Random associations

Hey, there, reader! I’m not sure if you’re hypothetical, real, someone’s ML experiment gone horribly wrong, or Google’s crawler, but I’m sure that you’re reading this text (yes, even you, you undesired machine from The Terminator (well, I should just do away with pop culture references)). Random associations? Seriously? Is that the best I could come up with on this blog no one gives a damn about? Unfortunately, yes. I am running out of “creative” ideas and am in a mode (yes, mode, not mood) to type whatever comes to mind. Well, hasn’t that always been the case? But potato.

Random associations are what we all have in our brain, and are quite well depicted (unintended?) by the music video of Do I Wanna Know? by The Arctic Monkeys – yeah, you guessed it right again – it’s the other tab that’s open in my browser window and playing that “.. ! … !… !…” sound. But oh, well, moving on…

Let me post a disclaimer here that I’m not a psychology student or something – I’m just curious about the functioning of the “brain” (in quotes because I can’t say if it actually exists). Despite the field of neuroscience having made so much progress in recent years, it’s quite mind-boggling that we still haven’t figured out how that jelly up there works. Of course, I’m not discrediting all those years of research and hard work that have gone into figuring it out; I’m just marveling at the design (if it really is a “design”). The funny thing is, we can’t ever be sure of the brain’s existence (or for that matter, our own) since we can’t really “step out” of this so-called reality and “perceive” it externally. I doubt my point has reached you clearly, but if it has, yay! In simpler words, we’re using our sensory perception (eyes) to observe their controller (the brain) under the assumption that the brain actually, physically, exists (we can never be sure since the entire world around us is a product of our senses) – what if there is nothing called the brain (or even you) and we’re just simulations…

There’s plenty of stuff on the internet to read up on these musings (another keyword(s): “infinite regress”) and there’s no point delving deeper in this post (What’s the point of this post anyway, again?). The point is, how do all the random associations in the brain originate? Through the perceived world which influences and molds our thoughts? Or is it the other way round, in that we apply “filters” first and then perceive the world? Hmm-worthy, right? It’ll be interesting to find out someday. I guess this curiosity is what drives fellow human beings like us to take up neuroscience and gain a deeper insight.

I was reading a book (pop psych reader amigos, hi-five!) on this, and I came across a very interesting concept, called priming (all due credit to that author; my almost infinite apologies that I don’t recall the name)(Seriously, I don’t). Ever wondered why so many companies put up advertisements on billboards, television shows, the ‘papers, the radio, the mobile apps, the airports…and on and on, here, there and everywhere? (Yeah, The Beatles reference, if you will) It’s precisely because of the random associations our brains make on seeing things (perceiving, rather). You might very well wonder, “LOL did they really  think I was going to fall for that?!“, on seeing some ridiculous advertisements (ridiculous being a subjective term, I’m not going to exemplify – it’s up to you) and think to yourself that never in a million years would you buy that product, and that the advertisers are just making a mockery of themselves wasting bucks and bucks on pointless advertising apparatus. But alas! If only we were that rational and consistent! The brain thinks otherwise.

Apparently, thanks to perceiving the same product H, T and E, your brain gets subconsciously molded into wanting it, and ends up making you spend some (or more than some) moolah on it. The “million years” time period of your not-buying-that-product rationality magically gets reduced to less than a million seconds, perhaps. Bam! There you go – rational on the surface, but driven by something we don’t understand underneath!

Random associations are strange – especially when manifested in the form of dreams. Now, I can say with a fairly high level of confidence that we all have “weird” dreams – that is, dreams in which you perceive things that you normally wouldn’t even think of (or couldn’t think of). You may try to conjure up some kind of creative thought right now, but yeah, when you’re in that “dream flow”, this creative thought wouldn’t stand a chance against what your brain draws up while you’re weird-dreaming. It just is so damn amazing!

Random associations make life interesting, and if we assume that this is an all-rational, all-absurd physical world in which we’re doomed to decay and wither away anyway, it is these random associations that make our lives interesting. So hooray! Random associations are something to cherish!

Random afterthought –Random – does this word have any root or is it self-descriptive?


random – why not?

