Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
of Laetus in Praesens
Laetus in Praesens Alternative view of segmented documents via Kairos

27 April 2020 | Draft

Alternating between Complementary Images of Coronavirus

Requisite variety to enable viable strategic engagement

-- / --

Alternative images of coronavirus / COVID-19?
Interrelating disparate frameworks fruitfully
Higher dimensionality of coherence?
Paradox of identity-confidence associated with inversion?
Requisite complementarity for innovative strategic nimbleness
Requisite strategic attitudes in anicipation of change?
Interweaving disparate voices in the moment
Indicative representation of resonance between complementary frameworks


The response to the coronavirus, COVID-19 and the pandemic is variously framed in terms of threat, fear, surprise, panic, evil, pestilence, and the like. There is a case for exploring the set of such images as a source of insight in its own right.

The inspiration for such an approach follows from the much-cited study by Gareth Morgan (Images of Organization, 1986), reviewed by Matthew J. Lambert III (A review of Images of Organization, Complicity: An International Journal of Complexity and Education, 6, 2009, 2). It has since been the focus of other works (Anders Örtenblad, et al, Exploring Morgan’s Metaphors: theory, research, and practice in organizational studies, 2016; Gareth Morgan, Reflections on Images of Organization and Its Implications for Organization and Environment. Organization and Environment, 24, 2012, 4). Morgan offers the following frameworks through which organizations can be perceived: machines, organisms, brains, cultures, political systems, psychic prisons, flux and transformation, and instruments of domination.

Presented in this way, the question is through how many distinct frameworks can the coronavirus be fruitfully perceived and what does such an exercise suggest in terms of strategic governance. What might it suggest for future pandemics -- COVID-21, COVID-22, etc -- or other crises? Although there are many "coronaviruses" (first discovered in the 1930s), it is appropriate to note that "COVID-19" does not imply that there were 18 previous variants, as has been assumed by a Minister for Health (Simon Harris sorry for ‘awful boo-boo’ about 18 viruses before Covid-19, The Irish Times, 22 April 2020). It refers to the year of its detection in 2019.

In particular are the distinctive frameworks to be understood as complementary in a manner which could recall the fundamental significance of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle as it might have been applied to the psychosocial domain (Garrison Sposito, Does a generalized Heisenberg Principle operate in the social sciences ? Inquiry, 1969). That early possibility is now all the more credible in the light of the arguments from the perspective of international relations of Alexander Wendt (Quantum Mind and Social Science: unifying physical and social ontology, 2015).

Any such reframing of uncertainty would of course be valuable, given the degree of disagreement between health experts on the appropriate strategies of lockdown and social distancing. These they have variously advised governments to adopt -- and are in process of clumsily planning to rescind. The resulting chaos of misinformation, fake news. and conspiracy theories, has itself been noted by the UN Secretary-General as highly problematic -- in the desperate quest for a unified global response (Hatred going viral in ‘dangerous epidemic of misinformation’ during COVID-19 pandemics, UN News, 14 April 2020). The latter assertion has the unfortunate implication that any criticism of UN-authorised policies is held to be problematic, thereby making questionable UN perspectives as much a part of the problem as of any solution.

Missing at this time is any sense that the distinctive "truths" so vigorously upheld by opposing forces (deprecating each other's existence) might be better interpreted in the light of some form of probability theory -- rather than being necessarily upheld as either true or false. This would be consistent with emerging insight into a so-called "post-truth" context with which people are now obliged to live (Surreal Nature of Current Global Governance as Experienced, 2016; Living with Incomprehension and Uncertainty, 2012; Living as an Imaginal Bridge between Worlds, 2011).

The following argument follows from earlier exploration (using 3D visual models) of the challenge of framing the global strategic response using conventional planning methods constrained by two-dimensional thinking (Coronavirus -- Global Plan, Doughnut, Torus, Helix and/or Pineapple? 2020; Engaging Playfully with Coronavirus through "Organizing" Global Governance? 2020).

The emphasis here is that a requisite variety of images to encompass the complexity of the strategic challenge implies the need for a form of "strategic nimbleness" to shift between them, as has been variously articulated (Deborah Ancona, et al, Nimble Leadership, Harvard Business Review, July–August 2019; Burke Powers. Strategic Nimbleness as a Business Culture, Strategic Change Management, 2 August 2005).

Alternative images of coronavirus / COVID-19?

In the light of the approach of Gareth Morgan, a range of "images" or "frames" can be be cited in a preliminary selection. This could include emotions, beliefs, conceptual frames or strategic reactions -- on the understanding that these could overlap and be conflated (if not confused) in practice. There is of course the question, as with the images identified by Morgan, as to why eight are considered appropriate, rather than a lesser or greater number:

  1. collective surprise (consequent on previous failure to attend to prediction of future epidemics). The pandemic is readily cited as a Black Swan event, as clarified by (Nassim Nicholas TalebThe Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, 2007).
  2. fear and fearfulness (framed in terms of the level and probability of fatality). This is despite the acceptable annual incidence of other causes of death and the acceptability of collateral damage in time of war (however each is regretted, and the manner in which the victors are selectively commemorated in the case of the latter). Also relevant are arguments, notably by conspiracy theorists, that a culture of fear and fear-mongering has been deliberately cultivated in support of questionable agendas
    • threat to individuals and/or society (necessitating a response from security-related services)
    • panic focusing a need to avoid it at all costs (thereby justifying exceptional emergency measures)
    • disaster of global proportions with disastrous implications (most obviously for the economy and the financial markets)

