Non-verbal communication (2017)

But a worldview is exactly what Lakoff is talking about. “Ideas don’t float in the air, they live in your neuro-circuitry,” Lakoff said. Each time ideas in our neural circuits are activated, they get stronger. And over time, complexes of neural circuits create a frame through which we view the world. “The problem is, that frame is unconscious,” Lakoff said. “You aren’t aware of it because you don’t have access to your neural circuits.” So what happens when you hear facts that don’t fit in your worldview is that you can’t process them: you might ignore them, or reject or attack them, or literally not hear them….Progressives are still living in the world of Descartes and the Enlightenment, Lakoff said, a neat world governed by the rules of logic. Descartes said, “I think therefore I am,” but Lakoff claims that we are embodied beings and that 98 percent of thought is unconscious. Our thoughts are chemical in nature, and occur within the confines of a physical body: we are not 100 percent rational beings.

(Written in 2017, apparently, and forgotten.)

As George Lakoff says, very little of our thought is conscious. Indeed I’m not sure that it all even occurs in the brain at all (our skin and digestive tract can react to things without the brain ever being involved at all…you might be turned off by some dude because your epidermis once detected a clamminess in his fingers or not eat a food because your stomach once rejected it) which wasn’t thought but we’re making judgements based on sensory input that occurred in the nervous system outside the brain. And we don’t even know how the bacteria in our bodies drives our own behavior and choices…but they’re what provides our body odor and perhaps our pheromones (consider those implications….) And most of the way we communicate with and signal one another is done without speech and language. Trump said more to his voters with his half spoken sentences and physical cues than a progressive ever could with logic. Indeed logic was set upon by both Left and Right this year. And by the media as well, which was continuously seduced by visuals and slogans and interpreted logic as a sign of weakness. We don’t even know yet just how unconscious thought and social media work together, but there sure as hell is little thinking behind viral memes and yet by far the most successful and influential social media is memes. (Indeed, people respond viscerally if you criticize a meme.) And then there is this new phenomenon of memetic moments of late night comedy, a millionaire comic crying, that have incredible impact despite the fact that it is, after all, one of the super rich pretending to be one of us. In real life a crying millionaire would bring only scorn. On TV or watched over and over on YouTube, the tears become more genuine than real life.) Perhaps more than any other election, at least in modern times, 2016 was decided by non-verbal communication. Indeed, the two iconic images of the campaign were the headshots of Trump and Bernie, grimacing. This is ancient alpha male stuff. Trump’s was intentional–he practices those grimaces–and Bernie’s completely unintentional, but no matter. It’s not like we are responding logically to these images.

Ya know, advertising has been hip to this for decades. We do all sorts of things because advertising is so tuned in to neurology. Super Bowl Sunday is nothing but Madison Avenue figuring out how to get into your skull, plus a little football. Trump has a natural affinity for marketing and advertising. He knows what sells to a lot of people. That doesn’t mean he’s especially bright, but it does mean he’s not as dumb as a lot of much more intelligent people. Then again, those people believed what they were taught in philosophy class. Free will and logic. Thinking therefore being. The power of ideas. There’s a sucker graduating every minute. Including me, apparently, wasting time writing this when a simple meme would have worked so much better.

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