“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Eco-Schizophrenia: The Brain That Knows Too Much

Too much information: Richard Dadd

HT Simon Sellars. The hypothesis is that schizophrenic brains reward learning too much--thus giving rise to information overdose. You can model this with computers. Bingo.

It's called hyperlearning. How uncanny is that?

I have a strong intuition that my schizophrenic brother Steve does this. I remember after every gig (he started that band Senser), he would recall exactly where he had made trivial drumming errors. I mean exactly.

This is congruent with my intuitions about ecological awareness as psychosis. In a reality where there is no away, no background and thus no foreground, we face a loss of meaning and a heightening of knowledge, along with hugely amplified risk. Like looking at a painting by mentally troubled Richard Dadd.



This is very interesting to me, this idea of information overload. I am autistic, so I get information overload all the time - sensory & social overload mainly. However I also have schizoaffective disorder, so I get that crazy stuff too. I'm interested in this noticing and remembering too much. I do this in both an autistic and a psychotic way. What do you think eco-autism would look like? There seem to be many ways in which psychosis and autism intersect, despite the fact that they are usually viewed as being on opposite ends of a spectrum.

Timothy Morton said...

Hi--thank you, I shall think about that. That's a good question.

Timothy Morton said...

I also agree that psychosis and autism intersect. In the olden days they must have intuited this when they called autism "childhood schizophrenia."

Cathy Sander said...

I think I suffer from this as well. A glutton for (self)-punishment it is!

Turning information into knowledge takes a long time...and there's no gurantee that knowledge can be transformed into wisdom.

The internet has its perils for the unprepared, and the young, and the naive...

To know things is one thing, but to enact on that knowledge is quite another. We frankly have too much information to convert to knowledge before we can take action. So ironically, we would be 'better' off with less information!