  3. unmitigated evil, namely a manifestation of that which is believed by many to systematically undermine the essentially beneficent nature of innocent humanity. This is consistent with the various claims by world leaders and religious leaders for the prevailing importance of that understanding (Existence of evil as authoritatively claimed to be an overriding strategic concern, 2016; Evil Rules: Guidelines for Engaging in Armageddon Now, 2015). Its manifestation within institutions has also been noted, as reviewed by Mark Benton (Unmasking Administrative Evil, Public Integrity, 2020, February).
  4. a biological phenomenon or form of life (possibly deliberately manufactured or lending itself to weaponisation)
    • significant as a potentially threatening challenge corresponding to that of instinctual human memories of encounters with "wildlife"
    • biological challenge to medical research (especially necessitating urgent unlimited funding for a vaccine)
    • pestilence (necessitating suppression or eradication)
    • a medical challenge to the health services

  5. an unfamiliar structural pattern (challenging the natural order as more conventionally recognized). Possibly to be understood as a geometrical template of value to any pattern language or raising valuable questions from an enactive cognitive perspective (George Lakoff and Rafael E. Núñez (Where Mathematics Comes From: how the embodied mind brings mathematics into being, 2000).

  6. an abstract concept or statistical construct (as may be framed through the detachment of the social sciences, notably in the future)
    • an emergent meme (framed as a trend on social media and otherwise)
    • a conspiracy in its own right, especially given the prevailing confusion and assumptions regarding its deliberate cultivation
    • a pattern of data (inviting modelling and simulation by competing research groups)
    • an illusion (in the light of some philosophical perspectives)

  7. a catalyst for social change and transformation (of necessity given recognition of the improbability of being able to return to past normality and business-as-usual)
  8. "aesthetic material", recognized as a source of inspiration in mitigation of the psychological impact of the pandemic experience. This most obviously engenders humour, but may also result in reframing through music, poetry, and other works of art, as may be variously explored (A Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic? 2006; Markus Buehler, Nanomechanical sonification of the 2019-nCoV coronavirus spike protein through a materiomusical approach, 2020; Poetry-making and Policy-making: Arranging a Marriage between Beauty and the Beast, 1993).

As with Gareth Morgan's set of 8 images, the obvious question is why only 8? In the above case regarding COVID-19 there is no obvious answer, as is the case with the limited number of preoccupations of governance which are incorporated into various global plans. However, in the case of COVID-19 such a constraint is somewhat ironically evident in the "Eight ways in which scientists hope to provide immunity to SARS-CoV-2", The latter is the subtitle of a recent article noting that more than 90 vaccines are being developed against SARS-CoV-2 by research teams in companies and universities across the world (Ewen Callaway, The race for coronavirus vaccines: a graphical guide, Nature, 28 April 2020).

Interrelating disparate frameworks fruitfully

Insights from memory organization: A further step in the argument would then be how such inherently disparate images might be meaningfully related. The question frames the challenge of whether an 8-fold set is sufficiently disparate and, if so, what form the relationship between those images might take without undermining their requisite variety in cybernetic terms. Further argument is necessarily speculative, as separately indicated (Engaging with Elusive Connectivity and Coherence: global comprehension as a mistaken quest for closure, 2018; Time for Provocative Mnemonic Aids to Systemic Connectivity? Possibilities of reconciling the "headless hearts" to the "heartless heads", 2018).

The question has been specifically addressed in the light of so-called torus interconnect, namely a current approach to 3D memory organization of supercomputers. This is potentially to be understood as a key to the organization of any "global brain" of relevance to the strategic challenge (Framing Cognitive Space for Higher Order Coherence: toroidal interweaving from I Ching to supercomputers and back? 2019; Envisaging a Comprehensible Global Brain -- as a Playful Organ, 2019).

Such an unusual approach is arguably relevant in a period when NATO has been authoritatively asserted to be "brain dead" -- thereby inviting similar concerns (Are the UN and the International Community both Brain Dead -- given criteria recognizing that NATO is brain dead? 2019; James Dobbins, Is NATO Brain Dead? Rand Corporation, 3 December 2019).

The image on the left below is a schematic from Wikipedia of the principle underlying torus interconnect, as often used by high performance computing systems. That in the center is a 3D animation of the principle, further developed in the animation on the right for an even higher order of connectivity.

Representations of the torus interconnect employed in supercomputer memory organization
Torus interconnect schematic
(in cubic array)
3D reconstruction of schematic on left
(animation with indicative cube)
Interlinking of a 3x3x3 set of 24 nodes
(each linking 3 orthogonal loops)
Torus interconnect schematic in Tofu supercomputer Animation in 3D of torus interconnect schematic in Tofu supercomputer Animation of additional nodes in torus interconnect schematic in Fujitsu supercomputer
Reproduced from Wikipedia Reproduced from Framing Cognitive Space for Higher Order Coherence (2018)

Configuring contrasting frameworks: As argued with respect to the quest for higher order coherence, there is a case for confronting a set of differences as a means of engendering creativity transcending the preoccupations of a particular domain -- potentially to be described as a "difference engine". The eight domains previously discussed are indicated in such a framework (as indicated on the left below). Understood as complementary, the suggestion is that these are potentially related by a pattern of correspondences -- although any such pattern is necessarily tentative at this stage. Whether these are sufficiently distinct to constitute requisite variety remains to be explored.

For purposes of discussion, that pattern could be suggestively used to configure the 8 images of organization of Gareth Morgan, as mentioned above. In that spirit, the pattern could also be used to interrelate the disparate "images" of COVID-19 as detailed above (below centre).

Suggestive correspondence between configurations of highly disparate comprehension of "organization"
"Global brain"? Images of organization (Morgan, 1986) COVID-19
Mapping of distinctive preoccupations onto 8-fold supercomputer/BaGua schematic
Various mappings onto a schematic of the torus interconnect supercompouter memory organization

Higher dimensionality of coherence?

