individual nerve cells in my sensory organs.
You see the sun as yellow, a single color that is inseparable
and irreducible. I see the sun as simultaneously red and green,
starting at the individual cones in the retinas of my eyes. You
perceive the nearby trees as objects from the outside world, with
beautiful green leaves and the distinctive smell of ripe oranges.
I have these same perceptions, down to the last detail. But I can
also see these things for what they truly are, constructs created
by my mind, formed from the coordinated activity of billions of
neurons. The greenness of the leaves and the smell of the
oranges originate from within myself, not the outside world. I
can trace their emergence through the sea of my neural activity,
back to their birth at my senses.
Make no mistake, I have not lost anything in the
transformation; I have only gained. I can still appreciate the
beauty of a sunset, just as you. My anger flares in the face of
injustice, and I love my wife even more than before. I still
know what it is like to have ordinary consciousness, the way I
once was; all I have to do is close my mind to the knowledge
given me. But why would I want to? I am a blind man that has
been given sight. Today I am aware of everything in my brain,
down to the firing of each individual nerve cell. I can direct my
attention to the raw signals coming from my eyes and ears, or
examine the root of my emotions. I watch with awe as neural
patterns emerge to recognize the face of my grandmother, the
smell of popcorn, or the gentle pressure of my childâ€™s touch.
Each decision I make can be analyzed in the fullest detail, be it
the primitive act of emotion, or the kind of food to eat for
dinner. I understand it all, and can explain it to you in whatever
detail you like; it is no mystery whatsoever. I am Big Head
Bill, a fully-aware being.