Monthly Archives: December 2012

In Winter

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In Winter

snowflake galaxies whirl above the
frozen pond

white sparks stream from my old coal
shovel

standing straight up against the wind

I see light everywhere

photon embers of the big bang

fill the sky to the edge of the sun

from another universe

a dark form

a deer on the ridge

looks into my eyes

we share a breath of air

in that cool moment

we know what it is

to be alive

bowing our heads

we bend forward

into the drift

*

Cold spirits

If spirits roam

In small spaces

Between slow burning suns

And the inexorable slide of gravity

They see our bodies

living breathing steam

Freezing white in solid air

As if our souls hung there

Getting gasoline

Out cold in orange-yellow bays

Great bright stalls, greasy ice

Where we stand

Shocked by the knowledge

Of our predicament

Driven to wander

Risking everything

Going home

*

brain freeze

Words are frozen mind crystals.

Sentences are chunks of ice.

Once they are formed

That part of the brain stops thinking

And just repeats the words

Over and over.

We end up with titanic icebergs

In our heads.

*

*Text and Image by Tullio DeSantis:Image: “Winter” – Tullio – 2012

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End of the World

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End of the World

On my way home I pass a man.

He stands on the roadside with a sign.

“The wisest man in the world.”

White hair, standing there,

he looks harmless enough.

I’m curious. I stop,

roll down the window,

and feel the cold.

“Where you headed?” I say.
“I’m headed to the world’s end.

Looks like I found it.”

“I don’t think so. This is the middle of Pennsylvania.

It’s not the end of anything, much less the world.”
“Well, if you let me go along with you for a while, I’ll show you.

I’ll get out then.”
“I have about 30 miles to where I’m going.

I’m not going out of my way.”

“No problem,” he says.
He gets in, shoves the sign in the back seat.

We drive on.
“Your sign says you’re the wisest man in the world. Is that so?”

“Sure am.”
“OK. What’s it all about, then?”

“It’s the middle of winter. That means we are all dead. And we won’t wake up until spring. We die all the time but we don’t notice it because we all die at the same time,” he says.

“Do we all wake up at the same time then, too?”

“In a way we do. But that’s just a figure of speech.”

I’m thinking my passenger is clever, but he’s not the wisest man in the world.

“That’s it.” he says. “Don’t think another thought. I’m getting out right here.”

I bring my car to a stop. There’s nothing on either side but an old cornfield. He gets out and walks up a slight rise through snow and corn stubs. As he reaches the crest and descends, he seems to disappear.
Just before that he drops a small piece of paper.

I have some time.

I pull over, park, and follow his frozen footsteps.

At the top of the hill I find a folded note.

He is gone.

Back home now.

I bury his sign

and read the note:

I am old and I will die

It is time to come clean.
I woke up at an early age.

I lived a normal life.

So that you believe me

when I reveal all.

I will do that now.
It is not comforting to know

Hearing this will not set you free.

Freedom is not for us in this life.

We cannot be other than we are.

We pass our time with useless things

As if we live forever.

It is our bodies doing this.
Our minds know very well we die.

But our bodies refuse to hear of it.

Our bodies desire the useless things.

We go about our days in service to these dumb limbs

Serving them endless amounts of what they desire

But does not sustain them

Making them as comfortable as possible, as they demand it

Because they refuse to accept they will die.

Our brilliant minds are filled with petty annoyance.

That’s our lazy bodies talking

Constantly forcing us to confront ourselves in mirrors

So we can see the damage we’re doing.

And while we know love is the answer,

We are faced with the hard fact

We can only be loved to the degree we love ourselves.
And we do not love ourselves.

We are our bodies.

And because they are such stupid brutes

They are utterly unlovable.

I am good looking enough to know looks are worth nothing

And wealthy enough to have figured out it has no value.

I am intelligent and know I can never be smart enough.

I see far enough to see an end.

Waking up is like this.

Once it is yours you see right through it.

And you know

Like everything else

It is nothing at all.

The secret of life is life.

We all possess it for a while.

The world ends.

It is time to say

When.

We know it then.

