This is why men need women and every woman wants a man.
On one Wednesday afternoon, Sean was hanging out in the school library when he saw Saluna walking in through the front door, carrying her “I Am A Student” account pressed tightly in her hand. He shoveled his English books aside, clenching his fists on the table, utterly disgusted by her struts; and those sunglasses she always have on her face!
“You, again.” He muttered under his breath. Her turned her head towards him. Taking off her glasses slowly, she kept her eyes away from his and said, “Whatever you think, boy, I don’t care.”
FROM SPRING 2011 ISSUE OF DISCOVER MAGAZINE: THE BRAIN (PRINT)
According to psychologist and philosopher William James, consciousness has the following properties:
1. It is a process, and it involves awareness.
2. It’s what you lose when you fall into a deep, dreamless slumber and what you regain when you wake up.
3. It is continuous and changing.
Neuroscientist Gerald Edelman proposed that there are two different states of consciousness.
- Primary consciousness is what animals have. It’s the experience of a unitary scene in a period of seconds, at most. Yet there’s no consciousness of consciousness, nor any narrative history of the past or projected future plans.
- The second state is what human shave. Our memories, our consciousness of being conscious, strung together into past and future narratives. By using semantics and syntax, a true language, we have this higher-order consciousness in its greatest form.
“The brain is a vastly parallel distributed system. The consciousness trick is that any particular mental state you might be in is enabled by neural circuits specific to that state. All of these circuits that are distributed throughout the brain allow for what we call conscious experience.
I like to think of it as being like a pipe organ. When one note is playing, that’s what you’re conscious about. Then the next note starts playing, and that’s what you’re conscious about. These things come on and off constantly, and there’s this appearance of unity to it all, but in fact it’s each of these separate circuit systems being enabled and being expressed in a particular moment in time.
Consciousness is not a thing in the brain that information gets poured into and you’re aware of it. It’s the constant struggle of all these circuits to come up to the top and hold the stage for that second.”
- Michael S. Gazzaniga, cognitive neuroscientist
“The great sheet of the mass, that where hardly a light had twinkled or moved, becomes now a sparkling field of rhythmic flashing points with trains of traveling sparks hurrying hither and thither. THe brain is waking and with it the mind is returning. it is as if the Milky Way entered upon some cosmic dance. Swiftly the head mass becomes an enchanted loom where millions of flashing shuttles weave a dissolving pattern.”
- Sir Charles Sherrington, Man On His Nature (1940)
“Waking consciousness is dreaming – but dreaming constrained by external reality.”
- Oliver Sacks, An Anthropologist On Marks (1995)
“Maybe philosophical problems are hard not because they are divine or irreducible or meaningless or workaday science, but because the mind of Homo sapiens lacks the cognitive equipment to solve them. We are organisms, not angels, and our minds are organs, not piplines to the truth. Our minds evolve by natural selection to solve problems that were life-and-death matters to our ancestors, not to commune with correctness or to answer any question we are capable of asking. We cannot hold 10,000 words in short-term memory. We cannot see in ultraviolet light. We cannot mentally rotate an object in fourth dimension. And perhaps we cannot solve conundrums like free will and sentience.”
- Steven Pinker, How The Mind Works (1997)
“The drama of the human condition comes solely from consciousness. Of course, consciousness and its revelations allow us to create a better life for self and others, but the price we pay for that better life is high. It is not just the price of risk and danger and pain. It is the price of knowing risk, danger, and pain. Worse even: It is the price of knowing what pleasure is and knowing when it is missing or unattainable.
The drama of the human condition thus comes from consciousness because it concerns knowledge obtained in a bargain that none of us struck: The cost of a better existence is the loss of innocence about that very existence. The feeling of what happens is the answer to a uestion never asked, and it is also the coin in a Faustian bargain that we could never have negotiated: Nature did it for us.”
- Antonio Damasio, The Feeling of What Happens (1999)
“Everybody knows what consciousness is:
It is what vanishes every night when we fall into dreamless sleep and reappears when we wake up or when we dream. It is also all we are and all we have: Lose consciousness and, as far as you are concerned, your own self and the entire world dissolve into nothingness . . . . Neurobiological facts constitute both challenging paradoxes and precious clues to the enigma of consciousness. This state of affairs is not unlike the once faced by biologists when, knowing a great deal about similarities and differences between species, fossil remains, and breeding practices, they still lacked a theory of how evolution might occur. What was needed, then as now, were not just more facts but a theoretical framework that could make sense of them.”
- Giului Tononi, Biological Bulletin (2008)
I AM feeling sexy.
I’m reading up the psychology behind human intelligence, that is, by definition, the ability to learn from experience, solve problems, and use knowledge to adapt to new situations. I just have some musings on a particular subject matter: Sexual expression.
According to results from personality tests, I score high in showing behaviors that allow a lot of room for creativity and, to a lot of degree, sexual expression.
I grew up with a very nurturing mother who shaped me in the traditional way Asian parents shape their daughters in order to be “marriagable” – that is, to be ultra feminine. Soft-spoken, multi-talented, light and gentle, and all the other feminine traits you can think of.
