The Who In You

In most instances, even the coldest utilitarians nurture a romantic image of themselves. From fry cooks to heads of state, few men see their personalities as something less than exquisitely unique. No matter how modest our station in life, we all take sustenance in knowing there is no one else navigating it quite like the inimitable us. I say sustenance advisedly since the broad belief that our personalities, our decisions, our essence that makes us like no other, is probably crucial to evading mass nihilism and the social pathologies that would inevitably flow from it. Being specially and specifically you tends to make most people a conscientious steward of that persona and its reputation. This effect being far more robust than if they believed precious them was merely a manifestation of blood flow and brain structures.

But is it?

Are we our own distinct consciousness because of man’s inherent variance, or because no one else’s occipital lobe has exactly the same topology? If that topology could be recreated with utter precision in a lab, would it be you? Or is our cognitive clay molded strictly by divine hands? Here’s a personal story that gave me pause to consider.

A few years ago a friend of mine suffered a brain injury. The type and cause is unimportant, though it was of sufficient severity that his life was in grave jeopardy. I was there when he was being airlifted to a critical care facility, and the look of fear in his still-conscious eyes was haunting.

His recovery was painful, grueling, and at times shocking. The mind is no mute appendage. As a result, his convalescence was a carnival ride in which he suffered constantly fluctuating symptoms. He went through a period of extreme sensitivity to light. Later he would become paranoid and terrified by multiple sources of stimulation. He could listen to music, but not while looking out the window. He could walk around the house, but only in silence. Much later his first visit to the grocery store ended in a near nervous breakdown as the kaleidoscope of colors, movement, and announcements overwhelmed his compromised ability to process them. That wasn’t all.

His wife soldiered through bouts of complete personality upheaval. Previously very stoic, he became a garrulous and raunchy comedian for a time. Then a philosopher. Even his tastes fluctuated. Moods, perceptions, opinions: the entire foundation of what distinguishes us as an individual shifted beneath him. As his brain struggled to heal, the being that is he was revealed as far more elastic than anyone imagined.

He has since made a full recovery. Or has he? Periodically we’ll discuss the injury and its aftermath. And one response always leads me to a lingering question. He says he feels fine now and can function normally; but he is not entirely who he was. He is someone slightly different. He can remember the old him, but can not completely relate to that person. It is as if he is a doppelgänger living another man’s life. Over time I think he has grown comfortable in that subtly alien role, though what of the man he replaced? I sometimes wonder if the guy lying on a stretcher looking at me in terror that day didn’t actually perish after all.

Which leaves us with more questions than most people find comfortable to ask at birthday parties. Such as, am I a unique personality of immutable hate? Or could a one degree shift in my hippocampus leave me so mentally inert as to savor Tennessee Coates columns? That I don’t know the answer is a source of some disquiet. Are we something fixed, enduring, and inviolable while our bodies last? Or are we instead just the manifestation of one particular neural traffic pattern, and something else entirely when that’s rerouted?

I’ll tell you why I ask.

Some of you may have heard of the blogger Countenance. He is a small voice in the broad dissident right discussion. I’ve never had an exchange with him of any kind, don’t know any of his positions, and only glanced at his address probably once per year. Though doing so last week I was dismayed to see that he suffered an egregious brain injury this summer, with his prognosis for full recovery (or perhaps any meaningful recovery at all) looking increasingly bleak. A steward is posting in his stead, and probably offering too much personal information if I were to opine.

The injury apparently resulted from his being hit by a driver who was fingering their i(diot)phone, and has stripped another man of his functional life as a result. I can’t claim a virgin’s innocence on that front, but texting while driving is truly an assault on civic responsibility. You may accidentally hit an antifa, but most of the time a collision while distracted will have negative results. So don’t.

Aside from that, I hope who Countenance was remains who he is. And that his unique personality will eventually reemerge from the ruins of his trauma. Whatever the source of our consciousness, we all have a place and a role. The romantic in me wants to believe his role is more than being felled by an imbecile stabbing at the facebook icon.

Godspeed.

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14 thoughts on “The Who In You

  1. My first thoughts of Count’s recovery made me fearful of Reginald Denny – who was transformed from a trucker with the balls to verbally engage a troop of armed teens blocking traffic, into a smiling, drooling husk who now just wanted everyone to just get along. I hope he makes a full recovery, but if one of his noodles gets twisted enough to put his acute political mind at the disposal of shitlibs instead of shitlords, it will be a great loss.
    I’m uncomfortable with his blog’s caretaker’s recent use of scare quotes around the word “accident”. Not because he’s using them, but what it implies. A commenter floated a theory that this was a hitjob, which was poohpoohed because the hitter was a 30yo basement dweller. And maybe also because an effective hit wouldn’t expect a lowspeed impact to result in the unaware victim landing on his noggin at just the right angle to permanently cripple, but not kill him. There was talk early on, about his medical bills and who/how would pay them; but there could be decades of future earnings lost. How do you possibly recover those from a basement dweller or his parents?
    Those years ago, Reginald Denny also got me thinking that people should record a Living Hate Will. E.g., “I hate [blanks], [blanks], and especially those damned [blanks]. If ever I should suffer a brain injury at their muddy hands, and subsequently proclaim my forgiveness and getalongitude for them — DON’T YOU F*CKING BELIEVE ME; AVENGE ME.”
    Similarly, every combat soldier or traveller to the Tird World should pre-record a statement that, “If captured and put before a video camera, I am not really denouncing the U.S.A. or its government, and I am not really declaring my support for the Oppressed Shitpeople’s Liberation Army. It is my firm desire that you MOAB these motherf*ckers before they take evil pleasure in lopping my head off.”

