I watched a Nova series the other night that dealt with among other things our sense of consciousness. The entire episodes, which I believe is a multipart series, deals with the human brain. It has always been fascinating how we as humans are able to study ourselves and come up with theories about how or why we behave. Our sense of consciousness, which in neuroscience is an ability of being, an awareness of self, is what makes each of us unique: our thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviors produce what they call an awareness of our environment. 

When I was learning to write in my junior high school days, fifty or so years ago, we as a class groaned in exasperation at having to do a stream of consciousness paper. We had to write our thoughts and feelings on paper, apparently to gauge us as a human individual. I always struggled doing this as I’m sure most everyone else did. In college I read James Joyce’s A Portrait as an Artist.  I became enamored by his use of stream of consciousness, which he used throughout the book. It was then that I appreciated exactly what my junior high school English teachers were trying to pound into our heads. After that I quite enjoyed this type of writing.  

I soon discovered that by writing about an experience through the senses rather than describing a scene in the same format as a regular short story or novella or even a literary narrative, the reader felt even more engaged. Rather than She walked a short trek to the car and got in. I used stream of consciousness and get She heard a meadow lark cawing lovingly to her mate; roses pulsated a pungent aroma and the warm sun caressed her bare arms as she paced leisurely to her car and got in. Now a days, it might be construed by critics as dabbling in purple prose, but this kind of literary device is quite effective in describing our conscious feelings and empathizing with the protagonist. We get the impression she is in a good place and has good vibes flowing. 

We all see the same thing through a different pair of glasses. It is why many police investigators are skeptical about eye witness accounts of say a bank robbery or shooting. While one person’s perception, based on his or her experience, education level, and emotional strength, could be a whole lot different from the point of view of another who saw the same exact thing. In the program a woman is wearing a dress, and there is a background. The narrators asks, “What color dress is she wearing?” I saw a dark blue dress with black trim. But as the study discovered other respondents swore the dress was gold with yellow trim. It seems their eyes were fooled by the background hues and saw one color while another saw an opposite color. Sensory perception is also affected by audio. Another study had one group hear Yanni, while another group heard Laurel. Personally, I heard Yanni. It is based upon how our hearing is synchronized throughout our lives. Some of us are attuned to higher decibels while others are sensitive to lower audio ranges. 

All of this comes as an awareness of our selves. We see, hear, taste, feel different than our best friend or a perfect stranger. Our thoughts: personal, philosophical, or political are ours to debate to anyone willing to listen. The brain with all of its neurons and mass and receptors gives all of us individuals awareness that helps us survive the world we live in. 

Published by Jerry Schellhammer

Jerry, a published author of both published and self-published books, is devoting his time and efforts to his craft after having retired from the previous job as a janitor at Northern Quest Resort and Casino. He now calls Gooding, Idaho his home. Writing is his passion and he now has a successfully published book and another on the way to being published later this year. He has a BA in English with emphasis in professional writing from Washington State University. His website: is available for everyone to see. In it are the lists of published books available both through Amazon and Barnes & Noble in eBook and print format.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: