Epiphenomenal Consciousness: “Blindsight” by Peter Watts


Blindsight - Peter Watts

“I am the bridge between the bleeding edge and the dead center. I stand between the Wizard of Oz and the man behind the curtain. I am the curtain.” 

In “Blindsight” by Peter Watts 

What if: There is only one consciousness that we all share? (Universal Consciousness) 
What if: People are caught in the illusion of separation? (Encouraged by the limitations of the five senses) 
What if: Fear and insecurity give rise to the need to think of ourselves as the creators of our consciousness? (Perhaps we tune into consciousness like a radio tunes into a station). 

“Consciousness” is body-mind. It is implied in the very meaning of the word “consciousness”, the “con-” or “com-” signifying “together” or “altogether”. What this “together” refers to is the senses and sense impressions. Body-mind is sensate consciousness, and is called therefore “mortal self in time” or “ego-nature”. It is particularistic and therefore associated with “point-of-view” or perspectivising consciousness, like a searchlight or the beam of a flashlight stuck in one direction. This, and its self-understanding, is reflected in the famous symbol of the Enlightenment of a pyramid surmounted by the all-seeing eye such as symbolised still on the Great Seal of the United States, but is called by Blake “Single Vision & Newtons sleep” or “Urizen” or Urizenic Man. This is the “point-of-view” consciousness structure and is typically what we call “consciousness” or “mind”. It is the perspectivising eye of da Vinci, but it is sensate.



If you’re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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Ana and Kata: “Summerland” by Hannu Rajaniemi


Summerland - Hannu Rajaniemi

Ana and Kata: “Summerland” by Hannu Rajaniemi

“Yet the longer you lived in Summerland, the stranger things became. Your hypersight grew more acute, and little by little, you developed an awareness of two additional directions that were invisible to the living. One was the ana direction, four-up. Towards ana lay the world of the living, in its own thin slice of the aether. It was the direction of the Unseen, the mysterious source of hyperlight and soul. Luz stones fell from ana, lodged themselves in dense aetheric configurations like brains at birth. Upon death, the luz detached and fell below the plane of the living world in the kata direction – the equivalent of down in the fourth [spatial] dimension.”

In “Summerland” by Hannu Rajaniemi

I don’t know how much physics people reading this post know. So, here’s a very, very, very brief synopsis on how objects in 1D, 2D, 3D, 4D space move:

Dimensional space Movement that can be made in that space
1D -> Forward, backward
2D -> Forward, backward, right, left
3D -> Forward, backward, right, left, up, down
4D -> Forward, backward, right, left, up, down, ana (imagine the object coming down from heaven), kata (imagine the object going up from hell)

As you can see, in 4D space we’ve got two additional directions: ana and kata. If want more than this by way of explanation, you’ve got to look elsewhere.

If you’re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.


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(Count-of-Self) = 0: "Superintelligence – Paths, Dangers, Strategies" by Nick Bostrom


Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies - Nick Bostrom

“Box 8 – Anthropic capture: The AI might assign a substantial probability to its simulation hypothesis, the hypothesis that it is living in a computer simulation.”

In “Superintelligence – Paths, Dangers, Strategies” by Nick Bostrom

Would you say that the desire to preserve ‘itself’ comes from the possession of a (self) consciousness? If so, does the acquisition of intelligence according to Bostrom also mean the acquisition of (self) consciousness?

The unintended consequence of a super intelligent AI is the development of an intelligence that we can barely see, let alone control, as a consequence of the networking of a large number of autonomous systems acting on inter-connected imperatives. I think of bots trained to trade on the stock market that learn that the best strategy is to follow other bots, who are following other bots. The system can become hyper-sensitive to inputs that have little or nothing to do with supply and demand.

If you’re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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The Gentle-Slide-into-Decrepitude-Concerning-Sex-in-Old-Age: “The Elegies of Maximianus by Maximianus, A. M. Juster (Translator), Michael Roberts (Introduction)


The Elegies of Maximianus - A. M. Juster (Translator), Maximianus

“I am not who I was, my greatest part has perished.
Fatigue – and dread too – cling to what survives
Since what is worn out
Now in body parts has died,
Alas, how much life
Remains for old men?” (1.5.)

In “The Elegies of Maximianus by Maximianus, A. M. Juster (Translator), Michael Roberts (Introduction)

As Michael Roberts points out in the foreword, Maximianus is one of the greatest writers who wrote on the Gentle-Slide-into-Decrepitude-Concerning-Sex-in-Old-Age. In one of the poems, most of it is addressed to the mentula (penis). Maximianus writes about the demise of his own member, inert and crestfallen, and as good as dead. On the other hand, his girlfriend suffers from a worse disease (meaning: she’s sexually frustrated).

No-one of advanced years should pass this one up…Or maybe one should. That’s up to you. 




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Give Me a Boat: “The Tale of the Unknown Island” by José Saramago, Margaret Jull Costa (translator)


The Tale of the Unknown Island - José Saramago, Peter Sís, Margaret Jull Costa


“A MAN WENT TO KNOCK AT THE KING’S DOOR AND said, Give me a boat.”

In “The Tale of the Unknown Island” by José Saramago

I love the way Saramago builds this parable by using the Portuguese King D. João II and Columbus. He went to Lisbon in 1476 and remained here for several years, seeking the support of King D. João II and gathering nautical and geographic intelligence from the returning sailors. Why did we want to embark on the Age of Discoveries? Easy: We saw a niche begging to be literally explored. On the other hand, Spain was fighting the Moors, the Turks were attacking Italy, and Austria and France and Britain were fighting each other in the Hundred Year War. Portugal, on the other hand, was a united kingdom with relatively few internal problems and enemies. Smart, uh? We’re always looking for an opportunity to shine bright…


If you’re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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Alekhine’s Embalmed Body: “Theory of Shadows” by Paolo Maurensig


Theory of Shadows - Paolo Maurensig

“‘Imagine,’ he said, ‘that Stalin, with the complicity of the Portuguese police [PIDE], gave the order not only to kill him, but also to bring his body back to bring his body back to his native soil. Although the man was considered a traitor, his genius belonged to Great Mother Russia. Imagine that Alekhine’s embalmed body is to this day displayed in a showcase in some secret room in the Kremlin. Imagine that, as the conclusion for your novel.’”

In “Theory of Shadows” by Paolo Maurensig

For those of you who don’t know, Estoril is near Lisbon. 

Chess is a troublesome game. I gave it up after many years playing at expert level. At club level the element of sheer chance involved means that most players would have more fun and probably considerably more success playing ludo. This does not stop egocentric oddballs from exhibiting a most unbecoming arrogance whenever the dice happen to fall in their favour. This is likely to be true at Grandmaster level equally and explains much about their strange behaviours. Alekhine hated losing and would have fits of carpet-biting rage whenever he did. Weird lot of them chess players! There is of course no chance at any level of chess except for the draw in some tournaments.



If you’re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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