PSYCHE/SOMA

All this curious development of the sixth century B.C. is extremely important for psychology. For with this wrenching of psyche = life over to psyche = soul, there came other changes to balance it as the enormous inner tensions of a lexicon always do. The word soma had meant corpse or deadness, the opposite of psyche as livingness. So now, as psyche becomes soul, so soma remains as its opposite, becoming body. And dualism, the supposed separation of soul and body, has begun.

But the matter does not stop there. In Pindar, Heraclitus, and others around 500 B.C., psyche and nous begin to coalesce. It is now the conscious subjective mind-space and its self that is opposed to the material body. Cults spring up about this new wonder-provoking division between psyche and soma. It both excites and seems to explain the new conscious experience, thus reinforcing its very existence. The conscious psyche is imprisoned in the body as in a tomb. It becomes an object of wide-eyed controversy. Where is it? And the locations in the body or out-side it vary. What is it made of? Water (Thales), blood, air (Anaximenes), breath (Xenophanes), fire (Heraclitus), and so on, as the science of it all begins in a morass of pseudoquestions.

So dualism, that central difficulty in this problem of consciousness, begins its huge haunted career through history, to be firmly set in the firmament of thought by Plato, moving through Gnosticism into the great religions, up through the arrogant assurances of Descartes to become one of the great spurious quandaries of modern psychology.

At the beginning, we noted that archaeologists, by brushing the dust of the ages from around the broken shards of pottery from the period of the Dorian invasions, have been able to reveal continuities and changes from site to site, and so to prove that a complex series of migrations was occurring. In a sense, we have been doing the same thing with language throughout this chapter. We have taken broken-off bits of vocabulary, those that came to refer to some kind of mental function, and by their contexts from text to text, attempted to demonstrate that a huge complex series of changes in mentality was going on during these obscure periods that followed the Dorian invasions in Greece.

Let no one think these are just word changes. Word changes are concept changes and concept changes are behavioral changes. The entire history of religions and of politics and even of science stands shrill witness to that. Without words like soul, liberty, or truth, the pageant of this human condition would have been filled with different roles, different climaxes. And so with the words we have designated as preconscious hypostases, which by the generating process of metaphor through these few centuries unite into the operator of consciousness.

I have now completed that part of the story of Greek consciousness that I intended to tell. More of it could be told, how the two nonstimulus-bound hypostases come to overshadow the rest, how nous and psyche come to be almost interchangeable in later writers, such as Parmenides and Democritus, and take on even new metaphor depths with the invention of logos and of the forms of truth, virtue, and beauty.

But that is another task. The Greek subjective conscious mind, quite apart from its pseudostructure of soul, has been born out of song and poetry. From here it moves out into its own history, into the narratizing introspections of a Socrates and the spatialized classifications and analyses of an Aristotle, and from there into Hebrew, Alexandrian, and Roman thought. And then into the history of a world which, because of it, will never be the same again.

Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.

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Podcast number 72

Trust The Wizards to play some Adam John Miller: ‘Rodin’ @ 29:40 and subsequent chat about Terence McKenna’s stoned ape theory. Keep it Real.

TRUST THE WIZARDS

A surprisingly happy wizard does his best to cheer up the rest of the team in their first proper show of the year.

3-r-24io-t-1000-fa22a8d8bb-1471426929

Things really get rolling with a quite literally colourful quiz, detailed reviews of new albums from both Smug Brothers and Eugene Twist, and there’s even time for an exclusive new track from Schizo Fun Addict, oh, and another of Chorizo Garbanzo’s hazily recalled tales to catch up on some sleep through.

To listen and download just click here or do the soundcloud thing down there.

Some of the physicality we played in this show:

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THE HIDDEN PERSUADER

“…Most unsettling of all is this: the content of television is not a vision but a manufactured data stream that can be sanitized to “protect” or impose cultural values. Thus we are confronted with an addictive and all-pervasive drug that delivers an experience whose message is whatever those who deal the drug wish it to be. Could anything provide a more fertile ground for fostering fascism and totalitarianism than this? In the United States, there are many more televisions than households, the average television set is on six hours a day, and the average person watches more than five hours a day— nearly one-third their waking time. Aware as we all are of these simple facts, we seem unable to react to their implications. Serious study of the effects of television on health and culture has only begun recently. Yet no drug in history has so quickly or completely isolated the entire culture of its users from contact with reality.

