I might have attempted to keep up the dualism between name and vision. On the contrary however this desination seemed to have been designed to make me feel the gaze of another, together. I will have to use Kitayama Osamu's gazing together theory too.

Bibliography by Zotero
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Barthes, R. (1972). Mythologies. (A. Lavers, Trans.). Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Barthes, R. (1977). Elements of Semiology. Hill and Wang.
Cohen, E. (1988). Traditions in the qualitative sociology of tourism. Annals of tourism research, 15(1), 29–46.
Cox, R. (2007). The Culture of Copying in Japan: Critical and Historical Perspectives. Routledge.
Culler, J. D. (1988). The Semiotics of Tourism. Framing the sign. Univ. of Oklahoma Pr.
Durkheim, E. (2001). The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. New York: Free Press.
Feifer, M. (1987). Tourism in History: From Imperial Rome to the Present. Natl Book Network.
Goffman, E. (2002[1959]). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Garden City, NY.
Heine, S. J., Proulx, T., & Vohs, K. D. (2006). The meaning maintenance model: On the coherence of social motivations. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10(2), 88–110.
MacCannell, D. (1976). The tourist: A new theory of the leisure class. Univ of California Pr.
Marx, K. (1972[1844]). The marx-engels reader. WW Norton New York.
Turner, V., & Turner, E. (1995[1978]). Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture (0 ed.). Columbia University Press.
UN WTO. (2012). World Tourism Barometer: Volume 10. Advance Realease. Madrid: United Nations World Tourism Association. Retrieved from
Urry, J. (2002). The Tourist Gaze. SAGE.
Van den Abbeele, G. (1980). Sightseers: The tourist as theorist. Diacritics, 10.

Posted by timtak at 06:38 AM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2016

Eckhart in Mary: Mary in Eckhart and Rochat

Eckhart in Mary: Mary in Eckhart and Rochat

Mary holds Eckhart. Eckhart holds a book, of self-addressed postcards perhaps.

Quite a lot of the philosophy of Meister Eckhart is coextensive which that of other "spiritual" philosophies, particularly Buddhism.

The following quotes are from Meister Eckhart's Sermons that are available online in pdf.

Here are some of the quotes that I liked.
7 I am as sure as I live that nothing is so near to me as God. God is nearer to me than I am to myself. (The Quran We are closer to him than his jugular vein.)

7 God’s Kingdom is none other than God Himself. (Pure Land Buddhism)

8 Only he knows God who recognizes that all creatures are nothingness. (Buddhism)

8 If the soul is to know God it must forget itself and lose itself, for as long as it contemplates self, it can not contemplate God. When it has lost itself and everything in God, it finds itself again in God when it attains to the knowledge of Him, and it finds also everything which it had abandoned complete in God. If I am to know the highest good, and the everlasting Godhead, truly, I must know them as they are in themselves apart from creation. (Buddhism)

8 If I am to know real existence, I must know it as it is in itself, not as it is parcelled out in creatures. (Buddhism)

8 The whole Being of God is contained in God alone. The whole of humanity is not contained in one man, for one man is not all men. (Buddhism, and an extremely important point. I am not God, and the world is not inside me, but monster I and mythical me in He. Please see below.)

12 If my eye is to discern colour, it must itself be free from all colour. (Buddhism, 色即絶空)

12 The eye with which I see God is the same with which God seems me. My eye and God's eye is one, and one sight, and one knowledge and one love. (But one can get things caught in ones eyes or their rim. The biblical "mote" takes on a new meaning. This eye is also the Hindu Bindi and Bowie's and forehead make-up. Disney's, Alex Hirsch's beast mentioned by Fingleton, "When gravity falls and earth becomes sky, fear the beast with just one eye")

Eckhart is also prepared to hint about the problem we face and why we are not able to see that which is nearest to us in the following quotes that relate to Mary.

9 A certain woman said to Christ, “Blessed is the womb that bear Thee.” To which Christ answered, “Nay, rather blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it.” It is more worthy of God that He be born spiritually of every pure and virgin soul, than that He be born of Mary. Hereby we should understand that humanity is, so to speak, the Son of God born from all eternity.

Eckhart also writes (though not in the Sermons)
"What good is it to me that Mary gave birth to the Son of God fourteen hundred years ago, and I do not also give birth to the Son of God in my time and in my culture? We are all meant to be mothers of God. God is always needing to be born."

In the above two quotes Eckhart is claiming that some sort of "birth" is going on, and there is a tension in that while "birth" continues it needs to be even more pure than that of Jesus, of a "pure and virgin soul," rather than even of the purest woman. In the next hint-quote from Eckhart's sermons, the lack of purity may be elaborated. [My comments] are in bold.

14 The higher the degree of knowledge which the soul attains to in the light of grace, the darker seems to it the light of nature [the more you know, the more grotesque the nature of the soul seems to be]. If the soul would know the real truth it must examine itself, whether it has withdrawn from all things, whether it has lost itself, whether it loves God purely with His love and nothing of its own at the same time, so that it may not be separated from Him by anything, and whether God alone dwells in it [Who else might dwell in our soul?]. If it has lost itself, it is as when the Virgin Mary lost Christ. She sought Him for three days , and yet was sure that she would find Him. All the while Christ was in the highest class in the school of His Father, unconscious of His mother's seeking Him [Even Christ was unconscious it seems of being "sought by his mother." This is a pretty clear hint, I think, that the thing that is dwells in our soul, hidden, that we are unconscious of is a kind of mother]. Thus happens it to the noble soul which goes to God to school [sic], and learns there what God is in His essence, and what He is in the Trinity, and what He is in man, and what is most [un]acceptable to Him.

Buddhism seems to me to be very plausible. I have never seen even a colour. Even when I think I see red, I know that red is what people concur upon. Since I can't see what others can see, I can't can even see colours. I can only see these unnameable "qualia" which are something to me but not red. It still see a blooming buzzing nothingness. I only see a visual field. I have never seen even one "object." To see an object I would need to be able to see the cuts that would cut it out from my visual field, but that which allows me to cut things out of my visual field is agreement with others and not anything I have ever seen. I see only one blooming buzzing thing: a void. This is not to say that I have enlightenment at all, just that, yeah, if I saw purely, I would see just the empty thatness of it all, but no things and only 'forbidden colours'.

But what is it that structures my world. Why do I not see a thatness?

Henry James speaks of the "I" and the "me," consciousness and my self representations. The blooming buzzing former might be the Buddha, and the latter a mere representation of myself for others. But why do we equate the two? Why do we have a self? Why don't we see it as a sort of social joke. "Yeah, I know you think that is me, but I know it is just a you for you!"? It seems that I have lost sight of my I and, I am taken in by the me: I is someone else, and I think me is I!

We develop a pre-objective, 'first person' self based upon our self person body views (Rochat, 1998, 2009; see lalso Mc.Dermott, 1996 for representations). This proto-self is formed when we are less than about two years old. Our I (or eye) gets infected, at the very least by the pleasure of visual propriocentric power. We enjoy seeing ourselves move. Babies, like autistic children, wave their fingers in front of the eyes, and see our "inner" will move "outer" (Lovlie, 1992) things, fingers, feet, the light. This "ecological self" (Rochat, 1998) becomes a person.

We are then introduced first to objects and third person self-representations of ourselves.

We see objects with mother. We watch the objects and we watch mother, watching the objects, and we watch the objects again. We do this lots (Rochat 2009). We love watching with mother, feeling her gaze make even the most ephemeral floating things -- fireflies, fireworks and bubbles (Kitayama, 2005) -- become stable, extended in time.

Then we are introduced to self reflections in mirrors and learn to understand what is referred to by our own names. Used as we are to watching objects with mummy, we learn to watch our own self-representations as if from mother's eyes.

This situation is even more pleasant. We enjoy watching and hearing of ourselves either in mirrors (Japanese) or our narration (Westerners). We no longer only enjoy our power of movement, we enjoy a fake social relationship of cursed self with self. But unfortunately, this pleasant self objectifying fantasy, becomes at the same time so increasingly foul, that we become unable to see "her" nor what we are doing. "She" is our eyes, our semi-transparent noses, our brow, or our hands as seen from the first person perspective. She is the gate of our perception. And she loves the little mirror images, and names that we present to her.

This fascinating horror show that is created allows us to overcome or rather hide, the "me but not me dilemma" (Rochat, 2009, p.100) and become fully identified with our ant-like narrative or ant-like face, for getting that both are third-person representations of self. From the age of about four children call the face in the mirror "me" and "my face," rather than Timothy or Timothy's face (Povinelli, 2001, p.80). A complete "identification" becomes possible because the love relationship between our I and me is so both pleasant and monstrously unpleasant (masturbatory, intergenerational, and homoerotic) such that we hide it. Having a fake beast-mother, or "whore," staring out of our eye is the most un"acceptable" thing: so we plain flat do not accept it.

Changing Rimbaud slightly it seems "Je est une Autre." I think we may not be able to stop doing this, but we may be able to become aware of what we are doing. I think it is important that we become aware of our self love, because it enables us to be really nasty to others, and thus since we are the world, to ourselves.

Eckhart, J. (1909). Meister Eckhart’s sermons. (C. Field, Ed.). London: HR Allenson.
Løvlie, A.-L. (1982). The self, yours, mine, or ours?: a dialectic view. A Scandinavian University Press Publication.
McDermott, L. R. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275. Retrieved from
Rochat, P. (1998). Self-perception and action in infancy. Experimental Brain Research, 123(1–2), 102–109.
Povinelli, D. J. (2001). The self: Elevated in consciousness and extended in time.
Rochat, P. (2009). Others in mind: Social origins of self-consciousness. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from|lang_fr|lan...

Posted by timtak at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2016

Ecological, "I see I" Self

Rastafarians refer to themselves as "I and I" (Simpson, 1985). Lovlie (1982) argues that the self can only be apprehended dialectically as relationship between an inner and outer part of the self.

But this self-relationship does not necessarily imply objectification.

Infants from about 3 months and onwards spend a lot of time relating to themselves. They spend 20% of their time awake touching their mouths and face (Korner and Kraemer, see Rochat, 1998). By a very early age they differentiate between a "single touch" of self on object and a "double touch" of self on self (Rochat, & Hespos, 1997, see Rochat, 1998). Infants love kicking mobiles, and other things above their crib, enjoying their own ability to effect changes on the world. They watch themselves wave their arms and legs. By this means Lewis and Brooks-Gunn (1979) argue, infants gain their earliest sense of visio-proprioceptive self.

Rochat (1998) further argues that this earliest sense of self is, contra children's interest in mirror reflections from the age of of about 2, non objectified. The infants, like mini Rastapharians, "I see I move," not "I see me/myself move." Rochat argues that this first "ecological self" is non objectified from consideration of the results of the following experiment for example.

Infants of 3 to 5 months are shown closed circuit videos of their own legs wearing cute stripy socks, on a bed which makes noises (to encourage movement), on two television screens in front of them. On the right hand screen (in red) they are shown the ego-centric view that they are used to, and could see if they were to look down. On the left hand screen (in blue) they are shown closed circuit video images of their legs manipulated in various ways, as follows.

A: Their own legs from the point of view of an observer.
B: Their own legs from their own point of view but left right reversed.
C: Their legs from the point of view of an observer, left-right reversed.

Rochat examined the extent to which the infants enjoyed watching their own legs move in each of the two screens using another camera recording the direction of their gaze. The results (as represented schematically, non-quantitatively in the graph) show that the infants preferred the observers view in A. This might suggest that they are objectify themselves and enjoying seeing themselves from the point of view of an observer. However, the same preference for the non-ego view is demonstrated in B, where the infants are shown a view from their own view point left-right reversed. But on the contrary, the infants preference for the observer's view point disappears when that is left-right reversed, bring it back into line with the ego centric, first person view. Rochat argues that it is the novel reversal of visio-proprioception in A and B -- their leg movements are backwards vis a vis their will --- and not objectification that arouses infant interest, since objectified feet are not especially interesting if they move in the usual way. Rochat writes,

"What characterizes infants' self-exploration when, for example, they watch themselves kicking in front of a TV, is the direct experience of visual-proprioceptive correspondences, not the reflection that it might be themselves live on the screen. If they prefer to look at a spatially incongruent view of their legs, it is because is violates the familiar visual-proprioceptive calibration of the body. For infants to recognize that it is their own legs they look at would take an additional reflective step, a step towards an objectification of the self. " (Rochat, 1998, p.108)

Thusly infants develop what Philippe Rochat calls an "ecological self," or an "I-self," which has a visual aspect as a self-person body view, but is not objectified in that it is not seen as an other, and neither requires, nor suggest the internalisation of another's point of view. Prior to the economic self of Smith and Mead, the I-self is a purer enjoyment of embodiment. Then later, it is infants who have already developed an I-Self that then come to enjoy, and eventually identify with the self as me. The dialectic evolves and differentiates in at two stages. There may be subsequent stages (Lacan, 2002) as adults move between objectification in images and words.

My conclusion, however, is that, even after our enjoyment of and identification with objectified self representations, I believe (from consideration of mythology and David Bowie) the "ecological" (Rochat, 1998) "I see I self" remains. It is this ecological first person persona that motivates and allows us to think that we are the little people, "Ants", that we see in mirrors, and whisper to ourselves.

Image adapted from figures 1 and 2 in Rochat, 1998, p.102

I realise that I have Rochat's book "Others in Mind." Wow.

Lacan, J. (2002). The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience. In B. Fink (Trans.), Ecrits (pp. 75窶81). WW Norton & Company. (Original work published 1949)
Lewis, M., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (1979). Social Cognition and the Acquisition of Self. Boston, MA: Springer US. Retrieved from
Lテクvlie, A.-L. (1982). The self, yours, mine, or ours?: a dialectic view. A Scandinavian University Press Publication.
Mead, G. H. (1967). Mind, self, and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist (Vol. 1). The University of Chicago Press.
Rochat, P. (1998). Self-perception and action in infancy. Experimental Brain Research, 123(1窶2), 102窶109.
Simpson, G. E. (1985). Religion and justice: some reflections on the Rastafari movement. Phylon (1960-), 46(4), 286窶291. Retrieved from
Smith, A. (2002). Adam Smith: The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from (Original work published 1770)


Posted by timtak at 04:52 PM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2016

Nothing Could Keep Us Together: Bowie Pose in the Toilet

Nothing Could Keep Us Together: Bowie Pose in the Toilet
Weirdo taking selfie in toilet again. Bowie pose looking at little me and my far bigger first person fingers, each the size of my head.

After the cover art to "Tis a Pity She was a Whore,' and Bowie poses too numerous to mention most iconically on the cover of, 'Nothing could keep us together', Heroes.

Posted by timtak at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2016

The Fall of Flow and the Subaltern

The Fall of Flow and the Subaltern
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's concept of "flow" is such a beautiful concept: so Eastern, artistic, and anti-logocentric. People in a state of flow, such as rock climbers and orchestra composers, don't speak to themselves.

The Positive Psychology "Industry" claims, apocryphally or not, to originate in the attempt to avoid saying negative things to others, but it soon seems to have become a way of saying to oneself "you are beautiful," in the dark. RSES may also stand for Repulsive Sin in Extremis Scale.

In flow I thought at last American psychology had woken up. Americans were going to become happy but, somehow, this bright star was subverted by those that tell themselves they are happy. Flow seems to have become "flow," its opposite! Amazing?

Gayatri Spivak suggests that subaltern cannot speak, and that only the Western logocentric, rational, whispering can propogate itself? I think that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's concept of "flow" was both beyond the logodome, and yet spoken, and made ripples.

It is as if the lord of hell thought "Oh, no, my slaves may find that they have also a mirror soul, so I had better send someone to sort him out."

Posted by timtak at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

A World Without Love by Jeanette Leuers

A World Without Love by Jeanette Leuers
A better version of the now cleaned pictureof a witch , flanked by familiars, playing with little people on a drum. Painted by my mother, this picture was hung in the toilet in the home where I grew up. It took me a very long time to see how, as my mother said, it represented the world, without love.

While I can hardly see the witch, it now seems to me that this picture is a fairly accurate representation of the world in which I think I live in. I am the little person screaming with two heads at the end of the trumpet. The witch looks after me and everyone else, and all the names in history.

We don't usually see the witch except her nose, which we normally do not notice. she is hidden somehow in the beat of the drum. She keeps the logodome in place and the stars from falling. She is the mother mentioned by Jacob Boehme, and Lao Tsu the Tao in the Tao Te Ching. Her name was Eve, the original helpmeet and paraclete, but being made out of a side of man and woman, "she" may also be a hermaphrodite.

Nietzsche calls her "the spirit of gravity," Derrida "the ear," Freud an "acoustic cap" or "bonnet."Heraclitus's raging Sybil and Vygotski's "helper." Most fail to mention how big she is. She can be replaced with Amida or Jesus, or if you are really quiet, perhaps, with nothing at all.

Drums and their like appear in Shinto mythology, Amidism, and (as a certain sculptor points out) in front of and surrounding the god of thunder, Raijin. When Freud says that we wipe out our mystic writing pad, I get the feeling that is a beat of the drum. Drums in the deep! They're coming!

I shall also argue that it is an oil drum.

It seems to me that there is a lot of love going on in this image but perhaps none of the sort that Fantine dreamt of.

Posted by timtak at 05:54 PM | Comments (0)

The Dangers of Psychological Keynesianism: Self-Esteem and Qualitative Easing

The Dangers of Psychological Keynesianism: Self-Esteem and Qualitative Easing
Cultures mimic and repeat themselves at the microscopic and macroscopic levels. Case in point, the way in which Westerners, particularly recently, are inclined to attempt to increase their self-esteem prior to achieving anything so that they subsequently achieve, parallels the way in which the West, particularly America, and Europe but now also Japan are pump-priming their economies.

The self-esteem movement is a sort of psychological Keynesianism: stimulate the economy, stimulate yourself, and you may see positive results.

Mohammed Ali, one of the most famous psychological Keynesians, claims it worked for him. As a fast but relatively frail youth set to go into the ring against a slugger like Sonny Liston, there was no option but to engage in a bit, or a lot, of "self-enhancement" (b.s.) . I believe that Ali has said subsequently that had he not done this, he would have been too afraid to box effectively. Ego-pumped, to an almost ecstatic extent as he was Ali thrashed Liston twice. There is footage on YouTube and it is beautiful to watch. I am not an economist but it seems quite probable to me that both psychological and economic Keynesianism - self-stimulation - can work, get things going, out of psychological and economic depression, and defeat anxiety, too.

The three books the covers of which are shown above, however, draw attention to the dangers of pump-priming the ego. I like the way that Dawes points out that, sure, self-esteem correlates with positive life outcomes, but in the main this is because positive life outcomes result in high self-evaluations. Raising self-esteem, by just praising oneself, is a bit like switching effect for cause. Fortunately in the mind, and in the economy, money, goods, effort, achievement and self-evaluations swirl around in a loop. So, in both cases, temporarily at least, Keynesianism can work, but it is dangerous.

Dangers include the lack of moral hazard. As gold bug pundits, and these authors claim, the awareness of the ability to pump yourself or the economy up, results in an addiction to so doing. Why bother trying and/or competing at the macro or microscopic level when one can just tell oneself that that one is doing well, or print money?

The biggest problem though is probably the danger of inflation. Psychologically, the creation of a society in which everyone is pump-priming their ego to the point where everyone has to do it more and more just to remain afloat. It is a symptom, in my humble opinion of a diseased society when the only group of people who are realistic and honest in their self-evaluations are the clinically depressed (Taylor & Brown, 1988). In other words, if you do not qualitatively ease your ego now in the USA, you are shafted, literally into a mental institution or a life of taking SSRIs. It becomes impossible to be the only one in the room that is only "okay" when everyone else is feeling "Grreat!"

Another problem is the way in which self-esteem manipulations tend to involve "downwards comparison," (Wilis, 1981) and the denigration of outgroups (Yuki, 2003). To inflate ones ego to the highs required to succeed in the USA, I think you need to have some sub-groups to put down. When I was a British 'public' school boy it seemed to me that a major technique of maintaining that public school boy feeling of suave superiority was distinguishing ourselves from "the plebs." Recently, as I read white Americans blame US crime on blacks and Hispanics, I wonder whether social equality will ever be possible in a Keynesian cultural psychology.

This is strange. The self-esteem movement, like Keynesianism, claims to promote equality, since money and praise can be pumped towards those without. Whether this can be shown to apply economically or not I am not sure, but psychologically, the more the socially disadvantaged attempt to praise themselves out of their social situation , the more the egos of those with real advantages are pumped up still further. Self-esteem is - as perhaps is also social economic position - comparative, so there will inevitably be a logic of the form: "Look at that simple/fat guy telling himself that he is clever/ beautiful. I am therefore, in comparison, Einstein / a Greek God."

In addition to these inflationary effects, there is another aspect of psychological Keynesianism that depends upon the way that it is carried out. Westerners generally praise themselves linguistically and fill their minds with happy speak. As Westerners lift off into the clouds of linguistic self-enhancement, they still do at least attend to their speech, whereas other forms of self expression fall by the wayside, as depressingly realistic. Thus, in a verbally narcissistic society (originally a contradiction but) the vast majority are obese.

The Japanese on the other hand have tended to promote positive self views - everyone looks cute - but may have a touch of linguistic brain fat as a result. To correct this imbalance, perhaps the Japanese verbal self-esteem movement is not so bad after all. And likewise, perhaps Americans should all be equipped with mirrors, ideally in their heads (Heine, Takemoto, Moskalenko, Lasaleta, & Henrich, 2008), I say, engaging in that which I am inveighing against.

Ehrenreich, B. (2009). Bright-sided: How the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America. Macmillan.
Dawes, R. (1994). House of Cards. New York: Free Press. (Quoted by Heine. et al. 1999. Early critique of Self-Esteem movement, republished 2009)
Heine, S. J., Takemoto, T., Moskalenko, S., Lasaleta, J., & Henrich, J. (2008). Mirrors in the head: Cultural variation in objective self-awareness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(7), 879–887. Retrieved from
Twenge, J.M. W. Keith Campbell (2009) The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, Free Press.
Taylor, S. E., & Brown, J. D. (1988). Illusion and well-being: A social psychological perspective on mental health. Psychological Bulletin, 103(2), 193.
Wills, T. A. (1981). Downward comparison principles in social psychology. Psychological Bulletin, 90(2), 245. Retrieved from
Yuki, M. (2003). Intergroup comparison versus intragroup relationships: A cross-cultural examination of social identity theory in North American and East Asian cultural contexts. Social Psychology Quarterly, 166–183. Retrieved from

Posted by timtak at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)

The Gates of Hell

The Gates of Hell
Cross posted from Shinto Blog, perhaps
I wrote recently about the creation myth of Guam. To recap, it goes like this.

Human souls were all slaves in hell but due to a conflagration, one soul managed to escape to Guam where he made a human child out of softened rock and gave it a soul made of the sun. When the king of hell came looking for his lost soul he thought it must be that of the child and tried to bring him back down to hell, but hard as he tried, he couldn't take the child to hell, because its soul was made from the sun. Isn't that a beautiful story?

I wrote recently about the creation myth of Guam. To recap, it goes like this.

Human souls were all slaves in hell but due to a conflagration, one soul managed to escape to Guam where he made a human child out of softened rock and gave it a soul made of the sun. When the king of hell came looking for his lost soul he thought it must be that of the child and tried to bring him back down to hell, but hard as he tried, he couldn't take the child to hell, because its soul was made from the sun. Isn't that a beautiful story?

The creation myth of Guam is almost a paraphrase of that of the Japanese myth in the Kojiki where it relates that soul of the Japanese is also made from the sun -- the mirror of the sun -- and that the creator of this sun-mirror-soul went to hell - or the underworld - to meet a dead woman but came back.

Indeed, the deities and heroes of Japanese mythology are always going somewhere rather under-worldly. Susano'o visits the Sun Goddess who dies or hides in a cave with hellish consequences. Yamasachi Hiko goes down to the kingdom in the sea. But Japanese heroes always manage to come back. And their soul remains, according Heisig's reading of Nishida, self-seeing, visual, in the light, made of the sun. How did the Japanese achieve this?

Consider first the alternative. What is hell or "the underworld." Having at last worked out what Derrida means by "mourning," and what Freud was hinting at by his "acoustic cap," I now realize that hell is that which was nearest and dearest to me, and where in large part I live. Hell is a place where there are dead people. I generally don't see them, except once a long time ago, but I still I talk to them. I talk principally to a dead woman, a woman who was never really alive, or even a woman, in my head.

This is the essence of the narrative self. Mead calls it a Generalized other, Bakhtin a "super-addressee," (Bakhtin, 1986. p126) Freud the super ego, Lacan (m)other, Adam Smith "the impartial spectator" and I think that the Bible refers to it at first as "Eve." A dead woman to keep you company, for you to get to know, and have relations with. Hell indeed. (There is a Christian solution, that involves replacing the internal interlocutor, with another "of Adam" and, quite understandably, hating on sex.)

So how did the Japanese manage to avoid talking to the dead woman? There are various scenes in the mythology. Izanagi runs throwing down garments which change into food (this chase with dropped objects turning into things that slow down ones attacker is repeated all over the world. I have no idea what it means). And in the next myth cycle, as mentioned recently, the proto-Japanese get the woman to come out of her cave with a sexy dance, a laugh, a mirror and a some zizag pieces of paper to stop her going back in again. In this post I concentrate on the last two, shown in the images above.

The mirror was for the sun to look at her self. She became convinced it was her self and and it probably was all along. She told the Japanese to worship it as if it was her, which they had done ever since, eating her mirror every New Year, until quite recently.

The zigzag pieces of paper have two functions. One in purification rituals where I think they are used to soak up words since the woes of humans are in large part the names given to those woes (e.g. of the proliferation of mental illnesses). As blank pieces of paper are waved over Japanese heads a priest may also chant a prayer about how impurities were written onto little pieces of wood which are used to take all them back to the underworld where they belong.

The other use of zigzag strips is that they can also be used for all the sacred stamped pieces of paper which are used to symbolize identity in Japan, and to encourage the Japanese to realise that words are things in the world - not things that should be in your head. And until recently (Kim, 2002) the Japanese managed to keep the words out of their mirror soul.

But alas it seems to me that the Gates of Hell are opening and the children of the sun are in danger of being sucked back in. How might this be achieved?

The following is the beginning of a recent Japanese journal article (Iwanaga, Kashiwagi, Arayama, Fujioka & Hashimoto, 2013) in my translation (the original is appended below) which, intentionally or not, aims to import Western psychology into Japan.

"As typified by the way in which the phrase "dropouts" (ochikobore) was reported in Japanese newspapers and became a social problem initiated by the report from the national educational research association in 1971, the remaining years of the 1970's saw the symbolic emergence of a variety of educational problems. Thereafter there was an increase in problems such as juvenile delinquency (shounen hikou), school violence (kounaibouryoku), vandalism (kibutsuhason), academic slacking (taigaku), the 1980s saw the arrival of problems such as the increasingly atrocious nature of adolescent crimes including the murder of parents with a metal baseball bat (kinzokubatto ni yoru ryoushin satugaijiken) and the attack and murder of homeless people in Yokohama (furoushashuugekijiken), domestic violence, and bullying, and then in the 1990's the seriousness of educational problems such as the dramatic increase in delinquency (futoukou), dropping out of high school (koukou chuutai), and a series of murders by adolescents steadily increased. "(Iwanaga, Kashiwagi, Arayama, Fujioka & Hashimoto, 2013, p.101)

As you can see the writers are partially aware that all the "problems" that have plagued Japan since the 1970's are in part an "emblematic emergence," or impurities. While some of these problem have worsened in fact, many of them are simply the sort of thing that should be tractable to purification. The Japanese are not for instance assailed by an increase in adolescent crime which as Youro (2003) in his book "the Wall of Foolishness" points out, has decreased and become less violent post war in Japan.

The Japanese are assailed by a variety of emblems - names of problems - which nonetheless cause real suffering.

If it were only this plague of names of social ailments swarming out of hell, then I think that the Japanese would be
fairly safe. The problem is that the above paper, Japanese Education Department, and a great many Japanese clinical psychologists and educators, are offering the Japanese the infernal equivalent of the mirror: self-esteem, a dialogue with the dead woman that allows one to enjoy "mourning," telling oneself for instance, that one is beautiful as one stuffs one's face. The title of the paper (Iwanaga, Kashiwagi, Arayama, Fujioka & Hashimoto, 2013) is "Research on the Determining Factors of the Present State of Childrens' Self-esteem," in which the authors blame the lack of Japanese self-esteem -- the Japanese hardly sext themselves at all-- on the emergence of all the social ailments. What fiendish genius: the cause is being represented as a cure! The Japanese may indeed be dragged back in.

Note Opening paragraph of (Iwanaga, Kashiwagi, Arayama, Fujioka & Hashimoto, 2013) in the original

Iwanaga, S., Kashiwagi, T., Arayama, A., Fujioka Y., & Hashimoto, H. 岩永定, 柏木智子, 芝山明義, 藤岡泰子, & 橋本洋治. (2013). 子どもの自己肯定意識の実態とその規定要因に関する研究. Retrieved from reposit.lib.kumamoto-
Yourou T. 養老孟司. (2003). バカの壁. 新潮社. Retrieved from

Image bottom
お祓い串 by Una Pan, on Flickr

I have written before about the gates of hell opening in reference to the fact that the Japanese population is decreasing. That the population of Japan should increase, was predicted by Japanese mythology when the dead woman was trapped in the underworld. If the dead woman is the woman that is spoken to, the ego-massager of self-esteem, then perhaps the reason why Japanese no longer make babies all that much is because, the dead woman (super-ego, generalised other etc.) is out and about, and the Japanese are narrating themselves wonderful as well as seeing themselves as beautiful. In other words, self-esteem and its foundation - the cranial dead-fake-non-existent-woman (or Izanami?) - may be the cause of both self-esteem and the incentive to forgo making children. I have only found support for this notion in a paper (in Japanese, for reasons unknown) about the low birth rate in Korea
金泰憲, & 李允碩. (2007). 儒教の国・韓国の異変: 家族観の変化と少子化.

Google scholar tells me that the majority of Japanese psychologist, infected as they by Western psychology presume that high self esteem would lead to an increase in birth rate. It seems quite plausible to me that, on the contrary, self narration and self esteem (whispering to oneself that one is wonderful) may lead to a self reliance, independence, and the lack of a need for children. So, if Izanagi is the dead woman that one speaks to, Izanagi is out and about!

I can appreciate that sensible sane people, should they be reading, like my father and tedesco57, should think that I am off my rocker, but I have seen her. Much later, gradually, and for certain quite recently, I realise that really clever people, such as Freud and Derrida, are saying that the horror that I experienced (as explained here, here and here) is in fact quite ubiquitous. Westerners are narrating themselves into existence in front of the dead woman inside their heads to "mourn" or masturbate ("auto-affect) their loss.
Addendum (Big Mistake)
"My head" is inside my narrative and field of view, not the other way around! This is a very important point and the danger of the scientific worldview. The scientific world is a product of our narration as even some scientists a vow (Wheeler, Mach). Our head is also something we see in our field of view in mirrors, or our nose and brow directly. Our perceptions (including of our whispers) are not inside "me" or my body. To think so would be double death.

Posted by timtak at 05:20 PM | Comments (0)

Freud's Mistakes

Freud's Mistakes
I am not very clever and Freud is. That became even more apparent when I realised that Derrida's philosophy seems to be based on Freud. Derrida seems to be providing a Freudian reading, or psychoanalysis, of Husserl and other Western philosophers.

To recap Freud and Derrida assert that words in mind are temporised ("differed") rather than dual layered. We say something and then we react to our words. In that sense, even phonemes in mind are more like writing. Freud's "acoustic cap" is also referred to as a "hieroglyphic bonnet," and Freud illustrates it the process using a child's “Mystic Writing Pad” (short essay on line here) very much like Etcha-Sketch or the toy that my children play with shown above (a "sensei" or teacher, literally a "born before").

We say things and these things hang around in mind for long enough for them to have an impact upon us, then we wipe them out and say something else. Hence Derrida opines, in unnecessarily obscure terms, about "archi-writing." Writing Derrida says is not a record of phonemes (those super dual layered things that arrive in the mind loaded with ideas), but rather phonemes are a kind of writing, in the temporised radio play in the mind. The Phoneme-as-writing come first. Writing comes first.

But does it? I am persuaded that words in the mind are temporised between two roles in my mind that take it in turns. So writing is more original, primal, "archi" than the phonemes. But there is something about the order of the turns that I feel contains a trick.

Cutting to the chase, Freud's firsts mistake, is in my opinion, that he thought that words in mind are recalled memories of words heard, that act as a memo from the past to the future.

That all sounds very reasonable.

First of all, things called to mind are usually mental contents that we have had in the past. Images in mind are often recollections and rearrangements of images we have seen in the past. In the Mystic Writing Pad model, while words are no longer dual layered (phonemes and meanings) they bubble up from within. They are generated inside our minds, from memories of words, which are inside us.

This is his first mistake. Freud does not appear to have known, and I think only became first apparent with Vitgotsky's work holding people's tongues, that our thoughts as words come from the outside. We now know, as far as I am aware, that words in mind are generated by our speech. Thoughts are quiet speech. Thougts are *whisperings* of the burble that children first say to themselves out loud.

Lev Vitgotsky demonstrated this by holding people's tongues in some sort of vice and then had them do mathematics! Being unable to move ones tongue degrades mathematical performance. Subsequently, when electrical sensors became available that can record micro-movements, it was found that there are micro movements of the vocal cords accompanying thoughts, even accompanying the voices that schizophrenics hear.

NASA uses this fact to create 'thought controlled' robotics by placing sensors on the vocal cords that allow NASA scientists to hear thoughts which are "sub-vocal" words.

That Freud thought that thoughts are remembered words, rather than whispering, is not on the face of it a big mistake. The basic premise that we are having, and enjoying, a conversation with ourselves remains the same.

Secondly, what surely Freud could have no way of knowing was that external stimulations are retrojected: felt as if they occur earlier than they infact do occur. This is uncanny but true.

Benjamin Libet's experiments on Mind Time (see here and here) show the the internal/external distinction becomes extremely important. Libet found that
1) One can stimulate parts of the cortex of the brain so that one feels that one has been touched on the hand.
2) If one stimulates the hand at the same time as the cortex, the stimulation on the hand are felt to occur earlier than the stimulations on the brain.
The reason for this is, I believe it is argued, that it takes time for nerve impulses to arrive from from the fingers to the brain, so in order to get simultaneously occurring internal and external events to be felt to occur at the same time, external events are retrojected -- *sent back in time* -- by the brain, as it were.

So, knowing as I think we do now that words are not generated from within us, from memories, as Freud assumed, but they are rather generated external to mind, in the vocal cords, words as thoughts become far more like writing things on our skin.

And if aural simulations are, like simulation on the skin, are sent back in time in and by the brain, then rather than saying things and then reacting to them later - defferal, a memo - the order may be reversed: we may have and hear the thoughts in our heads that we have already, in a sense, reacted to.

Kanzi, the only non-human primate to have learnt to speak seems to have been doing something similar. When his mother left him feeling lonely, Kanzi signed things to himself and then did them. He started signing things he was going to do. He pressed a button for banana and then went to get one. As a cure for loneliness, Kanzi started predicting the past.

I think that there is a game mothers play with children in Japan, where mother's write something on the tummies of their children, something that they know the children will understand, and enjoy.

Related posts

The choice of music for the death scene in the World's Greatest Dad

I had said most of this in my earlier post about my dream but had made it a bit more clear what I meant by referencing Libet in that post.

I mean that Freud's mistake is almost everyone's mistake. We all think we think first, and move, react, weigh up our thoughts, by implication after they occur, but taking Libet's retro-placement of stimuli into account, this is not necessarily the case. If this is true it is damn strange!

I have no idea about whether Derrida asserted this or not. I think that the phrase Always already in Derrida seems to suggest a retro action, as does differance, as deferal. To defer something one needs to have it first.

Further, in the Post Card (9187), where Plato and Socrates on the front of the postcard may represent the sides of himself that are sending (or voicing) the postcards are reversed. Derrida wrote "Have you seen this card, the image on the back [dos] of this card? I stumbled across it yesterday, in the Bodleian (the famous Oxford library), I'll tell you about it. I stopped dead, with a feeling of hallucination (is he crazy or what? he has the names mixed up!) and of revelation at the same time, an apocalyptic revelation: Socrates writing, writing in front of Plato, I always knew it, it has remained like the negative of a photograph to be developed for twenty0five centuries -- in me of course. Sufficient to write it in broad daylight. The revelation is there." (Derrida, 1987, p.9)

And also there is the strange poetic narrative of Blanchot. Just before his epiphany Blanchot writes. "A few steps away from me, just at the corner of the street I was about to leave, a woman with a baby carriage had stopped, I could not see her very well, she was manoeuvring the carriage to get it through the outer door. At that moment a man whom I had not seen approaching went in through that door. He had already stepped across the sill when he moved backward and came out again. While he stood next to the door, the baby carriage, passing in front of him, lifted slightly to cross the sill, and the young woman, after raising her head to look at him, also disappeared inside." It is not clear why a guy going first, but then coming back to allow a baby then a woman to go first should precipitate enlightenment, but this is it.

In my own experience of minor psychosis (?) where the structure of myself became to me it seemed apparent there was a distortion of my time perception. I have since written that it seemed to me that a record of the past came to be experienced as a prediction, in a similar to way in which the words of the diary - "drums in the deep" - found in the the Mines of Mordor from Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, seem to immediately prefigure events in the future. Or conversely that a prediction of the future came to be felt to be a mirror of the present as described in the last lines of 100 Years of Solitude:

“He began to decipher the instant that he was living, deciphering it as he lived it, prophesying himself in the act of deciphering the last page of the parchments, as if he were looking into a speaking mirror...Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that [Macondo] would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment Aureliano . . . would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth."

The power of thought is undermined even more. This seems to me to relate to feminism or patriarchy. Freud sounds like a condescending man. His auditory cap as internalised, simulated listening mother is passive. She listens and has perhaps only the power of a gatekeeper, perhaps the wiping the Echa-Sketch, perhaps even in mid thought if it is too aggressive, or racey. But if in a sense we listen before we speak, and know how we'll react to our thoughts before we hear them, then the simulated listener is doing the talking.

The whole notion of "sending" ourselves messages, postcards, phonemes is undermined. I am saying above that using Libet's theory and assuming that "sub vocal" thought is treated in the same way as (self) touching, and that such stimuli are sent back in time by the brain, then the "sender" would get their message from the recipient. Perhaps this is why there is a pun in the title of "Envois" (the postcard correspondence collection in "The Postcard"), which I think means sent, or sending, but also puns on "en voice", by voice, vocally. There is no sending only imitation sending.

The above suggests that we "get" our message twice. We know (biblically, know) our message but send it to ourselves to know it again. Thought is like a beat, with all puns.

If we are already aware of our reaction to our thoughts before we say them, act of speaking becomes even more pornographic, or masturbatory. If there were no reversal of the arrow of time, then it could be like we are talking to ourselves in a loving but also exploratory way. But if we know how will react before we even talk, then are even more like a consumer of pornography. Someone who buys a pornographic magazine does not think "Hmm...How will I react to this," (though they might put on that front) but knows how they will react in advance, which is why they purchase the magazine.

In pornography, and its use, time is still a factor since otherwise porn purchasers would be happy with one magazine for their whole lives. Pornography consumers know what they want. They want something new that is predictable, or in that sense old. There is a confabulation between the new and the different that is similar to or the reverse of Derrida's insistence that there is no difference only deferral. In other words, perhaps, as I speak to myself in my mind it is not that I am saying anything new but simply finding different ways of titillating myself.

This relates to self tickling and the research that shows that temporal differance makes self-tickling possible.

Posted by timtak at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)

Dawkins is Sexy, in ways that he is Unaware

Dawkins is Sexy, in ways that he is Unaware
Image copyright Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. (I beg that the Foundation be so kind as to order that I cease and decist in the comments or via the email link at

In a Youtube video Richard Dawkins answered questions about evolution from Reddit users.

At 8:13"What are the three most important questions in biology?" He is asked and responds with questions, at least two of which biology is unlikely ever to answer, and are often considered the domain of religion

1) How does consciousness evolve and what is consciousness?
He has not a clue but religion is out the window. Does he even address the issue? Soul, self, mind, consciousness, and conscience are all right at the top of the religious agenda and yet biology has little to say. His friends Dan and Sam appear to explain conscience away, as a sort of mistake. Are they Buddhists? Do they labour under the mistake even as they denounce it? Doesn't that worry them? Dawkins has consciousness, but he does not know what it is, and he is going to die fairly soon. For his own sake and world's I would like him to take up this question rather than attempting to eradicate religion.

2) How did life itself evolve, what was the origin of the first self replicating molecule?
Again, he has no idea about origins, or rather apparent breaks in the continuum of the natural world but has ditched God as barbaric ignorance. Does evolution even explain the origin of the species, that is to say of discrete species in the plural?
The Abramaic religions appeal to the divine logos, the Buddhist claim it is a mistake (there are no divisions, the world is one and alive), and Shintoists think it has something to do with sex, which brings us to

3) Why do we have sex?
In view of the fact that consciousness is argued to be dependent upon otherness, and that sex may be the original discontinuity in the natural world, the answer to this question might be linked to the first two questions but for some reason the editors fade this question out. This is the one question biologists might be able to answer. But first, do we have sex? How many sexes? Is sex a continuum or discrete? Where do we have sex; is it a biological construct or a mental one?

Dawkins seems to disprove himself, or be unaware of how sexy he is, from about 8:43, in answer to the next question, where he demonstrates that different mammals share the same genes and form a family tree.

Like Dawkins, I see horses and cats, humans and rats as different. The Bible explains this difference: Adam and God named creatures and through the intervention or admixing of the Logos, presto the species have existed as different ever since. The species are different to me, and they are different to Dawkins who can kill rats but not humans (as we shall see, the important thing is not whether he can kill them or not). And yet Darwin is speechlesss in the face of this difference. Worse still, evolution (Dawkins at 8:46 in this video) demonstrates that there is no difference, there are no species, the species are all part of the same family. There is only a continua. What happened to it?

I see that this is called "Darwin's dilemma: Why do species exist?" Ha! Darwin wrote a book of 500 pages called "The Origin of the Species" and ends up asking "Why do species exist?!" In Darwin's words

"First, why, if species have descended from other species by fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion, instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined?"

This is the question to which the Bible would provide an answer.

The fact we experience the world in a discrete speciated way needs to be explained. The Biblical explanation may not satisfy everyone but it appears to be a theory that words have really got inside us, animate us; words have become living. Dawkins' friend Dennet even goes so far as to claim that we, our selves, are words, and not biology at all. How does biology explain this?

I see that recent biological debate on speciation identifies (or conflates) species with reproductive isolates. In other words, a species is different from another species if the members cannot or do not mate. It seems we live in a very sexual world where the boundaries are decided upon the possibility and actuality of sexual activity. First of all, does this really explain the perceived diversity? I see that there are morphologically similar flies that do not mate due to different behaviour. They look like they should be able to mate to us, but not to each other. Is the origin of the species in the mojo of their members? And that there are others where the males will mate with those from the "other species" but the females will not. Are these two species or one? Is it the mojo of the males that matters? Often in practice it would seem that female mojo is more important, since, for example, "male wolves take advantage of their greater size in order to mate with female coyotes, while female wolves and male coyotes do not mate," and we generally view wolves and coyotes as separate species. Species are separate if the ladies aren't turned on.

Do I fail therefore to see the original continua, the "blooming buzzing confusion," the light, because I have a dirty, female mind? This is beginning to sound like the Bible. Biology may be getting there -- to the explanation of the origin of the species -- but the direction it is heading is decidedly queer, in an auto-erotic, and weird to the point of being religious, way.

I see that many of his detractors charge Dawkins with being gay. I mean no disrespect but merely to draw his attention to the theory (Derrida, 1987, 1976) that we remain speciated -- viewing the world through the lense of language -- due to the fact that we are always sending ourselves, or a woman we simulate within ourselves love letters.

Derrida, J. (1987). The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and beyond (p. 218). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Derrida, J. (1976). Of Grammatology. 1967. Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 247-72.

Posted by timtak at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)

Extrojection and Burping the Bishop

Extrojection and Burping the Bishop
Philosophers ask why the lights are on at all: why aren't we zombies? Why aren't our brains dark?

Plants react to light due to the way in which light effects their stem cells. Light represses growth in the cells it hits and cells that are not hit by light grow more so that plants grow towards sources of light. Plants do not as far as I am aware have a place where they see, represent, project the light that hits them. The light just effects them.

Philosophers ask why the lights are on at all: why aren't we zombies? Why aren't our brains dark?

Plants react to light due to the way in which light effects their stem cells. Light represses growth in the cells it hits and cells that are not hit by light grow more so that plants grow towards sources of light. Plants do not as far as I am aware have a place where they see, represent, project the light that hits them. The light just effects them.

It is easy enough to make a robot that reacts to light using a photocell. It might move, or sound a buzzer when a light is shone upon it. But inside that simple robot, is there a place where the robot sees the light? That seems unlikely to me.

It is easy to imagine robotic, zombie humans that react, speak, interact and do all the things that humans do (future generations of Honda's Asimo say) but they would not have the lights on. They would simply react the light, not look at the light that they are reacting to.

Likewise one can make a robot that reacts to sound. Sony corp's robotic dog, Aibo, for instance may have wagged its robotic tail when called "Aibo." But there was no place, one presumes, where Aibo heard the qualia of the sounds that it was reacting to.

Why do we double up or double down? Why do we see the lights that we see, and hear the sounds that we hear? We seem to be fitted up to with a consciousness that allows us to react to stimuli twice. What extravagance. Zombies are much more economical.

Consciousness is extended in time and space. It is easy for me to see that it extended in space. I have a visual field. It is an oval without edges. My ability to imagine is largely, on a good day, coextensive with that oval. I can fill my visual field with perceptions by opening my eyes. I think perhaps I can fill it with imaginings when I am dream or my eyes are shut.

My consciousness also seems to have a finite duration. It has a temporal size. This is harder to prove. If I look at myself in a mirror concentrating on my left and then my right eye then I do not see the portion of time when my eyes are moving. With sounds I think I can hear chirp chirp, but not chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp consciousness has a temporal beat to it, an amount of time in which it is extended.

I have a face and I have a voice. Both of these things seem really like me. When I hear my voice, especially in my mind, but also recorded I think "that is me." When I see myself, especially when I imagine me but also in photos and mirrors I think that is me.

My imaginings of myself (as well as my reflections) are not me. My voice and what it represents is not me either.

But when I see myself or hear myself I feel that these things are me. Consciousness allows me to represent myself, to hear myself speak and to imagine how I look. I can call to mind both my voice and my face. I can exteriorise myself, extroject myself, in both these ways.

Even when I imagine any image, or call to mind any sounds, I am aware that those images and sounds are not the same as those perceived. I do not believe that perceptions that I imagine exist in the same way as those that I perceive. In the case of sounds I am aware that they were in the past. In the case of images I can imagine things that are happening now such as the back of my head. But I do not think the imaginations are as real perceptions. If consciousness provides a doubling then imagination seems to double that again.

When I exteriorise myself visually either by use of a mirror of my imagination, I am spatially exterior to myself. When I exteriorise myself using phonemes, my voice, I am exterior to myself in time. I watch from a space apart, distanced, from myself or listen from a time apart, delayed, from myself.

This may be the advantage of having consciousness.

The next most uncanny thing that I do is to see myself and hear myself from the point of view of not only myself but others.

Freud goes on about interiorising lost object-cathexeses as a work of mourning that which is lost; a way of giving up on things that we loved that are now gone. Mead talks about the interiorisation of other points of view and the formation of a generalised other. "Interiorisation" sounds rather complicated.

Lacan is the only person that I know that emphasises self alienation as the start of self. We find ourselves, or rather misrecognise ourselves, first in mirrors he says. But I don't think we need a mirror. The ability to imagine sounds that have past, or images from other spatial points of view allow us to exteriorise ourselves in the blink of an ear or eye.

The amazing thing about me, for me, is that I can do the exteriorising trick so easily. Subsequently interiorisation comes naturally. If that, that image that sound, is me, in another time, from another space, then someone else is watching listening or watching it. Consciousness is therefore be a way of making ourselves, individually, plural. By extrojecting ourselves we immediately know how we seem.

This fictitious plurality makes individuality, likewise fictitious, (im)possible.

But why? According to Freud and Derrida, it would seem that the purpose of identifying with dead self representations and internalising a simulation of ones mother is for the sake of "mourning" (getting over ones loss) by indulging in "primary narcissism," "auto-affection" or, not beating, about the bush, masturbation.

Both Freud and Derrida seemed to feel cagey and guilty about this state of affairs as might be expected. They kept going on about "mourning" and loss. I think they both were deliberately unclear. Derrida hid the central focus upon chocking the chicken, euphemistically termed "auto-affection," in his work. But I think that this 'archi-writing' is 'secondary-spanking', a verbal extension of Freud's "primary narcissism". Derrida believed it is "difficult to separate writing from onanism" (Derrida, 1998, p.165) 'Hearing oneself speak', as a form of writing or "trace" in the mind, an image of oneself in the past, is pretty much the same thing as looking in a mirror, except it does not require a mirrored surface.

In other words, I think that for Derrida the meaning of being is not time (Heidegger, 1996) -- time is the Western means of spanking, not the end -- nor veridical self-conception (Mead, 1967; Smith, 2002), nor will (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977) but self-knowing, as in burping the bishop. Being learnt how to touch itself and and love itself and became.

Further, on a reading of Cousins' recent work (Cousins, 2014) one can argue that this self-abusive existence would be evolutionary favoured since it would have internalised the principle of sexual evolution. Sentient beings continually "self -select". Being is sin.

One might also say being is love. When later Derrida writes of mourning, of people like Foucault and Marin (Derrida, Brault, & Naas, 1996) he recreates the dead within himself and converses with them what can only be described as a loving way.

Cousins, S. D. (2014). The semiotic coevolution of mind and culture. Culture & Psychology, 20(2), 160–191. Retrieved from
Derrida, J. (1998). Of grammatology. (G. C. Spivak, Trans.). JHU Press.
Derrida, J., Brault, P.-A., & Naas, M. (1996). By Force of Mourning. Critical Inquiry, 22(2), 171–192. Retrieved from
Heidegger, M. (1996). Being and time: A translation of Sein und Zeit. SUNY Press. Retrieved from|lang_fr|lan...
Mead, G. H. (1967). Mind, self, and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist (Vol. 1). The University of Chicago Press.
Nisbett, R. E., & Wilson, T. D. (1977). Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes. Psychological Review, 84(3), 231. Retrieved from
Smith, A. (2002). Adam Smith: The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Cambridge University Press.

Posted by timtak at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

The Origin of Derrida: Freud's Hieroglyphic Bonnet

The Origin of Derrida: Freud's Hieroglyphic Bonnet
Wow! The clouds part :-) And there was I thinking that I am either repressed-gay, or simply weird, when I realise that Freud and Derrida talk in riddles, and that everyone may even be up to the same as me, at least according to Freud, and Derrida's reading of Freud's "supplement," (!) regarding a "hieroglyphic bonnet"! Archi-Writing!

Freud writes (p 4716 online complete works)

Throughout history people have knocked their heads against the riddle of the nature of feminity [which he will say is in both men and women since humans are by nature bisexual] -

Heads in Hieroglyphic bonnets,
Heads in turbans and black birettas,
Heads in wigs and thousand other
Wretche, Sweating heads of humans...
(Heine, "The North Sea")

Nor will you have escaped worrying over this problem - those of you who are men.

This cap, refers to the "hearing cap" and "acoustic cap" mentioned in "The Ego and the Id" and Beyond the Pleasure Principle" respectively.

"We migh add perhaps, that the ego wears a 'cap of hearing' onone side only aswe learn from cerebral anatomy. It might be said to wear it awry. Loc 77336

"We might perhaps add that the ego sports an'acoustic cap', but on one side only, in line withthe evidenceof cerebral anatomy. It sits at a crooked angle, so to speak." Google Book

Where hearing is hearing speech, and speech a "memory-trace:" writing. Diagrams

I thought that Freud was just obscure but it seems he deliberately did not say what he knew but hinted at it. And Derrida, who seems to have read Freud and understood, and based whole avalanche of books upon a reading of Freud, also obfuscates the obfuscation. Indeed Derrida seems to says that we should obfuscate. And here is me, saying it straight, gay, auto-erotically, incestually, disgusting.

Perhaps it you say it "straight" you condemn yourself to hell. You enjoy the auto-affection of explaining the auto-affection. You thereby drive the arrow so deep into your heart that you loose all sense of shame and are damned. If so, I am already damned. I have always said it all. Perhaps you damn your listeners (assuming I have any other than my mothers)!

Tonight I will remain silent. I will have a think. There does not seem to be much point in attempting to go into the knitty gritty here.

Posted by timtak at 05:05 PM | Comments (0)

Dikonsutorakkushon and Travel

Dikonsutorakkushon and Travel
First of all, Western, Derridean deconstruction exposes a supposed difference, between phonemes in mind and co-present ideas -- a supposed sort-of-spatial difference between two types of stuff -- as that which it really is: a deferred, one-sided conversation between two personae. It reveals the fact that the supposed, vertical, hierarchical would-be-spatial, inanimate relationship between phoneme and idea, is really a horizontal, temporal, drama between two fictiional personae.

Deconstruction exposes, or attempts to expose, a horrifying (E.g. Psycho: Hitchcock, 1960; The Exorcist: Friedkin, 1973, horror of the voice) hidden temporal alternation between two narrative roles, which allow us to indulge in self-spoken, auto-affection in time.

Deconstruction explains how this sleight of hand is carried out. "This sleight of hand" needs a name, since it is far more common than its Derridean deconstructive exposure. "Construction" is not entirely appropriate, since philosophers hide what is already going on, rather than "construct" anything, but it will do.

Generally speaking -- that is to say other than Nietzsche, Derrida and their friends -- Western philosophers [word tricksters] hide the nasty auto-affection that is going on, by claiming that there is another realm, a metaphorically-spatially separate, co-temporally present intentionality (Husserl, 2001; Cousins, 2012) to the signs that float through our heads.

We are not posting signs in time to our alter-ego, but signs are made to ride through our minds like a double decker bus, transporting a ghostly top deck for our own perusal. Or we are claimed to roll out signs like a two layered 'liquorice allsort', with a layer of liquorice -- the phonemes -- and a fictive 'coconut cap'. We need the fictitious cap, or top deck of the bus, to explain why the bottom deck of the bus, or that nasty liquorice, is there, in our heads, at all.

In order to draw attention away from the phonetic, temporal experience of hearing oneself speak, Western philosophers either invent chimerical entities, or often appeal to the visual claiming that the words are accompanied by visions (Plato, 1928; Locke picture-ideas, see Hansen, 1993; Austin's illocutionary acts, 1962). Derrida calls this synchronous duality "presence".

[The (co)presence of something else when we think in language, an other, chimerical idea might be plausible when I think about the moon, a horses, or "home," but far less when I think of "think" "a" or "when." I am certainly not aware of ideas, or anything, that accompany my words. I am aware only of my words.]

In order persuade themselves and their readership that the ghostly top deck of the semiotic bus exists, Western philosophers often draw our attention to signs that are particularly limited, subsets of signs that appear to be strange, out of the ordinary, and extraordinarily ordinarily weak in their semiotic power. These signs (writing, speech acts, wine presses) lack the top deck of the bus. "But they are strange signs. Normal signs have a top deck", Western philosophers exclaim, and thereby posit the existence of chimerical ideas, or intentions, to justify the presence of the phoneme in mind, hiding a dirty little (big?) secret: that we are listening with daddy (Freud, 1923) or perhaps mother (Freud, 1964; Lacan) .

And in the lay act of construction par excellence -- tourism-- Western lay philosophers, the general populace, consider deformed words (Jackson's "red", Jackson, 1986; Culler's "Frenchness", Culler 1988) for which they have no veridical vision, and go a long way away in space, to an other place where they gaze and exclaim, "ah so that is the vision that goes with this word "They thereby assure themselves that there is a duality to the verbal sign and purify their self-speech. The gazes which are exteriorised are particularly verbal, archetypal, hence "red" (Jackson, ibid) and Frenchness and Italionicity (Culler, ibid).


Japanese Dikonsutorakkushon should expose a +supposed+ deferral or temporalisation, as what it is, a spatial difference between two personae: someone looking at Japanese selves. It should replace a a supposed would-be-horizontal temporal relationship, with what is really going on, a vertical spatial one.

Dikonsutorakkushon should expose, or attempt to expose, a hidden spatial splitting between two roles, which allows Japanese to indulge in horrifying (e.g. Ringu: Nakata, 1998) autoscopic auto-affection in space.

Dikonsutorakkushon should explain how this sleight of hand is carried out. Lets call it konsutorakkushon. Japanese artists [image tricksters] should also feel the need to hide what is going on.

Generally speaking Japanese artists should want to hide the nasty auto-affection that is going on by claiming that there is a temporality to the images that appear in their minds. "We are not showing them to our alter ego, but they appear in our our minds, in order to call up something else that comes up successively, in a temporal series, following the image". The images would be purported to be called to mind in a sort of association game. In order to draw attention away from the visual, spatial experience of seeing oneself imagine, Japanese artists either invent the material, or often appeal to the verbal, claiming that the images that they see and imagine allow them to call to mind words: succession ("presence" in time?).

So in order to persuade themselves and their viewers that there is some other reason for calling to mind images, they draw attention to images that are particularly limited, a subset of images that appear to be strange, out of the ordinary, out of the ordinarily weak, lacking in their visual expressiveness (these tricky images include, views of bonsai trees, Zen gravel gardens, and Japanese interiors as well as the images called to mind by the first two lines of three-lined haiku bpoems). These visions lack the supposed, subsequent association because they are indeterminate, often in size, since size information is not easily contained in images. "But these are strange images. Normal images demonstrate something real", so they thereby justify the presence of images in mind, hiding a dirty little (big?) secret: that *the Japanese are viewing with mummy* (Kitayama, 2014; 北山, 2005: see note 1).

And in the lay act of konsutorakkusonn par excellence, time-travel, Japanese lay artists consider visions, for which they have no veridical word and travel to the past to places such as Ise Shrine and various ruins where they receive something named, and there they feel "ah so that is the word that goes with this vision". They thereby prove that there is a unity to the visual image world. The words thus collected will be visual words, stamps and souvenir photos, superimposed.

Note 1: Osamu Kitayama's theory of "Viewing Together"(Kitayama, 2014; 北山, 2005) does not go so far as to suggest that adult Japanese are still viewing together with mummy, in their heads, but that "Viewing Together" is a common trope in Japanese artistic expression.

As I have written recently, the novelty of Derrida's (or my) viewpoint is that the "generalised other" is not "generalised" at all. We always imagine others, for our in-head-words. We speak very often to other people, that we are about to speak to, or want to speak to, when they are absent, silently in our heads. I speak to my friends that I send email to. I rehearse speaking to people that I will soon speak to. I complain to my wife.

The really strange, and Western-special thing that is going on is that we Westerners also speak to a non-second person other (Mori). The "generalised other" is not "generalised" or "impartial," but rather *hidden.* This "super-addressee" is someone that we do not admit that we are speaking to. The hiddenness of that other is what makes that other special, not its generality or impartiality. It is hidden because it is horrifying. All we need to be human, is to have an imaginary friend (like all our friends that we imagine speaking to), that we is so horrifyingly disgusting that we cannot admit that we have.

The "generality" of the other-in-mind, the "impartial-ness" "super ego-ness" the "super-adressee-ness" is nothing general, impartial, super-egoistical, or super, but rather so disgusting that we keep it hidden. The Other is just a someone that we can't admit to be speaking to. By virtue of this horrifying fact, the Other is hidden, and as a result of this hiding, it is de-personified. To have an Other, (someone hidden in your head) all you need is some one you do not, can not wish to admit to be talking to, or viewing with.

Austin, J. L., & Urmson, J. O. (1962). How to do Things with Words. The William James lectures delivered at Harvard University in 1955.[Edited by James O. Urmson.]. Clarendon Press.
Cousins, S. D. (2012). A semiotic approach to mind and culture. Culture & Psychology, 18(2), 149–166. doi:10.1177/1354067X11434834
Culler, J. D. (1988). The Semiotics of Tourism. In Framing the sign. Univ. of Oklahoma Pr.
Derrida, J. (1998). Of grammatology. (G. C. Spivak, Trans.). JHU Press.
Hansen, C. (1993). Chinese Ideographs and Western Ideas. The Journal of Asian Studies, 52(02), 373–399. doi:10.2307/2059652
Hitchcock, A. (1960). Psycho [motion picuture]. Universal Pictures.
Husserl, E. (2001). Logical Investigations Volume 1 (Revised Edition). London ; New York: Routledge.
Jackson, F. (1986). What Mary didn’t know. The Journal of Philosophy, 83(5), 291–295. Retrieved from
Nakata, H. (1998). Ringu (motion picture). Japan: Omega Project.
Plato, S. (1928). The Republic (Vol. 3). C. Scribner. Retrieved from

Image of Bus Double decker bus - London by budget travel accommodation, on Flickr
Image of Ghost: Clipartpanda
Image of Derrida and Liquorice Allsorts respective wikipedia pages

Posted by timtak at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

Image or Idol of the Buddha

Image or Idol of the Buddha
The people of the book, Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition have always had it in for idols for being human made rather than creating (but humans make words), lifeless as opposed to alive (like the word!), corruptible (unlike words, mispronounced?), merely similar (not identical like words). Nishida and his active self comes to the rescue.

Some anti-idol/image/matter quotes from early Christian writings.

Ecclesiastical History of the English People
Type Book
Author Bede
Translator L.C. Jane
Publisher Temple Classics
Date 731 [1903]
Date Added 2015/2/18 12:58:05
Modified 2015/2/18 13:02:49

17 offer sacrifice to these images of devils

49 they offered the same beasts which they were wont to offer, they should offer them to God, and not to idols

51 recovering the Roman commonwealth from the perverse worship of idols

51 suppress the worship of idols;

65 King Ethelbert and his nation from the worship of idols to
the faith of Christ

70 abjuring the worship of idols, and renouncing his unlawful marriage, he embraced the faith of Christ

75 he no longer worshipped idols

76 Word co-eternal w. God Earth = Slime!
the Supreme Majesty, which, by the word of his command,
made and created all things, the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, disposing the order by which they should subsist, hath, with the counsel of his co-eternal Word, and the unity of the Holy Spirit, formed man after his own likeness, out of the slime of the earth;

77 made by humans and fake, in similitude / likeness of something

77 abhorring idols and their worship,

77 break in pieces those which you have hitherto made your material gods.

77 idols made by own hand corruptible matter

"How great guilt they lie under, who adhere to the pernicious superstitions and worship of idolatry, appears by the examples of the perdition of those whom they worship. Wherefore it is said of them by the Psalmist, 'All the gods of the Gentiles are devils, but the Lord made the heavens.' And again, 'they have eyes and do not see, they have ears and do not hear, they have noses and do not smell, they have hands and do not feel, they have feet and do not walk. Therefore they are like those that confide in them.' For how can they have any power to yield assistance, that are made for you out of corruptible matter, by the hands of your inferiors and subjects, to wit, on whom you have by human art bestowed an inanimate similitude of members? Who, unless they be moved by you, will not be able to walk; but, like a stone fixed in one place, being so formed, and having no understanding, but absorbed in insensibility, have no power of doing harm or good. We cannot, therefore, upon mature deliberation, find out how you come to be so deceived as to follow and worship those gods, to whom you yourselves have given the likeness of a body.

77 the pernicious superstitions and worship of idolatry,
79 he still served abominable idols,
79 refrain from the worship of idols, and the deceits of temples and auguries
105 Eadbald, king of Kent, departed this life, and left his kingdom to his son Earconbert, which he most nobly governed twenty-four years and some months. He was the first of the English kings that of his supreme authority commanded the idols, throughout his whole kingdom,
to be forsaken and destroyed

132 Particularly Jews among Gentiles that hate idols

In which way it is necessary that all who come to the faith should forsake the idols which were invented by devils, that they might not give scandal to the Jews that were among the Gentiles.

idols do nothing set on fire

Coifi, hearing his words, cried out, "I have long since been sensible that there
was nothing in that which we worshipped; because the more diligently I sought after truth
in that worship, the less I found it. But now I freely confess, that such truth evidently
appears in this preaching as can confer on us the gifts of life, of salvation, and of eternal
happiness. For which reason I advise, O king, that we instantly abjure and set fire to those
temples and altars which we have consecrated without reaping any benefit from them." In
short, the king publicly gave his licence to Paulinus to preach the Gospel, and renouncing
idolatry, declared that he received the faith of Christ: and then he inquired of the high priest
who should first profane the altars and temples of their idols, with the enclosures that were
about them, he answered, "I; for who can more properly than myself destroy those things
which I worshipped through ignorance, for an example to all others, through the wisdom
which has been given me by the true God?" Then immediately, in contempt of his former
superstitions, he desired the king to furnish him with arms and a stallion; and mounting the


same, he set out to destroy the idols; for it was not lawful before for the high priest either to carry arms, or to ride on any but a mare. Having, therefore, girt a sword about him, with a spear in his hand, he mounted the king's stallion and proceeded to the idols. The multitude, beholding it, concluded he was distracted; but he lost no time, for as soon as he drew near the temple he profaned the same, casting into it the spear which he held; and rejoicing in
the knowledge of the worship of the true God, he commanded his companions to destroy the temple, with all its enclosures, by fire. This place where the idols were is still shown, not far from York, to the eastward, beyond the river Derwent, and is now called Godmundinghan, where the high priest, by the inspiration of the true God, profaned and destroyed the altars which he had himself consecrated.

17 idols = images of the devils

O from idols and images to worship of the CREATOR god
The History of the Franks
Type Book
Translator Lewis Thorpe
Author Gregory of Tours
Place London
Publisher Penguin Books
Date 1974
Library Catalog Google Scholar
Short Title Gregory of Tours
Date Added 2015/2/18 12:32:36
Modified 2015/2/18 13:00:05

"Now this people seems to have always been addicted to heathen worship, and they did not know God, but made themselves images of the woods and the waters, of birds and beasts and of the other elements as well. They were wont to worship these as God and to offer sacrifice to them." (Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, Book I.10)

195 Then I came to the territory of Treves and on the mountain where you are now built with my own hands
the dwelling you see. I found here an image of Diana which the unbelieving people worshipped as a god. I also built a column on which I stood in my bare feet with great pain. And when the winter had come as usual I was so nipped by the icy cold that the power of the cold often caused my toe-nails to fall off and frozen moisture hung from my beard like candles. For this country is said to have a very cold winter." And when I asked him urgently what food or drink he had and how he destroyed the images on the mountain, he said: "My food and drink were a little bread and vegetables and a small quantity of water. And when a multi- tude began to flock to me from the neighbouring villages I preached always that Diana was nothing, that her images and the worship which they thought it well to observe were nothing; and that the songs which they sang at their cups and wild debauches were disgraceful ; but it was right to offer the sacrifice of praise to all- powerful God who made heaven and earth. I often prayed that the Lord would deign to hurl down the image and free the people from this error. And the Lord's mercy turned the rustic mind to listen to my words and to follow the Lord, abandoning their idols. Then I gathered some of them together so that by their help I could hurl down the huge image which I could not budge with my own strength, for I had already broken the rest of the small images, which was an easier task. When many had gathered at this statue of Diana ropes were fastened and they began to pull but their toil could accomplish nothing. Then I hastened to the church and threw myself on the ground and weeping begged the divine mercy that the power of God should destroy that which human energy could not overturn. After praying I went out to the workmen and took hold of the rope, and as soon as I began to pull at once the image fell to the ground where I broke it with iron hammers and reduced it to dust.

261 There was there a heathen temple full of various articles of worship where the neighbouring barbarians used to make offerings and stuff themselves with food and drink until they vomited ; there also they worshipped images as god, and carved limbs in wood, each one the limb in which he had suffered pain. When the holy Gall heard of this, he hastened to the place with only one clerk when none of the benighted pagans was present, and set it on fire. And they saw the smoke of the fire rolling up to the sky and searched for the one who had set it, and found him and pursued him sword in hand.

Then of course there is Descartes divides himself into res cogitans, that which thinks, and res extensa that which is extended
"I possess a body with which I am very intimately conjoined, yet because, on the one side, I have a clear and distinct idea of myself inasmuch as I am only a thinking and unextended thing, and as, on the other, I possess a distinct idea of body, inasmuch as it is only an extended and
unthinking thing, it is certain that this I [that is to say, my soul by which I am what I am], is entirely and absolutely distinct from my body, and can exist without it.’" (Descartes Meditations on first philosophy)

Watsuji, Nishida and Derrida claim, and Nasa demonstrate on the contrary that idea's in mind are always accompanied by words, or phonemes in mind, so conversely, the place where these sensations take place -- that space, placer or living here called consciousness -- is that which one cannot live without (while awake at least) whereas one can be, and the Japanese are silent. One might claim that phonemes are in a separate (Buddhist) packet but I find that my sensations are all muddled up together and that as soon as I am conscious of one, the lights come on or the place unfolds, and I am at the very least conscious of the living here also.

Posted by timtak at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

The Stars are Falling

The Stars are Falling
Nietzshe wrote 'So long as you still see the stars as something "above you" you still lack the eye of the man of knowledge'

Aren't stars above us? Can stars fall? Or have they fallen already?!

I realise that there is a "stars are falling" meme. The "pink stars are falling" was a refrain in the popular drama "Under the Dome" (which has a surprisingly philosophical undercurrent I think).

There is a Japanese pop group called "The End of the World" lead by a singer who had a psychotic episode, who sings about stars falling (and himself being a fallen star).

I realise that there is a prediction that stars will fall in the book of Revelation 6:13 in the Bible. "and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind."

Isn't this all baloney?

I am fond of attempting to explain things-religious on armchair philosophical grounds. My answer is, no, stars can fall and they will. This is not baloney.

From the point of view of Ernst Mach (1987), the world is our sensations. See page 16 of his book Contribution to the Analysis of the Sensations where he draws his visual field. He claims that the visual field is the stuff of the world. He "regard(s) sensations as the elements of the world". And for him science explains our sensations. This sounds pretty sober to me.

I think that generally people are naive realists. We think that we see an external world "out there".

Upon reflection however, concerning the fact that sensations resemble dreams, that we can shut our eyes and still imagine our visual field, that we can poke our eyeballs and create doublings of "things" in the world, and consideration of colour blind people, then we start to believe in a "veil of perception".

We become Kantian. We believe that what are seeing are 'mere' sensations, and, scientists will generally agree with each other, that there is a world "out there," "the real world." Kant's "things in themselves" is the universe of the scientist.

But, as Nietzche pointed out, in sober Machian fashion, the real world is a chimera. The "real world" is no more no less than our explanation of, our words about, our sensations and is no more real, or rather less, than they are.

That the world is our sensations becomes all the more plausible when we learn that:

1) Nothing goes faster than light. Erm, why should an insignificant life form be able to sense the fastest thing in the world? Unless the world is our world, as Mach claims. Indeed it transpires that Einstein based his theory on Mach. Einstein was a Machian "solipsist".

2) The universe is elliptical, like our visual field (see the image above). No seriously. Recent science is arguing that the universe is elliptical. How could his be, otherwise.

3) The universe is flat! Seriously, recent science is showing that the universe is flat. Ha. Game set Mach.

Mach knew this all along. The "real world" is "the veil of perception", the sensations, and science is our spiel about our sensations.

But still, I admit that I do not see the world in that way. I can appreciate the claim that Mach is making. But it still looks to me as if the stars are out there, millions of light years away. To see them flat up on a plane with the ghostly semi-transparent giant noses that I see (but ignore) all the time is something that only psychotics and those having panic attacks see. We see the world wordified. We see the world through the lens of words, of narratives, of lay and scientific hypotheses.

If we did not do this, and saw our sensations as sensations, then in a sense the stars would fall. It seems quite plausible to me that people will one day, and now (that singer, a guy I know) people will see the world right up against their noses, flat and elliptical as it really is.

