Vitruvian Lines – Part 7: The Consciousness Question

Unknown, Think, Contemplate, ThoughtEach of us knows what consciousness is, but to explain it or – even more challenging – to explain its source or the processes involved in it, remains notoriously difficult.  Regardless of those problems, consciousness is clearly at the very heart of the issues we are examining here.  By good fortune and synchronicity I have been drawn to some research that provides answers that fit neatly with the information which has gone before.

For most, in the last few centuries, Cartesian rationality and materialism have taken over from religion.  Science is the dieu de jour and the human being is entire unto itself – a wysiwyg evolved structure in which all can be explained by neurons firing and passing messages around the brain and nervous system.

Despite concerted efforts over many decades, though, scientists remain unable to explain the phenomena of self-awareness and self-reflection in terms of the way brains are known to function.  This is key to our understanding of the nature of autistic perception and the way it differs from that of other members of the population.

It has long been argued that autists and those who carry the ‘dys-‘ labels (dyslexic, dyspraxic, dysfluent etc.) have brains that are differently structured to those of the rest of us.  If that were the case, though, it wouldn’t explain how the whole of humanity starts physical life with autistic perception, while the majority loose or suppress this way of being to take on the maturation/socialisation norms of their culture with a minority retaining their open, no-limits, creative thought.

In other words, if all human experience could be explained in terms of neural information processing, Joseph Chilton Pearce’s theory of A-Thinking would be wrong.  Since important aspects of consciousness cannot be explained by what the brain does, though, we can look elsewhere for an explanation.  We could obviously look to religion, myth, tradition and spirituality for alternative answers, but for now, let’s stay with science.

 

Very basically, because of the prevailing materialist world view, in which the body is seen as a highly complex machine, mainstream science would dearly love to discover a biological origin for consciousness – some process going on within the brain.  The alternative would be an external source, and that, of course, would not suit the model as it currently stands.

Science has been largely unable to provide answers to these problems.  However, a September 2017 article in the peer-reviewed journal NeuroQuantology sheds some light.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Dr Dirk Meijer, a professor at the University of Groningen has combined neuroscience with quantum theory to propose the source of consciousness as a field surrounding the brain, but in a ‘fourth spatial dimension’.  This Consciousness (highly reminiscent of Ervin Laszlo’s   Akashic Field)  could pick up information from anywhere, he suggests, and transmit it instantaneously into brain tissue – the whole brain, not just certain areas – by a process called Quantum Wave Resonance, a wave pattern that encompasses all neurons.  He proposes that this mental field “is instrumental in high-speed conscious and subconscious information processing” (source: Consciousness in the Universe is Scale Invariant and Implies an Event Horizon of the Human Brain Dirk K.F. Meijer and Hans J.H. Geesink).

Fractal, Render, 3D, HoneycombThe paper goes on to suggest that this holographic structured consciousness is part of a universal system of nesting energy fields.  In other words, everyone and everything that possesses consciousness has one of these, and each of them has contact with all the others.

The following quote shows the enormous repercussions of Dr Meijer’s theory:

“The presence of a field-receptive resonant workspace, associated with, but not reducible to, our brain, may provide an interpretation framework for widely reported, but poorly understood transpersonal conscious states and algorithmic origin of life.” (ibid.)

In other words, each individual ‘mental field’, aka Consciousness, would be able to access all other fields.  This could allow for and explain the existence, so long marginalised by mainstream science, of remote viewing, telepathy, precognition, dowsing, channelling and the like (which means that he has a hypothetical scientific explanation for the non-logical abilities and skills of some ‘square fillers’).

This field, he says, must have certain characteristics in order to be able to perform this function. It must:

a) be instantaneous – a gradual “diffusion” of information through the system … would work too slowly;

b) be capable of receiving every type of information from the environment (electromagnetic, acoustic, thermal, chemical, mechanical, gravitational);

c) select information at fractal levels for different biological orders of magnitude;

d) incorporate information of various parts of the organism and the whole configuration at the same time;

e) be protected against an excess of information and apply some kind of information quality control;

f) ensure minimal loss and distortion of information.

