Merger doesn't get enough attention, considering its universality and
importance. Let's give it some attention, okay? Forgive my brevity.
Emotional Merger seems to be a general process within emotion-related
(i.e., all) cognition.
Let "categorization" be that cognitive process which merges an
instance into its category.
Here I consider the universal but underappreciated process of
emotional categorization which, I presume to assert, moves
from universal to specific rather than the other way around.
As with every emotional change of coloring some part of the, or
perhaps even the entire, subjectively perceived universe is
internally erased and reconstituted more or less from scratch
under the new emotional valence or color, all things are merged
into that emotional meaning as into its emotional import or
perhaps category. Subsequently, this perceived world is
subjectively and carefully re-evaluated as to what is and isn't
emotionally relevant in this newly colored world, in a
specification process that removes from conscious focus those
aspects not relevant to the current emotional frame.
Merger, then, is the operation that collapses everything
into the new emotional field, and specification is its
successor process which rules out wide aspects as not to be
attended to. Thus as emotions swap in and out, consciousness
throbs in a rhythm of inclusion and exclusion, with revaluation
and both attending and ignoring as fundamental mechanisms.
Consider some related examples and scenarios.
- The caregiver relationship, to the infant, becomes the prototype of
all relationships. Give and take, modulation of taking,
communicating halfway measures of negative judgement so as to
maintain closeness while adjusting discomforts: these negotiations
are learned at the breast, and then available for sophisticated
social relationships throughout life. The abstract world-modelling
system of the infant develops a sophisticated model of negotiated
relationship, often referred to as the Mother, but available in all
future relationships, which indeed are ramifications of the first
relationship. How else could one learn usefully, if not to learn
the detail in one circumstance and then generalize that learning to
other situations so as to be able to apply the learning usefully.
H. But does the learning infant encountering another consider,
oh, this is different from Mother, I shall consider it to be usefully
similar to Mother and thereby make use of my mother-interaction skills
in my relationship with this new Stranger? Or rather the infant sees
the new other as Mother herself, just in a perhaps insignificantly modified or ramified form,
inheriting the characteristics of Mother automatically. Thus Father is
a modified Mother figure, and Baby must learn the differences, rather than
what is the same.
- Similarly a table tennis forehand stroke using just the fingers is
learned in multi-ball training alone or with a coach; once learned
that skill becomes foundational and a-part-of, to all kinds of
strokes, more or less additionally supported by footwork, waist
work, arm work, etc. The foundational skill is the merger of the
situations in which in future it will be applied; it is present in
all of them, it is essential in all of them.
- Sexual desire, for some, seems to seek out a shared form in which
all partners participate; any one will be and do, what all have been
and done. Willy Nelson, "To All The Girls I've Loved Before",
merges all those relationships into a single archetypal
relationship. The species survives based on the power of this
abstraction, the desired other, which must be an abstraction, a
generalization, for it to work in all, or so very many,
circumstances. Yet no partner wants to be fungible,
intersubstitutable with any number of equivalent plug-ins. So even
if true, this is quite impolitic to point out.
- An angry person, encountering any person, might project the Opponent
archetype or abstraction onto them, merging that person's
individuality with the general attributed character of
Opponent-In-Anger. This describes no more than the abstract nature
of emotional perception. It applies to a range of circumstances,
irrespective of the intentions, for example, of the encountered
- The petals of the heart lotus, in the emotional typology of
Muktananda (Finite to Infinite ??p315??.) have the quality that
whatever you see in the world, it is colored with the emotion of
that petal of the heart lotus on which your awareness temporarily
- This implies merger, the things present in the angry state are also
the things there in the fear state and the love state, and those
things are merged emotionally into the new emotional state as one
transitions into the new emotional state. Like changing ones
glasses, the scene that emerges is somewhat the same scene. The
degree of sameness, is the degree of emotional merger. All things
are the same, in the sense that all things carry that same emotional
valence in the subjective perspective of the emotional viewer. It's
paradoxical because the whole world changes, merges to the new
emotional perspective. I'd say the whole world is reconstituted,
with each change of emotion, since emotion is primary and
fundamental to circumstance perception.
- In high emotions as much as low, take for example the 12th heart
petal, universal love and wisdom, merger takes place of the whole
world, in this case within the category of the Beloved. How sad and
limited must be the devotional meditator who touches inwardly their
experience of the beloved, but whose habit of specifying particular
circumstances to particular emotions demands that that universality
reside only in the particular or ritual space, and not outside.
Transcendence in temple, and the dirty world outside, is a contrast
yearning for merger up.
- Religious or spiritual Oneness is the aftereffect, at least, of
Two processes countervail: specification, and merger. In
specification, the system separates out the emotion-concentrating
aspects of experience from all others, for example the feared stimulus
or the angering subcircumstance, etc. Specification is an inhibitory,
differentiating process which circumscribes the zone of threat or
attention so as to focus on a smaller area with particular attention.
Specification tries to limit the emotional assessment E(s) => e, to as
specific and small a subset of circumstance as possible, in order to
solve or resolve it most easily. Specification is intelligent work,
it requires sophisticated processing, but it seems to be a bit
subconscious in that while the attentional zone is the conscious area,
this in contrast is about the work of reducing that attentional zone
to the small part you have to do something about. It is the
intelligence of making unconscious, the wisdom of removing material
from view, the back side of the coin of emotion-driven attention.
In merger (which occurs ab initio during any emotional change) is more
natural and effortless, the system fails to differentiate some causes
of emotion versus others, and considers them effectively the same, for
the purposes of the emotional response. Merger can operate at
different levels, from great specificity to great generality. On one
end you might not differentiate between your enemies on the
battlefield, for example, but treat them all as the same. On the
other end, you might decide like a saint that all people are beloved,
or all things. Inclusiveness is, however, more natural than
inhibitory, and less work is required. If you recognize your emotion
is supportable irrespective of circumstance, then it can apply to all
circumstances, and you don't have to differentiate or emotionally
specify. The high emotions seem to have this quality, whereas the low
emotions support greater specificity, are more wisely experienced with
detailed specificity, more naturally hold to specification than
Emotional Merger is a subcategory of Abstraction. Biological
information processing systems are abstract; they collapse a variety
of different circumstances into a single category, perhaps defined as
those things to which one responds in a particular way W, so as to
respond in generic and useful ways to survive and reproduce
consistently over evolutionary time. Only general mechanisms can
achieve such a survival outcome, because circumstances change and
vary, yet responses must be effective. Given a limited set, perhaps
vocabulary, of responses, abstraction follows logically. H.