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Surprise

Just getting started on David Eagleman’s book ” The Runaway Species”, and was interested to see how modern Neuroscience is often scientifically validating older philosophy.

This particular reference to the need for “surprise” in our lives. Firstly, Davide Eagleman –

“So there’s something appealing (and useful) about predictability. But if our brains are going to all this effort to make the world predictable, that begs the question: if we love predictability so much, why don’t we, for example, just replace our televisions with machines that emit a rhythmic beep twenty-four hours a day, predictably?

The answer is that there’s a problem with a lack of surprise.

The better we understand something, the less effort we put into thinking about it. Familiarity breeds indifference. Repetition suppression sets in and our attention wanes. This is why marriage needs to be constantly rekindled.

This is why you’ll only laugh so many times at the same joke. This is why – no matter how much you enjoyed watching the World Series – you aren’t going to be satisfied watching that same game over and over. Although predictability is reassuring, the brain strives to incorporate new facts into its model of the world.”

And 50 years ago from our Friend Alan Watts –

“So then, let’s suppose that you were able every night to dream any dream you wanted to dream, and that you could, for example, have the power within one night to dream 75 years of time, or any length of time you wanted to have.

And you would, naturally, as you began on this adventure of dreams, you would fulfill all your wishes. You would have every kind of pleasure you could conceive.

And after several nights of 75 years of total pleasure each you would say “Well that was pretty great. But now let’s have a surprise, let’s have a dream which isn’t under control, where something is gonna happen to me that I don’t know what it’s gonna be.

And you would dig that and would come out of that and you would say “Wow that was a close shave, wasn’t it?”. Then you would get more and more adventurous and you would make further- and further-out gambles what you would dream.

And finally, you would dream where you are now. You would dream the dream of living the life that you are actually living today.”

G.

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