Being Human II

There is a phenomenon which moves through forces generated within itself, which continually takes in and expels matter. When that matter becomes part of “it”, or whether the 2-3 kg of symbiotic bacteria living on or inside it is part of “it”, is a question making it even more difficult to state what “it” is. Similarly it continually takes in ideas and sense-impressions, which it processes. Increasingly, “I” do not feel that the word “I” relates to any particular part of this phenomenon. It is greater than I know. Specifically, it is greater than anything I could identify as my conscious self, and I don’t know what consciousness is.

Just as my brain will form patterns from what I see, which leads to optical illusions, so possibly consciousness is an illusion, a set of sensations or processes within the phenomenon imagined to be one continuous discrete phenomenon. But memories pop into consciousness from somewhere, “the unconscious”, or words can elude me- “It’s on the tip of my tongue”- so the conscious self is continually affected by the unconscious.

I know there is no homunculus living inside my skull and looking out- I know this because I am aware of where my toes are, right now (in “toe separators” so that I can apply “superGel” candy pink colour, actually. The things we do for beauty.) “I” am the whole phenomenon, unconscious and conscious. I know that the conscious part is not the decision making part: where subjects were told to move one of their hands, and to choose which one to move, brain scanning equipment showed a choice made within the brain before the subject was aware of it. So my conscious may be of benefit to the phenomenon to explain its decisions, to rationalise rather than to decide.

I can tell you without consciousness of lying what I would do in a particular situation, then find myself in that situation and do something else entirely. So, consciousness may have the effect and benefit for me of fooling others. I would say that if I were sexually assaulted I would resist, but for the fact that when I was sexually assaulted in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, in the late 1990s I did not. I don’t know what I would do. I hope I would resist.

I know I am not “rational”, if by that you mean doing what is clearly in my interests, rationally calculated. I have desires which are irrational, and depending on how important it is to me to appear rational I am conflicted. I have desires which conflict in any case. “I hope I would resist” shows conflicting, unknown desires.

Sometimes I am aware of what I am feeling, and sometimes I am not. Sometimes feeling overwhelms me, and it seems like if I try to suppress it the unconscious part of me will not be ignored, and makes me cry or shout to make me conscious of it; or I can simply feel it without external sign. Sometimes there is external sign without me being conscious of the feeling.

I can remember the process when it was younger, when most of the atoms and cells of which it is made up, and most of its ideas, were different, and in some way it seems to make sense to call that earlier process “me”. Perhaps this is simply because the culture suggests we do.

I feel “leadings” in the Quaker manner. I feel “moved”. It seems to me these things emerge from my unconscious rather than from some supernatural power; but in my experiences religious practices such as the Quaker meeting have value.

3 thoughts on “Being Human II

  1. Intelligence, or the degree of it, has much to do with decision-making and, especially, rationalization. It may not take so much of it to decide that candy pink nail gel would be beautiful, but it takes more intelligence to use toe separators to keep the gel from smudging. A child may apply nail color that does not stay within the lines, but still think that the finished product is beautiful. But, did she rationalize to come to that decision? I remember clearly, when I was three-years-old, the first time I applied lipstick…….not confined to my lips. I was enamored with myself as I looked in the mirror, but my mother did not take kindly to it when I decided to show her my “proud accomplishment.” I recall the harshness of the punishing washcloth she used to scrub away every last remnant of my new-found beauty. Later attempts to achieve my beautiful look got progressively better (closer to staying within the lines), but I was smart enough to keep anyone else from seeing it. Still, though, I was just as vigorous with the washcloth as my mother had been when it came time to take it off. I was also smart enough to dispose of the stained cloth that would have been incriminating evidence, and maybe providing some revenge, as I remember my mother being puzzled about her shrinking inventory of washcloths. My desire to wear makeup may not of been rational, and it’s possible that the application of it was not either, but the process by which I kept it secret was.

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    • Reason is and ought only to be the slave of the passions, ie, you use reason to get what you want, not to decide what you want- or only to decide between competing desires. I see another use toe separators, think that seems a good idea, and emulate her. I still go over the edge of the nail with varnish, but it comes off flesh fairly easily.

      I am sorry for the child.


      • The competition can be either of ones own desires or ones own against the desire of another. When I applied my mother’s lipstick at the age of three, my desire may have been born of emulation (I still don’t understand completely why I was, and continue to be, desirous of using makeup). Her desire for me to be every-bit the boy she gave birth to did not include him wearing lipstick. Beyond applying the lipstick, though, I did have a strong desire to be accepted for my expression. Because I was chastised for it, I reasoned that I should have to act on my desire only when I could do so in complete privacy. This reasoning stuck with me for fifty years before I could decide to act on my desire to make my feminine expression public. My desire to please others had been in competition with my desire for feminine expression, which, ultimately, led to me falling short on both counts. In these competitions, everybody loses.


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