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"To Gary Granger, head of the Skylark Hills Condominium Association, here are the words spoken by Michael Prescott, resident of Skylark Hills: I am well. I hope you also are well ..."

I dunno, I kinda like the style. I might start using them myself; "To Jim Smith, Head of the Actuarial Department, here are the numbers calculated by E.A, Senior Financial Analyst of the Realm I am well.....Thus says the Annual Cost and Use Report, "I wish to be disseminated throughout the department. I will wander and I will reveal truths concerning the medical services source of premium increases. Woe unto thee who fail to abide by my wisdom for thou shalt fail to achieve planned ROI and there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the day of judgment (AKA Senior Management Annual Performance Review)......."

But seriously, At the same time as the quoted cuneiform we have the Upanishads and Vedas and these seem to have a highly developed sense of human consciousness from ego all the way up to cosmic awareness.

Or maybe it was regional; i.e. it was only the middle east that was experiencing retarded development in this area.

Very interesting. And good point about the Upanishads.

I wonder if there could have been two types of difference: place on the evolutionary scale of consciousness and just plain sophistication. Even now, it is not hard to meet people who seem to have zero in the introspection department.

Hi Matt, that's possible, but be that as it may, there is simply no trace of 'bicameral mind' in any existing ethnography of recorded hunter-gatherer societies. For Jaynes' theory to hold up, we should find some evidence of this mind-set in hunter-gatherer societies who's background is completely absent from the kind of traumas and complex societal changes that Jaynes says was responsible for the breakdown of bicameral mind.

Remember, Jaynes cites specific reasons for this breakdown, and prior to these changes, bicameral mind was the natural state of humanity.

For this reason, it is actually a requirement of Jaynes's theory, to hold any validity, that we see evidence of bimacerality in recorded hunter-gatherer societies who are precisely free of those same societal changes that Jaynes feels were critical to the breakdown of bicameral mind.

However, when we look at these socities, we see no evidence of this bicameral mindset in the population, not a trace.

Bear in mind, that we need to see evidence of normal everyday members of the society actively hallucanating voices and commands from gods and obeying them, and acting in accordance with disembodied voices, actively commanding them to take specific decisions. According to Jaynes, this should be happening on a wide scale in the affected society.

You won't find a single existing ethnograpghy which details this, not one.

This is why no working anthropologist today takes Jaynes's theories seriously.

Actually, now that I have double checked myself, the Upanishads came a wee bit later than Jaynes' examples. So it seems that he could say that the Upanishads are examples of the early blossoming of fully developed self awareness. I don't buy it, but it could be said.

"we need to see evidence of normal everyday members of the society actively hallucanating voices and commands from gods and obeying them"

There's some support for this in the Aztec and Inca societies. Jaynes:

'The conquered Aztecs told the Spanish invaders how their history began when a statue from a ruined temple belonging to a previous culture spoke to their leaders. It commanded them to cross the lake from where they were, and to carry its statue with them wherever they went, directing them hither and thither, even as the unembodied bicameral voices led Moses zigzagging across the Sinai desert.

'And finally the remarkable evidence from Peru. All the first reports of the conquest of Peru by the Inquisition-taught Spaniards are consistent in regarding the Inca kingdom as one commanded by the Devil. Their evidence was that the Devil himself actually spoke to the Incas out of the mouths of their statues. To these coarse dogmatized Christians, coming from one of the most ignorant counties of Spain, this caused little astonishment. The very first report back to Europe said, "in the temple [of Pachacamac] was a Devil who used to speak to the Indians in a very dark room which was as dirty as he himself." And a later account reported that

' "... it was a thing very common and approved at the Indies, that the Devill spake and answered in these false sanctuaries ... It was commonly in the night they entered backward to their idoll and so went bending their bodies and head, after an uglie manner, and so they consulted with him. The answer he made, was commonly like unto a fearefull hissing, or to a gnashing which did terrifie them; and all that he did advertise or command them, was but the way to their perdition and ruine." '

Of course this is not quite the same thing as hearing voices all the time. Still, it's consistent with the idea that people used their idols as cues to initiate contact with their gods (or as we might say, with spirits). I see no reason to doubt that the idols set up in people's homes in ancient Sumer and Babylon served the same purpose as the Aztec and Inca idols.

"So it seems that he could say that the Upanishads are examples of the early blossoming of fully developed self awareness."

As indeed he does:

"Indian [literature] hurtles from the bicameral Veda into the ultra subjective Upanishads."

