Volume 4

                                                            PART ONE

        Imitation. It sounds so simple at the get-go. Yet our 'imaging impulse,' that which

   ignites our production of freestanding designs and the subject of this investigation,

   begins with it. The concept of mimicry in any form and by any means drives all of our

   behaviors as it does for most other animals. For many scholars, the big question is

   how much is built in and how much is advertised or taught. Here is where I demure

   because this question is definitely not the subject of this book, and I suggest there

   are other and perhaps even bigger non-Darwinian questions at play (One might want

   to consider the work of Alfred Russell Wallace, who takes a far more balanced

   approach than Darwin did).

        As an artist, I am infinitely perplexed and rather amazed by the routines of mimesis.

   How is it that a mark made on paper, for example, ever so sloppily or slightly referring

   to a shape visualized with eyes open or closed, carries the insignia of that entity?

   There must be an intrinsic mapping device that is highly catholic at accepting

   categorical configurations. But it does have regulations. Our brains know when that

   catholic willingness to make sense of things just throws up its hands in exasperation

   and says, ‘No way!

        These days, neuro-psychology labs are humming with experiments to test the limits

   and formation of these regulations. But artists have always been testing just how

   indulgent our brains are. We were the first scientists, perhaps? We fiddle with the

   outer regions of recognition paradigms all the time. And we ask for more and more

  leniency, knowing all along that there has to be a point of no return, when the collected

   elements like lines or dots, what have you, just never convince. This is usually when

   you see more words spill forth from the artist or critic in the absence of visual

   conviction. Every time I sit down to fabricate an image/object, I am prodding and

   poking at those regulations.

        However, in primitive societies, where the functional linkage is supreme, this kind of

   intellectual mischief is relatively absent. By functional, I do not mean how to make a poi

   pounder more effective in its ability to macerate, but rather how efficiently the image

   links beliefs with expectations about their world. Human perception is a balancing act of

   minimizing surprise, another word for entropy or chaos. Chaos is a huge negative,

   which is why all of us and all animals strive to expend the least amount of energy in

   maintaining equilibrium.

        We set rules of perception, which is an inner model for the world based on a

   combination of beliefs that is reinforced by sensations. Karl Friston describes:


            ‘…the brain (as) an inference machine that actively predicts and explains    
            sensations…a probalistic model that can generate predictions against which
            sensory samples are tested to update beliefs about their causes’                         
            (Friston 2010:3).


        'Conviction' is the name of the game. This is the power to most swiftly define and

   prescribe expectations about the world to channel sensations effectively and apply

   them to our preexisting formatting about the environment. Conviction is as relevant in

   private carvings as it is for public imagery. By 'private' I mean the kind that are

   intended just for the satisfaction of the maker and are often expelled, destroyed,

   buried, and abandoned.

        This might help explain why so many thematic 'cultural' designs, both private and

   public, endure through the ages. If they have been convincing and well-known, why

   mess with success?                      
                                                                         
        What we are really asking is how can our physical gestures, which themselves are

   really abstract movements, convert cerebral notions into convincing interpretations of

   our world? There is much at work here, but one remarkable part is our cognitive

   devotion to always making sense of independent gestures or markings by aggregating

   them into collections.

        One 'thing' is insufficient. Two 'things' ask us to affirm linkages as meaningful. As

   intentional. It is a kind of naïve belief that everything we combine together, in other

   words, or that we make or discern must be a pointer, a cognitive index finger. And a

   pointer that not only asks us to concentrate, but also de rigueur, points backward to its

   causes. If we didn't have this mentality for causality with attention, which is taught very

   early on, we would be subject to chaos, and I wouldn't be writing this now because

   there would never have been a sustainable species to begin with.

