Euday Bowman's Twelfth Street Rag

In 1914 Euday Bowman composed "Twelfth Street Rag". He sold it to some guy for a few dollars. This became one of the most recorded and most popular tunes in history. It made millions for everyone but Bowman himself. I actually remember it from when I was a kid. You couldn't turn around without hearing it. Bowman never had another hit and died in poverty. (Although he later wrote "Eleventh Street Rag" and "Thirteenth Street Rag" neither of which anyone has heard of).

There are numerous other examples in the history of Ragtime where composers were totally ripped off and their work stolen or sold for a pittance.



When you seek knowledge from sounds (such as words or music), surprisingly cognition can occur only when you suppresses the sounds into the background in your mind! This is similar to hearing a conversation in the next room but not being able to make out anything that is being said.

When you do make out something - anything! - cognition momentarily stops!

To momentarily “shut sounds into the next room,” all you have to do is blow softly out through your mouth; or touch your lips lightly (as in Rodin’s Thinker”). Maybe because humans’ cognitive machinery pre-dates language and language inherently makes reference to old ideas. Cognition is new ideas. By activating--for something other than language--the cranial nerves responding to input around the mouth (mainly, the trigeminal nerve), you can momentarily suppress language and the old ideas that go with it.

Cognition is completely unconscious and cannot be controlled. It is new knowledge, the nature and even the existence of which comes into awareness over a shorter or longer period of time.

You have to just allow yourself to be open to perceiving the world with “new eyes,” and be prepared to have everything thrown continually into disarray. Someone has actually made a movie about this (The Giant Mechanical Man”).

All this raises the question what exactly a a person can accomplish in school, beyond just learning to read words or music. “Education” insists that knowledge must be grasped consciously and at will, through a given format of language. This is not cognition. “Education” simply does not allow the “student” to “shut things in the other room”.

Someone who graduates from school is exactly the same person who went in, but probably with a lot of pre-packaged ideas stored up for possibly eavesdropping on later! But it is certainly possible to educate yourself by reading books while “shutting the words into the other room,” and only “kind of” hearing the sounds. This is a type of cognition, and can be done by anyone as long as he’s not in a school!

The thrust of an author’s points is not readily learned in this way. The mind doesn’t like sentences or paragraphs, but the individual word or (small) group of words. This is the working material of cognition. Cognition does not abstract the author’s arguments, but the author’s concepts!

All this becomes perfectly obvious as your eavesdropping goes on!.

By the same token, you can profitably go back to the same well many, many times. (If you simply memorized all the author’s words you would still have to repeat them to yourself subconsciously (“in the next room”), with the ideas that go with them, over and over to accomplish the same thing).

Learning can’t happen in school. It has to happen when you can see things or ideas “with new eyes”. Shut the things or ideas into the next room and close the door.

If you are in junior high and you want to be a doctor, take a few minutes every day and eavesdrop on a page or two of General Chemistry by Linus Pauling (currently 35 cents on Amazon) or an antiquated (i.e., cheap) edition of Gray’s Anatomy. Try to keep yourself from grasping anything! (Perhaps best to read every other line). Repeat this process again and again, with a month or two between. You won’t realize it for a while, but you will be eons ahead of your classmates!

Your teacher is hopefully someone who has done a lot more cognition than you have. But all he can do is motivate you. He can’t do it for you. Most of what school can do for you has already been done!

How Shh Tract differs from Dr. Reber

For an academic study which on a number of points closely tracks Shh Tract, see Arthur S. Reber, “How to Differentiate Implicit and Explicit Modes of Acquisition’” in Scientific Approaches to Consciousness, Jonathan Cohen and Jonathan Schooler, eds., Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997. Also: Implicit Learning and Tacit Knowledge, An Essay on the Cognitive Unconscious,” Oxford University Press (Clarendon Press), 1993. Professor Reber is also the author of a Dictionary of Psychology where one can find definitions of the terms “implicit learning,”, “explicit learning”, “tacit knowledge”, “declarative knowledge” and so forth. For example:

“Implicit learning” is defined as “ A term coined by A.S. Reber for learning that takes place largely independent of awareness of both the process of acquisition and the content of the knowledge so acquired. Material that has been learned in this fashion, often termed “procedural knowledge,” can be used to guide behavior, make decisions and solve problems, although that individual is typically unaware of the complex knowledge held that enables him or her to act in this fashion.

“Explicit Learning” is “Learning that takes place consciously and results in knowledge that is available to consciousness; learning of which one is aware.”

From the first reference above:

“Implicit acquisition systems have a long evolutionary history and can be found operating in virtually every species of even modest neurological complexity.” (p. 152)

“Our subjects are conscious of the fact that they have learned something. They are aware that cognitive change has taken place during the learning phase of the experiment, they know that they know something they did not know before. They have a “feeling of knowing.”

“The quick review of the literature included here strongly supports the notion of a hierarchically structured mind/brain with a foundational implicit acquisition and representation system that operates largely independently of consciousness, hovered over by an explicit cognizing system whose operations are intimately tied to consciousness.” (p. 151).

Shh Tract differs from Dr. Reber as follows:

“Implicit learning” is really the one and only mode of cognition. “Explicit learning” is merely either an understanding and putting into words of one’s own “tacit knowledge” or else an understanding of someone else’s proffered “knowledge” without integrating it into one’s own (tacit) view of the world.

The proof is that “explicit learning” simply cannot be intentionally or predictably integrated into one’s “cognitive unconscious”. No amount of effort will do it. The cognitive unconscious makes knowledge in completely unpredictable ways. That is its job.

No wonder tachistoscopists are frustrated in their efforts to insert specific content into the cognitive unconscious (p. 141, first reference above). The cognitive unconscious has a mind all its own. “Implicit learning” makes things part of your world. It gives you what you see when you “look out” at the world.

Obviously, “explicit learning” (which is learning by means of words) does make use of one’s existing “cognitive unconscious” (or per Shh Tract, one’s “conceptual structure”). But it doesn’t change that structure at all. No “cognition” occurs.