Friday 28 March 2008
Julian Jaynes - "The Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind"
A huge influence upon me and my writing is a book entitled “The Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind” written by American psychologist Julian Jaynes. I first read this book in the early 1980's and its concepts fizzed around in my head for many years. In early 2000 when ITLAD began to formulate in my mind one of the first books I went back to re-read was this great work. Jaynes was stimulated to write his book by an absolutely classic Daemonic communication that took place when he was a post-graduate student. He describes it thus:
“In Boston, I had for about a week been studying and autistically pondering some of the problems in this book, particularly the problem of what knowledge is and how we can know anything at all. My convictions and misgivings had been circling about through the sometimes precious fogs of epistemologies, finding nowhere to land. One afternoon I lay down in intellectual despair on a couch. Suddenly, out of an absolutely quiet, there came a firm, distinct loud voice from my upper right which said, “Include the knower and the known”. It lugged me to my feet absurdly exclaiming “hello?” looking for whoever was in the room. The voice had an exact location."
This event so amazed Jaynes that he began researching the incidence of 'voices in the head', particularly ones that seem to guide and influence. After a few years he formulated a literally mind-blowing theory with regard to the evolution of human consciousness that has massive echoes of ITLAD. I could not do this book justice within posting but it is well worth a read.
The Julian Jaynes Society is an organisation that actively promotes JJ's theory of 'Bicameralism' and its website a veritable treasure-trove of itladian material. They also have a very interesting forum that I have contributed to once or twice. The website can be found by following this link: http://www.julianjaynes.org/