The White-Free Primer & Semi-Glossary of Things Trioon for 2017
Trioon is not a Theory of Everything. It does not address the origins of the universe or the meaning of life. It is only about how we look at the things and all the subjective phenomena that comes after we look, like memory, learning, dreaming, thinking and story-telling.
An oon is word that looks vaguely like a set of eyeglasses and represents any sort of system that perceives and then responds to perceptions. Animal life is divided into three categories monoon, bioon and trioon based on how many perceptual systems operate in their brains. That is the main feature of trioon as a theory; that perception appeared and evolved in separate layers or departments. The notion that our perception can be sub-divided is not new but is usually presented with only a vague notion of what exactly is divided or in what medium. Suggestions of a second medium of experience rely on ethereal realms or alternatives to physically-based systems. Trioonity rejects such alternatives as impossible and unnecessary. Is there a way for physically-based systems to be experientially differentiated and still be physically-based? Science says yes. That's the easy part. The hard part is entertaining the notion that life is anything other than a single consummate experience.
The hardest question is, wouldn't this be completely obvious to everybody? Obviously it is not but there are clues that indicate that our perceptual abilities are physically structured in a way that determines how they can be experienced and that structure is layered. Trioonity suggests a model of perceptual machinery and describes ways to observe it in action in ourselves and others. This machinery is vulnerable to physically failings that can affect how we experience and react to the world.
Trioonity's greatest potential benefit is that it provides a new and practical way of differentiating people that is not based on intelligence, race, religion or inner goodness. Instead, differences are found in our capabilities to perceive and respond to the world resulting from our cultural upbringing and education. It is a better explanation for why a holy text can make one person nice to everyone and another person into a psycho-killer.
Trioon identifies a single specialized perceptual ability as the most significant difference between us and other animals. It did not appear suddenly. It had a slow emergence that can be traced back to our hominid past and can outline the paths of our possible futures.
Trioon Terminology is set of invented names and designations that appeared throughout trioonity's long evolution on the Sam Harris and Project Reason Forums. Some are intended as technical terms and many have been components of theoretical dreamscapes that attempt to model the activity of the human mind. While none of them are entirely disowned, many have outlived their usefulness. This glossary will list them by current usefulness with older and left-behind terms at the bottom. They are used when the existing terminology falls short or would be misused.
Why would perception be composed of different experiences? For millions of years, it wasn't. The earliest animal life had a fast acting nervous system that was sensitive to various forms of stimulation and able to initiate a comprehensive response. Its perception was a concert of pressure waves, light sensitivity, touch, taste, and smell that served to defend and satiate the innate desires and impulses of the organism. This involved more than just localized responses to localized stimuli. Concerted action of the animal as a whole could be initiated by a single local stimulus or many in summation. This creature is monoon as in single or uni-perceptual. Perception is a summarizing of interconnected stimuli… most of which is consider as sensations by modern creatures like us. Smell, taste and touch are still intangible subjective sensations with an immediacy that seems like instantaneous real-time experience. They can trigger responses in our bodies that also seem like instantaneous real-time experience.
Vision and hearing are usually cast in a separate category from the others as mental experience rather than physical experience. There must obviously be a physical component to both even if the result seems unlike a physical experience and more like the experience of an inner model of the outside world. This need not be an either-or issue.
The physical components of vision and hearing would not have to be sight and sound as we might first think of them. The perception of depth, the perception of color, the recognition of shapes or movements and the ability to discern cues as to the behavior of others are all further components of stimulus along side taste, touch and smell that inform a uni-perceptual summary. We describe them as unseen or sub-conscious elements of sight and hearing but this should not be so. The sight of a falling cup that directs the hand to reach out for it has the same immediacy as a scent or pin prick. That they occur very fast and are quickly finished does not mean we are blind to them. It means that the seeing or experience of them is just as fast or brief. The body that it informs and the closed-loop perceptual system that does the informing is often called Mr. Hippo. It is a play on the term hippocampus. Any animal with this sort of single perceptual system is called monoon.
These are simple animals like amoebas and such. As hearing and vision developed, they also contributed to a single perceptual 'clearing house' that could initiate an appropriate reaction to a summation of stimuli. The arrival of dedicated organs of sight and hearing came with a greater emphasis on those perceptions in the primitive brain. Our innate bilateralism allowed for stereoscopic and stereophonic perceptions of locality. Perception with locality led to the twistable neck. Limb control relied more and more on vision. The single system that consumed all this perception grew in complexity and bulk along with the eyes and ears. A limit was reached where doing anything further with vision could only be managed by a further and secondary digestion process. Mainly due to the amount of time required for the brain to do any further digestion. Primary perception had to remain quick and stick to a now more or less set set of jobs. The arrival of a secondary system of perception set our set eyeballs free.
