Photographer: Kate Sweeny

Kate Sweeny

… nice photographs of young women, clothed and unclothed… an example of nude photography with women behind and in front of the camera… the artist tells us that the photographs are not about the objectification of women, but rather, about the celebration of women’s bodies as an art form in and of themselves and as natural presences in the world… which i believe… the photographs are, however, easy to view in a sexualized and objectified way, especially when they deploy tropes like wet fabric on the body as in the above image… i think we suffer from a lot of confusion about sex and sexuality, particularly in American Society, because there is a strong tendency to repress sexuality, and because the Patriarchy is so alive and well, it makes any young woman an object of sexual desire and any photograph of said young woman sexualized, when patriarchal eyes that are looking… i don’t see this as a reason not to make and display them… i do see a need to be honest about the variety of ways in which content can be perceived…

Photographer: Grade Solomon, BOOOOOOOM Mag

Grade Solomon

… the above photograph blew me away with it subtlety and clarity… it’s also a photo i could easily have taken…

… exceptionally well made photographs and an artist statement that is to the point and accurately reflects what i encounter in the work… no small feat…

 Amia Srinivasan, The Right to Sex

… a book about the politics of sex?… from a philosopher no less… sounds interesting… might want to get…

If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power

… the title of Halsey’s new album… what an interesting dynamic in that statement… i have been known to say i don’t want power… i would perhaps amend that statement to: i don’t want power, but i want to be powerful… that is, i want to be a powerful presence because of the wisdom with which i move through the world, not because i can make the world conform to the way i want to move… now, the idea that it is love or power… hmmm…

Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Matter, Part I, The Logical Analysis of Physics, Chapter II, Pre Relativity Physics

… i am feeling up to the challenge… we will see how it goes…

  • starting with some words on Newtonian physics, because, modern day physics amends rather than replaces Newtonian physics…1
    • Russel says of the world described by Newton in Principia: nature is convenient for the mathematician2… not so for modern physics…
  • Newtonian physics describes a world situated in absolute space and absolute time, posits that particles are eternal and reduces the interaction of particles to force, mass and acceleration…
  • there are epistemological questions that haunt Newtonian physics which are less problematic for relativity, though not entirely unproblematic… 3
  • epistemological: relating to the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion: what epistemological foundation is there for such an artificial discrimination?
  • absolute space, absolute time, is the most significant epistemic question… it would subsequently be proved that these are not necessary…
  • reasons for rejecting absolute space and time:
    • everything we observe concerns only the relative position position of bodies and events… Russell believes this argument has no force… he argues there is no logical reason that we can’t infer things to exist that are not directly evident… he further argues that the science of physics collapses if we are not able to infer…
    • points and instants are not a required hypothesis and Occam’s razor requires we dispense with them (Russell believes this argument is false as far as Newtonian mechanics is concerned, but not for Relativity)

  1. i am reminded of my idea that thinking of the world is flat was an accurate assessment of the situation if the extent of your travels was less than 25 miles from “home” during an entire lifetime… as we travel greater distances, weather physically or virtually, we encounter facts, such as roundness of the planet, that have to be accounted for… similarly, as our capacity to measure refines, our theories about how the world is made have to refine too [return]
  2. Bertrand Russel, The Analysis of Matter, p 13 [return]
  3. i am wondering if he is foreshadowing the difficulty of finding a starting place for consciousness and the idea that consciousness must be a fundamental quality… [return]

First Thoughts

… 24 hours without having to run the AC, OMG, feels so good…

HCR Meter pointing downward… about the need for voting rights legislation… about the need to overcome resistance to eliminating the filibuster… about the idea(fact) that there will almost certainly be a radically conservative president in 2024 if it is not… i find it hard to believe that Democrats will allow themselves to be forever out of power, or that the consequences are really that dire… but here we are… at present they are poised to fritter away an opportunity to keep the U.S. for the people…

… day two since dad passing… feeling OK… looking forward to seeing Mom, brother and sister on Monday… not looking forward to traveling… not looking forward to being in Florida where the virus is raging…

… H comes home today… we will have about 20 hours together before i have to climb on a plane and fly to Florida… be gone for almost 2 weeks… return on the 10th… a week later we get to go to Block Island, enjoy my niece’s wedding celebration and then relax and reflect on the challenging couple of months we have had…

