Disengaging the auto-pilot

Have you ever tried to show someone how to play a video game you especially like and when asked how you do certain things in the game, you can’t answer at first? Did you have to actually do it and look down at the controller to see what you’re doing in order to answer? How about stumbling to explain how to cook the dish you most often cook? When asked for directions, are you incapable of giving street names or to draw a map? Well there’s a great deal of things which just become automatic for us, sometimes to such a degree we become oblivious to either how we do it or even that we are doing anything. For instance, how much attention do you give to the process of breathing?

I’ve recently begun teaching at a university, and I’ve been given students who mostly have no experience with the subject matter. As a professional in the field of 3D modeling and animation, there’s a great deal of what I do that’s become automatic for me, things which I give little to no thought to anymore. There’s also a great deal more which I just assume is self evident, or perhaps examples of some Jungian collective unconscious which require no explanation. Faced with having to instruct raw students in the basics of my field, I’m quickly learning how untrue all of that is.

If you ever do stop to think about the process of your breathing, it seems strange. Also, when you become conscious of it and try to take control of it, it may become labored or simply off in some way until eventually something steals your attention to the point where you forget about it again and it returns to auto-pilot. I find that there’s a great deal of things we do in a given day, and a lot of it being done simultaneously. The only way that’s possible is for much of it to be handled by some sort of mental auto-pilot. It’s a tremendous capability of our brains to do this, allowing for an increased potential for our activity, but sometimes that capability can be detrimental.

I find myself struggling a great deal having to teach raw students. I think I’d probably fair much better with intermediate to advanced ones because I’m much more aware of the things involved in fine tuning work then on the mundane, rudimentary things involved in its creation. It’s almost like having to relearn how to breath. I think that for most of us, there’s a great deal of what we do which we’ve simply forgotten precisely how we do it or in some cases, are completely oblivious to doing it like breathing. It’s here where ideas such as intuition, gut feelings, psychic abilities and the like come from. Furthermore, I think this is also where the idea of dualism comes from.

pilot

The lack of full self awareness leads to false ideas, just as any lack of evidence can lead to false conclusions. I feel that the answers for such things as intuition lie under the hood of our brains where our multi-limbed auto-pilot is hard at work piloting countless, simultaneous activities which we’ve become oblivious to. In our oblivion, when the results come to us, they seem as if they’ve arrived magically, through special psychic abilities or perhaps supernatural entities zapping answers to our brains, perhaps in response to a prayer said to them.

It’s certainly not a bad thing that our brains are the way they are, allowing for us to multitask, but unfortunately that boon has potential for busts, like false beliefs about the supernatural or even in my case, trying to teach beginning students. This is perhaps yet another example of the wisdom of the inscription that was at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and echoed often in Greek tragedies and philosophy, which is know thyself.

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21 Responses to “Disengaging the auto-pilot”

  1. Yeah PhillyChief, 3d animations is radicool. I took a course in mathematical animations with Maple software, all kinds of neat stuff you can do with 3d, or 2d animations in linear algebra. I actually designed a coin flip program whereby you can specify a height, radius, amount of flips, and angle in the XY plane for the coinflip (also, the shape of the coin being flipped could be modified too), all by using matrices and multivariable vectors. Actually could have gone further and randomized the variables so it resembles a truely random coin flip. I've been impressed by 3d animations ever since, and if I still had the Maple program I'm sure I'd still be animating things.

    Of course, I've forgotten much of the complicated coding instructions by now, but if I got the program I probably could relearn the steps pretty quickly. However, I have actually been looking into getting Solidworks instead, it seems like something with more practical applications.

    What 3d animations program are you using?

  2. Some other things I did with the software was epicycloids, making toruses and mobius strips, collapsing and re-expanding cones and pyramids into planes while they're translating around, making helixes, all manner of 3D surfaces, gradient vector fields, 3d contour lines, stuff in 2d polar, 3d cylindrical, and 3d spherical coordinants…..yeah, I love that kind of stuff.

  3. No, you're on the far left brain nerd scale of 3d. I'm on the far right brain side. Programming? Puh-lease! Blech!

    Maya is the software of choice in the department. I have other preferences for specific tasks. For instance, I prefer Modo for modeling, and that's another level of frustration because Modo is WAY better for modeling, but I'm stuck using Maya for everything, including modeling, which is probably it's weakest area. I'm working on changing things. I should have at least a couple of my own courses added to the curriculum in a couple of years, and having the responsibility of teaching all the young-uns, I'll have a huge affect on shaping the program by implanting in them MY WAY of doing things.

    Zarathustra has left his cave to speak to the young, to divert them from the path of the last men and onto the path of the higher men, the overmen.

