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The Case Against Reality

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When the male Australian Jewel Beetle searches for a female it follows a few very simple rules. "Look for something brown, shiny and dimpled".

It so happened that discarded beer bottles, of a certain type, had these characteristics. The species almost went extinct (before the design of the bottled was altered) as males ignored females and swarmed on the bottles - they were bigger after all!

Back when the beetle's perception system evolved there was nothing else in the environment that that had these characteristics, so additional rules such as 'look for something beetle shaped' were unnecessary.

Donald Hoffman in his book The Case Against Reality argues that our perceptions, are like this.

Do we see the world as it truly is? Hoffman says no. We see what we need in order to survive. Our perceptions are not a window onto reality, but instead are interfaces constructed by natural selection.

Just as an email icon, on our computer desktop, tells us next to nothing about th…

The lights are on

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The world, the universe, is full to the brim with wonders. The most amazing of all, to my mind, is one that everyone has access to every morning as soon as they wake up - consciousness. It's a puzzle that continues to baffle science. How does matter come together in such a way that suddenly the 'lights are on'. How does the collection of atoms in our brains become aware - so that it's 'like something' to be us. And just what *is* a sensation? Take the sensations of hearing a bird singing. The physics and biology of the process are well known. The bird uses energy - originally from the sun - to move the muscles in its vocal organ - this in turn moves air molecules. Some of these enter our ear, vibrating the eardrum and causing nerve impulses to be sent to the brain where they are interpreted - sensed as bird song *Sensed as bird song* - this final part is where the "miracle" happens. Just what is the birdsongness of bird song, the greeness of green, t…

Celebrating the New Year with a fine display of willow catkins

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I've just been out sowing some music

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I've just been out on the patch sowing some music - been planting some staves on the patch.
The idea is that it generates a piece of music - environmental / accidental music. Ideally things will fall onto the staves or they'll be marked / weathered in some way that will be playable as notes - even better if i can use something from the place to make the sounds Possibly using similar techniques to the Dog Rose Dance I made previously - see below. I've no idea if will yield anything - or if it does how I'll 'play' it, or if I'll be able to find them again or if they're still where I left them. Anyway if felt good to be out in the sun planting music to see what comes up.



You were only waiting for this moment to be free - entirely Blackbird samples

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"You were only waiting for this moment to be free"
All the sounds are samples of Blackbird - song and calls - treated in various ways.
The melody is 'Blackbird' by the Beatles


This is "She moved over the moor"
The Irish traditional folk song 'She moved through the fair' - performed by Curlews....joined by other moorland birds - Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Golden Plover, Snipe, Merlin & Hen Harrier.

Everything is new all the time

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I’ve walked on the small corner of our planet – the one I call ‘my patch’ – maybe a thousand times. I’ve crossed this unexceptional parcel of land nearly every day for the last few years. The same path from the cemetery on to the old abandoned golfcourse - nothing to see here. The track that becomes muddy in autumn’s rain and seems want to stay muddy long after dryness has come back into fashion. But wait... It’s never been muddy quite like this. I’ve had to skirt round it, clinging to dry parts – but never quite in this way. And look at those thistles, that arrangement of spikey seedheads, one in front, two behind. And the way they seem to slide past the willows at the back, as I walk by – I’ve never, ever seen that – it's a totally new thing.What about that beech tree trunk, with its network of byways made of darker bark as it dries out after rain...brand-new.


I find that the dullest of days, the most uninspiring of scenes can be completely and instantly transformed by the simple act…

Here there should be wood

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Here there should be wood

here there should be wood but there's me instead
standing up in a lightning struck hollow
I am Jonah, the oak tree is a whale and then I am part-whale cavity walls, skin of lizard, fire-crack black
algal green overlay on crosshatch-fractures looking is ushered upwards, sight shot out
skyward, straight though a peephole the tree, now Cyclops by dint of my eyes
human senses added to those old oaken ones
making eleven in all seeing itself for the first time branches jacknifed to injured chevrons
boughs, whole chunks of tree, strewn dead and dying
like fallen comrades on a battlefield damage surveyed, I hatch out of the tree
there's nothing it didn't already know

A year of meditation

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I’m nearing 12 moths of consistent daily mediation. I thought it would be good to take stock and see where this has brought me, and that this might be interesting to share.

