Monday, December 30, 2013


Quickly, and as a year-ender for 2013:

According to my records, this is my 300th post on this "blog".

I started keeping this journal as part of a social exercise with the two Michaels, back in 2005 - we kept it going for a couple of years and then it waned and quit. But I came back! I changed the name and url a few times, but it's the same journal as from the start, although without the social aspect (aka "other people reading what I write") my entries have gotten longer and more self-involved/thoughtful. So there's that. This stupid blogspot blog has become my personal journal, for better or worse.

So, 300 posts. That's enough for some statistical analysis; it's enough just to look at some plots:

You can see where the Everyone-Is-Dead flame sputtered out through 2008, and where it rekindled with my lonely "internet phase", during the lonely Boston Spring of 2010. The big boost last year, at the beginning of which I renamed the journal XUEXIXS, or HAZ, was a conscious effort to recharge my writing, get my thoughts out on paper more frequently, as I perceived - well, I felt like my mind was withering away. It worked! It also means that the large majority of what's been written on this blog, in word count especially (if you haven't noticed, I get lengthy when no one is reading), has been written in the past 2 years.

Here's something nice: a year-averaged chart, showing the average of an "activity index" I came up with (basically the ratio of a month's activity to the past 12 months average activity; the axes are unitless, so unlabeled) - I seem to become more active in late spring, holding on through the summer, and fading through the winter. That is definitely how certain aspects of my productivity seem to work - my on-paper productivity accelerates as winter ends, while my hands-on productivity tends to increase in the fall.

[posts by day]

I'm not sure if there's a plot there or not. It's easier to get the monthly counts out of this site than the dates-per-plot, but if I succeeded, there's a polar histogram of days there. What day/s does it peak on? I can't dare to make a prediction. But I will predict: Tuesday. It peaks on Tuesdays.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

something which seems to be true

Where D is distance between the subscripted cities, indicated by their airport codes, r is the radius of the earth, and p is population of the subscripted city.

Since I realized this, I've felt much more conflicted about my coming trip. Separated from my wife for what might be 6 months, in what is by the above measures the most distant city on earth from where I am now (of comparable or larger size). On the other hand, maybe it's symbolic of escape from a long feeling of being trapped - not with the wife, but with the job. Kind of proves I am free, and at the same time there's a cost. There's no cost function in these equations...

The first one was my first thought, just looking at distance weighted by whether the city population is at least as big as Boston's. Melbourne is top there, though Sydney is very close - finding different estimates for population makes the difference, but I think I'm using good numbers - Boston's 'metro' population and Melbourne's similar extent both include 4.2 million people.

The second function is more specific obviously, excluding cities that are larger or smaller, and maybe it's a little more comfortable, but I do prefer the first one.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

meaning and filling-in

Something I've been meaning to write about for a couple of weeks now: object meaning as filling-in, and how this idea is the explanation for cases of deja trompe.

We return to the idea that the visual field is a stack of properties that develop from one another along a relatively rigid hierarchy. So, a certain configuration of brightnesses, which can be seen as such (as brightnesses, or darknesses, or colors), can also be seen as an edge or some other broadband feature. In fact, given certain configurations of colors, given broadband percepts are compulsory and there is no choice but to see them. However, they do not exclude the more local aspects that seem to compose the features. From edges we go to surfaces and depths, and from there to objects and meanings and utilities.

All these levels of the visual hierarchy are experienced simultaneously and constitute conscious qualia - we are experientially aware of points of color or brightness, and we are aware of edges and lines independent of the surfaces they bound, and we are aware of surfaces independent of the objects the bound, and we are aware of objects (in the sense of depthful 'thingness') independent of the meanings they bound (what they "are"). But the independence of these qualia exists only in their separability, because in normal experience they are not causally independent - when a given configuration exists, the other levels are evoked compulsorily, and so qualia are correlated between levels.

