Floundering in Complexity

Montreal, May 12, 1999


Zeus: ... well, ... was it really like buying vegetables in a Saint Hubert market as Pierre had suggested?

Emile: Not at all, ... but I knew that that was simply Pierre's way of giving me encouragement . It fact, it was truly bizarre, trying to give a talk which tied together my goals in youth education with 'community as complex systems' and Y2K, ... something I'd never even attempted before in english, ... and without hardly being able to understand the questions which the group was posing to me.

Zeus: ... but I sensed that, in the end, ... you enjoyed it anyhow.

Emile: .... you guessed right, Zeus, but even more than that, I learned a lot from it, and I learned in a way that I hadn't expected to learn.

Zeus: ... yes, unlike our splitting apart of 'teaching' and 'learning', the dipolarity of the french 'apprendre', ... , meaning 'to acquire understanding or to inform someone else on how something works', ... seems a much more 'sensible' way to 'package' the description of such experiences. But what exactly did you learn that you hadn't anticipated?

Emile: ... I felt like I understood the joint and simultaneous meaning of relativity and quantum physics at the deep gut level for the first time.

Zeus: .... not quite your vegetable market experience, then! Tell me more.

Emile: ... well, you know I was scrambling for words and phrases to convey what was in my head, and I didn't even have any bullets jotted down on a piece of paper as I normally used to during presentations, ... so I leaned very hard on the white board, and trying to draw what was in my mind's eye, ... and this is where a kind of deep inner understanding of what I have been talking about for quite some time began to immerge in me, ... stimulated by my struggle to convey these ideas. A distinctly informative feeling came to me in explaining the 'voyeur' and 'immersed' modes of perception, and as the group offered me a word or two to fill in the blanks, .... 'barriere', for 'problem' in the case of my stick man who views 'community as complex system' or 'life' as a serial obstacle course which is 'out there' in front of him, ... an apparent linear progression of mutually independent problems or challenges for him to knock off one a time. And that feeling grew stronger as we jointly developed other terms which helped me to describe the alternative view of 'community as complex system', wherein one is immersed in 'it', ... in a sea of trouble and challenge, and must learn how to navigate such complexity.

Zeus: I too, liked the stress you put on the diagrams, instead of using a complicated stream of technical words and terms, which of course you totally lacked in this case. There was an strong interplay between your simply geometric word-based discussion and the simple, yet deep-linked metaphor provoked by the diagrams.

Emile: ... that's exactly what I felt, ... and when I said, ... my goal with respect to youth education is to hopefully help them to feel 'moins impuissant', ... 'less helpless', ... or 'plus puissant', ... more empowered, as the case may be, ... it suddenly occurred to me exactly what it was that I had been struggling with every time I read another essay on Kosovo or Y2K, and that was that in trying to assimilate everyone's 'causal' arguments, ... I was inheriting a heavy burden of things I had to understand relative to how to attack and resolve the specific problem causally. In other words, ... I was being made 'moins puissant' by the flood of explicit knowledge coming to me, and there were so many problems out there that this was piling up into a bigger and bigger burden as more information kept streaming in, ... and having to retain all of that, and remember the cast of characters and who I should be mad at or friendly towards, was beginning to torture and confuse my brain and make me feel as if was going to have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time.

Zeus: ... and what was the punch line?

Emile: ... in looking out at the group, ... and in saying, ... 'if Y2K brings on a 'grand echec', ... a real big collapse of the system, ... and nobody can predict what will happen, ... you can either sit on your hoard of supplies' waiting for 'those responsible' to repair the hierarchical systems, or you can begin thinking and acting ecologically, ... as in the Laborit 'spheres englobing spheres' medieval community diagram I had drawn, .... in saying this, it hit me that what we really want, when all is said and done, is to know how we ourselves should 'move', ... to feel tacitly empowed to act in a relevant and appropriate manner, ... in a harmonious manner relative to ourselves, family, friends, nature, .. the whole ensemble, ... like the 'fish' in the reef ecology. It was my feeling that these people, ... all female but one, ... neither wanted to become 'experts' in problems, nor climb the hierarchical ladders of society or business to 'do it better', ... they simply wanted to be tacitly empowered to navigate complexity and to help their children and others around them navigate complexity, .... a need which is in all of us, ... and when we are 'in the know', ... gives us the aspect of being one in harmony with the whole, as a fish within a school of fish or bird within a flock of birds, moving purposively and independently yet neither predictably nor mechanically.

And Zeus, there was an incredible 'lifting' and lightness of feeling in thinking about being able how to 'navigate complexity' as sleekly and deftly as a fish, as opposed to becoming a Medusan knowledge repository. Tacit knowledge, knowledge which is assimilated in terms of the co-resonant responses one needs to make, ... is so much more 'puissant' than 'the learning of many things which teaches not understanding', a misconception which Heraclitus accused Pythagorus and Hesiod of being prone to.

Zeus: ... your pronouncing of 'pissant' reminds me how I feel every time my mind is invaded by the media and those approaches around us which strive to educate us in particular problems on an issue by issue basis, explaining each one in a narrowly 'causal' manner, and 'causal' amounts to judgemental since the approach ties 'good' and 'bad' outcomes to their 'responsible' causal agents. Meanwhile, ... what we truly seek and need is to invert this information ordering schema so that it is relative to us, ... so that it speaks directly to our comportement, ... as opposed to giving us a disjointed, multi-problem orientation.

Emile: ... exactly, ... and what I was trying to say to Madame Lemieux, in the restaurant afterwards, ... was that when we learn about each problem in its own right, ... there is no way to preserve the relational interference effects between the problems, ... Kosovo, the global economy-casino, the Y2K dependency on hierarchical-logical systems, youth suicide, zombied-out establishment leaders, ... and so on, ... and that what we are looking at there, is our own precluding of ourselves from a quantum wave view, wherein we preserve, not discard, the 'inter-problem' or 'intermogular' relational interference information. For without that information, we are unable to allow our subjectivity on these issues, ... which we know is biased by our personal and ethnic experience, to 'float' and evolve harmoniously. In other words, ... what we want to be garnering in our perception and inquiry is a tacit understanding of how to move through our multi-problem living space, and like the mogul skier, we need a tacit understanding of not only how problems are relationally interfering amongst themselves, but how they interfere with us and us with them in our relative space-time trajectories, .... a tacit understanding which informs us as to how we should respond.

Zeus: ... Let me get this right, Emile, .... you are saying several things at the same time here, ... the 'driving thought' seems to be that what we really want to do is to 'navigate complexity' as smoothly and safely as a flounder navigates rocks, predators, prey and various other mogular subsystems along the rocky bottom of his reefal domicile, .... and in order to get into the 'immersed' frame of mind, ... to access the needed tacit understanding of how to so move, ... one must, as Einstein said, bring a multitude of real and imaginary experiences, relevant to the problem-issues etc., into connection in the mind, to get the relativistic 'curved-space', 'fish-eye' view of things.

Emile: Yes, and I like your choice of 'flounder' as an example, ... when I was a kid on the Pacific coast, I used to love chasing baby flounders in the shallows when the tide went out, and if you could catch up to them, ... they would simply vanish and you would have to drop down and very carefully scan the bottom sand for sign of them, ... and it took your eye a lot of training before you could ever differentiate them from the sandy bottom. Their relationship with their environment was as harmonious in their non-action as it was in their action.

Zeus: ... which seems to raise a question as to the origin of the verb 'to flounder', ...perhaps the person who originated that expression could think only in the binary terms of 'fight or flight', and not in the possibility of being reborn into a new story. Be that as it may, ... I think we are together in this understanding, ... but now I have a burning question, and it is, .... why can we not, as a culture, acknowledge the need and advantage to go into this 'immersion' mode, ... where relativity and quantum wave effects are simultaneously honoured?

