A Theory of Aesthetic Diffraction

November 22, 2015 Leave a comment


“If we split the atom cloud into two parts and recombine them after some time, a wave pattern forms” – source article

Yesterday I was looking at the sun on the water and thinking about how it is an analogy for consciousness and the brain and quantum entanglement. Each point of light reflects an image of the same sun, even though it appears disconnected and changing chaotically on the surface waves. At the same time, we can see a larger group coherence and intermediate scale, waves-of-waves coherence.

In the top image we understand that the coherence reflects a single light source onto a changing surface, in the brain we speculate on biochemical mechanisms within the surfaces which are connecting to each other. In the bottom image, we conflate the wave pattern with the surface itself, but then eliminate the surface altogether. What is being reflected or experienced is obscured altogether in the bottom up QM model.

By thinking of the sunlight as a metaphor for the mind-body problem, we can see how the explanatory gap can be closed. Using physics to look for consciousness is the same as looking at the surface of the water to look for the sun. In this case, the ‘sun’ isn’t a distant star, but the immediately present aesthetic experience of conscious.

Ready for some neologisms? Okay, this gets ugly.

A Theory of Aesthetic Diffraction

In my Multisense Realism project, I have tried to piece together some ideas about consciousness and physics. These include:

  • Light as sight. Photons are reflected incidents of ‘seeing’ or some other aesthetic acquaintance on the micro-level.
  • Aesthetic participation or sense as the root of consciousness, rather than an evolution of survival based intellect, information integration, or biophysics.
  • Local aesthetic phenomena (sense modalities as well as sense content) are like puzzle pieces of universal Pansense or Multisense Continuum which includes physics.
  • Sense as the absolute frame of reference or ‘Sole Entropy Well’.*
  • Space time are the mulitplication/diffraction of sense.
  • Sense is aesthetic content, like universal qualia, rather than a subject-object relation.
  • Significance is the saturation of sense, and its teleological function.

To these I would now add:

The brain is a Polysynchronizing Aesthetic Diffraction Engine.

(Composed of smaller, neuronal PADEs, which are in turn composed of smaller molecular PADEs.)

If we really wanted to see if this is true, I think that there might be a way to begin to find out. A couple of clues:

On the physics side, try turning Permittivity (ε) and Permeability (μ) ‘inside out’, so that we are thinking in terms of electromagnetic effects as reflections of sensory-motive affects rather than causal “fields”. The affect is not itself a field but a spatio-temporal or quantized diffraction…a temporalized, and then spatially dislocated disentanglement from the otherwise boundaryless, absolute context of Pansense.

Looking at the etymology of permit and permeate, we can get another clue in the original sense of the Latin root mittere ‘to send, let go.’ By contrast, permeate is to ‘go through’, from the root meare ‘pass, go’. The expectation of electric and magnetic fields is that they are different ways of looking at the same thing, but the difference is hard to define other than mathematically. I think that as long as we are take the concepts of force and field literally, we will be missing a critical opportunity for understanding nature.

When we turn permittivity and permeability inside out, we go from a Western concept of isolated material objects separated by a vacuum, to an Eastern-like concept of trans-material experiences which are temporarily fragmented from the totality of experience. This fragmentation or diffraction looks like distance or scale and the disappearance of the past, when viewed through the brain.

The Western model conceives of matter as complex nested fields which permit and are permeated by radiant forces. Inverting that takes us from a world of external waves oscillating meaninglessly to a world of felt affects and semi-intentional effects. Behind electromagnetic effects observed within local body frames of reference are phenomenal experiences of ‘going’ and ‘letting go’** in relation to the eternal and trans-local.

The per-mitting of ‘electricity’ translates to the fracturing or branching (think of lightning or a spark) of chaotic motive impulses to release across external frames of reference. The per-meating of ‘magnetism’ translates to a re-cycling or reabsorbing of motive impulses into what Leibniz might have called pre-established harmonies and Sheldrake might call morphic resonance. The difference in what I’m talking about is that what is resonating is not a vacuum or an aether – not a physicalized medium, but ordinary feelings, sensations, and experiences. In this way, relativistic models can be reconciled with quantum models through aesthetic participation as the final transceiving/transducting hyposurface†. This is literally ‘emergence’…the inflection point between these two extremes:

1. The information-based electrodynamic microcosm, which is reflected back to sense as its shadow. The shadow appears to its originator as polarized in terms of automaticity vs chaos-probability. The appearance of the originator can be inferred by inverting the qualities of the shadow, so that rather than crests and troughs of determinism, we can understand ourselves as that which appreciates and creatively determines the shadow.

2. The anchoring frame-based (gravitostatic?) astrocosm derived from the constancy of light speed and gravity. This is the sense of holarchy of scale as well as a hierarchy of importance. Physics can have no preferred frame of reference, so the preferring has to come from:

3. The participation-based mesocosm. Between the two extremes of mindless subatomic computation and mindless block space-time geometry is perception itself. An angle or ray of participation, illuminating and isolating ‘attentions’ while presenting the opportunity to create ‘intentions’.

For us, the mesocosm is reflected back to itself as an elaborate organic chemical hypersurface, nested within another zoological hypersurface. I think that the appearance of neurochemistry as we encounter it objectively is only a single surface or layer of aesthetic presentation which anchors the representation of the larger history of our particular experience as it grew from the physical to the chemical, genetic, biological, zoological, and anthropological frames.

On the perception side, I think that there are clues to be found in researching cross-modal perception and what I might call trans-modal perception. Cross-modal perception is an innate sense of isomorphism across sense modalities such as visual to verbal (Kiki-Bobo effect), onomatopoeia (phonetic to verbal). Trans-modal perception is a term that I propose could be used to talk about such phenomena as sounds which can be felt tangibly (i.e. high pitch sounds are highly localized and penetrating to the ear, while low, booming sounds envelope the entire room, drawing attention to the micro-personal or the oceanic shared transpersonal respectively.)

Conditions such as tinnitis, vertigo, epileptic halos, and synesthesia also seem to promise deeper understanding of sense as they point to the possibility of sense modalities as divergent categories of pansense rather than emergent properties of the functioning of sense organs. Just as physics requires instruments to push the limits of speed and detection into super-human ranges, a true study of consciousness requires examples or methods which transcend normal ranges of human experience. Autistic and psychotic spectrum conditions are especially important as a guide for the underlying axis of human sense-making, and I suspect that they can be meaningfully defined in terms of high and low permeability/permittivity (branching out of electricalimpulses, and recycling back to magnetic ground-state).

