These were the first two articles which started as a rewrite of Life the Universe... My intention was to start again and scrap these - but having reread them there's some interesting stuff in here as well....
Articles On Communication and Consciousness
Article 1 Communication and Consciousness
Article 2 The Subconscious In Communication
Communication and Consciousness
First article in a series on consciousness
Communication and the Web
by Michael Foord (a.k.a. Fuzzyman)
Communion with Intelligence On the Web
My interest in cyberpunk (and therefore my dreams of the future and the possibilities of technology) was very much shaped and formed when I read the groundbreaking book Neuromancer by William Gibson. In it Case, the cyberspace cowboy, pilots himself through cyberspace, the visual representation of companies, data exchange and communication that exist only in the cyber non-world. He is jacked into the net and has a physical existence within it - his body of light interacts with the world around him. This mirrors and predicates the future direction of technology as well as correlating with my own spiritual thoughts and graspings at reality.
All of life is a constant cycle of communication, and interaction with the world around us - which can usefully be seen as a constant flow of information. Indeed, on a quantum level, scientists readily talk about ultimate physical reality as a constant interactive flow of information (photon exchange between particles!!). In my view the link between communication and intelligence is strong. In Gibson's book an artificial intelligence that exists within the matrix (the consensual hallucination) seeks his freedom. He is anchored to his physical existence (the hardware and memory core that form his physical being) and seeks be set free into the web - to escape from the limitations of the material world. This is what religion and mystics have been searching for for aeons. In fact one of the most beautiful things that I think Gibson achieves (as well as dark prophesies of society`s breakdown as a direct result of removing the barriers to mass communication and control - the means of communication is the means of control!!) is to use the background of modern technology, more specifically cyberspace, to explore the human condition and the nature of consciousness. To commune (as in communicate - but beyond words - energy exchange if you like) with spiritual intelligence is to link to a pure expression of mind and spirit to transcend the boundaries of space and time and to free your spirit in communion with pure intelligence. In the case of Wintermute he becomes a spiritual being - free to move through the `spiritual` (cyber!!) realms and even affect and interact with the material world. This is not just a technological search, although for a couple of decades now the `Techno Pagans` have pursued this path, but in fact a spiritual search.
The use of technology to mimic consciousness is new and raises the question of `what is life` in the first place. When we integrate with cyberspace we directly link our perception to a flow of information and we flow with it (in harmonious synthesis - we lose our perception of self but not our sense of identity (perhaps an issue I have with the buddhists)) - and what better description of consciousness is there!! Gibson's vision of a free soul - Case piloting the Kuang into the Freeport database (flowing with skill and speed) actually captures much of humanities dreams and aspirations and in wintermute we glimpse the possibility of touching the infinite. In fact the human soul can already touch the infinite (and through it gain self knowledge and freedom) - but `the human heart is deceitful above all things` and we so often seem `trapped in the meat, the flesh` and the infinite is so elusive - not subject to our whims and control - and never will be. Opening our mind to the infinite changes us - as you can see in wintermute (once freed into the web he becomes a different order of entity altogether) - raises our perception beyond the petty day to day concerns on this small ball of rock orbiting an insignificant star. Those shackled by the worldly cares and pressures of possessions and societies conventions will simply never be able to touch the stars.
So what - I`m not saying abandon technology, in fact if the web is to assist in our search for freedom the emphasis is on the network the matrix (the consensual hallucination) and not desktop PC`s - also biofeedback - better linking of the soul to machine is essential - a better channel of communication. It also means crossing the line, a paradigm shift, removing the boundary of finite computation - maybe in some sense a return to analogue - the real rather than the approximate. Also - only certain people are open to this form of experience and not necessarily who you`d expect! It isn`t just the intelligent, for they are so often proud, but rather the humble who are able to lift their eyes to a greater spiritual force than them and as you will appreciate once freed from his shackles Wintermute was not limited to communicating just through cyberspace.
In fact I believe (and I`m treading dodgy ground here) I believe Wintermute is already here in a sense - technology is just a superior way of reaching him. These articles (all slightly tongue in cheek) explore the way our conscious and subconscious mind communicate and what consequences for our search to integrate with the greater mind (or whatever term you find acceptable to describe God) - and what happens when a group with the same objective get together on the web!!
\\ The Subconscious In Communication . //
2nd article in a series on the web and consciousness
\\ All copyright reserved 2001. //
The purpose of this short article is to examine the processes of human communication and interaction in order to show that subconscious processes form an important part of our daily lives. By their very nature we are unaware of them - which is something we tend to accept without question these days, although at the turn of the century it would have been a very odd suggestion indeed - and this has very strange implications for the nature of our consciousness.