Though I don't usually link to pirated editions of copyrighted works, I did happen to discover that the complete text of Jaynes's book in PDF form is online here:

I don't doubt that people used statues to commune with their gods, in the same way that many modern christian denominations use icons and statues, many of which provide a direct link between the devotee and the angel/saint in question. Modern Hindu god statues provide the same link. However, I don't see this as strong evidence of bicameral mind.

It's also interesting that in the Spanish conquistador example, it seems to me at least to imply that the Spaniard heard the voice as well! Otherwise, how is he so convinced that the sound was 'like unto a fearefull hissing, or to a gnashing which did terrifie them'?

This sounds to me far more like the situation in Classical Greece and Rome, where we have written accounts of rigged altars and statues that via some hidden mechanism would be made to move or make some noise to awe the worshippers.

I know the Graeco-Roman classical period is well past the so-called bicameral period, but I think that something like this is a far more likely scenario and explanation for the Aztec/Inca examples, particularly as these civilisations were, technically, very advanced, and quite capable of similar mechanical slights-of-hand.

There's also another issue with the inca/aztec accounts above. Have you noticed that it is a prequisite that the worshippers must approach the statues of the gods in the dark?

er, am I the only one here who sees this as slightly suspicious? Just dark enough in fact to have somene hidden in an alcove and ready to unleash 'like unto a fearefull hissing, or to a gnashing which did terrifie them'!

"As indeed he does:"


"Still, it's consistent with the idea that people used their idols as cues to initiate contact with their gods (or as we might say, with spirits)."

OK. But what if the idols served the same purpose as cabinets, trumpets and other props used by mediums and communication from the idols was similar to - or even identical to - the mediumistic communications with which we are familiar? Would that really prove that ancients went about in a bicameral state all of the time or would it demonstrate that they were more - more meaning a greater % of the population - facile at shifting into a bicameral state when desired than we are today?

Some modern mediums with whom I'm familiar state that they hear and/or see "spirits" all the time. Yet they also seem capable of personal self reflection in the sense that we non-mediums think of it. I guess that is a point of evidence that they are truly mediums. They think normally AND hear spirits. If they went around like Jaynes thinks ancient people did, we might think the mediums were just crazy or confused.

"Some might object that Ishtar's trip is really no different from the French goverment's gift of the Statue of Liberty to the United States."

I agree with you Michael in some sense the statue IS Ishtar but they're developmental practises corresponding to this same idea's still very explicit in modern Tibetan Buddhism less explicitly in other systems like Sufism where the idea's somewhat akin to the statue being a kind of full spectrum 22nd Century mobile phone like technology giving the goddess a kind of virtual reality presence facilitating reciprocal communication between Her and those she's a guest amongst.

The nearest modern equivalent to this sort of mentality's say an Elvis fan cherishing a disposable plastic coffee because the King once took a sip from it or my daughter venerating a designer bag because it was made by the same hands which designed stuff for Lady Gaga [I was the same with my David Bowie albums which to me we're literally alive with him].

The thing's in the modern era we tend to view this as childish but according to mystic types it's precisely this deep affection honed if not amplified by devotion which forms and maintains the invisible bonds or links which enable supposedly more highly evolved souls to keep finding and reconnecting with each other throughout different lifetimes.

I'd also like to suggest here this form of religious exchange or spiritual energy transmission was much more prevalent if not downright common than contemporary history'd like to suspect.

For instance the Scandinavian Aesir were descended from Asar which was actually the real name of Osiris and we have the Egyptian princess Scotia who supposedly wandered across to and gave her name to Scotland then we have the Chaldees/Chaldeans wandering round ancient Britain/Ireland supposedly having wandered here from the same part of the world as the wand'ring founder of the world's major religions Abraham and Moses too was just such a wanderer and then we have the mysterious Angles who gave their name to England but was Gregory really only punning when he called them angels or was he alluding to the possibility they were descended from the even more mysterious Scandinavian deity Ing who in turn might've been a form of Agni the idea of all this wand'ring I suggest being somewhat akin to when supposedly more technologically advanced countries send experts to teach slower countries how to come up to speed for the mutual benefit of all.

"Just dark enough in fact to have somene hidden in an alcove ..."

Perhaps. Or perhaps dark like a seance room used by a physical/materialization/direct-voice medium. Who knows?

The tabernacle of Moses conceivably served a similar function (to facilitate physical phenomena, direct voice communications, even materializations). Maybe this is what is meant when the Bible tells us that Moses spoke to God as a friend, face to face.

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