25 February 2009 | Draft
Engaging with Globality through Playful Re-categorizing
- / -
with Globality through Knowing Thyself
of a four-fold exploration. Produced
on the occasion of the "coronation" of
Barack Obama (as president of the country from which insightful leadership is
expected in response to global problems) and of the "crowning experience"
of the Davos World Economic Forum (for the instigators and observers of the global
credit crisis and its consequences). [Engaging with Globality
; Dimension 2: Cognitive
; Dimension 3: Cognitive
; Dimension 4: Knowing
Overview of Engaging with Globality
Logical vs Aesthetic correspondences
Surfaces and orifices
Consumption and consumerism
Annex A: Engaging
with Globality through Playful Re-categorizing
Annex B: Global
Governance via a Double-breasted Strange Attractor
Annex C: Engaging
with Globality through Dynamic Complexity
Annex D: Intercourse
with Globality through Enacting a Klein bottle
This Annex develops the theme of Playfully
engaging with globality through re-categorizing and re-classifying (as
introduced in Dimension
Its purpose is to provide a context for such playfullness and to introduce
the "playful examples" developed in Annex B, Annex C and Annex D.
Whereas the gods have been held to play -- even mischievously and
irresponsibly -- with humanity, perhaps a more fruitful understanding is
to play with the cognitive modes associated with the categories offering an
interface with globality. These might indeed then be held to be represented
by gods, if only for mnemonic purposes. In the Age of Unreason (1990)
of Charles Handy it
is then appropriate to playfully engage with his Gods
of Management (1995)
-- and to elaborate his modest pantheon to Hindu proportions
in the "changing
work of organizations" (the subtitle of the latter book).
The vital role of humour has been reviewed in Humour
and Play-Fullness: Essential integrative processes in governance, religion
and transdisciplinarity (2005). Arguably the global situation is now
far too serious to rely in any way on the unimaginative, simplistic manipulation
of those who are excessively skilled at just that -- or even only that (as the
extreme financial risk-taking has demonstrated).
too Important to be Left to Specialists: Selected web resources, 2004)
many sectors are identified where the issues are effectively "too serious" to
be left to those who claim to deal with them seriously. It was the "seriousness"
of authorities over decades, and those seriously complicit with them, that
sustained the financial superbubble and the dynamics that caused it to collapse.
It may well their "seriousness" that is sustaining other bubbles -- to
become apparent only when they too crash.
humour may indeed be an important strategic approach -- especially in response
to paradoxical complexity. As noted by Lizzy Davies (Satirists
treat Sarkozy era as a big joke, The
A newly energised legion of French comics have decided that the best way to
solve a problem like Nicolas
Sarkozy's presidency is to treat it as a joke. With pencils sharpened and
throats cleared, they are paving the way for a return of popular political
Satirical treatment of global leaders might be seen as
appropriately complementing the mockery with which authorities of any kind
have long treated -- and dismissed -- the possibility of strategic "alternatives" to
their conventionally, unimaginative approaches and catastrophic consequences. More generally this
is a feature of Liberating
Provocations: use of negative and paradoxical strategies (2005).
In a hope-challenged period, this may be contrasted with the use of "serious" by
Paul Watzlawick (The
Situation Is Hopeless, but Not Serious: the pursuit of unhappiness,
1993) who distinguishes situations which are:
- hopeless but not serious
- serious but not hopeless .
The paradoxical relationship to the "pursuit of happiness" is explored
and Unhappiness through Naysign and Nescience: comprehending the essence
of sustainability? 2008).
Following the critical argument developed
1, the explorations of Dimension
Circlets) and Dimension
Crowns) might appropriately be considered "playful" in their
The argument in Dimension
1 regarding Symptoms
of denial: gender and the underside of meetings highlighted the use
of sexual metaphor in conventional language relating to strategy and governance.
If arguments regarding the consequence of sex (namely
population increase) are as well-founded as those which sustained the financial
system prior to its crash in 2008, then the argument of economists regarding
population stabilization should be viewed with the deepest suspicion. They obscure surprises as unexpected
as the crash of the financial system.
