The “Single Synapse” Theory

“The transformation of the personality begins with the deliberate activation of a single synapse.” Thus Spake Aforista.

The Postfuturist Sage Aforista makes it sound so easy! Most of us find it difficult to utterly change our personalities from the bottom up. But maybe, in a world on the brink of fiscal cliffs, climate change, global pandemics, and all manner of other crises, we must learn to do so.

In the November 1987 issue of the newsletter version of the jamais vu papers (which eventually served as the basis of an eponymously titled novel), Pat interviewed the late economist Robert Theobald, who made some striking observations on this very issue:

It is a truism that change happens in crisis. Without a crisis people will go on doing things as they have always done them because change is always time-consuming and usually frustrating.…

Bluntly put, homeostasis is the path of the least resistance, and we are stubbornly inclined to follow it, even when change is needed. Even impending crisis typically doesn’t tend to elicit positive change:

If the scope of the crisis seems too extensive people may well panic and simply deny the possibility of affecting the total situation. I believe that there are reasons to fear that this pattern is developing in the world at the current time. We know that things are getting worse but we are so terrified that we continue to keep things going rather than permit some change to happen by forcing situations to the crisis point. All too often the longer we wait the worse the crisis will become.

It’s sad that Theobald’s observations remain so timely a quarter of a century after he made them. Sadder still, we actually invent end times and eschatological deadlines in order to elicit change from without—by extraterrestrial aid, let us say say. Does anybody happen to remember the Harmonic Convergence of 1987?

In an episode little remembered in New Age annals but recorded in a special issue of the jamais vu papers, Quetzalcoatl and the Goddess returned to earth on August 16 of that year to join in the grand fiesta. They were dismayed to find homo sapiens in an evolutionary rut, and dismayed even further that humanity expected them, ancient archetypes that they were, to completely take over the process of terrestrial transformation. In a seldom quoted outburst, Goddess said,

“The idea that a species like yours would just stay immutable for thousands of years at a crack—well, it seems downright ornery, that’s all. I mean, it’s like a kid holding his breath until his face turns blue.”

Will we once again disappoint our archetypal forces and sentient metaphors when the 13th b’ak’tun of the Mayan calendar comes to an end on December 21, 2012? It’s a question that Lydia Rosenstrom, the protagonist of Pat’s and my novel Mayan Interface, pauses to consider as people all over the world await “a force outside themselves to make things right somehow—either by bringing our world to an end or by transforming the whole of humankind”:

“Well, some folks might experience something. Others might miss their best chance while they’re waiting. Some wouldn’t notice transformation if it up and bites them, because it doesn’t fit the story they’re fixed on. Some just expect transformation to be a one-time thing, so they’ll be stuck wherever they arrive that day.”

As Quetzalcoatl and the Goddess tried to tell us back in 1987, we don’t have to wait, and we don’t need extraterrestrial aid. Human nature itself is mutable, after all. And when you get right down to it, it’s simply a matter of deliberately activating that single synapse.

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