Model of the text generator


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Model of the text generator

  1. 1. DISCUSSION PERIOD A Model of the Text Generator, Michael W. Mair A "Model of the Text Generator" purports to be an Organic Basis for Consciousness. TheProject thus represents an ultimate in theoretical ambition, and the validity of even attemptingsuch a thing is much challenged. These challenges take two forms.The first comes from those, usually working in some aspect of brain science, who say that ourpresent state of knowledge is such that we cannot even imagine what such a model would be like.They denigrate all such attempts to the status of a kind of after-dinner entertainment, not forserious consideration. These critics may well be right. But it is the view of this author that we donot know even that which we do not believe until we state it, that there are many stages in theevolution of a true theory, as Marcel Kinsbourne has emphasized. This paper is an attempt at asynthesis, certainly not an assertion of "how things are" in the brain and behaviour. It seeks torender visible and explicit some trends in the literature.The second challenge is more radical, and more ancient. Basically it comes from those who insistthat thought and experience have to be unamenable to accounting for by any mechanism. It is theambition of this study to contribute to the emergence of a theory whereby the brain might berendered "transparent," that is, completely understood in principle if not in detail. There may stillremain, when and if this is done, aspects of experience which do not seem to derive from "in here"at all. This point of view will emerge during my paper. I am reminded of a recent conversation Ihad with a woman psychologist at a conference who, on learning what it was that I considered tobe the legitimate goal of the enquiry, said, "Well., I hope you never succeed!" She never stayed tohear the argument. If she had, she might have found the conclusion a little too unphysical.But this second challenge has been well worked over by philosophers. For example, J. D. Searle(1979) speaking at a recent symposium on Brain and mind, said of the theory that philosophy isnot continuous with the empirical disciplines: I myself think that this theory is not refuted, but just became irrelevant by the march of events. Philosophy is much more interesting today than it was twenty years ago simply because we no longer want to make a distinction between philosophical questions and other kinds. If this means that the empirical researchers are marching in on our territory, so much the better, because if they look behind them, they will see that we are marching in on their territory too.But enough of the apologia; Kenneth Craik, writing in the 1940s, well defined the problem, and ifin attempting to formulate a stage in the solution I have looked extensively to the work of KarlPribram, it is not only because I reviewed the work of the latter for this Institute, but because trulyhis contribution has made of these topics a "Pribram world." From Craik (1966) : The adequacy of our examples and explanations of animal mechanisms and behaviour will belargely governed by the general view we take of animal life and its function. There are varioustheories--such as the stimulus-response theory, the theory of instincts and drives, and the theoryof conditioned reflexes and modifiable responses. None of these seems to me to put the emphasisin the right place; the nature of the animal and human mind seems rather to be to copy itsenvironment within itself in an active dynamic model which is capable of realising tendencies and
  2. 2. possibilities of that environment which are obstructed in this outer, world by the separation of thewrong energy-relations among the parts of that environment; and once these possibilities havebeen mentally realised they can often be brought to pass physically through the motormechanisms of man and animal. This notion of life bringing to fruition the possibilities ofthings and acting as a mode of communication for the phenomena of inanimate nature seems tofit, though perhaps in a somewhat romantic way, most of the phenomena. It entails, of course,many actions which seem to be just responses to stimuli and also involves certain tendencies ofinner origin which suggest instincts and drives; but if the explanation is framed in terms of thesethe emphasis will, I think, prove to be in the wrong place: we shall find our postulated mechanismgrossly inadequate to explain these phenomena.I will start with an assertion. "The brain generates text." What is text? Whole courses at the summer institute were devoted to approaching this question.Figure 1 is a graphical transcription of certain instrumentally derived parameters of the speech-with-movement stream with which two participants to a dialogue patterned their space-timeduring a 3.7-second fragment of a half-hour-long conversation recorded four years ago. Themethods used to obtain both the data and the transcriptions of this and other fragments have beendescribed elsewhere (Mair, 1977), but in brief, a "four eyes" split-screen video presentation oftheir faces was obtained using one video-camera and recorder, while the subjects were in electiveeye-contact. Then a three-dimensional nose movement plot ("x" and "y" co-ordinates againsttime) was achieved by taking the position of each nose on the "x" and "y" axis of the videomonitor for each one-tenth of a second time interval for each fragment. The head movement plotswere drawn by the computer graphics programme "Picasso," in a format designed to be visuallypleasing. The effect is of a garden fence viewed from a first floor window, which has height ("y"axis), recedes from and approaches the observer ("x" axis), and the long axis of which is time,from left to right. Naturally, heads move in four dimensions ("x," "y," "z," "t") but this seemsnear impossible to transcribe or represent on a two-dimensional surface such as Figure 1. That thisis the case has a resonance which transcends the merely