Emile: We do in fact go into this mode when we are children at play, or in our more intimate situations, but in the more formally organized culture, as adults, it seems we can only 'get into it' if we have the good fortune to become part of a 'high performance' team, but the latter usually requires some special condition which allows you to break all the rules of the culture, a culture which does everything hierarchically and allocates implicit if not explicit rule-policing power to each level of the hierarchy. For example, in Apollo 13, the whole operation flipped from 'voyeur' causal mode to 'immersed' purposive mode in the wake of the explosion in the command module, and this would have been impossible without suspending all those rule-policing powers.

Do you remember when the rocket thruster engineer from Grumman insists to the mission team leader, that the lunar module thrusters were not designed to be fired in open space, ... a necessary action to get the astronauts safely through atmospheric re-entry and back to terra firma? ... and the mission leader says; 'I don't give a damn what ANYTHING was designed for, ... what I give a damn about is what it is capable of [relative to the team purpose] in getting everyone safely home'. Such differences crop up all the time in the political cause-versus-purpose battles in hierarchical organizations, ... but in this case, the mission leader and the Grumman engineer were justified in using their 'imagination', right? ... and what they both could see without even dwelling on it one microsecond was tomorrow's headlines; "Astronauts die in space as Grumman engineer refuses to assist modified firing of lunar module thrusters".

Zeus: ... yes, that was a kind of 'archetypical' scene, which heralded the inversion of the system from causal or 'mogular', over to purposive or 'intermogular' mode, and if I'm hearing you right, you're saying that the answer to my question, about our culture's recalcitrance in embracing purpose, is that one must abandon the hierarchical rule-based ordering principles and leap over the chasm into the embrace of imagination and intuition.

Emile: .... that's exactly right, Zeus, and you can see that leap does not involve 'losing' anything but instead, upgrades the experience into an inclusionary, enlarged and 'englobing' sphere which effectively swallows the smaller causal sphere, ... we retain all of the hierarchical knowledge and expertise etc. but we're no longer using it as the primary 'ordering' schema, and there's a very good reason for that. It is that the perspectives of the 'rule-police' in our specialized hierarchical systems or 'disciplines', ... have become narrower and narrower in proportion to the intensification of their expertise. This has to happen because there is at the same time an explosion of specialties and similar intensification of knowledge requirements and expertise within the growing number of specialty hierarchies. This continuing evolution of 'the division of labour' means that we can no longer afford to plug independent perspectives, via hierarchical rule-police, into the ordering schema used for navigating in complex environments, and instead, ... it becomes imperative for us to shift into 'immersed' team-based mode.

And the fact that we are resisting the re-embrace of imagination, ... a necessary condition for flipping from cause to purpose, ... is what is giving us fits, as Henri Laborit says towards the close of his essay 'The biological basis for social behaviors', ... "We are therefore witnessing, currently, the reign and the dominance of the technocrat and the bureacrat [rule-police experts in technical and political hierarchies] who have a strictly professional level of understanding, in disciplines which are becoming narrower and narrower, ... and who believe, in total ignorance of how their own biological processes motivate them into action, that their little 'thing', their social subsystem, is 'it', ... is all that needs be considered."

Zeus: ... so the re-embrace of the imaginary, ... banned by science for use in our organisational and reasoning schemata since about 500 BC, is what you are saying is what holds us back from acknowledging the need and advantage to go into this 'immersion' mode, ... where relativity and quantum wave effects are simultaneously honoured.

Emile: Yes, the Apollo - Grumman engineer situation captures the general geometry rather well; ... the mission leader and the team are looking for 'exploitable interference effects' and come up with the idea that the lunar module can be used instead of the command module, for navigation and thruster power for the re-entry. The rocket engineer, would normally destroy relational interference ideas through his 'rule-policing' actions and his insisting on staying within design specifications. Normally he stops right there, ... his subjectivity is fixed by his engineering professionalism, 'how we do things around here', and his perception of the problem is a 'voyeur' perception of a project being executed 'out there', ... being managed by wire, if you like. There is no place for imagination in this mode of operation, everything is done by tangible-causal reasoning and imposed structure.

Now, it's the mission team leader, in the Apollo 13 saga, who brings in ....

Zeus: Imagination! ... he brings in imagination in implicitly provoking the imagery of the engineer's actions as leading either to a future picture of three dead astronauts and a depressed humanity, ... or three alive and healthy astronauts and a happy humanity. And that imagination forces the engineer to 'loosen' his own subjectivity in a relativistic sense, ... to allow his 'identity' to evolve from its professional definition so as to resume a human and nature oriented aspect, in an 'inclusionary' rather than 'exclusionary' fashion. And of course, this imaginary imagery is what jolts him out of the 'voyeur' view of the project, into the 'immersed view', ... or as one of the exceptional team leaders you once interviewed said, ... it 'converts him from a chicken to a pig', alluding to the difference between contributing to breakfast by a handed-off product versus a strip of your own flesh.

Emile: Yes, ... imagination can be a virtue or a curse, but it is indeed what enables the 'immersed' perspective, ... and puts an active image our ourselves back into our own viewfield. When the engineer sees the imagery of the media flocking around him, thrusting microphones at him and saying, .... tell us again sir, ... why you refused to modify the LEM thruster sequence knowing that this would leave the astronauts to suffocate and freeze to death in space?, .... their children and wives are asking, ... the whole world is asking.

Zeus: Imagination-based purpose and immersed or 'intermogular' perspective certainly have a way of putting your 'skin' back in the game, that's for sure, ... and the pig's standing clearly gains some ground at the chicken's expense as the team flounders around for workable solutions. But Emile, can we explore in a bit more depth, how science has stripped out imagination and is thus denying us the immersed perspective we need for a relativistic and wave view of the world, two things which it seems are mutually enabling.

Emile: I am at a loss at where to begin, perhaps because this takes us inside a curved self-referential geometry which has no 'nucleus', ... no 'center' nor does it have a natural 'beginning' or 'end', ..... but perhaps we can start with the concept of honesty- ... honesty seen in the contrasting light of being either with or without imagination, and examine how the scientific precepts of our culture come into play here.

The acceptance of the exclusionary logic of science as the prime communications currency of our culture is at the origin of the aboriginal's accusations that 'white man speaks with forked tongue'. As aboriginals are wont to say, .. in the white man's world, "the path to failure is paved with the truth", and there seems to be little argument amongst us white folk, offline from public speech-making, as to the inherent accuracy of this remark, .... not in the sense of 'failure' as a person, but in the sense of failure in climbing the business, political and social hierarchies.

The point the aboriginal is trying to make here is not that the western white man is a liar, ... that's not what 'forked tongue implies', ... what it implies is that he says one thing and does something which is, in its practical effect, strongly contradictory, ... in other words his statements, while true in an abstract logical sense, turn out to be 'slippery' or deceptively ambiguous. In fact, if we want to refer back to the 'twenty pound theorem from ten pound axiom' exposure in logical systems, commented on by Gregory Chaitin, ... we can say, more accurately, that the scientific style truth that the white man speaks is innately 'incomplete'. Exclusionary logic and causality, the philosophical basis of traditional science and the basis for assessing 'truth' or 'falsehood' in the West, are incomplete in the sense that they deal only with the 'tangible behaviors of things', ... which leaves a huge and gaping hole, ... and that hole is the 'non-behavior of things' or the inter-thing space-time dynamics which are the primary shaper of our social reality, just as the environmental dynamics of nature are a bigger story than the specific actions of its phenotypical constituents. As the minorities say, 'white supremacy' happens by winks, nods, double entendres etc., ... it happens via the domain of the 'imaginary' which, while used to manipulative advantage, is ruled 'out of bounds' for purposes of 'reasoning' by the western hierarchical rule-police, and must give way to the 'logical-causal' as the dominant basis for argument and justice in the west. This sets up an environment wherein intentional and coordinated non-behaviors, such as withholding of resources, ... turning a blind eye to third party abuse of a competitor, and many other instances of detaching oneself from tangible linkage to evolutionary consequence, flourish with impunity because they cannot be addressed by exclusionary logic or causality.

