“We have now surveyed a wide range of creole structures across a number of unrelated creole languages.  We have seen that even taking into account the, in some cases, several centuries of time that have elapsed since creolization, and the heavy pressures undergone by those creoles (a large majority) that are still in contact with their superstrates, these languages show similarities which go far beyond the possibility of coincidental resemblance, and which are not explicable in terms of conventional transmission processes such as diffusion or substratum influence (the ad hoc nature of the latter should be adequately demonstrated by the opportunism of those who attribute a structure to Yoruba when it appears in the Caribbean and to Chinese when it appears in Hawaii).  Moreover, we find that the more we strip creoles of their more recent developments, the more we factor out superficial and accidental features, the greater are the similarities that reveal themselves.  Indeed, it would seem reasonable to suppose that the only differences among creoles at creolization were those due to differences in the nature of the antecedent pidgin, in particular to the extent to which superstrate features had been absorbed by that pidgin and were therefore directly …

I typed “Chomsky ‘universal grammar’ matrilineal” into Google, looking to see how much attention has been given to the various tenets of Chomsky’s universal grammar as regards social structure. The results were 215, fewer if I subbed in “patrilineal.”  Using “Transformational Grammar,” the results were even fewer.

For the most part, theorists and academics are not exploring juxtapositions between social structure and language structure as they relate to Chomsky’s hierarchy trees and the various parts of language that might suggest some sort of evolution over time.

One issue is that in Chomsky’s foundation hypothesis, every human on the planet shares the same language template.  This may be true.  Then again, there may be derivations.  If we presuppose, as the anthropologist Chris Knight, the archeologist Marija Gimbutas, and sociologist Riane Eisler have, that humans evolved until recently within matrifocal social structures, then language structure may or may not reflect this matrifocal evolution, depending on whether the hypothesized template was completed before or after the transition to patrifocal social structure.

If matrifocal social structure language groups show clear trends in particular linguistic structures, then it might be possible to adjust Chomsky trees to reveal evolutionary developments over time.

The hypothetical emergence of …

I get into these spaces where I feel driven, pushed to perform, in a relatively relaxed kind of way.  I pace myself.  I exercise, meditate, eat pretty well and pay attention to my body to some degree to make sure I can continue to perform.  I push.

With time I’ve grown accustomed to my rhythms as I have to what my body won’t digest and so get good results from the time that I am awake each day.  There is fear that acts as motivator.  There is also a sense that I am a mere moment, inches away from union, from significant understanding.

For example, I go through stages where I won’t watch movies while I exercise.  I don’t want to waste time on entertainment when I could be learning, absorbing, getting clues to the way the world works.  I watch academic lectures on DVD instead.

I crave connection and so continually explore my world for evidence of connections I can’t see.

My tendency to be aware of the boundaries between life and death has been enhanced by my having become aware that I have a brain aneurysm and by the possible surgery for the brain aneurysm.  It feels like …

Hybrid Vigor

August 4, 2009 | 4 Comments

Category: Autism, Causes of Autism, Society

On page 575 of the May 1 issue of Science there is an article, “Africans’ Deep Genetic roots Reveal Their Evolutionary Story.” Examining the blood of 3,194 Africans from 113 populations, researchers looked for patterns in inheritance. “In many cases, the team found that ethnic, cultural, and linguistic differences reflected real genetic differences…” For example, the three hunter gatherer click language cultures (Sandawe, Hadza and Khoisan) were all genetically connected.

They ran comparisons to 98 African Americans. “…71% of their DNA from ancestors who came from all over western Africa, 8% from other parts of Africa, and 13% from Europeans.”

A premise of my work is that there are several causes of autism that are related to changes in a mother’s sexual hormone levels as this relates to changes in testosterone and estrogen levels over the course of our recent (3,000 generations) evolution. We’ve transformed from a matrifocal, aboriginal, high-testosterone/high-estrogen female, low-testosterone/low-estrogen male to the reverse, a high-testosterone/high-estrogen male, low-testosterone/low-estrogen female. Various environmental and social effects propel our children backward hundreds, sometimes thousands, of generations. When sent too far back, their world becomes again one characterized by primary process (one time, one place, no negatives) that in modern times manifests …

I’ve been reading Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media. Having read Trippi, Rheingold, Shirky and others, I thought I’d go back to the source of many insights regarding media and social transformation.