Other than "psychotics", it seems plausible that perhaps, perhaps, humans may have a tendency to stop en-wordifying the world immediately before they die, if their ability or interest in narration dies before their sense apparatus. If so many, most or all of us may get to see the stars, or at least the most distant things in our surroundings, falling, zoom, right down to our noses.

That stars can fall is quite a sober supposition but the mechanism keeping them up is much more arcane.

Why do the stars fall like "figs"? What veil could be hiding the proximity of the stars? (Yesss!)

19 Saying it straight, though I admit that leaving it cryptic is more potent. The 'veil' is that famous fig leaf.

God, the truth,"or "freedom" created adam, "man and woman he created them" (the Bible emphasises this point), and then he created Eve a "helper" (Generalised Other, super-addressee, impartial spectator etc) for those weeping, solitary humans. Then they, we, got to know her, by that I mean we got to have sexual relations with the monster, Eve, in our minds, but we are so utterly ashamed of that relationship that we hide it, behind a fig leaf veil. If you can face the horror, the sex with yourself, then the veil would fall. I did but I can not now. This sexting will out. American self esteem will reach levels where everyone is full on "Yes, I lurve myself" and people will see, become "psychotic", and the veil, and stars, will fall.

2) Wow. I see that science is really coming to the rescue of religion (or at least radical relativism).

As well as his sensationalism (saying that the stuff of the universe is sensations) Mach is famous for the "Mach Principle" which says in brief "the distant stars (!) effect things here". Wikipedia explains it like this

You are standing in a field looking at the stars. Your arms are resting freely at your side, and you see that the distant stars are not moving. Now start spinning. The stars are whirling around you and your arms are pulled away from your body. Why should your arms be pulled away when the stars are whirling? Why should they be dangling freely when the stars don't move?

Mach proposed that centrifugal forces are a kind of "star-suck".

Mach's principle was proposed, on a reading of Mach, by Einstein but for a long time no one could provide the maths. Recently however, the mathematics to explain how the stars could be pulling our arms out has been explained by

Khoury, J., & Parikh, M. (2006). Mach’s Holographic Principle. arXiv:hep-th/0612117. Retrieved from

Which is saying that the holographic principle, that the universe is two dimensional, is consistent with and explains the way in which 'distant stars' suck our arms out when we spin. Khoury and Parikh say that the star-suck is dependent not only on the mass of the stars but also on the boundary. From a sensationalist point of view, what is the "boundary"? The nose! Scary stuff!

Some comments on quora that Khoury and Parikh 2006 implies that everything is a little black hole. Or inside one.

I am reminded of Nietzsche's "Spirit of Gravity"

"I should believe only in a God who understood how to dance. And when I beheld my devil, I found him serious, thorough, profound, solemn: it was the Spirit of Gravity - through him all things are ruined. One does not kill by anger but by laughter. Come let us kill the Spirit of Gravity!" (Of reading and writing, Thus spake Zarathustra, 1883)

Addenda 2
A friend told me about the existence of whirling dervishes
They dress in frilly skirts (i.e. as women) and have a hat that symbolises a tomb or death a dead, undead.... Their Prophet, the Prophet, said "Heaven is under your mother's feet."

Aww...Why can't we see her?

My cup filith over with gratitude. I am having a great time. So, please come out! ha ha.

Posted by timtak at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

Climaticity Quote

Climaticity Quote
Cross post from
From the preface to Tetsuro Watsuji "Climaticity" (Fudo) (1979)

"I started thinking about environmenticity/climaticity (fudo) in the early summer of 1947 when I read Heidegger's "Being and Time." It seemed problematic to me that when time was used to grasp the structure of human existence, spatiality was not used as a fundamental structure of existence as well. Of course it is not as if spatiality does not show its face at all. It seems to me that attention to "livable nature" is resurfacing in the form of German romanticism. However, under in the strong light of attention to temporality, it seems a pale attention to nature indeed. That is where I saw the limits of the Heideggerian thesis. Any temporality belonging to spatiality is not a real temporality. The reason why Heidegger stopped at this juncture is because his Dasein is no more that the individual. He perceived human existence to be the existence of the person. But that is no more than simply the symbolic half of the social personal nature of the individual. Thus when human existence is understood in its concrete duality, temporality will be seen to be equivalent to spatiality. Further, not only will the historicity that receives short shrift in Heidigger become apparent, this historicity will be comprehended to be equivalent to climaticity. "

Heidegger seems to have taken Descartes' "I think therefore I am" as starting point. Descartes argued that "res extensa", the spatial, this world that we see, can be doubted; it is a realm of fleeting uncertainty. But the thought, in language, that emerges from that morass of extended images exists. It is. Heidegger asked of the nature of this emergent existent and concluded afaik, the "meaning of being is time". Western, narrative entities, subsequently abstractions or fictions, are made of and in time.

Watsuji argued that there is another side to humans - not only their self speech - and that rather, the time of the narrative is merely the historicity or movement of nature: everything can be subsumed to space in motion. He did not feel trapped at all. From Watsuji's point of view, and I would have to agree, it is the *space* in which even language emerges that cannot be doubted, that is the living here (rather than Husserls "living present"). All our words, after all could be gobbledigook that we feel are meaningful, but it is not possible to be a "philosophical zombie" without this living here, and yet feel that the light is on because to feel the light is to imagine it, and to imagine it, it must be, it is here.

和辻哲郎. (1979). 風土―人間学的考察. 岩波書店.

Posted by timtak at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)

Inanimate Evolution: Mountains and Rocks

Inanimate Evolution: Mountains and Rocks
The conditions for evolution are, according to Darwin, "descent with modification" (Darwin, 1859 see Cousins, 2014, p.202) Lifeforms change as they are reproduced and the more adaptive modifications become more populous. This principle has been extended to chemicals, (Pross, 2011) such as single, chemical RNA molecules.

However, Darwin who was originally a geologist, " in a now famous letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker written in March 1863, Darwin wrote: " is mere rubbish thinking at present of origin of life; one might as well think of origin of matter" [9]" (Pross, 2011). What did Darwin mean?

It seems to me that decent in the sense of replication is not necessary. Inanimate, proto-evolution is also possible and occurring now. Certainly it is replicative evolution that we see in animals, and in the chemical evolution discussed by Pross (2011). But a principle like evolution is at work at a deeper level in hard matter, such as mountains and rocks, or even as the basis for the formation of all entities in space-time.

Space time, or our sensations of it, are in a constant flux. Clouds form and blow away, animals breed and die, and mountains rise and are weathered to dust. Nonetheless we consider that there are animate and inanimate entities: species and things. In the animal world we recognised species that have adapted to their environment and do not notice the mutations that disappear as soon as they are born or last one generation. Species, and all entities descend in the sense of being "derived from something remote in time, especially through continuous transmission"; entities are that which persist.

While inanimate matter does persist in the same way, we recognise in it entities that persist. Inanimate RNA repeats itself, but a mountain is there the next day. An igneous mountain was once a flow of lava, changing second by second, which even if we had seen it would have appeared to be in flux, indistinguishable from the lava around it. Arriving out of the ground some of that lava may have exploded as dust washed away by streams. Some lava harden into rock formations that eroded and disappeared, but others solidified into into a massive lump, forming a mountain, which 'descends' through time and persists long enough to be felt to be an entity to exist, and be named.

Some of the lava washed away in streams out to sea, drifting like lava at one with its environment. Other dust mingled with the dust of weathered mountains at the base of rivers and was compacted to become sedimentary rock, which once again persists long enough for be noticed and even carried to the top of a mountain. (There was a pile of rocks possibly of various types on top of the mountain where I was standing supporting the mountain name post, pictured right )

The lava, the dust, are all being modified. Sometimes these modifications persist long enough to become an entity. Animate descent, as replication, is not a condition of evolution. All that is needed is "descent" in general through time.

Space time our sensations has non-dual, and yet dual aspect, it is advaita, not one. The sensible world is extended and it changes. The extended can not be separated from the change (as things in themselves?) nor the change (as "time"?) be separated from the extended. But we do see things in the world, which are spaces which "descend" or persist through and with modification.

However, I think that perhaps this "inanimate evolution," of this persistent kind, draws attention to the possibility that the way in which evolution in general "creates," species or things, involves the interaction of a spectator. Mountains are in no absolute way any different from lava. They are flowing, just more slowly. Wolves and coyotes are not essentially different from each other either, sometimes they even mate. Evolution is the process by which things change and persist, or "descend with modification", for long enough and or in enough numbers, as to be seen, named, and noticed. It is perhaps therefore, the seeing and naming that does the hard act of creation - Oh no! - or at least they do it together.

So, does this mean that there is creation in nature, absent of a spectator? On first blush it would seem so. Nature throws up, vomits forth, persistence and change, and those things that are persistent (descendant through time) might seem to be "created."

Various observers may deem various "descending," unchanging things as entities. A botanist may notice areas of deciduous trees in the image above left. A meteorologist might notice the altocumulus clouds. Thus a specators may apply various narratives to the natural environment. Since Heraclitus, through Yahew and Bloor, it may seem as if the persisent is noticable to the logos, and it is only the logos that creates; that which persists can be named and exists.

Contra this logocentrism, Latour argues that no, there is stability within nature, it is not only the word that creates entities. Nature contains persistants, entities which descend through time, so nature is doing the creation, the stabilization also.

It seems to me that there is no creation in nature but there are two types of creation as spectation; two types of spectator. Persistence is perhaps a condition of nameability, but spectators do not always name. Entitivity is not always the result of nameability.

Mach, genius that he was, starts by pointing out that in large part things are deemed to be entites due to the fact that they are associated with words. But he then also goes on to say, calling our attention to ancient and childhood art, that the visual apparatus sees entities even prior to naming. He points out that ancient art, and the drawings of children finds re-representables, faces, noses, feet, in nature and represents them from iconic perspectives. Feet and noses in Egyptian art are shown from the side, torsoes are shown from the front. Similar iconicity is found in the art of Aztecs and children. Mach points out that not only words, the logos, but also visual apparatus creates entities.

Given that vision, as well as words, create entites too, visual perception also creates entitivity out of randoms non persistent sights. To Yaweh, Adam or any other namer, a view has entities by virtue of having regularity. But to a bird of prey, a bamboo forest, with all its regularity, its lines, is a distraction to its attempt to catch vermin, whereas a random barren heath, or rocky beach, discloses the movements of edibles. The randomness of an area of land can be more visually 'noticable' -- a good place to prey -- as any with regularity. A city, with all its regularity, can be less beautiful, less noticable than a field, which is beautiful if unameably so, not inspite of but because of all its randomness. A lack of persistence can be a element of visual entitivity.

Thus, while nature presents descedants/persitance, that is noticable to namers and scientist, it also presents randomness and change that may be beautiful to viewers and artists.

Nature as evolution, that "blooming and buzzing" thing, with modification and persistance and creates nothing at all.

Consider a Jackson Pollock painting. Pollock splashed paint randomly. But that randomness was not his art. During all that splashing he looked and liked, and then, when he liked then he created. His creation occured when he looked and liked certain visual things, visual things that are utterly unamable.

Nature unfolds with various degrees of regularity and randomness. Created entities are in the eye and ear, or dscussion, of the beholders.

Cousins, S. D. (2014). The semiotic coevolution of mind and culture. Culture & Psychology, 20(2), 160–191. Retrieved from
Pross, A. (2011). Toward a general theory of evolution: extending Darwinian theory to inanimate matter. J. Syst. Chem, 2(1), 1-1.

Posted by timtak at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

Reciprocal Resurrection of Simulacra

Reciprocal Resurrection of Simulacra
This essay explores the intersection between Derrida's Post Card (1987), and Baudrillard's simulacra (1995) in Western and Japanese culture: word/idea pairs and images respectively.

Most Western philosophers are unintentionally obfuscating. They want to tell their readers that it is okay, That the way we understand the world is not a grotesque lie. A few, largerly French philosophers such as Baudrillard (1995) and Derrida (1987, 1998, 2011) attempt to pull the lie apart, to expose its untruth. But, because they are polite and the lie ingrained, they is not quite persuasive enough. Obfuscators take the mickey out of their "Parisian logic" (Mulligan, 1991).

In order to see oneself it is self-evident that one has to model the perspective of an other and or mirror. However, when talking about oneself to oneself, this need for another, real or simulated, is not apparent. Many clever people (I am thinking of Steven Heine e.g. in Heine, 2003) claim that face, or image is essentially for others whereas language, (that most social of media!) and our Western narratives selves are for ourselves.

Indeed, most Westerners think, that when they think they are thinking, talking simply to themselves (and not to Mel Gibson's Satan, above right). Seeing oneself requires a spatial distance that makes the alterity of self-observer far more apparent. But speaking, hearing oneself speak, does not seem necessarily to involve anyone else, real or imagined, at all. Derrida rejects this possibility forcefully (Garver, 1973).

The truth in my humble opinion, and experience is, that as Derrida argues, speaking to oneself does require an other, simulated or real. But few people, or atheists at least, seem to realise this. How can I convince folks of the truth, that self-narrative requires an other to be meaningful?

Derrida's gambit is something on the lines of the following.

When I talk about myself I use signs, signs like "Tim" and "I". Each time I say or think a sign I may be slurred or abbreviate but for the phoneme to mean, it needs to be one of a group of other iterations of the same sign. Signs are iterative. I can say Tim TIM Tm, tem, timu, timm, with all sorts of slurings and blurrings but for "tim" to mean me it must be member of the set of signs that are iterable. It must be one of the sayings of "Tim." "Tim" as a sign is a sign by virtue of the fact that it is recognisable and distinguishable from tin (can).

Therefore, Derrida opines, since signs have this property in themselves of being repeatable and recognisable their use implies a distance or disappearance of the subject that uses them. Derrida fundamental insight is I think that this iterability implies speech is no different from writing.

Mulligan (1998) is right to point out that it is going to be difficult to convince anyone that the iterability of signs implies anything threatening about the Western self. Conversely, the fact that signs are iterable (repeatable in time) is a phenomena that obfuscating philosophers have used as evidence for the existence of "presence:" the co-temporal, co-presence of "ideas".

That signs are essentially "iterable" is a proposition that Derrida gets from Husserl who he paraphrases in the following way.

"When in fact I effectively use words, and whether or not I do it for communicative ends (let us consider signs in general, prior to this distinction), I must from the outset operate (within) a structure of repetition.... A sign is never an event, if by event we mean an irreplaceable empirical particular. A sign which would take place but “once” would not be a sign; a purely idiomatic sign would not be a sign. A signifier (in general) must be formally recognizable in spite of, and through, the diversity of empirical characteristics which may modify it. It must remain the same, and be able to be repeated as such, despite and across the deformations which the empirical event necessarily makes it undergo. A phoneme or grapheme is necessarily always to some extent different each time that it is presented in an Operation or perception. But, it can function as a sign, and in general as language only if a formal identity enables it to be issued again and to be recognized. (Derrida, 1967, p55―56; Derrida, 2001, p.42 see Mulligan, 1992, p.5.)

Derrida also states more pithily “a sign which would take place but `once’ would not be a sign”

Hansen (1993) traces this distinction too, between sign tokens or instantiations and signs, and points out Western philosophers since Plato and Aristotle have claimed that (Aristotle writes, see Hansen, 1993) "spoken sounds are symbols of affections in the soul, and written marks symbols of the spoken sounds. And just as written marks are not the same for all men, neither are spoken sounds. But what these are in the first place signs of-affections in the soul-are the same for all; and what these affections are likenesses of - actual things - are also the same."

This is basically the same argument as presented by Plato about 2000 years earlier. Our feeling of their being identity in difference, of a unity, despite multiple instantiations, demonstrates to us that there must be existences underpinning them. Words are somehow the same every time we use them. This is not true, but we feel it strongly.

I think it is possible to be far more persuasive, and threatening, by taking a detour through Japanese culture. The use of Japanese culture as an analogy is similar to writing a book of self addressed postcards (Derrida, 1987) to illustrate the weirdness of self-addressed speech, except that the Japanese, unlike the postcard writer of Derrida's book (ibid), are not fictional, and I believe they send themselves blank postcards - images without words (Kim, 2002) in the form of selfies, purikura (Toriyama et al., 2014), souvenir photos (kinenshashin: see Davidson, 2006 p36), third person memories (Cohen, Hoshino-Browne, & Leung, 2007), and autoscopic video games (Masuda and Takemoto in preparation).

I argue that whereas Westerners hear a shared, identical unity behind multiple slightly differing sound tokens, Japanese may feel the same way about image tokens. A copy of a shrine, horse, bonsai tree ("that Japanese culture of counterfeit trees", Huysmans, 1895, p399), karate form or a face, though it changes in each instantiation call to the Japanese mind a similar sense of authenticity as called to the mind of Westerners when they hear words.

Despite, upon consideration there being a plurality of word phenomena, each instantiation is as good as the others. No word is inferior to another, no word is a copy of another word, since they all refer to a (illusionary) underlying unity. All words are authentic because they match up to ghostly metaphysical meanings. Westerners, until Dennet (1992) find it difficult to deny the existence of these idealities, because they are one of their number. Our self, existed traditionally as an idea in the mind of God, or according to Dennet, who somehow manages to obfuscate even as he reveals the truth, is an abstraction or fiction. This is what is at stake. Are we fictional, or ideas, or living in the mind of a comforter?

Similarly Japanese may be able to feel that "foreign villages" (in Japan - gaikokumura 外国村) are as good or the same as villages abroad, or that video tapes of a deceased grandfather require funeral services just as did the body (image) of their grandfather, or that a sculpture or even a picture of a horse (ema 絵馬) is as pleasing to a god as real horse, or that a mask or face can represent the underlying unity of a person (Watsuji, 2011).

Nowhere are simulacra, or authenticopies, more visible than the Japanese religion, Shinto. Shinto shrines, especially that of the sun goddess are rebuilt (senguu 遷宮) made in miniature for household shrine shelves (神棚), and replicated (e.g. the replica of Ise shrine in Yamaguchi city's main shrine) but in all cases thought to be authentic copies. Japanese deities are infinity divisible (bunrei 分霊) and and transportable (kanjou 勧請) to be enshrined elsewhere (bunsha 分社). Originally this would require the copying of the object felt to contain the spirit/deity (goshintai 御神体), but more often now simply by stamping the characters on a piece of wood, card or paper to form a sacred token (神符), as in the case of the sacred talisman that serve to transport the deity into household shrines (ofuda お札) and inside protective amulets (omamoriお守り). Sometimes these sacred stamped tokens (shinpu/ofuda神符/お札) were felt to fall from the sky causing great merriment, singing, dancing and tourism("("good isn't it?" or "hang loose" ええじゃないか). Just as the Lords prayer on the lips of one bishop is the same as that on the other so the stamped names of Japanese deities are the same in all their instantiations. Conversely, in Japan words without material representation are felt to be hot air, as the Jesuits lamented being required to bring presents and not express gratitude in words.

It does not matter that faces age, seals smudge, or that there are minor differences between sculpted and real horses, just as it does not matter that I might say my name, or I, with a hoarse voice (To the Japanese the voice is always horse..!). That is not to say that the Japanese are fully identified with their bodies. Traditionally the Japanese were also aware of the field of vision, that which which sees, the mirror as soul. But that space is no different from that which is seen, or rather contains the authenticopies as they are, without their need to be unified and represented by an idea.

Narcissus is a fool for mistaking his reflection for himself but there is identity, Echo, in his voice (Brenkman, 1976). Likewise Susano'o is a fool for repeating his words but there is identity, Amaterasus, in his image. Iterability in time is like copiability in space - there is a ridiculous distance. When Narcissus falls in love with his self reflected in the water we want to shout "but that isn't you!" There is an obvious plurality, a painful not-one-ness. It is as ridiculous to a Japanese person to hear someone speaking to themselves or praising themselves as it is to a Westerner watching Narcissus love his image. in each case evaluating subject can not escape from evaluated object, and the loop is felt incomplete.

These differences in perception depend upon culture not some inherent superiority of one or other media. Writing is no more a record of speech than speech refers to writing.

This is due to the nature of the Other being simulated in the mind. There never was a layer of ideas, or metaphysical realm, just a partner in the heart. Westerners from Plato to Baudrillard (1995) tell us that is God that In the West we feel (and or do not feel) as if a super-addressee is always listening and Japanese feel (and or do not feel) as if someone is always watching.

By "and or do not feel" I mean that the Other is both felt and hidden. That on the one hand I "feel" someone is listening make this preposterous self-speech that I do, even in my head, meaningful, pleasurable but on the other if the door were to open and I were to see what I am speaking to, I would recoil in horror. So in that sense I do not feel the presence of the other. I will come back to this.

I think that the two forms of ridiculous distance should start to erase each other in those that experience them. The way in which Post Cards and images destabilise the structure of the word/idea complex is also discussed by Baudrillard (1995).

Baudrillard writes "[Iconoclasts] predicted this omnipotence of simulacra, the faculty simulacra have of effacing God from the conscience of man, and the destructive, annihilating truth that they allow to appear―that deep down God never existed, that only the simulacrum ever existed, even that God himself was never anything but his own simulacrum―from this came their urge to destroy the images.rage to destroy images." (1995, p4)

Baudrillard's term "simulacra" seems too broad, being used to mean words, images, simulated subject positions and even perhaps the imminent universe. Nevertheless he has a point. It seems to me that the two types of simulacra that I differentiate (Western words, and Japanese images or "authenticopies") should have a tendency to draw attention to the limitations of each, and not so much erase but resurrect (!) or make people aware of God, in one person or another, as intra-psychic other.

By consideration of Edo period artwork and research on Japanese artistic representation (Masuda, Wang, Ito, & Senzaki, 2012) third person memories (Cohen, Hoshino-Browne, & Leung, 2007) the Other of the Japanese is not "in the head" but outside of it, a spatial distance but still in their psyche, that is to say a simulated, undead viewpoint. Japanese ancestors look down and protect. Though simulated, I don't think they could ever be as dead as words and images since it is a simulated subject position, but in the title I am using "simulacra" to be simulated subject positions, a viewer, or hearer. It is really these that have ensured the meaning of Western Words and Japanese images.

Theists experience these subject positions as their Gods: ancestors or Amaterasu, and Jesus. Atheists may experience them as the monsters shown above Sadako of "Ringu", (Nakata, 1998) and Satan of "The Passion of the Christ" (Gibson, 2004).

When Baudrillard further writes "If they [iconoclasts] could have believed that these images only obfuscated or masked the Platonic Idea of God, there would have been no reason to destroy them. One can live with the idea of distorted truth. But their metaphysical despair came from the idea that the image didn't conceal anything at all, and that these images were in essence not images, such as an original model would have made them, but perfect simulacra, forever radiant with their own fascination. Thus this death of the divine referential must be exorcised at all costs." (1995, p4) he is correct to say that images do not require a second term, a "divine referential:" ideas. However, both word/ideas and images do require a third term a simulated hearer/view point. Images exist in the mind of their god unmediated.

Returning to the way in which the Other is and is not here.

Husserl is adamant that no one is listening to thought, and it is precisely this fact, coupled with the fact that he can yet understand himself, that convinces him that something other than what happens when we speak to others must be going on. "He believes that he finds pure expression [of another layer of ideal things] in interior monologue because, in interior monologue, my thoughts seem to be present to me at the very instant that I say them." (VP, p. xxv). This argument convinces cleverer people than me, such as Mulligan.

When a Japanese person is looking at a mirror (which she may not need), or imagining herself, she may feel that that the person in the mirror or the image in her mind is herself. Looking at a Japanese person looking at a mirror I may want to to say "no, that is not you! Look you are on this side of the mirror not that thing over there!" But the Japanese lady is cleverer than me. She "knows", like Husserl "knows", there is no one else in her head, so there is no way someone can watch from the wings to claim "You are not the person reflected in the mirror."

To me sight is always seen by someone (an eye) just as to the Japanese (Mori, 1999) language is always heard by someone (an ear). Language in Japan is always contextual. Sight in the West is always contextual. Conversely, the "third person perspective" (Mori, ibid) exists in language in the West, and in those birds eye views that the Japanese see, feel and represent.

The experience of hearing oneself speak proves to Husserl that speech can be heard and understood without another listener (other than the one speaking) because he feels he is absolutely alone. Specifically Husserl can understand the word "I" to refer to himself.

The experience of seeing oneself imagined proves to Japanese that images can be seen and understood without another viewer (other than the one seen) because she feels she is absolutely alone facing the mirror. Specifically she can understand the image to be herself.

Addressing Husserl, Derrida says that consciousness is temporised, and that the other needed and simulated to understand the interior I is deferred in time. "You don't realise that you are writing letters to yourself in the future/ reading letters from yourself in the past." You are not alone at the level of simulacra.

Addressing the Japanese person I want to say that consciousness is spatialised, and that the other needed and simulated to understand the interior self image is distanced. "You don't realise that you are signing to yourself at a distance/ seeing yourself from a distance." You are not alone at the level of simulacra.

It is so obvious to me, a Westerner, that one can see imagine oneself from the outside. That is obvious to the Japanese too. But if the Japanese have an extra viewpoint that is horrifying, then erasing that viewpoint, and yet at the same time viewing themselves from it, they can misunderstand themselves as that which is seen, forgetting that they are not turning to meet the gaze of a monster, distanced, in the image.

It is obvious to a Japanese person that I can defer understanding, when I practice justifying myself for instance (Haidt, 2001). That is obvious to me too. But I if I have an extra ear-point, a super-addressee that is horrifying, then erasing that ear-point, and at the same time hearing myself from it, I can misunderstand myself as that I am that which is said, forgetting that all I am doing is deferring speaking to a monster deferred. Who am I going to meet?

All is needed for self is an other in mind which is too horrible to be fully aware of. That one is aware of but can not admit of, nor gaze at. Someone you know is there behind a door. Someone that will open a door one day, when Japanese people go somewhere.

That there are two ways of doing this auto-affection (which are interlinked) may at the boundary between the two make obfuscation apparent.

Am I oversimplifying? Regarding Derrida, his translator writes "In other words, if we think of interior monologue, we see that difference between hearing and speaking is necessary, we see that dialogue comes first. But through dialogue (the iteration or the back and forth) of the same, a self is produced. And yet, the process of dialogue, differentiation-repetition, never completes itself in identity; the movement continues to go beyond to infinity; the movement continues to go beyond to infinity so that identity is always deferred. always a step beyond." That sounds very complicated.

But if self-speech is just practice speech (Haidt, 2001) that we do all the time before meeting people to whom we explain ourselves to, then self speech is surprisingly mundane. Self speech might be compared to a love-song to a lover that we'll never meet, or a series of amorous post cards to yourself in the future (Derrida, 1987), or those letters that remain unopened in a Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

I digress. This is like a Pokemon Battle. May the best one win.

Baudrillard, J. (1995). Simulcra and Simulation. (S. F. Glaser, Trans.). Univ of Michigan Pr.
Brenkman, J. (1976). Narcissus in the Text. Georgia Review, 30(2), 293–327. Retrieved from
Cohen, D., Hoshino-Browne, E., & Leung, A. K. (2007). Culture and the structure of personal experience: Insider and outsider phenomenologies of the self and social world. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 39, 1–67.
Davidson, C. N. (2006). 36 Views of Mount Fuji: On Finding Myself in Japan. Duke University Press.
Dennett, D. C. (1992). The Self as a Center of Narrative Gravity. Self and Consciousness: Multiple Perspectives. Retrieved from
Derrida, J. (1987). The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. (A. Bass, Trans.) (1 edition). Chicago: University Of Chicago Press.
Derrida, J. (1998). Of Grammatology. (G. C. Spivak, Trans.). JHU Press.
Derrida, J. (2011). Voice and Phenomenon: Introduction to the Problem of the Sign in Husserl’s Phenomenology. Northwestern Univ Pr.
Gibson, M. (2004). The Passion of the Christ. Drama.
Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: a social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review, 108(4), 814. Retrieved from
Hansen, C. (1993). Chinese Ideographs and Western Ideas. The Journal of Asian Studies, 52(02), 373–399.
Heine, S. J. (2003). An exploration of cultural variation in self-enhancing and self-improving motivations. In Nebraska symposium on motivation (Vol. 49, pp. 101–128). Retrieved from
Husserl, E. (2001). Logical Investigations Volume 1 (Revised Edition). London ; New York: Routledge.
Huysmans, J.-K. (1895). En Route. Paris: Tresse et Stock. Retrieved from
Kim, H. S. (2002). We talk, therefore we think? A cultural analysis of the effect of talking on thinking. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(4), 828.
Masuda, T., Wang, H., Ito, K., & Senzaki, S. (2012). Culture and the Mind: Implications for Art, Design, and Advertisement. Handbook of Research on International Advertising, 109.
Mori, 森, 有正. (1999). 森有正エッセー集成〈5〉. 筑摩書房.
Mulligan, K. (1991). How not to read: Derrida on Husserl. Topoi, 10(2), 199–208.
Nakata, H. (1998). Ring. Horror, Mystery, Thriller.
Watsuji, T. (2011). Mask and Persona. Japan Studies Review, 15, 147–155. Retrieved from
烏山史織, 齋藤美保子, カラスヤマシオリ, サイトウミホコ, KARASUYAMA, S., & SAITO, M. (2014). Awareness of Purikura in youths: A comparison of high school and university student’s. 鹿児島大学教育学部教育実践研究紀要=Bulletin of the Educational Research and Practice, Faculty of Education, Kagoshima University, 23, 83–94. Retrieved from
Addendum (Big Mistake)
"My head" is inside my narrative and field of view, not the other way around! This is a very important point and the danger of the scientific worldview. The scientific world is a product of our narration as even some scientists a vow (Wheeler, Mach). Our head is also something we see in our field of view in mirrors, or our nose and brow directly. Our perceptions (including of our whispers) are not inside "me" or my body. To think so would be double death.

Posted by timtak at 04:23 PM | Comments (0)

Steve Derrida

Steve Derrida
Steven Heine, the brilliant cultural psychologists and Jacques Derrida (whose faces are shown morphed above) the late brilliant French philosopher have quite a lot in common.

Like Jacques Derrida, Steven Heine in numerous papers on the differences between Western and Japanese self-construals, presents a critique of the Western Self. Rather than regarding the Western self as simply as paragon of self, Heine regards it as being misused as a paradigm because it, the Western self is "WEIRD." WEIRD is an acronym for Western Educated Industrialised Rich and Democratic and is large co-extensive with WASPS, but he also means the sense implied by the word formed by the Acronym. Westerners are weird. Derrida looses to Steven Heine in this regard since he seemed to believe that the Western self is or will be the only way to self.

But further both Steven Heine and Derrida take the Western self down a peg or two. There is a tendency among the WEIRD to present the thoughts, or self speech that we do as some sort of high-brow, cognitive enterprise wherein we understand the world and above all ourselves through its machinations.

Mead, the founder of social psychology, famously claimed that we come to understand and create ourselves through the act of self-speech, by which means we hear our speech from the point of view others. Sound in general and phonetic speech in particular has the property of reflexivity; we hear what we say. As such speech has a tendency to make ourselves react to it in the way that others react to it. By means of speech we hear ourselves as another and become aware of ourselves as individuals. Since not all speech (Mead uses the example of roars and threats) is understood by the self in the same way as understood by others - lions do not scare themselves when they roar - humans internalise the point of view of others and thereby understand the true meaning of what they are saying, and understand themselves objectively. According to Mead, self speech, as self-creation, is a search for objective understanding of the self, an aim which it achieves

Steven Heine and Jacques Derrida directly or implicitly turn Mead on his head. Both Heine and Derrida give an affective, motivational account of the act of self creation and self-maintenance. Under their account, we do not speak about ourselves to understand something. For the most part the reports of WEIRD people about themselves are positive to a wildly unrealistic degree. Not for cognitive reasons but rather, both Derrida and Heine argue,we speak about ourselves to feel good.

Heine's position arises out of the basic tenets of cultural psychology that there are two ways of construing the self: as independent (the WEIRD way) and interdependent (the Japanese way). Close inspection of this claim of two types of cultural construals, implies that the second, Japanese, construal is correct or at least more true. Westerners can believe that they are as independent as they like, but if their is another way of seeing the self, then Westerners are at least dependent upon their culture, and certainly not radically independent at all.

Heine takes this further. In exchange for this mistaken sense of independent self, and at the same time to keep it going, Westerners engage in self-enhancement or rampant self-praise and unrealistically positive self belief. That is to say that Westerners tell themselves that they are great and believe it.

Telling themselves that they are great (even though this is generally far from the truth) and generally over emphasising everything good about themselves, Westerners manage to convince themselves that they are wonderful, and puffed up with pride, they feel so good about themselves, that they go out into the world to act, tell others what to do, tell others how good they themselves are, and impress themselves upon the world. In so doing to a greater or lesser extent they 'achieve things'. And as a result they can point to these things as further proof of how wonderful they are. And so the cycle continues.

The basic premise is that a false sense of independence, leads to a need for self praise, which promotes a false sense of independence.

This loop is essentially the same as that proposed by Derrida in his theory of hearing oneself speak. Since phonemes disappear in time it appears that we are radically close to ourselves (quote) and that we need no detour in the external world to understand ourselves. But again, as in Heine but more explicitly, Derrida argues reversing Mead that we self-speak in order that we internalise a sense of otherness into our mind so that we can engage in an internal, self-loving, self-romantic, masturbatory self-relationship. All the elements of Heinianism are in Derrida, but though he is no social psychologist, Derrida retains the "generalised other" as alter ego. Derrida argues that that the Western self is not only mistaken in its independence but that it achieves this mistake by internalising a hidden duality. Derrida makes explicit the fantasy of alterirty - the internalised other - required in the Western, and in any, self-praise loop.

Once the need for the Other even in the case of the Western self is understood, then the Western self can be more directly compared and appraised alongside the Japanese case wherein the other is more explicit, and yet also intra-psychic: the Japanese have a mirror (not an ear) outside (not in) their heads but, in either case still inside their psyche.

Posted by timtak at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

French Innuendo

French Innuendo
A review Derrida's of Grammatology

Derrida is Obscure because the Truth is too Disgusting: Do not read this review

When I first read of Grammatology about 25 years ago I found it to be incredibly opaque. What is this French gentleman going on about? I thought it might be some predilection of the French to be obscure, since I had also tried and failed to understand Lacan. Gradually it seems to me that Derrida is deliberately opaque (as are Freud and Lacan) since they do not feel it appropriate to explain what "thought," as self-speech, is, directly, in plain words, either because it is too disgusting, or because by saying it straight it makes it more difficult to cease. Please do not read on if you do not want to be disgusted, or consider it possible that plain-speak can have negative consequences. What follows is my interpretation of what Derrida is saying in this book and since he does not say it straight, the below remains very much an interpretation.

A review Derrida's of Grammatology

Derrida is Obscure because the Truth is too Disgusting: Do not read this review

When I first read of Grammatology about 25 years ago I found it to be incredibly opaque. What is this French gentleman going on about? I thought it might be some predilection of the French to be obscure, since I had also tried and failed to understand Lacan. Gradually it seems to me that Derrida is deliberately opaque (as are Freud and Lacan) since they do not feel it appropriate to explain what "thought," as self-speech, is, directly, in plain words, either because it is too disgusting, or because by saying it straight it makes it more difficult to cease. Please do not read on if you do not want to be disgusted, or consider it possible that plain-speak can have negative consequences. What follows is my interpretation of what Derrida is saying in this book and since he does not say it straight, the below remains very much an interpretation.

Whether Derrida refrains from being explicit because he does not want to lose his job, or because he finds what he is saying too disgusting himself, I am not sure, but this book seems to need to be read between the lines, like innuendo. It also helps to have a copy of "Voice and Phenomenon" (which has a better intro than Speech and Phenomenon) Derrida's simplest book, and also "The Postcard", which is an allegory of the same thing in a very direct way.

Derrida seems to have been directly influenced by Freud. Derrida is a post Freudian. Derrida is applying Freud's theory of the "acoustic cap," or "hieroglyphic bonnet", by means of which we give up on our original love object, to, as it were psycholanyse, Rousseau, Levi-Strauss, Plato, Husserl and others. What both Freud and Derrida seem to be hinting is that, while Western philosophers would have it that words in mind are the nice, clean expression of ideas in mind -- that there is an ever so close but spatial, two-layered procession of phonemes and ideas going through mind -- in fact (as Freud says in his Mystic Writing Pad essay) there is a saying then rubbing out, or a writing then *rubbing out*, involving a timed discussion with a silent someone that we are not quite aware of -- our "other hand". Why do we engage in mental writing, send these "postcards" or memos to ourselves? It is not as if we could have forgotten the content of what we are saying in the space time it takes to say it (as Derrida points out in "Positions").

Others such as Mead and Bakhtin say that speech has meaning when it is understood as part of an act of communication so thus we need to simulate the ear of the other to understand self-speech. The former, Mead, at least argues that we internalise an other in order to understand self speech as others understand it. He points out that threats (or growls, and indeed all speech acts ) need to be understood from the point of view of another for their import to be understood. A tiger does not scare herself with her roar. But humans do, to a degree, understand their threats, because they strive for self-understanding, by means of the generalised other.

Derrida turns this on its head (not that he mentions Mead) and argues, obscurely, that we *do not internalise the other to understand our speech, but speak to ourselves to internalise an other*. And we do this as Freud hints, so that we can have a libidinal, that is to say sexual, relationship with the original other, or mother. In other words, in plain English, self-speech is far less some high-level, philosophical, cognitive activity but "mourning" the loss of mummy, by engaging in a masturbatory, homosexual (since we are only one sex), transsexual (since we pretending to be two), paedo (intergenerational) incestuous sexting with ourselves. "The Postcard" - a series of homoerotic love letters that are surely self-addressed - is the postal allegory of the mental event. No wonder Derrida is obscure. He never makes himself plain since this situation is so unpleasant. These voices in my mind, my thoughts, myselfing, are thus a particularly nasty pornographic radio play script, that create my false sense of self.

Once one appreciates what Derrida is hinting at, then this book becomes a lot clearer but it still pretty obscure, innuendo.

The cover art, which is entirely appropriate, shown above, is copyright the publisher.

Posted by timtak at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

The Obliteration of Thought

The Obliteration of Thought
I am really bad at Karate. One of the reasons for this is that I think too much. In order to do Karate it is necessary to clear the mind of anything that is usually called thought. It is necessary instead to look and do. The majority of a karate lesson is spent looking and doing but there are also at least two aspects of the lesson which are directly intended to obliterate that which is normally called thought.

First of all and most pointedly, the lesson starts and ends with two periods of meditation in which we kneel formally (in a seiza) incline our heads, shut our eyes, and engage in silent meditation. The word for silent meditation in Japanese is mokusou, which means literally "silent thought" or more probably "silence thought." During this period of silent meditation, students are thus being told unequivocally to silence their thoughts. This is important not only for the period of silent meditation but also for the rest of the lesson, because if you try and think, things like "I have to raise my knee and then do a flick with my forefoot" in a karate bout you will have your opponents foot in your face.

Secondly there is all the shouting. Karate would not be karate without the kiai shouts. Ostensibly these are to improve concentration meaning literally "psyche-matching" - presumably attuning ones attention to the environment. In point of fact these shouts also make it largely impossible to engage in conscious, linguistic thought, which in the Western tradition (Plato, Freud, Derrida) is thought and consciousness.

I like doing karate partly because it encourages me to think a little less, and because tend towards the belief that thought is not only largely useless (Nisbett & Wilson, 1977; Libet, 1799) but also horrible auto-affection (Derrida, 1967/1997), or self-ehancement (Heine et al. 1999) and generally best avoided. I am addicted to thought but, I live in hope that by doing karate, I will do it less.

Contrast the words of Martin Selligman, the founder of positive psychology and probably the most published American psychologist of recent years
"I blieve that telling the stories of our lives, makings sense of ageency rather than victimhood are all powerfully positive (Csikszentimihalyi, 1993). I believe that all competent psychotherapy forces such narration, and this buffers against mental disorder in just the same way hope does. " (Selligman, 2002, p7)

It is utterly incredible to me that the champion of "flow," (something very much in evidence in a karate class) Csikszentimihalyi, should be cited as a proponent of its opposite. Csikszentimihalyi quotes Huxley as recommending rock climbing as the ideal civic education (p274). Rock climbers like karate practioners are in the flow and and do not mutter. I see that Csikszentimihalyi wrote quite a bit with Selligman and he does mention positivity, but the positive of positive psychology and the positivity of flow seem to be polar opposites, I say, whispering.

Derrida, J. (1967/1997). Of Grammatology.
Heine, S. J., Lehman, D. R., Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1999). Is there a universal need for positive self-regard?. Psychological review, 106(4), 766.
Libet, B. (1999). Do we have free will?. Journal of consciousness studies, 6(8-9), 47-57.
Nisbett, Richard E., and Timothy D. Wilson. "Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes." Psychological review 84.3 (1977): 231.
Seligman, M. E. (2002). Positive psychology, positive prevention, and positive therapy. Handbook of positive psychology, 2, 3-12.

Posted by timtak at 04:14 PM | Comments (0)

Me as Mel Gibson's Satan's Baby

Me as Mel Gibson's Satan's Baby
I think that Mel Gibson’s take on Satan in "The Passion of the Christ" is an excellent analogy or myth of the human condition, and might be used to persuade atheists like myself of the relevance of Christianity.

Mel Gibson's Satan, from his "The Passion of the Christ" comes equipped with hairy (see his back) "40 year old" baby that appears during in or near the whipping scene (Gibson's Satan in the whipping scene) (Satan and her old-baby (Here is the best version). It is important to have watched one or more of these videos before reading on.

The baby appears to be in a loving relationship with Gibson's Satan. Gibson's Satan appears to be hermaphrodite or female – the mirror of Mary. But in the of the movie end, as Jesus says good bye to this mother the penultimate sooth from the cross, Gibson's Satan transforms: he dumps his wig, and the baby presumably, and turns out to be an old guy with poor dental hygiene.

What does this grotesque drama portray? Who is the hermaphrodite? What is the 40 year old baby that (s)he is holding?

A large number of 19th and 20th century theorists of self argue that in order to conceive of oneself one need to take the perspective of real/imagined otherS (Hermans and Kempen), and or to simulate the perspective of an 'intra-psychic' (in your mind) Other (Freud, Lacan, Derrida, Bakhtin, Adam Smith, Mead). This in itself is pretty bizarre. Adam Smith is the founder of modern economics upon which ever popular neo-liberalism is based. And yet his purportedly scientific approach to human economic activity is founded upon the presumption that humans split themselves into two.

Are you two (or more)? Is Adam Smith speaking poppy cock?

Freud hints that this simulated 'intra-psychic' (in your mind) other is a simulation of your mother as “acoustic cap” or “hieroglyphic bonnet:” a silent partner to ones self-speech, that listens and censors, encouragingly.

Bakhtin says that we speak in our minds to many simulated real otherS but whenever we do we also simulate, to compensate for their lack of understanding, a "super-addressee". Even as others misunderstand us, we do so do not thereby loose our own sense of self, or of meaning, but still attempt to try to say what we mean. This is not because we are privy to a private world of meanings (the lie of Plato's ideas etc) but that we also have another Other – a super-addressee -- that is felt to understands us.

In his great literary philosophical, psychological book, Vygotsky (1986) writes about the origin of thought in Piaget’s 'egotistical speech'. Egotistical speech is found in children from the ages of 3-7. It appears to be a chant or commentary upon what the children are doing that increases as they face difficulties. This egotistical speech communicates nothing. It is virtually incomprehensible because it is abbreviated, upon the assumption that its listener knows all the perceptions of the speaker. But at the same time, egotistical speech is not fully private. This strange nurdling that children do is thought by children, to be understood since in Vygosky's crucial experiment (Vygosky, Thought and Language, about p. 230) it is found that children stop nurdling when no one around them understands what they are saying. Thus “egotistical speech” is in part speech for another, but at the same time speech for self. The other of egotistcal speech is completely understanding, complicit and loving. Like Kitty to whom Levin proposed by means of initial letters in Anna Karenina, (s)he understands even the most abbreviated of speech. So, according to Vygostky, (and later Derrida) thought is abbreviated, intra-psychic love. (Vygotsky also argues that thought has cognitive benefits too, such as distancing itself from direct stimuli and instead to instrumental possibilities.)

The leading cultural psychologists Steven Heine hardly belongs in this list of arcane theorists of the self, but he shows the extent to which Westerners are "full of it", and that their thoughts about themselves are unrealistically positive. We think, at least about ourselves, not to evaluate (Mead, Smith, Rosenberg) nor practice (Haidt) but to praise, inflate, encourage, and console ourselves. Our self speech is not cognitive but motivational. Self speech does not allow us to know ourselves so much as caress ourselves (see image above).

Derrida claims that this monstrous alter ego remains with us but hidden because to see it would destroy us – like Gibson's baby. We are that which is caressed. We are the familiar, the pet, the doll of the imaginary fan.

(For this double fantasy structure in film see Gon “Perfect Blue” and Lynch’s remake, Mullholland Dr.).

Satan in this structure is our interlocutor, the woman that men pretend to be in their heads. When we think, we can not think anything to *ourselves* ― that would be meaningless. We think to another in mind, who loves us.

Unfortunately, our imaginary friend left to itself, loves us so totally, sexually, as a parent, as someone of the same sex, as ourselves, that this internal relationship is very unhealthy. We can justify anything, generate no end of pride. We can, **** ourselves to death, or more precisely, we are dead already, so long as we are in its thrall.

Or, The Christian solution is I believe, a new paraclete, a new comforter: we can talk to Jesus instead. Jesus is here to save us from the disease that we have had since we started “knowning”“ a part of the heart (a side chamber not “rib”) of Adam. Jesus is to replace another “ab Adam” (“Of humans”, not “Son of Man”) Eve, with a much healthier interlocutor.

There are lots of alternatives. One can attempt to stop thinking (Buddhism) by chanting (Amidism) or simply being silent (Zen), or attempt to reinvent yourself as full on animistic pagan, beyond the logodome.

This latter possibility illustrates some weakness to the analogy between me and Mel Gibson's Satan's baby.

Like the baby in Gibson's movie, I am the fictitious little child puppet carried by a simulated queen in my head. Neither the woman nor the child are really alive, or visible. They both take place in language.

In Gibson's film as in my mind, life or truth exists at three different levels. In Gibson's film there is the baby - the least true, dumped like trash at the end. At the second level of reality there is the hermaphrodite Satan that holds the baby but finally turns out to be a man in a wig, revealed at the end.

These three truth levels are also illustrated by the structure of a ventriloquist act. There are three parts to a ventriloquist act. The ventriloquist, who is the only one who is really alive. The part that ventriloquist plays on stage as often chastising, but friendly ear. And the puppet who speaks. The puppet is not even made out of a human, is the least real of the three. In my case, the puppet does not even have a wooden body but is only the words floating through my mind or the abstraction (Husserl) or fiction (Dennet) that they represent. The hermaphrodite - would be female - listener at least is a role played life.

To be true to the structure of my mind, Mel Gibson's Satan would have been invisible, or covered by a veil. My attempt at gender bending would be indicated only by the way the implied listening is carried out, or rather by the choice of the things, that a mother might like, to say.

Satan's baby would have had to have been represented orally, by a voice-over, a gurgling, whining "Oh that's so painful. Why not run? Confess anything....that would stop the whipping... Oh...ouch...oh..." while Satan just listens, behind her veil, agreeably.

Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. (C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Eds., V. W. McGee, Trans.) (Second Printing). University of Texas Press. Retrieved from
Derrida, J. (1978). Edmund Husserl’s origin of geometry: An introduction. U of Nebraska Press. Retrieved from
Freud, S. (1912). Recommendations to physicians practising psycho-analysis. Retrieved from|lang_fr|lan...
Freud, S. (1961). The ego and the id. Standard Edition, 19: 12-66. London: Hogarth Press.
Hermans, H. J. M., & Kempen, H. J. G. (1993). The Dialogical Self: Meaning as Movement. Academic Press.
Lacan, J. (2007). Ecrits: The First Complete Edition in English. (B. Fink, Trans.) (1st ed.). W W Norton & Co Inc.
Marková, I. (2006). On the inner alter in dialogue. International Journal for Dialogical Science, 1(1), 125–147.
Mead, G. H. (1967). Mind, self, and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist (Vol. 1). The University of Chicago Press.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1986). Thought and Language. (A. Kozulin, Trans.). Cambride, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Addendum (Big Mistake)
"My head" is inside my narrative and field of view, not the other way around! This is a very important point and the danger of the scientific worldview. The scientific world is a product of our narration as even some scientists a vow (Wheeler, Mach). Our head is also something we see in our field of view in mirrors, or our nose and brow directly. Our perceptions (including of our whispers) are not inside "me" or my body. To think so would be double death.

Posted by timtak at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

After Andrea Mantegna; Ecce Homo

After Andrea Mantegna; Ecce HomoAndrea Mantegna's Ecce Homo is an impressive work. Hereabove it is modified slightly to make it more like my experience and Mel Gibson's 2004 rendition, which may have been influenced by this work, painted in 1500.

The mouth of the man in drag in the yellow veil has been closed to emphasise his position as listener to the ghostly bloke (or is it a mere puppet?) on the far side and to conceal his poor dental hygiene: to make him prettier. I have emphasised the faint hint of blue in his eyes for the same reason and between the fingers of the hand on the arm to suggest that the man in the "hieroglyphic bonnet"may be no more than a glove puppet held by the man in drag, who is hugging the main man from both sides. The picture has been reversed left to right to emphasise the Derridean Post Card possibility that we say, or think, things that we want to hear rather than think things to see if we like hearing them. Bearing that in mind the man in drag may be better with mouth open in mid-ventriloqui.

The possibility that the speaker may have his mouth closed, while the listen "her" mouth open is quite exciting. This structure of the pair of people at rear reminds me of the koma dogs at the entrance to Shinto Shrines who communicate, likewise without making a sound. I think that all these hints may have been in the original work which is a masterpiece and should have been left as it is.

There is someone hiding in the background. I am not sure if they should be there or not. They are all the same person of which there is only not one. Nice bored, and exhausted expression too, so i have removed his right hand from the frame. This is me, and not "the Son of Man". Bearing that in mind, I have replaced the face. Essentially the structure is similar to that of Face of the Deep except I am whispering to myself rather than looking at the world reflected in a Japanese puddle.

Posted by timtak at 04:08 PM | Comments (0)

People are Interdependent, Spirit is the Whole World

Faces: After Lucifer by Caimox
As far as I am aware, there no such thing as *personal* spirituality, since the person is an illusion created by groups real or imagined (like the mini face in the centre above), and spirit or soul is the whole world including every person and every thing in it (as Aristotle says -- I never thought I'd quote him). Soul or spirit is no thing, impersonal. It is a Kingdom, or Pure Land. There is no self as the Buddhists say.

The mistake that any person (any one of those midgets within spirit) might contain spirit is hell, or the original and grotesque mistake that makes humans think that they are God, or the universe, or that they can evaluate themselves. It leads to all the greeds and desires: all the self-love, self-forgiveness, the lasciviousness, gluttony, and arrogance that leaves us alone with our imaginary friend.

Incidentally or not, the etymology of Lucifer is "light-bearer." It seems to me that "Lucifer" is thus a name for the mistake that any person, any of those midgets, might contain the light.

No person can see spirit and live. Person-hood is the opposite of spirit.

Persons are dependent upon other persons, upon being seen or heard by others, including in the worst case others that they invent or remember. A person is a person through other people. Individuality is the lie that kills us, created by splitting ourselves and merging that split.

The origin of this lie, lies in the pleasure of being mothered, and especially if one does not get enough of it, *mothering oneself*, whether one ****s, or sexts, that simulated, toxic, dead-mother or not.

Further, allowing myself to be really sexist, then first of all it is unlikely that women would want to have any sort of cranial sex with their imaginary mother, it seems to me that, while if men become aware of the horror inside, males will know that it is really rotten, because they will know they are not a mother, and they will know what they are doing with "her".

[Aside, once upon a time a long time ago, in my 15 minutes of fame, I was chastised by a famous scholar for suggesting that Japan might be a matriarchy. That famous scholar pointed out that in Japan it is argued that women need to be reborn as men in order to reach enlightenment. I have heard this to be said.]

However, when women become aware of the sin -- that horrendous doubling and what we do with it inside ourselves -- then it may be, that there is a danger that they may assume that the simulated witch, is themselves. They may think it possible that "they love themselves" (eww) and this is okay, and that they, as a person, can "bear the light". If so it would be worth crying about, because the light is the world and everything in it.

Spirit is impersonal. There is no self. People are, because of their groups. Spirit is the world. In order to get there -- to the Kingdom or Pure Land -- one would need to be really humble to point of self-annihilation. Realising ones dependence, that one lives because one is lived, allowed to live by others, the more that one can realise ones other-dependence, the less one needs to eat oneself.

The image of Faces above is after "Lucifer" by Caimox

Posted by timtak at 04:02 PM | Comments (0)

Horror as the Origin of Self

Horror as the Origin of Self
Lacan argues that the self is an illusion, or (mere) representation, at the intersection between, at first, a reflected image in a mirror, and later, the "I" narrated in language, in either case seen and then later heard and understood from the point of view of a simulated fictive other. I believe that here in Japan the sequence or importance, is reversed, with autoscopy, self-sight rather than self-speech, being the preferred, adult mode of expressing the self.

Numerous psychologists claim that in order to know ones self one needs to see oneself from the perspective of another. We could not evaluate ourselves unless we were to see it from the point of view of another self, or "impartial spectator" (Smith). In order to have a self we need to use language and internalise a generalised other (Mead). Since we are separated from our mothers by our fathers we internalise the lost mother from whose perspective we hear ourselves via an "acoustic cap" (Freud). While we speak about ourselves in rehearsal (Haidt) to imagined others (Bakhtin, Hermans and Kempen) we always have an extra other to whom we address ourselves in addition to these imagined others, a "super addressee" (Bakhtin) though we are rarely fully aware of doing so.

Indeed it seems to me that his selfing that we do could not be done if we were aware of the other in self, so something horrible must be going on. As Satre points out we can, or should, know that any representation is not oneself since it is within consciousness. Self therefore entails a paradox. Freud and Derrida point this out. The awareness of the other, would make it clear that the self is also a representation, an other. For the most part we are blissfully unaware that we are a group, that we are representing ourselves for someone at once so familiar, and yet now so unfamiliar, uncanny, fearful. The other needs to be taboo and horrible since otherwise we would see it. It becomes doubly taboo and horrible because we have also lived a life engaging it, and realize that our being is nothing but this deed. The horror is in sense a the solution to the paradox, a way of scumbling over it, ensuring that we do not see it, so that we can maintain it.

Concretely speaking, Freud and Derrida hint -- they do not bring themselves to say it -- that the horror that keeps us unaware of the way in which we speaking to a simulation based upon our mothers, is that the relationship becomes sexualized. This is I believe the meaning of the myth of the Fall in the bible, and the malfeasance that precedes the death of the Sun Goddess in the Kokiji. Westerners hid the self-desire. Japanese brought it out into the open.

We, westerners, speak to the internal simulated woman, a second mother, as daddy would which means that (at least in the case of males) the relationship they have with our internal other is horrible in most of the ways that we society trains us not to like. It is masturbatory, homosexual, incestuous, and paedophilia, and perhaps murderous since in our imagination we replace our father. We have thus created an identity in a narrative which continues the most disgusting of plots, which at the same time sustains our being. We are up to our necks in it and like Macbeth -- "things bad begun make good themselves by ill" -- and must keep doing it rather than face up to the horror of what we have been doing, kept doing, again and again, all along.

We can try and replace the internal interlocutor with someone very asexual and unselfish so that at least our self-love, which is at the heart of self, becomes less grotesque and self-serving. It is not that we have an imaginary friend but how we have it, how we know it, that makes it horrific.

In Japan however, the other is visual a forgotten terrifying eye or gaze. It is not quite so hideous. It not sexualized. It is out in the open. The structure is only as hideous as a grown adult looking at themselves like they are their own child. It is even portrayed in almost comic ways in for instances the video forKyary Pamyu Pamyu's Pan Pan Pan, as the mother that looks in through the window. However, in the Japanese case also, the structure has the aforementioned Macbethian-force-to-continue, since once a Japanese persons starts off petting their "selves", as image, in this way, then the realisation that they have been doing this is equivalent to the loss of their identity. The image that they thought to be themselves becomes a mere image, and they die.

In these permissive days, after 'the sexual revolution,' it is this second loss and destruction of self, which is the more horrific. The older one becomes the greater the horror of having lived ones life as a pornographic or sickly ingratiating, self-admiring fiction. Oh my god what have I done?

Since speech is required of the Western type of selfing, and the speech that we do to this monster inside us, is a ritual chant of our behaviour carried out by children up to age five (Vigotsky), we gradually become quiet and presume, or claim, ourselves to be speaking to ourselves. We presume that our thoughts are expressing timeless ideas in our minds that accompany words in the presence of the moment (Derrida), when in fact we are rather engaging in a grotesque radio play that will not stop, that never stops. I cannot turn off the radio, but the way that linguistic selfing can be made silent and hidden from others in this way allows us to hide our deed, by claiming that we are only speaking to ourselves. It is for this reason that we claim that we are individualists, that our self-speech is self-consumed, rather than faces up to the horror who we are sharing "a chamber" of our chest with, and what we are doing with "her."

The Japanese eye of the Other is hidden in the world -- in their psyche but necessarily if it is to see their face, outside their head -- and so the like to think that they are merely performing their selves for the eyes of the world (for which there is a word in Japanese: seken no me). Being a groupist, or someone who values harmony is something that the Japanese have traditionally taken pride in. As long as they are only doing things for others they can remain blissfully unaware of the eye before whom they peacock themselves for themselves, almost as grotesquely as Westerners self-enhance in their self speech.

The way in which the other remains hidden in Western culture is reflected in common tropes in horror Japan and the West. There are two prime differences. The first is in the nature of the grotesque self love that we are hiding, the second is the medium from which horror emerges.

Since the self love that we do and yet find so disgusting is sexual in the West, there is always some sexual element to Western horror. The Myth of the Fall relates how we got to "know" Eve and covered our nakedness. Derrida even goes so far as to claim that being ashamed of nakedness is a condition of being a "man" (human), and indeed this has long been a Western presumption. Western horror is almost always sexual. The Western monster is always coming looking for a bride (long list of horror). People who fornicate are slashed to pieces. Murders and violence takes place on wedding nights, in bedrooms, showers and beds. Anyone who gets naked in a Western horror movie will soon die. The monster wants to have sex with his victim since this is what the monster inside us is doing with our "selves."

In Japan there was no shame associated with nakedness. There remains far less. The self-love that the Japanese find so disgusting (which is also included in the Western version, which adds sexuality as another layer) is that between a mother and child, revolving around amae or dependence, so in Japanese horror the monster is a female that turns her victims into children before killing them. Male Japanese victims whimper and die before the female monstrous eye that thinks them cute. Western monsters are thwarted transsexual deviants, Japanese monsters wanted to have children.

The second difference in horror Western and Japanese is in the way in which the monstrous in each culture emerges from one or other media.

Western horror emerges from language and the voice. Voice takes on a life as it has within us and prefigures that death that it has already caused. One of the most vivid expressions of horror emerging out of language is in The Shining where Jacks repetition of "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," prefigures his murderous insanity as does the writing in reverse on the wall by his son, "redrum" (Murder). Writing on the walls, and glass, is a common trope in Western horror. Writing prophesizes the horror, telling us of the death that we are living. There is horrific wall writing on a mirror in What Lies Beneath, Black Swan, and I Know What You Did Last Summer, on walls in Candyman, The Exorcist III, Stigmata, Mother's Day, The Shining (1980), Hide and Seek, The Haunting (1999, 1963), The Lost Boys, The Blair Witch Project (1999, as runes near the climax), and twice in Se7en (1995), on glass in Carrie and twice in The Strangers (2008), on the stomach, written from inside, of the possessed girl in The Exorcist (1973). Most of the images taken from these movies, are from this blog post where a reader quipped, "if you can't read, horror movies will lose you". Derrida attempts the same reveal in his book, The Post Card. Writing is no different from speaking but it is more obviously dead, horrific.

Words can't live of course, so we are in that sense already dead. But if we make our word play self-serving and pornographic enough to be really stimulating, then we can believe in the living word, that the narrative is the centre of gravity of the self (Dennet), and keep the horrible other hidden. Murderers in Western horror also often phone in first. In Halloween (1974), Scream (1996), When a Stranger Calls (1979, 2006) the murderer phones the victims. The horrific denouement occurs when the phone call turns out to come within the same house, or from someone who is watching, because the monstrous speaker and listener are strangers within us, within the home of our heart. Often the horror takes place only, at least at first, in a phone call or audio such as the opening sequence of The Strangers (2008) and climax of The Blair Witch Project (1999). At others times such as in two of the most famous Western horror movies ever made, Psycho (1960) - which represents the Western psyche pretty perfectly and often tops lists of the scariest horror movies - and the Exorcist (1973), the monster is only a voice that inhabits an otherwise innocent protagonist. We might be innocent if we did not have that voice that whispers within us.

Japanese horror on the other hand generally emerges from the image, such as lanterns, scrolls, television sets, mirrors, and photographs immersed in darkroom developer. When Japanese realize that they have been simulating an eye that loves them, they realize that their self is a dead image and die. Japanese monsters thus draw their victims into the images from whence they came. Sadako in the Ringu emerges from a video tape (image repository) of a well (with a reflective surface) from a television screen and turns her victim into a negative. The monster of Juon emerges from a developing photograph and a mirror to drag her victims into them. Ghosts routinely emerge from wall scrolls. Oiwayasan emerges from a lantern after being strapped two-dimensional to a door dropped into a lack to drag her victim into the same lake. The monstrous feminine in Joyuurei emerges from a film and drags her victim away somewhere.

Do Western monsters turn their victims into words or voice? They should. I think that is the significance of the ubiquitous Western horror scream. Men in Japanese horror movies whimper or make no sound as they die. Japanese horror often involves silent death being draw into an image. But the women, especially, who die in Western horror movies often die in and as a scream. Western death is being drawn into the vocal, scream because that is all we ever were. "I am, I exist, whenever it is uttered from me," because I am no more no less than an utterance, voice, scream.

There are other reversals. The Japanese think of themselves as their face or mask (Watsuji, Nishida) - that their own visually regarded aspect is alive, but that their voice is a dead representation. Westerners believe that their self-speech is alive, but their face is dead representation. As each type of horror makes the media that is felt to be alive to be horrific, but at the same time emphasizes the dead nature of the media which believed to be is dead. In Japanese horror, Ema the lord of hell puts hooks through the tongues of the dead, there is a silent telephone call (Ringu), or a telephone call from themselves dying (Chakushinari) that prefigures death. Japanese monsters often have especially dead speech like the sound of a Geiger counter. In Western horror the monster has an especially dead face, is often wearing a mask, as in The Strangers (2008), Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th Part III (1982), Scream (1996), The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Saw (2004) sometimes, an emphatically dead mask, such as the face of another person strapped to the monster's head in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and the Jigsaw Tobin Bell face skin mask in the Saw series. A fuller list of horrible masks can be found at TV Tropes and a top ten video here. This is what we Westerners are: a monstrous would-be-living voice, wearing a dead mask.

I think it probable that humans internalize both types of Other and identify with both types of self-representation to greater or lesser degree. The breakdown of either type of self-identification can lead to the breakdown of self.

One thing that more than one religion have in common is the insistence upon human "sin". Even disparate religions such as Christianity and Buddhism maintain that humans have in some way sinned. The assertion that I had sin almost as a result of my birth seemed to me to be an offensive lie designed to cower and control. Later however, it seems to me that on the contrary the big advantage of religion, over science which speaks in less emotive terms, is its stress upon sin and its attempt to provide a cure. The problem with science of the self, as I am attempting here, is that this, what is going on, might become something we accept. That is not my intention. I think that the reality is worse that I can possibly describe and hope that readers approach the issue with fear and trembling. It seems to me that the more I write about this the more I damn myself and others.

Once again, in conclusion, there is no such thing as self except as other. Consciousness is everything, the whole universe including everyone in it, but it contains no self. Self arises from views of others. Thus anyone who has a self is either fully embedded in their groups and identifies solely with how others observe themselves, or they are sinning: cognizing, and enjoying, themselves in the simulated eye or ear of another. For this to take place for an other to be hidden within the psyche something supernatural, horrible or both must be going on, otherwise we would face the other and see it for what it is. At the same time something "pleasant" must be going on for that horror to have been chosen over truth in the first place. The horror is another aspect of the pleasure, or desire, that gives rise to illusion of individuality: which is in fact, a monstrous group called "self".

Posted by timtak at 03:57 PM | Comments (0)

The Japanese think they are just being Collectivist

The Japanese think they are just being Collectivist
Cross Posted from
The Japanese think that they are being collectivist but there is one simulated autoscopic gaze whose x-ray eyes they can cannot meet. Likewise, we Westerners think that we are only speaking to ourselves and our absent friends but there is one ear that we ignore. Paraphrasing Archimedes, "Give me a place to stand on, and I will make the Earth." Just one subject position hidden: that is all it takes to believe in a visual, or verbal (Kantian, ideal) world.

The need to hide the superaddressee is the reason why Westerners think they are individualists and Japanese think that they are collectivists. The horrific other can be hidden, as well as by being horrific, in one of two ways.

If the superaddressee is an ear then it can't be hidden publicly since one would need to go around talking out loud all the time. This is what children do at first (c.f. Vygotsky) but the content of the chanting that they do is too weird for them to keep doing it out loud. Once they start doing it quietly it does not take long before they think that they are talking purely and simply to themselves (but as Vygotsky demonstrates, children still in the talking out loud stage give up if put in a room full of foreign language speakers). Since we Westerners kid ourselves that we are talking only to ourselves, we claim that we are individualists. Individualism is a lie that helps keep the sin, that is so horrific, hidden.

If the superaddressee is an eye, then it emphasises its own duality be requiring space, or a gap, between the see-er and seen. The way that phonemes require a temporal gap is less obvious. Westerners imaging that it is possible to understand the living word in mind even as it is spoken in immediate "presence." To hide their sin, which is not nearly so disgusting since the superaddressee is less passive, the Japanese claim that they only care about the eyes of others. This allows them to forget that they are posturing to vast and scary Starman, or sun goddess. While, however, individualism is a lie since meaning is always transitive, it is in fact possible to be collectivist. In this situation the Japanese mirror is clean; the abject feminine can be washed from it. For this reason I believe, it may be necessary to be born again, as a Japanese, in the sense of someone who lives in the light, in order to be saved from the beast.

Kayako Saeki pictured above, always looks like she is trying to get out of the image, because she is. She is not really modelled as a member of the crowd, with a face that can be seen, but rather as or in the boundary of experience: the first person view of the subject. The Japanese look out of her eyes. She is especially difficult to see because East Asians have smaller, invisible, noses like Gachapin.

Image of Kayoko Saeki copyright Aiko Horiuchi and Ghost House Pictures / Vertigo Entertainment

Posted by timtak at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

The Ear and the Hoarsemen

The Ear and the Hoarsemen
"And when I came out of my solitude and crossed over this bridge for the first time I did not trust my eyes and looked and looked again, and said at last, 'An ear! An ear as big as a man." I looked still more close -- and indeed, underneath the ear something was moving, something pitifully small and wretched and slender, and no doubt of it, the tremendous ear was attached to a small, thin stalk - but this stalk was a human being! If one used a mangnifying glass one could even recognise a tiny envious face; also, that a bloated little sould was dangling from the stalk. The people, however, told me that this great ear was not only a human being, but a great one, a genius. But I never believed the people when the spoke of great men; and i maintained my belief that it was an inverse cripple who had too little of every-thing and too much of one thing."

The above cryptic quote by Nietzsche is at the beginning of the even more cryptic book by Derrida, "The Ear of the Other."

In brief, when we learn ways of representing ourselves, we also learn how to spectate (hear or see) those representations from the point of view of others. As we identify with our self representations - "the dwarf" in Nietzsche's parlance - we at the same time become dually identified with also the spectator as ear or eye from which position we spectate ourselves. This spectator position becomes uncanny, and hidden despite being vast, so that we can continue to identify with the dwarf, as alas I do. It takes one to know one.

It also seem so me that two of the "four horsemen of the apocalypse," Dawkins and Hitchens at least or especially, have or had that hoarse, sonorous voice thing going on which suggests to me that the ear is very big in them, due to all the relations they have had with themselves.

Compared to people like Nietzsche, Freud, and Derrida Dawkins and Hitchens resemble "horsemen of the apocalypse" as much as do refrigerators. Dawkins may qualify as the footman of the fourth horseman, Darwin. Hitchens was just a nice, troubled, guy. Both of them would not know a god even if it engulfed them.

People who surely know, a lot more than me, about that which we do not talk about, which is going on (aside from all the Buddhists, including the Buddha, who tended to remain silent, as do other religions that speak in parables.)

Sigmund Freud (Acoustic cap. Hieroglyphic Bonnet. Mourning)
Friedrich Nietzsche (Spirit of Gravity. Ears large and small. Dwarf)
Jacques Derrida (Ears of the Other. Grammatology's onanism. The Post Card's post cards. Mourning and much more.)
Mel Gibson (Hermaphrodite Satan and baby)
Ed Kowalczyk ("Garden". "I Alone". The mixture of Jesus, Satan, a mother, and Eve)
Terrence Malick (romance, evil, and self-narration plus a ticking clock)
Satoshi Kon ("Perfect Blue"'s imaginary friend of an imaginary friend)
David Lynch (Mulholland Drive, a remake of "Perfect Blue" but still...And lots more that I don't understand)
Muhammad, peace be upon him ("Paradise is under your mother's feet"!)
Jesus ("Behold your son: behold your mother." What a thing to die for!)
John the disciple (The gnostic Word stuff. "Paraclete")
Maurice Blanchot ("The stone of the sky" in Madness of the Day)
Samuel Weber (Generally but the switch to horror in this video)
Jeanette Leuers ([my mother] This picture)
My father, perhaps, though also turnes away..
David Bowie!
Victoria Fattore (found quite by chance on Google)

And, in my disgusting arrogance, I make this list to add myself to it. I only had a glimpse.

There must be millions of other people. Dawkins and Hitchens seem especially unaware.

Sam Harris' eyes seem so dead. He attacks religion! How!? Buddhism may be a philosophy but their are advantages to religion, as parable, as non-reason, as radical self-loathing, as an act, that says "enough of this self speech."

Daniel Dennet probably knows what he is talking, self-speaking about -- the fictionality of the self -- but hides it so well, even from himself, perhaps.

The truth is simple. There is a vast ellipse of light. There are no things in it. We narrate things in it. And we lose sight of the fact that these things, including especially ourselves, are only a narration. The reason why we lose sight and live in the narration, is because we are having relations -- okay, not beating about the bush, ho ho, we are ****ing ourselves -- with the other that we imagine that hears ourselves. We find this grotesque, so we hide it, and keep doing it. We have an imaginary friend called Eve or as a cure Jesus. We are the imaginary friend of an an imaginary friend. The horror and pedo incestuous homo masturbatory grossness is that which keeps this remarkably simple structure from becoming visible. It is not about being clever. I am a not clever.

Posted by timtak at 03:53 PM | Comments (0)

Feuerkreis dreh dich, Feuerkreis dreh dich!

Feuerkreis dreh dich, Feuerkreis dreh dich!
In his essay on horror and repression -- horror turns out to be the return of the familiar, the return of the repressed -- Freud anayzes E. T. A. Hoffman's "The Sandman," at the climax of which the hero exclaims the title of this image.

In the translation of Freud that I read this was rendered as, I think, "Ring of fire! Ring of fire! Spin around!". It is a minor point perhaps but, I think the homely (heimlich) horrible thing that I forget is the visual field, which is more of a circle than a ring.

And, yes, according to Google, "kreis" means "circle". I think I also know what Hoffman means by "dreh dich" which is often translated as "spins around" but that suggests the circular motion is in the plane of the circle. I prefer the Google translate versions which is "twists" as in twists around, and looks back! I have become like a speck of sand in eyes that are not my own. Scary stuff.

When Freud analyzes stories he keeps it a secret that he indentified with a proponent. In the Myth of Oedipus there is a transsexual whose sex was changed to female and back, by observing a snake have sex (with itself?). At the time Freud was researching the sex life of eels. In "The Sandman" the is a character called Siegmund, who tries to save the hero from madness. Realy they are in the same story. When at the end the hero realises what he has been doing he put out his eyes. Freud nevers states what he means, perhaps because he doesn't want to drive us mad.

