The Choice Chronology Project
(c) 1985, 1995 Henry A. Flynt, Jr.
Mutability of the remembered past: the dream solution
Chronometry and memory
Simulating telekinesis by computing on personalistic subjectivities to accomplish a quasi-physical result
Interconvertibility of memory and precognition
The "choice chronology" project is a meta-technological study which calls for solutions to the following.
2. The Subject's personal memory is to be exclusively linguistic. The Subject installs or induces its personal past in the act of remembering, by its ordering of the parts of the total linguistic text which chronicles that past.
There is a growing store of propositions; and remembering consists in reviewing them in a chosen order. Clearly the nature of this language is critical; e.g. inconsistent temporal determinations must mean; and how propositions are wielded must shape what happened and is happening. The momentary person-world as a multistable notation?--correlative to my observations about memories as propositions.
The Subject is to be engaged in a quasi-physical task (whose degree of accomplishment can be specified by one parameter, by a scalar), which it accomplishes by willful mentation, by programming or computing on personalistic subjectivities. So a simulation of telekinesis is required. The repertory of mentation which can be utilized in methods includes "moods" such as stupor, euphoria, vertigo, anxiety, alertness, etc. (and "personal states of being" such as waking, dreaming, etc.). Also included are attention-shifts and visualizations within a given mood, and also certain changes in a mood (energization, stasis vs. evolution or unfolding).
A supplementary complication is that when the Subject understands a memory-sentence by thinking its ideational correlate, the Subject must conceive a method as referred to above (indeed, a life-long plan of action): so that it has to be possible for affects, visualizations, etc. to unfold in sequence for the purposes of the method while the method is in force. Evidently this complicates the requirements on personal time, because a time in which moods, affects, fantasy, attention-shifts etc. can unfold is required. How is this time to be correlated with the multiply inconsistent chronometry? An advanced construction, perhaps beyond the scope of this manuscript, is evidently required.
When the Subject understands a memory-sentence by thinking its ideational correlate, it must conceive a life-long plan of action in which states of consciousness and visualizations can unfold in a routine. This time would presumably be the medium of longing, dread, regret, satisfaction, boredom. It would be ordered but not quantified (i.e. scaled ordinally but not cardinally)? The simplest such time would be unary.
We need Husserl's distinctions as to the scope and direction of temporality. Retention, recollection; protention, projection. Where do retention and protention matter? The temporality of remembering; the temporality of affect.
A still more difficult requirement can be added, as follows. The chameleon-like memory (chiefly the location of certain past events in past time-intervals) should be able to be reflected in the "now" to become a chameleon-like precognition or "memory of the future": a location of future events in future time-intervals--which would be a future truth at the time the precognition was accessed (leaving open whether it would "still" be true at the objective time assigned to the realization). Referring to the jargon, the main consideration here is the interconvertibility of recollection and projection.
3. Meta-technological method
Meta-technology is not yet developed enough for me to be able to define rigorously how this study is to be construed.
In general, I am looking for a solution not from physical technology but from [noncredulous reconstruction] of the experience-world.
The project invokes normative everyday logic, and world-states supporting inconsistent descriptions: in relation to memory, willful mentation (also ideation), time and temporality, language as portrayal (description), language as symbol and notation, language as definite notation-tokens in the mind.
It seeks a set of epistemological rules which gives a novel construction of the experience-world, replicable for every "sane" person: by taking advantage, in the conventional "reality"-construction, of
- tenets which are unprovable
- junctures which are underdetermined (gaps)
- tenets which are contradictory.
It seeks an experienceable world-synthesis-game in which contradictory specifications can be fulfilled simultaneously.
I am more interested in encouraging a variety of telling inventions in this area than in exactly delivering the requested synthesis. Part of the illustrations are only suggestive. If interpreted into extraneous contexts, they would become false leads: as the call for telekinesis accomplished by working on attention, visualization, and mood. If taken in the wrong way, that would be an old brand of charlatanism.
It could be objected that the conditions delineated could not comprise a conscious microcosm because the microcosm would be too sterile. The answer has to be that the suggested solutions concern an abstraction referred back to the human microcosm. Nevertheless, we are looking at a gerrymandered problem.
In this project and elsewhere, meta-technological solutions must conform to the following requirements. The "novel reality" constructions pertain to the so-called life-world. Cf. my writings on the relation of physics to the phenomenal world for a rationale for this approach.
