Montreal, April 10, 1999
Zeus: Christ almighty!, ... what is THAT you've put up there?
Emile: Up where?
Zeus: Up there on the title line, .... you who are struggling to communicate your ideas in terms people can understand!
Emile: Oh, .. so you find the words 'intermogular space-time travel' inconsistent with my goal of simple communications? .... well how about the consistency in you, the so-called 'god of gods', crying out to a mere prophet?
Zeus: Touchee, oh most respected siamese mind-brother!, .. ... but really Emile, ... it seems that you make confused where most you promise to enlighten. You who always speak of inversions, ... it sometimes seems as if you have mastered Chaos theory, but from the wrong end, ... it is as if you would pass the poker of complex understanding to friends 'round the marshmellow roast of learning, in a manner which suggests they take the red-hot tip in their palms.
Emile: It's you who give me these complex or real-plus-imaginary geometric ideas even as I sleep, so don't complain when I begin to attempt their articulation. The prime cognitive capacity of a human is imagination even though rationalist western humans have allowed it to atrophy, particularly in their language based idea sharing.
Zeus: Ok, I knew you would throw the blame back on me for this, and since you have me cornered, I'll try to work with you on it. But Emile, you need to do more than to throw some obscure words at people, even if they do emanate from harmonic geometries in your head. The concept of intermogular space-time travel is whole and harmonic in 'thought', but it is a very rational thing to do to flatten it out into words as you have done, and letting the reader struggle with the assumption that it can be rationally deciphered. I know how your, .... er 'our' mind works, so when you say 'mogul', your mind is as likely to be ranging over bodily form as snow bumps. In fact, it seems to me quite likely that you will be thinking of imagery as in that Fellini film where the protagonist dreamed he was tiny, and in his tinyness, was wandering over the rounded nude contours of a giant blonde, ... Anita Ekberg, as I recall.
Emile: It's too true, Zeus, ... I have not only skied such mogular slopes in my mind, I have enjoyed an apres-ski soak in the hotsprings of such topographies.
Zeus: Pheewwww. ... not only your extravagant titles but also your penchant for sexual allusions would seem to give cause for the reader to be distracted from your theoretical message.
Emile: That's precisely the point, Zeus, ... tacit geometries cannot be conveyed by rational language based explanation because of their fractal or 'self-referential' aspect, .... so they must be conveyed 'on the side', ... like taking a glass of schnapps with your beer, or some of that Portugaise Aguardente Bagaceira that Jano serves over on Saint Laurent, .... a melange of grappa and cognac, ... an aesthetic harmony emanating from the tensional space between the gentle brother and the hard brother. You can't have music without both low and high notes, as Heraclitus was wont to say.
Zeus: Yes, well Heraclitus died covered in cowdung too, ... so you might want to factor that into your 'navigating of complexity'. Anyhow, you worked in the establishment for over thirty years, including a stint in the headquarters, ... the seat of power, of one of the world's largest corporation. Surely you know that certain styles of communication just get people's backs up, .... and many in the establishment are not going to accept communication by sexual allusion.
Emile: As you tend to say, when you are not arguing with me, ... maybe yes, maybe no.
When I was on a developmental assignment in the New York headquarters of the corporation I was working for, ... as budget and objectives planning coordinator, part of the assignment was to work with the international affilates and collect the 'numbers' on annual results (revenue, income expense etc.) and the three years forward projections thereof, and to ghost write the summary of these results for the division president. My draft had to be reviewed first by the V.P. for finance, and so I performed this writing task in the expected bullshit style, but I kept putting in what I really thought at the end of each summary section. At the end of the overall summary, where I paraphrased the various wonderful things which had been said to have happened during the year, and which would continue to blossom forth in the future, ... I wrote that these corporate results, present and future might best be characterized as 'a wet dream at the end of the rainbow'.
Zeus: ... hmmm, .... and what, pray tell, did the VP for Finance say about this, ....
Emile: He said, "'great report', you have consistently hit the nail on the head.' ... 'It's too bad our job is not to publish the truth, ... your draft is approved, minus the excellent commentaries circled in red, of course."
Zeus: So what you're telling me is that 'everybody knows' and its a question of sharing the truth within a trusted environment. But how did you know that the 'stuff' wouldn't hit the fan when you submitted your draft to the finance VP? ... was he a personal friend?
Emile: I had only met the man once, but I could see he had a twinkle in his eye, and it was a twinkle which was not reserved solely for his heavy-weight executive mates, but seemed to go out to anyone or everyone. I could hear his laughter even as I was keying in my summary comments. And as far as the sexual allusions, ... if one works the domain of geometry, as I do, ... it is a question of understanding the 'ordering principles' in nature, and there is no doubt that sexuality is at the heart of some very essential natural ordering principles. For a researcher into the patterns of order in complex natural systems to ignore or give sexual territory a wide berth is to deprive himself of some of the richest and most insightful of datasets. For example, let's take a closer look at the 'wet dream'.
Zeus: Your twisting and turning reminds me of a mobius strip or a Celtic knot. You will recall when we were having our pints of Guinnes in that Inn, somewhere between Limerick and Cork, the fellow was explaining that what a Celtic debater was respected for was to allow his adversary to home in closer and closer on his tail, like a messerschmidt closing in on a spitfire, and then suddenly emerge from a cloud going full speed in the opposite direction.
Emile: Yes, I would call this a flip from mogular space to intermogular space-time but will refrain from doing so knowing your sensitivies. ... Ok, I'm assuming you've given me a mandate to proceed with an investigation of the geometry of a wet dream, and the most interesting question for me in this matter is one of space-time geometry, of course; ... that is, ... which comes first, the 'thought' or the 'wetness'? Is the dream, simply an ad-lib to the physical process which is happening anyway, ... like old faithful going off on its own since it is otherwise unemployed, while someone plays the bagpipes in celebration? Or is the dream itself inducing the nocturnal emission? Who are 'we' when we sleep, because our body doesn't seem to be very present. If they do a brain scan on us, they will see activity there, ... but if one has the perspective of a Klingon, one would say, ... oh look, there's a little klingon occupying that brainmass, ... see how he dances so, as the meat sleeps. Look, he's tickling that nerve center and look what's happening, ... Well, I'm not a Klingon, but I'm still not sure who's the party instigator here, ... mind or matter, but it seems clear that matter cannot do that on its own, because it must suspend or 'rest' its rational thinking to let the little klingons in to play around.
