Cognitive Factors

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Submitted by Gary Frost

Reading SignFeral Seminar, 2014
Resilience of Book Transmission

Please join us for open forums,
Thursdays, 2:00—3:30, Fall Semester
Room 2058, Main Library

As we arrive at the cognitive sciences we find a pivot in our studies of resilience in book transmission. This is a pivot from givens to potentials as we consider our bionic constraints and embodied cognitions and consider their amazing adaptabilities for uses such as book writing and reading.

First considerations are inherent cognitive capacities. These would include bilateral asymmetry of the brain, primate dexterity and haptic perception, and pattern recognition. Such capacities have proven very adaptable for other uses. Perhaps our capacities are even too adaptable subjecting us to sudden shifts.[1] Currently we are seeing shifts in cognition brought about by digital technology and screen communication that will compare with others brought by handwriting and reading.

Considering other constraints of bionic living we can factor bionic mortality. This ingredient inserts a time dimension.[2] The mortality factor also inserts contrasts of youthful reading with mature re-reading. Another universal of bionic life is a unique consciousness of the individual augmented by an individual’s culture context. Here is where endless varieties of interpretation, participation, and compulsions of text communication enact.[3] Such factors together shift explanation for book resilience to living behaviors. Book resilience is driven by a writer/reader.[4]

And what of the surrounding material world? Are there too many or not enough books and are they efficient or not for conceptual transactions? Book publishing commerce is constantly investigating such questions. Lifting that curtain we can discover an ambivalence of methods of book design and reading device uses and busy bookmakers. Here is a resilience factor of the out-of-body state of the book itself. Is the book a friendly zombie living among us across time and cultures? Are books living in an ecology of things in a material world that surrounds bionic beings?

Such an ecology of books is not really a phantom. Some books and some titles seem to go on and on. They must have writer/reader value and habits of use to account for such persistence and performance. Some elaborate entanglement is at work as embodied and out-of-body factors intersect, interplay, and interdepend. From a cognitive perspective, books must be products and engagements of the mind and so they can be cognitive things.[5] Just as transition from hand writing to keyboard text was rather innocently accommodated, so, over a much wider span, book accessories of bionic thought were invented and integrated into thoughtful processes.[6]

The comparative and reflexive study of books as an accessory of cognition is endlessly pursued in philology and bibliography. Pragmatic philosophy also wants to know about books. Librarians methodically arrange and rearrange books to accentuate their uses. But all these fields of book studies need to pivot on the cognitive sciences of constraints and capacities of perception.[7] We can also examine our particular keyword phrase of “resilience of book transmission” in a cognitive context.

[1] Nicholas Carr, The Shallows, presents a view of cognitive behavior shifts under new circumstances of screen reading. See also his new book The Glass Cage concerning cognition shifts of phone connectivity and associated behaviors.

[2] Librarians previously worked with books that outlasted them. Now computer media and their delivery utilities can past away long before librarians.

[3] For a panoply of reader receptions cognitions see; Peter Mendelsund, What We See When We Read, Viking Books, 2014.

[4] Lori Emerson has projected the composite writer/reader agent. This handy construct will also include reflexive writer readings of their own productions. See; Lori Emerson, Reading Writing Interfaces, University of Minnesota, 2014.

[5] This is the position of cognitive archeologists who propose that lithic tools, for example, are states of mind dug from the ground. See; Ian Hodder, Entangled, 2012 and Lambros Malafouris, How Things Shape the Mind, 2013.

[6] It is a vivid demonstration of bionic adaptability that we can and do repurpose hominid neurology. Our lack of amazement over such transformation only confirms an immense potential and near disregard of changes.

[7] A foundation in cognitive science directs specialized studies of cognitive archeology and their field models of tools and tool use can be nicely adapted to study of resilience in book transmission.