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1st May 2012 | UNCOMPLETED Draft

Everything as a Metaphorical Theory of Everything

Not excluding nonsense, nothingness, the inexplicable, the irrelevant and their rejection

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Earth Summit as embodying Everything?
Confidence in comprehension of connectivity and coherence
Re-imagining cognitive habitats transformatively
Metaphorizing cognitive habitats?
Poetizing cognitive habitats?
Musicalizing cognitive habitats?
Dramatizing cognitive habitats?
Humorizing cognitive habitats?
Embodying cognitive reality?
Aestheticizing reality transformatively?


In a period when the leading lights of fundamental physics are in quest of a so-called Theory of Everything -- possibly requiring articulation in terms of up to 26 "dimensions" -- it is appropriate to ask to what kind of comprehension ordinary mortals can aspire. The difficulty with 26 "dimensions" is that few are able to even imagine the implications of four or more, as previously argued (Dynamics of Symmetry Group Theorizing, 2008).

What might ordinary mortals do with such a comprehensive theory when elaborated -- given the degree of its highly probable incomprehensibility? How is it anyway possible to manage "incomprehension", even partial (Living with Incomprehension and Uncertainty, 2012)? What is possible in the face of uncertainity (Richard Black, Uncertainty Hampers Rio+20 Talks, BBC News, 16 June 2012)? Framed otherwise, how conceptually radical is it possible and feasible to be -- in quest of more comprehensive coherence of personal relevance?

This is an exploration of the possibility of considering "everything" as potentially the cognitive basis for a "Theory of Everything". As the title indicates, the approach is to consider "everything" as a source of metaphor enabling both more comprehensive coherence and  enhanced dynamics of connectivity -- through poetry, music, drama and humour. The question is then whether, and how, cognitive engagement with such use of metaphor -- as a lens -- is enabling in a way which is appreciated as significant, especially personally.

Variants of this possibility have been suggested  previously (in documents noted below). These tend to cite authors that could be considered to be in some respects sympathetic to the approach -- or may well have implied that it can be taken much further (Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature: a necessary unity, 1979; Henryk Skolimowski, The Participatory Mind: a new theory of knowledge and of the universe, 1995; Christian de Quincey, Radical Nature: rediscovering the soul of matter, 2002; David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous: perception and language in a more-than-human world, 1997; Paul K. Feyerabend, Conquest of Abundance: a tale of abstraction versus the richness of being. 1999; Steven M. Rosen, Topologies of the Flesh: a multidimensional exploration of the lifeworld, 2006; Morris Berman, Reenchantment of the World, 1981).

As remarkably clarified by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (Metaphors We Live By, 1980), human activity is already constrained and framed by metaphor. There may however be a pretence that this is not the case, even when "surgical strikes" are currently envisaged in the case of Iran. Metaphors can kill, as argued prior to each of the Gulf Wars by George Lakoff (Metaphor and War: the metaphor system used to justify war in the Gulf, January 1991; Metaphor and War, Again, March 2003).

What follows is an exploration of how this reality might be re-imagined -- especially by individuals for themselves -- such as to reframe an alternative cognitive habitat. The approach is to juxtapose and interrelate a set of complementary transformative cognitive modalities -- of aesthetic inspiration. In each case the emphasis is on indicating relevant references and arguments rather than rehearsing them in any detail. The question raised is whether engaging with the Beast can be creatively enabled by aesthetic means -- in accordance with various traditions of folk wisdom. Can the reality of the problematique be fruitfully transformed aesthetically?

It is in this spirit that the quest of physicists for a Theory of Everything is of great significance in that the underlying assumption in selecting amongst possible candidates is their degree of elegance. Curiously such a criterion is not evident in the elaboration of global governance strategies -- or as being of significance to those expected to comprehend them, to be attracted to them, or to be engaged by them. Physics has also boldly acknowledged the role of "nothing", and even of the preponderance of "dark matter" of inexplicable nature -- whilst conventional strategic thinking has relied on simplistic dynamics through which the preoccupations of those of another persuasion are framed as "irrelevant", if not dangerous "nonsense" -- only to be surprised by the emergence of "crises" (Reintegration of a Remaindered World: cognitive recycling of objects of systemic neglect, 2011).

The argument here is taken further through the assumption that "everything" may paradoxically offer an elegant cognitive mirror of "everything" -- again both a traditional insight in the form of Indra's Net, and echoed in current mathematical insights into fractal organization (David Mumford, et al., Indra's Pearls: the vision of Felix Klein, 2002). The question is whether integrative cognitive insight can be enhanced by aesthetics, as with the well-recognized elegance of the fractal organization of the Mandelbrot set, for example (Sustainability through the Dynamics of Strategic Dilemmas -- in the light of the coherence and visual form of the Mandelbrot set, 2005).

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

(Auguries of Innocence, William Blake)

Work in progress

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