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Prometheus Rising--A (Not So) Brief Overview

by rg Sun Jun 25th, 2006 at 09:38:09 PM EST

Few of our ancestors were perfect ladies and gentlemen; the majority of them were not even mammals.  

So says Robert Anton Wilson, some way into Prometheus Rising.

Imagine trying to make sense of an amalgam of Timothy Leary's eight neurological circuits, Gurdjieff's self-observation exercises, Korzybski's general semantics, Aleister Crowley's magical theorems, the several disciplines of Yoga, Christian Science, relativity and modern quantum mechanics, and many other approaches to understanding the world around us!  A man is required with an almost encyclopaedic education, an incredibly flexible mind, insights as sharp as those whom he is trying to synthesise and mirabile dictu, a wonderful sense of humour."  
--Israel Regardie, Introduction to Prometheus Rising, p17

Follow me, if you will, into the strange world of your brain...the Robert Anton Wilson version of it, at any rate.

How can I give you a taste of Prometheus Rising?  Why, by randomly chosen headings, occasional comments and, of course, quotes-a-plenty.  Here we go.


...the human mind behaves as if it were divided into two parts, the Thinker and the Prover.
The thinker can think about virtually anything.  History shows that it can think the earth is suspended on the backs of infinite turtles or that the earth is hollow, or that the Earth is floating in space (Millions of people believe that--including the present author); comparative religion and philosophy show that the Thinker can regard itself as mortal, as immortal, as both mortal and immortal (the reincarnation model) or even as non-existent (Buddhism).  It can think itself into living in a Christian universe, a Marxist universe, a scientific-relativistic universe, or a Nazi universe--among many possibilities.
As psychiatrists and psychologists have often observed (much to the chagrin of their medical colleagues), the Thinker can think itself sick, and can even think itself well again.
The Prover is a much simpler mechanism.  It operates on one law only: Whatever the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves.
To cite a notorious example which unleashed incredible horrors earlier in this century, if the Thinker thinks that all Jews are rich, the Prover will prove it.  It will find evidence that the poorest Jew in the most run-down ghetto has hidden money somewhere.  
-- Prometheus Rising, p 25

But it's not just Nazis who do this, oh no.  What the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves, no matter who you are.

It was not just the Church but also the established astronomers of the time who condemned Galileo.  The majority of physicists rejected Einstein's Special Relativity Theory in 1905.  Einstein himself would not accept anything in quantum theory after 1920 no matter how many experiments supported it.  Edison's commitment to direct current (DC) electrical generators led him to insist alternating current (AC) generators were unsafe for years after their safety had been proven to everyone else.

(Edison's pigheadedness on this matter was partly the result of his jealousy against Nikola Tesla, inventor of AC generators.  Tesla, on the other hand, refused the Nobel Prize when it was offered to him and Edison jointly because he refused to appear on the same platform with Edison.)

Science achieves, or approximates, objectivity not because the individual scientist is immune from the psychological laws that govern the rest of us, but because scientific method--a group creation--eventually overrides individual prejudices, in the long run.

In the long run, we are hopefully approximating closer and closer to "objective truth" over the centuries.
In the short run [...] Whatever the Thinker thinks, the Prover will prove.
And if the Thinker thinks passionately enough, the Prover will prove the thought so conclusively that you will never talk a person out of such a belief, even if it is something as remarkable as the notion that there is a gaseous vertebrate of astronomical heft ("GOD") who will spend all eternity torturing people who do not believe in his religion.  
--ibid, p 25-28

Brains as Computers

...when you read anywhere that A is B, it will clarify matters if you translate this as "A can be considered as, or modelled by, B."
We therefore say that the brain can be considered as a computer; but we do not say it is  a computer.
--ibid, p35

This is important, a) because "the menu is not the meal" and, b) he will use computer terminology throughout the book in order to describe how our brains, and therefore how "we", work.  Here are his key terms:

Hardware = our brains
Software = everything that runs into, or comes out of, our brains
Circuits = Subdivisions of the brain.

