5 August 2001 | DRAFT
Varieties of experience of past-present-future complexes
- / -
Tentative adaptation and development from Arthur
Young's The Geometry of Meaning
(1978) as applied to 12-phase
learning / action cycles. 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.
In this adaptation, the focus is on distinguishing 12 distinct "mixes"
of past, present and future as they are experienced. Each mix offers a different
quality of experience. (see commentary below)
|Comparison with norms
or memory of previous experience
with previous comparisons Patterns
Awareness of self-awareness
Cyclic time / Feedback
Observation; act of considering; position
determination; reactive learning based on immediate registration of phenomena;
assessment of distance; "sizing up"
reaction; passive adaptation or change of position in response to changing
Spontaneous initiation of transformative
action; commitment to a new course of action
of transformative action. Cybernetics
Recognition of moment(-ousness),
relevance (as related to leverage), significance
; weight of facts; bringing matters into focus
Recognition of the momentum
(of an issue) resulting from a change, namely the consequential transformation
of awareness or perspective
Engendered, experienced or embodied as a result of transformative action;
constructive (or disruptive) action potential; enhanced sense of being
Establishment of disciplined
pattern of response; consolidated or harmonious control of action
potential; holding forces in check
Faith in paradigm of the moment;
unexamined or habitual commitment to a process
projection or understanding, irrespective of inconsistent disturbing factors.
Moment of inertia.
to act or initiate a process determining
Achievement of a desired result
by application of understanding (and adjustment
of implicit beliefs) in response to external factors; working action on
of acquired knowledge;
know-how; integrated or embodied experience; capacity (including that
of not acting); non-action
Arthur Young derived his systemization of the original action/learning cycles
from consideration of the types of knowledge associated with piloting a helicopter.
He himself was intimately involved in the design and development of the original
Bell helicopter. The challenges of control and piloting in three dimensions
provide rich insights into the challenges of navigating in space-time and knowledge
space. He associated dimensionless constants, well-known to physics, with each
dynamic feature of this process -- hence the symbols in the table.
Columns [A], [B], [C], [D] distinguish 4 different kinds of time:
- Column [A] = sense of timelessness. Column A is primarily
identifying and relating to experience (sensing it); an "intention" barrier
must be passed to get into Column B.
- Column [B] = conventional arrow of calendar time fundamental
to western culture. Column B is developing intentions with respect to experience;
an "action" barrier must be passed to get into Column C.
- Column [C] = time "bent" effectively by
a process of comparison. Column C is engaging in action; a "continuity" barrier
must be passed to get into Column D where the action can be rendered sustainable.
- Column [D] = time curved back on itself through feedback
loops into the cyclic time of processes. These columns effectively distinguish
experientially different kinds of "future". Column D is ensuring
that action is controlled and maintained knowledgeably; a "contextual" barrier,
recognizing new feedback loops, must be passed to get into Column A
(repeating the learning cycle within a larger framework).
Rows , ,  bring in the knower/known locus of experience
in 3 different ways:
- Row  based on the "L" dimension, might be considered
as space-like time, namely the "past" as a legacy pattern
in an abstract speculative space. This row is essentially about knowing,
framing, scoping and clarification (processes of the "head"). Row
1 is primarily intellectual and detached from reality "on the ground" or "in
the field", even if it is obliged to theorize about it; a "concern" barrier
must be passed to get into Row 2 experience.
- Row  introducing the "M" dimension (meaning)
to accompany the "L" dimension, might be considered as the emergence
of a focus of significance, an experiential centre of gravity in a
recognized "present". This row is essentially about concern, involvement
and participation (empathetic processes of the "heart"). Row 2 is
concerned with, or involved with, grounded reality -- but without "being there";
a "grounding" barrier must be passed to get into Row 3 experience.
