Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Different forms of consciousness

'The conceptual auto-disaster. The volunteer panels were shown fake safety propaganda movies in which implausible accidents were staged. Far from eliciting a humorous or sardonic response from the audience, marked feelings of hostility were shown towards the film and medical support staff. Subsequent films of genuine accidents exerted a notably calming effect. From this and similar work it is clear that Freud’s classic distinction between the manifest and latent content of the inner world of the psyche now has to be applied to the world of reality. A dominant element in this reality is technology and its instrument, the machine. In most roles the machine assumes a benign or passive posture – telephone exchanges, engineering hardware, etc. The twentieth century has also given birth to a vast range of machines – computers, pilotless planes, thermonuclear weapons – where the latent identity of the machine is ambiguous even to the skilled investigator. An understanding of this identity can be found in a study of the automobile, which dominates the vectors of speed, aggression, violence and desire. In particular the automobile crash contains a crucial image of the machine as conceptualized psychopathology. Tests on a wide range of subjects indicate that the automobile, and in particular the automobile crash, provides a focus for the conceptualizing of a wide range of impulses involving the elements of psychopathology, sexuality and self-sacrifice.'

From the chapter 'Crash!' in J. G. Ballard's The Atrocity Exhibition

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The television screen is the retina of the mind's eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality and reality is less than television.

I believe that the growth in my head. This head - this one, right here [character points to his head.] I don't think that it's really a tumor. Not an uncontrolled, undirected bubbling pot of flesh, but that it is in fact a new organ - a new part of the brain. I think that new doses of videodrome signal will ultimately create a new outgrowth of the human brain, which will produce and control hallucination to the point where it will change human reality. After all, there is nothing real outside our perception of reality - is there?'

From David Cronenberg's 1983 film Videodrome.

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There are many ways of searching for new, different forms of consciousness. Every night one switches in and out of oneiric landscapes to the reality that surrounds us. These 'oneiric landscapes' in themselves are possibilities of distorting the reality around us but, unless we dream in a lucid manner (which is something I've yet to achieve), we can't control these landscapes. In Aldous Huxley's Brave New World a totalitarian system issues its inhabitants with a drug called soma where one can choose the manner in the way one hallucinates depending on the strength of the specific dose. Perhaps the excitement of both dreams and drug use lies in the unexpected: the twists and turns you psyche goes through without you controlling it. This lack of control is in itself a form unconsciousness, but playing around with consciousness can be most effectively obtained through pen and paper in order to create fiction.

I condemn the casual use of drugs; it's practically the same as going out and getting mindlessly pissed. I'm intrigued by drug-use which doesn't harm the human body, and drug use which can act as a springboard towards new forms of consciousness. I think that a highly disciplined use of LSD can provide this. I'm more attracted by solitary pursuits, and I think that it can also incite new ways of approaching fiction.

The quotes which introduced my own writing are perhaos more relevant to my other post 'Reality is fiction; fiction is reality', but they are so good and interesting that I thought that I might as well use them for this blog post.

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