Repost: Semiotic proprioception in dreams and waking

Proprioception means “one’s own” or “ones’ individual” (Latin proprius) “perception.”

We normally use this word to refer to our physical position in the world—whether we are standing or sitting, how we are moving, and how much energy we are using.

When we dream, our capacity for physical movement, with rare exceptions, is paralyzed. But we still do a sort of proprioception in dreams—a semiotic proprioception, or proprioception within the semiology of the dream.

In dreams, we grope through semiotic associations and respond, gropingly, to them. People and things often look smaller in dreams, or distorted, because we do not have either the need or the capacity to calibrate our physical proprioception as we do in waking life.

Dreams move from one semiotic proprioception to another via our individual four-dimensional (3D plus time) groping/associative function. In one short segment of a dream we are at home, then we go through a door only to find ourselves on a boat in the ocean. Our 4D semiotic proprioception within dreams readily accepts groping, associative shifts like this.

Much of what we perceive when we are awake is memory. We glance at a room we know well and call up our memory of it rather than actually look closely at the room.

I am fairly sure that the memories we call up to aid perception while we are awake are much the same as the groping proprioception we experience in dreams. A major difference is when we are awake we can and do check our waking proprioception with the people and objects around us, while in dreams the associative function has a much freer range.

Notice how dreams move from scene to scene rather slowly. Things can go quickly, but normally dreams grope somewhat slowly along the 4D path of semiotic proprioception.

In waking life, our dreamy use of memory and association to aid perception of the world happens constantly.

When we speak with another person, we use this function to make groping associations concerning what we think they are saying. We grope and respond to them as in a dream while at the same time searching for clues that indicate we are both on the same page.

These clues that two people may sort of “agree on” while speaking are normally standard public semiotics that belong to whatever culture(s) they share. By “agreeing” on them, we form a sort of agreeable camaraderie with whomever we are speaking, and this can be satisfying, but if we only get this, it can also become deeply unsatisfying.

The four dimensional groping/dreamy function of our mind is far richer than any standard collection of public semiotics. In our public lives—professional, commercial, based on organizations, etc.—we have, at present, little recourse but to accept normal public semiotics, to agree with them and manifest agreement.

We can express some deviation from them and sometimes makes jokes about them, but we are generally fairly bound to the semiotics of the culture or organization that generates the context of our speaking. Consider how people in the same church or school are bound by the semiotics of those institutions.

In our intimate relations, however, we do have recourse to investigate and understand how our groping, 4D semiotic proprioception works. This is what FIML does. It allows partners to observe, analyze, and understand the semiotic proprioceptions of their minds as they are actually functioning during interpersonal communication.

If you constantly avoid FIML types of investigations, you will be stuck with a mix of dimly shared public/private semiotics that will tend to become highly ambiguous, even volatile, or very shallow.

Danish journalist says European men are acting like women


Anissa Naouai interviews Iben Thranholm. 8:38

There has been a much stronger response to the migrants in Eastern Europe because the people there very clearly remember being invaded and dominated by alien races and ideologies during Soviet times.

If you cannot defend your culture, your culture will be destroyed. It can be destroyed physically in war, by demographic infiltration through mass immigration, or through ideas that undermine pride and cohesive social values.

Many years ago, I remember a Polish woman telling me, “You Americans want to get rid of all your strong men, but what you don’t understand is you may need those men one day to defend your society.”

She could have said the same about Western Europe.

Memories of war and domination by others fade quickly.

Much of what the Bolsheviks did in Russia and Eastern Europe was mental, psychological, intellectual. They also murdered many millions (the first mass murders in modern European history), but the intellectual groundwork came first and Eastern Europeans still remember.

Demography is destiny. Similarly, those who control the ideas of culture, control the culture. Those who control media, academia, and politics control the ideas.

“Masculinity” does not just mean having muscles and fighting. It also means, in the context of this video, being strong enough mentally to stand for your values, your people, your history, your culture.

Repost: Mr Genness from Worcester Academy

A reader asked us to put out a feeler for Mr. Genness who taught English at Worcester Academy (in Massachusetts) during the 1968-69 school year.

He was the best teacher I ever had and I think about him often. He taught me things that are still paying-off today. I want to thank him but cannot find out where he is or how to contact him.