In speaking of the human brain as an electro-colloidal biocomputer, we all know where the hardware is: it is inside the human skull.  The software, however, seems to be anywhere and everywhere.  For instance, the software "in" my brain also exists outside my brain in such forms as, say, a book I read twenty years ago, which was an English translation of various signals transmitted by Plato 2400 years ago.  Other parts of my software are made up of the software of Confucius, James Joyce, my second-grade teacher, the Three Stooges, Beethoven, my mother and father, Richard Nixon, my various dogs and cats, Dr. Carl Sagan, and anybody and (to some extent) any-thing that has ever impacted upon my brain.
--ibid, p 39

How Does the Software Get Into the Hardware?

"1. Genetic Imperatives.   Totally hard-wired programs or "instincts".
  1. Imprints.  These are more-or-less hard wired programs which the brain is genetically designed to accept only at certain points in its development.  These points are known, in ethology, as times of imprint vulnerability
  2. Conditioning.  These are programs built onto the imprints.  They are looser and fairly easy to change with counter-conditioning.

  3. Learning.  This is even looser and "softer" than conditioning.

Imprints (software frozen into hardware) are the non-negotiable aspects of our individuality.  Out of the infinity of possible programs existing as potential software, the imprint establishes the limits, parameters, perimeters within which all subsequent conditioning and learning occurs.  
--ibid, p39

Let's Open the Box and Look More Closely at the Hardware

We shall divide this brain hardware into eight circuits for convenience.  ("For convenience" means that this is the best map I know at present.  I assume it will be replaced by a better map within 10 or 15 years; and in any case, the map is not the territory.)
Four of the circuits are "antique" and conservative, they exist in everybody (except feral children).


The development of these circuits as the brain evolved through evolution, and as each domesticated primate (human) brain recapitulates evolution in growing from infancy to adulthood, makes possible gene-pool survival, mammalian sociobiology (pecking order, or politics) and transmission of culture.
The second group of four brain circuits is much newer, and each circuit exists at present only in minorities.  Where the antique circuits recapitulate evolution-to-the-present, these futuristic circuits precapitulate our future evolution.


--ibid, p 40-41

New Age Geekiness in Techno-Bore-Language Alert!  

The Holistic Neurosomatic Circuit?  What's that when it's at home?  To calm any fears that we have moved into the land where Men Are From Mars and Women Read The Little Book of Calm, well, yes, he will talk about UFOs--as an example of "what the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves", and, yes, his books can be found in the New Age section of bookshops, but no, he was not some boggle-eyed hippy.  Indeed, Prometheus Rising is written specifically to stop people becoming mong-brained, follow-my-leader, if-there-are-crystals-it-must-be-true, it's-all-in-the-stars,- man-or woman flakes.  And yes, he does discuss tarot cards at length--as examples of archetypes linked to the above circuits--but I've edited out that part (and the part about UFOs).  So:




--ibid, p43

Mama Mia! -- The Bio-Survival Circuit Explained

Off we go, starting at circuit one, the most ancient of all, the one we share with all lifeforms--or rather, all lifeforms that (who) have mums.  I've chopped out a lot, but I hope it all makes sense.

The bio-survival circuit is DNA-programmed to seek a comfort-safety zone around a mothering organism.
--p 48

The "wiring" of this circuit, in primitive form, occurred in the first organisms, between three and four billion years ago.  [...] disturbances on this circuit act "all over the body at once" and generally take the form of physical symptoms rather than mental symptoms and usually get referred to the M.D. instead of the psychiatrist.

[...]  the general violence of our societies to date--including wars, revolutions, civil wars and the "undeclared civil war" of the predatory criminal class in every "civilised" nation--keeps the first circuit of most people in an emergency state far too much of the time.

A man or woman entering a new situation with the anxiety chemicals (we refer especially to adrenaline and adrenalutin, which signal the whole organism to prepare to fight or flee) of a frightened infant coursing through the brain stem is not going to be able to observe, judge or decide anything very accurately.
--p 49

It must be emphasised that this circuit, being the oldest in evolutionary development, is the most mechanical, and the most rapid.
--p 50

The hard-wired programs act automatically (UNCONSCIOUSLY) because if you had to stop and think out each situation, you  would be eaten by the first predator.

Of course, the imprint is made by chance -- by the circumstances at the moment of imprint vulnerability. [...]  Some imprint bravery, inquisitiveness and the exploratory drive; others imprint timidity, infophobia (fear of the unpredictable) and withdrawal.

