You couldn’t know this, but my blogging workspace is littered with balls of virtual crumpled paper. The ones writers make when they rip failed writing attempts from their typewriter, smush them up in disgust, and toss them disdainfully over their shoulder. This post — which has been in my mental queue for well over a year — has the strongest resistance to being written that I’ve ever encountered.
I wrote the note you see here somewhere back in 2013. It seemed like exactly the sort of thought chain that would make an interesting post. Many of the items in that chain (consciousness, art, science) are things that fascinate me and are even areas this blog tries to discuss.
So why is a post about it so dang hard to write?
If you have read this blog much, you know that a topic that interests me greatly is the nature of consciousness. How is it that a three-pound clump of cells, a brain, gives rise to the rich experience of consciousness, our minds? Cognitive scientist David Chalmers termed this “the hard problem” of consciousness, and as it stands we really have no idea what consciousness is (and yet we all experience it all the time).
Back in 1979 cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter wrote Gödel, Escher, Bach, a book that attempts to answer the question. GEB, as it became known, was a large book most took as a random tour of interesting scientific ideas. But GEB did have a theme, so 25 years later Hofstadter wrote another (much shorter) book to re-state his case.
That book is called I Am a Strange Loop, and it has much worth considering!
Imagine standing on a very tall hill in middle of a thick forest. Your hill is tall enough to take you above the trees; when you look out over the trees, you can see for miles around you. Ahead you can see another hill sticking above the trees; this is your goal.
You want to reach that hill.
A question arises; you are asked, “How long will it take to reach yon hill? What will you need along the way?”