Radio 4 – Brain Culture

At the risk of being wrong and sounding smug and not desiring either I just want to illustrate the problem with scientists confusing eloquence with soundbites and the obvious evidence of their own flaws in articulating a logical train of thought.
Mr marcus du sautoy ,mathematicians answer to Brian coxs physicist getting fundamentally muddled trying to explain godels incompleteness theorem semantically as the absurdity of trying to prove or diprove the statement “statement x is false” within an axiomatic system when what he was heally trying to demonstrate was the absurdity of the statement “statement x cannot be proved or disproved”.and through an axiomatic absurdity thus demonstrating that the system cannot in fact prove or disprove that statement but also be unable on its own to prove this inability which is evident to us.
Moving on knights move to similarly circular science of neuroscience whose deepest insights still suffer from repeatedly demonstrating behaviour that we generally regard as common sense.indeed behavioural neuroscience might just be the biological correlations of what we call emotional intelligence,that is learning to modify our responses by careful consideration of what outcome we ultimately want out of it.the science bit might well just be the MRI effect or correlation rather than the neuroscientists interpretation as causality.
if consciousness occurs at the level of the quantum wave function which only collapses due to a cumulatively probabilistic entanglement then all demonstrable brain signals will demonstrate the post conscious state where action has already been determined and thus show effects not cause.the unmeasureable consciousness is doing the measureable rewiring.
But those who worry about behavioural science misdirecting where our focus should be eg manipulative advertising and marketing our priorities ,are treating the brain as a static unlearning organ.by understanding and modifying our own behaviour we are consciously re training our neural circuitry
This is the brain observing itself and rewiring itself to learn a new response.the most sophisticated feedback mechanism that might be the herald of a consciously influenced engineering of the mind.
So if we want we really can learn to be a more compassionate and enlightened race that can rise above the shackles of our prehistorically dominating hunger for short term gratification but in doing so we might be instigating the next stage in human history where we begin to distance ourselves from what we historically understand to be “human” which after all may conventionally be considered to be a highly capricious state to that of being more rationallyand collectively self preserving .the dinosaurs mutated physically for over 200 million years.why should our brain have reached an endpoint in just 1million?
or is that complete nonsense because it is our very illogical impulsiveness that drives the heterogeneity of ingenuity and creativity in a race hitherto unprecendented in its capacity for objectively evident self reflection and cumulatively progressive supranatural evolution ultimately reflecting one avenue for the survival of the thermodynamically low entropy state known as life??
hmmmmm,dont give me a clue.let me think about this one….

Answers anyone?

On and On

Think I read a comment by Jonathon King about his upcoming biography and how you cant possibly fall in love after 40 cuz you know too much about life.
Maybe one could generalise that to saying that for anyone there is an age beyond which one loses the innocence of wonder and discovery. But put that way that seems to be an unreasonably pessimistic view.Not loving the whole pessimism angle on things at moment.Bad for the peristalsis.Lets choose to be anti-realist…

Katy Brand proved herself very articulate on the problem of how scientists express self declared rational and logical “realism” in a slightly uncompromising tone unable to respect the reality of individual motivations ( ie the average horoscope reader is not a gullible buffoon that might as well believe in santa and fairies and theyre still allowed to buy a lottery ticket even if they dont believe theyll actually win)

Take Richard Dawkins and his tiresomely pedantic and unsympathetic atheism aka secular humanism flowered up.Is it not ironic that the strongest advocate of the necessity of selfish nature cannot see that his own determined anti-irrationalism is promoted on a false pretence of philanthropic education and not an obvious implication of his own hypothesised inbuilt evolved and genetic desire of his unconsciously biased and self generated meme (or theory)selfishly trying to multiply itself for its own sake of existence into the ether of “ideas”.
His scientific defence is based on the idea of being attacked by an anti-intellectualism that apparently pervades the Creationist heartlands of America (but which fails to carry any significant influence this side of the pond) in which case why does his argument need to be heard by people in UK and other secular nations where in principle no one actually disagrees with the content of his arguments.So could it be that those scientific protagonists are just trying the tactic of portaraying themselves as underdog cuz you always generate more support that way.
Is it in fact part of a necessary (and ultimately personal) strategy involving winning over hearts and minds to create a sense of being the underdog or potential victim in any situation to bolster support for his own egotistical aims and sense of importance.Feeding a fear of being under threat from an unknown and unquantifiable entity? Because if you ask me there is next to no debate about the whole science vs religion debate. Im not sure there is any demographically significant subgroup of people in the West that is so vehemently anti scientific that it warrants a propaganda war to suppress it. There is certainly a majority of people who probably dont like being repeatedly bombarded with headlining public scientists sermonising then retracting what you should believe whether it be about ones religious belief or about yet another cause of cancer be it mobile phones or processed meat,or the sin of not breast feeding,or poisoning your baby with melted plastic in baby bottles,drinking alcohol in pregnancy or being born in august or with some form of lifestyle or behaviour that requires modification for ones own good. And Im not surprised when people feel patronised by those who suggest public policy should be geared towards scientifically driven and undemocratically determined health targets at the expense of some vices,eg banning smoking in ones own car,or taxing chocolate as some have suggested,examples where there is noone directly suffering other than the individual who chooses to ignore the risk to their own health. These ideas have been seriously suggested by a few obsessives who clearly have some form of emotional ambivalence to the concept of freedom,get a disproportionate amount of airtime and dont realise no member of the general public voted for them to be spokesmen on their behalf.

