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.

Split Consciousness

December 21, 2009 | 2 Comments

Category: Society, Unconscious

By presupposing that consciousness or our relationship with consciousness is integral to the kind of evolutionary theory we can create, this work seeks to make part of the equation of our theorizing the actual way that we theorize.  Many Neo-Darwinists make direct correlations between their interpretation of Darwin’s theory of natural selection and a materialist, atheistic world view, making it clear that a theory featuring randomness supports a world view with no mythology.  I also make connections between theory and a world view with no mythology, except my understanding of the world is informed by presupposing interconnection.

This interconnection that I presuppose can be described as consciousness or awareness.  I assign consciousness to everything that exhibits life.  I consider it possible that consciousness is a feature of all that exists and does not exist.  I sometimes explore if presupposing this to be the case offers any insight regarding the assigning of biological principles to a cosmic scale.  Significant to this work is the hypothesis that human beings are split conscious beings, and that this split consciousness can be explored in detail.

By assuming that life exhibits consciousness, embracing consciousness as integral to understanding life and evolution, and distinguishing human consciousness as a unique form of consciousness that displays as a twin or two, I break down and describe that which is unique about human evolution.  We are split consciousness beings (after we have grown past infancy, and while we’re awake) that have abandoned primary process (one time, one place, no opposites) to revel in language and imagination.  We live in a world of stacked associations, barely able to experience waking life outside the context of our ability to manufacture experience.  This is a function of our being able to be two places at once, two times at once, and being able to imagine something’s opposite.  This is because we maintain two consciousnesses.  This is directly related to how we evolved and the particular ways our brains were influenced by that evolution.

I offer a hypothesis describing how this came about and the useful implications of this premise.  It is a hypothesis that bridges biology and society and offers interventions for a number of conditions and diseases.  I am both suggesting that what we describe as unique human self awareness is understandable and not so special while at the same time celebrating this particular way that we are unique.  Consciousness is ubiquitous.  Split consciousness is unique.  Nevertheless, for most of us, it feels like it is the other way around.

0265-doug88888-Michelle Jones UK

Two ways of imagining. (CC images: doug88888, Michelle Jones UK)

Understanding Imagination

March 29, 2010 | 2 Comments

Category: Unconscious

If, indeed, there are two different kinds of imagination (primary process and split brain) with two different neurological foundations in the two social structures, then I expect there are ways to evaluate the kinds of imagination a person displays. And, no doubt, once a particular kind of imagination is established in a particular person, exercises could be created to guide him or her into growing his or her ability to use the form of imagination he or she is less familiar with.

Thirty years ago I studied with John Grinder and his colleagues, becoming a licensed practitioner of Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP). We integrated the insights of language theorist Noam Chomsky, hypnotherapist Milton H. Erickson and family therapist Virginia Santir to be able to understand how exactly people exercise imagination. We explored the exact sequence of senses that people used when processing information or using their imaginations. Specifically, we explored when and how internal senses of feeling, hearing and sight were engaged while either remembering or creating content while integrating old with new experiences.

Sixty of us went through the licensing program in a western Chicago suburb in 1981 and 1982. Learning how exactly people processed information, we learned a lot about ourselves. For example, I discovered that I began almost all imagination strategies by talking to myself, with almost no awareness that I was doing so. Almost all internal auditory experience was occurring outside of my conscious awareness. That was valuable information. Over time, as I became aware of how influential my internal dialog was to my emotional and cognitive experience, I learned to accompany that part of me that speaks. A result is that I feel less alone, less split.

Meditation, nonjudgmental self attention, was integral to that process.

Let’s consider the benefits of understanding that there are two different kinds of imagination. Let’s call them primary process and split brain. Are the two kinds of imagination associated with relatively unique cognitive strategies? For example, does a split brain imagination often begin by talking to the self, exercising internal dialog, with created imagery being integral to the result? Would a primary process thinker rely upon something visual that is remembered (as opposed to something visual that is constructed), with feelings inside the body being integral to conclusions that “connect”? I have no idea. But it would be interesting if the two kinds of imaginations were associated with specific strategies. If so, specifically learning the strategies of the other kind of imagination might result in an individual feeling like he or she has more choices in life. A society engaging in teaching children both forms of imagination might experience far less dissonance.

If, indeed, there are two different kinds of imagination with two different neurological foundations, we have a new way of understanding societal splits. Accompanying the understanding of how these splits occur are strategies individuals can use to integrate the splits. This could result in more peaceful societies. This blog’s new way of understanding how humans evolved is central to what we are discussing here.

Understanding imagination, we understand ourselves.


Two different kinds of imagination.


March 26, 2010 | 2 Comments

Category: Art, Autism, Autism Features

A question from a visitor…

“If it’s the split brain, smaller corpus callosum and left hemisphere dominance that make us self-conscious and able to exercise imagination (pretending to be someone else, somewhere else, some other time), then how come imagination is associated with those leaning towards ancestral brain wiring, that is, less split brain and a better integrated right hemisphere?”

Let me start off by saying I’ve wondered about this in connection with two very different kinds of male left-handers that I come in contact with. Then there is the third group of left-handed males, who are autistic. One group is filled with social, talkative, articulate, focused, smart, imaginative males. The second group tends to be easily annoyed, gruff, focused, somewhat obsessed, smart and imaginative. Imagination seems to be closely associated with left-handedness in males. I don’t know why there are two kinds of nonautistic males (if my observations are at all useful). Perhaps one is high in estrogen and the other low, with both low in testosterone.

With females, it’s a bit different. Offering attention to left-handed females over the last ten years, I have noticed a very strong clustering of the classic matrifocal archetype, with many brilliant, commanding, discerning, focused females being left-handed. Creativity seems not necessarily related.

So where am I going with this? Marian Annett discussed the balanced polymorphism that makes up a society in the context of the UK, where she is a practicing neuropsychologist. Those in the center are the right-handed, but not the extremely right-handed. These people, Annett believes, retain a language facility advantage yet avoid physical and mental maladies by not being at the right extreme. The extremely right-handed, she believes, retain several disadvantages with few natural talents. Those at the left end–the left-handed and extremely left-handed–experience a different variety of disadvantages. Yet, Annett noted an astonishing number of extremely talented people appearing at the extreme left end, out there where a number of unique physical and mental conditions plague those people. Those conditions include autism, dyslexia, stuttering, allergies, Asperger’s and perhaps obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder and bi-polar personality disorder.

Side note. Annett discovered that dyslexia actually comes in two forms, a phonetic version mostly retained by lefties and a visual dyslexia that mostly affects extreme right-handers. It is possible that several conditions that are assigned one name actually have two separate etiologies composed of these two very different neurologies. For example, schizophrenia may come in both nonlateralized and highly cerebral-lateralized versions with additional narrow and wide corpus callosum variations. OCD may also come in these two very different variations.

With the current neurodiversity movement and the writing of Dr. Michael Fitzgerald, there is now a focus on a number of historical figures who offered world-changing paradigms and who seemed to feature traits of those with autism. Astonishingly creative imaginations with an ability to tease out interconnected wholes and brains with difficulty integrating the thoughts of other humans seem paradoxically closely related.

I think the answer to the question “How come imagination is associated with those leaning towards ancestral brain wiring, that is, less split brain and a better integrated right hemisphere?” has to do with two very different types of imagination engaged in by the two kinds of brains. The old, less split, more integrated, left-handed, autistic-leaning brain has a more direct access to holistic, interconnected, simultaneous, multilayered understanding, except with less grasp of the relationship between those connections and a self. On the other hand, the right-handed, split-brained person with a smaller corpus callosum, who is a narrative thinker, can far easier imagine what is not, and estimate, step by step, how exactly to manipulate time and space to arrive there.

Whereas the lefty with relative ease grasps what is, the righty can fairly effortlessly make up what is not.

Both exercise imagination. One has less self awareness in the context of a self’s relationship with others, but nevertheless he or she has a relative easier access to the existing, supporting, interconnected infrastructure, in no small part because of there being less distraction from a self. The other, with heightened sensitivity to self and self’s relationship with others, is acutely aware of differing perspectives, able to estimate much that does not exist, often failing to understand what is real.

Some male left-handers seem to travel in both worlds. This results in an almost separate class of individuals with abilities both to integrate and separate. Four of the last five presidents were perhaps these kinds of lefties. I believe part of what society is wrestling with today is some kind of synthesis or integration of the two paradigms leading to these kinds of individuals. We need both an ability to imagine what does not exist and the power to perceive and adjust to what does exist. These two usually separate forms of imagination merge, at the societal level, in the societal balanced polymorphism hypothesized by Annett.

I hypothesize these two imaginations are starting to merge in the neurologies of certain individuals, particularly in the matrifocal/patrifocal hybrid society that is developing. Another way of saying this is that the balanced polymorphism intuited by Annett is shifting leftward, exhibiting a different kind of center. A net result may be a wiser, more grounded, less ambitious, less competitive culture with an ability to integrate into its multiplace, multitime, creation-of-opposites imagination an understanding of how exactly we are interconnected with the world as it really is.

Another Dream

February 1, 2010 | Leave a Comment

Category: Art, Auto-Biography

Last night was another one of those nights where I dreamt evolutionary theory all night long.  It was the same thing over and over.  My dreams were outlining a sequence of processes involving estrogen and testosterone influencing behavior and physical features in progeny.  Estrogen and testosterone were impacting children when those hormone levels changed in parents, influencing the parents’ daily life in numerous ways.

In the dreams, I wasn’t observing the situations as much as I was writing descriptions of the process, pathways of influence.  Occasionally I’d see something from an auto window while the car was moving, as if what I was seeing was an example of what I was seeking to describe.  Getting the text right and the sequences correct seemed the main focus of the dreams.  The main communication seemed to be that humans are heavily impacted by events in their lives.  The environment informs our experience, changing not only ourselves but our children.