technical aspect, and which I think of as"The Dimension Problem."The voice transcription was obtained by using two "Laryngographs" (Fourcin, 1974), a devicewhich delivers a plot of fundamental frequency against time from an impedence measure takenacross the larynx. My two young human subjects were thus captives, not only in the sense thatthey were constrained in this highly structured environment, but also in that they were physicallywired up to the machines. Nevertheless, with wine, tact, and time, they would at times becomequite enrapt in each others performance, and I have concerned myself with characteristics of the"joint production" at these times. It is possible to point to certain characteristics of shared textwhich may occur during such states. It must be admitted, however, that an important criterion inthe selection of fragments such as this for transcription was they were aesthetically pleasing.speech and movement plots are drawn to the same scale within and between interactants, andprecisely aligned by visual inspection of plosives and visualisable auditory events such as thestriking of an object in the view of the camera.This is then a fragment of "The Text of Everyday Life" in Paul Bouissacls sense (Bouissac,1977) delivered as a voice and movement choreography. It is rather like concrete poetry. Indeed,this fragment once formed the frontispiece of a poetry magazine.Linguists seldom attend to the nuances conveyed by speech melody. When they do, the result isscarcely if ever convincing. Similarly semioticians and others, when they analyse poetry,generate many words. Monique Leon, in a recent study of a fragment of French colloquialspeech, attempted to categorise all the things one can tell, or at least thinks one can tell with highinter-observer agreement about people from the way they speak. The striking thing that a text
  3. 3. FIGURE 1
  4. 4. fragment demonstrates when plotted in time like this is that although such nuances are in a sensethere (I could write, I think, for ever about the contextual surround of this fragment which feels toimbue it with such meaning), it all happened very quickly. I try to work out how the brain hasdone this. My method is that of the "temporal microscope." As Reng Thom has pointed out (in alecture at this institute),there are two ways of studying a phenomenon: to collect many examplesand generalise--study the "species" characteristics, or to take just one example and analyse, andthen see if what one has discovered holds true for other examples. Another way of putting itwould be to say that I try to put the brain back in its natural habitat (time) to see how it turns outthis tremendously detailed object, the text, its natural product. From this and a very few otherfragments I make my as yet very incomplete theory. To the future belongs the task of seeingwhether it will work or keep on working globally.In many words, around the time of this fragment, the male voice speaker was trying to tell hispartner the location of the technical college in Cambridge. Hes already told her it was near thestation. Shes said, "Well thats... well..." with high and hesitant pitch. He then said, definitively,to clinch it, "You know where the swimming pool is." Her answering, "No," was coquettish, tome, as if to say, "So what if I dont." At that point, he gave up this line of attack and turnedtowards me (I was standing around nearby) and said (still to her): "Perhaps HE can tell you wherethe swimming pool is." But first he had plonked the wine bottle which he happened to be holdingin his hand onto the table, and then they had both laughed. This fragment is also analysed inMair, 1977.What is the brain doing? If one wishes to know how something works, one must know what itdoes. But that has always been the problem of behavioural science, its methodology, to knowwhat data is. As Craik has said: "The adequacy of our examples and explanations . . . will belargely governed by the general view we take 11 (1966). The fragment of data that I haveinstalled in this paper is just and only an instrumentally derived extraction from what was thecase during those 3.7 seconds. If the nuances of an extended poetical description of it, even suchas I have given, were "in it" rather than imposed on it (e.g., "he said, definitively, to clinch it...,"or "her answering No was coquettish..."), and I think the latter is at least half the reality, thenthey had to be active in the very limited time span during which that text was generated. Becauseit was all so quick, we can look to known temporal processes in the brain to see whether or if theirtime forms intersect with the time forms in our text fragment. Truly, we might discover "how thebrain did this" (p. 43). But for them and for us, the fragment was in context, both past and future.The text actualises the moment in the context (Benson & Greaves, 1979), and as we discuss itnow, or at some other time, we re-embed it in contexts of our own, some of which we try to inferas theirs; and so we generate our extended poetical descriptions.Even when I try to describe the physical characteristics of the wave forms and timings in thefragment, I abuse the reality. I believe that one of the brains own properties gets in the way offelicitous description. The brain makes categories out of continuities, it "isolates out" discreteentities in what would otherwise have been a continuum. So if I make a list of what the brain hasdone in this fragment, the elements in the list are some-what arbitrarily demarcated. If I do notcreate such isolates, then I cannot talk to you about it at all! Such are brains.The Brain is: 1) Segmenting Time. This fragment has a kind of chronometer ticking in it, or moreaccurately, two chronometers. One is of roughly syllable duration (Allen, 1973; Mehler, 1980),and the other is of suprasegmental, or prosodic span. The rhythms of the second, for thisfragment, are also fitting into the rhythm of the "plonk" of the wine bottle, and of the synchronyof the laugh. There is a supra-individual beat running through the fragment.
