A good explanation for “belief” vs. “Knowledge”
For humans, the present is a 3-second experience.
The past-present-future system is imposed on reality as a social necessity.
Researchers, of course, argue over the number of seconds that characterize the human “attention span”, but isn’t it likely that this varies from person to person, and indeed from infanthood through old age, and across other fields of experience?
These tiny episodes of “paying attention” are linked by the brain into what seems like a movie of one’s life. The “past” is a construct built from memory, both individual and collective, which is highly inaccurate and carefully filtered. The “future” is a prediction made by the brain using selective inaccurate memories and scant knowledge of how the world works. Prediction is not a human ability: evidence the millions of predictions made each day by “experts” and “regular people” alike that are completely “wrong”. Math and science allow humans to make incredible predictions about how the world-universe works; try getting a probe to Mars using a Ouija board!
When “being myself” I have little to do with clocks, calendars, personal planners or plans for the future. Time is a personal experience, and can be as elastic as a bungee cord; not every human is frantic over milliseconds. Social typicals have the impression that Asperger people are “stuck” in habits and obsessions and that we dislike change. The observation may seem to be correct from the POV of a schedule-dependent social typical who has little insight into his or her own inflexible schedules. How can people who are slaves to a minute by minute time frame, and who crave constant trivial contact with other people, claim to be “free of” obsessions about time, habit, and “sameness”. Try taking a “social slave” into the wilderness; you will soon see how well neurotypicals tolerate change! Neuroptypicals, as “neotenic” Homo sapiens, confuse a blizzard of “novelty” with real change.
What is wrong with forming habits?
Granted, habits or preferences native to a child may get in the way of the system of obedience that is the standard method to train children. A parent’s or teacher’s “Hurry up, hurry up” orders interfere with the child’s innate sensory immersion in physical reality. Children are entranced by their own natural attention interval, which allows for physiological “learning” – the brain must gradually learn to operate a growing body in coordination with the “laws of the environment”; not only physics, but experience with “unseen” demands of survival within the body.
“Social time” is learned: implanted in children by extreme repetition of attention to “clock time” – rigid family and school schedules that expand the typical 3-second attention interval way over the limit of what is reasonable. The wonderful world of sensory curiosity that is “childhood” is chopped to pieces, both by clocks and by words; by categories, demands and mysterious “rules”. The entrancing content of reality (sunlight, dirt, water, animals, plants, sounds and smells – touch and taste, the details of our “being” enter visual-sensory memory as “streaming” knowledge. Time behaves like a fluid if the child is allowed to experience the environment directly, and to “see” the actuality of “the world” as integrated and whole. This is not tolerable to control-driven, steeply hierarchical, groups.
Children who persist in living within this “fluid” dimension of time, simply because it’s “what the brain-nervous system does naturally” and cannot, in many cases, tolerate being “dragged kicking and screaming” into social time – which is engineered by rigid “social brains” that desire obedience above all from human behavior. Asperger children are declared to be a “menace” and are packed off to be diagnosed and stigmatized as abnormal and developmentally defective. Non-medical psychological diagnosis such as “Asperger’s” are social; it’s all about “law and order” convenience for adults, a regime which requires regulation of behavior by “social time”.
How dare a child happily and successfully “create” his or her “self-identity” outside of the identity provided by social indoctrination? Society’s enforcers must rip out that racing engine of a brain provided by evolution and replace it with a control device, as if it’s “normal” for a human child to be a remote-controlled car or a drone.
Every Homo sapiens infant that is born belongs to “humanity”. No proof or permission is needed to be a member of one’s species.
And yet, the social order, which is composed of and by the often hereditary and wealth-based classes, denies this fact. The “power people” withhold “membership” to entire groups and individuals, often for a lifetime or even for “eternity”. The majority of humans are arranged according to the purposes of authority; “membership” in Homo sapiens is “granted” by levels of status, from “not worthy to be called human” through levels of “partial membership” as determined by reward and punishment for conformity to behavior dictated by a social system. How “unnatural” this system is, can be seen in the system itself: brute force, coercion, psychological abuse, Draconian punishments are applied, laws and regulations proliferate without end – still- most human behavior flows on, over, under and around the dams, walls and infinite obstacles created to control Homo sapiens.
The conversion of “time the experience” in a child’s mind to a rigid structure defined by the past (guilt, failure) and the future (rejection, failure/ distant trivial reward) must be imposed by constant interruption of his or her behavior, and delivery of the message that “internal motivation” is invalid and forbidden. All motivation must be external: What does Ms. X want me to do? How will Dad react? Will he punish me if I “screw up” again? Psychologists call this “attention to being correct” Executive Function. But who is the Executive?
This “habit thing” is very confusing: children are encouraged to establish habits such as when to brush your teeth, when to go to bed, when to do homework and chores. The entire school day is rigidly structured and enforced (even recess has vanished.) Asperger children are chided for establishing their own preferences, but how would a mother react if told that she ought not to spend 45 minutes applying her make up before going to work, but instead provide a nutritious breakfast for her child? How would Dad feel if watching football on Monday night was banned because it had become a habit, and habits are bad? Again this social thing comes down to who is important and who isn’t – behavior is judged on the status and power of the person who dictates the terms.
Children spend years bouncing back and forth between contradictory demands from adults, when what children need is coherent instruction on becoming adults who can decide for themselves what is appropriate “moral, ethical and productive behavior” as an extension of basic and necessary social rules: Do not kill another person, etc. The”lessons” children get are destructive; in the U.S. the goal of “becoming a functioning adult” requires disobedience to the neotenic “perpetual child” demands of a consumer “gimme, gimme, gimme” economy. The American ideal is to avoid adulthood and the expense of self-expression and the fulfilment of species destiny. Neoteny does not spare a human being the “cost” of living, but it does rob the individual of much of what being alive offers.
As an Asperger, I would assert that habits don’t restrict my activities, they free up a lot of time and energy for meaningful activities. As far as imagination goes, is pointedly brushing your teeth each day, with a different type of toothbrush and “novelty” toothpaste creative? Neither are most of the activities labeled “creative” in American culture. American culture is no more “creative” than a remake of a 1970s sit com.
If one is intuitive (time is “now”) making plans is possible, but following through on those plans is close to impossible, and inadvisable in my opinion. Intuition will guide what I do and often leave plans in the dust. Intuition is unconscious, automatic, and requires much less energy than conscious magic-word thinking, imposed by a social scheme that tells people to “obey” or “we” won’t grant you membership in Homo sapiens, the “The Club”.
Some activities require plans, of course, like traveling, but once I get two or three steps into “a travel plan” I feel as if I’m dragging an anchor. I’ve “wandered around” a great deal and know that the best experiences are often serendipitous occurrences that cannot be predicted.
I finally settled in Wyoming, where “now” is the common experience of time. “Clock time” seems a bit strange and even preposterous, given the domination of human effort by the land and climate. The fluid string of “3-second attention” events is nature’s solution for human harmony with geologic and biologic processes. My life isn’t a “someday” event; it’s today. “Being present” is a commitment to existence.
I’m already here; no plans needed.