Zeus: Yes, I am reminded of your quoting of Schroedinger on the dilemma which quantum physics has opened up for us, that is; "For the observing mind is not a physical system, it cannot interact with any physical system. And it might be better to reserve the term 'subject' for the observing mind." Schroedinger's observation suggests that the observing mind is 'bigger than' the biochemistry of the brain.
Emile: That's what I was trying to say in 'Dear Science, Prodigal Son That You Are ...'. In this same regard, I quoted Nikolai Buhkarin (1888 - 1938), one of the architects of the 'New Economic Policy', a blend of communism and capitalism later advocated and employed by Gorbachev and Deng Xsiao Ping amongst others, variants of which are still in use. The NEP and the western economic models are built on the premise that everything is ultimately 'causal', that our experience comes from material things, like biochemistry and DNA etc. This 'mogular' line of thinking is why most of the world's research funds are invested in explaining things and manipulating things in terms of material-causal genetics. So Bukharin's thoughts are consistent with western cultural thinking on this, though they clash with the ideas of quantum physics, not to mention the work of Vygotsky and ecological thinkers who put intermogular space-time, or the latent energy in the ether, the reciprocal disposition of material things, into the primacy. You will recall that Bukharin said;
"Organic nature grew out of dead nature; living nature produced a form capable of thought. First, we had matter, incapable of thought; out of which developed thinking matter, man. If this is the case we know it is, from natural science is plain that matter is the mother of mind; mind is not the mother of matter. Children are never older than their parents. 'Mind' comes later, and we must therefore consider it the offspring, and not the parent existed before the appearance of a thinking human; the earth existed long before the appearance of any kind of 'mind' on its surface. In other words, matter exists objectively, independently of 'mind.' But the psychic phenomena, the so-called 'mind,' never and nowhere exists without matter, were never independent of matter. Thought does not exist without a brain; desires are impossible unless there is a desiring organism other words: psychic phenomena, the phenomena of consciousness, are simply a property of matter organised in a certain manner, a 'function' of such matter."
Zeus: Yes, clearly Bukharin would have favored the image of the mind 'fiddling' while the gonads burned, rather than the notion of a creative dance-into the not yet wherein the will-force of tacit purpose induces the physical dance of the club-members.
Emile: Is that you or me speaking? ... anyhow, ... 'And so it goes', as Kurt Vonnegut and Leonard Cohen would say in their respective works. The notion of the tacit force of the collective will not do in our western culture, since they do not sit well as the base for executive compensation plans, and of course, it is the executives who decide on the basis for executive compensation plans. The major corporation executive in the US is currently being paid about two hundred times the average wage paid within his corporation, a ratio which continues to rise, and the UK and other countries are eagerly following this lead. It is the rare VP with the twinkle in his eye who will allow the describing of how financial results are achieved, in terms of a 'wet dream at the end of the rainbow'. Alain Etchegoyen puts this executive-causal model into fable form in his book 'Fables Intempestives'. The result of this inverted thinking of the Bukharin type is, inevitably, that we invert the natural schema and put 'people-bodies as means, wealth as ends', that is, bodies are the means of producing wealth which can sustain the collectives, hence the strong arm with the hammer and sickle. While this matter-over-mind 'geometry' augured for a free market, it conflicted with the 'mind-over-matter' policies of bioregionalism in catering to local Kommissars and worker groups and with the principles of the revolution, and was why Stalin had Bukharin murdered, .... to Stalin, it was probably like burning heretics, a practice which our own culture has never been brought to trial for, ... because it has had the 'wisdom' to switch to starving the heretics rather than burning them.
Zeus: Well, the switch may also be due to the volumes involved in the 'cleansing' having become rather too large, and the associated air pollution and fuel consumption impact would not fit with our 'friendly to the earth' policies. Besides, the starvation approach is resource conserving at the same time as it purifies the culture of those who would oppose the culture.
Emile: Well said, Zeus, ... you have captured the insanity of our times in a 'nut-shell'. It was just a while ago that I was hearing rave reviews on a New Age author, Barbara Marx Hubbard, who wrote 'The Book of Co-Creation'. Barbara is very charismatic and seems to be attracting a growing following. On a search for the geometry of her philosophy, I found the following statement on the web, from her 'co-creation' book; "Out of the full spectrum of the human personality, one-fourth is elected to transcend and one-fourth are destructive, defective seeds. In the past they were permitted to die a natural death. Now, as we approach the quantum shift from the creature-human to the co-creative human - the human who is an inheritor of god-like powers - the destructive one-fourth must be eliminated from the social body. Fortunately, you are not responsible for this act. We are. We are in charge of God's selection process for planet Earth. He selects - we destroy. We are the riders of the pale horse, Death."
Zeus: Emile, ... I rather prefer your interpretation of quantum physics to hers. Hers seems to be an extreme version of 'Fides et Ratio' where one is encouraged to believe we can recognize absolute good, and that it is our duty to excise what is not good.
Emile: Exactly, .... a policy of purification which emanates from our unquestioned base of Parmenidian-Aristotelian-Euclidian philosophy, .. from whence derives our 'absolutist' subjectivity. According to modern physics, our subjectivity is necessarily relative, .... when we select what is 'good' according to our unique ethnically modulated experience, 'bad' is mutually defined in terms of opposition to good. To begin to think in terms of sovereignty to protect our ethnicity, is to set off on the path of purification or 'nettoyage ethnique'. That is, by pursuing regional sovereignty, we imply that 'sharing' is not working and that we must build new walls to protect our ethnic rights, ... this translates to the starving out of heretics in our midst.
Zeus: Yes, but ethnicity stems from common culture and language, and our western culture is one which puts sovereignty or absolute 'ownership' of land and property into the primacy. So the move towards regional sovereignty, as here in Quebec, is not only a statement that sharing hasn't worked, but a further commitment to the cultural belief in sovereignty, ... a notion that is innately based in absoluteness and purity.
