Archive for the ‘biology’ Category

Seeing Visibility

February 7, 2014 Leave a comment

Given that light has many strange properties, both on our natural scale as rays and on the elementary scale as photons, there is every reason to doubt that light qualifies as something which is unambiguously physical. On the other hand, since we cannot imagine a completely new color wheel, it would seem to say that the experience of seeing light is “real”, and not, a label for certain kinds of information that is fabricated in the brain. People who become blind at an early age, for example, experience stimulation to their visual cortex as tactile stimulation rather than seeing lights or spots.The condition of blindsight shows that parts of our brain can receive optical information without our having experienced that information personally as visual sensation.

In a way, white light can be considered to be what it looks like when transparency is concentrated. White light is when the quality of visibility is so saturated that it exceeds the range of discernment . A bright light illuminates a room not with whiteness but with clarity. To shed light on something is to flood the visual field with an immediacy of aesthetic acquaintance that suggests veridical qualities of the environment being illuminated. This is why we have metaphors such as ‘seeing the light’. Because it is about being connected with the presence of what is true and sensible, rather than being passively bombarded with particles. It can be said that our experience of seeing is not a direct detection of what is true, since there are so many ways to reveal optical illusion.

By calling it an illusion, we are framing the phenomena in a way as to implicate human fallibility rather than physics. Somehow we are wrong about what our eyes report, yet it is not clear that our assumption about what our eyes are reporting is scientifically valid. In fact, if it were not for these optical illusions, science would have very little to go on in determining the nature of vision as separate from physical truth, so it is actually the gaps between our expectations and the truth which reveal more truth, both about the nature of visual awareness, optics, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics. Optical illusions are an encyclopedia of the nature of perceptual illusion, physical reality, and the relation between the two.

The folk science explanation for light perception generally begins with the idea that we can see light hitting our retina. That may be true, but not scientifically. The part that light plays in our visual system ends with the isomerization of rhodopsin in the retina. If what we see as “light” is in the visual cortex, then obviously what the visual cortex receives is not photons from the outside world, and it is not a direct analog that shows up as a small screen of images in an MRI. To even guess at some of the content of our visual field requires a blind statistical reconstruction. There is no plain-text transmission of images in our brain to simply hack into and view.

The effect that light has on the retina is merely to trigger the geometric extension of Vitamin A molecules and stop the flow of glutamate to the bipolar cells. That is well behind the first ganglion that would lead to the optic nerve and visual cortex. I propose instead that photons are not entities that are independent of their transmitters and receivers, and that light is therefore not physical but rather inter-physical, aka, phenomenal, aka sensory. Photons are measures of the sensitivity of our mode of detection. It is neither ray, beam, particle, or wave, but rather a rhythmic phenomenalization of matter – a feeling that matter has about what is going on around it. By making inferences beyond our sensible grasp, I think that Quantum Theory has given noun and verb-like properties to what are ultimately adjectives. Bosons and fermions may not be like that at all, but rather they are opportunities for matter to re-acquaint itself. The elementary measurable features of the cosmos may not be particles or strings, but qualities which characterize the capacity of matter to measure and interact with itself. Physics is a mirror. For every action and equal and opposite reaction, because equal and opposite reaction is a perfect reflection of our mode of scientific inquiry. We are investing our coins of empiricism in nature, extracting the empirical value, and recording the profit in our scientific ledger, like good, serious 18th century gentlemen.

It seems to me that only a medium which is intrinsically filled with the sense of color, form, and intensity across the many physical scales could reliably and veridically bridge the gap between public material realism private experience.The notion of a seeing light as a Rube Goldberg patchwork of conveyance into separate effects on every level*, all transported through a one dimensional collision detection schema is not consistent with reality. There are too many examples of people who have seen things in dreams and visions, too many qualities of visual experience which cannot be decomposed sensibly to pixels or lines for the photon explanation to be satisfactory. The qualia of color alone, whose idiopathic shifts and wheel-like symmetry have no place in the smooth continuum of the electromagnetic spectrum.

I suggest that light is only one specific form of a more universal medium, and that this medium is already known to us informally by the word ‘sense’. Sense as in sensation, sensitivity, sensor, but also as in making sense, sixth sense, and ‘in the sense of’. The unity of all sense can be more precisely expressed as ‘primordial identity pansensitivity’, ‘nested sensory-motive participation’, or even something like ‘self-tesselating aesthetic re-aquaintence’, depending on how technical and pretentious we want to get. From this Absolute firmament, and I think only from this firmament, can we get the full range of private experience, public physics, symbolic information, and the capacity to compare and contrast them. Only when physics is seen as identical with sense can physics be completed.

On the elementary level, with a nested sense primitive, we get relativistic locality (so eigenmetrics rather than eigenstates). Sense is modulating its own self-transparency and reflectivity to generate eigenmetric milieus – levels of scale that foster certain kinds of aesthetic themes and activities. The micro-world with its mathematical-molecular-insectoid clarity is different from the soft, lush features of zoological-arboreal-botanical existence. On some level perhaps, sense is nearly undiluted, and so the entire history of the cosmos is as a single now – a white whole singularity in which the now cannot even be completed and the here cannot hold even the hint of a ‘there’. On that level, there is non-locality.

*optical, molecular, cellular, ocular, neurological, psychological, sociological, zoological..

