online: 4 september 2004
modified: 4 september 2004

1 september 2004 fragmentary perceptions

19:33 Pond 2. I sat here for half an hour continuing to read Charles Sherrington (whose book Man On His Nature I read all afternoon...*)

Carried by his well-informed connected mind, I felt that his is the scale of thought that is needed in any attempt, misguided or not, to 'improve the world' (or 'to improve our industrialising life' as I prefer to put it... )

I look up and see coots swimming, diving, squawking and chasing each other, with wings flapping, across the surface of the water...

And now, given these two thoughts (equally satisfactory!) I set off to walk while it's still light...

As I walked I noticed three people sitting beneath a bushy tree. Together with the tree they seemed to comprise a 'scene', a single element, a visual cliche perhaps, as if in a chocolate box painting...

And then, as I looked at a block of flats showing above a row of trees, I realised that I was inferring the presence of the their lower stories - what if objects hidden behind nearer objects don't exist?...

As I walked on beneath a pale blue sky thinking these visual thoughts I saw the whole scene as if magically changed... Yes, I said to myself, I am perceiving that my perceiving has altered, at least for the moment.

The city lit up as is this screen . Simlt te fom nntts- [fragmentary note: it became too dark to write properly.]

*Sir Charles Sherrington, Man On His Nature, Cambridge University Press, second edition, 1951. (Second hand copies of this and later editions are available from )

Here are some of the his words that I marked while reading chapter V, on evolution:

p130: When a single specialization becomes highly effective for its purpose, it tends to become so inextricably entangled in the circumstances of a particular place and time, that it can never be disentangled... the surround is always becoming another surround. A specialization outlives its use. It can become a fatal encumbrance. The more general has to be repeated, as a starting-point for fresh departure...
[A refutation of 'survival of the fittest' - when the context changes it's more like 'survival of the unfit'!]

p140: Many living things are all the time busy becoming something other than what they are.

p137: ...our mind is the vertebrate mind.

p138: The imagination of the medium during trance, instead of revealing unearthliness, is earth-bound with a banality that the literary imagination does not suffer...

[Except when writing science fiction perhaps?]

p138: ...Mind's earthliness innately shapes all it does, perhaps most when it tries to be unearthly.

As I edit this entry, trying to capture in barely grammatical sentences something more visual than literary, I experience a web of rapid thoughts connecting aspects of Sherrington's thought with these fragmentary perceptions... I hope they will re-emerge, more connectedly than here, if and when my brain and nervous system is sufficiently provoked by incompatibilities to write something more coherent. [see page 47 of my still-alive book Design Methods, John Wiley and Sons, New York, 1970/1992.]

(these pages are designed to be read with the window set to two-thirds of the screen width)

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