What we see and hear of our primary perception is all the components of vision and hearing as components and responded to as components. It includes everything in your field of view and everything you hear minus one certain quality. It is a final gloss that combines a selection of the gross components into a unified cinematic composite. It changes nothing about the resulting picture of reality. Except that before it does it, there is no picture of reality, just its primary components. An overall summarized picture is a new and extra task carried out in whole new way. Instead of being triggered and synchronized to the outside world like primary perception always has been, secondary perception was internally synchronized to a set range of refresh rate that was much slower than primary perception or survival would allow.
It is a limited perception that does not include every element of primary vision like depth or vectors of movement. It is mostly easily described by pointing to the visual elements presented by traditional film and video reproduction. Still and two-dimensional pictures changing at a rate of at least 20 per second are all it takes to satisfy our secondary perception. Hence, this secondary view is called Cinematic Perception, which then recasts our primary view as Sub-Cinematic Perception. The cinematic picture is a further opportunity to look at what we're seeing. It is the beginning of a process that allows us to think and reason and to look back and look ahead.
Cinematic Perception & The Chunk-Limit
Our perceptions need to flow at a dynamic rate that is practical for keeping up with dynamic events. Sub-cinematically, they do. The Cinematic picture or model of reality does not need to and it follows a different flow. Its pace is internally set and kept to a tight but slightly flexible operational range. Twenty to forty static and still pictures a second is fast enough to present a continuous illusion of movement, place and placement to our cinematic perception. This is exactly how fast our Sub-cinematic perception is re-harvested as the Big Picture. When the Big Picture is already harvested as an image on the theater wall, the best way to enjoy it is to relax, sit still and try to tune out all primary perceptions.
Vision (and hearing), in becoming a separately paced cinematic composite, becomes the basis of mental experience. This is the brain re-informing itself with a secondary perceptual process that is thoroughly de-correlated with the first. It is just a further sensation generated by the physicality of the brain. However, it's only anchor to the physical body is that the perspective of the visual and aural field (or model of reality) it generates is dependent on the position of our head. In quiet darkness, sub-cinematic perception presents nothing while cinematic perception continues with other internal input. It is un-triggered and in a continuous state of operation. This information handling system, and the experience of it, are often called Mr. Now. It is a play on the term here & now. Animals with this secondary perceptual ability are called bioon. Clues to bioonity are eyes with overlapping fields of view and the ability to move or aim independently in addition to a movable head.
This is a strange suggestion that there is vision, and then there is vision again. It is the same with hearing and a little easier to detect. Both perceptions arrive in layers. In the case of sound, there are certain things we need to already know (have perceived) about sound waves before we can perceive and know further things about them by assembling those primary perceptions and not the original stimuli.
Once the cinematic composite has been formed, we are able to examine in it in a way that our faster perception cannot be examined. Elements within the cinematic field of view can be selected and compared, contrasted, combined or counted. The number of selectable cinematic elements is fixed by species and is called the Chunk-Limit. The primates' chunk-limit is four. This influences our speaking cadence, phrase size, sense of rhythm and music and, determines what we can call a plainly observable fact. We can select up to four elements of our perception and summarize them into a single perception which then can be one of four elements that lead to a further summary and so on. Our perception of words and their associations are sub-cinematic whether in speech or text. Our perception of words in an unfolding sequence is cinematic and structured by our chunk-limit. Rules of sentence structure accommodate our cinematic four-in and one-out select and conclude process.
Short phrases, slogans and rearrange-able Yoda-speech are all within the chunk-limit and are digested as plain and complete perceptions. Longer message must be structured so that, each time the chunk-limit is reached, a summarizing conclusion can be carried-over to inform the next stretch of the message. That can be done with rhythm and rhyme or careful sentence structure. Musical rhythms of two, three or four are not based on some harmonic structure of the cosmos but rather on our own cinematic chunk-limit. Animals with a greater chunk-limit might baffle us with their problem solving skills because their cinematic perceptions can have more components contributing to a summary than we can.
Cinematic perception is composed from vision and hearing with no input from taste, touch and smell. With it, we create our inner model of reality with a modest timeline into the past and future. However, it is not the entirety of human inner mental experience.
Previous attempts to define how humans are different from other animals has included souls, extra self-consciousness, exclusive self-consciousness, cosmic spirits and un-measurable fields of something that isn't something. What if it were only a single simple function… a mathematical process… that was an evolutionary success because using it allowed us to overcome the chunk-limit of our cinematic perception? What if mankind's only unique quality was the ability to perceive and reorder quantities greater than four?
