Enlarged version: challenges to comprehension
Home/Search
Documents  >>
Themes  >>
Visuals  >>
Context  >>
FAQ/Contact  >>

Joy in the Present
Alternative view of segmented documents via Kairos
      

2002

Combining Clues to Movement and Attitude Control

- / -


Annex 3 of Navigating Alternative Conceptual Realities: clues to the dynamics of enacting new paradigms through movement, (2002)


Introduction
Metaphoric Entrapment (Annex 1)
Clues to Movement and Attitude Control (Annex 2)
Combining Clues to Movement and Attitude Control (Annex 3)
** Combining the clues framing any static perspective
** Clues to integrating movement through kinetic intelligence
** Clues from catastrophe theory, force dynamics and manoeuvering
** Clues from navigation of multi-media and virtual reality environments
Clues to 'Ascent' and 'Escape' (Annex 4)
Combining Clues to 'Ascent' and 'Escape' (Annex 5)
Conclusion
References


'Attitude control' is understood here as the characteristics required to ensure that any 'vehicle' moves in an appropriately coordinated manner -- whatever the degree of subtlety of the space through which that movement takes place. Such attitude control is therefore a prerequisite, as indicated earlier, for any controlled shift to subtler paradigmatic spaces -- as indicated in a later section. In Christian terms such 'attitude control' is therefore a prelude to 'being raised to a state of grace' -- however that is understood. However, although the 'vices, or the 'fetters' and 'hindrances' of Buddhism, may be considered as symptomatic of poor 'attitude control', they may also suggest grips and constraints temporarily necessary to any movement -- as with the hardware used by climbers to ensure their secure attachment to a dangerous surface over which they are moving.

Combining the clues framing any static perspective

The challenge is to combine the clues from the disparate sources. In doing so the following points can usefully be borne in mind:

