-- / --
Indicative forms of radicalisation of existential focus
Metaphorical clues to radicalisation of existence and identity
Daimonisation as answering a radical question?
Clues to radicalisation from astrophysics and solar evolution
Clues to radicalisation from nature and the environment
Clues to radicalisation from matter and its organization
Radical implications of daimonisation for weather and climate change?
Waveforms, catastrophe, singularity and annihilation
Radicalisation in the light of mathematics (geometry, topology and logic)
Metaphysics, mysticism and meditation
Existence within daimonic reality?
Identity within daimonic reality?
This follows from previous exploration of the condition of "radical" as being increasingly considered highly problematic for society -- and the consequent demonisation of radical action (Radicalisation versus Demonisation? Enabling radical initiatives under conditions of strategic stalemate, 2015). That process follows from the black-or-white contrast distinguishing "radical" from "normal", as previously discussed (Norms in the Global Struggle against Extremism: "rooting for" normalization vs. "rooting out" extremism? 2005; Eradication as the Strategic Final Solution of the 21st Century? 2014).
With respect to demonisation, the argument concluded with indication of the subtler insights highlighted by various authors and traditions concerning the daimonic as reframing overly simplistic understandings of that contrast. Hence the consideration there of the possibility of "daimonisation", in contrast to "demonisation", as indicative of a means of fruitfully reframing "radicalisation".
That argument arose from concern that the sense of "radical", and of "radical action" of any kind, tended to focus almost exclusively on description and explanation from a "normal" conventional framework. This included studies purporting to offer insights into the "mind of a radical" -- and by extension to those framed as a "terrorist" from that perspective. By contrast the efforts by artists and poets -- as with W. B. Yeats (A Vision, 1925) -- offer a sense of the daimonic as being the part of an individual which exists beyond the confines of time and space. As such it might be understood as a form of "buried self", paradoxically and elusively related to the conscious life of the individual.
Of relevance are the arguments regarding pattern language of Christopher Alexander, thereby framing a "place to be" as characterized by "a quality without a name". The daimonic might then be understood as framing that place dynamically as "an experiential dynamic without a name" (Pattern of transformations as a dynamic quality without a name, 2012).
The current situation for many can be considered otherwise. In crisis situations characterized by social chaos and shortage of resources, any "buried self" may itself manifest otherwise. Beyond meaningful explanation, a particular form of existential focus becomes of primary significance. Women may be obliged to prostitute themselves, men to kill for food, and all ages may be obliged to steal or go hungry. In a very real sense there is then a process of radicalisation of existence in response to the increasing stresses and pressures of daily life.
The question here is whether comprehension can be taken further, most notably through metaphor, with respect to the radical-daimonic and the process of radicalisation-daimonisation. In so doing the assumption is made that patterns of thinking by certain disciplines, notably physics, offer a fruitful degree of discipline to exploration of any subtlety -- especially to the extent that they legitimate unconventional ways of understanding elusive processes and the unusual nature of their order.
The potential advantage of this approach is that it may circumvent the difficulties experienced by philosophy and the psychological disciplines in providing frameworks with which people can engage imaginatively in identifying the radical-daimonic within themselves. Such difficulties can be variously highlighted (Nicholas Rescher, The Strife of Systems: an essay on the grounds and implications of philosophical diversity, 1985; James Hillman and Michael Ventura, We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy: and the world's getting worse, 1993).
With respect to the use of metaphor, the provocative argument of Kenneth Boulding, is relevant:
Our consciousness of the unity of the self in the middle of a vast complexity of images or material structures is at least a suitable metaphor for the unity of a group, organization, department, discipline, or science. If personification is only a metaphor, let us not despise metaphors - we might be one ourselves. (Ecodynamics; a new theory of societal evolution, 1978)
The relevance of the aesthetic is emphasized by Gregory Bateson in addressing a conference on the effects of conscious purpose on human adaptation:
One reason why poetry is important for finding out about the world is because in poetry a set of relationships get mapped onto a level of diversity in us that we don't ordinarily have access to. We bring it out in poetry. We can give to each other in poetry the access to a set of relationships in the other person and in the world that we are not usually conscious of in ourselves. So we need poetry as knowledge about the world and about ourselves, because of this mapping from complexity to complexity. (Cited by Mary Catherine Bateson, Our Own Metaphor: a personal account of a conference on the effects of conscious purpose on human adaptation (1972, pp. 288-9)
As expressed by the poet John Keats: A man's life is a continual allegory -- and very few eyes can see the mystery of his life -- a life like the scriptures, figurative.
Beyond meaningful explanation, a particular form of existential focus can become of primary significance. With respect to the meanings attributed to "radical", this was the theme of the previous paper (Radicalisation versus Demonisation? Enabling radical initiatives under conditions of strategic stalemate, 2015) under the following headings:
Experiential focus: The concern here is the forms which this unusual existential focus may take and how it is enabled. As noted above, women may be obliged to prostitute themselves, men to kill for food, and all ages may be obliged to steal or go hungry. How is any radicalisation of existence to be understood in response to the increasing stresses of daily life?
Whether personally, or in the lives of others, usefully recognized is the experience of, or exposure to:
|Challenges to physical health and physique (physical trauma)||Challenges to psychological health (psychological trauma)|
|Property and legacy anxieties and pressures||Attitudinal and worldview commitments|
|Disciplines (focus and flow)||Stimulant dependency|
With these examples the question is what does the experience of "radicalisation" feel like to those with a "radical" worldview -- irrespective of the manner in which such experience may be defined and explained by others from a "normal" perspective (to others sharing that sense of normality)? What illusions are "stripped away" by the process? How is any feeling of intensity and focus to be comprehended -- however distorted and inappropriate this may be held to be from a normal perspective?
It is useful to note the dramatisation of this shift in perspective in many widely distributed movies. The plot typically traces how complacent normality is transformed into a radical commitment through some mobilizing incident -- thereby engendering behaviours progressively framed as heroic and/or irrational. Whether such radicalisation is temporary -- with reversion to normality resulting from successful revenge -- is typically unclear from such tales when they fade into implications of "living happily ever after".
Extraordinary versus Normal: Discussion of radicality is confused by the manner in which the "extraordinary" and the "exceptional" are typically highlighted in media presentations as an inspiration to the normal. The difficulty arises from the degree to which those so characterized are distinguished by their radical approach -- whether in their thinking or their innovation. Are they to be understood, paradoxically, as "exceptionally normal"?
If extraordinary initiative is enabled by radical thinking of some kind, this raises the question of how to distinguish the extraordinary from the radical -- if only from the statistical perspective defining normality (as discussed below). To what extent is the sense and modality of being exceptional, as with the specially gifted, to be conflated with that of being radical? The question is particularly relevant to the radicality of action which being extraordinary entails -- most obviously in the world of entrepreneurship (cf Fritz Redlich, The Business Leader as a 'Daimonic' Figure. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 1953)..
What is extraordinary or exceptional that does not imply radicality in some respect? With the recent declaration by the UK Home Secretary, how are the "extraordinary" and the "exceptional" to be distinguished from the "extreme", especially when extremism is deprecated without qualification in public discourse (Theresa May says UK will not tolerate extremists, BBC News, 23 March 2015)? How is an extremist to be distinguished by a government in power in a democratic society when that government is using legislation to empower it to frame those who disagree with its policies as extremists, radicals -- and therefore potential terrorists?
The issue can be framed differently if normal is assumed to be somehow associated with rational and predictable, with the extraordinary (and the radical) somehow conflated with the irrational and the uncertain. Government would like to believe that is is possible to depend on the former. The latter verges into the suspicious -- if not the extremely suspicious. It is to be assumed that the rise in invasive surveillance and predictive policing can exclude the former and endeavour to detect the latter. This assumption fails to recognize the extent to which irrationality is increasingly evident, most notably in the contradictions and doublespeak now characteristic of public discourse (Enabling Suffering through Doublespeak and Doublethink, 2013). It also fails to take account of the extent to which uncertainty is now characteristic of strategic initiatives (Living with Incomprehension and Uncertainty: re-cognizing the varieties of non-comprehension and misunderstanding, 2012).
These issues have been notably articulated by Charles Handy (The Age of Unreason, 1991; Beyond Certainty, 1995; The Age of Paradox, 1995). With such thinking, it is to be expected that efforts will be made to associate any strategic surprises with the action of radicals framed as terrorists, namely surprises characterized by Black Swan theory (Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable, 2007). Given this logic, it is curious that those radical investors most intimately associated with subprime mortgage crisis have not been identified as terrorists -- despite the degree to which they have endangered lives and livelihoods (Extreme Financial Risk-taking as Extremism: subject to anti-terrorism legislation?, 2009).
