Music, Natural Dog Training, Panksepp and the Constructal Law
My argument is that the locomotive dynamic is the basis for our aesthetic appreciation of music, however not in the manner which is theorized in the article below, i.e. that synchronizing footfalls renders a beat of silence which then makes it easier to hear sounds from beyond, for example the advance of predators.
Nevertheless this second article is significant however because it shows how using survival as basis for any traits’ adaptive value can be used to justify any kind of trait via a circular logic loop. In my view, the adaptive value of music is indeed to heighten the capacity for synchronization but this is to amplify group efforts, and even more so because of the inherent structure of emotion and feelings. Emotion moves as a wave via feelings, and music is a perfect articulation of the wave dynamic. The purpose of evolution isn’t to survive. It’s to make information, i.e to improve the flow as per the Constructal law and the principle of emotional conductivity. Stress (the physical memory of unresolved emotion created by the resistance to emotional expression) is attracted to objects of resistance. See the following video.
The husky is attracted to the pile of leaves because it constitutes the OBJECT of his owner’s energies (literally, the pile is the material, objective result from the considerable energy that the owner invested in building it, also contributing to this charge is the rasping and/or metallic sound of the rake along with its preyful action (which the owner most probably taught the dog to leave alone by scolding), and these factors built up an emotional charge that became objectified as-the-pile so that the dog’s resistance/fear could find release. Even such behavior is related to the phenomenon of emotion and music by the way of how flow is increased by drawing individuals to objects of resistance around which they can synchronize and align. This is intimately linked to why dogs follow the human gaze and how wolves work together to bring down a large, dangerous prey animal. The animal mind is a flow system and all behavior it generates is about discordant or harmonic pathways. Discordant pathways build up a charge and intensify attraction to objects of resistance, and then harmonic pathways resolve this charge by importing said objects of resistance into the configuration. The pile of leaves is an indirect means by which the dog is trying to connect with his owner.
By running around the pile at high speed the dog is able to enter a state of emotional suspension. His subliminal beam of attention, becomes focused on his heart (and unlike the human rational mind, in a dog’s mind the subliminal beam of attention is the most prominent feature of its awareness, more so than its external focal gaze) and in this state it becomes possible to align and synchronize with others. Note that the dog is orbiting the pile, it has become a midpoint between itself and its owner, an objectified waypoint by which it is trying to connect with its owner.
Because of the phenomenon of emotional suspension, (i.e the feeling of weightlessness/resonance) we have to return to locomotion to get to the real key to understanding the emotional basis of music. The Panksepp study is particularly helpful because he concentrates on the phenomenon of the “chills” that are experienced to particularly evocative music, such as sad passages. Panksepp tries to underwrite the basis of this experience to his affective systems.
“These powerful emotions, which emerged early in mammalian evolution were designed to solidify and elaborate the mandates and possibilities of social bonds.”
Happiness/joyfulness = vigorous social play
Sadness = separation distress due to social isolation
KB: But since animals don’t like being separated, why then do we LIKE sad music?
Panksepp: “Of course, happiness and sadness work together, and the most moving music allows the two processes to be blended in such a way as to magnify our sense of ourselves as deeply feeling creatures who are conscious inheritors of the tragic view–the ability to see hope and grace in the midst of despair. It may be that the physiological possibility for the experience of chills is established when music joins our deepest opposing emotional potentials within the cradle of consciousness.”
“Separations calls inform parents of the whereabouts of offspring that have become lost, and such calls arouse powerful care-giving motivations in parents, especially the mothers. Internal feeling of coldness and chills when parents hear separation calls may provide increased motivation for social reunion. (body warmth equalling closeness). But why would social loss generate an autonomic response characterized subjectively as chills? Our theoretical view of the underlying evolutionary matters is that the mammalian brain mechanisms for social bonding and feelings of separation distress arose from more ancient, preexisting mechanisms such as those that mediate place attachment, pain perception, and thermoregulatory influences. It is the latter antecedent that may explain the ‘chill’ phenomenon. Social contact giving one the subjective experience of being warmer, whereas social isolation makes one feel colder. . . . (providing) an affective motivational substrate for promoting the types of close interactional patterns that we call social bonds in the absence of direct thermoregulatory stressors.”
