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Posts Tagged ‘biology’

Do we think or are we automatons? Where in our heads does the cinema projection of our sight take place? What is conscious thought?

The argument appears to rage unabatted about all this and each peice of conflicting evidence appears to be just as compelling as the last. I can contribute very little to this – as ever – but I have observed something odd about my thoughts. well, lots of people probably have, but this is about how I have thoughts, rather than what I am thinking!

Often in conversation I will come out with witty and intelligent allusions to quotations and previous moments in the conversation, but I don’t realise I am doing it until someone else notices and acts impressed. I thought it was conincidence at first, but the more it happens the more of an intelligent design there appears to be (ahhh, I am indeed the god of my own thoughts). I now find my conscious mind monitoring what is coming out of my mouth to spot the intelligent references before others do – otherwise it can lead to embarassment and confusion all round!

It seems obvious that a lot of thought comes from the subconscious or some such: after all, if someone swings a baseball bat at your head you will duck before your internal voice has had its say. Either that or wake up with a headache! Is it possible that this obvious reactionary response is actually just the tip of the non-conscious iceburg? Is our conscious mind – that inner chatter that seems to run our analytic thought process – nothing more than a monitoring system for our real thoughts?

We can think without language and did do before we could talk, so perhaps we still do all our real thinking at a pre- or sub-language level. Perhaps what we think of our consciousness and personality is a chimera: the ‘panem et circenses’ with which the real masters of our minds satisfy our egos. It may be impossible to be aware of our real conscious thoughts, since they are the bits that are doing all the thinking – it’s a bit like the impossibility of seeing your own eyeball.

Personally I think that this all rather points to our self-observable thoughts – the inner monologue – being a monitoring and safety mechanism that became necessary as we evolved our complex language and social interactions. It would need someone far brighter than me to work out exactly how and why, though!

Oh, and I have no idea about the cinema-of-our-sight thing.

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If you’re looking for titillation or the Hayne’s Manual of sexual technique, it is time to retrace your steps as this is about fundamentals. Some say that sex is mainly in the mind, but that is blatantly wrong: it is ALL in the mind. Obviously so, really, since that is where all senses, perception, ideas and mores are processed to create our concept of reality. For instance, things that would tickle normally will delight when aroused. So the important questions are: what, fundamentally, is sex? Why is it wonderful?

The answer, as with almost everything in life, is lots of things. It can be comforting, an adventure, exciting, an expression of love, an ego boost, pure sensory pleasure and much more besides. But this is still not its essence, but its effects. It is not enough to be amazingly dextrous, fit and breath through your ears; you have to understand the spiritual nature of sex before you can get the physics right.

So what is sex? Please think before you reply, as even the mechanics of it are not as simply defined as you may think. It is not all grapple & grunt: potentially you do not even need to touch each other to have great sex. Although usually, I’ll admit, it does help.

The simple answer is that sex is about communication. I don’t mean talking. “Further to the left” or “Do you like it when I rub this?” might be practically useful, but do not provide much insight. The communication I mean is on a primeval level that is more basic than language. It harks back to our evolutionary past, to our uncivilised and animalistic core. Sex allows us to connect to another human on the spiritual level, allows the fundamental essence of your being to join with another.  Sex alone allows us to join absolutely with another, allows us to penetrate our loneliness and briefly lose our isolation. Well, some serious narcotics possibly get us there too, but that is a different discussion!

Well, I am glad we got that sorted, so we can all now toddle off and have multiple orgasms. Ah, of course, there is the question of ‘how’. What is it we actually have to do to connect to someone else? The answer, as with almost everything in life, is lots of things! The first and most important is to want to connect and to give pleasure. Its all in the giving, I’m afraid, so stop right now and don’t waste any more time reading this if you just want to have more fun yourself.

You have to deeply like the person you’re with. Love is not directly related to sex, but helps in as much as you will be serious about giving to someone you love. The next bit will be easier as well, as you must open yourself up to them. You must expose the inner you, take down all defences and show yourself naked to the core. The only way you can join with someone essence-to-essence is for the cores of your beings to touch, and the only way for that to happen is for both of you to strip away all outer layers of you personas. Stand down your defensive shells, demolish your facades, can your carefully constructed character traits. It’s very temporary, but is still tricky to do. Someone has to start and help the other along (or help each other), as otherwise you will remain just two bodies rubbing bits against each other.

