Dallas, July 30, 1999
A month ago, at the ISSS meeting in Asilomar, I was listening to a Harvard astrophysicist's views on 'cosmic evolution', ... the portrayal of a future in which human civilization would 'progress' by moving to other planetary bases as it finished 'consuming' the earth. ... His story had an unnatural and hollow 'ring' to it.
The day before yesterday, I was listening to a friend's account of his son's unfolding and seemingly unstoppable mental breakdown, ... a young engineer whose well-respected skills have kept him off the ranks of the unemployed to be 'consumed' by the impossible burdens involved in sustaining the reduced, and more financially successful company. ... His story had an unnatural and hollow 'ring' to it.
Yesterday, in an email discussion on the evolution of social 'organisms', I was listening to a web-correspondant complaining about " ... the use of more and more words to try to deal with the failure of the words already used" and his concluding that "I am not inclined to read on once someone complains about not understanding what has gone before. I dislike exercises in futility." His story had an unnatural and hollow 'ring' to it.
These recently laid layers of my experience, seem to have something very fundamental in common, .... but what is it? ... why do I feel a 'shallowness' or 'tinnyness' associated with the sustaining of a civilization, a company, or a thought flow, ... in terms of it undergoing a linear progression?
I could add another layer to this layering of recent experience, an experience which juxtaposed the richness of life against the tinnyness of linear robotry, ... my viewing of the film 'Bladerunner' with its theme of how replicants (robots) might be confused with living humans, ... that it might be difficult to distinguish a replicant from a human. It's a thought provoking film and I've seen it film several times. In fact, it prompted me, a couple of years back, to write an essay, 'Bladerunner Ballet', ... an attempt to warn young 'still-alive' readers about the rise of robotic behaviors around them. I say 'robotic behaviors' rather than 'robots' since I am speaking about our rising, acculturated tendency to behave in a 'shallow', 'programmed' manner.
What 'is' the basic difference between manufabricated robot and living human being?
You may have read about 'tests' which could establish the difference, ... the experiencing or not experiencing of certain emotions and all that, ... but I'm going to share with you a very simple and common sense visualization of that basic difference, ... one that comes to me from the bringing into connection in the mind, a multitude of real and imaginary experiences of the type mentioned above.
In order to 'get' to this visualized understanding, you will have to suspend your expectation of being given a 'voyeur explanation'. A voyeur explanation is built sequentially (via a linear progression) 'out there' in front of you as was the Harvard astrophysicist's view and explanation of 'cosmic evolution', a linear progression in time. Instead of seeing the explanation 'out there' in front of you, as if you were watching me drawing sketches and putting notes on a blackboard in front of you, you will instead have to 'realize' this visualization within you, and this occurs by the same 'inclusionary' process I just mentioned, ... by bringing a multitude of real and imaginary experiences into connection in your mind, ... catalyzed and guided by the words you will be reading but not constituted by literal content of the words and word-structures 'in themselves'.
This method of visualization is 'inclusionary' in that it taps your whole 'experiential database' and is not confined to the 'stand-alone' word structures and diagrams you see in front of you. Incidentally, it was the intention of the Greeks, in adding vowel symbols as they created their phonetic language from the vowel-less Phoenician language, to eliminate ambiguity and thus enable the knowledge encoded in writing to 'stand on its own', ... to become 'knowledge in its own right', rather than words which were intentionally ambiguous so that instead of delivering a finished product, the words would catalyze a shared visualization which employed the experiential materials of the listener (e.g. see Charles Kahn's discussion on 'intentional ambiguity' and linguistic resonance in 'The Art and Thought of Heraclitus').
Ok, ... so you will need to think in 'immersed terms' and your own 'inventing of the understanding', rather than being 'spoon-fed'. In doing this, I will give you words where the encoded information, rather than being in a linear-sequential progression format, ... is instead in a nonlinear 'resonant-layered' format. This is a very natural way to absorb and make sense out of new information which pre-dates our linear analytical mode of communication. That is, we must remember that nature does not give us information in a neat and tidy linear progression, but in a layered sequence of experiences in which our subjectivity is continually evolving, ... but we impose our linear abstract structure on what we see, package up our understanding this way, and deliver it to one another in terse, 'explanatory' texts and other 'explicit knowledge' formats.
In order to get into this 'immersed mode', you will have to remember 'who you are' and go and occupy that 'position' as I continue my story, and I will give you Henri Laborit's model of a biological organism to 'use' for this purpose. Henri's model looks like a living cell. There are two aspects to it, ... an 'inside' and an 'outside' separated by a permeable membrane or interface. The task for the living cell-organism is firstly to sustain an internal equilibrium (if the organism is hungry, its dominant purpose will be to find food), and secondly to sustain an external equilibrium; i.e. an equilibrium with the environment in which the organism is immersed.