All of which is robotic, until one learns how to reprogram and reimprint one's own brain circuits.  In most cases, such metaprogramming skill is never acquired.  It all goes by in a flash, on mechanical auto-pilot, in zero time.  "I just found myself doing it," says the soldier as he is being court-martialled for cowardice or decorated for bravery.

How This Relates to Economics (Part 1)

I wanted to tie in his thoughts--his ideas--with thoughts and ideas circulating here at European Tribune, to see what theses, antitheses, or syntheses might arise.  As one of the ET discussion areas is economics, here we go:

...on top of the hard-wired imprinting of the bio-survival circuit comes "softer" conditioning.  This allows the safe-space perimeter to be generalised outward from the mother's body to the pack or tribe--the "extended family."
Every social animal has, in addition to the Darwinian "instinct" (genetic program) of self-preservation, a similar instinct to protect the gene-pool.  This is the basis of altruism, and social animals could not survive without it.
Wild dogs (and wolves) bark to warn the rest of the pack that an intruder is coming.  Your domesticated dog identifies you as a pack-leader; he [or she] barks to warn you that an intruder is coming.  (He [or she] also barks, of course, to warn the intruder that s/he is ready to fight for hir territory.)

As civilisation has advanced, the pack-bond (the tribe, the family) has been broken.  This is the root of the widely diagnosed "anomie" or "alienation" or "existential anguish" about which so many social critics have written so eloquently.  What has happened is that the conditioning of the bio-survival bond to the gene-pool has been replaced by a conditioning of bio-survival drives to hook onto the peculiar tickets which we call "money".

In traditional society, belonging to the tribe was bio-security; exile was terror, and real threat of death.  In modern society, having the tickets (money) is bio-security; having the tickets withdrawn is terror.
--p 54

C.H. Douglas, the engineer and economist, once made up a chart, which he showed to the MacMillan Commission in 1932 when they were discussing money and credit regulation.  The chart graphed the rise and fall of interest rates from the defeat of Napoleon in 1812 to the date the Commission met in 1932, and on the same scale, the rise and fall of the suicide rate in that one [hundred and?] twenty-year period
The two curves were virtually identical.  Every time the interest rate went up, so did the suicide rate; when interest went down, so did suicide.  This can hardly be "coincidence".  When interest rises, a certain number of businessmen go bankrupt, a certain number of workers are thrown out of their jobs, and everybody's bio-survival anxiety generally increases.
Marxists and other radicals are urgently aware of such factors in "mental health" and hence scornful of all types of academic psychology which ignore these bio-survival issues.  Unfortunately, the Marxist remedy--making everybody dependent for bio-survival on the whims of a State bureaucracy--is a cure worse than the disease.
Bio-survival anxiety will only permanently disappear when world-wide wealth has reached a level, and a distribution, where, without totalitarianism, everyone has enough tickets.
The Hunger Project, the idea of the Guaranteed Annual Income, Douglas' National Dividend plan, etc. represent groping toward that goal.  The ideal can only be achieved in a technology of abundance.

Which leads me neatly onto R. Buckminster Fuller.  


But seriously, our one overriding concern should be to spread food, shelter, comfort, and possibilities across the globe, instead of guns, germs, and funky new economic paradigms.  It's a shame we can't maintain social zeal all the way to..."But hey," says Israel Regardie, "I told you the bit about Utopias was the bit I disagreed with, so get back to the point."

The point being, if I carry on at this rate, I'll have a diary longer than the book.  So, time to snip.  We have the first circuit: bio-survival.  Suckle and hug.  Shrink and flee.  What's next?


The second circuit, the emotional-territorial networks of the brain, is concerned entirely with power politics.  The "patriotic" circuit is built into all vertebrates and is perhaps 500 million to 1000 million years old.
--p 63

(Time to get vicious with those scissors.  Snip.  Snip.  Snip.)


The standard "authority" reflex on the emotional-territorial circuit is to swell the muscles and howl.  You will find this among birds as well as mammals, and in the Board meeting of your local bank.  The standard "submission" reflex is to shrink the muscles, lower the head, and "crawl away".  You will find this among dogs, primates, fowl and employees who wish to keep their jobs everywhere.
--p 65

Look at the Ego on That!

