Saturday, July 18, 2020

My Nightmares



“How many of our daydreams would darken into nightmares if there seemed any danger of their coming true!”Logan Pearsall Smith

            This is going to be a somewhat personal blog, and for those who think I am a little strange, this blog will not help much.  I want to also state, this is not fiction or a short story.  Please understand, however, that I will offer this in the most interesting terms I can conceive.  Just because something is true, doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting.
            Last night, I woke in the middle of the night and looming over me was a very large child with a stone pale face, murky red lips, and disheveled hair.  He was smiling a menacing smile as he looked down at me.  I rose as quickly as I could, yelling “GET OUT!”  and I threw a punch at the face.  There was nothing there.  My shoulder and neck ached for a short while after and kept me up for a while.  One shouldn’t throw punches immediately upon waking for two reasons: 1. your body isn’t prepared and you can pull a muscle and 2.  The mount of force in throwing is much higher than a waking punch and can cause injuries, especially when either one makes contact with an object or when one does not. 
            As I mentioned this is not fiction.  So let me continue, as if it were a plotted story.  The monstrous visit of last night is not new or unusual.  Almost every night I am visited by monsters, or demons, or living religious icons, or dead children, or murky forms that rush at me.  When I was a little boy these visions and apparitions terrified me into screeching howls that could last hours.  At some point in my early teens the howls mixed with a really hysterical feeling of rage and I started to fight the things I saw.  The howls subsided shortly there after.   The fear, the terror, did not subside.  I want to mention it is terror and not fear.  I’ll explain more about this shortly.  I would like to also mention the events take place now fairly silently, but when I am moved to speak I say ridiculous things.  A joke with a friend of mine consists of the phrase “I’ll kill you, you son of a bitch!” as this was one of the more awkward phrases I roared at one of my monsters.    Whenever the subject of sleep or dreams comes up the phrase “I’ll kill you, you son of a bitch!” pops up and I smile like an idiot and my friend laughs.
            Some of the more awful sights have been dead children.  Always very pale and somewhat bluish, often girls, less frequently boys, but the boys almost always have red hair and glasses.  On one occasion the red haired boy appeared as a red haired man. I distinctly recall the shock of this night.  He was so clear, so vivid, I could not blink him away (which works fairly often).  He became more clear.  He crouched at the foot of my bed.  I could see the distortion of the lights from my stereo through his glasses.  I was very quiet when I attacked him. I recall it seemed very, very quiet and still, almost verging on white noise.  I reared over him and my fist was just perfect.  I was in a position of great advantage for violence. He looked up at me and my fist met nothing.  I threw several frantic panicked punches after this, and quickly ran to the light which I left on for the rest of the night.
            That was probably 27 years ago.
            The monsters have transformed in some qualities since the first group.  And some other visitors of note have stopped by to watch me sleep.  I’ll discuss two, one troubling because it is not my own experience but seems to have leaked out, and the other maybe offering some hints of randomness in these events.  The first occurred when I was 17 and lived with my parents.  I have two sisters.  My older sister had moved out, and my younger sister, who is six years younger than I am, was still in elementary school.  I woke when it was somewhat light, but not yet dawn, and at the far corner of my bedroom against the wall was an old robed man holding what looked like a lamp.  I had had these sleep visitors for long enough to be able to dismiss the less alarming as residual dreams.  Unlike many but not unknown to me, this sight was not frightening, but it felt filled with importance.  Please take note of this.  I mention these experiences with terms that point out exaggeration, which will, hopefully, make some sense by the end.
            To continue, the old man slowly faded as I woke more fully.  But I felt worried.  I had by this time heard the legend of Diogenes the Cynic searching the world for an honest man.  I had the distinct impression, if it was Diogenes he was not impressed with me.  I fell asleep again, but remember, and was thoughtful, but not very deeply moved by the whole experience.  I was driven to school that day, as was my little sister.  She crankily remarked “I had a dream I saw an old man in my room at the foot of my bed holding a light.”  I confessed the same dream, and she didn’t believe me.
            The second variety of visit, the one I hope will point out some random aspect, was in the afternoon.  I had decided to take a nap after working an early morning shift waiting tables.  When I arrived home from work I was very tired, and my thinking was cloudy, so I quickly fell asleep.  It was summer, and the sun was up late in the afternoon.  I woke up with an deep sense of urgency, and when my eyes opened I saw a giant vision of the Virgin Mary.  She was very angry, and glaring, looking at me with snarling displeasure.  I am not a Catholic.  I am not even a Christian.  I am a confirmed, steady, atheist.  I feel no old devotion or connection to the Virgin Mary, I was not raised under an umbrella of perceived Marian beneficence.  I come from several generations of agnostics, and on the whole the stories of religious figures have been traditionally given over to my family as charming, and very idiomatic, stories.  For those who know me, you will of course be aware I spend a lot of time studying religious history, and the history of myth, but I’m certain that everyone knows that my interest in these things is not based in belief, or a search for faith.  If anything I just like solving complex puzzles, and these complex puzzles involve fantastic stories, which I like as well.  So I’m sure you can imagine my surprise as I trembled beneath an angry Virgin.  In like fashion, I once saw an icon of a disembodied head.  It looked Hindu.  As a side note, years later I found a photograph of this head from a ruined Indian temple.  Whether I applied this photo to my memory is not something on which I can clearly opinionate.
            Let me give over some details about these monstrous visits that seem worth mentioning.  They occur almost every night.  They happen most frequently at night, especially in very dark rooms.  They are often oriented to doors, windows, and closets.  At times the sights are assembled from indistinct shadowy forms that are actually in the room (recently a ladder, for example).  Other times they come from nothing and are very highly detailed.  Often they are stiff and almost picture like, but very active and more horrible ones appear more often than I like.  When my artwork seems to be in a lull, the sights diminish in potency, and can be blinked away.  When the art is going to appear in a flood the sights become nearly unbearable, and I will sleep with the lights on, or even fear to sleep, and delay it as long as I can.
            I have been asked, fairly frequently, if my ideas come from my dreams.  I haven’t ever painted one of my dreams.  I recently started to paint something with the quality of one of my more horrific visions, but was asked to stop, and I think, for now that may not be a bad idea.  But this is the first time I ever thought to do this.  The connection between my artwork and these visions isn’t direct or very clear to me.  But I hope to point out some very strange things in the next portion.
            The term for what I experience is “Hypnogogic sensations” or Hypnogogic hallucinations.  Sometimes the term Hypnopompic is used to specifically name the experience when one wakes.  Usually this experience is accompanied by sleep paralysis.  Sleep paralysis is what keeps people from acting out their dreams.  I am not a sleep walker, but I do not seem to be largely inhibited by sleep paralysis.  In one of my battles with the monsters, one that lasted unusually long, I ransacked my room and threw a punch that compress my brachial nerve, and effected my medial and spiral nerves in my left arm, nearly paralyzing my arm for 8 months (very painful injury.)  Sleep paralysis would be kinda nice, I think. (On a little side note, I thought it was interesting that after 8 months of what I was despairing to think would be a permanent diminished use of my left arm, it took about two weeks for the arm to surge back into use.  Nerves are strange.)
            This odd type of hallucination is well known, and has been depicted in art.  It also receives the blame for alien abduction reports, and witch’s stealing breath, and visits by succubae in previous centuries.  I have never had any of these experiences exactly, especially aliens, which would, for some reason, seem counter intuitive to my sense of fear.  
            So there, it now seems somewhat normal, recognizable and calmly dealt with in science.  Which seems good.  But I would like to shake off a bit of the calm and restful recognition.  I would like to mention some things that place uncertain possibilities in the way of comfort the security of the light of science.  I would like to make this uncomfortable and uncertain again by mentioning some problems.  So let’s first examine my death.
            When I was 3, my family was visiting old friends, when I managed to quickly sneak into our friends purse, and steal a full bottle of stelazine.  I opened the child proof cap and ate the contents of the bottle.  By the time they discovered what had done (a pill was stuck to my clothes) I had largely digested the stelazine.  Here is a brief list of the side effects of stelazine :

“Abnormal secretion of milk, abnormal sugar in urine, abnormalities in movement and posture, agitation, allergic reactions (sometimes severe), anemia, asthma, blood disorders, blurred vision, body rigidly arched backward, breast development in males, chewing movements, constipation, constricted pupils, difficulty swallowing, dilated pupils, dizziness, drooling, drowsiness, dry mouth, ejaculation problems, exaggerated or excessive reflexes, excessive or spontaneous flow of milk, eye problems causing a state of fixed gaze, eye spasms, fatigue, fever or high fever, flu-like symptoms, fluid accumulation and swelling (including the brain), fragmented movements, headache, heart attack, high or low blood sugar, hives, impotence, inability to urinate, increase in appetite and weight, infections, insomnia, intestinal blockage, involuntary movements of tongue, face, mouth, jaw, arms, and legs, irregular blood pressure, pulse, and heartbeat, irregular or no menstrual periods, jitteriness, light-headedness (especially when standing up), liver damage, lockjaw, loss of appetite, low blood pressure, mask-like face, muscle stiffness and rigidity, nasal congestion, nausea, persistent, painful erections, pill-rolling movement, protruding tongue, puckering of mouth, puffing of cheeks, purple or red spots on the skin, rapid heartbeat, restlessness, rigid arms, feet, head, and muscles, seizures, sensitivity to light, shuffling walk, skin inflammation and peeling, skin itching, pigmentation, reddening, or rash, spasms in jaw, face, tongue, neck, hands, feet, back, and mouth, sweating, swelling of the throat, totally unresponsive state, tremors, twisted neck, weakness, yellowing of skin and whites of eyes.

