[-empyre-] Resistance is Futile/ the mind is the common sense of all the senses

Terry Flaxton Terry.Flaxton at uwe.ac.uk
Fri Jul 5 19:21:49 EST 2013

In one way we should be looking at children as antennae of the future - but I worry that this is might develop into a romantic trope.

Wherever we are in our individual growth - that already has a 1billion year development, (if you calculate from the origins of multicellular creatures). So though we see innocent behaviour in our younger selves, it is the mature self which is for me most interesting: We have been through complex situations and developed complex minds and it is in the maelstrom of individualised behaviour that the future is growing.

The velocitised self is becoming paradigmatically equipped for a life within an externalised memory system. Were we to survive ecological disaster we would have work though this paradigm, then the next, then the next. Maybe we die within a few paradigms, maybe we transmute.

But right now in the present, we are about the business of understanding our behaviour and also, and for me this is the most important - making art.

I've just been to the Glastonbury Festival (I live nearby so I've been watching this for a long time) and whilst sitting on a hillside overlooking 150,000 people at play, I saw a cognitive distributive system, where, interspersed, were individual or groups of musicians, speakers, artists, performers and poets, themselves cognitive nodes were distributing new variations of thinking and being throughout the entire network. A city is similar, a knowledge polis (to borrow Tom Holerts concept) is similar - and the world is also similar on a larger scale. We are all connected now and so we experience that as velocitised and this brings questions on the individual workings of the artist: What is our role, what is our most important question, what should be our behaviour, what should we make/do/conceptualise?

Just laying out some questions asks for a reply but of course in steps the rationale mind to answer. This time however we must find the answers not through ratiocination, but through entrained and cognitive mind. Every so often I glimpse this mind at work and in a weeks time I shall go to Venice to get a picture of how a certain group of us are functioning. I hope to catch more glimpses of the developing paradigm there.

Best, Terry

On 4 Jul 2013, at 18:21, Christina Spiesel <christina.spiesel at yale.edu<mailto:christina.spiesel at yale.edu>> wrote:

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Dear All,

A couple of responses -- I will attempt to knit them but will probably not succeed.  I asked my husband, the pediatrician, this morning whether the Monsessori teacher that Johannes described [and what a wonderful morning with kids!] is correct about everything being set by the age of 6. His first reply, "She doesn't see 7 year olds," and his second reply, "You know, I see kids who at young ages don't seem to be special who wind up surprising me no end with the profoundness of their later achievements." We are elders -- he's treating some grandchildren of kids he "raised" in his office.  And while I asserted in an earlier posting that I came into the world with a mind with a certain temper, in my seventh decade I am still learning what my mind can do. The best cognitive neuroscience that I know of describes an active brain that both structures inputs with perceptual capacities that are themselves constructive and put out many signals, both conscious and unconscious.  When we make things there is always both more and less in them than what we think and if we "listen" attentively to response, we can find out something about what others think in response to what we have made and learn something from it.

We are organisms in environments.  If we can't "see" those environments, we can't adapt for self-protection. If we wish to sustain our lives, we must be able to operate under changed signals from a changing environment. So to borrow Terry's language, we are both "exo and endo" and we cannot lop off either one. What work is meaningful to do? There is no external algorithm for that. But one thing kids are good at that we can perhaps retrieve for ourselves -- they are great scientists. That is, their lives consist in trying stuff to see how it works and as they try they develop a sense of what's out there. Repeated exposure to forms in light over time gives them some guides both to what's out there and what is "regular."  So how we "attend" to what is there, I submit, is very important. And the capacity for play which is the science of children.

All best,


On 7/4/2013 1:08 AM, Johannes Birringer wrote:
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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

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Faculty homepage: http://www.law.yale.edu/faculty/CSpiesel.htm
Book: http://www.lawondisplay.fromthesquare.org
Publications available on-line:
"More Than a Thousand Words in Response to Rebecca Tushnet"

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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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