Return of the Lizard People, II
As mentioned briefly in the last post “The Return of the Lizard People“, professional “public communicators” of all kinds have taken a great deal of interest in the reptilian brain, the oldest layer (in evolutionary terms) of the triune brain system in humans that also includes the limbic and the neo-cortex. I also provided a couple of links to marketing firms’ websites simply to emphasise the point. Those sites were selected completely at random from a lengthy list resulting from a Google search keying on the words “advertising” and “reptilian brain”. There are many more I could have added.
The reptilian brain isn’t really intelligent. It is more a kind of automaton. It is the seat of the instinctual rather than intellectual. It is not thoughtful or mindful or reflective. It is also the seat of the vitality of the body — of sexual energy, bodily homeostasis, the feeling of power, the impulsive and compulsive, etc — so it isn’t “evil” in itself except when it lacks guidance and direction provided by the “higher” intellectual or consciousness functions connected with the limbic and the neo-cortex.
I know people who are pretty much ruled by the reptilian brain. It was the organ that Nazi propaganda and mass pedagogy sought to foster, promote and cultivate as volkisch “instinct” — the instinct of “blood and soil” over intellect, of action (“will”) over thinking, of “Kultur” against “Zivilisation“, or vitalism against reason. When the Nazis spoke of their “Weltanschauung” (or total world outlook) as something inexplicable and instinctual rather than rational or intellectual, they were speaking of the functioning of the reptilian brain, even without any knowledge of neuroanatomy.
Modern propaganda and advertising (“perception management”) may seem brash and irrational (as this fellow complains) but it is highly calculated to, first, benumb the neo-cortex and, secondly, stimulate and arouse the reptilian brain. This was called by the fascists their “awakening” (as in Deutschland Erwache!). It had nothing to do with enlightenment. Just the opposite of what we might understand as “awakening”. Constant repetition is the key.
This was the experience of the author Stephen Roberts, who wrote the book The House That Hitler Built. Roberts spent almost two years in Germany studying the Nazi state between 1936 and 1938, and he seems to have had remarkable access to Nazi officials, including Hitler himself. He records how even his own critical intellectual resistance to propaganda was worn down by being constantly surrounded by it — the benumbing of the higher brain functions,
“That is Goebbels’s great inspiration – that propaganda seemingly fully documented by word and picture, may triumph over reason. Every investigator in Germany feels this – whatever his beliefs may be, the constant repetition of propaganda, in the Press, on the air, and through personal media, wears down his resistance, until he has to exert a conscious effort not to acquiesce in a campaign he would instantly question if considering it aloofly in his study in his own country. Goebbels has arrived at a mathematical relationship between the stream of propaganda and any individual’s power of resistance, and if his margin is sufficient to wear down doubting foreigners, how much more effective is it for his own nationals, predisposed as they are to be converted to the achievements of the new regime?”
In that statement, you find the rationale for the seeming irrationality of propaganda and its constant repetition of the same formulae — to disable reason and the intellect so that the instinctual — the pre-human — can rise to the seat of dominance. It was this surrender of the intellect to the “instinctual” that fascism extolled as “obedience” or “loyalty”. It produced that strange bifurcation and schizophrenia of the personality that we have come to associate with the Nazi period.
So, when I see or hear a seemingly empty-headed and trite advertising slogan like “Obey your Thirst!”, alarm bells start to ring. Consumerism can be as mindless as fascism, promoting that same kind of thoughtless surrender of the higher brain functions to the merely instinctual. A slogan like “obey your thirst” takes direct aim at the reptilian brain.
I have used the term “profanation” and “profane” to describe this type of speech that is deliberately engineered to distract and divert the specifically human in favour of the pre-human. And this type of profaning speech and action is what others mean when they speak of “the demonic”. Very often, what appears absurd, irrational, nonsensical and infantile is actually precisely calculated to short-circuit the defenses of the neo-cortex in order to penetrate to the reptilian brain. And with constant repetition, eventually the absurd, the unreasonable, the nonsensical and the infantile comes to be seen even as “normal”, as Stephen Roberts even witnessed in himself.
In that sense, when Eric Kahler speaks of “the breakdown of the human form” in his The Tower and the Abyss, and Gebser writes of “disintegration” of the present consciousness structure in his Ever-Present Origin, or Rosenstock-Huessy writes of “Modern Man’s Disintegration”, one can also take this as the likely result of this siege being waged against the neo-cortex in order to stimulate and arouse the reptilian brain — for fun and profit — and that this has a lot to do with the “new normal”. For that reason, I speak of “sacred speech” and “profane speech”.
At the same time, it is forcing us to become conscious — merely as a matter of self-defence — of our vulnerabilities, which is a positive side-effect. This belongs to that “double-movement” of the times that Gebser also recognised — the coincidence of the integrative amidst the disintegrative.