My consciousness had been nagging me all day about watching the Charlie Rose show last night. “It’s about us!”, he said. “I promise I won’t leave early.”
Sure enough, I checked the listings and last night was the second installment of Rose’s series on the human brain. The cast consisted of four world-class brain scientists, Charlie, and this really smart old guy who looked like Yoda with a red bow tie.
My unconscious must have picked up on this listing somewhere and, amazingly, my conscious held onto it.
So I got us all cozy in front of the TV with a glass of wine in hand in case Mr. C got too wound up. Rose asked the group if they thought human consciousness was the greatest mystery in science. They agreed, of course, because they are brain scientists. A panel of paleontologists might have thought otherwise.
They also agreed that the human brain is the most complex thing on the planet and humans are it’s smartest creatures. Maybe, but why can’t we keep the ants out of our kitchens or design a truly squirrel proof bird feeder? Or, as Plato said: humans can build a nuclear submarine, but elephants don't need one.
Mr. C was really flying, as he is particularly gratified when his ego section is stimulated. Several sips of wine restored some semblance of reason.
Then disaster struck. One of the scientists postulated that the unconscious is a lot smarter than we think it is. That is a sore subject around here. I happen to agree as I have experiential proof of this: every night on my long train ride home from work I would do the NY Times crossword puzzle. Monday through Wednesday were a breeze, but Thursday and Friday we had to have all hands on deck to get through.
I would work until I got stumped and then take a 20-minute nap. Upon awakening, I was invariably able to complete the puzzle.
My consciousness would never recognize that this was the work of his cohort silently grinding away while we slept.
In fact, whenever something like this happened, he would either take the credit or denigrate the accomplishment by citing some other less developed part of our body as in “I really pulled that out of my ass.”
This was when my consciousness left the building. The last thing I heard him say before he drifted off was “If you’re so smart, take notes and report to us in the morning.”
When we woke up, there was no morning report from the unconscious on how the rest of the show went. I got a fleeting image of Charlie wearing the goofy grin he affects when is either being condescending or is lost at sea, but that was it.
Mr. C thinks our unconscious is either being petulant or spinning his wheels again trying to assess the significance of Joanne Marley showing us her pussy in third grade.
To which we say, as we usually do: “We made our confession and said our rosary. So, get over it.”