  5. 5. 2) A supra-individual beat implies one timing device for two people, two brains. That thismight indeed be an appropriate interpretation is seen at the temporal synchrony. Brains can worksynchronously. 3) There is melody, that is to say, fundamental frequency varies in time. The melody lookslike a trajectory. Its form has a continuity through the unvoiced phonetic patterning. 4) There are phonetic micro-patternings. These form clusters of syllable length. Other work(Lieberman, 1972) has demonstrated that there are formants, i.e., bi-modal discontinuities in theidentification of phonemes with continuous change within their component frequencies. 5) There are non-articular movements, in this case, head movements as transcribed by themovements of the nose. These are absolutely integrated with the temporal process of speech.They constitute one patterning programme, one trajectory of speech with movement (Kendon,1973). 6) There are Plans, Percepts and Cognitive Change Points. We know that there are Plans, inthe sense of motor programmes, because the time forms of the speech/movement trajectories haveclearly demarcated boundaries and singular shapes. Thus they are manifested plans, and musthave been present in the brain prior to their engagement in real time. But also, prior to plan, theremust be the percept of which the plan is a transformation. The text is an ordered concatenation ofplans and percepts. It tells a story. There must be and is relevance in the ordering of thisconcatenation.The sequence Percept/Plan/Manifestation (motor action) does not just occur at any old time, or inany old order. It is possible to place in time, by this technique, where the Percept/Plan transitionmust have come, within a very few tenths of a second, and occasionally, in other examples, withinabout one-tenth of a second.All these arbitrarily demarcated parameters of text have been fitted into 3.7 seconds in thisfragments. The brains did this. HOW?Figure 2 is a three-dimensional model of the brain. It is a caricature, and like all caricatures, itsconstruction reflects the preconceptions of the artist. It represents a kind of "conceptualanatomy," not of course the real thing--a pedagogical device for explaining my argument. It isjust the sort of thing that most neuro-physiologists abhor. An extended description is in order.We see three paired plates, forming sections of the side walls of an oval box. The two front(frontal lobes) and the two back (occipital lobes) are converging. The two side ones (animaginary compaction of parietal and temporal lobes) are parallel. This brain, like real brains, isbilaterally symmetrical.There is a bridge joining the two temporo-parietal plates. In real brains, it joins the paired frontaland occipital lobes to each other as well. In fact, the identification of these three paired entities isas arbitrary in conventional anatomy as it is in this caricature. The brain has no names. Here, toadd insult to injury, the atrophied remnant of that magnificent structure which has excited thepopular imagination so much because of the consequences of severing it has been torn awayaltogether so that we can "see in" to the deeper structures. That transverse connecting band is thecorpus callosum.The deeper structures, the core brain, were hard to draw. They are very complex, and poorlyunderstood. I have a colleague who spends her working life staring down a microscope atsections of the core brain to try and have structure stand out from the tangle. Even those structuresthat are larger and well-established as entities in the literature, are not immune from occasionalredefinition. Such a revolution in conceptual anatomy may be upon us in such matters as thesupposed separate anatomical and functional reality of the corpus striatum and the limbic system.
  6. 6. FIGURE 2
  7. 7. What is worse, without even making decisions about anatomical and functional identity, justdrawing the substance is hard. The thing bends at its top end; as the spinal cord goes through itstransitions in becoming the core brain, it kinks forward so that all ones carefully understoodtopographical relations in, say, the developing story of spinal cord and brain stem, must be bent asthey change to become the poorly understood structures of the core brain.I have represented this forward kinking in my diagram. For neuro-anatomists and anyone elsewho cares, the hind brain (fourth ventricle, floor of same, with associated cranial nerve nuclei)might be just below the kink. The cerebellum is not there at all! It would stick out of the back ofthe brain stem as it approaches the kink. I have not put it in because it seems that it may justbe a very sophisticated timing device for making trajectories smooth, a kind of calculus machine(Braitenberg, 1977). If this were so, then of course the absence of or damage to the cerebellumwould be (and IS) disastrous for the entrainment of motor programmes. But all the same, it seemsto be somewhat of a "dumb box," and can be dispensed with in our conceptual anatomy.The aqueduct and mid-brain are located at and forward from the kink. Students of "blind sight"(Weiskrants, warrington, Sanders, Marshall, 1974) should note that the tectum is here. We areapproaching the "business" end of this business. The Edinger-Westphal nucleus, which controlsthe focus of the eye is around here. But if "focus" cannot focus (as in the blind) wherewithshall it be focused? Focus "in mind" and focus "in sight" are tantalisingly close concepts.Meanwhile, the cranial nerves continue to sprout from the sides of the mid-brain.Just a little further forwards, the great tracts carrying sensation from all parts of the body get totheir great relay station, the thalamus. From there, they project somatotopically to the corticalplates. This is not shown in this diagram. Nor are the great descending tracts in the "internalcapsule," which go straight into the spinal cord and thus to effector organs, or to cerebellum, orboth, or other. They would fit, however, sprouting out sideways from thalamus to cortex, andplunging down on either side of the thalamus into the cord, between the central kinked stem(bifid up front), and the paired "ears." How strange to caricature the brain and just leave out thefibre tracts of the internal capsule! There is an embryological justification and a newinterpretation of conceptual anatomy which justifies this omission. The paired thalami, the relaystations, are here imagined to be in each side of the bifid front portion of the stem.Now what of these ears? "Up Front," here, we have a bewildering array of clumps of cells andfibre tracts, with their inter-connections which have been conceptually demarcated into suchentities as the Basal Ganglia (Caudate, Putamen, Globus Pallidus, perhaps red nucleus andsubstantia nigra, perhaps including even the subthalamic nucleus, the one to which damageappears to give the wild yet formed movements of hemiballismus and chorea), the Hypothalamuswhich is the supposed "head ganglion," of the autonomic system yet whose lateral nuclei areinvolved with such motor processes as the satiation of hunger and thirst; and the Limbic system,this controversial set of entities, sometimes thought of as a circuit, which are thought by some toconstitute a "visceral" (MacLean, 1978), i.e., base functions brain, but to which some others, likeKarl Pribram, and the author of this paper following him, seek to ascribe such elevated tasks asthe generation of the text itself. This supposed system includes the hippocampus, of "memory"fame, the amygdala, the pillars of the fornix, the lateral hypothalamus, the mammary bodies, theseptal nuclei, and the nucleus accumbens. For a thorough description of this system the reader isreferred to Isaacson (1974). But it must be emphasised that exploration of these core brainstructures is very much "hot topic" in contemporary neuro-physiology. What I have done is justto say that the core brain structures can be thought of as a circuit, lumped them all together, anddrawn them accordingly. This renders explicit one trend in neuro-physiological thinking. Itthereby negates others; but it makes our model make sense, if not the reality.
