Sunday, August 16, 2009

The desire to get old...

is nothing but the most desperate yet common expression of the fear for death.
In fact there is nothing more potentially terrifying and humiliating than getting old.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Myths of Life

1. Education does not influence character
Our character is mostly defined in our genetic code. The best example is my daugher. Although I could not see her for years and although she was raised under completely different circumanstances than I was, I know her as good as I know me. Education can only teach values. Not more.

2. This means: There is no individual
Humans are a collective. Is a single ant running against the stream of ants an individual? Nope, it is still integrated part of the collective.
Also, if our character is defined in our DNA this means if I know the character, I can most likely predict the decision of person in the future. If a can predict the decision of someone in the future, can I call him individual?
I am sure that one day we will be able to predict the decision of someone in a given situation with higher percentage than just 50/50 even before he/she/it is born. Just by analyzing the DNA.

3. This means: There is no other fate
than our genetic predetermination. Our fate is based on our character and hence on our DNA.

4. There is no god with anything like a church.
A real god would want that we treat each other well but no prayers. A god would enjoy happyness, but he would never interact. Because he knows that life or death is meaningless. Religions come and go, only the urge for spirtuality remains constant.

5. Brain creates Soul
not vice versa. We recognize ourselves in the mirror, because our genetic code enables this feature.

6. Our Reality does not exist as we perceive it.
Reality is shared consensus. It is the actual view on our outer world defined by the majority of the human collective.
For example: There is no color, just light of different wave length. Color is basically just made up by our brain, to distinguish the light with different wavelength. When there is no light, it doesn't necessarily mean you can't see. Ask a whale, cat or a bat!
There is no sound just moving air. Imagine all the things that are as real as sound and light, but that we just can't perceive!

7. Being in a place without humans is not at all the definition of lonely.
As long as you can talk to your self you are in pretty good company. The true definition of lonely is when you can't interact with the outer world anymore. Image your inner voice beeing full aware, but your mouth not able to speak and your body not able to move. This is lonely.

8. There is no such thing as free will.
Consciousness is the *end* of perception not the start. Everything we perceive in our conciousness has been thoroghly processed through our subconsciouss. Long before we consciously make a decision our subconscioius has already calculated all options and made a decision.

9. People are neither good nor bad
Are people more good or more bad? The question is wrong. If people could commit the perfect crime, 90% of humanity would be bad, if the chance of beeing caught would be 100% then we would all be good. The real difference between us is the amount of fear we bear. People are more scared/confident than good/bad.

10. There is no time
Our first approach to understand the outer world is over time. To understand something, we look at it now, then we try to find out how it was in the past (before) and then we try to predict it in the future.
I am convinced that time is just made up by our brain to be better able to deal with the outer world. "Experience" for example needs time. To remember our experiences with the outer world and to forget them as well. Our defintion of "long" for example is usally correlated to our average life-time. An amount of change that takes a significant part of our life-time is considered long. But we even perceive time very differently. The seconds before a car crash can feel like minutes, the hours at work as well.
From a bigger perspective "time" is completely unnecessary or in other words "meaningless". There is just "change" and a "now". The universe would work perfectly without time.

Monday, April 28, 2008

About Dreams

In most of my dreams I am doing quite some nonsense but always I obviously can't be bothered. So I ride horses on a farm or solve criminal cases that involve toner cartridges.

But sometimes things are different.

Once in my life I could draw my own dream

Once in my life and more than 15 years ago. I managed to stay for a while perfectly in the middle of conscious and subconscious, exactly half-way between sleep and awake. I could hear the outside world, but early in the morning it was very silent. In this state I was able to create my own dream as realistic as the world is now that I am writing. But I am not going to answer the question, what came to my mind ;-) .
A loud noise my father made while working in the court then pulled me out of state and as hard as I tried I could not get back.

Levitation, why not?
When I was a kid I had several dreams in which I was levitating. I remember myself flying over houses and gardens. The special thing was that it required a certain state of mind, a special kind of focusing to levitate and a slightly different one to move same time. Over the time it became harder and harder to keep this state and after a while of undisturbed levitation I started going down, could get grip on my mind and was was going up a bit again but always I was finally back on the ground. Still wanting to fly I was making only making it a very little into the air before I was waking up.
Interestingly I was reading exact the same thing about a boy that starts levitating in the book "Mr. Vertigo" from Paul Auster.