Illusion often consists of violations of these correlations. So, we will see illusory contours where there are no variations in color or brightness to constitute them. Deja trompe, as I have described it, is seeing an object as something other than what it "is", and doing so repeatedly, involuntarily, and being aware of this repeated mistake (this is the literal meaning of the term). In the case of illusory contours, the normal correlation or association between patterns of color and edges can make one feel that something at that level is seen, i.e. that there are color or brightness qualia there, though I don't see them (what I see is an edge without any color variation). On the other hand, we certainly see the colors in the watercolor illusion, or in other filling-in effects, so it seems that it does happen that we can be tricked into generating qualia without the normal hierarchical causes, both up and down (and within) the hierarchy.

In seeing an object for something that it is not, what is happening? When I walk through the hallway to the kitchen, and see my cat sitting on the floor in one of her usual spots, looking up at me as I pass, only to realize in a fraction of a second that no, that's not my cat, those are my boots - what am I actually seeing, during the duration of the mistake? I see something there, a thing with similar color and size and shape as a cat or a pair of boots, and in a suitable location for either. So, am I seeing a cat, and then seeing a pair of boots? Or am I seeing a pair of boots, and thinking it's a cat, and then thinking it's a pair of boots? Or am I seeing something indeterminate and relatively formless, that can be either thing (deja trompe is really a creature of peripheral vision, so crowding is of course a thing)? What is seeing? What is thinking it is?

Obviously, I have an opinion. And, being a kind of expert in this sort of thing, it's an informed opinion. I think that seeing boots for cat, my low-level qualia are entirely boots-driven, so in that sense, I am seeing boots. If you put the boots and the cat side by side at the same location in the visual field, I am confident that I could discriminate them, though there's a test there. Actually, that's a nice idea: take the objects that are confused in a deja trompe, and measure their actual discriminability. So it could be that they are relatively indiscriminable, and what is seen is relatively indeterminate and formless.

Actually, whether the low-level qualia are distinctly bootslike or indeterminate doesn't matter much to my interpretation, just shifts things around a little. What is certainly not happening is that the low level qualia are going from being more catlike to more bootslike, or that they are changing at all. That is the striking thing here: that the low-level qualia do not change, although they seem to change, in what is either a metacognitive or memorial judgment. What is changing is the meaning of what is seen, and that is what is so interesting here. Because the low-level qualia are not sufficiently specifying the identity of the object, it is briefly mis-specified, something which almost never happens in normal visual experience. Once you know what something is, you virtually never mistake it for something else, except in cases where you do, and when that happens you note it or mention it to whoever else is in the room, because it's so surprising.

When it happens, deja trompe gives a strong impression that what is seen is changing from one thing to another. However, it only makes sense that this is happening at the highest levels. The lower-level qualia, I will maintain (when given the chance) are more determined by the sensory input, and the later qualia are determined by the lower-level qualia (and certainly also by other mechanisms that do not present themselves in consciousness). So, through this chain, errors or lack of specificity can build up, and you wind up with a mistake, at the top.

What it comes down to is that meaning, i.e. what a thing is, is a sort of filling-in, where in exactly the same way as the watercolor effect, but much more solidly and more vigorously, the multi-level boundaries of an object prompt it to be visually filled with meaning. I mean this literally, and I think it is obviously true: when you see a scene filled with objects, all of which you recognize, their identities are there within, in the same locations as the objects. So an object made of a certain size, and in a certain spatial location, and colored black and brown, is painted with bootsness, and that is what makes it boots. If I mis-paint it as cat, that is what makes it cat - nothing about the lower-level qualia, the shapes or the colors or the general configuration of the object's visual structure, are really directly associated with that meaning. You can destroy certain parts of my brain, and I will still see things as objects, but I won't know what they are.