  2. Pingback: The Who In You | Reaction Times

  3. Great article on the physiology of personality and intelligence.
    Incredibly ‘successful’ mass murders like Sandy Hook and Las Vegas make me wonder about the myriad ways people could be controlled. Although it seems the risk/reward system suffices. (As seen in the dearth of conservatives among celebrities, professors, politicians and CEO’s.)
    The nod to texting and driving is much appreciated. That particular menace requires much more attention. Maybe next month, though, because October is consumed by the pink ribbon shrines to the most important disease of all.

  4. After a ladder fall, my concussion symptoms lasted a year. Two years later i still feel like a disjointed shadow of who i was. But my pissed off shitlord attitude is back in spades, so i got that going for me.

  5. I am the “steward” you write about.

    His lawyer has me on a short leash when it comes to what I write about his condition or anything like that. Anything I say in public about it, goes through him.

    I use “accident” in quotes not to make you think that I think that there was some secret conspiracy afoot, but because by our state’s law, the driver was doing nothing illegal, because texting while driving is only a crime in Missouri if you’re under 21. The law considers the circumstance an accident, but I know better, everyone who knows about this knows better, which is why I put “accident” in quotes. Besides, real conspiracies don’t use 30 year old over grown boys who still live in their parent’s houses.

    Money will not be a problem. The lawyer has told me and shown me that there are 4 separate sure-thing funding sources to take care of everything (“make him whole again”). Plus the lawyer has all but said out right that more than those four, there is a behind the curtains sort of money man who is writing checks to keep his personal and business life above water level so that whenever he does come to, however well he’ll come to, and that’s still unknown, he’ll have something to come back to.

    • Your goodwill towards, and personal efforts on behalf of, the fallen blogger are evident. If he comes around, he’ll have little doubt as to his true friends. My only concern, and it is granted not my concern to have, was that a particularly obnoxious antifa shit could glean sufficient information to make an identification, and thus render his already miserable condition somewhat more so.

      • That’s why I keep a lot of things in the locked safe. And I say that to be both figurative and literal. One of his crucial possessions is in my home safe.

        My bigger worry at the moment is that all this happening has wound up bringing a couple of things to the surface, smoking them out, and exposing some bad actors and vicious rumor mongers and liars. I’m in the process of handling those situations.

  6. I wish to add on Daruma and Dmoswski’s comments. It is true that the current official position of today’s ‘Scientific establishment’ regarding Consciousness and Free Will is that these qualities don’t really exist per se. They are just emergences from physic, chemistry, and are reducible to Computations. The proponents of this vision are called ‘Computionalists’ because they believe (but cannot prove) that Free will, consciousness or Awareness ARE ULTIMATELY COMPUTATIONS. ARE and not LIKE Computations. Being a Computation, this implies that consciousness can be simulated by another Computation, aka an Artificial Intelligence, and whether it is in silico or in vivo is totally irrelevant. Now think about an Abacus, which the earliest one have been found made by Sumerians 5000BC. Abacus are just balls of mud and sticks assembled and build to do computations like adding. Is an Abacus aware ? not in the human sense. Despite of that, Computationalists assume that the brain is reducible millions or billions of abacus and that somehow, consciousness emerges out of big numbers, perhaps after a threshold or a singularity in Computational power is reached. Are a trillions abacus really more aware than a single abacus made by a Sumerian 7000 years ago ? Non-Computationalists say NO. And this opinion is supported by the mathematics of Kurt Gödel an Allan Turing. Godel proved that NO SYSTEM of rules can prove its self consistency. You need to get outside of a system to prove that it is consistent and doesn’t contain a paradox. And if the system is proven consistent, it cannot be complete, that is, there are objects, concepts, theories and forms of thinking that are forever out of reach of its deductive power. Consequence : any intelligence system build upon a source code or algorithmic rules, whether it is an AI self-learning algorithms or quantum computer, or an ensemble of 100^100 abacuses shrunk into our cranial volume and cooled to zero kelvin, are limited by incompleteness or self inconsistencies. And this is a recent finding. Let’s say that the first discrepancy between a world entirely reducible to a materialistic computation, appeared with Gödel less than a hundred years ago. So of course not much thought have been given to it, with the exception of Roger Penrose who brilliantly authored two books about it. So, with our understanding of Biological Evolution, which under Darwinism is also consubstantial to a computation, it took 4 billions years of biological computations, from the first living cell until the idea in Gödel’s brains, to hit the first official ‘bug’, or ‘inconsistency’, or ‘paradox’, whatever we want to call it, in the brain of Kurt Godel (note that at this point, an AI running an Evolutionary program should crash upon discovery that ‘I don’t exist’). This inevitable inconsistency may have been found a long time ago by Philosophical or religious approaches, but that is the first time it happened by analytic and logical approach. Because of that, it forced Roger Penrose to propose that awareness, consciousness or free will, arose by non-computational processes. I can’t elaborate more here, you ‘ll have to read Roger Penrose books. Now this is what i wanted to add : there is actually no end to Penrose conjecture. A non-computational Mind destroys recursively any computational process that has given rise to it. Biological Evolution is currently understood as a computational process at the origin of animal and human evolution. Briefly, from a very general point of view, Darwinian Evolution is understood as a set of algorithmic rules that are designed to find solutions to a problem, namely to the problem of survival and reproduction. Said otherwise, Evolution is supposed to find algorithms necessary for an organism to live. Evolution cannot find solutions to problems known by humans to have no solution. Nobody can deny that human consciousness is a product of Biological evolution, yet, if Gödel and Penrose are right, the Mind itself is a problem with no computational solution. Therefore NO Evolutionary system reducible to computations can give rise to Self-Awareness, said otherwise, Evolution itself is not reducible to a computation. And this can continue… To prove that Penrose, Gödel and I, are wrong is simple : create a Self Aware Artificial intelligence. But If you follow the non-computational point of view, you now know that such task is impossible. Yet, AI are everywhere these days in msm, social media and Jewllywood. I see a point to this. ‘They’ prepare our future. AI is just a decoy so that the Elite can hide behind it, wizard of Oz style. As in : ‘It’s not us, it’s the AI’.

