A Challenge…

Where would you say is your “Self”. The “I” in “I think therefore…”
You can either argue that there IS no “Self”, even though subjectively there certainly feels like there’s some common, continuing basis for your thoughts, and greeds, and plans, and memories… Some sort of connection between past and future that gives you the sense of being “you” as opposed to a constant stream of conscious reactions .

The problem is, where IS it? If you take a meditative, introspective look at your self, all you can see is a continuous stream of conscious..well, NOISE. Thoughts, awarness, sensations, more thoughts, worries… All of these can be linked to individual cognitive processes, can be broken down into pieces… So what is it that gives you a sense of self?? When and how do you feel that you are simply ‘you’, not the emergent product of computation?

For me, I think I closest to my Self in the few moments when I’ve been completely in the present; most often when my mind has flipped into wolf-mode (some sort of mental toolkit perhaps?). Also when I’ve been lying next to someone I love and I can’t quite discern where I stop and they start. But there’s a problem with both of these – the purest version of ‘wolf-me’ HAS no sense of what self means, in the same way that she can’t see beyond present moments. And if I’ve merged slightly with another person, then how can that count as an indivdual, ego-orientated Self?

However, maybe, just maybe those things offer a clue to what self is. Perhaps the whole point of Self is that it’s not constrained by conventional boundries. Perhaps Self is the seed of you that runs through the perpetual sequence of present-moment, whilst still holding together the complex beauty of what is core to your being and mind.

Once again I’m struck by the metaphor of butterflies. (maybe because I was watching them as I wandered round the lake today)
Butterflies are beautiful, fragile things. Watch how they move.. Strange looping darting paths that make no sense and are impossible to predict. This makes them very hard to catch… And if you do then the chances are you might break their delicate wings in your clumsy hands. Watch how they dance their strangely intense, short lived dance when they come into contact with another butterfly. Finally notice how rare it is to catch a glimpse of one that’s still.. Sometimes they seem to stop just long enough to open their wings and give you a peek at the brilliant colours, individual patterns, and perfect symmetry…and then they’re gone.

Butterflies are linked to the soul in various religions, beliefs, and supersitions. Could it be that this sense of Self is the same thing? Would science ever be able to accept the concept of a soul? Hmm…

gods and demons and buddhists

oooh yes.
My conviction that seemingly disparate beliefs and ideas can, in fact, be conglomerated together into some sort of ultimate truth is suprisingly going somewhere.

At the moment I’m reading
‘the embodied mind’ which suggests western philosophy needs a good injection of eastern buddhist meditation.
“why god won’t go away” detailing evidence for real, measurable, neural changes during deeply spiritual moments, or meditation, or ritual. Interestingly these can not be replicated by simple electrical or chemical stimulation of the appropriate brain areas.
And “god, humanity and the cosmos” (theology text book) which points out science-religion comparisons I’ve already noticed. (and some I haven’t)

However, plans to sit, meditate, philosophise and produce something coherant are currently thwarted by HIDEOUS POINTLESS MONKEY WORK given to me by annoying manager. I’m finding it increasingly hard to deal with certain people without letting slip comments like
“reconcile it to *what*?? you don’t even know what that word means!”
“I suppose I *could* do it like that, if I wanted to sit here all month”
and especially dilbert-isms like

It’s all good experience I guess. *twitch*

Advice, Angst, and Old Ladies

On the last leg of my journey home from exeter I stepped on the train and asked an old lady if it was going to portsmouth. Thus began a pleasant 40 minutes of conversation. I never asked her name, and she looked as typical as any granny. Her eyes were lively and she was obviously in full command of mental faculties.

We spoke about trains, and devon, and working in london. I deliberatly made an effort not to take full command of the conversation because I wanted to hear what she had to say. It wasn’t too long till things turned to ‘during the war’ anecdotes; and I heard little snippets of her life when she was 15. (How she didn’t notice her mascara had run hideously till she got home because they had no lights; how she used to go cycling with her brother and how they had no idea where they were because the signs had been taken away – and how this was a good thing..)

It’s strange, I used to feel uncomfortable about old people talking about being young.. something about it forcing you to acknowledge that one day, you too will be old. Now I enjoy listening to stories, and it makes me more determined to *have* a good set of tales when I’m old, grey and probably even shorter than I am now .