The "egotist" behaves like "a two year old," in the common saying, because Ego is the imprint of the toddling and toilet-training stage.
--p 67

I have a heading, Exactly Why People Vote for Idiots Like George Bush, it's coming up, but we have moved forward now a few hundred million years, to circuit three:


If Moses , Confucius, Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus and St. Paul can be considered living influences--and they are: look around the world--this is only because their Signal has been carried to us by human symbol systems.  These systems include words, artworks, music, rituals and unrecognised rituals ("games") through which culture is transmitted.  Marx and Hitler, Newton and Socrates, Shakespeare and Jefferson, etc. continue to "rule" parts of humanity in some way--through the semantic circuit.
We are ruled even more, and even less consciously, by the inventors of the wheel, the plough, the alphabet, even the Roman roads.
--p 95

Okay, it's language, it's culture.  Time to get snipping.

On the historical level, this is the time-binding function described by Korzybski, which allows each generation to add new categories to our mental library--connecting new things, separating new things, reclassifying and reshuffling forever.
--p 95

...there is a genetic (hard-wired) preference, in most humans, for right-handed manipulations and left-brained mentations. [...]   The right hand manipulates the universe (and makes artefacts) and the left-brain maps the results into a model, which allows for predictions about future behaviour of that part of the universe.  These are the distinctly human (post primate) characteristics.

As with the earlier circuits, the semantic circuit builds all of its conditioning and learning onto a bedrock of hard-wired imprinting.  Thus, many existentially thinkable thoughts are socially unthinkable, since (a) everybody in a given society has roughly the same semantic imprint and (b) this is reinforced daily by assumptions that are mechanically taken for granted.
--p 102

On the third circuit, time becomes conceptualised as well as experienced.  We know ourselves as creatures of time; the "tale of the tribe", the totem pole, the Odyssey of Homer, the Old Testament, the Vedas, etc. tell us what came before and often contain prophecies of what will come later.  Science expands the third circuit into contemplation of time-spans that stagger our imaginations.  The very use of written languages and other symbols like mathematics creates the time-binding sense of Korzybski: we know ourselves as receivers of messages sent by sages "of olde" and as potential transmitters of messages that may be scanned ages in the future.

Whew!  My poor aching fingers.  Will I get sued for quoting so much?  Will you still love me when I'm sixty four?  What am I?  A dinosaur?  With this tail?

I note that I am over three thousand words (most of them RAW's, of course) into this piece.  Much more and I'll be submitting this as my Master's thesis at the University of WhoGivesADamn, FranklyMyDear Faculty.  So here are some quotes out of context, one liners to give you a flavour of the rest of the downloadable as a pdf file book:

Roses are red

Violets are blue
You think this will rhyme
But it ain't gonna

(by Steve Alien)

--p 111

Most humans do not...imprint exactly the socio-sexual role demanded by their society.  The fourth circuit [THE "MORAL" SOCIO-SEXUAL CIRCUIT]  can almost be called the guilt circuit.: almost everybody, almost everywhere, is quite busy hiding their real sexual profile and miming the "accepted" sex role for their gender in their tribe.
--p 124

It is sometimes mistakenly stated that there are no universal sexual taboos.  This is not true.  There is one omni-purpose taboo which exists in every tribe.
That taboo stipulates that sexuality shall not be unregulated by the tribe.

(Breaking into a sweat in order to finish before my back snaps--I'm hunched, hunched! I say, leaning towards this laptop, typing manically, trying to finish...more quotes...skip, skip!)

To say that religion and priestcraft have played a conservative role in history is an understatement.  One might as well say that bubonic plague has killed a few people, or that Hitler was a little bit strange.  The chief role of religion has always been reactionary.  This is its evolutionary function, in the dialectic of the circuitry of the brain.

(Loads about brain-washing techniques--reduce people to circuit one bio-survival anxiety--Guantanamo Bay...)

The easiest way to get brainwashed is to be born.
--p 169

(Zipping past the fifth circuit--the Holistic Neurosomatic one, no bite size quote chunks there...it's the point when one takes control of the first four circuits.  What's that?  One quote?  Okay)

...the fifth circuit is "non linear" and "global".  That is, it is not limited by the one-thing-at-a-time sequences of the semantic circuit; it thinks in Gestalts.  This is why it is often connected with "intuition", which is a way of thinking between and around data-points on the perceptual screen--sensing what total field the points must be part of.
--p 183
[Just for you, here's a second quote:]

There is nothing supernatural about the fifth circuit.  It merely appears "supernatural" by comparison to the earlier circuits; but the third circuit, of which the Rationalist is so proud, undoubtedly appeared "supernatural" when it first appeared.  (The Egyptians attributed speech and writing, third-circuit functions, to divine intervention by the god Thoth.)
--p 185

(What happened to my idea of linking this to ET?  Ah yes, UFOs...)