So, these instances of mistakes in identification are interesting in how they reveal the dissociation between objects in themselves, and objects as they have meaning. An object in itself is still a perceptual construct, but it is meaningless. It only as existence in relation to other perceptual constructs. This is a middle place between the physical stuff to which the object presumably refers, and which is even more meaningless in that it has no relations at all to other stuff - there is simply stuff, and any effort to clump it into this stuff or that stuff is exactly that: effort, something done by an agent. So the object in itself is the way the brain deals that stuff into a usable form, and the meaning of the object, what the object is, is the set of all known relations of the object in higher levels: past and future, the stuff of cogitation and memory, beyond perception that exists only in the immediate moment.

That's enough of this. Just been thinking about these things on the train lately, needed to get it out of my system (or at least articulate it into something interesting - the discrimination experiment based on actual instances of deja trompe might actually be a good idea).

Thursday, December 05, 2013

well well well

lots to write, and trouble writing. i think writing is hard in the winter. april to september seems to be my golden writing time, winter is the time for experiments. don't really have much going on at the moment in that domain - trying to set up a thing, but i already know it's not going to go anywhere, which saps the motivation.

but more broadly, i am going places. first, to melbourne, australia. finally have a chance to put my money where my mouth is with all the consciousness business - a six month stint in the big leagues. not going to break in, and i already have a new minor league job set up after this thing is over, in madison wisconsin (shouldn't jinx it - nothing in writing yet, but it seems like a good deal). so life is finally changing. i've felt happy several times this week, it was interesting. the only real anxiety, aside from nervousness at seeming foolish when i interact with these neuroscience people in melbourne, is with leaving my wife alone in america for half a year, when we both want to be together and make progress on you know what.

anyways, that's getting personal. but it's all wrapped up together, life and work and study, everything. i think this is best - the best thing, or sequences of things, that i can do. as of this summer, god willing, we will have new lives in a new place, and a few years of new stability, and new ways to imagine the future. i am getting a reversal in a particular feeling i usually have, a reversal i haven't had in many years, i think: that i'm fooling *them*, rather than fooling *myself*. for once, i must take advantage of this state of affairs. stop backing down, and go seize some opportunities for once.

see if you do it. report back here in december of 2014. i expect great progress.

(random other notes: headaches getting more frequent lately. woke up with one today, maybe tripped by dehydration, but also been seeing distracting afterimages and pseudoscotomas for days. no aura in almost 6 months though. may be past those days? now just little specky spotty auras? i'll be sad if they never return..)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

lazy tuesday monocular

spent the last few hours with a patch over one eye. a bit bored and depressed, figured why not?

1. noise, of course. the noise is very interesting, and if i stare at one point for more than a few seconds, strong rivalry begins. the noise is very fine grained, at the limit of resolution, but has strong lower frequency structure, 1cpd or less. it oscillates and swirls, like fine sediment in water or mist when you wave your hand through it. interesting. it gets stronger when looking (with uncovered eye) at something very high contrast.

2. false double vision. if i'm fixating the screen, as now, and bring up a finger in front of my face, it is confusingly not transparent or doubled. yet, it feels as though it is. my left eye, covered, is open all this time, and apparently i have a strong, strong expectation of double vision even when monocular. one thing that keeps happening is that if, as i often do (especially when tired), i start to gaze into the distance behind my screen, a condition where usually the screen would slide into diplopia, i still have the sensation of the diplopia slide, despite having only one eye's view. it's a very strange sensation, of the field sliding while not moving at all. hard to describe.