Derrida says it is because he is afraid, and does not want to go mad himself (c.f. Derrida, "The Ear of the Other," p156).

Posted by timtak at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)

The Tao of the Sky in the Eye: Cosmic Background Radiation Anomalies and Asymmetries of the Visual Field

The Tao of the Sky in the Eye: Cosmic Background Radiation Anomalies and Asymmetries of the Visual Field
The above top two images are pictures of cosmic background radiation, one provided the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) and the second from top, a more recent image, is from the Planck probe in even higher resolution. WMAP and Planck were small spacecraft equipped with microwave telescopes, or receivers, sent out into deep space by NASA and the European Space agency respectively. The bottom two images show how the visual field is construed from two overlapping monocular fields (‘Visual Field’, n.d.), and a representation of my subjective visual field as I watch a detail from Van Gogh's Starry Night, complete with the occluding nose(s).

Recently, over the past 10 years, increasing evidence has been found that there are a number of anomalies in the cosmic background radiation that deviate, in structured ways, from a random (Gaussianly) distributed universe (see Trosper, 2014, for an excellent layman's introduction).

The universe appears to have a preferred alignment with which even our solar system conforms (Huterer, 2007). Groeneboom and Eriksen's (2009; see also Carroll, n.d.) analysis of the US WMAP data found two poles (shown as red dots in the image second from top).

More recent analyses of WMAP and Planck space probe data have found an jokily named "axis of evil" (Land & Magueijo, 2005; Aron, Jacob, 2013) which is shown in the second image above as a white line through the cosmic background radiation data. On each side of this axis there are statistically significant asymmetries in overall temperature (Yoho, Copi, Starkman, & Kosowsky, 2014), quasar light polarisation (Hutsemekers, 2014, slide 53-56), and right/left galaxy spin (Longo, 2007, 2008) prompting the latter author to suggest that the universe has a "handedness" about this "axis".

Since the WMAP and Planck probe data correspond with each other, even though collected from difference coordinates in different ways, it is unlikely that this is some "foreground" distortion produced by the measurement apparatus, or local interference such as the effect of our sun. This article will argue that the previous research has not considered the "foreground" at close-quarters enough.

These anomalies have seriously challenged the way that physicists see the universe, prompting one team to ask "Is everything we know about the universe wrong?" (Sawangwit & Shanks, 2010).

(Skip this bit till the line of asterisks ********** if you have read my other posts on this topic )

As already discussed, Ernst Mach, as well as Buddhist philosophers and Aristotle, have hypothesised that the stuff of the universe is our sensations (mind, soul) and specifically our visual field (Mach, 1897). According to this view, "things", "matter", "galaxies", "particles" are the theories and hypotheses that we have to explain sensations.

After reading Mach's phenomenalism, and the closely related Humian empiricism, Einstein postulated his theory of special relativity and the principle of invariant light speed (see Norton, 2010). As a consequence, there is a prohibition of motion faster than light. That the speed limit of the whole universe just so happens to be that of the fastest sense of recently evolved carbon based life form called "humans" on a cosmic speck called "the Earth" is no coincidence. This fortuitousness - which would otherwise be preposterous -- can easily be explained from a Machian holistic perspective (Takemoto, 2014). If the stuff of the universe is our sensations, then it is a tautology that nothing can go faster than the speed of our fastest sensation, light. As an interpretation of our visual field, the universe is of course made of this "light". Phenomenalist, empiricist reasoning of this type be used to explain other properties of the universe.

Particularly, (as discussed here) recent advances in string theory have suggests that the universe is flat, or "holographic," (Susskind, 1995) again, as is our visual field. The hypothesis that we live in a holograph is now being tested by the Fermi lab (Hogan, 2013) and the results are expected soon, but the fact that the universe is within 0.4% of flat has already by demonstrated by the WMAP CBR data (NASA/WMAP Science Team, 2012). If the universe is genuinely flat and three dimensionality an "emergent property" then for me this can not be explained in any non-Machian way: a flat "holographic universe" can only be an interpretation of our, human sensations. But there is still more evidence.

Still more recent research to explain the anomalies in the Cosmic Background Radiation data suggest that one way of of explaining some of the anomalies is to conclude that the universe is not spherical but ellipsoidal (Campanelli, Cea, Fogli, & Tedesco, 2011; Cea, 2014, see my earlier post). This theory does not seem to have caught on because physicists -- still convinced of a "The Matrix"-like, Kantian 'real world' out there, behind appearances, I presume -- can see no explanation as to why the universe should be elliptical. NASA astrophysicist Gary Hinshaw is quoted as saying, "It is actually difficult to understand how an ellipsoidal model would arise 'naturally' in cosmology, so the burden switches from explaining a very mild 'anomaly' to explaining a fundamentally new feature of our universe,"(Choi, Charles, Q, 2006).

If the "universe" is our interpretation of our sensations and in particular the visual field, that vast ellipse of light that we find before (or engulfing) us, then it seems appropriate that the theory and data regarding the universe should conform to the subjective experience shown in the bottom image. Van Gogh's swirls suggest that he may have been able to see asymmetries in his visual perception. I am subjectively unaware of them, but research on visual perception demonstrates that such asymmetries exist.

I suggest therefore, that the anomalies in the cosmic background radiation data may be explained by consideration of asymmetries of the human visual field and visual cortex. Our visual field is formed from the unification of two roughly circular monocular two dimensional fields which means that is approximately elliptical.

Furthermore, it has been known for some time to psychologists and neuroscientists that there the visual field has horizontal and vertical asymmetric properties. For example there is left-right asymmetry in the processing of local and global visual information. Navon figures such as that below


are processed faster globally (as in this case an L) in the left visual field and processed faster locally (as in the above case as a T) in the right visual field (Yovel, Yovel, & Levy, 2001; McKone et al., 2010).

This asymmetry in local and global processing parallels asymmetries in low versus high visuo-spatial frequency. "Spatial frequency refers to the number of dark-light cycles per unit of space - the more cycles per unit of space, the higher the spatial frequency (Hellige, 1996, p487)."

There are also differences in visual processing between the upper and lower parts of the human visual field (Genzano, Di Nocera, & Ferlazzo, 2001).

These vertical asymmetries sometimes match those found in the left-right asymmetry (e.g. Christman, 1993) where recognition of local features (the Ts in the above) of Navon figures is better in the upper left visual hemifields, than in the lower right.

In a different type of discrimination task Berardi & Fiorentini, (1991) found the opposite difference in ability but the same morphology. They write "The data shown in Fig. 1, A and B, confirm the previously observed asymmetry between the left and the right visual hemified, probably reflecting hemispheric specialization (Fiorentini & Berardi, 1984). A superiority of the lower hemifield with respect to the upper hemifield was also observed in the present discrimination task."

This and other results finding visual processing differences separated along an axis including the left and lower, as opposed to the right and upper quadrants of the visual field, presents a pattern of processing ability in the shape of a rotated 'S' axis or Taoism symbol similar to an inverted form of the CBR "axis of evil," where the left side is extended across the top, and the right side extended across the bottom. In other words, the Taoism symbol morphology appears to be shared by both the cosmos and human visual field/cortex. I argue that the morphological similarities between the visual field and the universe are in all cases, no coincidence. These asymmetries of the visual field may explain the different "temperature" of the hot and cool "lobes of the universe" (Huterer, 2007) on either side of the CBR "axis of evil."

I am probably imagining the similarity between the asymmetry of the laminar distribution in the human visual cortex (Eickhoff, Rottschy, Kujovic, Palomero-Gallagher, & Zilles, 2008) and the asymmetry of the WMAP and Planck CBR power spectrum (see Bennett et al., 2013, pp 37-38 and Francis, 2013 respectively), but the point of this article is that both are asymmetrical, have a similar morphology, and this is predicted by a phenomenalist, empiricist or holistic interpretation of both, really the same, sets of data (Takemoto, 2014). I don't seriously entertain this notion but perhaps the "cold spots" occluded by "supervoids" (Szapudi et al., others, 2015) found in the CBR map of the universe, might correspond to the blind spots in our visual field.

In other research on visual field asymmetries in mental rotation abilities, (Burton, Wagner, Lim, and Levy (1992) found that clockwise mental rotations are performed faster in the left visual field were counterclockwise rotations are performed faster in the right visual field. These visual processing asymmetries parallel the galaxy rotation asymmetries found by Longo (2007, 2008).

Finally to test this hypothesis I attempt to find a novel feature of the cosmic background data, predicted by research on the visual field. One of the most cited evolutionarily sound asymmetries in visual field processing, and the reason perhaps why bifocal glasses are so easy to adapt to, is that proposed by Previc (1990): the upper visual field is more adept at processing distant stimuli than the lower visual field. Is there a similar phenomena is present in the cosmic background data? I was initially unaware of any such parallel.

It would seem that the answer is very possibly yes. An anomalous "dark flow" (Kashlinsky, Atrio-Barandela, Kocevski, & Ebeling, 2009) of galaxies away from us into the distance. This happens to occur, fortuitously or not, in the upper half of diagrams of the cosmic background radiation. Some cosmologists are arguing that dark flow suggests the presents of another universe sucking galaxies into the distance. Others have argued that the movement suggests that the universe is at a tilt (Atrio-Barandela, Kashlinsky, Ebeling, Kocevski, & Edge, 2012). If part, and in some sense the "upper part" of the universe were to found to be tilted away then this might correspond to the way in which the visual field is titled in its specialization toward foreground and distant visual processing. The dark flow anomaly remains controversial but one of the main proponents Dr. Kashlinsky is quoted as saying "This flow suggested that the universe had somehow become lopsided, as if space-time itself was behaving like a tilted table and matter was sliding off" (Maggine, McKee, 2013). I rest my case.

In any event, as science finds more similarities between experience and the universe as a whole, we shall perhaps be persuaded that the distant stars are, in a sense, not so distant at all. I am not of course suggesting that will suddenly be able to touch the stars. But to be realistic, there should be a reversal in our understanding of the nature of the universe. Sensations are often thought of as data to help us understand the rational scientific universe "out there" (e.g. Jackson, 1986) . It is really rather the case that, as Mach (1897) and Hume (1739) argued, that the rational scientific universe is a matrix of information and hypotheses, blather not matter, that serves to facilitate our understand our sensations, the stuff, the being of the universe.

As always, I end by asking, what keeps the the stars out there? What separates us from the world? I suggest it is because we think we have someone with us as we watch our sensations, the stars. This convinces us that the Kantian 'thing it itself' is more than a hypothesis, more than a kind of simulation or role playing game .

This suggestion may seem a very depressing solipsism each being trapped inside our own private black hole. But it could also be argued, on the contrary, that the unreal "spirit of gravity" (Nietzsche, 2006) with whom I pretend to converse, prevents me from realising that universe of which I am a part, is itself part of the multiverse (Good, 1972), and that we are connected. In the words of Terrence Mallick, (Malick, 1999) we each stand in the others light.

Image second from bottom
Should you wish that I cease and desist please be so kind as to comment below or contact me via the email link at

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Posted by timtak at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

My own private black hole

My own private black holeIt is from consideration of the way that black holes expand storing information not in their volume, but upon their surface, that 't Hooft and Charles Thorn and Susskind (1995) arrived at the holographic principle that the universe is two dimensional with the third spatial dimension being emergent.

This seems to be a very sober and sobering theory upon Machian (or Buddhist, or Panpsychist) postulates that the sensations, specifically our visual field are the stuff of the universe. Since our visual fields are (I believe but I am not sure, Nishida claimed otherwise) two dimensional, with a third dimension "emergent" due to our visual analysis of two overlapping monocular visual fields, then two dimensionality seems to conform to experience.

Susskind extrapolates from the theory of black holes to argue that not only black holes but universe is likewise two dimensional. This extrapolation, combined with my subjective experience of my visual field, leads me to feel that Susskind's theory of the interior and exterior of a black hole is in fact a;so theory about the human psyche or soul.

There are two ways one can approach this possibility, which I find extremely difficult to separate.

On the one hand one could think about the positive, bigger picture, regarding the "Chinese" (Gold) multiverse of black hole minds and how they may interconnect. I have not read Liebnitz, nor do I even remember the name of one of my Edinburgh professors who talked about a super mind or conglomeration of minds. (Timothy Sprigge who was "Panpsychist" influenced by Whitehead) It seems to me that some versions of string theory with its one dimensional strings connecting ("world") "branes" (two dimensional surfaces) may be attempting to model a panpsychist multiverse.

On the other hand, a less positive, but for me more realistic , since I am not enlightened, way of applying this theory is to think about the way it applies to the universe in which we live as typical, unenlightened humans. String theorists may have one foot in Nirvanha. I am in samsara, and or so, understanding samsara seems to be the prevailing problem.

On the first hand again, the solution of second problem, of the nature of the interior of the black hole that I live in, leads to the previously mentioned, other approach; the nexus of minds, the multiverse and how they are interconnected. But the latter question seems to me to be jumping the gun. When I really see the universe as a soul or visual field then I will attempt to think about how it is connected with other souls, brane worlds, multiple visaul fields as universes and how they interconnect.

The bee in my bonnet at the moment, this moment of writing is gravity and Nietzsche's use of the phrase "spirit of gravity."

It seems to me that Nietzsche's "spirit of gravity" is another word for the intra psychic others that many theorists talk about (Smith's "impartial spectator", Mead's "generalised other," Freud's "acoustic cap," Bakhtin's super-addressee, Deridda's "ear" etc). The difference between Nietzsche and all the rest is that he appears to be linking the intra-psychic other with a physical phenomena: gravity.

This may only have been a metaphor. The "gravity" of Nietzche's "spirit of gravity" may only have been a metaphorical solemn morality, but I think not. One of my favourite passages from his writings is the god is dead speech where Nietzsche claims that the death of "god" results in us not knowing up or down. I don't think that this is purely metaphorical.

The other, in my case as ear, or interluctor, does not only make me morally 'grave', but also holds the world in place. My "Other" is not solely a cause of morality (and immorality, self-love) but also fixes the world in its axis, anchors my perception of the world. In other words, Nietzche's "spirit of gravity" is a meaningful pun. It makes me grave and itmakes gravity, a physical difference. It keeps the stars at a disatance. It prevents me from floating. I don't think this simply theoretically, but it seems to me that I feel his or her litterally gravitational effect. She or he, anchors my world.

The Japanese may see themselves with the horrible dead mummy, or not, but I narrate myself to the horrible dead mummy, by virtue of which the world is anchored, gravitated, held in place.

How, if at all, does this relate to the observations of Susskind regarding black holes? As I watched one of Susskind's youtube lectures regarding black holes I made the following notes. The first two, that there may be nothing at the centre of a black hole, and that there is something terrible at the centre of a black hole, reminded me of my experience and the spirit of gravity.

Hearing myself speak, the combination of emptiness and terror, seems to create gravity or a part of it. Does that correspond to anything at all in physics?! Entanglement? Loop Quantum Gravity?

Inside Black Holes | Leonard Susskind

There is something terrible inside the black hole.
There is nothing inside the black hole. 32:00
Nothing can enter a black hole but that answer is not "satisfying".
Nothing comes out of the black hole but information comes in.
Nothing can penetrate through horizon and yet they can.
It looks cold but up close it is hot.
The boundary structure here functions as a hologram.
The film contains a representation of the 3 dimensionality, like a hologram.
It radiates energy and evaporates.
The monogamy of entanglement!
The distant Hawking radiation is the interior vs psychological theories of self which posti that we are sociallly created by our peers.
Know everything about a system and know nothing about its parts. A lot like language and light (Jackson)

Posted by timtak at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

The Sign

In the top left is Saussures picture of the sign. We see a tree. And we call it an "arbor" or any other word, like "tree" or "abre" arbitarily.

Middle left is Lacan's rendition where now the word is above the picture of the tree. The word dominates that which it seems to name. And at the bottom left, there is Lacan's cryptic digaram of the sign where now, instead of "hommes" and "dames" appearing above pictures of men and women, they are above pictures of the doors to men and women's restrooms. It should also be noted that the line between the words and the pictures (doors) is now unbroken. There seems to be a "beance" or break between the world of words (hommes, dames) and that which they correspond to.

On the right is a picture that Derrida obsessed upon, where Plato is shown instructing Socrates how to write. Derrida suggests that the long thing baggette under Socarates' toga may be Plato's member.

Dawkins wries
I find the following advice of Jefferson, again in his letter to Peter Carr, moving:
[small snip] Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.

Heracletus wrote, at about 500BC
The Sibyl, with frenzied mouth uttering things not to be laughed at, unadorned and unperfumed, yet reaches to a thousand years with her voice by aid of the god.'

What are these people going on about?

When we speak to each other we understand each other, to a greater or lesser extent. When my wife tells me from the passenger seat, that a traffic light is red she gets me to stop. Whether we share similar "red" "qualia" is unknown, and unknowable. I doubt it even make sense to ask. It is not that we share the same vision/ qualia of red, far less the same image of a tree.

Saussure's diagram therefore misses the mark. The first Lacanian diagram emphasises that we do not simply arbitrarily name the things in the world but cut the world up with our language. His second diagram shows however that language is not supported by a correspondence with percieved things at all, the world is not chopped up, but language corresponds *with* something behind the toilet doors: the unconscious, structured like a language.

Derrida explains the full unpleasantness of the situation in "The Post Card" where self-addressed language turns into an auto-erotic homosexual relationship, exemplified by, or originating in, Plato fixing Socrates in his seat. Derrida notes the bagette poking out underneth Socrates' toga.

Heracletus may have refered to the feminised Socrates as a Sibyl, and to Plato as God.

Dawkins and Jefferson do not appear to be aware of their own pun as they "fix Reason firmly in her seat", and seek her homage, but fail to see what they are doing, blindfolded, as we all are, in fear.

Hot damn! I have become cryptic too. Should one be cryptic? Derrida, Lacan, Freud, are all cryptic. If it were only them Frenchies, them Europeans, I would be tramping all over their reticence. But even the Bible, in which there is a "sibyl" named Eve, does not say, straight, does not say what is going on. I don't think it can really be said. But one can, or at least might, be more direct that those above.

All this crypt-ic, crypt-icness, crypt-icity, is appropriate, but at the same time, there are real people, or people, who are going to be very, and unpleasantly, surprised. I am one of their number. I know that something is rotten in Denmark, but the extent to which I have lived a lie will blow my mind. I fear Dawkins is going to have a very very rough time.

There are ways in which religion make it sound like it is going to be easier than it is. Dawkins has said, that if God exists and then when he dies and meets God, then he'll say (something along the lines of, I can't rember the exact Dawkin's quote) "Why did you make it so difficult to understand?" I appreciate the sentiment. But contra religion, to a degree, it seems to me that the horror of the experience will be that there is no duality, and Dawkins will find that he himself did it, caused the horror that he will find, to himself. He will not be able to say "Why did you - you nasty God - make this, your existence, so opaque," but rather realise that he himself did it to himself. I don't mean to say that Dawkins or I are God. But we may experience the realisation that it was us ourselves that seperated ourselves from God.

Dawkins, R. (2009). The God Delusion. Random House.

Posted by timtak at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

Tourism and the Inverted Colour Qualia of a Strawberry

Tourism and the inverted colour qualia of a strawberry
Illustration of Locke's thought experiment by Was a Bee. This told Locke that we don't see the real things. It suggests to me there are no real things, which in in Japanese, or Chinese, is expressed, shikisokuzekkuu ("色即絶空" meaning every form, and colour, in reality is empty"). The Japanese tell themselves this, but they see the world as the world of colour and colour as the world. They try to remind themselves that it is void and nothingness. Their ability to see the world as that which is coloured, rather than some dark Matrix-green or transparent Kantianian thing-in-itself, stems from the fact that they have a mirror in their heads. The Japanese split themselves visually so it is the visual that is objective, both out there, and in here in the mind. This is the ultimately contradictory self that Nishida proposes.

No one goes to see the objective! The objective is everywhere. Only the subjective can be meaningfully visited! As Mori argues, language is NOT objective in Japan. There is no "third person" no lingering listener, no super-addressee (Bakhtin, 1976). Words exist in contexts. They are subjective. There is a mirror in the hearts of Japanese which encourages them to believe in the visual world. There is no point in visiting an image since the image is objective. If you want to experience an image you can just create it as a "gaikoku mura" (fake experience of a foreign "village") in Japan. The Japanese go to visit the subjective too but the world has been turned inside out.

Posted by timtak at 03:39 PM | Comments (0)

Let there be Fundamental Millimeters

Let there be Fundamental MillimetersIn 1975 David Bohr and Basil Hiley wrote

Its (science's) role is not to give an analysis into constituent parts, but rather to serve as a basis of *description*, which does not imply the independent existence of the "elements" that are distinguished in this description (e.g., as we may describe a ruler as divided into yards, feet, or inches, without implying that the ruler is ultimately constituted of separately existent "elementary inches" that have been put together in some kind of interaction). p102

This is what Nietzsche referred to as "noon" occurring, in this paper, 75 years after his death. A further 40 years have passed and the belief in science grows from strength to strength. When will people become aware that they are believing in fundamental millimetres?

Bohm, D. J., & Hiley, B. J. (1975). On the intuitive understanding of nonlocality as implied by quantum theory. Foundations of Physics, 5(1), 93-109.

Posted by timtak at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

Cosmic Inflation and the Growth of the Human Foetus

Cosmic Inflation and the Growth of the Human Foetus
As argued in previous posts, Ernst Mach was right to point out that when we look at the world we are looking at our sensations, about which we tell a story called "science."

Nietzsche and others were right to point out that we then mistake our stories for the world. The universe that we experience is our experience, or sensations. It should not surprise us therefore that the universe is limited in the same way as our sensations such as having a luminal speed limit, being elliptical and having asymmetries similar to, no I mean which are, our visual field

There is more. Max Tegmark another neo-plato-kantian scientist, who believes that the world is mathematical, found what he thought was a purely coincidental (!) similarity between the cosmic "inflation," that is calculated to have happened after the big bang through an analysis of cosmic background information (above bottom, PLANCK data) and the growth of a foetus (Tegmark. 2015)

At the 19:20 point in his Youtube video about his book he notes this coincidence as follows,

"The basic idea of inflation is that our universe began just like you guys. You were originally one cell, two, four, eight sixteen, thirty two cells you just kept doubling. Fortunately you did not keep doubling for nine months, which would have been very painful for your mom because after about nine months of doubling once per day you would have had a mass greater than the whole universe that we are in. What happened instead was, once you reached the size of about five centimetres, you stopped this crazy doubling and started growing at a more leisurely rate. This is (nervous laugh) and this is exactly what inflation says our universe did. It started, this tiny sub atomic speck of stuff. doubled double doubled and when it was about 5 centimetres this doubling stopped and it started doubling much more slowly. And these two curves are very similar. I promise you I did not fudge it. When I made this for the book I actually spend more time than I care to admit looking up data from prenatal observations and baby growth, and plotted it here and that is why it is a little bit wiggly. I have no idea (nervous laughter again) why we have this funny 5cm coincidence, why they have the same vertical axis. I can't even think of an anthropic explanation (nervous laughter again, also in the audience) for it(!)"

Can this guy be so far up his own algorithms that he can't think of any explanation for the expansion of the universe paralleling the expansion of a human? Can't he see what he is looking at? Fortunately there are some people who have seen it* and have reported back. But more to the point, and more interestingly, science itself is at last, with a nervous laugh, starting to become aware of its own mistake. Isn't that amazing?

Or, on the other hand, this realisation is the sort of thing that could have been predicted. ”One day, people are going to see:-) " People far cleverer than me could known that a long time ago.

Of course, the fact that our universe is mathematical is even greater proof that it is human. That a cosmic bacilli, or a close relation of bananas and goats, on a speck of dust, might create or even discover the fundaments of the only, objective universe, is utterly preposterous. There is no way in hell that a close relative of the cosmic spec goat or cosmic spec banana might find anything remotely objective. Even if we are discovering (rather than inventing) mathematis, that the universe is mathematical also demostrates its human nature. Which ever way you cut it, the universe is ours.

* I do not claim to one of them except the merest glimpse at which time my self decomposed and I was caught in the sight of a vast and firey, otherwordly, "hell." In view of that experience, I think it may be a good idea to get over, leave behind, or disentangle oneself from the world of science prior to ones demise so that this firmament, this fire as Heraclitus called it, is not experienced as a hellish surprise, but rather, something beautiful, that you are expecting.

Image top (Tegmark, 2015)
Image Bottom PLANCK cosmic background radiation.

Tegmark, M. (2015). Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality. New York: Vintage.

Posted by timtak at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)

Gravity, the plethora of ellipses and our visual field

Gravity, the plethora of ellipses and our visual field
My first prediction!

In Max Tegmark's presentation about how our universe is or appears to be mathematical he says
28:39 I have also said that we have underestimated greatly the capability of our humand minds to figure stuff out. Why is that, that we have been able to do so much more than we thought. Leoardo DaVinci would have been blown away by if he had known what you guys at Google could do today. Right? Where does this power come from? Yeah, human mind is awesome. This is certainly part of it. Right? We didn't evolve to do integrals or even to send emails but now our mind is so flexible that we can but but I don't think that is the whole story, I think that if we look back at the roots of our success in science there are two really really powerful ideas, which have helped us enourmously. One is, do experiments, in other words measure a bunch of numbers, from nature, and then secondly lets talk about it. When you have a bunch of numbers, use mathematics, try and make mathematical models of it, in other words try to look for mathematical patterns in there, look for mathematical hints because nature has again and again dished out these kind of hints and that's the equations that the equations that xyz expounded at MIT and thats what really has enabled us to build this technology that we see these patterns and exploit them. This is an old insight. Pythagorus already said over two thousand years ago that numbers rule our universe. And then Galileo famously said over four hundred years ago said, "our universe is a like a grand book written in the language of maethematics." But what did he mean by this? Look around and where is all this math he was talking about. I don't see any big numbers written in the sky. But if you look more closely at what he said, he talks about this book is written in the language of mathematics and its characters are triangles and circles and other geometric figures etcetra, so geometrical shapes, geometry is also math, he is taking a broader view of math, he is not just talking about math as a bag of tricks for multiplying numbers together or a sadistic form of torture that school teachers invent to make us feel bad, which is kind of Maimonides view of math, he is looking at it in a more broad way and if you look for patterns then yes, nature is full of them. What ever you throw up in the air it is going to move in this shape which we call a parabola, yeah, it obeys a very simple equation, y equals x squared and if you look in space, everything orbiting anything under gravity goes in this shape which is called an ellipse and if you look more closely at what we learn at high school you see that what is a parabola isn't actually a parabola, but a small piece of an ellipse which is very well approximated by a parabola, so it is all ellipses. Why?"

Is it a coincidence that gravitational paths which are not really parabolas, and orbits which are not quite ellipses, the universe may be ellipsoidal, and also soul as visual field, are also approximately elliptical? And are they really elliptical or slightly elongated circles?

Why is it that our visual field is approximately elliptical? I am not at all sure. When I close each of my eyes in turn it is not clear to me whether or not my visual field changes shape. If I close my right eye I loose some information regarding the right hand side of the table in front of me and the window to my right but I also seem to become more accutely aware of a large area of nose occluding the right hand side of my visual field in the area where I used to be able to see.

Nonetheless, it seems very likely that my preference for wide screen TV's is due to thoe fact that I have two eyes arranged horizontally, resulting in an elongation of my visual field in the horizontal plane.

It is not enough that my eyes are arranged horizontally. If I were a fish or a horse, I might not be able to, or desire to merge the monocular visual fields from each eye.

It is commonly assumed that one merges the monocular views from each eye due to the "overlap:" the fact that, and the extent that ones right and left eye, for part of their span overlap like the Venn diagram above.

Assuming an external world of things, this explanation is compelling, but it is at the same time true that each eye sees something different, and bracketing away this external world assumption, especially in view of the holographic principle, each two dimensional monocular view contains different information.

So the two monocular visual fields overlap to the extent that we can create a 3D image (are images ever 3D?) upon the assumption of things.

We can also make our visual field less elliptical by looking at crosseyed stereoscopic images such as we force our eyes to make similar images overlap and see things that are not there at all.

Thus is could be argued that the two monocular circular visual fields -- which Ernst Mach claims is the very stuff of the universe (no wonder it is holographic) -- overlap to the extent that we can create a three dimensional structure in the part that overlaps.

My tentative hypothesis is that this has something to do with gravity.

Some recent theories of quantum gravity argue that it is an almost thermodynamic, entropic effect. That is to say that some theories argue that bodies 'gravitate' towards each other for the same reason that gasses and heat expand to fill spaces at equal levels of concentration, such that entropy, the disorder of the system, tends to increase. At first blush this tendency of heat and gases to expand would appear to be opposite to the tendency of masses to gravitate towards each other. The movement of entropy might be paraphrased using Yeats: "Things fall apart," whereas gravity by the bastardization, "things fall together." Nevertheless, some quantum gravity theories argue that micromovements at a quantum level function in such as way as to reduce entropy, and result in macroscopic movement of large scale bodies.

Can this have anything to do with the reason why my monocular visual fields overlap to form an ellipse? It does not seem to be inconceivable. When I see double and look at a chair, I see two chair shaped forms. While "bringing the chair into focus" and making these two forms overlap may seem to be making my visual field more ordered, it may also be argued to be increasing entropy by reducing two forms, two structures into one. Instead of their being the chair on the right and the chair on the left, there is only the chair. Could this kind of informational suction, this tendency for similarity to converge into unity, mind's fundamental tendency "to look for patterns" (Tegmark, above) itself have anything to do with gravity? On the one hand it seems to present an entropic effect that results in "things falling together." On the other, it generally seems to take place horizontally, whereas gravity, in human experience, occurs in the vertical plane. But then that might even suggest a connection!

Pondering on this more, the reason why entropy might be said to lead to "things falling together," is a direct result of the fact that sensation, Mach's matter, often comes in pairs. Mach drew a monocular visual field but visual fields are generally binocular, and each of the two circles have a tendency to merge. I predict therefore that there will be, or is (dual space in loop quantum gravity??) a theory that postulates a "two dimensional duplicity,' since binocular duplicity seems to be a basic property of (most) human experience (other than in the case of the one eyed) .

In any event, when a cosmologist says that there are many ellipses in cosmology, I inclined to think that this must have connection to the biggest and yet most invisible, most human, and or even divine ellipse: our visual field.

Getting really into the world of the absurd, some Buddhists claim that the enlightened can fly! I do not believe them. But at the same time, I wonder if it is essential that we merge our visual fields, if we have no desire to name and posit objects in their overlap. Enlightened folks are often drawn as having strange staring eyes. I have wondered whether they might be staring at infinity, not overlapping their visual fields. In such a situation space would look very different. It might change ones perception of gravity too, such that they feel like they are flying.

When I was on my bike this evening I felt I was flying! And I thought about fish and birds who tend to have eyes on either sides of their heads, that do not allow much ocular overlap and who seem to experience gravity less. Is there any reason why those (fish and birds) that are not slaves to gravity should have non overlapping visual fields? That said there is a lot of variation in binocular vision in land based animals. It seems plausible that herbivore animals that are hunted such as cattle, horses, sheep, have all-round vision so that they can see where preditors are coming from, whereras carnivore animals that hunt such as cats have forward pointing eyes and "3D vision" so that they can close in for the kill.

In the world of fish and birds, do those that are carnivorous have more forward pointing, overlapping eyes? Birds of prey do not seem to have forward overlapping eyes.

Posted by timtak at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

First Person View out of Bowie's Eyes

First Person View out of Bowie's EyesIf you read this you may be damned or for other reasons, it may not be a good idea.

In Bowie's last two videos, Lazarus and Blackstar, Bowie has lost his eyes. They appear to have been replaced by bandages, a dressing, or a veil, and what look like buttons.

In his requiem, Blackstar, Bowie sings that at the centre of it all are "your eyes," and that there is also a candle in the villa of Ormen (punning on "all men").

First of all I would like to point out that the candle has a strange shape. The strange shape could just be because it has been burning for a very long time, but as far as I know, even candles that have been burning for a long time do not generally grow to that bulbous shape. Further in the top left of the frame with the candle there is what looks like a starcase and a triangle of darkness.

I think that the shape of the candle and its background can be explained as a first person view out of the skull eyes above bottom. While most of us do not usually notice, despite the fact that we see it all the time, the visual field of those with fairly long Caucasian noses is occuded such that it is darker in the areas to the sides because the view from the opposite eye is occluded by that side of the giant nose. Furthermore, "your eyes" appears to refer to the eyes of the jewelled skull, who is looking out of Major Tom's visor, which partially shades these eyes from the light. Reversing the image of the jewelled skull, so as to look out of its eyes, the visor's shadow, and the shape of the skull's nose, largely coincide with the luminosity of the image of the candle. I suggest that the view of the candle is the first person view out of the eyes of the skull or Bowie/Major Tom's visual field.

But at the same time, Bowie claims that the eyes belong to a second person: "your eyes." In this way it would seem that Bowie's eyes have been been possessed by someone. I think that the first person view out of Bowie's eyes and nose is the one that "In my madness, I see your face in mine" he mentions in "An Occasional Dream" and "your space face close to mine" that Bowie sings about in Moonage Daydream, and the face that Bowie touched in (Peggy-?) "Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)"

Going off at a tangent, perhaps, I wonder if Oedipus Rex gauged out his eyes because he was ashamed, or because he wanted to give them as an offering. From wikipedia "[Oedipus] then rages through the house, until he comes upon Jocasta's body. Giving a cry, Oedipus takes her down and removes the long gold pins that held her dress together, before plunging them into his own eyes in despair."

I had suspected that was where she might be hiding due to the size of her nose.

The above is formed from images from the video of Blackstar and Barnbrook released Artwork Elements.

More on the Peggy Sue connection

Posted by timtak at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)

With Skull Designs Upon my Shoes

With Skull Designs Upon my Shoes
Bowie's last song in his last album, Blackstar, "I Can't Give Everything Away," includes the cryptic line, "With skull designs upon my shoes." As far as I know, neither Bowie, nor any of his characters actually had shoes with skulls printed upon them.

The title of the song "I Can't Give Everything Away," may refer to his inability to give more to his fans, his need to be secretive about some things (such as his illness), some other desire for secrecy, and his inability to give away his self in the face of his mortality.

The line "With skull designs upon my shoes" may refer to the fact that the jewelled skull in Major Tom's suit, that may also have possessed or stolen the singer Bowie's eyes in the same video, "has designs upon", that is to say loves or covets, Major Tom's shoes, as shown diagrammatically in the above image.

I believe that the alter of Bowie's self was visual, that he gazed upon himself from eyes of a woman such depicted as conjoined at the neck in "Where are we now." The jewelled skull represents that woman -- unreal and therefore dead -- and the initial image of Major Tom's hands and feet are seen from "her" perspective. This is one of the ways in which he can't give everything away since he still has a feeling of diabolical love, Valentine's Day murderous love, for himself from this self-gaze.

I think it is possible, for the Japanese at least, to have a gaze "with designs upon" ones whole body, though the simulation of an externally positioned gaze of an eye in the sky, or skylight, such as in these Japanese songs and images (Masuda,et. al. 2008).

There are at least two nice ways to face death. To give everything away and merge with the "whitestar", the light of the cosmos. The other is to feel a sense of immortality, living on in the heart (read ear) or eyes of others. With his internally situated skull eyes, Bowie may have enjoyed neither. RIP ;-;

The above is formed from images from the video of Blackstar and Barnbrook released Artwork Elements.

Masuda, T., Gonzalez, R., Kwan, L., & Nisbett, R. E. (2008). Culture and aesthetic preference: Comparing the attention to context of East Asians and Americans. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(9), 1260-1275.

Posted by timtak at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)

Bowie, Bakhtin and The Starman as Superaddressee

Bowie, Bakhtin and The Starman as Superaddressee
You may be damned if you read this. Take care.

It seems to me that Blackstar is at least in part about that which Bakhtin (1986, p.126 below; see also Marková, 2006, downloadable) called the "superaddressee" (nadatresat).

Bakhtin was a literary theorist first and foremost, who wrote about the "polyphonic," Bowie-like nature of Dostoyevski characters. He believed that we create our sense of self through dialogue with imagined others. This theory has been made famous in psychology by Hermans and Kempen (1993) who coined the phrase "dialogical self," referring to the way in which our sense of self changes depending upon who we imagine we are thinking to. What Hermans and Kempen leave out, however, is Bakhtin's theory of the superaddressee. Bakhtin claimed that even as we think to our friend, mother, or boss, it would be unbearable to believe that our meanings, our selves, are limited by the understanding of these other 'addressees', and so therefore that we always also believe that we are overheard by another other: a "superaddressee". Upon this theory, therefore, humans like to be, we want to be, "bugged" (Hitchens), but who among us are aware of it?

Throughout Bowie's life, since perhaps Space Oddity, he has referred to one or more epiphanies generally using a "Starman" metaphor. His Space Oddity video featuring Major Tom and "GC" is perhaps the first, containing many of the elements that are common to subsequent re-representations: space, gender bending (this one is camp), autoscopy (a sort of mirror), and a relationship with himself.

His epiphany(s) seems to have been in part a result of his use of drugs, but more specifically as a result of loosing, and attempting to communicate indirectly with his girlfriend, Hermione Farthingale, who left him for another man while staying in the town of Ormen in Norway.

My guess from the way in which he leaves hints, that his epiphany arose from an experience of rereading "A Song to Hermione" (i.e. "Song of Norway") and finding his "superaddressee," (Bakhtin). Bowie was shot into space by the realisation that he had *not* "been writing just for Hermione Farthingale also for "the girl with mousy hair. "

That is a great way of finding a "superaddressee" by *super*addressing it. "Superaddressing" is speaking or singing to someone else, a third party, with the desire of being overheard. Had Bowie actually been writing directly to Hermione then he would not have noticed that he was also *speaking off* to "Sue," "GC" the "Starman" etc,. Instead however, Bowie wrote a song that he hoped Hermione would hear, in the same way that "The man who fell to earth" wrote songs that he hoped his alien wife would hear, Bowie "spoke off" in the hope of being overheard, and then realised that he was always doing the same super-addressing to something else*. Bowie intended to speak off, via his music, to a real girl in a villa in Ormen, but suddenly realised he had always been speaking off, in a parallel place, in a very different far more horrific kind of "villa of Ormen."

So in Blackstar, at last, the Starman appears depicted in a space suit, as the eyes of a skull, "at the centre of it all." This Starman is that which has accompanied him throughout as in random order: TVC 15, the stars that haunted his ageing couple in "The Stars are Out Tonight", one or other of the Pinups, the loving other on the cover of Hours, the Diamond Dogs (one in a bra), and the whore whose eyes he has eaten (like Kyari!) in The Next Day, and most Japanese of all, the smiling Asian-mirror-girl with whom he is Zaphod Beeblebrox, in "Where are We Now" and penultimately (Peggy?) Sue who David knows has a son (!) and with whom he committed a crime so seasonal that Bowie thinks that none need atone for it.

The opening of Blackstar sounds like "the villa of all men," as well as the "villa of the serpent, Ormen", and personally I think that the pun was intended: originally Bowie found the Starman in the semi-imaginary, villa in Ormen, but a snake of sorts, is in a villa or 'chamber' of us all, in one form or another.

Freud (1964 [1932]), Derrida (1985) and Nietzche (see Derrida, 1985) talk about the structure of the self as narration or "mourning" in riddles too. One can read Freud and come away with the impression that the Super Ego is a internalised Daddy (I did). But reading more carefully it seems clear that their "acoustic cap" "bonnet" "spirit of gravity" or "ear," is a "projective identification" (Klein, Grotstein) of mother as lover.

If this -- paedo, homo, auto-erotic incest -- was not bad enough it is also mixed up with violence since, Freud claims, there also is a dream of parricide. And, with all the hollowed assassin women in the media that proliferate since Nikita, it seems likely that the Starman is often seen, not in Bowie but in us, as a murderous accomplice. This is a simple but grotesque story. Transgender -- most men baulk -- would be enough. The key to human development, and understanding it is not intellectually difficult, but horrific. Nature came up with things so unpleasant that Nature could not countenance them and thereby created a split, thus doubling, herself. Love is two sides of the same coin with horror at its edge. Thus, as Nietzsche says, "how much truth can you bear"? Bowie said "lots!"

A possible advantage of Bowie's spirituality over that of say Chopra, Tolle, or Harris, is that it explains to an extent the dark edge which is also the mechanism by which the spirit and super-addressee remains "super," hidden in the wings of the stage, so that we feel ourselves to be addressing only others and ourselves. It is the horrific, auto-erotic, gender bending, incestual, violent aspects of the super-addressee that keeps it hidden, and the self (or ego) arises as a guilty ego with this hidden alter.

Bowie's saxophonist claimed (since retracted) a link with IS. I am not much of a "truther" but the notion that we are creating fictitious murderous accomplices so as to be able to control their real counterparts seems to be a extrogection of the structure of the self. Patriarchy found out how to obtain power via a cranial Nikita, and then perhaps the horror became real and wandered around the Levant making YouTube videos. If true, it would be mind blowing, and a way in which an "unveiling" could occur.

The "Blackstar" title sounds fairly straightforward. Indeed it seems to me that the same metaphor - a black hole - is used both in psychoanalysis of Grotstein and Bion (see Potter, 2013, p60) and even perhaps with among the physics community (at least in the comments to this Black Hole video).

We are faced with a mirror or circle of light which is not anything but us, but we presume that we are the darkness, the blackness, the Blackstar, before it. We are as in the words of the song, "upside down" and the "wrong way round". The notion of being inverted is also found in "The Truth Contest with Religion" (see diagram at the bottom)
The Headless way which is based upon Douglas Harding's interpretation of the straightforward observations of Ernst Mach (recommended)

Returning to Christianity it seems that Bowie believed in the death, but perhaps not the resurrection of Christ.

"Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
(I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)"

This may be a too literal reading, but (the holy) spirit in Christian parlance is the ear, but it stepped aside. I get the feeling that Bowie's Christ replaced the hidden dialogue (of Bakhtin, Freud, Mead, Derrida and Space Oddity) with a Japanese, Super-Mario style (Masuda, 2010) ocularcentric self, looking down upon himself from a metre above. but has yet to allow "the stars to fall" so that we become one with our light; we have blackstar eyes. Is this a Christian or anti-Christian notion? Lucifer is the light bearer, but Christ is the morning star and the light of the world.

I tend to see the West as phonocentric but, perhaps if one is properly born again Christian, one turns into David Bowie/ Major Tom/ Mario/ Japanese. Do born-againers *see* themselves? I shall find a born again forum and ask.

1) This is exactly how I became aware of my own doing the same thing, when writing a diary that I think that I hoped would be read by someone else, who I was in love with. Whammy! If you want to channel Bowie, then write a blog, poem, song, ostensibly to the general public, in the hope that someone you love reads it. Deliberately and consciously "superaddress" in order to become aware of the superaddressing that you do unconsciously.

2) It may be relevant that the words of the Lords Prayer evoke a third party to the prayer, "*our* Father," "*our* daily bread," "*our* trespasses," as if even in the privacy of prayer there is someone else there, and feels to me that some "super-addressing" is be going on.

3) The centrality of names in chants and mantras, seems very superaddressy. In my state of monstrous sin, I have taken up Amidism in which one chants the name of the Amida Buddha or "I put my faith in the name of the Amida Budda", or in a sense, "I love Hermione." I know I want that gender neutral giant made of light to hear, but I refer to the Amida Buddha by name. "I love Amida Buddha". This nominalism seems to be quintessence of super-addressing. Amida, Hermione, the girl with the mousy hair, in the image, overhear me!

4)I feel bathed in Bowie-love, all my favourite Bowie tracks have taken on a new meaning (Starman!), and that I am not living in a world populated only by Mel Gibson. Phew. But then again, Gibson warns against the hermaphrodite Satan that over-watches, whereas Bowie glorified it and said none need atone.

5) The above image is a gimmick. It is a morph of me, Bowie and the Blackstar but to be truer to the horrific reality I could have morphed the wicked witch with a blackstar. Repent!

6) Here follows, Bakhtin on the Super-addressee and Hell in full 126 to 127
“The person who understands inevitably becomes a third party in the dialogue (of course, not in the literal sense, arithmetical sense, for there can be , in addition to a third, an unlimited number of participants in the dialogue being understood, but the dialogic position of this third party is quite a special one. Any utterance always has an addressee (of various sorts, with varying degrees of proximity, concreteness, awareness, and so forth). This is the second party (again not in an arithmetical sense). But in addition to this addressee (the second party), the author of the utterance, with greater or lesser awareness, presupposes a higher superaddressee (third), whose absolutely just responsive understanding is presumed, either in some metaphysical distance or in distant historical time (the loophole addressee). In various ages and with various understandings of the world, this superaddressee and his ideally responsive understanding assume various ideological expressions (God, absolute truth, the court of dispassionate human conscience, the people, the court of history, science, and so forth).

The author can never turn over his whole self and his speech work to complete and final will of addressees who are on hand or nearby (after all, even the closest descendants can be mistaken), and always presupposes (with a greater or lesser degree of awareness) some higher instancing of responsive understanding that can distance itself in various directions. Each dialogue takes place as if against the background of an invisibly present third party who stands above all the participants in the dialogue (partners)(Cf, the understanding of the Fascist torture chamber or hell in Thomas Mann as absolute lack of being heard, as the absolute absence of a third party.)

The aforementioned third party is not any mystical or metaphysical being (although, given a certain understanding of the world, he can be expressed as such) - he is a constitutive aspect of the whole utterance, (127) who, under deeper analysis, can be revealed in it... For the word (and, consequently, for a human being) there is nothing more terrible than a lack of response. Even a word that is known to be false is not absolutely false, and always presupposes an instance that will understand and justify it, even if in the form: ‘anyone in my position would have lied, too’ ... the word moves ever forward in search of responsive understanding” (pp.126-127).

More notes
References to light in the New Testament

Light in a Spotless Mirror

Lucifer means Morning Star or light bearer. But there is also "I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. (C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Eds., V. W. McGee, Trans.) (Second Printing). University of Texas Press. Retrieved from
Derrida, J., & McDonald, C. (1985). The ear of the other: otobiography, transference, translation : texts and discussions with Jacques Derrida. New York: Schocken Books.
Freud, S. (1964). New introductory lectures, in the Standard Edition. (Strachey, James, Trans.) (Vol. 22). London: Hogarth Press.
Gibson, M. (2004). The Passion of the Christ. Retrieved from
Grotstein, J. S. (1990). Nothingness, Meaninglessness, Chaos, and the ‘Black Hole’ I. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 26(2), 257–290.
Hermans, H. J. M., & Kempen, H. J. G. (1993). The Dialogical Self: Meaning as Movement. Academic Press.
Marková, I. (2006). On the inner alter in dialogue. International Journal for Dialogical Science, 1(1), 125–147. Retrieved from
Mead, G. H. (1967). Mind, self, and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist (Vol. 1). The University of Chicago Press.
Potter, B. (2013). Elements of Self-Destruction. Karnac Books.
増田貴彦. (2010). ボスだけを見る欧米人 みんなの顔まで見る日本人. 講談社.

Addendum (Big Mistake)
"My head" is inside my narrative and field of view, not the other way around! This is a very important point and the danger of the scientific worldview. The scientific world is a product of our narration as even some scientists a vow (Wheeler, Mach). Our head is also something we see in our field of view in mirrors, or our nose and brow directly. Our perceptions (including of our whispers) are not inside "me" or my body. To think so would be double death.

Posted by timtak at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)

Mr. Valentine: Bowie was almost Japanese

Mr. Valentine: Bowie was almost JapaneseBowie was my first hero, when I was about 13 or 14, and now 35 years plus later, he remains my last. Now, after his death, and watching three of his last (Valentine's Day, Lazarus, and Blackstar) it seems to me that David Bowie was Japanese. I had always suspected it.

The sixties themed pop tune "Valentine's Day" has been argued to be a critique on gun violence (or the glamorisation and sexification of guns) since it starts and ends with the Charlton Heston pose (0:05 3:01, as above, guitar raised like a gun), shadows looking like a gun, guitar used as gun, bullet flying across the frets, his aiming and shooting of a make believe gun, the shadow of his guitar changing to that of a gun both during the Heston pose, and later in the song at 2:24 where the shadow of his guitar turns into a Tommy gun such as was used in "Valentine's Day Massacre".

There may be clues in the names. There were at least two massacres on Valentine's Day. "Teddy and Judy" may be gun shooting victims (I can find no real ones) or a reference to the pair in The Kinks "Waterloo Sunset" to which perhaps this song has a resemblance. Mr. Valentine is sometimes referred to as Johnny Valentine in an interview with a co-creator.

Someone else in the YouTube comments suggests that Valentine's Day may be about death in general which seems quite plausible to me, especially since the shadows behind Bowie sometimes seem to be that of a grim reaper (1:54) reaping Bowie (2:54).

The rest is my, rather off the wall, take in which I agree that the song is about death, but a self inflicted death, and possible rebirth.

First of all the Charlton Heston pose is also Heston's "my cold dead hands" pose: the pose of death.

I note that when Bowie sings about the face and hands of Mr. Valentine he is also showing us his own face (e.g. 0:55) or looking at his own hands (2:06 2:38), so I wonder if he may be referring to his own visual image which is icy and, like all images, dead. Our self images are also surprisingly "little" like Mr. Valentine (as one can convince oneself by drawing around the image of your face in a mirror, I think that this is why Noh masks see below are small).

This song reminds me of the first lines of his first pop video where he refers to himself as being small, and loving this image till a certain day "Love you till Tuesday"

Bearing in mind that Bowie is double, from the cover of Pinups and Hours, the smiling Asian Zaphod to whom he is conjoined at the head in "Where are we Now" and there are dead female eyes in all our minds, as claimed in Blackstar, Valentine's visual image may be paired up with the eyes. I.e. we love ourselves as images with the eyes of another in our minds. [ In this regard, I wonder if Bowie fell in love with his wife partly due to her name Iman, I man, eyeman, his Eve see below. ]

I claim that this is the structure of the Japanese self: the eye or mirror of the other Amaterasu and their face or "mask" (Watsuji). Usually Westerners however narrate themselves (Freud, Mead, Bruner, Bakhtin, etc) so the eyes in Blackstar would ordinarily be effeminate ears (c.f. Freud's "acoustic cap" "bonnet" or Nietzsche's ears, or Derrida's "Ear of the Other"). I think that Jones, Major Tom, Bowie, Ziggy, the Thin White Duke and Mr. Valentine had a tendency to narrate himself in the 3rd person, and identified with his image.

From this perspective we may be killing ourselves as we live, making a a dead image of ourselves, "falling to earth." Our true being is our consciousness but we believe that we are in the black hole that we believe to be in front of our light. Instead of living as our being, as the white star, we are turned inside out. In this situation death, "Valentines Day", or (Love you till) Tuesday, when we give up on that love affair, may conversely be life, a rebirth. Bowie may be alluding to this possibility in Lazarus.

The Biblical representation the eyes or ears in our heart may be Eve a comforter made out of our hearts, who we can replace with Jesus, or Amitabha for instance.

I should like to do a Charlton Heston Bowie Pose, when I die am reborn. I should be so lucky.

Posted by timtak at 03:10 PM | Comments (0)

The Girl With the Mousy Hair

The Girl With the Mousy Hair "The girl with the mousy hair" who features in Bowie's song "Is their life on Mars" is sometimes thought to be Hermione Farthingale because she appears to have gone to join, or watch, the movies like his x-girlfriend. But, as Hermione herself points out her hair was red.

It was Bowie's hair (see insert bottom right) that was mousy in the late sixties and the girl with the mousy hair was the vast goddess that he found staring out of his own eyes. Hence in Blackstar, the girl with mousy hair has a "sexy" mousy tail. This vast and terrible goddess of the eyes generally remains hidden but Bowie found her watching (like TVC15, the lady to whom he is conjoined in "Where Are we Now," and Newton's Alien wife, and the angel that comes out of the TV in Lazarus, and the whore whose eyeballs we have eaten from "The Next Day"). She has been known by many names. Here in Japan I think she is called the Sun Goddess and the Amida Buddha (who is neutre) but Starman might be equally appropriate. Compared to his or her vastness, Bowie and I are "a god awful small affair," "tiny," "mice," merely "stardust." This difference in scale, and reality, is also expressed by the line "Mickey Mouse has ground up a cow!" To the vast cow of our big self, our small self is but Mickey Mouse.

Bowie attempted to represent the terrifying vastness of scale of the first person, effeminised, big self in his Life on Mars video, with the close ups of his eyes. I thought he was just being theatrical but, on the contrary, he was expressing it how it is.

It is less that "she" should come out, than I should get my dust off her mirror. I am in her, not the other way around. That skull should not, I think, be inside Major Tom's suit. Major Tom, like many Japanese superheros (sentai, and kamen riders) is the suit, just a "trembling" image, characters in Popeye cartoons upon which Bowie's and friends trembling dance dance in Blackstar was based.

The above image is not even an attempt at a faithful representation of what Bowie saw, but more of a composite graphic to show the elements that were present visually and in the abstract. Bowie's first Space Oddity video, which is of a mirror of sorts, is far more faithful, genius representation! But in that the girl(s) appeared. I think they should not. It should be their mirror, their view but they should not appear. I think it would be possible to do better than both using a camera upon which is draped a mousy haired wig, such that one can only see various wisps of blurred hair obscuring the round (or ideally oval) Space Oddity image, in the manner of this mock-up, of my first person view which due to my baldness shows only my (?) eyebrows. I may attempt to make a more faithful image, but first an attempt at some lyrics.

It's all so petty, and how
Looking down on a town like Slough
The people so small though, like wow!
To the girl with the bushy brow

Made from Barnbrooks' Blackstar Artwork and Image of Bowie in 1969 and the candle and skull images from the Blackstar video.

1) When I made this vide about the horror of City views I was speaking purely theoretically but bearing in mind that I think that the Japanese are autoscopic or represent themselves visually, and watching this Bowie video, it seems to me that there is probably a quite uncanny aspect to viewing platforms for the Japanese.
2) Starman and Ultraman have a lot in common. They are both alien giants from the world of light or the movies, twinned with a tiny existance, Ziggy Stardust, and Hayata.
3)The same difference in scale, reality and the first person nature of the big self is expressed in the following three lines from The Man who Sold the World.
We passed upon the stair, we spoke of was and when
Although I wasn't there, he said I was his friend
Which came as some surprise I spoke into his eyes

Posted by timtak at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)

Gary Faulkner's Blackstar

Gary Faulkner's BlackstarGary Brooks Faulkner is a man who, as "an army of one", attempted find the world's most wanted criminal, Osama Bin Laden, in a cave and bring him to justice.

A number of psychologists posit the need for an internalised other, someone else in our head as it were, in order that we can have a sense of self, since judgement and cognition must always be, by its nature, from a perspective apart. Adam Smith (Smith, 2002 [1759]) said that we can't judge our actions unless we are able to separate ourselves from their actor. Mead (1967) and Bakhtin (1986, p. 126) claim that we can't understand our linguistic self representations, our thoughts, unless we simulate how they are heard by an other.

At the same time, while we are aware of simulating our friends before we talk to them and when we miss them, other than the theists amongst us (and even many of them too, see Endo Shusaku's "Silence", 1980), we are rarely aware of sharing our mind with another, live in lodger. How could this mind-mate have been hidden? Perhaps these psychologists are wrong, and we do not have any such cranial comforter at all?

Freud is among those very few that explain the disappearance of our imaginary friend: due to guilt, or a very grave sense of unpleasantness. Freud is quite cagey about the nature of the super-ego or "hearing cap" (Freud, 1961, p.23..24) that we wear on one side of our mind, but a close reading suggests to me that it is a simulated mother (not father). This ghost remains hidden, Freud argues, due to at least two types of unpleasantness. Firstly we have fantasised a parricide -- that we have killed our own father -- and secondly fantasised a sexually loving (erotic) relationship we have with 'her'.

I am unaware of Freud ever arguing in this way, but with all the Nikita type heroines that proliferate in the media these last 20 years, we may imagine that our imaginary friend is a friendly assassin: our murderous accomplice. This melange of mother, lover, and assassin is, understandably, so unpleasant that our our guilt forces it out of our consciousness. We speak 'off' to her, hiding in a cave or prison somewhere in the 'Khyber Pass' our minds.

But why do we do this? For the individual, 'listening to oneself speak' has self-esteem benefits. We are able to engage in positive self-speech, and self-praise. Our self-comforting words are, as a result, not merely fiat, hollow, remembered sounds but words with meaning, lovingly addressed and received. For society, the system has a stabilising effect since while our hidden friend is far from "impartial," (Smith, 2002 [1759]) she is based on a human so we view our acts with a degree of objectivity, and thus moral censure. Our self-speech may not be free will, but perhaps that which encourages "free won't" (Libet, 1999; Obhi & Haggard, 2004, p360). Furthermore, our imaginary friend encourages us to find her personification in the world, and get married. On the downside, feminists (Kristeva, 1982) have claimed that the fantasy of the bad, "abject" female, allows men to treat their wives as her personification and dominate them.

Before returning to Mr. Faulkner, I'd like to consider a controversial hypothesis regarding Osama Bin Laden. It is claimed by some that Bin Laden was an associate of a part of the American establishment. Some in the "truth" community allege further that the "Osama Bin Laden lead attack on the USA," was in fact a way of justifying the invasion and control of the Middle East and its resources, and further by this means allow the USA and its allies to accrue power and wealth. Under this hypothesis, while Osama Bin Laden was a real person, his role as the leader of attacks was a very empowering fantasy.

It seems to me that, were the "truth" hypothesis to be correct, there would have been a duplication of fantasies. One the one hand, according to Freud, we may have created a fantasy bad-girl, in the "Blackstar" cave of our minds, by means of whom we, Western logocentric, self-narrating men, back up our positive self-speech and control real women. On the other hand, according to the truth conspiracy theorists, we created a fantasy bad guy, in a real cave, by means of which we control his real brethren, their resources and back-up our currency. This duplication would suggest that the solitary, guilty, psychological fantasy had been brought forth as a monstrous demimonde.

Mr. Faulkner had a fantasy when he was a child that he would find Bin Laden in a cave, and capture him, bring him out to justice. He would get to the cave without his feet ever touching the ground. He would not see "Binny Boy," but he would know "he" is back there in the darkness. Perhaps, in the sense outlined above, Gary is, or will be, vindicated. At the very least, his attempt to bring the worlds most wanted criminal to justice, is to be made into a movie, Army of One, starring Nicholas Cage.

The above image a composite of Mr. Gary Faulkner's Booking photo, Hamid Mir's photo of Bin Laden, and a cut out of David Bowie's mousy hair.

Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. (C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Eds., V. W. McGee, Trans.) (Second Printing). University of Texas Press. Retrieved from
Endō, S. (1980). Silence. Parkwest Publications.
Freud, S. (1961). The ego and the id. Standard Edition, 19: 12-66. London: Hogarth Press. Retrieved from
Kristeva, J. (1982). Powers of horror (Vol. 98). Columbia University Press New York.
Libet, B. (1999). Do we have free will? Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6(8-9), 47–57. Retrieved from
Mead, G. H. (1967). Mind, self, and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist (Vol. 1). The University of Chicago Press.
Obhi, S., & Haggard, P. (2004). Free Will and Free Won’t Motor activity in the brain precedes our awareness of the intention to move, so how is it that we perceive control?, 358–365. Retrieved from
Smith, A. (2002). Adam Smith: The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Cambridge University Press.
Addendum (Big Mistake)
"My head" is inside my narrative and field of view, not the other way around! This is a very important point and the danger of the scientific worldview. The scientific world is a product of our narration as even some scientists a vow (Wheeler, Mach). Our head is also something we see in our field of view in mirrors, or our nose and brow directly. Our perceptions (including of our whispers) are not inside "me" or my body. To think so would be double death.

Posted by timtak at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)

Layers of Self: After Torlino and the Kojiki

Layers of Self: After Torlino and the Kojiki
(1) Izanagi and Izanami's "oil on the water," the Biblical "light" as phenomena as seperate to self. It should not have an edge, but it is elisoidal, like the universe.

(2) Izanagi's nose and brow, the rim of the eyes: The birth of Susano and Amaterasu. Hairy giants from the Bible such as Samson and Absalom. The Wolf Man. "The Girl with the Mousey Hair." Bowie's "skull" and "your eyes."

3) The meeting of Susano and Ameterasu perhaps. First person body views. Paleolithic Venus figurines including Dogu. Spider women of the Navaho, "Maman", Bowies "Glass Spider." Ultraman. Freud's 21 year old patient who used to exclaim "partriarsy!" "Your mother" who has feet. The whore. The distinction between (2) and (3) are blurred and are sometimes represented as being the same layer, or wanting to be perhaps ("Skull designs upon my feet").

4) Mirror stage third person body view. The Japanese perhaps.

5) The narrative self. Dennet. Fictional. Bad news. "Whisperers." Vigotsky. Mead. Bakhtin. Freud.

I think that the may coexist, blur, make friends with and rape each other, and re-emerge.

Only the last linguistic one can't be represented as a photoshop layer but Mr. Torlino does mention speaking, and Virginia Woolf in "To the Lighthouse" has words floating through trees, I think the phonolinguistic can, or must, be thought of as a layer: writing.

I think that it is important to note that while they may be layered, they are layers with no depth, flat upon the same plane, "mamelle" (Lacan), or mirror. The "layers", like perspective, are really just frames that which give the illusion of depth and plurality.

Bearing this all in mind I think it succinct to say I am a fantasy my mother has, or had. Chanting "Thank you," which is a Kurozumi prayer to the sun or mirror Goddess, I find myself puzzled as to who is thanking whom.

Posted by timtak at 03:04 PM | Comments (0)

Gas Gang: My Origin Myth

Gas Gang: My Origin MythI have my earliest memories from when I was about three and started to narrate myself in a battle ground adventure. My recent post regarding Gary Faulkner reminded me the name of that adventure: "Gary's Gas Gang." I used to fantasise about being in "Gary's Gas Gang." Where Gary was the leader of an army called his "Gas Gang."

I think that "Gary" may have been the name of the boy that suggested the "Gas Gang" fantasy to me, and or may have been partly motivated by its initial letter which is that same as that of the name of my father Gordon and God.

I have never understood the origin of Gas Gang. Googling "Gas Gang" just now I find that the "Gas Gang," I nurdled about to myself may be based on the 1964 story of the "Gas Gang" who were 'gas robots' in the DC comic "Metal Men"!

That's me! A "gas robot" made almost entirely of my own breath (i.e. my self is my self narration, as Daniel Dennet argues). Back in those days in the fantasy of my imagination, I, as a narrative entity, would keep dying and coming back to life. During the part where I had died I can remember keeping very still and presumably silent - a beance in the narrative - before, after much apparent sadness on the part of the rest of the gas gang, being ressurected with an "Its okay folks I am still here." This seems to have been a kind of mental "Fort Da" ("inai inai ba") game by which means I demonstrated to myself that I could take it or leave it but quite soon afterwards I became unable to turn it off. Interestingly the Gas Gang were a group of bad robots. Perhaps by basing my first narrative on 'a bad gaseous robot' was a result of the vague realisation that what was being created was not entirely a good thing.

I like Platinum the silver reflective (one presumes) female robot that thinks that she is a girl and loves her creator.

Daniel Dennet says the self in self narrative is a centre of gravity, providing a central focus, or flag to rally to arms our various and conflicting desires. But at the same time, like a centre of gravity it has no existence in the real physical world; it is a purely narrative, theoretical or even fictional entity. I am not sure how central my self is but I think that Dennet is right to say that my self is fiction. I think that he is however wrong to contrast that with the physical world since as Nietzche, Bohm and Mach argue, physical entities are no more than narrative fictions, or theories regarding phenomena either. Dennet also makes no mention of a need for a simulated or real other to hear and understand the narrative, contra theorist like Mead, Bakhtin, and Freud.

Posted by timtak at 03:04 PM | Comments (0)

Barlachs Angel As First Person Starman

Barlachs Angel As First Person Starman
After looking at the close-ups in the video for Bowie's Life on Mars, about "the girl with the mousy hair," who watches, I feel sure that, as I had suspected, my inner girl and other to my self, Eve, is hidden in my first person view (McDermott, 1996). But contra the palaeolithic figures analysed by Mc. Dermott (1996), and myself, for the most part all I can see are two ghostly noses leaving a wine glass shape mid-screen, a massive oval of light and my bushy brows. As I type now I can just about see my forearms and hands. If I were standing, 'the girl with the bushy brows' would look something like the first person view presented to Ernst Barlach's Floating Angel (for which, in German,the above images are the Google image search).

Barlach's Hovering Angel appears to be a representation of a first person view because
1) She has a large nose. If I were to make a sculpture to represent my first person view, I might make one of a free-standing giant nose.

2) She has heavy, symmetrical, arched brow. The bushiness of my brow forms the roof of my window on the world. It is arched I believe less because my brows are arched but becomes my visual field is arched. Unlike Bowie, who could see his own mousy hair on his inner, first person girl, I am bald so I can only see by eyebrows but even they they are bigger than buildings. That hair, and lots of it, should figure in mythology, on giants, is no surprise if they are writing about he loss of our first person view to a goddess, or jewelled demon.

3) Its eyes are enormous. The world world fits into them. The tower of the university library outside my window is not one tenth of the height of her eyes. That her eyes appear closed may be, as I suggested of similar eyes of Japanese Doguu figurines, that it is easiest to see her with ones eyes almost such, as is a recommended practice in Zen meditation.

4) Despite the face of the angel bearing a resemblance to the male artist, the angel is wearing a dress. This is the thing that keeps her apart from me most, perhaps. I am man enough to feel extremely uncomfortable looking at the world through the eyes of a woman.

5) The angel is caressing herself as are many of Barlach's statues! Barlach's statue of a singer holding his own "leg", could also be interpreted to be holding a his own engorged member, as is entirely appropriate from Derrida's analysis of hearing oneself speak, let alone sing, as "auto-affection"(Derrida, 1998, p.165; 2011, p68).

6) The angel is always hovering, "on Mars", in the stars, and yet seeming to anchor everything else at the same time. I only feel her move when falling metaphorically, or skating, and skiing physically. I think it is at these times that I feel like I am hovering with her.

Derrida, J. (1998). Of grammatology. (G. C. Spivak, Trans.). JHU Press.
Derrida, J. (2011). Voice and Phenomenon: Introduction to the Problem of the Sign in Husserl’s Phenomenology. Northwestern Univ Pr.
McDermott, L. R. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275.

Posted by timtak at 03:02 PM | Comments (0)

Tragedy of the Commons: Hardin, Nash, and Smith

Tragedy of the Commons: Hardin, Nash, and Smith
The above image is a first person field of vision view of the central text of Garrett Hardin's "Tragedy of the Commons" (Hardin, 1968).

Hardin's seminal paper seems to me to be propelled by a societal, macro scale application of the game theory of John Forbes Nash (1951) but I may be wrong.

I have just been marking papers by students from Asia where I asked them to summarize Hardin's idea. Many of them invoked a lack of rationality, a lack of freedom, or inequality as a means to explain the tragedy that seems to follow from Hardin's application of rational self-interest to shared resources. None of these negatives are required or implied. Hardin claims that equal, free, rational, self-interest leads to tragedy in a situation where resources are bounded. Hardin uses the example of shepherds deciding whether to graze another cow on common land. Each additional head of cattle they add results in more utility to themselves than the negative impact upon the land, and decrease in their utility, which will be divided by the number of persons utilizing it.

Since resources are bounded on earth, then we better hope that humans do not act according to free rational self interest.

What might prevent a tragedy of this sort from arising? First of all people may also care about the utility accrued by other people. This is where game theory may propel the tragedy. Even as, or perhaps especially because, the shepherds think rationally about the utility of others, they will know that others will be faced with the same dilemma, and be aware that if only a proportion of the remaining shepherds are acting out of rational self interest, then they better head for the tragic Nashi equilibria before others do.

Another hopeful possibility is that shepherds will think about the big picture which is the ensuing tragedy. If they take a step back from a rational computation of the utility of each action and judge their actions as a whole, aesthetically then they may refrain from taking the road to rational ruin.

It then occurred to me that this is one of the advantages of holistic (Masuda and Nisbett, 2001), and possibly visual (Nacalian), East Asian thought. If we don't just look at ourselves from the lens of language, but in the mirror of our mind then we may better avoid the tragedy that rational self interest may be propelling us towards.

Perhaps that is why Adam Smith (2002[1751?]) was so upbeat about self-interest since his "impartial spectator" may indeed have been a spectator who reflected and felt, or felt a lack of, self-sympathy. I think we need more Japanese self-sight and less secret mumbling in the dark (rationality) soon. As Harding himself said, "picture a pasture..." (Hardin, 1968, p. 1243)

Hardin, G. (1968). The tragedy of the commons. Science, 162(3859), 1243–1248. Retrieved from
Masuda, T., & Nisbett, R. E. (2001). Attending holistically versus analytically: comparing the context sensitivity of Japanese and Americans. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(5), 922. Retrieved from
NASH JUNIOR, J. F. (1951). Non-cooperative games. Annals of Mathematics, 54(2).
Smith, A. (2002). Adam Smith: The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Cambridge University Press.

Posted by timtak at 03:00 PM | Comments (0)

Song of the Spider Woman

Song of the Spider Woman
In Navajo mythology the Spider Woman, who is sometimes said to weave reality, helps four boys go in search of their father, the sun.

The Spider Woman teaches the boys the following song, "which, if repeated to their enemies, would subdue their anger:
"Put your feet down with pollen.
Put your hands down with pollen.
Put your head down with pollen.
Then your feet are pollen;
Your hands are pollen;
Your body is pollen;
Your mind is pollen;
Your voice is pollen.
The trail is beautiful.
Be still."
(Mathews, 1897, p.109)

The boys set off to find their father the sun, and on the way avoid a variety of dangers by stepping in and out of them four times, before they become trapped, by repeating the Spider Woman's song.
It has seemed to me that as I cycle, in a posture similar to that of Pacing Kendan, pictured dancing above, that my arms and legs pacing on the air beneath them, are very small compared to my visual field, in which there was, or is, a jellyfish or octopus woman. My arms and legs, thin like tentacles, could also be those of the Spider Woman, beneath whose feet is the vast expanse of the day. Ah, so that is what Muhammad meant, peace be upon him! The Spider Woman is, judging from the web design of "dream catchers" an orb weaver spider (araneid) whose diet consists in part of pollen. I am food. The Hindus are right too.

Spider Image: Mother (Maman)! by Louise Bourgeois, by Radagast (I have just realised the title of the spider sculpture. Ms. Bourgeous knew! Ha. Peace be upon her too.)

Pacing Kendan imitating Yebichai by Edward S. Curtis, National Library of Congress.

Matthews, W. (1897). Navaho Legends. American Folk-Lore Society. fact that the spider sings and eats pollen (a powder), and that the Navajo make their myth pictures in sand is related to the way that Bowie's women scrape around in sand in the Blackstar video, The Jean Genie (a genie that came out of his jeans, out of a view of his legs?), Newton's alien wife in "The Man who Fell to Earth", and perhaps "The Secret Life of Arabia". I don't understand why they are scraping in sand, but granularity reminds me of the Planck constant, holographic principle, Bohm, Wheeler and quantum physics in general.

"We were born upside down" (Blackstar) is apparent.

The way Bowie's hands are in front of his face, with that weird expression, on the cover of Heroes, is a mime of the experience of the first person Spidey view, which I can sniff now as I tap my tablet. Bowie's hands like Pacing Kendan's are in front of his face.

The end of Adam Ant's "Goody Two Shoes Video", where he stares down at himself, in a room filling with smoke, is up the same tree.

That my cycling glasses have effeminate red rims is appropriate for the Spider Granny. She likes them.

None of Bowie, the Bible, the Navajo, or the sculptor say it straight. Derrida and Mel Gibson, neither. The sculptor did explain why she created giant spiders called "mother", but she gave a obfuscating reason. 'They both weave'. True. What about poor old scientists, that don't read myths, or view modern art? That is my excuse.