Stelazine may cause tardive dyskinesia--a condition marked by involuntary muscle spasms and twitches in the face and body.”

How charming.  When they brought me to the hospital, I died.  That is a bit vague, and maybe somewhat untrue.  My heart stopped, and they had to spend an uncomfortable period of time resuscitating me.  I’m not exactly sure how we can define the boundaries and threshold of death, as I only tried it this once and I was too young to think to look for any sure signs.  In any case, I was about as near to death as one would like.  They were able to revive me.  The doctor sent me home that day, with the strangely callus comment, “We did all that can be done.  The next three days will tell, he could die at any point in the next three days.”  For the next three days I was stoned.  I would walk, leaning to one side, pause, smile with half my face, drool, and then pass out.  I recovered without any of the above side effects, but maybe two others, or one and then another born of the first.

            Shortly, thereafter I began to draw obsessively.  I have done some reading on stelazine.  For a while, I had a theory of sorts that the stelazine may have triggered something, or caused some brain functioning to exaggerate, but before I get to that, let me offer this:  my mother is an artist, and began to draw obsessively at about the age of three as well.  I have heard that art runs in families, but with little proof.  My sisters have some or no interest in art.  Other examples throughout history can back up the idea art does not run in families, and may have more to do with nurture, than nature.  In any case, it may not be the drugs and death at all.  But there may be some reason to consider the idea that maybe it was, or at least triggered some odd side effects.
            When I had been drawing some, and my drawings have always been “dark” (by popular description) I drew a monster.  I was very pleased with how well I drew the picture and asked my mom to pin it to the wall.  She did so.  When I went to sleep that night I had my first hypnogogic hallucination.  I said the picture came to life, and I was hysterical.  My parents recall this very clearly and certainly as the start of my sleep problems.  It seems that the trigger to my monsters was artificial.
             I have never really studied after this information with any great zeal.  Every so often I would check into it and see what I could find, which isn’t all that telling.  In the light of day I never worried about it.  But I stumbled onto some interesting things a few years ago.
            I was doing some research on a word, and how it relates to both the origins of art and the origins of religion.  I was reading about Siberian Shaman, as the word led to Siberia, across Asia, America and down to South America.  While I was reading about Siberian shaman and how the word appeared and changed in their idiomatic rites and myths.   I read about “possession sickness”.  Among shaman (which are somewhat specific types of healing magicians in Siberia, but known elsewhere as “ecstatics” and I’ll differentiate between the two here) there were accounts by shaman of how they became shaman.  The accounts are sometimes reversed, but the shaman described how they did not necessarily become shaman, but were chosen to be shaman.  The way they knew they were chosen is, while they slept they suffered attacks by other enemy shaman, demons, or spirits.  Sometimes it was not malevolent spirits but former shaman that attacked them, sought to tear them limb from limb.  
            This was very interesting to me as it seemed to echo my own unpleasant sleep.  What was further interesting was that sometimes, as I mentioned it was reversed.  Another way to become a shaman, a more dangerous way was to fast, deprive oneself of sleep for a week, self flagellate, cut off fingers, inflict dangerous wounds, or take excessive amounts of drugs or poison.  This was done to bring the hallucinations.  
            In some cases the rites decayed and shaman and ecstatics pretended to do these things with great theatrics, but there were contemporary accounts going back centuries, of witnesses who saw the dangerous rites, and of men who died.  In South America, the Chavin culture not only used drugs but elaborate statuary and subterranean mazes to induce monsters.  
            This leads to some strange territory, and it has not been ignored by scientists and scholars.  What can be put together is alarming. The terms are varied and not quite set.  Altered states, autistic states, “a cosmos in the brain”, inner cosmos, and other terms have come up and variously describe the same thing.  When events arise that cause dramatic effects in chemical levels in the brain (such as stresses of various sorts, or induced trances, even seizures) experience changes.  Sensations read as different than reality but with convincing durations and consistency.  This set of sensations have the ability to be “mapped” or set in a realistic, but different order (cosmos meaning ordered world.)  They can be mapped with some fair consistency, usually into a three tiered division of heaven, earth and the underworld.  These sensations of heavenly flight and subterranean darkness have neurological correspondences.  That is when areas of the brain are triggered the sensation can be reproduced.  What is strange is this other world has its own principles, laws, limitations, and is fed extending out into the “real world.” The monsters, as experience, are real.  They are not tangible fact, but have aspects that are brought out, qualities that are put together tangibly, by people afflicted with the monsters.  For some unclear reason, many people, artists and others have set about realizing this special inner cosmos, and its monsters.  They have created souvenirs, momentos, even “houses” for this other place.  It is so effective it can be contagious, other people have been and can be brought into this inner cosmos, making it not quite inner but conscious ands shared.  In other words they are nagging it into existence.  They are manifesting. 
            Part of this seems to be due to a benefit of sorts referred to as “kindling”.  Kindling is when the neurons take on new more frequent firing habits due to some new stimuli, like great stress, or other event- drugs or dying, or nearly dying.  This kindling opens new and more frequently used neural pathways.  It is the opening of doors that don’t close.  This is somewhat beneficial in ways, if you like creativity, and invention.  But in ways this is also bad.  Kindling often occurs with schizophrenia which seems to have characteristics of true ecstasy.  It seems the inner cosmos can become very real.  Or as the Greeks termed it “existanai phrenon”, driven out of one’s mind, to be beside oneself, or “moved”.  Recovering schizophrenics describe a feeling of being pushed aside and an audience while another has control of their bodies, and often internally addresses them.  They also describe, oddly, how this other reports events before they occur and will taunt the moved.  (This isn’t impossible but would take a while to get into).              Another maybe unpleasant aspect is the inner world is generally frightening, if not terrifying.  This is because it is exaggerated.  In dreams emotional exaggeration is very common, and often over trivial things.  It is also the case with stimulation of the limbic system when awake.  Certains drugs can cause this over exaggeration, as can focal point siezures.  The point to be noted here is the experience of the inner cosmos whether induced, or arbitrary is terrifying or sublime.  It is overwhelming.  This type of thing tends to lead to extremity.              For example, even though I am aware of the reasons, and reality of my hallucinations, I don’t want to fall asleep tonight.  It is too convincing.  Whether the monsters are tangible or not, they affect me, they do not seem part of an imaginary inner cosmos.  They are, whatever they are, in some sense real.  And in some way, a way that often seems involuntary, I attempt to create monuments, or reminders with them, maybe for them.  I have read accounts of others doing the same thing.  In light of how awful these things seem, there is something unwholesome about the monuments though they are exhilarating to make. I mentioned the monuments are not monuments OF them but WITH them, as if the one cooperates with the other.  I have to wonder to what end, though in the same thought I have to stabilize and think there is no end, as it is just hallucination.  The pull of the two places makes reason in some ranges hard to keep balanced.  Amplified, innate, emotion is very potent when it clashes with learned and somewhat impersonal reason.  


It might be worthwhile to note, the former term for these hallucinations, whether manufactured or natural, the inner cosmos, and the madness and creations it induced was called “art”.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Artist Block

Hello. How are you? You look great! Have you (gained/lost) weight. Well, it suits you! I’m well thanks for asking.

Let’s get to it.

So art block.  For a little over a year I have been trudging through an expansive art block. It has been, in the words of Abraham Lincoln: “About as fun as a chapped ass”.  It has very recently faded and slipped away, but it has been troubling.

Let’s go through what art block is and then some stuff to work through.

Art block isn’t one thing!  Surprise!!  I’m sure you are aware of this but just to be sure we start out with a good premise.  It can include stalled imagination, lack of ability to focus, dissonance between expectation and skill, slipping into tedious habits, distortion in proportion, forgetfulness, and difficulty.