Perhaps the mystification associated with "lost knowledge" could,
in the case of governance, be associated with a lost capacity to integrate
the complex cognitive implications of sexual dynamics into decision-making.
More to the point, in the absence of the cognitive dynamic associated
with sexuality, is there any indication that the international community has "engendered" anything
Exploring sexual metaphor further, in the spirit of "guiding the canoe" --
rather than "pushing the river" --
two other exercises have been developed as an illustration of possibilities
in the light of the dynamics associated with the 4th dimension. The approach
is framed here below (in this Annex A). In Annex
B these dynamics are "superficially"
explicit although the significant cognitive processes are implicit. More complex
cognitive "implications" are discussed in Annex
C which provides a bridge to the challenging possibility of Annex
Given the challenge of rendering the governance of a complex dynamic system
comprehensible, sexual metaphors offer a valuable and accessible cognitive
interface worldwide. The annexes can be understood as complementary explorations
of the same process. These subsequent annexes (B, C and D) can therefore be
fruitfully understood in the light of the following remarks.
Logical vs Aesthetic correspondences
The role of humour
emphasizes the need for engaging attention and alleviating
in conventional, repetitive articulation of remedial strategies -- a boredom
which reinforces the apathy that undermines democratic processes.
However, beyond attracting attention, there is a need to provide comprehensible
memorable patterns through which complexity can be "re-membered"
-- with interest -- over an extended period in order to enable appropriate
Quest of Mnemonic Catalysts -- for comprehension of complex psychosocial dynamics,
In advocating such use of mnemonic patterns there is a creative compromise
to be made between logical precision and aesthetic
memorability -- especially in relation to comprehension and communication
of the initiatives of governance. The former is potentially long and boring
whereas the latter may rely questionably, as in poetry, on "correspondences", "associations"
and "resonances", that depend to a degree on "poetic licence",
in order to suggest an integrative pattern where more is not feasible. Especially
intriguing is the coherence offered by what is framed by some as "superstition"
or inappropriate "suspicion" -- in a society in which paranoia regarding
the implications of conspiracy theories has proven to be as healthy as not.
Also intriguing is the semblance of satisfactory coherence offered by questionable
forms of argument, typically identified in any focus on critical
thinking. The inadequacy of problematic chains of arguments in no way prevents
them from being used in strategic discourse, as documented by Julian Baggini
(The Duck That Won the Lottery: and 99 other bad arguments, 2008).
challenging comparison between the correspondences tolerated by science and
those associated in symbolist and mythopoetic discourse is explored elsewhere
of Correspondences -- and potential equivalences between them in correlative
thinking, 2007). Some distinct approaches to the adequacy of "proof"
- proofs in mathematics based primarily on computer "number crunching", possibly
over many days
- proofs requring many hundreds of pages, possibly published in a wide variety
- proofs which are comprehensible to very few and require many days to read/verify
- proofs of problems whose significance itself requires many years
of study to comprehend
- proofs that selected large corporations are in vital need of bailouts using
Aesthetics points to an interesting cognitive challenge in that much contemporary
poetry and music now explores discordance and dissonance (in short time periods)
rather than developing rhyme, harmony and consonance (integrating the work
as a whole). No more than those of the UN Specialized Agencies, T-shirt slogans
do not need to be in harmony with one another or some larger context -- a situation
foreseen in the reference to a "blip culture" by Alvin
Toffler (The Third Wave, 1981). This may correspond to the
challenge of discontinuity to mathematics through the work of Heisenberg, Bohr
and Schrödinger. Assumptions
about meaningful meaning may need to take the discontinuities of correspondences
into account in order to be sustainably credible.
The question is what constitutes
meaningful connectivity capable of sustaining psycho-social coherence -- in
contrast to the degree of connectivity on which the crashed financial system
(of the past) was based. The criterion is whether the result forms a memorable,
integrative whole of operational relevance.
Especially interesting is to contrast
the connectivity of "rock
solid" rational arguments with a looser degree of bonding amongst a set
of points in an argument -- the "alignment" reviewed in Dimension
1 (and so vital to groupthink) .
This may be compared to the emphasis by Edward
de Bono (I Am Right-You Are Wrong: from Rock Logic to Water Logic,
1992) regarding the merit of such a shift -- primarily in response to governance
situations in which the rigidity of "rock logic" is dysfunctional in comparison
with the advantages to be gained from "water logic". Such a framing might be
especially relevant with respect to financial "bubbles" -- calling
logic"? As noted Dimension
4, a form of "fire logic" is even suggested
by Peter Waterman (World
Social Forum: the secret of fire, 18 June 2003).
1, the arguments of Richard Bronk (The
Romantic Economist: imagination in economics, 2009) were noted with
respect to the need by economists, in the light of the failure of their standard
model, to explore other ways of framing their preoccupations, including biology
The mnemonic and aesthetic value of sexual metaphors has been
explored on that basis -- recalling that they are in some form fundamental
to discourse within male-dominated strategic decision-making environments.
Surfaces and orifices
Framed in this way, interfacing with
the otherness of globality takes place through the surfaces associated
with the sensitivity of the various senses. However the higher degrees of engagement
are associated with the sensitivity of these senses through orifices.
In generic terms, this sensitivity is controlled and protected by opening and
closing such orifices -- as clarified by Orrin E. Klapp (Opening and Closing:
strategies of information adaptation in society, 1978). Issues of opening
(as in "free trade") and closing (as in "protectionism")
are of course a continuing focus of debate -- especially in the response to the
economic consequences of failure of the financial system in 2008.
Generically orifices offering openings are to be understood in terms of the "intercourse" so
fundamental to the significance of psychosocial processes, whether as dialogue,
in sexual behavior or otherwise ("Human
Intercourse" "Intercourse with Nature" and "Intercourse
with the Other", 2007). Sexual behaviour is widely used in descriptions
of interactions between competing perspectives and worldviews, notably in the
political, corporate and sporting worlds (Backside
to the Future: coherence and conflation of dominant strategic metaphors,
2003). However the mediating role of women in traditional
"salons" (as mentioned in Dimension
1) is highlighted by the Utne
Reader (Salons: The Joy of Conversation, 2000) with a title that
alludes to The Joy
of Sex (1972) by Alex
A much more powerful analysis of orifices in relation to comprehension and
communications processes is that of mathematician Ron Atkin (Multidimensional
Man: can man live in three dimensional space? 1981), as discussed
2. Any repetitive movement in relation to such an orifice is then distinguished
according to that analysis in terms of "re-cognition" of cognitive
and communication dynamics in relation to a "hole" or an "object".
Consumption and consumerism
understanding of the operation of orifices is also vital to comprehension of
processes of consumption, whether of commodities, services, insights or sensations.
Perhaps most fundamental in this respect are the cognitive modalities associated
with sexual intercourse. They provide the most powerful "model" of
direct engagement with reality and otherness through a variety of interfaces.
However, in contrast with other
"models", these have the unique merit of being widely comprehensible
-- with the minimum of conventional education on which other understandings
are dependent. Furthermore romance, flirtation, courtship, sex, pornography,
etc are more immediately meaningful to most than the purportedly urgent issues
of "distant" global society, supposedly vital to the survival of humanity as
it is currently known. As a readily comprehensible process, it is one of the
few to transcend binary logic by encompassing paradoxical patterns of acceptance
and denial: Yes,
No, Yes-and-No, neither-Yes-nor-No. The importance of this quadrilemma
has been highlighted by Kinhide Mushakoji (Global Issues and Interparadigmatic
There is an irony to the fact that the same term "model" is applied to the
exemplars of highly valued beauty in the fashion industry. The metaphoric
implications are notably worth exploring given that one of the original futurists,
and articulator of models, Herman
was based at the Hudson
Institute in Croton-on-Hudson (a little-known town named after the base
of Pythagoras) -- as was the World Modelling Association, whose preoccupation
was the world of fashion models. To what extent then can conceptual models
be usefully understood as versions of reality variously "dressed up" for
fashionably particular purposes? Both versions of course elicit patterns of
consumption and consumerism.
from a cognitive perspective, the Delphic injunction Know
Thyself might be fruitfully understood as a complement to "knowing"
another, in the classical Biblical euphemism. The challenge is how to integrate
these two modes of cognition -- such as to engender both oneself and any other
challenge of "The Other", 2007). From an epistemological
perspective, many leads may be offered in the study by George
Lakoff with Rafael
Mathematics Comes From: how the embodied mind brings mathematics into being,
2000).Two complementary approaches may be considered:
- metaphor: the generic significance of sexual behavior,
notably in relation to mystical insight into the globality cognitively associated
with an omipresent deity, has long been explored in many traditions. More
concretely than the poetic allusions typically used, it is the primary theme
of the tantra of
South Asian cultures for example. A significant use of metaphor has been
explored by the feminist scholar Sallie McFague (Metaphorical Theology;
models of god in religious language, 1983). She discusses the considerable
advantages of using metaphors of God as mother, as lover, and as friend,
in contrast to the traditional patriarchal model. Her point being that no
one metaphor is appropriate for all or appropriate for one person all the
More generally the question might be raised as to the appropriate set of
metaphors to enable understanding of globality, perhaps through those of
globalization (Markus Kornprobst, et al. Metaphors
of Globalization: mirrors, magicians and mutinies, 2007; Natalia
as a Metaphor, 2005; Center for Global Studies, A
Battle of Metaphors: Is Globalization a 'Rising Tide that Lifts All Boats'
or 'a Race to the Bottom'? 2008).
Any such metaphors could be fruitfully explored in relation to globalization
as a process of individual engagement with globality (Personal
- mathematics: a more formal approach, also with its mystical
associations through number symbolism, is the literature on sacred
geometry and mathematical
theology as enabling an understanding of the globality represented
by transcendent divinity (Sarah Voss, Mathematical
Theology, 2003).Of interest in this respect is the work of Anthony
Supreme Art of Dialogue: structures of meaning, 2008). The cognitive
challenges are highlighted in Distinguishing
Levels of Declarations of Principles (1980) in the light of the Representation,
Comprehension and Communication of Sets: the Role of Number (1978)
of Conceptual Integration (1984).
However, in the potentially complementary concern, the literature on mathematics
and sex is typically focused on depersonalized externalities relating
to population dynamics, courtship behaviour, and partnership choice -- as
with the exploration by Clio Cresswell (Mathematics
and Sex, 2004), appropriately chosen as a keynote speaker at a conference
"down under" of the Mathematical
Association of New South Wales (2006).
The question of the "geometry
of sex", or the "topology of sex", is
seemingly avoided -- as with any mathematical modelling of sexual intercourse
through those disciplines. The same would appear to be true of the complexity
sciences -- with the possible exception of genetic
algorithms -- despite the potentially central role of strange
attractors in any such modelling.
On the other hand, given the focus on virtual sexual intercourse in the highly
popular Second Life (and
the haptic possibilities of
the future), it is presumably the case that considerable effort is now invested
in the mathematical modelling relevant to intercourse algorithms for avatars
in that context -- as in any Massively
Multiplayer Online Virtual Sex Game (MMOVSG). A playful review by one
is like sex, but more so, 7 October 2008) points to the use of such
algorithms by Peter Miller (Eros
ex Mathematica, Perpetual Ocean Digital Image Gallery) to generate
erotic images, suggesting that intercourse might indeed be emulated
in this way.
Although applications of mathematics
to sexual behaviour focus on the depersonalized externalities of the process
and not on the cognitive processes (through which the externalities are framed),
a recent study uses game theory to distinguish the optimal strategies for male
and female (Robert Seymour and Peter D. Sozou, Duration
of courtship effort as a costly signal. Journal of Theoretical
Biology, 256, 2009).