  • the focus is on generic guidelines to movement in an undefined conceptual space (accepting that this is a specific interpretation of principles of wider applicability)
  • movement is understood generically rather than as being specifically towards a more moral condition (although it is assumed that movement is in response to spaces and conditions of greater freedom that may be framed as being of superior morality or merit)
  • patterns of clues may be very general, or much more specific, resulting in sets with different numbers of guidelines
  • within each set, of whatever number, movement may involve all members of the set (a bit like shifting gears according to terrain)
  • it is to be expected that traditional sets may focus either on inappropriate features of movement (vices, hindrances, etc) or on appropriate consequences of correct movement (virtues, etc)
  • judgements on appropriateness (of attachment) or inappropriateness (of detachment) may be a matter of timing in the cycle of movement -- failure to be 'attached' at the appropriate moment may be disastrous; 'ignorance' may be a precondition of new learning as well as inhibiting such learning
  • in accordance with the Buddhist precept, ability to move necessarily requires detachment from either aspect of the detachment-attachment duality
  • the combination of guidelines should be of value in any learning situation and may prove to be a way of evaluating (and comparing) methodologies such as that of western science or of critical realism
  • it is to be expected that the extensive analyses of movement made for simulation of movement in virtual reality would enable these indications to be considerably extended, refined and clustered in a variety of ways
  • this preliminary exercise is merely indicative and does not aspire to the complete reconciliation of the disparate sets of guidelines, especially since virtues and vices are presented in different combinations and with different correspondences
  • the procedure in elaborating the table has been to match stages of movement (as in any form of climbing) with the virtues and vices
  • definitions of virtues and vices have been interpreted here to reflect the primary concern of this paper with the dynamics of movement in contrast to their traditional interpretation as qualitative attributes of a heightened state of grace or illumination
  • the relationship between vices or virtues in any traditional set is considered here to be one of complementarity rather than following a particular sequence
Table 1: Juxtaposition of 'virtues' and 'vices' from different traditions in terms of their significance for 'attidude control'
Movement Yoga Buddhism Christianity
Appropriate Inappropriate Afflictions Hindrances
(pañcanivarana)
Fetters (hindrances) Perfections
(paramita)
Vices Virtues
Envisaging new contextual relationship Failure to envisage new relationship Egoism (asmita): This is the false identification of separateness, aloneness, or egoism. Ill will (byapada, pradosa) Self-delusion, false views: failure to distinguish one's boundaries appropriately (drishti) Generosity, giving (dana): unconstrained relationship to environment Despair: undermining hope and the ability to undertake a manoeuver Hope: appropriate to the successful achievement of any innovative manoeuver
Detection of alternative environmental support Failure to detect features of any alternative context Conceit, pride, self-regard (abhimana, nga-rgyal) Truthfulness (sacca): unconfused assessment of possibilities and capacities Pride: excessive self-focus and insensitivity to context (literally "before a fall") .
Attraction-to new environmental support Distracting attractions hindering movement Attraction to appearnaces (raga): This is the attraction or attachment to the appearance of objects) is the specific false identification that tells us that objects of attraction will bring about happiness. Sensual desire, (kamachanda, abhidya) Sensuous lust and desire, craving for the objects of sense (karma-trisna) Loving-kindness (metta): attentive relationship to the space left and that to which one intends to move; right means
(upaya kausala)
Lust and lechery: disrespect for the process, but also for its significance for others Love and charity:  appropriate attitude to execution of the process itself, but also in relation to others
Reaching- for new environmental support Failure to reach out to new framework Restlessness (uddhacca) Excitability: restlessness (anuddhatya); contrition, worry or compunction (kaukritya) Patience, tolerance (khanti, ksanti): sense of timing in anticipation of when to move Anger and wrath: undermining concentration and focus on execution of the manoeuver Will and temperance: appropriate to engaging in a challenging manoeuver
Establishing contact with new environmental support Failure to make contact with any new support Fear of death (abhinivesha): This is the fear of death and the clinging to life as it is known. Torpor (middha) Greed for fine material existence, craving for refined corporeality (rupa-trishna) Equanimity (upekkha): ability to respond to obstacles without becoming attached to them Envy: excessive focus on others, distorting own initiatives .
Grasping new environmental support Failure to grasp any support securely Ill will, anger, hatred (pradosa) Resolution (adhitthana): determination to move (pranidhana) Greed and gluttony: overambitious incautiousness, distorting relationship to others, undermining judgement Purpose and fortitude: appropriate focus for the execution of a manoeuver
Displacement of centre (Repulsion from old position) Inability to move centre from all pattern of support to new Repulsion (dvesha): This is repulsion, hatred, and aversion. Sloth (thina, styana) Greed for immaterial existence, carvaing for incorporeality (arupa-trishna) Renunciation (nekkhamma): ability to let go and shift to a new framework Apathy and sloth: inability to "get one's act together" Competence and justice: appropriate discipline for structuring a manoeuver
Detachment from old support Inability to detach (or let go) from old support Clinging to ritual: habitual adherence to old framework or pattern (upadana) Energy, vigour, bravery (viriya): ability to engage in movement Care and prudence: appropriate concern for the consequences of any manoeuver
Coordination of movement Uncoordinated movement Ignorance (avidiya): The primal and all-pervading ignorance. Doubt, uncertainity (vicikiccha, vicikitsa) Ignorance, dullness, delusion (avidya, ma-rig-pa, avijja ) Morality, discipline (sila): maintiaining sense of integrity through the process of movement Excessive consumption of resources, especially energy (avarice) Loyalty and faith: appropriate attitude to peers, predecessors, successors and "tradition"
. . Worry, contrition, compunction (kukkucca,anuddhatya, kaukritya ) Doubt: uncertainity about appropriateness of shift, scepticism, lack of belief, perplexity
(vicikitsa, the-tshom, vicikiccha)
Wisdom (panna, prajna): ability to coordinate disparate movements in response to changing circumstances Wisdom: appropriate contextual insight interrelating the above

Clues to integrating movement through kinetic intelligence

The table above has the merit of indicating specific elements in the process of movement and their possible failure. However, as even the walking process illustrates (see above), knowledge of such specifics does not a walker make. The dynamics of movement, and how to move, are distorted by any attempt at understanding through the essentially static organization of steps and prescriptions.

