Montreal, May 24, 1999
Zeus: ... I can see from your word usage that you've been doing your 'Rolling Stone' homework again, ... but you know, Emile, just because the kids tell you that your articulation of ideas needs to swing a little more, in order to be 'heard' in their circles, .... that doesn't mean that we should opt for gratuitous profanity.
Emile: Zeus, ... I'd say you're being a mite judgemental, ... you may have tuned in to a dissonant note or two, but you haven't yet heard the full measure of what I've got to say, and when you have, ... you may well agree that my choice of words is anything but gratuitous profanity. But you're right, ... I was indeed reading Rolling Stone again, ... an old October '98 edition I had been 'studying', and I flipped it open and the first thing that struck my eye under the title 'Wu World Order' was ... "Bobby's a motherfucker that's down for the bullshit". Bobby Digital is the 'alter ego' to RZA, ... sounds like a 'two-in-one' partnership with a geometry like ours for communicating in 'immersed' story-voice. But that's not my point, ... my point is that the word 'motherfucker' rang a bell with me yet again, ... having come to mind in the course of writing my note in *Complexity* which entitled 'Consilience and Strange Loops'. It struck me that there was an unnatural inversion in how we perceive the parent-child relationship in our scientific culture, .... but I was probably doing well to get the 'Strange Loop' title through the mill, ... and the thought never even entered my head, ... until later, to have tried something like; "Consilience, ... a motherfucker that's down for the bullshit", ... well, you catch my drift.
Zeus: Maybe you should run this stuff by the kids in the bar and see what they think, ... you could be screwing up communications on all fronts, ... with the older crowd for their allergy to sexually offensive 'taboo' words, ... and with the younger crowd because your usage isn't that spontaneous and has an aroma of oldwhitefart poseur.
Emile: My 'cover' may be oldwhitefartish, ... and I admit that I am a bit crotchety in transitioning from a G to a D minor on the guitar, ... but what's in my heart and soul ain't oldwhitefartish, and that's the whole point. We both agree that we want to share with youth, who have definitely pulled the short straw on their bus-ride into the third millenium, and what they're telling me is that I need to morph my style of communications into something that would 'fit' into the Rolling Stone kind of paradigm. And shortly after I got that counsel, I was watching a TV program called 'Actor's Studio', ... and Sally Fields was being interviewed, and the honesty and humanity she radiated made me feel like I was on a beach in Florida, ... then they asked her 'what's your favorite cuss-word?', ... and she said 'motherfucker'. .... Zeus, ... it's only language, ... language doesn't determine who you are and what you've got inside you any more than skin colour does, ... the shock value in a linguistic stream may be simply a transport message, ... a message that is saying, ... the content you are about to receive needs to get to those closed-down places which rarely get chance to see light of day, ... to refresh and open up for growth.
Zeus: Look, man, ... we can talk the jive without getting into gratuitous obscenities, .. I still say you should go back and consult with your younger contacts in the bar, to vet what you're working on here.
Emile: I already did and they gave me my answer, ... in their vernacular, of course ... "Qui a cul a baiser ne doit pas tarder.'
Zeus: .. Which means?
Emile: ... "Don't get hung up on second-guessing the details when you have important work ahead of you."
Zeus: You see, Emile, ... youth is very capable of cutting to the quick even when immersed in great steaming clouds of bs, ... this is what must be cultivated, ... you should take a few more leaves from the book of those who gave you this counsel.
Emile: To get to the leaves, one has to first accept the book's cover, ... and anyhow, my objective is not to become 'one of the crowd', Zeus, ... opening up the linguistic style, to me, is a sign of acceptance and respect for another culture with different language traditions, ... analogous to a well-rounded burp after a good meal in Arabia, ... something which demonstrates tolerance, understanding and empathy, ... that we don't carry our own culture around with us all the time and impose it on everyone else. To me, this issue touches at the heart of our dysfunction, ... the 'absolutist' insistence on the infallibility of our own subjective views, ... of 'good' and 'bad'.
Zeus: ... let's move on, Emile, .. 'Qui a cul a baiser ne doit pas tarder', ... as the kids say, let's not get hung up on these details while we've got important work ahead of us.
Emile: Roger on that, Zeus, .... and on this guided tour into the dark inner continent of our collective western mind, let's first climb up on our cultural shoulders and look down upon ourselves to broaden our view of the origins of this word-geometry and its offensiveness, particularly with respect to other cultures who espouse a more 'yin/yang' or 'inclusionary' view of relational geometry. Dr. Youqin Wang , a Stanford researcher, has alot to say about this in his essay, 'Oedipus Lex: Some Thoughts on Swear Words and the Incest Taboo in China and the West';
Zeus: ... Wang? ... Oedipus Lex?... solly, Emir, him not going to fry, ...
Emile: I'm not 'having you on', Zeus, ... Dr. Wang's essay is an insightful examination of how 'cultural lessons' are transported differently via language, in eastern versus western cultures. Wang says;
"The common Chinese obscenity ta me de which means "(fuck) his mother," is so popular and distinctive that the renowned writer Lu Xun once jokingly claimed that, just as the peony was his country's "national flower," ta ma de should be considered the "national swear word" of China." ... "Because of the important practical and symbolic roles mothers play in all societies, it should not surprise us that Chinese and Western cultures alike provide examples of common expressions that can be used to denigrate a son by insulting his mother. However, the above Chinese and English language illustrations of this type of swearing exhibit an interesting difference in emphasis. The object of the sexual assault in both cases is indeed the mother of the accused. Yet the one having sex with the female parent in the term motherfucker is often assumed to be the person being insulted; while the perpetrator of the assault in the Chinese case of ta ma de could very easily be taken to be the person delivering the insult, and is quite definitely not supposed to be the son himself. In other words, the American obscenity suggests or at least raises the possibility of incest, even though motherfucker is not usually interpreted literally. In contrast, the "equivalent" Chinese vulgarity has nothing to do with the mother-son incest taboo, and hence is not associated with any kind of family romance or Oedipal idea. " ... "It is reasonable to suggest, however, that the small special differences one can observe on the surfaces of a pair of languages, like the tips of icebergs, may indicate more profound differences operating in the depths of the two respective cultures. "
Zeus: Now, as I remember it, ... in Greek mythology, Oedipus, the king of Thebes, killed his father and married his mother without knowing either of them were his parents. When the truth of their relationship came to light, the mother hanged herself. According to Homer, after his mother's suicide, Oedipus continued to rule Thebes until his death. Later on, the Oedipus story as recounted in Sophocles's Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Coloneus differed from Homer's account in emphasis and detail. One of the most significant differences was that, in Sophocles's version, when the truth becomes known, Oedipus blinds himself and goes into exile, haunted by an overwhelming sense of unredeemed guilt. In any case, different cultures come up with many different myths as part of their teaching/learning systems, ... so what's the issue in this case?
Emile: As the author goes on to say, ... the Chinese literature, by contrast, is filled with stories about filial love, which is kind of a reciprocal teaching/learning device to the Oedipus Rex myth; ... as Wang says; "The message of the story of Oedipus is a negative injunction: Do not do what Oedipus did! Do not commit parricide or incest! The message of these Chinese stories, on the other hand, is a positive one: Follow the examples of the filial sons! Be a filial son to your parents!" ... "The positive exemplar, when effective, inspires its audience, thus controlling primitive desires. Similarly, the negative example serves as a warning, thus repressing these impulses. "
... the point which Wang is making here, is that the Chinese story-lesson, ... like the aboriginals, ... is oriented to positive purpose, ... while the Western 'motherfucker' imagery is kind of a shadowy, problem-oriented, causal threat; i.e. while the eastern message of pursuing the purpose of filial love induces an inclusionary harmonic pull, ... the western 'threat' raises the negative imagery that incest can cause cultural cancer and be otherwise hazardous to the health. This western 'particulate' view is innately 'exclusionary', and like so many of our data points, ... ties back to the notion of a world of detached 'things' which one can either endeavor to possess, ... or to exclude. If one sees the geometry of the world, ... on the other hand, ... as 'inclusionary', it makes no sense to seek to 'exclude' or to 'possess', ... since it's all there together, like spheres within spheres, ... and the challenge is then a relational one, ... to bring out the relational harmonies and associations one desires. You remember Chief Maquinna of the Nootkas' comment on first coming across a white man's Bank?, ... he said; "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."
