A Chapter by Paul

Section 2 of The Me Primer







            This brain of mine is difficult to explain yet simple for me to understand. I know my brain better than anyone else. I know my mind better than anyone else. I believe my brain and my mind are the same thing. When I take the time to look for the roots of my thoughts, I am always led to the primary desires that I have as an animal. When I break down each individual thought pattern to explain how I got from: “hunger! food!” to: “I don’t want to be hungry but I must earn money for food in a way that is fulfilling for me on a psychological level, because only then can I show who I am by putting my values first and what I am paid second but still get, as often as possible, but not so often it is unhealthy, a nice piece of steak and good whiskey to feed myself”; this is when it gets difficult. My desires, my basic needs, what drives me as an animal are these primary instincts: to eat, to mate, to rest. These are the basis of all of my thinking and I have found a way to complicate them. Before I even get to some explanation of how I think, I feel compelled to deal with the idea of mind. To deal with the idea that I am somehow more than patterns of thought from my brain. I understand why I have invented ways to explain this voice in my head, to explain the separateness that I can feel from my body. It is a consequence of my ability to imagine.     

            I have decided that the rudiments of my imagination began in response to the basic desires, those feelings that something must be satisfied. I will give as an example the feeling of hunger, a feeling I can share with every animal on the planet. When I first had to think about ways to satisfy my hunger, my imagination kicked in. As one of the slower animals in the world, and proportionally weakest animals, I had to be inventive. The thoughts started to pile up and turned simple instinctual desires into layers of imagined alternatives. I believe that thinking, the act of giving context to feelings, felt alien. An otherness developed countering my animal instincts. I needed to take charge of the created chaos from my imagination. I turned again to imagination and I imagined an avatar to organize, to shepherd the many runs of thought associated with satisfying simple desires. This avatar, this voice, I call my mind. While I rationally believe my brain and my mind are the same thing it is easiest for me to give them separate realms. The brain is the organ. It is the well of basic desires and sub-conscious machinations that keeps me breathing and walking without thinking about every muscle movement. The mind is the conversation in my head. It is the discourse that takes place while I try to make decisions. The brain acts and reacts. The mind considers actions and reactions. The brain works in the here-and-now and the feeling of the moment. The mind brings the past and the future. It brings definitions to every word running through my thoughts while trying to control feelings and the here-and-now.

            I find it easiest to explain the complication of my instincts and desires by thinking of this process like a kind of binary code. As queasy as it makes me to keep associating myself with the world of computers, and even if neurologists and IT experts are left bent over in fits of laughter, it gives me a framework upon which to build. Thinking of it this way makes sense to me. I imagine that the very first thought I had as a newborn was a 0 and the next thought was a 1 and the next thought I had that was related to the 0 thought was an 01 and the next thought I had that was related to the 1 thought was 10 and so on. I imagine that, after months of my mother’s body supplying me with oxygen and sustenance, the first thought I had when disconnected was: “not satisfied”. This “not satisfied”, this 0, persisted until I took my first breath, “satisfied”, this 1. From this point on all things would be measured against these feelings of wanting and being content. Fortunately, the taking in air part was pre-programmed. I did not know this until after the first breath but from that point on all would be measured in terms of being satisfied or not, being hungry or not, being tired or not, eventually being sexually aroused or not. Out of all of this would grow anxiety and security. Only the very first need was met regularly with little effort on my part. The only time I would think about breath again would be if it were not there and thankfully this was a rare occurrence; though admittedly the most anxiety-inducing of all the needs when it was not met. I would imagine that some desire or fulfilled desire, eventually had to take in so much nuanced thought that it was a 010110111011110 etcetera. An amalgam of so many satisfying things with references to wanting that it was already getting too hard to follow the sequence. For me this is how the animal was lost. The feeling of basic desires and satisfying them was lost in how creatively I could fulfill my desires and rationalize why I was doing it that way. 

            With so many factors complicating basic desires it can seem impossible to maintain a sense of the here-and-now. I believe this is what wild animals have always with them, the here-and-now. It is all they know. Their thoughts are what our thoughts came from, feelings. They have feelings of hunger, feelings of safety, they are never tangled with the many lines of thought of past feelings of hunger and safety. They are never tangled with concerns of future feelings of hunger and safety and thoughts of how other animals are dealing with all of this. Even when a wild animal recognizes the smell of a man and avoids an area, I believe it is reacting to a smell and a feeling. I don’t believe it is picturing a particular man and remembering having a rock thrown at its hind quarters as it ran away and feeling sickened at its cowardice and wondering what other wild animals think of it and perhaps how to hide this reality.

            I know this is all just invention. I have not discovered the inner workings of the mind of a wild animal. I have not discovered the exact way I complicated simple desires as a child into the web of thoughts they are now. I have invented an explanation for myself. This is sometimes a beneficial thing that I do and sometimes the most damaging thing that I do when it comes to dealing with the rest of the world. I make up explanations of how I have come to be the amalgam of thoughts that I am now. I sometimes forget that under all of it is an animal wanting to satisfy basic needs. I can make myself into a demigod or a raving idiot along the way.

