There is a difference between a way of thinking that is aware of its contemporaneity, and one that cautiously aligns itself with previously defined ways. But these two ways of thinking are not necessarily in opposition to one another. One of these differences lies in the concerns of the contemporary character, which goes beyond merely defining what it is to ‘be contemporary’.[1] Just as real understanding cannot happen through a mere ‘repetition’ of the past; contemporariness doesn’t lie in just avoiding repetition. This denial (of the past) must be reexamined and be redefined as a denial of frameworks establishing ‘dos and don’ts’.[2]

With a greater outlook we can seek the basis of today’s form of thinking in the beginning of the Impressionists’ work, toward the end of the 19th century. This was a time when works born out of pleasure, nobility, and pure power began to gain a greater audience and thus an opposition to previously defined concepts.

In a relatively short period of time between 1870 (the apex of impressionism) and 1910 (when people like Marcel Duchamp, Kandinsky, and others came on the scene), the essence of ‘definition’ changed. From this time an attention to meaning and concept replaced pure materiality, and the effect of this on the subject of creativity was to move it from a consideration of “what” to a question of “how”.[3] Clearly letting go of previously held understandings and beliefs will have consequences. One of its results will be a sense of confusion, chaos, and even a fear of the unknown.

This way of thinking is directly related to consciousness. According to some psychologists in the first year of life children interact with their surrounding world through instinct. From age one to seven the child learns through experience (of actions and reactions) and begins using his intelligence. During this time his imagination is also developing, which in combination with the emotions that were his only tools of interaction in the past, they begin to build his belief system. From age seven to eighteen he begins to discover the rules and hidden relations in the world, and form general ideas, which increases his awareness.

Some scientific research shows that incorrect information (software) can physically damage the brain (hardware), and affect the individual’s way of absorbing, understanding, and analyzing information (neuroplasticity)[4]. If a seven-year-old is constantly given false information, and if he doesn’t later ‘erase’ this information (undo-knowing)[5], then he will never have a logical, general, deep understanding and cognition of events, and his understanding will always seem based on a mirage[6] (superstitions).

The Renaissance (when perspective appeared, elevating the position of man as the viewer of events) is considered one of the most transformational periods of human cultural history. The current era, if not more important, is as important and transformational as the Renaissance. Our contemporary intellectuals are those who can consciously and intentionally empty their minds of previously held beliefs, in order to free themselves from their constraints, and to be able to experience reality directly[7]. Our mind is always in the process of learning and analyzing information. This analysis takes place differently in different people due to genetic and contextual differences.

No one can truly understand the concept of ‘now’. This is because in the best case scenario our nervous system transmits signals at a speed of 3,650 m/sec, which means that anything we experience will take time before getting registered in our brain[8].

In a situation where man is disconnected from ‘now’, with an undeniable ‘past’, and an unpredictable ‘future’, he is left with two choices[9]. The easy way is to continue on without any question, repeating our routine, waiting for it all to come to an end. The other way is to accept our responsibility in continuing the spirit of questioning, empty ourselves from preconceived notions, and by directly interaction with reality face the fact that we don’t know!

[1] “The millipede was asked how it moves. It couldn’t continue on its way once it began to think about it.” Paulo Coelho (indirect quote)

[2] Every new movement is in a way based on what came before it. Sometimes in the process of becoming contemporary, some apply to superficial solutions without any content. These people, who merely seek formal change to prove their contemporariness, are not very different from those who without understanding reasons and concepts, blindly attempt to replicate the past. These two groups are two sides of the same coin.

[3] “How” becomes important in providing inventive solutions and predicting the conflicts and consequences of each. Every living creature needs to do certain things in order to exist: these fall in the context of “what”. It is only human beings that consider the quality of “How-ness” in the things they do.

[4] The process of learning over many years results in different behaviors. This is not a permanent condition and is changeable. The fact that behavior is directly related to learning raises the question whether it is possible to change when the nervous system controlling behavior has so carefully been formed. There are different theories in response to this question but what Ramon Cajal described at the beginning of the 20th century has the fewest inconsistencies. He believed that the nervous system responds to stimuli in two ways. The first is the neuron’s response to the stimulus. The second is creating change in a neuronal system in response to continuous stimuli, which is plasticity. Changes in behavior are explained through plasticity of the brain. Short-term physiological changes can change synapses. More long term changes can occur as a result of physiological change, which are anatomical and include the creation of synapse pathways in the main synapse, or even the creation of new synapses. Physiologic changes cause changes in the function of synapses (albeit short-term), and anatomic changes create new synapses and consequently changes in behavior. It is the possibility of plasticity and neuronal reactions that makes up the personality of different people.

[5] Undoing of knowledge is one of the most difficult tasks that contemporary man is faced with. This is the process of erasing mistaken information from our brain, and is only possible through practice and continuous awareness.

[6] Spinoza says of superstitions, “If people knew how to manage their lives they would never turn to superstition.” When people have less control on their context, the appeal of superstitions increases. Studies show that superstitions are more common among the lower social classes, and among those who have lower IQs and less education. Studies also show that those with violent, forceful parents are more prone to developing superstitions.

[7] After discovering the power of mind control and its usefulness during World War Two, more studies were conducted in this area and it became one of the most important tools for controlling masses. In a project titled MK-Ultra there were even attempts to train terrorists. Although these programs have apparently been stopped, yet there are still ways of mind control used for the benefit of the powerful, with detrimental effects on the health and safety of human beings.

[8] From the time an event occurs until it is perceived: event, getting the information, transferring and categorizing, understanding and decision-making.

Synaptic Transmission

[9] “Will I remain faithful to myself or choose an easier path?” Margot Bickel (indirect quote)