*This could be thought of as the sole/absolute ‘surface’ of aesthetic diffraction.

**This maps back to a language theme that I come back to frequently from the PIE root words ‘wag’ and ‘wegh’, like yin and yang…a universal oscillation or tessellation between push-pull (electric or sense-mitting phase) and relax-reflect (magnetic or sense-mearing phase) qualities of experience. Magnetic effects can be thought of as in between electric flux and gravitational grounding. Gravity shows us the orientation of mass toward massive frames of reference, while magnetism shows how local disorientation of mass can be accomplished through electric fluctuation (effort or kinetic energy).

† I say hyposurface to say that sense is both the larger context which contains all levels or planes of description as well as transcendent to the idea of planes and surfaces themselves. Sense is trans-spatiotemporal. Space, time, planes, frames, etc are carved out of the totality as a diffraction rather than as an emanation from fore-fields in a vacuum.

AI is Inside Out

November 18, 2015 Leave a comment

The subjective world is an arena of sense which is surrounded by an unseen sensor. Unlike a computer, which finds its own data stored in precise and irreducibly knowable bits, we find our own introspection to be confoundingly mysterious. Both the interior and exterior world are presented to us as a natural given to be explored, but the methods of exploration are diametrically opposite. Penetrating the psyche leads to an examination of symbols which are both intensely personal as well as anthropologically universal.

Whether we explore the objective world or the subjective world, we do so from the inside out, as visitors in a universe that matters to us whether we like it or not. To understand how machine intelligence differs from natural consciousness, it is important to see that a machine’s world is taken rather than given. The machine’s world is assembled from the bottom up, through disconnected, instrumental samplings.

It can be argued that our sense of the world is also nothing more than a collection of readings taken by our sense organs, but if that were the case, we should not experience the outside world as a complete environment, but rather as a probabilistic blur that is punctuated by islands of known data. A machine’s view of the outside world should (and would) look like this or this.


This showed that even when shown millions of photos, the computer couldn’t come up with a perfect Platonic form of an object. For instance, when asked to create a dumbbell, the computer depicted long, stringy arm-things stretching from the dumbbell shapes. Arms were often found in pictures of dumbbells, so the computer thought that sometimes dumbbells had arms.

Similarly, images that have been probabilistically ‘reconstructed’ from fMRI data show the same incoherence:


These are images which have been simulated from the outside in – a mosaic of meaningless elements spread out over a canvas seen by no one. These are not the kinds of visions that we have when we encounter the depths of our own psyche, which are invariably spectacular, if surreal, dreamscapes. By contrast, these early machine models of visual encoding show us a soulless sub-realism made of digital gas; a Bayesian partlessness gliding arbitrarily toward programmed compartments.

Although a machine’s introspection need not have any visual appearance at all, it makes sense that if it did, what would be seen might look something like a debugger interface, full of detailed, unambiguous data about the state of the machine.


It would be bizarre to have a layer of all-but-incomprehensible fiction in between the machine and its own functions. Even if the dashboard of such a complex machine used a lot of compression techniques, surely that compression would not be a mystery to the machine itself.

The point that I’m trying to get across here is that what we are developing in machines is actually an anti-subjectivity. Its world is fuzzy and delirious on the outside, and clearly circumscribed on the inside – exactly the reverse of our natural awareness. Machine psychology is a matter of compiling the appropriate reports and submitting them for error correction auditing, while machine perception is a tenuous process of probing and guessing in the dark. Our own inner depths seem to defy all machine expectations, containing neither useful reports on the state of our brain nor unnatural chaos. Our view of the world outside of ourselves is not one which seems to be manufactured on the fly but one which imparts a profound, pervasive sense of orientation and clarity.

– See more at: http://s33light.org/post/125805437612#sthash.VePmbQdd.dpuf

Is Time an Infinite Set of Moments?

November 9, 2015 2 comments

…or is the whole notion of an infinite set a paradox?

Since a set is by definition a defining of a boundary, whenever we talk about sets which are infinite we are talking about a boundary containing unbounded contents. Such a boundary makes it necessary that boundary-making itself is presumed to be outside of things being bound, i.e. it is taken as axiomatic that boundary making is part of a theory which does not change anything except our own understanding.

Things get murky however, when we consider time an infinite set. In Zeno’s Paradox of the Tortoise and Achilles, for example, the idea of an infinite set is used to trick us into thinking that motion is impossible. The logic is that for something to move one unit of distance, it must first move an infinite number of smaller distances. We can reverse this logic, however, and say that to divide one distance into an infinite number of smaller distances in the first place would take an infinitely long time if we had to actually make those measurements in some way, provided each measurement takes a non-zero amount of time.

Here is the difference between the map and the territory. Actually moving across a distance is a ‘territory’; a concrete reality. The idea that there is some number of points in which could be measured along that distance is a theoretical abstraction. When we apply the abstraction of infinity to the reality of concrete phenomena, we get paradox. The tortoise’s lead appears to always be getting smaller and smaller, but is still a nonzero fraction of the total distance ahead of Achilles, no matter how much faster Achilles is. What distracts us is that we are taking our own measurement for granted. Yes, it’s true that each measurement at time t will find the tortoise ahead of Achilles if we keep giving the tortoise a fraction of his original head start after calculating Achilles position, but infinity doesn’t end at that measurement. Infinity means not only that there will always be a measurement where the tortoise is ahead, it also means that there will always be an interval after the measurement where Achilles overtakes the velocity challenged reptile. In short, an infinite set means that the set always will extend beyond itself.

The physical allegory of the infinite set is a universe of stars and galaxies which expands into an infinity of empty space.  But can emptiness really envelope things or is it the expansion of things which exists on its own without any envelope? Is the assumption of empty space really a projection of our own intellectual expectations of set-making? I think that it is important to see that Einsteinian spacetime calculations would work the same either way. Spacetime need not be a literal container of mass-energy, if mass-energy is already entangled at superliminal rates. It makes it easy to think of General Relativity as referring to a spatiotemporal entity (a ‘reference mollusk’ as Einstein called it, or a Minkowski space), but the reality may be that spacetime is nothing more than the influence that the entangled consensus of mass-energetic relations has on itself. This way, no envelope of infinite emptiness is required around the Big Bang, and the vacuum can leave its quantum contents behind to revert to a true void. The vacuum energy gets turned inside out…it’s not inside of spacetime, it’s inside of relativity, i.e. universal perceptual entanglement.

Eastern and Western Eternity

If the Western view of time is an unlimited set of (limited) moments, then eternity is purely conceptual – the perpetually incomplete ‘set-hood’ of that set. The Western sense of eternity is also of perpetually filling itself with more and more clock ticks. Eastern mystics have promised instead that the fundamental truth of nature is the antithesis of that: A timeless connectedness of all things, or a universal connectability (The Force, Field, Love*, God) from which all ‘things’ are seemingly detached. Such a detachment is described as an illusion or temporary masking of underlying unity which remains eternal and pervasive. From the Eastern view, it is not space and time which contain all phenomena, but rather times and spaces are emergent dissociations within the grand phenomenality.

With the advent of General Relativity, the pendulum of Western thought began unknowingly to swing Eastward. Eternity came to be seen as a universal 4D manifold which distorts rates and lengths of physical processes. The distortions are understood to be relative to frames of reference; they are the ‘appearances’ of each frame to any other rather than a fixed physical property common to all frames. Frames themselves are, like the tortoise, given an unfair advantage of inheriting our ignorance of the nature of perception. Physics has attributed a frame-making capacity from a purely theoretical warrant, a warrant which magically acquires real powers of perceptual transformation (Lorentz contraction/dilation) which define the universe.

Some will complain that inertial or Galilean frames have nothing to do with perception, that they are tied only to linear velocity, however this takes velocity relations for granted in the same way that infinite sets take sets for granted. Here is where Relativity and QM completely agree. They both hinge on the concrete physical fact of measurement as the relation between properties such as space, time, position, and momentum. The measurement is a thing that separates the uncollapsed theoretical wave from the concrete wave-effects which are common to matter.

I submit that measurement itself is only the superficial way of understanding what is going on behind SR, GR, and QM. What makes measurement possible – all measurement – is an intrinsic relatability or sense which pervades all of physics. It is only parsimonious to assume at this point that this relatability is identical to the awareness which underlies our own conscious experience.

As it stands now, theoretical physics must resort to a kind of dualism where the idea of an ‘observer’ is somehow presumed separate from conscious observation. Any deviation from this premise is taboo and treated with antipathy. The Western imagination has been captured by positivism, so that all legitimate phenomena begin with an assumption of being separable from phenomenology. This unfortunately leaves phenomenology itself orphaned from physics, and the purest contents of conscious experience orphaned from legitimacy. We turn to the idea of “emergence” to reclaim some semblance of coherence, but emergence itself is no more physical or derivable from logic than consciousness itself.

Relativity applies to instantaneity as well as simultaneity.

To further bridge the Einsteinian notion of eternity with the Eastern one, I suggest a relativity of instantaneity. We can see from time lapse photography, for example, that different rates of exposure present nature at speeds of time. If we had nanobots we could surely step down our own body motions so that we could interact remotely with nanoscale objects at scales and speeds which would not be possible to us on the macro scale.

We can also see how the ocean appears to slow to a crawl when seen from the air. Interestingly, the trails that boats make in their wake appear to flow against a solid background of standing ocean waves.


In this photo you can’t see it, but next time you are flying over the water, notice how the narrow wake tracks which cross-cross the static ocean shimmer with movement. I’m curious about the physics of this – is it the distance of the plane or the speed which averages out the speed of water, and then the motion of the boat which makes some of the speed visible? Some kind of phase-cancellation?

It is this kind of transformation which I’m referring to as the relativity of instantaneity. The scope of the instant depends on perspective, and physics, having no preferred perspective, can have no way to define any separation between instants or any set which unites them. In this way, emergent properties themselves emerge from perception.

East vs West

I suspect that both views of time are reflections of the perspective from which they emerge. Eastern or Empathizing psychologies focus on the unity of categories in the category-making mind itself while Western, Systemizing modes focus on impersonal categories, the origin of which is seen as irrelevant. As the two modes have grown apart, they are no longer able to locate each other without distorting them into a straw man. The Western mind sees the Eastern view as an overestimation of our own presence (including the present moment) while the Eastern mind sees the fatal flaw of the Western effort to deflate the presence of the now and its presenter. Interestingly, the antipathy flips in the assignment of blame, with the Western skeptic taking personal umbrage at the individuals who they see as peddlers of ‘woo-woo’ superstition and postmodern ‘word salad’. By contrast, the Eastern mystic sees the Western resistance as a function of impersonal forces of spiritual immaturity. This dynamic of projection and inversion is a good place to study the lensing of consciousness. The model which I propose suggests that studying how people argue will show that fundamentalist positions on either side will have more in common with each other neurologically than there will be differences. From there we can begin to map the blind spot of the Western approach as it cascades down through academic policies, experiment design, and finally economics, and politics.

The Western approach is intrinsically bottom up in that it begins with a collection of external particulars and then extrapolates generalities and universal laws. Scientific thought is an analytic introspection which is intended to generate a synthetic ‘extraspection’. Our naive, introspective sense of the present time is as Edwin Schrodinger and Ken Wilber point out is “the only thing that has no end”. Meaning that we literally cannot locate within the present any beginning or ending. Only memories within the present which seem to explain things outside of the present can be found:

We dissipate our energies in fantasy mists of memories and expectations, and thus deprive the living present of its fundamental reality and reduce it to a “specious present”, a slender present that endures a mere one or two seconds, a pale shadow of the eternal Present.
-Ken Wilber, No Boundary

It seems clear to me that the Western view is dominated by the specific function of the intellect, which is to isolate problems and analyze them sequentially. Using the intellect to analyze itself, we conflate mental kinds of functions with nature in general and have learned to mistake this map of our own map-making for the territory. Because the Western mind identifies with itself rather than with the consciousness behind thought, it inverts our own existence into a ‘specious presence’. First an orphaned soul in an Enlightened machine, then a self-modeling semantic mechanism, the personal presence has now been so aggressively deflated that many insist that it has no existence at all.

If the Western view overlooks the magnitude of significance of the present in its modeling of time, the Eastern view overlooks the overwhelming influence of non-human scales of the present in the universe. The human scale of ‘now’ is overly preferred, so that the Western half of the universe, with its bottom up chains of causality, can be discounted irrationally (hence the woo-woo). This means that the vital and important contributions of science and technology can be dismissed by the Eastern approach, thus losing all credibility with Western thinkers. The sentiment that thoughts create reality is straw-manned to imply that human thoughts create all reality, when the truth is that human influence may be both more powerful and less powerful than we imagine.

Coming Together Over Time

I propose that the way to transcend the problematic notions of time in both the Western and Eastern modes is to see time as the “most common sense” through which eternity ‘pretends’ to be each moment, and how the eternal moment pretends to its own eachness. Time is what limits the unlimited and opens the limited to the possibility of the infinite.

Because the Western view of time has resulted in an all-but-insignificant present, it has contrived an all-but insignificant subjective conscious presence to act as an almost-disposable timekeeper. The ‘observer’ in physics is naught but a convergence of particular coordinates…coordinates which themselves are only defined by there own axiomatic coordination. The cosmos appears as an unorchestrated orchestration…an autoverse rather than universe.

The Eastern view inflates the present and the subjective presence to the absolute extreme, so that the cosmos appears as an unfalsifiably teleological monolith. This infuriates the Western mind, hearing soft-headed homilies of ‘There are no coincidences’ and ‘Everything happens for a reason’ to justify pre-scientific superstition. This would be a solipseverse rather than a universe – a universe which fits into single self. Monotheism splits the difference, with a Unisolipse – a single God self who is not us, but who is like us and can help us and care about us.

What I propose is that each of these models fall out naturally as reflections from a sense-based foundation. The true universe is an orchestration of (orchestration-unorchestration) of perceived qualities and conditions. A paratheistic or ambitheistic society of self-elaborating experiences.

*Love to me seems more human-centric or mammal-centric to me, but I think that Love could be better understood in this context as the most recent form of empathy or sense. Sense allows wholes and parts to partially disconnect and reconnect with the whole.

Should Quantum and Consciousness be Connected?

October 13, 2015 1 comment

Quora question:

Are there any reasonable reasons to believe that there is a connection between quantum physics and consciousness?


I don’t think that we need to believe in such a connection, but there are certainly reasonable justifications for seeking it out.

From the consciousness side, the issue is that sooner or later we have to get around to asking exactly how experiential qualities like flavors and images come into being. There has to be an inflection point or event horizon…some process through which psychological phenomena are transduced or emerge from actual physical substances. For example, we can see exactly where a computer displays graphic phenomena, but that display is

1) not part of any computational process
2) not comparable to any part of the brain
3) dependant on the visual experience of a conscious user to interpret

This would seem to put our direct, ordinary experience outside of a detectable physical location. Since quantum phenomena violate our classical expectations of physical location, it might be a good place to start. Futher, we know that electromagnetic activity in the brain correlates to conscious experience, and that electromagnetism is reducible to QED.

From the quantum side, there are a few different issues. One is that it isn’t classical. It’s not merely the fact that QM is ‘weird’, but that the particular ways in which it is weird suggests more thought-like properties than stuff-like properties. If we are willing to surrender classical realism for an abstract, counter-intuitive universe, then why rule out that this universe is in fact the same as the one in which our interior experience resides?

Another issue that I think qualifies as a reasonable consideration is that we are finding more and more examples of quantum effects which are macroscopic and organic. Rather than quantum theory settling down into a more unified interpretation, it continues to spawn more possibilities and more strangeness. When we consider what is really meant by photons entangled through time rather than space (Weird! Quantum Entanglement Can Reach into the Past) are we really that far from a universal sense of memory?

The idea that consciousness is related to quantum need not be a reason for us to place ourselves, as Homo sapiens, into the fundamental fabric of existence. Instead, it may be that our human awareness and quantum share a common ancestor. Several of the founding fathers of Quantum Physics emphatically supported the idea that QM is grounded in participation and process rather than objective ‘things’.

I have proposed that QM and Relativity share a connection to rudimentary awareness: Frames of reference, worldlines, multiple worlds, holographic simulation, etc all speak to an influence which bridges a gap between a cosmos with no possibility of preference to one which is dominated by localized perspectives and irreversible change. To me, there is an obvious conceptual intersection between quantum uncertainty and special relativity, and that intersection is in the sharability of sensory experience. This seems to be the inflection point. Both spacetime and causality can be seen to be emergent from a foundation which is perceptual-participatory rather than information-theoretic, spatio-temporal, or mass-energetic. It’s a matter of flipping our expectation of inputs and outputs serving to distribute objective “information” units, to seeing information as the the appreciation of common throughput qualities.

The human qualities of consciousness may not have as direct an effect as some supporters of New Age metaphysics may like*, but it may very well have an effect on which aspects of physics we think we can explore and which aspects we are afraid of. Just as particles have biases in terms of spin and charge, human psychology tends to become polarized. We are only beginning to understand the connection between genes, gender, and what has been termed the empathizing-systemizing spectrum. Autism and psychosis have been linked to the extremes of the E-S spectrum, along with ties to gender influence in gene expression.

If we have built a science which concentrates an overwhelmingly ‘S‘ or genetically ‘male’ perspective, and then use academic processes which only serve to amplify that bias, then it should not be a surprise when the great missing links in our cosmology come to us as shadow projections: Despised foes from across a gap of prejudice. If your psychology is highly biased toward the Systemizing side of consciousness, then you will know it because reading these words will cause you unusually vivid anger and outrage. Rather than a calm consideration of these ideas, it seems (and this is borne out in brain lateralization studies also) that your certainty only grows more fanatical and rigid. It’s not your fault. Ironically the mind is controlled by chemical influences and evolutionary defense mechanisms which deny themselves in our awareness.

If your psychology is overwhelmingly ‘E‘, then I would expect that you might feel more hurt and confused when reading this. The feeling is that this information isn’t really ‘for you’, or that I haven’t developed my own consciousness enough to really understand spirituality. Where the S-minded scientist shouts ‘Woo-woo!’ and demands evidence, the E-minded mystic retires to aloofness. One demands submission to the truth, while the other resigns such demands with transcendence and pluralism. Both views dismiss the authority of subjectivity, but in opposite ways.

To resolve this tendency toward psychic extremism, we may need to go much further in our efforts to seek objectivity than we have imagined. We may need to update our understanding of subjectivity to make it more objective, and our understanding of objectivity to make it more subjective. QM makes this especially true, as objectivity itself has proved to be fundamentally elusive.

