Brave New World Truly Revisited: The Euphenomenological Age
by The Euaffectist
Although it might seem overtly paternalistic of an author to impose on the reader a certain perspective from which she or he should read one’s work, I think that it is of cardinal importance in the case of this novel. Brave New World Truly Revisited: The Euphenomenological Age is not only a piece of fiction, but even more importantly an ethical proposal of utmost urgency. It is a novel that fictionalizes David Pearce’s Hedonistic Imperative which outlines a strategy to eradicate suffering in all sentient beings through the use of genetic engineering and biotechnology. By novelizing Pearce’s ethical manifesto, I try to overcome or at least tackle the problem of semantic incompetence. The human mind is just not very apt at putting mere verbal expressions into actual affective phenomenal reality. If one is only told about the magnificence of being on the top of a mountain, one is very likely to miss out on the actual affective phenomenal magnificence. Especially, a work written in a slightly sub-academese though very concise prose as is the case with David Pearce’s Hedonistic Imperative is largely ineffective at stirring the emotional repertoire of the reader and thereby revealing the actual phenomenal sublimety it aims for. This quite unfortunately lets his truly wonderful ideas appear as merely crude, cold-hearted scientific talk to many readers. This is, I assume, one of the main reasons why people are often not only unimpressed but even estranged by the brilliant insightfulness of David Pearce’s proposals. By employing a florid-emotive prose, I hope to show that below the rigid façade of the Hedonistic Imperative’s philosophical-scientific talk lies an immensely urgent ethical and truly wonderful phenomenal truth. As an additional tool to minimize the unwanted effects of semantic incompetence, I highly encourage the reader to enjoy at least the intellectually less straining parts of my novel with some background music that he would consider deeply soul-stirring and truly beautiful; this was a source of inspiration that I intensively consulted while composing this novel.
The title of my novel, I think, has great significance of which the reader should be aware. Many people view Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World as an uncannily prophetic piece of fiction that reveals the potentially horrid consequences of unhampered scientific progress, especially genetic engineering. While this interpretation of Huxley’s work is certainly defensible, one should take the context in which this science-fiction novel was produced into account to get a thorough understanding of the significance and meaning of Huxley’s masterpiece. The novel was first published in 1932 after Huxley had written most of it in the period between April and August of 1931. Considering the historical background, it seems obvious that Huxley had many other things in mind than just depicting the possible horrid consequences of rapid scientific-technological progress. Brave New World was certainly, at least, to some degree a fictional attempt to deal with the non-fictional aspects of the grave problems the Western civilization faced at the beginning of the 1930s. After the Wall Street Crash of October 1929, a period of severe economic depression followed that seriously threatened the future of the Western World.
Huxley increasingly grew weary of parliamentary democracy and even announced that humanity should be ruled by ‘men who will compel us to do and suffer what a rational foresight demands!’ He saw stability as the ultimate basis for a well-functioning social system. In contrast to the popular belief that Huxley was a deep sceptic of biotechnology and genetic engineering, it should be noted that he actually did sanction eugenics measures, which are however incomparable to the form of genetic engineering advocated by Pearce’s Hedonistic Imperative and in this novel. Huxley put it this way, ‘Any form of order is better than chaos!’ So Brave New World was certainly more fuelled by an effort to find a solution to the seemingly never-ending list of social, political and economic problems that plagued national life in 1931 than by a deep-rooted pessimism about the consequences of the wideuse of psychoactive substances and the application of genetic engineering to human life.
Only after Huxley had witnessed Hitler and ‘The Final Solution’ as well as the grossly inhumanities in Soviet Russia did he radically change his views on eugenics and central planning and wrote Brave New World Revisited, which was first published in 1958. In this non-fictional work Huxley concluded that the world was becoming much more like Brave New World much faster than he thought. Thus, in Brave New World Revisited Huxley much more poignantly realizes what he considers to be the truly prophetic character of Brave New World than he actually did while writing the novel itself.
However, one should keep in mind how dramatically Huxley’s views on human nature and society did change after he had himself begun to regularly use psychedelic substances such as mescaline and lysergic acid diethylamide. In Brave New World, soma is the socially preferred choice of mood-enhancement. It is a cheap uni-dimensional euphoriant that doesn’t make its users feel truly wonderful but rather is an instrument of social control. This repulsive depiction of a chemical mood-enhancer should come as no surprise when one considers that Aldous Huxley had not been personally familiar with any psychoactive substance except ethyl alcohol when he wrote the novel. However, once he had become familiar with the great potentialities of the human nervous system through his experiments with mescaline and LSD, he became an avid advocate of the use of psychedelics. In his last novel Island, which unfortunately never reached great popularity, he depicted a truly paradisiacal society in which people habitually used a fictional substance called Moksha, which was remarkably similar in its psychological profile to the non-fictional substance LSD.
Thus, although in Brave New World genetic engineering and the use of psychoactive substances do not come across as blessings, it is important to put their relatively repulsive depiction into perspective. Huxley did at least at one point of his life advocate eugenics and heavily used and advocated psychedelics for the last years of his life. Besides, Aldous Huxley had a very limited understanding of the actual neurochemical workings and thus the true potentialities of the nervous system. Hence, I think it would be ill-conceived to argue against the proposals put forth by David Pearce in his Hedonistic Imperative and the future scenario I depict in my novel by blindly appealing to Aldous Huxley’s brilliant but certainly not prophetic novel Brave New World.
The other part of the title of my novel, The Euphenomenological Age, also has great significance, perhaps even more then the first part. It would go far beyond the scope of this foreword to instruct the reader in the true meaning of the noun phenomenology and its adjective phenomenological. A substantial part of this novel is dedicated to familiarize the reader with the concept of phenomenology anyway. Thus, I think it suffices, for now, to understand the meaning of this novel’s title by vaguely equating phenomenology with consciousness and consequently phenomenological with conscious. It is further necessary, I believe, to explain the importance of the word-creation ‘euphenomenology’ as distinct from merely phenomenology. The reader might be familiar with words such as euphoria, eulogy, euthymia or perhaps even eudaimonia, the greek word for happiness. Etymologically speaking, all these words are compositions of a root noun and the Greek prefix ‘eu’, which basically means good or positive. Thus, the title The Euphenomenological Age refers to a time-period in the future, in which all conscious experiences will be of a good or positive nature. This might sound very vague or even cryptic, but the novel itself constitutes an effort to elucidate the very meaning of this utopian title.
Although my novel might seem at first overtly romantic or grotesquely utopian, I whole-heartedly hope that the reader can appreciate, upon deep and honest reflection, the supreme moral urgency and phenomenological significance of the Hedonistic Imperative’s message which I so passionately advocate in this novel. As a last point, I want to point out that my work is not neither an exclusive nor an inclusive fictionalization of David Pearce’s Hedonistic Imperative. It does not capture all the important aspects of his ethical proposals, displays my own interpretation of many of the points he makes and includes various elements that are not endorsed in his manifesto. Thus, I highly encourage the reader to familiarize herself or himself with the Hedonistic Imperative itself as well as with the numerous equally ethically important and intellectually brilliant essays by David Pearce which also served as key sources for my novel and which can be found on his extensive online hedweb imperium, www.hedweb.com.
Alex Vomela, 2008.When Thomas opened his eyes, he first felt the sheer overwhelming intensity of bright light against his retina, which daily lost in this almost violent fashion its nocturnally regained pristine virginity, and only after that fleeting moment of pure perception gained his full waking consciousness, which had to not only bear the energy of electromagnetic radiation as was the case with the retina but also the frenzy bustling activity of perception, affection and cognition. And as soon as enough sensory information had been processed by his billions of nerve cells, his mental machinery came to the firm conclusion that the integrated whole of those millions of bits of sensory information which had invaded Thomas’ corpus in the last few seconds did not encode the construct of matter and energy Thomas was used to encounter upon waking up, namely his beloved wife and a comfortable king-size bed in an expensively furnished bedroom.
* * *
"This manifesto outlines a strategy to eradicate suffering in all sentient life. The abolitionist project is ambitious, implausible, but technically feasible. It is defended here on ethical utilitarian grounds. Genetic engineering and nanotechnology allow Homo sapiens to discard the legacy-wetware of our evolutionary past. Our post-human successors will rewrite the vertebrate genome, redesign the global ecosystem, and abolish suffering throughout the living world.’
‘On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we won't understand
"Don't accept that what's happening
Is just a case of others' suffering
Or you'll find that you're joining in
The turning away"
It's a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting it's shroud
Over all we have known
Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that we're all alone
In the dream of the proud
On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange
And mesmerised as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night
No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
It's not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there'll be
No more turning away?’
David Gilmour, Anthony Moore (Pink Floyd)
‘All mind scientists should remember: Primary consciousness
arises from the somato-visceral operating systems of the upper
Dedicated to all sentient beings, with special grateful thanks to my very supportive family and David Pearce
At first Thomas thought to himself that the situation of amnesic puzzlement he found himself in was simply the unpleasant next-morning surprise of a nightly celebration which at his age had become scarce and responsible but still did occur from time to time in a rather pronounced fashion in which a civilized cocktail party escalated into some sort of outrageous college binge-drinking nostalgia. But Thomas felt an unfamiliar feeling of drowsiness, which he could only compare but certainly not equate to a strong liquor hangover. It appeared to Thomas that he had been asleep for years rather than hours. The coherence of his thoughts and memories was for him, as it already had been a few hundred years ago for Descartes, a clear sign that his consciousness was presently in the waking rather than the dreaming state. In a quick but cautious fashion, at least relatively quick and cautious given his slightly incapacitated mental and physical condition, he threw the sheets aside and slowly lifted his body, which at that moment felt to be made of lead rather than organic tissues. And when his visual field shifted to include most of the room he found himself in, Thomas’ confusion gave way to an explosion of neural electrochemical signals mediating an abrupt and powerful feeling of shocking bewilderment.
At this very moment, when Thomas first noticed a complete stranger standing a few feet away from him, no actual thoughts but only sub-neocortically arising perceptions and strong, almost explosive affections inhabited Thomas’ mental realm. During the first few seconds of Thomas’ visual contact with the stranger, the percept of matter and energy sculpting a person lead to an uncontrollable feeling of primordial fear. But this mental constitution was only of a very transient nature and soon many features of the person were conceptualized and analyzed by Thomas’ elaborate neocortex, which dissolved at least his previous anxiety but profoundly deepened his confusion. More and more questions sped through his mind while more and more conceptual details about the human being in front of him emerged. The man seemed to be of a very athletic physical statute and it immediately occurred to Thomas that this man had to be a professional athlete, maybe a runner in the sprint discipline or a regular practitioner of some other physical activity that would shape a human body in such a highly appealing way. But what was far more perplexing and appealing was not the spatial arrangement of the various tissues of which this man was made up but their and his clothes’ surface properties. The man appeared in a glowing radiance which induced a feeling of outstanding beauty. This, however, made the situation decidedly worse for Thomas. Instead of curing his bafflement the other man’s optical magnificence added a subtle feeling of embarrassment since Thomas was not used to be amazed at another man’s appearance in such a manner. The man’s skin was so delicately smooth; no scar or other dermatological element disrupted the perfect continuity of his goldenly colored skin which seemed to be the sublime conclusion to the magnificent three-dimensional tissue-framework resting beneath. But any thoughts and affections regarding the good looks of the stranger were quickly and forcefully pushed away to leave more mental power for the complete clarification of the strangely absurd situation Thomas found himself in.
The most reasonable answer to Thomas was that he found himself in some sort of hospital which would also explain the unusual drowsiness suffusing his mind and body reminding him of some sort of anaesthetic hangover in the context of a hospital setting. However, the thought of being in a hospital and unaware of how he had got here immediately caused a powerful surge of anxiety and uncertainty regarding his family. Thomas was less concerned about himself since no frightening empire of medical technology was mounting up next to his bed and being fused with his body. But before Thomas could give voice to his confused verbal thoughts, the man made a step forward in such a deliberate and courteous manner that Thomas could not have been dismayed even if the man was of such a deeply suspicious appearance as some of the trading partners Thomas had to deal with on a regular basis. The man stretched out his strong but delicate hand whose pristine softness Thomas was eager to feel but at the same time was reluctant to touch in the same way one is hesitant to enter and thereby befoul a landscape covered in a gorgeously silky layer of fresh white powder-snow. And while the man was patiently waiting for Thomas’ silent but obvious internal confusion to give way to some sort of physical action, he smiled in a rather amiable way and finally started to initiate a dialogue by saying, ‘Hello Thomas, I am very pleased to meet you. I am very sorry for the confusion you are experiencing right now, but I can assure you that everything is going to be alright.’ Thomas was about to get up and scream ‘What the hell is going on here, just tell me, I am not a child!’, but somehow the other man’s honest and reassuring appearance as well as the persisting feeling of drowsiness made Thomas continue to listen to the man’s strangely soothing voice.
‘It probably won’t be easy for you to understand and bear at first what I will tell you. I am sure you have seen Larry and Andy Wachowski’s science-fiction movie Matrix, isn’t that right Thomas?’ Thomas just kept staring at the man without giving any sign of conformation although he of course had seen the movie. But even the mentioning of the movie in this already bizarre situation seemed utmost ridiculous to Thomas. However since he really did not have a choice he continued to pay attention to the other man’s utterances, increasingly impatient and wistfully waiting for some clarification instead of weird and inappropriate movie small talk. ‘Well, just to make things at least a little bit easier consider the following analogy for a second. I am Morpheus and you are Neo.’ On the man’s face an expression of deeply felt compassion appeared that seemed so genuine that Thomas could not start laughing out loud at this seemingly odd analogy. The man continued his speech that seemed like inappropriate childish fantasy role-play ‘Thomas, I can’t offer you a blue or red pill, you are somehow forced to take the red one, but I can offer you another pill that will dissolve all confusion, anxiety and aversive feelings you will experience upon discovering more and more about what is going on here. It is absolutely safe, but I understand your worries and so I will leave it here with you. Whenever you feel ready, you can come outside but please be prepared that you will witness something that will appear to you as very strange but certainly wonderful in the end. And please also don’t forget the wonder-pill!” The man friendly touched Thomas’ shoulder who only sat there so utterly perplexed that any reaction was impossible at the moment. The man slowly turned around and as soon as the man had reached the door Thomas was about to scream ‘Wait, what is going on, I want to know! Where is my family, are they alright!’ But the door was closed before Thomas could even utter the first word.
The sound of the closing of the door affectively pushed Thomas down into the abysmal depth of perplexity, fear and desperation. He was entirely unable to move or make any appropriate further steps if that even existed in this uncanny situation. Only myriads of terrifying incapacitating questions and thoughts span through his head. What had happened? Where was he? Where was his family? If only his family was alright, only that really These worrisome verbal thoughts repeatedly went through his head as if some evil demon would hold the replay button for a song one not only disliked but actually deeply hated indefinitely long. And this state of panic-like anxiety was so energy-consuming, even more so utterly existence-consuming that no productive action that could have brought at least some degree of solace was possible. Thomas always was prone to anxiety-like thoughts, but he could usually control them and put them aside as some rather unpleasant but manageable aspect of his psyche. But in this case the anxiety was like a black-hole in his mind completely sucking up the rest of his consciousness and seemingly annihilating it forever.
The pill lying on the shelf next to him for a second seemed like the Godsent antidote to the painful poison of mental misery. But Thomas never did succumb to the weakness of taking chemical synthetics for his problems, thereby cowardly avoiding instead of facing and resolving them. He was however less reluctant to take antibiotics or pain-killers to avoid physical pain since he knew that getting rid of one’s physical ailments was somehow less succumbing and unnatural than using psychic anaesthetics. But if one could just get rid of this awful feeling for just a second, just a second of nothingness; this prospect almost felt wonderful. But he decided to go the route of the brave and honest and fight against his own mind in a natural way. He forced himself to sit down and take one deep breath after another thereby flooding his brain with oxygen and giving it new energy to ridden itself of the virus-like emotions infesting his mind. After a while that seemed more like eternity than the actual five or so minutes it took for the merciless wickedness of aversive feelings that had suffused Thomas’ entire consciousness and cruelly enslaved his entire cognitive machinery to finally or at least temporarily fade away and leave Thomas’ consciousness behind like a battlefield that was certainly repulsive but still somehow inhabitable for productive thoughts.
Thomas decided to remain as sanely calm as possible and to act in a relatively incisive way to find answers to the countless questions painfully scratching his psyche. He put on the clothes that were prepared for him which were of a similar superb texture and surface embellishment as that of the attire of the stranger Thomas had just minutes ago profoundly admired. But given the feeling of pressing urgency, the vast magnificent perceptual and affective potential of Thomas’ mind was reduced to an animal-like survival-based minimum of functioning and thus did not perceive the sensual luxuries of the garments. However, when Thomas actually put on the strange clothes which were made ready for him, the present dullness of his senses was, for a transient moment, overwhelmed by a striking flash, an impetus of millions of electrical signals travelling from all the sensory receptors on his skin all the way to his brain in a fraction of second, where they were phenomenologically endowed with a hedonic gloss resulting in a gratifying sensation of marvellously soft comfort. This short sparkle of sensory pleasure was however immediately and forcefully pushed aside by the all-consuming feeling of anxious urgency that directed Thomas’ existence. He finally reached the door where he stopped for a moment and tried to calm his highly stimulated nervous system down. However, he was painfully aware of the futility of this neocortically-mediated conscious effort to control the dominant and mysterious dynamism of his affections.
When Thomas hastily removed the physical barrier to the world outside the room he had been inhabiting for too long in a state of anxious malaise, he was slightly surprised in a positive way that a white relatively empty room with a table and a few chairs met his eyes instead of some bizarre futuristic scenario which Thomas had already gone through in his presently troubled and not properly working mind. But this ephemeral moment of relief and sanity quickly gave way again to feelings of anxious urgency, worrisome uncertainty and deep confusion.
In the middle of the room there was a table with a few chairs, two of which were occupied by a man, namely the same stranger Thomas had encountered just a few minutes ago, and a woman who invoked an even more soul-stirring sense of beauty in Thomas. She also exuded that sense of authentic, deep-rooted friendliness that strikingly perplexed Thomas who was so used to see through the veneer of deceptiveness in his trading partners whose cold-hearted profit-orientedness came in almost every disguise. And of course Thomas could not deny a strong feeling of arousal and attraction towards that woman even in the face of the present aversive circumstances. That feeling of attraction clearly had a soothing, anxiolytic and mood-lifting impact on Thomas’ distressed consciousness and made him feel physically mobile and mentally agile again.
The man welcomed Thomas by saying in a voice that so perfectly matched his visual appearance of friendly genuineness, ‘Hello Thomas, we are very glad you are here with us now. I hope you are feeling well. Have you decided to consume the pill I have offered you?’ Thomas who now felt much more responsive and motivated to finally clarify the situation and inquire the whereabouts of his family answered in a rather straightforward manner ‘Thank you for your kindness, but I am not the kind of person to take pills unless I know it’s absolutely necessary! Excuse my boldness, but I would really appreciate to hear what is going on here and where my family is! Did I have an accident? What kind of medical institution is that here?’ Only after he had put forth these statements and requests, he noticed the eerie absence of many things typically found in a hospital; in fact, the room he had woken up in as well as this room were lacking any sort of furnishings. But before he could spend more time analyzing the oddity of his present environment, the woman raised her voice for the first time, ‘Thomas, I am very delighted to meet you. I’m Tanja, a researcher here at this institution. David and me will explain everything to you. But we want you to be prepared that it will be very strange. I can only tell you that taking that pill would make things much easier for you. But in any case we will be there for you and help you understand what is going on!’
Thomas couldn’t take anymore of this mysterious, indirect, uninformative and disturbing talk and fell into an affective state of impatient anger, which was only held in check by the extraordinarily friendly appeal of the two strangers. ‘I really can’t take this anymore. Can you please just tell me where my family is and what I am doing here!’ ‘Well Thomas’, started the man again, ‘to put it frankly and directly as you wish, you are in the future, but your family is not!’ Thomas was struck by a feeling of angry bewilderment. The utterances of the man seemed like eerily ludicrous, seductive statements of a sect-leader who had completely lost touch with reality. And all of a sudden Thomas felt the horror of being trapped in the hands of insane unpredictable new-age gurus. And this thought quickly crystallized into a horrific conviction since Thomas more and more realized that the strangeness of the place and the people could only be explained by this scenario. He obviously had become the victim of some sort of esoteric movement that kidnapped people and did……..here his thoughts stopped and were replaced by an all-existence consuming painful panic. But somehow his prefrontal cortex was functioning efficiently enough to come to the conclusion that it was prudent to remain calm and so Thomas managed to suppress a visible bodily response to his emotional distress. In a relatively controlled manner he said
‘OK you both know that it seems to me quite absurd and hard to believe that I am actually in the future. How did I come here, I mean into the future?’ It was hard for Thomas to suppress any undertone of angry cynicism in his response. He carefully watched the strikingly but deceptively beautiful faces of the two people who managed quite well to keep up a charade of sympathy and good intention, Thomas thought. For a moment, Thomas felt proud and self-confident since he had seen so quickly and accurately through the pretence of his opponents. Thus, after all his strong mistrust in people which his job had deeply ingrained into his personality had triumphed again and propelled Thomas forward to be in a not necessarily leading but certainly strategically worthwhile position. The man, whom Thomas thought to be one of the leaders of this sect due to his remarkable allure, raised his mellow voice again, ‘Thomas, I will explain to you now how you’ve come here, but it will seem absurd to you. Just try to listen and I will be very happy to answer all your questions. Just keep in mind that we will be there for you and help you!’ Thomas had to use self-discipline not to let a smirk appear on his face since he almost felt empowered to know that every sentence leaving the man’s lips was a ridiculous lie of a mad-man.
‘In the year 2009, Thomas, you were diagnosed with a very aggressive form of lung cancer, incurable by medical standards at that time. But you were brave and tried to fight it together with your family. But Thomas,’ and here the man paused and looked Thomas into the eyes with such a sincere look of sympathy and compassion that Thomas for a fleeting moment was struck by a paralyzing feeling of emotional agony since he actually believed the man’s words. But he immediately abandoned this thought by convincing himself how silly and dangerous it was for him to believe such a preposterous lunatic. Although the rational part of his consciousness had swiftly returned to a state of self-confident sharp scepticism, his very being was still shaking from the powerful emotional eruptions of soul-torturing pain. ‘Thomas, your family got into a car-accident and although the medical doctors were certainly trying their best…….the medical equipment back at this time was not sophisticated and effective enough to save them.’ Thomas again felt a powerful surge of explosive desperation rising and taking hold of him, but he managed to employ his self-learned way of rational-emotive psychotherapy to control his affections via rational thoughts, successfully only to a meagre degree. But he could not help this persisting feeling of being trapped and unable to escape. He could not let himself fall into a state of apathy and learned helplessness. He had to remain emotionally strong as well as incisively alert.
