Sunday, January 21, 2018

Visualization Fallacy Redux

For the two or three of you who actually slogged through that last posting, congratulations and my sympathies. To push patience still further, here are some cleanup items, followed by an extra bonus confusion multiplier!

I'm a big fan of buried ledes. In fact, at one point I considered renaming this Slog "Jim's Buried Ledes". Most of the ideas in "The Visualization Fallacy" were non-original, albeit freshly expressed. But two original thoughts were strewn at the bottom: The part about why time seems to speed up as we age (which I'd tackled once before, here, though I hadn't tied it into a larger picture), and a fresh (to my knowledge) speculation about traversing parallel universes via internal shifts of our perceptual framing.

I'd previously touched on perceptual framing here, and I'll be writing much more about it in future. It's something I've been aware of since childhood, and assumed everyone else knew about. It was decades before I realized, to my surprise, that most people mistakenly assume the world shifts their framing for them. They think perceptual shifts aren't directly available to - and perpetrated by - them. The most telling example of this misunderstanding is the construct "You're making me angry". Obviously, that anger is initiated by you. You may be responding to a person or situation, but the external world has no lever of control over your internal framing (in fact, recognition of this is, itself, a reframing). You can be inspired to make shifts, but it's certainly not common to say "You're inspiring me to make myself angry!"

The grossest area of the grossest town transforms into paradise upon a first kiss there with someone deeply loved. And the most gorgeous place will become a bleak hellscape if your beloved dumps you there. Neither the kisser nor the dumper enact this transformation (though we naturally project it back to them). But we've clearly shifted, and the world has shifted with us. It's all different.

There are countless perceptual shifts that can reframe our attention - and thus our world and ourselves. Look very carefully at your cuticle. Then remember we're floating in endless space on an insignificant dust moat. Then return to your cuticle. Do it a few times, like a toddler playing with a light switch, to verify your control. Now try another. Sit quietly and observe that everything's perfect in this moment. But notice your brain scanning to find something to complain about (physical discomfort, hunger, temperature, memories or worries, a mental alarm set to go off soon...or simply the immense buzzing burden of the millions of previously set mental alarms that never quite faded to zero). Then refocus on how it's all perfect....and watch your mind once again spread out its tentacles, a princess perpetually scanning for mattress peas. Toggle between the two fast. 

This mundane-seeming faculty is actually a superpower, and one that can be practiced and developed (I'm working on a book about this), however rusty your shifter may have grown from disuse. It's worth the trouble. Framing is everything. Heaven is a frame, as is Hell. Did you really imagine they were places one goes after death? That's nuts! Do you think a hell could be devised that's worse than most people's day-to-day lives (entirely a function of their framing)? Or a heaven more salubrious than modern-day America actually is (if only we'd stop scanning for increasingly insignificant mattress peas)? Spiritual enlightenment, too, is a reframing.

An infinity of alternative yous, existing in an infinity of alternative worlds, can be visited/inhabited by simply reframing in any moment. It's not magic; we've had this ability the whole time. It's like a smartphone feature you didn't realize you had!

If I wrote yesterday's posting correctly, it should have offered a small, tasty cookie to those who struggled through. It should have inspired a reframing toward expansiveness. It explained how we project a world, and then live within that projection. So we're world builders. Gods! The step backward that's necessary to see this is, itself, a mighty perceptual reframing. But there's another step to be taken.

But before I ask you to stoically plow through the extra bonus confusion, enjoy an intermission via this spectacular adrenalin-pumping short film, which has absolutely nothing to do with any of this...but which, coincidentally, will coax you to reframe. We love movies because they're the slickest reframing aid short of a screaming boot camp sergeant three inches from your face:

The ancient Indians, bless 'em, coughed up a terribly advanced idea a few millennia ago. The Sanskrit term "akasha" is a humble-seeming word with the most cosmic of meanings: "it's all space."

Not in the I-just-smoked-pot-and-think-I-can-levitate sense of space, but they meant it in a legit 21st century physics sense. We now know that an atom is 99.9999999999996% empty space. So everything is almost entirely space. The Earth is space. Even, say, granite is way, way more space-filled than we'd imagine, say, a tissue to be. It's all extraordinarily spacious and light.

However spacious you might imagine it all to be, you're still vastly understating the spaciousness. In a neutron star, matter has imploded on itself to become inconceivably dense. A handful of neutron star material has the mass of Mt. Everest. And even that stuff is permeated with space (the atoms have been broken and compressed, but the component quarks are, you won't be surprised to learn, mostly space). I once asked some astronomers (and astronomy buffs) how much denser matter could get, beyond neutron star density (here's that discussion, if this is of interest to you). They didn't like the question; digressing while I annoyingly tried to wrangle them back on track. Finally I got the answer I was looking for:
"There is only space".

So....remember how I wrote this:
"You've only interacted with a tiny fraction of the molecules in your house, yet you've convinced yourself you have a perceptual and conceptual grip on the chaotic mass of matter you associate with 'home.'"
Now patch in the fact that it's all space. That unfamiliar materiality is actually space. It's nothing! Ferns are space. The marauding tigers are space. The aliens are space. And we are space. Is it now easier to imagine that we can create, project, and inhabit parallel worlds (such as Worldworld, which is so strange that even computers can't make sense of it)? And, just as importantly, has your sensation of expansiveness just grown? Have you reframed? Is this now a slightly different world?

Read the links (both here as well as in the posting this refers to)! I don't include them pro-forma!

I wrote this follow-up posting clarifying and explaining some points.


Brian S. said...

I wonder if you realize how wonderful this is. The tiniest twist and your perceptual frame changes, and then your whole world changes. But... and here's the incredible thing... if you can get everyone to make this twist and change their perceptual frame, than the whole world really does change! So many otherwise inexplicable changes in history can be explained by this subtle but invincible phenomenon.

Jim Leff said...

The point of this is to urge less consideration of the objects (including the people, and the events, and all the rest of a world's yadda yadda), and more to the part no one notices, because it's so central (sort of like water to a fish): your perceptual frame. Less object, more subject.

Object attention is so engrained that it's a hard-to-kick habit even among those devoted to the task. So it's understandable that you'd see the people and the history as brighter and more real and solid, and see changes there as being "real" change, as opposed to what seems the more whimsical and "imaginary" change of perceptual framing.

I do not. What's bright and solid for me is pure attention - what Franklin Merrell-Wolff referred to as 'consciousness without an object". I'm mildly interested in the manifestation, but much more interested in the attention that selects a given manifestation from an infinity of pre-struck possibilities. To refer once again to the posting about the fan (, once you start to be less distracted by the marvelously stimulating and diverse winds, the real interest is in the silent place that precedes all.

Just to get you started, if you got everyone in a sleeping dream to reframe, and the dream got a plot twist, exactly how interesting would that be? Especially considering that the world of dreams (like all other worlds) is ever-roiling anyway?

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