Cognition Factor is the brainchild of South African filmmaker and cyberpunk Mike Kawitzky. In 64 minutes, the documentary manages to evoke some intriguing thoughts from roughly twenty great thinkers revolving around five critical 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, Ralph Metzner, Alex Grey, biologist Rupert Sheldrake, and author David Jay Brown.

What I personally liked about this film are some of its subtleties, like a mini-debate between Dennis McKenna and his brother Terrence, which reveals 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 of those interviewed provide possible solutions or an understanding that can be used as tools when we ourselves ask similar questions. An example of this can be seen in the first section when with the question of whether we are headed towards evolution or extinction is posed:

Without giving away too much, one interviewee, Libby Hubbard (aka Doctress Neutopia) speaks about the possibility of eco-cities transforming our toxic industrial world into 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. And Terrence McKenna proposes a vision of "The Birth of the New Primitive."

When asked the question, "What is Consciousness?," neuroscientist Barack Morgan discusses the distinction between Darwinian and Non-Darwinian consciousness, raising the even more perplexing question of which came first, mind or matter? Sheldrake argues that we have Buddhism, Hinduism, and Shamanism to serve as maps for the non-Darwinian mind, and if we are able to somehow integrate the understandings found by studying these schools, we may find a key to our evolutionary process.

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 interviewees is quite graceful, showing the need for a breaking down of the narrow barriers imposed upon the scientific inquiry by military and corporate forces.

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 words from Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary, John Lilly, Doug Rushkoff, or Daniel Pinchbeck., who would have added greatly to the conversation. However, that is a minor criticism as this movie is a nice addition to the very old and ongoing philosophical conversation immortalized with the Paul Gauguin painting "Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?"

RS Screening of Cognition Factor

Sunday June 21, 6:30-11pm

The Wild Project

135 E. 3rd St. btween Aves A & B, NYC

$10

There will be a panel discussion afterwards, as well as a Shamanic Energy drumming provided by Joey Levine.

See trailer below: