Invasions of Privacy … the Kind We Like

Mayan-72A couple of posts ago, I mentioned the allegedly late Timothy Leary’s disdain for privacy—“the evil of monotheism,” he called it. Personally, I’m as alarmed as anyone else about threats to personal privacy from both government and corporations. But some invasions of privacy seem downright benign—or at least they do to me.

For example, Pat and I just now discovered that Amazon.com keeps track of people’s highlights in Kindle copies. Pat and I were delighted to see what readers marked in our award-winning novel Mayan Interface. You can find these quotes at the bottom of its Kindle page. (It is also available in paperback.) Here are a few that we especially like:

Change is always dangerous. And to become a new person, first you must die. It’s an absolute requirement. Now getting resurrected—that’s the tricky part.

You may have heard that Eve was the first woman, but that’s not quite true. Eve was actually a small, dark-eyed, long-tailed monkey—well, not quite a monkey, more like a lemur. And she lived, oh, some fifty million years ago—back during the Epoch of Miracles, let’s say.

What’s required is the courage to risk change without knowing what it will bring about. What’s needed are adventurers willing to go into whatever is ahead without even knowing what they, themselves, will become—because no one transformation will suffice for all.

The Maya understand that their people were shaped by both history and myth. We think of history as “what really happened” and of a myth as a story made up to account for whatever people didn’t understand—and unnecessary once science and logic have explained everything. But if a myth has influenced anyone’s life, then in some sense it “happened”—and is therefore history.4 mystery gllyphs

Jaynesiana

9k=I must admit that I’m fairly obsessed with the ideas of the late psychologist Julian Jaynes. If you’ve been following these posts, I’m sure you’ve noticed. Just about everything that Pat and I write has been influenced by his mind-blowing classic, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Our latest visionary novel Mayan Interface is steeped in his thinking.

I recently finished reading The Julian Jaynes Collection, a splendid new anthology of Jaynesiana edited by Marcel Kuijsten. I found the last half of the book to be a special treat. Consisting of interviews and discussions, it brings me closer to the man himself than I ever hoped to get.

Here’s an exchange that I particularly like. In an interview with Sam Keen, Jaynes says this about the ongoing evolution of human consciousness:

We are still in transition, entering into the gateways of a different kind of mentality.

At the end of the interview, Keen comes back to this point:

It would seem that we are becoming freer. Is history pushing us toward enlightenment, toward waking up from the illusion that we must be blindly obedient to external authorities?

I love Jaynes’s reply:

What interests me is the metaphors you use: freedom, awakening, the passage from darkness to light. You are creating or changing consciousness by metaphors. In my value system, the effect of those metaphors is to strengthen the individual, to change consciousness for the better. But I am mostly aware of what the metaphors are doing. When you ask me what we are becoming, it is like asking me to choose one of a thousand roads. It’s like asking how history is going to end up. To ask for an end or a purpose is to ask for a single path. And consciousness is always open to many possibilities. It is always an adventure.

Pat and I put it this way in an interview with each other:

Our protagonists learn to abdicate certainty and safety. Life is risk. Transformation means never knowing what will happen next—or even what or who you will become. Nothing that’s evolving ever knows exactly where it’s going.