Self-awareness

Shovels and Manure: Part 1

Posted on November 23, 2015. Filed under: Psychology, Self-awareness | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Man the tool-maker!  Many would say that is what sets humans apart from all other life on Earth.  Others would pick out their favorite traits and build passionate arguments around them, but, I am sort of hung up on the shapes and uses of one particular tool — shovels.  These two ensuing articles express my misgivings toward their uses in cultural development.

“Sir!  Reporting as instructed, Sir!”  I would have saluted, except for 2 things:  I had not yet received any training in that militaristic ritual and, anyway, my hand was otherwise occupied.  I had shoved it into my mouth and was sucking on it vigorously because it just felt good…   well, maybe also because that and kicking my heels up every now and then were the only activities in my exercise regimen.  But, at least I had shown up at the water slide as instructed, albeit with a feeling of apprehension.  I had become aware that things were starting to close in on me, and I was not accustomed to this sort of treatment.  And, I think I may have been standing on my head at some point.

Then, it really started to get serious.  My arms were being pinned close to my body and something was pushing the top of my head.  Then my eyes hurt from such brightness I had not known existed.  It was getting cold and I got a tight feeling in my chest, but, a loud slap to my butt made my lungs fill with air for the very first time.  The tightness in my chest was relieved as long as I kept inhaling and exhaling, so I thought I would keep on doing this for at least a little while until things settled down.

In retrospect, that was when everything started going downhill, right there when I took that first breath, and, as it has turned out, I was right on the money by kicking up such a big fuss right away.

Thus begins my personal lamentation on the state of this thing called EXISTENCE.  It started out okay, there within that warm, safe cocoon, bathed in the serenity of ignorance about that which awaited without.  But that confining journey down the water slide, disorientation by bright lights, being grabbed by ruffians who slapped me around as their way of saying, “Hi!  Welcome to Earth!”…   was all of that really necessary?  And, how about a little warning of that stuff ahead of time, or a quick-start pamphlet with instructions to a least find the bathroom?  Is that too much to expect?

It was a good thing my parents were there to rescue me.  They filled me in on a lot of stuff, but, the world around me kept getting smaller…   like that dinner table.  I was used to running under it standing up but, then came the day when I didn’t fit under there…   it only took a couple of head bashings for that bit of information to sink in.  Yeah, my world was getting smaller, alright, and getting more complicated as well.

To become well-rounded in this EXISTENCE thing, I was told I would need experts who would show me the tools that would let me become a contributing member of society.  Thus when I could barely tie my shoe laces, I got dropped off — ALONE — at public school.  And the resident experts opened up my brain case and started shoveling in all the raw data I would need to become a compliant citizen.  Okay…   at first maybe it was just teaspoons they used, but, let’s face it, those things are just mini shovels.

Not evident to me at the time, what with my brain being a low-density zone in terms of knowledge, my basic tool kit for survival had been tampered with by all those “expert” mentors.  In addition to stuff like “3+4=7” and “See Spot run,” they shoveled in a lot of their personal biases on such non-tool items as evolution (pro and con), religion (pro and con), government and political ideology (pro and con) and lots of other pros and cons unrelated to math and reading.  To the degree that I favored the teacher, I accepted these offerings as fact and a basis for modeling my understanding of my own existence.  But, sometime around the age of 30 years, I had an epiphany…

SHOVELS COME IN A VARIETY OF SHAPES AND SIZES…

…each designed for a particular task, not the least of which is the efficient movement of manure.

Old things that I had been told did not mesh with the new things I was painfully learning.  In fact, under the heat from the spotlight of an emerging introspection, all that stuff was beginning to develop a decidedly unpleasant odor…   unpleasant, and reminiscent of a stock yard.  And this was happening just when I thought I had this EXISTENCE thing all figured out.  Well, at least I thought my “expert” mentors had it all figured out, and, I was a lucky beneficiary of all that above-my-head figuring.

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Continued in next article Shovels and Manure:  Part 2.

