Our Universe of Nested Contrast and Criticality

April 4, 2020 Leave a comment

From my blog

Life is almost infinitely cruel and almost infinitely generous.
The night sky presents a view of the universe which is defined by two striking extremities. There is not merely dark and light, or yin and yang, but twinkling brilliance scattered across a pitiless black void. The stars are spread out in a way that presents another set of qualitative extremes – pattern and patternlessness.

The condition of being poised precisely between order and chaos is sometimes known as criticality. It is also, uncoincidentally, the way that brain activity looks to us from the outside. When we look at the world, the degree to which it makes sense is calibrated by our own sensitivity to patterns. That sensitivity, in turn, changes dynamically according to our physiological states and our psychological participation. We can look at the night sky we can see patterns that other people can see also, if they look at them in the same or similar way. Astrology is an example of practices that explore this shared criticality of perception and participation. To see constellations in the stars, and to see in their shapes reflections of your own shared experience and culture is not only the beginning of astrology and astronomy, it is the beginning of religion and science as collective activities around which civilization has been built.

All formal attempts at divination seem to exploit the criticality between discovery and invention. People use cards, coins, tea leaves, dice, etc as a way to access the general probability stream of the moment, and then to intentionally interrupt that stream and freeze it. It is a way of teasing uncoincidence out of coincidence.

When we look at the sky, do we choose to see a ‘bright blessed day’ and the ‘dark sacred night’, or do we prefer to see through such fanciful illusions to a starker, but possibly more accurate truth? Feeling and seeing have their own polarity in thinking and knowing. Using the concept of anthropcentrism, we can reframe the appearance of contrasting qualities as inevitable rather than miraculous. We can look at all dualities as simply the natural consequence of detection methods being employed by body systems. Hot and cold are sensations that signal some proximity to the upper and lower bounds of our body’s biochemical-thermodynamic range. As we acclimate to artificially controlled environments, our body adapts these signals to straddle a much narrower range of ‘comfort’. Even a single degree of deviation in temperature can become uncomfortable for one person, but comfortable to another, even as they live in the same house and relax on the same couch.

Should I try to tie these themes together, and sum them up in some kind of clear point, or is it better to let this stand in criticality? Are questions better than answers? Are meta-questions invitations to criticality or meta-criticalities?

Us, the Virus, and Multisense Metaphysics

April 3, 2020 Leave a comment

In my view, there are three distinct, contrasting layers of causality:

1. Subpersonal (mechanical, generic, repetitive, statistical, meaningless)

2. Personal (dualistic, intentional, autobiographical, semi-meaningful)

3. Transpersonal (transcendental, synchronistic, archetypal, super-meaningful)

For most individuals, I suspect that we are here primarily to participate in a personal experience.  This consists of a human lifetime which combines both elements that are tailor-made for us as conscious subjects, and elements that are arbitrary from a subjective perspective and are instead brought about statistically by relatively objective and inevitable conditions. We are the union of the intentional and the unintentional. One of the consequences of that union is that our ability to participate consciously tilts the balance toward the intentional, even if only in the fact that intention is conceivable. I think that playing this role of person necessarily requires us to act as a gatekeeper between the levels above and below our own personal range of experience. The person is like a transistor, modulating the flow of cause and effect between the subpersonal (bottom-up, unintentional) and transpersonal (top-down, super-intentional), as well as initiating their own unique causes on a personal and interpersonal level. We are choosing, little by little, whether to support broadly inclusive, sensible qualities of experience (what I call Significance) or to support less-significant, ‘lower’ agendas that are purely selfish and insignificant. We have the privilege to decide whether to emphasize the ‘better angels of our nature’, or to indulge in ego glorification, or to descend further into dehumanization (the subpersonal/impersonal).

