Saturday, August 3, 2019


Good news! My recent sojourn into difficult postings about mind framings (aka shifts of perspective) and their relationship with creativity, insanity, messiahs, inspiration, and weight loss is nearly over. This will be the final installment, at least for a while. We've lost 75% of our small feisty crowd thanks to this tangent, and I don't imagine they'll be back. But they say it's healthy to thin a herd, so I can only salute your bovine magnificence.

Going forward, I'm at a loss as to what I can do for an encore. I've solved every mystery that's intrigued me (there've been many; I'm abnormally curious). I've connected nearly all my scattered observations and insights in describing a common basis for art, creativity, spirituality, hypnosis, insanity, depression, and self-destructive behavior, weaving an original and credible theology, cosmology, plus a quick-start guide for would-be messiahs. I've accounted for the most elusive phenomena in the human experience - inspiration - and explained how to bottle the lightning.

I’ve also explained why it’s perfectly ok to blindly relish the mere surface of it all. If so, then why dig around behind the curtain? Well, curiosity, obviously, but, more importantly, for those for whom drama has overheated into trauma, and who find themselves on the brink of giving up on the world. Even those happily jacked in to the drama can reach a point where they need to pause the movie and have a nice long look around the calm, safe theater. They say Prozac's a helpful drug, but it won't give you that. Reframing will. Booze, sex, pain, and overwork are blunt reframing cudgels, with wicked rebounds. But the good news is that perspective has been infinitely responsive - at your very fingertips! - all along.

I feel squeezed dry (especially coming after the two year build-out of my smartphone app, Eat Everywhere, which incorporates pretty much every speck of my food knowledge). But having uploaded himself, your desiccated husk of a slogger has one last trial for your flagging patience.

Before I get to it, I'd like to object to the notion that what I've been doing here is "philosophy". Philosophy is abstract conceptual masturbation, usually irrelevant for everyday people. This material is anything but. All things mind-bending and assumption-challenging are not philosophy! Every "long view" is not philosophy! It's a lazy term. Like "ethnic food", it's a planet-sized drawer where we toss anything not brutally familiar. This material is too singular to sort, so into the drawer it goes. "Smells like philosophy" justifies one's retreat back to a more comfortable diet of endless hours of watching people on TV calling a senile 73 year old moron "racist" over and over again.

It will be decades before these insights reach broader attention. When that happens, my writing won't play a part. It surely won't be noticed among the 180 quadrillion web pages, but others will stumble into the same conclusions independently (the first popping kernel doesn't make the other kernels pop). I hope you've enjoyed a sneak preview of humanity's next phase of evolution (snarkers: there's your pull-quote). We will realize that we frame; that its not imposed on us; that we're free. This is the only truly effective salvation that can reasonably be imagined.

These conclusions would have been reached far earlier (likely by the Presocratics of Ancient Greece and/or the eerily contemporaneous authors of the Hindu Upanishads) if only they'd had the enormously helpful metaphors of movies and video games to consider.


Since early childhood, I've had the sense that I was really good at something...but it was fuzzy. I dived into music, and was good but not really good. Same for writing, community management, guerrilla entrepreneurship, food, yoga, meditation, and a few  lower-profile undertakings. Always dancing around some fuzzy Thing. Finally, at this late date, I see that childhood me was right (as usual; he was so much better than this shleppy, bleary-eyed grown-up). This is what I'm really good at. Framing is the fuzzy Thing! Glad I found it. I very nearly didn't. The ten year discovery process was charted in real time right here in this Slog (here's a very rough overview, underscoring a different through-line), amid all the lasagna porn and vacation slideshows.

Ok, having run my miserably self-aware little victory lap before a mildly appalled gaggle of jazz musicians, Chowhound loyalists, eating buddies, and ex-girlfriends - a bedraggled juiceless raisin of a man trudging mirthlessly in beige track shorts - it's time for the final (for now) chunk. Embarrassingly, this one actually is philosophy. But here goes:

I recently wrote:
Epiphany, eureka, and inspiration are the peakest experiences a person can enjoy in this world. They dislodge stuckness and open up fresh insight, leaving us euphoric. Who wouldn't want that? They arrive, famously, in a flash, via a mysterious channel that's clearly distinct from everyday thinking.

These blessings stem from reframing, that’s all. Blind to our infinite freedom to shift perspective, we enjoy the beneficial aftermath with befuddled gratitude. Since we haven't, as a species, fully framed our framing, major shifts seem to manifest as a thunderbolt from heaven; a gift from the muses. “What the hell was that?!?”
What I'm really saying is that God is a construct upon which we project our framing faculty. 

We frame incessantly. It's how we create and traverse our world. But the faculty is almost entirely unconscious (fish don’t know that they swim!). And so we frame it as an external Framer doing it. The ensuing blessings - the epiphanies and eurekas and inspiration; the creativity and the consolation - are attributed to Him (and since those outcomes are extremely wonderful, whoever makes it all happen does indeed deserve immense gratitude. So, hey, give yourselves a nice round of applause!). 

A book was published back in the 1970's, titled "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes. It sparked much animated discussion.

Jaynes theorized that introspection is a relatively new feature of the human brain. In ancient times, before we came to fully "own" this higher function, our thought stream didn't seem to emanate from us, so we figured it was imposed from outside. The benign hallucination of an externalized inner voice explains all those ancient prophets and their revelations. They heard their own inner voice as the voice of God.

