Sunday, August 14, 2011

the bicameral mind

"Heavy hung the canopy of blue
Shade my eyes and I can see you
White is the light that shines through the dress that you wore
She lay in the shadow of a wave
Hazy were the visions of her playing
Sunlight on her eyes but moonshine made her blind every time
Green is the colour of her kind
Quickness of the eye deceives the mind
Envy is the bond between the hopeful and the damned"

I am self aware as I understand self-awareness to be.

However there is something oddly troubling about this statement. I may also say I am conscious as I understand consciousness to be. Yet it has occurred to me self-awareness is only an aspect of consciousness, and perhaps to a lesser degree than I might wish. William Burroughs facilitating a classroom lectur on creative reading at the Naropa Institute in 1979 references the writings of Julian Jaynes speculating on the shape of an early consciousness Jaynes describes as the bicameral mind (which I mistakenly refer to as the 'precambrian' mind in the previous post). Understanding such a concept requires negotiating the same aspects which we use to identify self-awairness as well as consciousness itself.

In order to sense the frame work of the bicameral mind one must first deconstruct and then transcend the constructs of language. Yet this proves not to be an easy task, as the thought process is integral to constructs of self and awareness. The abandoning of the 'word' runs counter intuitive to and is in fact the antisisis of the thought process as it understood. Our contemporary understanding of experience, meaning, and progress is residual effects of an unspoken consensus lingering within a collective unconscious. Without the construct of I and without the linear limiting structure of ego, the function of the 'word' within language seems obscure or even unknowable.

Bicameral man was perhaps more conscious than is our construct of a modern self-aware self, as the limitations of his 'word' although generated from cultural mandates were ultimately dictated by the cyclical forces of nature. It is impossible to know what these experiences were, as we are not able to experience this modality of mind in the same fashion or timespace as bicameral man of pre-history did. It is not to assume the bicameral mind remains inactive or unused, however, the function of this aspect of mind I must believe, while similar in mechanism, will now take on a completely different purpose.

Today, a functioning bicameral man would not exist without his or her tribulations. In fact more completely one delves into this non-egotistical automation of mind, it seems the more one is separated or vanquished from the larger general population society. While the basic biological need remain equal (ie the need of food, shelter, and embrace) the every day to day skills of rationalization of the ordinary man in the street are here the just the tip of the ice-burg. Without ego there is no filtration of self. The distinction between 'my' voice and every other voice in the known or unknown universe seems now indistinct.

Here, to borrow a phrase, there is no recovery. Once the bio-chemical connection is made to the far reaches of a non-verbal prehistoric pictorial mind, one must reorient his or her position in the context of the perception of reality. As rite of passage, this experience is one of premature enlightenment. The elasticity of the mind, mostly controlled through cultural conditioning reshapes perception enough to regain its baseline the center of which however measurably relocated. The prolonged pull and sway of these divergent aspects of mind, I theorize, creates a permanent dislocation or mutability of its center ultimately acting a cross contaminator or interference feedback loop resulting in the distortion ones ability to effectively locate his or her position in timespace.

To be continued.

(discussion of Julian Jaynes begins halfway through the recording)


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