Tag Archives: memory

Status Impossible

I have long thought about the status bars in my life, and the appropriate relative comparisons made to video games like the Sims and Grand Theft Auto. And beyond some simple Tetris effect, as we enmesh with technology even more concretely, these descriptions become even more applicable and important.

Jesse Schell (When games invade real life) has made some excellent points about this, as well as NY Times technology blogger Nick Bilton, in his book I Live in the Future & Here’s How it Works: Why Your World, Work, and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted.

Game achievements and status completion in games can reflect what we do in our newly augmented reality; downloads of content, how much of the entertainment you have consumed, work progress, to do lists, all of it can be broken down into percentages and infographic representations. At one point, I even made little bars for my bookshelf, so that I could be reminded how many of those books I had read, and how many I still needed to crack open.

At the same time I think about my purposefully created memories in this temporary experience:

I have formed my memories by accident.
Though some I have made my own.
They stick out in a swampish sea floating like bouys against a throng
A waving flag in front of the Federal building
As I was about to sign my life away
The yellow halo of a girl’s auburn hair
knowing she could never be mine but in that moment didn’t care
The evening I lost my virginity, the look in her eyes
And not knowing the role I would be doomed to reprise
Stuck in a ditch on a field trip, mud sucking at my shoe
hoping to not get caught, my friend not knowing what to do
A tree during recess, its sun-dried leaves pockmarked and empty
the hard carcasses of bugs left as the wind grew cold and wintry
A stolen toy, an unfelt guilt, a growing phobia, unheard accusations
Maroon and brown, like wood grain,
pulpy wet and bright, popping, blaring pain, light.
Or perhaps I’ve never remembered them, but simply a broken reference link,
I’ve fooled myself into remembering that I did remember them.

and how your free-roam experience in sandbox games is sometimes enhanced most by mere urban exploration. And though the work of these video game designers today is mind-boggling, it still pales in comparison by many orders of magnitude to the level of detail still available “IRL”. Geocaching, foursquare, and yelp are all allowing us to interact in new ways with terrain, businesses and environments that may have previously been background, to see more of the NPCs that make up our cities and staff its shops and restaurants.

With the nearly endless number of businesses, buildings, and public spaces in your metropolitan area, how could you ever hope to traverse them all (of those allowable), or even provide a statistic or percentage? Subdivide your map and think about how many you might reasonably explore and learn, so that when you walk by them in the future, they may each hold a particular experience or fleeting memory of this experiment.

Could you traverse or trespass every square foot? How long would it take you to fill that bar? To get that achievement?

Because after all, it all may turn out to have been a video game experience all along…

a rare exception

“You’re walking five blocks home and you don’t have any paper, pen or pencil, your audio recorder, or phone… don’t think of anything humorous, or wry, or clever, or pithy, or witty, or wise because you won’t remember it. Hm. This train of thought is sort of interesting in an observational way. Fuck.”

Thank heaven for small victories

If there is an edge to the universe, it would still be infinite, for there must be a wall or object surrounding that, or something else to fall into. Some would argue, then, that we simply do not have a solid concept for finity.
The fact that you can remember a number even after it has passed your window, even for a moment, means that memory exists separate of your eyesight, your senses. It is minor comfort, but comfort nonetheless.

Shift Happens

So the other day I experienced yet another Reality Shift, and realized soon after that this happens with enough frequency to be a noteworthy, bloggable phenomenon warranting further study.

The Reality Shift is unknown to science, although pop quantum mystics (re: bullshit artists) like Deepak Chopra or Rhonda Byrne might tell you that you are using the power of intention to reshape the world as your own, or send yourself into a nearly identical alternate universe except for those things you wanted changing. Any time someone starts speaking this way around you, you must a> correct them politely, b> run away screaming, or c> smack them.

