Mar 3, 2013

Modern Mythology: Star Wars, The Matrix & An Ayn Rand Style Rant

First a little on Star Wars...

Moyers & Campbell on Star Wars’ Mythological Influences: In this clip from The Power of Myth — Bill Moyers’ groundbreaking conversations with mythologist Joseph Campbell — Campbell draws parallels between Star Wars and mythological themes of heroism, spiritual adventure, and the actions of man. Released in 1988, The Power of Myth was one of the most popular TV series in the history of public television, and continues to inspire new audiences.

Star Wars & The Matrix ARE Examples Of Modern Mythology

In Joseph Campbell's book Creative Mythology he shows through examples how similar ideas and constellations of ideas, in our age, are reinterpreted and retold by various people in different ways.

Video: Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth (1988)

The following are links to pod-casts of an interview that Bill Moyers did with Joseph Campbell a year before he died:

The Matrix and Star Wars are modern retellings of age old cultural truths (i.e. views of the world that many different cultures seem to hold in common). Which is why they can capture attention and spawn a whole culture of their own.

"The spiritual elements in the Matrix films are similar to those in The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars in that they're vital to our understanding of the films and what they are trying to say about ultimate questions," says Greg Garrett, co-author of The Gospel Reloaded: Exploring Spirituality and Faith in The Matrix. "There are a number of comparisons to Christ, not least in that Neo is killed and comes back to life."

For those less religiously inclined, the movie had plenty of literary references, including Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; Morpheus offers to show Neo "just how deep the rabbit hole goes." Comic book fans were quick to notice the influence of Captain America illustrator Jack Kirby in several action sequences.

Here are some mythological references in The Matrix Trilogy:

"You can read as deeply into the movies as you want and take something new each time," says Moss, who reprises her role as Trinity, Neo's love interest and a soldier in the war to protect Zion, the last bastion of humanity. "You can sit back and enjoy the action, or you can watch it five times in a row to get all of the religious references."

And there are plenty. Matrix made its mark with special effects, namely "bullet-time," the slow-motion trick in which the camera twirls 360 degrees around its subject to turn fistfights into kung fu ballets. But the film was really an amalgam of religious faiths disguised as an action flick.

The themes and references may seem lofty, but it's a time-tested formula for Hollywood, which has embraced mythological and archetypal figures since the heyday of the Western.

Some Modern "Pop" Mythology Parallels In The Matrix

Morpheus On The State Of Humanity 
(basically, 'humanity is asleep')

Morpheus seems to be an archetypal representative of the God of Dreams/Sleep from Ancient Greek mythology. There is an eastern version of this in something called "Sufism". 

Here is an example from an old fiction book using stories from that genre: 
Gilgamesh fell asleep, as stated, while Utnapishtim is yet completing his instructions to remain awake, and the duration of time Gilgamesh sleeps is six days and seven nights - the exact amount of time he was instructed to remain awake. Gilgamesh sleeps for the duration of the test. If we consider, allegorically, his inability to remain awake, then we can interpret it as representative of the state of sleep in which many of us live our lives. In other worse, Gilgamesh is insufficiently conscious to meet the requirements of Utnapishtim's test. This correlation of sleep with a state of relative unconsciousness, or of lapses in consciousness, can be recognized in other literature  Homer thematizes the state of sleep as being a condition of dangerous vulnerability. The Gospels repeatedly instruct us: "Awake":"Sleep not"; "be on watch." Christ's disciples, we are told, "fell asleep" as he sprayed for the last time. Among the sayings of the prophet Mohammed is: "Sleep is the brother of death." And the same theme is central to the teaching of Sufism. "Humanity is asleep, concerned only with what is useless  living, in a wrong world," wrote the Sufi master Hkim Sanai, as his analysis of the human condition. Gurdjieff's body of thought, connected as it is with Sufism, is built upon the premise that the majority of humanity remains asleep in a state of unfulfillment. "Man's possibilities are very great," he wrote; "but nothing can be attained in sleep."

