Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
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27 February 2009 | Draft

Global Governance via a Double-breasted Strange Attractor

Cognitive implication in a dynamic sexual metaphor

-- / --

Annex B of Engaging with Globality through Knowing Thyself (2008), Dimension 4 of a four-fold exploration. [Engaging with Globality -- Dimension 1: Cognitive Realignment; Dimension 2: Cognitive Circlets; Dimension 3: Cognitive Crowns; Dimension 4: Knowing Thyself]
Overview of Engaging with Globality
Strategic compass
Governor control
Global strategy and governance modelled by constraining local breast movement?
Double-breasted vs Single-breasted?
Tensional integrity of bubbles -- and their chirality?
Reconstructive "surgery": financial system vs breasts
Implications for design of a regulated financial system?
Globality, cosmology and birth
As "above", so "below"?



The following is one example of an exercise envisaged in Playfully engaging with globality through re-categorization and re-classification (in Dimension 4). The context for this exploration of a metaphor with sexual connotations is the subject of a series of comments provided separately as Annex A (Engaging with Globality through Playful Re-categorizing):

Humour | Playful examples | Logical vs Aesthetic correspondences | Meaningful connectivity
Surfaces and orifices | Consumption and consumerism | "Knowing" another | Courtship | Kama Sutra

The cognitive implications of the metaphor are further developed in Annex C (Engaging with Globality through Dynamic Complexity) and in Annex D (Intercourse with Globality through Enacting a Klein bottle).

Although a degree of speculative humour is intended, the challenge of finding new ways of framing goverance in a turbulent society is the preoccupation. That dynamic nature of that challenge was perhaps best recognized by an early policy scientist Geoffrey Vickers (Freedom in a Rocking Boat: changing values in an unstable society, 1972). Of considerable cognitive value, he noted that: "a trap is a function of the nature of the trapped".

As noted in Annex A, this exploration is premised on the assumption that sustainable governance is necessarily sexy -- and if it is not then it is unlikely to be sustainable. By designing sex out of governance, sex has become identified with the problematic shadow of humanity.

Exploring the breast metaphor here in relation to governance is notably justified by the frequent French usage of "sein", in the singular, with respect to governance, for example: Donner une voix à l'Afrique au sein de la gouvernance globale (Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Forum for a New World Governance, March 2007). Given the focus on "designing" the future through governance (cf Peter Ellyard. Designing 2050: pathways to sustainable prosperity on spaceship Earth, 2007), it is also intriguing that "design" in French is "dessein", implying the undertaking of a project (including that of the Creator, as in intelligent design). Such usage might also be understood as "from the breast".

Rather than this static, "single-breasted" approach, the focus here is on the cognitive implications of "seins" in the plural (and their dynamics) with respect to the dynamics of governance. Curiously those in governance, caricatured as "suits", typically wear "double-breasted" suits in contrast with the "single-breasted" form.

Symbolic uniform of 21st century
global governance?
Double-breasted jacket as symbol -- and of the cover-up regarding the financial bubble of 2008
with its economic consequences for all

Exploring the metaphor in the light of the current financial crisis for governance is justified by the extent to which "playing" is a notion common to the market and to courtship behaviour, as is speculation and risk taking. The argument here is that breasts constitute a dynamic attractor of sufficient complexity to reflect the comprehension challenges within governance in dealing with options and alternatives. They might be seen as the most developed of various attractors capable of refocusing attention, starting with the movements of a child's rattle and in contrast with more mechanical systems such as the centrifugal governor or with the cynical distractants of the Roman Empire "bread and circuses" (panem et circenses).

The implication of dynamic symbols, in contrast with their common static form has been explored elsewhere (Moving Symbols: radical change in religious psycho-social energy policy?, 2008).

Put most simply, however, it could be argued that breasts offer the most familiar, concrete and accessible understanding of "globality" in its geometric sense -- in contrast with the abstract geometric representations or manufactured artefacts. Whether, male or female, this understanding dates from earliest infancy. It is therefore understandable that for human groups, and humanity as a whole, globality is recognized as a source of sustenance. How such globality functions in its virtual form is yet to be fully understood.

Strategic compass

Re-framing the strategic compass: Given the fundamental significance variously attributed to globality, it is appropriate to explore how these understandings might be interwoven as an imaginative exercise embodied in the process of intercourse. Given the strategic concern, there is therefore a case for employing the configuration of elements vital to navigation of the globe, namely the compass by which any course is pltotted and guided. The magnetic needle is clearly a focal element indicative of directionality and intentionality -- echoed in the masculine engagement in the process and its navigation. However the vessel as a whole, typically denoted as feminine, is navigating through a global magnetic field with respect to which the needle is oriented. Curiously most countries requiring governance are also considered feminine, and by implication any "Spaceship Earth" as a vessel -- namely the global system symbolized by the primal goddess Gaia.

Navigational bias: To the extent that iron and steel are the preferred metaphors for conventional cognitive processes ("iron willed"), strategic initiatives ("iron-fisted", "steeling oneself"), and associated institutions of governance ("rule of iron"), the possible necessity for compensating, complementary metaphoric elements might be usefully explored. The rigidity and inflexibility of male-domnated, contemporary, strategic thinking is indeed indicated by use of such metaphors, especially by the military (Enhancing Sustainable Development Strategies through Avoidance of Military Metaphors, 1998) and notably in trading on the financial markets that have so recently crashed (Gendered financial trading).

Vital compensation for deviations: For the compass to operate appropriately, the spurious quadrantal deviations resulting from the iron in the vessel are compensated by two quadrantal spheres -- appropriately adjusted and mounted athwartships on the binnacle on each side of the compass. They are also known as "navigator's balls" -- although, given that vessels are understood to be feminine, an alternative interpretation would be more appropriate.