Don’t worry if it doesn’t happen straight away. It is complex and difficult and will take time to come together (so to speak). One practical way to start off is to concentrate on the other’s reactions: try to feel what the other likes and dislikes, try to predict what they want next. We are pack animals and programmed to understand very slight changes in body language, so although this may seem a bit of a Jedi Power at first, you can become highly attuned to your lover. You will find that you get better at this, possibly even knowing more about what your lover really wants than they do, but the real point is that you will be communicating. As you read them, so you will be sending signals back and they will be reading you too.

This stage is good! You work well together, become great at pleasuring each other and sex becomes fabulous. Keep going, use your desire to drive you towards connection and you will get to the body-and-spirit-tingling moment when you both drop your last barriers, surrender entirely to each other and truly become ‘with’ another person. Add in the physical, sensory delights of sex and whoa! Its fun time!

Some couples will never get this, others can get there during a one night stand. It is not about what you do or who you are, but about being compatible. Every person is capable of this, but only with the right partner. Or partners, possibly. Some people may be able to connect with every lover they have, others perhaps with very few.

If you cannot connect with your lover, perhaps you shouldn’t be together. A survey recently found that 1 in 7 couples remain deeply in-love all their lives, never losing the heady feelings of their first few years together. I suggest that these are the people that can connect at the deepest, most intrinsic level.

This could be all of us, we just have to make the right decisions in life, be with the right person.

p.s. let’s take a moment to reflect on how lucky we are. Most animals merely copulate: a compulsive attempt to breed that has little pleasure (part from pygmy chimps, obviously). But we can take immense pleasure from indulging in sex as frequently as we desire. If there is a God, surely this is compelling evidence to show that we are Her special children!

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I have been wondering about the purpose of death lately: what is it for and why does so much of life indulge in it? After all, in some respects single-cell creatures can be thought of as being immortal. Yet we humans replace cells all the time, hardly remaining the same person from year to year, so why do we slowly decay? Why do we die?

The answer, I though, might be that death started as an evolutionary advantage. What I am suggesting is that all really early organisms on Planet Earth were immortal: nothing ever died of old age before about 600 million years ago. Things did die, of course, but only when actively killed by outside forces, such as having a moutain fall on them. Then, about 550 million years ago, some creatures learnt how to die. They would reproduce then auto-destruct, leaving their offspring far better able to survive and flourish.

The very early planet was a tricky place to live, with conditions appropriate for life being rare and the total quantity of nutrients (or ‘food’) in each of those places being limited. Conditions could also change rapidly, both over distance and time. Single-cell beings divide rapidly and so random change can lead to rapid evolution, with each generation taking comparatively little food to produce. However, for more complex life reproduction is slower and more resource intensive, so that a greater proportion of the total available food is locked into each generation.

If the parent generations of more compex organisms do not die, there is competition for resources between parents and offspring: they are in direct competition with each other. This leads to a massive reduction in the chance that sufficient evolution will occur before (1) all the food is gone, or (2) the environment changes to make life untenable. This is because the genetic advantage of change through the generations is diluted if the original genes have as much chance of reproducing as the altered ones – it would be like Neanderthals still having as much chance of reproducing today as the most successful of society intelligentcia.

If the parent generations do die, then only those with the greatest chance of having altered genes will be competing for food. In each successive generation, only individuals with genes altered by natural selection will survive to produce the next generation. This will result in a far greater chance that changes will be compounded over the generations and so useful, pronounced adaption will occur. The death of the parent generation will also release food back into the system, increasing the chances that their offspring will adapt before the food runs out.

The species that died therefore survived, out-evolving their immortal cousins and populating the planet with their offspring. That is why about 1 billion years ago there was an explosion of complex life on Earth: it had learnt how to die. Of course, death would really come into its own as an evolutionary force once sexual reproduction had been invented. Death and sex: perhaps life really is the ultimate Gothic story.

Death and sex helped fuel the explosion of complex life on Earth.  Perhaps that is why they are both a part of life for all complex organisms on the planet today.

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