July 2006 - Posts
I was reading the latest Scientific American issue and read an article about experts. It basically stated that experts in a field, whatever field it is, owe their success to effortful study. It makes sense: the more you study, the more passion you put into your studying, the better you get. It focused a lot on chess grandmasters and their thinking processes. A major finding it brought forth was that their success was due not so much to an innate talent but by accessing a vast network of knowledge in their minds, acquired by playing and studying many games; effortful study.
That part intrigued me though, that they play well by accessing a web of knowledge in their minds. They don't necessarily have photographic memories but they do store enough about the game of chess that they can reconstruct basically whatever they need. So if they see a chess position they may not have that setup stored in their memory, but what they do seem to have are points of the setup stored, e.g. two bishops in such and such a configuration often leads to so and so outcome, etc. These points are connected such that mentally accessing a single point immediately makes available all the points connected to it, and all those connected to it, and so forth, leading to a virtual tree, sort of, of thought.
When I worked in a computer lab during college a lot of times the people I helped would ask me how I knew so much, and at the time I would just reply that after working with them for so long you just remember things. I realized a while ago that my thoughts, related to anything computer related, are arranged in a web. Thinking about anything related to computers immediately highlights other things in my mind, things that may not be apparent to less computer literate people. So I'm not smarter with computers so much, I just have a larger knowledge base in my mind.
And I don't remember every single thing all at once, but by using that mental web of data I can reconstruct whatever I need. I know that's how I learn new things: I learn the basic idea of something and only keep that in my mind, I don't retain any detail, it's like clutter in my mind. It's only when I need to know something more in-depth that I fill in the gaps in my understanding, fill in the detail. But since I did retain the basic idea I know where to start my research whenever I encounter a novel problem that eventually leads back to the new thing I've learned.
It's a pretty neat concept to think about. :) Oh, the article also said that it takes 10 years for anyone to become a master in a field, all it takes is effortful study.
I was telling the dream I had today to a friend and she said that everytime I tell her my dreams she can visualize them and they amaze her; primarily because the amount of detail I can recall. She likes reading fantasy books and the things I dream about seem like things she would read in her books. She suggested that I start writing short stories! Ha. But, this isn't the first time I've had people suggest to me that I should write, so... I'm going to start posting some of my more fantastical dreams to kind of feel the waters of short story writing. Probably quite a few writers get inspiration from their dreams so who knows, maybe I have that skill. :) Anyway, without further ado here's my dream for today.
I was in a large house, it was so large it seemed almost like a factory building but it was a house. There were two levels and the second level seemed almost completely surrounded in windows, even the floors. I could look through them below, but the house seemed situated near the coast on a rocky cliff. The house was so large that when looking down I seemed to be looking almost entirely at water. Some of the floor panels seemed to fold out to provide more support for actually walking on. The upper level of the house seemed more like an enclosed balcony with one half having a floor and the other half having nothing such that you would fall to the first floor.
Somehow I shifted to another place. I seemed to be below water but I can't remember much of this.
Eventually I shifted again but this time I seemed to be inside of a gas planet, like Jupiter. It felt very ethereal and I was floating in basically nothing since there was no ground to stand on anywhere. The environment looked red and orange with some white. It did appear I was in a planet because I could look at the "sky" but it seemed like a backdrop, it was entirely blue. While suspended in this environment I could move but it was difficult to, I had to look at something to move towards and then I would move towards it. It was difficult because I became easily disoriented. I also felt very small in this place, it felt massive. There was nothing else here.
I saw a monument floating and moved towards it. It was of a dragon, I think, and not too far from it was a denser area of the environment, a portal of sorts. When I moved toward it I saw a message above it which had the year it went to; 9248 BC or 9245 BC, one of those two. I went into the portal and was transported to that time. The area felt as if it were in chaos, it looked calm but the feeling I felt was very chaotic. I seemed to be the son of the man who was in front of me. He was the dragon of the monument I saw earlier only he was a man. He had long dreadlocks that flowed from him and he spoke with a somewhat demonic voice. He didn't feel scary but it was just his voice engendered respect and a little bit of fear. He was the king of this area and he told me that I would understand him more after he did what he was about to do, which was to destroy the world I just arrived to. It fascinated me that he would tell me this. After he said this he turned around and quickly left.
I think today is probably the loneliest I've ever been in my entire life. Not because I don't have anyone around me, but because I do. It's strange. But I think I finally get it: people have their own lives. No matter how close you get to someone, in the end it's all about you. The yearning I've had for other people feels dead right about now, and without that yearning I'm left with just...me. And that, my friends, is why I'm lonely.
I generally don't like making multiple posts per day but I want to write about this; and besides, it's now technically Tuesday and hence a new day. :) But, this is the second post I've written concerning this subject. The first was mainly a quote from my favorite otherworldly being, Ra! Ha ha ha. This time this is more of a progress report on my intuition-type ventures.
