On campus today we were comparing how long we could go without a computer and internet. A guy had just returned from vacation and went ten days without a computer; he said he suffered withdrawal and didn’t think he could do it, but he did. I decided I could last  two days.  At some point my computer became my work station and my filing system. Twice I’ve had a virus  trash my computer so I’ve learned not to save anything valuable on it; instead I use a growing collection of USBs.  Considering the warnings out this week about the possibility of solar flares blowing out our computer systems, I assume  that banks and  the government have all their data backed up with a bunch of government sized USB drives. Something not made in China would be preferred.

I don’t know how many people  remember Hal, the authoritarian computer on board in Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey, 2001 but my stomach has a sinking feeling that the  NSA missed the movie.  Here we are in 2011;  America is handing its space program over to Russia because we’re out of money and can’t afford it, yet the Federal Government has the funds to sink into virtual spying activity and aggregating the vast amounts of information they learned about us while spying.  And it’s not just spying on the bad guys but the good guys too- but wait- it gets worse:  then they take the data,  (using even more of our taxpayer money) and try to figure out ways to read our minds and predict our behavior with that information.   Hmmm.

And this  is legal why?

The NSA’s  artificial intelligent project,  Aquaint,  “Advanced QUestion Answering for INTelligence,” moved into new and larger headquarters three years ago to advance their research.  From Nova’s  article, The New Thought Police:”

The National Security Agency (NSA) is developing a tool that George Orwell’s Thought Police might have found useful: an artificial intelligence system designed to gain insight into what people are thinking.

With the entire Internet and thousands of databases for a brain, the device will be able to respond almost instantaneously to complex questions posed by intelligence analysts. As more and more data is collected—through phone calls, credit card receipts, social networks like Facebook and MySpace, GPS tracks, cell phone geolocation, Internet searches, Amazon book purchases, even E-Z Pass toll records—it may one day be possible to know not just where people are and what they are doing, but what and how they think.    The system is so potentially intrusive that at least one researcher has quit, citing concerns over the dangers in placing such a powerful weapon in the hands of a top-secret agency with little accountability.”

This spring when I attended the MIT 150 Symposium: Brains, Mind and Machines I was expecting lectures on cognitive research about human brains.  Wrong.  Current research is in the area of machination: building intelligent and creative machines by generalizing information they’ve gathered from studies on people and their brains.  What interested me most, and surprised me the most was seeing how very excited scientists and engineers are about the idea of AI being the next business venture. The development of computers changed the world and the marketplace, and from the money-making side of things, it literally opened a huge new venue of products to sell. The engineers and entrepreneurs who made fortunes with computer gadgets,  expect to cause the same explosion in the marketplace with AI.   I cringed; they cheered. Literally.

During the Bush administration countless  people ranted against the evils of his Patriot’s Act. Where are these people now? Busy Facebooking their life story, complete with personal information that ten years ago we would never have released.

I am no expert on AI or brain research but based on the research I have seen,   the NSA  project  to read our minds is probable, and will happen in the very near future.  That this data is in the hands of the government that developed nuclear energy, and instead of building peace, they built weaponry. …Need I say more?

Or that governments are being hacked by Chinese Communists…. need I say more?

I don’t know why my curiosity acted in hindsight but I decided to Google NSA “Acquaint” these few years later, -odd how nothing pops up.   I’m not pleased.   When a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Reality, free will or the speed of light? One’s got to give, because quantum mechanics says you can’t have them all. Yet the theorems are true.

ERWIN SCHRÖDINGER called entanglement the “defining trait” of quantum theory but Einstein could not bring himself to believe in it at all, thinking it proof that quantum theory was seriously buggy. The idea that particles can be linked in such a way that changing the quantum state of one instantaneously affects the other, even if they are light years apart, is what Einstein referred to as the “spooky action at a distance.”   From New Scientist  “The idea  was a serious blow to our conception of how the world works. In 1964, physicist John Bell of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, showed just how serious. He calculated a mathematical inequality that encapsulated the maximum correlation between the states of remote particles in experiments in which three “reasonable” conditions hold.” Complicated stuff.