This operated at three scales.  I awoke unclear what those scales were, though while dreaming I had understood.

A big issue in the dream was that these things were easily explainable.  A main focus was on communicating the principles in a way that they were easy to understand.

Shortly after I awoke, it struck me that there are three things that I am seeking to communicate in my work.  1) There is the theory itself.  2) There is the power and usefulness of my engaging in the distribution of the theory through the Internet, not academic conventions, making my theory an advocate of the new horizontal, barrier-free milieu.  3) Last, there is my sharing of the process of the theory formation in blog, narrative format, providing a window into how exactly the theory comes together.  In other words, I don’t only seek to share insights or what the theory is that has been formed.  I also seek to offer a transparency that allows a communicating of theory-formation process, providing not just the results of the process, but access to how the process is engaged in.  A theory about human evolution and the origin of human split consciousness usefully offers access to the split consciousness hypothesized to exist.

This, of course, assumes that I am part of a process with a result that is beautiful and/or useful.  I’ve hypothesized many interconnected, hypothetically useful theories or models under the umbrella of this Orchestral Theory of Evolution, all in the context of my being an amateur.  I am a trained artist by profession.  That contextualizes these productions as a work of art.  This relieves me of competing with practitioners of science, which would leave me open to being evaluated by their rules.  Not that my work is much noticed by the practitioners of science.  Nevertheless, as an amateur, I fail the academic requirement that practitioners make no claims without being above reproach.  I frequently posit hypotheses, using intuition and information, and then I run “as if” frames, or I assume those hypotheses are true so that I can explore the implications.  Then, I explore the implications of the implications.  I do this without conducting experiments or running studies.  This is not particularly good science, though there are similarities to abstract physics.

As an artist, I can indulge.  As an artist, I can consider the content of my dreams to be very important.  I believe that there is nothing that I know that wasn’t unconscious first.

The main focus of the dream last night was that what I write should be simple and understandable.  I will continue to pursue that goal.

One of the deeply peculiar things about being human at this particular point in history is our tendency to ally ourselves with split consciousness or self awareness, deeply identifying with an identity at a single level.  We exhibit little desire to shift scales by assigning identity to levels beneath or beyond that of our body.

From a Hegelian point of view, we’ve emerged from a present tense consciousness characterized by no self awareness.  We used to be locked into a single time and single place, with no ability to intuit something’s opposite.  Before language, we lived in primary process.  This is the consciousness of animals, very small children, the unconscious, the severely autistic and hypnotic trance.

Acquiring split consciousness, we obsess on our peculiar station in existence, featuring existential isolation and an ability to view everything as separate.  We not only focus on our own self interest, but we do so in a step-by-step, focused, goal-oriented fashion that often fails to notice the direct, indirect or larger repercussions of our behavior.

That ability to obsess is integral to being human.  I’ve proposed that we sexually selected each other in the context of choosing the best dancers as copulation partners, growing bigger brains because a dance aesthetic requires a massive number of synapses.  In the process, those best at being obsessed made more babies.  A Fisherian runaway sexual selection encourages obsession, with one sex obsessed with display and the other sex obsessed with evaluating display.  Obsession became integral to who we were.

When our minds split and we emerged from primary process, we stayed obsessed.  Instead of obsessing over how exactly to leverage art into procreation opportunities, we instead obsess over how exactly to leverage anything we do, say or imagine into a procreation opportunity.  This obsession is often diverted into profession, hobby, recreation or even relaxation activities, with each of us engaged in behaviors that will draw us positive attention and respect.  At the foundation of these behaviors is our deep desire for physical union.  (See Geoffrey Miller’s Spent.)

So, we evolved in a manner that reinforced obsession, blossoming into self awareness, still obsessed.  The Hegelian synthesis to this primary process thesis, split consciousness antithesis, is an obsessed or deeply focused state of consciousness that provides an experience of primary process and split consciousness both at once.

One of the genuinely peculiar things about being a human is our connection to primary process that features symbol with associations displayed in places like dreams while at the same time we can line up a series of sounds that behave as signs associated with meanings that when displayed in a row over time collect more than one context so that together they compel imagination or an ability to be two or more places and times at once.

We maintain two very different awareness systems.  Primary process, the language of the unconscious, allows us to be in the present, with no multiplace perspective.  Split consciousness allows us perspective, multiple experiences, with little ability to be present.  Being human, we tend to obsess, regardless.

Back to Hegel.  Finding the synthesis requires some facility with both paradigms.  This is, of course, paradoxical insofar as one would think a person is either split or not split, not both at once.  There is a third way.  This involves being split while present to the split.

There are numerous paths that offer specific regimens that address this split.  What we’re doing here is a little different.  We’re defining the problem biologically as part of a hypothetical evolutionary dynamic.  We’re making believe religion or spirituality is biology, that consciousness is an evolutionary condition.

It was Gregory Bateson who described the human condition as an ability to focus on goals in a single-minded fashion, ignoring repercussions while achieving the goals.  What we are discussing here is blending together two separated consciousnesses, allowing the obsessed-with-goal portion of our nature to be embraced by the ancient, obsessed living-in-the-present portion of our nature, providing an ability to move through narrative time while sensitive to the relative nature of identity.

Achieving goals in the context of a larger whole.

Integral to this notion is not taking the split self so seriously.  What might be some techniques, rituals or games useful for learning to accompany our obsessed selves?

We live in a society that believes that it is pragmatic to presuppose that consciousness is contingent upon evolutionary conditions that led to its emergence.  Self awareness occurred by chance.  Academics, of course, embrace the claim that consciousness is unique.  But because it is not measurable and seems connected to humans only, it has been concluded in many sciences that it can be usefully ignored.  The autistic provide an ability to notice.

Over the course of human self examination there have been relatively few that have differentiated between the two most obvious kinds of consciousness that exist.  There is aware and self aware.  There is conscious and self conscious.  There is being present and there is the awareness that you are present.  This is a significant distinction because it can be suggested that the first kind of consciousness, presence, is not just a feature of human consciousness but a feature of that which is alive.  To be present to the fact that you are present seems peculiarly human.  We can call this split consciousness.  This is unique insofar as this ability for a single consciousness to experience a split evidently creates facility with being two places at once, being in two times at once, and having the power to imagine something’s opposite.  To be split creates what we call imagination.

So, we use our imagination to explore this world we live in.  While doing so, we often choose to ignore the ubiquitousness of that which is merely “present.”  Even if split consciousness emerged randomly as a result of contingent circumstance, how is it that the ground from which that split emerged so often goes unexamined?

If feels to me that we live in a social milieu featuring three immediately accessible levels of consciousness.  We are so steeped in these three conditions that we are only vaguely aware that we swim in all three waters at once.  This is somewhat like Freud’s Id, Ego and Superego, but they are separate only insofar as there are words we use to describe experience.  They are all the same.

There is the unconscious, also called primary consciousness.  There is split consciousness, or our being two at once.  There is social consciousness, featuring the wisdom of the crowd, the zeitgeist of our “times.”

Nested hierarchies are a feature of the way that structure builds as differing scales reveal structure at different levels.  Atoms make up molecules that make up cells that make organs.  Nested hierarchies are also how consciousness embeds.  The unconscious makes up the split conscious which makes up the social conscious.  There is an identity ladder that we can purchase at the consciousness hardware store.  You don’t buy just one stair at a time.

My point is that consciousness can be studied.  It exhibits characteristics.  An unconscious behaves differently from a split consciousness, and a split consciousness behaves differently from a social consciousness.

Piaget observed the growth of children closely.  Piaget, a follower of Freud and, like Freud, a believer in fourfold parallelisms, believed in close connections among species evolution, individual ontogeny and societal transformation.  Piaget was particularly interested in consciousness changes as children matured.  Children begin in a state of primary process or one time, one place, no opposites.  There is no split consciousness.  They are only present.  With time, children acquire features of split consciousness, one by one, as their brains reproduce the last several hundred thousand years of our evolution, ontogeny reenacting phylogeny.  All this time each individual is integrating community communications so that individual consciousness and then split consciousness are not just influenced by the larger community, but the individual is part of the larger community consciousness.

Simon Baron-Cohen bridged the work of primatologist Sue Savage-Rumbaugh to humans having difficulty walking the ontogenetic ladder.  Savage-Rumbaugh hypothesized that chimpanzees exhibit an ability to intuit the motivations of other chimpanzees and humans, though there are limits.  Baron-Cohen suggested that the autistic are mind blind, unable to understand that there is an other.  Autism is a condition featuring anomalies in consciousness.  Individuals are experiencing minds that don’t split.  They are locked in primary process.  They seem to be following the evolution of our ancestors to a certain point, up to the time when imagination emerged.

Ontogenetically paused, the autistic are also in species limbo, living in a society with far fewer features.  An autistic person lives in the fourfold parallelism in a different location from the one lived in by those with split brains.  He or she climbs a narrower ladder.

Piaget studied children.  Baron-Cohen studies the autistic.  Let’s consider exploring autism as a condition that can make far clearer the features of consciousness as we study in detail those that wrestle in every moment with those things that the split conscious has a difficult time even noticing.

The autistic are our deep-sea divers, our journeyers into the dark.  We need to rediscover how to think like the autistic think.  Then maybe we can understand who and what we are.

I’d been studying Asperger’s and autism in connection to human evolution for maybe ten years before it dawned on me, after reading Michael Fitzgerald’s Autism and Creativity, that Asperger’s was a feature of my childhood.  As I was growing up, people seemed opaque to me.  I was in speech therapy almost all those years.  I had a strange sense of humor.  I was astonishingly gullible.  My closest friend was a boy that I later realized had Asperger’s.  He was also a math genius and a musician.  I was a collector and an artist.

