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.
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".
- 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
- Conditioning. These are programs built onto the imprints. They are looser and fairly easy to change with counter-conditioning.
- 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.
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 ORAL BIO-SURVIVAL CIRCUIT
- THE ANAL EMOTIONAL-TERRITORIAL CIRCUIT
- THE TIME-BINDING SEMANTIC CIRCUIT
- THE "MORAL" SOCIAL-SEXUAL CIRCUIT
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.
- THE HOLISTIC NEUROSOMATIC CIRCUIT
- THE COLLECTIVE NEUROGENETIC CIRCUIT
- THE META-PROGRAMMING CIRCUIT
- THE NON-LOCAL QUANTUM CIRCUIT
--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:
ANSWER QUICKLY NOW
ARE YOU YOUR HARDWARE,
OR YOUR SOFTWARE?
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.
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.
It must be emphasised that this circuit, being the oldest in evolutionary development, is the most mechanical, and the most rapid.
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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:
THE TIME-BENDING SEMANTIC CIRCUIT
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.
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.
...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.
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)
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.
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.
(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.
[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.)
(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.
(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.
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.
"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.
Enough already! Let me skippeth to the endeth. Here are the last words in the book:
THE FUTURE EXISTS
FIRST IN IMAGINATION,
THEN IN WILL,
THEN IN REALITY
And Mr. Wilson, it's good to hear you're doing well!