On The Proprio-Ceptive System

Sherrington, C. S. 1907. On the proprio-ceptive system, especially in its reflex aspect. Brain 29(4):467-485.

In every reflex a decisive stage is that initial one wherein are started the centripetal impulses, which, in due course, excite the central reaction. In natural reflexes these initiatory impulses are excited by the reaction of peripheral apparatus, itself excited by some adequate stiumulus. In so far as sensation accrues to the central reaction, the peripheral receptive apparatus may be termed sensory. (Sherrington 1907: 467)
Le sensory apparatus.
The receptor organs, if one regard their distribution from a broad point of view, fall naturally into two great groups, as judged by their locus in the body. They are distributed fundamentally differently from the other. (Sherrington 1907: 468)
Sounds like Uexküllian lingo.
The main fields of distribution of the receptor organs fundamentally distinguishable seem, therefore, to be two, namely, a surface field constituted by the surface layer of the organism, and a deep field constituted by the tissues of the organism beneath the surface sheet. (Sherrington 1907: 469)
The twofold distribution of receptor organs.
But the surface field is further broadly subdivisible. Its subdivisions are two. Of these one lies freely open to the numberless vicissitudes and agencies of the environment; it is co-extensive with the so-called external surface of the animal. It is cutaneous in the widest sense of that term. It possesses as receptive organs not only those of touch, &c., in the skin proper, but also the eye, nose, and organ of hearing. This subdivision of the surface field contrasts with a second subdivision of it, constituted by what is commonly termed the internal surface of the animal, the alimentary or intestinal surface. This latter surface is, it is true, in contact with the environment; but the environment with which it is in contact is a portion of the environment greatly modified from the general environment outside by lying almost completely surrounded by the animal itself. This part of the receptive field of the animal's surface, which is turned inward upon the alimentary contents, may be termed the intero-ceptive, in contradistinction to that larger part of the surface which looks outward upon the free environment in general, and the latter may from that circumstance be termed the animal's extero-ceptive surface. (Sherrington 1907: 469)
I wonder if these terms could be applied to the semiosphere, e.g. approach the semiosphere as if it were an organism/individual?
It is this latter, the extero-ceptive field, which is most rich in receptive organs, both as regards number and variety. For this to be the case, is in accord with what might be expected. It is this extero-ceptive field which, facing outward on the general environment, receives and has received for countless ages the full stream of all the varied agencies for ever pouring on it freely from the outside world. (Sherrington 1907: 469)
In terms of "border" and so-called "translation blocks" it does make sense to view the organism thus conceived as a semiosphere. But to what degree?
Returning to the receptor organs bedded in the deep tissues, and to the study of the reactions which they subserve, two characters attract attention as differentiating them from those of the surface field, whether extero-ceptive or intero-ceptive. Of these features, one is that the stimuli effective on the receptor of the deep field differ fundamentally from those operative on the receptors of either subdivision of the surface field. (Sherrington 1907: 471)
Continuing my metaphorical approach: the codes and languages within the semiosphere differ from those outside of it.
Most f the stimuli by which the external world commonly acts on the surface of the animal are excluded from the deep field. But the organism itself, like the external world surrounding it, is a field of ceaseless change where internal energy is continually being liberated, whence chemical, thermal, mechanical, and electrical effects appear. (Sherrington 1907: 471)
More similarities with the semiosphere: outside texts cannot penetrate the semiosphere freely (most are excluded), and within it countless internal processes are at work.
It is a microcosm in which forces which can act as stimuli are at work, as in the macrocosm around. The receptors which lie in the deep tissues appear adapted for excitation by changes going forward in the organism itself. These changes work, it appears, largely through the agency of mass with its mechanical consequences of weight and inertia, and also largely through mechanical strains and alterations of pressure resulting from contractions and relaxations of muscles. Therefore, a character of the stimulations occurring in this deep field is that the stimuli are traceable to actions of the organism itself, and are so in much greater measure than are the stimulations of the surface field of the organism. Since in the deep field the stimuli to the receptors are delivered by the organism itself, the deep receptors may be termed proprio-ceptors, and the deep field a field of proprio-ception. (Sherrington 1907: 471-472)
And indeed the analogy between autocommunication and proprioception seems to pan out.
A posture of the animal as a whole, a total posture, is a complex built up of postures of portions of the animal; segmental postures, just as movement executed by the animal as a whole, total movement, e.g., locomotion, is compounded of segmental movements. (Sherrington 1907: 475)
It does make sense that locomotion is total movement. Conversely, perhaps Total Action Coding System should be built up by considering locomotion first.
In each segment there tend to recur reflex arcs of similar functional kind to those occurring in the other segments. For instance, to each segment there belong reflex arcs arising at the skin surface (extero-ceptive) and arcs arising in joints, muscles, tendons, &c. (proprio-ceptive). The arcs of analogous function belonging to successive segments unite to a homogeneous reflex system extending more or less continuously through the lenght of the animal. Thus it is that the proprio-ceptors and their reflex arcs have, in their sum total, to be treated as a proprio-ceptive SYSTEM. (Sherrington 1907: 475)
Unless one overcomes the matters reflex arcs it turns out that proprioception is not equivocal to autocommunication, as it concerns joints, muscles and tendons, not self-communicated messages. Perhaps this insight will enable me to build a better model of self-communication, considering Fry's lobotomy-and-clock example.

