Thursday, August 04, 2011


Image by Lucinda Horan

Mirror Neurons, Individuation Spellcraft, and the Art of Shamanic Writing

(with thanks to Mrs. Kephas: the perfect listener)


“Don’t scorn the word:

Poets, the world is noisy

and silent, only God speaks.”

—Antonio Machado

Pornography and Shamanic Healing

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”

—E.L. Doctorow

In 1992, Giacomo Rizzolatti and a team of neuroscientists accidentally discovered mirror neurons while experimenting on monkeys. The monkeys had their brains wired up in order to observe how motor neurons related to hand movements, and when a monkey picked up a peanut, the neuron fired. But to the team’s surprise, the same motor neuron also fired when the monkey was watching a lab assistant pick up the peanut. Apparently, to the monkey’s brain, seeing someone grabbing a peanut was a similar experience to grabbing the peanut itself. Action and perception were “tightly linked.” The neuroscientist Vilayanur S. Ramachandran believes that the discovery of mirror neurons for neuroscience is equivalent to the discovery of DNA for biology, and that the “fifth revolution” is the neuroscience revolution (following Copernican, Darwinian, Freudian, and Crick and Watson’s discovery of DNA).

Before we look more closely at what mirror neurons are, I’d like to begin by citing an interesting demonstration of how they function, using for an example a subject we are all acquainted with—pornography. The following is from “Porn and Mirror Neurons,” by Jonah Lehrer.

“But how does porn work? Why do humans (especially men) get so excited by seeing someone else have sex? At first glance, the answer seems obvious: watching porn triggers an idea (we start thinking about sex), which then triggers a change in our behavior (we become sexually aroused). This is how most of us think about thinking: sensations cause thoughts which cause physical responses. Porn is a quintessential example of how such a thought process might work.

“But this straightforward answer is probably wrong. Porn does not cause us to think about sex. Rather, porn causes to think we are having sex. From the perspective of the brain, the act of arousal is not preceded by a separate idea, which we absorb via the television or computer screen. The act itself is the idea. In other words, porn works by convincing us that we are not watching porn. We think we are inside the screen, doing the deed.”

Now let’s reframe this argument and apply it instead to a shamanic healing ritual.

How does shamanic ritual work? Why do humans get healed by seeing someone else perform a ritual? At first glance, the answer seems obvious: watching a ritual triggers an idea (we start thinking about healing), which then triggers a change (we are healed). This is how most of us think about thinking: sensations cause thoughts which cause physical responses. Shamanic ritual is a quintessential example of how such a thought process might work.

But this straightforward answer is probably wrong. Shamanic ritual does not cause us to think about being healed. Rather, shamanic ritual causes us to think we are doing the healing. From the perspective of the brain, the act of healing is not preceded by a separate idea, which we absorb via watching the shaman. The act itself is the healing. In other words, shamanic ritual works by convincing us that we are not watching a shamanic ritual. We think we are the shaman, doing the ritual.

This interpretative model can be applied to absolutely anything within the parameters of human experience; but what we are interested in applying it to here is writing, most specifically journal writing, which involves the observation of behavioral patterns. What are the ways in which writing can be used to hold a mirror to our psyches and develop empathy for ourselves, as well as for others? How is isolating ourselves from the input of others a means for self-examination and a way to become more integrated into the community? What is a group mind, how is it formed, what makes its hold upon us so complete, and how does writing help to break that hold? What is individuation, how does it pertain to finding our own unique “voice,” as writer-programmers of our reality—and what does all this have to do with porno and shamanism?!

Stay tuned, all will be revealed.

Reality as a Language-Based Construct

“The linking and relinking of objects by the Brain is actually a language, but not a language like ours (since it is addressing itself and not someone or something outside itself). We should be able to hear this information, or rather narrative, as a neutral voice inside us. But something has gone wrong. All creation is a language and nothing but a language, which for some inexplicable reason we can’t read outside and can’t hear inside. So I say, we have become idiots. Something has happened to our intelligence. My reasoning is this: arrangement of parts of the Brain is language. We are parts of the Brain; therefore we are language. Why, then, do we not know this? We do not even know what we are, let alone what the outer reality is of which we are parts. The origin of the word “idiot” is the word “private.” Each of us has become private, and no longer shares the common thought of the Brain, except at a subliminal level. Thus our real life and purpose are conducted below our threshold of consciousness.”

