As usual, I fizzled 2/3rds in.. I don't think I connected things well. Maybe this'll get rewritten in time.
The mind ∞
Where do I begin? Aah, the mind.
On a bad day I can't remember what I had for breakfast. I'm not entirely serious saying that, but there's a chunk of myself which just doesn't care to remember many things. Honestly, how valuable is it to remember most of one's day? How possible is it to remember all of it? Not very.
Memory is a device. Perhaps a fascinating and complex device, but nonetheless it is a device with finite constraints. Those constraints include things like speed of storage and recall and the depth and breadth of recall. Functionally there must be a finite amount of storage available. The mind uses some amazing tricks to get the most out of what it has. It links experiences together in subtle ways so as to not rely on duplicating storage for similar experiences. This is one of the foundations of what makes us so bright. Well, some of us.. some of the time.. maybe.
So in order to be efficient, the mind has to prioritize what it stores and how it links things together. Some experiences are valuable and some are not. Sure we could discuss this concept, but let's instead state that yes some things are not as valuable as others to remember. Like my breakfast. This could simply be because of the value of breakfast, or the other side of things would be because of the value of not-breakfast (i.e. one or more other things).
Prioritizing experience ∞
While it can be broadly thought that we are much alike, the fact is that our experiences are not. Sure, we may experience things with the same style of tools, but over time the collection of experiences that is us makes each person unique. I mean to say that we all have a brain and we all have a memory, but things like priority of experience is at lease subtly unique to each person.
Breakfast may mean a lot to you. Heck, it may mean a lot to me on one day as opposed to another. Priority of experience is something that varies widely for all kinds of reasons.
This priority is quite interesting in that a harrowing experience can be something deemed not appropriate for memory. Mental blocks can exist for a "major event" but somehow the memory is set aside and not referenced because of its association to the agony of it. I imagine this to be a survival tool. I believe that a person would be willing to sacrifice associated memories by not visiting a painful one. This is just one of many features in memory.
Not every moment of one's experience has an impact on one's memory. This is a study of advertising. The idea of the attention span, the concept of attention deficit, brand recognition, associations to other memories and such.. there are many interesting ideas. Ask yourself how valuable an experience it is to see the logo at the top of a web page. Is it useful to fixate on the watermark (e.g. TV channel logo) while watching TV? Do you tune out commercials or sit there fixated on them? Do they impact? They shouldn't. They certainly shouldn't impact on what you are.. they shouldn't have any fundamental impact. Do you remember that funny commercial from a couple years back where.. no, you don't. You shouldn't.
The volume of experience ∞
Trivial little things should not have sweeping impact, at least not throughout your life, because sooner or later.. well because frankly you'd have to be de-prioritizing other experiences to make room for that one. Your mind can only care so much about so much. One volume of thing can have priority where all other things cannot have so much volume. There is only so much space in one's mind so there must only be so much space in one's attention.
One certainly has a great impact on how much volume an experience has. Something which has impact for one reason or another has more volume. Something more important to us or more touching to us will be given greater priority. Other things which are deemed of lower or inappropriate value will be prioritized less and will hopefully have a lower impact on us and volume in our memories.
A hobby will have a higher priority than something outside of our experience. Things related to that hobby will also find themselves elevated in priority. If you're interested in something, soon everything reminds you of that. Ever been in love? The world is a different thing through those eyes. Movie critics can't sit and watch a movie for the entertainment of it.. they're thinking through the eyes of their hobby. A special effects guy might squirm through low budget scenes. An actor may see subtleties that I could not. I even learned of how at least one woman would look at the eyebrows of the actresses. Priorities are subtly unique to each.
Priority and choice ∞
Obviously we aren't so gullible as to go rushing off when faced with advertising. Well.. most of us, I hope. Well I don't. In fact I hope, but hope without trying, to have advertising make as little impact on what I am as is possible. I hope to apply this to many influences. I would rather choose to have something make a real impact than have priority forced upon me. This probably isn't entirely possible, but maybe I'd at least be agreeable to forceful prioritizing.
I am more often led to think ill of advertising than be influenced by it. The first thing that comes to mind is that it's an advertisement, and from there I'm quite immune to the subtleties of its intent. I view advertisement as a kind of entertainment, and the only influence I would like to have on me is that it inform me of some new shiny product which I wasn't aware of before. I've sat and watched commercials and after the fact I haven't been able to remember what they were for.