3. false motion. there's a spot in the eyepatch, about 30 degrees or more above and left of straight ahead, where a bit of light creeps in, so there's a spot there. when i move my eyes around, the spot seems to move back and forth. of course, it's just my eye moving back and forth, but its motion isn't being 'cancelled' in the same way as motion in the uncovered eye, i.e. saccadic suppression doesn't seem to be working over there.

the noisy view from the covered eye is different between fovea and periphery. it's similar to what i've described in other entries about the intrinsic light, how it seems clustered and of a different brightness - even opposite polarity - than the surround.

at times the noise is overwhelming, especially when fixating - it mixes and almost seems to average together with the scene. i'm going to go home now, see if i can keep this up while walking around outside.

trip home was uneventful, just uncomfortable. i was wondering if i'd get sick on the train, but nothing like that; instead, the constricted visual field, and noisy monocularity of the remaining field, made everything seem closed in, like the whole world was crammed into my face. not sure i can chalk that up to loss of depth perception, but it was in a way a much smaller, flatter world. claustrophobic.

when i got home, i took off the eyepatch while looking at jingping, to see if she'd notice anything odd. for the first second or so, i couldn't fuse the scene, but then it came together. still, there was an uneasy feeling that i was going to lose fusion, and i even tried to provoke it, but everything stayed together. the contrast aftereffect was surprisingly minor; the luminance aftereffect (it was dark under the patch) was more sustained.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

vision and light

top 10 total disconnects between light and vision

1. symmetric encoding of more versus less flux. actually, more neural response to darkness than brightness. neural silence is encoded as a neutral gray. so, a domain of natural numbers, i.e. numbers of photons, is mapped to a U-shaped function of neural response. no, not even a U-shaped function. see Whittle.

2. nonsensical encoding of the EM spectrum. the visible spectrum, continuous linear change in photon energy, wrapped around in a circle? red next to blue? clearly no idea.

3. color constancy and the Adelson illusion.

4. mach bands and phosphenes don't count. these are reasonable side-effects of having a system processing things. you can see the corners of the system, or you can bump it around. no harm here.

i am taking suggestions:::

Sunday, November 03, 2013


okay, that last thing was a little embarrassing. i'm going to leave it there as punishment, and also because i keep deleting entries and it's a bad habit. why do something you're just going to cancel out? i'm not some buddhist monk drawing sand mandalas. need to be a bit more selective. always the problem. this one's getting embarrassing too, be careful!

okay, nearly done with the applications. why is it taking so long? losing enthusiasm, i guess. excited at first, not anymore. considering other options.

not much else. paper stasis, no new data lately. just wanted to push that halloween poem off the top. mission accomplished.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

random thursday afternoon

how long til i know who i am?
is there still time?
all this time
going with the course of things
carried on, steering sometimes
often not
halfway through, or a third, or at the end
how can i know?
i know.

i like the line,
a mistake
auditory illusion
'pocket full of soap'
a meaningless idea
leads to thoughts of meaning applied to meaninglessness
drunk after a halloween party
office party
thing of fiction

i want to talk
i want to dance
but i can't
how can i?
dream of moments in the future
happiness at last!
a moment in a dream
go with the course of things
or steer?
how can i know?
isn't steering part of the course?

if i think about it long enough
i start to believe i know already
if only i could tell me what i know

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

no labels


basically finished a new paper, a few ideas in there that i'm not sure are properly defined, but hoping my coauthor or some reviewers can help get things in line. hoping i can submit it somewhere within a few weeks; if so, will be the fastest turnover from study inception to publication that i've achieved yet (started this work last December).

supposed to give an institute lecture next week, not really prepared. going to ramble about philosophy of mind, psychophysics, and visual illusions. i hope i don't come off like a crackpot. i am not a crackpot!

last few days, keep getting confusing afterimages; look one place, then another, and think i'm seeing the previous image (usually a fine texture or detail) in the current location. has happened maybe ten times in the last 48 hours. this morning, for example, standing in the hallway at home, looking into the living room; i briefly foveate the 'foot' of our coffeetable, which is carved with an intricate little design; then i look somewhere else, can't remember where, and i'm still seeing the foot design. lasted just a few hundred milliseconds. later, waiting for the train, i look at the station clock, which is made up of an array of yellow-green LEDs, then somewhere else, and see the pinpoint-grid in the new location. i don't think that in either of these cases the afterimage was stronger than usual in a SNR sense, but it was somehow noticeable or salient where it should have been ignored. it's a type of confusion, rather than over-representation.

