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Posts: 3037
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 31 2007,15:50   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Mar. 31 2007,11:49)
† † † † † †
Quote (Kristine @ Mar. 31 2007,10:57)
Crandaddy: †† † † † †  
Why oh why do people think that mechanism is so necessary to design detection? Why canít they see that minds donít operate by any mechanism that we can understand and that mechanism resides in the absence of design.
Well I'll take a clumsy stab at this - not from a scientific perspective but from a humanities one (may I do that?).

When I think "mechanism" I'm thinking of a means, a medium, a process that is cumulative, as opposed to, say, a magical eruption of something into existence.

I'm not a scientist but I see this kind of "magical" thinking all the time in relation to art - in Dead Poets' Society, "Just lose control!" and poof, instant poetry. "Just seize your imagination!" Poof! Instant art....

Kristine -

There is a crucial place for improvisation in art, too, particularly music. †I generate music by means of a process that is analogous to variation and selection in nature in some ways - a sort of dialectic between improvisation (on midi piano) and the harder work of selecting and elaborating this raw material into finished compositions. Hours of mediocre noodling on the keyboard can occasionally yield brief passages of delightful accidental music that I capture, reproduce and elaborate into something resembling art. Very occasionally, quite lovely (if I say so myself) and quite lengthy passages spring out of my hands virtually complete. †So I cultivate improvisation by letting go in exactly the way you describe. †

This is not to assert for an instant that creativity of this kind emerges from nowhere, free of underlying mechanism. †I see it as a sort of meditation that loosens the grip of frontal planning to permit other areas of my brain and body (parietal lobes interacting with basal ganglia to recombine well learned motor plans into novel combinations) to become music generators. And selection may be the most important step in the process.

I'd be willing to bet you originate dance in a similar way.

It's interesting that you would raise that objection, because Middle Eastern cabaret dance (as opposed to traditional folk dances or American cabaret) is entirely improvisation. It is not memorized and repeated as, say, ballet routines are.

But that underscores my point. The steps themselves are learned and repeated. You must do this first before you can improvise. "Hours of mediocre noodling on the keyboard" is a mechanism, no? The ability to "yield brief passages of delightful accidental music," (i.e., to experience inspiration) requires discipline. You don't just bang anything on the piano because "that's how I feel" and call that inspiration. (I play the piano too, but I cannot compose music.) Likewise, I don't sit around in "waiting for inspiration" when I write - I pitch a lot of drafts into the wastebasket. And little Egyptian girls imitate their grandmothers, who teach them, before they start working at 5-star hotels (increasingly less now, due to threats from fundamentalists).

"Why canít they see that minds donít operate by any mechanism that we can understand" Look at what he's saying - not only that our cognitive understanding is limited, but that we can never understand how the brain works. That's hogwash. Poof, whole therapies for brain-injury victims, gone in the name of "design." Poof, whole behavioral therapies gone, too. (I'm not a fan of behavioralist theory but I'm a big fan of behavioralist techniques because they work.) Poof, all this research that I'm learning about how people use libraries, gone too. Why do people need to sacrifice all this on the narrow altar of "design?" That's my essential point here.

Which came first: the shimmy, or the hip?

AtBC Poet Laureate

"I happen to think that this prerequisite criterion of empirical evidence is itself not empirical." - Clive

"Damn you. This means a trip to the library. Again." -- fnxtr

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