The man continued with his outpouring of empathy and sympathy, ‘Thomas, when this accident happened you fell into a state of desperation and depression and suicide seemed the only way for you. But then you contacted a good friend of yours who worked for an institute called the Cryonics Lab Inc. whose primary goal was to cryopreserve people who could not be sustained by medical standards at that time.’ When the man brought up his friend Martin who actually worked at this institution, Thomas became once again anxiously worried. He was negatively surprised that they knew actual facts about his life which added a professional aspect to those people’s misguided mad ideas and undertakings which severely concerned Thomas. If they actually had hurt his family, Thomas thought in a rush of desperate anger and worry. ‘Do you remember anything I am telling you, Thomas? Do you remember your friend working at Cryonics Lab Inc.? We don’t know the exact extent of the retrograde amnesia which results from cryopreservation.’ Thomas was very unsure how to respond, but he thought it was wisest to admit that he could remember his friend; otherwise they probably would have known that he was lying and not willing to cooperate, ‘Yes, I certainly do remember my friend.’ That was all Thomas contributed to this rather one-sided dialogue. ‘Do you remember anything else, such as your disease or the accident or anything related Thomas?’
At that point, Thomas’ self-disciplinary effort could not hold back the flood of raging emotional turmoil anymore and helplessly scattered. Thomas jumped up and ran to the door which seemed like the gateway to freedom and sanity, but the thought that the door was locked which Thomas’ hopeful spirit had pushed aside turned out to be painful reality. After Thomas had tried to compulsively open the obviously locked door with the lingering motivational remains of this sudden gush of hopeful energy, he pressed his back against the wall to be in a relatively secure position to defend himself against the potentially harmful measures of the man and woman in the room. But the man had only gotten up and was quietly standing there, exuding a sense of sincere understanding and cooperation even in these utmost parlous circumstances. ‘I know what is going on here’, exclaimed Thomas in a desperate voice, ‘I am an influential man who will be searched for everywhere. If you let me go now, we can arrange a compromise that will be better for us both!’ ‘Thomas,’ responded the man, ‘I can open that door for you, but it would be best for you and the people out there if you would sit down for a minute and listen to me. I can promise you no harm will happen to you.’ Sure, Thomas thought to himself, that was a very convincing assurance. ‘You are in the future. We were finally able to cure and resuscitate you. You have been frozen for…..’ All of a sudden, Thomas’ mind became too weak to defend itself against these arguments, to hold this fortress of sceptical disbelief against these vicious attacks of absurdity. And this mental weakness manifested itself in a complete loss of physical stamina, whereupon Thomas slowly sank down to the floor and starred at the man with an expression of confused emptiness.
The man slowly walked up to him and sat down next to Thomas on the floor. He softly touched Thomas on the shoulder and remained silent for a second before he said, ‘Thomas, I am here to help you get through this. It will be hard for you at first, but we live in a wonderful world that can make you happier than you ever wished for!’ Thomas did not even know anymore what to believe. These grossly utopian, preposterous statements of the man just resonated in Thomas’ head without resulting in any conscious evaluation or emotive response. ‘Do you want to see our world or would you rather listen to me first. It is going to be quite a revelation Thomas!’ Thomas almost rather just continued to listen since he felt so weak and empty as if someone had entirely shut off every single one of his energy circuits so that any movement, any action on his part seemed entirely impossible. But somehow a spark of incisiveness ignited Thomas’ will to act again. He had to see what was going on instead of slowly decaying in this suffocating room. The man seemed to sense Thomas’ revived eagerness to find clarity in this situation of profound confusion and stretched out his hand whose softness and muscularity had already fascinated Thomas earlier. Thomas instinctively grasped it without letting any conscious thoughts of sceptic disbelief interfere and got on his legs again. ‘I will help you Thomas to understand the world awaiting you behind this door!’
After the man had opened the door, Thomas’ consciousness instantly became a lively playground, a wild sparkling dance of intense sensations. An excessive abundance of sensory stimuli bombarded and overwhelmed each single sense organ, all of which had become quite rusty and blunt over the years spent in stern sensual confinement so typical for a member of the busy corporate world. His entire nervous system was rejuvenated, revived, invigorated to, what seemed to Thomas, the highest degree of vividness. The physical monument of matter and energy that lay ahead of Thomas in the form of a corridor was far more bizarrely beautiful and strangely delightful than even the most utopian scenarios Thomas had so picturesquely and thoroughly constructed with his mediocre mental faculty of imagination. Thomas had never had a visionary experience and he had never known what that term actually meant. But the present state of his mind somehow illuminated this hollow term, gave it experiental meaning though certainly not verbally definable. And for more than just a few seconds Thomas simply stood there, not staring holes in the air but letting each of his millions of sensory receptor cells enjoy a bacchanalian feast of lively cellular activity.
What was Thomas seeing there in front of him? Was it all an illusion caused by a potent psychoactive substance he had been unknowingly administered by these people? Or was it the absolute climax of lunacy, a secluded artificial utopia built and held in secret by an obviously powerful esoteric movement of madmen. Or was it…….but Thomas could not even think this scenario of being actually in the future through, a scenario so unlikely and frightening that he rather tried to convince himself that he either was under the influence of powerful drugs or in a prison of outrageous lunatic utopian progress. But although Thomas’ conscious mind was working exorbitantly hard to get rid of unbearable cognitive inconsistencies, he just could not keep the drug-scenario as an actual possibility. Just as one clearly knows if one is awake and not asleep, the absolutely clear coherence of his thoughts and memories as well as his intellectual lucidity were incompatible with a mental state of vivid drug-induced hallucinations, at least Thomas thought so. Thus, he had to accept the fact that what met his senses was actually sculpted of physical matter and energy. Even desperately holding on to the thought that the wondrous world laying ahead of him was only bizarre in a spatial but not in a temporal sense, that he was still in the year 2009 just at a dreadfully strange place, did not prevent Thomas from feeling a heave of crushing dizziness overcoming him. Thomas’ sense of balance faded and his knees again became weak as if someone had eaten away at them. But he was afraid to touch the walls of this utopian corridor to keep himself from falling.
Animals and plants that looked miraculously tropical were all over the place. The life-forms Thomas encountered here were more like the fauna and flora one was likely to find at the antipodes of one’s mind, only accessible through the most exalted forms of human imagination or the uncontrollable outlandishness of vivid dreams. Since Thomas’ lifestyle of barely manageable, mind-narrowing stress and immune-system abusing sleep-deprivation had barred Thomas from tasting either one, the creatures inhabiting this place were completely novel curiosities to Thomas. If he was not in a life-threatening situation that made his cerebral reducing valve work on all turbines to keep his consciousness in a fight-or-flight response state of survival, he could have, no he certainly would have, playfully indulged in this lavish garden of wonders like a child. However, the neural circuits in Thomas’ brain mediating a mental state of alert incisiveness were overtly active to cleanse Thomas’ mental landscape of any voluptuous eruptions of wholly gratifying enjoyment and amazement. The walls Thomas was still hypnotically starring at were made of luxurious materials whose shiny colourful jewel-like radiance truly had transporting power. This obviously highly diligently constructed material displayed outstandingly magnificent surface properties. It was of an aesthetic-artistic rather than a functional nature and seemed quite organic-dynamic. Various plant species entirely unknown to Thomas, who was of course not even familiar with the relatively unspectacular fauna and flora of the temperate zone, but had at least second-hand television-assisted exposure to some plant kingdom exotica, abundantly covered the walls. These plants lushly decorating the already spectacular walls were only structurally similar though not equal to conventional ivy-like twiners; however their coloration was grossly utopian, reminding Thomas of bioart a’ la Eduardo Kac. There were no GFP bunnies hopping around, at least Thomas’ overstrained eyes had not yet caught sight of one, but the vibrating colors of these plants were certainly not natural. Even Thomas, though a botanical illiterate, could say that with a feeling of utmost certainty. It was as if someone had forcefully spun a color sphere so fast that millions of color nuances had sprinkled all over the place, rendering it a remarkable laboratory for experimental color theory. Other-worldly, brilliant flowers blossomed, poking out of the thick colourful architecture of interlacing leave structures, like glowing marvels.
This floral outlandishness would have been sufficient enough to sensually and conceptually knock Thomas down as if he was a laughably weak mental light-weight. But the fairytale creatures of various stunning sizes, shapes and color-patterns including, according to Thomas taxonomical insights, insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians and various others kinds of biological but somehow unnatural entities more deeply and vividly stirred Thomas’ affective repertoire of wonder, confusion and amazement. They were seemingly harmoniously coexisting in what appeared to Thomas mind as a wholly wonderful, fantastically exotic place. However, only for an ephemeral moment were there these thoroughly gratifying feelings of complete acceptance, peaceful wonder and sensual majesty. Then the pressing, anxious urge to get out of this deceptively paradisiacal place cut through Thomas’ rosy-fluffy phenomenal realm like a merciless razor-blade. Thomas’ cognitive faculty was at least partially restored and so he thought what a fortune it had to have cost to build this place. It meant that these people had to be frighteningly influential and powerful.
When he reached that point in his very slow and erratic train of thoughts, he quickly looked at the man. He was standing right next to Thomas, still with this radiant expression of empathy on his face. ‘Thomas, do you want to meet Charlie? I designed him with what we refer here as scheidonian-heplocraidic diligence.’ Adam smiled clearly anticipating the confusion this term would invoke in Thomas, or rather the deepening of confusion it would cause. ‘Let’s just say I put a lot of diligence into designing this marvellous being! Charlie is even for our present standards an exceptional example of a so-called bugelian type of an ecstatic being.’ When the man made a very soft sound reminding Thomas of some sort of call for one’s pet, he heard light vibrations of flapping wings permeate the auditory already richly filled air. Before Thomas’ imagination could get started to envision a novel flying exoticum, something that was again so vastly beyond the most fabulous creature Thomas’ imaginative faculty could have possibly fashioned appeared in the distance, making its way straight towards the man. ‘Flying chimp’ was the best description Thomas could come up with using conventional vocabulary. But Thomas was anxiously aware that this was an euphemistic simplification of the plethora of other-worldly features of this creature which was getting rapidly closer to Thomas.
Although Thomas, being himself a passionate omnivore, was not one of those fanatical animal-lovers who had always seemed quite ludicrous to him, he could not help but being somehow exhilarated by the appearance of this animal. Nevertheless, his present state of mental instability and anxiety caused him to make a step back upon the quickly approaching, seemingly surreal being. But before it had reached the man, it landed and continued its approach in a chimp-like manner of four-legged propulsion. When it came close enough, it again left the floor with a graceful jump and softly landed in the arms of the man who tenderly caught it in a routine-like fashion. He treated it with such compassion and kindness that Thomas was painfully reminded of his family which he was so deeply concerned about. The man and the creature starred in each other’s eyes which worsened this soul-stirring empathic love Thomas all of a sudden felt for his family. This emotional state of empathetic worry was quite alien to Thomas’ consciousness. When had Thomas last just starred into the eyes of his wife or his son, just existed in the completely fulfilled emotional union with his beloved ones, enjoyed such a moment of soul-soothing, deeply gratifying peacefulness and sanity, a moment simply of completeness? If he could only see his family now, know that they were doing well or at least alive. The words of the man about what had happened to them ran like a cold shudder of emotional pain through his body, it was a paralyzing whole-body pain. And still there was this completely irrational feeling of joy about this scene of shared happiness between the man and that other creature. But Thomas managed to get rid of this feeling that seemed just grossly wrong to him at that moment. The man turned towards Thomas and the other-worldly being was looking now straight into Thomas’ eyes, seemingly penetrating their fearful aversion and evoking again a feeling of enjoyment in Thomas. ‘Catch,’ said the man in a jovial manner and before Thomas could put forth an objection to this, the animal jumped towards him. He reflexively opened his arms and soon had this surreal furry being sitting in his arms. Since Thomas had opened his eyes this morning, his mind had been confronted with an exponentially increasing degree of outlandishness; this situation, however, of an enchanted creature sitting in his hands and rubbing its face against Thomas neck was a quantum leap on the outlandishness scale. But despite all the adversity, all the uncertainty, all the grotesqueness of the situation, Thomas could not help but being emotionally stirred, kindly touched from within. He looked down at the being which in spite of its unnatural extravagance, looked so perfectly alive, so filled with joy and so glowing with cuteness. And at this moment, a subtle involuntary smile appeared on Thomas’ face which had been brutally crippled by a spastic look of anxiety and despair for all too long.
The man slowly approached Thomas and gently petted the living thing in Thomas’ arms whereupon it gave an auditory and facial expression of pleasurable exhilaration. ‘See Thomas, although what you see might be very novel to you, it really is more glorious than you can ever imagine. I am what you would call a historian, I know a lot about your times, the Darwinian Ages, and I can promise you already that what is awaiting you here is more magnificent than you could ever imagine!’ What was one supposed to think, to say, to do in such a situation? Thomas’ mind was so profoundly out of balance as if myriad of full-blown explosions had ripped his neural circuits apart, leaving behind a mental wasteland of stupor. They man gently grabbed the wondrously lovely being, looked into its eyes one more time with loving compassionate intensity and then put it down. ‘Thomas, let me show you around. There’s so much for you to see and explore.’ But I can not take anymore of this, I just need to lay down, lay down and sleep, Thomas thought to himself. Just falling asleep would be such an ambrosial relief at the moment, the only liberating remedy. If one could only turn a switch in one’s head and temporarily log out of one’s waking consciousness, leaving behind the heavy burden of emotional turmoil. But as Thomas was used from his brutally sleep-depriving job, even in this situation his mind did hold on to the troubling waking state.
When the man kindly put his hand on Thomas’ shoulder and started to slowly move forwards, Thomas mechanically followed him along with the adorable fury creature, reminding Thomas of a very loyal dog. They slowly walked through this fairyland where each new sight was so sensually intoxicating and overwhelming that Thomas’ consciousness continued to remain in a state of thought-anaesthesia. The corridor they walked through, and Thomas knew that the description ‘corridor’ was an almost ridiculously reductionistic verbal abstraction of this astounding, detail-overloaded architecture, was illuminated in an almost magical way since there was no visible source of light. Rather it was as if the sun brilliantly shone straight through the walls and shed light upon this creation of glory. Thomas became increasingly aware of more delicate details but he felt somehow confined by his not sufficiently fine-grained, rusty senses. In the back of his mind, he was aware of the fact that the extravagance of luxurious details he witnessed was only a minor, a grossly small fraction of the sensual richness on offer here. And for the first time, a subtle feeling of jealous disappointment unfolded upon Thomas’ affective landscape. Why was he doomed to work in a place that seemed to be the most soul-crippling, sense-blunting and emotion- flattening prison, doing nothing all day but evaluating numbers and meeting brutally self-centered, mercilessly profit-oriented shallow creatures who seemed to have lost touch with everything beautiful, while those people here obviously had created an artificial paradise that was the most soul-soothing, life-affirming place? But his self-defensive mind quickly put a stop to this depressing thought. Thomas reminded himself of the fact that he was dealing here with dangerous lunatics who had kidnapped him. But so what? If it wasn’t for his family, he could have as well just let go and completely indulged in this outrageous empire of lunatic but nevertheless deeply wonderful beauty.
Even if the people here in the end were up to something horrible, Thomas confidently considered the scenario in which those people here could actually hurt him sometime soon as highly improbable. He was almost convinced that their seemingly deep-rooted sense of compassion and niceness was authentic; they were only driven by a powerful mad urge for something different than normal life. And at that point, Thomas had to admit, though he couldn’t do that in a clear conscious manner in the midst of his mind but rather had to push that too revolutionary realization far back into the dark corners of his mental realm, that what he had seen so far was actually much more delicate and delightful than what was on offer in his daily environment. All of sudden, the intensity of illumination soared up and Thomas realized that they were obviously approaching a window. Here Thomas who had quite willingly kept the tempo of the man next to him markedly slowed down and then completely stopped for a moment. ‘Yes, Thomas, that’s a very good idea, take a deep breath and be excited about this view. I am myself deeply senso-markianized whenever I see this sight,’ the man’s face was lightened up by an expression of deeply-felt joy and said ‘I mean I am very exhilarated, we nowadays use a quite extended specific vocabulary to describe our feelings, I will explain all about that to you later. But no more talking…… come now and enjoy this marvellous view with me Thomas!’ What was awaiting Thomas behind these walls? Did the overwhelming, vivid, blooming gorgeousness of this place’ interior expand all the way into the fabric of matter and energy outside these walls. For one second, Thomas’ heart beat suddenly soared up, accompanied by a strong affection of wishful-euphoric expectation; an even greater, more expansive, more lavish playground for the senses, with ever-increasing soul-touching beauty. But as quickly and vigorously Thomas’ spirit had started to fly, as harshly it crashed into the abysmal depths of chilling fear. What would that mean, more of that other-worldly, incomprehensible, exotic stuff? And as Thomas moved outside these walls with his thoughts, outside this place of enthralling, luring, intoxicating appeal, his whole consciousness abruptly darkened and Thomas was back in a mental state of anxious alertness. But when Thomas finally had reached the window, he was mercifully freed again, at least for a few seconds, from the vicious claws of aversive emotions. The sheer intensity of sunrays bombarded Thomas’ retina and briskly cleansed his conscious landscape. Only the almost painful, pure bright light of the sun filled Thomas’ phenomenal realm, a salient moment of pure primordial perception. But the pure whiteness of sunlight gradually dissolved into visible patterns of recognizable forms and did not leave Thomas any time for restful sanity. The view that this opening in the walls offered Thomas radically changed something within him. While all the thrilling exotic entities Thomas had encountered up to this point had suffused his emotional realm with a luring fragrance of sensual delight, they had strongly anaesthetized the rational-conceptual part of Thomas’ mind. Up to this moment, when Thomas first glanced out of that window, he had been entirely unable to make any reasonable statement about what was happening to him; his mind had not even made an effort to enter a strenuous, incisive process of rational analysis, of making sense of the gorgeous grotesqueness surrounding Thomas. But when Thomas’ overtly overactive sensory system in delicately complex interaction with other cortical regions finally produced a phenomenal representation of the physical landscape laying ahead of Thomas, tear drops began to roll down his cheeks. With a rapturous, awe-struck whole-body feeling of frightening sublimety, Thomas realized that he actually was in the future.
Finally, they reached the desired destination where Thomas was supposed to find much clarification, an urgently needed relief from the emotional mayhem which he had been forcefully subjected to for the last hours, which he had experienced as an eternal journey taking him both to the realms of heaven and hell. Thomas had witnessed sights so beautiful, so paradisiacal-utopian, so far beyond anything his senses had the opportunity to taste in the 21st century that it almost had been a transporting spiritual revelation. The man, who Thomas by now knew to be David, a utopian equivalent of a 21st century history scholar, was still next to him.
Thomas had by now firmly accepted the appalling truth. He actually had been cryopreserved and was supposedly now the only living human being of the 21st century. This thought continued to vigorously shake the whole framework of his consciousness, as if the most powerful gong was played in the midst of his mind over and over again. But the strong propensity of the human mind to return after a while even in the face of severe adversity to a somewhat neutral bearable affective state enabled Thomas to walk through the hallways of grotesque utopian magnificence, which had completely paralyzed his very existence only a while ago, with an appearance of almost calm familiarity. But of course, to actually describe Thomas’ emotional state as anywhere close to tranquillity would be an almost cruel trivialization of the reality of his mental agony. The room Thomas entered now was a striking fusion of astounding technological triumph and natural aestheticism. Large plasma-like screens were enclosed by wild, organic, but other-worldly floral architecture.
Amidst this colourful jungle of flourishing vegetation, a man was sitting, apparently waiting for the two. David walked towards the other man, starred into his eyes with an expression of the most exalted and compassionate joy, then hugged him with such passionate affection that Thomas had to assume they hadn’t seen each other for years and were the absolute best friends. He sadly could not remember the last time had been so happily stirred by the sight of another human being. He had to confess that the only time another human being could truly ignite his affections was in the case of sexual attraction. But this feeling seemed not only poignantly coarse but also drastically weak in comparison to this outrageous outpouring of brotherly love he witnessed here. Was everyone here blissed-out on drugs? That seemed to be the only possible explanation for the unnaturally happy and empathic appearance of these people. But how could they possibly sustain such outstanding complexity, vastly surpassing the rational-analytical capabilities of Thomas’ mind, if they were all high on drugs?
‘Thomas, please meet my dear friend Adam! He is one of the pioneers of phenomenology-enhancement. He is a specialist in what we call eudian-emphatic state space expansion. Many people today enjoy much more wonderful degrees of eudian-empathy, especially with a richer, more magnificent texture of experience within this state-space thanks to him!’ Then a deeply satisfied smile appeared on his face and he continued, ‘I have myself just recently expanded my neuro-phenomenal eudian-emphatic infrastructure. It is truly breathtaking!’ ‘Yes, Yes my dear Dave, I am extremely glad as well about the rapid unfolding of this superb state-space, and I can say that we are only at the beginning of fabulous new developments!’ Those were Adam’s first words which Thomas could only grasp on a syntactic but not on a semantic level. To Thomas, Adam seemed to be rather some sort of contemplative Buddhist in his lotus-seat position and surrounded by lovely blooming flowers than a top-notch scientist.
‘I am extremely pleased to meet you Thomas! How do you like our world, at least what you have seen so far? I promise, you’ll like it much more as soon as I have introduced you to many of our new wonderful features.’ The man, who was marked by the same outlandish glowing radiance of health, beauty and joy, quickly but gracefully jumped up and came over to Thomas and gave him a big hug. This at first seemed quite inappropriate and brash to Thomas but soon it made him feel comfortable and welcome whereupon he answered the hug with an equally pronounced display of physical closeness. And Thomas had to admit that it felt actually good, this expressed physical friendliness. For a fleeting moment, it actually appeared to him as a strange and deeply lamentable aspect of the social conduct among people of the 21st century. He hadn’t hugged any of his friends in a long time. In fact, a more careful investigation of his episodic memory revealed to Thomas that only under the disinhibiting spell of alcohol intoxication had he been able to exhibit such a degree of close comforting physical approach. ‘Please Thomas, come and sit down here with us.’