Over time, it grew clearer to me what other people were thinking and feeling, particularly regarding how they were relating to me.  My obsessions grew integrated with my goals.  I became far less split or self conflicted.

The split that I experienced had perhaps less to do with my Asperger’s tendencies than with a childhood characterized by extreme stress.  But, I’m not sure.

People with autism aren’t generally understood to display classic personality splits featuring conflicts with self, self deprecation or a deep feeling of personal responsibility for what is wrong.  That split would suggest a developed theory of mind, with a mind in conflict, assigning responsibility for difficulties to a self that feels separate.  Nevertheless, there are degrees of split depending on where one sits on the autism-Asperger’s spectrum.  I’ve observed those with Asperger’s feeling deeply divided, assigning to self responsibility for a life characterized by distress.

It was often, if not usually, the case that children with Asperger’s were isolated from most social groups and often were targeted with teasing.  I was teased when others discovered that I would believe most anything I was told.  This occasionally would make me a center of attention when a joke could be constructed around my believing whatever had been imagined.  I often felt humiliated, furious and alone.  I would assign blame to myself for my feeling of isolation.  I expect that this is a common experience for those with Asperger’s.

One way I would adjust was to recoil from those that the class shunned, boys with Asperger’s.  I felt like I could blend in with the “normal” side, and mostly I did.  Yet, I often maintained a feeling I’d be “discovered.”

I was terrified of being singled out for torment.  At the same time, I felt powerfully attracted to people on an individual basis or while playing sports.  I spent no small amount of my childhood collecting boys to play baseball and football.  I proactively sought out playmates.  Yet, I only liked groups when we were playing games.  Mostly, I engaged in various collecting hobbies with another boy.  I introduced many friends to new hobbies such as collecting stamps, coins, rocks, miscellaneous stuff and comics.  I was obsessed with comics.  This was the 1950s and 1960s.

The idea I’m trying to tease out right now is that autism theory suggests that neurodiverse individuals maintain an experience characterized by the “other” as often absent or inscrutable.  Yet, as children, experience is often characterized by uniquely high degrees of stress in social situations because those with autism and Asperger’s are often singled out as different and worthy of receiving negative attention.  This tends to engender self reflection as possible sources for the distress, and malaise is explored and evaluated.  I’ve observed in myself and folks with Asperger’s a tendency to assign to the self blame for being “different” and blame of self for the experience of ongoing distress.  In other words, in some ways Asperger’s individuals have a heightened theory of mind as they experience a deeply personal divide.  They may not be able to easily intuit what is happening in others, but they often engage in a struggle characterized by two sides, and they take both sides in the conflict.

I say such an individual is able to take both sides in the conflict because the person evidently participates in both the placating and blaming polarity in the struggle, identifying with both sides, taking turns.

This begs a question.  Perhaps theory of mind is not an ability to experience both sides of a polarity but an ability to have that experience, to some degree, simultaneously.  Do neurotypicals have an ability to experience simultaneous identification with another while being with self, while the neurodiverse, even while in relationship with self, are only able to identify with one at one time?

Clearly, the neurotypicals are often just as split within themselves as any person with Asperger’s.  A question is:  Do neurotypicals have some brain-structure advantage when it comes to identifying simultaneously with both aspects of the split?

I am suggesting that theory of mind is not just an estimation of what goes on within another person.  It is also an ability to identify with what is going on within the self.

Light moves at a speed of 186,000 miles per second.  Speed as a concept is also integral to biology.  I hypothesize that the speed with which information passes between the two cerebral hemispheres impacts consciousness, behavior and personality.  And, whereas the basic unit of speed in physics is the kilometer or mile, in biology that unit is a generation.  Though maybe not.

Bernard Crespi has written a paper, Psychosis and Autism as Diametrical Disorders of the Social Brain, which focuses on several neurological features as influential in the etiology of particular diseases and conditions.  Corpus callosum size (the corpus callosum is the primary brain bridge between the two cerebral hemispheres) and anomalous dominance (differing cerebral hemisphere sizes) are two of those features, aspects of cerebral lateralization.  I would consider that corpus callosum size not only influences the ease and speed of information transfer, but that corpus callosum size influences the experience of self awareness or split consciousness.

There are correlations between degrees of cerebral lateralization, how much the two cerebral hemispheres vary, and conditions characterized by maturational delay (autism, Asperger’s, stuttering).  Degrees of handedness are influenced by this variable.  Other diseases and conditions are associated with right cerebral hemispheres not pruned by early childhood testosterone surges, leaving a larger overall brain with two hemispheres the same size.  Ally these features with changes in corpus callosum sizes (and corpus callosums can vary in size in several ways depending on which of several zones are varying), and I would suggest you have a template for estimating degrees of self awareness (split consciousness), behavior, specific diseases, various conditions and personality structure.

My point in this piece is that in the context of two cerebral hemispheres with varying sizes, corpus callosum sizes are influential in the speed of information transfer, and information transfer between the cerebral hemispheres is integral to our experience of self awareness.  The more inhibited information transfer, the more self aware we become.  I mean self aware in the context of split consciousness or a person struggling with himself or herself.  There is a spectrum featuring at one side a non-self-aware, primary-process person with an experience characterized by not being able to be two places at once, two times at once, nor being able to imagine something’s opposite.  This is animal consciousness, the kind of consciousness we experience while dreaming.  This is the consciousness of small children.  This is the consciousness of the autistic.

At the other side of the spectrum are those humans with an experience characterized by a split.  These individuals are two people.  The unconscious feels like a different person.  The world often seems very black and white.  Imagination is often exercised as different times and places, and things’ opposites are juggled and compared, and conclusions are drawn.

The split, modern consciousness is encouraged by a small corpus callosum size with an inhibition of hemispheric communication, along with a right cerebral hemisphere reduced in size.  Light moves at 186,000 miles per second.  The speed of information transfer between cerebral hemispheres varies depending on the structure of the bridge.  The smaller the bridge, the more inclined that individual is to experience himself or herself as split, self aware, surrounded by a community of ideas.  That is my hypothesis.

Whereas the speed with which information passes between the hemispheres influences the emergence of a separate self, there is a second level of information transfer that deeply influences physiology, personality and behavior.  This is the passing of information between generations.  That this seems slow may be a result of our focusing on an individual as the primary unit in evolution.  Assuming that evolution unfolds as part of a process characterized by environmental influences on those that are genetically predisposed to modify ontogeny in response to those environmental influences, then we might consider that examining evolution from any specific level of experience, including the individual, makes little sense.

In just the way that information passes back and forth between the cerebral hemispheres, informing the whole person, a person whose experience may be characterized by a split, information passes back and forth between individuals within the larger community, influencing individual ontogeny, compelling different physical features and behaviors.

In other words, though it looks like the unit of change in evolution is a generation, that generation adjustment may come as a result of an almost infinite number of pieces of information transferring throughout the larger community, a community not unlike a massive brain with countless hemispheres.

The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second.  The speed of nature information transfer might be measurable, but we don’t know even a fraction of all those variables that influence ontogeny.  One question to consider is this:  If in a human a split brain can lead to the emergence of self awareness, even if that awareness is characterized by no small amount of anguish, confusion and isolation, then might this multiple-brain, massive-information transfer characterized by nature suggest self awareness?  And, consider that humans are part of that production.

Theory and Play

August 24, 2009 | 1 Comment

Category: Art, Biology, Myth/Story, Play, Unconscious

Evolutionary theory has been encouraged to grow in the direction of what society believes about itself.  When we in the West were committed to the mythology of the Judeo-Christian ethic, we concluded that life emerged as a direct result of transcendent intervention in a prescribed time period.  Darwin was heavily influenced by contemporary forces that included the belief that humans could observe patterns, draw conclusions and make predictions without the influence of a universal god.  Drawing upon Linnaeus, Paley, Malthus, Smith and Lyell, Darwin created a theory of evolution that seemed to integrate both a reverence for the subject and respect for enlightenment and intellectual independence.  In choosing among Darwin’s three theories, society embraced the theory of natural selection, which directly reflected a material, stratified, industrializing West.

A new paradigm is emerging.  Instead of “survival of the fittest,” we see a drifting in the direction of “transcendence of the interconnected.”  Cooperative communities are becoming recognized as integral to understanding how individuals and collections of individuals evolve.  For many evolutionary theorists, the environment is now a variable that influences the kind of progeny that are produced.  We need not be products of random variation any longer.

Still unexplored as a variable in evolution is a feature of existence considered inappropriate for study.  As we assimilate the power of the concepts of interdependence and environmental influence on biological transformation, that aspect of experience will likely emerge as a variable to be treated with respect.  Right now that aspect of experience is associated with mythology and religion.  The variable with potential to deepen our understanding of how biology, societies and individuals transform is awareness.

Modern science mostly has concluded that because awareness is not measurable, it should be ignored.  Though perceptible by an individual, consciousness is usually assigned to that basket of features of human beings that arose due to contingent circumstance.  Consciousness, along with other human characteristics, was useful, so it appeared.

Consider the possible benefits of a theory of evolution that integrates awareness or consciousness as a characteristic of existence that has structure and features and changes over time.

I have found it useful, when theorizing, to presuppose that consciousness has always existed.  This is not about storytelling and assigning mythological motifs.  The issue is whether the presupposition is useful.  Does it provide any leverage to form explanations that offer an ability to predict the future or make connections between formerly unrelated concepts?  In other words, does presupposing universal awareness usefully deepen our understanding of our world or ourselves?

