Smelling the Rat

Human beings – in case you’re interested to know – are made up of these bundles of reflexes or tendencies that get lightly coated in a special type of ethereal batter just as a chef might coat a chicken breast with skilfully seasoned breadcrumbs, only the special coating that we are talking about here is consciousness. It’s the addition of consciousness that allows the bundle of reflexes to come to life and function like an autonomous entity, you see. That’s actually how the inanimate bundle of reflexes gets to imagine that it is a person, or rather – that’s how we get to feel like the bundle of dead reflexes is us. Consciousness is like some kind of ‘fairy dust’ you see – it’s magic and it can bring inanimate objects to life, in a kind of a way at least. It’s a trick I suppose you would have to say but it’s an amazingly effective one and we all have to acknowledge that. I mean, don’t you feel that you are a person and not just some arbitrary collection of mechanical reflexes bundled together and brought to life for a short while by the addition of a certain magical ingredient? And aren’t those dead reflexes speaking through you and loudly claiming to be you? Of course they are and isn’t this the most amazing the effective trick ever? Of course it is. It’s a type of necromancy in my view but we won’t go into that! No mention of the dark arts need be made. Let’s have no more talk of animating the dead here…


Add too much consciousness to the mix and you’re in trouble again of course. Too much is worse than not enough! ‘Why is that?’, you ask politely. Too thick a coating of consciousness on the reflex bundle (the reflex bundle which we are pleased to call ‘our personality’) and we start to smell a rat; we start to see – against our own will – that all is not what it seems to be. Everything looks just as it’s supposed to look when there is only a very thin coating of magic fairy dust – the fiction convinces perfectly well (and don’t forget that we want to be convinced) but it wouldn’t really take too much in the way of scrutiny. The fiction won’t take any scrutiny at all to be honest; it doesn’t do to go poking at the jolly old fiction and that’s a fact. That’s a fact, that’s a fact, as the man said. So here we are stuck in ‘two fictions at the same time’ – there is the fiction on the inside and there is the fiction on the outside. The fiction on the inside is that we are this bag of psychological bones (called ‘a mechanical personality construct’) and the fiction on the outside is that this world that has been designed for the express benefit of this poor stupid personality construct, this poor bag of tricks, actually means anything. So there we are sandwiched neatly between the two lies and the only way for us to go along with the fiction (as we are supposed to) is to make very sure never to examine it too closely. This has become our battle cry! ‘Don’t examine the fiction,’ we call out bravely and we punish with all due severity all those persons don’t heed the battle cry as we do. We punish those persons who – far from heeding the cry – head stubbornly in the opposite direction and start examining the fiction as if this were actually somehow a legitimate and honourable thing to do! If there is one thing we all agree on – and God knows we can’t agree on anything else – it is never to question the sacred bullshit that we have been brought up on.


So you can see how much trouble can come from putting too thick a coating of consciousness batter on the old reflex bundles. Not enough do you become too stupid to live, too stupid to survive (like the poor contestants on Love Island); too much and we start to smell a rat, much as we don’t want to, much as we don’t want to. The very last thing we want to do is to smell that old rat; we suspect its existence all right, we have that abiding suspicion much as we never want to admit it, but we certainly don’t want to go right up to it and give it a sniff. Inhale deeply and take in the odour of that unwashed and malodorous rat deep into your lungs. ‘Oh yes’, you say, ‘the delightful smell of rat’. Subtle and yet poignant at the same time. Subtle and yet poignant, subtle and yet poignant. You could bottle the stuff and sell it to all the fine ladies in Boots the Chemists or Brown Thomas, I can tell you. They’d all be queuing up for that and no mistake.


I digress however, I digress. The point I wish to make is that the truth is most unwelcome to the ears of those who wish to ‘stick to the convenient cover-story’ and never was there a more inconvenient truth than this! The point that I wish to make here is that when there’s too much consciousness in the magic batter then it’s not a pretty picture either inside or out. Not so pretty at all. Where do you turn in this case? And the point I also wish to make is that when awareness does starts to cut in (in its most peculiar and most unexpected way) it’s no good looking for support and understanding from the good people around you. It’s no good looking for support and understanding from them because you aren’t going to get it. No sir you’re not. With any luck that’ll never happen to you, though.









0 thoughts on “Smelling the Rat

  1. shapeofshapes

    Personality constructs are built on mimicry … yet very few of us understand the echo of each others concerns, communication breaks down over generations…

    Messenger fireflys
    Homeward lamps trace circles
    Theatre at dusk

    1. shapeofshapes

      I will have to ask my friend Lara, except she does like to know there is an answer , so she she can get it right …once again!

  2. shapeofshapes

    “Past humanity is not only implicit in each new man born but is contained in him. Humanity is an ever-widening spiral and life is the beam that plays briefly on each succeeding ring. All humanity from its beginning to its end is already present but the beam has not yet played beyond you”.

    Flann O’Brien


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