Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
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Combining Clues to 'Ascent' and 'Escape'

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Annex 5 of Navigating Alternative Conceptual Realities: clues to the dynamics of enacting new paradigms through movement (2002)

Metaphoric Entrapment (Annex 1)
Clues to Movement and Attitude Control (Annex 2)
Combining Clues to Movement and Attitude Control (Annex 3)
Clues to 'Ascent' and 'Escape' (Annex 4)
Combining Clues to 'Ascent' and 'Escape' (Annex 5)
** Tuning and playing category arrays: methodological challenges
** Patterns of aesthetic associations

Clues to ascent

Clues to 'ascent' from a disparate variety of sources are very tentatively (even crudely) juxtaposed in the following table -- excluding at this stage, for reasons of space, those deriving from spiritual traditions (although they appear to follow a similar pattern). The intention is to show how, in a number of well-known domains, there is a possible progression in the manner in which the relationship of self to other may be understood. This may be described as an 'ascent', or as a progression in subtlety (namely an 'escape' from simplistic understandings), or as some form of transcendence of duality. But in this sense, where or what is 'up'? The 'up' in such a case may perhaps be understood as a form of attenuation of the subjective dissociation from objective reality -- a progressive blurring and reframing of subject-objection relations such that the reality experienced may well be enacted.

This reflects the perspective articulated by Francisco Varela (Laying Down a Path in Walking: essays on enactive cognition, 1997).It is also consistent with that of Stéphane Lupasco (Le Principe d'antagonisme et la logique de l'énergie, 1987, Chapitre IV):

Les Propriétés spatio-temporelles de la Logique Dynamique du Contradictoire: 'un élément, un événement, un phénomène, précisément de par sa structure logique . . . ne se déroule pas dans le temps, mais déroule un temps.' (p. 101) and 'Ainsi les phénomènes, quels qu'ils soient, ne se déroulent pas dans l'espace, mais déroulent un espace. . . . L'espace, comme le temps, sont des fonctions des éléments, plutôt des ensembles, des systèmes d'éléments.' (p. 110)

The 'ascent' is unlike the launching of a spacecraft into orbit, and more a launching of the vehicle of awareness into some form of inner space through modification of its relationship to the surrounding reality (perhaps akin to fictional speculations about the 'movement' of spacecraft in the distant future -- a form of displacement 'in place'). Indeed some have warned of the metaphoric trap associating 'ascent' or 'up' with 'better' (George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Metaphors We live By. 1980 [review]).

The nature of the 'ascent' is described in the sequence of rows, starting with the first. This reflects to some degree the sequence of rows (similarly colour coded) in Table 2.

Table 6: Juxtaposition of stages of refinement from different domains with respect to understanding relationships
Relationship to other Martial
(aikido, karatedo)
(politics, education)
A 1 Conquest, domination, imposition, indifference Principle of inversion: whatever has a beginning has an end; antagonism in time

Courtesy at all times

Instinctual, appetite, hunger, thirst, no discretion; sexual love, pleasure (Mikareu)

Isolation, in which no alternative perspective is encountered Imposition of goods and services irrespective of views of consumer Monotone (enunciation of single pattern of values, drowning out or ignoring all others) Physical judgement: mechanical, simple, blind. physical reaction to heat and cold etc War is all-out, sustained fighting between organized armed forces.
2 Requiring: recognition, respect, submission Principle of front and back: whatever has a front (omote) has a back (ura); antagonism in matter

Unfaltering devotion to the task at hand.

Physiological,erotic, seeking comfort or sensual pleasure; sensory love or sensuality, which seeks satisfaction and pleasure (Koi, Suki).

Hostility, in which other perspectives are demonized Forced sale (hard sell marketing) Competing monotones (recognition of discordant patterns of values) Sensorial judgement: distinguishes opposites all the degrees between two extremes: colors, shapes, temperatures, agreeable and disagreeable tastes sympathy or hostility Crisis is a level of conflict with tense confrontation (threats and skirmishes) between mobilized armed forces.
3 Competition, stimulation, excitement, mutual respect Principle of non duplication: there is nothing identical in this world; no two thiings are dentical.

