13 July 2009

The Default Region

I was out for birthday drinks with friends this afternoon and started blabbing my mouth about this here "BLAT!", which has been largely a secret blog since its inception. So, I've given myself a little taste of exactly the sort of anxiety over productivity that I can accuse of stultifying my productivity. One reaction I had to that tonight was, "If I write anything whatsoever, I should prob'ly use it to pad the blog..."

I was thinking, specifically, about a comment I posted on a BoingBoing story this morning. There's been a spate (if two can make a spate) of posts there this weekend about the "default state", or region, of the mind--those areas of gray matter whose electro-chemical activity increases when focus and attention on specific tasks has ceased, i.e. the bits of brain that light up when the mind wanders.

Cory Doctorow's post, this morning, about a UC-Santa Barbara brain researcher's theories on the subject was titled "Wandering minds are active minds". As interesting as I think this is, I'm equally interested by the fact that I've been unable, even now, to summon enough attention to read the post the whole way through, not to mention whatever article it's drawn from. Nonetheless, I was moved to send in a comment:

Ought not there be a "Previously:" link to Pesco's Default state of the human brain post from yesterday? Or are you guys doing that thing like y'all did with that guest blogger about global warming a few months back? No, wait--I don't want to go there... I'm trying to read both these default region posts to determine if there's a controversy... Y'know, I can't even focus long enough to get from beginning to end on posts about mental wandering. But I'm excited if this flurry of posts implies that there's some new strain of science that might lead to pharmacological helpers fine tuned to dampen the default noise levels from time to time... regardless of whether these things happen to already exist... What was I... Nootropics! That's what I'm talking about! Is this what Ritalin, or Piracetam, and/or other "smart drugs" are trying to squelch, the default "noise"?
I love really noisy music. I bet that's analogous to my cluttered mental state.... There has to be some measurable qualitative difference in the operations of the default regions for people like me, compared to people like Cory and/or Merlin Mann, who may or may not love noise themselves, but whose mental wanderings are much more demonstrably subservient to their creative exploits. Er, well, there doesn't have to be, I guess... I dunno. If what Frank W. said, above, about meditation being a time and place for mental wandering, is right, then I have a completely different understanding of the default state of my brain, 'cause it sure as fuck ain't the same as what I'm shooting for in my paltry efforts at meditating!
Some of the blog conversation today--actually, how it came up--pertained to an email I'd sent earlier in the week to the beer'n'pizza group list (and proceeded, soon thereafter, to append to my "birthday post" here, from last year). I'd already forgotten the issue addressed in the email--it wasn't important to begin with, and I was just writing for entertainment value. I was told I should start a blog. It raises questions for me about my audience... like... I wonder if I'm actually trying to communicate anything to anyone, or if... Well, with this blog, I mean, I'm just trying to entertain myself... like that's the purpose it's serving. I'm able to organize my...

Okay. Now I feel like I've just discovered my navel.

I was explaining to someone a few weeks ago that one of the reasons Deb and I aren't having children is that I have my head too far up my own ass to be responsible for a tot.

Memo to self: resist urge to blog after 1am.

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