Week 7/ Stream of Unconsciousness/ Ariel Alter

Oftentimes when I’m trying to explain something, I mumble and attempt to verbally delineate a logic in my thinking, bringing up characters in this grand narrative that arise immaculately like Athena out of Zeus’s head. However, the only modicum of resemblance these characters have to Athena is that they simply arise. Oftentimes, my ideas don’t communicate to the person I’m talking to, even though I’m gesticulating and wavering like a rotoscoped animation in Waking Life.

Then, when the person I’m talking to doesn’t understand my incoherent gibberish, I realize that I am not explaining whatever I am trying to explain inside my mind properly (I take it whatever is going on in there resembles this). I get confused and angry and often enraged, like a chimp that can only communicate its anger for being caged and tortured his entire life by ripping off a lady’s face, or a zookeeper’s testicles. Thus, there is a rupture between how I communicate to myself and its verbal manifestation. But then I joke to the confused and maimed listener, “Sorry, I don’t have theory of mind.” HO HA HE HA HO.

Theory of mind is the ability to recognize that someone has a different state of consciousness, or “beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc.” other than one’s own. In Siddharth Ramakrishnan’s lecture on Thursday, he explored this fascinating facet of consciousness. Humans, being considered- by humans- as the most clever of beasts, exhibit their ability to anticipate another’s perceptions and adjust their behavior accordingly, perfect purveyors of theory of mind. Animals are often distinguished (by humans, once again, imposing their umvelt on every facet of existence) as not having a higher state of consciousness, if higher consciousness is the ability to stop and reflect about oneself situated in one’s environment. However, theory of mind seems to exist fervently in nature, exhibited in the cephalopod’s hyper/ photo-realistic mimicry of its surroundings to evade predators. The cephalopod changes into an exact replica of elements in its environment, provoking gasps from an audience of a scientific lecturer on TED (gasps that haven’t been around since PT Barnum sewed a chimp’s torso to a fish’s tail and called it a mermaid). That means the cephalopod perceives its environment, and recognizes that other creatures perceive their environment. Anyway, enough of my semi-conscious stream of conscious recount, I thought that I would end with a more discursive analysis of the Siddharth Ramakrishnan lecture:

Animals are smarter than you think and shit. Like I saw this thing on youtube, and it was a crow and he like, made this hook and got a basket out of a bottle. I know, I paint a good picture with words, a word portrait if you will. So anyways, this neuroscience guy was all like, “yo look at this octopus.” and I was like, “that guy is lying, that ain’t no octopus!” But after I stood up and called him out in the middle of the slide show he was like, “Damn gurl, settle down, it’s only pretendin’ to be a thing of seaweed.” And I was like, “really?” and he was all, “yeah, you can put the broken bottle down now.”

    So I was like, yo that octopus was not only able to change its skin color, but it was all like, hey I’m gonna change the texture of my skin and stuff, to look like some seaweed. That shit is smart.

    I then woke up to bees incinerating a W.A.S.P. to death.

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