From oceanic consciousness to cosmic consciousness

“We’ve followed the evolution of image language to its limits: the end of fiction, drama, and realism as they have been traditionally understood. Conventional cinema can be pushed no further. To explore new dimensions of awareness requires new technological extensions. Just as the term “man” is coming to mean man/plant/machine, so the definition of cinema must be expanded to include videotronics, computer science, atomic light. Before discussing those technologies, however, we must first ask ourselves what these new dimensions of awareness might be. In the language of synaesthetics we have our structural paradigm. What concepts are we to explore with it?

“We could say that art isn’t truly contemporary until it relates to the world of cybernetics, game theory, the DNA molecule, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, theories of antimatter, transistorization, the breeder reactor, genocidal weaponry, the laser, pre-experiencing alternative futures. But this purely scientific portrait of modern existence is only partially drawn. As Louis Pauwels has observed: “We are living at a time when science has entered the spiritual universe. It has transformed the mind of the observer himself, raising it to a plane which is no longer that of scientific intelligence, now proved to be inadequate.” Man no longer is earthbound. We move now in sidereal time. We must expand our horizons beyond the point of infinity. We must move from oceanic consciousness to cosmic consciousness.

“At their present limits astrophysics, biochemistry, and conceptual mathematics move into metaphysical territory. Mysticism is upon us: it arrives simultaneously from science and psilocybin. Pauwels: “Modern science, once freed from conformism, is seen to have ideas to exchange with the magicians, alchemists and wonder-workers of antiquity. A revolution is taking place before our eyes— the unexpected remarriage of reason and intuition.”

Gene Youngblood, “Toward Cosmic Consciousness”, Expanded Cinema. Available as a PDF.

Image: Andrei Tarkovski, Solyaris, 1972.

To be protected from ignorance

“If one were to propose a Bill of Rights for the year 2000 it would defend human liberty, not civil liberty. Guaranteed rights would include health, truth, reality, sexual fulfillment, study, travel, peace, intimacy, leisure, the right to be unique. Man is not “civilized” until he is whole. He is not whole until he’s assured these rights. But I would add another: the right of every man to be protected from the consequences of his own ignorance. The computer provides this protection.

“The computer does not make man obsolete. It makes him fail-safe. The computer does not replace man. It liberates him from specialization. The transition from a culture that considers leisure a “problem” to a culture that demands leisure as a prerequisite of civilized behavior is a metamorphosis of the first magnitude. And it
has begun. The computer is the arbiter of radical evolution: it changes the meaning of life. It makes us children. We must learn how to live all over again.

“‘Recently, as in his natural symbiotic relations with plants and animals, man’s relation to cybernetic systems has been subtly changing toward a more closely-woven interdependency resembling his other ecological ties. This trend often is depicted as ‘intelligent’ machines dominating man; but the possibility is more clearly that of organic partnership…'”

Gene Youngblood, “The Technosphere: Man/Machine Symbiosis”, Expanded Cinema, New York: P. Dutton & Co., Inc. 1970. p 180.

Footage: Jordan Benson, Allures, 1961.