We were already dead.

*

Text and Image by Tullio DeSantis:

Image: “End of the World” – Tullio – 2012

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Culture of Violence

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We are connected. Our logic, mathematics, science, and engineering are communal tools we use to build a
virtual world, which we all inhabit. It contains us, sustains us, it directs
our action, it feeds our minds. We call this the real world, even though it is
something we have created with our technology and which is suffused with the dissonant contents of our troubled psyches. We are one species
– a biological super-organism, connected by mirror neurons and a vast
species-specific theory of mind. We sense one another’s awareness, emotional states, behavior, and we react to
each other’s mental states.

We contribute to the collective
state of mind which affects us all. The weakest among us bear the heaviest
burden. We maintain the fiction that there is a separation between what we call
the real world and the world of our media – the virtual worlds of our creation,
even though they are coterminous, nested. Our virtual realities reside entirely
within the larger environment, which we all inhabit. There is no boundary
between our minds and the world. This is the nature of the mind and it is the
nature of the world. It is the meaning of evolution, and co-evolution. The
environment and the organism co-evolve. Our culture is the habitat which our
species creates.

Our
perception and experience are channeled through learned linguistic structures.
In this sense, there is no individual experience. What we experience is a
culturally conditioned version of co-evolutionary awareness. To the extent that
we brutalize aspects of our experience, we brutalize the shared environment
inhabited by all of us. The collective violence spread by our war, crime, cruelty, anger, and mean-spiritedness is magnified and echoed by our media, for profit and for entertainment.
In this way, we share in the collective responsibility for what occurs in our
midst. Unfettered expression is a destructive commodity if it is not harnessed
by a sense of social responsibility. Creative freedom carries with it the responsibilities
incumbent upon those who create experience. To create violent experience is to
add to the sum total of violence experienced. How could it be otherwise? To
have deluded ourselves, to have given ourselves permission to engage in a mass virtual sensorium of voyeuristic hyper-violence – these denials do not mask psychological
realities. We can change the world only if we are willing to change ourselves.
This has always been the message. It remains so today.*Image: “Culture of Violence” – Tullio DeSantis, 2012

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Then We Die

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Image: “Then We Die” – Tullio DeSantis, 2012

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NeuroEverything 01

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NeuroEverything

During the past three years, in which my aesthetic practice has involved working in the disciplines of Artificial Intelligence, neuroscience, and the philosophy of mind, it has become increasingly clear that humanity – indeed the world and its ecological extension, the entire universe – are all experiencing a rapidly-advancing wave of self-awareness. In future installments of this blog, we’ll continue coverage of recent advances in the new science of mind and its implications for the future in ways which will force us to arrive at paradigm-changing understandings of the words which define our most basic experiences, from consciousness and identity to the ultimate relationships between man, mind, machine, and the universe.

*

Driven by the accelerating pace
of technological advance, the fields of neuroscience, artificial intelligence,
and the philosophy of mind are on the very forefront of human cultural and
biological evolution. Daily news from these three disciplines demonstrates
convergences, which indicate a co-evolutionary locus of activity, behavior, and
comprehension, which would have been inconceivable in the recent past.

Neuroscience books, articles, and
press releases are among the most-quoted and reviewed sources of news and human
interest stories, which impact the worlds of technology, lifestyle, health,
sports, and entertainment. Geopolitical interrelationships are gauged by the
race for dominance of the world’s supercomputing resources. These developments
drive advances in cybernetic control and data management systems, which underpin
international trade and finance, weapons systems, and global communications.

These advances, which stem from
the rapid digitization of all human knowledge, have been predicted, most
accurately, by futurist Ray Kurzweil. His books, The Singularity is Near
and his latest book, How to Create a Mind
have been New York Times Bestsellers. The runaway success of Kurzweil’s vision,
prompts continual media attention, and a simple search can bring interested readers
up to date on the impact of his always prescient views, and can serve as an introduction to…our transhuman future.

*
Image: Tullio DeSantis demonstrating a consumer-grade NeuroSky EEG headset and MindReflector neurofeedback training software.

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