In Julian Jaynes’s THE ORIGIN OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE BREAKDOWN OF THE BICAMERAL MIND, in the introduction, he says that to imagine inanimate objects as possessing consciousness is an error of understanding. Once I read this, it stopped the clockwork of my thoughts, and I read no more of the book.
I still don’t know how to think about it. Imagining inanimate objects as possessing consciousness is what I do all day. It’s how I direct. How I write. How I make the day turn from time into presence. Without that error of understanding, I have nothing – or a significantly reduced something – to understand. This has bothered me in every line I’ve tried to write in my head since. I think it’s what led me to stop comparing.
I mentioned this to no one for awhile, and then I brought it up to my friend B, who has the credentials to understand it better than I do. She explained to me, over fried fish at Navy Pier before a viewing of the STAR TREK movie, that even though Jaynes is right for philosophy, he does not have to be right for the purposes of art. I suppose I knew this already, but I needed B – a bona fide philosopher – to tell me. She essentially said “Carry on.” But I still feel as if there may be something that I am doing wrong.
I want to be informed by and aware of science. Otherwise what does it mean to be a writer who lives today, as opposed to yesterday? What good is my poetry if it can’t comprehend that paragraph?
I still don’t know if it’s really okay to think of the table as alive. But it’s too late, at least now, to read the rest of the book.
(Created a “philosophy” category w. this post.)