General Question

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Are you a medium, or a message?

Asked by RealEyesRealizeRealLies (30874points) May 25th, 2009

The flesh and blood, the body you have, is a medium. The thoughts you possess, your knowledge, desires, fears… those are messages.

What are you?

Will the body outlive desire? Is bone more stable than knowledge? Does fear succumb to flesh, or does flesh succumb to fear?

We are more than the corporeal elements of our construction. As our body dies, others will share the same dreams as we once entertained. Our knowledge is passed down, or hopes are rekindled in the eyes of another.

Are you a medium, or a message?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

71 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

@Real; Quick, while you have time, change “past” to “passed.”

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@gailcalled

wuuuppps! Thank you Gail!

wundayatta's avatar

Shoot, Sherlocke. I don’t think that’s up to us. We are both. It is up to others to determine what we mean. If we mean anything to anyone, we are message, as well as medium.

wildpotato's avatar

Creation is a process of transubstantiation: Joyce said that “the subjective economy of writing [is] the advent of new signs and a new body” (Julia Kristeva, Time and Sense 245). Kristeva goes on to say, drawing on the work of Frances Tustin, that this is demonstrated in autistic symptoms – psychologically speaking, our behavior (“the message”) has been imprinted on us by the behavior of others. Kristeva writes, “I believe it would be legitimate to transpose…interpenetration and reversibility – which operate between who or what perceives and what is perceived and between who or what feels and what is felt – not only onto psychoanalysis but onto the reading of literary texts” (Ibid., 246). So the medium becomes the message – Proust died to finish his novel.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@wildpotato @daloon

And what happens to the message when the medium dies?

Kayak8's avatar

Wow, medium . . . I have always thought I was well done, now I shall have to rethink my entire reality . . .

as, perhaps, I am not done at all . . .

Kayak8's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

But I am still here, producing and creating and using up oxygen . . .

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Kayak8

As you will be here after as well.

Kayak8's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Only as long as the people who remember me remain.

wundayatta's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies The message survives as long as there are people who remember it. Some messages survive an awful lot longer than others.

Kayak8's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Can’t respond anymore, working on my novel so something outlives me . . .

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Kayak8 @daloon

I know the messages of many people who I don’t remember, even ones that I’ve never met. The essence of their message is the essence of their personage.

I have no evidence that a message can ever die. I can point to many mediums that die.

From the moment my voice sends vibrations into the cosmos, or the point where my brain has rippled its waves, the message has been released. Who am I to say where it will go? I know that it goes. I know that message is just as much a part of me as any hair lost to the drain. I know that I go. I have infused myself into the universe. What does memory have to do with that?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I am a medium without a doubt
always have been a vessel

wundayatta's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies If a tree falls in a forest, and noone’s there to hear it, does it make a sound?

We’ve been through this. Nothing exists without consciousness to become aware of its existence. You may be a pebble dropped in the water and your vibrations may go on a long time, but eventually they will be drowned out by other activity. You may believe in a causal chain that leads from here on forward, that can be traced backwards to this point, thus identifying you as the source. But there are chains of events that can’t be traced back to their source. Not even if you are omniscient.

The message gets lost eventually. Infusion into the universe is not message any more. It’s a past that is not just forgotten, but irretrievable.

eponymoushipster's avatar

i could go for a massage, if you get the message.

Blondesjon's avatar

I am neither. I am a voice.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

Irretrievable to this realm… possibly. There is no shortage of lost ancient messages found.

Scientifically speaking, when a tree falls it causes vibrations. Vibrations make sounds. The sound of fingers typing away on your keyboard are not dependent upon my witnessing of them. They are just as real as the sound of a tree falling in the woods without our witnessing of it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Blondesjon

That voice has spoken. I get the message.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

Was the message you just sent to me a part of you?

wundayatta's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies And that explains the difference in our answers. although I do have another thought

sure, tress falling makes vibrations, but sound is a human concept. In other words, the falling of the tree means nothing without someone who can make meaning out of it. There can be no sound without a listener. Until the listener is there, it is just vibrations.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

Then who shall I say that I am speaking with?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@real
the universe

cookieman's avatar

is now the appropriate time to pass the joint to the left?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

Did the squirrels hear the tree fall? Do squirrels know about the human concept of sound?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

It is truly my pleasure. That’s why I feel like I’m talking to myself.