David showed Thomas a place to sit down, which was only distantly related in its appearance to what Thomas considered a proper chair. It was a seating-accommodation whose gorgeous, sensually beguiling unorthodoxy was symptomatic of everything here. It was a primarily wooden construct that seemed to naturally grow out of the floor, like a tree that accidentally grew in the form of a seat. The actual place of seating was covered by an ambrosially soft surface of an unrecognizable material and encircled by rich, radiant flowers as well as various exotic plants that seemed to heave up the seat like a glorious throne. But visual splendour was only one astounding aspect of the full sensual richness of this place. Sounds of such soothing loveliness, among which Thomas could clearly discern bird songs and frog concertos reminding him of a tropical forest, as well as an overwhelming plethora of intense, intriguing, novel smells. Then Thomas was suddenly paralyzed by a sudden flash of sublime beauty. A small frog of such immense, brilliant, complex coloration was energetically hoping from on leave to the next. It was like a lively glowing jewel, the essence of visual magnificence distilled and presented in its purest, most penetrating form. ‘A wonderful creature, isn’t it Thomas! It is a slightly modified descendant of the members of the family Dendrobatidae, the poison dart frogs, which already where in their Darwinian state, visual delights. But this here is a sight of even greater glory, especially to our expanded and enriched sense of aesthetic appreciation. I will explain it to you in further detail, but Thomas you have to know that to us everything and especially sights like these are of such pleasurable, deeply satisfying beauty that it will be hard for you to even conceptually understand our wonderful phenomenal landscape. But trust me Thomas, it is very hard for us to understand your affective repertoire as well.’ A distinct expression of deep empathy lightened up the other man’s face when he pronounced the words ‘your affective repertoire’.
Thomas thought with a subtle feeling of melancholic jealousy that this statement was probably true. How could it be otherwise? While he had to spend at least 10 hours a day in a stressfully incisive state of sensual confinement, those people here lived in what could only be described as paradise, at least superficially. So Thomas was mournfully aware of the fact that those people here certainly had a much richer sense of beauty and probably a more satisfied life than he had ever lead. But on the other hand, it appeared to Thomas as a slightly relieving thought that those people obviously were under the spell of psychoactive substances; all they actually experienced was nothing but a fake, a self-deceptive form of well-being. This made Thomas feel a little bit better and self-satisfied. He definitely preferred a life of adversity and struggle, a life full of fear and pain to such a striking place of grotesque beauty. And all of a sudden, his mind broke through this veil of lovely, intoxicating ambrosia that had numbed his cognitive, his critical powers which now finally saw through this sugar-coated veneer straight to the heart of this world. It was an artificial, inhumane world that was superficially nice, even paradisiacal. But if one boiled it down to its very essence it was nothing but artificial insanity. This realization hit Thomas as a shocking truth that however was not that hard to grasp for him; he somehow could accept this fact without much accompanying emotional uproar. Many science-fiction scenarios had outlined a dreary, inhumane future in which humans were either enslaved by technology or destroyed by their own scientific ingenuity. But obviously Aldous Huxley had been the one who had drawn the most prophetic scenario. Humanity had turned itself into a shallow species of intellect-anaesthetized drug-addicts. And given the happy, self-satisfied and pacified tempers of these people, Huxley might haven even been right in this respect, namely that they were all high on something very similar to the one-dimensional cheap euphoriant soma. But at the same time Thomas realized that this comparison was quite faulty in some sense. The fictional characters in Huxley’s work were strongly Pavlovian-conditioned beings, almost like robots. At least so far, these people here appeared to Thomas as more genuinely friendly and insightfully considerate than most people he had met in the 21st century. ‘Please sit down Thomas,’ said David while he was himself letting his body slowly slide down into the luring softness of this peculiar seating accommodation. ’Oh, I have to say I love these seats so much. They are just opening up such a vast and rich comfort-a-plus state-space.’ He closed his eyes for a second and an expression of deeply-felt pleasure appeared on his face, an expression which almost reminded Thomas of sexual pleasure. ‘You have to experience this Thomas, fabulously superb,’ said Adam. Although Thomas felt highly alien at this place now after having had this profound realization, he did not feel fearful or anxious. He was convicted that those people were among the least harmless individuals he had ever met; they were just blissed-out junkies.
Since Thomas was in spite of this realization still in a state of subtle perplexity and disorientation, which he accepted as a relatively adequate emotional coloring of his consciousness given the fact that he was in the future among druggies, he just went along with the instructions given by those people. What else could he have done instead? So he sat down and although he felt estranged at first, he nevertheless could not deny that he was excited to tacitly test the visually signalled softness. And in fact, it was an excessively rewarding feeling that was however only felt for a few seconds after which the negative feedback mechanisms in Thomas’ brain made him get dully used to it, making quite rapidly the sensory stimuli which at first were so intriguingly fascinating uninterestingly trivial. ‘Alright Thomas, we would like to introduce you to a fabulous technology device which enables experiences in immersive virtual reality. Please don’t be afraid Thomas. I want to explain many features of our civilization to you and this can be done just splendidly within the realms of virtual reality.’ And although Thomas felt again uncomfortable and anxious, he told himself that he was unnecessarily overreacting. So he tried relax again and went with the flow of things. ‘Now Thomas, all you have to do is to just relax and in a few seconds you will be together with us immersed in the stimulating, grandiose spheres of virtual reality. Everything will be self-explicatory from then on,’ said David who gave Thomas a last compassionate smile and then laid back in his wondrous tree-like seat. Thomas’ heart beat drastically went up and he felt quite excited in a strange manner. He didn’t know if he should actually look forward to this outlandish experience or consider it as a frightening climax of insanity he didn’t wish to be a witness of. But before he could further ponder on these superfluous questions, he suddenly exited his waking consciousness.
When Thomas opened his eyes again, he had absolutely no idea for how long he had been unconscious, or at least not in his waking state of consciousness. However, it felt as if he had not been gone for more than a second. He somehow regretted the short duration of this pleasant vacation from the strenuous demands that were constantly being placed on his frail emotional endurance. Where was he now? He looked around and saw David and Adam standing next to him in a new, even more strikingly colourful and radiant attire than before and in a state of motivated exaltation. But what had happened to the surroundings? And for a second, he felt a breeze of insanity blowing through his mind. What he was witnessing now certainly closely resembled the vastly outlandish, bizarre realms of psychedelia. There were no concrete, familiar objects, but only forms and patterns of all possible facets of colors. Some of them were static, while others were dynamic, constantly changing jewel-like color-transformations. And Thomas was part of in this pinnacle of fantastic grotesqueness. ‘What do you say Thomas. We had to slightly adapt the program to your neural circuitry, but I hope it is still quite stimulating.’ David walked up to Thomas and put his hand on his shoulder. ‘See you can talk to me and even touch me. We have just exchanged the source of neuronal stimulation. There are still many new better developments ahead in the field of immersive virtual reality but this is already astoundingly great.’ An expression of pure exaltation appeared on Adam’s face and Thomas again wished that he could only for one moment feel this way, a moment of liberating, clean, pure euphoria. Maybe he should try one of their drugs, at least once. He would not be a social misfit and an actual outlaw if he tried a psychotropic substance here. Maybe he should just do, just try it and feel like they do for one moment.
‘Thomas, I will now introduce you to the most fundamental features of our civilization. For you to understand us, you will need however to understand some facts about the human brain. Thomas, please tell me, what do you know about the brain?’ What a perfectly ridiculous question, Thomas thought. Although Thomas did consider himself a man of sophistication, he concerned himself more with the vast intricacies of the market and the global political situation than with the human brain. It seemed to him much more fruitful and manageable to try to reveal the inner workings of an economic system than the unmanageable complexities of the human brain. In his opinion, one could never find out everything about the human physiology in general; it was just too immense to actually understand. And what was the point of it anyways? ‘I am honest with you, I don’t know much about the human brain. I mean I know there are billions of nerve cells and they all work together. But that’s basically it!’ Thomas felt a little bit embarrassed since he had to openly admit that he didn’t know much, which was quite unusual for him. But his mental self-defences quickly kicked in and Thomas immediately soothed his bruised ego by convincing himself that knowledge about the human brain was not that important; after all he wasn’t a medical doctor. ‘Alright Thomas,’ said Adam cordially, ‘I will try to explain to you as much as possible. But please, you always have to remind me when something is unclear to you.’
All of a sudden, a gigantic three-dimensional construct which seemed like a colossal utopian machine magically appeared in front of them as if beamed there. Thomas was frightened, he couldn’t deny that. But only for a moment, then he was actually intrigued by the visually spectacular object in front of him. However, he still hadn’t completely grasped what was truly happening here. His mind had not yet processed the torrent of the billions of bits of information constantly flooding his cerebral cortex. Thomas had not fully understood yet that he was actually immersed in the realms of virtual reality. ‘This, Thomas, is a very elaborate, animated and vastly magnified abstraction of a nerve cell. Although there are many different types with various sizes, shapes and functions, it is for expository convenience, I think, very helpful to depict it in this standardized form. Come with me.’
They walked closer and Thomas could see what apparently were the myriads of labyrinthian cellular and molecular processes going on within this neuron.‘Here we have the soma, the cell-body, Thomas.’ All of a sudden the central part of the neuron, with a somewhat globular shape started to marvellously glow. Thomas was perplexed and amazed; the man seemed to be able through his mere thoughts to modify this object. This realization went through his whole body like feral lightening, electrifying every single cell. Thomas had thought that his mind had finally reached a state of acceptance and resilience. He had witnessed the very essence of strangeness in so many flavours. But this here was again such a novel flavour of bizarreness that it heavily disturbed his mental frame. But he was lucky in a certain sense. Since he was so convinced of the drug-assisted friendliness of these people, his emotional repertoire of fear and anxiety was only mildly activated and he was spared a nightmarish freak-out, at least for now. ‘Within the soma you’ll find myriad different cell structures also referred to as organelles. Here you can see the Golgi apparatus, the rough endoplasmatic reticulum, polysomes, lysosomes, mitochondria and in the centre the nucleus, which includes the cell’s genome. Within the cell nucleus resides all the hereditary information of an organism in the form of the long double-stranded DNA molecule.’ Adam’s speech was accompanied by a vivid visual display of the various verbally mentioned features. Within the centre of the cell a spherical object, the cell-nucleus, began to radiate and a double-stranded helix was magnified which Thomas recognized to be the DNA. ‘Every biological organism is dependent on its genome. It encodes the instructions for how to build an organism. The genetic information an individual carries in each cell of his body together with the stimuli an individual constantly encounters in his external and internal environment shape a biological organism into its actual form of physical and phenomenal existence. You and I and all other biological entities, we are all based on our genome. And Thomas, you will understand it later much better, but for now I can tell you that the vast, fundamental differences between the genomes of all biological entities existing today in the Euphenomenological Age and those having existed in the Darwinian Ages are what makes our civilization so essentially sublimely wonderful.’
The man paused for a second and went up to Thomas, who just stood there mildly perplexed, and looked him straight into the eyes as if he wanted to stare right into the very heart of Thomas’ existence. ‘Thomas, we have made it, we have abolished suffering for every sentient being. I know that some people in the Darwinian Ages had glimpsed into the tantalising spheres of pure emphatic-euphoric well-being, but Thomas,’ and here the man paused and tears appeared in his eyes, tears that indicated such an overwhelming rapturous overjoyed sensation of wholesome, pristine emotional well-being which Thomas had only witnessed during the birth of his children. ‘But Thomas,’ started the man again ‘sentience on earth has finally been lifted out of the shadows of physical and emotional pain into the glorious, heavenly spheres of bliss, forever. We have achieved what one of the most brilliant and prophetic man in the history of the Darwinian Ages, David Pearce, has already proposed!’
Thomas was simultaneously emotionally stirred and appalled to the utmost extent. Thomas was fascinated by that man; he was of such a beautiful and refined physical appearance and seemed to be suffused by the most genuine form of happiness and empathy. But at the same time Thomas was convinced that this man was helplessly blissed-out on drugs, that he was not really himself, not the true Adam; and the things this man was talking about vastly surpassed Thomas’ conceptual framework and appeared to him as highly lunatic. ‘I just hope Thomas that soon you will understand the sublime extent of our achievements!’ Adam made a step back from Thomas but continued to look at him with an expression of almost ecstatic friendliness. ‘Let us continue our journey through the magnificent complexities of the nervous system. Only then can you understand what is actually going here.’
Thomas was highly relieved that the man returned to a less emotionally demanding subject, where his mind could fall into a state of at least affective tranquillity. ‘The soma one could say, Thomas, is the centre of the nerve cell though this is of course a simplification. I will explain to you everything in a simplified way. It would take you years to deeply understand the intricate workings of the nervous system. So I will keep my explanations to the essential minimum, which will help you understand our civilization much better.’ He looked at Thomas in a patient, sympathetic way and then continued his educational soliloquy. ‘On the one side of the soma, you’ll find the dendritic tree.’ Thomas thought that this actually was an apt description, when the branch-like structures growing out of the cell-body lighted up. ‘And on the other side you can see the so-called axon or nerve fiber.’ Although for Thomas all those facts were so perfectly unimportant and trivial in comparison to the startling weirdness of the immediate surroundings; nevertheless he continued to listen or at least gave the impression of being a patient listener since he clearly preferred a monologue of the other man to having to engage in an exhausting dialogue.
‘Each nerve cell is electrically excitable. In the case of the neuron, this means that there is a flux of ions, positively or negatively charged particles, in and out of the nerve cell. However, this happens only along the axon. The signal starts at the so-called axon-hillock and travels all the way down to the axon terminal.’ Suddenly, the massive cell-model in front of him became a lively factory of thousands of molecular processes, and Thomas saw vivid animations of electrical impulses originating at the starting point of the axon and resulting in the release of multitudinous chemicals at the end of it. The various neurons were placed in certain arrangements so that the axon terminal of one neuron communicated with the dendrites of another neuron. ‘So Thomas, now we see a little neural circuitry. In general, when an electrical signal travelling down the axon reaches the axon terminal, a great number of chemicals, which are called neurotransmitters, are released into the so-called synaptic cleft; this is the tiny space between two communicating neurons. The pre-synaptically released neurotransmitters diffuse across the synaptic cleft and subsequently bind to specific molecular arrangements, the post-synaptic receptors, which lie on the dendrites of the neuron that comes next in the information chain. This works like a key-lock system, only neurotransmitters with the appropriate shape can fit into certain receptors. Watch it for a second, Thomas!’ And although all this neurobabble had not truly ignited Thomas’ sense of wonder and curiosity, watching this highly byzantine apparatus of thousands of small but unimaginable daedal molecular processes actually put Thomas’ consciousness, for a transitory moment, back into a state of sparkling child-like fascination. He was blown away, awestruck; a powerful sensual firework was going off in his mind. Adam who could clearly see the sheer amazement in Thomas’ eyes said, ‘I am glad you are exalted by this, Thomas. But you will see, it gets even more fascinating and complicated than that.’
The man considerately paused here to let Thomas indulge in this sensual amusement park; then he devotedly continued to offer Thomas a view into the strangely wonderful world of neurochemical processes. ‘When a neurotransmitter has reached and bound to its target-receptor, like a key that fits into a lock, there are many different responses it can cause. All in all, one can say that this neurotransmitter-receptor binding causes a change in the structure and function of the post-synaptic neuron. Once a neurotransmitter has bound to its appropriate receptor it activates other molecules in the cell which in a cascade-like fashion activate more and more molecules within the cell. The end result is that the expression of the neuron’s genome is altered. So this neurotransmitter-receptor binding causes a change of gene expression which can profoundly alter the biochemical machinery, the very essence, of the post-synaptic nerve cell.’ Again, this lecture-style expository of the workings of a neuron left Thomas unaffected, although he actually could follow what the man was saying very well despite his mental and physical fatigue. Besides, a rapidly intensifying feeling of hunger started to dominate all of Thomas’ other thoughts and emotions. But he was to some extent afraid of asking for something to eat. What would they offer him? It probably would be something so other-worldly uncanny that the subsequently induced feeling of estrangement would subdue any desire to eat. But Thomas had to eat at some point or didn’t he? The beginning of this train of thought, of what would happen if he just did not eat, nastily threw Thomas back into a state of disturbing emotional agony. Thomas was just too feeble and confused at the moment to deal with existential questions. After all, in spite of the unimaginable adversity of the circumstances he found himself in, a powerful will to survive nevertheless suffused every moment of Thomas’ waking consciousness. So he knew that eventually he had to eat in spite of the unwelcome prospect of increasing estrangement; but at the moment the emotional turmoil Thomas expected to go along with the satisfaction of his desire to eat seemed too high a price to pay. So he continued to listen and stare, with his last rapidly dwindling mental resources.
‘But the neurotransmitter-receptor binding does not only cause a change in gene expression. It also leads to the emergence of an electric signal in the post-synaptic neuron or to the suppression of one. Some neurotransmitters play an excitatory whereas others an inhibitory role.’ He smiled and looked at Thomas in an understanding manner as if he knew that the complex workings of the brain were the last thing Thomas really wanted to concern himself with at the moment. But Thomas at the back of his mind somehow trusted Adam’s promise that all this would eventually shed clarifying light on the incomprehensible grotesqueness of this utopian world. ‘Now Thomas, the remarkable thing about a nervous system is that the complex flows of matter and energy throughout it, in the form of neurotransmitter-receptor binding, genome-genome interactions between neurons, the firing of electrical signals and various other molecular mechanisms lead to the emergence of a experiental phenomenal space in which conscious experience can take place such as your consciousness.
Thomas, your experiental space can have certain properties or qualia. For example, colors such as redness or greenness are qualia. They don’t exist in the external physical world as matter and energy. A rose is not itself red as a physical object. Its surface absorbs and reflects certain frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. But they are not red. They are just patterns of matter and energy. However, in your mind redness exists as a phenomenal property which can not be defined in terms of matter and energy. You can not define redness itself by referring to certain wave-lengths of electromagnetic radiation. For example, if one would change the sensory-receptors in your eye, it could be accomplished that the same wave-length of light which formerly caused redness in your mind now causes blueness. The wave-lengths themselves are neither red nor blue, but you experience them as either red or blue; they are qualia in your mind. You can only say what they are like. Thus, the texture of your experiental space is also referred to as the ‘what-it’s-likeness’. The conscious experience of redness is a metaphysical phenomenon, a phenomenal property of your experiental space. Now, all other colors are qualia in the same way.
But what is much more important is the fact that feelings such as joy and pain are also qualia. They can’t be described in terms of matter and energy. They are purely phenomenal, but nevertheless real since you clearly feel them. Now Thomas, although qualia themselves can’t be described in terms of matter and energy, they nevertheless don’t just appear out of nowhere, independent of matter and energy. Instead, phenomenological entities emerge out of certain patterns of matter and energy in an isomorphic manner, meaning that out of a certain matter and energy pattern a corresponding phenomenal property arises. We have learned a lot since the beginning of the 21st century about how patterns of matter and energy and phenomenal entities are correlated. And that is the fundamentally important, the wonderful part as you will soon learn An expression of glowing exaltation and compassionate hope, hope that Thomas would soon understand this sublime significance too, appeared on Adam’s face. ‘Thomas, I have to highlight that again, although the phenomenological entities in your mind, such as redness or pain, can’t be described in terms of matter and energy they are essentially dependent on them. Every phenomenological property of your mind can be precisely matched with a certain specific pattern of energy and matter within your physical brain. This means, no single property exists within your mind’s phenomenology that cannot be matched to a specific matter and energy blueprint, namely neural activity, localized in your brain. A phenomenological entity doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. I know you are familiar with a personal computer. Just think as an analogy of your experiental space as the interface between the computer and you, that which appears on a computer screen. Each item on there is fundamentally different from the bustling activity of electrical circuits going on within the hardware of the computer. However, you will not find any items on your computer screen that are not encoded by electrical patterns within your computers’ hardware. The interface of your computer is not identical to its hardware, but nevertheless each item on a computers’ screen can be precisely matched to a certain arrangement of energy and matter within its hardware. I admit that it is in some sense an imperfect analogy, but I think it at least hints at where I want to guide you.’ He paused here for a second and again looked Thomas straight into the eyes as if he was so eager to communicate in the most direct but also sympathetic way possible. ‘Thomas, every entity in your consciousness has a neural substrate, a blueprint of matter and energy. Every affect you have every felt, every moment of joy and every moment of despair, every sensory item that has inhabited your phenomenal landscape, had a well-defined neural signature. Just consider where we are right now. We find ourselves immersed in the wonderful world of virtual reality. The qualia in your experiental space right now are probably unfamiliar to you, nevertheless they somehow resemble familiar phenomenal elements. Although the colors you see are vastly more brilliant than those encountered in the physical world, they are nonetheless colors. So you see redness over there,’ and the man pointed to a random location where all of a sudden a lovely glowing patch of redness appeared that reminded Thomas of the vivid coloration of a red rose. ‘But see Thomas this redness doesn’t stem from electromagnetic radiation bombarding your retinal sensory receptors. Rather it is caused by our intricate virtual reality technology devices that produce a neural pattern in the brain equivalent or at least very similar to that produced by the stimulation of your light-sensitive cells on the retina. Again, this phenomenal property in your mind redness doesn’t just appear out of nowhere, but emerges out of a neural pattern, induced by virtual reality devices. Nevertheless this redness here is as real as the redness you normally find in your mind. It is a phenomenal entity that does exist since you experience it. What causes the neural pattern underlying it, either physical objects or a virtual reality device, doesn’t influence its ontological status. You experience it, thus it is real.’
All this was far too much for Thomas to actually comprehend. What about love, true passionate love? What about the horridness of emotional agony? What about all those emotions and thoughts that make up a human being? What about the self? What about the soul? Thomas was reluctant to believe that he was nothing more than a pattern of molecular processes, nothing more than matter and energy. ‘But I don’t think I am just matter and energy,’ exclaimed Thomas almost indignantly. ‘That’s exactly the point I want to make Thomas. You are not just matter and energy. You exist on a phenomenal level which is essentially not physical. A feeling of happiness is not the neural substrates encoding it per se. The neural signature of happiness per se is physical and doesn’t have intrinsic value, but your feeling of happiness is a phenomenal property and is indeed intrinsically valuable. Nevertheless your phenomenal ontological status is isomorphically related to your physical ontological status! If you remove the physical basis, you lose the phenomenal property. However, everything else people believe in,’ continued Adam, ‘such as the soul, which is not part of the mind’s phenomenology are of course not necessarily based on neurochemistry, we just have to be agnostic about these concepts. But that is beside the point Thomas. I don’t claim that anyone living in our civilization today has a better soul than anyone who lived in the Darwinian Ages. But I guarantee you, Thomas,’ and here Adam’s face again began to radiate the most pristine form of compassionate exaltation as if brilliantly glowing from deep within ‘that we have made every sentient being’s phenomenology unimaginablely sublime. And I can promise you that we have sublimety also waiting for you!’
