Excerpt from: The Journal of Magik and Experimental Cognition Volume I Number 1
The human memory system, of course which is CRITICAL to Magik, has yet to be fully associated with the actual biological brain. This is probably because contrary to mainstream cognitive psychology the memory is not the sum of its parts. However, there are researchers that do touch upon an esoteric magical model of human cognition (i.e., Fist). And other psychologists (i.e., Cowan, 2010) suggests that both memory capacity and memory processing are both developmental, which therefore suggests that human memory can continue to be developed through life, and into old age. A critical feature of the Magikal doctrine.
The 4 part metacognitive model offered here consists of the long term memory, short term memory, working memory, and a central executive memory. There are three basic processes in this model, rehearsal, where information is rehearsed mentally in the working memory so that it can be memorized, encoding, where the information enters into the short term memory and then the long term memory, and retrieval, where the information is recalled back into working memory from long term or short term memory.
An important feature of the working memory, which will be briefly discussed here, is known as the phonological loop. It is a sort of inner voice that is used to manipulate and crystallize cognitions. Some psychologists (i.e., Repovs and Baddeley, 2006) suggest that the working memory and therefore the phonological loop are associated with abstract thinking. Using this logic, it seems that the phonological loop (i.e., working memory) had to evolve contemporaneously with the emergence of language or the proto-languages, because it is inherently tied to language in some concrete form. Psychologist Julian Jaynes goes into this type of developmental trajectory in his The Origins of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. If this actually did occur, and working memory and all the powerful abilities that rely upon it developed contemporaneously with language, what was the earlier form of this mechanism (i.e., the phonological loop)? Would it have been more of a metaphysical symbol system? Was memory before language based upon symbols and not language? This of course is a profound thought, and would generate en entire different cognitive basis and an entire new universe of possibilities in terms of complex cognition. However, it is a chicken or the egg question.
Abstract thinking, like ruminating about the future or when involved with a creative task or problem solving task, is clearly a powerful cognitive power, and is absolutely critical to successfully practicing Magik. Having knowledge of the future, and to be able to contemplate future contingencies is clearly dependent upon a strong form of working memory. A possible point of meditation, or for deepening one’s introspective cognitive powers, may be, is working memory (i.e., your passing thoughts and immediate strength of recall ability regarding) a group of items or possibilities being cycled through a process, or are they all present at once and they are being isolated by attention, and therefore only appear to be occurring through time? Attempting to meditate upon this conundrum will produce wonderful results.
Another interesting idea regarding working memory is whether it’s an emergent property. This is a provocative idea, because what would have been the cognitive process from which working memory emerged evolutionarily, and is there an animal model that could provide a type of cognitive evolutionary narrative to working memory? Much more will be said about these four components at a later date.
However, briefly, it should be noted that one of the most occult of all powers is the power of attention. Attention’s teleological origin is unknown. Psychologist Arthur Reber noted that the information stored in the mind far exceeds what can actually be expressed. What controls what’s expressed? Attention is what controls and guides behavior and cognition, and therefore memory. When attention is discussed in psychological literature, it is often given an almost mystical relationship with human cognition, and the operational definition of attention is rarely given. Really, attention is like a ghost in the machine- an invisible but powerful force which drives human cognition and guides the what and where that dictates and orients behavior. Attention is sometimes used as a crutch to prop up theories that seem to have no solid bottom. In one model (see Anderson, 1995) it is said that encoding is done by ‘ACT moving its attention over the visual array.’ As already said, suggesting that attention is at the bottom of a process and not fully accounting for what attention actually is and how it emerges in the first place is a serious problem with most cognitive theories of memory Another interesting question would be, is there a difference between the type of attention we have in regards to an event like a bright flashing light, or loud sound, than with the type of attention we have when we are in deep thought about a problem or issue?
Attention is critical to being successful in almost everything, but no formulas exist to strengthen it. PPPP is such a formula, Prediction, Projection, Patience, Power.
Prediction is fundamental to high order cognition. Memory, and rumination upon the future, and plotting and speculating upon future contingencies, is one of the most powerful and little understood of all cognitive processes, except for the most fundamental of all mysteries, which is concept formation. Prediction involves a powerful working memory, because the amount of predictive possibilities one can weigh, is associated with the power of their working memory, and ultimately the ability to predict is correlated to the known possibilities.
Projection involves creating a temple both physically and mentally so the mind can enter into it.
Patience is the critical aspect of the P.P.P.P. formula, it is of course the process by which fascination, or worse obsession, occurs. This is the stage where the Magikal effect occurs, before this point it is all mundane material work, after, however, the Magus embeds the Magik purpose.
Power is the ability to gain wisdom from experience.
And regarding concept formation, which is the secret to all Magik, this process of bringing forth material from the un/subconscious in the form of a creative product or a creative unit in the firm of an idea, it is regressed back unto the subconscious then brought forth once again to become either a development if an idea, or the creation of one. This is the alchemical/creativity process. This process, Martindale (1999) developed into the now popular cognitive theory of creativity using the polar model of conscious and primordial, of in term of basic biological metaphoric language, ascending and descending.
Fundamental to human metacognition is what's called 'attention.' A proper definition of attention is needed; it is at this point in psychology a 'ghost in the machine,' much like Darwin's teleological conundrum of purpose. In fact, it can be said, that attention is to cognition what purpose is to evolution.
What does this mean for Magik? It means that as far as the occult, and how tendencies in human biology are not able to account for themselves, and that when psychology is taken, biology will be dominant in its perceived influence, although still no cause exists. However, with attention and purpose, it is a chicken or the egg- does biology direct attention, or does psychology? And is psychology different than biology, or is it a hallucination? Further, what is the function of purpose and attention, and are they different? All these problems entrench the literature of memory and attention.