  8. 8. Action segments time. It also delivers a world that has been conceptually rearranged. My "C"-shaped core brain circuits are incomplete. They are closed by action on the world. As one acts(the down push on the pedal of the bicycle), one monitors what one has done, and it is this which,in association with an idea of direction, engenders the next action, and so on. So we pedalthrough time, in which we can only travel one way, and thus engender or have engendered for usthe experience, the sort of time we are having in both conceptual and segmentary sensessimultaneously. The circuit lays down a track in time, a text. Only the unfortunate with specifichippocampal damage can achieve the Zen ideal of "no track" (Leggett, 1977).Is there any evidence that the brain works even remotely like this? Naturally, I say yes. KarlPribram is one who may have had such an idea in mind since at least 1960 (Miller, Gallanter &Pribram, 1960). With his co-authors then, he speculated on the limbic system as the "processor,"a terminology which although not that of a circuit, certainly gives it a bigger function than that ofmediating those imagined entities, the "emotions." More recently, in a paper "How Is It ThatSensing so Much We Can Do So Little?" (Pribram, 1974), he describes the way that the basalganglia might play an active role in perception. in between these two papers we have manyothers from him, on "Attention," which subdivide that concept into registration, effort, andreadiness/significance mediated by Hippocampus, Amygdala, and Basal Ganglia respectively(Pribram &McGuinness, 1980). Creuzfelt too (1979) writes warmly of the basal ganglia in thisregard, and there is the work of R. Hassler (1978) that he cites in which that author says (of hiswork on cats): "the three parts of the Corpus Striatum control intentional actions (my emphasis)and not simple movements without conscious representation." Perhaps we might conceptualisethe core-brain as a kind of "circuit of the self" and this notion becomes an effective organiser ofmany observations on cortical (as distinct from core-brain) pathology--the self in the sense ofacting subject can be there, despite the scotomas,. specific incompetences, distortions of bodyschema, personality changes, and localised motor weaknesses of cortical damage and atrophy(Gardner, 1977). It is of special interest to note that babies with very little in the way of a cortexcan do surprisingly well, sometimes for months, in eliciting by their relevant motor actions thecaring behaviours in their custodians necessary for their physical survival. But lesions producedwithin the core brain itself produce specific, repeatable, and drastic consequences for behaviour.Again Isaacson chronicles these effects, but the phenomenon of supra-nuclear palsy (a slowingdown without loss of competence) is well known. I have personally seen unfortunates with intactcortices who are awake, but do--nothing. They had had tumours scooped out of theirhypothalamuses. Finally, it has been found possible (Robbins, Sahakian,.1979; Kelly, Seviour,Ivreson, 1975) to differentiate the polar opposites perseveration and hyperactivity (doing thesame thing again and again, and doing many different things very quickly) by specifically placed"transmitter lesions," a kind of internal bombing of cells working with particular transmitters.The structures involved appear to be a component of the corpus striatum, and the nucleusaccumbens. Perhaps, later in this paper, when we come to try and make a mathematical reality ofthe notion of "cognitive change point," we should put that part of our text generator circuit justthere. After all, it is transmitter disturbance which characterises the "high" of LSD, the sametransmitter (on the Dopamine series) which is crucial, up here, in the circuit of the self. The oorsof perception might be cleansed thereby (Huxley, 1954), but participation in text, that is, in theconcatenation of relevancies shared by others, is decidedly impaired.Now what of the cognitive change points, which subjectively we might identify as the momentswhen we realise something. We might also realise Consciousness as the span of time andstructure between these. I take this idea of Consciousness being none other than the dominantplan from Tim Shallice (1972, 1978). The fact that it involves spatial span as well as temporalsegment is most interesting, and will be highly relevant when we come to discuss the Fouriertransform analysis of sensory input that the cortex may be doing. As Shallice points out (1978),that little space called consciousness would in this model not be the end of the road in our search
  9. 9. for the springs of human action "in there." I avoid making a hierarchy of this, but that little spaceof consciousness, always and forever just too short to be caught by itself (a finite limit tointrospection) is evidently but the tip of the iceberg of a vast organisation.But as distinct from Shallice, who would seem to see a kind of competition occurring on thecortical surface for access to the "action system," between plans (and Mountcastle 1979) arguessimilarly when he writes of the "Command Function"), I am arguing, after Pribram, that it is thecore-brain which accesses, selects, and delivers from the diversity of informations present in theparallel processing cortex (and employing and validating from the "frontal stacks") theconcatenation of relevancies that constitutes the text, segmenting time as it does it. From Craik,it may be the cortex which has the "active dynamic model" of the environment, and the core-brain which realises the possibilities in the relations between parts of that environment, thusbringing them to pass physically through the motor mechanisms (Craik, 1966).What of this parallel processing cortex, where everything is going on all at once? The reciprocalarrows from core-brain to cortex in Figure 2 are not thalamic projections or cortical projections tothe spinal cord. They are meant to symbolise this