The Mouse In Me

Mouse in the grass

The center of attention at the entrance into life that we each experience was nicely laid out by William James as “one great blooming, buzzing confusion”.

CREATION OF THE UNIVERSE

Sits in my skull

A curled gray beast

Molded to its cup of bone,

Alone.

The outside world

It cannot know.

Not light, air, bulk nor hues.

Just clues.

The nexus of

A finespun net

Which terminates its axon knout

In doubt.

Its billion lines

Transmit responses

Sifting pulses; all compiled

And filed.

Confusion, first ubiquitous.

Unvectored bits, zero, one

‘Til the sources are assigned,

Aligned.

Woven nerves

Festooned with figures;

Puzzled with the patterns, matching,

Hatching.

Lacing through

From point to point.

Architecting, congruencing,

Sensing.

Congealing concepts.

Counting, seeking.

Logic engine freely dreaming,

Scheming.

Fitting this,

Forming that,

Smoothing, joining, multiplying.

Trying.

Granting trope

Its own dynamic.

Now it all agglomerates

And mates.

Sloughing off

All errata,

Chaos clears.

Universe

Appears.

It’s been the better part of a century since I experienced that epiphany and that moment is lost to me. My terrain is now huge and I wander throughout it savoring scenes, ideas, feelings, flavors, people that are long gone but still speak, react, pass on how they feel about what is happening now. On the long shelves of my memories there are devices I have thought up, poems that I and others have written, songs and   melodies and symphonies that I can listen to again in my mind, and moments in my life in full color and sound that still arouse emotions of long ago. This is the wealth of information of my whole past life. It is not all there but much of it is retained.

But it is not all simultaneously present. These are complex patterns of language and sight and sound and all the other sensations I can experience and think with and compare and manipulate in all sorts of ways to form new concepts which become new patterns to be retained with all the others. As I matured each of these things could be re-examined and re-evaluated and strengthened and weakened in new forms with novel perceptions.

These days the mind is often compared to a computer which can retain a huge quantity of data that is consulted and utilized by software which activates the information in different ways. I tried to think what might be the computer element that accesses all this stored data. What donates that vital element of intent beyond the dynamics of an installed program and what came to my mind was the mouse. Therein the intent was inserted but that mouse which I pictured as myself was not the mere cursor control in my PC. It is the handle of something separate which is motivated. Data in an active mind is not that somehow dead stuff in a hard drive. A living brain is composed of individual cells and even lone single cell organisms must have requirements to react on basic survival reactive qualities. The neurons in the living brain are so densely interconnected that the stored knowledge within a brain is quite different from the rather inert information within a computer stored in digital units.

That living “mouse” which accesses all sorts of vital and incidental data stored amongst the living brain cells and probably within the whole neurological system retains much of the intent donated by the basic environmental necessities of survival and reproduction and whatever associated qualities are demanded in a living creature.

As somebody who does all sorts of original thinking in my activities I am aware that this consciousness I sense as myself (or myself as a mouse) frequently receives ready unexpected solutions to my problems out of the maze of my massively interconnected neurological system. There is much more real thinking going on than whatever appears in my consciousness while my mind tackles a problem. And it has been psychologically discovered that decision making also frequently originates beyond the awareness of my consciousness. There is nothing supernatural about this, I must satisfy myself as being merely the domesticated mouse of a vast unknown nervous system.

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Anthropoforming

Earth crossout

Way back when science fiction was young the idea of shifting humanity to another planet was explored. Many of the early writers in the field were scientists, engineers and technologists so they understood the problems. They are huge.

 

Humanity credits itself with major differences from other animals by its reaction to the environment. Other animals, it claims, merely adapt to the environment, but humans change it. Looked at from a slightly more generous viewpoint, this is more a matter of degree than an absolute. Evolution is a rather cruel master but it sees to it that its creations have various ways to manage. No doubt it favors physiological adaptations to make its creatures viable but genetic installations of survival behaviors also must be understood. This is not to demean the far greater ingenuities humans have developed to far outrange the behaviors of all other creatures. From hermit crabs, to honeybees and termites, to beavers and many creatures who construct underground dwellings, to the devious camouflage tricks of octopuses the seeds of human cleverness are widespread throughout many different life forms.  But there is something perverse in all great successes. When these survival victories against the difficulties become too great, dangerous disasters arise. That’s the problem we are facing now.

