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Showing posts from April, 2016

micro-primer on entrainment

I just wanted to emphasize that the basic idea here is a quite simple one:  Two loosely-coupled systems tend to get in sync, or otherwise into a steady state of interaction.  Historically the phenomenon was discovered when two grandfather clocks next to each other started beating in time.

Personally I learned about the concept in this article:

Iverson, J. M. & Thelen, E. (1999). Hand, mouth and brain. The dynamic emergence of speech and gesture. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6(11-12), pp. 19–40. (

This article seems quite apropos for the study of non-verbal communication -- indeed, it illustrates an originary link between non-verbal and verbal communication.

I'm finding the ideas from that article useful (at least at a metaphorical level) thinking about how to build AI systems that use language.  I'd assert that this will really take off when we see that it's not just about text mining -- which would correspond to …

Response to Phatica3


So, when I received Phatica3 I began writing my response right away, essentially "writing out" ("ex-pressing") the points you had gathered under those sections, but I ran into difficulties and postponed finishing it. Well, first I renamed your sections to reflect my preliminary ideas of what I have to contribute to the discussion:Textual foundations of phatic studiesPossible research questions or directions gathered from surveying available studiesComplementarity between primary lines of phatic studiesPhaticity as a constituent phenomenon in across various domainsPhaticity in social networks, relations, and relationshipsPhatic techniques in light of the general notion of phaticityLinguistic code selection between the individual and the situationPhatic studies and context, the difference between explication and metamorphosis/catalysisTogetherness in positive and negative phaticsMulti-mediaConclusionAnd so goes my attempt to elaborate the first section:1. Textu…

Phatic Interference

Another idea I had while typing up Phatic Agency was the concept of phatic interference. I came to it while thinking about how in the autonomy of the artistic text the message function, which in Mukarovsky and Jakobson (as well as Lotman, who follows both) is the aesthetic or poetic (in Lotman, cultural) function, shifts from MESSAGE to CONTEXT. This makes total sense in terms of self-referentiality, i.e. autonomy or intraversive semiosis, so that in the aesthetic function the message is about the message. So, too, in the metalingual function, the message is about the code. In the end, when the channel becomes self-referential, i.e. when there are messages about contact, the channel becomes the CONTEXT (it shifts to it, just as code does in metalingual operations and message in artistic activity).

But now things get a bit more complex, because then I thought about the meta- and para-channel, i.e. receivers who are not part of the communication system in terms of mutual influence but …

Phatic Agency

I've been organizing all the sources that Google Alert has sent my way, i.e. resources published in 2016 that say something citeable about phaticity, and I've almost reached 100 references. The idea is to organizing their content in terms of the topics already outlined in "metaphatics metaeverything" and start writing about them. This one came in just a few hours ago, and it's good enough to post here for further discussion. Yet if objects and images can work in this way, not simply as vessels but as agents, so too, as Mitchell implied, can language. 'Communications about communication' is how Gregory Bateson explained his coinage metacommunication, those formalized, ritualized exchanges that are nevertheless highly meaningful. In Roman Jakobson's famous model of the six factors and functions of language, this phatic function of language is fulfilled by the contact factor, 'a physical channel and psychological connection between the addresser and …


This animation reminded me of the earlier ones by Kurzgesagt. Since I just saw the video, I certainly haven't had a chance to look at the book, Capture: Unraveling the Mystery of Mental Suffering, which in any case was just released two days ago.  But I did have a curiously-related conversation w/ a friend at the local beer garden about the difference between "optimism" and "pessimism".  And the images in the video remind me of the Whiteheadean idea of "feeling".  Noting this here in case it comes in handy later.

two kinds of community

I'm looking at David Foster Wallace and "The Long Thing": New Essays on the Novels (ed. by Marshall Boswell).  After reading Infinite Jest, I find myself pulled in by the world of Wallace studies.  The idea of community and communication (and the breakdown and enablers of the same) in Wallace seem to relate to phatic studies.  Here are a couple of quotes from Boswell's book that convey ideas of two different kinds of community:

In the first conceptualization of community... individuals are: pre-existing subjectivities.  These subjectivities have bound themselves together with other subjectivities for the common good.  Their mode of communication with one another can be called "intersubjectivity".   Literature within such a community is the imitation, or reflection, or representation of community. and (2):

[In] the second conceptualization of community... [i]n place of individuals with self-enclosed subjectivities, Nancy puts singularities that are abo…