Seizing the initiative in all things, whilst guarding against animosity or thoughtlessness.

Emotionally universal, psychological sentimental love, romantic affection (Ai)

Competition, in which the differences from other perspectives are stressed in order to establish their inferiority Competitive marketing in response to niche opportunities cultivating comparative advantage, locked-in consumers and marginalizing competitors Responding tones (contrasting volumes responding to each other in some measure) Affective judgement: what attracts us effectively and what frightens us or may harm us; what is desirable or undesirable Structural violence when one is much stronger than another encouraging its repression thru injustice rather than physical violence
B 4 Sustainable pattern of relationship of different modes Principle of balance: the bigger the front, the bigger the back.

Detachment from reward

Intellectual love, the minds attraction to study of the arts and sciences. Understanding, systematic, calculating, scientific expert, knowledge and research. (Konomi)

Partnership, in which differences are perceived as secondary to similarities, stressing underlying unity Recognition of the marketing advantage of cultivating a long-term relationship with consumers Runs of tones...simple melodies (highlighting of sequences of values in resonance one with another) Intellectual or conceptual judgement: leads to knowledge, abstraction, and synthesis of concepts; develops conception of the two antagonistic categories: good and evil, just and unjust. Unstable peace or "cold war" involving palpable tension and suspicion among parties, possibly with sporadic overt violence. A "negative peace" prevails: little physical violence but no friendship. Relationship not valued enough to avoid coercion. Tensions rise and fall
5 Persuasion, orientation of other Principle of dual origin: change (differentiation and motion) as well as stability (a momentary state of equilibrium between two fundamental; universal, dialectic,opposing, and interchanging forces as they exchange their energy and direction) are products ot yin and yang.

Maintaining correct posture

Social or humanitarian love; philanthropy (Tanoshimi)

Dialogue as a means of conversion (of the other, necessarily perceived as in need of converting), in which each essentially competes with the other Marketing through education of consumers; upscaling consumers Isolated chords (harmonious value complexes and combinations) Social judgment: beyond oneself from ego to family, friends, school Stable peace or "cold peace" is a relationship of limited communication and cooperation within a context of basic order, mutual respect and general absence of violence. Value or goal differences remain; any competition follows accepted rules; disputes generally worked out in non-violent, more or less predictable ways.
6 Mutual learning, discovery, receptivity to feedback Principle of polarization: the two conflicting forces of yin and yang are the right and left hands of the one absolute infinity

Persistence in practice

Spiritual love, devotion to the great religions and philosophies; ideological love (Tattobi, Uyamai)

Dialogue as a negotiation, in which the aim is agreement, and the search for "common ground" (which may be reduced to a lowest common denominator, labelled as syncretism) Attentive response to consumer needs in product innovation and development Sequences of chords (sequences of value complexes, providing a context for those of a more discordant nature) Ideological judgement: dualism, materialism and spiritualism, life's affirmation or negation, etc Durable peace, "lasting," "positive" or "just peace" involving both a high level of cooperation with awareness and pursuit of conflicting interests; overall relationship valued more than specific self-interests.
C 7 Learning through losing to (or being led by) other Principle of polarizable monism: the universe, the world of oneness, is unchanging, limitless, constant, and omnipotent. It is infinity itself and produces, transforms, increases, destroys, and gives rebirth to all people and things both physical and spiritual.

Contemplation of action as an opportunity for improvement.

Absolute all embracing love (Itukushimi,Kanashimi)


Dialogue as the search for mutual understanding, without necessarily seeking agreement Willingness to engage in marketing experiments with a risk of significant loss in order to benefit consumers or sustain a healthy market   Constitution & conception of the universe and life, where we are able to embrace all opposites in order to establish the grand universal unification. Harmonious relationship between communities and nations in which there are virtually no conflicts of interests or values.
8 Recognizing inherent validity of other Transformation of selfish desires   Dialogue as integration, through which perspective is obtained on the weak points of one's own views and the strengths of the other's, with mutually beneficial acquisition of facilities of the other Recognition of the comparative merits of competing products and ability to present real choices to consumers  
9 Unboundedness, union with other Begin with a point and end in a circle.   Dialogue as activity, in which those involved together discover forms of understanding which none had known before, namely a movement "beyond dialogue" in which there is mutual transformation. Development of partnership relationship with consumers
D 10 Illusion of self-other Essential insight through experience, whatever its demands.  
11 Proactive enacting, sacificing to engender Abundance of rewards of a confident and grateful heart
12 ? Willingness to push oneself to the limits of endurance, to persevere under any kind of pressure. (osu)
[more; more] [more; more] [more] [more] [more]

As an example, in the case of conflict (in the above Table), the commentary in the source on the gradations indicates some of the reservations regarding such distinctions.

