Sunday, April 25, 2021

Oh Christ, No, Jim; Not the Piano Smash Thing Again

A couple of postings ago, I wrote:
Perceptual framing is not "positive thinking". It's not about concocting a hopeful story to help you stoically endure your bleak reality. It's not crutches or blinders or rose-colored glasses. It's about keeping your perspective lithe enough that you can contemplate at least a few of the infinite angles, and select one that's beautiful and truthful. Just because some life development seems to evoke a soundtrack of mournful violins, you are not obliged to gratuitously load The Film of Woe into your personal projector. You get to choose the film! It's your projector! Everything happening - the entire whirlwind - is nothing but fodder for you to frame per your caprice. That's what we're here for. You're free!
I've backed off of discussing the deeper aspects of this framing business, because when I tried going there, 75% of Slog readers left, permanently. But for any newbies who weren't around for those glory days, let me note that "choosing the film", can be understood metaphorically (where it's comparatively comfortable), or it can be taken a bit more literally, which is so spookily counterintuitive that explanatory efforts chased away virtually everyone. But, hey, why not briefly re-pick that scab? I've been offering loads of cherry blossoms and food porn lately, so indulge me for a minute!

A “piano smash” is when you mash down all the piano keys with your forearms, so every note's been struck. In the cacophonous din, one can listen for any song and hear it. Not imagine hearing it, but actually hear it via a converse sort of perception, antithetical to what we're used to.

As your attention chooses among the static array - every possible note at once - an illusion of dynamism, of movement, of change, of passing time arises, and you can hear Mozart's Piano Fourth Concerto or Brubeck's Take Five, in any key you’d like, and at any tempo. All the music you've ever known or imagined can be heard (not imagined; actually heard!) as your attention tunes in among the din. External music arises from choices of internal attention...i.e. reframing. We “tune it in” via our selection.

It's been widely noted that the mind can't help but find order amid random chaos. That's the closest mankind has gotten to the truth, which is that the universe actually is a piano smash. All "notes" are pre-struck; a preset availability of infinite possibilities from which we pick and choose, creating the illusion of external dynamism, of movement, of change, of time, and of This and That. We tune everything in via our selection. Picking out melodies amid a piano smash isn't some odd way of perceiving. It's how all our senses work all the time. Nothing out there moves, nothing changes, nothing exists right here/right now until you've tuned in with your attention. And we have infinite latitude because, again, all notes are struck. We choose from infinity.

If an infinity of framings is available, why do certain patterns, e.g. your cousin Gary, persist, presenting the impression of fixed solidity?

Habit. Attention - the aware consciousness that is what you actually are - develops habitual framings, and so we appear to exist within solid and semi-predictable surroundings (it's an illusion created by our propensity for abstraction). If we allow ourselves to grind down into utter tedium, we experience the narrowed prison of frozen perspective, where the world, as we tune it, appears to become stuck; a frozen, dreary, single thing, very unpleasant. Life becomes untenable, and that's what depression is. If we habitually/obsessively latch on to one single framing, the world correspondingly congeals into tedious lifelessness.

But we are always free to shift perspective. This faculty is the fabled prime mover. It makes the external world arise - a neat trick! - but if it fixates, it can also make the world freeze. The choice is yours: either delight (all framings are delightful, exactly as all film genres are entertaining; you needn’t conjure up a particularly “nice” one; just remain lithe!) , or else the torment of frozen perspective. Heaven and Hell are both a matter of framing. As you sow, so shall you reap.

Read more deeper implications of framing in this challenging series of posts (previously linked to above), which started off as an attempt to explain something unrelated (but also interesting). Spoiler alert: we traverse the multiverse via our shifting attention. That's what framing actually is/does. Static snapshots consecutively selected by internal placement of attention create the illusion of external dynamism; of time and space. Much like picking melodies out of a piano smash. 

It seems unfathomable and mysterious, but sit, one day, at a piano, smash the keyboard, and tune into "Hey, Jude". You'll find it’s not
 strange at all, even though no one's playing it! For a more convenient - but more limited (only two options!) - taste, contemplate the optical illusion here. That’s framing, baby.

None of this is weird. It's all intimately familiar. It's just not how we've been conditioned to conceive of it. A fish doesn't realize it's swimming. He'd scoff if you tried to explain about water and fins! Wild stuff; crazy intellectual theories! :)

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