Campfire, surf, forest = chaos

Much of the mind is dedicated to pattern matching: cerebral, visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory cortexes and subsystems which load and store and recall patterns. Our life as modern humans rely on these facilities to navigate and work our world.

When you exhaustively tax such systems, you know the feeling, there are a few simple things you can do to recharge your brain-battery. One of those is the application of chaos.

Have you ever wondered why a campfire, a day at the beach, a walk through a forest can be so rejuvenating? I’m coming to believe that by applying chaos to our sensory inputs we overload our pattern matching engines. When this happens, our brains give up and quit trying to find patterns, for a time.

When this happens the transfer of signals between our cortexes and our hippocampus, back and forth, slows and this slowing is soothing to us. We quit trying to cram more patterns from our world through our eyes and ears and fingers (and nose and tongue too, I suppose). When our brain stops trying to decode patterns, because there are none — chaos is by definition patternless — we allow our long term memories to sift and settle. Nothing new is being added or processed so we get to enjoy a little downtime.

And chaotic downtime can help reinvigorate our minds in anticipation of our return to a day or week of intense pattern matching.


[Alexa: Play campfire sounds. Alexa: Play ocean sounds. Alexa: Play forest sounds.]

19 thoughts on “Campfire, surf, forest = chaos

    1. I find that particular visual presentation rather anxiety inducing. I found my brain trying extra hard to find patterns that were just barely there, then gone. That is just the opposite of the the full on chaotic aspect of surf, fire, rain, snow, forest.

      In the post I had tried to make reference to the calming nature of those mentioned environments and extrapolated the reasons why they might be calming. If you load your mind with known patterns, math problems, programming constructs, architecture, cityscapes, rule constructed scenarios, I’m thinking, and the research tends to show, that the brain is induced to try harder to deduce those patterns.

      A day gazing at the surf does just the opposite. I thought to discover why. Chaos seems to be the common factor among those scenes.

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  1. Surrendering to chaos is a choice. As for the mathematicians among you I offer DeBussy. “Works of art make rules. Rules do not make works of art.” As such nature, although predictable in expression, is always variegated in presentation. Babbling brooks babble along. Waves crash against the shore. A fire crackles. Are they not all extemporaneous compositions in their own key, their own format? And what of the words that would take us there? Crackling fire alone conjurs very little. Cracking fire, a barefoot lover, a loose shawl and a soft fall evening’s breeze. Sand, a decent wine and alog to lean on…Now fire and words have conformed to compose a symphony for freeing or taming the chaos. Give the fire or the brook or the waves feet and they will take your brain away with them. Turn them into new age air cheese and there they will remain. Perception has to write a story or it becomes an execrcise bicycle.

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      1. Of course it is. It’s all a story. Whether the sea eat al present you with their chaos or Beethoven improvises, the imagination is always at work spinning a tale from the presentation. There is no calm mind, there is only absence of construct. Peace is in the realization of knowing you belong in and to the moment, and are bound to everything else. The surest way to calm is to listen.

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  2. As usual, I couldn’t agree more with these ideas and insights. Really. I do something called autogenics and the trick, like with a lot of meditation and bio-feed back, is to go blank and stop the internal analysis of every fucking thing. I just wrote something that is sort of in the same vein on tinhats. Also, here is a music mix with the same end results as what you posted, but updated to include all the shit that has happened over the past 10 years or so.
    I’m listening to this right now.

    Also, have you heard of vaporwave? Here is some vaporwave with the necessary graphics…sort of like the fire or waves coming into shore.

    Thanks. Duke “Like” button still down like a crash site in the jungle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Strange, my son loaded this same “lofi hip hop radio – beats to relax/study to” before christmas, while we were cooking/eating together. [Alexa, play lofi hip hop radio…]

      This: >”stop the internal analysis of every fucking thing.”
      I like being able to think deeply. And when I discovered that my faculties were being shortchanged, and then found proof that the process is an actual thing, well, I’d rather be empowered as to what few things I analyzed, as opposed to being thrust into analyzing every little fucking thing. (grin)


      1. Not to put too fine a point on this, but I sent you the wrong link with the Simpson kid. Here is the vaporwave I was trying to send. The whole irony, capitalist, consumer thing interested me, but as one of my younger friends say: “Ah vaporwave, the last sighs of the chemical kids.” FYI, I like all music, if I like it.

        Liked by 2 people

              1. Hi AMole,

                He is something of a god for me. He’s dead now, but when I was a younger man I read all of his books. He is a scientist and a poet and he wrote about the ultimate questions that humans ask. Since there are no absolutes, he provided the next best thing: unique insights into our striving and, perhaps more importantly, the way in which we die. I still carry his marks on my thinking. There was and is no one like Loren Eiesely and I feel very confident that you will consider him a spectacular writer. Thanks. Duke .

                Liked by 1 person

        1. Clip art music through a delay line with what looks like an extended Dos XX commercial is a lot like trying to salvage cottage cheese by scraping the green funk off the top. Or teaching a pig to sing, for that matter!


    1. Well, that’s the question. Are our brains adapted to surrender when chaos reigns over our sense? Or, is there some free-wheeling state which spins so fast that it feels like we’re not identifying patterns?
      But, a day watching the surf is stressful to you? Watching the rain or snow fall? Sitting stoned next to a campfire (“and everybody’s high, high, hiiiiiiigh” — I love John Denver’s music.)


  3. “patterned chaos..” Hmmmm. Then I “should” be able to develop an algorithm to predict the pattern of a flame…and know exactly which direction the next flame from a log will move. If it is a pattern, then it is predictable. I’ll have to calculate wind velocity as well! I’m on it!!!


    1. Not necessarily. Though complexly patterned, it is, for all intents and purposes, purely chaotic to our powers of perception as well as our instruments created through our powers of perception. Mathematics is a language based on pre-existing patterns in nature; pre-existing patterns in nature are not based upon mathematics.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. White noise and the unpredictable dance of a fire are examples of patterned chaos. When experienced in certain mind states (with psychedelics, for instance), the patterns reveal themselves quite clearly, but still without the compulsion to discern them. The discernment just happens, like the perfect shot of the Zen archer.

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