Activators 101

September 14, 2010 |  by

Let’s talk consciousness a sec..

Most agree it goes something like this: We meet an object in the world (a rock, a bird or a song), it makes an impression on us through our senses, which activates a part of our brain. The things that activate our brains are activators. Totally simple.

Everything in the world is an activator. A rock, a rose, a chair, a stop sign, that song by Nelly, a cheesecake, your mother, the Wall Street Journal and Mars are all activators. What’s activated – according to neuroscientists – are set patterns of neurons in the brain (neural networks) that reflect our emotions, desires and beliefs. So your mother is going to activate a certain emotional pattern in your brain. By the way – this doesn’t make the emotion any less valid – we’re just examining how it happens. In the case of a rock, what’s activated may simply be the neural pattern for recognizing a rock.

The “units of culture” we hear about are activators that were made by somebody (songs by Nelly, cheesecakes). The other kind of activators are made by nature (rocks, roses).

Having a framework like this really helps me. Instead of thinking of “units of culture” as just floating around in the cultural soup, I can see them for what they are.

Part of a bigger picture.

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