The "ones" trained by "Morpheus" can do stuff like this (metaphors):

The Matrix Reloaded Agent Smith Fight

The Matrix Reloaded Vampire Chateau Fight Scene - Perfect Fight by Neo

Note: Often, in Christian Mythology there is only "one". In other mythologies others can walk the path as well. So while in Star Wars there are many Jedi ... in The Matrix there is only one 1. So at the end of the Matrix when Neo is taken over by the antagonist and then the machine does a wipe out... that would be a modern equivalent of entering the mainstream world. It seems that on the extremes of society (or in politics) once you are in the mainstream you are automatically corrupt/useless, unless you are a part of the group that any particular person already believes in. By entering the mainstream media you also enter a matrix of sorts and leave another matrix. 

But of course, actual problems with mainstream media make it tough to help the paranoid when there is more than enough reasons to justify their fears. 

An Ayn Rand Style RANT:

‘Humanity is asleep . . . .’Asleep -a locked mind- a mind in chains. To live in the mind.

            What can I understand from the world around me?  That I know nothing, what I have thought I know may be absolutely wrong. 

            I have been told about that civilization began in the fertile crescent around 4000 B. C.  The first civilizations popped up in Mesopotamia and Egypt.  When I say “popped up,” I mean popped up.  Egyptian culture, system of writing (hieroglyphics), the book of the dead, agricultural methods, all existed from the beginning of its civilization.  There seems to have been no development period.

            There are other things the history books do not explain.  Why are myths of the flood similar throughout the world from the Middle East to the Americas when there was supposed to be no boat that could sail the oceans.  Why are geologists saying that the erosion patterns on the Sphinx are rain erosion patterns, not from the desert sand which could only have occurred between 13000 and 7000 BC  Why is there a map drawn in 1513 by a general in Constantinople showing the coasts with geographical detail of East Africa, west South America to northern Antarctica with its longitude and latitude perfect; when longitude wasn't discovered until the late 1800s and Antarctica wasn't discovered in 1818.  How could the map show the contours of the land beneath the ice when it’s been covered since at least 4000 BC which was confirmed in 1949 by a seismic survey. 

Why do five such maps exist showing Antarctica in different stages of glaciation.  Why are the pyramids laid out in the exact configuration of Orion’s belt to the date 10, 950 BC.

            When the Mayans said they didn't build their structures and the Incans said they didn't build their city, but settled in ruins that were already old, why do our historians say they built them.  When engineers say they do not understand how the pyramids were built and that the idea of pulling huge blocks of stone across desert to build the pyramid as it is built is impossible; why do our history books say they were.

            The Egyptians say the pyramids are a temple made by Osiris for his wife Isis, why do our historians say it was built as a tomb when nobody has ever been and no concrete evidence to link it to the Pharaoh  exists.

            The only answer I can think of is that we, in the human race, do not want to look at our surroundings with open eyes.  We want to explain them.  Explaining our surroundings gives us a feeling of security that we know where exactly we are, when very simply, we don’t.

            The Egyptologists have three main reasons for dating the pyramids as they do:

            1. They found a pot from 4,200 AD laying next to it
            2. Some archaeologist found inaccurate hieroglyph scribbling in a hard to reach tunnel in the pyramid
            3. There is a sign in front of the plaza saying "Khufr" on it (who was the Pharaoh of Egypt)... but these people would put their insignia everywhere. Why not on the Pyramids for everyone to see? 

Is this giving the evidence justice?  Justice is truly blind when we can’t do justice to the appearance of our surroundings.  What would happen if we brought these facts to light? brought this knowledge to the public - to the masses (public tv with discussions as that's the only thing that gets heard)- tell them that we truly do not know how these objects came about.  We do not know how certain vases were made as we do not have the means or ability to carve those vases out of the material it was carved with our present technology.

