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

B. Bogart ben at ekran.org
Thu May 14 09:07:56 AEST 2015

Hello Murat,

>From my introductory reply to John's initial message on this topic:

> I would like to close with one final concept, the notion of abstraction
> in predictions. I would define an abstraction as a representation where
> the those features that are common across a category are emphasized over
> features that emphasize the individual. Predictions operate at a
> particular level of abstraction.

In retrospect the label "description" would have been better than

One could predict (with a very high level of confidence) that a
pornographic film is likely to involve sex scenes. Here "sex" is a very
high level abstraction that refers to a very broad category. As we use
descriptions with less abstraction, the reference becomes more specific
and less oriented to the whole category; for example, 'fellatio'. As we
get less abstract, we can be less confident about the prediction because
it's more specific to particular scenarios.

As we continue to get less abstract (more concrete) we eventually end up
with a highly detailed description that could approach a unique scene in
a single pornographic film; for example, 'a man in his 30s with stubble,
dark hair and green eyes with a lip ring on his left side containing a
red captive bead with performs fellatio on...'. In such a case the
prediction can be quite tenuous due to the degree of specificity.

As we are unlikely to create highly detailed descriptions of future
events, our ability to predict is dependent on abstraction. Such
abstractions give us a sense of the constraints on what is likely to
happen, without knowing exactly what will happen.

I hope that is more clear.


On 15-05-13 12:51 PM, Murat Nemet-Nejat wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> "At a high level of abstraction everything is
> predictable."
> Ben, could you clarify what the above sentence means? What is "a level
> of abstraction"? How does it relate to prediction?
> Ciao,
> Murat
> On Wed, May 13, 2015 at 2:06 PM, B. Bogart <ben at ekran.org
> <mailto:ben at ekran.org>> wrote:
>     ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>     Thanks for jumping in Lyn!
>     You write: "...in anticipation, it requires a moment where expectation
>     of an event is delayed beyond our expectations."
>     In the framework I'm thinking through in this discussion (where boredom
>     is the state when the external world appears to match our predictions
>     and offers no surprise, at some level of description and arousal is the
>     state where the external world violates our predictions) then it seems
>     anticipation is a prediction where the predicted event is desired.
>     The notion of delay is interesting here. We continue to expect the event
>     to occur, but it does not (immediately) and yet we continue to expect
>     it. It seems anticipation is an edge between perceiving signals
>     indicating our prediction is correct, and yet does not immediately
>     materialize. There also seems to be some degree of abstraction involved
>     here, not just expecting that an event will occur, but that it will
>     occur within a particular period of time.
>     I would expect that focusing away from the signals that reinforce our
>     prediction (mind wandering during anticipation) would reduce the
>     investment in the desired event. I think anticipation then would depend
>     on continuously expecting and fantasizing the desired event.
>     I'd like to get a little deeper into this idea of lack and boredom. In
>     the framework above, boredom is independent of the value we attach to
>     events that occur or not. We are bored when we are simply not
>     experiencing anything beyond our expectations. Perhaps lack is related
>     to abstraction. At a high level of abstraction everything is
>     predictable, while a low level of abstraction makes everything novel and
>     unpredictable. It seems we could think of lack as a shift towards higher
>     level abstractions where more and more becomes predictable because of
>     the lack of attention to details.
>     Later you write:
>     > meditation sometimes is applied to overcome need, to overcome lack,
>     > to overcome desire. (In buddhism, desire is linked to the root of all
>     > suffering). If we were to apply meditative practices as an antidote
>     > to boredom, we find a different problem, particularly as boredom is a
>     > primary obstacle in overcoming itself. I think if this very
>     > abstractly as a lack cycle.
>     I can see how meditation removes the values we attach to events,
>     thoughts, etc. but if we consider boredom as a state where reality and
>     exceptions agree, then it seems meditation would be an acceptance,
>     rather than 'antidote' to boredom. How would you define boredom?
>     I can imagine that meditative focus on self-control and detachment to
>     predictions could be an antidote to lack. This could be manifest by
>     shifting the level of abstraction in other other direction; moving
>     attention to smaller and smaller details that emphasize the uniqueness
>     of each moment and each individual.
>     Lyn, could you elaborate on this notion of a "lack cycle"?
>     Thanks again Lyn; I really appreciate your comments, and I think this
>     link with meditation brings the discussion to some interesting
>     territory.
>     Ben
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