        Humans simply cannot let things lie unresolved. We just can't. But stubbornness

   alone, perhaps even arrogance that we always cobble purposefulness for anything we

   do, is insufficient for a complex chain of cognitive operations. 'Meaning' is ex post

   facto and comes well after what appears instinctive because those synaptic

   operations that result in creativity are so fluid. These are operations that are intended

   to capture (i.e., tangibly convert impressions or ideas), the completely non -

   substantive stuff of cognition.

        Gestures must somehow be harnessed, organized, and guided to convert the

   ephemeral neural 'stuff' physically into solid and detached references. In this case,  

   'art,' but in all other cases, freestanding forms.

        I determined that there are classifiable responses that drive our instinct to peg

   ideas to forms. Or better still, to bridge an interior motive with an exterior effect. I call

   these 'conversion devices.'

        Broadly, they are novelty, intention, mirroring and recursion. Although these

   appear to be behavioral, even psychological, responses, they are deeply neural

   idiosyncrasies that appear innate, albeit abetted by nurturing. Each will be addressed

   individually as best as they can because they interface with each other and are

   difficult to separate. Extirpate one and it collapses the function of the other.

        We shall lead the discussion through behaviors that reveal just how dynamic these

   devices truly are. But the remarkable revelation is that all of them exercise contiguous

   neural loci around the premotor cortex and Pars Opercularis, a part of the brain

   identified by Korbinian Brodmann as area 44 (Binkofski 2000; Heiser 2003; Vaina

   2001).

        Even more fascinating is that it's an area long ago, and still rather narrowly,

   defined as an exclusive driver for verbal language formulation (as opposed to

   production).

        Clearly it is not. But these loci of which each brain has two, are also significant for

   evolution of perspectives, especially the projection of the self as a third-party

   observer in the role of the actor (Shipton 2009; Tomasello 1999; Iacobini 2003;

   Rizzolatti 1996). This means that 'I' am the first party, observing someone else, the

   second party, and then inject my idea of self into that second party and imagine

   seeing myself as if it were me instead of them. I am an actor because I am role playing

   but also observing myself in that role. It is here where the 'likeness' or mimetic concept

   resides in its starkest incarnation.

        It sounds awfully convoluted, which it certainly is. But it is a fluid conversion that

   humans undertake with the greatest of ease, both automatically and self-consciously.

   The most self-conscious industry being those of the creative arts, but also more

   mundanely, for all manufactured objects we use that others also have such as

    smartphones and fashion trends.

        The Pars Opercularis is curious. And we suggest that perspective swapping, which

   is the fundamental driver of mimesis, is generated here. It is likely a behavior as

   innate and essential to binding us in communities as any basic survival habit could

   possibly be. If the neural clusters that instigate this interpolation of oneself as another

   object were less robust or absent, communication on any level would be highly

   unlikely.

        In contrast, it is often said that for autists, this kind of Theory of Mind (ToM) never

   reverberates beyond the personal body. For them, the simulation of otherness is

   often a sense that parts of their own body and mind are those other foreign, third -

   party things. It is a dialogue that rages and enrages within their corporeal walls, a

   dialogue that is often characterized as their 'thinking self versus their feeling self'

   (Grandin 2013).

                                                            ****


        The most important concept of mimicry is the application of oneself as the unique

   uber tool, much like a tensile pen, by which to draft the world as we sense it. In effect,

   we don't require other tools or meta tools to extend our sensory and interpretative

   reach; all we need is the neural textile of interwoven sensations as they issue

   upsweeping unities called ideas or responses that extend through our bodies on

   through our orifices, surfaces, limbs, and then outwards to the tip of a little finger or

   toe (generally). We can harness these to mechanical extenders like charcoal,

   computers, hammers, and selfie sticks, but we are the essential meta tool.

        How does a rush of spiking synapses translate into a gross-motor, physical action

   that refers directly to the initiating neural impulse? Here's the answer: I don’t know.

        Nevertheless, keep reading.


                                  The Pointer

        Homo Sapiens by virtue of our name are discerning of many things. We are

   ‘thing-ists’. We necessarily have border mentalities and not necessarily because our

   optical system is prone to this, which it definitely is. One could take the statement

   above about border mentalities and run with it in psycho-sociological terms about

   nations and wars.