I’ve been interested in meditation for, what now what amounts to, decades. Almost my default New Year’s resolution would be: “this is the year I’m definitely going to take up meditation”. An initial burst of enthusiasm would tail off after a few weeks, nearly always down to a seeming lack of ‘results’. Where were the advertised benefits – the ones that would ‘sort me out’ once and for all! A big part of what I was looking for a cure for anxiety – a constant companion, sometimes a pronounced feeling of worry, sometimes a more subtle sense of unease…an ever-present. The Mind Illuminated For nearly every day of this year I’ve managed to meditate for an hour. I have developed what would have seemed at the beginning to be a super power - the ability to stay with the meditation object (which was the breath to start with) …

The Mist

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the mist
the mist came down last night, came in softly
a drowned world between here and Winter Hill just spires and tree tops jutting out above;
archipelago in Pacific fog grey but lustrous - has eroded edges
all the gaps are filled with mother of pearl the middle-willow distance gone over,
lightly stippled with a softening brush so watercolours run, bleeding into
tump-grassy nearby and all that's behind words are becoming detached corner first
shaking free, the children are leaving home what used to be a branch is shedding nouns
twig, leaf, acorn and bark have now all gone borders dissolved and separation smudged
all of it replaced with a sea of this the sun comes at last pooling rosy mist
white whips tilt and float up, slow and steady a flock of birds drops down reattaching
returning to things, the birds are words














"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower"

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A trudge becomes a treasure hunt

One of my favourite things is to be doing something - it happens most of when walking on the patch - feeling uninspired, maybe bored - then completely turning it around.

...a thoroughly dull and grey, uninspiring October morning with little of interest. Then I noticed something new - the wonderful way leaves were turning autumnal.

The fantastic patterns and combinations of colours were unique to each. Suddenly this beauty was all around. I started looking for the best ones. A weary trudge had become a treasure hunt, I had a autumnal spring in my step.

This isn't hidden beauty in the way maybe some inaccessible wonder deep in a cave is hidden - it was there all along. It's only hidden until we see it.

It's everywhere.

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower" - Albert Camus











This Skylark will change your life

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Yesterday, on my patch walk, I saw a skylark perched on a wall. I stopped to watch it for a while and took a photograph.

It occurred to me that this bird has changed my life. All the subsequent moments after seeing the lark would have been slightly different had it not been there. And all those lark-rearranged causes and conditions will continue to cascade into the future.

But what about the Skylark. It was only there, at that place and that time, because of a host of factors. That insect, would have influenced it – the one that laid its eggs, hatching into lark food….and that insect foodplant…

And so it goes on. A ‘world wide web’ – an infinity of interconnections. Ripples on ripples.

Yesterday a friend on Facebook kindly posted a link to an article he thought would interest me. This reminded me of a documentary I’d seen before, which I then re-watched. My life will never be quite the same simply because of the handful of keystrokes and clicks he carried out on his computer.

And what abou…

Microcosmic!

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You scan the horizon, your view an expanse of hill, field and sky, then you focus in on a detail, maybe a bird or a tree. Does your perceptual world contract to a shrunken fragment?  No, it stays the same size or maybe even expands.  As your attention homes in, so there is a mental blossoming – what was coarse-grained becomes finescale.  Uniform  Mondrian blocks show their true nature as a filigree of delicate tracery.

Like a baby in a pram, whose universe consists of its mother and perhaps some toys, it seems limited,  but this is the canvas upon which the everything plays out – all the sights smells and sounds to feed the baby’s developing brain.

And this is what I’ve found when I’ve concentrated on a ‘patch' - my mind is focussed  - I've gone microcosmic!



My first incarnation as a patch watcher was enforced.  A decade long stretch of chairbound  illness largely confined me to a living room.  My patch was the view through the window.  I had swapped the people, job, relations…

The News

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the news broke around six o'clock
robins heard it first plucked colours from their breasts
then sang it to the dark that coloured the tiny parts exposed
by dawn's needle
etching clouds chinese whispered the light
held on to it for a while
then passed it on leaking ochre rumours
bleeding into flame the hills heard the word lifted the veil
but slowly a star burst the horizon
flooded a piece of it fireworked the fields
crackerjacked through trees fireflied the mist
even glow wormed webs the news broke around six o'clock
everyone knew by seven

Life is great!

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This a lot of life - where did it come from?
I sometimes find it instructive to look at an area and think what it would like without the living things. In short it would look similar to the dead, rocky surface of the moon.

Life has bestowed upon this, would be, barren surface a green cloak of living organisms. The breathing, growing, reproducing, eating, feeding, singing, scurrying, flying, flowering, beautiful exuberance – that is nature...

…and it all originates in space. Green plants trap the sun’s energy by photosynthesis allowing living things to rearrange atoms on the earth into living structures. These atoms ultimately originated in “The Belly of a Star” - almost every element on Earth was formed at the heart of a star.

I put a video explaining this process in a previous post Wren Song an Echo of the big bang

How were these numbers arrived at?


Birds
I know the numbers of birds on the patch more accurately than any other group as I’ve counted them! So I can say with a reasonable…