    • CALCULUS,

      Neural systems are indeed nothing like collections of abaci or any other type of deterministic, computational system. (Biological) neural systems are neither computational nor deterministic, they are probabilitistic, with any given neuron output dependent on a probability function of multiple inputs, which inputs are in turn probability functions themselves. This gives a highly chaotic system whose output cannot be algorithmically characterized. Whether it would be possible to mimic such a network in silicon is open to debate.

      I will believe the AI people have something when they can make something as simple as an ant…

  7. Daruma,
    Probabilistic models can still produce a set of ‘most likely scenarios’ even if we don’t know which one in particular is going to be produced. Also, there is a big difference between something not being computable in practice because it requires an infinite precision or even a finite number of computations that is too high to be feasible, and a problem that is simply not computable because it has no solution. Roger Penrose addressed these differences very well.
    But I want to go back to the AI problem. Google has produced an AI (remember it was retired because of political incorrectness) and certainly other companies will try there own proprietary AI and upload them to internet or even to our cell phones (although the computations don’t take place in the cell phone). They will most likely be based on neural network and learning machine algorithms. And they may look very smart and fool us sometimes, yet, these AI are just programs and they are absolutely NOT self-aware. They are SIMULATIONS, not self-aware entities, although they are certainly sold to us as fully aware, almost God-like Beings. But God-like beings with the voice of a young female. These AI could be useful, but they could also be used as a curtain. And hiding behind the curtain, will be the Elite.
    Expect a scenario like : ” We support Free Speech and Freedom of Opinion and We did not censure the Kakistocracy Blog, the AI did, not Us ” and 10 years later : “The AI said we must nuke Iran, it’s not us right, it’s the AI…”

    I saw the movie ‘The Circle’ recently and it felt extremely weird when Google was mentioned specifically in the movie as a stepping point towards universal Freedom. The movie conveys the idea that is assumed, like the universal law of Gravity that, when every human on Earth is interconnected in a Google neural network, then Universal Freedom has been achieved. Right… I saw the movie after the programmer dude was fired from Google for voicing his opinion.

    But the shadow behind the AI curtain may have an even more terrifying agenda. I can explain it by reference to the first Blade Runner movie. Deckard is an (assumed) human agent trying to ascertain if Rachel is a woman or a AI-Replicant, and Deckard asks a set of questions that are supposed to destabilize a Replicant. If i recall correctly, the movie refers Deckard’s interview of Rachel as a ‘Turing-test’ and there are at least one version of the movie where Deckard cannot ascertain with certainty if Rachel is, or is not an AI. This immediately leads Deckard to question his own assumed Humanity (he looks at pictures of his mother and wonder if they are real). Because logically, if he cannot prove that a Machine is indeed a Machine, then he cannot prove that he himself, is not a machine. This is exactly what could be behind the spread of AI, sold to us as sentient entities, which they cannot be : it is to strip us of our humanity. Then it is open buffet for the Elite. Our organs, our children, our soul, everything is for sale, it’s a true master plan for the Devil and his servants. Last year I recall that some lawyers spoke seriously about ‘Legal Rights’ for AI, I never heard anything more stupid, yet it was considered seriously. The way the AI narrative is worded and presented to us makes me very suspicious.

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