- Row  here the "M" dimension is combined with
"L2", indicating an engagement of the experiencer --
a degree of identification with experience. This row is essentially about
grounding, doing and praxis (processes of the "guts", "walking
the talk", or "being there"). Row 3 is identified with grounded
reality in some way; a "comprehension" barrier must be passed to get into
Row 1 experience (repeating the learning cycle within a larger framework)
Within each of the 12 cells of the table, space-time is "twisted"
or knotted for the experiencer in different ways -- giving a different
braiding together of "past", "present" or "future"
in each case. These might also be understood as spatio-temporal knottings of
Each of the 12 experiential modes has a vital function. The challenge is that
their complementarity is not necessarily recognized -- nor the distinctions
between the profound and superficial ways each may be understood. Certain modes
are easily neglected -- at least in mainstream thinking -- notably those in
Row 3 and those in Column D. Because of its lower "dimensionalty", it tends
to be easier to engage in mode A1 or A2, for example, which are over-emphasized.
The current challenge is to give meaning and force to modes of type D3, that
correspond to sustainable development.
Torus representation: As implied above, the Row 1 modes of experience
can also usefully be considered as bordering the Row 3 modes -- by rolling the
table into a cylinder. Similarly the Column A modes can also be considered as
bordering the Column D modes -- by connecting the ends of the cylinder to form
a torus. It is on the surface of this torus that the connectivities between
the mode types might be more appropriately comprehended. A possible representation
of this structure, appropriately coloured, has been developed as a hypersphere
to illustrate Arthur Young's insights (http://www.hypersphere.com/hs/abouths.html)
The words used to describe each of the 12 individual past-present-future modes
are commonly encountered in describing strategies -- notably in the declarations
of international organizations. The diagonals suggest a pattern of progressive
engagement towards sustainable action "on the ground":
Negative variants of each mode necessarily also exist.
- Diagonal A1: Monitoring type
strategy, frequently used as a preliminary to any other strategy, whether
relating to massacres or environmental disasters. Response to many issues
is often limited to this, notably by the academic community.
- Diagonal A2-B1: Acknowledgment of the issue and
adaptive response to it. This has little effect "on the ground" but administrative
and intellectual frameworks and procedures may be adjusted to take account
of the issue.
- Diagonal A3-B2-C1: The issue evokes empathy (reassuring
the victims), official warnings and calls for action, and initiation of patterns
of response. This is typical of responses by the international community /
media / local activist complex. New issues, including potential genocides,
notably evoke strategies of type B2, namely "deploring", "protesting", etc
by the international community -- possibly accompanied by "undertaking", and
"initiating" strategies (type C1), but without significant follow-up.
- Diagonal B3-C2-D1: Concerns expressed on the preceding
diagonal may lead to strategies of type B3, namely "resolving", "deciding",
etc -- on the part bodies such as the UN Security Council. Decisions are taken,
coalitions are formed, orders are given and supervisory structures are set
up. This may be framed as effecting change, but this form of implementation
typically lends itself to positive reporting on action taken with little awareness
of whether this is effective "on the ground".
- Diagonal C3-D2: Enforcement becomes evident "on
the ground" and coordination is ensured with respect to the continuity of
the implementation process. Unfortunately the engagement is such that the
"continuity" is essentially short-term and tends to be eroded and abandoned
once attention passes to other issues. This is typical of many responses to
issues that are momentarily in the public eye.
- Diagonal D3: Action becomes sustainable through
building in procedures that guarantee long-term continuity based on appropriate
attention to feedback loops. However any such form of grounded, sustainable
action is itself challenged by unforeseen issues and feedback loops that may
call for new kinds of issue detection and monitoring (Diagonal A1).
Meeting participation: It is also fruitful to see each of the 12 modes
as reflecting the complementary views that need to be expressed at an archetypal
strategic "roundtable" (Camelot style). The specific relationships between each
such view have been tentatively explored in an earlier study on Toward a
New Order of Meeting Participation (https://www.laetusinpraesens.org/docs/contract.php)
that charts the Shadowy Roundtable Hidden within every Meeting. This
endeavours to show how the seemingly "external" issues tend to be reflected
in the different behaviour styles of meeting participants -- and the need for
a new kind of participant contract to move beyond such constraints.