However, I am raised with two older brothers, who taught me a lot of things, boyish things. Me and my brothers have very intimate relationships. We love to engage in novelty-seeking experiences – we talk nonsense, often we talk just to make noise, but we also love to talk about big ideas. Huge ideas. Absurd ideas. So, anyway, we’re really close. But, something to note here: They’re not even close to those overprotective brothers who set rules and regulations for treating their baby sister for all the men they meet. My brothers are so flexible that for most of my life I wonder how they think of me and the idea of losing me to another man (as in, whenever I’m in relationships).
I’m aware that they’ve taught me a lot of masculine traits as I grow up, and that has become my own protective shell to safeguard the fragile, feminine traits inside my self. Since it’s a long, developmental process, adopting androgyny and all, these masculine traits have endured enough to become a permanent part of me. As I’m coming of age into adulthood, my hormones and I are going up and down like roller coasters, and there are some thought-provoking questions I tend to ask myself concerning how masculine or how feminine I should act, especially in recent years (I’m presently 21 years old).
I think that was part of the many psychological (and consequently physiological) reasons why I’ve stopped menstruating for such a long period of time.
We all know that the human hormones and the rhythms go up and down in our body, and they not only shape our body – they also deliberately construct our temperaments. Our patterns of thinking shapes the pattern of how our genes adapt to new experiences and situations. Hormones really determine a lot about how we operate our life on a day-to-day basis. In my case, I’m highly functional when I run by dopamine and oestrogen, plus oxytocin, whenever I’m out for a run. So I satisfy my personal (to be specific: biological) needs, as driven by these hormones, through physical exercise and dance movements.
Since biologically I am female, naturally, I express a lot of feminine traits. It’s an inherent thing. There’s no need to consciously learn these aspects of my feminine psyche. On the other hand, I’ve been struggling with a stable self-concept that I can always uphold in all kinds of situations, across all contexts, so that I don’t have to act in a certain way and act another way in another situation. It’s tiresome to juggle multiple identities. Ironically, isn’t that the way our modern lives has conditioned this identity-shifting pattern of thinking as a daily necessity?
Of course, there are defense mechanisms we can always use to cope with the instability of our sense of self – but it takes a lot of time to develop that mature attitude, to transmute a particular emotion to a positive perception beneficial for both our ego and for others. For win-win situations. Takes a lot of trials and errors. Any entrepreneur would agree with that statement when starting out a business.
However, I’m willing to keep on learning how to take advantage of my androgyny, channel them in functional ways that work best for me.
It’s still difficult for me to act the way I would really act when some guy on the street whistled just because I have long hair, or to accept that a guy is attracted to me because of the outer appearance I naturally express, which is the most natural thing in the world for us to do as we are – animalistic human beings (who are also intelligent).
In the past year, I’ve really learned a bad behavior. To counter that whistle, I adopted these really unfeminine, aggressive, and self-destructive behaviors that actually kills my femininity. Because that little whistle, or that look, or that touch a stranger makes you feel – you instantly feel vulnerable. As a result, I don’t feel good at all whenever I am consciously or unconsciously expressing my sexuality and having the opposite sex ogling like a hungry animal (unless it’s someone I’m also attracted to. I mean, all this is just in the language of scientific literature. I’m won’t normally talk to people like this).
So I’ve come to transmute that behavior and direct that to a different focus – Human nature is amazing.
Which is why I always turn to science whenever these basic, self-destructive behaviors start to overwhelm me. Science tells us the similarities between both genders, across all races and cultures, societies all around the world.
With science, I’m glad that I can always remember how we can always take control of our thoughts, remember that we’re Homo sapiens, that is, intelligent animals, who can think in our own creative ways and adapt to all sorts of situations.
And just by directing those thoughts to this new, optimistic direction in mind, I’m already solving a personal problem.
At the end of last year, I finally chopped off my hair, mainly because of those feelings. I feel insecure about the very basic fact that men are attracted to visually-stimulating women and their most obvious beauty feature: Long mane. I am blessed to have naturally thick dark hair, which is slightly brown by nature. I was single. I was alone. I felt that I only have myself to rely on, and I can’t be this fragile. And so I cut my hair so I can act like a boy.
Now, though, I learn that I can manipulate how I behave. Last week, I’ve bought my clip-on fake hair that I can set myself up with before I get out of the door and seize the day, feel my best – feel my most confident. Before I clip that thing on, I ask myself: Do I want to be mainly a female throughout my day, or a man?
What matters is a win-win situation for all.
In conclusion, I think that a lot of problems within our societies come from personal sufferings like these, little or big, that which we keep struggling to fight within ourselves and therefore foster our larger environments the same behaviors we are struggling within. To make peace outside we must first use our limbic brain to direct our egoistic, animalistic, reptilian brains.
We’re Homo sapiens after all, and to love is to be a human being after all.
I saw my gynecologist the other day, and she said I’m fine. I just need to balance my hormones… by coping with stress well, by changing my lifestyle. In a world of power dominance, battle of the sexes, and money-driven society, I’m deciding to taking advantage of my androgyny to rule my world. Females live longer after all; females had the last laugh after all.
On a side note, men and women are not that different. In I suggest reading up on the latest studies on neuroscience. You’ll discover that there are more similarities between the male and female brains than there are differences. Except for the obvious fact that men’s brains are bigger than women. But bigger doesn’t mean better. Although we should always remember that women comes after men, according to the Genesis.
Cheers to human nature and the marvelous, artful, ingenious activity we now call great sex, and the sexuality we manifest in our everyday self-expression.
SALUNA is signing off.