Regarding evolution, I believe that assuming that awareness or consciousness exists as a ground or foundation beneath biological evolution offers theorizing benefits.

Assuming that consciousness is embedded in biology, I look for subtlety, complexity, elegance and uniqueness as features of the overriding system.  Consciousness is characterized, from a human perspective, by a conversation between creativity and appreciation, yang and yin, proliferation and nuance, rate and timing.  By presupposing that consciousness exists, we look for interconnection, intuiting relationship, assuming a tendency to balance.  Instead of looking for hierarchy, we look for nested hierarchy (each level embracing the one below) with hierarchy violating interconnections.  If there are barriers to be broken, we search for evidence of breaches.  Anomalies are not just suggestions of broken models but are themselves evidence of a thriving system.  Integral to understanding how things work is how they play.  Novelty is a desired outcome.

Unlike our traditional, transcendent god with a desire to intervene, this is an immanent force with a compulsion to play.  This may be a force totally without certain features of human awareness characterized by split consciousness, which we might describe as the ability to be two places at once, two times at once, with an imagination capable of intuiting an opposite.  Prehuman biological awareness may feature what Freud called primary process:  one time, one place, no negatives.  This may not be creative consciousness as humans understand creative consciousness but something far simpler, yet unfathomably more powerful.

How does this apply to evolution?

What if the consciousness featured by our great ape cousins and early hominids is a form of consciousness equivalent to an individual’s manifestation of the overall general awareness, similar to sleep?  Then, brains split.  The two cerebral hemispheres grew to communicate poorly with each other, with one hemisphere having developed something wholly unique, an ability to assign gestural communication to speech.  With the split, a separation characterized by one cerebral hemisphere growing smaller than the other and the brain bridge corpus callosum accepting less traffic, each human became two humans.  This provided an ability to exercise personal imagination, featuring a knack to be two places at once, two times at once and an ability to imagine something and its opposite.  At night, when dreaming, we return to primary consciousness, great ape consciousness, when we can only be in a single place or time, unable to imagine another place or time without actually being there, along with an inability to imagine something not being.

This is a story.  The question is:  Can useful stories or theories be derived from a shift in presuppositions?  By making believe that awareness is not important when theorizing about biological and human evolution, we constrain our results to include only those conclusions that do not support consciousness as an unimportant variable.  Perhaps we should consider the alternative.  The benefits might include our being able to detect patterns in experience not obvious if we believe certain patterns can’t exist.

With the emergence of evolutionary developmental biology as a theorizing framework that offers interdependence and environment as variables important to understanding evolution, we have a bridge concept that clears the way to embracing the idea that interconnection and environment are features of a model that include additional concepts such as consciousness and play.

Perhaps with time, embracing play, we will become like children.  Maybe it is by playing that we can only truly understand.

My laptop is down.  It sits at the left side of my desk.  At the right side of my desk is the older unit I used until three years ago.  That is where I sit until Bob arrives and figures out what’s wrong.  When that’s fixed, I’ll have access to all current projects and I’ll be able to start my day.

Just now, sitting in my chair three feet to the left of its usual location, leaned back in the chair with my head cocked to the side, I was startled into noticing a particularly powerful combination of visual elements outside the window of the office.  The way that the oak tree, banister, stop sign, distant foliage and apartment building across the street arranged themselves was a uniquely powerful congregation of composition, color, contrast and depth.  When I untilted my head, the arrangement was still there, but I’d never noticed it before.  All it took was an unexpected adjustment in my viewing angle from an unusual position behind my desk to recognize beauty that had always been there.

It’s all about the frame.  The window “frames” the world to allow a particular point of view.  A framed painting cues the viewer that there is a communication occurring within a nonarbitrary boundary.  Art is about nonarbitrary boundaries allowing a settling of perception into deliberate perspectives.  Whereas life is rife with attempts to communicate particular points of view, art allows a context where this can occur while the observer is aware that this is the case.  Perhaps artists take themselves too seriously, believing the content of their communication is the point.  For me, what art is about is the awareness that we are aware.  By continually adjusting our perception to different frames, we can become aware of the relativity of experience and perception.

The primary way that humans fashion or frame experience is through language.  We take language very seriously and so often forget it is only a frame, a system that suggests where we put our attention.  The relativity of words are forgotten, their associational properties neglected as we instead embrace the concepts they seek to only represent.  We take words very seriously.  We forget we are practicing art in every moment.

Chomsky hypothesized that language emerged as a selected cluster of grammatical structures that showed evolutionary fitness and survived.  Consider that language, a framing mechanism that seems to somehow accompany split awareness (split because one is aware, and one is aware that one is aware), is a direct reflection of embryonic epigenetic relationships between an ontogenetically growing individual and an environment supplying information regarding particular ways to grow.

There are two shifts in understanding how we grow and evolve that contribute to this alternative way of understanding how language may have emerged.  First, consciousness always existed.  There is the big consciousness that characterizes the whole, and there is the consciousness featured by every individual.  Individual consciousness is not self aware.  Life is not lived in frames.  A dog is not aware of its dogness in the context of a larger world.  The dog is just aware.

When we become aware that we are aware we embrace the frames.  We are choosing our perspectives, our world views.  Our minds are split with a characteristic sensitivity to different time, place and personhood.  We can experience empathy because we can understand a time and place different from the time and place we occupy right now.

The first of the two shifts in understanding is characterized by split consciousness as opposed to consciousness.  Pure consciousness or nonsplit consciousness is where we mostly spent our time perhaps as recently as 50,000 years ago, when in the womb, or when last dreaming.

The second of the two shifts in understanding has to do with a reappraisal of what we think our boundaries are.  Classic evolutionary theory has us slowly adjusting over generations to environmental contingencies that prune those of us with less talent for achieving procreation opportunities.  Consider that as only a fraction of the story.  Arguments among theorists for over a century have revolved around understanding how exactly the features of individuals are generated for an environment that then determines who survives.

Variation is not random.

A place to look to discover nonrandom feature proliferation is in the human womb, where the environment is having a profound effect upon the individuals that emerge.  Consider that language, the way the split consciousnesses have found to communicate with each other, is a direct reflection of the epigenetic conversation between heredity and environment in the womb.  Seeking the structure of language, we need go no further than discovering the particular ways that environment and heredity converse.

Consider that the language of language is deeply similar to how an individual listens and responds to the world while in the womb.  We prolonged the womb experience into the post-birth world, introducing society to our ability to converse.

Split consciousness emerged with humans acting out the role of both heredity and environment, having learned to both speak and listen.  Having carried the womb experience into adulthood, we have brought with us the language of the womb.

In other words, human society with its constant shifting of frames is acting out an ancient womb environment of infinite growth contingencies.  Every looking out a window is a natal balancing of incoming information in preparation for another ontogenetic shift.  Who we are as human adults is deeply informed by our experience in the womb.

It requires a shift in position to view split consciousness as integrally tying together natal epigenetic (womb environment/heredity) conversations and language.  Viewing things in different ways is what being human is all about.

Gregory Bateson in his Steps to an Ecology of Mind discussed a unique feature of the human species that he believed is responsible for our destructive behavior. Humans are able to visualize a future, splitting time, and then focus on the steps necessary to achieve a specific future. In addition, with humans, steps imagined and achieved on the way toward a future don’t have to be examined for their repercussions on other people or other aspects of the environment.

Competitors are encouraged to “stay focused.” Shutting out the world achieves goals. Bateson might suggest that this ability to shut out the world also destroys it.

This blog describes a hypothetical proto society characterized by dance-and-song-driven rituals and a population selecting neotenous features in our species over time. We lived in dreamtime. We communicated by gesture. Both cerebral hemispheres were the same size, the corpus callosum brain bridge was still wide, we did not split time and children did not know who their fathers were. We were random-handed, left and right-handed half the time.

There were changes, changes described in this work. The result was society stopped selecting exclusively for aesthetics and started selecting for those adept at spoken language, splitting time and telling stories. The right cerebral hemisphere grew smaller, the corpus callosum became thinner and dreams retreated to the time we spend asleep. While awake, imagination flourished with an ability to manipulate time. Consciousness was now split with two hemispheres allied but in poor communication. Instead of each individual being unconsciously part of a larger whole, each was now consciously divided.

Thesis and antithesis. The synthesis is what we face today. How does each individual become consciously part of the larger whole?

I am coming to the conclusion that this is not so much a spiritual or religious question as much as it is social and biological. As a species, we are in the process of making the transition to a form of consciousness that features a far higher number of interconnections in space and time than has been the case before the emergence of the social networking technologies. Observing the ways the young are using the new technologies and how they encourage the invention of even newer technologies that enhance the destruction of traditional ideas of space and time, I conclude that we are deep into a social/biological transition.

Our world is becoming characterized by massive interconnection with individuals, each a hub in a universe of incoming and outgoing information. To some degree, this mitigates the destructive capabilities of the split-brain, split-time human. We are each becoming experts in consultation with an increasing capacity to embrace the connotations of repercussion. We are developing an intuition or understanding that our ability to split time can create unintended consequences. Society is technologically and socially addressing the destruction we have wrought. Still, to transcend the dissociative plague that Bateson describes requires more than just technology.

In addition to evolving as a society, our biology is transforming. There has been a return of matrifocal values that include horizontal interconnection and the original matrifocal neurological structures. The numbers of left-handers have been increasing along with the numbers of neurological conditions characterized by both cerebral hemispheres being the same size with a wide corpus callosum. These are the members of the self described neurodiversity movement. Autistic and Asperger’s individuals are stating that they are not subjects of a disorder, but members of a new order. I would suggest that the representatives of the neurodiversity movement embody the re-emergence of matrifocal proto society, in a context where their strengths and intimacy with nondifferentiation can become the guide and balance to the modern split.

