Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Two Olive Trees and the Yin-Yang Brain: How My Understanding of the Cortex Evolved Over the Years (Part 2)

The Two Olive Trees

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote that the occult books of Revelation and Zechariah are metaphorical descriptions of the human brain and consciousness. Below, I describe how my interpretation of the metaphor of the two olive trees in the fourth chapter of Zechariah's book evolved over the years to reveal a surprising and powerful secret about the brain's sequence memory.

Left and Right Hemispheres

Two things came to mind when I first began to think about the metaphor of the two olive trees in chapter 4 of the Book of Zechariah. I immediately understood that a tree symbolized a hierarchy. This was a no-brainer considering that the same metaphor is used in mathematics, computer science and elsewhere to symbolise a hierarchical structure. This, to me, meant that the brain's sequence memory was organized like a tree. But why two trees? This, too, seemed easy enough. The brain has two hemispheres which meant that two hierarchies were needed, one for each side of the brain.
Then the angel who was speaking with me returned and roused me, as a man who is awakened from his sleep. He said to me, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it; also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side.” (Zechariah 4:1-3)
I worked with that assumption for years, trying to make sense of it within the context of the rest of Zechariah's vision. I made zero progress. It did not help that there was some confusion among Bible translators with another similar metaphor, the two olive branches in verse 12 of the same chapter. The Book of Revelation also appears to mention the two olive trees (Rev 11:4) but, on further research, it turned out that the original Greek text only says "the two olives", which, given the context, is more accurately translated as "the two olive branches." Nowhere in Revelation is there any mention of two olive trees. One thing I learned early about interpreting Biblical metaphors is that exact wording matters a great deal. An olive branch is not an olive tree and vice versa. I also figured out that the Book of Revelation only dealt with the left hemisphere of the brain which controls the right side of the body. This is symbolized in Revelation 2:1. Zechariah's vision is also concerned with the left hemisphere since the two visions complement each other. I knew something was not right.

Pattern and Sequence Hierarchies

So after several years of making no real progress, I was having serious doubts about my initial interpretation. I then realized that the brain must have one hierarchy for pattern memory and one for sequence memory. For a while, I played with the idea that the two olive trees represented pattern and sequence memories. I wasn't really convinced because I knew that the golden lampstand with the seven lamps was a metaphor for a conscious mechanism that roamed through sequence memory, not pattern memory. Why would it be associated with pattern memory? And why would pattern memory be located either on the left or on the right of the lampstand? It did not add up. Besides, pattern memory was not a single tree or hierarchy but multiple trees. I also discovered that Zechariah used a different kind of tree, the fig tree (Zech 3:10), to symbolize pattern detectors. So I was forced to accept that the olive trees represented sequence memory but having two trees made no sense.

I thought about it everyday for months and even years. The whole thing was like a thorn on my side. I was frustrated to the point of despair. What was even worse is that Zechariah himself wrote that he asked the angel to explain the meaning of the two olive trees but the angel declined to answer.

The Answer to the Riddle

Out of frustration, I decided to change gears and focus on the pressing problem of invariant object recognition. In order to recognize an object, the brain must be able to locate its edges. It does this by finding temporal correlations among incoming sensory spikes. This is why the retina is always moving in micro-saccades even when our gaze is fixated on a single dot. The saccades generate the necessary signals the brain needs to make sense of a visual scene. For example, the vertical edge of an object is detected when the eye moves horizontally either to the left or to the right. One set of photoreceptors fires when the eye moves to the right and a different and complementary set of sensors fires when moving in the other direction.

Then one day, while I was meditating on these things, the answer to the riddle of the two olive trees suddenly hit me like a bolt of lightning. I was so shaken by the force of the realization, I slam dunked a couple of shots of Wild Turkey to calm my nerves. I felt like a fool. How could I have been so blind for so long? I am a hardcore Yin-Yang dualist after all. Damnit, I had no excuse.

The Yin-Yang Brain

I was trying to understand how the brain uses temporal correlations to determine that the edge of an object moving to the right belongs to the same object when it moves to the left. The answer is obvious: there are no temporal correlations between the two. So how can the brain know that an object is the same regardless of its direction of motion? The answer is that everything in the brain comes in complementary pairs: sensors, pattern neurons, sequences, motor effectors, everything. The connection between opposites is not temporal but intrinsic and fundamental. Yin-Yang dualism is a universal principle of reality. There is no escaping it. Without two opposite and complementary hierarchies in sequence memory containing opposite and complementary sequences, we would not be able to recognize objects as they move in various directions.

Note: Needless to say, you will not find this knowledge in the mainstream scientific literature. You read it here first. Nevertheless, what I wrote above is a falsifiable and thus a scientific prediction about the brain. There is no doubt in my mind that it will be corroborated experimentally. I will have more to say about this topic in future articles.


Robert said...

The connection between opposites is not temporal but intrinsic and fundamental. Yin-Yang dualism is a universal principle of reality. There is no escaping it...

Genesis 1:5; 2:9; 3:1-4; Psalm 78; Ezekiel 8:17-18; John 14:6; Revelation 22:13-14

The Book tells us there are two (2) trees planted in the garden. Fundamental concepts are introduced with the inherent notions embedded in the biblical metaphors: One (1) and two (2), as in a tree representing life (monism, if one will) and another signifying good & evil (dualism). Concepts and beliefs generated from this elementary information pertain to perceptions and realizations beyond numeral and number, evolving and pointing to identification of self & other and their ramifications in subjective & objective experience. While dualism appears to rule in a materialistic paradigm, a third (3) party exists -- one that eludes detection within the dualistic mind-matter model. Answering Leibniz' question why is there something rather than nothing hits at the heart of the sublime issue. Yin & yang forces emerge in a way that can beguile consciousness distracted by and immersed in partial truths (that develop into various systems of belief which may or may not hit the mark). Dualism seems fundamental, but is a subset of monism (most likely in a neutral flavor in which matter is what mind does, and mind is what matter does, each mediated by a seemingly mysterious presence whose essence transcends limitations imposed by polarity). Epistemology, ontology, and ethics are useful tools to map, explore, and discover new territories, but the Master has laid it out for us in a manner that is true and trustworthy. Dualism failed in Eden. The final portion of the Book refers to restoration of proper order in creation, one in which the (singular) Tree of Life may be accessed. One leads to two, but for the one to become many, two leads to three, so to speak. Even so, there's no denying we're immersed in cosmic dualism, but the mediator of opposing forces is an ever present plenum, and full of surprises.

Louis Savain said...

Robert, thanks for the comment. Trinity is nonsense, IMO. That's all I will say on the matter for now. I'm preoccupied with other matters.

Robert said...

It's all good, Louis -- good luck, brother.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9