Bruce Haley, Home Fires. Vol.I: The Past

reviewed by Jonathan Blaustein… based on the review, i would buy the book if i had much disposable cash… it’s about ecological disaster… maybe i need something more uplifting…

Basho and His Interpreters, Selected Hokku with Commentary, Makoto Ueda

… a book i ordered a couple of weeks ago… i have decided to set The Analysis of Matter aside given that i will be traveling and won’t be able to concentrate as effectively as i would otherwise… i will read this book instead as i think it will be more digestible in short spurts… also, the spiritual dimensions of haiku may be helpful at this moment…

… the haiku as a stand alone poetic form grew out of renga, a form of linked verse composed by a group of poets gathered… the guest of honor initiates the sequence and each poet takes a turn composing subsequent phrases in the sequence… renga have been known to get as long as ten thousand verses but more usually were one hundred or less…

… i find myself a bit tired for concentration even on haiku…

First Thoughts

… in bed at 9:30, up at 3:00 AM… at least i slept through…

… the day after dad’s passing… the melancholy is subsiding… lots of thoughts about seeing Mom and my brother and sister… wondering if the expected improvement in family dynamics will materialize… worried about my sister annoying me, which she has the capacity to do… i will find out come Monday…

… Fiona being very fussy about her food… only way to get her to eat much is to sprinkle it with freeze dried organ dust… she seems not to like the kibble and it hasn’t helped much to home make wet food… she might need more exercise to pique her appetite…

… the heat has finally broken… i may actually get the stairs in place if not completely finished…

… a major hurricane heading straight for Louisiana… will hit tomorrow the x year anniversary of Katrina…

HCR meter mixed… about the contest of individualism and collectivism in the U.S… not at all clear which will come out on top…

… a day or two ago, i read an interesting article on slime mold… i appear not to have published it… now i have… the idea that the view of races as being inferior/superior is a social construct and that it has been constructed in service of white supremacy… the idea that humanity sits on top of an intelligence pyramid has also been constructed in service of white supremacy… it makes sense to me…

Various Articles

… i read a bit of the news, since i haven’t been watching any… mostly about Afghanistan, a fiasco that couldn’t be avoided, a fiasco that could have been handled better…

… onto a really interesting article about slime mold in which i encounter this paragraph:

Throughout their lives, myxomycetes only ever exist as a single cell, inside which the cytoplasm always flows—out to its extremities, back to the center. When it encounters something it likes, such as oatmeal, the cytoplasm pulsates more quickly. If it finds something it dislikes, like salt, quinine, bright light, cold, or caffeine, it pulsates more slowly and moves its cytoplasm away (though it can choose to overcome these preferences if it means survival). In one remarkable study published in Science, Japanese researchers created a model of the Tokyo metropolitan area using oat flakes to represent population centers, and found that Physarum polycephalum configured itself into a near replica of the famously intuitive Tokyo rail system. In another experiment, scientists blasted a specimen with cold air at regular intervals, and found that it learned to expect the blast, and would retract in anticipation. It can solve mazes in pursuit of a single oat flake, and later, can recall the path it took to reach it. More remarkable still, a slime mold can grow indefinitely in its plasmodial stage. As long as it has an adequate food supply and is comfortable in its environment, it doesn’t age and it doesn’t die.1

… and this…

Taxonomy has evolved in the centuries since Haeckel and Linnaeus, but much of their thinking still remains. Even if science no longer views humans as divided into different and unequal species, we continue to refer to “race” as if it were a natural, biological category rather than a social one created in service of white supremacy. The myth that humans are superior to all other species—that we are complex and intelligent in a way that matters, while the intelligence and complexity of other species does not—also exists in service to white supremacy, conferring on far too many people an imagined right of total dominion over one another and the natural world.2

