Science is a form of knowing as well as doing; it is a ritual which changes our perception of the world. The scientist herself is a shaman, a healer who journeys in a state of ecstasy to other worlds; the magical realism of our ancestors is no mere primitive naivete. Any scientist worth his salt would acknowledge that it is the journey, not the destination, which is the real reward — as soon as the proof is finished the mathematical wizard is off on another quest.
When we discover the qualiadelic we have the sense that we are a simple, but essential, part of a greater narrative. Our sense of belonging, whether to family or community, is based entirely upon the patterns and forms of qualia around which we move. Our sense of fate and higher purpose as well, are wholly a consequence of the qualia that we are able to sense.
Higher knowledge, in any form, is too subtle to anticipate. Like all new knowledge, it is not until we ritual with it that we can know it well enough to tell of it. Although we may have an unconscious awareness of something, we don’t know what it is.
True epiphanies, according to those who claim to have them, are profound and life-changing. That is not surprising: unusual experiences are powerful. The problem is that we confuse the effect with the cause; just because the effect upon us is dramatic, we think the cause must be dramatic, but this is a mistake. New qualia is subtle — we are likely to miss it if we are looking too intently for it.
If we are suddenly granted a taste of the supernatural, it is because a subtle and different qualia has taken advantage of an opening; our natural defenses — our habits of mind — have momentarily loosened up and a bit of the noetic has slipped in.
There is no reason why paranormal events shouldn’t be possible. The problem is that the popular conception of them — ghosts and UFOs and the like — hijacks the personal experience; it is as if the first thing that came to mind during a spiritual epiphany was a Ringling Brothers’ circus act.
When we are touched by something so subtle as noetic qualia, we have to ritual with it. What starts as a most delicate awareness, a most tenuous cognition, can only be transformed into more concrete ideas and symbols through repeated ritualing. Only then can we begin to reason about the supernatural; only then can we have some idea of its true nature.
With nano technology putting robots into our bloodstream, and machines giving us our life, how are we to face the future? How are we to view the penumbra of technological innovation without fear?
We are moving into the machine as surely as one-celled animals moved into the globs and blobs of amoebic protoplasm long, long ago, near the beginning of life on Earth. The one-celled creatures were far smarter than these larger, formless life-forms. The one-celled, barbarian beasts were street wise to survival, and merely exploiting the multicellular, protoplasmic, urban complexes sprouting around them in the primordial soup.
It turned out to be a successful move, like the mitochondria into our own cells, or the bacteria into our own stomachs. Different living creatures, working together, specializing in their tasks, made the whole greater than its parts. The new organisms, a combination of one-celled and multi-celled, were bigger, smarter, stronger — bionic!
Moving into the machine might not be a catastrophy; nor might it destroy our human essence. Just as mitochondria metabolize our air and food, so we metabolize qualia. We manufacture it; we create it. That, truly, is what is best about us — we are homo qualians — no matter where we do our ritualing.
It is a fine thing to contemplate the beauty of the landscape. All landscapes, from mountains to symphonies to human bodies, are profound. Indeed, an aesthetic sense is essential to life. If we don’t notice, how are we to survive?
We have to move toward the deeper qualia which is inherent in everything. As any musician or artist knows — as any successful ritualer knows — talent alone only takes us so far; practice takes us closer to the goal. If the mountain doesn’t come to Mohammed, he has to go the mountain.
Like the prophet, we each have to create our own path as we go.
Speciation occurs through a process of reproductive isolation. As various crises force creatures to adapt — to move to new environments, to eat new food, etc. — they evolve apart. Sometimes their adaptations become so strange that they are no longer attracted to each other; they are still of the same species, but they don’t mate. Sometimes they become so estranged that they can’t mate — they have become separate species.
Cultures, too, seem innately to favor separating one people from another. Other cultures are different, and even incomprehensible; the history of civilization is a record of “chosen” peoples bad-mouthing their barbarian neighbors. Perhaps, though, we have turned a corner. The world is getting smaller all the time, and it is only individuals, or groups of individuals (for instance, white trash, or environmentalists) who consider other groups of individuals to be barbarians.
Indeed, many of our ideas move us toward isolation. We are experiencing, on a global level, qualiadelic speciation. As always, though, in times of crisis the successful species can adapt to a variety of settings (are not just one-trick ponies). Conscious ritualers can move through qualiascapes the way a poet moves through metaphors.
Over the recent century, artists have learned to produce works marked by ambiguity and/or offensiveness, whose meanings are purposely left unclear. However, by creating art that puts people off, artists reveal some profound aspects of ritualing and the qualiadelic experience.
Often, because we don’t understand the work, the mystery and the wonder is transferred from the art to the artist. As if it is the artist who holds some magic key, some genius that the rest of us lack. The artist, like a modern shaman, seems to exist in some alternate reality than the rest of us.
The reason is simple: we are concerned with being true to ourselves, but the artist, rather than be true to self, is true to each work. It is the art — some mysterious qualiadelic pattern – to which the artist is true. The artist rituals with it, plays with it, until it is manifested in a work.