The seemingly deliberately suicidal action of the pilot of AirBus 320 -- resulting in the terrifying deaths of 150 people -- is somehow categorically disassociated from "terrorism" (by the German counterpart of Theresa May), despite emerging indications that the pilot may have recently converted to Islam (Germanwings Flight 9525 co-pilot deliberately crashed plane, officials say, CNN, 26 March 2015; The Evidence That the Germanwings Copilot Was Muslim Is Sketchy as Hell, Antiviral, 25 March 2015). Curiously those passengers had all passed through stringent security checks in case of any tendency to abnormality. The pilot -- behind an armoured door, designed to present subsequent terrorist action on their part -- proved to be the cause of the deaths, seemingly as a consequence of inadequate psychiatric health check procedures. One can only speculate regarding the adequacy of the procedures applied to those in government -- "piloting" a country from behind security barriers -- who claim normality and are upheld as defining normal. They too control processes capable of engendering fatality.
Such incidents are framed as inconceivable, inexplicable and singular -- from a normal perspective -- but with no apparent effort to imagine procedures for responding to them, as discussed separately (Engaging with the Inexplicable, the Incomprehensible and the Unexpected, 2010). What is required to engage meaningfully with unusual perspectives -- however radical? References to depression, as being a major factor in determining the pilot's radical action, serve to draw attention to the extent to which depression is an increasingly normal experience for many (Depression: 'Second biggest cause of disability' in world, BBC News, 6 November 2013; Mental health: A world of depression A global view of the burden caused by depression, Nature, 12 November 2014). Famed for his capacity to pilot Britain through World War II, Winston Churchill is also renowned for the depression from which he regularly suffered (Nassir Ghaemi, Winston Churchill and his 'black dog' of greatness, The Conversation, 23 January 2015). The lattern notes: But normal for Churchill was in a sense also rather abnormal.
Radical versus Normal: There is an easy assumption that radicalisation is necessarily evil in some way -- however evil is to be defined. For Julian Baggini, there is nevertheless a need to rethink how to tackle it (Radicalisation is not brainwashing, The Guardian, 13 July 2014): .
There is another sense in which the narrative of radicalisation is wrong. Not so long ago, many on the left would have been happy to describe their own political epiphanies as radicalisation. Che Guevara provided the template for this... Like religious conversions, these experiences are ones that transform a person's worldview, in such a way that it appears to provide a newfound moral clarity and certainty. We ought to be suspicious of all such experiences, but they are not confined to jihadis or usually assumed to be sure signs of evil. The truth is that what we currently call radicalisation is not some sinister manipulation, but a process by which people come to freely choose a dangerously and wickedly misguided path that they nonetheless perceive to be a virtuous calling. There is nothing psychologically unique about this. The road to inhuman terror starts with all-too-human error. Our best protection against it must therefore be nothing less than promoting good habits of thought, ones that alert us not only to the full facts but to our own psychological weaknesses.
This comment is valuable in highlighting the ease with which normal is automatically associated with "good", thereby framing radical as inherently "evil" -- and thus enabling an unthinking, knee-jerk response. It notes that the misguided -- namely the radical -- consider their own perspective to be "normal", thereby twistedly reframing evil as good. Missing from the argument is any sense that the the normal may be misguided in some way, and may come to be appropriately framed as evil -- at least in the eyes of history. The normality of the use of the torture in centuries past is an example. This omission could be considered as exemplifying Baggini's "psychological weaknesses".
Of considerable interest is the struggle of the normal -- as the primary beneficiaries of normality -- to reconcile their understanding with the abnormality of inequality of income, namely the income gaps separating them from the rich and the poor. The normal are obliged to subscribe to various forms of ambiguity (and twisted complicity) in cultivating the sense of their own goodness in relation to the evils of poverty and excessive wealth. The actions the normal undertake to reduce those gaps reinforce this sense of goodness. Any action by the impoverished to that end may be readily framed as questionably radical by the normal -- as with the radical action of the wealthy in protecting their abnormal privileges.
Of relevance is the common distinction of the capacity for "frankness" in discourse -- as with jargon reference to "let's cut the crap"? What is it that then gets "cut" from "normal" modalities of discourse? Is the discourse then to be understood as taking a radical direction through which it becomes possible to "see what the other is really like"? What is it that normally goes unsaid (Global Strategic Implications of the "Unsaid", 2003)?
Of further relevance are the differences in normality between disciplines, between religions and between cultures -- with all the problematic implications for interdisciplinary, interfaith and intercultural discourse. Is one to be understood as potentially more "radical" than another -- possibly with greater capacity for frankness? What then of the envisaged hypothetical encounter with extraterrestrials and their possible sense of normality and frankness?
The point is made in more concrete terms with respect to the very limited capacity for meaningful discourse with the "others" of global society: criminals, fundamentalists, alienated youth, or the elderly -- or those with different political views. Rather than "extraterrestrials", they could even be caricatured as terrestrial "extras" -- according to the terminology of dramatic spectacles.
Which disciplines, nations, religions or initiatives have (not) been instigated by those framed as radical by their context -- possibly even to be equated at the time with terrorists, traitors or heretics? Typically such labels are subsequently deprecated and reframed by those achieving power. Ironically this is the case with all permanent members of the UN Security Council -- and Israel. As argued by Erich Fromm: The successful revolutionary is a statesman, the unsuccessful one a criminal. The current context would require that "criminal" be replaced by "terrorist".
Catalytic role of metaphor: It is not to be assumed that it is possible or fruitful to assert definitively how any radical thinks or feels, but metaphor may be used to gain some insight -- potentially to be used as a cognitive surfboard (Metaphors as Transdisciplinary Vehicles of the Future, 1991; In Quest of Mnemonic Catalysts -- for comprehension of complex psychosocial dynamics, 2007).
To the extent that radicality is intimately related with existential experience of the daimonic, the art of indication as to its nature would seem to lie in careful indirection. The very nature of the daimonic would appear to preclude its enclosure in any definition of "what it is". Any such statement can be challenged by other assertions. This suggests that it is preferable to see it as requiring a form of "unsaying", as in the case for apophatic discourse (Michael A. Sells, Mystical Languages of Unsaying, 1994).
It seems that there are cognitive modalities whose nature is most succinctly indicated by the much-cited first line of the Chinese classic, the Tao Te Ching: The way that can be named is not the Way. This work is one of the most important in Chinese philosophy and religion, especially in Taoism, but also in Buddhism -- and the most translated publication after the Bible. Should the insight not be applicable to the framing of any viable global strategy?
It is curious to note the current hope and investment in the international fusion research project known by its initials ITER. Acclaimed as offering humanity access to the unlimited energy of the Sun, its viability depends on the ability to design a highly unconventional container for nuclear plasma. The properties of the latter are such that any contact between the plasma and the walls of the container denatures the plasma, destroying the container via which the energy is engendered. The challenge is reminiscent of the original alchemical quest for a container for alkahest -- a hypothetical universal solvent, having the power to dissolve every other substance.
The commitment to ITER suggests that there may be a cognitive analogue to be discovered. This could be a paradoxical container for the radically daimonic, transcending conventions of description. This would be a key to the increasingly mystical quest for sustainability, as separately imagined (Enactivating a Cognitive Fusion Reactor: Imaginal Transformation of Energy Resourcing (ITER-8), 2006). The experiential implications are appropriately emphasized by the vital function of "plasma" in its biological senses as blood plasma and cytoplasm.
In the promotion of ITER, the point is made that "iter" is the Latin for "the way". China is also a participant in ITER and that culture will undoubtedly help to frame the challenges of fusion in new ways (as clarified by Susantha Goonatilake, Toward a Global Science: mining civilizational knowledge, 1999). These and other such insights are of relevance to articulating the methodology of a possible cognitive ITER-8 (cf Hyperspace Clues to the Psychology of the Pattern that Connects in the light of 81 Tao Te Ching insights, 2003).
In the light of repeated global strategic failure, why is it so readily assumed, that the challenges of the times can be negotiated using a mode of discourse which may well be completely inappropriate to the complex subtlety of so-called wicked problems? To what extent might this be compared to the orderly arrangement -- with the greatest expertise -- of the deckchairs on RMS Titanic? The point can be argued otherwise (Vigorous Application of Derivative Thinking to Derivative Problems, 2013).Strategic solutions framed by "think tanks", as with current recommendations for eradication, typically result in the extensive use of tanks by the military. Is there the remotest possibility that such strategies -- characteristic of thinking "inside-the-box" -- are partially determined by the metaphors they embody, as discussed separately ("Tank-thoughts" from "Think-tanks": metaphors constraining development of global governance, 2003; Enhancing Sustainable Development Strategies through Avoidance of Military Metaphors, 1998).