Zeus: I see exactly what you are saying. Yesterday, I was reading an essay written by a person working in the field of international relations and he was observing that; "The U.S. is still a dominant player on the world stage, but our approach to international conflict is wrong. We have been preaching human rights and at the same exporting millions of tons of horrible weapons of mass death and destruction into unstable regions of the world. Weapons and soldiers don't promote human rights; they take them away. These actions therefore raise hell with our credibility around the world. Citizens and officials of many other countries believe that our government speaks with forked tongue. ... A career politician who concentrates on saying only what folks want to hear must speak with forked tongue."

Emile: Yes, ... one of many examples of logical or scientific detachment from evolutionary consequence, ... and detachment such as this derives from the cultural illegitimacy of our use of imagination, ... at least in formal public situations, ... what is said in the back room is likely to be more of the ilk of Pres. Wilson's comment, ... 'They may be bastards, but they're our bastards'. Even then, loyalty is not known to be a strong point amongst bastards, as history has indeed shown us.

But at any rate, the point here is that ... 'what is not said and what is not done also happens', ... and it is beyond the jurisdiction of the laws of causality, and the laws of the culture, which are themselves based on the same logical-causal, scientific principles.

Through this dynamic duo of non-actions and non-laws, the aboriginal who does not want to conform to the western cultural ways is denied access to the natural landscape and its resources which were shared for centuries amongst friend, foe and ancestor in his culture, ... and the youth who does not want to conform to the dishonest and often vicious win/lose materialism of the western culture, or who is poorly equipped to run the narrowing studentocratic gauntlet, is denied access to the natural and social landscape and its resources reserved and controlled by the culture for preferential re-allocation to those willing to publicly validate current cultural non-practices. So, when one strips the imaginary out of the system, .. 'not doing' and 'not saying' become the 'ways' of it's shadowy and untouchable underbelly, ... an underbelly whose unacknowledged existence renders our cultural standards for perception and inquiry intrinsically incomplete, and which provides domicile for the proliferation of abusive practice.

Zeus: Talk about your 'rock and a hard place', ...what comes to mind is that traditional science, the underpinning of western organizational and management theory, ignores emotions as well, ... and in its crisp logic, which eschews the imaginary and sets up this bootleg economy in the gap between the abstract world of logic, on the one hand, and imagination-rich reality on the other, ... science not only funnels us into a Laboritian limbo of emotional anguish, it deprives us of imaginative pathways out of our dilemma, ... locking us into a kind of 'scientific autism'.

Emile: ... indeed, ... and along with a growing number of people,... I have been 'talking these ideas' for some years, and have shared their experience of being generally stone-walled by the scientifically modelled establishment, the systems of hierarchies of various flavors, wherein this dysfunction is being perpetuated. After all, it is not that we do not know about it, but more that we are addicted to it and continue to feed this addiction as consenting adults, since we are almost never called to task for it, as no process exists to call us to task for it. The dysfunction growing out of the gap between logic and imagination is very visible and very common, and in most cases, those victimized by it have simply put up with it. The aboriginal's historical view of this 'out-of-the-gap' white western treachery is; "Deception is a form of indirect violence. But when they can no longer speak with the forked tongue, they'll come at you directly with the gun, they'll kill you.", and historically, this has clearly been the case.

What is happening more and more today is that youths and nations and ethnic groups who are feeling an intensification of this indirect violence are beginning to take arms against it, ... and, in my view, the writing is on the wall; ... if the culture is not prepared to honestly address the 'indirect violence' which operates with impunity in the gaps or 'incompleteness' emanating from our logical-causal perception, inquiry and justice schemes, given all the weaponry that abounds in the world today, including chemical and nuclear, ... we are in for some really nasty 'fireworks'.

Zeus: ... Emile, ...what concerns me in this issue is that history has shown us that cultures are not about to rescind on their basic precepts until they are good and ready to, and such readiness is typically achieved only through the sweat, blood and tragedy of centuries, as Thomas Kuhn and others have elaborated on. The deep assumptions in a culture are woven into the fabric of the daily lives of those immersed in it. And as Copernicus, Galileo, Giordano Bruno, Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Merton, and many others have discovered, it is the 'absolutist' principles of traditional logical-causal science, which have been woven most deeply and complexly into our culture, and which underpin this extreme resistance to cultural change.

Yesterday, Pierre passed me an interview with the 'post-modern theologian' Michael Fox, dating from a December, 1997 session with Doug Armentrout, which suggested not only that science was indeed the cultural gatekeeper to any re-embrace of imagination, ... science was also showing signs that it was about to open the gate. The initial exchange in the interview went, in fact, like this;

* * * * * * *

Doug: In your speech up in Boise, you said that science is becoming mystical again. What do you mean by that?

Matthew Fox: Well, I mean the sense of wonder and awe is returning, that science is bringing the heart in, as well as a sense of the whole. David Bohm said "I am proposing a postmodern physics which begins with the whole."

The parts mentality that has ruled science for a couple hundred years is definitely disintegrating. Also ending is our use of the machine as a model of the universe and the mind and body.

I'm talking about specific scientists, like Erich Jantsch, who, in his book, "Self-Organizing Universe," compares his work to the work of the mystics. He says that previously only the mystics knew these things, and now that he's proposing it, it will enter more rapidly into the culture. And of course he's right, because the West waits for the scientists to give us permission to think in this way.

* * * * * * *

Emile: ... hmmmm, ... well despite Fox's apparent optimism, it is interesting to me, that specific scientists like Bohm and Jantsch were out there with these ideas years ago, .. and Poincare and others a century before them even. Jantsch's 'Design for Evolution' was published in 1975 and Bohm's 'Implicate Order' was published in 1980, ... twenty-five and twenty years ago respectively. Capra's 'The Turning Point' was published in 1982, ... which suggests that he might have used a more Churchillian turn of phrase than 'turning point', such as "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

So, to me, there is a big question mark as to when, and even 'if' the 'post-modern' scientists will be coming out of the closet, ... given our tightly knit disciplinary communities whose very hierarchical structures and membership validation and rewards programs are the embodied record of logical-causal know-how.

In fact, my interpretation is that it will take as much encouragement to get most scientists to 'come clean' as it took to get Bill Clinton to admit to hanky panky in the oval orifice, ... and at $30 million a shot, an imposed de-closeting program is not exactly economically viable.

Zeus: Perhaps denial of the damaging banishment of imagination remains rife in the scientific ranks because admitting involves too deep a slice, ... 2500 years of Aristotelian method progressively woven into everything, ... education, organization, business, politics, religion, the economy. What establishment messenger would want to deliver this message? We are right now coming up to the 400th anniversary of one such messenger who hit the nail on the head with amazing prescience; ... Giordano Bruno, ... and he was burned at the stake for saying basically the same thing that Bohm and Jantsch have been saying. Bruno's heresies included, ... and the list was a long one, as both the statute books and judgemental indictments are wont to be in a logical-causal culture, .. .--- his belief in the immanence of God in nature; --- his rejection of all fixed value systems and his advocation of the relativity of ethics; --- his belief that no object, relation, or event could be absolutely good or absolutely evil, and similarly --- that no thought or action could be absolutely right or absolutely wrong; --- his belief that there are no real separations (only logical distinctions) within the harmony and unity of dynamic nature; --- his claim that the universe was continuous and had no beginning and will have no end in either space or time, and --- that there is life (including intelligent beings) on countless other worlds.