Emile: In this light, it is easy to see why the whiteman made fun of the redman for 'indian giving'. As my Abenaki-Quebecois friend Jean Morel was saying in 'Bar des Pins' just last night, the redman's philosophy had no place for absolute ownership, and if he 'sold' a canoe to a whiteman, he was simply 'sharing' the canoe. If he later came across that canoe when out of use and stashed by the side of the whitemans cabin, he would not hesitate to put it to good use for his own need, this was very natural for him. As Chief Maquinna of the Nootkas' says, in this same vein, at the time of his first seeing a white man's Bank; "we have no such bank; when we have plenty of money or blankets, we give them away to other chiefs and people, and by and by they return them with interest, and our hearts feel good. Our way of giving is our bank."
Zeus: I am beginning to understand where you are coming from in your choice of title for this essay, 'Intermogular Space-Time Travel', ... you are attempting to give your reader a 'glass of schnapps on the side', saying that we cannot ignore the reciprocal disposition of our material reality, ... that the reason why sharing fails is because we do not own up to the truth, .... that by our patterns of 'not-doing' those who monopolize resources can manipulate those less well resourced peoples without having to actually 'do' anything. The reaction to this dishonesty, in the form of putting up further walls of sovereignty, is to do more of the same, ... to preserve the dishonesty which is the real source of the sharing dysfunction. To pretend not to see the game which is being played, as Laing says, ... because we will be breaking the rules of our dishonest culture if we blow the whistle on dishonesty, and we will be punished for it.
Emile: Yes, ... as I see it, the move for greater regional sovereignty simply exacerbates the sharing problem. What is required is honesty, and in our honesty, we will have to concede that our subjectivity is relative and leads to a collective autism which can only be transcended by 'becoming larger than our judgements'.
Zeus: So the message you are trying to get across is that intermogular space-time travels can be orgasmic.
Emile: I'm glad you said it in those terms Zeus, and not me. After all, ... I'm getting all of these circular notions from you, .... and I'm having a devil of a time putting them down into flat wordspace.
Zeus: Well, I can only reiterate the statements of Missy to Larry in such things, which they shared in a recent snailmail communication. Missy says to Larry; "Quite honestly, I did not have the courage to choose to be a rational animal. Rationality is indeed a blessing but it is also a curse. It is a curse because it is so intriguing that rational animals individually and collectively, quite often think they can analyze, understand and then control the whole of Cosmogenesis. I chose as an intuitive angel to be an instinctive, sensate, non-rational animal. What I intuit in the Universe I communicate directly to your intuition, thus by-passing as much as possible all the labyrinthine ways of the rational intellect." Of course, the 'angel' personification is not my bag, Emile, but the bypassing of your labyrinthine explanatory rational sharing of ideas, is a freedom which is very dear to me.
Emile: Zeus, your assistance is then doubly appreciated, and I may well go ahead and send my letter-to-the editors on 'honesty' as attached. Who knows, it may meet up with an editor with a twinkle in his or her eye.
Letter to the Editor:
Ethnic Cleansing: Time to Move Beyond the Self-Righteous Bullshit
Isn't it about time to call a spadeful a spadeful? We western 'good guys' seeing ourselves as 'rescuers' of those being victimized by the evils of ethnic cleansing? Come on, let's get real. Where Milosevic would employ aggressive actions to exclude physical ethnics, we of the 'Western Powers' are using aggressive resource-starving non-actions to exclude ethnic thought and behavior. Where Milosevic would seize and occupy lands, we are seizing and occupying minds.
It's slower and more subtle, but just as painful and even more 'terminal' than its Milosevician counterpart. And if the tactics of a Milosevic or a Sadam Hussein look more savage than those of the west, perhaps this is because we who have a monopoly on resources can do our violence by means of aggressive 'non-action' rather than by aggressive action. Just ask the non-mainstream youth of today, ... whose depression, alcohol/drug abuse and suicide rates are skyrocketing, ... they will tell you that the only means the establishment will make available to them to support the pursuit of their aspirations, flies in the face of their aspirations. Many of them would rather die than join the 'people as means, wealth as ends' society they have been born into, ... with its win/lose ethic oriented to the sovereignty of reason and accumulation of material property. In order to be able to support the life they want to live, it seems they must abandon it, ... must check their natural ontogeny at establishment entry portals as they join the workforce, ... a 'catch 22' which is felt just as strongly at the scale of nations as it is at the scale of individuals.
As the multi-century ethnic cleansing of the Americas attains its final stages, the exclusionary logic of a rationalist culture can pride itself in having cultivated a very homogeneous state of political correctness, having occupied the minds and lands of the indigenous minority and purged them of age-old aspirations. This mind-cleansing approach has taken more time and patience than a simplistic physical rounding up and pushing out (or burning) of all those who have argued for a different way, but its effectiveness cannot be denied. A people and their enthnicity are defined by cultural aspirations and occupying their minds can be more final than occupying their lands; i.e. a policy of exterminating heresy is more final than a policy of displacing heretics.
Clearly, the redman does not embrace the same absolutist views as the invading whites, who do not question their ability to know what is 'good' and what 'evil'. In fact, this western notion of absolute 'good' and absolute 'evil' is the root source of ethnic cleansing. Meanwhile, the redman, like the Celt and the Buddhist, see good-bad as a simultaneous duality naturally occurring in all things. As the Pawnee 'Eagle Chief' (Letakos-Lesa) said; "All things in the world are two. In our minds we are two, good and evil. With our eyes we see two things, things that are fair and things that are ugly.... We have the right hand that strikes and makes for evil, and we have the left hand full of kindness, near the heart. One foot may lead us to an evil way, the other foot may lead us to a good. So are all things two, all two. "
As in modern physics, but not in western culture, opposites are seen as mutually defining, rather than as absolute. To try to perform ethic cleansing on natural, mutually defining opposition so as to work towards a world populated only by 'south poles' is the (un)natural analogy to the insane pursuit of purification on the basis of innate good. What the youth, redman, Iraqi and Serb see as 'good' is far from consistent with what the western establishment see as 'good'.