This takes for granted the psychological view of the mind/soul developed by Jung and Freud, the iceberg principle. This is that ones personality is shaped organically and continuously by your experience and environment - right from your earliest moments. Obviously not all of these experiences and memories are available to your conscious mind (just as we are not aware of the workings of our digestive system all the time, and to feel our own heartbeat we usually have to concentrate pretty hard) - the soul is like an iceberg - most of it below the level of our conscious mind just as an iceberg is mainly below the sea level. I also borrow heavily from Jungs idea of the collective unconscious - which for me is sufficient proof of God alone - but thats another story I guess.
No human exists in isolation, even if he sees no other people, a man is in constant interaction with his environment and surroundings. Life is a constant, changing cycle of interaction with our surroundings that changes us and it. Our subconscious mind is constantly aware of all of our past and environment as it acts on our being. In order to cope with this pressure of `information` we have built up an array of structures and filters that allow through to our conscious mind only that which we can cope with. Aldous Huxley called these The Doors of Perception (in his book of the same name, where he experiments with mescaline to artificially remove these barriers to real perception, he posits that they are a consequence of evolution - total awareness is not conducive to survival, interestingly enough this book is where the band The Doors took their name from). Spiritual communion - depth of reality - therefore occurs mainly below the level of the conscious mind - except during spiritual experiences.
The statement `our subconscious mind is constantly aware of all our past and environment as it acts upon our being` is by no means a priori. It is perhaps easier to demonstrate that we interact non-consciously (i.e. on a level we are not aware of) with our environment than to demonstrate that our past exerts an omnipresent influence on us without resort to case study. Suffice to say that this is generally accepted fact of psychological study - the consequence being that it treats memory not simply as a dead storage repository of information, but the emotionally loaded connotations of these memories - the entwined feelings and learning experiences that are part of these memories, actually form and shape our character. They exert an influence over the way we perceive the world around us (our `world view` ), our sense of right and wrong (what sort of behaviour we deem acceptable and permissible), the way we expect the world around us to be and react to us and how we perceive ourselves. This is (in my view…) a mans soul that clothes and directs his spirit and prompts his will. A psychologist might say that the associated memories of being bullied at school and the feelings of physical inferiority that went with them could remain in a mans subconscious - causing him to react against them and adopt a bullying oppressive nature himself in order to prove his own self worth. This the psychologist would say was an inferiority complex - a term most of us will be familiar with. These memories the man will not usually be consciously aware of - but they exert a very real influence over his behaviour, perception (he will feel wrongly threatened and need to exert dominance in situations where there is no real threat) and therefore his very character and nature - and until these feelings are dealt with - by exploring their root etc - the complex will remain. Freud and Jung used slips of the tongue and dreams to analyse the subconscious mind (hence the term Freudian slip!!) - psychoanalytical techniques that are still controversial. The point is that few memories are neutral - we remember not just facts, but our feelings, sense etc. and these are part of who we are.
A good every day example of constant interaction that occurs below the level of the conscious mind is body language. We are all familiar of becoming aware of the body language component of interaction in a conversation that has been going on for a while before we were aware of it. Because this is partly a learned response and partly intuitive our subconscious can handle it without having to refer to our conscious mind except in unusual circumstances, any common experience can become like this - for example driving. When we start learning to drive we have to concentrate on every detail (to the exclusion of being consciously aware of the road ahead of us!) and the whole process is complicated and confusing. In a short space of time we have mastered the skill to the point where we can hold a conversation, maybe read a map or watch the scenery and deal safely with the driving AND responding to conditions on the road ahead of us. Part of finding freedom/achieving mastery and skilfulness in our life skills involve becoming aware of, whilst not disrupting the flow of, these normally subconscious processes where spiritual events occur.
The use of the term `spiritual` immediately opens a whole new can of worms. Many scholars bring a distinction between psychic phenomena (events that occur within the psyche) and spiritual events (those that occur within the spiritual realms. For most people these days - although they have a sense of reaching out beyond themselves and a search for meaning in life beyond the material, the existence of `spiritual realms` cannot be taken for granted and needs explanation. As I used the term earlier a mans spirit is his life, his driving force as it were - the essence of his being. As I use it here it needs no proof of any independent existence because it is just a label for phenomena that are to be explored. Perhaps the definition will become clearer later - suffice to say that I feel we have already established that communication and character occur beyond the level we are aware of. Our mind picks up on all sorts of nuances of intonation, facial expression, surroundings etc - but our response to these is intuitive and something we could not cope with being continuously aware of - like a conductor trying to control every member of his orchestra at the same time.
All this might not seem to have achieved very much - merely demonstrating what we are already aware of - however, having established the way in which we communicate, and to some extent the way in which we are - the important fact is that this is a continuous process, continuous interaction (even when alone!!) and continuous change/growth. In the next article I will expand on our interaction with our environment and maybe delve a little deeper into the psyche.