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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How stupid of us not to have thought of that!, 5 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Left in the Dark (Paperback)
I'm excited after reading this. It's a cliché to say that our species is mad, but that's a poetical judgment, rather than a scientific statement. It's more scientific, and fun, to say that the human being is brain damaged; this can be tested and verified, Left in the Dark does both handsomely.

Now instead of concluding that our species is mad, it is truer, and more fun remember, to argue that we have GONE mad. It took generations, you see, for the damage to kick in, and this is why we are oblivious to our staggering about, like punch drunk fighters, whilst thinking we are normal. At least there is a referee in a fight. We truly believe that we are not staggering at a level that is barely above unconsciousness.

Graham Gynn and Tony Wright, and others, are arguing that the human brain has been deteriorating over the generations and this is the reason why we are all racing towards idiotsville, and at a faster and faster rate; but faster than that; exponentially so, and there will be a time when the coming generations will be so dumb that a Wall Mart microwave will seem like a futurist object!

This is a cause for joy rather than despair, because damage implies repair; so damaged pod people it is then; and it gets better, seeing that the human brain is not working properly, the species is devolving; hence the phenomenon of Justin Beiber!

It's very rare to stumble upon a hypothesis that just makes sense like this one does; so much so that there is no need for peer review hurrahs or a pat on the head from the citadels of orthodox science. Tony Wright is not an academic; neither is he `qualified' to say what he says in here; this is not a hindrance, this is his destiny. It's a sure sign of success, I reckon anyway, that Wright is not an academic, because there was another unqualified guy who found success; I have in mind the 19 Century Welsh brawler, Alfred Russell Wallace. Wallace was the guy who figured out how evolution worked; so this is a sign of something big indeed and like the way natural selection solving the riddle of the giraffe, the discovery of a damaged brain solves the riddle of Justin Bieber.

There are two candidated for the Indiana Jones of the 19th century, Alfred Russell Wallace and Sir Richard Francis Burton. Alfred Russell Wallace went west to live as a savage in the Amazon jungle and Burton went east to impersonate a savage on the way to Mecca. Both were real men. For my money though, Alfred Russell Wallace wins the Indiana Jones prize, not because of his humble origins, not because he was Welsh, no; Alfred Russell Wallace wins because he is the man who discovered how evolution worked!

Alfred Russell Wallace wasn't a posh-boy, like Charles Darwin; neither was he an academic with bags of cash and plenty of connections in the Victorian state, like Darwin was (it's one of those Hollywood myths that the church stood in poor Darwin's way. Charles Darwin was an extremely well connected individual and the puny 19th century England Protestantism was no Spanish inquisition). So Alfred Russell Wallace was a very clever man from very poor origins who went out into the world for a discovery; the mechanism of how evolution worked.

Wallace posted a rough draft of his paper to Charles Darwin and, some say, Darwin wrote up his own version of Wallace's discovery (Darwins paper was sitting in his table draw for a few years gathering dust, apparently) and being wealthy and well connected, Darwin was able to give Wallace a platform, and this way Charles Darwin could claim equal ownership of natural selection. I don't know if this is true, but what a story!

Natural selection is accepted today because it is simple to understand. T. H Huxley once said of Darwin's `discovery', "how extremely stupid not to have thought of that," because natural selection was obvious, it just had to be pointed out. The idea of the damaged brain is like this, that is, it offers an explanation for our wretched state.

Someone should 'borrow' Tony Wright's findings because our planet desperately needs to hear this. It would be stupid for intelligent people, like you and I, to let this one slip through the net, because it's an easy idea to grasp, we just have to let go of our ingrained belief that we are sane and progress will deliver on the promise. Without a doubt then, Left in the Dark is the most exciting thing to come along since Darwinism.

I reckon that the idea of the species running on a damaged brain mode is an optimistic idea because it opens the possibility of a fix. We would all turn into concrete faced pessimists if we believe the orthodox paradigm; that is, the faith that human brain is at the peak of evolution. Championing this paradigm would be depressing indeed, because if the brain really is at its peak, then history is a product of this peak and history is rubbish! But if we say that we are a sick species, then we can forget history and become optimists. The world appears the Hell-hole it is because the world is a mirror of the left hemisphere! (I will not go into the two hemispheres thing. The Left in the Dark website is the place to go).

Being trapped in the damaged hemispheric brain explains why, to use Albert Einstein's words, "humanity seeks an escape from everyday life, with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness". Why do we seek to escape? We seek an escape because the mental machinery that attempts to grasp and understand the world so is badly damaged. This is why we have a metaphysical itch that just won't go away; because the choking brain is itching for the higher state that will re-start the ignition and kick open the doors to the horizon of higher vision; or something like that.