reciprocity whereby the core-brain can accessselectively. Accessing selectively can be interpreted as either turning off diversity or letting insingularities. Hence the reciprocity in the arrows. It is quite possible that this reciprocal relationto the cortex is not everywhere in the core-brain. My guess would be that it is the property of theCorpus Striatum.In his book on the limbic system, Isaacson (1974) calls the cortex "The Guru" because he stressesits abilities in the manipulation of time. Certainly the human brain has most expansion in thosecortical areas--frontal and temporal lobes--which deal in plan and memory, and I have suggestedelsewhere (Mair, 1980) that the cardinal human innovation might be a "time trick"--the ability tospend present time organising things for another time. Although the mechanism of textgeneration might be the same in man and animals, animals are quite constrained in their exigesesby their immersion in their physical environments. They can go places and do things, that is all.Even where they would appear to make rudimentary tools (Van Lawick Goodall, 1971), they getthrown if the context-embedded motor sequences are broken, e.g., the phenomenon that MichaelChance has discussed as the "recombinatorial" abilities (Chance) of man as distinct from animalsin the construction of motor programmes for dealing with the world. Rene Thom (1975) haschristened this physical-context-free world of ours the Virtual World, but he stresses: "If manhas escaped from the fascination of things through the use of language, he remains under thefascination of action incorporated in the grammar of language (a verb conjugates etc.)" (p. 311).In a sense, in the arbitrary sign system (in Saussures sense) of language (1966), our species wouldappear to have turned out a brain product into the world (or rather a great number of such systemsof brain products) and then continued to live within these diverse logico-semantic systems (or"Cultures"). But as far as the humble processor is concerned, this sophistication of the humanvirtual world and cortex which gives us the ability to recognise a sharp phenomenologicaldifference between classes of sign (e.g. Peirces Index., Icon, and Symbol [Peirce, 1940; Savan,19761) might not be relevant to the mechanics of access, assembly, and delivery which constitutethe cycle of the text generator in man and animals alike.On the question of "Localisation of Function," which was the topic of Karl Pribrams address to hecolloquium of the summer institute, we can see that the access problem and the localisationproblem are likely to have a joint solution. Looking once more at Figure 1, the Swimming PoolFragment, it is evident that the speaker had to find "swimming pool" as a concatenation ofarticulatory targets very quickly, such as to deliver it as an intonational form, a trajectory.similarly, his partner had to match this against some version of a logico-semantic system. Peter
  10. 10. Salus has referenced some work which suggests that a search procedure (looking for a word) isself-terminating. Its like a little quantal "pulse" of search. Then one must try again.A hologram analogy is appealing aesthetically. It would explain why there can often be such asparing of function with extensive cortical damage. It shows how classes of function might belost--there can be a regionalisation of function with the hologram model (e.g., it is true, as KarlPribram pointed out, that with loss of the "face area" in the Right Inferotemporal cortexrecognition of all faces is lost, not just certain particular faces [Hecean & Ajuniaguerra, 19521).And in the matter of access, it would certainly facilitate matters to have, within a regionalspecialisation, all data simultaneously co-present and at the same place. But then notions ofspace and time do tend to become subjectively less comprehensible as one ascends each level ofintegration in the calculus. (Like musicians, mathematicians start young!) However, we mustnever lose sight of the destination of our argument--to understand the text generator. Althoughthe model may work by differential topology--although this and other mathematical theorems maydescribe the time courses and the interactions of the processes involved, the product is text.Where text is incomprehensible to everyday subjective understanding, then text and generatorhave failed, in all senses.In addition to these circumstantial advantages of a hologram theory of cortical processing, there isthe hard data with which Pribram and others have backed up this model of cortical (not core,note) function. This evidence was convincing, but would need separate review. As Pribram putit, the battle in this argument is between the "Feature Creatures," those who think that a kind ofcomponential analysis is performed on the world in the cortex, and that perception is a kind ofreasserably, and the "Frequency Freaks" of which he is one, who think that a Fourier Transformanalysis of both auditory and spatial frequency is performed on the world, and that perception is akind of "tuning in." Personally, I have seen spatial frequency analysis demonstrated for the visualsystem, and am convinced that this principle plays at least some part in the operation of the textgenerator.In summary of this section on the anatomy and physiology of the generator, we have outlinedconceptually if not in nerve fibre and electricity a device which could generate text. It consistsof a dynamic parallel processor (the cortex), and an assembler and projector (the core). So weswim into time, like time fish, leaving behind the debris or order of our texts. As we swim, wemove in space as well, either in the architecture of the environment, or the models of the virtualworld which we span in our arguments. I would like to conclude this paper with an attempt toapply Rene Thoms catastrophe theory to my model of text and generator. This is of course themost ambitious part of the enterprise --and the most speculative. But catastrophe