Complexification? The argument can be taken further by complexifying the configurations indicated above -- as is in fact characteristic of memory organization in the supercomputers mentioned. The images below indicate such possibilities, notably in the light of the oppostional logic and its associated geometry, as discussed separately (Global Coherence by Interrelating Disparate Strategic Patterns Dynamically: topological interweaving of 4-fold, 8-fold, 12-fold, 16-fold and 20-fold in 3D, 2019).

Especially of value to the argument is the focus on risk and trust, given their role in any (collective) confidence in any model. The challenge of both is evident in relation to current declarations of authorities regarding the pandemic and the manner in which these are contested, irrespective of the degree to which any such protest is deprecated.

Containing the spread of COVID-19 is readily held to require that citizens have faith in both their government and one another (Bo Rothstein, Trust Is The Key to Fighting the Pandemic, Scientific American, 24 March 2020). As widely noted, however, the confusion associated with the pandemic has resulted in a massive erosion of public trust in authorities (Darren Palmer, Pandemic policing needs to be done with the public’s trust, not confusion, The Conversation, 8 April 2020).

It is in this sense that an articulation with regard to risk and trust is of particular value, as presented in models by Carlos Trigoso (Correlating Risk and Trust Management, 2017). The author stresses that in order to overcome the technocentric focus in information security and identity management, there is need for a model which correlates all aspects of risk and trust management. The framework offers a much wider perspective, avoiding the exclusive fixation on "risk avoidance". The associataed issues are a focus of the clarifications by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Ethics of Precaution: Individual and Systemic Risk, 17 March 2020; Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, 2012).

The image of Trigoso can be seen as framing the elusive experiential dimension of which the form and dynamics of the tesseract are indicative. Trigoso's own image is presented here redrawn (below right), of but with the addition of an internal cube in green -- indicative of the paradoxical comprehension complexity suggested by arguments relating to the tesseract, as discussed separately (Neglected recognition of logical patterns -- especially of opposition, 2017).

As noted in that discussion with respect to the image on the left, a comment on the work of Shea Zellweger (Untapped potential in Peirce's iconic notation for the sixteen binary connectives, 1997) in a blog (Opposition Geometry: mathematics (and philosophy) of opposition, 30 September 2015) notes:

The American psychologist Shea Zellweger (...) seems to be the first person to have remarked (in 1997?) that the 14 non-trivial binary connectives (i.e. the 16 binary connectives minus the "tautology" and the "contradiction" connectives) can be embedded into a 3D rhombic dodecahedron (which he called "logical garnet"). However, he does not seem to have been aware of the fact more or less the same structure (that is: the same structure but expressed in a different way, so to exhibit 6 logical hexagons in it) had been proposed by Sauriol in 1968.

Correspondences variously framing the nexus of confidence-identity?

The Logic Alphabet Tesseract
- a four-dimensional cube (see coding).
by Shea Zellweger

Tesseract animation
simulating requisite 4-dimensionality?
Cubic relation between risk and trust adapted to frame the subtlety of additional dimensionality
The Logic Alphabet Tesseract by Shea Zellweger Tesseract animation
Diagram by Warren Tschantz
(reproduced from the Institute of Figuring) .
by Jason Hise [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons Adaptation of the image by Carlos Trigoso (Correlating Risk and Trust Management 2017)

The image on the right then frames a focus on the subtlety of confidence and sense of identity, increasingly experienced as fundamental in a period of pandemic and its evocation of panic. In whom is it possible to have confidence given the questionable assertions of health experts, the only too obvious self-interest of political groups, and the associated commercial forces seeking profitability at all cost? The calls for unquestionable confidence in authorities then frame the need to challenge the surrender of critical discourse and the efforts to impose conformity of perspective.

Confidence and identity? Clearly, despite its fundamental importance to global governance, the nexus of confidence and identity, as framed above (in green), eludes simplistic definition. The tesseract animation above is suggestive of the paradoxical complexity of that nexus in relation to what it is mistakenly assumed as lending itself to adequate objective definition in conventional terms.

Of some relevance is the curious role of the prefix "con-" as it features in a wide range of terms of relevance to "con-sensus", "con-gress", "con-firmation", "con-formity", and the like -- and especially any "confidence trick". The implications are discussed separately (Exploration of Prefixes of Global Discourse: implications for sustainable confidelity, 2011; Primary Global Reserve Currency: the Con? Cognitive implications of a prefix for sustainable confidelity, 2011; Embodiment of Identity in Conscious Creativity: challenge of encompassing "con", 2011).

Indicative framing of confidence and identity
Configuration of axes of biases
containing the consensual processes
potentially fundamental to global confidelity
Confidence and its surrogates
indicative configuration of the variety of expressions and tokens of confidence
Configuration of axes of biases fundamental to global confidelity Configuration of the variety of expressions and tokens of confidence
Representation of the axes of bias of W.T. Jones (1961),
reproduced from Configuring a system of pre-logical biases (2009)
Reproduced from Varieties of Confidence Essential to Sustainability:
surrogates and tokens obscuring the existential "gold standard"

Paradox of identity-confidence associated with inversion?

The tesseract animation is valuable in challenging the cognitive closure implied by the 2D schematics above. Given the widespread dependence on cubic architecture, both in buildings and knowledge organization, the challenge to comprehension can be further emphasized by the seeming impossibility of the "inversion of the cube". This can be understood as an articulation of the dilemma of outside-inside and inside-outside (Interface challenge of inside-outside, insight-outsight, information-outformation, 2017).

The explorations of the designer Paul Schatz led to discovery of the possibility inverting or everting the cube -- for which he is widely known, as illustrated by a number of videos:

Flexible card models are also marketed with commentaries (modelmodel) as with many wireframe models known as Hexyflex. His approach is described by the Paul Schatz Foundation as resulting in the construction of several machines, of which the most famous are the Turbula, the Inversina and the Oloid.