A further requirement for the needle correctly to indicate the course on a turbulent sea (rocking the vessel in an unpredictable combination of pitching, rolling and yawing motions) is that it be mounted within a system of double rings on bearings, known as gimbals, permitting the needle to ride flat and steady no matter the movement. This raises the question of how Geoffrey Vickers (Freedom in a Rocking Boat: changing values in an unstable society, 1972) would have understood the relevance of this metaphor to policy issues. These rings might be understood in terms of the of the cognitive circlets of Dimension 2.

Quadrantal spheres on each side of a compass Gimbal stabilization of compass
Quadrantal spheres on each side of a compass Gyroscope stabilization

Gimbal dynamics of a cognitive crown: Of particular relevance to the dynamics of the cognitive operation of any crown (as explored in Dimension 3) are the dynamics of the gimbal ensuring a stable platform for the needle. The animation above (from the relevant entry in Wikipedia) is especially suggestive of the possible relationship of the cognitive circlets (of Dimension 2) when configured dynamically in a crown -- to provide a stable platform for appropriate decision-making. This animation is of further significance in that it recalls the imaginatively powerful dynamics, and special effects, of the spacetime "Machine" central to the cult movie Contact (based on a book by Carl Sagan) -- and to the transportation of the pod therein to a distant time and place in the universe (paradoxically echoing the childhood experience of the transportee).

Navigating globality for governance: Two contrasting cognitive skills are important to navigating globality. Of interest is the implication of the significance to be associated with determining where one "is" (statically) in contrast with understanding the directionality of the process in which one is engaged (dynamically). This challenge is reminiscent of the Heiisenberg uncertainty principle, especially in terms of any analogue in psychosocial relations (Garrison Sposito, Does a generalized Heisenberg Principle operate in the social sciences? Inquiry, 12, 1969, 3, pp. 356-361; C. A. Hooker. The impact of quantum theory on the conceptual basis for the classification of knowledge in: J. A. Wojciechowksi (Ed), Conceptual Basis for the Classification of Knowledge (K G Saur Verlag, 1974, pp. 284-318).

Complementary cognitive skills in navigating globality
Currents and Winds
Potential Misuse of the Conveyor Metaphor
Recognition of the circular dynamic
essential to its appropriate operation

Latitude and Longitude
Conveyor metaphor Latitude and Longitude

To the extent that the navigation of globality is to be understood in terms of "truth" -- as to where one is (statically or dynamically) -- the arguments from a theological perspective are also of interest (John A T Robinson, Truth is Two-Eyed, 1979). Given that democratic governance (acknowledging the importance of an "opposition") also implies that truth is "two-eyed" and -- in the light of the arguments to follow -- does this confirm that governance (as a source of a form of truth) is necessarily "double-breasted"?

Governor control

Governors: A centrifugal governor is a device that controls the speed of an engine -- notably on any vessel -- by regulating the fuel intake in order to maintain speed whatever the conditions. It uses the principle of proportional control. As the speed of the prime mover increases, the central spindle of the governor rotates at a faster rate and the kinetic energy of the balls increases. This allows the two masses on lever arms to move outwards and upwards against gravity. If the motion goes far enough, this motion causes the lever arms to pull down on a thrust bearing, which moves a beam linkage. This then reduces the aperture of a throttle valve. The rate of working-fluid entering the cylinder is thus reduced and the speed of the prime mover is controlled, preventing over-speeding.

Schematic of a centrifugal governor
(shown in 3 positions of rotation; see explanatory YouTube animation)
Centrifugal governor A Centrifugal governor C Centrifugal governor D

Dynamic systems and (knowledge) cybernetics: The centrifugal governor is used by the cognitive sciences as a readily comprehensible illustration of a dynamic system in which the representation of information cannot be clearly separated from the operations being applied to the representation. Such systems are a preoccupation of cybernetics and the complexity sciences.

As both cybernetician and anthropologist, Gregory Bateson (Mind and Nature: a necessary unity, 1970) attached the greatest importance to the recognition that evolution in nature was effectively regulated by a principle illustrated by the centrifugal governor -- as articulated by Alfred Wallace (The Tendency of Varieties to Depart Indefinitely from the Original Type, 1858):

The action of this principle is exactly like that of the centrifugal governor of the steam engine, which checks and corrects any irregularities almost before they become evident; and in like manner no unbalanced deficiency in the animal kingdom can ever reach any conspicuous magnitude, because it would make itself felt at the very first step, by rendering existence difficult and extinction almost sure soon to follow.

As metaphors, the various elements above combine to offer a relatively simplistic way of understanding the complex dynamics of "generic" intercourse (even in the form of the exchanges of financial trading). The metaphors may be seen "objectively" in terms of visible movement as with the centrifugal governor, or "subjectively" in terms of responses by needle and sphere to the complexities of the local and global magnetic fields. There the spheres serve as a form of attractor through which the effects of local and global fields are balanced.

Curiously, in the case of the centrifugal governor, a static image bears a strong resmblance to the masonic compass as a symbol. Given the strong association of freemasonry with governance, notably with those claiming to govern, the elements missing (other than by implication) from that static symbol are worthy of consideration. These include its rotation, an implicit central shaft enabling such rotation, and the weighted spheres on the arms responsive to centrifugal force. Whilst the compass, as an instrument of geometry, establishes relationships between points (Dimension 1), and possibly outlines a circle (Dimension 2), it is ill-equipped to design a centrifugal governor (in Dimension 3), or to ensure the dynamics of its operation (Dimension 4). Has global strategy of recent decades effectively been designed without the adequate governorship implied by the dynamic system of a centrifugal governor?

Beyond rhe sporting of neuticles (noted in Dimension 1), this raises the interesting question as to the whether a "governor needs balls" -- of one kind or another -- for sustainable governance.

