Hello? Is this thing on?

Comprehension of the written-language is of special interest to cognitive neuroscientists because it deals directly with the same cognitive processes that deal in perception and action.  Research conducted  with patients with lesions in their left frontal, temporal and parietal regions of the brain revealed that reading and spelling share common cognitive processes. An example such studies can be found HERE.  For quick reference, see also:  Reading (Process). I can also recommend Michael S. Gazzaniga’s  The Cognitive Neurosciences III, 2004.

If you’ve ever communicated with a person that incessantly misinterprets what you’v written, you’ll come to realize that it’s not just your communication skills.  It’s the cognition of the reader.  Not to say that we don’t stumble in our efforts to effectively mediate understanding using the written language, we certainly, do but we must also take into account the reader’s perception which compels action. In the case Social Networking Technologies, it may account for particular responses that seem so off base you wonder if you’re speaking Japanese.

language image

When G.I. Gurdjieff prepared his book for publishing to the printer in 1949, he gave this advice:

Read each of my written expositions thrice:

Firstly: at least as you have already become mechanized to read all your contemporary books and newspapers.

Secondly: as if you were reading aloud to another person.

And only thirdly: try and fathom the gist of my writings.Only then will you be able to count upon forming your own impartial judgment, proper to yourself alone, on my writings. And only then can my hope be actualized that according to your understanding you will obtain the specific benefit for yourself which I anticipate, and which I wish for you with all my being.

He elaborates on his reasoning for this process in Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson.  A few years of studying Fourth Way certainly gave my brain some helpful exercises, it certainly didn’t turn me into a Fourth Way Student.

From The Book of SIN

“To know me, is to know my expressions.”

If you’re a subscriber to my blogs and wonder why you might find a Written, Visual and Audio form of the same blog, this is my way of saying that Gurdjieff and I are in agreement on that “Friendly Advice” he offers readers.  It’s not enough to learn the process of reading, it’s extremely helpful to learn different ways to read to understand.  That’s what we all want right?  To understand what it is we’re reading? To be understood?  To take in the knowledge and ‘know’ we understand.  It’s not enough to decipher words, we should take into account the cognitive biases such as but not limited to: Confirmation Bias, Neglecting Probabilities, Observational Selection Biases, Projection Bias, Band-wagon Effect and many more.  There are far too many to list here but for ease of reference, here’s a LINK.    The activity of blogging and participating in forums is a mental exercise.  In a recent discussion with Reap Paden, host of the Modern Satanism podcast, in discussing skepticism I had honed in on being skeptical of even my own thoughts.  In a joking manner Reap asked:  “Do you ever agree with anyone?” to which I replied:  “What’s the fun in that?”   Even though my comment was in jest, the way I delivered my answer, may imply many things to the listener.  To clarify, it is fun, don’t get me wrong but I really am skeptical of my own thoughts and especially when I find myself in agreement; thus I choose an argumentative point to determine if it’s out of cognitive biases or to determine if my thinking is truly rational.

Computers are pretty awesome tools but still no match for the human brain.  Learning RX provides this summation which I find suits my purposes:

Key categories of cognitive skills
To define cognitive skills, it’s important to know that they include a wide variety of abilities. These abilities are necessary for analyzing sounds and images, recalling information, making associations between different pieces of information, and maintaining focus on a given task. Here are the core areas of cognitive skills, all of which can be targeted and strengthened by LearningRx Brain Training programs:

  • Processing Speed: This is the speed at which your brain processes information. Faster processing speed means more efficient thinking and learning.
  • Auditory Processing: This is the ability to analyze, blend and segment sounds. It’s also known as phonemic awareness. Surprisingly, auditory processing is crucial not just for speaking, but also for reading and spelling. This is because when you read, you need to be able to identify the individual and blended sounds that make each word unique and recognizable.
  • Visual Processing: This is the ability to perceive, analyze and think in visual images. Visual processing is imperative for reading, remembering, walking, driving, playing sports and literally thousands of other tasks you do every day.
  • Long-Term Memory: This is the “library” of facts and knowledge you have accumulated in the past.
  • Short-Term Memory: Also called working memory, this skill handles the dynamic job of keeping at the forefront of your mind the information you need to complete immediate and short-term tasks.
  • Logic and Reasoning: This is the ability to reason, form concepts, and solve problems using unfamiliar information or new procedures. It enables you to create correlations, solve problems, plan ahead and draw conclusions.
  • Attention Skills: There are three types of attention skills. Sustained Attention is the ability to stay focused and on-task for a period of time.Selective Attention is the ability to quickly sort through incoming information and stay focused on one thing in spite of distractions. Divided Attention is the ability to multi-task.