Let me address this last first.  With any expertise comes ease.  Even something like automation.  You don’t need to think about it, it just happens.  Here is a brief video about it:
https://youtu.be/-nhRPVWM9A0

With expertise comes an expectation of ease.  You go into projects with the ease of moving your fingers or walking.  But like suffering an injury to nerves these ready actions can become shockingly difficult. This effect is called “the yips” in golf, but has other names in other sports and playing musical instruments.  Your brain, amazing as it is, is a fallible, ever shifting, thing. It builds patterns based on repetition and value. It takes time to reconfigure, rewrite, and shift. At times it can get tangled and overworked. It can even propagate misreads. Visual art (ooph, I hate these terms but it will have to do) is a highly complex set of activities and unlike golf and single musical instruments isn’t quite as dependent on one family of interactions. The yips aren’t as likely to end a career in art as they are in golf.  Fortunately, as part of the package an artist will have to reinvent physical and mental methods fairly frequently.  But that isn’t to say it is a walk in the park.

A way to deal with the aspect of difficulty is changing media, study (without practicing-just look and solve), exercise, and deliberately breaking habits.  Find a habit, break it. There won’t be immediate results.  Creating new patterns and standards in your brain takes time, so just ride the disappointment and frustration as calmly as possible and proceed.  What else can you do?

Stalled imagination: This can be related to “the yips”.  None of the aspects of block is independent of the rest.  But strangely the fix might be indirect.  Sometimes when you draw a face the nose doesn’t seem right.  So you redraw the nose about 50 times until the paper is compromised and tattered.  It finally dawns on you every nose was acceptable, it was the eyes and mouth that were the offenders. Your point of focus is off-you are fixing what isn’t broken. Your attention lands on the thing that points out the problem not the problem itself. It is misattribution based on new awareness. Stalled imagination is much like this.  The problem isn’t your imagination the problem is boredom, or a lack of new information to feed novelty and discovery.  You have retread the alleys of your best art high too much, and need new things to learn.  I don’t mean new art things to learn (though that may be a parallel part), I mean in your life.  You need to do new things, face new challenges, difficulties, joys etc.  Your imagination is dependent on your ability to be actually alive and subject to experience.  Don’t believe in the “introvert” myth.  To draw worlds you have to live in the world.
Current events take note.

Lack of ability to focus:  This one is rough and has many factors…and few fixes. So attention is an expansive issue.  Some of which is chemical, or dependent on brain function that is highly variable moment to moment. Depression can affect attention, as can caffeine, sound, driving awareness (like thinking of the action of your fingers while trying to draw, or the actions of your hands or eyes while driving), among many other things. So what do you do?  How do I know?!  I’m not your dad!  Wait…sorry, sorry, lost track of the convo…

Like that last sentence…divert attention in a completely different direction.  As it is so variable and some of it out of reach for fixing, diverting and doing something else might be in order.  If it is persistent there might be underlying physical or chemical issues to consider.  Nothing interrupts attention, memory, and continuity like an overload of stress hormones. This may include living conditions, work conditions, or disorders.
Shut off the damn news!  Seriously-it is in made to sabotage attention and continuity to create addictive “watching” habits - eyes on screens and compulsive clicking.  That’s why it is persistent cliff-hangers.  It is herding to the next click.  Read the news if you have to, but avoid attention destroying habits.

Dissonance between expectation and skill:  Drawing is a complicated process.  It incorporates many cognitive functions- subtle and overt.  Some have to do with your ability to control and measure pressure and angle.  Other parts have to do with projecting agency and “theory of mind”.  Still others have to do with how your brain understands your body in space, motion, and angle. Recognition of these experiences is itself a cognitive set.  These are at times competing cognitive functions or are uncoordinated.  Your expectation of what you can do, or your standards, can jump ahead of your mechanical knowledge.  But it will seem like you should know how to do it.  But this is a misunderstanding.  It may take a few tries to recognize the problem, but some intensive study will help.  Again, don’t expect immediate results.  It takes some time for your brain to process.

Slipping into tedious habits: Habits!  Part of art is feeding the exploration and discovery of the artist. Without intention we are mapping and projecting our senses of space incrementally into new territory.  Literally.  But we are also satisfied and fulfilled by successes.  It has been noted that addiction is a learning error. Drug addicts have been known to return to the place of their best high as if it magically holds some essence of the high and if they reproduce the ritual of their high it will come back.  This learning error is mirrored in habit.  Ritually returning to actions and sequences that had success becomes extremely tedious and stunts development.  It is a learning error.  Successful tactics become tools and can be incorporated into practice and are additive, repetitive rituals stunt, frustrate and create tedium.   Break your habits and unnecessary rituals, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, useful tools and recurring tactics are not habits.

Distortion in proportion:  At times you may find that your sense of proportion in figures, faces or composition are surprisingly distorted.  Sometimes the distortion will be consistent across images.  Overlarge hands, long or squat faces, big torso and small legs, big eyes and small nose, etc. This might be a mapping problem or how you feel vision, and, in turn, how your experience of vision will contort to match the feel.  When you recognize the distortion you can incorporate testing and adjusting this personal idiom in your regular work.  But sometimes your work will suddenly shift, become distorted and messy and you can immediately recognize it. You may note this under the scientific phrase : “My work looks like crap”.  And so it does!  But exercise can help this as can study, as can anatomy study, especially novel study.  Approach studying anatomy looking for a new angle or different approach, as you are likely fatiguing your patterns and entering habits.

Forgetfulness: Again this can have any number of causes. Sometimes the fix is a simple study session or review.  But other times it can be systemic in drawing.  The coordination and sequences you use to create the images can drop out, lose connection, and or stumble along too late. You actually have to think through what was previously automatic.  It can be surprising, disappointing and frustrating to have to manually set up what was so easy before.  Likewise, it can undermine confidence and exacerbate the issue.  It can get so bad you question if you ever knew how to draw or paint.  Again there can be real and serious causes for this.  But barring the worst case scenarios, some fixes include the strange idea of starting over.  Accept, briefly, that you have forgotten forever, or that you never knew and that things are broken.  Then proceed to go study and learn as if starting fresh. Assume: 1. It won’t take very long to learn and 2. It’s not a big deal.  With this relaxed premise in place go study.   You will quickly find you do recall, your anxieties will ease, and you will become very bored as it turns out: you actually do know all the lost stuff and nothing was forgotten.  Abstracting your abilities (like saying “aluminum” or “cinnamon”) seems like forgetfulness and is a sign of fatigue or repetition.

I hope that was helpful.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

My nightmares continued (repost)

My nightmares continued …..with UFOs and some ghosts.

     It’s been a while and I think there are more details and other ideas to explore behind my hypnopompic hallucinations.  There are new developments and I would also like to comment a bit on the paranormal.
     In the last nightmare post, I mentioned I was a skeptical agnostic, but in discussion and as I have become involved in debate I think it might be clearer to state I am an atheist.  It might be clearer still to state I am an antitheist or even a “radical atheist”. When Penn Gillette was asked what he meant when he declared he was a radical atheist he said, “Not only do I not believe in God, I don’t think you do either”.  This may seem a bit of a lurch to one side from skeptical agnostic to antitheist or radical atheist, but I think it is more of a wearing down of patience or tolerance.  Certain aspects and ideas I formerly would give a pass, have been cancelled out with a bit of scrutiny leaving agnosticism behind.   When you see someone who claims to believe in God, or even think they believe in God, showing no practice or signs of those beliefs, even acting counter to the ideas and doctrines of those beliefs, can you really say that that person believes?  I would answer no.  Not that I blame anyone for this infidelity or faithlessness the doctrines and mandates of the Gods are horrible.
     This new, more stringent stance may seem surprising in light of the fact my hypnopompic hallucinations, my personal hauntings, have taken on new dimensions.
     In 2008 I suffered a back injury, due to drawing, that became dangerous and had me crippled for about a year.  I underwent back surgery, which turned out very well.  Three days after surgery my older sister, Robyn, was diagnosed with cancer.  Robyn passed away in June, 2010.  I can’t recall if it was the 4th or 5th as my memory about Robyn is still unsteady.  It doesn’t really matter to me which day.  Those types of details don’t really stick with me but other minute details of that time seem over powerful. The day following her death I stayed at my parents place.  I went to shower and it occurred to me I could barely recall who my sister was, or whether I had had a sister named Robyn.  The next day my father also seemed to have a disconnect with reality as he told me it finally struck him that the doctors weren’t going to call and tell him everything was going to be okay.  Needless to say we were falling apart.
     My family and I had a very bad couple of years.  Before my sister passed away, when she was still undergoing chemotherapy, I was recovering from my surgery.  The year of intense pain from my injury had knocked me off balance in a number of ways.  I suffered pain delusions for several months.  These are hard to describe.  When I would sit for a time, any length of time, the idea I was about to be in pain would slowly coalesce.  I would become convinced if I moved I would be in excruciating agony.  It would take several minutes before I realized I was in a sort of trance and then recall my back was better now and it didn’t hurt to move.  Sometimes these trances or delusions would last almost an hour.  Another effect was my sense of time was warped.  When in pain I spent a good deal of time counting down.  Not sure why I did this. When I was hurt I was able to walk roughly ten paces before I’d have to drop to the floor.  During the waves of pain I would count down how long it took for the pain to become endurable to walk another ten paces.  When walking was no longer an option and the pain was like my legs and genitals were being crushed all the time I would count the seconds for no clear reason, but as if approaching some point where it would pass.  When I was recovering this counting of seconds and the sense of elongation brought about by the pain left a mark.  My sense of time is still not quite recovered.

