Not Just a Number

That perception and memory work hand in hand is mostly taken for granted, but this case reminds us that this sometimes breaks down. This is not the case of the neurotypical limitations to fallible sense organs and standard cognitive boundaries and biases. This subject can’t discern the arabic numerals from 2 through 9.

To recap the study, the man can perceive 0 and 1 as per usual, but numerals 2 through 9 are not recognisable. Not even in combination, so A4 or 442 are discernible.

In a neurotypical model, a person sees an object, a 3 or a tree, and perhaps learns its common symbolic identifier—’3′, ‘three’, or ‘tree’. The next time this person encounters the object—or in this case the symbol—, say, 3, it will be recognised as such, and the person may recite the name-label of the identifier: three.

It might look like this, focusing on the numerals:

Encounter 1: 3 = X₀ (initial)
Encounter 2: 3 = X₁ ≡ X₀ (remembered)
Encounter 3: 3 = X₂ ≡ X₀ (remembered)

In the anomalous case, the subject see something more like this:

Encounter 1: 3 = X₀ (initial)
Encounter 2: 3 = Y₀ = { } (no recollection)
Encounter 3: 3 = Z₀ = { } (no recollection)

For each observation, the impression of 3 is different.

Phenomenologically, this is different to the question of whether two subjects share the same perception of, say, the colour red. Even if you perceive red as red, and another perceives red as red, as long as this relative reference persists to the subject, you can still communicate within this space. When you see a red apple, you can remark that the apple is red—the name marker—, and the same is true for the other, who can also communicate to you that the apple is indeed red because the word ‘red’ become a common index marker.

But in the anomalous case, the name marker would have little utility because ‘red’ would be generated by some conceivably unbounded stochastic function:

Colourₓ = ƒ(x), where x is some random value at each observation

It would be impossible to communicate given this constraint.

This, as I’ve referenced, is anomalous, so most of us have a stronger coupling between perception and memory recall. Interesting to me in this instance is not how memory can be (and quite often is) corrupted, but that fundamental perception itself can be corrupted as well—and not simply through hallucination or optical illusion.

Identity Management

Identity is a human construct, but, more specifically, it’s a social construct. If you were abandoned in a place without human contact and with no prospects for contact, your current perception of yourself would wither away. If you are born in this place (and managed to survive and somehow have language to self-articulate), you would have little of what one might term identity. Whether the ability to discriminate yourself from other species and objects may not qualify for identity.

Identity is not a solo sport. One needs at least two to play.

For every identity, i, the relationship must always be

i  ≥  i + 1

Where by ≥ , I mean at least equal to. In fact, for each i, one may be able to argue that one should multiply the number of identities by the number of nodes, which is to say the number of participants in forming the identities. This accounts for developed personae.

i  ≥  n(i + 1)

Today, this was on my mind (as it were) as I was grocery shopping. I identify as an urbanite. I’ve lived in cities and in near suburbs, but I’ve recently moved from a rural setting to a more rural setting.

Sidenote in the middle:

It’s easy to see why the US are so politically fractured. Fundamentally, I do not see the world as do my rural neighbours. I am already predisposed to be an introvert, but this gives my more reason to segregate. These neighbours just view different things as fundamentally important. And the people create a veritable monoculture. I could pretend to fit it. Instead, I remain at the margin and watch.

Thankfully, my profession allows me to work remotely, but I have the opportunity to visit cities when working closely with my clientele. To be even more honest, in my reckoning the US have only 2 cities, New York and Los Angeles. I’ve lived in Chicago, have worked in Houston, and live south of Philadelphia at the moment–the 3rd, 4th, and 5th largest cities in the US, all of which pale in comparison to numbers 1 and 2. And my heart, as it were, resides in LA.

And we’re back…

Where other people are concerned, they have a vision of our identity, and we have our own. And this doesn’t exist in a vacuum, as we somewhat adjust our identity if we wish to be accepted into the group, but we don’t typically lose our self-identity, even if we can’t fully express it.

Some identities are easier to hide than others. If I am a gay female, I can just not discuss the matter or deny it if the situation would otherwise be hostile, but it doesn’t make me less gay. And to the other party, the may see me as a nubile woman.

Fairly obviously, my mum sees me differently to my coworkers or even my spouse, and most people I’ve seen interact with their parents differently than other people. This is about the identity of the persona. This is how a 30- or 40-something can still feel like a child when interacting with a parent but would never demur to, say, a peer.

In isolation, there is no need for identity in this way. If I am a trans-male who in society identifies with wearing clothes traditionally reserved for women of the same culture, there are no other women to model myself after. If I have these clothes available, I’ll wear them. Perhaps I have left my favourite dress behind, and I remember it fondly. This was a part of my former identity.

But would I spend time dressing well and applying cosmetics if the chance of meeting another human was nil to none? Unlikely.

And what if two heterosexual males were to find themselves abandoned with little hope for rescue? Would this be Brokeback Mountain revisited? This is stereotypical prison behaviour. Of course, in this case, this is a temporary identity override, and perhaps not something to ever admit once reinserted into polite company.

So What?

Whilst shopping, I was hypercritical (though quiet) about how I did not feel I fit into the environment. I questioned whether I might be considered to be a misanthrope. Not that I hated these people, but I just did not identify with them. And though I could be civil in short doses, it was not my preference to interact.

Truth be told, there may have been plenty of other people thinking the same thing, but how would one tell? At times, I’ll wear identifying clothing, like a tee-shirt that reads ‘Jesus Saves Sinners… and redeems them for valuable cash and prizes‘. These tend to attract the like-minded people with senses of humour, and the people baited into the headline but offended by the punchline.

So, now I identify this as the end of my post…