If you see the system as inclusionary, then you associate with the space-time whole, and the notion of 'giving away' is not seen in the absolutist terms of 'waste and squander' but simply as space-time relocation, ... the same kind of thing as Jean told us about the aboriginal view of property and 'sale', ... when the indian saw the canoe he had sold stowed and not being used, ... he felt it quite proper to redeem it and use it.
Zeus: ... Emile, .... I take your point, but we've been through this issue of the inclusionary aspect of 'purpose' which inspires one to focus on safe passages through intermogular space versus the exclusionary aspect of 'cause' which has us anguish over problems and either repress or root them out, ... so what's new, besides your hip-hop vocabulary, and an appeal to rappers and RZA/Bobby Digital fans?
Emile: .... well, ... I was thinking about Poincare's comments on nature again, in 'Science and Hypothesis', ... and how clearly he stated that the 'causal' method, with its material-behaviour oriented rules based on generalization, was incomplete when it came to dealing with things like evolution and living systems. He pointed out that the formulation of rules depended on generalizations requiring three major approximations, .... for example, that the 'things' you were talking about had to be approximatable as being all the same ('homogeneity'), relative to the phenomenon that one was interested in understanding; e.g. at the human level, in trying to understand 'community as complex system', this would amount to saying that all people behave the same towards the same stimulus, and that their behavior would repeat if the same stimulus was repeated.
Secondly, he pointed out that the system you were studying had to be assumed to be immune to ordering-influences from remote sources external to the system ('relative independence from remote parts'). By this approximation, in our example in the last essay, ... the artist's model's smile could not be assumed to be induced by the distant sound of her boyfriend's motorcycle.
And thirdly, .. Poincare pointed out that causal laws assumed that you could dig down into finer and finer detail and that somewhere down in the microscopic detail, you would eventually find the source of phenomenal effect; i.e. ... the ultimate 'cause' ('simplicity of the elementary fact'). In that same example of the artist's model, ... this would equate to an assumption that we could find a biochemical 'cause' for the model's smile.
Zeus: ... So?
Emile: The only systems which meet the causal assumptions outlined by Poincare, are 'dead' systems, ... systems which are not responding to the 'life' attractor pulling on them from 'outer space', from the containing vessel of nature in which they are immersed. Poincare made clear that other methods would have to be found for developing an understanding of systems capable of evolution. Do you not see that our denial of co-evolutionary effects between the system and its mother-container; i.e. the denial of 'completionality' and the suppression of all evolutionary mechanisms but causality leads to the notion that 'things just happen', ... and that such a notion says diddly squat about eons of cultivating harmonies of whole and part which give rise to complex ecologies such as rain forests and coral reefs, and that to deny the harmonic contribution in one's evolutionary history is the geometric equivalent of 'patricide'?
Zeus: .... eeuuuhhhh, .... ahhhh, ... no, .. 'fraid not.
Emile: Do you remember when we were writing 'The Co-Littoral Shores of Perception' (littoral.htm), when our story-voice was talking about the importance for us all to recognize and respect the ancestral content within us, ... in the same inclusionary 'sphere-englobing-sphere' geometrical sense which Laborit talks about, ... and the tacit-explicit memory structures which Daniel Schachter talks about, ... wherein we are, at the same time, ... the child we used to be and the adult we now are, ... and this consciousness is an inclusionary synthesis of the 'geological layering' of our life experiences, as Vygotsky says. What the nurse in the essay was trying to say is that we are the natural children of the continuing convolution of our ancestral material system actions (the fathering geometry) with the co-evolving environmental vessel (the mother geometry), which contains the material system, ... remember? ... when she was talking about the suicide of her patient;
" ... as the aboriginals said when we began to settle here, ... that .. "if we continued to contaminate our own bed, we would one night suffocate in our own waste." The nurse thought of how she herself was beginning to tune to the melding of modern Gaian metaphor and aboriginal myth, ... that the shape of the mountains and the oceans that we look at, ... and the air that we breathe is, literally, the breath and the bones of our ancestors, ... that we breathe in our ancestors' and our own actions as we breathe out new action, ... and that the soulful things we do are an exhalation of the ancestral soul-breath we drew in to do so. It made much sense to her, ... it was not as if our environment and history were 'just there' and we parachuted in from some non-place, charged with the task of 'improving' things. The circle of life, as she was beginning to understand it, implied that nature, our ancestral legacies and ourselves, were all part of a co-evolving space-time continuum."
Zeus: ... yes, now I remember. The respect for the parent-child hierarchy in aboriginal cultures and in the east, comes from this inclusionary yin/yang geometrical notion, ... that rather than the 'child' being a wholly new 'thing', ... it is the sphere which englobes the sphere of the ancestors, ... our fathers are inside of us, ...we are made of them in terms of both matter and mind, and by living our unique lives in a uniquely evolving environment, we subsume the past in the manner of growing a larger sphere which englobes its parent and ancestral spheres. And somehow, there is a harmony amongst and betwixt the geological layering which gives depth and wonder to our experiencing and re-experiencing of them.
And that brings to mind the contrasting, exclusionary, western notion of 'evolutionary progress', which Stephen Gould complains that most of mainstream western science still clings to and teaches in our schools, ... the false notion that we have 'evolved from the apes' in a kind of linear progression, each new 'entity-in-itself' being an improvement on the last, ... when instead, ... the child of the parent is not an 'entity-in-itself' at all, but the englobing of its parent, ... both in matter and memory, ... the outer branches on the evolutionary bush, an inclusionary sphere-englobing-sphere arrangement. Just as the eukaryotic cells englobe their ancestral 'prokaryotic' cells as organelles, and the receptor networking mechanism of the single-celled 'tetrahymena', one of the earliest forms of life, forms the basis for our evolved human 'psychosomatic' networking. As the biochemist Candace Pert says about this last discovery; "To me, this is a stunning demonstration of the unity of all life. We humans share a common heritage, the molecules of emotion, with the most modest of microscopic creatures, a one-celled being, even though evolution has caused us to develop into trillion-celled creatures of astonishing magnificence."
Emile: Yes, here we see two geometric world views in conflict, ... the one an 'inclusionary' and progressively englobing, non-euclidian view and the other, an 'exclusionary' linear succession of euclidian 'things-in-themselves'. And we may well ask ourselves 'which is correct?' ... But according to Poincare, ... whatever works best is the one to choose, because, as he says;
"Space is another framework we impose on the world. Whence are the first principles of geometry derived? Are they imposed on us by logic? Lobatschewsky, by inventing non-Euclidian geometries, has shown that this is not the case. Is space revealed to us by our senses? No; for the space revealed to us by our senses is absolutely different from the space of geometry. Is geometry derived from experience? Careful discussion will give the answer ---no! We therefore conclude that the principles of geometry are only conventions; but these conventions are not arbitrary, and if transported into another world (which I shall call the non-Euclidian world, and which I shall endeavor to describe, we shall find ourselves compelled to adopt more of them.)" ... "One geometry cannot be more true than another, it can only be more convenient. Now, Euclidian geometry is, and will remain, the most convenient: 1'st, because it is the simplest, and it is not so only because of our mental habits or because of the kind of direct intuition that we have of Euclidian space; it is the simplest in itself, just as a polynomial of the first degree is simpler than a polynomial of the second degree; 2'nd, because it sufficiently agrees with the properties of natural solids, those bodies which can compare and measure by means of our senses."
The question which must be asked, then, is NOT which geometry is CORRECT, but which one represents the most convenient way of reconciling our perceptions. Euclidian geometry, the geometry of exclusion, of detached material bodies, ... the underpinning of mainstream science, ... provides a simple and convenient basis for inquiry into a broad class of 'problems' of interest to us, ... but it clearly bogs down when we get into the domain of 'evolution', 'life', 'relativity', and 'community as complex system'.