The requester does not know his first name and was unable to get any info from the school. Mr. Genness was into theater and had connections with the theater crowd in NYC. The spelling of his name—Genness—is a guess, but likely correct.

If you know or suspect you know Mr. Genness, please send an email to “fimlingo at” or just reply to this post.

We read Faulkner, the Iliad, Pirandello, and much more. He was a genius and a superb teacher. Probably saved my life. Definitely improved it immensely.

I know the feeling.

The power of words and habit formation

How we use and hear words becomes a habit.

A recent study on personal space, reported in Personal Space Is a Fear Response, shows that this fear response can be stimulated by words alone.

When placed in an MRI—and told a person was standing over the machine—[people with normal amygdalae] showed heightened activity in their amygdala; when they were told the person was further away from the machine, the activity returned to normal. This shows, says the study’s leader, Ralph Adolphs, that the belief that someone is too close for comfort is enough to spark the same activity as if they actually are.

You could also say that hearing the words that “someone is too close for comfort is enough to spark the same activity as if they actually are.”

I doubt I need to illustrate this idea as most readers are surely aware that all people have many strong emotional responses to words, gestures, facial expressions, as well as personal space encroachments.

Another recent study, unsurprisingly, shows that forming a habit leaves a lasting mark on specific circuits in the brain. In more detail:

In the basal ganglia, two main types of paths carry opposing messages: One carries a ‘go’ signal which spurs an action, the other a ‘stop’ signal.

Experiments by Duke neurobiology graduate student Justin O’Hare found that the stop and go pathways were both more active in the sugar-habit mice. O’Hare said he didn’t expect to see the stop signal equally ramped up in the habit brains, because it has been traditionally viewed as the factor that helps prevent a behavior.

The team also discovered a change in the timing of activation in the two pathways. In mice that had formed a habit, the go pathway turned on before the stop pathway. In non-habit brains, the stop signal preceded the go.

These changes in the brain circuitry were so long-lasting and obvious that it was possible for the group to predict which mice had formed a habit just by looking at isolated pieces of their brains in a petri dish. (same link as just above)

The study on habits is about mice with sugar habits, but I think it is fair to hypothesize that something similar happens with humans in their use of communication cues.

Humans, in my view, habituate to semiotic stimuli in much the same way that mice habituate to sugar.

The Duke study shows that the stop pathway grew as much as the go pathway in the mice, the main difference being that the go pathway turned on before the stop pathway.

Since human language and its uses is more complex than mice habituated to too much sugar, there must be many more stop and go pathways within the language and communication networks of human beings.

Many of these pathways will be similar among people in the same culture, but many of them won’t. Each human being is a repository of a multitude of idiosyncratic emotional and semantic responses and outputs.

So how do you figure out what your pathways are? And how do you correct ones that aren’t working well? And similarly, how do you figure out your partner’s pathways?

FIML practice helps partners to both identify their idiosyncratic communication habits and correct ones that are not working well. FIML finds and corrects pathways through micro-analysis.

It seems very likely to me that a FIML-style analysis corrects mistaken communication pathways by bringing the stop pathway to the fore. When a particular mistaken response is stopped a few times and under analysis seen to be wrong, the go pathways for that response will tend to be extirpated.

By using words to analyze micro units of miscommunication, FIML partners tap into the power of words to change actual pathways of neurons in their brains, thus reorganizing the deep linguistic basis of habitual psychological responses, no matter how idiosyncratic.

Tone of voice as a transitory manifestation of psycho-physiology

A very important and often ignored dimension of tone of voice is that it frequently is a manifestation of the transitory psycho-physiological state of the speaker.

When this transitoriness of tone of voice with its many complex subjective dimensions is ignored or more commonly misinterpreted by the listener, communication can be seriously disrupted.

In simple language, to listen to someone speak is to be in a state of figuring out what they mean, emotionally and otherwise.

Tone of voice is mostly an emotional marker.

When we listen to someone speak, we determine the fullness of their meaning by guessing and anticipating what their point is; by comparing and remembering what they are saying now to what they said in the past; and by monitoring their tone of voice for cues about their emotional state, either toward us, toward their topic, or toward something else.

