The Assemblage Point, Dreaming and Memories
by David Worrell
From the Fire From Within: "He said that seers, old and new, understand dreaming as being the control of the natural shift that the assemblage point undergoes in sleep. He stressed that to control that shift does not mean in any way to direct it, but to keep the assemblage point fixed at the position where it naturally moves in sleep. . .."
Castaneda said that dreams were caused by movements of the assemblage point. And yet another strange bit of research I've been contemplating involves patients with damage to the inferior parietal lobes, which govern spatial and symbolic thinking. It has been found that these people DO NOT DREAM. Both of these facts somehow seem to suggest that there is no assemblage point, but since the connection of the "AP" to how we perceive the body was only described in the most nebulous terms imaginable, I still can't quite conclude there is no assemblage point. At this point, it seems highly unlikely that it exists, but it is still not totally clear that it is impossible for it to exist. Not yet. . . Here is another interesting fact: "When the brain is awake, the prefrontal cortex just behind the forehead is most active. This is the most highly evolved part of the brain, the seat of intelligence, reasoning, short-term memory and self-reflection. During REM sleep it is completely shut off. Instead, what is most active is the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls emotions, senses and long-term memory." This is widely thought to be the reason we are "irrational" in dreams. I need to find out WHY they are saying that the limbic system "controls long-term memory" (when they also say that long-term memory is not localized in any particular part of the brain). I just know so little about the research which has been done at this point. I've got a lot of work to do. . .
While REM sleep is actually the fifth stage of the natural sleep cycle, as some of us have discovered it is possible to train oneself to enter it directly from the waking state. In my opinion, this is because the brain wave state involved is actually very similar to the waking state. In fact, several other measures of physiological activity during REM sleep also resemble those of the waking state: increases and irregularities in heart and respiration rate, elevation in blood pressure, and erection of the penis. The eyes move quickly back and forth, as if the sleeper were watching things. However, at the same time, REM sleep is considered a very deep state of sleep. We normally go through several brain wave conditions before arriving at it, and most major body muscles become virtually paralyzed while in the REM state. Yet it is during REM sleep that vivid dreams occur. When sleep researchers awaken people in the midst of a REM period, almost ALL report that they were dreaming and can describe in detail the dream they were in the midst of. On the other hand, only about 20 percent of the time can a sleeper awakened from a non-REM state even remember a dream, and the reports are less vivid and detailed. Reptiles, amphibians, and other older life forms do not have REM periods at all, but birds do have occasional very brief episodes of something resembling REM periods.
Newborn human babies spend 50 percent of their sleeping time in REM periods. The time spent there gradually decreases as one grows older. IMO, this is probably where Castaneda got his "specialness formula" that "infant's assemblage points are free," or that they are "mostly nagual." But what humans know as dreaming does not even exist in animals lower on the evolutionary tree than mammals. Just for fun, and further provocation, we close with the opinion of some unidentified "Mr. Brain Scientist": on the "purpose" for the evolution of dreaming:
"Dreaming . . . seems to be an off-line, cost-effective means of integrating old and new experiences over time. Thus, off-line processing defers the integrative process until the mammal is asleep. The development of REM sleep was a crucial stage in the evolution of our associative brain. This kind of sleep is fundamental to the proper functioning of the mammalian brain. It is the biological basis of our unconscious awareness."
While I believe that dreaming may in fact have to do with these functions, I am also of the opinion that dreaming has OTHER functions and potentials as well. However, I do not believe any of those important functions have anything to do with an "assemblage point."
Replica Watches Replica Watches
We have examples of all kinds of animals from varying stages of evolution to study to our heart's content. We can also study the development of the human brain in the embryo, as it REPEATS all the stages of evolution. And as I said already, the human infant does not begin to dream until about the fourteenth week in the womb, as it's own brain duplicates that evolutionary process and arrives at the point where dreaming is "ignited."
Furthermore, LOVE is an "emotion," and if la Catalina really changed into a worm, she would no longer have had a limbic system, and thus would not have HAD "emotion" at all. "Emotion" is yet another function which evolved with mammals. :-)
Castaneda also said that memories were stored in positions of the assemblage point. Research shows that long-term memories are stored in a kind of a "global fashion" pulling from different locations all over the brain. Removing ANY part of the brain can have deleterious effects on long-term memory. It is even possible to remove certain segments of memory, while leaving other segments intact. There are strange cases of people who have lost functionality to the temporal lobes of their brain who can remember things from their childhood, but cannot remember things that happened five days ago. They have consciousness of a few brief minutes in the ever-changing present, and then . . . a gap going clear back to childhood. Totally bizarre.
The way he decribed the assemblage point, it is the primary point of contact between that which surrounds us and that which we are. What that would mean, if it were true, is that the assemblage point is not only the generator of our experiences, but is ALSO the actual INTERFACE between us and the universe at large. Move this hypothetical assemblage point to a different location and different INPUT is being received from the universe at large. Move it back to the normal spot, and the normal INPUT is being received. The key is that the assemblage point is also the interface which somehow regulates the INPUT of information from the emanations as well as that which assembles our actual experiences. Now one need only reflect that ALL of the debate about the nature of consciousness in scientific and philosophical circles centers around the nature of experience, how it is assembled and maintained --- NOT around the PROCESS of the INPUT from which we somehow arrive at this conscious experience. That is exactly what HAS been tracked, in extraordinary detail, all the various paths of sensory INPUT. They can get very specific and can block sensory input of various kinds, smell, hearing, sight, touch, etc., and that why there is no argument over WHERE we get our sensory INPUT. There is absolutely no need for an assemblage point here. It is as useless and as unnecessary as a pink unicorn with a crystal transmitter.
If Castaneda had said that the assemblage point "the center of our being" and that it was somehow the final destination of all our sensory input, he would be safe from attack from neuroscientists who can fiddle to no end with the INPUT of our senses. But he put it as the point of outermost contact with what surrounds us, thereby making it the primary device of perceptual "input" from the universe at large as well as the primary point of assemblage. And THAT is why it does not stack up.
Castaneda implied that he could move his own assemblage point, of course. And he spoke of things like "the assemblage point position of an old man." He said that the reason we all share the same world is that our assemblage points are in exactly the SAME place. But now an old man's position is different. Well then, if he can move his assemblage point to the position of an old, sick man, then . . . why couldn't he move his assemblage point to the point of a young, well man? And why didn't he DO that so he could stay here with the rest of his party, like he told us he was struggling so hard to do?
Castaneda also said we were going to move our assemblage point's back to the same position they were in when we were born. If we really did that, wouldn't we become actual babies again? In the Fire From Within, he spoke of a "shift below" and implied that such a shift, just a minor shift down a bit from the normal point, could result in turning into some kind of animal. Well, they told us we were going to drop our assemblage points clear down to our feet (obviously implying they would be moving down through a lot) then clear back up to the position of birth. If we actually did that, wouldn't we turn into all kinds of weird stuff, and wind up crying for mommy? If Castaneda's and the witches' assemblage points were in different positions from ours, how did we share the same world and communicate? Castaneda also said that the real difference between male and female was that their assemblage points are turned with different sides facing outward. But that is clearly rubbish, because there is very well-documented research tracing just exactly how sex is determined, by the X and Y chromosomes. In fact, they have traced it down to the exact segment of the Y chromosome which is responsible for determining sex, and since 1990 have been able to directly ALTER the sex of an egg which is known to be female simply by injecting it with a SINGLE GENE.