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Friday, October 2, 2009


You guys asked for this one, so you're getting it. First observation : I am a dictionary dog. I dig into the dictionary like a dog digs into a bone. When I was in fifth grade, my spinster home room teacher had "pink tea" for those students who misbehaved in class. Pink tea meant staying after class and copying entries from the dictionary. Guess what ? I loved it !!!! Like I loved that teacher...
Second observation : it really is buttwork giving you guys this number, because I am currently manipulating the OED, that's short for the Oxford English Dictionary, in two HUMUNGOUS volumes that you have to consult with a magnifying glass. This is very awkward going, so I hope you appreciate...

1) The method of digging silver ore. Obsolete. The sole sense recognized in English dictionaries down to, and including Todd, 1818. (I think that you can appreciate the terrible irony in this. WHAT was silver ore dug for, among other principle reasons in 1818 and before ???? if not.... FILTHY LUCRE, that pale drudge twixt man and man, as Shakespeare so aptly puts it.)
2) Chem : the method of handling apparatus in experiments, Pharm, the preparation of drugs. 1828
3) General : the handling of objects for a particular purpose, manual management ; also, making motions with the hand. 1840
4) The act of operating upon or managing persons or things with dexterity especially with disparaging implication, unfair management or treatment (of documents). 1864.

The verb "manipulate" was constructed using "manipulation" as its point of departure.

Commentary : (Geez, I really love this type of stuff, it gets my imagination riled.)
First comment : this is essentially a 19th century word, coined (lol) with the industrial revolution. AND... it is a word that has semantic links to filthy lucre, as stated above.
You will notice that INITIALLY this expression is NOT abstract ; it deals with an action done by the HAND, a part of the body. BUT... we could say that the more ABSTRACT this noun becomes, the more it detaches itself from the physical body, the more it takes on a pejorative sense, and persecutory connotations.
How about a little history here ?
What is happening to THE HAND as an "object" that is not an object to us in the 19th century ?
What kind of "manipulation" is it doing ?
Compare factory work (taylorized) with string instrument making.
The HAND is not doing the same thing at all, is it ?
And, we SHOULD know that our brains, our minds, our intelligence, are intricately tied to WHAT OUR HANDS ARE DOING.
And when our hands are not doing beautiful, meaningful, creative things, or creating beautiful objects to last and be cherished, well then, maybe the road is just paved for that last sense of manipulation, where our lost dexterity comes around to persecute us ?

(This number was brought to you by... the OED, and NOT Wikipedia, if you please...)


Dink said...

"Pink tea meant staying after class and copying entries from the dictionary"

How did that phrase come about?

Re: Wikipedia vs. OED

So hard on wikipedia. Pragmatism vs. Perfectionism, yes? ;)

Re: Manipulation and idle hands

Will ponder and comment later. And we do appreciate you lifting 75 kg of OED to improve us ;)

Thai said...

Agree with Dink, thanks for doing the legwork

And I do love the idea of owning an OED but I have absolutely no idea where I would ever keep one (two?) and I have always had this anti consumerism for consumerism purposes streak.

I do have to agree that the irony of the words origins resting in the production of money is simply too delicious

Thai said...

Thought you might enjoy this.

Debra said...

Thanks for the link, Thai. It was interesting BUT...
here the problem is...
the dream state.
WE are present in the dream state, and Freud was able to recognize that... the mind associated with consciousness put a significant number of demands on the dream process to camouflage wishes and desires to make them unrecognizable, and escape censorship.
What is the relationship between what YOU call the EGO (I say "le moi), the ME), and consciousness ? It is not all that simple.
What is true in the dream state is that, as Freud remarked so aptly, the access to motricity is unavailable (except in somnambulism, and there things get rather complicated...).

Dink said...

"mediating competing requests from different parts of the body."

Delicious article.

So we chimps had two instincts that couldn't be simultaneously met. Some sort of analyzer system developed. And it went viral/fractal and started analyzing all sorts of things that it was never intended to (well, "intend" is a not accurate, but its natural to anthromorphize because we like cause and effect reasoning). It was built to choose between bee stings v. honey, but now its building space stations. This pleases me greatly :)

It also seems to fit with our difficulty being able to comprehend that which is beyond what we have experienced (or can create an analogy to what we've experienced). I'm thinking specifically very small things and very large numbers.

It even fits in with Deb's essay on the careful use of our hands. Kinesthetic learners. Dreams in which we feel we are running or flying. Intriguing.

Thai said...

re: "So we chimps had two instincts that couldn't be simultaneously met."

Indeed- paradox!

I am not sure if you read the following posting by Mish today on Motron's Fork.

I just love stuff like Morton's Fork and Burdian's Ass as they are such wonderful tangible examples of what our brains and evolution have always had to deal with.

The point of view leading to our use of the term "AND" is probably the norm of human existence in information space AND yet most of us (myself especially tend to see life much more in terms of "OR").

I guess Buddhist already realize this.

Thai said...

And Deb re: "What is the relationship between what YOU call the EGO (I say "le moi), the ME), and consciousness ? It is not all that simple."

The best I can say is go back to the conservation of energy.
Remember, every time we try to take something to its most atomic level, we always confront yet another rabbit hole.

This seems to be to ALWAYS be a fundamental boundary of an information structure created by the conservation of energy.