        Nevertheless, 'Sapiens' really means knowing 'about' or around or concerning

   something by determining where to set the limits and circumscribe 'it.' That is all. The

   word 'Sapiens' is an active term, a gerund.

        It confers on our species the constant activity of seeking knowledge in every

   breathing moment. 'Knowing' is an abstract concept. Highly illusive. Frustrating. And

   breathlessly enticing. It has extreme limitations that manifest in the irreconcilable

   differences between materials; that one molecular structure, namely ourselves, simply

   cannot naturally 'read' or align with the molecular components of a differing one.

        Thus, we can only circle or know 'about', around, or regarding something. This is

   why for humans about other humans, we require communication systems to try to

   figure each other out. Each of us is a different material structure. These constructs

   such as verbal language are faulty and irritating, but they are all we have to 'know

   about' each other and things. In effect, we employ them to circumscribe a collection of

   parts, assets, activities, etc. as unique among so many other moving parts on the

   universal stage.

        And this is also why humans adore lines.

        By the way, a line is a very definite kind of shape. Its dimension being defined

   mostly by a width considerably less than its length. That's all. And depending on

   where you are standing, the proportions change dramatically. It's a relativity thing. A

   portion of a line can be enormous, say, for an ant on a stick or for a human fording

   the Grand Canyon, which is a linear gash in the earth.

                                                          ***


                        The mother of all conversion devices

        We are the earth-walking octopus. This mimetic attribute is our modus operandi

   and directly supports our success on earth. It both inures and lures us to try to read

   the nontangible messaging across the larger environmental stage on which we
  
   perform. This means the subtle messaging among the inanimate or all that is defined

   superficially as not possessing a beating heart nor the ability to move on its own.

        Emphasis on 'try.' We intend this because of the quaint but exasperating habit we

   have of doubting our sensory acumen yet believing we have the means, make that the

   entitlement, of figuring it all out. Thus, we are all at once modest and arrogant. We are

   inconsequential yet almighty.

        The only way we can do all this is by developing hyper-sensitivity to 'effects' and

   inventing equivalencies for them; that 'this is like that.' With the term 'like' being the

   mother of all converting devices since it expresses in one tiny idea that every sensory

   input converges with others, suppressing and altering perception so that the notion of

   'certainty' is always a negotiable target.

        Let's take it a step further. Vision converts sound inputs just as touch converts

   vision, etc. In each case, it sharpens our focus beyond the original input. When we

   hear something in the background, it remains ambient if we do not turn our vision into

   a sound-seeking device to identify the direction from which it came. Close your eyes if

   you don't believe me. Now eco-locate. Have someone move about and make noise.

   Your eyeballs cannot suppress their mission to swivel in their socket and locate the

   cause.

        'Touch' further converts the impact of vision too. What you see in the distance

   cannot be touched. When you finally do touch it, the story has changed. It happens all

   the time.

         Take that blueish, greenish triangle in the distance that I decide should be labeled

   'mountain.' Up close, it is a confusing, sweaty, exhausting enigma of trudging through

   brush and slipping around rocks. The hodgepodge of the new full-body inputting

   necessarily alters the picture. A child cannot learn to visualize about depth perception

   and texture unless he extends himself and touches the world.

        We know this so deeply and immediately that we make adjustments for our

   perception issues with standardized equivalency precepts. Some would call this

   symbolism, but if you did call it that, all animals are highly symbolic too. A dog hears

   the music of someone's gate and 'knows' it is the embodiment of its master. It converts

   distant sounds into tight cognitive formats that function as expectations of imagery

   and emotional rewards.

        Or consider the honeybee. A bee 'waggle dances' in the air, and by so doing,

   sketches an ephemeral map that converts the experience of flying time and direction

   to good flowers and homes, which then somehow lingers as an entity in the brains of

   conspecifics. In this latter case, the bee is 'publishing' the media as an abstract fact.

