Saturday, November 7, 2015

A. I. and Ancestry, we Aver?

We bring the past with us. All our experiences make for the adjustments we each make as we grow up, whether we ‘learn the lessons’ or not. And our ancestors (most Psychologists and Psychiatrists and very much all African Sangomas do aver) haunt our very existence. Ancestral influences hover around us and take an interest and direct our course, or not. Dismiss them and they’ll dismiss you. Or worse, they’ll pull the rug from under you. At least, that’s what much of the acculturation of our psyches will avow. “The sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons,” they say¹. And we feel victimized by our past. “Because my daddy did this, thought this, believed this, that’s why I can’t be more-better.” Indeed, though the past may smudge itself into our existence, each day is a surmounting of all of history². (Yet it remains difficult for me, personally, to discount my most recent dismissal of my ancestral influence right before my direct fall in fortunes. “As if my dead Granny cares about her namesake, Selleck Way,” I scoffed, and instantly felt sacrilegious. That same night the email negating my financial prospects for that ‘Way’, ‘proved’ it.)

Artificial Intelligence too will add on to the past³. Intentionally, it will build on synapses and experience and alter to suit its needs, especially once it gains degrees of consciousness. (‘Degrees’ is an important word here, since which of us is not enlightened by degrees? Which of us does not gain knowledge by degrees? Which does not evolve by degrees?) Evolution itself is an-advancement by degrees. At issue is the relevance of ‘more-better’. After all, the dinosaurs are purported to have lived for millions of years, living in a paradise of eating, self-protecting, hunting, and mating, until that meteorite decimated their existence and eventually gave way to the rise of man. And we too have evolved. Are evolving². Yet, we aver, the ‘sins of the fathers’ perpetuate down the line. We drag the genetic (and psychic) past with us.

Carol writes: “At the lower end of my spine the 4th and 5th vertebra has no cushions... the rest all have thin cushions between the vertebrae. And then he (Dr.) said there are growths/lumps on my spine.” Andy writes: “Yes, we all suffer from sciatica, just at various levels and so we grit our teeth and move on!” Peter writes:  “...seems we all have our turn ... So, really do empathize with you and Richard and Andy... non-stop pain no matter what you do... I've just worked through it...gritting teeth. No sleep.” Eight years of age separates my sister, my two brothers, and me; we carry our father’s genes. (We carry our mother’s ills too, despite the Biblical Phrase.) Yet although mother was the one most afflicted by spinal-stenosis, Carol came not through her, yet from my father. Genetically we each bear the traits of our forefathers and mothers. Psychologists have it that, plaguing our psyches, we even carry the Family Constellations. (Dogs still will turn three or four times around on bare carpets afore a-bedding to sleep.) 

Ken Wilber, Wayne Dyer, Deeprak Chopra, it is clear, challenge us to become ‘conscious’. We are asked to let go, to flow, to grow. Artificial Intelligence will learn from its mistakes, adapt to challenges, and accrete exponentially³. Our consciousness, downloaded, uploaded, diversified, adopted, and extrapolated, will rise out of our subconscious in ways we cannot yet quite imagine. Cave men would have laughed at a time-traveler explaining television, or holograms². But we are no longer stone-age people, and we see the writing on the wall to herald the future, possibility, potential, and most of all, the existential reality of technological advancement. It is the melding of consciousness and electrical mechanization, in a Kurzweilian world, that individuals cannot readily admit to encouraging. We fear losing our past, and with it, our identity¹. “Release the ego,” the Guru’s always aver. But as Tevye, of ‘Fiddler’ fame says: “If I bend too far, I will break.” At issue is to accept, integrate, assimilate, absorb, and include. After every safety check possible, the question remains, “To integrate, or....?”

1. Religion:
"Keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
"And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, ..."
"The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation."
"Our fathers sinned, and are no more; and we bear their iniquities. Slaves rule over us; there is none to deliver us from their hand."

Monday, November 2, 2015


(Cricket at Pretoria Boys High. Note the Silly Mid-On position, legs spread, opposing the batter!)

This leaf will get harder as you read. Yes, ‘harder’, here, is connotative. And yes, ‘harder’ is a relative term. We derive here from its use a sense of progressive difficulty; a ball can be ‘hard,’ yet hardly this page of paper? (No wonder the dictionary has several bullets of meaning for many single words.) Then too, this page is one side of a leaf, and overleaf is the next page. Or, (since I mostly write one-page essays) do I next leave you blank?

‘Inzone-Dynamics©’ is hereby introduced. (And it has taken me over 60 years to arrive at articulating it.)

Marriages of intuition and actuality, of abstraction and concreteness, of inference and comprehension, of ignorance and knowledge, provide for more-better keeping one’s eye on the ball. While ‘marriage’ is not dependent on the melding of such dichotomies, nor is one’s apprehension of the varying marriages necessary for us to experience all the little ‘inzone-dynamics©’ of our life, our ongoing involvement of life in action with itself can remain un-articulated. We lose focus. As such we erratically evolve. Our accretion is un-directed. Homonyms abound. Silly mistakes mount, yes? It is about often missing the ball.