—Philip Dick, Valis

As many of us have long known (or are beginning to suspect), writing is a lot more than just marks on a page or pixels on a computer screen. Computer programming and html code are helping us to conceptualize reality as a language-based construct, and however foreign, even revolutionary, this idea is, it is not without its precedents. In fact, biology’s discovery of DNA and genetic code has already established this idea for several decades, but because DNA is something few of us have direct knowledge of, it remains a largely abstract hypothesis. With computer programming, however, the idea that a series of letters could give rise to material reality—image—is something that we get to experience for ourselves every time we boot up our PC. We all know that code creates images, and images reflect (and can pass for) reality.

Once upon a time this idea—and most of all the possibility of applying it—was restricted to the few. Once upon a time only initiates were privy to the occult knowledge required to activate “junk DNA,” raise the “Kundalini,” and recalibrate consciousness from human to divine frequencies. In Gnostic tradition, this self-activation process was symbolically described as moving up the chain of planetary “Archons,” using certain key words of power to get past each Archon or gatekeeper, until individual freedom was attained. These days, kids who don’t know an archon from their elbow are playing video games which require certain clues and passwords to get past a series of obstacles, or “gatekeepers,” in order to make it to “the next level.” Without digressing any further into the sacred science of occultism, you might say there’s been a progression from the magical tradition of spellcraft once reserved to the priestly caste, to government-sponsored biologists and neuroscientists tinkering with DNA and monkey brains, until today, when the oldest and most arcane art and science is being taught to pre-schoolers, and anyone with the time and patience to master computer-programming can summon occult forces and shape reality—via the power of words.

All of these various disciplines and media have one thing in common: language. Language is a series of symbols which only become meaningful once their meaning is agreed upon and they can be used to communicate. DNA, html code, god-names and video games are all metaphors, because in a reality that’s interpreted (and therefore shaped) via language, everything is metaphor. So what are they all metaphors for? In simplest terms, they are metaphors for the human psyche, and the process being described is that of individuation, or, to use another metaphor, the alchemical transmutation of consciousness. This is the “real life and purpose” which (writer) Philip K. Dick intuited as being “conducted below our threshold of consciousness.” It is happening right here, right now, beneath the surface and between the lines of our everyday narratives.

Part Two


The Seduction King said...


Now your talking my language Jason:-)

Good Stuff!

10 freaking weeks...your going to make me wait 10 freakin weeks????


Jasun said...

It only seems like a long time. ; )

I know in the world of the Internet people are used to having info downloaded instantly, but I also know that a lot of people (myself for example) don't/won't/can't read long pieces on the Net.

Look at it this way: each installment will provide easily a week's worth of thought-food, and in the meantime, hopefully there will be some response and feedback here. The piece is an introduction to a sha-writing workshop I plan to start as soon as I see there's sufficient interest, initially online but I hope someday in real space (probably in Guatemala).

In the meantime, if anyone wants to discuss the subject(s), this comments section might be a good try-out/warm-up space for that. Those who make a good enough impression may even get a free enrollment!

BrandonD said...

The idea of language as the fundamental basis of our reality, rather than matter, has been an appealing idea for me since I heard that psychedelic guy lecturing about it many years ago (can't remember his name, but you know who I'm talking about - the guy who had the mushroom shaped tumor in his brain).

But the "mirror neurons" stuff, to me that seems like nonsensical magic words for people indoctrinated into the modern cultural mythology. With a few logical leaps and assumptions those sort of things can "support" any idea.

It seems all the people who've received revelations about these sort of ideas received them through internal experiences (via psychedelics, etc) rather than EKG readings or brain scans. Then they go in to the lab afterwards in order to appease the mind that refuses to accept.

I picture a fish submerged in a lake putting drops of water into a tank of water in order to verify the existence of this "water" everyone's been talking about.

But then again, your article is kind of about the magic of words so it all fits together.

Thank you for putting this up and giving me something interesting to read, I've been looking forward to more Kephas writings.

Jasun said...

Mirror neurons aren't the result of "soft" or flabby science, much less psychedelic experimentation, but rather brain scans and the like, so I'm not really sure what you mean.

Hernan said...

Always happy to read you!

Marge disapproval sound said...