The sixth circuit of the brain [THE COLLECTIVE NEUROGENETIC CIRCUIT--whew!] kicks into action when the nervous system begins to receive signals from within the individual neuron--from the RNA-DNA "dialogue," the neurogenetic feedback system.
--p 197

(Everything is strange, getting stranger, ow my aching back.)

(Onto circuit seven--THE META-PROGRAMMING CIRCUIT.  The UFOs have appeared, but I'll ignore them.)

Each of us is trapped in the reality-tunnel (assumption-consumption) his or her brain has manufactured.  We do not "see" it or "sense" it as a model our brain has created.  We automatically, unconsciously, mechanically "see" and "sense" it out there, apart from us, and we consider it "objective".  When we meet somebody whose separate tunnel-reality is obviously far different from ours, we are a bit frightened and always disoriented.  We tend to think they are mad, or that they are crooks trying to con us in some way, or that they are hoaxers playing a joke.
Yet it is neurologically obvious that no two brains have the same genetically-programmed hard wiring, the same imprints, the same conditioning, the same learning experiences.  We are all living in separate realities.  That is why communication fails so often, and misunderstandings and resentments are so common.  I say "meow" and you say "Bow-wow", and each of us is convinced the other is a bit dumb.
--p 211

The only sensible goal, then, is to try to build a reality-tunnel for next week that is bigger, funnier, sexier, more optimistic and generally less boring than any previous reality tunnel.
And once you have built that bigger, funnier, happier universe of thought, build a bigger and better one, for next month.
-p 225

"There are a lot of different realities going around these days," Abby Hoffman once said.  Evolutionary acceleration is forcing us to the point where each will have to take responsibility for which reality we accept.
--p 229

Enough already!  Let me skippeth to the endeth.  Here are the last words in the book:


And Mr. Wilson, it's good to hear you're doing well!

Very interesting diary, but will have to re-read it again tonight. To much information to process in a hurry.
by Fran on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 02:28:55 AM EST
Pity it's Monday - this would've been the ultimate Sunday post to forget about the long dark tea-time of the soul. (No, that's quoting Douglas Adams; I'm not talking about football.)
by Nomad on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 08:09:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by some real heresy on return to ET from 3 days of paganism.

RAW has been an input into my brain for several decades. The seed was 'Morning of the Magicians' by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, about 40 odd years ago. Endless meandering bifurcation stretched out through Charles Forte, Colin Wilson, Stan Gooch, Alisteir Crowley, John Lilley and dozens of others - coming up against RAW in the late Sixties.

All of these books were shocking reinterpretations of human history which lead me to realise that everything I had been taught at school was completely wrong in the worst cases, and suspect in most cases.

Mind-altering substances also enhanced the feeling that reality was not what it had been made out to be. There was something happening, and I didn't know what it was, did I Mr Jones?

I buckled down to making movies and finding out for myself what the world was. I opened the book of life and only retreated into my library occasionally for refreshment on the journey. Documentaries took me to some very strange places on this planet. I was with Stone.Age Indians in the Brazilian jungle while men were landing on the moon - equally visible in the sky from that point thousands of miles from the nearest civilization. I experienced Yage with the Indians and discovered completely new, very simple value systems.

Then followed a couple of decades of treading water while trying to understand Science and be a normal human in the highly abnormal situation (for me) of being married and of having more influence than I probably deserved or merited on the minds of large audiences.

Then came computers. Bam. That has been a fast train with me hanging on to the guard's van for dear life for the last 20 years. But one thing became clear - I disagree with Mr Wilson. The human brain cannot be compared to a computer. Well, it can - but it is not going to give you any useful insight, any more than comparing it to a telephone exchange or imagining a homonculus sitting inside you.

Everything is mind-altering. There is no essential difference between the drugs applied from outside or the ones that are fabricated inside ourselves. And they are all sloshing around inside a structure built over millions of years without planning permission, like a block of Cairo flats. All floors built precariously over previous floors, and rewired like Nokia's first spaghetti networks.

