Archive for June, 2007

“Mind Control” as Energonomics

When I speak of “mind control” I do not refer to paranoid theories of government agents who have the ability of mad scientists to control the minds of others.  I mean self-mind control, the ability to channel one’s “mental” energy (i.e. steer the physical energy flowing through the mind, that 20% of the glucose we consume to support our brain, which takes only 3% of the body’s weight) toward some states and away from other states.  This kind of channeling comes up in Marvin Minsky’s newest book, The Emotion Machine, in which he develops a theory of how we think.  One of his ideas is that we have “Critic-Selectors” who can select certain kinds of thinking (i.e. emotional states) in order to solve a problem. 

 …in everyday life there remains a wide range in which it’s both useful and safe to regulate your collection of Critics. (91)

This also reminds me of a few other books: 

  1. Jean-Paul Sartre’s The Emotions, a book I read as an undergraduate in an Existentialism class,  in which he claims that we choose to feel emotions at particular times
  2. a more recent book by Howard Gardner called Changing Minds:  The Art and Science of Changing Our Own and Other People’s Minds.
  3. Destructive Emotions, a book compiled by Daniel Goleman capturing conversations between the Dalai Lama and Western neuroscientists and psychologists, in which it is suggested that meditation provides a way of channeling mindbrain-energy from the fear-centered amygdala to the prefrontal lobes, where higher orders of thinking occur.

All of these support the concept of personal energonomics, controlling the energy flows in the mind (and, as a result, the kinds of thoughts we think, our behaviors, and our beliefs).

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28 June 2007 at 8:56 am 5 comments

The Energonomics of Thinking

I was peeking into Massumi’s A user’s guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari and came across the following passage in which Massumi describes their philosophy as the pragmatic invention of concepts:

Most of all, the reader is invited to lift a dynamism out of the book and incarnate it in a foreign medium, whether painting or politics. Deleuze and Guattari delight in stealing from other disciplines, and they are more than happy to return the favor. Deleuze [sic] own image for a concept not as a brick but as a “tool box” [sic]. He calls his kind of philosophy “pragmatics” because its goal is the invention of conceptsw that do not add up to a system of belief or an architecture of propositions that you either enter or you don’t, but instead pack a potential in the way a crowbar in a willing hand envelops an energy of prying. (8)

Concepts (words, thoughts) as being full of a potential energy able to make a difference in the world: this is the energonomics that follows from humans consuming calories.

23 June 2007 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

On Growth and Form: Biological Energy

I just picked up John Whitfield’s In the Beat of a Heart: Life, Energy, and the Unity of Nature, whose book flap says the following:

Scientists have recently discovered a unifying principle that joins all life on Earth, and that unifying principle is based on energy. Visionary biologists have advanced a new theory that explains how all the living creatures of the world–from the tiny amoeba to the vast  rain forest–are constructed, providing a fresh perspective on the essential interconnectivity of living systems.

I am very excited about this book–it is very much in line with my concept of energonomics.  I’ll share the insights I learn as I work my way through it.

17 June 2007 at 12:34 am 1 comment

The Energonomics of Nietzsche

I read Deleuze’s “Nomadic Thought” this morning (published in Deserted Islands and Other Texts 1953-1974) in which he asks, “who is the young Nietzschean today?” In exploring this, he talks about what Nietzsche did in philosophy, how he bypassed the “great instruments of encoding” (the law, contracts, and the institution) how his thought “gets its flows through” such encoding.  At one point he tries to explain the power of the aphorism in Nietzsche’s writings and invokes my sense of energonomics (to some extent):  books, words, thought has a kind of potential energy that is unleashed in its reading:

An aphorism is a play of forces….Nietzsche posits it quite clearly: if you want to know what I mean, find the force that gives what I say meaning, and a new meaning if need be. Hook the text up to this force. In this way, there are no problems of interpretation for Nietzsche, there are only problems of machining: to machine Nietzsche’s text, to find out which actual external force will get something through [the codings], like a current of energy (256, my emphasis).

This isn’t exactly the same as my sense of texts as storing the emergy that has brought it into being, but it does suggest that texts, especially powerful ones like the work of Nietzsche, has a force to it that makes things happen in the world (that is, brings people to take action in the world).  He clarifies this in the question/answer period that follows, in which he contrasts his work to that of deconstruction:

As for the method of textual deconstruction, I know what it is, and I admire it, but it has nothing to do with my own method. I don’t really do textual commentary. For me, a text is nothing but a cog in a larger extra-textual practice. It’s not about using deconstruction, or any other textual practice, to do textual commentary; it’s about seeing what one can do with an extra-textual practice that extends the text. (260)

9 June 2007 at 6:39 pm Leave a comment


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