Jan Cox Talk 2552

An Alligator of Many Questions


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Transcript by DC

Jan Cox Talk 2552  : July 17, 2000
© Jan Cox, Jan's Legacy 2008.
These notes prepared by DC on 3/31/2008 from audio file.

Suggested Title : An Alligator of Many Questions

[Audio file has uneven volume.]

Begin:  I thought of some more things to say about what I was talking about last time about the high end of our nervous system being the mammalian brain, what amounts to the neocortex, built on top of the reptilian brain...although to break down anything...into any parts is an error...the brainstem...up to the thalamus, the diencephalon area...[is the reptilian brain]...and its largest part is the olfactory lobes...[it is said] that there's no doubt that our hemispheres, the cerebral cortex grows out of...the olfactory lobes turn inside out and become...the mammalian brain, the cortex.

03:04  As I mentioned before...the cortex can be damaged severely...and...you would still live, because the reptilian part of the brain takes care of all the instincts...respiration, the endocrine system...everything else...whereas just slight damage to the brainstem can prove to be fatal...

05:21  Our reptilian brain only reacts to the environment.  It is absolutely automatic ...we have this going on in us ...no one thinks about it in discrete terms.  There's no need to, obviously, in ordinary people but I have found it useful ...ask yourself right now, "What am I doing?" ...could I switch off one or the other [mammalian or reptilian] and still be operating as efficiently...?

08:51  [Example]  The consumption of alcohol affects all parts of the brain ...a person can drink enough and, so to speak, become another person ...the cortex has "gone to sleep." It has passed out...

15:13  "...this person you know get[s] drunk and their cortex, which is the only place that personality, as we call it, lives ...your temperament lives down in the brainstem, but what people normally call personality ...it's as though some demon, a reptile that can talk ...the cortex, the mammalian brain, that which makes us human went to sleep before your very eyes.  The whole person didn't go to sleep.  The thing that mystics talk about, that we're in a state of sleep ...if you could stay sober enough ...you have watched, in the mystical sense -- you have watched somebody's cortex, which is the only place any of us are asleep or in captivity -- the thing has gone to sleep...it was not the part of the brain in charge of talking, the part that is responsible for human emotion -- not instinctive passion, but of human emotion -- that thing was not even present.  It was literally passed out, even though the human was still talking...

18:10  The view, the attitude of the cortex and that of the brainstem ...are speaking two different languages;  they have two different worlds of interests...

20:27  The whole world of society, civilization, culture is ...foreign to the reptilian brain...

20:53  The idea that stress, or psychosomatic illness is a reality ...what if the reptilian brain on its own could be conscious? ...Look at our day and time ...How close does the reptilian brain ever get to conditions wherein it and the conditions are face to face? ...[imagine dropping a rainforest native naked with his blow gun in Manhattan, or a Harvard professor into the jungle.]

26:29  Even though we're living more and more in an artificial world ...the reptilian brain is not faced with threats on its life ...Where does the pressure come from nowadays?  I say it comes from the artificial world, from the secondary world.

28:00  [From last time, cortex as screener] screening out old automatic, reptilian reactions that were unnecessary.

29:42  Its original screening had to do with matters biological whereas the screening now, I say, has to do with things cultural, the secondary world...

30:35  That kind of stress that they speak about that causes psychosomatic illness ...would come not from the repression of sex, let's say.  But now you're repressing sex not for biological reasons but you're doing it for cultural reasons ...you can change your eating habits, but there's no biological need ..."I joined some new cult and we only eat raisin toast."

31:19  The pressures do not come from any instinctive need.  They come from cultural, from secondary needs.  So, if the cortex is repressing sex, repressing anger ...[hating job is from the cortex, mental dislike].

32:59  You are censoring, screening out, repressing urges, interests you have, but you're doing it for cultural reasons ...there's no physical reason to be doing this.  You've got no physical reason to hate your job.  You just hate it; it's boring.  Or it could be that you do hate the boss ...and if you can't say anything, what happens?  You begin to get sick;  you begin to get headaches ...[1950's book, "Man Against Himself".]

34:34  The more we're living in an artificial world, the more that we are dealing in artifacts -- how many of us are growing food with our own hands? ...Almost everything we touch, look at and smell is man-made ...I repeat, "artificial" is not a judgement ...my "secondary" world, the reason I came up with the term, it's a total invention.  And so the brainstem, the instinctive mind has very little direct contact ...with the natural world anymore ...[but the brainstem feels the pressure from the cortex]...

36:28  Zoologists ...classified all animals [as to] whether they were offensive or defensive ...animals who fight and animals who seek to escape ...are you aware that man is classified as a flight animal? ...There are zoologists that swear that aggression is foreign to man ...the first thing that they will seek to do is flee from a dangerous situation ...the whole idea of civilization is, in a sense, a cocoon ...an environment wherein you could say there is minimal ...threat to the instinctive brain...

40:09  The idea that man is in conflict with himself ...between the old, reptilian brain and the newer, conscious mammalian brain ...the reptilian brain ...is completely out of touch with the artificial world ...your instinctive brain cannot drive a car ...the body, finally through habit can learn to drive it, but you've got to be conscious...

42:53  The pressure of acting in a way that is acceptable to your society has absolutely no meaning whatsoever to our instincts.

43:09  I ask you to consider again from last time what goes on in the conscious mind continually when you're doing nothing in particular ...I said that I thought about it driving today ...your sense of I -- that at any given moment your sense of I could either be lost down into the gyrus and sulcus of the brain -- that's the convolutions, the folds ...and furrows of the ...brain ...You can either be down in there lost, which is to be lost in thought ...or in the brainstem ...which compared to the cortex is a pretty streamlined, unadorned little structure.  So, I was driving along and it hit me ..."What are my instincts saying?"

45:28  With enough experience you can [drive] without thinking about it.  "Yeah.  But you can't do it instinctively."  Try it ...what if I was ...an animal, driving a car, and I did not have thoughts?...

47:06  A snake will never become accustomed to your walking up to it ...and stomping your foot ...that one day, finally, the snake will go, "Ah, shit.  It's just him."  It doesn't have a choice! ...It's laughable to talk about a choice...

47:33  Our instinctive brain, in all of us, no matter what your IQ is, if you were down to the instinctive, reptilian brain and there it is driving...

48:33  I could make a whole new metaphysical system, elaborate, complex, courses to take, years of study:  "What are my instincts saying?"  If you could answer that, you're awake, since there is no answer.

49:05  If something as mundane and crude as alcohol can literally put consciousness to sleep ...to where you, the you that is you is not there ...have ceased to be anybody...[Pigmeat Markham story]...

52:36  It's not that you're another person;  you cease to BE a person ...the person went back to be an alligator ...you have shut off somebody's personality.  You have shut off consciousness …there is the reality of somebody asleep ...you saw in a mystical sense ...you saw somebody g-o t-o s-l-e-e-p.

54:40  Here we are, sober, trying to do our best, trying to stay alert, trying to be awake, enlightened and liberated.  What are your instincts saying?  And who are you?  Who is the person that gets so drunk that you suddenly don't even recognize what they're saying? ...Who is that talking?  Is it the brainstem?  Can the brainstem talk?  Is it the instinctive brain?

55:24  Now back to us, sober, as alert as you can be ...listening to me, so we can assume you're trying to do something.  But who are you, right now?  Are you your thoughts?  Are you your instincts?

55:55  An alligator of many questions.