Now though I say 'firstly' and 'secondly' with respect to the organism's equilibrium-sustaining priorities, ... I do not mean these in a 'linear-in-time' or 'progression' sense, ... instead, I mean them in a concurrent or 'inclusionary' sense. This is an important geometrical-topological point, ... the same one I often cite from Kepler's 'Harmonia Mundi' on, that the harmony of the multiple parts (planets) is a concurrent (simultaneous) harmony, and this is not a 'sum of the harmonies of the parts' type of order, but an inclusionary order which comes from 'bringing a multitude of motions into harmonic connection.' That is, the 'cell' must juggle its own internal skittles (molecules) even as it juggles the skittles coming in from the immersing environment, ... the skittles giving structural tangibility to the cell, but the tangible skittles represent a lesser thing than the equilibrium 'juggling' process itself (aka 'life').
To get into 'immersed mode', then, you 'are' the 'inner' equilibrium and you are looking out at the outer volume within which you are immersed, ... a volume which is a sea of skittles which are differentiated from your interior skittles only by the manner in which you are juggling them relative to the manner they are being juggled in the immersing environment. You are a virtual thing defined by your juggling skills while your 'cell boundary' is implied by the surface of demarcation which separates, on the one hand, ... the flow of skittle movements induced into ordered coherency by your 'juggling' to sustain your inner equilibrium from the flow of skittle movements induced into ordered coherency by other external attractors. In other words, your cell boundary is not 'discrete' at the skittle (molecular) level, but looks something like the boundary between a vortex and the mainstream flow in a river, determined by the differences in motional ordering patterns.
As you (i.e. you who 'are' the inner equilibrium pursuit) 'look out' from the interior to the immersing exterior, you are aware and are accumulating experience. For lack of better (more competent) words, we might say that you are aware of 'the passage of time'. It's at this point where the west butts heads with the philosophy of the east, ... where the philosophy of the whiteman butts heads with the redman, and it pertains to whether we interpret 'the passage of time' in an 'exclusionary' (linear, progressive) or 'inclusionary' (nonlinear, deepening) sense. In the western way of thinking (and when I say 'western way', I refer only to our acculturated perceptual 'encoding/decoding' which is imposed over top of our natural sensory perceptions), we see time as being 'euclidian'; i.e. as being distinct from space and we interpret 'the passage of time' in terms of the exclusionary replacement of the 'old spatial state' with the 'new spatial state'. In the eastern (Taoist) way of thinking, on the other hand, we interpret space-time as a continuum and 'the passage of time' in terms of an ordered layering of space, ... a deepening of space, ... reminiscent of the deepening of space predicted by the theory of relativity.
As you accumulate experience then, you accumulate it in 'layers' like the geological layers of the earth. Each experience comes from a particularly evolved state of your experientially determined subjectivity so that as the experiential layers build, they deepen your 'geological history' in an 'inclusionary' fashion, ... the innermost layers being 'younger views' of a 'younger environment' and the outermost layers being 'older views' of an 'older environment', ... 'younger' and 'older' being in the sense of an evolved 'deepening' rather than in terms of structural deformation along a chronological line (time-line). This 'deepening' is indeed the structure of our remembering of experience, as discussed by Daniel Schacter in 'Searching for Memory'; i.e. our remembering is an inclusionary melding of our various vintages of life experiences (various vintages of inner self viewing outer environment).
The 'deepening of space' is a 'curved space' notion which cannot be handled by three dimensional euclidian geometry. In other words, quantitative descriptions of three dimensional reality cannot 'get to' the notion of the locally varying 'depth' of space.
Can you 'get to' the feeling of the richness of this inner-outer 'depth-layering' aspect to your experience? ... the feeling that you are still a child and an adolescent even as you are an adult in this moment? .... that this feeling is not the same as if you had undergone a linear progression through different states and were now in a simple and homogeneous 'end-state' of 'adult'? If you were 'only who you were now' in your 'progressed state', could you feel this richness and depth which comes from childhood remembrances, and the remembrances of young love etc? If you were 'programmed with memories' as were the replicants in 'Bladerunner', how would you access the richness which derives from an evolved, inclusionary space-time depth layering?, ... the interplay of inner-and-outer vintages of 'self' and 'other'. No matter how detailed the description of your physico-chemical structural makeup, it remains euclidian and exclusionary and thus too shallow and superficial a medium to 'transport' the inclusionary 'deepening' of immersed experience which evolves 'from the inside' as you respond 'to the outside'.
