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Consciousness

We talk about consciousness a lot, we have even made it into a modern scientific discipline – ‘consciousness research’ – and quite possibly we feel that we going to get somewhere with our inquiries and are quite excited by this possibility. It’s logical that science should turn its attention to consciousness; this is virgin territory after all since no one so far has managed to discover anything at all about it. We might even see consciousness as ‘the last great mystery for science to solve’.




There’s a joke here however and no one is very quick to get it! The joke is that if we are conscious then we wouldn’t be talking about it; we wouldn’t be talking about it and we certainly wouldn’t be doing any research into it! It’s not possible to talk meaningfully about consciousness and when we are conscious we don’t want to be talking about it either. We don’t have any interest in that. ‘Chatting about consciousness’ is strictly the prerogative of the unconscious…




And as for doing research into consciousness, the most ridiculous thing in the world would be for us to do research into the nature of consciousness when we actuallyare conscious. Nothing could be more ridiculous! We would have absolutely zero motivation to do this – there’s no way that anything research could ever tell us that would in any way add to the experience of being conscious. Consciousness has nothing whatsoever to do with what we might learn from research. It’s a different ball game entirely – we’re mixing up quantity with quality! We actually talk about ‘decoding consciousness’, as if this makes any sense at all! That’s how crazy we are…




The point here of course is that we are not interested in being aware, we just want the lowdown on it – we just want to work out what the ‘cheats’ are, we just want to find out how we can exploit this phenomenon. Why else would we want the information? This is what we do with everything – we work out the underlying code for the system and then we exploit it to our benefit. This is the winning formula that we have used time and time again – it’s the secret of our success. Knowledge is power, as they say; knowledge turns into technology and who knows what amazing technologies we could create out of consciousness research!




None of this means anything if we are conscious though – the idea of ‘doing something in order to benefit ourselves’ becomes quite nonsensical. The idea of ‘doing something so as to benefit ourselves’ is a joke when we are conscious – the idea of ‘squeezing something so as to get the good out of it’ is a joke and this is a paradox that we as consciousness researchers never suspect to find. We’re looking for something smaller than us, not something bigger. We don’t want to have the tables turned on us in this way – that’s not in our plan at all! We can’t imagine finding anything bigger than us; we just can’t envisage that possibility – when we look for stuff to exploit this automatically means that we consider our purposes for exploiting the resource to be more important than the resource itself. The exploiter is always more important than the exploited, after all…




The truth of the matter is that although we talk a lot about consciousness and make out that we are deeply inspired by it, we’re not really interested at all. We just like talking about consciousness, we just like making out that we are inspired. We feel better about ourselves that way; we feel that we’re more interesting people that way, perhaps – it’s good to be interested in interesting things after all! Everyone needs a hobby, or so they say… The truth is however that we are only interested in chatting about consciousness and that isn’t the same thing at all. We’re ‘armchair adventurers’…




If we were interested in consciousness then we wouldn’t be talking about it. How can talking about it compare with the thing itself!? If we were interested in consciousness then we wouldn’t be thinking about it – ‘thinking about things’ is after all to be unconscious! Every time we think about things we become unconscious; even if it’s consciousness that we are thinking about, we still become unconscious! If we were interested in consciousness then we would be conscious – nothing else counts. We are not interested however; we’re not really interested in finding out discovering something that is so much bigger than us, we’re not interested in discovering something that shows us up (or shows our purposes up) as being so very, very small. Oddly enough, we’re not interested in that at all!






Author: Nick Williams

Nick Williams works and writes in the field of mental health and is particularly interested in non-equilibrium states of consciousness, which are states of mind that cannot be validated by standardized experiments or by reference to any formal theoretical perspective.
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