Since tone of voice involves emotions—both the speaker’s and the listener’s—it can have very subtle and complex ramifications. And this is especially true because so much tone of voice is nothing more than a transitory manifestation of the speaker’s psycho-physiological state.

This point is super important and is worth pausing to consider even if you are sure you know what I mean.

Spoken language moves quickly through a great many transitory states, including word choice, corrections, varying intentions, feedback from the listener, to say nothing of non-linguistic clues like gesture, facial expression, and so on.

Tone of voice is one of these. If we misunderstand it, big problems can result.

A simple example is this. Early this morning I was sleepily standing near my partner watching her cut some scallions. The moment was very pleasant. As I stood there, the microwave beeped. I ignored it and she said, “You can remove that stuff if you want.”

I said something I can’t recall exactly, to which she replied, “Are you irritated?”

(She said that because we are actively pursuing an investigation of tone of voice.)

I stopped and thought about it. Yes, maybe 15% of my psycho-physiological state—my ready and on communication state, fuzzy as it was—had a deep-seated bad feeling about statements like that one: “You can do whatever…”

After more thought, I realized that the 15% bad feeling was coming from an event that had happened years before. One of the rudest things someone ever said to me was “you can leave now.”

I won’t go into that event, but I can trace some of my my sense of that phrase back to that event. It has nothing to do with my mom or dad or Sigmund Freud. It was just something a rude person said and it made me feel bad and I have not forgotten it.

That event was not in my mind when my partner spoke in the kitchen this morning, but it had long ago colored my reaction to the phrase “you can…” and thus affected my transitory emotional state this morning. That state was fleeting but part of me was in it when I spoke and thus my partner heard a tinge of irritation in my voice.

If we were not FIML partners we would have ignored my tone of voice and moved on. I would have retained a small dose of irritation hormones and associations in my mind and my partner would have retained a small dose of her version of that as the person who heard me speak that way.

Since we do FIML, we were able to avoid all of that while at the same time upgrading our understanding of each other and how we communicate.

This is a good example of how wonderful and excellent it is to find a mistake through FIML practice.

My tone was a mistake. Discovering it helps me offload the bad associations I have with that phrase. Hearing my explanation of my mistake helps my partner dismiss whatever reaction she had to my tone. Furthermore, both of us are more deeply sensitized to how significant transitory emotions can be, how they can affect tone of voice and communication between us.

This example will now serve as a paradigm for future instances of misguided tones of voice between us.

Just as micro mistakes in communication can have long-lasting and outsized ramifications, so micro analyses through FIML practice can provide very large benefits to partners. Rather than muddle along with a stupid misunderstanding, partners improve their lives by figuring out what actually happened and using that to prevent further mistakes in the future.

Repost: Errors in listening, cogitating, and speaking

Interpersonal communication errors can occur for many reasons during the acts of listening, cogitating, and/or speaking.

For example, in a conversation involving two people (A & B), person A may mishear (listening error) what B said; and/or person A may misunderstand or miscogitate what they heard; and/or person A may misspeak.

Errors in any part of that communication process will cause some sort of confusion between A and B. Errors can be of many types. The speaker may mispronounce, misenunciate, use the wrong word, be inadvertently misleading, hit a wrong tone of voice, etc. In turn, the listener may mishear, be inattentive, be overly attentive to one aspect of what the speaker is saying, not know a word or a reference, etc. Next, even if the listener heard correctly, they may misunderstand or miscogitate by making wrong associations, drawing wrong conclusions, etc. Any unconscious error in hearing or cogitating will probably lead the listener to misspeak when it is their turn.

Errors of these sorts if not corrected will compound and cause the conversation to become unsatisfying or confusing.

It is the goal of FIML practice to catch these errors as soon after they arise as possible. FIML partners should strive to be perfect with each other in all three of these communication areas–listening, cogitating, and speaking. The best way to do this is to pay close attention to yourself. If you feel an emotional jangle, be sure to confirm with your partner (by doing a FIML query) that your jangle is justified. If it is not, you have discovered an error. Correct the error and continue.

One very simple and common jangle involves feeling irritated (even very, very slightly) at your partner because they did not understand what you said (probably not so clearly). Take it as a given that our uses of language are frequently less than perfect. You must expect that a good many of the things you say will not be stated as clearly as they could be; many more of them, though clear enough, will contain ambiguities or misleading word choices. If as a speaker you become irritated at your partner for something that is inevitable in your own speech, you are making a huge mistake.

Another common jangle involving cogitation is feeling stupid or inattentive when your partner makes an association that you did not get even though you heard all of their words correctly. This jangle could also involve thinking your partner is stupid or not making sense because you did not get what they said. Either way, it is crucial that both FIML partners know that these kinds of mistakes in cogitation are quite common. Identify them when they occur–as soon as you can–and correct them.

A third common jangle, this time involving hearing, is attributing a wrong emotion or intention to the speaker’s tone of voice. The human  speech apparatus is not that highly developed. To speak, we have had to re-purpose our teeth, lips, and tongues, which other animals use for eating, to make noises that convey sometimes sophisticated meaning to other people. How could things not go wrong with that? We also breathe, vomit, kiss, and do other stuff with that same oral cavity. FIML partners must recognize that we are working with a primitive “wind instrument” when we talk and that this instrument may blow too hard, get clogged with phlegm, or experience many other kinds of mishaps that can distort the sounds of our voices. A person with a high, soft voice can easily be misunderstood as being a light-weight, while a person with a deep voice and large lungs can easily be misheard as being aggressive when they are not. Each one of us should be aware of how our voices might be misunderstood and then apply this level of detail to understanding, at least, our partner’s voice.

Another common listening jangle/error that can occur, even if you clearly understand all of the above, is a speaker’s tone of voice can be seriously misunderstood if we think it refers to us when it is referring to the subject at hand. For example, you say something about the car needs fixing and your partner responds in an irritated tone of voice. If you hear that irritation as referring to you when your partner is just sick of the damn car, you will be making a serious mistake. If you say nothing, you may simmer with wrong bad feelings for some time, which often leads to yet more bad feelings. If you do say something, you may start an argument and/or otherwise greatly compound the original problem. All that actually had happened was your partner expressed a fairly primitive emotion (irritation at the damn car) which you misunderstood to mean irritation at you. Your partner used our crude speech apparatus to grunt irritation at a very common problem and you used your crude ears and listening abilities and crude tendency to think everything applies to you to make a big mistake, one that will only add to the original problem.

As you and your partner continue doing FIML practice, you will get better and better at finding and correcting these kinds of errors the moment they arise. It’s not always easy, but it is always very satisfying if you discuss the matter long enough for both of you to achieve a real resolution.

FIML as pedagogy

In a nutshell, FIML practice is pedagogy.

It is the art and science of teaching your partner about you and getting your partner to teach you about them.

The FIML technique works mainly with small (micro) units of communication. It uses these small units because they can be mutually agreed upon by both partners and because they constitute very good data.

FIML micro units in many ways are better data than a tape recorder or video because what tapes and videos record is extrinsic material. FIML micro data is the immediate, intrinsic data actually remembered by both the sender and receiver of the message.

This kind of data is very revealing because immediate reactions and/or impetuses arise out of discernible contexts that can be understood, if we catch them quickly enough.

When you do FIML, you are teaching your partner about how you think, feel, and express yourself. At the same time, you are doing all you can to learn similar information about them.

If there is anything about yourself that your partner should know and does not, teach them. And if there is anything about them that you do not understand, ask them about it.

This process should never stop because people change constantly. FIML helps us monitor and understand how personal transformations occur and why.

Pedagogy is also an art. So FIML is also an art. The headings at the top of this page provide links that explain the basic FIML technique. Application of this technique in your own life is a work of art you can share with your partner.

The topic and materials are the two of you.

BREAKING: Harney County Fire Chief Resigns. FBI Caught Posing As Militia At Local Armory

I am not completely sure what the issues in Harney County are. But far as I know:

The precipitating issue is the Hammonds were sent back to prison for arson, which many find dubious and excessive.

The underlying issues are federal ownership and control of the land.

The argument for the feds is there is a lot of case law, bills from congress, and court rulings that show the feds do indeed own BLM land.

The argument against that position is 1) all of the above violates the Constitution, which it does appear to do, and 2) all the parties that claim the feds own the land are themselves federal—congress, courts, BLM, FBI, prosecutors, and probably more than that.