Creativity and technomimicry: Given the significance variously associated with symbol, there is a case for exploring the conceptual articulations of the disciplines and the artefacts of technology as having a potential mirroring function as metaphor. Such conceptual constructs are increasingly used as such -- with borrowings from one framework assisting thinking in another. Technology can indeed be considered in this light (Robert Romanyshyn, Technology as Symptom and Dream, 1989; Erik Davis and Eugene Thacker, TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information, 2015; Susantha Goonatilake, Merged Evolution: long-term complications of biotechnology and information technology, 2013).
The argument for this approach can also be made in terms of biomimicry and technomimicry, with each offering a complex of patterns in support of imaginative reflection, as argued separately (Engendering a Psychopter through Biomimicry and Technomimicry: insights from the process of helicopter development, 2011; Reimagining Tesla's Creativity through Technomimicry: psychosocial empowerment by imagining charged conditions otherwise, 2014).
The point to be emphasized is the need to recognize that much creative thinking, if not the most radically imaginative, has been invested in patterns understood as objective externalities The argument with respect to the relevance of metaphor to creativity has been developed by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander (Surfaces and Essences: analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking, 2013), as a further development of Hofstadter's earlier work (Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies, 1995).
These externalities, understood as "surfaces", may well reflect humanity's somewhat mistakenly displaced effort to give form to "essences". These are patterns intuited internally and subjectively, as variously suggested by reference to mirroring of inner reality by any sense of outer reality (Robert Romanyshyn, Mirror and Metaphor: images and stories of psychological life, 2001; Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space: metaphor as myth and as religion, 1986).
Comprehending the daimonic paradox: The question here is the radical imaginative engagement with such resources in relation to subtler comprehension of the process of radicalisation of existence and identity. Consideration of the nature of the daimonic also points to a paradoxical understanding of the dynamic relation between the extremes of dualities such as subjective and objective, as separately explored (¡¿ Defining the objective 8 Refining the subjective ?! Explaining reality 8 Embodying realization, 2011).
Assertions, necessarily questionable with regard to "what is" the daimonic, include:
Some of these pointers are consistent with the arguments of Mark Johnson (The Meaning of the Body: aesthetics of human understanding, 2007). Appropriately inspired by R. D. Laing, one exemplar of the skillful art of "not saying" -- encompassing the reality of terrorism -- offers vital pointers in a review (Brent Potter, In Defense of the Daimonic, The New Existentialists, 7 January 2013):
Pattern language of radicalisation and daimonisation? As with paradoxes in other domains, are there patterns which can carry understanding of the transcendence of duality -- which are of relevance to radicalisation of identity? Is there then a "pattern language" to be recognized in relation to progressive daimonisation? Given the conventional generic understanding of a pattern in systemic terms, it is itself indicative of potentially more radical interpretations -- with greater cognitive implications (5-fold Pattern Language, 1984).
Potentially of great significance in this respect is the exploration of higher orders of cybernetics -- beyond the first order cybernetics and second order cybernetics which are more readily recognized (Maurice Yolles and Gerhard Fink, A General Theory of Generic Modelling and Paradigm Shifts: cybernetic orders. Kybernetes, 2015). Is the higher the order, with its increasing self-reflexivity, indicative of an understanding of radicalisation -- both of existence and identity?
Specialization as radicalisation? Another approach to radicalisation is through processes of exclusion of the superfluous and irrelevant. If higher degrees of relevance are a key to a fruitful sense of radical, this could be seen as characteristic of any institutional consideration and uptake of information in pursuit of its specialization.
Is specialization within a global framework then to be recognized as a form of radicalisation? This can be explored in terms of responses to the classic WH-questions through which the relevance of new information is determined:
Such constraints on uptake of information are evident in current responses to email overload, namely the radical degree of selectivity which is required for survival in an information rich society. Curiously they are also evident in strategic preoccupation with "eradication" of radicals. Any such strategy progressively results in radicalisation, as has been evident in the extra-judicial "gloves-off" response by the US to 9/11.
Radicality as normality? The earlier examples endeavoured to indicate cases in which the experience gave focus to a radical reframing of context and identity previously considered normal -- and still so considered by others. There is however the curious situation indicated by the previous point in which information selectivity gives rise to a new sense of normality, one in which any other senses of normality are deprecated as irrelevant, if not radically misguided.
In a global context in which it is claimed that "everything is connected to everything", the integrity of perspective achieved by such radical selectivity could be understood as being in fundamental contrast to other understandings of global integration. This is most obvious in the case of religious fundamentalism -- based on a norm for those subscribing to that of any given faith.
In the world of fashion this transformation is encapsulated by the slogan: Green is the New Black (Green Is the New Black: fashion industry aims to increase sustainable practices, Forbes, 17 November 2014). Clearly, with respect to the strategic policy of the US, torture, targetted assassination and invasive surveillance are the new normality -- however these may appear to be from other perspectives, or in the eyes of the past.
Cyclic radicalisation and eradication? The alternation between radicality sensed positively as creativity, or framed negatively as characteristically demonic was depicted previously (Radicalisation versus Demonisation? Enabling radical initiatives under conditions of strategic stalemate, 2015). A variant might reframe that in terms of alternation between "superhuman transcendence" and "subhuman bestiality".
|Animation of alternation between radicality sensed positively as creativity,
or framed negatively as characteristically demonic
This is a complementary animation to that which follows.
|Indicative animation of a cycle of radicalisation and eradication?|
The alternation possibilities for the design of the above animation merit reflection as a means of enriching the argument. Possibilities include:
The animation could possibly be enriched such as to enable reflection on the fate of any form of civilization, assuming itself to be eternal but characterized by systemic negligence -- as separately discussed (Flowering of Civilization -- Deflowering of Culture: flow as a necessarily complex experiential dynamic, 2014)
When does an aphasic pattern dynamic render unsustainable the relationship between normality and radicality in a complex context, as partially explored separately (Eliciting a Universe of Meaning -- within a global information society of fragmenting knowledge and relationships, 2013).
Beyond preoccupation with global consensus Much of the strategic struggle at this time is in quest of an elusive global consensus. This focus may be usefully explored as a delusion (The Consensus Delusion: mysterious attractor undermining global civilization as currently imagined, 2011). As with viable nuclear fusion, the issue could instead be understood as a design challenge. Rather than the quest for a form of cognitive fusion through "agreement", it could be reframed as a challenge of configuring disagreement (Using Disagreements for Superordinate Frame Configuration, 1992).
The animation above is suggestive in that respect. Rather than seeking consistency of resolution to answers to the set of seven WH-questions, it is useful to consider how these recall the configuration of magnets fundamental to the design of the nuclear fusion reactor. The magnets are configured such as to ensure that the plasma does not come in contact with the walls of the container. They force the plasma to the centre and away from the containing walls. Each effectively opposes any excess in the force of the others which would have resulted in such contact. The question is what is the cognitive equivalent required to give appropriate focus to global action?
As a cognitive design issue, the question of the appropriate number of such "magnetic forces" is intriguing. In a period of information overload, a useful lead is offered by the much cited argument of George A. Miller (The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: some limits on our capacity for processing information, Psychological Review, 1956). If the number of "cognitive magnets" required for an appropriate design is 7 plus or minus 2, this calls attention to the organizing role of the fivefold through to the ninefold as variously advocated. In a spirit of self-reflexivity, potentially consistent with higher orders of cybernetics, these could be provocatively configured as follows for further consideration.
|Indicative cognitive configuration for attentive control
of the daimonic snake
So framed, this suggests that the animation above is best understood as a view along the axis of the torus around which the nuclear plasma flows in the fusion reactor. The animation then suggests the operation of the cognitive magnets in ensuring that the flow of attention is not denatured by conventional verbal description. This understanding could be enhanced by the indicated improvements to the animation. Of interest is the quality of the thinking associated with the design of the ITER magnet system, and the cognitive implications of its complexity (see: Building the ITER Magnets, 2013; The ITER Magnets: Design and Construction Status, 2012). Why is it so readily assumed that the cognitive challenge of global governance is far less of a challenge and of far greater simplicity?
