Attention as the Universal Currency

For anything to be said to exist, it must persist in space and endure in time.  A resource is something that re-sources something else; it sources that thing again.  There are no static entities; all that go on are repeatedly re-sourced.

Resources are not limited to things like air, water and food.  Babies who are provided with these essentials but not with love and motherly attention fail to thrive.

Other things, like quanta, atomic nuclei, electrons, molecules, etc., need no oxygen, water, or nutrients as resources.  Instead their particular existence requires interaction with something else in the shared spatio-temporal environment.

Says Heinz Pagels, President of the New York Academy of Sciences,  in his book, The Cosmic Code:

There is no meaning to the objective existence of an electron at some point in space…independent of actual observation.  The electron seems to spring into existence as a real object only when we observe it!

The observation of (read: interaction with) quantum particles is what provides the particle’s existence, and repeated observation/interaction is what prevents the quantum’s decay, so says the esteemed journal, Nature 405, 546-550 (1 June 2000) A. G. Kofman & G. Kurizki:

The decay of any unstable quantum state can be inhibited by sufficiently frequent measurements.

Everything needs attention for survival, from the quantum scale to the human scale.  Attention is a fundamental resource; it is the primary resource of quantum particles, of which all reality is composed.

And, truly, what do we all want but to be SEEN for who we really are?

Reality is Singled-Out by the Observer

A particular entity, or Particularity, must be singled-out from its prior potentiality, which is in a mingled-in state comprising two or more eigenvalues (‘eigen’ means inherent; eigenvalues include values of position, momentum, spin).

By focusing attention on one thing, we single it out; we Pull it forward and define it as a Particularity.  As we focus on that one thing, we withdraw attention from all the other possible things, leaving them mingled in with our subconscious, peripheral awareness.

The one who, or that which, has the capacity to single-out something, actualizing it from its state of mingled-in potentiality, is called, in terms of Quadernity, the INformable (the potential Observer/Creator).  This is not to say that Quadernity’s INformable must be a person or anything else with a consciousness similar to the waking human mind; it is to say that an interaction occurs between something already measurable/physical and something that remains immeasurable/metaphysical.

The INformable is itself already actualized.  Anything already singled-out has an inside-space that holds its parts together, a boundary that mediates input and output, and an outside space, or emanating field, which repels unwanted input.  Only input for which there is a receptor at the boundary is welcomed/Pulled into the inside space.  The INformable reacts to, is altered by, or registers a change in its own position, momentum, inertia, density, etc., due to proximal mingled-in potentialities.

The actualized INformable has the capacity (an unrealized potential in itself) to realize something by paying focused attention to that which otherwise would remain as a mere potential.  In the process of Creation, the one who pays attention can then be acknowledged as the Creator (causal Subject) and the one who receives attention can then be recognized as the Created (Object effected).

The interaction is between these diametrically opposed relata: one relatum is actually quantized already (though the INformable is potentially the Observer/Creator) and the other is still in potentiality (even though the INformative has an actual value, an eigenvalue).  The latter effectively disturbs the former by revealing its inherent value.  If this INformative value is of interest to, or resonates with, the INformable, the two will become entangled.  The relationship of the entangled pair now has a collective inside-space that holds them together, a boundary that mediates between their inputs and outputs, and an outside-space that automatically repels impertinent influences.

Being entangled in a relationship allows, through feedback, for persistent oscillation between potentiality/actuality.  This oscillation is the BECOMING of the actualized Particularity.  Nothing actualized is a static or permanent BEING.  What appears as actualized is something that is Observed with regularity.

An Observer and an Observed are locked in a feedback system as long as they ‘pay’ attention to each other.  Attention is an attunement that produces a tension, which in turn, holds the dual process of INformation and OUTformation together.  Matter makes Patterns visible.  Patterns make Matter meaningful.

Sustained attention enables the Observed Particularity to maintain an eigenstate.  This is its ground state, beneath which it would forfeit its objective Particularity and mingle-in once again with additional eigenvalues.

Observation can be instigated either by one committed Creator/Observer (as the Zero Point Field is for the electro-magnetic field), or by multiple Observers (as capitalists are to stock values).

To focus attention on one thing is to withdraw attention from all else.  To encounter one thing is to discount everything else.  Elevating something to the status of Particularity relegates the periphery to a blurry background.

When we “pay” attention, we are giving prominence and persistence to the recipient, whether an entity, person, condition or idea.  We become its asset, its source of sustainability.