Word Verification horiaz

there's no flies on you

gross missunderstanding

if I've learned a thing

down with Schizophrenia

leave it to The Beaver!

seen 'nuff Attenborough

end them 1080p Torrents

batten down the hatches

each line 23 characters

reverse entropy I think NOT

scusey, must masturbate

got wrong alchemical miX

Can your mother stitch?

Anonymous said...

Interesting idea Jason - I can actually agree with what is being said on this post.

When I see porn - my mind does all the work (lesbians are the best for some reason in my world), the difficulty is that there is no - you know what I mean.

Arousal is difficult - there is no action physically, only the mental imagining of what the simulation is like on the screen.

Any ideas?

Jasun said...

>I can actually agree with what is being said on this post

you sound surprised.

I'm not sure what you're asking. Care to rephrase it as a question?

Dean Potter said...

In the beginning was the word.Language and english in particular, is by design deceptive,it lacks any real ability to convey the truth as each letter is a magical sigil form replete with hidden meaning that effects our awareness and therefore our reality in multiple ways......the words that they can make are even more deceptive .Stopping the world,or not thinking which is NOT meditating either,(for we cannot have a thought without words),leaves us in the moment, all knowing and all powerful,thoughts are lies we are forced to channel through our liquid crystal receivers...,when we start to think again or write what we are thinking about ,we step out of wisdom and the moment and are once again being manipulated and are unwittingly deceiving ourselves and anyone one else who may care to listen or read what we have written.
I am by default lying and deceiving right now.
Spelling is casting a spell,to write is a magical Rite .......
As far a scientific study of brain activity we must remember that the act of observing an experiment will affect its outcome ,therefore all scientific discovery is a sham and lies as it involves channeled thought.
Don Juan remember, would not be impressed by your book,although he might like its cover and weight.
I wonder if you will be exploring the origins of the ALPHABET?
Some of your stream of conciousness podcasts would be an interesting experiment from the perspective that all thoughts are lies........where do they come from after all.......all the books essays and songs.......they cannot originate with us,the ego claims ownership however.
Your work does provoke thought.....however is this advisable?

Nobody said...

"we cannot have a thought without words"

What about a melody of a piece of music? Wouldn't that be a thought without words?

Jasun said...

the notion that all words are lies (while "true") is a tired old notion and entirely adverse to the spirit of this piece; needless to say it's a statement that cancels itself out, so it's really a clever-cheeky way to fill the silence and promote more words.

Internal silence may be the goal of thought, but it also works the other way, insofar as internal silence exists as a vacuum for divine consciousness to enter into - as THE WORD. And yes, that kind of thought - which we don't have, but which has us - is not only like music, it is music - or so it's been for me any rate.

Since we can't stop thinking by willing it, I believe that writing, which is a way to consciously shape words towards specific ends, can be the means to inner silence. The better grasp we have of language and its uses, the more we can begin to direct our own thoughts - towards silence, at least that's the theory of it. It's a risky endeavor, but what choice do we have, besides taking vows of silence?

A slave who wishes to attain freedom must learn to understand impeccably the ways of his master.

Nobody said...

Seems to me that music is usually sound and silence together, the intervals and spaces between the notes or rhythm being of equal importance. Except for maybe drone music.
Haven't commented much recently but have been enjoying all your posts. Very intrigued as to where this one's heading. I came across readymade7777 on youtube this weekend, seems quite fitting somehow with the pornographic content.

BrandonD said...

@Jason: I don't often think that the science gathered by technological instruments such as brain scans are soft or flabby, it is the conclusions made from this information by human scientists that are often soft/flabby.

I'm definitely not disagreeing with any of the ideas you're exploring, I just don't think that the scientific information you're citing necessarily supports those ideas.


I gotta make this short because I don't want to be a jerk anymore, literally, it's not a "piece" so fuck off.

Keeping the sabbath, the sabbath is the mind for starters, get it?

Is the weekend Good for you?

You DO NOT apply the breaks on your mind by NOT thinking.

Which is equivilent to _waiting_ and holding your breath!

You DO NOT apply the breaks on your addiction by looking!

There was a program, a documentary, that showed intelligence was found in the kids whom found that to resist their sugary sweet (to be given a second or third after the experiment was over) was to turn their gaze away from the plate in front of their person.