Monday, October 14, 2013


I finished Chalmers' book - The Conscious Mind - this weekend. A funny thing was that the next-to-last chapter, basically just a set of musings on the relationship between his proto-theory and artificial intelligence arguments, didn't interest me at all. This is funny because if this was 2001, I probably would have skimmed the book up to that chapter and then read it over and over and over again.

It's an excellent, important book. I wish I'd read it back when, but now was good enough timing. As I mentioned in a previous entry, just about all of my thinking on philosophy of mind and consciousness in this book; I think some of the ideas I developed naturally, like a lot of people do, but I've also read many of Chalmers' papers over the years, and a couple I've read many times, so he's undoubtedly responsible for straightening my thoughts on the subject.

But this book, it's one of those cases where reading is like sharpening your mind. You may have a set of knives, but you've let them clatter around in a drawer for a while, used one here and another there, and so they get banged up and dulled and maybe a bit tarnished, and so finally you sit down with the whetstone and a cloth and sharpen and clean, and there, a drawer full of shining, sharp knives. That's what it was like, reading this book.

In a way, it just sort of set me up with new vocabulary, or ways to structure my thinking about perception and experience, and why they are interesting, and what the alternatives are in thinking about how they are interesting. Sometimes, this is enough to take away from a book - it helps you organize, doesn't revolutionize your thought, but it helps you straighten things out, like putting the knives into categories, with the tips and blades all facing together.

But he also inspired me, and hopefully just at the right time (though I was asking for it, looking for it, so it's silly to bring up the notion of coincidence). He talks about psychophysics - although in more basic terms than the conventional science - and he presents it as a way of using subjective experience as evidence, as a thing to be explained. This was how I felt about it for a long time, but as the years and papers and experiments wheel on, you can't help but start to see things operationally, in terms of functions and moving parts, and you operationalize your subjects too, and they become black boxes that press buttons. This is so wrong!

It's wrong, and I used to know it was wrong, and I've maintained a sense that it's wrong - I recognize that this sense is part of what sets me against the West Coast internal noise crowd in modern psychophysics, and which allies me so much to the European tradition. But I'd kind of forgotten, explicitly, how it's something of a travesty against psychophysics to operationalize your subjects, especially if you're interested in psychophysics per se, and not in using it as a means to another worthy end.

What I'm rambling about is what we all know - when you have a subject in a psychophysics experiment, and you give them instructions on how to do the task, you are asking them to take hold of a phenomenal object, and to give you responses based on that object. Often the object is so ineffable that it can only be explained by example - 'this, you see this? when you see this, press this button; or, press this button when you think you see this, here'. The central object in the entire experiment is the thing that is seen. The instructions to the subject are the closest that the experimenter comes to the phenomenon of interest. But it's too easy, I see now, to slip into the mode of giving those instructions and then thinking that the phenomenon is in the data, and that by describing the data or understanding the data, you're understanding the phenomenon.

Ultimately, maybe, it's just semantics. Ultimately, all you have to analyze in any rigorous sense is the data. But I think that many psychophysicists forget, and start talking only about performance - I've done this many times now. I've gone long enough without enough inspiration, for years now, only seeing it peek through now and then, always having trouble circling back to the real object of fascination. But this book, Chalmers' book - or probably, just a few choice passages from the book - has renewed my clarity, and as I said, just in time, because I feel that the importance of these ideas, for my research and my writing and my very career, is swinging right into center stage.

Also, I have a headache right now, officially it's been 59 days since the last, longest gap since record keeping began (May 2012). I gave it a 3.5, but I'm going to go raise that to a 4.5 now, it's getting worse.