Ivan's avatar

I am a collection of cells. Whichever category that puts me in.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Ivan

That would be medium sir. But I’ll always think ripely of you. (Ripe as in Fond).

eponymoushipster's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies wait wait wait…i just was thinkin’...wait wait….what if…what if everything is just is just stuff?! i know i know. my mind blew just thinkin’ about it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@eponymoushipster

I think I will. Thank you again.

fireside's avatar

I’m a medium for a message. The message is more important than the medium.

loser's avatar

I’m a loser.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I don’t think it is fair to separate the two. My thoughts and ideas (message by your jargon) are a product of electrochemical interactions in my neuronal complexes, which is a part of my body (medium by your jargon). Since neither can continue without the other, I think it is fair to say that they are the same thing – a person.

cookieman's avatar

@jonsblond: here ya go… ::cough::

@eponymoushipster, @loser: want some?

TaoSan's avatar

The universe has a way of not letting anything go to waste. We’re all made of stardust.

dynamicduo's avatar

I disagree with your statement, “We are more than the corporeal elements of our construction.” I do believe we are nothing more than the outcome of random chance, natural selection, and millions of years. Thus I don’t believe we are either medium or message. We simply are.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh

If IT is a product OF, then how is IT the same AS?

Your message may be from the medium, but it is not the same as the medium. Your message can continue for centuries after your medium has died. Your current message is in multiple places at once as we speak together here.

The YOU has to be somewhere. Are YOU, @FireMadeFlesh, residing the medium or the message?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@dynamicduo

Will you provide a proven example where random chance plus time gave natural selection a mechanism to operate upon?

wundayatta's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Yes the squirrels probably heard it, but that is not sufficient for it to have made a sound. I don’t communicate well with squirrels, and so I don’t believe they have the capability of manipulating symbols. They can’t tell me about the tree falling, so there still is no way of knowing or perceiving the sound.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@daloon the squirrels tell me everything. they’re nuts.

Ria777's avatar

a DNA message to the next generation. I won’t have kids, though, that message will not get delivered.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

How do squirrels probably hear something that didn’t make a sound?

Squirrels definitely manipulate symbols. For instance, they commonly vocalize their chatter to warn of predators. Whale song, wolf howls, and possibly bee waggles are the same.

The tree falling means something different to the squirrel than it does to humans. Since the falling tree does not produce a meaningful message, we each describe our own observation as to what that instance means to us. If the falling tree did produce a meaningful message, then we would all understand it as the same.

The squirrel possibly describes the tree falling as “danger” through a cry recognizable by other squirrels as “danger”.

The human describes the tree falling as “danger”, “old age”, “bad weather”, “termites”, “timber!”, or “fire wood”.

Science understands that friction causes vibrations, and that causes sound. We confidently infer the existence of a sound where the reality of a past friction has been determined. No one needs to have witnessed the tree falling in order for it to have made a sound any more than we need to have witnessed a death to determine if someone has died. We infer past instances of reality based upon the predictable, repeatable, testable reality of the current.

wildpotato's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Heidegger would be proud of you. As he says, the world is for the sake of Dasein (us humans) – there would be no meaningful world without Dasein.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@wildpotato

He understands that humans must author code to describe their observations. And so we author meaning in the process. Hence, the world produces no pre existing code that we can read. Hence we are each free to author separate meanings. Where there is no meaning, we are free to author one.