Relax for a moment in your role as 'inner cell', .... and think back into the depths of the past, ... down through the geological layers of your evolutionary history, ... your trials, your tribulations, your loves, your pleasures, .... think back to the very bottom, ... Or is there a bottom? ... does space-time instead seem to deepen without limit? ... like the detail in the Mandelbrot fractal?, ... as you let yourself go deeper into the more misty geological layering, riding this 'innerness' perhaps you are aware of going into a tunnel, ... the tunnel of your 'delivery outlet', ... a passage back through the zen circle which all must penetrate to enter into their experiential world, ... and where to now?. Is the emergence of yet another sequence of geological layering suggested?, .... as if the 'gingerbread man' of the Mandelbrot set re-emerges again and again as one probes the depth of detail in this fractal pattern. In your skittle-juggling inner-cell dynamical mode, ... can you determine any absolute 'exclusionary' distinction between your 'self' and your ancestors?
Compare this inner-outer 'immersed experience' view of evolution which you have simulated in this thought experiment to our 'voyeur' view of evolution in which 'you' are represented in terms of a system which we now see 'in front of us' (we are no longer 'inside' it), ... in terms of a system which 'progresses' from one state to another along a linear time line. This is the view which is used to capture where our civilization 'is going' in the Harvard astrophysicist's depiction, ... a depiction in which proceed to consume the earth and other planets in order to sustain our civilization, ... it is a view congruent to the view of where the company is going in my friend's depiction of how his son is being 'consumed' to sustain the company, ... and congruent to the view of where the discussion is going in my web-associate's depiction of how our thoughts are being consumed to sustain the discussion.
All of these views are of the progression of a system from one state to another, ... from 'one' to 'another', ... an exclusionary 'what you see is what you get' view of discrete system states wherein the one 'on the right', at a 'later time' or in the present, is 'complete in itself'. In this view, the notion of 'evolutionary depth' and 'inclusion' are discarded, ... and in this 'voyeur view', all system states, while possessing different degrees of structural complicatedness, have but a single layer of evolutionary 'depth' or 'shallowness'. They lack that complexity-giving geological layering which spawns emergent behaviors, ... like the outer air currents of the atmosphere which permeate through into the ocean currents and the ocean currents which permeate into thermal currents in the lithosphere, ... skittle-juggling layers whose boundaries we make discrete attitudinally, by making statements such as 'I know what an atmosphere is' and 'I know what an ocean is'.
All we really know is what we see from 'the inside' looking 'out' into our immersing environmental container. As an infant, we do not initially distinguish ourself from the whole. We invoke 'exclusion', the conversion of the 'implicit' (connected) to the 'explicit' (detached) 'attitudinally' [e.g. see Dienes and Perner, 'A Theory of Implicit and Explicit Knowledge']. First we had 'one thing', a unity, and then we had 'two things' (self and mother) and so on in a 'linear progression', ... or did we? According to Plato in Timaeus, first we saw the motions of the cosmos in which we are immersed, and night and day which gave us numbers, and then philosophy and so on. But numbers, like words, are our personal creation and we can use them however we want to. Just because we can number the days in linear sequence does not mean that each day is separate, ... nor does it mean that each state of a system as it 'progresses' through linear sequence of days is a separate state.
First we have 1
Then we have 2
Then we have 3, .... but what is meant by 1, 2, 3? ... i.e. does each one of these number-states stand on its own? Should the number sequence be an exclusionary linear progression like this?
... Or should we put some 'inclusion' into the sequence, as if we were growing geological layers through the evolutionary progression. In this case, we have layers 1, 2, and 3, but '3' is somehow both '1' and '2' at the same time; i.e. we 'become' age 3 by reinventing ourselves based on a melding of 'who we are' and 'who we were'. In a sense, we pivot off of our own evolutionary history to create our new self; i.e. we use our current experience to change our entire database of experience and this changes our whole self (i.e. our 'whole self' is a resonant 'whole-and-part' self). The sequence 'who we are' (current experience) plus 'who we were' (database of prior enfolded experience) gives the nominal number sequence n+1 = n + (n-1) ... (i.e. our 'becoming' is constituted by our 'being' acting upon who we 'were'). This number sequence is the Fibonacci sequence, the spiral sequence found in all life from the paramecium like tubules in the interior of our neurons to the spiralling 'evolution marks' in sunflowers and ammonites, to the Keplerian evolution of space-time in our planetary system space-time harmonies (R**3 = k*T**2) to the spiralling of the galaxies.