Of considerable significance is why the implementation of a viable reactor has taken so long -- and continues to be challenged. It is to be expected that any cognitive analogue would be subject to analogous difficulties -- as exemplified in various spiritual disciplines with regard to the appropriate control of attention. There is a delightful irony to the fact that the dynamics of controlling the plasma within the torus is often compared to the challenge of controlling a wriggling snake (Kathy Kincade, Taming Plasma Fusion Snakes: supercomputer simulations move fusion energy closer to reality, NERSC, 24 January 2014; L. Delgado-Aparicio, Formation and stability of impurity "snakes" in tokamak plasmas, Physical Review Letters,110, 2012, 065006). This offers a daimonic association, readily extended to the symbolism of the Ourobouros -- and to the coniunctio as the goal of the psychoanalytical process. The design of ITER is suggestive of a way of working with extreme radicality.
The self-reflexivity of the image above usefully holds the mutually challenging relationship between advocates of cognitive organization variously favouring 5-foldness through 9-foldness, each in preference to the other. The key would seem to be that it is neither one modality nor another but the dynamic nature of their complementarity -- an uncontained cognitive modality with which the daimonic can be understood as associated.. As indicated by the image, these include:
Do such arguments suggests that the way "around" the current strategic stalemate -- a "cognitive ground zero" -- has geometric implications (Way Round Cognitive Ground Zero and Pointlessness? Embodying the geometry of fundamental cognitive dynamics, 2012)?
|Tokamak schematic fundamental to the design of ITER
by Abteilung Öffentlichkeitsarbeit - Max-Planck Institut für Plasmaphysik. Reproduced from Wikimedia Commons
Tokamak magnetic fields within ITER
The design configuration of ITER suggests an intriguing exercise in technomimicry. The set of magnets recognized as necessary to control the radical nature of plasma are of various kinds: 18 Toroidal Field (TF) Coils, a 6-module Central Solenoid (CS), 6 Poloidal Field (PF) Coils, 9 pairs of Correction Coils (CCs). As a set of distinct patterns these could be compared with sets of patterns that have emerged in the design of spiritual disciplines for channelling attention, most notably Tibetan Buddhism (Examples of Integrated, Multi-set Concept Schemes, 1984). Is there any sense in which one set can be fruitfully mapped onto the other -- potentially to detect missing factors?
There is every reason to suspect that centuries of consideration of the universe can be fruitfully understood as offering templates for understanding identity and its radicalisation. Implications of the universe have of course been extensively used through the zodiac and horoscope. Other considerations have been elaborated by psychoanalysis (Thomas Moore, The Planets Within: the astrological psychology of Marsilio Ficino, 1990), as separately discussed (Composing the Present Moment celebrating the insights of Marsilio Ficino interpreted by Thomas Moore, 2001).
The question is whether the deprecation of these interpretations in favour of those of astrophysics is indicative of recognition of a more powerful language -- yet to be interpreted in terms of its subjective significance and the forms of identification it offers. Of related interest is the extent to which the universe of astrophysics can be interpreted as a fruitful guide to the organization of knowledge -- especially given the manner in which it is possible to identify with knowledge.
Some possibilities have been considered separately (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). The latter considered the Physical universe as a mnemonic device -- a "memory palace" (2006).
In the light of traditional understandings, together with more recent interpretations by psychoanalysis, the role of any "sun" in relation to a "solar system" (and its dependent "planets") offers further clues (Psychosocial Implication of Without Within: enjoying going solar for oneself, 2013). This included sections on:
Significant with respect to any astrophysical metaphors is the question of "what it feels like to be a star" -- an experience characteristic of many celebrities acclaimed as "stars". For those to whom others relate as do planets orbiting around a sun, the experience of being at the centre of a "solar system" is common to many leadership roles, whether in religions, in corporations, or in scientific disciplines. This experience naturally changes over time, from aspiration to such a role to that of the collapse of the recognition accorded to it, as separately considered (Metaphors To Die By: correspondences between a collapsing civilization, culture or group, and a dying person, 2013).
Hertzsprung-Russell diagram: Rather than the more general possibilities of technomimicry, of particular relevance to this argument are cognitive templates suggestive of new ways of thinking about radicalisation of identity and any sense of subjective existence in relation to externality. For example, the Sun can be understood as a focus for identity, with understanding of its evolution offering a way of thinking about radicalisation -- consistent with Hofstadter's subtitle "fuel and fire of thinking".
Of value in this respect is the thinking regarding stellar evolution, as discussed separately with respect to the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram (Psychosocial Implications of Stellar Evolution? Reframing life's cycles through the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, 2013).
|Identity-Radicalisation potentially suggested by the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram
(images reproduced from Wikipedia)
Individuals are thereby suggestively understood as stars evolving over time in an immense psychosocial universe. Use of "star" is of course a common feature of description of celebrities in many domains -- with reference in some cases to their "brilliance" (if not their "luminosity"), and to the manner of their "shining" or their charismatic "glow" . The pattern of the H-R diagram suggests that this understanding can be taken further.
Given the widespread use of "HR" as an abbreviation for preoccupation with Human Resources and their development within many institutions, there is a delightful irony to use of that abbreviation with respect to the HR diagram above. Could the various stages of a professional career be instructively caricatured by stages of stellar evolution along the main sequence? Could radicalisation be better understood through such a mapping?
Communication distance: Of further interest is the consequence of distance between stars of the psychosocial universe. This results in great difference to their apparent brightness, depending on proximity. Clearly those experienced as brilliant within one domain may be barely visible (if at all) from another. The sense of distance is of course fundamental to the possibilities of communication across that universe -- and any meaning associated with it, especially in the desperate quest for universal consensus (The Consensus Delusion Mysterious attractor undermining global civilization as currently imagined, 2011; Eliciting a Universe of Meaning: within a global information society of fragmenting knowledge and relationships, 2013).
Redshift? As a generative metaphor, understanding of the cosmos offers further suggestive insight through the redshift. This occurs with the increase in the distance of a light source from an observer -- potentially to be extended to a source of insight in the psychosocial universe. The observed cosmological redshift is understood to be due to the expansion of the universe, with sufficiently distant sources of light showing a redshift corresponding to the rate of increase in their distance from the point of observation (on Earth). Conversely, a decrease in wavelength is called a blueshift and is generally seen when a light-emitting object moves toward an observer.
Is the process of redshift to be usefully compared to that of radicalisation -- especially given the common association of red with the socialist extremes? This could be considered helpfully consistent with recognition of the increasing inequality gap in the psychosocial universe (Enactivating Multiversal Community: hearing a pattern of voices in the global wilderness, 2012). Reduction of that sensitivity to distance voices in the universe could be understood as associated with increasing approximation to the norms favoured by conservatism ("normalisation") -- and their common association with blue.
Expansion of the universe? Ongoing speculative debate by cosmologists regarding the shape of the universe, and on questions relating to the accelerating expansion of the universe from a hypothesized moment of creation, can usefully inform reflection on the nature of identity within such a context. This can extend to consideration of the "shape" of the experiential "universe" (or multiverse) of any individual and the nature of possible imaginative identification with it (Being the Universe : a Metaphoric Frontier, 1999; Being a Poem in the Making: engendering a multiverse through musing, 2012).
There is of course a strange irony to use of the term "Big Bang" as descriptor of the moment of universal creation when "banging" is a common slang expression for the sexual intercourse through which individual identities may be engendered.
Collapse? Of corresponding interest is the Big Crunch, as one possible scenario explored by physical cosmology for the ultimate fate of the universe -- namely as the reversal of the metric expansion of space. Other end times scenarios include the heat death of the universe (or Big Freeze), the Big Rip, the Big Bounce, and a multiverse of eternal inflation. As systemic patterns, these variously echo speculation regarding individual human death, or that of cultures and civilizations. They therefore serve as indicative metaphors of dying, as discussed separately (Metaphors To Die By: correspondences between a collapsing civilization, culture or group, and a dying person, 2013). The insight may be enriched in terms of connectivity in information-knowledge terms. Radicalisation may then be understood as convergence-collapse into some form of cognitive singularity -- even a "deflowering" (Flowering of Civilization -- Deflowering of Culture: flow as a necessarily complex experiential dynamic, 2014).
Stellar variations: How might the present metaphorical use of astrophysical terms be further extended to enrich understanding of the psychosocial universe -- comet, planet, moon, orbiting, etc? What might be fruitfully implied by the wider range of objects, especially the stellar varieties: protostars, low-mass stars (red dwarfs, white dwarfs), mid-sized stars (red giants), massive stars (supernova), and stellar remnants (white and black dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes), as tentatively considered (Dynamics and Singularities in the Knowledge Universe, 2006)?
