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Annex 1 of
Conceptual Realities: clues to the dynamics of enacting new paradigms through
Metaphoric Entrapment (Annex
from embodiment within traps
Clues to Movement
and Attitude Control (Annex
Combining Clues to
Movement and Attitude Control (Annex
Clues to 'Ascent'
and 'Escape' (Annex
Combining Clues to 'Ascent' and 'Escape' (Annex
Possibilities of entrapment
It may first be useful to distinguish the following situations in which metaphoric
Entrapping others: In this mode, individuals or groups, whether intentionally
or inadvertently, set up a dynamic that entraps others within a particular metaphoric
framework. This is most clearly seen in modern advertising campaigns, whether
for commercial, political, or other purposes. It might be considered an important
skill of leaders and intimately related to any charisma they may possess --
notably in the case of leaders of religious movements, and especially cults.
In all these forms, the process may be described as "manipulative" -- as exemplified
by the current visibility of political "spin-doctors". In interpersonal situations,
it may be described as "doing a number" on someone, or using "a line". Much
sales training is concerned with developing this facility. But any effort to
"market" a perspective, including that of a particular academic school of thought,
is a variant of this form -- including many aspects of courtship processes.
Consultants may be considered successful to the extent that they can entrain
clients into use of their favourite model. Of course there is also the form
of entrapment associated over the centuries with witchcraft and sorcery, if
only in folk tales. In this case it is named as spell-casting, and it continues
to be practiced both within groups in western society as well as in traditional
societies. But storytelling and spinning tales are also appreciated for the
pleasures, insights and nourishment they bring.
Entrapping oneself: In this mode, a person cultivates a pattern of belief
or enthusiasm by which he or she effectively become entrapped. Unlike the previous
case, it is not necessary that the person become subject to some pattern deployed
by others. Rather, through their own life experience and proclivities, a belief
pattern takes form and acquires increasing coherence. In its pathological forms
this would be labelled as delusion, and can acquire cumulative power so that
the person is "sucked into" it, as with a whirlpool or blackhole. However, the
process of developing a romantic attachment, or falling in love, might also
be seen in this light. But so would the inordinate desire for a particular experience
-- an addictive habit. Clearly entrapping oneself can be facilitated by interaction
with others in which case the entrapment process is reinforced by such interaction
-- possibly through a form of co-dependency.
Being entrapped by others: This is the counterpart to the first form,
and some measure of the second. In this case one is subject to an entrapment
process, or "buys into it" in some way. At a material level, this is perhaps
most clearly seen in the case of a design produced by others that one finds
pleasing or appropriate, or at least tolerable. In contemporary society product
branding ensures that consumers are entrapped with little freedom to escape
-- as in the environments created by restaurant and hotel chains. People are
conditioned to accept the aesthetics of such designs. Expressed in the language
of folk tales, one becomes entranced through appropriate enchantment. Legitimacy
is occasionally given to it by mainstream preoccupation with "de-programming",
or even "exorcism". Again, however, the courtship response to a suitor may be
seen in this light.
Developing a framework: Without seeking to question the merits of the
previous forms, there is a sense in which each of them depends on a measure
of lack of awareness, whether on the part of the entrapper or the entrapped.
In this form, however, although a kind entrapment takes place, it is consciously
accepted as a necessary behavioural constraint -- a platform or base from which
other concerns can be explored. This is most clearly seen in the construction
of a shelter, a house, or a base camp. It is necessary for protection against
the 'elements', or possibly against theft or attack. One may have
privileged access to it, in the form of a key, a password, or qualifications.
But inhabiting it is a form of entrapment by choice. Another example is a monastic
rule that provides a discipline within which people choose to function, and
which may be the basis for the construction of a closed monastery within which
people live out their lives -- although for particular individuals this example
may be tainted by the previous forms. In this form the "entrapped" have the
key to the framework by which they are entrapped. They are not imprisoned or
incarcerated by it. It has been consciously chosen. At best this is the nature
of an explanatory model. However, the owners or inhabitants may develop a degree
of attachment to the model such that they effectively lose the key, or the ability
to use it. They are then unable to leave the framework and reframe themselves,
notably into the second form.
Detachment from embodiment within traps
The previous section endeavoured to show the ambiguity of entrapment in practice.