The gradations from all-out war to harmony provide a kind of barometer of peace and conflict. In actual situations, these different conditions are not sharply demarcated but are matters of degree which shade gradually from one to another. Situations may exhibit several levels of conflict. Yet distinguishing these gradations has several practical implications for policy-makers and practitioners. The gradations suggest that conflicts and peace rarely, if ever, arise suddenly, shift quickly from one status to another, or end suddenly. Relations do not move from total peace to total war without going through intermediate states -- even the "Cold War" evolved through periods of direct confrontation, détente, and renewed hostility. [more]

The sequence of stages (in the above Table) in the case of the martial arts is valuable because of its widespread recognition in principle (through judo belt colours and rankings) by many who would not acknowledge the subtleties of such distinctions in other domains (in parallel columns of the Table 6). It is amusing to compare the juxtaposition of martial art distinctions about understandings of 'the other' with stages in the appreciation of 'the other' in love -- whether in the light of tantric philosophy, the stages of 'ninja love' popularized by Eric Van Lustbader, or otherwise (eg the 'marital arts'). As in all the examples, the distinction may be appreciated and recognized in one domain but considered meaningless in another. A practitioner of the martial arts may have no sensitivity to analogous distinctions in the case of dialogue. Similarly many might be sensitive to higher skills in marketing, salesmanship and conmanship without considering how subtler relationship to a potential client may offer strategic lessons in other domains [more].

Accepting that Mahatma Gandhi could usefully be described as a nonviolence '10th Dan Black Belt', the question remains how the attitudes characterizing such behaviour are to be meaningfully distinguished from those of any lesser mastery of nonviolence. Given much improved version of such a framework, how might it become useful to distinguish the capacities of those who can really 'handle themselves' in very tough relationship situations? Superficially there is recognition of the skills of those described as: a 'cool customer', resounding unreactively to insults; skilled in repartee or in debate (as exemplified by some lawyers capable of rapidly changing tack between emotional and rational appeals); as well as the many dramatizations of the ability of a hero(ine) to handle themselves extraordinarily well in impossible situations. One might usefully speculate on the extent to which these reflect, or are exceeded by, the attitudinal skills of the Shao Lin monks underlying their recently publicized dynamic encounters with each other [more; more], or of those whose understanding of polarities is disciplined through skill in quarterstaff combat [more]. It is worth noting in, relation to metaphoric descriptions of these skills, whether as attitudes or in physical movement, that they make extensive use of references to the movements of animals of the type described earlier.

A commentary with regard to the stages of environmental education makes the important point that any such framework of 'stages' (notably criticized by feminist scholars) distracts from the degree to which each stage is complementary rather than superseded:

The evolution of environmental education has required closer and renewed investigation into learning processes. It has become customary to define the components of learning relevant to environmental sustainability. These are sometimes described, misleadingly, as 'stages'. Even though they may seem to follow a natural sequence and be discrete in themselves, people's encounter with issues of sustainability can begin and develop from any of these components. They should be seen as cyclical and interactive, with periods focused on reflection, research, development and action. (Comments, which apply equally to formal and informal education, adapted from the international edition of Teaching for a Sustainable World, edited by John Fien, 1996 (Introduction xxvi-xxvii). [more; more]

The variety of relationships of an individual to the environment also acquires a meaningful policy dimension in the following table, whether through personal behaviours (Part I) or collective policy (Part II). Table 7 results from the combination of two separate tables developed by Nadia McLaren (In the Global Village: options for moving beyond Binge, Whinge, Cringe or Stinge in local green accounting) in the light of initial work by Peter Harper (Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales). The row-column organization of the original tables has been transposed here to correspond to the A-D row organization of the colour coded tables above.

