I learned about oscillations the other day… they’re a type of wave (e.g., a radio frequency or mathematical function) … I started out by puzzling how to interpret the English word into ASL….a type of rhythm…but not necessarily synchronous, it could be asynchronous… my teacher (LOFTS) explained the important feature of an upper range and a lower range that these oscillations demonstrate in the natural world. We usually see these on a graph, a very common one is a sine wave.
Now, my own personal project everytime I’m learning about a hard science, is to imagine if – and if so, how – that model serves in any way to illuminate social behavior. The deal with the wave (and no, we’re not waving hello or goodbye (yet!) we’re moving across space and time like an ocean tide) is this bit about the ranges. Two of them. The upper and the lower. So, at the peak of a wave there is a typical range of values, and just about all the time the peak is going to land somewhere between those values: not always at the maximum, but not always at the minimum either. Somewhere in between the two outer edges (heights, if you will) that mark the average height area where the peak will stop and turn down again. A range – not a set number! Not “the same” place, but a similar place, over and over again. Same at the bottom. Almost always, the nadir of the valley will go past a certain point (we could say depth) but not beyond another point. Not always to the furthest in the average range, not always to the shallowest in the range, but somewhere in between.
Already I’m thinking, ok, so let’s take moods, emotion. Mine, for instance. 🙂 When I’m feeling happy, there is, in fact, a range of “happiness.” There’s a minimum threshold I have to pass before what I’m feeling qualifies as “happy,” and it can go on for awhile until maxing out at the peak of exuberance. I don’t always get to feel the most ecstatic, and I don’t always get to just barely arrive, but if I’m feeling happy I’ve hit the zone of variation that all qualifies as happy. Being sad works the same. I’ve got gradations of mopey to mournful to deep grieving.
Ok, so what. BIG DEAL. Nothing new here, nothing unique! But let’s say you then add some kind of periodicity to the fluctation of “ups” and “downs”. Am I playing with psychology here? No doubt. But I haven’t read or heard it, so as far as I’m concerned (!) this is stuff I’m figuring out on my own. (Ha!) I’m betting – besides the obvious hormonal cycles – that each individual develops their own kind of “rhythm” of emotion based on events and incidents, repetitions and aberrations in the daily phenomenon of growing up. This gets remembered in the body and – what do you bet? – was then, and is now, reinforced by language. Certain words, particular phrases, a turn in the conversation that mirrors the play of previous conversations: whammo – the emotional rhythm gets kicked in. For ‘good’ or ‘ill’, I’d wager. Equal Opportunity Emotions.
I know this is a wild idea. (Or, I assume it is a wild idea, ’cause I thought of it and people so often react to me as if I’m just a bit further out there…!) But what if the language of persons – using languages in a Bakhtinian sense – is based on patterns or rhythms of linguistic memory?
blogpost on his three global concepts
What if the “wave pattern” of our own emotional oscillations has
a) particular ranges at the top and bottom, and
b) a ir/regular periodicity?
What if language (that we take in, as well as that we put out) is the means of identification? Then, we’re predisposed (perhaps) at certain times (in the periodic cycle) to ‘hear’ (interpret) certain phrases in particular ways, and maybe also to say things because ‘it’s time.’