I have to admit that one of the most complex books that I have
ever read is Todd Siler's BREAKING THE MIND BARRIER: THE
ARTSCIENCE OF NEUROCOSMOLOGY, published by Simon and
Schuster in 1990.
At the time of writing Siler was working as a visual artist
at M.I.T's Computer-Aided Design Laboratory in the Department
of Mechanical Engineering. He had already delved deep into
what he calls "Neurocosmology," having published such items
as Metaphorms: Forms of Metaphor; Architectonics of Thought;
A Symbolic Model of Neuropsychological Processes; and The
And as an artist Siler's artworks have been exhibited inter-
nationally and are in numerous collections, including the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the
Pushkin Fine Arts Museum in Moscow.
But now to the hard part...we need better to understand what
Siler means by *neurocosmology* and *metaphorms."
As put in his book, "A metaphorm is an object, image, concept,
or process that we compare to something else...Metaphorms invoke
the idea of forming, connecting, shaping *some thing* (or
information) in our mind's eyes and hands." (pp.30-31)
However, when it comes to neurocosmology, the going becomes
a little more complicated. Siler notes that his "book presents
a vision of nature as a world of what [he calls]--*processmorphs*--
things that are alike in process but not necessarily alike in form:
from heavenly bodies to human brains." (p. 18)
Continuing, Siler lists three principles of neurocosmology:
(1) Through metaphorms, relate everything you do, see, feel,
create or experience in terms of brain processes.
(2) Through metaphorms, relate everything you do, see, feel,
create or experience in terms of the universe's processes.
(3) Interrelate the results and experiences from 1 and 2.
Then question what these interrelations mean or suggest to you.
One reviewer noted that Siler's blueprint for neurocosmology
might be a new science that links the microcosm to the Macrocosm.
Of course philosophers since Ancient Greece have toyed with this
kind of linkage. But Siler believes that by "decoding the brain,
we decode the universe."
But we need move on, getting into the nitty-gritty of Siler's
hypothesis about *processmorphs," things that differ in outward
form but are alike in process. He cites examples such as humans,
earthquakes, windstorms, and stars as sharing similar patterns of
In his book, Siler provides illustrations that somehow link our
brain's processes with natural processes. For example, he gives
examples of what he calls "Cerebral Fusion: Intuition" and "Cerebral
Fusion: Reason" by displaying metaphorms of the brain in action.
He also discusses processes vis-a-vis processors. For example, he
relates the brain's Neocortex with Time-Space and Information-Related
Systems (such as analog/digital processes of computers.) He also
relates our Limbic System with Energy-Matter and Energy-Related
Systems (such as with fusion/fission nuclear reactors), and our
Brain Stem with Momentum and Offense/Defense Related Systems.
One of my favorite Siler illustrations is a view of the brain's
Hipppocampus, a section of neural tissue from the Temporal Lobe,
that actually corresponds with the layout of a spiral galaxy.
Anyway, we have moved into Nature big time, in the Cosmic! These
accounts are but a small dip into Siler's vast respository of
illustrations that connect both the layout and processes of our
brain with Nature's processes.
Almost as an end note, Siler asks the question: "Couldn't it just
be possible that our theories of the universe are theories about
ourselves? That we have to study everything about ourselves and
our creations--*in conjuction* with studying everything about the
cosmos--to actually see ourselves? The idea implies that *all
theories,* to various degrees, describe aspects of human brain
processes." (pp. 236-237)