About ten years ago, as a graduate student at U.C. Berkeley in linguistics after spending four years with the Northern Cheyenne Indians of Montana, I wrote an article which began my career as a transpersonal/integral linguist - entitled "The Origin of Speech in a Deep Structure of Psi," published in Phoenix, the Journal of the Association of Transpersonal Anthropology. In that and a closely following article, "The Effects of Literacy on Cognition and Being in the World," I outlined a whole-brain model of language which recognizes evolutionarily different levels of brainwaves, brain structures, and ways of communicating.1
Since those first articles, I have published extensively on the language-and-cognition ideas of Benjamin Whorf, and together with Matthew Bronson, my co-teacher at California Institute of Integral Studies, have developed the notion of Clairparlance and most recently researched the modern phenomenon of channeling. Many people have joined the ranks of consciousness researchers in the past decade, however, and since my early articles are not the most easily accessible in their original form (and some would even say not the most easily readable!), I would like to go back to square one and acquaint a new batch of readers with the principles which guide my expanded view of language. Therefore this article is a restatement and reassessment of ideas occurring in many of my articles and speeches over the past decade.2
What intrigues me most about language is its potential for what I call the "mystereality effect"--transforming mystery into healing realities, empowering people just like you to feel a clearer relationship between what-you-say-&-how-you-say-it, and your creation of lived everyday realities. Since higher education professionals in linguistics seem as if forbidden by law to consider consciousness issues revolving around the power of language and going beyond its structural aspects, there is today almost nowhere you can go to get clearer about language and being - how language helps create and maintain daily reality.
Linguistics as a discipline was not always so limited and restricted as it is today. Its founder as a university discipline, Wilhelm von Humboldt, who was Minster of Worship and Public Education in 19th Century Prussia and brother of Alexander, the intrepid explorer who left his name on Humboldt County in Northern California, believed in a Sprachgeist, the spirit of a language, which infuses each of its speakers and is in return infused by them. We may talk of this today, following Rupert Sheldrake, as a morphogenetic field, or perhaps more accurately as the various levels of communicative morphogenetic fields, and we may still visualize as Humboldt did an invisible envelope surrounding each of us, all envelopes related as ever more encompassing wholes on deeper levels of consciousness and communication.
For this more complex way of looking at the world, I have to at least partially credit my father, a longshoreman in LA. One summer day when I was a young boy, I got to go to work with him and ride around on his jitney. At lunch, we went out to the end of a pier, sat and ate and gazed at the ocean. After a while, caught up in an emotion of awe at the vastness, I said (as only a child can express so well), "Gee, Dad, there's sure a lot of water out there!" To which he replied, "Yes, Son - and that's just the top of it!'
We swim daily in an ocean of words, never peeking below the surface to see the wonders underneath. Linguists do some organizing on the surface, but still never peek underneath - otherwise we would have gotten from them by now some sort of evolutionary theory of language which shows what communication characteristics humans have in common with the rest of Nature, rather than just focus and elaborations on the differences.
Wilhelm von Humboldt was last century reaching for just such an evolutionary perspective when he stated that "Man, regarded as an animal, belongs to one of the singing species: but his notes are always associated with ideas." Just how our communications relate to the communications of various "inanimate" and animate beings will be discussed after the explication of the model below.
Though seemingly passe in the late 1980s, the hologram provides a good analogy for understanding the co-occurring levels of this SOC Model of Language. About ten years ago in the hallowed halls of UC Berkeley, I heard the only linguistics professor who would even use the expression "consciousness" out loud expound on the spotlight theory of consciousness in which consciousness, his synonym for short-term memory, plays across the interior of the mind such that whatever is in the light is in the consciousness of the moment and the rest in dark is outside of consciousness.
