This is Part 4 of the Babble and Prune sequence. In the previous parts, I described the brain’s thought-generation process as an adversarial learning system between Babble – which generates low-quality content – and Prune – which filters for high-quality content.
My primary motivation for understanding this system is to solve writer’s block. On some days, I achieve a state of flow and write two thousand lucid words in two hours, which somehow coalesce a previously disconnected body of thoughts. On others, I give up after one or two navel-gazing abortions. These irregularities are a sign that my model of Babble and Prune is insufficiently predictive.
Babble and Prune are part of the picture, and a conscious effort of systematically relaxing the lower Gates of Prune has helped me produce more material. However, there’s at least one important point which is entirely missing in this model: the choice of subject matter, the focus of one’s attention towards which Babble and Prune approach.
Today I will fit Babble and Prune into another piece of the puzzle: Circumambulation – walking around the truth, spiraling towards it.
Truth is a process of successive approximation. More precisely: truth is a process of circumambulation. Deep truths are not mere point masses on a line to be approached with binary search or gradient descent. They are sprawling manifolds in high-dimensional space, and to map out such a Titan requires patience, false starts, and approach from many directions.
Circumambulation is the underlying directive of Babble, the process of circling around the holes in your understanding to pin down their shape and fill them in with substance.