of ego and body

The ego is ultimately derived from bodily sensations, chiefly those springing from the surface of the body. --Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, 1936.

People's bodies were my biggest technical problem from the start. --Allan Kaprow, A happening conversation with AK DATA 16/17, 1975.


Ancient Chinese Animal Taxonomy

Ancient Chinese science is abundant with five-point taxonomies, based upon an evaluation of and categorization based upon inherent essence, or Qi. In each case, disparate phenomenon are grouped together and considered interrelated because of their similar Qi-based traits, with certain qualities corresponding portably across systems. Zou Yan, a scholar from the 3rd Century BCE, is sometimes attributed with the first catalog of this kind.

Here is the classification of animals, with their correlations to the elements, seasons, compass directions, and colors.

SCALEY (fish and reptiles) • Wood • Spring • East • Green/Blue
FEATHERED (birds) • Fire • Summer • South • Red
NAKED (humans) • Earth • Late Summer • Center • Yellow
HAIRY (mammals) • Metal • Autumn • West • White
ARMORED (terrapin) • Water • Winter • North • Black


Eustatic Excursions and Hyposometric Illusion

Sea level in not a place; it is an ideal that assumes still seas, unmoved by tides, enwrapping a perfectly spherical planet, damping the shores of immobile continents. Neither are the seas' distribution uniform nor our globe near regular. The ocean, you'll see on certain days, makes no distinction between itself and the atmosphere; the horizon is a haze; there is no surface. Our scrutiny is foiled.

Eustasy is the mean average of ocean levels, abstracted from local conditions, and today is measured by satellite networks and figured out by computerized algorithm. It's constantly changing. Most obvious is the 24 hour 54 minute tidal cycle brought on by the ocean's relationship to the gravitational force of the moon, but also affected by the sun and other heavenly bodies nearby.

The freezing and thawing of water globally shrinks and swells the ocean by several hundred meters over the epochs. But long term eustasy becomes indiscernable when considering hard-to-trace variations caused by the epierogenic--or bobbing--motion of the continental plates. Likewise, the shoreline travels up and down as the lands move, grow, and collapse. The density, and thus surface, of the ocean changes with tidal influences as well as long term changes in oceanic temperature and large-scale atmospheric and seismic pressures enacted from above and below. The accumulation rate of sentiment at the bottom of the sea varies from minute to minute; the deep seaman's bob gets buried rather quickly.

Again, if we want to believe anything, we must have faith in an unchanging, singular center, in infinitesimal point, a true center of the Earth, from which to pull our virtual tape measures, and read the height of the seas. Is there a gravitational balancing point in the heart of this mass? If so, could this spot be anything if not miraculous?


Nine Taxonomical Universals

Each human culture develops its own set of categories and classifications for the natural world. Linnaeus classified the raccoon, for instance, as a bear, placing it in the genus Ursus. The raccoon was later moved to its own genus, Procyon, which means "dog-like" though many people think of them as rodents, more closely associated with a badger, opossom or weasel. Before European contact, some groups of Native Americans understood the raccoon to be a cousin of Man.

It is appropriate, here, to distinguish between folk taxonomies and scientific taxonomy inasmuch as our current scientific classifications are the result of broad consensus amongst current practitioners of the art of naming (not without controversy, of course). But what is interesting is that, independent of this formal body of knowledge, we automatically and naturally make associations and categorize things around us.

We all agree, scientist and non-scientist, that a raccoon is a mammal. Everyone on Earth, it turns out, makes the mammalian distinction, just as we all agree that if it has fins and swims in the sea, it's a fish (in most cases).

Cecil Brown, a linguistic anthropologist at Northern Illinois University, and expert in lexical acculturation, language universals, and the comparative study of Mayan languages, has researched folk taxonomies in 188 languages, and concluded that there are nine universal classifications for living things.

Wugs (aka worms and insects)

Carol Yoon recently published a fascinating account of the history of taxonomy titled, Naming Nature: The Clash Between Science and Instinct, (W.W. Norton & Co., 2009).


Leary's Eight Circuits of Consciousness

Timothy Leary theorized eight functionally distinct circuits in the nervous and neurological system. I interpret them through Robert Anton Wilson from a site sent by Magoo.

Not surprisingly, Leary was quite specific regarding which drugs (and, to be fair, other mind-altering activities) one can take to achieve consciousness of these separate "mind-circuits." Safe bet he was under the influence when he cooked up this taxonomy.

Compare this scheme with Howard Gardner's Theory of Eight Intelligences.

Basic Fear and Desire, as well as Object recognition.
Opiates give one a taste of this circuit.

Territorialism, Aggression, Submission, and Cooperation.
Alcohol stimulates brain #2.

Tool-making, Conceptual Thought, and Logic.
Caffeine, of course!

Cross-generational Transmission of Tribal and Cultural Norms.
Hormones, especially pubescent hormones, develop this brain.

All-encompassing Sensory Space, Mystical experience.
Cannabis is the gateway to this circuit, as well as yoga.

Meta-awareness, Trans-species Communication, preparation for meeting other Intelligent Lifeforms in the Cosmos.
Peyote, LSD, and Aleister Crowley (who is now aptly classified as a drug) will help the user communicate with aliens.

Collective Subconscious, preparation for Immortality.
LSD and magic mushrooms raise the neurogenetic consciousness.

Out-of-body Consciousness.
Ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic (--not Calamine!), lifts a user out of their body.

Leary also charted eight particular interpersonal behaviors and personalities, which might relate to the second circuit of the mind.


Thirteen Virtues of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin kept a notebook of charts throughout his life in which he recorded his daily transgressions of thirteen virtues. His discipline included the choice of one virtue each week, upon which to focus his energies during his daily business. The record shows that he had trouble when it came to Silence and Order. We know he failed Chastity later in life; and a reputation accompanied by gout would indicate he frequently backslid on Temperance. Of course, his Industry is legendary.

eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation

speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation

let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time

resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve

make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing

lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions

use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly

wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty

avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve

tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation

be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable

rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation

imitate Jesus and Socrates