Because my words stink, the objective, then, is to receive THE WORD, THE LAW, WHAT IS THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE, and just maybe your presense shall be a mouthpiece of THE LORD WHOM IS LAZY BUT NO WAY LAZY.

You are judge but do judge NOT. etc.
You are think but do think NOT. etc.
All you gotta do is dream, LOL! etc.

Anyway, I believe I am close, CLOSE to closing the deal (of my soul) but I can't let the mind, my pet Flyer tacked on my head, know that! So don't look here and there (for the blah Messiah), back and forth, to-and-fro, analyzing, don't be the serpent, feeding, that is the mark of the beast, GET IT, Tak? Let the fucking soap bubbles form their polyhedra, off on a tangent now, the scientific mind is friction but only the scientist, philospher, mathematictian, the sinner, John wood know!

I got this "real" "physical" problem where for the bloody life of me I can't end my piss properly, it stings to leave the toilet too soon, and I've been like this since my teens.

This morning, I was expecting (like a mother expecting, unlike a father, but a lot like my father, the sinner, _waiting_ for his lift to work), anyway, I'm waiting (but words, but truth) but not nessarily _waiting_ for a delivery being the first day of the week, phew!

So the delivery guy rocks up and rings our doorbell, twice, I do not get up and get it because of my social phobia, hey, I know, it's a state of mind, beaten it before, it's more a matter of not offending others with my lameness... continuing now with my story...

My half deaf and half blind grandmother hears the bell, goes and signs for it, places the package outside my bedroom door.

Anyway, I wanna clear my bowels before opening my sweet _present_, so I'm in the toilet, pissing, excited to inspect my gadget_, my eye er my focus totally NOT on my urination problem, I'm able to leave the toilet prematurally but NOT premature, NOT controlling (somehow) I have controlled a internal physical process of my body/shield/armoring. And I have discovered one can perform an elementary arithmetic with one's emotions, that is a beginnings of body intelligence, real intelligence.

By the way, when the doorbell rang, my cat did went and hid right under the blankets smack bang (alive or dead) center in my mother's bed, and we could see his entry path in from the side, LOL.

Jasun said...

The time has come for me to eat my words; Reality Sandwich do want to run the piece and I guess my running it here lit a fire under their butts, either that or it was purely "coincidental" timing (I submitted it ten weeks ago).

I'll keep running it here, but much quicker now, probably over the next couple of weeks.

The Seduction King said...

you should ask me one day how i made it happen.

i don't like waiting:-)

Anonymous said...

alot of items, journals excercises seem to seem to be completing and available to reversal but is there a deal?

I find no matter how many years i know people, tutors, friends..inspirations and family members that anybody that i am close to..fails. Fails to listen to the utmost and only appears to listen to the way out frequencies. Any realtime psychic evaluation becomes denied and interferes with projects of the mind and ends in mind games rather than structured awarness onward to oblivion.

None is on my side, not even a post. When the bells call for frost bite and the angels of symmetry recall the last order the progression of the collective is still in the lead with the leader and not the un lead.

Thou has a feeling of no back up and everything is a case study for the word. Everything in print.

Words are fuelled by souls and if souls are the words there must be corrections and obedience to match disobeyment. It,s one of the final qualities of pathways and hallways.We reside unto the circle room and the homeworker strays to the written page without the organs to generate total energised frequency.

It is too late nowadays for tolerance to participate..the game has acheived stale grain and the windows have suffocated the curtain lining.

Jasun said...

tolerance is a dirty word

Do You Hear What I Hear said...

You're a bloody printer. Printer's dead.
So you've become female so take also of?

"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

Said the night wind to the little lamb
Do you see what I see
Way up in the sky little lamb
Do you see what I see
A star, a star
Dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite

Said the little lamb to the shepard boy
Do you hear what I hear
Ringing through the sky shepard boy
Do you hear what I hear
A song, a song
High above the tree
With a voice as big as the sea
With a voice as big as the sea

Said the shepard boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know
In your palace wall mighty king
Do you know what I know
A child, a child
Shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold
Let us bring him silver and gold

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say
The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light

It's taking me a long, long time to put my toys away, I keep getting new ones (good AND bad).

Of his hobbies, he states that he collects "spores, molds, and fungus", and claims that, as a child, the only toy he ever had was "part of a Slinky", which he straightened out.