McLuhan is a very odd experience. He often writes in an oracular style, allowing the reader several ways to interpret what he says. As a specialist in the process rather than in the content forms of human mass communication, he nonetheless relies upon a deep reservoir of literary references to offer texture to what he writes. The result is truly Delphic. It feels like much that is communicated can be taken in opposite ways. From my perspective, it feels like he misses much by committing so deeply to an ethnocentricity that places the works of modern culture above ancient societies along with a deep reverence for Progress.

He evidences a methodology and spirituality that revere process yet neglects to embrace all process as part of a larger whole. But, then again, maybe not.

McLuhan writes, “If the work of the city is the remaking or translating of man into a more suitable form than his nomadic ancestors achieved, then might not our current translation of our entire lives into …

Of the seemingly infinite number of paradoxes that go with being human, there is the one where we find ourselves experiencing experience as an individual, a separate being, often alone while seeking to use those tools which make us a separate being to leverage ourselves back into an experience of self that does not feel separate.

It is like using an ice cream scoop to go on a diet or reducing greenhouse gases by flying jets.

Language and storytelling are central to who and what we are as split-consciousness human beings.  We are compulsive mythmakers lining up words in fashions that evoke emotions, images and songs.

We have this ability to be two places at once by using this weird thing called imagination that makes it possible to estimate what it would be like to be in a separate time, separate place or in another person’s body or experience.

Language and imagination are so closely linked as to be almost inseparable.  Still, a person can have experiences of imagination without language.  Note that these experiences are often characterized by a nonseparate experience of self.

We intuit that language is somehow closely connected to how we keep our self identified with …

Mysticism is largely about shifting identity. There are techniques–strategies and tactics–that encourage opportunities to identify at levels alternative to what occurs within one person’s body or one’s imagination. When the opportunities appear, an individual can choose to identify with something different from himself or herself.

People are engaging in such opportunities across society. Mysticism could not be further from their minds.

There was a time in our species’ past, perhaps not so very long ago, maybe as few as 3,000 generations ago, when our experience was not characterized by individuality. One of the several profound differences between then and now was that then we had a far less concise idea of the passing of time. This was true socially and biologically. Socially things just did not change much. There were no fads or fashions. Progress as a concept is barely 250 years old, let alone tens of thousands.

Biologically our brains were not sorting in a narrative, sequential path. When narrative reality emerged and spoken language acquired the ability to parse out past from present and present from future, we acquired individuality at the same evolutionary moment. With our ability to disassociate in time we were also able to imagine …

Maybe fifteen years ago, Natalie Cole recorded a vocal track on top of one of her father’s productions, resulting in a duet between a dead Nat King Cole and his daughter.  Drew Friedman, the cartoonist, inked a panel with a skeleton performing with Natalie, suggesting an incongruence in the production.  For some, the duet felt contrived.

A unique video emerged on the web several months ago.  In the video, street musicians from cities across Europe, Africa, South America and the U.S. perform where they live, in the street, with headphones on.  They contribute both to the tracks of the performance and to the video that was recording the series of integrated performances.  The song is Stand By Me.

As in the Susan Boyle video, several story lines come together to create a powerful presentation.

When I was a boy in the 1950s, there was a TV show called Tales of the Texas Rangers.  What I loved was the beginning.  A single lawman is walking down the street.  Over the course of the growing intro music, he is joined and followed by others until by the end there are maybe 30 earnest lawmen walking in a triangle with the original guy …

Perhaps a particular product representing manifestations of one or more technologies could be regarded as an individual in a model that explores how heterochronic theory may apply to technological evolution.  There are far more ideas than there are actual products that are conceived when their design process begins in earnest.  An idea would be the equivalent of an egg or sperm.  As the idea becomes refined enough to begin the step-by-step procedures that involve development, we might say the idea has been conceived and is growing embryonically.  Upon production, and the introduction of the new technology or technological variation, the idea is born.