The Fibonacci sequence reflects a continuing 'dialectic' between the 'thing' and its containing environment, ... growth, ... limits to growth, ... transformation, .... growth, ... limits to growth ... etc. This geometry describes not only what is happening in a material sense, but also applies to the experiential sense. 'Being' involves a continuing experiencing (interplay between 'thing' and its container) wherein the 'thing' comes up against 'thresholds' and transcends them by means of co-transformation of itself and its container, ... the continuance of which constitutes 'co-evolution'. This can be seen in terms of a 'deeping' of experience, as implied by the following numerical sequences.
Deepening:__________1____2____3____5____8____13 [(n+1) = n+(n-1)]
This 'Fibonacci deepening' wherein our experience does not just 'grow linearly' but becomes co-transformative can be seen in the interactions between groupmember and group after spending several days together, ... typically the whole-and-part relationship between groupmember and group transforms after two to three days. In the material domain, we speak of 'rainwater' as water which hits the ground, but after three days of rain, 'what we call 'ground' and what we call 'rainwater' may blur (co-evolve).
While we tend to focus in on 'things' in their own right once we define them, it is clear that 'things' are implicit features of the whole which we make 'explicit' attitudinally. When we define them as 'things', we have in mind 'things' which have a given (implied) relationship to their environmental container, .... however, over time, the activities of the 'thing' may actually change the nature of the container and its relationship to the container which we used to define the thing in the first place, meanwhile we persist in calling the thing by the same name, and speak in separate terms of the environment as having changed. In fact, ... the 'thing' and its environmental container are innately and inexorably bound together, and we cannot ignore the reciprocal relationship between the two simply because we have attitudinally decided to make the 'thing' explicit and give it a fixed label. In this context 'civilization', 'company' and 'discussion issue' all draw meaning from their environmental container, .... 'nature/earth', 'host community', 'discussion group', respectively, ... and the evolution of the former cannot be detached from the evolution of the latter (i.e. they 'co-evolve'). To think of the former out of the context of their defining container is to 'drift off' on an abstraction, ... to drop anchor, non-relativistically, on our own abstractions. This is madness. This is the madness of the western world.
So, in this inner-outer evolutionary inclusion model, ... this curved space experience-deepening model, we are not just 'who we are' but we are instead a continuous enfolding of 'who we are' with 'who we were', an enfolding which is innately bound up with our containing environment. This is where our sense of the richness of our experiencing of life comes from.
But our culture tries to teach us that we are simply 'who we currently are', ... the current end-state of a linear time progression. But if we take this non-relativistic cultural message literally, ... if we come to believe that we are defined by our current state, we will lose the feeling of richness and depth of living, and develop a feeling about ourselves that has a tinny and hollow ring to it, ... a static shallowness rather than a living depth. Like the friend of my Abenaki friend in Bar des Pins, who allowed himself to be defined by the power and status of his position, ... who stepped off of his 'grounding' in the endless depth of his evolutionary 'layering' and onto the shallow and transient abstract platform of currently defined structure,.... so that when the job disappeared, so did his grounding and he now finds himself on the verge of suicide.
'Become a success' ... the bad advice all around us keeps informing us, ... 'you too can 'climb the ladder' of success'. See what our superbly gifted civilization can do? ... it can keep moving onward and upward, ... with modern technology we can finish our strip-mining of the earth and move on to colonize other planets, as the astrophysicist says. But what or who exactly are we strip-mining if we are an evolutionary enfoldment of our own environment? If we are like 'el nino' who floats across the attitudinally defined boundaries of atmosphere, oceanosphere, lithosphere, imprinting itself in each new layer as it forms? What or who exactly are our companies strip-mining if they are an enfoldment of their own environment? Is sustaining the linear progression of their 'current state', ... out of the context of their evolutionary historical layering, ... a sane and coherent pursuit? .... or is it incoherent and insane?
And we discuss and share ideas, ... what exactly do our discussions strip-mine if they are an enfoldment of their own containing thought-space? Is sustaining the linear progression of the 'current state' of a discussion, ... out of the context of its evolutionary historical layering, ... a sane and coherent pursuit? ... or is it incoherent and insane? Do participating 'people' and the natural evolution of consciousness figure in discussion or is discussion something which stands fully defined 'in its own right'. In other words, should we put ideas in the primacy over thinkers and thought-sharing? Is knowledge the ends and thinking the means? or is thinking the ends and knowledge the means? Is this not an important question for our educational system?
