About Writers, blogging, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op, writing technique

Writing to Raise Consciousness—Meaning and Intent

“Writing to Raise Consciousness”–it’s my tagline, my author branding. Since I write both fiction and nonfiction, it might seem challenging to wrap both types of writing into the same package. Eyebrows raise, faces morph into puzzled expressions, and people ask the obvious: “What do you mean? What do you mean when you make a statement saying you want to write in ways that raise consciousness? Please explain…”

Ask ten people to define “consciousness” and you will likely get ten different answers. Even among scholars who study consciousness from scientific, philosophical, and metaphysical perspectives, there is little agreement about what consciousness actually is. Without agreed upon definitional characteristics, how do I attempt to raise or elevate something we are not clear about and may not even be able to measure or quantify at all? It isn’t like raising the temperature of something through a process of heating. It isn’t like inciting a riot with inflammatory rhetoric. Physics and sociology have ways of measuring those processes.

Is this a blind men problem—trying to describe an elephant, each with only a fragmented understanding? Is this some sort of dark matter/dark energy construct—useful in trying to understand something we really do not understand? Am I deluding myself in thinking I can write ‘stuff’ that is going to actually raise consciousness? To complicate matters further, while playing my own Devil’s Advocate, if one believes consciousness is infinite and beyond constructs of space and time, then you cannot raise, elevate, expand, or increase it in any way. X + infinity still = infinity. In some ways, it is a thorny thicket.

Despite these challenges, I do not back down from my intent to raise consciousness through my writing, nor do I move from my belief that I can actually do so. The method to achieve this works at different levels or dimensions. It also hopefully works on both individual and collective consciousness.

The first level is rather simple and straightforward. There is widespread agreement that a relationship exists between consciousness and awareness. Precisely what that relationship is can be difficult to say, but for purposes of this argument, let us simply posit that awareness and consciousness are related. If I write something about a particular social ill such as violence, or racism, or children sex-slaves, and my writing (fiction or nonfiction) calls attention to this social ill, makes people more aware of the problem, I have raised consciousness at this level.

There is a long history of literature calling attention to social injustice. To name a few examples:

  • The horror of war—Johnny Got Your Gun
  • Racial prejudice—To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Exploitation of immigrants—The Jungle

There is another type of ‘calling attention to an issue’ that goes beyond social ills. Authors often write about potential problems that might occur in order to raise awareness, to get readers to think about a particular issue. What if artificial intelligence got out of control as in Terminator? What would an Orwellian 1984 future of government control and propaganda be like? These topics are often explored in speculative fiction. Robert Heinlein, one of my favorite science fiction authors, often addresses social themes in his writing. In many ways, his writing helps to raise consciousness at this first level. My science fiction novel, Sentient, calls attention to certain social themes. Isolation/separation and how this contributes to competition over cooperation, how we treat people with mental illness, and acculturation to violence are just a few of the issues I touch upon. In my nonfiction book, Pathways to Health, I am asking readers to think about health in a different way, to recognize the distortions and limitations that characterize our beliefs about our own health and how we can achieve better health.

What underlies this first-level approach to raising consciousness is to call attention, to get the reader to notice or to think about something in an introspective way. The process is one of raising awareness so as to effect change. The change may be in a belief, an action or behavior of some sort. This touches upon the second-level, i.e. evolution. I’ll loosely go with a broad definition of evolution as the gradual development of something. The key piece here is “development”–something that occurs as change over time. In this sense, writing to raise consciousness represents an effort to support and promote the evolution of consciousness both on an individual and collective level.

This type of development follows a sequence, much the same as a child first learns to crawl, then walk, then run. This represents increasing motor skill and developmental maturity. On a psychological level, the ego develops along a sequence of self-centered ‘me’ to expanding awareness of others–family, nation, the world, the universe. This is a natural progression of awareness and an evolution of consciousness. This change is accompanied by new ways of thinking, believing, and behaving.

