Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Free your mind...

This is another one of those topics that has a habit of branching rather quickly. Hopefully can stay focused without too many tangents.

How much control do we really have over ourselves? That isn't really a rhetorical question. You might expect that simply by asking that, I am implying that you think you have control but really you don't. But thats only half right. We actually don't have much control over ourselves, but some people are more aware of this than others. As you may recall from my first "Thoughts" post, our actions and thoughts are the result of trillions of calculable events that occur in our brains. Going a step up from atomic and subatomic interaction, we get to molecular and chemical interaction. In this case specifically, emotions. Emotions like love are not magic. If you are feeling depressed, its not because your dog just died, its because the chemicals in your body are interacting with your brain in such a way that makes you feel bad (see first Thoughts post for more info). Think about how you feel right now. You're probably calm and can think in a rational manner. This is your Default state. For the most part, the level of chemicals in your brain are overall average. However, get too much of any one chemical and suddenly rationality can go out the window. If some guy punches you in the nose and insults you, its very 'natural' to get angry and lash out in a way that you normally wouldn't. This is when your body takes over and pushes your Default state aside. The drive for sex is quite possibly the strongest emotion or state of mind that decimates normal behavior. As I've mentioned before, the basic meaning of life is to make more life. To reproduce. In order to ensure that life goes on, evolution has done a fantastic job of encoding everything living thing's DNA with the desire to make more of itself. This goes back to how the brain rewards us when we do things that keep us alive or spread our genes. Sex only feels good because if it didn't, life might not have gotten this far. And now here's my two cents about the whole thing. I hate my body. My body is just a car that my brain drives except that quite often my 'car' drives itself and my brain is almost powerless to stop it. I can't stand the fact that I don't have complete control over myself. To me, the mind is infinitely more important than the body. So maybe being a head in jar wouldn't be so bad. This is where the topic has a tendency to branch out. Consider this: what if everyone was just a brain in a jar with a mechanical body? Suddenly reproduction is irrelevant. Suddenly gender is irrelevant. Suddenly everyone is just a mind that is free to experience the world without evolution instilled dependencies like sex, eating, and sleep to hold us back.

I doubt in our lifetime (or probably anyone's lifetime) people will be able to transcend their physical bodies and escape these chains. However, I think I am getting a little closer to winning the battle over my body. I think that just being aware of how and why my body and emotions work, gives me power so that I can force control over myself. You may recall my recent abstinence vow. Its getting easier to stop myself from checking out every girl I see. Its a daily war but I think its starting to affect my subconscious and soon I won't even have to tell myself not to stare at the hot girl at the counter.

I feel kind of like I'm in the Matrix, but instead of being a slave to it I'm a slave to my emotions.

"I know what you're thinking... Why, oh why didn't I take the blue pill?"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Walking the line between genius and insanity

Sorry I havent updated in a while, I've been crazy busy lately. I've had barely any time to myself in the last two weeks or so. Who'd have thought that six classes would be so time consuming?

This Sunday I'm going to write my next "contemplations" piece but for right now I thought I would share my next big project with everyone and hopefully get some feedback. Remember back in elementary school when you would smear Elmer's Glue on your hand and then let it dry so you could peel it off like a layer of dead skin? Well I recently decided that I am going to cover the majority of my entire body in several layers of glue! You might be saying to yourself, "Thats just....insane". Precisely! My creativity teacher just gave us our next project in which we have to do something that an insane person would do. Something that in the service to a higher power, in this case art. However, this is just one of my ideas. The project isn't due for about five weeks so rather than do one project like most people, I'm planning on doing one per week as well as one on going project that I do everyday. Thus far I have the glue idea for sure (I'll go to class on the day everything is due covered in dry glue). I also want to do something with my video camera and projector. For example, setting up the camera in the hallway and feeding video to my projector which is outside and displaying the image on the wall so it looks like you can see through it. For the long term, I first considered saving five weeks worth of urine, but Howard Hughes already did it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I think, therefor I am....kinda

This is one of the hardest topics for me to continually think about because its so easy to start thinking about all the related questions that it inevitably raises. Hopefully I can get through this without too many tangents. Its also really hard to convey the ideas.