First Thoughts

… i went to bed angry last night… as i noted the anger i was feeling it wasn’t clear to me what i was angry about… i told myself i was angry at H for not being able to get back immediately so i could get to Florida sooner… i told myself i was angry with my father for arranging the timing of his death to cause maximum havoc in my life… i told myself i was angry with my sister for her smug, best daughter ever was of handling the end of a life that i know caused her considerable pain… i told myself i was angry with the weather for being brutally hot at precisely the wrong moment to allow me to finish rebuilding the back stairs… i told myself that i was angry with my skin, that because i have to be so protective of it i have to wear long sleeved sun protective shirts, neck gators, a hat, to protect myself, which means the heat is even more brutal to me… i told myself that i was angry with my left foot because it chose this moment to develop significant pain which limited my limited ability to get anything done… i am angry that i have to fly down to Florida rather than drive as i had planned… in the end, nothing is anybody’s fault, it’s just me being irritated that i have little control over the flow of events which seemed presently configured to thwart me at every turn…

… news yesterday that hospice nursing felt Dad had at best two days… he will almost certainly pass before i get there and may have been passed for a day or two before i can get there… as i have written before, i have no burning desire to be there… the man didn’t like me and the feeling was mutual… i am, if anything, looking forward to family gatherings without his angry presence… to a family that can relax a little because it doesn’t have to fear angry outbursts, walk on eggshells around him all the time… i am looking forward to being free of that…

… the HCR meter down pointing significantly today… Afghan terror attack killing U.S. military and civilians… conservatives behaving shamelessly… COVID ripping through Florida where i have to fly in a few days… i had planned to avoid people on my trip to Florida… i have been forced into a situation where i can’t… another thing to be angry about… if you step back and take in the big picture, it looks a lot like the failure of a state…

First Thoughts

… news that dad has taken a turn for the worse… it sounds like he won’t last through the weekend… H has arranged herself to get back on Sunday… not sure what my plans are other than as already established… i have no great need to be there when he passes… my sister is there now, so mom has somebody to be with her through it… it’s possible i will fly down, but only if there is some kind of service or memorial happening that requires my presence earlier than already planned… i believe my sister said he is to be cremated… if that is the case, there won’t be any urgency to whatever services may be planned… so mostly i am on track to arrive Monday, September 6…

… i am a little melancholy… i am pretty sure it’s not because i will miss my father… i don’t think i will… melancholy attends what comes to an end for a variety of reasons… all endings are deaths of a kind, so there is a general melancholy attached to that… deaths in particular carry the melancholy of knowing one day it will be you… probably there is melancholy in the feeling that i had a biological father who couldn’t find his way to anything but anger towards me, so for the last two to three decades, i didn’t really have a father…

… i look forward to time with my mother and, hopefully, a few occasions where we all gather as a family without his complicating and generally negative presence… he has been a kind of Death Star as far as i am concerned…

… the HCR meter today points slightly positive… news that congressional inquiry into the final months of 45’s administration is casting a broad net… news that the evacuation from Afghanistan continues with tens of thousands of evacuees flown out every day… news that the situation is deteriorating, turmoil ahead… news that the Harlem Hell Fighters from WW I have finally been awarded congressional medals of honor for their courageous fighting during the war…

Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Matter

… as indicated yesterday, having finished the first chapter in the book, i am using what time i have through Saturday to review and/or deepen my understanding of concepts and definitions…

… i just finished a wikipedia entry discussing the philosophical definition of a “proposition”… i learn that in logic and linguistics, a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence… and that in philosophy, meaning is a non-linguistic entity shared by all sentences with the same meaning…why do we need logic?

… i move on to a definition and discussion of propositional calculus in Wikipedia, which has me jumping to a definition of first-order logic, or logic that uses quantified variables rather than non-logical objects and sentences that contain variables… there exists x such that x is Socrates and x is a man1

… higher-order logic and second-order logic encountered while reading about first-order logic, so i get interested in logic in general, which is defined as: an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning.2

Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Matter

… i am thinking my plan for reading and understanding the book should be to read and understand as thoroughly as possible one chapter per week… i have completed the reading of chapter 1, i will start the next chapter this Sunday… i will re-read and follow up on threads and individuals introduced as seems compelling to do in the interim… there are 38 chapters, so it will take almost a year, but in the process, i hope to learn a lot… this also makes time for other reading and pursuits…

Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Matter, Chapter 1, The Nature of the Problem

… Russell describes and illustrates the idea that:

The logical analysis of a deductive system is not such a definite and limited undertaking as it appears at first sight. This is due to the circumstances just mentioned—namely, that what we took at first as primitive entities may be replaced by complicated logical structures. As this circumstance has an important bearing on the philosophy of physics, it will be worthwhile to illustrate its effect by examples from other fields.1