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Me, Myself, and I

Posted on July 14, 2014. Filed under: Animals, Nature, Self-awareness, sociology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

LIARS* from the elite and restricted club of The Great Learned** have decreed that, if a living entity cannot recognize the reflection in a mirror as itself, it cannot be self-aware.  Such evaluations ignore that…

  • Humans are born not knowing squat about anything except screaming and kicking.
  • Human babies, like all mammals, learn by mimicking what others around them are doing.
  • Human babies finally see the grooming utility of mirrors after much coaching from older persons.  More importantly, they are taught the satisfaction of admiring the fine creature-form looking back at them.  (Oooh!  From this angle I have a Roman god-like profile.  And check those pec definitions…   uh, sorry!  Having flashbacks.)
  • Most life forms, including non-human mammals, depend on other senses than sight to describe the world and their particular placements in that world.
  • A wide variety of life forms have survived on this planet for millions upon millions of years.  Had they not been able to delineate the boundary between SELF and the surrounding environment, they would not have survived for one single day.
  • Being alive is about being SELF-ish.  Didn’t anybody read anything in that book The Selfish Gene?***

But, the Great Learned maintain that if an entity does not perceive the world as the Great Learned perceive it, then that entity must be simply a robot-like biomass bound to instinctive action and programmed reaction.  So, I repeat my question from a previous post:

  • If a blind homo smart sapiens cannot recognize its reflection from a reflective surface, is that h. smart sap. NOT self-aware?

The world in which non-humans live is fast-moving and dangerous.  Lethal even.  Quite often.  The only creatures goofy enough to kill time staring at their reflections are those who are not constantly on the lookout for predators and have the leisure time and safety to amuse themselves…   with themselves.  The ability to even see that reflection in the first place is a biggie, too.

All living entities know about Numero Uno.  The only ones in the dark on this have been converted to Numero Dos.  All others not SELF (the perceiving Numero Uno) are accorded different degrees of trust in keeping with their genetic and social distance from SELF.  These are my classifications of sentient entities:

  • self = me, myself, and I; numero uno; an entity’s awareness that it is separate from other stuff
  • near-self = siblings and other kin and relations bonded to SELF during the growing years.  Accorded the highest degree of trust
  • other-self = distant relatives and casual members of the self, near-self group.  Accepted, but regarded cautiously
  • far self = others that sort of look like me and my group, but, I don’t know them and I don’t trust them;  unrelated others of my species

Through the years, I have been out and about at all hours of the day and night.  Taking public transportation some years ago put me out on the streets around dawn and dusk when certain birds (grackles) flocked from sleep mode and, later, flocked in from their far feeding ranges.  At first, the view was just a noisy din of chatter and fluttering feathers amid a chaotic and frantic in rush of bird bodies.  Over repeated inclusions in these social interactions, a pattern began to resolve itself:

  • MORNING.  Great rushes of feathered bodies rose from the various night lodgings (trees to you hardcore city dwellers) and began chattering and swooping, then briefly settling on electric power lines.  There, you could see strings of bird-beads arrayed in varying proximity to each other.  These “beads,” bit by bit, eventually took flight and joined a selected group of passing flyers as they left the area to begin the day’s business.
  • EVENING.  This was almost an exact reversal of the morning start-up.  One by one, flocks of varying sizes returned to the same area swirling, diving, coasting a-wing as though in play.  On the power lines, a few birds began perching, typically with a large separation between them.  Early arrivals settled on a spot that was equidistant from bird-left and bird-right.  As more birds settled in, I began to see little groups separated by gaps.  Groups of birds would take off as one, join a passing group of flyers and wing off to sleeping quarters.

But there is more to this ordered disorder than meets the  eye.  After more and more flocks arrive, the beads are closer packed on the power line, with two, three and four or more parked side by side.  An arrival might fly up to one bead excitedly and the two might carry the flitting above the rest spot, then both settle down side by side.  New arrivals seem to do a fly by of all the parked beads then either move on to another area or settle in with or near previous arrivals.  But, the process is not always peaceful.  Sometimes a new arrival drops in close to a bead only to have the original arrival jump him and run him off.  Toward night fall, pretty much all the flyers have settled in — peaceably — on the power lines and are pretty much packed shoulder to shoulder with a gap in the string here and there.  Then, segments of the string take off as one and move on to the various bedrooms.  In the morning, from bedroom to assembly area, this same process is repeated with departure to foraging areas the goal.

Within this observed process, I see the SELF, NEAR-SELF awareness playing out.  The variable spacing between the beads is directly related to the relationship of one bead to another:  the shorter the distance, the closer the relationship.  This explains the ejection of an arrival by a sitting bead.  The assault says:

  • I don’t know you that well.  GET LOST!
  • I’m sorry, but that seat is taken.  GET LOST!