Emile: Yes, ... it's very clear that changes at this basic a level, in the fundamentals of how we perceive space-time, matter, energy and information, do not happen overnight, ... and they take a lot longer when the precepts which need changing are those very ones which underpin the material success of the system and its advocates, and foster their accession to global supremacy. The pathway to success in our social hierarchies is, as the aboriginal said and the diplomatic observer implied, ... paved with incomplete truths, ... logical truths which are falsehoods-in-reality because they are selected on the basis of what people want to hear, ... and what is painful to hear is either not said or not heard.

Each time I resurface from my trips down to inspect the foundations of cultural perception and inquiry, something which most people don't have time to do, ... as I try to write up my findings in an essay-report, ... I find that it's almost impossible to share the bad news aspects in my report, as I can sense that it's a turn-off, ... that people will think, .... 'christ, that's the most depressing thing I've ever heard, .... surely we can find something more optimistic to talk about'. But I never see these realizations as depressing at all, ... I see them as illuminating and enabling, ... as the portal into a bigger and more harmonious story, ... but that is an 'inclusionary' or 'immersed-intemogular' viewpoint wherein I never let myself 'hang on' to the mogul as it pops up menacingly in front of me, like the cobra in an Egyptian tomb, ... my reflex has become instead, 'aha, .. another great mogul to pivot off towards purpose!', ... because I'm not inventing or constructing the damn thing, .. it's already there, so what's to be gained by denial? ... on the other hand, I know full well what's to be lost, ... honesty, learning, strength and evolution, to name a few.

Zeus: It is shocking to encounter this stuff, though, if you don't work this 'systems' domain on a steady basis, because you're always keeping your mind otherwise occupied on the clock and the specific things that you need to do. It seems that for those who 'do' open their minds and get the flavor of what is really involved in this western perception and inquiry issue, it is so big it is surreal, and for others it is infuriating and frustrating, but I guess for us, it has become more and more, ... just the way things are, ... and when one is in that frame of mind, the goal is not to work towards seeing the system 'come down', although that emotion may briefly show itself from time to time. Instead, we come naturally and resonantly to the agreement that youth deserves an opportunity to be informed on philosophical-level issues, by our civilizational trustees, ... which includes everyone of age who has had the time to experience 'community as a complex system', so that, over time, new growth might rise up and replace the old dysfunctional growth, ... and since dysfunction emanating from our 'scientific autism' seems to be rapidly on the rise, I am hoping that the liberation of youth from their educational lobotomization will happen sooner rather than later.

Emile: You know only too well how strongly I feel about this, but I don't at the moment see the opportunity being given to youth to be enlightened on what is going on at the philosophical level, or their being exposed to the alternative viewpoints of perceiving and inquiring into 'community as complex system', ... .the 'voyeur' or 'parasite of the visible' versus 'immersed' or 'shared space-time' modes. Who is teaching the very simple and basic notions of Bohm and Jantsch in elementary school, ... opening the children up to an awareness of the unnaturalness of taking the absolutist notions of 'good' and 'bad' too seriously, .... telling them that they are a hangover from Parmenides and Aristotle et al, the abstract fabrication of a particular era and ethnic outlook? .... how many times does a child hear 'this is good', or 'that is bad'? It may sound innocuous because it is so familiar and quaint, but as Vygotsky says; "The word is a direct expression of the historical nature of human consciousness. Consciousness is reflected in a word as the sun in a drop of water. A word relates to consciousness as a living cell relates to a whole organism, as an atom relates to the universe. A word is a microcosm of human consciousness."

And in the western culture which they are immersed in, 'good' and 'bad' are a package deal which includes a legacy of non-relativistic, absolutist philosophy which induces the western observer to believe that the fairness of his ethno-centric subjectivity is beyond question. Early schooling, first at home and then at school, is where the indoctrination into Aristotelian logical-causal, imagination-banishing science and 'ways of being' begins, and the message is woven into the fabric of the medium of education, and it is non-trivial to come back from that indoctrination after it has been 'burned in' to the innocently eager and receptive 'read-only' mental circuitry of our childhood.

Zeus: Yes, ... as John Lennon said, "Life is something that happens while you're busy making other plans", and that's what our children are too young to realize as their early lives are 'happening' before their awareness catches up with them, ... they think they are going to school get educated, but are instead getting 'de-educated' as Ronald Laing and Jules Henry assert, ... "... education has never been an instrument to free the mind and the spirit of man, but to bind them." Henry's makes the point that to encourage the natural imagination of a child would be disruptive to the culture, and so we instill in them instead, through the schooling process, subliminal practices which curb the imagination that our culture is now most in need of. As he says; "I have also urged that since education, as the central institution for the training of the young in the ways of the culture, is thus burdened with its obsessive fears and hates, contemporary attacks on our schools are the reflection of a nervousness inherent in the school as a part of the central obsession." In other words, we should not be surprised to see a kind of 'cultural psychosis' erupt in our schools. And, just as you pointed out in the case of Bohm and Jantsch, ... Jule's Henry's ideas were much acclaimed, but he wrote that back in 1963 at a time when the culture had seemed to loosen it's subjectivity from its normal bonds of homo-centric infallibility for a brief moment, ... but has since closed it back down again.

Emile: I like the John Lennon quote very much, ... for Lennon and the Beatles, the pull of their public brought them to fame and fortune. And so we say that the Beatles 'caught the imagination' of the youth of the sixties era, and it was a very coherent and powerful imaginary force indeed, but it was not logical because it was very ambiguous, answering a thousand questions and meeting a thousand needs at the same time, delivering satisfaction by means of the 'geometry' of the music rather than the specifics, and so the impact of the Beatles was not 'causal' in the scientific sense of the word, because it was an emergent behavior which was pulled out of the present by the hand of the future which reached back and grabbed it by the hair, ... from an unsatisfied need or purpose inside of us, an urge for 'becoming', ... for the creative dance into the not-yet, rather than being mechanically imposed from the past.

Zeus: If experiences such as Beatlemania are indeed to be included in the 'reality' we seek to understand, and how could we possibly justify their exclusion, .... then we must question a system of perceiving reality which would exclude all such causally rootless and future-pulled eventualities, disqualifying them on the basis of their 'imaginary' nature. If our courts were asked to decide who was responsible for the success of the Beatles, it would be a thin response indeed for them to pick the Beatles' parents, music teachers and promoters. Or, as concerns a less happy geometry, what if our courts were asked to decide who was responsible for the progressive genocide of native americans? Causal logic doesn't permit us to give attribution to such items as 'a gaping and unfulfilled need in the heart of youth', ... 'avarice in the heart of the white man', or ''the yin-pull' of the collective' as reason for anything, ... because causal agents must be tangible and not imaginary. We have no courts for the prosecution of 'indirect violence' or 'indirect lovingness', ... not this side of Camelot, at any rate.

Emile: In the technical realm, science has known for a long time that one can't describe the world without including the 'imaginary', ... the latent order in space from which tangible effects emerge. Kepler knew it and described it very well in 'Harmonia Mundi', using the sun and planets as an archetype for human intellection and showing that 'intuitive intellection' was the mother of 'rational intellection' and included 'rationality' as the special case where imagination goes to zero. Michael Faraday rejected the primacy of matter in favor of 'imagination' aka space-time potentials, as Tweney and Gooding have described, ... "For him [Faraday], fields of force were the primary reality, and 'matter' a secondary or derived phenomenon. Faraday did not allow his understanding of phenomena to be constrained by a foundation of abstract philosophical concepts, but demonstrated the practicality of a world view completely different from the prevailing one by a series of compelling experimental demonstrations of such conceptual force that they could not be ignored"

In the wake of Faraday, Einstein and other modern physicists pointed out that the 'aether' is indeed an active participant in physical phenomena; i.e. that the aether (quantum field) is the medium for interference effects amongst 'things'.