If all rights were restricted to those that were evidentially shown to confer least statistical harm or most statistical benefit upon the largest majority then we would simply all go mad.Someone would break the rules and demostrate that breaking them does not make any difference to them and then more people would follow until eventually people decide its been pushed too far.

human nature is pragmatic (and in fact essentially so),especially within a collective self governing body of people.But there has always been an old institutionalised oligarchic and autocratic dogma that to relinquish some responsibility upon those pragmatic masses would result in disorganised chaos and the resultant undermining of its own concentration of power (the latter of which of course is entirely true but for the opposite reason)

Ebbs and flows.Ups and downs.As said before..what some call a crisis others might call “re balancing”.If europe and others are going to pot maybe we have overshot our natural equilibrium and as some models suggest beyond certain parametric values (eg debt,population,car owners,pensions,mortgages,etc) a population and hence a standard of living becomes unsustainable and can fluctuate quite violently until it peters out to a steadier state,if at all. Either way our ability to make a long term judgement is hopelessly inadequate to account for the big picture because in the same way that successive governments can keep failing through short sighted votes and by implying quick fixes so too our short sighted need for instant gratification clouds our more sanguine perspective and we are forever living in the belief that we are on the edge of some catastrophe when all that is happening is wholesale restructuring and redefining of borders and sovereignty.no point getting sentimental about loss of wealth,power or status.people are mobile and so is capital.nationhood is not relevant and in fact counterproductive to those who are suffering and immobilised by circumstances.get off a sinking ship,ok? We all have essentially the same capacity to understand the pros and cons of what we are told and we know that we submit to our impulsivity at times…its the only way the wheels can keep turning.

 Philosophy and Contemplation are inconsequential byproducts of agriculture that have borne unexpected fruit but we are not isolated Minds,we are arms and legs and cogwheels and mechanics and we need to move and that is what gives meaning to how and why and what we think.Without one the other is pointless.(But it is besides the point to talk about points anyway) we know chocolate is bad but we should be allowed to eat it,we know its bad to drink and smoke but we know why we like it anyway.We know hospital services are inundated with the complications of all these vices but we make a collective judgement to pay some in society to look after the more extreme complications while the rest of us can continue,largely to abuse ourselves without disruption.And if we are able to detach ourselves from the unpleasant aspects of all that chronic endemic self abuse in society then thats upto the individuals concerned and extrapolates to an overrall consensus of consent.but if youve had enough of a situation or its becoming impossible to ignore or avoid the complications then we need to get enough of us off our arses to make change happen.simple democratic feedback.
if you want the wind to blow you have to accept that feathers must and will get ruffled.If youre stuck in a rut of complacent acceptance you can be sure nothing will change.that much is blindingly obvious. And yet its not quite how things work in the present.

“The masses” is still an un-self aware entity that governs itself and answers to no one and does not care about anything but Itself and does not know Its own strength. History books provide the narrative but not the rules.

