Muscle-Bound and Memory-Bound: Two Versions of the Same Pathology | a "Movement and Cognition" Perspective

There is no experience of movement without cognition (mental sensing) of movement. There is no experience of cognition without the experience of something moving -- if only attention, itself, moving. Cognition is the cognition of movement (change). The experience of movement is the cognition of movement. They are two ways of viewing the same thing.

This piece talks about what happens when memory dominates and runs the show -- which is almost always, in these times.

Movement and cognition are analogues of each other -- movement being the "outer appearance" and cognition being the "inner experience".

Because that is so, their structures are similar, analogous to each other's.

There is no experience of movement without cognition of movement. There is no experience of cognition without the experience of something moving -- if only attention, itself, moving. Cognition is the cognition of movement (change). The experience of movement is the cognition of movement. They are two ways of viewing the same thing.

Both have four aspects -- one of which is the function, Memory. Memory is the persistence of things, their continuation.

As with all functions, malfunction is possible. Some might call it, "pathology".

In this case, one possible pathology is to have memory habitually turned on and running the show. This "running the show" shows up as certain "arousal states". "Arousal states" are behaviors, learned attitudes, chronic moods, all being departures from rest. "Memory playback" is stuck in the "PLAY" position. In academics, this state is cultivated; ERASE MEMORY is virtually unknown.

Chronic departure from rest leads to two effects:

  • chronic fatigue
  • restriction of activity

It also leads to confusion, as the chronic activity, the "arousal state", stays active in the background, coloring and distorting our current involvement in life. It's like trying to play two pieces of music, at once, or to combine two recipes into one -- only that in the human, vastly more than two activity patterns chronically go on in the background. It's the basis of all prejudice.

Memory-boundness leads to, "mindlock", which is the relative inability to take in new information, to learn, to change behavior, or to follow instructions. It shows up as dogmatism or "hard opinionation", arrogance (unwillingness to listen), and inflexibility in the face of changing conditions. In academia, it shows up as academic conceit and a heirarchical pecking order that pervades both faculty and the student body.

Here's the analogy:

In Gym Culture, some individuals are called, "muscle-heads".  In "Gym Culture" (Bodybuilding and Athletics), there exists a common condition:

being musclebound

In "Academic Culture" (Education), there exists an equivalent condition:

being memory-bound,
also known as, "Mind-lock"
and "cognitive clogging"

Being musclebound and being memory-bound are pathologies: unhealthy. The difference between Gym Culture and Academic Culture is that muscle-heads of Gym Culture recognize that being musclebound is unhealthy and predisposes one to injury; Academic Culture believes that being being memory-bound is healthy, a good thing, a sign of accomplishment. Which is smarter?

It should come as no surprise that the two pathologies are similar. They occur in settings where academics and athletics co-exist: 

educational institutions:
e.g., schools and universities

Both academics and athletics are hotbeds of conditioning that pervades popular culture, and so deserve to be looked at more closely.

Schools and universities, which generally have athletic programs -- and some of which have human movement laboratories -- represent themselves as institutions that expand human potential. Well, they do -- up to a point. The point it goes up to is the point at which their athletes become musclebound -- or at the point at which their existing muscle-boundness leads to injury. Muscle-boundness imposes a limit to how far they can go -- in performance, in endurance, in career.

Muscle-boundness is not well handled in athletics or in movement laboratories. They may measure it, but they don't have a very good means for handling it. In some quarters, the limitations and hazards of stretching are already recognized. They recognize that they need something else -- another approach -- but they don't know what. In this case, the approach they need is an approach to managing muscle/movement memory. In some quarters, they recognize that this is their situation.

They only need to incorporate the means, which has already been developed: somatic education, of which pandiculation is one activity employed to improve flexibility, coordination, and sensory awareness.

In general, educational institutions expand a person's capacity to remember things and to use what they remember; they get a person to expand the amount s/he memorizes and knows about and can talk about conversationally and eruditely (not necessarily in the popular vernacular), and put to use. (Richard P. Feynman and Carl Sagan became popular by translating their fields into the popular vernacular.)