… that a philosophy of physics would depend on a mathematical system of logic is intriguing to me… one reasons their way to an understanding of the nature of physical structures through a series of logical operations…

… the process of connecting arithmetic to logic, that is, of replacing constants in a progression with variables that represent the terms of the progression, is held to be similar in some ways, but different in others, to the process of connecting physics with perception…

… interpretation is held to be the determination of a set of objects to substitute for hypothetical undefined objects which is much more important than any of the other sets of objects that might be available… Russell claims this process is essential in discovering the philosophical import of physics.2

… he continues to illustrate with the case of geometry which may be interpreted through a set of real number coordinates, but that the important interpretation is that Geometry is part of applied mathematics and consequently, part of physics. Said another way, geometry can be directly applied to the description of the disposition of objects in space time (?)…

… the vital problem:

the application of Physics to the empirical world. … although physics can be pursued as pure mathematics, it is not as pure mathematics that physics is important.3

… the laws of physics are held to be true if they correspond with empirical evidence… that is, the laws of physics are tied to perception of one kind or another… the world of physics must be, in some sense, continuous with the world of our perceptions, since it is the latter which supplies the evidence for the laws of physics.4

… the modern problem of physics is that the world of physics is very different from the world of perception and it becomes difficult to accept the evidence acquired through perception as supportive of its laws… the accuracy of perception itself gives cause for concern about a system built upon its supply of evidence… Descarte and Berkley are mentioned as illuminating and making explicit this problem… Whitehead is mentioned as leading the way in a new interpretation of physics which brings matter into closer communion with perception…

The evidence for the truth of physics is that perceptions occur as the laws of physics would lead us to expect—e.g. we see an eclipse when the astronomers say there will be an eclipse. But physics itself never says anything about perceptions; it does not say that we shall see an eclipse, but says something about the sun and the moon. The passage from what physics asserts to the expected perception is left vague and casual; it has none of the mathematical precision belonging to physics itself. We must therefore find an interpretation of physics which gives a due place to perception; if not, we have no right to appeal to the empirical evidence.5

… this already appears to establish the direction that perception (consciousness) is a fundamental quality of the universe… or, at the very least, that the physical universe is intimately entwined with perception…

I believe that matter is less material, and mind less mental, than is commonly supposed…6

… and ultimately, that the two are not distinctly separate entities…

… it is noted that Hume questions the validity of scientific method but that his questions will not be addressed in the book, and scientific method properly pursued will be accepted as valid…

… the grounds for the truth of physics is addressed from the point of view of the solipsist (nothing can be held to exist beyond the self) and the non-solipsist who, none the less, believes that all that is real is mental… the latter point of view is favored over the former for the breadth of sense in which physics can be held to be true.

Given physics as a deductive system, derived from certain hypotheses as to undefined terms, do there exist particulars, or logical structures composed of particulars, which satisfy these hypotheses? If the answer is in the affirmative, then physics is completely true.7

… Russell proposes to bring physics and psychology (perception) together… the demonstration that mind matter separation metaphysically indefensible is a significant purpose of the book…

… end of chapter 1…


  1. Russell, The Analysis of Matter, p 4 [return]
  2. Ibid, p 5 [return]
  3. Ibid, p 6 [return]
  4. Ibid, p 6 [return]
  5. Ibid, p 7 [return]
  6. Ibid, p 7 [return]
  7. Ibid, p 8-9 [return]

First Thoughts

HCR meeter pointing slightly up…

  • full FDA approval of Pfizer COVID19 vaccine… the stock market rallied in anticipation of more shots in arms as the vaccine hesitant come forward to get them and as local and federal governments and corporations begin to mandate vaccination…
  • Florida rates of COVID19 are accelerating, hospitalizations and deaths have surpassed previous highest levels, Governor DeSantis doubles down on executive orders that there be no mask and vaccine mandates… large school districts ignoring him… i travel to Florida in a little less than two weeks…
  • evacuation of Americans and Afghans proceeding smoothly and unmolested… Pentagon says they can be finished by end of month, president suggests he might extend to Sep 11 if necessary, Taliban suggests they might not be tolerant of that…