In the context of my Multisense Realism metaphysics, I use the term significance in a formal, and somewhat neologistic way. The idea is that since the universe is made of conscious aesthetic (feelings, sensations, qualities) experiences rather than something like information or physical mechanisms (anesthetic forms, functions, numbers), there are some interpretations of physical law that need to be updated. If my view is on the right track, then what we understand through the Second Law of Thermodynamics is only addressing the lowest, subpersonal/impersonal layer of nature. When we run scientifically controlled experiments using tangible objects as instruments to exert and record tangible influences over other tangibly measurable phenomena, then by design we are going to exclude the personal and transpersonal layers of causality to a large extent. The very methods we are using to inspect nature are specifically suppressing the influence of higher consciousness in the service of science, however, without higher consciousness, what remains of science is, like the phenomena that are being studied, ultimately entropic and meaningless. The point of science is to assist higher consciousness, and where it fails to do that, it is a net loss for civilization. Optimizing financial profit is not a feature of higher consciousness, it is an agenda within personal and interpersonal consciousness.

With Multisense Realism I have attempted (in a somewhat lazy and half-assed way) to propose ideas for rehabilitating our worldview on a philosophical level with a model of nature in which mechanism, personal participation, and transpersonal phenomena are integrated as parts of a single ‘aesthetic’ spectrum. It now appears to be time to take a shot at applying this philosophical project more to real life, and perhaps specifically toward strategies related to coping with the ‘long emergency’ that humanity is currently entering.

What then might the MSR philosophy suggest that we can do personally during this time?

1. Be a good gatekeeper. It is our personal responsibility to negotiate between our body and emotional needs (subpersonal and intrapersonal levels of experience) and our higher guidance of interpersonal and transpersonal awareness (thinking, informing ourselves, intuition, empathy, inspiration, divinity). Being a good gatekeeper means being a good leader to your body and a good citizen to society and the cosmos. It means asserting the significance of higher agendas over lower ones, however, there is also a danger in allowing raw transpersonal impulses to fill us with false hopes, superstitions, myth and drama. Sanity is the mid-range between the overly autistic and overly artistic. The place in between is the best place for most of us to build our psychological house-of-bricks. The key to being a good gatekeeper, IMO is to get into the habit of addressing sensations and impulses, emotions and thoughts in an intelligent way: To sort out which experiences are caused by automatic mechanisms that can be ignored or adjusted, and which rise to the attention of our personal and participation. We should ask ourselves, how does sanity work? This becomes more important in a time of mass crisis and prolonged isolation.

2. I think that we are here because there are some things that can only be experienced directly from the perspective of being a particular, unique person. It is important that to ‘be yourself’ to a greater extent during these times and resist the pressure to degenerate into stereotypical roles and behaviors that fill the vacuum during a low-level crisis such as a war or pandemic. The virus event is forcing us to choose, with our actions, whether to dehumanize or rehumanize.

3. Understand and practice self-healing. This gets into some potentially dangerous speculation. I am not a qualified expert by any means, and I would never suggest that anyone ignore medical realities. What I offer here is an interpretation of the placebo effect which gives us mental license to intervene on our own behalf and potentially on behalf of others. I think that the ‘placebo’ interpretation of medically inert intervention is based on the mechanistic, sub-personal worldview described in the first paragraph. If my view is on the right track, this is a biased misinterpretation that effectively cuts off our access to half of the available resources for wellness and healing. Without getting too far into the weeds, I will just say that while we must collectively focus on mechanical, functional solutions to public health and social crises, we can also personally stretch our sensitivity into the transpersonal levels of intuition and synchronicity to discover new paths of healing and support. Again, ungated access to the transpersonal can and will by default lead us into magical thinking and superstition, so it’s important not to abandon our post with uncritical thinking. What I am suggesting is that what we think and feel are powerful, reality-altering influences, which we can also have power over to some degree.

Ok, now I’ll get into the weeds. Feel free to ignore the rest of this.

