Kinkazzo Burning
~ reflections & disquisitions
It takes both sunshine and rain to make a rainbow...

Virtual books, virtual brains

In the 1970s I seem to remember (I was in my twenties then, and a revolutionary) radicalised artists deemed paintings and sculpture to be burgeois garbage. They said the canvas was finished. Their aim was to dematerialised the art form utterly.

Something similar is happening to the book in 2014.  Umberto Eco said that the book is like the wheel, or the spoon, it cannot be improved... With the rise of Kindle, however, the book is slowly becoming a purely electronic medium and thus, in a bizarre way, it is ceasing to exist. If there were a computer crash in a future society purged of paper books what would happen to our archive of words? It would vanish.

In the 1960s (just to be a nostalgic again) I remember being in my teens and thinking books were for wimps. Then for school I had to read The Bethroted by Italian classic author Alessandro Manzoni. I was  overwhelmed. I even picked it up and read it on a Saturday. I remember finishing it, shaking with emotion and thinking, what is this? I didn't think books could do that.

But they can. Physical books make a demand on you. After you've bought them they sit on your shelf and stare back at you with the inference that you're letting them down. If they are electronic, that pressure, that relationship, is gone. You won't have a good book "waiting" for you at home.

The popularity of e-books is an expression of our more complex society. Your computer can do 5,000 things but it won't do something simple. If we could digitalise the knife and fork we'd have done it. That's perhaps what Eco implied with his simile... We cannot digitalise the spoon, right?

Now just to get to a book involves a convoluted electronic process. Instead I can just go to a shelf, pick a book and open a piece of engineering that's unchanged since Gutenberg;  it's 500 years old and perfectly designed. The paperback book is a fantastic piece of technology - and it's thought to be not good enough for our world any more.

The proselytisers of the electronic medium talk about how democratic the e-book is. But I've never heard of a democratic system that requires a £130 deposit - the average cost of a Kindle - to take part.

Perhaps I'm being too partisan (or indeed too nostalgic). Bibliophiles like me get very heated about  the threat to the art form they love, and I admit there can be a hand-wringing bookworm attitude: my wondrous library of first editions is being threatened! And I can understand why, with its ability to store acres of text, an e-book would appeal to a lawyer or a business leader. I can envisage lots of situations when a Kindle would be handy. But how do you turn the pages when you are up a mountain, just nearing the end of War and Peace and you realise you're about to run out of charge?

Ultimately this is an aesthetic issue: how will the popularity of the e-book affect the experience of reading? There is a casualness and tentativeness about reading on a Kindle that concerns me. I think it might lead to people reading much less, and having a shallower, more superficial relationship with books.

I friend of mine, who teaches a Master's Creative Writing at a local university, explains to me that the most telling lesson about the true status of the e-book comes from his students. If you ask any of them whether they think electronic books are the future they will say yes. But is you ask, "after you've graduated, how would you like to be published, in paper or electronically?" every single one wants to be published in book form. Even for this young generation, completely au fait with iPhones, tablets and Facebook, e-books do not have the same status as paper.

Take Stephen King, for instance. He wants his next book to be available only physically, not as an e-book. Why? I think because the rise of the e-books has meant that anyone who writes is now publishable, which means there's lots of trash out there... and you don't want to mix with trash. Now traditional publishing can be ignored, as new authors sell directly to Amazon - and with no editing, print, warehousing or delivery costs, Amazon can afford to be lazy. There is no filtering, meaning a lot of poorly written and unedited works are available, and these can be detrimental in several ways, not least because they lower the literacy of "virtual" readers: the opposite effect of a good solid well-proofed paper book.

Farenheit 465 anyone?