What does the neurological synthesis look like? I’m not exactly sure. I suspect it has something to do with what we’re observing in Scandinavia, though visually the new humans may look a lot more like the Obamas. Left-handed, lanky synthesizers are in our future. Speciation is not easy to predict.


March 13, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Art, Society, Unconscious, Web

We humans experience consciousness as a two-way split.  This offers us an ability to toy with time, space and storytelling while often suffering from a misinterpretation of what we perceive.  We can also commit deceit.

Our experience of the split gets interpreted in a number of different ways.  There is right and wrong, evil and good, left and right, yes and no, me and not me, and us vs. them.  There is also what we are aware of and what we are not aware of, which can be framed as what is conscious and what is unconscious.

In psychotherapeutic intervention, there is what is called the “reframe.”  Faced with a client or patient with a conscious mind deeply polarized from an unconscious, the therapist will seek common ground in the form of an unconscious intent that the conscious can agree with.  The conscious may feel powerless to influence unconscious processes that seem to generate behaviors or experiences contrary to conscious goals.  Still, the conscious can learn to trust that the reasons behind the frustrating behaviors or experiences make deep sense.  From this new perspective, the therapist’s third position outside the polarized personality acts as a model for how two seemingly combating sides can explore the benefits of having an agreed-upon common ground.

It is peculiarly human that the world is framed in splits.  As divided selves, we feel it is natural that division characterizes experience.  Perhaps if we were like five-fingered starfish with five brain lobes and five different conscious/unconscious selves, then the world would be characterized by a different mathematics, politics and family structure.  As it happens, such a transformation may be happening right now.  It’s not so much the starfish that is our model, but the spider and the web.

Our survival as a species requires intimacy with the concept of reframing in our personal lives, social lives, politics and science.  We need to encourage an ability to trust that the processes we observe at any scale are unfolding according to reasonable and important needs and intentions.  How those needs manifest often require intervention.  There may be damaging repercussions of poorly integrated attempts to satisfy needs, but the needs themselves can be respected.  The “terrorists” aren’t out to “steal our liberty.”  Suffering individuals seek attention.

Third-position perspective–reframing, marriage counseling, corporate and political arbitration, theory formation–seek a way to uncover common ground.  Still, the human split is what is inevitably being addressed.  Nonhuman experience is characterized by no division, whether that be cut into two, three, five or more.  How do we achieve an understanding that features no division?  This question is useful.  Facing the economic, societal and environmental repercussions of living life split, it is useful we explore the alternative.

My answer is art.  It is what we humans do that makes us human.  Our economy is transforming.  One of the sectors being propelled into higher numbers is craft stores.  We are finding our way back to reverence for craft, respect for art.  Consider what our economy would look like if art and craft formed the foundation for commerce.  Observe and listen to how music is transforming the web and how the web and new technologies are transforming how music is being made.  We are being provided a model of how to live in the world.

That model has to do with identification with that which exists beyond the split.  Massive, multi-person online art, craft and play integrated with off-line reverence for aesthetic creations hold deep promise of a personality and society able to integrate not just two adjusting polarities, but the infinite aspects that make up our existence.

Reframing is not just a psychotherapeutic intervention.  It is the first step on the pathway toward integration.

Opening Old Eyes

March 10, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Activism, Society, Web

Talking with Left activist and organizer friends, I would conclude that there seems little awareness of the deep structural societal changes underway.  Much of the Left expects more of the same.  In the 1960s, many of us had the experience of participating in a profound cultural transformation.  Most of the folks I know now don’t see or feel what we experienced then as happening now.  It is astonishing how deeply the Left has been purged of vision and optimism by the free market free-for-all of the last thirty years.  Our youth are not burdened in this way.

Perhaps part of this is due to the split between the practical and the spiritual.  Since the 60s, folks I know either stayed politically active or drifted off in New Age directions.  Not too many friends maintained a position in both worlds.  A re-embracing of the two polarities would be useful going forward.  Practical spirituality or spiritual pragmatism would be a boon to the Left right now, a Left seemingly unable to intuit a politic that can experience destruction and positive transformation as closely tied.

Since the 1960s, there has been a remarkable surge in secular spiritualism with yoga, martial arts, alternative medical interventions (i.e., acupuncture), pathways of personal transformations and meditation having become integrated into American culture.  There is an ideational infrastructure available for a reverence-for-the-commons point of view.  Most of my political friends aren’t seeing it.

It would be interesting to be able to track the speed, geographic span, degrees of separation and number of participants in the various Facebook campaigns proliferating across the web.  Some are social, some political, some difficult to categorize.  I expect hybrids will soon emerge that have spiritual connotations.  As participants seek a repetition of the experience of feeling part of something larger than themselves, experiences emerging as a result of spontaneous large gatherings of friends and strangers, a new form of worship will evolve.  I doubt it will be called worship and I doubt it will be associated with religion.  Regardless, it will offer people the bonuses of congregation without the us vs. them mythology.

The economy is crashing.  Along with it is American reverence for the dollar.  To see what will emerge as the new focus, we’ve only to look back to the 1960s.  That is when the door to societal alternatives blew open.  To understand how those winds will change us now, observe our youth.

A primary model of personal transformation is that a patient or client experiences change after repeated exposure to a third person, a therapist, who projects unconditional acceptance of the client.  The client’s underlying motivations for engaging in frustrating or not desirable experiences or behaviors are embraced by the therapist as reasonable, normal, even heroic.  The client’s split experience becomes less split and symptoms begin to lift as internal combat subsides.

The premise is that there is some kind of dissociation or split resulting in symptoms or uncomfortable experiences, a split that can be bridged or healed when the patient is provided a model of how to take a noncombative third position.

Splits naturally occur during ontogeny, biological evolution and when observing societal transformation.  It’s as if the Hegelian thesis/antithesis/synthesis sequence describes evolution at any scale.  This blog suggests that males and females are naturally split and evolve in different directions.  When males evolutionarily accelerate in maturation, females neotenize.  When females accelerate, males delay in maturation or exhibit neoteny.  It seems that splitting, seeking cooperation while moving farther apart, is natural to our species.

Ontogenetically, while one is an embryo and in early childhood, testosterone surges compel the trimming or pruning of synapse growth and the diminution of the (usually) right cerebral hemisphere.  This seems evolutionarily related to an ability to engage in speech.  The split we experience as personalities with an unconscious and conscious mind is likely a direct result of this ontogenetic split evolutionarily encouraged to achieve facility with spoken language, abstract thinking and an ability to manage or manipulate time.

As personalities seeking a synthesis between competing unconscious and conscious world views, we are also wrestling with an existential split compelled by a unique neurological profile profiting from speech and creative dissociation.  That ontological transformation unfolds inside the larger/longer species specific male/female split characterized by opposite maturation rate trajectories.

The seeming chaos this creates in our societies is perhaps easier to see than in our evolution, ontogeny or individual personalities.  Conflict, miscommunication and failed attempts at cooperation seem endemic to any society of two or more people.  It’s astonishing that stuff gets done with miscommunication plaguing attempts to achieve common goals.  Noting how a split experience is natural to the individual, to individuals in general (ontogeny) and to our species, it seems natural that society should reveal the same dynamic.

Personality transformation can be viewed as a healing of rifts or a transcendence of opposites.  What might be other avenues to approach the ways that personalities evolve?

Approaching the sixth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War and the second anniversary of there being no Left mass action to protest the war, it is interesting to consider the United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) conference last December.

At that UFPJ conference, there was surprisingly little rancor between those that sought mass action and the status quo that wanted no large single demonstrations to protest the war.  It was not a close vote.  Perhaps that’s why there was little combat.

There was the decision to conduct mass action in early April with an emphasis on a variety of issues.  There would be no one clear message.  But, then again, the Left has no one clear message.  There are three reasons why.

Obama, running against the Iraq War candidate, emphasized that he would be pulling troops out.  Obama, as a black man, has congruently, metaphorically manifested the change he says he’ll bring.  The economy is turning media and Left attention to issues of economic justice.

As economic justice becomes the new rallying point for the American Left, there is an opportunity for an alliance between hard and soft Left factions.  Maybe almost all the folks at the next UFPJ conference will share a strategic perspective.  Both Left factions can demand that the government withdraw from spending money on controlling assets and destroying bodies overseas to address the appalling, spiraling, out-of-control conditions at home.

Both hard and soft Left populations will find themselves being driven by youth/tech Left communities creating Facebook protests off of news events.  At some point, news not appearing in the mainstream press but emerging and proliferating across website blogs and Youtube will be driving hard, soft and tech Left into political action.

I expect that the approaching waves of protest, protests in the form of street demonstrations and online campaigns such as e-letters, petitions and boycotts, will not be associated with particular individuals or organizations.  They will be the spontaneous productions of individual creativity and timing.  The sources of information driving those protests may also be temporarily highly trafficked compilation blogs and portals.  As the relationship between users of information and information distributors become more and more seamless and integrated, major blogs like Kos and TPM may be visited to find out what’s come and gone.

The split between hard and soft Left feels temporary to me.  I have the naivete of an organizer without much history.  Still, history as we know it is coming to an end.  Hard times soften positions.

Consider that the American and world economy are beginning to work their way into a depression.  This is not too farfetched considering that in the blogs and mainstream media, the 1930s are becoming a common theme.  It is becoming conventional wisdom that we’re headed for depression.  Just as dust bowl winds destroyed our farmlands, this hurricane of financial abuse is deconstructing the modern economy.  It is not unreasonable to expect that the federal government cannot manufacture jobs quickly enough to breathe life into a dying consumer economy gasping for breath.

It’s time for the American Left to start exercising some imagination.