An interesting approach to the nature of the integration performed by any practitioner of movement, especially challenging sports involving a high order of kinetic intelligence, is offered by the work of Arthur Young in The Geometry of Meaning. His insights derived from his engagement in the development of the Bell helicopter. His learnings developed from reflection on how such a vehicle could be navigated in three dimensions in a controlled manner. This could be seen as the basis for a useful articulation of the challenge for any body to navigate in a complex space.

Young presented the generalization of his insights as an explication of the learning-action cycle, expressed in 12 phases. He associated each of these with one of 12 dimensionless constants fundamental to dynamics of piloting a vehicle (see Table 2). In his case the vehicle was a helicopter but in the more general case it could well also be applied to the human 'vehicle' in the Buddhist sense. In marked contrast with the classic static presentations of virtues and vices in any culture, his approach introduces the dimension of time that is central to movement in different ways. His approach emphasizes the way in which movement is coordinated -- and how attributes such as 'momentum' are used in complex manouevers by practitioners. From such a perspective, an attribute like 'inertia' may be of considerable positive significance -- in contrast with its negative characterization as the vice or fetter of 'sloth'.

Table 2: Characteristics of phases in 12-phase learning / action cycles. Tentative adaptation and development from Arthur Young's Geometry of Meaning (1978). See commentary on learning cycles in Cycles of dissonance and resonance. See also adaptation to Typology of 12 complementary strategies essential to sustainable development and to Typology of 12 complementary dialogue modes essential to sustainable dialogue. This table was originally published with the rows and columns transposed.

Learning via... Space-binding Unconscious
(In-volution) 
Unintended shift of:
- perspective 
- position 
- reference 
Displacement of focus
 
Unconscious impression of significance Subject to an unintended shift of perspective  
Time-binding   Conscious
(Re-volution)
Intentional shift of
- perspective 
- position 
- reference 
Range of conscious attention span 
'Distance' from object of focus
(see MLT 0)
Projection of an intended shift of perspective into reality  
Unconscious
(In-volution)
Conscious
(Re-volution)
Symbol M0L

Acts
Abstract
Schematic
ML

States
Motivated
Considered
ML2

Relationships
Application
Follow-through
Commitment
 
Uncoordinated action 
Self-impulsion
Victim of discontinuity
Comparison with previous comparisons
Awareness of
self-awareness
Transendental discontinuity
T-3 L/T3

Control of transformative action

ML/T3

Establishment of disciplined pattern of response; consolidated or harmonious control of action potential; holding forces in check

ML2/T3

Power of acquired knowledge; know-how; integrated or embodied experience; capacity (including that of not acting); non-action
D
Auto-catalytic response  Comparison with norms or memory of
previous experience 
Self-awareness
T-2 L/T2

Spontaneous initiation of transformative action; commitment to a new course of action
ML/T2

Forcefulness engendered, experienced or embodied as a result of transformative action; constructive (or disruptive) action potential; enhanced sense of being
ML2/T2

Achievement of a desired result by application of understanding (and adjustment of implicit beliefs) in response to external factors; working action on reality
C
Homeostatic equilibrium 

Unconscious adaptation
Conscious adaptive response 
Awareness
T-1 L /T

Adaptive change; reaction; passive adaptation or change of position in response to changing circumstances
ML /T

Recognition of the momentum (of an issue) resulting from a change, namely the consequential transformation of awareness or perspective
ML2/T

Decision or impulse to act or initiate a process determining the future
B
Unconscious registration of information Timeless awareness
Non-duration 
T0 L

Observation; act of considering; position determination; reactive learning based on immediate registration of phenomena; assessment of distance; 'sizing up'
ML

Recognition of moment(ousness), relevance (as related to leverage), significance (as in 'matters of great moment'); weight of facts; bringing matters into focus
ML2

Faith in current paradigm or perception of reality; unexamined or habitual commitment to a process projection or understanding, irrespective of inconsistent disturbing factors
A

As briefly expressed above, there is a lack of operational specificity to the various static "guidelines". But as those participating in many sports would probably argue, it takes experience to learn what subtle experiential meaning is associated with attitudes appropriate to any "code words" about improved performance. Much may be achieved with inappropriate attitudes, but they do not raise the level of performance beyond a certain degree -- ultimately the person is judged as lacking something subtly associated with "style" and 'élan'. Basically the performance is not sustainable. In this respect the relationship, in Buddhist meditation practice, between the "hindrances" and "fetters" encountered, and the articulation of necessary values, is somewhat more explicit.

