Computer Gaming and Protocols of Improvisation


The hippocampal formation lies at an "obvious crossroads in the limbic system" where it provides a "single association matrix, one which could affix the stamp of a specific event onto that particular framework supplied by its context...that conjunction between an event, its occurrence in time, its place in space, and the lively coloration it receives from its emotionalized limbic correlates" (James Austin, Zen and the Brain, 182-183).

Limbic System

Cognition is full-body immersion. Candace Pert's discovery of widespread peptide receptors throughout the body conclusively blurred previous distinctions between cognition and emotion, and where they occur in the body. As reported by Fritjof Capra in the The Web of Life, peptides are the equivalent of "molecular messengers" which interconnect three distinct systems--the nervous system, the immune system, and the endocrine system--into one single network" (282). Pert's research on peptides--short chains of amino acids--confirm the biochemical basis of emotions, which are translated in the limbic system into cognition about those emotions.

There is little opportunity here to review in detail Austin's ambitious synthesis of neurophysiology and Zen states of kensho or satori; suffice it to say that he identifies the limbic system as a kind of crossroads of human anatomy where sensations are translated into cognition through the widely-distributed agency of peptides.

Is it possible, then, that the archetype of the trickster embodies, as Turner suggests, a deep intuitive understanding of how the human mind translates feeling into action, how it grapples with paradox, how it reconciles the one with the many?