At this point a cold shiver of fear acutely undulated Thomas’ relatively tranquil mind. Would they force him to take drugs too, to make him helplessly blissed-out, Thomas thought anxiously. ‘We are getting very close Thomas, to the actual revelation, the crux, the very essence of our Post-Darwinian Euphenomenlogical Age.’ Thomas was slightly confused, to put it euphemistically, about the usage of the terms ‘Euphenomenological’ and ‘Darwinian’ he had already heard so many times from Adam and David. Thomas of course knew about Darwin, a lack of knowledge in this regard would have certainly devastated Thomas’ self-respect in a gruesome manner. But it evaded his cognitive abilities to draw a connection between Darwin and what he heard so far. Did the man try to say, evolution had produced this society? That they were not the slaves of drugs but naturally blissed-out? This thought produced a rush of subtle euphoria; for a moment Thomas thought that he had arrived in a natural, an authentic form of paradise, where everyone was naturally happy and nice. He didn’t know much about evolution, but he kept this vigorously exalting thought in his mind as long as it could withstand the vicious claws of empirical evidence to the contrary. But the growing potency of this pressing feeling of hunger subdued the emotional pleasantness of this euphoric hypothesis. He soon had to ask; the neocortically envisioned unpleasantness of asking for food would soon appear dwindingly weak in comparison to the powerful mesocorticolimbically arising instinctual drive for food. But at the moment he still hoped that either Adam or David would bring this topic up, in which case Thomas would gratefully surrender to his desire.
By the way, Thomas thought, where was David and what was he doing? He looked around in this spatially seemingly unlimited virtual realm and was shockingly perplexed when he saw David just floating around in an ambrosial soft cloud of brightly shining millions of spectacular color nuances with an expression of pure bliss, right next to the visually extravagant, colossal animation of a neural network. This seemed fantastically alien to Thomas; nevertheless the fact that David truly was on the proverbial ‘cloud-nine’ crossed Thomas as a humorous, subtly delightful thought. This just can’t be real! This phrase began to resonate in Thomas’ mind almost like a cognitive theme melody. ‘Are you hungry Thomas? Please tell me whenever you are hungry. I would be delighted to introduce you to some of our gourmet specialities!’ Gong! Here it was, the ultimate juxtaposition of a bane and a boon. ‘Usually Thomas, we have sophisticated surveillance, maintenance and protection, so called SMPs, to control all physiological states of our body while immersed in virtual reality. This fabulously sophisticated design enables us to indulge in these wondrous spheres without having to eat or be concerned with any other bodily necessities. They are taken care of by these SMPs in a very effective and user-friendly way. For example, very detailed blood profiles of available amíno acids, fatty acids, carbohydrates as well as vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are created and appropriately modified to meet the recommended genotype-specific standards for each individual’s optimal physical and mental health. But some precautions and elaborate procedures would have had to be performed on you before that could be done for your body too. We wanted to spare you these probably unpleasant steps, at least for now until you can decide for yourself! So please just tell me, Thomas whenever you feel any bodily necessities such as eating.’ He smiled at Thomas and patiently waited for some informative response on Thomas’ side.
Thomas was just confused; he would have loved to just say ‘Yes, I am starving,’ but the present circumstances didn’t facilitate at all his usual decisiveness which made him the successful business person that he was. Rather any sense of resolution was heavily subdued by the other-worldly novelty of the situation. Se he remained confusedly silent in spite of the almost unbearable desire to eat. ‘Alright Thomas, I will continue to introduce you to the wonderful but hard-to-grasp essence of our Euphenomenological Age. Let me introduce you to the neuro-phenomenological architecture of affective consciousness! I am sure this sounds like a daunting subject for you Thomas, but it is much more wonderful and fundamental than it is daunting.’ Alright, thought Thomas to himself, should I really continue to listen or just zone-out? But Thomas clearly felt a motivational pull towards clarity and understanding. Right now he was unpleasantly suspended in a state of suffocating confusion. Maybe he should put his last dwindling mental resources together and continue to make an effort to comprehend what Adam was about to say.
‘First, it is very important for you to understand the logic behind evolution!’ Thomas felt a stingy feeling of embarrassment. He sort of knew, or at least believed to know the logic behind evolution, but he felt like back in his college years, when a teacher had asked a relatively easy question and Thomas being paralyzingly afraid of embarrassment wouldn’t raise his arm to answer it although in his mind the obvious answer was energetically swirling around, desperately pushing to be released. Thomas also remained silent in this case, although he acknowledge that it was silly since the sympathy and compassion of these people here was entirely incomparable to the vicious schadenfreude of competitive university students who just couldn’t wait for someone to say something ridiculously inappropriate. Adam was considerate and sensitive enough to realize what was going on in Thomas’ head and thus said ‘Well, to make sure you know exactly what I am talking about, I will lay out the crude logic of evolution for you. In honor of the brilliant scientist who first saw through the beautiful veil of nature to its cold-hearted logic, Charles Darwin, I will refer to evolution as Darwinian evolution to contrast it with the sublime form of evolution at work now. Well, Darwinian evolution was nothing more than a process of competition among self-replicating biological entities, namely genes. A gene could mutate over time to a new version. Those new genes that could replicate faster would spread and dominate. Now a new version of a gene could replicate itself faster if the carrier of that particular gene could produce more offspring than the carrier of the older version. Although this is a crude simplification of the complexity of evolution, that is the fundamental logic behind it. Every organism is built in such a way as to maximize his inclusive fitness, which is his ability to ensure the propagation of his genes.
Now, to understand the neuro-phenomenological basis for affective experience, I have to introduce you further to some neurochemical as well as phenomenal concepts. While one can generally say that out of complex neural electrochemical dynamics an experiental space can emerge, specific neural patterns can open sub-spaces and texture these spaces with various qualia. At some point in evolution, a properly functioning central nervous system had evolved. The neural dynamics of a central nervous system, more precisely, the electrochemical field dynamics, enabled the emergence of a unitary experiental manifold with phenomenal properties. At first, a so-called primary experiential space, or you might as well call it consciousness, evolved that opened up two distinct experiental sub-spaces, namely a perceptual and an affective experiental space. These spaces were textured by raw perceptions such as motion, color, shape, etc. and feelings such as pain and pleasure. Why did that happen? Well, the perceptual experiental sub-space was selected for by evolution since it enabled an organism to perceive and orient in the environment. The affective experiental sub-space, in contrast, enabled an organism to feel the biological value of various stimuli.
This is an exceedingly important point here, Thomas, which you should spend all your cognitive resources on to truly understand it. The evolution of an affective experiential space is what in the Darwinian Ages negative utilitarians had viewed as the great bane and classical utilitarians as the great boon of evolution. And in our age we view as the sublime gift of evolution. Why was it at the same time a bane and a boon? Well, Thomas, evolution had coupled functionality with phenomenology.’ Here Adam paused as to place special significance to what he just had said, but only for a second or so after which he fervently continued his revelatory soliloquy ‘What do I mean by that? Let me give you a concrete example. An environmental stimulus that damages an organism’s tissue is a potential threat to the propagation of the organism’s genes. So if a new version of a gene arises which codes for neural substrates that predispose the organism to avoid this noxious stimulus, then this new version of the gene will outcompete its old version since the organism is now more likely to avoid noxious stimuli and thus to produce more offspring. But at what costs! In the course of evolution neural substrates arose that not only functionally in the form of simple reflexive behavioural reactions made an organism avoid noxious stimuli but also consciously via phenomenal intrinsically disvaluable qualia such as pain. By creating a feeling of painful aversion, the organism actually felt the biological disvalue of a noxious stimulus in the form of phenomenal disvalue. In this fashion phenomenal unpleasantness came into existence. This is why negative utilitarians viewed the emergence of an affective experiental space as the great bane of evolution. Had a sufficiently complex nervous system never evolved, there would have never been one single intrinsically disvaluable, unpleasant experience on earth. But in the same manner phenomenal pleasantness did evolve, namely when it was advantageous for the propagation an organism’s genes if that organism could feel the biological value of a stimulus via a phenomenal intrinsically valuable quality such as pleasure. This is how phenomenal pleasantness evolved. Now you might understand why classical utilitarians viewed the emergence of an affective consciousness as the great boon of evolution. If those neural dynamics out of which an affective experiental space emerges had never evolved, there would have never been a single positive feeling in the world.
A world full of organisms with the ability to perceive and think but without the ability to feel is as intrinsically valueless as a world full of zombies!’ Adam looked at Thomas and said with special emphasis, ‘Imagine you could see a beautiful girl. Without an affective experiental space you couldn’t value her at all. No sexual attraction, no arousal, no lust, no love. Only a beautiful girl in your mind! Wouldn’t that be valueless if you can’t feel anything? Imagine you have the most complex philosophical or mathematical revelation, but you can feel nothing, no joy, no appreciation, no significance, just nothing! Wouldn’t such a revelation be intrinsically valueless if no one could ever appreciate it, feel the significance it has? And that’s why we today view the evolution of an affective consciousness as the sublime gift of evolution. Without it the wonderful euphenomenology of our minds could have never become reality. But back in the Darwinian Ages, the coupling of phenomenology with functionality truly was a bane and a boon since it ensured that an organism both was endowed with the capacity for phenomenal pleasantness but also for phenomenal unpleasantness!’
At this point in his speech, a passionate feeling of empathy seemed to magically permeate Adam’s whole existence. Thomas could gradually understand the significance of Adam’s utterances. He realized that existence truly wouldn’t be worthwhile if one couldn’t feel. Just sensation without an accompanying feeling of value was so utterly pointless. So yes Thomas considered the evolution of an ‘affective experiental space’, a terminology that still sounded quite bizarre to him, was truly a blessing. But of course, Adam was right that it sometimes was also a terrible bane!
‘In the course of evolution, the central nervous system became increasingly complex and eventually what might be termed a cognitive experiential space began to emerge. But all sub-spaces, including perceptual, affective and cognitive were unified in one single experiental space; they were highly intertwined and couldn’t be easily distinguished phenomenally even upon careful introspection. However, it is important see that every perceptual and cognitive qualia needed to be combined with an affective qualia to have any significance at all. These perceptual and cognitive qualia so-to-say needed an affective gloss. You will later see Thomas that this is why every moment of our existence is a wonderful sensual and intellectual orgy; not because every perception or thought we have is so intrinsically wonderful, but because their affective coloring is outstandingly sublime.
These experiental sub-spaces are not only phenomenally highly intertwined but also neuro-anatomically. This neuroanatomical interconnection between various experiental sub-space neural substrates is highly complex and requires deep understanding of neuroscience. However, I can reveal to you one example to highlight this, namely the dopamine innervation of the neocortex. While dopamine is a neurotransmitter which is generally speaking involved in sub-neocortical neural systems mediating feelings in the broad category motivation, the neocortex is a very recent neural structure of the brain that is responsible for the outstanding cognitive abilities of human beings. So while dopaminergic neural dynamics are responsible for texturing the affective experiental sub-space, the neural dynamics within the neocortex are responsible for the emergence of cognitive qualia. Now the dopaminergic innervation of the neocortex results phenomenally in the already mentioned affective coloring of thoughts. This is of course a gross simplification but trust me you don’t want to know right now the actual even for our cognitive capacities overwhelming complexities that are actually going on there. I think you can now see that the human experiental space is textured perceptually, affectively and cognitively and that these textures are intertwined.
It is, however, crucial to understand a little more clearly how they are phenomenally interwoven. So again, there are sub-neocortical neural systems out of which an affective consciousness arises, and neocortical neural structures that are responsible for thoughts. Now both influence each other, but how can you describe this phenomenally? To make it simple, the neocortical influence on the affective consciousness can be described as a modification and rationalization capacity of feelings. You can cognitively access and manipulate raw feelings such as pain and pleasure. Thomas, you can cognitively access and slightly modify raw feelings, but the raw feelings nevertheless remain actual feelings, qualia of your experiental manifold. When you feel pain for example, you can rationalize this feeling and just say you don’t mind it. But that means you still feel the pain, maybe a little less phenomenally unpleasant, but it still is there! When someone would grossly torture you, you would still feel the abysmal depths of phenomenal horror, despite any adaptive neocortical modifications and rationalizations. Your neocortex is utterly powerless over the affective texture of your mind! However, the case of influence in the opposite direction is quite different. Evolution ensured that affective states had a dominant influence over one’s thoughts. This is the reason for mood-thought congruence. When your body needs food which you phenomenally experience as hunger, your thoughts start to be centred around this topic. What are you going to eat, how will the food taste and so forth are thoughts induced by an affective state of hunger. That is extremely important to keep in mind Thomas for you to understand the crux of our civilization.
Since in humans the affective and cognitive experiental sub-spaces are interlinked, there is a vast array of fine-grained textural nuances of affective qualia. You probably know all of them, Thomas. Whenever you have feelings of euphoria, amazement, wonder, cheerfulness or simply pleasure, this means your affective experiental space is textured positively. And since you were born during the Darwinian Ages,’ and here Adam paused and looked at Thomas with an expression of outstanding compassionate empathy, ‘in which negative qualia still were nasty properties of any sentient beings’ phenomenal consciousness, you probably know them very well. Anxiety, fear, angst, pain, depression, all these are negative, nasty, gruesome feelings.’ And as soon as Adam had mentioned those feelings, Thomas was reminded of his own, sometimes terrible and nasty phenomenology. He was himself sometimes overcome by sickening feelings of depression, existential-angst or sadness and of course unbearable physical pain. And Thomas thought it impossible that all this nastiness could have really been overcome. It was sadly impossible! What a grotesquely utopian idea, Thomas thought to himself. Life wouldn’t function without at least some forms of suffering! But some forms of phenomenological nastiness were just so unnecessary and unfair such as the suffering of people in the third-world or that of terminally-ill people and their families who had to witness the soul-gnawing horridness of slow, wicked decay of the body and the mind.
‘Well Thomas, let’s more carefully examine the evolutionary roots of human beings, Homo sapiens sapiens. We know that human beings evolved on the African Savannah, starting more than 2 million years before you were born, Thomas. And here comes the inconvenient truth about human evolution. As I have already revealed to you, every organism evolved through the propagation of genes. Roughly speaking, those genes that made an organism better at producing more offspring were the winners. Now, if one considers the environmental circumstances under which human beings evolved and which genes were of advantage there, this leads to a tragic conclusion about human nature, especially about the neuro-phenomenological fabric of emotions! Thomas, there was scarcity of sexual partners, scarcity of food, abundance of aversive stimuli such as predation and climatic factors, complex social interactions and much more features that were potential steppingstones for gene propagation.
Imagine what kinds of behavioural effects would have allowed genetic elements to leave more copies of themselves over time. Let’s assume the offspring of a human being had a new genetic variant of a gene that predisposed his hands to be very delicate, perfectly to play a lovely Mozart sonate. Do you think the carrier of this new version would have had a greater chance to produce more offspring and thus more copies of this delicate-hand gene would have been left in the human population evolving on the planes of the African Savannah? The answer seems to be straightforwardly no! Now Thomas, here we come even closer to the problem of the human condition. The human brain is as much dependent on genes as the hands of an individual. The neurochemistry of the brain is shaped of course by environmental forces too, but genes still are an outstandingly powerful predisposition that shapes the human phenomenology! Now imagine the offspring of a human being did inherit a mutated gene that coded for a strong disposition to have a very delicate phenomenology full of nice qualia such as love, friendliness, euphoria and so forth. Do you think such a ‘delicate phenomneology’ would have lead to a behaviour which helped that individual to produce more offspring and thus more copies of that delicate-mind gene would have been left in the human population, given the harsh conditions on the African Savannah. The answer again is obviously no!
Do you now kind of get where I am hinting at Thomas. The human body, including the human brain, were shaped by a logical principle of competition among self-replicating selfish genes. And the place where this competition was carried out was not a very comfortable one, but the unkind African Savannah. Thus almost all features of a human being are the result of a long struggle of gene rivalry. Thus new gene versions accumulated in the human genome because of a propagation advantage not because they were chosen by the tender, loving foresight of evolution. Well all this wouldn’t be a big ethical problem if we were talking only about the functional or even perceptual or cognitive phenomenal outcome of evolution. It doesn’t seem to make a big difference by itself if we ended up with a population of rough-handed instead of delicate-handed people. Or if only blue-leaved plants had been produced by evolution instead of green-leaved ones. From an ethical, value-perspective both outcomes by themselves seem equally valueless. But when one considers the affective phenomenal outcome of evolution, where something is produced that is either intrinsically valuable or intrinsically disvaluable, then ethical, value-considerations are essential. It doesn’t seem to make a difference if the world was populated by rough-handed or delicate-handed people if no piano did exist. Delicate-handedness is not valuable intrinsically, by itself. It only has instrumental value, meaning that it becomes valuable only if someone likes piano music and there is a piano. And it also seems not valuable intrinsically if the world was populated only by humans who could see thousands of color nuances or understand the theory of general relativity if they completely lacked an affective consciousness endowing them with a sense of significance and appreciation. But it seems clear that it does make an essential difference if the world was populated by delicate-minded people instead of rough-minded people. It doesn’t make a difference because delicate-minded people play the piano better or do anything else better. It simply makes a difference because phenomenal value is intrinsically valuable and phenomenal disvalue is intrinsically disvaluable, whereas it seems clear that delicate-handedness is not valueable by itself.’
Adam paused for a second and looked at Thomas to see if he could at least to some degree his utterances. But this had not been decided yet since there was still a lot of bustling activity going on in Thomas’ brain, far too much to permit an epiphany-like realization yet. ‘I repeat it again Thomas. Imagine a world full of only delicate hands, not even people, only delicate hands by themselves. Would you say this world is more intrinsically valuable than a world full of rough-hands?’ Thomas was unsure so he said ‘Well, one could argue that delicate hands are just intrinsically nicer than rough-hands.’ Adam smiled cheerfully since he realized Thomas was actively engaged to understand what was going on here. ‘This is a good argument, but by saying they are intrinsically nicer you presuppose an affective conscious entity, an observer that feels they are nicer. But the conscious observer might actually feel that rough hands are superior and thus more valuable. But take again the scenario of phenomenal delicateness and roughness or change it into phenomenal value in the form of pleasure and disvalue in the form of pleasure to make it more understandable. Just imagine there was affective consciousness floating around in the universe, not necessarily a human being but some conscious entity that was nothing but pure pleasure and some other conscious entity that was nothing but pure pain. Thus only these two phenomenological properties exist, pleasure and pain. Wouldn’t you agree that there doesn’t need to be an observer who feels which one is more valuable as in the case of the delicate and rough hand scenario? Wouldn’t you agree that the consciousness which feels pleasure perpetually is more valuable than the consciousness who feels pain indefinitely. And the raw feels are the same as the pleasure and pain that you experience.’ He again looked at Thomas with an expression of compassionate hope. And in fact, there was no way Thomas couldn’t see the difference between the two scenarios, the delicate-hand and the delicate-mind one. But he still was unsure how that was really relevant in this case.
‘Now consider again evolution and its outcome. If evolution had produced a world full of rough-hands instead of delicate-hands there wouldn’t be much reason to complain or to try to change something since there was no difference in value. But what if evolution had produced only phenomenal sadness instead of phenomenal happiness? Wouldn’t you feel that something had to be changed, that it would be intrinsically good to move in the direction of more intrinsic value and away from intrinsic disvalue, whereas it would be only instrumentally good, good for something else, to make more delicate-hands.’ Well, put this way Thomas had to agree. But still, this whole talk about intrinsic value and value-maximization seemed so pointlessly speculative and hypothetical, something Thomas would rather expect two existentialists to discuss over a cup of strong black coffee. ‘I still don’t understand where you are really going with this,’ Thomas openly admitted since he was eager to finally get a piece of information that would get his deeply confused mind somewhere.
‘I completely understand Thomas, but this slow creeping towards the wished-for epiphany is important. Now, let’s go back to the evolution of humans on the African savannah and remember the bane and boon of evolution, namely the coupling of functionality and phenomenology. Again, imagine a new gene mutation in an offspring of a human being that made its carrier more vulnerable to tissue-damage. Well, this gene certainly would be functionally superior to its precursor since it would protect its carrier from noxious outside stimuli threatening his physical constitution and thus would leave more copies of itself over time. Thus a growing number of people would be more sensitive to noxious stimuli. However, the functional superiority of this gene would come with a high nasty phenomenal price, namely a higher capacity for suffering.
Another example that poignantly highlights this tragedy: Imagine two gene-variants on the African Savannah, version A that predisposed its carrier to be irritated, aggressive and competitive, whereas version B that predisposed its carrier to be happy and empathic. Which one would you expect to spread? Since version A was functionally better to propagate the carrier’s genes it would outcompete version B. But what disastrous phenomenological consequences would that have. People would be dissatisfied, aggressive and competitive instead of happy and nice towards each other. Do you see that we have a situation here that is functionally superior but is phenomenally nastier, more intrinsically disvaluable? Wouldn’t you agree, Thomas!’ Thomas was confused. He couldn’t really understand how a world full of happy and nice people could exist although he to admit that it would be ‘intrinsically more valuable’; so he answered, ‘But what is a nice phenomenology worth if it is not sustainable. People wouldn’t be able to live in a society.’ Adam emphatically smiled and said ‘I hope you will soon realize that it is possible, Thomas. But for the sake of the example, to think about if the lifestyle of the happy people is actually sustainable is to carry the example too far; it means you forget that this is exactly the problem, namely that functionality and phenomenology were coupled in Darwinian evolution. I just mean assuming everything else is the same and both options would be equally sustainable, wouldn’t it be more intrinsically valuable to have only happy and nice people instead of aggressive and competitive ones. In which world would you rather want to live?’ Adam looked straight into Thomas eyes with a shimmering expression of hope. Thomas had to admit, although his very nature was a fiercely competitive one, he would prefer to be perpetually happy and nice if that was possible. No more painful loosing and mind-crushing disappointments and exhausting struggles to win, which was only satisfying for such a fleeting moment. Yes he definitely would choose the very hypothetical happy and nice scenario.