It was Arthur Schopenhauer who said that each person takes the limits of his or her field of vision for the limits of the world. Now how about the entire species reflecting the brain deterioration onto the world? How would we ever know that we are a damaged species, if all we ever knew was the side of our brain that is wrapped up in the rational processing, doom and gloom cataloguing mind? This is why I mentioned the study of ancient texts above; they are the first clue that all is not right. The second clue to the damage is drug taking! Without these clues, the damaged left-brain will never admit to being a sadomasochistic, anti life, suicidal contradiction, because a patient cannot analyse herself and so a species will never admit to a problem. We only have to examine history to see the wars, pogroms, rapes and holocausts; these are the fingerprints of a damaged brain.
Ok, this sounds a tad paranoid from the spot I'm sitting. I mean, surely not me, maybe the other guy, but not me! I don't know about you, but I'm functioning ok. Nevertheless, like I said above, if the brain is perfectly healthy, then we should definitely look upon our history and despair. Happy then that we are a sick species, this is good news remember, because there is room for treatment. Left in the Dark argues that we haven't always been a power mad species. Humans, thousands of years ago, were mentally balanced. This is hard to believe because we watch Hollywood movies set in pharaonic Egypt, some 4500 years ago, and we think that our ancestors were like Charlton Heston, with American accents and perfect teeth. But this is just our bias. We only need to look at our great grandparents to see how much we have changed. The Victorians covered their piano legs so as not to get too sexually aroused and that was only 150 years ago! So how can we be so sure that our ancestors, living 4500 years ago, were exactly like us moderns? In the Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes shows that our ancestors were not as `human' as you and I, that the people who built the great pyramids were very alien to modern humans. The ancients had a different brain structure and so different minds, they were vastly different from modern people and this is the essential point to remember. The human brain was not `left dominator' and so these ancients were in a kind of mental equilibrium, or a mental paradise. After paradise, comes the fall!

Guess what, the fall from paradise was real! In his book, Memories & Visions of Paradise: Exploring the Universal Myth of a Lost Golden Age, Richard Heinberg shows that all cultures have a myth about a fall from paradise. Tony Wright agrees in arguing that the brain has been degenerating for millennia and this is The Fall from paradise. Did God cause The Fall, thus turning us all into simpletons, because we ate too many red apples? There probably was a fall from paradise, but it was not the fall of the Bible, with a topless Adam and a naked Eve frolicking with apples; oh no, that's for the children

So what do we mean by The Fall? How about a fall from a high consciousness state to a lower consciousness state?

So just to recap, according to this hypothesis, The Garden of Eden was real, but it wasn't a place, like Disney Land; rather, Eden was a consciousness projected outwards from a hemispherical balance brain and therefore The Fall myth is neurological degeneration, but turned into an allegorical story. So the story about getting kicked out of the garden of Eden, and the subsequent road to Hell, a story incidentally, that is an echoed in myths throughout the world; myths that tell of how it felt to lose fully functioning consciousness, is a true story, but only half remembered. This is how Hell came about then. Well that's not a good statement because our world is always cognized by our brain and so the state of one's brain is the world. The sad man, remember, always sees the world differently from the happy man, and so an impressively happy person is always in a mental paradise, all of the time. So the Fall was what heroin addicts call `a come down'. The opposite of a come down would be paradise and if only we pessimists can stop moan about how bad things are, we can also be in a mental paradise. Here is an example that I wouldn't recommend trying, but it is a funny example. Give your friend a euphoric inducing drug, say, ecstasy for example, and you notice your friends' happy go lucky behaviour and his annoying blissful outlook on existence. He is in a state of bliss, all of the time. It doesn't matter about his environment because the brain interprets the environment and paradise goggles have been attached to your friends' retina, and so he will call the world we hate, a paradise. This is why the Garden of Eden was a state of mind. Your blissful friend can still hold a conversation and he can still drive a car, but the world he inhabits is a play-pen of joy. There is a strong possibility that your friend will get knocked over by a bus mind; but he probably wouldn't even mind. Thus civilisation is a guard against getting knocked over by a bus. Now give some ecstasy to a troop of baboons, in the traffic free rainforest, and they too will call their environment, Eden; or whatever baboons call paradise.
A fall in consciousness requires a serious neurological disturbance; this disturbance was noticed by our ancestors'; eons ago in pre-history, ancestors who had yet the hang-over we have today. Imagine you had a massive hangover, you wouldn't be able to function at full capacity; and the hangover is getting worse and worse, until you pass your hangover onto your great great grandchildren. These great great grandchildren will be mentally diminished, and they will pass this diminished brain onto their kids until the planet is populated by a diminished species. This means ancient Greeks really were cleverer than you and I and Homer was not a unique poet because all our ancestors were amazing like Homer (I am tempted to insert an unfunny joke about our ancestors being twins to the genius of Homer and today we are twins to the more popular, but less articulate, Homer Simpson, but I won't). So how do we know about this fall? Well fortunately for us, some massively hung-over great great grandchildren remembered their fathers telling strange stories about a better time, stories passed down from the elders of the community, about something their elders once told them when they were children; stories about a time when humans didn't have this painful hangover. These stories would be interpreted by later generations as a fall from a mental paradise. A hung-over person, you see, or a person with a cluster headache, would be in a Hell; both mental and environmental. Take the cluster headache away, and the same person would say he or she was in a paradise. This is why our ancestors told tales of paradise; it was a memory, passed down through the generational line; it was the memory of a perfect mental state that existed and was half remembered by the first generations of brain damaged people. These people grew old and passed the story down to their children and their childrens children.

