Archive | July 2012

Déjà vu

I have a preoccupation with psychic dreams.

I would like to say I have an occupation with them, but at the moment they’re just preoccupations.

There was a point in my life, mostly high school, where I had perpetual & daily déjà vu.  Things just synched up randomly during my day that I swore to have seen before in my dreams.  My life was like walking though this commercial:

It’s a phenomena that’s faded in time, but gave me a lot of fascination and anxiety, especially when I had a string of dreams about running over people with my car.  Yike.

From Carl Jung – “My thesis then, is as follows: in addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals.”

A collective dreamworld of all human experience and thought is as improbable as sentient life on Mars.

Yet, I look at human evolution and think that psychic connection is possible.  Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End hypothesizes that the next stage in human evolution is the ascendance of our mind into pure thought.

Look where we’ve come from, a skull of Australopithecus which became extinct about 2 million years ago.

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The change in shape of the human head has changed incredibly over 2 million years to compensate for our increasing intellectual power.  See?

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Cranial surge is in our chromosomes, I’d say.  The brain is so incredible that no one really understands everything that’s going on inside of it.  You can lose part of one lobe, but not others.  Speaking centers, learning and memory, imagination, emotion, and motor function all derive from one part of the brain or another.  Yet, the saying goes, “We only use about 10% of our brain.”

I like to think the 90% gets unlocked at night, deep in the REM cycle.

I don’t even want to touch my brief episode of sleep paralysis this past week or the phenomena of people who suffer from sleep paralysis and claim that an old hag comes to their bedside at night and sits on their chest.  Yeah, collective unconscious.

It should be noted that some definitions of the word dream are “a succession of involuntary images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep.”

Involuntary psychic dreams, like love at first sight and déjà vu – they’re an affliction.  I’ve been trying it out in my fiction writing for some time, I just hope that the experience of it is less gimmick and more burden.  What happens to a person who believes they have a psychic dream?  They act on it, whether it is good or bad.  Prevent a catastrophe or take the risky chance that could be rewarding.

What’s clear to me is that all of these – psychic dreams, love, déjà vu, the evolution of the homo sapiens, Carl Jung – all of these things work on the belief system of the human being.

I choose to believe in psychic dreams and the collective unconscious.  Life’d be too boring not to.

Spilt Milk

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“No use crying over spilt milk” is such an easy phrase to say, yet what does this phrase really communicate?

“Do something more constructive.  Like helping me clean up your milk.”  I think of my father with that explanation, let’s go with another. 

“Don’t worry, there is always more milk.”  

This makes sense to me as I have most recently seen the exact circumstance of a child crying over a spilt milk carton at a Wendy’s.  But doesn’t this sound like a very bourgeois sayin?  Milk is a plentiful resource for the majority of Americans, but I think there is a reason to cry over spit milk if that spillage creates a waste of your resources.  Have you read the Grapes of Wrath?  I would cry over spilt milk in that scenario.  

OK, this is a very literal translation of the phrase, but it also leads me to believe the phrase is relatively recent, say from the American 1950’s.  

A quick Googling comes up with the phrase’s origins: earliest known citation comes from Welsh historian James Howell in 1659, “No weeping for shed milk.

OK, wrong on that guess.  I suppose milk was plentiful in Wales back then, but even Howell was writing a collection of proverbs, so the phrase must go back a little further.  That’s interesting, let’s push beyond the literal and possibly bourgeois explanation of this phrase then.

“Accept your actions and become more cautious from them.”  

Oh gawd, did my father elucidate over all the possible meanings for the spillage of milk?

Besides the fact that a father of someone must be the origin of this phrase, the facts of acceptance and consequences should be explored.  The lesson should be one of pattern recognition, correct?  If I do A, then B occurs; I do not like B occurring, what are my other options?  I think this is getting closer to the point, but I think there’s a significant theme still missing from the explanation.

“The past is gone now, learn to move on from your mistakes.”  

