The weather is too grey even for a grey day. Big thick clouds keeping the sky far from us. Sad rain drowning us through the cold hours from dawn till dawn. People are coughing, hitting themselves to fight off the cold one step at a time. Even the roof opposite me, seen through the window at my desk, seems to be freezing in this weather. As if the tiles need their own insulation to make it through the week. And it’s only Monday.
At least I know the temperature will rise later in the week. If not outside, then in here.
I shaved yesterday. I love the first day after shaving, when my face is at a sweet spot between smoothness and beginning stubble. I feel very attractive like this. The day I shave is too baby-face-like. I love the definition subtle stubble gives, and the way it evolves over the next few days. I sometimes wish I had stronger facial hair, but the plus is that I only really have to shave once a week. It doesn’t really give me a continuous look, since I keep going from a slight beard to freshly shaven, but I think everything in-between that looks pretty good on me. If I am to be my own narcissistic self: I love me, I always have.
Now what is that I spy with my little eye! There’s a spot of blue at the very top edge of my window! Stretching my head forward, it’s obvious that the clouds are beginning to dissolve above me. Fresh weather, fresh life. It will be cold tonight, but it will be worth it.
My brother asked me what Brave New World is about earlier today. It stands in my windowsill, a beautiful old, blue edition, and I stumbled over every word I tried to say about it. I have never been good at telling (or retelling) stories. My main narrative is the one I keep to myself. That’s a strong narrative. There are worlds of unreleased potential life in the discussions I keep with myself. But I have a hard time getting them out. However much I love words, they always hold me back.
Why can’t we speak three sentences at once? I’ve talked about this recently, I know. But it’s becoming more and more evident to me that my problem is not finding something to say, but choosing between the options I come up with. I’m a horrible decision maker.
I’ve just read Julian Jaynes’s fantastic book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Which is to say that I’m still reading it. I feel like that’s the kind of book you never stop reading once you’ve started. His theory is so grand, yet so down to earth and (at least to me) commonsense. Of course, I have been studying metaphors for the past year; that is bound to have primed me for Jaynes’s theory. But I can’t help but feel like this is something that more people should read.
There’s a great understanding of what it feels like to be conscious (again: at least to me). And a very sympathetic view towards both science and religion, which I think would benefit us all. Trying to trace the steps of your own world view is always an interesting exploration. I have never believed in gods, and I don’t see why that would change, but I have become gradually more sympathetic towards people who do. The thing keeping people apart — the atheists who don’t understand religious people and vice versa is, I feel, a simple lack of understanding. And I don’t necessarily blame people that they have a hard time understanding those who are not like themselves. There’s great difference. Much greater than a simple decision to go to church or not.
What do people who see a god see? That’s the question that always comes up, and it’s bound to be ridiculed by those who have never had an experience like it. I have never had an experience like it. But Julian Jaynes does a great job of explaining how our consciousness, our entire mentality, is based on and within the culture in which we grow up. That sounds all good and relativistic, but what he explains better than any other I’ve come across is how all-encompassing that shaping of our mentality is. That it really is able to form the way our minds work.
My best bet is that people who see a god, or people who get in a trance from voodoo, or people who face demons on a daily basis really experience these things. It’s not delusion, it’s a real event happening to them. The real question is what that event is created by.
The conclusion here is that the person who is able to experience these things has a different shaping of the mind from the person who cannot achieve those things. And I’m not sure who’s better off.
But yes, this is still a firm disbelief in any kind of deity from my side. But I fail to see the discrepancy of a world in which there both are and aren’t gods. And I most certainly fail to see the problems that this apparently causes. Beliefs in deities are not evil, and nor is belief in a science-bound world view. They are all religions; they are all ways of explaining the world in terms we can understand. They are all metaphors. It’s what we do with these world-views and metaphors that determine whether they become evil or not.
We are lost consciousnesses in an unconscious world. And we all just try our best to understand it.