Zeus: Doesn't it make you wonder, Emile, why we persist in 'running' our culture on the basis of logical-causal scientific tradition when science is not only fully aware that the logical-causal framework is seriously 'incomplete' and unable to deal with the 'imaginary' (latent ordering forces), but also comes by this awareness, .. the proof of this incompleteness, through the procedures and accepted methods of science itself?

Emile: Yes, it certainly has made me wonder, and I've come to believe that the answer is that the acculturated western mind has been trained not to allow itself to question its own subjectivity. Western religions, whose science-based doctrines have given permanent domicile to Aristotelian logic, ... continue to stress the homo-centric absolutist view which denies both the role of the imaginary in crafting our experienced physical reality. This view is frequently and forcefully put forth in our culture as can be seen, for example in Pope John Paul II's 1998 encyclical, 'Fides et Ratio' or 'Faith and Rationality', wherein he stresses 'the universal knowledge of good and evil', which enables us as individuals "to express a judgement about the right conduct to be chosen here and now", and underscores how the Vatican Council validates "the dignity and superiority of the human being over the rest of creation, and declares the transcendent capacity of human reason." As Kuhn points out, and is characteristic of complex systems, ... over time, beliefs such as this become embodied in the structure of organization of the system, so that the medium becomes a continual reinforcer of the message. The most powerful shaping influence on youth is not the imposed structural teaching, but 'modelling' of authority figures, as psychologists have long pointed out, and there is an abundance of absolutist, judgemental authority figures who constitute the 'medium' of our culture.

Zeus: As we have discovered in our explorations into language, story and myth, the binary logical-causal 'good - bad' judgement basis of western culture is deeply imbued in western films, television and story-telling, not to mention 'real-life'. The typical heros of western stories have little difficulty in making on-the-spot judgements and executing them "right here and now" along with the summarily convicted 'villains'. There is a double-sided philosophical-scientific message in this behavior, and in the youthful behaviors which model after it, and this is that 'good' and 'bad' are absolute entities in themselves and our subjectivity in being able to judge what is 'good' and 'bad' the instant we see it, is beyond question. In other words, the message conveyed in much of the popular western entertainment media is that we inhabit a non-relativistic, Euclidian world, where 'interference effects' need not be considered, ... unless, of course, they are important to us, ... an exception which our infallible subjectivity will be able to readily ascertain, ... and this brings us back to the selectivity associated with the causality-imagination gap. For example, if a western powers pilot is shot down and captured by the enemy after a bombing run in which civilians have been killed, and is then threatened with death by his captors, ... his western countrymen will cry foul, and say that the historical circumstances must be accounted for (interference effects, such as his having been fighting for a just 'cause'), even though that same argument on the 'nation scale', coming from the opposition, may have been rejected to justify the bombing attack in the first place. And of course, ... interference effects can be viewed over arbitrary extensions of space and time, ... 'arbitrarily' selected so that an appropriate ratio of 'nasties-they-did-to-us' over 'nasties-we-did-to-them' emerges which will support the argument of the day, ... a tautological modelling process for convincing ourselves that a relativistic reality is 'really' non-relativistic and can be calibrated with reference to a historical-causal reference base, as directed and produced by 'us'.

Emile: Yes, the subjectively determined reference base for a particular problem scenario is not in itself the source of dysfunction. As Wittgenstein pointed out, we can benefit from making all these 'sketches' of the reality landscape, as long as we don't confuse a particularly appealing 'sketch' with the 'synoptic view', which is it not, and cannot be. The synoptic view is not going to come from looking at a Kosovo, or an Iraq and explaining it in convincing causal terms. The synoptic view is the 'immersed' view and this takes us, the observer, back 'inside our own story', ... or, 'inside our real-time ontogeny' where we comprehend all problems simultaneously, as we inevitably must do, in some manner or another, in 'navigating' our lives.

What is missing in fragmenting our reality and considering each detached problem in its own right, ... Kosovo, Iraq, high school massacres or whatever, is the relational 'interference effects' amongst these subsystems living within the common container of 'environment' or 'earth'. But we are safe in doing this, so long as we use these problem descriptions not as standalone models on which to act, but in our process of 'bringing a multitude of real and imaginary experiences into connection in the mind', in order to give us that tacit understanding which enables us to 'navigate complexity' in immersed mode, ... as is the process of a Nelson Mandela. But the tendency in our culture is not to determine our behavioral responses on this 'immersed' basis, which requires 'imagination' as Laborit and others have pointed out, ... but instead to freeze our subjectivity and act out of our voyeur view and judgemental analysis of the scenario, ... making of ourselves 'parasites of the visible' in Kunze's terms.

Not only does this process, ... of utilizing the detached problem-based view to sole-source our behavioral response allow us to selectively tailor the data to our emotionally fuelled and favored 'causes', it also allows us to detach ourselves from the fact that others are starving to death while we bask in relative affluence.

In other words, there is a big emotional 'downside' to including the interference effects and going for the synoptic view and ontogenetic behavioral response, ... as opposed to excluding interference effects and going with the causal view and judgemental behavioral response, and that downside is that we can no longer unleash the fist of righteous in pursuing our favored causes, but must open the door to awareness of our systemic relationship to 'evolutionary consequence'. This means acknowledging that the dirty end of the win/lose stick, which emerges in such forms as global poverty and environmental contamination, is not detachable from our self-righteous and well-rewarded 'success stories'. But that's not all that's up for grabs in the recognition or non-recognition of interference effects, ... there is also the material effect that in staying with the single issue and causal model, the fact that when business is booming and the money is rolling in, whether the business is selling self-terminating seeds to the 'third world', or repairing houses demolished by storms, or producing oil into a high priced embargoed market, such 'success' can be treated in its own right, and of course, such a phenomena will then be seen as the direct causal result of managerial astuteness, and the manager will be neither shy nor humble in making that causal connection as he sits at the executive committee table to determine his own compensation and bonus awards.

Zeus: ... so, there are many poker chips riding on the same number here, ... you can stick with voyeur-mogular or you can flip to immersed-intermogular which in fact contains the former as the special case where imagination goes to zero. So.. Emile, .. why doesn't this word get around, ... since it's emanating from well known writings in science, philosophy, psychology and anthropology?

Emile: Well, Zeus, ... you remember all that stuff about hieroglyphyics, aboriginal oral tradition, Denis Gabor and holography and all that? Gabor kind of summed it up rather nicely and said that our basic theory of communication is a linear approximation which really doesn't mesh with the reality of things; ... that is, the notion of orthogonality of time and frequency which underlies the current theory is abstract and non physically realizeable, and it's this faulty underpinning which that leads to communications theory based on absolute 'true' and 'false' (not.true) statements, or 'literalism' in the macro world of communication, the ultimate form of which is a binary 'one' or 'on' and 'zero' or 'off'. Nothing in nature, not even your night-visiting friend Galatea, ever goes from completely 'on' to completely 'off', and comes back to talk about it. Gabor pointed out that communications, to be physically realizeable or agree with the 'real world', had be 'complex' and have an 'imaginary' component, .... and this understanding took him to the discovery of holography, and much more, in the context of social complexity which he tried to share, but how many people do you know would go and get their psychotherapy from an electrical engineer?

Here's what Gabor said in his 'Theory of Communications' paper published in the International Journal of Electrical Engineering back in 1946, ... about the behavior of the communicated signal after you derived it in a nonlinear, quantum physics compliant fashion, ... so that it was in visible agreement with physical nature, ... "Though the overlapping of the elementary [complex] signals may be of small practical consequence [Gabor's initial 1946 assessment], it raises a question of considerable theoretical interest. The principle of causality requires that any quantity at an epoch 't' can depend only on data belonging to epochs earlier than 't'. But we have seen that we could not carry out the expansion into elementary signals exactly without taking into consideration also the 'overlap of the future'. In fact, strict causality exists only in the 'time language'; as soon as we use frequency as an additional reference the sort of uncertainty occurs which in modern physics has often been called the 'breakdown of causality'. But rigorous time-analysis is possible only with ideal oscillographs, not with any real physical instruments; hence strict causality never applies in practice. A limitation of this concept ought not to cause difficulties to electrical engineers who are used to the Fourier integral, i.e. to an entirely non-causal method of description."