That looks a far cry (and much more serious) from “no use crying over spilt milk,” but this feels more encompassing than the others.  Here, there’s a sense of what has happened cannot be changed, so let’s evaluate the events and learn to avoid this outcome in the future.  This might be learning to control your motor skills better so you quit making a mess of my tablecloth, or it might be to quit letting people walk all over you in a relationship, or to stop expecting results to change when you haven’t made a change in yourself to create this other outcome you desire.

Lessons need to be learned and patterns changed.  The important parts might come from a parent’s admonishment, but let the message get through.  

The real irony of the sign at the top of this post isn’t that a tattoo is something to regret, but that the some part of you meant for this tattoo to happen and it’s for you to figure out what that was for; was it a rebel thing or an expression that needed to get out of you?  

To be honest, I think if you are actually learning the lesson, it’s OK to cry over spilt milk.  

Just for a little bit.

A Feast for Crows

Sure, I’m a late-comer to George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice saga, and my interest was entirely fueled by the HBO Game of Thrones series, but I’ve finally had a chance to read the books and just finished the fourth title, A Feast for Crows.  I only purchased the nice paperback-set of the first four books, so I haven’t had a chance to read the fifth title, but at the moment I’m feeling some major let-down for the series.

Without revealing all-important spoilers, the action takes a serious nose-dive after the events of A Storm of Swords, novel # 3, and hits a patch of self-indulgent malaise.

My chief problems with this book are its lack of direction in regard to the novels that came before it and the author’s choice of which characters to focus upon in these nearly-thousand pages.

If you care to not learn any events of the third book and beyond, stop now.  As Vargo Hoat, the Goat, would say, “SPOILERTH AHEAD.”

A Storm of Swords is exactly that – let no man say that Mr. Martin does not accurately describe his novels – and its action is hard, real, and visceral.  A Feast for Crows does not pick that up, but lackadaisically strolls through the after-math of its predecessor.

To take an example: the events of Brienne of Tarth’s story arc sees her charged with returning the Kingslayer-Jaime Lannister back to his kin at King’s Landing, but is set upon the road by outlaws, captured, rescued, taken hostage again once she reaches her destination, and eventually released by Jaime out of respect, nay, admiration.  Next book: she self-appoints herself in thea search for the missing Stark girls, namely Sansa, and explores two red herrings before ultimately getting cliff-hanged by the author.

I have no problems with Brienne of Tarth as a character, I like her valiance, her attitudes, and I like her naivety.  She gets dumped on by the world for her outward appearance in nearly every scene and perseveres on like an automaton of righteousness.

But why did I have to read nearly a fifth of this book to follow her luckless & fruitless searches when I knew, we all knew, that her search was folly because we could see that from the viewpoints of TWO other characters in the book?  I found myself skipping paragraphs to get through Brienne chapters over and over again, just so I could escape the monotony of her hopeless quest.  Really, some quick erasure of part of her quest could have been taken care of at the editor’s desk, especially when Martin is so very fond of flinging various characters to their doom willy-nilly.  I’ve learned quickly that travelling companions, however much text and space they fill in his chapters, are quick to fall like wheat before the scythe.

The other problem, and this may be a more a dilemma of personal preference , is that none of the characters in this novel were the ones I cared about, the ones I really wanted to follow in the book.  The majority of the book is Cersei Lannister being political, Jaime Lannister adjusting to life as the Head of the Kingsguard (or avoiding Cersei), Brienne failing at her quest, or poor, fat Samwell Tarly of the Night’s Watch telling us what it’s like to be on a ship.  Ad(d) nauseum.

I had a personal bet with a good friend who claimed to me, as I watched the first season of Game of Thrones on DVD & having read no books yet, by the end of the published five novels I would come to love Jaime Lannister, when I swore he was an awful bastard based off the show.  Well, by book four, she is right and I have to eat that bet.