What can you possibly make of a cerebrum wired left-to-right, and a cerebellum wired left to left? Both systems getting the same sensory input and issuing their own sensory output? Without either knowing what the other is really doing?

And what is consciousness but the complexity resulting from having multiple simultaneous terminations? That alone should be enough to convince you that the traditional computer-brain analogy has little relevance.

Until this past weekend. I sat amongst some rocks which Nomad would probably be enthused by, looking out over a bay of the Baltic under rustling birches, listening to the glup glup of rising fish, reading 'Everyware' by Adam Greenfield. He is no Anton Wilson, being rather more of the anally retentive American IT analyser that I meet on the seminar circuit. Neither is he any kind of John Perry Barlow - a womanising heretic closer to my own heart.

But he lays out an interesting insight into Ubicomp - ubiquitous computing, or what will happen when information comes to find us instead of us going looking for it. It is a challenging vision of a noosphere that partly exists, but may take a hundred years. But it is a vision of a world very different from the one we are in now. It is not science fiction, it is science fact. It is about what happens when information becomes self-organizing. It is a recommended read.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 02:35:05 AM EST
What can you possibly make of a cerebrum wired left-to-right, and a cerebellum wired left to left? Both systems getting the same sensory input and issuing their own sensory output? Without either knowing what the other is really doing?

Do tell more please.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 05:30:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The reversed wiring is just a fact. Your guess is as good as mine as to what it means and how it evolved. The evolution of the cerebellum does precede the cerebrum, however.

The interesting point brought out by Stan Gooch in his book 'Total Man', is that, while there are several minor routes between the two brains (and the other, earlier, brain components), the 'pons' (bridge) is a narrow 'passageway' between them. This passageway, according to Gooch, is symbolised by the various mythological methods of passing from the 'real' world to another world - across a bridge, through a tunnel, a narrow canyon, a ladder (Shamanism) etc etc. This other world of myth is often a secret world - as secret as the cerebellum is to us, since we cannot pass our conscious selves into it, even though it appears to govern everything we do.

Consciousness, as pointed out by many, is largely 'after the fact' in most of our actions. Like waking up from a dream and feeling that the dream intrusion has happened before the sensory intrusion, when in fact it happens afterwards.

You might compare this to the President of the State of Mind. Like any President, it is impossible to be very granular about anything that happens or any decisions that need to be taken. Mr Bush gets a one page summary of everything that has happened or might happen, with his breakfast.  The summaries cover a variety of pressing subjects, as you can imagine. These summaries are written by the heads of vast information-collecting departments - Treasury, Pentagon, State, CIA, HS and so on. The summaries also present possible courses of action, though usually with very limited options.

The decisions have largely been taken already, with the President approving of them 'after the fact', just like with consciousness. The myth of a President making decisions is false. A President - and particularly George W. Bush - is a victim of the vast nervous system/processing system called a bureacracy which has evolved over time with inbuilt bias in the way it processes information. Bush, like consciousness, is a product of the system, not the homonculus.

However, if I was going to draw that mythical homonculus that many believe resides in our heads, I would have it resemble the Chief Simian fromTexas himself ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 08:06:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Never seen a 3.5 before...my finger slipped.  A 4 to you, Sven!

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 08:21:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not to diminish the effect of Colman's equally heretical views on unemployment figures and so forth, it's just that my eyes glaze over because I don't know enough about these economic subjects to really understand them or to appreciate what good thinking and knowledge goes into them.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 08:35:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think when RAW says 'brain' he really means 'whole damn experience, not just the grey glop that lives inside your head.'

It's a metaphor, not an object.

And no, it's not a computer. It's a lot more interesting than that. (Although sadly that doesn't mean most people aren't running the psychological equivalent of Windows.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 06:51:41 AM EST
RAW specifically talks about brain hardware.

And I defy anyone to separate the 'whole damn experience' from the brain/nervous system. The two things are the same. It is not a metaphor, epistomologically speaking ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 07:35:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
RAW writes:

...when you read anywhere that A is B, it will clarify matters if you translate this as "A can be considered as, or modelled by, B."
We therefore say that the brain can be considered as a computer; but we do not say it is  a computer.
--ibid, p35

So I think he wanted it to work as a sort of metaphor, even if he failed.  And:

We shall divide this brain hardware into eight circuits for convenience.  ("For convenience" means that this is the best map I know at present.  I assume it will be replaced by a better map within 10 or 15 years; and in any case, the map is not the territory.)

