Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Anatomy of a Strawman

I know of no antidotal story of anyone ever saying, "There I was, thinking I was going to die, and every NASCAR race I ever watched flashed before my eyes."

Premise 1: There exists enough antidotal evidence to accept the idea that people in 'near death experiences (nde's)' have their "whole lives flash before their eyes".

Qualification of the term 'near death experiences (nde): near death experiences are those that occur when death appears to be imminent, as opposed to 'Near Death Experiences (NDEs)' where the experience is the result of 'clinical death'. nde's occur when your car is sliding out of control; your facing the long fall, which you survive, from a collapsing bridge, whatever...It does not necessarily include the testimonies of people who actually underwent clinical death; 'died'.

If the above premise is valid, than there exists some unknown mechanism that gives humans the ability to recall all life experiences during some life threatening events, but apparently, not all events, and not everyone reports this type of experience.

When I mentioned that I had never heard of anyone reporting NASCAR memories in their reports of ndes to an acquaintance, he said, "But, does every play of every game ever coached flash before someone like Bear Bryant('s) eyes in that instant before death?"


So, I thought to myself, 'well, maybe it's the participatory events - those where a person actually makes a decision which 'determines' or just influences the out come of events - maybe, those are the ones that flash before our eyes at the end of mortal experience?' This supposes that we can influence or even determine the outcome of events.

However, I then pondered on and thought perhaps purely 'observational' experiences of events within our sensory environment might also leave impressions on the ego/self(?) strong enough to re-impress themselves during that last flash; the first time you saw 'X' - you might recall that...The first time you saw a bird turn sideways in flight to grab a blackberry off a vine, or the first sunset at the new house, or your first sighting of a naked member of the other gender, whatever; these would be non-participatory events that still might rise to the surface of 'my life flashed before my eyes.'

So, then the question arises, or an analysis is required, of 'what actually flashed'? Was it the entirety of existence (that particular individual's sum of the 'temporal' experience of their life to that point)? Or, is it actually a composite of only 'important' events?

Is the entirety of 'life experience' that flashes in an instant a partially or entirely subjective process? If a "choice" is involved, it raises important what/who/why/how/when ('when' may be the most important) questions:

What content, if any, is "chosen"?
If no active choice is/was involved, what determines the impact/value of any particular event?
Is the entire life presented without regard to a system of 'values' and/or is there a gradience of felt impact based on the perceived emotional content of an event?
Can this be achieved at will? If not, why not?
Why does the experience appear to be common, but not universal?

If all of an individual's life experience can be 're-experienced' in an instant, was the original flow/experience of temporality necessary? So, for instance, can 40 years of life flash through the 'ego's/self's(?)' 'conscious/unconscious/nonconscious etc.' past memories in virtually zero time or even literally in no time?

Actually, based on Einstein's X Theory of Relativity, time is relative to the observer's orientation and motion in reference to the observed. Theoretically, vents in my future may well lie in your past, and visa versa. It is not scientific heresy to state that all time already, and simultaneously exists, and it is only we that experience time. Physics calculations work just fine forward and backward, the arrow of time resides with the observer.

A little further down the rabbit hole...

Premise 2: Everything, including past and future, does exist simultaneously in the form of space/dimensional/time coordinates.

You still exist as the three year old that just threw a slice of birthday cake at the birthday boy at his 4th birthday. You could relive this experience if you had the ability to determine which space/dimensional/time coordinates you wished to focus on. Taking this a step further, this should also apply to the you that is 80 years old and just drooled on your bib in the cafeteria of the nursing home where you will one day reside. What determines the information you experience? Why does it appear to be presented in a temporal sequence?

First leg of a strawman...

The Big Bang, Hyperinflation, or whatever mechanism is responsible for the existence of the universe happened outside of our understanding of time. All of the 'events' occurred simultaneously, or in a span of a Planck unit of time. You have already lived your entire life! So why are you still here experiencing events that have already occurred?

I am not familiar enough with Jung, Freud, or any other specific school of psychology to be comfortable using one of their vocabularies. So, I will use the terms in a way that I am comfortable, and should they bear similarity to any particular school or appear to be a 'borrowed' hodge podge of several, they probably do and are. In fact, all of the terms, the available vocabulary, seems to carry a great deal of definitional baggage. All of the words that are obviously at hand, soul, mind, consciousness, subconsciousness, karma, ki, chi, id, ego, self, being, entity, etc., potentially prejudice the reader.

For now, I will restrict myself to making a distinction between the ego and the self. Time is the process used by the ego to apply value to the actions taken by the self. The self lived this life. The self has already taken all action. The self has made all the decisions. The self exists outside the constraints of time. The self has created the ego's fate.

The ego, through the mechanism of experiential time, provides/determines the qualitative value of the life lived. The ego does this by determining/influencing which of the infinite streams of data available in its environment to process; this is done by 'selecting' the (borrowing heavily from my dimly recollected photography and physics classes) the filters, (sensory, emotional, and (?)), and the fields of focus.

There exists an ‘ongoing’ relationship between the self and the ego. Does the self choose the level of interaction between the two divisions i.e., does the self choose the ‘times’, or even the space/dimensional/time coordinates - the events - to which the ego function is applied to provide value to events?

The talk by Neuroanatomist, Brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor may provide some insight into the conundrum of trying to define the potential relationship. I cited this video in a comment at Michael Prescott's Blog with the comment that it appeared to support a reductionist view of the mind/body relationship. Michael Hall provided the comment that “someone(?)” was choosing the involvement level between the left and right hemispheres of the brain (I won't even try to find this specific comment as it is many months old).

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