Saturday, June 9, 2018

Tucson article / Bourdain / Weiskrantz memorial

it's been a rather emotional couple of days. it was Larry Weiskrantz's memorial. and then my favorite living author Anthony Bourdain died. strangely these have been helpful in putting things into perspective, for something i've struggled with for a while.

people often think of Bourdain as a TV celebrity. i enjoyed watching those shows too. but Kitchen Confidential was something else. in a better world that would have been how i like my book on consciousness to read like. but too bad i'm not as good a writer, nor do i think the world is quite ready to accept a scientist to write in that kind of tone exactly.

but i have to say that sense of mourning paled in comparison when i watched Larry's memorial online (https://livestream.com/oxuni/weiskrantz). unlike my relationship with Bourdain, i knew Larry in person. in the last post i also hinted at some interesting kind of academic lineage. but above all, Larry's work defined my adult life. one could sum up all my work on consciousness to date as nothing more than some footnotes to help people understand what blindsight really means. i only got to have work to do at all thanks to people who continue to miss the point entirely (e.g. this; search for the word "judiciously").

it is in this sentimental context that i respond to this piece on the Tucson conference, which just came out. on a different day maybe i would have been more bothered by how lunatic some of my soundbites appeared, when they are somewhat taken out of context. but i guess these are just the nature of soundbites.

i did write to Dave Chalmers to clarify and had a nice exchange of a few emails. thanks Dave for ever having a heart so big to not take offense.

i may write more to clarify later. but for now... whatever is really all i can come up with. i'm sorry. just as Bourdain was important but not nearly as important as Weiskrantz, whatever happens to the Tucson conference is just not that important to me anymore. if you are bothered or intrigued by the article and wanted to talk more, i can only recommend two things.

first is to go to the other conference which is actually run by a professional society. without doing that one really should not be judging the field, making funding decisions for or about it etc.

second is to watch the stream from Larry's memorial (https://livestream.com/oxuni/weiskrantz), and ponder in that context what they mean when people say the modern study of consciousness was revived / reorganized in the 1990s.

to those who know the history - as a field we have made a Faustian pact of sort, and borrowed something we don't deserve via sheer black magic. we should be aware that we will probably have to repay that debt one day. sometimes debts are better settled sooner rather than later, for the interests may well rake up.

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