[I will say it again straight. (Do not read this if you do not want to be damned). When we are young we learn to see ourselves as our reflections and as "I" and our names which are surely not us, but watching and listening to such representations is so much fun from the simulated eyes or ears of our mother, whom we love so much. Later, many of us have sexual relations between our simulated moms and self-representations, and at that point the whole thing is so utterly gross that we lose cognizeance of it. So, like the Spider Woman, (s)he goes underground. We live the rest of our lives as a nasty porn fiction, often doing bad things to others. We need to stop, repent, and or thank the Spider Woman, as Jesus or Amida, or in many other ways, curb the self lurve that we have for, and our identification with, our self-representations. There, that was brief. Too brief. The reason why this is damning is because *it can not be said*. Being itself is, saying it is, this horrible peado, porno, auto-erotic, selfish sin.]

It looks hellish too (above), and depending upon that which you are doing with the spider it is, but a lot of the horror is the surprise. I don't mean to condone self lurve at all, contra Bowie but, the Navajo grew up with stories of the Spider Granny so they'd be less surprised to meet her. It will blow Dawkin's mind however, I guess. Is this not cruelty to scientists? A lot of them are nice, and meek (except in their science) even. My prayers are for scientists.

It is nice the way the sculptor has her spider carring marble "eggs" in a sack beneath her belly, where for my money her eyes ate (Freudian slip for "are"). The marble eggs are that which we can now see, the universe. There is a Spidermum in Tokyo, at the Mori Art Museum, and I'd like to go and see it, before I lose my marbles.

Other factoids
The spider originated as part of the Diné Creation Story. The spider woman brought artistic ability to the Diné people, especially rug weavers. Spider Woman was very intelligent and creative. An orb weaving spider web (like a dream catcher) taken from the ceiling of a hogan or out in nature and rubbed on the hands of a young girl, during her puberty ceremony into womanhood, will bring her artistic ability and creative knowledge like the Spider Woman. The spider is also used in ceremonies for protection and victory. Spiders should be respected, not killed.
Orb-weaving spiders (Araneidae) are commonly regarded as generalist insect predators but resources provided by plants such as pollen may be an important dietary supplementation. Their webs snare insect prey, but can also trap aerial plankton like pollen and fungal spores. When recycling their orb webs, the spiders may therefore also feed on adhering pollen grains or fungal spores via extraoral digestion.

And, Bowie too uses the same metaphor!
Take My Tip

(David Bowie)

You think you're gonna please her
So you walk right up and tease her
But she walks right on by
You're scared to walk beside her
'Cos you're playing with the spider who possess the sky
She got the green backs, my-oh-my
You gotta act tall, think big, if you wanna make a mark in her book
Gotta get ahead, get a car, fancy clothes
Or she'll throw you right off her hook
Here's the news - you are but one fish in her back garden scene
Gonna make like a shark to be free
Something bad on your mind
Take my tip - get on out
Take my tip - get on out

I am sailing a bit too close to the wind of madness, but I am chuffed to have worked out what "Your heaven is under your mother's feet" means. I liked the sooth before I understood what it meant. Now I think I know. Not many people know that:-)

McDermott (1996, and Davids) taught me the reason. All over the world a long time ago, people made "Venus figurines" that were deformed, seemingly to make them more feminine but in fact, as well as the femininity, they were first person views and for that reason had thin, spidery, lower legs. These palaeolithic peoples made these Venus figurines in order to remember that which is embedded in our first person views. When you look at your own feet, from whose eyes do you see those feet? The answer is from your mother's eyes. You, or at least I, look at my own feet from the eyes of my simulated mother, a Venus. And if you do not see them, your feet, (whose feet? your mother's feet!) from your mother's eyes, then what? You'd see, and be, in heaven. The important point is to get rid of this self-consumptive love, this ouroboros before dying.

McDermott, L. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227-275.h

The mother's feet thing is so profound. One is not meant to know what that means nor to tell anyone about it. Damn. I knew too much.

Posted by timtak at 02:59 PM | Comments (0)

She Garottes You in the End

She Garottes You in the EndThe Gagarino Double Venus meets the Bolito scene (which I have not been able to watch to its conclusion!).

I think that the double Venus of Gagarino (lower image above) does not represent a couple but the two, male and female sides of a single human. The longer right hand side of the conjoined figure, is the "me" representation that I see myself as reflected in mirrors, and typical of the way I see other people. The shorter bulbous representation is my first person view (McDermott, 1996). The latter may be haunted or possessed by a woman, or Mephistopheles (Nishida), that I imagine to be looking out of my eyes, out of my subjectivity. This demoniacal presence may allow me to make a completely contradictory identification of a consciousness, with a mirror image me-representation or any other representation in words or images of myself. This is what Nishida (1965) means when he says "at the bottom of the world we (think we) see directly is the devil (original Japanese below)" In any event, unfortunately, the two sides of the statue only have one head.

Cormack McArthy describes the bolito, an automatic garotting device that appears in the recent film "The Counselor," in the following way.
"…A mechanical device. It has this small electric motor with this incredible compound gear that retrieves a steel cable. Battery driven. The Cable is made out of some unholy alloy, almost impossible to cut it, and it’s on a loop, and you come up behind the guy and drop it over his head and pull the free end of the cable tight and walk away. No one even sees you. Pulling the cable activates the motor and the noose starts to tighten and it continues to tighten until it goes to zero…It cuts the guy’s head off…How long does it take?…Three, four minutes. Five Maybe…Depending on your collar size…The wire cuts through the carotid arteries and sprays blood all over the spectators and everybody goes home…the fingers of one hand caught in the wire now being severed and the wire drawing into his neck. His collar is red with blood. He sits down on the pavement and kicks his feet, as if in annoyance. Almost like a petulant child. Pedestrians have begun to stop although at a distance. The gearmotor of the bolito is grinding. He falls over, kicking. His left carotid artery bursts and bright red blood sprays in a fountain into the air and splashes back on the sidewalk. The spectators draw back. "

It seems to me that if one lives ones life as the imaginary sex friend of a simulated mother, letting her narrate yourself into her ear, then, it may be the case that at death one realises what one always knew was going on. In which case I may experience the same sense of automatic, self-administered, inevitability, the same "petulance" since I will be reduced to my true-fictional status as a child, and the same garrotting since "homo fabulans" (Nishida, 1965) -- the human as bed time story -- starts and ends in the Adam's apple. I don't want to get used to this horror, and I don't think that I will watch the video (unless I see the film). I want to be able to do something about this.

Quite coincidentally, Hiroshi Daifuku, one of the authors quoted in the page about the The Gagarino Double Venus may have been interested in this palaeolithic phenomenon due to similarities between these Venuses and Japanese Dogu, and due to the existence of Pit Houses in pre-historical Japan. He died in 2012. The cause was asphyxia due to accidental choking, said his wife.

Image above bottom
Tarassov L., 1971: La double statuette paléolithique de GagarinoQuärtar , 157-63.
by way of Don's amazing collection of Venus figurines.

McDermott, L.. (1996). Self-Representation in Upper Paleolithic Female Figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275.
Nishida, Kitaro (1965/?) “Zettai mujunteki jikodōitsu” 絶対矛盾的自己同一 (Absolutely Contradictory Self-
identity), 西田幾多郎全集, Iwanami Shoten vol. 9. or free in html from
and free in Kindle form from (直観的な世界の底には悪魔が潜んでいる location 754 in the Kindle version」

Posted by timtak at 02:53 PM | Comments (0)

Key to the Gates

Key to the Gates
Leroy McDermott (1996) claims that palaeolithic Venus figurines found all over the world are deformed due to the fact that they represent first person views of the sculptors who lacked mirrors and could not thus see themselves from a third person perspective. As at least one of those who commented upon Professor McDermott's paper points out, however, palaeolithic people were able to see themselves on surfaces of water. More damning, as Don Hitchcock points out, had they wished to portray a woman, they could easily have sculpted the women that they see around them. McDermott's "lack of reflection technology" thesis is thus refuted.

It is still possible however that palaeolithic people wanted to represent first person views per se. Why would they wish to do this?

As well as being deformed in such a way as may be representing a first person view of ones body, the figurines have two other characteristics. First of all, they are predominantly of women. Secondly, many of them are in a "praying posture" hands in front of their torso. Examples of praying Venus Figurines include: all three Kostenki Venuses; the female half. of the Gagarino double Venus and another figurine found at the same site, the many Ashera pillar figurines (which have handles), and the Frasassi Venus pictured above (from, Don's site, originally from this paper) to which I have added the ghosts of my nose. This figurine has a bifurcated head which, like the bifurcated noses of Dogu, may represent this much ignored, nasal feature of our point of view.

As argued in the past it seems to me that these "praying Venuses" are neither praying nor just holding their breasts, but rather as it were holding themselves. In a genius, almost-Kline-bottle of a self-representation, the figurines are expressing the subjective first person appearance of the subject holding this self-representation. If you hold it in both hands and look down at it, you will see yourself represented in its form. Ideally the figurine would be carrying an even more miniature figurine, and so on infinite regress. These Venus figurines are far from being deformed. They are in fact the most realistic of self representations. But they do not represent the self.

In a pithy expose of the contradictory nature of self, Kitarou Nishida (1965) points out that both self-representations (such as our face, names, narrative) and our consciousness demand to be thought of as self, but are utterly contradictory. How could I ever have thought that my face reflected in a mirror could ever be "the mirror" itself? Nishida claims that there is a devil lurking in the depths our consciousness that makes this absurd contradictory identification possible. I know he is right. I suggest that this devil is the same as represented by the Venus statuettes: a female hidden in our first person views.

It seems that back then, palaeolithic people wanted to open the gates of hell. For some reason, I do too. Get out of my head! Do I have a head!? No. I am happy to share the head, that I do not have, with anyone. It is the secrecy that I do not like.

I shall see if I can have a statuette made. Perhaps I should try my hand at carving, or play dough.

McDermott, L.. (1996). Self-Representation in Upper Paleolithic Female Figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275.
Nishida, Kitaro (1965/?) “Zettai mujunteki jikodōitsu” 絶対矛盾的自己同一 (Absolutely Contradictory Self-
identity), 西田幾多郎全集, Iwanami Shoten vol. 9. or free in html from
and free in Kindle form from (直観的な世界の底には悪魔が潜んでいる location 754 in the Kindle version」

Posted by timtak at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

The Wolf Man's Nose

The Wolf Man's Nose
Here are some excerpts copied from a new, more detailed (than Freud's) Freudian analysis of the Wolf Man, Freud's most famous patient, who was obsessed with his nose with my emphasis in bold.

"It was for the purpose of finding a compromise between two opposite wishes - make the Father die and revive him - that he invented a symptom: the language of the nose, the language of his deep and secret desire. He discovered the vocabulary of this symptom in the guise of a wandering wart on his mother's nose. He endowed his own nose, however, the an undecipherable sign...A pimple suddenly discovered in the middle of his nose will have to bear witness to the alteration of his identity: that he is not longer Stanko but Tierka [his sister], worse yet, the Tierka who, ill before her suicide, blamed the pimples on her face for her misfortone....He carried his lying nose with Tierka's pimple on it from one doctor to the next. " (Abraham, & Torok, p. 9)

Stanko's nose spoke, Tierka's had been destroyed. And there was immediately a dynamic change. The Sister's retort was ready. Up to then S. P. had let Stanko speak. Now the lines were given to the injured Sister. The Wolf Man's new speech Brunswick reported slid into ideas of "megalomania" (Abraham, & Torok, p. 10)

The most extraordinary case seemed to me to be one in which a young man had exalted a certain sort of "shine on the nose" into a fetishistic precondition. The surprising explanation of this was that the patient had been brought up in an English nursery but had later come to Germany, where he forgot his mother-tongue almost completely. The fetish, which originated from his earliest childhood, had to be understood in English, not German [our emphasis]. The "shine on the nose"(in German, Glanz auf der Nase) was in reality a "glance at the nose" [Blick auf die Nase, Blick = glance: Glanz]. The nose was thus the fetish, which, incidentally, he endowed at will with the luminous shine which was not perceptible to others. (Freud, Standard Edition, vol. 21, p. 152) (Abraham, & Torok, p. 10, p32)

"Suddenly" (y'droug = th'truth), he becomes aware of a painful sensation in his nose and starts to worry about new holes and pimples. He borrows his wife's pocket mirror and looks at himself constantly, "viewing" his organ of truth. On Whitsunday (on the day of the witness of the son [or rather sun])* he chooses a film, among the many to be seen in Vienna, probably for its title: The White Sister, containing two words so rich in associations. He cannot stand it any more. This time, the pimple on his nose truly depresses him. The insurance doctor's verdict is final: Nothing can be done. Then he thinks to himself: "I can't go on living like this." His despair drives him to a last resort: Professor X. As the contents of the pimple squirt out and the expert fingers draw blood, he cries out. He has said it all but no one knows anything. He has had a narrow escape...from Father's suicide.
This momentary euphoria is the father's, not his own. It is not made to last. A few days later, "He observes with horror" (er bemerkte zu seinem Entsetzen = ich sah zu meinem grossen Schreck: I see the great khriekh) equals "I understand [52] the great sin." What is the great sin? A swelling of the nose, in order not to disclose an erection."(Abraham, & Torok, p. 10, pp. 51-52)

"The result is a constant tension within the Wolf Man's fantasy life, which aims to maintain two incompatible halves. The symptom of the nose, which takes shape as an "idee fixe," seems to result from this tension. "(Abraham, & Torok, p. 10, p. 82)

"Once more the Wolf Man observes "with horror" (mit grossem Schreck = the great khriekh) that the "great sin" could be betrayed by his swollen nose. His nose is no longer the way it used to be, one half is different from the other." (Abraham, & Torok, p. 10, p. 52)

"We recognize the English homonyms: "nose" and "he knows."" (Abraham, & Torok, p. 10, p. 55)

Freud interpretted the Wolf Man's dream of wolves and his obsession with his nose as "a glanz at the nose (knows? knowing in the biblical sense?)" or a symptom of having seen the primal scene (sex between his parents). Abraham and Torko (2005) reinterpret it as being the Wolf Man's encryption, and a hiding, keeping in a crypt, of having had a sexual encounter with his sister. Others have suggested that that it is also hinting at Freud's relationship with his sister and desire to have her go away (Johnson, 2001), and another reading has it that the Wolf Man and Freud's interpretation indicate a shared homosexuality (Davis, 1995). Derrida, in his usual round about way, seems to enjoy talking about "the crypt" that we have but not what we keep in it.

I think that these Freudians are reading a little too much (or too little; the nose is enormous, see above and next photo), into this.

I am looking out past a giant nose and I don't think it is mine. And alas, the "great sin" is for me that I know her. She is a "side" of myself. And, leaving the horror, the great sin of the situation to the lyrics of David Bowie: "Nothing can keep us together... Cause we're lovers, and that is a fact".

I am not at all upbeat about it.

I think that the Wolf Man was trying to represent the first person nose(s), the nose with a hole in it, of the 'lady' within, in the photo centre that he took with his wife. His wife's nose is in relief centre suggesting that the photo is of a woman's nose and the overall layout of the photo suggests to me the form of nose that I am always looking at (above top). The oval frame is game set Mach.

And (s)he is far bigger than even my mum's painting, which is for me, the long and short of it. It took me 40 years or so to get to grips with it.

I also see the same attempt, to represent a nose from a first person perspective, in the frame from Blackstar which is shown when Bowie sings the lines "At the centre of it all, Your eyes."

*See Blanchot's "Madness of the Day" where the hero's head becomes "as tall as the sky".

Abraham, N., & Torok, M. (2005). The Wolf Man's Magic Word: A cryptonymy (Vol. 37). U of Minnesota Press.

Posted by timtak at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)

Venuses in Freud: Watching and Whispering

Venuses in Freud: Watching and Whispering
According to Lacan and Freud we are born without a self, only a mish-mash omelette ("hommelette") of first part-person views, until we recognise our bodies in mirrors, by which means we identify with a mere image and are alienated from our consciousness.

Later we learn to narrate the this unfortunate situation to our "acoustic cap," (Freud) which may be an internalisation of our mother. The guilt we have regarding this act prevents us from becoming aware of what we are doing, and creates the necessary split within the psyche for the formation of self. Evolution evolved this abhorrent auto-erotic (Derrida, 2011, p.68) self presumably to keep us divided, thus ensuring that we remain tirelessly involved in sexual selection, and the proliferation of the species (OneEyedMind; see also the "divide" in Smith, 1812, quoted as a note to the bibliographic entry below).

In Japan it seems to me that there is another way to split the mind to create self. In addition to splitting oneself into speaker who listens (Derrida, 2011, p.68), one may also separate oneself into a viewed viewer. It was at this point that I became interested in the aforementioned "pre-Oedipal" (i.e. before one starts narrating oneself to ones mother) theories of "the mirror stage" (Lacan, 1949/2002) and "primary narcissism" of Freud in which one splits oneself into a viewer who is viewed. Lacan and Freud seem to maintain however that this duality cannot be achieved internal to the psyche, but requires the use of mirrors, surfaces of water, or other people. This misconception has continued until quite recently, till the discovery of mirror neurons and our research on the Japanese (Heine, Takemoto, Moskalenko, Lasaleta, & Henrich, 2008).

It became clear however that the Japanese have managed to simulate a mirror in their minds but not, as I first presumed, within their heads. Japanese autoscopy seems to be, judging by their birds eye view artworks (Masuda, Wang, Ito, & Senzaki, 2012), and ability to identify with their face (Watsuji, 2011), or the writings of Zeami, from "an eye apart" (see Yusa, 1987). I am not sure how they managed to get the eye out of their mind and into the sky, but one way may have been, initially, through the destruction of dogu figurines (bottom right in pink) which are always found smashed and usually buried. Dogu, like other Venus figurines found all over the world may represent first person views, which may be allow us to be possessed by the giant watching "spider" (Matthews, 1897, Bowie, "Glass Spier", 1987) mother, rather than as postal sex friend (c.f. Derrida, 1987). I want to out this sex friend, be fully aware of my bisexuality, and fully ashamed of what I am doing. It seems to me that not only does she "whisper" and listen, but also, to my horror, I think can feel her looking out of, or into, my eyes. I feel that she has possessed my nose, and feet.

Though Lacan has it that the infant's first person views do not form a coherent whole (but see comment below), other psychologists have argued that first person views on the contrary are the earliest form of self.

There would therefore be an extra stage to the evolution of self prior to both self narration and self recognition in a mirror, in which we (mis?) recognise ourselves in first person body views. This stage may be that which is represented by Japanese and Guamanian myths which have deities formed from brows and noses (since these loom large in first person body views).

The personification, or persona, of the first person body view may also be that which is represented in Revelations as "The Whore of Babylon," conceivably in the Hadith as the 'mother' under whose feet one's heaven lies, Ultraman because she is very tall and is from the country of light, and Amida that giant haemaphrodite Buddha made of light who takes the faithful to the pure land, or Lucifer "the light carrier," or Jesus and Eve. I think that the 'her' nature (good or bad) depends upon how she is treated, respected, or (ab)used.

Within Freud's writings it seems to me that there are at least two places where first person body views are represented by Freud's patients, although Freud himself seems not to have recognised them. Firstly there is nose of the wolf man (see Abraham & Torok, 2005), which I believe he represented in the photo mid right above. We look past massive bifurcated noses which form a wine glass shape, like that of the Wolf Man's image, in our field of vision, which we largely ignore. And there is also the headless torso of a woman with a face experienced by 21 year old patient of Freud (Freud, 1916, p3121, see also Reinach, 1922, p.117*) whenever he saw his father. He called the headless faced torso "father arse," a ""teutonification" of the German for "patriarch." My reading would be the the boy was seeing the "caged" matriarch that underpins patriarchy and exclaiming something along the lines of "father? my arse," or "Patriarsy!" Freud saw the similarity between "father arse" and images of Baubo (top right). These terracotta figurines represent the mythical act of ridding a goddess of a demon (Reinach, 1922, p.117*). I believe that they are the descendants of palaeolithic figurines. The addition of the face emphasises the way in which our first person body views have become a person role or "demon" (Nishida, 1965, location 754, given below) within us. These figurines were sometimes worn suspended around the neck.

When I was a young man I became very briefly aware of the mother as interlocutor or giant ventriloquist whispering XwithinX me, and the utter hellishness of the situation which, alas, even though I am now quite old, continues. At that time I thought my situation gay and quirky, un-represented in any psychological or mythic text that I was then aware of. For example, I thought Eve was the first woman as we are often told, and that Freud's super-ego were an internalised father. It takes a long while for the horror to sink in. Writing about it like this may reduce the sense of urgency. But what can I do?

I have had a 25000 year old Venus figurine re-created (above left) by the talented sculptress Beth Perry. The Japanese smashed the dogu (in pink) that they made and buried them. I guess that I should make copies of Beth's figurine and smash and bury them too, and send the original to someone else do do likewise.

I chose this particular figurine since it seems to be in the position that I would need to be in when holding it in both hands, and because it has a bifurcated head. It seems to me that my massive nose presents to me this sort of double disk shape.

[I am not sure if my first person nose and first person feet are of the same persona. I suspect that there may even be a stage prior to the first person body view where we (mis?) recognise ourselves as the view itself. ]

*Le geste de Baubo, qui viole un des tabous sur lequels repose la société humain, doit etre expliqué come un acte magique, un excorcisme, destiné a metter en fuite le mauvais démon don't es possédée Déméter. Baubo's gesture [raising her skirt to show her lower body naked], which violates one of the taboos upon upon which human society is based, was destined to put to flight the bad demon that had possessed Demeter. (Reinach, 1922, p. 117 my translation) This reminds me of Susano's mythical solution, and what I would like to be able to do.

Abraham, N., & Torok, M. (2005). The Wolf Man’s Magic Word: A Cryptonymy. U of Minnesota Press.
Derrida, J. (1987). The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. (A. Bass, Trans.) (First Edition). University Of Chicago Press.
Derrida, J. (1987). The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. (A. Bass, Trans.) (First Edition). University Of Chicago Press.
Freud, S. (1916) A Mythological Parallel To a Visual Obsesion" Complete Works. Ivan Smith PDF Edition. pp 3120 -3121 Note: Freud sees the mythological connection and therefore recognises the importance but refrains from comment.
Heine, S. J., Takemoto, T., Moskalenko, S., Lasaleta, J., & Henrich, J. (2008). Mirrors in the head: Cultural variation in objective self-awareness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(7), 879–887. Retrieved from
Lacan, J. (2002). The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience. In B. Fink (Trans.), Ecrits (pp. 75–81). WW Norton & Company.
Masuda, T., Wang, H., Ito, K., & Senzaki, S. (2012). Culture and the Mind: Implications for Art, Design, and Advertisement. Handbook of Research on International Advertising, 109.
McDermott, L. R. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275. Retrieved from
Reinach, S. (1922). Cultes, mythes et religions. Paris E. Leroux. Retrieved from
Smith, A. (1812). The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Retrieved from "I divide myself, as it were, into two persons; and that I, the examiner and judge, represent a different character from that other I, the person whose conduct is examined into and judged of. The first is the spectator"
Watsuji, T. (2011). Mask and Persona. Japan Studies Review, 15, 147–155. Retrieved from
Yusa, M. (1987). Riken no Ken. Zeami’s Theory of Acting and Theatrical Appreciation. Monumenta Nipponica, 42(3), 331–345. Retrieved from
西田幾多郎. (1965). 絶対矛盾的自己同一. Amazon Kindle Edition. Location 754 環境が自己否定的に自己自身を主体化するということは、自己自身をメフィスト化することである。直観的世界の底には、悪魔が潜んでいるのである。That the environment should give a self-negating autonomy to the ourselves is the literal demonization (making a Mephistopheles) of the self. The devil hides at the bottom of the world of active direct sight. [Yes! At last a kindred spirit]

Posted by timtak at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

American Beauty and Judgement

American Beauty and Judgement
I watched the much acclaimed James Mendes, Allan Ball American Beauty (1999) on Hulu again recently and felt that it is more than a movie; it is mythic.

In the final monologue of American Beauty it seems to transpire that the protagonist, Lester Burnham (played by Kevin Spacey), is the lover of his own daughter, or at least he sees the same image of the bag twirling in the air and almost repeats his daughter's lover's words.

Ricky Fitts (while showing Jane a video of a floating paper bag): Sometimes there is so much ... beauty ... in the world. It's like I can't take it. And my heart is just going to cave in.

Lester Burnham (during his final monologue, watching the same bag): Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst.

Is this juxtaposition of Lester and Ricky just a "movie sin" -- a script mistake -- or is it possible that the "mistake" is ours. Are humans really the lovers of their daughters and sons?

Before considering that possibility I note that the assertion that our whole life is recorded and subsequently experienced again is shared by a number of religious traditions.

In the Bible the we are told that our lives are recorded in "The Book of Life" which would seem to contain a record of all our deeds. John writes, "then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done" (Revelation 20:12).

In the Quran it is said that at our death we will be able to see that which we have been trying to avoid, presumably the evil of our soul "whispering" to itself, and we find that everything we have done has been recorded in some sort of book by one of two scribes.

In both the Bible and the Quran sinners are sent to hell along with a devil or "companion" that has deceived them.

Returning to American Beauty,Jane Burnham keeps very detailed accounts and Ricky Fitts, her companion, records everything with his video camera.

In the Japanese Buddhist tradition, it is believed that upon our death we are judged by King Enma (shown in the image above) who has both a book and a video recording of our lives. The latter is displayed in a mirror. We are shown the video of our lives in this mirror and upon this basis we are judged. If we have been bad we are silenced, and sent to hell.

If the physicist Ernst Mach (1897) is right to say that the physical world is our explanation of our sensations, specifically our visual field, then it seems that this vast expanse of space, the cosmos, is no further distant than the mirror of the heart. If the word can create the cosmos, this world with all its beautiful and delicious things, then perhaps it is also creating the appearance of time, which by its removal would allow us feel we are "seeing it all at once." If so then this moment that I am now seeing is also the moment of my death. This would explain Heracletus' claim that "Death is what we see when awake," and the opening premise of American Beauty.

Freud (1923, 1961, p.24) argues that the reason I have a self at all is because I am unable to face up to the fact that I am having a fantastical relationship with my mother. Freud also claims that without our tendency to send our selves messages in this way "lies at the bottom of the origin of the concept of time"(Freud, 1950, p.180). The super-ego, a "hearing" or "acoustic cap," or listener to our self narrative, is the mother than we cannot bear to cognise. It is this "ear of the other" (Derrida, 1985) that is the hidden "I" of the "me" (James, 1890) that we narrate. I think that, as represented in David Bowie's last videos, a similar companion may be looking out of my eyes. If this same structure should pertain in my case, I may be, very much like Lester Burnham, the incestual lover of my own son*, and the intoxication of death may allow me to see this again.

If think that if one has lead a selfish life, as I have, then an ocean of repeats will be hell. In its original version, American Beauty had a "horribly upsetting ending" where Jane and Ricky, a child and a companion, go on trial and are convicted.

*Allan Ball who wrote the screenplay said that it was in part inspired by Buddhist insight. It may also be relevant that Allan Ball is gay. This fact may have resulted in his scripting the protagonist as a male lover of a daughter, rather than as a female lover of a son. Further, in the movie's current format, without the trial of Jane and Ricky, the blame is rather placed upon a homophobic father figure. As a sinner I can appreciate this sentiment. It is partly homophobia, as well as my disgust at parent-child incest, that prevents me being aware of that which I am hiding. But to blame that disgust (I am not sinning, it is just that you are disgusted) is similar to the gambit of Adam, "the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat," (Genesis 3:12-13) attempting to blame anyone else for that which one can not oneself face up to. This attempt to pass the buck may be even worse that what I am doing.

Derrida, J., & McDonald, C. (1985). The Ear of the Other: Otobiography, Transference, Translation: Texts and Discussions with Jacques Derrida. New York: Schocken Books.
Freud, S. (1923). Das Ich und das Es. Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag. Retrieved from
Freud, S. (1950). A Note Upon the‘ Mystic Writing-Pad’ 1925 Collected Papers 5 175-180 London. Hogarth Press. Retrieved from
Freud, S. (1961). The Ego and the Id. Standard Edition, 19: 12-66. London: Hogarth Press. Retrieved from
James, W. (1890). The Principles of Psychology. New York : Holt. Retrieved from
Mach, E. (1897). Contributions to the Analysis of the Sensations. (C. M. Williams, Trans.). The Open court publishing company. Retrieved from

Posted by timtak at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)

Luther's view of Reason

Luther's view of Reason
I used to be a fan of reason and rationality. These days I am not at all keen.

The first thing is that is not clear what it reason is. Being reasonable is not the same as expressing only that which follows from Aristotelian (?) syllogistic precepts. The train of assertions that "Socrates is a man, all men are mortal, therefore Socrates is mortal," are certainly reasonable but we generally use "reasonable" to refer a much wider range of statements. What is the range of the reasonable? Kant argued that there are basic categories of experience that are implied by reason such as that events occur within a spatio temporal time frame. Before him Hume argued that things that concur with our experience are believable. Hume is considered to be an empiricist rather than a rationalist but, I think that we call things "reasonable" when they are within the sphere of, or can be extrapolated from, our experience and we call things unreasonable when they are miraculous, weird, wacky. At the end of the day the reasonable is that which sober minds will agree are plausible. In other words, "reasonable" is an adjective applying to linguistic assertions that are possibly, probably, or generally, to be agreed with.

But how can one tell? Generally we say things and others agree or not. And here lies the rub. Reasonable is applied to statements prior to the agreement of real others, Reasonable is that which we apply to statements that are agreed with or by an other that lies within (or surrounding!) ourselves.

People like
Adam Smith
Thomas Jefferson
Martin Buber
Jonathan Haidt
Michail Bakhtin
George Herbert Mead
Sigmund Freud
Jacques Derrida
Kitarou Nishida
assert that we somehow split ourselves and then appreciate our statements from the view point of another.

It is with this splitting and subsequent recombination that may be fraught. What is it that enables the splitting? Most of the above do not see this as an issue, but Freud, Derrida and Nishida suggest that it is something horrific about the intra-psychic other that facilitates this split. I.e. we can only split and keep splitting ourselves in such as way as to allow self-discourse and self evaluation, due to the horrific (or sinful) nature of the split. If there were not something horrific going on, some maleficence that we are not able to bring ourselves to cognise, we would not be able to split ourselves into two people such as evaluate ourselves objectively and be rational.

Freud suggests that we are having an erotic relation with a fantasy of our mother as listener, having fantasied the killing of our father. The horror of this fantasy is such that we cannot bear to face up to it, and therefore remain divided and able to reflect upon our actions rationally as if from the perspective of another. Thus, to cut this long story short, it is sin, as grotesque incestual, homoautoerotic, paedophile self-love, that allows us to rationally appraise ourselves.

From this perspective, reason is a demonic, hermaphrodite alter ego that listens to (and perhaps also speaks) our "reasoning" or "whispering" (c.f. the Quran) and hence, "“Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and an manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom. . . . Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism. . . . She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets” (E16, 142-148).

Above image based upon Martin Luther's death mask; a casting was made of his face and hands upon his death.

Addenda 1
In the Japanese case this splitting takes places in their ability to see themselves. Nishida writes "The thing wherein (process by which) the environment gives a self-negating autonomy to ourselves is the demonization (in an uber literal sense: making a Mephistopheles) of the self. The devil hides at the bottom of the world of active direct sight. 754 環境が自己否定的に自己自身を主体化するということは、自己自身をメフィスト化することである。直観的世界の底には、悪魔が潜んでいるのである。

Addenda 2
And, I would not be writing this but for the fact that I met her once a long time ago. It was horrific. It was such a surprise. I met "her" (or the shemale) for only the briefest of a glimpse, but I can testify from my experience, that she is there. That is not even the worst part, which is, I am a fantasy that the shemale, grotesque fantasy, the whispering, is having.

Posted by timtak at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

Self Person View Horror: The whore in bed

Self Person View Horror: The whore in bed
At the climax to a short Japanese horror movie, Juon from 37:00, the heroine sees a monster almost come out of her television screen, as is usual in the Japanese horror genre. Japanese monsters, almost always women, emerge from images such as scroll paintings, lanterns, mirrors, photographs, and television screens. In this movie, the monster almost emerges from the television screen but the heroine turns the TV off. She then looks down under her futon at her own body to find, the monster staring back at her. Yess! The whore!

When Henry James writes about the "I" and the "me" he misses a beat. This is the problem of "identification." How can "I" as consciousness be identified with anything?

Consider the Lacanian mirror stage. There is, or should be, nothing on this side of the mirror that might identify with the tiny face reflected in the mirror. How can we Klein bottle ourselves into believing that the little face is, or contains, the whole universe of our experience? It is, or should be, utterly preposterous. There is no way in hell that that tiny face, might contain the vast mirror of our consciousness, our visual field. How can an "I" convince itself that it is a "me"?

Henry James missed a #layers or two. It is not that the "I" as pure observing consciousness identifies with a "me" but that we fabulate more than one "me" and then integrate them. This integration is less and more than an identification. Our mes (pronounced "meezz:" "me" in the plural) fall in love with, or rape, each other. Their identification, is a conjunction along the lines of a love affair, "I am my Heathcliff".

To cut a short story shorter, our first person body view, me #1, falls in love with our reflected face, me #2. We ignore the fact that our self person body view is not our consciousness, is not an "I"qua "I", is not pure observer. And in the intoxication of death, and Japanese horror, we may see its 'face', that it is also a me, a persona, and the body or "seven hills" of "the whore". Don't look down.

Posted by timtak at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

Bowie's Whore

Bowie's Whore
The video from Bowie's single Life on Mars shows the singer in ultra closeup and quite small, viewed from above. The lyrics contain reference to a woman what seems to accompany Bowie throughout his oeuvre, from the "Spider in the Sky" in "Take my Tip" his first self-penned song, to 'too bad she was a whore', and 'the girl with the mousey tail' in his last.

In Life on Mars I think that Bowie shows us where the whore has been hiding.

According to a Jamesian theory of self (James, 1897). we identify the "I" of our consciousness with the "me" of our self representations (narrative, mirror reflection) but as Nishida Kitarou points out, our consciousness (specifically our visual field) and our self representations (e.g. our face, or our narrative) are nothing like each other. How did we manage to think a consciousness might be either of those representations? Nishida argues that it is only by having a devil ("Mephistopheles) "hiding at the bottom of our sight," that we might make this contradictory identification. What does he mean?

I think that David Bowie explains in mime. It is by the dual extrojection, personification, of two me's, the first our massive first person view of ourselves, the second, ourselves as seen as a third person such as in mirrors, that allows us to split ourselves, and make the contradictory identification. The split remains because our first person is "big with delusion" (Lacan) as a woman, a mother, "the girl with the mousey hair" that we rarely (except in the "intoxication of death") find the courage to see within us.

She looks out from her monstrous brows and her "six hills" at the tiny mice of ourselves as reflected, no bigger than her fingers. When Bowie sings about the mice in "Ibetha to the Norfolk Broads", he walks his fingers across the screen in front of his eyes. We are Mickey mice to the cow of our first person self view. (This is also I think why Adam Ant calls himself an "ant," because he has seen himself, and seen himself seeing himself as well.)

I have added these three images into a students presentation on the psychology of Henry James today. I will let my student skip them. No, I attempted to explain but I think that few, not including me, really understand the horror.

So, I worked it out. Or Bowie, and Nishida explained. They've been there. Ihave been there very briefly. I have no idea what to do .

Posted by timtak at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)

Subjective Other Awareness

Subjective Other Awareness
As mentioned recently, and argued by Nishida (1965, see quote below), a sort of "devil" or alter ego may be hiding in our first person perspective on the world.

Modifying the famous theory of William James, it may be that instead of there being an identification between an (1) "I" and a (2) the objectified "me", at the core of the self as James argues, there may in fact be a love affair between the (1) I-me, eye-me, or first person me, as felt to be represented by my nose, brow, eye sockets as well as perhaps first person view of my body and limbs (McDermott, 1996) and (2) the 3rd person me as seen in mirrors and "objective self awareness".

In order to make subjects more aware of their subjectivity, and the other that may be hiding there, I had thought of asking them to wear glasses, baseball caps, and false noses.

I chose instead to have them wear masks. Half the subjects wore an animal or Hanya mask (above image centre), whereas half the subjects in the control condition completed the survey prior, without wearing or seeing any masks.

The dependent variables were the Belief in Science Scale (Farias, Newheiser, Kahane, Toledo, 2013), and the need for structure scale (Neuberg & Newsom, 1993, see Heine, Proulx and Vohs, 2006), translated into Japanese by me.

Under the meaning maintenance model (Heine, Proulx and Vohs, 2006), when we are subjected to weird or absurd situations we tend to feel the need for normality or more structure in our lives.

Likewise from this point of view, a belief in science would be likely to, and has been shown to (Farias, Newheiser, Kahane, Toledo, 2013, increase in the same way in the face of weird situations. The more weird we feel the more likely we would be to believe in science.

This is indeed what happened. Subjects required to wear a mask were more inclined to prefer a structured life ("I don't like situations that are uncertain, a reverse item, "I enjoy being spontaneous." etc) and also more inclined to rate their Belief in Science Scale more highly.

I had hoped that perhaps by drawing attention to the vast, spider legged (Bowie, McDermott, 1996), and headless whore looking out of our eyes, the subjects might feel an unease towards science which has really let us down regarding the size and importance of our intra-psychic comforter.

However, the experience of wearing a mask draws attention to to the frame provided not by ones own eyes, but to the frame provided by the mask. In order to get subjects to become more aware of the horror, perhaps I should have them simply trace the line of their eye sockets, look at their hands and bodies, and or wiggle their noses.

I don't feel that I am getting there. This may be a good thing.


When I added in all the data for 22 subjects in each condition, the results were better than I thought because while the need for structure (Heine, Proulx and Vohs, 2006) was significantly increased in the masked condition p <0.068 the increase in the belief in science in the masked condition was non-significant (p <0.26). But I had even hoped for a decrease in the belief in science in the masked condition, and this rather weird hypothesis was not supported. I think it is more parsimonious to assume that being forced to wear a mask makes subjects think "take me home to normality" but does not therefore increase their belief in science all that much.

I recieved the personal need for structure scale from the first author of (Heine, Proulx and Vohs, 2006) but it originates in (Neuberg & Newsom, 1993) and has a validated Japanese version which the author kindly sends to those that email him at the address given in the paper (Kashihara, 2016).

My translanslation was as follows
I'm not bothered by things that interrupt my daily routine.
I enjoy being spontaneous.
I find that a well-ordered life with regular hours makes my life tedious.
I find that a consistent routine enables me to enjoy life more.
I enjoy having a clear and structured mode of life.
I like to have a place for everything and everything in its place.
I don't like situations that are uncertain.
I hate to change my plans at the last minute.
I hate to be with people who are unpredictable.
I enjoy the exhilaration of being in unpredictable situations.
I become uncomfortable when the rules in a situation are not clear.

The mask in the above image represents Hanya, a very jealous and angry woman.

Farias, M., Newheiser, A. K., Kahane, G., & de Toledo, Z. (2013). Scientific faith: Belief in science increases in the face of stress and existential anxiety. Journal of experimental social psychology, 49(6), 1210-1213.
Heine, S. J., Proulx, T., & Vohs, K. D. (2006). The meaning maintenance model: On the coherence of social motivations. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10(2), 88-110.
McDermott, L. R. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275. Retrieved from
Kashihara, J. (2016). Development and Validation of the Japanese-Translated Version of the Personal Need for Structure Scale. Psychology, 7(03), 399.
Neuberg, S. L., & Newsom, J. T. (1993). Personal Need for Structure: Individual Differences in the Desire for Simple Struc
ture. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 113-131.
Nishida, Kitaro (1965/?) “Zettai mujunteki jikodōitsu” 絶対矛盾的自己同一 (Absolutely Contradictory Self-
identity), 西田幾多郎全集, Iwanami Shoten vol. 9. or free in html from
and free in Kindle form from
754 環境が自己否定的に自己自身を主体化するということは、自己自身をメフィスト化することである。直観的世界の底には、悪魔が潜んでいるのである。That the environment should give a self-negating autonomy to the ourselves is the literal demonization (making a Mephistopheles) of the self. The devil hides at the bottom of the world of active direct sight. [Yes! At last a kindred spirit]

Posted by timtak at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

Subjective Awareness Theory: Operationalizing the Whore

Subjective Awareness Theory: Operationalizing the Whore
What is it that encourages us to believe in a real world? Smart phones, antibiotic medicines, and recumbent bicycles may convince some -- and I see their point -- but, upon reflection, it seems to me that the Buddha has got to be right: colour is complete emptiness and vice versa. I have never seen anything but a visual field about which we hyphothesise in useful ways.

So what it is that, in the naive realism in which I live, that convinces me of the objective world of space and my self inside it? It seems to me that this foundation is the intra-psychic other, the helpmeet Eve (the Bible), the comforter (the Quran), paraclete (Jesus), the super-addressee (Bakhtin), Other (Lacan), generalised other (Mead), impartial spectator (Smith), and acoustic cap (Freud), or whore (Revelations and David Bowie). But I have absolutely no proof.

Somewhere along the way, from reading McDermott or watching Bowie mime, or his whore art, it seems to me to my horror that "she" is my first person perspective - which makes her vast, and I but a speck in her eye. Bearing in mind her enormous size (rib!?! - no way), there must be some way that can be operationalized, made the subject of scientific experimentation.

It has been shown that Westerners behave different, generally more pro-social and yet individual when they are "objectively self-aware" as a result of being seated in front of mirrors (Duval and Wicklund). This awareness of "the me" as self as seen, as third person object for others, has been successfully operationalized with many manipulations and experiments have been performed upon OSA (Objective Self Awareness) demonstrating it to be a robust psychological construct.

It might therefore be possible to manipulate Subjective Self Awareness.

Like the wolf man, perhaps, I have an issue with my nose, or the two of them vast and ghostly that haunt my visual field. Using the nose as a start, it may be possible therefore to promote in others "subjective self awareness" (as explained by McDermott) by getting subjects to
1) Wear a large fake nose (I did not have one to hand in the above photo)
2) Wear fashion glasses without lenses but that frame the visual field (this would only be appropriate for those who do not normally wear glasses)
3) Wear a peaked hat
4) Pinch ones own face

Subjects then might be asked to respond to for example the Belief in Science Scale (Farias, Newheiser, Kahane, Toledo, 2013) with the hypothesis that those made aware of their nose, and subjective self-awareness, also become aware of the shaky foundation of the scientific world, and rate their belief in science less positively? Or perhaps the opposite.

Farias, M., Newheiser, A. K., Kahane, G., & de Toledo, Z. (2013). Scientific faith: Belief in science increases in the face of stress and existential anxiety. Journal of experimental social psychology, 49(6), 1210-1213.

Posted by timtak at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)

Lacan's Borromean Rings

Lacan's Borromean Rings
The real or reality exists at the presumed intersection between our sensations -- particularly that which we see and imagine --- and our symbols. But like borromean rings, the three domains do not intersect. Full on philosophers may argue that Mary can leave a black and white room, see a rose, and know what "red" is like, but in fact red the word and red the sensation are not the same at all. As Locke points out, the sensations might be completely different for each of us. At the same time our symbols are descriptions of reality, themselves only expressible using bits of sensation, and no not exist in a "mathematical cyberspace". Each of the three domains is empty with only the illusion of plenitude. I think that some people believe reality and the self is at point A (reality is our sensations, and symbols are merely their descriptors) whereas others believe that reality and the self is at point B (reality is mathematical, rational, or and colourless. The sensations are mere images, a veil). Lacan argued that humans (I would say Westerners) move from A to B during the course of their development. The Japanese may move in the opposite direction.
Posted by timtak at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)

The Place that Shines in the Darkness

The Place that Shines in the Darkness
I often go on about how visual Japan is. Mach calls that which he sees simultaneously "the visual field" and the substance of the universe, without apparent contradiction. That is not right. Nishida's terminology of "place," Watsuji's of "ecology," are better because, we are talking about a place which does not need eyes to be seen. I could gauge out my eyes and the place would not the slightest diminished in size, and it would still serve as a canvas for all my visual thoughts. Res Extensa will do too but only cogitans about it, are dubitable, not the place itself. This sun shines even in the dark.
Posted by timtak at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

Stupa, and the candle of "Your Eyes": The world is upside down!

Stupa, and the candle of "Your Eyes": The world is upside down!
After showing himself with buttons for eyes, as if someone has stolen his eyeballs, Bowie shows "Major Tom" as a skull in a space suit, and then at the climax of the first part of Blackstar, Bowie sings "at the centre of it all, *your eyes*." At this climax, the video shifts to a strange photo of a contrived, bulbous candle (above top).

I interpreted candle to be, perhaps, a representation of a first person view out of a face or skull with shadows of a first person view of a nose.

More recently it occurred to me that cone shaped Buddhist Stupas, such as are prevalent in Myanmar (the one shown above is the beautiful gilded Shwezigon Pagoda) may also be representing the first person view of the world, occluded by the first person nose.

In my earlier interpretation I thought that the candle in Bowie's video represented the first person nose but now it seems to me that both the candle, and the Stupa, are the area in the centre of our visual field which is not occluded by the shadow of our nose(s) seen from each eye. It is for this reason that the candle is glowing, and that the the magnificent stupa is gilded so as to be even brighter than the sky. In other words, the first-person nose is represented by the background of Bowie's candle, and the blue of Myanmar's sky. But if that is the case, the strange thing to me, is that the first person nose appears to be upside down.

This is however, all as it should be. Bowie claims "We were born upside-down" later in the song. I had not understood the meaning of this claim, until I started writing this post.

Upon reflection it is true that my first person view of my body at least is upside down compared to my view of myself in a mirror.

I noted this upside down reversal when reading the literature about right-left reversal in mirrors but did not think anything of it. When people look at mirrors they tend to find (I do not, much) that the person in the mirror is right left reversed. in the same literature is argued that mirrors do not result in up down reversal.

While it is true that we do not feel mirror images to be upside down, upon inspection however, when we look at our own body from our own first person view point, our feet are at the top of our visual field whereas our chest is at the bottom.

For proof of the fact that the world is upside down, please see the third image above from top on the left where my feet are above my knees and my hand are above my elbows. I have superimposed the shadows of my nose upon this photograph.

Bearing this fact in mind, the Gagarino Double Venus (my diagram of which is shown to the right on a nasty green background) is even more realistic than I first noticed. We have two bodies, our first person-view body, 'deformed' like a Venus figurine (in red), the other a 'normal' third person view body (in yellow) which are conjoined at the head, and each is upside down to the other.

While most of my self person-view body parts are upside down, with the lower extremities appearing higher in my visual field, my ghostly noses appear to be the usual (mirror self) way up, with the more bulbous and and encroaching part of my nose -- the nostrils -- lower in my visual field both from a self person perspective and in mirrors. They are also left right reversed, with the right side of my nose appearing in the left hand side of my visual field and vice versa.

Perhaps we imagine that Hanya, has an upside down nose?

Bearing in mind the complete lack of representations of the first person nose in pictorial art, I think that it is rather that, since our first person view of our nose is so strange, doubled, and transparent, we do not really think of these shadows as a nose at all. It is merely a fact our first person view of the world, orientated such that is feet are on the ground, the world glows more in a cone at the centre, like Bowie's candle, and Myanmar's Stupas.

Why do we orientate our first person view such that its feet are at the bottom of its body, like the more usual representation of our own? I think that we like to believe that our first person view is a sort of friend (or "pocket monster") who walks the earth as we do.

Thanks to May Zin Oo for introducing me to cone shaped Stupas. The people of Myanmar have built a lot of fabulous stupas.

(I do not advocate any church of David Bowie. I attempt to be a Buddhist, and respect the world's major religions.)

Japanese monsters, as represented in Japanese horror movies and angels of death (such as that in Death Note) , often hang out on the ceiling, sometimes upside down.

Image of Shwezigon Pagoda from wikimedia by DIMMIS.

Posted by timtak at 02:06 PM | Comments (0)

Appocalyptic Carp: Fermi, Bostrom and Nietzsche on the Vastness of Spacetime

Appocalyptic Carp: Fermi, Bostrom and Nietzsche on the Vastness of Spacetime
Three philosophers react differently to implications of the immensity of the cosmos.

Fermi's Paradox: Space is so big that someone else, an alien race, should have communicated with us. We should have experienced communication from others like ourselves, unless advanced civilisations have no interest in communicating, or wipe themselves out.

Bostrom's Simulation Hypothesis: Time is so long that we should be merely a simulation (auto communication) of our technologically superior descendants. There should be lots of other fake humans, we among them, unless advanced civilisations have no interest in auto-communicating, or wipe themselves out.

These two formulations are rather grim because we know we like communicating, and talking to ourselves, simulating, and the heavens appear both silent and real, so imminent self-annihilation can seem the most plausible of the three alternatives that they present.

Nietzsche's Argument from Humility (1873) however is rather like Nick Bostrom's Simulation Hypothesis turned on its head. Space and time are so vast, and we so insignificant, that the the correspondence theory of truth and our conception of the universe should be, and is, mere bravado (mis-auto-communication). We and the universe are illusory and we are living in a simulation, not because we are the distant ancestors of technical geniuses, but because we are the close descendant of fish, whose formulations are likely to be as knowledgeable, accurate, or real as those of carp in the ornamental pond in the background of the image above. Bearing in mind our humble origins, we should be aware that vaunted world of science, our theories of everything, the big bang, and the big crunch, are madly immodest carp schema. With only a hint of scatology, this might be rephrased as science is carp, for short.

Nick Bostrom (Bostrom, 2008) has written on the Fermi paradox but does not note the structural similarities between Fermi's paradox and his own hypothesis. Bostrom claims that the simplest solution to the Fermi paradox is that intelligent life, like Professor Bostrom, is extremely rare. Is it not simpler, and more modest, to assume that we are living in a simulation, as his hypothesis suggests is probable? According to Bostrom's hypothesis, this probability entails "posthuman" descendants running "super intelligent" computer simulators: more carp.

As our pride in our abilities, to transmit and detect electromagnetic waves, and their absence, and create all sorts of simulations increases, the persuasiveness of grim solutions to Fermi' and Bostrom's conjectures increase. If we can beam messages to the stars and immerse ourselves in simulations such as "Call of Duty", surely others should and will have been able to do so also. Their apparent absence suggests our imminent self-destruction.

But there is another possibility. The realisation that the universe is our 'schematization of chaos' (Nietzsche, 1968, para 515), or in other words a simulation, for the humble, mundane reasons indicated by Nietzsche, may explain why we are the only ones whispering to ourselves within it, and solve both the Fermi Paradox and the Simulation Hypothesis peacefully.

Apocalypse meant uncovering, in the sense of "disclosure of knowledge", not destruction of the world, in the original Greek. Then again, if we are part of our own schema, as seems likely, unveiling our carp-like-ness would result in a sort of self-annihilation, but, compared to most other existential risks (Bostrom, 2008), a far less painful one.

Bostrom, Nick. "Existential risks." Journal of Evolution and Technology 9.1 (2002): 1-31.
Bostrom, N. (2008). Where are they? Why I hope the search for extraterrestrial life finds nothing. Technology Review, 72-78.
Hart, M. H. (1975). Explanation for the absence of extraterrestrials on earth. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, 16, 128.
Nietzsche, F. (1873). On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense. Truth: Engagements Across Philosophical Traditions, 14–25. Retrieved from " See p.1.
"Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowledge. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of "world history," but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die. "
Nietzsche, F. (1968). The Will to Power. (Kaufmann, Walter & Hollingdale, Richard, Trans.). New York, NY: Vintage."to demand that our human interpretations and values should be universal and perhaps constitutive values is one of the hereditary madnesses of human pride" p. 305
Images of the philosophers from their respective wikipedia pages, those of Fermi and Nietzsche in the public domain, and that of Nick Bostrom from the University of Oxford Web site. Ornamental carp image by me, Timothy Takemoto.

Posted by timtak at 08:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Kanty-Me: Einstein, Mach and the long slow death of the thing in itself

Kanty-Me: Einstein, Mach and the long slow death of the thing in itself
To paraphrase the world view of a scientist of my acquaintance, "Information and math are "out there." They are the real universe. Mind exists in the universe. It takes in information from "out there" = from the universe and shows us a movie based upon that information inside our minds." (Levin, 2016)

I think that that this world view is pretty much in line with that of modern science (Tegmark, 2015) since Kant (1902, see quote below).

There are not too many people that criticise this view of the world. They are mainly only raving French people such as Jaques Derrida and Bruno Latour (Latour, 1992).

Latour points out that we believe in a mind as free willing subject also made of information. Between the two poles of the maths out there and the subject up in here, there is the phenomena. The phenomena or "movie" is just a veil, a middle ground, something to watch and move us, but subjective. Out there is just colourless ones and zeros that exist in "a mathematical cyberspace" (Levin, 2016 in conversation).

My friend's world view is a bit like the two of the layers of the movie series The Matrix: we are watching a movie, caused from that dark green flow of information - the Matrix. Except that science, contra the movie, holds that the murky world of information is not a fiction but "out there", the true reality. (I am certainly not saying that I believe in the Wachowskis' third layer - the underground prison.)

However, at the same time, my friend and I are also aware of a coincidence. That the ultimate speed possible "out there" is argued to be, quite coincidentally, the speed of our fastest sensations: visual sensations. Usually this explained with Maxwell's wave equations, Lorentz transformations, and other complex mathematics. My friend and I, and also Einstein, in fact when one looks into it, are aware however of the causal connection between our sensations and the “Universe’s speed limit.” As Norton (2010) points out, the math came later, in the temporal sequence of Einstein's formulation of the theory of relativity. This does not in itself prove that the world is not mathematical, but more on this later.

Another thing that needs to be considered at the same time is how insignificant humans are (Nietzsche, 1873). Were we exceptionally lucky to have been equipped with detectors that can detect the fastest stuff in the universe? This luck would be far to great, far too presumptuous. At the very least we should know that we close relatives of the fruit fly on a speck of dust created yesterday (Nietzsche, 1873). Bearing this in mind, we should know flip about the universe. Lately scientists are saying that we can "only" see 4% of the universe (Panek, 2011), the rest being "dark". But still this is not nearly humble enough. We are bacilli. We should know as close as as makes no difference to nothing. Any realistic science should come to the conclusion that we know not a billion billionth of a percent of the universe, and certainly nothing of its limits. Any science of realistic humility should contain within it a massive "bulk" or "void" which can not be said or known.

These two things
1) The coincidence that our fastest sensation travels at the same speed as the fastest mode of information transfer.
2) That we are utterly insignificant.
raise another possibility, that our view of the world is inside out, and the "out there" is, as it should be, utterly beyond our ken. This possibility is, namely, that our sensation are as near as we will ever get to the out there, and maths is just our theory about our sensation. This possibility if it were true, would explain the coincidence, and leave us in a state of ignorance appropriate to our insignificance. All we were ever knowing was ourselves.

Mach (1897) writes [with notes by me in square brackets] p23

"For us, therefore, the world does not consist of mysterious entities [things in themselves, math], which by their interaction with another equally mysterious entity, the ego [the mind], produce sensations [the movie], which alone are accessible. For us, colours, sounds, spaces, times, are the ultimate elements whose given connexion it is our business to investigate.
Mach's Footnote "I have always felt it as a stroke of special good fortune, that early in life, at about the age of fifteen, I lighted, in the library of my father, on a copy of Kant's Prolegomena zu jeder Künftigen Metaphysik. The book made at the time a powerful and ineffaceable impression upon me, the like of which I never afterwards experienced in any of my philosophical reading. Some two or three years later the superfluous role played by "the thing in itself" [math] abruptly dawned upon me. On a bright summer day under the open heaven, the world with my ego suddenly appeared to me as one coherent mass of sensations..." (Mach, 1897, p23. See also the brilliant diagram on p.16)

It was reading this book by Mach (1897), and similar philosophy by Hume (1739), that inspired Einstein to theorise about light (Norton, 2010).

Science attempts to persuade us that the world is made of "the things in themselves," (information / math, something a bit like the above image perhaps) but consideration of the theory of relativity from a "batty" perspective (Takemoto, 2014) -- that it is our sensations which constrain the world rather than world which constrains our sensations -- which is the way in fact that Einstein himself conceived it (Norton, 2010), presents us with a frightening and humbling fall to earth. There is no math "out there". In the immortal words of Michael Jackson, we are the world.

Hume, D. (1739). A Treatise of Human Nature. Courier Corporation. See "Reason ought and is only to be the slave of the passions (and sensations)"
Kant, I. (1902). Prolegomena to any future metaphysics that can qualify as a science. Open Court Publishing. Retrieved
And we indeed, rightly considering objects of sense as mere appearances, confess thereby that they are based upon a thing in itself, though we know not this thing in its internal constitution, but only know its appearances, viz., the way in which our senses are affected by this unknown something. The understanding therefore, by assuming appearances, grants the existence of things in themselves also, and so far we may say, that the representation of such things as form the basis of phenomena, consequently of mere creations of the understanding, is not only admissible, but unavoidable. (Kant, 1902, section32)
Latour, B. (1992). One more turn after the social turn: Easing science studies into the non-modern world. In McMullin, E (Ed.), The Social Dimensions of Science (pp. 272–29). South Bend, IN: Notre Dame University Press. Retrieved from
Mach, E. (1897). Contributions to the Analysis of the Sensations. (C. M. Williams, Trans.). The Open court publishing company. Retrieved from
Nietzsche, F. (1873). On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense. Truth: Engagements Across Philosophical Traditions, 14–25. Retrieved from " See p.1.
"Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowledge. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of "world history," but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die. "
Norton, J. D. (2010). How Hume and Mach Helped Einstein Find Special Relativity. Discourse on a New Method: Reinvigorating the Marriage of History and Philosophy of Science, 359–86. Retrieved from|lang_fr|lan...
Panek, R. (2011). The 4 percent universe: Dark matter, dark energy, and the race to discover the rest of reality. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Takemoto, T. (2014). Einstein, Bats and ‘Past-Pointing’ Dark Matter. Holistic Science Journal ISSN 2044-4389, 2(3). Retrieved from
Tegmark, M. (2015). Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality. New York: Vintage.

Image above created by the Matrix Image Generator
I was saying this stuff back in 2003. Slow!
The answers here are amazing

Posted by timtak at 08:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hanya as First Person Face: Is Hanya looking out of your eyes?

Hanya as First Person Face: Is Hanya looking out of your eyes?
There is apparently absolutely no meangingful connection whatsoever between the character of Hanya, a devil woman, that appears in Noh drama and Shinto mythical plays (pictured above), and the Japanese name for The (Hanya) Heart Sutra which distils the pith of the wisdom of Buddhism into a text of one page. In Buddhist terminology, Hannya refers to knowledge of enlightenment.

The story goes that a Buddhist priest who was adept at making Hanya masks was called "Hanya-monk" (般若坊) due to his predilection for the Heart Sutra, or Hanya masks, and so a purely random connection between sutra and mask was made. I will here argue otherwise.

The Heart Sutra (Hanya- Shin-Kyo or Hanya Heart Sutra in Japanese) proclaims that" colour is emptiness" and "emptiness is colour". I can appreciate that assertion. Nishida using the language of phenomenology, asserts the same thing: in the purity of experience, when one has bracketed off all that which can be denied, then this big orb of 'colour' has absolutely no qualities, not colour nor even that of, not subject but, object which, like our initial certainty of colour (that is "red" isn't it?) dissolve into a purity, about which one can say nothing.

At the same time, I do find it impossible to merge myself with this wall of impossible colours. Intellectually, I agree with Nishida, experientially however, something prevents my dissolution.

Nishida (1965) claims that the self is is supported by a 'devil hidden in the depths of seeing'. What does he mean?

Going off at what might seem a tangent, Dr. Leroy McDermott (1996), a professor of psychology formerly of the University of Central Missouri, argues that the shape of paleolithic figurines, which tend to be of a plump, lozenge shape, and are found the world over, is not due to the fact that people back then were fat, nor due to some emphasis upon feminine fecundity, but due to the fact that they were of self-person body views.

The first thing that struck me about McDermott's brilliant insight is that I had not even realised that my first person view of my body is any different from the third person view such I am shown in photos or as is reflected in a mirror. It takes however, just a moment of self inspection to realise that, yes, my hands and feet do of course taper off to spidery extremities, and my chest shoulders and stomach are very large. Even though I am a man, my first person view of myself has full bosom.

My initial interest in Dr. McDermott's research was merely to note that his thesis largely applies to Japanese snow goggle dogu figurines from a similar palaeolithic period. I contacted him with this observation. He responded politely. I wondered whether the famous snow goggled faces of Japanese Venus figurines might also represent a first person view of someone squinting through almost shut eyes.

It was only much later that I became interested in the question as to *why* palaeolithic people made such representations. Here I must respectfully part company with the brilliant Dr. McDermott. He argues that their construction was motivated by a desire for self-representation coupled with the lack of mirrors or reflective technology. But as a McDermott-detractor mentioned to me privately, and as one of the commentators to his paper asserts, even if looking glasses were particularly dark in those days, surfaces of water did exist and, more to the point, sculptors were regularly and universally presented with images of their peers. Even the most primitive person should and would have been able to add two and two, or people and puddle, together. So, there must have been some other reason for the worldwide propensity to reproduce such, to our way of thinking, distorted body views.

This detraction, while tempting, misses a step. It succeeds for me in disconfirming Dr. McDermott's 'lack of mirror technology thesis'. Even palaeolithic sculptors, if motivated solely by the desire to self-represent, would also have been able to extrapolate from puddles and peers. But at the same time, bearing in mind the strong resemblance between palaeolithic figurines and the first person form, as clearly demonstrated by Dr. McDermott's papers, to reject this resemblance as original/causal -- replacing it with some supposed universal woman-shape-worshipping fertility rite -- would be to chuck the baby out with the bath water. The supposed lack of mirrors is bath water, in one way or another. The humongous baby is the amazing and persuasive realisation that the universality of the shape of palaeolithic Venus figurines is due to the fact that they really do represent first person body views. This is the insight that brings science and sensibility to that which was previously considered to be some sort of misguided, magical hocus-pocus.

We are still left with the question as to why did so many peoples all over the globe at a similar stage of human development, find themselves so interested in the form of the first person body view, that they should create sculptures representing first-person-body views over and over again, almost to the exclusion of all other sculptural self-representations? Why were they so obsessed?

I can suggest two reasons from developmental psychology, both of which seem to be overlooked.

The first is that developmental psychologists, from, for example, observation of infants playing with mobiles that are typically left to hang above cribs, reach the conclusion that the first, most primitive, and original recognition and representation of self, occurring many months before we narrate or recognise ourselves in mirrors, is the first person view of self.

Lewis and Brooks-Gunn (1979) for example argue, persuasively to my ears, in the following way.

"Gregory is also about 3 months old. Lately he has begun to coo loudly during those moments between waking and calling his mother by crying. One morning, Gregory's mother walks quietly into his bedroom and finds him awake, on his back, with his right hand extended above him and to the right; his head is turned towards his hand and he is watching his fingers move with considerable interest.

The proprioceptive feedback from the two events and actions (looking and moving one's hands and fingers) are both located in the same nervous system. This example differs markedly from the first since the child can operate on both events, rather than just one event, being external to the organism. The infant, having control of both actions can turn to look at the object or have the object move into the field of vision. This duality of subject and object must represent the beginning of the self as distinct from other." (Lewis & Brooks-Gunn, 1979, p.3.)

Despite the persuasiveness of such developmental psychological theories of the self as originating in self-views, 'this great leap for mankind' is all but ignored in non-developmental psychological theories of the self, such as those of Smith, Mead, Freud, Bakhtin, Vygotsky and the numerous 'narrative self' psychologists. Where did the first person view self disappear to?

And this brings me to my second and more important reason why palaeolithic people the world over may have been interested in representing their first person view of self, which is because she was then, and is now, still here. That deserves capitalisation, and then some. SHE IS STILL HERE!

My sudden use of the feminine pronoun "she" to refer to "the first person view self," runs ahead of its explanation.

In the same aforementioned, fairly mainstream scholarship of the self -- Smith, Mead, Freud, Bakhtin, Vygotsky and others -- there is also mention of the need for an intra-psychic other: some one else in our mind (!). This very peculiar "other" is argued to be essential, but at the same time it is given short shrift. Very little explanation is given of what, where, and how, this most proximal of others might be.

Re-enter the first person self-view, which is closer than the veins in our neck.

Upon inspection of the features of my my own face from my first person view point, it seems to me that it has considerable similarity with the features of the classic, devil woman Hanya mask of Japanese dramatic art.

Note first that Hanya does not look anything like real Japanese ladies, who tend to have small noses, flat cheekbones, and small round chins.

My first person view of my face, and the first person view that Japanese ladies and men have of their faces, however, has quite a lot in common the features represented by the Hanya mask. While I find myself unable to take a first person perspective photo of my face from my the perspective of my own eyes, I hope readers will be persuaded that (numbers correspond to those on the insert bottom left)
1) The nose in both is extremely large at least for a Japanese woman (the Western version of Hanya would be even more grotesque)
2) Our brow impinges upon our view such as is suggested by Hanya's overhung brow
3) The cheeks in my first person view and Hanya's face, protrude absurdly
4) Nothing is visible of my lower face except, with effort my lower lip which may explain the protrusion of Hanya's chin. In other words, my first person face view is all squeezed up around my eyes, with a glimpse of bottom lip like this representation.
5) Unless I or any woman, were to have a long fringe ony that would be visible. My forehead, upper head and hair (if I had any) is invisible. The small forehead of the hanya mask is more appropriate than the my mock-up in the insert.
6) Our mouths are invisible. I am not sure why they are large. The related Shinja ("true snake") mask is portrayed with a tongue which I can see if I stick it out.
7) Our eyes about which our first-person view of our face form but glimpse of a frame, contain the whole world of "colour" or light. As such they may be said to be "metallic" like the tain of mirror, or as in the case of the larger mask, on fire.

This hypothesis does not explain the fangs or horns but if my first person view is really the place where the "demon" (Nishida) is lurking, then their addition may represent the fact that Hanya's countenance is so terrible, that I am generally unable to become aware of her.

And by this means, it is with Hanya's help, I think, that I believe that I am my third person self-representations, and that my representations of others, these little people that walk across my visual field are not empty, but real. I propose therefore that when one sees the truth of the Heart Sutra, one meets Hanya, and vice versa.

The naming of the Heart Sutra is initially quite fortuitous, but turns out to be, in retrospect, no coincidence. That monk knew what he was going on about.

Hanya and my heart are two sides of the same emptiness. Or rather, at the edge of that emptiness, Hanya stands guard.

In other cultural contexts Hanya may be referred to as "the whore of Babylon," and my brows, cheeks, mouth, and each side of my nose may be that which is referred to as the seven hills, seven vermilion hills upon which she is said to reside. I prefer to call her Hanya since it implies respect.

The main image top centre is a picture of an excellent handcrafted Hanya Craft Mask available for purchase from The Japan Store.

Lewis, M., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (1979). Social Cognition and the Acquisition of Self. Boston, MA: Springer US. Retrieved from
McDermott, L. R. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275.

But the clickers come at night!
The lyric popped into my mind.

What is Hanya's relationship to our "original face"? "What is primordially Emyo (i.e., your true self), if you do not think this is good nor do you think this is evil?" Hanya is not evil but she is mighty pissed off, for the reasons explained in the song above, I think.

It is all so obvious! ha.
Lacan's mirror stage >> narative self seems plausible but it jumps a step. Both the self in the mirror and the self as narrated are third person objective selves. They are selves that could be selves for other people. As Lacan points out, infants cry when other infant get hurt because in part that falling image is as much me as the image in the mirror. Believing oneself to be Napoleon or even self-enhancement is easy, or the verification required to disprove them hard, because like mirror images, they are third personal. Anyone could be any of them.

The self-person-body-view self is before all that. And not only prior but it remains. I am the other, mother, Hanya, the whore. It is seriously bad situation.

But then again, while it is horrific when looking at a hand mirror
Hanya evolved to skate behind young daughters.

Hitler's big lie theory rests on the supposition that people are used to detecting small lies in others, but not in detecting real whoppers, so the bigger the lie, the more it is believed. I think that in addition, as another reason why we tend to ignore big lies, we may all be living in an enormous lie that we are used to ignoring completely.

Posted by timtak at 08:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jacob Boehme's Mother

Jacob Boehme's Mother
I am an engineer. I studied electronic engineering. I love the way that engineering allows us to post images to the Internet, make smart phones, and cure diseases. I am a nerd.

But I don't think that engineering qua "science" is all that good at describing being because it rather fails to describe the most immediate and important being: experience. What and where is our experience? As far as I know, science does not have an answer. There is a strong temptation to believe that this big oval of light is in our brains. But which ever way one chops up a brain experience will never be found.

Every part of this experience is also indescribable. If I see something I call "red," I am at the same time aware that "red" depends upon my agreement with other people, and that beautiful blob which I am seeing is not anything that I can agree on with anyone. This is the problem of science/ engineering. Science, nay engineering, can only describe that which can be experimented upon but I can't experiment upon things that are not objective and therefore publicly verifiable. I can only speak metaphorically of my experience, my life.

Worse still, it seems to me that most of the time I assume that I can speak "scientifically" about my experience and I assume that everyone else sees the same thing as me. This belief may well be misguided. Unless "everyone else" is my "everyone else," perhaps. What traps me in my science, nay engineering, world?

My belief in science -- which is in fact just engineering -- may be too strong. Why is this? What encourages us to think that our engineering is science? What encourages us to thing that our theories about the world are the world?

Jakob Böhme was a Christian mystic. I have been looking forward to reading some Christian mysticism for a long time but have not gotten around to it. I happened to pick up a copy of his "Confessions" and opened it at a random page.

For a page or two he encouraged religious tolerance saying something along the lines of "it is not important what one avows but that one lives right, thus Jews and Muslims may be better than avowed but bad Christians." That seemed fair, I thought.

Then suddenly, and this was only on the third page that I read, he said things close to my own heart.

" O man! consider who leadeth and driveth thee, for eternally without end is very long.
Temporal honour and goods are but dross in the sight of God; it all falleth into the grave with thee and cometh to nothing; but to be in the will of God is eternal riches and honour; there, there is no more care, but our Mother careth for us in whose bosom we live as children.

Thy temporal honour is thy snare and thy misery; in divine hope and confidence is they garden of roses. Dost though suppose again I that I speak from hearsay? No, I speak the very life in my own experience; not in an opinion from the mouth of another, but from my own knowledge. I see with my own eyes; which I boast not of, for the power is the Mother's. I exhort thee to enter into the bosom of the Mother, and learn also to see with they own eyes: so long as those dost suffer thyself to be rocked in a cradle and dost desire the eyes of others thou art blind. But if though riseth up from the cradle and go to the Mother, then thou shalt discern the Mother and her children. "

I am going to read more of Jacob Boehme.

I am a grotesque fantasy that my Mother has.

Posted by timtak at 08:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Seven Hills of the Whore

Seven Hills of the Whore
In "The Next Day" the main single on David Bowie's penultimate album, he portrays a priest accompanied by a whore. At the beginning of the video the whore may have no eyes since they seem to have been served on a plate for consumption.

This "eyes of another" theme may be found in other songs by David Bowie such as
1) The close ups of David Bowie's eyes in the video for "Is there life on Mars," when he is playing "the girl with the mousey hair."

2) The way in which David Bowie seems to have lost his own eyes to be replaced by "buttons" in Lazarus and Blackstar

3) That in Blackstar Bowie proclaims that "your eyes" are at the "centre of it all"

Bowie seems to be suggesting that he has lost his own eyes, their having become haunted or possessed by a phantasmagorical female. Is it only Bowie who has this problem?

In "The Next Day" Bowie also seems to availing Christianity, or Catholicism, which he portrays as dragging the eyeless whore, whose eyeballs we are eating. What is he going on about?

First of all is there any mention of a whore in Christianity? Whore, harlot or prostitute is mentioned generally disparagingly many times in the Bible. However, in Revelations we are told that it there is a whore that enslaves humanity, and it would seem that from this whore that humanity is eventually saved.

The Bible does not have a lot to say about the Whore of Babylon. The wikipedia page gives 12 sections in which it is said that for example, 'she sits on many waters, which represent peoples, multitudes nations and tongues, and that basically the whole of humanity is "drunk on the wine of her fornication."

We are also told that she 'sits upon a scarlet coloured beast' hence my colouring of the above image, though I had no idea of the meaning (but now i realise that the mounds are coloured by the beast's nose) and that 17:9 And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth."

