Freedom Digital Library


Civilization and Beyond


"Dear Friends"

5 February 2005
Dear Friends,

More About Metaconsciousness, Part I
The "Mainstream"

by J. Harmon Grahn

After having attempted to "sum up" my thesis in A Metaconscious Mosaic – which thisis is evidently not yet ripe for "summing up" – I have been absorbing and integrating additional information of various slants which sheds further light upon the myth of metaconsciousness; which I would like to share in turn with interested readers.

Contents of More About Metaconsciousness
Part I: The "Mainstream"
Part II: Higher Ground


First off, these references1 confirm to me in various persuasive ways that civilization as we "know" it is definitely in the process of phasing out of the Earth's repertoire of social patterns, and will eventually be replaced, either by alternative social patterns, or by nothing at all; in which latter case we humans will have in relatively short order ceased our residence upon planet Earth. Richard Heinberg quotes Herbert Stein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers during the Nixon administration: "Things that can't go on forever don't."2 Which I think puts the contemporary human predicament fairly neatly into a nutshell. Myself, I'm banking on the emergence of alternative social patterns that work, and humanity remaining resident here into a long, prosperous, and joyous future.

As to my intuitive surmise about metaconsciousness, although they use their own respective vocabularies, Howard Bloom, Amit Goswami, David Hawkins, and Daniel Quinn3 in different ways bring abundant support to the myth, and flesh out some of its contours in quite striking and thought-provoking ways.

To recapitulate briefly, in respnse to discoveries in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI), artificial life (AL), fractal geometry, distributed agent neural networks, and massively parallel processing, I have speculated about the provenance of the phenomena humans experience as consciousness, intelligence, and creativity by suggesting that these occupy a narrow "band" in a much broader "spectrum" of analogous phenomena which arise spontaneously under conditions of sufficient richness, diversity, variety, complexity, and liberty among large numbers of information sharing constituents. Said constituents may be molecular structures in a microbe, microbes in a colony, neurons in a nervous system, microprocessors in an artificial neural network, fish in a school, birds in a flock, and / or an enormous variety of alternative components in systems of virtually limitless description. The phenomenon associated with such systems' interactive information-sharing, I have dubbed metaconsciousness.

The essence of metaconsciousness is that it exhibits the singular property, or its functional equivalent, of learning from experience. This property is exhibited, for instance, in the process of evolutionary adaptation through natural selection – which is obviously applicable to all living systems, and perhaps less obviously to many "nonliving systems," such as subatomic, atomic, and molecular systems of various kinds.

Genesis and Evolution of Metaconsciousness

Howard Bloom takes us back to the first moments of the "Big Bang Myth" – my term, not his – to invoke the genesis of metaconsciousness – again, my term, not his:4

The instant of creation [Bloom writes] marked the dawn of sociality. A neutron is a particle filled with need. It is unable to sustain itself for longer than ten minutes.5 To survive, it must find at least one mate, then form a family. The initial three minutes of existence were spent in cosmological courting, as protons paired off with neutrons, then rapidly attracted another couple to wed within their embrace, forming the two-proton, two-neutron quartet of a helium nucleus. Those neutrons which managed this match gained relative immortality.6 Those which stayed single simply ceased to be. The rule at the heart of a learning machine was already being obeyed: "To he who hath it shall be given. From he who hath not even what he hath shall be taken away."7

Bloom goes on to trace the evolutionary development of increasingly complex molecular structures, rudimentary one-celled organisms, expanding bacterial colonies, and eventually, multi-celled organisms like sponges, sea anemones, worms, lizards, cats, and people.

Bloom, like most biologists I have read, skates rather cavalierly over this astonishing evolutionary progression, which summary treatment has long been a source of exasperation to me.8 However, the myth of metaconsciousness, which is convincingly supported by much evidence developed and cited by Bloom, seems to render this controversy at least somewhat moot, and considerably less urgent than it had seemed to me earlier.

Meanwhile, Bloom has his own gripes about the canonized dogma of the community of professional biologists, specifically as regards the "theory" of individual selection; which holds that natural selection operates upon individuals, not upon groups of individuals – or in effect, "Every organism for itself, let the devil take the hindmost!" Individual selectionism declares that evolution is driven by the reproductive success of individual organisms – or more specifically, by the individual genes they carry – such that any that sacrifice their reproductive success for an advantage to the species, or the tribe, herd, school, colony, etc., will either fail to reporduce their kind, or will reproduce themselves less numerously than their more selfish peers, and will eventually become extinct. "Those who survive," Bloom writes, "will be cynics preprogrammed by natural selection to commit an act of generosity only if their donations pay off in hordes of progeny."9

A proposed alternative to the individual selection "theory" is the group selection theory, considered by many in the "mainstream" community of professional biologists to be heresy.10

Those few willing to admit to their belief in group selection [Bloom writes] argue that individuals will sacrifice their genetic legacy in the interests of a larger collectivity. Such a need to cooperate would have been necessary long ago to make a global brain and a planetary nervous system possible. On the other hand, if the individual selectionists prove correct, humans and earlier life-forms would have been unwilling to share knowledge which might have given others a competitive edge. If selfishness is the force that drives us, there are future consequences, too. The cyber-ocean of the World Wide Web and its coming technological successors could be a barracuda pit rather than a meta-intellect.11

Bloom is referring here to the "global brain" heralded by numerous luminaries of assorted computer science disciplines in anticipation of the future evolution of the Internet. He goes on to demonstrate that these "leading edge" protagonists of an electronic metaconsciousness are about 3½ thousand million years behind the times; that such a global "meta-intellect" of astonishing bredth, power, and sophistication has been present and evolving on this planet practically since the planetary surface had cooled to a temperature which allowed the presence of biological life. He also cites numerous research findings that confirm, contrary to the individual selection "theory," that individual entities, from microbes, to baboons, to humans, do indeed make sacrifices for the general welfare of the group and the species, which confer no benefits to themselves, or to their direct progeny or unique genetic heritage.

Moreover, throughout the broad spectrum of biological life there seems to be a cellular mechanism for preprogrammed "cellular suicide" – apoptosis – which becomes operational under conditions which may be described generically as "failure to perform."