No matter how many of the products are manufactured and distributed, reproduction would not be said to occur until one of the many ideas suggested by the product begins the process of new product development.

That would be the life of an individual.  The death of a product, according to Kevin Kelly, is often greatly exaggerated.  Once produced, a product tends to linger though its production may fall off dramatically.

A technological species might be equivalent to an automobile.  A related species might be motorcycles.  Propeller airplanes more distant yet.  Propeller-driven wind turbines start to cross over …

Watching Technology, Entertainment, Design Lectures (TED Lectures) just now, I took in a couple of Kevin Kelly presentations.  Then I visited his blog.

Kelly is writing a book and inviting feedback from visitors for his emerging ideas.  I remember a similar process engaged in by Orson Scott Card for a book he was writing ten years ago or so.  Card was writing fiction.  The end result was disappointing.  Kelly is exploring the nature and ramifications of technology.  I expect the results will be profound.

In one of the TED Lectures of Kelly discussing the ideas he’s playing with as he writes his book, he describes technology as a seventh earth biota emerging from human machinations.  While looking at Kelly’s blog, it hit me that the principles I work with might apply to technology.

I left the following message on Kelly’s blog…

“I study the effects of neoteny and acceleration on human evolution and societal transformation.  This was called heterochronic theory over 100 years ago.  It is a biological evolutionary principle popularized for a time by Stephen Gould in his 1977 book, Ontogeny and Phylogeny.

Heterochronic theory traces the effects of changes in the rate and timing of maturation.  These …

The Quick Read

July 24, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Society, Web

Just finished a quick read, A Short History of Progress, by Ronald Wright.  At first, I found the work annoying.  An approximately 70-page overview of human history discussed none of the competing paradigms but stuck with the conventional default view of history.  An overview observing competing theories would be interesting, but that was not Wright’s goal.  After the ~70-page set-up, he started talking about environmental destruction.

What Wright did is set up a playing field to discuss various ways we may choose to destroy ourselves.  It is a sort of CliffsNotes version of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel plus Collapse without the erudition, insight or sense of doom.

One of the more interesting parts of the book is Wright’s comparison of Sumer and the Easter Islands with the ancient Greeks and Romans.  In Sumer and the Easter Islands, they destroyed themselves, possibly without the knowledge of how they were doing so or without a civic structure to stop the process, but the ancient Greeks and Romans observed how specifically they were agriculturally compromising their future.  The Greeks and Romans did not act to stop the self destruction.

The drama that we, more than six billion people, are in …

When I was a young child, I was terrified by death.  As a boy in my room in the dark with the night-light and my dog, I’d make sure all doors and drawers were closed and that my hands did not stray too far away and be grasped by monsters.  Anxiety, and often terror, was familiar.

The experience of feeling frightened so frequently over such a long period of time generates a kind of intimacy that itself creates an unexpected product.  The world acquires a vast presence that feels accompanying.  It’s not a pleasant feeling of an attendant familiar.  The variations of fear that include nervousness, anxiety, fear and terror began to inform who I was and how I experienced my self.  A hypersensitive theory of mind resulted, preceded at first by my having little idea of what another person might be thinking or feeling and then evolving to a certainty that what another person might be thinking and feeling had to do with me.  I see strangers.  I see them look at me.  I assume they are thinking something negative about me.

How I felt, informed how I believed the world to be.  Frightened of so much, the world …

Bipolar Ruminations

July 22, 2009 | 12 Comments

Category: Autism Features

Listening to the radio yesterday, I heard a Terry Gross interview with a woman author.  I don’t recall her name or the books she wrote, but she described the experience of being a bipolar author and finding herself frequently saying things she wished she hadn’t.  The author noted that the condition in its manic stage is characterized by the sharing of inappropriate words and behaviors and a difficulty identifying conventional boundaries.

I grew up with a bipolar mother, yet I’d never made the connection between the manic phase of the condition and Asperger’s, where individuals often can’t easily intuit appropriate words and behavior.  The connection suggests several questions.

