The Off-Center Viewpoint

By Joe Napolitano



The Spider’s Web

     Have you ever walked into a spider’s web? What about your hair? Has your hair ever been entangled in one?

     Of course it has. Not a very pleasant experience.

     No doubt you struggled to get the web off you or out of your hair. And no doubt it took some effort to get rid of it.

     Most people just get rid of the web and somehow go on their way. But sooner or later someone is bound to ask some questions. One of the questions they might ask is how does the spider spin the web without getting caught in it?

     Asking questions is one way that thought comes into existence.

     Strange as it may seem, there is no exact answer to the question. It seems to be the case that spiders learn how to spin the web without it doing any harm to them. They know how to move on it without getting caught up in it. So while we humans may spend our time wondering about such things, is there any evidence that the spider does the same thing? The fact that the spider doesn’t get caught indicates that it must be doing something to avoid the problem, and that it knows what to do to avoid being trapped in its own web.

     We might ask ourselves, has the spider done any thinking?  The answer is, nobody really knows. It is just assumed that the spider was programmed at birth to know what to do. In this regard, it is more like a robot than anything else, even though it is a life form. But can we be absolutely sure? Obviously a robot doesn’t think. It’s just a machine. And whatever intelligence it might seem to have was given to it by the people who designed it and created it. But a spider is a living creature. If it is confronted by a problem like the one being discussed, can it solve it? And if so, is that true even if the solution is not programmed into its genes?

     And if that is the case, then is that a type of limited thinking?


What To Do With a Cosmic Mind

     It seems that the term “Cosmic Mind” comes from an ancient science fiction fan named Claude Degler. To this day no one seems to know exactly what he meant by that. It was never really defined. Or if it was, no one understood the definition except maybe Degler. And there is no real evidence that even he understood what it meant. But some words have no real meaning in the first place. It seems to be the case that no definition that everybody would agree with is really possible. So let’s skip it.

     Assuming that a “Cosmic Mind” really exists, how do you get one? But obviously that happens by reading SF literature. The next step is deciding what to do with it once you have it. By this I mean the actual “Cosmic Mind” and not just the mere definition of it. It seems no one seems to know what to do with their “Cosmic Mind” once they get one. But that’s not really true. It just applies to most people. For them a few suggestions are in order.

     The existence of an object implies its use. If one has a mind one is expected to use it. Otherwise why would one have it in the first place? Likewise, if one has a cosmic mind one is expected to use it in a cosmic way. Therefore, the hangup seems to be the word “cosmic”, not that it’s a word that causes the problems. But because people refuse to change their minds after reading the literature, they don’t have a “Cosmic Mind”, let alone know how to use it.

     The process is clear: reading the literature changes your mind if you let it; once it is changed, use it.