Monthly Archives: March 2021

Suffering as Cybernetic Failure

From a stable and relaxed standing position, if you lean slightly you'll feel a slight impulse to push yourself back to center, unless you're operating at a higher level of the hierarchy of perception and interpreting a forward lean as neutral in order to walk forwards. If you get pushed far enough to break your ability to "push back" to centered, you hit cybernetic dysregulation, & panic and flail.

"Cybernetics" just means control systems, like thermostats, though sometimes in a higher-dimensional space with more complicated optimization targets. Balance while standing is a cybernetic process, we automatically apply force proportional to our degree of misalignment in order to keep ourselves at the desired physical orientation.

A lot of judo - Feldenkrais emphasizes this in Higher Judo - involves learning to treat local cybernetic dysregulation as part of a dynamic process of finding a new stable-but-mobile orientation, instead of trying to hold onto a single fixed posture, in other words, learning to fall without losing control.

For very many people, things like intense sadness and frustration are like being pushed over is to someone who isn't skilled at judo; they experience not just falling but panic at being knocked over.

If you don't experience sadness or frustration as suffering, that means it doesn't make you want to die / feel like you deserve death / feel profoundly dysregulated. In short, you're not interpreting frustration or sadness as a cybernetic failure. The experience of cybernetic failure is distinct and separable from any of these other experiences, but in most people they are highly correlated so they are blended perceptually.

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On Some Buddhist Teachings

Having read Ingram's Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha (MCTB) clarified for me that key features on "path" are artifacts from persistently blocked info flows seekers are specifically advised to ignore. The description of 3 characteristics is clear enough for me to feel like I can articulate disagreement: 

Suffering - or, Sure, Enlightenment is Great, but Have You Ever Tried Wiggling?

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Honey Butter and the Grain War

Ate a bunch of butter topped with raw honey and salt yesterday, and I feel just fine today. Increasingly impressed by Dave Asprey, who seems to hold an unusual posture with respect to health that involves just orienting towards value, not picking sides.

Paleo / low-carb / carnivore cluster is biased towards hunter-gatherer autonomy, against agricultural norms and social control, macho, individualistic. Vegan / puritan / low-fat / Kellogg cluster ends up promoting rules that favor people with compliant metabolism. Butter is very clearly an agricultural food, but has the desirable performance and health attributes that the *logic* of paleo/keto/carnivore points towards. Honey violates crude versions of this logic but empirically is just good. Noticing both as good requires equipoise.

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Pete Walker's Model of CPTSD

Been reading Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving. Realized that in that book's ontology, interacting with other live humans is enough to put me in a (low-grade, very high-functioning) flashback. Woke up this morning* and spent a few minutes reminding myself that I'm not gonna get yelled at for being late to a thing, it's OK, I'm safe...

Not knowing about the kind of deep work things like meditation enable is one of the two big things the book gets wrong. It also buys into the frame that trauma is mainly a problem deviants have, even as it points out a lot of things that imply our "normal" is trauma, e.g. it points out that (a) emotional neglect is enough to cause CPTSD, (b) successful treatment of CPTSD leads to above-"normal" emotional intelligence.

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