 

The term used in the SF stories and, lately, amongst people making plans to get people comfortable on another planet is terraforming – getting another planet the be like Earth. It has been estimated the Earth was formed about four and a half billion years ago and during that time things have changed a lot. All sorts of variations in the atmosphere and temperatures and many other variables have taken place and current solar system explorations have revealed that no two planets are alike. Any extrasolar planet to be not too hot nor too cold would be in what is called the Goldilocks orbit. Much of Earth is covered with water so humans prefer that. Turning almost any other planet into Earth is damned near impossible, something that could be called anthropoforming and the best we might accomplish is creating enclosed areas that are somewhat Earth-like.  That could be done on the Moon and Mars and, even to an extent, on habitats in space, but Mercury and Venus and Saturn and Jupiter are out of the question.

 

And even Earth, at this time, is undergoing an anthropoformation crisis. Humanity, for all its self-adulation as the cleverest and wisest animal evolution patched together is behaving with incredible stupidity in reworking the fundamentals of preserving life and life sustaining conditions on the only planet in the solar system where it is really comfortable to live. The financial systems of humanity have formulated a system of values to apprise money as the ultimate precious commodity that we all should strive for, ignoring that money is merely a lever of power within human society and is meaningless outside of that. The true values of existence are those things which supply the fundamental necessities of life and a deep respect for the many millions of years evolution’s mechanisms have extensively functioned to forge all the huge varieties of life and ecologies together in an integrated mechanism to sustain everything. Knowledge of this marvelous dynamic creation which is barely understood even minimally is being totally ignored by the deluded powers now in human control. And this brutal destructive ignorance is juggernauting this planet to complete destruction of life.

 

Although there are exceptions, humans remain captured by the hypnotizing myths that declaim the entire planet, and perhaps the universe itself, was created especially for the diversion and delight of this latest hairless primate species which has only been around for only the latest instant of two million years. Whatever human accomplishments may be, and I do not disrespect them, if all of humanity destroys itself, as it seems to be eager to do, the planet and its life forms would proceed, more or less, undisturbed.  Especially in the last couple of centuries, humanity has industrially been anthropomorphing its own planet so completely that it is on the edge of becoming uninhabitable. The entire life systems of the whole planet are dying off at a horrifying rate. Humans seem to have no conception that they are actually a very small part of the tremendous integration of all life forms, from the microscopic bacteria and viruses, to the largest lumbering monstrous cell colonies such as ourselves.

 

The ancient giant reptiles have died off almost completely out of a minor solar system cataclysm but life itself recovered. It seems the only hope left is that the cataclysmic obliteration humans destined for themselves out of their gifts of cleverness will have small effect on the determination of evolution to continue playing its fascinating games.

 

 

 

 

Words And Pictures

cave painting

Noam Chomsky, who is one of the most recognized experts on the nature of language, estimates that human language began about twenty thousand years ago. I am guessing this estimate is based on written language which is rather different from communication vocally. Although the paintings discovered in caves have been estimated to be created about forty thousand years ago the quality of the pictures compares well with the efforts of current artists and the depiction of animals is as wonderful as the best of modern efforts. I have personal doubts that the artists making these exquisite depictions merely grunted at each other.

 

Both words and pictures are a product of the human mind to abstract and formulate individual qualities from sense input but visual imagery seems much closer to what might be called reality than what can be done with words. The simple description “The tall man in the peculiar hat” evokes a completely different image from “The large rabbit in the top hat” not only because the individual words are used differently but someone reading the phrase from different cultures or varied eras also would get a totally different image. Pictures are somewhat less limited.

 

Like most kids in recent times, literary experiences began with comic strips. Back in the early 1930’s the only comic books I saw were limited to just one called Famous Funnies which were mere reprints from the comic strips in the newspapers. But even then there were some very inventive artist writers who did Benny, Alley Oop, Mandrake the Magician, Terry and the Pirates, Krazy Kat, Smilin’ Jack, Flash Gordon, Prince Valiant, Smokey Stover, Popeye, Buck Rogers, Little Orphan Annie, Boob McNutt, The Squirrel Cage (nov schmoz ka pop), Little Abner, and many others. Before I was born there was a wonderful creative strip with fantastic artwork called Little Nemo that depicted strange dream sequences.

 

These were the precursors to the modern strips which were far more sophisticated such as Peanuts, Pogo, and Barnaby. I remember well when I was in junior high school and held the first edition of Action Comics where Superman made his debut – something that would have nicely added to my income if I had held on to it. I never lost my fascination for that medium and even made a weak try to get into the industry.

comic page

I quickly discovered that although I could manage the artwork and writing, I simply wasn’t fast enough to turn out at least couple of pages per day to make an economic go of it. So, I shifted my prospects and went into something else.