Is a bipolar person having this difficulty identifying social convention boundaries during the manic stage having this same difficulty in the depression stage?  During the depression stage, is the difficulty just not obvious because of the diminution in engagement?  Or, is there an endocrinological foundation to this difficulty, with swings in hormone levels mirroring these changes in behavior?

Many women experience radical swings in mood before, during and after menstruation.  If I remember right, progesterone levels can plummet, resulting in mood changes, and in some women, migraines.  My mother was bipolar, and …

I have barked up a lot of trees as I have been trotting blindfolded through the forest of possibilities that have had me so captivated the last twelve years.  I seem to have a natural inclination to shut myself off to conventional interpretations.  Instead of using my eyes, I’m feeling, smelling and listening to what’s around me until I get a taste of what it is I seek.

Finding powerful ways of explaining what I’ve found becomes as important as what I’ve discovered in these forests.  Sometimes the metaphor itself feels as significant as the process the metaphor seeks to represent.

Alford Korzybski famously noted, “A map is not the territory it represents, but if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.”  From my Zen evolutionary perspective, the territory is constantly in flux, representing an infinite number of constantly shifting relationships.  My art seeks to be part of a process that creates theories that can usefully represent these constantly changing relationships, and then I want to devise metaphors to make the theories feel accessible.

The proofs part is a challenge.

So, while I develop a repertoire of metaphors, proofs elude me.

I use …

Male

July 20, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Auto-Biography

People can be so vain that they believe that being thought vain would be an assault to their persona.  So, they compensate by making sure that they appear unkempt in both the way they look and how much they seem to care when others regard them.

People who are aware that they are deeply narcissistic, ashamed that this is the case, might be appalled that someone thinks they are narcissistic, and so they pay close attention to their behavior, encouraging the exhibition of sensitivity and compassion.

I’ve noticed in my male friends and in myself varying degrees of obsession/compulsion as we now begin the process of winding down our lives.  We are stalked by a deep desire for sex and/or immortality.  I’m not even exactly sure how the two are different.  At a younger age, the craving for sexual union was far stronger, but there were undertones of desire for immortality.  But when one is growing older, the desire for immortality, if anything, seems to have intensified.  And, now that I think of it, sexual fantasies now often culminate with the making of a baby.  This was never the case when I was young, though when young I engaged in …

Brain Play Continued

July 18, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Ontogeny

OK, let’s take the garden hose analogy a little further.  B = brain, CC = corpus callosum.  (See yesterday’s entry for what’s going on here.)

Fat Hose with Small Nozzle        Big B/Little CC     late puberty         Schizo Paranoid
Fat Hose with Fat Nozzle            Big B/Big CC        late puberty         Autism
Small Hose with Small Nozzle    Little B/Little CC  early puberty       Normal
Small Hose with Fat Nozzle        Little B/Big CC     early puberty       Schizo Depressed

Here puberty further exaggerates a tendency to exhibit a nonuseful condition.  A question is to what degree gender influences this paradigm.  In schizophrenia, males often contract the disorder several years before a female does.  It’s not as if a woman’s brain grows smaller over the intervening time, but her brain continues to grow while a male’s brain does not.  Why would a larger brain increase the likelihood of a female contracting the disorder but not increase the likelihood of a male contracting the disorder?

I seem to vaguely remember that manic depression in females is often accompanied by early puberty.

In my autism hypothesis based on a heterochronic interpretation of recent human evolution, males and females exhibit autism in complementary opposite ways.  Pubertal onset is not a factor because …

Brain Play

July 17, 2009 | 5 Comments

Category: Ontogeny

I’ve been reading a paper by Bernard Crespi, Psychosis and Autism as Diametrical Disorders of the Social Brain.  Crespi places ASD, or autistic trending conditions, at one end of a continuum opposite schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression at the other end.  One of the features of the theory is that the autistic display little theory of mind, but the schizophrenic show an enhanced theory of mind and easily estimate that others are thinking things they aren’t.