If I’m Schrodinger’s Cat, according to Quantum Theory,  I am 1) alive  and 2) dead and decaying, yet if a person were to open the box I will be one or the other, dead or alive but not both. Fritz Perls was “ahead of his time” when he wrote that in dreams we are every aspect of the dream; we are the person driving the car, we are the road, we are the car going down the road, we are the tree that the car runs into. Complicated stuff. Yet oddly true in many dreams.  If it’s true in quantum, and true in dreams, is it true in our awake life?

Franz Kafka grasped this concept, evidenced by his often quoted phrase:  “I am a memory come alive.”  Memory is something that happens in the past and is brought forward only as a thought,  yet he places it in the presence and gives it life and all the  meaning of a real existence, that is to say, it is his being and identity. Like the paradox of Schrodinger’s cat he is both alive and dead and decaying, and knew it.

Of  “Reality, free will or the speed of light? One’s got to give, because quantum mechanics says you can’t have them all,” Kafka writes of this in the aphorism: “Before the Law.” Before the Law is quantum theory: That the door is always open for example, that man does have  free will in reality, and  in conjunction with the speed of light (timelessness) where there is no free will, (because timelessness has no time, there is no will. ) In his final and unfinished book, The Castle, K lives with free will even while he remains connected to the Castle (speed of light);  tenuous at times, but always connected one way or the other. What the castle did effected K, what K did seemed  to have an effect on  the Castle which is  consistent with the theory of entanglement.  K had  free will,  but for the Castle to express free will  that was possible only through an emissary when he traveled to the village.


The Castle is his unfinished but elegant road map that charts out man’s free will, and his connection to a greater being.  It was his explanation and perception of a kabballah  that he saw around himself.  To make the narrative even more interesting, in reference to Kafka and quantum,  if we take Carl Jung’s  theory that a house is a metaphor for ourselves, our depth and personality that means the castle, in the book is a metaphor for Kafka, his life, his depth, and in quantum speak, it’s a metaphor for his timelessness self.  Kafka in all his entirety was the surveyor who wandered around the village, he was the the village, the inn and the castle, and each aspect was a different aspect of his quantum authenticity.

An unexpected story in the Financial Times, Why Writers see the future,  falls in line with the empirical idea that every event has a cause and because events are essentially a series of causes and effects,  that one thing does leads to another.  Accordingly, to someone who is aware of the many causes and effects the future is foreseeable.  Simon Kuper, author of the article, argues that  Orwell and Kafka weren’t seeing the future, but as writers  they were openly expressing latent angst or dreams, and in that way they were forecasting the future because others shared these ideas, which  essentially manifested the untold truth into a future reality.  From the article:

Why writers have this gift was best explained by George Orwell. Discussing a favourite novelist of his boyhood, H.G. Wells, he wrote: “A decade or so before aeroplanes were technically feasible, Wells knew that within a little while men would be able to fly. He knew that because he himself wanted to be able to fly, and therefore felt sure that research in that direction would continue.”

When writers are in the creative process, and the writing flows from the collective awareness directly through the pen and to the paper, without having to be channeled through the interference of what I call the interpretative device and all its filtering controls, (the brain) and all the requirements of social and cultural constraint are quieted, it is then that truth is written, time is lost and hope, love and despair know no boundary.

Writing from the collective unconscious, as Jung calls it, connects to the good and the evil and the many truths that are possible. The writing reveals the awareness of the writers of their greater existence and the timelessness of their thoughts, ideas and deeds. For those who wrote with particular clarity we shouldn’t doubt they did so in a natural state of Dzogchen lucidity; Hemingway and  his Old Man and The Sea to name one.

How easy is it to falsify memory? As individuals, each and every one of us creates a narrative of our life,  but is it necessarily true?

Recent research by the Weizmann Institute “shows that a bit of social pressure may be all that is needed.”  The study,  being published  in Science, shows a false memory formulates  a unique pattern of brain activity when the false memories are formed. They argue that this research shows the correlation between our social  self and our memory, and the  co-active correlation between the amygdala and the hippocamus in the process.