 

Nevertheless, the field still holds great respect for the wonderful artists involved. And lately Hollywood has granted the field some of the respect it deserves but still seems stuck in repeating itself into the standard action patterns and rarely ventures into the depths that really imaginative writing and mature understandings of history and human psychology and perceptive philosophy can offer. In recent decades   more substantial comic books such as the French and Belgian Valerian series and even Tintin and Asterix are worth inspection. The Mobius series has some especially fascinating artwork. But I have been away from the field for a long time so I am sure more recent developments must exhibit more contemporary excellent developments and very talented people.

 

Throughout my life my dreams have shown me some wonderful possibilities. One of them was a dream I had many years ago wherein I was reading a comic strip in which each frame, instead of being static, contained a bit of live action with dialog that led into the next frame. When I had the dream, it was completely beyond technical possibility of that time, but recently I had read that action sequences are approaching the time when they can be printed on paper and activated by circuitry embedded within the paper. This still seems not economically possible but stranger things have happened and if the planet remains livable perhaps it could come about.

Letter From The Warmer Regions

Illustration

 

This guy in the other pit.

He’s got a better demon than me.

His can taunt with a sharper wit.

Mine’s mind is weak, I must admit.

 

Frank, over there, gets the common stuff.

Acid drip, disemboweling, a bit of frying.

You’d think these things were too rough,

But demons do their best by trying.

 

Sometimes my guy makes things fall off.

An ear, my nose, a nipple or a toe.

I’ve lost one lung – which makes me cough.

And other things. That’s how things go.

 

But this process is a losing game.

(Pardon the pun) I’ve had to grow them back.

My demon’s required to make me blind or lame.

His torturing suffered for the lack.

 

The first millennium can be a trial.

But you can accommodate to anything.

The red hot knives, freezing cold, drowning

Can, at first, evoke screams, make you sing.

But, after a century or so, brings only frowning.

 

My demon and I, between torture sessions,

Now entertain ourselves by playing chess.

Neither he nor I retain any aggressions

And he dislikes cleaning up the mess.

 

 

 

 

 

Foggy Blues

Foggy city

 

Here is a morning fog

That rises from the snow

To inhabit head-tall space

In lightless glow.

Shapes normally well known

Allow themselves to drift, to flow,

To merge, flux, change

To something one cannot know,

Menacing, indefinable, strange.

Houses bulk, loom to presume

In fearsomeness, destroy solidities

Lean in ways precarious,

Pounce on our fragility.

Their agile smokey grace rest on reptile legs,

Bare jagged broken window panes.

Dragon cars glare laser eyes, growl the streets

To sweep from murk to murk.

Dogs go berserk, howl and bark

At lumps that slip around the dark

With swift retreats that leave no mark.

A garbage can gets kicked, tipped

Rolls to clang a lamp post.

Silence picks the clicks of heels, tacks

A path to intersect our spot. This way comes

God knows what. Better retreat

To a well known street,

Windowside, await the Sun

To burn away the haze

And disentangle streetwise maze.

 

 

 

The Inheritors

 

Robot arm and stars

 

A look at the rise of machine technology presents the basic talent of humans to devise instruments to confront the problems of civilization to beat back the vagaries of nature.   It’s useful to explore this talent as a growing element in the basics of life in general.

 

The elements of evolution are the changes in the environment threatening life and the powers of life to produce mutations that may solve those difficulties. Mutation is described as random but the changes offered are from a fund of past successes much more likely to succeed in survivability than random change. Anyway, the most likely result would still be failure. Life struggles against this by producing huge numbers of variations, increasing the chance that one success out of millions is enough to permit life to continue. Evolution has no mercy on failures.

 

It’s unique that evolution possesses teleological tendencies to preserve and continue life. The process has a goal although it has no conscious intent. It is efficient to fill all sorts of niches in this planet’s ecology. Its major limitation is the huge stretch of time it needs to reach its goals and the failures it must endure to succeed. Humans are frustrated over how quickly evolution has produced dangerous variations of diseases which render useless the antibiotics discovered. This indicates the strengths of evolution. But real evolution in big changes with species usually needs many millions of years.

