Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mental Hallways of Potential Knowledge & Self-Imposed Red Herrings: What I have learned from The Talos Principle (Part 1)

This blog post deals with two ideas that have been floating around in my head recently since I started playing a game called The Talos Principle - how information we acquire unconsciously can becomes conscious knowledge and how our environment naturally causes our own ideas to blind us from potential solutions to life's problems.

Part 1 = the former, part 2: the latter.

The first idea began even before I started playing the game.  It was born as a result of the struggle I went through to be able to play the game.  Despite the fact that my computer was more than capable of running the game on even recommended settings, I had a hard time getting the game to work.  Needless to say I managed to fix the problem but what I realized upon retrospect is quite interesting.

The solution to my problem required that I connect (3) separate pieces of information in my head, all of which I had acquired at separate points in time.

(1) was a tidbit I learned a long time ago about the nature of .exe files.  Many years ago I learned that .exe files are self-contained programs that can be transferred between various computers with a thumb drive or the like and can be run autonomous from anything else on the computer.  I learned this from my experience with the anti-virus software TDSSKiller.  This software is contained in a .exe file which allows it to be used on any computer without the need to interact with the windows OS and be installed.  The advantage to this is that it maintains a distance from any sort of virus that can detect installed anti-virus programs and thus circumvent them.  This allows TDSSKiller to catch some types of viruses that others cannot.

(2) was a tidbit I learned the night before I encountered the problem.  The version of the game I got had extra content ("making of" videos, soundtracks, etc.) that you could access without needing to run the game.  You  just had to install the game and open up the game directory to access the raw files.  Therein lied a folder containing the video and music files which you could then open them up with your own playback software (VLC player, etc.)  Well I must have misstepped somewhere because I stumbled upon a folder that contained 2 separate .exe files - both containing "The Talos Principle" in their titles but followed with different terminology that still makes no sense to me.  At the time (the night before) there was no conscious mental note of this - I emphasize the conscious aspect because as you will soon see I did make note of it in another way.

(3) was the final tidbit that I learned the moment of, while trying to troubleshoot the problem.  I had sought counsel from the internet regarding a possible solution and was led to a "game launch" menu I could access from the Steam library menu (I bought the game through Steam FYI).  Therein I was told to input various pieces of codes to alter the default screen resolution as the problem was suspected to be that the game was trying to start in a resolution my monitor could not handle and would therefore shutdown automatically.  The tidbit, however, that catalyzed the process with led to the actual solution was an observation I made while within that "game launch" menu.  There was a option that allowed me to designate a file Steam would access upon launching the game and I noticed that Steam was accessing an .exe file titled "The Talos Principle XXX (It wasn't a pornographic version of the game I just don't remember the rest and it doesn't matter anyways)".

If you haven't connected the dots yourself by now, don't worry, I love you and will do it for you now.

Tidbit #3 showed me that I could alter which file Steam accessed.  Combine this with tidbit #2 and I knew there were another .exe file besides the one Steam was currently accessing.  Yet, even with all this info I did not know the solution.  I still needed to combine all this with Tidbit #1 - knowledge that .exe files are self-contained programs.  Only after all these separate pieces of knowledge were connected did I realize that I had two different files labeled "The Talos Principle",  that they were each a self-contained program (in this case a game) and that I could tell Steam to access either one.  Under these conditions the idea hit me to tell Steam to access the other .exe file with "The Talos Principle" in its title, and sure enough, as a result, the game started up without a hitch.

Problem solved.

