Sunday, 28 March 2010

Consciousness haunted:

an epidemic story from a Heraclitean fugue

Sometimes, it happens. To think whether we are awake or not. To think it seems we are playing someone's script. To feel the scenario we are living in is incomplete.

But no matter how delirious our worst fears are, there is always a way to put together the pieces, isn't it? From Cartesius to Matrix, from Kant to transcendental meditation, it's always a struggle to either reaffirm the robustness of our mind horizon or the necessity to overcome the limit. This battle is typically human. No matter how close are other creatures to us: the possible inclusion of other living being is out of the question: not even our beloved ape mates can be listed in these files. Gorillas and chimpanzees, though very likely are minded, don't suffer of the limit-horizon problem.
The limit-horizon problem basically speaks of the mind as necessarily limited stage to be acted or a artificial barrier, arbitrarily posed.
Horizon way: we can think only because there is an horizon, whose beyond is simply a non-sense. A bit like the origin of axes on a Cartesian diagram: the zero in the middle is the horizon, but is pointless to try “to go beyond”.

Limit way: it speaks of a visual impediment: we see the panoramic view of our narrow valley, but if we climb over the mountains (barrier), we'll see a new extension of land, our over the limit promised land.
We speak and sometimes take a clear position on the limit-horizon, but rarely we spend enough time discussing the assumption of the problem. And the problem is clearly inside the conscious reasoning. To clarify possible misunderstanding, here consciousness is the cultural, linguistic dimension, produced by human minds. Specifically produced by human minds.
So, what is the structure of this product?
Our brains, apelike, are plugged in a virtual environment. This environment overheats our ape brains and trigger a powerful imaginarium. Indeed this powerful imaginarium feeds back the virtual environment. That's why we can project our delirious, fantastic, inventions (the “we” is a very collective term here). One of the first outcome (and constantly updated) is actually the consciousness. We couldn't think to ourselves without a self... It would be very difficult to require sophisticated collaboration amongst selves without consciousness....But this is actually an obsession. Our original psychological sin. We are obsessed with consciousness, because we are obsessed by consciousness.
Our ape brains are haunted by consciousness, a spirit produced in an overheated brainstorming. Normal primate bodies are forced to stage a show of consciousness. And the way to keep it on going, is simple: narrative contagion. To give a character life, you need to transmit the narrative torch. You need to train an ape brain to be a consciousness, through homeopathic doses of characters.
But what are characters? They are brought along side the centuries, like dead ancestors. Indeed nobody has been “a first character”. Only the sedimentation of narratives, step by step, built the possibility to be trained as a character: you need a stage made by hundreds of anonymous failed characters, before someone finally could act. A layer of narratives, traditions and habits of dead characters finally produced autonomous self: this is civilization. We know how is it to be a person through imitation. And after the imitation, we react as a person and we'll give others a model to pursue. That is, the infection spreads and everyone has is own consciousness infection. We spread the myth of being conscious, from the lessons of dead characters: we learn how to be alive consciousness, from dead ones. We learn how to be alive in a civilization, being the parody of the dead ones.
Our natural primate selfless mind, has be invaded by the narrative civilization ghost: consciousness. So it is that we are haunted by this spirit. The point is not trying to accept it or to overcome it, but realizing we are the process of this haunting: we are the ghosts.

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