Facial Action Coding and Posism

Posted on June 12, 2008
Filed Under Experiments, identity, neuroscience, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment

Something Bill Whitcomb turned me on to recently is Facial Action Coding (FACS). It’s a coding system that attempts to taxonimize human facial expressions (just imagine the correspondence charts with that!). For me this is interesting, because I see some related threads in the neuroscience works I’ve been reading in terms of how facial expressions have been used in experiments with emotions. Add in, what I consider to be some potential for magical work via the usage of facial expressions, in terms of invocations or for identity work and FACS could have some pretty cool applications.

Now what’s really interesting though is when you can combine posture and gesture into something like FACS. To some degree we do this already on an automatic level, but of course my interest is on a conscious level…and we can thank Pascal Beverly Randolph for some suggestions toward that. In his book Sexual Magic, he discusses a concept called Posism, which is a method where you use body language, gestures, and postures as a way of embodying a concept or emotion you want to work with magically. You can see some of his stage magician background with this technique, but I’d be interested in finding out if he was influenced by 18th century rhetoric schools which taught rhetoricians poses and gestures that could be used to evoke emotional responses from their audiences.

For Posism to work the magician creates a mental state which s/he associates with the gesture. The idea is that the gesture then creates the thought, which in turn acts as an influence on both the magician and the environment around hir. Sounds an awful lot like NLP anchoring, doesn’t it? Actually you can probably base some of the influence of ritual poses in Western Magic on Yoga, but also PBR’s Posism techniques.

In anycase, Posism, combined with NLP techniques and FACĀ  might provide some intriguing possibilities in terms of creating different emotional states and other altered states of consciousness through the use of body posture, gesture, facial expression, and of course anchoring. I don’t know enough about FACS yet, but I’ve started using Posism and NLP for certain engagements and it’s proving helpful…so when I learn more I’ll be sure to update.