Sunday, July 13, 2008

A New Theory of Mind II

I was not going to write about this tonight, as it is past 2:30 AM, but by writing now I give that notion the lie.

Interesting how memory and future projection can actually collide in a human mind, and who is the arbiter? The synthesizer, also known by Freudian terms as the “ego” and in Jungian psychology as the “personality,” though Jung's personality is a much more elegant and complex construct than the ego.

Let us simply say, for operational purposes in this thought experiment, that whatever cannot be accounted for by memory, thought, or emotion, must be created in the synthesizer. This is a definition by exclusion.

Let us attend to some qualities left by default to the synthesizer: will, intention, dialogue, inner argument, data selection, data filtering, conception, imagination, foresight, aftersight, in a word, everything that has to do with judgment or sorting of other things to produce a new singularity.

I am rubbing my face now and reaching for a way to impart the idea of the synthesizer. Obviously this verbal narrative is the result of synthesizing, involving not only my will but the obedience of my fingers on the keyboard. It is an orchestrated effort. Certainly memory supplies the skill and the vocabulary, but what initiates the action? How do I decide how to proceed?

Honestly, most of the time we decide little about our actions, we simply find ourselves doing them with intention as if it were nature. For those of us lucky to be so integrated, our immediate ambitions (or desires) are never far from fulfillment through our initiating act of will. But do I think, “I will take the Triscuits out of the cupboard and munch now?” No, it's more like “My stomach feels a slight pang, I throw open the cupboard and start eating.” My hunger initiates an action, and it is non-verbal, the preceding statement only an approximation of how reality unfolds as you initiate.

In this case the synthesizer yields to the body naturally, although the body ultimately requires permission from whatever part of the synthesizer corresponds to the will, which may be the most inexplicable portion of the mind. But I digress.

The case of immediate hunger shows that the body-monitoring function of the synthesizer is essential. The body puts the mind in time and space where the mind can find expression through movement and activity. And often there is no division between the mind and body, but often it arises, as in holding in one's pee on a drive, that the mind must assert control over the body or yield.

Part of the intellectual memory is body memory, how we remember keyboards and cars and how to work them.

The synthesizer amalgamates all the psychic imprints into a changing whole, at times as if one voice were speaking, though that voice is composed of many impressions and decisions at a less conscious level. .

The capacity to talk with oneself in the mind is proof that the synthesizer uses dialogue to advance its direction. At the same time the self knows that the dialogue is artificial, contrived, and can easily shut off the conversation if wished. Sometimes the mind is lazy and merely observes the different voices of the synthesizer having a conversation. The synthesizer allows us a variety of contiguous selves, both participants and observers. This ability to see oneself from a psychic distance is essential to the synthesizer, or syn.

This conversation is not psychosis but a property of the infinite regression of selves of which humans are capable. The synthesizer is not so much the God of the mind's terrain as its prophet. The ultimate god is the will, the central hub of the syn. It is in willing that we are most actively the essence of syn, though the will is also subject to a monitoring and cautionary function that compares its direction with the imagined possible.

To be continued...

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