On Thu, 27 Jan 2000 20:39:43 -0500,
Robert Owen <email@example.com> writes, in the thread about
"Damien, spawn of Satan" or "The woman who couldn't handle the truth":
>Questions:  what, specifically, is endangered by this thought?; 
>what is it in the conscious organization that is viewed as irreconcilable
>with this idea, such that if the unconscious correlate were to gain
>conscious ascendancy, any coexistence would be impossible and the
>current conscious ego-constiuent would be driven into oblivion?
>As a parenthetical issue, if we assume that the threat entails, among
>other things, a potential identity-crisis, what is the woman so identified
>with that its loss is anticipated as catastrophic?
"unconscious correlate", "identity crisis": Bingo!
Robert has homed in on the crux of the matter with dazzling precision. If
one combines this with the inbred machinery of human social behavior
elaborated by Greg Burch in his "Monkey God" post--beautiful piece of work,
Greg-- we have an almost complete picture.
I would add only this: the human infant arrives preconfigured to receive
its meme set, which establishes its identity, to itself and to others.
This identity appears to have so potent a survival value--evolved in an era
before cognition--that people will go ballistic, resort to bloody violence,
to protect ideas which, when examined dispassionately are found to be
irrational(dogma), or arbitrary(speech patterns, dress styles), not to
When abstract thought emerged in the mammalian cortex, those memes found a
very sweet little spot to call home, a fortress with built in 24/7
gladiator at the battlements. The rational "I", meanwhile, remains a fly
on the wall or, like Polonious, clueless, puffed up with self-importance,
and out of his depth. Keeper of the library for the beast, his master.
But even there, though he keeps them, he is not yet master of "his own" ideas.
We modern day intelligent life forms have an abundance of "culture"--all of
history, art, and literature--to anchor our tempestuous little drama in a
comfortingly familiar context. I keep thinking of how the Greeks must have
felt, being the first (perhaps) to awaken to self-awareness. How
gloriously astonished they must have been, to know themselves for the first
time. And then to discover that they were toys of the gods (their
passions), in a passion-driven universe. Talk about your "shit happens!"
Forget about Prometheus, Faust, and Dr. Frankenstein. That was myth (or
literature). We stand poised to REALLY AND TRULY screw around with the
fundamentals. God! am I jazzed!
Read Julian Jaynes' "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the
Bicameral Mind". Jaynes may not have gotten it quite right, but the
question of the sequence of events leading from preconsciousness to
consciousness is majorly fascinating, and fits right into the puzzle of the
emergent synaptotronic noumenon decoder. Enjoy.
Short of reaching out with a defibrillator set on high, clamping the
paddles to her temples, and electrically erasing her meme set, I don't see
any way of persuading "the woman who couldn't handle the truth" to see it
your way. But, being a semi-professional wiseass, I can think of several
fun ways to try.
First off, charge admission. If they pay for it, they'll believe, or
they'll believe they were ripped off. Either way it's easier on you.
You can give freebies to the true believers, who, filling the hall, can
then, mob-like, hound and menace any dissenters. They may not believe, but
at least they won't mouth off. The silence of repression will seem like
unanimous support. Peer pressure can do wonders with the cognitively
Give her a bumper sticker that says: "Call me Wormfood!" (Or, the Herman
Melville version, "Call me fishmeal!")
I could go on, but, hey, I'm not gettin' paid either.
As always, with love,
Best, Jeff Davis
"Everything's hard till you know how to do it."
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