Douglas Hofstadter – Metamagical Themas (1985)

And Lou McIntosh, who works at a rehabilitation center for formerly schizophrenic patients, had a question connecting personal identity with self-referential sentences: “If I were you, who would be reading this sentence?” She then added, “That’s what I get for working with schizophrenics.” This brings me to Peter M. Bringham, M.D., who in his work ran across a severe case of literary schizophrenia: “You have, of course, just begun reading the sentence that you have just finished reading.” It’s one of my favorites.


Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

Today’s AI and cognitive science are still a long ways from explicating the mystery of what a human mind is and does, and this, in my opinion, is just fine. I would hate to think that our minds are so simple as to yield up all their secrets in but a few decades. On the other hand, we are making slow and steady progress, and that too is just fine by me. I would hate to think that our minds are so simple as to be constitutionally incapable of piercing the shroud of fog surrounding what it is that they themselves do.


John Dewey — Art as Experience (1934)

Refusal to acknowledge the boundaries set by convention is the source of frequent denunciations of objects of art as immoral. But one of the functions of art is precisely to sap the moralistic timidity that causes the mind to shy away from some materials and refuse to admit them into the clear and purifying light of perceptive consciousness.


Carl Sagan – Broca’s Brain (1979)

Some decades ago the English mathematician A. M. Turing described what would be necessary for him to believe in machine intelligence. The condition was simply that he could be in teletype communication with a machine and be unable to tell that it was not a human being. … No device of this sophistication has yet been built, although I am not sure how many humans would pass Turing’s human test.


Ansel Adams – Examples (1983)

I am interested in why I see certain events in the world about me that others do not see, while they respond to different events. On the day that this photograph was made there were several other photographers nearby, some very good ones who were then far more technically advanced than I. The scene was before us all, but no one else responded with creative interest. Cedric Wright, close friend, violinist, and photographer from Berkeley, observed what I was doing and, half in jest, set his camera up in my location. I saw his print later; he did not have a lens of appropriate focal length and he overexposed his negative. On seeing my print he exclaimed, “Jeez! Why didn’t I see that!” I have seen some of his prints that have evoked the same comment from myself.

Umberto Eco – Foucault’s Pendulum (1988)

This is better than real memory, because real memory, at the cost of much effort, learns to remember but not to forget. … There is no discipline of forgetting; we are at the mercy of random natural processes, like stroke and amnesia, and such self-interventions as drugs, alcohol, or suicide.

Abu, however, can perform on himself precise local suicides, temporary amnesias, painless aphasias.