in a heartbeat

From: Jay Lemke (
Date: Mon Jan 17 2005 - 14:57:36 PST

Ooooooh! (pronounced oo as in boot, not oh as in boat) ...

I hope Diane finds the paper or the book [below]. I certainly like the idea
of cultural learning as being _subtractive_ as well as additive (17 inputs
reduced to 5). Really it's re-organizing, isn't it? but maybe after being
subtractive, or it has to filter out as it selectively contextualizes ...
i.e. makes meaning possible. Our optimistic American culture is always so
late to look for the dark side ... you can't make an omlette without
breaking eggs, and you can't make meaning possible unless you make some
ground against which to have a figure (Derrida's "white space"). [The
meta-redundancy model of meaning-making accounts for this rather neatly, in
purely formal terms.]

All that primary infant sensorium that gets excluded from the Reality
Synthesis, all those differences that we don't use to make a difference
often enough (or at all) for them to continue to participate in aggregated
attention. The recipe for making an Umwelt out of the less-specified
mammalian sensory repertoire. All the ways that other species construe the
world, not just because they can and we can't, but because like them we
could have, but we just don't.

And is it too late? And what happens if we chemically interrupt the
Standard Synthesis? (one interpretation of the LSD effect?)

But more specifically to Diane's point, what brings order out of chaos? I
will certainly buy in to the importance of rhythm as one key factor. Of
course the sound of pre-natal heartbeat, on the sensory organizing side,
but really as organisms we're rhythms all the way down. Whatever organizes
us from the firing neuron up to the dancing (can I say fucking?) dyad ( at
least ) is built on periodicities and rhythms within rhythms across
timescales (rates of repetition), from the buzzing larynx to my motor
capacity to imitate a vibrating electric toothbrush with no practice at
all. And childrens' so annoying habit of repeating words and phrases,
endlessly ... so filled with intentionality (irony, irony, irony, ...).

Now can we imagine that all order comes from prior order.... well, maybe
not ALL ... but most. That patterns are extensions of patterns, analogies
to patterns; that correlations and associations are built on repetitions,
that synchronization - which build dynamic patterns in terms of
coordinating timing of events - depends on some base rhythms by which we
define pacing of events. Where would we look for our sense of how events
conspire in time? even if there were objective periodicities in the
environment, to know them we have to couple to them, and indeed we have to
couple to them in a way that allows an off-setting of rhythms, our rhythm
different from theirs (perfect synchrony might not be perceivable,
noticeable, demanding a model or account for it). To know the rhythms of
the world we have to bring to it our own rhythm(s).

Dance, Diane! Sing! and beat that drum!