The weirdness to which I refer seemingly happens at random, and more than likely within one’s own head. It may have the looming pressure front of nostalgia, not wholly unlike deja-vu, but particular in several regards. It leaves the victim feeling out of place and time, suddenly and inexplicably the world is unfamiliar and strange, or even exciting and new, though logic dictates that you have seen it all a hundred times before, and nothing has physically changed. Everything is somehow just… different.

Reality Shifts most certainly occur. The way you felt about your elementary school WHILST in elementary school is far different than the way you feel about it now. In fact, you have felt differently about it many times over in the course of your life through random quirks of circumstance and remembrance. Your tv-and-movie expectations of high school at a very young age were soon supplanted by the real thing, though they may have inadvertently tinged that part of your life, either at the time or years after. Your relationship with the people in high school, and your abilities of relating to people, drastically change as you enter adulthood, the work force, collegiate social circles and the like expanding the parameters of your worldview. Everything from your geographical orientation as you learn and memorize new environments to your comfort levels contextually as a member of the human race. Obviously we all change and grow and evolve with age and experience, and on the whole this is a gradual process. But can these Shifts be noticed and even recorded in memory?

Most of the time we do not feel the Reality Shifts within ourselves until much later upon reflection. But to actually be aware of of your perceptions and contexts apparently changing as you look around you in wonder, your head sent into a spin, leaves one dazed at the vast reality none of us truly understand a mote.

So having started a new job one month ago, (and having gone through all this many times already) I was in a good position to recognize what might be happening when this Shift occurred. As I finished assisting a customer, I stared off deeply into a nearby wall, one that I have seen hundreds of times before now, and felt a wave of alien resonance envelop me, an odd sensation like being in the Twilight Zone. Was my brain perhaps in the process of rewiring itself to accept my new placement in the universe? Shuffling the short-term into the long-term memories, (something that dreaming most likely accomplishes), thereby shaping my worldview at my present age to the appropriate circumstances pertaining to my life and survival and social graces? Does this happen any time our lives require it, during relationships as they blossom and evolve, friendships, vacations, or whenever a preponderance of sensory information makes it necessary to grow as an individual, incorporating new information and ideas? I have felt little Reality Shifts in response to what seemed at the time to be crazy new ideas in my life, listening to an Alan Watts podcast in Hawaii, reading a very difficult Social Science book for AP History, learning what anti-zoo meant from an insipid liberal, accepting the death of a relative or the end of a relationship, discovering that my father did NOT have the ability to change traffic lights by pointing his finger like a gun and going *pfvvew*.

Take note of these things when they happen, and ponder every possibility; transcendental, religious, philosophical, neurological (though I myself am predisposed to the latter two). Assuredly this is not singular to my life, but each and every human must be capable of being wowed by it.

A trip down memory link

Oh, I couldn’t go an ENTIRE YEAR without you, LJ! But I almost did.

I blame the future. Inexorably roiling, rolling, crushing down on us like the accumulation of so many dirty, unclean… socks?

Look up a few things on the internet from your past. Think about:
*The person you were back then, compared to this person you are at this place now.
*How has your philosophical outlook on the world changed?
*Can you even be said to be the same person, if most of your bodily cells have been replaced, your mind totally (hopefully!) altered, the pulses of your brain rerouted, and the electrons of the World Wide Web that preserve that former you replaced by exact duplicates JUST AS SOON AS they bolted into existence in the first place!
*Are old pictures and posts of your friends the same people?
*What is your proudest moment and why?
*What is your most shameful moment and why? Have you left it recorded? You should, this is arguably more important than the last. Never throw away the shittiest parts of yourself. You’re only deluding and depressing the future you, looking back for comparison.
*Now, slightly less ignorant than you were then, are you equally less blissful? Or about the same? Can you even remember?
*Are your frames of reference so changed that they are too errant a slide rule to use with any degree of accuracy?
*Do the posts or pictures by your friends muckrake some nearly-foreign memory? Why is it so alien to you? Why was it so important to them, but you nearly forgot it? Check that, you DID forget it, but for this little exercise.
*Are there things from Ye Internet of Olde that you remember that no longer exist? Old forums, pics, joke sites, geocities pages, references, or perhaps video before video… Why do you remember them? Why were they important enough? Why are they gone?
*Would you go back to that antiquated system of tubes? For a day, a week, a year?
*What if you had to give up all the memes and references you now know the internet has produced? (Maybe especially then)
*How did you think of the world back then, through the lens of technology at that point? Frustrated at the slowness of dial-up? The poor quality of pictures? The difficulties of such rudimentary interglobal communication? Has the alleviation of your frustration been at equal pace with the rapid development of these technologies?
*Perhaps you were nonetheless optimistic; so many sharing common interests, showcasing new ideas and concepts, embracing both simple quirks and commodities as well as new and complex modern issues,
larger and larger communities reaching out, exploding, connecting their wildly spinning randomly splitting tendrils with the whiplash of rubber tautness, old world modalities slowly dying, withering spent and useless facing the hydra.

NOW! QUICK!

Think about the future.

And go to bed.

Dreaming in Metaphors, or: Your Honor, I was Hypnogogged!

“Yet the stupid believe they are awake, busily and brightly assuming they understand things, calling this man ruler, that one herdsman – how dense! Confucius and you are both dreaming! And when I say you are dreaming, I am dreaming, too. Words like these will be labeled the Supreme Swindle.”
-Zhuangzi the butterfly
“If that there king was to wake, you’d go out — bang! — just like a candle.”
-Tweedledum
A lovely little somniloquy:
The Sandman reifies, I rectify.
I’ve let my lucid dreaming abilities atrophy, partially because ’waking life’ diverts most of my focus, and in part due to the trickery apparently at hand by the same subconscious that made me to back off from so forcibly dominating the dreamrealm with my dorsolateral prefontal cortex and awesomo power a little under a year ago.
When I first discovered lucid dreaming way back when, I latched onto it as a kitten’s dew claw latches onto drapes when it knows you are going to make it dance for company. I could fly (or leap and glide, at least) whereas previously I had been a hapless victim careening in the passenger seat of a figurative and literal Cadillac over precipitous cliffs of wispy foggy dreamscapes, like the inertia of paralysing quicksand in an hourglass, like the polyphase-delayed reaction of a smoked mirror. Later, life would imitate this art whilst traversing Mt. Washington in Pharli’s devolving automobiles under the influence of effective lysergic acid diethylamide. But of no consequence, for I would sleep soundly as said kitten later that night, cares of the day behind me, as I fought for peril-fraught cities, surmounted insurmountable odds (and even mounted a few other things), and was generally held in high regard by humans, bigfoots, cartoon characters, gods, dogs and LEGO peoples the Eschercube over.
(It’s sick and twisted to mix and torture dying metaphors so, but that’s dreamlogic for you, and I don’t intend to stop just when I’m starting to enjoy it. I guess I’m a metaphor-sadist, or a reasonable simile.)
Then the collective unconscious (those dicks) put a hamperin’ to my napperin’ and devised a series of ways to decieve me into once again disbelieving that I was in a desireworld. The circuitous logic of that labrythine realm would allow me to do the fantastical things I knew I was quite capable of only there, but in a way ambiguous enough to keep me in such a foolish forgetful frame of mind.
To wit: I find myself soaring serenely over the threshold of my star-studded city (Gotham meets Mos Eisley meets Santorini) at night, wind thrashing WILDly my mane of luxuriant hair as I swiftly descend ever-so gently to the ground for a street rumble. However, this is but a hypothetical musing, a vivid description within the brackets of discourse to a friend on just such an illusory state. By infusing this fantasy element on top of itself within the dream, squaring it, cubing it indeed, multiple layers upon layers unto those of an onion, or perhaps more deliciously a layer cake, I am deceived into believing that I am awake and merely remembering what it is like to be asleep. I should have noticed something amiss, I say– I say, awry, boy, with my friend having an eyeball for a head, and dressed in a tuxedo and tophat.
Elsewhere: A diabolical evil genius (and perhaps an ancient goddess) lurks, wringing wrinkled old hands (that are both segmented pincers and tentacles with suctions), but this is but a daymare, bored and zoning into daydreaming repetition at work and Meanwhile: waiting for my alarm to falsely wake me for the third time, having only imagined that I completed my entire morning routine/ritual twice already, aware that only one of them was first sleep.
(Flawed much? That’s dreamlogic for you, which I may have mentioned already in this strange loop.)