Since we base so much on the Euclidian geometry of 'things' and 'void', ... on an exclusionary world of stand-alone 'things-in-themselves', it is vital to see, if we are to avoid dysfunction, that this is an arbitrary view, and that we cannot impose this view of space in such a way that it causes us to deny or ignore aspects of our experience which do not 'fit' this convention. For this reason, it seems important to tune in further to Poincare's discussion, for example, in speaking of 'Space and Geometry' he says;
"To sum up:
1. In the first place, we distinguish two categories of phenomena: --- The first involuntary, unaccompanied by muscular sensations, and attributed to external objects --- they are external changes; the second, of opposite character and attributed to the movements of our own body, are internal changes. [as in Laborit's englobing/englobed outer-space and inner-space].
2. We notice that certain changes of each in these categories may be corrected by a correlative change of the other category.
3. We distinguish among external changes those that have a correlative in the other category --- which we call displacements; and in the same way we distinguish among the internal changes those which have a correlative in the first category.
Thus by means of this reciprocity is defined a particular class of phenemena called displacements. 'The laws of these phenomena are the object of geometry'."
The point that Poincare seeks to make here, is that geometry is a chosen convention by which we understand the reciprocity between internal sensations and external space-time configurations. Thus euclidian geometry which would have us see things in terms of detached 'things in themselves' is immune to experimental disproof because it is a convention we have built everything on top of; i.e. we IN THE WEST have force-fitted our perceptions to this exclusionary euclidian geometric schema based on the notion of infinite and unbounded rectangular space with its parallel lines etc. The same force-fitting to a more powerful and inclusionary non-euclidian geometry is equally an option. Because these geometries are conventions, chosen for a balance between convenience and their ability to deal with the class of phenomena we are interested in, ... it makes no sense to speak in terms of 'proving' or 'disproving' whether the non-euclidian 'englobing' geometry suggested by, for example, 'ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny' is 'right' and the euclidian geometry of a linear succession of evolving 'things in themselves' is 'wrong'. What makes sense is to chose the geometry which works best for us, relative to reconciling our inner-space experience with our outer-space experience.
Poincare goes on to say in 'Experiment and Geometry', "I have on several occasions in the preceding pages tried to show how the principles of geometry are not experimental facts, and that in particular Euclid's postulate cannot be proved by experiment. However convincing the reasons already given may appear to me, I feel I must dwell upon them, because there is a profoundly false conception deeply rooted in many minds."
Zeus: Yes, ... it seems to me we keep bumping against this 'profoundly false conception' in our investigations into 'community as complex system'. Our look at the role of capitalist and communist economic systems in this context, led us to the quote by Nicolai Bukharin (1888 - 1938), which captured the geometry common to both communism and capitalism, and which was the underpinning of the halfbreed 'New Economic Policy' which persisted in use on into the administrations of Gorbachev and Deng Xsiao Ping;
"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."
Emile: This is where we are forced to put our cards on the table, and say whether we think that, or want to assume that, the 'particulate view' and causality, with its Euclidian space, linear time and exclusionary logic, ... this most simple geometry as Poincare refers to it, ... is adequate to develop an understanding of evolution, life, consciousness, or if we need more complex supporting conventions such as the 'wave view' and completionality, with its non-euclidian space-time and inclusionary logic.
That is, ... do we believe, as the easterners and aboriginals, and as articulated by Maturana and Varela, that our space-time container and its contents are 'alive' and possesses this property of consciousness, which emerges in various, progressively more complex ways and forms? Or do we believe that the universe is 'dead' and that life has somehow come out of the blue, in scattered splotches, by some process such as lightning striking the right soupy mixture of inorganic minerals? That is, do we believe that what we call 'flora' and 'fauna' is 'alive' while the soil and rock it grows out of is 'dead'? .... or do we believe that the mineral complex and everything else in nature is part of a living, evolving universe, with the degree of the complexity of the life forms varying; e.g. from a rock to a jaguar?
It is an unavoidable and obvious fact that our choice of geometric convention for space-time is of fundamental importance in inducing one or the other view and belief.
This choice of 'geometric convention', where the simple euclidian option is selected, underlies the notion of a child becoming intrinsically more powerful than its parent, .... where the evolved offspring develops, through some kind of process which science can purportedly discover, a 'life' or 'consciousness' attribute not available to its parent --- the dead inorganic landscape it was lying upon with this divine property of life came into it. This is where we choose to break or retain the notion of a natural and irreversible parent-child hierarchy with respect to nature and evolution or break with it.
Reductionist science breaks with it by arguing that we can find an independent causal explanation in all things by taking them apart, and since we believe that there is life in a plant or organism, but none in a rock, ... then clearly the evolutionary floral child becomes 'more' than the parent rock because it 'contains life' while the rock 'does not'. In other words, reductionist science sees 'life' as something which resides 'within a thing' rather than as a property of the containing nature where the living contents, ... the contained 'things' metamophose through various states of dynamical complexity.
The alternative to seeing life as something which 'resides within a thing', then, is to see nature as a living whole, which continues to evolve new and more complex forms which cycle in and out of dynamical states within the living whole. In this view, the 'child' is not seen as a detached entity but simply as an evolved state of the parents, of both the material father and the immaterial inter-thing-space mother. In generic geometrical terms, ... the mother is the 'container' (yin space which pulls) while the father is the 'content' (yang agent which pushes) while the child is the produce of the co-evolution of the yin space and its yang contents. This is not eastern mysticism (only) but a geometry which can be seen in the theory of relativity which involves, in Einstein's terms an 'ether' which contains the material contents and which participates in physical phenomenon, ... and which is characterized by both the configuration of material things within it, ... and also by the 'reciprocal disposition' or inter-thing space time configuration which influences the evolutionary dynamics of the system. In other words the notion of co-evolution of containing environment with contents comes also, and directly from modern physics. The completional 'pull' of the vessel itself associates with the non-euclidian geometry, examples of which have been described by Poincare, Feynmann and others, ... one example of which is circulation (enfolding) within a finite sphere, which can nevertheless appear to us exactly as the world appears to us right now (with our western proclivity for the euclidian assumption).
Zeus: Yes, things are beginning to resolve in my mind. What has been useful to me is to have been exposed to Poincare's point that we are influenced in our choice of geometry convention by our handling of 'displacements', and the 'convenience' of the geometric convention. I can now see, that a flat earth convention handles local displacements well and is convenient for a certain level of understanding. But when one walks in a straight line across a flat plain and then comes up upon one's own footprints from behind, as fifteenth century mariners effectively did, the old, simple convention is no longer 'convenient' and one must shift to something more complex. Understanding one's experiential 'data', or finding a geometric convention which puts one's external observations in harmony with one's internal feelings is what begs a review of the adequacy of the geometric convention used, ... however, our society seems to have forgotten that we are using an arbitrary geometric convention, ... and clings implicitly and unawarely to the Kantian viewpoint that Euclidean geometry "is the inevitable necessity of thought".
Emile: Euclidian space and causality, with its breaking out of a time as an independent linear dimension falls far short of being able to deal with inclusionary situations where there is a melding of past and present, suggestive of a space-time continuum as supported by modern physics principles. We only have to look at the inclusionary concentric sphere geometry of geophere englobed by biosphere and think of the el-nino type interplay between atmosphere and the oceans which it englobes. In this geometry, a past event, such as the upwelling of a cold or warm current, can induce an atmospheric pulse which 'pulls forth' a new behavior from the sea at a later time and another place. The sea and the atmosphere thus become an interfering melange of pulls and pushes of varying vintages. This geometry is very familiar to us since we are involved in the same sort of interplay with our environment, ... and can hardly say that what we do is 'caused' by past events, ... we are indeed 'pulled' into the future by the meaning we infuse into what we see in front of us, ... meaning that is a cocktail of things from the past.
