Jan 6, 2010

Deconstructed: 5 Minutes of Life - A Primer


Deconstruction: An artistic rendition

Let my start be an emphasis on the fact that this is a rather abstract and esoteric description of a conception which, as within actuality, is a simple experience of life, a plain picture to imagine once it is constructed correctly but due to our conditioned experience, comprehension and semantic representation of the world it may prove elusive initially to perfectly internalize the view that I hope I succeed to deliver. We will first deconstruct the view that we hold of the 'passage of life' through time and then reconstruct the composition it in a particular manner with different (substitute) elements. Now instead of actually stating that what I am going to eventually describe I'd rather lay a foundation on which to do so.
A moment of reflection is enough to imagine the vividness and variety of the experience of life that we all undergo everyday. More specifically the stream of consciousness that characterizes the passage through time. You will have to imagine the “going-on” of life as a flux of consciousness through the cross section of time. This cross section of time is ‘the present’. For any given moment, the very given moment is the present and thus the temporal cross section through which stream of consciousness comes from a theoretical future, be-comes the perceived present and the very next moment be-comes part of actual past. Look at it the other way, where you imagine time flowing “through”consciousness, here the consciousness becomes like the ‘filter-detector’ we ‘dip’ in the flow of time and perceive certain aspects of it that get filtered through the consciousness into the semantic center of our brain. I hope you’re able to think this idea as a visual representation where consciousness is like the light which illuminates the invisible flow of time.    
Let us understand one thing very clearly, there is potentially infinite information that we passively ‘encounter’ every moment and our consciousness is the filter that only lets us selectively process the relevant information from it and this happens as per our picture of the world and every associated concept in our head. Now its we can all imagine how a regular TV screen radiates only light in a combination of three primary colours in continuously varying proportions and/but we perceive it as a meaningful image. Much the same way from of the whole domain of our sensory channels, i.e., the sum total of all that there is to ‘sense’ at a given moment, we only perceive what our particular sensory system is conditioned to pick from the reality (that given moment) by our meta-consciousness.
We see different objects, backgrounds, colours, shapes, sizes, features, contours, luminosities etc using our visual equipment. We hear many sounds, the noise of vehicles, objects clashing with each other/rolling over each other, musical notes, the wind blowing, water gushing, people talking, metal banging, background noises etc using our auditory equipment. Same goes for touch, all the different ways we sense it, be it water trickling down the body, the sun burning down on it, the touch of another person, the feel of fabric on our skin etc. All these senses combined with a cognitive/psychological interpretation/view give meaning to our everyday experience of life. Before i reveal the purpose to touting this here I’ll ask you to picture a common situations plucked right from life as we all know and live it. Lets start from the time one gets up in the morning.First thing that you "see" is perhaps the change in luminosity form the time your eyes were shut to the ‘now’ when your eyes are open. Once open, your eyes will see the bed, the room, all the objects in it, all the various colours, all the shapes, all the sizes there, the contours, the height, length,depth etc. You turn your head and to get a visual image of whatever there is present in the room but was hidden from the field of vision when you were turned the other way. The important thing is that whatever this image you see will sort itself out into a foreground and a background. You will make sense of the composition of this picture, i.e. you will sense the distinct elements/objects/constituent parts that together make the whole image. Now this description as one  D (1)
We again start from the time one gets up in the morning. First thing that you "hear" is perhaps the "silence" of your room (assuming you are alone in your room)in contrast to the absolute silence that you "heard" or detected when you were asleep. Then a moment later you'd probably register distant sounds (cars on a road outside, someone talking in the other room, birds chirping outside, the mild wind current against the external walls of your house etc.) You perhaps hear the music from your alarm and quickly establish that, as the "foreground" of the audio "image" that you sense while all other sounds become a part of the background for that duration. And all this without conscious effort. You perhaps hear the sounds of the bed sheet crumpling as you get up, maybe then the sound of your foot against the floor as you start walking. Now this description is two  D (2)
We yet again start from the time one gets up in the morning. First thing that you sense by touch is again this sort of transition from the nothingness of an unconscious state (sleep) to an abrupt feeling of matter in contact with your body. Now you may feel the hardness of the bed, the softness of the bed sheet, the contours of the wrinkles on the blanket as you grab to put it aside, you may feel the weight of your leg momentarily suspended in air as you get off the bed, and then the cold floor as you step towards the loo etc. Now this description is three  D (3)
We go back to the time one gets up again but to keep it simple this time we assume that the smell in the air is fairly neutral (as should be in a well ventilated clean house) and that the taste in the mouth that one senses is neutral as well (perhaps one's own saliva). Now this description is four  D (4)
Finally imagine just about any sequence of thoughts that can go on in an average man's head, say for example there is a proposal to sent today in the office and a very important one at that, imagine a person besotted by this worry mulling over the issue soon as he gets up in the morning. Or else, for the benefit of readers who cant really relate to the office example, imagine a man going to college today with a firm resolution in mind to initiate a conversation with a hot chic he never spoken o but ardently admired all along and that they have a common class today for the first time and it presents itself as the perfect opportunity to talk to her. Now you may mark any of these series of thoughts as four D (5)
Now, we go back one more time to the moment that one gets up in the morning, only now you've to imagine all (1), (2), (3), (4), (5) descriptions running parallel, rather concurrently, and add to it any particular emotional flavour (associated emotional states) or topping to it (may depend on the levels and kinds of neurotransmitters in one's brain that given moment, the general circumstance in life of the person's placement terms of health, wealth, ego etc) and what you get is.......................(almost) the everyday experience of life!!!!!!!
Well... hold on just a sec there, we still haven't accounted for one crucial thing here!! Although it’s not entirely necessary to make the point that I am trying but would render the description above woefully inadequate without itself, so here it is... MEMORY. Now I have mentioned it separately after the 5 descriptions + associated emotional state(s) (AES) because it is a supervening function of our brains that ensures continuity of experience and modification of behavior through learning. Translation - it's more like a combined record of all the 5Ds + AES from the past. So in that sense, the "stream of consciousness" that we experience is like a river composed of 5 Ds + AES which flows into the "reservoir" of memory (and quite a bit of it evaporates as well from there.)
Now for the last time in this part of the article, lets again go back to the time one gets up in the morning, with all the 5 Ds running concurrently, accompanied by the AES and with a cognitive acknowledgment of your own identity (i.e. you are you, that this is earth, this is you house, your bed..So on for all the aspects establishing a sense of persistent identity) which comes from the memory ......now what we have is an accurate phenomenal description of a few moments of .............. an everyday experience of life of getting up in the morning!! Phew!!
Right.. !! Now that we have described/constructed this, I will deconstruct this experience in terms of energy exchange occurring in an open system .. But that I’ll do in the a later post!

1 comment:

Sidharth said...

Nice..!our senses are like I/O points in a CPU filling data in bits and bytes in their respective registers. Our processors runs a program that works in consonance with the updated information and concurrently processes them to give a combined result/output/status. Basis the processing required, some registers are redundant and some are acknowledged.
waiting for the second post..

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