theory is at leasta very apt metaphor for the process of text elaboration that I have observed, and would seek tounderstand. It "looks pretty." The suspicion remains, however, and it is just a hint from theaptness of it, and the timing of it, that like Fourier transform for the cortex, and theorems ofstructural stability and morphogenesis may be more than a metaphor in the circuit of the core. The Catastrophe Theory Metaphor for the Process of Text Generation: The Predator Prey CycleRene Thom provides an application for his catastrophe theory in the metaphor of the cycle ofpredator and prey. I find, at the level of text, that I can present a model of the process of itsgeneration in this way. First, I must present the diagram of the process of text generation whichis in the final paper of Steps towards Principles of Text Regulation (Mair, 1978). Thepresentation is similar in format to the voices in Figure 1, but it has been both improved, anddenatured. It is improved in that the female voice "NO" has been extended into an up-going
  11. 11. melodic form, to complement the shape of the down-going male voice trajectory. It has beendenatured in that there are no phonetic micro-patternings--a "song without words." FIGURE 3Now that this artificial stylisation has been done, we can discuss the chief conceptual elements inthe presentation without the noise of mere contingency. We see that we have a sine wave, thenodes of which are punctuated with a Percept/Organise/Plan sequence, deriving alternately fromone participant and then the other. Real life dialogue is seldom like this. A musical taxonomymight best describe the diversity of overlappings, simultaneities, interruptions, and ruptures, etc.,etc., each of which is the unique characteristic of a text episode.However, when the process is stylised and rendered accessible to visual comprehension, we cansee that the metaphor of capture and captured (Predator and Prey) is apt. In Tim Shallices sense(1978), the immediate content of consciousness of the one comes to constitute the immediatecontent of consciousness of the other. THIS HAS TO HAPPEN IF THERE IS MUTUALUNDERSTANDING. Of course, there can often be interaction without contentful, shared inter-change (and Roch Lecours used the example of "Glossolalia" in his presentation at thecolloquium). Incidentally, songs without words need not always be empty (Bouissac, 1977).Let us explore this metaphor more fully. Catastrophe theory is an extension of the theorems ofdifferential calculus which have proved so manifestly successful when applied to such physicalsub-strata as the orbits of planets and the trajectories of projectiles. Naturally such applicationsmust allow for the perturbations of ideal trajectories contingent on the imperfections of meresubstance--mass maldistributions, wind resistance and so on. Rene Thom is decidedly coy aboutthe point where analogy can be homology in the application of catastrophe theory. If we have atheory which behaves in a similar way to a process in the environment, it does not follow that theenvironment is working off that theory. Is everything that snaps a catastrophe? An application sogeneral must be vacuous. However, let us continue. I do not have the tools to elaborate thisanalogy/homology argument further. Thoms argument is that: (1) feeding implies predation, (2)predation implies capture. He represents this as one of his diagrams of an archetypal morphology,which may be more than just a picture--in some sense a transcription of a mathematicaltransformation within the theorem (perhaps a theorem is something proven which might notapply, a theory something which one can apply, but which has not been proven).The idea of a diagram being a transcription from a theorem is illustrated in the top drawings ofFigure 4. Admittedly, this copying is not quite faithful to Thom. In particular, the lines shouldsplay out from the centre of the round figure, not half way up. Now the idea seems to be that these
  12. 12. shapes are the graphical manifestation of mathematical absolutes. So that the idea of adiscontinuity in a system achieves precise expression in them.Figure B is a projection of Figure A. Thus as one travels in some idealised mathematical realm inthe circuit 1, 2, 0, 3, 4, 5, 1, 2, ... etc., one has thereby experienced/generated a discontinuitydrawn by yet another mathematical transcription (a kind of taking of cross-section), and sub-figures one through five tell the story. They are sections, in a sense, of Figure A.To understand it, it is helpful to fill the basins in the sub-figures one through five with animagined fluid. At: 5. All is well, there it is in one place. 1. Trouble. The singularity at that one place is being distorted. Just after 1, 2. and quite definitely by 2, it is clear that there are TWO basins. It is the fact of the suddendevelopment of this bi-modal condition which constitutes the "catastrophe," as in Figure A,when proceeding downhill, one glides, or suddenly one comes to an edge. 3. At 3 the bimodality is being distorted, so that at 4. Quite suddenly, singularity is re-established once more. All the water is 5. Back in the same pot. So we have a cycle here which generates a discontinuity, or rather two such. This is the mostelementary of the elementary catastrophes, of which there are only the finite number of seven.And its getting worse! Lets try and tell the story of Thoms metaphor in easy terms.Imagine a Fat Cat. There it is at 5, digesting and content, until the biological cycle impels it toseek prey. Then something troubles its sight. It becomes obsessed by the idea of mice. As itapproaches point 1, it in a sense has lost its identity to the very idea of mousehood. It is the preyof the rodent species. Its nervous system has become (in Thoms terms) an "Organ of Alienation"for it. Ah-ha. Then it spies a mouse. In an instant, it is itself again, in the sense of "Here am I.and theres the mouse." It has an Instantaneous Cognito experience. This occurs at