[-empyre-] Welcome to May: Boredom: Labor, Use and Time

B. Bogart ben at ekran.org
Tue May 12 04:12:04 AEST 2015

Hello Murat, (and Emilie)

You ask:
> Ben, on what basis are you assuming daydreaming is (always?)
> "informed by predictive models of reality." What makes you say that?
> The assumption seems arbitrary (or an apriori assumption) to me.

This is the basis of my PhD. The most complete description of the
argument is available in this unpublished paper:

Note, the theory has not been empirically validated.

In my thinking, prediction is central to perception. We constrain
recognition by learning contexts in which certain stimuli are likely to
occur. Would you argue that perception is a task? I would certainly
argue that perception is augmented by the particular goals in play at a
time, but that does not necessarily mean that all perception is

You go on to write that it could be argued that "daydreaming is a mental
act that tries to escape predictive behavior or task driven behavior."

I would say that all learned behaviour is predictable behaviour, and
thus most behaviour is actually predictable (again at some level of
abstraction). Mind wandering is an escape from the predictability of
external reality, rather than an escape from one's own predictable
behaviour. I may go so far to say that by our ability to internalize
learned behaviours our minds are most often already disengaged
from our predictable behaviours. The predictability of these behaviours
means we do not need to (constantly) consciously invest in them. e.g.
walking is a predictable behaviour that rarely requires conscious

You further write:
> In that way, in daydreaming the mind is never bored. Boredom sets in
> when daydreaming ceases. May not daydreaming be an alternate mode of
> focus, the mind's rebellion so to speak, contra "organized"
> stimuli?"

One of the interesting things about mind wandering, is that it's
difficult to realize we are doing it. In fact, some studies have shown
the Default Network is most engaged when we are not aware of mind
wandering, but in fact are absolutely not attending to external
stimulus. In short, we are often mind wandering without realizing we are
mind wandering. This is because the areas of the brain that allow us to
reflect on our own states of mind (parts of the prefrontal cortex) are
diminished in mind wandering (and dreaming). All this to say that I
think it's unlikely that boredom would not involve mind wandering, it's
more likely we don't realize how pervasive mind wandering is.

I'm trying to get my head around what a non-task oriented, not mind
wandering, boring mind-state could be. Perhaps deep meditation could be
a state of mind that is neither task positive nor negative? Any thoughts
on this Emilie? Is meditation a task oriented activity? I would expect
that the suppression of mind wandering would require a lot of mental
control, the same kind of control used in task-oriented behaviour.

Mind wandering could certainly be considered a rebellion where the
internal asserts itself over the external. Could you elaborate on what
you mean by "contra 'organized' stimuli?"


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