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Beyond Pandora

Beyond simple curiosity, this is Thinking Too Much. If you're interested in philosophy and/or wild theories, you've come to the right place.

Location: Australia

Paddling somewhere between a mad scientist and an organisational artist. Indecisive, inconsistent and often incoherent.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


Today, while I was waiting for my sister to board a plane to Brisbane, I realised that I couldn't think in colour.

(Connection? What connection?)

Anyway, I was feeling very out of sorts and had a headache of the throbbing variety. My train of thought went something like this:

"Argh, my head... Maybe it's because there are so many things here happening at once. Maybe if I concentrate on nothing it will go away. So... think empty thoughts. White thoughts. But, hang on, I don't want to think too much about NOT having a headache, because that will make me think about having a headache. Not white thoughts, then. Blue thoughts, maybe. Hmm... blue, cold, other stuff... I associate too much stuff with blue. Maybe I should think orange thoughts, because I don't really associate anything with orange. Hmm... what does orange look like again?'

It was at that point that I began to realise that, regardless of what I had told myself when the question had popped up in English class in high school, I actually couldn't think in colour.

I kept looking around at different objects, like the bright blue bin next to the plane, and trying to reconstruct them with my eyes closed. I would get a quick impression of colour and shape, but I couldn't actually envisage 'blue'. It was more like I was seeing the bin and telling myself 'blue'. (For that matter, I probably wasn't actually seeing the bin, but that's a different discussion)

The most telling example was when I tried to envision the black strap of my camera bag on the faded black of my t-shirt. They are clearly different shades when seen with the eyes, but with my mind I cannot imagine different shades of black. I met with some success trying to tell myself that my shirt was a shade of grey, but trying to fix an image of two different blacks was just a mental impossibility.

Meanwhile, I've been reading a book, 'Out of Control', by Kevin Kelly, about concepts of future technologies. In the book, he presents the idea that complex systems do not have a central control system. Instead, each piece of the system merely does it's job independently of the others, and it is only to an outside observer that the system seems a unified whole. Like the Internet. Like a swarm of bees. Like our social heirarchy (Town, State, Nation). Like our own brains.

The idea that our minds are really just a bunch of independent associations seems to fit in with my lack of mental colour. My two black shades cannot be imagined as two different things because I only have a single set of associations that is 'black'. If I name both things 'black', the same associations will arise for both and I 'see' the same picture. I have no way of defining the difference bar visual inspection.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Unable to sleep early this morning, I got up and typed.

Be thankful that I realised my spiel was too long to post here. :)

The gist of it was this:

After checking on my choices for Uni, I realised that my course wasn't all I'd thought it would be - that it wouldn't teach me the practical skills used to put together or repair electronic devices, just the science, the theory, and the design skills.

Dad says the practical skills are the work of a technician; the theoretical, an engineer.

I decided If I was to study an engineering course at uni, I'd want the practical skills to go with it - and the usual way to study as a technician is to become an apprentice and/or study a TAFE course. I decided that this would be easier if I were to stay here, rather than move to the big city, as I would for uni.

My brother was of the opinion that I should study as an engineer first, and then as a technician, but he's been trying to get me out of the house and in Brisbane for a long time now. He thinks I should move regardless of what I study.

So I've been tossing up between engineering in Brisbane, and technician here, and with three days to change my preferences... I was not a happy chappie.

But the deadline has passed, and I submitted my application with Engineering in Brisbane at the top of the list, and Engineering here second (so that if I stayed here and trained as a technician, I would also be learning some of the skills of an engineer - even though you can't really specialise in Electronics at the university here). This means that I will probably be offered the Brisbane course in January, and if I decide against it I will probably be offered the course here in the second round. I'd bought myself time to think.

But the biggest problem I've encountered since I started thinking about doing Engineering has been motivation. There isn't any there. I mean, I definitely have an interest in Electronics, but if it was a serious passion, I'd be more interested than I am in reading the books Mum brings home from the library on the subject.

I've learned from high school that I can't be taught when my heart isn't in it. I'll babble my way through assingments, having not really understood the subject at all. Perhaps they'll see through the babble at uni, but that won't force me to understand the subject.

And I don't think I really have a passion for anything. Not electronics. Probably not acting - I don't think I'd ever have the will to force myself to find work in the industry. Music and writing are possibilities, but I don't have the skills for music, have never before shown a consistent drive for writing, and both areas are so difficult to build a career out of.

I can't think of anything that I would wholeheartedly leap at the chance to study. And although that worries me, it doesn't compare to the realisation that I might not have the motivation to do the things that I want when there is no-one pushing me to do it. As I was reminded by Pickwick a short time back, this is the difference between living and existing.

Passion. Motivation. Action.

And I find that I'm just existing.