Table 3: Indication of key insights from Table 2

Certitude
Confidence
Boundary
Delimitation
Relationship
A Static Observing

Being constrained Possessing property
B Velocity Adapting Tracing / Marking /
Explaining
Taking possession / Occupying /
Taking over
C Acceleration Initiating

Forcing Psyching up / Talking up /
Entraining
D Exemplifying Controlling transformation

Responding through
discipline
Integrating identity /
Embodying

The above table uses a clumsy array of approximate terms to identify a possible set of complementary ways for the 'driver' of an existential 'all-terrain vehicle' to 'handle' the relationship with the environment. Each mode suggests a different way of using energy to act coherently, although all are necessary according to the nature of the challenge. The presentation is distorted because it underemphasizes the ways in which the challenge from the environment may invite a gentler and more seductive response than is suggested by the metaphor of driving an all-terrain vehicle -- a metaphoric trap with which the world is now all too familiar.

Another way of considering the navigational art is by exploring it as a game, as is the case with a number of board games from religious traditions (cf Leela, see Johari, 1993) of which "snakes and ladders" is a caricature. A Transformation Game (see http://www.transformationgame.com/game.html) is extensively used by adherents of the Findhorn New Age community. The web has provided a new environment for those inspired in various ways by Hermann Hesse's Glass Bead Game (http://idt.net/~davehuge/Hesse.html).

The virtues and vices can also be imagined as presented as an array such as with hopscotch or as a mandala, or a Scottish sword dance. The art is then to shift appropriately around the array in response to particular challenges. As with a horoscope, or a Myers-Briggs psychological profile, the dancer starts from a particular "poise" in the pattern of potential moves -- or maybe remains frozen into one! To move, the dancer must activate and deactivate specific attitudinal controls associated with a succession of virtues -- compensating for destabilizing tendencies associated with any emergent "temptations".

The classical thirty-sex strategems of China continue to be explored by Eastern businessmen (see strategems). The many Buddhist mandalas have sectors associated with the virtues (vices) -- a version designed by Escher might show how one follows another in a paradoxical, perpetual, cyclical cascade of meaning (echoed by the breathing cycle, especially as a meditation practice). Management strategists have endeavoured to derive related insights from the game of go).

Clues from catastrophe theory, force dynamics and manoeuvering

The vices might also be considered like the seven elementary catastrophes of Rene Thom's theory (1972) [more]. A vice might then be a form of behavioural discontinuity or disarray -- in which the elegance of well-coordinated control is somehow lost. Denis Postle (1980) and R.D. Hinshelwood (1988) have demonstrated how catastrophe theory may be used by an individual to map their own behaviour and the critical areas on that map at which stress and breakdown are possible.

In his Structural Stability and Morphogenesis: an outline of a general theory of models (1975), Thom models the seat of the morphogenetic process into domains of different attractors, separated by shock waves. Shock wave surfaces are singularities called "catastrophes". A catastrophe is a state beyond which the system is detroyed in an irreversible manner. In the 4-dimensional space-time world of which we are aware, there are 7 types of elementary catastrophes. Elementary catastrophes include: "fold", destruction of an attractor which is captured by a lesser potential; "cusp", bifurcation of an attractor into two attractors; etc. From these singularities, more and more complex catastrophes unfold, until the final catastrophe.

