Friday, March 07, 2008


Where are you located right now? Here's my desktop.

A curious aspect of the tide of environment is how powerfully the physiology of our environment affects. The range of responses when (for instance) requesting something from a stranger will vary enormously depending on the physical nature of the environment: indoors/outdoors, open space/proximity to objects, safeness/danger, temperature/humidity/air, and so forth. Only after you've factored in the cultural factors and the presence or absence of other people, can we even begin to consider this rather inflated sense of selfness and perceived free will that we consciously carry around.

Yet before that, the often arbitrary nature of our own physiology also affects our behaviour profoundly: try having a conversation with a friend while you, hunched over, sit on your hands and stare at your feet - you will notice an odd change in the discourse. And it's nothing to do with who or what or how you think you are.

Even more than that, the language patterns and habits (internal and external dialogues) that you've acquired not only have powerful subtexts that are being transmitted to others whose behaviour is being fed back to you creating behavioural loops, but they (the patterns) themselves are affecting you too! (This is one of the reasons that those who have learnt a foreign language often find it allows them a different side to come out to play - that can be a liberating experience as I well know myself.) One small example could be a typically well-intentioned person used to using the conversational pattern 'yes, but....' a lot (see SIGNIFICANCES 5/#10) who will not only be eliciting unfavourable types of responses (without necessarily knowing why) but will also find it profoundly influencing their very own behaviour. Gratuitous swearing is another simple example to consider. All language all the time is having this potential and in my own belief the current underappreciation of its effects will eventually be seen as quaintly primitive.

There remains very little to our identity by the third level of my model of consciousness - hence the illusion of identity: the difference between who/what you think you are.

So where indeed is identity hiding?

More to follow.


hg said...

also, one cannot efficiently tell lies with the palm of their hands wide open facing upwards..

_Black_Acrylic said...

If someone is interested in you they will have their wrists exposed. See also playing with their hair, making lots of eye contact etcetera.

n-rich said...

Hi William - thanks for another thought-provoking post.

It reminded me (once again) that I should have another go at reading Alfred Korzybski's "Science and Sanity" in its entirety. His views regarding the avoidance of projections of identity when discussing others' traits could equally be applied to ourselves, and at the very least we should be mindful of the illusion of identity. Have you studied Korzybski?

Your post also reminded me of an anecdote about Crowley in which - for a fortnight or so - he attempted to escape his egotism by slashing himself with a razor every time he used the terms "I" or "me". Robert Anton Wilson undertook the same experiment (although he permitted himself the lesser punishment of biting his thumb) and reported it to be quite liberating.

William Bennett said...

n-rich, I am only aware of Korzybski in terms of his contribution to gestalt therapy and NLP, and thank you for the 'Science And Sanity' recommendation which I'll hastily look out for; your anecdote is a great one, my father mentioned that at Oxford they would have forfeits in the refectory at lunchtime for this use of first person, and indeed these types of exercises (more often employed by drama improvisers) are a great way of increasing linguistic flexibility and all the resulting benefits that can bring

Luke McElroy said...

The first thing that came to my mind was a friend who did the Landmark Forum, where they learnt specific terms; I find they act differently when they constantly flop out these terms in regular conversation. I guess it makes them feel 'powerful' or something.

Miss Kerry said...

Crowley's trick was called " Liber Jugorum" and it is explained in detail in official OTO document of same name.( Being thus, a official teaching document, specific examples of language must be taken as code, rather than free license with prose.
Add here, this is useless without this:
("Thine arm then serveth thee both for a warning and for a record. )
Thou shalt write down thy daily progress in these practices, until thou art perfectly vigilant at all times over the least action that slippeth from the least of thy fingers."