People may indeed be entrapped in a manner that can only be described as incarceration,
even though they may not be aware of it. But, as with story telling, the entrapment
may be a gentle, instructive form of enchantment. Or it may imply all the learnings
of romantic attachment, or embodiment of a profoundly held belief. And it may
be a provisional model of reality, a stepping stone to further understanding.
In this light, "freedom" from any form of entrapment could easily be understood
as simply another form of entrapment -- an entrapment in trap avoidance. A subtler
form of freedom would be the freedom to choose to be entrapped, knowing that
one could escape from the trap at any time. This implies an attitude that resonates
with the Buddhist understanding of detachment. Such detachment is tolerant of
being entrapped for a while -- until it is time to move on. This offers the
larger freedom of entering into the experiences associated with different traps,
experiencing them from within.
There is therefore a sense in which reality can only be experienced through
embodiment in the framework offered by a trap. However it is the attitude to
such entrapment that is the key to being able to switch into experience through
other frameworks -- through other traps. Each trap is effectively a kind of
discipline. The attitude to that discipline determines whether it can be set
aside to escape that trap. But such escape is seldom an escape into "traplessness",
rather it is an escape into another form of entrapment. This is perhaps most
charmingly illustrated by Konrad Lorentz's experiment with ducklings which,
on escaping from their eggs, "imprinted" themselves on the first moving object
they thereafter encountered -- namely his boots, subsequently followed as their
mother. There are many situations, whether political, romantic, academic, or
spiritual, where the escape from one trap into a larger reality is accompanied
by some analogue of such imprinting. It throws a harsh light on "conversion"
and other forms of 'breakthrough'.
The "meta-discipline" that governs the attitude, and the skill (required to
set aside any discipline) has no name. Detachment is one of its qualities. It
may perhaps be understood through metaphor. A good example might be a person's
attitude to choice of clothing. Equipped with a varied wardrobe, a person may
choose to wear one garment rather than another, to wear a particular combination
of garments, or to change any one of them. In this sense each garment is a trap
and wearing any combination is a form of entrapment that may be appropriate
to the challenge of the environment or the occasion. The person has no need
to feel entrapped in any permanent way, but a choice has to be made to wear
some combination of garments -- or none at all. Of course, if the person has
an absolutely minimal wardrobe, the choice is extremely limited and the lack
of choice may be experienced as a much more permanent trap. But even with a
more extensive wardrobe, the person may also get into the habit of wearing one
combination of clothes and be unable to act otherwise -- as with grey-suited
officials, and others working in uniform.
With respect to behavior and beliefs, people seldom have the same detachment
that they do with respect to clothing. Some form of "uniform" is the rule --
as is evident in the enthusiasm of academics and consultants for particular
models. Switching attitudes would appear to be a mark of inconsistency. It is
very challenging for a scientist to switch between models -- despite the archetypal
complementarity between the wave and particle theories of light. Some understanding
of the skill is offered by the way in which people gifted in interpersonal relations
adjust their behaviour when encountering others, notably parents or children.
For then the dynamics required may in each case be understood as a trap -- possibly
to be avoided on occasion.
One situation explored by a number of writers is however of relevance to comprehending
the complexity of multiple realities. That is the problem of piloting or navigating
a spacecraft through "hyperspace" or "sub-space", as imagined in the light of
recent advances in theoretical physics and mathematics. Because of the inherent
complexity of such environments, several writers have explored the possibility
that pilots and navigators might choose appropriate metaphors through which
to perceive and order their task in relation to that complexity - for example,
flying like a bird, windsurfing, swimming like a fish, tunnelling like a mole,
etc (see discussion below on animal movement). The mass of data input, otherwise
completely unmanageable is then channelled to the pilot in the form of appropriate
sensory inputs to the nerve synapses corresponding to his "wings" or his "fins".
The perceptions through the chosen metaphor are assisted by artificial intelligence
software. The pilot switches between metaphors according to the nature of the
hyperspace terrain. It may prove to be the case that insights into the variety
and combinations of such complex 'terrains' have been richly mapped
by the Chinese classic, the I Ching [more].
Such speculations do at least stimulate imagination concerning a possible marriage
between metaphor and artificial intelligence in relation to governance.