The Creation of Consciousness


I read this thin book, like 100ish pages, over the weekend and it BLEW MY MIND. Yes I had to put it in all capital letters.  It is about the creation of a new myth, the role of consciousness in the creation of that myth, and Jung.

Ever since childhood I have been obsessed with mythology, and more broadly, with stories that ground our lives.  (I also listened to a lot of  Joseph Campbell and the power of myth as a young girl.) When I applied to grad school, before iphones, my application essay was about the lack of mythology in our age and the need for a new myth.  I used the example of multiple listserves as sort of multiple consciousnesses that pulled my attention, as multiple myths if you will.  Today it is even worse. The mythology of instagram is different from the mythology of github, or the mythology of daybreakers.

Even the new myths, like detective stories or westerns are unsatisfactory. They no longer satisfy a wide range of people who are excluded by this mythology (Like in the case of westerns, non white males, first nations people, non-americans). In the past there would be no choice but to submit to this mythology, but today there is an ability to exercise freedom of thought, if not freedom of action (although many places do have freedom of action as well).

There is a popular conception that our new age will not have one overriding myth, but instead we will have multiple myths that will accommodate the myriad possible freedoms that many people in liberal democracies can enjoy with how they choose to live their lives.  Although I wonder if that is the case.  Is there still not an overarching myth?

In this book the myth positied is the myth of consciousness. That the goal of every individual life is the creation of a fully conscious Self. That would mean, that I no longer act out of habit, or instinct, that every single moment, every move I make is the product of intention.  The book also posits that Jung has lead the most conscious life ever – for what its worth.

If this is our new myth, to become conscious, it coincides well with the current focus on the self, and self improvement (perhaps narcissism). There is also an eternal return aspect to this myth.  We are able to deposit moments of consciousness into the collective unconscious. This is what great art/literature/etc is supposed to represent.  We can live forever, perhaps not in heaven, but in the collective unconscious. It is a bit out there. I would ask my shrink what he thinks, but he is on vacation.

To me this is fascinating.  That our goal in life is to be as conscious as possible, and through this we can get that elusive metaphysical dream: everlasting life.  This is not a myth of our past, of where we come from, but a myth of our future.








Shaders in Elm


This morning I sat down to draw and develop an intuitive sense of rgb/time (think sin/cos), and shaders. I was promptly hit by a massive anxiety attack (which is not my go to form of mental illness), and after two podcasts, two books, a nap, I still had the residual effects hours later.

I decided to pour a half bottle of Guinness into a nice mason jar and refocus.

So what do I mean by time and what the hell am I doing anyway, and why is this blog post entitled shaders in elm??? It will all come together –but perhaps not in one blog post.

As a recap, I think I write about this elsewhere, a shader is a piece of code that renders all pixels in parallel because it runs on the GPU. So if you have code that says something like

color_of_pixel = rgb(sin(current-time),sin(current-time),0)

it will be executed on all the pixels at the same time.

Great we can set colors, how can we make this animate, or how can we make the colors change.

This is where time comes in because animation is change over time and the way that we can change the pixel colors is by using current time as a variable.

A common way to use time to create an abstract animation is to use sine and cosine with the current time as the input. The reason this works so well is that these functions follow a regular pattern and are bounded. If you want to quickly create a shader animation set the color to something generated by a trigonometric function based on the current time. I realize that this is perhaps not the best explanation so I did some googling and found this great article.

So what I want to investigate is how does a continuous cyclical number (which i am calling time), when used as an input for generating a color, work on an intuitive level?

How does the color change when it is the format rgba? When you use time to alter r,g,b,and the alpha layer, one at a time, or all together, or staggered.

To answer this question i thought that instead of doing sketches maybe i should study functions in R. But then I thought – just do shader studies – but in ELM (because why use a language I actually am familiar with?).

So that is where I am now. I just installed elm-webgl, as well as the linear-algebra package, I took the shader example code and ran elm react and  I am all set running shaders on elm.  Tomorrow shader studies begin:

shader screenshot

shader screenshot


Another level of complexity I think about is the pixel location.  What happens when we use the current pixel location a variable, and how we can develop intuition about that.. Some thing like:

color_of_pixel = rgb(sin(current-time mod pixelx),sin(current-time mod pixely),0)

or something equally nuts, hopefully I can tackle it in my shader studies.