A similar developmental sequence occurs as part of spiritual growth and maturation. Some teachings explain this spiritual evolution as following a path toward enlightenment. I am particularly fond of Integral Theory and how it characterizes the different stages of growth and development along a psycho-spiritual evolution (outward) and involution (inward) path. I am also fond of David Hawkins’ Map of Human Consciousness that delineates characteristic thoughts, beliefs, and actions accompanying each developmental stage of the evolution of consciousness. When I write, sometimes I intend to raise consciousness by getting readers to think differently, to challenge beliefs, to expand and grow in their consciousness. In some ways this represents personal growth and transformation toward a higher level of consciousness. I have often had this experience myself when reading the wisdom of a variety of spiritual teachers. Some of the chapters in my book, Health Wise—Integral Lessons in Transformation, are specifically targeted towards raising consciousness at this second level.

I’ll touch upon the third level more briefly. I also write with the intention of raising consciousness in a much more indigenous way. My explanation thus far has focused on raising awareness and consciousness at the individual level and more broadly at the collective level of society. I also believe that there is a planetary aspect to consciousness that also follows a developmental or evolutionary sequence. The term, “Noosphere” was first coined by Teilhard de Chardin. Basically, you can think of this as not only our specie’s, but the entire planet’s collective consciousness. Such consciousness exists as part of an entire cosmic consciousness. Our planet’s noosphere is evolving towards an expanded capacity as part of the natural evolution of planetary consciousness. This theory/belief is expounded upon in some detail by José Argüelles in his book, Manifesto for the Noosphere.

Many have written about the great shift in consciousness occurring during these times. Rather than writing about this shift or about the noosphere, I am writing with the specific desire of facilitating the shift to occur, to making my small contribution toward the evolution of our planetary consciousness. My individual consciousness, my thoughts and behaviors, and specifically my writing are all generally intended towards promoting the expansion of the noosphere. In my book, Sentient, when I am writing about telepathy and collective consciousness, these are processes associated with the noosphere. Yet, whether or not anyone reads anything that I have written, anything that I do, write, or even think potentially influences the collective planetary consciousness at this third level.

Complicated…straightforward…perfectly muddy? I don’t expect the typical reader to really understand what I mean by, “Writing to Raise Consciousness”. In some ways, it doesn’t matter if a reader understands my intent, my goal. What matters to me is whether or not something I have written has the intended outcome. Does it work? Am I successful in achieving my goal? I don’t know for sure, but if you are at least thinking about these things, feeling a bit introspective, wondering about your own consciousness or the greater collective consciousness, then perhaps I have had some small success. I think of this effort applied in three different dimensions at which I can potentially raise consciousness. In some small way, I hope what I have written has been instrumental in raising your consciousness…


18 thoughts on “Writing to Raise Consciousness—Meaning and Intent

  1. mimispeike says:

    In other words, your writing has a strong Op/Ed aspect to it, presenting problems and exploring solutions. You write with more of a goal. I’m not big on goals, myself.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. victoracquista says:

    I would not put this in the category of presenting problems and exploring solutions. Somewhat loosely, I have three general goals in mind when I write: entertain, educate, raise consciousness. Any writing I do is usually directed toward one, two, or all three goals as they are by no means mutually exclusive.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. GD Deckard says:

    Great article, Victor!
    The long term evolution of individual or collective consciousness fascinates me. Over the last decade, I’ve had reason to research human behavior, commencing about 40,000 to 60,000 years ago. Throughout the tribal eons, the early civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, right on through Greece and Rome to today, two constants strike me. One, is that humans have always wrestled with individual and collective consciousness. Usually through their religions. The second, glaring, thing is that basic human behavior does not change. Of course, maybe I’m not giving evolution enough time. Who knows. Maybe I’m just a cynic 🙂

    I like your operational definition of raising consciousness:
    “If I write something about a particular social ill such as violence, or racism, or children sex-slaves, and my writing (fiction or nonfiction) calls attention to this social ill, makes people more aware of the problem, I have raised consciousness at this level.”
    That’s practical.

