Sunday, October 18, 2015

Beyond Synchronicity: Mind ≠ Brain



ITEM: I had a dream Thursday night of attending a holiday meal at my childhood bestie Tom's house. It was at a huge table that seemed to snake throughout the house. I was at the far end, talking to his two nephews who (in the dream) were playing for the New York Giants. They were attending the dinner party in full game gear (I'd just watched Silver Linings Playbook).  
That next day Tom, who I hadn't spoken with for several weeks (or months, time has been getting away from me lately), called me.  
Tom and I were supposed be born on the same day (twins, of a kind, our mothers were friends) but I was 11 days late. He has a memory that would give most computers a run for their money and has a mind for pop culture minutiae that constantly amazes me. 
The last thing we talked about was one of favorite movies, the Aleister Crowley-connected British horrror classic Legend of Hell House (based on the Richard Matheson story), which used to run on our favorite local station, Channel 56.
ITEM: I was sick as hell this past week, my MPS symptoms hitting me like a tractor trailer in reaction to the toxic mold in the atmosphere. As happens in these episodes, I had long stretches where I couldn't do anything but writhe. I couldn't even watch television, I couldn't rest. It's unbearable but I guess I'm used to it by now. 
 So I tried some visualization exercises. For some reason I began visualizing the famous frieze of Inanna/Ishtar, which I decided was a suitable target. This morning Gordon sends me a picture of he took of that very same image. Apparently, it was taken out of storage and put back on display just recently. 
In room 56 of the British Museum.
These of course are classic synchronicities, inner conceptualizations manifesting as outer realities, ripe with symbol and hidden meaning (there are 56 cards in the minor arcana of the Tarot, for instance).

And they can drive you crazy after a while. 

The only way to prove these coincidences is to write down everything you're thinking at every moment in some kind of computer log which records day and date, which of course tends to evaporate pretty much every creative thought circulating in your brain and turn you into a robot.

Because of this unwieldiness, I actually downgraded classic Synchronicity as a working method-- the thought manifestation variety-- several years ago. I can tell you those two stories up there but you have to essentially take my word for them. And that drives me nuts.

NORMALITY BIAS

You see, I disagree with the "False" Memory sickos (and debunkers in general) on nearly everything, but mostly because I believe that human memory in fact hews to a normality bias. 

I believe that human memory is constantly denying any kind of unusual, profound or traumatic experience, not only to protect the psyche but also to keep the individual conformable to the collective. Extreme experience tends to isolate the subject from the group, which is why memory goes to work in rewriting experience to the acceptable mean. 

So even if you write everything down as it happens, you begin to doubt your own experiences, most especially as the weirdness piles up.†

Because of this essential inability to prove your classic-model Synchronicity- at least without recording your every thought with a verified timestamp- I began focusing on a different brand of sync several years ago, one I can't quite pin a name on but one I later explored in detail on say, the NASA posts.

That work led to the work on this blog, particularly a lot of the symbol and ritual studies I did for the first several years; the Synchronizing of provable events and the coinciding of curriculum vitae. 

This offered a window that people could look into, without having to take my word on a dream or a passing thought or some other will o' the wisp that traditional Synchronicity is built around.º

MAGIC

Now, "Synchronicity" is a useful term in some settings-- a kind of accepted shorthand for discussing unusual experience-- but in others too often becomes the dinnerware we take out for guests but rarely use for ourselves. It's a kind of quasi-scientific window dressing on a reality that our forebears understood as magic or religious phenomena.  




I often wonder what Jung himself actually believed about synchronicity. He was in a tricky position. He was trained as a scientist and existed in that milieu. But psychology and psychiatry themselves were barely recognized as sciences during much of his career (many still don't take them seriously as sciences, even today) and he was always careful to put the proper clothing on his ideas in order to make them presentable to a skeptical and often hostile world. 

Hence you get the whole idea of acausality, a split-the-difference notion which tends to alienate both believers and skeptics. I don't think meaningful coincidence is acausal, do you?

This only got dicier when he underwent what can only be described as a mystical transformation-- his own road to Damascus experience-- and began retracing the steps of the Mithraists and other visionary sects of the pre-Christian West.

Luckily for Jung, he wasn't the only one poking around in the fecund marshes of meaningful coincidence. The radical quantum physicists were also interested in the concept, Wolfgang Pauli for example. But I'm not sure that they meant the same thing privately when they discussed Synchronicity publicly. Pauli was thinking about non-locality and spooky action at a distance and Jung was probably thinking about angels and spirit guides. 