Apoptosis [Bloom writes] is a firecracker string of self-destruct routines preprogrammed into nearly every living cell. Its fuse is lit when the cell receives signals that it is no longer useful to the larger community. Between self-crippling immune systems and self-defeating conduct, isolated individuals vastly increase their odds of death. The payoff to their gene-mates is likely to be zilch.12

When a colony of bacteria, for instance, consumes all the food which had heretofore been sustaining the colony, and it in consequence faces famine, numerous individuals appear with a penchant for exploration, in distinction from the norm of "dining in" established during the better days of abundant local food supplies. These intrepid pioneers scatter in all directions, and those that find new food sources telegraph their discoveries, by various chemical and genetic means available to bacteria, back to the famine-stricken parent colony. The result is a mass migration to the newly discovered food bonanza, and "happy days are here again" – for them.

For the less fortunate pioneers who fail to find new food supplies, something else happens, which is surprising and quite interesting. They too telegraph their findings – i.e. their lack of success – to the parent colony; and the effective content of their message is, "There's nothing to eat where we are, we're doomed. Don't make the fatal error of following us; goodbye, and good luck." Thereupon, the unsuccessful pioneers commit apoptosis and die. The interesting point is that they do not die in vain; they enlarge the parent colony's database about where congenial and abundant habitats are – and are not – to be found. This does not benefit them individually, for individually they are beyond all help and hope; yet it significantly benefits the group as a whole, for they have thereby learned something useful about their world.13

This is essentially how learning machines consisting of distributed agents work. Those agents which are successful at discovering solutions, or at contributing to solutions to the conundrums faced by the group, are rewarded by abundant connections, energy, sustenance, emulation, and other "perks" bequethed by the group as a whole, and by its individual members. Those agents which are not successful at contributing to needed solutions are cut off and abandoned by the group – and even themselves reverse their own life-sustaining mechanisms, commit apoptosis, and die. This happens to neurons which fail to contribute to the neural network in a functioning nervous system. It happens to members of a flock, herd, school, or colony of organisms, which fail individually to grapple successfully with environmental challenges mastered by their more successful peers. It happens to humans who fail to master life's challenges, and are driven "to the end of their rope," and fall into stress, hopelessness, despair, and (directly consequential) ill health. Their very cells commit apoptosis and self-destruct from within; while their irritable and antisocial behavior sabotages hope of surcease from without. Thus Bloom's oft-repeated dictum: "To he who hath it shall be given. From he who hath not even what he hath shall be taken away."

Is Civilization Committing Suicide?

Although Bloom himself makes no such suggestion, his thesis at this point puts a very significant question into my mind: As we step forth into this new millennium, are we not witnessing the massive apoptosis"cellular suicide" – of a global human approach to living that doesn't work? That is, are we not witnessing, and participating in, the self-destruction of civilization, from the very cells of individual civilized humans, to and including the overarching self-destructive agendas at the most comprehensive levels of international and global relations? Let us hold these questions in abeyance for the moment, noting only in passing that they bear pondering.

Howard Bloom has identified five distinct elements that combine synergistically in "learning machines" – I would call them "metaconscious entities" – of all kinds:

  1. conformity enforcers;
  2. diversity generators;
  3. inner-judges;
  4. resource shifters;
  5. intergroup tournaments.14

Paraphrasing Bloom in part, conformity enforcers act to give the constituents of a metaconscious entity a common identity, and unified patterns of behavior, particularly when things are humming along nicely. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," seems to be the philosophy of the conformity enforcers. "Keep to the tried and true, and all will be well." Conformity enforcers insure, for example, that each member of a school of fish, or a flock of birds, keep the proper distance from their peers while maneuvering in space. Among humans, conformity enforcers see to it that everyone in the community have "got their mind right," and are not likely to "upset the apple cart," for instance by researching any "wrong theories."15 More generally, conformity enforcers strive to insure that every member of the community shares the single hallucination that passes for "reality"16 throughout the community, or metaconscious entity.

Diversity generators balance conformity enforcers by introducing richness, diversity, variety, complexity, and liberty into the information-sharing matrix of a metaconscious entity. Diversity generators break the lock-step regimentation which is the ideal of the conformity enforcers, thereby pioneering new possibilities and potential directions for the entire entity. During "happy days," when the status quo seems to be working to everyone's satisfaction, the diversity generators are often "on the outs," and demand for their "Gyro Gearloose" inventions is at its lowest ebb. At best, they are maintained (tolorated) by the entity at a bare subsistence level. "When the going gets tough," however, the diversity generators "get going," and there may be some among them with "just the thing" to pull the entire entity's bacon out of the fire with an invention or discovery which had no appeal during "happier days." This is the stuff of which quantum evolutionary leaps are made.

Inner-judges evaluate the "progress" or "regress" of agents that comprise a metaconscious entity, and bestow rewards and penalties accordingly. Successful agents, those who / which make discoveries, or produce innovations which advance the entity's interests, or promote its evolution, are rewarded with a flood of connections with their peers, admiration (or its analog), emulation, energy, abundance, reproductive success (e.g. sexual rewards), etc. Neurons, for a single example, are rewarded with endorphins and other hormones which promote a sense of euphoric exuberance, self-confidence, energy, and well-being. Unsuccessful agents who / which are unable to "get a handle" on the challenges confronting them, and are unable to make constructive contributions to the success of their parent entity, activate the apoptotic side of their inner-judges, and in addition to being shunned by their peers, commence their own biological self-destruction in many different ways. Their immune systems fall to ruin, their confidence sags, their energy levels plummet, they repell their peers, and even the peer-connections, or "synapses" they may have had are severed, leaving them isolated in their misery. It is the inner-judge within each agent that decides about itself "who hath," and "who hath not," and therefore "to whom it shall be given," and "from whom even what he hath shall be taken away."

Resource shifters put the "judgements" of the inner-judges into execution. It is they who distribute the rewards and punnishments which manifest respectively as wealth, popularity, energy, brilliance, vibrant health, and fecundity; or alternatively as poverty, ostricism, torpor, stupidity, ill health, and death. On the basis of performance, as evaluated "within" by their inner-judges, and "without" by their peers, each agent of a metaconscious entity stands at the receiving end of the fundamental ground rule, To he who hath it shall be given. From he who hath not even what he hath shall be taken away.

