Some people gave up too easily. Some wouldn’t give up though it was obviously futile. Some never tried. Some tried too hard. Some didn’t notice they did it. Some never had to do it. Some never knew there was an option. Some thought it was a punishment. Some just laughed at it all.
The ego is a construction that grows more and more rigid with time until it becomes a prison that stops you from exploring and growing. Like a house full of valuables that you can never leave because you have to guard it against thieves.
Ego death, in a magical sense, is a transformation, a temporarily transcendence from self-centeredness, a way of cleaning out bad habits, misconceptions, etc, that bog down the mind, before the inevitable resurrection as a (hopefully) better person follows.
With magic I change reality. But it’s my model of reality that changes, and maybe yours, not actual reality itself. Actual reality may change though, through actions we make as a result of our changes in those inner models of reality.
Our selves do not end in our bodies. It reaches out, especially to other humans, but also to the whole planet. This intertwining makes egoism impossible. The neurons in our brains are wired from how we were raised and what culture we were exposed to. By purpose and coincidence. We got our parents, our friends and our enemies reaching deep into our physical brains.
Based on past experience the brain, in every moment anew, predicts a model of reality. Senses are mostly used as error correction. The brain considers the state of your body and predicts the best course of action to survive and thrive. It predicts thoughts and emotions. It predicts what we experience as our selves. The self is a non-physical concept. Like a projection. Our brain is a prism and our self is the rainbow.
There is no innate self stored somewhere inside us. A newborn have no experience, no self. We are only born with tools and possibilities. With that the self is constructed by interaction and circumstance. Sometimes it is built by chance and habit. Sometimes it becomes a facade that we believe ourselves. But what may feel as different selves are facets of the same thing – your brain trying to make sense of the world to survive.
Modern neuroscience dispels the myth of our human side having to subdue our animal side in a struggle between the reptilian brain versus the neocortex. In fact it is all one unit, one network, developed all at the same time. Emotions are not uncontrollable beasts that live inside your head and your logic is not a shepherd trying to keep them in check. We have more control than we think.
Our brains are so tuned to predict all the time that they predict things that are not real. It predicts that the stick on the ground is a poisonous snake. Because that is better than to mistake a snake for a stick. The downside is when you get anxiety, which is the brain wanting to get away from a potentially dangerous situation, from having to much to do at work, which is rarely life-threatening.
Anxiety and depression could (at least in part) be results of prediction error. The brain shuts down attention and interest in the world to save resources for anticipated action. Comfort eating works because the brain gets satisfied by stocking up on energy that it expects to release, any minute now, as response to an imminent catastrophe. Which mostly never comes.
But, and here the beauty of it finally comes, prediction can be harnessed for many amazing things. We humans have, on top of physical reality, created a new social reality where intangible things exist. Concepts like Sundays, tickets, red means stop, chess, Osiris, social classes, the Cuba crisis. Many wonderful and horrible things that are not real but still affect us and thereby in extension also affect reality. Dreams, fantasy and fiction are predictions without error correction from reality.
Our lives are predictions. We are predictions. We love predictions. We love taking part in prediction-fiction. The fiction of who we are, the fiction of culture, of religion, of stories, songs and paintings. The arts are predictions which from a safe distance gives us the thrill of trying to figure out whether we see snakes or sticks.
These rambling thoughts are me trying to sort out what I learned from some books on neuroscience I have read lately. One book in particular is How Emotions Are Made by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
I took some wrong turns and now I’m driving deeper and deeper into the dense forest on a dirtroad. Nowhere to turn around. No idea where I was going. Not since I lost the map. Getting dark. The battery is discharging. Can’t see myself in the rear view mirror, so not sure what face I wear.
Our selves don’t exist. We don’t have an I when we are born. I am not something unique or predestined we are born with. It is something we continuously create in the now our entire lives.
We build concepts that we call I from all we experience, or learn, about our bodies, our environment and our social reality. It is not constant, it changes with new knowledge, experience and ideas.
Our selves are inseparable from our bodies. The self is our body. The self change when the body change. Influenced by the self, or other persons selves, the body can in turn also change.
We have one self, but that self has many instances. Created by many networks in the brain it becomes an overlapping palette of personalities that are granted dominance in different situations.
All these concepts we create are what makes up our concept of reality. What we think is real is just a model of reality. The concepts change which causes our perception of reality to change
Working actively with trying to change the self, an by extension changing other peoples selves, by transforming concepts is what I in many previous posts on this website have referred to as magic.
It is however important to remember that magic doesn’t exist, even if it’s real. Because magic is also a concept that we create. Much like our selves. So we use one concept to change another concept. We are all conceptions.
I lost my phaze, I’m disturbodied, I walk like amother, the needless in my language appoints to red, I dream of talking dog-gods, I survive on amino acid supplamentings, I ridle the lightning-wave of the missilent mygrains, I subduel the statictrical chaos awry moonment.
A human is not one individual being. Inside us all there are many separate systems that negotiates with each other all the time. If you take a Jungian stance the mind consists of the conscious, subconscious and unconscious, all with separate values and goals, that together make up what we think of as our selves.
But the mind does not exist ex nihilo. It all arises from physical processes in our bodies. Our brains contain a multitude of overlapping networks that create many different instances of prediction, conceptualization and decision that compete for dominance.
Add to that the influence of both neurons and bacteria in the gut system, the reflex arcs of the spinal chord and many other autonomic regulatory processes. Then we start to see the complexity of the conglomerate that is a human being. We think with our whole bodies.
And it it does not stop within our bodies. There are numerous external connections that are impossible to omit when considering who we are and how we act. Cultural conventions, social interaction, political discourse, access to resources, different environments, and even the daily change in weather – it all greatly affects us, our behavior and our self-image.
Our minds are inextricably intertwined with the whole body. Our bodies are likewise inextricably interconnected with the whole outside world. We are not isolated individuals. We are highly connected networks. From our innermost thoughts to the utmost edges of the universe.
Our selves never end.
Small dark fishes are chewing on my heart. I see parts of me float with the bubbles. Ascending to the surface. To the waiting birds. I can not stop the decay. I am the weight that keeps me down. The fish keep chewing on my heart.
She took my hand with a kind smile and looked into my eyes. As she faded away – while I slowly awoke – she said: “If you try to fly on symbolic wings you will fall.”
Comfortification of the remissanthropic escapex predatormentors bringestingrained criesoterics and burstochastical feardrums to the dreamorphic writerrifiers and piercinguling their stillfated premonition sicknessays with atonementalismaniac powerewolves.
Dreamsmear all over my body is hard to rub away. Plaster clogging my eyes. Machinegun neurons firing constantly. Tinnitus reverberation on insane level. Worse when worse. Feel my body swollen from carbohydrate intoxication. Warehouse instinct hijacked by the existing anxiety pushing out the clothes by storing all that dense unfathomable energy.
The words of order scrambled into encrypted noise as I try to decipher only rudimentary particles of complex molecular structures turn out. But I know there is chemistry, I know there is biology, I know there is consciousness. But it’s incomprehensible to me, I live in the swarm. I listen, want to understand, but their vibrating wings are not quite the same as vocal chords.
And so the sensitivity is turned up impossibly high. Keylessly I carry food in a locked backpack. Wings get in, buzz in my belly, distracting. I don’t want it-me to be filled by sound. So I run around in my head as I did as a child. I never grew like I should. Couldn’t stand in that box, never saw the shape, never realized that the shadow is also an existing thing, stuck to my feet.
Historical forensics try to sort out the chain of events that led to this meticulous mind that tries to keep her chaos in order. Finicky stimming, process excess, often unable to milk the nib for words. Taste my tongue – hemaglobinary salvia and thyme passes if kneaded well. A thunderstorm of pure information rustles through the leave me alone. Prognostics hold their breath.
I haven’t adjusted my appearance for weeks. I haven’t been kissed for months. I haven’t been born for years. I have no haven, nowhere in mind to release the tension of being alive. Where are the hands that hold me while I melt apart and where are the fingers that define what is me and what is something else? No difference makes no difference. I’m burning so much energy trying to be someone special instead of being everyone at once.
The slow expansion and the slower contraction, like a one year pulse of the body. It’s a frequency, it’s a vibration, it’s a message. Encoded in the mass there is something to understand. It slips away from my mind and I have never known anything about my own song. The wings, the cords, the amplitude of the pulse are inexplicable to me. There is a mystery hidden in dreamsmear all over my body. To hard to rub away.