So if I understand this properly, chills make us feel like drawing together in order to get warm and we therefore like chills because sad songs make us feel grateful for the connections that we have, or the kind of closeness that might be possible were we to find those who could satisfy our anxieties of separation. While I’m very attracted to these kinds of interpretations that root higher cognitive processes to basic bodily processes, I still feel that a deeper explanation can be found in the locomotive circuits because before there were parent/offspring relationships, there were predator and prey relationships, and there was the absolutely fundamental mandate of moving the body from point A to point B so as to intercept an object of attraction. This would also be more compatible with the research of of Dr. Wolpert who states that everything about the brain is dependent on locomotion. Therefore I believe the emotional affects are not predicated on survival mechanisms or neurological circuitry hardwired in the Central Nervous System, but rather how the body and brain interplay on a much deeper level, specifically how to move the body from point A to point B. Emotional experiences arise in the mind when the brain generates neurological energies by tracking a subliminal beam of attention on the body’s physical center of gravity, that are likewise coupled to the movement of external objects of attraction.
The emotional affects resulting from this bifurcated state of attention replicate electromagnetic effects. In other words, a Being is a charged particle of consciousness, as its body/mind is displaced by forces or stimuli, neurological activity happens. And when charged particles are in motion, they induce electromagnetic effects. The chills one experiences in music are related to the hairs standing on ends, the bristling of a dog’s hair along his top line. These arise from the subliminal attention to where the p-cog, or the feeling for the p-cog is in the body. The p-cog can move anywhere in the body, it can stir and move deep in the core, or it can rise and skim along the surface, and it can even leave the body altogether. The chills to which Panksepp refers are the same chills one experiences when riding in a car and the road falls away suddenly, for example when cresting a steep hill. The subliminal beam of attention is always tracking the movement of the body’s physical center of gravity and registering where it is, not only physically relative to external forces, but also where it is virtually, emotionally, relative to objects of attraction in its surroundings. (These become welded together via Pavlovian conditioning during the early imprinting phase of life.) The surroundings thereby come to constitute a virtual field of energy and thus relative motions of variables in this field generate neurochemical activity throughout the body. This neurochemical activity is organized so that emotional affects make the individual feel just as if they are weighted, weightless, as well as electrically and/or magnetically charged. These feelings are how animals know how to seek, connect with others and collectively work to improve their lives. Negative is drawn to positive, and vice versa, North is drawn to South, and vice versa, and in this way how the brain interacts with the body to generate electromagnetic-like effects, collective momenta are pooled and harmonized to do greater and greater work, i.e. evolve.
The connection of the balance modality of mind with the hunger modality of mind, induces a virtual current via the physical memory of ingestion, and the mind generates emotional affects that feel as if the organism is a charged particle moving through a magnetic field. Our emotional bonds with others are deep magnetic connections (as far as our animal mind is concerned) and so as we move through the space (music creates a field, a space that is emotionally conductive) created by listening to music we feel as if we are moving/floating through a magnetic field. Music creates a space as emotionally conductive as a dream state.
Listening to music puts us into an emotionally conductive state, we enter a state of emotional suspension, a state as deep as the degree to which we are enraptured by the music. We feel as if we are moving freely through space, a space that is not empty but is a field composed by emotional experiences with objects of attraction/resistance, a subconscious FIELD of subjective experience. By being moved via the music we re-experience our physical memories of resistance (to which the unconscious sense of the p-cog is attached) and this movement is akin to electromagnetic induction, the surface levels of which is like the flux of magnetic fields which we experience as chills running up and down the body. Again, this is directly related to the chills/thrills that are experienced on a more intense core level when driving in a car and upon cresting a steep hill an intense burst of sensations (chills) runs up from our stomach to our heart. (And were one to crash, it would be experienced as rocketing up and out of the head.)
