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that I should step gingerly into this minefield ;-)

If you accept, as I do, that reason is after the fact, then you could also understand that what the conscious mind experiences as 'reality' is a construct made up of 'figure' novelty and 'ground' fill-in.

Figure/ground ambiguity is in constant flux at the unconscious level. Different detected patterns may trigger a 'novelty' reaction (a biochemical release or take-up). If the novelty factor is high enough it will also be shoved up to consciousness.

The 'figure' is whatever the conscious mind has been alerted to by the internal processing of external sensual information and the detection of powerful patterns that require consciousness to be awakened.

At all other times, your mind is in the 'ground', filling in from memory. You walk through the forest and what you experience is treeness, not trees. Unless something in that forest has a novelty rating, is unexpected, there will be little useful 'insightful' memory of the experience.

This effect can be experienced driving on an often used motorway. You can travel 10 kms, daydreaming, and remember not a centimetre of the journey. All you are left with is a general sensation of motorwayness. But any novelty can snap you out of it in an instant.

The frames, metaphors and narratives can also become 'ground' fill in. Routine. Habit. The progressive message has already become motorwayness for many people out there who we would like to influence.

Novelty - a new experience that cuts through the routine - is IMO one tool that we need to use for greater communication effectiveness. Novelty has a bad rap, but it is what the mind detects very well, and a little release of endorphin, testosterone, noradrenalin, dopamine et al might be all that stands between us and change.

What is novelty in the context of communicating for change? It varies greatly with audience, of course. You always try to speak in the 'language' of that audience. 'Language' often includes a lot more than words - every audience understands some part of the visual language also. Novelty comes from play with that language. A twist that remains in the mind. A new way of approaching a subject.

And "an awareness of brain mechanisms could help map effective communication".

It could indeed. But an awareness of how we are each manipulated, and how we manipulate, both as learned behaviour and as a Learned Behaviour Disorder is disturbing for some. It seems, they say, to take away the magic of being human. That magic is legerdemain. You have been fooled.

There is another kind of magic - a miracle - which is that this 600 billion neuron thing, built brain on top of ancient brain in layers like a house with illegal stories added, DIYed by lizards and felines, and with wiring installed that could pass not even a cursory inspection (Was it you who wired the cerebellum up left to left, Morrisey? I've told you again and again - left to right, right to left. Gordon Bennett! Now we'll have to put in another fusebox), is that this thing called mind actually works in some fashion. Admittedly though it is still a hundred thousand year old mind - yet we learn to live in it.

How we learn to live in it is the most fascinating question in the world. And understanding how we do that is the key to communication.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jul 10th, 2008 at 03:49:28 PM EST

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