I died 2 times in dreams
At 2 occasions I died in dreams. The first time, it was a 100% realistic real time simulation of the Eschede ICE train disaster. I could see how the waggons in front of me were disintegrating and flying into pieces, it was coming closer and closer, my last thought was "Damn, this is it".

Second time I was scuba diving and obviously the valve of my oxygen tank had not been properly opened. I first I notice that something is wrong, when I feel I getting very tired because of too high CO2 concentration. But as I am too far under water I can't just emerge so I am trying to open the valve more by trying to reach it behind my back. But it is too late, I am too tired. My last thought was something like "Crap".
Every time I woke up the second I died with my pulse quite increased. Obviously even dreams are not able to simulate death.
"Damn, it was just a dream" was always my first thought.
But it made me confident that I have no major fear of death. I am pretty sure, once my next death comes unexpected to me, my last words will be just something like "Uhoh, Shit, Crap, or this is it".

Sometimes I recognize I am dreaming.
At a few occasions I notice that I am dreaming. I notice because some dreams are like TV-Series repetitions. In these dreams I have characteristics I have not in this world. In this moments I sometimes realize "Hey, I am dreaming!".

When I told this story to a roundabout 20 year old guy from Finland in a hostel in Sofia, he was not too surprised at all but smiled at me and said: "And it even gets better. Because if you realize you are dreaming you can modify them."

So I at least twice modified my dreams
I was able to modify my dream first time already on the very same travel. While I was in Tirina, staying sharing a cheap room with a really weird guy from Japan (always be suspicious when a guy from Japan is travelling alone) I awoke early in the morning just to fell asleep once more into a very light sleep.
I woke up in the same room, but a very good friend of mine with a bunch of kids were sitting round my bed.
"?? What are you doing here" I asked.
"We came to visit you and show you something" they said. "Get up and follow us."
"Why not" I think.
As we are walking through the door we soon enter some forest with big old green oak trees. My friends and the kids vanish, when the first time I become suspicious.
"Am I dreaming?" I start question myself. Suddenly walking through a forest that suddenly appeared in front of the door of my apartment in central Tirane obviously doesn't bring enough light into the situation so I march around for while. My friend along with group of kids has long disappeared, when suddenly I come up with a bright idea.
"What do you never have in dreams?" I ask myself.
"That's easy" I think. "Pain!"
So I think, when I don't have pain, I can be pretty sure that I am dreaming.
As I just swing myself in this moment with a kind of rope or liana Tarzan like from one tree to next, I land a bit unluckily and through my right knee flashes a distinct pain.
"Damn, I was almost sure that I am dreaming."
But finally I come to the conclusion that I am dreaming.
"So" I think "when this is a dream I can change it" and snip with my right fingers.
At this moment a white board that I was standing in front disappears and becomes black for second or two before it starts getting replaced with pictures of persons.
At this moment I am standing in meadow as I start to levitate a meter high and move slowly forward. As I snap my fingers I start changing the different objects that appear on the meadow. All the time, they fade quickly out and get black before they are replaced with something random.
This is the time I wake up.

The second occasion, I just remember a few things.
Obviously I had found out that I am dreaming a longer time before and I remember that I had a hell of a fun. Unfortunately my conscious lacks the most of the dream. This time the setup was little different as with every snap of finger, not single objects but the whole picture became black before it was replaced with a new random scenery.
As my sleep obviously became lighter I just remember the last scene.
This time after short time of clear black I was standing on a beautiful day with sun and clear blue sky at the base of a Alp like mountain.
"Ok" I thought standing in front of an almost vertical stone wall "when I am dreaming I don't need to climb up this mountain."
"In this case it will be enough that I touch the rock with a finger to push myself up"
So I touched the rock with my index finger, and in fact I slowly I started moving upwards.
"Wait a second", then came in my mind "if I am dreaming I don't need to touch the rock at all!" And truly, sooner done as said, I started levitating parallel up the mountain wall.
I remember that I came towards the top of the mountain where the terrain started levelling and I was floating a little up and down looking under a big rock before I was waking up.

