Saturday, 13 June 2015
(i) In Poul Anderson's Brain Wave, the intelligence of every animal and human being on Earth suddenly increases many times. Rabbits escape from traps. Apes speak. Morons become normal. Normals become geniuses. IQ's go off the scale. This alone changes motivations. Someone who previously was content to work as an unskilled manual laborer now wants to do Doctoral research at University.
Many people abandon all responsibility in favor of more interesting activities but some realize the importance of cooperating to keep society functioning. They cease to pursue selfish or sectional interests. A former union organizer's role is to help maintain local administration, not any longer to represent employees to management.
(ii) Also in Brain Wave, a second change soon follows. As in HG Wells' In The Days Of The Comet, intellect and will gain conscious control of instinct and emotion. That is indeed a fundamental transformation of motivations, one that we work towards in yoga and meditation. In Brain Wave, as in Tau Zero, Anderson develops his premise to its ultimate conclusion. The two developments are respectively inner and outer.
(iii) Of all the bizarre events in the Smallville TV series, the strangest is when Lionel Luthor realizes that he is no longer motivated merely to increase his own wealth and power at the expense of others. But Lionel needs to learn how to be a good guy. For a while, out of habit, he still uses the discreditable means of manipulation and blackmail although now towards more admirable ends!
(iv) To move from fiction to reality, after thirty years of practicing zazen, I can see some of my own motivations starting to change. A peculiar experience. (Addendum, 27 July 2017: This inner process is real but is also much longer and more complicated than it sometimes appears.)