The potential of this approach is consistent with that widely framed in terms of the need for "thinking outside the box", as discussed separately (Time for Provocative Mnemonic Aids to Systemic Connectivity? 2018).

The cubic images above can then be considered as framing the challenge of how to think "outside" them. The argument of Paul Schatz is especially relevant in that so much of psychosocial organization is framed by the static architecture of the cube in 3D -- or through its compression into a square in 2D. This is the favoured modality for most explanatory tables. Through its 12-edges, the cube potentially offers clues to a relationship within any 12-fold pattern, but has not been extensively explored in that respect, although it is a feature of studies of oppositional logic, and a relationship to the 8-fold pattern valued in Chinese thinking (see image below left).

Reference to "inside the box" is considered analogous with the current, and often unnoticed, assumptions about a situation. The associated dynamics are consistent with arguments for fluidity in creative thinking (Douglas HofstadterFluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: computer models of the fundamental mechanisms of thought, 1995). There is a case for recognizing the analogy implied by literal use of "the box" as a widely employed method of punitive solitary confinement, as vividly described by Shruti Ravindran (Twilight in the Box: what does solitary confinement do to the brain? Aeon, 27 February 2014). Widespread conventional dependence on a cuboid framework may well constitute an analogous form of a solitary confinement -- curiously relevant to the lockdown imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The question is therefore whether the form that Schatz extracted from the cube -- through the dynamics of its possible eversion -- offers indications of a way of transforming conventional preoccupation with its static form. The following images offer some indication of this, as discussed separately (Eliciting the dynamics of the cube: reframing discourse dynamics, 2018).

Cubical representation
of BaGua pattern of I Ching

Rotation of views of a phase
in inversion of cube
Animation of selected phases
in inversion of cube
Cubical representation  of BaGua pattern of I Ching Rotation of views of a phase  in inversion of cube Cube inversion animation
Reproduced from Z. D. Sung, The Symbols of Yi King or the Symbols of the Chinese Logic of Changes (1934, p. 12) Images derived from Charles Gunn (Schatz Cube Eversion, Vimeo, 25 April 2017)
with the assistance of the author; interactive vrml version of centre model adapted by Sergey Bederov (Cortona3D)

Explorative 3D animations of the image on the left above are presented separately (Succinct mapping of multidimensional psychosocial dynamics? 2016).

In terms of the argument with respect to features hidden from the observer, this is especially evident in the case of the central image above. In that phase, the 24 sides are visible through the animation. But in the case of the static blue-green perspective or the static red-yellow perspective, only 12 sides are visible. Being hidden, the other 12 can only be inferred unless the structure was rendered transparent. In the reality of sociopolitical discourse opposing sides are never "transparent" to one another -- whatever the claims that are made. Cognitively each could be interpreted as a form of shadow for the other in the Jungian sense. The wireframe image on the right is indicative of the commercial product widely marketed as Hexyflex.

Schatz cube (solid and wireframe screen shot images) prior to inversion
Schatz cube inversion Sergey Bederov of Cortona3D has produced an interactive vrml version of the complete cycle of the original, with formulae kindly provided by
Charles Gunn.
Thanks to both.
See video of the complete cycle
Schatz cube inversion

Requisite complementarity for innovative strategic nimbleness

Cubic container insights? The frameworks presented above -- extended from 3D to 4D -- offer a way of discussing the complementarity between the images evoked by COVID-19 which are the focus of this argument. It is tempting to exploit the cubic characteristics as indicative framing elements in the following manner:

Of particular interest is the tendency to a form of fixation on the role of a given pattern of N-foldness as offering a primary ordering function, as discussed separately (Patterns of N-foldness: comparison of integrated multi-set concept schemes as forms of presentation, 1980). Little attention is seemingly given to the implications of alternative "fixations". Examples include:

Container design: The sets identified above -- as checklists (or strategic "laundry lists") exemplify a relative crude understanding of a strategic container. The nature of such a container has notably been addressed in cognitive terms as image schemata and as contaioner metaphors (George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, 1980).

Whether as challenges or goals, the elements of each set can be understood as implying categories of "dangerous things" of which COVID-19 is but one example. These are all revelatory of categories currently cultivated in the "global mind" (George Lakoff, Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: what categories reveal about the mind, 1987).

Given the manner in which such sets are effectively packaged in "boxes", there is some irony to the contrasting approach offered by Alexander Klose (citing Lakoff) in the light of the massive replication of containers for the transportation of goods (The Container Principle: how a box changes the way we think, 2015)

The cognitive and strategic challenge for global governance might be usefully seen in terms of the traditional alchemical endeavour to design a framework for the universal solvent capable of dissolving everything -- with any individual strategic endeavour having the capacity to cause the catastropic collapse of any conventional container. Any of the 8 strategic frameworks named above has the capacity to negate destructively all the others -- unless subject to the mutual constraintt of their complementarity. Could fixation on a particular metaphor be significant to the collective "choice" reviewed by Jared Diamond (Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, Viking Press, 2005)? In contrast to the classic Metaphors We Live By (1980), could such fixation be otherwise understood (Metaphors To Die By: correspondences between a collapsing civilization, culture or group, and a dying person, 2013)?

A curious feature of this paradox is the design challenge of the ITER nuclear fusion reactor. Its primary reqiuirement is that the plasma it contains should not come in contact with its container wall for which a toroidal form has been considered appropriate. This can be seen as a potentially appropriate metaphor for the challenge to strategic comprehension at this time (Enactivating a Cognitive Fusion Reactor: Imaginal Transformation of Energy Resourcing (ITER-8), 2006),

Any such design challenge contrasts fundamentally with the simplistic use of the tank metaphor as the source of the strategic insignts on which humanity is so dependent. The challenge is especially evident in the competitive articulation of global strategic preoccupations, as promoted from the conflicting perspectives of think tanks -- with little reference to each other or to their respective insights (Tank Warfare Challenges for Global Governance: extending the "think tank" metaphor to include other cognitive modalities, 2019).