All constructions must be intersubjectively replicable, without trading on gullibility. All judgments required must be able to be made in the alert waking state; or else must be alert waking acknowledgments of judgments which are usual features of other states (such as dreaming). The virtue of this is that such constructed deviations from conformist reality are more compelling than subjective-delusive aberrations (cf. insanity, psychic brutalization, or gullibility as conventionally conceived). Hypnosis and psychedelic phenomena are borderline here. They can be considered psychic brutalization. Nevertheless, alert consciousness may have dependencies on them; and they could conceivably suggest appropriate solutions.
The possibilities that I will find in dreams can be "lifted" to waking life by noting that reality cannot be proved to be less personally relative in waking life than in dreams. But to carry out this lifting construction is advanced, and I will postpone it to a later report.
The project would be helped by breakthroughs in my logic of contradictions, subjectively responsive language and logic, and the problem of unrealized possibility in physics. It requires completion of the project called "Normative Everyday Logic," now in an inchoate state.
Interrelate the "epistemological" rules of longitudinal personal identity with memory-propositions. Integrate unrealized possibilities with world-states which support inconsistent descriptions.
PHYSICAL SCIENCE IS ASSEMBLED IN THE EXPERIENCE-WORLD.
THE EXPERIENCE-WORLD IS NOT LIMITED TO CONFIRMING THE CONFORMIST "REALITY."
THE LAST 10,000 YEARS ARE THE CIVILIZATION YOU GET WHEN YOU LET CAVE-MEN LAY THE TRACK FOR INSTRUMENTAL COGNITION TO RUN ON.
4. Mutability of the remembered past: the dream solution
In this manuscript, I often use experience in the sense of an event, or "lived experience," rather than a beliefless sensation or experience.
By experiential memory I mean non-verbal, episodic memory of past personal experience. Like a daydream--except that it is accompanied with an attitude which ascribes "past realism" to the fantasied event. Another definition and gradation of the distinction would consist in contrasting an experiential memory with a fantasized past. Both daydreams involve past-reference, but in the case of the memory, the past-reference is considered "real." An experiential memory is a flashback which can either be bidden or unbidden: i.e. voluntary (trying to recall where I left my umbrella by reliving my day in fantasy), or involuntary (as with an embarrassment I would rather forget).
We consider the case in which your personal memory, your sense or assessment of past experience, is not experiential (episodic) but is completely dependent on propositions; so that the only way you can "sense" the past is by "reading," by obtaining from your preconscious the meanings or ideational correlates of stored propositions about the past. Compare a person who contracts amnesia just after writing an autobiography, but who can still read. If a fabricated autobiography were substituted for the genuine one before the subject read it for the first time, could the subject know directly that the personal history was false? If a fabricated autobiography were substituted after the subject had read the genuine autobiography, then the subject would recognize the falsity of the fabricated autobiography by comparing it with his or her memory of the propositions in the genuine autobiography (but not with any experiential memory). The objectivity of the Subject's personal past would only be the objectivity of words.
5. Every time you dream, you experience a world and a personal history specific to that dream. (That is, you may remember a past specific to the dream which extends back prior to the beginning of the dreamed episode itself.) Roughly speaking, each dream nullifies any personal history you had prior to the dream, and establishes the obtaining personal history during the dream.
One consequence is that if dreams contain references which are meant as objective dates, then different dreams may ascribe mutually exclusive events to the same date. But in this case the facts of the earlier dream are simply erased or nullified. Each dream establishes the personal past anew.
The preceding observations are elliptical. What is actually happening is that on the one hand, you can compare two entirely different dreams during a waking period which postdates both of them. On the other hand, during any dream, you usually believe the dream-experience to be your real life. The later dream nullifies the earlier dream from your standpoint inside the later dream.
I now wish to make two difficult points about remembering, during a dream-episode, an earlier event in the same dream-episode. Here the only standpoint is that inside the given dream.
Suppose I leave a room in which there is a chair, and then return to find the chair gone. At the time of returning, I remember a past situation different from the present situation, and thus judge that the chair has been removed.
But can it be that I am in error in thinking (remembering) that a chair was in the room at the earlier time? Is the earlier portion of the dream objectively subsistent somewhere, so it is meaningful to compare it with my dreamed memory of it?
