EIRP Proceedings, Vol 11 (2016)

Text Homeostasis

Dan Balanescu1

Abstract: Article intend to formulate in terms of problematization and to present the theoretical framework available that allows enunciation of following working hypothesis: “Identifying a necessary cause intervening as in an impersonal communication and leading to a “movement” of the mind of the receiver.”

Keywords: homeostasis; impersonal communication; cognitive tension.

1. From Biochemical Balance to the Birth Of Self-Consciousness

1.1. The Etymology and Evolution of “Homeostasis” Concept

Homeostasis: homoeos (similar) + stasis (motionless), is the property of a system whose variables are adjusted so that the internal state of the system remains stable and relatively constant.

The concept of a regulatory mechanism of the body in terms of balance begins in ancient Indian medicine Ayurveda, being taken over by the Greeks and Romans in the thesis of the four “humors” (four bodily fluids) that regulates health and temperament.

In the 17th century French physiologist Claude Bernard takes over and change the concept in what he called “interior milieu” (Gross, 1998) principle which ensures the stability of low environmental stability extracellular fluids.

Bernard's intervention is important beyond physiological dimension thanks to statement: “Stability of interior environment provide freedom and independence of life”. (Bernard, 1974) This statement shows the necessary cause of this phenomenon.

In 1926, American physiologist Walter Bradford Cannon takes over and popularized Bernard’s theory in his book “Physiological regulation of normal states: some attempts postulates concerning biological homeostatic” and especially in “The wisdom of the body” – 1932, in which states that the emotional expressions are the result of hypothalamus structures, emotional feeling emotional results from stimulation of Dorsal Thalamus.

Bradford impose term “homeostasis” and discover “fight or flight” reflex, on which I will return later to correlate Freudian psychology concepts of “displacement” and “condensation” with Poetic function in communication and with metaphor and metonymy concept.

1.2. Physiology of Consciousness

Owen Flanagan, professor of neurobiology at Duke University in the US, said: “There is solid evidence that lead to idea that people in all cultures are projecting their own identity in narrative forms.”2 and “One of the problems of studying consciousness is the way the covert consciousness depend on brain states.”

This new breed of representative are specific to 20th century synthesis sciences researchers who conceptualize the processes by which the brain neurobiology “produce” The Mind.

Australian physiologist Derek Denton, coined the concept of “Primordial Emotion”, “Homeostatic Emotion” or “Primordial Feeling”, explained as an alert of the body (physiological) metamorphosed into basal motivation (thirst, hunger, fatigue, fear). A body inner state becoming a central nervous system behavior (drinking, eating, resting, fight or flight), preceded by intention to act as a result of specific imperative physiological signals3.

In his latest book “The Primordial Emotions: The Dawning of Consciousness” Denton describes these emotions as being dominated by two features: Imperativity and Satisfaction. Denton makes a distinction between “Primary Emotions” and “Imperativity” excitement seeking “intention to act” in the lower regions of the nervous system (medulla, midbrain, hypothalamus) and “Primary Emotions” mediated by the higher regions of the central nervous system.

Antonio Damasio, professor of neurosciences at the University of Southern California, studying cases of injury of the midbrain and discovers that the destruction of the upper part of its drive to a vegetative state (body lacks aware), while destruction of the lower causing a sort of captivity in his own body in which completely immobilized, the patient is perfectly lucid and conscious and thus deduce the existence of which depends on the conscious self.

Simple organism unicellular or multicellular, can’t perceive but manifests the homeostatic principle as a physiological reflex. Complex organisms equipped with central nervous system, the body made subsequent requests awareness. Thus, a biochemical imbalance is perceived and translated as feeling. Sensations become Intentions and Intentions manifested Behavior, leading to body needs satisfaction.

Thus, the imbalance of salts, cause thirst, drink intention to induce thirst intention leads to action, thus achieving the requested cellular homeostatic balance. This phenomenon is not a complication but a refinement: due sensation and intention, conscious dictates not only making a reflex act but choosing the best solutions in qualitative terms. Acknowledging the imbalance through the thirst, the intention is fulfilled not just by ingestion of any liquid, but mediated by choice, we can “extinguish” the feeling drinking water, juice, beer, milk or eating a slice of watermelon.

In evolutionary competition, winners are not those who satisfy their needs but those who best satisfy them, and this can’t be done without “intervention” of consciousness.