     Aside from these oddities a personality change had occurred and this was fairly subtle at first.  My emotions were strange.  At times they were absent.  At other times the slightest thing could set me weeping.  I’ve never been an especial fan of men weeping, even when it became acceptable and encouraged among SNAGs (Sensitive New Age Guys).  Weeping seems like a natural enough thing but best held for tragedies and the like.  It seems too much like a plea (and a drug) for my taste.  But during that time, and too often now, I would weep.  I’ve heard various explanations for this involving stress, PTSD,  and even a side effect of surgery (apparently both Robin Williams and David Letterman both described this as a side effect after heart surgery, facial expression expert Paul Ekman described this after a back injury.)  Whatever the reason there it was.  At the same time depression set in, alongside, strangely, exhilaration and relief as I was regaining the strength in my legs.
     When my sister’s condition declined my emotional state could be described as a long held breath.  On Robyn’s last night many things I recall and can’t clean from my mind shocked me.   The next day, as Robyn’s permanent absence was being realized, I started to have some problems with my memory.  These problems progressed over the next week, and beyond that I have to say my memories are very poor for the next several months.  My memory was hobbling.  I would lose days and wonder where I had been.  I would forget people I have known for decades, and I started having flashbacks of the moments before my back surgery when the most painful event occurred (my nurse told me they were afraid I was going to drop dead from the pain so held me a few hours longer just to monitor and make sure I didn’t stroke.)  These were disturbing and happened a couple of times in public.
     I wanted to give this background on my physical and emotional conditions to provide a setting in which to place my changed experiences with hypnopompic hallucinations.  Following my sister’s death my hallucinations stopped for a time.  They had become sporadic when I was injured, seeming to fall to some lesser priority for my brain to manifest and then handle.  This is good as jumping around the room at that point wouldn’t have been ideal.  So for a time my sleep disturbances were minimal.
     Around September 2010, my memory was starting to stumble back to usefulness and this was about the same time my nightly visitors returned.
     A strange thing happened every night, and still happens frequently.  When the lights were out my brain immediately turned to dark and mournful things.  I would suddenly recall, and say out loud, “Oh my God Robyn is dead!”  as if it were just registering for the first time.  It was like a solution to a long considered conundrum.  When the lights were on the sensory input seemed enough to distract me until I slept, so I often slept with the lights on.  I don’t sleep well with lights on so eventually I started turning them off in the middle of the night.  Still, if you pass by my home and see the lights on you know it is a bad night for me.
     In the dark my visitors started to appear again.  But instead of rushing at me or attacking, they would stand in dark recesses, peaking out behind things, standing solemn and menacing in dark corners.  For some reason my emotional state was such that I would wake and see them and think “Oh, I’m hallucinating” and casually go back to sleep.  Sometimes I would think :  “That one looked really interesting, I’ll have to remember that.”   I seemed to be building immunity to these things, like germs, and like germs they started to become more virulent and multiply.  One night I woke and looking across my room to the darkened recesses of my closet and my master bathroom, I saw several things.  It hadn’t occurred to me before but my previous hallucinations had always been lone visions.  I would have a single attacker or visitor.  But then there were two or more.  These things were monstrous and deformed.  And as I woke more fully they didn’t disappear.  They moved and shifted and stared at me.   I got up calmly and went to investigate the more clear and disturbing of the two things (in the master bathroom) and it retreated and vanished.
     Before I go further let’s consider something, above I said “as I woke more fully they didn’t disappear.”  Don’t accept this as the idea that as my thoughts cleared and as I became more lucid the things I saw maintained themselves.  When I say “I woke more fully”, that is a rough description of an experience, not a physiological description.  My experience was that I was mostly awake.  But I was actually just as groggy and still half asleep as usual with these things.  Let me explain what I mean.  Over the last few nights I have had some rough sleep.  I go to sleep and then wake up suddenly thinking “Wow, I slept a long time!”  I’ll look at a clock and 20 minutes will have passed.  I’ll actually pause and think “Did I sleep 24 hours?”  But no, my perceptions are misleading me.  So unless my clocks and the rest of the world are conspiring to trick me into thinking I haven’t slept for 24 hours, I’m misperceiving events.  It is the same with the above description of my multiple guests.  There may have been demonic monsters lurking in my rooms but that seems less likely (far less likely) than that I was half asleep and hallucinating…especially as I was still recognizably far from awake.  I say more fully awake, but by that I mean still largely asleep just more awake than I was a few seconds before.  If monsters or anything or anyone had been in my rooms at that moment and I were awake my reactions would have been very different.
        The visitors and monsters have become more and more clear and my reactions are becoming more violent, as I am accustomed.  I’m taking this as a good sign in a certain respect.  I was so lethargic and depressed, that terrifying things were almost uninteresting, passing novelties.  But I am starting to become more lively, and interested in my well-being as I sleep.  This may not seem so good to you as you read this, but signs of life for me are a relief.
      But as I mentioned these things seem like germs in some respect and as my immunity builds the hallucinations have been escalating.  Now I have them on occasion when I am awake.  This is disturbing in many ways.  First and foremost being, I’d prefer not to go insane.  Second, I would prefer not to go partially insane.  Seeing hallucinations isn’t necessarily a sign of insanity as you may know.  It has been pointed out in a number of books and as neurology becomes more expansive and interesting, that we spend a good deal of time hallucinating.  The way we perceive is in large part hallucinations and “filling in blanks” where our sense organs are lacking.  The gap of vision in the optic nerve, stitched over and invisible (not even a scotoma) is often used as an example.  Likewise environmental factors such as electromagnetic fields and infrasound (infra sonic frequencies of 18 or 19 hertz for example ) are known to cause hallucinations and these factors are common in every home with electricity and appliances and in nature.  Add to this sometimes your brain just misreads, or hiccups without long term effects and stabilizes.  Still…sometimes when you hallucinate it means you are going insane.
     The hallucinations I experienced were like this:  I came home one day and saw several people scatter across my apartment from my living room, as if I had interrupted something.  I immediately ran to catch any and everyone.  I was ready to fight.  My heart was racing and I could feel the adrenaline rush.  But no one was there.  A shiver went down my spine.  I think this shiver was a confrontation with the unexpected and uncanny.  I had expected to find people as I had just seen them, and there was no one.  This disappearance was uncanny.  I looked all around the apartment, still somewhat convinced someone was there, and then when I was satisfied I was alone, I sheepishly noted I had hallucinated.  One hallucination doesn’t bother me.  As I mentioned above it isn’t really uncommon, and may be inevitable.  I figured it was my turn.
     A few days later I was working on a project at my computer.  It was about 2 am.  I saw a woman walk out of my bedroom.  I jumped up from my chair.  I saw her long enough for her to pass from my central vision to the periphery where she disappeared.  I say a woman, but I have to admit what I saw wasn’t clear enough to be a woman.  I had the “sense” it was a woman.  Now this sense may be impressive or disturbing to read, for me when I read about anyone having a “sense” of something my skepticism becomes highly active.  Sense generally means “vague”.  And so it was here.  I saw something vague, and my mind filled in the details suggesting (and only suggesting) it was female.  My brain did the best it could, in other words, to clear the confusion of the moment.  I remember it as a woman walking out of my bedroom, but if you were to ask me about her features or feminine qualities I would be at a loss.  It was murky.  And it was murky in a way I am very familiar with.  I once spent a year and a half creating a painting that can induce a hallucination.  It does this by causing a confusion in optical information and the way our brains make patterns (I didn’t invent the hallucination or optical illusions I just applied them to that particular painting.)  At a point in the hallucination you’re sense of what you are seeing become a vague gray or even something like a grid pattern, or clouds, until your brain settles into the hallucination.  When the grid pattern it isn’t really a geometric grid, it is a vaguery that your brain suggests seems like a grid.  It could also seem like cottage cheese in a very highly contrasted light-  Chiaroscuro cottage cheese.  In other words murky.
There have been other similar incidents.  People, or things flashing in my vision causing a moment of alarm.  My consolation in this is I almost immediately feel somewhat embarrassed and think “Great, another hallucination”.  The more they happen the less worried I become as long as I can stabilize and recognize that it is a hallucination.
     I would like to point something out here: it is important to pause.
    Recently I’ve been spending some time researching the “paranormal”.  To me this seems like a logical progression from my usual areas of study in religion and mythology, as well as human perception.  Beliefs don’t interest me much as I think belief is not the issue with ideas of the supernatural or religion.  There are other matters more elusive and tangled that seem to drive our ideas of the “other world”.  These ideas are traditional, exciting, uncanny, and often stupid.  This last descriptive may seem harsh but I hope to demonstrate how stupid is the appropriate word and also show how far we stretch and contort and frankly debase ourselves to attain little mysteries.
