Tag Archives: stories

On Cognition

A conversation plays out something like this

(Recollection may vary given time, gin):

“You know, walking down this trail, I’m always worried about being trampled by a horse”

[A wide, unbroken trail carves out straight ahead in a forest of tress with no leaves]

“Really? I mean, okay, it’s just… It’s a straight path, you can see any horse, anything, coming.”

“Not if they come from behind me”


[Naked trees reach upwards, leaves clutter the ground]

“You could probably hear them, though, if they came from behind”

“I might be distracted. Horses are very quick”

“That’s true. What if you looked around every now and again? There’s no cover here, won’t be for a long time.”

“If I start checking behind myself, I’ll feel paranoid”

[We’re no longer in a bare forest with full visibility, this is something else]
“Because… if you look backwards, you’re acknowledging there might be something there?”
“Yeah, and as long as I don’t do that, I can repress the feeling”
“So by not looking, you don’t feel paranoid about the horses?”
“But you started this conversation with the horses, so, I – Aren’t you already feeling afraid?”
“Yes. But as long as I don’t look, I can pretend I don’t feel that way”
“But you already feel that way, you’re just not… acknowledging it”
“Maybe. This works for me”
[Silence. The forest is full of phantom horses]

Mental models. I guess they work, sort of.