To keep up with your own brain, there’s two different approaches to reading in traditional methods:

  • Top-down: In top-down models, the decisions made at higher levels of processing are used to guide choices at lower levels.
  • Bottom-up: In bottom-up models of reading, processing starts with the raw input and passes through increasingly refined analyses until the meaning of the text is grasped.

Research hosted by PMC demonstrates that neither method on its own can fully explain the reading process, thus both are used to fully grasp the meaning of a text.  Give it proper context and it explains why so many people reading the same text come away with different meanings than the author intended.  Visual/Audio editions of the same text don’t exactly resolve the issue.   If you combine all (3) methods, you just might be understood rather than constantly asking yourself:

Hello?  Is this thing on?


Lessons in discourse analysis

Discourse!  It’s everywhere right?  So how do you personally cope with the discourses that ensue when building it through language?

I’ve discussed the purpose of language in past blogs; language is symbolic and acts as a carrier for mediating understanding.  Understanding provides many things to include building a knowledge base.  Knowledge is a form of Gnosis, but it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll not end up corrupting yourself through it.  The task then, is to decide what language is building.

Language is saying, doing and being.

So start with some rudimentary questions:

What is the language saying?

What is the language doing?

What is the language being?

This may lead to other inquires such as:

1. What is its significance?

2. What is language practicing?

3. How do I identify the language?

4. What relationship do I have with language?

5. Is the language political?

6. What connections are being made?

7. What knowledge do I personally hold about the symbols?

Through this inquiry you begin building a foundation for your own understanding of language that builds discourse.

Each culture has its own conventions of language. Each language has a beginning, transitional period and a present tense.

In this particular discourse analysis, the primary question that seeks an answer is as follows:

How does a piece of language affect the way we hold knowledge, and the effects on our beliefs?

In creating discourse through language, we believe certain things to be truths.  These truths are more often than not, believed to be universal but from a subjective point of view.

There are many factors to consider here, such as social languages, intertextuality, and the conversation’s course as the dialogue with others progresses.

People build identifications through activities, not just language but you can’t know in all certainty what activities are running simultaneously while each person engages in the conversation.

Activities: Processing, thinking, feeling, and acting are just a few activities to consider.

I covered this a bit on my show Conformity & Polymorphism

Take for instance the word: CUT

How would a movie director understand the term cut?

A Barber?

A surgeon?

Obviously the context is relevant, and language in context carries a specific understanding.

An example of social language:  “Cut the shit!”

If you are unfamiliar with the phrase, then a literal interpretation may be understood, as if cutting crap is an activity that one engages in.  Perhaps if you were medical professional or vet, you just might but your average every day person isn’t in the habit of dissecting feces.  There is a sort of conformed understanding of what that phrase means, and it may very well be the conduit for laying down the foundation for discourse.

Other language could certainly be used for a similar sentiment but that’s reliant on the person’s being.  Not just how they are being (action) but the essence of what they are.

Another question which may arise through this analysis is, Are we our ideas?

If your particular being chooses the phrase ‘Cut the Shit!’ vs. ‘Please Stop’, does this mean that the person IS their ideas?  Perhaps it’s more appropriate to look at it this way:

Please stop = a polite person

Cut the shit! = a rude person

This sort of dual perception is rather common, especially in having conversations.  This has more to do with social ethics and responsibility, than it does individuality.  It’s as if there is a set expectation on every conversation you will ever have in your lifetime.

Another element to consider is the environment in which the conversations take place.

Some examples:

Work Place

Social Club



Public Park

Day Care Center

Concert Venue

Doctor’s Office

These are just some examples of environments where conversations take place.  Perhaps you change your ideas as your environment changes.

1. You may hold the idea that any form of censorship is not something you will tolerate.

Perhaps you choose to self-censor your language in a Day Care Center because you feel that some language is inappropriate for children.  This stems from your own morality and ethics.

2. You may hold the idea that any foul language is a sign of immaturity.

Perhaps you stub your toe and out comes flying profanity to express how truly painful it is, and in the presence of your own children.

These two examples demonstrate that while you may hold ideas, ‘you’ as a being, are not your ideas.  You will find that your ideas change with circumstance, environment and experience.

The same is true when discourse is built by language.

1. You may observe a person reacting poorly to criticism; you speak very arrogantly with regard to the reactions to criticism.  You believe that a poor reaction is a sign of mental and emotional immaturity.

Perhaps YOU are being criticized and are reacting poorly, according to public opinion.  Your ideas then change, because you are now the subject of critique.

So you see, discourse ensues because you are an ever changing and adaptive being, and so too are other beings changing and adapting to the environment, as well as the language in use to say, do and be.

Learn the lesson.  That’s my advice.

Sin Jones