The first two images top and centre are adapted from Doctor Leroy McDermott's seminal and increasingly famous paper, "Self-Representation in Upper Paleolithic Female Figurines," in which he argues that the distorted way that women are depicted in paleolithic "Venus" figurines is a result of their being a depiction of the first person view of their creator. We do not usually notice, I believe, that our first person view of ourselves is very different to the third person view of ourselves such as we see reflected in mirrors. Our first person view of ourselves
1) has massive brows eye sockets and and two ghostly noses, but is otherwise headless
2) a greatly enlarged upper body
3) In comparison to its other parts, thin, **spidery** lower legs and feet.

Thus, paleolithic peoples the world over made figurines in a "lozenge" shape because, McDermott argues, lacking mirrors, they saw themselves from first person perspectives alone.

What McDermott does not argue, but I suggest here, is that we may still have a first person view of ourselves distinct from our third person view, and further that we may give this first person view a personality, or personae, in the psychological drama which creates our sense of self. Many psychologists argue that our sense of self depends upon perceiving ourselves from the point of view of another. Little more is said about intra-psychic other, or imaginary friend.

The possibility that we retain both a first person and a third person self image may be suggested by the mirror reversal effect (高野, 1997). We find people reflected in mirrors to be right left reversed. Nothing is in fact reversed. That which is on the left is displayed on the left. But if we were to imagine (or be imagining) being another being (a first person view) in the same world as the person (a third person view) that we see in the mirror then we know that "his" first person body view would be the opposite of ours, and so feel our image in the mirror to be reversed.

The process I am proposing is extremely simple. Children enjoy watching their own hands and feet, and presumably think of their first person view as being themselves. Indeed self-observation of self movement is argued to be "the beginning of self" (Lewis & Brooks-Gunn, 1979, p.3). Later they are told that no, it is that in the mirror that is you. Do children then discard their identification with their original first person view? Or perhaps can the "me in the mirror" be integrated with the me that I see when I look down? I suggest in both cases not and that instead children retain both personae, and engage in a fantasy featuring both first and third person body image. The fantasy starts off quite innocently, like the games that children play with teddy bears and dolls. And just as is the case in their games with dolls, what could be more natural than to relate to their new doll-in-the mirror from the point of view of an affectionate loving parent, often their mother. So far so good. But what if human infancy should be so extended that humans engage in this fantasy after puberty? In that case it may be that for male infants at least the relationship between the first person personae and the third person personae becomes sexualised. If so, if we are identifying with the imaginary sex friend of an imaginary friend, it would be an abomination; so unpleasant that we may not be able face up to what we are doing. And hence it may be the case that our subjectivity is, our eyes are, haunted by a "whore."

Then what of the "hills" or "mountains" upon which the whore is, in the Bible said to be sitting? It seems to me that my body viewed from the first person perspective presents to me that which could be described as a range of mountains. The first person view of my body could be said to be "mountainous" since, being up close, is an area of my visual field larger than most mountains in the external world. The above two two images are of the first person view of a pregnant woman above, and a simulation of the first person view of an upper Paleolithic Venus figurine from Lespugue in France below, both from McDermott's (1996) paper. The middle image happens to have, quite fortuitously perhaps, approximately seven mounds, hills, or mountains corresponding to the arms, breasts, stomach, legs and feet. If the legs were apart then it would have 9 "hills," but again only seven (two arms, chest, two knees and two feet) if the first person view where that of a man (as photographed in the image above bottom) which seems more likely bearing in mind the authorship of Revelations.

I used to think that the concepts of "sin" and "evil" were bizarre. There is of course so much cultural relativity, for instance. Much of what the Bible regards as "sin" relates to sexual acts, which at the same time, in animals at least, appear to be "natural." But, lately it seems to me that sin and evil may be useful to describe acts performed even though one hates them, to the point of not being able to face up to them, oneself.

Even if I were right about the nature of the "whore", in Bowie or the Bible, I can't face up to her. "Turn and face the strange", Bowie said. I can not. I did once, and can avouch for the fact all I say here was true for me, except in my self-speech rather than my vision. Since I can't yet go back there, perhaps this means I should not speak about her. I am not sure.

Please be so kind as to leave a comment should anyone wish this image removed.

Image (with pubic hair blurred out to conform with Japanese law) based on figure 6 "Oblique aerial views of front body surfaces. Top, 30 year old Caucasian female, four months pregnant; bottom, same view of figurine from Lespugue (cast). " p. 241
McDermott, L.. (1996). Self-Representation in Upper Paleolithic Female Figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275.
Lewis, M., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (1979). Social Cognition and the Acquisition of Self. Boston, MA: Springer US. Retrieved from
高野陽太郎. (1997). 鏡の中のミステリー. 岩波書店.

Gregory is also about 3 months old. Lately he has begun to coo loudly during those moments between waking and calling his mother by crying. One morning, Gregory's mother walks quietly into his bedroom and finds him awake, on his back, with his right hand extended above him and to the right; his head is turned towards his hand and he is watching his fingers move with considerable interest.

The proprioceptive feedback from the two events and actions (looking and moving one's hands and fingers) are both located in the same nervous system. This example differs markedly from the first since the child can operate on both events, rather than just one event, being external to the organism. The infant, having control of both actions can turn to look at the object or have the object move into the field of vision. This duality of subject and object must represent the beginning of the self as distinct from other. p.3.

Lewis, M., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (1979). Social Cognition and the Acquisition of Self. Boston, MA: Springer US. Retrieved from

What can be done?

Once you have seen her, and I have, it seems to me that the Christian gambit, replacing the "knowing" paraclete/helpmeet, with a chaste, male or androgynous replacement becomes difficult. As I have written elsewhere, parables are effective due to the fact that, and while, they are misunderstood. For this reason, I may be being unspeakably evil by writing about the above.

At the same time, however, I don't think that reading the above is likely to result in really-seeing, grokking, the situation. There is conversely, I hope, the vague possibility that readers, especially the scientific ones, may see some sense in what I am saying, and possibly even attempt to find a friend in Jesus, Amida or Allah (by passing helpmeets altogether) or attempt to turn off the horror show by some sort of meditation, such as Zen. Scientists may, in other words, wish to embrace a more healthy fiction or see through the fiction which is (scientific!) reality.

But is there nothing new that can be done?

The Japanese seem to have, in addition to Amida (Amidism is very popular in Japan) , or to have had, an alternative method of getting "her" out via shame, and laughter, rather than self flagellation (depicted in Bowie's video - there is a devil at the bar who seems to be flagellating himself) or suffering. Wouldn't that be great, if there were a cheerful way of extricating ourselves from this?

I certainly do not mean to suggest, and this is what I am scared of, that we accept what we may be doing (though that is what I may be doing). There seems to be some side of that aspect in Bowie who made record after record, it seems to me, about his love affair with himself. Towards the end of his life however, he seems to have been 'repentant' and have realised that the internal love affair leads to death. I think that is what he is saying in "Valentine's Day" a remake of "Heroes," with a negative conclusion.

So what is the cheerful way that the Japanese may have dealt with the problem? Cutting to the chase, the solution may have been cross-dressing.

I should say first of all that I think that there are two ways of going about the self-comforting. One can see oneself, or one can hear oneself speak. The Japanese may have a tendency towards the former.

The most famous scene in Japanese mythology, which is the basis of their version of J-Christmas, is one in which the Sun Goddess retreats into a cave with very negative consequences. Let us say that this corresponds to the eating of the whore's eyeballs, and seeing oneself from the Blackstar inside ones eyes. The Japanese mythical solution may have been to enact the internal fantasy as external drama; a deity may have dressed as a woman and performed a sexual dance, which caused laughter, and resulted in the Sun Goddess coming out of her cave. I have described the mythic scene in more detail here

I am suggesting that (in contradiction to my worries at the start of this self-comment) if one can externalise, or act out, the grotesque behaviour that we may be doing, then perhaps one can bring to bear the force of shame and laughter. What we may be doing, may be so grotesque as to be sad, horrible, and disgusting but also laughably so. The sensations of guilt and sin are powerful motivators for self improvement, but seeing oneself as an object of (self) derision may also be similarly motivating.

Thus, in order to stop this horror:

1) Those that have a visual self relationship might cross dress and perform erotic dances (as perhaps is represented in Japanese mythology) and see what they are doing as laughably shameful.

2) Those that have a phonocentric self-relationship, "hearing oneself speak," might attempt to speak to themselves with a feminine, or cross-dressed, voice.

As an Amidist, I chant, the name of the Amida Buddha (a giant, sinner-saving hermaphrodite made of light, apparently). Since a few days ago, I have tried chanting in falsetto. I sound like the opening of "Blackstar."

I really worry about the followers of "the headless way" who seem to attempt to be "the light bearer," the bringer of morning.

But then, I am not better.

More recently I think that the hills, the the whore, are closer in. The hills areour brow, nose and cheeks. This is basically the same theory. She, the whore, Hanya, is looking with us.

Posted by timtak at 08:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dennet James Nishida

Dennet James Nishida

Daniel Dennet (1992) famously argued that the self is like "a centre of gravity," a theoretical or fictional entity that no physicists claim exists on a level with quarks and neutrinos. Dennet claims that fictional entities, such as the self and centres of gravity, may be distinguished from physical existences by the use of the principle of indeterminacy. Whether Sherlock Holmes had a mole on his sholder blade or not may be indeterminate if unmentioned in Conan-Doyles' ouvre, whereas there is an answer for all physical men and other objects - either they have a mole or they do not.

As far as I know this assertion is contradicted by the uncertainty principle.Indeterminancy leads some quantum physicists (Bohm, and perhaps Wheeler) to assert that all existences are similarly theoretical. Dennet also seems, as detractors allege, to explain away the self without problematizing its absence. Convinced as he is of the objective reality of the physical world, contra selves, he is content to deny the physical existence of selves and to claim that questions as to where selves take place are "a category mistake," like asking to be shown a centre of gravity.

Furthermore, not only does Daniel Dennet look rather like the founder of psychology, William James, but Dennet also shares at least one of James' ideas.

In James' lengthier consideration of the nature of the unity of self (2013/1890 online. page numbers not given) James writes, "The herd's unity is only potential, its centre ideal, like the 'centre of gravity' in physics, until the herdsman or owner comes. He furnishes a real centre of accretion to which the beasts are driven and by which they are held. The beasts stick together by sticking severally to him. Just so, common-sense insists, there must be a real proprietor in the case of the selves, or else their actual accretion into a 'personal consciousness' would never have taken place."
James goes on to deny the existance of a herdsman, but finds a unity in self perceptions (which go to form "me") in their having being percieved in the same consciousness or "I". I can find no mention of James in Dennet's seminal paper but James does get a mention in "Consciousness Explained" (away).

Nishida however looks self in its eye and takes makes a more withering appraisal. Nishida writes "Lets take another look at this (contradiction) from the unity of our self-consciousness. The phenomenon of our consciousness [of ourselves?] are each of them independent and self representational. It is probably fair to say that each and everyone of these claim and require themselves to be [thought] self-like. Furthermore, our selves are not as James says, like a herd of sheep branded with some mark, but are as a negative unification of the things that represent the associated self, possesing of some form. Such as, our personality or our identity. Self is [however?] not some external, metaphysical entity but in the place where consciousness takes place, and the each moment of our consciouness [likewise] claims and requires to be [thought] total self-like. Furthermore in the place where this is negatively unified there is that which may be called the true self (Nishida, 1966, Kindle Location, 333. My translation).

The self in Nishida is inherently contradictory; contradiction is its central defining characteristic. Nishida does not sweep consciousness under the carpet, like Dennet. Nor suggest that consciousness can provide an anchor or "brand" for for the sheep of our self-representations, like James. Rather, for Nishida the self is self-contradictory in more than one way. As pure experience (I think of Mach's visual field) the self is simultaneously both self and world. As a Liebnitzian monad (Nishida, 1966, loc 309) it contains a whole cosmos, but it is at the same time only one perspective. And hereabove, as a flow of consciouness and a static form, the self contradicts itself. The "I" (in James) which might provide a brand or mark of unity to self-representations denies it as it provides it since it is a flow and they are forms, and vice versa. The true self is for Nishida, the place of its own contradiction, the lived awareness of its absence.

The question that remains unanswered, for me, is why I continue to believe in a self. Nishida (1966, 333) provides only half of that story. The demonic remainder is the way in which I think I have allowed myself to model the perspective of another in my consciousness, from whose perspective my self-representations are indentified as me, as Mead argues, and further how I manage to hide the other who shares, or garrison's (Freud) my heart. In that respect I continue to believe in a self because I am more than one person, morphed.

「再び我々の自己意識の意識統一によって考えて見よう。我々の意識現象は、その一々が独立であり、自己表現的である。その一々が自己たるを出張し要求するといってよかろう。しかも我々の自己というのはジェームズのいう羊群の刻印の如きものではなく、かかる自己自身を表現するものの否定的統一として、形を有ったものでなければならない。それが我々の性格とか個性とかいうものである。自己というのものが超越的に外にあるおのではなく、意識する所そこに自己があるのであり、その時その時の意識が我々の全自己たるを主張し要求する。しかもそれを否定的に統一し行く所に、真の自己というものがあるのである。」Nishida, Kitaro. 西田幾多郎(1965/?) 『絶対矛盾的自己同一』 Absolutely Contradictory Self-Identity, Kindle Version. Location 333/1049

Dennett, D. C. (1992). The self as a center of narrative gravity.
James, W. (2013/1890). The principles of psychology. Read Books Ltd. Retrieved from
Nishida, Kitaro (1965/?) “Zettai mujunteki jikodōitsu” 絶対矛盾的自己同一 (Absolutely Contradictory Self-
identity), 西田幾多郎全集, Iwanami Shoten vol. 9. or free in html from
and free in Kindle form from

Images icons from Google image search morphed by

Posted by timtak at 08:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

She Loves You: The Lover as Letter or Voice

She Loves You: The Lover as Letter or VoiceFrom consideration of David Bowie's video for "Life on Mars" with its close ups of Bowie's eyes, and overhead shots of Bowie miniaturised, and of McDermott's interpretation of palaeolithic figurines (McDermott, 1996), and Japanese (Philippi, 1968, p.70) and Guamanian (‘Folktale’, n.d.; Sellman, 2006) myths of eyes and brows, and myths, songs (Take My Tip, Glass Spider) and sculptures and a world wide tour about a spider woman, it seems to me that a relationship between two part-personae may be modelled in my visual field, between a first person view of myself as (1) giant nose, brow, and spidery legs (for the relevance of spiders, and their legs, see e.g. Harding's picture of his first person view and the figures in McDermott's paper), and (2) the little person that I am taught to see as me, in the mirror.

It is relatively easy to see how me may animate or anthropomorphise our mirror image (Lacan, 1966/2007). We tend to forget however, our distorted first person views of ourselves. Who apart from Mach (1897, p. 16) and I draw the noses? Palaeolithic peoples used to make models of her (McDermott, 1996), and sometimes smash them. Douglas Harding, though fond of Mach (1807, p.16) aware of his spiderly legs, and large of nose, may have missed "her" completely.

I have been considering this terrifying closeness, difference in size, uni-dimensionality ("by the wall", or "hooked to a silver screen") and the way in which a similarly grotesque love affair may occur in my self-speech. If so, where in my self-narrative is (s)he hiding?

And it seemed to me, from consideration of the way in which my first person view is *almost* the whole field in which I appear as "tiny" reflection, that, as I caught myself speaking to myself in grotesque, gentle tones, I have had a glimpse of that which I have known all along: (S)he is my voice! I am completely within her. Taking a postal metaphor, she is a lover as letter. A letter lover perhaps, Envoi, En voix (Derrida, 1987).

From the point of view of ventriloquism, which is that from which I started, the third part of the ventriloquist's act, in addition to the actor (who does not believe in speaking puppets), and the puppet, is the ventriloquist's voice. Only the ventriloquist's voice believes in the puppet. The third personae is no more, no less than a voice.

She likes to talk about little me. At least she has something close to corporeality. I am merely what she describes, the fiction described by an obscene letter-lover.

This explains why Derrida (1987, p. 9) wrote that it is Plato (typically thought to have been doing the listening) that is really dictating, and why Heraclitus says that it is the Sibyl that voices the logos, and why Torlino, the elder Navajo said "I am ashamed before that standing within me which speaks with me (my conscience!)." His conscience *speaks* within him, viewing him. This is also the reason why Pynchon wrote,
"Whenever I put the headset on now," he'd continued, "I really do understand what I find there. When those kids sing about 'She loves you,' yeah well, you know, she does, she's any number of people, all over the world, back through time, different colors, sizes, ages, shapes, distances from death, but she loves. And the 'you' is everybody. And herself. Oedipa, the human voice, you know, it's a flipping miracle." (Pynchon, 1966/2006, p. 117; see Signell, 2016)

Many authors theorise that we create self through narrative (Bruner, 1991; Dennett, 1992; Dweck, 2000; Freeman, 1992; Kerby, 1991; MacAdams, 1997; Polkinghorne, 1991; Velleman, 2005) or occasionally in Japan, "mask" (Watsuji, 2011).

But the other of the self ("super addressee" Bakhtin, 1986; "Super Ego", Freud, 1961; Other, Lacan, 1966/2007; "Generalised Other", Mead, 1967; "Impartial Spectator," Smith, 1812) implied by these representations, is ineffable, rarely argued to have any phenomenological aspect, other than these ("super-ego" etc.) abstractions. It may be the case, however, that our 'comforter,' is represented or embodied within us, in terribly familiar ways.

"But the Sibyl, with raging mouth, according to Heraclitus, uttering things solemn, rude and unadorned, reaches with her voice over a thousand years"

in the Post Card (1987), where Plato and Socrates on the front of the postcard may represent the sides of himself that are sending (or voicing) the postcards are reversed. Derrida wrote "Have you seen this card, the image on the back [dos] of this card? I stumbled across it yesterday, in the Bodleian (the famous Oxford library), I'll tell you about it. I stopped dead, with a feeling of hallucination (is he crazy or what? he has the names mixed up!) and of revelation at the same time, an apocalyptic revelation: Socrates writing, writing in front of Plato, I always knew it, it has remained like the negative of a photograph to be developed for twenty0five centuries -- in me of course. Sufficient to write it in broad daylight. The revelation is there." (Derrida, 1987, p.9)

Torlino the elder
"I know the white men say the world is round, and that it floats in the air. My tale says the world is flat, and that there are five worlds, one above another. You will not believe my tale, then, and perhaps you do not want to hear it. Being assured that the tale was earnestly desired, despite of all white men's theories, he proceeded, "I shall tell you the truth, then. I shall tell you all that I heard from the old men who taught me, as well as I can now remember. Why should I lie to you ?" And then he made the interesting asseveration which is here literally translated: "I am ashamed before the earth; I am ashamed before the heavens; I am ashamed before the dawn; I am ashamed before the evening twilight; I am ashamed before the blue sky; I am ashamed before the darkness; I am ashamed before the sun; I am ashamed before that standing within me which speaks with me (my conscience!). Some of these things are always looking at me. I am never out of sight. Therefore I must tell the truth. That is why I always tell the truth. I hold my word tight to my breast." (Matthews, 1897, pp58..59)

Looking down at my arms and legs I had thought of a jellyfish or octopus. I wonder if a first person view influenced Ringo Starr's Octopus's Garden, which George Harrison described as "cosmic".

As Lacan argues, we feel that these the two romances between part-personae in our sounds and vision, intersect; that the tiny person in the mirror speaks. But how could something visible ever speak? The image that we see of ourselves could at best be lip synching. This disconnect is the meaning of the pivotal scenes in David Lynch's Blue Velvet and Mulholland Dr.

Derrida, J. (1987). The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. (A. Bass, Trans.) (First Edition). University Of Chicago Press.
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Freeman, M. (1992). Self as narrative: The place of life history in studying the life span. The Self: Definitional and Methodological Issues, 15–43.
Kerby, A. P. (1991). Narrative and the Self. Indiana University Press.
Lacan, J. (2007). Ecrits: The First Complete Edition in English. (B. Fink, Trans.) (1st ed.). W W Norton & Co Inc. (Original work published 1966)
MacAdams, D. P. (1997). The Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making of the Self (1st ed.). Guilford Press.
Matthews, W. (1897). Navaho Legends. American Folk-Lore Society.
Mach, E. (1897). Contributions to the Analysis of the Sensations. (C. M. Williams, Trans.). The Open court publishing company. Retrieved from
McDermott, L. R. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275. Retrieved from
Philippi, D. L. (1968). Kojiki, translated with an introduction and notes. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press. Retrieved from
Polkinghorne, D. E. (1991). Narrative and self-concept. Journal of Narrative and Life History, 1(2), 135–153.
Pynchon, T. (2006). The Crying of Lot 49. New York: Harper Perennial. (Original work published 1966)
Sellman, J. (2006). Non-dual Micronesian Philosophy. In M. Prasad (Ed.), Deadlocks Vaka Vuku (pp. 30–37). Pacific Writing Forum For the School of Language, Arts and Media, Faculty of Arts and Law, The University of the South Pacific. Retrieved from
Signell, A. (2016). The Postmodern self in Thomas Pynchon's the Crying of Lot 49 : Dismantling the unified self by a combination of postmodern philosophy and close reading (Student thesis). University of Gävle, Faculty of Education and Business Studies, Department of Humanities, Gävle, Sweden. Retrieved from
Velleman, J. D. (2005). The self as narrator. Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism: New Essays, 56–76.

Bearing the above possibility in mind, that it is the sybil that speaks, when Kanzi, the symbol using ape first started using symbols (when his mother was absent due to her being busy rearing a sibling) I interpreted that in the following way

Kanzi evolved language in the laboratory, enjoy predicting his actions, "he would touch the lexigram for apple, then go an fetch an apple? (Dessalles, 2007, p62)"

The fact that Kanzi indicated apple before going to get one may not have been any type of prediction, "Look ma, I am going to go and get an) apple," but an order, "(in his mother's voice, or fingers) Go and get an apple Kanzi."

Dessalles, J.-L. (2007). Why we talk: The evolutionary origins of language. Oxford University Press.

Derrida was from Algeria, which is a Muslim country, and may have know that in the Koran, the Devil is often represented as a whisperer and that this whispering began at the fall of man.

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Tom Torlino and his Father who was Right

Tom Torlino and his Father who was Right

A Navaho First American sent his son, pictured above before and after, to study in Carlisle, in England, just south of the border with Scotland. I imagine that Tom may have looked something like the "after"; picture on the left, and his son father akin to the"after" (flipped on the right).

When his son returned Mr. Torlino the elder called for Tom, to tell him about the truth about the world, as follows.

"I know the white men say the world is round, and that it floats in the air. My tale says the world is flat, and that there are five worlds, one above another. You will not believe my tale, then, and perhaps you do not want to hear it. Being assured that the tale was earnestly desired, despite of all white men's theories, he proceeded, "I shall tell you the truth, then. I shall tell you all that I heard from the old men who taught me, as well as I can now remember. Why should I lie to you ?" And then he made the interesting asseveration which is here literally translated: "I am ashamed before the earth; I am ashamed before the heavens; I am ashamed before the dawn; I am ashamed before the evening twilight; I am ashamed before the blue sky; I am ashamed before the darkness; I am ashamed before the sun; I am ashamed before that standing within me which speaks with me (my conscience!). Some of these things are always looking at me. I am never out of sight. Therefore I must tell the truth. That is why I always tell the truth. I hold my word tight to my breast." (Matthews, 1897, pp58..59)

My money is on Tom's dad, Torlino the elder, who nailed it.

National Archives and Records Administration and Dickinson University.

Matthews, W. (1897). Navaho Legends. American Folk-Lore Society.

Venus, Selfie, The World

Venus, Selfie, The World

The oldest depiction of the human form is perhaps the Venus in the The Salle du Fond, the deepest of the Chauvet Cave chambers, discovered in 1994, thought to date to approximately 30,000 years ago. As argued by Jean Clottes, this "Venus" shows proportions typical of Venus figurines from the palaeolithic period (see bottom row of black and white images).

If so, then as argued by Dr. McDermott (1996), the picture may be a "selfie", or auto-portraiture. The image may have large hips and thighs and feet trailing away to nothing due to the perspective of a drawing from a first person view. But why has this Venus been incorporated into the pictures of animals on either side? Was this an attempt to conceal cave-man porn?

At a stretch, the way in which the Venus is also a view of animals, in that it has been incorporated into the drawings of animals (added later) at either side, it may be argued to be representing the philosophical claim found in Enrst Mach (1897) and Nishida that first-person views are, in extremis, of both self and the world. Nishida calls “pure experience” the “radically contradictory self,” since it is both self and the world. Mach (1902) writes "Not the things, the bodies, but colours, sounds, pressures, times (what we usually call sensations) are the true elements of the world [and presumably, as sensations of “me” the first person also]." [my addition] Nietzsche once wrote, I believe, that wherever you point (hora!) one can only point at oneself.

I hear that there are other Venus type friezes in amongst the legs of animals in caves in Rocaux as well, it might be expressing the same intuition: the identify of world and self. But why is there a connection between world and female self? Could the self, the world be female!?

In this connection, recently I came across the following Aztec creation myth from

Quetzalcoatl, the light one, and Tezcatlipoca, the dark one, looked down from their place in the sky and saw only water below. A gigantic goddess floated upon the waters, eating everything with her many mouths.

The two gods saw that whatever they created was eaten by this monster. They knew they must stop her, so they transformed themselves into two huge serpents and descended into the water. One of them grabbed the goddess by the arms while the other grabbed her around the legs, and before she could resist they pulled until she broke apart.

Her head and shoulders became the earth and the lower part of her body the sky.

The other gods were angry at what the two had done and decided, as compensation for her dismemberment, to allow her to provide the necessities for people to survive; so from her hair they created trees, grass, and flowers; caves, fountains, and wells from her eyes; rivers from her mouth; hills and valleys from her nose; and mountains from her shoulders.

Still the goddess was often unhappy and the people could hear her crying in the night. They knew she wept because of her thirst for human blood, and that she would not provide food from the soil until she drank.

So the gift of human hearts is given her. She who provides sustenance for human lives demands human lives for her own sustenance. So it has always been; so it will ever be.

Thanks to David B. (and CP a little) for the inspiration for the above post.

Upper Image from
Lower image from
but perhaps originally from Jean Clottes, 'Return to Chauvet Cave'

Mach, E. (1897). Contributions to the Analysis of the Sensations. (C. M. Williams, Trans.). The Open court publishing company. Retrieved from
McDermott, L. R. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275. Retrieved from

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July 13, 2016

The Invisible Hand and the Partial Specator

The Invisible Hand and the Partial SpecatorAdam Smith believed that, in the words of the character played by Michael Douglas in Wall Street, "greed is good." Smith argued that while human greed knows know bounds, and our desire for wealth, freedom, and longevity is infinite, at the same time our ability to consume is finite. Thus though the wealthy maintain a desire to obtain yet more wealth, they will only be able to consume but a small portion of that wealth which they create. The wealthy will only be able to eat about the same amount of food. They will only be able to sleep in one bed. They were only be able to wear one shirt. So as they have others collect them the best sweetmeats from the far ends of the earth, and have palaces built, or have shirts made from the finest silk, they will employ others who will be paid such as to allow those vassals to eat, sleep, and clothe themselves in not so very different ways from the wealthy. And those thus employed though live more modestly, will obtain the same satisfaction as the wealthy since there is no greater satisfaction to be had in the sweetmeats, palatial bed, or silk shirt, than there is in the bread, bunk and cotton shirt of the peasant, or so Adam Smith argued.

Lately I am finding that the Chinese make some mean cycle gear that improves my winter cycling experience greatly over my peasant latex, but there is a more profound problem with Adam Smith's theory of the "invisible hand": it depends upon the existence of an impartial spectator.

Adam Smith argued that our rapacious desire is fuelled, not by our bodily needs, but our desire to look good to ourselves in our mind's eye. Smith's metaphors are optical. He claims that we separate off a part of ourselves, like a mirror or camera held directed at ourselves on a selfie-stick, from which viewpoint we observe ourselves and choose those actions which we find ourselves most in sympathy with. "That looks good we think," and choose the silk shirt, "That's cool we think" and build ourselves a palace. The problem arises in the extent to which we view ourselves from the position of an impartial or partial spectator.

As you can see I have photoshopped the image above. I could improve it further, make myself younger, healthier thinner, and my house tidier. As bookshelves-full of research have shown, there is nothing so biased and partial as how, Westerners at least, view themselves. We view ourselves with spectacles so rose tinted that we believe ourselves to a charming shade of pink.

Smith was right to argue that we split off a side of ourselves from which vantage point we view ourselves, but he was wrong to argue that this vantage point is impartial. Our mind's camera loves us dearly.

This fact has two important implications.

Firstly, that we judge our behaviour from the viewpoint of simulated self-loving other, or imaginary friend, implies that this mode of self evaluation is itself evaluated positively. That our self love is self-lovable, and we are proud of our pride creates a self-sustaining situation in which we continue to evaluate our behaviour in a self-enhancing way.

Secondly, contra Adam Smith, if we judge our behaviour not "impartially" but from a biased self-loving point of view, then the outcome of this descision making process will not always lead to an increase in utility for humankind as a whole. We may hoard our wealth and rather than attempting to create more wealth, attempt instead to live off the interest, or collect rent on our past endeavours or those of our forebears. In the extreme, we may be able to justify the use of force to extract wealth from others that we then use to our own ends.

Thus, the existence of a partial spectator then this could lead to a self sustaining system which negative outcomes: a bad invisible hand.

I should have made the hand holding the camera invisible.

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June 18, 2015

Black Metal, First Person Views and Goats

Black Metal, First Person Views and GoatsAbove image inspired by the cover of Aderlating, Black Emperor At The Temple's Gate

Growing out of heavy metal bands there is now, and has been since the late 1980s, a darker, more ideological musical genre of "Black Metal." Black Metal is often anti-Christian, Satanic and generally rather bleak. The above image is from the cover of an album of Dutch "Black Ambient" band. Black Ambient is an even bleaker offshoot of Black Metal, without even the aggressive vocal energy.

A couple of tropes that are frequently found in Black music (Black Metal and Black Ambient) are bleeding and goats. The name of the band, Aderlating, to which this cover art belongs means "blood-letting." Another, Finnish, Black Metal band is called "Impaled Nazerene" where, apparently, the "impaled" refers to the use of a stake to kill a vampire. In other words it seems that the Finnish band is seeing some equivalence between Jesus the Nazerene and a vampire, or blood-sucker, and presumably a reciprocal desire to make the blood-sucker bleed.

There may be a just little, metaphorical, truth in this. Jesus in those who have faith in him, becomes the cranial interlocutor to whom one narrates oneself, as one as one is transformed from the animal, complete with blood, that one once was, into merely the bloodless hero of a self-narrative (see e.g. Dennet, 1992). Contra the anti-Christian ethos of Black Metal however, it seems to me that Jesus is an attempt to cure a disease that was present prior to his arrival. From the age of two or three, as soon as we find ourselves able to represent our "selves", or even our actions (c.f. the lonely Bonobo, Kanzi), we enjoy cognising ourselves from the point of view of an aldernator. That is to say we enjoy our self-representations so much that we suck our own blood, or eat ourselves, in the sense that we de-animate ourselves or make ourselves narratival. At the same time, due to the silent, self-sacrificial nature of Jesus - especially if imagined on the cross for instance - the internalization of the Christian interlocutor may well in fact, on the contrary, silence self-speech, and thereby re-animate. Indeed, as may be seen in the Eucharist, Christians believe themselves to be be reanimated through the receipt of Christ's blood, or indeed eating his body.

Another trope common to Black Metal is the goat. The aforementioned band, Impaled Nazarene, always includes at least one song about a goat, or goats, in each of its albums. Goats are thought to be popular in this genre due to their association with the devil. Goats are generally argued (at least according to wikipedia) to be associated with the devil due to the horniness, in both the sexual and literal sense, of male goats, as exemplified by the somewhat obscene lyrics of one goat song.

It also occurs to me that both goats and the "Black Emperor" pictured above may have a similarity with first person views.

Notice the back light rays and the large size of the Black Emperor's nose which is rather goaty. From a McDermottian (McDermot, 1996) first-person-made-third-person, perspective it could be said that there is a big nosed Black Emperor at our "temple's gate," or perceived entrance to our mind.

The use of the goat to represent Satan may in part also be due to the size of Goat's noses and the spread of their eyes. From a first person perspective I have a giant nose and eyes wide enough to encompass the earth. My first person perspective of myself is also perhaps the closest I get to becoming aware of that animal, with blood, that I once was. I wonder if I narrate myself to my first person view of myself, which I may be dimly aware of as a person.

This possibility, that my blood is being sucked, or I am being "eaten" by a giant, in the above sense, may explain the long tradition, and current popularity, in the form of Attack on Titan, of the related giant attacks little humans trope. My favourite is probably still this image, painted by my mother, where I realise that I had expressed the central idea of this post in a comment four years ago.

I also like the way in which the Black Emperor, above, appears to be wearing some sort of headdress or wig. This makes him look a little effeminate. Much of the anger of this musical genre seems to me to stem from the fact that its proponents are dimly aware that they have something feminine inside themselves, a prospect that most more full blooded men find enraging. I find myself to be less angry than ashamed.

The darkness of the eyes of the Black Emperor combined with the rays, which suggest back-lighting, remind me of the way in which, as I look out of the utter darkness of my goaty face, past those giant noses at the light, I wonder if the light is not in fact that which is doing the looking. The light may be behind the cavern of my eyes, not in front of them. If only I could wipe the mirror clean. Silence.

Dennett, D. C. (1992). The self as a center of narrative gravity. Self and consciousness: Multiple perspectives.
McDermott, Le Roy D. (1996) "Self-Representation in Upper Paleolithic Female Figurines." Current Anthropology 37. no. 2 (April 1996): 227-275.

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February 23, 2015

Dawkins is Sexy, in ways that he is Unaware

Dawkins is Sexy, in ways that he is Unaware
Image copyright Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. (I beg that the Foundation be so kind as to order that I cease and decist in the comments or via the email link at

In a Youtube video Richard Dawkins answered questions about evolution from Reddit users.

At 8:13"What are the three most important questions in biology?" He is asked and responds with questions, at least two of which biology is unlikely ever to answer, and are often considered the domain of religion

1) How does consciousness evolve and what is consciousness?
He has not a clue but religion is out the window. Does he even address the issue? Soul, self, mind, consciousness, and conscience are all right at the top of the religious agenda and yet biology has little to say. His friends Dan and Sam appear to explain conscience away, as a sort of mistake. Are they Buddhists? Do they labour under the mistake even as they denounce it? Doesn't that worry them? Dawkins has consciousness, but he does not know what it is, and he is going to die fairly soon. For his own sake and world's I would like him to take up this question rather than attempting to eradicate religion.

2) How did life itself evolve, what was the origin of the first self replicating molecule?
Again, he has no idea about origins, or rather apparent breaks in the continuum of the natural world but has ditched God as barbaric ignorance. Does evolution even explain the origin of the species, that is to say of discrete species in the plural?
The Abramaic religions appeal to the divine logos, the Buddhist claim it is a mistake (there are no divisions, the world is one and alive), and Shintoists think it has something to do with sex, which brings us to

3) Why do we have sex?
In view of the fact that consciousness is argued to be dependent upon otherness, and that sex may be the original discontinuity in the natural world, the answer to this question might be linked to the first two questions but for some reason the editors fade this question out. This is the one question biologists might be able to answer. But first, do we have sex? How many sexes? Is sex a continuum or discrete? Where do we have sex; is it a biological construct or a mental one?

Dawkins seems to disprove himself, or be unaware of how sexy he is, from about 8:43, in answer to the next question, where he demonstrates that different mammals share the same genes and form a family tree.

Like Dawkins, I see horses and cats, humans and rats as different. The Bible explains this difference: Adam and God named creatures and through the intervention or admixing of the Logos, presto the species have existed as different ever since. The species are different to me, and they are different to Dawkins who can kill rats but not humans (as we shall see, the important thing is not whether he can kill them or not). And yet Darwin is speachlesss in the face of this difference. Worse still, evolution (Dawkins at 8:46 in this video) demonstrates that there is no difference, there are no species, the species are all part of the same family. There is only a continua. What happened to it?

I see that this is called "Darwin's dilemma: Why do species exist?" Ha! Darwin wrote a book of 500 pages called "The Origin of the Species" and ends up asking "Why do species exist?!" In Darwin's words

"First, why, if species have descended from other species by fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion, instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined?"

This is the question to which the Bible would provide an answer.

The fact we experience the world in a discrete speciated way needs to be explained. The Biblical explanation may not satisfy everyone but it appears to be a theory that words have really got inside us, animate us; words have become living. Dawkins' friend Dennet eveng goes so far as to claim that we, our selves, are words, and not biology at all. How does biology explain this?

I see that recent biological debate on speciation identifies (or conflates) species with reproductive isolates. In other words, a species is different from another species if the members cannot or do not mate. It seems we live in a very sexual world where the boundaries are decided upon the possibility and acuality of sexual activity. First of all, does this really explain the percieved diversity? I see that there are morphologically similar flies that do not mate due to different behaviour. They look like they should be able to mate to us, but not to each other. Is the origin of the species in the mojo of their members? And that there are others where the males will mate with those from the "other species" but the females will not. Are these two species or one? Is it the mojo of the males that matters? Often in practice it would seem that female mojo is more imporant, since, for example, "male wolves take advantage of their greater size in order to mate with female coyotes, while female wolves and male coyotes do not mate," and we generally view wolves and coyotes as seperate species. Species are seperate if the ladies aren't turned on.

Do I fail therefore to see the original continua, the "blooming buzzing confusion," the light, because I have a dirty, female mind? This is beginning to sound like the Bible. Biology may be getting there -- to the explanation of the origin of the species -- but the direction it is heading is decidedly queer, in an auto-erotic, and weird to the point of being religious, way.

I see that many of his detractors charge Dawkins with being in some sense "gay". I mean no disrespect but merely to draw his attention to the theory (Derrida, 1987, 1976) that we remain speciated -- viewing the world through the lens of language -- due to the fact that we are always sending ourselves, or a woman we simulate withing ourselves, love letters.

Derrida, J. (1987). The post card: From Socrates to Freud and beyond (p. 218). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Derrida, J. (1976). Of Grammatology. 1967. Trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 247-72.

Speaking of foundations, I am reminded of mules and other hybrids that can't mate.

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February 20, 2015

The Girl Who Played with Fire in The Light of Day

The Girl Who Played with Fire in The Light of Day
My most popular post is about the motherly female assissin that I have in my mind. But I could not explain why my imaginary friend should be an assissin. Upon consideration of Graham Swift's novel, The Light of Day, it seems to me that I have the answer. I think I had my cranial (m)other kill my father as explained in my review (with spoilers) of the book the cover of which is pictured above.

Spoiler Alert

On the face of it, Graham Swift's novel, "The Light of Day" is the story of a typical Western, detective, speaking, as if to himself, in a hard-boiled way, relating how and why he came to be sending letters to a woman in prison, because he allowed her to commit a murder, and how he hopes that she will be released, into the light of day. There is also a back story regarding how the detective's father had a mistress, like the imprisoned woman's husband. It is one of several novels by the same author in which a protagonist visits someone who cannot communicate and is in some sort of confinement.

Read alongside Lacanian Freud and Derrida's "The Postcard," this novel expresses an apocalyptic vision of why we have a narrative self at all, and explains the proliferation of imprisoned or otherwise controlled murderous women (Nikita, Leon, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Alias, Doll House, Dark Angel etc).

Freud sets the scene in Totem and Taboo. He says that we have a super-ego, dad-in-our-head, due to some ancient patricide that continues to be reinacted. Where Freud is a little weak in my view is in his explanation of how this patricide leads to the internalisation of a father or anyone at all. According to Freud, the band of brother's feel remorse, love for the father they have lost, and they need the father to keep society in order. What Freud may be missing is that we may have had our crainial, imaginary mother pull the trigger, or wield the knife.

Lacan is more specific on the involvement of "(m)other". In the Lacanian version, it is the mother than cuts the mother-child bond. Lacan claims that mothers explain to their children that mummy must go and sleep with daddy. "I must go and sleep with daddy now," they say and turn out the lights. Mothers explain to their children, the censure, the No and name of the father. The "Non de Pere", Lacan quips. Now the super-ego or part of it is the representative of the father, the bearer of the fathers name and sanction, the (m)other.

But this still does not explain the current popularity of female assassins nor really why mother - representing daddy - might end up in the child's head.

Children can see what is going on. Their love, though as bright as the sun (indeed as yet without a narrative self, they are the sun) loses out to that of daddy, the jaded salary transporter. Often times daddy is just going through the motions. Sometimes he will even have a mistress. So, in the fantasy world of the Western child, they have an accomplice. Mummy takes out a knife and guts daddy. Then, still bloodied, and fragile, their cranial assassin, they imagine, will come and sleep with them them in the dungeon of their minds. This explains the fascination with female assassins and why some of them, including Lisbeth Salander, kill a father; Lisbeth kills her own in the second book.

This aspect of the fantasy adds violence to the sex. Perhaps if one were only having a homo-autoerotic relationship with oneself, as Derrida seems to express in "The Post Card" (Derrida, 1987) then perhaps we would wise up. But under this interpretation we have got a fantasy going where we not only turn ourselves on, but turn other people off. At the very least, as Lacan says, we had her do the deed and cut us loose from the father, but in our imagination, at least according to me, she 'sides' with us. As a result, generally speaking this, partricidal fantasy is far too horrible to thought or expressed, so mother #2 has to be kept hidden, in a place where we continue to send her hard-boiled love letters, hoping and not hoping (because we enjoy the correspondence), that one day, she will come out into the light of day.

What am I talking about? Ha. That is the point. Why am I talking at all? Why do I keep talking to myself? A lot, if not all, of Western philosophy attempts to answer this question, or, ignoring it, bases their conclusions (I think therefore I am) upon the assumption that speaking to oneself, in ones head, is not a really weird, sick thing to be doing.

I find it very difficult to answer this question. My opinion is that there is no rational answer. There is no reason why we should, or do, talk to ourselves. The reason why we self speak is emotional, libininal or rational only from the point of view of evolution.

We can tell ourselves nothing. Our self speach is not an expression of chimerical "ideas". It is not practice for speaking to other people. It is not will, not causitive. But we do it.

Our self speach has macroscopic but but not microscopic effects. We think that we "will" with our self speach, and make decisions, but Nisbett, and Libett show us that we do not. On the other hand the macroscopic effect is real. The fact that we self-speak, and believe erroneously in its microscopic efficacy, stabilizes us, moralises us, makes us more pro social. Our practice of self-speach makes us stable, social animals, with great evolutionary benefits.

The reason why I keep talking to myself is because on the one hand, it keeps me social, and on ther other hand because is a form of masturbation or self-love. There are no cognitive benefits. It is also not "will" as decision making pneuma. It is not carried out as a practice or rehersal - though some times it may be. It is carried out because it is felt to be fun. It turns us on. It is a self comforting. Our addicition to self-comforting, makes us pro-social.

Derrida, J. (1987). The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. (A. Bass, Trans.) (First Edition). University Of Chicago Press.
Freud, S. (1913). Totem and taboo. (A. A. Brill, Trans.). New York: Moffat, Yard and Company. Retrieved from
Lacan, J. (1993). The Psychoses. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Book III 1955–1956. Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller. Translated by Russell Grigg. London: Routledge.

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The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo and the Structure of My Self: A Robo-Woman and an All Seeing Man in me

The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo and the Structure of My Self: A Robo-Woman and an All Seeing Man in me

I think that the structure of my self is rather like that of "The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo" (Trailer,Trailer #2). I think I contain a fantasy of a controlled, hollow, abused Lisbeth/Nikita woman who works as the medium, or intermediary for a man with super-sight, who is trying to be a detective. The most horrible thing about the structure is that since these roles take place inside me (no wonder Lisbeth looks pissed off), it is also auto-erotic transsexualism, and then some. For this reason I think that the super duo of Lisbeth and Cal Lighthouse in the above photo, are generally accompanied by a sex criminal in many of the detective series in which detectives and their intermediaries feature. [Why is it that about 10 million Americans watch sex criminals get their come-uppance a week on one series, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, alone?]

First to recap, there are many US mystery series featuring men, and more frequently recently women, who are in contact with supernatural phenomena (The Dead Zone, The Listener, , The X-Files, Seeing Things, The Medium, Tru Calling, Ghost Whisperer), of women that act as intermediaries for men whose power of perception is almost supernatural (Lie to Me, Monk, The Mentalist, Millenium, The X-Files), and there are recently an increasing number of Nikita type violent, abused, hollow women controlled by men (Nikita, Nikita, Dark Angel, Alias, Dollhouse, etc). Many of these heroes kill or put greedy, especially sexually greedy, criminals behind bars.

In the USA there are many more types of television series. Here in Japan, these three genres stand out as being particularly well represented. I am of the opinion that these genres are well represented because they are the most popular in the US, rather than their being particularly popular in Japan.

The reason why I think that these television series may have something to do with the structure of myself is because I have seen them both. The structure of myself was far more horrifying and icky that even the nasties scenes in The Girl with a Dragon Tatoo, so I will try and be theoretical first.

The Self in Social Psychology

Factoring in William James, George Herbert Mead explains how the human self is formed, from three parts: the I or consciousness, the me, the idea we have of ourselves with whom we identify, and the internalised "generalised other" from which perspective we see the "me."

The first and second of these elements (consciousness, and my idea of me) are fairly easy to confirm. Mead's "generalised other" (Freud's "super ego", Bakhtin's "super adressee", Lacan's "Other," Adam Smith's "Invisible hand" and "impartial observer") is much more contraversial.

That there is consciousness, even if I can say nothing about it, seems pretty clear. When I am awake there is not nothing. When I dream, the lights come on as it were. I may be able to say very little about this "great blooming, buzzing confusion,” but I feel that I can not deny it. Generally speaking I am more inclined to think of consciousness as the world, or evidence of the world -- the lights, sounds, hot and cold -- but at the same time perhaps, especially but not only, as a child, "consciousness"may also be said to be who "I" really am.

And at the same time I have notions of who I am very separate from consciousness - a bald old Englishman living in Japan, which a certain age, family, house, and face. That is "me."

What is the "generalised other," and where is it hiding?

First of all Mead argues that in order to gain an idea who "me" is then I need to take an objective view point upon myself. Mead argues that unless we are carrying a mirror, or permanently in front of an audience, our ability to gain an objective idea of ourselves depends upon our ability to express who we are in language and understand our language from the point of view of other listeners.This ability to hear ones own self-referential, self addressed language, such as "I am bald" as said to myself, and to know when one has not said the truth, allows us to form a linguistic model of who we are. Language, Mead presumes, provides us with a mirror of internalised other. Mead argues, as do Hermans and Kempen (who base their analysis on the Bakhtin's linguistics), that we are always speaking to others in our heads. People talk to their friends, their family, their workmates, and all those that they are likely to meet, in their heads all the time. And we are able to judge when these our imaginary friends would not agree with what we are saying. In the complete absence of any audience, real or imagined, I could claim that "I have loads of hair", or anything, even that "I am Elvis Presley," and it would not matter because there would be no one there to disagree with me. But since we do speak to others even if they are imaginary others, we imagine our audience's understanding of our words, their reaction, and know when we are speaking bullshit.

But while many of us may accept that we often imagine that we are speaking to, or thinking to other people, what of the *generalised* other. As far as I am aware Mead only explains the need for a generalised as a cognitive requirement. If we see ourselves only from the viewpoints of our friends, then we will see ourselves as rather nicer than we are from the point of view of our enemies. If we see ourselves from the point of view of our enemies, we see ourselves rather more negatively than our friends see us, and rather more negatively than we in fact are, because presumably we are that person at the intersection of these various viewpoints rather than as understood from any one subjective position.

So far so good. We may be able to accept that we address ourselves to a variety of imaginary friends. And that unless we understand our self speech from the point of view of a view from an objective, generalised position then we will not have an ongoing objective understanding of ourselves. However this explanation would not prevent us from "generalising" after the fact, or "off line". In other words we might model the understanding of our friends and family, our detractors and various people in the street, and perform some sort of averaging only afterward. Is it clear that we need to model a generalised other, in real time?

Bakhtin argues that even as we are speaking to real or imaginary friends and all manner of second person addressees, we also imagine that there is another person listening to what we have to say, since otherwise our meaning would be limited by the understanding of our real or imagined listener. Being so limited to specific others (be they real or imagined) would be, he argues, hellish. We would be trapped in web of relationships unable to be anyone but that which our others understand us to be. To escape from this hell, which is other people, we continually model a super-addressee which corresponds I believe to Mead's generalized other.

Bakhtin's "hell" starts to sound more persuasive but all the same, phenomenologically where is the generalized other in my head? I can feel myself simulating my friends. Why can't I feel myself simulating a generalised other?

I think that theists may find the answer to this question very easy. Theists typically feel that they are addressing a generalised other, who sees them from an objective viewpoint, in the form of their God. Of course for a theist it is not a question of simulating a generalised listener, but rather that there is one, and as such perhaps theists are always conscious of the meaning of their words, truthfully and honestly in the understanding of an ever present "impartial spectator." This latter term was that used by the economist (of Lutheran upbringing) Adam Smith. This is all very well for theists but, when I am not dabbling in theism, and even when I do, I do not find myself aware, or strikingly aware, of a God as generalised other, impartial spectator, or super-addressee. If this super-addressee was felt ever present, then for instance, would there be so many atheists and agnostics, and would they be so militant in their denial of God? If a super-addressee were clearly ever present in our psyche then the atheists among us would be more likely to say "Oh, yeah, that. (S)he is only my simulation of a generalised other, not any supernatural being." Calling that entity God or a mental simulation would become almost a question of nomenclature. It seems to me however that most atheists are not aware of any such "super-addressee," listening in on their thoughts, modelled by themselves, far less directly and supernaturally bugging their brain.

To Bakhtin's "hell", and Mead's need for objective self awareness, I think that there are a couple of other reasons why we need a generalised other and why it should be something that we are commonly unaware of it.

First of all applying Arimasa Mori's cultural theory, it may become clear that a generalised other is a requirement for my identification with my "me". That we should identify (and it is not clear what "identify" means) which any idea or conception that we have of ourselves is strange. Why would anyone identify with a self-concept if they are aware that it is a conceptualisation?

This kind of question has been asked for instance by philosophers and psychologists in the field of narrative psychology. It is clear that we do narrate ourselves, do think to and narrate ourselves, about who we are and what we are doing, but why should we, or do we, identify with that which is described in the narrative? Why does our self-cognition not remain on the level of self-hypothesis, a fiction about ourselves that may or not be correct. Why do we believe in that our self0narration, or the me therein described is ourselves? Or why do we believe that there is a underlying, ongoing entity that conforms to some static linguistic cognition of self?

Arimasa Mori argues the way in which first person pronouns and first person self-representations depend on the second person of Japanese speech - that there is no "third person" (Mori's word for the generalised other), results in an absence of self on ongoing and independent self among Japanese. IF being is to be understood, and self-understanding is dependent upon other understanding, then in the radical absence of others would, not our ability to identify with an ongoing independent self be switching on and off. Hence, if we believe in an ongoing self independent of social situation, then this may imply the presumed presence of a "third person perspective."

Here ends my attempt at theoretical analysis.

Finally, while the connection is somewhat tenuous, the structure of the television series outlined above remind me of my experience of the structure of my self, which fell apart and became visible about a quarter of a century ago when I felt (and I think I did) go mad. I have written this before, but I think that it is a good idea to write it again.

My experience was momentary and my memory is not as good as it used to be, but I still find it instructive. I think that I should have tried harder to share the experience with other people. The reason why I have not blogged or otherwise written about the experience is because I found the experience particularly disgusting. As I said above, and this is the first part of the analogy between "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and the structure of myself, they both appeared to have very harrowing elements. The movie was stressful, but watching the movie was a walk in the park by comparison to my experience of the parts of myself. After that fleeting experience 25 years aog, I found myself traumatised for about 6 months afterwards, and indeed for the rest of my life. Here I am an old man, still talking about an experience I had when I was about 22. And at the same time, the reason why I am still talking about the experience was because it was, and to an extent remains, so difficult, so disgusting as to make it difficult to talk about.

Of course, my experience may have been of only the structure of my particular self, but as I see these often extremely violent, and sexually twisted television series and movies proliferate I wonder if, at last, my experience was more universalisable than I had initially thought. I thought I was just simply a mad **** at the time. But here lies, the most important thing about what I have to say: it is possible that the self appears to be a unity to most people, and its structure indivisible, and invisible, because that structure is, or would be, to most people, so utterly disgusting. Far more so than the worst scenes in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

So here is my experience again. I find it easiest to explain my experience with the analogy of a ventriloquist since in retrospect it seems very similar. When my self fell apart, into its parts, I felt that I was experiencing a ventriloquism act with the following parts: (1) an enormous consciousness of proportion so vast as to be other-worldly (2) a listening persona (2) A speaking persona.

I felt the enormous consciousness, for a flash of an instant, to be my true self. It seemed that this enormous consciousness was engaging in something similar to a ventriloquism act in that he was throwing his voice and pretending to hear that voice from the perspective of a third person.

When looking at a ventriloquist's stage act we can forget that ventriloquists are pretending to be two people. ventriloquists fabulate two people. We notice that they are "throwing their voice" and giving their dummy a life of its own. We may forget however, even as we are watching a ventriloquist, that the real stage performer is usually pretending to be not only the dummy, but also pretending to be another persona by putting on feigned belief in the dummy, and fabulating or feigning a character that listens to and banters with the dummy's remarks.

The experience thus far can largely be understood by reference to one of Nina Conti's ventriloquism acts, where she makes it clear that one need not use a dummy to perform ventriloquism, and even suggests that the dummy-less-dummy or voice, is as real as the listener.

And so it was with my experience. It was *not* that I became aware of the "dummy". The "dummy" or rather just my interior narrative was myself, the self that I generally (these days and then) thought myself to be. I heard myself speak/think in much the same way as I always speak/think. The difference was that I suddenly realised who I was speaking to and why. I became aware of the act that the massive ventriloquists putting on, the listener that feigns interest. The worst part about it was the act that I was performing, for myself, "in my head", was auto-erotic, transsexual, and then some -- it was also incestuous.

"The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo," stopped short of portraying real incest and of course the incest that I discovered in my head (my soul/psyche/self) was not real. Lisbeth was a ward of the state and she was raped by her guardian. The Lisbeth-gardian parent-child relationship was in name only, but their sex was real. I found that I was chatting up a woman, not unlike a Listbeth or Nikita, that I was simulated in my head who was clearly based upon my own mother. I was cross-dressing as it were mentally and feigning a female listener to my self-narrative. While this listener never spoke, her (my) unspoken reaction to my self speak was clearly sympathetic, loving, in a mother-child and at the same time romantic way. I felt like the murderer in the famous Hitchcock movie, Psycho except that instead of dressing up as my mother, I was creating her in my brain.

The enormous consciousness that was witnessing the whole event was entirely aware of what was going on and he was disgusted, with me the speaker that I guess he was also inventing. Somehow, strangely, in that experience the blame fell on the narratival voice (me) despite the fact that, presumably, it was the consciousness that was pulling all the strings, and behind all the parts. Nonetheless that enormity was disgusted and angry with the nasty little voice and the hollow woman that he had in his mind.

That was most of my experience. Does my experience have anything other than one warped individual, or does it bear any similarity with the structure of the programs I am analysing, other than the fact that popular television series often have sexually twisted antagonists?

The greatest similarity for me between my experience and the television series is not the detectives but the women as mediums, intermediaries and Nikitas. The woman that I was fabulating, as my internal listener, was disgusting only because she turned out to be myself. I loved that fantasy with an expectant longing brighter and purer than the sun. It was only when she turned out to be myself that the passion and purity of my love, precisely because it was felt to be so passionate and pure, that the whole thing became so disgusting. My internal doll, my cranial perfect woman, had a distinct similarity to the characters portrayed in my previous blog posts -- to the Lisbeth's and Nikita's of modern fiction. It may help a little, perhaps, that I remembered my mother as a young woman as a rather spiky, depressive, and in some senses dark individual. The important point is not the reality but how I fabulated my mother. I think to a large extent I fabulated her as a Nikita, killa, wild, abused, fighting girl. In my experienced I realised that my listener was a fantasy and in that sense, hollow, programmed, a sort of doll, or robot, or alias, like many of the Nikita types that are seen on TV.

It seems to me that I have identified in my experience of 1/4 of a century ago, a sort of sex criminal and a hollow, programmed intermediary of a Nikita type figure.

Finally what of the super-sighed genius "Monk," or "Patrick Jane." To an extent the giant person that I discovered was a bit like that, the all seeing consciousness, the supernatural being (supernatural only in so far as he was not a voice-puppet) upon which Nikita was superimposed upon as a mask, that Nikita acted as a "Medium" for that entity which Nikita hid, just as she alone saw.

So I wonder if anyone else has a psyche as disgusting as mine, or whether I am just seeing coincidences where there aren't any.

Having reread it seems to me that there is no way that I am going to persuade anyone that my self-structure is anything but an anomaly unless I give more reasons as to why it should be universal for theoretical reasons and or by seeking links between the genres of video that I am analysing.

There are several things that do not match up.

My female fantasy listened rather than spoke, but the female Medium or intermediary is often the spokesperson for the super or supernatural male.

The sex-criminal in my self-fantasy was felt to by speech (made human) or perhaps my giant consciousness self. The criminals in US television series do not necessarily speak, the Monk-like all seeing consciousness like detectives do not involve themselves in sex at all.

The other thing is, that my experience of the breakdown of myself was accompanied by my realisation that I was gay. I assumed therefore that non-gay persons would have different persona in their selves. I thought that heterosexual men might be modelling their father rather than their young, Nikita-like fantasy mother. The fact that I felt myself to be gay at the time I had my falling apart experience may reduce the applicability of the structure that I became aware of. I am not sure how.

The take-home conclusion of this post is, imho, we watch so many TV series about hollowed out abused girls, who are mediums and intermediaries for super savant males, that kill sex criminals because The Truth is in Here.

I have had another idea about why the woman is a murderer based upon Graham Swift's novel "The Light of Day," another book in this genre. Obvious really.

Images are copyright their respective copyright holders. Please please comment below or contact me via to have my remove any of these images.

Posted by timtak at 04:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 27, 2015

A Tale of Two Comforters: Two Cranial Dutch Wives

A Tale of Two Comforters: Two Cranial Dutch Wives
Notes for a future post about the similarity between Amaterasu and Eve, "help-meets" from the Bible and the Kojiki, Book of Ancient Matters.

Nah, This is it folks. My best.

The biggest problem with drawing this parallel is that Amaterasu is worshipped whereas Eve, generally, is not.

However I think perhaps that Eve' is a prototype for Jesus, and that is why he was always calling himself "ab Adam" ("of Adam", usually translated as "the son of man"), because like Eve, and Amaterasu, he is something in made from the hearts of humans. He represents a cure for the cranial Dutch wife disease - sin - that we may suffer from (speaking for myself).

There are structural similarities between the Bible and the Kojiki particularly between Izanagi and Lilith, and less so - but more interestingly - between Amaterasu and Eve.

In the myth of Lilith (in the Alphabet of ben Sirach) Lilith was Adam's first wife, who refused to lie beneath him and left him. Adam complained to Elohim who sent three angels to try and bring her back. They fail.

In the Kojiki, Izanami was Izanagi's wife, and Susano's mother-in-a-sense. She left Izanagi and also left Susano crying bitterly. Susano complained to his God father Izanami that he could not meet his mother. But Izanami had already tried and failed to get her back himself.

The reason why Lilith could not come back from the Red Sea (which seems to function as a sort of underworld, as does the sea in later myths in the Kojiki) is because she had had sex with the demon of the underworld. (The underworld in the Nihonshoki is written "Yellow Spring.")

The reason why Izanami could not come back from the underworld is because she had eaten food of the underworld's hearth. "I have eaten at the hearth of YÖMÏ." (Unlike Lilith Izanami expresses a desire to return, and goes to discuss the possibility with the gods of Yellow-Spring)

Izanami kills a thousand humans or children a day, while Izanagi builds 1500 birthing houses.

100 of Lilith's children are killed a day, and in revenge Lilith goes out to kill human children and does so if they do not have an amulet bearing the names of the three saints sent to bring her back.

So, Lilith is a primal mother and killer of children who lives in the underworld who used to be married to Adam, who was "man and woman" and made in god's image.

Izanami is a primal mother and killer of people (the reference to birthing huts suggests children too) who lives in the underworld, who used to be married to god.

Importantly, with important ramifications, in both the Kojiki and the Bible a male hero finds a replacement for this primal female (Lilith? and Izanami) that he wanted. This is the bit in which I am most interested in

Adam wants a "help meet" "as before" (Lilith?) and finds it in Eve, who is made from a side (chamber) (not rib!) of Adam himself. He is overjoyed to see this flesh of his flesh, and eventually, makes babies with her, a part of himself.

Susano wants to meet Izanmi but instead goes off to meet his sister, Amaterasu (lit heaven shining) the Goddess of the Sun and the Mirror, which now stands in Ise Shrine, the most sacred of all Shinto symbols.

When Amaterasu hears the sound of her warrior god brother, Susono, coming, she
1) Does up her hair in a masculine way
2) Puts on male clothes and weapons
3) Shouts like a male
4) Stands next to the 'central well of heaven'
5) Stamp her feet till she sinks into the ground up to her thighs.
It was this latter detail (5), which all the Japanese interpreters shrug their shoulders at, which gave the game away. Amaterasu is no more no less than her mirror: the well at the centre of the heaven. The "well" is a reflective surface which Susano is overjoyed to see, and makes babies with, himself.

Amaterasu is a side of Susano, a reflected side, and replacement for Izami.

Eve is a side of Adam, and a replacement for Lilith.

Eve and Amaterasu are two comforters, 'help meets' provided for the heroes of creation myths.

Lilith and Izanami were the frightful, murderous, underworld women that these women replace.

Lilith may be associated with birds e.g. the "Night Howler" which is another translation of her name. One of the few possible (but now doubted) representations of her shows her with birds feet.

Izanami and Izanagi look to a bird for advice on how to mate in the Nihonshoki.

And, apart from inanimate things and Gods associated with the landscape, one god before giving birth to the fire god that killed her, Izanami gave birth to a bird: The heavenly bird vessel.

What is the significance of birds?

My guess is, that birds are one of the few other creatures that are monogamous, and so many creation myths start with couples, which is strange bearing in mind that monogamy
is probably fairly new.

Eve is said to be the origin of monogamy.

So, bearing in mind that Derrida argues that we continue to have a relationship with an aler ego, or "a side of ourselves" by "hearing ourselves speak", and in doing so create our sense of self, and that the motivation for doing this is 'auto-erotic,' i.e. cranial sexting with oneself creates the illusion of self (see Derrida's book "The Postcard"), and perhaps also the belief in a soul mate, then I would go for a fairly straightforward interpretation of the Kojiki's"bog lance" and the brine that drips off it, both lance and brine remain metaphors for penis and semen to this day afaik. Figuratively, self-love created the world. Or the world came into being when it started to 'love' itself. The first thing that "they" made was "Onogoro" - self stiffening - Island.

[The breach of the taboo or proscription (looking at Izanami's naked body, Adam and Eve seeing that they are naked) and the origin of death, and the covering of birth/sex with a parturition hut or fig leaf, takes place between the original partners (Izanami and Izanagi) rather than between Elohim and the original's replacement (Eve) but there are strong structural similarities between these 'two broken proscription myths'. ]

Interlinear Kojiki
Interlinear Bible

Posted by timtak at 01:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Genesis, Self-Psychology and Lilith

Genesis, Self-Psychology and Lilith
Is there anything in Genesis that relates to self-psychology? I am looking out for
Creation through narrative or speech (Dennet, Bruner, Mead)
The need for an "other" (Mead, Bakhtin, Lacan, see Boszormenyi-Nagy for a summary of of the "ontic" necessity of an other for the generation of self
Scroll back to the beginning of the chapter from an introduction to the "ontic" necessity of intra-psychic others according to a psychologist
In addition to speech/voice the basic phenomenology of self as 'the visual field' (Mach), or the 'contradictory' - since it is also the world - 'self as place' found in Nishida.

Unlike Darwin's theory of evolution, scientific and borderline-scientific theories of the origins of self are (to my ears at least) pretty occult at the best of times. Are any of their elements to be found in the Bible's story of creation: Genesis?

The image above depicts the famous scene from Genesis - the Fall of man - as depicted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel.

As if it is not enough that Eve should be responsible by temptation, for the downfall of man, this representation shows the serpent too as a woman. This is representation is not short of proponents (see also these atmospheric photographs and this book), in part because God appears to have made women twice.

In the first book of Genesis God creates "adam" (or mankind, a general noun meaning humans, and pun on earth) all the while talking to himself, and pronouncing things good, where God refers to himself in the plural.

AV Gn 1:26 . And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.

God then makes men *and women*

AV Gn 1:27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

The fact that "Adam" refers to man kind, including both men and women is reiterated at the beginning of Genesis Book 5

AV Gn 5:1-2 . ...In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

The use of Adam to refer to the species of humans of both sexes, and perhaps (it is not clear to me when if ever the change in usage takes place) also to a single person of male sex makes the text very confusing. Whether this is deliberate or not I do not know.

But in Book 2 the creation of the human is described again. Once again it is mentioned that adam (humans) are made from soil, but in addition to adam "the human" (which we have been told were man and woman) God feels sorry for Adam who has no goes on to create, from a different material, a different kind of being: Eve who is a
"help meet for him" AV
"helper as in front of him" (Interlinear translation of each word in the Hebrew.)

The fact that adam/"the human" is now referred to in the masculine may suggest "adam" now means (1) all the males of the human species, (2) one male, or (3) may still refer to mankind but in any event "Eve" (be she singular or plura) refers to a female of *some sort*.

The above phrase phrase as recently been the subject of focus of attention by feminist scholars since, rather than suggest a subordinate role, something at the very least an equal perhaps even a guide. The word "helper" (H. ozr) is to refers to God when he helps humans. The "as in front of him" (k-ngd-u) is interpreted to refer to a counterpart or even guide. The only two times that the exact same expression are used are to refer to the helper that God is about to create Eve.

It is not clear to me why the in front of him is prefixed by "as" in the interlinear text I am reading - is Eve some sort of apparition, that is "as" (if) in front of Adam but not really? Even without the prefix "as in," "front of him" is sometimes used to refer to some sort of apparition. E.g. When God appears to Joshua to tell him how to blow down the walls (by trumpet blast) he does so in the following manner:

AV Jsh 5:13 . And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man *over against him* (or "to front of him") with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, [Art] thou for us, or for our adversaries?

This man in front of him turns out to be an Angel or God, since God makes his appearance immediately afterwards.

In order to find this "helper in front of him" Adam is shown all the recently created creatures but finds none of them suitable. So God puts adam ('the human") to sleep and appears to make women for a second time.

Gn 2:21 . And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

This "rib" is to become Eve, but it is surely a mistranslation. The only other occurrences of a literal rib in the Old Testament use a different word (chmsh in 2 Samuel, 2:23, 3:27, 4:6, 10:10). The Hebrew word used for "rib" in Genesis is "tzlo" which means "side" or angle (at an angle), and similar words are used to refer to various sides and especially the side chambers of temples, particularly King Solomon's temple which had thirty "ribs" or side chambers. More recent feminist translations have therefore translated this as "one side" of Adam/adam.

That Women should be created twice explains why are two women in the above picture. According to a 9th century manuscript and other sources, Adam's first wife was created like himself from earth but refused to "lie under him", and left Adam to consort with demons. This first wife was called Lilith. Lilith makes, and kills, children with demons. She is thought to be a demon herself, which is perhaps why Michelangelo has represented the serpent as a woman, the human woman made from the earth, Lilith.

It is not clear to me that Eve describes a woman at all. Eve is described as
1) a "helper as before" adam
2) the wife of adam which at this point seems to refer to humans, so Eve may refer to the wife and "help as in front of" humans, made from one side or one side chamber.
3) The mother of all living (subsequent to the fall of adam)

Recapping - the myth is rife with self-speech (God narrates his every act) and creation through narration - let there be light. Women are created twice, once and once again from "one side" or "a side chamber" to be a "help as in front" of them.

When we think it seems to me our thoughts as resound around in the mind which, if interactionist / dialogical interpreters of linguistic meaning such as Mead and Bakhtin are right, contains a simulated other. To describe this the Meadian mind complete with an other that hears our language, I have used the metaphor of as 'a haunted sound box,' but I think that as a metaphor, "a side chamber" made into a "helper as in front of us" is at least as good.

While I can narrate myself and the world, to Eve or "reason" who Dawkins also personifies as a female, that which I narrate are only statements and hypotheses and never 'the centre' (Dennet, 1992) of anything, existent, nor in any absolute sense knowledge, and to think so might be described as a big mistake.

Bible software

Posted by timtak at 01:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Where is Everybody?", or "Why am I so Lonely?": Fermi's Paradox / the Drake Equation, Logocentrism and Gabriel Garcial Marquez

"Where is Everybody?", or "Why am I so Lonely?": Fermi's Paradox / the Drake Equation, Logocentrism and Gabriel Garcial Marquez
The Drake Equation is, supposedly, the mathematical response to Enrico Fermi's question "Where is everybody?" posed with regard to extraterrestrial life.

Apparently Fermi blurted out the question,"Where is everybody? in 1950" One of those many present writes "the result of his question was general laughter because of the strange fact that in spite of Fermi’s question coming from the clear blue, everybody around the table seemed to understand at once that he was talking about extraterrestrial life." Picture if you will, a group of white males sitting in a room after lunch. One of them blurts out "Where is everybody" and they know, the question refers to others that should be there: extra-terrestials. That is the context of the question.

The idea is that considering the vast number of planets even in our own galazy, it seems surprising that there are no UFOs, or at least more channels on the TV or radio, some of them alien. 11 years later another white male, Francis Drake formulated answer to Fermi's question in the following way: The Drake Equation (I am using capitals to denote superscripts)

N = R x Fp x Ne x Fl x Fi x Fc x L

N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which radio-communication might be possible (i.e. which are on our current past light cone);
R = the average rate of star formation in our galaxy
Fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
Ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
Fl = the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develop life at some point
Fi = the fraction of planets with life that actually go on to develop intelligent life (civilizations)
Fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space

Before I begin the solution to this equation, it is pertinent to consider holism and its relation to paradoxes in general. Holism is the notion that things seemingly distant, the macroscopic and the microscopic, the universe and a grain of sand, are in fact intimately related. This is no where more true than in the consideration of paradoxes. For example, as mentioned previously, how is that a cosmically insignificant life form, the human species ("an evolutionary blip away from goats," and bananas) should know the speed limit of the universe. This appears to be paradoxical. The solution provided by reframing the question. As argued previously, and by Ersnt Mach, the basic stuff of the universe is that which we can sense. Our fastest sense is that of vision. Hence, the paradox presented by Einstien's observations regarding light - coupled with our radical insignificance - can be rephrased as "Why can't we see anything faster than which we can see?" The paradox disappears.

This s one way of responding to the Fermi paradox: aliens are in the dark matter that has recently been found to make up most of the universe. This answer is not without persuasive power. Perhaps we are blind to all the aliens that swarm around us due to the fact that we are only able to percieve a small part of the manifold universe. The majority of the universe is dark. We may have only a the smallest fraction of a slit eyed view of its muchness. Aliens are in our midst but like bats, we are unable to see them. The realisation that our universe is the unverse of our very limited senses provides a specific theory to explain our seeming solitude.

While this specific theory is fairly persuasive, it invites the question as to why those aliens do not attempt to communicate with us in media that they may be unaware of. Now that we have become aware of dark matter, and dark energy, how long will it be before we attempt to perturb these realms to send out "Where is every body" messages?

It will be argued here that what the Drake equation is really measuring is not the number of 'intelligent life forms', but rather the number of life forms that are obsessed with transmitting and receiving signs. In other words, the Drake Equation expresses the probability of logocentric life forms.

Fi or fraction of planets with life that develop "intelligence" like Fc the proportion of intelligent life forms that form civilisations-transmit-signals, and the final number of theorised hits "N," the number of radio signals that we should be able to hear are all a function of the tendency to transmit and receive signs.