I walk through much of life choosing to not be impacted by little subtleties. I explain this as a tunnel-attention-span. The fact is, if I'm not grabbed by something I won't care about it. If I don't approach something myself I won't care about it. All things along the path from me to wherever I'm going and whatever I'm attending to are de-prioritized by choice.
There are, of course, more subtleties to all of this than I describe. We aren't always at the helm of our absorption of experiences. Priorities aren't wholly of our own choosing. Memory is a thing all its own.
Memory and prioritization ∞
Interestingly, memory itself is something which apparently people are less willing or able to control. It's as though there is a choice in using memory and how it is used but less of a choice in its use. It's like some kind of black box.. we go through life actively concerned with the filtering and prioritizing of experiences, and those things get blindly committed to memory. The commitment is left at that, without further thought as to the process of it.
Mind you, there are some who are very interested in the storage mechanisms of the mind and there are those who have trained their own memory. There appear to be certain trends fundamental to each of us. Common ways in which memory works for each of us. The idea is that by understanding these ways one can consciously make the act of commitment and recall more efficient.
But how important is memory to us? Very, I should think. How would you respond if I were to reach to you to take a memory? With apathy or with some degree of horror? I would liken the response would be as though I were reaching out to cleave a piece of your body off. Memory is somehow a component of what we are.
I wonder if people believe that memory is a part of the immortal soul. I bet it isn't. Scary thought, isn't it? We already know that our material possessions don't go with us. Most think in terms of leaving a legacy behind. I wonder how many believe that their memories will go with them. I still want to believe in that. Somehow I feel that my personality is only my personality with those memories as references. There is things instinctual in us which we have as influences in personality, and there are many memories carefully built on top of many more memories as influences.
Memory and existance ∞
Memory is somehow fundamentally a part of how we view ourselves. Our experiences are what makes us us. We are, to a degree, cut from the same mould biologically and physically and perhaps even culturally, but individuality is somehow apart from (and maybe even above) these things.
Do I exist if I have no memory? How can I validate myself as a person.. as an individual.. as being individual.. if I don't remember things individually? My experience may still be unique and yet if that experience has no impact how does does that uniqueness matter?
I may make choices in prioritizing what volume in memory I desire something to have, but how committed am I to keeping that priority of volume once the experience is committed into memory? If memory is so fundamental to me as a person, shouldn't managing my memory matter more?
Some things about us are automatic. Somehow by choice we meddle with this naturalness. We like and dislike, we prefer and we avoid. Our preferences and prioritization are individual and each of us constantly adapts these things like the tuning of an old black and white TV for the first five minutes as it warms up.
If I go through my day, and I prefer and avoid and yet for the next day I have no recollection.. what value did the previous day have? Perhaps the previous day has subtly impacted on me as a person. Perhaps I can trust that automation. Perhaps not.
Naturalness and memory ∞
Memory is automatic. It's something biological and fundamental to us. It's like a hand or a foot. It's something we are born with and which the development of becomes automatic. The idea of crawling is not one which is learned, it is a fundamental trait.. and so is memory.
If I go through day after day and I don't choose to prioritize experiences, those experiences still impact on memory if even at a subtle level. At least this is my hope. I hope that over time I am somehow more wisened in spite of my perhaps inappropriate prioritizations.
I think that we are born with memory as a tool and that it is an inevitability to progress towards some sort of individual wisdom. Good experience and good choice probably impact the girth of that wisdom, but I'd like to hope towards wisdom as some kind of inevitability to those like myself who do think of it. I am also one of those strange few who questions it and wishes for more common sense. "Common".. no I don't want commoner sense.
Simple thought ∞
Is Wisdom a skill which can be striven for? I'd venture no. I think that somehow wisdom is an instinctively and subtly developed ability. I think that perhaps it can be cultivated alongside good sense and wit, but it itself is not something we can just study towards.
I do, however, believe that a good kind of wisdom through good sense is possible and that simple thought makes that possible. Simple thought before, during and after an action breeds more sensible action. I say simple thought to distinguish to overly complex thought. Simple thought is not plotting or effortful but is natural. It asks basic "how" and "what if" questions without worrying too much and acts without too much hesitation. It taps into our overall experience and instinct.
I believe that this simple thought I speak of is what we fall back on when no specific experience is prioritized as it makes an impact into memory. As we go through our day, doing nothing in particular, we are thinking simple thoughts. We are developing simple wisdom.
I think that perhaps this simple wisdom is instinctive and eventual.
