Skin Head, Emotions Out of Control

[From Rick Marken (961023.2230)]

Bruce Abbott (961023.1600 EST) --

B. F. sez (in _Freedom & Dignity_) that we _can_ still hold you responsible
for your behavior

Sure. And we can still hold the Santa Ana winds responsible for _their_
behavior. But we would be as crazy as ol' Skins if we did.

by which he simply means arranging consequences for it. So the next time
you >screw up, two guys named Leni and Tony may be stopping by your house
for a >little "talk," if you get my drift.

What a sweetie. He tells me that my behavior is controlled by its
consequences; that I have no choice about what I do. But if I do things
he doesn't like -- things I couldn't possibly have chosen to do -- he'll
"hold me responsible" and break my knee caps. Whatta guy.

Clark McPhail (961023) --

What about our experience and display of emotion when we witnes the
success or >failure of another person or group of persons for whom we wish
the best >possible outcome...Can Bill or Rick or Bruce, anyone, comment on
whether you >have observed, experienced or thought about the phenomena to
which I refer.

I sure have. I experience such emotions when I watch sports and movies or
read books. The fact that we feel emotions in such circumstances is, I
think, another piece of evidence in favor of the PCT view of emotion. When
I watch a tennis match I want to see my kid win; when I watch "Westside Story"
I want it to work out for Tony and Maria; when I read about the "war on drugs"
I want Bill C. to stop it. I want perceptions, over which I have no control,
to be in particular states. There is an error -- a difference between what I
am perceiving and what I want to perceive -- about which I can do nothing.
This error apparently drives the physiological "readiness" system even though
there is really no action I can take to reduce the error. This makes sense;
the physiological readiness systems should react automatically to error. As
far as they know, they are needed by a higher level control system. The
physiological readiness system can't know that the systems experiencing
error can't really do anything about it.

I think the situation is analogous to what happens when you are falling
asleep and you dream about falling. You have no real control (via the
external environment) over the imagined perception of falling; nevertheless,
the system controlling upright orientation changes the references for the
lower level systems that _would_ be used to compensate for the fall if
you actually were trying to prevent a fall in the real world; your leg
pushes down hard (against nothing) and you wake up with a start.

According to the PCT view of emotion, what we should experience as we watch
a game, a movie or read a newspaper is an emotional feeling (the perceived
side effect of the physiological readiness systems in action) that varies
in proportion to the size of the error produced during the course of the
the movie or the newspaper article. For example, when Tony and Maria meet
the error (of Tony not knowing what's coming) gets small -- I feel happy
(and pretty;-)). Then Tony kills Bernardo and the error gets larger.
Finally, Tony get's shot and the error is huge; I _always_ cry when Tony
dies in Maria's arms. I know that what I'm feeling is just a bunch of
surplus physiological readiness going to waste. But I cry anyway.

If you want a real puzzle for a theory of emotion, try figuring out why we
experience emotion when we listen to music. My most intense emotional
experiences have occurred while listening to music; what's _that_ about?



Man, just when I say I gotta get out you toss one in my lap!

Rick Marken (961023.2230) sez:

If you want a real puzzle for a theory of emotion, try figuring out why we
experience emotion when we listen to music. My most intense emotional
experiences have occurred while listening to music; what's _that_ about?

I know this very well as I dearely love music. I'm also a musician and
"know" quite alot about producing moving music. There are moments when the
feeling is on the edge of getting so strong that you may lose control of
your playing (just like giving into tears, or laughter, or screaming rage
when you're talking). When you get in that zone the trick is to "ride" the
feeling so you know it's there, but it doesn't overwhelm you.

Remember that facial verve where one branch seems to be for involuntary
control over the skeletal muscles while the other is for voluntary control?
I figure that "giving in" to the feeling is "letting" the signal from the
involuntary branch regulate movement while remaining "in control" is
ramping up the signal in the voluntary branch to swamp the involuntary
signal. "Riding" the feeling is holding these two signals in balance. You
need the voluntary signal to operate the instrument; you need the
involuntary to convey the feeling.

But who/what's making these decisions, etc.?

* * * *

Now, I suppose what you're aluding to Rick is that in purely instrumental
music we have to plot or events with which to identify, so where's the
emotion come from. Well, if you really want to work on this, there are two
places to go.

The classic source is Leonard Meyer, who's book mid-50s book on *Emotion
and Meaning in Music* (I think that's the title), talks about music setting
up and variously defeating and rewarding expectation.

A more recent and very different route is Manfred Clynes, who has done
quite a bit of rather odd and deeply interesting experimentation. What his
experiments come down to is that emotion signals can/seem to be directly
encoded in musical sound. His work certainly does suggest that somewhere
in the brain there are "emotion systems" which can send signals to the
skeletal muscles for "expressing " love, grief, awe, hate, anger, joy, and
sex (his list, based on experiments in several distinctly different
cultures). These motor patterns are accompanied by heart-rate and
breathing-rate patterns suggesting sympathetic activation for hate, anger,
and joy, and parasympathetic activation for love, grief, and awe. Sex is a

I've got a paper at my website on music which has a thing or two to say
about Clynes.

* * * * *

OK, that's it. No more substantive posts for me. Nada.


William L. Benzon 518.272.4733
161 2nd Street
Troy, NY 12180
What color would you be if you didn't know what you was?
That's what color I am.