A more technical justification for how personal consciousness can alter subpersonal realities comes from the idea that ’emergent properties’ are a negentropic influence on physical phenomena. That is, conscious perception and attention have the effect of simplifying complex physical phenomena and consolidating fine-grained details. Even from a materialistic perspective, that is the function of consciousness – to winnow ‘sense data’ down into a manageable stream.

My thinking is that because the details being eliminated and summarized by perception are microphysical, they are skewed toward disorderly, entropic tendencies. The second law of thermodynamics applies to physics, but not to perception, and not to physics that is under the influence of intention.

When we look at a video screen, for example, we don’t see an ocean of photoelectric and biochemical effects, we see an orderly visible image, with legible words and sentences. We are using the sub-personal ocean of meaningless-but-tangible events as a medium through which higher level, less tangible perceptions and understandings can take place. Our participation is having an effect on the balance of entropy and negentropy as well as in the selection of which negentropic resolutions are emphasized. When we look at an optical illusion such as the duck-rabbit ambiguous image, we can, through our attention, choose whether to see the duck, the rabbit, or neither. (Negentropic resolution 1, Negentropic resolution 2, or unresolved Entropic state). We may be able to even create novel, proprietary perceptual gestalts (Negentropic resolution X).

What I am suggesting is that part of what is going on in the placebo effect is that when we participate in an intervention from higher levels of consciousness onto lower levels, we are changing the momentum of entropy and negentropy in our own experience, which includes our body. Just as the Safety Match meme illustrates how social distancing can interrupt the domino effect of the exponential spread of disease, so too can our conscious interventions interrupt or accelerate automatic body processes.

(image by Juan Delcan and Valentina Izaguirre)

We can see more and do more with our body than our body can without us. As spectacular and complex as the human body is, it is by itself, just programmed to grow, reproduce, and die. It is our personal consciousness, and its power to channel transpersonal genius into the world which makes the difference. All that we have to do is to channel wisely. We have to choose when and how to choose.

Another MSR Totality Diagram

February 16, 2020 Leave a comment


Qualia Basics

January 7, 2020 4 comments

A quick way to clarify what qualia is for those who are opposed to the term on the grounds that it doesn’t mean anything.

Top mug: Blue qualia image based on electromagnetic radiation near the 490 nanometer range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Center mug: Red Qualia image based on electromagnetic radiation near the 690 nanometer range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Bottom mug: Multicolored Qualia image based on electromagnetic radiation near the 780 nanometer range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

What you see is qualia, not electromagnetic radiation. You can see red qualia in your dreams or visual imagination, but you couldn’t see electromagnetic radiation in the visible range there because it doesn’t physically exist in your brain. Electromagnetism is invisible and is a property transmitted by tangible, mechanical, photoelectric effects on matter in public space.

Visible light is qualia which can be *stimulated to appear* through tangible, mechanical photo-electric effects on matter in public space, but the qualia itself is not that stimulation. The qualia itself is a visible, aesthetic-participatory phenomenon that depends on your ability to access an intangible palette of visible hues, the extent of which is unknowable (there are at least three primary colors, but there may be many more, or infinitely many more, or new ones all the time…we don’t know.)


Sam Harris Interview of Donald Hoffman

January 6, 2020 Leave a comment

Listening to this podcast:



My view has developed along similar lines as Donald Hoffman’s. One important difference is that I take his observation about the world we perceive being a sensory desktop or data structure contrived from fitness payoffs a step further. I plug that observation back in to itself, so that the expectation of data structures and fitness payoffs are also part of how we are using a sensory desktop.

In other words, after we understand how survival of a tangible, mortal body shapes our entire perception, we can see that this understanding is also biased and contrived by the particular modes of sense and sense making that have evolved since the Early Modern Period.

