The Serpent

June 20, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Unconscious

It happens that the thing we seek may be so close by, so a part of ourselves, that we cannot see it.  Still, there are other ways to perceive the world.

Among the aboriginal Australians, there are myths of serpent spirits that can vary from a few inches to the length of the Milky Way.  In the latter case, the serpent has grown so large that its relevance may seem to wane, and we forget that we form a part of it and we forget it’s even there.  To be aware of something, it helps if you have to have enough distance from it to identify its boundaries, if boundaries exist.  Still, achieving distance is not the only way of gaining perspective.

Verbal, symbolic language use and exponential brain-size increases are two qualities closely associated with the idiosyncrasy of being human.  Noting how we are different from other species, we see there is controversy when it comes to agreeing on the processes by which these unique characteristics evolved.  It is difficult getting distance when exploring issues of consciousness.  If you are exploring the nature of thought itself, it becomes seemingly impossible to discern the Milky Way-sized serpent from the self; you can’t get a feel for your own boundaries.

Art and science blend when we are studying the origins of humans.  Perhaps the degree that consciousness is split can be measured, but it seems that consciousness itself is not measurable.  We often seem to fool ourselves that by making believe that since consciousness cannot be measured, we can ignore it, and by doing so somehow achieve perspective.  Ignoring consciousness is like ignoring the aboriginal serpent deity that spans the sky in the form of the Milky Way.  We have to make believe that we’re not a member of that group of stars.

Art provides an experience of wholeness, understanding and connection to a larger self.  Science seeks usefulness amongst the patterns.  I often don’t differentiate between the two.  That would make me a poor scientist by most definitions, in addition to the fact that I’m not a member of the peer-review community.  Nevertheless, consciousness fascinates me.  Blurring the edges between art, science and spirituality helps me get a feel for my subject by giving up the idea of my achieving perspective.  At best, I can tell a useful story.  Again, usefulness being my focus, I become unclear on the differences between art and science.

It happens that the thing we seek may be so close by, so a part of ourselves, that we cannot see it.  This is not a problem if you can feel and you can hear.


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