The seven elementary catastrophes identified by Thom are related, in Table 4, to his set of constructive and deconstructive archetypal morphologies -- tentatively numbering 16. But of which he said: Je crois qu'à ma liste de seize morphologies archétypes, il faudrait ajouter des verbes à caractère statique, tels que 'contenir', 'entourer' exprimant le fait qu'une entité ' borde' une autre et en interdit la diffusion au-dehors; et peut-être aussi les verbes 'négatifs' comme 'percer' et 'trouer'. (ES p36). However, he provides an interesting diagram (1975, Fig 5.24) 'on which each of the sixteen marked points corresponds to a topological type'.

Table 4: Juxtaposition of elementary catastrophes and archetypal morphologies (Thom)
State variables in system (corank)
Codimension
of strata

Singularities
'catastrophes'

Organizing
centres

Dynamics

Substantives

Archetypal morphologies
Destructive
Constructive
1
0

Minimum

V=x2

Being

Object

Manquer

Durer

1
1

Fold

V=x3

Being

Edge, End

Ending

Beginning

1
2

Cusp

V=x4

Becoming

Fault

Capturing, Separating

Engender, Unite

1
3

Swallowtail

V=x5

Agitate

Slit, Crack

Rejecting

Crossing

1
4

Butterfly

V=x6

Give

Pocket

Sending

Receiving

2
.

Hyperbolic umbilic

V=x3+y3

Cresting wave

Arch

Collapse

Cover

2
.

Elliptic umbilic

V=x3-3xy2

Penetrate

Needle, Hair

Piercing

Filling

2
.

Parabolic umbilic

V=x2y+y4

Eject

Mushroom

Lance, Pinch

Link, Open

Thom's work has encouraged inquiries into dynamic logic and semiotics [more; more; more]. In By The Time You See Me, I'll Be Long Gone Karen Wendy Gilbert illustrates her existential argument using catastrophe theory:

To understand the topological geometrodynamics of the time landscape we are discussing it is helpful to refer back to Rene Thom's Catastrophe Theory. Rene Thom identified the ways lines and planes can fold or buckle at "catastrophe" points. If we remember that "topology" is the geography of curved space, and remember that "a complete set of ...curves. ...resembles the flow lines of an imaginary mathematical fluid, swirling around in the plane." we find ourselves in the fluid, hylozoic seascape of Serres. Rather than the deformations of a "rubber sheet" oft invoked, imagine the three dimensional swirls and eddies formed by dropping a marble (a catastrophe point) into a tub of salt water, or not yet set Jell-O. Each of the seven catastrophes is commonly named by the shape it makes in space, as if the equation it describes were the folding instructions for an Origami creation: fold, cusp, swallowtail, butterfly, hyperbolic umbilic, elliptic umbilic, parabolic umbilic. However, each fold (or to be Heideggerean, "folding", or "coming into foldedness") can be given a temporal, as well as a spatial, interpretation. Thus the "fold" which looks like a "boundary" or edge, can be construed in time as the demarcation of "beginning" (or "end"). The "butterfly" configuration presents an enclosed space which can be viewed space-wise as a "pocket" or time-wise as [a pocket] "receiving" or "emptying." Eeyore's birthday presents are brought to mind, the popped balloon (a different type of catastrophe) becomes the perfect object to put into the emptied honey pot. Think of the honey pot as an example of a Thomean butterfly catastrophe, the honey empties out, the deflated balloon fills the empty space.

These elementary catastrophes are of great interest because, although some are difficult to visualize, they are navigational realities for those engaged in some sports -- especially extreme sports, where they are a principal source of thrill. It would be helpful to gain insight into how understanding of them is acquired and communicated -- presumably metaphorically. All forms of surfing encounter such catastrophes. Presumably, they might also be usefully detected in relation to surfing on the web -- and in alternative realities.

Leonard Talmy (1988) made use of Thom's catastrophes in developing his own concept of force dynamics [more] which Johannes Petersen (Center for Human-Machine Interaction, Risø, Denmark) used subsequently to model manoeuvering situations as control situations (see Table 5). He focused on large container carriers with the particular aim of representing the crew's understanding of a manoeuvering situation at a specific point in time - so-called situation models. Situation models play a vital role in decision-making process integrating the basic decision-making activities: state identification, goal formation and action planing [more]. This is reminiscent of Arthur Young's preoccupations with control of a helicopter (see Table 2).