We have heard the saying, “That which we resist persists.”  To resist something we must give it attention (a resource), and anything to which we “pay” attention grows; even if our “payment” of attention depletes our own attentional reserves.

Unfinished Business Saps Attention

When we start projects without finishing them, when we involve ourselves in debates where neither side definitively wins and when we ask ourselves unanswerable questions, attentional reserves are allocated to continue working in the background of our consciousness until the opened files become closed cases.  Until an accepted project, or an “I should…” or an “I ought to…”, gets completed, for as long as our reserves are stuck looping around without accomplishing the task to which they were assigned, our creative and motive capacities are diminished.

The most creative minds are often possessed by people who suffer from procrastination and depression.  They see what can be done, but they have lost the means and motive ability needed to get it done.

Have you ever felt a bit loopy?  I know I have.  Have you heard of computers getting stuck in a loop?  Well, our ‘loopiness’ is similar.  When computers get stuck in a loop they need to be rebooted.  When our attentional resources have gone loopy, how do we reboot our minds?

Organize all uncompleted projects into bite-sized, actionable tasks that can be assigned to a date on the calendar.  Start with the quickest, simplest, and easiest tasks and quickly get them done.  Finishing a task, or checking something off of our To Do List causes our energy to rise.  We may even feel euphoric as the energy that had been stuck in a futile loop is converted back into a viable resource.

Freeing the reserves that were long-ago dedicated to unfinished business is like opening a window on a mild spring day to freshen the house after a bleak winter.  Once freed, the energy potential becomes available for more productive purposes.  Use that energy to do the tasks with the next higher tier of difficulty.

Please refer to the chapter, Overcoming the Otherwise, for help in organizing yourself around what matters most to you.

Our Bodies May Solicit Our Attention

Healthy people attend the signals sent by their body as it requests help with homeostasis.  If action by the collective organism is warranted, symptoms from the nether regions of the subconscious emerge in the form of urges, cravings, intuitions, pains or diseases.  Whereas our bodies prompt us to eat, drink, breathe and rest, some of us are more careful than others when it comes to heeding these triggers.

Many of us are bathed in fields of intense radiation, artificial light and nonsensical noises for hours of every day.  Because these are relatively new risks for us humans, we have not yet developed sufficient sensory triggers to warn of their dangers.  Our toxic overload may not concern us until a critical point has been reached; however, by then it may be quite difficult to reverse the cumulative damage.

To insure (or regain) our health, we must consciously select or reject that to which we are routinely exposed.  This includes the panoply of temptations afforded the privileged among us.  Three examples, along with their alternatives are listed below:

  • Our tongue tempts us to eat for taste, and our fatigue tempts us to consume carbs.  We would be better served by eating nutrient rich, lower calorie foods.
  • We are tempted to medicate symptoms for immediate, albeit temporary, relief.  In the long run, however, seeking and correcting the imbalance causing the symptoms is more cost-effective.  The elimination of future inconveniences and recurrent bouts of pain, plus the avoidance of a chronic degenerative condition, puts a positive slant on the overall health trajectory.
  • We are tempted to veg-out with mind-numbing television; instead, de-stressing with meditation, creative activities or random acts of loving kindness would lift us up and shake off our doldrums.

We must ask ourselves at every turn if a particular investment of attention (like tending to cravings or feeding addictions) will give us a healthy return, or will it merely pacify us temporarily while compounding our deficits?  If we do not take the reigns consciously and intentionally our attention will roam haphazardly.

Can We Afford to Pay Attention?

As an adult human being, we are often taken for a well-spring, from which attention can be drawn at any time by anyone.  Does attention flow from us without end, or should we be minding the gateway?

We may donate our attention to those in need, to those we love, and to those we admire, etc.  It is built into mammals of all ages to give ample attention to pregnant mothers, gentle care to little children and assistance to anyone in dire straits.  The phenomenon of “rubber-necking” is not just due to a morbid curiosity of highway accidents; it is an expression of our tendency to donate attentional resources to those who might be hurt or endangered.  This tendency also explains why news of horrific tragedies sells (one end of the spectrum) and why people risk their lives to save strangers (the other end of the spectrum).

Moment-to-moment, our attention is:

  • urgently demanded by bodily needs, symptoms of distress, emotional triggers, threatening situations (deadlines, responsibilities);
  • overtly solicited by opportunities for sex/love/affection, requests from those who depend on us for attention/love, for community/social involvement, to do chores and fulfill commitments;
  • covertly hijacked by advertisers, propaganda, politics, unsolved mysteries, unresolved debates, guilt, disappointments, unfinished business/projects.

