Posts Tagged ‘art’


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:


Computation as Shadow of Consciousness

February 5, 2014 Leave a comment

Computation as Shadow of Consciousness

I’m borrowing a (fantastic) image from

Incredible Shadow Art Created From Junk by Tim Noble & Sue Webster.

to make a point about the Map-Territory distinction and how it pertains to simulated intelligence.

Although a computer simulation produces an output over time, that does not mean that it is four dimensional (Time can be an additional dimension on any number of dimensions – a cartoon can be 2D but still last fifteen minutes.) By using the terms N and N-1 dimensional, I’m trying to make the point that no matter how extensive the measurements we make and how compelling their coherence seems to be, it can still be one dimension flatter than the original without our knowing it.

In the case of consciousness, I would say that it absolutely cannot be defined or described quantitatively, so that it truly is N dimensional, or trans-dimensional. Whatever number of dimensions we want to ascribe to some aspect of consciousness, that description will always be n-1 to the real thing. That is, in my understanding, the nature of representation – a destructive reduction of a presentation through a lower level (n-1 or n-x) medium which can be reconstructed by at the higher level if, and only if, there is a higher level interpreter.

Some might object to the metaphor on the grounds that computation is not like a shadow, since changing a computation has predictable effects, while changing a shadow’s appearance does not effect the object. That’s true, but again, in this case, I am using N dimensional phenomena, so that interactiveness is part of the conservation of the temporal, before and after/cause and effect axis.  In such a scenario, the flatland effect itself is modified somewhat and there are more dimensions shared. More shared dimensions = more conservation of sensory-motive agreement, however, there is also more that is not shared (feeling, sensations, colors, understanding, for example).

Some who are more familiar with the spectacular capabilities of cutting edge computation might object to the over-simplification, and say that I am criticizing an older generation of approaches to machine learning. There is some truth to that, but in the rarefied air of higher math, we get into what I call the super-impersonal level of intelligence. By comparison, the super-personal level of awareness could be described as mythic or poetic. Synchronicity can be concentrated through divination techniques like Ouija boards and Tarot cards. The Platonic ‘realm’ accessed through ultra-sophisticated computation are, in my view, a dual of that kind of divination, except rooted in the generic and repeatable rather than the instantaneous and volitional. The computer is an oracle to impersonal truths about truth itself, and can build locally applicable strategies from there, however, it cannot factor in any kind of personal feeling or intention.

The computational oracle is much more seductive than divination, since it does not leave the interpretation up to the audience. The computational oracle’s output is to be interpreted as objective fact…which is tremendously useful of course, when we are talking about objects. The danger is when we start believing what it has to say about subejcts. As correct as the computer is about objective truth, it is equally incorrect about people. In the same/opposite way, the Ouija board is neither correct nor incorrect, but offers possibilities that tantalize the imagination.

Robot and Wizard

January 31, 2014 Leave a comment


Chess, Media, and Art

January 15, 2014 Leave a comment

I was listening to Brian Regan’s comedy bit about chess, and how a checkmate is such an unsatisfying ending compared to other games and sports. This is interesting from the standpoint of the insufficiency of information to account for all of reality. Because chess is a game that is entirely defined by logical rules, the ending is a mathematical certainty, given a certain number of moves. That number of moves depends on the computational resources which can be brought to bear on the game, so that a sufficiently powerful calculator will always beat a human player, since human computation is slower and buggier than semiconductors. The large-but-finite number of moves and games* will be parsed much more rapidly and thoroughly by a computer than a person could.

This deterministic structure is very different (as Brian Regan points out) from something like football, where the satisfaction of game play is derived explicitly from the consummation of the play. It is not enough to be able to claim that statistically an opponent’s win is impossible, because in reality statistics are only theoretical. A game played in reality rather than in theory depends on things like the weather and can require a referee. Computers are great at games which depend only on information, but have no sense of satisfaction in aesthetic realism.

In contrast to mechanical determinism, the appearance of clichés presents a softer kind of determinism. Even though there are countless ways that a fictional story could end, the tropes of storytelling provide a feedback loop between audiences and authors which can be as deterministic -in theory- as the literal determinism of chess. By switching the orientation from digital/binary rules to metaphorical/ideal themes, it is the determinism itself which becomes probabilistic. The penalty of making a movie which deviates too far from the expectations of the audience is that it will not be well received by enough people to make it worth producing. Indeed, most of what is produced in film, TV, and even gaming is little more than a skeleton of clichés dressed up in more clichés.

The pull of the cliché is a kind of moral gravity – a social conditioning in which normative thoughts and feelings are reinforced and rewarded. Art and life do not reflect each other so much as they reflect a common sense of shared reassurance in the face of uncertainty. Fine art plays with breaking boundaries, but playfully – it pretends to confront the status quo, but it does so within a culturally sanctioned space. I think that satire is tolerated in Western-objective society because of its departure from the subjective (“Eastern”) worldview, in which meaning and matter are not clearly divided. Satire is seen as both not as threatening to the material-commercial machine, which does not depend on human sentiments to run, and also the controversy that satire produces can be used to drive consumer demands. Something like The Simpsons can be both a genuinely subversive comedy, as well as a fully merchandized, commercial meme-generating partner of FOX.

What lies between the literally closed world of logical rules and the figuratively open world of surreal ideals is what I would call reality. The games that are played in fact rather than just in theory, which share timeless themes but also embody a specific theme of their own are the true source of physical sustenance. Reality emerges from the center out, and from the peripheries in.

*“A guesstimate is that the maximum logical possible positions are somewhere in the region of +-140,100,033, including trans-positional positions, giving the approximation of 4,670,033 maximum logical possible games”

Qui? Que

August 15, 2013 1 comment


The Doctor Prescribes Brian Eno – Blog of the Long Now

April 24, 2013 Leave a comment

The Doctor Prescribes Brian Eno – Blog of the Long Now

In the video, Brian Eno brings up two points which relate to the last posts about intelligence, wisdom, and their relation to entropy.

“I think that one of the things that art offers you is the chance to surrender, to not be in control any longer”.

Right. That makes sense. Art debits the private side of the phenomenal ledger. The side which is concerned with the loaning of time to be returned to the Absolute with interest. Wisdom, especially in the exalted forms of Eastern philosophy, is all about surrender and flow. Dissolving of the ego. The ego is the public interface for the private self, and the seat of the kind of intelligence addressed by causal entropic forces – machine intelligence, strategic effectiveness. Important locally but trivial ultimately, in the face of eternity.

On the other side of the ledger is the chance to strive and control using intelligence. Western philosophy tends toward cultivating objectivity and critical thinking. It is a canon of skeptical intelligence and empiricism from which science emerged. Clear thinking and resisting the desire to surrender are what debit the public facing side of the ledger. Art and Science then, are the sense and motive of human culture…the tender and tough, the wag and wegh, and yes, the yin and yang.

Eno also says “The least interesting sound in the universe, probably, is the sine wave. It’s the sound of nothing happening. It’s the sound of perfection, and it’s boring. As David Byrne said in his song, Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens. Distortion is character, basically. In fact, everything we call character is the deviation from perfection. So, perfection to me, is characterlessness.”

Aha, yes. Tying this back to the Absolute, it is the diffraction, the shattering of timelessness with spacetime (aka Tsimtsum) which creates the third element – entropy. The Absolute can only be completed by its own incompleteness, and entropy is the diagonalization of experience into public facing entropies and private facing reflections of the Absolute…quanta and qualia, science and art.

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