Suppose I live through a dream event, and then later in the same dream, attribute in memory a different event to that earlier time. In this case, there is no consciousness of a discrepancy, no disappointed expectation. So I am now asking about the possibility of an error of memory which leaves no trace in the ongoing dream-experience. Again: is the earlier portion of the dream objectively subsistent somewhere, so that it is meaningful to compare it with my dreamed memory of it?
Or: Should a tracelessly altered past, if any, be accepted as the genuine past; on the grounds that a mirage-event in a mirage-episode simply collapses to what you, still in the mirage-episode, now think the event to have been?
(This issue is not to be confused with the issue of whether you remember a dream as a whole accurately in subsequent waking life. Is there ever a case in which in subsequent waking life you remember an event in a dream which you subsequently in the same dream remembered falsely?)
(Note that dreams are typically more bound or frozen epistemologically than waking life. In waking life, you normally have options to depart from the naively credulous standpoint; in dreams, you normally don't. In waking life it is usually possible (in principle) to check the self-consistency of memory by skilled interrogation. A true report will not become tangled if more detail is demanded upon repetition. Also the configuration of a useful object can be recalled by re-enacting your manipulation of it.)
I have given two different levels or realms in which "your past experience" might be stipulated to be chameleon-like; metamorphosing to whatever your memory says it was.
First, as you start a new dream, the worlds of previous dreams are nullified inside the new dream.
Secondly, preceding events within a given dream are whatever your memory at a given instant says they are.
"The personal past changes to correspond to what you think it is."
This claim of mutability of the past must be understood precisely, to be compelling. A so-called memory, an episodic memory, involves my having an attitude which attributes "past realism" to daydreamed events. But in the realms in question, there is no independent test for this attribution. The attribution is a "rubber stamp," a self-fulfilling asseveration: it is necessarily accepted whenever it is made. Which is more curious: that in certain realms an attribution of past realism is necessarily accepted when it is made?--or that I have and use this self-fulfilling asseveration in the first place? That is, regarding an episodic memory in a dream of an event earlier in the same dream: is it strange that the attribution of past realism is automatically true if I make it?--or is it strange that I associate these attributions of realism to my fantasized pasts at all?
A supplementary observation. As an entirely different phenomenon, sometimes a dream will make reference to a previous dream--a reference which is known inside the later dream, and also in subsequent waking life (In which you can compare both of the two dreams in memory). But I find that cross-dream references do not typically take the form of episodic memory (fantasized events with attribution of "past realism"). Rather, a cross-dream reference takes the form of knowingly reliving an incident from a previous dream.
6. Chronometry and memory
Suppose you temporally locate a recent event (such as your return from a trip) by saying "It happened 5 days ago." Suppose that every hour (or every half hour or every 5 minutes) after you first make the statement I ask you two questions:
a) Did it happen the same number of days ago as when I last asked?
b) How many days ago did it happen?
If the number of days is being used as a vague measure, then this interrogation will elicit a contradiction. On being questioned at consecutive hours hn, hn+1, hn+2, you will, for some n, say
If "It happened 5 days ago" is being used not as a vague measure but as an exact measure, then it becomes self-inconsistent if it is repeated at all.
at hn+1: yes, same number of days as at hn
at hn+2: yes, same number of days as at hn+1 (!)
6 days (!)
Which feels longer to you now, one year ten years ago, or one month one month ago? My answer: I can't give an answer on the basis of "feeling." The only sense of past duration to which I could appeal to answer the question comes from the linguistically embodied chronometric conventions of the prevailing culture. To put it another way, if somebody states dogmatically that what is called the year 1985 is the "same length" as one month in 1995 [current year], I cannot disagree with this assertion on the basis of my experiential memory or cumulative remembered sense-contents.
On the other hand, it is conceivable that I would have autonomous feelings about the durations of past experiences [i.e. events or lived experiences] if those experiences were of great importance in my life.--But in general, even the sense of importance of events in my life does not attach independently-felt durations to them.
Can you tell by "feeling" whether a given past year was a leap year or not? (Acceptance in informal thought of a past duration-unit as consistent even though it covers different numbers of standard sub-units.--?)
A contradiction in extrapolated time. A rhythm I carry with me, such as my pulse, should be steady; yet stretches of my life defined by equal numbers of days may seem compressed, the more remote they are.
