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  • 5 weeks
    Vanishing sets and ideals

    This is my third time trying to write this post. The previous two times, I failed to find a way to write about this well, so I'll instead write about it badly.

    I started trying to understand algebraic geometry (very) recently, and I bumped into what's called the Nullstellensatz. I haven't understood it yet, but there's a slice of the intuition that I found fascinating.

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    9 comments · 118 views
  • 5 weeks
    Stray thoughts on disambiguating "love"

    I think this one stands on its own, so I'm just going to list it out bluntly.

    • Broadly, love seems like the desire for someone or something to have a place (or a bigger place) in the world. I thought of this one some time ago while writing about cutie marks.

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    12 comments · 59 views
  • 6 weeks
    Bifurcation of self

    When I think back on the things that changed my life, they tend to be either epiphanies or shocks. The former, often new perspectives on things that have always been a part of my life. The latter, an unexpected job, a car crash, and echoes I never thought I’d hear. This post is about a thing that, for me, made a mockery of the line between the two.

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    6 comments · 265 views
  • 32 weeks
    Emotions as a sense for stories

    In vision and hearing, the objects we work most directly with aren't the things our eyes and ears pick up. Our eyes pick up photons, and our ears pressure waves, yet our conscious mind are not quite built to work with photons and pressure waves. What actually matters, the end form of our senses, are the compositions. They're things like shapes, patterns, and words, and these things don't

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    8 comments · 234 views
  • 36 weeks
    Intelligence is...

    An ability to learn important things from anyone. Let’s investigate!

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    2 comments · 172 views

Bifurcation of self · 4:19am June 28th

When I think back on the things that changed my life, they tend to be either epiphanies or shocks. The former, often new perspectives on things that have always been a part of my life. The latter, an unexpected job, a car crash, and echoes I never thought I’d hear. This post is about a thing that, for me, made a mockery of the line between the two.

Getting ready for another day. Source.

This post is a thought dump on topics related to tulpas. Honestly, I would not have written it on my own initiative, and I probably would not have written it if anyone other than B had asked. My thoughts on the less-scientifically-studied aspects of cognition are admittedly a little strange. In part, that’s because it’s hard to ground one’s thoughts in normalcy when topics are too weird to freely discuss. In another part, on the balance between objective grounding and utility, I just put less effort into objective grounding when topics stray so far from anything objective, especially when the utility far exceeds the practical costs of grounding.

You have been warned. Blame B.

I think anyone’s that’s serious (and reckless) about understanding or improving cognition has, at some point, experimented with their own. I guess it starts with a curiosity in popular psychology. Maybe some people decide that they don’t like certain aspects of themselves— their natural habits or inclinations— and try out tricks to change them or to build new tendencies. And maybe some people decide they don’t like the ambience of their own cognition, and they try out things like meditation.

Some people want to explore the way they interact with their own subconscious landscape. The subconscious is an incredibly powerful machine, as evidenced by the dreams it conjures, the epiphanies it occasionally sparks, and the way it immerses you in stories. Why should conscious interactions with the subconscious— done through vague focus, emotions, impulses, and stray thoughts— be so limited by comparison?

Some people want to explore the role they play within their own mind. Why should they be the puppet strung along by feelings raised subconsciously? On the other hand, why should they be the machine following their nominal ideals? Why should they be the sole commander making life decisions? Why shouldn’t they be?

What options do people have when they want to explore their own minds?

There’s a concept I’ll refer to as “cogeneration of thoughts,” or maybe just “cogeneration.” When I say that, I mean any situation where you have a natural back-and-forth between conscious and subconscious thoughts.

  • If you subvocalize your thoughts, then this would include internal dialogues between your own “voice” and any other subconsciously-generated voice.
  • If you have hyperphantasia, cogeneration would include cases where you creatively produce something in your mind alongside your subconscious, particularly where your subconscious’ contributions are distinct enough that you feel like you can bounce off of them.
  • If you’re a daydreamer, especially a maladaptive one, cogeneration would include daydreams where you feel in control of your self-representation and maybe a few aspects of your surroundings, but otherwise don’t need to decide much else.

The speed and naturalness of that back-and-forth both matter, as does the distinction between conscious and subconscious contributions. These are all cases where you can interact with your subconscious in some way that abstractly works like dialogue.