Let’s assume that eighteen months from now it will have become clear that Federal interventions displayed only moderate success.  Big box and specialty chains will be closing doors.  Flea markets and street vendors will spring up like mushrooms around an old tree trunk as the abandoned old structures house numerous spontaneous eruptions of minicommerce.  Deep resentments will emerge, focusing on those perceived as wealthy.  Demands will be made that resources be redistributed that allow the disadvantaged to have access to health, education and a job.

The American Left has been split for years between those that concentrate on heinous U. S. actions overseas (Palestinian rights, anti-war groups, anarchists, fair trade advocates, global environmentalists) and the moderate Left, which emphasizes what is happening within the confines of the U.S. borders (unions, African-Americans, Left Democrats, church groups, local environmentalists).

Right now, on one side, is the African-American and union population feeling empowered by an Obama Administration, with left-leaning Obama supporters seeking to give the president a chance.  On the other side are organizers and activists wanting to make sure an Obama Administration follows through on its promises to serve those most disenfranchised within U.S. borders and overseas.  This side uses strategies that exert pressure in the form of protests, letters, actions, campaigns, etc., which will provide clear guidance to policymakers.  Right now, the soft Left and hard Left is split even further than is usually the case.

These differences between the soft and hard Left polarities are about to disappear.  Three forces are combining to unite the Left and integrate Left impulses with the status quo.

First, economic inequalities and the economy will become by far the gravest concern of both the Left and mainstream America.  Media will plaster hard time stories across screens, airwaves and print from dawn to dawn.  It is a story that unites and compels people to tune in.  People will feel part of something larger than themselves.  Not just for a few months, as in 9/11, but for years.  And, it won’t be just Americans.  It will be the world.  In this struggle, corporations and the wealthy will often be seen as the opponent.

Second, the stories we will be exposed to will come from across the world.  Video will be provided of these events.  In the way that video made the 2005 tsunami a major television and Internet story, video from around the world will make the depression an experience shared by people everywhere.  Feeling part of something larger than ourselves, we’ll have an opportunity to shift identity to experiencing ourselves as members of the world.  The split between the domestic and foreign affairs Left will begin to fade as our boundaries become fuzzy, with constant exposure to the duress that non-Americans are feeling.

Third, continuing integration between the Internet and its users will lead to a long succession of spontaneous, seamless, focused, date-based, single-event political actions.  The Internet is changing the way we feel about ourselves.  We are becoming empowered.  We are becoming empowered by the re-emergence of the commons at a time when cooperation, sacrifice and interconnection are becoming the new world view.  As brutal as the economy will be, individuals will feel entitled and empowered by the new communication tools focusing on cell phone technologies and the web.  Our feeling good about ourselves will be all about what we can do together.

What are the Left’s priorities and strategies for achieving those priorities?  The answer to this question seems integrally tied to the Left’s ability to integrate its strategies into new technologies.  How do you strategize spontaneity?  A deep understanding of social networking applications and cell phone technologies seems essential to being able to achieve long-term goals using these horizontal tools.

With American and world society moving quickly in the Left’s direction, it will be difficult for the Left to clearly articulate its goals.  Winds will keep resculpting the economic landscape.  In the context of massive, integrated, horizontal, headless communication, there will be few movement spokespeople articulating an overall vision.  There will be visions expressed by individuals representing specific groups and particular crises.  Stitching those visions together will be a challenge.

The Left has an opportunity to exercise imagination.  To do so, it will have to take a leap.  The implication of all this change is staggering.  What we are looking at is a possibility of world peace in our lifetime.  Intuiting that as a possibility during the difficult times to come takes an ability to grasp the larger pattern of integration and empowerment engaged below the surface of the media story of deep distress and helplessness.  I’m not talking about seeing silver linings.  The storm itself is indication of good things to come.

Just as there has been blow-back for the heinous actions America has committed over time, there is blow-forward for the suffering the world is about to go through.  Winds of change are blowing a brand new melody.  This time it will be music we all can hear.

No device exists that measures consciousness.  There is no consciousness Geiger counter that provides the opportunity to visit different places and measure their degree of connectivity.  There is no helmet you can strap onto chimpanzees and humans that will measure how aware an individual is of his or her particular situation.

Ken Wilber hypothesizes that meditation engaged in over 20 years provides a leap of two units (on a scale of approximately 7 units) from where you began on the climb to enlightenment.  Wilber suggests where we begin depends on life circumstances, personal history, social context, historical situation and personal choice.  A number of different behaviors or experiences suggest one’s location on the ladder.  For example, Wilber observed that fear dramatically diminishes the longer one engages in the consciousness climb.

Personally, I’m more interested in the nature of the differences among individuals subscribing to different social structures and the hormonal associations with those social structure proclivities.  Measuring how enlightened someone is feels unnecessarily hierarchical and sort of anti-Zen.  Noting the difference between humans 200,000 years ago–hypothetically random-handed humans with no shift in cerebral functioning enhancing speech–and humans today, who are exhibiting varying degrees of random-handedness, sounds interesting and possibly useful.  I’m curious if these subtle shifts in consciousness can be measured.  Once measured, can the information be used to offer useful interventions for individuals in distress?

Marian Annett, Norman Geschwind and others have hypothesized which brain structures are changing to accommodate the transition to speech.  I’ve been playing with the idea that the primary reason consciousness shifts is not subtle.  I’ve hypothesized that we’ve evolved from consciousness to split consciousness over the last 80,000 years or more as surges of testosterone have pruned cerebral synapse and diminished the size and functionality of the right hemisphere while the corpus callosum has shrunk.  My conjectures focus upon the influence of a right hemisphere changing in size while the bridge between the hemispheres is dramatically reduced.  I believe that there have been accompanying changes in consciousness, an emerging of split consciousness, with it being possible to measure degrees of split consciousness.  In fact, we have been doing so for some time.

Psychological evaluations seek to measure percentages of possibilities that a person subscribes to particular tendencies.  I’ve hypothesized that specific personality disorders, such as obsessive compulsive, borderline and narcissistic personality disorder reveal populations that are evidence of ancient cerebral/neurological prototypes.  These evaluations were designed and are executed with no knowledge of the condition or disorder etiology.  I believe they are measuring several variables having to do with maturation rates and timing, hormonal thresholds, cerebral lateralization and corpus callosum size.  Presupposing that we have evolved over the last couple hundred thousand years in a direction that has resulted in specific brain changes altering our self awareness engendering split consciousness, then what tools might be effective at evaluating the various people appearing along this historical arc, or what the neuropsychologists might call a contemporary balanced polymorphism or a seamless gradation of a variety of individuals all making a contribution to a healthy whole?

I’m playing with the idea that humor offers insight into consciousness.

Chimpanzees and bonobos experience humor.  Clearly, it’s a fairly basic humor not unlike what amuses a small child.  There is a hierarchy of humor that people climb as they grow older and they are able to appreciate deeper degrees of connection, subtlety, irony and paradox.  I’m hypothesizing that what we find funny reveals how wide the bridge is between our cerebral hemispheres, how intensely synapse-pruning impacted our less dominant hemisphere, the repercussions of early puberty-impacting synapse production and the influence of estrogen and testosterone levels on our abilities to connect and mature.  In other words, what we find funny directly reflects what we can identify with, identity being integrally related to how split consciousness is.

We may discover, for example, that there is a kind of mental malady characterized by a brain that has barely split vs. another kind where the split is so wide as to be unbridgeable.  This may have to do with the relative sizes of the cerebral hemispheres, the hemispheric bridges or a combination of the two.  One consciousness experience is characterized by an inability to communicate while lost in an undifferentiated, alternative world.  The other consciousness exhibiting deep divisions characterized by constant internal surveillance and self suspicion accompanied by feelings of being totally alone.

A highly refined humor metric may offer insight that other tools cannot easily measure, calibrating a person’s position ontogenetically and evolutionarily.  Measuring split brains and brain bridge sizes, the evaluation would not be recording better or worse, more or less advanced.  The humor metric would be noting the influence that our predisposition for speech has had upon our ability to connect and our awareness of our ability to connect.

Consider that there may be those among us with less of an ability to connect or empathize, but particularly aware that this is the case, accompanied by sensitivity to differences.  Contrast that with another person easily able to empathize, but with little awareness that empathy degrees vary from person to person.  No one of these two people is better than the other.  Each represents very different neurological/hormonal strategies.  I would argue that what each finds funny would offer insight into how they are organized differently.

Though we can’t change our brains once we’re grown, we can dramatically modify our environment in ways that impact our bodies, our brains and our selves.  We might find, after a humor evaluation, that a person represents an ancient cerebral/somatic/hormonal prototype.  We might discover that lots of light (reproducing equatorial diurnal cycles) and a special diet (low in fat, high in protein) would positively impact his or her experience.

In the ways that dreams are evaluated to measure health, so can humor.  Perhaps measuring what we find funny can lead to lives that make it easier to laugh.  It is no mistake that Buddha smiles.


December 25, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography, Myth/Story

In these blogs, I write about evolutionary theory, autism etiology theory, political activism and social change.  I discuss the web, business, the economy, politics, political organizing specifics, organizer conference structure, media, cosmology, society, psychology, social structure, sexual selection, neoteny, heterochrony, hormonal-driven evolutionary dynamics, transparency, diversity, hierarchy, hypnosis, spiritual experience, personal experiences, play, art, language, myth, story, the nature of joy and sources of love.

Friends have told me I cover a lot of subjects.  I often get the feeling I’m writing about the same thing over and over again.  I write about evolution.

I arrived at writing about evolution by tracing backwards the origin of dragon myths and then serpent myths.  Visit for more detail on what occurred.  Over the course of a year and a half, I immersed myself in dragon and serpent mythology.  I went deeply, head over heels, down the rabbit hole of attraction.  What booted me off that abyss was the book Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler.