Dreams can be stacked
Sometimes when I notice that I am dreaming, I wake up just to find that I am still dreaming. At one occasion, when I woke up the third time and still dreaming I got little worried that I got stuck in a loop.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Suicide Bombers and rubber bands

Did you know Suicide Bombers or Shahids wrap their dicks with rubber band, because to have fun with their 72 virgins in heaven they think this way their dick will stay in one piece during the explosion??


This is as hilarious as trying to create clouds with metal pipes. While your car flies into 1000 pieces, you think you can save your little friend with some rubber tape? Not even if you wrap him with steal chains!

A straight 10 on the human bolloks scale.

To all wannabe Shahids in the world. If you like to use your brain for a second you will see that

"Allahu Akbar" (God is great) clearly means

No virgins waiting for you dickheads in heaven.

Because if there is God, he is in fact so great, that there is only bitterness waiting for you for what you have done once you will recognize Gods true wisdom and benevolence.

And if there is no God, what you do is just murder.

Ask the one's preaching the advantages of Shahids (martyrs) to blow themselves up and enjoy some virgins and you will see the fear in their eyes. You will find out that all they told you is lies. Once they have used you like a tool, they secretly laugh about your stupdity.

As we talk about laugh. Have a look at "Achmed the dead Terrorist"

A Guide to travelling / backpacking

Why a guide to travelling in a philosophy blog?
I consider travelling one of the best things you can do in life. It will teach you a lot about yourself, other cultures, will be a true test for spirit, character and open mindedness, and you will learn a lot from other people and fellow travellers. A nice example is the question "How to eat an orange". You think you know the answer? Leave a comment and explain. Simply as it sounds, it seems every country has its own habit to eat an orange while everyone thinks his way is the only way.
Travelling is a real character building and hence philosophic experience.

Why Backpacking?

You think you can experience other countries and cultures from a resort with completely organized tours?
Well think again. You might be physically located in another country but in fact you know nothing about the place you are. Egypt is not just pyramids, Peru not just Machu Picchu, and Germany not just beer and Lederhosen.
As Backpacker you can free flow through the world, you will meet the most amazing people, you can make friends all over the world, you are in close touch with people, you experience other cultures and mentalities first hand.

I would like to travel but I don't like to do it alone!
Don't wait for anyone to travel. Once you start the first time on your own you will soon find out, that as backpacker you are never alone. There are so much other backpackers on the road, you will meet so many amazing people, you will make so many friends all over the world that you soon feel and see that you are basically part of a big family.
Just on my last travel I ended up travelling with Andrew the Kiwi for 3,5 weeks because we had the same way and got along very well with each other. This is quite common.

Take Time!

Travelling starts for me at a duration of 4 weeks and more. I helps a lot when you do not have to focus on your return and with it on your common life for a while.

Where Do I go?
That's simple. Whether you travel to Italy or Mongolia, it does not matter. Every country has something special. Either it is something famous or you be on of the few to go off the beaten track.

How do I plan a trip this long?
That's simple as well. Don't. If you try to plan 2 or 3 month of travels you just waste your time as your plan will become obsolete with 100% chance within the first 2 weeks. I never plan more than 5 days ahead. Backpacking in fact is the art of travelling without much planning. It is freedom to travel where you like and to change your plan anytime.
Like I planed my last trip was the following:
1.) I knew I wanted to go to South America so I bought a guide to the continent "South America on a Shoestring" in this case.
2.) Than I asked myself "What do you know and would you like to see in South America" "Machu Picchu" came into my mind. "This is Peru then" I found out.
3.) Looking for the capital of Peru I then booked a one-way flight to Lima in the Internet.
4.) Just because you are very tired after 24 hours on planes and buses I booked a hostel ahead on
5.) I read the chapter about Peru and Lima on the plane to Peru to find out that I was arriving in rainy season (means it can't harm to read the chapter before you book a flight, but even then I had a great time and much free rooms in the hostels)

Where do I stay?
In hostels of course. Most of them offer a bed for a decent price. I personally prefer dormitories with 4-6 people which offer contact with interesting persons from all over the world while keeping some personal atmosphere. Also your stuff is safer once everybody knows everybody and there is not too much coming and going.

