Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/#9a417fe513f58988c3b5b1e84cfc57397194a79b 2024-04-19T19:10:23Z Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/ ranprieur@gmail.com April 19. http://ranprieur.com/#ab072b7fd3a1925d0eae9598532f797e33dedda3 2024-04-19T19:10:23Z April 19. I'm mostly taking next week off from the internet. If you want to go deeper into Monday's subject, it was mainly inspired by two books, Owen Barfield's Saving the Appearances and Beatrice Bruteau's The Psychic Grid, from which I've transcribed a chapter, What is Real?

For the weekend, music. Since I made my Not On Spotify playlist, two of the best songs have appeared on Spotify: Souvenir by Pretty & Twisted, and Summer's Over by Dennis Harte, a 1970 one-shot, through a 2022 compilation of obscurities called Ghost Riders. The same record company made another compilation in 2016, Sky Girl, which led me to this incredible psych folk song, Linda Smith - I So Liked Spring.

I've been wanting to make a playlist of songs that are on Spotify, but have low play counts. Tuesday I got obsessed and went through my mp3 library, picking out likely candidates and looking them up. Play count turned out to be a valuable constraint, because it forced me to go deeper into the discographies of some of my favorite artists, either because their best songs were too popular, or not on Spotify.

This is the first time I've made a playlist with the Spotify interface, and wow, it's much more convenient than downloading and tagging mp3s. But I'll keep doing that, because I don't trust the cloud to hold onto my stuff. I mean, it's right there in the name. What do clouds do?

Anyway, I love this playlist, and I'm calling it Dregs of Spotify. Only one song has over 50k plays, and five of them don't even have enough plays to be counted. Two of those, via YouTube: Rex Holman - Red is the Apple, and a luminous Brazilian instrumental from 1973, Satwa - Valsa dos Cogumelos.

April 17. http://ranprieur.com/#e0b3cdc0defccad306e22107c4af7520177c7b01 2024-04-17T17:50:19Z April 17. Shifting from theoretical to practical metaphysics, I keep running into this idea in very different contexts. First, I saw an interview with an athlete, it might have been Paige Bueckers, who said, in a big game, you can avoid mental jitters by taking your self out of it.

Second, in an anthropology book, The New Science of the Enchanted Universe by Marshall Sahlins, I read this idea: It's not that the gods give fish to the people, but that the gods give fish to the gods, through the people.

Third, determinism. On a propositional level, I don't believe that either matter or mind is fundamentally deterministic. But I also think the modern concept of "free will" is not quite right, because it's tied to the illusion of the self. A better way to frame non-determinism is participation in the creativity of the universal. And on a practical level, determinism does the job of deflating the western heroic ego, and making us humble before the absolute.

April 15. http://ranprieur.com/#07f23daf612e3e8b9bd83d7be92b8d79145d3148 2024-04-15T15:30:39Z April 15. Continuing on aliens, thanks Imre for motivating me to make some images to explain my thinking. On the left we have the materialist view of reality. At the bottom, the most fundamental level, we have space, the physical universe explored by humans. Then, within that space, we have humans and aliens. Above their heads we have human consciousness and alien consciousness.

On the right, we have first-thought psychism. I'm going to call it "psychism" because "idealism" has additional meanings. So there at the bottom, the most fundamental thing, is consciousness. Then, emerging from consciousness, we have space, and within space, we have humans and aliens, each with their own ways of thinking.

To pad my desktop view, I'm putting image credits here. The humans and green alien are from freepik.com; I can't find the original source for consciousness; the galaxy is M31 in Andromeda from Wikimedia commons; alien consciousness is the painting Transverse Line by Kandinsky; and the alien below is from Ophanim by Danilo Wolf.

Now, here's how I see it. Again, the most fundamental thing is consciousness. Then, emerging from consciousness, we have humans and aliens. Above their heads we have their representations of reality. It might be more accurate to put them below, since they are developed through active engagement with the Universal, but I put them above to emphasize that they emerge from the qualities and choices of the two kinds of beings, and that other representations are available.

You could even put other humans in the image, hunter-gatherers with their own representations, weirder to us than outer space, but not as weird as whatever aliens have. My point is that the stuff described by physics is not universal, but peculiar to us. Quoting Donald Hoffman, "We are the authors of space and time; their myriad contents are our impressive stagecraft." Aliens have their own stage, which is why I do not believe we will find any life in space that's intelligent enough to dream a universe.

I'm also wondering, if science is a representation, how much room do we have to represent it differently? I don't think flat earthers could actually make the Earth flat. Quoting Karen Blixen, "the Earth was made round so that we would not see too far down the road." But I wonder if future astronomers will figure out how to imagine space smaller and less hostile, so that it's easier to explore.

April 12. http://ranprieur.com/#f51801307ba0606d9d690015823fc1144322a6a9 2024-04-12T12:00:36Z April 12. Quick note for the weekend. The new Fallout TV series is much better than I expected. They made the right choice in not adapting a story from the game, but writing new a new story in the world of the game, which is the best thing about it. The plot is crude but fun, and they got the world exactly right.

April 11. http://ranprieur.com/#9f9b069f09f3363f718e3e5f588023f123ece03b 2024-04-11T23:50:50Z April 11. Back to the afterlife, thanks Kelby for sending this powerful NDE report, which led me to this long page of exceptional experiences. I've been reading a few at random, and I notice that most of them do not include going down a dark tunnel toward a light. The reason we expect that, is that Raymond Moody, who pioneered NDE research in his 1975 book Life After Life, favored reports that featured tunnels, lights, and dead relatives, because he wanted to reduce the experience to certain common features.

I think it's more interesting to look at the variation. We might imagine that this world is a messy place, from which we return after death to a simple place. Maybe it's the other way around. This is the simple place, and the world beyond is incomprehesibly multifaceted.