In the final estimation, a consensus deemed this crank science, and the book's barely remembered these days.

But Jaynes was right in the broader sense. We do have a divided mind (cognition vs framing) and we have indeed long attributed the more elusive, loosey-goosey part (framing) to God. He doesn’t talk to us much these days, but our shifts of perspective - along with the associated epiphanies and inspirations - still come from "out of the blue", as even the staunchest nonbeliever would agree.

Jaynes wasn't drawing quite the right distinction, and he got hung up trying to explain this via structural issues of the brain. Humanity will find no neural structures underpinning framing. It's the other way around: Framing underpins all structure (i.e. the entire multiverse). Perspective is pure subjectivity, and there can be no objective basis for it. Subjectivity doesn’t spring magically from objects; objects are an interpretation of subjectivity, and that's why this faculty is so extraordinarily slippery, spurring us to create a God to attribute it to.
Humans, like beavers or ants, are brilliant with objects but brutishly ignorant of subjectivity. That’s why we outsourced the latter to a Supreme Being early on, who we, naturally, immediately objectified.
Most every spiritual tradition includes some quietly-stated acknowledgement that God (i.e. the kingdom of heaven) is within. You are God (and heaven is a perennially available frame). Not the "you" represented by this body with this name. Not the narrative with which you identify; not the Movie of You. There is a more fundamental static self - with clear lifelong continuity - overarching your perpetually changing materiality and your perpetually changing mentality. It has been palpably present since before you had a name or a backstory. It has stared blithely and unwaveringly out of your eyes for as long as you can remember. This is the pure subjectivity that you actually are. Often called "The Witness", what subjectivity really does is frame, via placement of attention. And that is, literally, God’s work. 

There’s nothing spooky or holy or exalted about this framing/being-God function.

It's the function that pays attention to one alternative or the other while viewing that optical illusion I keep pointing to (like here). Only one perspective is inhabitable at a time, but it can be flipped at will.

It's the function that can view Donald Trump as, alternatively, hilarious...or not the least bit funny (one perspective at a time, but flip at will - and, if you'll notice, the entire universe shifts accordingly).

It's the function I used to view a long-ago Christmas Eve as, alternatively, sublimely cozy or depressing and pathetic (choose one, flipping freely).

It's the function that makes 32nd Street seem like heaven if you’ve just been kissed for the first time or hell if you’ve just been dumped...or impels you to lead your entire life as if you've just been either kissed or dumped (the latter’s enormously more popular, yet, still: choose/flip!).

Once we recognize our infinite latitude for shifting perspective - for reframing - it changes everything. You need not wait for a God to do it for you. The faculty has always been freely available. You are, at the ground of your being, the chooser. The Creator.

So has anyone found any good tacos lately?

Reframing/perspective shifting is a bit like breathing or muscle contraction: it's something that we do automatically/unconsciously, but we can also seize intentional control. Unconscious framing choices stem from habitual patterns of attention placement. If, over time, you mildly favor framing minor snafus - stubbed toes and lost car keys - as being part of a pattern of lifelong persecution by the fates, that framing becomes the default, and every subsequent snafu adds to your greater burden. But an infinity of other perspectives/framings can be consciously established as habit (again: kissed or dumped!). The salvation of humanity will be in recognizing that our sowing leads to our reaping.

Oh, and “spiritual enlightenment" is just another the widest possible perspective. It makes for a fine bookmark among the infinitude of framing options, but is no more difficult a shift than any other. They’re all effortlessly available (again: consider the optical illusion, or the piano smash). Reframing is not something we toil to achieve, like with cognition. The only problem - THE ONLY PROBLEM! - is unfreezing one’s ability to consciously frame at all. Once, that is, you've remembered that you even can. And I’m working on a book of exercises to help with that.

See also: "Paradise Lost".


Display Name said...


Anonymous coward said...

I think this changing of perspectives can be applied to flat Earthers. I just watched a documentary I really enjoyed called behind the curve for free. On one perspective or frame, the scientific one we are nowhere near the center of the galaxy yet alone the universe on a planet that is billions of years old and the universe has trillions of years of lifespan left.

We are insignificant. The Earth is much bigger than us, the sun is even bigger, hyper giants are much larger than the sun and so on. Finally, we may even live in a multi-verse making us even smaller in perspective and insignificant.

On the other hand you can believe in flat Earth, that we are the center of the universe. That the sun and moon are the same size and much smaller than the Earth. Yet, I don't think we are stuck between scientific nihilism and Flat Earth narcissism. There is at least one more perspective or frame. One that says so what if we are small today. Our actions might really matter more than we could possibility imagine.

The great human empire may one day span multiple universes either bringing benevolence or malevolence in its wake. Traveling across the continent via the Oregon trail was a hardship that took months now we can hop on a plane and go even further in less than 24 hours, much safer, and more pleasant. Science fiction writers have imagined fast and safe space travel for decades. What we do today could have tremendous significance for millenniums to come.

Finally a forth frame. Carpe diem, our deeds don't matter, so why not indulge in the best food we can find? Sally forth and eat well! Philosophy is useful for thinking about events from different angles, Utilitarianism, intention vs consequence focus, etc. This helps us switch frames so we do not get stuck.

Paul Trapani said...

A couple of new taco finds...

One is a Honduran place, but they do make great tacos -

Another is a new Mexican place in Huntington Station,

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