Totem 121

Cosmological Psychism and the Totem: The Impetus of Organization in the Universe and Humanity.

In 1990 scientists from all over the world began work on the Human Genome Project. Its purpose was to create a blueprint of the human body to cure disease and understand the inheritance of faulty genes. Here are a few quotes from some key people involved in the project: 

1996, Walter Gilbert, Nobel laureate:

“The results of the Human Genome Project will produce a tremendous shift in the way we can do medicine and attack problems of human disease.” 

2000, Francis Collins, head of the HGP at the National Institutes of Health:

“Perhaps in another 15 or 20 years, you will see a complete transformation in therapeutic medicine.”

2000, President Bill Clinton: 

The Human Genome Project would “revolutionize the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of most, if not all, human diseases.”

It is 2023, and physicians do not examine your DNA to diagnose or treat you. The reason is that the causes of common debilitating diseases are complex and typically not cured by simple genetic treatments, despite the billions of dollars that had promised this.

Overall, we learned that the human body is not like a machine that can be reverse-engineered, which seems obvious. And much like the mind-body problem, where electrical signals aren’t the answer to consciousness, the genome isn’t the answer to understanding disease and the inheritance of characteristics.  

The core of the problem is that science believes that the world is mechanical and can be understood solely in a material sense. In fact it must believe this; otherwise, it would have to admit that scientific methods are inherently limited. 

And it is precisely here we see the more science understands, the more it is apparent that some fundamental ideas lay beyond science. 

The Big Picture of Forms

The universe’s entire history is about evolution, about becoming, centred around the organization of forms. 

Physicists are fond of telling us that our cosmos came into being 13.8 billion years ago, starting with a primordial singularity that expanded and created energy, space and time. We know this as the Big Bang. 

And since this beginning, matter has organized into—solids, liquids, gases, plasmas, molecules, atoms, and the particles of which atoms are made. 

Energy is also organized into—mechanical, electromagnetic, nuclear, thermal, and radiant energy. 

And from matter, life is organized.

Life takes in energy, grows and develops, and reproduces. Its organized forms are biological characteristics: metabolism, homeostasis, movement, responsiveness, growth, reproduction and adaptation. 

Living things are adapted to their environments and organize unique ways of life. In addition, living things organize habits, which follow along in the heredity.

All living organisms have a history. They are descendants of organisms that lived before them. They are members of an unbroken lineage stretching backward in time, billions of years, carrying forward an evolving self-organization of form.

Even Psychology has forms, organized mental processes and behaviour. 

Sociology has forms; the scientific study of human behaviour organized in groups.

Culture has forms; value systems are based on the complex organizations of social behaviours in groups.

So, much like how the universe organized itself into energy and matter, the impetus of organization continues to propagate in life, mind and culture.

This is the fundamental nature of the universe. Conscious forces imbued in the evolution of all forms: energy, matter, life, mind, culture.

What is a dream

When we dream, our unconscious mind is active with energy. These energies organize the images we see while dreaming. These forms are taken as real, so much so that we react to them out of habit. 

Our dreams are ours. We are still ourselves within a dream. In this way, unconscious forms are personal. Essentially, the dreamer and the dream are grounded in the personal but sometimes not informed by the personal.

This is because unconscious forms in dreams can propose things and ideas unknown to us. Unique places, people we haven’t met, and dialogue to which the content is new and unknown. How is it that dreams can propose unique information?

Is this evidence of a ‘spirit’ world? 

The psychology of Religion as it pertains to metaphysical entities.

Belief in certain monotheist gods and goddesses, angels and demons, and numerous mythical creatures may be considered silly as they do not objectively exist in the outer world. However, this is not grounds to dismiss the legitimacy of Religion. When examined from the perspective of the psyche, it is potentially significant as an occurring phenomenon within us. Especially considering these encounters with such entities exist in a psychic sense, as manifestations of the unconscious mind.

Carl Jung was a psychiatrist and writer who did much work understanding the unconscious mind. Below is a passage from his writings that is worth reading as it involves ideas of spirits and the unconscious: 

The psychological foundation of belief in spirits. 

Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vol. 8. 2nd ed., 

 Princeton University Press, 1972. 588 p. (p. 301-318).

“For the primitive, the phenomenon of spirits is direct evidence of a spiritual world, and for them, a belief in the human soul is a necessary premise for belief in spirits. The three main sources that put the belief in spirits on a solid foundation are: dreams, visions, and psychic disturbances. These three phenomena are analyzed and their common denominator is found to be the psychological fact that the psyche is a divisible entity. Among the separate parts of the psyche are certain fragments that never become associated with the ego. These are termed “autonomous complexes.” Spirits, viewed from a psychological angle, are unconscious autonomous complexes which appear as projections because they have no direct association with the ego. Parallels are drawn between the belief of primitive peoples in souls and spirits, and psychology’s formulation of the personal and collective unconscious: souls correspond to the autonomous complexes of the personal unconscious; spirits to those of the collective unconscious. The association experiment is discussed as a means for demonstrating the existence of these complexes. It is noted that, when excited by an external stimulus, these complexes can produce sudden confusion or violent effects, or they may express themselves as hallucinations. Spirits, then, are autonomous complexes of the collective unconscious that appear when the individual loses his adaptation to reality.”

Unconscious Autonomous Comlpexes, as Jung describes, do not have a direct association with our ego. In other words, they are autonomous or separate from the self, unrelated to our external reality processing. This brings up the unconscious images in dreams mentioned earlier as unique information not given from prior experience.

This unusual fact, a consistent psychic phenomenon in people throughout history, is the basis for proto-religious and spiritual belief.

This also reflects another key idea from Carl Jung: Religion was a significant force in our psychological health.

Religion is often presented as an alternaitve to science. It is not. They are not opposites but rather deal with different matters. Religion does not exist as a way of explaining the natural world. Religion developed in response to mankind’s growing self-awareness and the psychological problems accompanying this predicament. And so, most religious texts explain how one ought to live. What we should value and what is considered righteous behaviour. This stems from early humans, where explaining the world was not a significant priority, especially when faced with more critical problems such as morality, justice and values.

The Totem 

The Totem is a conceptual art series that involves all the factors mentioned here: The evolution of forms in cosmology, Conscious and unconscious factors of the psyche. Materialist and Spiritual views of reality. Cosmological consciousness and the derivative conscious forces that affect the evolution of forms. 

Just as our personal unconscious informs our ego in dreams, a collective unconscious informs our species throughout its evolution. This operates with memory and habits, something our species has carried throughout the history of its biology.  

What is the dream inside the collective of our species? 

The memory, habits, forms and well-being we discover for ourselves so that we may collectively prosper. 

This is the Totem.