We know the current answers to these questions and we are troubled by them, ... that the linear progression of our 'civilization' is seen in the exclusionary terms of its current state and by some process we do not understand, we would have it consume its own evolutionary substrates, its peoples, to 'sustain its progress', ... the linear progression of the 'company' is seen in the exclusionary terms of its current state and by some process we do not understand, we would have it consume its own evolutionary substrates, its workers, to 'sustain its progress', ... and the linear progression of 'knowledge' is seen in the exclusionary terms of its current state and by some process we do not understand, we would have it consume its own evolutionary substrates, its thinkers, to 'sustain its progress'. In today's culture, ... we would put the shallow, abstract ahistorical definitions of civilization, company and knowledge in a primacy over the deep historical lifeforms from which these abstract entities derive their meaning.
All of this has a hollow and unnatural 'ring' to it. We are voyeuristically watching our own self-consumption as if on a screen 'out there' in front of us. Mesmerized by the unreality of the story which is playing out before our eyes even as we are perpetrating it. We are investing everything in the notion of shallow, linear progressions, exclusionary end-states which deny the deep inclusionary nature of our reality. We are increasingly seeing reality in the flatspace terms of 'out there' and de-tuning from the richness of the space-time continuum, which is infused with the lingering presence of our ancestors and our former selves.
Like a lizard on a sun-warming rock, it is high time to get off the flatspace surface of our lives before we are incinerated by our own passivity, ... and dive back down and in to our immersed and involved responsibility. Life is not something 'out there' defined by our abstract terms and structures. We are immersed in life, ... we are life and it is us.
When we are no longer feeling the richness of our experience as we did in our childhood, we are 'out of our depth sensing mode', .. out of our natural, immersed mode of perception and experience and the longer we stay out, the more difficult it will be to 're-tune in' to this natural mode. The ground of 'rationality' is flatspace ground which does not have the inclusionary depth to re-engender and nurture the immersed mode, ... the ground of rationality is sterile and therefore toxic ground to the cultivation of immersed mode experiencing.
The western combination of 'faith and rationality', 'Fides et Ratio' has an Achilles heel, ... if one keeps the faith, one can continue to access 'immersed mode', ... but if one loses the faith, 'immersed inner-outer perception' cannot spring forth from dry ground of rationality, since rationality is a special case of curved space inner-outer relationality, ... the case where the connective inductance between container and content goes to zero, ... the case where there are just 'things' and 'void' and the 'things' are purposeless abstractions, entities which exist 'in their own right', no longer 'part of the whole'.
When our perception of civilization, organization and knowledge comes solely from abstract structural definition and loses its evolutionary-history-endowed depth-layered meaning, we who live inside of these hollow shells of abstraction can find meaning only in our abstract identities and we lose the grounding which comes from 'knowing' who we were as children and who we were before that, in an ancestral sense, in the sense of evolutionary space-time, .... of a relationally deepening content-and-container.
That denial of evolutionary depth is what is ringing in my ears these days, in the unnatural and 'hollow' sound of astrophysicist presentations on the supremacy of rationality over the cosmos, ... in CEO statements on company 'health' on the supremacy of financial muscle over consciousness, ... and in academic insistence on the supremacy of rationality over relationality in group dialogue. In my ears, a tinny dissonance and in my nose, the smell of burning lizard and boiling frog.
Bring on the warriors of immersion, and bring them on quickly, ... but don't hold your breath looking for them 'out there' on the horizon, because they are 'in here', snoring inside of us.
* * *
Dallas, August 1, 1999
From the suggestion in the 'Out of our depth' essay, that our 'rationality', based on Euclidian space and linear time gives a very unnatural, 'tinny' and hollow depiction of reality, the question arises as to 'what is missing'?... what is in the 'relational' experiencing of reality, the experiencing from 'inside' as if riding on a photon, ... on the expanding wavefront of the present, ... which is not in the rationalist depiction?