Experiential circumstance wherein the future influences what happens in the present is scarcely supported by the geometric convention which envisages the world as an ensemble of detached things and void, ... a 'most simple convention' wherein there is no available mechanism to allow what has not yet happened; i.e. the latent or intangible or 'imaginary', to influence the evolution of the present state of the system. In our blindness to this deficiency in geometric convention, we are like the man with a hole in the back of his pants, ... everytime someone snickers, he turns arounds and looks at them, expecting to find the answer in 'outer space' instead of examining 'inner space', the inner sphere which is englobed by the outer sphere. Our society continues to deny the badly torn state of its trousers as it responds to events such as the Columbine student massacre, by having everyone looking around 'out there' in the domain of gun laws and television violence etc. for the answers. The geometry of circular flow seems everywhere denied in our society, ... the worker invests his savings to get the most aggressive returns because of the insecurity of his employment, and his investments become part of a circular flow which intensifies his insecurity by rewarding those companies which achieve greater returns by exploiting the employment base. And this brings us back to the question of whether 'life' is an isolatable 'thing' or a property of our containing nature, ... the circulation flow itself which encompasses both dormant and dynamic structural forms.
Zeus: As always occurs in these discussions, our understandings being to intertwine both religious with scientific belief. Kepler while a Christian, ... like his contemporary Giordano Bruno, ... and like Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Merton who came later, ... believed that the universe was alive, so while they shared much of the spiritual traditions of their religious order, ... they did not share a belief in the science based doctrines, nor in the notion of sudden 'creation' or appearance of 'local' life within a 'dead' universe, by divine or natural means. And of course, in the Lakota and other North American native traditions, the belief in a living natural whole is clear from native myth and teachings, and by the respect and reverence given even to a rock, as in the Lakota writing; "... unmoved ... from time without end ... you rest ... in the midst of the paths ... in the midst of the winds ... you rest ... covered with the droppings of birds ... grass growing from your feet ... your head decked with the down of birds ... you rest ... in the midst of the winds ... you wait ... Aged one."
Emile: So merely by a different choice of geometry, .... by the different choice of a 'convention' as Poincare says, ... and the naturally associating logical tools which deal with either an 'exclusionary' convention as in the rectangular convention of euclid, ... or the 'inclusionary' convention as in the spherical non-euclidian convention, ... we can come to see the world we live in, in two very different ways with respect to the 'parent - child' hierarchy. In the non-euclidian, inclusionary logic of spheres englobing spheres, we can see nature as being one evolving 'whole' encompassing all of space-time, which is like a spherical flow enfolding in on itself. As Poincare says, in his description of non-euclidian space, ... the observer may change in the same manner as his viewfield, so that we may well be enclosed within a finite spherical world which appears infinite to us, "Let us observe, in the first place, that although from the point of view of our ordinary geometry this world is finite, to its inhabitants it will appear infinite."
Richard Feynmann also gives a clear explanation of this same fact, that the curved space predicted by relativity theory could be a finite spherical region which appears infinite to us, but since we and everything and our measuring instruments may all change in such a manner to preserve the constancy of our view of things, ... we have no obvious (explicit) way of knowing, at least in terms of local 'displacements'. It is our acculturated conditioning which has our minds resist the idea of the arbitrariness of geometrical convention, ... and says that space must be 'homogeneous and isotropic', this being very convenient for the process of mathematical generalization used in the formulation of rules and laws, judgements and linear formulations which themselves have become very important trappings in our culture.
Zeus: It seems clear that we have two clear and different options for seeing 'life', the embrace of which is fundamentally influenced by our geometric convention; ... the 'living nature' option where the parts and the whole are involved in a continuing evolutionary dynamic, .... where life is a characteristic of the whole of nature itself, and evolution brings on the emergence of new and progressively more complex forms. This view sees evolution as a circular enfolding process where we 'breath in the bones of our ancestors', ... where the outer space void pulls on the inner space constituents, inviting them to adapt on the fly, ... to find their most 'co-evolutional' situations, ... to do a creative dance into the not-yet.
And on the other hand, the 'dead nature' option where 'life' is something unique, associated with independent 'things', which have evolved within the container of dead nature and resides within 'certain things', ... where life is innately distinct from the dead minerals on which it depends for nutrients etc. Where these 'children' of nature, .. plants, animals, humans, ... are seen as innately 'improved' or 'more advanced' than their inorganic parents, e.g. where humans are seen as being distinct from and 'more conscious than' the fish or the apes from which they are descended, a comparative reasoning which derives from the assumption of detachment; i.e. we would not think in terms of our tongue being more conscious than our toe, since both are seen as being co-evolutional parts of a unity.
Emile: Yes, its' easy to see what a philosophical difference this brings up, ... in the former case, ... man is a complexly enfolded aspect of the whole, the inclusionary, non-euclidian view ...while in the latter, man is a distinct and superior 'thing-in-its-own-right', the exclusionary, euclidian view. And in the first case, he sees life as an aspect of nature, the universe as a living whole, and in the second, he sees life as some causal process which resides within certain things and not others and which can be discovered by looking in great, reductionist detail, down the microscope barrel, into the inner workings of plants and organisms.
Zeus: ... and in this euclidian, exclusionary view, man will surely think he is the greatest thing on earth, a child who, instead of seeing himself as a part of his continuing ancestry, sees himself as having bettered his parents and ancestors, ... instead of seeing himself as being one of the many wonderous features of a living nature, a living synthesis of his parents and ancestors and all the other creatures and entities within the unity of nature, he sees himself as detached, alienated and alone.
Emile: And while the non-euclidian man will seek to understand life in terms of the way the world works and how all things are steered through all, ...the euclidian man will search for a magic process under a microscope which can reveal the secret laws and rules of 'life', ... an alchemy whereby life can be created where none previously existed.
It's not difficult to see this playing itself out in our culture. For example, the notion of 'consilience' in today's mainstream science turns out to be a kind of 'Euclidian' sleight of hand. Edward O. Wilson, Harvard biology professor, two time Pulitzer prize winner and unabashed champion of the reductionist mainstream in science ("The cutting edge of science is reductionism, the breaking apart of nature into its natural constituents.") has the following to say; ... "Complexity is what interests scientists in the end, not simplicity. Reductionism is the way to understand it. The love of complexity without reductionism makes art; the love of complexity with reductionism makes science." Wilson asserts and supports the projection that; "They [scientists] foresee no need for overarching grand explanations as a prerequisite for creating artificial life. An organism is a machine, and the laws of physics and chemistry, most believe, are enough to do the job, given sufficient time and research funding."
Zeus: In the inclusionary enfolded view, then, we, and all living forms are complexly enfolded aspects of the living whole of nature, ... whose prior 'enfoldings' or 'parents and ancestors' we subsume as part of our natural being. And in the exclusionary 'thing-in-itself' view, we see ourselves as unique entities which embody within us an elusive causal process called 'life' which science is seeking to unearth through reductionist analysis. Even though science recognizes that plant or animal is an open system which 'lives' by the grace of dynamical exchanges with its environment.
Emile: Yes, and here we come once again upon the adage, "a fact merely marks the point where we agree to let investigation cease", because if 'life' is a euclidian 'thing' which exists in its own right, ... if we stop our thought here, ... what meaning is there in a 'life' which does not interact with its environment, which does not seek to 'complete itself', ... which does not reproduce? Do we not take for granted all those 'co-evolutionary' realities? .... so what does it even mean to suggest that 'life' is a process in its own right?
In our choice of views, the causal view, being 'analytical backfill' ignores the circular completional pull of the vessel or containing aspect of nature, ... and sees such things as 'genetic structure', .. not in terms of a record of our enfolding, but as a collection of euclidian, causal entities, 'genes' to which we attribute an independent life of their own, a la 'the selfish gene' of Dawkins.
Zeus: But can we return to this issue of family and parentage, incest and patricide, as uncomfortable as it is, ... since it seems we might come to understand it better by reconciling these geometrical notions.
And to recap my thoughts so far, the euclidian view seems to see each new 'thing' as being stand-alone and exclusionary rather than as an 'englobed' and inclusionary entity-aspect which co-resonates and co-evolves with its environmental container much as a plasma might co-resonate and co-evolve with a spherical magnetic field which is somehow both included in it and a container to it.