The article is very interesting for its neurobiology, and the approach they took to looking at memory.  But it’s not news that we as human beings can be  highly responsive to those around us, and it’s this social conscious that formulates much of who we are as social people. It would be interesting to see this work duplicated in a different setting, such as the typical schoolroom,  so that we can formulate what it is that helps students remember correctly, and why they remember something incorrectly,  and if there is a cognitive technique that would help the struggling student.  The brain is a machine and  repetition is the default setting so in that respect it’s understandable why people repeat their mistakes including false memory.  But, I also think that as social humans,  we are individuals with a lot of personal context and over time  attach more meaning to the memory that we do keep, and eventually discard altogether false memory or any memory we consider unimportant, in the  same way that we discard  so much of the daily bombardment from the world around us.

UPDATED:

In class I referred to the idea of false memory- which is included in the memory used for dream-making. What this means is that our dreams are created from a fountain of images and emotions, and sometimes the dream process links them together, either accidentally or intentionally, and sometimes in a way that shocks us even while we’re in deep sleep- so much that it literally makes us sit up and ask why. Why did I dream that? What does it mean?  And as Hobson writes, we then try to attach meaning to something that may only be an accidental link and without meaning.  At which point a student reminded me of the psychologists who do regression work, and sometimes the recalled memories (from dreams or the therapy sessions) are used as testimony in trials.  Is this reasonable, considering what’s at stake in a court?

Another valid point is how easy it is to plant “a seed” or a false memory into a person’s fountain of images, memory and emotions.  Now that I’ve seen this research at the   Weizmann Institute I wonder how many of the repressed memories that have been recovered by psychologists, replicate in full honesty the original event. Wouldn’t that be impossible? I’m curious now about  devices used by the police department, such as lie detectors,( which are not always accurate either) and whether or  not they can root out the false memory or does it only find that the person truly believes the memory is true even if it might indeed be false; which basically would back up the Weizmann research?

Reading Mark Vonnegut’s new book has me thinking about the thin line between sanity and insanity,  how fuzzy it is and how the application of Gestalt theory helps to find that line, define it, and in doing so establish the means to survive in the “real reality.”

We live in a world with a preordained set of acceptable rules about social behavior that an individual may not be able to meet squarely, but must, or suffer alienation. If a person has a lot of money and has visions, he’s considered eccentric perhaps, but not insane;  if the person is poor off to the nuthouse for him with a stream of prescriptions such that he may never recover!  There is, however, another element of the equation to consider in addition to the security or money, and that is dialogue.

The Senoi believe a dreamer encounters many and various spirits in the lucid  dream world; that “nature is impregnated by spiritual forces, many of them personified in the form of evil spirits.” (Dumhoff)  Western society, however,  has unlearned  and unremembered  the fact that spirits exist, and some are indeed evil; dare I say it’s a state of intellectual amnesia, and contrived at that.  The effort to analyze hallucinations and the disorder, schizophrenia, by magnetic imagery or placing a selected sample of “infected” brain tissue into a Petri dish is faulty research. Indeed. Does a Petri Dish have a lucid dream? Can Evil Spirits invade a Petri dish or show up on an MRI? I don’t think so. If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? If  evil confronts brain tissue preserved in a Petri dish,  can the microscope perceive the evil? Can evil even pervade a brain cell that’s  disconnected from a conscious, thinking thing? Can MRI or fMRI  imaging determine where the impulse came from that started the hallucination, and determine whether it’s real or illusion? No, yet research continues.

Carl Jung developed new theories as a result of his visions and the voices. Einstein redesigned the concept of time relativity from his visions.   Black Elk saw his future and worked to unite his people.  The difference between these men of genius and Jared Loughner is they opened dialogue with the visions, and learned from the experience. Science has advanced rapidly and far in many areas, but not to the point that a scientist can find evil on a  fMRI and open dialogue. The Senoi believe that the evil spirits in the dream world are disturbing images that the dreamer can change. Van Gogh painted. Stevenson wrote.  Jung applied critical thinking and developed analytical psychology. But Jared Loughner, however, and despite all the warning signs,went out, bought a gun and went on a shooting spree. Can a  fMRI answer the important question- why? Why shoot people? What is it about damage to the amygdala, for example, that a makes a person violent? Shouldn’t we be more than that?