Intergroup tournaments are contests which take place on many levels and in many circumstances, and which in part prove or disprove in the rough-and-tumble of "real life" the superiority of a metaconscious entity's innovations and adaptations. Conversely, intergroup tournaments help motivate innovation, sometimes for the sheer satisfaction of "winning," and sometimes for the stark sake of survival.

Just described are the five elements Bloom has identified as vital for all metaconscious entities, or "learning machines." Intuitively, I would broaden the fifth of these, intergroup tournaments, to include all challenges under all circumstances encountered by a metaconscious entitiy: intergroup competition being only one of many possible or probable challenges. The ability to deal effectively with challenges, obstacles, and unanticipated contingencies of all kinds is the final "proof of the puding" for the adaptive measures taken by a metaconscious entitiy. Further, contrary to Bloom, I would list warfare, a particularly virulent form of "intergroup tournaments," and unique to civilization, to be perhaps the most effective and pernicious destroyer of human metaconscious of all its enemies.

I would also suggest, for the sake of simplicity, that resource shifters and inner-judges share a single function, that of deciding "who hath," and "who hath not," and putting into effect the principle, To he who hath it shall be given. From he who hath not even what he hath shall be taken away; and so combine to constitute a single "vital element" for a metaconscious entitiy.

These simplifications leave us with a fairly succinct description of a metaconscious entitiy as an amalgam of many information-sharing agents with a synergistic capability of learning from experience, by maintaining a dynamic balance among three vital elements: conformity enforcers, diversity generators, and inner-judges.

Dynamic balance among the three is essential because the overwhelming domination of any one of them spells disaster for the metaconscious entitiy that "loses its balance." If the conformity enforcers gain the upper hand, metaconsciousness is thereby stifled and becomes impossible, because in order to thrive, metaconsciousness must enjoy a habitat of richness, diversity, variety, complexity, and liberty. These are developed and maintained by the diversity generators – which, however, might irreparably disrupt the coherency and sustainability of the entity, were they to gain an unbridled upper hand.17 And of course if the inner-judges decide for either of these reasons, or for any other, that the game is hopeless... then it is, and apoptosis takes effect and settles the matter decisively. It may be indeed that either of these two unbalanced conditions could be a trigger for, or a result of apoptosis – which returns us to the speculation mooted above about the contemporary state of human civilization. Specifically, are we civilized humans right now in the advanced stages of "cellular suicide?"

Today, it is scarcely an overstatement that civilized people throughout the world are now in the grip of a pandemic of degenerative diseases unprecedented in human history. Heart disease, cancer, Alzheimers disease, HIV, and other immunological difficiencies are becoming epidemic killers among the highly stressed populations of civilized nations.18 Coincident with this is a precipitous rise in stress-related emotional and psychological disorders, including alcoholism and drug addiction – again, among civilized people. Additionally, I have recently learned that, according to the American Medical Association, "Prescription drug side effects [as opposed to 'street drugs'] are now the 4th Leading Cause of Death in America."19 In view of these developments, is it at all unreasonable to speculate that these may be symptoms of the onset or progress of apoptosis for the human metaconscious entitiy, civilization? Couple this with the unbalanced rush of self-appointed conformity enforcers to overwhelm and stifle the diversity generators,20 and what is one to conclude? That all is well? Somehow, I don't think so.

One of the properties of metaconsciousness is that it is not at all constrained to operate at the level we humans experience as consciousness, intelligence, and creativity. Therefore, even if we are able to establish the hidden identity of the rogue conformity enforcers, as Spooner has done,21 and thus the hidden "cause" of our predicament, this still does not preclude its "cause in another dimension," from being the suicidal apoptosis of a race driven to widespread abject despair by our own follies. In other words, why have we civilized people gotten ourselves into such a predicament in the first place? Perhaps the hidden "hidden answer" is that the human metaconsciousness knows that civilization doesn't work, and the human predicament, "hidden causes" and all, is our metaconscious way of ending a failed experiment.

In other words, because civilization doesn't work, it is hardly surprising that large numbers of civilized people should be driven to despair by our "failure to perform." It may be that, entirely without conscious volition, large numbers of our inner-judges have "reached the same conclusion," and have unleashed a multiple barrage of self-destructive actions, from cellular to global dimensions, to bring this untenable predicament to a swift and decisive end. This may also be interpreted in such terms as, civilization has not the blessing of the gods.

Metaconsciousness Among the Microbes

It is interesting to note that the metaconsciousness of a group can be of decisively greater survival value than the individual intelligence of its members. Chimpanzees are considered by most biologists who study them to be significantly more intelligent individually than are baboons. Yet chimps are dying out as a species, while baboons are expanding into increasingly diverse ecological niches, and are the most widely dispersed non-human primates in Africa. Why? The intelligent chimps typically congregate in groups of around 40, while baboons cluster at night in congregations numbering 120 to 250 or more, and are much more adept and prolific than chimps are at sharing information. Individual chimpanzees may be more conscious than individual baboons; yet a baboon troup is significantly more metaconscious than a troup of chimps; and their prolific success in the "real world" demonstrates what a formidable advantage this can be.22

As mentioned above, Bloom demonstrates that an extraordinarily powerful, adaptable, and versatile metaconsciousness has been present and steadily evolving on this planet practically from the moment conditions began to exist in which biological life could survive and thrive. The distributed agents of this metaconscious entity are, individually, vastly less conscious than baboons, chimps, people, or even worms; yet they occur in numbers that totally overwhelm in magnitude the populations of all multi-cellular species combined. I refer, of course to the single-celled organisms known collectively as microbes.

Not only do microbes proliferate in vast numbers, they maintain vast, and vastly complex, networks amongst themselves, by means of which they swiftly and efficiently share information on a global scale. Residing in the intestinal tracts of migratory birds, for example, they are able to share select samples of genetic code around the world. They have demonstrated the ability literally to engineer, duplicate, and proliferate genetic information in effective response to challenges they encounter in the global environment. An example is the swift evolution of microbial strains resistent to formerly lethal antibiotics developed by human biologists. Bloom suggests in effect that microbial metaconsciousness may be the most advanced on the planet, and by implication, that human metaconsciousness may lag far behind – the promise of the Internet and global jet air travel notwithstanding. Indeed, global jet air travel is doubtless one of the many components in the global microbial network – and far more effectively so for "them" than for "us." After all, no trans-ocianic microbe making landfall on a distant continent has ever had to bother with such artificial absurdities as "clearing customs" – even when smuggling in lethal strains of DNA!

