Letter from Uncle Frank, September 2017.
Unfortunately, I think in a lot of cases the only time you can question (interrogate) your brain is when it’s done as close as possible to the actual time you had the thought reaction you’re keen to drill down into. If you wait too long, the big unconscious factors that went into building the thought get lost or forgotten i.e. you lose the window of opportunity to do the interrogation and uncover motives and causes let alone impose changes on your neuroprogramming.
Every time we question our brains or some external force (e.g. someone saying we’re wrong) makes it interrogate itself, there’s a strong adverse reaction. Pride gets coopted, to run confusion and divert attention. Our brains don’t like to be wrong (or even questioned, forced to consider more than is effortless) since it’s an interruption in the way of unconscious smooth running. This adverse reaction is something we ALL have. It’s evolutionary. It was an important survival factor in animals and for our ancestors on the African plains he who hesitated was often eaten alive. In their lives self-doubt likely meant not reacting fast enough to some threat; and being killed. If you think about it, you and I, whatever our personality type are unarguably the end result of millions of years natural selection. For most of this time that meant the most decisive, self-confident, intuitive and sensible people in the tribe. Who also fucked their genes into immortality (so far!) against the passing eons. It’s a strange universe.
But nephew, here’s the rub, with total self assurance: evolution has brought us to the present time, yes, but clearly conscious intelligence was part of the most effective package needed to dominate the prehistoric world and get laid while doing it. So intelligence once in the mix persisted and evolved across many species. We homo sapiens are the Earth’s current best effort. We change environments to suit. We’re self-conscious. We learn. We distill and inherit culture. We’re now more than other animals. We are more than just intelligent apes, however crap might seem the human brain compared with some paradigm of imagination. Our very capacity to imagine is unique and, in and of itself good reason not to bet against our species reaching that paradigm. Which is fucking remarkable too.
What must be faced, though, if we’re going to get beyond the constraints of our primate limitations is to face one key truth fact above all others: evolution made us, evolution must be thanked for creating you and I as the handiwork of billions of years unimaginable experimentation and selection. But here and now, for the homo sapiens of today, evolution by natural selection is our biggest handicap.
This eureka realisation is where evolutionary biology and modern neuroscience converge. And it means EVERYTHING to understand the point, to see what it meant and why it’s defining; and then try hard as possible to fight the handicap until it’s beaten for all time. I’ll be dead long before the battle is won. Progress is depressingly retarded by much of contemporary culture like politics (greedy power chasing) and religion (turning primate traits into god’s will, legitimising the handicaps, perpetuating them) and money (wasting effort pursuing ephemera) etc etc. Hopefully our societies won’t self destruct or get locked down by any of these tempting dead ends. But yes, nephew, I’ll be dead before we break the primate shackles. There’s a small chance you’ll live to see it. That chance gets minutely more likely if you’re fighting us forward too.
What does fighting the retarded primate mean? Well it means, for instance, interrogating your own brain, especially when meeting something new or challenging or scary or confusing or threatening to your pride (especially). It means ignoring the flash of id-ego emotion that spikes whenever our brains feel wrong or challenged or forced to face being wrong. Doesn’t matter if, after thinking on it, we conclude we were right all along: the protest persists and must be overcome.
What’s bad is being slave to the emotional spike – that which then justifies itself (as you have) by saying I wasn’t showing care or said what I said condescendingly or was mean. ALL those “reactions” are just an evasive smokescreen thrown up by your brain to keep your conscious intelligent self busy, while the core beliefs/neural paths of least resistance are protected from having to change. Do you get what I’m talking about? Honest and for true, if you can make your brain break through this wall – which evolution creates and upbringing reinforces – it’ll be like waking up one morning suddenly able to fly.
Most don’t make this breakthrough. It isn’t taught in school. The practical stuff in life reinforces the walls, if anything. But you can be 100% sure every genuinely intelligent person on this planet has cracked the meta-analysis moment. To varying degrees.
Last thing I’ll say is this: cracking through the wall and letting your mind fly… It doesn’t mean you have to follow/buy into anyone else’s truths or opinions. Not mine, not anyone’s. If anything it’s the start of you actually owning your own truth and opinion, on objective terms; rather than being a conditioned slave to past happenstance and whatever is going on in the right now.
Where someone points out, for instance, that something you say/do is just a boring algorithm playing out… This isn’t me saying you’re a dumb ass. It’s not even me saying the real you is so predictable you could be simple AI. It’s just saying you might not have broken the wall yet, you’re not a “free thinker” yet. So you’re conforming to type, letting yourself be played out slave behaviour that DOES follow predictable evolution algorithms.
Anyway this subject is one of the most difficult and subtle things you or me or anyone might deal with, in everyday life. So difficult and subtle in fact that you can “decide” never to face off against it. When one’s a slave to a part of one’s own brain, it can “feel” right/good. That’s because the slavemaster is in charge of your brain chemicals, so it gets to ‘crack the whip’ using unfair tactics like feelings…
The only comfort I can give re: trying to break the wall and escape the slavery is it’s worth it. Cuz when you do, the part of your brain that was being oppressor becomes an equal; and emotions and feelings and sense of right and wrong, it all falls into a much healthier sustainable positive symbiosis.
Uncle Frank the Bearded