Our unquestioning belief in the goodness and infallibility of our 'sovereign reason' is under intensifying attack even as we persist in it, in our handling of problems in Iraq and Kosovo. Not only the redman, but 'our own' psychologists like R. D. Laing and philosophers such as Michel Foucault would say that our vantage point of 'normality' is madness, ... we have got things upside down; "It is not by confining one's neighbours that one is convinced of one's own sanity. ... We have yet to write the history of that other form of madness, by which men, in an act of sovereign reason, confine their neighbours, and communicate and recognize each other through the merciless language of non-madness." In other words, what we accept as 'normality' and try to impose on others, is the 'madness' of seeing ourselves as alienated from each other and nature.
That the redman sees white ideas on 'sovereignty' as madness is clear, since a 'nation', to him, refers to a people-collective rather than to sovereign ownership of land; "Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children." And neither was the redman's concept of freedom referenced to absolutist or 'sovereign' views, as Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce made clear; "Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade....where I choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to think and talk and act for myself.". In the place of the white man's sovereign ownership and control, was the notion of 'sharing' as is evident in Chief Maquinna of the Nootkas' comment at the time of his first seeing a white man's Bank; "we have no such bank; when we have plenty of money or blankets, we give them away to other chiefs and people, and by and by they return them with interest, and our hearts feel good. Our way of giving is our bank."
The current resurgence of many of these aboriginal ethnic themes, in terms of 'bioregionalism', 'resilient communities', homeschooling, etc. represents a return to seeing 'community' as a means of people development rather than seeing community as a medium for exploiting a strategy of 'people as means, wealth as ends' and putting community into dependencies on out-of-control multinationals and a global economy increasingly termed 'global casino'. Since the redman's ethnicity was characterized by his non-absolutist beliefs in sharing and in his non-judgemental respect for diversity, and since the white man's monopolization of resources and aggressive cultural compliance-extorting withholding tactics prevented the continuing practice of these beliefs, .... such actions, by whatever name one cares to apply, would seem to constitute 'ethnic cleansing'.
What does this have to do with NATO policy on Kosovo? As Michel Chossudovosky, Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa implied some time ago, the ethnic cleansing we are seeing in Kosovo is the evolutionary result of western ethnic cleansing of the economic 'non-action' variety, ... keeping the door open to the concentrating of ownership based on 'people as means and wealth as ends'. Chossudovosky says; "But through their domination of the global financial system, the Western powers, pursuing their collective and individual "strategic interests" helped from the beginning of the 1980s, bring the Yugoslav economy to its knees, contributing to stirring simmering ethnic and social conflicts. Now, the efforts of the international financial community are channelled towards "helping Yugoslavia's war-ravaged successor states". Yet while the World's attention is focused on troop movements and cease fires, creditors and international financial institutions are busy at work collecting former Yugoslavia's external debt, while transforming the Balkans into a safe-haven for free enterprise."
More recently (April 7th, 1999), Chossudovosky asserts that; "The fate of Kosovo had already been carefully laid out prior to the signing of the 1995 Dayton agreement. NATO had entered an unwholesome "marriage of convenience" with the mafia. "Freedom fighters" were put in place, the narcotics trade enabled Washington and Bonn to "finance the Kosovo conflict" with the ultimate objective of destabilising the Belgrade government and fully recolonising the Balkans. The destruction of an entire country is the outcome. Western governments which participated in the NATO operation bear a heavy burden of responsibility in the deaths of civilians, the impoverishment of both the ethnic Albanian and Serbian populations and the plight of those who were brutally uprooted from towns and villages in Kosovo as a result of the bombings."
Even if Chossudovosky's allegations of western non-action due to the narcotics mafia being aligned 'on our side' are not fully supported, there is a familiar ring here, reminiscent of a Leonard Cohen song, " ... 'everybody knows' that the boat is leaking, ... everybody knows the Captain lied, ... ... everybody knows the deal is rotten: 'old black Joe's still picking cotton for your ribbons and bows', ... everybody knows, ... that's how it goes'.
As the Kosovo region and others are forcibly returned to 'normality', they will rejoin the free global economy, extending the resource medium which serves the concentrating of ownership of wealth. But as the historian Arnold Toynbee said, concentration of ownership has led to the failure of twenty-one past civilizations, and as is conceded by economists, the concentrating of ownership is running rampant in our today's society.
So let's call a spadeful a spadeful, ... the 'game' of ethnic purification can be played by establishing ownership of either lands or minds or by a combination thereof (e.g. ransoming land and wealth against ethnic compliance). The affluent can afford to play the more subtle game of withholding of resources and membership privileges to shanghai the aspirations of 'politically incorrect' cultural strains, such as the redman, the ecological-thinking youth of today, .. the have-not nations who would return to their indigenous philosophies, etc. That 'withholding' leaves no 'causal trail', ... is a handy feature, since our western justice system considers only what 'we do' and not what 'we don't do'. Our humble brothers, having nothing to withhold, can only resort to a crude savagery when sufficiently provoked by the violence of a coordinated ethnic-compliance-extorting withholding. And indeed the aboriginal myth describes this situation rather well, ... the hard, haughty brother who monopolizes all the fresh water resources in the world and withholds them from the domain of the humble brother until all the creatures of the humble brother's world begin to starve and die, ... with the result that the humble brother must assert himself and become actively violent to redress his haughty brother's passive violence.
In the case of the redman and today's youth, their relatively limited numbers have allowed only for rebel gangs which have been an annoyance rather than a threat to the continued ethnic cleansing tactics of the western culture. But as the 'haves' and 'have-not' sectors continue to diverge, we can expect to see the growth of conflict and the growth of occupational forces needed to preserve the 'peace'; i.e. to preserve global access for those who would practice the western philosophy of sovereign ownership and the concentrating of wealth by a 'people as means, wealth as ends' strategy.