As a container, any such tank also contrasts with more encompassing use of a traditional metaphor, namely the tent, and the quest for a "bigger tent" -- rather than a better tank (Global Brane Comprehension Enabling a Higher Dimensional Big Tent? 2011).

Requisite strategic attitudes in anicipation of change?

The adaptation of Carlos Trigoso's risk/trust cube to incorporate a focus for confidence/identity implies a higher dimensionality which necessarily eludes explication. Fortunately there are clues to the requisite attitude towards risk in entrepreneurship, the martial arts, and in forms of aesthetics calling for presence in the moment.

In the case of some traditions of Eastern martial arts this attitude is entangled with aesthetic insight (Ensuring Strategic Resilience through Haiku Patterns: reframing the scope of the "martial arts" in response to strategic threats, 2006). It is especially evident in the challenge of improvisation in music and song, most obviously in antiphonal duets (Improvisation in Multivocal Poetic Discourse: Basque lauburu and bertsolaritza as catalysts of global significance, 2016; Evoking Castalia as Envisaged, Entoned and Embodied: the great game informed by the bertsolaritza cultural process? 2016).

There is therefore a case for reviewing the 8-fold pattern above in the light of the requisite nimbleness, aesthetically understood -- namely the capacity to "think on the feet" or to "think on the fly" -- rather than to depend on prescripting. With respect to any higher dimensionality of the Trigoso adaptation, this could be associated with the animations, whether of the tesseract or the Schatz cube -- the inner cube then paradoxically mirrored dynamically with the outer and framing a locus with which any meaning of "being centered" is associated.

Reframing the challenges: A possible reinterpretation of the 8-fold set of images, and their complementarity, might then take the following form:

  1. Surprise: recognized as a primary characteristic of achieving competitive advantage in military strategy, business and and many games. It is cultivated in drama and comedy and celebrated in courtship. It is a feature of successful debate and legal argument. In all such contexts skill is required in the anticipation of possible surprise. This is echoed to some degree in governance in the form of emergency preparedeness. A notable example of the requisite attitude is evident in the improvised exchange cultivated by the bertsolaritza of the Basque culture.
  2. Fear: ensuring a degree of fearfulness in others is a characteristic of those seeking dominance in many competitive situations. It may be experienced or sought in terms of respect and awe. Expressed as threat it may be valued in ensuring that others conform to some requirement. The experience of fear and terror is notably cultivated in many forms of entertainment and recreation. It is difficult to render these attractive without a dimension framed as "terrifying" or "thrilling". This may take the form of fear of losing, cultivated in some extreme sports in terms of the risk of fatality.
  3. Evil: typically an essential framing to inspire strategic action and to mobilize collective response, as evident in a tendency to portray any opposing force in such terms, whether elsewhere or internally. It is cultivated as an essential feature of many religions and, by extesnion, in the affirmation of values which non-believers fail to uphold, as in the case of the dynanmics between political systems. Manifestations of evil are typically essential to successful drama and entertainment -- to be vanquished through the triumph of the good. Victors in military conflict cultivate representations of the vanquished as expressions of evil.
  4. Biological phenomenon: most evident in the curiosity about new expressions of life, whether in nature (as extesnsively presented in documentaries) or in personal experience of wildlife in the wilderness. The appreciation is especially evident in the engagement with pets. The curiosity is celebrated by some in the quest for alien life and its portrayal in science fiction. A variant is evident in the efforts to create realistic lifeforms, as with robots (and their extension to sex dolls). The challenge such non-human life poses is evident in the experience of zoos and safaris -- beyond that of domesticated animals.
  5. Structural pattern: most obviously appreciated in expressions of creativity and innovation, whether in the arts or technology. Such innovation may take both static form in new designs and patterns (possibly governed by patents) or through dynamic expression (most obviously in dance forms).
  6. Abstract concept: as with the emergence of new ideas, paradgims and meme -- possibly appreciated for the manner in which they reframe an existing order (inherited from the past) and heralding new ways of thinking and behaving. Especially intriguing, potentially, may be the revelation or discovery of unsuspected hidden dimensions of a more fundamental nature -- and a challenged to conventional modes of thinking.
  7. Catalyst for social change: recognized as a trigger revealing hitherto unsuspected opportunity for change and transformation. For some this may take the form of recognition of loop-holes, whether or not this is framed as exploiting a situation -- however creatively. The catalyst may be of a form which frames and evokes new questions -- and questions of a new kind.
  8. Aesthetic material: as a source of inspiration for a reframing current experience in support of new possibilities. This is most obvious in humour. It is exemplified by the so-called "crazy wisdom" of Tibetan Buddhism, but otherwise evident in the recognition of "divine madness" in other religious traditions. Aesthetic use of such "material" is more evident in its "appropriation" by poets, song-writers and musicians -- exemplified by rap.
    • what use of what "material" evokes deprecation -- and by whom?

Existential depths and implications of any challenge: Whilst disparate attitudes can be readily distinguished and exemplified, as suggested above, their appreciation is clearly a matter of degree in practice. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic it might then be asked:

Interweaving disparate voices in the moment

Interweaving signifiance: The articulation above tends to overemphasize the disparate nature of the requisite attitudes. The reality of experience requires a capacity to "dance" cognitively between them -- hence "strategic nimbleness" -- as exemplified in the martial arts, and especially their underlying philsophy. This is notably evident in classical articulations of sets of strategies which continue to be appreciated in strategic settings (The Book of Five Rings; The Art of War; Thirty-six Strategems). A comprhensive set of challenging questions -- as 48 koans -- is offered in another classic, The Gateless Barrier (or The Gateless Gate).

How many "moves" are required to "fox" or deceive an opponnent? How is appreciation of this skill to be distinguisnhed from deprecation of confidence trickery -- given the risk/trust framework presented above? Ultimately, however, who is the opponent -- the "tiger" to be lured out of the "mountain" in the case of the Thirty-six Strategems? How many themes need to be interwoven for effective global governance, and how is interweaving to be understood, as separately discussed (

The point can be made otherwise through the casting of an array of characters or voices in any dramatic plot, composition or creative choreography -- in order for it to be attractive and memorable. This is especially evident in cultural epics such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Mahabharata, the Kalevala, or the Ring of the Nibelung. What constitutes their attractive power and durability does however remain elusive.

Rather than the cube-based configuration (above), one approach to indicating the requisite complementarity is through the following Venn diagram. This frames the central space responsive to the particular aspects -- and the potential "dance" between them.

Indicative representation of complementarity
Complementarity as a resonance hybrid

Metaphorically, the configuration can usefully be understood as a form of resonance hybrid whose integrity derives from that dynamic. The following offering various clarifications of that pattern of resonance between complementary modes:

How indeed does such resonance relate to the wave-related arguments of Alexander Wendt (Quantum Mind and Social Science: unifying physical and social ontology, 2015) or to those of Chris Laszlo (Quantum Management: the practices and science of flourishing enterprise, Journal of Management, Spirituality and Religion, 2020)? Do complementary images imply contrasting forms of otherness (Encountering Otherness as a Waveform -- in the light of a wave theory of being, 2013)?

Ways of looking? Given the case made for the integrative perspective offered by aesthetics, reference can be usefully made to the extensive post-modern exploration of the poem by Wallace Stevens (Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, 1917). Rather than a pattern of eight, are thirteen ways of looking to be understood as potentially characterizing a pattern of memetic warfare? The approach is further justified in an earlier argument in the light of the blackbird's renowned singing capacity (Anticipating When Blackbirds Sing Chinese, 2014). This concluded with the following themes:

Noopolitics and memetic warfare within the noosphere
Engaging with a memespace of paradoxical complexity
Ways of looking at ways of looking
Post-modern challenge to simplistic binary framing of the other
Imaginative composition of ways of looking or listening
Embodying a multiverse of uncertainly ordered incongruity
Thirteen ways of apprehending blackbird song
Imagining future communication integrity enabled by aesthetics

Following the controversial disclosures regarding the degree of invasive electronic surveillance (currently in process of extension to COVID-19 contact tracking), how might a variety of ways of looking be elicited and juxtaposed -- perhaps such that together their strange integrity rendered them meaningless to conventional observation? The title of Stevens' poem is claimed to allude to the Cubist painting tradition of observing subjects simultaneously from numerous viewpoints to present a novel perspective. Umberto Eco might be said to offer an example (Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt, New York Review of Books, 22 June 1995, pp.12-15).

Covid-19 versus Corvid-19? The earlier argument included a provocative adaptation of "blackbird" to "crow", citing R. J. Derosa (Of Crows, Poetry, and Politicians):

I often stop and watch a crow cawing atop a pole. Each caw takes a lot of energy.... Politicians also make a lot of noise. I would rather listen to birds any day. Crows and politicians share one similarity; they both puff themselves up prior to emitting sound. Given a choice, I will always prefer crow-talk (RJ Derosa's Weblog, 27 March 2012). [emphasis added]

Given the disastrous approach to global governance, toeing a conventional line, this evoked the following images appropriately exploiting the collective noun for a group of crows -- namely a murder of crows (Kevin Dickinson, Why is it called a murder of crows? Big Think, 30 September 2018).

A "murder of crows" ?
A 'murder of crows' or a meeting of the G8 Group?
Global governance by a "murder of crows" -- the G8 Group ?
G8 Group as a murder of crows

With respect to current preoccupation with COVID-19, and any anticipation of future pandemics (COVID-21 and thereafter), there is a delightful irony to the above association with "crows". In scientific terms, the crow is a member of the Corvidae family which includes some 120 species; Corvus being one genus of 45 members within that family. The irony is evident in the common erroneous reference to Covidae (4,300 Google results) rather than to Corvidae (1,200,000 results), most notably in extensive websites of images, but also including scientific and other reports. As might be suspected, there are even references to CORVID-19 (663,000 results) -- a phenomenon discussed by Joseph Longo (In the Covid Crisis the Corvid is having a moment, Mel Magazine, 17 April 2020).

The relevance of such confusion in a period of pandemic merits further attention in the light of the ambiguity of the traditional symbolic significance associated with the crow. On the one hand, the crow is closely associated with death -- notably in the light of its role as a carrion eater, feeding on flesh on battlefields (Why are black crows associated with death? Quora, February 2018; Charles Mudede, We See Death When We See Crows, The Stranger, 9 September 2015). Some cultures have seen the crow as a messenger of death, the unknown and the underworld. They were especially evident at the time of the Great Plague in 1665 -- curiously complemented by plague doctors wearing beaked masks. (Erin Blakemore, Why plague doctors wore those strange beaked masks, National Geographic, 12 March 2020).

On the other hand, the Corvidae are considered to be the most intelligent birds, and have been appropriately associated with a source of insight and the trickster archetype (Michelle Starr, 13 Strange Reasons Why Crows And Ravens Are Definitely The Smartest Birds, Hands Down, ScienceAlert, 30 Ausugst 2019; Lyanda Lynn Haupt, Crow Planet: Essential Wisdom From the Urban Wilderness, 2009).

Indicative representation of resonance between complementary frameworks

The image above, being essentially static, can only imply the dynamics associated with resonant alternation between contrasting perspectives. Some further indication can be sought through metaphor (Metaphors of Alternation: an exploration of their significance for development policy-making, 1984).