I also head a few pieces fo advice. The sort of advice that literally gets passed down woman-to-woman. The fact that this particular counsel was very relevent to me made it an almost moving experience, and I wish I could remember her exact words. The gist went something like this:

Be careful who you tell your worries and problems to – because once you’ve said it out loud it becomes real. (and often passed on, and distorted)
If you have a problem at home, don’t tell everyone at work – leave for when you get home…even though it will still be there you will at least have got a break. Most people will not be able to help you anyway – instead they’ll end up reminding you and in some cases make it worse by pointing out stuff you hadn’t even thought about yet.
Do tell a few close friends or family who know you well. But generally; if you’re worrying about something, make sure you are able to leave it behind and you can do something else, be someone else, see someone else… and then you can come back to it with a fresher mind.

I don’t know if I’ve expressed it very well, but I understand the underlying concept, because I’ve made the mistake of telling everyone problems sometimes. And I don’t think the biggest problem is so much the chance of gossip and associated distortion, but more the destructive effect of *going over the problem again and again and again* each time you tell someone.

If you’ve explained and angsted over a concern 20 times, does that make it seem a bigger problem than if you’ve only talked about it once? Maybe.

All this stuff seems so obvious, but I’d never really put it into context before. It’s the same reason that you need friends as well as a lover – because when things become difficult with your relationship you can seek solace with your friends…

I think it’s beneficial to have a good cry, a good moan, and listen to advice with a respected friend once. But then you feel better if you forget about things and *do something different*.
Being the friend who always has something to moan about ultimately ends up being destructive to herself and the relationship with her friends.

I’ve made this mistake before I feel. Partly because I worry about everything I can, and partly because I tend towards mulling over and over and over something, by myself or with anyone who will listen, until it’s sorted. Sometimes (maybe even most of the time) it’s better to force yourself to leave it.

I’m going to make an effort to follow some of these thoughts. And also to learn when to listen, sympthasise, and suggest advice to friends, and when to say “screw all that, lets go out and GET ICECREAM!!”

“I see dead people”


I had a weird twisted and scary dream last night. It was set in our world, but with an odd and tangibly *wrong* undercurrent. I can remember my brother being traumatised about something, symbolic minced beef, cockroaches and beetles, and huge automatic gun machines (like something out of a sick sci fi film) hidden in buildings etc which apparently are scattered throughout england as part of some government anti-people defence system (?)

So I woke up at 4 am feeling a little shaken. Then I heard my bedroom door moving in the wind, and felt someone walking down the corridor.

The door opened slightly, and a figure slipped in and stood in the corner looking at me. I can’t see amazingly well in the dark without my glasses, but it looked like Andrew wrapped up in his blanket. I thought “he must have had a bad dream as well or something” and waited for him to wander over. Nothing.
“Andrew?” *slightly more anxious* “is that you?”
“….who is that??!”
*turn light on… no-one there*

okay. So; maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me. Maybe I was still asleep (doesn’t seem likely). Maybe I was still shaken from the dream. But the point remains : as far as *I* was concerned, my perceptions told my brain there was a figure standing there. Not just a funny feeling, I really saw something.

No, I’m not saying there was something *really* there. The human perception system is very complex and very odd. And sometimes very scary.

I had a huge adrenaline rush, was terrified out of my tiny little mind, and ended up sleeping in my parents bed like a 5 year old. Pathetic; perhaps. But I couldn’t face being alone in my room and alone with my mind.

It took me about 2 hours to get to sleep, in the meantime I jumped at every noise, saw things if I opened my eyes, and (somehow this is worse) things if I closed my eyes. Everything I tried visualising to calm me down became twisted and distorted. I tried not to think that my mother had been replaced with some odd zombie monster.

I’ve never been scared of the dark. (and I’ve never been so scared of being alone) But last night all I can remember is waiting for the morning, and the light, to return.

Abuse of the System


Today IBM have paid me £50 for doing the following:
* check my emails
* print out a psychology paper sent to me by Andy Wills
* spending the morning consolidating some thoughts on my 3rd year project, and writing a draft email requesting advice to Professor Aaron Sloman. (university of birmingham)
* buying a picnic lunch, sitting outside and enjoying the sunshine. That warm smell of sun on pine reminds me of being on holiday. Wandering about barefoot while avoiding goose-poo
* going on an extended walk around the lake whilst listening to music
* watching the canadian geese. (who seem to have come back : at least a lot of young-looking ones have) There’s a variety of interesting behaviour going on with them at the moment, lots of wing flapping, chasing each other and funny honking sounds.. need to investigate further.
* writing out an ACTUAL email to Aaron, and sending it
* getting a cup of tea, and writing emails to my 3rd year project tutors.
* write this pointless entry.. and I have 20 min till I leave.

I feel like a Dilbert extra, but more constructive 🙂

I’m feeling pleased with myself. Admittedly, I wouldn’t NORMALLY spend all day on my own activities, but there was a real slump in work, people on holiday, and hell – I’ve spent at LEAST 60% of the rest of the week working hard for them.

