The Brain Explains the Mission and Functions of Head Quarters

The mission here at Head Quarters is to keep the Unit functioning and to prepare a replacement Unit to carry on after the present one becomes inactive.

Different parts of the mission are carried out in Head Quarters’ various departments. Collectively, Head Quarters continuously interprets streams of data that come in from around the Network. It receives detailed data from the hands, mouth, and tongue. Other data about external sounds and light sources arrives from the two pair of audio and visual receivers located adjacent to Head Quarters.  Data is handled routinely in round-the-clock monitoring of the Unit’s internal conditions, including levels of fuel, water, waste build-up, oxygen, and blood flow. Together with Lower Quarters, Head Quarters coordinates the processing of food intake. Head Quarters also tracks the position of the Unit’s appendages at any given time in order to coordinate movement.

Brain functions (AWMG.INFO)

awmg.info

The data is stored in Archives. Frequently retrieved data is easily accessed. Older and background data can be difficult to access clearly if at all.

 

(Unit JD Stillwater has noted the omission of any discussion of sleep in this introduction. He has kindly submitted the following: “Head Quarters is essentially closed for business about a third of the time in order to perform such functions as offline consolidation, re-sorting of Archives, waste removal, and resource replenishment. The Lower Quarters don’t seem to need anywhere near as much downtime.”)

Head Quarters implements certain Conditions—C-States—that bring on mild or intense sensations for the Unit for various length of time. Such Conditions encourage or force behaviors that are considered to support the Unit’s well-being in the short or long run. Such Conditions might involve energy levels, Unit temperature, and internal tension level. They are triggered by changes in the Unit’s surroundings, often by the presence or behavior of other Units.

Examples of common C-States include:

C-Joy, an energized state, short-lived but recurring, often activated by and reinforcing successful interactions with other Units;

C-Sadness, a low-energy condtion in which the Unit tends to withdraw from activity to recover from a setback;

C-Pain, a distressing state in part or all of the Unit that signals injury or dysfunction;

C-Arousal, the set of conditions leading to copulation; and

C-Anger, an energized state in anticipation of physical conflict with hostile Units.

Head Quarters' perspective based on where its detailed data comes from (Wikipedia)

The Unit as experienced by Head Quarters according to the concentrations of sensory and motion nerves. (Wikipedia)

Equally as refined as Head Quarters’ internal monitoring is its tracking of other Units. Some Units have exchanged signals with Head Quarters for a very long time and have full records in its Archives. Other Units are encountered frequently but briefly and are less familiar. And all Units, whether known well or only briefly, singly or as groups, are assessed for their monitoring of this Unit. Assessments in both directions concern whether another Unit seems friendly, trustworthy, indifferent, a possible sexual partner, higher or lower in status. For reasons of safety, other Units are roughly divided between friendly and potentially hostile ones. In general, Head Quarters views the formation and preservation of alliances as a significant contributor to Unit well-being. For this reason, on many occasions, the smile expression and the laughter sound are important signals in such extra-Unit interactions.

Beyond such basic expressions and sounds, Head Quarters is extremely skilled in arranging visual components—lines, shapes, colors—and different sounds to exchange information or even C-States with other Units. The most widely used exchange method is a complex sound code rapidly acquired early in every Unit’s functionality. The code is in almost constant use between Units about items regardless of whether the items are physically present or out of sight or in the past or anticipated in the future. Such topics include strategies for food procurement, the behavior of other Units, and the expressions of various C-States such as C-Anger. The code is so compelling that it often runs silently and compulsively within Head Quarters itself.

As for a visual version of the code, it is being used in the communiqué you are looking at now.

The code includes identification markers for all Units. If a Unit is present and participating in an exchange, such signals as youand we are common. In addition, early in their functionality, each Unit receives a set of two markers, one that indicates its Unit group, the other indicating the Unit itself and its gender. An example is Petersen, the group marker, preceded by Mary, a female member. The Mary Petersen Unit identifies itself as Mary Petersen as well as I and me depending on the situation, and the Mary Petersen Head Quarters continually reviews the Mary Petersen past, the assessments of Mary Petersen by other Units, and the optimal plans and coming schedules for Mary Petersen. Cumulatively, these processes result in the formulation of and the belief in what are known as Mary Petersen’s self and her life.

The multiple and multi-level processes coordinated by Head Quarters are demanding. They entail almost continuous assessment of past events, present circumstances, and future possibilities. It is pleasant, even liberating, to relax those processes for periods of time by narrowing the attention to immediate sensations such as breathing and slowing the frenetic assessment of input. The scope, the depth, of the immediate place and moment is wondrous. Time flows and yet seems to stand still.