The response which wrenched itself loose from my innermost being surprised me: "But wait! We know now of at least two kinds of light, the random light of light bulbs and spotlights, and the coherent light of laser beams--so when does the passive spotlight of consciousness turn into a laser beam which reaches out and transforms reality?' Indeed, how could any theory of language which ignores laser beams and evolution ever deal with even the most basic power of language issues such as hypnosis and telepathy, seen here as the very doing (all words hypnotize to some extent)3 and being (telepathy as a common field-effect) of language? Or, put in a more positive light, what would a theory of language look like which takes hypnosis and telepathy as starting points rather than as unaccounted for, esoteric blips? Such is the stuff of our present discussion--but I digress.
Laser beams occur in a variety of colors, much as our emotions do on some level, and a fascinating characteristic of holograms is that different images can co-occur within the same space if they are placed there by different laser colors. Then you see the red image when you shine the red laser back through it, a different yellow image with the yellow beam, etc. - which is how I would have you visualize the model given above. In one light we can see in this model the structure of brainwave levels; in another light we see the physical structures of the brain; in yet other lights are revealed current and evolutionary communicative structures. I will be dispensing with the simplistic (though accurate as far as it goes) metaphor of split left-right brains, and even the more complex triune brain model which includes the limbic system, to propose an even more complex four-brain model which includes some unexpected surprises from the reptilian brain.
1. Brainwave states
This model would predict, for instance, that since dramatic instances of telepathy in human beings are usually infused with great emotion as in injury or death, interspecies telepathy is also enhanced by emotional moods. We have seen evidence in the past few decades that plants have measurable emotions, especially surrounding violence done to other plants nearby. Some problems result, as you may well imagine, from addressing Nature in an impersonal (beta) way rather than from the deepest and slowest and most identificatory of levels, delta.
Now, get ready for this: prayer is probably, in its most efficient manifestation,
a process that reaches all the way to the deltawave level. In fact, according
to one way of looking at it, Jungian archetypes may emerge from the delta
level as well. So now, perhaps, we are ready to see our model in yet another
light, that of an American Indian Tower of Babel legend told to me by Youngblood
The objection can always be raised that the notion that the right hemisphere is the "home range" of alpha is too simplistic, that beta can occur there as well; and so on for the other brain structures and brainwave ranges. However, a discovery which led me to posit these sychronicities was reading Luria's research on a mnemonist who could do memory feats few of us can even dream of (reciting back the numbers off of 100 boxcars that just passed you), but who could not GET what even the rudiments of literacy were all about. In other words, he could do with incredible beta-speed ease the picture-taking right hemisphere tasks that we usually do at alpha-speed, but when it came to the unique left hemisphere task of literacy (or left-brain telepathy as my Cheyenne-Chickasaw friend Henderson termed it), where beta-speed is essential, all he had processing there was alpha at best--switched homes, as it were. At least, that's my standing interpretation of how Luria's mnemonist could be so highly efficient and inefficient at the same time, pointing to how the "home range" usually operates in the rest of us.
Let's look at some other processes that span the various levels we've described. If hypnosis is taken down from its stereotyped pedestal and seen to be what it nakedly is, the result of any successful communication where information is remembered, then we can see it to be a coherence of levels, an interhemispheric synchronization at the least. Clairparlance seems to be a special form of hypnotic exchange which enlarges from interhemispheric synchronization to include the limbic system and its emotional levels as well; it may well be described in its most powerful manifestation as a whole-brain synchronization.
Telepathy, of course, comes in two flavors--a dramatic happening that someone notices; and the common, garden-variety sort of field effect we don't notice but without which transfer of meaning cannot happen, which often goes under the name rapport. Rapport may be seen as an interpersonal synchronization, something like what happens when two tuned (= calibrated like each other) violins are in the same room--when a note is played on one, the other vibrates sympathetically at the same note. I have been told about Indian smoke signals, for instance, that what they were really doing was putting up a unique tribal smoke insignia which anyone within eye shot could see, recognize if it was theirs, and then tune their minds to the tribal member there who perhaps needed their help.