As noted above, the possibility of representation can be most readily suggested through music, as discussed separately (Hearing the Variety of Voices in Climate Change Discourse: recognizing the challenge of soundscape comprehension in controversy and emergency, 2019). The latter distinguishes the following, of which the interplay in each case is familiar to most and readily comprehensible:

However any sense of coherent alternation between voices as instruments, or instruments alone, is central to orchestration, as discussed in that context (Orchestration of a requisite variety of voices in response to climate change? 2019).

Encoding of 8-fold patterns: It could be assumed that orchestration, choreography and composition also offer examples of visual representation of interplay consistent with a sense of complementarity. That earlier exploration concluded with a discussion of Patterns of resonance and their characteristic experiential challenges, illustrated by the following animations indicative of the resonance inherent in the 8-fold encoding offered by the Chinese BaGua system. This is especially the case given the nature of the transformation between its 8 conditions to which the encoding gives precision, as indicated in the animations below-left. Both the conditions and the transformations are traditionally described through metaphor.

The animations below-right are reproduced from a discussion of Transformation pathways in multivocal discourse (2016) featuring the Lauburu pattern (or Basque cross). The latter featured in an experimental depiction of 8-fold, 16-fold and 24-fold patterns (24-fold Pattern Implied by Dynamics of the Lauburu in 3D: visualization of the interplay of sets of voices in discourse, 2016)

Use of 8-fold BaGua to suggest the resonant dynamic relationships between voices
Alternative experimental animations indicative of
transformations between BaGua "voices"
Experimental rotation of alternative Lauburu patterns
over alternative BaGua patterns
Later Heaven (King Wen)
pattern of transformations
Earlier Heaven (Fuxi)
pattern of transformations
Anti-clockwise over
Later Heaven (King Wen) pattern
Clockwise over
Earlier Heaven (Fuxi) pattern
Animation of Later Heaven BaGua suggestive of resonant dynamics within the pattern Animation of Earlier  Heaven BaGua suggestive of resonant dynamics within the pattern Experimental rotation of alternative Lauburu patterns over alternative BaGua patterns Experimental rotation of alternative Lauburu patterns over alternative BaGua patterns

The argument with respect to climate change can be generalized in more speculative exploration of the global brain -- itself to be imagined as a form of resonance hybrid. This considered the helical organization of patterns such as those above, in the light of the role of the musical octave as the epitome of comprehensible resonance for many (Requisite helical cognitive engagement within a global brain, 2019).

Smith chart and Lauburu: Cyclic dynamics can be indicated in a surprising manner through use of the 2D variant of the Smith Chart. This is a graphical aid or nomogram designed for electrical and electronics engineers specializing in radio frequency (RF) engineering to assist in solving problems with transmission lines and circuit matching. As discussed separately it can be used to explore the dynamics of cognitive transformations potentially typical of a (global) brain (Modulating cognitive transformations: electrical metaphors and semiconduction in In Quest of a Dynamic Pattern of Transformations: Sensing the strange attractor of an emerging Rosetta Stone, 2012).

Curiously, but potentially appropriately, the form of the patterns has resulted in their recognition using terminology with which the circle of hexagrams has been traditionally associated (Randy Rhea, The Yin-Yang of Matching, High Frequency Electronics, 2006). In relation to the discussion of wave forms, the 8 types of the 2D Smith Chart were presented separately (Animations variously suggestive of "being a waveform", 2013 in Being a Waveform of Potential as an Experiential Choice: emergent dynamic qualities of identity and integrity, 2013). The animation on the left below is a redrawn versions, using dashed lines, of the 8 figures identified by Randy Rhea (2006).

The animation on the right below uses a sequence of images to give a sense of pathways within and between more "worlds" of more "local" preoccupation (Various representations of cyclic dynamics with implications for a global brain, 2019). Cyclical patterns of N-foldness in static depictions of a global brain? Pathways of larger dimension are indicative of emergence of more "global" integration of the hemispheres of the brain

Experimental animations representing dynamics of resonance
Representation through combinations of Smith Chart with Lauburu and Tao pattern Pathways in a global brain?
8 elements of Tao symbol represented experimentally on a Smith Chart
Superposition of Lauburu on Smith Chart Animation of the Tao image between 8 orientations Indicative of "global brainwaves"?
8 elements of Tao symbol represented experimentally on a Smith Chart Superposition of Lauburu on Smith Chart Animation of the Tao image between 8 orientations Animation of indicative pathways in a global brain: global brainwaves?
Reproduced from Various representations of cyclic dynamics with implications for a global brain (2019)

Clues from improvisation: The challenge with any representation of resonance of strategic significance is how cognitive implication is indicated. Given the obvious requirement in music improvisation and challenging poetic exchanges, an extensive discussion of the matter focused on the former as framed by the Lauburu as an integrative symbol for the Basque bertsolaritza tradition (Improvisation in Multivocal Poetic Discourse: Basque lauburu and bertsolaritza as catalysts of global significance, 2016)/

Clarification as to how participants, using different instruments, might improvise together within a group is offered in a key text by Vinko Globokar (Reacting: role of a performer, 1970). The distinctions were tentatively mapped onto a Lauburu, as shown below right, with related uses of that framework in the original discussion.


Imitation: After a variable lapse of time, a performer reproduces exactly what is heard. This being the most direct and instinctive mode. Clearly, the spontaneity as well as the quality of the response will depend on the contents and character of the pattern, on the degree of its complexity and on the degree of its perceived difficulty.

Integration: Rather than imitation, it is possible for the performer to integrate into material serving as a pattern, to follow it, to embody it, to move in the direction it suggests. The performer can always find a possibility of doing so one way or the other, and so the degree of complexity of information does not play a decisive role.