            My imagination lets me create; it lets me invent. I need facts to discover but I do not need them to invent. I discover when I prove how the world actually works, not how I imagine it works. No matter how strongly I am moved to invent explanations of why things are the way they are, I must always know the difference between inventing and discovering. I am talking about times when I invent an explanation for something that perplexes me. I worry most about the inventions that I bring into being, to explain why I do what I do, or why the world is the way it is. I do this without any more proof than my gut feeling or what is called common sense. There is nothing wrong with this, it has been a mainstay of human development, but facts cannot be invented. I should always be clear to point out when I am inventing and when I am discovering. Invention can lead to discovery. A hypothesis can be proved with facts but I should always be clear about my place in this process.  

            I must admit that I long to create rather than discover. I must understand that when I start inventing ways that things work, and convincing others that I have discovered the way that things work, something wonderful or awful is due to occur. It usually is a combination of the two alternatives. Individuals are affected depending on their personal standing in the invented reality. For the most part I would like to keep my inventing urge to the world of art, for music and stories and pictures of alternative realities. Bringing invention to psychology and philosophy, without understanding the difference from discovering, should make me hesitate. I think Adolph Hitler was an artist. A grotesque performance artist. He had a mind for invention. He did not seek to discover the truth he sought to make his invention the truth. Hitler is too depressing to use to make a point about the two sides of this coin. I think that Sigmund Freud is a better subject. He invented a way to explain how the mind works. This is a good example of the ills and gains that come from this type of thinking. Few people today would use a strict Freudian analysis of psychological issues. With his invented parts of the psyche, however, he began a serious discussion of the workings of the mind. He inspired discussions of the idea that therapy could be beneficial to those suffering from anxiety or compulsive behaviors. Many ills would have been avoided if it were recognized as much invention rather than a pure discovery. And yet, if people did not believe it to be wholly true would it have had the same impact? Would advancements in psychology have occurred? I don’t know. When a concept is invented, I test it. I ask, what will the consequences be if it is made a part of my real world? In a larger sense what will be the consequences for each individual. I believe history is filled with many such inventions, without the consideration of their effect on individuals.

            I am always in danger of romanticizing imagination by giving it some magical aura and making it something more than my animal brain at work. I must be on guard against this. I must be diligent in reminding myself that this is an animal brain that has evolved to make feelings into concepts, and twist them any way that I want, so that I can come up with new ways to meet my needs. I do this with my advanced capacity to imagine. Behind my house is a creek and I have observed two kinds of frogs. I must be exact here and say that I think that I have observed two kinds of frogs. I have never tagged them or done any real scientific research to confirm my hypothesis. I believe I have observed two kinds of frogs near the creek. One type always jumps in the water as soon as I approach. One type will freeze where it is and it lets me come very close to it. It relies on me not seeing it and only jumps when I am almost on top of it. Both strategies can work to keep a frog from being eaten.  I know this because both kinds of frogs are making a go of it to this day. I don’t believe that frogs sit and think about whether this will be the time that they jump or the time that they rely on their camouflage and stillness to keep from being spotted. I think that different frogs are born with different tendencies. I know that I have both strategies in my mind and several more. I have to make a decision and I have to live or die with the idea that the decision could be wrong. These frogs just jump at the first sign of trouble or freeze in place. I am envious of this sometimes and thankful at other times for the myriad of possibilities I have for escape. Of course, this is more invention on my part. Someone already has or will discover why some frogs jump and some freeze in place but the important thing is that I can do more than that. I do not always react to a situation with only my feeling, my desire to keep myself safe. I have trained myself to not be afraid of certain things that should really have me jumping or freezing in place every time they occur. I have confronted danger at times when it was not in my bodily best interest to do so. I did this because I decided that running was worse for me than taking the chance of getting my a*s kicked. Fear of looking like a coward, with my imagined options and remedies, probably requires so much of my invented binary code that it cannot be mapped. Hopefully I can see its root. I must train myself to look to the root of these growths of thought, to the feeling that is the 0 or the 1, the wanting and the not wanting. This is the point at which I can know the here-and-now feeling of an experience. The point I can know the yearning or being satisfied part of a moment and deal with its ramifications most effectively.

            My brain has not only evolved as an organ of my species, for all intents and purposes it evolves every day. Mutations of thoughts change my mind constantly. I imagine new ways to do things and the ones that work survive. Perhaps all animals do this to some extent but I am convinced that my human animal brain does this to an extent like no other animal. I don’t have to go with my instincts, my gut feelings. I can create a new way of acting. I can train myself to go against my instincts. This is what makes me accidentally special in the animal world and why I have done so many wonderful and awful things. Who decides which are wonderful and which are awful? I do. This is maddening to those who want answers that cannot be questioned, that are absolute. I know for me there can only be discovery of facts and the invention of how I want to deal with those facts. I decide which inventions to cherish and which to abhor.

© 2022 Paul

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Added on April 24, 2017
Last Updated on June 11, 2022



I am writing in the Mid Atlantic area of the United States, mostly non-fiction at this time. I am a song writer as well. Also of interest could be- http://bookstore.trafford... more..

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A Book by Paul

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