And no drug in history has so completely succeeded in remaking in its own image the values of the culture that it has infected. Television is by nature the dominator drug par excellence. Control of content, uniformity of content, repeatability of content make it inevitably a tool of coersion, brainwashing, and manipulation. Television induces a trance state in the viewer that is the necessary precondition for brainwashing. As with all other drugs and technologies, television’s basic character cannot be changed; television is no more reformable than is the technology that produces automatic assault rifles.

Television came along at precisely the right time from the point of view of the dominator elite. The nearly one hundred and fifty years of synthetic drug epidemics that began in 1806 had led to disgust at the spectacle of human degradation and spiritual cannibalism that institutional marketing of drugs created. In the same way that slavery eventually, when no longer convenient, became odious in the eyes of the very institutions that had created it, the abuse of drugs eventually triggered a backlash against this particular form of piratical capitalism. Hard drugs were made illegal. Of course underground markets then flourished. But drugs as stated instruments of national policy had been discred ited. There would continue to be opium wars, instances of governments coercing other governments and peoples to produce or buy drugs— but in the future these wars would be dirty and secret, they would be “covert.”

As the intelligence agencies that arose in the wake of World War II moved to take up their “deep cover” positions as the masterminds of the international narcotics cartels, the popular mind was turning on to television. Flattening, editing, and simplifying, television did its job and created a postwar American culture of the Ken-and-Barbie variety. The children of Ken and Barbie briefly broke out of the television intoxication in the mid-sixties through the use of hallucinogens. “Oops,” responded the dominators, and they quickly made psychedelics illegal and halted all research. A double dose of TV therapy plus cocaine was ordered up for the errant hippies, and they were quickly cured and turned into consumption-oriented yuppies.

Only a recalcitrant few escaped this leveling of values.” Nearly everyone learned to love Big Brother. And these few who don’t are still clucked over by the dominator culture each time it compulsively scratches in the barnyard dust of its puzzlement over “what happened in the Sixties.”..”

Terence McKenna, Food of the Gods.
Read the whole book here.

FOOD OF THE GODS

HUMAN COGNITION
All the unique characteristics and preoccupations of human beings can be summed up under the heading of cognitive activities: dance, philosophy, painting, poetry, sport, meditation, erotic fantasy, politics, and ecstatic self-intoxication. We are truly Homo sapiens, the thinking animal; our acts are all a product of the dimension that is uniquely ours, the dimension of cognitive activity. Of thought and emotion, memory and anticipation. Of Psyche.
From observing the ayahuasca-using people of the Upper Amazon, it became very clear to me that shamanism is often intuitively guided group decision making. The shamans decide when the group should move or hunt or make war. Human cognition is an adaptive response that is profoundly flexible in the way it allows us to manage what in other species are genetically programmed behaviors.
We alone live in an environment that is conditioned not only by the biological and physical constraints to which all species are subject but also by symbols and language. Our human environment is conditioned by meaning. And meaning lies in the collective mind of the group.
Symbols and language allow us to act in a dimension that is “supranatural”-outside the ordinary activities of other forms of organic life. We can actualize our cultural assumptions, alter and shape the natural world in the pursuit of ideological ends and according to the internal model of the world that our symbols have empowered us to create. We do this through the elaboration of ever more effective, and hence ever more destructive, artifacts and technologies, which we feel compelled to use.
Symbols allow us to store information outside of the physical brain. This creates for us a relationship to the past very different from that of our animal companions. Finally, we must add to any analysis of the human picture the notion of self-directed modification of activity. We are able to modify our behavior patterns based on a symbolic analysis of past events, in other words, through history. Through our ability to store and recover information as images and written records, we have created a human environment as much conditioned by symbols and languages as by biological and environmental factors.
Continue reading “FOOD OF THE GODS”