            Some could say I am putting forth a hypothesis of  aliens, some will say a lost civilization - like Atlantis which Plato mentions in some of his dialogues.  I am not putting forth any theory, nor do I care to explain this phenomenon.  I just want to know why this information isn't public knowledge.

            We came into this world as babies, not knowing anything about the world around us.  Everything we think we know has been told to us.  By our parents, by friends, by teachers, by society.  Very few have actually bothered to question society.  Some do and are excluded from society   Many try to explain history and science to fit their beliefs which they have inherited and believe are true.  Very few are willing to start from scratch  and determine what they can truly know and what may just be an inheritance of beliefs going back to when main roamed the earth hunting for berries to eat.  Some date the age of the earth from the Bible because their parents and society said the Bible was infallible.  When geologists proved their dating wrong by a few billion years, it was completely ignored because they don’t want to let go of their beliefs.  This is just one example among many.  We have chained ourselves to our beliefs and refuse to let them go to experience the world around us.  To begin as aware, conscious beings, to begin accepting our lack of knowledge, to begin from the beginning,   Using science, history and religion as guides to understand our surroundings where we are and what we are.

            Science is exploring the world around us and tries to explain the universe based on observation and experiment.  That science can be clouded by beliefs is not doubted as we have evidence from history to show it.  Then there are occurrences in history which are not easy to explain- miracles-mystics who talk about an absolute reality which can be perceived.  Our religious scriptures and writings of those who may have perceived this reality can guide us providing we look at it with an open mind and an open heart.  To understand scriptures, it is also necessary to know how these scriptures were put together.  But most of all, it is necessary to take from the scriptures what we can understand and relate to the world around us.

            That is what I am going to try to do.  Understand the world around me.  For this I will have to start from scratch - the beginning.  Since I am concerned with the individual and the individuals perception of the world.  I start with the individual.  I start with a baby. 

            I can take a baby as a blank slate coming into this world.  It has no belief system. It reacts to basic stimuli of pain and pleasure.  Looking at a baby lying satisfied in its crib -I see wonder- wonder at the world around it.  Language is tonight to a child.  Identifying objects is taught to a child.  What is harmful is kept from a child as it does not know what can harm him.  Left to its own devices, a child will touch and taste everything from candy to broken glass and fire.  Obviously it does not know about its surroundings.  That is taught.  The parents teach what they think the child should know.  Your parents told you what was beneficial for you and what was harmful.  They told you what was right and what was wrong.  They told you what they thought was reality.  How can you say they were right?  Were they not told by their parents, and so on all the way back until man first became aware of himself.  How can you be sure that what you were told was accurate - “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”  Could not their perception be clouded by beliefs going all the way back to man’s beginnings?  Even if you think they were wrong, what beliefs and assumptions are you starting with? Obviously the ones you learnt from society/world around you. Sure, man’s stock of information has increased since he roamed naked over the earth.  But the question is - by how much and have you read enough to even make an intelligent comment?  For millennia, man has believed the earth was flat.  There were still people who believed that until the space missions and the first photography of the earth.  In fact, there are still factions of people who refuse to believe the evidence.  These factions are small and ridiculed by the masses.  But, remember, what they believe was once believed by the masses. It was the assumption they lived by. That framed how they viewed the world and universe around them. In fact, they probably didn't have a word for "universe".

            Now man has technology and therefore the means to do things he could never do before.  He can leave the earth’s atmosphere, travel great distances in a very short time by plane, communicate over greater distances by phone.  He has built a technological superhighway for information, the Internet.  This is the age when there has been an information boom.

            Before countries, cultures and races were far away , their very distance made them “exotic,” something strange and different.  Now the distance doesn't exist anymore.  A person can see any country, culture and race he may want to.  The world has become small with our technological toys.

            That the world has changed is evident.  The question is has mankind changed?

            When Egyptian civilization was at its height, it ran itself as the center of the world.  Same for the Greeks, same for the Chinese, same for the Muslim empire, and in today’s time, the same goes for the western world - especially the U.S.  So, that hasn’t changed.  No one seems to remember that each civilization lots its power.