Global strategy and governance modelled by constraining local breast movement?

In addition to the arguments above with regard to sexualmetaphoprs, consideration of this seemingly irrelevant topic is justified by the readily accessible cognitive learnings -- with a learning curve to match -- with regard to:

Breast dynamics: Just as the centrifugal governor may offer an interesting model of evolution, the movement of breasts may offer a useful model of the cognitive correctives vital to the compensation of navigational bias, and be potentially indicative of the complex operation of a magnetic field on a compass needle on a rocking vessel, This well-recognized sexual dynamic would then merit further exploration -- given its focal importance for (male) attention, notably as instigator of change, especially in financial trading, as discussed in Dimension 1 (Gendered financial trading). The argument is that it is central to male imagination, whether consciously or unconsciously, and to the articulation of a worldview through sexual metaphors in strategic decision-making environments.

However it is from women that insights are to be derived as to how a male-dominated dynamic can be controlled -- as exemplified by the "enthralling" extremes of strip dancing and belly dancing -- and to infer the implications for global governance in general.

A single breast may be described as an anisotropic, non-homogeneous, semi-fluid mass with a non-rigid attachment to the rib cage. It is however typical of the level of denial that the literature seems to have little to offer on "breast dynamics" except in relation to the pathology of mammary cancer -- even though breast size and movement together constitute a primary attractor, at least for the most powerful global culture (Carolyn Latteier, Breasts: the women's perspective on an American obsession, 1998).

Presumably even use of the phrase in any study of breasts as attractors is problematic to funders, sponsors and nanny programmes -- "too hot", ironically, or maybe to difficult to distinguish from "soft porn". This would be even more true with respect to the global dynamics, of which they are part, implied by the set of static positions of the Kama Sutra (as discussed in Dimension 4).

Breast issues and governance : The question of the control of breast movement is only one of a number of concerns relating to breasts with suggestive implications for governance. More systematically these include:

Given the problematics of "development" and "envelopment", and the advocacy of a "no-growth" approach to governance, there is some merit in considering what "velopment" might constitute (Veloping: the art of sustaining significance, 1997).

Breast simulation and control: As previously noted, considerable effort is now applied to simulating breast movement in virtual worlds, as this potentially relates to the future of virtual intercourse there, and as anticipated in the future (enhanced by haptic technology). It is widely recognized that it is sexually-related communication that has been of major significance in ensuring the uptake and viability of new internet technologies (Minitel, porn-sites, etc). Independently, given the considerable importance associated with both enhancement of breasts and restraining their movement, large investments are made in the complex challenges of brassiere design, as noted in an early study which anticipated subsequent innovation (Edward Nanas, Brassieres: an engineering miracle, Science and Mechanics, February 1964).

On the basis of a biomechanics study by Joanna Scurr, Shock Absorber, a UK line of sports-bras, has developed a Bounce-Ometer -- a Flash-based 3D simulator of such dynamics, with and without various types of bra, and according to a user-specified cup size and level of activity. This includes a wire frame view indicative of the relevant algorithm (see screen-shots below). It enables comparison of normal bras with those developed by the Shock Absorber Sports Institute (SASI). Needless to say, the simulation provides no suggestion of the cognitive basis of the attraction of such movement for males.

Implication of Range of Options of Shock-Absorber Bra-usage Animation
for regulation of financial market under different conditions
Financial market
("No-bra laisser-faire")
Inadequately regulated
("Bretton Woods bra")
Appropriately regulated
("Shock Absorber bra")
Wire frame screen-shots
of animation
Shock-Absorber Bra-usage Animation (Self-regulated) Shock-Absorber Bra-usage Animation (Inadequately regulated) Shock-Absorber Bra-usage Animation (Appropriately regulated)
Market >>>
activity level
Low Med. High Xtre. Low Med. High Xtre. Low Med. High Xtre.
Market volume
("cup size")
. . . . . . . . . . . .

Double-breasted vs Single-breasted?

As noted above, the formal male fashion in governance is the wearing of doubtle-breasted suits -- with a gesture to ensure that they are appropriately buttoned up prior to meeting intercourse. This might be understood as reflecting an especially attentive form of cover-up in relation to the symbolism of breasts. In the light of the reference by Keynes of "animal spirits" (discussed in Dimension 4), more might be made of the need of governors to wear double-breasted suits with a number of "vestgial nipples" -- buttons reminiscent of the nipples on non-human species.

Although recognizing the existence of two breasts, in contrast with the single-breasted variety, in question is the degree to which their covering inhibits whatever symbolism is associated with their mirroring in those of the opposte sex -- and especially the associated movement.

To the extent that the "uncoordinated" movement of two breasts symbolizes the governance challenges of both such dynamics and the presence of an active "alternative", the use of a double-breasted suit is clearly indicative of constraint on any such dynamic and the neglect of any alternative.

Why two? Curiously there is a degree of uncertainty as to why two breasts are appropriate on the human body. This uncertainty might be compared with that regarding the -- often contested -- need for an "opposition" in democratic governance. In both cases, however, there is a sense that the "other" offers an alternative in the event of failure of that currently preferred -- a vital fail-safe system In its role of providing sustenance to an infant, one breast can become exhausted and needs time to recharge itself. The same might be said with regard to the policies of a governing party when there is a sense that "it is time for a change".

Modelling duality and polarity: The simplest argument for double-breastedness is the bilateral symmetry of the human body. This is reflected in the binary logic associated with polarization -- with considerable implications in the appreciation of:

Comparative evaluation of two breasts, if only by an infant dependent on the sustenance they provide, might recognize that they embodied each of these extremes at their most instinctual level.