The euclidian view is thus a view in which the child is seen to be a 'further optimized product' in an 'evolutionary progression', and more advanced and powerful than the parent, .... which again draws on our acculturated notion of exclusionary logic where we see 'parent' and 'child' as independent stand-alone entities, ... a view which is by convention and convenience rather than emanating from the nature of our reality. If one lived within the aboriginal cultures, meanwhile, ... one would instead choose the non-euclidian convention wherein, in speaking of 'parent' and 'child', one would see the 'child' as being the parent with an additional geological layer accreted over top of it, ... like a spherical candy made by a repetitive dipping of an initial 'seedstock' into various colours and flavors of sweet syrups which coat the growing sphere and enlarge it by building its geological layers up on top of one another. This matches our lived experience in the case of thought, memory, biological structure etc., as noted by Vygotsky, Schacter, Laborit, Pert et al, ... far better than the notion of a linear, exclusionary evolutionary progression; i.e. we are still the tetrahymena structure plus much more, ... we 'are' our parent plus more, ... we are still the child that we were in infancy, plus more. What we are faced with here in determining how to think about reality, as Poincare so well articulated, ... is with the choice of geometric convention. While euclidian space and linear time is as simple as you can get and handles local 'displacement' comprehension needs, ... it does not mesh with our life experience.
Emile: Yes, ... and it's not hard to see the different implications in terms of family. Filial respect follows rather naturally if we embrace the non-euclidian geometry and feel we are carrying our ancestors and parents around inside of us, ... and if we opt for the euclidian geometry wherein the child is a superior and more powerful 'evolutionary product' in a discrete euclidian series, which obsoletes his forebears, it is equally easy to how the notions of 'patricide' and the Oedipus geometry come into play.
Zeus: I follow you, at least on the 'patricide' issue, and this fits very well with the blatant devaluing of older people in our culture and the devaluing of age and experience in the MADness preoccupation of business, with its mergers, acquisitions and downsizings. This notion of the 'child' being 'superior to' the 'parent', .... an exemplar of 'evolutionary progress', ... rather than the child seeing itself as an 'evolved and more complexly enfolded version' of the parent, violates the natural parent-child hierarchy which the eastern and aboriginal teaching/learning systems seek to sustain.
Emile: And to Wilson, and to many in science, ... in spite of manifest and intensifying science-engendered dysfunction, one must be patient and continue to 'have faith' that the reductionist pursuit will eventually bring us the understanding of complexity that we need, .... that by studying the details of organismic life, we will come upon the basic principles which describe the behavior of the world in which we are immersed.
As one of Wilson's book reviewers, Francisco Ayala, University of California Irvine, and former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, says on the overleaf to 'Consilience', ... "Wilson's sweeping thesis is that human biology, the information encased in our genes, rules all human activities and creations of the mind, from science to ethics. Science, adds Wilson, can account for the multiform expressions of literature, art, morality, and religious life. Wilson makes his case with characteristic verve and scholarship, with prose that is typically diaphanous, effective and evocative. 'Consilience' will be disquieting to some, controversial to most, stimulating to all."
Ayala's final sentence certainly touches a nerve with me, Zeus, since this 'torn-trouser movement' and its causal principles reverberate back proudly and confidently from the highest echelons of our social control-hierarchies, ... which have the heaviest hand on the tiller of the boat we all ride in, ... that I and my grandchildren and theirs to come are riding in, not to mention 'nature' in and of which we are participant-constituents.
Do you not see, Zeus, how this view implies that science sees itself, even, ... as a linear 'evolutionary progression' wherein each new 'scientific community' sees itself as an independent child in a linear series, ... more powerful than its 'parent', .... rather than 'being' the parent augmented by an additional geological coating. By such euclidian conceptualization, the new scientist discards old understanding and experience with seeming impunity as he brings his new more powerful 'self' to bear, in dealing directly with 'mother nature'. He believes he is going to find the meaning of life down the barrel of his multidisciplinary research microscope, and when he does, he believes he is then free to burn all of his evolutionary history, his inner space layers, .... his 'father' if you like, as if all of his inner layering were intermediate calculations in the solving of an algebra problem.
Zeus: Yes, and this 'syndrome' of seeing evolved experiential history as 'disposable' is everywhere evident in our culture today, ... even though we say we are aware of the difference between 'tacit' understanding and explicit knowledge. The tacit knowledge of one who has endured war or good times can be propagated forward only through the oral tradition, by listening to the tales of our fathers and grandfathers and becoming aware of the inner-space layers of ourselves as people. When we share the explicit knowledge of people being killed in Kosovo or dying of starvation in Ethiopia, or living idyllically in an aboriginal setting,... we relate most deeply to these things via the visibly heartfelt stories which have been related to us by those close to us who have directly experienced these things, ... friends, brothers, parents, who have 'been there'. The tacit impact of the genetic history of these events reduced to explicit terms doesn't 'grab us' unless we hear it from those we would model ourselves after. But given this direct exposure, to see, feel and share in the 'lived experience'.. .it illuminates our inner-space layering, greatly influences our future behavior and preserves the rich lessons of history and allows us to continue to make use of them, to learn and evolve.
Emile: The tacit aspect of our genetic history involves the 'interference' patterns between the part and the whole. When a flower grows in the rainforest, it 'knows its place' in the scheme of things, ... with respect to its environmental container, because it has learned its place through co-evolution, ... it has co-evolved in this circular space-time flow just as the patterns of weather and sea co-evolve. Einstein speaks of the 'participation of space in physical phenomena' and the 'reciprocal disposition' of things in non-euclidian space. This 'co-evolutional' view of space is not one of an infinite emptiness where the only thing of interest is the behavior of the material 'things' within it, as in the euclidian-causal view. Instead, just as in the artist's painting, for every brushstroke, there is a reciprocal dynamic in the surrounding space, ... for the forest flower or the person, there is a reciprocal aspect involving the containing space which 'co-evolves with' the physical entity, ... there is the man and there is his dynamical relationship with the environment, ... with the times and events he experiences and co-evolves with, ... how could anyone or anything be fully specified 'in their own right', without including mention of this co-evolutionary dynamic with the environmental container?
Zeus: Yet this euclidian 'thing in its own right' view is exactly what is being done in the field of genetic engineering, ... characterizing plants and animals by physical genetic structure, out of the context of co-evolutionary history and experience, and making modifications to genetic structure on the basis of the 'thing-in-itself'. Clearly, the flower in the rainforest, the product of a harmonious co-evolutionary relationship with its environment, ... if genetically modified, will no longer possess that completionally pulled harmony. The nature of the dissonance the genetically engineered entity may engender is another story, ... an innately unpredictable unknown.
Emile: In the non-euclidian view, the harmony between the 'entity' and its 'containing space' are inseparable, because the entity is considered in the context of the whole, and not as a detached 'thing' in its own right, ... the reciprocal disposition is in innate aspect of the 'thing' itself. This is the issue with youth today, ... the western culture continues to view them 'in their own right', out of the context of their natural place in the scheme of things, a pull which they feel deeply, .... and it tries to force-fit them into a pre-determined mold which it says is 'good', and by implication, if they resist this imposition, that they are 'bad', .... a 'judgement', whether implicit or explicit, which brings on punishment, in the form of a withholding of access to resources, privileges and social recognition and respect. This is a painful and unnatural process which can and does cause great mental anguish.
Zeus: The cultural iceberg which Youqin Wang was alluding to, seems to begin to show itself here. Filial love can also be seen in terms of man and nature, and his natural desire for 'completional' embrace with his 'mother', nature. But western science has taught man that he is 'superior' to nature and that nature is for him to use. It has taught him that the reciprocal dispositional dynamic with his containing environment, extending back through his parents and ancestors and the environments within which and with which they co-evolved, is of little or no consequence. So he is implicitly taught to purge his mind of his 'fathering' over space-time, and to use his perceived superior child-status to impose himself on his 'mother', ... to put 'her' in bondage while he takes from 'her' what he needs to engender the future he craves.