The first step on the path of rejection of this insane normality and a return to a harmony of global whole-and-part, would seem to be to 'get honest' about how our western 'normality' has already 'touched' the former Yugoslavia, and just what kind of 'normality' we will be imposing on Kosovo and region when we put our 'peace-keeping' troops on the ground there; ... a normality which is breeding an intensifying divergence between 'haves' and 'have-nots', ... a normality which is experiencing exponential growth of depression, alcohol and drug addiction and suicide, ... a normality in which business strip-mines and culls human resources with impunity, ... a normality which never thinks to question the 'goodness' of its own subjectivity as it looks out on the world and judges what 'bad' 'out there' must be excised.
It is surely time to become larger than our judgements, ... to own up to the self-righteous bullshit we serve up to the world on the political front, and to the ethnic cleansing we continue to pursue within our own domicile, under the banners of 'political correctness' and regional sovereignty.
Epilogue to 'Intermogular Space-Time Travel'
Montreal, April 11, 1999
The 'intermogular' essay, like all of my essays, aimed to share a perspective on certain systemic aspects of 'community as a complex system' in a narrative format, ... and this inevitably hits up against 'the limits of language', ... not to mention the limits of this writer's skills.
The 'perspective' is a general geometric 'finding' which I am trying to share and it is rather simple, but its potential ramifications on community behavior, given its validity, are significant. The proposition is simply this; ... in our western culture, when we are trying to understand serious issues, we lock ourselves in to the voyeur view and this means that we do not question our own subjectivity, ... where 'we are coming from', ... which continues to evolve over time with our cultural experience. At the same time, the subjectivity of others will be evolving differently based on their different experience, and this difference can be a very marked difference across different cultures (east, west, youth, age, 'first world', 'third world'). Because the voyeur view representation is innately 'incomplete', as described by Donald Kunze and others, it is not only possible but highly likely that the subjectivity of people in different cultures, as they look out upon the 'same' reality, will yield different interpretations.
Now, the implication of relativity theory is that there can be no 'absolutely correct' subjectivity, since in a continous flow, observers will in general be undergoing space-time motion with respect to what they are observing and the space-time regions they have sensory access to will also be limited in different ways for each observer. Thus different observers will not only begin their interpretations from differing experiential datasets, they may also include or exclude information depending on their experiential (including cultural) conditioning as to the selection of the most 'important' or salient features in their perceptual field.
Now if we have two observers, ... let's say that one is a citizen of one of the western powers, and the other is a citizen of Serbia, and they refuse to question their own subjectivity, as is the common situation, ... then this can lead to a form of autism, since each fully believes that his voyeur perception based world is 'the true world'. Furthermore, as pointed out in the 'intermogular' essay, it is our philosophical heritage in the west, of Parmenides, Aristotle, and Euclidian space, .... which informs us that we are fully capable of perceiving 'absolutes', such as absolute 'truth' and absolute 'falsehood' and it is a short step from there to believing that we can perceive absolute 'good' and absolute 'bad', and we equally encouraged in this belief in our culture.
While this western, absolutist philosophy flies in the face of relativity, ... it can be anchored to the religious belief of 'creationism', as opposed to 'evolution', e.g. to fundamentalist interpretations or to, for example, the evolutionary 'Cosmogenesis' of Teilhard de Chardin, or the 'harmonic geometry' of Kepler etc.
It's important to note, that this unquestioned subjectivity, in the case of two observers and two different subjectivities, ... does not mean that 'one of the two is wrong' since there are a multitude of different ways to perceive the same reality and our perception, as Varela observes, is based on sensory participation and interpretation which borrows from prior experience. A simple example of the ambiguity occurs in interfamily feuds (e.g. Hatfields and McCoys) where you always have the option of going back far just far enough in time so that there is a surfeit of abuses inflicted upon you relative to those you afflicted on them.
A useful way to think about our unquestioned subjectivity, or 'where we are coming from' is to equate it to our 'normality' and our 'normality' is a moving target or 'trajectory' since normality is a statistical mean which evolves over time; e.g. our 1950's normality is not the same as our 1990's normality. So our subjective defining of 'problems' implies a departure from an assumed 'normality' which is neither defined nor brought into and included in the problem space; i.e. we look forward to the restoration of Kosovo back to 'normality' without mentally assessing the quality or relevance of our 'normality'. And the Serb undoubtedly is thinking in terms of restoring a rather different 'normality' to the region, which he does not question either.
If you accept the reasoning to this point, it becomes clear that both the Serb's and the Western powers may be suffering from 'autism', in the Vygotskyan sense of it, ... i.e. both are living in different worlds wherein the 'truthfulness' of the world is established by one's emotional needs. The Serb may reference the current situation back to pre-Tito times which we know nothing about, for example, and we may reference it to our ('current') absolutist cultural standards of 'good' and 'bad' which totally ignore, for example, the recent economic exploitation of the region by our financial institutions.
This leaves our rationalization of the aggressive action we apply to bring the situation back to our notion of 'normality' resting on the mental argument that while we may have our faults, their current actions are far 'worse' and must be stopped. One of the problems here, as Michel Chossudovosky reminds us, is that the Western powers have the weapon of economics and it is used both overtly and covertly; e.g. on the overt side, "But through their domination of the global financial system, the Western powers, pursuing their collective and individual "strategic interests" helped from the beginning of the 1980s, bring the Yugoslav economy to its knees, contributing to stirring simmering ethnic and social conflicts.", .... and on the covert side; ".. NATO had entered an unwholesome "marriage of convenience" with the mafia. "Freedom fighters" were put in place, the narcotics trade enabled Washington and Bonn to "finance the Kosovo conflict" with the ultimate objective of destabilising the Belgrade government and fully recolonising the Balkans." Pick your poison, ... subtle and slow acting or blatant and brusque.
Whether the allegations of Chossoduvosky are factual or not, is not necessarily relevant to our problem of autism. All that counts is that these allegations are believed by the Serbs, and there will be historically-similar cases which will seem to back up their argument. The geometry (but not the severity) of this situation is the same as the geometry of the dispute between anglophones and francophones here in Quebec. The dominant power base of anglophone Canada 'bullies' the francophone minority in overt and covert non-actions; e.g. where a blind eye is turned to unfair activities of third parties. And the response by the 'underdog' is the same in both cases, ... to try to intensify sovereignty so that action can be taken against double agents or heretics, via direct internal actions or external alliances (again, I am speaking of 'geometry' as opposed to severity).
