On Having No Head: The Headless Squid Bowl, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, And The Cosmos’s Undirected, Mutually Interdependent Arising

The headless squid bowl sometimes served in Japanese restaurants is odd and fascinating. It strikes me as a metaphor for the cosmos: it goes without a head. How strange. In a sense, even conscious beings like ourselves go without a head as well. When you think about it, who really thinks your thoughts? Do you think your thoughts, or do they just come to you? Aren’t your thoughts happening because neurons stimulated by some combination of genetic and environmental factors trigger them? The neurons themselves are not conscious, and yet they are a condition of your thinking anything at all. Neurons fire in response to stimuli, and you write a blog post, or go to a Japanese restaurant–or, ewww!–avoid both of them. This is what Zennies might call the spontaneous Buddha mind in action, always present and on the move, and which we can discover directly for ourselves to be the case by simply pausing and calmly noticing it dancing all around us and in us. Who are we? We are, collectively, a Mutually Interdependent Arising, the Spontaneous Buddha Mind, the Interconnected Headless Squid. Something like the atheist’s Flying Spaghetti Monster. Yikes.

Think of this Japanese haiku:

The old pond.

A frog jumps in.

Reverberations.

No telling how those reverberations will play out. The idea is something like what the novelist Don DeLillo writes in his novel White Noise:

Who knows what I want to do? Who knows what anyone wants to do? How can you be sure about something like that? Isn’t it all a question of brain chemistry, signals going back and forth, electrical energy in the cortex? How do you know whether something is really what you want to do or just some kind of nerve impulse in the brain? Some minor little activity takes place somewhere in this unimportant place in one of the brain hemispheres and suddenly I want to go to Montana or I don’t want to go to Montana.

Isn’t it odd to discover you have no head? That the cosmos has no head?

__________

 

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
This entry was posted in atheism, atomism, beauty, climate change, david hume, edward feser, Genesis, God, Lucretius, meditation, origins, poetry, science, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to On Having No Head: The Headless Squid Bowl, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, And The Cosmos’s Undirected, Mutually Interdependent Arising

  1. Vincent says:

    I like the analogy I read somewhere that our brain is like a TV set. Nothing happens with the TV until a signal is sent to it. Thus, our duality…..instead of body and spirit, it is brain and outside consciousness. It does seem we are all interconnected in some way. Quantum physics seem to indicate this. It may be the universe is not like a squid with no head but is all a conscious head. Robert Lanza, MD in his books on “Biocentrism” seems to think so. Strange thing this “consciousness” and its influence on life. In quantum physics it is now an accepted fact, as expressed in the Copenhagen interpretation, that the act of observation influences the measurement of an experiment or that human consciousness causes a wave function to collapse into a particle. If so, then perhaps the elusive bridge for a theory of everything….now ending the conflict between Einstein’s theory of relativity and quantum physics is consciousness. I still seek the most important answer to the question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” And, since there is something, for what purpose? The squid lives on.

    • Santi Tafarella says:

      Hi Vincent,

      You wrote: “I like the analogy I read somewhere that our brain is like a TV set. Nothing happens with the TV until a signal is sent to it. Thus, our duality…..instead of body and spirit, it is brain and outside consciousness.”

      I never heard duality put quite like that before. I like the idea a lot. I agree that inside/outside is pretty much an arbitrary distinction, akin to asking whether the gut bacteria that send signals up the vagus nerve to your brain are “you.”

  2. Vincent says:

    Great Ted-talk. It has been said that all sickness and disease starts in the gut. Back to the idea that the brain acts like a TV set receiving its signal from an outside consciousness; it does seem reasonable that the quality of the TV-brain signals understood is influenced by the quality of the physical body. Maybe someone who has bad gut microbes, who smokes, who is overweight, etc. is only able to understand the consciousness signal at an analog TV reception and the person who eats great, exercises, is happy and spiritual is understanding the signal at a 4k HD reception. But, no matter what…don’t kiss a pig.

    ps. I’m just finishing a writing on “Cosmology and Religion” for my study group. It’s 19 pages. Too long for your blog? Feed back and discussion would be nice from your group. Maybe I could put a link to it….have to figure out how to do this. (all authors have this ego thing on what they write and usually need to be put in their place)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s