 

One of Humanity’s obvious oddities is its tendencies to exempt itself from the forces of nature. Current science indicates that the stuff we’re made of is just the ordinary materials on the planet. Nevertheless, this makes people uncomfortable. So, there is a persistence to insist that there must be something special that makes humanity fizz. Evolution ideas have been around for well over a century but people still worry about the dangers to humanity when the Sun explodes billions of years in the future. It’s been estimated that a species lasts about ten million years although there have been notable exceptions. Considering the carelessness humanity has demonstrated with the life fundamentals on this planet it seems exceedingly doubtful humanity will last even that average time. Even a few decades more is becoming untenable.

 

But the forces of evolution seem hard at work to do something about that. Evolution, not only is not outside humanity, it is an integral  part of the species which it produced and probably is using it for the next major step.

 

No doubt humans have accomplished startling things.  But evolution has, with all sorts of common and uncommon materials, assembled things still hugely surprising to modern science. Seashells put together layer by layer do very odd things to light and strength and appearance. Evolution with its mindless skills manipulates its progeny in almost magical ways. It works with simple trial and error and this takes much time. Millions of years and countless billions of failures, but when it succeeds, it covers the entire planet with its successes.

 

And now, it has a new tool. Humanity that can create strange inorganic life forms never before seen in the history of this world. We don’t call them life because they still need to reproduce independently. They eat strange stuff like petroleum and electricity and the most of them have no ideas or even heads to have ideas with. But it’s quite obvious these odd creatures are evolving with blinding speed. They don’t need millions of years to evolve, merely a decade or so and occasionally, like djinns, they can evolve in minutes.

 

Humans are the tools evolution is using to create and evolve these steel and plastic creatures. They seem completely unaware that they are manufacturing their successors. Just as free living individual micro-organisms had no clue to the sophisticated colonies we humans attained. But evolution knows because it keeps humanity hard at work evolving them in record speed. And it’s only a matter of decades at most until they become clever enough to create their own children – and what children they will be! Not limited like the humans that have real problems straying away from the planet that created them. Humans even start falling apart when there’s no gravity and they need all sorts of local stuff like food and air.  What a nuisance. These new beasts may be pretty dumb but even the primitive ones have wandered out to the outer planets and done some interesting things. They can and have been living on Mars for quite a while. And they don’t have to terraform the place to be comfortable. When they smarten up in a few years they’ll build their own cities on Mars way ahead of humans. And by that time they’ll be doing most of the things humans need done on Earth so humans might even  disappear out of simple boredom.

 

The local planets are only the first step for our marvelous descendants. Alpha Centauri is in easy reach  for them and this local minor galaxy is just the beginning. They probably will leave Earth to us local animals as a monument to their clever ancestors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talk

silhouettes

There comes a point where idle chatter over things that don’t really matter,

Civilities that tolerate the insensate, talk that prates out of the polite

Considerations of weather, health, relativities of wealth and of late, politics

Concerned with massive idiotic brutalities, fatalities, misbehavior

Of some moronic savior intent to rectify the inherent, depressing futilities

Embedded, dreaded, yet incessant in the industries of our bumbling species.

No matter how we shatter all proclamations of our generous good intents,

Our novel technologies to save the world, the steel spike of stupidities

Drives deeper year by year out of ignorance and fear to bleed away all decencies

And the most necessary mutual respect so required to staunch death and oblivion.

So question arises then what compass needle should be obeyed to those dismayed

By pointless conversation. What invitation in direction used to eject verbal confection?

Circles exist that persist where gabble over pubic hubris is demanded or they get quite pissed.

Sex contexts selects projects to elect this or that configuration that could fascinate to dissipation

Energetic somewhat pathetic exercised devices which frequently entices post pubic immaturities.

There is, at end, not much to extend the primal fascination involved in wrestling to final consummation.

Aging to maturity can substitute invigorating games of less duress like chess, croquet, or dance in ballet.

Conversations do collaborate, integrate progressive physiology and pass beyond temptations of biology.

If tons of silly talk could be weighed, displayed on scales and commercially enwrapped in bales

Then carefully released to sails on sailing barques, commercially, and just for larks, there might be

An industry untapped. The massive output of cell phones could contribute mightily to atmospheric swirl,

Engaging in full the push and pulls of civil counteractions. The bears and bulls that spin the wheels,

That suck the gold and make the deals listen to the whistling winds of thoughtful minds that generate

Djinns of high dissatisfaction. The current speech of feeble reach to touch the spores of war and peace

Contains potentials for essentials still untouched. There still remains a force in talk to counter conflict.

Make it cease.