I need to try to make myself live. The cleaning out of my room to help my focus has been part of that, but it's not enough.

I want to move out of home. Although the distractions of my family are (usually) welcome, I need to know that I can keep going without them. I need to stop depending on them to push me along. I need to buy and cook my own food, rather than taking it from where it magically appears in the fridge. I need to take care of my own clothes, wash my own dishes, provide for myself and live for myself. If I become financially dependent on my own money, I should be more motivated to find myself a job. If I become dependent on myself for transport, I should be more motivated to get my driver's lisence.

And if moving out doesn't make me any more motivated... then maybe I'm doomed to existence.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Australia's Third-Favourite Book

I was raised and brought up a Christian, but I've been one only in name for a long time now.
This is a large part of the why:

Christianity is based on the idea that Jesus was both human and divine (God). The only proof there is to support this is in the Bible.

You can argue back and forth forever about the validity of the Bible, but the truth is that you can never know for sure because you were not there when it was written.
The Bible cannot be proved to be either true or false, in the same way that no one will be able to prove (for example) that Jane Eyre is fact or fiction 2000 years from now. The difference is that Jane Eyre's story is not of earth-shattering importance. (Important, yes, but not earth-shattering)

IF we assume that everything that the Bible says about Jesus is absolutely true, then early Christianity was the only true religion. But that doesn't change the fact that religions evolve and branch out over the years as the original intentions are slanted one way or another. There is no reason to believe that Modern Christianity is any closer to Early Christianity than any other breakaway religion is. If Jesus had the Truth, then I'm sure that Truth has been lost by now.

And that is not good enough for me. I'm not prepared to sacrifice myself - or other people - for a religion that is either based in fiction, or is one that has gradually lost its truth over the 2000 years since it's conception. And I'm not prepared to think that people who would do just that are at all reasonable.

But - and this is the important point that I want to make - even if it can be proven that somewhere along the line, someone has made something up (if Jesus had been telling a huge lie, or if events of Jesus' life had been altered to suit the authors, or if Jesus himself is entirely fictional), then we are probably still better off for having the Bible, because it provides us with that ideal - a person who works for good beyond his/her own life. That is a hero we need to know about, think about, and argue about - whether or not they are real.

...So, on reflection, I don't mind so much that The Bible beat Harry Potter, Cloudstreet and The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy on Australia's Favourite Book list.

Saturday, December 04, 2004


No, this is not another post on how nakedness causes you to lose concentration.

This is a post on how nakedness causes you to GAIN concentration. heh heh heh...

No, not in the way you're thinking.

I spent most of today (starting at about 1am, actually) clearing out my room of anything festive or decorative, acting under the theory that I am doing so little because I lack focus and get distracted too easily.

Now if I'm in the middle of something and I look around the room, all I can see are other projects that I need to finish. So whatever I do, I'll be productive!

(Sigh) It's so boring.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Musing: Understanding/Comprehension

A fair while ago now, Casyn put this contradictory statement into my head: "I understand, but I don't comprehend". (I didn't realise at the time that he was quoting from Joss Whedon's 'Firefly' series) The puzzle has stuck in my mind for a long time since...

...and I finally think I've got it! Perhaps the difference between understanding and comprehension is the greater context behind whatever you are finding the meaning of.

For example, you can know that blue and yellow make green, but you won't necessarily know why. So do you understand that blue and yellow make green?

...That seems a muddled way of describing it. Hmm. Okay...

"Don't do that!"

You certainly understand what the words mean, but if your immediate response is, "Don't do what?", then the full meaning hasn't been transferred from the speaker to you. You don't comprehend.

A mismatch between words and meaning...

Do you comprehend?

Musing: Good Reasons To Wear Clothes

a) Clothes keep you warm when it's cold
b) Some clothes protect you from harm
c) If no-one ever wore clothes, people would be thinking about sex a whole lot more, and wouldn't be concentrating on other things. When everyone is wearing clothes, people are a lot more productive.

Who I Am: Possibility

I spend forever to decide on anything. I like to 'hear both sides of the tale', and consider all options before deciding. All options.
And once I decide something, it is far from set in concrete. My opinions and priorities change, and so I will repeat the process again and again, under a different light and through different eyes each time.

I am a professional drifter; I do whatever grabs my attention at the time. If I don't complete a task as soon as possible, something else will capture my mind and I'll lose the motivation to do the first thing - meaning that I'll often leave things unfinished.
I don't like to be tied down and wrapped up in routine; yet, like most people, I stick to what I'm comfortable with. Isn't that a way of tying myself down?

I have the potential to be a jack of all trades; I could choose to study just about anything, and do it well. But I don't feel like there are many things that could keep my attention long enough for me to master the skills. But I want to develop skills that will allow me to do something that is new, that is only me. I want to create and explore, not just imitate.