Point (e) above is particularly interesting in light of what we have already discovered.  The ‘excess of information’ that would come from this limitless source, with one person’s consciousness being able to draw on everyone else’s as well as all other information emanating from anywhere in the cosmos is clearly more than any one individual would need or be able to process.

Temple, Columnar, Painting, MuralWe need a system to restrict the flow.  Could it be that the neurotypical maturation/socialisation process does exactly that?  As they grow up, children learn to block out information deemed unnecessary in their culture.  There are many stories of kids being told firmly that the invisible friends they are chatting to don’t exist.  By the age of three or four, they are learning to divide their worlds into ‘real’ and ‘pretend’.  Do those divisions have more to do with society’s norms than any factual basis?

It follows then that those who choose NOT to take on that socialisation process in its entirety have far more leeway than the rest of the population with regard to what they can perceive.  I wanted to make that point here, to tie it in to Dr Meijer’s research, but the ideas behind it will become much clearer when we look at the final piece of this framework.

 

 

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Vitruvian Lines – Part 6: Aspergers Thinking

Note: This post follows closely from the last, which can be read here  and will ideally be read as part of this whole lengthy series of posts, although I realise that’s rather a tall order.

I’d like to look now at the rather special case of the so-called high-functioning ‘square fillers’.  These people have a particularly interesting way of thinking.

It will be clear from what has been written  previously that these people, in order to be viewed as ‘high-functioning’ by our society, have taken on more or less all of the developmental milestones prescribed for normal infant progress.  Their cognitive development – usually referred to as ‘intelligence’ – is well above average.  In fact, a particular feature is their ability to employ high levels of logic to many situations, coupled with an intense, laser-like focus on whichever field of interest is important to them at a particular point in time.  Thus the preponderance of ‘square-fillers’ working in key roles within the IT sector.

Graffiti, Spock, Leonard NimoyThis is the archetype employed in the Star Trek series as Spock, Data or Seven of Nine – altruistic, caring individuals with exceptionally high levels of cognitive ability and rational thought who nonetheless were unable to fit in socially with their colleagues.   Surely this is far removed from the ‘whimsical’, creative, non-logical thought of the autistic thinker described by Joseph Chilton Pearce.

I believe that what the square-filler possesses is a unique – and highly valuable – blend of two distinct thought systems.  He or she has taken on the rules of rational thought, and developed them to an exceptionally high degree (since the ‘no-limits’ aspect of A-thinking is involved).  However this person does NOT water them down, so to speak, with the guilt-based kindness, empathy and social considerations used by ‘circle-fillers’.  That is partly because such variations are utterly specific to each individual circumstance and consequently too diverse to have any easily perceived rules, and partly because the square-filler already has an existing and excellent alternative thought system – the non-logical Knowing that is A-thought.

Poverty, Homeless, FrankfurtThere are certainly times when the logical and non-logical are in conflict.  For the neurotypical person, this is when they know the rules (‘I should notify the authorities that this person is shoplifting.’) but apply the secondary social kindness system (‘But she is clearly living rough, and she only took a loaf of bread and some peanut butter.’) and make a value judgement based on this knowledge to come to a decision which leaves them as guilt-free as they can be in this instance.  (Freedom from guilt is a prime motivator for circle-fillers when they show kindness and consideration of others.)

By contrast, the high-functioning square-filler will react to this situation in a quite different way.  He or she may telepathically read the motives and situation of the shoplifter.  Next, working logically – and at exceptionally high speed – he or she might consider the implications and probable results of reporting the incident or remaining silent, for one or more of those who could be involved.  Finally, the square-filler will project the information thus gleaned into one or more probable futures, to view the results of either action.  This will result in an appraisal of the most advantageous course of action to pursue.