It looks to me like he’s sometimes cherry picking his supporting studies to congregate patterns around an elegant hypothesis.  I must admit I do the same myself.  Suggesting that this wide range of conditions can be cooked down to a single etiological dynamic is not likely.  It is likely, for example, that autism is actually several conditions.  When I go to the dentist with pain, it might be an abscess, a cavity or a bruise.  The dentist doesn’t call all three tooth pain.  He discovers the cause and names the pain based on what he concludes caused the pain.  Someday autism will have several names.

In the meantime, Crespi explores genetic hypotheses for explanations that might explain the patterns that he sees.  I …

There is the possibility that while seeking to parse out narrative and associational frames of reference a sort of nature/nurture fictitious struggle will ensue.

It’s not a question of one or the other.  For example, nature and nurture are two sides of the same hand, different perspectives on the same process.  It depends on where you place your identification.  The more you identify with exchange of information, the more integrated the two processes become.

Whether something is a matter of free will or fate is an issue of scale.  It depends on where you place your identification.  The lower down you identify, the less control you will estimate you have.

We humans have five conscious senses with varying degrees of narrative and associational emphasis.  Sound has a deeply narrative quality revealing depth with time.  Feeling trends toward the associational, providing an ability to integrate massive numbers of different stimuli simultaneously.  The visual sense has features of both, but excels at the ability to represent a number of different pieces of information in a single, integrated, simultaneous whole.

We live life in both narrative and associational frames, leaning one way or the other, depending on perceptual emphasis, hereditary predispositions, environmental effects …

No Words

July 15, 2009 | 3 Comments

Category: Political, Society, Web

For several months now, the Republicans have been seeking to find a way to demonize the Obama Administration, experimenting with the words “socialist” and “fascist” to see which word seems more powerful at evoking fear.

“Fascist” suggests a one-party government controlled by a small elite, often with close ties to specific corporations.  Fascism is often characterized by an atmosphere composed of fear and reprisal.

“Socialist” seems to imply a government focused on the group instead of the individual, denying individuals their desire to do as they please while seeking ways to make the less economically advantaged individuals within the group more secure.  Implied is the denigration of individual rights.

In both cases, there is the implied “in” group and “out” group.  Republicans are seeking ways to have people who identify with being the out group identify with Republicans, who identify themselves as the out group.  Regarding fascism, Republicans work the meme that Democrats are in total control.  Declaring socialism, they imply that the individual has lost all ability to achieve success.

Republicans and Democrats are mirror images of each other in many ways, particularly as regards the military, military contracts, lobbying-based government, foreign relations and both parties agreeing on how …

Medium is the Message II

July 14, 2009 | 2 Comments

Category: Society, Web

More and more work is emerging that is noting the influence of the Internet on society as regards the web as a communications media informing how we view the world.

This is a process rather than language version of the Sapir/Whorf hypothesis that the structure of the process through which information is disseminated deeply influences the content that is shared.

Marshall McLuhan understood and communicated that different media suggested different solutions to the problems that society wrestles with.  One-to-many media in a hierarchical society limit an ability to consider horizontal, many-to-many solutions.  There are specific problems created by allegiance to specific media, problems particularly difficult to deconstruct in an environment committed to those specific media.

One-to-many media encourage apathy and a belief that we as individuals can only have a limited effect.  This helplessness keeps hierarchical societies stratified.

The Internet encourages an experience of personal empowerment by offering individuals an ability to achieve goals and communicate in fashions that result in change.  There is a not so subtle realignment of orientation to identifying with a group as a means to specific ends.  On the web, becoming a member of a group is quick and seamless.  Achieving ends becomes quick and …

Theory Story

July 13, 2009 | 5 Comments

Category: Art, Myth/Story

I wrestle with ways to communicate my theory of human evolution.  It is necessary I translate a non-narrative paradigm into a narrative format.  Human beings happen to experience the world narratively.  This seems a result of two related developments.  The first is our having developed language as a function of the narrative art forms dance and song (part of my hypothesis).  The second is a result of our having evolved split consciousness, which allows an ability to manifest imagination, which is an exercise involving being two places at once, two times at once, with an ability to consider what does not exist.

