Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Prometheus Rising chapter 2

Robert Anton Wilson
Prometheus Rising
Chapter 2
Hardware and Software:
The Brain And It's Programs

We, as a species, exist in a world in which exist a myriad of data points. Upon these Matrices of points we superimpose a structure and the world makes sense to us. The pattern of the structure originates within our biological and sociological properties.

Persinger and Lafreniere,
Space-Time Transients and Unusual Events

We will, throughout this book, consider the human brain a kind of bio-computer -- an electro -colloidal computer, as distinct from the electonic or solid-state computers which exist outside our heads.
Please note carefully and long remember that we have not said the human brain "is" a computer. The Aristotelian idea that to understand something you must know what it "is" has been abandoned in one science after another, for the pragmatic reason that the simple word "is" introduces so many metaphysical assumptions that we can argue forever about them. In the most advanced sciences, such as mathmatical physics, nobody talks about what anything "is" anymore. They talk about what MODEL (or map) can best be used to understand whatever we are investigating.
In general, this scientific habit of avoiding "is" can be profitably extended to all areas of thought. Thus, when you read anywhere that A "is" B, it will clarify matters if you translate this as "A can be considered, or modelled by, B."
The brain appears to be made up of matter in electro-colloidal suspension (protoplasm).
Colloids are pulled together, toward a condition of gel, by their surface tensions. This is because surface tensions pull all glue-like substances together.
Colloids are also conversly, pushed apart, toward a condition of sol, by their electrical charges. This is because their electrical charges are similar, and similar electrical charges always repel eachother.
In the equilibrium between gel and sol, the colloidal suspension maintains its continuity and life continues. Move the suspension too far toward gel, or too far toward sol, and life ends.
Any chemical that gets into the brain, changes the gel-sol balance, and "consciousness" is accordingly influenced. Thus, potatoes are, like LSD, "psychedelic" -- in a milder way. The changes in consciousness when one moves from a vegetarian diet to an omnivorous diet, or vice-versa, are also "psychedelic."
Since "What the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves," all of our idea are "psychedelic". Even without expirementing with diet or drugs, whatever you think you should see, you WILL see-- unless it is physically impossible in this universe.

Every computer consists of two aspects, known as hardware and software. (software here includes information.)
The hardwre in a solid-state computer is concrete and localized, consisting of central processing unti, display, keyboard, disk drive etc. -- all the parts you can drag into radio shack for repair if the computer is malfunctioning.
The software consists of programs that can exist in many forms, including the totally abstract. A program can be "in" the computer in the sense that it is recorded in the CPU or on a disk which is hitched up to the computer. A program can also exist on a piece of parer, if I invented it myself, or in a manual, if it is a standard program; in these cases, it is not "in" the computer but can be put "in" at any time. But a program can be even more tenuos than that; it can exist only in my head, If I have never written it down, or if I have used it once and erased it.
The hardware is more "real" than the softwar in that you can always locate it in space-time-- on the other hand, the software is more "real" in the sense that you can smash the hardware back to dust and the software still exists, and can "materialize" or "manifest" again in a different computer. (any speculations about reicarnation at this point are the responsibility of the reader, not the author.)

Of course, if consciousness consisted of nothing but this undifferentiated tapioca of timeless spaceless software, we would have no individuality, no center, no Self.
We want to know, then, how out of this universal software ocean a specific person emerges.
What the thinker thinks, the Prover proves.
Because the human-brain, like other animal brains, acts as an electro-colloidal computer, not a solid-state computer, it follows the same laws as other animal brains. That is, the programs get into the brain, as elecro-chemical bonds, in discrete quantum stages.

Each set of programs consists of therr basic parts:
1. 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.
2. conditioning. These are the programs built upon our imprints. They are looser and fairly easy to change with counter-conditioning
3.Learning. This is even looser and "softer" than conditioning. In general, the primordial imprint can always over-rule any subsequent conditioning or learning. An imprint is a species of software that has become built-in hardware, being impressed on the tender neurons when they are peculiarly open and vulnerable.
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.

Before the first imprint, the consciousness of the infant is "formless and void" -- like the universe at the beginning of Genesis, or the descriptions of unconditioned consciousness in the mystic traditions. As soon as the first imprint is made, structure emerges out of the creative void. The growing mind, alas, becomes trapped within the structure.
Each successive imprint complicates the software which programs our experience and which we experience as "reality."
Conditioning and learning build firther networks onto this bedrock of imprinted software. The total structure of this brain circuitry makes up our map of the world. It is what our Thinker thinks, and our Prover mechanically fits all incoming signals to the limitations of the map.

Following Dr. Timothy Leary (with a few modifications) we shall divide the brain into eight circuits for convenience, in any case, the map is not the territory.
Four of the circuits are antique and conservative, they exist in everybody
1. The Oral Bio-survival Circuit. This is imprinted by the mother or the first mothering object conditionedand conditioned by subsequentnourishment or threat. It is primarily concerned with sucking, feeding, cuddling, and body security. It retreats mechanically from the noxious or predatory -- or from anything associated (by imprint or conditioning) with the noxious or predatory.
2. The anal emotional-territorial circuit. This is imprinted in the "toddling" stage when the infant rises up, walks about and begins to struggle for power within the family structure. This mostly mammalian circuit processes territorial rules, emotional games, or cons, pecking order and rituals of domination or submission.
3. The time-binding semantic cicuit. This is imprinted and conditioned by human artifactsand symbol systems. It "handles" and "packages" the environment, classifying everything according to the local reality tunnel. Invention, calculation, prediction and transmitting signals across generations are it's functions.
4. The "moral" socio-sexual circuit. This is imprinted by the first orgasm-mating experiences at puberty and is conditioned by tribal taboos. It processes sexual pleasure, local definitions of "right" and "wrong," reproduction, adult-parental personality (sex role) and nurture of the young.
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 polotics) 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.
5. The holistic Neurosomatic circuit. This is imprinted by ecstatic experience, via biological or chemical yogas. It processes neurosomatic ("mind-body") feedback loops, somatic-sensory bliss, feeling "high," "faith-healing," etc..
6. The Collective Neurogenetic circuit. This is imprinted by advanced yogas (bio-chemical-electrical stresses). It processes DNA-RNA- brain feedback systems and is "collective" in that it contains and has access to the whole evolutionary "script," past and future. Here dwell Jung's Collective Unconscious -- Gods, Goddesses, Demons, Hairy Dwarfs and other personifications of the DNA programs (instincts) that govern us.
7. The Metaprogramming Circuit. This is imprinted by very advanced yogas. It consists, in modern terms, of cybernetic consciousness, reprogramming and reimprinting all other circuits, even reprogrammingitself, making possible conscious choice between alternative universes or reality tunnels.
8. The Non-local QUantum Circuit. This is imprinted by Shock, by "near death" or "clinical death" experience, OOBE's (out-of-body-experiences), by trans-time perceptions (pre-cognition), by trans-space visions (esp), etc. It tunes the brain into non-local quantum communication system suggested by physicists such as Bohm, Walker, Sarfatti, bell, etc

these circuits will be explained in detail as we proceed.. to be continued

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