This was before writing and before writing, ideas were passed on through talking or singing or, better still, singing songs that rhymed, because we remember rhymes (rhyming and repetition are memory techniques). Poetry was the medium of communication in those days and this ecstatic poetry communicated the long gone consciousness to a brain damaged species, by an individual who retained a faint trace of the old consciousness. Who knows, maybe genius' like William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope were born with a less damaged hemisphere? Maybe they were relics of these ancient bards. This is why we look up to orators, poets and gangster rappers with awe, because they are living fossils of a consciousness long evaperated.
These genius poets were like healthy legged idiots jumping up and down in front of a guy in a wheel chair! We are the wheel chair people and genius is the normal mind state.

These jumping poets must have been seen by their audience as a species of a hypnotic gnome of some sort, because of the brilliance of their orations and the eloquence of their rhyms; the brightest and the best poets would sing through the village; singing the Homeric songs and the Veda's. They sang their songs by the camp fire, ripping a slit in the veil of the continuum, while the diminished members of the tribe sat in the shadows, resentful at the loss of this power that their people once possessed; forced to listen to the creations soaring out of the bards' mouth. This is where the Iliad and the Vedas came from, from memory of the other consciousness; the state of paradise we can only now achieve via psychedelic chemicals.

So how did our ancestors try and stop the deterioration? If you read the scholarship, Hindu psychological techniques like Turiya, Samadhi, and many more, are described as techniques to reach higher states of consciousness. However, there is a big problem with suggesting that Yogis want to reach high states of consciousness. How did they know that these high states existed in the first place? It would make more sense to suppose that these techniques were strategies of returning to a normal level of consciousness; a consciousness that evaporated before the erection of the Great Pyramid.

On noticing the deterioration, Indian Yogis devised ingenious technologies to return to the higher mind; to halt the mental decline. Whereas today we have computers and silicon inplants; millennia ago they had consciousness technologies that are now lost to us. The art of yoga, for example, may well be a fossil of those ancient practices. The true origin of yoga is lost in the overgrowth of time and may never be ascertained, however, many believe that the original branches of meditation and yoga were techniques to capture the disintegrating consciousness, which, by the time of Christ, was a distant memory. Let us argue that various yoga, meditation and other shamanic techniques are psychological fossils that were developed as medicines to fix the damage, or, to put it differently, they acted as techniques to return to a long lost brain state. So getting high was really getting normal.

Many others have suggested this, including Terence McKenna, whose brother, Dennis, wrote the introduction for this book. Left in the Dark is an improvement on Terence McKenna's ideas and so should be applauded for keeping a razors edge between flakiness and seriousness. I say flakiness because the book shelves are crammed with mystical mumbo jumbo. There is nothing wrong with mystical mumbo jumbo, it's just that the truth is far more exciting, and mysterious, than all that Dan Brown and Oprah's udders rubbish that passes for the mystery

So according the hypothesis in Left in the Dark, the human species, say about 10000 years ago, lived in a natural environment that supplied a natural abundance of fruit; this was well before the damage kicked in, and so these remote ancestors of ours, inhabited a kind of mental paradise. Seeing that brain and world is the same thing, we can say that paradise really existed; it was just a state of mind. This explains the old stories of gardens and paradise's and the later fall from paradise. These paradise dwellers were in their normal state, but to us diminished moderns, they were high all of the time.