We civilized humans routinely erect a bewildering array of such obstacles to the free exercise of human metaconsciousness. It is no wonder, therefore, we are outflanked at every turn by the microbial metaconsciousness of the first biological inhabitants of this planet. This may also be a "secondary," or even "primary" reason for the pandemic mentioned above. Remember that the metaconsciousness of a group can be of decisively greater survival value than the individual intelligence of its members.

So why do we do this? Why do we so deliberately, and so unnecessarily, handicap ourselves? Is it not obvious by this time that obstructing metaconsciousness is an inherent function of civilization? For civilization is run by pre-emptive force, and pre-emptive force is motivated by fear. Fear is the natural emotion for those who attempt to take the Law of Life out of the hands of the gods, and take it upon them / ourselves. Obstructing the human metaconsciousness is something civilized humans do all the time, in countless different ways, because of the fear of losing control of something that lies by nature entirely outside our province of "control." Like it or not, the "control" civilized humans so desperately seek lies properly, if anywhere, in the hands of the gods. In so handicapping ourselves in a contest with such a formidable metaconsciousness as that of the microbes, civilized humans are in effect entering "a battle of wits" unarmed.

The final devolution of civilization is one in which the conformity enforcers are making a final decisive bid for ultimate and irrevocable control over the diversity generators – a bid which tolls the knell for civilization, and concludes the civilized war upon metaconsciousness, and the very gods. This is nothing new, and has been building for ten thousand years, ever since the first warlord took it upon himself and his tribe to "rule" his neighboring tribes by force – culminating in the tragic catastrophe in which we are participating today.

The typical civilized response to a visionary diversity generator was given poetic expression about two centuries ago:

      A damsel with a dulcimer
      In a vision once I saw:
      It was an Abyssinian maid,
      And on her dulcimer she played,
      Singing of Mount Abora.
      Could I revive within me
      Her symphony and song,
      To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,

For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.23

Isn't that the civilized way though? When a distributed agent of a functional metaconscious entity "on honey-dew hath fed, And drunk the milk of Paradise," the natural responce is for all his peers to gather round, heap the fortunate fellow with rewards and praise, and generally cash in on a Good Thing. But no; not when the conformity enforcers have got the bit in their teeth: "Beware! Beware! His flashing eyes, his floating hair! Weave a circle round him thrice, And close your eyes with holy dread!"

"Close your eyes with holy dread!" It is the formula for the shutting-down of human metaconsciousness; and it doesn't have to be this way. We could just as easily, and far more naturally, expand our human metaconsciousness, open our eyes in holy anticipation, and just for instance, treat the microbes as metaconscious allies, instead of adversaries. Nothing, besides our hallucinatory notions of "right" and "wrong," constrain us to enter "a battle of wits," or any kind of battle, with anyone or anything. Nothing, that is to say, besides our fatal civilization, and our compulisve embrace of the premises upon which it rests:

Although Howard Bloom suggests in effect that the microbes may combine in the most highly evolved metaconsciousness on the planet, there is nothing about metaconsciousness that requires it to be hosted by exclusively biological entities. Metaconsciousness may exhibit its presence anywhere there exists in sufficient richness, diversity, variety, complexity, and liberty a matrix of information-sharing agents; which means, virtually anywhere at all. Indeed, as we shall see, speaking of metaconsciousness as being "hosted" by an "entity" may be a typically civilized way of "getting the cart before the horse" – as if metaconsciousness were a "property" of physical entities. Rather, it may be much more "truthful" to say that "physicality" is one of the many possible "costumes" in which metaconsciousness clothes herself.

Metaconsciousness Among the Quantum Fields

When we move our attention from the microbial scale to the quantum scale, we encounter rich and abundant opportunities for the potential presence of metaconsciousness. A well known quantum effect related to Heiserberg's uncertainty principle25 is the phenomenon of nonlocality, or "action at a distance," which classical physics declares categorically impossible; yet it has been observed and documented. Complimentary particle pairs, which may be spatially separated by any distance, from picometers to lightyears, have been experimentally verified to change state in perfect synchrony. E.g., when one of the pair is observed to change from "+" to "–," its compliment instantaneously changes from "–" to "+," with no interval in "time," even if the "space" between them is miles or lightyears.26 This demonstrated phenomenon makes conceptually possible the instantaneous sharing of information, and hence metaconsciousness, at any distance in Cosmos.

That is, if as in a digital computer, the changing of a bit "here" from a "0" to a "1" has the immediate effect of changing a complimentary bit "there" from a "1" to a "0," then voilá! we have the potential for the sharing of information between "here" and "there," anywhere in Cosmos, without any consequential effect of the (clasically) intervening factors of "time" and "space." It gets even better; for quanta enjoy the "clasically peculiar" property of exhibiting their "quantum properties" (e.g. "+" or "–") only under observation, i.e. in the presence of consciousness or metaconsciousness. Otherwise – i.e. "unobserved" – they are "smeared out" as wave phenomena, which occupy many "spaces" at the same "time."

Such "quantum wierdness" has since its discovery been very difficult for the "classically entrained" mind to grasp; for classically, in order for anything to get from "here" to "there," it must unavoidably traverse the space between "here" and "there," and this takes time. This is regarded as the most elementary common sense, and anything that appears to contradict it takes on the aura – to the "classical mind" – of hallucination, or "Voodoo." As discussed in my 1997 essay, however, "The quantum scale discloses a landscape filled with surprising paradoxes and ambiguities," and, " the quantum scale, particles are waves, and waves are particles; and that takes some getting used to."27 In that essay I aslo wrote that "subatomic particles evidently don't really 'come' and 'go' in the common sense in which these terms are usually applied; but that's getting into this rather more deeply than is strictly necessary here." Well, maybe here is the place to pursue that thought in somewhat greater depth.