        They see a map.

        Though we humans are really, really good at this same game, it begins with fits

   and starts and remains mildly troublesome even as we grow wiser. When it comes to

   isolating those 'equivalencies' by capturing them in a stable, freestanding form, it

   requires remarkable physical and cognitive conversions or transfers. Not the obvious

   intangible onto tangible like looking at a sunset that is a two-dimensional spread of

   reflective light quanta and then fixing it in paint or graphite shading, but the motivation

   for even attempting to do so in the first place—in other words, the ‘impulse.’


                                    Recursion

        For most of us, the 'likeness' concept drives our determinations to even invent

   equivalencies in the first place. On what could a communication system be constructed

    or any living thing were recognition of mutual identity absent? For example, if we first

    must agree that the moon looks like a face, we must first take for granted that you

   and I are similar and think the same way. And this has to be well-founded long before

   it occurs to us to symbolize anything. One wonders if language in any form could exist

   without this dynamic recursive context—the belief that ‘I am (like) you.’

        Why do I call this the basic ironclad recursion? Because it is the single operating

   principle of consciousness, a simple yet perfect sentence that reverberates

   throughout our communicative and active lives. It is the framing clause for all creative

   passages such as a thought sentence or any media construction, in fact for all human

   operations. And it immediately branches out to become 'I am (like) that.'        

        This is the ever-rumbling, inner dialogue between perspectives; to consider 'that

   thing over there' in terms of 'me, over here.' In the extreme, it can torment. The term

   for this self-dialogue, ‘soliloquia,’ was coined by Saint Augustine around 386 A.D. (see

   'Soliloquies' 1910). It was for him then, as it is for us now, a percussive, deterministic,

   omnipresent, and cognitive structure apart from which conscious humans cannot seem

   to operate (as suggested above, autism is a putative case in which the intellectual

   understanding might be there, but the technically unassisted and coordinated ability to

   express it is not; see Baron-Cohen 1995, Sacks 1995, Grandin 2013, and Giovanelli

   2006).

       That notion of a soliloquy, in which some version of the 'self' addresses another

   form of the self, is predicated on the active functioning and belief in a fully unified

   sentience where the commingling of intellect, emotion, and bodily feelings is

   summarized as a unity.

        This seems counterintuitive since there seems to be a necessary split of

   perspectives.

         But that's the point. You can't split an apple that isn't whole first.

        The Fronto Insular and Anterior Insular and Anterior Cingulate Cortices are

   significant for this kind of perspective locomotion. Paradoxically, autists have a higher

   ratio of a specific kind of bipolar neuron called Von Economo Neurons or VENs to

   pyramidal cells - a remarkably symmetrical neuron recently identified as essential to

   this kind of gymnastics. In some studies, this was found in young children to be an

   increase of over 50%. An overgrowth to be sure in an area (FI- fronto insular cortex)

   known for the integration of self-ism in terms of emotions, intuitions and social

   skills.      
                   
        In the autist brains, the cell somata (the stomach or really the body of the cell) and

   dendrites (the branches that receive the synaptic impulses) are atypical. The nucleus

   of the neuron tends to be swollen and the dendrites are longer and present like

   corkscrews. The common assessment of this difference suggests a heightened

   interoception or a heightened awareness of the body’s behaviors and needs to the

   extent that an autist’s concern or awareness of other’s physical behaviors and

   therefore social signals are distracted and subjugated.

        But it is a bit more complex than ‘selfishness’ per se. They begin with an acute

   awareness of the apple split and have to work extremely hard to reconstitute it.

   Spinning and flapping arms is their kinetic way to literally pull themselves together,

   even compressing themselves in a 'squeeze' machine as Temple Grandin likes to do.