After a while, though, such a state seems incomplete. Head Quarters functions primarily as a forward-looking instrument—flexible, multi-capable, in constant adjustment as the present moment changes and changes again. The Unit savors the present yet must persist in time and space as best it can.

That concludes this introduction to Head Quarters.  Questions may be submitted below in the visual code.

Humboldt’s Vision of Nature

Humboldt portrait 1806 Friedrich Georg Weitsch (Wikipedia)

An artist’s imagining of  young Humboldt at work in 1806, by Friedrich Georg Weitsch (Wikipedia)

Our ecological imagination—our sense of nature as a global, interconnected and sacred whole—has roots in many sources. A relatively unfamiliar one is the work of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), a manic, prolific explorer and naturalist of the German Romantic era. Humboldt’s life and work are the subject of an outstanding biography by Andrea Wulf, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World (2015).

Humboldt’s trademark was the web of connections he drew around whatever he observed. Nature, he insisted, could not be grasped in the slices and pieces into which other scientists chopped it but only as a whole. He looked at each specimen, whether a plant or a human institution, in its relation to global patterns of terrain, weather, and behavior. Such a perspective called for not only information but imagination and emotion as well. His works are as full of poetry as they are of data.

His seminal journey during his thirties took him on a five-year exploration of Latin America. Wherever he traveled, he compared. In the Andes, a moss reminded him of a moss in northern Germany. In Mexico he found trees similar to those in Canada. Measuring temperature and altitude as he climbed stormy volcanoes and crawled across frozen ridges in the Andes, he envisioned the plants of the world in vegetation zones consistent around the planet. He published a large diagram of a mountain with labels for plants at their respective altitudes around the world, from mushrooms at the depths to lichens just below the snow line. No one had ever seen a graphic of ecosystems from a global perspective like this.

 

Humboldt (mappingthenation.com)

(mappingthenation.com)

Humboldt was the first to note that cutting down a forest set off a cascade of environmental problems, triggering the loss of topsoil, the rapid runoff of rainwater, the flooding of rivers, the drying up of springs, the decline of agriculture. He observed how the farming of single crops for trade, such as indigo in Peru, ruined the soil ‘like a mine,’ and impoverished the people. “He debated nature, ecological issues, imperial power and politics in relation to each other. He criticized unjust land distribution, monocultures, violence against tribal groups and indigenous work conditions” (105).

During his return from South America, Humboldt stopped by the White House to visit another scholar of agricultural economy, Thomas Jefferson. The two saw eye-to-eye on all subjects except one. Humboldt had seen enough slavery in South America to convince him that it was butchery without justification, economic or otherwise.  For Humboldt, “What is against nature is unjust, bad, and without validity,” and humans, like plants, all come from one root. “’Nature is the domain of liberty,’ Humboldt said, because nature’s balance was created by diversity” (108). Jefferson agreed but never freed all his slaves (106).

Humboldt noted similarities between the mountains of South America and Africa and argued that those continents had been joined in the past, anticipating the modern theory of plate tectonics.

In his later years in Berlin, he gave a series of free public lectures that packed halls with people from all walks of life. Traffic clogged the city on the lecture days. “He talked about poetry and astronomy but also about geology and landscape painting….He roamed from fossils to the northern lights, and from magnetism to flora, fauna, and the migration of the human race” (194). He spoke from notes layered with clippings, bits of book pages, scribbled post-its, illustrations.

humboldt kosmos(eternalexploration.wordpress.com)

From Kosmos, a map of cultures and peoples in South America (eternalexploration.wordpress.com)

He convened gatherings of scientists from across Europe to exchange information and ideas, establishing in effect the modern scientific conference. Fascinated by the earth’s magnetic field, he successfully urged governments to build a network of magnetic stations across the globe, setting a new level of international scientific cooperation.

In consultation with specialists, Humboldt spent his last years writing Kosmos, a multi-volume survey of what was then known about outer space, the climate and geology of earth, the relation among plants, animals, and humans, the history of science, and the perceptions of nature by artists and poets through the ages.

In 1831, the 22-year-old Charles Darwin boarded the Beagle for his own formative voyage and brought with him Humboldt’s seven-volume narrative of the Latin American expedition. Darwin followed Humboldt in seeing nature as a grand ecological system in constant flux and precarious balance. But while Humboldt looked for the integration of nature, Darwin looked for beginnings. On the Origin of Species appeared a few months after Humboldt’s death in 1859.

In her epilogue, Andrea Wulf writes that Humboldt’s name remains unfamiliar to many because, as the last scientist to study his field so broadly, he has been eclipsed by modern specialists famous for singular discoveries and theories. (Darwin is one example.) Yet when I read today about reverence for nature, anxiety about the climate, and the fused destinies of humans and the environment, I hear Humboldt loud and clear.