            Man has been killing each other since recorded history.  It has been for greed, like gaining territory or wealth.  For difference in beliefs or lifestyle, culture, like the wars of the Christian crusaders or the extermination of the Native American culture. Today we are at war, Christians against the Muslims Fundamentalists kill those with different beliefs.  The U.S. may have a constitution granting liberty and free speech but that didn't stop the institution of slavery for many years, nor has it eliminated racism..  One difference of the present tis that now we have the capability to completely eliminate the human race.

            Mankind hasn't changed.  He just figured and more ways to accumulate wealth and kill.  One entire development of technology has been built by the motive for profit.

Human nature remains the same.  Now that we can destroy our planet it is about time we reevaluated our existence.  Where we are.  What are the foundation of our beliefs.  And, can we do anything to change before we destroy ourselves in a fit of religious zeal, greed, anger or just plain ignorance.

Similar sayings exist in many traditions.


            The first question that comes to mind is, is there an absolute reality?  Something which is not relative.  I think there must be.  When someone says reality is relative, there is something that is being perceived to begin with of which we may have a relative perception.

            For example; each person can see a tree in a relative manner based on their associations (i.e. what they have experienced in relation to a tree).  But there is something that is being perceived (a tree).  And, that has a reality of its own that exists whether we perceive it or not.  That we can give it a label and name it a tree shows that it has characteristics that we agree on, like shape, color and touch, based on our senses we label it.  But our senses are not the only way of defining a tree.  Biologists will define it in terms of cells, physicists in terms of atoms, etc.  The point is that there can be many relative ways of defining (perceiving) a tree, but that it exists cannot be denied.  If it exists, it must have a reality of its own.

            Some may argue that this may all be an illusion or a dream.  Sure, it may be.  But this illusion or dream is real.  There are many of us experiencing it  and we can confirm our impressions of our surroundings by explaining what we sense (using our five basic senses). 

            This can be taken further.  Some may say that this may all be a deception, which was Descartes basic argument.  But he realized that one thing he could be sure of was that he existed.  And, there would be no point for something to constantly deceive him.

Also the concept of a God was one of a beneficial being not an evil one.  So he was not being deceived.

            This whole analysis began because of the relativity of the five senses.  The simplest example is to put one hand in hot water, the other in cold water.  Then put both hands in warm water.  The one in hot water will feel cold and the other one hot.  Similar examples can be given for the other four senses.

            Example of color?

All we can do is look around us and take what we see as what we see (in terms of all five senses).  That is the only way we can begin to understand our surroundings.  Our senses may give us relative perceptions but it is a relative perception of something.  And, that cannot be denied.

            It seems that there must be an absolute reality.  Now the question arises,can a human being perceive this reality?  Or will our perception always be relative to our mood and/or design?

What if anything can we say about this reality

            Science is most probably the best key to understand possible aspects of this reality but first it is important to state that science is a theory or as Einstein described it:

"Physical concepts are free creations of the human mind, 
and are not, however it may seem, uniquely determined by 

the external world. In our endeavor to understand reality 

we are somewhat like a man trying to understand the 

mechanism of a closed watch. He sees the face and the 

moving hands, even hears its ticking, but he has no way of 

opening the case.  If he is ingenious he may form some 

picture of a mechanism which could be responsible for all 

the things he observes, but he may never be quite sure his 
picture is the only one which could explain his observations. 
He will never be able to compare his picture with the real 
mechanism and he cannot even imagine the possibility of 
the meaning of such a comparison." 