… diner with friends last night… managed to avoid having too much wine… delicious dinner of African mint sausage and grapes, with a side of puréed celery root… celery root was especially delicious… felt the sausage was a little overcooked, dried out… company was great…

… Chas began whining at 3 AM… just my luck on a morning i want to sleep in a little…

… today begins back stair reconstruction… going to be hot next few days, but no rain predicted… demolition of existing stairs today… take stock of existing conditions and make final decisions of how to proceed… hopefully i have the right materials in place… if not, i will have to get untreated lumber as i won’t have time to let it dry out at all…

… as i get more organized about my reading, i wonder about organizing it to the point that i might start writing organized and thoroughly edited posts on the rabbit holes i am exploring… that is something that i have never mustered the determination to do… could i even get to the place where i publish a book?…

… do i need to or could carefully considered and edited posts suffice?… i think i am more likely to head in that direction…

… my copy of Bertrand Russell’s Analysis of Matter has arrived… i sloughed my way through it before and during the pandemic… i am contemplating reading it again with extensive note taking…

Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Matter, Frege’s Theorem

… i have begun re-reading The Analysis of Matter… my reason for reading it in the first place, and attempting to read it again now, is that it contains what many consider to be an argument supportive of the idea that there is some basic quality known as consciousness that is a fundamental constituent of the universe… that all matter exhibits awareness, down to the smallest fractions of that matter… that is, it is a text that can be viewed as supportive of panpsychism…

… as i have mentioned, i started reading this before the pandemic and got close to the end during the pandemic, though, during the pandemic, i don’t think i had sufficient patience and concentration to take it in fully… it’s a philosophical treatment of the subject of matter, which, at the level of Bertrand Russell, is challenging to read… arguments and examples are developed mathematically throughout the book, which makes it a further challenge as i have very little knowledge of the mathematics involved…

… similar to what Robert Haas says he has done with translating Japanese haiku, which is learn just enough Japanese and Chinese to be able to translate, i will do my best to familiarize myself with mathematical (and other) concepts i am not familiar with, trying to drive down to some kind of knowledge of base concepts on which the work is constructed…

… towards that end, my first inquiry (rabbit hole) is into Frege’s Theorem and Foundations for Arithmetic, which i know nothing about… i immediately encounter the phrase “second-order predicate calculus” which i also need to look up… Wikipedia describes second-order logic as “_ an extension of first-order logic, which itself is an extension of propositional logic1. Second-order logic is in turn extended by higher-order logic and type theory._2

… what is propositional logic?… more commonly(?) known as Propositional calculus, it is a branch of logic… logic is defined in wikipedia as:  Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning. Informal logic seeks to characterize valid arguments informally, for instance by listing varieties of fallacies. Formal logic represents statements and argument forms using formal languages such as first order logic. Within formal logic, mathematical logic studies the mathematical characteristics of formal languages, while philosophical logic applies them to philosophical problems such as the nature of meaning, knowledge, and existence. Systems of formal logic are also applied in other fields including linguistics, cognitive science, and computer science.3

… the article on logic points back to Gottlob Frege as one of the progenitors of modern formal logic…

… so, back to Frege’s theorem…

… Frege developed a second-order predicate calculus which he used _to define interesting mathematical concepts and to state and prove mathematically interesting propositions._… in doing so he included as an axiom Basic Law V from which he derived fundamental axioms and theorem of number theory… he believed it to be a logical proposition which, as it turned out, it was not… the resulting system was flawed as well, failing to be consistent as it was subject to Russell’s Paradox.4

… so, about Russell’s Paradox…

  • _ Russell’s paradox is the most famous of the logical or set-theoretical paradoxes. Also known as the Russell-Zermelo paradox, the paradox arises within naïve set theory by considering the set of all sets that are not members of themselves. Such a set appears to be a member of itself if and only if it is not a member of itself. Hence the paradox.
  • Some sets, such as the set of all teacups, are not members of themselves. Other sets, such as the set of all non-teacups, are members of themselves. Call the set of all sets that are not members of themselves “R.” If R is a member of itself, then by definition it must not be a member of itself. Similarly, if R is not a member of itself, then by definition it must be a member of itself.5