Cleary, J. 1959. John Bulwer: Renaissance communicationist. Quarterly Journal of Speech 45: 391-398.

Since attention has heretofore been focused primarily upon his Chirologia ... Chironomia, one naturally tends to place Bulwer within the shadows of contemporary English rhetoricians, phoneticians, and speech scientists of great prestige. However, if one considers the content and significance not only of the Chirologia ... Chironomia but also of the Pathomyotomia and Philocophus, he will be prompted to assign him a more prominent position than historians heretofore have recognized, a position which enables Bulwer to cast his own shadow along with those of that relatively small group of Renaissance scholars who strove fruitfully to enlarge man's knowledge of communication. (Cleary 1959: 392)
I guess this is why Bulwer is entitled "communicationist" in this paper.
The Pathomyotomia rounds out Bulwer's thinking on bodily action. Like the Chirologia ... Chironomia, the work is composed of two essays, one on the significance of the muscle in human motion, the other on the intricate actions of the head and its anatomical parts. It is the latter of these two essays which brings Bulwer once again to the study of action as an external expression of emotion and thought. (Cleary 1959: 393)
It seems fairly commonsensical that muscles play a significant role in human communication, but it too must have been a discovery, much like the function of the spinal cord which was discovered in the 18th century.
One need not examine the number of distinguishing features which mark the Chirologia ... Chironomia, Philocophus, and Pathomyotomia to realize that Bulwer was no ordinary communicationist content to mouth the thoughts of others. (Cleary 1959: 394)
I'm afraid I am exactly the type of ordinary communicationist.
Writing to the Gostwicke brothers in the dedicatory epistle of the Philocophus, Bulwer also introduces, for the first known time, the concept of "hearing" sound through the medium of the teeth. He observes that a deaf person may sense vibrations conducted through his teeth, vibrations which are transmitted to the inner ear by bone conduction, and then neurologically to the brain. Bulwer calls this phenomenon "Orall and Dentall Audition." (Cleary 1959: 395-396)
Not Bulwer's text itself but at least a better citation than Wikipedia. The very practical application of this knowledge is that when in prison and in need to hear something specific better it would be wise to bite and hold on to some metal.
The Pathomyotomia also enhances Bulwer's prestige as a Renaissance innovator of communication theory and practice. In the work, despite lack of encouragement from his colleagues, Bulwer becomes the first to explain in English the subject of "metaposcopy" or the study of the muscles of the face and their relation to emotion, a subject of much concern to the elocutionists of the following century. (Cleary 1959: 397)
Seems like a fancy word for the study of facial expressions. Useless, sure, but perhaps neat to put alongside kinesics, proxemics, oculesics, etc. On the other hand, another source claims that metaposcopy deals with foreheads, much like onychomancy deals with fingernails.