I really like the people in Harney County and tend to trust them. Seems to me the feds are pushing too hard, especially by sending the Hammonds back to jail for five years.

Also, I am strongly in favor of states’ rights because that is how our system is supposed to work.

That said, I also fear states’ right in land issues in the West because once states control that land it will be corrupt state officials selling the land to their friends, not necessarily being reasonable with ranchers.

It seems to me that the feds have overreached in this case and now can’t back down because they are a stupid bureaucracy. Would have been better to give the Hammonds a pass and let them continue ranching rather than send them back to jail.

Since they didn’t do that, it would still be better for the feds to back off, let the Hammonds out of jail, and let the County return to business as it was. Good law enforcement often calls for de-escalation and this case is an example of that, imo.

Lithuanian independence January 13, 1991

Today marks the 25th anniversary of a major turning point in modern Lithuanian history as well as the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union.

On January 13, 1991 tens of thousands of unarmed Lithuanian citizens confronted Soviet tanks and soldiers at the Parliament building in Vilnius and the Vilnius TV Tower.

Iceland was the first country to recognize Lithuanian independence on February 11, 1991.

More about the events of January can be found here.

Edit 01/27/16: Lithuania opens mass trial for 1991 Soviet crackdown

Basic signaling and what it explains

Basic signaling can be described or explained as follows:

  • A signal is information sent from one place and received at another.
  • A signal can be big or small.
  • A signal can be true or false.*

These are the most basic features of all signals. More complex signals contain these three basic features and also exhibit other features, such as:

  • having complexity or context
  • being conscious or not
  • being consciously designed to have an effect

From the three features of basic signaling, we can say a lot about human signaling.

The first feature of basic signaling simply defines what a signal is. I can signal to myself or I can signal to you. A simple example is I check my hair in the mirror (signal to self) and then present myself to you (signal to you). Insofar as my hair signal to you has a conscious element of how my hair looks or doesn’t look (sloppy, messy), the hair signal I sent to myself via the mirror is now being sent to you via my imagination.

This hair signal can also illustrate the second feature of basic signaling—how big or small the signal is. My hair signal may be important to me while I am looking in the mirror (big signal) or not very important (small signal). In like manner, my hair signal may be big or small in your mind.

This hair signal can also illustrate the third feature of basic signaling—its truth or falsity. If I have dyed my hair, in some sense I am sending a false signal. If I have not dyed my hair but you think I have, then you are receiving a false signal.

One could also say that dyed hair is not a truly “false” signal because it is common for people to dye their hair. Similar arguments can be made for combing or cutting hair or anything we do with our hair. The truth or falsity of many human signals is open to interpretation in this manner.

Normally, we use the three basic features of complex signals described in the second bullet list above to decide which interpretation to use. Changing the context and complexity upon which our interpretation is based will tend to change our interpretation of the signal.

Notice how many signals achieve their effects primarily by being big. Big signs, bright lights, loud music, heavy make-up, loud sexual signals, perfume, odor, big muscles, fake boobs, expensive cars, big houses and yachts, etc. all work in part by being big signals. Bigness or smallness is point two in the list above.

Bigness alone can explain why people lie, slant, or falsely accuse. As long as a signal is big, some people will be attracted to it and come under its spell. If someone accuses you falsely of something and spreads their accusation around, you may be faced with a big problem. If the lie is big enough and artful enough, you now are forced to defend yourself. If you do not even know what is being said about you, you can’t even do that.

Another version of the effectiveness of a big false accusation is one made to your face. As soon as it is uttered, the scene and context will shift dramatically. You are normally required to immediately defend yourself, derailing whatever rational exchange of ideas preceded the accusation.

We can see how this works in interpersonal communication and we can also see how it works on a larger scale. When nations go to war, they invariably lie about each other. Politicians lie, cultures lie, groups lie, religions lie, sports fans lie, and so on.

Lies or false accusation work because they send big signals that require a defense and, since they are lies, can be hard to defend against.

To me, this is a depressing side of human communication. Lies and false accusations very often win against the truth.

Simply stated, false accusations are aggressive lies, but we also know them in milder form as spin, slanting the facts, one-sidedness, tailoring the message, and so on.

Note: I got the idea of the importance of false accusations from a book I am reading on alcoholism: Vessels of Rage, Engines of Power: The Secret History of Alcoholism.