When Einstein discovered the equation E=MC2,  he didn't realize it would lead to the atomic bomb and I think he regretted it.  But the implications of that equation go further than that.  It says that matter and energy are one and the same.  My body is made of the same components as the bed I am sitting on.  As the moon at night or the sun in the day, everything in the universe has the same essential building blocks (from the quantum world)  Atoms are mostly space.  We are made of space! In other words, QM shows that the environment and observer are together while substance is mostly just empty space.  Thought influences the environment.  Now we can no longer separate the physical universe from us and call it a machine.  This universe actually responds to our thoughts.  That in itself is a mind-blowing discovery.  This brings an interesting verse to mind.
Now the question arises.  Can this reality be perceived? Or, is this something which can only be hypothesized and theorized about in science.
There have been men and women throughout history who have talked about a reality that exists but the language they have used has been cryptic and incomprehensible to the common man.
For instance, the Tao Te Ching - one of the most paradoxical books around.  For example it says everything that needs to be done can be done by doing nothing.
           The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and

unchanging Tao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and

unchanging name.

(Conceived of as) having no name, it is the Originator of heaven

and earth; (conceived of as) having a name, it is the Mother of all


Always without desire we must be found,
If its deep mystery we would sound;
But if desire always within us be,
Its outer fringe is all that we shall see.

Under these two aspects, it is really the same; but as development
takes place, it receives the different names. Together we call them
the Mystery. Where the Mystery is the deepest is the gate of all that
is subtle and wonderful.

So, are these people crazy or are they trying to explain an actual reality which seems to make no sense.  The best example I can think of is Plato’s allegory of the cave.

There are a bunch of men who live in a cave.  A fire reflects their shadows on the wall and this is their rality.  They live in a world of shadows.  Now suppose one man were to step outside the cave?  He would witness an array of color, even his sense of self would be different as he can now see his body but before only saw himself as a shadow reflected on a wall.  When he goes back into the cave, how does he explain the reality outside the cave to those still living in their world of shadows.  His words would sound crazy, maybe paradoxical.  He would most probably be ridiculed or killed.
Most mystics have been ridiculed or ignored by the populace.  Mostly because their words are next to impossible to understand as the people have not experienced what they have.
In fact with some thought it seems like our entire system of language would be completely inadequate.  We developed our system of language from our ‘world of shadow’ naming a tree, a tree, when its reality may be something which is beyond our comprehension.  A person perceiving reality has just the language of the world by shadows to explain what he has experienced.  Hence it’s cryptic.
Okay, what have I done so far.  Shown a possibly misconstrued history, the possibility of an absolute reality, the interconnections of the universe that QM implies and its mind-boggling conclusion about the quantum world and the possibility that the absolute reality has been perceived but it is beyond our everyday understanding.

So far, I have gone over the mysteries of the outer world, what about the inner world? Us.  What do we know about ourselves?  How well do we know ourselves?

It has been said “know thyself and you shall know thy Lord”  or more simply "Know Thyself"
Surely we are not very mysterious?  A teacher was giving his class an example of hypnosis.  He hypnotized a blind student not to hear and carried out various experiments to show he couldn't hear.  A student sitting in the class asked if there might be a part of him that could hear though he was hypnotized not to.  So, the teacher asked the boy to raise his index finger if a part of him were listening.  H did.  At that point the boy was getting bored sitting in silence so he was solving a statistics problem in his had when he flt his index finger raise.  He asked to be made to hear again so he would know what happened.  He was dehypnotized and the situation was explained.

            After this, extensive experiments were carried out to understand, what has been called, the “hidden observer.”  In one such experiment, a woman was told (under hypnotism) her hand would feel no pain or discomfort when immersed in a basin of ice cold water.  While she was told the hidden observer should write down with the other hand any experience of pain on a scale of 1-10.  The hand wrote while she sat there smiling, feeling absolutely no discomfort.  So, we have an aspect of ourselves which is aware of us and our surroundings but we are not aware of it.  Strange?

            Think about multiple personality cases.  A person uses a separate personality to deal with a set of circumstances.  Under hypnosis, these personalities can generally be reached. (see note below)

            In one multiple personality case, a person had eight pairs of personalities, i.e. 16 personalities!