Petersen summarizes the fundamental argument made by Leonard Talmy as follows:

... concepts of force interaction constitute basic principles for structuring and organizing meaning in language. According to Talmy, these concepts are not restricted to force interaction between physical objects but captures also abstract metaphorical interactions between nonphysical objects. As such Talmy's approach is part of an established approach to semantics known as 'cognitive semantics' which is aimed at understanding the fundamental schemata (image schemata), underlying human cognitive activities, in terms of generalized human experiences obtained from direct interaction with the physical world. Talmy's force dynamic patterns constitute one type of image schemata having to do with force interaction.... When modeling maneuvering situations as control situations it is important to use an account of the causality of force interaction which reflects the basic activities comprising a control decision: state identification, goal formation, and action planning (Rasmussen, 1986). [more]

Table 5. Force Dynamic Patterns Representing Different Manoeuvering Situations (adapted from Petersen)

Force Dynamic
Patterns
Translatoric Movement
(ahead / astern)
Transverse Movement
(port / starboard)
Turning
(port / starboard)
1 Extended causing of motion Maintain the movement of the vessel
Causing the vessel to keep moving
Maintain the movement of the vessel
Causing the vessel to keep moving
Maintain the turning of the vessel
Causing the vessel to keep turning
2 Extended causing of rest Suppressing the movement of the vessel
Causing the vessel to keep resting
Suppressing the movement of the vessel
Causing the vessel to keep resting
Suppressing the turning of the vessel
Causing the vessel to keep resting
3 Onset causation of motion Producing the movement of the vessel
Causing the vessel to move
Producing the movement of the vessel
Causing the vessel to move
Producing a turn movement of the vessel
Causing the vessel to turn
4 Onset causing of rest Destroying the movement of the vessel
Causing the vessel to rest stop moving (brake)
Destroying the movement of the vessel
Causing the vessel to stop moving (brake)
Destroying the turn of the vessel Causing the vessel to stop turning
5 Onset letting of motion Letting the movement of the vessel happen
Letting the vessel start moving (drifting)
Letting the movement of the vessel happen
Letting the vessel start moving (drifting)
Letting the turning of the vessel happen
Letting the vessel start turning
6 Onset letting of rest Letting the movement of the vessel disappear
Letting the vessel rest
Letting the movement of the vessel disappear
Letting the vessel rest
Letting the turning of the vessel disappear
Letting the vessel stop turning
7 Extended letting of motion Letting the movement of the vessel remain
Letting the vessel move
Letting the movement of the vessel remain
Letting the vessel move
Letting the turning of the vessel remain
Letting the vessel turn
8 Extended letting of rest Letting the movement of the vessel be absent
Letting the vessel rest
Letting the movement of the vessel be absent
Letting the vessel rest
Letting the turning of the vessel be absent
Letting the vessel rest

It is interesting that this example focuses on a 'container'. The 'container metaphor' has been the subject of extensive discussion since the work of Lakoff and Johnson [more; more]. Implicit in the theme of navigating alternative realities is the nature of the container or vessel inhabited by the navigator -- irrespective of whether the space is itself considered as a container. Elsewhere in this paper, reference is made to the notion of a 'vehicle' of awareness in Buddhism (explored further in a subsequent paper).

With respect to the 'manoeuvering situations' of the example, the container metaphor is notably used by Jaap Hage in Reasoning with Rules (Kluwer, 1997) in relation to artifical intelligence and the law -- and is associated with a balance-of-forces metaphor for (judicial) reasoning. Many would recognize the extent to which legal reasoning engenders (surrealistic) 'alternative' realities -- but any alternative reality might be considered as conceptually sustained by such a balance. Reasons are then seen as pushing against each other, cancelling as well as reinforcing, and the result of reasoning may hide the complexity of the reasons that figured in the result. 'Just as the combination of the forces determines in which direction the body will actually be moved (accelerated), the combination of the adduced reasons determines whether a rational audience will accept the conclusion or its negation, or refrain from judgement'. (p. 252) [review]. In a similar vein, Rudolph J. Peritz (Exploring the Limits of Formalism: AI and legal pedagogy, 1991) argues for the use of catastrophe theory as sharing normative ground with work already done in philosophy, sociology of knowledge, and law (Derrida; Foucault; Peritz):

It is my belief that the unmediated interplay of social forces (such as McCarty's deontic modalities) form the surface that we treat as the "area" or corpus of contract law, or other law. These force relations produce rational and discontinuous doctrine. Attention to Thom's work offers a framework for expert system designers and AI researchers to develop new strategies for modeling conflict and discontinuity, and for contributing to the improvement of pragmatic legal pedagogy, by pushing the limits of expansive formalism -- work already begun by those engaged in expert system design and AI research. [more]

The nature of manoeuvering situations is notably explored by the military (Alan D Zimm, 1999) and features in many game-like simulations. It is a theme of an annual Computer Generated Forces - Behavior Representation Conference. It would be useful to know whether combat manoeuvering possibilities [more; more; more; more] had been analyzed in terms of the elementary catastrophes -- especially in the light of the statement on one web site on air combat manoeuvering (ACM) that:

Because air combat involves dynamic movement in three dimensions, one could conclude that it is an infinitely variable manoeuvre/counter-manoeuvre process. But such in not the case. A fighter pilot has only a limited number of options with which to meet a given situation. Which one he uses will be dictated more by the relative positions and energy states of himself and his opponent than by any potential technical advantages that his aircraft may possess. He will strive to deny his adversary the initiative, knowing that air combats are lost more often than they are won....The aspiring fighter pilot is taught basic air combat manoeuvers, some defensive, others offensive. They are: the Break, the Scissors, the High-G Barrel Roll, Jinking, the Spiral Dive, the Vertical Rolling Scissors, the Split S, the High Speed Yoyo, the Vector Roll or Rollaway, the Lag Pursuit, the Low Speed Yoyo, the Barrel Roll Attack, the Vertical Reverse, the Immelmann and various versions of and conuters to these. [more --with schematics]

The metaphoric terminology of combat manoeuvers [more] and aerobatics -- and the schematics -- are reminiscent of Thom's. Aerobatic manoeuvers also include: Loop, Aileron Roll, Barrel Roll, Stalled Turn/Hammerhead, Cuban 8, Pirouette, Pitchback, Sliceback, Cloverleaf [more; more]. Novel combat manoeuvers are being discovered through genetics-based learning processes and combat simulations [more]. The focus on 'energy' in air combat is reminiscent of that in Eastern approaches to martial arts [more].

Thom offers many examples in biology, sociology and semantics for which his elementary catastrophes provide generic structure for morphogenesis. It is worth asking whether any single form from everyday experience holds all the structures he identifies. It is then tempting to point to the possibility that human biodynamics is such a form -- and possibly necessarily so. In Table 4, for example, to what extent do his 'substantives' describe features of the human form that have characacteristic 'dynamics' associated with them -- especially in relation to 'morphogenesis', namely reproductive behaviour? The terms in Table 4 that Thom struggles to offer (originally in French) to articulate complex mathematical functions, could well be replaced by synonyms that exemplify this suggestion. The 'archetypal morphologies' might well then be understood in terms of reproductive behaviours -- from courtship to consummation -- as exhibited by corresponding formal attributes and dispositions. It is interesting however that the complete set can only be held by two complementary bodies in dynamic relationship -- a theme characteristic of tantric philosophy (see below).

Just as Thom is concerned generically with morphogenesis, this 'reproductive' case may simply be an instance of other forms of behaviour that involve some form of 'courtship' (capture or entrapment) that provides a context for more complex interactions. It is in this sense that catastrophe has been applied to dialogue and conflict situations (cf Postle, 1980). It could equally be applied to the stages and processes of interaction between enterprises leading to mergers -- hence the sexual metaphors frequently used in this connection, and the excitement experienced by entrepreneurs. This would also help to explain the nature of the relationship between those engaged in surfing (and more extreme) sports and the 'reality' with which they engage. The reason it is often described as 'better than sex' is because it is effectively 'sex' in the generic sense -- where the sexual process is exemplified by the pattern of 'catastrophes'. There is a common pattern to the attractors in each instance -- which may be related to the pattern of 'virtues' and 'vices'.

