What is Stream of Consciousness?
Stream of consciousness (SOC) is a simple and effective writing technique that entails setting aside a period of time to meditate upon a topic. One starts by choosing a “prompt” in the form of a question or (unfinished) statement followed by typing or writing whatever comes to mind. Having simply a rough sense of an idea is fine too; however, I recommend having an explicit question, statement, or quote at the top, and then begin writing. Additionally, one should aim to continually write, to avoid fingers stopping on the keyboard or pencil leaving the page. By engaging in a constant flow of writing, one soberly explores one’s consciousness, accesses reflective states, and usually is surprised by the unearthed material as a result of mining the mind.
I started “streaming” in April 2018, eventually producing hundreds of streams, each averaging about 1200 words. I found this writing technique surprisingly satisfying for a number of reasons: I entered a meditative state while I typed away for 30-to-60-minute periods; I ended most days with something tangible that I could use for future publications; I’m able to hone my writing and critical thinking skills (e.g. knives must be kept sharp!); and there’s no pressure regarding what I write or its quality.
The current “SOC blog” is a collection of my thoughts and thinking processes. Since I read a lot as a researcher, I figured why not stream about the portions of texts I will have read for that day. My prompts mainly concern a specific or general point from the portion of text I just read. Not only will writing about other authors’ ideas concretize them in my mind, they always lead me to expand upon them in directions I didn’t know were in me.
The act of reading allows one to access another person’s mind, in a way, separated by time and space. If I read Meditations on First Philosophy, for example, I can access Descartes’ mind even though he had those thoughts in 1641 and in The Netherlands. To understand past and current debates that will ultimately inform my own publications, I must enter other people’s minds, and a reliable way to do that is to read as much as possible, therefore, to temporarily inhabit as many minds as possible.
The main theme of my blog, and my intention for starting it, is to intellectualize psychedelic topics. Although most of my writings on this platform will be inspired by philosophy and/of psychedelic states of consciousness, I’m curious in which directions I’ll float down the stream of consciousness.
Notes about my streams
Stream editing: I edit my raw streams for smoother readability. I correct misspellings, add the odd comma here and there, and occasionally add or delete words. The text is thereabouts the same. Further, I either have quotes ready for insertion dangling just below the text I’m streaming for easy insertion and/or I write out what comes to me and then find the proper citation for those who wish to see the source material I was thinking about. The main point of stream of consciousness writing is to get the ideas out, to continually extract them by pulling on that thread in one’s mind, each idea linked in an Husserlian [(retention)—(primal impression)—(protention)]-esque experience of eidetic time-consciousness 🤯, thus one engages in the process of ideation and observes the processional flow upon which these ideas travel.
Podcast Supplements: At the end of each podcast, right when my guest and I finish our chat, I go to my word processor located on one side of my computer screen and my podcast “show notes” on the other side. For these types of streams, I take very short pauses (compared to my normal SOC writing) simply to glance at my unused notes, questions, and thoughts that I prepared or came up with during our conversation, but didn’t have the chance to address for whatever reason. I take the kernel of the idea and then pop it paragraph by paragraph until I feel like I did those unused ideas justice and hopefully extracted even more value out of the conversation for you and I. Consider these post podcast streams as “post scripts,” or as I call them, “podcast supplements.” To access these supplements, click on “SOC blog” at the top of this website, click on the “Categories” drop down menu on the right side of the page, and then select “Podcast Supplements” for Iboganautics podcast afterthoughts.
Disclaimer: My interpretations of others’ texts are my own and I might get something completely wrong. In any case, I’m eager to learn, and if I really didn’t get something, please leave a comment on that particular streamed blog post. I welcome constructive comments that add to or clarify the discussion.