Our memory, I've come to consciously believe, is one of the most important things in the history of things, second only to life. Whether you're aware of it or not, your memory is the biggest part of what makes you you. The other part being your genes. Those two things together make you what you are today. To get an idea of just how important memory is, consider two analogies. For Jimmy, image you've been using the same memory card for your all the video games you've ever played in your life. Then one day without warning, the memory card spontaneously combusts. Years of work. Gone. For the rest of you, imagine you have a the biggest paper of your life to write. Your entire future hinges on this one LONG essay/script. Now imagine that you can't save it. You have to write it continuously until its done. Then, just before you click Print, the power goes out and everything is lost. In the real world we call this amnesia. Its not the same as death since the body remains, but if you consider memory being such a big part of identity, its not going too far to say that its not much unlike death. It may seem callous to say that someone suffering something as terrible as amnesia is 'dead', but in the case of total amnesia you can't ignore that he or she is not the same person they were before. This is where it gets easy to branch off. Defining "death" becomes complicated. If dieing is the failing of the physical body, then what do we call it when someone's memory and identity (essentially what that person is) dies from amnesia? And then what of the person that remains? Its a strange thing to think about. A fully formed and 'used' body with a new memory. A new person.

Ok now for something a little more relevant to our daily lives. This little scenario always makes me a little uneasy and it has to do with split realities. Say to yourself, "I know I have memory and I exist because I can remember starting this sentence." It should feel pretty reassuring to say, it does to me anyway. I can tell I have memory and exist because I look around and I'm still here. Now, consider that someone video taped you doing this and you have been drinking heavily all day. So heavily in fact that you can't even remember reading this or talking to yourself. Then your friend shows you the tape. At that time you knew you existed. But to the version of you watching the tape, its as if at some point the night before everything blinks and you woke up this morning without any recollection of the previous night. Of being so sure you existed. The point I want to focus on is the 'jump' from before you were drinking til the time you woke up. To you now its like nothing happened. But to your self the night before, its as if hours went by. This all has to do with perception of time and reality. My question here is which one is the real you? And how can I really tell that I won't forget this moment like in the video?

Next topic: Mind vs Brain

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Can you sit on your butt for a week straight?

There is simply not enough time. Not enough to do what, you say? Everything. No matter how hard to you try you just can't do everything. But dag-nabbit I'm gonna try. And as a first step I plan to spend a week (or however long it takes) and watch all the greatest movies and those that you just "need to see". I've starting compiling a list of movies that I will begin to collect or will "netflix" or "blockbuster-netflix-knockoff" when the time comes. If you have any movies that you think I should add, please throw them up. And of course anyone is welcome to join since it'll probably be over winter or summer.


Rennaisance Man
Citizen Kane
A Few Good Men
The Godfather
Schindler's List
The Usual Suspects
Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying...
North by Northwest
Apocalypse Now
Its a Wonderful Life
Clockwork Orange
Full Metal Jacket
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Blade Runner
Easy Rider
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Bonnie and Clyde
The Exorcist
Lawrence of Arabia
Gone With the Wind
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Damn subconcious tendencies

Thanks to millions of years of evolution, men are always on the prowl. There is nowhere we go that we aren't constantly checking out every single female within reasonable age. In such places as in class, on the road, at funerals, and probably during surgery, there is no woman within eyesight that goes unnoticed. As you can see, this can become quite hazardous while operating heavy machinery or trying to pay attention in class. So, in an effort to both focus on things that are really important and rebel against my own biological urges in the hopes of conquering this transportation module we call a body, I am forcing myself to view the opposite sex just as I would my own. To view them not as this thing that my hormones have been driving towards for 21 long years, but as a person. I'm not saying before this I treated women as something other than a person, but there are definite differences between how I act around guys and girls (especially attractive ones). Corinne and Camille are exceptions because we've known each other so long and they may as well just be guys who don't play video games.

So far I've been trying this for a little over a month now. It used to be that driving to school as many as three attractive women would force me to suddenly focus all my attention on them for the three or four seconds they were in view. It happens everywhere. And the weird thing is, I really didn't notice it that much until I tried to stop. Its hard. Its involuntary, its like breathing. There's no thought or conscious action. You just do it.

It used to be that every girl I met or shared a room with was a potential 'intimate partner', if you will. In the case that more than one girl shared that room, the more attractive receives all the attention and the others are largely ignored (not always, but mostly in a new setting). I would happily make friends with the other guys in the room and ignore the women (even the attractive one for fear of looking stupid and thus ruining all chances of future action). I decided that it had to change. No longer would every girl be a potential candidate for relations. Now there is no pressure to always be on the lookout and no fear of looking stupid. So far, its been hard. Fighting your own body is a steep challenge. But I think I'm winning. I'm certainly getting more work done anyway.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

My new best friend

In an effort to replace my old friends I began growing a new one. He has been growing in the bathtub for a few weeks now. He's gotten so big! Before I know it he'll be driving, and then dating, and having little hair wads of his own.