Additionally: there is a sense as one ages that life-time elapses more quickly.
7. Let the series
represent gram weights of particles in a box. Let negative addends represent buoyancy. (If the box is in an air environment, then the negative addends can represent hydrogen cores of hollow particles whose shells make a positive contribution to weight.) Then if you count all infinity of the particles, the box of particles has a finite weight. But by Riemann's Rearrangement Theorem, the weight is different depending on the order in which the particles are counted. Here a property of things depends directly on the sequential permutation of the acts by which consciousness assesses that property. If it is objected that you cannot sum an infinite number of finite addends in the real world, that is what every motion does (in a Zenonian sense).
[The example is only meant to stimulate thought.]
Another lesson from physico-mathematical science. The quantified time-location of things, in the standard reality,
is a property of things which has to be assessed by a tortuous construction. It is unavoidably vulnerable.
8. An experiential or episodic memory can itself be considered a proposition: you have a fantasized past (content) plus an attitude which attributes realism to that fantasy (truth-claim).
An episodic memory is a kind of proposition because of the attitude which ascribes "past realism" to the fantasied event. It is idempotent communication (not interpersonal).
You can call up these "propositions" in one or another order. That is, perambulate through your past in one or another sequence. Roughly speaking, you may be able to place two events in "real" sequence on the basis of developmental chronology: I was a child before I was a young adult; air travel became commonplace after train travel, not before. But, roughly speaking, all quantification of time-location is remembered through verbal information. I can quantify when, or how long ago, my high-school graduation was only because I have memorized the calendar-year as verbal information.
In the dream-realms such that "the personal past changes to correspond to what you think it is," such a memory-proposition would be self-fulfillingly true.
Episodic memory in a dream as idempotent rubber-stamp communication.
9. Simulating telekinesis by computing on personalistic subjectivities to accomplish a quasi-physical result
Programming (or computing on) personalistic subjectivities (moods or visualizations or modal states or emotions and sentiments or fantasy) so as to produce a world-change. To produce a change in the object-zone by programming or computing on personalistic subjectivities.
This section is the least developed, mere brainstorming. My trial examples come from dream-manipulations or the moment-to-moment "mind/body" relationship. The original specifications of the project may not allow telling solutions.
The method of flying in dreams: your attitude determines whether you can move unsupported through the air.
When an event about to occur in a dream is highly sensitive to you, the dream-narrative may veer away from the outcome you expect. Your affect has shaped the future.
Inducing yourself, while awake, to dream a certain thing subsequently.
Highly speculative: A program of dreaming/waking referred to the option of skeptical detachment or lack of this option.
The riddle of the mind/body relationship in bodily changes of state.
- thoughtlessly moving your hand
- moving your hand conjointly with willing to move your hand
- sweating in response to thinking of an object of fear (bodily reaction to visualized object of fear or lust)
- willing sensitization to move in your body
- being burned by the touch of a person you are angry at
A further requirement was so far-fetched that I did not state it at the beginning. A given method of pursuing the task is, by definition, lifetime-long or task-long. There are many feasible methods of pursuing the task, each life-long or task-long. Thus, although all feasible methods are possible, only one of them can be actual or in force or in use. Relative to actualization, the methods are mutually exclusive by definition. Nevertheless, whatever the remembering-choice implies about the method in force will become descriptively authentic.
Now for the more far-fetched requirement. Constituents of different methods can be "materially in contact" with each other. (As if an actual liquid was contained by a jar in a possible method.) In the original fantasy, contact had the effect of either stabilizing the actual constituent (mood), or dynamizing it, as the case happened to be.
[Incidentally, in physics, it is commonplace for the real world to rest on unrealized alternatives. But that's not the answer I want.]
Brainstorming, refers to dream/waking contacts.
Inducing yourself, while awake, to dream a certain thing subsequently.
Carrying a continuous action over into awaking.
You awake to a single telephone ring. Your episodic memory cannot establish whether the ring was a waking experience or a "hallucinated" one.
10. Interconvertibility of memory and precognition
I have more developed comments on the remaining recherché objective. Establish a cosmos in which memory can be reflected in the "now" to become an authentic precognition; or in which an arbitrary precognition can be self-fulfilling.
