Monday, October 03, 2005

Here's one for ya (updated)

What 7-letter word contains the letters YZ next to each other in that order?

Well the answer was 'not-musingly' stated in the comment section, but I'll still describe my musings.

(1) When I first read the question, I stood there, trying to think of what word it could be. I soon found that I was thinking of words with the letters in the order ZY. (2) I left it and then went to do something else, soon after I came up with (3) syzygy and syzygies (some of my fav words) but both of them do not fulfill the letter length requirement. Nothing else came to mind and I left it for awhile.
(4)Then a week or so later, I was lying in bed and the question popped into my head once again. Here is my putative stream of thoughts:
"7 letters... YZ... Byzant (too short)... byzantine (too long)... Byzantine is like Babylon, [something like] axlxla...babylize... analyze. oh, that's it." (then I actually thought "Interesting! I should blog that.")

Now there are several things to mention here. The first of which is the assumption that we can trust my observation of my own thoughts to not only be accurate, but also accurately remembered. While this may or may not be true, we shall assume it is for interesting purposes. Onto the others...

When I first read the question(1), I had the feeling that I 'asked' my brain to try to find the answer. I stood there, simply waiting for something to pop into my consciousness... and nothing did. I left it(2), but my subconscious still worked on it and came up with two false answers(3). I left it again, and (seemingly) before my brain started working on it again, I was aware of it when I started to think about the question again(4).

There were various operations occuring, only some of which 'I' am aware. The word "Byzant" pops 'into' my head, another quick counting operation (which I feel I did mostly consciously) told me it was "6 not 7, wrong" and similarly, quickly realizing the adjective form was too long. Then a semantic connection (accurate or not) between 'Byzantine' and 'Babylon', then some odd 'space' of something that would sound like 'alaxa' but isn't close to a word, then re-entrance of the earlier 'Babylon' and mixing it with the nonword, and then analyze pops 'in.' And I got the answer.

Of course, where did these words come from? Somewhere in my brain obviously, but in one place? In many? In one place and many? How did my brain know to do all these things and what did 'I' have to do with it? Any thoughts?

Examining the last question, it is likely fallacious to say "my brain" because I am my brain (and body and surrounding environment that stimulates the organism 'Darren.') The "Darren system" immediately took action after the stimulus of the question was presented. It tried several times, but any final outputs were inaccurate. One week later, the system resumed the question with greater resources and eventually found the correct answer.

That is describing the situation from an outside perspective, but experincing it as I did (very much 'inside') it is hard not to separate 'myself' from 'me.' As well, it makes one wonder about the causal powers of consciousness. If physical brain states are synonymous with conscious thoughts, and the physical states cause other physical states (i.e., more conscious thoughts), what do the conscious thoughts do? As I've structured the question, it would seem like they do nothing. But that would make them a superfluous output (epiphenomena one might say).

Perhaps the question was structured improperly and it is best to think of 'levels of consciousness' with some things being 'conscious' and some things being 'not so much conscious.'

Of course, if there are levels of consciousness within an individual, does that mean there could be levels of consciousness between individuals? Hmm... "She's more conscious than he?" or more amusingly, "I'm more conscious than me?"

Any thoughts?


Blogger A. Muser said...

Hmm...I made an attempt to analyze this brain teaser but came up with nothing ;)

9:10 PM  

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