At the macro scale of people and planets, it is intuitively sensible to us that objects like the Moon, or the many smaller satellites we humans have placed in orbit about the Earth, may potentially change their orbits by either gaining or losing kinetic energy. That is, by using a rocket to give an orbiting satellite additional energy, it is possible to "boost" it into a higher orbit. Conversely, if the satellite encounters drag from the upper fringes of Earth's atmosphere, it may loose energy, and descend to a lower orbit – where it encounters stiffer drag, its orbit decays further, and it eventually plummits to the surface, or more likely burns up like a meteor in the atmosphere. At the macro scale, all these processes are apparently continuous and occur in smooth graduations; and this is intuitively very sensible to us.

At the quantum scale, however.... Well, in 1913 Danish physicist Niels Bohr discovered something very "peculiar" about atoms; which in 1911 New Zealander Ernest Rutherford had discovered to be mineature analogs of the Solar System, consisting of a massive nucleus surrounded by swarms of lighter particles, much as Earth is today surrounded by swarms of orbiting satellites. Only, what Bohr discovered was that the particles orbiting an atomic nucleus do not change orbits continuously, but rather in "quantum leaps." That is, when a subatomic particle gains sufficient energy, say by absorbing a photon, it too is "boosted" into a higher orbit – but in a highly "peculiar" fashion. Instead of moving sedately and "sensibly" along a curved trajectory to join its higher orbit, as all "right thinking" people would expect, it leaps instantaneously from its lower orbit to its higher orbit, with no time interval, and without physically traversing the intervening space between orbits. The orbits of subatomic particles about their atomic nucleus are invariably spaced in "steps" which occur in multiples related to Planck's constant.28

Further, these so-called "orbits" of subatomic "particles" about their nucleus are not, like those of satellites orbiting Earth, describable by trajectories that can be plotted through space. Rather, they take the form of a wave function – which is not even what could be called a physical wave, like ripples on the surface of a pond, or sound waves. The best description we have of them is as probability waves, which delineate a region in space where the "particle" is most likely to be found at any discrete moment. Where it is actually located may be anywhere in the universe – until and unless it is observed, or detected by a metaconscious entity. Observation is said to collapse the wave function, which then manifests as a discrete particle with a particular location in space-time. However, as mentioned above, where it "came from," and where it is "going," are then complete unknowns, as the "particle" once again dissolves into its inscrutable wave function.

In summary, humans have accumulated very persuasive experimental and observational evidence in support of the following mythological fragments:

  1. Complimentary quantum pairs interact nonlocally and instantaneously, regardless of the "space-time" dimensions "separating" them. They behave in effect as a single, indivisible unit, not as diferentiable "parts" of a larger "whole," dispersed in space-time.

  2. Quantum entities "exist" as probabilistic wave functions – until and unless actually observed by a metaconscious entity. The metaconscious observer is an unavoidable and vital "part" of every quantum event, inasmuch as the observer plays the essential role of collapsing the wave function, bringing into manifestation a discrete quantum event.

  3. While a quantum wave function remains unobserved, it expands, and may potentially fill all space-time. Thus any quantum may potentially be observed anywhere, at the moment of observation that collapses its wave function. The quantum wave function therefore represents a field of limitless potentiality, which is substantialized in a particularized quantum through metaconscious observation.

  4. Although the scale at which quantum events manifest is at first glance extremely minute, and hence apparently far removed from our daily experience of macro events, the quantum field evidently constitutes (as far as humans have yet been able to see) the fundamental basis for all events, of any scale, in Cosmos. Further, quantum events can and do manifest everywhere and always at the macro scale, as at all scales, from the subatomic to the supergalactic. There is no "place" or "time" in which quantum events are not occurring, and being metaconsciously observed. It is precisely this that shapes for each of us our unique picture of "reality."29

It is therefore not beyond the pale of reason to speculate that the sum of all quantum fields in Cosmos constitute a metaconscious matrix of information-sharing agents of transcendent richness, diversity, variety, complexity, and liberty; and constitute in ways that may be humanly apprehended, if at all, only in mythological terms, what some have called the ground of all being, and others call the gods.

As if to underline this speculation, I have lately learned that quantum effects may be vital to the functioning of the human, and presumably of many nonhuman nervous systems. The classical model of the brain holds that neurons share their electrical impulses with the neurons with which they are synaptically connected, entirely by means of biochemical processes. Goswami cites Walker as challenging this view, and suggesting instead that quantum tunneling may be of vital importance to the transmission of nerve impulses.30 Quantum tunneling exploits the sometimes wave properties of quanta, enabling them to "pass through" otherwise impenetrable barriers. Goswami further cites Bass,31 and Wolf,32 who have separately discovered the need for nonlocal quantum effects to account for the speed with which cascades of synaptically connected neurons are able to proliferate nerve impulses across the macroscopic scale of cortical brain tissue.

Additionally, there are enormous volumes of fully documented so-called "paranormal," or "psychic" human experiences which have no classical explanation whatsoever; and which might find satisfactory explanations in terms of nonlocal quantum information-sharing, outside the dimensions of "time" and "space."

One of the most compelling of these, and perhaps one of the most rigorously researched as well, is the science of kinesiology,33 developed in the 1970s to study the relationship between mind and body. Hawkins writes, in Power vs. Force:

Kinesiology exposed, for the first time, the intimate connection between mind and body, revealing that the mind "thinks" with the body itself.34

Dr. Hawkins is referring to a study of universal relationships discovered by numerous investigators to exist between the human body and an evident metaconscious presence transcendent of individual human opinions and biases. From a "classical" viewpoint these studies, and their implications, simply "do not compute," and they have not been well received, for instance by the "mainstream" medical fraternity. They have nevertheless produced consistent and experimentally reproducible results among widely representative samples of the global human population, by investigators all over the world.

By means of a very simple technique, which I shall describe, it is evidently possible to obtain in effect "yes" and "no" responses to questions on any subject, with an uncanny accuracy which transcends the knowledge and opinions of the individuals asking the questions, and giving the answers. By referring to a numeric scale between 1 and 1000, it is possible to refine a simple binary "yes / no" response, by means of a series of questions, to a succession of responses with exquisite composite gradations of meaning.