point 1. It isPerception. As it leaps to engulf the poor creature, the singularity of the mouse for it, thoughremaining present, diminishes until the second instantaneous event, of Capture, occurring at 4.Thereafter, it resumes its career of the Fat Cat, until the instability endemic to its nature manifestsonce more.I have noted that in interaction there is in some conceptual sense at least a cycle. One turn rounda cycle generates a sine wave. I have illustrated this in the lower figures "C" and "D" of Figure4. I have also noted that in speech, over the apex of the wave, a "POINT" gets made. In theterminology of the linguist Halliday (1967), tone groups are so demarcated, information points.I give an example of this from the second paper of Steps (Figure 4D). The percipient reader mayhave already spotted what I am trying to do, but I am mixing the level of Analogy with the levelof Homology. Speech delivers percepts. The Point of Expulsion of a "POINT" in utterance maybe metaphorised by position 4 in Rene Thoms circuit. But what got predated was thisconsciousness content of the other person. He, like the cat, was quite alienated into the idea ofgetting the other persons idea, as the motor programme went across. We might identify this stagewith "Listening." At 1 in their own personal cycle, however, he grasped it, got the percept, orperhaps one should say, "got the picture." The latter conception is more apt, because the momentof perception is here being imagined as the "rush" into a stable visual percept, of which thedetails--the rest of the tone group--are filled in later. The idea is that the speech of one does thisto the consciousness of the other--delivers a vision--more or less synchronously with the actualdetails of the melody. This would only be so for the "enrapt" diad. We have the principle ofsupra-individual beat in a text episode explained as an idea of the direct manipulation of thecircuit of the generator of one by the time form of the melody of the other.
  13. 13. FIGURE 4I have adapted Figure 3 for this model in Figure 5. The diagrams corresponding to points 1through 5 in the Percept/Organise/Plan/Act sequence are to be read from Figure 4. one can seethat while one "Fat Cat" rests, a kind of "refractory period" in Craiks sense (and see Figure 2),the other is being entranced, grasping the percept, and then, through point "O" capturing, i.e.,expelling the intrusion of the content of consciousness of the other from her own. This is herown succeeding utterance. Of course, one can be captured by another, be unable to "cap" theargument, be persuaded or charmed, and the model easily accounts for this. Finally, I amsuggesting that the form of the melody of the other drives ones own core-brain processor. Sothats how we get to hypnotism. when you control the circuit of the self, YOU "have" the otherperson completely.
  14. 14. FIGURE 5
  15. 15. We have, then, a model of text and generator, which perhaps does justice at least in its scope to itssubject. As Professor Stephen Hawking (1980) said in his inaugural lecture to the Chair ofPhysics at Cambridge, "However it is too difficult to think up a complete theory of everything allat one go (although this does not seem to stop some people. . . )." Yet there is a fundamentalschism in the human sciences between those who believe in the possibility of a general theory atall, however remote its achievement might be, and those to whom the very idea is anathema. Ofwhat are they so afraid? Whether this theory be right or wrong, or just naive and disorganised,the attempt was there, it seemed worth trying. What are they, who deny the right to try, so afraidof? They need not have worried. Hawking (1980) remains convinced that space-time is four-dimensional. It seems likely that our text generator is for processing and generating four-dimensional shapes. That is the experience, and there is nothing in this model in more than fourdimensions. But ultimately, the model itself, even if right does not generate human reality. Forthat, as it was for the original limbic time fish, one must Project (Urion, 1978). AddendumIt has been pointed out to me that one cannot claim any sort of application of Catastrophe theoryunless one can label axes on a graph of one of the elementary catastrophes themselves. In thisaddendum, I shall attempt to do this for the application of the cusp catastrophe in my model of theprocess of text generation. In so doing, it has been gratifying to find how the model describingthe discontinuities in consciousness can be found embedded in the wider cultural matrix fromwhich convictions derive. Also, the model predicts, when so labelled, that text generation is onlypossible within a certain physiological range (of values in x, y). Some of the organic brain statescan be seen as being outside this physiological range, and mimic the outcomes of interactionwhen these too deliver the individual to states outside the range within which text generation canoccur.I have termed these finite number of discrete motor patterns (such as laughter, tears, violence,embarrassment) "Tropisms" else-where, to emphasise that when the shared text has entered in onone of them, they tend to proceed to completion. It is as if the configuration of elements whichconstitutes each immediate shared state of play has a certain internal tension which resolves intothe next state of play, which is then established by motor action either of speech or movementdirect action, in both cases, but on a model which is virtual, or physical, or an intermingling ofthese analytic levels, as is usually the case in human text). This is the concatenation ofrelevancies, but if any one of these states of play transgresses certain limits of instability or over-stability, there is no more concatenation but--one of the "Tropisms" ensues. I represented thisdiagrammatically in Steps Towards Principles of Text Regulation (Mair, 1977, p. 28). An axis vertical to the paper = Time ie, continuing argument (between Tropisms) N.B The identification and demarcation of "Tropisms" is at present a little haphazardThere was no discussion of pitch range in this "model of the text generator" paper. There weresuggestions about how pitch change creates rhythm, about how the "point" of an utterance comes