For an adult, however, in each case the poles are readily conflated with values, leading to good vs evil -- "with us or against us". There is in effect a widespread fundamental preference for a "monopolar" understanding of global -- presumably dating back to the Garden of Eden. Articulation of the "other" pole is then readily demonized as the attractors for unbelievers and "cognitive kafirs". The vital cybernetic need for the stereoscopic (depth) perspective of two poles -- positive and negative feedback -- is argued elsewhere (Being Positive Avoiding Negativity: management challenge of positive vs negative, 2005; "Positive" vs "Negative" Strategies, 1995; Cyclopean Vision vs Poly-sensual Engagement, 2006).

"Inflated hope" vs "Deflated despair": Such a relationship is of further interest in connection with any "bubble" -- whether inflated by hope and hope-mongering or deflated by doom-mongering (Credibility Crunch engendered by Hope-mongering: "credit crunch" focus as symptom of a dangerous mindset, 2008). Of interest with respect to the intangibility of "hope", on which so much is currently based, is the legal concept of "puffery". The latter is a legal term referring to promotional statements and claims that express subjective rather than objective views, supposedly such that no reasonable person would take literally. Presumably it would be argued that the subprime mortgages at the origin of the financial crisis had been sold with the aid of a legally acceptable degree of puffery. Ironically, somewhat similar acceptability is associated with the assisted presentation of breasts -- disguising their assumed inadequacies.

The strategic problem would appear to lie in the effort to design a "negative-free" future built only on positive, optimistic belief and hope -- excluding problematic implications as being the essence of defeatism. Hence the focus on eliciting consensus and condemning disagreement (possibly even as "extremism"). This approach might be caricatured as a single-breasted vision of the future and of the governance required to realize it -- focusing on the "one true breast" as the "one true future". This might even be understood in terms of current framing of an "integral future" -- avoiding the more complex challenge of "integrative futures" (Self-reflexive Challenges of Integrative Futures, 2008).

That this is factually problematic is only two evident in the case of national budgets committed optimistically to hopes of eternal "growth" -- on which statistics narrowly focus -- when such growth has typically been accompanied by ever increasing (even historically unprecedented) budgetary deficits. The level of such national debt is typically not a focus of public attention -- and is necessarily an embarrassment to governance. Cynical decision-making simply injects more money -- by printing it and ignoring the future implications for the tax payer.

Investment in "hope" is then framed as "real", whereas any need to take care of "despair", notably in the form of neglected problems, is framed as "imaginary" -- a bad dream. A major difficulty with this is evident in the "reality" held to have characterized the financial system prior to its collapse in 2008 -- followed by recognition that that "reality" had (in fact) been "illusory". The new "reality" is now held to be that which had previously been considered "fanciful" or "imaginary" -- especially given the need, now, for governance to come to terms with it.

A double-breasted system therefore holds the psychological response to the present -- in relation to a potential, imagined or virtual future. Specifically it embodies the speculative opportunity represented by an alternative to which focus may be advantageously transferred.

Modelling decision-making: Also of interest is the role of choice between two breasts as a model of decision-making. Clearly only one may be realistically used for sustenance at a time. The possibility of the other then has the sense of an imagined opportunity -- with a degree of risk. In this way the two breasts together offer a model of the relationship between "real" and "imaginary" (as further discussed in Annex C) and the manner in which any "realization" of one renders the other "imaginary". The radical difference between the two is usefully indicated by the chirality of the tensegrity structures (below). One is the mirror "image" of the other and in many respects is related to it like matter to anti-matter. This mirroring is also evident to a degree in the polyhedral duals (below).

Shadow-like alternatives: Clearly, whilst either -- whether "real" or "imaginary" -- has its own independent complex dynamic, each is constrained to a degree by the dynamics of the other, as with breasts. To the extent that, as in government, the imagined capacities and perspectives of the "opposition" are labelled with the term "shadow" (even to the point of demonizing "alternatives"), interrelating the two appropriately is the classical challenge of psychotherapeutic "integration of the shadow" in an individuation process. Hence the case for a "double-breasted" approach to governance.

Tensional integrity of bubbles and their chirality?

Financial bubbles: Although a financial bubble is framed after the fact as inherently problematic, it nevertheless embodies an articulated understanding of global and globality.

Of great interest at the time of history's greatest financial bubble -- and its collapse in 2008 -- is the seeming lack of insight into the structure of such bubbles and how they are inflated and sustained, especially when based on hope and a degree of mutual confidence and trust. However a great deal is otherwise known about the structure of bubbles, notably in their relation to one another in terms of polyhedral packing (as discussed in Annex C).

In a sense a bubble of hope or belief is sustained as a structure by "real" exchange operations dependent on both a degree of mutual confidence and active competition -- as the dynamic between tension and compression elements in its "architecture". However, complementing that is the "imaginary" structure based on the projections and fantasies of traders on the market, speculating on future opportunity.

Tensegrity: One approach to bubble structure is through insights from "tensional integrity", as tensegrity structures, notably those approximating a sphere -- as articulated by R. Buckminster Fuller (Synergetics: explorations in the geometry of thinking, 1975/1979). A valuable review of relevance to the following discussion is provided by Chris Lucas (Complex Living Tensegrities, 2007) who indicates that tensegrity is just another term for "attractor balance". Spherical tensegrities might be undertstood, through the structure and dynamics of their architecture, as the most realistic representation of globality and of the capacity better to approximate it through ever more complex tensegrities.

Tensegrities are usefully recognized as possibly of distinct chirality or handedness, as shown below. Spherical tensegrities are very similar to bubbles, to air-supported structures and to balloons. The structures are very sensitive to vibrations although this can be reduced by the addition of extra tensile elements. Like breasts, they can be readily deformed but return to the original shape when the load is removed. Being free-standing, they do not require external support.