The cliched first post

Now, if you grammar pedants haven’t noticed, I haven’t used “clichéd” as it ought to be. Don’t ask me why; consider it the exertion of my so-called “free will”. Why have I begun to write this blog? Again, you won’t get an explicit answer. I just felt like doing so. If you fancy fancy words, call it the oozing out of my existential fluid. It’s all figurative, you pervert! If you’re here at some odd hour of the night, navigating through endless pages of the virtual sea known as the internet, I won’t blame you for being here. That is what this world has come to. I am 20 years old, and as I type endlessly on this keyboard, listening to songs on my headphones as any teenager would, I am going through a phase of life filled with anxiety. Yeah, yeah, you got that right. Same old, same old; the typical teenager who’s stuck in the transition from his teenage years nearing an end to the professional world in which one is valued for their skills. I know that I am oblivious (irony?) to the passage of time that I’ll probably whine about later on, but, oh well, what can I say. This is, in all probability, the worst introduction to any blog, leave alone this article. It’s just a scratch pad for the pink jelly apparently filled with grey stuff placed cozily in that chamber. It’s just a means to vent my frustration and/or anxiety about the world in general, and a release from the constant mosh pit of thoughts and emotions that keeps me going (nowhere?) every day.

So, why write a page full of utter balderdash? I have come to realize that the more often you pen down your thoughts, the easier you will be in terms of peace of mind. It’s like a saucer to your overflowing cup of brainy tea. It need not be a well-crafted, well-worded masterpiece such as Catch-22. Boy, I sure love that novel! A verbal piece of art, and what hilarity! Tut-tut! We’re digressing here; let me continue my article on waywardness. I’m not trying to be cheesy here by saying that this is a perfect example of all that this blog is about. Probably I did turn it into one, though. Anyway, let me continue. Where was I? Oh, right, the existential crisis that some, if not most, people of my age may be going through right now. It is something that has been bothering me for quite a while, and though it feels good to find kindred spirits going through such a phase, it also makes me feel helpless all the same. It’s as though there’s no onewho can help us (no, not exactly our parents because The Times They Are A-Changin’) and take us out of this quagmire but our own selves. The issue then arises of all the others who have their life path (be it personal, career, or whatever) set in stone. They’re probably those high-achievers, straight Aers who’ve always competed against their peers just to get to that golden digit, not discovering things around them that warrant loads of discussion, thanks to the endless rut of examinations and other academic hurdles. Man, some people can never be at ease.

Am I at ease? Haha, if you’re smart enough, which you definitely (if not presumably) are, you’d wonder why the heck I am writing this article if I were. Hell no, I ain’t at ease! I am, as I said in the preceding paragraphs, like millions of other teenagers in the world, at loggerheads with conceptions of my own ‘selves,’ one being the supposedly rational, all-abiding sane human that is, and the other being the inner, nihilistic, existentially questionable combination of chemicals and synapses in the jelly up there. I have been raised as a ‘good’ kid, taught good habits and manners since childhood, haven’t had any rough treatment in any way, and have never been exposed to the perceived ‘bad’ elements that exist in the world. But do I see myself growing up to become a person having even the slightest semblance to the kid that I was in childhood? Perhaps not. I believe it is the case with scores of youths out there, clearly exemplified by the statistics of drug and alcohol abuse and instances of violence. So why are we taught things that delude us into thinking so rosily about the big bad world out there? Why not teach Darwinian principles to children, albeit in a toned down form, so that at least they get a fairly realistic view of the world from a very young age? Why wait till they attain puberty and realize that the abstract world around them is completely different from what they imagined back in the gleeful days of kindergarten? I simply don’t get it. If we’re taught that happiness is something that we must get and try our best so that people around us get too, why does money come into the picture and make people greedy and ruthless? Well, that’s for sometime later, as I believe an article of this word length should be sufficient for a first post on what I believe will be a perennially sporadic blog, or at least I hope so. I just hope this article doesn’t remain the only one on this blog, or else my ambitions as being an online excretor (don’t know if such a word even exists) will be dashed. I will have to stay stuck in the WC, endlessly waiting for ‘release.’

Yay! Congratulations on reading my first post on waywardness!

If you’re still reading this, well, congratulations! You get a virtual cookie (geddit?). This is just a peek into what I am thinking about at this hour of the night. I have always wanted to write something on the WWW, because I love to read books, and besides, it’s the “it” thing nowadays and everyone’s into writing.

Actually, no. The WordPress layout is very attractive.

No, this isn’t an attempt to make myself sound witty or hilarious. Haha. I am being over-smart here. But free speech. Seriously, the WP layout is catchy.