Sadly, as the anthropologist Jules Henry has pointed out, there is rampant dishonesty in the western system, ... "Were honesty --- the representation of things as they are rather than as we would have them be --- to become a habit, it would threaten the very foundations of Western civilization." This state of affairs, illustrated with a personal anecdote on an HQ planning assignment in the 'intermogular' essay, is particularly troublesome in exposing the 'non-action' type of aggression in the economic domain which can frustrate and anger youth, exploited workers and 'have-not' nations alike.
To sum to this point, this background was not to drone on about the ills of our civilization, but to provide a retrospective on the 'intermogular' essay in the context of 'community as a complex system' as a lead-in to ideas on how to transcend this problem of 'subjectivity lock-in', the source of 'community as autistic collective'.
If we can find a way around 'subjectivity lock-in', the source of autistic terrorism, we stand a chance to resolve strife harmonically, rather than dissonantly.
Since this is a key point in this discussion, let's take a little closer look at the facts, ... at ourselves as we look out at 'badness' in Kosovo and from our compassion try to embrace the peoples of this region and return things to 'normality', .... OUR normality, how do we feel, emotionally, about our normality? .... what is the unquestioned image which 'stands behind' our outstretched arms to our brothers and sisters in need? After all, as we look out to embrace them in voyeur mode, all we can see of ourselves is the tips of our fingers as we reach towards them. And even though we might concede that our system has become a 'bitch', ... it is 'our bitch', right? ... and chances are that we still see or feel our 'self' which reaches out to them, in a kind of marilyn monroe and mother and apple-pie kind of imagery.
But what will this virtual image of our subjectivity look like from 'the other side', ... from outside of the culture? Well, we do not contest the fact that ownership is concentrating at an exponential rate in our culture and in the world, because of the dominance of our openly wealth concentration cultural ethic. There is no argument on this from our 'experts'. For example, Edward Wolff, of New York University points out (1997) that wealth follows earnings and that the inequality of wealth in the US stands at a sixty-three year high; "The top 1 percent controls 42 percent of the nation's household assets and fifty percent of its financial assets such as stocks and bonds."
In looking at the upcoming generation, Harvard based studies report that suicide rates have quadrupled for US children and teens over the past 45 years, and the incidence of serious depression before age 20 has risen tenfold from 2 percent to 23 percent over the past 30 years, a condition that associates, in turn, with three to four times the likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse.
In 'Culture Against Man', the anthropologist Jules Henry cites a further long list of dysfunctions, the dishonesty of our sexuality being a prime example, ... the huge industry associated with making women more sexually enticing to men, ... but not to entice them for the purpose of having sex but because sexual enticement is a powerful attractor which can be put in the service of satisfying all manner of needs, emotional, financial, etc. And together with the animosity felt by woman towards men who simply and bluntly want to exploit them for sex, ... a very dysfunctional situation emerges. Once again, pick your poison, ... seductive enticement and slow draining or 'wham bam, thank you ma'am'. And wherever there is large scale dysfunction, there is a large scale business opportunity and this is as true in the case of depression (the drug business) as it is in the case of sex (clothing, cosmetics, body enhancements, pornography etc.).
We need not look even as far as to those of another culture to give us a 'mirror reading' on how 'we are looking' as a culture, but can ask our own youth. As Ernest Becker says in his Pulitzer prize winning 'The Denial of Death', "The crisis of modern society is precisely that the youth no longer feel heroic in the plan for action that their culture has set up. They don't believe it is empirically true to the problems of their lives and times. We are living a crisis of heroism that reaches into every aspect of our social life: the dropouts of university heroism; the rise of the anti-heroes, those who would be heroic each in his own way or like Charles Manson with his special 'family', those whose tormented heroics lash out at the system that itself has ceased to represent agreed heroism. The great perplexity of our time, the churning of our age, is that the youth have sensed --- for better or for worse --- a great social-historical truth: that just as there are useless self-sacrifices in unjust wars, so too is there an ignoble heroics of whole societies; it can be the viciously destructive heroics of Hitler's Germany or the plain debasing and silly heroics of the acquisition and display of consumer goods, the piling up of money and privileges that now characterizes whole ways of life, capitalist and Soviet."
I met a young person in a writer's workshop here in Montreal, now in his late twenties, who comes from a very 'successful' family, went into the business establishment, was very successful, couldn't stand the dishonesty, and is just now back from teaching english in Japan and living in India for a year. He is now studying art and cartoons, and trying to capture the thoughts of youth in our culture. In his cartoons, the elders are portrayed as Zombies who are in battle with the youth, ... the zombie's are always saturated with drugs, ... not for the purpose of finding some new transcendent mindstate as drugs are often used by youth, but drugs which allow them to endure their own self-contaminated existing circumstance, and to defend it against change. In the cartoons, the youth kill the zombies as if they were a blight on the environment. This budding cartoonist is in no way misanthropic, he is trying to capture and caricature real emotions and perspectives in our culture so that we can act on reality instead of persisting in a state of denial.
I could go on, ... but my point here is not to run down our culture, ... it is simply to try to develop understanding at the root of its autism and dysfunction, and here we can see, that as we reach out to embrace the troubled people of the former Yugoslav region and bring them back to 'normality', while we may implicitly 'feel' like marilyn monroe, motherhood and apple pie, .... we more likely look like a syphilitic whore to those outside (and many inside) of our culture. And is it any wonder that, given this imagery, Yeltsin, coming from the same fixed subjectivity, would rattle the nukes as we who have just reduced the ruble to rubble push our pustulent presence further into the face of eastern europe, in the self-declared guise of 'rescuer'?
We need to break the stranglehold of our own unquestioned subjectivity, but how?
'Subjectivity lock-in' corresponds to the 'voyeur' view, while subjectivity 'float' corresponds to the immersed view. We can think of this in terms of skiing moguls, where the skier may initially reference himself to 'mogular space' based on a euclidian coordinate grid; i.e. he may think in terms of his own rectangular coordinates relative to the coordinates of the moguls, ... but later, as he becomes less fearful and more confident, tune in to 'intermogular space-time' where his center of motion is his new origin and he is sensing the relativity between his floating 'center' and reciprocal mogul space (intermogular space-time); i.e. the non-material, relational channels which lead through and out of the moguls.