     It is important to pause.  I say this because of the old axiom I just made up “The first idea is the worst idea.”  When  my sleep disturbances occur they are generally frightening or disturbing and I usually react violently.  Because of this I have injured myself several times, scared and disturbed others and destroyed objects.  This is my knee jerk reaction to a situation.  And if this were an animal attack or even a real attack this type of behavior might save my life, which is why I don’t completely frown on my behavior.  But to carry this initial sense of emergency and panic forward is less acceptable.  Reason follows after instinct, by about half a second, which seems a survival tactic for days when dire emergency was more frequent (I’m writing from a fairly peaceful location, I’m certain this survival tactic is getting full exercise in other places.)  But this puts reason at a disadvantage, the force of emotion often does.  This is why it is important to pause especially when the emergency has passed.  In my terrified moments after sleep I think I have been attacked by monsters, demons, intruders etc. But this is not an idea that should be followed once reason is restored.
     When I first offered over the essay about my nightmares I heard from many people.  It was much more interesting to people than my essays on art (which may just mean my essays on art are boring).  People sent me email and asked me questions in person.  These interactions had a common theme: “I think those things are real” or “How do you know it isn’t real?”  The latter question I’ll address shortly as it is a deceptive method of approaching anything and only comes up in discussions of the supernatural.
     First, let’s look at the general theme:  Are the entities attacking me in my sleep real?  Reality in this sense I think differs from existence.  If we were to ask if these entities exist I would have to answer yes, and then point out the special circumstances involved with existence- Yes they exist as hallucinations assembled in my mind.  This means they have no material reality, and no existence outside the working of my brain.  So are they real?  No.  They have no material reality they are not material facts, they have no power or force to act on things, and no agency outside my brain.  They are imaginary.  Many of the “spiritual” may here insist material isn’t everything and press the idea these things have spiritual existence and reality.  When pressed for details of this spiritual reality or any ideas at all about what is meant by spirit the conversation disintegrates.  I have yet to hear anyone describe spirit who doesn’t refer to materialism.  For example, the spirit is something higher than flesh (or materials or bodies).  Higher is a reference to placement of material things in order from top to bottom.  It refers to bodies of some or another sort and their importance.  All the speakers are saying here is “Spirit is better than material”.  This is simply the speaker saying they feel their beliefs are superior, they aren't supplying any details or descriptions about the difference between the materials and spiritual.  Another take by the spiritual is to suggest that these entities are real spirits but that spirits are not materials and spirit is beyond human knowledge.  If it is beyond human knowledge how would they know?  They must know something about spirits as well as the boundaries of human knowledge to make such a statement.  So when they know they don’t and when they don’t know they do. This idea isn’t very convincing as it makes no sense.  But when I let this pass and ask if the visions are spirits, how is it I “see” them?  My materials are reading (or in this case misreading) them.  On occasion when I move quickly with a hypnopompic hallucination the hallucination moves with my eyes as if they are a movie projector.  My brains ability to “track” while hallucinating is imperfect.  So while I move my head or eyes, so too move the entities.  This would seem strange for an independent spiritual entity to want to follow, awkwardly, the motion of my eyes and head.
     The suggestion these things are real is troubling to me in a couple of directions.  The first is the seeming hope these things are real.  Often people are clearly excited by the idea monstrous uncanny things are attacking me.  They don't seem to be excited by the idea that the attacks are specifically aimed at me, but rather that these supernatural possibilities exist.  They are so enamored by the idea they are willing to sacrifice reason and clear thinking to maintain the fantasy.  The second troubling thing is the ideas around what is attacking me.  When I ask after what the nature of the things attacking me may be, the variety in descriptions of humbug is stunning.  I have heard these things are ghosts, demons, beings from other dimensions,  angels, people's ill will in some manifestation, witches, etc.  Sometimes the word "energy" comes up, but this term is always applied as a filler when nothing is meant.  I'll ask after energy and there is never any clear idea, but the phrase "You know energy can't be destroyed it can only take on different forms".  When I pursue still further pointing out how eating and absorbing food is an easy example of what is described by that phrase, but we don't assume many ghosts for our food, or consider that the cheeseburger we are eating still has the thoughts hopes and dreams of the cow, or the latter thoughts of the vegetables that the cow transformed into milk and we made into cheese.  How is the thought that energy changes form and isn't destroyed helpful to the notion of spirits?  I don't see any connection. I understand the confusion in a way.
     But let's say these ideas are somehow correct if confused and difficult to describe.  Let's grant every idea here.  Let's say it is all possible.  I am under attack from the spirit world.  What would this mean?  One of the biggest problems, from my perspective, is why me?  I don't mean to suggest "why must I suffer this burden?". I mean what is their interest in me?  These supernatural, sometimes famous, entities are taking time out of their presumably busy schedules to drop by and visit, often with the apparent attempt to do me harm.  Though I do have my moments of arrogance and self involvement, I'm not so self involved to think that I am the center of interest for the great powers.  I seem to be of great interest to the above listed super beings while at the same time I am of little interest to my fellow puny humans. What is so interesting about me, especially when I am at my least interesting-when I'm asleep?  When seen from this point of view it seems suspiciously like hallucinations with a sturdy dose of self interest.  In reality predators even enemies have some successes and eventually desist or succeed in destroying the focus of their attacks.  My attackers perpetually fail, are persistent, and on occasion turn into chairs, shirts on hangers, or other mundane object.  Even with this type of reasoning people want to believe it is other, sentient, beings.
I try other lines of reasoning such as, if my visitors are real, they have exactly the same attributes, evidence and effective powers as nothing.  The counter argument is that they do induce fear.  No, they don't induce fear.  Often, the fear is present as I dream before "they" arrive.  There is no THEY.  As I've pointed out, the hallucinations differ in character, form and theme.  There is no consistent attribute tying my hallucinations together except when they occur and that they seem interested in me (on occasion even this isn't the case.)  So "they" being unrelated to each other in most respects might not be looking to cause fear at all.  If we survey them in their variety and strangeness they seem like the disjointed and random stuff of dreams.  And like dreams they leave no traces, they don't communicate anything clear, and if  the things I saw were to manifest in reality in a solid and tangible way, my responses would not be so strange and exaggerated.  The they do not seem like a single family of things but, like partial fleeting thoughts, they do seem random, vague and often weird.
These "attacks" are hallucinations.  That is what they are.  If we follow what I am seeing reasonably, we can't come to any other conclusion.  All others fall apart or need endless extension.  This is where "well, how do you know they aren't real?" appears.  This is mostly a dishonest question.  When eating a sandwich it is rarely asked "how do you know it is a sandwich?".  This is because sandwiches have few supernatural hopes driving them so don't need any open ended questions to sustain the dream of supernatural attributes.  The above type of question, the how do you know...question is not actually seeking an answer.  Because if the person asking were actually interested in an honest answer they would look for the solution themselves.  That is, to honestly consider a question, upon hearing the witness accounts, you don't ask, how do you know.  You take a fairly objective stance and investigate.  How do you know?  Is a statement by the speaker saying, I choose not to accept that because I prefer a different outcome, so I will attempt to ask an unanswerable question, or an ever extensible question to allow my obviously incorrect assumptions a stay of execution.  It is a question signaling stubborn ignorance.
     Now it may be the suggestion here that I am not open minded.  And there are some clever responses invented by other people: "I'm not so open minded my brains fall out" or "it's good to be open minded but not so open minded the wind whistles through.". But I'll skip this type of response and try something a bit more to the point.  I am closed minded.  For some strange reason the metaphor of open and closed has been applied to the manner one addresses ideas and a certain amount of judgment is implied by close mindedness.  As if it is a meaness or discourtesy.  But I am closed minded, and to stay with the metaphor here is why: I don't open my mental door recklessly to any and every idea that comes knocking.  The ideas must demonstrate they have integrity and merit before they get beyond the threshold.  They can't be crazy, false or stupid. I prevent the trespass of bad ideas by questioning and examining and often waiting for further evidence before I let an idea through.  Open minded to me seems a synonym for foolish.
     By this I mean to say I am not at all open to the idea that my hallucinations are anything other than hallucinations.  I have no cause to believe they are other things than hallucinations, especially things that have no clear definitions or concepts even to the people who think they are real.  I do have many, many reasons to think they are hallucinations.  Notice I'm not saying "only hallucinations" as if diminishing the importance of hallucinations compared to say some really important thing like ...ghosts.  I hear this a lot.  "Only" is often improperly placed.  Only material, only this (meaning the material world), only human etc.  Usually the "only" is being used to describe something so profound we can't grasp it, unlike say, ghosts and demons which can be easily understood and easily dismissed.  In my case my hallucinations are important to me, and not an "only".  Only here would be used for ghosts, alien intruders, and demons.  If my nightly disturbances are these things they are completely ineffectual.  It would be another way of saying supernatural things are completely silly and impotent.  Hallucinations have widening and personally important implications.  Implications for my mental health, implications about how the brain constructs reality, implications on emotion and perception, implications for art, etc.




