On words and data structures in the mind

The human mind works with mental images. During our lifetime these images get linked to certain words (God, heaven, hell, punishment, reward), to each other and to our bodily feelings in a manner that is coherent to certain community or culture, but also to some extent unique to every person. Each of us forms our own data structure in the cognition that keeps growing and changing while we are alive. These links can also be said to be meanings.

We could describe this structure in an array form:

#! /bin/bash

Then we describe another set

#! /bin/bash
Image[2]='father in childhood'
Image[3]='mother in childhood'

When language is used to convey a message, words and sentences are used as functions intended to create a certain reaction in the mind of the receiver. Usually these intended reactions are very much under the surface. I will now switch to (semantic) MediaWiki syntax. Imagine person A saying: “God will reward you for what you are doing.” This can be described in wiki syntax

{{meaning| {{image|God}} will {{image|reward you}} }} for
{{image|what you are doing}}.

Here, A is making use of the mental images of God and reward. These images are formed in the receiver’s mind, and this results in meaning being formed. The phrase “for what you are doing” is said to create awareness in the receiver of his or her agency.

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Life as phases in narrative production

A narrative creates a temporary structure in the world that enables us to respond to it by creating our own narrative or deciding a course of action. Here I understand a narrative as a “linquistic entity with inner coherence”: it can be a thought that I write or say out loud, or a column or blog text that I produce.

I understand life as phases in narrative production. Here I try to create an approximate map of the development through reflecting my personal experiences:

Childhood narratives: from age 4 to 14
In childhood, narratives are verbal, and feedback from the environment is constant, partly because we are learning how to use language at the same time as we produce these narratives. The keyword is playfulness; language use is a play that we are engaging in.

“Mom said you shouldn’t eat candy.”
“Can I come to your place after school?”

Young person narratives: age 15-19
A person becomes more interested in the surrounding society through media. We are no longer reliant solely on the information that our parents and friends deliver us. We grow to be critical, but at the same time we can become cynical unless we actively reflect what we have learned with the people around us.

“It was horrible what happened in that bus crash last week.”
“I heard Alice is dating that boy from Brooklyn.”

Narrative confusion: 20-23
The amount of information received every day grows, and we obtain mind tools to handle it. At the same time it becomes difficult to say anything about anything because everything depends. Things you say make people angry so you don’t say your thoughts out loud except in small private gatherings where there is trust.

Adulthood narratives: 24-
Trust in self is established, which in turn enables relevant narrative production. Return to the playfulness of childhood via humor: create controversy and engage in debates.

“It is ironic that the US is preaching freedom while making every effort to limit it.”

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Antifragile team/group/project/organization

antifragile team

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November 6, 2013 · 1:18 pm

On systemic self-reliance

When it comes to human systems (such as a choir, a football team or an impro group), self-reliance is important in their successful functioning in a concert, a match or a show.

I am talking about systemic self-reliance here, because I understand the emerging community as one organic ‘self’ that trains, acts and feels. Words like trust and confidence usually point out the perspective of the individual, and while using these words we fail to see the team or group as an organic whole.

This systemic view helps to understand why workplaces where employees come and go struggle to create a healthy working climate, or a choir where many people are often missing from practice has challenges in running and sustaining itself. The system is trying to grow as self-reliant but it is constantly broken by external challenges.

We could sketch that the amount of self-reliance in a system is calculated as follows:

systemic self-reliance = common successful experiences + amount of training alone/together + environment variable

The environment variable comes to play when a football team faces the opposing team, or when the choir faces the audience. When there is enough training, the system (the group) is effectively antifragile, and it learns from the environment and adjusts its behavior based on the feedback from the opposing team or the audience.


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Recent developments

Here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

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How to invite reflection?

1) Be with the others (reader, audience): recall shared experiences
2) Introduce randomness (challenges, risks, contradictions); break cognition
3) Offer an explanation (solution): unify cognition





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On accepting a narrative



August 20, 2013 · 1:22 pm