But, as noted by Octavio Paz: 'Wisdom lies neither in fixity nor in change, but in the dialectic between the two.' The challenge of this piece of wisdom is to give experiential meaning to 'dialectic'. The possibility of subtler understandings of this relationship leads into the experience of 'ascent' of any 'vehicle' -- whether a spacecraft or a vehicle for human identity (see also Entering Alternative Realities -- Astronautics vs Noonautics: isomorphism between launching aerospace vehicles and launching vehicles of awareness).

Clues from navigation of multi-media and virtual reality environments

With the emergence of the web, considerable attention has been given to the challenge of navigation of knowledge space, whether as a design challenge to tool providers or as an experiential challenge for the users of those tools (cf Envisaging the Art of Navigating Conceptual Complexity, 1995). Such navigation can be understood as offering alternative conceptual realities independent of the use of the interface multi-media enhancements associated with more publicized virtual reality environments.

Virtual reality hype is becoming a large part of everyday life. It is relevant to this paper when the engagement of the navigator in the virtual reality environment is much greater. Although the extent to which this effectively constitutes an alternative reality -- or how 'alternative' is that reality in terms of its conceptual dimensions, orientation and navigational challenges -- tends not to be a focus of attention. The actual components of virtual reality systems can be usefully explored and critiqued in terms of human factors, taking into account the hardware and software of visual, aural, and haptic input and feedback [more]. M.K.D. Coomans and H.J.P. Timmermans have produced Towards a Taxonomy of Virtual Reality User Interfaces (1997) which points to some conceptual issues without exploring them. Sherry Turkle (Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, 1995) considers the experiential dimensions -- notably with respect to multi-user interactive gaming environments (MUDs) [more] -- but with little reference to the knowledge space implications [review; review; review]. But clearly, whether systematically analyzed or not, the experience of such environments by role-players is developing a range of skills relevant to alternative reality navigation -- just as the previous generation of 'shoot-em-up' games provided vital training for use of modern military hardware.

Some of the issues have been summarized in an extensive study by Glenna A. Satalich (Navigation and Wayfinding in Virtual Reality: Finding Proper Tools and Cues to Enhance Navigation Awareness) which she introduces as follows:

Virtual Reality (VR) has been described as "a magical window onto other worlds, from molecules to minds," (Rheingold, 1991). VR been proclaimed to change the way we might learn by the way people visualize and interact with objects. A major component of this visualization is the ability to view the virtual environment from different perspecties. These perspectives include exploring the environment in an egocentric manner, flying above the environment to gain an exocentric viewpoint, or combining the exocentric view with the egocentric view. Obvious questions arise with so much visual orientation potential: Will the participants know where they are in a large-scale virtual environment? Will they know where other objects or locations are? Will they recognize what objects they are looking at? Finally, does experiencing a synthetic environment lead to similar behaviors a person would have in the real world under similar circumstances?

For Shamus Smith et al. (Drowning in Immersion, 1997), it is commonly believed, but not proven, that virtual reality attains its power by captivating the user's attention to induce a sense of 'immersion' and 'presence'. This is what sets virtual reality apart from other interface metaphors. They argue that both these terms have been loosely used within the virtual reality literature. They set aside the technological issues of immersion and look at some of the basics of immersion itself as a means of understanding what may or may not be required in a proposed virtual reality (VR) system. But they do not discuss navigational issues.

Of related interest is the manner in which aesthetics is an integral feature of web navigation. Bernadette Flynn (Towards an Aesthetics of Navigation: spatial organisation in the cosmology of the adventure game) explores the aesthetics of player space as a distinctive element of the gameplay experience. An understanding of aesthetic spatial issues as an element of player interactivity and engagement is seen as important for understanding the cultural practice of adventure gameplay.


Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.