Wednesday, February 06, 2013

the price of metaphor is eternal vigilance...,

organelle | Julian Jaynes gives us an inspiringly provocative model of the phases of the evolution of the inward connectivity we experience as consciousness, and he builds it around the changing spacialization of the inward stage, the place we think, and how it might have evolved over even relatively short amounts of time. Though I will refer to his ideas regularly because they offer convenient and salient models, what I have to offer differs and I hope may deepen the value we may retrieve from his inspiration. His concepts orient themselves around gods, metaphor, consciousness, and unique specializations in each of these domains across time. He proposes a fascinating and enthusiastically crafted speculative ladder of ascent and its histories in his book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. In this work, he exchanges the idea of a long emergence for a model of sudden emergence in relation to crisis — one that was devastating, and unexpected — beginning perhaps 3500 years ago — or ~63 generations ago. Whether or not his timelines are accurate, many of his noticings about the relationship between metaphor and consciouness are sublime. In his models to be bicameral is to be in common or constant contact with a supersentience, and when one refers to gods, angels, or messengers — it is this supersentience which is being referred to.

Jaynes’ central thesis is that consciousness we understand and experience was the result of a variety of radical terrestrial and social upheavals — over a period of several hundred years theoretically located between 1800 to 1300 B.C. These resulted in significant general changes in what it meant to be human, and our experience of consciousness, community, self, and cognition. Prior to these changes, he posits a ’bicameral’ consciousness, where the analog self is still in its formative moments, and is largely ‘ruled’ over by a semi-hallucinatory relationship with gods — personal and public — whose wills are intoned in an inward space that will later become the analog self, and the place of ‘me’. He is positing a ladder of ascension to complex representational consciousness which is emergent from the genesis and elaboration of inward stages or space. As each step on the ladder is achieved, the previous steps are conserved in a position that is now (where it was not before) observable from ‘outside’ — in essence all of this occurs this happens in a single space, the mind.

The gods were, in his theory, biocognitive products of emerging social and neuropsychic responses to larger scales of social connectivity which emanated primarily from synthesis of complexly evolved right-brain cognition in human groups of relatively stable and organized nature. They gods were ‘present’ because they were *heard/experienced as though present nearby, or within oneself. They were apparent in consensus and intimate contact with symbols of authority or sovereignty. Visually hallucinatory communication was less common, at least by the time in question in Jaynes’ work.

*[One interpretation is that this is a matter of the neurological precursor elements of the brain momentarily adopting control of the auditory system in order to re-assemble local authority. To do this, these features would act in concert, and mimetically adopt whatever general shape was equivalent to ‘the penultimate local authority’. This might be a person in a position of mastery, such as a ruler or parent — or it could be a god. It could also be a kind of simulated personage, a conglomerate from various sources.]

Jaynes portrays the connective aspect of the bicameral mind as a psychoemotional communications network which was uniquely implemented across a variety of cultures, while sharing a general and obvious template of organization and function. The connective nature of bicameral voices was a source of unification, identity, authorization, and real communication. People from a given community or place, under the authority of their shared bicamerally experienced god(s) and messengers, could cognitively sense what the relationship of another person, people, animal, or experience was to their god. Thus the local god(s) functioned as much as lexicons as they did as authorities — for it was only in relation to the god-holophore-characters that experience or information could be made sense of at all. I generally agree with his thesis that before we were ourselves, we were like the experiential agents of a god or gods still deeply enmeshed in learning and establishing themselves and their collective sentience potentials. When ripe, these would be exemplified in the human cogniscia of specific locales and societies.

The social networks of the periods in Jaynes’ focus (and perhaps many of our own) were spiral-ring networks organized around a central hub. This hub, in general, led to god, god’s messenger, or the domain of gods. Near the hub, there were often ‘special servants’ of various sorts. Simultaneously, many individuals appear to have had personal gods, or something of a analgous nature, such as the guardian angel metaphor we are still familiar with in the modern moment.


Anonymous said...

Yawn... We have a crisis in Chicago with Obama blowing off the funeral of a young Black girl to appease his white electorate and you post this bullshit

WTF !!