Travellers are your friends

I promise you travellers are the most open minded people you will ever find on this planet. You need help, someone to watch your stuff while going to the toilet, or you just seek some company or conversation? Simply start talking to anyone with a big backpack on his back and probably a small one on his front. The common traveller talk starts with
1. Where are you from?
2. How long are you travelling?
3. Where have you been?
4. Where are you going?
After that you will probably end up in a nice conversation and perhaps make some good friends.
Occasions where traveller steal from travellers are quite rare and usually include travellers from poorer countries that finance their travels with selling other travellers stuff or backpacks. But paranoia won't save you from this so simply trust your fate or have a luggage insurance.

The golden rules of travelling.
As a backpacker you are widely visible and most preferred target to pickpockets and many locals are already expecting you and see you just as a walking cash machine. To avoid to much struggle with fate if somethings going wrong, simply prepare you and your mind to the following.

1. Don't Panic
What I learned in more than 1 year of travels: Somehow things will always work out. No matter when and where I arrived I never found no place to sleep, got so sick I could not care for myself, got stuck for long time, or really got lost. There is always and everywhere someone you can ask and that helps you out.

2. Once you will get sick

Travelling other countries means you are getting in touch with a lot of things your body is not used to. Carry some antibiotics and have a health insurance for foreign countries.

3. Once you will be frustrated
If you are travelling longer time, you might get stuck, lost, left behind or sick and there will be the moment where you ask yourself:
"What the fuck am I doing here? I just want my a nice shower, my bed, my privacy and that's it"
Well I told you that it happens, deal with it. Consider this is the character sharpening part.

4. Every 4-6 weeks you might become tired of travelling
Whats starts exiting can become tiring every 4-6 weeks. Packing your stuff, unpacking your stuff, every 2-3 days a different bed, longs hours on the bus, the 25th church or the 30th museum... If it happens just find a nice place to hang out for a while. Travelling does not mean rushing through countries as fast as you can, it means to enjoy yourself as good as you can. And if this means to hang out in a nice place to do nothing but to sleep, read or party for while, go for it.

5. Once you will get ripped off

Ask for the proper fare and always fix the price before you take a tour or taxi.
But no matter how bright or experienced you think you are, be prepared to find your master once in while. It is a game you can't always win.

6. You will loose some gear or something will be stolen

If you are travelling for more than 6 weeks the chances are as good as 0 that you will come back with all your gear you started with. If you are travelling poorer countries you should consider some luggage insurance, that covers these possibilities.

7. While moving carry everything valuable or important on your body!

Most things get stolen from a bag or backpack while sitting in a bus or walking through a city. Or you might be left behind somewhere while your backpack starts travelling on his own.
Make you can not loose anything important with your bags. Keep your passport, papers, credit cards, most of our money either in a deposit or in special purse hidden on your body. While moving I have all valuable electronics in zipped pockets or safely attached to my belt.
Keep only little money and no documents or credit cards at all in your regular purse.
If you keep valuables in your bags while travelling it is your own fault if you loose it!

8. Keep copies of your documents in at least 2 different places!
Before you start make copies of all documents and credit cards. Keep them at at least 2 different places. I usually have a set in my big and one in my small backpack.

9. Have your money at at least 2 different places!

I have always enough emergency money in my money belt, that I can get safely to any next major city and to find a place to sleep if things go really wrong.
Additionally you might consider a purse attached to your lower leg, which seams to be found almost never.

10. Have some trekking trousers with lots of pockets and zippers
To carry all important stuff on your body while travelling a descent trouser makes this task a lot easier. All pocket should have zippers. For travellers money and purses never belong in the back pockets.

11. Do not show fear
From a pickpockets perspective... Whom would you prefer? The unconfident or the confident looking guy?

What are the most important items on travels?