            A personality is what interacts with its surroundings.  Your personality is a combination of many factors.  Your conditioning from your surroundings and how you interpret your experiences.  Something in us has the ability to change personalities at will, i.e. if necessary, like we would change clothes or wear different masks.

            Could our personality be just a mask?  Whenever we describe ourselves , we are describing our personality (unless we are describing physical appearance).  If our personality is a mask, then we are describing our mask.  Where or who are we?

            I am going to make a very simple distinction to see if it fits together.  A personality is based on direct conscious experiences from our surroundings.  It interacts, experiences emotions, thinks intellectually.  Yet, all we know of our “hidden observer” is that it just is.  The question is, could this split be the aspect which defines human nature?

First, we have to analyze what we know of personality.  Almost all our responses are conditioned.  Thinking about our children may give us a feeling of pride as may our country winning a world cup.  What we think was unjust may make us angry.  Other stimuli cause emotions such as jealousy,  envy, happiness,  sadness, loss, etc.  In short, we have a general set of responses to external stimuli.  These responses have been conditioned into our minds from childhood, from when we began to learn how to interact with the world.  How we greet people, what we talk about, how we perceive people has all been conditioned into us from our surroundings.  W are not programmed like robots though.  We have thought. We may have certain experience and may decide to change certain aspects of our behavior.  So, we are not static beings.  Our decision to change could be to be more observant or to avoid people.  Whatever we want, we decide to be like.  Even what we perceive as beautiful or ugly is based on our conditioning.  Some people say our entire lives are predetermined by our genes but I have found no scientific evidence to support that claim.  Our emotions, beliefs, differentiation between right and wrong all seem to be conditioning's   So, our personality is simply a conditioning to interact with our surroundings.

            Now, let’s see if this follows.  Since as blank slates who are perceiving our surroundings, we don’t know where we are, why we exist, or even what we are.  We only truly know that we exist.  Yet, we all have similar behavior patterns, even though we are individuals.  There is a basic human nature.  And, that nature consists of a personality based on conditioning and a hidden observer, i.e. as an aspect of ourselves we are not aware of.

Human nature is one big contradiction.  We may feel one thing yet do another.  If w have a strong conscience, getting an extra dollar at the supermarket could bother us all day.

Where do our emotions come from, our anger, joy, sadness, our conscience - what aspects are there, if any, of our hidden observer.

 I think if I would get an idea of what the hidden observer is, or aspects of it, then maybe I could understand emotions but that is beyond the scope of this essay.

I have shown two things.  First, we do not know about our surroundings.  Second, we don’t know anything about ourselves.

It is entirely possible that our hidden self creates our personalities to deal with the world around us.  The multiple personalities merely seems to suggest it.

How can we deal with all of this information?  How do we live in the world?  How should we interact with it?

“But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) from the ‘Self Reliance’ essay, 1841

To live in the Now is to experience life.  If  we think about the past or future, we are thinking.  If we are thinking, then we are living in our heads and not in our surrounding.

Buddhism talks about the 10,000 distractions.  Anything a person may run after to avoid thinking about basic questions of existence can be considered a distraction.  So  can thinking itself.  When thinking , you are not experiencing the world directly.  You are experiencing it through your mind necessarily means what you are experiencing is a conception of reality.  It could be concerning jobs or relationships or community, but by the very fact that you do not know what reality is, you are conceiving of one .  An example –suppose you are thinking about a relationship about a loved one, these thoughts cause certain feelings to arise.   You may imagine the two of you but you haven’t experienced that person’s life so any feeling you imagine of that person is just a conception. Furthermore, you do not know what you are and what human nature is, so you don’t know to what extent your feelings are in accordance with the actual reality of the situation.  You would literally have to know human nature to understand a relationship situation - yet the hidden observer (note below) shows how little we know of ourselves, and if we don’t know ourselves, how can we know human nature?

We don’t know where we are.  The world is a strange place.  Our history may not be what we previously believed.  Our perception through our five senses is extremely relative.  The world of the very small, observed through quantum mechanics is just plain strange and we are all composed of it.  W have aspects to ourselves that we are not necessarily aware of in our day to day lives.

