A Conscious Experience Described

A few of my recent posts have left me wondering how other people experience reality and consciousness. It’s a dreadful thing to think about because I first assumed “exactly like I do” and then realized I haven’t been able to put that into word. I’m house sitting at Des and Sarah’s house. I’m in the basement, in front of the computer sitting on a chair. So I’m going to try. It’s probably futile but we’ll see.

Lets deal with the sensory input and it’s impact on consciousness.

Visual: It’s like a huge movie screen and what I can see very clearly is a small portion of the field of view. I am aware of everything that is in my field of view, I may not know what it is, in fact, all of it is just stuff until I actually move my eyes to look directly at it. For example, there are two speakers, one on each side of the monitor. When I’m looking at the screen, I can sort of see them in the periphery but I’m not really able to think about them clearly until I look at one of them directly and then it becomes something real. But I’m immediately much less aware of the monitor. In the same way, I have very little awareness of the key board, but I know it’s beneath my fingers and I know I’m hitting the correct keys because the letters are appearing on the screen. When I look down at the keyboard, the monitor shrinks in importance and I’m almost completely aware of only the key board.

It seems that when my eyes are open and there’s enough light to see by, my conscious awareness is based almost completely on what is in the very center of my field of view. What the internal voice says in response is varied. It may say “speaker” when I look at it, it may point out a feature, it may announce the function of something, etc… It is as though the understanding of speaker is created in my consciousness and this starts my brain looking for memories that are somehow related to the understanding of speaker.

The memories go two ways, one is about these speakers the other is about speakers in general. I’m thinking about some of the songs I’ve heard Des mix here and I’m also thinking about being at a rave and the wall of speakers they had.

Seeing not just the speaker cone, but the casing, I start to think about how they make the casing, how would they test the speakers, how many people were involved in making and shipping these particular speakers, and if the blue power on LEDs are going to give me a headache?

My eyes are moving though, they are jumping all over the place, scanning and keeping me aware of what is in the room. It’s like the eyes scanning keeps an information buffer filled with an understanding of what my immediate environment is like. E.g. after a few minutes of looking at the screen, I stop being aware of the speakers. I need to actively think about it if I want to remember. However, if my eyes keep scanning, I’ll always know that they are there. It’s like there is 15-30 seconds of a situational buffer that allows me to be aware of stuff without actually sensing it. But it empties very quickly. I know there is a drum set behind me, a TV, a dart board, a chair and a couch. But I have no idea where any of that stuff is. Any mental map I made containing this information has dissipated a long time ago. I’m keenly aware of what is in front of me, but clueless as to what exactly is behind me.

I’ve covered my eye and stopped visual input to see what happens to my understanding of the room.

Okay, I seemed to hear more, sound grabbed more and more of my attention the longer my eyes remained closed. Also, I went from knowing what the room was like to understanding what the room was like. The monitor, speakers and keyboard stopped being something that I was aware of and I felt that I was at a desk using a computer, not this desk or this computer but a desk and a computer as tools or ways to get something done vs. being things that actually exist in this basement. It seems that things quickly stop being a sensation and start being a memory. The sensations feel a little more tangible while the memories are abstract and exist as understandings of what something is.

I’ve covered them again.

Yes, my awareness of what I am hearing increases dramatically after about 10 seconds as my awareness of what existed visually fades into an understanding of what exists. With my eyes open, I hear only the computer fan, but with them closed I think I can hear the fridge in the kitchen. Without visual input, the situational buffer becomes saturated with auditory information that would normally get displaced by visual information. Maybe it’s able to work with a particular amount of energy and with the eyes closed, it amplifies the input from the ears to achieve this level.

The computer fan and the possible sound of the fridge are not creating any verbal thoughts other than my initially thought “what am I hearing, is that the fridge?” Knowing it’s a computer fan maintains an understanding of a computer as a tool but not this specific computer, the same applies with the fridge.

I’m not really sure of what to make of all this so I’m going to sit on it for a while to see what my brain does with it. Suffice to say it was a worthwhile exercise because I hadn’t thought of any many of these things before.