Opening a dialectic dialogue with the visions and/or voices may well be the difference between sanity and insanity, or at least bridge a path to balanced mental health in the process.  But I wonder how many (nonviolent) geniuses did talk to their visions and were locked away as “crazy” people? I wonder how many crazy people who were locked away would have been famous artists, writers, philosophers, inventors or scientists, etc. if they had a support system. Does being willing to talk to visions, the good and the evil, make you eccentric, or is it an act of lucid genius?  Is it the willingness to face the charge of eccentricity that makes a genius a Genius?   Dialogue is no assurance of mental health, in fact it may well make matters far worse, but it is the first step to stability.  Balance comes with control; control comes with clarity. Lucidity and the ability to discern real from delusion, right from wrong, good from evil, and as the Senoi practice, are necessary to control the outcome. The outcome varies, because every person, as an individual, finds answers within their own individuation.  The list is long:  Joan of Arc fought for France and became a national hero.  Edgar Allen Poe struggled, but wrote. Franz Kafka gave warnings. Van Gogh painted starry skies but it wasn’t enough; he shot himself.  Jung took control, kept a journal, wrote and illustrated the now published Red Book.  Mark Vonnegut wrote, not one book, but two and turned out to be a fine medical doctor. Why did he make it; why is he different from so many who do not make it?

For answers, scientists need to research outside the box and look at the person and the disease from the whole perspective.  As for taking control for one’s life, in the manner of a Senoi changing the disturbing images that plague them, would not that change be found in teaching the patient how to remap the brain, to close the doors through which the undesirable images and voices find their entry?  I tend to be a student of the psychologists who think we are intelligent human beings and do have the ability to direct our brain, and in doing so direct our life.  The first step for the researchers  would require admitting that thoughts exist outside the physical brain, but I’m not sure if they’re ready for that step.

I’ve been studying the research on the results of integrating science and art and have been amazed by what I’ve read. In the process I recalled that Einstein’s brain  was unique because of the glial cells, but I hadn’t thought much about the bridge and its effect on his left brain right brain thinking other than the fact his spatial reasoning was highly developed.   Did having the hemispheres more united help him imagine and reason at the same time? I think so.

Einstein commented that when he played the violin he was better able to form ideas.  Research studies confirm that art integrated into a school  curriculum does make a difference in test scores for math.  Integrating Music has produced the same results. Einstein’s  brain was average sized, but about 15% wider  in the inferior parietal.  The  Corpus  Callosum muscle that connected his left and right brain was longer.  That means more information traveling quickly and more freely from one side to the other; there were more connected thoughts. The brain is a muscle and responds to use.  In other words, Einstein’s brain was the result of being used, and used in ways not commonly trained to be used.

What I’m considering now is the violin: did using  music to help him think, expand the parietal and build a longer bridge between his two hemispheres?

Do we owe music a thank you for helping build the brain that envisioned  the Theory of Relativity? I think  so.

The following headline came up in the “news” today:

“9-11 whistle-blower Susan Lindauer’s case confirms we live in Gulag Amerika.”

Gulag Amerika?

” That’s the Patriot Act for you. Welcome to the New America.  Franz Kafka would be appalled”

No,  I’m not going to link the nasty thing into my blog. If I give it a name I empower it and I want no part in that.  It’s truly pitiful when a person charged with accepting bribes and or blood money resorts to throwing down the persecution card. For some reason, (let’s call it arrogance) she seems to think she’s better than everyone else and above the law, that  if the judge  knew it was her, surely the charges would be dropped.  She writes: “Worst by far, after omitting confirmations of my identity from their reports to Judge Mukasey, they sought to imprison me indefinitely and forcibly drug me with Haldol, so that I would be “cured” of believing what all three agencies at the Justice Department recognized to be fully truthful.”

LOL.

How odd then that the charges were dropped because she was unfit to stand trial, not because she was deemed innocent.  Yet still she capitalized on this and wrote a book about being singled out and persecuted? Get real lady, and get a real job where you don’t have to misquote a book about persecution in the bitter attempt to bring legitimacy to your arrogant albeit transparent  desire to peddle conspiracy theories.

Dear Ms. Lindauer, your self-righteous attitude makes me ill.

Please do not evoke the name Kafka, and compare yourself to the persecuted.

If his sisters received the same treatment as you, they would not have died in misery.  This is the face of persecution- three women who were indeed arrested without having done anything wrong, thrown into the gulag and died a terrible death in the gas-chambers of hell. We call it Terezin, God calls it evil. I wonder if Ms. Lindauer is a Holocaust denier as well.

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