Tag Archive | Deconstruction/Integration

The Art of Perception 13

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the essence of the Art of Perception?”

Attention and Meaning. 

By Attention I mean two processes: Directing Attention and Pattern-Recognition. These are two fundamental operations of the human mind.

By Meaning I mean three processes: Decoding Meaning (which is essentially a kind of pattern-recognition), Encoding Meaning (imbuing things with meaning), and Creating Meaning (Sense-Making).

Attention and Meaning form the heart of Perception. Together they create your subjective reality. The Art of Perception is the art of optimizing Attention and Meaning to shape your subjective reality.

The Art of Perception is the Art of Reality Design.”

Deconstructing Presence

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What does it mean to be present?”

“It’s useful to ask the opposite question: (Inversion)

What does it mean to not be present?”

“Does it mean to not be in the present – that is, to be in the past or the future?”

“Being in the past or the future actually means thinking about the past or the future. 

It is possible to not be present while thinking about the present, or about things that are atemporal – ideas, for instance.”

“Does this mean thinking is the main obstacle to presence?”

“Let us think what thinking does. It makes you lose touch with your sensory experience, thus miss information coming from your senses.

Metaphorically, thinking takes up mental bandwidth; the more it takes up, the less is left for awareness.”

“Then, does not being present mean to be unaware of your sensory experience?”

“Clearly, you’re not present if you’re not aware of any information from your senses.

What if you’re aware of some sensory information? For instance, you’re aware of a sound in the environment, but unaware of your physical sensations. So you’re aware of audio information but not kinesthetic information. Are you present in this case?”

“I’m thinking some sensory information is more important. In our case, kinesthetic information is more important than audio information because it provides internal feedback. Kinesthetic information builds self-knowledge.”

“So does not being present mean being unaware of your kinesthetic sensory experience?”

“What if you’re narrowly aware of your kinesthetic sensory experience but unaware of you environment?”

“Reminds me of Michael Ashcroft’s idea of collapsed awareness. Maybe being present means expanded awareness – being aware of both your kinesthetic sensory experience and your environment.

“Something to consider.”

Antifragility as skill

Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better. (Nassim Taleb)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“If we think of antifragility as a skill, what are its subskills?”

“A tentative list looks like this:

Recovery – the capacity to recover balance in the moment and gain access to your inner resources. Recovery is the most important subskill. It’s an enabler – it allows the other skills to function. 

Perception – the capacity to optimally direct attention and to find the empowering meaning in anything.

Learning – the capacity to optimally learn from shocks. It’s a matter of mindset and method.

Creativity – the capacity to spot creative possibilities and turn shocks into creative inspiration.

Preparedness – the capacity to always be prepared for shocks so that they never take you by surprise.

Adaptability – the capacity to use obstacles as stepping-stones, to improvise and constantly readjust to your surroundings.”

Counting Metaphors

Always look out for the use of adjectives in a press piece.

Adjectives are almost never objective. They reflect the personal opinion and attitude of the writer. Count the ‘adjective score’ to see how reliable that source may be. Facts can stand for themselves but adjectives cannot.

(Edward de Bono)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“One of my favorite pastimes is what I call meaning analysis.”

“What is it?”

“I take a random text and start deconstructing its meaning. I identify mental models, metaphors, mental operations, abstractions and ambiguities, cognitive distortions, biases, fallacies, assumptions, etc.

I love Edward de Bono’s idea of counting adjectives. I’ve extended it to metaphors as well.”

“The adjective score reveals the reliability of the source. What does the ‘metaphor score’ represent?”

“Often, someone’s level of confusion.”

The Fundamentals of Thinking

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What are the fundamentals of Thinking?”

“Thinking the right thoughts at the right moment.

Thinking new thoughts – making and breaking thought-patterns.

Non-Thinking – disengaging the mind.”


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What does QM stand for?”

“In the realm of Movement, QM stands for Quadrupedal Movement. This is a staple of Parkour training.

Balancing QM

In the realm of Thinking, QM stands for Questions & Models. Or, I should say, Questioning & Modelling.”

“What’s the difference?”

“By Questioning I mean
the art of asking questions, and
the art of thinking in questions (Questions Thinking).

By Modelling I mean
the art of deconstructing excellence (NLP), and
the art of thinking in models (Models Thinking).

As you know, I want to master Thinking, to become a ‘Super Thinker’. Part of the process is discovering what that means.”

“What do you mean by Thinking? I’m guessing you’re not referring to thinking what you ate for lunch, or where you left your pencil.”

“By Thinking I mean Creative Thinking

To Think is to create.

The output of Thinking is creating value.”

“What about understanding?”

“Understanding is also a creative process. You’re creating new connections between discrete pieces of information, thus generating emergent value.”

“Maybe you should call it Creative Thinking then, to make it clearer.”

“You’re right.

An essential aspect of learning is deconstructing what you’re trying to learn and identifying the fundamentals.

What are the fundamentals of Creative Thinking?

This is an open macro-question, a work in progress, something that I’ll be exploring in the coming years through my readings and reflections.”

“Do you see Questions and Models as two of the fundamentals of Creative Thinking?”


We can metaphorically think of them as tools.

What does a tool fundamentally do? Maybe you can perform the operation without the tool. The tool however multiplies the output – it’s a multiplier

A tool gives you leverage

The better the tool and the better you are at using the tool, the more leverage you have.

Questions and Models are the most powerful tools of the mind I’ve discovered so far.”

On Thinking and Systems 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I become a better thinker?”

“Let’s think of thinking as a system.

What is the essential highest-order output of the system for you?”

“Creative output.”

