If we speak of humans as the expression of universal consciousness, I think about how our sensory organs are uniquely formed to receive, contain and create specific modes of thought or behavior. We have noses, so we smell certain things at a certain range (dogs, for example, have a much greater range and, we might assume, spectrum of smell, if one could measure such a thing). Our brains process sight in a specific way based on our eye structure, and so on.
And we process thought and communicate via our unique system of language, which is linear–one word at a time–and assumes that cause leads to effect. This, then, becomes our basis for understanding our reality.
I have just finished reading Ted Chaing’s short story, “This Is Your Life”, on which the film “Arrival” is based. In it, a linguist is brought in to interpret the language of the aliens, whom they dub heptapods, based on the fact that they have 7 limbs and 7 eyes. These beings have a whole different way of processing information, which is based on purpose. They are able to see the end in the beginning as all time is happening in their now, and the way they express it in written form implies the end in the beginning. Here’s how Chaing expresses it through the linguist, Louise:
“What distinguishes the heptapods’ mode of awareness is not just that their actions coincide with history’s events; it is also that their motives coincide with history’s purposes. They act to create the future, to enact chronology.” Free will is not even part of their understanding.
Once she’s learned and starts thinking in the heptapods language, Louise is able to “know” (as they do) the future and the present as well as the past. She sees that she will have a daughter and experiences her daughter’s death at 25, before she even “decides” to become pregnant–because that is her own “history’s purpose.” She has no choice except to follow this path that she sees as happening already. She can’t tell anyone, even her husband-to-be and father of her daughter, how her perceptions have changed, nor would he understand it if she did, but it changes her experience of her whole life.
So my question is, how does our “human beingness” conscribe us to a story tailored uniquely to the ways our biology is set up to receive, channel and process it? And could we evolve past those limitations, just as Louise has opened up a new way of seeing and being after interacting with these aliens and seeing things through their eyes and ears, so to speak?