Back to PODCAST.
- Neuroscience demonstrates that prefrontal-higher level consciousness of a thing comes after the brain is aware of it; and often after the brain has been aware of it and reacted to it. What does this mean? It could mean our brain, because it has the processing power to multitask, supports our precious identity as merely an operating system of complex functions within the hypervisor 'enterprise cloud' of the mind. Multiple personalities - distinct, unaware of each other consciously, but sharing much of the psychological resources - fit this model, as does the brain's capacity to switch between active personalities, seamlessly, with no sense of time having passed for a personality during its dormancy. Sleeping fits this model too. Most of us have experienced the phenomenon of falling asleep, then waking up as if no time has gone by and left feeling unsettled while our conscious identity reconciles our upset internal clock.
- These consciousness variations and the absolute nature of perception, by the subject, of these states of conscious unconscious, suggests that while the brain itself and the mind as a whole may exist as along an electrochemical continuum, you don't. We can pass through periods of non-existence with no awareness while it's happening but also no sense of any interim states - half conscious, half not, for instance. We either are or are not. Consciousness seems to function more like an all or nothing, as if the brain executes the consciousness process at a certain frame rate. The rate is fast enough to habituate us to the feeling of continuous self-awareness. Its fast enough to keep up with the world. The frame rate of our consciousness, like our sensory perception, is limited. We're not aware of the moment to moment downtime any more than we're aware of every moment in the downtime when asleep or comatose. Is this significant? Let's follow the train of thought and decide.
- Drugs are an interesting study of the impact of rapid biochemical change to the state of conscious identity. When a drug takes effect, it can alter the landscape of identity - changing key aspects of personality, shifting the neurology of the senses, the volitions, the very frame rate of self-awareness.
- There can be an intuition of distorted reality when under the influence of drugs but, in a wider sense, it's a reality that's convincing (to the self), authentic, consistent with a continuity of lived experience that's still bound to the binary 'conscious' or not.
- If consciousness works at a frame rate rather than continuously, and rapid neurological changes like those brought on by drugs, though they can alter the senses and even aspects of personality, don't alter the binary, what defines this universal, binary continuity? It may boil down to memory, volition chemistry and limbic messaging. Head injury and amnesia can fit this binary too; as does the recovery process from injury shock sometimes restoring former identity and sometimes being a permanent change. For males especially, sex - and specifically the act of ejaculation - is an insight into how neurochemical changes instantly bring about altered but 100% convincing perception of reality. Horny self was just as convincing, while those neurochemicals were in the boss seat. Drugs are no different.
- Our identity changes as we age anyway; and it's easy to see this is a feature of consciousness created by the brain, in an ecosystem of memory and limbic reality - the one growing in complexity and ambiguity and maturity, the other degrading as we get old, both working changes to identity throughout life.
- To see if the above words have successfully conveyed an approximate of the 'consciousness blipverts' thought ouroborous from my mind to yours, let's try a thought experiment:
- consider - the brain creates the mind and the mind supports consciousness at a certain frame-rate, with identity a gestalt of memory, volition biochemistry and limbic physical 'fact'
- the identity frame-rate isn't entirely continuous, as we know from both periods of unconsciousness (sleeping, in a coma) and shifting in and out of altered consciousness (before and after sex, when on drugs, etc)
- identity 'feels' continuous, whether it's running at maximum frame-rate (when we're awake and alert) or interrupted by gaps of unconscious time (when we're overtired and phase in and out of sleep)
- would we notice - without external facts or being told by others - if for an hour each day a different personality, a distinct identity, also housed in our brain and supported by our mind, woke up between eye-blinks and lived out the hour while we were unconscious until the hour was over and, in another eye-blink, we were conscious again?
- To us, it would 'feel' like no gap in time between blinks at the start and the end of the hour. We might piece together what was going on, but there's no doubt our brains are capable of running schizophrenic pre-frontal cortical identities.
- In essence, what is conscious identity?
- It feels like everything; and it IS everything we have - for certain, to call our own, howsoever it's created - in the universe.
- It feels continuous but we know it isn't.
- It feels like we're in control but we know we're not even aware of 95% of the brain's busy moment to moment activity and we've certainly no handle on how the brain 'cloud' maps the synapses and neurons and chemistry of the 'identity' functions.
- We know our identity is a construct of memory, limbic messaging and volition biochemistry.
- We know personality comes from identity, but that personality is strongly affected by the biochemistry; and that all of this complex frame-rate of conscious identity is convincing, compelling and defining, even when there's a sudden system-wide change in the chemistry that redefines volitions (and therefore personality, sometimes identity).
- Our conscious continuity adapts to these changes in the literal blink of an eye.
- Human brains are an incredible phenomenon. It's worth considering the implications of the consciousness frame-rate, i.e. that identity is coalesced from identity from memory, biochemical volition and limbic 'fact' that feels continuous but blips on and off seamlessly; in the context of the remarkable capacity of the brain to generate "you" while doing a long list of other unconscious and subconscious things - including, for some, generating distinct second, third, fourth identities that coexist within the same skull.
- DMT and a Universe of Alien Intelligence.
- The Imagination Algorithm.