Emile: .... and perhaps the unusually strong negative vibes associated with the term 'motherfucker' derive from our subliminal understanding of this Oedipal relationship with our parentage in nature. As David Bohm points out in 'Thought as a System', we pick up our images from the culture, including our sexual images; "... it [sexual imagery] is all influenced heavily by the culture, very strongly. It's all there, and we form the image. We have the image that 'I do the thinking', 'I am the thinker'. But in fact the culture has produced most of the thought. It sort of passes through me, I add a bit to it, I do this or that to it. The kind of thought we use, which is communicated, originates basically in the whole society and the culture. We have the sense of separation because our culture tells us that each individual is separate, and therefore we perceive it in that way."
Zeus: One aspect of the sexual imagery seems to be consistent across the cultures as Wang points out; "The depth of Oedipus's fear and the gruesome conclusion to the story drive home the severe guilt and terrifying consequences of killing one's father and sleeping with one's mother. ... In the Sunzi bian [filial respect story of Shun, the model son] such deeds, or even sentiments, are never mentioned. Shun respects both of his parents regardless of their behavior toward him. In short, both stories emphasize that the parent-child relationship is a set hierarchy, which all must rigidly observe in spite of any extenuating circumstances. In their stories, neither Oedipus nor Shun ever questions the rules governing the parent-child relationship. To them these rules are unalterable, even if they must pay a huge price to observe them."
Emile: Yes, I find it hard to avoid the familial imagery in the context of science and nature. The active imagining which came involuntarily to me a few months ago, of a genetically engineered tomato in the form of a woman in bondage, ... put into bondage by science, ... felt like a very resonant and fitting metaphor.
Zeus: What sticks in my mind, after all this Oedipal discussion, Emile, is the obvious conclusion that we have two clear contenders for a geometry convention with which to build our worldview, ... and that there is no theoretical basis for saying that either one or the other is correct, ... but that we instead must acknowledge that they are conventions of varying simplicity or complexity, chosen for convenience, on the basis of how well they fit our experiencing of life. And it is clear, as Poincare has shown, that we have chosen the most simple of these geometries, the euclidian geometry which fails to reconcile with much of our experience, ... our experience, instead, being more suggestive of spheres within spheres inclusionary geometry; i.e. non-euclidian geometry.
Emile: I agree with your summary Zeus, ... and I would add the inclusionary geometric notion rules out the practices of 'elimination', 'exclusion', 'purification' which abound in the western culture, .... the 'elimination of problems' being almost a way of life. In an inclusionary geometry, one must make the most of what one has, ... one must cultivate the growth of harmony of the parts with the whole.
The strong taboo of incest in the western culture would seem to arise by choice of geometric convention, ... the 'elimination' of our own ancestral content, ... by seeing ourselves in terms of a discrete evolutionary progression, where the last product in the series outdoes all prior products and is fully detached from them, ... amounts to geometric 'parricide'. And the notion that we are not connected to nature, our mother, through the intermediary of ancestral evolutionary dynamics, which we eliminate as being of no further use in view of our birth,... has us think in terms of short-circuiting the parent-child evolutionary spiral and imposing our wants directly and forcibly on our mother to engender a material 'future in its own right' out of the context of an evolutionary harmony of whole and part.
This, then, is the geometric origin of the strong Oedipal taboo in our culture.
* * *
 Youqin Wang, Stanford University, 'Oedipus Lex: Some Thoughts on Swear Words and the Incest Taboo in China and the West'
Montreal, May 28, 1999
Each time the ten year old son of a 'white' friend comes to work and learn with Jean Morel in his woodwork shop, he can only come if he doesn't take his Ritalin pill but brings it in his hand to Jean, ... who 'takes care' of it. Jean's action emerges tacitly from his upbringing by his Abenaki grandmother, but if asked, his explicit rationale is simply, 'the drug is for his teacher, not for him, ... and I don't need it.'
Jean's view is a summary-encapsulation of much of what was discussed in 'The Profane Parent-Child Geometry of Western Scientific Culture'. In our western scientific culture, our response to the emergence of complex social behavior is to look to 'experts' for 'cause' and 'solution', when this is the last place to look for guidance if one's purpose is to restore and amplify harmony in a community. This is not to suggest that expert knowledge has no value, simply that expert knowledge, and this includes summaries of expert knowledge from multiple disciplines, is not going to provide the needed insight on how to NAVIGATE within 'community as complex system'.
The reason why is rather simple in geometric terms. A 'problem' is conceptualized in our culture in terms of a 'thing', ... a substantive situation involving an ensemble of 'thing's with explicit behaviors, ... and an expert is one who knows about such 'things', and how to deal with such 'things'. But there is always something more to it than 'thing-behaviors' which is either ignored or given short shrift because, while 'things' are bounded and closed, by virtue of our defining of them, ... they are englobed by a space-time which is unbounded and open. If you think of the implications of trying to understand an open, unbounded space-time which surrounds the 'things' we define and focus on, ... you will quickly see that the rationalist, causal approach you are using to seek an understanding of the 'thing', is not going to be very practical. Because while you selected the limited salient features of the 'thing-problem' to characterize it, and make it finite and manageable, ... the open system which englobes it goes on to include all of history and all of the universe. So if one wants to account for both the 'thing' and its englobing space-time, ... one has to have eternal life and have a view of everything, ... an omniscience. This is why modern physicists (Prigogine et al) say that deterministic causality owes its validity to the assumption of 'divine perspective'.
It has been our practice in the western scientific culture to hang on to the 'thing-behavior' and 'cause' problem-solving approach, and to forget about the hairy problem of including influences emanating from the space-time sphere which englobes the 'thing - problem'. As the englobing space-time becomes more complex, this approach has been getting us into deeper and deeper trouble, ... our one-sphered interventions making 'problems' worse or hatching new ones. This incoherence or dysfunction arises from our focusing on our knowledge of the 'things' and not accounting for the co-evolutionary influences of the englobing space.
Well, we have certainly come to realize that what we have been doing doesn't work, ... and we have become suspicious of the 'expert' input into our problem-solving. Increasingly, experts, whether they are political expects, economic experts or human biochemistry experts are being seen to be impotent in resolving the type of problems we are experiencing in 'community as a complex system'.
And what is our response at the present time? .... if one expert won't fill the bill, ... let's get a whole spectrum of experts together and they'll surely be able to resolve the problem, ... looking at it from a multitude of 'thing-behavior' dimensions.
But we're forgetting something very basic. In our culture, an expert is typically one who focuses in great detail on 'things' and ignores the englobing space-time, ... so the sum of the knowledge of experts is the sum of the knowledge of detailed 'things', stripped of an understanding of the englobing space-time, or the 'interference patterns' which are spoken about in the quantum wave view. That's why we find films like 'What About Bob?' so hilarious. In this particular film, 'Bob', the psychiatric patient, is played by Bill Murray and the recognized expert and much published psychiatrist is played by Richard Dreyfuss. Bob's simple, holistic view of things helps him to see things in an 'immersed' and sympathetic manner, while the good doctor's persistent proselytizing of expert doctrine alienates him from his patients and even from his own family. Bob's simplistic and humanist 'psychotherapeutic' way, which borrows from an 'offhand' concept of the Dreyfuss' psychiatrist which Bob sees as 'genius', helps Bob to pull a kind of Camelotian inversion and 'by serving others become free', solving problems within the doctor's own family, and becoming an endearing friend of the family, much to Dreyfuss chagrin.
What this film is speaking to is the difference between 'tacit' and 'explicit' knowledge. Explicit knowledge, ... as possessed by the 'expert' is knowledge which has been obtained by the process of generalization, by looking many similar problems and finding the common features which can constitute a simple model of the 'problem'. Similarly, by generalizing over many different approaches to the treatment of this problem, ... one can synthesize a (statistical) profile of a successful 'problem-and-solution' combination. This statistical approach to viewing 'problems' and 'solutions' is common to all of traditional science, and is what enables us to put problems and solutions in the form of 'equations' or logical rule-based structures.