Friday, May 4, 2018

Devil’s Dictionary Artist’s Edition

 Art-noun \ ˈärt \
1. A term used to justify and legitimize terrible ideas.
2. A term of prestige tacked onto nonsense.
3. Something that seems mysterious used to beguile and rob the gullible.
4. An extremely ancient term used to describe extraordinary experiences.  This experience being triggered by coherent configurations and combinations that are like to the patterns of the world as gained through experience but amplified into hyperreality or time distortions. (Rare but still accurate).
5. The state of being cognitively manipulated into extra reality.
6. Nested packages of information transmitted via material configurations that in turn create a toolkit of cognitive effects.  Ex: A drawing is a configuration of contrasted curves, edges, boundaries, intersections, and values to indicate forms and patterns familiar to what the brain experiences in space.  As this hierarchy of data escalates the brain creates meaning and agency.  It clarifies pattern from noise.  The clearer the patterns the more convincing the drawing.  These patterns can be impossible as facts, but acceptable as experience.

Artist-noun art·ist \ ˈär-tist \
1. One skilled in the fine arts.  Fine arts, of course, being nonsense.  Fine arts vs practical arts isn’t a thing.
2. Everyone, in their own special way, being a wizard, saint or prophet.  But not really.
3. A do nothing, lazy, pretentious, low level con man.
4. A saint, sometimes called a “master”, whose insights and sensitivity are beyond question.
5. Someone who expresses themselves all over the place without regard or considering if that is even a good idea. (See Expression)
6. Someone who can, through careful study, experiment and practice, induce a state of art by manipulating materials or signals to create cognitive effects (see art definitions 4-6).

Critic- noun  crit·ic  \ ˈkri-tik \ syn vandal, asshole, fraud, parasite, predator
1.A self confirmed expert without expertise in the subject they address.
2.An arm chair quarterback
3.A huckster with an intent toward vandalism as a point of power.
4.One who cannot practise what they preach.
5.A failed personality cult leader.

Critique - noun  cri·tique  \ krə-ˈtēk , kri- \
Etymology: from krienin- to separate or divide. To judge or separate.
1.A popular method of gathering together in a group to pillary one another and vandalize work.
2.A method of mining for faults and errors in the work of others without the necessity of any skill or knowledge in that work.
3.An act of spite under the guise of assistance.
4.A demand to do violence to reason and  submit to the arrogance of others for fear of being proclaimed arrogant.
5.A non-sexual sadistic and masochistic relationship between parasites and predators.
6.Arrogating the position of the artist without having to do the artist’s work.
7.The evasion of putting your money where your mouth is.
8.Group assholery.

Epic- noun  ep·ic  \ ˈe-pik \ syn Pop, umph, boom!, bledow, kersplash, poit, and other Don Martin borrowings.
1.A word lacking any definition often said while using explosive hand gestures and a dramatic inflection.
Ex: “We need this logo to be epic!”, “That image needs to be more epic!  More ‘umph!’, you know?”
2.A term indicating bluffing.  Often best addressed by the phrase “shut up.”

Expression (or the theory of expression in art)- noun ex·pres·sion \ ik-ˈspre-shən \
1. A late 19th century philosophical idea of what art is from the likes of Croce and Tolstoy.  Mainly, based in the idea of magic and voodoo dolls but disguised in philosophical language.  Ex-press meaning to push out was, in summary, meant to indicate the artist was taking their inner self and putting it into outer objects. Harry Potter fans might consider a horcrux. But the “horcrux theory of art” sounds stupid.  The theory of expression was and is often linked to expressing emotions.  Emote means “move out”.  So expressing emotions is to “press out move outs”.  I am starting to prefer the horcrux theory.
2. A fossil of an idea showing how far we have come in understanding when compared with recent cognitive science.
3. A word, of unknown meaning, used to authorize something someone called “art".
4. A term used to emotionally blackmail others when an idea or claimed piece of art is questioned.  The word “personal” is often attached to endow the right to be personally insulted.  Ex: “How can you question his personal expression?  Who are you to judge?”  This idea implies a mysterious ownership.

Just -adjective \ ˈjəst \
A word used by conmen and clients to undermine everything you do and everything you are.  An attempt to minimize the extraordinary.  Making the worst cause seem the better in a single word. Smallifying what is big. Smally Bigs.

Objective -adjective  ob·jec·tive  \ əb-ˈjek-tiv , äb- \
1.Not subjective (see Subjective).
2.As perceived without distortion or interpretation…making it not a perception.  The act of perception distorts, translates, recombines, and confabulates.  If you perceive it you already broke it.
3.Quantitative, though this idea rarely comes up as it is frowned upon to think art may involve calculation, analysis, or unemotional/unromantic things.

Perspective-noun per·spec·tive \ pər-ˈspek-tiv \
1. a term used in art to note you know an art term. See also “use” as in “use of color”.
2. A way of saying you understand the point of view of another without any knowledge of that point of view.  Speaking for another in such a way as to shrug off responsibility to a generalized scapegoat. An indicator one is pretending to be the representative of a demographic one has never consulted.
3.A term used in the attempt to become the vox populi, and therefore the vox dei without first consulting populi or dei.
Ex:
"From the audience perspective, this terrible idea is justified”.
"From a player perspective this offensively stupid idea I’m espousing is legitimized.”
"From the perspective of these voiceless suckers you can’t verify, what I’m saying has authority.”

Pop - verb  \ ˈpäp \ syn Epic
1.In art, this means, “I have no idea what I’m talking about”.  Ex: “We need something epic! Something that really pops!”  “When placed side by side these really pop!”
2.A word used to suggest excitement, when nothing exciting is happening.
3.A word used to indicated someone does not know the properties and attributes of creating an experience, but can clumsily discribe their experience.
4.Describing something that draws attention, but not understanding it is many complicated things happening simultaneously.
5.A diagnostic word to discern a bullshitter.

Style-noun \ ˈstī(-ə)l \
1. A description of the limit of one’s abilities.
2. An attempt to endow authority to a lesser set.
3. Proclaiming one’s vices as virtues.
4. Carefully, and with expertise, excluding some data, while amplifying other data to compensate for the exclusion, thereby giving a coherent, but noticeably idiosyncratic experience. (Antiquated use).
5. Using a confined, economic, limit of information to great effect. (Rare).

Subjective- adjective  sub·jec·tive  \ (ˌ)səb-ˈjek-tiv \
1.A term used to minimize importance based in a philosophical misunderstanding of a dichotomy between subjective and objective, which was left aside long ago. It is often used with “just” or “only”. The quantitative and qualitative, and the thresholds between them in cognition are not considered.
2.An antique idea regarding a false dichotomy between subject and object long ago left aside in philosophy. The subject/objective dichotomy is extinct, as overlap and gradients with the ideas were quickly found. They describe proportions of measure and affect in signal interpretation.
3.Often wrongly used to mean “personal preference.” Without understanding that preference can also be built and configured and rewritten.
4.A dismissive word best used as a signal to dismiss.
5.The clumsy, distorted, way of saying “qualitative”.

World view- noun\ ˈwərl(d)-ˌvyü \
1. A tangential uninformed opinion about things of which one is unacquainted.
2. Claiming a cosmic point of view when regarding one’s navel.
3. Disregarding the intricate and impossibly complex pursuit of knowledge of the world for worship of a very small baetylus or omphalos.
4. Being provincial but sounding sophisticated.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Art class notes

We read other peoples peripersonal space even if the "costume" or outfit  or extra gear aren't there (pantomime)

Implicit drawing:  use peripersonal space in a characters posture and angles (weight signatures and strain signatures) to imply an invisible sub drawing. This relies on body schema and peripersonal space maturity.

