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Emphasis on Quality
Key Takeaways from 'Enter the Supersensorium' in The Baffler Issue No. 45
Waking consciousness is a dream, but one that happens to correspond to reality, mainly because its sources are our sensory organs. Our eyes, ears, skin, noses, all save us from solipsism merely because they have been tuned by evolution so finely that the dream of our life correlates with the state of the world. — Erik Hoel, Enter the Supersensorium
The above excerpt is from an article I came across from @Plantimals. After reading it, the framework that I view both dreams and entertainment through has been changed entirely. This quick overview is no substitute for the whole article which I recommend checking out HERE.
Intro to the Ideas —
Overfitting: When a model is too sensitive to the data that it’s been fed & therefore stops being generalizable.
EX: Show an AI learning to recognize dogs in pictures 1000 pictures of dogs. You may then show it a picture of a deer and it may ‘overfit’ it into the dog category.
The solution to overfitting is to expand the size of a model’s ‘training set’, which is the group of things that it uses to create it’s scaffold of understanding. For our brains as an example, life is the training set. Other than our waking experience, there are 2 other things we can use to expand our brain’s training set:
Dreams — Dreaming allows us to explore the experiential landscape in ways that we usually wouldn’t in waking life. Brains need to test experiences in down time to render them more accurately when they happen.
Content/Fiction — All learning is a tradeoff of generality and specificity. The generality of the monomyth or ‘Hero’s journey’ we find in fiction may make it more true than reality.
The Main Idea —
In the age of infinite sources of content, we should seek out quality sources to occupy our attention.
The only cure for too much fiction is good fiction…It’s difficult to overeat on caviar alone.
The author goes on to explain the difference between how we react to Art and Entertainment, suggesting that the lines between the 2 have become blurred over time by postmodernism.
In short, the distinction is that Entertainment keeps us in a certain frame of mind, inducing a waking atonia or paralysis while we consume it’s content. Art is something that changes us and offers new models through which to view the world. Fiction or content that serves the purpose of Art earns the classification as quality.
I appreciated above all the call to action in this article to find where there is objective quality, because I believe it really is out there, separate from our subjective preferences.
Next week, I’m going to drop 3 tangible ways for how to give a better introduction.