From the immersed, relativistic viewpoint, we are, like 'el nino', part of a continuing story, ... we ARE our evolutionary history rather than 'objects in our own right'. The following 'anecdotal snippet' provides a view of the continuing cultural transformation underway in our society, ... from relational and relativistic perception to rational and non-relativistic perception. The story is told by a 'child of the forties', reflecting on her dialogue (yesterday) with a 'child of the seventies' university student;
" .... there was a time, when kids REALLY debated things, ... in the sixties and early seventies, it MATTERED to us what we thought, what we 'were' and what this society should 'be' and 'become' - I asked him, what do students talk about? the future? the world? ... what it means to be who they are at this time in this country - what their parents' and grandparents' lives meant? where is this all going? ... 'No', he says, 'are you nuts.' NOBODY talks about such things - they discuss nothing, he says, and do not want to think - there is only getting the degree for a job, and the accumulation of 'things' and what 'things' they want and how best to 'get them', and 'where'. They function completely, the whole campus, he says, in means-mode. There is of course also no leadership - nobody challenges them, nobody discusses their development, their history as SPEAKERS for their ethnic and language traditions - who are they? ... what have they become? nobody - a lost culture, a culture shamed. ... ... as Taiaiake Alfred says, we have a responsibility not only to the future, but to the dreams of our forefathers too - so that we cannot simply exist as an abstract entity - but now, these children grew up without stories, ... as the student says, the 'history' that they know of, is the history that was written in newspapers 'that made us into people we do not want to be' - and besides, "people do not 'talk' and tell stories any more - there is TV and movies now." and so they are COMPLETELY alienated, not in the sense of rejecting the negative or wanting to redefine what they are, but in discarding the very NOTION of themselves as beings with layers from an evolutionary past. It's as if they just exist in flatspace and time that has no meaning. they are literally 'flapping in the wind'."
This statement 'on' and 'by' youth, documents the cultural shift in our view of self from the ethnic and familial 'relational' view, ... to the 'rational' view, ... a 'stand-alone' view of 'self in its own right' (out of the context of co-evolution with its environmental container), ... and this story also describes the shift from the sourcing of that view of self, which was formerly by 'immersed' and relativistic 'story-telling' by 'insiders' within the layers of family, community, geography, ... to a sourcing which is increasingly emanating from 'voyeur' reporting by 'outsider' observers, global voyeurs who have no sense of the 'quality' coming from the immersed space-time layering of experience, ... 'outsider' observers who are 'parasites of the visible'.
So an answer to the question of 'what's missing' from the 'rational' view of the world, in the terms of 'geometry and experience', falls out fairly simply from the concept of 'relativity'. The rational view is 'non-relativistic' since it considers our subjectivity to be 'fixed' while the relational view is 'relativistic' and allows subjectivity to vary in time, in co-evolution with the objective world it is perceiving and interacting with. In relativistic, relational perception, we 'ride the photon', a light beam or travelling front of the present, as Einstein did in his thought experiments which triggered his insight on relativity.
Riding on a photon puts us in 'immersed' mode rather than the 'voyeur' mode of euclidian space and linear time. In immersed mode, we get a worm's eye view of 'evolutionary' context, ... a view relative to the space-time enfolding of ourself and our container, a deepening of 'inner-outer' nesting of spheres within spheres.). This view contrasts with the rational 'voyeur' mode of perception, where we perceive the world as if it were on a movie screen 'out there' in front of us. For example, imagine if you were studying the evolution of a team as an external 'voyeur' observer, rather than as an internal, evolving participant in its evolution. As you studied the team from the outside, you would be observing from a fixed subjectivity and seeing the team 'progress' from state 'A' at time 'T1' to state 'B' at time T2' in terms of its changing 'parts' and their behaviors, but you could not feel what it was like to be 'inside' the system; i.e. you could not sense the internal qualities of the 'parts' as they were transformed by the evolutionary process (e.g. by learning), ... you could not, for example, sense the 'deepening' subjectivity and experience of the team and its members.
But were you immersed in the evolving team, your capability for understanding the internal quality changes, as a result of internal interactions (e.g. amongst you and your teammates), would be part of your experience. From your relativistic 'riding the photon' position, within the 'learning experience', you would initially be looking out around you with one set of eyes, and after some 'passage of time', your vision would 'deepen' and you would see everything more profoundly, ... and after more time still, your vision would deepen further and you would see things even more profoundly. In essence, your experience and understanding would be evolving in a 'geological layering' fashion, and when you access it, as Vygotsky, Schacter et al point out, ... you access multiple enfolded layers at the same time (each layer representing a different subjectivity and different view of the objective world), and understand them by bringing them into connection in your mind (a natural, non-rational, inclusionary mode of visualization).
Internal experiential deepening, the inner-outer layering within the system and its components appears to be an innately qualitative aspect of a system which cannot be explained in terms of a voyeur view of parts and their behaviors. Do we really believe that an external observer can fully describe the team experience? Do we really believe that our identities as individuals or communities can be fully described by a global news service? If we 'believe what we read in the newspapers', and our sense of 'self' and 'community' is coming from these external reports rather than from the 'insider stories' of our family members and friends, we are putting the unnatural and shallow 'rational' view in the primacy over the natural and deep 'relational' view.