  16. 16. with the going over an apex of pitch wave (usually), and that how the identity of rhythm andcreation of the discontinuities in states of play in the mind of the other might together approach anexplanation of such phenomena as "charm" (in its performance aspect), or even hypnotism. But itis the characteristic of longer sections of text to show a variable range over which such rhythmicand syntactic functions of pitch are enacted, and in earlier papers I depicted a high pitchexcursion-~a "going over the top of the melody"--as a bid for topic control (Mair, 1977, p. 42).The suggestion is that, in naive speech such as the speech of children at least, the stability orinstability of a cognitive state of play--the obstacle that one must overcome in shifting it forexample--does not only depend on the immediate contextual and longer-term cultural values ofthe elements of its constitution, but also on the range in pitch with which it is delivered. Ininteraction, there IS always continuity in the melody across participants, and a winning argument,unless asymmetric status relationships have skewed the bias, WILL always recruit a melodyasymmetric to and which completes that of the vanquished opponent. This retrospectivepredictability is perhaps the most disconcerting insight gained from prolonged study of singlereal-time texts. It needed the concept of "Projection" to escape from that impasse, and thus, ofcourse, opened up the epistemologically more serious problem that the theory now has with theconcept of "dimesion".The axes of the three-dimensional cusp can be labelled for dimensions of "x" (commitment), "y"(pitch or energy), and "z" (change in state of play) to produce a syntheisis which transends thesedivers theoretical issues.It has to be noted that the parallelogram x, y is the control space of the third cusp, itsrepresentation minus one dimension. Thus the dotted line circle is meant to be the cycle of normalinteraction as portrayed in Figure 4, which has a fast phase (of the discontinuity) and a slow phase(of recovery, or refractory period), but his only holds for a certain range of values "x" and "y".Suppose we now apply the suggested labels to these axes, we can consider some hypotheticalexistential predicaments. If "x" is of a value below the cusp point at all parts of the cycle, the
  17. 17. dotted line at no point generates discontinuity. There is no state of play delivered. Action dependson coherent plan. Such a cycle would not generate discrete actions at all. Behaviourally, this id"Dither". Extreme hyperactivity is like that.If one person has a high value of "x" in a state of play, then the other, travelling in "y" with hispitch excursion, might not achieve the necessary value of "y" for that value of "x" to reach thecusp fold. Thus the state of play of the first would remain unchanged. Here our model approachestheoretical adequacy for such matters as "conviction in the voice." A higher value in "Y" (pitch)for the speaker would perform the necessary "flip" in the recipient. It must be noted that this wayof argument involves a duplication within each self. Each is recipient and projector in a fashionwhich interacts internally, and alternately with the other; and becomes the other in turn, theinternalisation of the other in the self. Such duplication is convenient for the explication of "innerspeech," as well as being necessary for the theory of interaction. It is of interest that Rene Thomhimself proposes a duplication of cycles (motor and sensory).If the value in "x" is so high in one interactant that it "cannot be reached" by pitch excursion in theother ("y") such as to change the immediate state of play, then we have confrontation, and thetropism of "Violence" if topic is continued. Action continues, without change in cognitive state ofplay. Such a synthesis employs the same model for the textual consequences of changes in "x"and "y" as variables which are at once personal and organic.To state the argument a different way, one can say that normal interaction can only proceed whilethe individual is operating within a defined range of potential commitment and energy, the actualposition in this range for any immediate state of play being cultural and contextual; and thatnormal interaction is the experience of an individual in that range as manipulated in and by thetext. The text moves the individual within the physiological range. Where the text itself movesthe individual outside that range, we get Tropisms. But for an individual whose system is alreadyoutside that range, the text is one long tropism, and one has witnessed some unfortunates forwhom this would be an apt description; as, for example, the extreme agitated schizophrenic (low"x," high "y"), the depressive (low "x," low "y"), the psychopath (high "x," high "y"), and theperseverating Parkinsonian (high "x,. low "y"). Doubtless, this is all too neat, there are otherdimensions and variables involved. But this paper is only an exploration! The author hasalready exceeded the limits of his competence. Note I am grateful to Gereth Leng for some discussion of these ideas. He cannot be held responsible,however, for the mathematical naivete which might remain. I have also benefited greatly fromdiscussion with Jane Adam and Solome Fester. I am grateful to Eileen Ghosh for hersympathetic typing.Cambridge, November 1980ReferencesAllen, C. I. "Segmental Timing and Control in Speech Production." Journal of Phonetics, 1(1973), 219-37.Benson, James D., and William S. Greaves. "Field of Discourse: Theory and Application." Paper delivered to the 6th Systemic Workshop, Cardiff, September1979--York University, Toronto.
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