The book outlines a possible feminine foundation for human culture and explores implications of the work of archeologist Marija Gimbutas.  Exploring and recording details of several hundred myths, reading over 90 books on dragon and serpent mythology, I finally arrived at the first snake carvings and Christopher Marshack’s thesis of early humans tracking moon cycles on horn and bones.

The point that stories began emerging from the imaginations of our ancestors feels like the place where I seek to be.  In meditation, I find myself often straddling the place where my unconscious generates images and voices, conscious of my unconscious.  The part of me that feels abandoned when I was small–a part that cannot yet tell or understand stories–feels to me to be the me that I accompany.  For me, evolution is personal.  Seeking an understanding of how humans evolved is the same as seeking inside myself for how I came to be.

I seek to grasp what it means for consciousness to split.  I explore consciousness.  I embrace the split.

I don’t yet understand the relationship between story/metaphor and our evolution.  I intuit that this is the core of who we are.  Lingering around the ancient rituals of dance and song, I seek those moments when time fractured and imagination reared.  I can feel these moments in my body.  Slowly my body allows the words to describe what the body knows.

We are each wrestling with our evolution as we form words and act out the stories that guide our lives.  I feel joy seeking origins.  There is love stored in an understanding of how we came to be.

Pattern recognition and exhibition form the essence from which we humans have evolved. Sexual selection usually involves a female choosing subtle variations on a pattern theme such as song, movement/dance or visual display. It can occur that males dramatically escalate the details while females exponentially increase their deliberative tendencies. You can get what Fischer called Runaway Sexual Selection.

What probably began the runaway loop were females selecting for superb dancers and sound makers with males responding over time with astonishing feats of endurance and acumen. Females become far more appreciative of the nuances the males could exhibit because females were being selected over time for acute judgmental abilities. Those females with subtle evaluative capacities mated with the most adroit male performers.

Somewhere along the line, females began selecting for males with talents for escalating pattern exhibition unrelated to any particular or specific stimuli trajectory.

Females selected for creativity.

There is no fiction in biology. Natural systems evolve within firm boundaries such as climate, food sources, natural disasters and competing peers. Now humans began operation in an alternative, complementing universe of pattern exhibition and recognition, having crossed a line where what exists, exists, but not in the biological world.

With imagination humans could perform feats of pattern recognition and exhibition in more than one time and more than one place at the same time. Females were selecting for imagination. Females were selecting not just the creativity to generate novel variations on a theme but for an ability to generate new themes.

There is runaway sexual selection and there is careening-crazily-everywhere-at-once sexual selection. Well, not actually everywhere. Just two places. Sexual selection split the human brain.

Not long before the diaspora from Africa, the human brain shifted from random-handed gesture-users thinking almost always in the here and now to right-handed speech-users with a slightly smaller right hemisphere and a smaller corpus callosum hemispheric bridge. The new brain could be two places at once by decreasing communication between the hemispheres and assigning speech mostly to just the left side. With the emergence of a facility manipulating place and time, sexual selection focused on the productions of imagination. What we call “consciousness” was born. What emerged was actually split consciousness. “Consciousness” had always been present. The striving of consciousness to engage in pattern recognition and exhibition for millions of years, sexual selection, led to split consciousness and the eruption of imagination.

Imagination is the sexualization of experience by creating time.

So, we’re maybe 50,000 to 100,000 years after the split, having had some time to explore the repercussions of using an imagination to navigate a biological world with real bodies. One of the challenges is that our love of stories, products of the imagination, stories exhibiting our ability to be in more than one time or more than one place at the same time, lead us to confuse the conclusions of our stories with the way the world works. Biology corrects our widest wanderings but still we get into trouble. For example, the financial world meltdown.

We are storytellers. That is our nature. We sexually selected ourselves to display astonishing abilities to makes things up. When those that control financial assets tell stories that enormous amounts of money can easily be made with little risk and involve no products or services but only the estimations of relative value over time, that is a story. When the story meets biology–biology tells us that everything changes and everything is interconnected–the story will suffer.

So, now we have a new story. The new story says we need regulations, just like nature regulates itself. In this new integrated global economy, integrated like our natural global ecology, we need constraints, natural constraints, like nature uses.

The first law of the new economy? Trade what’s real.

Somewhere there must be a hierarchy of humor set forth in a study that explores how what we find funny changes as we grow older.  The study would explore the humor of those who have delayed maturation–the autistic, for example–comparing it to what normal finds funny.  Uncovering jokes recorded over time, the study might look for patterns in what makes us laugh over the long haul during recorded history.  The study could research what aboriginals find funny and if there are patterns that cross continents in terms of tribal culture.

Let’s take funny seriously for a moment.

There are certain features of being human, though not always exclusive to our species, which deeply inform what exactly we might be.  I’m suspecting that humor and metaphor–often so closely related as to be indistinguishable–may reveal our origins and our evolution.

I think it has a lot to do with sensitivity to the anguish of being split.

Watching and listening to ontogeny, or growth of a child to adulthood, observing the autistic, studying evolution and examining my own consciousness, I would conclude that contemporary self-consciousness or split consciousness is pretty new.  Julian Jaynes suggests it emerged with recorded history.  Feiffer offers 50,000 years ago or so.  Others argue that a hundred thousand or more years ago, a modern form of thinking or language use was starting to be used.

Humor probably begins with the fall.  I don’t mean the Biblical fall, though that may also be true, but the slapstick tumble.  Though before that there was hide and seek.  Word play is a favorite early fun.  Though I’m not sure I would suggest that fun and humor are the same things.  Squirrels have fun, but I don’t think they have a sense of humor.  I may be wrong.  I’ve observed squirrel mischief that borders on demented.

Funny is often accompanied by insight.  A joke can manifest the insight with the punch line.  An amusing story can make something about life more clear.  Like these essays, there is a coming home again with something picked up along the way.  There is integration with an implication that there’s been a split.

I suspect that humor emerged with split consciousness, revealing an awareness of the separation and a deep desire for return, which leads to a paradox.

The older I grow, the more play I see in the world and how the world is made, transforms and unfolds.  That which is, is having fun.  Unlike the squirrels’ experience, this fun seems integrally connected to humor.  Still, it’s not humor characterized by an experience only of feeling split.  It seems a humor defined by an experience of split/not split/split/not split both at once.  It’s as if the moment of the punch line, the end of the story, is fully, constantly engaged.

Is the split that we need humor to transcend not really a split at all?

That would be amusing.

I’m a sand castle purist.  I use only my hands, drip/pancake style.  How I let the wet sand fall from my hand has everything to do with what takes form.  A hot sun, 85 or higher, is necessary to bake the sand quickly.  Having almost no wind is important to keep the tower detail intact.  Fine-grain shell sand is essential.  Rock sand will not do.

Engaged in the process of creating sandcastles, I’ve noticed a pattern in the emergence of new ideas.  New architectural forms rarely emerge in a day or three.  It takes all day devotion for almost a week before new kinds of towers start to spontaneously form.  When the novelty begins to flow, it’s not one interesting unique construction, but several.

Often, the surge of creativity follows an emotional low in the form of boredom/depression/disappointment.  I’ve noticed this effect in other times in my life.  The lows seem to release or hollow me out of present infatuations.  The space created allows the growth of something new.

There has been an observation among developmental biologists studying early human ontogeny on the repercussions of testosterone surges in embryos, infants and toddlers.  These surges “prune” brain growth.  It has been estimated that one particularly powerful surge compels the left brain lobe to grow slower, resulting in right-handed, “normal” children.  It is thought that this pruning is a good thing.  It has been hypothesized that autistic children don’t experience this surge.  Without the surge, the child can have a larger brain with two hemispheres similar in size.  It seems, according to this analysis, that some destruction is necessary to achieve the split consciousness familiar to most of us that are not autistic.  Destruction creates imbalance that compels self reflection.

The worst war in human history, WWII, has been followed by a voluntary currency/political alliance of 25 countries.  At the center of this remarkable development is Germany.  More than 6 million civilian innocents died in death camps during the social madness of WWII.  Most of my relatives disappeared.  That sacrifice has resulted in a devastatingly powerful national shame.  Germany is working out the grief of what its people participated in.  Unlike the Israeli government, they seem serious as they seek to practice “Never Again.”  The EU is the most powerful political creative force in the world today, providing an insight into what the future looks like.  The sacrifice of those innocents was not in vain.

Gould & Eldridge’s theory of punctuated equilibrium notices the gaps in the fossil record and suggests that destruction and speciation may go hand in hand.  Death and creativity may be more than cousins; they might be the same person on different days.  Ninety-five percent of the world’s species were destroyed when the asteroid hit earth 63 million years ago.  A major portion of our Western hemisphere got pruned.  Mammals flourished.

Toddlers are the asteroids of the sand castle worlds my helpers and I assemble.  Having not yet developed hand/eye skills or self reflection, these little, mostly speechless, beach demons can offer little but their ability to destroy.  And so they do.  What follows the destruction is inevitably unique.


Integrating primary process and split consciousness. (CC image: msr & naturalturn)

Hidden Integrations

March 31, 2010 | Leave a Comment

Category: 10-Unconscious, Art, Social Structure, Unconscious

Western society’s reverence for art seems to have revolved around good stories. Individuals achieving entrance to the pantheon of great artists often had childhoods and adult lives characterized by extreme stress. In the West, this may be partly because the artist represents an individual struggling to integrate nearly impossible polarities: community sensibilities with the cult of individuality. An artist seeks to portray what unites us, walking a path seeking unities, while alone. The stories of an artist’s struggle are also a description of how each individual seeks both an allegiance to community and self. It can be argued that the great Western artist finds a way to integrate the two, at least in his or her work.