In regards to surface chills, this magnetic like aurora is composed by the animal mind so as to serve as an emotional bubble, selectively insulating the organism from its external milieu, just like a cells’ semi-permeable membrane is a faculty of discrimination by which it “perceives” the inter-cellular milieu, and it does so by way of electromagnetism which accords an electromagnetic charge to external stimuli. A “negative” stimulus (predatory aspect) and a “positive” stimulus (preyful aspects) arise in the perception of the individual’s external surroundings by way of this external shell that has been generated by an internal focus on the body/minds’ actual and virtual (that which is welded to external objects) physical center-of-gravity. And if a negative variable induces a magnetic charge, then negative-equals-access-to-positive and the organism becomes willing to let the negative enter its personal space (i.e. animal magnetism). Whereas if an external variable has an electrostatic charge, then grounding (balance mollified by hunger, CNS sublimated into Enteric nervous system, the front end needs to be connected to the hind end) must first take place before contact can be made.
If the individual is attracted to something but cannot connect, the individual feels electrically charged by an interruption of momentum (the animal mind is invested with an inherent emotional momentum—-the balance/hunger conundrum mandates that the organism must move–). This momentum is variable, it can be impinged, the bottom can fall out more or less abruptly, or it can be interrupted altogether. (See the Steward-Tolman effect: The development of a negative charge at the forward end of a metal rod which is suddenly stopped after rapid longitudinal motion. This effect is even far stronger in the case of electrolytes, for example, the chemical solution found in a battery.) This electromagnetic-like effect is the basis of a morbid dread, a sickening feeling of a loss of momentum that arises from the gut and takes up station in the head as awareness dawns, with an intense sensation of chills running up the back of the neck and then over-lapping the skull, like a wave cresting over the back of the head. This is the same physical experience as hitting the brakes suddenly in a panic stop.
When listening to music, the virtual p-cog is in a free floating state, riding the wave the music defines. And when the subliminal beam of attention is accelerated toward the surface from a transient loss or a sudden change of direction, the individual experiences tingling sensations, i.e. “chills.” This happens freely in music because of emotional suspension and of being tossed about on the wave form of the music. In this way, feelings of the composer are transmitted to the listener, just as feelings are transmitted from one animal to another. The human rational mind considers this kind of resonance a minor aspect of conscious awareness and so we then look to deep psychological explanations as an existential source of meaning. I argue this misses the core of the experience because for the animal mind the weightlessness inherent in the feeling of resonance constitutes the whole of their conscious awareness within which things and the flow of events find their meaning. To be clear, I’m not arguing against the brilliant findings or interpretations of Panksepp, my argument is that these affective systems sit on top of this far more primordial system.
THE EMOTIONAL MEANING OF MUSIC IN SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE
The emotional battery is formatted according to the disposition of the physical center of gravity when the body is in motion. Emotional experiences are layered according to intensity of resistance encountered. The deeper realms of the battery where more intense experiences are stored, are accessed by the deeper bass notes, although we could add piercing sounds to this as well. (Note the alarm call of various animals, these collapse a state of attraction in the young and they scurry for “ground” i.e. cover or simply lowering themselves.) Percussive elements and the basic rhythm of the passage meter the discharge of the battery and this constitutes the emotional momentum of musical experience. (Martial marching music is thus effective at triggering and mobilizing rage in an audience while simultaneously encouraging a regimented body and mind.) On the other hand, the higher notes represent articulation, or expression, of the deeper energies that have been mobilized, up and out into the external world and in a coherent wave form, rather than incoherently as spikes or outbursts. These are especially pleasing because the basic urge of consciousness is to articulate its deepest energies. The melody channels the emotional momentum of a musical experience into a wave form so that the listener apprehends that their stress reserves are moving coherently through a periodic rising and falling of a coherent wave form. In this condition of emotional suspension the p-cog can move freely through the body and it can rise suddenly to the peripheries of the body/mind and kindle tingling sensations. This is why we like sad music, the de-acceleration of a minor key or change in tempo brings the p-cog to the surface of our magnetic aurora (as when dancing and twirling a partner) and we experience this as an emotional shimmer.
Why are we organized this way? Because emotion is a universal bandwidth that fundamentally is not about survival and reproduction, it’s about information, it’s about turning the experience of change and resistance into information. Our emotional domain evolves the same way the physical world evolves, through the principles of thermodynamics, laws of motion and electromagnetic principles of conductivity. In sad music the listener is processing deeper memories and this feels good because it satisfies the fundamental mandate of our animal body/mind, i.e. to resolve unresolved emotion. This mandate ultimately improves the flow by incorporating objects of resistance into the configuration.