Baba’s son Dylan seems conscious at aged three months, but then again, how can we be sure his conscious-seeming behaviour isn’t pure zombie instinct? This song looks at the many things Dylan can and can’t do to signal his consciousness, comparing his behaviour to the “intelligence” found in other animals, sculpted by evolution, which may not be accompanied by any consciousness at all. So is Dylan conscious at three months? Or is he an example of “competence without comprehension”?



You know the feelin’ when you’re chillin’ like a villain
Dealin’ with no stress, like a room with no ceilin’
Just open, and you like the rhyme “–illin’”
So much, you name your first son Dylan?
That’s the feelin’ I had November 12th
When I first held Dylan and fell under his spell
It was three days after the election from hell
When the Trump cartel captured Winterfell
Remember that feelin’? Just ill and disgusted
With political drivel on Twitter from Trumpkins
Tellin’ us the civic discussion is critically busted
You know that feelin’? Well Dylan doesn’t
What’s it like to be a human baby?
Just a “blooming buzzing confusion” maybe?
I look in his eyes and try to read his thoughts and
Find myself wondering whether he’s got them
Or just sensations, chaotic and messy
I wanna relate, should I take some LSD?
So I can stop thinkin’ and just exist
I mean, look at the kid! Ignorance is bliss…

You know the feelin’ when you find the right words
To express your thoughts, connect and get heard?
Y’all know that feelin’? Yo, I know the feelin’
Animals don’t though, and neither does Dylan
You know the feelin’ of bladder control
When you don’t even go when you have to go?
Y’all know that feelin’? Yo, I know the feelin’
Even dogs know that feelin’, but not Dylan

Dylan doesn’t know the feelin’ of regret
Or anticipation of future stress
Is he conscious? Yes… or maybe not just yet
There could be several different levels of consciousness
Does he have a subjective perspective? I guess so
But is it like a fish, or like a gecko?
The kid started out as a single cell
About a year ago, but don’t call it a “miracle”
Call it a triumph of modern medicine
Dylan was an excellent IVF specimen
I know ‘cause he spent a month in a freezer
So we could check his genes first and do research
Sometimes evolution needs a boost
And it worked too: Aww, he’s so cute
But when does he begin to be a mental self?
I’ve seen a picture of him at a hundred cells
And I wondered: when does consciousness emerge?
At the paramecium level, or nematode worm?
I was still a proud dad though
When the kid had a tail and gills like a tadpole

You know the feelin’ when you comprehend
And solve a problem that was tryin’ to box you in?
You know that feelin’? Yo, I know the feelin’
Animals don’t though, and neither does Dylan
You know the feelin’ when you wanna to suck a boob
So bad that nothin’ but a nipple’s gonna do?
Who knows the feelin’? Yo, I know the feelin’
Hetero men, lesbians, and Dylan

Baby mammals, they’re so beguiling
Dylan’s got skills, eating, smiling
Babbling a little bit of call and response
Communicating all of his needs and wants
But that doesn’t mean he knows what he’s doing
Planning, considering, executing
Yeah, Dylan’s got reasons to do stuff
But are they his reasons, or evolution’s?
A cuckoo chick doesn’t laugh or cry
It focusses on host chick infanticide
And if Dylan was a Barbary macaque
He’d be clingin’ instinctively to mama’s back
It’s easy to anthropomorphize the mind
Of an animal, but evolution is blind
And thinkin’ is costly; a baby bird
Doesn’t need it to get its mama to feed it
And Dylan doesn’t need to reflect on his cuteness
To recruit parental contributions
All he needs to do is “goo goo” and ooh child
Resistance is futile

You know the feelin’ when you make a whole plan
In your mind, strategize and revise and adapt?
Y’all know that feelin’? Yo, I know the feelin’
Animals don’t though, and neither does Dylan
You know the feelin’ when you’re lost in a memory
Daydreamin’ off in a thoughtful revery
Y’all know that feelin’? Yo, I know the feelin’
You and me see eye to eye, but not Dylan


from The Rap Guide to Consciousness, released April 20, 2018
(D. Brinkman, T. Caruana)
Produced and Mixed by Tom Caruana
Keys by Simon Kendall
Cuts by Mr. Simmonds

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Baba Brinkman New York, New York

Science rapper and inventor of several novel hip-hop variants. Canadian transplant to New York. Pathological optimist.

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