Educational institutions may also be institutions of research, but research constrained by knowledge accepted as true and, consequently, constrained by the process of funding research. Thus, those constraints tend to reinforce memory-boundedness -- dogmatism and academic conceit -- despite the professed mood of the scientific method -- described as "skepticism" (a negative mood that furthers academic conceit, but which should really be "neutrality", which would foster open-mindedness).

Criteria for advancement up the scale-of-respect within such institutions becomes increasingly stringent as one goes "up the student scale" and one learns and remembers more and more -- until one has ones Ph.D. -- or several!

Then, one is privileged to take a full-on academic pounding from other Ph.D.s in the field who seek to maintain academic status through one-up-manship under the guise of "scientific inquiry". The scientific inquiry may be legitimate, but the scent of one-up-manship shows up in the academic setting. It is remarkable that this academic pounding, which might temper academic conceit, actually tends to reinforce it.

Those who remember less of what others remember enjoy a lower status than those who remember more. In many persons of higher academic status, a kind of attitude of smug superiority exists, in some, just beneath a veneer of fellowship, an attitude that becomes more pronounced the higher up one gets. Academic conceit sometimes shows up when authority is questioned by someone of lower academic status. Academic conceit is a symptom of mind-lock/conceptual clogging -- with its "memory-full" (storage full) incapacity to take in new information or its disinclination to change.

There are also those, in academia (and often, outside it), who are changemakers. They receive emergent insight and develop their abilities directly, and not as a product of the mainstream thinking that builds upon the Pyramid of Knowledge -- and use knowledge found in the Pyramid of Knowledge in service to emergent insights that have come to them and to the developments that follow. Consider Nicola Tesla, Charles Goodyear, Louis Pasteur, Albert Einstain, Ida P. Rolf, Thomas Hanna.

In rare cases, changemakers are a forces-of-nature that alter the foundation of the Pyramid of Knowledge, as Einstein altered the standing of classical Greek epistemology and atomism. This "altering" requires that they confront the full force of entrenched memory of those who enjoy higher status in the heirarchy, who regulate the amount of attention given to new findings. Consider Galileo and Lister, Moses and Jesus (Yeshua, called, the Christ).

To change is taxing, if not painful, and people don't like to be taxed by change or made uncomfortable by large changes that affect their status. The hardest thing is to get minds to change, particularly because they must change from within. Changemakers are heroes -- although not always (perhaps, rarely) lauded, as such.

Memory brings status, in academia. Changemakers are heroes because, everywhere, they confront an entrenched body of memory painstakingly acquired and stored as the bedrock of experience, the foundation of academic status. Changemakers are swimming upstream.

So, we have both the academic side and the athletic side, each with its form of "-boundness", each analogous to each other -- one a "-boundness" of movement and the other a "-boundness" of cognition.

Schools and universities, with their athletic programs, have the resources and wherewithal to become restrictive in both senses: They cultivate being muscle-bound and they cultivate Mind-lock (being memory-bound).

Attempts at Tempering '-boundedness'

In "Gym Culture", being musclebound is experienced as soreness, tightness, restricted movement, and being buff. 

The common solutions employed in Gym Culture to being musclebound are:
  1. stretching ones muscles
  2. working out, some more
    (practicing being musclebound)
Neither works, very well. One (stretching) works against what one has been cultivating (muscle-boundedness) and the other (working out, some more) reinforces the problem, but brings temporary relief from soreness. Muscle-movement memory, developed by athletic training, maintains muscle-bound-ness, despite stretching. The reason muscle-memory cannot be released by stretching is because memory entails holding on; stretching can only oppose muscle/movement memory, not dissolve it.

In Academic Culture, Mind-lock (being memory-bound) is experienced as restrictive thinking, dogmatism, interpreting everything according to the beliefs of ones field ("The shoemaker sees the world in terms of leather," and Donald Trump sees the world in terms of "making a lot of money".) They habitually using the lingo (jargon) of their field without being able to translate to the popular vernacular (Richard P. Feynman said, "If you can't say it simply, you don't understand it."). Mental memory, developed by academic training, maintains memory-bound-ness. Academics who are memory-bound are, "retentive".

