Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Bicameral Mind

About fifteen years ago I was browsing through a used bookstore when I came across a weighty tome with an equally weighty title: “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”. This challenging and fascinating book by Julian Jaynes advances a theory which has continued to resonate for me: that our way of experiencing consciousness/self-awareness is a relatively recent development, perhaps from within the last few thousand years. Here’s what I say about his theory in my book:

Prior to that time, Mr. Jaynes contends, our conscious and subconscious minds were integrated, and we heard suggestions for future action from our subconscious mind as a voice or voices that we often interpreted as messages from the gods or departed loved ones.
We still often exist in that more integrated state of mind, where we live within the moment rather than create an inner monologue watching and describing to ourselves what it is we’re doing. Sometimes, interestingly enough, we must exist in that more integrated state of mind because otherwise there are tasks we would find ourselves incapable of doing. This is particularly true of any complicated physical action: if we are playing a musical instrument, or driving a car, or hitting a baseball, we do these things much better when repetition and the honing of our skills allow us to perform all the tiny actions that make up the activity without having to think about each of them. This has often been shown to be true of great mental achievements as well, where some of the finest minds of our time have reported that their important breakthroughs “just came to them”, or even just “appeared in a dream”. In other words, this theory suggests that splitting our mental processes into a conscious mind which is constantly viewing our actions as if from the outside is not always a useful way to exist, and is not the way that most living organisms exist.

Although Mr. Jaynes died in 1997, there is a Julian Jaynes Society which continues to discuss and promote his unique ideas. In my last blog I mentioned my belief that voices of conscience, intuition, memories of loved ones, storytelling from previous generations, and more metaphysical manifestations such as ghosts or angels could all be possible examples of how a system of beliefs and memes work “behind the scenes”, so to speak, to help define our consensual reality. The Bicameral Mind theory, I believe, can also be used to show us a way that our minds could be processing incoming data from the upcoming fifth dimensional paths that are soon to be available to us as we create our fourth dimensional line, and such manifestations as prescience, intuition, or deja vu could be part of the ways that our minds reveal that data to our conscious minds.

Modern society teaches us to be afraid or suspicious of those moments when we operate without apparent consciousness, even though there a great many things that we do better when we find a way to quiet our “narrator voice”, and exist in the more integrated mode that Julian Jaynes tells us was the way all humans lived in ancient times and back through our evolution from the primordial soup.

My song “Automatic” talks about all these ideas, I hope you enjoy it!

- words and music by Rob Bryanton (SOCAN)

Musta been runnin on automatic
I simply can’t recall
How did I get here, what was I doin?
No clue at all
Lost my place in the conversation
What were we talking about
Thought I was here, must have been dreamin
Without a doubt

Musta been runnin on automatic

What was for breakfast, just this mornin
I really couldn’t say
Out there circlin another planet
So far away
Where was my head at, was I drivin
Not even seein the road
Was I only goin through the motions
Don’t even know


Julian Jaynes showed me he had the answer
In the bicameral mind
Conciousness broken down into pieces
Oh what a find
We’ve all been runnin on automatic
Since we were back in the trees
But still we made it here on automatic
How can it be


Something beautiful and complicated
Does it ever seem strange
How we could do that on automatic
Hard to explain

Musta been runnin on automatic

Click here to hear the song on Amie Street.

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Spirituality, Connections, and the Tenth Dimension

This week an excerpt from chapter three of my book was released in the online magazine CRAM, check it out.

The very first issue of this magazine caught my eye when I saw the following three tidbits at the top of the very first page:
“+ About 2500 people in the United States have the last name Cram, accounting for .001% of last names. + Card Random Access Memory (C.R.A.M.) was a type of magnetic storage device used in the early 1960’s. + The 1940 twelve-inch Cram’s Terrestrial Illuminated Glass Globe is notable for a few reasons…”

Aha!, I said to myself. It’s clear to me that this magazine understands the points I have been making with the tenth dimension project: that there are systems of belief, collections of memes, and shared consensual reality that connect us all across time and space. Those 2500 people with the last name CRAM, even though they represent only .001% of the last names in the US, would represent a random access database that would be surprisingly representative of the many ways of looking at the world that all of us share, and would also allow us to quickly find some of those in the world who have unique points of view.

I’ll be the first to admit that I may have been reading more into the connections between those three tidbits than was intended by the editors of Cram. But I stand by the interpretation: as this project (the 11-minute animation, the website, the book, the songs, the videos, and this blog) have found their way into the world, I am continually surprised at the new connections people find to my way of imagining the ten dimensions and their own systems of belief.