1.) A pair of earplugs
2.) A guidebook to the continent
3.) A towel as it is about the most massively useful thing an traveller can have (to sleep under, use as a sail, wet it for use in hand-to- hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal or to dry yourself)

Besides from that I find the following things useful:
* A Swiss army knife sort of thing
* A small first aid kit
* Hiking socks (there is simply no end on the stink scale for cotton socks! Also the friction of drying woolen or cotton socks can become real torment and directly responsible for up numerous blisters. 11 on one day is the most I have ever seen. Fortunately it happened on the last day of a trek as the guy walked like an astronaut the next day)
* A torch
* some Antibiotics (unless you speak good Mongolian or really want to trust the local shamans)
* All country specific vaccinations (plan at least 4 weeks ahead for this)
* An eye cover. (Together with the earplugs it makes you sleep everywhere)
* Good shoes. (you will walk a lot, so better make your feet comfortable)

And now? What are you waiting for? Always safe travels.

Friday, April 18, 2008

What is reality?

Have you ever thought what you see or hear is reality?

Sorry to disappoint you.

Reality is far too complex for our conscious.

Reality hurts

As migraine is the result of our perception filters failing, everyone who has ever enjoyed it can tell you a story about this. It happened to me once in my life. Getting the full dose of reality, the light is so bright and the noise so loud that you get unbearable headache. Unable to focus or follow any conversation, all you want is to stay in bed, as dark and as silent as possible.

So what happens in vision?

What you see is objects. Imagine a picture of a beach with a small park in front.
What you see is: Beach, People, Water, Trees, Grass, Houses, Cars
What is coming from your eyes is a picture with:
Blue in different shades on the top, some riddled yellow part with some pink spots in it in the middle, green with vertical brown streaks and some colored bulbs in the lower part.
To be exact, the picture is not even coming in all colors but it are 3 different pictures with the color in red, blue, and green that then get translated into rest of color.

What I found out about my vision so far is the following.

In subconscious the raw pixel picture from the eyes gets


The information from the blue, red, and green receptors and both eyes is merged into a big colored image.


To reduce complexity unnecessary and redundant information is removed

Then the image is going through an association process. Based on experience, believe, expectation, probability and mental state the image is compared with our knowledge, trying to find out what the things could be. This is the point where the brain now translates meaningless pixel image into the objects.

Simplest example is that is way harder for you to find the typos in your text, than in the text you read from somebody else. As you know what words you expect in your text, your perception might fill them in correctly, even if the words contain typos of even if they are missing completely.

Edges in color are enhanced to ease the distinction of objects.

The light on the image is balanced, means the dark parts get brightened and the bright parts get darkened. How reality really looks like in terms of light can easily be recognized by taking a picture with a camera where there is much sun and shade. A camera can't balance the light for different parts of the image. The image will either be to dark in the shade or to bright in the sun.

Scanned for moving items and threats.
Moving objects are always highlighted as they are always much easier for you to recognize. But furthermore moving objects are investigated for their trajectory and potential threat. If your brain recognizes for example a car in the outer angle of your view that is likely to hit you while your conscious is focused on the center, your attention will probably drawn to the car.

This I find the most interesting characteristic. Especially for unclear, dusky or remote objects, where there is not enough visible information from the raw image, the brain, once sure about what the object is, replaces missing information.

So sometimes the image gets patched with images from our subconscious to make things more aware.

As this a rather delicate part of perception, it is usually incredibly reliable. But under certain circumstances e.g. lack of oxygen and exhaustion it can go wrong.

But apart of visually modifying the image also meta information is added.
One meta information is depth information. For objects near us this is done by comparing the image of our left and right eye. But for distant objects the angle is just to small to come up with usable information. But by comparing the size of the distant recognized object with the size of what it would have if you are standing in front of it, the brain now can make an assumption of how far the object is away.
Good example is the moon, that is larger when it is just over the horizon. Where there are more objects of known size, the brain estimates the size of the moon larger as when it is high in the sky. Another example is, that is way easier for us to measure distances when we for example look onto a forest from a high point, than when we are are in a plain desert.

A good part of our vision is dedicated to recognize people. To make things easier, instead of remembering all their body characteristics in the same detail, we mostly recognize people their faces. To do so an incredible number of faces is stored in our subconscious.

What happens in hearing?

What you hear is: Voices, Dogs, Planes, Cars
What is coming from your ears is a sensational mixture of all these sounds together. It is just loud noise.