The author of this book, James Graham, makes the claim repeatedly that alcoholics very often engage in false accusations. In discussing this book with my partner, we came to conclude that Graham is right about this—false accusations do seem to be common among the alcoholics we both know.

Since I like to break things down into basic principles, my partner and I came up with the principles outlined above.

A false accusation sends a big signal into a social group while at the same time protecting the alcoholic from criticism. It allows them to say, “You see it is not me or my drinking that is the problem here, she is the one who is crazy!” Or, “Can you believe what he did to me?” Of course, he didn’t do anything but to a drunk, the accusation feels good and often works with others because it is big.

On a larger scale, false accusations in public today often take form as PC dictates. That’s “racist,” “sexist,” “micro-aggressive,” “privileged,” “homophobic,” etc. Just knowing that we might be accused of one of these attitudes has been enough to keep most people from saying anything that could even be tangentially interpreted in that way.

Note two: FIML practice entirely removes false accusations and any basis for them between partners. No FIML partner should ever say, “You did too mean that!” Or “I know why you did that!”

Partners who have established a habit of frequently checking their interpretations of each other should experience very few occasions to feel that their interpretation of something their partner signaled is better than their partner’s interpretation.


*A false signal that is not conscious might be a non-poisonous snake or insect that has evolved to look like a poisonous one.

Repost: Emotional “meaning”

  • I challenge readers to find an emotion that does not have “meaning.”
  • Emotions that have no meaning do exist, but are not common and are generally ignored.
  • What is “meaning” in this context?
  • Meaning here means, quite specifically, “that which is connected to (interconnected in) a semiotic network.”
  • Emotions arise due to bodily functions, metabolism, external events, communication events, life events, etc.
  • Once an emotion arises it is either discarded (given no “meaning”) or it is taken up into a semiotic network.
  • Once it is taken up into a semiotic network, an emotion will resonate within that network, have an import and “meaning” based on that network.
  • For example, a single impression of microaggression will almost certainly be defined by prior learning, by the prior existence of a semiotic network that accepts and defines this sort of perception.
  • That is to say, if the perceiver has been trained or self-taught to perceive and react to microaggression, their preformed sensibilities (its “meaning”) will respond to it, often far more strongly than conditions warrant.
  • A similar analysis applies to any emotion.
  • Watch yourself as you discard the brief feeling you might get from looking at a nondescript wall or a leaf curled on the ground. Compare emotional reactions you don’t discard, such as ones involving human expressions, tone of voice, things left unsaid, etc.
  • This shows that we will learn more about emotions by analyzing the semiotic networks that give them meaning rather than trying to trace them back to their intangible origins or follow their ambiguous development.
  • Emotions do develop as the networks that “hold” them develop and/or as the emotion itself is given greater or lesser prominence within its network(s).
  • In this sense, emotions can grow very large or become very small.
  • Ones that had meaning can and do disappear. But no emotion will appear and maintain itself for long without being taken into a semiotic network, given a meaning or assigned a meaning.
  • Notice how you have sensibilities and emotions connected to how you have been trained. And notice how these emotions and sensibilities are different from others who have not been trained as you have.
  • A trained gardener, salesperson, doctor, cook, surfer, etc. has emotions and sensibilities that are different from people who have not had their training, whether that training is formal or informal.
  • If you just spend time thinking about something you will be “training” yourself, developing different sensibilities and emotions about whatever it is.
  • Humans are semiotic animals that spend most of their time in semiotic environments.
  • A semiotic network communicates both with the self and with others.
  • Semiotic networks include everything that can be communicated, including language, ideas, emotions, beliefs, values, memories, skills, and so on.
  • If you were trained in a certain safety procedure and you agree with it (thoroughly putting out campfires, for example), it will drive you nuts to see someone ignore the basics. This is true for almost anything you were trained in and agree with.
  • Training gives us richer and different emotions, either in kind or in degree.
  • Training strengthens and broadens the semiotic network(s) holding or defining emotions, thus making them stronger, more sensible, more reasonable or, conversely, weaker, less sensible, less reasonable.
  • “Personalities” develop through training, some of it formal, much of it informal and idiosyncratic.
  • Some training is good and some of it is bad.