To make headway on this problem--and for that matter, to make more headway on the entire problem of establishing multiply inconsistent temporal determinations as factual--it is necessary to speculatively identify the "phenomenal" basis of time-concepts. For example, it can be argued that the immediate phenomenal basis of time-concepts is
- experiences of lapses of time in regard to rapid change (motion) or quick successions of events;
- my valuings or disvaluings, as of my condition in the present;
- my actions, and considerations of their willfulness or habitualness;
- my imaginings of various different conditions and actions as possible for me.
It is also necessary to make an inventory of the contradictions in the time-concepts of common sense--the hypostatized and schematic dogma which is the conceptual medium of everyday life. These findings must also be used to improve the solutions, (section)4 - (section)8. So research of a new type is needed by this project as background.
What I need to look for is every "excuse" by which past and future in the life-world can be mirror-images. Or, another hint is to look for junctures where reality-claims are made, but are nevertheless disconnected from the tests normally thought to give them meaning. My best example earlier was the memory in a dream of an earlier event in the same dream. On the other hand, the "excuses" can also be junctures where conformist thought imposes so much structure (relative to the phenomenal contents) that it provides ready-made paradoxical determinations or ready-made legerdemain waiting to be exposed and applied to anti-conformist purposes.
Recalling Husserl's jargon, it is notable that we can make the distinction mentally between a recollection and a projection at all. After all, the non-present events in question are projected in time-frames beyond any present to which instantaneous retention and protention are relevant. We cannot experience the difference in reference between recollection and projection in the present.
Does expectation find future stretches of time to be compressed? To what current stretch of time does a month in the year 2000 seem equal?
A crude case of overdetermination which allows the future to mirror the past is induction, which allows the future to be a shifting-forward (translation) of the past. Hume's definition of and commentary on induction is pertinent here. Induction is the faith that regularities established in the past will propagate into the future. This attempt to regularize the requirements of personal bodily survival may be profoundly interconnected with the interrelations of substantiality, causation, and time analyzed in the references. In any case, induction provides a symmetry of past and future which is culturally mandated. That is, you aren't allowed to discover that induction is mistaken. Physical research conducted on the basis that the laws of nature change after every few seconds of lived time would be disallowed by decree. So the questions to be pondered are these. What is the phenomenal explication for induction? How does the culture police the life-world to uphold induction come what may?
Suppose the future were set as precognition requires. Then one should not have to make constitutive definitions, such as appointments. Facile sophistry could avoid this by saying that your future making of the appointment, prior to the future appointment, is already set also. But do I need to make the appointment? If the entire future is fixed, is it wholly caused from the present, or is there causative influence from one future event to a later one?
Another group of considerations which will be important to a solution: the prediction/verification relationship and its asymmetry with the retrodiction/verification relationship in the personal past. In the personal past (with respect to subjective factuality as explained above), retrodiction/verification is virtually identical to an act of remembering. You can't travel to the past; you have already selected one retrospective as factual. The norm by which you test your retrodiction is the same memory that makes the retrodiction. The circumstance that a retrodiction and its verification are subjectively the same act, occurring in a single present moment, is crucial to the structure of choice chronology solutions.
In regard to prediction, there is a quite different and curious situation. I make a prediction now; later, I live though the episode that verifies it. By the time the episode arrives, the meaningful prediction (the one made in advance) can only be retrieved in memory. For that matter, I could remember wrongly what I predicted. (For that matter, in using a name to equate entities, I could wrongly remember the name; or wrongly remember my criterion for applying it to an entity.) A prediction would be subjectively irrefutable if memory tracelessly altered it to conform to what eventuated. (This observation, while formally correct, divorces prediction from its practical function in waking life: choice-making, and choice-implementing action, in a world presumed to be non-subjectively lawful/orderly.)
Suppose a case is already known such that the past changes to match one's memory of it. Then an arbitrary prediction would indeed be confirmed if at the time of verification it was remembered as matching what is found to eventuate. But evidently the other alternative is what my problematic calls for. I ask that the precognition be genuine at the time it is accessed or "thought of," not at the time to which the predicted event is assigned. When the attribution of past realism is a rubber stamp, could it interconvert with the attribution of future realism?
Again consider dreaming: the unfolding future relative to a given present in a dream is considered nevertheless to be a mirage. Better: you may awaken before the dream-future arrives; in that case, the only dream-future is the fantasy that forecast it. Another approach worth pondering.