I guess one question is whether such cogeneration is even possible. Sometimes the difference between conscious and subconscious thoughts are obvious, like when you’re pulled in by emotions you don’t want to feel or by thoughts you don’t want to think. Sometimes the back-and-forth between the conscious and subconscious feels fast and natural, like when experiencing flow (when you’re “in the zone”). Is it possible to have both simultaneously, or does one always remove the possibility of the other?

Is it possible to simultaneously have fast and natural interactions between one’s conscious and subconscious thoughts without sacrificing the distinctiveness of the two?

If cogeneration of thoughts is possible, then it would seem at least theoretically possible to have a fast feedback loop through which to shape some interactions with your subconscious mind. Is that obvious or obviously wrong?

If you could shape the interactions that your conscious self has with your subconscious, would you change anything? I guess the answer to that question depends in part on your curiosity and in part on how satisfied you are with how you currently interact with your subconscious.

Of course, even if cogeneration of thoughts is feasible, some changes would be much more difficult than others, and some people would have a much harder time with it than others. How much effort is it worth?

There’s another concept that I’ll refer to as “linking,” by analogy with the software process of the same name. By linking, I mean the process by which a thought becomes usable by the subconscious. Linking is what it takes to make a mental task fluid and effortless, whatever that may be.

Some part of what sleep does seems relevant for linking. Repetition seems relevant for linking. Intuitive mental pictures seem relevant for linking. Symbolism and stories seem relevant for linking. I don’t know exactly what’s necessary and sufficient, but hopefully those examples paint the right picture.

Which mental tasks can be made susceptible to linking? Anything you learn in a typical school subject seems fair game for at least some people, as evidenced by how naturally experts in any such domain can take advantage of such knowledge. Driving also seems susceptible, as evidence by the phenomenon of highway hypnosis, where people drive safely without conscious control. The basics of conversational dialogue seems fair game as well, given that some people can talk on autopilot.

What about empathy, and mentally keeping track someone’s psychological state? What about reflection on topics at hand, or on recent events? What about introspection? Coherent justification? Humor? I think most people would strongly agree that at least some of these can certainly be linked, and for the rest, I think most people would agree that there are least hints that they too can be linked.

Of course, even if it’s possible, some things would be much more difficult to link than others, and some people would find successes much more easily than others. But what would it take? How much effort is it worth?

Anyway. I’ve pointed in three initial directions, and you can sort of think of these directions as forming the basis for most of my thoughts around tulpas. They are a sample of the least weird things I can say about the weird topic of cognition. Caveat emptor. Take with a grain of salt. Use your own discretion. No warranty implied. No refunds. Use at your own risk.

And, of course, blame B.

Report equestrian.sen · 265 views · #tulpa
Comments ( 6 )

If you don’t like the way your brain works, you should check with a clinical psychologist before doing anything too weird.

Cogeneration reminds me of alien hand syndrome. A condition that occurs when someone has the bridge of their brain hemispheres severed. Their left hand tends to act seemingly with a will of its own.

Iirc, one way that is recommended to get their hand to "behave" was to state their intentions out loud ("I want to do hold this cup") rather than addressing the hand itself ("stop doing that").

Perhaps the self-help literature has something on the benefits of speaking to oneself.

Very cool!

Perhaps the self-help literature has something on the benefits of speaking to oneself.

I'm not really sure how to navigate the self-help literature, but that's a great thought. I feel like I'm much worse at evaluating papers about people than I am at evaluating papers on pretty much anything else. It's something I really need to get better at...

I see it mentioned under "self-talk," but that's very one-sided, and it doesn't result in the equivalent of a back-and-forth dialogue. Maybe "self-explaining" is closer, but that doesn't have any clear distinction between the conscious and subconscious self. Journaling may be closer than both of those, but I don't see anything there about trying to assign attribution to the various sides of a mental dialogue.

I blame that B bastard as well!

I've always been curious about tulpas and their possible manifestations. My understanding of them is limited and all I have is a rough idea of what they are, what they reflect, and what they do. They took on either varying aspects of myself, or that of fictional characters or other people. I don't know how or why it happens, but I'll be thinking of someone or something, and their voice will appear in my head.