The common solution employed in Academic Culture to being memory-bound is called, sabbatical. During sabbatical, two activities are common:
  1. extra-disciplinary study
    (stretching ones mind)
  2. further study in ones own field
    (practicing narrowing ones mind)
These solutions also don't work very effectively to counter "memory-boundedness" because they deal with the content of knowledge, not with how knowledge is held and the attitudes that surround it. Extra-disciplinary study exposes one to things outside ones authority (the viewpoint of ones own field) -- and unless one has enthusiasm for that related field, produces an unpalatable loss of status (now as a student of the other discipline) -- that may or may not enhance status in ones own field. Some extraordinary individuals (such as Richard P. Feynman) had/have curiosity that leads them with enthusiasm to experience other disciplines. Their openness makes room for their imagination; they become less memory-bound and synthesize the knowledge of other fields with their own, generating new/emergent knowledge. This openness is called, "genius".

The other solution, further study in ones own field, reinforces memory-bound-ness, but brings temporary reassurance and possible increase of status because one is in ones own element.

The pair of approaches has something in common: they involve more experience. However, "more experience" may undo being memory-bound or reinforce it, depending on the disposition of the individual.

An additional wrinkle has appeared in post-modern academic settings: deconstructivism. It's the "big guns" of academic conceit.

Deconstructivism is a stance that seeks to invalidate the authority of any discipline or system of knowledge by asserting that

  1. all knowledge is socially constructed and therefore arbitrary
  2. no viewpoint is superior to any other viewpoint

This stance avoids the possibility of "being controlled" by the implications of any form of knowledge. It is an adolescent state of mind in the mood of, "Don't tell me what to do (or think)!" It denies the superiority of any stance except its own. It is the formula for impuissant ineffectuality at the same time as its adherents are Mind-locked/Memory-bound in it! It is the special province of Ph.D.s and their post-graduate students -- a kind of academic conceit build upon cognitive clogging!

Of course, the sense of being controlled is directly proportional to the degree of adolescent resistance -- which pinpoints post-modern deconstructivism as a state of arrested development that protects the state of arrested development and which limits academic development -- and constrains new discoveries and their development.

In any cases, it's, again, a case of memory-boundness, with "status" being the attraction that keeps it all together as a mass of memory.
"Cognitive clogging" -- reducing everything to concepts and working with those concepts -- is one of the key pathologies of our time, leading to loss of the capacity for experiencing directly, without filtration by prejudicial knowledge.

Stretching and Extra-disciplinary Study are Analogous

Extra-disciplinary Study "stretches" ones mind. It exposes one to new possibilities outside ones own field by exposing oneself to other authorities.

Muscular Stretching forces one to go beyond ones usual range of motion, generally by opposing ones tendency to stay contracted (which resistance weight training cultivates).

While both might give one a sense of possibility beyond ones limits, neither actually produces much, if any, increase of freedom -- either freedom of mind or freedom of movement. Without effective means of dissolving "cognitive clogging," one tends to return to ones habits -- even if one now has an enlarged sense of possibility.

The reason:
Each is committed to the state they have been cultivating. They are committed to two forms of memory:

muscle memory
conceptual memory

The one committed to muscle memory is committed to, "being buff".

The one committed to conceptual memory is committed to, "being an (or the) authority."

You can see how "being buff" and "being the authority" go together. "Authority" is like being "mentally buff"!

Now you know why academia seems to be controlled by mental bullies and why bullies so often appear in educational settings, such as schools -- albeit sometimes in legitimate positions that disguise the bullying!

There's something to be said for Gym Culture. It does tend to develop human potential in a certain way -- such as it is.

There's something to be said for Academic Culture. It does tend to develop human potential in a certain way -- such as it is.

But both are afflicted by "bound-ness." This "bound-ness" restricts or counteracts the greater potential of both. It's self-restriction.

Again, you may see the similarity.

Assuming one is willing to grow beyond self-imposed restriction -- at least in principle -- how is one to overcome or go beyond, "bound-ness"?