It is relevant to note how the "dimensions" of this set of documents are integrated into any such spherical integrity and the cognitive challenge of giving form to it in practice:

However, any owner of a spherical tensegrity will notice how it sags, breast-like, over the years (depending on the method of construction)

Mapping bubble-sustaining-elements onto tensegrities: The question is how to map the elements of any hope-inflated bubble onto such a structure and its dynamics -- or preferably onto a pair of them, to the extent that their complementarity is vital to their systemic function. What might be the mapping of the trading dynamics and regulatory constraints in the case of a financial system thereby sustained? It is especially interesting that spherical tensegrities are self-regulating in that they seek a dynamic equilibirum -- independent of the role of gravity vital to the stability and structural integrity of more conventional structures.

But of particular significance are the alternative chiralities of the two structures -- offering a means of holding both the hope and belief in a potential future by which it inflated and the systemic neglect potentially associated with this investment (and the future despair it may therefore engender). The mirrored structures stand in relation to each other as matter and anti-matter. In financial terms, they constitute the two sides of any balance sheet between which governance has to navigate -- or, more problematically, the "formal" accounts, and those that are "hidden", "under the table" (the financial "black hole").

Tensegrity (tensional integrity) structure of (financial) bubbles
(NB double chirality held by Klein bottle, Annex D)
Left-handed mirror-image Right-handed mirror-image
Tensegrity (tensional integrity) structure of (financial) bubbles Tensegrity (tensional integrity) structure of (financial) bubbles

Reconstructive "surgery": financial system vs breast system

Breast support: Of relevance to the insights to be obtained from breasts is the use of tensegrity in the design of undergarments (Kazuya G. Kobayashi 1, Taro Ichizawa 2 and Katsutoshi Ootsubo, Tensegric-Modeling-Based Soft Tissue Deformation for Shaping-Undergarments, Computer-Aided Design and Applications, 3, 1-4, 2006, pp. 359-366). Given the wire-frame animation of breast dynamics (illustrated above) -- as they relate to bra design, there would seem to be a case for exploring breast dynamics and its "regulation" in terms of tensegrity.

Mammary cancer: It is of great potential interest the extent to which tensegrity is now considered fundamental to the structure of biological cells (Donald E. Ingber, The Architecture of Life. Scientific American, Jan 1998; 278:48-57; Tensegrity: the architectural basis of cellular mechanotransduction. Annu. Rev. Physiol. 1997; Cellular tensegrity: defining new rules of biological design that govern the cytoskeleton. J Cell Sci. 1993). It is for this reason that it has been explored in relation to the cellular challenges of mammary cancer (Donald E. Ingber and James D. Jamieson, Cells as Tensegrity Structures: archetectural regulation of histodifferentiation by physical forces transduced over basement membrane. In: Gene Expression during Normal and Malignant Differentiation, 1985; D. E. Ingber, Control of Capillary Growth and Differentiation by Extracellular Matrix, Chest, 1991).

More recently Ingber has shown (Tensegrity II. How structural networks influence cellular information processing networks. J Cell Sci. 2003) :

... how combined use of tensegrity and solid-state mechanochemistry by cells may mediate mechanotransduction and facilitate integration of chemical and physical signals that are responsible for control of cell behavior. In addition, it examines how cell structural networks affect gene and protein signaling networks to produce characteristic phenotypes and cell fate transitions during tissue development.

Such work has been cited in relation to epigenetic reversion of breast carcinoma. In relation to cancer, work has focused on Pre-stressed Tensegrity Structures built from DNA (2009).

Given the level of ignorance regarding financial bubbles and their associated "pathologies", there is a case for observing the current condition of the financial system at the most detailed level of trading networks, notably as their dysfunctionality may be modelled by mammary pathology (cf Networking Diseases: speculations towards the development of cures and preventive measures, 1978; Memetic and Information Diseases in a Knowledge Society: sSpeculations towards the development of cures and preventive measures, 2008; Polyhedral Empowerment of Networks through Symmetry: psycho-social implications for organization and global governance, 2008) .

For example, in its collapsing state, the financial system might be understood to be suffering from a process analogous to cance. Efforts to remedy the condition -- through periodic and targeted stimuli -- might then be compared to chemotheraphy.

Within this framework of course, there is also the possibility that the "cancer" will metastatize and seriously undermine the viability of other systems -- as is already the case with the consequences for the economic system. For some the current financial system should simply be replaced -- a form of "amputation".

Reconstructive surgery: In parallel, possibilities of reconstruction of the financial system are being considered -- for the optimists, even to recover its pristine Bretton Woods condition, or some semblance thereof.

The implication of tensegrity in both biological cell structure and breast support devices suggest that the issues and principles that arise in both cases merit some attention.

There is a potentially more intriguing issue in the light of the argument that systemically there are effectively two financial systems -- the "real" and the "imaginary". Considered as mirror tensegrities -- a double-breasted system -- the question is the extent to which both suffer from a "cancerous" condition, namely whether both call for a degree of reconstruction if the "chemotherapy" does not work. Might both require "amputation"?

Mammary cancer and breast support: Reflection within this metaphor could also usefully take account of challenges articulated regarding the danger of breast support devices. Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer (Bras still cause breast cancer: are your patients dressed to kill?, 2007) report on their earlier study (Dressed To Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras, 1995). This had examined the bra wearing habits and attitudes of about 4,700 American women, nearly half of whom had had breast cancer.   Results showed that wearing a bra over 12 hours daily dramatically increases breast cancer incidence.   Bra-free women were shown to have about the same incidence of breast cancer as men, while those who wear a bra 18-24 hours daily had over 100 times greater incidence of breast cancer than do bra-free women.

Is it possible that there are assumptions built into the approach to constructing or reconstrucing financial systems which are inherently problematic -- as some theoreticians and practitioners have argued?