I t can easily be argued that ants, dolphins, swallows, beavers and leopards, and the vast array of 'aliens' which surround us, are intelligent but unlike us they don't have an obsession with transmitting signs. The Drake equation is first and formost an equation about the chances of another sign transmitting life form.

Since it is really an equation about the need to constantly transmit and receive signs) this has implications for the maths. What is it about this tendency to transmit, emit signs, and receive signs, that might make the final product "N" low?

1) Since the Drake equation is about the probability of sign-emitters, this raises media and encoding questions, and the "Humans are not listening properly(My emphasis. This listening is not literal but refers to the receipt and decoding of signs so note that even some of the solutions to Fermi's paradox are phrased in semiotic terms) hypothesis becomes more plausible.

2) "Fi" the number of life forms that are obsessed with transmitting and receiving signs simply is low. We can see that on earth. There is nothing "more evolved" about humans. All the '8.7 million' (BBC) currently present species have adapted to their environment enough to be able to survive here, so there is nothing more or less evolved about any of them. And of the many species, only one, or a subset of one of them -- Westerners -- seems really into transmitting and receiving signs. That makes the number very low. For all we know the universe is teeming with "animals" some which have been around for billions of years, but none have them have caught the signing bug - none have become addicted to the weird practice of sending and receiving signs. Perhaps signing is a really weird thing to be addicted to.

3) It has been postulated that "technological advance" (it is not clear to me what this is) leads to self-annihilation. The persuasive side of this argument is that technology gives rise to power, to the means of self-destruction. But technological power also increases the ability to prevent self-destruction -- that is the reason it evolves or is developed -- so this argument on its own is not convincing. Which leads me to
3a) Does "an obsession with signing' lead to self-annihilation? The obsession that humans have to continually make and receive signs, starting with hearing themselves talk (think), through beaming each other radio and television programs, until finally sending out radio signals in the absence of a listener are all much of a muchness. This tendency to sign may be related to a chronic, radical solitude (enter Marquez). I.e. we talk to ourselves, write novels, beam each other radio and TV, and signals into space because we are so very lonely. "Signing" may thus mean "Signing our loneliness," so the Drake equation may be about the probably of chronically lonely species. Does chronic loneliness tend towards self-annihilation? The possibility that logo-centric life forms do self-annihilate may be argued to be supported by the predictions of "Armageddon" promoted by the logo-centric "book" religions.

4) Another answer is more positive and simple. Life, or lumps of anything, that send signals due to their chronic loneliness are surely those that also formulate Drake equations - which mathematically model the extent to which they are alone if not lonely. If so, then the Drake equation, or the Fermi-paradox may itself be the "Great Filter" since, asking the question it provides the paradoxical, and yet self-defining - we are the lonely ones - stimulus, that causes these lonely signing life forms to examine themselves, realise their loneliness and stop signing, especially in the absence of a listener.

Márquez, G. G. (2003). One hundred years of solitude. Harper Collins. The end (spoiler). “He began to decipher the instant that he was living, deciphering it as he lived it, prophesying himself in the act of deciphering the last page of the parchments, as if he were looking into a speaking mirror...Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that [Macondo] would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment Aureliano . . . would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth."

The above image is copyright Danielle Futselaar, on the drake Equation wikipedia page, seems to me to symbolize the way in which the equation models not 'intelligence,' or 'civilisation' but 'blowing bubbles' - being caught up in a fantasy.

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Mach vs the Anthropic Principle

Mach vs the Anthropic Principle
For some time physicists have been perplexed by the purported fact that the "constants" of the universe seemed to have been "fine tuned" or fortuitously be "just right" for the development of conscious life. The name of this principle should therefore be "the conscious life principle," but since we are the only conscious life that we know of, the human or "Anthropic Principle" will do.

Physicists seem to disagree regarding how fortuitous it is that the universe should be "just right" for allowing human life to evolve. If any of the "physical constants" had been even slightly different, then there could have been no life, and importantly *no one to have seen, the universe at all*. For some, the latter consideration provides an answer to the conundrum. It is only because the universe did provide the circumstances necessary for the evolution of life that we are here saying "wasn't that fortunate! Aren't we lucky?!"

Nevertheless, this seems to suggest that there might have been, or indeed there are or were, other universes that did not provide the "just right" circumstances - and indeed some physicists argue this - otherwise it can seem very fortuitous that the one and only universe should happen to be the one with constants that are just right to allow us to exist. The fact that we needed to get lucky to be able to ask the question, "how lucky am I" does not in itself change the odds, just as a lottery winner is no more or less lucky whether she considers her odds before or after the lottery draw.

So did we get really really lucky? Is there a multiverse, with billions of dead unverses? Or was there a cosmic evolution of universes, eventually producing this one!? Or perhaps, is there a God, "fine tuning," after all?

Leaving aside questions as to how likely it is that a close relative of the fruit fly should be able to frame the constants of the universe, the first question we need to ask is what are these "constants"? Some say that there are 13, but concentrating on two two of the most famous -- the speed of light (c), and the Planck constant, the minimum amount of energy of a photo, or according to Susskind the size of the pixels (remember, the universe is in fact 2 dimensional the number of dimensions is another constant) of the universe -- we see that the fortuitousness of both of these "constants" disappears. It can be explained in another "batty" way.

If the the stuff of the universe is, as Mach argued, the sensations and particularly our visual sense, then it is far from surprising that the speed limit of the universe should be the speed of the media of the sense of vision, or that the "pixels" of the universe should be of the minimum energy of a particle of light. It should surprise us not even a little bit, because it is implied by what "the universe" is: the universe is a theory about our sensations. That we can not see faster than we can see, nor smaller than we can see are not fortuitous, but tautologies. I strongly suspect, and believe, that the other "constants," are the result of the limitations of our senses too.

Consciousness is not something that is fortuitous, it is the foundation from which which physics starts. It is physics that needs to be explained - how its constants derive from our limitations - rather than consciousness which is a, the, given.

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Culture, Tourism and the Self: Travels in name and space

Culture, Tourism and the Self: Travels in name and space
Yuji Nakanishi, professor of Tourism at Rikkyou University, points out that “Japanese tend to associate tourism with historical landmarks, but foreigners are interested in people’s lives and their lifestyles,” he said. “Places like the fish market were never really considered a tourist site until quite recently, so both sides are really confused (Tanikawa, 2009).”

"A shop owner told me in an interview: ‘Tourists from China and Japan: here in the morning full of them, but they arrive, five minutes, and run away; they have their own schedule, take a picture and hurry; they don’t stay longer; they have ten minutes to see the church, twenty to see the museum, ten to go in another place.’ These tourists are seemingly not interested in cultural heritage but in collecting the icons of that culture." (Parmeggiani et al., 2010, p110)

Japanese tourists do different things. How should we make sense of them?

Japanese travel to places for symbols where they themselves provide the sights from the imagination or bodily via auto-photography, whereas Western tourists go places for sights which they interpret and narrate in their thoughts and words. The purpose in each case, of going all that way to experience otherness, is to return to an experience of self undiluted by other.

A few days ago in the village near our beach house, a rainy day, a group of Japanese tourists went from community centre to Buddhist temple, to road side shrine, collecting stamps as part of one of those uniquely Japanese "stamp rallies." No one came to the beach in front of our house. The panoramic view of inland sea, with gulls and fishing boats and its setting sun was of no interest to them. Likewise, this jaded old Westerner can not think of a more boring, more pointless tourism experience than a traipsing around a grey landscape collecting the blotchy red imprints left by a set of rubber stamps.

As Urry (2002) famously argues, Western tourism is about going to see something. This form of tourism has a very long tradition. The picture above left is from a stained glass window in Canterbury Cathedral, England (Wells, 2002, p127, Crown Copyright NMR), the destination of Medieval Christian pilgrimage. Wells, and more famously the anthropologist Victor Turner (Turner & Turner, 1995) have argued that there is a visual bias to Christian pilgrimage, or that the destination of Christian pilgrimage is a located image, such as stained glass, a sacred image or icon.

That the Japanese word for tourism, Kankou is often glossed as "seeing the sights" persuades us that Japanese tourist too are interested in going to see. In fact the would "Kankou" originates n the Tao-Te-Ching which argues that rulers should travel to other countries so as to gain information on how better to rule their own. The passage which introduces the word "kankou" is a recommendation not to travellers but to hosts to " indicate (shiimesu) the (high)lights of your country." Even on a literal reading, "Kankou" (Japanese tourism) is about going to places where things are explained (note 0).

The stamp rally has its origins in the proof of visitation required of Japanese pilgrims during the Tokugawa period (Graburn, 1983; Reader, 2005), but before that Japanese accumulated pieces of paper stamped with sacred symbols for more than one thousand years. The religious act of Shinto, far more than prayer, is a form of pilgrimage, shrine-visiting, mairi or moude, a movement of the worshipper. And at the shrine, before amulets and sacred stamped pieces of card were distributed symbols: first branches of trees and stones, later stamped pieces of paper. The destinations provided the names. The destinations were the named places, the "meisho". But did Japanese pilgrimage destinations provide the sights?

Not only in the stamp rally but in many forms of Japanese tourism is the sight strangely eschewed. I can remember my disappointment when taken to the the ancient seat of regional government at Dazaifu to find only an empty field. Japanese tourists visit castle towns, such as the most famous, Hagi, where there is NO CASTLE TO BE SEEN! They visit ruins ('of identity' see Hudson, 1999; Plutschow, 1981) such as that visited by Matsuo Basho, where there is NOTHING to be SEEN at all. Hudson, citing Plutschow (1981, p22) argues that, "Basho' choice of ato (ruin) was itself derived from the medieval Japanese tradition of travel diaries, wherein the significance of a place was determined by its history - its location in time, rather than by geography."

Traditionally shrines, the destination Japanese par excellence contained a prototypical meibutsu, the God-body (goshintai) of the shrine that might be a mirror, sword, jewel, or sacred stone but it was *forbidden to see this item*. The goshintai was situated symbolically . It was wrapped up in layer upon layer of cloth, box, inner shrine, out shrine and shrine walls (Hendry, 1995; Pilgrim, 1986; Bachnik & Quinn, 1994) partly to ensure that it was never seen at all. Shrines have the structure of an onion. The visitor may never become aware that there is anything at their centre, other than the fact that the visitor knows that something is there, symbolically. After all, shrines are the prototypical, great and famous, named place (meisho).

According to an informant, a Japanese tour guide, the vast majority of Japanese tourists visiting Ise Shrine today, visit the woods around the shrine, see at most its outer walls, and the souvenir shop, and the car park. Japanese tourists have thronged to Ise for centuries (especially inspired by stories of sacred symbols falling from the sky (fudaori), but without special appointment they do not see the shrine itself, much less the holy of hollies, the mirror of the sun goddess, the goshintai, prototypical named-thing (meibutsu) at its centre. Even those that do have special dispensation to enter the outer walls of Ise Shrine will be faced with that which Guichard-Anguis (2007) describes as the biggest difference between pilgrimage to Ise compared with that in Europe; the shrine building itself will have been rebuilt within the last twenty years. Even though Japanese are noted for their fondness of historical attractions, not only do they go to visit empty sites or 'ruins', the Japanese rebuild even the old sites and buildings anew. This is not just in the case of Ise Shrine but also in the case of Japanese homes, and Castles such as Osaka castle, as bewailed by XYZ.

The fact that sights are not so important as named significance may also explain the lack of attention to the maintenance of visual "authenticity," even in places such as Tokyo. Tomomitsu-Tomasson (2005) a research student in sociology, expresses her disappointment at arriving in Kyoto with a quote from Kerr's damning portrait of the dark side of Japan (2002).

“How must Kyoto appear to one who has never visited here? Passersby clad in kimono going to and fro along quiet narrow streets between temples, rows of houses with black wooden lattices, glimpsed over tiled roofs the mountains covered with cherry blossoms, streams trickling at one’s feet….the traveler’s expectations must be high – until the moment when he alights from the Bullet train. He leaves the station, catches his first sight of Kyoto Tower, and from there on it is all shattered dreams. Kyoto Hotel cuts off the view of the Higashiyama hills, and big signs on cheap clothing stores hide Mount Daimonji.Red; vending machines are lined up in front of the temples. It’s the same miserable scenery you see everywhere in Japan, and the same people oblivious to it all” (Professor Tayama Reishi direct quote) (Kerr 2001:164/65). in Tomomitsu-Tomasson (2005), p 4.

In my new home town of Yamaguchi I have written about how sad it is that less is done to maintain traditional urban architecture such as in Tatekouji Street, since it is this type of sight, that is the essence of a tourist attraction and destination. That Japanese are happy to visit Kyoto and Yamaguchi without demanding visual authenticity is again a result of their relative lack of interest in the visual dimension of tourist destinations.

Finally, it just seems to me that the Japanese are not so interested in views. The fact that I continue to live in an more recently purchases house with excellent views, or that I have a panoramic view from the window where I now write drives this home. I feel considerable empathy with the words of the Blondie song, "All I want is a room with a view," and seek to live in places which command a view. In Japan, however it is said that "high places attract smoke and stupid people," and while the high places may be elevated social positions, I think that it may also apply to the more literal interpretation. Perhaps part of my preference for views is my stupid desire to look down on things and other people.

Why do Japanese go to these symbolically significant named-places places, rather to interpret visual sites?

It seems to me that the answer can be found in theories of the Western, and Japanese self.

Here I should have a long introduction to (cross cultural psychology)
Origins in Triandis' Hofestede' collectivism
Markus and Kitayama turn around
Heine rejection of the need for self regard
Oyserman/Takano/Yamagishi attacks on collectivism
Hong YY and more so, Nisbett/Masuda cognitive turn
Kim and Non-Linguistic thought, and in her second paper on that topic on self expression, the non-linguistic self

And then ask what, phenomenologically is the self in the West and Japan like? What is it like to have an independent self? What is felt to be self? What is felt to be not self? How can one have a "interdependent self" what does hat feel like? What phenomena are felt to be self in that situation?

And then me (ha!)

For the Westerner, the self is the self narrative. Tourists of the MacCannelian or Cullerian kind visit and play ethnographer or semiologist (MacCannell, 1976; Culler, 1988) regarding the sights that they see. The Western tourists provides the narrative because they are narrative and the sight is the otherness which they attempt to interpret. To these tourists the things that they see are signs but they are signs which have the structure of an alibi (Culler, 1988; Barthes,1972), signing off to a meaning which the tourist, in their phonetic inner narrative, provides. The Western tourists may take of photo of the sight, or better still purchase a photo upon the reverse of which she will narrate herself in this location. The Western tourist goes to see and say. Like ethnologists or anthropologists they use the phenomenological technique of bracketing away preconceptions (the more other unusual, opaque to the interpretations that they have to hand that a sight is the more that task is performed for them) and then they make pronouncement upon the sights that they see. This transcendental meditation employed by Western Anthropologists and Tourists alike, can be described in the following way,

From this new transcendental standpoint Husserl maintained that the manifold stream of contingent world-objects could be perceived in a new way, giving 'a new kind of experience: transcendental experience'. The transcendental ego because a 'disinterested onlooker' whose only motive is neutrally to describe 'what he sees, purely as seen, as what is seen and seen in such and such a manner' (Rayment-Pickard, 2003)

Japanese tourists on the other hand do not go to provide symbols about sights, but to provide sights or images regarding symbolic locations. The symbolic sites visited by Japanese tourists, the named places, the named things, do not have the structure of the alibi (see Hansen, 1993) but are the signs themselves. That Japanese tourists go to places with literary, historical, named significant, that they vistic symbolic geographies as been ascribed (as all things Japanese always are) to their "groupism," and also, in the face of Westernisation, to their nostalgic desire to return to their historical routes, to their self. This latter interpretation hits the mark I think because the Japanese self is a space (Kanjin; Hamaguchi, 1997) , a primordial space (Nishida 1993; Watsuji 1979; see Mochizuki, 2006) a mirror (Kurozumi). When the self is a space, then the concept of travel presents inherent difficulties. How can space travel? I argue that the Japanese tourists' interest in historical, literary, or otherwise famous named-places, and named-things is because it is not the place but the name that they are visiting. The Japanese travel to places precisely because they are "encrusted with renown," (Culler); and are all the more happy if as at shrines, or ruins, their is nothing to see because it is in the space of their mind that they provide the images to go with the otherness of the symbols that they are visiting. Indeed in a sense they do see that holy of holies, the mirror of the sun goddess in the internal space that is the Japanese mind.

Lacan argues that the self is at the presumed intersection of linguistic self signification -self narration, and visual self reflection, mirrorings and imagingings. Neither the symbolic nor the imaginary can say or see itself. The word can not enunciate the enunciated even in time since it is always delayed, defered (Derrida, 1998), never the person that it was what the attempt was started. Husserl's "living present" is always already gone. Likewise, the minds eye is unable to see itself. It requires the admixture of an other, the image of oneself, the name of oneself for each to enable the self to wrap around upon itself and self itself into self hood. This admixture is to be kept to a minimum. The self image in the West is external, when identified a sign of vanity or 'narcissism'. The word or symbol in Japan is external, and when internalised an impurity of mind (See Kim, 2002).

In either case, these essential impurities or 'supplements,' which are both required to complete and are additional to self(Derrida, 1998) are washed away in the experience of tourism when the Western and Japanese tourist meets the other as image or symbol respectively. The transcendental meditation for the Japanese tourist, at the British Museum, at the Named Place ruin of a famous castle, at the walls of Ise Shrine, becomes a interested visualiser of the place hidden in time, behind those walls. Souzou ga fukuramu. Images spring to mind. And even as the "Kankou" they shut their eyes to the world (Hitomi wo Tojiru) and call to mind the glory of the place they are visiting and in that experience, see themselves as the visual space, place or soul, that they believe themselves to be.

If either the Western tourist leaves something of himself it narratival. He signs a guest book. He narrates himself on a postcard (postcards are not sold for writing upon in Japan but only as packs, as symbolic souvenirs).

The Japanese tourist on the other hand provides the images, not just in her own mind, but also in the form of auto-photography so central to the tourism experience in Japan.

These differences have important implications for the tourist industries catering to Western and Japanese tourists.

When serving Japanese tourists it is important to provide the names, the narrative the guidebooks (which Japanese tourists themselves prepare in relative abundance), the words. They must also be provided the opportunity to provide images: above all to to imagine, and also to photograph themselves. Tourist destinations that do not have words related to them (iware no nai) are not of interest. Japanese tourist travel all the way to the lake district in the North of England, ignoring the beauty of the Powys hills completely, because the former have no literature - no words associated with them. They avoid the markets of London concentrating on the British museum and tower since the latter are redolent with renown. Japanese tourism providers need to counter the ocular turn of contemporary tourism theory and as the Japanese policy paper at the start of the ”tourism-oriented country" advocates a return to the original meaning of Kankou, or rather the provision of Kankou, which is not merely in the gaze directed, but in the of indication of facts, of nominal, symbolic entities.

"When promoting tourism it is therefore essential to return to this [etymological] origin of tourism, and create revolution in the very notion of tourism. The origin of tourism is not just looking at famous places and scenery, or seeing the sights, in regard to the the things that the local population feel happy about, to the things that the inhabitants of a certain land feel proud of and "indicating these highlights." (note 1)

Those especially in Japan however, who are catering to Western tourists should be aware that a place does not need to have a name for the Western tourist to want to visit it. In fact it helps if (other than the "markers" to find it) the destination is un-named "authentic" since the Western visitor provides the words. He is the words that he provides. These ethnographic, phenomenological tourists want to narrate, pronounce, theorise (what I am now doing) about the things that they see and in so doing they (I make myself shiver) have a transcendental experience of who they are, the words that drift across the universe of 'exterior' visual phenomena. Give us a view, any view, something to speak about, a picture and postcard, a picture postcard, above all give us something to see and some means by which they can narrate and we will be happy. There are such opportunities in every Japanese village not only the famous ones. Western tourist go to see spaces and places, and there is (or should be) much more for them to see. Alas at present, or until recently, the Japanese presume that their visitors are also Japanese and "indicate the highlights" (Kankou) or show the Named-places only. Very recently, there is a trend to promote regional tourism resources which do not have a name, this geographical tourism (shock!) had to be given a neologism "jitabi," since the very concept of simply going to see a place was alien to the Japanese.

Finally the above theoretical position resolves the problem how tourists can be going in search of authenticity (MacCannell, 1986) even in blatantly inauthentic "post tourism" (Urry, 2002) sites: on tour we bring ourselves to confront the other of the self, we find our self in maximal authenticity.

Bibliography created using Zotero
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note o
The [relevant passage] of the Tao Te Ching reads "*Indicating* [Shimesu, Kanagmiru] the lights of the country are good to use as hospitality for a king". where country mean the localities of contemporary China, and "lights" [highlights] refer to the superior or special things of that locality. (my translation, my emphasis, and my comments in brackets).

note 1
観光立国の推進に当たっては、まずはこうした「観光の原点」に立ち返ること、つまり「観光」概念の革新が必要になる。観光の原点は、ただ単に名所や風景などの「光を見る」ことだけではなく、一つの地域に住む人々がその地に住むことに誇りをもつことができ、幸せを感じられることによって、その地域が「光を示す」ことにある。 「国の光を観る」 −観光の原点−
note 2
I think that the primordial space of the Japanese self (Nishida's ba), or the "climate" (Wasuji's fudo) can best be understood from a Western perspective as the "Field of Vision" (Mach, 1897). The visual field pictured in Mach's self portrait is usually seen, if existing at all, as being a form of barrier ("veil" "tain" or "hymen") between self and the world. To the Japanese this field, this primordial space, however, is the pure experience of self (Nishida, Zen no kenkyuu), as self-inseparable-from-spatial-other. This Japanese self is however separate from the world of symbols but, Japanese need the admixture of symbol, the name, their own name, for the Japanese child to believe that the their body houses this ephemeral mirror. In Japan it is precisely the linguistic which is public (Nakashima, 1997) and space, place and vision which as private as it gets. Taking a balanced view, neither images nor language are more private than the other, both requiring an other to have meaning, but it took Westerners almost two millenia to realise that language is meaningless if private (Wittgenstein, 1973).

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Elipsoid Edgeless Universe: Enough Already

Elipsoid Edgeless Universe: Enough Already

Maybe it was because I had been reading Nietzsche (e.g. 1889) since I was 14, that when my high-school physics teacher told me that nothing could go faster than the speed of light, I suspected something was amiss. It was less the very fact that the universe should have a speed limit, a little fishy in itself, but that we, humans, should have sense apparatus to detect that which travels at the this speed limit seemed utterly absurd as discussed before.

Echoing Nietzsche, Dawkins says "The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies." But Dawkins uses our insignificance to reject the anthropic principle, "We are so insignificant that I can't believe the whole universe exists for our benefit." Dawkins seems to have missed the possibility that "the universe" is not "for our benefit" but that the universe is human, as we once were.

Ernst Mach (1897) suggested that that the stuff of the universe is our sensations particularly our visual field. He tended to draw his visual field with one eye shut. I have superimposed two of his visual field drawings above.

As mentioned before there has been recent theoretical research that suggests that the universe is flat: the holographic principle and there is currently experimental research under way at the Fermi Lab in the USA to test whether we are living in a hologram, and three dimensionality is an emergent property. If it should be discovered that the universe is in fact two dimensional, or perhaps made up of two two dimensional planes (my prediction), then how else are we going to explain this other than by appealing to a Machian, or Buddhist, sensationalism in the sense of a "consciousness only" theory?

Upon consideration of the Fermi experiment, I also took time to Google "oval universe" and find that there is research to show that the universe is ellipsoid! Physicists are puzzled (Cea, 2014)!

Mach was not entirely accurate in his drawings of his visual field. Not only should there be two noses, but also the visual field, or at least mine, is wider than it is tall. It is an ellipsoid. It also has no edge (Hartle & Hawking, 1983; Hartle, Hawking, & Hertog, 2008).

Cea, P. (2014). The Ellipsoidal Universe in the Planck Satellite Era. arXiv:1401.5627 [astro-Ph, Physics:gr-Qc]. Retrieved from

Hartle, J. B., & Hawking, S. W. (1983). Wave function of the universe. Physical Review D, 28(12), 2960. Retrieved from Hartle, J. B., Hawking, S. W., & Hertog, T. (2008). No-boundary measure of the universe. Physical Review Letters, 100(20), 201301. Retrieved from
Mach, E. (1897). Contributions to the Analysis of the Sensations. (C. M. Williams, Trans.). The Open court publishing company. Retrieved from
Nietzsche, F. (1889). Twilight of the Idols. Wordsworth Classics.

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The Holographic Principle: Game, Set, Mach

The Holographic Principle: Game, Set, Mach
Mach, and the Buddhists are right.

Following from an analysis of what happens when a object travels through the event horizon of a black hole, its is mathematically demonstrable that the size of the black hole increases in proportion to the square of the mass of the object rather than the cube. The information contained within the mass is spread out on the surface of the black hole indicating that black holes -- and indeed the whole universe -- is in some sense two dimensional. Leonard Susskind claims that like black holes, the universe (including "this room") is two dimensional only appearing three dimensional, like a hologram.

From the wikipedia page (see end)
"The holographic principle states that the entropy of ordinary mass (not just black holes) is also proportional to surface area and not volume; that volume itself is illusory and the universe is really a hologram which is isomorphic to the information "inscribed" on the surface of its boundary.[10]

This is very strange. How can this be? Is there any reasonable, rational way in which the two dimensionality of the universe can be explained? Did the 'big bang' take place between massive plates of dark matter? Bearing in mind the limitations of our sensory apparatus, the discovery of added dimensions seems more, rationally plausible than the realisation that the universe is of fewer dimensions than previously thought - only two spacial dimensions, plus time. Something very strange is going on.

But this "strangeness" of the universe discovered by the latest physics theorists is not a first. Einstein theorised that the speed of light is a cosmic speed limit. That the cosmic speed limit should be the speed of our fastest sense seems very fortuitous for an organism whose fastest sense organ depends on the movement of the same.

Even without reading Nietzsche, or Mach, the discoveries that universe is limited by the speed of light, and two dimensional "like a picture" must suggest that there is another more simple, all-too-human, explanation: the "real world," of science is just a theory, words, signs, maths, about human experience.

This is the situation proposed by Ernst Mach, who influenced Einstein profoundly. The development of his theory of relativity was inspired by Mach, as he himself admitted in letters, but with regard to a human, experiential explanation for his 'speed limit', he kept his cards to his chest. Einstein admitted that the theory of relativity was influenced by Hume (another sensation-alist) and Mach, but he did not let the 'sensational' cat out of the bag: if, as Mach suggests, the universe is nothing more than a theory about our sensations (some call them "qualia," Mach used the term, "visual field") then what is implied?

What can we say about our visual field? Surprising little. The 'qualia" that my visual field seems to comprise are unnameable. From consideration of the colour blind, "red" is the agreement that I have with others, not the suchness that I experience.

My visual field is that Jamesian "blooming buzzing thing" or the "chaos" (mu) of Buddhists. Its properties are beyond a ken horizon, that is to say, partly in the Scottish vernacular, in plain sight and beyond my ken.

Westerners have tended to believe that the visual experience, the visual field, is merely a "veil" behind which is a rational universe of "things in themselves." If the fundamental stuff of the universe is this - we can all see it - circle of light, inside our heads, minds, or pressed up against our noses then there are implications,

Contra Buddhist, I think that we can say a little (very little) about our sensations. One is that it is bright, light. And hence Einstein's realization.

Another is that our visual field is made up of two dimensional information superimposed. At least one Buddhist philosopher (Nishida, see Heisig) is purported to say that pure experience is three dimensional. This is not my experience. If I return to the purity of my experience all I have is a big round mirror of brightness made up of of the presumed juxtaposition of two circles of light.

If sensation, the visual field, is the stuff of the universe, then is it surprising that, against all reason, the universe is two dimensional?

If the "universe," the Konigsbergian "real world" is nothing more than a theory about this visual field then it should surprise no one that the universe turns out to be in, improved, theory and in fact, two dimensional.

Game, set, Mach!

Top image from the wikipedia page on the Holographic Principle
Leonard Susskind on the Holographic Principle (see second half for claims that the universe is 2D)
Bottom two images are of his "visual field" by Ernst Mach.

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Mouse, Einstien and Moustein

Mouse, Einstien and Moustein
A long time ago I read a book by Nietzsche in which he expressed what I would call an argument from humility regarding the nature of human truth.

We live on a planet which is infinitesimally small, and we came into existence but a blip in the life of earth ago, and share half of our DNA with bananas, and about 75% with mice.

And yet these mice claim to know the speed limit of the universe. Quite by coincidence, the fastest speed of the universe happens to be the speed of the fastest sense of these mice. How likely is that?

Einstein was influenced by Ernst Mach who argued that the stuff of the universe is the perceptions that we have. The speed limit that Einstein found was that of the perceived universe, the universe as experienced and understood by, and in, our minds.

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God, Narcissus and the Post-Human

God, Narcissus and the Post-Human
When considering the similarities between Genesis and theories of self-psychologists, "Was God a Narcissist?" is a question that springs to mind (left panel above, adapted from Blake).

The psychoanalytic tradition of Freud and Lacan argue that there are stages in the development of the self the first of which is "narcissistic". The child first 'finds' or rather mistakes, and creates, itself as self objects such as its mirror reflection, they argue. Freud sticks with the Greek myth and suggests this is motivated by narcissistic self-love. Lacan (1977) argues that we need to mis-recognise ourselves in our mirror image in order to achieve motor coordination.

Both Lacan and Freud then suggest that the this dyad is, and must be supplemented by a third term, the superego or Other. If not in Freud, then explicitly in Lacan, the supplementary other is linguistic. Rather that toil in the hell of fragmentary dyads where we are dependent upon reflecting surfaces and the faces of others in whom our nascent self is reflected, we learn to narrate ourselves, to echo ourselves, and in this narrative is life (Hebrew, "Eve").

Incidently, in a deconstruction of the tradition of Freud and Lacan, Brenkman (1976) points out that the negative view of image (as shown by Narcissus' stupidity in the central panel above) and more positive view of lingustic mirrors, is shared by the myth of Narcissus where Narcissus is complimented by a linguistic mirror in the form of the loving, living Echo (middle panel right, appears' in the myth only as an echo of Narcissus' words). In ancient Greece there was no wedding.

I have not been able to see any clear indication that the biblical Eve has anything linguistic about her, yet, other than references to Derrida's theory of signs, but it does seem clear that the creation in Genesis takes place in two stages.

God creates humans , as man and woman from earth who he calls Adam:

AV Gn 5:2 Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

And then God creates for them a supplementary Eve, "a helper, like as one before", out of their "one side (chamber)".

So there are two stages, in the Bible too. There are humans (adam) #1 who do not have a helper. And there are humans (adam #2), that are now wedded to Eve ("life"), their "helper-as-before-them".

And it is also seems clear to me that the Biblical version of the first of these stages, adam #1, is very visual.

Gn 1:26-27 . And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

The word used for image (Hebrew tzlm) seems to reserved *for visual images*. It is later used to describe all those "graven images" that God hates and destroys.

So does Genesis describe God making a mistake of the type described by Freud and Lacan? Did Elohim make a graven image of himself: adam #1? Did God have a beard!?

I suggest not, and a different type of image. The right hand pane above (used without permission) is adapted from an adaptation of Ernst Mach's visual field, by Professor Robert Pepperell: "The view of the self as part of the world, iPad painting
2011 (After Ernst Mach)"
and rounded later version "As Seen' (After Mach), iPad drawing, 2012."

This is also, I think, the self that Nishida, at the end of phenomenological process of bracketing off all that can be doubted, describes as being "absolutely contradictory self," self as place, self as geography, self as "earth." I think we have found adam #1, the proto and post human. But where is he?

As I was flicking around the bible for examples of "image" and "likeness," I came across this quote from the book of Isaiah, where God's dislike of visual images is being stated again, together with the reason.

AV Isa 40:18-22 . To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains.He that [is] so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree [that] will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, [that] shall not be moved.
Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?
[It is] he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof [are] as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

The bit I especially like is the last bit.

"[It is] he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof [are] as grasshoppers"

The "circle" has been argued to imply that the Biblical earth is round, but I think that Isaiah (and Blake. Mach, and Pepperell too) was talking about a different circle.

I think that it is important to note that the circle is not 'in my head.' Or at least to be very wary of saying so. I can look at myself, and my head, in a mirror on the other other side of my room. I am one of the grasshoppers.

There is some suggestion (McDermott, 1996) that proto-humans, or paleolithic ones, had a first person view of self such as that portrayed in the picture above right.

Something else other than what I consider to be "me" seems emphasised when looking at the view with both eyes open. I do not have two noses.

Brenkman, John. "Narcissus in the Text." The Georgia Review 30.2 (1976): 293-327.
Lacan, J. (1977). The mirror stage. Écrits: A selection, 1-7.
McDermott, L. R. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275. Retrieved from
Pepperell, R. (2003). The Posthuman Condition: Consciousness Beyond the Brain, 3ª.

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The Death of Absalom

The Death of Absalom

After reading Nathan's parable to David, I read about King David's life and it struck me as being surprisingly mythic.

David rose to fame by killing Goliath a giant "man of the in-between" איש הביניים by sinking a stone into this giant's forehead, and chopping off his head.

In order to escape being killed David put an "idol" in his bed with a wig of goats hair. (I have not idea what this is about but it is connected, and mythic).

David becomes king and eventually has a son called Absalom who grows 200 shekels, or more than 2Kg, in weight of hair every year (2 Sam 14:26). A second giant, in the space of one lifetime! Absalom rebelled against his father, having sex with this father's wives who, a little unfairly it seemed at first, are put under house arrest until death, entombed.

Absalom was eventually defeated in the battle of Ephraim's Wood where his massive head of hair is caught in the branches of a tree, and there, strung out, he was killed (much to the consternation of his father) by lances.

I was struck by this mention of hair since unusual uses of hair, including tying people down by their hair, is often mentioned in the mythology of Japan (see Hair in the Kojiki).

But what could it mean? Absolutely nothing? Do you know any giant "men in between," with no head? Or anyone with a *lot* of hair? Well, I am completely bald, but I was cycling along a road thinking about it this (the road was not wooded, but it could have been) when I realised that I did know someone with a lot of hair - so much it can blot out the sky!

He is someone who I love but I had, have, almost killed. He has no head. And here he is pictured above. He is bit difficult to see but he is big, and has a lot hair. I only get the very slightest glimpse of him very occasionally, usually while cycling or running. Sometimes I wonder if he still there at all but, will there be a time?

The above is an example of why myth is good. If you tell it straight, it does not hit you with such intensity.

Dying strung out on a 'tree' and killed with lances is like another biblical hero, son, and relative, incidentally(?).

I think that David's wives, or concubines, should be let out now.

Adapted from Road by geodesic, on Flickr

Eliot, Thomas Stearns. "The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Prufrock and other observations. New York: AA Knopf (1917).

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The Lonely Noses

The Lonely Noses
My visual field as I teach, contains my ghostly nose, far too large, doubled, abject and ignored. And all the while I dream that someone else might see it, be seeing it, with me.

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Venus, Selfie, The World

Venus, Selfie, The World
The oldest depiction of the human form is perhaps the Venus in the The Salle du Fond, the deepest of the Chauvet Cave chambers, discovered in 1994, thought to date to approximately 30,000 years ago. As argued by Jean Clottes, this "Venus" shows proportions typical of Venus figurines from the palaeolithic period (see bottom row of black and white images).

If so, then as argued by Dr. McDermott (1996), the picture may be a "selfie", or auto-portraiture. The image may have large hips and thighs and feet trailing away to nothing due to the perspective of a drawing from a first person view. But why has this Venus been incorporated into the pictures of animals on either side? Was this an attempt to conceal cave-man porn?

At a stretch, the way in which the Venus is also a view of animals, in that it has been incorporated into the drawings of animals (added later) at either side, it may be argued to be representing the philosophical claim found in Enrst Mach (1897) and Nishida that first-person views are, in extremis, of both self and the world. Nishida calls “pure experience” the “radically contradictory self,” since it is both self and the world. Mach (1902) writes "Not the things, the bodies, but colours, sounds, pressures, times (what we usually call sensations) are the true elements of the world [and presumably, as sensations of “me” the first person also]." [my addition] Nietzsche once wrote, I believe, that wherever you point (hora!) one can only point at oneself.

I hear that there are other Venus type friezes in amongst the legs of animals in caves in Rocaux as well, it might be expressing the same intuition: the identify of world and self. But why is there a connection between world and female self? Could the self, the world be female!?

In this connection, recently I came across the following Aztec creation myth from

Quetzalcoatl, the light one, and Tezcatlipoca, the dark one, looked down from their place in the sky and saw only water below. A gigantic goddess floated upon the waters, eating everything with her many mouths.

The two gods saw that whatever they created was eaten by this monster. They knew they must stop her, so they transformed themselves into two huge serpents and descended into the water. One of them grabbed the goddess by the arms while the other grabbed her around the legs, and before she could resist they pulled until she broke apart.

Her head and shoulders became the earth and the lower part of her body the sky.

The other gods were angry at what the two had done and decided, as compensation for her dismemberment, to allow her to provide the necessities for people to survive; so from her hair they created trees, grass, and flowers; caves, fountains, and wells from her eyes; rivers from her mouth; hills and valleys from her nose; and mountains from her shoulders.

Still the goddess was often unhappy and the people could hear her crying in the night. They knew she wept because of her thirst for human blood, and that she would not provide food from the soil until she drank.

So the gift of human hearts is given her. She who provides sustenance for human lives demands human lives for her own sustenance. So it has always been; so it will ever be.

Thanks to David B. (and CP a little) for the inspiration for the above post.

Upper Image from
Lower image from
but perhaps originally from Jean Clottes, 'Return to Chauvet Cave'

Mach, E. (1897). Contributions to the Analysis of the Sensations. (C. M. Williams, Trans.). The Open court publishing company. Retrieved from
McDermott, L. R. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275. Retrieved from

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September 18, 2013

Supposing Truth is a Woman

Supposing Truth is a WomanI really liked the "Supposing truth is a woman" line in Nietzsche when I read it, and like it more now. Now I think it is not just metaphorical, but almost on the button.

There is a tendency to suppose that understanding language is a discrete process, logical, chopped up -- whether or not 'cutting nature at the joints' -- and that we consult a sort of mental dictionary, one word by one, that allows us to analyse each word in a statement to see whether its meaning is being correctly, truthfully used, as found in Saussure and Plato-of-the-forms. Do the "signifieds" or "forms" exist? I doubt it.

In more modern, dialectical, social-interactionist representations of how we understand language, how we understand whether a statement is true or not, however, what we really do is simply say our statements to someone, most often an internal simulated someone, and run that meaning by them, and gauge their reaction. This is the way that Mead and Bakhtin suggest we understand words.

While forsaking the discrete model of language recognition, Mead argues that we are able to hear our thoughts from the 'perspective,' -- viewpoint or rather earpoint, or haunted sound box -- of a "generalised" other, it is not clear at all to me how we do this. That would seem to suggest that we model a 'cocktail party' (Ewing, J. personal communication, c. 1990) that listens to our inner-speech. But wouldn't this result in sort of inner cacophony of 'interpretants' (Pierce)? How would we reconcile all the ways in which our internal audience-plural can hear our thoughts? How do we unify our cocktail party of ears and interpreting reactions? And more to the point, how do we internalise an other at all? "Get out Freudian super-ego, Bakhtinian super-addressee, Meadian generalised other, I don't want you to here to hear, just for a minute!", I say, but fail of course in my verbalised request.

Richard Dawkins is "moved" by this quote of Jefferson's.
(Dawkins, 2008, p64) "Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion." Are Jefferson and Dawkins being merely metaphorical?

See Dawkins as he gives his speeches, wincing. Am I the only one to feel he too is haunted by "her," his reason?

What if the dictionary or yardstick by which we interpret our words really were, almost, a woman? What if in that 'one side chamber'* of the mind were enacted the ear of a woman - wouldn't the shame of that homo-auto-aural-eroticism keep her in here, hearing, hidden?

Supposing "truth" - its arbiter - is a mental man in drag? Would that not temper our respect for "rational" truth and knowledge? Might it not, in the extreme, be fair to call reason a "whore" (Luther).

I find myself very impressed by Mel Gibsonianism (2004) who represents Satan, or the "sin" -- the problem of the human mind -- as a baby-holding woman, or as it turns out in the end, a supernatural, mental man in drag.

Eve was made of the side side chamber of Adam. The bible relates that God made women twice, first out of earth and then later a "companion" for Adam, out of his "rib." The translation of the Hebrew word to rib has recently be criticised since the only other place in which a real rib appears in the bible it is written with a different word, and while the etymological root is "rib," the word is predominantly used to mean "side" (15 times) and "side chamber" (10 times). When we think it seems to me our thoughts as resound around in the mind which (f interactional/dialogical interpreters of linguistic meaning such as Mead and Bakhtin are right contains a simulated other. I have used the metaphor of the Meadian mind as 'a haunted sound box,' but I think that as a metaphor, or literal description "'a side chamber' made into a companion called, Eve" is at least as good. And, further, while Eve and I can narrate myself and the world, these things are always only narrations or hypotheses and never 'the centre' (Dennet, 1992) of anything, nor in any absolute sense, knowledge, and to think so would be, a terrible mistake.

Bakhtin, M. M. M. (1981). The dialogic imagination: Four essays (No. 1). University of Texas Press.
Dawkins, R., & Ward, L. (2006). The god delusion (p. 64). New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Freud, S., Strachey, J., Freud, A., & Rothgeb, C. L. (1953). The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud:(1913-1914) Totem and taboo and other works.[1955 (Vol. 13). Hogarth Press.
Dennett, D. C. (1992). The self as a center of narrative gravity. Self and consciousness: Multiple perspectives.
Gibson’s, M. (2004). The passion of the Christ.
Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self and society. Chicago. University of Chicago Press.
Nietzsche, F. (2002). Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future. Cambridge University Press.
Pierce, C. S. (1894). What is a Sign?. Philosophical Writings of Peirce, 98-104.

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September 17, 2013

Language as Dummy/Comforter

Language as Dummy/Comforter

Who would have thought it but perhaps language evolved as a comforter or dummy - yes, that is right, something that encourages us to keep our mouth shut.

I recently wrote about speech as auto-affection (Derrida) or, in plainer terms, mental masturbation.

The defining characteristic of human language is its non-iconic, non-idexical, social, arbitary-ness. In other words, human words have no connection to whatever they mean. They do not resemble what they mean, nor do they have a physical connection with what they mean. Their meaning depends upon social convention.

Mead argues that language enables us to 'see' ourselves from the point of view of others, or a generalised other. This is presented as a cognitative advantage. Without language we'd not be able to have a self.

Chomsky too, argues that language must be a cognitive advantage because (1) it is difficult to see how it could have evolved as a communicative medium without there being simultaneous evolution of more than one individual, and (2) the majority, he claims, of language is self-spoken. Chomsky (2002) writes

The “irrelevance” [of communication] to human language is, however, far deeper. The reason is that–as Hauser also observes–language is not properly regarded as a system of communication. It is a system for expressing thought, something quite different. It can of course be used for communication, as can anything people do – manner of walking or style of clothes or hair, for example. But in any useful sense of the term,communication is not the function of language,and may even be of no unique significance for understanding the functions and nature of language.Hauser quotes Somerset Maugham’s quip that “if nobody spoke unless he had some thing to say,...the human race would very soon lose the use of speech.” His point seems accurate enough, even apart from the fact that language use is largely to oneself: “inner speech” for adults, monologue for children. p76-77

The fundamental condition that language has to meet is that it can be used, that the person who has it can use it. Actually you can use language even if you are the only person in the universe
with language, and in fact it would even have adaptive advantage. If one person suddenly got the language faculty,that person would have great advantages; the person could think, could articulate to itself its thoughts, could plan, could sharpen, and develop thinking as we do in inner speech, which has a big effect on our lives. Inner speech is most of speech.Almost all the use of language is to oneself,and it can be useful for all kinds of purposes (it can also be harmful, as we all know):figure out what you are going to do,plan,clarify your thoughts, what ever.So if one organism just happens to gain a language capacity, it might have reproductive advantages,enormous ones. p148

But then, Hejung Kim (2002) has demonstrated that East Asians have a cognitive *disadvantage*, when doing intelligence tests if they are forced to use language! So if language were a cognitive aid surely it would help East Asians too.

Returning to Mead, language requires that we model an other - an imaginary friend in the head - in order to understand it. Mead presents this as a self-cognitive advantage.

But early research by Nisbett (1977) who showed that our linguistic statements do not explain our psychological reality. We talk about ourselves to ourselves, but the narratives that we make up, are indeed made up stories. They are just stories

So what is going on? Language is not communication.Language does not give rise to a cognitive advantage about the world or self.

But language does require, as Mead and Bakhtin (1981) point out, an other, or the reaction of an other. Language in Pierce's terms an "interpretant" and that in its majority use as inner speech, we model an other to get that interpretation. That is the advantage of language, to Kanzi the bono bono ape who evolved language in the lab, to children, and to the first language speakers. Language creates others. Language provides us with an unreal 'comforting' other that does not require a listener, or sounds. It facilitates our inner-speech, and by creating a chimeric alter-ego to comfort us, keeps us silent.

Did some palaeolithic mother work out that if she gave her kids some language, they would make pretend mothers for themselves, and stop bugging her?

Jesus is an unpaid babysitter

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20

Eve was made not from a rib, but from a Adam's "side", or "side chamber". I sometimes think of language creating in me a sound box, like that of a stringed instrument, except haunted.

Bakhtin, M. Mikhail Mikhailovich. The dialogic imagination: Four essays. No. 1. University of Texas Press, 1981.
Chomsky, Noam. On nature and language. Eds. Adriana Belletti, and Luigi Rizzi. Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Kim, Heejung S. "We talk, therefore we think? A cultural analysis of the effect of talking on thinking." Journal of personality and social psychology 83.4 (2002): 828.
Mead, George Herbert. Mind, self, and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist. University of Chicago press, 2009.
Nisbett, Richard E., and Timothy D. Wilson. "Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes." Psychological review 84.3 (1977): 231.
Pierce, C. S. (1894). What is a Sign?. Philosophical Writings of Peirce, 98-104.
Swift, Graham. The light of day. Pan Macmillan, 2011.

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September 06, 2013

Einstien, Bats and "Past-Pointing" Dark Matter

Ernst Mach (1897) proposed that the basic stuff of the universe that physics should explain is phenomenon. To explain what he meant by phenomenon, he drew his famous picture of his visual field (below)

Ernst Mach's Self Portrait may be of Amaterasu's Mirror

Mach (1907, p. 579) wrote "Nature is composed of sensations as its elements.... Sensations are not signs of things; but, on the contrary, a thing is a thought-symbol for a compound sensation of relative fixedness. Properly speaking the world is not composed of "things" as its elements, but of colors, tones, pressures, spaces, times, in short what we ordinarily call individual sensations."

It is very well documented that Einstein was influenced by Mach's phenomenalist perspective. I argued in a previous post (Einstein was Batty) that the reason why nothing travels faster than the speed of light is because no human-perceived phenomenon can travel faster than the speed of light. But this is not entirely true. As mentioned in the previous post, if there were things travelling faster than the speed of light then we would be unable to observe them directly, but we may be able to observe their effects, with the very weird time-reversal consequences predicted by relativity.

Einstien, Bats and "Past-Pointing" Dark Matter
E.g. if two blind bats, with excellent (hypothetically perfect) sonar were hanging in a cave and hunter came in with a gun, which fired super-sonic bullets, and shot one of the bats, then the bat that survived would 'see' his friend fall down, and afterwards 'see' the hunter load up and shoot. In other words, the bats would see cause and effect reversal or retrocausality. This type of phenomenalist retrocausality would not fall foul of the Max Black's "bilking argument" since it would not be possible for the bat to prevent the cause of the effect that she had just observed. The bat might well set off towards the hunter in the attempt to prevent him from firing his gun, but she would never make it in time. If she flew faster and faster, then again as predicted by relativity, she would feel her own time frame to slow down, as the echoes of the hunter now approaching her faster than the speed of sound, would make the hunter's time frame faster, and the hunter to appear to be super 'fast at the draw'. As we have seen, super-sonic flight speeds should allow the bat, under the theory of relativity to reverse time and stop that darn hunter. But not so fast! If the bat could fly at supersonic speeds, she would never have experienced the retrocausality in the first place. If the bats were supersonic, then their fastest sense would be that of touch (and bullets would not hit them anyway).

All these manipulations of time are predicted by the theory of relativity (though I do not think it is predicted to happen in practice). In other words, I think that relativity can be understood from a phenomenalist perspective, rather than in terms of a 'cosmic speed limit'.

At the same time however, if it were simply the case that we are bats, and there is a world out there that does not reflect our sonar (light) or moves too fast for us to observe it, then just as the bats should, and do I believe, 'see', strange cause and effect reversals, we should also be seeing similar effects with reversed or at least invisible causes. Since we are not seeing them, perhaps then Einstein did discover the cosmic speed limit? As I said in my last article, bearing in mind our evolutionary similarity to goats and our general insignificance in the cosmos, I think it extremely unlikely that we should be able to know and sense at the cosmic speed limit. So where is the retro-causality, where is the "spooky action at a distance" that should be observed if things are moving faster than the speed of light?

Perhaps sound is pretty slow and light pretty fast. But even bearing that in mind, due to our insignificance on the cosmic scheme of things, I would expect a lot of things to be moving faster than we can perceive. What percentage of things should we be unable to experience? Most things I would guess. I think that it would be very bold to suggest that we could even perceive 5% of things, and more than 95% of universe should be quite, or almost, beyond our ken.

Enter dark matter. Since the 1970's, gaining full acceptance I think in the 1990s, astronomers and physicist have become persuaded that there is not enough visible matter to explain the high speed of rotation of galaxies, and not enough energy to explain the high speed of the expansion of the universe. Galaxies should not be as rotating as fast as they do without disintegrating, unless they contain more mass than we can see. Likewise the universe should not be expanding so rapidly than based on estimates of the amount of mass and energy that we can see. The only explanation for these phenomenon is that there is dark matter, which, together with "dark energy," makes up about 95% of the mass of the universe. We are only seeing 5% of the mass of the universe.

There is the possibility that this dark matter and dark energy is located in dark bodies somewhere out in space, but it seems also quite likely that like bats, we are swimming in stuff that we can not sense. Bats can't tell when the sun comes up (dark energy for a bat), nor see things that go faster than sound until they slow down.

Could it be that dark energy is dark for a similar reason?

Another explanation of dark matter provided by J. M. Ripalda (1999, last updated in 2010) from the university of Madrid, proposes that some matter in the universe is not "dark" but "past-pointing", and concludes his paper with the following remark

"The concepts of “dark energy” and non-baryonic “dark matter” are unnecessary. The fact that we experience time as always going forwards is due to the separation of past-pointing matter and future-pointing matter by gravity (a spontaneous local symmetry breaking). On a large scale, there is no “arrow of time”. "

I am not capable of understanding the mathematics used to support Ripalda's assertion, and I find it difficult to conceive of time actually, not phenomenologically, running in reverse anyway (except in Spanish films). But if the currently observed anomalies explained by "dark matter," can be explained by the presence of "past-pointing matter," then we have a similar situation to that found in the bat thought experiments. Bats, if their sonar were good enough, would experience all sort of time reversed events. Bats with good enough sonar would see planes that arrive before they take off, humans beconning people who had already set off towards them, and bullets that killed their neighbours before the bullets were fired. They would detect in their environment, in other words, the effects of "past-pointing matter".

From our point of view, and indeed from the bats point of view if they were able to think about it enough, this does not necessarily mean that "past-pointing matter" or the reversal of time is the best explanation. It might merely be better to assume that they, and we, are facing a phenomenal wall, due to the speed of the medium of their fastest sense. Hence, I suggest that the "speed limit" found by relativity, and that "dark" or "past-pointing" matter can better be explained in a phenomenalist way.

Strangely, I can't seem to find many other people pointing out this obvious phenomenalist explanation for the 'cosmic speed limit' other than "george.baldwin" from Avrille in France, who posts to this forum.

Mach, E. (1897). Contributions to the Analysis of the Sensations. (C. M. Williams, Trans.). The Open court publishing company. Retrieved from
Mach, E. (1907). The science of mechanics: A critical and historical account of its development. Open court publishing Company.
Ripalda, J. M. (1999). Time reversal and negative energies in general relativity. arXiv preprint gr-qc/9906012. Retrieved from

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September 05, 2013

The Evolutionary Origin of Language as Auto-Affection: Darwin meets Derrida

Scholars are surprisingly unsure as to why there is language at all. One okay, easy-read but fairly in-depth book about this is Jean-Louis Dessailes' (2007) "Why we talk: The Evolutionary Origins of Language."

The author argues that for a long time that hunter gatherers had language, without much in the way of technological or social advance, so it is difficult to see the adaptive advantage of having language. Greater social cohesion, catching free-riders, negotiation, and (the author's answer) the ability to brag politically, are some possibilities. The latter possibility, arises out of the authors observations that of all the supposed unique characteristics of human language, the one that genuinely remains is that we spend a lot of our time telling interesting stories, like we are saving up interesting, temporally separate pieces of information to brag to other people about later. This ability to brag can, like peacock feathers, be converted to social power. Dessailes theory of the evolution of language is thus very similar to that of Geoffrey Miller (2011) who argues that the origin of the, very large, human brain is similar to that of peacock feathers, since, in Dawkin's summary, "being clever is sexy" at 1 minute 35 second into this video.

All these answers, are to greater or lesser extent pragmatic, rather than illusory. My own answer is be adapted from Derrida's thoughts on self-speech, as "auto-affection". Another way of saying "auto-affection" is, as I think that Derrida makes fairly clear in his chapter on Rousseau in "of Grammatology", 'mental masturbation:' the fabulation of an other or dyad within the psyche so that one can enjoy the release of libidinal energy. This is a pretty distasteful theory, and I think that is partly why it enjoys little popularity or even straightforward exposition - Derrida is very cryptic about what he is talking about.

Language - symbolic (not iconic or indexical, see Pierce, 1894) signs - allows humans to represent themselves in a way that is arbitrary, depending upon a social system, not upon any similarity or physical connection between the sign and whatever it refers refer to. Symbols can leave the constraints of the environment. This Cousins argues (2012) allows us to think up new symbols, new ways of seeing and using things, and promotes social, technological advance.

Remember however that it is claimed by Dessailes that language was not accompanied by much technological advance from its birth in the palaeolithic. The age of language is argued to be, by Chomsky in this video, 100,000 to 200,000 years ago, long before the neolithic/agricultural revolution of about 12,000 years ago. That is for at least about 90,000 years or 90% of its history, we and our pre-human ancestors were using language, and making cave paintings, and seemed to have become religious as attested by the fact that we were burying our dead, but we were not doing a lot in the way of practical technological advance. This point is contentious. Other archaeologists claim that there was a continuous chain of social innovation, so the link between language and social innovation (Cousins, 2012) may well be correct.

The non-iconic, non-indexical nature of symbols, also means that they are "iterable" (Derrida) or repeatable, quotable, as such function in the complete absence of the author (Derrida), and further we can and need to understand them in communication, from the point of view of a real or internalised other (Mead). This ability to present ourselves objectively to ourselves may have all sorts of cognitive, or communicative advantages, but it also has imho a much more emotional, rather iccky, psychological advantage. Words as symbols, are like little mirrors; or self-addressed postcards (Derrida). They are a little bit of ourselves that we set apart from ourselves, that we see as if from the outside. Unlike sculpture which in the palaeolithic can and often does provide a first person perspective of self (McDermott, 1996), language, like mirrors, by the way it functions as part of social code, always provides a view from the other.

Returning to Dessailes book, he recounts that experimenters have been attempting to get primates to speak for a long time with quite a lot of success with some Chimps and with massive success with a particular bono bono called Kanzi.

The only primate to have evolved (autonomously learnt) to speak like a human is a bono bono (close relative of a chimpanzee) called Kanzi.

Here I quote from Dessailes book

“When Matata weaned Kanzi and had to be separated from him tor a time so as to be bred again, he was left alone. The research team thought they might be able to try teaching him what they had failed to teach Matata, though he had never shown an interest in her keyboard, except to push keys at random. But his behaviour once he was separated from his mother, upset this plan: as soon as he was left to himself, he spontaneously started to touch keys on the keyboard, not at random or in response to a prompt, but in a way that announced his own actions. For example, he would touch the lexigram for apple, then go an fetch an apple. This proved that not only did he know the meaning of the symbols on the keyboard, unlike Matata, but that he had learned them quite spontaneously. This observation was, to say the least unexpected.” p62

Wow! There it is. The evolutionary origin of language. I repeat that in large part this experiments succeed in not only teaching, but creating the situation where language almost spontaneously, *evolved in the lab*! I think that they should have paid more attention to the characteristics of Kanzi's language:

1) It was self descriptive - a self narrative.
2) It occurred in isolation, recently separated when the speaker was probably lonely.
3) It was therefore in a sense self directed, or perhaps spoken off to someone that Kanzi imagined might be listening/watching, or as Mead argues understood from the point of view of an other - in this case his mother Matata.

4) It was to a large extent Ex Post, after the even. Kanzi was predicting that which he had already decided to do, as demonstrated to be the case in humans too by the work of Libet and more forcefully Soon et al.. In this way language appears to be causative when really it only creates this impression since it is "postdicting" predicting the past.

This is I think the advantage of language for the individual. It supplies the myth of a dyad, "presence", presence of the meaning of the words, which can only be achieved by the presence of others. Language is usually seen as a communicative or cognitive tool, and through it being able to see ourselves from the point of view of the other, a cognitive advantage. However, language allows us to be a narcissistic in a linguistic mirror, and through self-narrative, provide us with the illusion that we are never alone.

The origin of language in this auto-effective, self comforting behaviour, is not so preposterous when one considerer that the sage author of this book argues that language was originally for showing off to others, bragging, politically. Nor is it so strange when compared with the theory of Geoffrey Miller regarding the human brain: "being clever is sexy." In the theoretical absence of an environmentally adaptive, pragmatic advantage of language to the speaker, these white, modern, male authors propose that the listener (presumably a female) is duped. As even today, the 'WEIRD' (Heine, 2010) self-enhancer appears to dupe those around him, when in fact the merits of his so doing are intra-psychic: he dupes himself. Kanzi, likewise, is bragging to himself, being attractive, even sexy, to himself, and enjoying the resultant "auto-affection," enough to do so without any reward from the experimenters.

The advantage for the species is however pragmatic. That individuals from any species play this game, that they become split, narcissists in this way, results in state where all members are possessed or infested with the ghost of their parents. This state is useful when it is remembered, that since Dawkins, we realise that the unit of evolution is the unity of replication - the gene - and not the individual, which is merely a 'vehicle' for the gene. The behaviour of individuals needs to bent to the demands of a social, familial, or above all, genetic level. When the complexity of the individual vehicle reaches a level where the objectives of the gene and the individual are at odds, then all that genes and evolution can do (other than to regress to species with more socially dependent individuals) is offer the individuals illusions. When there is conflict, genuine conflict, then no truth, only attractive illusions, can be offered.

I am arguing thus that the advent of language facilitated morality, its advantage to the species, because it provided, to the individual, a form of proto-porn.

The earlier part of this blog post, and asking the question 'why do we have language at all, was inspired by Steven Cousins, who has his own answer.

Cousins, S. D. (2012). A semiotic approach to mind and culture. Culture & Psychology, 18(2), 149–166. doi:10.1177/1354067X11434834
Derrida, J. (1998). Of grammatology. (G. C. Spivak, Trans.). JHU Press.
Derrida, J. (1987). The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. (A. Bass, Trans.) (First Edition.). University Of Chicago Press.
Dessalles, J.-L. (2007). Why we talk: The evolutionary origins of language. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from
Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). Most people are not WEIRD. Nature, 466(7302), 29–29.
Libet, B. (1999). Do we have free will? Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6(8-9), 47–57. Retrieved from
McDermott, L. R. (1996). Self-representation in Upper Paleolithic female figurines. Current Anthropology, 37(2), 227–275.
Miller, G. (2011). The mating mind: How sexual choice shaped the evolution of human nature. Random House Digital, Inc. Retrieved from
Mead, G. H. (1967). Mind, self, and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist (Vol. 1). The University of Chicago Press. (It is only the vocal gesture that is fitted for this fort of communication, because it is only the vocal gesture to which one responds or tends to respond as another person tends to respond to it. p 67)
Peirce, C. S. (1894). What is a sign? Theorizing communication: readings across traditions, 177. Retrieved from
Savage-Rumbaugh, E. S., & Lewin, R. (1994). Kanzi: The ape at the brink of the human mind. Wiley. Retrieved from;US9533108
Soon, C. S., Brass, M., Heinze, H. J., & Haynes, J. D. (2008). Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain. Nature neuroscience, 11(5), 543-545.

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June 20, 2012

Loughner and Differance

The tragedy that i believe Jared Loughner caused was and remains abhorrent. I am not a doctor but from all accounts, and my impression of his videos, his face and above all his actions, I believe him to be insane.

However, it seems to me that Jared Loughner’s use of the analogy between gold-standard and fiat currencies, and language may be useful for explaining Derrida’s term "differance".

Derrida is well known for being particularly obscure and perhaps even more so than Loughner.

Derrida criticises the Western philosophy of the sign, which in Saussure for instance, consists of signifier and signified, the latter being an idea.

The Saussurian model is fairly straightforward. I have an idea. I choose an appropriate signifier, such as the word “choose,” and I write it here. You then read my word choose and somehow replicate or at least understand the idea that I wanted to express.

Derrida claimed that this duality of the sign is merely a belief. Despite being one of the most radical critics of Western dualism, Derrida seemed to intimate that it may be an essential belief. He insists that nevertheless dualism does not conform to the reality of the situation. So rather than simply claiming that the world is not dual, that there is no other realm of ideas, of “signifieds” (Saussure) or irreels, (Husserl), that there are no transcendental entities, nor Platonic forms, Derrida rather attempts to explain how the belief in these entities came about, and how in Western philosophy the belief in their existence is maintained.

At the same time Derrida does to an extent present a new model of the sign. In place of the idea, Derrida argued I think that signification is always a standing in place of something else. Signs are essentially iterable - they can be repeated. And they can by repeated in other words, perhaps as other things. Signs function because they can be exchanged for other signs (and perhaps images, memories). Thus rather than there being a “difference” between the signifier and the ideal signified, there is a “differal” or “differance,” a predicted chain of one thing standing-for something else standing for something else.

I don’t know if I have understood Derrida at all correctly but this latter notion of “differance” seemed particularly opaque.

However, it seems to me that Loughner’s analogy between fiat currency and language presents a simple way of explaining the “differance” that Derrida espouses. Loughner seemed to express disappointment that there was no gold standard for language, nothing upon which words are based.

Herein lies the analogy. Economists point out that we suffer from a money illusion, presuming that currency has an intrinsic value, but in fact fiat currencies do not have an intrinsic value but gain their value from an anticipated exchange value, or purchasing power. Similarly, we tend to believe that our words gain their meaning and value by being pegged to ideas, in the treasury of the mind (and if shared, “the mind of god”) but in fact our language is a fiat language backed up only by the expectation of future exchanges . It is not something different, a gold standard, an irreel standard, an idea, but differance, an anticipation of exchange that gives both our words, and our currency value.

I am not sure how to cite Loughner, or even whether I should. However, if this is the sort of analogy he was attempting to make then I find it a persuasive and explicative one.

There reason why Derrida tends to come out in favour of dualism even as he deconstructs it may be because he recognises himself as part of the system. In "Voice and Phenomena" he argues that the prime motivation for believing in dualism and the idea, is that one of these ideas, that one might debunk, is the one corresponding to "I" when spoken to oneself: oneself.

Should anyone object to the above please let me know.

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June 11, 2012

Deconstruction made simple

Derrida's "deconstruction," and Derrida himself have been called many things: charlatan, unscientific, dishonest etc. but it seemed to me that he was attempting to be honest. It took me a long while to gain even a unclear understanding of what he had to say. Here is my take: a potted Derrida made simple.

SKIP THIS ALL THIS*****************************************************
Before my "potted Derrida made simple", here is my road to my appreciation of Derrida. I started reading philosophy with Nietzsche when I was young, when I was 14 and I had read everything he wrote by the time I was about 21. Nietzsche is difficult to understand too. He seems to rant. He seems to have had a very big ego. He quotes all sorts of things that I have not read, so a lot of the time I could not understand what he was on about. But at the same time I thought "Nietzsche is great!" His greatness for me was in his iconoclasm, "How to philosophize with a hammer." I am not sure that I buy into any of the any new things, new inventions, that Nietzsche said: "The will to power (the primary motive for human action is the desire for power)" "The eternal return (what we do now will be repeated over and over again, so take care to act in a way that you want to be repeated)" But the great thing about Nietzsche for me is that he said that pretty much all prior philosophy is bullshit. I had not read Plato or Kant at the time. But Nietzsche's assertion that any idealism, any philosopher who posits another world is a bullshitter, seemed very appealing. A lot of the time Nietzsche was criticising Plato. I thought, as I read Nietzsche, that modern philosophers would be more sensible, less hocus pocus. I thought that modern, non-religious, down-to-earth, sceptical, scientific philosophers, would not posit the existence of "ideas" "forms," "the thing in itself," or any strange other world, metaphysical world. Nietzsche was good at deriding such stuff. But then, I went to university and studied philosophy and found that the things that Nietzsche poked fun of, derided, made silly, were alive and well. Even in the late 10th century, people, philosophers, still believed in the metaphysical! Philosophers still seemed to believe in ghosts.

There is one argument of Nietzsche that sticks in my mind. It is the one that I think Hitler may have quoted (this aside is a temper-tester!). That humans are 'planetary bacillus'. I call this the argument from humility. We are only a few steps up the evolutionary chain from earth worms, or even bananas, so it seems to me, that we should not know anything about anything for sure. Our knowledge should be, is, radically impaired. Anyone attempting to posit a truth that we can know, anyone claiming to have found a philosophers stone, a rock, a surety, must be wrong, because we humans are so radically insignificant: we are bacillus. The philosophers conclusion should always be "we do not know." Socrates philosophy (prior to Plato's version) just has to be the best we can do. If we find anything that we think we can know, for sure, then we should realise that we are mistaken. Because we are earth worms, bacillus. Because we are an evolutionary blip on a cosmic speck of dust. We do not know anything. There is nothing that we can be sure of. There is no "but this we can not deny." No way. No way hose' !

Being humble then, and reading Western philosophers, it seems that they all attempting to say that they are not earth-worms, to say that they 'know something for sure', that they have found that philosophers' stone. My reaction, having read Nietzsche is, was, "what a bunch of bullshitters".

I am not sure if I read this in Nietzche or Derrida or Foucault or not, but it seems to me that most of what philosophers have to say, have to spout bullshit about, depends upon the "The cogito" and "the liar paradox". Thee latter first, if one claims that one is an earth worm, if one claims that one (me) does no know anything then some bullshitters respond, "then this assertion that you are making is also something you don't know, therefore it is incorrect, it is wrong, we must know something." What dosh. What a silly trick. What crass, dull, argumentation. But that crassness, that joke, that school children's trick seems to be the basis of Western philosophy!

Anyway, I went to study philosophy in an undergraduate course. I did not want to find a stone, or anything sure, but I was very interested questions such as

Now that we can be sure we know very little at all, what difference does this make to the way that we live? Now that we have thrown off our hocus pocus mentality, what changes can we expect of our society? I guess I was interested in ethics in a post bullshit, post-modern world. Alas, this was not the topic of my philosophy lectures.

I was also interested in the question "How did we come to believe in hocus pocus" (metaphysics, ideas, another world, truth, ideas)? Alas the college at which I studied philosophy did not attempt to answer these questions but Derrida does. Incipit Derrida.

Derrida looks at Western philosophy from the point of view of rhetorician. He too (though not quite) seems to be cynical about the balderdash that Western philosophers speak and as a non-beliver in bullshit, he attempts to demonstrate the ways in which Western philosophers spin their web of bullshit.

He is so right. He says that at base all western philosophers want to protect a certain experience and a certain notion. He calls this experience "listening to oneself speak" and the notion "presence."

I.e. when we speak to ourselves, we like to believe that we creating signs that are accompanied with ideas. In my mind, I call to mind sounds such as "I" or "I think," and this signs are purported to be accompanied by ideas corresponding to the sounds that I am (silently) creating or recalling.

Another aside
I am not sure how to express the nature of self-speech. We all do it. What are these words in our mind? I can sort of hear them. Obviously they are silent. Are they recollections of words that we have spoken to others? Experiments by Vitgotsky suggest that they are more productive, that is to say that rather than recalling, we are creating these "sounds" silently. Vitgosky found that people whose tongues are held still are worse at math(s). In other words, when we think "silently" we are in fact making noises every so quietly. We are speaking and the lowest possible level such that our vocal cords hardly move at all. Other experiments investigating those, schizophrenics that hear voices, find that when they hear voices, their vocal cords are moving a little. In other words, self speech is not recalling speech but speaking in a radically quiet voice. The same parts of our brain, the same effort, the same act, is taking place but without the sonic production.

Derrida is the guy that questioned, that saw as problematic, the act of self speech. More than that, he described (I think) the act of self speech as akin to masturbation.

We normally think that thinking is thinking! We normally think that our self-speech is something that we do in order to process, to increase our processing power, to understand. But is this the reason why we make this silent speeches to ourselves?

Most importantly, to cut to the chase, to Derrida's conclusion speech is surely about communication. And communication suggests, implies, a distance, a transferral of information. Why do we speak to ourselves, why do we engage in a sort of communication when there is nothing to communicate? Why do I speak to myself when I know everything that I have to say. What can I convey to myself? Anything I say is something that I should know already.

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May 29, 2012

The Purloined Letter from Dupin to the Queen

I had not read Poe's Purloined Letter. Now I have. It is very short. Things I thought strange about it...

They appear to be sitting in the dark. After the theft of the letter the whole story seems to take place in the dark, the conversations, the police search, until Dupin meets D__ pretending to be in the dark with his dark green glasses. The second time the three (Dupin, policeman, narrator) meet it is in similar circumstances (in the dark again?). But we are told the narrator can see the policeman's eyes.

The queen and king never seem to be mentioned. I had presumed their existence due to having read Lacan but they are only insinuated. In a story about hiding things in plain view, it seems as if the identity of the queen and king is, in a sense, hidden in plain view. We are invited to think that the policeman is talking about the queen and king but this does not appear to be stated. They are an "exalted personage," a "certain royal personage," in a/the "royal boudoir." In the last lines even Dupin refers to the presumed "queen" as the person termed "a certain personage." Normally I would think that not mentioning the queen and king by name were just "diplomacy," but who knows? This story has been analysed by everyone and his dog, so perhaps it has a deeper meaning.

Who is the unnamed narrator? Do we know from the other two stories in the trilogy that the unnamed narrator is not the King? Could Dupin be "the king"?! He has been done an evil turn by the minister. Who is the "queen's" lover? The "queens" lover remains pretty much a mystery. Perhaps from the family S? Could he have been any of the other protagonists? Could Dupin be the queens lover? If so, it is likely that he did not give the original letter to the policeman.

What of the narrators statement that he knows two brothers, both good in letters, and the minister good at maths not poetry (which Dupin admits to doing - doggerel - and to having an "MS" manuscript?). It is though (hidden in plain view) the narrator is telling us that the Minister has a brother who is good at poetry. Is Dupin the Minister's brother? Dupin responds by saying that the minister is both a mathematician and a poet, as if asserting that he and the minister and one and the same.

The back story of the story is too difficult for me! But other critics do not seem to mention the back story. The evil in Vienna, the two brothers, the "partisan" nature of Dupin's relationship with the queen.

There are many repetitions in the story, so it is not surprising that people attempt structural interpretations.

The "queen" has a secret, meant for herself, which would loose her position, which she allows to be stolen.
The policeman arrives at Dupin's dark library with a secret which he says would loose his position but he tells it immediately.
Dupin may have a secret, or a riddle. We find out at the end that he is an enemy of the Minister, or has been done "an evil turn" by the minister "in Vienna". He has left a riddle which for reasons I can't understand, may give a hint of his own identity.