But when we do find a pre existing code, the meaning has already been authored. Meaning is authored at the point of transmission… not receiving. If we authored meaning during reception, communication would be impossible.

wundayatta's avatar

Creating vibrations in air is a physical process. Interpreting those vibrations as sound is a human process. If there is no human there, there can not possibly be a sound. Sound is something that humans do when their ears detect vibrations. Sometimes we hear sounds where there are none. Sometimes we don’t hear sounds even though there are vibrations in the air.

It is humans that make meaning. Without humans, everything is meaningless to us. It might be meaningful to some other entity, but if we don’t exist, we can’t possibly know that.

You and I have a different attitude about inference. You are confident in your inferences. I remain skeptical. I have experienced the way my mind can perceive things that other people don’t perceive. I have had it nearly kill me. I have to believe that meaning is uncertain, and possibly a complete lie. I have to leave open the possibility for other meanings. I’d be dead by now if I didn’t.

If you place such a strong regard on inference, then you kill hope.

Meaning is created by receivers. What authors intend is irrelevant. It’s what the receiver believes is intended that matters. Once you author something, you have to set it free in the world, and it is no longer yours. Communication is a perilous business, and is, in fact, a close to being impossible as it can get without it being impossible.

wildpotato's avatar

@daloon I agree with everything you said – meaning is indeed created by receivers. But that doesn’t directly entail that “What authors intend is irrelevant. It’s what the receiver believes is intended that matters. Once you author something, you have to set it free in the world, and it is no longer yours.” This is a heavy topic of debate in philosophy of literature.

Proust, however, would probably agree with you on this point – he started writing In Search of Lost Time as an essay (called Contre Sainte-Beuve) against the idea that in order to understand a work, you have to read it in view of the author’s whole life.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon @wildpotato

When mission control tells the astronaut to “hit the thrusters”, is the astronaut wise to interpret that statement as “show me your ass”?

Nothing… absolutely nothing could be accomplished on the human spectrum if meaning were placed at the receptor.

We would have to throw out the phrase “what did YOU mean by that”.

I propose that the majority of problems facing humanity could be thwarted if we all concentrated on understanding the meaning from one who has spoken, rather than making up our own meaning upon reception.

wildpotato's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies My point was that meaning is created by both authors and receivers. It is not a matter of “making up” so much as inevitably interpreting. What you are talking about deals with hermeneutics, not ontology of identity.

wundayatta's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies We do concentrate on understanding the meaning of the author; it’s just that we can not know if we got it or not. It helps, I believe to be aware of that. We do ask “what do you mean by that,” because it is so difficult to figure it out. Most of the time, there is, I believe, a lot of error in the communications process.

Part of the reason humanity has so many problems is because, despite concentrating hard on understanding, we don’t understand each other. Or, at least, that’s what I’ve inferred. In fact, I’m pretty sure that you and I are missing a lot of what each other says, and I leave open the possibility that we are actually saying the same thing, but we just don’t know it. And I believe we are both trying really, really hard.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@wildpotato

My point was that it is a mistake for receivers to “make” meaning when it has already been “made” by the transmitter.

Shannon/Yockey communication protocols require for transmission to contain meaning. If not, then nothing can be transmitted. If the receiver does not “get the message” then nothing can be communicated and hence instructions cannot be followed.

The duty of the receiver is to receive. If the receiver does not receive, then it is not a receiver. Receivers are not transmitters.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

Shannon/Yockey protocols insure that the intended message is received through error correction, noise reduction, redundancy and code mapping A to B.

If the protocols are followed, and every element does its job,(receivers receive)... then the intended message will be successfully transmitted.

English has a 50% redundancy feature. German has a 30% redundancy. You can communicate faster with German, but English is more accurate. If you took away half of the words I’m writing here, you would still be able to get the essence of my intended meaning. You could not do that with German, though it would have been said quicker.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

For the sake of understanding, trying really really hard. I fully admit that (human) receivers do “make” meaning upon reception. Will you concede that as a mistake, and the major cause for the breakdown of human communication?

wildpotato's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies But perfect reception is impossible. Ever hear of the epistemic barrier? We can only reach a certain ground of knowledge, past that you can never ‘know’ anything at all, let alone another’s intended message to you. I tried looking up Shannon/Yockey protocols on Wiki, but they lack the page – could you provide a link or an explanation of how they work, and why they enable us to overcome the epistemic barrier?

wundayatta's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies That’s simply a matter of faith. There’s no way of proving the accurate message has been transmitted. We can only infer that from the evidence that we can predict behavior based on communication that we’ve done a better or worse job of decoding.

