Friday, January 23, 2009

What's Up Your Bottom?

I had a conversation with a friend today about how drugs and alcohol reduce inhibitions. This is why they're so plentiful at parties. I asked what would happen if no one had any inhibitions at all. My friend suggested that marriages would be destroyed because everyone would be having affairs, friendships would be ruined because everyone would say what they really thought about each other, and people would probably wind up killing each other.

To quote from the sci-fi classic, The Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson:
It is now theoretically possible to link the human nervous system into a radio network so that, micro-miniaturized receivers being implanted in people's brains, the messages coming out of these radios would be indistinguishable to the subjects from the voice of their own thoughts. One central transmitter, located in the nation's capital, could broadcast all day long what the authorities wanted the people to believe. The average man on the receiving end of these broadcasts would not even know he was a robot; he would think it was his own voice he was listening to. The average woman could be treated similarly.

It is ironic that people will find such a concept both shocking and frightening. Like Orwell's 1984, this is not a fantasy of the future but a parable of the present. Every citizen in every authoritarian society already has such a "radio" built into his or her brain. This radio is the little voice that asks, each time a desire is formed, "Is it safe? Will my wife (my husband/my boss/my church/my community) approve? Will people ridicule and mock me? Will the police come and arrest me?" This little voice the Freudians call "The Superego," with Freud himself vividly characterized as "the ego's harsh master."
So what do you think? Would a lack of inhibitions be the end of civilization as we know it, or would it create a life free of stress and anxiety, full of new and exciting works of art and innovations that the superego had suppressed?



Knitting Painter Woman said...

I think it would be a giant leap forward for Darwinian selection. The tactless would quickly be culled by the vengeful, who might either be culled themselves or celebrated. Not everyone avoids affairs because of inhibition.
I rarely think of myself as inhibited any more. It helped to live a while.

String said...

Wow, be interesting to know what people are really suppressing, actually might be a bit scary considering the amount of stress people are under these days! I would be armed...not saying that most people would have nefarious inhibitions, only need one 'free' sociopath to ruin a 'party'.

However, I do like the article you quoted...cameras here, cameras there, cameras in London everywhere!