        Behaviorists and anthropologists have long suggested that this dialoguing back

   and forth in real-time activity defines the modus operandi of the human species. That

   is, that it is outwardly and socially predicated on someone's assumption that their

   actions be answered back by someone or something else. Sanity expects this

   reverberation, which is why solitary confinement dooms those who are unable to

   construct a facsimile for dialoguing.

        Stepping that up a notch, the suggestion has been and continues to be borne out

   in most anthropology and material archaeology tracts (White 2006; Pryor 2008;

   Turner 2008; Goodall) - that exchanging valued resources is a unique bridge between

   like respondents. It creates 'high solidarity' among conspecifics, with one of the most

   significant results being positive emotions. And positive emotions, it has been recently

   discovered, tend to keep long-term memory readily available in the hippocampus

   rather than shipping it off for archiving in the neocortex.

        As early as 1924, Marcel Mauss took this 'exchange' idea a step further or rather a

   few steps backward. He noted that it might not be the object transferred that is  

   significant but the reciprocity itself that ignites the flow of positive emotions and binds

   the giver with the receiver.


            …and increases the individual's commitment to others regardless of what is  
            actually being exchanged…there appears to be a built-in proclivity for
            reciprocity among humans…. (Turner 2008:93)


        Reciprocity and recursion are almost identical concepts. I'm trying not to be extreme

   here, but I hasten to say they are more than just almost identical concepts. Think

   about it. In language, recursion is often defined as a parenthetical elaboration of the

   main clause. It's like a biological clade, an offspring of the same ancestor. A recursion

   reciprocates the initial concept by restating it in some other way.       
 
        Adding a nose to a face is the same kind of thing. We 'get' the face part without the

   nose when there is just a circle containing two paired dots for eyes. We just add the

   nose to echo the main point—the face idea that depends far more on the eyes and

   mouth as the principal players in human communication. In any case, we are

    reciprocating facial assets. We don't really have to, but feel that to avoid confusion or

   to accelerate understanding, it certainly helps. Thus, we are also running back,

   recurrere, on the idea of face when we add another level of description.

        Recursion is also implicit in the notion of dialogue, even self-dialogue, as in that

   wonderful word 'soliloquy.' A conversation with oneself.


            For many days I had been debating within myself many and diverse things,
            seeking constantly, and with anxiety, to find out my real self, my best good,
            and the evil to be avoided, when suddenly one - I know not, but eagerly strive \
            to know, whether it were myself or another, within me or without—said to me.   
            (Book One, The Soliloquies of Saint Augustine,  oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1153)


        Philosophers can probably count on two hands the number of possible 'selves'

   implied in this work. Ironically, for me, the most obvious is the fact that he wrote it

   down. For whom?

        This action alone is a splitting or acknowledging of more than one self. The writer

   and the reader. It means he published it. Publishing is a formalized separation of

   oneself as shedding some form of a freestanding version of a person. It is a facsimile

   of that same person expressed by language that is stabilized on parchment. But it also

   reciprocates or runs back (recurrit) to the author as to who they are, what they

   consider themselves as being, and how they think. The list could go on and on.

        It also attests to their underlying motivation. All writing is a reverberation or

   recursion, a long back and forth of parenthetical actions and descriptions. And this is

   despite having 'one thought'—as an editor on the New York Daily News once told me

   when I interned there, ‘Just one thought,’ he admonished and smiled.

       Why is publishing so significant? Because by doing it, Saint Augustine, in this case,

   captures the many parts of his 'present self' in other media. He gifts it back to himself.

   He also predicates 'my real self' based on the similitude of others who might

   encounter the writing, including his future 'self' when he rereads it. It is a similitude

   that is a parenthetical description of the main clause - 'me.'

        Think about it further. You do not offer a gift unless you assume what the receiver

   might feel. You temporarily invent yourself as this person. When it comes to verbal

   communication, you do not even open your mouth to speak unless you assume

   someone wants to hear you (hopefully). Quite naturally, the only basis for this

   assumption being yourself and how you imagine you would feel as recipient.