This is where Gödel comes in. Formal systems may not only not be enough, they may prevent us from grasping the most essential truths of nature…that we are not observers of an illusory world, but participants in a spectrum of world-like experiences ranging from the very real to the very surreal.

*or at least, not in every state of consciousness or in states of consciousness that are accessible to everybody.


October 3, 2015 1 comment


A quick and dirty key:

it’s an attempt at map of everything (a cosmogony?)

Starting with the I (right hand or far Eastern side). I is just regular old I. The local, personal self.

Above and below the I are Cogitans and Empatha, so thinking and feeling.

Above Cogitans is Sapientia: Wisdom. I could have gone with “Ari” or transpersonal, or mytho-poetic, psyche, etc. It’s reaching toward the zenith (Arcana) – the truth, the secret mysteries, God/Tao/Absolute, etc.

Below Empatha is Viscera: Visceral Sub-Personal urges and impulses. Freud called the Id. Cthonic influences.

Abstracta is pure, but meaningless logic. Quantitative relations. The unnatural.

Machina is the collapse into automaticity. It’s computation and mechanism.

Extensa is intended in more or less the same sense as the Cartesian Res Extensa – extended things, classical mechanics, Newtonian physics of matter and chemistry. It’s about 3D structures and their relations (space)

The Far Western/Left hand point is “Am”
This is the realm of the object perspective. When read left to right you get “Am I?” and from right to left “I am”.

Tempus is time as frequency of experienced events…their rise and fall and partial recycling. The machine’s fuel.

Scientia is Science, or Knowledge. The Western gnosis from the outside in. Theory and progress of civilization. The Eastern version, the Sapientia, is life wisdom…the wisdom of direct experience accumulated as inspiring ideas.

Final image tweak:


I Think Therefore I Am?

September 22, 2015 6 comments

The only thing that can be verified 100% to exist is your own consciousness (“I think, therefore I am”) does this effect/change your own beliefs in any way and how so?

In a way it is true that our consciousness is the only thing that we can verify 100%, however, that way of looking at it may itself not be 100% verifiable. Since cognition is only one aspect of our consciousness, we don’t know if the way that ‘our’ consciousness seems to that part of ‘us’ is truly limited to personal experience or whether it is only the tip of the iceberg of consciousness.

The nature of consciousness may be such that it supplies a sense of limitation and personhood which is itself permeable under different states of consciousness. We may be able to use our consciousness to verify conditions beyond its own self-represented limits, and to do so without knowing how we are able to do it. If we imagine that our consciousness when we are awake is like one finger on a hand, there may be other ‘fingers’ parallel to our own which we might call our intuition or subconscious mind. All of the fingers could have different ways of relating to each other as separate pieces while at the same time all being part of the same ‘hand’ (or hand > arm >body).

With this in mind,  Descartes’ cogito “I think therefore I am” could be re-phrased in the negative to some extent. The thought that it is only “I” who is thinking may not be quite true, and all of our thoughts may be pieces to a larger puzzle which the “I” cannot recognize ordinarily. It still cannot be denied that there is a thought, or an experience of thinking, but it is not as undeniable that we are the “I” that “we” think we are.

The modern world view is, in many ways, the legacy of Cartesian doubt. Descartes has gotten a bad rap, ironically due in part to the success of his opening the door to purely materialistic science. Now, after 400 years of transforming the world with technology, it seems prehistoric to many to think in terms of a separate realm of thoughts which is not physical. Descartes does not have the opportunity to defend himself, so his view is an easy target – a straw man even. When we update the information that Descartes had, however, we might see that Cartesian skepticism can still be effective.

Some things which Descartes didn’t have to draw upon in constructing his view include:

1) Quantum Mechanics – QM shifted microphysics from a corpuscular model of atoms to one of quantitative abstractions. Philosophically, quantum theory is ambiguous in both its realism/anti-realism and nominalism/anti-nominalism. Realism starts from the assumption that there are things which exist independently of our awareness of them, while nominalism considers abstract entities to be unreal.

  • Because quantum theory is the base of our physics, and physics precedes our biology, quantum mechanics can be thought of as a realist view. Nature existed long before human consciousness did, and nature is composed of quantum functions. Quantum goes on within us and without us.
  • Because quantum has been interpreted as being at least partially dependent on acts of detection (e.g. “Experiment confirms quantum theory weirdness”), it can be considered an anti-realist view. Unlike classical objects, quantum phenomena are subject to states like entanglement and superposition, making them more like sensory events than projectiles. Many physicists have emphatically stated that the fabric of the universe is intrinsically participatory rather than strictly ‘real’.
  • Quantum theory is nominalist in the sense that it removes the expectation of purpose or meaning in arithmetic. “Shut up and calculate.” is a phrase* which illustrates the nominalist aspects of QM to me; the view is that it doesn’t matter whether these abstract entities are real or not, just so long as they work.
  • Quantum theory is anti-nominalist because it shares the Platonic view of a world which is made up of perfect essences – phenomena which are ideal rather than grossly material. The quantum realm is one which can be considered closer to Kant’s ‘noumena’ – the unexperienced truth behind all phenomenal experience. The twist in our modern view is that our fundamental abstractions have become anti-teleogical. Because quantum theory relies on probability to make up the world, instead of a soul as a ghost in the material machine, we have a machine of ghostly appearances without any ghost.

To some, these characteristics when taken together seem contradictory or incomprehensible…mindless mind-stuff or matterless matter. To others, the philosophical content of QM is irrelevant or merely counter-intuitive. What matters is that it makes accurate predictions, which makes makes it a pragmatic, empirical view of nature.

2) Information Theory and Computers

The advent of information processing would have given Descartes something to think about. Being neither mind nor matter, or both, the concept of ‘information’ is often considered a third substance or ‘neutral monism’. Is information real though, or is it the mind treating itself like matter?

Hardware/software relation
This metaphor gets used so often that it is now a cliche, but the underlying analogy has some truth. Hardware exists independently of all software, but the same software can be used to manipulate many different kinds of hardware. We could say that software is merely our use of hardware functions, or we could say that hardware is just nature’s software. Either way there is still no connection to sensory participation. Neither hardware nor software has any plausible support for qualia.

