Monthly Archives: June 2012

This is the Mind

“We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.” – Max Planck

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I am the mind and eyes of the universe. I arise spontaneously from nothingness and – as pure consciousness – I generate matter, energy, space, and time. I am present here and now.
Every particle of my being participates in a vast interconnected network, which includes every other particle in the universe. Created in the same instant, the matter and energy of the cosmos remain ineluctably entangled throughout eternity. A singular unified field of forces – from the strong nuclear force to electromagnetism and gravity resonate in harmony within the subatomic realm and reach out through the vast and ineffable dark matter and energy of intergalactic space.
I am aware of these realms and realities at the same time as I inhabit and participate in the illusory life of a separate self among others.
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We refashion thoughts into language, language into mathematics, mathematics into science, science into technology, and technology into civilization. We recreate our dreams and emotions in poetry and art, and our poetry and art are transmuted via media. Our awareness becomes belief and our belief, religion. In these ways, we create our environment and it channels our experience. Because we are entrained by our experiences, this self-programming ultimately limits perception.
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We can demonstrate in the laboratory, there are neither individual things nor separate events. There is only a seamless continuum. We are one super-organism of life. Each of us is a particular instance of the single indivisible, unified field. Our separation is an illusion generated by the very frames of reference defining our particular points of view. These frames of reference form an infinite succession of instances, moments, and events – an indivisible matrix of information and experience.
We are the universe evolving through the infinite and eternal present, navigating a multitude of past and future states. Our reality is the product of our collective imagination. The world is filled with the content of our minds because the world is our mind. We are all and everything, here, now, and all at once. This…is the mind.
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Image: “This is The Mind” by Tullio DeSantis, altered ink drawing, 2011
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The whole world is just one thing

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when I stand on this hill with summer in my eyes
the sky shakes within blue-grey banks
a river of wind moves through the valley
lightning happens branches shift rain falls
I can hear the roofs rattle
setting off a trillion sparks in me

and the hill is within me and summer rain and wind are all at once inside my head and fill my body

I know there is only one thing and never two things
not the world and not me but something else
something that is just one thing
that I can understand and know only for an instant

then it seems in the second half of that same instant
I forget what I know and there are two things again
I am lost
until it rains again
and then I remember
there is only
one
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Image: “star” by Tullio DeSantis, 2011
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synesthesia

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Sensitivity
in its highest form is intelligence. Without sensitivity to everything – to
one’s own sorrows; to the sorrow of a group of people, of a race; to the sorrow
of everything that is – , unless one feels and has the feeling highly sensitized,
one cannot possibly solve any problem. And we have many problems, not only at
the physical level, the economic level, the social level, but also at the
deeper levels of one’s own being – problems that apparently we are not capable
of solving. I am not talking of the mathematical problems, or the problems of
mechanical inventions, but of human problems: of our sorrows, of despair, of
the narrow spirit of the mind, of the shallowness of one’s thinking, of the
constant repetitive boredom of life, the routine of going to office every day
for forty or thirty years. And the many problems that exist, both consciously
and unconsciously, make the mind dull, and therefore the mind loses this
extraordinary sensitivity. And when we lose sensitivity, we lose intelligence.
– J. Krishnamurti The Collected Works
Volume XV

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My work across all art media is
unified by a kind of conceptual synesthesia. These images, colors, sounds,
words, objects, experiments, technologies, and behaviors I create appear to me
as various sensations related to the experience of being a conscious entity in
a multidimensional universe.

The words I write, the images I create, the sounds I compose, the technology I
invent…these constitute the sensorial correspondences to the moment-by-moment
and instantaneous experience of having a mind and a body – but not quite
believing this is the whole story. Or rather, our understandings, whether
philosophical, aesthetic, or scientific, are so limited that we miss the
essential aspects of experience…and instead we are lost in tangles of words,
stories, and beliefs, which do not serve us very well. They do not illuminate
our predicaments well enough that we may avoid them, nor do they sufficiently alleviate
our anxiety to allow us to feel truly connected, truly a part of the infinities
which surround us.

So I work across the boundaries of
traditional media and I work collaboratively within a network of
similarly-minded individuals, doing work in all media and in all disciplines,
from science, to philosophy, to art. By uniting separate experiences, media,
and individual pursuits, the path toward some ultimate unification is set.

In the spirit of greater synergy,
here are links to some of my recent work in various media, other than the usual
words and images I produce. The synergy is the thing…

ARTologyPOD links:

iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/artologypod-tullio-francesco/id264341138

WEEU Radio: http://weeu.com/podcasts/artology.asp

Reading Eagle Online: http://readingeagle.com/podcasts.aspx

Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/tullio-desantis/

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/TullioDeSantis/videos

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Image: “dark prism” by Tullio, 2012

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Show me something that is not my mind – part one: the unconscious

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Neuroscience research reveals the
hidden aspects of even our most rational and conscious decision-making to be comprised
of mostly unconscious processes, in which our conscious mind is often evoked
after the fact. In other words, there is a substantial body of evidence, which
indicates that our brains are, for the most part, involved in automatic
processing of perceptions and behavior, even while we feel we are deliberating
and consciously controlling our actions.