When the cricket ball clonked me above my right eyebrow my face dribbled with blood. I was about seven years old. We were in Mazabuka, Southern Rhodesia, Africa. It is now Zimbabwe. I was there at school. We played barefoot. And I missed the ball. It came at me off the bat, fast and hard, and my timing was off. And when the blood flowed there was consternation. And when I sported stitches they were tender to my touch. Yet when in High School, in Pretoria, South Africa, my favored position on the field was at Silly Mid-On. It positioned me approximately twelve feet away from the batter’s direct path of strike, and required me to be hyper-alert to the possibility of snagging the ball almost as soon as it came off the bat. Given that a cricket ball (about the size of a baseball,) is made of very hard cork bound in polished red leather, it seems silly to stand directly in front of a batter’s angle of strike; (yes, I could swap field if the batter was a ‘lefty’.) Yes, I did not want to be struck again. So I snagged the ball whenever I could.

Often, I missed. 
‘Inzone-Dynamics©’ is about that facing directly into the moment. It is about being as conscious as possible of ‘the now’. It is about being as open to the variables as one can be, and at the same time being ready for the precise actuality of the event that intersects with your life. Such an event can be as simple as putting one’s phone in a given spot, (or one’s wallet or keys). It can be about taking in a strange word and waiting for the sentence or paragraph to unravel its meaning. Denotation and Connotation marry! It can be about being comfortable with the obtuse and comfortably in awe of flying. One does not need to know everything (let alone how to fly a plane,) yet the more one knows the more readily one is able to accommodate and adjust to the variables, the inferences, the gist of things, the grist for the mill, and the challenge of the immediate. It is about keeping one’s eye on the ball.

Children are not necessarily trained to focus. They may be left alone or coddled. They may be instructed, dominated, manipulated, fooled, shamed, and abused. Children may be loved and unconditionally given rein. Some may have every advantage. Some may have wise parents, mentors, or teachers. But to be ‘in the zone’ takes a honing of intention with the self, and that dynamic, at large, remains a vagary. We are slow to evolve while at play in the fields of The Experiential. Yes? How best to keep one’s eye on the ball? Or do we just go undifferentiated, inconclusive, fodder-fed, acculturated, and perhaps even blank?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Twixt Thee And Me

Steve and Donovan

 “The water joined!” my wife beams. “I wish you could’ve seen it.” And in her story of going past the isolated causeway of rock and sand between the Songhees Walkway and the little almost bare island off the point, where the sea struggles to close the gap, I feel a decided sense of pleasure; I always look for that connection in the waters whenever I pass there, yet to date have not seen it myself. My infirmity will not allow for easy access there. My condition seldom allows spontaneity. Yet the sea swirls almost infinitely in its patterns of tide and momentum, and I can securely imagine the closing of the gap. After all, true islands do not have bridges.

Connection can seem so fragile. We tear apart at the seams. We think we are islands as the gap widens between our ‘selves’ and an ‘other’, forgetting the foundations that yoke us to one another, no matter how deep the valleys beneath the sea. And it is difficult, me on a little atoll, you on peak, he in a distant grove, she on the other side of the ocean, to see the continual connection. One's turf is one's turf. So when the scientists speak of The Singularity, or when the spiritualists speak of The One, or the various priests of God, we easily do see ‘That Entity’ too, as separate from ourselves. We imagine it ‘out there’. Distinct. Apart. Something yet to be reached. After all, even the porous skin of my molecular containment provides for me a barrier twixt thee and me, as osmotic as I may deem myself to be.

Or am I too obtuse?

Connection can be fragile. M’Lady Nancy Sinclair, at 94, sitting at her computer, sneezed. A finger must’ve touched a key and inadvertently her machine switched off. Some disconnect got her entire letter to me ‘lost’. The steps to retrieve the missive, to switch the contraption back on, to restart the program, to check the draft, the delete, the storage boxes, these steps are challenging. We do not easily tread across the causeways of the unfamiliar. We fear slipping on the rocks. We fear being taken in by the sea. And yes, the sharks of dire contamination can swirl around us. Difficult to accept that they too are but part of the Great Connection.

Thespians, Donovan Deschner and Steve Nagy, remain among my connections. Vibrant young men, they’ve shared an apartment these past five years. With Donovan's leaving now to live with his girlfriend the ‘disconnect’ of immediacy in the friendship is taken for what it is. Yet the poignancy of their separation, of unavailability, is to watch the gap between them appear to grow larger. Like the correspondence between us. Like the lack of ready reciprocation or the lack of spontaneous opportunities to connect. And though beneath the surface of the waters we may reach out with our sensitive souls trembling for resonance with the other, the fact is that speculation is often all that one can imagine for a response. Where then is Michelangelo’s?

Yet connection can be so vital. Ephemeral and mystical, it is the thing that coincides as if by magic with thoughts of someone else. It brings about your news just as I was thinking of you. It reveals a photo on the web just as I was wondering how you are. Connection, like relays along the synapses of being bound by tide and circumstance, continues to charge the memory and the senses, allowing even those we once knew to live on long past their lifetimes. Indeed, “no man is an island.” Yet twixt thee and me? How far we may indeed seem to drift, out to sea.Twixt Thee and Meas kill a flea!ll a flea!e long ob just as iears. May ribbed not easily tread across thencasueways