2. From the Context Homeostasis to Text Homeostasis

2.1. Cybernetic Model of Communication

Human body cybernetics is extended to the relationships and individual communication e and social acts. A major role in this extrapolation played Palo Alto school of psychology.

Revolution in communication approach begins with Theodore Newcomb. It requires in 1953, a triangular model of communication, in which the three components are: Receiver-Transmitter-Context. The elements of this model are interdependent, so they form a system, meaning that if any of the three is changing, the other adapts accordingly to keep the system balance.

2.2. Metaphor and Metonymy

Roman Jakobson (1960) defines context from the perspective of linguistics and semiotics as basically similar peircian sign that refers to something other than itself.

Equally important is the formulation by it of the six communication functions (Referential, Poetic, Expressive, Conative, Phatic and Metalinguistic)4. In the economy of this article, the Poetic function is essential. Poetic function is the relationship with the message itself.

In the poetic space, expressivity already operate with other concepts: the tropes or figures of speech. Two most important figures of speech are: metaphor and metonymy.

Metaphor and Metonymy are fundamentals constituents of language and have a special “destiny” in understanding the history of the human psyche. The poetic metaphor appear anywhere mention human culture as persistent and consistent explanation they occur in nature Avocadro number or Fibonacci sequence.

Metaphor, in its easiest definition is a figure of speech defined by express of something thru something else which who has something in common. Is there a replacement whose reasons are not the strictly aesthetic but fundamentally necessary. The need for this replacements was very plastic defined by German playwright Dürrenmatt Friendrich, which states that “the essential things are unspeakable.”

2.3. Civilization as a Prerequisite Text

Failure essences utterance and metaphorical solution is found everywhere, from paradox poetic truths that are expressed in the Holy Scriptures, to the lyrical vocabulary in manifesting art.

This mandatory substitution of something whit something else for successful of communication occurs even at physiological basis of our nature when a chemical imbalance is “translated” by sensations. The sensation is nothing but chemical status that alerts the hypothalamus. This “something else” is the necessary replacement metamorphosis of the body in a state of psychic states.

Similarly, the iconic description is replaced whit symbolic description that communicated both perceptible and imperceptible phenomena. Starting from Saussurian definition of language as a system purely arbitrary, we must admit that icons are nothing but arbitrary metaphors.

There are two types of metaphors: necessary one and arbitrary one. Article follows the thread that leads to understanding necessary metaphors. The metaphor is fundamental paradigmatic, it works categorical.

At the other end, metonymy, defined as a figure of speech in which part that represents the whole, extends world in syntagmatic way. Metaphor and metonymy expand and organizes the world.

Sigmund Freud speaks (Verschiebung) “displacement” (dislocation) and (Verdichtung) “condensation” (unification). (Freud, 1933). These terms can be associated whit metaphor and metonymy acting at subconscious layers of the human psyche. In 1957, Jacques Lacan says after reading an article by Jakobson: “unconscious has the same structure as the language and the displacement and condensation are equivalent to poetic functions of metaphor and metonymy.” Also in Gestalt psychology appear a conceptual correspondents of metaphor and metonymy in Similarity Law and Proximity law.

If subconscious and language have similar structures and if the mind obeys to the laws of homeostasis, probably mind productions are subjected to the same process.

3. Homeostatic Text Analysis

3.1. Justification

The reason of my journey comes from the urge to discover a necessary cause of Receiver mind movement in situations of impersonal communication.

Any communication where the transmitter is not present, it is a situation of impersonal communication. If in direct communication the Context (according to Newcomb's theory) is decrypted thanks to non-verbal communication that provides interpretation keys (according to Palo Alto school), what take place of these “keys” in impersonal communication?

3.2. Proposal

My theory is that substitute of nonverbal communication is Cognitive Tension, defined as the position of the Receivers face to Interpretant (meaning sign), Representamen (sign) and Object (reference reality).

In front of any text, the Receiver formulates its expectation horizon tunes which we call Anticipation. Any text “proposal” can be assessed differently by the expectations of each receiver. Thus, a text can be found acceptable when confirm our expectations, interesting when it completes, and challenging when come against the expectation.

My hypothesis is that there is a proportional relationship between Cognitive Tension and impersonal communication success: the bigger is charge on Cognitive Tension, the greater the success is. Classic Hollywood scenario movies in which the hero revenge an injustice is a typical case of compliance under charge between text and expectations.