I’ve described two neurological archetypes in my work on human evolution, autism and current social transformations. There is the male, maturationally delayed, and the female, accelerated, and both are matrifocal, often left-handed, leaning toward autism, inclined toward primary process and inclined toward being simultaneous thinkers. The other neurological archetype includes the familiar male who is maturationally accelerated and the female who is delayed (neotenous), and both are patrifocal, narrative-thinking, split-brained, normal right-handers. I’ve recently been playing with the idea that each displays a unique form of imagination, with primary process individuals exhibiting abilities to perceive and integrate larger patterns contrasted with split-brain thinkers that can easily imagine what does not exist while establishing the steps to get there.

What I’m considering at this particular moment is what might be occurring when a primary process thinker is introduced in childhood to split-brain thinking conventions, or the opposite, when a split-brain thinker is guided or propelled into how a primary process thinker thinks. For me, there is something similar to the life work of an artist, who is seeking to integrate seemingly incompatible polarities. It strikes me that by understanding the world by the way the world is perceived and processed, and offering ways that these two basic paradigms can relate, we might be encouraging a healthy integration.

It may be often the case that those artists and theorists that achieve success in their chosen avocations or professions are those individuals that have accidentally or unconsciously found ways to perceive and interpret information considered from both a primary process and a split-brain perspective. I have hypothesized that our society evolved from a matrifocal to a patrifocal frame and is now headed back to matrifocal, though in many ways what we are experiencing currently is integration. I’m hypothesizing that one way to approach how unique thinkers think is to consider that some individuals experience and exhibit an integration of both primary process and split-brain thinking processes.

It is my guess the integration is often not without stress. In just the way the artist in the West often acts as an example or symbol of the difficulty of synthesis between community and self, or the other ways of describing the existential polarities that we as humans wrestle with, those individuals that discover an ability to live in both primary process and split-brain worlds probably often experience the relationship as a struggle.

An example of two forms of imagination integration might be aboriginal children with natural primary process thinking inclinations that are raised in a Western home by split-brain parents, except that the parents are artists, and the home features an extended family with a mother’s sister and a mother’s mother living in the house. A net result might be an environment somewhat neurologically (and socially) familiar, with constant exposure to what may feel like a complementary opposite neurological condition. The children may become adults with a facility to intuit big picture, simultaneous, interconnected understanding with step-by-step abilities to achieve goals by imagining something that does not yet exist.

A perhaps more familiar example might be one that approximates the artist paradigm in Western culture. Consider a primary process thinker, a left-handed person, with left-handed parents. Borderline autistic, an Asperger’s candidate, this person is traumatized in early childhood and finds himself or herself withdrawing, except the world that he or she withdraws into features an enormous number of words. This person discovers that words are effective at creating a security zone isolating personal experience from a threatening environment. The person becomes an avid reader and uses his or her global imagination to fill the world up with the images his or her words create. Nevertheless, as a primary process thinker, community feels essential, resulting in a vivid imagination devoted to an imagined community, a community featuring many interconnections.

I hypothesize two neurological archetypes with few overt pathways toward integration of the two frames of reference. Some people, over the course of their life, experience various degrees of integration. Sometimes this occurs in an atmosphere characterized by love and affection. Sometimes this occurs in atmospheres featuring distress and misunderstanding. Both situations can result in individuals with enhanced abilities to serve society.

Proceed to author’s FREE book download on this subject. 10 minute introductory video here.


The power of medium. (Flickr CC image by Mickipedia)

Medium Power

March 22, 2010 | Leave a Comment

Category: Art

The medium informs and guides the kinds of insight that the artist can experience. Directly related are the contexts that the artist creates within. If a writer writes alone in a closed-door room at hours when everyone else is asleep, there is a good chance that the experience of being alone will influence what is created. Compare a writer that types with both hands, both hemispheres contributing to what is produced, to a painter using only one hand and the possible influence that has upon what is painted.

As a comic artist working with the medium of newsprint, I produced work with no one else around. Many pieces would be viewed by more than one hundred thousand, yet I was receiving almost no feedback because the viewer was usually far away. Musicians produce work accompanied by an audience, usually a group of a hundred or less. The musicians are receiving feedback as an integrated part of the process of creating.

McLuhan made clear that the medium is the message. That insight operates on several scales. It is not only the case that the channels we receive information through influence the content of the communication, the medium we choose to send information through influences what we, as creators, are aware of.

An artist is drawn toward a particular medium because that medium complements what the artist has to say and how she or he wants to say it. It then becomes the case that the medium informs what the artist becomes aware of because a medium compels attention to only certain classes of detail. Producing video using exclusively imagery from the Creative Commons, exploring over 10,000 images and videos for each 5 minute piece, engenders a different awareness, suggests different insights than painting an illustration.

Perhaps someday there will be grammar school units on use of awareness when it becomes not only obvious that how we choose to exercise attention influences experience, but that particular kinds of attention are uniquely useful for particular goals. As we grow to understand how humans evolved split consciousness, school may become at least partly about teaching children how to direct the kind of consciousness appropriate for different paths or tasks.

Art, spirituality, sociality and science are four words for four different zones of consciousness direction. When we know the particulars of the different way that attention is directed in these four zones, children can be guided to learn by acquiring appropriate consciousness. If the medium is the message, we only need to learn the dance steps that juxtapose with each medium.

As an artist, one’s medium informs and guides the kinds of insight that the artist can experience. As a human, understanding medium is to understand how we understand.


The structure of the unconscious and evolutionary theory.

Accompanying the Metaphor

March 19, 2010 | Leave a Comment

Category: 10-Unconscious, Unconscious

The idea of evolution is often confused with Darwin’s theory of natural selection. This is in no small part because science representatives of evolutionary biology, such as Richard Dawkins, purposely confuse evolution with natural selection, usually linking Neo-Darwinistic interpretations of natural selection with evolution. This is further complicated by creationists or followers of intelligent design focusing exclusively on the theory of natural selection, interpreting the principles of that particular theory as identical with science’s understanding of evolution.

There is evolution and there are those theories we use to interpret evolution. It just so happens that many evolutionary biologists, creationists and members of the media don’t see a difference, or prefer we not see a difference. It seems to be in the interest of many individuals to muddy the difference between a theory and what a theory represents, to confuse a map and the territory.

When a metaphor seeks to represent not a particular experience, but an interpretation of an experience, the result is something like a metaphor of a metaphor. It is perhaps useful when we know that we are engaged in this particular process. A problem is that using metaphors to describe metaphors for experience is a whole lot of what being human is all about.

Maybe 4,000 generations ago, an eyeblink in evolutionary time, humans thought differently. Culture had not yet engaged. Language may still have been gestural. Our brains may still not have lateralized for speech. Most of us may have still been random-handed, like our great-ape cousins. Primary process consciousness may have been our night and day.

Primary process is a Freudian process, interpreted by Gregory Bateson to be the foundation animal consciousness, featuring one time, one place, no opposites. Primary process is the experience of an ever-present now, with little ability to estimate different times or to consider more than one location at any one time, and no ability to imagine something’s opposite. Trying to imagine something opposite results only in the appearance of that which is the thing you want to imagine the opposite of. Six different consciousnesses are associated with primary process: animal consciousness; human embryo and infant consciousness; human dream consciousness; the human unconscious; particular human altered states accessed through drugs and alcohol; and autism.

Humans, like our animal brothers and sisters, lived and breathed primary process. Something truly peculiar happened and humans evolved split consciousness. We could still access primary process, but our everyday existence featured an experience dramatically different from our sleeping nights. Split consciousness gave us the ability to exercise imagination and simultaneously have more than one time and more than one place and conceive of opposites; moreover, split consciousness was accompanied by primary process. We became both split and nonsplit beings in our daytime waking lives. Imagination and dissociation were mated with a tendency to experience the world in a way that merged a thing and what a thing represented.

Primary process does not differentiate. With primary process, a thing that represents, and a thing that is represented, are the same. In the world of dream, symbol and symbolized are merged.

We live deeply peculiar lives characterized by both extreme dissociation and compulsion to merge. This unique consciousness is understandable when approached evolutionarily. Humans feature two kinds of consciousness, and one of those two consciousnesses is unique. Accompanying this experience is our usual tendency to not exercise an ability to accompany the experience, or observe how exactly we engage in two kinds of consciousness. The result is that we often confuse the map with the territory.

As theories of evolution develop, the theorists, critics of theorists and the media describing combating viewpoints seem to specialize in forgetting that theories of evolution are metaphors for evolution. When theorists purposefully confuse evolution with a theory of evolution, when myth-believers purposefully confuse a personal experience with information that transcends personal experience, when the media focus only on describing battles instead of how battles came about, we are encouraged to confuse a thing and that which a thing represents. In other words, both science practitioners and myth-believers are often lodged in primary process and do not know it, so effortlessly are they engaged in dissociation.

This is the paradox of being human. While fully engaged in our imaginations, we often don’t notice when we are confusing a thing and what a thing represents. Able to be in multiple times and multiple places while seeing opposites, we at the same time merge two things that are different, experiencing them as the same.

There is a solution to the paradox. Identify with that part of us which is aware of, observes and patiently embraces our experience of being both split and nonsplit beings. Accompany self.

For some reason, a rather strange and astonishing result of accompanying split and nonsplit selves is an experience of compassion, interconnection and not being alone. Consider theorizing from a position where everything is relative. Map and territory are understood in the context of consciousness location. There is no truth, no answer, no right interpretation. There are no arguments. There is only sharing of experience.

The idea of evolution is often confused with Darwin’s theory of natural selection. To understand evolution, we need to accompany ourselves.