How fruitfully do these variants correspond to the development of individual creativity, especially in the perception of the rise and fall of celebrities? Given the importance attached to the celebrity "A-list", should more systemic lists be developed to reflect celebrity "brilliance" -- as is done with the Utmer Scale for actors, for example? Clearly analogues exist in the case of academics (citation list rankings, and impact indicators), speakers, and the like.
Of greater relevance to this argument however is the manner in which any "rise and fall" is experienced by the individual. What does understanding of the evolution of energy processes and gravity within such stellar objects imply for cognitive processes and the nature of any final collapse? Understood in terms of information and attention, this is especially telling in the case of individual creativity and recognition of "brilliance" by others through the attention attracted -- or its loss as an individual "falls" into relative invisibility in the psychosocial universe, being no longer the star of the past, and becoming a "shadow of a former self".
Whether the previous set of metaphors should be considered as "astromimicry" or technomimicry, better recognized from a variety of perspectives is biomimicry. In various traditions there is recognition of how nature offers patterns which can be variously emulated, most notably in totemic cultures (with their modern echoes in use of team mascots). The possibility has been given new emphasis through biomimicry, although this is primarily understood as adaptation of natural processes as an inspiration for new technologies.
Given the many challenges of humanity's relationship to the environment, the possibility that its patterns could be used to a greater degree in support of cognitive processes merits careful consideration. Some such approach is central to the consideration of various authors (Henryk Skolimowski, The Participatory Mind: a new theory of knowledge and of the universe, 1994; David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous: perception and language in a more-than-human world, 1996), as discussed separately (Psychology of Sustainability: embodying cyclic environmental processes, 2002) in the following sections:
|The 'pattern that connects'
Elusiveness of sustainability
Contemporary ironies of sustainability
Sustainability and spin
Openness and closure
Sustainability of collective initiatives -- and the dependence on spin
Spinning an alternative
Transiting between realities
|Transiting amongst a set of complementary alternatives
Reality, relativity and relativism
Cycles sustaining reality frameworks
Behavioural attractors and sustainable development
Breaking dysfunctional cycles
Breaking dysfunctional spirals: sustainability and the torus
Conscientific research and development
As noted in the references below, a number of studies have recently been prepared with respect to the psychology of sustainability. Many indigenous cultures attach extreme significance to the cognitive bonding and mirroring implied by features of the environment, as notably documented by Darrell A. Posey (Cultural and Spiritual Values of Biodiversity: a complementary contribution to Global Biodiversity Assessment, 1999)..
Whilst the general implications are of great potential relevance at this time, it is the more specific issue of what environmental features and processes could offer with respect to transformative radicalisation. One possibility, for example, is the reorganization of the caterpillar in its transition through to a butterfly. The final phase as a butterfly has of course attracted the reflection of philosophers and poets (Kuang-Ming Wu, The Butterfly as Companion: meditations on the first three chapters of the Chuang Tzu, 1990). The metaphor derives from his much-cited dream:
Once upon a time, Zhuang Zhou dreamed he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting about happily enjoying himself. He did not know that he was Zhou. Suddenly he awoke, and was palpably Zhou. He did not know whether he was Zhou, who had dreamed of being a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming that he was Zhou. Now, there must be a difference between Zhou and the butterfly. This is called the transformation of things.
The morphogenesis of a butterfly has been variously employed as a fruitful metaphor (John Elkington, The Chrysalis Economy, 2001), as separately discussed (Enabling morphogenesis and transformation through catastrophic questioning, 2013). Related considerations of relevance to this argument are explored by Scott Cook (Hiding the World in the World: uneven discourses on the Zhuangzi, 2003).
Vortices: A valuable example is provided by the insights emerging from the functioning of vortices in nature resulting from the work and applications of Viktor Schauberger as discussed separately (Enabling Governance through the Dynamics of Nature: exemplified by cognitive implication of vortices and helicoidal flow, 2010). His principal argument was that humanity could benefit considerably by learning from nature -- specifically the dynamics of water -- rather than trying to correct it. His motto was Comprehend and Copy Nature -- thereby relating experience to a much wider and more exciting worldview. A vortex, as with a tornado, a hurricane or a whirlpool, offers an especially dramatic understanding of radicalisation and focus. These are variously used as metaphors, whether for individual or group psychodynamics.
Phases of matter: The interrelationship between the phases of matter (solid, liquid, gas, ionization) are conventionally represented on a phase diagram. This is variously suggestive of understandings of radical transformation. One such adaptation with respect to the connectivity of an argument is explored separately (Phase diagram of degrees of argument connectivity, 2014). The associated image is reproduced below.
The conventionally deplored attraction of a radical perspective can be fruitfully compared with the processes of a vortex -- especially the sense of being "sucked in". Of course there is the curious sense in which the strategic quest for universal consensus can be compared to the processes of a strange attractor (The Consensus Delusion: mysterious attractor undermining global civilization as currently imagined, 2011)
Of relevance is whether the boundary positions and critical point offer understandings of existential radicalisation in the light of thermodynamics. The possibility becomes of interest to the extent that an individual identifies with solid, liquid or other phases -- being "solid", being "fluid", being "fiery", etc -- and any transition between such phases under different conditions of "heat" and "pressure", themselves metaphorically understood (as is common). It is noteworthy that those terms are commonly used to characterize individuals and groups variously qualified as "being solid", or "being fluid" -- even in the world of finance.
|Simplified phase diagram interrelating states of matter of different degrees of bonding/connectivity
-- suggestive of contrasting connectivity in (internal) argumentation
Definition: As a metaphor the phase diagram can be explored with respect to definition as typically associated with words and signs. Definition could be considered as a form of solidification of meaning thereby "set in stone", fruitfully clarified in terms of "enstoning" (Fivefold Clustering of Ways of Being Stoned: imagination, promise, rocks, memorials, petrification, 2012). However in practice, dictionaries tend to offer a variety of interpretations of usage suggesting a degree of fluidity of meaning. The issue is further complicated by the ready assumption that "snow" is uniquely defined by that term, despite alternative terms in other languages ("neige"), and when other cultures may make multiple distinctions, as is often cited. More challenging is increasing recognition that some cultures may have terms for phenomena "without a name" in English, so readily assumed to be the normative language (Howard Rheingold, They Have a Word for It: a lighthearted lexicon of untranslatable words and phrases, 2000; Guy Deutscher, Through the Language Glass: why the world looks different in other languages, 2011).
Another excellent example, noted by Colin Cherry (On Human Communication, 1966) is that whilst there is no difficulty in translating the colour "red" into and from Russian, the associations in the two languages are very different. In English: blood red, red in tooth and claw, red with anger, red light district, etc. In Russian the translation of "red" is synonymous with "beautiful" and has associations equivalent to the English "golden" -- hence "Red Square" and the "Red Army" should be meaningfully translated as the "Golden Square" and the "Golden Army". Similarly, in Chinese, "red" is primarily associated with "joy", "prosperity", "luck", and "happiness". To what extent have the positive associations of the colour in the two cultures influenced the marked success of socialism there, compared to that in Anglo-Saxon culture, where it has more negative association?
The fluidity may be taken further to the extent that discourse and movements of opinion, aided and abetted by the media, may reframe meaning in the moment -- such as to be only remotely associated with any formal definition (itself to be effectively framed as quaint). Every acclaimed "fact" presented by media with one bias may well be totally denied in presentations by other media with a contrasting bias, as separately highlighted (Vital Collective Learning from Biased Media Coverage: acquiring vigilance to deceptive strategies used in mugging the world, 2014). Such learning may well be characterized as radicalisation.
New significance may also be attributed through creativity. Furthermore, difficulties are created when it is assumed that so-called "facts" are eternally unchanging, as explored by Samuel Arbesman (The Half-Life of Facts: why everything we know has an expiration date, 2012). This potentially poses a problem for the new approach to page ranking by Google, purportedly to be based on the factual content of documents as assessed in terms of a Google database. A GoogleTruth to be compared with Catholic policy of the past in relation to imprimatur?
Periodic table of chemical elements: Atoms are especially useful as a source of metaphor, given that the sense of radical is closely associated in that case with any degree of ionisation -- namely loss of external electron shells and the consequent implications for bonding and connectivity. A higher degree of radicalisation is then usefully represented by greater loss of shells. The use of radical in that context offers a well-developed language that can be mined for fruitful metaphors of psychosocial radicalisation.