How does space-time enfolding lead to a 'deepening' of our experience? We can talk about the fact that the inner structure of cells reflects the inner-outer complexification of historical evolution, ... the eukaryotes 'swallowing' the prokaryotes, in an inner-outer, sphere-within-sphere sense, so that the prokaryotes now play the role of functions (organelles) within the 'deepened' structure. We can talk about the fact that in this evolutionary, system-complexifying enfolding, the geometry of the paramecium is now enfolded within our neural structures, and that the geometry of the single-celled tetrahymena has been enfolded within the peptide structures in our 'psycho-somatic network', but when we use voyeur or 'rationalist' language to 'talk about it', it doesn't necessarily invoke the 'feeling' of an ongoing evolutionary connection with our container, i.e. 'nature'. One has to allow oneself to go into 'immersed mode' to experience this evolutionary 'connectedness'. Without 'tuning -in' to the meaning given by relational enfoldment, there is simply the stand-alone abstraction of euclidian structure, devoid of ongoing space-time harmony.
The approach of Candace Pert, biochemist and author of 'Molecules of Emotion', is 'dramaticized', and her quotes (verbatim from her book) are used in the following paragraph, ... as she tries in preparing one of her lectures, to bring her audience into the 'immersed' mode of perception;
'She mused about how she would finish her paradigm-breaking presentation, .... she would have to allow the warmth that was always in her heart to flow through her voice and words, modulating the acute precision of her scientific thought and articulation. Her mind drifted into how she might accomplish this; "... I'd like to conclude my presentation with my final slide, that of a single-celled animal, the tetrahymena. This is a creature so widely studied in basic science laboratories that it has earned the title of 'the workhorse of biology". What is truly amazing is that this primitive unicellular animal makes many of the same peptides, including insulin and the endorphins , that we humans do. On its surface are receptors just like the ones in our brains. These same basic building blocks are found in the earliest and simplest forms of life as well as in the most complex ones. Think about what it means that the same basic informational network found in the tetrahymena is still to be found in us."
Once her audience was brought into this 'spatially connective' frame of mind, she would go into the heart of her discovery by showing her slide sequence, a view of evolution in the making, with biochemical and physical processes revealed in full frontal exposure, .... a living textbook on the origin and nature of homosapiens with implications on all natural forms of life. And then, in her closing, she would share with them the Zen-like imagery which brought the joy of living flooding into her own heart and life. She knew that this sharing could only be conveyed by latencies which enveloped her words and she knew that when the time came, she must allow her words to orchestrate themselves, but she continued to imagine how they might come out;
".... to me, this is a stunning demonstration of the unity of all life. As humans, we share a common living heritage in the form of molecular organisms constituted by the most modest and oldest of microscopic creatures, which enable us to become strands on an all-connecting, unifying web, the web of the psychosomatic collective we call nature."
If we 'get inside' our own evolutionary story, as Candace Pert intends us to do, ... then we will 'feel' the depth of the enfolded space-time layering of this evolutionary system, ... which, in bringing out our 'el-nino-like' becoming, connects us with both past and future. We could, of course, simply look at the interior physico-chemical structure of our bodies in a 'rational' sense, ... a 'euclidian' sense where 'things are simply things' and are detached from 'time'. That is, we could look at ourselves from the perspective of detached 'voyeur' observers, ... as the students did in the above example, ... in terms of material structures having some innate capabilities, ... as 'capable objects in their own right'. Starting from this rationalist view, we detach ourselves from the continuing flow of evolutionary history, and think in terms of exploiting our capabilities. In this mode, there are no natural environment-interwoven 'ends', no 'purpose', only the efficient exploitation of capabilities as 'means'.
We can get a look at how this connectedness and deepening of reality, associated with immersed, relativistic perception, occurs, by looking at the Fibonacci and fractal structure of nature.
When we look at the evolution of systems from the outside, we think in terms of their structural 'complicatedness' or intricacy, rather than the 'deepening' of their qualities. Some insights into 'deepening' come from the notion of 'implicit' versus 'explicit', ... for example, first we see an 'implicit geometry', ... for example the notion of a 'window'. According to our environmentally pulled needs, we may render this 'implicit' notion in 'explicit' ways; that is, we can 'breed' numerous explicit offspring from one 'implicit' pattern. We can put a 'window' in a package of macaroni, and put the package into a cupboard with a glass 'window' so that we have a window-within-window, giving us a 'permeable' view of contents. Similarly, we can explicitly breed the implicit notions of 'wheel', 'axle', 'ceiling', 'floor', 'box', 'edge' and thousands of others so that we spawn and intermingle explicit renderings of these implicit geometries.