Free Will and the Unconscious

December 15, 2013 Leave a comment

The key oversight, in my opinion, in the approach taken by neuroscientific research into free will (Libet et al) is in the presumption that all that is not available to us personally is ‘unconscious’ rather than conscious sub-personally. When we read these words, we are not conscious of their translation from pixels to patches of contrasting optical conditions, to loops and lines, to letters and words. From the perspective of our personal awareness, the words are presented as a priori readable and meaningful. We are not reminded of learning to read in kindergarten and have no feeling for what the gibberish that we are decoding would look like to someone who could not read English. The presentation of our world is materially altered at the sub-personal, but not ‘unconscious’ level. If it were unconscious, then we would be shocked to find that words were made of lines and loops or pixels.

In the same way, a robotic task is quickly anticipated, even 10 seconds ahead of time, without our personality getting involved. This does not mean that it is not ‘us’ making the choice, only that there is no need for such an easy and insignificant choice to be recognized by another layer of ‘us’, and reported by a third layer of ‘us’ to the personal layer of us.

When we work on the sub-personal level of neurons, we are addressing a layer of reality in which we, as persons, do not exist. Because we have not yet factored in perceptual relativity as a defining existential influence, we are making the mistake of treating a human being as if they were made of generic Legos instead of a single unique and unrepeatable living cell which has intentionally reproduced itself a trillion times over – each carrying the potential for intention and self-modifying teleology.

Biology From The Inside

December 14, 2013 4 comments

This gif is one of the set that has been going around, but it reminds me of the concept that I have of biological awareness (as opposed to primordial awareness which is embodied by physics and does not require biology). Whether the inorganic universe is four dimensional (3 + 1 time) or just seems that way from within a two dimensional hologram, it seems likely to me that the experience of biological organisms is best modeled along a fifth axis (aesthetic qualities as more than the sum of their conditional parts).

What I like about the repeating gif, besides the coincidental “5” relating to the fifth dimension, is that it suggests a kind of morphological respiration. Front to back, parts to whole, a seamless, self-metabolizing transformation. As a biological organism, my experience of the outside world is limited to that which can be modeled as objects – that is, through an aesthetically reduced feature set in which a bunch of five dimensional urges and responses are flattened into a four dimensional narrative on multiple levels.

In a previous post, I was looking at how sensitivity might be understood as being ‘key composited’ or perhaps ‘discomposed’ across multiple frames of reference. By this I mean that the apparent distribution of our psychological interface across the tissue of the brain can be compared to a flatland visualization:

If instead of the sphere, it were a hand passing through the flatland plane, it would appear to the omniscient flatlander that there were five separate circles appearing separately, yet somehow seeming coordinated in their action. The fingers are part of a single hand, but within the constraint of the two dimensional sensitivity, the unity of the hand is discomposed across space in the literal sense, but figuratively some kind of unity can be inferred through the synchronized coincidence of the movement.

Now imagine that instead of another graphable dimension, the fifth dimension is one which is as orthogonal to spacetime as the three dimensions of space are to the one dimension of time. Feeling, like pain and pleasure, are like a coloring, or keying which cuts across multiple layers of seemingly unrelated public events. Not only is feeling a different kind of thing as forms or functions but it is a dimension in which dimension itself is transcended. Feeling is not a model or a measure, but rather it is the primordial context from which all measure is derived and all modeling is made demonstrable.

From the discomposed perspective ‘out there’, we are a coincidence of coincidences. A mysteriously synchronized, dynamic orchestration of hundreds of billions of neurons, organelles, molecules, etc which corresponds to the behavior of an animal’s body.

The feelings which we experience are not located in the tissue of the brain, rather the brain itself is part of the wider landscape of the totality of experience. The brain as a whole is, like our body as a whole and all of the cells and molecules that make it up at any given time, a four dimensional reduction of a transdimensional privacy.

Under Eigenmorphism, the base of each pyramid of perception is made up of the apex of countless low level pyramids of perception. When we look at an fMRI or the brain, we are trying to look at the view from top of our own pyramid through the blind eyes of its own bottom. Feeling is stripped out (not to mention the higher dimensions of meta-feeling/emotion/cognition/intuition) and we are left with a four dimensional mechanical skeleton with no interiority.

Being so impressed with ourselves and what we have accomplished by questioning our naive introspection with science, we naturalize the discomposed view and epiphenomenalize the native, gestalt perspective. All of this makes perfect sense within the flatlanded context of topological physics, where spontaneous appearances and disappearances are assumed only to reflect each other, rather than private transdimensional presentations.

I suspect that the universe which is experienced in the absence of all living organisms is a much different thing that it would appear to us. What we see as a four or two dimensional manifold is only a snapshot of discomposed histories. It seems inanimate to us because we seem so animated to ourselves. The highest awareness of our own interior physics seems to us unreal and crazy…and it is, relative to the inertia of human awareness as a whole. Like the inverted image of our retina however, I think that because our disposition spans so many levels of life and physical experience, we tend to see the mechanical patterns which all of the layers have in common, rather than the coincidence which is also animating them from the top down.

Like the transformer car in the gif, the signature of our presence and intention coincides with the interplay of entropy and significance. The living cell, from our perspective looking through our eyes and a microscope’s lens, looks like a homeostatic emergence. Seemingly conjured, like Brownian motion, from the statistical collisions of countless microphysical conditions.

This is not completely untrue. The mechanical conditions of a cell can be disrupted mechanically. There is bottom up causality. What has not been properly investigated yet is the other perspective. The one responsible for the biological property of healing and global integrity. If we think of the flux between entropy and significance as a carrier tone for biological life, then it might be easier to conceptualize how the universe is as much a dynamic interaction of nested simplicities as it is a mechanical progression from simplicity to complexity. The image of the metabolic transformer stands in contrast to the stillness of the axis of its transformation.

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