The technique requires the cooperative effort of two individuals, one (a) "asking the questions," the other (b) "giving the answers." The second of these (b) extends his or her arm out horizontally, and holds it rigidly parallel with the floor. The first (a) poses a "question" in the form of a declarative statement, pressing down with two fingers upon the extended wrist of b, and giving the instruction, "Resist." If the statement is "true," "positive," or "beneficial," b will have no difficulty resisting the downward pressure upon his / her wrist exerted by b's two fingers. This is designated a "strong" response, and is interpreted as affirmative. If the statement is "false," "negative," or "deletarious," b will "go weak," and will not be able to resist the downward pressure exerted by a. Results of this simple test have been found to be uncannily accurate, regardless of the relative physical strength of participants a and b, and regardless of either of their knowledge or opinions regarding the subject of the "question(s)" being "asked."

For example, Hawkins describes a demonstration he has made routinely while on the lecture circuit. To an audience of 1000 individuals, Hawkins distributes 1000 identical envelopes, 500 of which contain a sample of artificial sweetener, and 500 of which contain a sample of organic vitamin C. The audience then divide up into pairs of as and bs, and test each other against a proposition to the effect that "The contents of this envelope are good for you." When the audience open their envelopes, they are invariably amazed to discover that they had tested unanimously "strong" to the vitamin C, and unanimously "weak" to the artificial sweetener. "The nutritional habits of countless families across the country were changed," Hawkins writes, "due to this simple demonstration."35

At the time of writing, I have not myself experimentally verified the technique described above; yet it seems to me clear that Hawkins's claims for it may be easily verified or falsified by any pair of experimenters willing to duplicate his described technique.36 Assuming experimental results are as easily duplicated as Hawkins claims, this kinesiological technique may open the door for anyone to make their own experimentally verifiable investigations into what has, under the "classical model," heretofore been labled "the paranormal," and what I prefer to call "metaconsciousness." One does not have to be "psychically gifted," in other words, in order to perform these experiments, and receive "answers" of verifiable accuracy.

The Myth of Metaconsciousness Expanded and Summarized

It should be clear by now that we are not talking about anything "new," but only applying a contemporary lexical innovation to something humans have been speculating about, and discussing, time out of mind. This may seem like not very much; however, a shifted vocabulary can sometimes open the way for patterns of thought which would not otherwise rise into conscious awareness. One may think about the gods, for instance, in entirely different (from "classical") ways, if one interprests their myths in terms of the always / everywhere presence of nonlocal quantum events metaconsciously observed; even though only a tiny fraction of all quantum events are observable by one's local self.

Through the above considerations, further contours of the myth emerge, which may be summarized as follows:

  1. A metaconscious entitiy as an amalgam of many information-sharing agents which exhibit the singular property, or its functional equivalent, of learning from experience, by maintaining a dynamic balance among three vital elements: conformity enforcers, diversity generators, and inner-judges. Every metaconscious venture is an experiment. Some "work" better than others; those that work best are given energy and resources for expansion; those that don't work are abandoned.

  2. Metaconsciousness is found under conditions of sufficient richness, diversity, variety, complexity, and liberty among large numbers of information-sharing agents. However, if one imagines that metaconsciousness is caused by, or is a product of said richness, diversity, etc., one is led into endless paradoxical logic-loops; for absent metaconsciousness in the first place, whence came all this richness, diversity, variety, complexity, and liberty? Classical linear logic is no more adequate to grapple with such "chicken / egg" paradoxes than it is to grapple with nonlocal quantum effects.

  3. The information-sharing agents associated with metaconsciousness may be quantum fields anywhere and everywhere throughout the universe, subatomic particles combining in atomic nuclei, atoms in molecular combination, molecular structures in a microbe, microbes in a colony, neurons in a nervous system, microprocessors in an artificial neural network, fish in a school, birds in a flock, and / or an enormous variety of alternative components in systems of virtually limitless description; observed, unobserved, and / or unimagined.

  4. Contrary to the individual selection "theorists," metaconsciousness appears to manifest and evolve massively, expansively, "deliberately," on an ever-expanding arc, wherever / whenever conditions of richness, diversity, variety, complexity, and liberty are found, in all Cosmic regions, at all scales, under any and all circumstances in which such conditions prevail. Indeed, it may be reasonably observed that the "individual agents" of metaconsciousness are illusory, and are "really" inseparable "parts" of an indivisible and singular Whole which encompasses and includes "All That Is," and excludes nothing whatsoever.

  5. Accordingly, the metaconsciousness of the Whole is entirely transcendent of that of the "local agent" at any particular scale; and in general, the metaconsciousness of any entity, at any scale, is entirely transcendent of that of the individual agents that combine in its manifestation. Elsewhere, I have remarked that "although individual humans are often extraordinarily bright, taken as a whole, the human race seems to be supremely comatose, stupid, dull, and regimented." Or in other words, that the human metaconsciousness appears to be, shall we say "somewhat less than much, and only a little more than anything."37 This may be far too pessimistic an evaluation, however. In view of what we have observed in these latest speculations, particularly the kineseological disclosures of Hawkins, et al., it now seems to me far more probable that the human metaconsciousness is indeed transcendent of that of individual humans, dull and bright alike; has reached the "conclusion" that civilization doesn't work; and is now in the process of committing massive, global apoptosis in preparation for the next stage of the human adventure in Cosmos.

  6. The apoptosis of civilized humans is now at the stage where the conformity enforcers have become dominant, and are in the process of making life impossible for the diversity generators – upon whom all prospects for change and innovative new directions for civilization now depend; and civilization's inner-judges have given up on the project as a total write-off.

The River and the Cataract

The metaphorical image of civilization that now enters my mind is one of a river, broad and deep, curving its way through formidable canyons and impenetrable jungles – and headed over a cataract of bottomless depth; sort of like the pit Gandalf fell into during his argument with the Balrog in the Mines of Moria, if you happened to have watched The Fellowship of the Ring recently, or read the book. That is where civilization is headed – although above the cataract, the river is broad and smooth, and supports much coming and going by the many civilized people who navigate the "mainstream."