However, I cannot stand following Cersei Lannister around and knowing her every thought, whim , dreams, and nightmares.  It’s like being in the head of Kim Jong Il for four hours and hearing every little paranoia.  I’d rather she was standing there singing the Batman theme in her head.  Wait, I like that.  Cersei Lannister is part Kim Jong Il with his paranoias, part Grand Moff Tarkin blowing up Alderaan out of spite, and part Kim Kardashian turning everyone in her country against her with every move.  To quote my friend Michael, who said it best, “Cersei has no redeeming qualities at all. She doesn’t even love her children, they’re just vessels for her own failed (and, truthfully, denied-by-gender-and-culture) ambitions.”

There’s a handful of one-off chapters, as well, following new viewpoint characters briefly.  The newness and alien-ness of the perspective change is good for breaking up the story, but I wasn’t sure I needed to know the broken view of the Iron Islands from three different people.  I actually enjoyed this better from the Martell points of view, seeing the sun-scorched land of Dorne from three different sets of eyes as they were a little closer to the actions in A Storm of Swords.  Those bits at least had some of the action the rest of the book sorely missed.

The next novel, A Dance With Dragons, seems to promise the viewpoints of the characters I seem to prefer thus far, namely Tyrion the Imp Lannister, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Stannis Baratheon, and Davos Seaworth.  Hopefully.  Again, you can mock me as I haven’t finished the available works yet, but the Feast for Crows came up way short of the previous works.

2 out of 5 murders of crows.

A thousand and …

A thousand and one apologies for the broken link.  Rather than fix it, you can now see the video below.

Thanks, Mario 😉

Higgs-Boson

I had a recurring dream as a child that, at the time, I thought was either driving me into madness or would last unto infinity and the dream would never end.  Maybe that’s one and the same, but whatever.

The dream was of a man in what seemed to be a laboratory.  He wore purple robes and he was rummaging through his desk for something.  An Igor-like assistant in ragged black clothes would come in and ask him if had found it yet.  The man in purple would scowl and then cross over to another desk and dive into that, pushing things aside and tossing trash out in a mad search for whatever it was.

Eventually he pulls out the object: a strange, batarang-shaped, slender thing.  He declares, “I have it!  Come, Igor, let us watch it again!!”  Apparently the slim batarang was a futuristic DVD that my 1988 self had dreamed up, whatever.  The man inserts the batarang-disc into a player.  The view of the dream goes from 3rd person to 1st person as the man in purple as I see static on a television screen and a picture begins to fade in.  The picture is of a man in what seemed to be a laboratory.  He wore purple robes…

This picture would loop endlessly as part of the dream.  No, my parents did not lace my Count Chocula with LSD.  During the dream, I would be almost overwhelmed with a panic that I’d gone crazy and this sensation would never end.

This is what I imagine being a scientist researching the Higgs-Boson particle feels like.  The building blocks of the universe, all matter, everything that was and will be – you’re trying to get a glimpse of all of that, yet I should think that someone would ask the next question: what is holding the Higgs-Boson particles together?

If you keep breaking down the pieces, you should be able to find a smaller part that makes up the bigger, correct?  A person is made of cells.  Cells are made of atoms.  Atoms are held together by protons, neutrons and electrons.  Protons are made of quarks.  And so on and so on.

I don’t want to sound negative or defeatist by the discovery of the building blocks of life, but doesn’t that have to be made up of something else, too?  For the most part, quantum physics is beyond my ken, but the search to find the little pieces seems to me to be the same kind of search that adventurers, astronomers, and explorers have taken the path of for centuries: obsession.  Ahab & the white whale or Poe’s Montressor & his lust for revenge are no less a quest with obsession than finding this piece.

The good thing, however, is that I share the sentiments of Dustin Hoffman’s character in I ❤ Huckabees, as seen here:

 

What I want to hear in the future, then, is what the building blocks of dreams and thoughts are made of – are the neural synapse firings and electrical activity in the brain all that compose a thought?  Are dreams made of a different matter or antimatter?

Sorry, that’s more questions than answers. 🙂

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