Standing upright evolution.  2 things.
1.standing as a hierarchical position.  Looking down on a rival.  Widely present among animals. Implications of bigness (as opposed to reaching for food) and playing with depth importance.
2.  Standing difficulty, rearing up is difficult.  A physical unfolding uses great strength, energy and balance.  It creates vulnerabilities in combat for the one rearing, but also demonstrates condescension as it is sneering or dismissing the power of the bent. This can be faked and acted as if rearing involves more unfolding and strength than is really used (drag). In people flourish and gesture add to the theatricality and hidden message.  Like playing to the back row, it should be noted this is performance for several not as much one to one.  Less a matter of making big, and more a matter of the display of down looking  extravagance.  Notice this in terms of the "body language" pose of leaning back arms raised behind the head.  Conspicuous and Extravagant vulnerability while looking down.  This type of rearing is selective to audiences that can be intimidated in front if others. This pose shown to an aggressor or predator exposes vulnerable organs and wide target areas.  In humans, still, the arms back pose can be diffused by an opponent leaning in or even getting closer.  It is proximity dependent.

Inferential drawing based in cross modal perception.  Drawing what isn't seen, hidden out of frame social interactions, peripersonal space.  mix and match 

Drawing peripersonal space

Perspective is an attentional and time tool not a framed context or geometrically ordered structure.  Note Saccadic fixation in regard to perspective and time perception (note this also with accompanying audio and temp tactics).

Perspective, VR, clothing- the sense of position and extra position (height, body schema and peripersonal space).  The ability to use tools, extending body space has meaningful aspects.  The metamorphosis provided by extensions and altering bodily proportion can be communicated by angle with this result of a change to the character of the audience. Mind writing.  (Bailenson's tests with VR and height and gender in negotiation).  This old artist's trick has been used in portraiture for centuries with added color and proportion tactics to intensify.  In VR the possibility of "unwrapping" to a certain degree can further expand on this experience (good completion and the subtle movements we use to scan around depth.). That noted the inertial and rotational cues will still mismatch in VR. The vestibular system needs to be brought in to the effect for the "reality" part.  VR is a diminishment in experience, even if those things experienced are hyper-real in isolated properties.  Ritual, wherein participants traveled through hyperrealities, also had real movement and inconvenience (labor and force), proximity cues (including scent and the movement of the small bodily hairs  that assist in understanding the puffs of air in speech).  The preconscious and subtle "realities" need to set the base for an experience of reality.

Touch receptors have meaningful visual correlates (force, light touch).  Look into an anatomy of visual touch (for example raffini cells).
Same with sound ie facial expressions

Metaphor is a cross modal gap filling for inadaquate narration and targeted sense sequence.  "A blanket of snow" describes some cross understandings of categories but have as much unlike their metaphorical model as it does alike.  So priming is used even if contradictory.  Warm blanket and cold snow combined.  Layering various "warm" indicators can prime comfort and "heat" even in a winter scene.

Explain phantoms and ghosts and how implicit information can induce that type of projected agency (the ghosts of Kiki and Bouba). 

Sound/taste is complex reception but still geometric.  Color reinforced (ie fruit having a tangy smell, but ripeness a visual coloring and further depth coloring by light transmission through the skin.) 

Kiki bouba & line orientation bias (also top down light orientation bias)

Also consider food temperatures and soft textures as inference to behavior (sitting on a hard chair makes one a harder negotiator, drinking a warm drink makes one more sympathetic in punishment.) Color and weight as priming tools.

Recall case mentioned by Sacks about the woman with ticks involving imitation in extremis of people over a span of time.  He connected this with Tourettes but it sounds like an extreme mirror touch synesthesia with the mirror boundary completely eroded and recalled.  Leaving the imitative systems without a personal block.  "Trying on" in extremis.  Consider in the opposite direction in terms of anorexia as well.

Up down curvature bias (head space) in facial expression (Thatcher effect....poor ability in recognizing upside down faces and elongation of the face inversion)

Depictions of heavy attentional load can indicate narrative priority.  If a figure is reacting to several points of attention: ie lifting a heavy stone infront if him, flinching away from something on his right but his eyes straining to the left- the value of each point of attention can be weighted to help indicate sequence and narrative.

Internal agency and attention.  Feeling the bridge of the nose with the fingers agency can be switched from fingers to feel nose, or nose to feel fingers.  The "personifying" or primary piloting or primary agency can be switched in body parts, ignoring other body parts.  This agency can extend to personifying.

Anatomy- find primitive shapes.  Cubes first with largest face area and orientation. 

Art as extended agency, doubling, hyper reality, phenomenological framework.

Social vs public identity and body schema- scale variation

Brain using body as measuring tool and comparison guage of space, scale, and hierarchy

Position has grammar and drawings can involve conjugation

Narrative is a way creating a clock, but a sub time can work using narrative as camouflage (switching value in cognitive signals) 

Distance limits the available emotions to communicate with voice, posture and faces.  Playing to the back row is very limited, but those limits can also tell which are intimate or close social vs far performance or group appropriate.  Performance emotions and intimate close group emotions.

Controlling attention is power.  When people vandalize and compete with art they are commandeering attention and exercising an aggressive competitive impulse against the artist, but more often against the work it self.  They are in a performance and diversion will diminish the pursuing attention of an audience. Vandalism shows dominion. Coinneseourship is this with a controlled face.  Creating cognitive biases around preconceived notions or hijacking pattern recognition is one of the more effective ways of vandalizing quickly.  In the form of gang like joking sessions, real social rivals will offer competing jokes, destructive commentary and accusations of taboo breaking.   It is rife in studio environments, and very costly.

Kiki and bouba are also spatial (pointed breasts and round breasts "titties"vs "boobs"...thanks for noting this, Sherry, and the resemblance to the letters between kiki and titties, it also makes me think of averaging shapes and kiki/bouba variations). Three dimensional angles and curves.  Depth is sculpting attention, value and agency (or likeness to body schema) in space.  Consider variations in x,y biases and the different mode with z and depth biases.  Also consider tournament and pair bonding priority in projecting agency to figures.  

Fast/slow facial expression -these are of variable importance and use in depth....compensated by bright teeth, red gumd, whites of eyes -color variations. 

Joints and "features" act as saccade guides, fixation points for connected angles and direction. These features act as pivots to other connected objects.  Figuring an angular variation based on a fixed feature is easier. So shoulder to elbow, elbow to wrist etc (or curvature and relation of facial features) coordinate standard patterns.  They are easier to discern anchors and guides.  Adjusting their distance can help time distortion effects.

Invisible audience and proximity.  Composition set close to a figure making "playing to the back row" faces and gestures makes the viewer an actor, the audience being distant (or likely distant), and the viewer is implicated on an attentional stage.  Likewise, the viewer can be made audience (more pursuit attention as opposed to fixation) 

To study motion use rest to study rest use motion (fixation and pursuit)

Pursuit needs less consistency as attention follows and attempts prediction, not reflection.  The pattern is oncoming and in ways unpredictable, needing tracking.  Fixation needs consistency and prior convention for comparison of known patterns.  A linear action back and forth will not keep visual pursuit, varied unpredictable motion will.  
(Also consider sound/saccadic relationships)

Drawing infers invisible pressures and circumstances using figures to give value and weight.

Tracking (pursuit motion) can be a mistake for consciousness, or personal agency.  The misattribution of invention of ideas or origins can occur at times due to this pursuit cognition.  This cognitive glitch may need consideration to maintain grounding.

Blindness is the majority state of affairs.  The illusion of sight has a very small range of information, and then conscious experience (much is preconscious) is a confabulation of averaged patterns with the small amount of new data.  When given tests of vision (not moment by moment but vision as an integrated part of conscious knowledge) viewers are for the most part blind.  Beacon points of attention can be recalled with great generality.  The illusion of sight needs streaming continuity and shifting cognitive modes (saccadic and pursuit for example- or "what" and "where").  When creating a piece to be seen it must be understood the first reactions will be based in the viewers internal model of reality, not the image.  The viewers will confabulate celebrity likenesses, perceive scandalous and taboo themes and shapes etc.  It can take years, or decades to fully build enough experience to see the full work.  The audience may need some priming and preparation to see.  Their attention may need direction and hints at value. 

