A bit of a ramble on consciousness
By: Wendy Whaley
The author is never wholly dead as suggested by Roland Barthes (“The Death of the Author”1977). The author’s consciousness is fixed in position - time being a component of position, and words and perspective being components of consciousness - to be encountered from other positions following the birth of the work. If consciousness is a person’s awareness or perception of something (Oxford English Dictionary,1933) and perception is a kind of additive accumulation of all of inputs and thoughts derived from those inputs, then a holographic snapshot of the author’s consciousness becomes part of the reader’s consciousness and symbolically creates new silver halide crystals for each moment that the work is considered, thus drawing consciousness through space and time.
Under all circumstances of being alive, we experience sub consciousness, by virtue of our autonomic nervous system. We cannot be conscious without simultaneously being subconscious but we can be subconscious without being conscious. The voice in one’s head is usually the conscious, the subconscious is quieter and typically presents as a gut feeling, an instinct, it is the signal sent from the brain to tell a foot to move, it is the electrical signal beating one’s heart. When conscious one tends to tune out the majority of one’s subconscious operations. I am looking for the situations in which one tunes into them, synchronising and balancing the systems of consciousness, attenuating signals, gaining symbiotic control between the conscious and subconscious.
At its basest level, consciousness is made up of the fundamental constituents of matter and the forces acting between them, our minds are grown from this and store our memories, our experiences in an intricate network of what Max Tegmark would call the 5th state of matter (Tegmark, 2014). As liquid, gas, solid and plasma are states of matter, so too could consciousness be. But is it something physical and tangible or might it be purely an invisible force? There are various schools of thought on what exactly consciousness is? Many people in the arts and sciences, have cited an ethereal consciousness plane that they tap in to, a place where they go and are fed ideas. Prince, Einstein, David Lynch, Floria Sigismondi, are but a handful with this experience. Daniel Dennett is a neuroscientist who suggests that consciousness is simply a physical by-product of evolution (Rothman, 2017). There are neurological structures thought to house memories and cognitive functions, but consciousness has not been proven as solely a combination of these things. Alan Watts speaks of consciousness as resonance, and that if you are happy and you know that you are happy then that is resonance. Philosopher Nick Bostrom published a thought experiment exploring the possibility that we live in a simulation which if true suggests that we are some form of Artificial Intelligence, programed and run as a simulation (Bostrom, 2016).
I speculate that consciousness is fractal memory bank of catalogued experiences of phenomenological existence that forms an ego, combined with our symbiotic connection to the whole of reality: a state of matter that allows for reception and transmission of waveform data. Allan Watts says that each one of us is an “aperture by which the universe looks back at itself” (Watts, 1960). The scientific guru of the Dali Lama, David Bohm suggests consciousness as holographic (capable of projecting what we perceive as reality) (Bohm,2008). Consciousness then, is perspective of thought. I wonder what happens if we proprioceptively shift our perspective, maybe we just become a little more conscious by occupying more space and gaining a higher resolution. Rather than one single perspective, if we think of pixels as perspectives then perhaps the greater the resolution the more conscious we become. This would most certainly apply to how conscious a person is who sees things from other people’s perspectives (although one can never truly see things from another’s perspective since their perspective is dependent on their lived experience leading up to any given moment in time, we can only proprioceptively shift our own consciousness to attempt things from another’s perspective), and Perhaps more accurately though, if we think of perspectives from a fractal perspective, this holds the greatest potential for increased consciousness. Perhaps if we apply this concept to looking inward at our bodies from more perspectives, the perspectives of our subconscious, our autonomic systems, we can gain an amplification of consciousness and of self.