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From: Michael Straight <straight@email.unc.edu>
Subject: Re: (urth) Julian Jaynes' Bicameral Brain
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 10:21:31 

On Thu, 29 Oct 1998, Alex David Groce wrote:
> Mothman said:
> > Has Julian Jaynes' theory expressed in "The Origin of Consciousness in the
> > Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" ever been discused in relation to Wolfe's
> > "Soldier of the Mist?"  If I read it right, Jaynes beleives that self
> > consciousness didn't develop until about 500 B.C. and that any internal
> > voices, motivations, or initiative, prior to this thinking shift, would have
> > been attributed to Gods -- that in the Iliad, when the gods speak they are
> > only heard by the heroes they are speaking too -- this is what makes humans
> > act.  Sounds like the situation the character in Wolfe's book finds
> > himself -- hallucinating gods, being at their mercy, no real concept of
> > having a say in what's going on around him. Maybe not...
> 	I don't think we've discussed this, but it sounds as if Wolfe might
> have had it in mind.  On the other hand, I think Latro actually has a fairly
> developed self-consciousness (at least of the same peculiar kind as Severian,
> his mnemonic opposite, has)--it seems that there IS a line between the gods and
> the self to be found.  For example, his desire to get home seems to be a tool
> the gods use to manipulate him--hardly possible if he had no self to dangel a
> carrot in front of.

Exactly.  Following Mothman's hypothesis, one would expect Latro's desire
to manifest as regular visits from Hestia urging him to search out his
kindred and get home.   Except that Wolfe would find three other more
obscure names for her and use them interchangably with one he made up.

I've heard of Jaynes' theory before and find it intriguing, but never
read the book to see how (she?/he?) defends it.  Thanks for reminding me
of the book, I'd like to check it out. 

It reminds me of C.S. Lewis's argument that ancient peoples did not make
the same distinctions we make between physical and spiritual; that there
didn't need to be different words for spirit and wind because they were
the same thing; that no one bothered to ask to what extent "seated at the
right hand of God" was literal or figurative; that no one would think to
ask, "Am I really participating in this liturgy, or am I just going
through the motions?  Am I really worshiping or just dancing?" 


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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