[-empyre-] Resistance is Futile/ the mind is a muscle

Terry Flaxton Terry.Flaxton at uwe.ac.uk
Fri Jul 5 08:15:16 EST 2013

Thank you Johannes. Firstly I'd like to say that I see all of these kinds of discussions as narratives which can be adopted or discarded in relation to perceived worth - and that is a completely relativistic judgement. So we're already on slippery ground.

Today I've just visited a friend that has cancer and this puts any conversation like this into perspective for me.


With regard Engrams and Exograms I take my lead from Professor Melvin Donald's work who proposes that memory relevant locations or things outside of the body can trigger memories - and these are exograms. What's interesting to me is the tendency towards a gnostic understanding within the narrative - where we humans are intimated to be more than that which is described within a straightforward materialist description - that we are more, because we may live on within data. I think your comment about being overloaded by information is a reference to the gnostic idea that we have been limited in our sentience because if we were exposed to higher level knowledge, we would be obliterated - Possibly Swedenbourg.

I think that you point out a valuable insight that entrainment could play out in us as kinaesthetic-playful. I struggle for an exact language to describe this other level of relationship, not because I can't find the words - but rather because I know that to describe these responses can only be reductionist and therefore limiting - and it is this which I'm really pursuing in thinking about the narrative put forward by Cognitive Neuroscience. Prior theory has sought to describe its subtlest areas, but ratiocination will not do the work this time.

Well - 'the good old paradigm' is ok. Donald himself stresses the scaffolded nature of our evolution - and here's the point real - that what it is that we have been, what it is that we now are, and what it is that we are to be, is governed by conservative evolutionary tendencies that have only one goal in mind - that of developing sentience wherever life is, to then change when necessary, to be and do when necessary and during all of this - construct art that means something as an act of bravery.

It would be good to have a beer sometime.

Best, Terry

On 4 Jul 2013, at 06:08, Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk<mailto:Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk>> wrote:

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------

dear all

following up on Terry Flaxton's postings, especially his suggestion to give emphasis to "practical investigations of consciousness"
rather than resist the increasing uselessness (?) of theory and ratiocinatory construction (obsessive compulsive rehearsing of highly stratified bureaucratic cataloguing of meaning),
may I ask about how Terry understands the exogram or the exogrammatic?

You write that cognitive neuroscientists claim

the human project [that] began simply by panto-miming to exchange information that would be remembered within the brain (engramatically) and eventually export all of human memory outside of our own minds into surrounding reality. Initially this was through a simple exogram like a storytelling, a henge, a pyramid, a book, a film and then recently, telematically.
But with the advent of computers and data (big or small, it doesn't matter) then the human exogramatic project was coming to its conclusion - everything has been placed outside of ourselves into surrounding reality...

is not the exogrammatic an import, rather than exported? is not exogrammatic knowledge and memory and kinetic and symbolic forms continuously re-adapted by the bodymind in our movement through the world, by necessity, as the unconscious, or engrammatic information, might be error prone to some extent, or overloaded, if it is true that the essential elements of our sense of the self – of the propensity for action and our memory – act at an unconscious level, not in the sense that they regard something being suppressed,  yet in the sense of a functional unconscious situated beyond the boundaries of awareness for purely operative reasons? I read somewhere that if all mental operations were carried out under the control of consciousness, human beings would be overloaded and therefore incapable of action.

May I shift momentarily from ISEA context to a small Montessori school in Houston, where yesterday by fluke if accident, I was invited to teach a dance class to 4 and 5-year olds?  The teachers there had told me that by age three, much of the child's development is in place, and by age six, there isn't too much more that can be affected and changed anymore as developmental pattern or identity has been set in motion  (through the mix of genetic information, learning, the sensorimotor functions, language acquisition and environmental influence).  I had not known really that our bodymind is shaped crucially at such an early stage, and  am ignorant of developmental psychology.

But I was experiencing the beauty of, if you want, the pantomine and the analogical imagination in the young children, as they went through a series of exercises with me culled from Yoga, sports, dance, vocal training, improvisation, music, rhythm, and the realm of kinaesthesia that I think has not been addressed yet in Terry's postings and the responses. I noticed that the children had no preconceived ideas of dance, but they enjoyed enacting all kinds of movements, also inventing motion on the spot or finding comparisons to what they saw others do (this is group learning, we were 18 people in the room), so external information is adopted and also internal information may not be cognitively known except in terms of motorsensory experience as well as through memory?  When I asked the children whether they had seen dance, only three or four said yes (some just looked at me curiously in silence, smiling), and each of them had something different in mind, one young girl mentioned the dance she remembered seeing in an animation (film) - and Terry, since she had no theory or concept of dance (of film for that matter) in the sense that her thinking mind got in the way, she was processing something (moving images or moving bodies). I don't know what.

Fascinating, however, was the teachers' quiet instance on observing the children (this month's theme in the Montessori school is "insects") and letting them try out, and this practical investigation of "dance", that we engaged, was to a large extent kinetic or kinaesthetic-playful (how does this connect to what you call entrainment?), and they did not necessarily follow the instructor, which I enjoyed much.  I have not idea whether "programs" were running already, but I sensed that nothing about the new paradigm (big data, everything placed outside) you evoke mattered here, we were still inside the group of shared activity, face to face, physically close, a good old paradigm.  I am also of course thinking of remembering information through the body here. The stories we tell each other return to body.

with regards
Johannes Birringer

empyre forum
empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au<mailto:empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>

Terry Flaxton
Professor of Cinematography and Lens Based Media
University of West of England
+ 44 (0) 117 328 7149
+44 (0) 7976 370 984

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