If we had a DeLorean, we could travel back in time and take a look at our ecstatic ancestors. We will take along our scientific equipment and, because we are testing whether these people are high, we will be carrying some mind expanding chemicals, like LSD. If our paradise dwelling ancestors really are permanently high, that is, if the above hypothesis is true, then our remote ancestors would not be affected by LSD, because their brains are not diminished and so their consciousness is always in the expanded state. If out ancestors had a dominant right hemisphere, then this may explain the power of the original languages, as this functioning right hemisphere hypothesis explains why the original languages like Sanskrit, Attic Greek and Irish, are described as 'poetic', because the right hemisphere was allowed to breath and the right hemisphere is the poetic side. The Rig Veda and the Homeric poems may be echoes of a long gone consciousness. I am arguing that various chemicals open a slit into this long ago gone consciousness.

So paradise is a memory of an ancient mental state. Paradise was the smooth tuning of the human central nervous system, operate in utopia mode, if you will, and The Fall represents neurological collapse and the subsequent splitting of the two hemispheres, and the loss of the paradisiacal hemispheric balance. This is the descent into history and so here we are today, with a rubbish hardware system.

The Italian stand-up, Vilfredo Federico Damaso Pareto, joked that history was the graveyard of aristocracies; this is the same as saying that history is the long march into idiotsville

The brain damaged hypothesis is an improvement on what went before and is the only theory that can hold the mantle of science in one hand and the seal of evidence in the other. Left in the Dark is full of evidence from the latest research of brain imagery. For example, the book mentions some new research on LSD that suggest a way of glimpsing into the right hemisphere mind. Scientists have discovered that LSD only affects the right hemisphere of the brain. It has been known for decades that the right hemisphere is the spiritual side (old news). So maybe the spiritual experiences brought on by LSD do not resonate from the drug, but rather, the drug merely switches the right hemisphere back on, if you will. This is a very interesting discovery and sheds light of a famous incident from the 1970's. An Indian holy man was once given a massive dose of LSD, but the drug had zero effect on the guru. The researcher, Richard Alpert, couldn't explain why. Dr Alpert gave the Indian holy man a second, more massive, dose, but still no affect. The second dose could drop an elephant, but couldn't touch the smiling old man. So it seems that some spiritual people are permanently in the LSD state! Now if rare people are born with their right hemisphere less diminished, then LSD cannot get them high, as they are always high. Until we invent a real DeLorean, this is the best evidence we can get our hands on. Alpert thought that the guru was always in the LSD state, and the guru agreed. I wish the authors of Left in the Dark used this example. It must have slipped past theory radar.

Drugs, be it the evil twins of Cocaine and Heroin, or the celebrity fetishised 'entheogens', add to the brain various subjectivities or awareness angles to the mind and so the brain damaged hypothesis explains the multi-layered and very wide states that certain drugs can give the user. What I am getting at is that similar chemicals give different subjectivities; like they are openning slits, here and there, to allow a peep in on the original mind state. Different drugs, different subjective states, its true, it is only that we dismiss the experience as a hallucination. This may not mean much to many, but if you have studied the philosophy of mind, then being high is bizarre. Philosophy professors won't go near this subject, they prefer the cold halls of the academy to the inner consuming fire of the plundge. Not even the heads of psychedelica, like the McKenna brothers, Stan Groff, or Timothy Leary, could get close to an explanation. It seems that our normal state of consciousness is diminished to a blip, and drugs open the doors, so to speak. The drugs are opening up the brain and making it work better, if not at full capacity, then at least at an improved capacity.
Now before we proceed, there is an elephant in the room at this point, drugs. Though Tony Wright does hint, here and there, about a pharmacological fix, his book is aimed at the establishment and so stays clear from talking too much notice of new (and old) drug research. Happily, I, on the other hand, find it pertinent to speculate and so I will like to suggest that certain chemicals snap to mind back into enhanced mode and if we entertain the idea of a damaged right hemisphere, then this indeed explains why, to put is rather crudely, drugs make the world, which is the mirror of the brain remember, better. I will argue that what we call `high' is really the natural state of our brains ability. The evidence points this way, that is, it seems that thousands of years ago, people lived in the high state, all of the time but it was normal to these lucky people. Now these days we have many chemicals that improve the brain, if only for a while. Orthodox evolution cannot explain higher states of consciousness. Why?