We could say that things have an 'implicit' geometrical or functional aspect, as well as an explicit, structural rendering. In other words they have a 'real' AND an 'imaginary' aspect. Furthermore, as we come upon new situations in our immersed mode, we can associate an explicit/implicit thing with a new ensemble of things and come up with new explicit renderings based on new arrangements of the implicit geometries and a new medium of explicit rendering. In mathematical terms, if we call the explicit aspect 'x' and the implicit aspect 'm', a particular explicit object has the complex variable structure z = (x + i*m). As we recursively re-associate objects with one another, we come up with new explicit renderings and this gives us a fractal mathematical picture very much like the one used to generate the Mandelbrot set (z --> z*z + c).
In addition, the 'deepening' of the system we are immersed in comes from letting our subjectivity relativistically update and this leads to a Fibonacci type of spiraling geometry. This can be seen in the 'breeding' of 'explicit' renderings from 'implicit' offspring, similar to the picture presented in terms of rabbits by Leonardo of Pisa in 1220 (Leonardo being referred to as 'Fibonacci') [see Ian Stewart, 'Does God Play Dice']. What this shows is that the 'deepening' which goes beyond the linear changes seen externally in voyeur mode with 'fixed subjectivity', ... comes from the immersed mode experiential layering, .... the experiencing of changes in our subjectivity, i.e. from 'learning'.
[(n+1) = n+(n-1)]
The implicit axis is the axis of 'immature' or 'implicit' notions, ... notions which have not yet been explicitly rendered. After one time interval, we come up with an explicit rendering and this rendering, when reconciled with the containing environment, spawns another implicit notion. Each explicit idea begets a new implicit idea which after one time interval is rendered explicitly. After the sequence gets going, by the maturing (to explicit state' of two successive implicit ideas, the evolutionary chain grows and inter-spirals exponentially. That is, each time we have an implicit idea and use it (make it explicit), it changes our containing environment and breeds yet another implicit idea (changes our subjectivity or induces 'learning'). But the old explicit ideas live on as well, so that our experience deepens in a nonlinear manner. The 'deepening' is the sum of the implicit and explicit 'inter-breeding'.
The external 'voyeur' or 'rationalist' view cannot 'see' (or 'feel') this 'deepening' since it is a function of the internal, ontogenetic 'layering' of our experience, ... the experiencing of the enfolding of the implicit and explicit;.. i.e. of 'evolutionary harmonics'. Since the 'implicit' is 'imaginary', we cannot rationally visualize 'complex' structure which emerges from a game of leap-frog between our imagination and the tangible structure of our reality, but it is clear that we can 'think it' in the relativistic manner described by Einstein in his essay 'Geometry and Experience'; i.e. by 'bringing a multitude of real and imaginary experiences into connection in the mind.'
Who then do we lean on for portraying 'who we are'? .... the rationalist voyeur depictions of newspapers?, ... of CNN?, ... 'parasite of the visible' views which are 'real and structural only' and devoid of the 'deepening effects' of evolutionary harmonics?, ...... or insider stories based on 'immersed mode' experiences? which include the relativistic 'deepening' effects of evolutionary harmonics? The voyeur portrayal is unexciting, .... we do not 'discover things' as in immersed mode where our changing subjectivity gives us new 'eyes' to see with, ... instead, we look out at the world and simply describe it from a fixed subjectivity. The voyeur portrayal does not put us 'in-line' with our own unfolding ontogeny, but detaches us from our natural reality.
My purpose in this epilogue is not to 'put down' youth for 'not caring' about their evolutionary history. It is not intended to put anyone down. But it is to 'put down' the inverted process in our western culture, a culture which now dominates the world, of 'colonizing the minds' of our youth with rational-over-relational values, ... of forcing them to 'climb the western-designed 'ladder of success', a progression which nourishes and amplifies rational intelligence as it suppresses and starves out relational intelligence', .... or have them suffer the withdrawal of societal esteem, privileges and resources, and the love and affection of family and friends.
My purpose, instead, echoes that of Taiaiake Alfred, to point out the dysfunction in our 'rational-over-relational' cultural paradigm, ... to the need for new leaders and the putting-in-place of a new leadership ethos grounded in tradition (grounded in 'immersed mode' experience). "We must become educated both in the ways of our ancestors (harmonious and dissonant) and in the new knowledge and skills required to carry our communities forward. And, most urgently, we must begin to re-create a place of honour and respect within our societies for young people."
* * *
Return to '98/'99 Update Page and Index of Essays