Now Zeus, that may sound a bit technical, ... but I'm sure you can wing your way through the jargonic flak of his EE patter to see that he's saying that natural, physically realizeable communication 'units' are non-causal, and what is communicated in the present can draw on the future. Here we are back to the scientific fundamentals of the waviness of nature creeping into everything again. The linear implementation of binary zeros and ones, the direct analogue to 'things' and 'void' in the Euclidian space approximation, the underpinning of logical-causal inquiry, ... is abstract and inadequate with respect to being able to model real physical systems, because once again, it is not capable of dealing with interference effects which are vital to the 'immersed view' of reality.

Zeus: .... This fact that a literal language cannot handle, in its basic units, relational interference information, reminds me of what you said in your 'Complexity and the 'Learning Organization'', back in 1997, under the heading "Recognizing and Managing Latent-Emergent Value", .... "Nonlinear, creative interference in the macro world of teams is difficult to get a handle on for three reasons; we can't speak directly about it, we can't remember it, and we cant quantitatively measure it (not to mention Einstein's point that we can't picture it)." So what we are dealing about here is with something which is missing from our mode of perception and inquiry which we can't speak directly to because we have been over fastidioius in tidying up our language, ... in having gotten rid of all those clusters of glyphs as in Egyptian hieroglyphics which confused the literal message by superimposing a lot of 'dumb' relational interference information.

Emile: Yes, ... what amuses me is that this issue doesn't attract any interest from the mainstream science community, who are getting happier and happier with the elimination of the relational interference content, evan as their disciplines get narrower and narrower. As Laborit says, ... we are witnessing the reign of the technocrat and the bureacrat whose narrowing viewpoints, ... consiliently integrated without the benefit of the relational interference information, which is carefully and systemically eradicated from all our phenomenal datasets, ... and of course, this is the type of system which brings us stuff like 'MAI', the 'Multilateral Agreement on Investment'. But strangely enough, as our society continues to self-fragment and head for what Wittgenstein calls the tractionless crystalline purity of logic (where our head gets stuck up our 'you know what', and we just sit there spinning our wheels), ... guess who is struggling with how to understand why? .... the lawyers! And in the fall '98 issue of the Tennessee Law Review, in a lengthy and nicely informative article by Thomas Earl Geu entitled "Chaos, Complexity, and Co-evoluton: The Web of Law, Management Theory, and Law Related Services at the Millenium', ... we can find ourselves in there being extensively quoted on these most elusive issues. Geu says; "The observations and management prescriptions made in the COMPLEXITY article, generally just reinforce those made by the more traditional 'management theorists' surveyed in Part II of this article. Their import, therefore, is that they arise out of a theoretical framework provided by 'the new science.'

Zeus: I can see it now, ... lawyers chasing not after ambulances, but after psychiatrists and psychotherapists, ... looking for instances where people are suspecting that they have been the victims of coherent non-action.

Emile: That's not as weird as it sounds on the first playback, Zeus, because many people are indeed suffering from discrimination and from the failure of others to consider the evolutionary consequences of their non-actions. But discrimination and neglect are very small parts of the justice system, and we quickly write off things like youth suicide, as natural selection (which begs the question of our definition of 'fitness', .. a superior capacity for species-cide?) Today, in the wake of Pasteur's findings, ... the system would punish a surgeon for not washing his hands prior to operating, under the provisions of criminal neglect, ... but right now, one can spread ASIDS with impunity; i.e. .. 'Acute System Inquiry Deficiency Syndrome', ... to innocent and unsuspecting children as Jules Henry has so forcefully pointed out.

Zeus: Do you envisage a 'Scopes Monkey Trial' variant, ... where monkeys would be brought in to demonstrate that evolution has been going backwords, and that the results of our teaching is producing graduates with less imagination than apes?

Emile: As you well know Zeus, and as we have been counselled so often by the writings of Stephen Jay Gould, ... evolution is not a linear process and there is no such thing as 'progress' when it comes to complex systems, only the growth or decline of the combination of diversity and whole-and-part harmony. Thus, to think of our evolution in terms of either progress or decline is nonsensical. But the other issue here is with respect to the medium rather than the message, ... and the lawyer and the court, as instruments of the justice system, represent 'media' entities. It would be well for the future of homo sapiens and the planet, if the notion of 'judgement', in the linear-causal sense, gave way to a more Heraclitean form of justice which would be inclusionary and look not just at single issues detached from their evolutionary contexts. Geu hints at this already, in quoting Oliver Wendell Holmes in his Section entitled "Groping Toward Understanding Organizational Law, Economics, Biology, and Punctuated Equilibrium: A Model Revisited and Applied, .... where he quotes Holmes as saying;

"A system of law at any time is the resultant of present needs and present notions of what is wise and right on the one hand, and, on the other, of rules handed down from earlier states of society and embodying needs and notions which more or less have passed away."

Zeus: That is a rather remarkably intermogular statement by Holmes, ... which connotes to me the latent aether of man's imagination, pulling his rationality into existence within a billowing self-referential curved space of ontogenetic cultural becoming.

We have come a long way from the vegetable market in Saint Hubert, Emile, on this little trip, not to mention Kansas, ... and I am about ready to savor of our acquisitions rather than continue to dig up more. Perhaps we can come back another time and profile the new age lawyer who might evolve out of Holme's evolutionary musings on 'The Bar as a Profession'.

Emile: I'm ready for some gnosh as well, .... Holmes and Geu have already put some imagery in my mind re the third millenial lawyer, ... and I can see him summarizing his case to the court, just as someone else we know summarized his 'relativity' case to a Prussian 'court', so-to-speak, ... back in January of 1921

Zeus: ... our 'uncle Albert', to be sure, and how did he summarize?

Emile: His closing words to the Prussian 'judges' hearing his scientific case were; "My only aim today has been to show that the human faculty of visualisation is by no means bound to capitulate to non-Euclidean geometry."

Zeus: ...and the new breed of Judge will doubtless respond to the successful lawyer, 'This case is now open!'

Emile: Exactly! ... er, .. ah, ...... Inexactly!

Zeus: There you go, ... floundering around for words again.

* * *


Epilogue to 'Floundering in Complexity'

Montreal, May 13, 1999

http://rampages.onramp.net/~emlumley/flounder.htm [appendix]

This epilogue is the part of the 'Floundering in Complexity' essay, which stands on its own shoulders and looks down upon itself, ... a necessary feature of 'immersed space' communications.

The presentation in Saint Hubert, leaned on two diagrams, which can be found in Donald Kunze's essay 'Representation' (see URL below), ... which are intended to represent (a) the radial-hierarchical geometry adopted in the west in the Enlightment, and (b) the inclusionary sphere-within sphere geometry of the medieval ages. What emerges from reflecting on these 'geometries' is that they imply two different ways of representing the world and of responding to it. And this epilogue is about the problems in sharing ideas on this topic, through the medium of written language, which may shed further light on both the form and content of the 'Flounder' essay.

* * *

There is a problem in idea-sharing, which arises from the 'incompleteness' in our medium of phonetic language (bottom-up symbol-based information constructs) used in concert with our standard representational approach, .. i.e. 'perspective'. Thus the ideas contained in the 'Floundering...' essay (and other essays on my website), are presented in a kind of indirect manner, through dialogue between Emile and Zeus, ... story devices which cooperate in at attempt to deliver relativistic notions which manifest as whole-and-part relational harmony which is 'of the spaces' rather than things, ... a storyline which attempts to come from intermogular space rather than being constructed from the sum of the statements in the essay.