We do know that we are something, somewhere, experiencing something.  By living in our minds, we live in a world of conceptualizations not a world of reality.  Whatever the reality may be.  The interesting part is that most of us don’t really care anymore.  We don’t want to know.  People want to stick to what they have been told.  What little curiosity is left is used , is directed, toward proving what is already believed.  To live in a state of not knowing requires courage.  Because if you accept that you don’t know , then you ar compelled to seek answers, to life life for yourself - realize that you are separate from others.

In the Bible greed is a sin. So is pride which is the foundation of Nationalism. Yet there are people who believe both. I sometimes wonder how our race of humans lasted this long. Then I remember that Arnold Toynbee explained this already, 'as a civilization falls a person or small group of people heroically achieve the impossible to get the civilization to continue to survive. This superhuman effort adds years and even decades to the survival of a civilization.' But they all fall. They have to. They are designed like hives or like the Tower of Babylon if you will. Everything is connected to everything else. Cut the branch and a hive is lost. Cut a civilizational lifeline and we return to the bronze age.

What would it take to cut a civilizational lifeline like power of gas for the entire eastern seaboard of the United States for months? A category 3 hurricane. What if there is a category 4? Probabilities dictate there will be at some point or another. In other words  we seem to build our civilizations in a way that makes collapse a part of it's life. The Tower of Babylon is now. We already know how it ends.

We seem to be just repeating what we, as a race, have done before. History repeating itself ... but it's span is longer than the lifespan of one person so we don't realize till it's too late (like an archetypal nightmare that's been programmed into our collective consciousness & unconscious by thousands of years of trauma and habitual behavior (Matrix?). It's like a child that has been abused and so grows up to abuse/bully others.) As a civilization, we are traumatized, constantly grasping at straws, apathetic, lazy, compelled to act in the face of disaster, always trying to fix major problems with duct tape and self-destructive.

Note: The Unity of Consciousness (The Hidden Observer Part of Consciousness)

    Common sense dictates that each person, i.e. the body, is but one person, with one set of beliefs and desires. In short each body is comprised of one personality. However those kind of assumptions about individuality seem to be a little shaky with the realization of multiple personality cases, fugue cases, and experiments involving persons with split brains. Now the topic under debate is whether consciousness is unified in one person or not. However to me it does not seem like much of a debate the problems are concerning personalities and in certain cases, amnesia of various kinds. The fact remains there is still but one body that we are dealing with and consciousness is a term which is very loosely if not inaccurately defined.

    Consciousness is defined as something which is conscious which is defined as(in simple terms) awareness. Awareness can be defined in various ways, but just being aware of anything is sufficient as a definition for consciousness because if something is not aware then it is an inanimate object and not worthy of debate. First I am going to consider the split brain phenomena. People who have had their brain hemispheres separated exhibit characteristics which seem to indicate two minds at work. In Sperry’s article ‘Hemisphere Deconnection and Unity in Conscious Awareness’ , he describes experiments which show that the hemispheres of the brain have separate main functions. In experiments objects shown to one hemisphere were not realized by the other hemisphere. Also, there sometimes appears to be conflict between the two hemispheres, as described in Puccetti’s article. The arguments range from there being two streams of
consciousness to two minds. On this issue I tend to agree with Nagels article ‘Brain Bisection and Unity of Consciousness’.  Where he says that all the experiments prove is that the brain has different parts of it devoted to separate functions. If each function were labeled as a mind then each person would have a huge number of minds.

It is well known that though we may see an object as one, with color, depth, shape, etc. each characteristic is controlled by a separate part of the brain. These separate parts work together to get a unified perception. So it follows that the brain uses various parts of it to give a unified perception that a person tends to have. Also those people who have gone through brain bisection, when not in experimental conditions, do not have any problems functioning in society. The two hemispheres, though they are no longer connected and therefore do not communicate directly, continue to communicate indirectly through the senses. So making an analogy to how vision works it seems that the brain does use various parts of itself to produce a unified perception .  This unified perception belongs to the person perceiving, so there seems no reason to say that the person is composed of two separate consciousness’ as consciousness is awareness and the awareness is unified under perception.