‘Unfortunately, the scenario we have just outlined is very similar to how it actually happened. Human beings evolved to have a very rich texture of negative qualia such as aggression, jealousy, hate, depression, loneliness, competitiveness and so forth. All these feelings were of functional advantage for our genes, but of a nasty phenomenal nature. Positive feelings unfortunately were of very limited functionality and thus only scarce jewels of our phenomenology. Yes, unsurpassed joy, life-loving euphoria, empathic cheerfulness, etc. were inbuilt in our neuro-phenomenological fabric, but not richly and temporally lasting enough. Especially, the moment-to-moment hedonic tone, the baseline affective coloring of the human experiental space, turned out to be pretty intrinsically valueless. If an individual wasn’t engaging in any important activity, it was of no functional value that the individual felt truly happy or satisfied. A feeling of affective phenomenal emptiness or even adversity, often experienced as the unpleasant feeling ‘boredom’, was most suitable for that purpose. Evolution also ensured that one would usually come back after only a short while to one’s level of relative phenomenal emptiness. It was not advantageous for one’s genes that either the painful loss of a family member or the euphoric victory over another tribe had long-lasting affective consequences. This principle is also referred to as the hedonic treadmill. One can make big steps forward into the direction of true happiness, but in the end one will always realize that the speed of the hedonic treadmill is too fast for one’s own pace.
But unfortunately evolution didn’t make the hedonic treadmill symmetric, but rather adversely asymmetric. It made sure that one could easily slide into the other direction, a perpetual state of suffering was, in contrast to a state of constant bliss, quite functionally advantageous in many situations. Depression as a result of social defeat was better for one’s genes than a motivated tendency for life-threatening fights that couldn’t possibly be won. Great rather than low sensitivity to tissue-damage was also of high functional advantage leading to the phenomenal nastiness of physical pain. Now, of course you might wonder how did evolution ensure all of this? Well, as I have earlier explained to you Thomas, it all depends on the neurochemical fabric of the brain and this fabric is substantially encoded by one’s genes. Genetically-coded neural circuits are wired in such a way that all we have mentioned so far is physical and phenomenal reality. Myriads of negative feedback mechanisms ensure that almost no temporal changes in one’s phenomenological landscape are long-lasting. The complexity of the neural dynamics producing an affective experiental space also explains that a not properly functioning brain is much more likely to lead to aversive feelings and low mood than to the technically hard-to-achieve phenomenon of perpetual well-functioning high spirits. Thus, painfully low-mood was not only an evolutionary adaptive mechanism but constituted in many cases also simply a dysregulation of properly functioning neural circuits.’
If all that was true, Thomas thought to himself, than the outcome of evolution was truly tragic. And it appeared to him as a deeply painful realization that most of that was actually true for him. His moment-to-moment well-being was more neutral than wonderful. Besides, how hard did he have to work for a fleeting moment of blissful joy and how easily did aversive feelings fall into the arms of his consciousness. Anger, aggression and low mood were unwelcome nuisances of daily living. Bliss, joy and love, in contrast, were wished-for friends that barely visited his mental realms. Why hadn’t evolution been just a little bit more generous, that one at least could have gotten up everyday with a smile and a breeze of life-loving euphoria? And those people here not only seemed to get up in the most exalted state of mind, but continued throughout the day a spree of blissful friendliness. How was that possible, especially given what Thomas had just heard? Shouldn’t the hedonic treadmill exude its vicious dominance even here in the furtue?
‘Now Thomas, the reflective capacity of the human mind soon realized that the texture of the human affective experiental space was not the way it should be, not as the conscious individual wished it to be. The human capacity of introspection soon led to the insight that there was a value-disvalue, a pain-pleasure axis along which all human activity was centered. And although many people often didn’t want or just couldn’t realize that one personally always aimed for phenomenal pleasantness instead of nastiness, this soon became a wide-spread and philosophically supported conviction. By the end of the 4th century B.C., all major ancient philosophical schools including Aristotelianism, Epicurism, Stoicism, Hedonism, etc. agreed upon one premise, namely that eudaimonia, the Greek word for phenomenal pleasantness, was the ultimate goal of all human activity. Think about yourself Thomas, would you ever wish during a period of happiness that you would all of sudden feel sad and depressed?’ The fact that Thomas considered this question to be purely rhetorical showed him that it was actually self-evident that he never ever had wished at one of the rare moments of joy, of pure phenomenological pleasantness, that he would all of sudden feel dissatisfied and sad. There never had been a moment like that and he was sure that there never would be such a moment in his life. But on the other hand did he always wish to feel happy? Sometimes he liked to be sad. What about those moments? ‘When one feels sad, in contrast, it is a completely different situation. As I have told you earlier the cognitive and affective spaces are neuroanatomically and phenomenally tightly intertwined. Evolution made sure that one accepts pain and suffering. Imagine a version of a gene that would predispose its carrier to realize the wrongness of pain and try to fight it and another version of a gene that would predispose its carrier to rationalize pain as inevitable and not necessarily wrong. Which carrier would ensure that its genes could spread faster by producing more offspring? The one who could rationalize pain, would be able to put his efforts to other more vital and productive tasks, whereas the other one would be caught in a state of fruitless revolt against the moral wrongness of pain. And exactly that’s what happened during Darwinian evolution. Since pain was inevitable during the Darwinian Ages, many people tried to rationalize pain for their own good. Religions such Christianity or Buddhism were striking examples for the neocortical evaluation of affective states; religions gave pain some positive characteristic of inevitability. Nevertheless, although pain-rationalization was advantageous and preferred by many people, it couldn’t abolish the reality, the phenomenal nastiness of pain! The powerful, evolutionary inbuilt drive of phenomenal value-maximization and the subtle influence of introspective insights were enough to make the history of humankind one big struggle for the betterment of the human phenomenology.
Probably, the most striking attest to the fact that humans did never view their affective consciousness as sufficiently pleasantly textured was the pervasive use of psychoactive substances across all cultures and throughout human history. While in the history of what came to be known as the ‘Western Civilization’ alcohol, nicotine and caffeine were evidence for the shortcomings of one’s evolutionary endowed hedonic repertoire, as you probably know very well yourself’ and here Adam looked jovially at Thomas knowing that Thomas probably had been regularly consuming at least two of these, ‘other cultures employed other biochemicals in an effort to enrich their evolutionarily undernourished affective phenomenology. Various alkaloid-containing plants such as the famous coca plant, potently psychoactive cacti and mushroom species were prepared and used to at least temporarily beatify one’s phenomenology. Unfortunately, those chemical substances were phenomenology-enhancers of low potency and maliciously short duration. If one considers how they evolved, it also seems more obvious why they were not the ideal phenomenology-pharmacoenhancers. All these plant alkaloids evolved as chemical weapons against phytophagous organisms, which were potential threats to these plants. Since insects did share certain neural pathways with humans, these phytophagous-toxins also ‘dysregulated’ the human nervous system. They hijacked the neurochemical pathways to offer their consumers a short glimpse into the spheres of phenomenal heaven, only to fall afterwards back, sometimes even deeper, into the spheres of one’s evolutionary inherited neuro-phenomenological wasteland. So although psychoactive drugs were pervasively used throughout the history of humankind, it was a very ineffective way to substantially and sustainably improve one’s impoverished phenomenology.
Environmental reshufflings were another ineffective way to improve the human condition. Socio-economic, political and technological progress were mistakenly viewed as powerful measures to outsmart the evolutionary paradigm of the hedonic treadmill. This became especially obvious during the enlightenment when the rationale of utilitarianism gained wide-spread recognition especially among scholars and intellectuals. ‘The greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people’ was their slogan. And to achieve this goal, even fantastical ideas such as a hedonic calculus were not put down as lunatic. But the problem was that no one at that time understood the evolutionary-inherited, genetically-coded neuro-phenomenological architecture of their affective experiental space. They thought through environmental reforms they could make people truly happy. What a grossly misconceived notion! They should have been able to gaze about five centuries ahead in time when most of the principles of enlightenment had been put into reality in many parts of the ‘Western World’. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Western World which had accomplished a lot in terms of social, political and technological progress, as you probably know, was far from being a place full of phenomenal pleasantness, as you also know. Hate, jealousy, sadness, despair, aggression and horrible forms of psychopathologies were still prevalent. And had environmental reforms accomplished anything at all in terms of making the human affective experiental space truly wonderful and sublime? Blissful joy, life-loving euphoria and all-life-encompassing love were still precious rarities sadly amiss in many people’s affective realm. And what were the prospects? How could have environmental reforms ever ensured anything better? Surely, people in poverty could have been lifted out of the suppressing realms of low self-worth by earning more money. But what about all those people who had a worthwhile life in terms of environmental and social factors. A wonderful family, nice friends, a well-paid job and a magnificent house! Were those people spared the phenomenal nastiness of having to watch a beloved one die, the emotional pain of losing a child, or the phenomenal unpleasantness of a divorce or a break-up? How could have politics or technological progress ever exempted people from becoming a depressed social loser, from ending up alone and sad. How could have any fabulously sophisticated socio-economic reform prevented the psychopathologies which not only ghastly tormented the psyche of the afflicted but also or even more those of their victims. How could have environmental reforms possibly gotten rid of the unfairness of the sometimes malicious mercilessness of the mood-tormenting dynamics of the female oestrogen cycle? At the beginning of the 21st more than 20 million people in the United States, one of the most civilized and richest countries at that time, were classified as clinically depressed. Most of them were not below the poverty-line, but financially well-off members of the middle and upper-class. Even more people were reading self-help books to improve their unrewarding phenomenology and make their lives more worthwhile.
An even more poignant piece of evidence for the inadequacy of environmental reforms to boost well-being was the fact that studies trying to evaluate differences in the well-being of people from different cultures came to the conclusion that the hedonic tone, the moment-to-moment feeling of happiness or sadness, of hunter-gatherers was probably higher or at least equal to that of civilized Westerners. Thus, thousands of years of human progress had not really managed to make human life intrinsically more valuable, but even appeared to have made it less intrinsically valuable. There was a gross mismatch between the environment in which human beings had evolved for more than 2 million years and that in which humans had spend around 15000 years, namely in agricultural and industrial civilizations. There was especially a striking mismatch between the dietary, athletic and social aspects of the modern and ancestral environment. Hunter-gatherers were used to a diet rich in nuts, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables as well as raw meat. They consumed little saturated fatty acids and sugars. In the modernized Western World most people were over-nourished and mal-nourished at the same time. Too much saturated fatty acids and sugars were consumed and not enough vital nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, etc. And most people didn’t even acknowledge that this wrong nutritional intake had a strong impact not only on their physical, but also on their mental health. Thus, the evolutionary-inherited low hedonic tone was slightly but constantly lowered through a wrong diet. Besides, human beings in the civilized Western world clearly lacked an appropriate exercise regimen. Hunter-gatherers were quite physically active; they never sat around for hours not moving at all like many members of the corporate world at the 21st century were used to, day after day. This also had a vast impact on their affective experiental space. During vigorous physical exercise the immune system got activated, endogenous opioids were released, serotonin axons began to lively sprout and the brain was flooded with thoroughly oxygenated blood! All these physiological changes had a positive impact on one’s affective phenomenology. And hunter-gatherers constantly lived in big social groups. They were almost never on their own. They used to hunt in groups, raise their children in groups and hang out at night in groups. Thus humans evolved to highly value intimate social contact. However, industrial progress brought about an atomization of social living. At the beginning of the 21st century, as you know, Thomas the biggest coherent social adult group was a family, which also split up when one’s offspring reached adulthood. Many people were singles, living completely on their own. All in all, many aspects of modern living were in sharp contrast to evolutionary-inherited emotional-instinctual tendencies, which could constantly lower one’s hedonic tone below the already low genetically constrained set-point.
Thomas, what was technological progress worth by itself if it didn’t improve the human condition? In retrospect, this comes as no surprise. In an effort to cheat the evolutionary inherited hedonic treadmill, one just can’t build better and nicer TVs, cars or computers. Thomas, even immersive virtual reality couldn’t do that, which is probably the fiercest piece of evidence for the illusiveness of the millennial environmental value-maximization program of humankind. Even when you Thomas could have everything, when you could live environmentally in paradise, you would soon realize that all the girls you could have, all the cars, all amenities you can imagine, you couldn’t sustainably lift your moment-to-moment well-being, your hedonic tone. Just think about that for a moment!’ Adam paused to let Thomas think through this scenario for a second. Thomas was at first quite opposed at least to Adam’s last statement. Thomas would have definitely been a very happy person if he could have had anything he wanted. But would his life truly be always wonderful, sublime and cheerful. The more Thomas thought it through, the more the ugly truth of what Adam had said revealed itself. Yes, Thomas would live in a place of extraordinary beauty with everything he wanted, but would that make his life truly happier. He probably would get bored soon and dissatisfied by not accomplishing anything. He was mournfully aware of that. And before Thomas could go even deeper into the potential shortcomings of even such a wonderful prospect, Adam continued, ‘Fortunately, at the beginning of the twentieth century the first truly effective reform of the human experiental space started to take place and reduce the phenomenal nastiness bestowed upon the human psyche by Darwinian evolution.
Before anaesthesia was a widespread medical option, surgeries had been horrifying experiences with such an unimaginable viciousness of raw feelings that it is not only entirely inconceivable for us today but probably also even for you. However, with the advent of first general anaesthesia and later on sophisticated local anaesthesia, medical procedures could be performed in a much more humane way without unnecessarily throwing patients into the evolutionary-given, genetically-encoded hellish realms of phenomenal horror. This finally presented a direct improvement of the human condition, the first step into the pain-free Euphenomenological Age we live in today. Most other ingenious inventions before that such as the use of electricity, the telephone or the steam-engine, had only indirectly and ineffectively improved the human affective experiental space. Progress till then had fruitlessly tried to improve the human phenomenal realm. None of those brilliant inventions had truly made civilized humans happier than their hunter-gatherer ancestors. The advent of anaesthesia was fundamentally different. It directly changed the texture of the human affective experiental space and although it didn’t sustainably beatify it, it certainly had a huge impact on it since it spared medical patients the potential, unspeakable dreadfulness of physical pain. But what seems to us now as the most intrinsically valuable invention in the history of humankind till the beginning of the 20th century met back then the heavy resistance of the evolutionary favored, neocortically-mediated rationalization of phenomenal unpleasantness. Especially, the Judaeo-Christian tradition proved to be a powerful temporary break to the actual betterment of human life. Pain was seen as God’s way of cleansing the human soul. ‘Anaesthesia is of the devil,’ was a popular sentiment even among medical scholars who witnessed the effectiveness of the new slightly blemished, but nevertheless very effective phenomenology-pharmacoenhancers such as ether, nitrous oxide or later on chloroform.
However, since the ability to rationalize pain largely had been fuelled on the African Savannah by the absolute inevitability of its phenomenological nastiness, the phenomenology-enhancement possibilities arising with the advent of anaesthesia proved to largely subdue this rationalization ability with regards to physical pain; anaesthesia soon become the medical standard, at least throughout the Western World. It soon became even unthinkably cruel and inhumane to perform surgery or other painful procedures without proper phenomenology-enhancement in the form of anaesthesia. The following two centuries in human history proved to be the glorious dawn of the Euphenomenological Age, in which evolutionary-inherited, genetically-encoded texture of the human affective consciousness was finally directly and ever-more effectively restructured. One very important though not truly directly, phenomenal improvement of the human life was the conquest of many nasty diseases which had wrenched the lives of so many people who had never witnessed the medical blessings of, for instance, aseptic surgery or antibiotics.
Throughout the 20th century direct phenomenology-enhancement targeted in an increasingly effective way the moral wrongness, the intrinsic disvalue of phenomenal unpleasantness, although the path taken was often more felicitous than deliberate. In 1951, in search for an anti-tuberculosis medication, isonazid was discovered as the first phenomenology-pharamcoenhancer classified as an antidepressant. It belonged to a class of pharmacological agents known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors. What was so remarkable about them was the fact that they crudely circumvented the hedonic treadmill in a way. Evolution had ensured that the release of neurotransmitters which are crucial keyplayers in neural circuits texturing the human affective consciousness, were met by a subsequent destruction through enzyme-degradation. Isonazid prevented this mechanism of destruction by blocking enzyme-degradation, and thus offset a negative feedback loop evolutionary selected for. The results were phenomenally nice. Improved mood, more mental energy and an occasional sense of euphoric jubilation colored the emotional landscape of its consumers. However, such a crude and relatively unsophisticated pharmacological agent such as isonazid couldn’t effectively and sustainably cheat the seemingly unmanageable complexities of the affective neuro-phenomenological architecture. Adverse bodily reactions that were potentially lethal were often rationally considered to outweigh the phenomenology-enhancement effects. But nevertheless isoniazid opened the doors for a flood of increasingly effective and sustainable phenomenology-pharmacoenhancers to reduce human suffering, at least a little bit. By the end of the 20st century a comprehensive pharmacopoeia existed that had arguably made human life overall more intrinsically valuable, or one should rather say less intrinsically disvaluable, than ever before. While the moment-to-moment well-being of humans had not been yet lifted above the evolutionary-inherited natural hedonic tone that had stayed about the same for millennia, the texture of unpleasantness had been at least partially eradicated from many people’s affective landscape through the insightful use of phenomenology-pharmacoenhancers ranging from general anaesthetics and painkillers to psychic anaesthesizers such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. But Thomas although what you have witnessed in terms of actual human phenomenology improvement was noteworthy, the advancement in this regard in the centuries to come fortunately made these pharmacological agents appear as merely slightly more effective than hunter-gatherer herbal tinctures.
While the mainstream program of phenomenology-enhancement was successful with regards to the eradication of the phenomenal texture of pain and general unpleasantness, it was almost seen as frivolous and immoral to enrich and amplify the texture of pleasantness. The morally urgently needed mainstream program of pain-reduction was unfortunately vastly less instructive, revealing and powerful than the century-long more-or-less underground stream of magic-like phenomenal enrichment through pharmacological agents classified as recreational drugs. While in the Western World, as mentioned before, the toxic and not particularly rewarding agent ethyl alcohol had been known for centuries, increasing degrees of cultural globalization brought novel psychotropic compounds such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin, opium and a handful of tantalizing agents referred to as psychedelics into the welcoming open arms of people’s undernourished affective consciousness all around the globe. The fact that for instance the cocaine-industry became a multi-million dollar enterprise was striking evidence for how phenomenally unrewarding natural Darwinian consciousness was and how pleasantly the human affective experiental space potentially could be textured. However again, all these delusive shortcuts were unable to effectively cheat the hedonic treadmill. Instead they enabled their consumers to ephemerally escape the vicious claws of inherent negative feedback mechanisms of their nervous system, only to be soon afterwards caught again and sometimes punished very undearly.
The story of psychedelics is a little bit different than that of powerful stimulants such as cocaine. They were not essentially phenomenology-enhancer but rather phenomenology-twisters. While for some people and even some cultures compounds such as mescaline, psilocybin or lysergic acid diethylamide, LSD, were divine phenomenology-glorifiers that could occasionally offer them a safe and physically harmless glimpse into ambrosial spheres of consciousness, they threw other unfortunate individuals into the abysmal depths of torturing insanity and alienation. While a few hundred milligrams of cocaine almost always promised to suffuse one’s affective experiental space with the delightful texture of life-loving euphoria, psychedelic journeys into unknown phenomenal realms were quite unpredictable. Nevertheless they were of great phenomenal value for some fortunate individuals whose life was positively transformed by the regular use of psychedelics. Besides, they were of great instructive value for the subsequent development of more predictable, sustainable and wonderful phenomenology-pharmacoenhancers; they revealed the great wonderful potentialities of the human nervous system which could be accessed back then unfortunately only unpredictably.
From our present perspective, the most wonderful and path-breaking invention in the history of humankind till the 21st was the chemical substance MDMA that was rivalled in historical significance only by the advent of anaesthesia,’ Adam paused and waited for Thomas to display deep perplexity and outright disagreement. And as soon as he had paused, a frowning bewildered expression appeared on Thomas’ face which exactly conveyed the protesting attitude Adam had predicted. The statement Adam had made seemed so obscure and misconceived to Thomas that he didn’t even consider it worth of argumentative refutation. MDMA, a recreational drug, the most wonderful and sublime invention in all of human history till the 21st century. How absurd! How could something like that come out of the mouth of such a seemingly scholarly and remarkably thoughtful person? Thomas couldn’t even conceive of a viewpoint that would make such a statement at least debatable. He was just shocked. Adam had clearly expected such a reaction and thus considerately tried to show Thomas the viewpoint from which his statement would not only seem debatable but truly self-evident. ‘Now, Thomas I know that this statement seems quite extreme and maybe even abstruse. But this is due to the fact that you are probably completely naïve to the MDMA-phenomenology, isn’t that true Thomas?’ And without hesitation Thomas pronounced as if he wanted to strengthen his disagreement by sharply distancing himself from this substance ‘No, I have never touched it or even heard of it.’ Adam empathically smiled, ‘See that’s the problem. The semantic competence of the human mind is very limited. Have you by any chance ever been in the mountains?’ Although Thomas was not a passionate hiker, he had made quite scenic and impressive trips to the Alps. ‘Yes I did, in the Alps,’ affirmed Thomas. ‘Fabulous, the Alps today still count to the most sublime sites though you probably could only recognize mountain-shapes, everything else has changed in a quite magnificent way. But to continue my point, imagine someone would have only told you though with much details about the Alps. Do you think you could have felt anything even close to the state of euphoric amazement that probably overwhelmed you when you were actually standing on the top of a mountain with the most exquisite panorama? I guess not. That’s what I mean with semantic incompetence. Just through words you can’t really access even in your imagination wonderful euphenomenological realms. Thus, although I can tell you about the MDMA experience, it will be so vastly different from its actual phenomenology that it will be like telling a child how sex feels like.’ Although Adam sincerely tried to get this point across to Thomas he still was deeply jolly and emphatic. ‘So why is it now that we today consider MDMA one of the most fundamental cornerstones in human history,’ Yes, Thomas thought to himself sarcastically, he really would like to know that. ‘Darwinian evolution had two phenomenally tragic flaws, first, as I have already told you, that functionality and phenomenology were coupled and secondly, that it made organisms phenomenally essentially egotistical due to the principle of selfish gene-propagation. That’s the reason why the human consciousness turned out to be so nastily textured with self-centeredness, jealousy, competitiveness and a gross lack of profound empathy and love towards unrelated fellow beings. While evolution ensured that one highly valued one’s family since they were necessary for the propagation of one’s genes as well as one’s friends since they also indirectly helped one to get better stakes at being reproductive successful, there was no need for one to truly like or love a stranger. Thus, evolution didn’t endow humans with a rich affective texture of empathy, love and niceness. While anaesthesia was at least a great first step towards the abolition of the phenomenal texture of pain, MDMA was the first temporary remedy for the phenomenal egotistic crudeness of the human mind. MDMA takes a special, dear place in the history of phenomenology-enhancement since it was the first substance that suffused the human consciousness with such a magical and unique texture. Yes, some people valued other drugs much more because they were more subjectively rewarding back in the Darwinian Ages. But MDMA was so special because of its empathy-phenomenology that enabled a completely new mode of truly emphatic social existence. MDMA induced an amazing feeling of closeness and connectedness to one's fellow human beings. It triggered intense emotional release beyond the bounds of everyday experience. It was such a novel and sublime way of phenomenology-enhancement since it completely abolished the texture of evolutionary-inherited, genetically-coded neurotic self-centeredness and thus opened the doors for a flood of wonderful pro-social feelings enriching the affective consciousness. Since MDMA was unfortunately neurotoxic, of short duration and only truly magical during the first few times of consumption, it was not a solution in any way. However, in retrospect this substance was utterly path-breaking since it revealed that potentially a wonderful phenomenal niceness could texture the human consciousness and that a truly peaceful and cooperative way of social living was possible. MDMA was an only slightly off-track answer to Aldous Huxley’s wonderfully insightful statement: ‘If we could sniff or swallow something that would, for five or six hours each day, abolish our solitude as individuals, atone us with our fellows in a glowing exaltation of affection and make life in all its aspects seem not only worth living, but divinely beautiful and significant, and if this heavenly, world-transfiguring drug were of such a kind that we could wake up next morning with a clear head and an undamaged constitution-then, it seems to me, all our problems (and not merely the one small problem of discovering a novel pleasure) would be wholly solved and earth would become paradise.’
