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Sat, 2005-Jun-18

Max Sharam - A million year girl - (11) Learning to let go

Max Sharam
A million year girl
Track 11: Learning to let go

I want to think you're on my side.
The world's work hasn't begun to be done.

Some people hold on to life so tight
that they squeeze the life right out of it.
Some people hold on to love so tight
that they squeeze the love right out of it.

Is it true?
Is it a catch-22?
Do only the dying know when to let go?
Is it you?
Is it the wind whistling through?
Do only the dying know?

Some people hold on to life so tight
that they squeeze the life right out of it.
Some people hold on to love so tight
that they squeeze the love right out of it.

You know I cried so hard?
cried so hard?
cried so hard?
You know I tried so hard?
tried so hard?
tried so hard?
To let you go.
To let you go.
To let you go.
I'm learning to let go.
To let you go.
To let you go.
To let you go.
I'm learning to let go.

If only good things die young
dying to find out about it.
Did I love you too much?
Did I love you to death?
I'm dying to know.

You know I cried so hard?
cried so hard?
cried so hard?
I'm learing to let go.
You know I tried so hard?
tried so hard?
tried so hard?
I'm learing to let go.
to let you go.
to let you go.
to let you go.
I'm learning to let go.
to let you go.
to let you go.
to let you go.
I'm learning to let go.

Like a tiger running wild.
Like an infant on a swing.
I'm clean.

If you were loving me right I wouldn't hold on so tight.
If you were loving me right I wouldn't need to learn to let you go.

Sat, 2005-Jun-18

The Nature of Conscious Thought

Philosphers have wondered for millenia about the meaning and nature of conciousness, or specifically of concious thought. As a software developer with no practical experience in congnative science, I thought I'd scratch my own theory together.

The brain seems to be divided into regions that basically each have their own purpose. These regions are connected to each other through a variety of interesting busses and interconntects. Science has followed on the heels of philosophy, searching for the home of consciousness and coming up empty. No particual region of the brain seems to be the home of consciousness. The brain keeps on working just about no matter which parts you knock of out of commission.

There is a fundamental assumption, I think, in the approaches taken so far. They asssume that consciousness is a unit. One that serves the function of thinking, of reasoning. The bit of the brain that really represents "me". I take a different view. It aligns more closely with the idea of conciousness as an emergent phenomenom, but I think is a fair middle road between the two.

I see conscious thought as something we experience. Everything else we experience is a sense, so my reasoning leads me to see conscious thought not as a whole process of rational thought. Instead, I see it as a passive sensory input (for as much as sensory input is passive). I see consciousness as "the sense of what my brain is doing", or "my perception of what I'm thinking".

The sense has its tendrils everywhere. It seems to be connected to everything. Perhaps the connections are made directly, or perhaps it is emergent from the interactions of system busses and interconnects. If I were to guess, I would say that this sense is centralised in the frontal lobe. That's the part of the brain we traditionally associate with inhibition, but perhaps another way of thinking about it is to say that it is the home of the sense that tells our brain it is behaving badly.

When we are drunk, we become disinhibited. We get fuzzy. We become easily confused because we don't know what's going on in our brain. This can become so advanced that we end up with no memory of the night. I see this not as a loss of memory, but primarily as a loss of the sense that would be recorded into memory. We assume we're still conscious because we're still moving around. We're still carrying on conversation, and perhaps sophisticated physical activities. My theory is that the brain doesn't need consciousness to perform those activitites. Consciousness is what closes the loop and lets the brain understand itself, but it is still a passive process. The real thinking and reasoning and acting is an entirely unconscious activity.

We have long been aware of some kind of "sub-conscious". It is most obvious in the reptillian brain that controls our breathing and circulation. We're not aware of the processes. They aren't part of conscious processes. It is harder to define when it comes to sub-conscious thought. We see theories that essentially tell us we have two brains. One does a lot of hard work in the background. The other is the "us". One we train, the other is what does the training. We are arrogant to think that of the two "us"s that we are the thinking and reasoning part. In fact, if we are to divide ourselves into two it is the subconscious that more "us". It is the thinking and active part of our brain. What we have traditionally thought of as consciousness is the combination of our consciousness sense, and the parts of the rest of us that we have sensory "wires" into.

I think that we can have some influence over the connections that are made between the consciousness sense and the reasoning engine of our brain. I think that inhibition is the classic example. We can stop ourselves reasoning in certain ways, if we understand the evil of those ways. We can exercise self-restraint, up to self-censorship. I think that there are some connections we have little control over, though. To examine my own mental processes, I am completely unaware of most vocal processes until the words pop out of my mouth. I'm more of a visual thinker. I'm aware of the reasoning processes that go into the formation of thoughts for speech, but the formation of words I find disturbingly hard to observe of myself. That is not to say they aren't what I mean. Those parts of my brain are well trained, and I don't often find myself saying things I don't mean. I do, however, find myself up in front of a group of people waiting for the words to come. I can't think ahead about what I'm saying, even to the end of my current sentance.

Benjamin