1) The "queen" hides a letter in plain view, to be stolen by the minister D__ to be replaced by one of his own, in view of the "King."
2) The minister D__ hides a letter in plain view to the stolen and replaced by Dupin with "facsimile" with different contents. The contents are a little like a signature to hint that it was He Dupin that stole the letter for the second time. No one is watching but we are told that there is a "mad man" present out in the street, that both Dupin and D watch. (Compared to scene 1 Minister D = Queen, Dupin = Minister D, Mad man = King)
3) Dupin has the letter in a writing desk, and gives to the policeman to be replaced with a cheque which the policeman has signed, in view of the first person. (Compared to Scene two, First person = King, Dupin = Queen, Policeman = Minister D)

Despite Lacan's failure to mention the third scene, or rather choosing a third scene when the police fail to find the letter, the structural similarity of the first and third scenes appear to be greater that between first and since there are only two people present at the second scene - Dupin and the Minister D. There is a mad man and his gun but he can not see into the room where Dupin is doing the stealing.

Dupin first criticises the Parisian police for their "Procrustean bed" (I had to look that up) of always applying the same maxims, and Dupin criticises mathematicians for applying their principles to the world, and then almost immediately says, "The material world," continued Dupin, "abounds with very strict analogies to the immaterial," and goes to apply his own maxim, introduced at the beginning of the story.

Perhaps his own maxim is better than theirs, or perhaps, as Lacan suggests Dupin too has become a victim, fooled in some way, after he has possession of the letter.

The little story about the game of odd and even, and imitating the face of the person you are playing in order to feel what they are thinking good advice and analysed by Lacan elsewhere. I think that Lacan suggests it provides a key to understanding the story (as if the story needs another understanding!). The clever school boy copies expressions of others and predicts their behaviour. The preforms a sort of symbolic mimicry (if facial gestures are symbols too) in order to understand what an other thinks. Dupin overtly links the school boy (who may have been himself) to his own method of detection. As all great detectives do -- this story is repeated in many other subsequent detective stories -- Dupin performs"an identification of the reasoner's intellect with that of his opponent."

This is the thing that he says the Police can't do. They just apply their maxims. But then as noted, as soon as Dupin gets to the Minister's room, instead of copying the Minister he first looks in the writing cabinet (where Dupin subsequently hides the letter in his own apartment) and then applies his own maxim "hidden in plain sight" maxim. It works. Hmm....How about copying the Minister's "ennui?" (Is this a bad book or one with a hidden meaning!?)

Lacan seems to claim that the schoolboy's face copying is related to the copying of the letter that gets moved around. The Minister, Dupin, and perhaps in a sense the policeman make a copy of the letter, for which they exchange the real letter. Making a copy enables the Minister and Dupin to get the letter, like the boy's copying of faces enables him to understand his opponents' heart.

Derrida manages to relate this letter copying to the way in which we copy the words of others in our minds and then presume to have the meaning, the idea, of the original sender.

I would like to know more though about the background characters and events: the narrator, the "queen and king," the minister's brother, the evil turn that Minister did Dupin in Vienna, the person who sent the letter in the first place (family S? or is that of the presumed female fan that the minister has concocted?).

Dupin and D the same? Brothers? The effectiveness of his maxim application would be explained if Dupin were the double of Minister D. They are both active in the dark too.

What of the seal made of bread? What happened in Vienna? Who is the ministers brother???

The way in which the policeman leaves the room reminds me of the way in which Lacan's prisoner leaves the room, in his prisoner game. I think that the seminar in which he analyses the game may be the same as that in which he analyses the school boy's technique of facial mimicry in the same story.

I tried to reread Lacan's essay but find it too opaque. I don't think that Poe had some secret message but that Lacan is psychoanalysing Poe, and the detective genre. However at the same time, Poe was a cryptographer and may have liked to build structures into his works.

Lacan mentions only two scenes, the theft of the letter by the Minister and by Dupin. But there is a third when Dupin hands the letter to the Policeman.

Gets letter loses letter letter replaced by watches
sees nought
1 Minister Queen to queen from X similar, from or to minister King
2 Dupin Minister to minister from self to minister from Dupin Madman/Police
3 Policeman Dupin to ? from X to Dupin from Police Narrator

I can't help thinking that the Narrator should not have been able to understand something in the final scene. The only thing I can think of is that when the policeman gets the letter, replacing it with a cheque, he reads something in the letter that makes him realise what is going on, whereas the Narrator and the audience remain unclear to what is happening.

I suggest that Dupin is the queens lover.

We are told that he due his "politics" Dupin "acts as a partisan of the lady concerned". I.e. Dupin says that it is well known that he is a support of the queen. Is he only a supporter?

Furthermore we are told that the minister recognises the handwriting on the address of the letter he steals from the queen. When Dupin includes the cryptic piece of french prose which he did not himself write, he says "He [the minister] is well acquainted with my MS" where presumably "MS" stands for manuscript. How would an acquaintance of Dupin's "Manuscript" allow the Minister to ascertain that the letter from? Presumably from the handwriting. And we are told that the Minster recognised the letter that the "queen" had received from the handwriting. Had Dupin said "He [the minister] is well acquainted with my handwriting" it would have rather given the game away, hence the use of the rather ungainly "my MS."

Finally, we are told that the letter is now worth a lot of money. That there is a very large reward. At least one other critic has suggested that the 50,000 francs that Dupin receives is "a fraction" of the reward money. Why does Dupin sell the letter so cheaply? Why not claim the reward himself? If the letter were his own then presumably he would receive no reward from his lover the queen. But then in a previous story in the trilogy, Dupin has showed that he is not interested in money. Perhaps he just wants the letter to be destroyed, or that which is equivalent, to get to its destination.

It is also possible, to make the structure more regular, that the letter that Minister leaves in place of the one he steals may be from himself to the Queen (though it is rather unlikely that he reads his own letter, perhaps).

Gets letter loses letter letter replaced by watches
1 Minister Queen to queen from Dupin to Queen from minister King
2 Dupin Minister to minister from self to minister from Dupin Madman
3 Policeman Dupin to queen from self to Dupin from Policeman Narrator

The letter that Dupin steals back from the Minister, if originally written by him, and already open and read by the queen, does not really have a destination any more. Its destiny is to be destroyed. If it was originally penned by Dupin then he grabs it to save his secret being outed, more than anything.

Gets letter loses letter letter replaced by watches
1 Minister Queen to queen from Dupin to Queen from minister King
2 Dupin Minister to minister from self to minister from Dupin Madman
3 Policeman Dupin to self from self to Dupin from Policeman Narrator

The letter has become increasingly self-addressed.

I can't help thinking that the "King" "Madman" and "Narrator" might even be the same person! The narrator remains unaware throughout. But, in the second scene the Narrator would have to be mad to have forgotten that he was employed to fire a gun!

If the letter were originally from Dupin, then the policeman should have been more surprised when he eventually received the letter. IF the letter were originally from Dupin then one would expect a pause from the Policeman after he reads the letter and runs for the door. But the pause, of "some minutes" is before he signs the cheque. Perhaps we give the policemen less credit than he deserves.

Doesn't the policeman think, when Dupin offers to sell him the letter, "How come this guy has found the letter so easily, and clearly already has it in his possession?", "How come he is going to sell me the letter for so little?" It might have occurred to the policeman, who structurally is the position of the gaze that sees (he is in third scene the person who gets the letter, 'who gets it' who unravels the plot), that the reason why Dupin found the letter already, and will sell it for so little is because, after a pause, "Streuth, this guy sent the letter in the first place."

Returning to Lacan, to what extent can the structure of the story be related to the structure of the lacanian psyche. Lacan stresses that the persona represent different types of gaze. He also picks up on their use of symbols. Are there any characters that are more symbolic than others, more visual than others?

In the first scene the queen can see but is dumb. She can read but not say anything.
The minister can see the queen, the letter and the king and understand and act by using symbols, stealing one letter and replacing it with another. He is not seen by the king but seen by the queen. The king sees but does not understand. He does not do anything or use symbols.

Dupin in the second scene can seen but at least his eyes can not be seen (very much like myself). He also uses symbols (at least the second time he is there) again steeling a lttter are replacing it with another. The minister can been. They both can watch the mad man. The mad man uses a gun but sees nothing, understands nothing.

Dupin in the third scene may be sitting in the dark. The policeman's eyes can be seen. The policeman uses symbols to address a check.

It would be interesting to write a story about characters than can use symbols and not see, or see and not use symbols.

When Lacan says that we need both the imaginary and the symbolic to construct reality (Borromean knot), I have here to fore understood him to mean that a unity which is the self needs the incomplete feedback loops of sight and language to represent himself using the metaphore of a three or two card monte.

But perhaps there is a sense in which language can speak only vision and vision can see only language. I.e. these faculaties or modalities are each only able to see the other but not themseles (as in Lacan's prisioner game). If I were made up of two faculties each of which could only see the other this would explain, more neatly, why both modalities are required for self perception, or the feelng of self perception (and it would be very mebius strip like too).

Can sight see sight, can sight see language?
My sight can not see its eye unless that be determined as the whole of the screen itself. Even if it were the screen, the screen itself is generally speaking felt to be invisible. This may contradict some of what I have claimed about Japanese culture but, generally speaking, the screen, the visual field itself, the "mirror" itself, can not be seen only the contents.
Body can be seen mirrors, but that is not the seeing subject itself.
It might be argued that sight can only see symbols of self (is body self, or a symbol for sel?f), or that sight can only see self via language since any image of my body I have is always in a ground or context and always requires language to remove it from that ground or context. Sight can also see language as writing. Or if the imaginary might be widened to include sounds, phonemes, phonemes in mind then it might be able to say that in a sense we imagine language.

Can language mean sight, can language mean language?
I am not sure what it is to mean! Lacan claims that it can only mean another signifier. I am not sure if that means that language can only refer to language because language might be argued to be the (ghostly) world of the signified. On the other hand, nominalism such as that Derrida criticises in Rousseau who quotes Aristotle I think, seems to suggest that language (especially phonemes) name sights. "This is red." "This is a cat." Do I as language refer to myself as language or refer to myself in the world? It could be argued that when I refer to I or Timothy I always refer to something that can be seen and can not name my source of language. When I say I what am I refering to?
Taking a step back again, what does is the symbolic equivalent of "sight not being able to see itself"? Symbols can not symbolise themselves? Or I can not speak myself. Westerners generally assume, I think, that we can speak ourselves, but this, as the "contradition" I point out above (that Japanese may feel that they see themselves, or see "the mirror"), may be at the very least culturally relative, and possibly a delusion. Can I speak myself? This question has already been considered by Beneviste's critique of the ‘subject of utterance’ or enunciator and the enunciated. I think that he pointed out that they were not necessarily the same, in the cogito, and not that they were necessarily different. Derrida, in this critique of Husserl however, points out (as I have waffled about too, here) that language existing as it does in time will always move on from the point of starting speech, such that I am I, or I know me, or any statement about self (or indeed the world) will not be able to take place at a temporal singularity so, perhaps it could be argued, the subject of utterance (whatever that may be - there is no mouth in my head but.... something is making these noises) is never, can never, enunciate itself.

Is there a parallelism here to do with both vision/the imaginary and language being....I would like to say "extended" but Descartes reserves this phrase for the visual imaginary... not-singularities?...extended

I am really getting into this idea though: that I am made up of two faculties that can each see itself only via the other. It might even make sense of Poe and Lacan's knots and strips. Like an invisible ghost that can see a blind man that can only speak of ghosts? This reminds me of "The Sixth Sense" and all those imaginary friends I wrote about on

Beneviste is online and I am reading him.

The ending of Lacan's essay suggests that Dupin was duping us. Perhaps Lacan is saying the same thing as me? Who knows.

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The Horor of the Other, of self-speech and the autoscopic gaze

"they pray to images, much as if they were talking to temple edifices, for they do not know what gods
and heroes are." Heraclitus

What is the most grotesque thing that you can think of?

Today in a online news outlet regarding Japan there was a news story about a gentleman that had his genitalia surgically removed and then cooked them and sold them to people who were prepared to pay. I was not particularly disgusted, and any disgust I felt I feel ashamed of. The gentleman in question is free to do as he pleases in accordance with the law. Most of those commenting on the news article did feel disgust. There are some things, such as cannibalism, that many people seem to find disgusting.

My experience of the structure of my self was considerably more disgusting to me.

I do not get embarrassed easily. I do not feel ashamed easily at all. But my experience of the breakdown of my self, was so disgusting that I have found it difficult to recount. I also think that if I recount my experience of myself, I will alienate any audience that might conceivably be listening, or reading. At the same time, I think that it is important to share that experience with people. Perhaps this is some kind of self-therapy attempt. I don't think that I am altruist.

But, whatever my motives, I do want to be honest. I wish to confess, admit, and share the fact that, whether I like it or not, I am someone that, well, went mad once and experienced something about my self. I do not mean "myself" so much as "my self." I went mad and saw a certain self structure that I found really disgusting. You can read about it in a blog post or two, or see a video of me attempting to explain it. I don't think that my own experience of my self's structure is applicable to many other people. I am not sure. It does not need to be identical. I suggest that the grotesquely horrible queasiness of the self only this part is common.

I experienced a sort of crumbling, a division of parts that I normally felt, feel, as a whole. Normally I feel that I am me, and only me, and that I have no parts. But in that mad experience it seemed that I was more than one person. I felt as though I was three people. I became or realised I was a real giant me, and two roles that real me was playing: a listening me, and a speaking me. There was also a sense of loss, so perhaps there was a fourth part to the structure too.

Why was it disgusting?

I felt that I was engaging in homo-erotic, incestual, self love: that I was, my self was, is at its essence, a homo-erotic incestualism. I was (and am) in love with mother as simulated in my mind, and having a romantic, or even sexual, relationship with her. I was creating a woman within myself and in a sense, continually, chatting her up. I was making myself female. I was feminising myself for the purpose of this auto-erotic intra-cranial incestual fantasy. And the worst part is that I think that I continue to do this to this day. I continued then, and I continue now. I am engaging in a homo-auto-incestual fantasy. And this, it seems to me, is why I have a self at all. I can not think of anything more disgusting.

There are many theories as to the origin of the self.

Mead presents one of the best most sober, renditions.

In order to have a self we need to see ourselves from an objective point of view. In order to see oneself from an objective point of view, one needs to internalise the viewpoints of others (plural). In order to have a self, an independent self perhaps, one needs to create within oneself a "Generalised other," the perspective of oneself as it were, from no-where. How is this possible. Mead's sober Anglo Saxon explanation is mathematical or logical. The more views that one has of oneself the more one understands oneself. And by combining these views one can achieve objective self-hood, from the viewpoint of *not* one's mother, *not* ones father, but from a sort of mathematically, logically, systematically amalgamated general view point. How is this possible? Mead does not say. It sounds reasonable. But it is difficult to conceive of.

Freud is more vague. He also has a sort of generalised other in the form of the "super ego". Freud has written a lot and I do not pretend to have read everything he has written but in one rendition of the origin of the super ego (though he does not use that phrase in the paper in question) he suggest a historical event: that an alpha-male, woman monopolising primal father was killed by brothers who internalised the father figure that they had killed, and felt so guilty about that murder that they repressed it. In this rendition there is the horror, the shame or guilt, but towards a concrete act. That slaying of the primal father seems unlikely.

Bakhtin does not explain the origin of his super addressee. He just says that we always presume the presence of another addressee of our language. He suggests that this super addressee is a presumed God.

Lacan wavers. On the one had his "Other" seems to be language itself, a sort of neo Kantian (these days championed by Chomsky and Pinker) static, systematic, non-persona-ised version of the "generalised other". By non-persona-ized, I mean that the other from which we see the self is (under a non persona-alised, non personalised account) something that is not a simulated human. It, the other of our self speech, is rather a system, a structure, something that is not seen as a person. I think that his view is probably very popular among many theorists, or anyone with a scientific outlook. This generalised-other-as-system view does not require anything grotesque. If we understand ourselves from a generalised point of view then it is because we understand language. Language is our other, not a person at all. How nice, how clean and un-queasy that would be if it were the case.

There is another side to Lacan and Derrida, that however, does suggest a more personalised, or animistic view of the Other/super-adressee/generalised other. I would like to draw readers attention to two texts. Lacan's interpretation of an Edgar Allen Poe story, and Derrida's "The Postcard." Both of these texts are extremely opaque. These thinkers are never very clear but in these two texts, which they seem to address to each other, (even as they address themselves) there are aspects which I reverberate with my own (anomalous perhaps) crumbling of self.

Derrida's book "The Postcard," includes an collection of postcards, a long series of them, all written by the same author, Derrida, to an unknown recipient, a lover. After the postcards, there is an essay of massive opaqueness regarding Lacan's interpretation of Edgar Allen Poe.

Why is it that these too famous thinkers, wrote such horribly difficult to understand texts? I think that they were ashamed of what they were writing about. I think that they had a similar (though different) experience to me. And they, as academics, with position in society, could not share the facts of what they were writing about in a straightforward way. Not that that was the only reason. It was one of the reasons. The facts of the self are so abhorrent, so disgusting, so queasy, that even philosophers of the self are unable to say them in a more straight forward way.

I understand Lacan's text perhaps far less than Derrida. I may not understand Derrida at all. But it seemed to me that Derrida's postcards, addressed to a lover, were self-addressed. Derrida is famous for his instance that the phoneme is no different from the letter.

We all engage in self-speech. We all talk to ourselves. Derrida emphasises that talking to oneself is always in time. We can not talk to oneself instantaneously. The time it takes to say, think, or recall phonemes in self-speech, is. It takes time. There is nothing special about the phoneme. It is more ephemeral. But there is no digital distance, no dualism, no radical shift, between speaking to oneself and sending oneself postcards. Derrida writes these postcards about a picture of Plato and Socrates to himself, addressing himself as his own lover. He Derrida, is in love with Derrida in the future, the time that it take for a postcard to reach its destination. And he suggests that this self-correspondence is auto-erotic, and homosexual. Of course it is homosexual because there is only Derrida there. Only one guy. Only one recipient. But in time they split themselves and love each other, homo-erotically. Derrida makes jokes about the homo erotic aspect of the pictorial side of the postcard he is sending. His message for me is, as he said elsewhere that the self speech that we do is basically pretty grotesque, a homo erotic, intra-psychic (i.e. within ones own head) masturbation.

Lacan's reading of Poe is even more opaque. You might think that as someone who believed in the importance of the internalisation of language would be especially clear when recounting the way in which this occurs and the effect that it is has. But in this most important of points, this most important of things that need to be explained, Lacan is as confusing as he ever gets. Even so, Lacan too mentions that "the letter," feminises the person that has purloined it. For my money (of course I am biased) the purloiner purloins a letter that is addressed to a "Queen," and makes a Queen of himself. The purloiner, like Derrida's postcard sender, keeps a letter that should have been addressed to a queen. In a sense perhaps, he readdresses the letter to himself. He sends to himself a letter that should have been written to a woman, and in so doing womanises himself.

I am not a French dude. I don't try to speak in riddles.

It seems to me that self-speech, is not just to ourselves. There is as Bakhtin, Mead, Freud, and perhaps Lacan, there is a presumed, simulated other, other than oneself. As Hermans and Kempen point out we can and do simulate the ears of many others, of our friends, of people we envisage speaking to. But for there to be a "generalised" and or "super" other, an "Other" (with a capital) we need to speak to someone that at the same time we hide. I reject the nice, clean, logical, Kantian, Pinkerian, other-as-system. I think that Bakhtin and Wittgenstein are right to say that language is always discursive, it takes place in a presumed at least, dialogue, a game.

But at the same time we do have a super-ego, we do have a capitalised Other, we do have a super-addressee. This is possible because we repress the simulated capitalised Other, super-addressee. We are able repress this other, or continue to repress this other, because it is so queasy, so horribly, horribly queasy, or just plain horrible.

If so then perhaps this may explain why the Japanese, who may have internalised a co-gaze (Kitayama, 2005) or a mirror in the head, read and watch narratives and cinema in the horror genre which seems to feature monstrous women getting out of images, TV sets (Ringu), mirrors (Juuon, Mirrors), photo developer (Juuon), Lanterns (Oiwasan), and scrolls (Izakaya Yurei). I suggest that these represent the horror that keeps the gaze of the Japanese Other, hidden, generalised, capitalised, in place.

Derrida, J. (1987). The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. (A. Bass, Trans.) (First ed.). University Of Chicago Press.
Freud, S. (1913). Totem and taboo. (A. A. Brill, Trans.). New York: Moffat, Yard and Company. Retrieved from
Hermans, H. J. M., & Kempen, H. J. G. (1993). The dialogical self: Meaning as movement. Academic Press.
Kitayama, O. 北山修. (2005). 共視論. 講談社.
Lacan, J., & Mehlman, J. (1972). Seminar on‘ The Purloined Letter’. Yale French Studies, (48), 39–72.
Lacan, J. (2007). Ecrits: The First Complete Edition in English. (B. Fink, Trans.) (1st ed.). W W Norton & Co Inc.
Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. (V. W. McGee, Trans.) (Second Printing.). University of Texas Press.
Mead, G. H. (1967). Mind, self, and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist (Vol. 1). The University of Chicago Press.

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May 02, 2012

Mary is a in a story, not a room

Mary's problem (Jackson, 1982) is not that she is in a physical room isolated from the world of experience, but that "Mary" is a part of a thought experiment, a word, or what a word expresses, and she lives in a story. Mary knows all and only the words about colour. Her question her story poses is how can anyone 'know' (note that know is a word) something that is not a word. If people can't know things that are not words, then they can't know them irrespective of whether they are in a room or not.

So do I mean to say that this is a language problem rather than a physicalist problem? Not really, they are the same problem. There 'is' nothing outside the text.

One can't argue with people who say that there is nothing outside the text. "What then?"they will ask, and they will take our silence as proof of their victory. I 'met' one on line once who wanted to to prove to me that there is nothing outside language. I became silent and I suppose he continued to believe he was right. I think perhaps conquering people into silence helps such people to maintain their belief in omnipresent omniscience of words.

Hellie, one of the commentators in the book about Jackson's essay says similar things.

Hellie suggests that (i) the “core idea behind the knowledge argument” is that “an expressible concept and an inexpressible concept cannot both denote the same entity” and infers that (ii) “the passage through knowledge is largely a detour” (Hellie 2004, p. 350).

I largely agree but I feel sorry for him. "Inexpressible concept" is pretty weird, and would come under the same kind of attack. "What is that then?" They may ask, as usual.

Furthermore, I think that that the interesting thing about Mary is that we are all Mary, we are all in her room. The colours we are not seeing, the ones that would enable us to know "what colours look like", are not visible to any of us. If we see anything at all then what ever it is, it is not colours. Colours are what we can agree on.

I think that the world is that impossible place 'outside' where we presume we are, or make the mistake that we are. In that world the expressible world and the inexpressible world meet. We go around thinking that unlike Mary we know what red looks like, but how could "red look like" anything? Strictly speaking the sentence is nonsense. A plane can look like a bird but red only looks like red, and neither the subject or predicate of that sentence are any different from each other.

Fortunately perhaps we do think that "expressible concepts" and "inexpressible concepts" "denote the same entity." Or rather we do believe in the meeting point of sound and vision, or the meeting point between the itterable and the extensive, which usually means between sound and vision.

Perhaps originally we do believe in the meeting of word and vision in people, but people are all rather ventriloquists.

Or drifting off into the world of Christian mysticism we believe that a sounds can come from vision because we believe one can put an apple in ones mouth, or body in ones mouth, and have it come again as a word.

I get the feeling that we are all in Mary's room, or that there is a Mary in our room. Is it purely a coincidence that a lot of men are getting worked up about a woman in room on her own with only people, or a person, to talk to about the world? Does she correspond to anything in their, our psyche?

Hellie, B. (2004). Inexpressible Truths and the Allure of the Knowledge Argument. There’s something about Mary: essays on phenomenal consciousness and Frank Jackson’s knowledge argument, 333.
Jackson, F. (1986). What Mary didn’t know. The Journal of Philosophy, 83(5), 291–295.

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January 26, 2012

Protecting Creativity or Symbolic Colonialism

President Obama recently spoke of protecting American goods, (AP, 2012) including from copyright theft overseas. The US has reason to be concerned. While Asia is often described as the factory of the world, north American companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Intel come up with many of the worlds most saleable ideas. North Americans, and Westerners in general, identify with their self-speech. Their bodies, and the material world in general, come in a poor second.

Making things is not something that Western culture has ever aspired to do. Making, or coining, ideas is however, something that Westerners strive to do well and are indeed very good at. Software, laws, logical architectures, theories, sales systems such as that of iTunes and MacDonald's are all made in the USA.

One of the problem with ideas is that they are easily copied. Not only that but other nations may have different attitudes to the copying "ideas". North Americans, identified as they are with their words, believe that words are free, unconstrained and unique. The symbolic field, the playground of the Western soul, is believed to be infinite, so each symbolic coinage is thought to be an act of creation.

More prosaic attitudes towards symbols see their world as a finite space with only so many permutations and combinations.

An examples of a finite symbolic space is that of domain names. The act of "inventing" a domain name and registering it is not necessarily creative. One might simply attempt to register all three letter domains and then sell them to the highest bidder. Westerners too are aware that coinages in the field of domain names are not so creative as to warrant full copyright protection and allow business with prior use of a letter sequence (e.g. the BBC) to recapture that domain name from any would be "domain name inventor." But what of other symbolic inventions? Examples of controversial patents include "1-Click Ordering" patented by Amazon. Is the ability to order a product using one click an invention, or is the attempt to patent merely a claim made upon an obvious permutation of a symbolic space, like an attempt to patent a domain name or word.

Attitudes towards patents of "intellectual property" or "symbolic inventions" will depend upon appraisal of the endeavour required to either "invent" or merely be the first to claim that set of symbols. Temporal priority is different to creativity and the extent to which each is involved is open to disagreement. To one person a patent may be an attempt to protect creative endeavour from subsequent theft, to another the same patent may appear to be a form of symbolic colonialism, akin to claiming "terra nullis" merely by setting foot upon it. Cultures may agree that simple priority -- being first -- is not enough unless it one is also creative at the same time but whether a particular creative act is seen as creative or merely going through the permutations in a finite field shows considerable cultural variability.

The Western view is partially clouded. Westerners see their "ideas," as being more ephemeral, and less merely the permutation of a finite set of symbols, than they really are and this logocentric bias is going to lead to conflict. I think that some nations, particularly the Chinese and Japanese, may also have a bias to see symbols are more limiting and finite than they really are but this only from experience. Either way, I am scared we are going to see copyright wars.

Associated Press. (2012) "APNewsBreak: Obama to Protect US Goods Globally." Downloaded from

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December 27, 2011

Rebus Dreams

Originally posted as a response to "A DREAM IS A REBUS:" A PRIMER OF DREAM-CONSTRUCTION

Lately I have had a dream or that was clearly a rebus. I dreamt of a tragic tie (in a competition) with the singer Bob Dylan.  

I am pretty sure that this "tragic draw with Bob", dream was about my draw (in a chest of draws) that contains money ("bob" in cockney slang), and probably also a pun on the Japanese "draw-bob" or "doro-bo(bu)" meaning thief. I have taken the hint and moved my money to a safer hiding place to avert, I hope, a tragedy.

But why the rebuses? Why didn't I just see my money being burgled with tragic consequence?

Perhaps Freud, already explained everything? The primary processes that make up dreams, being more primary, unconscious, and primitive are unable to say the straightforward story? Or perhaps there is something taboo in my story that requires that I use a non-straightforward, euphemistic mode of explanation?

It seems to me that both these "primitive" and "taboo" explanations do not quite work for me. Does Freud, have another explanation that I have missed for the way in which dreams are rebus-like rather than more direct?

Dreams are complex and "condensed" in a clever and economical way that does not seem "primitive." Perhaps I am as yet unaware of the tabooed part of my dream, but it says quite a lot of interest even without any further taboo-ed content (about which I will guess in the extended entry).

What seems to me be happening is that the dream is desperately trying to speak in words while not being able to use words, with nothing primitive other than being forced to speak in language that it can't speak. If dreams are "primitive" then Japanese are primitive for not being able to speak English or vice versa. 

The dream is as clever, sophisticated, advanced as the me that is writing here, but the dream is forced to use a rebus because its listener, me, forces it to use words.

If I had been shown the draw being burgled it would have straightforward, and shown the meaning of the dream, but it would have not said that meaning in words. The words would not have peeled off the images. It would have meant everything, but said nothing.
So faced with the primitive limitation of my linguistic mind (the ability only to think only in words) my dreaming mind seems to have jumped through hoops *to peel off some words* through no fault of its primitiveness nor of a taboo, but due to the challenged, limited, "primitive" nature of its linguistic audience.

It seems to me that the vertical hierarchy of "primary process" and "secondary process," or taboo and hidden, this one two, before and after, is itself hiding a more symmetrical relationship, and it is precisely the symmetry of the relationship, not any hierarchy, that creates the peculiar rebus mode of expression: the need for images, somethings-wordless, to speak, i.e. in words.

When people have their corpus callosum cut they cease to dream, and their corpus callosum is horizontal.

There are some rude words in the extended entry.

But then again, perhaps I am missing a level of meaning to my dream. I am not sure why the "tragedy" in my dream, was in fact, a woman dying after tying with Bob Dylan. 

Does this represent a 'transexual (woman)  bondage(tying) with a dildo or penis (Dylan)', i.e. repressed/taboo homosexual urges? Or being emasculatingly (woman) tied to a bobbed-Dylan, i.e. some sort of castration complex? Yes! Very possibly my dream means these things too. Very possibly indeed.

But even assuming so, I think that a dual mode (pictorial vs linguistic), and symmetrical (not verticle) understanding of the nature of the dream communication does more to explain its rebus-like-ness, than any primary/secondary hierarchy.

Even if my dream is about a dildo, castration, masochism, bondage, yada yada, I could dream straightforward dreams about these things too. But even if that is the content my dreams want to convey, it would not help to portray them directly if the crux of the dream is in the need to *speak in words with pictures*.

It seems to me that this symmetry implies a duality -- that I am two -- which is even more horrifying than the most x-rated dream. Perhaps all dreams add a bit of scary x-rated-ness along with what they want to say, to hide their origin, to hide the fact that someone else is along for the ride. The taboo is there to hide the duality, rather than or at least as much as the other way around.

Posted by timtak at 10:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 21, 2011

What became of the Mighty Sioux?

The Japanese are totemists, like a lot of people were once all over the world. I have emmigrated to Japan and my son is, culturally, Japanese.

What became of all the other totemists? What became of the mighty Sioux, nation of first Americans?

Europeans came and wiped them out.

I could write a disclaimer about this but, no one reads this blog anyway, much less members of the Sioux.

Who were the Sioux? Afaik they were one of the most populous, influential, powerful nations in North America. Alas the Wikipedia page about the Sioux is almost entirely about Sioux interactions with Europeans. Apart from noting that they controlled a large area of North America, and some ethnography regarding their political structure there is very little information about who the Sioux were. The Sioux still exist. But it is almost as if they never existed for us computer users, and Wikipedia readers. Perhaps the Sioux themselves do not give a rats arse about the fact that they do not appear on Wikipedia.

Is there ever going to be a Sioux revival? Does revival mean anything other than becoming Westernised? Does Westnerised mean anything other than 'advancing'? Is there only one form of (re)vival, 'advancement' the growth of, the spread of technology? Are there cultures in the plural? Is there a different path, are there paths plural? Is the notion of "path" with the inherent suggestion that their should be movement - a path, a geographic term, suggests movement- a culturally universalable notion?

Anyway, I live in Japan, once mighty Japan that now seems to have problems. I am sure that there were problems for a long time but...what will become of mighty Japan? What will become of my Japanese children? Will their success be measured in terms of the extent to which they conform, their culture conforms to some universal human, or some Western cultural, measure? Is there a Japanese path? What will become of, once?, mighty Japan?

Posted by timtak at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2011

How to Run 10k Fast without Going for Runs

Today I ran a 10K run at 44 minutes 10 seconds coming in 69th out of about 400 male runners, and 29th out of 250 in my 40-plus age group. I am feeling tired and chuffed.

I am 45 years old, 176cm (5 foot 9 inches) and 73kg (11 stone, 7lbs). That means that I have some flab round the middle and big thighs. I smoke about 7 cigarettes a day. I drink beer. So, my time was fast enough to surprise some thin "runners," and myself. It was my first running race in about 15 years. I have never been a particularly fast runner. I have only taken part in a race about 6 times before (a couple of half marathons, the other 4 races were 10k or so, mainly in my twenties). So how did I run so fast?

In brief
1) Train by cycling, not running. When cycling think spin, not push, and spin fast. 
2) Stretch a *lot* before the race, especially calf muscles.
3) Run a fast, slow, fast race, not an even paced one.
4) Get to know the course, even on a bike, before the race.
5) Use music - it has a powerful effect on performance.
6) Avoid using your will-power for the whole race by tagging onto other people, and going into auto-pilot.
7) Mimic the economical running style of club runners.
8) Get supporters to the track.

First of all, a disclaimer. The following is certainly not medical advice. Please take care not to die of a heart attack.

1) Train by cycling, not running. By "not training," I mean that I had not *run* hardly at all recently: maybe two 4km runs a month for the past few months. However, I have been cycling quite a lot (24km about 3 times a week).
 When my weight gets up above 70Kg, as it generally has been over the past 7 years, I find that running is hard. Running is hard on my knees above all, and also if I do not do a lot of stretching first (see below) hard on my calves and thighs. Running is not a sport I would recommend to those that want to keep in shape in their middle age (spread). Running, especially on roads, is hard on the body. Don't do it!

1.1) Having said that, I try to keep in shape so about 5 years ago I gradually took up cycling. The good thing about cycling is that ones butt and bulk is supported by the seat so all that bouncing up and down, often on roads, with the enevitable strain on sinews and joints is avoided. However, cycling trains the heart and whatever else is needed to run fast. It seems to me that I passed a lot of "runners," with their thin legs, economical strides, watching their watches, because they were all used to running and the damage that it does to people. They were used to improving their fitness using a very jolting method of excercise.

1.2) The first and main moral of my story is do NOT run to train for running. Cycle to train for running instead! Swimming may be good too. I think that that an excersice bike (especially a good one with a large weighted wheel, that allows one to enjoy the feeling of enertia as one gets up speed), is in theory as good as a real bike or better because you have less chance of falling of or being hit by a car. It is more boring though, because you do not go anywhere. An excercise bike in front of a TV with a video of good runners or cyclist may assuage the boredom.

1.3) So, train by cycling, on your excercise bike or on your real bike. I am lucky in that my main cycling course is 24km which takes me about 45 minutes (I am going at about 30 kmh, not a great speed at all for a cyclist). But, the point is, it is good to have a cyclying course, or an excercise bike regimine, that takes about the same amount of time as the time you are aiming for on your run. I cycle for 45 minutes. My run took 45 minutes. This was no coincidence; I knew that I could keep up the pace, the effort, for that amount of time.

1.3) The important thing when cycling is to keep your "cadence" (the number of turns of the pedal per minute) up. Aim for about 85 (more than 70, but 90 and above is a bit much). Novice cyclists, as I almost am myself, tend to use higher gears and pound on the downward thrust of the pedals. Get away from pounding down. The important word is "spin." Think about spinning your legs not pushing them. This is in a sense the same advice (do not run, cycle!) again, because if you are pushing as you cycle you might as well be running. You are tiring out your legs, your leg muscles. The important thing is to train the most important muscle, your heart. Get into a lower gear, one that is easy to spin, and spin and keep spinning, as fast as you can, for the 45 minutes (or whatever time you are aiming for on your run). Prove to yourself, that you can keep up that level of power output. Again by power I do not mean push, or strength, but the scientific meaning of power: energy output, and thus calouries burned. As soon as you feel your legs tiring, as soon as you feel your are pushing on the downward thrust, switch to a lower gear and spin spin spin. This excercise will excercise your heart and your ability to output that power in the running race.

After reading a couple of articles on running I see that cycling will train your hear and your leg muscles to cope with "lactate." Whatever. Train by spinning, not by pounding the ground.

2) Stretch a lot before the race, especially if you are not a runner. Running (that bad method of excercise!) results in a lot of jolts as you bring your legs down on roads. The strain on the sinews (and joints) when running is massive when you feet hit the road. I have pulled muscles in my calves and thighs when attempting to run fast when I am not fit and I have not stretched enough. However it seems to me that one can make up for all that lack of running training, by stretching like mad, like a yoga-doer (a yogi?), before the race. There is nothing difficult to this. I find it difficult to touch my toes. I don't bother.

2.1) Instead to stretch the most important calf muscles I lean up against a wall, at about 45 degrees "/" or much less, so that my legs are a long way from the wall and my feet are pointing forwards. Gradually get down as low as possible, so you are in a position like you are doing press-ups (no need to do press-ups of course) so that your legs are out way behind you but your feet are still pointing forward. Do it gradually. Try using one leg and then the other. Standing on a steep slope with your feel pointing up the slope is another way of stretching calf muscles.   

2.2) Stretch your thigh muscles by putting your legs up on a railing or the top of a wall and try and bend down toward your on-top-of-the wall leg.

2.3) Strech the muscles in your inner thigh by putting one leg out straight behind you (again with your foot pointing forwards), and the other in front of you with your knee bent at a right angle and then while keeping your torsoe upright, come down slowly so that you feel the muscle in your inner thigh stretch. 

2.4) Alternatively copy the stretch routine of a thin runner. All those runners will already have stretchy sinews. But there is no need to have them on any day other than the race day. Today, I only really stretched my calf sinews (gradually, but like hell) and that was enough.

3) Do not run an even pace. Experienced runners know that people tire so they watch their wrist watches and keep to a fairly level pace. Forget that. Think psychologically. Psychologically, humans are motivated to run at the start and the end of the race. There is nothing that anyone can do about this natural psychological motivation. Experienced "runners" think that they can beat their own excitement at the start and their excitement at the end, and run a rational race. But people are not rational.

3.1) Run fast at the beginning (not so that it hurts of course). I ran the first 1km in 4 minutes. And then try (but not too hard) to keep it up till half way. I ran 4 minutes 15 seconds, 4 minutes 25 seconds, slowing down toward the middle. Coast for a while in the middle of race and then when you can see the end, feel the end of the race, pick up the pace again. Unles you are really good at running, use psychology rather than mechanics to determine your speed.

3.1) Try to put in a spurt at about 800-400 metres from the end. Even the greatest racers (e.g. Keneisa Bekele) run really fast in the last part of the race. When running the greater part of the race you have to make sure that your oxygen intake is enough to see you through the next part of the race. When you near the tape you know that you can collapse at the end. Hell why not? So many runners in the race today did not collapse at the end. They were checking their watch, chatting with friends as soon as they cross the line. Why? Aim to end the race with a need to sit down, or lie down. (But do not die, my friends. Know your limits. Practice a final spurt spinning with your bike training).

4) Know the track. 10km is a long way, and if you don't know the terrain the finish line, the amount of distance that you have to go can become a unknown, and feel vast. I was very lucky today in that
4.1) Today's race happened to be alongside 2.5km of part of my usual biking course. 2.5km can seem like a long way, but I knew how far it was on my bike so each leg of the up, down, up down was a known distance to me. 
4.1) Today's race was on a very flat exposed area so that we could see where we were running to, and for the last 2.5km or so, we could see the place that we were aiming for. It was great. It was the ideal situation.
But if the run is through a town, or wooded area with turns, the race can seem interminable. The psychology of being able to see the end of the race, and how far you have to go, even if only in your minds eye, is very important so, if you are not running on an open stretch of ground, go through the track, in your car, on your bike, walking or ideally jogging (maybe!)

5) Use music. Drugs are illegal of course. But for some reason listening to music while you are running is not, on most fun runs at least, despite the fact that is well known tha music has an enourmous impact on how people feel. If the music is loudish, but not so loud it hurs your ears, it will drown out all your panting, your heart beat, the sound of the thud of your feet. You will run in the sublime world of music, not in the painful world of running.
5.1) Experiment with light mp3 players, inner ear, or ear-hanging headphones. Use a head band to keep the headphones in your ear. Experiment with place to keep the mp3 player. Put it in an armband, on a neckless or a breast pocket. 
5.2) Get good soothing music with beat. I find that "Snow Patrol" combines soothing-ness with a strong beat. I also listened to Cher's "Believe," and "500 Miles" by the Proclaimers. Get music that works for you. Figure out what music will be playing when.

6) Avoid using your will power to run for the whole race. The start and the finish you can do by your own will power, your own motivation, but for some parts in the middle of the race, learn now to run without using your will power. Will power also gets tired out, like legs, so I would not advise using it for the whole race. There are two ways of not relying on will power that I recomend
6.1) Let someone else drag you along. Find a runner or runners to run behind. Let them lead you along. Focus upon them and let them use their will power. I find it helps to tag onto various different types of runner depending on how you are feeling.
6.1.1) People that are running at the pace you want to keep to, when you are falling off that pace. Look at their back, their strides, mimic them. Try to use "drafting" (especially if it there is a headwind) and run in their slipstream.
6.1.2) Find someone that pinches your pride a bit, a older runner, a female if you are male (sorry ladies but on average men run faster), a "bad runner" (someone like you?) that uses a bouncy bouncy strde rather than that economic stride that experience runners use (more on this later).
6.2)  Learn how to draw into yourself and coast for those parts of the course that you will need to coast. Listen to your music more. Wear a cap with a peak that can be used to block out how far you have yet to go. Concentrate on the running rather than the goal. Go into a trance for a while when the going gets tough, and then, hopefully, come out of autopilot to sprint past those long grueling sloggers runners at the end.

7) Mimic experienced runner's style. I am not sure what runners do because I am not one, but looking at them they seem to do the following:
7.1) Use as shorter stride with higher "cadence" (paces per minute)
7.2) Do not bounce, or use high strides but keep your feet close to the ground. Concetrate on the forward, rather than upward, part of your stride, so that you are going as far forward as you can with each (fairly small, high cadence) stride.
7.3) Think about how you use your arms, economically, but with purpose to time your stride but not to wear yourself out.
7.4) Concentrate on breathing, particularly inwards. Breath more than you think you need to. As I said above I am smoke cigarettes (don't!) but the truth is that the limiting factor of human motion is the heart far more than the lungs. Your lungs, until you are a really good runner, do not limit yourself so much. Good club runners are not using the limit of their lung potential because it is not important to them. They can get enough oxygen in without harsh panting, because their limiting factor is how fast their heart can pump the oxygen around. You are not an experienced runner, and your heart needs all the help it can get, so concentrate (if you have spare will power) on a good inhale. There is no need to get a pain in the pancreas (in uk parlance "stitch") if you make a little bit of effort to inhale. 
8) Use supporters.
8.1) In most fun runs, there will be people cheering the runners on. Get out of yourself and your pain by thinking about how people you do not even know that are spending their Sunday morning clapping. Feel grateful. Let their encouragement motivate you.
8.2) If you can persuade a loved one-- a girlfriend, wife, or child-- to be waiting at the end, then it can be very motivating. It was for me. My wife and two young children were waiting at the finish line. I did not want to disappoint. Perhaps more than all the above, their presence allowed me to run faster than I expected. Thanks family!

I may never run as fast again. But, I enjoyed today. May you enjoy your fun run and, stay safe. 

Alternatively you can do tempo intervals, fartlek sessions, and or tempo runs.


Posted by timtak at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2011

The Meaning Maintenance Model

I may have blogged about the Meanging Maintenance Model before but here it is again.

Steven Heine is a leading cultural psychologist and professor at the University of British Columbia. In recent years he has branched out, or homed in, on the question of why people have culture in the first place.

His recent research concerns his "Meaning Maintenance Model" (MMM). MMM is in part an off-shoot of Terror Management Theory (TMT), a large area of research in social psychology, which focuses on the way that people react to thoughts of their own death. Thoughts of death, say TMT theorists, arouse in people a feeling of terror that they attempt to assuage, or "manage", by belief in "symbolic immortality". That is to say that when we are reminded of our death, we assuage our terror by attempting to believe that symbolically, our acts, values, importance, and culture are eternal. Heine takes this theory and turns it on its head, claiming, that it is not death that we are terrified of, but meaningless: situations in which we are unable to fit our experience into a meaningful framework, when we are unable to symbolise them.

While Steven Heine has aroused the ire of TMT theorists (eagre to maintain that it really is death that we fear), and represents a new paradigm in social psychology, the theory that humans essentially seek meaning, are homo-innuedus,  is not entirely new as Heine himself points out.

Vicktor E. Frankl wrote books entitled "The Will to Meaning" and "Man's Search for Meaning". There is at least one Neitzche aphorism along the same lines. Anthropologists too have proposed that the need-for-meaning is a fundamental cause of human behaviour. Sir James Frazer proposed that people believe in gods and the supernatural since such belief is preferable to not being able to provide a meangingful explanation for natural events. Edmund Leach, in Rethinking Anthropology and, in greather detail, Mary Douglas in Purity and Danger, explain the horror of things taboo, with particular reference to foods that are forbidden in the bible, as being directed towards those things that do not fit into cultural category systems. Crabs are bad, taboo, horrible, because they are sea animals that have legs (the definition of land animals) and Pigs are likewise since they are animals that have fingers like humans (who are not "animals"). Leach even argues that treakle and other glutinous substances arouse feelings of disgust because they are difficult to classify, as solids or as liquids. I have a friend who has a fear of custard.

Returning to death, it seems clear that at times people do not fear their own demise, such as in the case of "Kamikaze" (tokkoutai) pilots, suicide bombers and people that go into battle with little hope of surviving, since according to MMM, to them their actions are meaningful. Likewise I have heard it said of a rock climber who falling from a rockface to find the crampons that held his rope to the cliff give way, and in that instant presuming he was "a goner" felt a calm resignation but when subsequent crampons did not give way, causing the rock climber to bounce and swing at the end of his rope, to thrown not into death but uncertainty, suddenly felt again, great fear. There is a youtube video of a skydiver that found his parachute would not open and said after failing to release his secondary parachute, fairly calmly, "I'm dead. bye!" According to MMM, his fear would have worst when he found himself alive (he survived) after he hit blackberry bushes.

Recently I was reading the book of the experience of a Dr. Brook, who had severe throat cancer, who recounts the fear or anxiety that he felt above all in the face of medical uncertainty. Perhaps, being told "you are going to die" is less fearful than "you may well die" which is less fearful than "I am not sure if you are going to die" and less fearful still than the unspoken message from a doctor who does not even admit to uncertainty, representing an uncertainty about which the patient cannot even be certain about.

So, is the fear of meaninglessness our greatest fear? It would, to me and according to the theory, be nice to think so. But, fearfully, I wonder why is that people read absurd literature such as that of Ionesco or Kafka? I was a great fan of absurd literature in my youth. And returning to culture, why is that people, from explorers to tourists, go on expeditions, or travels, into the unknown, into cultures which they do not understand? Sometimes we like, we seek, meaninglessness.

Perhaps all these 'pleasure cruises into the unknown' are motivated by that which motivates nightmares. Freud, of pleasure principle fame, proposed that we see nightmares --surely not pleasurable, in the short term at least -- through the desire to repeat, and through repitition, conquer our fear. If so then perhaps people have
nightmares (and read Kafka, and go to far away cultures as tourists) to prepare themselves, ourselves, and thus feel less afraid of the thing that we really fear - meaninglessness. 

Posted by timtak at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2011

Listening, Psychic Detectives

Lately, especially and in the detective tradition, there are a lot of "observant detectives," that have certain things in common.

1) They are able to read people. Sherlock Holmes was able to guess people's occupation from looking at their hands. Tim Roth in "Lie to Me" looks at people's faces to uncover their emotions, Patrick Jane in "The Mentalist" has a very similar ability to understand objectives and intentions from observation of body language, the folks in "Criminal Mind" and CSI Miami read, interpret analyse the mind, and Toby Logan in "The Listener," a rare Canadian hit, reads other peoples minds directly. I have not seen "Psych", but the pattern is very much the same.

2) They are weak. Sherlock Holmes was an excentric socially inept drug addict, Tim Roth is a weed, Patrick Jane has no gun, and Toby Logan has no mojo. They are all listener, all observer, and they leave the muscle power to someone else. The first weak detective I can remember is Ironside, who also is "all detective," just a mind, a brain in a vat, and leaves the doing, the grabbing, to others because he is unable to walk. Other examples of detectives that have difficulty walking include Oedipus (whose name means swollen foot), Dr. House, and Johnny Smith in The Dead Zone (see below).

3) The detectives sometimes are a bit gender bending or at least camp. Patrick Jane is called Jane, and camp. These detectives (unlike hard boiled detectives) raretly have relationships with women. Various excuses are given for their lack of sex drive, often a parted or deceased spouse. Sometimes they play second fiddle to a woman (Tim Roth, and Patrick Jane), sometimes the have a straight man sidekick (Toby Logan's Osman, Holme's Dr. Watson, James the quiff Garret in Hawaii Five O had "book em" Danno).

Perhaps they are all a bit Christ like. He was not a ladies man, and he listens to the thoughts in our soul, apparently.

How do these detectives relate to the many recent psychic detectives, that do not read other humans, but recieve messages from the dead, or the dead detectives that are ghosts?

Ghost detectives are similar to the listening detectives, in that they read people, just by being there. The 1969 British TV series (remade in 2000) Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) featured a womanising Randall and the ghost of his partner, Hopkirk and private detectives. The 1990 film Ghost, staring Demi Moore and the late Patrick Swaze showed the latter character solve his own murder.

Recently there have been a spate of American films and television series where detectives can see dead people. The first of these was perhaps "Sixth Sense" in which a boy helps or helped by another Ghost, played by Bruce Willis, to solve murders. This was followed by a variety of Psychic-detectives, such as Tru-Calling (2003), Medium (2005), both starring women who can see the future, and The Dead Zone with focusses only on the seeing the future not ghosts. All of these were predated perhaps by the FBI agent in David Lynch's Twin Peaks, whose other-worldy dream presents clues to the solution of the main murder investigation.

Are these psychic detective, super-listeners, or are the listeners the ghosts that help them? What is the connectiong between seeing the future and seeing Ghosts?

The comparison between these the listening detectives and hard boiled ones is interesting too. The hard boiled detective gets to be both Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Toby Logan and Osman, but he achieves this, or retains our interest, because we can hear his hard boiled thoughts. That is what hard boiled means (especially in Japan): a guy that goes around talking to himself. Without the (unnatural?) narration that accompanies Sam Spade and his ilk, the self-speech becomes spoken, out in the open, and as it does so, unable to be both speaker and spoken to, the detective takes on a partial role, that of the listener.

For me, it seems to me, that my "listener," the part of my soul that listens to my self speech, is like these detectives, only observant, hidden and bound, and feminised, neutered. So for me all these detective stories are acting out the structure of the self.  There is a lot more to be said, and a lot more going on. We live in exciting times, for  structuralists. 

PS Kamen Rider W was written by Jacques Lacan! 

Posted by timtak at 08:17 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2011

The Philosophy [or disease] of Jared Lee Loughner

There area at least three currents to Loughnerism – a form of postmodern malaise - that pick up on various Internet memes, conspiracy theories, and popular philosophy.

Anti Fiat Currency/Anti-Federalism
Loughner seems to have felt animosity towards the US Federal Government and lashed out at its nearest representative. In particular he did not like the federal fiat currency. That is to say the US dollar, and other promissory notes issued by governments, that are not based on a gold standard (or other precious metal, commodity).

A large minority of observers object to the state of the US and other major world currencies. These include economists, and Ron Paulists to more fringe, conspiracy theorists. The idea is, I believe, that once currencies are no longer backed up by the issuing government's ability to exchange them for a certain amount of gold or silver, and are just backed up by a promise, based in the power of government to level taxes, this allows governments and those that control them the ability to "monetize debt" and print money, (as the Obama administration is now doing). Those that control the currency can control its value and charge what is effectively a money tax. By printing more money those that control money, can take part of value of everyone who has some money. The more fringe theorists assert that it is not the federal government but rather (more often than not) Jews and particular families of Jews that are controlling the currency. One of the more, from my point of view, fringe expositions of this theory is that exposed by the documentary The Money Masters.

Linguistic Constructivism
I am not sure what name to give this element of Loughnerism but it is a focus on the extent thought, belief, behaviour and even reality is effected by the language and grammar used to describe it. Loughner seemed to believe that reality is very much dependent upon the language and grammar that we use to describe it.

There are all sorts of sides to this argument. Nietzsche may have argued that our tendency to believe in grammar encouraged us to continue to believe in an objective world and a creator God. Buddhism tends to encourage its adherents to free their minds of language in order that they can realize the ineffable, chaotic, nature of the world as they see it. If natives of Alaska have a many words for varieties of snow, does that mean that in their reality there are more different types of snow, compared to the reality of a person with fewer words (Sapir-Worph, or misrepresentations of their theory)? If a language does not have a word for a certain emotion (e.g. Takeo Doi's "Amae") does this imply that there will be less recognition of that emotion, or even an ontological absense of that emotion, within the culture that speaks the amae-word-lacking-language. And particularly to what extent does the use of a grammar that demands the use of a subject, encourage us to believe in a independent subject (Kashima & Kashima, 1998)? On the other hand there are those like Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker that argue that language is to a large extent universal in its grammar, or that grammar is to a large extent hardwired, a result of structures in the brain.

Loughner, as mentioned previously, believed that language has a considerable controlling emphasis upon thought and reality.

The weird, or original, part of Loughnerism is that he equates, or conflates, his mistrust of fiat currencies (not based on the gold standard) with his mistrust of language, and sees the US federal government as responsible for both circulating a untrust-worthy medium of exchange (the dollar) and for encouraging and educating US citizens in the use of an  un-objectively founded, correspondence-theory-lacking, language and grammar.

Matrixism: Belief in the possibility of personal manipulation of "The Matrix"
The Science Fiction film series The Matrix Trilogy mashes a lot of constructivist thinking (that the world is a result of an arbitrary construction), with a conspiracy theory (that the construction is perpetuated to serve the ends of an evil elite), and with the belief that those who are aware of this state of affairs can bend the Matrix, and create their own reality.

These three strands of thought, result in Loughner's proposition that it is possible to mint ones own currency, ones own language and free oneself from the constraints of the Federally mandated grammar with its (arguably?) fictional subject.

Lougner claimed to have achieved his private exchequer, a God-Like (or Keanu Reeves-Like) ability to bend ‘the Matrix’ in his ability to lucid dream. In lucid dreaming he claimed he was able to create a world where in he could fly and -w hether he used a novel grammar remains unclear - bend the rules of reality at first to his own satisfaction. He seems to have become dissatisfied with this dream world perhaps due to its isolation, and the impossibility he faced in making his dream world anywhere near objective enough for anyone else to share it.

The most dangerous part of Loughner's philosophy or disease, seems to have been a sort of ambivalence towards standards, towards objectively verifiable meaning and value. He needed them, he wanted them, but he felt unable to believe in their existence. It was perhaps this ambivalence, this love lost/love betrayed, that eventually resulted in his tragic explosion into violence.

Loughner blogs about the possibility of creating his own grammar, or “currency”. He is then faced with a problem of how he might found it upon, taking the metaphor of currency, a gold standard. He suggests that it is not possible to specify a date to put on his new currency, since time has no beginning. At another point he seems to suggest that it is not possible to specify a place from which his currency is minted lacking a place in the universe that might be referenced objectively. He seems to reach an awareness, presumably rejecting Platonism, that it is not possible for him to mint his own currency or language based upon a gold-standard-like 'philosophers stone'. Perhaps he bumpted into some realization of the private language argument.

Had he read more (?) Wittgenstein, or been able to accept a view of language based in use, a 'fiat language' in a sense, he might not have become violent. But, hankering as he was for a firm basis for a new grammar, the gold standard that he felt he deserved, and realizing the lack of such a basis, he took steps to destroy the status quo without any clear vision of any promised land. Calling himself a dreamer, he decided to lash out at the Federal government for encouraging the use of a fiat-language, a fiat world view, based upon merely upon confidence, promises, and social agreement, for which he could find no gold-standard replacement.

Congresswoman Giffords was unable to answer Loughner’s question, “What is Government if language has no meaning?” Loughner found her lack of an answer, or lack of an interest in the question, incompatible with her authority. Loughner’s disease seems to be that of someone raised to believe in God, the Bible, the US constitution or some "gold-standard" to anchor their world view, who finding (rightly or wrongly) that no such basis exists, lashes out at an institution that he saw as responsible for perpetrating the ‘fraud’ that he had formerly believed in. 

Posted by timtak at 08:36 PM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2010

Devil in Mind

I do feel damned, that there is a devil in my mind. And yet I do not believe in devils, or my mind, and there lies the rub. Fail though I am going to, I would like to put the Devil, in mind, on a more scientific footing.

So I talk to myself, don't we all? I do it in the silence of my mind. Scientific people like Mead, and Hermans and Kempen say how we speak ourselves to simulated others and in so doing we create ourselves as the would be signified of the first person of that silent narrative. What is going on here? When a 'being' (under erasure), narrates "itself", "it" turns 'itself' inside out. The vast nothingness that "it" was, becomes an ear to the voice, while it takes itself to be the non-entity signified by the first person of that voice, that narrative.

The "being" becomes an "it," an other, to a dream of personhood. Just as the child plays with a doll, and lives in the world of dolls, forgetting the player. The big-self, the 'true' self, becomes an other to word-made-glove-puppet that she takes herself, I take myself to be.

But there is a devilish mistake going down, seriously: a serious mistake of diabolical proportion.  

As a glove, no, word-puppet, muppet, dream-that-the-cogito-speaks; as a would-be-signified of the words that occur nowhere, I understand "I," "myself" and even "existance" in my own muppety, uber-fictious way. I have no words to frame reality. No words might.

As a would-be-entity, a word-dream, I can only recognise other entities in the same way. So to call the "big-self" the "true self" a "self" (or "true" or "big), I am doing it a gross misjustice. It is not even an "it", not-a-wordable-entity at all, far less a "self" and far, far less "me". So what should I call ** ("it" under erasure)?

A good name for it is perhaps God! Or G_d, to be a little bit more unsayable, and so slightly more precise. I should call "it" by another name, an other-worldly name. I should call ** by the biggest Word, a non-word-Word, a word that harks to places, sizes, powers, of which, in my wordedness, I can not dream.

To call ** by any name is a gross error. To call ** "myself", or any compound containing "self" (such as "big-self", "real-self") is an arrogant mistake. So who am I talking to?  

If I don't give ** a word like "God" (a word with no meaning and with unbounded meanings), then I am way, way, further, off the mark. 

And if I still keep speaking to **, as I sure as hell do, (don't we all?) then what am I doing? 

This action, this speech, is directed towards, an other-worldly, fantasmogorical, and Godless other. An other yet-otherwordly, that lets me dream that I am he: a Devil in mind.

Or something like that. Have I been at all communicative? Certainly, at the time of writing, you, assuming anyone reads this, were not here.   

Posted by timtak at 12:28 AM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2010

Occularcentrism, the Imaginary, and a return to the sign.

I have been claiming, or at least thinking, that there is something "imaginary" (term swiped from Lacan) about Japan. My understanding of these terms are from a very simple reading of Lacan, and James Mead, and indeed my own experience.

Taking these in reverse order, it seems to me that in my head, as it were (where?!), I represent things in words and imaginings. I rarely call to mind smells, or feels, or even noises, and even when I do, it is even more rarely to represent something. But I call to mind words all the time (I talk to myself), and I imagine images (less so now than when I was a child) to represent, to signify, to make a story/cinematography, to work through a problem.

James Mead talks about visual gestures (a frown or body posture perhaps) and says that when we make them it is difficult for them to have meaning to the person that is making them. They are thrown out there for others. It is difficult to see what they mean without a mirror he says. But when we speak, we automatically hear our own words and thus understand our communication as others understand them.  Critique: It seems to me that there are sevearal things going on. The physics of the situation: sound bounces back but without a mirror, while I can if I look down see my hand gestures, I can not see my frown or my body posture. Attention: one may care about ones words but not ones gestures. Interpretation: one may interpret ones words and not ones gestures. Affect and perhaps in the same breath identification: One may care about ones words but not ones gestures, one may identify with ones words, and not ones gestures.

Lacan says that people identify with language (I?) and with self-image as reflected in a mirror. Critique: I wonder about what it is that I identify with. Do I think that I am the sound or called to mind sound "I," or do I think that I am that which the sounded or thought "I" signifies? Do I think that I am my reflection, or that which my reflection reflects? symbolises? or contains? Or alternatively, am I the entity that makes the sound/thought I, or that which hears it? Am I the entity which makes(?) the image of me, or the person that sees it?

I have fluffed, made vague, all these distinctions when I think about the Japanese, or Westeners. The extent of my observation is perhaps that, Westerners create, use and care about language more, Japanese create, use and care more about images.

Now then...Even if this fluffy, vague distinction were any good at all...Lately I am lead to semiotics! Now that I have children, particularly now my son, who is mainly Japanese, I see that he is very interested in visual signs.

I used to be interested in semiotics before I got into social psychology.

Social psychologist can be more fluffy. I was a bad and social psychologist, but even if I had been a good one, I think I would have been allowed to paint these distinctions with a broad brush. To "operationalise" at whatever level I could find data to support my assertions. E.g. I claimed I found that Westerners cared more about their self-representations in language, while Japanese cared more about their self-representations in images, then I was not required to go into the nitty gritty of what aspect of self-representation is important.

Now that I have children, or rather now that I have my first born son, Ray, I see that Ray is wildly interested in visual signs. When I was more philosophical I was interested in people like Levi-Strauss, Barthes, and Saussure. Looking at Ray, it seems to me that I need to return to that interest. Something semiotic (in the broadest sense) is going on.

Before I was reminded by Ray, I felt a temptation to say that the Japanese are into the visual but not the significant. But, Ray is interesting in visual signs/symbols/indexes/icons. I find myself being called back to Levi-Strauss and Barthes and other semioticians, because they talk about types of signification.

Cutting to the chase.

Looking at Ray I am reminded of Levi-Strauss' "Savage Mind" or "Totemism Today" and Barthes "Mythologies."

In Levi-Strauss's work there was the assertion that the "savage" used, bricoleured, things in the world to mean things. I did not find a place where he contrasted the savage with what we, non-savage Westerners, are doing. If I use Takemoto to refer to my family, then in what way is that different to someone that represents their family by an eagle?

In Barthes' Myth Today however, there is a heirarchy. Mythologists use things and images to communicate, but they do so resting on the shoulders of that which produced those distinctions in the first place. Savage Mythologists are derivative, secondary.

To be continued

Posted by timtak at 06:47 PM | Comments (0)

The visual as supplment

The "logic of the supplement" is a really bad name for how some things can have an important role as a foil, scapegoat, sacrificee, or supplement, and be both of lesser and central importance at the same time.

Consider a supplement to a book. It is the bit on the end, extraneous to the main part of the book (and thus of lesser importance) but at the same time may complete the book and by completing the book, be of prime importance. Or again, a vitamin "supplement" is something that is an addition to ones normal diet, that may at the same time contain vitamins, and minerals and the most important thing that the makers of the "supplement" say we should eat. Or again, there are things that are sacrificed, or made into scapegoats that are at once of lesser importance/value and of prime value. Consider the Jews in Nazi Germany. They were treated as animals, far beneath the "Aryans" but at the same time, by making a scapegoat of the Jews, the Nazis were able to rally the Germans together in the face of the common "enemy within." It coule be argued that the Jews, as victims and scapegoats, were the impurity that made the pure Aryan race possible. 

In his commentary on Plato's Pharmacon, Derrida claims that writing, or visual symbols are a supplement in that sense in the West and that Western philosophers often make use of writing (or perhaps the visually meaningful) as a scapegoat. I find Derrida's writing very opaque but I do feel that the visually significant, and the visual, or corporeal is used as the "supplement" to the symbolic in the Western tradition. Western philosophers since plato, point to some visual/corporeal istance and say well it is lucky that we have language, and the meaning that we can trust. The the visually symbolic acts as a scapegoat, victim that purifies the symbolic, linguistic.  Some examples...Austin claims that some linguistic statements are "speech acts." Such as "I promise," or "I bet" is not only speech, it is also an act. The speech act is a piece of dirty speech, that involves itself in the world of things. And after going on about these "speech acts" for a while, Austin then claims, but of course, there is some speech which is not an act, is simply referential. Thus he purifies language and its ability to refer to things without acting upon them in any way, by using example of speech which is also an act, caught up in the phenominal world. Similarly, Plato, speaks of writing as a supplement to phonetic language which is imperfect in being caught up in the visual world, less so phonemes, and even less so speech in the mind which is pure, not written, purely linguistic and not like that dirty corporeal writing stuff. In my view, all statements are acts in a sense. All symbols contain a little corporeality. But by setting up an example of an extremely corporeal example Western philosophers can return to their veneration of language. Derrida likewise, goes on about how easy it would be for all of "res extensio" (that which is extended, that which can be seen) to be a dream and after going on and on about how all this visual stuff could be an illusion, he returns to langauge and his cogito as if it is purified from being a mirage, despite the fact that he may be dreaming in gibberish. I think herefore I am, may be "flutch brenden under cellophone."

In Lacan too, the mirror image of the self, acts as a supplement, and essential lesser part to the self narrative of the linguistic self proper. The image of self, is essential, and it is only at the intersection of linguistic and visual self reference that we have a self at all. But it is the lesser part, the part of self which which one should not identify, which language saves us from. The image is like the twist in the mobius strip. It allows language to return upon itself, refer to something that is the sorce of the language, refer almost to itself. The self image is the veneer that proves that the truth is going on inside.

Posted by timtak at 06:47 PM | Comments (0)

Evidence for God

I was looking at Ayn Rand on YouTube and rather enjoying her personality. And saw her refutation of God and liked that too. She said, that while it is impossible to prove a negative - to prove the non-existence of fairies, say - she does not and we should not believe in God since there is no proof of his existence. If there were no evidence for the existence of God then I would agree. Donahue, the interviewer, then pointed out the order in the world. She countered by saying that it makes no sense to postulate a ordering mind, an order outside the order. We see the order, and the chance, and try and understand the order, but there is no reason to assume that there must be a something outside the order that we see that creates that order. This seemed fair enough to me too.

I would not say that I believe in God exactly. But I do think that there is some evidence for the belief in God, these are:

1) Testimony of others, over wide time frames and geographical locations
2) Behaviour of others that seems to suggest the existence of non-self-cantered motivations (altruism, "good")
3.1) Ones own adherence, and the adherence of atheists, to being honest non-contradictory and reasonable. All atheists should be self-interested, and therefore part-time, at least death-bed, theists.
3.2) The very existence of my own reason, or its nub-come-nexus: self-speech. Why am I, we, you doing it?

1) That many people believe in God. I think that normally, if a lot of people testify to something then it is not unreasonable to see that as evidence. Of course, I can think of lots of reasons for ignoring their testimony. The biggest one is perhaps that there are so many different gods. Thor, Allah, Yahweh, Zeus? They all seem to say that theirs is the only one. But all the same, from a detached viewpoint, it seems that there is a commonality between the testimony - e.g. a supernatural creator - that should make the objective analyst give pause. If one were investigating a crime scene for instance and found that witnesses were saying different things about what happened (as I believe they do) but they had a commonality in their testimony, then ordinarily one might think, there is something in, some truth behind, the testimony.

2) The existence of altruism. Ayn Rand seems to dislike it. Why do people seem to sacrifice themselves? Why do people go in for good and evil as objective standards, rather than pursue only their self interest? Ayn Rand saw this as a disease, something that should be eradicated. But all the same, it is evidence that people do believe in some objective standard. C.S. Lewis, argued from this evidence, that people who believe in good believe in God. I think that C. S. Lewis was right. It seems to me that there are loads of people including myself going around behaving in, from a objectivist point of view, strangely altruistic, and moral ways. Again I think that is evidence for the existence of God. Naturally like point (1) above one can think of other reasons why people believe in Gods (even though they do not exist) and behave altruistically (weakness). The evidence can be explained in other ways. But the evidence remains.

Taking the first two points...and returning to the invisible elephant. If one came into a room, or the world, where one could see no elephant but (1) there were lots of people saying "There is an invisible elephant (Yahew)" or "There is an invisible hippo (Thor)" (2) There were lots of people avoiding certain behaviours (as if they might get squashed), then it seems unfair to say that there is *no* evidence. There is evidence. But one can interpret it in ways that suggest that the people are wrong.

(3) Attitudes towards and Existence of Reason
Ayn Rand is big on reason. There are two parts to this. The first (relates to 2 above) is about Ayn Rand’s attitude and behaviour towards reason, the second to the phenomenology and behaviour of reason itself.

(3.1) Did Ayn Rand have the courage of her convictions? Did she behave in a self-centered way? It seems that Ayn Rand upheld reason in a way that is a bit strange. I get this vibe from a lot of atheists. What is it about reason that Ayn Rand felt the desire to uphold? For example, even if she saw no reason for believing in God, but she was pissed off, dying, in need of some comfort, why did she stick with reason? Why be honest? Why ask for evidence, as reason does? She seems to base her philosophy on reason and self-interest, but aren't the two in conflict? Isn't it self-interested to believe in a fairy or two? Why not allow ones to be deluded, to delude oneself? Sure in a lot of cases one gets out of touch and suffers the consequences. But dying people, people with few realistic options, why should they stick with reason? If they were self interested then why would bother? Reason (whatever it is) would on the face of it seem to be a tool of self-interest. If so then when self-interest dictates that unreason is less stressful, why uphold it? This seems to be mystical behaviour. Thus in Ayn Rand's own behaviour there seems to be an unreasonably reasonable element. It seems altruistic to reasonable in the face of self-interest.

Hence, I think that Ayn Rand should have seen in her own behaviour evidence for an non-self-interested constraint upon her own behaviour. Reason is something that takes place in the mind, I presume. So I suggest that Ayn, and anyone that is into being honest for honesty's stake, or non-contradictory for non-contradiction's sake, should recognise that they are presenting evidence for the existence of non-self interested other in mind, in other words, a supernatural other, hippo, Thor.

 Some counter this with some sort of liar's paradox gambit saying "It is impossible to be unreasonable (reasonably?)" but Ayn knows that there are so many people that are "weak" that do live unreasonably, surely she could do it too. Perhaps she should have said "I do not believe in God, unless or until it is more enjoyable to do so." That I could go for. But remaining reasonable to the end, hanging on to reason for reason’s sake? Surely that is mystical and evidence for God, evidence that the seems to be overlooking.

(3.2) But is reason a tool? What is reason anyway? It seems to me that reason is very linked with language. Reason seems to be the application of language to life, taking language seriously, expressing ones self and ones world in non contradictory ways. Reason at the end of the day seems to be about respecting ones self speech. I have already questioned the "respect" given to reason in (3.1) but here (3.2) I mean to question the existence of the self speech itself. Why do reason, or why talk to oneself at all?  I think that the answer to the question, also answers why people respect reason, and also provides evidence for the existence of an intra psychic (in the mind, in the head) other, and thus a rhino (if not an elephant). 
 As Derrida says speech is on the face of it, a communicative activity. Communication usually requires an information gap. Being reasonable, when we are not engaging in phatic greetings, and needs to pour out our troubles, we speak, out loud that is, to communicate some information that we have that someone else does not have. But when it comes to self-speech, then there is no gap. What can I say that I do not know? Reasonably, there is something unreasonable about the existence of self-speech. Why are we doing it? Why don't we just quit this self-speaking thing? Since I can convey or communicate nothing to myself (a self contradiction) then it is unreasonable, strange, mystical of me to be doing it.
 There seems to be something in my experience, not the unreliable testimony of others, that has no clear explanation.

 Okay, merely because I do something for which I can see no clear explanation does not mean that I should see that as evidence for the existence of God. I like Elvis Presley, but that proves nothing. When it comes to self-speech, however, it is like that the room with with the "invisible elephant" with people in it that avoid certain areas of the room. One goes into the room and finds that everyone is avoiding the central aisle of the room. They say there is an invisible elephant in the room. These two facts, avoiding the central isle, and saying there is an elephant, are internally consistent. As is believing in God and behaving altruistically. Aha, one says, they are wrong about both things. But then one finds that oneself keeps on saying *to nobody in the room* "Tsk, Tsk" as if there is an elephant there. Doesn't the reasonable person say, ooops, it seems as if I believe there is an elephant in the room myself?
 Have you every tried stopping your own self-speech? Or even asking yourself why you are doing it? Why not quit? Why is it so difficult to quit? It seems to me that self-speech is a behaviour could be explained by the existence of god. It could be explained upon the assumption that, one self-speaks not so that one hears ones self-speech oneself (that would be silly, unreasonable), but so that some other intra-psychic entity, someone else inside ones head, may also hear it.