MDMA-consciousness was yet in another way path-breaking. Besides softening the ego-boundaries, it revealed that a completely wonderful affective experiental space could coexist with a high-functioning cognitive consciousness. In contrast to other pharmacological agents known at that time, it didn’t blur the intellect; rather it could promote an extraordinary clarity of introspective self-insight. Thus MDMA, at least during the first few trips, could texture one’s experiental space as a whole, affectively and cognitively, wonderfully. It was appropriately coined as an entactogen-emphatogen and paved the way for the pending Euphenomenological Revolution. Along with MDMA, one should mention one of its main advocates, the charismatic adventurous Californian chemist Alexander Shulgin who was the first true experimental phenomenologist. With his extensive chemical knowledge, he studied systematically the phenomenological effects of synthesized chemical compounds, especially phenethylamines and tryptamines. His novel designer-drugs and sophisticated phenomenological experiments fundamentally changed the course of history.’ Adam paused and took a deep breath as if the great showdown was about to come.
‘At beginning of the 21st century, a man of stunning brilliance and insightfulness who even today deeply perplexes historians, David Pearce, wrote a manifesto that became the single most important document in the history of humankind and probably will indefinitely continue to hold this place. He outlined in a vague but nevertheless path-breaking manner how genetic engineering and nanotechnology could and should be used to first extinguish the texture of phenomenological unpleasantness altogether, but also to use the same techniques to suffuse all sentient beings with a sublime texture of phenomenal niceness. Like most path-breaking novelties, the significance of his stunningly insightful postulations wasn’t recognized at first except by a few individuals. His manifesto went in so many respects against powerfully evolutionary-inbuilt psychological mechanisms that it isn’t surprising to us that people couldn’t sympathize with his proposal at first. Genetic engineering meant the modification of exactly those entities, the genes, which we were built to propagate. Thus it is not astounding that many self-defence mechanisms in various guises were at work to prevent this beatification of the human emotional repertoire. Besides, people were mostly ignorant of the breathtaking potentialities of the affective experiental space. Most of them were at least naïve to an MDMA-like phenomenology; thus as mentioned before, semantic-incompetence was a strong counter-force. But the coming centuries changed everything, Thomas!’
Adam’s voice became increasingly exalted and excited as if he was to reveal that he would get married. Thomas’s consciousness had become increasingly perturbed. He couldn’t yet or at least didn’t want to understand what Adam meant by genetic engineering and biotechnology. But Adam continued his speech with ever-growing enthusiasm so that Thomas had no time to really think through this scenario, ‘There was fast though not fundamental progress on the pharmaceutical sector for a while. Novel and more effective pain-killers were developed that soon put physical pain almost into oblivion, at least on the human phenomenological landscape. And an ever-growing arsenal of sophisticated ‘antidepressants’, such as substance P-inhibitors, NMDA-antagonists, enkephalinesterase-inhibitors, were increasingly effective at abolishing the horrid textures of depressions. However, something only did change fundamentally with the advent of pharmacogenomics. This opened up completely new ways of improving the neuro-phenomenological deficits in an astoundingly effective way.
However, it did something else that was essential for further developments. It revealed the dark side of the evolutionary-inherited genome that coded for one’s phenomenology. Once pharmacogenomics became the medical standard, people soon began to realize the harsh merciless unfairness of the genetic lottery. For instance, people with an genetically-encoded unfortunate composition of a chemical keyplayer for phenomenal niceness, the serotonin transporter, were prone to have an anxious, low-mood phenomenology. Just one single amino-acid difference in the composition of the serotonin transporter opened the neuro-phenomenological doors for some to enjoy a relatively stable, self-confident personality, whereas for others it meant a life-time of struggle for a happy and self-confident life. And this is just one example of thousands that highlight the brutally unfair genetic lottery. Many people just naturally lacked motivation and thus were condemned to a life of either depressive lethargy or exhaustive unsuccessful and frustrating competition with people on genetically-favored motivational overdrive. Thus, people began to realize that what was a conviction in Ancient Greece, namely that one’s phenomenology was either favored or disfavoured not by the gods but by evolution, was essentially true. The etymological origin of the word ‘happiness’, namely that which ‘happens’ to one, became poignantly obvious.
But soon this gross genetic unfairness was recognized as an ethical issue of cardinal importance. How was it ethically tenable to keep biotechnological tools that could ensure fairness and an equally pleasant phenomenology for everyone away from people? Anyways, more and more people started to increasingly rely on sophisticated pharmaceuticals to make up for this disadvantage, legally or illegally. But this turmoil lasted only for a short-while, when the next path-breaking discovery was made that places itself next to Anaesthesia and MDMA in historical and phenomenal significance.
Pearcin was the first sustainable phenomenology-pharmacoglorifier. It emerged out of the bustling activity of 21st century Shulgin-succesors who used the growing knowledge about the neuro-phenomenological architecture of the affective experiental space to develop magical pharmaco-cocktails whose exact composition was crucially based on one’s genome. Pearcin was a very sophisticated blend of many different substances with unique pharmacological profiles that worked together synergistically to texture one’s affective space in a wonderful way, especially through powerful homeostatic trimonoaminergic, oxytocinergic and cholinergic neurotransmitter-system improvements. Overall, Pearcin was an entactogen-emphatogen-psychostimulant, very similar phenomenally to MDMA tough with a much more pronounced motivational-drive texture. It ensured that through sophisticatedly stimulated dopaminergic and cholinergic systems, people were highly motivated and smart instead of lethargically blissed-out like an opiate-addict. And since a world full of happy and motivated self-centred people would have probably ended up in one terrible chaotic culmination since under the Darwinian premise of egoistic advancement there need to be losers to ensure stable social systems. Thus, the strong though not incapacitating emphatogenic aspect of Pearcin ensured that people were motivated though in a highly socially responsible manner thus that a new mode of social existence emerged. All in all, Pearcin induced not only a feeling of profound authenticity, self-love and love of other beings, but also a sense of life-loving euphoric motivation. It worked slowly and took its full effects only after about three weeks of continued administration in the same way antidepressants had worked before. It led to sophisticated receptor re-regulations and wished-for neuro-morphological changes in the brain. Its intricate pharmacokinetics could fill half a book, thus I will spare you messy details. The people who used it became not only profoundly happy and nice to other people but motivated to be active and help other people. A wave of happy philanthropists started to emerge. Rapidly, governments all over the world initiated thousands of clinical trials. But skepticism and ethical issues persisted even after no negative-side effects were found. However, the phenomenal sublimety and sustainability of Pearcin couldn’t be hampered by irrational orthodoxy and so it became so rapidly popular that it completely transformed human life fundamentally. People for the first time in history started to stop being caught up in a neurotic race of self-assertion. Pearcin transformed the world directly phenomenally, which then lead to positive changes in the social, economic and environmental attitude of people. Economics, for instance, changed in that externalities, which had never been truly taken into account when making decisions and often led to environmentally and socially undesirable outcomes, were now always included in every economic analysis due to deeply emphatic thinking.
After Pearcin-phenomenology had become the waking-consciousness standard, everything went rapidly towards the realization of the Hedonistic Imperative. The step from pharmacological to genetic phenomenology-enhancement was soon considered the most rational and ethical step. Genetic Engineering, biotechnology, nanomedicine and quantum computing had become by then well-understood tools and thus technical obstacles for the realization of the Euphenomenological Age were soon overcome. First, somatic gene-therapy was employed, but neurodevelopmental confinements urgently called for germ-line genome rewriting and so full-fledged euphenomenology-engineering turned human life into the most heavenly mode of existence. And Thomas, soon afterwards phylum chauvinism was overcome and an ambitious eco-system restructuring project was started to turn all sentient beings into unsurpassedly happy creatures. But you Thomas…..’ A flush of horror overcame Thomas. What was the man saying? All the astounding lively loveliness that had permeated every bit of matter and energy in this world, all of a sudden crashed into horrid nothingness in Thomas’ eyes. It was all madly artifical!
Thomas had been right with his first assumption that this place here, even worse the whole world, was one big lunatic climax. Humanity had not only deprived itself of its natural innocence, but all of nature. Thomas was so deeply and painfully shocked that he had completely forgotten all the sublimety he had witnessed so far. Humans had genetically changed themselves and other beings. Thomas wanted to run, to run away from this insanity. But where should, where could he possibly go? He was trapped in immersive virtual reality! He did need to get out of here immediately. But then what? And the wave of despair that was covering Thomas beneath it grew bigger and heavier, crushing Thomas till he finally gave up the fruitless struggle of soul-shaking desperation. Not even Adam could help Thomas in this situation. How could a 21st century Darwinian possibly cope with such a fundamental revelation? Thomas’ affective experiental space was supposedly the last phenomenological battlefield on earth. ‘Thomas,’ said Adam in the most compassionate and tender voice ‘we can help you. Somatic gene-therapy can make you a happier man than you have ever been. Think about all I have told you! Let’s get back into the physical world, I am sure that will make you more comfortable at the moment!’ And without having noticed a discontinuation of suffering, Thomas found himself back in the physical world. But the crushing feeling of despair didn’t recede. Instead he felt more anxious then before since now there was no way out anymore.
‘Thomas, let us go around and just look. I will assure you just looking around will help you. Everything will appear to you as wonderful beyond comprehension.’ What an empty statement, Thomas thought! He understood that the man probably had the best intentions and was convinced that everything here in this world was beautiful. But Thomas now clearly saw the deceptive artificialness and shallowness of what he had thought to be authentic beauty. No more suffering, but what was the price these people had paid for it. Everyone was nothing more than a slave, a slave of……. and here Thomas had to pause and find something these people were enslaved by, something that confined them in their personal growth. Well, it obviously was their own fake happiness they were enslaved by. That sounded bizarre, but that was the only possible answer Thomas could come up with that quickly. They all were the same, the same slaves of their own fake genes! But what should he do right now, he was far too perplexed to come up with future plans, with reasonable solutions. So he just followed Adam who now appeared to him as both pitifully ignorant and enslaved. Could he really trust a genetically modified human? What would they do to him? He was obviously the last one who hadn’t been enslaved! Or maybe there were more Darwinians left! A rush of euphoric hope ran through Thomas’ body. Was there hope after all for a going back to the natural, the Darwinian world? Maybe he could find other normal sane people who could help him overcome these madmen and make the world a natural, a better……….. a lack of full-fledged conviction made Thomas stop at this point of his so smoothly running triumphal train of thought. Was that really true? Would a going back, make the world a better place again? As much as he just wanted to make himself believe yes, he couldn’t convince himself. All he had seen here so far was happiness, compassion, love and beauty. There hadn’t been one sight, one comment, one something that was marked by even the slightest aura of unpleasantness. No, he had to see more, he had to see the ugly part of this world to find conviction. Thomas was so anxiously eager to see more that he didn’t even hesitate to become a passenger in a bizarrely looking flying vehicle which was obviously used as a means of transportation.
And as soon as they had left what had at fist appeared to Thomas as a palace of sensual joy and now only seemed a cold frightening vestige of deception, Thomas saw an exquisitely supernatural landscape unfolding itself in front of him, covered in a peaceful golden sun-set glow, which gave the scenery an even more surreally ambrosial, transporting appearance. Thomas felt as if he had gotten a straight shot of full-blown amazement right into the heart of his affective consciousness. They flew above something Thomas couldn’t even sensually process, let alone emotionally or intellectually grasp. It was literally an urban jungle. Skyscrapers of bizarrely fantastic geometrical shapes and surface structures were blushing out of the ground next to gigantic other-worldly trees that condensed to a jungle and back again into lovely meadows. Everything was just so beautiful, so gloriously pristine beyond comprehension. The air was filled with flying creatures. Thomas had seen before so-called birds of paradise when he had been on a vacation to Papa New Guinea, but the creatures inhabiting the troposphere now where even more appropriately labelled this way. Besides, Thomas couldn’t believe that some of the birds, which were vastly larger than anything he had seen before, could hold their stunningly graceful, heavy bodies up in the air. It just was a truly extravagant ornithological fair. But there were many other winged creatures that beard more resemblance to butterflies and dragonflies than to birds though not in size. ‘Aren’t these creatures superb, Thomas,’ said David with a facial expression of pure jubilation. Thomas just wanted to exclaim ‘Yes, Yes, Yes, they are so beautiful, everything here is so gorgeous.’ But Adam’s question had turned again a switch in Thomas’ mind. He had been zoned out, suspended in sensual enchantment. But now his phenomenological realm abruptly darkened again and the mere piece of cognition, that all these creatures were genetically engineered, suddenly rose to phenomenal dominance.
‘Aren’t you intrigued too, Thomas’ asked Adam jovially. ‘I can’t see how one can be intrigued by such artificialness. They are all designed, all made by humans, aren’t they?’ responded Thomas repulsively. ‘That’s true Thomas, but isn’t that even more reason to be intrigued. Isn’t something that is designed with careful, dedicated, emphatic foresight more wonderful than something that is the outcome of blind gene-competition.’ ‘But it’s not natural that way,’ called out Thomas. ‘I see what you mean,’ answered Adam, ‘to ascribe some anthropomorphized character to ‘mother nature’ was a common sentiment back in the 21st century. But one needs to be careful when using the term nature. It stands in need of an exact definition which most people who used it could not give.’ What did Thomas define as nature? He had to think for a second and then retorted ‘Well, I simply define natural as all that which has not been touched by humans.’ A feeling of subtle self-assertion unfolded itself within Thomas since he had given a satisfactory powerful answer he thought. ‘Well, I guess that’s the answer most people would have given back at your time. But there is a fundamental issue since it’s a very ‘random’ definition. Consider a spider which makes a web. Is this web any more unnatural than a human being making iron out of ore? Why should it be? Or ants destroying plants and bringing them to their nest to cultivate fungi? That is natural, but anything humans produce is automatically unnatural?’ Thomas had to think, he couldn’t be defeated that easily. ‘No, I mean it more in the sense what humans actually destroy, namely the rainforest and whole animal species through urbanization and so on!’ ‘Well isn’t than a volcanic eruption also unnatural?’ asked Adam in a completely nice and unsarcastic manner; he was obviously really intent to show Thomas that his definition would just lead to many untenable conclusions. ‘Well how would you then define nature,’ asked Thomas self-defensively. ‘If one really wants to use the term nature in a reasonable manner, it probably would be best to equate nature with cosmos. Nature simply is all the matter and energy in the universe or at least on planet earth. This definition entails that humans can’t, even if they want to, produce anything unnatural. They are part of nature and everything they produce is as well a part of nature.’ Adam looked at Thomas, wistfully waiting for an approving or at least an understanding sign. Thomas didn’t know any further argument or rhetorical technique to help himself. If one really thought about it, it seemed like humans actually couldn’t produce any unnatural stuff. But in this case an atom-bob would be as natural as a spider-web and that just sounded bizarrely absurd and morally wrong. ‘But don’t you think that there is a difference between for example an atom bomb and a spider-web? One can destroy millions of lives at once with an atom-bomb, whereas a spider-web is needed for a spider to survive and kills a few flies at most!’ exclaimed Thomas almost jubilantly since he thought he had outsmarted Adam. ‘Oh Thomas, yes, there is a huge difference, but in terms of morality not in terms of naturalness. See, the naturalistic fallacy was a big rational mistake many people used to make back in the Darwinian Ages. To equate what is natural with what is morally good is quite dangerous. One couldn’t look anywhere in nature without finding anything utterly ghastly. Brutality, murder, genocide, infanticide, homicide, famine and so on are all perfectly natural. Many male animals kill the offspring of rival males. Female organisms of some species kill some of their offspring since they can protect a few better than a lot. There were poisons out in Darwinian nature that could instantly kill thousands of individuals at once. So you see, Thomas, that natural doesn’t mean morally good.’ Thomas again was astonished since he actually considered these statements as rational and consistent. And how was it possible now to fundamentally refute, to fuel this fire of outraged scepticism wildly burning inside him.
‘But aren’t you afraid that something might go terrible wrong like in Michael Crichton’s famous Jurassic Park? If you play God and tinker with an individuals’ genome couldn’t something go extremely wrong with fatal consequences.’ Thomas didn’t feel empowered this time about his reply, but rather frightened and shocked. What if something would go wrong, terribly wrong. Adam looked at Thomas with sympathy and said ‘That’s a very good and important consideration whenever one manipulates a sentient being directly. What are the risks, what are the benefits? That has always been a very crucial consideration going along with the progress of science. Sometimes it turned out that the predicted benefit-risk ratio was much lower than the actual one with terrible consequences. But Thomas you have to consider two important factors here. First, imagine you would have told someone at the beginning of the 20th century that you have a medication for his low spirit that you synthesized, an SSRI for instance. Do you think that it would have spread like a blessing through the world? Most certainly not! People at that time just didn’t understand the complexities of the human brain enough to be very sure what the risks and benefits were? If people had started at the beginning of the 21st century to perform genetic engineering on humans and other sentient beings that probably would have led to terrible consequences since the knowledge was not adequate back then. The second consideration you should make is that after Pearcin had fundamentally changed the affective and cognitive phenomenology of people so wonderfully that empathy was the guiding principle in people’s decisions, scientist actually considered the well-being of other sentient beings much more seriously. Careless experimentation was unthinkable after Pearcin-consciousness had replaced the self-centred crudeness of Darwinian consciousness. Scientists were highly motivated and empathic. They truly worked together in a cooperative fashion, not driven by their own desire for fame, but by an inner urge to improve the phenomenology of other beings. So today, thousands of researchers work in a highly motivated, cooperative and intelligent way together to ensure that nothing goes wrong. Besides, Thomas you should also not forget that all people then were empathic, motivated and intelligent too. They didn’t carelessly abuse or use scientific advancement in a selfish manner, but rather in a very considerate way. And they all enjoyed so much what they were doing! Isn’t that wonderful instead of frightening and wrong?’
Thomas was emotionally stirred. It all seemed all of a sudden so real and possible. But nevertheless he still felt that everything was resting on assumptions that he needed to clarify as soon as possible since he presently was in a highly uncomfortable state of being torn between sharp scepticism and euphoric hope. Then, another problematic aspect erupted in Thomas mind which again fuelled his sceptical attitude, ‘But what if an individual is born who is selfish and cruel and will dominate every one of you emphatics? Are you never afraid that might happen?’ Thomas asked in an anxious way! Adam laughed cordially as if he was so convinced that this would never happen. This made Thomas feel almost enraged. How could he so lightly dismiss such a horrible scenario? ‘Thomas, again this is a very justified worry on your side. After all, most Germans in the Third Reich were innocent players of an evil game. One very intelligent but misguided individual could manage so-to-say to enslave thousands of people to participate in his horror-campagne. Could this happen again! Most certainly not! Consider again the neuro-phenomenological basis for cruelty and selfishness. Very specific neural dynamics are needed for feelings like hatred against others or cruelty to arise. We know exactly how neural substrates have to be genetically-encoded to be wired so that such horrid feelings are impossible. No aversive feelings can even potentially emerge in any of us. This is neuro-phenomenologically ensured. For aversive, ghastly feelings very specific neural patterns are needed. And through the appropriate genetic design it can be ensured that no individual will ever in his life have ghastly, horrid feelings and thoughts that could harm other people. We live in the Euphenomenological Age, Thomas. Everything we feel and think is necessarily wonderful and sublime. And the well-being of other sentient beings matters to us as much as our own!’
Adam’s words were accompanied by a magical look of brightly shining joy. He was obviously so convinced of what he was saying that Thomas was beginning to be deeply touched. Yes, there remained much confusion and scepticism, but nevertheless a warm feeling of acceptance was slowly unfolding in his mind. Maybe, he could eventually accept that this truly and essentially was a paradisiacal world. It actually made sense what Adam just had said. But Adam stopped his sermon for a moment and said, ‘Thomas just look at that!’ They flew closer to the ground and Thomas starred at what he would definitely describe as the most ambrosial, heavenly view that he had ever encountered. Tears appeared in his eyes. Meadows so rich, so radiant and so bright, a kaleidoscopic ocean of divinely lovely blossoming flowers that were not only the most visually enticing jewel-like sculptures of matter and energy Thomas had ever seen, but also the most delightful olfactory therapy to his troubled mind. He was awe-struck, filled with euphoric amazement that rapturously permeated his whole body as if it was carried in his blood to every cell. And the most emotionally stirring, the most soul-soothing element of this heavenly scenery were the other-worldly creatures inhabiting what could only be referred to as the physical manifestation of pure beauty. Thomas saw lovely sheep-like creatures pleasurably grazing, endearing bunny-like beings hopping around, other beings Thomas couldn’t even describe immersed in what appeared to him as soul-unifying communions and all this next to what appeared to be feline creatures which exhibited, no which vastly surpassed, the aesthetic elegance displayed by the most impressive exemplar of a Siberian tiger. And Thomas realized that none of the herbivore creatures were even slightly afraid of the feline monarchs. The proverbial ‘lion laying down next to the lamb’ had obviously become reality. How was that possible, such an incomprehensible display of paradisiacal peacefulness and existential joy. Thomas just kept starring and he actually wanted to keep starring forever, never loosing this soul-curing sight of the most genuine, almost Platonic form of joyful peacefulness. Thomas was sensually, emotionally and intellectually blown away.