In the past week I have been contacted by a number of people with strong Christian beliefs, thanking me for giving them a way to describe a reality which seems connected to science and cosmology but leaves room for there to be creator, or a force in the world that is working towards an ultimately positive outcome. In the book I approach this idea several different ways – from the anthropic viewpoint, our universe seems to have already been selected from a multiverse of universes, the vast majority of which would have been inhospitable to life as we know it. From the role of the quantum observer collapsing/observing reality from an indeterminate wave of possibilities, we already seem to be on a trajectory established at the big bang which is moving us along on a timeline towards a version of our universe which will last much longer than the many less stable configurations which could have been selected. I also touch on ideas of how the voices of conscience, intuition, memories of loved ones, storytelling from previous generations, and more metaphysical manifestations such as ghosts or angels, spirit guides and even alien presences could all be possible examples of how a system of beliefs and memes work “behind the scenes”, so to speak, to help define our consensual reality.

What I try to be very careful to do in the book is not force one way of interpreting all this upon the reader: whether one chooses to believe in a Creator who drives this whole impossibly complex mechanism forward, or if one believes in a Blind Watchmaker of chance and natural selection, what we our now experiencing as our reality is the same. As I say in Chapter Two:

The reader may notice here that it would be very easy to substitute “God” or “The Creator” in place of “the observer” in the above paragraphs. In fact, if the reader is comfortable with the concept of each of us being an expression of God, “created in His/Her image”, each with a holy spark within, then the two viewpoints are quite compatible. On the other hand though, the image of a God who is separate from, standing in judgement of, and meting out punishment to us all is much less compatible. What we are describing here is a reality where each of us is creating an expression of a specific aspect inferred within the “white noise” of the tenth dimension through our individual roles as quantum observers. If the reader finds it easier to accept the phrase “I am an aspect of God” than they do the previous sentence, then they should feel free to use that as their jumping off point instead. As we discussed before, the tenth dimension as we are conceptualizing it here is really the boring part of our discussion, because it simultaneously contains all possibilities. If we choose to imagine a Creator-God who is manifesting Himself/Herself through each one of us, we are imagining an observer who is cutting cross-sections out of the tenth dimension to examine the much more interesting and highly detailed subsets of reality which are contained within the dimensions below.

There are many more interpretations of my way of imagining the dimensions which people have brought to me – I was immediately surprised, for instance, at the number of people who had taken various hallucinogens and felt that what they had seen and experienced could be interpreted through the filter of what I’m presenting. As I’ve said a number of times in the tenth dimension forum, I don’t have any experience with hallucinogens myself, but I find such suggestions fascinating.

In the past week I’ve also received several emails from people convinced that the end of the world is coming in 2012, another topic I explore in the book. In the book I said that I expect that this is a rising tide of belief that will become increasingly popular over the next few years. The End of the World is also one of the 26 songs I have written for this project, and this idea will no doubt be a recurring theme in future blogs.

I should also point out that the Amazon “Search Inside this Book” function is now activated for my book, so that any ideas explored in the blog can also now be typed into Amazon’s search function to read excerpts from the book. Referencing the Index for the book will also provide you with search terms for further exploration.

Enjoy the journey!


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Anthropic Viewpoint

Poor Ol' Anthropic Principle - it sure gets kicked around a lot. The first time I read about it in Stephen Hawking's writing it immediately clicked for me: for most of my life I had held the intuition that there are a multitude of other universes out there with different basic physical laws and different timelines than our own. Now that intuition had a name.

If you're not familiar with the term, you can read about the different variations of the Anthropic Principle at wikipedia. There are some variants listed in the article which I had not heard of before - I was familiar with the Weak Anthropic Principle ("WAP"), and the Strong Anthropic Principle ("SAP"), but I was amused to learn that there is also the "FAP" (Final) and the "CRAP" (Completely Ridiculous) versions of this concept as well.

If our universe really is only one of many in a multiverse of universes, then the anthropic principle is a no-brainer: it would be like asking how humans came to be so lucky as to live on land, because if we lived on the bottom of the ocean we would all have drowned. But the anthropic principle certainly has some passionate opposition - some people believe it is an argument in support of Intelligent Design, some dismiss it as unsupportable conjecture (and therefore not a scientific viewpoint), some people believe it proves there is no need for a Creator because every possible arrangement of matter and energy exists out there in the multiverse.

In my song "The Anthropic Viewpoint" I examine the ideas behind the anthropic principle - how did we end up in a universe whose basic laws have been uniquely tuned to support life as we know it? This song blends a number of ideas: determinism, free will, the voices of intuition, the multiverse as it relates to the Anthropic Principle, and Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems (which I also sometimes use to describe how my version of "dimension ten" is different from the other nine in my model). And it's got a good beat and you can dance to it.

Music and lyrics by Rob Bryanton (SOCAN)

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain
The only thing that I know for certain
In everything that you say and do
The only thing you know for sure is you
Believe in that and you will be okay
You could live to fight another day, some day

Pay no mind to those tiny little voices
Every day you gotta make some choices
Make ‘em right and you can carry on
Make ‘em wrong and you will soon be gone
And if it seems just a little unfair
Get used to it, cause the stars don’t care, don’t care

In the anthropic viewpoint
The reason we’re here is because we’re here
And if it were impossible
Then we wouldn’t be

If there’s other worlds then we’ve just missed ‘em
No way to know what’s outside our system
We’re like goldfish livin in a bowl
What’s beyond it we can never know
All we can do is theorize
Cause we can never… get outside, outside

In the anthropic viewpoint…

So here we are in the Hydrogen Conspiracy
That’s the way that it certainly appears to be
What’s the reason, where’s the rhyme
How’d we end up on this line
All those other possibilities
They’re just as real, but they don’t have me
It’s no big deal, not worth a fuss
They’re just as real, but they don’t have us, have us

In the anthropic viewpoint
The reason we’re here is because we’re here
And if it were impossible
Then we wouldn’t be

And here is a cool video created by Ryan Hill, using as its starting point an extreme closeup of my ugly mug singing the song. Crank it up!

A link to this video can be found at

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

Monday, February 5, 2007

Hard Determinism

There are a lot of philosophical discussions that arise from this way of imagining the ten dimensions. One thing that has surprised me about the tenth dimension forum is that there are more people out there than I realized who support the idea that our free will is an illusion, and that every action each of us is carrying out is part of an inevitable, inexorable march from the big bang to entropy: this position is called Hard Determinism.

Some have even suggested I should be completely comfortable with this fatalistic view of life: since I am insisting that time is an illusion, and that the events which are about to occur for each of us already exist in the higher dimensions, then aren’t I really arguing the same viewpoint?

This, I believe, is another one of those conceptual framing questions: there are levels at which each viewpoint is correct. Chapter seven of my book is called “The Paradoxes of Time Travel”: here are a couple of paragraphs:

“Discussions of free will crop up again and again as we imagine travelling in time. One theory that attempts to deal with this issue is known as the Novikov Self-Consistency Principle, which was developed by Igor Novikov of the University of Copenhagen. This theory starts with the commonly held assumption that there is only one reality, and only one real time-line for the universe. Assuming that time travel becomes a possibility for us at some point, persons travelling in time to their own past would find it impossible to do anything that would create a paradox: in other words, even if they were to point a gun at their own grandfather, something would always happen to prevent the gun from firing, or the bullet would always miss. The most one could do would be to wound their own grandfather, so long as the wound did not prevent good ol’ grampa from then having the child that becomes the time traveler’s mother or father.

“The mysterious force that would prevent the paradox of killing your grandfather from occurring would appear to be removing free will from the equation. Proponents of this theory point out that this is not that unusual: for instance, no matter how much we attempt to exercise our free will there are certain natural forces in our world, like gravity or the apparent solidity of a wall, that we are simply not able to overcome. In the scenario we’re examining then, attempting to kill your grandfather would be like attempting to levitate or to walk through a wall: no matter how much you try, you are simply unable to do so.”

Likewise, if we are imagining a set of time lines that were selected at the initial conditions of our big bang, then there are basic laws and forces that were chosen at that time which will remain consistent from the beginning to the end of our universe, and no amount of free will be able to change them. If you are thinking of this beginning-to-the-end as a fourth dimensional joining of two points (analogous to a one dimensional line), then, you should also be able to imagine that line as having a “thickness” in the sixth dimension, and that thickness would encompass every possible timeline from the defined beginning and targeted ending of our universe. Fifth-dimensional cross sections of that rope would represent the different “planes” that make up the sixth dimension, just as we can imagine different two-dimensional planes that could occupy parts of third-dimensional space. Ultimately, that sixth-dimensional “rope” that we have imagined would be thinnest at either end, and thickest at the points where the most possible diversity of possible timelines could occur.

Suppose I do figure out a way to go back in time and kill good ol’ grampa. Is that going to change the end of the universe? Suppose I do something that causes planet Earth to disintegrate into atoms. Is that going to change the end of the universe? While it's possible to imagine some chain reaction science fiction experiment gone awry that destroys the entire universe one minute from now, that would only be one thread out of the rope we have just imagined – the other threads where that event didn’t occur would still continue to weave together on their path to one of the possible ends for our universe.