Styles of collective action: The table may be fruitfully explored to
identity styles of action that are enhanced or inhibited in particular cases.
Science favours the first row, whereas technology favours the second and third.
Business and government agencies favour Rows B and C, especially where it is
a matter of "business as usual" and Project Logic. Religion favours
Column A. Much collective action is challenged by Column D, whilst aspiring
to Cell D3.
Individual action: The relevance of the above typology can also be explored
in relation to individual or community group action. The status of a "New Year's
Resolution" with respect to personal sustainable development is then clarified
-- it demonstrates the nature of the challenge for international organizations
inspired by the many Resolutions on that topic.
Relationship to other mappings
The table above is a mapping. It is one form of presentation and therefore
subject to the questions raised in the other parts of this paper. Such a map
is necessarily not what it endeavours to map. It can only be a rough configuration
of pointers. As argued by Magoroh Maruyama, even its tablular presentation is
a very particular form of distortion of the experiential reality of navigating
spatio-temporal experience. As in any periodic table, there is more continuity
between the modes isolated here in cells of the above table than is implied
by the cell boundaries of that structure. A person is continually shifting between
the modes -- as with a helicopter pilot flying "by the seat of his pants",
or a surfer riding a wave. When "in the flow" such movement is more
like a dance, or playing an instrument -- with several modes active as a chord
at any one time, and the table reframed as an existential keyboard. "Control"
as a metaphor may indeed be inadequate in situations in which the capacity to
let go and be controlled is also significant.
This is one reason why there are a number of such configurations. In principle
they should all map onto each other in some way. But each is effectively a distorted
limited projection (of a more complex reality) into whatever can be presented
in two dimensions. It is therefore a mistake to seek too close a correspondence
between one mapping and another. It is however useful to see such mappings as
all pointing towards a more comprehensive mapping, even though it is unclear
what form(s) it might take -- and recognizing that one particular mapping may
be at any time more convenient for one purpose (or culture) than for another.
What is required is a tentative methodology for juxtaposing mappings
as complementary perspectives on a more complex reality. In many respects such
mappings may be incommensurable. However what is important is that each suggests
alternative ways of thinking that are not sufficiently explicit in other mappings
in the set. Premature closure, or particular preferences, are what needs to
In these terms, consider some of the possibilities:
Symbolism: Arthur Young himself sought a relationship between his action/learning
cycles and the qualitative insights associated with zodiacal symbols and their
astrological significance. This is one way of putting flesh on an otherwise
intellectual abstraction and establishing a relationship to a symbol system
with which many identify personally, if only out of casual interest.
Enneagram: It would be interesting if 9 of the modes identified in the
table could be related to the traditional enneagram mapping of 9 modes. This
would of course imply ignoring one set of 3 modes -- perhaps those in the first
column. The enneagram offers powerful ways of exploring a network ofrelationships
between 9 modes, notably in relation to work cycles.
Phenomenological epoche: Similarly it would be interesting if Francisco
mapping of the phenomenological epoche into three interlinked cycles corresponded
in some way with the three rows of the table. His description of the braiding
together of these processes indicates the limitation of any tabular "presentation"
and the necessary circularity (which would be clearer in the suggested projection
of the table onto a torus):
We can make out, at the heart of the process of becoming-aware, which is
the reflective act or the phenomenological reduction in action, the two sides
of epoche which are the reflexive/redirection and the reception/letting-go,
a correlated double movement. We can also describe its components as moments
of emergence, as the unfolding of the process. The first unfolding, which
leads to reflection (and on to expression) is characterized by a turning in
on oneself; the second unfolding, which leads to a letting-go (and ends in
a tacit intuition) is characterized by an openness to oneself.