We routinely sell our attention for hours per day so we can earn a paycheck.  We agree to suspend paying attention to our own interests for 8-10 hours or more per day, and instead, during those hours, pay all of our attention only to the needs and interests of our employer.  This, of course, produces a severe net loss of attentional resources by the end of each work day.  The stress builds as the week progresses.  Stress is the antithesis of a resource.  The reduction of attentional reserves puts a siphon on other reserves.  Reduction in immunity, resilience, vitality are only a few of the consequences.  A two-day weekend is filled with other obligations.  With hardly a recovery, the draining of resources resumes on Monday.  (It is not like this in all countries.)

The amount of attention required FROM us is often greater than the amount of attention given TO us.  We sustain a net loss whenever we give our attention to someone/something that is meaningless/irrelevant to us.  If what we get costs us more to assimilate than it is worth, our attentional reserves are drained.

Such losses lead to a general imbalance that causes symptoms ranging from lethargy/apathy to distraction/inability-to-focus to agitation/overwhelm, which may then lead to generalized dysfunction and despair.  This disorder has been dubbed Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD for short.  ADD might be masked, but certainly not solved by stimulant drugs!

Paying attention to irrelevant information is a huge stressor, since all efforts to process the information, to compress it into a concise meaning, are wasted.  If the lessons to which students are forced to give their attention are not made relevant to them and their current interests, the children suffer losses of attentional reserves, and many become chronically depressed.

Unfortunately, youngsters are not given the luxury to question the demands on their attention.  They are forced, by threat of punishment, humiliation, and being drugged, to give their attention where adults direct it, whether or not it seems relative/beneficial to them.  Children taking psychoactive drugs for ADD/ADHD and depression can have side-effects including suicide and aggressive behavior.

When parents sustain attentional losses daily at work and their children sustain net losses daily at school, what could be expected when they all get together at home in the evening?  Each one needs the others to give them attention but none can afford to pay attention in return.  They all have the same need — the same deficit — which causes tensions to escalate on the home front.  Family units are breaking down under the inordinate pressure.

People suffering from a deficiency of attentional reserves have a tendency to mistakenly assume they cannot afford to “pay” attention to anything new.  They worry that processing novel INput carries the risk of systemic reorientation or identity crisis, and they are afraid to take the risk of yet another net loss.  Such people prefer familiar input that requires little or no conscious effort to assess (mundane activities, tv shows) and will resist anything that is novel and/or needs intentional, intellectual or emotional consideration.

ADD is not an Add-erall deficiency!  To recover from the pandemic called ADD, we must recognize the importance of managing our attention portfolio and learn to give our attention to only that which has sufficient payoffs.  Improved family relations, for example, has big payoffs, whereas mindlessly vegging out in front of the tv has little or no payoff.

Managing Our Attention Portfolio for Big Payoffs

Attention is a universal currency.  Each of us manages our own attention portfolio, even if we are doing so unconsciously.   Sometimes we will invest profitably, but just as often, or more often, we will expend attention on concepts that cost more for us to assimilate than they are worth.

Giving attention primarily to whatever maintains our comfort zone or relieves our overwrought mind will hold us hostage to life’s variable conditions and its endless stream of challenges.  In general, it is risky business to give our attention to either secure a desirable future or to remember the past.  Return on our investment is break-even at best.

As with all resources, attention is quantized.  We take it, and give it, in bites.  Data is processed, bit-by-bit.

Having received a stimulus, the Observer‘s boundaries close down while making meaning of that stimulation.  It is determined in His Transition (between Pulling/Spinning INput and Pushing/Spanning OUTput) whether He* should:

  • continue tasting from the same stream,
  • open receptors to something else, or
  • be warned of danger and close off boundaries in recoil.

*The Observer is the Male aspect of an E/S, not an actual male person.  When we Observe/Create we are, ourselves, acting as the Subjective Male aspect of Consciousness.  Our Corporeal embodiment is the Observed/Created, the Objective OUTput of the Female Subject, the Creatable-INformer.

Losses are cut and increases abound when we begin to ask ourselves at every turn, “Can I afford to ‘pay’ attention to this?”

A net gain of resources is pleasant; it makes us feel open and happy.  Moreover, our increased reserves improve our physical and mental health, elevate our energy levels and enhance our chances for longevity.

Profitable investments of attention produce relevant knowledge and a reinforcement of self-identity.  When the wise “pay” attention, they do so to gain clarity and expand opportunities to serve the greater good.  Virtuous investments of attention improve overall circumstances and cultivate happiness, creativity and fulfillment of purpose.