Friday January 26, 2018

A bearded face smiles amiably, energy crackling ’round its head. Hear it as it discourses, only to the length necessary, of dimensions unfathomable to heads that lack pools of reflection tucked into the interiors of their fortresses of solitude. I find most contemporary theories of consciousness, particularly those of the neuroscience sort, deeply disappointing. Far too reductive, and deflationary in their aspirations. Scholars of mind ought to be proponents of mind, in the vanguard among proponents of joy and of weird sensations. I have to say: in his role as character in the psychedelic drama, Hamilton Morris troubles me, worries me. I much prefer the truthful attentiveness to subjective experience that informs the work of an older era’s thinkers like Julian Jaynes. The modern mind consists of an internal narrative longing for direction from a higher power. Despite his many errors, Jaynes was at least conscious enough to strike notes of wonder in its presence. “The intellectual life of man,” he wrote, “his culture and history and religion and science, is different from anything else we know of in the universe. That is fact. It is as if all life evolved to a certain point, and then in ourselves turned at a right angle and simply exploded in a different direction” (The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, p. 9). Let us know ourselves, in other words, as eaters of forbidden fruit containing alien DNA.

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