Related: Mysterious Drones Swarmed Langley AFB For Weeks. This was a UFO event, and this 2021 article on mystery drone swarms in the midwest goes deeper into the weirdness.

I always think of something John Keel wrote: that UFO researchers are not telling the government what they know. The phenomenon is neither space aliens, nor secret human tech, nor mass delusion, but a manifestation of the incomprehensible world beyond, which appears to us through our own cultural filters. In the 1890s, there were a bunch of sightings of mystery airships.

April 8. http://ranprieur.com/#224b18daca3de91e1def3854fd329c25a8adc2ed 2024-04-08T20:20:35Z April 8. Today, psychology. I want to juxtapose two comments at opposite extremes of social tuning-in. From a 2017 Hacker News thread on being alone, in the context of the Maine hermit:

Coming back into the civilization is similar to someone pointing flashlight into your eyes. So much external triggers for behaviour. Realizing that I'm not actually me with other people and I'm disappearing into network of others. Me with others is mainly just bunch of triggers that fire based on conditioning.

I bookmarked that because I don't relate to it at all. But I somewhat relate to this recent Reddit post on autism:

For instance, whenever I am in a group setting, there's always this sense of confusion/nervousness of not knowing what to say. And trying to figure out what words should come out if my mouth is always something I have to calculate like a robot while also adjusting my body language.

My point is that we tend to assume that other people experience reality the same as us, when they often don't. By the way, I don't identify as autistic, because while I score high on some measures, like not having an autopilot, I score low on others. I'm very good at tuning out distractions, and don't mind doing things spontaneously. This makes me think that autism will turn out to be multiple things when we understand it better. Also, I wonder if people who experience themselves as "a bunch of triggers that fire" are more likely to believe in determinism.

April 5. http://ranprieur.com/#c54f80b1f326b74e37891bb81430574d1fa1c941 2024-04-05T17:50:00Z April 5. I often wish for more overlap between what I feel like doing and what's good for me to do, and this week I got a win. I've been obsessively playing a browser game called Guess My RGB. You move three color sliders to try to match the background color of the screen. Not only is it compelling in the sense that I always want to play one more game, it also has a really satisfying learning curve. At first it was taking me more than ten tries every time, and now I'm usually getting it in five or six. Just by following a compulsion, I've gained more color awareness and color intelligence. I used to think raising the saturation of an image somehow magically added more color. Now I know that it's just spreading out the sliders, moving the high ones higher and the low ones lower. Now, walking around the city, I'll think, that green has some red in it, or that's a really pure blue.

Posted to the subreddit, 'We need to accept the weeds', about a trend in the Netherlands to tear up paving tiles around houses. I'm thinking, why were the tiles put there in the first place? Western aesthetics are shifting, from appreciating human-made cleanness, to appreciating the rough beauty of the non-human-made world.

And To Keyi Toko Zonga is a pretty good new album of psychedelic world music.

April 3. http://ranprieur.com/#edb4af3a8e70278ed860d33f2788dd7759221f2b 2024-04-03T15:30:06Z April 3. Continuing on the afterlife, Matt comments: "What if there are alien metaphysical versions of Libertarian seasteads? Pirate enclaves? Zealous empires? The Borg Collective? Societies that convince you they have all the answers and that their rules should be followed. All between physicality and ultimate unity."

Heraclitus wrote, "After death, nothing expected, nor imagined." That doesn't change my strategy. Even if you don't believe in an afterlife, you can say the same thing about the ordinary future: It's unpredictable, but it's still going to work with what I give it.

Related: a Skunk Ledger post imagining bots making supervirtual speculations about Servers. And a Reddit thread, What is the most profound realization that you have come to while on a psychedelic trip?

April 1. http://ranprieur.com/#dc3b99be5eb2e3bf2113d3f53aadf2bd639353be 2024-04-01T13:10:22Z April 1. Continuing on indigenous metaphysics, lately I've been thinking about the afterlife. I don't plan on dying soon, but neither of my parents made it to 80, despite healthy lifestyles. If I have 20 years left, 2004 was yesterday.

Here's my question. To what extent is the afterlife influenced by culture? According to western metaphysics, not at all. Under materialism, nobody gets an afterlife, and under Christianity, it's the same heaven or hell for everyone. But Sahlins' book is full of examples of hunter-gatherers who continue to maintain empirical relationships with dead ancestors. A dying Walbiri will expect to hang around the living Walbiri, and it would not even occur to them to say that the Mianmin also get the Walbiri afterlife and not the Mianmin afterlife. The idea that other cultures get your culture's afterlife is unusual, presumptuous, and recent.

If we accept that the afterlife is influenced by culture, it opens a really interesting can of worms. Reports of a world beyond this world, from NDEs to psychedelic trips to mathematics, are wildly divergent. We have a lot more options than our ancestors.

That doesn't mean it's a blank slate. If this world is contained in some other world, then probably my story in this world is contained in a story in that world. But in that case, what is the story that contains the story of billions of us being rootless, generations removed from a land-and-ancestor metaphysical context?

My guess is, being a modern human is like being in an airport terminal for consciousness. Probably a lot of people are going straight back to the void, especially if that's what they believe in and wish for. They may be surprised to find that awareness survives nonexistence. A Christian who dies expecting hell might go to a hell-like place, but it won't be eternal, because the fundamental reality is flux.

If you want a Harry Potter afterlife, I doubt you can get it exactly, but there should be a way to at least get the same vibe. I'd love to be a Roger Zelazny landscape-shifting walker, and my attitude is a lot like Pascal's wager. Pascal said, I'm going to believe in a God who will reward or punish me based on that belief, just in case. I'm thinking, I'm going to act as if I'm training for a certain next stage of being, and see how it goes.