This means that the desktop we experience is different from the unimaginable ‘real world’ not because it is fabricated but because tangibility is only one aspect of ‘world realization’, and even the unimaginable ‘real world’ is actually only another level and scale of the same sense desktop. Yes, human perception has been shaped by fitness payoffs from animal mortality, and that has been supercharged in the centuries since Galileo and Descartes, but that doesn’t mean that perception in general is shaped ONLY by those anthropological>zoological>biological fitness payoffs, and that does not mean that sense experience itself (sensation>feeling>perception>awareness>personal consciousness) arises FROM fitness payoffs.

If my view is on the right track, it’s *all* a desktop, and there is nothing that can ever exist which is not a ‘user interface’, even if the ‘user’ is a sub-personal or impersonal frame of perception, i.e. a pre-physical sensory-motive event. So yes, I think that our movie is directed by evolution (as presented in our desktop of tangibility/causality/realism/mortality), however even the director’s world that our movie fictionalizes is itself nothing but the larger, older movies that we currently use as a movie *theater* (physics, information).


Beyond the Brain

January 4, 2020 Leave a comment

When we look at the brain, I think that we aren’t looking directly at the back end of our whole experience, we are looking at the back end of only our body-related experiences through the limited front-end view provided via our eyeballs and skin sensors.

We are not seeing a 1:1 map of our personal psyche, we are only seeing the inflection point between our personal psyche and the sub-personal psyche. As complex as the brain structure and activity is (3d connectome + 1d time + 1d voluntary interaction modifiers), it is still only a 5d *surface* of an even higher dimensional phenomenon linking to the transpersonal levels of totality.

Dr. Neil Theise Interview

December 15, 2019 Leave a comment

Great Stuff from Dr. Theise and Sean Webb (The Walrus) Starting from about halfway through, I suggest that the low level randomness of the body is a symptom of greater penetration of consciousness into the physicalized vocabulary either in an absolute sense or relative sense or both, rather than a cause of emergence by something like entropy modulation. In the relative sense, I mean that it may be the case that on a slow enough and large enough scale, even the lowest levels of randomness take on life-like appearances, so that living organisms appear to have more low level randomness to us because we are alive and therefore more sensitive to our own class of ‘likeness’. I propose that like experiences have more access and more nuanced renderings of each other, so that any experiences of a sufficiently similar perceptual sampling rate will be experienced as ‘alive’, or more alive to each other than dissimilarly timescaled experiences.

I also think that the appearance of emergent symptoms in artificial systems need not be an indication of a rich, multi-sensory experience, i.e. that a simulation has begun for the bits or avatar collection of bits, but rather reflects the ‘autistic’ ghost-limb type residuation of the isolated band of intellectualized-game theoretic sense which has put the bit-nursing technology together in the first place. The bits aren’t having an experience, we are using matter as a resonator/reflector to conjure an image of one surface or bounded slice of the continuum of universal perception. Computers mirror an image of intelligence back to that intelligence (such as ours) but are not themselves hosting intelligence. By contrast, the brain is an image (our image shared by macro scale animal experiences) of sub-personal experience that is actually bridging the gap between personal and impersonal (astrophysical) scales of experience. Brain has computational properties but is not computing anything. A computer has low level experiential properties but those are not accumulating a higher order of experience via constitutive, many-to-one emergence. I think that all experiences are a top-down divergence riding on a bottom up pseudo-emergence, as well as a center-out/in expansion. In other words, we are part beast, part angel, and part unique/unprecedented person. The beast part is, in its own context part micro-beast (cell), part sub-person  or sub-self (impulses, urges, id), and part person (its ‘God’/superego/trans-subself…how the animal’s body is influenced by its unseen master…our personal will influences our body from the top down via voluntary control over efferent nervous impulses > muscle tissue).

As far as self-organization goes, I would add that while I think all phenomena are conscious experience in some sense and scale, the way that organization emerges or is implemented may not be visible to the experiences whose ‘body’/exterior facing rendering is being organized. It may not be strictly correct to say that unintelligent agents ‘self-organize’, or that the appearance of spontaneous organization is a symptom of the micro-intelligence of what is being organized. We may be observing a teleonomy based, ad hoc statistical organization rather than a teleologically based intent to organize. There may be teleology, but not on the same level as the body appearance of organization.