I can give an example of this from my own experience. I am not a good skier and each time I go back to the mountains, I have to 'relearn' how to navigate the moguls. If the moguls are on a steep slope, on my initial encounter I feel fear, ... each mogul stands before me as an enormously threatening obstacle, ... and if draped with a fresh blanket of powder snow of unknown thickness, .... the terror of hidden mogular treachery lurking just beneath the deceptively peaceful surface pierces my gut, .... and is as unsettling as a dive into an artificial lake where one catches blurred glimpses of a murdered forest topography below, or maybe even receives a revengeful scratch from upwards-reaching limbs of rotting tree-corpses.
It happens the same way, each time, ... I carefully survey and pick my way through the moguls, finding the combination of the gentlest incline coupled with the smallest moguls, but still, I fall and fall again, .... and the frustration builds, and then anger, and then finally, .... I am so mad that I get up and pole off down into the moguls without hardly looking where I am going and certaining not pausing for my topographic surveying routine, ... and instead I allow myself to be defined by the topography in which I am immersed, ... and if the intermogular channels tell me to wiggle, i wiggle with them as co-resonantly as I can.
This change in perception is not a simple linear progression, ... it is a flip into reciprocal space-time, ... an archetypical transformation which has a common geometry with Kepler's 'archetype' of harmony and structure embodied in the system of sun and planets. It is one and the same transformation as the quantum duality flip from 'wave interference' perception to 'particle behavior' perception. It is a flip from 'rational voyeur' mode to 'intuitive immersed' mode, and it generally involves breaking through an envelope of fear. As Jules Henry, Ernest Becker, David Bohm and others point out, we stay stuck in our dysfunction because of fear, ... our mind will naturally avoid things which elicit fear in us, ... and non-politically correct heresies elicit fear. As in my HQ planning anecdote, ... it is ok to be honest in private, but the system is built on dishonesty, and the serious whistle blower will most surely be punished.
So we can cook up effort after effort to 'fix problems' in the culture and outside of it, but if the problems stem from the perpetuation of false views coming from an unquestioned subjectivity, we are spinning our wheels and digging the ruts deeper. We need to understand the relationship of subjectivity and objectivity and how to safely let it flex as we 'navigate complexity'.
Since Kepler's sun and planets archetype, which speak to the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity and the fixed subjectivity or 'voyeur' perception relative to the floating subjectivity or 'immersed' perception, has been much discussed in prior essays, we can dig in a bit deeper, or at least broaden the discussion, via the comments of Bergson, Varela and Schroedinger, as cited in my recent letter-to-the-editor of *Complexity*;
The manifest 'relativistic' nature of subjectivity and objectivity in complex social systems has been described by Bergson in terms of there being "two profoundly different ways of knowing a thing. ... the first one implies that we move round the object; the second that we enter into it", ... by Varela in terms of fractal circularity, ... "Tradition would have it that experience is either a subjective or an objective affair, that the world is there and that we either see it as it is or we see it through our subjectivity. However, when we follow the guiding thread of circularity and its natural history, we may look at that quandary from a different perspective; that of PARTICIPATION and INTERPRETATION where the subject and the object are inseparably meshed.", and Erwin Schroedinger in terms of there being "... an unavoidable and uncontrollable impression from the side of the SUBJECT onto the OBJECT ... "What remains doubtful to me is only just this: whether it is adequate to term one of the two physically interacting systems the 'subject'. ... FOR THE OBSERVING MIND IS NOT A PHYSICAL SYSTEM, IT CANNOT INTERACT WITH ANY PHYSICAL SYSTEM. And it might be better to reserve the term 'subject' for the observing mind."
All three of the above statements point to the mutual ambiguity (relativistic ambiguity) between the subject and the object; ... the Bergson quote being similar to the Keplerian view of the voyeur and immersed space-time perceptual options, ... the Varela quote showing how space-time wraps around on itself through our 'center', much as Kepler described the 'emanations' coming through the center of the sun go out to the planets and wrap back around and in through the sun, in a geometry reminiscent of a magnetic field, ... and the Schroedinger quote shows how, logically, we cannot fix our subjectivity to the coordinates of our body, but they are somehow free to roam around.
One needn't think in mystical terms about this roaming around of the center of our subjectivity; i.e. that would be mixing metaphors, since mysticism 'objectifies the imaginary' which seems oxymoronic. One can equally think of a floating subject in mathematical terms (curved space) or in the simple terms of our experience. That is, we accept the fact that we have the capacity for imagination, and that we can and do imagine ourselves in our own viewplane. When we think back to childhood memories, we typically see a picture of ourselves in our own viewplane --- 'field memory' as opposed to 'observer memory', as it is called in psychology. Psychologists note that 'field memory' (immersed space memory) is associated with more emotion than is 'observer memory' (voyeur memory). Thus, an 'out of body' experience does not have to conjure up the idea of an invisible spirit roaming around, an oxymoronic 'imaginary object', .... it can instead simply assume that our 'self' or 'subjectivity' is 'of the ether' rather than being 'of matter', as Schroedinger says is consistent with quantum physics.
There is an important point here, .... and that is that if we could 'let go' of our fixed subjectivity when dealing with 'hot' issues such as Iraq or Kosovo, ... we could fly around and look at ourselves, so to speak, even as we debated and engaged with 'the enemy'. Interestingly, Goedel's theorem on the innate incompleteness of finite logical systems is often expressed in exactly these terms, i.e. that finite systems of logic cannot stand on their own shoulders and look down upon themselves engaging with their environment; i.e. logic (exclusionary or Aristotelian logic) is incapable of the 'immersed view'.
So if logic doesn't give us this view, what does?