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Consciousness & Intentionality

To say one has an experience that is conscious (in the phenomenal sense) is to say that one is in a state of its seeming to one some way. In another formulation, to say experience is conscious is to say that there is something it's like for one to have it. Feeling pain and sensing colors are common illustrations of phenomenally conscious states. Consciousness has also been taken to consist in the monitoring of one's own states of mind (e.g., by forming thoughts about them, or by somehow "sensing" them), or else in the accessability of information to one's capacities for rational control or self-report. Intentionality has to do with the directedness or aboutness of mental states — the fact that, for example, one's thinking is of or about something. Intentionality includes, and is sometimes taken to be equivalent to, what is called ‘mental representation.’

It can seem that consciousness and intentionality pervade mental life — perhaps one or both somehow constitute what it is to have a mind. But achieving an articulate general understanding of either consciousness or intentionality presents an enormous challenge, part of which lies in figuring out how the two are related. Is one in some sense derived from or dependent on the other? Or are they perhaps quite independent and separate aspects of mind?

And do you give a rat's ass?

You can't say civilization don't advance... in every war they kill you in a new way
If you can't annoy somebody, there's little point in writing.
~Kingsley Amis

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What is a mind?
my brain is alive!How is it related to a body?

Descartes answer was substance dualism. A person consists of an immaterial substance (mind/soul) attached to a material substance (a body). But this thesis fails a crucial test. An immaterial substance cannot move a body; therefore a mind cannot move a body.

Somewhere in this blog of mine, I shall assume that to have a mind one must first have a brain. This is a materialist perspective. Some weaknesses in this perspective will be described. I shall argue that minds do not necessarily exist as entities, that we nevertheless are aware of our own mental events and that we are aware that other people have similar events.


Directly linked to my heart:
when it stops, I die.

Ain't this fun?

Go and check it out...

Where's your head?
The Locus of Faith

Hey, but let's relax...

Lake Hermon,Israel
If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?
~ Rabbi Hillel ~

Notwithstanding all of the above, though, here's another question for you...
Does consciousness survive death?

One simple change in our worldview would have the most profound and dramatic effect on our lives. And it is this: to see, as Eastern philosophies have long seen, that the brain does not give rise to consciousness.
~:~ The brain is an organ of thought and memory, and has evolved as such for a variety of reasons. It pays for an animal to be able to remember what has happened to it so that it has a better chance of repeating its successes and avoiding its failures. It pays to know how to respond most appropriately to fellow members of your species or clan, especially if you have to fit in with a social structure in which complex interrelationships play a central role. It pays to be able to speculate about the future, analyze situations, and work out novel strategies. It pays –- if you are to stay alive and prosper in a niche as incredibly intricate as that of Homo sapiens –- to have inside your skull a two-hundred-billion-unit neural net of unprecedented power for processing and storing information. You have to be able to think and remember extraordinarily well. But the point so often overlooked is that there is absolutely no reason why you should have to be conscious.

[read more…]

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Kinkazzo's Travels
(keeps expanding...)

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...a composite question still remains, at least for me:

What was there BEFORE and WHY?

Ok, so I've read Spinoza, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Russell and more, as well as Dawkins' books, and Hitchens' and Harris', and Darwin's, and Dennett's, Gould's and you name it, I've read it (even Stenger, with all his equations). And tried it. Tested it in my mind, that is, just like Einstein used to do with his theories.
Free yourself from the burden of delusions!

Freethinking... sure. Think freely, and go mad.
Done this for most of my life,I'm now insane, and still arrive to the same pointless quandary. "Pointless" because nobody seem to achieve a purpose by it, and "quandary" because nobody, but nobody, seems able to provide a satisfactory answer.

The one basic unanswerable question (variously expressed below):

--- What started it all? What was there BEFORE? What was the "causator", the Prime Mover
(Aristotle help me, pleeeeease)?

Ok, ok, you say 'why do you have to have a causator?' -- because, paradoxically, it makes sense. The other way around, it does not. You can't have something from nothing. That's physics, right? And, to top it all, my mind (and so the minds of all) cannot comprehend infinity, because my mind is finite; don't give me Big Bang theories: I accept them already. No contest. But before? It must have bigbanged from somewhere, the very 'action' of bigbanging...what caused it? Inflation? Good. Inflation from where? You give it physical explanations, and the question irremediably returns to the "before" - yeah, infinite regress, indeed. And before? What was there before?
Is God the Before?
Naaaah, let's put the 'God' word aside for a sec.