Anyway Erykah Badu says it much better and more funnily. Lets step back for a minute or so

 

M(ean),M(edian),M(ode) – The Ultimate averages

I suppose damon albarn has to be in my list of people who have managed to embrace that dishevelled descent into a middle age quagmire and make it seem self satisfyingly zen like.
it doesnt have to be musicians but in this climate i guess theyre more likely to be in a group who if successful have full licence to disappear as far past their hepatic flexure as physically possible and be fully endorsed by all those who got you up there to bring back whatever the f**k you find up there and then be able to call it “art”(or is it “arse”??)
nevertheless i begrudge him not the slightest.indeed i wouldnt mind being in his shoes.that way shrivelling up and looking like a tramp whos not sure if that piano is actually just a park bench manages to seem eerily street credible.
he has reached that weird bob dylan-y precipice where youre not sure you actually like the music but the languid un catchiness of it all seems to have caught you in a gentle to-and-fro and you dont mind just swaying with it for a while.
i think kurt cobain would have disappeared into such a puddle if he had maintained that distinction between a fretboard and a rifle.
but to be fair there is a fundamentally poptastic melodicness about the music which is why as always they can get away with anything and go as david lynchy as they like.
Nevertheless appearing to relish in the emancipation of ones persona and diving consciously headlong deep into physical unremarkableness with the enthusiasm of a lemming is a good choice of guise as alter egos go
I give you Mozza,Damon Albarn,Chris whatshisnamefromcoldplay,who else who else,mmmm..Brad Pitt maybe,even Johnny Depp and Leonardo Dicaprio.Theyre positively defacing the baby fluff for a chance to be allowed to grow old ungracefully.
not a bad party to gatecrash huh?
yippee ki yay mahomies.

Bridesmaids

Dont know about the label chic flic but I know this is actually a good comedy about the underdog.
And I genuinely laughed with this one.
Interesting how once you get beyond the basic familiar plot line its the little pointless bits that make a movie realistic and easier to relate to and laugh along with.
Thats why I think Eastenders is at its best when it enacts one of its weekly big arguments.They pay attention to those subtle local nuances,those colloquialisms,those natural digressions in normal conversation that can make some of those heated scenes seem very genuine.

But when movies are on strict deadlines and budgets, emphasis is placed on speeding through the plot rather than taking time with the tangents of the story.
This movie however is a lot more accessible by tapping into those universal little things that make you warm to the character.
The fact that shes isnt one of the big mainstream Hollywood actresses and her character isnt even the one getting married means you can take her seriously from the outset.Thats always a good trick for a movie to be credible.The fact that shes not evidently plastically surgically modified to the hilt (albeit blond and skinny but this is still Hollywood ok?)and you can see a few lines on her face makes a refreshing change.
But just credible realism doenst make a great movie otherwise every sombre drama would win an Oscar.
My totally unqualified opinion is that the realism does come first but once you have empathy for the character then youve got to stick her in a “situation” that challenges your own ideas and values of how one might deal with such a predicament.And that predicament can be relatively prosaic like your friends wedding or it might be the prospect of running out of power while orbiting the moon in Apollo 13 but a good movie has got to start by making you give a toss about the characters and thats where these simple little touches go a long way.
And i have to say I havent heard the word “c##t” uttered in an american comedy before but i have to admit in a Dr Doolittle kind of way it made me laugh.
there you go…
a decent-no, a really good chic flic…coming from a bloke(at least since the last time I checked)
next ill be hailing the virtues of candles in a scented bath with a hot mug of cocoa and the latest issue of Heat.Shit! Ive just realised why women dont need to listen to the Orb.
Liking that fuzzy tingling feeling like when a hangover lifts and you havent got any immediately pressing engagements and for a few moments you can just take your time and chill…to this.
Nice…

Nothing Better

 Ibn Sina deserves good credit for the ontological argument proving the existence of the essence of the self.Redefining that as a divine embodiment and hence proof of God might have been a tad cheeky though.

But the amazing thing is that what he was actually torn by was indeed the frustrating recognition of the limitations of mortal self reflection ever being able to reveal insight into that which exists beyond and in fact is the necessary creator of that essence.(The necessary existent or First Cause)

Arguably he was touching upon nothing less profound than a worded version of Godels incompleteness theroem.That God and Creation are by definition beyond human axioms.

and in fact he took this “non computability” to be demonstration of the proof of God!Like I said…cheeky.

That along with the “floating man” thought experiment compared with Descartes’ “cogito ergo sum” statement made some 500 years later inEuropeputs Ibn Sina (Avicenna) amongst a pretty spectacular list of original thinkers.

Alongside Ibn Rushd’s (Averroes) very rationalist “disembodied collective intellect” view of the afterlife means that these two figures should quite rightly be celebrated as leading intellectuals of Islamic philosophy and should arguably be the inspiration for a regalvanisation of sincere intellectual discourse amongst leading Islamic thinkers (let alone an Islamic Renaissance)

As ironic then as when a misunderstood jew should become a figure of worship in a religion associated with antisemitism ,that despite all that self reflection these two admittedly opposing but enlightened proponents of a flourishing Islamic Age were unable to recognise themselves as self deluding atheists….!

