Day 59: Are you psychic?

The Book is referring to telekinesis, specifically: “Today try lifting an object with your mind.”

I grew up with Star Wars – of course I’ve tried to do this. It never worked. Of course, I never tried that hard; it doesn’t look like much fun, doing a one-handed handstand in a swamp with an old green dude sitting on your foot, spouting mystical nonsense while you’re trying to move rocks with your mind. While upside down. In a swamp.

There’s a joke about telekinesis, which isn’t very funny because it’s didactic. It’s infinitely variable, but it goes something like this: The joke-er says to the jokees, “Do you think I can lift/move that [object] with the power of my mind?” The jokees respond; the content of their response is unimportant. The joke-er then walks to the [object] and picks it up. The power of the mind, working through the limbs. Hilarious!

No, it’s not really that funny. I warned you, though.

The reason the joke works – and it works, even if it’s not funny – is that we are still operating under the influence of Plato, for whom the body was nothing, and the soul/mind everything. For Plato, the physical world was unreal, because it was changing and corruptible – and while most of us accept the reality of the things around us, there is still a tendency to separate the “mind” from the “body” (and to privilege the former), as though our minds weren’t lumps of high-cholesterol meat.

We’re made of meat, people. We think with meat, we put our thoughts into action with meat. Those of you who are waiting for the Singularity will probably disagree with me, but I think the meat is essential to our humanity. I don’t mean to suggest that someone with an artificial joint or a prosthetic limb is somehow less human – but at some point, one becomes more machine than man, and certainly a human brain in a mechanical body is something other than human.

Your brain and your body aren’t two separate things: they’re all part of the same piece of meat. Embrace it; go out and move something with the power of your meat-mind. And if you use that joke, don’t tell anyone you learned it from me.

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