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Battlestar Galactica and Julian Jaynes

Posted: Fri May 06, 2011 11:10 pm
by logictweek
Glad to have found this forum and site. Jaynes' book is one of the most fascinating and important books I've ever read.

For my first post here, I'd like to say that I think the Gaius Baltar character from the Battlestar Galactica reboot could be seen as a portrayal of a bicameral mind. Baltar, a scientist of compromised ethics, undergoes a transformation of consciousness which results of a hallucinated daemon or anima-like companion, named "Number Six", who gives him guidance on survival and acts as a moral compass. He fights to maintain his standard post-bicameral worldview and is very confused and conflicted about this character's presence, but ultimately is forced to give in and just go with it. He originally thinks it must be either schizophrenia or a microchip brain implant, but eventually refers to it an an angel. It is a very well done show with excellent writing, and this theme serves as both comic relief and as a philosophical element. Over the course of the series, it is explored in many interesting plot twists and character development nuances, and is a lot of fun. I highly recommend the series for any who haven't seen it.

Re: Battlestar Galactica and Julian Jaynes

Posted: Mon May 09, 2011 4:46 pm
by Moderator
That's very interesting... I have heard of the show but was not aware of the bicameral-like character.

Re: Battlestar Galactica

Posted: Sat May 14, 2011 11:06 am
by logictweek
Check it out, it's a great series.

I hadn't though of it as bicameral while I was watching the show, even though I had read Jaynes a few years before. But discovering this forum and getting re-acquainted with Jaynes recently make it click. It now seems obvious to me that the show's writers and producers must have been familiar with Jaynes and were playing with the idea of bicameralism.

Re: Battlestar Galactica and Julian Jaynes

Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:51 am
by misterrosen

Pure sweetness.

Even if we accept Baltar 'met' Number Six only a single time, ti would provide an aural base for all the subsequent schizophrenia (bicameralism) needed to explain his later fears and behaviors.

Gorgeously put.

Begs a question though.

Could bicameralism be chemically induced? And if so, could be weaponized in order to disrupt the enemy force? (as it seems to do in Battlestar?)

Wild topic. Thx.


Re: Battlestar Galactica and Julian Jaynes

Posted: Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:17 pm
by misterrosen
I've been watching season 1 again with this concept in mind. Indeed, Baltar appears bicameral, experiencing a variety of stress-induced visual and auditory hallucinations, primarily centered on subconscious fears about his own well-being. Confused, then, of course, by the periodic appearance of his hallucinated God in real physical form.

However, it also shows evidence of all humanity being within a bicameral system as they worship multiple gods and carry idols that represent them. This then sets Cylons aside as potentially conscious in contrast to humanity that is less-so.

Gods of Cobol vs. Cylons singular God figure.

Further, though this is not explicit, it also shows a possible consciousness link 'between' Cylons. This would lead to a possibly super-consciousness shared across millions of cyber-minds. A consciousness that might 'preclude' the actual awareness of individuality of single units. Until those units are separated from the super-colony that is.

We can 'taste' this sense of separation when we travel overseas and have to leave any of our connective technology here at home. We don't check our emails, respond to work emails, we don't talk to our children as much.

Then when we return we experience a culture shock of connection, milder, but similar to, that experienced by people who work in Antarctica. They have to re-assimilate the social skills necessary for normal interaction.

Fascinating topic.


Re: Battlestar Galactica and Julian Jaynes

Posted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 4:32 pm
by logictweek
I can imagine that workers in Antarctica would indeed experience severe culture shock. Culture shock and reverse culture shock are fascinating concepts to me, as I've had to deal with them my whole life. I'm a "third culture kid": ... 169&sr=8-1

This seems like a different area of psychology than anything Jaynes got into, but if there's a connection I'm not getting, please fill me in.

Re: Battlestar, it's interesting you brought up the polytheism/idolatry angle. I hadn't thought of that. The difference between that aspect and what Baltar is going through is that he is having a direct experience, and the rest of them are just running on custom and faith, with some characters expressing strong doubts about the reality of those gods, in a very modern way.

Re: Battlestar Galactica and Julian Jaynes

Posted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:05 am
by shrimperdude
RE:Antarctica and culture shock[?], it's really about sensory deprivation, & of course something from Genesis about it not being GOOD for man to be alone

Read Admiral Byrd's classic Alone

Re: Battlestar Galactica and Julian Jaynes

Posted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 10:54 pm
by ScaryTerry
You're right. Whenever Baltar is under stress because he doesn't know what to do, he will
always 'see' Number Six with his mind's 'eye'. Then, she tells him what to do. And he does

Pure bicameralism.

Re: Battlestar Galactica and Julian Jaynes

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:10 pm
by misterrosen
Balter, though, is later revealed to be Cylon, which makes 'his' bicameralism identical to that of 'Six'.

This leaves us the impression that Cylons may be bicameral while humans have 'unified' consciousness.

Yeah, Cylons may be networked, interesting facet of the show that was never sufficiently explored.

But...then, later, we discover, more or less, that humans were first derived 'from' Cylons. That leads us astray on all this.

Starbuck had a direct experience, as did those around her at the end, as she up and disappears. Was 'she' a hallucination? I don't think we can accept that. The alternative is that she is angelic, and this holds in some ways with the original series.

In general terms I found the show to be TOO Christian in its orientation. But given its audience, this is not strange.