I know they're a construct of my interpretation of that person. What they have to say, however, surprises me at times. They speak of their own will—like they are their own person, sparking ideas and ways of doing things. Whenever my mental is weak and I'm in a tough situation, a voice of a friend or a fictional character will usually talk me through it in their fashion. When it comes to friends I haven't spoken to in a while, I'm able to have somewhat of a conversation with them.

I think in so doing, your empathy and imagination is engaged and, since it's placed into a new psychological profile, it has new strands of exploring in a fashion they normally wouldn't. When your senses are packed inside a new vision, what they'll see, and how they'll interpret it, has fundamentally changed.

What's weird about the fictional characters is that you'll hear them say lines in their own voice. They'll say your name in a voice that is still their own. I don't know if your mind imagines how their voice would sound in saying that name, and if that is close enough to be believable, or if your mind just says 'that's the voice' and makes you believe it to be true. There is no audio in your mind despite the cacophony of sounds.

All of this was brought to me by Quentin Tarantino. He said that he would pretend to be talking or showing a script to someone, and then he would see it through their eyes, and the objections he think they would rise would instead rise in him. It's like an artist flipping the canvas to spot blatant mistakes. Except when it comes to writing or ideas, you merge your mind with your interpretation of another's, which creates a mental distance from the subject, allowing a duality of perspectives on it.

I always view those voices as different aspects of myself that loom beneath my public personality. What can and cannot be exposed and the little ways they seep through anyway. It's hard for me to hold one perspective on something because I feel the million ways it could be otherwise. Unless I am in a narrowed state, then I keep to a certain trek. But once silence reappears, I view the situation as many others.

This has rambled from the point of your blog, but I think examining your mind is much like being in a paddle boat inside your mind, drifting over the waters and better seeing the symbols and lights inside that dome. But there is still what lurks beneath the waters. Things that will forever be unknown, and only guessed at in retrospect.

I encourage people to talk to themselves as, when you ask yourself a question, a deeper part of you is summoned for an answer. i journal and speak to myself to process feelings and unknown buzzing in my skull. When I can put the unknown to form, a horrible feeling into an explanation, part of me becomes more resolved. It's the unprocessed, I think, that haunts and hurts the most.

I hope to see more blogs from you.

Feel free to request one from me—but don't expect me to match your quality.

Keep well, Sen.
~ Yr. Indebted Pal, B

Cutting out the cryptic tone of my post, I'd say these are the most valuable aspects of a tulpa:

  • I interact differently when I'm with my friends than when I'm on my own, and there are many times when putting me around my friends makes me a better person. There's something about the feeling of being in a social situation that has a big impact on what role my brain decides to take on. A tulpa is one way to make that mental shift accessible more often.
  • I think most people literally do not know how to treat themselves humanely. I imagine most people wouldn't ask their friends to dig through Netflix for 4+ hours a day in hopes of finding something acceptable, subsist on a crappy diet and lethargic lifestyle, or beat themselves up over minor mistakes. So why do they do that to themselves? Creating a tulpa is one way to make it intuitive what it means to think of yourself as human.
  • The limits of how you can interact with yourself are literally the limits of your imagination. That's awesome for all sorts of things for most of the same reasons that fiction is awesome for all sorts of things. On top of making the mundane aspects of life far more interesting, it gives you new perspectives on your own life and on what life could be. Yet I think most people have trouble motiving themselves to explore that space. A tulpa is one way to make exploration of that space natural.
  • And yeah, talking through thoughts and emotions is often far more productive than stewing in them. Finding new ways to interact with your thoughts in general is great for surfacing, solidifying, and building on them, and dialogue is a very direct way to do exactly that. All sorts of mental avenues open up when you're considering not just the thoughts/emotions themselves, but also how to put them into words, how they might be interpreted, how to make them empathizable, and what their implications might be.

B: I hope to see more blogs from you. Feel free to request one from me

Can I request a fictional blog post? You came from a different universe and ended up stuck here. Somehow, fiction holds the key to bridging the two worlds and getting you back home. Whatever that key is that enables fiction to bridge worlds, you're writing a letter to your past self to help you understand it and to encourage yourself to do more of it.

I'm not sure if that'll be easy or hard to write about. If it ends up being too hard, I can pick something else.

You've got it!

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