… the good news for Frege’s legacy is that buried in the invalid propositions and arguments of his Grundgesetze, is all the essential steps of a valid proof (in second-order logic) of the fundamental propositions of arithmetic from a single consistent principle.6

… known as Hume’s Principle, it asserts that for any concepts F and G, the number of F-things is equal to the number (of) G-things if and only if there is a one-to-one correspondence between the F-things and the G-things7

… the derivation of fundamental propositions of arithmetic from Hume’s Principle do not depend on Basic Law V, allowing Hume’s Principle to be used as an axiom. At this point, his accomplishment can be appreciated: his work shows us how to prove, as theorems, the Dedekind/Peano axioms for number theory from Hume’s Principle in second-order logic. This achievement, which involves some remarkably subtle chains of definitions and logical reasoning, has become known as Frege’s Theorem.


  1. Propositional Logic is (more commonly?) known as Propositional calculus, described by Wikipedia as a “branch of logic.” AKA, statement logic, sentential calculus, sentential logic, zeroth-order logic. [return]
  2. Second-order logic, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-order_logic [return]
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logic [return]
  4. Frege’s Theorem and Foundations for Arithmetic. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/frege-theorem/ [return]
  5. Russell’s Paradox, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/russell-paradox/ [return]
  6. Frege’s Theorem and Foundations for Arithmetic, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/frege-theorem/ [return]
  7. Ibid [return]

Annaka Harris, Conscious, Chapter 8, Consciousness and Time

… the last chapter in the book…

… in which the nature of time is discussed in relation to consciousness, briefly… the confusing idea that the universe requires a perceiver to make choices on how to manifest to that perception… the idea that measuring could cause a ripple millions of years back in time to a moment of choosing between one manifestation and another…

… this chapter seemed a little tacked on, a way to make a landing that did not quite stick…

… i am finished with the book, but have identified much more that i need to read…

Annaka Harris, Conscious, Chapter 7, Beyond Panpsychism

… Annaka Harris on separating consciousness from complex thought:

… it’s important to distinguish between consciousness and complex thought when considering the modern panpsychic views. Postulating that consciousness is fundamental isn’t the same as suggesting that complex ideas or thoughts are fundamental and magically result in a material realization of those ideas.1

… Harris goes on to outline the “hard problem” of panpsychism, which is how does complex consciousness, with memory and predictive capabilities, arise from lots of little consciousnesses?… to me, this is the least hard problem if we allow that individual wholes can add up to wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts, which is exactly what the human body is as an organism… a sum of parts equaling a greater whole… again, refer to the thinking of Wilber and de Chardin… in particular, Wilber’s discussion of holon theory, Wikipedia”)…

… Harris summarizing David Chalmers:

But perhaps it’s wrong to talk about a subject of consciousness, and it’s more accurate to instead talk about the content available to conscious experience at any given location in space-time, determined by the matter present there—umwelts applied not just to organisms, but to all matter, in every configuration and at every point in space-time.2

… one of the points Harris struggles with that i think is a big value of Panpsychism is the implication that a ubiquitous property of consciousness would mean that everything is interconnected… our ability to experience pleasure and pain could quite easily be the nervous system of the greater whole… that is, pleasure and pain is not an experience had by complex minds in isolation of a greater whole… we are the pleasures and pains of the cosmos… all the interactions of matter and energy in the cosmos are a foundation of our pleasure and pain… Native American and other primitive cultures understood this… among the most damaging propositions on the planet is the idea that we stand apart from this whole and can do whatever we want with it… it seems that Harris has a hard time letting go of the need to treat being conscious and undertaking complex thought as independent things… again, the idea of holons…


  1. Annaka Harris, Conscious, p 90 [return]
  2. Ibid, p 92 [return]

Annaka Harris, Conscious, Chapter 6, Is Consciousness Everywhere?