There is an unfinished and emergent third perceptual facility within us that is just as physically-based as the other two. Its function is to re-perceive and suspend cinematic perceptions so we can change their order or sequence. It gives us the power of narration and makes us trioon. It is called Post -Cinematic Perception. As the name implies, it is something that happens after cinematic perception. As such, it is also exclusive to vision and hearing. It is a re-perception of the Big Picture or model of reality. By adding the ability to re-sequence to our existing select-conclude ability, we unleashed our intelligence, creativity and passions. To the extent that we use it (or don't use it), we change our personal experience.
Like any innate talent, it varies from person to person. Some depend on it more than others usually because they lead lives that require using it extensively. Other lead lives that seldom rely on it. For some, it can only bring turmoil and dysfunction. It is, more than anything else, what divides us politically, socially and intellectually. Politicians, salesmen, comedians, actors and clergy know how to manipulate this perception and influence how we see the world. It can be trained to liberate us or confine us. We are divided over two different experiences of our minds.
Auto-Narrators and Self-Narration
Post-cinematic perception operates in one of two forms. Three if not operating at all is counted. It is not a continuous sense like hearing. It boots up when called upon, and shuts down when it isn't. That might be a few times a day or it might be 99% of being awake. It depends on how one is educated and the expectations of family and society.
When in operation, it can be consciously self-directed or it can be an automated and unconscious shepherd of our thoughts and speech. When training is minimal, it tends to be the latter. With a long studious education, it is almost always self-consciously directed in a state of mind often called Mr. Flashlight.
An auto-narrator is a learned pattern of speech and expression based on influential teachers, mentors and role models. When speech needs to express something complex, our Post-cinematic perception of narratives will sort out the necessary verbal structure on the fly. We will know what we want to say but we are not conscious of how we are composing our speech. We are conscious of our cinematic perception and choose the direction or intention of our speech. This act of choosing is chunk-limited to only four components so we may want to stare into an empty space while we choose. That way, a visual component won't take up one of the four chunks.
This is a useful and mostly benign function of Post-cinematic perception for the well-trained, who will always believe that they are the who is one talking, even if part of the process works in the dark. An educated person expects to speak with complexity. When the speech motors get going and the pace becomes brisk, there is sense of an auto-pilot steering the talking, but the speaker believes that they own the auto-pilot. It is part of an overall identity.
Without training, and without regular practice in self-narration, that same auto-pilot of speech can become something completely different. If one does not expect to speak with complexity, it is difficult to own the result. It would be easier to believe that the speech is coming from beyond or outside of one's self. If the auto-narrator is modeled on someone no longer alive, its appearance would be a strong suggestion of an afterlife.
This presents the question, why would our thoughts or speech need to be shepherded? Why do our sentences need to be any longer than a slogan-sized phrase? Which came first? More demanding problem solving or a capacity for it? We solved many survival issues when faced with environments that evolutionary change would quickly become far too late to solve. Our innate chunk-limit of four was an established and built-in basic feature of our cinematic perception. Like with primary perception, the only further opportunity to improve cinematic perception was another further process of digestion that came after or, Post-Cinematically. The term makes me think of a cinnamon-flavored breakfast cereal.
Post-cinematic perception observes the passing frames of our cinematic composite and has the ability to place them into a further composite that isn't like a picture or model. It is not a flow of passing frames like cinematic perception. It is like a single frame suspended in time that hosts elements of passing parade of cinematic perceptions. The parade has a beginning and an end, but we perceive it from a curbside perch that freely floats anywhere alongside it. There is no chunk-limit involved. The length or quantity of components of the parade is simply a matter of effort. Unlike cinematic perception, the order or sequence of the parade is not dependent on the original order they occurred in. It is completely variable, changeable and organize-able.
Once organized, a narrative parade must internally 'play' in its entirety and shepherd the new sequence back into the flow of cinematic perception. Any element of perception that is processed in this fashion is no longer strictly natural. It becomes an artificial perception. In re-sequencing, we re-invent what we see and hear.
Even without further operation of narration, the resulting modified perceptions are remembered and recalled without any distinction from unmodified perceptions. This is a useful survival skill. It makes believing in the possible, possible. It allows our internal model of reality to see further into the past and future. It provides a means of extensive communication and organization of language. We could make plans and solve problems that would be impossible with cinematic perception alone.
Narrative Ability is the most often used custom term and is key to understanding what trioon is about. On the average, humans start with a feeble capacity for Post-cinematic perception. If encouraged and exercised, it can be strengthened and used for longer periods without fatigue. Most important is the role that being narrative plays in one's life. A childhood full of schooling in the 3 R's followed by a higher education in critical thinking and sophisticated subjects requires extensive and nearly constant narrating to accomplish. This can happen in a society that expects narration in its citizens and allows or permits it with individual rights. However, no society starts out this way. Achieving that level of educational egalitantry is a long and slow process.
