Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Waiting for Sluggo | ďA Small Inconvenience to Ensu... »

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Future of Criticism

posted by on July 16 at 16:44 PM

Let’s think about this for a moment. Mirror neurons in the brain fire when, for example, your finger caresses the tip of someone’s nipple. Mirror neurons also fire in the same way if you happen to see another person’s finger caressing the tip of someone’s nipple. This means the inside is no different from the outside. How you experience your own body is also how you see another human experience their own body. This dazzling discovery increases the value of Spinoza’s philosophy (“no one knows what a body can do”) and Tarde’s sociology (imitation is everything, and everything is social). Mirror neurons not only dissolve the line between external and internal (or at least force us to rethink that line), they also offer art criticism or philosophy of aesthetics an opportunity to dissolve or reformulate the line between the organic and inorganic. Representation is as real as reality.

RSS icon Comments


What the...?

Is this some trick to distract us from the super fun racism fight we're having in Jonah's post?

Posted by Negress | July 16, 2008 4:26 PM

This certainly justifies the terrifying volume of pornography I consume.

Posted by Ziggity | July 16, 2008 4:28 PM

So, if Charles just *thinks* about posting, rather than actually posting, then it will fulfill his neurological needs AND spare us the hassle?

Posted by Mike | July 16, 2008 4:33 PM

Only it's not "real as real," Charles. I must protest in the strongest terms your collapsing the whole of human experience into the limited function that the visuomotor mirror neurons perform. The fact that representation can still move us is not the same thing as saying it moves us just the same as reality.

Posted by MvB | July 16, 2008 4:35 PM

Charles- couldn't agree with this more. This is why I hate Dan's "Every Child..." posts. My shrink told me a long time ago that envisioning these stories is the same thing as experiencing them. Watch my kid abused / slaughtered? Pass.

Posted by Big Sven | July 16, 2008 4:36 PM

Beautiful photo, retarded thesis. See @4

Posted by NaFun | July 16, 2008 4:39 PM

Hmm. Gotta give Mr. Mudede credit. Pseudoscientists and Pseudophilosophers so often resort to quantum mechanics for their obscurantism. This is cutting edge.

Posted by umvue | July 16, 2008 4:54 PM

What? Representation is as real as reality? Sounds like an early Star Trek episode or two....

How old are you again Charles? I am reminded of correcting waaay too many freshman thesis papers with this basic concept arrived at presumably by smoking some joints for inspiration a few hours before the paper was due.

Oh and the research that addresses this concept does NOT have subjects stroking nipples (surprise dear readers!)

Posted by Hartiepie | July 16, 2008 4:55 PM

Wow, the neurons that fired in Charles's head while typing this failed to ignite a single mirror neuron in any of his readers.

Interesting demo, Chuck.

Posted by Bob | July 16, 2008 5:09 PM


I think you're crazy.

Posted by Gnarls Mudede | July 16, 2008 5:15 PM

I can never tell if Charles is joking or not..

Posted by hm | July 16, 2008 5:16 PM


Mudede said nipple!

And, uh, bullshit. You're referencing some interesting neurobiology, but there are additional sensory neurons that fire with actual touch, and all of the mental richness of watching a reaction that you know you caused. . . basically, "This means the inside is no different from the outside. How you experience your own body is also how you see another human experience their own body" is a totally dumbshit thing to say because it's just so obviously false.

What would we have to do to make you stop?

Posted by violet_dagrinder | July 16, 2008 5:16 PM


It has occurred to me that perhaps everything, absolutely everything, that he ever posts is satire.

Gawd, I hope so.

Posted by violet_dagrinder | July 16, 2008 5:18 PM

Nice pic, but it's really a cascading chain of electrical and biochemical neural firings.

And the brain works on an holistic scheme, so it's even more hoopy than you think it is, Charles.

Unless you're McCain, in which case some of them kind of wander off to do unrelated things - or don't even get there.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 16, 2008 5:19 PM

this is just the starting point. mirror neurons allow us to reconsider the individual. and they also transform culture into a biological process. i will read more about them and develop a better theory of the self and cultural production. give me time.

Posted by charles mudede | July 16, 2008 5:29 PM

Ziggity @2, and Charles,

so, you're willing to be celibate the rest of your life, as long as you get to watch somebody else go at it?

Posted by CP | July 16, 2008 7:28 PM

I don't know Tarde or Spinoza but it sounds like Blake and Whitman to me, and I'm down.

@16: Yes.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | July 17, 2008 1:49 AM

@16 --

Hence the internet. A vast repository of mirror neuron stimuli allowing nerds to experience sex.

Posted by Al | July 17, 2008 8:45 AM

"hey didja ever think that what if everything we see like disappears when it's out of sight? {phhhhhhhhhhhhhh, here pass it on......}

yeah and how do you really know anything like, really exists, dude?

yeah like in this one book I read? The world was run by giant corporations and they just gave every drugs that made them think that it was all like this land of milk and honey? And you know? Like the reality was it was all this horrible rusty nuked out asphalt wasteland and stuff? But like people didn't know because they were on these drugs and didn't even know it? {phhhhhhhhhhhh...sssssssssssssssssss}

{hey gimme dat}

You mean like they got all the drugs they wanted, and didn't have to pay for them?

Yeah dude.



Heh heh heh hehh.

Hee hee hee hee."

titled: Dickensian Platonists discuss a Philosophy of Aesthetics, 2008 by:

Posted by PC | July 17, 2008 8:47 AM

This means the inside is no different from the outside
Mirror neurons not only dissolve the line between external and internal (or at least force us to rethink that line...

Let's not get carried away here. Yes, mirror neurons are the biological basis for human feelings like empathy. When a human sees someone crying, spreading distribution in neurons activates other neurons that are commonly active at the same time:

other person crying(-->*)you crying-->you cry when sad-->other person is sad

* mirror neuron link

At the same time, mirror neurons are not nerve endings. They have their own synaptic links that are separately from those that fire when we actually experience tactile sensation. They are linked to those nerve ending neurons, but it's not (entirely) bi-directional. Watching someone bump their shin may make you wince, but it's not the same. Get over The Matrix, you potheads. =)

Posted by KBF | July 17, 2008 1:01 PM

Comments Closed

Comments are closed on this post.