By Brian George
To the radioactivity of an object out of mind each detail of one’s memory is a screen. Quite suddenly, as though no time had passed, the whole of history weighs no more than a feather. It is once more possible to review one's death on video. Again, the music of the spheres is audible, or even overwhelmingly loud. There are no hypnotic fields to block access to the macrocosm. If a tribe of watchers appears to be sitting on one's head, you can rest assured that this is purely a coincidence.
Gaps open. There are conflicts among the forces that govern the microcosm and the macrocosm. Scientists now compete to develop a Unified Field Theory—or a Theory of Everything, as it is sometimes called—that will unify the principles of relativity with those of quantum mechanics. No one knows what the new universe will look like, or who will discover the theory, or what strange games it will play with our consciousness, but many do believe that such a theory will exist in the nest 20 or so years.
It is tempting to think that the Human Consciousness Project could be brought to some similar resolution. The ancestral war between the subject and the object would end not with a bang but with a wedding. The neocortex would be transubstantiated. Dance would spread like a virus through the Luddite version of the World Wide Web. With their planetary chanting, cyborgs would awaken every megalith at Stonehenge. Intellect would lift all symbols from the sewers of the Sargasso Sea.
The New World Order would not depend on oil, but, instead, on breath. Clones from a Calvinist think tank would give away their hearts, their car keys and their houses, as they ran to hug random derelicts on the street. Prosthetic limbs would attach themselves to torsos. Nanotechnocrats would free the great apes that were hung on the tree of recombinant knowledge.
These microcosmic adjustments would be good. It is more likely, however, that philosophy does not progress. Nagel is smart, but not necessarily more evolved than Plato. Parallel universes agree to disagree. An 11-dimensional superstring coordinates the agon. If consciousness grows from the discovery of a preexistent object—the knowledge guarded by the self, to which the other had systematically denied access to the ego—then the resolution would occur not in the future but in the past. A mysterious conjunction has already taken place.
(Illustration: Pierre Roy)