In both cases the thought processes described here, although all made using the conscious mind, are so fast and virtually instinctive that individuals may not be fully aware of the entire process they have gone through; the neurotypical may not realise their intention was personal guilt-reduction, while the other might not recognise the telepathic and precognitive abilities he or she has utilised.

All this means that everyone – square and circle filler alike – is continuously using different thought systems to make judgements and decisions.

Certainly there are times when one system must be used to the exclusion of the other: a judge must apply the law, since that is his or her role in society; an autistic savant must put aside the logic of ‘I shouldn’t be able to play an entire piece of music from memory having heard it only once, since no one else I know can do this’ and simply allow their ‘Knowing’ to take control.  Certainly these dichotomies can leave the individual feeling confused and conflicted.  However without having two modes of thought to draw on, none of us would be self-reflective, and thus fully human.

 

Create, Creation, Creativity, LaptopReturning briefly to autistic thinking as described by Joseph Chilton Pearce, the high-functioning or Asperger’s individual has, despite the conflicts created by working with two very different modes of thought, a huge advantage over the rest of the population when it comes to creativity.  Pearce points out that creative thinking involves autistic thought combined with “the tools of logical structuring given by maturity”.

Neither, of themselves, is particularly productive in human terms.  The autist who has remained as a helpless, totally dependent individual will not be contributing in any recognisable sense to humanity’s needs.  The neurotypical adult who remains entirely trapped within the discipline of his or her chosen profession will simply do as others have done before, following rules blindly and incapable of insights and innovations necessary for progress.

The high-functioning autist, however, can potentially bring to bear the ‘no limits’ knowing of A-thinking on the logical strategies learned from society to bring about fundamental changes, Eureka! moments and quantum leaps in understanding.  These are the innovators, the inventors, the creators.  Just as our nomadic ancestors needed the outliers, so our modern society – whether or not it has realised it – benefits hugely from the input of such talented, free-thinking individuals.

 

In the two following sections, I hope to provide explanations – from two very different sources – for the existence of autistic thinking.

Vitruvian Lines – Part 5: Autistic Thinking

Psychology, Psyche, Mask, Wire RackIn the last section I described one of my ‘lightbulb moments’ – the realisation that the natural method of communicating and socialising amongst the autistic population/ ‘square fillers’ involved a system that by-passed words and used a form of telepathy.  I’d just like to stress that every child in the group I observed was using and responding to it, and they ranged from very high-functioning individuals to at least one who was said to be at the lowest end of cognitive ability.  In other words, it wasn’t a skill some very gifted children had learned; it was a natural skill that – in these individuals – hadn’t yet been suppressed by society.

 

Despite the earnest efforts of their parents and caregivers, these kids had not been pressured into using and thinking with words.

In this section and the next, I will examine the reasons for this, according to the American thinker and educator Joseph Chilton Pearce.

In his book The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Pearce speaks of a “primary process of mind”.  That means it is there, initially, in everyone.  This primary process, he goes on, is repressed and largely eliminated by what our society calls maturation.  The quote  from his book that follows is one of the key points of this whole series of articles, because once it is understood, it becomes clear how autistic perception differs from neurotypical perception, how the square fillers think and process information and why that way of perceiving is so valuable to society as a whole.

“Autistic thinking (or A-thinking) is an unstructured, non-logical (but not necessarily illogical) whimsical thinking that is the key to creativity.  It involves ‘unconscious processes’ but it is not necessarily unconscious.  Autistic thinking is indulged in, or in some cases happens to one in ordinary conscious states.  The autistic is a kind of dream-world mode of thinking.  This left-handed thinking is nevertheless a functional part of reality formation.  It is the connecting link between our ‘clearing’ and ‘forest’.  It is the pearl of great price.  It is the way by which potential unfolds.”

It’s possible that a high-functioning autist reading the above might be offended or put off by some of the language there – ‘non-logical’, ‘whimsical’, ‘dream-world’.  There are certain values placed by society on those words, and the earlier mention of ‘maturation’ could imply that those with autistic perception are locked in some eternal wondering infantile state, while the rest of the population has ‘grown up’ and left them behind.  I hope that, by labouring the point (throughout the last four sections) that our society’s norms offer only ONE possible way of developing and maturing, I will have mitigated that interpretation to some extent.