Da Vinci's Universal Man

Stakeland

 The latest variation in the resurgent factory line of post apocalyptic neo romero-esque modernisations is stakeland.this time the amphetaminated zombies of 28 days later are further enhanced with luxury fangs and have a predilection for carotid blood which seems to confer more predatorial pack behaviour upon their constitution but as far as Im concerned this still more of a zombie genre movie.so maybe they should be called vampies or zompires or wombles or something.
there is less than the usual time dedicated to explanations for the origins of this particular “outbreak” even compared to the current trend of vague references to pandemics and it takes a while before you can be sure that these creatures were humans before thaygahbii- (in necessary southern pseudo religious drawl).
Also had touches of bleakness a la Blair Witch forest type isolated disorientation punctuated by islands of militarist attempts at re urbanisation which our protagonists somewhat strangely choose to forgoe maybe cuz of matrix like inability to pretend that the real world out there is too screwed up to ignore and possibly a hidden assertion that in times of war those who find a new role or an elevation in their status might actually be comfortable to remain in that anarchy than return to civvey street.(see iain banks “song of stone” or apocalypse now quote ” when I was there I wanted to be here.when I was here all I could think about was getting back into the jungle”
The feeling that our band of wanderers are in a mad max meets mordor sort of landscape that seems to create a more barren and harsher atmosphere than many zombie movies which usually plant the monsters in an intentionally familiar sunny suburban like setting.and maybe the fact that the hero looks like Charles bronson gives me a shuddery death wish sort of feeling about everything.and in the end you feel strangely empty rather than out and out freaked.in the tradition of road movies it doesn’t judge its characters in detail.it just gives you a snippet of their lives and cast a brief and very weak ray of sun in a pretty nightmarish world that seems strangely more realistic than the slightly tongue in cheek excesses of most of its peers.
But probably the freakiest thing about this movie is in fact that it is rated 15.what the hell do kids watch these days?
John Martin - Wrath

 

The Way

 Its hard to knock something thats heartfelt.Thats why movies can take advantage of guaranteed tearjerkers by using loss of loved ones.Even Bambi starts like that.Pixar,Disney…theyre all at it…killing off people you care about….

Maybe its not fair to call it a ploy.At the end of the day if its done respectfully then its only doing what all serious movies should be trying to do which is to reach out to the audience,to share a common feeling,to help us relate to each other.And sometimes thats done thru stories of perseverance and sometimes thru loss but without some amount of hardship characters tend to feel less real.

So a movie about someone searching for something indefineable to help them come to terms with a loss must be coming from the heart.And when your dad is Martin Sheen and hes playing your dad and youre playing your dead self it maybe adds an unfairly advantageous poignancy but that still shouldnt detract from its sincerity.

Its not really original and there is no epiphany and Im not sure I really connected with any of the characters or even took them all that seriously but a personal story about any loss will usually engage any receptive audience and that probably carries the movie through just about.

And in the same way that I didnt really understand why kids were used like pixie dust in movies to engender cheap sentimentality until I had one and then I realised that I didnt care what the director’s motives were and I know that he knows that which is why he keeps getting away with it and that you have to become more philosophical about these things and ask yourself why should this annoy me anyway?

After all its only reminding me to appreciate perhaps the most personal relationship most people can ever have with someone.The relationship with their kids.Because its not as if anyone gets it right with their kids or even achieves the closeness or warmth that these movies aspire to.

But the fact is your child is an embodiment of you.And your relationship with your child is a very overt manifestation of how well you get along with yourself.

And most of us take a long time to understand ourselves.

So once upon a time I would love to disappear on the high road and head for the sunset searching for something.Even at the time I knew i didnt really need to go travelling to find it.But travelling does give you one thing that you dont often get.

It gives you the opportunity to spend time with yourself and at some point most people realise they are ready to come home and others realise they are already home.Either way spending time on your own means you have no choice but to get along with yourself.

Once youve done that then youre ready to give a bit of yourself away.

So one day I would love to go back travelling the open road with no fixed schedule but i hope it would be with my son and that we can both actually just get to know and like each other and so that I can give him a piece of myself to take with him and as my body gradually dissolves to dust on the path that he will walk that I should feel only gratitude and acceptance for the privilege afforded me for ever being able to relinquish my soul to my son’s memories and for those memories to embolden him to continue this long road into the unknown when he has to face it alone and without me.