The answer lies in memory, itself.

Memory is persistence.

In muscle-boundness, it's persistence of muscle/movement-memory. In other language, it's persistence of muscle-tone, persistence in a habitual posture, habitual ways of moving, limits on flexibility and incapacity to relax, let go, and be at rest, to be "unready" -- even one knows it would be healthier to let go. One is muscle-bound, so, one stretches. It doesn't work very well.

In memory-boundness, it's persistence of mentality. In other words, it's opinionation, incapacity to incorporate or even to allow other viewpoints, inflexibility of thinking, inflexibility-in-action, fixed-mindedness, and a habitual attitude of "knowing" and not listening any more. In the interest of professional development, one thinks to "broaden ones horizons". One broadens ones horizons while seeking to retain ones status as "knower", which must break down to integrate anything new.

Without a way to dissolve the grip of memory (but not necessarily ones understanding), neither approach works very well.

"Boundness" is Deliberate

The very institutions of education instill memory-boundness. "Cramming for exams" is very much like training with weights. There's a saturation point beyond which it's difficult to cram in anything more -- just as there's a fatigue level in weight training beyond which it takes a great effort to do any more. Then, one experiences a sense of memory-boundness that feels very much like, stupidity -- and it is in that state of dazed stupified-ness that one takes ones exams, aided by coffee to squeeze the last drop of neurotransmitters out of an exhausted brain.

Whereas elite bodybuilders may push past the saturation (fatigue) point to the point of hurting so much that they may vomit, in academic culture, the vomiting occurs in a different way: examinations.

Fortunately, about two weeks after exams, everyone forgets much of what they crammed. Just so, if a bodybuilder doesn't work out for about two weeks, he, (and these days, she) loses his (or her) "buff" appearance. It's true: their muscles no longer bulge.

To both, feeling free of the sensations of their "bound-ness" feels unnatural. They don't feel like themselves, to themselves. They feel "out of their element". They feel weaker and lessened.

This is very unfortunate because people cultivated by an educational or an athletic system may reassert making themselves (movement)/memory bound by working out in their respective ways -- athletically or mentally. They may cultivate being -bound their entire lives to keep their status.

Such persons may become concerned to "know themselves" or to become well-defined, well-recognized persons, to make something of themselves, to look good all the time. (an aside:) Whereas such "superior" individuals feel they have to "know who they are", become "professional" and look good, mediocre individuals -- sometimes their students -- become concerned simply that they look good. 

Many mediocre individuals get into positions of power and influence throughout human culture simply by looking good. Then, they reinforce their mediocrity and impose it upon the world by every act they do, and so perpetrate a mediocre world. They resist improving things too much because that would entail the risk of loss of status; they resist movements by others to improve the world because it would entail having to change, and since, "they know who they are", that would entail losing, temporarily, their sense of identity -- as perceived by others. To such people, this is unacceptable.

So, they have to pump up, again, if they want to get back what they have lost and keep it.

Successful entrepreneurs and changemakers know better.

Their Solution is Their Problem

If people who are "-bound" realize that they have been "bound" and that being habitually bound is the discomfort they have been feeling, they may turn their attention upon the discomfort, itself. They might recognize that the discomfort of "-boundness" is what makes them want to reinforce "boundness" (their familiar, uncomfortable sense of themselves). They may recognize that they have been "shooting themselves in the foot". They may become curious if it is possible to regain and keep what they value (feeling strong, authoritative, autonomous and control of their faculties -- i.e., being a "buff" authority) without being bound by restrictions. This is the ultimate dream of every adolescent.

It is possible. You may be smart enough to realize it -- and smart enough to act in a way that goes beyond adolescent status dreams. You may start to dissolve your "-boundness", so that you can grow, again. By your emergent ingenuity, you may gain the status of being a genius.

for being muscle-bound
on somatic education exercises for
freedom from being muscle-bound

for being memory-bound
on The Gold Key Release
for freedom from being memory-bound

Feel the meaning of each face and vertex/point individually and slowly.

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