Design of social organization: The relevance of tensegrity to the design of social organization has been considered previously (From Networking to Tensegrity Oranization, 1984; Transcending Duality through Tensional Integrity: from systems-versus-networks to tensegrity organization, 1978). In one paper (Implementing Principles by Balancing Configurations of Functions: a tensegrity organization approach, 1979), it was argued:

In seeking to use tensegrities, it may prove that it is more appropriate to treat them as extremely powerful conceptual "interrelators"for whatever projection onto them can be adequately sustained and comprehended within the collectivity concerned. This may be incomprehensible to "outsiders If, thus unable to work within that pattern. It is useful, for example, to reflect on the elegance with which tensegrities can interrelate complex patterns of differences (separators) and similarities (connectors) at a time when society is torn between the simplistic extremes of personal or collective violence on the one hand, and sexual/ecstatic merger or planetary integration/union on the other. Could it be that tensegrities indicate a way of articulating and interrelating differences such that the latters' separative properties (normally destructive) provide the necessary basis for the construction of a new collective space ? (Is any attempt to base new structures solely on similarities doomed to failure as a contradiction in terms ?)

The tensegrity, as a configuration of differences, then provides a way of releasing and channelling energy from differences (in orientation, including opposition, for example). What then are the energy containing patterns of differences and similarity (cf. social differences and the similarities of "equality" paradigmatic and ideological differences, etc), and how can they evolve ? Is the energy derived through "oscillation" in relation to a more fundamental field than that embodied in the tensegrity as collectively comprehended ?

A tensegrity achieves stability as patterns of oscillation around a dynamic equilibrium condition (Liberation of Integration, Universality and Concord -- through pattern, oscillation, harmony and embodimen, 1980; Groupware Configurations of Challenge and Harmony - an alternative approach to "alternative organization'', 1979)

Implications for design of a regulated financial system?

This exploration is based on the assumption that the financial system is not adequately explained as a rational, mechanistic pattern of trades but involves, to a high degree, a poorly understood level of pschological engagement, speculation and fantasy influenced by emotions such as greed and willingness to risk. Efforts to redesign it which neglect, deny, or minimize these factors are missing dimensions that sustained the hope which ensured the inflation of the financial bubble.

Insights from brassiere design: The engagement of (male) traders with the financial markets, and the excitement with which they pursue and conclude deals, could readily be compared -- with little disagreement -- to the excitement of the "foreplay", "intercourse" and "orgasm" associated with successful deal-making and its timing. This is discussed from a psychoanalytical perspective in Dimension 1 (Gendered financial trading).

A recent study has found that a financial trader's morning testosterone level predicts his day's profitability; higher testosterone may contribute to economic return, whereas cortisol is increased by risk. Risk preferences may thereby be shifted and even affect a trader's ability to engage in rational choice. (J. M. Coates and J. Herbert, Endogenous steroids and financial risk taking on a London trading floor, PNAS, April 2008). The payoff of the process would easily be qualified as "better than sex" -- especially given the amounts transacted, the risks involved and the potential payoff..

The financial crisis has highlighted questions about the nature of the attraction of the process and the manner in which it should be appropriately regulated in a redesigned financial system. To the widely acknowledged attractor of "greed is good" (notably also a factor with infant use of breasts) may be added one subtle attractors, as previously argued from a psychoanalytical perspective (Gendered financial trading). Issues cited with respect to male ego fulfillment are potentially very significant.

Is the exploratory process of finding a way to make a deal to be compared in some way with the tracking capacity of the compass needle, and even with that of the sperm competing with other sperm -- with the fruitful opportunity echoing primitive intuitions of the egg (and its globality)? Presumably extreme risk-taking and any extraordinary bonus only enhance such symbolic echoes.

Arguably the design of any regulatory system bears a degree of relationship to the complex challenge of bra design and its purpose in controlling (whether enhancing or dampening) both attractiveness and movement through an appropriate compromise. Curiously the "compensation" for the strategic deviation to which traders are vulnerable in navigating the opportunities of the financial markets, is echoed in the French term for a financial clearing house (chambre de compensation) -- echoing the compensatory role of quadrantal spheres (above) with respect to the compass needle.

Economists have long promoted the rationality of decision-making in an ideal market. Arguably, as with the male response to breast dynamics, there is a form of cognitive disruption of evolutionary significance -- if only as a trigger for engendering processes of change outside conventional patterns. It is therefore interesting to note the study by Camelia Kuhnen and Brian Knutson (The Neural Basis of Financial Risk Taking, 2005). Clearly there is the possibility that the financial risk-taking, associated with the financial bubble and its collapse in 2008, takes place in some way "under the rational radar".

Insights from tensegrity system design: Given the challenge of understanding the nature of a financial bubble, and how it relates to stock market trading, there may well be a possibilitiy of gaining insight from tensegrity. One indication in this direction is the comment of a blogger (Tensegrity in the structure of the United States, Culture, 14 Novelmber 2004). The implications of a tensegrity approach were explored in relation to a previous financial crash (Global Self-Organization: the systemic structural challenge of the exchange of meaning, dramatized by the Asian financial crash, 1998).

Intriguing, for example, would be the significance that could be attached to chirality:

How might such considerations be used to indicate enhancement of the bubble, "building confidence" and "engendering hope" (by "talking up" opportunities), and how is the consensual reality to be understood in terms of projections and fantasies.

One example is the work of Robert E. Skelton and Mauricio C. de Oliveira (Tensegrity Systems, 2009). This discusses analytical tools to design energy efficient and lightweight structures employing the concept of tensegrity. It is the first effort to integrate structure and control design in contrast to other approaches that assume them to be independent issues. However performance can be greatly improved if the dynamics of the structure and the dynamics of the controls are coordinated to reduce the control efforts required to accomplish the system performance requirements. Also of interest is Timothy Wilken (Ortegrity: synergic science. 2002) with respect to decision-action tensegrities.