The metaphoric possibilities can be further explored through the organization of atoms into a periodic table -- effectively in terms of their potential for radicalisation (Periodic Pattern of Human Life: the Periodic Table as a metaphor of lifelong learning, 2009; Towards a Periodic Table of Ways of Knowing: in the light of metaphors of mathematics, 2009; Periodic Pattern of Human Knowing implication of the Periodic Table as metaphor of elementary order, 2009)
Such metaphor offers a means of fruitfully reframing the questionable tendency to consider individuals as atoms -- especially en masse, and in relation to the "chemistry" between them. Understanding of nested electron shells offers a useful language through which to explore levels of cognitive reality and engagement. The distinction of radioactive isotopes, enabled by the periodic table, is also potentially useful. Potentially indicative are attempts to give personal significance to the periodic table (Primo Levi, The Periodic Table, 1975; Bunpei Yorifuji, Wonderful Life with the Elements: the periodic table personified, 2012).
|Slogan of the King Canute of the 21st Century?|
|Ban Free Radicals !!|
Sun and Earth: The argument above suggests the possibility of imagining a manner of engaging cognitively with weather that is reminiscent of anecdotal tales of that engagement in the case of some shamans.
|Classic Zen tale illustrative of the challenge
of engaging with the environment
through oneself -- in order to remedy imbalance
|A rainmaker is invited to come to a rural village, to bring rain -- for the village is experiencing drought. The rainmaker requests a cottage far from the village, and asks not to be disturbed. Three days later, rain and snow fall on the village. The rainmaker explains that he did not bring the rain. As he had felt immediately infected by the imbalance of the village people upon arrival, he took refuge to balance himself -- naturally balancing the outside world through that process -- and it rained.|
Recognizing that the radical daimonic processes "within" an individual may be systemically equivalent to processes within the Sun, suggests the possibility that normality may be appropriately associated with the realities of Earth -- whether solid, liquid, or otherwise.
So framed, normality is lit -- if not enlightened -- by continuing exposure to the radical nature of daimonic reality, and is thereby warmed. Imaginatively centering awareness within a solar framework raises questions as to potential correspondences with solar dynamics. Given the degree of knowledge acquired by science concerning such processes, can they be used as metaphorical templates for understanding how heat and light impact on earthly reality? And what of the implications of solar wind -- a rarefied flow of hot plasma of free electrons and positive ions (see discussion in Wikipedia of Interaction of the solar wind with Earth)? The aesthetic delights of the aurora borealis -- triggered by that solar wind -- are highly suggestive of the experience of exposure to inspiration under the extreme polar conditions of grounded planetary reality.
Weather: Framed in this way, there is then a case for understanding the phenomena of the "weather" -- which an individual (or group) experiences -- in terms of the interplay between planetary reality and daimonic reality. The heating effect of daimonic reality -- or its relative reduction -- is fundamental to the variety of such processes. These most notably include the circulation of wind and ocean currents around the planet -- and phenomena such as hurricanes and tornados. The issue of what can be understood as "circulating". in the light of such patterns, is discussed separately (Circulation of the Light: essential metaphor of global sustainability? 2010). It is noteworthy the extent to which "heat" is used as a credible metaphor descriptive of experience in psychosocial processes -- especially politics and economics.
Climate change: These considerations suggest that the argument is potentially of relevance to understanding of "global warming" and "climate change". Irrespective of arguments with respect to temperature as physically measured, there is a case for exploring how the interplay between a physical perspective and a daimonic perspective may currently be leading to a form of "global warming" yet to be understood -- perhaps heralded by use of the phrase "winds of change". The focus on temperature as normally understood may well be obscuring its more fundamental psychosocial implications. How indeed might daimonic reality be contributing to global warming -- as a consequence of cognitive emissions from a physical perspective, entrapping heat in a manner may well endanger life? The so-called greenhouse effect may then have quite other implications of a more fundamental cognitive nature.
Sustainability: The perspective of daimonic reality can be fruitfully associated with exploration of the doughnut metaphor of Oxfam, as discussed separately (Exploring the Hidden Mysteries of Oxfam's Doughnut: recognizing the systemic negligence of an Earth Summit, 2012). There it was argued that, given the articulations of a strategic third way, the eye metaphor can be extended to imply the need for strategic vision through a "third eye" of governance -- one which is inherently dynamic, rather than static (cf Third Perspective, 1983). Any such third way is necessarily only viable when it embodies a dynamic rather than seeking a structural compromise between opposing perspectives in static terms.
In the spirit of seeking memorable representations of such a dynamic, a potentially significant association can be offered to the capacity of Egyptian mythology to provide a basis for what may be considered an exemplar of sustainability -- acknowledging the mnemonic value of mythology (Relevance of Mythopoeic Insights to Global Challenges, 2009).
Using a depiction of Hathor, a mythological complement to Horus, the following animation then suggests a provocative representation of the requisite dynamic -- the "twinkle" -- in the strategic third eye of sustainability. The Oxfam doughnut has been incorporated there as part of the "twinkle cycle", previously presented and discussed in simpler form (Embodiment of Identity in Conscious Creativity: challenge of encompassing "con", 2011). The subtitle of that document emphasizes the necessary cognitive vigilance to transcend the confidence games so typical of conventional approaches to strategic governance. That document included as section on Conscious creativity sustaining confidelity: a solar metaphor which notably discussed nuclear fusion as a metaphor of cognitive fusion. Depiction of the fusion cycle within the Sun forms part of the animation which follows there.
|Animation using Hathor as suggestive vehicle for transcendent daimonic insight?|
Normality: Imaginative association of daimonic awareness with the Sun, and that of normal understanding with the Earth, offers further possibilities through the manner in which "normal" is associated through geometry with the perceived position of the Sun with respect to the Earth. Normal is then readily associated with the position of the Sun at midday, with the positions at dawn and dusk tending to be understood as extremes. This suggests that "normal" may be variously interpreted, especially when the Sun appears to disappear at night -- only to be visible elsewhere in a process further complicated by the seasons (potentially creating situations at the poles of permanent day or permanent night -- for a lengthy period).
Understood in this way, daimonic awareness may be variously manifest -- consistent with the agonies of the creative when their muse is absent for any length of time. Also suggestive is the manner in which the Sun may only be present by the reflected light of the Moon. Does the latter offer a way of thinking about the experience of any Other?
Despite the radical nature of the insights offered by physics as being essential to an appropriate understanding of matter, little effort has been made to derive implications for psychosocial organization and its radicalisation. Physics has invested heavily in framing the organization of matter in terms of electromagnetic waves -- with the further implication that information itself should be considered in such terms within a more general framework.
From such a perspective it can be variously argued that individual identity can be fruitfully considered in such terms (Being a Waveform of Potential as an Experiential Choice: emergent dynamic qualities of identity and integrity, 2013; Encountering Otherness as a Waveform -- in the light of a wave theory of being, 2013; Emergence of Homo undulans -- through a "grokking" dynamic?, 2013; Being Neither a-Waving Nor a-Parting: cognitive implications of wave-particle duality in the light of science and spirituality, 2013). This can of course itself be framed as a radical perspective in contrast with normal understanding of individual skin-bound existence and identity.
Beable through theory? Of notable relevance to the argument here is the potentially meaningful expression "beable" -- to the extent that it might have implied the capacity of a theory to be "donned" by an experiencer as a framing "cognitive cloak", namely as a means of being "through the theory", of "being informed" by the theory -- perhaps embodied as a "cognitive exoskeleton". This is not however how it is used by physics (Adrian Kent, Beable-Guided Quantum Theories: generalising quantum probability law, 2012; Guido Bacciagaluppi, Collapse Theories as Beable Theories, 2010; S.M. Roy and Virendra Singh, Generalized Beable Quantum Field Theory, ScienceDirect, 1990).
According to discussion in Wikipedia, the word "beable" was introduced by the physicist John Stewart Bell in his article entitled "The theory of local beables" (see Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics, 1988, pp. 52). A beable of a physical theory is an object that, according to that theory, is supposed to correspond to an element of physical reality. The word "beable" (be-able) contrasts with the word "observable". While the value of an observable can be produced by a complex interaction of a physical system with a given experimental apparatus (and not be associated to any "intrinsic property" of the physical system), a beable exists objectively, independently of observation.
Bell remained interested in objective "observer-free" quantum mechanics. He felt that at the most fundamental level, physical theories ought not to be concerned with observables, but with "be-ables": The beables of the theory are those elements which might correspond to elements of reality, to things which exist. Their existence does not depend on "observation". He remained impressed with Bohm's hidden variables as an example of such a scheme and he attacked the more subjective alternatives such as the Copenhagen Interpretation.