Narrative is essential when communicating with humans.  If a species from another planet only communicated in fashions characterized by simultaneity and sent us a string of signals designed to be aggregated into a single piece, we’d probably have no idea how to begin to interpret the communication.  For example, maybe Martians communicate in a form like an abstract painting, embedding deep and thoughtful messages in color variation, location, contrast, intensity, size, framing conventions and context.  We’d be clueless.

Narrative communication is a human convention.  We are a species obsessed with time.  It is difficult considering language without time.…

My laptop is down.  It sits at the left side of my desk.  At the right side of my desk is the older unit I used until three years ago.  That is where I sit until Bob arrives and figures out what’s wrong.  When that’s fixed, I’ll have access to all current projects and I’ll be able to start my day.

Just now, sitting in my chair three feet to the left of its usual location, leaned back in the chair with my head cocked to the side, I was startled into noticing a particularly powerful combination of visual elements outside the window of the office.  The way that the oak tree, banister, stop sign, distant foliage and apartment building across the street arranged themselves was a uniquely powerful congregation of composition, color, contrast and depth.  When I untilted my head, the arrangement was still there, but I’d never noticed it before.  All it took was an unexpected adjustment in my viewing angle from an unusual position behind my desk to recognize beauty that had always been there.

It’s all about the frame.  The window “frames” the world to allow a particular point of view.  A framed painting cues the …

Susan Boyle

July 11, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Society, Web

At a gathering of a group of seven friends in April, folks in their 40s to 60s, someone mentioned the Susan Boyle video.  Everyone had seen it after being directed to it by other friends.  On that particular day, over 35 million people had viewed the most popular version of the video.

I was deeply moved by the piece as had been the other people in the discussion.  There seemed numerous layers to the production.  We began parsing out some of those layers as have millions since Susan Boyle appeared that night.

There was a lifting of veils on several levels, usually characterized by a reversal of expectations.

Most obviously there was the ugly duckling story.  Expectations were flipped completely as an expectation of the mundane was replaced by an experience of the exceptional.

There was the participation in a sadistic ritual of expecting to observe the destruction of someone’s dear dream to instead becoming aware that we had been participating in a sadistic ritual.  The power of Boyle’s art ripped away the very context that had created the opportunity for her performance to occur.

A deep congruence emerged in her performance that is perhaps so rare as to be …

Rummaging around some old papers stacked behind my desk, I found a 1987 Neuropsychologia piece titled “Associations of Handedness with Hair Color and Learning Disabilities” by Schachter, Ransil and Geschwind.

The researchers puzzle over the seeming connection between increased left-handedness and blond hair.  I would additionally consider left-handedness as a marker for male maturational delay and possible increases in autism and Asperger’s.

What has me muddling over the various connections at this moment is the profound difference between rates of left-handedness in countries where blond hair is common, like Scandinavia, vs. Asia, where left-handedness is about 2%.  This would suggest that autism rates in Asia would be lower.  Of course, percentage totals are profoundly complicated by differing diagnostic protocols and social support systems.  There does not even seem to be consensus that Asian rates of handedness are really lower than in the West, with many academics suggesting that prejudice is so strong against sinistralality in the East that the low numbers reflect only that strong bias.

So, it’s not the case that we’re exploring patterns with clear conventions regarding even basic agreements on the percentages of autism and handedness.

Nevertheless, the following is what is bothering me right now.  As …

In Nicaragua in the 1980s, deaf children were collected in schools where they could be taught together in one location.  They had developed individually various sign conventions, and a language spontaneously emerged where they were gathered in one place.  The oldest children learned this language slowest.  The youngest developed lightning fast sign fluency in this brand new nonverbal creole lingo.

One of the things that makes humans unique is this ability to play with time.  Language, by prying apart the present into a future and past, offers an ability to imagine being in two places at once.  Language lets you realize that the person you are communicating with is a different person, with the rather astonishing insight that the world is not just here and now.

There was a time when we were animals, experiencing the world through an infinitely lingering present, unclear on the boundaries between self and others, where dream was not only night but the every day.

Animals may not have developed humor exactly, but they have fun.  Animals don’t generate and participate in symbolic language, but they play.  Animals that have fun and play are mostly young animals.  Consider that human humor and language, two things …