Your Brain as Victorian Attic Full of Mismatched Clocks

12 07 2011

At Culture Kitchen I once wrote “We the Clockkeepers: Our Tyranny of Time”, about losing our natural wild time and how over the centuries of civilization we’ve learned the hard way that “the keeper of my time is my keeper.”

Then today I saw a neuroscientist interviewed about each brain being a fingerprint and thinking with complex, layered ways and means uncontrolled by, unknown to and largely unknowable by ourselves even as we are actively in the middle of it.

So I wanted to connect the two, maybe keep my subconscious (my real keeper?) from putting them where I couldn’t find them again!

The question raises a fundamental issue of consciousness: how much of what we perceive exists outside of us and how much is a product of our minds? Time is a dimension like any other, fixed and defined down to its tiniest increments: millennia to microseconds, aeons to quartz oscillations. Yet the data rarely matches our reality. . .

Why does time slow down when we fear for our lives? Does the brain shift gears for a few suspended seconds and perceive the world at half speed, or is some other mechanism at work?

. . . Just how many clocks we contain still isn’t clear. The most recent neuroscience papers make the brain sound like a Victorian attic, full of odd, vaguely labelled objects ticking away in every corner.

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22 responses

13 07 2011
bpbproadrunner

Our perception of time slows down during threatening moments, because we need to think quicker. And in this altered state of consciousness we are able to {hopefully} observe, discern and manipulate what might otherwise be considered unimportant minutiae that occur in the millisecond range.

And yes, the corporate keepers of our time are our keepers. America’s woes can be traced back to something called time poverty. We work too long hours for too little benefits, and that includes time off, and pay. Our gadgets that were supposed to “make” more time or “save time” have instead been incorporated into causing us to take work home with us {convenient for bosses but bad for families} where we work off the clock to keep our edge and hopefully our job in an insecure work environment. See http://www.timeday.org/

13 07 2011
JJ

AND in good ways, we lose perception of time and consciousness when experiencing “flow.” It’s happened to me many times through my life even as a child, and as a parent now, I’d claim it as the very best power of story in our unschooling lifestyle!

“You feel completely at home. Self-consciousness is blocked. You’re one with the music.

The good life consists of the roots that lead to flow. It consists of first knowing what your signature strengths are and then recrafting your life to use them more — recrafting your work, your romance, your friendships, your leisure, and your parenting to deploy the things you’re best at. What you get out of that is not the propensity to giggle a lot; what you get is flow, and the more you deploy your highest strengths the more flow you get in life.”

13 07 2011
JJ

Just remembering the old joke about how giving up things like drinking and dessert doesn’t actually make you live longer. It just makes it SEEM longer! 😉

14 07 2011
bpbproadrunner

I had forgotten about the flow. And yes, that is a lovely sensation. I have gotten that while making art and while walking and hiking, or swimming long distances etc.,

14 07 2011
COD

Dale McGowan wrote about flow and how parents (and school) tend to interrupt flow by dragging kids off to the next class or event just as they are getting into the flow of whatever they are doing.
http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog/?p=2449

14 07 2011
JJ

Chris, you lamb, thank you! I was trying to remember where my subconscious put THAT . . .

It began to occur to me that the descriptions of flow experiences (including the feeling of being at one with everything or experiencing total peace) paralleled the descriptions of transcendent spiritual experiences, including meditation.

Finding activities that put you into the flow experience, then, can provide a secular equivalent to “spirituality”—something that lifts you out of everyday experience. You might say I’m flowy, but not religious.

Some thoughts from Molleen in Raising Freethinkers about how parents can facilitate the flow experience in their kids—and how we often get in the way:

14 07 2011
A Musical Theatre Unschooler’s Ode to Last Harry Potter Premiere « Cocking A Snook!

[…] I woke up this morning to discover — posted as a new note on his FaceBook page — what Young Son had been up to all night. Talk about flow! […]

14 07 2011
bpbproadrunner

You know, similar thoughts occurred to me about school and flow interruption. That happened while in college for art. Just as I was getting comfortable with a new medium, they would want me to switch. It was maddening.

And I must say, as a culture we really cannot complain about the lack of an adequate attention span in children and youth, if we do not allow them the opportunities to develop such faculties. Being in an environment which encourages and allows for *Flow would certainly be a huge step in the correct direction.

