3/2/04: Expansion and Contraction
(of Language, of Time . . .
and of the Relation between Them)

A (Contractive) Report on the (Expansive)
Postings #8461-8598 (February 24-March 1, 2004)

Fractal, from @rchipress

Susan Levine's comments on fractals @ the Beauty Symposium: "A sentence is worth a session,"

--sent me first to look up definitions of "fractal" in the O.E.D On-line:

--then to Serendip's feature on The Magic Sierpinski Triangle: Order dependent on randomness

--and finally to our conversation here, which turned out
to have a MUCH more interesting quality than "simple" magnification:
expansion/contraction/re-expansion into something different--

(and remember that, in tracing this pattern, I'm doing a very SELECTIVE/CONTRACTIVE thing....
there are MANY OTHER stories playing out here as well....)

Fueling all our conversation is a strong theme/question about freedom of choice
(and what that means for morality):

Daniela: Memes need human minds ...Of course, we will remodel them in accordance with the idiosyncrasies of our brains, but the attribute of the meme stays the same....So, does the freedom to be unique exist?

Orah: the movement from disorganization to organization is beauty...not the arrival at organization....reeve talked today about the fact that there IS something as opposed to nothing...and if everything is random then why does this something exist?

Diane: I do absolutely, undoubtedly believe that living things have free will. However, sometimes these choices are ...confounded by an even greater choice... clouded by a prior choice....It can seem as if we have no room to decide things for ourselves because we are not always cognizant of the even bigger, more pressing choices we made long before.

Cham: ive since come across another survival game called "Tit for Tat".... the game as a whole is trying to get at one important point: group advantage can come out of individual strategy ....we must now consider the advantages of both outward and thus perceivable morality versus true(?)internal morality.

Meg: It is difficult to imagine that there could have been morality without free will. People have to consciously make the choice whether or not they will act morally.

Su-Lyn: last summer during a forum ...about writing under controlling regimes...it mattered entirely that ...stories were 'new'....But...What does it mean for me to take in a meme?

Julia: For me, even more difficult was the acceptance of ...every cultural aspect of thought (such as morality, kinship, and all social contract) being the results of completely random generation coupled with selection. I was left ...wondering if the social contracts that we have with others of our species are merely the product of randomness, leading me to believe they easily could have not ocurred at all.

Katherine P: I am trying a...zen-like approach to my life. I don't want to stand on the dry, stable ground of absolute truth and meaning, I am trying to find a feeling of content ment in not knowing... Is this how we define our self-worth, but how different we are from other people? by how little we need to depend on others for ideas, memes and in the end survival? ...When we interact with people, when we are meeting and playing with people...

One VERY useful way we have to interact and play with one another
is through alternately expanding and contracting and (re-) expanding (in time?):

Emily M: can we connect time and language (or lack thereof)? because it doesn't take too much of a leap to go from "being in the moment" in sense of cognition of time-- to that wordless space where we act from instinct....could a lack of words or language for a specific moment just be our way of finally being completely and fully in the substance of time? i'd like to think so, for it's only when we pull back that we engage in wordplay to describe the activities that were, in a sense, timeless only moments before.

Emily S: "self-consciousness...does hinder the experience of the present".... it is preferable to abandon some of our evolved self-consciousness in favor of experiencing the rest of the world with fewer filters, including language. ...the condition of being in ..."the present" is simply thought without language.... do we really need to give verbal and conscious significance to the rest of the world ...?

Patty: these are believes I've held not because they make sense, but because my language choice trained me in this way. I wish I could image who I would be if there were no language. But I can not. And I just really need to let the idea sink in that there was so much going on before it could ever be attempted to be explained.

Bethany: REcognizing a pattern requires MEMORY, right? Does that mean anything? Is that relying on time?... Another thought about language and...thought :) -[Genie] remembered her experiences from before she had language. She was thinking before she had language.