In all 3 experiences, the actual information I used to solve this problem was obtained indirectly, and thus stored unconsciously while I was engaged in a completely unrelated experience with it's own separate beginning and end.  This is despite the fact that each piece of information was obtained at separate points in time.  Add the chronology to the mix and we see that if the information was learned in any other order I possibly would not have found the solution because I would have lacked the necessary information to make the correct connection.  If anyone reading this is thinking, "It was fate" or "everything happens for a reason", I agree with you on the latter but completely spit on the former.  Everything that happened in the 3 chronologically separate experiences did indeed happen for a reason, but the reasons had nothing to do with the solution in which the 3 tidbits were used (in case you missed it, the bolded part is my spit).  Each tidbit was acquired indirectly and stored unconsciously while I was engaged in an experience headed by its own unique reason.  When something is stored unconsciously, it means it is not relevant to the reason at hand.  The reason that headed (1)'s acquisition was I needed some anti-virus software.   (2) was headed by my desire to consume the game's extra content.  (3) was a result of me following someone else's footsteps towards a solution that proved inapplicable to me situation.  It was not fate that provided my solution, it was simply the human brain using its working memory to draw information from both its long and short-term memory banks.  The solution I came upon could have easily failed as well as work.  It was pure luck that it worked.  But it was not luck that caused the connection between the 3 tidbits that provided the solution.

And there lies all the beauty of what it means to be human and solve problems.

Through letting the human brain do its organizational magic combined with a healthy dose of trial and error, a original solution for a original problem (relative to me of course) was created.

The moral of this story?

Sometimes we acquire stuff that is so irrelevant to the problem or experience at hand we just throw it away.  But our brain knows better - which is why it has a special place where it puts this stuff...just in case.  This place is......THE HALLWAYS OF THE MIND.  Every single piece of information that manages to make it into our conscious awareness (meaning everything registers in our eyes/ears/nose/skin/tongue/and ultimately our mind) receives its own little picture frame and is hung one of the HALLWAYS OF THE MIND.  However, since the mind is a physical object, it suffers from the same ailment as all things on this planet (including the planet) - limited space.  We become aware of insane amounts of stuff 24 hours a day, 366 days a year so space is always an issue.  But fret not, for every piece of stuff that's placed on the wall is also given a time stamp that says how long this piece of stuff is allowed to hang there.  Here is the fun part.  There is a housekeeper whose sole job is to walk up and down these HALLWAYS OF THE MIND and toss any item of stuff that has exceeded its welcome.  Now the rules that determine the time stamped on each item and by which this housekeeper abides are still largely unknown - mostly due to the fact that they function within the unconscious realm (which is another way of saying they skip all the senses that make up our consciousness and answer directly to the Boss Brain itself).  But we have discovered clues to some of them:

- The length of time stamped on a piece of stuff depends on the conditions surrounding when we became aware of it.  The more powerful the conditions, the longer the time stamped on that particular stuff.   For example the time stamp on stuff like death differs depending on whether we become aware of it due to conditions of say a family member versus roadkill.
- Sometimes we can alter the time stamp.  For example, if the piece of stuff was stamped with say 3 days, and within those 3 days we end up becoming aware of that piece of stuff again, we directly extend the length of time on it's stamp.
- How we become aware the stuff within it's initial time stamp also affects how long we can alter its time stamp.  Using the previous example, within the 3 days, if we become aware of the stuff in the same way in which we were initially made aware of it we only alter the time stamp minorly, versus it being a completely different way.  For example, if I become aware of a piece of stuff while riding a bike to school and then become aware of it again while riding the same bike, down the same path, to the same school, I will alter the time stamp on that stuff only minorly.  But if I become aware of it again while watching TV instead, I will alter the time stamp more significantly.  Even altering just one of the conditions surrounding the original encounter will lengthen the time stamp more, for example becoming aware of the same stuff while riding the same bike, and going to the same school, but on a different path.

We do however, know one rule.

- The longer a piece of stuff remains hanging on the wall, the more consciously aware of it we are and the more we identify with it, until it has remained there for so long it once again recedes back into the realm of the unconscious but this time as a instinct.  An example of something like this is when a adult learns words within a new language.  Initially their time stamp is short, then after every use it gets longer and longer until the adult identifies with the word, thinks of it has a part of him/her.  If the word is continued to be used beyond this point, the adult no longer thinks of the word anymore.  It just comes to mind whenever it is needed to be said, like a fart....or instinct.

There are many more clues we have discovered but I need to pee and go to the bank.  Stay tuned for part 2.  Goodbye.

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