In any case, this epilogue seeks to play the part of a third story-voice and look down upon, and comment on the message of the prior intermogular story-voice. This look at idea communications emanates from the challenge, in dealing with complex systems concepts, in that we have three realms which are all in a state of mutual and continuous flux, ... subject, object and containing environment. As the physicist Erich Jantsch points out, in our quantum physics view of reality, ... we (the observer or subject) are relationally analogous to a molecule of water in turbulent river flow (e.g. in a flow vortex), ... we are part of what we look out at and part of the enveloping flow which contains both us and what we are looking out at. There is no center to this 'curved space' and no beginning and no end. Thus everything is truly relative, ... there are no reference platforms whatsoever, and we have a problem of where to start, as is alluded to within the 'Flounder' essay, ... and was alluded to by Wittgenstein who never wrote a 'book' for this same reason (he wrote compilations of observations or sketches of the landscape of thought, as he put it, which the reader was supposed to synthesize with his own experience and intuition so as to visualize the true 'landscape' or 'topography' of the thought.).

Now we normally ride roughshod over this problem without giving it a second thought, ... and this is done by assuming that there is an 'objective' world 'out there' which is fully independent of us, and that the 'subjectivity' which we are looking out from, is a fixed and fully independent being capable of full and unmitigated viewing fidelity. Furthermore, it has become our tradition, since the Enlightenment, to lean very heavily on a particular form of representation, in all types of media including painting and writing, and that form is 'perspective'.

As Donald Kunze points out in an illustrated essay 'Representation' at [http://wgn111.ce.psu.edu/representation/representation.html], perception and inquiry pathologies can result from our belief that a 'perspective' is equivalent to a 'full view' of the subject (or 'object' according to our usage here). This is the same problem that Wittgenstein struggled with in the domain of language, ... i.e. there is no 'perfect sketch', ... no perfect 'perspective' which equates to the actual 'landscape', ... the 'landscape' is something one comes to know 'tacitly' by bringing many sketches into connection in our mind.

Now, clearly, the western culture has the tendency to believe that there is a 'sketch' or 'perspective', if we can dig it out, which for all practical purposes, most closely approximates or 'most closely equates' to the 'reality-landscape'. And people will work very honestly and industriously in an attempt to 'paint the true perspective' which captures the reality-landscape. But in a relativistic, quantum flow world, ... such a 'true perspective' does not, and cannot exist.

Now, I am not being pedantic or complicated just for the fun of it, ... I am trying to share what I have been discovering in my explorations into 'community as complex system' and people are often confused by my approach at articulating my findings. For example, it has been my experience that people interested in the essays may at some point ask me to present the 'basic ideas' in a brief explanation or 'summarized perspective', and here I am using 'perspective' in the same context as just described above. If I responded 'can't be done', ... the usual thought-reaction, which is sometimes vocalized, is ... 'the reason it can't be done is that he doesn't know what he is talking about'. If, at this point, I launch into a discussion of Wittgenstein, Foucault and relativity, ... I shall be talking to myself, even if the other person is still physically present.

Ok, most people (90% ...?) take it for granted that a real phenomenon can indeed be, for all practical purposes (e.g. managing the situation) fully and adequately represented by 'perspective', and a nice clean, neat and tidy 'perspective' is indeed an appealing form for sharing and remember and as a guide for managing and acting and all that. This was not the case, according to art and architecture historians, and psychologists, prior to the enlightment and the rising popularity of 'perspective' representations. For example, early paintings and the paintings of other cultures, e.g. Japanese, ... were from an 'immersed' experience view rather than an 'aloof' or 'detached' 'perspective'. Psychologically (perception and inquiry wise), 'perspective' associates with the 'voyeur' inquiry mode I write about, while the other mode of representation is just about non-existant today, ... but associates with the 'immersed view' and 'tacit understanding', which was more in the primacy in the medieval ages, by all accounts. As mentioned in the Saint Hubert meeting and in the 'Flounder' essay, .. behaviors which emanate from the 'immersed view' and 'tacit understanding' tend to be 'ecological' while behaviors which emanate from the 'voyeur view' and 'explicit understanding' tend to be hierarchical in the mechanistic sense.

But today, we can distinguish two different behaviors in people who depend on 'perspective' views for their understanding, in the manner in which they use perspective information to guide their behavior, ... and people will differ in their propensity for using one or the other. The first behavioral option is to select what you think is the 'best or truest perspective' and to use that, more or less literally, to guide your actions (e.g. in managing Kosovo situation or problem teens etc.), ... and the other behavioural option is to, ... regardless of which 'perpective' you think is the most accurate, ... to act according to your 'tacit' understanding of the situation which comes from the bringing into connection in your mind, .. of everything you have heard, seen, felt and imagined about the subject, ... in other words, to be guided in your actions by a 'virtual landscape' of the phenomenal situation. The latter option would be consistently selected by a Wittgenstein, ... and I suspect, ... a Mandela. In fact, this 'tacit' mode is what Wittgenstein describes in terms of using the 'perspective' as a 'ladder' to get a view of what is going on, ... but where the ladder is never mistaken for the 'landscape'.

So, one behavioral option is to use the 'perspective' (the ladder) as being equivalent to the 'landscape' (the reality) and thus providing an 'explicit' understanding of the reality, and the other behavioral option is to use the 'perspective' as a ladder and to act out one's 'tacit' understanding of the situation (play it by ear). Again, in the medieval age, it has been suggested that people put tacit understanding in the primacy and subordinated explicit understanding, .... a 'polarity' which inverted in the Enlightenment.

Ok, ... this behavioral choice, of acting out of one's 'explicit' or 'tacit' understanding is at the personal level, but there is another complication which emerges as we look at 'community as a complex system', and that is, that when we do large scale things, we build large scale organizations to achieve them, ....as when we send troops in to rectify a problem, ... and this type of circumstance it may be difficult to say, ... 'boys, ... use your imagination, your 'tacit understanding', .. do what you think is fitting for the circumstances relative to our purpose' (and note here how 'purpose' aligns naturally with 'tacit' and 'cause' aligns with 'explicit'). Now if you are a foot soldier, and if you are not coming from a religious fervour whereby you are going to gain entrance to heaven by killing infidels, it may be quite natural for you to do use your imagination, i.e. your tacit understanding. In the first war, the officers stayed back from the front lines, and there were documented cases where Germans and British etc. troops would come out of their trenches, trade cigarettes, drink and joke and sing together, and feign serious conflict only if the officers came out to visit. They were 'using their imagination' and escaping from a smaller into a larger containing story.

But, as technology along with control hierarchies has extended and depersonalized our reach, .. there is reduced opportunity to 'use our imagination', ...e.g. the soldier who pushes the missile button simply lets it loose, ... this is an unimaginative act based on 'explicit understanding', ... and it simply seeks out its pre-programmed coordinates to deliver its pre-planned behavioral action. Similarly in a social hierarchy (business, etc.), ... the employee uses technology-leveraged tools to deliver his product or service into a flow which is often beyond his understanding and certainly beyond his control. This reduces his behavioral interplay with the environment to one which is guided by 'explicit understanding' rather than 'tacit understanding'.

* * *

So, I have been discussing two mutually enfolding problems in this epilogue, ... the first being the problem of leaning on 'perspective' instead of tacit understanding as a guide to behavior. In this problem, people voluntarily abandon tacit understanding in favor of explicit understanding. The second and related problem is that the increase in the scale of organizational structuring for 'getting things done', as exemplified within large hierarchical organizations, is reducing the opportunity for individuals to use their imagination and act out of their tacit understanding. In order to understand the emergence of hierarchical social structures, it's very useful, in my opinion, to look into human biology and psychology as follows;

As the biologist-philosopher Henri Laborit [1] points out, our social behavior draws from our emotional systems as well as from our capacity for imagination. And as he further points out, people generally do NOT have an awareness of the role of their nervous system in formulating their responses to the inner and outer world, and this non-awareness is very relevant to the social structures we form and can be the source of significant dysfunction.