Tyler, Stephen A. 1985. Ethnography, intertextuality and the end of description. American Journal of Semiotics 3(4): 83-98.

That ideological interest stems, of course, from the discourse of science, which though undeniably textual, claims to be more than "merely" textual. Science's intertextuality appears in the guise of "theory" and "method," where some part of method includes practices of textualization, and theory takes the form of invocations of other texts. (Tyler 1985: 83)
In this sense concursive method skips the practice of textualization by studying that which has already been textualized and uses theoretical positions from a wide spectrum of scientific fields to explain the phenomena in question.
Intertextual comparison is the basis for the historical reconstruction of defunct cultures and languages, for the study of transformations of myths and other customs, and for tracing the diffusion and dispersion of culture traits and complexes. (Tyler 1985: 83)
In my work the cultures and languages in question are not defunct as much as non-existent, imaginary, or fictional.
This form of intertextuality has been easily ignored, for an ethnography is, after all, a description or an account, not of other texts, but of other people, and involves, moreover, as an essential part of its ideology, the valorization of fieldwork or the direct experience of seeing and observing, and an open contempt for "arm chair" ethnography, a practice defined negatively by reading and writing. (Tyler 1985: 84)
Well, concursive approach is all about reading and writing texs, and the "arm chair" phase is necessary for the method to yield any applicable insight into how to study similar phenomena in real life.
In between these two extremes are numerous means of implicating other texts and textual traditions, either by direct comparison or indirectly through presuppositions, genre conventions, common tropes, key concepts, and the set of commonplaces that constitute the so-called theory and method of a community of discourse. (Tyler 1985: 84)
These are the features I should justify my first chapter with, as it is intended to explicate these matters before a semiophrenic approach to power and concursive reading of literature can be propounded.
The guiding dogma consistent with this rhetoric is the fable of the ethnographer as "participant-observer," she who effects the stance of an "outsider/insider" and describes what she sees by a kind of curious double vision in which one eye sees as observer, the other as participant. This may conjure an image of the ethnographer as cross-eyed, "he who sees with a forked eye," but it also indexes the visualist bias of science itself, the empiricism of "being there" and "seeing with one's own eyes." (Tyler 1985: 85)
In my future work as a participant-observer this could be a useful note.
...much ethnography is reflexive - a message to the world, an ill-disguised tract for social reform and cultural criticism... (Tyler 1985: 85)
Indeed this is what I have in mind to perform.
Appelations like "Kroberian," "Malinowskian," "Boasian," "Lévi-Straussian," and "Geertzian," often found in the introductory or "theoretical orientation" chapters of modern ethnographies, eponymously index differing patterns of dominance, schematization, and classification of key concepts. Such words as "structuralism," "functionalism," "symbolic anthropology," and other are part of this litany of indexicals in which a single word is a synecdoche for a whole body of literature and evokes it by mere mention. (Tyler 1985: 86)
Indeed this is what I disliked about a recent article on theories of emotion: by way of mere mention it supposedly evoked a whole body of literature, problem being that in cases such as "kinesics" and "proxemics" the status of "a whole body of literature" is dubious at best.
The ethnographer's field notes, which he claims to "write-up," attest to the historical stratification of ethnography, for the final account is preceded by other writing, by another text, a sub-text which does not appear in the final text. Moreover, are those notes accounts of the ethnographer's experience, or are they the means by which that experience becomes "experience"? Is the writing of ethnographic notes not already part of the ethnographer's experience, and the chief means by which he comes to construe that experience? What could possibly count as unconstrued, "raw" experience? (Tyler 1985: 94)
For me this "another-" or "sub-text" consists largely of notes from literature.


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