Friday, June 22, 2007

The Subconscious Muse?

Cormac: and it may be that the subconscious is really a committee uh and they may have meetings and say what do you think we should tell him should we tell him that no he’s not ready for that well lets it’s a way of putting things but it’s very uh you know sometimes the sense of the sense of the subcon the sense of the subconscious and its role in your life is just something you can’t ignore

Oprah: No you can’t.

Cormac: In science a lot of times a lot of times the people work on problems and just hit a wall and can’t solve them and they’ll be solved in dreams the most famous one is Kekule’s Benzene ring he was doze he was he couldn’t figure out what benzene looked like he couldn’t figure out the shape of the molecules and he fell asleep in front of his fire and he dreamt of the hoop snake Ouroboros the snake with its tail in its mouth and when he woke up he realized oh it’s a ring

Oprah: That was in his dream

Cormac: Yeah

Oprah: in the dreams the subconscious…

Cormac: But that raises the question as to why you know if if your subconscious has solved this proble and is ready to tell you why wouldn’t it just say “hey Kekule it’s a ring”

Oprah: A ring yeah, why wouldn’t it do it that way

Cormac: We don’t know, but it may it may have to do

Oprah: it’s that brain thing again

Cormac: it may have to do you know with the subconscious being older than language and maybe it’s more comfortable creating little dramas and telling you things but it has to understand language

Oprah: I love that thought

Cormac: Yeah

Oprah: I love the thought of that the subconscious being older than language I hadn’t thought of it that way before

Cormac: Yeah

Oprah: Yeah

Cormac: So maybe you know language is pretty we have a linguistic program here at SFI um and um you know we meet occasionally and have linguists from all over the world a lot of them are from Russia um but you know language is language is probably no more than about 70,000 years old well compared to the three or four million years that we’ve been here that’s very recent um but it understands language because it understands the problems that you’re working on and when you’re sleeping it will work on them for you

Oprah: and that’s why the rings came when he went to sleep

Cormac: yeah

Oprah: Yeah

Cormac: and sometimes you see sometimes it will be it will be quite specific there’s there was some years ago um a math mathematician at MIT and he um he was working on a problem that was really very important to him it was a major problem and he just …could not get he and he absolutely had hit a wall and his friends were worried about him…his wife was worried about him

Oprah: uh hm

Cormac: he was very depressed and then one night he went to sleep and he dreamt he was having dinner with John Nash

Oprah: With John Nash?

Cormac: Yeah and they everybody knows John Nash because there was a film made about him A Beautiful Mind

Oprah: Uh hm.

Cormac: and so they chatting and …in the course of this conversation he explained the problem to Nash and Nash said hmm I think I see something let me borrow your pencil and he wrote some equations on the napkin and explained what he had done and then they guy woke up and he turned on the lamp and he had his little pad by the table there and he scribbled down the equation and then he scribbled down a couple of notes to himself and went back to sleep …well then the next morning he woke up and the first thing he thought was god what a strange dream I wonder what kind of gibberish I’ve written on my little pad and when he looked on the pad here was this really elegant solution to the problem

Oprah: Whoa

Cormac: So he wrote up the paper and he cited Nash as co-author.


Anonymous said...

Hi Candy,

I saw on that you have the unaired segments of the interview transcribed. Could you email them to me? I have an aunt who would love to see them, but doesn't have a fast enough internet connection to view the videos.

we would really appreciate it.

Dan Gerson

Candy Minx said...

Hi Dan, yeah, no problem...but is that your e-mail address? It doesn't seem complete.


Gardenia said...

Interesting. I've always thought that language was only a small portion of communication.

A Beautiful Mind is one of my favorite movies.

We all have had those times of knowing - most of the time, we ignore it. (And sometimes wish we hadn't!)

We all have times when we have that "snap" where - oh we've been here before. But perhaps we just knew we would be there.

Lots of mysteries to comprehend.

Candy Minx said...

Yes, it's true that we all have these feelings f being somewhere before and John Nash's intuition and sensitivity to peoples body language and actions was also his nemisis. He could read that room by his sensitivities but then went too far and appears paranoid later in the story with the same gift for reading people. (unless he really was a spy and the government tricked him and his wife into believing he was "crazy"?)

Anonymous said...

Hi Candy,

Sorry. My email address is