We can’t go on living solely relying on systems. Systems are mainly useful for collective preservation and growth. Culture, for instance, is a binary bio-technological system that’s used to transfer series of instructions. At its core, it’s an intergenerational tool for preserving definitions of good and bad, that apply to many things from certain acts to large groups of people. For some it may be tempting to deem culture an ally, as it represents a will that cares about our preservation. For others, it may represent an oppressive will that has something against our potential as beings. These points of view are taking place within the confined scope of culture’s binary “good or bad” discourse. They also collapse the will of authors and the system itself into a single entity.
I believe this is partly due to our affinity to assign consciousness to things we think about. We can’t imagine being without consciousness, therefore, even when we isolate objects, concepts or emotions in our minds, we tend to think in terms of these things being actual people. It may therefore be a useful first step, in our attempt to understand culture better, to actively realize that culture isn’t a person, but there are people behind it. Relying on a system as if it’s a person causes unrealistic expectation from the system and its authors’ level of foresight. We can contemplate the constructor by looking at a construct and vice versa, however to do so, we must first differentiate between the construct and the construction. Without doing so we can’t really make use of this vessel of information or improve it.
When my wife asks me for the scissors, I place it on a surface for her to pick it up, rather than directly handing it to her. I was, probably at an early age, warned that “one mustn’t hand scissors to others, because it’s bad luck.” For whatever reason, probably around adolescence, I was inclined to ask “why?” and keep asking it. I propose this way of inquiry is the correct way to utilize culture. Get the instruction, question it, if it makes sense integrate it, if not keep questioning.
For the sake of the argument, let’s imagine two versions of me; the first version avoids directly handing the scissors, because they believe that it’s bad luck to pass scissors from hand to hand. The second version acts the same way but not because of fear of bad luck but rather because they don’t want to accidentally pierce and injure other people. One might say that both these approaches are equally useful, as in both scenarios a safety protocol was followed. This might be true in an individual case, however over time, to mistake the binary limitations of culture as a bio-technological system, for instructions to have a polarized view of the world can potentially lead to abandonment of this system altogether, by those who praised it in the first place, and thus all the information would be lost. We really don’t know how many times over this may have happened in our kind’s cultural past. Perhaps the cultural acts and concepts remained the same, whereas some of the meanings underneath shifted drastically. On the other hand, the person who knows it’s dangerous to hand scissors to others directly can continuously use precaution, with minimal effort. Questioning things isn’t always an act of bravery that involves a heroic leap into the void. It’s sometimes simply a matter of efficiency; by partaking in culture through an open-source approach improves it on both ends.
Consciousness is a small illuminated dot of light within a dark cavern that is our subconscious. Our subconscious speaks to us in a very creative manner through metaphors and symbols. The medium of the subconscious expression is our entire being. The unconscious speaks to us through dreams, through manifestations of unintended physical acts, or even though psychosomatic symptoms. The subconscious part of ourselves is intelligent as it shares the same facilities with our conscious part. This makes us more inclined to believe that we’re being watched over by something other than ourselves. I’m of the opinion that this is the main reason some people tend to mistake the projection of their subconscious during psychedelic experiences for a separate being other than themselves. The best and perhaps only way to talk to our subconscious is to learn the language it speaks, this will enrich our conscious forms of expression, but more importantly once we’re familiar with this language, we can benefit from any long-term transformative endeavor, whether it be, psychotherapy, psychedelic experimentation or meditation, as we’ll be able to comprehend the obstacles we have, and why we have them.
Throughout this week I took notes on possible subjects to write about, combined with my in-class notes and inspirations, on top of the reading, it all became unrealistic to mix in a meaningful way. I’ve decided to try and write a short meditation on culture, as I’d been intending for a while. I also tried to distill my views about how to relate to our subconscious into a short meditation.
Possible threads of interest for this course: 1.) A proposed framework for Turning my Psychedelic Artwork into open-source material 2.) Starting to methodically try guided breath meditation and document the process
Finally, I’ve found that the “Speaking of Attention and Effort” section at the end of the Kahneman reading reflected a very positive and constructive approach