Peripersonal space daemon, has its own anatomy and moves anatomically.  It isn't a dead weight.  We move, emote and gesture in coordination with it.  It doesn't seem to have much bottom up effect.  It seems a top down bias.  Atop not pendulous.  As an animation exercise animate the daemon and figure in interaction (with motion offsets) then turn off daemon animation

Bdrf has a narrative correlate.  Attentional rays are reflected and angled in narrative.  Displays in groups of more than two with have an angle of performance.  It us assumed the eyes are shooting rays of attention.  The player will triangulate between audience and their subject.  Reflecting attention of the audience in their performance (specular highlight).  The "form" reflecting, the player, controls the inferred figure.  They are toying with value scale.  Consider models of light and narrative.l

We embody and imitate features in artwork when we mirror it, consider possession and imprinting.

Consider audience presumptions-interest, preference etc.  as irrelevant. By projecting we are possessed.  When people "try on" others they also lose some fidelity in the previous pattern.  The more "tried on" the more loss of fidelity.  Conmen use the tactic of likeness and ease in "try on" to subsume choice, and linear narrative.

When watching an artist the viewer will be observing actions offset from the mental imagery the artist is experience.  Though painting dark areas or shadows, the mental imagery and their forward projection will be dealing with the modeling of the light areas.

Somatosensory area one shows tongue and finger areas close.  Tongue navigating while drawing or playing basket ball..


Still regarding camouflage.  The ability to camouflage might not be entirely trickery.  The differentiation between self and others, or the relationship we have regarding "inside" and "outside" today shouldn't be a given.  The inside and outside, or inner self as opposed to external others can be tracked to some extent, and 4,000 years ago it does not seem to be what it is today.  Likewise this inside/outside relationship shows cultural differences as well as regional ones.  In other words the metaphor of inner self to outer world is in large part learned and conventional, and has undergone development and sophistication.

I mention this inside and outside relationship to camouflage because the person creating the camouflage doesn't need to be thought of as an outside director.  The camouflage may work on the maker of the camouflage as well.  When camouflage goes from environmental disguise, to personal disguise and description, and then to personal adornment, it does't need to indicate lack of participation in being "tricked".  The adorned can be as fully invested in being deceived by what they have made, and this can even induce physiological changes.  It seems in some cases, adornment, disguise, and camouflage have more to do with transforming the person adorned than the viewer.

In terms of art (and in terms of trying to root out what fiction may be), self deception and transformation should be added to the mix.  With camouflage a theory of mind (across species) is important, and influential, but when reduced in area to disguises and adornment as camouflage, the adorned are not cynically removed.  It is transformative.  They are someone or something else.  This needs not only theory of mind, but an understanding of community status and community mind. 

This is still in effect today.  Within written history accounts of skins being worn to become magical can be easily found.  Berserks (bear shirt wearers), werewolves (ritual wearers of skins and ritual cannibals), priests (Egyptian Ba priests as an easy example), boys dressed in spotted fawn skins for Dionysos, Biblical accounts (Adam, Jacob and Esau with the stolen blessing), and more recent accounts with photographs from all over the world, show widespread "adornment" in a transformative manner.  But clothes, outfits (like the Pope for example, or Generals....or dictators dressed as generals), and newest fashions also work as camouflage (Spanx...might fit into this....or this might be squeezed into Spanx).  As do hairstyles.  This change of person, into hyper real or super person is very very common.  It can be easily seen watching people perform in front of mirrors.  They attempt to transform, through disguise, postures, set facial expressions, camouflage, and displays, themselves for themselves as if the viewer in the mirror is another person.  Their perception of their being is based in the disguise, not in their habitual or general methods and stances.  The perception is not personally invented.  The person looking in the mirror did not invent the identity they are assuming.  It comes from the expectations of groups standards.  The transformation is both personal preference and group consensus.  This is why is is hard to watch oneself on video.  It shows the difference between our attempts at self deception and how we appear to others who we are also trying to deceive.

Periphersonal space as a conjectural cognitive medium.  Like a soft malleable projection, as well as a space measure.  Gives feed back for geometric interaction socially as well as with tools.  Consider in regard to epigenetic aspects such as east/west visual attention, brought about by social and environmental triggers.  The spatial interactions, and peripersonal spatial interactions are linked to social massing and individuation.  The fear of attack face and the shame face are very close except for external attention to an attacker And eyes aimed or down.  The "peripersonal" extra identity, or the ghost created in peripersonal space is attended while generally blinding from external data.  We don't seem to be singular animals ever.



The humunculus is not just a body map on the cerebral cortex.  The map includes complex motion. Duration of stimulation includes complex sequences.  When processing and cross comparison your brain is checking "doings".  It can infer forward and back in sequences.  Often used in drawing.  Drawing can composite various parts of the sequences and still be acceptable.


The idea of art as expression- my inner soul housed in an item is magic. But the body has been building a way of externalizing and conserving energy through outside processes.  So the "soul" part is missing, but bodily energy needs have been co-opted by the human body.  Tool making does not need intellect.

Nor does tool use.  The process can be tracked through pounding food-eating and chewing took hours.  We had stronger jaws and bigger teeth for the job.  Likewise fire took over energy use in digestion. so instead of having to expend massive resources in  food processing we moved these outside.

Our energy use was freed up and our brain usage and size took up the extra resources.  We have inverted gut to brain energy use as do chimpanzees.

Our jaws diminished in size due to less need for chewing, we adapted more refined food pounding and processing tools. Our jaw muscled shrank and allowed the skull to open out (there is also evidence of a birth defect in jaw size that also became valuable for expanding the brain case.

The expansion of the brain case let to deaths in mothers and infants at birth.  Premature infants became the norm but the social structure and dependency of the group shifted to accommodate the longer more fragile infancy.  This in turn opened up areas of energy use for brain development in infants and the capacity to rewire and organize.

These externalizing developments (digestion, gestation, and development of the tool making-peripersonal space- brain).  Other externalizing tools were claws and teeth (spears and spearheads).  An innovation was throwing spears. This is not just externalizing but communicating an action.  The aerodynamics of spears was being innovated by homo-erectus, as well as being hardened in fire.

Art as an external cognitive tool kit was also in fast development.  It emerged from the peripersonal space of socializing, and developments in close living and centralizing a type of communication to the face.  Theory of mind allowed for camouflaged traps.  Imitating enough attributes of a thing to trick another person or animal.  This involved breaking down parts and reconfiguring like things in resemblance.

Art using angle biases, motion angles and biases, and types of mapping emerged. As did a tool kit of colors, make up, (likely costume), instruments and imitative sound makers, and other aspects of "becoming" and imitation.  Status was taken through enhancements in costume, face paint, gear, masks, and identities externalized and taken or owned.  Likewise art is information packets and can be "souvenirs" or other external memory packets.

3d effects using color were a very early use.  Peach dots in lamp light in dark recesses of caves create a stereopic effect causing space to fall back behind the dots.

These innovations weren't discoveries.
Even into the use of writing scribes thought the writing had agency itself.  That it did something.  Not unlike the artists I worked with who thought their pencils had pictures fall out of them.

If not personified not seen?  Do we have to find likeness to ourselves in some property to see a thing?

Is peripersonal space integral to religious thinking and fiction?  Extended "felt" spaces and environments both as displays and depth misread?

Reading facial expressions with saccadic motion is more a where function that leads to what function. you're looking at where the lines of the expression are, micro expression to micro expression.  Concerning where and what memory I'm not sure there's a clear distinction.

Considering what/where and saccadic motion. The motion and pivot of the eye give a reference point to the "where" function that seems to be primary in saccadic vision.   'If these angles are such here, then they make this pattern.  But with smooth pursuit coordinating the where needs different motion, largely taken up by the moving object.  'What, when, where?"

I still draw and my tongue navigates while my hand maps.  So while processing the differences from value scale to simulate form and depth as well as mapping shape, my tongue is often incorporated as a secondary mapper.  In a sense drawing on my lip.  Is this due to the proximity of the tongue to the fingers in somatosensory area one?  If so, is this using cross modal (taste, or language) processes like the kiki/bouba effect?  When I draw I am often aware I am "bouncing" information from my somatosensory system as a map for drawing (as opposed to what I am seeing).  That is, I am feeling my way through a drawing, and in a real experiential way, inhabiting the drawing (sometimes this leaks into the work and it will resemble me-also a known effect with animators who accidentally animate a portrait of their own motion in characters).  This "inhabiting" the drawing was the main reason I drew as a child.  At that time I was trying on the heroes I was drawing or entering places.

Is the tongue involved in this spatial mapping and agency projection as a supporting and sub map?



Metaphor is reading the overlapping somatosensory, interoceptive, and other experiential data.  Calling out the inferred feels of a sight, for example, and connecting it to a near cognitive pattern.  Like a boolean intersection.

Emotion is a way of creating external limbs


Grid cells and place cells for body in space and environment as a pattern.