Monday, September 30, 2013

china stone

i had a little china stone
i found it in my peanuts

i deleted the rest. anyways, i've now applied to three schools. it has begun. just an update.

and, as for migraine business: while i did predict a couple weeks ago that something was up, it's failed to materialize seriously. there've been a couple of very weak, slow periods, lasting 2 or 3 days, where it felt like something migrainesque, but never enough to make me certain. so there's that.

what else, what else... reading Chalmers' big book, very great, should have read it 10 years ago. all of my thinking, much of which i probably got from him in sideways ways anyways, is anticipated, including my insight last weekend about the whole dualism/idealism/monism thing. so that's fun, i read the book mornings and evenings on the train.

also, got to play the public piano out in Government Center, it felt very nice.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

not idealism

okay, after the epiphany of the last post, i did a little re-reading of some basic boilerplate, and i'm thinking that what i'm calling 'idealism' there is really a type of pure panpsychism, saying that everything is a subjective state. it's non-dualistic simply in that it flips the hard question around: what evidence is there for, or how to you conceive of or explain, non-subjective states? from the materialist/physicalist point of view, the subjective state seems impossible to understand, which leads to the dualist perspective. but then, on the other side, you do away with 'physical' completely. everything is a subjective state, analogous to consciousness, but usually (almost always) without the complex representational structure. so in this system, dualism is like physicalism + panpsychism. idealism is usually used to describe a point of view where everything that exists is a representation, which i still think is craziness.

now, another not on metaphors for thinking: i am now finally (after probably 10 years of delay) reading Chalmers' book 'The Conscious Mind'. i've read many of his papers, some of which are summaries of the more digestible ideas in this book, so in a way i'm prepared for him. but it's a real philosophy book, and it gets difficult. since i can't hope to understand it all, i do a lot of close skimming, reading words and getting some meaning but not all meaning. i guess that's always the case. i had the thought that this process is like looking at objects in water of varying degrees of clarity. when you understand what you're reading, the water is clear, you can see all the surfaces, each new point of fixation is visible and well defined, and you can see the whole structure. but when the water is muddy, you can't see the whole structure - you see parts of it poking into clear parts of the water (muddy water is never uniformly muddy, but the muddiness is in swirls, leaving 'open' spaces of clarity), and those maybe you can see clearly, but even they may be hazy. anyways, the visual metaphor for understanding - clarity, detail, focus, fogginess - really comes home when reading a philosophy text.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


read Koch's "confessions of a romantic reductionist" this weekend. nice book, and he's such an interesting character. i was slightly disappointed that there wasn't more to learn - it was thin (i don't normally finish a book in 2 days). not that it wasn't full of things to learn, but most of it wasn't new to me, i guess because i'm familiar enough with the literature.

it did spark one interesting thought that i'd never really had before, and it wasn't really in the book itself - you know how these things work, you might be primed in some way for something, and then someone says the right thing in the right way, and something new appears. here's what i thought:

(as a warning, the book is all about consciousness, the science of trying to explain what consciousness, i.e. subjective consciousness is. all discussion of this topic needs to be prefaced with warning that you're getting into something deep. so there it is.)

information theories of consciousness, like Tononi's or Chalmers' (such as it is), are basically dualist theories. they say that the stuff of reality has two aspects - one is the objective, measurable, interactive aspect, that we can measure in terms of physics (in the familiar sense of the word). the other aspect is subjective, intrinsic, and emergent - emergence in the sense of information, of a systematic quality that is real and not conceptual or based in observation - and it can be calculated or understood in theoretical terms (e.g. in the terms of Tononi's theory), but it cannot be measured in a relational sense.

this is not the new thought that occurred to me. i'm already on their side. i'm not a physicalist, which i think is a small-minded position, in that it shows that the person just hasn't gone far enough in thinking about the difficulty of the problem (i.e. the Hardness in Chalmers' terms). physicalism says there is only the objective stuff, and that whatever emergence there is a function of observation - i.e. a system is described by some agent, like a human scientist, and the scientist recognizes that the system has properties that are not included in the components of the system, and yet which flow from the combination of the component qualities - this kind of emergence is more a fact of higher-order recognition on the part of the observer. there is nothing actually there in the system that corresponds to the emergent quality.

