A theme has presented itself over the past two days: the flexibility of the human brain and the way things are. or aren't.
I was grilling my parents on Jesus the other day in anticipation of his day of birth
(let it be known that I wasn't raised with any sort of religion and have never fully explored the origins of the world's religions) and it was brought to my attention that in the beginning, the Christians were a much maligned minority. Though in retrospect my surprise is merely the byproduct of a certain ignorance, it also fascinated me that in the beginning, people were extremely resistant to a worldview that has held so much sway over the Western world for the past few centuries. This was the first bit of information that got me thinking about how hard/easy it is to revise the dominant reality paradigm.
NEXT I'm reading a book about sensory deprivation and I come across the following phrase
"conventional criterion of sanity." This criterion is just something we agree upon, and throughout the world the divide between insanity and sanity exists on a sliding scale. (in Holland the saying goes, "act normal, that's crazy enough." Meanwhile, the Truk islanders from the Western Pacific are so accustomed to getting lost at sea and experiencing the hallucinatory effects of isolation, insanity is a much more frequent, and therefore normal
FURTHERMORE, the way we actually see
the world is determined by our culture and surroundings. In the rectangular western world we have a strong sense of perspective, while the Zulus, who live mostly amongst circles and posses very few rectangular objects don't generally experience a strong sense of perspective in their day to day lives. People who live in densely forested areas lack advanced depth perception because they need only perceive things through clearings, so when shown something far away, it appears to them as small rather than distant.
all the red lines in these disgrams are straight, and while most western observers perceive them as bent, the Zulu's don't perceive a distortion
THEN, I went on a hike today and had a conversation about paleolithic man who, according to the superintelligence that is Carel Struycken,
essentially had the same brain as modern man. In other words, you could throw a paleolithic baby into modern day Los Angeles and it would grow up just like a baby born yesterday and vice versa.
AND THEN, to top it all off, i just picked up a book called Proust was a Neuroscientist, turned to a random page, and what do you know. It's all about brain elasticity and neurogenesis. The brain IS elastic, "neurogenesis is evidence that we evolved to keep evolving," because the brain is constantly changing and changeable. FURTHERMORE; a new variety of anti-depressants is being developed that work by stimulating neurogenesis. THE CREATION OF NEW BRAIN CELLS MAKES UP HAPPY!
BY GOD, the human brain must have been the inspiration for rubber bands. Reality can be anything we want it to be, we can re-invent our personal or inter-personal reality frameworks over and over and over again. It's fucking incredible. But I'm left with one question: if the human brain is so changeable, why is so much of humanity resistant to change? And if our everyday experience can be adapted to any reality, why do we agree on this particular one?
With that, I'm off to imagine/inhabit some more possible realities, ones that don't involve sitting in traffic, watching television, or behaving rationally.