He wrote Prometheus Rising in 1979, so by now a better theory should be around.  One involving a cerebrum wired left-to-right, and a cerebellum wired left to left, perhaps? ;)

Sven, any ideas?

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 07:48:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose I will have to post a diary on self-organizing systems, since we are getting into territory (or a map of territory ;-)) that is marked white for 'unexplored', for many ETers.

Meanwhile here's a diary posted at the dawn of ET that broaches a few points about SOS - though we are now far along the road from these crude points into stigmergy, interdisciplinarianism, spiritual capital, systems analysis, cooperatives, and a whole bunch of other non-hierarchical heresies that are leading myself and other co-heretics up what may or not be multiple garden paths. We'll see.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 08:26:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...when you're being serious, I've no clue whatsoever about what you're talking.

But it reads very funky. I shall persevere.

by Nomad on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 05:22:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But seriously, I get lost in your geological stuff and I still want more. Isn't that what we're here for?

You would be an ideal person for an Operations Research Group.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 05:35:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can make a proper quiche, too.
by Nomad on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 07:07:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That depends on whether or not you're a solipsist.

The Californian 'You create your reality' world view comes with its own historical and cultural baggage. It's not sacrosanct and it's not above dispute. The RAW version of it is one of the more interesting spins on the idea, but it would be foolish to assume that it's the only correct reality tunnel there is. ;)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 07:50:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We've argued about this before. I guess there is no reasonable way to moderate our two views (or more). ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 08:09:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Have you read Cosmic Trigger?  Most of it is online at RAW's website.  Here's a taster from the intro (forgive the long quote):

My own opinion is that belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence. The more certitude one assumes, the less there is left to think about, and a person sure of everything would never have any need to think about anything and might be considered clinically dead under current medical standards, where absence of brain activity is taken to mean that life has ended.

My attitude is identical to that of Dr. Gribbin and the majority of physicists today, and is known in physics as "the Copenhagen Interpretation," because it was formulated in Copenhagen by Dr. Niels Bohr and his co-workers c. 1926-28. The Copenhagen Interpretation is sometimes called "model agnosticism" and holds that any grid we use to organize our experience of the world is a model of the world and should not be confused with the world itself. Alfred Korzybski, the semanticist, tried to popularize this outside physics with the slogan, "The map is not the territory." Alan Watts, a talented exegete of Oriental philosophy, restated it more vividly as "The menu is not the meal."

Belief in the traditional sense, or certitude, or dogma, amounts to the grandiose delusion, "My current model" -- or grid, or map, or reality-tunnel -- "contains the whole universe and will never need to be revised." In terms of the history of science and knowledge in general, this appears absurd and arrogant to me, and I am perpetually astonished that so many people still manage to live with such a medieval attitude.

Cosmic Trigger deals with a process of deliberately induced brain change through which I put myself in the years 1962-1976. This process is called "initiation" or "vision quest" in many traditional societies and can loosely be considered some dangerous variety of self-psychotherapy in modern terminology. I do not recommend it for everybody, and I think I obtained more good results than bad ones chiefly because I had been through two varieties of ordinary psychotherapy before I started my own adventures and because I had a good background in scientific philosophy and was not inclined to "believe" any astounding Revelations too literally.

Briefly, the main thing I learned in my experiments is that "reality" is always plural and mutable.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 08:15:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've read everything RAW has ever written.

So - are you and Sven arguing that a plurality of world views is the only acceptable and true world view? ;-)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 10:05:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But my view is that I cannot 'create' my own reality as you suggest, I am my reality.

I have a sensory connection (or at least I think I have) with something which I internally define as reality, and that I percieve this sensory conection to something I feel to be outside my consciousness as being arbitrarily subdivided into 5 senses - though there may be more.

The 'data' I get from these sensors is quite possibly phantom - as per the sensory data 'received' from amputated limbs. Most of the data I do not process consciously. Very little in fact is processed consciously.

The brain is a self-organizing system. All this sensory data, beginning from my time in the womb, has self organized - including the evolution of my belief that it is self-organized. It has evolved, during my apparent life, from 100% sensory noise to somewhat greater amount of signal, as my opioidergic system and the other hormonal and semi-hormonal meta-systems have encouraged the making and breaking of connections in my neural networks.