Absent qualia
Information, by virtue of its universality, has no sensory qualities or conscious intentions. It makes no difference whether a program is executed on an electronic computer or a mechanical computer of gears and springs, or a room full of people doing math with pencil and paper. Information reduces all descriptions of forms and functions to interchangeable bits, so the same information processes would have to be the same regardless of whether there were any emergent qualities associated with them. There is no place in math for emergent properties which are not mathematical. Instead of a ‘res cogitans’ grounded in mental experience, information theory amounts to a ‘res machina’…a realm of abstract causes and effects which is both unextended and uninhabited.

The receding horizon of strong AI
If Descartes were around today, he might notice that computer systems which have been developed to work like minds lack the aesthetic qualities of natural people. They make bizarre mistakes in communication which remind us that there is nobody there to understand or care about what is being communicated. Even though there have been improvements in the sophistication of ‘intelligent’ programs, we still seem to be no closer to producing a program which feels anything. To the contrary, when we engage with AI systems or even CGI games, there is an uncanny quality which indicates a sterile and unnatural emptiness.

Incompleteness, fractals, and entropy
Gödel’s incompleteness theorem formalized a paradox which underlies all formal systems – that there are always true statements which cannot be proved within that system. This introduces a kind of nominalism into logic – a reason to doubt that logical propositions can be complete and whole entities. Douglas Hofstadter wrote about strange loops as a possible source of consciousness, citing complexity of self-reference as a key to the self. Fractal mathematics were used to graphically illustrate some aspects of self-similarity or self-reference and some, like Wai H Tsang have proposed that the brain is a fractal.

The work of Turing, Boltzmann, and Shannon treat information in an anti-nominalist way. Abstract data units are considered to be real, with potentially measurable effects in physics via statistical mechanics and through the concept of entropy. The ‘It from Bit’ view described by Wheeler is an immaterialist view that might be summed up as “It computes, therefore it is.”

3) Simulation Triumphalism

When Walt Disney produced full length animated features, he employed the techniques of fine art realism to bring completely simulated worlds to life in movie theaters. For the first time, audiences experienced immersive fantasy which featured no ‘real’ actors or sets. Disney later extended his imaginary worlds across the Cartesian divide to become “real” places, physical parks which are constructed around imaginary themes, turning the tables on realism. In Disneyland, nature is made artificial and artifice is made natural. Audioanimatronic robots populate indoor ‘dark rides’ where time can seem to stop at midnight even in the middle of a Summer day.

Video games
The next step in the development of simulacra culture took us beyond Hollywood theatrics and naturalistic fantasy. Arcade games featured simulated environments which were graphically minimalist. The simulation was freed from having to be grounded in the real world at all and players could identify with avatars that were little more than a group of pixels.

Video, holographic, and VR technologies have set the stage for acceptance of two previously far-fetched possibilities.  The first possibility is that of building artificial worlds which are constructed of nothing but electronically rendered data. The second possibility is that the natural world is itself such an illusion or simulation. This echoes Eastern philosophical views of the world as illusion (maya) as well as being a self-reflexive pattern (Jeweled Net of Indra). Both of these are suggested by the title of the movie The Matrix, which asks whether being able to control someone’s experience of the world means that they can be controlled completely.

The Eastern and Western religious concepts overlap in their view of the world as a Matrix-like deception against a backdrop of eternal life. The Eastern view identifies self-awareness as the way to control our experience and transcend illusion, while the Abrahamic religions promise that remaining devoted to the principles laid down by God will reveal the true kingdom in the afterlife. The ancients saw the world as unreal because the true reality can only be God or universal consciousness. In modern simulation theories, everything is unreal except for the logic of the programs which are running to generate it all.

4) Relativity

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity went a long way toward mending the Cartesian split by showing how the description of the world changes depending upon the frame of reference. Previously fixed notions of space, time, mass, and energy were replaced by dynamic interactions between perspectives. The straight, uniform axes of x,y,z, and t  were traded for a ‘reference-mollusk’ with new constants, such as the spacetime interval and the speed of light (c). The familiar constants of Newtonian mechanics, and Cartesian coordinates were warped and animated against a tenseless, Non-Euclidean space with no preferred frame of reference.

Even before quantum mechanics introduced a universe built on participation, Relativity had punched a hole in the ”view from nowhere’ sense of objectivity which had been at the heart of the scientific method since the 17th century. Now the universe required us to pick a point within spacetime and a context of physical states to determine the appearance of ‘objective’ conditions. Descartes extended substance had become transparent in some sense, mimicking the plasticity and multiplicity of the subjective ‘thinking substance’.

5) Neuroscience

Descartes would have been interested to know that his hypothesis of the seat of consciousness being the pineal gland had been disproved. People have had their pineal glands surgically removed without losing consciousness or becoming zombies. The advent of MRI technology and other imaging also has given us a view of the brain as having no central place which acts as a miniature version of ourselves. There’s no homunculus in a theater looking out on a complete image stored within the brain. There is also no hint of dualism in the brain as far as a separation between how and where fantasy is processed. To the contrary, all of our waking experiences seamlessly fuse internal expectations with external stimuli.

Neuroscience has conclusively shattered our naive realism about how much control we have over our own mind. Benjamin Libet’s showed that by the time we think that we are making a decision, prior brain activity could be used to predict what the decision would be. With perceptual tests we have shown that our experience of the real world not only contains glaring blind spots and distortions but that those distortions are masked from our direct inspection. Perception is incomplete, however that is no reason to conclude that it is an illusion. We still cannot doubt the fact of perception, only that in a complex kind of perception that a human being has, there are opportunities for conflicts between levels.

Neuroscientific knowledge has also opened up new appreciation for the mystery of consciousness. Some doctors have studied Near Death Experiences and Reincarnation reports. Others have talked about their own experiences in terms which suggest a more mystical presence of universal consciousness than we have imagined. Slowly the old certainties about consciousness in medicine are being challenged.

6) Psychology

Psychology has developed a model of mental illness which is natural rather than supernatural. Conditions such as schizophrenia and even depression are diagnosed and treated as neurological disorders. The use of brain-change drugs, both medically and recreationally has given us new insights into the specificity of brain function. Modern psychology has questioned earlier ideas such as Freud’s Id, Ego, and Superego, and the monolithic “I” before that so that there are many neurochemical roles and systems which contribute to making “us”.

To Decartes’ Cogito, the contemporary psychologist might ask whether the I refers to the sense of an inner voice who is verbalizing the statement, or to the sense of identification with the meaning of the concept behind the words, etc.

