Blindsight

(Viewpoint of the impossibly enlightened observer.)

Several times in a continuum, quite close by, there was an accident. Indeed accidents, an ignorance of the facts as they stood, was a commonly used term to describe events beyond the questioning ability of the relevant questioner. (This circularity is what you get when a language designed to describe crop rotation and mass violence is used for more abstract concepts like personality, god and sunsets; it quite brutalises and hence oversimplifies everything.) Of these accidents, the majority proved to involve intelligences that felt themselves qualified to judge what an accident was, and hence most accidents involved them. A curious subset of these accidents injured the cogitating, judging faculty itself, by penetrating its hard protective shell and separating minor millions of the billions of the organic connections that made up the entity that claimed to judge. These injuries took many forms; the most relevant to the conception of the judging faculty is, perhaps, blindsight.

Blindsight is an injury to the visual part of the brain that afflicts individuals in different ways, because of the way cerebral lesions are sustained; however the patient often appears to all immediately discernible results blind.

Paul is a blindsight patient. We are fortunate to know Paul, because Paul suffered a motorcycle accident that thrust a length of piping (formerly the handlebars of his bike) into his brain in such a way that only his perceptual apparatus was damaged. Paul is otherwise in fine shape, but blind.

Or at least he appears blind. He cannot see a shape in front of him; lights flashed in his eyes produce reflex responses, the circular iris muscles tightening as in love, but he reported no perceptual stimulus nor, indeed, feelings of love. Show a colour to Paul’s blind side, say ginger, and he sees nothing; he cannot judge the colour, he doesn’t know what it is, he has no idea of the shape.

However.

Give Paul two choices of what the colour is – say, ginger and maroon – and tell him to guess; and Paul will, over 80% of the time, pick the exact colour being waved in front of his blind eyes. He has no conscious perception of the colour, doesn’t know if he’s right or wrong, thinks he’s just guessing. His mind, a Schrodinger box, doesn’t appear to have any input; but how to be sure?

Well, doing MRI scans of his brain while he’s perceiving colour show that his perceptual apparati aren’t working; indeed, they’re not there, carved out by careless driving personified by the wonderfully collapsible handlebars of his BSM.

What is stimulated, curiously, is an alternate route. Paul has no conception of what he is seeing; but what you Freudians will want to call the id, the unconscious, knows and acts and hints to the conscious mind.

Of course, this is fascinating. What else does the unconscious mind hint to the conscious; pheromonal activity?

Can the mind be trained to make this conscious, as with other unconscious activity?

More importantly, how much of the iceberg is beneath the waterline? How much of the behaviour of the human animal in society is down to this inscrutable black box? What exactly does this secondary mind want, what motivates it? (Dawkin’s selfish genes? A search for god? Societal survival?); are we just masks worn by this cunning homunculus?

(What if the little being dreams of the godlike stimulus of oxygen deprivation before the thinking organism succumbs? What a motive, a true death-wish, your ignorant unconscious trying to kill off its parasitic personality, the removal of that veneer that we want to call humanity, like a cat scratching a flea collar.)

Ynetnews – News – Army frowns on Dungeons and Dragons: “Thousands of youth and teens in Israel play D&D, fighting dragons and demons using their rich imaginations. The game has also increased in popularity due to the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy.

However the IDF does not approve of this unusual hobby and prevents D&D players from being considered for sensitive army positions by labeling them with low security clearance.

‘We have discovered that some of them are simply detached from reality,’ a security source told Ynet.

Game enthusiasts are aware of their problematic image in the army and prefer to maintain their anonymity. Many of them are from the former Soviet Union, where the game is very popular… ‘One of the tests we do, either by asking soldiers directly or through information provided us, is to ask whether they take part in the game,’ he [A security official] says. ‘If a soldier answers in the affirmative, he is sent to a professional for an evaluation, usually a psychologist.'”

UK Resistance SP: “‘New Games Journalism’ is a way of writing about games centred around how GREAT the writer is, how long he can write for in one go and how many books he knows about and films he’s seen.

It is also a big, stinking, cesspile of used condoms and nonsense. Here’s why.”

and Jonty seems to have agreed…

Ideal project: “NGJ as it stands at the moment is a step beyond into faux-literary pretension. As a defined movement it’s both uneccesary and unwittingly demeaning; a validation for any gamer who has spent hours spent playing shitty RPGs and mediocre FPSs and understanding appalling gags like ‘sword of +4 sarcasm’ and lame previews that had to be enthusiastic about games you knew were going to be terrible. It turns out it was all okay! No more little boxes listing the publisher and the maximum number of players; it’s a literary movement, worthy of lots of self-important discussion.”