Weekly Head Voices #174: Row row row your boat.

The view through one of the old windows of Cucina di Giovanni in Paarl on a brilliant winter afternoon. The symbolism of this will hopefully shine through soon.

Hello friends.

Although these Weekly Head Voices look back at the week from Monday July 15 to Sunday July 21, it is already Wednesday, July 24, as I write this.

As is usually the case this time of the year, I access the below visualization perhaps a tad too often:

Although it’s grey and cold and rainy down here at the moment, I console myself with the fact that the days are slowly but surely getting longer again, minute by minute.

Starting from the depths of the Winter Solstice on June 21, when there were 9 hours and 53 minutes of daylight, today that had already stretched to a period of 10 hours and 16 minutes.

We’re slowly making our way to 14 hours and 25 minutes of daylight on December 22, the Summer Solstice.

Although I do try to savour every moment, I can’t help but look forward to the warmth.

Anyways, the rest of this post exploded into a solid dollop of backyard philosophy, which I hope you enjoy.

Bullet List of Miscellany (BLoM).

Before we dig in to the promised solid dollop, let’s warm up with a BLoM.

  • Last week I reported that we had half-bricked the solar inverter with a firmware upgrade. Shortly after that, with some help from local support, we reflashed everything from scratch (note: Although the manual says NOT to use EzFlash for GW5048-ES inverters shipped after March, you in fact have to use EzFlash in this case) and, lo and behold, the inverter was resurrected!
    • With BMS (battery management system) communication online, the system works like a charm. Record solar consumption so far is 24.1 kWh, which is great for winter!
  • My favourite (and only) TPN (Tall Philosophical Neighbour) alerted me to the fact that images were positively ginormous in the email version of this blog. I’ve fine-tuned the Hugo image-resizing shortcode to do a better job.
  • After a discussion with a friend from work about kindness, I came across this post I wrote five (5) years ago: Weekly Head Voices #81 - Middle-aged zen. For me it was worth reading again. (Also, the person who wrote that seems to be more advanced than I currently am. Life is circles.)

Life is but a dream.

I would like to take you on a little trip.

Please imagine an extremely dark room.

You’re stuck in this room.

Fortunately there are two really small holes in the thick black walls through which light shines in. If you get up and peak out through the holes, you can make out what’s going on outside of the room.

There are two more holes through which you can hear sounds from the outside world, if you put your ears up to them.

Every day, someone shoves food in through yet another small hole.

At least you won’t go hungry.

However, if you have to be honest, this room, your jail, is still really dark and really lonely.

After some time, you discover, behind a really heavy floor tile, a number of levers.

Using these levers, you are able to make the room rock to and fro.

After some months of practice, you learn how to rock the room more consistently, and move it in a certain direction.

When you do this, the rays of light coming in through the two pinprick holes change in interesting ways.

Very slowly, over a period of years, you start figuring out that the rays of light coming in through the two holes, and the sounds coming in through the other holes, are often caused by other prisoners, all trapped in cells similar to yours.

You start making contact.

Real-time reality synthesis.

It’s hard to tell this story without giving it away of course.

Your brain is in fact trapped in a bony cage.

It has two slimy nerve bundles slithering out through two holes in your skull. The ends of those nerve bundles are sensitive to photons falling on them (light), and send electrical signals back along their bodies when this happens.

Your brain has more slimy nerve bundles connected to your ears.

Sound waves hitting your eardrums via a chain of contact end up as vibrations in the fluid inside your cochleae, where another set of nerve endings are stimulated and send more electrical signals back along their bodies.

Your whole body is criss-crossed by more of these bundles of super long neurons.

Trapped in its terribly dark bony cage, your brain is a slimy mass that absorbs all of the electrical signals coming back from your eyes, your ears, and the rest of your nervous system.

There’s really not that much coming in folks.

However, somehow, somewhere inside of that slimy mass, “you” experience all of this as a multi-coloured, high definition, surround-sound, smell-‘o-vision, multi-million dollar 3D Hollywood movie.

When I look at the imbalance between the real-time sensory data coming in on the one hand, and the incredible richness of the experience on the other, and bolstered slightly by what I know about the human sensory system, I come to the conclusion that the multi-million dollar experience is a result of an almost perpetual hallucination.

In other words, the reality that we experience while awake is seeded by our senses, but a large part of its verdant richness is synthesised, in real-time, by our amazing brains.

Thinking about it this way, it is not so surprising that we are apparently able to synthesise whole realities while we dream, including people, environments, conversations, relationships and experiences, all in apparent real-time.

P.S. It’s the music.

This whole story came up in a conversation I recently had with my partner.

I was trying to explain that I easily get lost in thought with the right music.

Heck, when I go running (for realz), I sometimes get utterly lost in my imagination, and it’s quite a visual, even multi-sensory affair.

During that conversation, I had the insight that when this happens (i.e. I get lost in thought), it’s only some of the lower bandwidth sensory feeds that are suppressed and/or slightly disrupted, for example by the right music, enabling the super deluxe reality synthesis equipment in my brain to do what it normally does, only slightly less constrained by outside stimuli.

Taking this one step further, although one might be permanently hallucinating, one does have some control over the balance between incoming feeds and internal simulation.

In direct experience mode, one shifts more bandwidth to the incoming feeds.

(Internal simulation still has to fill in the multitude of blanks.)

Then, when one’s imagination takes flight, incoming feeds are turned down somewhat, enabling internal simulation to take over.

Row, row, row your boat.

I wish you an amazing week, and I look forward to when we meet again.