Inclusionary logic, or 'fuzzy logic' is something we use all the time, and we often refer to it as 'intuition' although in this case, the 'intuition' is of a nature which is beyond judgement and therefore beyond culture, .... 'pre-cultural' or 'pre-conceptual' you might say. So if we use the word 'intuition', we must be clear that it is not the 'intuition' which comes from acculturation; i.e. if I see a guy coming down the street in a red cape with a pitchfork and horns growing out of his head, the 'intuition' that gives me goosebumps and tells me to get the hell out of there is an 'acculturated intuition' and not the 'intuition' associated with inclusionary logic. Using inclusionary logic, I bring into connection in my mind a multitude of real or imaginary experiences and my understanding is a tacit understanding of the ordering principles inherent in the bringing into connection of these experiences. For example, when I see the guy in the red cape, I could also connect this with the fact that it's evening, that its the end of October and that some great party people live up the street in the direction he's walking. In logical systems (normal logic), the elements of a proposition are exclusive and do not overlap, ...here I am assuming overlap, and trying to find the ordering principle/s which make sense of the overlap.
As the man gets closer, I see he has a red nose of a drinker, ... and I imagine him with a drink in his hand, laughing and joking, and then, ... as if the addition of a single grain of sand has caused an avalanche in the sandpile of my mind, ... all of the experiences are brought into confluence. My understanding of what is going on is 'tacit' and extended in space-time; i.e. I envisage a space-time story or scenario. Now if I had instead captured the guy and shipped him off to the lab for analysis, they could not have discovered anything in that analysis which gave me that same understanding. The meaning was not innate in the 'thing' and out of the context of time, but was a tacit or space-time relational meaning assembled from my experiences. In essence, to get to my understanding of the man in the red cape, ... I went into shared space with him, instead of looking at him in voyeur mode, and I had to stop voyeurizing him to do this, ... my frown transformed into a smile as I thought of him partying in this weird get up.
Could I think of Milosevic and company, the murdering butchers, in such a beyond-judgement way? No way!, .?!... or is it that I stop myself as soon as such a thought comes to mind, ... perhaps I am afraid of letting go of my subjectivity to the point that I see Milosevic and myself trading jokes at a cocktail party. Perhaps I would disgust myself at being so disloyal to my code of ethics and morality, if I were to let go like that. After all, we should not associate gladly with murderers because it would be taken as a sign of acceptance of them and what they have done, ... wouldn't it be? After all, I am coming from marilyn monroe, motherhood and apple pie. It might be different if I were a syphilitic whore who starved third world babies, ... then I would have no purity to protect from contamination by association.
Clearly, a refusal to 'let go' of our unquestioned subjectivity; i.e. our persisting in 'voyeur mode', stops us from evolving and polarizes us against those whose experience is unlike our own, while a letting go of subjectivity and letting ourselves enter into immersed mode allows us to refocus our perceptions, ... from a field of obstacles, to a flow in which we and others are doing a creative dance into the not yet, to rhythms coming from our harmonic interplay with our immersing environment where we allow our 'selves' to be shaped by others and our environment instead of imposing our imperialist story on them.
Linguistically, there are techniques for 'unlocking our subjectivity' in areas where our fear is relatively low (literature and films) and seeing a much richer and deeper reality as a result. In this case, we call it 'suspension of disbelief' and it is Donald Kunze's topic in his March, 1999 essay 'Kats, Heroes, Brides, and Other Native Speakers of the Language of Boundaries' at 'http://art3idea.ce.psu.edu/yale/default.html
Somehow, we need to find mechanisms to 'suspend disbelief' even in fearful areas such as intercultural disputes, so that we can 'become larger than our judgements' and avoid intensifying the polarisation of subjectivity differences. The key is to invite the reader into the immersed state, ... inside the story, so to speak, so that he will be 'used' by the story, and not simply stay outside the story where he 'uses it' like a voyeur, .. a 'parasite of the visible'.
As in Kunze's essay, it seems that some unquestioned 'rules must be broken', and the reader must suspend his rejection of these rules being broken. This sets up a 'double crossing' of a boundary so that we are in both places at the same time (see 'Kat's Heroes, ...'). That is, a character in a story may be not as he should be (a mouse which chases cats); i.e. representing a 'disbelief', but one which we could 'live with' (suspend our disbelief) and thus listen in to something which we otherwise would filter out. In Peter Pan, we see a person who refuses to grow up so they live in a dream world of things which please children and when we suspend our disbelief, we join them in this immersed childhood like space, ... and when tinker bell is dying, and the only way to save her is to believe in her, and Peter turns and confronts us, the audience, and says to us --- 'do you believe in fairies?', ... it induces a huge emotional response in us to blurt out 'yes' in support.
Now if it was an empathetic play about Fidel Castro, ... it would be tough to bring US audiences into a story-immersion state, ... less tough for Canadians, British or French, and easy for Russians, .... but without letting-go of our subjectivity, there will clearly be much valid information and insight which we will never allow ourselves to get to. Nevertheless, someone was commenting that a recent movie on a paedophile, was very successful in bringing audiences into an immersed empathetic state, and while it was disturbing to 'go inside', it was nevertheless a humanizing experience.
As in the mogul skiing example, the film examples, and in the sexual allusions or other political incorrectnesses of Emile, ... one's voyeur mode of listening-in keep's leading one into a battered, to the point that one either takes off one's skies and walk away, or take off one's cultural clothes and step in, ... through the boundary. And as Donald Kunze points out, it is not a case of either or, but one of inclusion where we can be in both places at the same time, ... it is a process where our subjectivity may be evolved by the experiencing of multiple other subjectivities.
In summary, to reiterate my statement in the beginning of this epilogue; "The 'intermogular' essay, like most, aimed to share a perspective on certain systemic aspects of 'community as a complex system' in a narrative format, ... and this inevitably hits up against 'the limits of language', ... not to mention the limits of this writer's skills."
The point is that normal language in logically structured mode does not have the capacity (as implicitly proved by Goedel's theorem) to take the reader into 'immersed mode' where he can let go of his subjectivity and go naked (pre-culture) for a while, letting his subjectivity float with the topography of the storyline. So while no amount of logical language may convince you to believe in fairies, ... the language of 'Peter Pan', ... lets you go to a place where you can learn what it feels like to believe in fairies. It can let you be in two places at one time, .. and to 'become larger than your judgement'.
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