Their flight just was a journey of unimaginable majesty. It all colored Thomas’ consciousness with such a rosy, lovely texture that he had completely forgotten to further fuel his scepticism. All thoughts about how this was possible now just seemed nothing more than wonderfully irrelevant pieces of cognition buried under a triumphal blast of phenomenal amazement. They finally landed with this futuristic version of a flying vehicle and Thomas felt almost too weak to get up and start walking again. The overwhelming splendour of this world was so intoxicating to Thomas that he felt heavily sedated. In his heart, he wished he just could go back one more time to that divine meadow and lay there forever, forever immersed in soul-satisfying peacefulness. But this proved to be just a fleeting piece of lovely imagination. Thomas needed to find clarification; at least something he could hold onto. At the moment he was pending in a painfully ambivalent state. ‘Come Thomas, let’s walk around a little bit. I will show you many more details that will make you understand how wonderful it is here!’ Thomas just followed without even considering an alternative solution.
There was again this amazing bustling activity of myriads of stunning forms of life everywhere, a delicate compilation of the most sensually inspiring fauna and flora. It was a breathtaking exhibition of utopian extravagance and magnificence. But now Thomas also saw other human beings who made him feel for a second quite happy since he felt not so alone anymore. However, this feeling was of a very transient nature. Would he ever understand these people here? They were not as he earlier had thought blissed-out on drugs, but rather blissed-out constitutionally. They were designed to be happy like that. He saw groups of people sitting around in groups, laughing and exuding a sense of pure cheerfulness. Some were laughing and didn’t even stop; but it didn’t appear to Thomas as a form of uncontrolled insane hilariosity, but as the most wonderful, sane type of hilarious well-being. He saw other people in a contemplative manner radiating Buddhist-like inner peace. Then all of sudden, for Thomas time seemed to magically slow down as if someone had put in the slow-motion mode. A group of about fifteen people were passionately dancing around, singing out loud and barley covered with close at all. Thomas watched these people in their passionate performance of the most life-loving euphoria. But it wasn’t just the striking elegance of their movements that so deeply stirred Thomas; it was their whole appearance. Some of these lovely moving humans were girls of such a magical beauty that Thomas’ mind was again and this time thoroughly purged of any aversive phenomenal elements. Only a profound feeling of attraction took a hold of Thomas’ very existence. At this moment, Thomas felt for the first in his life a whole-body rapture of animalistic sexual arousal existing next to the most pristine feeling of emphatic-euphoric cleanness. Thomas couldn’t stop starring at these beautiful sirens whose goldenly-colored perfect bodies of the most exquisitely erotic forms swirled around as if to lure Thomas into their arms. Every move they made caused a deeply gratifying wave of explosive erotic arousal and soul-touching love rippling through Thomas’ very existence. He just couldn’t stop starring; there was this almost uncontrollable compulsion to run over to them, passionately touch them and then make love to them, forever. But alone the thought of even touching their more than perfect, radiantly glowing skin that unfolded itself in divinely gorgeous curves to form the most delicately erotic body was almost too overwhelmingly unbearable for Thomas.
But Thomas’ crudely stern neocortex was still strong enough to cause a quick spastic turn of Thomas’ body away from these truly paradisiacal angels. Although Thomas had escaped from their immediate sphere of almost irresistible allure, these feelings of arousal and love were more then just lingering affective remains on Thomas’ phenomenal landscape. He couldn’t help, but ask Adam, ‘Do people here still have sex. What about these girls over there, are they all,’ and here Thomas hesitated, but finally couldn’t resist asking, ‘are they all virgins or do they also have sex?’ Thomas felt deeply embarrassed and it almost appeared to him that he had befouled these lovely creatures by having asked such a crude question. But after all, he had just not been able to control these strong primordial feelings of attraction. ‘Oh Thomas, people nowadays enjoy sex much more often and more gratifyingly than people in the Darwinian Ages. Let me give you again an analogy. To quote Timothy Leary, a Darwinian who was a heavy user of the powerful psychedelic substance LSD, “Compared with sex under LSD, the way you have been making love – no matter how ecstatic the pleasure you think you think you get from it – is like making love to a department-store-dummy.” So you see certain potent phenomenology-pharmacoenhancers in the Darwinian already revealed that the exquisiteness and intensity of both sexual intercourse and climax could be vastly enriched. And to us now, the texture of the most exalted erotic feelings experienced by a Darwinian individual seems much less rewarding than it seemed to Timothy Leary to have sex in a chemically unassisted Darwinian state of mind. We have a breathtakingly delicate neuro-phenomenological architecture of erotic feelings.
And we also have a much vaster array of modes of sexual intercourse. While orgies were seen as frivolous back in the Darwinian Ages, today many people enjoy orgies of both supreme erotic and emphatic character. People can truly love many individuals at the same time and thus they can express their expansive, all-life encompassing feelings of erotic-emphatic love by indulging in one big climactic orgy. But many other modes of sexual fulfilment exist nowadays. Many people still prefer the ancient monogamous way of bonding. And while in Darwinian times the intensity of the first prickling overwhelming euphoric sensations of love quickly subsided and gave way to a more-or-less monotonous existence next to each other, couples here can experience these wonderful feelings of pure love indefinitely if they wish. Other people enjoy marvellous forms of psychedelic autoeroticism in the spheres of immersive virtual reality where they can make love that feels unbelievable authentic and fulfilling to their most deeply wished-for fantasy men and women.’ Thomas couldn’t believe all that. He more and more felt a vigorous energetic arousal to taste the ambrosial erotic delights offered here. However, new emotionally intoxicating sights made Thomas soon forget, at least temporarily, about the most erotic sight he had ever witnessed. They continued walking and passed a loving couple sitting in an adorable floral construct that seemed like the perfect lover’s nest, starring into each others eyes, holding hands and slipping from moment to moment into passionate but tender kiss-sprees.
How was such aesthetic, erotic, emphatic, euphoric, wonderful glory possible? How could these people here function? Were they truly happy? And was it justifiable that they were happy? Did they never get bored? Were they all the same? Did they have a personal identity? Did they ever feel authentic? Were they even human anymore, didn’t they miss something essentially human? And how was it all possible, given the complexity of the brain? All these questions sped through his mind and he didn’t know which one he should confront Adam with first. In the back of his mind, however, there was this hopeful warming glow that Adam could dismantle all these worrisome sceptical thoughts as empty and untenable. Although this seemed very unlikely to Thomas, he hoped for it in his innermost being! ‘How can these people function? How is such a complex civilization possible if everyone here is so happy all the time? How is productivity even possible? Honestly I myself would just lie around all day doing nothing but being happy or having sex! And what if these people encounter noxious stimuli, how do they manoeuvre themselves effectively through the world?’ Thomas asked truly perplexed. He could see so much overwhelming complexity and structure. Shouldn’t this world end up in one big climactic chaos! ‘This is of course an essential point you bring up here! How could we overcome the evolutionary-ensured coupling of phenomenology and functionality? Well this was a very easy logical solution that proved a little more complicated to realize neuro-phenomenologicallly!
We basically realized what David Pearce had already proposed at the beginning of the 21st century. Evolution ensured the pursuit of biologically valuable stimuli that would help an organism to propagate one’s genes through a feeling of value and the avoidance of biologically disvaluable stimuli through a feeling of disvalue. However, from an ethical value perspective it would be so much better to switch from a value-disvalue dichotomy to value gradients. And that’s exactly what we did! We have ensured a neuro-phenomenological system of gradients of bliss. All sentient beings feel happy all the time though with different degrees! So we do have an information-sensitive system. As I have already told you, we are not all blissed-out as you might think Thomas. We are not on one big plateau of orgasmic bliss. We function very efficiently through gradients of bliss. Let’s consider the example of a healthy person on cocaine as an imperfect but useful analogy. A person on cocaine can feel very euphoric and happy, but still can experience different degrees of bliss. He will still want to have sex because that will feel even better than his already euphoric state. If he realized he had lost his wallet, he probably would search for it since he would feel worse off without it. Nevertheless, he would feel throughout the cocaine-high quite exalted and happy. But he can still respond more or less appropriately to stimuli in the environment. This analogy is misleading to a certain degree because cocaine was very unsophisticatedly crude and not comparable to our present lovely neuro-euphenomenological architecture. But it is nevertheless instructive. We function very well in an environment of stimuli of different significance. What matters is that our hedonic tone, our moment-to-moment well-being has been sublimely lifted. But through dips of well-being we can still decide between different actions which will make us happy to different degrees. And we find so many things so outrageously wonderful that different people have different preferences and thus do different things. But they all share the phenomenological property of deeply-felt empathy so that although everyone here passionately indulges in what he truly prefers, no one acts without thoroughly and intelligently evaluating one’s actions in a socially responsible manner.’ Adam smiled at Thomas and waited for a response.
But Thomas needed some time to let these statements go through his head; he needed to sceptically scrutinize them. It seemed to be such a wonderful way of dealing with the world. Instead of managing everything through feeling bad or good, one manages life by feeling either just good or very good. What a great idea it actually was, Thomas thought! He felt sorry that he had never even heard of David Pearce. How sad that he was regarded with such admiration by all of humanity now and was pretty much neglected back then in the Darwinian Ages! But Thomas thought of all the great prophetic thinkers in human history who had suffered similar fates. Galileo Galilee, Charles Darwin or Horace Wells, the father of anaesthesia, all of them were not only neglected but actually ridiculed when they first had proposed their ideas. Human imagination and openness for fundamentally new ideas was just unfortunately very limited. But although Thomas was deeply inspired by the idea of living with gradients of well-being instead of having to bear the dichotomy of pleasure and pain, he nevertheless wondered if these people were not missing out on something, something essentially human.
‘Adam, I do really think the idea of gradients of bliss is wonderful and it obviously works extremely well. But I can see all this love and peace but it seems superficial and fake to me. Do you ever feel truly yourself, truly authentic?’ Thomas asked honestly. ‘Oh Thomas,’ exclaimed Adam, ‘there is not one moment in anyone’s life anymore in which this feeling of I-am-myself-and-feel-alive doesn’t suffuse one’s whole phenomenological realm. Feeling to be truly oneself and alive is based on very complex neural dynamics. While alcohol, opium or many other psychoactive substances often led to feelings of depersonalization, wonderful phenomenology-enhancer such as MDMA or even more pronouncedly Pearcin intensified this feeling of being oneself and feeling alive. So today, feelings like I-feel-like-I-am-not-myself are just not possible. Sophisticatedly wired neural systems ensure that authenticity and aliveness are intensely felt in every moment of one’s conscious existence.’ If that was actually true, thought Thomas. How wonderful this must feel. And increasingly he felt a powerful urge to feel like that for just a moment to see if it was actually possible. He just wanted to try a substance and see if an enhancement of authenticity and aliveness was possible. Conceptually, it seemed so difficult to envision for him.
‘But isn’t everyone the same after all! All people here seem so equally happy! How can there be diversity of personality if no one has any weaknesses anymore? And what about personal freedom and growth, how can I choose what I want to be if I am a genetically determined person?’ Thomas passionately put forth since this thought truly disturbed, almost outraged him. ‘It couldn’t be more different than that. But first ask yourself if everyone feels authentic and unique, is there really a need to be truly different? I don’t think so, but this is beside the point since everyone is actually different here. We don’t make the genetic code of every sentient being the same. There are billions of different possibilities of how neural circuits can be wired. We have just ensured that no one can experience aversive feelings anymore, but only sublime state-spaces. So there are still vast differences in people’s preferences, thoughts and emotional nuances. Just look around Thomas. You see very lively and active people, others are contemplative, David and I are very motivated scholars and you would regard us as heavy workaholics. But we are all so unimaginably happy, every moment. There are very productive and creative artists, there are athletes, philosophers, architects, scientists of all flavours; the list just doesn’t end. The big difference to the Darwinian Ages is that everyone can completely fulfil his innermost desires and develop personally. Besides Thomas, we find a much wider range of environmental stimuli significant and worth pursuing. I will later explain to you how this is neuro-phenomenologically ensured.
Yes, I know the sentiment that everyone could become whatever he wanted to be through hard work and determination was a very wide-spread in the Darwinian Ages. However, it was more neo-cortically-mediated wishful thinking than affective phenomenal reality. Genes were just outstandingly strong dispositions that shaped one’s personality in a very deterministic manner. As I have already pointed out to you earlier, at the beginning of the 21st century it was already known that there was a serotonin transporter polymorphism that predisposed people either to be happy and social or depressive and anti-social. People with a certain amino acid sequence of the serotonin transporter were much more likely to have a depressive and anxious temper. Yes of course, these people could work very hard and achieve a lot. But the phenomenological price they had to pay was high and unpleasant. They had to go a very difficult path; they would just rarely be in a great mood or enjoy dealing with other people. They truly were genetic losers, which evolution ensured to exist through stable genetic polymorphisms. There are many other examples of genetic polymorphisms with tragic and unfair phenomenal consequences. So personal freedom and self-determination in the Darwinian Ages were not much more than empty verbalisms. As I have told you earlier, evolution didn’t enable neocortical cognitive abilities to have influential power over sub-neocortically arising emotional-instinctual feelings. Yes one could follow Leo Tolstoy’s saying, ‘If you want to be happy, be’! But that was nothing more than an empty neo-cortically supported verbalism that denied the strong neuro-phenomenal independence of the sub-neocortically arising affective experiential space. One could say all day long that one was truly happy, but one unfortunately wouldn’t feel the actual phenomenal texture of happiness. Otherwise, antidepressants, which much more effectively abolished the texture of phenomenal unpleasantness than cognitive-emotive self-help, certainly would have never become that popular.
But Thomas today personal freedom and self-determination have actual phenomenal significance since one can truly become whatever one wants to be. First, we have genetically designed a neocortical neural system that has strong influence over affective neural structures. So, one can actually choose how one wants to feel to a certain degree. I can more-or-less freely choose how my affective experiental space is actually textured. But while this neuro-phenomenal tool of emotional self-selection is plastic only to a certain degree which however vastly surpasses the meagre degree of Darwinian emotion-selection plasticity, we can make striking changes to how we feel temporarily through wonderful pharmacoenhancers or long-lastingly through gene-therapy. No more bruised and shattered self-images exist. People are not anymore perpetually tortured by unattainable ideal self-images. Deeply satisfied self-acceptance and self-love suffuses every moment of one’s existence here in the Euphenomenological Age. Life has become one wonderful, soul-satisfying climax of self-discovery and self-realization that happens in the most emphatic manner and not in the brutal Darwinian self-centred elbow-technique way of purely egotistic self-assertion. Besides people don’t have to spend one second of their lives doing something they don’t thoroughly enjoy. Everything that is essential for the well-functioning of our world but that we have decided is not worth doing has been sophisticatedly automatized. You know it yourself, how many people in the Darwinian Ages had to perform menial labor that was absolutely not enriching and rewarding for those who had to do it. Sitting all day in a cubicle and doing nothing but filling out paper-work was just no blessing for one’s mind. Again, it was rationalized by society. It was better for people to sooth their own mind by convincing themselves that they should be grateful to have a job than to lament the phenomenal unpleasantness of their existence. But in retrospect, it was just another form of slavery.’ This was a brutal blow right into Thomas’ stomach. His self-defence mechanisms only ephemerally flared up trying to vehemently refute Adam’s statement, but were soon subdued by a powerful feeling of self-honesty. Yes, thought Thomas to himself, his job was most of the time merely an existential necessity rather than a personally deeply fulfilling activity. Did he thoroughly enjoy every moment of his work? Thomas however poignantly realized that he should have rather phrased the question in this way: Did he ever thoroughly enjoy doing his job? And wasn’t every moment that he didn’t thoroughly enjoy in some sense a lost moment of his life. He thought about the economical principle of opportunity cost. A firm not only has to take the actual costs of production for a good into account, but also the lost financial gain from producing something else, something that might be much more worthwhile to produce. Didn’t the same principle apply with even more significance to his well-being?
‘Almost everyone,’ continued Adam, ‘looked forward to the so-called weekend. But Thomas, in our Euphenomenological Age we don’t need that anymore. Every moment of everyone’s life is filled with a soul-satisfying sense of purpose, love and joy. We all love our existence so dearly that death is even for us very unwelcome.’ Death! Thomas couldn’t believe that he just had heard that word out of Adam’s mouth with such ease. So there was a bad side after-all, a ghastly part of this paradisiacal life. ‘You all die at some point?’ Thomas asked deeply irritated. ‘Yes, unfortunately we do. Anti-aging is progressing very fast. Humans nowadays live a few hundred years longer than in the Darwinian Ages but eventually we still perish although this might soon not happen anymore. Science is rapidly progressing! But death compared to the Darwinian Ages doesn’t evoke any negative feelings in us. If a beloved one dies, we experience a very gross dip in our well-being, but nevertheless we are not sad or depressed. Would you truly want anyone you love to suffer when you die? Or would you rather want him to just deeply miss you because he truly cared for you but nevertheless feel happy?’ Thomas was confused. If he actually considered this scenario he had to agree. If one loved someone dearly one would never want that someone to truly suffer, even if one died. Rather one should only miss the ceased, but still not be sad. ‘But how is that possible? I don’t completely understand that’ asked Thomas perplexed. ‘Well, think again about our gradients of bliss neuro-phenomenology. We can feel much less happy. And when a beloved one dies, one feels much less happy and deeply misses that someone. But our affective experiental space is never unpleasantly textured. True soul-wrenching sadness, depression and pain are just completely unknown to us!’
But wasn’t being sad sometimes a very soul-soothing state of mind, Thomas thought to himself? Wasn’t it wrong that they were deprived of ever feeling actually sad? ‘I just wonder if you ever feel that you would like to know what it feels like to be sad or in pain. I sometimes like being sad and feel that it is something very human! Are you not missing out on something that is essentially human?’ ‘Well, Thomas to be perfectly honest, no one in this world would ever want to feel pain or sad. We all know what if feels like to be less happy through our gradients of bliss system. We experience dips of well-being and just thinking about choosing to feel much less happy so that the texture changes from well-being to ill-being is just unthinkable to everyone here. Everyone could if he wanted to through gene-potentially create neural structures that would texture his phenomenology negatively, but no one in the history of the Euphenomenological Age has ever done that and I can assure will never do it. Curiosity could never overcome the powerful inherent tendency to feel happy rather than sad. Now, you say that you like to be sad sometimes. First, this is a neocortically-mediated rationalization that doesn’t change the actual phenomenal unpleasantness of the raw feel of sadness. What you describe as liking to be sad is not the ‘raw feel’ of sadness or pain but rather affective textures that go along with it such as the positive feelings of letting go and acceptance, deep love, peacefulness, tranquillity, soul-soothing yearning and nostalgia. However, all these positive aspects of being sad can still be felt. We still do feel today true authentic love whose depth and intensity are far beyond those a Darwinian could possibly experience with his undernourished neuro-phenomenology of love. We still do cry out of consummate love and joy, often for hours when we are deeply touched within. We still passionately yearn and cherish memories. Besides, today we use very sophisticated phenomenology-pharmacoenhancers that enable humans to accentuate and enrich the texture of certain state-spaces. One can for example take powerful motivators, emphatogens, entactogens, psychedelics, etc. One will still always feel happy, empathic, euphoric and motivated, but one can change in a very precise way the textural composition of one’s phenomenology. Thus, if one wants to spend an evening of romance, instead of enjoying the weak inhibitory and aphrodisiac effects of ethyl alcohol, one can take a powerful magical love-elixir that will fill every moment with a serotonin-oxytocin-mediated surge of the most heavenly love that is unfortunately quite inconceivable to you. So no one here misses out one anything positive, only on the horridness of the raw feel of emotional despair.’
Thomas was quite intrigued but he was reluctant to dismiss his belief that even in the Darwinian world people were truly happy and experienced passionate love without the need for gene-therapy or drugs. ‘But what about all those people in the Darwinian Ages who were actually happy and satisfied. They could experience love in wonderful ways and didn’t need genetically engineering nor sophisticated drug cocktails,’ Thomas said with a strong conviction. ‘I am sure Thomas that some people in the Darwinian Ages were quite happy and could experience deep love. But there are again two things you should keep in mind. All those individuals were very lucky since many other people had to undergo terrible emotional pain that was so horrid that a lot of them chose suicide instead of going on with their suffering. And what if a beloved one died of those truly happy people? You think they didn’t unnecessarily suffer terribly. And how should that have ever changed through mere environmental reforms? Should this suffering have been continued indefinitely? Only a fundamental restructuring of the neuro-phenomenological architecture of the affective consciousness could help sustainably and for everyone. Why should just a few lucky individuals enjoy live while others were withering in the spheres of agonizing emotional pain? Why shouldn’t all people be truly happy and able to experience love? And that is important!
How do we know that we are all really happier than people for instance at the beginning of the 21st century? This can be answered by again appealing to our vastly different brains. A Darwinian who took for example MDMA had extremely elevated serotonin and oxytocin levels and a slightly activated dopamine-system. It was actually much more complicated than that, but let’s not go too far away from the crux of the point I want to make. Thus, if a Darwinian was ‘naturally’ feeling good he would nevertheless feel so much better on MDMA since it enriched certain neuro-chemical processes that evolution just not enabled humans to experience under any environmental circumstances. Only certain moments of for example giving birth to a child were similar and also only for a few individuals to an MDMA-like consciousness. The neural fabric of our brain is much richer and sophisticated than that of people in the Darwinian Ages so that we necessarily feel better and are nicer towards each other.