And this is my brief against Synchronicity. It has become yet another of those words that morphs into a leash. A buzzword for panel discussions and TED talks and all other tedious endurance tests that bleed all meaning from life.

And what if, finally, "Synchronicity" is in fact all bullshit? A blanket- and a wet one- thrown over all sorts of experiences that are inherently more interesting?

I remember talking with the brilliant scholar David Hufford at Esalen in 2008 about Synchromysticism, which he hadn't heard of. We then talked about Synchronicity and he asked me to offer some examples of it that I'd experienced. I did so and without any hesitation he said, "That all sounds like psi, not Synchronicity." He explained that what I was talking about was in fact precognition, not some hoity-toity-- and rather nebulous-- Jungian buzzword. 

Now be aware that Esalen is very down on Jung in general and was founded by therapists much more in line with Freud and Reich. But I had to admit that Hufford was correct. 

DE-SCIENCE THE SHIT OUT OF IT

So if Synchronicity is misdiagnosed psi ( I should mention that Eric Wargo has been on this trail for a while), what then? The US Government spent a lot of money for a long time with some damn talented psychics (and don't let anyone tell you otherwise) trying to find applications for psi but found ultimately that it was less reliable than good electronic surveillance. 

You, on the other hand, aren't trying to undermine governments seeking to nationalize their copper mines or gas reserves, you are trying to make your way through an increasingly Social Darwinist world. Does Synchronicity- in whatever form you choose to work with it-- have applications for your daily life?

Well, I think the first thing you need to do is de-science the shit out of it. Take it entirely out of the realm of science (or pseudoscience) and back into the realm of the paranormal, where it belongs. Whether you choose to view it through the lens of psi or mysticism is your call. 

Now, you may ask, why opt out of the running when we have all this evidence to take to the court of scientific opinion? They'll have to consider all this data, right?

I'm not even going to dignify that with a response. 

Scientists throw out evidence on far more mundane phenomena than something that would be classified as psi. 

Scientists love to throw out evidence. It makes them feel powerful and important. They especially love to throw out evidence from mushy fencesitters who come to them, cap in hand, tail between legs, begging for validation for someone's pet obsession, whether it's ancient lost civilizations or psi or NDEs. 

If they haven't smacked you down yet it's only because they want you to delude yourself into thinking the pat on the back is coming any day now. It makes the sear of the laser across your throat sound even sweeter. Especially after you betrayed all your old friends and abandoned the rest of your beliefs in hopes that your one cherished belief will (pleasepleaseplease) get a nod of approval one day.

If you don't realize this is a metaphysical certainty then you don't know many scientists. Sure, you might get the odd maverick here and there (less frequently now) but Western science will never sign off on Synchronicity. I've done the reading; you can't believe the pretzels they twist themselves into to dismiss the data. It would be funny if the motive behind it all weren't so sinister.*

MIND ≠ BRAIN

However, it's the mechanism or agency that always seems to be missing from discussions of Synchronicity. Synchronicity always seems to be its own explanation, and I think that's one talking point the debunkers are right about. 

The quantum stuff feels dry and empty. Psi feels a lot meatier but there needs to be someone else on the other end of the line, if you get my meaning.

I think it all leads us to the basic formula that mind ≠ brain, perhaps the greatest scientific heresy of this naturalistic age. Examples escape me presently (and I'm not getting paid enough to wade through a bunch of tired fencesitter drivel) but I'm sure I've seen some Synchronicity advocates argue against that formula as well, which leads you who the fuck knows where. 

If you take any of the remote viewing data seriously-- and I do-- you have accept that mind ≠ brain reality. Same applies if you accept any of the NDE data. 

And that scares some people because they believe opening that door leads immediately to the Inquisitions and witch burnings. It's insane and contradictory (the real inheritors of the Inquisition and witch hunters are the scientific and academic establishments and their fellow travelers, and the historical victims of the witch hunts were the people who believed in/practiced psi) but here we are.

The question becomes where do we go next?





º There are also the Sync Logs, usually events that correspond in interesting or remarkable ways to topics or issues that I cover on the blog. 

† Debunkers understand this process and are trained by experts (usually CIA) to exploit it.

* Scientists will lapse into gauzy ruminations on coincidence theory when it comes time to explain away the high mortality rate of say, microbiologists and UFOlogists, however.

SECRET SUN READING LIST