Writing and wisdom ∞
Literacy is a funny thing. I don't think when I write. My mind is not tied up with the mechanics of making letters or words or sentences. I think in broad thoughts and I try my best to keep those brought thoughts as I spoon off its edges to dollop paragraphs onto a page. My keeping those broad thoughts intact is what makes paragraphs connect to one another and sections to connect to one another. What's interesting is how I can't quite remember and in fact it's not valuable to remember the whole of the broad idea when working with parts. I also can't quite remember past dollops. I'm efficient in all of this, I suppose.
I've heard people talk about writing things down.. of writing down one thing each day. This is often attached to a veiled threat. If you write one thing down every day then at the end of the month you will have so many things. If you don't write things down, then at the end of that same month you would have nothing. This concept is especially applied to very broad topics which are truly complex or subtle. I've most frequently heard this idea applied to martial arts.. and strangely enough to writing.
In writing it is said that to be a good writer .. well.. you write. Yes, that much is obvious but the idea is to write no matter what. To write the good and the bad (and the ugly). To write without embarrassment and without fear. To write five pages a day. Writers say that if you can write a bit every day that at least some of it has to be of some small value and that over time you will eventually have something good to work with. I guess that's where good editors come in.
In martial arts it is said that if you can write down the one thing which you enjoyed or understood, no matter how small a comment, that over time you will surely have a wise volume of advice for yourself.
Continuous writing ∞
I used to believe the ideas of writing every day. I believed it but somehow I didn't practice it. I didn't feel for the concept.. it just didn't feel natural for me. I don't write every day but write when I am inspired to. I've learned that the inspiration for writing is a precious opportunity which I should not pass up. I used to think that it was, but now I don't believe that it's rare anymore. Maybe over time I've been given more inspiration. Maybe I'm getting wiser over time, or maybe I'm just less afraid of myself and my own writing.
I write when I am inspired. I don't write when I'm not inspired. It seems obvious because it is. Unfortunately it's hard to mix this philosophy in with the rest of life. I don't sleep when I'm tired.. right now I'm not sleeping because I prioritized this writing higher than sleeping. This may not always be the case though, because sometimes sleeping is more important.
I used to believe in the idea of writing down a little tidbit whenever it came to mind, but somewhere along the line I realized that a lot of those little tidbits were becoming self-evident. These "snippets of wisdom", or perhaps wisdom just in my eyes, were becoming tiring to even consider.. they were obvious.
I look out into the world and I see how rare really good writing is. I see how an author will write and write and write and then.. stop. I see how their exploration leads them in a direction and then they are suddenly quiet. Maybe the act of writing for them like for me is the exploration of ideas.
I would suppose that there's no point in my writing down and exploring topics which I am already confident in. Maybe i will stop writing down what is obvious to me. I hope to not be so selfish though.
Writing as exploration ∞
Above all else (like ego), writing is an exploration for the writer. Sometimes writing is done towards an audience but sometimes the only audience that matters to the writer is the writer.
I believe that we can think our thoughts, but that they are not truly formed if they are not communicateable. If they are not expressible then they are merely strong and undefined feelings. I believe very strongly in the value of being able to teach something which I am myself interested in learning. I approach all things with this in mind because I believe that learning is done best when thinking about teaching.
Writing is a curious thing for so many reasons. There are ideas of the value in rough notes, previous revisions and various conversations. I don't find much value in those things anymore and I believe I am better for it.
These days I am struggling with the value of writing down every little tidbit of experience. I worry that I need to validate every experience by remembering it. I am beginning to understand how I can rise above worry of the little things to pay attention to a broader wisdom.
I'm beginning to not write the obvious. I'm beginning to not prioritize things which do not have a broad impact on me. I think that perhaps I am leaning towards selfishly writing to explore topics of interest and am not worrying about the little stuff.
Writing and memory ∞
Not every experience has an impact on my attention, or on my memory, or on my writing. After all, because there is limited space in our memories, not everything can have the same priority or take up the same volume. And yet, I find myself using writing as a tool in addition to my memory.
I have the ability to write an endless amount and found another kind of memory outside myself. I can write and then forget what I wrote. I find myself cheating on the limitations of volume in memory. I sortof see teaching like this too.
Somehow this external memory has a value different from my inborn memory. From one perspective it is a functionally immortal legacy. It is somehow a something of what I am and yet is not me.
Maybe I'll take my memories when I die, but maybe the memories will vanish. These memories, however, would stay. These memories exist outside of my own. They are, in a sense, their own self.