Table 7: Stages in relationship of individuals to the environment
  Part I: Evolution of personal behaviours    Part II: Evolution of policy types and their corresponding indicators
'Cringe' 'Binge' 'Whinge' 'Stinge' 'Singe' 'Tinge' 'Fringe' 'Hinge'
Harm avoidance
Behavioural inhibition
Reward dependence
behavioural maintenance
Behavioural activation
Continuity, consistency
Harm avoidance
Behavioural inhibition
Reward dependence
Behavioural maintenance
Behavioural activation
Continuity and consistency
A Self-directedness
Narrow view
Stick to rules
Projection of problems onto others
Avoid strangers
Seek material reward
Selfishness / greed
Conspicuous consumption
Self-serving complaints
Blame others
Impulsive, and often overwhelmed by events
"Do just enough to get by"
Blanket restriction
"No exceptions"
Scorched earth
'The pain is worth it'
Mutual reinforcement
Hidebound Status quo
"Business as usual"
B Cooperation I
My family / Our mob
Reluctant reformism
Respect for authority
End justifies means
Personal improvement
Personal gratification
"Keeping up with Jones"
"No pain, no gain"
Accept others weaknesses
"Tough love"
"This hurts me more than it hurts you"
Growth is good for us
"Blue sky"
Historically determined
C Cooperation II
Selective philanthropy
Enlightened conservatism Pre-sustainability
"Do unto others..."
Reuse, Recycling
"Put money where mouth is"
Stay within means
Accept own weaknesses
Facing up to the truth
Sharing the load
"We'll tighten our belts together"
Image building
Exploring alternate models
Favour variety
Test all possibilities
Proven link
Experimentally tested
D Self- transcendence
Global community
Broader view
"Bite the bullet"
Implement tough decisions
Mending damage
Act according to conscience
Personal fulfilment
Spiritual nourishment

Open to change
Test the limits

Discipline Remediation
Sharing responsibility
Precautionary principle Internalisation of environmental costs
Vision embodiment
Collective fulfilment
Shared celebration
Intragenerational equity
Risk taking
In touch with minority views
Reconciling existing with emergent
Carrying the load
Intergenerational equity

Tuning and playing category arrays: methodological challenges

Bringing together quite disparate conceptual materials from different cultures or sectors poses a major challenge. Although the category sets may purport to relate to similar preoccupations, juxtaposing them may serve primarily to emphasize their differences or the perils of associating them too closely. Whatever the failings of the author, it is however useful to consider that the future will see some of these discrepancies as a reflection of failure of discernment in this historical period of cultural development. It may therefore be more helpful to understand the different tables above (as presumptuously constructed or adapted by the author) as somewhat akin to variously fretted and strung musical instruments, poorly designed and very badly tuned.

That said, one is then free to consider, metaphorically, issues such as:

For the benefit of musicians, a virtual fretboard is already available. It displays the layout of the fretboard for any fretted instrument for any chord or scale, for any tuning and in all keys (for example, providing the user with the ability to freely produce guitar chord charts quickly and easily). New instruments, tunings, chords and scales can be added at any time in response to new insights [more]. What is required, in relation to the category schemes explored here, is some means of working with multiple category schemes and shifting between them. Whatever the value of the instruments of the simplest organization, there is no reason not to explore the possibilities of instruments with multiple keyboards, as in the case of metaphorical analogues to the organ.

Patterns of aesthetic associations

Whatever the techniques of 'playing' such a conceptual array, some inkling of how a new reality is enacted and sustained is suggested by patterns of aesthetic associations -- notably in poetry. The features of a poem, especially an epic, may interact with one another to activate an alternative mnemonic context or framework [more]. It is the movement of attention around the pattern that sustains the space -- rather like the movement of molecules that effectively exert pressure on the inner surface of a balloon to keep it expanded. Such movement of sustaining attention is a characteristic of 'diamond dialogue' [more]. It is Marsilio Ficino who has perhaps best alluded to this understanding and practice for the western world [more] although the most systematic and subtlest approach effort to map such patterns is still probably that of the eastern I Ching [more; more].

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