Let's Get Psychophysical - Newsletter #4
"Useful fictions" v Useless fictions
Hello, it’s Kevin. Here is your weekly list of 5 things I’ve found that promote wholeness, integration and “waking up” - rather than fragmentation, dis-integration and falling asleep.
This week’s newsletter is on tricking yourself.
Sometimes lying to yourself is good. Sometimes it isn’t. Can you tell the difference?
"Useful fictions" v Useless fictions.
This talk is about the book The Philosophy of "As If" by Hans Vaihinger. Scientists and philosophers often use concepts that are known to be false, impossible or self-contradictory, but somehow still get practical results and solve problems. It doesn’t need to be “true” to work. These are useful fictions.
Scientific thought evolved as an organic function to manage and control life - not as a pure quest for pure truth in order to understand life. As usual the poets got there first: “But thoughts the slave of life…” as Shakespeare says.
In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching by P.D. Ouspensky
Reread. This book is about G.I. Gurdjieff and his “way of the sly man.” Most people are in such a constant state of self-delusion and self-deception that it takes a trickster figure to help them snap out of it. When I say ‘them’ I mean, of course, you and me…
“Conscious fictions” can be useful. But unconscious fictions can be useless, or even dangerous.
This belief is very generally held that if only we are told what to do in order to correct a wrong way of doing something, we can do it, and that if we FEEL we are doing it, all is well. All my experience, however, goes to shew that this belief is a delusion.
F. Matthias Alexander; The Use of the Self
It is not fashionable to say this in the age of “embodied cognition” but many of your feelings and sensations are common liars.
Not all of them, of course, but do you know which ones? And are you not just using another feeling to judge which is which?
Escher’s “Drawing Hands”
Our models of reality can never be perfect and complete - except when seen from inside a model. This image is only paradoxical because you forget that is itself contained in an image. Which is its magic.
Play a trick on your future self.
Here is my new habit. I got the basic idea from an interview with Luca. It works! I have also added my own psychophysical twist to it. It goes surprisingly deep if you use it as a method of self observation.
Leave your phone in another room while working (to avoid distractions etc.)
Actually, don’t just leave it, HIDE it on yourself. Turn it off and put it somewhere silly where you never go. If you are working in a cafe or office you can zip it up inside your bag, under a bunch of things, make it awkward to pull out.
There are two sides to the phone addiction: the ‘mental’ side which is the dopamine drip feed, the random thoughts and curiosities you have throughout the day making you check your phone. Note these when they arise.
There is also the ‘physical’ side which is more like a muscular reflex where you just find your hand reaches and picks up the phone ‘by itself’ without ‘you’ really thinking about it. Note these when they arise.
Every time you catch yourself either mentally or physically grasping for your phone, you can have a good laugh with your past self, and look forward to tricking your future self together.
Have fun playing with your selves,
Thanks for reading,
P.S. If you want to work with me 1-to-1, reply to this email, or message on Twitter.
I teach psychophysical “tricks” for improving posture, poise and presence. Half of the game is consciously tricking yourself into doing things that don’t FEEL right at first, but are good for you in the long run.