The NPC Meme, Aphantasia, and the Noncameral Mind: What if the NPC Meme is Real?
Posted on: 10/31/2018 04:49 AM

by Robert Berkeley

They are entirely comfortable holding contradictory positions because there is no internal dialogue going on.

The by now well-established NPC meme has more than ruffled quite a few feathers on the Left, opening the floodgates to all manner of “analysis” of it by the media organs of the Left. That this itself signals that a nerve has been hit is sure, however, I wish to address something else in this essay; the reaction of Leftists themselves, outside of the context of mediated responses.

To be quite blunt and honest, their reaction is one of outright mockery of consciousness itself. Right-wingers apparently “hear voices in their head” and this should be laughed at, be a cause for concern, and also be proof that the Right is insane. They seem genuinely unable to grasp the concept of an internal monologue, to the point of thinking such a thing must be a pathology.

This is, in essence, the heart of the NPC meme. That it is lost on them is a further irony in it. What I am proposing is perhaps controversial, but I will propose it nonetheless; what if this isn’t a joke? I mean that with all sincerity. I am not attempting to mock them through some layer of irony or anything of the sort. What if we have stumbled upon some actual truth of the matter with this NPC meme?

In his 1976 book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, the psychologist Julian Jaynes put forth an argument, well supported in evidence, that consciousness as we know it developed very late in human history, perhaps as recently as 3,000 years ago. Keep in mind humans are estimated to be as much as 300,000 years old as a species, and by 3,000 years ago, several advanced civilizations had already been around, as had language, art, music, and other things that seemingly require consciousness to achieve. Prior to this, humans had what he termed a bicameral mind.

What Jaynes argued was that consciousness is really the ability for introspection. One of his examples was that literature prior to the development of this mental ability is significantly and qualitatively different than literature after the emergence of introspection.

Perhaps the most defining feature of the bicameral mind is the inability for the mind to understand that internal speech generated by the left hemisphere of the brain, where speech centers are located, was “you.” In other words, this speech was coming from some external source; gods, the muses, what have you. Curiously, people with auditory hallucinations sometimes report a “direction” to the sound. As in, they are able to determine it came from their left, or right, or above them, or behind them, and so on.

It is a very odd thing for us modern, unicameral minded humans to understand, as we place so much of the concept of “you” as “the speaking you” and that these entities are one in the same. Jaynes may have been onto something, however, as experiments conducted after his death do suggest there is a separate consciousness within the human mind different from the “speaking you.”

One of the results of the transition from bicameralism to unicameralism was the increasing realization that the gods were speaking to humans less and less. Certain people who retained a bicameral mind were revered as oracles, prophets, served as shamans and priests, and so forth. These were special people, whom the gods still spoke to. The further removed we became from bicameralism, the rarer these people became, and we eventually reached the point where such concepts as oracular powers are seen as ridiculous.

The key to this transition is language. Introspection is impossible without a sufficiently advanced language to allow for it. This is why there are still cultures around the world that have shamans, or for whom contact with the gods is not a ridiculous idea. They simply lacked the sufficient complexity of language to allow for introspection. For example, many such peoples do not see a difference between reality and altered states of mind; or from dreaming and being awake.

There is another condition I would like to introduce to this, unconnected to Jaynes, and that is the psychological condition known as aphantasia. This is the condition of lacking a mind’s eye. If this is difficult for you to imagine, think of people with tone deafness. They lack a “mind’s ear” so to speak. Aphantasia is an inability to form a mental abstract of visual imagery. It is exceedingly rare, but curiously it is slightly more common in speakers of tonal languages (Chinese being the most well-known such language). I do not think it coincidence that the Chinese market can’t get enough of visually intensive films such as comic book movies that simultaneously place no demands on an audience to visualize anything abstractly. Again, there seemingly is a connection between language and the internal processing of the mind.

In light of the Left’s reaction to the NPC meme, what I am proposing is as follows; NPCs are neither bicameral nor unicameral but instead noncameral, and may exhibit at least some form of aphantasia.

The difference between bicameralism and noncameralism is important. I do not believe NPCs hear disembodied voices and are unable to understand this is their own internal monologue as a bicameral person would, but rather that they hear nothing at all. The result of this is instead of a differentiation of the “speaking you” and the “you” as in a bicameral mind, the noncameral mind is a collapse of the “imagined you” (the state of the unicameral mind) and “you” into one.

For example, for a long time, we have mocked the Left by saying something like "Your cognitive dissonance must be so painful" whenever arguing about how, for example, they can simultaneously hold pro-LGBT and pro-infinite muslim immigration stances. However I have rarely, if ever seen any evidence of cognitive dissonance among Leftists. They are entirely comfortable holding contradictory positions because there is no internal dialogue going on. Mocking them for suffering from cognitive dissonance is fruitless because there is no internal discomfort to speak of.

Another example is the charge of “flip-flopping.” While a valid concept itself when describing insincere and daily change depending on the audience, the charge of it has always been broadly applied by the Left. If, after decades of internal debate, a politician changes his mind, this is normal. The charge is even more ridiculous when, for example, after hundreds of years of internal debate, the Catholic Church takes a different position on some matter.

While the NPC meme is a very successful tool of mockery, I think it would be wise to also consider whether or not, through some joke, we stumbled upon something more profound. What exactly this means, what it portends, and how it came to be are all avenues of discussion, and one I would enjoy having play out among the Dissident Right.

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