Donald P. Dulchinos
Weiser Books ($17.95)
by Nicole Duclos
Increasingly, various biotechnology breakthroughs seem to enable incorporation of technology directly into the body, including the brain. The integration of the individual mind with the information and telecommunication infrastructure marks the formation of a tangible neurosphere. This is the full manifestation of the new species homo electric.—Donald P. Dulchinos, Neurosphere
If one could say only one thing about Neurosphere: The Convergence of Evolution, Group Mind, and the Internet, it is this: it is exceedingly ambitious. In only 208 pages Donald Dulchinos argues that the World Wide Web is the central nervous system for the world body, a collective or global mind; the next step in the evolution of consciousness. Using the concept of the noosphere (rewording it to a more amicable “neurosphere”) coined by the twentieth-century Jesuit priest and paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin, Dulchinos attempts to show us that what lies in wait for us on our techno-spiritual journey is a unity of mind so complete that machines and men will have—as has been touted or feared by sci-fi writers since the days of old—nothing but the finest of lines, if any at all, separating them.
Teilhard de Chardin provides the most immediate backbone for Dulchino's argument:
The concept of all-pervasive sympathy is what defeats [Teilhard's] critics. Teilhard admits that much wrong action takes place as a result of ignorance. But very few people do evil, he argues, if they have direct knowledge of the inner goodwill of others. If information—timely, accurate, and verifiable information—is available, it becomes more difficult for demagogues to drive action based on ignorance and fear. We are not insane when it comes to environmental degradation. We just haven't been convinced that the negative consequences our there are connected to our own actions. (Denial is, of course, another strong motivator, but usually can't be maintained when reality intrudes).
What makes it difficult to swallow this passage—and Dulchinos' argument as a whole—is that he puts forth ideas that he simply wishes were true, rather than ideas that have significant support. The parenthetical thought above—that denial cannot be maintained in the face of reality—is one that quickly loses its force due to the plain fact that many of us witness its opposite daily. All we need to do is look at the political field and we see that denial is a means by which many create their reality, the means by which they counter the facts that are constantly placed before them.
Similarly, Dulchinos fails to give any significant support for his theory that the Internet is the next step in the evolution of consciousness. In an effort to support his argument, Dulchinos draws from Tibetan Buddhist texts, transpersonal psychologists, the Western thinker and Zen Buddhist Ken Wilber, and even Star Trek: The Next Generation, using the Borg as an illustration of group or hive mind. (For those of you who have watched Star Trek, the Borg may seem an obvious example, but a depressing and frightening one, chanting as they do with one droning voice—while simultaneously attempting to assimilate every being and species into their hive—“Resistance is futile.” Not a pretty picture for our future.) And yet, the support he is reaching for seems to always leave his argument lying flat. The book is painfully scattered and lacks focus, and it isn't until the end of the book that Dulchinos comes around to what, though it may not be a fully supported argument, at least constitutes a coherent and admirable idea:
Perhaps the Web is, at most, only a metaphor of human activity. Yet it is searchable. All that is good or evil in the world, or any subset of the world that it represents, can me “mined” from within it. The Web underscores the interconnectedness that is here now, and growing.
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Rain Taxi Online Edition, Spring 2006 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2006