Julian Jaynes Society Discussion Forum: Exploring Consciousness and the Bicameral Mind Theory since 1997

New Member, Novelist with Work Based on Jaynes' Theory
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Author:  rathacat [ Tue Jul 29, 2008 9:10 pm ]
Post subject:  New Member, Novelist with Work Based on Jaynes' Theory

I read the 1976 edition of The Origin when it was first published. I wasn't convinced that Jaynes had proved the applicability of his theory to human history, but the bicameral mind was a wonderful idea. In the 1980s and through the early 1990's, I published a series of novels about intelligent self-aware prehistoric big cats struggling toward civilization. The first book in the series, published in 1983 was Ratha's Creature. The fourth book in the series, Ratha's Challenge (MKM/Atheneum 1994), was, in part, an exploration of what it could be like for a self-aware conscious tribe (called the Named because self-identity and names are important to them) to encounter an essentially bicameral tribe. I also have a brief imagined description of how the beginning of the transition from bicamerality to conscious awareness might feel.

Like Jaynes' hypothetical bicameral humans, this bicameral cat tribe is guided by a sensory hallucination simply called "The Song," which originates with a tribal leader who always has the same title, True-of-voice. "The Song" is not just an auditory hallucination, but involves the sense of smell as well, since mammals have a greatly enhanced olfactory sense compared to humans.

These books have recently been re-issued and some readers have picked up on the bicameral mind idea in Ratha's Challenge. I had fun applying it in Y/A animal fantasy fiction.

For more, see


Clare Bell

Author:  Celestia [ Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member, Novelist with Work Based on Jaynes' Theory

Interesting, Clare. I do believe that I'll buy Ratha's stories for my daughter. Well, okay, I admit that I want to read them, too. ;)

I also incorporated Jaynesian theory into a novel (psychological fiction), but I'm just now preparing to solicit agents. I wrote as a psychologist, however, to explore the concepts of "mind" and "mental illness," and Jaynes' ideas are one of five theoretical perspectives interwoven throughout. Someday, if all goes well, perhaps Head Games might be offered as supplemental reading in college psych. courses. (My inspiration, by the way, many moons ago was Stone's The Abnormal Personality Through Literature.)

Jaynes would be pleased with our spreading his ideas in our own ways, do you think?


Author:  Celestia [ Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Fictional Bicamerality

For any interested...

Gene Wolfe's novel entitled Soldier of the Mist (Tor Books, 1987 and still in print) is the story of Latro, a soldier living in ancient Greece, whose characterization offers a superb example of a person living on the cusp of bicamerality and modern mentality, as well as of the general cultural atmosphere of such a mentality. Want to know what the experience of being an ancient Greek might have really felt like? Give Wolfe's story a read. (This piece is not the typical story of ancient Greece overlaid with a modern mentality. Latro did exist, by the way. Don't skip the preface.) I'd be interested in your thoughts.


Author:  frankgiovinazzi [ Sat Jun 09, 2012 6:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: New Member, Novelist with Work Based on Jaynes' Theory

Hello, very excited to find this forum. I had an unusual experience with Bicameral -- I read it while camping in Japan and researching a historical novel set in the 17th century pottery-making region of Arita. The book involves a present day man who travels back in time to meet this "twin," and the two set off on an adventure of helping each other realize their potential. While Mr. Jaynes and his theory are not explicitly mentioned in the work, it set the foundation for the psychological structure.

The novel is The Potter's Notebook, and it is available on the Amazon Kindle, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003U8ACIY. Glad to have found this forum, it's been 15 years since I read the work and will check out the posts, Frank G.

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