Before we end this discussion, I would like to introduce another German word, Zwischengeist, which we may translate as a "between-spirit," an intangible interface between two invisible and individualized envelopes of the Sprachgeist. The best everyday example of this is when you pick up the telephone and THINK you know who you're talking to for a while, but slowly it dawns that this is actually someone else: certain things you say don't resonate and elicit the responses you expect (taken on a beta rather than the shared- experience alpha level); finally, after you stop the conversation and find out who you're REALLY talking to, you kind of play back all of the responses you got that you didn't understand and now GET what they were about given who you are talking to, scan for anything you might have told this person that you shouldn't have, perhaps apologize, and then resume conversation with the correct "screen" in place for understanding information coming from this person or remembering what you want to tell this person. It's as if each person (animal, spirit, group, etc.) has its own Zwischengeist which must be "in mind" as we receive or transmit information together; otherwise, misunderstandings are sure to result. This reminds me of holograms again, with each between-screen a mix of unique emotional colors and images of shared incidents.
Let's look now at what all this means. All of the above is a way of edging toward talking about one of the most pernicious sociopathic diseases ever unleashed upon mankind, self-deception--enshrined forever in a Hollywood-Indian cliche: "Whiteman speak with forked tongue." Consider for a moment the significance of what Native Americans felt about these newcomers to the continent whose capacity for self-deception was so immense, whose tribes had never taught them the important link between Word and World, and who could tolerate a lack of integrity between what they said and what they did. Much to be pitied, and displaying an important ignorance! This practice of self- deception is so common in our culture that it is invisible, our being trained from birth in its wordworld webs.5
What are these wordworld webs? Nouns, labels, things. We are a thingifying culture, dissecting the flowing of nature into pictures, snapshots of motion, surrounding ourselves with these snapshots and then taking those snapshots for real and disregarding the flowing. What does "Whiteman speak with forked tongue' mean to you, both personally and professionally? This was meant as an enduring description of a whiteman habit which we all share--and indeed, by the sheer number of degrees around us, it is clear to see how well most of us have really excelled in this world of nouns, succeeded in the race for nouniness. But what does it mean in the flowing of nature, of time, of being?
Native Americans must have watched this self-deception and said to each other, "Don't worry--all this craziness will destroy itself without our having to do anything. It's self-destructive as well." They didn't expect us to bring in the freeways and MacDonalds. What does it mean to you that you are so good at manipulating nouns, and what must it mean to people who speak verb-oriented languages, whose, for instance, toughest cultural job ever was to try to explain to the whiteman who their noun-god was. Native American people always knew that speaking the plain, honest truth was the only way to live with each other and govern each other, and to create livable realities with other human beings.
I think one of the most important lessons I learned from living with American Indians for four years in the early '70s was, by their example, the richness of living that is possible when your words resonate coherently from outer to inner; when, in the words of a Sergio Mendez and Brazil '66 song, you walk the way you talk and talk the way you walk. This is the unspoken norm in traditional societies, where people still remember the power of the spoken word to bind intention to lived reality, as in the ancient Dogon basket-making ritual which depicts an anciently known truth: onto a 5-sided open-topped cube-shaped basket (representing Earth and materiality) they place a cone-shaped basket (representing Sky and ideas); they tie the baskets together with a palm frond, and in Dogon that tie is called "The Word."
In another part of the world, the ancient Chinese Eightfold Path recommends the habitual use of Right Speech, a coherent and truthful speaking, as necessary for proper reality creation. Taking this point of view regarding the power of language is essential to my model of language, and its therapeutic aspects have been demonstrated in various workshops and seminars on the topic of Verbal HygieneTM, using what we call Clairobics exercises as tools of investigation into alternative realms of consciousness and being. The binding of word to world, whether depicted as the Dogon palm frond or a simple declaration of "In the beginning was the Word," can be used like anything else to help us ("Every day in every way I'm getting better and better") or harm us ("This traffic is sure a pain in the neck!"), and education as to its power, which is so difficult to come by in our literate culture, can keep us from unintentionally harming ourselves and others with logosomatic effects.