Then NOTHINGNESS? Well, folks, my mind cannot comprehend 'nothingness'.
Refrain, all together now: you can't have something from nothing.
But if you can, then can we call that 'nothingness' God? Ah, fuck, here's God again. The semantics of god. And we get something like... "In the beginning God...etc etc" -- but that's been written already...

Hawking (on attending a conference at the Vatican -- ...of all places!)) once said he did have some sort of answer... but then I believe it came to nothing (pardon the pun).
What a mess. Is it the same for you? An ultimate utter mental mess?

Infinite frustration, that's what it is.

---(which frustration, -- Dawkins docet -- must have frustrated Humanity since its collective mind started functioning, given the various & fantastic explanations throughout its history: the fear, the magic, the gods & devils, thus the religions, the superstitions, the rites, the propitiations, the wishful thinking, the holy books, the hallowed laws, the righteous killings, the just wars....bwaaahhhh)---

You see, it's the Cosmological Argument all over again, which in its simplest form states that since everything must have a cause the universe must have a cause - namely, God. This doesn't stay simple for long, I'm afraid. Says Dennett that some deny the premise, since quantum physics teaches us (doesn't it?) that not everything that happens needs to have a cause. Others prefer to accept the premise and then ask: What caused God? The reply that God is self-caused (somehow) then raises the rebuttal: If something can be self-caused, why can't the universe as a whole be the thing that is self-caused? This leads in various arcane directions, into the strange precincts of string theory and probability fluctuations and the like, at one extreme, and into ingenious nitpicking about the meaning of "cause" at the other. Unless you have a taste for mathematics and theoretical physics on the one hand, or the niceties of scholastic logic on the other, you are not apt to find any of this compelling, or even fathomable...

Hmm, I feel better already...........

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And now a joke...

A Jewish lawyer was troubled by the way his son turned out, and went to see his Rabbi about it. "I brought him up in the faith, gave him a very expensive bar mitzvah, cost me a fortune to educate him. Then he tells me last week he has decided to be a Christian.
Rabbi... where did I go wrong?"

"Funny you should come to me," said the Rabbi. "Like you, I, too, brought my boy up in the faith, put him through University, cost me a fortune, then one day he comes and tells me he has decided
to become a Christian."

"What did you do?" asked the lawyer. "I turned to God for the answer," replied the Rabbi.

"And what did He say?"

He said, "Funny you should come to me..."

If aliens landed on a barren Earth after nuclear annihilation, I’d like them to find this list of Man’s literary achievements to offset against Man’s self-destructiveness:


or the

With hypertext and links to relevant author’s biographies and downloadable works. Enjoy...

There are many wonderfully varied pleasures available to anyone living on this small planet who manages to maintain an inquisitive eye, a childlike wonder and a sense of humour. It is true that the ageing process always involves an increase in rigid thinking, in firmly held opinions and in hardened attitudes. But although we cannot defeat physical ageing to remain young in body, we can do a great deal to stay young in mind. The trick is to never stop asking questions and never stop exploring, whether it be new places or new ideas. And it helps to perform at least one perversely eccentric act each day, no matter how small. Nearly all the great discoveries made by mankind have come from exploiting a lucky accident. But you stand no chance of encountering such an accident if your life is too neatly organized and routine-dominated. A search for novelty cannot guarantee exciting discoveries, but you can be certain that without it there will be none.

And please don’t fall for that propaganda about requiring advanced technical skills in order to be able to unravel the mysteries of the universe. It is true that in some specialist fields they are essential, but it is amazing how much is sitting out there, just waiting to be discovered, simply by using the naked eye.

(Desmond Morris, The Naked Eye, 2001)

Hey, I'm ur buddy!
Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else.



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