Saturday, March 05, 2005

Awareness is not optional

But it can be drowned out.

How many times do we turn on the radio or the TV because we are not comfortable with what is playing in our head?

Consciousness is an appetite for preoccupation. Hence we seek companions, be they people or deities. Only when you are truely alone are you truely yourself, but are you then complete?


ggazic said...

Sometimes music or a movie can clarify a noisy mind. I don't know if it's an emptying process or a refocusing on certain thoughts and feelings. Songs are like poems, aren't they? And movies are like novels.

Songs can also be like prayers. Do you ever try to pray yourself to sleep? The rythm of the words can be comforting even absent of any meaning. I think it's the comfort of knowing what comes next, of feeling entirely sure of this one thing.

Anyway, do you feel guilty when you drown out your awareness? Do you believe that by allowing your mind to contemplate existential things & avoiding distraction you acheive a kind of personal-awareness progress? If so, to what degree? You're too smart to be one of those people who thinks in all-or-nothings.

BTW: Ever read Feynman's story about the sensory-deprivation pod? It's funny.

GreenSmile said...

First let me mend my manners a bit. As I have the comfort and convenience of having a name for you, so should you. George, meet Gina, Gina meet George.

I'd go with "refocusing"...external stimulation necessarily gets first call on our attention.
Yes! poems and songs, by slightly different mechanisms, add emotional and intuitive dimensions to the communication...we can sense that there is more in what we have heard than the dictionary could make from the words.
And why would the latin root for liturgical singing "chant" be the same as the root for "enchantment"?
Oh yes, and that goes hand in hand with the comforting repeatability of a particular response. Though I don't really know what others mean by prayer, a few niggunim into a Friday night service at my synagogue and I am apt to be blissed out.

Not guilty! Foolish! Sad! Opportunity wasted. [yes, I make pretty bad company sometimes]

GreenSmile said...

Sorry, had to run off in the middle of responding.

You ask a complicated question but I will do my best. I have read that
Personal Awareness Progress comes in at least two flavors. One comes from meditation, the other from psychotherapy. Both vere totally away from "distraction" but meditation can move you along so far that you develop an inner observer who is above distraction...quite impersonal. Psychotherapy, uh well, let me quote from that book I suggested: pg 131
"...deep meditation is much more generic than psychotherapy: it is less about the individual details of a person's history and more about the fundamental predicaments of being. The focus moves from what is being repeated to who it is that needs to repeat."But I think I am oversimplifying consciousness here. The quality of attention has many facets. Distraction is ONLY a relative term and gets its bad rep from all the linear thinkers: it does not deprive you of attention,it simply moves your attention from one thing [that perhaps you were supposed to attend] to something else. And some of the places your attention can be led to are wonderful or productive or interesting as long as you can suspend other people's judgements of YOUR attention. Attention is more multi-threaded than most of us realize and it is the unusual "distractions" [perhaps the rhythmic clack-clacking of a passing train that puts you in a dream] that can switch all our concentration to just one thread but many common stimuli [the siren on the ambulance] that make you aware of just one thread even though you don't suddenly cease to drive as the ambulance passes by.
And a dream??? to what are you paying attention then? If a dream is any kind of awareness, surely it is of something about your self.
No, its only clear to me that the mind/brain is damn complex...I could study one or two in a life time and still not have learned enough to say much about yours. Or to put it another way, there may be some "distraction" , some stimulus that throws my doors of awareness wide open but I have not found it yet [and I sure as hell don't mean drugs either].
I have three of the earlier Feynman books...which of his books has the sensory deprivation story?