In the first case, the described movement corresponds to a loop which leads
back to itself without, however, closing in on itself, since from this loop
the second movement sets out, that of receptivity towards oneself and the
world. These two movements can be expressed by the metaphor of the braided
axis, like diastole and systole, of contraction and dilation. The first axis
is rooted in pre-reflective consciousness (pre-discursive, pre-noetic, ante-predicative,
tacit, pre-verbal, prelogical or non-conceptual; take your pick), whose reflective
capacity partially deploys the structure of pre-reflectedness, an intentional
content. This is the cognitive axis of becoming-aware. The second axis is
equally rooted in pre-reflective consciousness, but whose manifestations are
not due to its reflective capacity, but to the parallel and indissociable
gesture of letting go, intrinsically related to the affective and involuntary
dimension of experience. When the gesture of letting go intervenes, it becomes
a moment of revelation, a receptive availability. Such is the affective axis
of becoming aware. These two axis are braided in single thread, as the unity
of cognitive reflection and its inseparable affect, overlapping each other
in a dynamic way in bringing each other about. This dynamic structure of metonymy
between the core of what we have called épochè and the act of becoming aware
in its totality is, indeed, remarkable.
Buddhism: Another kind of mapping is offered by the Buddhist insight
into navigation of experiential reality as prescribed by the Eightfold
Noble Path. Understood as a set of distinct injunctions concerning conduct
in the moment, the necessity for these guiding parameters to be used in practice
as a dynamically interwoven set is easily lost -- although the moment-by-moment
interplay of controls is otherwise obvious to the driver of any other kind of
vehicle. From a Buddhist perspective, it is very much a question of appropriate
control of the human "vehicle" using the following eightfold set:
Within Buddhism there are carefully detailed explorations of how to acquire
the skills associated with each of these "controls", and the consequences
of failure to do so. It would for example be intriguing if there was a correspondence
between that set and 2 rows of the earlier table, probably the lower two --
which highlight the relationship of knower and known.
Virtues and sins: Somewhat similar to the Buddhist guidelines are those
presented by the Christian tradition in terms of virtues and sins, whose number
has variously been presented as 7 or 8. Assuming that some kind of correspondence
is possible with two of the rows of the above table, these may be usefully presented
to highlight the consequences of any failure in "good control of the vehicle"
on a moment-by-moment basis:
| Hope, which is expressed both individually
||Excessive consumption of resources,
| Will (or Courage), especially in
frequent appeals for the "generation of the political will to change"
||Anger, especially expressed in violence
| Purpose (or Dedication), increasingly
evident in the formulation of "mission statements" and implicit in "resolutions"
||Greed, especially in the accumulation
| Competence (or Discipline), increasingly
stressed as vital for effective management
||Envy, especially for resources controlled
| Fidelity or Loyalty, increasingly
a concern of corporate human relations programmes and security procedures
||Pride, typically as arrogance and
| Love, increasingly explicit in
"green" approaches to the environment and traditionally implicit in recognition
of the "brotherhood of mankind"
||Lust for power, typically as expansionism
| Care, especially evident in relief
||Apathy, typically in response to
|Wisdom, occasionally acknowledged
in calls for collective wisdom and statesmanship
||Despair, typically in acknowledging
current impotence and in recollecting past failures
Collective implications are suggested in the above table. The value and relevance
of any such set to moment-by-moment experience would however be much more easily
recognized if the correspondences to the control challenges of common vehicles
(in surfing, riding a motor bike, etc) were elaborated in the languages and
jargons of their "drivers". The traditional sets suffer a major disadvantage
of appearing irrelevant to the needs of individuals in the moment.
Collective sins: The collective implications of failure of individual
"driving skills" in the moment may be seen writ large in, for example,
Nobel prize-winning ethologist Konrad Lorenz's Civilized Man's Eight Deadly
Sins (1974). The past that Lorenz feels we must know (before judicious understanding
can prevail) is not historic, but prehistoric. We must become aware, he insists,
of the presence within us of our phylogenetic past. The eight deadly sins of
his title are the consequences of what were once virtues bred into us by evolution.