A nit picky thing, Dr. Theise was talking about mass emerging from fundamental energy, i.e. particles appearing randomly in the primordial quantum context. It seems to me that this connects to what he was saying about figure/ground switching in an ambiguous image (like this famous face-vase one:

Isn’t the difference between mass and energy a figure-ground relation based on frame of reference? So I’m thinking that while from any given perspective/perceptual frame massive particles appear and disappear in a given local scope of perception, those events are reflections of overlap between one part of the scope and another which are appearing and disappearing…freckles of self-impermeability…a sense of self-spatiotemporalizing insensitivities which serve to spatialize and temporalize (objectify and subjectify) the sense of tangibility from tactile sense qualia. Maybe that was sort of implied though.

In the second half, the conversation goes into a direction that really meshes perfectly with what I suggest in MSR:


The main difference is that I’m trying to replace all references to emergence of one level of consciousness from many agents on another level to a model of a kind of parallel divergence into different levels of unity and “unit-y” (disunity). This is not to say that I don’t believe our bodies evolved from biology, or that biology didn’t evolve from chemistry in a sense, but that since I think that the universe is primarily driven by the teleological saturation/signficance-seeking nature of consciousness into richer and richer subjectivity (sensation > perception > consciousness ‘phorologies‘*), the evolution of tangible objects and structures (physical > chemical > biological morphologies) is only an unintended/teleonomical consequence of the separation of otherwise united experience-lines. The ants are causing the ant hill, but the ant hill may or may not be a symptom of ant hill-scale subjectivity. The ant is building the ant hill, but if the ant hill has a conscious experience associated with it, I would expect it to be as much biosphere consciousness from the top down as it is ant consciousness from the bottom up. Yes, at the bottom and the top of the stack (quantum and cosmological scales) there is a dissolving or transcending of the subject-object dualism, but again that appearance and disappearance of dualism is itself perspective-dependent. If I change my perspective, my frequency-scale of permeability-impermeability to the Totality of consciousness, then what I can see as duality and non-duality changes. In a psychologically contracted/focused state, I see diametrically opposed subject-object (phoric-morphic) duality. In a deep trance, psychedelic state, etc, “I” don’t exist except as a metaphor for a particular expression/diffraction of human archetype. Under general anesthetic “I” don’t exist except as a particular sequence of genetic semaphores repeating within a community of cells.


My suspicion is that the boundaries of any conscious experience will be rendered as being driven by quasi-random (bottom facing coincidence) or quasi-fateful (top facing synchronicities). The random/fated appearance is just our own scope’s bias, its ‘red shift’ toward the bottom of its stack or its blue-violet shift toward the top of the stack. In terms of causality, within any given experience, it is the bottom end of the stack that can be controlled by tangible means, technology and instruments which extend the exterior, body-world facing senses of touch-move while the top end of the stack controls us by intangible means…serendipities and synchronicities which open our intuitive sense modalities to be ‘touched’ and ‘moved’ by the transcendent ‘spirit’ world. There is a meta thing I’m doing there also in contrasting the literal and metaphorical sense of touch and move (see diagram above…metaphorical = high end of the stack, ‘semaphorical’ = low end of the stack).


*phorologies = neologism for aesthetic elaborations of direct feeling and sensation, as diametrically opposed to ‘morphologies’, which would be morphological-topological renderings of indirect feeling/sensation.

Top = Transpersonal = Metaphoric
Center = Personal = Phoric
Bottom = Subpersonal = Semaphoric

Top = Cosmological scale spacetime = Metamorphic
Center = Meso-scale objects & subjects = Morphic-Phoric
Bottom = Quantum-scale particle-wave = Semaphoric


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