None of the units, including neurons, of my neural networks know what they are creating. They only 'know' what to do according to the frequency pattern of impulses they receive from upstream, and the stimulation of receptors upon them, and the effects of neighbouring inhibitory neurons. Me - I am just the result of good cellular neighbourliness. You, I don't know about since you are just part of the data flow that enters upstream.

Is that Californian enough fer ya?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 10:33:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You, I don't know about since you are just part of the data flow that enters upstream.

Californian I don't know, but it is sufficiently solipsistic.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 10:39:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
from that curse of solipsism called the Egocentric Predicament, though I try at all times to allow new sensory data in ;-)

And I'll try to be more Objectivist in future...

But this constant talk of Solipsis did lead me to consult wiki and I discovered France Télécom's virtual world project of the same name.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 10:58:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 11:00:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Actually, Sven it was who told me, two-hundred-and-thirty-six years ago, in a sauna and using a funky Adalucian interactive DNA-RNA processing sequence and birch twigs, that there may or may not be one or more world views, or vice versa.  Or did he say he wasn't sure?

Hold on, that wasn't Sven, it was you!

And you've everything RAW ever wrote?  That's a lorra lorra reading. ;)

In the year 1166 B.C., a malcontented hunchbrain by the name of Greyface, got it into his head that the universe was as humorless as he, and he began to teach that play was sinful because it contradicted the ways of Serious Order. "Look at all the order around you," he said. And from that, he deluded honest men to believe that reality was a straightjacket affair and not the happy romance as men had known it.
It is not presently understood why men were so gullible at that particular time, for absolutely no one thought to observe all the disorder around them and conclude just the opposite. But anyway, Greyface and his followers took the game of playing at life more seriously than they took life itself and were known even to destroy other living beings whose ways of life differed from their own.

The unfortunate result of this is that mankind has since been suffering from a psychological and spiritual imbalance. Imbalance causes frustration, and frustration causes fear. And fear makes for a bad trip. Man has been on a bad trip for a long time now.


                                                Bullshit makes the flowers
                                                grow & that's beautiful.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 10:51:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's much worse than that.

Not all of it was reading. :)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 11:31:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I dream of Amsterdam in the spring, the lake in the Vondelpark...

It was under those very branches, on a Friday in May, that:

a) I saw time stop for the briefest of moments--as I watched a ripple on the lake slowing, slowing, or was it my perception speeding up, speeding up...and

b) I lay with my back on the ground and stared down through those very branches at the birds sailing across the distant blue sea, far below...the giddy feeling; gripping the grass so I didn't fall off...

And in the evening, we went to Jazzcafe Alto, where we saw Hans Dulfer duelling with a skinny guy in a suit, who blew seventeen shades of unbelievable out of his sax...

Not that you (cough) have any idea what I'm talking about.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 12:10:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I know exactly

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 01:18:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not that you (cough) have any idea what I'm talking about.

Who - me?

Or the trees?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 02:14:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
of self-organizing systems ;-)

and birfurcation

and oxygen machines

and water storage

and, dare I say it, figure/ground ambiguity

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 02:19:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Wed Jun 28th, 2006 at 04:46:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I stopped one-third of the way through because I've got other things to do for now, but I was hooked!

Like Sven says above, I always like alternative takes on anything, including alternative takes on alternative takes ;)

Will be reading the rest later, good diary!

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 07:54:14 AM EST
For now I'll just say this:

If there is a Thinker and a Prover, then there is bound to be a Suggestor: a third part which insidiously, unconsciously, feeds the Thinker. And then we can move on to say that the Suggestor is preceded by a fourth part: the Accumulator, whose job is to accumulate data and feed it to the Suggestor for analysis. etc etc

by Alex in Toulouse on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 07:57:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not to forget the observer!
by Fran on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 10:10:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't promise that diary any time soon - we are working on putting up a member's website forum where the key people involved can put up editable papers, graphics, movies and then argue about them for years to come ;-)

But the aim is to collate the latest research from a wide area of fields, vaguely connected by being non-hierachical, in the hope that we might find/synthesize some appliable global theories. I am not sure we will, but it feels like a lot of fun...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Jun 26th, 2006 at 10:45:28 AM EST

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