As to receivers making meaning, yes, it is a major cause for breakdown of communication, but I don’t see what else we can do. If we didn’t make meaning, then the information would be so incomplete we couldn’t do anything.

We probably perceive very little of what is there to be perceived. I recently heard of some research about vision. Our eyes may take samples of what’s out there, but we don’t “see” everything. Our brains have built models that allow us to build a picture from a sample of about 10% (if I remember correctly) of what is there to be seen.

I suspect we do this not just with vision, but with all kinds of other modes of perception, including attempts at communication.

@wildpotato Just look up Yockey. You’ll get an entry, and that will lead you to other things, if you google him.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@wildpotato

Yes, I keep a copy of them on my server for quick reference.

Claude Shannon’s model from “A Mathematical Theory of Communication”
http://www.ctphotographx.com/clients/infotheory/ShannonComModel.jpg

Hubert Yockey’s model from “Information Theory, Evolution and the Origin of Life”
http://www.ctphotographx.com/clients/infotheory/YockneyComModel.jpg

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

Our only hope is in our attempt to truly listen. Information entropy is a fact, and 100% of the message will never get to the destination. Our goal is to extract as much of the original message as possible and ensure it gets to the final destination. But adding meaning at the end of a transmission is exactly the same as adding noise to the original signal. Clear the lines as much as possible, starting with getting our “self ego” out of the way.

wundayatta's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies It is adding noise, or maybe not. Perhaps it is a way of taking the available information, and accurately filling in the missing parts. Sometimes it’ll work that way, and sometimes it’ll add more noise. However, I believe it is necessary, or it would be impossible to communicate at all. It does lead to many a misunderstanding, of course.

When people are unaware they are doing it, they can easily detect communication where it was not intended, or from non-human entities or even inanimate objects. So, for example, I consider natural beauty to be a form of art. It “speaks” to me. Perhaps my ability to decode communication where it does not come from a sentient entity is a survival advantage, or perhaps not. I hope it is to my credit that I am aware of when I am reading into things. Some people accuse me of doing it too much, but I have found it to be very helpful.

lazydaisy's avatar

Both.

To myself I am the message. To others I know and who know me, I may also be the message.

To someone who has never spoken with me, I am purely the medium. To those who hear, but don’t listen I am also the medium.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

Mostly agreed, I just don’t see how you can “read” into things when there is no code to read. I call that quality insight, acute awareness, forethought, experiential reasoning… you are exercising your powers as the logician.

But in all these cases, you are authoring your perspective out of your own mind based upon your relationship to the reality around you. Nothing is being read.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@lazydaisy

You could have saved us all a lot of trouble if you would have just gotten here earlier…:)

wundayatta's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Isn’t that like suggesting I would think the same thing whether or not I was faced by my environment? A tracker does read the signs in the woods—the footprints, the broken leaves, the scat, etc. The geologist reads the flow of the water from the shape of the rocks, and even the likelihood of flash floods. Is it not logic that also allows me to interpret messages?

CMaz's avatar

We are a medium, to convey our message.

lazydaisy's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

My bad. I was at tether ball practice.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@daloon

Nope, you’re simply describing a phenomenon. Believing there is a message is supportive of folklore and ancient religions who claim that burning bushes can talk.

You say “scat”, I say “crap”, she says “ewe”, dog says, “yum”. Four different codes by four different observers attempting to describe the same thing. If there was a real codified message, we would all have read the same thing.

You are authoring data. There is nothing to read.

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