In considering these matters, Daniel Quinn has compared the many good-hearted measures aimed at solving the human predicament, such as lobbying for more ecologically sound practices, with "placing sticks in the streambed" in a vain attempt to obstruct its flow over the cataract; and he has expressed the ambition of diverting the river altogether, so it takes a different and less catastrophic course. I do not believe the river can be diverted from its course. Civilization is headed over the cataract, no matter what anyone, or all of us together, think or wish about it – simply because civilization doesn't work38.

The only "solution," therefore, is for anyone with the vision and the will to get out of the "mainstream" before it sweeps us all to oblivion! This is not easily done, for the "mainstream" is hedged in by jungles and canyons which are at best difficult, and maybe impossible to negotiate; not to mention the many and various "fences" artificially erected by the conformity enforcers for the deliberate purpose of keeping civilized people hemmed into the "mainstream." It is far, far easier, and far more inviting, to continue navigating the broad, smooth waters of the "mainstream" – above the cataract. And so, this is exactly what most people are most likely to continue to do, until the "bitter end."

Nevertheless, like it or not, the choices for individual humans are two, and only two: 1) Get out of the "mainstream" of civilization, and head for higher ground; or 2) Stay with the "mainstream" of civilization, and be swept, sooner or later, to oblivion.

Myself, I have "gotten out of the mainstream" and am now working my way along the bank, seeking a possible route to higher ground. I still feel exposed, though, to high peril, as the "mainstream" may flood at any moment, sweeping away all upon or near it. It is essential to head for higher ground, and this is not easy, and may not even be possible for everyone who attempts it. The canyons are steep, and the jungles are dense, and every step forward requires enormous effort, and entails significant risk. It is often very tempting to return to the "mainstream," where one can at least navigate easily across the broad expanses of the still-accommodating waters. But the thunder of the cataract is clearly audible, and the quiet current sweeps all inexorably downstream to doom and oblivion. The "mainstream" is no longer a viable choice – at least for me.

Further, I do not believe that a single individual, or a traditional "nuclear family," is likely to find a way unaided to higher ground. It must be possible to unite one's efforts with others who have likewise discovered the futility, and the catastrophic destiny, of the "mainstream." Those who remain in the river, no matter how gracefully and effortlessly they are able to navigate now, and no matter how lavish and well-appointed their yachts and floating palaces, will sooner or later be swept over the cataract. Yet the alternative of breaking a path through trackless jungle, or over precipetous cliffs, is a formidable challenge, to say the very least. It is not an attractive prospect, and few there seem to be who are able even to entertain it as a concept – never mind actually undertaking it with determined persistence.

So, where does one begin? In my view, the perils of trackless jungles and overhanging canyons notwithstanding, the most difficult and formidable obstacle facing any would-be contemporary diversity generator is reaching the decision to desert the "mainstream," and face the hazards of seeking higher ground. Is civilization really such a hopeless and irredemable mess as I have portrayed it to be? This is a question each individual must answer for her or himself, and choose accordingly.

For myself, I think Spooner, writing in the aftermath of the Civil War39 in America, summed up the prospects for civilization when he described "government" – the active agent by which civilizations have always advanced their agendas – like this:

It is with government, as Caesar said it was in war, that money and soldiers mutually supported each other; that with money he could hire soldiers, and with soldiers extort money. So these villains, who call themselves governments, well understand that their power rests primarily upon money. With money they can hire soldiers, and with soldiers extort money. And, when their authority is denied, the first use they always make of money, is to hire soldiers to kill or subdue all who refuse them more money.40

Is it not so? With the civil conformity enforcers in the driver's seat, and apoptosis in "fast forward," what destiny but the Abyss for civilization? Such, anyway, is my analysis, and it's ho! for higher ground, no matter what obstacles or hazards bar the way. If I perish in the attempt, so be it; I already know my destiny, if I remain in or near the "mainstream."

Next edition, we will explore some of the means available to us for seeking higher ground.

This essay is followed by a sequel, More About Metaconsciousness, Part II: Higher Ground, "Dear Friends," 3/20/05 edition.


Civilization and Beyond


  1. Civilization and Savagery – 5/25/04;

  2. Beyond Civilization or The Killer Meme – 6/20/04;

  3. The Tribal Ideal – 7/2/04;

  4. Leavers and Takers – 8/6/04;

  5. In the Hands of the Gods – 8/18/04.

  6. The Gods & the Law of Life – 9/9/04.

  7. The Metaconsciousness Myth – 9/22/04.

  8. A Pact With the Devil – 10/14/04.

  9. A Metaconscious Mosaic – 10/27/04.

  10. More About Metaconsciousness, Part I – 2/5/05.

  11. More About Metaconsciousness, Part II – 3/20/05.


1. I have encountered along my path several works with particular relevance in different ways to the metaconsciousness myth; which list may serve as the Bibliography for what follows:

2. Heinberg, 2004, p. 139.

3. See footnote 1.

4. Bloom does use the term, "meta-intellect." See the quote associated with footnote 11.

5. "10.3 minutes, to be more precise." (Bloom's footnote.)

6. "The staying power of helium atoms is so great that roughly 14 billion years later, the universe remains 25 percent helium." (Bloom's footnote.) I feel moved to add the comment (asside) that I can vividly imagine some over-zealous conformity enforcer in contemporary civilization passionately protesting, "But that's immoral! A proton and neutron pair ought not to engage in a plural marriage with another proton-neutron pair; it's fundamentally wrong."

7. Bloom, 2000, p. 14.

8. I addressed the "accidental creation" issue at some length last February.

9. Bloom, 2000, p. 4.

10. "Scientific heresies" are no joke, and can result in loss of funding, tenure, and in effective professional ostricism for those who run afoul of the conformity enforcers of scientific orthodoxy by espousing, or even researching the "wrong theories." This is why I enclose "theory" in quotes, in speaking of "the 'theory' of individual selection." It is also why I prefer myths to "theories."

11. Bloom, 2000, p. 4.

12. Ibid., pp. 8-9.

13. Ibid., pp. 15-18.

14. Ibid., p. 42.

15. See footnote 10.

16. Bloom, 2000, Chapter 7, "A Trip Through the Perception Factory," pp. 64-70. See also my list of quantum effects summarized below, particularly item d.

