"Cognition Factor" is the brainchild of the South African filmmaker and cyberpunk Mike Kawitzky. In 64 minutes of documentary Katwitzky manages to evoke some intriguing thoughts from roughly twenty great thinkers revolving around five questions; Is humanity evolving towards something higher or are we doomed to extinction? What is consciousness? Is God a myth? Will a fusion between science and spiritually occur? and What happens when we die?
Among those asked to consider these questions in front of the camera are Terrence McKenna, his brother Dennis, author John Shirley, mathematician Ralph Abraham, Ralp Metzner, Alex Grey, biologist Rupert Sheldrake, and author David Jay Brown.
What I personally liked about this film are some of its subtleties, for instance there is a mini debate between Dennis McKenna and his brother Terrence. I found this to be endearing as I feel like I caught a glimpse of how the two brothers may have exchanged thoughts when they were down in the jungles of South America all those years ago constructing their Time Wave theory.
Another thing I found inspiring was that Kawitzky does not just open a can of worms with his questions, nearly all those interviewed provide some form of possible solution or understanding that can be used as tools when we ask similar questions.An example of this can be seen in the first section when we the question of Evolution or Extinction is posed.
Without giving away too much of the contents of the film, one interviewee, Libby Hubbard (aka Doctress Neutopia) speaks highly about the possibility of Eco-Cities in the transformation of our industrial world from being quite toxic to something more in-tune and in touch with the fecundity and felicity of the earth.
Alex Grey chimes in with his assertion that humanity may be in an adolescent stage of evolution where we are simultaneously coming to grips with both our power and our self-destructive, wild tendencies. Terrence McKenna proposes a vision of 'The Birth of the New Primitive," which is a nice tidbit to let roam around one's thoughts for a few hours.
The Neuroscientist, Barack Morgan, when asked 'What is Consciousness' brings to the conversation the distinction between Darwinian consciousness and Non-Darwinian consciousness that I found to be interesting and enlightening, because it raises another question of which came first, Mind or Matter? A fitting question for this day and age where we have more schools of thought and practice available that utilize altered states of consciousness than ever before. As Sheldrake states, we have Buddhism, Hinduism, and Shamanism, which all provide great maps for this non-darwinian mind, and if we are able to some how integrate the understandings found by studying these schools this may be a key in our evolutionary process.
When asked if God is a myth, some of the speculations resemble great riddles that you can again chew when stuck in traffic or waiting for the train. And if we really want to take it there, perhaps that is all life is, waiting for a train. One speaker's thoughts reminds me of the Russell and Whitehead mathematical argument of the class of all classes that can not contain themselves. This riddle of consciousness is equal parts fun to equal parts vexing, and this area of the film has the capacity to bring one to those outer edges of philosophical paradoxes.
For me the most exciting part of the documentary comes about when the fourth question arises, Can science and spirituality be fused?
Again I will not spoil the plot by getting too deep here, but the coherent thread drawn by Kawitzky's editing of the interviewee's is quite graceful. All I will say is that the call for the breakdown of the narrow barriers imposed upon the scientific inquiry by military and corporate forces is an important one.
The film crescendos at the final question, What happens when you die? And this is where we get to see the brilliance of most of these thinkers. Kawtizkty does a nice job in leaving this question open-ended, because to do otherwise would be a failure on his part. The speculations and educated guesses are great. When the notion of reincarnation arises, I really enjoyed hearing Rupert Sheldrake speak about his theory of Morphogenetic Resonance, which,in my opinion, is one of the most exciting ideas circulating today.
To read my words about what is spoken about in this film is one thing, but to see these provactive thinkers speak about it in this entertaining documentary is quite another. Kawitzky, with his associate Jack Gallager, have encapsulated some great thoughts within a kaleidoscopic field of 3D imagery. This movie is a nice throwback to the late 90's electronic cyberpunk sub-culture, updated with the pressing questions we face today.
My only criticism of this film is that Kawitzky did not include the words from Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary, John Lilly, Doug Rushkoff, or Daniel Pinchbeck. All of these people would have added greatly to the conversation I'm sure. However, that is a minor criticism as this movie is a nice addition to the very old and on-going philosophical conversation immortalized with the Paul Gauguin painting "Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?"
You can watch this film on Sunday, June 21st at the Wild Project on East 3rd street in the East Village. There will be a panel discussion afterwards, as well as a Shamanic Energy drumming provided by Joey Levine. This will all take place from 6:30pm to 11pm and only costs ten dollars.