Artificial Intelligence

What is Thinking?

Is contemplation, preparation, memory and readiness thinking, like this:

Saskatoon After Leaf Fall

or is it something that comes before muscular action, which it holds in readiness, like this:

Rodin’s Clever Man

Note that the muscles are visibly sculpted. The thinking here has been done by Rodin’s hands! The man’s hand itself is at ease: a bird’s beak.

Or is thinking like this, seen from the other side?

Here the hand is a fist!

This is Atlas!

Holding the Earth on His Shoulders!

In Rodin’s case, he holds the Earth on his fist, not on his shoulders. Look again:

And the Earth is his head! This is the relationship of Earth and Moon:

Earth and Her Moon, Seen from Mercury. Image from NASA.

Isn’t this all a little bit of humans defining thought by being humans defining thought? Look at the definition:

Sometimes They Think, Sometimes They Don’t.

Tricky. Could we then say this:

1. A saskatoon is a thinking plant.

2. Any thinking saskatoon would reject growing into the shade.

Like this?

Saskatoon, Actively Creating Thoughts

After all, Rodin was demonstrating that he thought with his hands. Like this, I presume:

If Rodin Had Been Canadian, He Would Have Done it This Way

But not this?

Mountain Ash, Thinking

Perhaps, we should go back to the dictionary, and clear things up:

What if we just called the “mental” in the above X? Here’s some X:

The X Formerly Known as Staghorn Sumac

Is this not the product of X activity; that which one thinks? The only difference from the dictionary definition, then, is that this “thinking” is the product of the relationship between a mind, which is a minding, an attention, a memory, a re-membering, and a member, a body in the world. They both have to be present. You can’t think about a sumac if a sumac is not present. You’re just thinking about an image of a sumac, a kind of memory of one, and using it to stand in for a sumac, like this:

Smooth Sumac

Similarly, you can “think” about an image of a wild rose, which is storing its summer, and its life, into seeds, which extend it, while wrapping them in fruit, to attract deer and birds…

… but you are only thinking about an image, reduced by the organic patterns of your brain into colour and shape, and by your experience into memory, while the rose is thinking with its hands, or what it has in place of hands. If you go up to the rose as the body that reduced it to colour, line and texture, which it drew out of memory and re-membered, you would experience quite a different rose, as information flowed into your re-membered image from your senses. Wet, roughness, sharpness, cold, smoothness, scent, the clacking of twigs, the calling of birds, and so on. Is this remembering of hand, nose, eye and ear, unified instantaneously with touch, a bodily response? Is it not this:

Or, to put it another way, is that not this:

Hoodoos at sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitk ʷ.

Is this collection of faces, bodies, cliffs, trees, bushes and channels not a complex portrait of the process of thought? What differentiates it from thought, if nothing except thought can be perceived? Well, certainly, one can repeat the process in the absence of the objects here, but then you might wind up with something like this:

Artificial and Book Intelligence All At Once!

Is it “thinking” when words never spoken by Sealth are ascribed to him? Here he is:

Chief Seattle in 1864, Carefully Posed by the Photographer

Who knows what either of them was thinking. All we have is an organic response to an image, kind of like a mind circling around in an eddy.

Is that stronger or weaker thinking than the asparagus my attention framed so tightly below:

Doesn’t this image physically influence your mind, as touch would do, except that the touch here is by light and shape, which respond to the mind’s innate patterns of recognizing light and shape an aligning them with memory of them elsewhere? Is that not this:

Is that not this?

Low Pressure Air Striking the Marble Mountains

They squeeze it out of the air as rain, at the same time it lifts the lake into the sky and turns the air into wind.

Is that not the same physical response as the thought of a human being in the world? It might not be the thought in books, but are we books? Should we be setting the terms of our relationship to the Earth by our relationship to books and images? Won’t we lose this?

nx ̌aʔx̌ʔitkʷ, the spirit of the lake, lives in the water but can move into the air.

Isn’t that a body-to-body relationship, like this:

Meeting Cipak in the Similkameen Valley

That’s just an image. When you are present there, you have a relationship, body-to-body. It’s more than this:

nx̌aʔx̌ʔitkʷ (2013)
Artist: Smoker Marchand | 525 Hwy 97 (Okanagan Lake Shopping Centre)
The sacred spirit of the lake, nx ̌aʔx̌ʔitkʷ, lives in the water but can also move to the land and air. nx ̌aʔx̌ʔitkʷ reminds us to be mindful of our resources; if nx ̌aʔx̌ʔitkʷ disappears due to pollution and misuse of the water, so do the plants, medicines, trees, and foods that sustain us.

And more than Smoker Marchand’s sculpture itself:

In fact, it’s not art, although art, as a response, is part of this thinking that permeates everything. You can’t do this in isolation. What kind of culture expects us to do so? Not this one:

Does it matter that this thought took longer to arrive here than humans have been present on Earth? Does it not matter that it is not, primarily, meant for us? Don’t we carry its roots forward from our own non-human ancestors? Maybe “thinking” is the wrong word. Maybe the word is “open”, as in:

I’m opening in this right now.

Right now:

To be clear, not “opening to this” but “in this”. What if we took everything we knew about reading books and moved out into the world with it? We’d be re-membering language and mind-ing the world.

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