I've never come across an intelligent explanation as to why drugs fix the most wretched mans outlook on things. We may snigger at 'Teach and Chong' type clowns and the dancing hippies from the past, but after we have had a good little snigger at the hippies and Bob Marley; the truth remains that getting high is still a mystery. Orthodox evolutionists say, that is, when they can be bothered to look this way, that they have no explanation as to why consciousness is capable of expanding like a huge inflatable balloon. This is why orthodox psychology ignores drug states. According to orthodox evolutionary theory, there is no reason as to why a fully function brain should get high, so they have the `it is a hallucination' get-out-card or the `placebo' get out card. I am not proposing a new conspiracy theory; say that these things do not exist. Hallucinations and placebos are very real, I am only saying that people who describe expanded consciousness states, are not talking about the DSM manual definition of hallucination or placebo. Another get out card, not just when confronted with balloon consciousness, but with normal marble consciousness, is to say that consciousness doesn't even exist! Dan Dennet, for example, argues that consciousness doesn't really exist, and his colleges argue that mind is an epiphenomenon, or dead meat firing sparks, and so an epiphenomenon can't really increase in size. Now, if we entertain the epiphenomenon idea of consciousness, this is a scientifically sound theory by the way; then getting high does not exist and all those millions upon millions of clubbers, dancing to music, in four dimensional music-scapes, are merely experiencing a placebo or a hallucination, every weekend. And the cancer patients taking psilocybin and being at peace with death, they too are experiencing a placebo or hallucinated whatever they experienced, and the hippies were on placebos or hallucinating the Divine (actually, most hippies probably were hallucinations) and the shamanic people, up in the Amazon taking visionary potions, they too are on placebos, and Albert Hoffman's musings of these things are also hallucinations, the list is endless. I think you will realize the absurdity of using the placebo or hallucination explanation for higher states of consciousness. They could argue that 50 years ago, but this doesn't wash today. So the enigma of being high remains. If the brain is not functioning at full capacity, then that is a clue.

The damaged brain hypothesis clears up the enigma of getting high. The high state is really the natural state; it is just that we believe our everyday damaged state to be the norm. Why do drugs elevate consciousness, if, as the orthodoxy argues, our brain is running at full capacity? There is no evolutionary reason why this should be.
I mentioned MDMA above; well here is one chemical that seems to fix our all too human selfish, brutal side, a side that we all agree is the acceptable part of personality. Tony Wright uses an example from the First World War, where both sides were given MDMA, to suppress appetite. Both sides stopped slaughtering each other and had a game of football. The generals quickly withdraw the MDMA and the slaughtering started again. MDMA was re-discovered in the early 1960's and counsellors used the chemicals empathic educing qualities in marriage counselling and other, more serious, ailments. MDMA was known as `empathy' because it seemed to wash away selfishness and hold the mind in a state of empathy.
Selfishness then, may not be an immortal game, taking place in the gene pool, but may be a by-product of brain damage. Why not? Our natural state may well have resembled an empathic state of mind, generations ago, but this state was slowly overridden and washed away, over generations and generations, and selfishness became dominant. Today we do not think of selfishness as being the freak in the room, instead, we are convinced that selfishness is the natural state of human personality! But what if we have it the wrong way round and what if there was evidence that selfishness can be washed away? I propose that MDMA is the evidence. I don't mean metaphorically, but ontologically so.

So instead of looking out into the world of economics and institutions, we should look at the architectonics of the human brain. Arthur Koestler, way back in the 1960's, covered similar territory, in his book, The Ghost in the Machine. That was a book of its time and Left in the Dark is an improvement on that classic. Indeed, it was Koestler who said that "the inertia of the human mind and its resistance to innovation are most clearly demonstrated not, as one might expect, by the ignorant mass- which is easily swayed once its imagination is caught- but by professionals with a vested interest in tradition and in the monopoly of learning. Innovation is a twofold threat to academic mediocrities: it endangers their oracular authority, and it evokes the deeper fear that their whole, laboriously constructed intellectual edifice might collapse. The academic backwoodsmen have been the curse of genius from Aristarchus to Darwin and Freud; they stretch, a solid and hostile phalanx of pedantic medioctity.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book should taught in schools, 22 April 2014
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This review is from: Left in the Dark (Paperback)
Things like this should be taught in schools, you really are left in the dark about everything. You have to research things yourself otherwise you never know nothing. People love having power/intelligence/knowledge over one so that they can feel empowered and be domineering towards people. I love sharing what I find and people are generally interested to listen likewise they didn't/don't have a clue what is out there.
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Left in the Dark
Left in the Dark by Graham Gynn (Paperback - 20 Mar 2008)
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