The properties of spherical tensegrities make it very clear how a bubble is sustained and how much damage to its integrity is required to cause it to collapse. Whilst this is relevant to sustainability of a financial system, it is also of great interest to the viability of an ecosystem.

A related line of possible investigation emerges from recognition of the correspondences of the internet-enabled financial system, as a form of global brain, to the structure and operation of the human brain. As noted by György Buzsáki (Rhythms of the Brain, 2006):

The combination of the robust local tensegrity design and functionally relevant long-range corticocortical pathways provides an economic solution for establishing functionally effective paths across the vast domain of the neocortex. The small-world-like organization of the neocortex, as opposed to the strictly local, random, or all-to-all connectivity, provides a higher order of wiring complexity. (p. 53)

In order to generate the harmony of tensegirty in cortical circuits, excitation must be balanced with an equally effective inhibition. In the cortex, the solution is a stabilizing negative feedback control, provided by the inhibory interneuron system... (p. 59)

... the excitatory networks of the cerebral cortex are inherently unstable. Tensegrity dynamics can be maintained only if the excitatory effectds are balanced by equally effective inhbitory forces, provided by special inhibitory neurons. If only excitatory cells were present in the brain, neurons could not create form or order or secure some autonomy for themselves. (p. 61)

It is through the opposing forces of excitation by principal cells and inhbition by interneuons that the tensegrity harmony of cortical activity is established. This balanced partnership ensures an overall homeostatic regulation of global firing rates of neurons over extended territories of the cortex and at the same time allows for dramatic increases of local excitability in short time windows, necessary for sending messages and modifying networ connections. (p. 66)


Polyhedral duality: The discussion of tensegity above was based on the pioneering work of R. Buckminster Fuller (Synergetics: explorations in the geometry of thinking, 1975/1979). Fuller offers extensive reflection on polyhedra as systems, and notably on spherically symmetrical polyhedra. In the above context those distinguished as "duals" are especially significant. These offer a complementary approach to tensegrity for holding the relationshop between alternatives that are seemingly radically different although fundamentally related (through a continuous transformation susceptible to animation).

Spherically symmetrical polyhedra related through duality
(generated with Stella4D)
Truncated icosahedron Pentakis dodecahedron
Spherically symmetrical polyhedra related through duality

Dual geodesic polyhedra
(from Wikipedia)
Geodesic sphere Geodesic sphere dual

Cognitive metastability in dynamic systems: The argument above has stressed the manner in which alternatives are apprehended -- as with breasts. With respect to the financial system, it is the cognitive alternation between what is held to be "real" (at any one moment) in relation to that which is only "imaginary" (of potential future significance). The challenge in this dynamic -- as evident in he specualtion of financial traders -- is thre appreciation of rik now with respect to possible future benefit. This cognitive transition between the rationale of present and future is differently suggested by both images below. Both might be understood as holding -- in each case a single image -- the paradox of the dynamic relationship between the two.

Metastability indicated by eye-movement in relation to breasts?
indicative of how cognitive fixity is continuously brought into question
Möbius strip
illustrating the paradoxical
cognitive "twist" of enantiodromia
(cf Cyclic Pattern of Enantiodromia)
Lorenz Attractor
an example of a
non-linear dynamical system
fundamental to the study of chaos theory
Mobius strip Lorenz Attractor

Simplistically expressed, is it a case with respect to globality that:

Holomovement -- alternation between explicate and implicate: Alternation, if only as a possibility, is of course supposedly a prime feature of democracy. Arguably it is pf course vital to sustainable development (Development through Alternation, 1983) as exemplified by crop rotation (Sustainable Cycles of Policies: crop rotation as a metaphor, 1988). A more fundamental example of alternation is the holomovement explored by physicist David Bohm (Wholeness and the Implicate Order, 1980). He had expressed this in terms of reality and knowledge considered as process: 'Not only is everything changing, but all is flux. That is to say, what is the process of becoming itself, while all objects, events, entities, conditions, structures, etc., are forms that can be abstracted from this process'. He distinguishes the relationship between implicate and explicate order there:

In the enfolded [or implicate] order, space and time are no longer the dominant factors determining the relationships of dependence or independence of different elements. Rather, an entirely different sort of basic connection of elements is possible, from which our ordinary notions of space and time, along with those of separately existent material particles, are abstracted as forms derived from the deeper order. These ordinary notions in fact appear in what is called the "explicate" or "unfolded" order, which is a special and distinguished form contained within the general totality of all the implicate orders (Bohm, 1980, p. xv).

The two orders may be understood as analogous to "imaginary" (implicate) and "real" (explicate).

(interrelating Implicate and Explicate Order according to David Bohm)
Implicate order Explicate order

Alternation represented by the I Ching: A quite distinct representation, consistent with Bohm's insight, may be obtained from a circular ordering of the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching as an encoding of the patterns of change as understood within traditional Chinese culture. For the purpose of the argument here, two of these are reproduced below, embedded within a Möbius strip.

An extended discussion of the circular representation is available -- referring notably to a document that highlights the fact that the hexagrams presented in this way can be read with the top outwards or with the top inwards (Interrelationships between 64 Complementary Approaches to Sustainable Development, 2002; Alternating between Complementary Conditions for sustainable dialogue, vision, conference, policy, network, community and lifestyle, 1993). This would be the justification for the two seemingly similar presentations below. The distinct readings, as with chirality, result in quite distinct interpretations.

Embedding the two representations within the Möbius strip highlights the paradoxical cognitive inversion between the two interpretations. In the spirit of the I Ching, and of the Taoist culture from which it emerges, as well as with the classical Sanskrit adage Neti Neti (Not this, Not that), it is not inappropriate to interpret the "Not" as "Knot" -- indicative of a "topological" implication of the "logical" cognitive challenge.

Alternative I Ching configurations embedded in Möbius strip
"Knot-this" "Knot-that"
Alternative I Ching configurations embedded in Mobius strip

The Möbius strip also highlights the cognitive challenge of enantiodromia in relating conventionally polarized domains that engender stratregic dilemmas (Psychosocial Energy from Polarization within a Cyclic Pattern of Enantiodromia, 2007).

Selection from numerous "Möbius scarf" web images
Mobius scarf Mobius scarf ;Mobius scarf Mobius scarf

Globality, cosmology and birth

Much is made of the possibility of the "birth" of a new world -- or of a new paradigm -- to supercede the inadequacies of the current global system.

Gravity of global situation: To what extent is any sense of globality related to a sense of gravity -- as might be inferred from Isaac Newton's inspiration in using gravitas to name the latter?

A number of authors have desribed the Earth as a "spaceship" (R. Buckminster Fuller, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, 1969; Peter Ellyard. Designing 2050: pathways to sustainable prosperity on spaceship Earth, 2007). As suggested above, this frames the challenge of how it is to be navigated through larger realms of spacetime, possibly by "cosmonauts". It is less clear whether this "spaceship" is to be understood as material in every respect or whether it has other forms of "mass" associated with the collective body of knowledge and especially with the problematique defining the gravity of the global situation. The concern here is with its navigation by "noonauts" (Entering Alternative Realities -- Astronautics vs Noonautics: isomorphism between launching aerospace vehicles and launching vehicles of awareness, 2002; Towards an Astrophysics of the Knowledge Universe: from astronautics to noonautics? 2006; Noonautics: four modes of travelling and navigating the knowledge "universe"? 2006).

Each author typically brings a design framework to bear on that challenge -- neglecting the understandings of those so designed into their system, or out of it. It might be said that the Bretton Woods system was a design by some for global financial exchange. It is now widely recognized to be demonstrably "unfit for purpose". How is any navigator's directional perspective on the governance of "Spaceship Earth" to be compensated for deviations engendered by its own mass -- however that is to be understood?

Does the gravity of the situation call for an entirely different cognitive mode -- one to which the navigator may (necessarily?) only be unconsciously sensitive and responsive -- one which is far more grounded in the reality of spacetime and its link to the generative process?

Given the focus on the apple (in the Eden of the Abrahamic religions) as the key to knowledge of globality -- associated as it is with (carnal) intercourse (and the Fall of Man) -- how curious that an insight into gravity should have been achieved by Newton through the falling of an apple from a tree. How curious that gravitas shares etymological roots both with the Sanskrit term guru (meaning weighty, grave or dignified) and with grief.

Gravitational waves: A gravitational wave is a fluctuation in the curvature of spacetime which propagates as a wave, traveling outward from a moving object or system of objects. It is generated by changes in the mass-energy distribution of the latter; gravitational radiation is the energy transported by these waves. Their direct detection is closely associated with clarification of understanding of general relativity and the origins of the universe. As the focus of Einstein Telescope Project, it is considered one of the most important and fundamental research areas of modern science with the potential to allow "listening" back to the first trillionth of a second following the Big Bang.

Curiously the detection of gravitational waves has already been enabled by the use of a pair of suitably separated solid elastic spheres (cf Eugenio Coccia, Proposed gravitational wave observatory based on solid elastic spheres, 1995; J Alberto Lobo, Hollow sphere: a flexible multimode gravitational wave antenna, 2002). This is reminiscent of the function of the quadrantal spheres in enabling the navigation of a vessel.

Origin of globality: What remains curious is how the strange attractor functions which engenders this process. What curvatures and their dynamics imply the attractiveness of globality -- through their "erotic" significance engendering an associated psychoactive engagement? What is vitally attractive about the associated cognitive catastrophes (Conformality of 7 WH-questions to 7 Elementary Catastrophes: an exploration of potential psychosocial implications, 2006)?

If astrophysicists and cosmologists can (credibly) make the seemingly preposterous claim to detect traces of the first seconds of the universe then, in the general systems spirit of systemic isomorphism, there is a case for exploring (speculatively) how such a subtle pattern of insight might be applied to the greater mystery of its possible systemic analogue -- the conception of a human being (and why the universe is so uncontrollably profligate).

Again, given the manner in which the experience of spacetime may be reframed through the experience of sexual intercourse -- with the "transportation" and epiphany of its participants -- this may be seen as offering cognitive access to origins of the universe as the particupants can comprehend its globality. It is of course at that focus of spacetime that conception takes place -- engendering a new globality.

As "above", so "below"?

Do the dynamics of the interplay of breast movement -- as attractors -- echo or recall (in ways as yet to be understood) a degree of isomorphism with part of the dynamics associated with the "conception" of the cosmos, as is presumably implied by the interaction of primary deities in many cosmologies (discussed in Annex C) ?

Given the potential role of gravitational waves in understandings of the origins of the universe -- the Big Bang -- there is clearly great irony to popular use of this term in relation to sexual intercourse. This would however appear to accord with the famed Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus: As above, so below.

This argument is developed further in Annex C (Engaging with Globality through Dynamic Complexity) and Annex D (Intercourse with Globality through Enacting a Klein bottle).

Schematic of dynamic extremes of breast movement as archetype ?
  Taijitu horizontal a  
Taijitu horizontal d I am different from ordinary people.
I drink from the Great Mother's breasts

Tao Te Ching, ch. 20
Taijitu horizontal c
  Taijitu horizontal b  

Schematic integration of the above dynamic?
The multiple symbolic mirrorings and complementarities
of the above dynamic might be represented by the following composite symbol.
Laubauru symbol (superposition of right and left facing variants)
The schematic above is based on the construction of the Lauburu symbol.
This has been used as a way of mapping the context of the
Union of Imaginable Associations

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