Many existing societies have no such ambition of granting the intellectual power of narrative ability to everyone. Other forms of training allow individuals a limited and completely framework-ed use of their own narrative perception and instead create a reliance on, and then a demand a dominance for, external narrations. As in, other people's narrations. This level of narrative ability is more suitable for a life of dull repetition and obedience to an established order that does not welcome invention. It also makes for a starkly different experience of mind than those who were encouraged to narrate since they were children.
This distinction manifests in the political divide. The full time self-narrators tend to be progressive, egalitarian, liberal and value individual freedom. They tend to believe any contest between ideas can be resolved through reasoned arguments. The fault in that reasoning is the misguided belief that everyone is a full time self-narrator and/or desires to lead the life that requires being one.
There are alternatives to being constantly narrative with an active Post-cinematic perception. It involves living lives that humans are already well-adapted for that rely less or not at all on individual narrative ability. Their perception tires quickly. Especially in reasoned debate. For them, the big complex issues are determined by political champions who rely on quantity of believers and followers and not logic. Free thought and invention is not welcome or required.
Throughout our history, one group of humans has tried to explain why another group of humans were less than human, soulless, inferior and lower animals unworthy of social privileges. In every case, it is one society's emphasis and encouragement of narrative ability leading them to perceive and declare a superiority over societies that restrict individual narrative ability.
Nyeep is an invented term borrowed from Joni Mitchell. It is single unit of thought like a molecule of matter. Visual imagery, a tune, a phrase, or any conclusion drawn from them is a nyeep. That includes facts. Specifically, plain or micro-facts that can't be argued.
The Nyeep Pool is our collection of cinematic memories and the source of our intelligence. Others would call it the subconscious mind but there is a need for a further distinction. Memories of sounds, shapes, smells, colors and all the single attributes of things and their associations are stored sub-cinematic perceptions that are capable of nearly instantaneous recall if triggered. Without a trigger, there is no need for recall. Memories of cinematic perceptions are different in that they can trigger each other in endless chains like film frames running on a projector that never stops. Daydreams, sleeping dreams, reminiscing or free associating are likened to a vast pool with images and words coming to surface and sinking again. Learning and feats of intelligence take place deep in the pool and come to the surface with an 'aha' or a eureka feeling.
Sometimes the submerged nyeep-chains build up into oversized sequences called a Stored Narrative Charge. They contain complex feats of learning in overwhelming detail that races to the conscious surface chaotically. They cannot be consumed or harvested without some kind of external control to shepherd the sequence across the conscious threshold in a manner that can be digested by being gradually summarized into smaller but enlightened perceptions, or Hyper-realized Nyeeps. An extreme example of this would be a coma-induced visit to the afterlife or vivid vision. More mundane examples would be feeling inspired to write or compose, or waking up feeling that you have resolved something or learned something.
This was the original task of Post-cinematic perception. When our primitive nyeep shepherd was called upon, it is as if a motionless bridge were suspended over the flowing nyeep pool. A dark anonymous figure (the auto-narrator) stands on the Libet Bridge rearranging the passing flow and sending it back into the pool. This makes a feedback circuit that takes about half a second. Hence the name of the bridge. One can learn to possess or be conscious of the rearranging part of the circuit and become the figure on the bridge and Mr. Flashlight. Of course there is no dark figure or bridge or flashlight in our heads, it is only a metaphorical model.
Types of Societies and Citizens
Trioon divides human societies into two broad categories based on the role our third perception plays in its structure. The designations are simply Type A and Type B. Assignment is determined by the role of authority in an average citizen's life. If all authority belongs to an elite or ruling class, that is Type A. If citizens are granted authority over themselves with rights and social responsibilities, that is Type B. The elite or ruling class still maintain authority over the social landscape and actual world the rights are granted in. A Type C society is postulated, but only as a fully authority-less society full of self-authors.
A Type A society sounds dreadful at first but actually comes in real handy when resources are meager and there isn't enough narrative encouragement and training to go around. It is much easier to dominate and control the unwashed masses by stunting their perception and filing it with a repetition of enforced facts. To one who is not a self-author, this scenario can be an aspiration. It has all the benefits of a good social story without requiring the ability to tell one yourself.
The horror begins as more and more citizens, despite the efforts of the authorities, become self-authors from other avenues of encouragement. When sufficient numbers emerge, the society evolves into a Type B. When the numbers fall, things can revert to Type A. The evolve and revert part can take many forms and usually destructive. Things can devolve to tribalism, which makes Type A a far more attractive aspiration than a Type B.
Modern examples include Type A's pretending to be Type B's and A's that dole out just enough B-ness to keep the pitchforks at bay. A few, like the USA, have tried to enshrine B-ness as an authority. The Type A authorities smirk and call them 'The Great Experiment' and are waiting for them all to fail.