    Another factor which brings unity of consciousness into question are ‘Fugues’. A fugue is a condition during which one is apparently conscious of ones actions but have no recollection of them when they return to their normal state. A well known example is that of Revd Ansel Bourne. On 17 January 1887 he left his life as a preacher and traveled a considerable distance and became a shop keeper under the name of Brown. After two months he woke up as Bourne and did not know where he was, nor did he have any recollection of the last two months. While under hypnosis he was able to recall his memories during that period but on awakening soon lost all recollection. There is, to say simply, complete amnesia between Bourne and Brown. At this point the issue that arises is one of the continuity of personal identity. To say that there was a break in consciousness seems illogical to me because throughout this time this person was aware. Only his memories seemed to become discontinuous. This is still the same conscious entity but with discontinuous memories, or more accurately, discontinuous recollection of memories. So question is simply one of personal identity. Why the fugue is caused is not known, however,  it is the same person, i.e. body, which undergoes ALL experiences and then differentiates them into two (as with the Bourne case), creating a mental block between two sets of memories. The most interesting questions tend to arise out of the multiple personality cases. But before going into multiple personality disorders it will be interesting to consider the hidden observer, tested meticulously by Hilgard.

    The experiment is simple, under hypnosis a person is asked to put their hand in cold running water, being told before hand that they will feel nothing. But at the same time are told to write what they feel with one of their hands which is kept out of sight. The hand indicates increasing pain while the person says they feel nothing. So while the person is aware that he/she is feeling no pain, a part of the person is also aware that he/she is feeling pain. This surely indicates the possibility of two minds or streams of consciousness. The one thing these ‘two minds’ have in common is that they perceive through the same body and therefore are part of the same person. The question arises that ‘is there two minds coexisting in one body?’ what is known at present certainly seems to indicate that there are at least two minds. One of direct awareness through which one communicates and one unknown, somewhat hidden mind, which cannot as yet be understood.

    Another example of this ‘hidden observer’, is of a person who is told under hypnosis that he can not see the chair in the room and then told to walk in a straight line with the chair in the line of walk. In each case the person always avoids the chair and when told that they didn’t walk in a straight line, they tend to try and rationalize their actions in some way or another (example I didn’t feel like it). So the person is literally aware and not aware at the same time.

    So it is  accepted that though under hypnosis a person can be controlled but at the same time a part of the person will know what is going on. Like for example, when a woman was anesthetized and operated on, under hypnosis, was able to recall conversation between the doctors operating on her. This seems to suggest that at all times a part of each person is constantly observing their surroundings, though they may not be directly aware of it.

Now it is possible to do a little theorizing. If this ‘hidden observer’ is present at all times, then it would seem that this is the awareness that would have access to all the memories the person has experienced.  In Bourne’s  case, he lost direct awareness of two months, yet a ‘part’ of him remembered, and under hypnosis was able to access it into direct awareness. In fact the only way, it seems, to be able to communicate with this ‘indirect awareness’, is through hypnosis, but not as a separate personality which speaks and interacts, but just as something which is there. Now keeping in mind, that there is an awareness within each person which encompasses direct awareness and more, I will go into multiple personality disorders.

    A personality seems to be a set of beliefs one has concerning how one should behave. It is these set of beliefs that govern how one reacts to external stimuli. In multiple personality disorders a person, i.e. one body, contains separate and distinct personalities, generally to interact with certain kinds of situations.

Why this happens is unknown. What we do know is that we do not know what a person is, i.e. we don’t understand the meaning of the self. We don’t understand how people are composed and where they came from as well as where they are going. The fact is we don’t know why we do in fact exist. 

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