Thomas, I think it’s time for me to give you a short overview of what we have done in this respect to clarify some things. First of all, the nervous system of people today gets shaped into a formidable construct of matter and energy already from the very beginning. Neurodevelopment happens in a much more refined manner. Neurodevelopment is marked by an elaborate form of synaptogenesis, where dendritic arborisation occurs in a manner that ensures an affluence of proper synaptic connections way beyond the meagre Darwinian level of synaptic richness. Precise, advantageous neuronal selection, migration and myelination ensure that no malfunctioning circuits are there from the start. Pruning is very clean and the possibility of potentially harmful neural overexcitation that could lead to psychotic mental illnesses has been genetically banned from the neural realm. Overall I can say that we have a much more prosperous, flourishing and homeostatically harmonious trimonoaminergic system. Serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine work together in a fantastic harmony that ensures a sublime phenomenology. Negative Feedback, the fuel of the hedonic treadmill, has been abolished where it was unwanted. This has been accomplished through the unimaginable precise and systematic purging of the ‘auto-receptor burden’ which figuratively spoken brutally put an end to every neuron’s neurotransmittoral liveliness. More scientifically put, we genetically eradicated autoreceptors, somatodendertic as well as synaptic, in specific brain areas where they hampered neurochemical processes out of which wonderful phenomenal well-being emerges. We basically engineered certain nerve cells to do what old-fashioned phenomenology-pharmacoenhancers such as MDMA already did, a overpowering flood-like release of neurotransmitters, all the time and without negative repercussions, an ingenious design of glorious phenomenal benefit. But of course, it was all very complicated and we needed to carefully balance the seasonings in the stew of the brain. The Darwinian mind already had its own lovely natural pharmacopoeia. It used its own morphine known as beta-endorphine, its own marijuana known as anandamide and many more endogenous substances making up an elaborate endogenous polypharmacy. However, evolution unfortunately didn’t design the mind to be able to perpetually experience the delightful phenomenal effects of these endogenously administered drugs. Only minute amounts of them were produced that where highly activity-conditional. They were so-to-say the chains with which our genes enslaved us.
While back in the beginnings of neuropsychpharmacology the trimonoaminergic system was the main target for phenomenology-enhancement, an eye-opening plethora of other neurotransmitter systems has been targeted so far. But not only the process of neurotransmission itself has been astonishingly improved, but also the efficiency of signal transduction cascades. To get a little more specific Thomas, one of the striking differences between our Post-Darwinian neuro-euphenomenology and the Darwinian neuro-phenomenology concerns the neural architecture of so-called hedonic spots. A keyplayer in this respect is the phylogenetically well-conserved mesocorticolimbic dopamine system. First, we have to distinguish between two separate neural systems, the dopaminergic and opioidergic both of which texture one’s affective experiental space differently, though sometimes in a not easily discernable manner. While the mesolimbic dopamine system generally textures the affective consciousness with the qualia ‘wanting’, the mesolimbic opioid system colors one’s affective space with the qualia ‘liking’. However, the qualia ‘wanting’ can be experienced in many different phenomenal flavours. It can range from the weak desire to eat to the most exalted feeling of life-loving euphoria. While the qualia ‘liking’ refers to the ‘raw feeling’ of pleasure, it can vary as well in its phenomenal character. It can be the mild pleasure gained from eating to the sublime pleasure of a full-blown orgasm. The two qualia ‘wanting’ and ‘liking’ can be phenomenologically highly intertwined leading to a texture-mixture of subjectively rewarding feelings. So we have enhanced both the dopaminergic and opioidergic system with much finesse.
The mesolimbic system is a complex neural construct with many substructures. Especially important for phenomenology-enhancement was the restructuring of its shell. Thomas, there is a lot of overwhelming complexity that requires a deep understanding of neurochemistry, so I will spare you details. But I still want to mention some wonderful features of our heavenly neuro-phenomenological architecture. In the medial shell of the nucleus accumbens, which is part of the mesolimbic system, there are special types of neurons called GABAergic medium spiny projection neurons which fire usually quite vigorously in both the rostral and dorsal part of the medial shell of the nucleus accumbens. Now, dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens disrupts the firing of these GABAergic medium spiny projection neurons which has quite magnificent phenomenal effects, namely a feeling of wanting that can take on as already mentioned various textural flavours. If these neurons are strongly disrupted in the rostral part of the medial shell of the nucleus accumbens an ambrosial feeling of euphoric bliss is the consequence. In the Darwinian Ages such a feeling was very rare and completely encephalised. Evolution ensured that only objects of high fitness value that could powerfully propagate one’s genes such as sexual partners induced such a feeling or later on in the Darwinian Ages powerful dopaminergic drugs such as cocaine, which unfortunately couldn’t sustainably perform their action. However, if the firing of glutamate neurons in the dorsal part of the medial shell of the nucleus accumbens was disrupted this led to a feeling of aversion. Take the analogy of a car with forward and backward drive. Evolution ensured that the car stands pretty much still when nothing happens. If a potentially aversive stimulus is experienced the backward drive is put in and the car tries to get away from it and moves towards phenomenological unpleasantness. If a potentially beneficial stimulus is encountered the car puts in the forward drive and moves towards phenomenological pleasantness. However, we have done two ingenious things to ensure the most pleasant phenomenology. We have first increased the number of mesolimbic dopamine neurons substantially and tuned up the constant firing of dopamine neurons in the rostral part of the medial shell of the nucleus accumbens and completely gotten rid of glutamate firing disruption in the dorsal part, thereby abolishing phenomenal unpleasantness. Of course, a lot more had to be done to ensure a complete lack of phenomenal unpleasantness in every sentient being. But this was a very important first step. Now, as I have already mentioned, a constantly high feeling of euphoric bliss would prevent us from interacting with our environment in an efficient way. Thus although we have vastly tuned up the dopamine firing rates, we have also ensured differential firing rates to mediate information-sensitivity. This is the neural basis for our phenomenal system of gradients of bliss. Thomas, every waking moment of our existence is marked by the most exalted feeling of live-loving euphoria mediated by vigorous dopamine firing.
But not only that Thomas, we have also insightfully and efficiently reconfigured the neural substrates for phenomenal liking. There is a large hedonic hotspot network that stretches throughout the brain, however three components are fundamental keyplayers, namely again the rostrodorsal region of the medial shell of the nucleus accumbens, the caudal portion of the ventral pallidum and the parabrachial nucleus of the brainstem pons. Here the firing rates of opioidergic and endocannabinoidergic neurons texture one’s affective space with pleasure. Again, what we have accomplished is a higher moment-to-moment de-encephalised feeling of emotional well-being. Imagine you’re eating one of your favourite foods. Now dissociate the phenomenology in your brain from the food. We now just feel as good or even better without having to eat. But again, gradients of pleasure mediated through differential firing rates of opioidergic and endocannabinoidergic neurons ensure that we feel even better when we eat or perform certain activities. Isn’t it wonderful Thomas!’ Thomas was blown away. All that neurobabble sounded so scientific and convincing. Thomas believed that the man knew exactly what he was talking about since he radiantly exuded that’s sense of genuine, friendly trust-worthiness that Thomas had never encountered before.
But if all that was true, then these people here actually felt better than Darwinians ever could since their brains were intelligently and wonderfully designed, instead of just put together by the crude evolutionary logic of competition among selfish genes. ‘But Thomas the fabulous redesign of the mesolimbic dopamine system was a fundamental but nevertheless small step in comparison to the full scope of phenomenology-enhancement. The serotonin and oxytocin systems, both of which were necessary for the full magic of our affective consciousness, proved much more complicated to restructure. As already mentioned, by the beginning of the 21st century 15 naturally occurring serotonin receptor subtypes had been identified and this number did gradually increase. Today, we know 37 different serotonin receptor subtypes; most of them are however the remarkable design of human ingenuity and not evolution. Very efficient signal transduction cascades that are coupled with these receptors allow access to very richly textured new state-spaces and sub-state-spaces. We have for example four magnificent distinct emphatic-euphoric sub-state-spaces. It is personal taste which one prefers and through sophisticated phenomenology-pharmacoenhancers and somatic gene-therapy they can be preferentially accessed. I for example love the so-called y4-emphatic-euphoric sub-state space. How does it feel like? I can’t tell you that; it is entirely inconceivable to you, for now at least. Today we have fantastic immersive virtual reality programs that can translate one’s phenomenology into representational objects so that one doesn’t need to solely rely on language to share one’s experience. But this virtual reality tool relies on the fact that people can access similar phenomenological realms. You are unfortunately completely unfamiliar with them, but I promise you, we have a lot waiting for you Thomas. Have you ever thought about making use of our phenomenology-enhancement technology?’ asked Adam compassionately curiously. Thomas was paralyzed and speechless for a second. Of course, in the back of his mind this thought had been increasingly nurtured through everything he had been witnessing here. If he only could get one ephemeral glimpse into the phenomenal realms they referred to as euphenomenology. After that maybe all his worries and his burden-some scepticism would pleasantly dissolve into pure emphatic euphoria! This thought already caused a rush of euphoric excitement vigorously stimulating every cell in Thomas’ body. But maybe he would just see the big shallow illusion of what was luringly offered to him as authentic unsurpassed emotional well-being. He just wanted to try it out.
After all, wasn’t that his obligation? How could one argue verbally if the crux of the argument was not verbal in nature but purely experiental? Wouldn’t it be irrational of Thomas to keep on arguing with empty a priori arguments instead of powerful empirical data? Wouldn’t it be inadequate to hold up a priori scientific claims without performing experiments? Wasn’t it equally insufficient to argue against phenomenology-enhancement without having ever empirically tested it out? And all of a sudden Thomas didn’t consider it anymore a weakness, a way of helplessly succumbing, but rather a self-empowering, rational, outright essential act to experientally witness what euphenomenology was like! In this moment, Thomas was permeated with a vitalizing conviction that he would participate in this phenomenology experiment. ‘Yes,’ exclaimed Thomas in an almost inappropriately loud and energetic way, ‘I am willing to see how it actually feels like! What do I have to do?’ Adam went up to Thomas and dearly hugged him. This somehow made Thomas feel greatly supported in his decision. Tears appeared in Adam’s eyes who said with a voice of pure emphatic exaltation, ‘I am so unimaginably happy Thomas that you have decided this way. You will feel so sublime, you will start to love your life so much. You will be able to think about your family with so much love and dearly cherish the memories you have of them. There are many options we have for you. But to give you a first hint you should take a short-acting pharmacoenhancer that is suited to your genome. I will immediately get such a magical elixir prepared for you.’ Adam was glowing with joy and Thomas was obviously marked by excitement too, though with a hint of confusion and anxiety.
‘But Thomas, before you will depart on your first journey into phenomenal sublimety, we should get something to eat to assure an optimal availability of vital nutrients for both your physical and mental well-being! Besides you will see what culinary specialties are on offer here! Are you hungry?’ Although the anxious excitement Thomas was presently suffused with had largely subdued any desire to eat, Adam’s mentioning of food again highly empowered any lingering affective remains of hunger. But Thomas experienced not only the raw feeling of wanting in the form of the strong desire to eat, but also the encephalized, neocortically-mediated cognitive desire since he considered it very wise to nourish his body before departing on his phenomenological journey. The anticipated strangeness of the food awaiting him was only slightly holding back this potent encephalized affective urge‘. So Thomas exclaimed, ‘I would love to get something to eat!’ Since he now already felt somehow intimate with Adam, he added ‘But I have to admit that I am a little bit afraid that it will be to bizarrely novel for me.’ Adam who was overcome with joyfulness upon this displayed intimacy on Thomas’ side immediately replied, ‘Oh Thomas, don’t be afraid, you will love our food, I guarantee that!’ While they were walking through this garden of utterly bizarre sensual delights to a utopian version of a restaurant, Adam continued, ‘You have to know Thomas, our diet here is very different from what you are used to. To put it in terms of your Era, we are all vegans here. We know that only a diminishingly small fraction of people were vegans back in the Darwinian Ages. Thomas, this will sound very strange to you, but we cannot, nobody nowadays can truly understand how that was possible. We have some cognitive grasp of the ultimate, the evolutionary reasons behind it. But nevertheless it evades our full conceptual and of course entirely our emotional imagination.’ Again a shining expression of profound compassion rapturously marked Adam’s whole existence. ‘Thomas we truly love every single sentient being and embrace it in our hearts. It is so deeply against our very nature to reduce the happiness of another sentient being that it is absolutely inconceivable to us what was going on in the Darwinian Ages, the intra- and interspecies attitudes and behaviours that could in Darwinian terms only be described as horrid atrocities.’ In a quite sceptical way, Thomas who was himself an avid meat-eater wondered how could one possibly know that an animal’s phenomenal texture was even close to that of a human being? How could one equate or even compare the ‘raw feel’, the intensity of suffering of human beings with that of an animal? That was actually quite speculative and probably a way of romantic anthropomorphism. What if plants also could feel? Then one had to miserably die of starvation or simply accept the fact that some beings always had to suffer. Thomas clearly felt relieved though a subtle agonizing feeling of self-serving deception still kept lingering in his mind. So Thomas said, ‘But how do you justify this attitude? It is clear that other humans suffer, they can express their pain, one has so-to-say proof of the phenomenal horridness. Animals can’t do that. They lack so many phenomenal properties we have. On what evidence do you base your argument?’ Thomas almost slipped into an emotional state of arousal.
‘It is true Thomas that we don’t have any actual epistemological evidence that animals have an experiental space similar to ours. But if one is epistemological exact, there is no evidence either that anyone except oneself exists or that even if other people exist they actually are sentient. It is possible to imagine another person to be absolutely devoid of a phenomenology, but to still function like a robot. This is of course just a hypothetical epistemological scenario, but it is conceivable. But we still act as if other people have a phenomenology similar to one’s own due to linguistic exchange and body langue. What about toddlers? They can’t express their feelings with words, but nevertheless one fortunately assumed in the Darwinian Ages that they had feelings similar to one’s own. What about dogs and cats which had been cherished dearly by humans but could certainly not verbally express their phenomenology? Thomas, remember that I revealed to you that an affective experiental space emerges out of sub-neocortically neural substrates, more precisely out of the very ancient somato-visceral operating systems of the upper brainstem. The similarity of neural substrates out of which phenomenal unpleasantness emerged had been strikingly conserved down the vertebrate line in the Darwinian Ages. This makes absolute sense if you again take into account that evolution coupled functionality and phenomenology. Evolution ensured that a central nervous system created a primary consciousness with functional superiority to just reflexive-like unconscious behaviour. All the kinds of sentient life that were being tortured and eaten throughout the Darwinian Ages by human beings, such as cows, sheep, pigs, goats, chicken and so on, they all had very similar neural blueprints for pain to that of humans. In general, there is a lot of reason to believe that all sentient beings with a central nervous system have a unitary experiental space, meaning they can experience one big pain throughout their lives. While other sentient beings which lack the sophisticated structure of a central nervous system such as crustaceans certainly do not have one big experiential space that is continuous over time, they nevertheless still have neural substrates out of which some form of pain potentially can emerge. But as I have said, the phenomenology of this sort of pain appears to have been vastly different to that of beings endowed with a complex central nervous system.’ Here Adam stopped and looked at Thomas with an expression of empathy and hope for understanding.
It seemed perfectly rational to Thomas what Adam had just said. Thomas, of course, had no way of actually verifying the accuracy of the statements Adam just had made. So he either could blindly accept or reject them. Of course, the lure of conveniently rejecting everything Adam had said so far, that all the sentient beings Thomas had ever consumed in his life had not suffered or at least only just a little bit, not even remotely comparable to the phenomenal nastiness of the suffering Thomas had had to endure throughout his life, was compelling. It would have been just so wonderfully convenient to believe that. But Thomas was just unable to hold up this belief in his mind as an honest conviction. He would feel sickeningly deceived by his own mind. The pure, pristine form of what seemed to be genuine compassion and love that Thomas had witnessed here was such a convincing sign for Thomas that those people would not try to purposely make him feel not only bad, but outright soul-rotten, entirely suffused and invested by a sickening, nauseating feeling of guilt. ‘Thomas, please don’t feel guilty about what you have done. None of the benevolent people who were directly or indirectly supporting the horridness of the Darwinian Interspecies Gusto-Torment, were to actually blame for this literally unimaginable phenomenal catastrophe. It was just very symptomatic for the Darwinian Age. But Thomas, this doesn’t happen anymore. In our Euphenomenological Age, David Pearce’s wonderfully ambitious Abolitionist Project to eradicate phenomenological unpleasantness altogether has been completed as I have already revealed to you. We have not only purged emotional despair from the human mind but also from the affective consciousness of every sentient being. I might be a little bit brash here. We have employed the most sophisticated methods of biotechnology, nanotechnology and quantum-computing to perform soma and germ-line gene-therapy even down to the deepest corner of the ocean to spare any being the raw feel of pain, but there might still be a few yet undiscovered small hidden sentient beings that can feel pain. At the moment, there is a global effort to clarify this and we will soon know and beatify whatever has been left behind withering. But anyways it is known with absolute certainty that all vertebrate inhabitants of the plant earth enjoy every moment of their existence in phenomenal realms of sublimety. And isn’t that a reason to celebrate!’
All of sudden, Adam started to dance next to Thomas and a smile that almost resembled a circle appeared on his face. And when Thomas thought again about the heavenly scene of the purest form of loveliness he had encountered, the rich meadow inhabited by endearing creatures, he was all of sudden softly touched within! How could one ever torture these charming creatures, how could one ever kill them for one’s gustatory delectations, just for a transient moment of pleasure that now seemed so crude and wicked to Thomas in intensity of the phenomenal dreadfulness going along with it. ‘Thomas, as you can see the sentient beings living on earth now are spared the consciousness-crippling viciousness of the Darwinian Ages. What we eat is not only phenomenally empty, thus we can neither potentially increase suffering nor decrease joy, but also tastes about a thousand-fold better than the best steak you have ever eaten. As I have already mentioned to you, we have a vastly enriched taste architecture that enables us to experience completely new, magnified, unimaginably pleasurable gustatory state spaces. Although it unfortunately won’t taste as good to you, at least at the moment, I can promise you Thomas,’ and here Adam smiled jovially, ‘You’ll love it!’ And Thomas wanted to eat so badly now, to eat and enjoy a pristine fulfilling taste completely free of depravity.
After a short walk, they reached what was referred to as a Gustatorium, which was as outlandishly wondrous as everything else here. There were lucid screens on which Thomas could see strange visual patterns. ‘Now Thomas, what you can see here are interactive personalized taste creators. We can choose through these ingenious devices the exact gustatory phenomenology of the food we consume. So everyone is his own all-powerful cook. Since it requires some expertise, the exact genetic make-up and the present blood profile of nutrient availability of a person and is fine-tuned to our richly textured gustatory state space, I will have to somehow guess to make your food, but I am sure it will still be highly enjoyable.’ And indeed it was! Thomas was reluctant to take his first bite of the food in front of him since it looked so perfectly aesthetic. But as soon as he realized that he should have been reluctant when he had barbarously munched the flesh of other sentient beings, he took a big bite with a feeling of relief and purity. And Thomas was overwhelmed by sheer pleasure and enjoyment. What it actually tasted like he couldn’t really say, but it was such a brilliantly balanced mixture of flavours that he didn’t care at all. He just continued to eat with great overpowering fervor.
After he had satisfied his hunger in such a novel mesmerizing way, his mind, where a feeling of food-induced well-being was still lingering felt rejuvenated and empowered to take the next step. They continued to sit there for a few more minutes and Thomas just kept enjoying in silence the marvellous surroundings as well as the fabulous aftertaste of the grandiose food he had just consumed with such passion. ‘Now Thomas,’ Adam finally said in an emphatically cheerful tone ‘Are you ready to dwell in truly heavenly phenomenal spheres that have been completely unknown to you yet?’ Thomas was of course not really ready. How could he possibly have felt prepared to do something like that? Nevertheless it seemed the only option that could finally bring clarification and fervently wished-for relief. ‘Yes, I am!’ said Thomas with an almost trembling voice. ‘Come with me Thomas, I’ll take you to a great place!’ They walked for about ten minutes. On the way, Adam picked up the specifically for Thomas prepared phenomenology-pharmacoenhancer. Thomas had a prickling feeling everywhere in his body. He was shaking and sweating profusely. Adam put his arm on Thomas’ shoulder and said with a quiet, soothing voice, ‘Thomas, it will feel just wonderful!’ Adam lead Thomas to a little hill from where one had a breathtaking panoramic view of the ambrosial landscape surrounding them. They sat down on what reminded Thomas of a park-bench, but only faintly. They were encircled by floral exotica of sensual glory and about five meters away a group of bunnies was seemingly indulging in existential joy. Thomas thought that there was probably no place that could have provided a more positive environmental basis for his phenomenal journey.
Adam took out a pill that was shaped and colored quite exquisitely. It appeared to Thomas in the most alluring light. Was this the end of his Darwinian existence? Would he from now on be spared the maliciousness of phenomenal unpleasantness? Would from now on every moment of his existence be suffused with pure authentic life-loving euphoria, goal-directed incisiveness, profound self-love and deeply-felt emphatic love of other beings and would he still retain his sharp intellectual insightfulness? This seemed a wonderful prospect beyond comprehension that however was still under the wishful illusion-category in Thomas’ mind. ‘Thomas you can chew or just swallow the pill, it doesn’t make a difference. It will take about 20 minutes or so for you to feel the first changes in your consciousness. The pill will be readily taken up by your gastrointestinal tract and transported via your bloodstream to your brain where it will easily cross the blood-brain barrier and cause profound amazing changes in your neuro-phenomenology. Enjoy Thomas!’
Adam put the pill in Thomas’ strongly trembling and profusely sweating hand. Thomas’ heart-beat and blood pressure were skyrocketing and waves of anxious excitement run up and down his body. He starred at the pill for a second and then swallowed it as quickly as he possibly could. The next twenty minutes or so seemed like an eternity to Thomas. He was just sitting there paralyzed and not even aware of his surroundings. Then, all of a sudden the texture of his phenomenology started to gradually but intensely change. A big smile appeared on Thomas face and tear drops slowly ran down his cheeks. What he was feeling at that moment could only be verbally hinted at in the words of Alexander Shulgin commenting on his MDMA experiences, ‘I feel absolutely clean inside, and there is nothing but pure euphoria. I have never felt so great, or believed this to be possible. I am overcome by the profundity of the experience. Everyone must get to experience a profound state like this. I feel totally peaceful. I have lived all my life to get here, and I feel I have come home. I am complete.’
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Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Brave New World Revisited (1958) by Aldous Huxley