The pivotal experiments done by Benjamin
Libet set the stage for the neuroscientific version of the unconscious,
referred to currently as the “new unconscious” to distinguish it from previous
conceptions, notably Freud’s.

As my previous entry on this very
significant topic is unavailable in its complete form, I’m reposting it here
for our future reference and discussions.

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My aesthetic work currently involves conveying experience that reveals the
absence of conscious will as it relates to our actions and behaviors.

While this may seem a preposterous position – even aesthetically, I wouldn’t
propose it unless I could demonstrate interesting and entertaining ways in
which one may have first-hand experience of this mysterious phenomenon.

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To preface this specific thought experiment, I offer a quote from Albert
Einstein on the subject at hand. In a speech given in 1932 Einstein stated his
unequivocal disbelief in free will:

“I don’t believe in the freedom of the will. Schopenhauer’s saying, that a
human can very well do what he wants, but cannot will what he wants,
accompanies me in all of life’s circumstances and reconciles me with the
actions of humans, even when they are truly distressing. This knowledge of the
non-freedom of the will protects me from losing my good humor and taking much
too seriously myself and my fellow humans as acting and judging individuals.”

(Albert Einstein (1932). Einstein’s Credo. Courtesy of the Albert Einstein Archives,
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.)

*Laboratory experiments by Benjamin Libet
and others and interpreted theoretically in the work of Daniel Wegner
lead to one of the paradigm-shattering conceptions regarding so-called “free will”

*
Libet’s experiment – Demostrating
that we are only aware that we have made a decision AFTER the movement has been
initiated.
*There is an abundant amount of
research results in recent scientific literature that points quite clearly to
the notion that we think about what we are intending to do AFTER we do it – not
before.
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The theoretical
work of Daniel Wegner
goes a long way toward synthesizing the history of counterintuitive findings
that seem to prove our conscious minds are something like backward-looking
monkeys riding stumbling tigers through a perilous present holding steering
wheels connected to absolutely nothing.

*Here is a historic New York Times article
on this paradigm-shaking subject:

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Free
Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don’t

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Again, however, as my work
consists of aesthetic projects, it is not solely dependent upon the results of scientific research. As art, my work contains an irreducible experiential component. I prefer to
directly communicate experiences to others rather than simply theories, explanations, or formulas.Here is a thought experiment anyone can do at any time, in which it becomes
increasingly clear that one of the most complex, crucial, survival-oriented,
high-level, human-specific behaviors is executed automatically and without
being preceded by volitional thought.

The
next time you find yourself talking to someone, note that you do not think the
words you will say before you say them. We speak automatically and then reflect
upon what we have just said.

And all the while, of course, we continue to speak.

This experiment demonstrates the strong case that we execute complex and
survival-critical behaviors without thinking of the exact behaviors until after
we have executed them.

A few secondary principles must be experienced in order to answer without
personal doubt that we do indeed act BEFORE we think about the exact nature of
an executed act – its moment, manner, specific content, trajectory, and
intended consequence.

The first objection deals with a reductio ad absurdum argument regarding time. One may
say that one has pre-planned the action (raising one’s hand for example) and
therefore it matters not that the exact moment of action may not be immediately
preceded by the conscious thought to execute the action.

However, any measurable time value between the thought and the action does not
demonstrate that the act was pre-planned and therefore executed by virtue of a
conscious thought. Notice that even though you may have a general idea about
raising your hand, the exact moment, manner, and context in which it is raised
is executed spontaneously – without the intervention of conscious will.

By extension it makes no difference if we make a plan to say something specific
to someone the next time we meet them. When that meeting takes place, we may
observe ourselves speaking automatically as it were – guided only vaguely by
our pre-planned speech. The exact moment, the exact words, and the exact
intonations are executed physically (by our bodies) without being pre-formed in
the mind.

The findings of neuroscience (especially by Libet and Wegner) are fascinating –
and can be used to buttress the positions I take above. But to my aesthetic
mind, it is more astonishing that we may directly observe the absence of
preformed thought preceding words, sentences, and paragraphs during the actual
process of speaking!

The implications of these thought experiments are truly mind-boggling. We act
before we think – even in the most crucial and survival-focused activities of
our lives.

Our mind – our consciousness – is at best a record keeper attempting to catch
up, keep track, and make fine adjustments to the ongoing stream of our words,
actions, and behaviors after they have been executed by our bodies without the
intervention or guidance of conscious thought or volition.

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First Image: “MindBrain” by Tullio, 2012
Second Image:  http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctytho/fig1.jpg

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