Strip religion of mythology and the discussion revolves around consciousness, awareness and identity.  Darwin was sensitive to his theory being received in a context that it would be used to support or deny the existence of god.  Darwin himself struggled with how exactly he understood god. After150 years, discussions of evolution often still focus on the battle between the theory of natural selection and Judeo-Christian myths.

The particular kind of consciousness that a normal human experiences and displays is what I’ve been calling split consciousness.  This understanding is premised on primary process consciousness–the one time, one place, no opposites consciousness of infants, animals, dream, the unconscious and the autistic–being what we evolved from and still retain while sleeping, while small or while in hypnotic trance.

I’ve hypothesized that the transition from primary process consciousness to split consciousness was compelled by runaway sexual selection focused on dance, which eventually resulted in a unique brain structure exhibiting two hemispheres of unequal size and a smaller corpus callosum.  This process was perhaps encouraged by a bridging of language from gesture to speech, enhancing an ability to represent a thing with a sound instead of a sign and motion.  Nevertheless, at this point we identify with a condition described as self aware.  Strangely, maybe because of all the stories that accompany religion, we haven’t paid all that much attention to the differences between primary process and split consciousness, at least in the context of evolution.  What I mean is that we are directly connected to all that preceded us in the way we experience the world.  We can choose to notice.

Evolutionary biology is described as a science, but as regards human evolution, it is far more than just science; it is also art.  It is art in that how we experience consciousness informs how we understand evolution.  The differences between prehuman consciousness and human consciousness are integral to how we understand evolution.

Most humans indulge exclusively in experiencing the world as a split consciousness being, evaluating the world based upon the dissociative constructs developed by an ability to be two places at once, two times at once, and to intuit something’s opposite.  A net result is we spend relatively little time allied with primary process or with that synthesis of the two forms of consciousness that has had a kazillion names, but which we’ll call epiphany.

In the context of understanding evolution, indulging in the experience of split consciousness, one of three choices of consciousness that we are aware of, we make it very difficult to understand what exactly happened when we humans evolved.  Perhaps most obvious is that as humans, we intuit that every separate individual animal, insect and plant exhibits individual consciousness with individual motivation and individual agendas.  We intuit that because that is how we humans experience the world.  I suspect that if we encouraged in ourselves and one another an ability to identify with both primary process and epiphany states (epiphany states being states that exhibit both primary process and split consciousness), we’d be far less likely to conclude that all life reflects this peculiarly human split perspective.

One might hypothesize that an individual’s genome is but part of the skeleton of a structure, each person’s genome but a single bone in a massive skeleton that covers the world with a trillion-bone being.  All that nongenome flesh, blood, weather, rocks and water are playing the bones of the skeleton like some mad timpanist beating into existence a music that has little to do with individuality and everything to do with alternative consciousness.

The more I study evolution, the more I feel like I’m exploring consciousness.  Alternative consciousness feels necessary to understand evolution.  I guess that’s why as an artist I feel qualified to theorize.  Shifting identity is where an artist feels at home.


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This entry was posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2010 at 9:05 am and is filed under 10-Unconscious, Art, Myth/Story, Society, Unconscious. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
1 Comment so far

  1. zach on December 22, 2010 3:56 pm

    your brilliance is in your humility, i think. i found this site looking for alternative ways to understand evolutionary theory and frankly i’m impressed. i’ll be reading from this site regularly for sure.

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