There is indeed a need for "beable theory" through which individuals can engage meaningfully with experiential reality. However this is seemingly not a concern of physicists preoccupied solely with "observables", irrespective of however incomprehensible their explanations may be to those faced with the complex subtleties of their personal experience (Dynamics of Symmetry Group Theorizing: comprehension of psycho-social implication, 2008). Relevant to this point is the experiential argument, as a physicist, of Douglas Hofstadter (I Am a Strange Loop, 2007) -- and the collective challenge it implies (Sustaining a Community of Strange Loops: comprehension and engagement through aesthetic ring transformation, 2010).
Wave function collapse: As argued there, the future may consider it extraordinary that the most extensive references to "death" by physicists, in relation to the wave-related insights of quantum mechanics, concern those of the paradoxical thought experiment regarding Schrödinger's cat. Curiously quantum physicists do not seem to be able to reconcile their own death with that of the theory most central to their professional concerns. The thought experiment is focused on experimental observation relating to the probability of the death of a cat shut in a box with a radioactive substance that has only a probability of killing it (if the substance decays).
Provocatively it could be argued that fundamental physics does not "do" death -- other than through complicity in its application to ensure the death of others. For physicists, death is a meaningless "nonsense", despite extensive interest in the significance of "nothing" (Lawrence Krauss, A Universe from Nothing: why there is something rather than nothing, 2011; John D. Barrow, The Book of Nothing: vacuums, voids, and the latest ideas about the origins of the universe, 2002) -- as discussed separately (Emerging Significance of Nothing, 2012). Credibility is now given, however, to the manner in which the universe might reconstitute itself after any final cosmic collapse to nothing.
It could be provocatively argued that the experiment, as a metaphor, offers an extremely valuable insight into the "metaphysical" experience of such physicists -- effectively "locked into" a conceptual framework precluding reference to personal experience (other than "observation"). The experiment can be fruitfully reframed by replacing the cat by a physicist -- "Schrödinger's physicist" (?) -- and eliminating the need for an "external" observer (or considering the cat to be a significant observer). This could be understood as more realistic in that there is a degree of probability to the death of any physicist at any time. The sophistication brought to reflection on this probability by physicists is many orders of magnitude less than that devoted to speculation regarding the cat. The situation is experientially tragic when the death is preceded by progressive mental decay into senility.
In "wave language", death could indeed be readily compared to "wave function collapse" or "reduction of wave packet" -- and presumably this framing figures in private reflections of physicists faced with the certainty of mortality. The phrase can also be usefully applied to reframe other forms of collapse, whether the collapse of an interpersonal relationship, the collapse of civilization, or that of the human species. That of civilizations is evident in the study of macrohistorical cycles (Johan Galtung and Sohail Inayatullah, Macrohistory and Macrohistorians: perspectives on individual, social, and civilizational change, 1997).
Individual radicalisation, and that of groups, may then be understood as engendered by stresses of civilization. In that sense the cultivation of a culture of fear and threat for strategic purposes is highly instrumental in engendering a radical psychic response from individuals (Frank Furedi, Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right, 2005; Barry Glassner, The Culture of Fear: why Americans are afraid of the wrong things, 2000; David L. Altheide and Aldine de Gruyter, Creating Fear: news and the construction of a crisis, 2002). When the connectivity of psychosocial life is called into question, the increasing uncertainty necessarily tends to engender radicalisation as a cognitive survival strategy. Ironically the current US-led NATO strategy against radicalisation is therefore engendering the response which it purports to consider as the highest threat.
Catastrophe: Of related interest, on a different scale, is recognition of collapse in the form of catastrophe -- following the catastrophe theory, notably developed by René Thom (Structural Stability and Morphogenesis: an outline of a general theory of models, 1972). The seven elementary forms of catastrophe he distinguishes can be understood as forms of wave function collapse. Thom generalizes his arguments to encompass semiotic considerations of potential relevance to the experience of radicalisation (Esquisse d'une Sémiophysique: physique aristotélicienne et théorie des catastrophes, 1989). This suggests the possibility of distinguishing seven elementary forms of radicalisation.
Given the arguments above associating radicalisation with the selectivity resulting from responses to the seven WH-questions, there is then a case for extending arguments associating those questions with forms of catastrophe (Conformality of 7 WH-questions to 7 Elementary Catastrophes: an exploration of potential psychosocial implications, 2006; WH-Questions as derivative psychosocial constructs, 2010). This could lead to recognition of how any given form radicalisation may be especially associated with particular engagement with a question. For example, the question of "who" is naturally fundamental in the appreciation of the radicality of religious fundamentalism.
Singularity: Arguments have been formulated recognizing trends to various forms of singularity. Most fundamentally this naturally includes the hypothesized Big Crunch of cosmology, as indicated above. For religious fundamentalists, such a singularity is to be recognized in prophesied end times scenarios. A hypothesized technological singularity is envisaged as a consequence of the accelerating progress in technologies causing a runaway effect wherein artificial intelligence will exceed human intellectual capacity and control. This is seen as resulting in the radical change of civilization.
Of greater relevance to the above argument are the experiential and cognitive implications of the process as separately explored (Emerging Memetic Singularity in the Global Knowledge Society, 2009). This included the following sections:
|Varieties of singularity||End times scenarios|
Annihilation and nothingness: It is curious to note the extensive interest of cosmology with nothingness (Lawrence Krauss, A Universe from Nothing: why there is something rather than nothing, 2011; John D. Barrow, The Book of Nothing: vacuums, voids, and the latest ideas about the origins of the universe, 2002) -- as discussed separately (Emerging Significance of Nothing, 2012).
More curious is that this occurs at a time when many experience the present and future as offering them "nothing" (Configuring the Varieties of Experiential Nothingness, 2012). Also evident is the annihilation and devastation consequent on suicide bombing -- and especially on the radical action in response to it. It can also be argued that many global strategic initiatives, most notably of multinational corporations and governments complicit in their action, are enabling forms of annihilation -- whether of ecosystems, cultures or individual lives, then confronted with nothing.
Physics has adopted a creative, proactive attitude to nothing -- even envisaging a Theory of Nothing . The exploration of nothing, which could of of relevance to individual reality, has seemingly been limited to mysticism. In the present condition of global society, the possibility of a "way around nothing" merits careful consideration as separately suggested (Way Round Cognitive Ground Zero and Pointlessness? 2012).
Consistent with this argument, curiously it is through poetry and song that such possibilities are more commonly explored. With respect to "being nothing", one approach could be inspired by the possibility of an underlying synthesis to the seemingly disparate insights offered by the polymath Omar Khayyám. Variously acclaimed as the "poet of uncertainty" (in a BBC Documentary series, 2009), the "poet of doubt", and the Shakespeare of Iran -- he is recognized as unique in being remembered as both a great poet and a great mathematician [See extensive entry in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy]. However, as the famed author of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, quatrains such as the following are attributed to him:
And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press,
A necessarily radical understanding of existential nothingness clearly calls for the greatest attention given the degree to which this is potentially central to the radical action of a suicide bomber, whether understood as the annihilation of self, or otherwise -- whatever these may mean. The much-cited question of Shakespeare's Hamlet is clearly relevant:
|To be, or not to be, that is the question--
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep--
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come
Does this offer insights into the mindset of a potential suicide bomber? How might Shakespeare be distinguished as a radical?
Mathematics offers a remarkable variety of "languages" through which to explore the nature of radicalisation. It is characteristic of the development of mathematics that major progress is marked by new insights recognized to be of a radical nature. The capacity to think radically in making such advances is therefore much acclaimed and valued with respect to the experience of doing mathematics (Philip J. Davis and Reuben Hersh, The Mathematical Experience, 1981; Reuben Hersh, Experiencing Mathematics: what do we do, when we do mathematics? 2013). Of particular relevance to this argument is consequently the perspective offered by cognitive psychology (George Lakoff and Rafael Nú?±ez, Where Mathematics Comes From: how the embodied mind brings mathematics into being, 2001).
Notable in this respect is the significance accorded to radix, or base, namely the number of unique digits including zero, used to represent numbers in a positional numeral system. Base 10 is of course considered normal in many sectors of society, whilst base 2 is fundamental to the binary system used by computers. Wikipedia indicates other examples, including 3, 5, 8 and 20 (List of numeral systems). With respect to consideration of reform of the calendar, a radical suggestion was made by José Argüelles with regard to "the irregular 12-month [Gregorian] calendar and artificial, mechanised 60-minute hour" as being a construct that artificially regulates human affairs, and is out-of-step with the natural "synchronic order". He proposed its replacement by a thirteen moon, 28 day calendar, in order to "get the human race back on course".