The cycle of the noun-loving cultures comes full circle as the science of language comes to grip with the cultural assessment, "Whiteman speak with forked tongue" from those who view and live in the world from a verb perspective. It is time to take to heart the implications of this phrase, and look to those who made it for alternative ways of thinking and being and speaking which are less destructive and deceptive.
We can begin to think of language in a truly evolutionary perspective. Yes, humans have the most evolutionarily advanced communication system that we know of, but it does not hang over a vacuum; rather it rests on the deeper layers of communication which we share with other living beings on this planet. We cannot fully understand what is exclusively human about human nature until we have taken into consideration the actual facts and gifts of nature, those invisible communicative processes without which speech couldn't work.
At the very least, on a daily level, we can remember that our words--even those bad old dirty nouns! - can be used to heal, and it is our personal duty as speakers to daily keep upping the percentage of our healing words as we trade this wonderful chin music with each other.
1. In "The Demise of the Whorf Hypothesis," I attempted to remove, hopefully for all time, a major stumbling block to academics trying to understand Whorf, called the Whorf Hypothesis, by showing the Hypothesis to be a complete fabrication in the critical literature of linguistics, anthropology and psychology long after Whorf's death, having nothing to do with Whorf's Principle of Linguistic Relativity and in fact limiting discussion on this very important language/cognition question to trivial smokescreen topics. In my next article, "A Hidden Cycle in the History of Linguistics," I placed Whorf in a historical context, spanning Ancient India to the early part of our century, showing an underground linguistics which has always included the power aspects of language. And in "Is Whorf's Relativity Einstein's Relativity?" the answer reveals Whorf's embeddedness in the relativity and quantum theory discussions of a 1920s Yale University graduate student. Since most linguists, anthropologists and psychologists still do not understand the wider insights Einstein brought to intellectual thought, one immediate conclusion of these three and other articles is that Whorf was a good 60 years "ahead of his time," as we say, in writing about language and Being in the world, and it is no wonder that many academics substitute irrelevant questions for understanding. back
2. All articles mentioned in the footnote above and the article proper, including the "Clairparlance: The Transcendental Gift of Gab" recently published in Magical Blend magazine, are available in bound form, self-published and used as required reading at CIIS, for $20 from Dan Hawkmoon Alford, 31318 Carroll Ave, Hayward CA 94544. back
3. There are those who contend that hypnosis does not exist at all because there is no measurable "hypnotic state" with its own unique mix of brainwave levels, for instance. However, if the very essence and function of speech is to hypnotize, to get people to pay more attention to what is coming in through the ears than to internal dialog, then we should not expect to find any unique state which is different from listening. back
4. The Condon experiments in Philadelphia in the '70s showed interesting correlations between EEG readings during normal conversation and telepathy, pointing to the similarity of rapport in both activities. The present evolutionary model of language accepts those results as natural, following Oxford zoologist Alister Hardy, who suggested as far back as 1949 that telepathy may be the clue to a fundamental biological principle that has played a major part in evolution--the genetic basis of species-specific group communication. And the "carrier wave" for such communication? The most natural answer is the standing wave which circles the Earth at 6.8 Hz called the Schumann Resonance; in our model, 6.8 Hz is on the alpha-theta brainwave boundary. back
5. It is conceivable that, as some would suggest, the capacity for self-deception is really a survival skill which we need to some extent in order to make the world comprehensible. My own view would be that, in the larger cultural order, cultures fall on a continuum from less to more self-deceptive, and that it would be rare to find a verb-oriented language/culture in the more self-deceptive column; that it is exactly the noun-oriented passion for taking the "snapshots" of reality for real that encourages this self-deception. back