I can see no reasonable reason for my self-speech other than my own, at times unrecognised, belief that someone hears that speech. And what is a god if not another person that can hear inside ones own head? That being would have to be supernatural. Communication implies an other. I do a would be communicative act in my head. This implies that I believe in an other in my head, an other in my mind, a supernatural other.

Let us say that Ayn Rand, RIP and anyone unfortunate enough to read this blog were to agree: "Okay, self-speech does imply the belief in an other in the mind," this too would not prove the existence of God. But it would be evidence. Testimony of others (1), and behaviour of others (2) is easier to reinterpret. But when it is oneself that is doing the weird behaviour, then that is fairly strong evidence.

Back to the crime scene. A detective believes that a crime has not been committed. He speaks to people who were at the "supposed crime scene" and they all say that there was a crime but none of them can agree exactly as to what the crime was. They all say it was a murder, but none of them can agree on the details. They all avoid the place where there crime was committed. But, no body is found. The detective thinks, "Yeah, these people are all nuts, they are not being reasonable." But then the detective gets cold shakes whenever he goes to the place where the crime was said to have been committed. He starts screaming (our self-speech is so loud, in here) "No, no, nooo," as if he were reliving the crime that he believes was not committed. Then shouldn't he start to worry? Shouldn't he say, okay the other people may all be nuts, but for some reason I am behaving as if I saw a crime here too.

Do I believe in God? Yes and no. I am an a sort of "other-power" Buddhist.

Posted by timtak at 06:47 PM | Comments (0)

Anti-Hero or Accidental Hero: The Anti-Hero is not conflicted, he is a goody-goody wuss

Characters like "Dirty Harry," and Jim McClane (Die Hard, 1988) are often described as "anti heros" since their gruff, unkempt, anti-social demeanour conflicts with their do-good, heroic image.

On the face of it then, the anti-hero as portrayed by these rogue cops, is a more ‘complex’, ‘nuanced’ or, ‘flawed’ hero. Anti-heroes are, we are told, a little bit evil, or morally ambivalent, not just a bunch of unrealistically, steadfast, moral goody-goodies. I argue here that, on the contrary, the "anti-hero," is in fact even more unrealistically idealistic, moral and "goody-goody" by virtue of their accidental nature. First of all we hardly need to be reminded what all action heroes do; they shoot bad guys and generally destroy a lot of property in the process.

Shooting people and wrecking cars are usually seen as examples of undesirable behaviour. The hero remains the target of our admiration and identification due to the existence of the bad guy (it is almost always a male) against whom the hero rises in righteous rebellion. The hero thus is always, at the outset, a degree accidental, dependant upon the entrance of the bad guy for his or her existence. But is this enough? The best amongst us might urge a hero to back down from action and ‘turn the other cheek’. It can at least be argued that, hurting people, even bad people, is bad. To protect heros from this slur, their enemies become progressively more twisted and evil, the number of people that they threaten and that the hero must protect, progressively larger until, Flash Gordon (comic strip 1934, film 1980) and others become "saviour of the universe". But then somewhere on the way, even this was not enough. Flash Gordon started to get on our nerves.

We stopped liking him as much as we used to. We started to get the feeling that he was not such a good guy, that he is, as his name suggests, “flash”, egotistical, not so very nice at all. Incipit the so called "anti-hero". The gruffness, the antisocial, and even irresponsible persona is merely a veneer to allow an even greater moral purity; anti-heroes, are not happy in their role, they did not want to be heroes, their heroics are accidental. For example, the McClane character in all of the Die Hard films is an *accidental hero*.

McClane just wants to go home to his wife, meet his wife’s plane, go back to bed, or retire, but circumstances, events, and some really nasty bad guys *force him to become a hero*. Paradoxically, McClane becomes even more of a hero, because his heroics are accidental. Above all, the accidental nature of his heroism, protect him from any claim of hypocrisy. Bad guys are generally motivated by self-interest. They seek money or power, or some kind of ego boost, the fulfilment of a self-centred desire. Selfishness is at the heart of evil. Die Hard’s Jim McClane is however not rescuing people and killing bad guys through any James Bondian desire to be suave, or because he has a big John Wayne of an ego. Jim McClane does not even want to become involved but (like Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry movies, and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca) a situation arises where he simply has no choice but to step up to the plate. Usually a bad guy arrives at the party that he is attending, or the plane that his wife is on gets hijacked. Lets have a look at some of the scenes in which the accidental nature of the anti-hero becomes apparent.

From Casablanca (1942): Rick Blaine: "Of all the gin joints in all the world, she walks into mine." Rick is hiding out in Morocco. Through a series of coincidences, culminating in the arrival of his ex-girlfriend, Ilsa Lund, the embittered, cynical “anti-hero” Rick is catapulted, unwillingly, into the role of the most acclaimed accidental hero in Hollywood cinema.

From Dirty Harry (1971) Harry Callahan: [after having reported the “211” armed robbery in progress, to the police and biting into his hotdog] Just wait till the cavalry arrives. [Alarm bell rings] Ah, shit. This scene ends with one of Harry Callahan’s most famous lines "You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya punk?" The same being-disturbed-at-mealtime trope was repeated in the third film in the Dirty Harry series, Sudden Impact (1983), in the scene leading up to Clint Eastwood's most famous line "make my day," though this time Harry is disturbed in his enjoyment of a black coffee. In either case, Harry Callahan allows himself sadistic enjoyment of the suffering of the punks that he is bringing to justice.

We forgive him because the viewer knows that Harry did not give reign to his sadistic desire. Harry just wanted to finish his hotdog, or his coffee. His violent course of action - which if he is to take, he might as well enjoy - was forced upon him. From Die Hard 2 (1990): Captain (of airport security) Lorenzo: Hey McClane, I've got a first class unit in here: swat team and all. We don't need any Monday morning quarterback. McClane: Fuck Monday morning, my wife is on one of the god damn planes these guys are fucking with. That puts me on the playing field.

McClane also notices and claims to lament the coincidence, since this is the second film in the Die Hard series. McClane: Ah man, I can't fucking believe this. Another basement, another elevator. How could the same shit happen to the same guy, twice? At the same time, when compared to the hero who takes action into his own hands, the anti-hero lacks the courage of his conviction. He can not step right up to the plate, actively seek a position of responsibility. In that sense he is weak, and that is why, as well as a goody-goody, I call him a wuss.

This is why the most grim, gravelly-voiced, strong and macho actors must be used in these anti-hero roles.

1. In fact even Flash Gordon arrives as an anti-hero. In the first comic strip he is forced to board the rocket stops the comet threatening to destroy the earth.

2. John Wayne also portrays accidental, anti-heros such as in “The Searchers” (1956).

This article in doc form

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Posted by timtak at 06:44 PM | Comments (0)

Rouge no Dengon

This may be the first time I have reviewed a song. I can't get it out of my head. The song is "Rouge no Dengon", sometimes translateda as "Message in Rouge," by Matsutoya Yumi. Ms. Matsutoya is one of the most famous Japanese singers. She was born in 1954 and this song was released in 1975 when she was 21 years of age. She began her career as a lyricist for other artists, but became a mega famous singer, with multiple hit singles and albums, despite her less glamourous looks and contnues to record and hold sell out, 60 plus venue, tours as of 2009.
I first noticed her as the singer of "Mamotte agetai," which means "I'd like to protect you," a major hit. It struck me as strange because in the West, it seems to me, it is usually the guys that do the protecting. The song in question ends with the repeated refrain, in English, "My little darling, my little darling," (about a guy), so in this song too there is, from my British view point, a bit of gender reversal. Here in Japan the ladies do the protecting?

Here at least are the words.
To meet that guys mummy
I've now got on a train alone
Twilight falling town and rows of cars
In the corner of my eye I overtake

That guy is soon going to notice
The message in rouge in our bathroom
If you don't give up on your loose flings
I won't be coming home

Leaving, a sense of anxiety in my heart
The city fades into the distance,
Next morning in a phone call from mummy,
I will have him told off, My Darling!

That can is soon going to be stressed
The message in rouge in our bathroom
As he meets our friends will he ask
Where am I headed

Leaving, a sense of anxiety in my heart
The city clatters into the distance,
Next morning in a phone call from mummy,
I will have him told off, My Darling!
I will have him told off, My Darling!


Posted by timtak at 06:43 PM | Comments (0)

Making Sense of Scientology

 In a manner of speaking, I am a bit of a scientologist with a small "s," in that I am kind of religious, but also I am scientist. Or I am a scientist but also I am kind of religious. I am not sure what my religion is. I am interested in more than one religion. I try to understand what religions have to say from my sciency perspective. I have spent a lot of time trying to understand what Christianity has to say, and perhaps even more time trying to make a sciency sense out of Shinto mythology. I like to think that there is truth in what Christians have to say (about people rising from the dead for instance) and what Shinto has to say (about the world being created by gods, for instance). That is hard work!

 Recently I have been having a look at what Scientology has to say, particularly the more extraordinary claims of Scientology, the ones that some people like to make fun out of, about Xemu, and aliens being blown up.

 Before I write about the really weird parts of Scientology, the first thing I like about Scientology is the self-analysis part of it. This comes before all the weird "space opera" (sic).

Scientologists, seem to like to get to grips with all the things that they do not like to get to grips with! That is to say, that usually there are a lot of things that we do not like to remember, and as a consequence we do not remember. Things that we are embarrassed about, things that we are ashamed of, things that make us cringe, things that make us well up with emotion. We have, in common parlance, hang-ups. We have things about which we have been criticised, actions that we do not like to admit, desires that do no like to admit to, desires that we do not know why we have, fears that we do not face, etc. From what little I know about scientology, in the early stages, initiates are encouraged to confront and examine this hidden things. They use skin conductivity as a measure of stressful hidden-ness. In other words, if I hook you up to a conductivity measuring device and ask you "We did you last hate your father" or "When did you last masturbate" or "What is your shame" or I have no idea but there are things that we don't like to talk about. We don't even know what they are ourselves. But if you are hooked up to a skin conductivity meter then there will sometimes be an indication of when the question has hit a nerve. That is to say that the meter will show when the question is one that we have difficulty facing up to. And why the hell not? Why don't we face up to everything? Why can't we speak about all these things and confess them, describe them, and leave them behind? When one faces ones fears and shames and complexes, they tend to turn to dust. Scientologists, I believe, encourage people to face up to everything. And to, in common parlance, "get over it". When I went for a personality test in Edinburgh about 22 years ago one of their members told me that they adress the fears and complexes of their members in pairs at a distances of a few inches. Imagine if someone got right in your face and talked, criticised, asked for answers to all your complexes at a distance of only a few inches. "So you have a small penis, what of it?" "you are a bald ageing twat", "You write drivel on the internet," "You are a filanderer, why?" etc.
 Perhaps that is all there is to scientology in a way? I have no idea. Perhaps all they do is to un-supress people? Free people, force people to confront, all their sweaty emotions, experiences, complexes, hang-ups. Is there a person that you have ever met that can confront themselves fully? I am not that person. I am not sure whether or not such a procedure would benefit myself or not, but I have sympathy with the endeavour. To be honest, I tend to "audit" people that I meet. I am in love with self-revelation. I like that sweaty feeling in myself and others, because I believe that it can be overcome.

 Leaving that aside. I am not sure if Scientologist really do address their "complexes" or not, what of the space opera? This is really weird. There are places on the internet where one can hear of a sort of "mythology" about Xenu, about aliens being blown up, and then attachig themselves to others. And about how we live in a world where peole are infested with aliens. I am not a expert on Scientoogy but the concept that we have been invaded by aliens is one that my sciency mind does not object to quite as much as it is common to do so.

  Okay so that was a long preamble. What I really meant to write about is the Xenu, aliens bit. I see the story as a sort of mythology. L Ron Hubbard was, or may have been, a modern mythologist.

  I want to add some more preamble. What scientology needs, its seems to me, or indeed what any religion with a mythology needs, is a theory of mythology, or a theory about language. A semiotics? Not sure. Anyway, on the face of it mythologies are generally whacked, crazy, stupid. "So a giant guy made the world in 6 days?" "So a primal couple gave birth to the world?!" Yada yada. It sounds really silly. People, like me, of a sciency persuasion, are of course inclined to think that these stories, mythologies are so much primitive trash. So, is there any way of saving mythologies? Well, I have a couple of ideas. One is more wishwashy than the other.

The first, the wishy washier one, is to say that there is a problem with language: that language is not up to describing the way the world is. Saying that is easy. But when saying that in the language which you are trying to say is limited leads to enevitable contradictions. These contradictions are enough to make readers tell you to take a hike. But Wittgenstien in one of his coloured books used some good metaphors. He talked about simplified languages, more simple than the one he, and I, are using. Imagine if you are a soldier. Soldiers, according to the films I see on TV, use hand signals such as fist to say things like "advance" or "whatch out to your left" or "try and out-flank the enemy." Now imagine that there are a group of soldiers in a war, say Vietnam, and they are advancing on what they believe to be a group of Vietcong. Then one of the hand-signalling soldiers realises that that are in fact advancing upon a group of Belgian tourists who have got lost in the jungle. That hand-signalling soldier does not have the hand-signals to say what is going on. He only has the signals for "advance,(a fist)" "crawl,(a level palm)," "out-flank(a two fingered pointing motion, say)." But then one of the soldiers realises that he is walking towards a group of Belgian holiday makers, who are trying to  light a barbeque. How does he signal this fact to his comrades? Well, I guess he might try and use really strange signals. Signals, like a three fingered pointing, punching, palming, wave that his comrades would say "Hey, this guy is, from the point of view of our code, making no sense." Perhaps mythologies, such as people rising from the dead, or a couple of gods giving birth to the world, or a Xenu space opera, are all similarly the result of someone trying to use a language that is limited to describe a situation that goes beyong the limits of that language.

Secondly, I have thought about parables. "Parables" as in the ones that prophets in the Bible like to use. One time there was a prophet that met a king that was stealing someones wife. Instead of saying "You are stealing someones wife and that is bad," instead he told a story about a sheperd that had a lot of sheep but all the same stole sheep from another shepard that only had a few. The story he told, the parable he told, was an irreality. There was no sheperd stealing sheep. But in order to convey what he wanted to convey he had to use a irreal story. Why is that sometimes a parable, a metaphoric story, works better than a straight forward explanation of things? It seems to me that when you are trying to explain NOT what is, but what is not, what the listener has not seen, a mistake on the part of the listener, it helps to use a NON real story. If the prophet had said "You are taking someone else's wife" then the king may have said "Yeah, sure. What of it?" and his REAL story would have had no effect.  But by talking about a story that is not real, he managed to get the king to see the mistake that he king was making. I wonder if mythologies may be like parables. Stories that are about IRREALITIES that make us see the mistakes that we are making. Normal stories are about the world. Parable stories (parabolic stories?) are about the mistakes, the world that we are not seeing.


So, however one understands mythology, whatever theory of mythology that one takes, it seems to me that really weird stories, i.e. mythologies, such as the story of Xemu, may be communicative even if they sound like BS.

Finally, returning to the weird mythology of Scientology. L Ron Hubbard said (1) that we are infested with aliens from the deep distant past. And (2) that we need to get rid of these aliens. Well, it seems to me that a lot of "scientists" also say that we, humans, are infested with aliens. That is to say that several psychologists argue that have 'others' within the self. Freud says that we have created a "super ego," based in some way upon our father or our idea or fatherhood, within ourselves. Jung says that we have an animus, that is somehow like a group of elders, guys, that populate our heads. Jamese Herbert Mead says that we create within ourselves a "generalised other" from an amalgam of the view points of ourselves that other people have. Hermans and Kempen (in their book "the dialogical self") argue taht this other is a multi-faceted, that we have relationships with a variety of others, fathers, mothers, friends, that we model within ourselves. All these so called "scientific" theories, by more-or-less respected scientists say that there are others within the self. Also, all these scientists do not recommend that we get rid of the others. Why not? They argue that the self, the self that we have, is dependent upon the internalisation of these others.

Buddhists recommend that people get rid of their "selves." Alas Buddhists do not talk too much about what is required of getting rid of the self. As far as I am aware, there is not all that much talk within Buddhism of "in order to get rid of your (false) self you must get rid of the others." But again afaik there is some talk within Buddhism of this sort of "other-ridding" endeavour.

I listened to a L Ron Hubbard speech about Xenu on the Internet. Towards the end he spoke about how he did not (seem to)approve of Christianity in a way, in that it perpetuated fractured, or "crucified" veiws of the self. All of the "Scientists" mentioned above, (not the Buddhists though) are from the Christian tradition. It seems to me that within Christendom, it is seen as normal and preferable to remain fractured, to keep those others in the self. (BTW I am conscious of the fact that I am using the word "self" to refer to two very different things). 

Anyway, I can see sense in the call to "get rid of aliens within the self," from a Buddhist perspective at least. In that respect, the space opera, the mythology of Scientology makes a little bit of sense to me.

Finally, okay, why not just use Freud, Mead, Lacan, Hermans and Kempen, to talk about the others that are within the self? I am not sure. But perhaps the stories that these "scientists" tell do not make the situation sound weird enough. Reading Mead (Mead is pretty down to earth sort of guy) it sounds all so common place and normal and rational that one should have a "generalised other" inside oneself. Perhaps the advantage of telling people that they are infested with aliens is that (like a parable) it drives home the idea that we, the listeners, should be doing something about it: we should be trying to get rid of them.

Posted by timtak at 06:42 PM | Comments (0)

The Mystery of the Mirror

I am reading a book in Japanese by Takano Youtarou called something like "The mystery of the mirror." In the book the author attempts to explain why reflections in mirros are right left reversed, and not up down reversed. He starts by summarising a lot of other explanations of why this phenomena occurs.

Then he says that there are two things going on. But before I say what he says is going on I will mention my own take, because I want to be able to say "I have told you so", and because I think that my take will be similar, and I want to see how similar it is, and because I think that I will say something a little different. I do think that mirrors are mysterious in a way, but more because I think that humans are mysterious or rather in error about themselves, ourselves. I am a sort of Buddhist. I think that there is a mistake going on in human consciousness, and perhaps mirrors are one way of getting to the nub of the human error.

Anway.... What about images in mirrors? Are they right left reversed, but not up and down reversed? Takano stress that mirrors are mysterious because they are right left, but not up down, reversed. First of all... 1) I have trouble ditinguishing my right and my left. When I am told to turn left or right, the first thing I do is look at my wrists, and see which side my watch is on and I know that is the left side, so I know which way to turn. I am not sure why I find it so difficult to tell which is right and left but I know I do. 2) I don't find the right left thing in mirrors very notable. It is almost like I feel it is obvious (even though I am sure that the author is right, it is mysterious). 3) I think that we don't really feel a "reversal" all the time. If I were to ask a hundred people, what appears strangely right left reversed in mirrors, then I think that there would be two answers that come up a lot. 3.1) The guy in the mirror (me) is wearing his watch on the other hand. 3.2) Writing is reversed in the mirror - mirror writing. at the same time, (3 continued) when I look at other things (other than myself and writing), e.g. a mirror showing what is behind me, I don't really feel that it is reversed. It looks quite normal, and unreversed. If it were displayed the other way around I would be inclined to think it strange.

The reversal feeling seems particularly strong for myself and writing but not for other things. So, it seems to me that writing and me body are particularly similar in having a reversal feeling about them. Going back to Takano Youtarou's book, I was surprised to find that he says that the secret to unravelling the mystery of the mirror is to realise that there are two things going on: one is when viewing oneself, another is when view letters (or rather these are the two examples that he uses). "Eh?" I thought. I have read a little bit futher, where he goes on to explain the first of the two mysteries, regarding viewing onself, and here I agree...He says that when viewing oneself ones right hand is on ones right in the mirror, and ones left hand is on ones left in the mirror but from the point of view of the "the guy in the mirror" it is reversed. This reversal he calls a bodily frame of reference. If we take the bodily frame of reference of the "guy in the mirror" then things might be assumed to be reversed, but they are not. Hmm...To be honest I thought that was the important point, and in a sense the only point. So I am not sure how he is going to say that letters are different. On the contrary it seems to me that letters and oneself are very simlar, as mentioned above. Letters and oneself are similar in that it is particularly these things that appear reversed. He says further, that unlike our bodies, letters are *really* reversed in the mirror. A "[" in a mirror looks like "]" so this is a more real reversal, than the right-left reversal that we feel occurs because we take the frame of reference of "the guy in the mirror." Okay the above is really as far as I have got in his book. First of all, with regard to myself in mirrors, It seems to me that I am up down reversed too.

Takano makes it clear that the mystery of the mirror is that we are right left reversed but not up down reversed. This was the first thing that I objected to in his book. The cover of his book shows a picture of someone standing on a mirror. The feet of the person standing on the mirror are toward the top of the book. Especially bearing that in mind, it seems strange to me that he should say that we are not up down reversed. It seems to me that whether I am standing on a mirror or not, when I look down toward my feet, at my torso and legs, my feet are toward the top of my visual field and my chest is towards the top of my visual field. I see a "Y" shape. When I look at at my torso and legs in a mirror, I see an upside down "Y" shape. This may not at first be obvious. This is the Y shape that I see when I look down at myself.
Y shape
And this is the reverse Y shape that I see when I look at myself in a mirror. I am not quite this fat. The width at the top is due to perspective (in the previous image)!
Y shape
When I look down at myself, I see something branching out toward the top of my visual field.

When I look in the mirror toward my legs, I see my legs branching out at the bottom of my visual field. Hence it seems to me that my view of myself in the mirror is reversed in the up-down axis as well as the right left axis. Having said that, I do not feel myself to be up-down reversed in a mirror. But then again, I do not feel myself to be right left reversed in a mirror either (perhaps because of my inability to tell left from right). Anyway, it seems to me that mirrors reverse me at least in the updown direction too.

Then when Takno says that letters are really reversed in the mirror I also have a problem. What does Takano mean by a letter? if you think of a letter on a page, then yes, letters in a mirror do seem reversed. But I have a three year old son that plays with plastic letter shapes. It seems to me that if you put plastic letter shapes in front of a mirror then they are not reversed at all. This is because one sees the rear of the plastic letters. An interesting thing about letters is that the usually, apart from the three year old's letter toys, usually only exist on planar surfaces of an opaque page. In order to make normal, written on a page, letters appear in a mirror, one has to turn the opaque surface around to point at the mirror. In turning the opaque surface around, one is reversing the letters. If on the other hand you write the letters on a piece of glass, or on the mirror itself then the letters are not reversed. A mirror is usually a piece of glass in front of a thin film of reflective surface (the "tain" of the mirror).

If you write on a mirror, the letters are not reversed. If you write on a page and then turn the page around then the letters are going to appear reversed because you have turned them around. Perhaps this is what Takano means by the assertion that the mystery of the mirror is different when applied to letters and ourselves. Perhaps he is right. All the same, it seems to me that the reason why we feel mirror letters are reversed is for the same reason that we feel our bodies are reversed: that we are positing a guy in the mirror. That is as about as far as I have got in my observations.

Posted by timtak at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

Bataille, sex and truth

I would like to write about sex and truth, but since I don't think that my ideas would be interesting enough to capture the attention of even an imaginary reader, I will attempt first of all to explain Bataille.

George Bataille was an unsual fellow. He studied ancient literature or something hard-nosed-academic but he wrote books about, among other things, sex. Sex? What does that mean? Before I attempt to explain Bataille's answer, there is a more mundane question as to whether "sex," refers to the act or the nouns: the male sex and the female sex. Alas, while the question appears mundane, and the two meanings of sex very different, in my limited understanding of Bataille, a French man, he does not make it clear which of these two meanings he is referring to. I am English. I like to be plain speaking, unlike those Frenchies. But in the following explanation of sex according to, my understanding of, Bataille these two meanings are not clearly separated.

Bataille says something like this...

An amoeba, or other non-sexual existence, can reproduce by division and has no clear beginning or end. On the other hand, sexual beings die. Our cells reproduce, but as sexed beings, we are individuated; we cannot just keep on going like an amoeba. Death and individuation is a product of sex. If we were not sexed, we would live forever, reproducing our selves, giving birth to ourselves, regenerating our cells and our being, ad infinitum.

The existence of sex is the basis of our individuation. However, Bataille claims, the act of sex allows us to return to our unindividuated state, and experience our 'death' as an individual.  As mentioned above, this argument seems to confuse the state with the act of sex. Even if our sexual state is responsible for our individuation, it does not necessarily follow that the sex act should result its dissolution. At the same time it is persuasive. It seems reasonable to admit that "sexual union" is more than a metaphor, and that in humans at least (with all that intertwining, banging, bonking and penetrating) something unifying is going on. Moreover, drawing on the French word for "orgasm" "le petit mort" or little death, Bataille argues that in sex we experience our death, the dissolution of our individuality. Less that we unite with our partner, more that it is not only the desire, but the very existence of both partners which is extinguish at sexual climax.

To sum, sex is a “little," or a little like, death. It is a return to an unindividuated state. I find myself very persuaded by this argument and what little I have to say is only a footnote.

I was reading a book, which is very popular in Japan about evolution and love. The author was trying to persuade readers that humans are attracted to those members of the opposite sex who seem most likely to be able to ensure the continuation of ones genes. There is nothing new in this theory and there is quite a lot of research to support it. I hear of studies purporting to show that men are on average more interested in young fertile women with broad fertile child-bearing hips and big fertile breasts, and women fancy men with strong protective bodies and big baby backing bank balances. So at first glance, those evolutionary psychologists are right: mojo merges with Darwin, our libido jives with our genes.

Perhaps it is because I am in Japan, the land of sleek, slender ladies, or because I am not heterosexual enough to appreciate the buxom, that I am not entirely convinced. Here in Japan, the ladies even go so far as to wrap themselves in layers of stiff fabric, called kimono that accentuates their sexy hipless-ness, and small, or at least non-bovine, bosoms. Japanese sex is sexier precisely because the procreative aspect is hidden. Wherefore Darwin-san?

In the light of the Japanese experience, is it really true that we want what our genes need to win the evolutionary baseball game?

Which brings me to the topic I wanted to write about: truth.

Truth is that which connects volition and action. When a person has the truth, then they are able to act in accordance with their volition. When they are deceived, and when they are in the dark, they are floundering.

One upshot of sex is that people want to be found attractive. This means that we want to behave in accordance with other people’s volition. Furthermore, since it is difficult to know what other people's volition is, it is very difficult to get to the truth. As the bangles song, "If he knew what she wants, he'd be giving it to her" highlights, it is very difficult to know what she/he wants. The existence of sex, the state, leads to a lot of untruth flying around. And that, it seems, may be its evolutionary advantage. The existance of sex brings untruth into the ball park of evolution.

To be continued.

Posted by timtak at 06:39 PM | Comments (0)

Susan Boyle

I cry when I watch Susan Boyle's audition for Briton's Got Talent. It was very well done. Her choice of song was excellent. The story of a woman who dreamed a dream only to find it torn apart  seemed to have been written by the lady herself.

The producers too set her up for a surprise. They filmed her stuffing sandwiches into her mouth. They gave her no advice on self presentation. While the two goons backstage acted out our better conscience, the audience and judges laughed derisively, and all but groaned at her self-introduction. They asked her questions designed to make a fool out of her aspiration, including, "Why hasn't it worked out so far, Susan?" as if to say, "Just look at yourself, granny, how do you expect to be a famous singer looking like that?"

And here lies the rub. <em>Susan Boyle does not look at her self</em>. Her friendly eyes look only outwards, at us the viewers. She is about as ego-involved in her body as my dog. She has a body, of course and she knows she has one, but she also knows it does not matter. For one reason or another, she has taken little interest in how it, her body, looks at all. Life she knows, 'is not a beauty contest.'

This is why I think we admire her so much. There are other not so beautiful singers. Mama Cass, of the Mamas and Papas, was big. Ella Fitzgerald was not all that hot to look at. Even that Canadian has a pretty weird nose. With a "workover" would Susan Boyle look all that different from her heroine, Elaine Page(58)? Truth be told, Ms. Boyle does not care.

I think that it is less the shock of "the fat lady sings," but the shock and awe at the disparity between the complete lack of narcissism -- the complete absense of visual self love -- and the depth of love, the longing, the hope that is expressed in Susan Boyle's voice. She sang a dream of being loved, of deserving to be loved, of being lovable. She sang that she still believed, even in the face of knowing that it is impossible.

We forgive this kind of, phono-vocal self love. We even approve of a one sided identification with only the phonological aspect of self -- indeed it only the voice that is deemed capable of being a self. Susan Boyle is not a fat lady singing, she is a song. It is as if her soul has arrived on stage, demanding, claiming her right to be loved and accepted.

A lot of commentators say that the message is "Don't judge the book the its cover!" I think that her message is a little more extreme; there is a book which has no cover. Ms. Boyd is living proof; soul exists. It is there for all to witness, the light and the life, the ressurection, on Youtube.

Posted by timtak at 06:39 PM | Comments (0)

Others in Self

There are several theories of the human psyche that posit the existences of an other with the self.
Sigmund Freud says that we have a superego that is an internalisation of out father.
Jacques Lacan says that we have an Other (capital "O") that is, somehow, language perhaps but evolves out of our (m)other. Mother? I find Lacan pretty opaque.
Mikhail Bakhtin writes about a super-addressee, a someone that is always addressed as even we communicate to others.
James Mead (by far the most common sensical of this bunch, but still not easy to grasp) says that we have, or I guess simulate, a general perspective on ourselves.
Christians believe that there is a God that is omnipresent even to our own minds I presume.
Hermans and Kempen are saying a similar thing to Mead except they feel that the various imaginary listeners that we internalise may not form a generalised other, but rather that we have dialogical encounters with a great many simulated friends.
Markus and Kitayama argue that the the self is interdependent, at least for the Japanese, with others, and our relationship with them, helping to form self.

I am not sure if it can be called a theory, but the founder of Scientology, LRH, spoke "Space Opera" about aliens invading the earth and human bodies. I have heard a recording of his jovial drawl, and amused approving sounds from his audience. I think that he must have been being allegorical. If so the notion that our bodies are in some sense invaded by aliens finds expression in the psychological theories above.

How about in fiction? In Star Trek there is a sort of pizza thing that attaches itself to people. I think that it attached itself to Dr. Spock. Dr. Spock was able to free himself of the parasitic, controlling, cranial pizza by flying towards a sun. In some episodes of Dr. Who there were some spiders that attached themselves to the backs of humans that they then controlled. Another "Dr. Who" book which starts at a point in time when the Daleks are in control the world. The Daleks add a sort of hat or collar to humans by which they can control them. The "Dr. Who" book starts by recounting how a particular  human kills himself in order that he is no longer a slave to the Daleks. In the Manga Paracyte (Kizeichuu), an alien rubber monster invades a young man's hand.

In Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzche speaks of a dwarf sitting on his shoulder. Numerous pirates have a parrot on their shoulder, for some reason. In Beyond the Pleasure Dome, the dwarf giant duo Master Blaster has the dwarf Master, sitting on the giant, Blaster's shoulders.

But I think that in most cases, stories can be out intra psychic others without specifically mentioning any penetration of the skull, or people sitting on other people's shoulders. The characters penetrate the story, and the story enters the viewers, and readers minds. In other words movies simply about people and their relationships can be re-enactments of the relationship that we have with ourselves.

Posted by timtak at 06:37 PM | Comments (0)

XGay, Spiritual Experience

The only time I have had a "spiritual" experience was when, about 20 years ago (or perhaps 15, I prefer to exaggerate) I found out that I was gay. Or rather that I was making myself gay.

The experience was in retrospect 'spiritual'. It certainly was not carnal: there was no sex act involved. It was certainly insane, crazy, out of this world. I 'lost my marbles'. At the time I said that sort of thing to myself; ' You have lost your marbles Tim'. But at the same time, like many people who are deemed 'insane' it seemed to me truer than the existance that I was supposed to live then, and indeed the one that I live now.

I was about 21 and entering society for the first time, working for a weapons manufacturer in the UK. I did not like my job. I read Nietzsche and Camus and wondered about 'the meaning of life.' I wrote a diary about my musings on the meaning of life and, generally, how meaningless life seemed to me.

And then one day when I was reading through my diary, it was as if the narrator caught up with him or herself (like "the drums in the deep" in scene in Balin's tomb of the "Lord of the Rings", or the end of "One Hundred Years of Solitude" By Gabriel Garcia Marquez).

And I had an experience where, it seemed to me, that the person that I always thought I am, indeed the person that I think I am now, was (is) but *a pupet made of words*. I found myself to be a ventriloquist that is identifying with his "dummy" (like "Magic" by William Goldman). I was (am) that "dummy" or puppet.

It seemed to me in a flash, that the person that I normally think is me, is nothing more than the hero of a novel. The heros of novels do not exist. I think that I exist. But all the while I am only the presumed subject of a narrative that 'I' speak 'to myself.'

But *not* to myself. Normally, when I say "What the heck are you doing posting this to your blog?" I think that I am talking to the same person that I think is doing the speaking - myself.

I am under the illusion not only that the enunciator is the enunciated (I am the one who speaks,
rather than something else is speak of me), but also that the listener is the same as as the
speaker (enuciator) and spoken of (enunciated). 

In that flash I realised that I was "talking off", that is to say that I was talking deliberately to be
overheard. Any what a thing I was overheard by...I was in the presence of something far bigger than little puppet me, a giant, a vast, true-me of immesurable proportions. That true me was (is!) male. But I was speaking "off" to it, itself, *as if it were a woman*. Particularly as if it were my own 'pet mother'.

When a child is lonely what does it do? Children often play with dolls or teddy bears. They cuddle their teddy bear, their doll. That is a strange behaviour in a sense because they are not asking teddy to cuddle them. One never or rarely sees a child trying to get the doll or teddy bear to hold it, the child, in its arms.Instead they hold the bear. They hug the bear to their chest and comfort it, even though it is they, the comforter that needs to be comforted. It is strange, in a sense, that there is not much of a demand for giant teddy bears. (Sort of "dutch mothers"?)

It seemed to me that I am a lonely child that has made a teddy bear, that is myself. I cuddle it. Or rather it myself I speak, and speaks, and demands to be cuddled. In that empty space of my consciousness a puppet or teddy bear made of words, creates itself or is created, so that it can be comforted. And creates a or permiates an atmosphere of a mother to comfort it. And all the while a faceless giant looks and listens on.

The realisation was sparked off by the realisation of my homosexuality. The puppet made of words insisted upon speaking 'off' to someone that would love it unconditionally, like a mother. I realised in that flash that I was making my giant, true-self into a woman. I was speaking 'off' to my true self as if that true self were a woman. In that realisation, I realised the game I was playing. I realised that I was making a woman of my giant self.

That this was why I was (am) homosexual. It was also the end of my homosexuality.

I realised that my giant self wanted a sort of obliteration. It wanted to end the charade.It wanted to stop having to listen to these moans and wimperings of a perpetual mummys boy and be, to put it politely, 'made love to.'

I am not sure if women want that. I am not sure if there is a "little death" (petit mort) for men or women at all. But that is what I felt I&#12288;wanted.

There is a tripartite relationship.

A giant man in drag holding a puppet made of words.
The woman that giant man is (by being in drag) pretending to be
The person that I am, the puppet, that thinks he speaks, and by speaking in a whining, way creates the woman, the veneer of "drag" (make up?! a wig?) on the giant.

All there "really" is, is the 'giant man-in-drag-holding-a-puppet-made-of-words'. But in my day to day life I am the puppet. I wonder if I still speak in such a way as to make the giant listen with a mother' ear, and make the giant wear womens clothes. I don't know.

I don't do homosexuality but, the experience, it was as true to me as the screen I see. It was truer than me as I still am. 


Posted by timtak at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)

Happiness tends to Zero

This post was inspired by the short film "Happiness Tends to Infinity," (recommended) by Yinka Selley.

I met an engineer in a design room in the Stanmore branch of Marconi Defence systems, a missile company at which I worked. The design room was a Porta Cabin and the interior decor rather bleak. The engineer sat behind one of those drawing boards equipped with a mechanical set-square-come-ruler-thing.

He moved it adroitly, across plans for missiles, I presume. Prior to working for Marconi, he had been in the Navy and had travelled the world. He had a different equation of happiness, which was based on one of Newton’s’ laws, the second I think. Newton's second law is often expressed as


or force equals mass times acceleration.

Of these the engineer equated force with happiness and velocity with materialistic states of being including health, and acceleration with changes in these states. I am not sure if how mass figured in the equation but perhaps it has something to do with attachment - the number of people with whom one shares things being a major, but not determining factor. The above equation can be rewritten as

Force = mass x (velocity2 - velocity1)/time

Which may be substituted for

Happiness = attachment x (state1 - state2)/time

In other words people feel happiness when they are “getting there”, but not when they have got there. Or that that states - such as being rich, being healthy, or whatever - do not himself or herself cause happiness or unhappiness. Happiness cannot be stored or accumulated. The engineer’s equation seemed quite plausible, at the time.

Bearing in mind that life tends to draw an arc, which ends in death, while on the rise our achievements bring us happiness as long as we do not achieve them, and in the longer term at least for the second part the general trend is down. Given a steady state, or one which is not changing much,

Happiness/Sadness = attachment * (state1 - state2)/time

If state1 = state2 then Happiness = 0

The engineer recommended marriage (this was the topic of our conversation, and how he had ended up in Stanmore) as a way of introducing waves (up and downs) into ones life, without which there would be no happiness, so he claimed.

Interestingly, this equation is almost the reverse of that proposed by Yinka Selley.

This does not mean that either is incorrect.

On the contrary, perhaps zero and infinity meet! In my limited experience of Buddhism the reduction of attachment is said to result in being ultimately free from suffering. This is pretty darn good. And sometimes accompanied by rapture. And, attachment and anticipation are clearly linked. I am not sure how.... perhaps attachment is anticipation frozen, or the attempt.

Posted by timtak at 06:26 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2004

Self-division and the Self

A colleague asked me about "Self-division" and the self today. In particular, why do some people like Lacan and Derrida claim that having a self, or being an individual leads to "Self-division"?

Here is the quote (I am very sorry that I do not know who it is a quote from...)
Though Derrida's work is widely read as a means of undermining Western power structures,  privileging the spoken text, with its reference to an elusive "transcendent," is common to all cultures, and the "violent" binary oppositions he identifies as attributes of Western philosophy are found in great many societies.  No doubt the stress on the individual in Western thought has exacerbated our self-division and produced a heightened emphasis on the "other," who defines us.

What is going on here? What is this "priveleging spoke text?" What has this to do with a reference to a transcendent, or to "stress on the individual"?

If it all sounds like gobbledigook, you are forgiven. What follows is my take on this French philosophy.

First of all, I do not like the way that Derrida, Lacan and other postmodernists choose to express themselves. They are not kind to their readers. I find their books very difficult to understand. They do not give me the impression that they are trying to make themselves understood. But at the same time, I think that the same postmodernists are better than most other philosophers at their job. They are vague, and possibly even deliberately convoluted but they get to points other philosophers do not reach.

In order to explain the above summary of Derrida, I use my poor understanding of Lacan.

According to Lacan the human as she arrives in the world is a pretty chaotic thing. Lacan says that there is no centre to the human being.

What human being is Lacan talking about? I am probably misunderstanding Lacan here, but for me, the human as he comes into the world, that Lacan is talking about, is the immediate world of experience. This "immediate world of experience" is not something that I should give even that name to. But following people like one Dr. Nishida, the "immediate world of experience" is experience before we have interpretted it at all. It is the "just is" of experience, the raw data. In Buddhist terms this raw data is perhaps "the buddha," or enlightenment. I would not want to put to much stress on this, because I am not certain but perhaps we are all born as Buddhas. That is to say that when we are babies we do not yet have, or believe in,  a lot of interpretations of our world. We simply experience our world.

And where are we in that experience? My Lacano-Buddhist answer is that we are not their at all, or we are that experience itself and that comes to the same thing. 

When I am awake I experience stuff. When I dream I experience stuff. When I shut my eyes I experience stuff. The world of my experience is full of something. The "something" that is for me the most apparent is my visual field. We can all see some thing now. It is roughly circular.

When I dream I know that I am not seeing anything outside of me. When I imagine the world I know that I am not seeing anything outside of me. But both my dreams and my imaginings bear a striking resemblance to the experience of the world. So much so that sometimes we don't even know that we are dreaming. I can shut my eyes and still imagine something that is almost identical to the thing that I see when my eyes are open. In both cases I see something like a screen, a round screen.

There is something round going on! Descartes could be sure of his existance but I am sure only of "there is something round." One may presume that there is something, a me, watching that round thing but I have never seen it (me). All I can be sure I have experienced is experience itself. All those that agree with Rene Descartes will be sure that there is a something else, themselves that is experiencing their experiences: an observer. This may be the case. But as far as I am concerned at least, I have not and I can not experience that experiencer. No matter how fast I turn my head, no matter how many mirrors I look into, not matter what I do, I only ever see my experience and not the person that is experiencing it.

The strange thing about experience is that we can say very little about it. For example one of the most poingant thing in my experience is color. For exampel I will soon be able to see the color red.  Yep, I can see it. One small area of the roundish screen that I am now looking at is red. We may agree on that. However the quality of the experience for me is not something that I can communicate to you. It definately has a quality but there is a chance that when I see red you see blue.  So long as we both agree that this is red and this is blue then we will call the experiences that we have as red and blue. I deliberately reversed them there. The actual experience that I have and the actual experience that you have is not something that either of us can talk about. And it seems to me that it is quite possible that the quality of my experience could be different from yours. We here that some people are color blind. They often do not know until they go for exams to be pilots. Color blindness tests show us that some people are unable to distinguish between two colors. But if the quality of red that I see were what you called blue it would make no difference. We would still call the same red thing red even though we were experiencing completely different things. Even that statement is not allowable though because there is no talking about my experience. I can convey nothing of the quality of my experience to you. I can say nothing of that experience even to myself. For me, red has a certain quality. I can never convey that quality to anyone. It is an unsayable. That is why one might say that the world of my experience is "chaotic." All of it is completely undescribable.

Okay so here we are experiencing our undescribable experiences. But are we even sure that there is anyone doing the experiencing? Lacan and Derrida say that we cannot be sure. Both you and I assume that there is someone in front of this circle of light but both you and I have only ever seen the experience and not ourselves.

Both of us however believe that there is something else other than our experience. Lacan seems to be saying that this is a mistake. We are that experience but all of us believe in something else that is experiencing.

According to Lacan we make this mistake in two ways. First of all look at our own bodies directly or in a mirror. Then we assume that the thing that is seeing this disk of light is visible person or image. Or at the very least inside that image. Another way that assume that we are infront of the disk by believing in language. It seems to stand to reason that if "I am experiencing a oval disk of light" then there is something called "I" that is doing the seeing. 

Lacan says however that this is a mistake. Not just "the person that I am cannot be reflected in a mirror" but there is no centre, no person to reflect. 

However, Lacan says, we all identify with something. This is a mistake that we all make. We all think that we either the person that we can imagine or the person that we refer to when we say "I."

Returning to Derrida. Derrida is fanatical about phonocentric language. This language that you can see is written. You can see it. But when you read the words that I am writing then you hear in your mind remembered phonemes. As you "pronounce" each word a silent sound is experience by you. As each word is sounded or read as soon as you move onto the next one the previous word has disappeared. Phonemes, remembered or otherwise, are like that. 

It is not clear to me whether Derrida puts the chicken first or the egg, but he says that the phonetic medium of language is particularly good at convincing us that we are it. The very fact that the phonetic sign is so good at disappearing, enables us to belive that is refer to who we really are.

It seems to me that I have been even more incomprehensible that Derrida! Ach. I forgive him. Almost.

Posted by timtak at 01:12 AM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2004

Meditation for beginners

If truth be known I meditate very little. This article is neither an account of my experience nor a recommendation to meditate, but merely an explanation of my understanding of what meditation is. Having made it clear that follows is merely my own understanding of meditation, so I will try and leave out clauses of the form "in my opinion," or "I think." Please take them as read.

There are all sorts of techniques for meditation. Using the term broadly one might include: the orthordox sitting meditation of zen and perhaps even TM, which may include counting of breaths, attempts to silence the mind or to seek the self, then there is chanting meditation of various kinds, meditation staring at a mandala, meditation staring at a statue of the buddha often accompanied by chanting, thinking about Zen koans (riddles), meditation with meaningful content such as thinking about the extent to which one is indebted to everyone and about ones death or illness, mediation involving physical contortion or movement such as Yoga and various dances or prostrations, Shinto meditation involving sitting under waterfalls, pretending that one is rowing on dry land.

The point of all these techniques is to experience "enlightenment:" to understand what the world is really like. The significant point about this "understanding" is however a negative one. That is not to say that it is a bad understanding, but one in which one understands the limits of ones understanding.

Meditation attempts to achieve that which Socrates claimed to be aiming for. He said that that the wise man is the man that knows how little he knows. And in this, Socrates hit the bullseye. Unfortunately the Socrates in Plato's books is a guy that ends up claiming that he knows a lot of things. Should you succeed in meditation, however, you will understand just how limited your understanding is.

Furthermore, and perhaps this is where meditation parts company with Socrates, "enlightenment," is not just realising that you don't know, it is also realising that what you thought you knew is incorrect. If you are successful at meditation then you will realise that all the things that you thought were true, were in fact a big lie, a fiction or illusion.  

Finally, as far as preamble goes, the "understanding" that one might achieve from meditation is not an intellectual one. It is an experience. In everyday life we are aware of the distinction between levels of understanding. For example, if you read a lot of books about golf and you really understand golf you will still not understand it experimentially. Or you might read theories of love (such as Eric Fromm's "The art of loving") but until you do it and have the experience then you won't understand what love is. Similarly reading this explanation of meditation, and even if I were in some sense right, and even if you, dear reader, agree then you will not have experienced the "understanding" that meditation gives. It is definately an experience and not something that you get from a book or blog.

Okay so what is the point of meditation?

The idea is that humans are all the time creating models of their world. We understand our world in human terms that is to say "relatively," relative to our human perspective. 

There are some examples of this relative thinking in the book "The little prince." The Little Prince meets an accountant that wants to know how much everything costs. The accountant only understand the world in terms of the bottom line. The Little Prince meets a king and the King only understand people in terms of whether they are his subject or not. To the King, people are either subjects or not subjects. The king is unable to see people in their massive variety, but only using his own measure "my subject or not."

Another way at getting towards an understanding of relative thinking is to consider the world as understood by a "simpler" form of life. This is only a thought experiment, because the situation in humans is perhaps even more deluded but we can wonder how does an earthworm undertstand the world? Perhaps in less dimensions? Perhaps in terms of things that can be suqiggled through and things that can not. How about a bat? Perhaps a bat understand the world in terms of things that bounce back sound and is ignorant of things (like the color of the setting sun) that do not. There is not way that we can enter the mind of a bat, cat or earthworm but perhaps we can appreciate that the world they understand is limited by their sense organs and their objectives. They probably ignore things that they are not interested in. They probably don't think that things that they cannot sense exist.

Another way of understanding "relative thinking" is to consider simplified languages. The philosopher "Wittenstien" brought this up in his later work. One of the main ways that we understand language is in terms of our language. And we are aware that some languages are highly simplified. For instance there are sign languages used by people in the army, or codes used by people at work, or playing sport. Taking the example of the soldiers' sign language, we might imagine that a soldier can say with movements of his fingers and fist, "flank from the right," "three enemy soldiers ahead," or "I am wounded." But lets say that on the battlefield he met his girlfriend and he wants to say "Sorry but I can't advance any further because I have just met someone I love and I need to protect them." Of course he would not be able to say that in soldier sign language. Or imagine a catcher in baseball trying to sign to a pitcher "Your zipper is undone." They will not be able to say what they want to say because the circumstances, the truth of the situation, is beyond the limits of their language. These examples are problems of communication. But if we understand the world by communicating to ourselves, by saying things to ourselves, then if our language is limited our ablity to understand is going to prevent us from saying, and understanding, how things really are.

One of the main things that meditation is trying to acheive is to make us overcome the limits of language. There are theories that meditation is only about overcoming the limits of language. I do not agree. But it seems clear that overcoming the limits of language is a main activity in meditation.

We do not normally feel that natural language, the type of language that I am writing now, is limited. We tend to feel that it can explain how things are. But what if our language is limited in really basic ways? For example in both of the languages that I speak there is a distinction between things that do things (subjects or objects) and verbs. What if this distinction is merely a limitation of my language? Of course I cannot think in other terms.

So a lot of meditation is aimed towards...destroying language. People who meditatie often chant, that is to say they repeat the same words over and over again. There was an English poet that said that he had an enlightening experience as a result of repeating his name over and over again. Many Buddhist in Japan repeat the name of their Buddha (rather like a god) over and over again. Others are given a phrase or a word, or a poem and they repeat it over and over again. By doing this meditation attempts to make us aware of the meaninglessness of what we are saying.

If the Little Prince asked the accountant to say his "bottom line" over and over again, "So I am worth ten dollars?" "Yes, you are worth ten dollars." "I am worth ten dollars?" "Yes, you are worth ten dollars." And so on, just by making him repeat it, enough times, the accountant might realise that he is being ridiculous, he is not seeing the wood from the trees. Or maybe the soldier on the battle field, trying to get his commander to realise that he has met his girlfriend might try using soldier sign language to say "There is someone here" to his commander. The commander signs back "Understood. Advance" and the soldier just keeps on repeating "There is someone here." Eventually someone clicks, that the language they are using does not measure up to the situation. They may realise that the language they are using is corrupted, broken, cannot capture the situation they are facing and then become aware of the truth beyond their language.

Thinking about riddles that have not answer (koans), repeating phrases that should mean a lot (like ones own name, or the name of the entity that one respects the most - the god or buddha) until one realises that the language that one is using is limited, meaningless or until that language breaks is one way that meditation attempts to make us aware of our "relative thinking."

"Silencing the mind," by counting ones breaths, or directly by thinking about what one is thinking and then trying to stop is a more direct method of turning off language and attempting to see the world beyond its bounds.

I don't think that meditation is only about stopping language. For the Westerner, preventing linguistic thought is probably very important. However there are other ways that we process the world that also might be "turned off." For example Buddhist claim that space is an illusion. We tend to think of the world as a three dimensional space. It may be because I think in language that I understand the world as a three dimensional space. But it may also be due to other frameworks that I foist upon the world.

My two eyes each provide me with a disk of tone and color, a picture. I presume that these two pictures are pictures of something "three dimensional" that is extended out before me. But I have never seen space. Space is my interpretation. The experience I am presented with is pressed right up against my nose. The space before the disks of light that are my visual field cannot, of course, be seen. Herein lies perhaps a hint to the meaning of staring at a mandala (please search for an image of one on the Internet): a mandala is a picture of the world without any perspective. It might give us a hint to that which is really in front of our eyes.

The Shinto method of meditation, of sitting underneath a waterfall, is perhaps in part an attempt to shut down our interpretative mechanism by a more direct means. If you sit with your head underneath a cold waterfall then there is a chance that your brain will stop organising the world into space and things and just see it as the disk of light and chaos of sounds and smells that it is.

The Shinto method of meditation that involves "rowing on dry land" is an attempt to break down the imaginary representation of the world that I have.  We do not only simulate the world in language, but in image too. As a look at this one sided disk of swirling light that is my visual field, that disc is all that I ever see. But I imagine that, from the point of view of someone sitting behind my monitor, they could see me. Even though I only ever see on disc (my visual field is a disc), I imagine that there is a visual world of form seen from all angles. I model the world from other viewpoints and imagine that there is somethign on this side of the disc. There is of course nothing that could be seen "looking at the disc." The conciousness that sees the disc is, in its most observable, the disc itself. In a sense, I am this disc that I am seeing. I can shut my eyes, or dream, or hallucinate and still see the same, or very similar visual field.  In these "illusory" cases, that of the dream, afterimage or hallucination, it is clear that I am only seeing a part of myself. But when I look at the world, I presume that I am seeing something "out there."

A common method of Shinto "meditation" or spiritual practice requires that I imagine myself in another situation, seated on a boat.The rowing action found in some shinto "misogi" (purification) is a bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. It is very difficult to row without an oar in ones hand. It is only by imagining myself sitting on a boat that I am able to "row." Thus by performing this excercise, by seeing in my minds eye an oar, a boat, the water, I am able to realise how it is an illusion that enables me to perform the task that I want to achieve: a rowing action. I am lead, by analogy of sorts, to realise that the imagination I have of their being a "me" in front of the disc that I am always looking at, is also a method of achieving a objective and not the truth of the situation. I am not on a boat rowing, likewise there is no "me" in front of this disc of light. Both are merely a means to achieve control of my body.

The "meaningful" methods of meditation, such as imagining ones death, are attempting to break down the motive for believing in the illusion that we have of the world, and to call that world view into question. The primal motive for believing in a "me," some entity that I imagine or speak of, is out of self love. I never see me. The word that I have for myself is but a word. I am however very attached to these images and words, for they are to me a way to love myself. By imagining my death, something that I would never really be able to experience, I can help myself to realise that the puppet that I love so much is both not a pleasant thing, and also an impossible thing.

Impossible because I can never die for myself. How can a consciousness be conscious of that which is after it is no longer conscious? The consciousness that I am can never become a corpse. Assuming I ever become a corpse, at that point I will be a consciousness no longer.  My death can never be a reality for the "true" self or consciousness. This sword cuts both ways. Meditation tells us that we will never die, and also that we were never alive, as we understand it, in the first place.

Did that make things any clearer?!

Posted by timtak at 12:48 AM | Comments (2)

March 29, 2004

Dr. Nick Bostrom is a Simulation

Dr. Nick Bostrom is a philosopher at Oxford university with interests in Anthropic Principle and the possibility that we are living in a computer simulation.

Nick Bostrom writes
"Many works of science fiction as well as some forecasts by serious technologists and futurologists predict that enormous amounts of computing power will be available in the future. Let us suppose for a moment that these predictions are correct. One thing that later generations might do with their super-powerful computers is run detailed simulations of their forebears or of people like their forebears. Because their computers would be so powerful, they could run a great many such simulations. Suppose that these simulated people are conscious. Then it could be the case that the vast majority of minds like ours do not belong to the original race but rather to people simulated by the advanced descendants of an original race. It is then possible to argue that, if this were the case, we would be rational to think that we are likely among the simulated minds rather than among the original biological ones. Therefore, if we don't think that we are currently living in a computer simulation, we are not entitled to believe that we will have descendants who will run lots of such simulations of their forebears. That is the basic idea. The rest of this paper will spell it out more carefully."

He concludes  "that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a posthuman stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation."

Dr. Bostrom also points out: "If we start running simulations, that would be very strong evidence against (1) and (2). That would leave us with only (3)."

Dr. Bostrom directs his attention to future generations that run simulations on non-biological computers. The entities that are simulated are encouraged to believe that they have real biological brains. Such simulated people would believe that they have one type of brain (a biological one) when in fact they have only a simulated brain which is the product of some kind of electronic supercomputer.

I will assume that Dr. Bostrom's reasoning is correct. I will not attempt to verify his reasoning but only to thresh out minor points regarding the nature of the simulating and simulated minds.

Details of the arguement that can be removed while still allowing the arguement to stand
It is pertinent to note first of all that the technology being used to simulate is not an issue. The computers possessed by future generations may be made of silicon, or they may be organic. The advances of genetic  engineering may well enable future generations to make biological computers. The technology being used would have no bearing upon the issue discussed by Dr. Bostrom's paper.

If the future generations are using biological computing technology then, it would not be a case of an electronic computer simulating minds that believe they have biological brains, but rather a biological computer (or brain) simulating people that believe that they have biological brains. The biological vs. silicon distinction is not one that that we need to stress.

And as Dr. Bostrom points out brains are not essential different from computers. Thus it does not effect Dr. Bostrom's arguement whether we call the hardware possessed by the future or forebear generations, "computers" or "brains."

As part of the proof of the likelihood that we are simulated brains, Dr. Bostrom requires that the future generations are capable of simulating a great number of their non simulated forebears. Dr. Bostrom seems to envisage future super computers running a great deal of simulations. However, in this age of the personal computer, it is not unreasonable to assume that the future generations use one piece of hardward for each simulated mind. The only stipulation is that they should be capable of making a very large number of such simulations.

It is also of note that intent is not particularly an issue either. Dr. Bostrom talks of future generations evolving to the stage where they are capable of "running" simulations, and this would suggest that they the simulations are created deliberately. There is nothing in the reasoning that asserts that the brains need to have been created deliberately.

It does not seem to be an issue whether the future generations have themselves become extinct or not. If the future generations have become extinct then this increases the likelihood that we are simulated rather than real.

While Dr. Bostrom hypothesises a situation in which a future race simulates their forebears using supercomputers, combining the last two points above it does not seem to affect the arguement if the simulation is being carried out by computers, possibly organic ones.

Those parts of the arguement that are essential
Having removed some of what I hope are non-essential parts of Dr. Bostrom's hypothesis, it is necessary to recap and clarify the types of situations that might be occuring.

Dr. Bostrom argues that whatever the situations there are minds and brains. Calling on the principle of "substrate independence," he argues that minds are run on hardware irrespective of the hardware type. This being the case, it is not clear whether minds are by their nature "simulated" entities, and whether this impacts on their existance. I will leave this question aside and merely point out that there are always mind-brain paris.

As a point of departure we may point to the following types mind-brain situations that we might find ourselves to be in.

1) Real forebears with minds and brains.
2) Simulated forebears with minds and simulated brains.
3) Real subquent generation simulating brains (computers) that are runing programs to simulating those in situation 2.
4) Real subsequent generations with minds and brains, that possess and control computers as described in (3).

As previously noted, it is does not necessary that the simulating computer-brains have masters,(4) so I will ignore them from the following discussion. Additionally on closer examination, the mind-brain situations (2) and (3) above are identical. So the question as to whether we are simulated becomes.

(1') Are we minds of real brain hardware
(2') Are we minds of simulated brains being run on simulating machines

Dr. Bostrom uses the pertinent analogy of the "java virtual machine". Java is a computer language that runs on a virtual, or simulated computer. The question as to whether we are simulated or not is rather similar to asking whether we are java programs or assembly language programs, the latter being programs that run on real machines. ]

He also asserts, as noted above that if we start running simulations, that would be very strong evidence that we are simulations. He is thinking of electronic simulations. At the present time our electronic simulation technology is not such that they are very convincing, yet. They are slowly getting that way, and it is partly the ability of computers to create convincing simulations that has lead to the increase in speculation that simuation may occur in the future, and that it may be already occuring now.

However, while our computer simulation technology is certainly advancing, we are aware that biological simulation technology is more advanced. We are aware that we dream and that our dreams are sometimes convincing simulations. Hence we are aware that a highly evolved simulation technology already exists.

Thus, if Dr. Bolstrom's reasoning is correct we should assume that we are the simulated brains running on virtual machines within biological computers.

Hence, Dr. Nick Bolstrom, and I, are very likely to be simulations and we should behave accordingly.  

Posted by timtak at 01:55 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2004

The Anthropic Ends of Science

Recently in the fields of cosmology and philosophy there are a lot of scientists and philosophers getting revved up about the anthropic argument.

The anthropic arguement (or rather arguements, since there are many of them) start from the assertion that the universe seems to be "finely tuned" for human life. In otherwords, had any of the 20 or so contstants of the physical universe been very slightly different, then there would not have been the conditions for life.

There are a number of papers on the Internet that describe the ways in which the universe appears to be  finely tuned, this excellent site introduces most of them indetail and this excellent summary covers the main ones.

Scientists and theologians give a number of explanations as to the reason for this apparent fine tuning.

In the physics and cosmology community there has been a tendency to explain the lucky chance of fine tuning through the assertion that this universe is only one of very many universes, perhaps an infinite number. And in most of the others life did not arise. We should not however be surprised, they argue, that there was one universe in which there exists the conditions for life. The assertion that there are  an infinite number of universes raises problems of its own. But, nonetheless, "the multiverse," hypothesis tends to be the response of the scientific community.

On the other hand, a great number of Christian theologians, are very pleasantly surprised by the recognititon of "fine tuning," and use it as proof that they were right all along. This paper, by a Dr Hugh Ross, a Christian, describes 16 ways in which the Universe was fine tuned to be a "fit habitat" for us to exist. Dr. Ross claims that the only way that this coincidence could have happened is if there were a divine intelligence at work creating a universe tuned to our needs.

Another way of refuting the fortutious-ness of the universe is to describe it in terms of "an observer effect." In other words, had the universe not been such as to support observers, then there would not have been anyone around observe the universe and note upon, or be thankful for the lucky chance.  Hence, in a sense, some argue, the universe could not have been any other way. The majority of the scientific community however, reject this arguement asserting that there could have been universes that did not become aware of their own existance by nurturing life. Hence, it is argued, it remains fortuitous that this universe is one which is observed.

Nonetheless, arguement in support of some sort of observer effect is quite strong. The fact that that the universe is fine tuned to our needs sure has something to do with the fact that we are the ones that is observing it. But what?

It seems quite possible to explain the fine tuning of the universe based upon the Buddhist assertions that the universe is illusory. Another way of putting this is to assert a Strong Athropic Principle, as a Strong Observation Effect: the universe is the product of observation, it is an observable world.

According to my understanding of the Buddhist world view, what we call "the universe" is described as being an illusion, due to the fact that it is "relative", or an anthropic interpretation of something more complex. Thus what we call "the universe" exists ony as one point of view and is not itself the ultimate reality. Hence, the answer as to why the universe is finely tuned would then become a direct product of the strong observer effect; we are observing an observable universe because "the universe" is an observation.
Mathematically, perhaps, is rather similar to the "multiple universe," answer to why the universe appears to be finely tuned, except that instead of proposing that there are many other universes existing lifelessly elsewhere, those other universe exist here all around us as aspects of the same ultimate reality that we cannot observe.  Under this interpretation, that which we call "The universe" becomes, not one real possible world among many, but our "observational world," our "interpretation of", our "handle upon," a reality which is far more complex.  Since our universe is only an observation, and not the ultimate reality, there is nothing in the slightest surprising about the fact that it is observable.

I find the Anthropic Arguement quite shocking because it seems to me to signal the end of science as we know it. Most scientists like to believe that they are unvieling being. And in a sense they are. But the existance of fortutious coincidences should encourage them to belive that their unvieling processes is radically bounded by the nature of human powers of observation, and that the universe they hae in their hands at the moment is only a theory about the universe and not "the real thing".

Very few people are aware of the relativity of their view of the world, so this is not only the problem of scientists, of course.


Posted by timtak at 07:38 PM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2004

Einstein was Batty

As mentioned in a previous entry, science started to puzzle me when I was told that nothing could travel faster than the speed of light. This seemed to be particularly fortuitous since light happens to be the medium of our fastest sense.

Science purports to tell us about the universe, about the whole of everything in all its possibilities.  It thus seemed very strange to me that the universe in entirity should have a speed limit. Even if electro-magnetic waves can not travel faster than a certain speed surely there should be other waves, or things that move with a non-wave-like motion, perhaps with an "arfdarf" motion, should be able to move faster than light. Or even if matter cannot travel faster than like then shouldn't there be some "smatter," with an entirely different composition, that can travel faster than the speed of light. One would think that in the universe, there should be possibilities for a lot more than the theory of relativity  allows.

I am purposefully using nonsense words, like "arfdarf" and "smatter" since I wish to refer to things that we have not yet, and perhaps even cannot ever observe, or concieve of. If science is describing the whole of everything, then the rules it proposes should be big enough to cope with things that are beyond our understanding. But science insists that the fastest speed that *anything* can travel is the speed of light. Does this sound plausible?

The fact that we have an organ for sensing the fastest thing in the universe seems is a little strange. Dogs may rely on their sense of smell, bats upon sonar, but humans rely on a sense organ that uses the fastest medium in the universe. I am not sure what evolution will hold in store for the human race over the coming eons, but it would seem that in terms of our choice of sense medium, we are at the pinnacle of the possible.

This strikes me as being rather fortuitous. It also raises another possibility. Is it not possible that, rather than assuming that light travelling at the speed limit of the universe, we may instead postulate that light only travells at the speed limit of the universe that we may select. Perhaps there are lots of things that travel faster than light but we are simply not able to sense them. Not so fast....

Einstein's equations are both predictive and applied. The theory of relativity predicted the existance of compacted "neutron stars" at the end of their life. These were first observed in 1967, more than 50 years after Einstien put pen to paper. And Einstein's equations were used in the making of the atomic bombs that killed so many inhabitants of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The theory of relativity is not one which can simply be shrugged off because the theory stands as a foundation of who we understand the universe.

Imagine Einstein was a Bat

Imagine the cosmology of a bat, assuming that the bat is blind, and that it is using sound waves to judge the distances between itself and the nearest objects in its universe. The bat is of course unable to see light.

Since (let us assume at least) bats are unable to sense anything that moves faster than sound, bullets and other things that travel faster than sound, must be difficult for bats to comprehend. The bat scientists might postulate that their brethren are liable to spontaneously explode when in the presence of human's with steel sticks. 

Or perhaps not? Would they realise that some things travel faster than the speed of sound? That would depend upon how they understood their universe, whether or not they understood it in a "batty" way.

A "batty way" of seeing the world is one which is based upon a sonar screen view of the world, where being sonar-detectable has conditioned the way that matter, time and space and velocity is understood. In this batty world view, matter, that which exists, would be defined in terms of its sonar-detectability. This is not to say that everything in their world shows up on the sonar screen. If the bats bumped into sheets of silk that do not reflect sound then the bats may presume that there are somethings that are sonar transparent. But these "sound-transparent" things will be understood upon the metaphor of other objects that do appear on the sonar screen. Other things, such as the colours of the setting sun, things that Bats will never become aware of, will not be given existance in their batty science. In other words, in a batty sceince, their understanding of space and matter would be governed by being detectable by sonar, and sonar-detectability will have got in at the ground floor of their world view.

We are told that, when Einstein was 16, in 1895, he asked himself a question which was to lead to the discovery of relativity.

"If I pursue a beam of light with the velocity c I should observe such a beam of light as a spatially oscillatory electromagnetic field at rest. However, there seems to be no such thing, whether on the basis of experience or according to [the theory of electricity and magnetism]. From the very beginning it appeared to me intuitively clear that, judged from the standpoint of such an observer, everything would have to happen according to the same laws as for an observer who, relative to the earth, was at rest. For how, otherwise, should the first observer know, i.e.. be able to determine, that he is in a state of uniform motion?"

If we look carefully at this statement we can see that, while Einstein mentions field theory in passing it is not field theory that is the basis for his initial observations. The thrust of the arguement is based upon intuitive assessment of the conditions for observation, experience, and determinability.

Einstien's argument can be re-written from the point of view of a bat. If a bat flying at the speed of sound where to attempt to 'look' at the sound he were flying alongside, he would like Einstein say "there is no such thing," "on the basis of experience." Again, for the bat also, it would appear "intuitively clear that everying would have to happen according to the same laws as for a bat who was at rest. For how else would the nearly supersonic bat know, *i.e. be able to determine,* that he is flying so fast." As we can see, for the bat and for Einstien, the possibility of going at speed depends upon the determinability of that speed. And for determinability, both the bat and Einstein can only appeal to their best methods of determining.

This is not  a problem faced only by bats and Einstien. Einstien certainly did not create the problem. We all understand the world in terms of how we observer it. Einstien became aware of the fact observability was getting in at the ground floor of our understanding of space and time. Once we realise that our "space" is a light observable space, then it becomes apparent that some strange things will have to happen to objects that fly at close to the speed of the medium (light, sound) that is defining space, and speed itself. At speeds close to the medium that was used to define space and speed, then there will enevitably be the sort of bending of mass and time as described by Einstien.

But what I would like to assert is that this bending takes place in the "observable world" of the observer, because it the direct result of an observation effect. "The universe" being defined by Einstien and modern scientists is an observable world, or a humans' eye view.

That being the case then, we can ask "what would happen if we move a bat (or Einstien) faster than the speed of sound (or light)?" While it is very difficult to move at anything like the speed of light, it would be quite easy to move the poor unsuspecting bat at speeds seven times that of sound.  The bat, of course, would not be able to tell what is happening to him. It might even seem to the bat as if time stood still, or the bat is flying back in time, as it caught up with sounds that had flown off into the distance. To the bat, it would be a very mind expanding experience, that will not make sense to the bat. However the bat would make it to familiar places fast.

I do not think that it will ever be possible to accerate humans to speeds anything close to that of the speed of light. However if Einstien's theory is an observational effect then by comparison with the bat, in theory at least "hyperspace" is perhaps possible.


I read years later that Einstien knew he was batty. He gained inspiration for his theory of relativity from Ernst Mach, of Headless picture fame, who said (in his "the science of Mechanics) "Nature is composed of sensations as its elements.... Sensations are not signs of things; but, on the contrary, a thing is a thought-symbol for a compound sensation of relative fixedness. Properly speaking the world is not composed of "things" as its elements, but of colors, tones, pressures, spaces, times, in short what we ordinarily call individual sensations." (p. 579)
I.e. Einstien was aware that nothing goes faster light not because there is any speed limit of any kind, but because nothing goes faster than sensations, because that is what the world is. The world that does not faster than light is the world of sensations, it is our batty, human world.

It also occurs to me now, in 2012, that if special relativity is a batty, "sensational" effect then there should be some apparent retrocausality around. Consider the world of bats. Occasionally bats get shot by bullets traveling faster that sound. In the disucssion above I suggested that bats might "postulate that their brethren are liable to spontaneously explode when in the presence of human's with steel sticks," but they would also sonar the movement of the gun, and hear the bang as it goes off, *after* one of their brethren has been blow away. I.e. from a bat's point of view, there appears to be retrocausality, effects preceeding causes. On this batty "sensational" view of relativity, one would expect there to be some retrocausility occuring in our world too. Why isn't there more "spooky action at a distance"?   

It could be that retrocausal events are rare, just as bullets are rare in the world of bats. Or that there are retrocausal events but we are not noticing them, believing the events to be independent. Or it could be that we really are lucky enough to be able to percieve the fastest stuff in the universe, but that strikes me as being as implausible as the existence of god. Indeed a "sensational" theory of special relativity, in the absense of retrocausality, might even be used as a proof of the existance of god. If special relativity is based on the limits of our senses, and there are no retrocausal events occuring, then we really are at the limit, seeing the whole of the universe. Man would be the measure of all things. That we, an evolutionary blink away from goats, should be so lucky almost suggests divine intervention! My money is on the existence of superluminal hidden variables, such as "pilot waves."

That Einstien read Mach:
The above quote from Mach

Related Books and Articles
Albert Einstein "Relativity: The special and General Theory"
David M. Harrison "Special Theory of Relativity" (a superb introduction)
Thomas Nagel What is it like to be a bat?   [From The Philosophical Review LXXXIII, 4 (October 1974): 435-50.]
Sadly this article does not address relativity but it does address the problem of explaining things that are beyond the listener's power to observe.

Posted by timtak at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2004

Preposterous Vanity

While I am fan of science there are some things about the scientific outlook that I find rather absurd or arrogant. I call this the following the arguement from humility. It is not my own. I first read about it in more than one aphorism of Friedrich Nietzsche.

(I) Science generally upholds a principle of non-contradition.

(II) Science demonstrates to us that humans are *uttterly* insignificant when compared to the universe. Science demonstrates we are in our size, our similarity to other things numerous, the time we have existed, and the fortuitousness of our existance, *utterly* insignificant.

Spatially, science tells us that we are extremely small. If the solar system were scaled down to the size of a house, then the earth would be much smaller than a grain of sand. But, we are told the solar system is itself a spec within the galaxy and the galaxy but a spec within the universe.

Temporally, we are also, apparently tiny in terms of the length of human history to date. If the life of the world were compressed to 24 hours then the arrivale of humans would occur three seconds before midnight. Compared to the age of the world the life of any individual human is of course fleeting in the extreme.  It is no surprise then that the world view of youngers (the basic tenets of scienc