News from Polska #3 - The Tickler and the Ticklee


News from Polska #3 - The Tickler and the Ticklee

The 2017 edition of the News from Polska festival presents a selection of works dramaturgically based on inner speech and its complicated relationship with self- regulatory systems, alongside efference deviations ranging from auditory verbal hallucinations to emulation of the other, alien hand syndrome and divine dialogue.

In order to perform a specific motor action, the central nervous system has to issue a signal called an efference. 50 to 100 milliseconds before this signal sets in motion the responsible limb(s), an identical signal, called an efference copy, is issued. When the movement is completed, the efference copy is being compared to the outcome. If the two coincide, the efference copy is kept identical and the movement is being repeated, with a smaller and smaller degree of supervision required (automatic movement). If they do not, the efference copy is modiffed and used as feedback for future movement, in the attempt to cancel out disturbing factors.

Efference copies are created with our own movement but not with those of other people. This is why other people can tickle us (our system doesn’t create efference copies of the movements that touch us) but we cannot tickle ourselves (efference copies tell us that we are stimulating ourselves). But whereas the situation is rather clear when it comes to distinguishing our own actions from those of others, we are never confronted with the problem of sorting out between our own thoughts and those of others. Inside our minds, the separation between the tickler and ticklee is harder.

Developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1934-1987) suggested that inner speech constitutes a form of verbal self regulation that is derived from semiotically mediated exchanges with interlocutors in the social world. Dialogue that originally exists on the interpsychological plane, as an exchange between individuals, is reconstructed on the intrapsychological plane as inner speech or verbal thought. Our thinking is therefore permeated by exterior voices that we often fail to recognize as belonging to others and try to predict their outcome through efference models.