Greg Bear, The Country of the Mind (From Queen of Angels). Attributed to pseudo-author and character from the novel, Martin Burke, in his meta-fictional book, The Country of the Mind 2043-2044.
The advent of nano-therapy – the use of tiny surgical prochines to alter neuronal pathways and perform literal brain restructuring – gave us the opportunity to fully explore the Country of the Mind.
I could not find any method of knowing the state of individual neurons in the hypothalamic complex without invasive methods such as probs ending in a microelectrode, or radioactively tagged binding agents – none of which would work for the hours necessary to explore the Country. But tiny prochines capable of sitting within an axon or neuron, or sitting nearby and measuring the neuron’s state, sending a tagged signal through microscopic “living” wires to sensitive external recievers … I had my solution. Designing and building them was less of a problem than I expected; the first prochines I used were nano therapy status-reporting units, tiny sensors which monitored the activity of surgical prochines and which did virtually everything I required. They had already existed for five years in therapeutic centers.
For a healthy mentality, what is aware in each of us at any given moment is the primary personality and whatever subpersonalities, agents or talents it has deemed necessary to consult and utilize; that which is not “conscious” is merely for the moment (be that moment a split second or a decade or even a lifetime) either inactive or not consulted. Most mental organons – for such is the word I use to refer to the separate elements of mentality – are capable of emergence into awareness at some time or another. The major exceptions to this rule are undeveloped or suppressed subpersonalities, and those organons that are concerned solely with bodily functions or maintenance of the brain’s physical structure. Occasionally, these basic organons will appear as symbols within a higher-level brain activity, bid the flow of information to these basic organons 1.5 almost completely on sided. They do not comment an their activities; they are automatons as old as the brain itself.
This does not mean that the “subconscious” has been completely charted. Much remains a mystery particular, those structures that Jung referred to as “archetypes”. ” I I have seen their effects, their results, but I have never seen an archetype itself and I cannot say to which category of organon I would consign it if I could find it.
The individual differetiates from its world and its social group when it is able to observe all their elements as manipulable signs. In any individual, cultured or not, “conciousness” develops when all portions of its mind agree on the nature and meaning of their various “message characters”. This integration results in a persona, an “overseer” of the mental agreement – the concious personality.
Imagine somebody else being allowed to lucidly dream within you; to be awake yet explore your dreams. That’s part of what the Country of the Mind experience is like; but of course, our personal memories of dreams are confused. It is even possible for two or more agents to dream seperate dreams at the same time – further adding to the confusion. When a dream intersects the Country at all, it does so like an arrow shot through a layer-cake, picking up impressions from as many as a dozen levels of territory. When I go into your Country I can see each territory clearly and study it for what it is, not for what your personal dream-interpreter wants it to be.
“Why does the Country of the Mind exist, Mr. Burke?” Albigoni asked. “I’ve read your papers and books but they’re quite technical.” Martin gathered his thoughts though he had explained this a hundred times to colleagues and even the general public. This time, he would not allow any artistic embellishments. The Country was fabulous enough in plain.
“It’s the ground of all human thought, for all our big and little selves. It’s different in each of us. There is no such thing as aunified human consciousness. There are primary routines which we call personalities, one of which usually makes up the concious self, and they are partially intergrated with other routines which I call subpersonalities, talents, or agents. These are actually limited versions of subpersonalities, not complete; to be expressed, or put in control of the overall mind, they need to be brough forward and smootly meshed with the primary personality, that is, what used to be called the conciousness, our foremost self. Talents are complexes of skills and instincts, learned and prepatterned behaviour. Sex is the most obvious and numerous – twenty talents in full grown adults. Anger is another; there are usually five talents devoted to anger response. In an integrated, socially adapted adult older than thirty, only two such anger talents usualy remain – social anger and personal anger. Ours is an age of social anger.”
“Talents are personalities?”
“Not fully devloped. They are not autonomous in balanced and healthy individuals.”
“What other talents are there?”
“Hundreds, most rudimentary, nearly all borrowing or in parallel with the primary routines, all smoothly intergrating, meshing,” he knitted his knuckles gearwise and twisted his hands, “to make up the healthy individual.”
“You say nearly all. What about those routines and subroutines that don’t borrow, that are most likely to be … what you call subpersonalities or ‘close secondaries’?”
“Very complex diagram,” Martin said. “It’s in my second book.” He nodded at the tablet’s screen. “Subpersonalities or close secondaries include male/female modeling routines, what Jung called animus and anima … Major occupation routines, that is, the personality one assumes when carrying out one’s business or a major role in society … Any routine that could conceivably inform or replace the primary personality for a substantial length of time.”
“Being an artist or a poet, perhaps?”
“Or a husband/wife or a father/mother.”
Albigoni nodded, eyes closed and almost lost in his broad face. “From what little research I’ve managed to do in the last thirty-six hours, I’ve learned that therapy is more often than not a stimulus of discarded or suppressed routines and subroutines to achieve a closer balance.”
Martin nodded. “Or the suppression of an unwanted or defective subpersonality. That can sometimes be done through exterior therapy – talking it out – or through interior stimulus, such as direct simulation of fantasized growth experiences. Or it can be done through physical remodeling of the brain, chemical expression and repression, or more radically, microsurgery to close of the loci of undesired dominant routines.”
Also, from Slant (where Martin Burke is again a character):
“Intelligence and creativity often accompany more fragile constitutions,” Martin says. “There’s every evidence some people are more sensitive and alert, more attuned to reality, and this puts a greater load on their systems. Still, these people make themselves very useful in our society. We couldn’t get along without them – ”
“Genius is next to madness, is that what you’re saying Doctor?”
“Genius is a particular state of mind … a type of mind, only distantly comparable to the types I’m talking about.”