Reprogramming Reality With Robert Anton Wilson’s, “Prometheus Rising”- Part 2
Robert Anton Wilson takes the first half of “Prometheus Rising” to explore the first four circuits of consciousness that are programmed into every person. Each one of these circuits forms every human into the “I” that they identify with through the different stages of imprinting during development. Genetics, environment, family, and religion can all either hurt or help during times of imprint vulnerability when the four circuits are being established.
1.The Oral Bio-Survival Circuit
The very first imprint on any form of animal and human life is on the mother (or mothering object). The newborn has no choice but to fully trust their mother, without the nourishment from the breast the baby couldn’t survive. The mother’s connection with the child is even developing when the baby is still in the womb, most mothers know this. Bad imprinting is caused when the baby isn’t given the proper nourishment, cuddling, and body-security that they need. Freud, the father of psychology, recognized this idea as the oral stage of development. To give an example of the intense effects of bad first circuit imprinting, Wilson gave the example of two animals that had material items imprinted as their mothering objects. When a jeep was imprinted as a giraffe’s mothering object, he followed it around, attempted to suckle from it, and even attempted to mate with it as an adult; Wilson also noted a second incident where the same thing happened to a goose who had a ping-pong ball imprinted as his mothering object. Freud theorized that humans temporarily calm themselves with oral fixations (gum chewing, cigarettes, fingernail biting) to satisfy the negative feelings that arise from bad first-circuit imprinting. On a larger scale, the human attaches itself to the family and then the society in the same way it attached to the mother during the first circuit imprint. Attaching oneself to a collective offers the human the same sort of bio-survival satisfaction that attaching to a mother provides, this is why the worst punishment in civilization used to be exiled from the tribe which took away that sense of safety. In the modern day, Wilson says that the new form of exile is cutting off finances because money has become the new bio-survival satisfaction technique that replaced identifying with the tribe. When the first circuit is threatened, all other mental processes come to a halt until the problem is resolved. The tendency to be threatened by external stimuli is what encapsulates the first circuit, will the individual be more prone to retreat or advance?
- The Anal-emotional Territorial Circuit
When the baby reaches the stage of a toddler, they no longer become completely dependant on the parents to live. In this stage, the toddler learns to walk, starts to talk, and gets toilet trained. The individual also gets their first sense of status within the pack from their parents when rules and boundaries are first established. This time period is also subject to imprint vulnerability, where the person enters either a strong and dominant or weak and submissive role. Will the individual have strong self-confidence or not, will they be the one taking or giving orders, and will they develop a weak ego or a strong one? It all depends on how the second circuit was imprinted. Freud recognized this stage of development as the Anal stage and concentrated more on the toilet training aspect of development; Freud believed that there was ingrained anger for the same sex parent and an attraction for the opposite sex parent that develops during the sexual stage of development. It’s more reasonable to argue that the interest in the opposite sex parent stems from the first stage of development where that parent offers love and nourishment; the second imprint is mostly identified with the paternal figure who establishes a sense of pack status with him as the authority, undoubtedly causing resentment in the child.
- The Time-Binding Semantic Circuit
The third circuit marks the divide between the circuitry of humans and animals by modeling, labeling, classifying, and reclassifying reality constantly and passing those models from generation to generation. The third circuit is the circuit of reason and rationalization. The third circuit develops during early childhood when kids are first exposed to ideologies, better verbal and mathematical skills from school, interaction and exchange of ideas with those outside the family. The power of the first two circuits being so deeply ingrained are notorious for being able to override the third circuit. It’s almost a cliche to show someone acting irrationally out of pure emotion and always following it with something along the lines of, “I didn’t even know what I was thinking”. The semantic circuit can also be overrun if conditioned into a person, just look at the many extremely smart people that completely abandon rationality when it comes to political and religious belief systems. Challenging the collective that a person uses to satisfy their bio-survival circuits is an outwards threat, the person being threatened is going to respond in a hostile way. Wilson challenges those who believe that they’re not conditioned by society to consider the taboo of having no taboos. Though the third circuit has to operate within certain boundaries, it’s constantly striving for something better (a better rationalization, a better model for reality, etc.). Where the first two circuits always return to a fixed point that’s been imprinted (negative feedback), the third circuit always strives for a goal (positive feedback).
- The Moral Socio-Sexual Circuit
The last stage of imprint vulnerability is during the first stages of sexual development during adolescence. During this stage, an individual’s views of sexuality and morality are developed not only from the societal norms instilled in them but personal experience. The sexual development marks the start of the transition that the child makes to become an adult, and Wilson points out that many cultures recognize this and develop coming of age ceremonies (quinceanera, bar mitzvah) to positively impact the adolescent’s imprint. This stage also separates those with parental qualities who’re likely to have kids, from those who aren’t. The act of reproduction in animals is devoid from a sense of morality because humans carry the third circuit of rationalization and therefore carry consequences with their actions. The sexual norms are relative to every society and there has never been a universal understanding of what is sexually acceptable vs. sexually unacceptable. If a person is negatively imprinted in the fourth circuit and ends up developing sexual behaviors that are socially unacceptable, then they’ll face legal action from their society for acting on their illegal urges. On a smaller scale, some people develop fetishes that aren’t illegal, but not really socially acceptable, so they end up mimicking the sexual norm imposed on them by society. The fourth circuit is the most recent stage in human evolution and is the final circuit recognized by scientific fields. The last four circuits offer a structure for the future of human evolution, and Wilson argues that human potential is limitless.