17. To preserve this vital balance, I have long advocated the formula, a) Do whatever you like; b) Allow all others the same liberty. Provision a, absent the tempering provision b, is a formula for the chaos of runaway diversity generators – which may in turn, as in the instance of contemporary civilization, morph into rogue conformity enforcers.

18. Following are a selection of representative comments:

19. Dr. Schulze's Common Sense Health & Healing Newsletter, January 2005, Front Cover, Dr. Richard Schulze,

20. Just for a single example among many: TOTAL POLICE STATE TAKEOVER: The Secret Patriot Act II Destroys What Is Left of American Liberty by Alex Jones. Reminds me of an incident alleged to have occurred in Philadelphia just after the drafting of the Constitution. Someone asked Benjamin Franklin, "What kind of a government have you made for us?" "A republic," was Franklin's alleged reply, "if you can keep it." In 1869, Lysander Spooner drafted a more elaborate, and perhaps more truthful reply to that question: No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority.

The trend of "government" to date reminds me of another incident. Where my family used to reside, there was a neighbor who kept half a dozen or so cows and calves in an adjacent pasture, and every day in wintertime he would come down the road in his pickup truck with a bale or two of hay for his cattle; and they were always overjoyed to see him come. They eagerly and happily gathered round at the end of the pasture where he pitched the hay over the fence for them, and refreshed their water. He took good care of his animals, and they showed every evidence of appreciating it.

Every year there came a day, however, when our neighbor arrived, not with hay for his cattle, but in company with the Butcher, and his truck. The cattle were nevertheless as glad to see him as on any other day, and happily romped to his end of the pasture, as always. There they were summarily shot and butchered on the spot, and their carcases were trucked away to the meat market for sale; and our good neighbor, I suppose, pocketed a tidy sum in exchange for them.

Then there is the parallel National ID, coupled with the Secret Patriot Act II issue. If either of these ever become "law," I do not pretend to have much better idea of "what to do about it" than had my neighbor's cattle in regard to the coming of the Butcher – aside from fomenting metaconsciousness. But unlike my neighbor's cattle, I can at least see the Butcher coming; and I am not running joyously to greet him. Read Spooner while you can, is my advice, and network assiduously with your peers. (See also A Pact With the Devil, footnotes 20 and 21.) The gates are swiftly closing; and this time, if they close entirely, there will be no "Last Train From Berlin." May the gods help us all. Amen.

21. Spooner, 1869, XVIII, writes as follows:

These money-lenders, the Rosthchilds, for example, say to themselves: If we lend a hundred millions sterling to the queen and parliament of England, it will enable them to murder twenty, fifty, or a hundred thousand people in England, Ireland, or India; and the terror inspired by such wholesale slaughter, will enable them to keep the whole people of those countries in subjection for twenty, or perhaps fifty, years to come; to control all their trade and industry; and to extort from them large amounts of money, under the name of taxes; and from the wealth thus extorted from them, they (the queen and parliament) can afford to pay us a higher rate of interest for our money than we can get in any other way. Or, if we lend this sum to the emperor of Austria, it will enable him to murder so many of his people as to strike terror into the rest, and thus enable him to keep them in subjection, and extort money from them, for twenty or fifty years to come. And they say the same in regard to the emperor of Russia, the king of Prussia, the emperor of France, or any other ruler, so called, who, in their judgment, will be able, by murdering a reasonable portion of his people, to keep the rest in subjection, and extort money from them, for a long time to come, to pay the interest and the principal of the money lent him.

22. Bloom, 2000, p. 52.

23. From Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772-1834, emphasis added.

24. Beyond Civilization or The Killer Meme; The Tribal Ideal; Leavers and Takers; The Metaconsciousness Myth; Walking Away, after Quinn, 1999. See The Tribe for suggested "Leaver-oriented" alternatives to these "lethal memes."

25. I discussed some of the "peculiarities" at the quantum scale in "Knowledge," August, 1997.

26. This was persuasively demonstrated in a 1982 experiment by Alain Aspect, et al., at the University of Paris-Sud. See Goswami, 1993, 1995, pp. 113-121, for a discussion of this experiment, and some of its implications.

27. "Knowledge."

28. Planck's constant is a very small, yet discrete number discovered by Max Planck in 1900 to be of enormous significance at the quantum scale: 6.626176 × 10-34 joul-seconds, to be precise, in case you're interestd.

29. See footnote 16, and the paragraph on conformity enforcers to which it refers.

30. E. Harris Walker, 1970, "The nature of consciousness," Mathematical Biosciences, 7:131-78, cited by Goswami, 1993, 1995, p.167.

31. L. Bass, 1975, "A quantum mechanical mind-body interaction," Foundations of Physics, 5:155-72, cited by Goswami, loc. cit.

32. Fred Alan Wolf, Taking the Quantum Leap, Harper and Row, San Francisco, 1981, cited by Goswami, 1993, loc. cit.

33. G. Goodheart, Applied Kinesiology, 12th Edition, Privately Published, Detroit, 1976, cited in Hawkins, 1995, 1998, 2002, p. 41.

34. Hawkins, 1995, 1998, 2002, p. 42.

35. Ibid., p. 59.

36. Hawkins gives additional refinements to the technique, for the sake of avoiding known sources of misleading "answers," such as cautining participants not to wear jewelry, particularly quartz wristwatches, during testing, as these evidently skew results. Serious investigators may do well to consult his book.

37. James Thurber, The 13 Clocks, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1950, p. 31.

38. My views do not conflict with Quinn's, because the metaphorical river of which he writes embraces the entire human destiny upon planet Earth; while the the river of which I am writing here represents only the "mainstream" of human civilization, headed irrevocably into the Abyss.

39. I have often in the past mused over this term, "Civil War," wondering how war could possibly be linked with anything remotely civil. I have since concluded that the term is more appropriate than I could ever have imagined, for to be civil is to be at war with one's fellows, with all Life, with metaconsciousness, and with the very gods.

40. Spooner, 1869, III.

"More About Metaconsciousness, Part I" copyright 2005 by J. Harmon Grahn. Copying and redistribution, in whole or in part, are permitted in any medium provided this notice is included.

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Civilization and Beyond