still, this is not the new thought. here it is: idealism. not a new thought, but new for me. i've always been much more set against idealism than against physicalism - not agreeing with either, but mostly agreeing with physicalism, just that there's something missing there. but idealism, all wrong. but for the first time, on reading the Koch book, I got a reasonable picture of idealism in my head, and he wasn't even talking about it. the picture is this: say that all reality is subjective, and there is no objective reality at all. this is ultimate panpsychism, that everything is psyche of some level. but what makes a mind special? what is consciousness? why does there seem to be such a divide between the inner substance of our minds and the 'physical' character of the biological brain? i figured it out (in this system): physical qualities are just mental representations. the representations cannot be identical with the things they represent, of course. when i see a dog, the 'seeing' is a set of representations of various aspects of dogness. this seems fine, because i have no reason to be confused about the mismatch between my perception of a dog and the dog itself, because i am not a dog. same goes for rocks, clouds, houses, etc. but when i see a brain, or study a neural system or a neuron, knowing that i am a brain, the mismatch is so pronounced that i can't miss it. i am - my consciousness is - a brain, and yet, this representation of a brain is so fundamentally unlike my consciousness. where, in there, in that thing, does the consciousness emerge? what explains it?

in the idealist view, the explanation is purely psychological, cognitive. there is no actual distinction between mind and brain. the brain i am studying is just as much of a subjective entity as i am, but my representation is vastly inadequate. i can only 'understand' a bit of it at a time, and only in abstractions or formulations or approximations, no matter how clever i am. brains and neurons and other objective, physical, phenomena are only the limited psychological efforts of human consciousness to represent essentially unrepresentable other consciousnesses. the limitation might just be of design - the brain isn't evolved for the purpose of representing or emulating other brains. if it were, if it had equipment making such emulation possible, then observing other brains would be equivalent to observing their consciousnesses. but there may be computational limits - there must be - that make this impossible or very unfeasible. so, if a dualist theory of consciousness like Tononi's is perfected, it may be translatable into idealist terms as explaining the difficulty or intractability of emulating one idealist system on another.

a lot of this sounds very familiar - the idea that we are confused, naturally, into thinking that our percepts or our concepts, which are neural descriptions of the real world, are the real world in a direct sense. there are few direct realists out there, who believe that the dog is the dog - most of us realize that the dog is a mental representation of the dog out there. but we then invoke physicalism in noting that the dog out there is objective and 'real' and physical in a sense that is somehow different from the subjective world of qualia that interfaces between our minds and the world. this is different from what i'm getting at here - in the idealist view, out there and in here are qualitatively the same. qualia everywhere, within and without. the only difference is that our qualia are representational, while non-brain qualia aren't (usually).

this all sounds reminiscent of certain religious ideas, very buddhist or maybe hindu, the idea that everything is ultimately consciousness, and that the 'real' world is an illusion or a cognitive mistake. not saying i believe it, just that it was a sort of realization of a possibility that i had while reading an interesting book this weekend.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

asti nasti

slight psychic turmoil what with the coming application deadlines, projects to work on, etc. as is usual in these situations, nothing much of anything is getting done.

just wanted to report that i keep seeing flashes and scotomites, and now suddenly getting some photophobia. it's been 27 days since the last recorded headache, which is at least twice the normal interval (though that interval varies by at least its mean). so i'm due (plus, look at this nice plot, and note that today is thursday:).

the plot on the left is the average headache rating per day of week; when they start on the weekend, they are worse. the one on the right is tally per day of week; more start on the weekend. this is just a year or so's worth of numbers, but obviously i'm prone to headaches on the weekends, probably when susceptible. reason? relaxation, sleeping late (and late coffee), irregular eating, possible alcohol, etc.

anyways, let's see what happens.