It is what always leads us to rabbit holes within rabbit holes.

And then it just becomes one of those practical things- what level do you want to get off the rabbit train and just say this is your most atomic.

For in the end, Burdian the ass will die if he does not chose EITHER water of food.

In the end, we always have to chose sides.

Debra said...

But, Thai, remember that I mentioned in the last post something about the hysterical symptom being a compromise that SIMULTANEOUSLY meets two OPPOSING desires in at least two different "places"/planes.
Example : one of Freud's patients developed an excruciating pain in the leg. Shall we say that at this point such pain is not lesion produced, it is as we say here "hysterogenous".
Through his talking cure, Freud was able to understand (and his patient too...) that the precise spot of this pain corresponded to the place where her father had placed his own foot in the long period of time when she was nursing him.
She had an extremely passionate attachment to her father, and admired him greatly.
Freud's conclusion : the pain was SIMULTANEOUSLY punishment inflicted by her "superego", that part of her that judged it unacceptable to have strong, passionate feelings for her father, AND, the manifestation/memory of her desire, pleasure in the physical contact involved in the nursing experience.
This is the structure of what we call neurotic symptoms : pain and pleasure AT THE SAME TIME.
That's for you, dink, you wanted an example.

Thai said...

Re: neurosis

I came across this tonight and thought you might find it interesting..

I realize this is really anxiety but close enough

Thai said...

Re: Why do we sleep?.

Debra said...

Thanks Thai for the link to the anxiety article ; as it turns out a friend forwarded it to me, and I had already read it.
Comment : starting observation of infants at 4 months is actually VERY LATE in my book, and not early at all.
The eternal argument over innate (which was called heridatary a while back) and acquired goes way way back, as I keep insisting.
But... Freud postulated a "heriditary" predisposition to neurosis.
Problem : just WHAT status are you going to give to the particular configuration in which ANY human being is going to enter this world ? The fact that his/her mother is an immigrant ? That he/she is the eldest in the brood, or the middle child ?
Just HOW are you going to identify with certainty the influence of those pesky GENES ? Way way back, I think at the time of Louis XIV they were already conducting (inevitably barbarous) experiments to find this stuff out. Like... isolating an infant from all human contact to see if IT would speak, and if so, HOW. You can guess what happened, right ?
Ah, those good old lab coats. No age is exempt from them...
My code word below : LESIONS.
Kind of makes you want to believe in God, right, dinky ? :-)

Thai said...

I am away for the next week at a medical conference in Boston.

Thai said...

Keep up the good work Street Rats

Dink said...

Before I look at any links or new posts I want to get these half-awake, primal ramblings in "print"

So the mind is a "representer". Humans create stories to create a sort of "glue" so that their thoughts flow together in a reasonable sequence. We need this because the "representer" isn't limited to physical laws, but won't represent well unless it has some logic reining it in that mimics physical laws. Consciousness evolved from the need to decide between options. To decide, you need logic. Logic needs symbols and rules. Language is is collection of memorized symbols. The "stories" are the rules of logic that mimic physical laws in the "representer" so that we can decide between options that we're conscious of as symbols of the physical world.

Well, its not as elegant in print as it "felt" this morning after I woke up. But I felt that if I spent time and energy prettying it up, it would lose some of its integrity. But at least its noted so I can won't forget it and can maybe improve/decipher it later. Thanks for your patience ;)

Thai said...

Dink, it is wonderful. I mean really really wonderful. I could never have put it so succinctly.

You have a special gift with your prose.

Dink said...

Regarding the anxiety article:

Fascinating. Thicker cortex = more logic filter = higher threshold for emotion to hurdle.

It seems a lot of antidepressants are also used as anxiolytics. It seems the two disorders are involved. Perhaps with anxiety one sees danger and is on alert to fight where with depression one sees danger and already assumes defeat? Your thoughts Spy Deb and Thai MD?

And I wonder about anxiety and lifespan. It seems that kind of constant stress would be destructive. Which kind of leads in to the sleep link and oxidative stress. If your in a biochemical minefield due to emotional stress, your body has more to "clean up". And this seems to link to something I read somewhere where a researcher suggested endurance sports were bad because of the metabolites (free radicals) that were now floating around. It seems to link to the theory why low-cal diets seems to be linked to longevity.

I am really in an odd mood this morning. Making sloppy connections between every concept I come across...

Dink said...

"And then it just becomes one of those practical things- what level do you want to get off the rabbit train and just say this is your most atomic."

I like this. How many rabbit hole layers can an individual tolerate before terror sets in? ;)

"This is the structure of what we call neurotic symptoms : pain and pleasure AT THE SAME TIME.
That's for you, dink, you wanted an example."


"My code word below : LESIONS.
Kind of makes you want to believe in God, right, dinky ? :-)"

I seem to recall people in robes doing some inhumane deeds as well. I've been appalled about some of the things "lab coats" have done too, but I believe their (misguided) intentions were a little purer.

"Dink, it is wonderful"

You rock, Thai! You're the one who deserves the kudos for unlimited curiosity. You'd no doubt be a member of the Royal Society. Hope you have a good time in Boston and come back with all sorts of fascinating madness to intrigue us with!

Thai said...

I even sent it to my physics friend working on AI for his thoughts.

I'll let you know

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits