The Modern Age of Bicamerality


Julian Jaynes drew a clear distinction between an old bicameral mentality and a modern conscious mentality. Since he indicates that the old bicameral messages were received as voices and since the historical period of the breakdown of the old bicameral mentality corresponds precisely with the beginning of writing, we may in fact be talking about a change from verbal-bicameral to visual-bicameral. Clearly, when a stream of verbal information is coming at you through your ears there is no opportunity for reason to operate because reason is essentially a restructuring of information and then an application of the new idea structures to the material world to see what it does different. Without a tape recorder to stop and restart the verbal sequences that are coming in, old bicameral humans could not splice out parts of the information and resplice it back into other areas of the verbal stream. Even with a tape recorder verbal reasoning is not very workable. But with the advent of WRITING the EYE is in control of the stream so to speak, in fact there is no continuous stream, only eye movement on a page of text. And the eye is free to scan the page or pages of text out sequence, and out of sequence means new ideas, new structuring of information not possible with a verbal stream that comes at you. A jury deliberating in a jury room by reading transcripts of evidence which they have already heard verbally are scanning back and forth between documents and constucting their own picture of the evidence, their own imaginary visual picture of the events in question. Scanning text means NOT experiencing the information in its original form, but in the form and sequence you choose. A conscious individual tends to read a book out of order rather than from front cover to back cover. Anyway, I was long winded on this to demonstate the vast difference in reasoning potential between information received verbally and information received visually. The point of this is that the modern mentality may in fact be just as bicameral as the old mentality in the sense of having two somewhat independent chambers in our heads with different ways of thinking, but the modern brain hemispheres CAN share information BOTH verbally AND visually.


Certainly the dialectic is here to stay. Its absurd to think a distant future evolution of the hemispheres into a single chamber could happen or would be better. What is desirable is good integration of the left and right chambers of the mind as well as with the feelings of the body. But total integration would mean new things stop getting invented, new styles of art never get improvised into existing. Anyway, thats not humanity's problem right now, the problem is that nearly everyone on this planet is functioning substantially in a split-brain condition. But this is getting better generally because visual and electronic media are allowing for the opportunity for people to scan and jump around the information in their lives. On TV, channel surfing means YOU interupt the flow of information instead of just sucking in the information streams hypnotically. Written text, which already empowers individuals to receive the information in any sequence they choose, is now futher improved by hypertext which allows the reader to interlink ideas in their own minds in unique and often dynamic ways, by choice.


Digital voice recorders enable this jumping around mixing of thoughts to also start happening significantly in the "verbal mind" because digital recorders allow the user to instantly listen to any fragment of a voice recording out of order. The old "tape" recorders took too long to rewind and could not go directly to the desired section of the recording.


The forced schooling of children where the kids are trapped in the schoolroom studying one subject at a time and required to use only officially sanctioned textbooks will soon go by the wayside. The purpose of this education technique was to prevent the child's young mind from making too many connections between different departments of thought. A child who gets away with making mental associations is either punished successfully into poverty or secretly becomes an individual, and then flowers after leaving the offending school system. Since most low-level school system administrators are not explicitly aware of this schizising purpose, they also are unaware of the nature of forces which soon will wipe away schizising educational institutions and practices.


Now, you may ask, what is the inner motivation of those who created, maintained, and enforced this system of education. Fear. Fear that we might invent cold fusion reactors, or rapid travel through outer space, or end poverty, or cure all diseases including death itself with genetic techniques, and most of all, they are afraid of being happy. Most of you stopped reading this about two sentences back, hehe.


Progress involves choices but regressing is a single path back, like the forward and back buttons on your browser.


Now with that metaphor in mind, think about how comfortable regressing is in life. Its just runnin home to mamma so to speak. The Perrenial Philosophy teaches that all must return to the womb of non-existence. It is deep in the human psyche and is the very root of thanatos. But what is rarely mentioned in Perennial Philosophy circles is that the Return is to be attempted but success is forbidden.


Prior to successful Return, we are destined by a motivational imperative at the heart of existence itself, to refuse, to refuse futility. And then, after refusing regression, to choose.


Choice is always forward. Choice does something new. Only choice can reap the vast benefits of billions of years of past evolution and determine that it will not be all for nothing!


Most of the human species still wants to regress, it feels SO GOOD to be relieved of choice, and that is why the educators of the past who are on their Eve of Lost Power, tried so long to prevent the children from making mental associations between different fields of thought. New mental associations mean the possiblity to choose!


Lessons for us from all this:
Remmember but don't regress. And after you learn from memories most of what can be learned, forget! Never visit them again! Most tendencies in us to regress serve to be sure we visit our past so that we can learn. But we tend to learn so little of real value that the regressor program in us keeps forcing us back. And eventually the regressor program co-ops all our inner resources and all we can do is regress. Then whole cultures create mythological systems to romanticize THE GREAT REGRESSION right back to mamma BIG BANG!