At 12:18 AM 1/13/2005, you wrote:
>Thanks Bill.
>My response is of no use, because I can't for the life of me remember the
>book I'm thinking about,
>(but I'm still searching and if I think of it I'll let you know) but in any
>event...[preamble ends ...HERE]
>Yes, infant studies have, for years, revealed amazing information about
>human beings,
>including things like sensory information = the particular and specialized
>attentiveness of infants has been traced to many attributes, including
>sensitivity based on such innate characteristics such as temperament (many
>studies in the 70s and 80s
>looked at temperament in infants, truly awesome information for looking at
>child development);
>as well as sensory effects like bioelectic, biomagnetic response and light
>effect, to name but a few.
>The book I'm
>referring to (which I can't [BUGGER] remember) listed some 17 sensory
>responses that infants
>experience, experiences which are filtered _out_ as the standard 5 sense
>reality dominates an infant's
>world... kind of fascinating really, because it all alludes the kind of
>people we might yet become,
>something very near and dear to my heart...
>Anyhow, yes, infant intelligence & awareness studies are an exceptional
>place to start
>when trying to make sense of sign/symbol relations.
>I wrote a terribly brilliant paper once on the influence of rhythm in
>language and thought
>development in humans, basing it all on the influence of auditory
>development in prenatal
>stages (i.e., even deaf people can hear their own heartbeat and in fact, the
>one thing that
>all humans experience is that rhythmic experience, which can potentially
>explain music and
>poetry, for example, and language,'s a symbolic experience with
>that prepares us for sign reality, but oops hey without the full
>dissertation it's a very silly claim to make)
>Funny story actually. And I'm feeling wordy. :)
>I was an undergrad in ECE, and just _motivated_ by inspirations that would
>make absolutely no sense
>whatsoever if I were to try and recount it all. Suffice it to say that I was
>certain of something that wasn't
>available in the early childhood education theory that I was being taught,
>it was all so mechanical and
>icky... Anyhooo, I was sure of something that I couldn't pinpoint, so I went
>about figuring it out.
>I wrote this really wild dissertation (that nearly got me expelled from the
>program) and presented
>it at a conference in Oakland University (Michigan) (while still an
>undergrad) that proposed that social realities
>such as language and thought, sign/symbol development evolved and are
>subsequently easily acquired
> because of the experience with
>a heartbeat in prenatal life. It was based on really random facts like the
>inner ear is the first sensory phenomenon to
>develop in prenatal development, and I wondered if it wasn't stimulated in
>some way - ya, we know now that
>prenatal experience is highly audible, so hey, the mother's heartbeat is
>right there isn't it. boom, boom, ba-boom,
>etc., for many many months... followed by the infant's own heartbeat, and it
>evolved from there, damn I wish I had the I say, it's the one
>universal that is shared by everyone, deaf, blind, paralysed, catatonic,
>poor, rich,
>West African, East Indonesian, South Russian, North American, it is
>absolutely universal, the only
>universal, to this day, that I can discern, actually. Prenatal auditory
>development as a precursor to
>sign/symbol intelligence. Uh Huh.
>Anyway, the paper was received really well. At that time (early 90s) infant
>studies were not a part of
>Child Development theory, so it's a pleasure to see you referring to those,
>because, frankly,
>infant studies are a gold mine. That, with a little philosophy, some
>imagination, some smarts, yep.
>We might figure ourselves out yet.
>Yikes. This was a little bit about "how great I used to be before I burned
>out" wasn't it? Sad.
>You know when I moved to Denver,[a brief stint] the groundskeeper of the
>apartment complex where I lived
>was a PhD in philosophy, and I thought, at the time, "Wow, that's me..."
>How prophetic.
>Christ. I'm freaking tragic. :)
>But successful. !! ;)
>Diane Hodges
>La Maison Bramble House
>19 Valois Bay Avenue
>Pointe Claire, QC H9R 4B4
>Tel: (514) 630-6363
>Fax: (514) 344-2994
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Bill Barowy" <>
>To: <>
>Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 8:08 AM
>Subject: sign, symbol, meaning, AND Intentionality
> > It's curious that the problem of intentionality being under-characterized
> > semiotics and the problem of semiotic development also being theoretically
> > under-characterized seem to meet in one paper on infants. My thanks to
> > for helping to make the connection.
> >
> > Jay wrote:
> > "... there are no "bare" objects, that notion is an abstraction we
> > construct on the basis of conventional similarities among many
> > interpreted-objects; every object is always-already interpreted, though
> > can wonder over the sense in which pre-language, pre-symbol-using bodily
> > interactions do some kind of proto-semiosis or "interpreting".
> >
> >
> >
> > Tricia Striano and Philippe Rochat wrote:
> >
> > "Infants referential looking radiates across much of their behavioral
> > repertoire by the end of the first year. For instance, infants start to
> > follow people's gaze or gesture in relation to external events and
> > (Carpenter, Nagell, & Tomasello, 1998; Corkum&Moore, 1998), to look to
> > in the context of joint play (Bakeman&Adamson, 1984; Carpenter et al.,
> > and to check their emotional perspective to disambiguate a novel situation
> > (Campos & Sternberg, 1981; Sorce, Emde, Campos, & Klinnert, 1985; Walden &
> > Ogan, 1988). Two opposing viewpoints are commonly cited to account for the
> > manifestation of referential looking. The traditional, rich,
> > is that the ability of infants to engage in referential looking across a
> > variety of contexts presupposes a rudimentary insight into others minds.
> > idea is that infants seek and interpret others focus of attention and
> > corresponding emotional perspective because they appreciate that people
> > emotions, intentions, and perspectives that differ from their own
> > (Bretherton, 1991; Striano&Rochat, 1999; Tomasello, 1995; Wellman, 1993)."
> >
> > And their study concluded that, while the study of 7 month olds did not
> > support the rich interpretation:
> >
> > "Infants [10-month-olds] show selectivity in their social referencing
> > depending on the attention (intention) of the social partner toward or
> > from them. This finding strongly suggests that an intentional stance
> > underlies 10-month-old infants referential looking patterns."
> >
> > (Emergence of Selective Social Referencing in Infancy , Infancy, 2000)
> >
> >

Jay Lemke
University of Michigan
School of Education
610 East University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Tel. 734-763-9276

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