The analysis has some relevance to the generic question of the nature, quality
and duration of any fruitful engagement with global reality -- globality. Especially
given its egg-like symbolism, it is useful to consider that globality
may effectively adopt the feminine strategic option ("when-I'm-good-and-ready"),
leading to a child and an enduringly supportive relationship. This
could then be contrasted with the opportunistic male strategic preference ("mating-with-any-woman"),
irrespective of the consequences to be irresponsibly avoided -- as in most
socio-economic approaches to "globalization" currently advocated
(notably by Davos Man, as discussed in Dimension
These contrasting perspectives suggest the merits of reflecting on courtship
patterns as offering readily comprehensible insights into the quest for sustainability (Beyond
Harassment of Reality and Grasping Future Possibilities: learnings from sexual
harassment as a metaphor, 1996). Such behaviour is of course traditionally
associated with "courts", being notably defined -- if only as
an inspiration -- by the practice of the medieval nobility of courtly
love, enabled and sustained by the troubadours.
The current perversion of any such practice -- in the "courts" of
global society, with their courtiers and courtesans -- was highlighted in Dimension
1, and is consistent with the critical argument of
Richard Bronk (The
Romantic Economist: imagination in economics, 2009) as reviewed
Such an approach might lead to a far more fruitful way of framing the challenge
of "climate change",
especially given the many insights into "sexual climate" (whether "warming"
or "cooling"). The question is then one of acquiring an understanding of the
relationship between ensuring a "climate of change" in order to manage an appropriate
"change of climate" (Climate
of Change Misrepresented as Climate Change: insights from metaphorical confusion,
Change and the Elephant in the Living Room, 2008).
Clifford A. Pickover
Passion for Mathematics: numbers, puzzles, madness, religion, and the quest
for reality, 2005) highlights the difficult mathematical problems
lurking in the ancient Indian sex manual, the Kama
Sutra. Also from
"down under", however, Janice Padula (The
Kama Sutra, Romeo and Juliet, and mathematics: studying mathematics for pleasure, Australian
Senior Mathematics Journal, July 2005) emphasizes that mathematics may
be better appreciated through the relevance to students' lives -- notably in
terms of sex and romance.
Padula refers to the interests of New Zealand mathematician
Robyn Williams (Kama
Sutra and Mathematics, 2003) in relation to the study of Indian
mathematics by George Gheverghese Joseph (The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots
of Mathematics, 2000). A blogger has gone further in outlining the scope
of a possible book (Riemann
and Lobachevsky's Kama Sutra, Halfbakery, 2002), with positions,
freed from the constraints of Euclidian flat space, to include those in positively
or negatively curved spaces.
As a sequel to the hypertext cult novel (Cong Huyen Ron Nu Nha Trang and Willia
L Pensinger, The
Moon of Hoa Binh, 1994), of highly unusual structure, the protagonist,
Derek Dillon (Strategic
Assessment Part 8) offers this comment:
The purpose behind the Kama Sutra, unlike that of internet porn,
is to move conscious awareness back up the Tree
of Life from its
genitally-fixated and fetishized bottom-end state.
|Implication of Globality by the Tree
(an 1847 depiction of the Norse Yggdrasil as described
in the Icelandic Prose Edda by Oluf Olufsen Bagge; image from Wikipedia)
As discussed in Conformality
of 7 WH-questions to 7 Elementary Catastrophes: an exploration of potential
psychosocial implications (2006):
As implied by T. van Gelder and R. Port (Beyond symbolic: towards a
kama-sutra of compositionality. In: Symbol processing and connectionist
network models in artificial intelligence and cognitive modeling : steps
towards principled integration, 1994), is there a cognitive dynamic to
interpersonal encounters of which the 64 positions of the Kama
Sutra could be considered an enactable code for multi-dimensional
understandings that cannot be verbally articulated? (cf Boris Saulnier, Au-delà du
représentationnalisme symbolique : la modélisation constructiviste
et morphodynamique des systèmes, et le défi de la compositionnalité,
2003). Such possibilities relate to the explorations of tantric
yoga. Intercourse might then be understood as "dancing with discontinuity" and
with the associated questions and answers -- expressed non-verbally through
to their consummation and "semantic" union (cf O E Rasmussen. The Dance
of Meaning: the fundamentals of interpersonal reasoning and sense-making.
European Chaos/Complexity in Organisations Network (ECCON), 2005).