These pose the challenge of identifying the corresponding collective virtues
that might be basic to collective strategy making. Both imply some kind of correspondence
with the other mappings.
|Collective sins (Lorenz)
|Overpopulation, which turns a society
into a behavioral sink and reinforces the other sins
|Devastation of the natural environment,
with consequent atrophy of our esthetic and ethical feelings
|Ruthless "intraspecific" competitiveness,
which in the absence of effective "extra-specific" influences, "works in
direct opposition to all the forces of nature, destroying all the values
they have created"
|Entropy of feeling, an increased
sensitiveness to unpleasurable experience combined with a decreased capacity
for pleasure and a childish insistence of instant gratification
|Genetic decay, the loss through
domestication, through the loss of extraspecific selecting pressures, of
"all delicately differentiated behavior patterns of courtship and pair formation"
an of our natural sense of justice
|Break with tradition, with culture,
a body of adaptive knowledge that "has grown by selection in the same way
as it develops in an animal species" and that is just as hard to begin from
scratch as a new species of animal; plus the consequent conflict between
|Easy indoctrinability of modern
man, especially by behaviorist ideology -- "the present-day rulers of America,
China and the Soviet Union are unanimous in one opinion: that unlimited
conditionality of man is highly desirable."
|Willingness, resulting from the
first seven sins, to manufacture and use weapons of mass destruction
Acquisition of learning: As with any driving skills, it might be argued
that existential skills appropriate to the moment are only acquired progressively,
namely the modes identified in the table derived from Young might be achieved
in some meaningful order. In Erik Erikson's scheme (Childhood and Society,
1963), each individual goes through 8 stages in life. In each stage a value
crisis is experienced which is crucial for continued development. These crises
might be understood as crises in capacity to manage the moment. The stages,
with their corresponding crises are as follows:
12-step Methodologies: Given the 12-fold structure of the initial table
based on "learning/action", it is instructive to compare it with any
12-fold learning processes. As indicated by Samantha Angelina Haylett (Applied
Psychology of Addictive Orientations: studies in a 12-step treatment context,
2001), the best known 12-step methodology was formulated in relation to alcoholism
and extended to substance abuse. White (1988) reported on the existence of over
eighty 12-step related fellowships, including: Narcotics Anonymous, Over eaters
anonymous, Gamblers anonymous, and Sex and Love Addictions anonymous. There
are also groups designed to support family and friends of people who are suffering
from addiction, for example Al-Anon is a Twelve-step programme for the families
of alcholics. The Twelve Steps were first published in 1939 and contain the
original concepts and inspiration of Alcoholics Anonymous:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God
as we understood Him
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature
of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make
amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do
so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact
with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of his will for
us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried
to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in
all our affairs" . (Alcoholics Anonymous, 1976).
These were associated with six principles of recovery. The 12 steps were partly
inspired by William James's book Varieties of Religious Experience (1902).
This provided the conceptual basis for the necessity of the subjugation of the
self and the acknowledgement of powerlessness, which became known as the first
step of AA. However, little is understood about 12-step programs from a cross-cultural
perspective, and the efficacy of culturally developed programs addressing the
spiritual needs and alcohol problems of specific cultural groups, (e.g., American
Indians) have been inadequately studied.
An interesting variant has been developed for weather forecasting
- Which medium range models are available?
- Keep track of latest model changes and updated model characteristics and
- Use mean height maps...teleconnections and climate patterns to establish
- Compare initial and model forecast fields to observed data
- Contrast medium-range model runs...assess plausibility and consider the
forecast problems of the day
- Check model run..run continuity and trends
- Utilize ensemble forecasting techniques
- Check vertical and spatial model consistency
- Use short-range guidance to update forecast
- Choose model(s) or an adjusted solution
- Use experience to apply sensible weather forecasting techniques after
assessment of forecast confidence and uncertainity
- Verification makes you smarter!
There are a number of 12-step design procedures. One trade-marked variant has
been developed for computer system's "complete life-cycle
from specification through design through installation through secure ongoing
operations, maintenance and support". Another
details its steps as: grok, spec, partition/map, implement, simulate, compile,
simulate, place, route, analyze, bring-up, archive.