"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Jul 9, 2010

The Replication of the Stable Form of Power

I'd wager on at least one hundred scholarly and academic definitions of "culture," and ten times as many outside of academia.

Considering "culture," I find mostly a term about which everyone can disagree, a term much used and rarely so well defined as to provide a working model of exosomatic* human beliefs, knowledge and symbols.

And then, we have "culture" as subculture, as an attempt to understand a subset of belief which remains part of the larger or broader culture. For example - the so-called "culture of life" which has emerged within the context of the much larger capitalist consumer culture.

All this in mind, I'll add my own working definition to the background noise, and leave it at that.

The human mind generates symbols. Far from existing as mere abstractions, these symbols in fact represent actual, physical electrochemical processes which occur in the human brain, as response to and creations of stimuli. A symbol, understood as a repeated and repeatable pattern, communicates.

When persons communicate, especially with words, sounds and gestures, they do so symbolically. The brain does not experience phenomena directly, but always through the mediation of the senses. That mediation creates symbols (patterns) which (a) the brain can interpret and (b) the brain can communicate.

But, as means of communication, symbols limit. They alter the scope of the possible, by shaping the means of understanding according to repeating and repeatable patterns.

Symbols reduce chaos to chaos-plus-order.

The use of a symbol literally edits reality, for the brain.

The brain, in attempting to convert stimuli into comprehensible data, edits reality.

In this, we find culture.

Culture, in short: the creation, acceptance, use, manipulation and rejection (vital, this) of the saidsame symbols which the brain generates in order to edit the phenomena of reality into a manageable set of concepts, percepts and precepts. Memory. Memory, which alters and edits realtime stimuli to create a partial picture of an ineffable "whole."

Perhaps, seen this way, the replication of the stable form of power takes on a clarity neglected below. By giving shape to phenomena, by defining events as communicable patterns of meaning, the brain both generates an overlay of concepts (a conceptual map) which provide its fundamental experience of reality and shapes how the human person interacts with it.

Power replicates itself within this set of networks of symbols, within culture. Since the brain cannot directly apprehend phenomena, but must instead translate electrochemical stimuli into electrochemical and relatively stable patterns, the brain imposes order on those same phenomena. Or, it creates it out of perceived chaos.

The brain, in other words, learns to believe that events have a repeatable shape, because it believes its own creation of patterns. The brain generates its world (awareness) by the creation, recognition of and faith in patterns.

But, not willy-nilly.

Milk pup mammal beasts, we.

We don't simply learn and generate ourselves, causa sui.

Other persons, born before us, inheriting their stable patterns of memory, adding their layer of experiences to shared belief and shared symbolism, instruct us.

They do so by persuasion, but also by force, by abuse, by the sheer authority that comes from providing us food we cannot even conceive as such.

These big brains come with a price - we must depend on those who came before us to generate and provide useful enough sets of patterns of recognition, to allow us to live out and survive our own childhoods.

Others shape how we see the world, because we do not come with a ready made version.

And in this exchance of data, one generation to the next (and so on) does the stable form of power replicate. Not only do those who come before teach us how to hold a spoon, how to identify a cloud, and how to name a tree, and how to wipe our asses - they also instruct us in how to obey, often unwillingly.

The stable form of power replicates across generations and place because people instructed in obedience instruct their young in it as well, either to run it, or to submit to it.

The brain learns its worldview, and the most enduring one yet looks a lot like the stable form of power.

* - stored outside the body


Jay Taber said...

This http://www.constructingtheuniverse.com/ author may only address the elemental aspects of your proposition, but he's a good entry point on the topic for young people.

Andromeda said...

Now this is a masterpiece, JC. You've not only nailed down the replication of the stable form of power, but also made a very advanced insight into the nature of human communication (patterns both verbal and written) as it relates to the human brain.

Milk pup mammal beasts, indeed.

I believe the true mark of human evolution would be the rejection or reassessment of any word or symbol that leads to division and strife. We as a race need a new paradigm: we must rid ourselves of the illusion of separation---an illusion that allows those now in power to control us by promoting a perpetual state of fear and intolerance.

"Divide and conquer," as it were.

How to stop the replication? Instill another self-replicating idea into the human mind from birth: always question authority, but never question the idea that everyone has (and will always have) an equal worth. No one is ever more "deserving" of happiness than anyone else, and we can achieve great things if we all work together instead of bicker over the fine print.

Jack Crow said...


Thank you.

I'm working on something. I don't think I will succeed, since the subject matter is the subject itself, the so-called self.

I fully expect to fail, but I'll post it up as soon as it doesn't totally disgust me, as it current form does.



Andromeda said...

I have confidence that you'll be able to articulate your thoughts, even if the subject is the so-called self. :-) After all, you could always make a series of posts and refine your idea with commentary from others, as you did with the power idea.

I'm actually going to take this post you made here over to my blog and do a bit of exploration on the commentary you made on human language.

I'm a geek for communication; I majored in English and Spanish in college and minored in psychology so this post really got me thinking about human language and symbols in regards to the brain.