I propose to the same friend within the same dream (or dream within a dream, as Poe very well might write and very will did) that I could ascend into space upon a bolt of lightning, and I do, but since I was hence posing a simple hypothetical, the fact that it is insanely absurdly concurrently occuring makes perfect sense at the time of present tense.
A favorite quote of mine “when you daydream at night, what do they call that?” (Though for the life of me I can’t remember who dreamt that one up.)
I remember things wrong, and there is no help here from my logical higher brain functions, as I misremember things often while awake. I am missing money that, in ’reality’, I have readily available either in my wallet or bank account. More frustrating (though its an arguable point*) is when I have veritable oodles of cash, only to awaken and discover, alas, I am still disappointingly broke and there is nothing to be done about it. The duality of these two, of course, forces me to question which is the ’real’ universe, the sixteen or seventeen hours I spend awake, or the seven or eight hours I spend asleep.
Though I only just recieved a clean bill of health from my lady-dentist (with gentle reassuring hands), I still fret over the sudden and inexplicable loss of back teeth. And sometimes I feel like a total hypnic jerk falling out of a tree. It’s obstructive! It’s fatiguing! It’s apnœaying at the very least!
I ask myself within the dream if perchance I may be dreaming, a resounding logical answers rebounds “if you ask just this question, it must be!” But what sort of logic is this for a dream, and if I postulate now on the question ’awake,’ then does it mean I’m sleeping? Will this blog exist tomorrow, or is it just another incomplete theorem, an uncertain principle, a hole torn in the universe by Lucretius’ spear? I maintain that my city is the same one I visit each night, as if created by Windsor McCay or Neil Gaiman. I worry that it divides, interrupts, biphases even, so how do I build a universe that that doesn’t fall apart two days later?
Whichever of the many contentious theories on the purpose of dreaming the case may be, (tapping into a collective greater than the singular self, the inner symbiology of mystic archetypal information, a simulated reality, an etheric battleground between mindless ones and mummudrai and shadow beings, portentious visions of the future, divining the nature and true numerical name of GOD, the hardwiring of data, the movement of short-term information into long term information or: RAM to ROM during REM) it was clear to me that it ’wants’ to be in control of what happens just as much as ’I’ do. Always the bigger man, upon realizing this I sought to compromise, and allowed for a certain amount of dreamy spontanaeity and at the same time keeping cool resolve to use those capacities that make me so… awesomo.
(And if we all share the same collective mind on some astral plane, living out each and every life there is to live, well… then you’re only Jung once.)
I average about or less than (<) two nightmares a year, since I discovered lucid dreaming way back when, and especially since I had found clear-headed balance on such neutral ground (remember that clear also means empty, and neutral can still be a disputed imaginary Maginot line). I have yet to have one this year (knock on particle board) of any remembrance or import. Certainly never enough to wake me in a cold sweat, which is a function solely reserved for my clock radio (right above to ’snooze’). But that nuetral ground is infact not a ceasefired strip of land, but the partition betwixt deadly highways. Since, it seems, slumberland isn’t willing to compromise, and continues to vex me with its shades of unreason, I shall once again have to assert myself using those techniques I have perfected. As a result, the quality of ’waking life’ increases accordingly.
I’m so tired. I haven’t slept a wink.
*of fact of sale of law of view of honor of departure of no return of service of presence of origin of impact of focus of divergence of contact of grace of light of interest of purchase of inquiry of it all