I’ve managed to do some quality work on my project, which has perked me up a bit. I’m going off to exeter to hopefully recupperate some lost energy and get ready for the next week or so.

Also, I got a letter from the British Association thing about the Festival of Science in a couple of weeks : there’s an event being held sunday evening for the student members, with the magical phrase
So I called them and let them know I was definitely turning up for that one.

Right now, life is good. I feel wonderfully exhausted in that ‘I’ve done something for myself that was constructive’ way, which makes a change from the mental exhaustion of doing nothing. :/

Company of Ravens

You walk with an intelligence
That informs a clear bright eye
There are unexpected revelations
In the company of Ravens.

You walk with dire drear death
Breath rancid and heavy
Through the bleakest battlefield
In the company of Ravens.

You walk beside the trickster
He makes mischief of your mind
You walk with doubt and strange confusions
In the company of Ravens.

— Maddy Prior

Random fun and metaphysical numerolgy wossnames

This is kind of amusing … I’ve highlighted the bits that seem particularly relevent (yes, this IS indeed procrastinaton away from monkey-cut-and-paste jobs)

Born on the 11th

Your birthdate of the 11th is called the Master Number of Inspiration. Eleven (1+1)
also adds up to 2.

All Twos are sensitive and this is especially true of you.

You were born to be very much in relationship with others as a role model, supportive partner, or message-bringer. If you are female you may be unusually attractive. If male you may have refined characteristics or be interested in aesthetic pursuits. As an 11, you may
very well be in the limelight on a regular basis as a speaker, actor, or minister-or just
as an active participant in local community activities.

Successful career areas are television, poetry, metaphysics, art, psychology, and spiritual work.

You have a tendency to “fall in love” with people and ideas. You may always be on the verge of success — yearning to do something almost impossible. Because of your sensitivity to criticism, lack of confidence may thwart ambition.

Elevens frequently work in humble or menial positions while nurturing a strong sense that they are meant for better things. (!!!!!!! IBM!!!!!!!! : ) : ) I laughed at this one)

Express your talent no matter whether it is needlework or being a TV anchor.

You need lots of sleep.

Have a go yourself
I’m going to look at some other dates and see if I can interpret them all as being relevent to me ^_^

“When loup-garou the rabble call me,
When vagrant shepherds hoot,
Pursue, and buffet me to boot,
It doth not for a moment gall me,
I seek not palaces nor halls,
Or refuge when the winter falls;
Exposed to winds and frosts at night,
My soul is ravaged with delight.
Me claims my she-wolf so divine;
And justly she that claim prefers,
For, by my troth, my life is hers
More than another’s, more than mine.”
-Pierre Vidal

Damn these words and damn my mind. Failure of expression.

Look at how you’ve grown my brother!
Your wings glistening with morning freshness
Shiny and New
You emerge blinking at azure softness
ready to soar into the world
a smile on your face and a lightness in your step
I’ve taught you all I know
And your happiness means everything to me.

This was so sudden
I hardly had time to catch my breath
All the past I smiled inwards
Sure of the future; sure of your place
I wasn’t ready to let you go.
A snake coiled inside
bitter venom contained for now.
Confusion and anger
a snarl of wolf
You are part of me
And your happiness breaks everything.

Input Monkey V.1.0 beta

hee.. I’m getting back into myself. I’m enjoying my job right now, since it’s all fiddling about coding something REALLY USEFUL. (As previously mentioned).

Now I’ve got the basic system working, I’m doing all the dialog boxes, info, ‘choose file’ selections etc.

And I thought : You know, it would be good to have a proper name for this, and a little icon/logo to use on the opening screen.

And my mind put forward: “how about a little monkey at a keyboard? Like the ‘thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters thing?”. I’ve even doodled a little picture. And then I realised : “people do this for a job. Do you *really think* they’ll enjoy being compared to **monkeys**?”.

But it’s too late. I now can’t help but thinking of calling this system “Input Monkey 2002”.
Please, can anyone think of a better name before I actually do that??? 🙂

Whee. I’m spending far too much of my day talking to Neil, a friend of Ruin’s. He’s really nice, and quite cute too. 🙂

AND I’M MAKING MYSELF DRAW !! YES!!! Finally getting out of the ‘all these other people are much better at me so whats the point” and into the “hell, it doesn’t matter if it goes wrong, it’s fun, I don’t need to impress anyone” attitude.

“Input Monkey” *giggle*
(oh dear)
(I think it’s really starting to get to me now)