As I mentioned a few posts ago I've been playing online board games, Chess and Go specifically, and have noted intuitional thoughts, so I've been playing them with a secondary motivation to hone my intuition. Something I've learned since that post is the value of intelligence / rational thought alongside intuition. It feels to be a gross disservice on my part to simply define intuition as the opposite of rational thought as that doesn't help understand exactly what it is. I'll just define intuition as say, another axis of thought. That's probably not a much more helpful definition but it lends more clarity than saying it's simply the opposite of rationality. I get an image in my head of longitude and latitude to visualize the two. Pick whichever of intuition or intelligence to be longitude or latitude, it doesn't really matter, what's mainly important is the understanding that they work together and aren't separate.
To that end, while playing my current game of Go I've noted a few times where I had a strong urge to make certain moves. This strength of feeling is something I notice a lot concerning intuition: the stronger the feeling the more you should pay attention to whatever it is the feeling is about. But, in the moves of my game where I've had this feeling I've investigated, rationally, what might happen on the board should I follow this intuitive impulse and sometimes I've concluded the move would be disastrous.
The thing that makes this interesting is that the nature of intuition is such that, working in an entirely different way from intelligence, applying rational thought processes to intuitive impulses isn't generally recommended. It might be like trying to push a square peg through a round hole; they're not generally compatible. So, to say that making a move that I intuited would be bad because I rationally analyzed it goes against the spirit of intuition. Intuition sees things intelligence doesn't, because it works differently from intelligence, for intelligence to say something is wrong because it cannot see how it would work hampers the very service intuition provides; that is, to see beyond what intelligence can see. (Circular logic? hee hee.)
So, how can I justify listening to my intuition while analyzing the suggestions it makes? Well, I actually go by feeling again, the feelings I get while analyzing whatever intuitive impulse I get. Specifically in my Go game and the move I'm thinking about, I simply played out in my head what might happen if I made the move I intuited. While doing so my feelings about the original impulse waned. (Geez, imagery of electricity and magnetism come to mind... In my astronomy class we discussed this some in relation to light and how it's a force that propels itself, as opposed to say sound that needs a medium like air to propagate. I don't feel like getting into it now, but basically the vibration of a photon generated gravity, magnetism, that then moved the photon, hence providing its vibration. A visual might include the photon traveling up and down while the gravity simultaneously generated laterally, toward and away from you.)
Sorry for the interruption in my train of thought but it felt important and highly relevant. Hmm, might intuition and intelligence be like an electromagnetic force, each being an axis of a wave...? An interesting thought, even more interesting when I had it...thinking about a game move altering my feeling toward it. It's easy to get lost in concepts such as this...ultimately proving what one wants to believe... Still, there's something here I feel.
But, to return to where I left off, I paid attention to the feelings I had concerning each outcome of the game board as I thought how the game would turn out had I made the move I intuited. At the end of the examination I noticed disaster for me. It could very well be that I didn't see everything so the board might not turn out like I had envisioned, but my feelings concerning the original intuitive impulse had waned enough to steer me away from making the move.
It's kind of interesting how this post has progressed, not at all as I intended. I actually really did have that thought about electromagnetism while typing this, and exactly where I wrote about it. Intuition informs intelligence, that was something Ra said. Sorry, I think I've completely lost my train of thought now.
Ah, dreams. Sweet dreams are made of...pie.
Um, so yeah, I like my dreams. Lately I've been having really cool ones. Not cool in the sense of the content so much but in how I feel about them during the dream, and most importantly, immediately after I wake up. I used to write my dreams down a lot, had a dream diary thing going on. But, the more I would write down my dreams the better at recall I became. So good in fact that I would end up writing for about 30 minutes to an hour about my dreams. That's a lot of detail to recall! I eventually quit because I was spending way more time than I wanted writing down my dreams. (Note, I eventually started writing down my dreams in Microsoft Word because my handwriting looks like chicken scratch on crack when I'm awake that early.)
One thing I started to realize during the period I wrote my dreams down was that the emotional feeling you have with a dream is of more importance than the content. I mean the events and scenery are very important to the dream, and make it very personal for you, but the emotional connection you have with it is highly important. Even now when I don't write my dreams down anymore I remember fewer dreams but the ones I do have a lot of emotion in them, I can still feel them when I wake up.
A few have interested me because the emotions I felt in the dream extended out of them into my waking consciousness. Two dealt with similar imagery, but weren't the same dream. Basically in those two I was highly distraught over damaging my Prius. The feelings were strong enough that I really didn't realize I was dreaming, i.e. after I woke up I realized how real the dream felt to me, impacted me. I guess from dealing with my dreams so much over the years I felt what the dreams were trying to tell me and eventually stopped having them. I've been thinking those two dreams were pretty cool because 1) I experienced a lot of feeling with them, and 2) I actually recognized, I think, what they were trying to convey to me. There's a kind of "light touch" I'm starting to use in analyzing my dreams. Hmm, intuition and intelligence...may need to post about that...
Dreams are really neat. Sometimes I look forward to going to sleep just to see what comes up. I've also realized I have more frequent dreams when I'm generally rested, not rushing. I dream in color too. I never thought this was a big deal, but when talking about my dreams with others I see dreaming in color isn't always the case.
Hmm, not sure what I wanted to say in this post, but, it's posted.