As Poincare pointed out, however, this approach implicitly assumes 'homogeneity'; i.e. that the 'things' whose behaviors we are describing are for the purposes of this problem description, all the same (i.e. 'people are 'the same' for the purposes of psychological problem analysis). The second implicit assumption is 'relative independence from remote parts'. This assumption implies that we can limit the scope of the study with impunity; .. for example, .. by considering only those immediate influences in a person's relationships with friends and family since birth, and ignoring influences coming from more remote areas in space and time in the englobing culture. The last of the three implicit assumptions is 'simplicity of the elementary fact', ... and this implies that the 'cause' of the 'thing-behaviors' we are investigating emanates from some source which lies within, though perhaps very deeply within, our sphere of investigation. That is, it assumes that as we investigate down to deeper and deeper levels of detail, ... we will NOT unearth a tag which says, ... for further information go to coordinates such and such, outside of your sphere of investigation.
In short, the very method of explicit knowledge development, in all of traditional science and built into our expert-oriented specialist problem-solving approaches, destroys the interference effects from the space-time which englobes the things we are studying. Poincare made this plain in 'Science and Hypothesis', ... but it is hard to heed his warning when the world pays you only to become an expert and to speak in those re-assuringly crisp terms of explicit knowledge, ... where respect and access to privilege derive from being able to deliver, confidently and with demonstrable accuracy, explicit statements as to the nature of 'problem', 'cause' and solution.
"Mrs. Jones, ... your son has a severe case of ADS, ... attention deficit syndrome. This problem is caused by an overproduction of blah, blah, blah in the blah, blah, blah, which, very fortunately, can be moderated by the daily administering of Ritalin, which will return your child's behavior to normal, so that he can progress and integrate more effectively into the culture."
By this line of reasoning, we ignore the natural differences in the individual and his relationship with the englobing sphere of influence, ... we make the individual into a homogeneous statistical 'thing' and we make his englobing environment into the unquestioned base case of 'normality'. So the expert is correct in everything he says, but what he doesn't say, ... what he ignores by the very fundamentals of his approach, ... is critical to a full understanding of the phenomenon.
What the expert has done is taken a 'voyeur' look at the problem, rather than an 'immersed' look. Now, as Poincare points out, ... this can be extremely useful in those situations where the assumptions are acceptible with respect to the questions being asked, such as the assumption that 'cause' emanates from points within the system, ... but if the assumptions are not reasonable, then other approaches must be taken.
It seems clear, in the case of 'community' and the human system, ... that humans are particular individuals who 'co-resonate' rather uniquely with a particular englobing environment. That is, ... for a great many questions, it will not be acceptible to focus on the person as a 'homogeneous' unit because his problem may well emanate not from 'himself' as a normal unit, but from interference effects between himself and the englobing space, even if that englobing space is by all appearances 'normal'. And if we are not considering such interference effects, ... we must attribute any pathological interference-effect behaviors to the 'thing' being studied. Each specialist discipline, by using the statistical approach to converge on a 'thing-in-itself' voyeur view, and discarding the tacit co-resonance and co-evolutional effects between the unique 'thing-system' and its unique 'reciprocal dispositional space-time' or 'englobing space', ends up with a collection of explicit 'off-the-shelf' models and solution recipes. In the case of psychiatry, this collection is compiled in a single reference work, noted in an earlier essay, as follows;
"The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (DSM). When published in 1952, the DSM listed 60 disorders, the second publication in 1968 listed 145 while the fourth and latest version (1994) lists 410. While psychiatrists regard as 'fact' that a patient exhibiting certain symptoms is afflicted with one of these disorders, the disorder is an abstraction which owes its existence to the specifics of the disciplinary theory. Culturally, such 'facts' are marketable as 'the real thing' in courts of law, with insurance companies and in society at large."
Again, we come back to the adage that; "a fact merely marks the point where we agree to let investigation cease", ... and in the case of the DSM, we do not let the investigation continue on to probe the question of what we mean by the 'normality' of a person or the 'normality' of the englobing environment, nor what effects may emerge from the interference between a so-called 'normal person' and a so-called 'normal environment'.
Once the statistical rationalist treatment, based on the unquestioned notion of 'normality' ascends into the primacy of guiding our actions, strange things can happen as the philosopher Michel Foucault notes; "It is not by confining one's neighbours that one is convinced of one's own sanity" - but that is precisely what happens - Foucault says: " 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 this, I am reminded of 'Fynbar', a volatile Irishman whose late-teens daughter was institutionalized 'for a few weeks' at the recommendation of a well-meaning psychiatrist, so that her anexoria, which had developed on an international performing tour, could be better handled. As the weeks went by, the father was prohibited to see and communicate with his daughter, the daughter now being under the effects of heavy drugs and having been convinced that her symptoms convincingly supported the 'fact' that she had been sexually abused by her father, and being told that it was common in these cases that her memory of it was repressed. The distraught father could find no means of getting his daughter out, even though he was assisted in his attempts by the psychiatrist who had originally recommended she be admitted, ... in fact, he could feel the judgement of the institute's staff against him in the manner in which they summarily dismissed his entreaties, referring to rules and statutes etc. On one occasion Fynbar circled the institution with a loaded 12 guage shotgun in the trunk of his car, contemplating an armed liberation of his daughter. Fortunately, he came to the edge but did not step over it, and instead continued his research, which had already included an appeal to the State Governor (to no avail), finally 'connecting' with' the right person, a benefits administrator for a large corporation, who had been privy to a number of such cases. Her advice was simple, ... 'cancel your medical insurance.', ... and that's exactly what Fynbar did with the result that his daughter was released soon thereafter, and is now doing very well as the result of a much more 'tacit' therapeutical 'program'.
As Foucault noted, ... and it is the same principle as Laborit notes in his biological modelling of systems, ... there is a flaw in those approaches which ignore the unique (non-statistical) information-ordering exchanges between the englobing system and the system being viewed as the 'problem'. What the statistical approach does is to throw away the unique circumstances (e.g. tacit co-resonance or relational-interference between the 'thing' and its surroundings), assuming them to be of no consequence, ... and simply normal 'background' effects, ... homing in instead on those patterns which converge with statistical treatment, and allowing resolving action to be guided by these statistical findings. But as Giordano Bruno said, in connection with this statistical mode of thinking, shortly before he was burned at the stake in 1600, ..."It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people"
Now had Fynbar proceeded with his armed attempt to liberate his daughter, he no doubt would have been apprehended by the police and if not gunned down, ... would have gone to court where a judge and jury would be presented with 'the facts' in the matter, ... those things which ... "merely mark the point where we agree to let investigation cease", ... and the 'cease' coordinates would doubtless have been chosen to favor the prosecution's case rather than Fynbar's, unless he had come up with a few millions to call in a sufficient number of experts giving sufficiently contradictory testimony to confuse the issues so much that reasonable doubt would prevail and he might get off relatively lightly. And of course, there is always the opportunity to have experts nullify each other's testimony without anyone ever having to 'lie' or even be 'wrong', because the voyeur view associated with 'explicit knowledge', ... the tool of the expert, ... is necessarily and innately incomplete.
While the argument here is very simple; i.e. 'one cannot ignore the interference effects between the englobing system and the system being studied when seeking to eliminate problematic behaviors of the subject system', ... it eludes our western minds because of our acculturated conception of space-time; i.e. that space is euclidian and that time is a linear property of reality which is independent of space; i.e that 'things' exist in their own right, ... and that the behaviors of systems is the result of the 'behavior of things'. This view precludes the view that the behavior of a 'thing' is instead the 'co-behavior' of the 'thing' and its englobing space-time sphere.
Meanwhile, 'nonlinear' systems theory, accommodating the modern findings of relativity, quantum duality etc. would say that space-time is a continuum, and that 'space is a participant in physical phenomena', and that problems must be solved 'in toto', leading us back to the incompleteness of the rational-causal method, short of the point of a 'divine perspective' where the investigation does not cease at some arbitrary boundary, and all of space-time is accounted for. In other words, there is a tradeoff here; ... either we use the rational-causal approach, ... the 'expert' approach and limit the investigative region in space and time, ...or we open up the space-time region and use an 'inclusionary logic' or 'intuitive' approach. Or in other words, .. 'we find an exact solution to an approximate problem' (the way of the disciplinary 'specialist-expert') or 'we find an approximate solution to the actual problem'.