To be extremely clear, then:  All humans begin their terrestrial, three-dimensional existence as autistic thinkers.  They are infinitely creative, imaginative and open to new experiences.  It is only by being that way that they are able to achieve the momentous strides in development which are managed in the first few years of life.

Birth, Child, Baby, Newborn, Hand, KeepA baby is told, implicitly, “Within two or three years you will master several types of mobility, the ability to feed yourself, the ability to speak and understand the meaning, pronunciation and syntax of least one verbal language, the ability to perform complex tasks of manual dexterity and you will have formulated your own preferences in terms of what tastes you enjoy, what sounds and objects you like and dislike, and you will express those preferences clearly.  You will recognise and discriminate between a variety of objects and individuals and be able to name several of them and you will indulge in a rudimentary level of logical thinking and decision making.”

By and large, the baby not only accepts these absurdly high expectations, but goes on to achieve them.  This is not in spite of autistic thought but because of it.  Within the autistic mind there are no limits, so anything is possible.

 

Thus, to square fillers, all possibilities are achievable.  The ‘non-logical’ thinking is the Knowing/ gnosis, that allows the savant to draw the cityscape from memory, to recite π to hundreds of digits, to be the first to recognise that E=MC2 or to remotely view features of a location hundreds of miles away or identify a set of medical symptoms in a person he or she has never met.  This thinking doesn’t rely on cause and effect or logical consideration.  In fact, those – as Will and I have discovered and reported on this blog, during our experiments in some of these areas – are limiting factors which can undermine the ‘Knowing’ process.  That Knowing IS autistic thought.  It is only ‘whimsical’ or dream-like in that the members of society who have traded in such thinking for the so-called rational, logic-bound mental consideration they have been trained to follow cannot conceive of any way such things are possible, except in their dreams and fantasies.

So obviously, yes, there has been a trade-off.   At key points in their lives, each individual has, at some level, made a decision.   The personality has had to choose between retaining the innate level of autistic thinking, and complying with pressure to conform to society’s norms, abandoning the natural state of Knowing in favour of rational, logical thought.

This is not a simple either/or choice, of course.  That is why autistic perception is described as a spectrum.  There are those who elect to remain almost in the new-born baby state of total sensation and imagination and to pursue a lifetime of discovery in that condition.  To society, these people will be considered unfortunate, handicapped and limited, since there will often be no perceived method of communication between them and the care-givers and they will be completely dependent on others to see to their bodily needs.  Others individuals who elect to retain their A-thinking, however, agree to take on varying degrees of ‘maturation’; they will learn some of the key skills expected of the infant, although they may take their time over this.

Control, Quality, Rejected, StampAll the developmental expectations described in the imaginary conversation with the baby above were imposed on the child by parents or caregivers.  Experts such as paediatricians and health visitors would have been bombarding the carers with checklists showing ‘normal’ levels of development and this in turn pressurised them into encouraging the child to achieve all the milestones they had been given.  The parents did their very best to encourage the child to develop ‘normally’, rewarding success and attempting to discourage ‘babyish’ characteristics.  The children who failed to keep up with the checklists would be described by society as ‘delayed’ in certain areas.  Those who opted out of certain developmental targets completely or partially were labelled ‘disordered’.  Such is the pressure to conform exacted by our culture.

It seems obvious to me that the decision made NOT to conform and abandon autistic thinking must have a huge inherent value to the person who makes that choice.  In our society, living as a square filler is far from easy.  It is indeed what Pearce, rather romantically, refers to as ‘the pearl of great price’.  Each of these people has chosen, at some level of being, to reject, or partially reject, society’s norms in favour of this creative, unlimited form of being.

Next time, I’ll examine the particular wonders and pitfalls that beset the ‘high functioning’ square filler, who treads the line between the two populations.