Social interact; metaphors; Freg & Ginger

[from Mary Powers 9304.15]

Ken Hacker:

Suppose you learn all about action assemblies, and then it turns
out that they are simply the means by which a person controls

Control isn't simply about control. Sometimes people control for
having control over others. Sometimes they control for
cooperation, or for successful communication. Sometimes they
control for being controlled (one of the people I supervised at
work: "what do you want me to do today?")


The conference fees are the total amount due. If you register
first, your balance due is the total amount minus the $45.

And now for something completely different:

I've been thinking (probably not too profoundly) about the uses
of metaphor in the behavioral sciences. In the non-sciences,
people are talked about as having magnetism, and chemistry (Roger
Ebert is big on chemistry). Freud used a kind of
hydraulic/electric group of metaphors. The biggie for a long time
was the telephone switchboard, with signals going in and out - to
be replaced by the computer (I have a little book called You Are
A Computer, written at the same time the high school biology
class I was TA for was watching a movie about the brain as a
telephone switchboard). This has been taken pretty seriously, at
least by some, but I think generally now is seen to be
insufficient. You are not a computer after all.

Now we have control theory. One of the gripes PCTers have with
the behavioral science (BS) people is that for them, this is just
another metaphor. In other words, not to be taken too seriously
or in detail, but simply as a way to talk in general about self-
regulation, with ad hoc variations added whenever something comes
up that doesn't immediately make sense.

But I think PCT is heir to a different line of thought: the
discovery that the lens of the eye is a true lens, the discovery
that the heart is a true pump. Organic incarnations that can be
described and understood with the same physical laws as the
artifical variety. We are control systems.

A brick wall in recent posts has been the issue of compatibility
between control theory and information theory. I have a nasty
suspicion that information theory, at bottom, still uses the
telephonic metaphor in talking about the human nervous system. A
message is coded, transmitted, and decoded, and there are all
kinds of theories and calculations having to do with noise in the
system, degradation of the message, etc. a control
system, _the signal is never decoded_. It remains a signal, is
processed as a signal, interacts with other signals. We have
talked, I think mistakenly, about constructing reality out of
perceptual signals. This implies a little woman in my head who is
decoding signals and extracting information from them. It's hard
to imagine that this reality I see when I look around me is
simply the signals themselves, but what else can it be?

Dan Miller:

More on Fred'n'Ginger.

You're looking at a finished product. I think it might be helpful
to consider how it came to be.

F&G almost undoubtedly rehearsed for hours in a mirrored room,
looking at what they were doing, and matching their kinesthetic
perceptions of what they were doing to when it looked right. Bill
in his faux naif way said "oh, is that why dancers rehearse in
front of mirrors - not vanity?". Absolutely.

Plus, probably, a dance coach watching, reminding Ginger, for
example, to raise her arm from the center of her belly and not
just from the shoulder - to feel the muscles through her whole
body no matter how peripheral the movement - and see the
difference in the mirror.

Also, you cannot see, but Ginger could feel, the most subtle
pressure from Fred's hand on her waist, meaning, say, "now step
back with your right foot".

Also, the whole dance is broken into counts: 1-2-3-4, 2-2-3-4, 3-
2-3-4...1-2-3,2-2-3,3-2-3,4-2-3...1-2-3-4-5-6...and each has
memorized exactly which movements to make on each count. That is,
of course, to match each perception of a movement with the
desired movement for that count. Especially helpful when they
separate and are dancing synchronously without looking at each
other. After practicing in front of the mirror together so that
each movement is not only on count but so they look the same
doing it.

                              Mary P.