… the introduction to panpsychism…

… a review of the reason(s) why we might need a consciousness is in everything view of the cosmos, the hard problem of consciousness… where do you draw the line between what is conscious and what isn’t?… how do you pin down the conditions for its emergence?… you don’t have to do either of these things if you accept consciousness as somehow fundamental to the nature of the cosmos…

… Ms. Harris explains that most scientists, including neuroscientists, don’t accept panpsychism, believing consciousness to be an emergent quality of complex systems… they fail to solve the hard problem and possibly fail to overcome a human then mammal centric view of consciousness…

… i find it easy to accept panpsychism… experience is noticing, in some way, surroundings… all matter experiences its proximity to other matter… consciousness is simply being aware…

… the arguments against consciousness as a byproduct of evolution seem a little confused, groping around… the emergence of memory and the ability to anticipate and plan is what i think most evolutionists are talking about when they talk about the evolution of consciousness… a gradual awakening of experience into the ability to remember and predict, remember and teach… i am not sure this is the same as consciousness though i am also not sure it can be separated from consciousness…

… i remember reading that genes cary “memory” of predatory threats which cause an animal to respond even if they have never experienced the predator before… this DNA memory takes up to 10K years to dissipate once the predator is no longer in the environment…

… Harris confesses that she does not full on embrace panpsychism but also believes it deserves a place at the conversation table… she outlines the difficulty that humans have in conceiving of consciousness as something more simple and rudimentary than the complex thought processes they are capable of… it is a human-centric bias…

… perhaps we need a scale of awareness from subatomic particles to human brains and beyond (we haven’t gotten at all to the idea that individual higher level consciousnesses may add up collectively to something more complex and powerful still)… maybe that will be in a coming chapter…

… i keep thinking about Ken Wilber’s book, Sex, Ecology and Spirituality… i think also of Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man… both point to levels of complexity that will be composed of the individual units of thought gathered together in interconnected activity… a new level of consciousness and exchange… de Chardin, by the way, is buried a few miles from where i sit making these notes…

First Thoughts

… the rain from Hurricane Henri settled in to steady and moderate to heavy over night… as i write, the splashing of water on concrete and the T.V. static noise of a steady rainfall… today it will rain most of the day… tomorrow through Thursday will be sunny and hot… i will reconstruct the back stairs in that time…

… today i will try to finish installing the dining room paneling, or move if forward enough that it will be but a few hours work to finish next weekend…

… H will be returning next weekend… her mother is getting to be self sufficient and starting to be annoyed with dependance on her daughter and expressing it in ways lacking in gratitude according to H… it’s funny how people express irritation in sideways fashion… failing to recognize what they are irritated by and to address it directly…

… the HCR meter is neutral today… a discussion of Afghanistan, the history of engagement, the withdrawal, the aftermath…

… was exhausted yesterday… a general malaise that i couldn’t shake… the relentless humidity?, six hours of sleep a night?, both?… got the laundry done, but little else… spent most of the day on the couch binge watching Bosch… second season better than the first, but still not the most engaging crime binge i have been on… i can’t quite latch onto any of the characters…

Omelette Diaries

… a friend gave me an article about making a classic French omelette… it matched the procedure i have worked out over the past ten months to get consistent results which made me feel good…

… the one thing the author did differently was use a lid on the pan for a minute after it had been removed from the heat… this helps set the eggs on the top…

… i tried this in the omelette pictured above… results were good, though one minute, in my case, was a little too long… the eggs set too much and the interior creaminess was not as desired… i will try 30 seconds next time… i have found that interior creaminess is important to both a luxurious texture and to egg flavor intensity…

… it’s incredible to me that a dish made from such a simple set of ingredients and procedures is so nuanced and difficult to master… i will be coming up on one year of making omelettes almost every day at the end of October and i am pretty good at it, but not every day perfect… at this point, it is all about refinement… how long and high to preheat the pan, (3 min, 15 seconds on medium flame)… how long to stir and shake the omelette in the pan before letting it settle into a raft… how long to keep the heat on… how long to let it sit with the heat off to encourage consolidation of the liquid top into a creamy top… how to roll it up and get it out of the pan…

… all these questions have answers that are in the tens of seconds to a minute in a cooking process that takes a minute or two once the eggs hit the pan… the basic ingredients and procedures are simple… the development of nuanced judgement takes practice… and when you move to a different stove or pan, they have to be worked out all over again… the working out in that case is two or three omelettes to get it broadly right… then a few more to zero in on perfection…

Annaka Harris, Conscious, Chapter 5, Who Are We?

