Tibet postcard

[From November 2007.]

Speculations thought during the biting headwind climb up the Thong La, 16,900 feet: the credibiltiy of a belief in a unified self — the agent allegedly responsible for active conscious reflection — is a spurious result of the unity of vocalization. There’s a voice in our heads, the voice sounds like our own actual voices without there being any sound, a kind of aural afterimage internalized after many years of the hearing. The voice, the actual one, the one that makes sounds that others can hear, is a behavior that is effective in generating action and changing the course of external events. Thus, the parts of our nervous system, at least Broca’s area, say, is adapted to achieving some kinds of ends in others by generating speech. When that speech is the internal echo, one expects there to be behavior effects in us, but, after all, our actions aren’t like that. We’re mostly governed by the affective system, emotions unrestrained, unresponsive, and blessedly removed from the voice. Alas, the simple animals that we are, we identify that voice as reason. And a self. But it’s just a minor part of the brain that is useful in its own domain for getting other animals to do things, but not very much more. Ironic, then, that it should be elevated to such lofty pretensions.

And with these days passing, there is at the fringe of my awareness, in that event horizon where consciousness, were that such a thing should be, ends and instead the body is an adaptation to the dynamics of environment, right at that edge there is an insistence and a beacon, or maybe a warning light on the dashboard of the car that you can’t see because it sits behind the steering wheel but the glow is an itch is a change in temperature is a intuition. Those are the things happening as there is movement through time.