Interestingly is the scenario where the charge is maximum. Maximum charge (inconsistency) “compel” the Receiver to “translate” the elements of the scenario. The need for this approach is imposed by the cognitive dissonance that receiver feels. He has to find a solution to reduce this charge for preserve his worldview. Thus, Receiver worldview, Representamen text and Interpretant text is a homeostatic system. For the text as Representamen it is a given, it means that the other two parts of the system that must to change: the worldview of the Receiver and the text as Interpretant.

3.3. Homeostatic Analysis of Miorita Ballad

An analysis in homeostatic key of Romanian Miorita ballad will demonstrate how to solve a maximum charge scenario.

The Stage

Near a low foothill /At Heaven’s doorsill, /Where the trail’s descending /To the plain and ending, /Here three shepherds keep /Their three flocks of sheep, /One, Moldavian, /One, Transylvanian /And one, Vrancean.

The Plot

Now, the Vrancean /And the Transylvanian /In their thoughts, conniving, /Have laid plans, contriving /At the close of day /To ambush and slay /The Moldavian;

Now the plot is set. Receiver formulates his Anticipation according to which it will subsequently activates Primordial Emotions.

Destiny Revealed

One small ewe-lamb, though, /Dappled gray as tow, /While three full days passed /Bleated loud and fast; /Would not touch the grass., … Oh my master dear, /The Transylvanian /And the Vrancean /When the daylight’s through /Mean to murder you

Maxmum Charge

If I’m doomed to death /On this tract of heath, /Tell the Vrancean /And Transylvanian /To let my bones lie /Somewhere here close by.”

The hero does not react, but this is less “alarming” than the serenity hi manifest. This serenity actually trigger tension and the reader realizes that hi missing something, that translates text wrong.

Sheep mischievous attitude seems closer to the expectations of the reader. Mioara require one of two primordial reflexes: fight (“Master, master dear, /Call a large hound near, /A fierce one and fearless, Strong, loyal and peerless”) or flight (Oh my master dear, /Drive the flock out near /That field, dark to view, /Where the grass grows new, /Where there’s shade for you.”). The magic sheep represent our primitive nature.

Maximum Charge Solved

In fact, the shepherd reacts in order to preserve the initial situation that we have to recall: “Near a low foothill /At Heaven’s doorsill,” (meaning the Heaven on Earth). The final situation is actually an improvement of the original: “Let it just be said /I have gone to wed/A princess most noble /There on Heaven’s doorsill.” (meaning the Heaven).

Basically, the tendency to act visceral (sheep view) is the real danger. Shepherd avoid this trap, since it recognizes the situation as the beginning of the Great Passing. He does not act accordingly with the lower instincts and transcends from “Heaven on Earth” to “Heaven”. In the Church's wedding is a mystery, wedding is a metaphor for the Great Passage.

Only this interpretation solves the charge and requires a reconsideration of reader expectations, a re-creation of the worldviews, restoring balance between expectation and significance of the text.

4. Invitation for the Method

Using homeostatic text analysis is defined basically by identifying points of charge and analyzing their significance. At the end of this process, there will be text analysis who is not a qualitative result of the reader's imagination, but the text itself.

The fundamental idea is that communication of a text success depends on Points of Cognitive Charge, constituted at the necessary decryption codes.

No matter how tempted I was to finish this article in a Romanian culture key, I will conclude by opening ideas in a universal dimension and we will invite you to try homeostatic analysis on any text; Try for example to review the text of Rene Margitte painting “La Trahison des images” in terms of Expectation, Charge and Meaning.

5. References

Freud, Sigmund (1933). Vorlesungen zur Einfuhrung in die Psychoanalyse/Lectures on introduction to psychoanalysis.

Jakobson, Roman (1960). Linguistics and Poetics.

Bernard, C. (1974). Lectures on the phenomena common to animals and plants.

Gross, C. G. (1998). Claude Bernard and the constancy of the internal environment.

Flanagan, Owen (1992).Consciousness Reconsidered.

Damasio, Antonio (2005). The Primordial Emotions: The Dawning of Consciousness.

Damasio, Antonio (2010). Self-Come to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain.


1 Undergraduate, Danubius University of Galati, Faculty of Communication Sciences and International Relations, Romania, Address: 3 Galati Blvd, 800654, Galati, Romania, Tel.: +40372361102, Fax: +40372331290, Corresponding author: contact.balanescu@gmail.com.

2 Consciousness Reconsidered – MIT Press, 1992.

3 The Primordial Emotions: The Dawning of Consciousness.

4 Linguistics and Poetics – MIT Press, 1960.


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