14 07 2011
bpbproadrunner

No seriously, that is a major breakthrough for me with the art school. I have said the words, but not made the connection quite like I have today. Thank you Thank you Thank you all!

14 07 2011
JJ

We’re here to help (well, when we’re not goofing around) 😉

Now use that to make learning even more wonderful for your kids!

14 07 2011
JJ

Beep, btw seeing you mention art — is it possible you have another blog oriented to art, and that you might have posted a comment here under that user name? If that’s you, I’ll be glad to approve it from the new-user moderation queue.

15 07 2011
bpbproadrunner

Oh yea that was me. I didn’t realize it would do that. I am not the most computer savvy thing on this planet. And if I am up late, poking around in my subconscious and drinking way too much coffee and then one thing leads to another and then there were all these clocks….etc., 😉

I need to e-mail you so I can give you the password so you can look at the pictures. I don’t like to post my artwork on the net right now. Long story.

Anyhow it looks as if the Curiouser Blog is staying right where it is for now. I think that WordPress requires more skills than blogger and that is why it gives me such fits.

17 07 2011
JJ

From “Why Fencing Knickers Make Me Feel at Home”:

Who are we, really — just where we are now or also where we were, where we hope to be? What we have with us at the moment and can show, or also what we’ve collected over time, even if we can’t get at it or forgot where we put it?

And I can stretch “who are we through time” to include how one timeless character is played AT different ages by many real people IN different ages, and conversely one real person plays many different characters through time:

[COD] I’m introducing Breck to Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time.

Him. “Hey Indiana Jones looks familiar.”
Me: “Really?”
Him: “That’s Han Solo!”

I think that was the first moment he realized actors played more than one part.

[JJ] Good story!

It makes me feel old though. When I saw the original Star Wars (in the theatre, late 70s, right?) my thought upon seeing Han Solo was, oh, it’s the drag racer from American Graffiti, and the gum-chewing girl kept saying about him, “Ain’t he neat?”. . . btw I saw him in a new movie trailer the other day looking very long in the tooth. 😉

17 07 2011
JJ

And of course, like it or not timeless characters change and are changed through time, even when no one is playing them (or their music) at all . . .and who’s to say which time is the most real, or ever was real in the first place?

What follows is completely true and yet unreal:
Stephen Foster met Uncle Ben in my radio reverie this morning. For real, or so it seemed. (Y’all know I hear odd connections in that place between asleep and awake.)

Two southern stories that seem literally black and white, but turn out to be anything but!

19 07 2011
JJ

Comes new from NPR, ha! Right up our snook: “The Physics Of Cloaking Time, Space And Experience”

Last week researchers at Cornell University announced they had created a time cloaking device. Using their machine they could hide an event from detection, even if it occurred in plain view of very capable detectors.

This “time cloaking” experiment comes on the heels of a series of results over the last few years of “space cloaking” technologies in which a stationary object could be made invisible to detectors.

Both experiments rely on the complex realization of a simple truth about our experience of the world. We have no “direct” knowledge of the world . . .

12 10 2011
JJ

The Future of Time:

What does it mean to be a time-bender? It begins by recognizing that the creation of new human times is a creative act. It means using whatever opportunities our lives afford (limited as they may be) to opt out of the old time-logic and create a new one. . . . time-bending means willfully stepping back from the imagined urgencies your culture handed you. How many activities does your child need to be part of? . . How about keeping some version of a Sabbath — a day where you don’t buy anything or drive anywhere or accomplish any damn thing? Finally, and most important, how about just slowing down?

. . . The point, ultimately, is that a new time [is] coming, whether we want it or not. If we want it, we can, in our own way, try and shape our new time into something that just might make our own lives more mindful, more connected and more meaningful.

Unschooling as revolutionary time travel! 🙂

13 10 2011
JJ

“What we do know is that we’re living in the twilight of the big bang.
We’re nearing the end of time as we know it now and as we live it now.”

13 10 2011
Nance Confer

As historian Peter Galison has shown, Einstein’s day job was evaluating designs for electromechanical time-coordination devices.

*********

I didn’t know this. I always thought of the patent office job as being completely disconnected from Einstein’s work.

Nance

13 10 2011
JJ

Cool, huh? 😀

13 10 2011
JJ

As I always say, everything is connected!

13 10 2011
Nance Confer

And I’m never too old to learn. 🙂

13 10 2011
JJ

That’s what makes you an ideal unschool mom . . . 😀

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