… writing about where the sense of self is located (something called the default mode network) and how the disillusion of self when taking mind altering drugs indicates that the sense of self and consciousness are not one in the same1

… a passage recounting the experience of death of a loved one from heart disease causes me to pause… it is what is happening to my father… it tells me what to expect… in this case, it is hard to say that i love him or he loves me… we’ve been at odds for so long… we are both angry… it is, i believe, mom that holds us together… barely…

… Ms. Harris reviews some of the scientific studies that have broken down the notion that there is free will and that there is something definitive that constitutes the “I” experience we all have… in particular the split brain studies of Gazzaniga and Sperry at Caltech… i have read the book Who’s In Charge, written by Gazzaniga in which he describes that research and what it implies about self and conscious being… she concludes with the idea of multiple hubs (a network?) of consciousness as well as the interpenetrating consciousness of beings in close proximity to one another… this sets the stage for a discussion of panpsychism…


  1. Annaka Harris, Conscious, pp 48-9 [return]

Annaka Harris, Conscious, Chapter 4, Along for the Ride

… writes about parasitic infections as an indication that consciousness and behavior are impacted in many different ways we might consider foreign, or outside the system1… she talks specifically about Toxoplasma, a parasite that infects cats and other mammals but can only reproduce in cats… it is able to alter the brain chemistry of rats so that they will run towards, rather than away from cats… 2

… interestingly, humans can be infected and the incidence of schizophrenia is two to three times higher in individuals testing positive for Toxoplasma antibodies… she goes on to quote Natalie Angier:

When Jaroslav Flegr of Charles University in Prague administered personality tests to two groups of people, one showing immunological signs of prior Toxoplasma infection and the other not, infected men scored comparatively higher than uninfected men in traits like suspicion of authority and a propensity to break rules, while infected women ranked relatively higher than noninfected women in measures of warmth, self-assurance and chattiness.3

… two things leap out at me… that men move towards suspicion and rules breaking while women move towards warmth and chattiness, supported by increased self assurance seems to confirm male/female behavior stereotypes?… and i wonder if the white male patriarchy problem is a cat problem?…

… and now Harris returns to the Descartes “I think, therefore I am” position, except, for her it is “I think about consciousness, therefore I am conscious”4… it is hard to see it as an improvement on the original, which has been called into question by subsequent philosophers… on the other hand, i don’t think many argue that we don’t have conscious experience, just that the role of that experience is not as central to our being as we like to believe…

… after digressing on the thought of consciousness being the evidence of consciousness, she admits it’s a personal sinkhole and that we are still left with an idea of consciousness that falls well short of being the command and control entity we like to believe it is…


  1. … i wonder though, whether this isn’t evidence of too small a concept of what consciousness is and is made of… foreign (immigrant?) influences in systems have to be viewed as of the whole system… the only distinction to be made is that things would be one way without immigrant influence, another with it… [return]
  2. Annaka Harris, Conscous, pp37-38 [return]
  3. Ibid, p 39 [return]
  4. Ibid, pp 42-3 [return]

First Thoughts

… HCR meter: she took the night off…

… Hurricane Henri… wobbled a little east overnight… i think impacts on the Hudson Valley will be minimal, however, it looks like Block Island will take a direct hit… they should be without power for days, hopefully not much worse than that… hopefully H and her mother will be ok…

… i expected at least a little wind and rain when i woke up… i closed all the windows before going to bed… crickets and cicada this AM, cloudy, moon peaking through… could still happen…

… thinking about my dad… thinking about visiting him and mom… wondering if he will live until then… wondering about being with him in his last weeks… sad/bitter… i don’t think i am the child he wants to see at the end, but that’s how the dice rolled… at least i can be helpful and comforting to Mom… i imagine if he felt better he would be annoyed about having to leave with me around…

… watched more of Bosch last night… finished the first season… the plot lines are decent though genre formulaic… the sexual situations aren’t explicit enough for my taste… i like to watch… the whole damaged, rogue but genius male detective routine has been done so many ways, good and bad… Luther and Marcella strike me as having done it better… Bosch is in the tradition of crime novels from the last century… i don’t really get into any of the characters…

… a look at HudsonValleyWeather.com… HV will escape worst effects, though heavy rain possible-likely… Henri did not rapidly intensify over night, so a not so dangerous category 1… Dark Sky shows five inches of rain over next couple of days… we rarely get the amounts it predicts… should make for a pretty intense rapids at the Roundhouse…