In all of the excitement of mapping mental symptoms to brain states, some of the most interesting work in psychology have languished. William James, Carl Jung, Piaget, and others presented models of the psyche which were more sympathetic to views of consciousness as a continuum or spectrum of conscious states. By shifting the focus away from first hand accounts and toward medical observation, some have criticized the neuroscientific influence on psychology as a pseudoscience like phrenology. The most important part of the psyche is overlooked, and patients are reduced to sets of correctable symptoms.

7) Semiotics

Perhaps the most underappreciated contribution on this list is that of semioticians such as C.S. Peirce and de Saussure. Before electronic computing was even imagined, they had begun to formalize ideas about the relation between signs and what is signified. Instead of a substance dualism of mind and matter, semiotic theories introduced triadic formulations such as between signs, objects, and concepts.

Baudrillard wrote about levels of simulation or simulacra, in which a basic reality is first altered or degraded, then that alteration is masked, then finally separated from any reality whatsoever. Together, these notions of semiotic triads and levels of simulation can help guide us away from the insolubility of substance dualism. Reality can be understood as a signifying medium which spans mind-like media and matter-like media. Sense and sense-making can be reconciled without inverting it as disconnected ‘information’.

8) Positivism & Post-Modernism

The certainty which Descartes expressed as a thinker of thoughts can be seen to dissolve when considered in the light of 20th century critics. Heavily criticized by some, philosophers such as Wittgenstein, Derrida, and Rorty continue to be relevant to undermining the incorrigibility of consciousness. The Cogito can be deconstructed linguistically until it is meaningless or nothing but the product of the bias of language or culture. Under Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, the Cogito can be seen as a failure of philosophy’s purpose in clarifying facts, thereby deflating it to an empty affirmation of the unknowable. Since, in his words “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” we may be compelled to eliminate it altogether.

What logical positivism and deconstructivism does with language to our idea of consciousness is like what neuroscience does through medicine; it demands that we question even the most basic identities and undermines our confidence in the impartiality of our thoughts. In a sense, it is an invitation for a cross-examination of ourselves as our own prosecution witness.

Wilfrid Sellars attack on the Myth of the Given sees statements such as the Cogito as forcing us to accept a contradiction where sense-datum (such as “I think”) are accepted as a priori facts, but justified beliefs (“therefore I am”) have to be acquired. How can consciousness be ‘given’ if understanding is not? This would seem to point to consciousness as a process rather than a state or property. This however, fails to account for lower levels of consciousness which might be responsible for even the micro level processing.

In my view , logic and language based arguments against the incorrigibility fail because they overlook their own false ‘given’, which is that symbols can literally signify reality. In fact, symbols have no authority or power to provide meaning, but instead act as a record for those who intend to preserve or communicate meaning.

An updated Cogito

“I think, therefore I am at least what a thinker thinks is a thinker.”

Rather than seeing Cartesian doubt as only a primitive beginning to science, I think it makes sense to try to pick up where he left off. By adding the puzzle pieces which have been acquired since then, we might find new respect for the approach. Relativism itself may be relative, so that we need not be compelled to deconstruct everything. We can consider that our sense of deconstruction and solipsism as absurd may be well founded, and that just because our personal intuition is often flawed does not mean that kneejerk counter-intuition is any better.

With that in mind, is the existence of the “I” really any more dubious than a quark or a rainbow? Does it serve us to insist upon rigid designations of ‘real’ vs ‘illusion’ in a universe which has demonstrated that its reality is more like illusion? At the same time, does it serve us to deny that all experiences are in some sense ‘real’, regardless of their being ineffable to us now?

*attributed to David Mermin, Richard Feynman, or Paul Dirac (depending on who you ask)

Real Light

August 29, 2015 Leave a comment

If you like precise definitions, here you go. These are not official definitions from scientific consensus or recognized authority, nor do I make any claims to their completeness or accuracy. The point here is to convey an understanding of the relation between light and seeing, and by extension, all sensible phenomena and all sensation.
EM light: Electromagnetic radiation which can be generated and detected using specific material sources undergoing chemical and nuclear reactions. That is, matter which is being transformed by matter, either directly through unbroken physical continuity or from a distance at the molecular or atomic level of description.

EM light is a thermodynamic phenomenon which need not be visible to the human eye, so that frequencies of EM which are infrared and lower or ultraviolet and higher can be considered ‘light’, electromagnetically. Radio waves and gamma rays would be considered light also, but that we tend not to think of them using that term. It can be argued that is meaningless convention, but I suspect that our intuition here is valuable.

Optical Light: Here’s where it gets interesting. When our eyes are open, we either see optical light directly, or we do not. If we see optical light directly when our eyes are open, then everything that we see is optical light, not just the presence of ‘light-stuff’ such as rainbows and glare. Optical light can be separated into at least three categories

  • Optical Light One (OL1) refers to everything that we see through our open eyes which is deemed to be publicly and empirically real. Images, shapes, figures, etc. The three dimensional, real world that we see surrounding us can be considered to be entirely composed of optical light. What else could we be looking at through our eyes except that which is made available through the photosensitvity of our retinal cells?
  • Optical Light Two (OL2 or Optical Light Qua Optical Light) refers only to those instances of optical light which are seen purely as optical light by itself. Beams or rays of bright/white light, iridescent films, spectral projections, specular and diffuse reflections, etc. OL2 is manipulated using material instruments such as lenses and mirrors. Turning on a flashlight produces a beam of OL2 which illuminates a room with OL1.
  • Optical Light Three (OL3 or Partially Confabulated Optical Light) acknowledges that what we see is filtered and modified, if not wholly confabulated neurologically, so that even with our eyes open, what we see is not necessarily the public, empirical phenomenon of OL1, but is in fact wholly or partially a kind of entopic, private hallucination that is calibrated by the nervous system for isomorphic, veridical correspondence to the impersonal reality. This is how we can see optical illusions: Our visual sense of the world (OL1) is filtered and distorted by our psychological condition and conditioning such that OL3 is taken for granted as OL1.

Phenomenal Light:
Phenomenal light may or may not be optical, and it may or may not be directly electromagnetic. Having left off at optical illusions, we can further make the distinction between the unnoticed illusions which we presume are being taken as visual reality of the outside world routinely, and the consciously noticed instances of optical illusion. Note the parallel between OL1 and OL2.

