Friday, July 25, 2008

Channeling the avatar

I'm working on a comic page relating avatar identity with shamanism and tantric practice. In the course of research, I came across some great videos of people manifesting very different personalities than their standard human identity:

Genpo Roshi's Big Mind process allows people to speak from the viewpoints of many different identities, both internal and universal.



Voice Dialogue allows people to speak with different selves within their consciousness.



This video is a fascinating example of trance channeling, with Jane Roberts channeling a being named Seth.



I'm not sure to what extent these are connected to the human experience of unique avatar identities, but they certainly provide food for thought.

12 comments:

dandellion said...

Though we all "use" our avatars in different ways, avie can be a great meditation tool. It is not just a vehicle for the grid, it is also a vehicle for going inside the mind.

Dale Innis said...

I think the Seth lady was just pretending. :) But basically, yeah.

There's some great stuff about this in whatsisname's famous book "Aristoi" also; in that civilization, people would routinely cultivate and interact with various subsets of their consciousness, or "daemons" or whatever they called them in the book. (Aren't I definite today?)

Forelle Broek said...

So this "Genpo Roshi" character is really a performance artist satirizing fatuous new age mumbo jumbo, right?

Botgirl Questi said...

dandellion: I'd love to hear about your avatar meditation experiences. Can the human be watching TV while the avatar meditates, or does she need to pay attention? ;)

dale: If the Seth lady (may she rest in peace) was pretending, she is quite a prolific novelist. That's something, isn't it?

forelle: I dunno. Like many psychological processes including past life regression, I try to evaluate them upon their therapeutic efficacy rather than literal validity.

Forelle Broek said...

OK, but even taking "therapeutic efficacy" as the standard, all of this stuff is on a par with snake oil.

Dr Bill said...

dale: That would be Walter Jon Williams' Aristoi. You're not the only one to have noticed the parallels between avatars and Williams' "daemons" ... *g*

forelle: You're missing the point. Botgirl's three examples invite further examination about personal identity, and the ways in which multiple personalities can emerge without apparent organic injury or pathology. That is surely noteworthy.

botgirl: Not precisely the point of your comic page, but have you thought much on the frequent reports from professional authors about characters "waking up", and how that might be related to all this?

Forelle Broek said...

No, I'm not missing the point. I'm just making a point that advocates of "past life regression", "channeling", and other quackery dislike: there is no valid evidence of any asserted "therapeutic benefits" -- whether "examination of personal identity" or otherwise -- to these techniques. Nor are they harmless. They may not cause organic injury or pathology, but they certainly can and do cause psychological injury and pathology, by perpetuating irrational beliefs in nonsensical ideas that can have very dangerous consequences (as when people forgo legitimate medical treatment or mental health care because they think the shaman will make them better). And there is also injury in the sense that the practitioners are defrauding people of substantial sums of money.

I have been greatly enjoying BotGirl's thoughtful and thought-provoking explorations of identity and virtuality (as well as her beautifully rendered illustrations), and I hate to see such a valuable discussion be tainted by association with arrant nonsense.

Dr Bill said...

forelle: And I regret seeing raw data discarded because it might conflict with a belief system.

We know very little about the structure and nature of self-aware personality -- so little that we aren't even sure what hypnosis is, much less dissociative identity disorder.

We have a number of recurring human behaviors which strongly suggest the ability of human organisms to support, at least for a time, the function of more than a single personality within the same organism.

Some of those behaviors may in fact be simple fraud. But the possibilities are not binary. To use an example on which we both partially agree: Let us stipulate that Jane Roberts was absolutely not in contact with a discarnate alien. That does not mean that she was indulging in simple, deliberate fraud. Nor does it therefore mean that she was simply delusional. It *might* mean that she was using the same neuroendocrine structures that authors access when they have the experience of characters "waking up".

We do not yet know.

And we cannot know if we simply dismiss Roberts' case (again, by way of example) because we don't like/disbelieve the ostensible source of the narrative.

Forelle Broek said...

I am not suggesting that raw data be discarded. I'm suggesting that the data be subjected to legitimate scientific inquiry to establish what, if anything, it signifies. In the case of this particular data (if you really want to dignify sideshow stunts with that label), there is absolutely no clinical nor other valid research establishing any therapeutic benefit nor other value to these techniques. Absent any such research, the "raw data" is at best meaningless, and seriously misleading.

Dr Bill said...

forelle: "I am not suggesting that raw data be discarded."

You may not intend to. But your following statements read differently:

"... I'm suggesting that the data be subjected to legitimate scientific inquiry to establish what, if anything, it signifies."

I agree. But:

"... In the case of this particular data (if you really want to dignify sideshow stunts with that label), "

... dismissal by epithet...

"... there is absolutely no clinical nor other valid research establishing any therapeutic benefit nor other value to these techniques."

No research.

So we don't know anything about what the phenomena actually are.

That would, by your own argument, suggest that research would be indicated.

But:

"... Absent any such research, the "raw data" is at best meaningless, and seriously misleading."

That almost reads as if the absence of research is a valid reason to simply dismiss the data ("meaningless").

I cordially disagree.

Forelle Broek said...

"That almost reads as if the absence of research is a valid reason to simply dismiss the data ("meaningless").":

No, it doesn't "almost" read that way at all, and I cannot understand why Dr. Bill is so determined to mischaracterize my comments.

First of all, it isn't true that there has been "no research". There has been, and in that research, these techniques have persistently come up short. What I said is that there has been "no ... research establishing any therapeutic benefit nor other value to these techniques". In other words, the proponents of these techniques are unable to point to any valid evidence in support of their claims. Not for lack of trying, but for lack of success.

Moreover, I'm not dismissing any data; I'm simply pointing out that there is absolutely no support for the claims advanced on behalf of the techniques that the data represent. And, absent any foundation for those claims, the raw data are indeed "meaningless", in the sense that it is not possible to draw any meaningful conclusions from them.

It seems that Dr. Bill's real objection to my comments is that I expressed criticism of these techniques, and pointed out the fact (which he had conspicuously not refuted) that there is no valid evidence in support of their vaunted therapeutic value. In which case it would be Dr. Bill, not me, who wishes to suppress disagreeable data.

Bill Burris said...

One day I was wandering around in SL and came across Vidal at your place. She sent me to your blog.

While my life has never been the same since.

I watched the Genpo Roshi video, then watched other Genpo Roshi & Ken Wilber videos. This led to an investigation of Integral.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_movement

On the surface this appears to be New Age mumbo jumbo, but I have read enough about Buddhism and the mind to realize that something more interesting is going on here.