The process for hearing is basically the same as in visual perception.
But as vision is our main sense in hearing much filtering takes place. I believe that 95% of what we hear never reaches our conscious.
Apart from filtering the most important process about hearing is recognizing and extracting voices, translating it into words and give the words meaning.

An amazing example of our capabilities is when you are standing in the middle in a big group talking to the person in front of you, while a person behind you mentions your name. Now your brain does consider background talks no longer irrelevant and brings it into your conscious. You will turn around. That even works if your name is only whispered.
What does it mean?
It means while filtering the the sound of the person in front of you out of most complex noise, translating it into words, giving it meaning and bringing it into your conscious it is following all other conversations!

So your reality is in fact the final result of impressive filtering, scan for threat, enhancing, categorizing, and association process based on believes and expectation.

Although we like to believe in objective reality

Our reality is always subjective.

Well, if reality is subjective, why does it work?

A subjective reality works as humans have mostly similar experience about the reality they live in. We all experienced that fire is hot, water wet, that we can not fly and falling hurts. Hence in a society we reach a consensus about what is real or not.

Reality is a global consensus


shared human conscious.

Also we mock everyone to hell or send him to the nuthouse who dares to not agree with this consensus. By doing so we keep our image of reality unspoiled and we are tempted to think of an objective reality.
But by believe that has an immediate effect on our expectations we are able to extend our reality.
Gods are the best example. I am sure as hell ;-))) that there is nothing like the Christian, Muslim or Jewish god (yes, its a paradoxon but you know what I mean). But I doubt I would be rather be dead than successful when I tried to convince 2.2 billion Christians and Jews. For them God is as real as for me water and air. And although I can not see the last one, I share common believe that air exists.
By proclaiming god non existent I would violate the common consensus about their reality.

The blessings of psychotherapy

A dear friend of mother had struggled with life for a long time. She had a demanding job, working as a teacher in primary school. With her husband alcoholic she must have spent endless amount of energy on him. Nevertheless the drug was stronger and he was not getting anywhere. How it affected her became clearer when her body developed a herpes zoster around her chest. When trying to get treatment in the hospital, the docs used the occasion to break her a rib. While each of the 2 things is spectacularly painful I do not want to imagine how both feels on the same spot. So to fight her pain she got morphine and of course, with her run of luck she got addicted. After a painful deprivation she was mentally not the strongest as she had developed sleeplessness and severe depressions.

Trying to get treatment in a reputable German clinic (Glottertalklinik, or Black Forest Clinic), she got drugged with psychotropics , treated with deprivation of sleep and other amenities. Unfortunately they missed out to educate her what the side effects can be. So after while she developed strong hallucinations, started talking to physically not existing people on her balcony and haunted by faces she spent the night clenched on chairs. She even had started to sculpture the faces she experienced during that time in clay.

In short she was scared to death by what was going on in her world.

On day my mom told me with sad voice, that she believed that her best friend was about to go mad. She had visited her and what she found was more of a human robot, but no longer her beloved friend.

But when she described me what was going on, I gasped in horror. Trusting the doctors around her she did not suspect anything when suddenly her reality start to change and her personality to fade. Once she started to hallucinate she was not knowing where she was, what was going on, why it happened, when it was going to leave or whether it was ever going to leave. Being thrown into this world it cost her a lot of mental energy trying to maintain her conscious. In the consequence her mental strength diminished, and her resistance and connection to the physical world got weaker by the day.

It is nothing less than the true definition of "alone"
Can you imagine how it feels when you have to observe your reality to collapse, your personality to diminish, and not being able to express yourself or to communicate in any way? To get an impression you might find this link very interesting.

The mental strength of every one of us is limited. Everyone has the point where your conscious simply snaps. And a dead serious mile-stone on this road is the point where you start to question your sanity.

When I heard her story, she was on the the edge of giving up on her. When I called her I had a most alienated person on the phone. Considering herself on the edge of madness, she was quite reluctant to share her world with me. But by not asking question, just by describing and explaining her world I was able to lure her out of her shell. Minute by minute her self-confidence started to grow when I finally was able to assure her that neither sanity nor reality was to be worried about once she would just stop her "therapy".