  4. Well, I've got a lot of respect for what you do PhillyChief. 3D art is the zenith of animations, there is a lot of future in that.

  5. I've got a question for you….do you see copyright laws as a way of stifling creativity? If so, do you see a day coming when copyright laws/patent protection will be abolished?

  6. Certainly not, and there are evil corporations afoot working hard to rob artists' of their rights to their own work. The most dangerous of those efforts is the Orphan Works bill.

    If I, as an individual artist, lack the means of securing the rights to my work due to prohibitive costs, then I will be forced to work for a corporation which can, thus potentially stifling my creativity. Now if the laws are done away with altogether, then we're all fucked, for there would be no incentive whatsoever for anyone to create anything of value other than as some new agey, hippy altruistic gift to the world, and who the fuck would do that? We artists have to eat you know, and have shelter and clothes and so forth, so we'd be reduced to merely hobbyists, working in whatever spare time we'd have outside of our fucking real job's time demands.

    You never have actual artists screaming for reductions of copyright laws for they have the goods and the means to create more goods. It's the fuckers who have nothing or have little or no means to create work on their own who cry for no copyright laws, because they want permission to steal and exploit.

  7. I don't know what to say then. What you may consider to be stealing and exploiting, somebody else may consider to be their own creativity. What about people who want to play with and manipulate Donald Duck or Bugs Bunny with their 3d software? Are they evil for being copy artists, do they deserve to be beat down by Walt Disney for using their material?

  8. If they had their own creativity, then why would they need to use Donald Duck or Bugs Bunny?

  9. Doesn't stuff like this constitute creativity?

  10. Satire is a different animal

  11. Primus – The Devil Went Down To Georgia

  12. And they had to get permission (and probably pay a fee and/or royalties) for covering the song.

  13. Yeah, I guess you're right about that. Anyhow, there are a lot of sub-par 3d animations in the world. Judging by that alien flying saucer pilot, you've got some talent compared to what most people are doing. So, have you ever animated any TV shows or scenes for anything?

  14. Oh, wait a second….lol, that says Jim Henson company on it, lol.

  15. The pilot is from an old SciFi show called Farscape and they relied on a mix of cg and puppets, like back when Star Wars was good.

    I've mostly worked in ads, educational and legal stuff. Basically, visually explaining shit.

  16. If you ever do stop to think about the process of your breathing, it seems strange.

    This is a challenge in learning to sing, play a wind instrument or swim decently. I realized long ago that the reason I was not a very good piano teacher precisely because all the basic stuff had become second-nature to me – I had a hard time breaking down the techniques and explaining them.

  17. Good piece of writing, there, Chief. Controlled breathing works wonders. I like to reject auto-pilot by taking different routes around the city.

    I find myself struggling a great deal having to teach raw students.

    I imagine you would. No offense, but if blogging is any sound indication of your real-world persona, you have the patience of tweeker at the end of a nine-day meth binge. I could see it now: "Teacher, how do you do X again?"

    "You douchery douchey douche douche douche douchebag! I've already explained a thousand times! You made me say it!" ;)

    Word on the cool job and I say stick with the raw students. Lots of times they can teach experts, because experts are prone to thinking they already know everything.

  18. I'm very fortunate to have intelligent, industrious and in most cases very talented students. They're receptive to new ideas, eager to test and evaluate them for applicable value, participate well in discussions and in general don't engage in any behavior whose only purpose would be to undermine the class. Fellow faculty and other staff are also rational, intelligent, jovial, witty and intense. In other words, I'm not surrounded by douchebags, which is such a fantastic departure from interactions online that it makes me less inclined to come back to this environment.

    The internet is a cesspool of douchebags who either take great delight in shitting on others or are so fucking delusional that they actually think they're intelligent, knowledgeable, rational, and contribute worthy content when in fact they're simply clueless douchebags.

    Yup, once you get a taste of the good life, it's hard to come back.

  19. They're receptive to new ideas, eager to test and evaluate them for applicable value, participate well in discussions and in general don't engage in any behavior whose only purpose would be to undermine the class.

    Oh, so you mean they're not rigid materialist-dogmatists who wave away anything which doesn't resonate with their pre-conceived worldviews, and they don't resort to cussing and name-calling when they can't get their point across?? You're right; sounds like it is pretty good over there, ChiefyBoy.

    In other words, I'm not surrounded by douchebags, which is such a fantastic departure from interactions online that it makes me less inclined to come back to this environment.

    I know, Evo and SI and those guys can be pretty tiring at times…

    The internet is a cesspool of douchebags who either take great delight in shitting on others or are so fucking delusional that they actually think they're intelligent, knowledgeable, rational, and contribute worthy content when in fact they're simply clueless douchebags.

    Sounds bitter.

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