  • Phenomenal Light One (PL1) – The entire field of private visual experience. All experiences of color, form, brightness, etc which deviate in fact from public measurements by material instruments. All dreaming, imagining, and visualizing, all medical conditions with consequences that affect sight, etc would be PL1, whether they are recognized as such or not. Any seeing at all is PL1.
  • Phenomenal Light Two (PL2) – Refers only to the specific visual experiences in which phenomenal light is revealed to be private and phenomenal rather than empirical and public facing. These include entopic and eidetic hallucinations*, illusions, altered and ambiguous images, phosphenes, moire patterns, defects in the visual system, etc. PL2 phenomena look unreal – sights which can seem supernatural or psychedelic.*entopic hallucinations refer to purely geometric designs, often repeating spatially like wallpaper, and which seem tied closely to the optical-visual system. Eidetic hallucinations are apophenic or pareidoliac, such as seeing images in a cloud or Rorschach inkblot. Eidetic hallucinations, (I think) are more tied to the cortical-limbic system so that they can reveal private, even subconscious psychological content, and they can sometimes be manipulated consciously, as in an ambiguous image or lucid dream.
  • Phenomenal Light Three (PL3) – Following the lead of Optical Light, the third type of Phenomenal Light is Fully Confabulated Phenomenal Light. This refers to those visual experiences which are fully disconnected from public facing measurements. Dreams, visions, visual memories, delusions, NDEs, etc which may or may not seem private and may be interpreted as real even if it is not.

SR Light:
Light conceived of in special relativity seems to me to be grounded in the sense of light as the propagation of physical signals. Light begins to transform away from classical notions of light and toward the idea of light as a fundamental part of how space, time, and velocity are defined. Einstein made light identical to, or a proxy for a cosmological constant.

MP ‘Light’: Stands for light which is derived from a metaphorical reference and/or literal reference to a supposed metaphysical being. . At this point, we lose the attention of those who will not intellectually break ‘the fourth wall’ in their view of nature. On one side of the wall, where we anchor our epistemology in the EM and Optical sense of light, it seems ridiculous to include metaphorical language and magical, mystical conceptions of light as part of our worldview. Who are we to say that our fantasies and linguistic conventions should be taken seriously in the grand scheme of nature?

On the other side of the wall, it seems ridiculous not to include them. Who are we to assume that our thoughts and intuitions can be safely excluded from a complete description of nature? How can we be so arrogant as to think that the collective wisdom of billions of people throughout history has contributed no clues as to the essential nature of light?

The view from both sides sees its logic as more objective, only the former sees objectivity tied to excluding all traces of subjectivity and the latter sees objectivity itself as a subjective assumption and subjectivity itself as an objectively real phenomenon, if not the only objectively/unquestionably real phenomenon.

Metaphorical uses of the word light generally serve to elevate the significance of natural phenomena such as mood and aesthetics. People are said to be ‘glowing’, or ‘dazzling’. Metaphysical uses, by contrast are literal, but the referent is supernatural rather than natural. MP light is the kind of light we talk about when we want to fictionalize the fact of personal influence over matter or when we want to factualize the influence of super-personal ‘fictions’ over our lives.

  • MP ‘Light’ One (ML1): Light as a figurative or semi-figurative sense of ‘positive’ universal qualities such as goodness, empathy, and spiritual connection. ‘The light’ in this sense is affirmation of harmony with the divine and implies qualities of healing, guidance, and protection from forces of (evil/negative) ‘darkness’. Light used in this way mixes ordinary kinds of human experience of light with extraordinary, transpersonal psychological experiences.
  • MP ‘Light Two (ML2): Light in a fully figurative, naturalistic, but still quasi-theological sense of clarity, knowledge and understanding complete truth. “Seeing the light”. “A lightbulb went on for me.’, enlightenment, illumination, visionary, bright mind, insightful, etc. Changing one’s beliefs suddenly from a clouded, false view to one which is dramatically truer and clearer.
  • MP ‘Light’ Three (ML3): Light as an indication of literal consciousness (until the light went out in his eyes) and/or ‘radiant’ aesthetic qualities of kindness, love, warmth, charisma, etc. Here, light is the sign of a person’s individuality and sanity – their ability to be present, aware, and sane.

To sum up:

0 EM Light: Detectable by a light meter, but might be invisible.
1 Optical Light 1: Visible in a photograph of the world.
2 Optical Light 2: Visible effect composed purely of optical light.
3 Optical Light 3: Meters agree but observers may disagree on qualities.*
4. Phenomenal Light 1: Can be seen with eyes open or closed.
5. Phenomenal Light 2: Visible effect composed purely of phenomenal light.
6. Phenomenal Light 3: Visible in a dream world.
7. SR Light: EM light speed used as a cosmological constant.
8. MP Light 1: Light as a transpersonal sense of benevolence.
9. MP Light
2: Light as a specific sense of revelation and genius.
10. MP Light 3: Light as an indicator of individual consciousness or soul.

In Optical Light, light makes itself visible and invisible. When we see a beam of light, or an electric spark, for example, we are not seeing light itself, we are seeing the illumination of something which is normally invisible to us. Sparks or lightning, for example, do not occur in a vacuum, they are both examples of air molecules being ionized. We are seeing air light up, not light itself. In the case of a laser beam, we are seeing particles in the air light up. Only when we look at something like a spectrum of color do we get a sense of the OL2 sense of light-as-light-itself. Most other light sources are a combination of OL1 visible objects and OL2 light effects.

In EM light, visible light is only a thin sliver of a vast electromagnetic spectrum that is invisible to us. In Meta light, the electromagnetic spectrum is only a sliver of a vast metaphenomenal spectrum that is potentially accessible to us.

In SR light, the relativity of simultaneity is a calculation of the relation of moments of time to each other. In MP light, I suggest that the relativity of simultaneity occurs in the opposite way,  as the degree of inclusiveness of the moment, or the ‘size of the now’ which can be experienced from a given conscious perspective. A hummingbird probably has a smaller scale ‘now’ than we do, and if we attribute awareness to the entire Earth, I would expect a planet sized ‘now’ whose window exists in a context of geological time.

Setting aside light, any sense can be substituted. We can talk about sound being waves of fluctuating density in matter, and then the three levels of acoustic sound as it turns to phenomenal and MP sound, etc. Finally we can talk about qualia in general as it passes through its semaphoric, phoric, and metaphoric descriptions. What I want to know now though, if c is the speed of light, then is c² the speed of phenomenal qualia? How about c³…could that be the metaphenomenal operator?

*as in the blue/gold dress.


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