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RE: [xmca] Body expression as sign.

I too was moved by Joseph's focus on the physical grounding of communication in the whole panoply of modulated movements which tell us so much more than a simple transcript of a conversation could hope to capture. I would like to add to Jack's contribution, focusing on the role of energy in our interactions, by suggesting that we are particularly sensitive to the dynamics of other people. 

My own area of interest is particularly in very early interactions between babies and (most often) mothers and I am increasingly convinced that early recognition of familiar people may be based more on a holistic appreciation of the dynamics of their ways of interacting (perhaps not so much the dynamics of the mother as the dynamics of the mother's interaction with the baby, which may be markedly different from the dynamics of her interactions with others) than on the abstraction of any particular features (whether visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile etc.). 

There has been a whole industry of research into babies' ability to recognise faces but this has, for the most part, focused on recognition of still images (from Fantz's very crude 'diagram' faces to photographs) while we all know that babies are quickly upset when confronted by a (familiar) person who presents them with a still face.

Joseph's posting hints at the way in which we are able to monitor the degree to which we 'resonate' with another person - how it feels to engage that person in conversation and to adjust and recalibrate the dynamics of our interaction (picking up aspects of their way of speaking and moving, for example). For me, this physical apperception of how our own bodies make adjustments as we engage with another person is an important part of how we 'know' that person (and is potentially available when we imagine a conversation with them, e.g. when writing to them). I try very hard not to fall into the 'we're all doomed' view of changing ways of interacting as I sit at home surrounded by a family each of whom is hooked up to a personal laptop but I do wonder whether we may be paying insufficient attention to the importance of very early experiences of learning to adjust oneself to the adjustments made by other people. While people who have developed this attunement may well be able to extend their interactions into the more attenuated forms of IM, FB and email, carrying their knowledge of their correspondent in their bodies, people who have not, or who have not become easily proficient in picking up on other people's unique dynamics, may experience a very different kind of communication - much more reliant on the mediated meanings carried in words. 

I would, like Jack, sign off with 'love Rod' but for now I prefer to reserve that for people with whom I have been able to develop a degree of attunement.

All the best,


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Jack Whitehead
Sent: 24 May 2012 09:37
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Body expression as sign.

On 23 May 2012, at 17:24, Joseph Gilbert wrote:

> Let us remember that spoken-word language is composed of sounds made by the body, sounds that issue forth as expressions of emotions and that cause hearers bodies to assume patterns of motion analogous to those in the generators of the sounds. Thereby motion and emotion are transferred from originators to receivers. It is that sense of emotion, that we experience by our spoken words, that provides us with a sense of meaning. Our own emotion is the bottom line of our sense of meaning. Things have meaning only in as much, and in how, they affect us. And our emotions are the way we experience effects. Our words deal in the currency of meaning - our emotions - , and they refer to things. Because of this dual nature, words - the very things that identify things - inform us of the meaning of our world simply by affecting our emotions with their sounds. Since we are normally preoccupied with the referential aspect of words, it is subconsciously that we experience their emotional effects.
> 		Joseph Gilbert

Dear Joseph Gilbert (and all), I like very much your points about emotion. I'm also like the point below from Vasilyuk about energy and motivation, energy and meaning and energy and values. I'm wondering if anyone has any references you can send me that can help me to understand how to represent flows of energy with values, in explanatory principles that can be used in explanations of educational influences in learning?

Vasilyuk, F. (1991) The Psychology of Experiencing: the Resolution of Life's Critical Situations.  Hemel Hempstead; Harvester Wheatsheaf. 

"The Energy Paradigm

 Conceptions involving energy are very current in psychology, but they have been very poorly worked out from the methodological standpoint. It is not clear to what extent these conceptions are merely models of our understanding and to what extent they can be given ontological status. Equally problematic are the conceptual links between energy and motivation, energy and meaning, energy and value, although it is obvious that in fact there are certain links: we know how 'energetically' a person can act when positively motivated, we know that the meaningfulness of a project lends additional strength to the people engaged in it, but we have very little idea of how to link up into one whole the physiological theory of activation, the psychology of motivation, and the ideas of energy which have been elaborated mainly in the field of physics. (p.63-64)

Love Jack.
When Martin Dobson, a colleague, died in 2002 the last thing he said to me was 'Give my Love to the Department'. In the 20 years I'd worked with Martin it was his loving warmth of humanity that I recall with great life affirming pleasure and I'm hoping that in Love Jack we can share this value of common humanity.

Jack Whitehead , Professor, Liverpool Hope University, UK.    
Visiting Fellow, University of Bath, UK.

Life-time member of OMNIBUS (All Bath University Staff).

web-site http://www.actionresearch.net with email address. 

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