An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of October 16, 2016
Issued from Rancho Regenesis near Ek Balam ruins 20kms north of Valladolid, Yucat√°n, Mexico

DISCONNECTING & THE BRAIN

At the rancho, with no electricity and no Internet, I've had to adjust to the fact that in my previous life, as I became more and more a citizen of cyberspace, increasingly I shifted part of my brain function into cyberspace. I'd grown accustomed to limiting my biological brain to remembering key words and concepts, but storing details associated with those words and concepts in cyberspace -- my BackyardNature.Net website.

For example, I'd learn about a plant or animals, write about it and upload a page about it to the website. As long as I remembered the organism's name -- its "access code" -- later if I'd forget, say, how a certain herb might be used medicinally, I could always look it up on my website. At the rancho I can't look things up. Therefore: By coming here have I've abandoned an important part of my brain, and in that way diminished myself?

The question makes sense to me because I believe that animal brains are no more than very sophisticated computers. It's just that our animal brains are organic, based on carbon atoms, while mechanical computers are inorganic, largely based on silicon, at least the computing parts.

Also, I believe that we "are" exactly what our brains tell us we are. If I get religion and start believing that I'm a special existence in a Universe that's just a stage in which I'm to be judged as to whether I handle things in a good or bad way, it's my brain telling me that this belief system has become part of what I am. And if I suffer brain damage that permanently wipes out all memory acquired before I got religion, I'll "be" what I was before my conversion, because my brain will be silent on the matter. Therefore, if I walk away from my silicon-based remote brain on the Internet, which if nothing else informs me that I am the author of all that information about plants and animals, aren't I losing something of myself?

As I've thought about this, I've surprised myself by deciding that the answer depends on how convinced I remain that cyberspace with its vast network of interconnecting nodes and multifarious information inputs is itself a kind of brain, and that in fact the Earth with all its evolving things (Gaia), and also the whole Universe with its majestically flowing currents of information and means of storing that information -- information stored in configurations of molecules, relationships between energy and matter, life forms remembering and passing on information, etc. -- also is a brain. If that's the case, the previous brains mentioned here are less brains themselves, than components similar to discreet sections of a human brain which join together magically to create awareness, insight, inspiration, etc. The higher level the organization, the more profound the mentality.

So, yes, by withdrawing from that part of my brain now suspended in cyberspace I am stepping back from part of myself.

Deciding that, now the matter becomes more nuanced. I'm still somewhat invested in cyberspace, as this Newsletter attests. Now the question becomes where the Middle Path is between no involvement with cyberspace, and too much.

One reason to suspect that the Middle Path may reside nearer to "no involvement" than "very much," is that Nature teaches that vulnerable environments periodically suffer catastrophic events. The human-made mass extinction of Earthly life forms occurring right now is at least the sixth major mass extinction in the history of Life on Earth. In this light, cyberspace, entirely dependent on today's ever-more-stressed and erratically evolving societies, seems like a dicey place for storing part of one's brain.

So, I'm not too worried about losing my silicon-based brain section, even as I don't feel too smug about having disconnected. As usual, after all that thinking, the only advice for living life I find I continue to have total confidence in is this:

That I should pay attention to what this very moment is all about, and live in this moment as vividly as possible.