I’ll go out on a limb and share a personal anecdote: In high school I took magic mushrooms with my friends, and at one point in the experience the world disappeared and I saw an undulating fabric in a honeycomb pattern. In the center of each “hole” in the fabric was a link to a memory, a time and a place.
It was one of those images that was hard to forget - I can still recall it many, many years later.
In “Dragons of Eden” Carl Sagan muses that drugs might work in an analogous way to how night time brings out the stars. The stars are always there, but daylight masks them.
In a similar way I’ve often wondered if there was something to that geometry I saw.
Or perhaps it’s just my brain trying too hard to be poetic :P
(As for how I got to that state: I was in Marines Corps training and we had sick call, but they said sick call is not for a cold or the sniffles. So the first few days I toughed it out. Eventually I realized no this is more serious; every morning after that I turned up for sick call and got turned away "you just have a cold, f--k off." Since I didn't have a physical injury to point to I just got lectures about malingering, while I was passing out on my feet everywhere and coughing up quarts of green goop. Eventually I just refused to stand down from the sick call until they took me to the corpsman, where it turned out I had a bad case of pneumonia and a 104F fever. They gave me antibiotics and sent me back (walking, alone) to my barracks, did not even keep me for observation.)
The addition of drugs sort of pulls back the curtain on what other things may be just under the mark, lurking beneath your "default" consciousness.
This reminds me of one my favorite quotes from Westworld (HBO, 2017)
"There is no threshold that makes us greater than the sum of our parts, no inflection point at which we become fully alive. We can't define consciousness because consciousness does not exist. Humans fancy that there's something special about the way we perceive the world and yet, we live in loops as tight and as closed as the [robots] do, seldom questioning our choices - content, for the most part, to be told what to do next." - Dr. Ford (character)
One of the things I really love about marijuana is that while it mentally alters your state, it leaves you completely coherent, where you can still be perceptive and reflective. For me it's like a deep, consistent meditation if I relax and really focus on how I'm "thinking." Perceptually, at least personally, it really feels like there are mental facilities that suddenly become "communicative", a higher (no pun intended) mental state. If I dose right I often use marijuana to reflect about how I'm living my life, a social situation that needs attention, a hard problem at work, or sometimes I just really really love listening to music. And I have to say, if you've never listened to music while high, you truly are missing out on an experience.
All this is basically to say I totally agree with your statement about "pulling back the curtain." I personally consider it useful, it's often nice to have a different perspective on a problem. It's helped me out a lot, I think.
What basically happens (among other things) the feed from my subconsciousness that sometimes suggest ideas out of blue or solves problems becomes much, much stronger. Sometimes I can't even manage to type all of those ideas/todos into phone, they come so fast. The only issue is, short term memory impairment also makes them fade away pretty quickly, so sometime it looks like a race to record it all.
I think this is also the scientific consensus. "Consciousness and the Brain" is a good overview of recent studies on consciousness, and piecing together the results. I've just started reading, but so far I'd highly recommend it.
Isn't it obvious?
Edit: I'd like to add some links that touch on your perception of the hexagon pattern as a representation of the inner workings of the brain. These are super-not-rigorous. They're the collaborative work of people who have had similar experiences of some sort of representation of thought while on entheogens, and I thought you might find them interesting:
Even if hypoxia “brings out the stars from behind the daylight sky” your brain is still dying, and you’ll leave yourself damaged if you take it too far. So, if huffing volatile inhalents is romantic, then what else might be?
In vino veritas? Alcohol confers brain damage as well...
This very much resembles my experience taking too many mushrooms.
This and the article also reminds of the times I tried salvia divinorum. It was always accompanied by strange geometric patterns that came before and after really going somewhere.
The one time I tried chewing it the way the south american shamans used to gave me pretty heavy depersonalization and turned the world into a big geometric honeycomb pattern that felt like the 2d backdrop of a play.
LSD also gave some strange rippling geometric patterns that really came to mind reading through this article.
I've eaten a lot of shrooms and never saw a honeycomb. Lots of multicolored, neon visuals that look vaguely Mayan. Lots of squat, squared off tribal stuff.
Mescaline was very visual but no geometric patterns as far as I can recall.
Seeing honeycomb is the 3D version of seeing a checkerboard (or even more precisely, simply tiled squares).
I think the difference is that rather than "the brain is sort of performing a hack and reusing something it doesn't seem to have any driving need to re-use", the news is that many things turn out to fit into that model despite our intuition that they should have no particular spatialness to them. Metrics are more fundamental than we may have thought and it's actually neither a surprise nor a "hack" that the brain exploits this characteristic.
An interesting question comes to mind; do some brains have more dimensionality than others? Are some people literally one-dimensional thinkers, pervasively? Could we produce a test to distinguish between 2.1- and 2.5-dimensional thinkers? Can an increase in dimensionality be trained, or a natural talent fail to flourish without proper stimulation?
It could actually be spatially related in the brain too. Neurons are situated spatially and spatial constraints, ie. they have a limited number of connections, and the closer two neurons are spatially, the faster they can signal each other. The neuronal connections also rewire each other based on reinforcement, which could very well consistent of moving related concepts closer in your physical brain (at least important ones).
>" Many observers see geometric visual hallucinations after taking hallucinogens such as LSD, cannabis, mescaline or psilocybin; on viewing bright ickering lights; on waking up or falling asleep; in “near-death” experiences; and in many other syndromes. Kl ¨ uver organized the images into four groups called form constants: (I) tunnels and funnels, (II) spirals, (III) lattices, including honeycombs and triangles, and (IV) cobwebs. "<
That is certainly how I think I think ... I think :) As an experiment two years ago, I bootstrapped an IDE from an html file with just textarea that could overwrite it's own source on a webserver (it would restart the server if the server code was changed) in the browser. Eventually I got it to the point that it laid out the editors for individual files in an infinite plane of 2d space (akin to something like placing editor windows in a google maps like scrollable ui) and saved their locations between refreshes.
I still really miss the spatial sense that the file that controls the editors is up over there, and the file browser code is right over at that location, (and they slightly overlap their tests and other supporting files).
I had this vision of this sort of becoming a system wherein everyone could choose to see all the files in the system being edited in a shared global space (or perhaps space of workspaces). So if you wanted to see what so and so was working on you'd just navigate over to area where the files they are working on are located. By default if you were editing a file in this system in a public repo, since it was browser based it would be publicly viewable.
Juggling editor tabs and re-opening and reorganizing windows, and not being able to create workspaces of editor layouts since then has kind of sucked. It's like having this glimpse of a system that was from some future time but then having to abandon it.
The article has an illustration of a hexagonal lattice but makes zero explanation of what that means in practice, and the sentence above is the only actual reference.
Can anyone here explain what hexagonal modulation means, and what it means in the context of an fMRI signal?
You get honeycomb lattices naturally when you try to pack things efficiently into a surface. For example the same sized soap bubbles on the water surface.
The grid cells are tightly packed to equidistance to each other just like the bubbles.
On the contrary, it's pretty common to represent information on computers in geometrical space. This is what the whole concept of embeddings is, and it works really well!
So the fact that our analyze of the world is similar to our analyze of our other conceptual models seams very rational.