    Marshall McLuhan had a practical view of social change. He pointed out that it was not the social thinking of the time that improved factory work hours from 12 hour shifts every day to three eight hour shifts. It was the electric light bulb.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Victor, I enjoyed this blog post and your additional comments. It is clear that you are a very thoughtful, intelligent, spiritual writer and a keen observer of the human condition. You deserve a thoughtful reply and I cannot ham-fistedly [sic] pound that out at the moment. I will respond this weekend re: the points I agree and disagree with.

    But intellectual fencing aside: bravo! Understand that when I write again it will be to both praise and provoke. (Which is to say: praise twicely [sic]. No one argues principles of aesthetics or scientific theory with someone they do not respect, eh?)

    Cheers! A hyper-articulate, crystal-clear, wondrously wrought contribution to the Co-op blogs.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. victoracquista says:

    Thank you, Carl! I look forward to your further response. This Co-op has provoked some deep thought and discussion among the members. It is delightful and refreshing. Dialogue provides a wonderful opportunity for shared exploration and learning. Spirited, respectful argumentation is a good thing to engage in much like I imagine occurred in ancient Greece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, Victor! Not so much disagreement as further explication and clarification re: the ironing out of definitions, motivating first principles and clarifying paradigms. Argument as Socratic dialogue or even an exchange of pre-Socratic Heraclitean aphorisms intended to enlighten, not further obfuscate. In my weekend response I intend to reference the Axial Age, John Gardner’s On Moral Fiction, Nabokov and Richard Dawkins. I simply can’t do your post–which is a goad to further thought and, more importantly, feeling–justice in a few hastily tossed off lines.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks for a great post, Victor. Not just for the post itself but for the extra dimension it brings to the site as a whole, turning into a collective where different personalities, approaches and styles dwell together in harmony.
    As for the content, I don’t have a lot to say – or else a dozen pages. Briefly, I think your first level is incontestable – though many writers don’t attempt it (which is also perfectly valid, though I prefer to be more than just entertained). The second level takes us into territory I’m slightly less comfortable with. Not necessarily because of the idea itself but because I’m not sure if the novel is the best form for expressing it. Though maybe that’s just a limit in my own thinking rather than the novel as a vehicle – Hermann Hesse took that path to good effect, would you say? I’m tentatively attracted by the third level, which I find quite plausible. At the same time, I remain grounded in the Daniel Dennett approach – a contradiction, you may say. But not incompatible, in my view – there’s what we know, and because there’s so much we don’t know, there’s what we believe might be true.
    The hope you express in your last sentence is well founded.

    Liked by 3 people

    • victoracquista says:

      I agree about Hesse. The second level I presented is the trickiest. I like to listen to Dennett and have both read some of his stuff and listened to a couple of TED talks if memory serves correctly. I believe his understanding of consciousness differs from mine. Not saying he is wrong, but I think his approach relies too much on brain physiology and materialism. At least, that’s my recollection of how I understood his presentation about consciousness.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Victor,

    I am a bit of a simpleton so I have no clue what 2/3rds of your article means. But the other half, I think I understand. Ha Ha.

    I agree that as a writer, we have a responsibility to document, illustrate, provoke, and promote the issues as we see them in our works. I also believe in a collective conscience, while it might be different from your interpretation. It is probably exactly the same. I believe in afterlife, I believe that nothing is ever lost and that there is a all knowing something that takes what we do and uses it for the betterment of the universe. Ouch, I think I just pulled a brain ACL.

    Maybe this is easier for me to comprehend. We all live in our respective world bubble. And we all have a role in our respective world bubble. And we all have a responsibility to make our respective world bubble better. I want to thank you for making my world bubble better.


    Liked by 5 people

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