The swirling, chattering fly bys are a sorting out process.  I surmise that the sleeping group has a different composition than the foraging group.  In the morning, the sleeping group hits the assembly area and looks for those it prefers to hang with during the day.  In the evening, the various foraging groups meet at the assembly area and begin locating the members of their  sleeping group.  My guess is that the sleeping group is close kin to each other.  Like humans, there is a domestic life and a separate work life.

And all that chatter is excited TALKING, not just generalized, instinctive noise.

 

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*LIARS = Learned Individual Ascribing Refinement to Self

**The Great Learned = that association of self-proclaimed experts, as in “See my sheepskin from the University of Great Humans?”  (UGH for short)

***Author Richard Dawkins.  And, all I have read of the book is the title.

 

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Pop-roach Pops the Question

Posted on June 22, 2014. Filed under: Animals, Nature, Self-awareness | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Cue the cricket choir, and amp up the frog croakingromance is afoot.  Soft, sultry nights just ooze with it…   unless you are alone.  That feeling has another name — lonely despair (…sigh)!  But, enough about me.

Today’s pick-up lineWild thing, I think I love you.

Presently, we remain confined to my dark ell.  My new friend, the pop-roach, mimics my solitary routine.  Out here in the open, he moves through my awareness in cautious fashion, scurrying here, investigating there, fearful that a tiny scrap of edibles might be missed…   or that he might become a tiny scrap of edible to larger others.  It is our his lot in this existence.

Your words for the day (mostly the same as the previous post):

  •  pop = explode; suddenly increase in size
  • roach = cockroach, an insect; various sizes; worse than a fly in my soup
  • pop-roach = a cockroach with desires
  • CR = cheesy reference (I am shamelessly using big names to improve my blog visibility)

Responding to a disturbance in the force,* pop-roach suddenly became alert.  Whatever it was, it exuded an irresistible perfume…   to the pop-roach, not me.

Whoa!!!  It was a CHICK…   or…   whatever roach guys call roach gals.

Forgetting the take-out, he homed in on gal.  Like a radar-guided missile, he maneuvered his approach to intercept directly from the front.  She stopped in her tracks.  They met, nose to nose (technically, that might be antennae to antennae, but that’s not so picturesque), and “for a brief, shining moment” there was “Camelot,”**  and they stood there, strangers in the night.***  Cue the singersWild thing, I think I love you.****  It was a classic “boy meets girl” moment, until…

…pop-roach got carried away and mimicked an overheated popcorn kernel:  he EXPLODED.  I had never seen anything like that.  Barely did they get the prelims out of the way, and testosterone guy jacked up his hind legs so his body was inclined about 45 degrees while maintaining nose contact.  Popping the question, “Will you be mine tonight?  Say you will, say you will be mine tonight!”,***** he emphasized his ardor by deploying both wings and both wing covers at 90 degree angles to his body, like a frilled lizard magnifying its true size.  It was sudden, it was frightening, it looked painful.  Jacked-up butt, splayed wings and covers!  WOW!!

For her part, gal-roach put out some feelers…   uhhh, so to speak.  She felt him up (literally) and concluded, “Loo-zer!”  She broke off contact and resumed her hunt for take-out.  Or a better offer.  Whichever came first.

Pop-roach, in true guy fashion, persisted.  The scuttlebutt among the guy-roaches down in the sewer drains was that the gals really wanted to be with a guy (wink, wink), and persistence would always pay off.  Persistent he could be.

Food now far removed from his mind, he tracked (…H. smart sap. gals might say “stalked”), he intercepted, he repeated his astounding display.  “Aw, c’mon!  Be mine tonight.”

Again, she considered.  Warned by gal-roach gossip that guy-roaches have only one thing on their tiny little minds, she had two options:  Romance?  No-o-o-o-o!  Roach-a-cide?  Still considering.  After all, she had…

  • Opportunity:  he is spending a lot of uninvited time in her personal space.
  • Motive:  What part of “no” could he not understand?
  • Means:  Possibilities were (1) lure him to a roach motel and let him go in first, (2) lure him close to the foot of that killer-ape who hangs out in their neighborhood.  Downside:  both choices would put her too close to the kill zone.  So, she opted for (3), a sprint out of the area and just hope that he did not follow.

Twice rejected, he gave up and consoled his (probably) broken heart by…   scurrying here and there hunting for a bite to eat; comfort food, no doubt to soothe the aching 13 chambers of his heart.  (Sheesh!  That will take a lot of comforting.)

Two insect entities, two different genders.  Both considered to be primitive life forms, yet each of them knows what it will take to satisfy itself.  Sounds like “primitive” is up to snuff on this self-awareness thing.

Dr. Smart E. Butt can forget that mirror test.  These guys do reflected vibrations, not reflected light.

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*CR#1:  the force.  Star Wars movie term, George Lucas   |   **CR#2:  Camelot, playwright Alan J. Lerner   |   ***CR#3:  Strangers in the night, Frank Sinatra, Charles Singleton & Eddie Snyder   |   ****CR#4:  Wild Thing, The Troggs, Chip Taylor   |   *****CR#5:  Say You Will, Foreigner, Lou Gramm & Nick Jones

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Previous posts in the TALES FROM MY DARKEST ELL (An exploration into self-awareness)

  • Pop-roach does the Colonel
  • The Art of Fly Fishing
  • The Best Part of Waking Up…   is not having to actually get up

 

 

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Pop-roach does the Colonel

Posted on June 21, 2014. Filed under: Animals, Nature, Self-awareness | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

OOOPS!   Maybe that should be “kernel”…   as in “popcorn kernel.”

Today’s pick up lineAre you through with that?

The night was cool, the lighting soft.  Night sounds, though punctuated by the sound of passing cars, complemented the ambiance.  One thing could have made it better:  a romantic interest to tease enjoyment from my “all work no play” mode.

But, hey, a warm bag of popcorn at break isn’t half bad, either.

Your words for the day:

  • pop = explode; suddenly increase in size
  • roach = cockroach:  an insect; various sizes; worse than a fly in my soup
  • pop-roach = a cockroach with desires

Popcorn is aptly named.  You pop a fresh bag into the microwave, kernels pop in the bag, you pop the white fluff into your mouth, and no matter how careful you are, some of that  will pop out of your hand or out of your mouth as you crunch them.  When done with the lot, the floor around your chair looks like a scene from a snow-globe.  Yeah, the popcorn I enjoy scatters everywhere.  If I can’t make a clean transfer from bag to hand to mouth, the escapees are on their own.  I want nothing more to do with them.

We operate in the macro world.  Food crumbs on the floor or ground have crossed over, becoming inedible to humans…   at least to those over 8 years of age.  It has entered the world of the micro, where the workings of Nature proceed without the constant monitoring of macro denizens.

Contrary to the killer-ape moniker attached to my species (i.e., the great Homo smart sapiens) I did not kill any of the little critters encountered here.  Instead, I did the voyeur thing:  looked, didn’t touch.  Eh…   true, in my own home some of these guys would have warrants out for their immediate apprehension, but, here in ell, it’s live-and-let-live.  My consignment to this dark corner gave me an opportunity to view those micro works from a detached and non-involved perspective.  Those guys operating on the down-low have some interesting behavior on display…  such as the charming pop-roach.

He must have viewed my droppings as manna from heaven.  On his fast-moving, meandering path across the concrete surface, he came across my snow-field and took the time to investigate.  What luck!  He located a whole popped kernel and latched onto it without hesitation, which would be expected.  I could see the suspended kernel move as he tested it with his…   uh…   mouth parts.  Then, he did something I would expect from a mammalian carnivore, but, not from vermin that is normally content to crawl over its prize along with a hundred others like it and eat in place.  This 2-inch cockroach hauled the claimed kernel over to a crevice between the concrete surface and the bottom of the wall panel and proceeded — in relative privacy — to consume its prize…

an act of indulging a personal whim from a creature viewed as an instinct-bound member of a communal swarm.  It would seem that this pop-roach is just eaten up with self-awareness.

Yeah, I know.  It couldn’t possibly be aware of itself since, in the mirror test, it would ignore its image and just poop on the smooth surface.  Doctor Smart E. Butt — who would be irritated because he has to wipe poop off the reflector so he could admire HIS OWN image — would flunk the poop-roach’s awareness submission in a heartbeat.

But pop-roach doesn’t care about test results.  He has his huge food treasure to satisfy HIS appetite and is warming up his moves for a run at a midnight rendezvous.  Yes, our 6-legged popcorn miser is also a multi-legged Casanova.

Next up:  Wild thing, I think I love you

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Previous posts in TALES FROM MY DARKEST ELL (An exploration into self-awareness)

  • The Art of Fly Fishing
  • The Best Part of Waking Up…   is not having to actually get up
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