For example, our most important source of information, relative to our mind/body response, is 'internal stimulation' associated with maintaining 'homeostasis' of our inner system, and this stimulus (e.g. such as hunger) would be felt and responded to even if we were blind and deaf and otherwise sheltered from 'external information', ... the latter being the second source of information. It is useful to consider such basics, ... and Laborit provides a very simple and easy to understand model of the nervous system based its fundamentals in the essay referenced in the footnote.

The social dysfunction highlighted by Laborit, in connection with our lack of awareness of how our nervous system works, associates with our emotions-based response of 'fight or flight', ... a pleasure/pain system which leads directly to the win/lose construction of hierarchies, ... and if we find ourselves caught in a hierarchy where we can neither win nor escape, this brings on a state of anguish, .... and to get stuck in that state for a prolonged period, can lead to both psychological and physical pathologies, not to mention social pathologies which play out in 'community as complex system'. Imagination is our 'way out' of this dilemma, but as Laborit points out, we often tend to operate purely on emotions without invoking imagination, and we deny that we have alternatives, and we adjust to the entrapment, rather than using our imagination to find a way into a new story for ourselves. In this manner, we stay in a job we don't like, or a culture we don't like, or on a military operation we don't want to be on, and we are in a continual state of anguish, locked in 'action-inhibition' mode.

Clearly, as our hierarchies get bigger and more powerful, and as our technologies extend our reach ever farther in space and time, ... we are forced to shift progressively away from guiding our behavior according to 'tacit understanding' to instead operating mechanically on the basis of 'explicit understanding', where we 'are given' a perspective which we are told is 'equivalent' to the 'landscape' of the reality out there. Equally clearly, if we want to improve our collective navigation of complexity, ... we must shift out of acting on 'explicit understanding', where we equate a 'best perspective' with the actual 'landscape', ... and begin again to be guided by our 'tacit understanding' which uses multiple 'perspectives' in an inclusionary sense, bringing them into connection in our minds, together with our life experience, ... to visualize the actual 'landscape' and provide a tacit base of understanding.

To summarize, our space-time reality and our mind is capable of bigger thoughts (higher dimensional thoughts) than can be accommodated by our representational media, ... and when it comes to the behaviors (harmonious and pathological) involved in 'community as complex system', ... one has to bring the whole issue of understanding, communication and representation into the problem space, ... particularly the issue of how tacit understanding is to be 'represented' or conveyed by the limited medium of linguistic representations.

The 'Flounder' essay attempts to describe the effects of restricting our 'reasoning' in the western culture, to the purely 'rational' (tangible-logical-causal), from which the imaginary component has been stripped out. The purely rational can only be used to build 'explicit' perspectives and understandings, since the imaginary component is essential to the characterizing of relativistic space-time, both in a mathematical sense and in a macro sense of 'visualizing' in the mind (e.g. 'tacit understanding'). In attempting to discuss the limitations of 'rational only' reasoning, relative to full blown 'immersed' or 'tacit' reasoning, one would like to be able to somehow juxtapose and 'demo' the two. Meanwhile, our language in explanatory mode (i.e. in 'explicit perspective mode') is limited to delivering 'perspectives' or 'sketches' and cannot directly deliver 'landscape' or 'tacit' reasoning.

The problem here, in the written medium, is that the 'story voice' must float and co-resonate with both object (literary 'subject') and container, in order to convey (i.e. share) relativistic or tacit visualizations. The story voice is neither the voice of the author (an author can create many different story voices by changing the subjectivity, even within a single 'story'), nor is it the voice of the primary characters in the story. Every story seems to emanate from an implied personality or implied subjectivity which is itself capable of 'evolution', and there is a problem in trying to deal with 'tacit' visualizations, where this 'story voice' takes on a too convincing characterization, whether 'judgemental' or 'friendly' or whatever. One would like, instead, that the story voice totally disappears and all that remains is the dynamic in the readers mind, ... the readers synapses doing their creative dance into the not-yet. This is the direct analogue of the 'hologram' where the viewers brain is bringing the imagery into its natural whole-and-part confluence. And this is what is achieved in good aboriginal myth, ... the reader is first tricked into walking inside the story, ... into the 'poche' of imagination (the 'boundary crossing geometry' is described mathematically by Donald Kunze [2],), and the reader goes into immersion mode where he is using his own experience to visualize the 'landscape' in the story, ... he is no longer seeing the story in voyeur terms of 'being the opinion of some 'story-voice', .. some particular subjectivity which is not mine.

Normally, this story-which-uses-the-listener technique (as opposed to the standard current hollywood story technique which invites you to be a voyeur or 'parasite of the visible'), is employed for entertainment, rather than for communications intended for sharing specific notions such as the behavioral aspects of 'community as complex system'. Kunze gives example of the ones which 'take you inside and use you' such as 'The Wizard of Oz' and Hitchcock thrillers. But this 'immersed' view is 'where we go' in life when we are visualizing things via 'tacit' understanding. One might even say that we have this option to have our actions be guided by perception and understanding as experienced 'within our own story', ... or to be guided by perception and understanding as experienced in voyeur mode, by being a detached observer and a parasite of the visible. With respect to written essays, ... it thus becomes essential, in order to share these tacit notions or views, ... via the limited medium of language, ... to somehow contrive to get the reader to voluntarily go into the 'poche' of imagination, ... and if the author has done his holographic encoding job properly, .... the story-voice will become inoffensive and unobtrusive and characterless enough to become a 'black hole', .. a formless shapeless empty-fullness which will invite the mind of the reader to come in and become the story-voice himself.

Interestingly, ... this immersed, landscape-perceiving state is a non-judgemental or 'learning' state, so the reader, while he is in it, ... will not be filtering the information through his involuntary emotional-judgemental reject filter banks. This is not to say that he will be prone to 'brain-washing' because his mode of 'story-telling' is to bring all of his relevant experience into connection in his mind and the most natural, whole-and-part harmonizing way to relate and associate these experiences, ... becomes his tacit understanding'.

This corollary to this epilogue, which sought simply to raise awareness of the interplay between complex systems behaviors and the limitations of representational media, ... writing in particular, .. is that dysfunction can only be avoided in 'community as complex system', by reverting to having our behavioral actions coming out of our 'tacit understanding' of the landscape of our reality. This was the predominant way of the aboriginal and medieval world (they had a different set of problems, of course, many of which we have now surmounted). As we move towards 'globalization', incorporating new technologies and building more specialized and extended hierarchies, ... the degree to which we revert to system inputs which are more explicit and perspective based, and less tacit and inclusionary-visualization based, ... the more dysfunction we are likely to infuse into the system. High performance teams typically abandon hierarchical rule-policing and use technology in support of building inclusionary visualization of the reality landscape, and leveraging for people who are operating on the basis of tacit understanding.

In this reverting to tacit understanding in the primacy mode, ... neither the hierarchy nor technology have to be abandoned, .... they simply have to be inclusionarily subordinated (think sphere within sphere where the tacit becomes the larger sphere), by being put in the service of people who are acting out of tacit understanding, ... and this is not only fully feasible, ... wherever it happens, ... people are happier, and they achieve their purpose far more effectively. The barrier has now't to do with the 'do-ability' of the tacit schema, ... but with the emotional attachment to the prevailing hierarchy-first, technology-first syndrome.

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Return to '98/'99 Update Page and Index of Essays

[1] Laborit, Henri, "Les bases biologiques des comportements sociaux", essai, 1991 (The biological basis of social behaviors).

[2] Kunze, Donald, "Kats, Heroes, Brides, and Other Native Speakers of the Language of Boundaries"

revised version, March 9, 1999 http://art3idea.ce.psu.edu/yale/default.html