Hesitation: This is the mode tending most to create distance and disengagement. Starting from being "tied" to a particular pattern, the performer reaches a mode of actively creating pauses -- extremely alive and tense. Parts of the pattern are taken and positioned in time, transformed subjectively. This may produce an inner tension in the performer which complete prescription would probably have been incapable of provoking. Idleness in music, which otherwise makes for a dead situation, then becomes extremely "constructive".

Countering: Contrary to the above, doing the opposite from might be expected by any pattern, the performer rapidly analyzes the situation to determine an alternative. Ultimately, he does not "choose" but reacts. A pattern characterized by maximum loudness, static, in a deep register, will be "opposed" according to the individuals in one, two or even all three parameters at the same time

Mapping modes of improvisation  onto lauburu

It is appropriate to ask in any dynamic relating to a crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, to what extent authorities design into policy elaboration those 4-fold distinctions. The impression created by authorities has been unquestionable assertion -- from which any contrary perspective has been skillfully (if negligently) designed out. As noted separately, it is characteristic of more mature strategic assessments to benefit from simulations of at least two opposing strategies, especially in evaluating military options -- typically a so-called "Red Team" and a "Blue Team" (Misrepresentation of the scope of the crisis? 2020).

Indication of resonance using a 3D Lauburu framework: Given the availability of 3D modelling facilities, it is possible to explore a form of interplay between 8, 16 and 24 voices, as discussed separately and indicated below (24-fold Pattern Implied by Dynamics of the Lauburu in 3D: visualization of the interplay of sets of voices in discourse, 2016).

Screen shots and 3D animations of complementary "voices"
using the geometry of mutually orthogonal lauburu to frame pathways of emergence and reabsorption
Single-plane lauburu framework
8-voice dynamics
Double-plane lauburu framework
16-voice dynamics
Triple-plane lauburu framework
24-voice dynamics
Single-plane lauburu framework: 8-voice dynamics Double-plane lauburu framework: 16-voice dynamics Triple-plane lauburu framework: 24-voice dynamics
Video (mp4). Virtual reality (x3d, wrl) Video (mp4). Virtual reality (x3d, wrl) Video (mp4). Virtual reality (x3d, wrl)

Resonance indicated by an 8x8 magic square: As one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin was a recognized polymath and one of the most influential personalities of his time. He is recognized as having been the most intimately involved in the elaboration of the US Constitution.

One of Franklin's far less recognized accomplishments, however, was his exploration of magic squares, and even magic circles, as noted by Paul Pasles (Franklin Squares 2006; Benjamin Franklin's Numbers: an unsung mathematical odyssey, Princeton University Press, 2007) and by Maya Mohsin Ahmed (Unraveling the secret of Benjamin Franklin: constructing Franklin squares of higher order, 23 September 2015).

The methods by which he generated such squares so readily, charactericized by so-called bent diagonals, remain unknown (Harvey Heinz, Most-perfect Bent diagonal Magic Squares, 2009; Daniel Schindel, et al., Enumerating the bent diagonal squares of Dr Benjamin Franklin, Proceedings of the Royal Society, 462, 2006), pp. 2271-2279; Paul Pasles (The Lost Squares of Dr. Franklin, The American Mathematical Monthly, 108, 2001, 6).

Franklin's 8x8 magic squares: animations of movement of selected bent diagonals
Vertical movement Combined movement Horizontal movement
Franklin's 8x8 magic squares: animations of  vertical movement of bent diagonals Franklin's 8x8 magic squares: animations of combined movement of vertical bent diagonals Franklin's 8x8 magic squares: animations of horizontal movement of   bent diagonals
Reproduced from Salvation Enabled by Systemic Comprehension -- Via aesthetics of magic squares? (2015)

Franklin called his 16x16 magic square the most magically magical of any magic square ever made by a magician -- with which many mathematicians and mystics would now be held to agree (Peter Loly, Franklin Squares: a chapter in the scientific studies of magical squares, University of Manitoba, 2006; William H. Richardson, Ben Franklin's Amazing Magic Square [including animation], Wichita State University; Ben Franklin's 8x8 Magic Square, Wichita State University).

Franklin's 16x16 magic squares: animations of movement of selected bent diagonals
Vertical movement Combined movement Horizontal movement
Franklin's 16x16 magic squares: animation of vertical movement of bent diagonals Franklin's 16x16 magic squares: animation of combined movement of bent diagonals Franklin's 16x16 magic squares: animation of horizontal movement of bent diagonals
Reproduced from Salvation Enabled by Systemic Comprehension -- Via aesthetics of magic squares? (2015)


Mats Alvesson and André Spicer (Eds.). Metaphors We Lead By: understanding leadership in the real world. Routledge, 2011 [review]

Jared Diamond. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive. Viking Press, 2005

Alexander Klose. The Container Principle: how a box changes the way we think. MIT Press, 2015

George Lakoff. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About the Mind. University of Chicago Press, 1987

George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Metaphors We Live By. University of Chicago Press, 1980

George Lakoff and Rafael E. Núñez. Where Mathematics Comes From: how the embodied mind brings mathematics into being. Basic Books, 2000

Gareth Morgan:

Anders Örtenblad, Kiran Trehan and Linda L. Putnam (Eds). Exploring Morgan’s Metaphors: theory, research, and practice in organizational studies. Sage, 2016

Anders Örtenblad, Kiran Trehan and Linda L. Putnam. Beyond Morgans eight metaphors: Adding to and developing organization theory. Human Relations, 69, 2016, 4 [abstract]

Nassim Nicholas Taleb:

Alexander Wendt. Quantum Mind and Social Science: unifying physical and social ontology. Cambridge University Press, 2015

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

For further updates on this site, subscribe here