So, What DO you believe in?

2006-09-30 04:09:00

The internet is a great tool --- already, we've been posed this question twice via email and we might as well try to sit down, work with crayons and legos, and really commit to a few beliefs. A couple of our guiding principles, on paper once and for all. This is way harder than it sounds. At the BIPT, we don't delude ourselves about "education" or "learning". As a teacher, there's nothing more gratifying than than that magic moment when your student "gets it." This is why you must actively punish them for understanding. Don't ever kid yourself into thinking teaching is even possible. Your students will never get it -- you can trick them into getting something else, but they'd never be able to teach that to you. So lie to your would-be students -- they'll either get the joke that nobody really understands anything and we're all decieving ourselves to a literally unthinkable degree -- or they will hate you bitterly. Despite everything you just read, the following is completely true.

1. We think the separation of mind and body was really dumb.

If you actually think about the logic Rene Descartes used to convince a whole culture that "mind" and "body" were somehow separate concepts, it's not compelling, conclusive, or even very coherent. We're not clear on why it's taken centuries for anyone else to reach the same conclusion. Observe:

"While I could pretend that I had no body, that there was no world...I could not pretend that I was not. From the fact that I thought of doubting the truth of other things, it followed I existed. From this I recognized that I was a substance whose essence or nature is to think, and who's being requires no place and depends on no material things."

----from Discourse on Method

Before we even discuss neurology: here's a simple test. If this logic sounds reasonable, locate a firearm, load it with ammunition, and discharge about six rounds into your head. If you're still there thinking, congratulations! Boy, you sure proved us wrong!

Our larger point is that everything biology and neurology have taught us since ol' Descartes penned that little gem has done nothing but prove him wrong. The "I" of conscious experience is integrally tied to, and emergent from, the physical body. The two are inseparable --- there is, at present, no clearly defined border between the mind and body, as there is between liver and the gallbladder, or between our cells and their mitochondria.

Science cannot account for how the "I" of conscious experience arises from the brain. This is because science is having serious problems these days --- there are a lot of good ideas floating around, and Brainsturbator Dot Com is here to float them to you, the reader. A short list of useful thinkers: Rupert Sheldrake, Chris King, Iona Miller, Jose Delgado, Aleister Crowley, Mae-Wan Ho, John Zerzan, Hakim Bey, Ray Kurzweil, and Daniel Dennett.

2. We think that humans function on programming and have the capacity to reprogram themselves.

Your personality is not you. Your personality is the sum of all the humans you have interacted with and taken patterns from. We learn how to walk, talk, move, dress, and behave by modeling other humans. This begins with your parents and their social circle, then your own peer group and teachers, your media role models, every single person on television, and everyone else you've seen or heard from the moment you were born until right about five seconds ago. However, you can also change your personality -- through an act of will, you can alter your habits, you can alter your beliefs, you can alter how people percieve you completely. Are you still you?

(That's not supposed to be a deep question, the answer is "Fuckin' Of Course I Am")

It is not polite or charitable to say that humans are robots. Our culture is based on the idea of the free thinking, soveriegn individual, and our Constitution is written presupposing that as a universal truth. But as any Buddhist knows, even achieving conscious awareness is a lot of work and takes constant, vigilant effort to maintain. We are not born awake, that takes training and self-discipline.

For anyone unfamiliar with this line of thought, start with this essay by Howard Bloom.

For anyone interested in how to take control of their own "programming" (just a metaphor) we recommend the following: Prometheus Rising, by Robert Anton Wilson. Undoing Yourself, by Dr. Christopher Hyatt. LSD Psychotherapy, by Stanislav Grof. Monsters and Magical Sticks, by Stephen Heller. And in the interest of total overkill for dedicated autodidacts, here is the Complete Works of Milton Erikson

Again, those are not amazon links, those are the complete books in pdf format. Information is free and Brainsturbator loves you.

3. We think that there is some serious shit on the horizon.

We are not committed to any dates, because the past millenium has seen a failed prophecy every month or so, and because we have personally survived over 100 Ends of The World by our own count. No nuclear winter, no comets, no solar flares, no pole reversal, no Y2K, no Rapture, no Armageddon, just the same breed of parasite, manipulating fear and ignorance. The same holds true of politics - short of studying up on the business and science of oil and doing a global tour to assess the world's actual supply, it's hard to make a call on peak oil. Many intelligent people question the official story of what happened on 9/11, but nearly everyone who has definitive answers about what happened that day is retarded.

Despite all that, it's hard to deny that we stand at a point without precedent in human history. Our population size, our technological power, our increasing interconnection, are all at levels our parents only dreamed of, and our grandparents cannot even understand. Few people have noted that this upward trend is reflected in our bodies as well --- in all forms of athletic performance, world records go up every year. Anyone who has watched the X Games for the past five years has a clear sense of what we're talking about --- tricks considered impossible two years ago are becoming commonplace now. The Singulary is only a human guess, and so is the ETA of 2012. And yes, the Mayans who made those calendars were also humans, guessing. Humans are very strange creatures: their solutions are frequently amazing, but somehow their explanations are almost always utterly wrong. Humans have made most of their greatest innovations by accident and random chance. The science establishment which has leveled entire cities and poisoned the planet have yet to explain why placebos work just as well as any presciption drug on the market.

So keep an open mind, but definitely be prepared. As to how you prepare for the unknown, we don't know, either.

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