Like the conceptual framing that allows us to imagine ten dimensions by taking it one layer at a time, this is another frame – there are the possibilities and potentials for future timelines that free will, chance, and the actions of others are moving us through from instant to instant. On some of those threads Elvis is still alive (and this would be part of a fifth-dimensional plane defined by all the possible “Elvis is still alive” spacetimes): but on the threads we happen to be on he didn’t make it.

To the extent that any of us can change our position in that rope of consensual reality, created from the threads that exist from the past to the future, I would say that our free will is absolutely part of that equation. My free will can’t allow me to walk through a wall, but there are still a great many things that I do have control over. Still, in the biggest picture of all the hard determinists may also have it right: and that is because all of those possible timelines my free will is allowed to select from are already defined by the point in the seventh dimension that our particular universe is confined within.

Now, what if our universe were to move slightly in the seventh dimension? That may have already happened, but that is a discussion for a future blog entry.

Enjoy the journey,


Friday, February 2, 2007

Everything Fits Together 1,2,3

Today we have posted three new videos for one of the songs from my book. All three are for the same song, but each is a very different visual take. You can find them at The videos are titled "Everthing Fits Together 1", Everything Fits Together 2", and Everything Fits Together 3". Individual links for these videos can also be found in the "Tenth Dimension Links" box over to the right.

In a previous blog entry titled "Everything Fits Together", I discussed some of the thoughts that went into the creation of this song. Here now are the lyrics:

music and lyrics (c) 2006 by Rob Bryanton (SOCAN)

It’s the age old question, it always stays the same
People turnin their eyes up to heaven and callin out names
Some may get an answer, some may turn away
When they don’t want to know too much, cause it’s easier that way
Hidden back between the pages, written in between the lines
There’s a spider’s web of connections there for you to find

Cause everything fits together, you may not see that now
But there’ll come a day, when you’ll see the way
There’s always a why and a how
Everything fits together, it’s all part of the show
Soon there’ll come a day when you’ll see the way
And you’ll know (there’s a reason why, there’s a reason why)
And you’ll know (there’s a reason why, there’s a reason why)
There’s a reason why, there’s a reason why
There’s a reason why you feel the way you do
There’s a reason why you do the deeds you do
There’s a reason why you feel the needs you do
There’s a reason why, there’s a reason why
(There’s a reason why, there’s a reason why)

In this world of wonder, in this world of pain
In this world of mysteries that still remain
There’s a hunger growing, we all would love the chance
To see the hidden strings that sing to make it all dance
Just when you thought the universe couldn’t be any more complex
You started climbing up through the levels, one to the next

Where everything fits together, you may not see that now
But there’ll come a day, when you’ll see the way
There’s always a why and a how
Everything fits together, it’s all part of the show
Soon there’ll come a day when you’ll see the way
And you’ll know
Everything fits together (everything fits together)
Everything fits together
Everything fits together (everything fits together)
Everything fits together

A link to this video can be found at

A link to this video can be found at

Enjoy the Journey,

Rob Bryanton

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Memes / Tag Clouds / Spimes

Yesterday, John Brownlee, in his blog “Table of Malcontents” posted a lovely recommendation for the tenth dimension website:

John's blog entry

As I said to John in the comments to his blog entry, Imagining the Tenth Dimension is a hobby project for me, but it has been an awe-inspiring experience to see the worldwide audience that has sprung up for the book and the website purely from word of mouth, and transmission of ideas through the web.

As I am always quick to point out, my "way of imagining" is not the accepted explanation for string theory, but it has gotten a lot of positive responses from people who like it as a new framework for discussion. In a previous post, "Time as a Spatial Dimension", I discuss some of my reasoning behind this new way of thinking about time and space.

This project is a creative exploration. It includes 26 songs about the nature of reality which I am now in the process of recording, the first six of which can be heard from the tenthdimension website at this time. I am interested in the links between this way of thinking about time and space, and how it gives us a tangible way to imagine the multiverse. It also ties in with spimes/tag clouds/memes, the granularity of time as predicted by loop quantum gravity, Minsky's Society of Mind, and many other topics from science/metaphysics/philosophy which are being discussed at the tenthdimension forum.

Our reality, I believe, has always been what the new tools we have before us are finally allowing us to see so clearly - that clouds of ideas/memes are navigating through space and time, rising, competing, and falling, and contributing to the consensual reality that we all share. The "long undulating snake" from the animation, then, would be a "spime": an object which can be mapped and tracked over space and time. Bruce Sterling's fascinating speech from the 2006 O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference (which can be heard here is a very useful touchstone for introducing us to the ramifications of this way of thinking.

Enjoy the journey,

Rob Bryanton

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