In terms of 'community as complex system', by the former approach, our 'solution' is in the form of a structured procedure which we 'impose' on the 'perceived' (approximated) problem and by the latter approach, our 'solution' is in the form of tacit understanding on how to navigate in the problem space. While the former is the product of abstract thought, the latter is a natural behavior, ... and while we can use abstract thought in support of the natural approach, ... the reverse is not possible; i.e. if the solution in a land dispute was based on tacit knowledge of how all parties would navigate, this could be supported by the imposition of structured procedures, ... but if the solution starts with a structured procedure (at the highest level), this precludes the application of tacit knowledge, since things must be 'left loose' to open the door to tacit interplay.
It is evident that the abstraction of our view by the linguistic notion of 'things' and their behaviors is a man-made fabrication which only goes so far. And this brings us back to the englobing influence once again. In a prior essay example where the model smiled and the observer wondered why, ... the choice is there to answer the question in two ways, ... by digging down into her biochemistry, in which case we could find a way to make her stop smiling or smile more often by the administering of appropriate chemicals, ... or to consider that the 'smile' was an 'ordering' of her system induced by an information exchange with her englobing space-time, ... in that case, the sound of the pipes on her boyfriend's Harley, and a pleasurable memory emanating from space-time coordinates well outside of the space-time coordinate limits of the observer's voyeur perspective would form part of the understanding of the system.
In the bounded view where interference with the englobing space-time is ignored, the only thing the observer is able to introduce in way of explanation will be things coming from his own experience and his persisting 'drill-down' analysis of the model's make-up within the space-time coordinates he selects for his investigations.
There is a general perception and inquiry point here, which applies to all problem solving inquiry based on the explicit, .. e.g. on language and explanations, which emerges in the example of the word 'motherfucker'.
'Motherfucker' has no instrinsic meaning and means nothing to a person whose only language is, for example, 'french'. I could hold up an orchid and say that, in english, we call this a 'motherfucker', and if I appeared sincere in my statement, that person would henceforth refer to orchids as 'motherfuckers' in the presence of english companions, until they were corrected. If she were englobed in a culture which coherently reinforced this notion, she would persist in making the same association.
To youth, the use of the word 'motherfucker' can be simply a means distancing oneself from despised adult control-hierarchies which insist on dictating what can be said and what cannot be said, ... the imagery of incest having nothing to do with the usage.
And to a Chinese person who translates literally from 'ma ta de' to 'motherfucker', it is still a curse word but a far less offensive one, which has no suggestion of incest.
So we have looked at Foucault's point, Laborit's point, the adages about 'facts' being arbitrarily limited, with respect to our inadequacy in complex problem solving, and everything seems to point back to our failure to account for 'information exchanges with the englobing system' which have an 'ordering effect' on the system which is being englobed. Now we can look David Bohm's following observation (quantum physicist and author of 'Wholeness and the Implicate Order' and 'Thought as a System') excerpted from his dialogues on 'thought as a system';
"... it [sexual imagery and imagery associated with words] is all influenced heavily by the culture, very strongly. It's all there, and we form the image. We have the image that 'I do the thinking', 'I am the thinker'. But in fact the culture has produced most of the thought. It sort of passes through me, I add a bit to it, I do this or that to it. The kind of thought we use, which is communicated, originates basically in the whole society and the culture. We have the sense of separation because our culture tells us that each individual is separate, and therefore we perceive it in that way."
If I am a teacher and watch a child or listen to an argument, I think it is 'me' who is coming up with the notion that the child is 'hyperactive' and has an 'attention deficit syndrome', ... or that the word 'motherfucker' is an ugly image of incest. But it is not 'me' who does the thinking, but a combination of 'me' and the culture which englobes me, and my notion of being an independent being is also given to me by the euclidian thinking of the culture which says that space consists of 'things' and 'void', .. that what is not a particular 'thing' is necessary part of an excluded 'not-thing' space, ... an exclusionary logic which emanates from Parmenides and Aristotle, ... and certainly not the only form of logic, ... a far more nature-reconcilable alternative being 'inclusionary logic' and non-euclidian space, ... a sphere-englobing-sphere geometry which allows us to be both independent and part of the collective at the same time.
Jean Morel knows that he is mucking about with the boy's body chemistry when he asks him not to take the Ritalin when the boy comes to work with him, ... because, as he says, 'Ritalin is for the teacher, not the student', ... and 'as a teacher myself, I don't need it to be administered and I don't want it to be administered', ... similarly with many other drugs; i.e. they exist to force-fit the individual back into a statistically derived normality, ... a political-cultural view of what an individual 'ought to be like', ... a 'Ding an sich' view which ignores the unique co-resonances that exist between a 'thing' and its englobing environment which can make life difficult but which also make life interesting, ... which bring out the wonderous harmonies as well as dissonances, ... the tacit information which enables individuals to evolve in a unique and 'completional' sense, rather than have them be 'molded' in an imposed structure and cause sense.
At the present time, ... the intensification of problems everywhere, from high school massacres to the Kosovo situation, is stimulating people to organize new ways of problem-solving. The bulk of these approaches have a similar geometry to the following, where it is suggested that the advances of science and technology have contributed to making problems much more resistant, and that those same disciplinary experts who have engendered the complexifying tools should put their mind to solving the complex problems which have emerged.
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"This communication therefore explores the possibility of laying the underlying and ultimate responsibility for such territorial conflicts at the door of the following groups and the manner in which they interact: mathematicians, legal theorists, lawyers and accountants, international relations scholars, conflict mediators, media specialists, "psy-ops" specialists, and theologians, together with systems analysts, computer visualization specialists and architects.
The basic argument here is that modern civilization has achieved amazing conceptual advances in numerous areas, notably resulting in technical and organizational advances capable of sustaining extremely complex systems. This has encouraged elimination of many kinds of barriers in a spirit of global unification of one kind or another, but it has increased the vulnerability of those previously protected by those buffers against system instability. Beyond the orgy of triumphalism, the nationalist tensions and conflicts resulting from the dissolution of the USSR could have been anticipated. The disastrous Asian financial crisis is a result of failure to understand the consequences of reducing barriers. Who is responsible for failing to predict such consequences through appropriate simulation? Or failing to listen to such predictions?
The point to be made is that these amazing conceptual advances have not yet been focused on conflicting territorial claims and boundary disputes -- despite the bloody conflicts and major massacres to which they continue to give rise. Yet, despite widespread obsession with complexity and its management, simplicity is all that is on offer in practical conflict situations. The opposing parties in such territorial disputes, assembled around a negotiating table, are not supplied with any framework based on insights more complex than those on offer centuries ago. Why is this? It is therefore not surprising that agreements emerging from such negotiations are simplistic, unsatisfactory and unsustainable. "
The implication of these words, (though perhaps not the thought which engendered the words), seem to be that we need to take the specialized knowledge which interfered in such as way as to brew these modern versions of a familiar problem, and apply them (the expertise) to the solution of the problem.
This is akin to saying; 'Let's gather together all those people skilled in exploiting situations by ignoring the complications in the space-time which englobes the situation, to solve the complex problems which result from interference effects in the englobing space which they are trained to ignore'.
It seems to me that we need to revitalize our tacit understanding based skills of childhood, and to refocus on a leadership which is effective at complexity navigation, as opposed to focusing on braintrusts for perfecting analytical problem-solving and operationalizing strategies which convert 'leaders' into degenerate 'mouthpieces' for pre-specified solution approaches.
So maybe it's time for us 'take a vacation from our problems', as Dreyfuss' psychiatrist says to Murray's patient, and rejuvenate our natural purpose of living harmoniously.
And if we get serious about bringing in new leadership to cultivate improved navigating vis a vis 'community as complex system', which has a natural capacity for incorporating tacit understanding from an immersed view of co-evolutionary effects between the englobing and englobed system, ... the point I want to register is; ... 'What about Bob?'
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