“To become a better thinker you need to become better at generating creative output.

The quality of the output depends on the quality of the input.

To optimize the output, you need to optimize the input.

What are the main subcomponents of this system?”

“I’m thinking they’re three in number:

– The information system
– The querying system (conscious process)
– The retrieval system (subconscious process)”

“You’re using a database metaphoric model.”

“I guess I am.”

“The retrieval system works the same for all of us. We all have the same potential. That’s a constant.

The information and querying systems are variable. These two systems are what differentiates the better thinker from the rest.

So better thinking depends on two things:

– Information quality
– Querying quality

We can metaphorically think of information as the materials for thinking, and of querying as the manufacturing of creative thought.

Quality information is what we call knowledge. By that I mean content quality and organization quality.” 

“What do you mean by organization?”

“Organization is a measure of how interconnected the information is, and how it’s structured. For instance mental models are a beautiful means of structuring information, which makes it more retrievable and usable.”

“Does quality querying mean asking the right questions? 

“Ultimately, thinking is a dance between the conscious and the subconscious.

Besides asking the right questions, querying means creating optimal conditions for the subconscious to do its magic.”

On Movement: The Unit of Practice

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the fundamental unit of the Movement practice?”

I think not in terms of exercises, but movement-patterns.

Movement-patterns are modular-elements [<link; medium length] which form the basic building-blocks of Movement. 

Take the burpee for instance. 

The burpee, in essence, is a compound movement-pattern combining two basic movement-patterns: a push-up, and a vertical jump. By identifying the structural components, you can turn it into a template [<link; medium]:

Burpee Pattern = Push-Up + x

You can combine the push-up pattern with any other movement-pattern. This opens up creative possibilities.

And we can take this further:

2-Move Pattern = x + y

You can combine any movement-pattern with any other movement-pattern. This opens up a universe of possibilities.

The essence of the 2-move pattern is not in the movement-patterns themselves, but in the transition between them. We might even call the 2-move pattern, the transition-pattern

2-Move Pattern = Transition-Pattern

As you start learning a movement-pattern, the unit of practice is the exercise-pattern.

Exercise-Pattern = x + x

The focus is on doing quality repetitions (reps) of the same movement-pattern until you internalize it.

Once you’ve built a vocabulary of movement-patterns, the unit of practice becomes the transition-pattern.

Transition-Pattern = x + y

The focus is on doing quality transitional-reps. The essential quality of transitional-reps is fluidity.”

“What movement-patterns do you focus on.”

“I use Variety [<link; medium], Utility and Fun as my guides.”

On Attention and Focus

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I improve the quality of my experiences?”

The quality of your experience is the quality of your Attention. This makes attention management one of the most important life-skills.”

“What is the difference between Attention and Focus?”

“Focus is a functional-model for Attention. It is useful because it reveals some important properties of Attention.

Attention properties:

Each property has a corresponding skill. In isolating them, you can focus on and train them individually.

Attention sub-skills:
Deep-Focus (Depth)
Selective-Focus (Direction)
Wide-Focus (Width)

Deep-Focus is the capacity to maintain Attention on one thing (One-pointed Attention). This is what you’re essentially training with Meditation.

Selective-Focus is the capacity to choose the optimal direction for Attention in any given moment.

We have a tendency to collapse Attention to a point. Wide-Focus is the capacity to expand Attention to the entire field of experience.”

“What is the optimal direction for Attention?”

“I’ve identified five dimensions (so far):

Focus on what you can control (not on what you can’t).
Focus on what you have (not on what you don’t).
Focus on the process (not the outcome).
Focus on the solution (not the problem).
Focus on the positive (not the negative).

You can think of them as a moment-to-moment checklist.

What are you focusing on now?

Selective-Focus checklist:
Control / Not control
Have / Not have
Process / Outcome
Solution / Problem
Positive / Negative”

“Why are you emphasizing the opposite in each case?”

“This makes it easier to invert [<link; medium length] them.”

Deconstructing Meaning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“There was a period in my life – in college – when I was learning words from the dictionary. I was memorizing words. I didn’t really understand them. I was merely explaining words using other words.”

Remembering things from the past is a beautiful opportunity to celebrate how far you’ve come.

“I know. But I keep forgetting it. Thank you for reminding me. 

I have come a long way since then. Now Understanding is one of the guiding values of my life.”

“When did that come about?”

“The moment I started to understand what it means. 

I told you last time about my love of language and meaning [<link; medium length]. Every aspect of our model of reality has a history.

At some point – late in my life, almost 10 years ago – I asked myself a question that profoundly changed me:

What is understanding?
What does it mean to understand?

I later called the seemingly paradoxical process of understanding understanding meta-understanding

That question has stayed with me since, and will probably remain an open process [<link; medium] forever. Guided by that question, I’ve been continually refining my model of understanding, with some wonderful practical benefits.

In contrast to that episode from the past, now one of my favorite pastimes is deconstructing meaning.

Take the concept of ‘werewolf’ for instance. 

Werewolf is a system of meaning. Visually it looks something like this:

The ‘werewolf’ system of meaning

Implicit to the concept is the model of conditional transformation – which is essentially an algorithm

IF the moon is full THEN transform into a wolf-monster

You can think of the elements of a system of meaning as building-blocks. The ‘universe of meaning’ is a collection of all the building-blocks we collectively have access to for constructing meaning.

What we call ‘imagination’ is the process of combining building-blocks of meaning in novel ways. Imagination is limited by the available building-blocks, and one’s capacity to restructure (that is, break and create) patterns – what Edward de Bono called lateral thinking.

I’ve come to regard lateral thinking as one of the most important skills one can have.”