Re: [-empyre-] self-modification, emergence

many years ago, I happened on an article by Roger Sperry - I can't for the
life of me recall the title - but I believe the ideas he expressed to be
somewhat apropos as regards the theorisation of consciousness. He proposed
in the article that consciousness ought to be both embedded (here embodied,
although he used the term 'nested') and emergent (cf. Stephen Jones's highly
informative article - Sperry's concerns seem to overlap). I have only a
partial recollection of the details of his work but have found it invaluable
in my own artistic practice, if only on its poetic merits.

Further, Sperry referred to the 'downward hiearchical' working of 'nested'
consciousness(es) and - because the main part of his investigation proper
dealt with bi-cameral lesions - he tended to cut the cake [sic] both ways as
regards physicalist and mentalist explanations.

The image I drew from his work and still find compelling is that of
consciousness pub-crawling the physical substratum for a conducive
environment. His work - and I have not been exposed to a great deal of the
literature since - also dealt with the dodgier terrain (and purely
conjecturally) of organising principles within the downward-acting nested
hierarchies of conscious physical/mental activity.

He seemed to indicate - to this reader at least - the possibility of a
com-plication of physical and mental factors in the discernment of
neurological 'pathways' as conducive to nested higher-brain function,
wherein belief-structures might play a role. This in turn recalls for me
Freud's image of hot fluid on the jellied brains of post-WWI trauma victims
as it flows in and follows ever more materially circumscribed runnels and
courses, returning the traumatised obsessively to the source of the trauma.

To skate lightly for a second over this icy arena, gouged out with heated
argument, might not - before such things enter into the ideographs of
scientific knowledge - the mental have a sort of capping function on the
generative physical and describe a place, perhaps only for the sake of
language, where materials and energy are conserved (say, in a jelly-like
state) before the limitlessness of physical transformation?

Might not then the mentalist attributes of consciousness - and potentially
generative systems - possess an inertia that was hitherto regarded as the
singular attribute of the substratum? This would include those bars set for
performance of a-life as parameters and delimitations of the code and the

A-life as a sphere for the detonation of the artistic current would
therefore seem to start to make sense, theory or no, libidinally, and taking
into account our unwillingness to name that which has not yet been made,

simon taylor

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