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The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind Paperback – August 15, 2000
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From The New Yorker
"When Julian Jaynes . . . speculates that until late in the twentieth millennium b.c. men had no consciousness but were automatically obeying the voices of the gods, we are astounded but compelled to follow this remarkable thesis."
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Theories about the absence of introspection as a mental reality prior to three thousand years ago (1500 BC), are supported, says Jaynes, by the colorful sagas of Homer's Illiad, from an analysis of the behavior of Old Testament characters, and even of the behavior and activities of men from ancient China. This may indeed be true.
However, the theory weakens considerably when we turn to pre-Celtic and Celtic lore.
The accounts of the world contained in the works of the Welsh bard Taliesin certainly reveal self-awareness. The proclamations of Irish sun-god Lugh as to his mastery of all the arts, clearly and definitely shows self-awareness, individuality and I-ness, as does the striking Song of Amergin, ancient bard of the Milesian Gaels:
I am the wind on the sea,
I am a wave of the ocean,
I am the roar of the wave,
I am an ox of seven exiles,
I am a hawk on a cliffe,
I am a tear of the sun,
I am a turning in a maze,
I am a boar in valour,
I am a salmon in a pool,
I am a lake on a plain,
I am a dispensing power,
I am a grass-blade in the earth
Subject to decay,
I am a creative, weaving god
Who counsels the head.
Who else clears the stones of a mountain?
Who is it who declaims the sun’s rising?
Who is better to tell where the sun sets?
Who brings cattle from the house of Tethra?
Upon whom do th cattle of Tethra smile?
Who is the ox?
Who is the weaving god who mends the thatch of wounds?
The incantation of a spear - the incantation of the wind!
This poem or incantation was recorded by monks in the Book of Leinster and Book of Invasions, but dates from a period of greater antiquity - the so-called Mythological Cycle of Irish prehistory. Whoever composed the story (probably as a personification of the sun through the 12 houses of the zodiac) was himself self-conscious and capable of composing highly metaphorical works.
There is nothing non-subjective, non-introspective and automated about these statements, nor in Lugh's delineation of his many skills, making him the "Samildanach" of the Gaels.
Moreover, it can be argued that the conversations between Arjuna and Krishna, as found in the Vedic Mahabharata, also show a high degree of self-consciousness in the parties.
This does not invalidate Jaynes' theory, but we must not accept it wholesale. In my estimation, the Bicameral Period probably did exist, but as a relatively temporary state of consciousness brought on by psychic trauma from the effects and aftereffects of terrestrial cataclysm, as delineated by the great Immanuel Velikovsky.
Velikovsky's "Mankind in Amnesia" must be read by everyone tackling the theories of Julian Jaynes and his well-meaning advocates. It is certainly amazing that his cogent and proven theories were not dealt with by Jaynes or any of his advocates. It's a striking omission, as is the lack of interest in Celtic lore.
This book shows how the "bicameral mind" influences the politics and thinking of people and what can be done to influence them to change their minds on matters of policy. Reading this book will enlighten the reader and given the state of today's political scene will give the reader an insight into the mindset of the Far Right thinker.