Bethany: So! I was thinking, and I think I saw something interesting. I was mulling over language and thought and their relationship, and this is what I came up with. When we come up with theories, or just with ordinary thoughts/observations, it seems like they are in an expanded form in our heads. In order to transmit these thoughts (assuming they are complex enough for a gesture or a glance to be insufficient) to someone else, we have to put them into words. We contract our ideas into these words, and then speak them, they find their way into the ear of whomever we are talking to, where they expand again, perhaps in the configuration in which they were expanded in our heads, perhaps not....This reminds me of those little capsules that they used to give us in the bathtub... colored gel-caps ...explode into little sponge dinosaurs....the second part of this idea was connected to altruism....there are our feelings, expanded in ourselves, and then an action, a gift, a gesture, which contracts what we are feeling, is symbolic of it, and is intended to create a certain feeling in the receiver...Anyone else see this?
(expanded)IDEA >> (contracted) LANGUAGE >> (expanded) IDEA [maybe same, maybe not]
(expanded)FEELING >> (contracted) GIFT >> (expanded) FEELING [maybe same, maybe not]

Elizabeth C: it's the things which seem inherently patternless at first which can be the most unique, innovative... but only particular people can make enough of a leap... to enter into a world with an unfamiliar framework and extreme recombination of thought....Objects and words gather baggage over time...and this bagage counteracts the development of the unique... it is interesting to note how what we use to communicate while expanding the potential for understanding, can also limit it in a variety of ways.

Perrin: I only seem to remember visuals in my dreams and never words....I think that emotions are the foundations of our words. Meaning that before verbal expression, there were feelings....Perhaps this can explain the "very first meme" that was discussed in Anne's discussion group today?

Ro: Are there meme filters?...Think of all the highly specialized lingo that's specific to one "cult" or another... What really intrigues me...is the notion of our having a common "brain language" .... Could we dig down into our tacit knowledge brain parts and haul it up? ...."Biological evolution is a system of constant divergence without subsequent joining of branches. ...In human history, transmission across lineages is, perhaps, the major source of cultural exchange" ....So, BIO-EVOLUTION IS DIVERGENT. SOCIO-EVOLUTION IS CONVERGENT...?...memes move way faster than their bio-evolutionary equivalents, so they can trace back down branches and then up others, overcoming divergence in the same way that we overcome taking a wrong turn into a one-way side street...?

Orah: another thing: TIME. if the only moment that exists is the present moment and all eternity exists in this moment (the memory of the past and the possibility of the future) and the present moment is impossible to capture...then we, as consious beings, lack the ability to grasp reality. things are real, but ...impenetrable. another tragedy of humanity: we are built with penetrating tendancies (language etc.) and yet the nature of time and the nature of reality make peircing impossible. or is it consiousness that makes peircing impossible? ...was thinking ...about the tragic nature of time....how it flows ...and doesn't stop... doesn't jolt, wince, or twitch, but just keeps moving steadily...working against us.

Reeve: one of the things that most captivates me is the idea that everything I experience, everything I know and everything I am made of is a vanishingly small subset of the possibilities, completely improbable, virtually impossible....It has been interesting to ...imagine the extreme particularity and fixedness with which we are situated within existence and then to imagine everything that being released from this position might reveal. This is sort of what I mean by awe- a sense of infinite contraction and expansion (with an emhasis on the expansion).

Emily M: the Maori have a way of looking at time that is completely different from our way: they envision the past as something in front of you. you have seen it happen, you know what it consists of, and it is something to keep in your vision at all times. in contrast, the future is something behind you. it is unknown, unseen, and it is your actions in the past and towards the past that make it possible for the future to come into being....perhaps time is not working against us, perhaps we are working against time....we are trying to stop time: distill it, slow it down, own it.

Orah: that's the way humans deal with each other...our beings are so huge that the only way to fit into each other's minds is the forcably contract each other. we all do it :) i just hope that i can expand in your mind after being squeezed so tightly.

Aia: I think I need a concise definition of religion.

Expanding our thoughts...
contracting them into postings...
which others take in, and expand on
(differently than we first imagined)...
which leads us to give (and ask for)
further concision/contractions
(different than we first imagined)....

Next Step (or 2???)

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