The decisive role of number in providing a sense of normality is also evident in the case of musical tuning systems, in contrast to the the twelve-note chromatic scale which it is impossible to tune so that all intervals are "perfect". Variants include: Just intonation, Pythagorean tuning, Meantone temperament, Well temperament, Equal temperament, Syntonic temperament. The question is how "radical" is to be understood as related to such different frameworks for normality.
Statistics: The distinction between normal and radical is most helpfully made in terms of the so-called normal distribution informally known as the bell curve. This clarifies what may be considered extreme, a condition which continues to be deplored and is now increasingly conflated with radicalism. As previously noted in discussion of Norms in the Global Struggle against Extremism (2005), the question is how to define unambiguously "how unlike us" does a group have to be to be legitimately defined as extremist -- or radical.
An excellent discussion of the possibility, in relation to the war on terrorism, is provided by Harry Rosenberg (Counter Extremism: population characteristics and the sigma tool for change, Roadtopeace.org, 2004) in the light of the discipline of psychometrics. He focuses on the standard deviation of a whole population (known as sigma, symbolized by the Greek letter s) which is the most commonly used measure of statistical dispersion. It is a measure of how dispersed are the values in any set with respect to a mean, or normal, value. In a normally distributed population then:
Degrees of "extremism" in terms of a Gaussian normal distribution
For Rosenberg, as applied to ethnic attitude for example: "anyone in the 2/3 group might be considered typical, because they are indeed typical. The 1/370 group might well deserve the label of being extreme, simply because they are so rare and far removed from the rest of us". Should the "1%" be considered radical and subject to attentive eradication, as might be argued by the 99% of the Occupy Movement?
Any such curve is of further interest in the light of the challenge (mentioned above) of distinguishing the "extraordinary" and the "exceptional" -- so typically highlighted in media presentations as an inspiration to the normal -- from the radical extremes, so typically condemned. The strategic issue is how to recognize what should be a target for eradication, if that is the strategy of choice, as previously noted (Eradication as the Strategic Final Solution of the 21st Century? 2014).
Possible scenarios can be explored through alternative visualizations. Clearly it is the so-called "long tails" which call for such strategic attention, radical though this may itself be as in the necessary executive decisions. What percentiles should be considered for "eradication"? The further difficulty is how to position the extraordinary and the exceptional -- with the radical approaches they may imply -- such that they do not fall within those percentiles.
|Radical extremism and long tails|
|Exceptionally long tails?||Positioning the extraordinary in contrast to the radical?|
The above images invite interpretation as caricatures. Through lengthening the tails in that on the left, a curious form of egalitarianism is suggested, with greater variety. That on the right suggests an entitlement obsession by normal people. A Freudian perspective might frame this as indicative of an unconscious form of breast fixation -- to be contrasted with the "tails" of that on the left, readily to be associated with both sexuality and the demonic.
With respect to strategies of eradication, statistics offers extensive expertise in the process of normalization. Although potentially complementary, this is distinct from the normalization of sociology, namely the process whereby ideas and actions come to be seen as "normal" and become taken-for-granted or 'natural' in everyday life -- the normalization of the radical. The matter has now been framed in a different light by James K. Galbraith (The End of Normal: the great crisis and the future of growth, 2014).
Uncertainty and incompleteness: It is of course statistics which is fundamental to handling uncertainty through consideration of probability. Nomality might then be understood as intimately related to the predictable, with uncertainty posing strategic challenges, especially through indication of anomalies (engendering anomaly research).
The fundamental issues of incompleteness are the focus of Kurt Gödel's incompleteness theorems, fundamental to mathematical logic in establishing establish inherent limitations of all but the most trivial axiomatic systems. To the extent that normality is defined axiomatically, as within many frameworks, the question could then be raised as to how such limitations relate to any understanding of radicality as a response to incompletion -- and the significant blindspot of normality corresponding to systemic neglect. Such considerations also apply to the arguments regarding metalogic raised by Gregory Chaitin (Meta Math!: The Quest for Omega, 2006). Whereas logic concerns the truths that may be derived using a logical system; metalogic concerns the truths that may be derived about the languages and systems that are used to express truths.
Is radicality then a question of probability, as argued with respect to a probabilistic understanding of truth by Vasily Nalimov (Realms of the Unconscious: the enchanted frontier, 1982)?
Radical identification through network analysis: Fundamental to the operation of electronic surveillance, in response to the threat of terrorism, is the use of particular techniques to identify "people of interest", most notably through analysis of patterns of communication. But how then to distinguish "radical" as used by David Lorimer (Radical Prince: the practical vsion of the Prince of Wales, 2003)? With the aid of profiling, such individuals emerge as focal points from the masses of surveillance data -- potentially for purposes of targetted assassination.
Whilst related techniques are used to analyze data for purposes of economic espionage, curiously the techniques do not appear to have been applied to the detection of nodes of creativity. This suggests that radical is uniquely associated with criteria of threat -- however that is understood. The strategic converse of threat -- perhaps to be understood in terms of some form of creative opportunity -- would seem to be currently unnamed, irrespective of its significance for innovation and the much-sought "new thinking".
It remains to be explored how mathematics might distinguish the varieties of anormality as a clue to the varieties of radicality.
Geometry and symmetry: Of particular interest is the manner in which the patterns characteristic of degrees of symmetry in geometry may become apparent -- especially with the higher order of symmetry characteristic of the so-called Monster Group (Potential Psychosocial Significance of Monstrous Moonshine: an exceptional form of symmetry as a Rosetta stone for cognitive frameworks, 2007; Psycho-social Significance of the Mandelbrot Set: a sustainable boundary between chaos and order, 2005). This is indicative of the manner in which anomalies perceived in symmetry of a lower order may be integrated as characteristic of symmetry of a higher order.
Of relevance is the manner in which identity is associated with patterns of a particular geometry or topology, as discussed separately (Geometry, Topology and Dynamics of Identity, 2009). Especially ironic is the conventional treatment of the abnormal, whether radical, criminal or variously handicapped through incarceration within one of the simplest geometric frameworks, namely the cube.
This raises the question as to whether the geometry of the cube -- so widely characteristic of conventional architecture -- is especially indicative of normality in a variety of senses. It is in contrast with cube-based architecture that radical designs are enthusiastically explored by creative architects. Value is attached more generally to thinking outside-the-box as exemplifying creativity.
Polyhedral configurations and optical systems: Optical metaphors are employed to a remarkable extent with respect to individual and group strategy -- most obviously in the use of "vision" and "focus". It is not the cube which enables and enhances either but rather other polyhedral configurations, as deployed in mirrors. Should the radical insight associated with the emergence of new paradigms and forms of organization -- of scientific revolutions -- be recognized as dependent on very particular configurations of information that ensure such focus?
An obvious traditional indication is offered by imaginative reflection on a mandala (as noted below). Another is offered -- if only symbolically -- by various forms of circlet of facetted precious stone, as with a bracelet or crown (Engaging with Globality through Cognitive Circlets, 2009).
Topology: It is appropriate to note the significance of the generalization of geometry to topology. Especially relevant with respect to radicality is the manner in which this frames a paradoxical form of (potentially disruptive) intersection with forms which are otherwise considered to be indicative of normality. Topology has been valued in this respect by a number of authors (Rosen, Laing, Lacan)
The most obvious example is provided by the Klein bottle. This is a 3-dimensional impossibility whose integrity and viability only become apparent in four dimensions, as highlighted by Steven M. Rosen (Topologies of the Flesh, 2006).
Clearly there is a long tradition of consideration of a process of "cognitive stripping" in response to conventional illusion. How this relates to radicalisation and daimonisation remains to be explored. The matter is nevertheless highly relevant to particular forms of religious fundamentalism. Many clues are offered by the associated disciplines (Navigating Alternative Conceptual Realities: clues to the dynamics of enacting new paradigms through movement, 2002). Some are reviewed in the associated annexes (Metaphoric Entrapment; Clues to Movement and Attitude Control; Clues to 'Ascent' and 'Escape').
Of particular relevance is the existential directness of engagement with transcendent reality acclaimed by some perspectives, notably Islam. Also relevant is the significance attributed by Buddhism to the so-called emptiness of form, or the so-called cloud of unknowing of Christian mysticism. As noted in these respects, there is a degree of recognition of the necessity of apophasis and modes of unsaying -- separately discussed in relation to other understandings of identity (Being What You Want: problematic kataphatic identity vs. potential of apophatic identity? 2008). Destructive consequences clearly ensue when variants are understood in terms of the necessity of destroying form or framing it as irrelevant -- including the actions of process of suicide bombers. Curiously no attempt is made to engage with the cognitive frameworks of those drawn to this modality. The dangerously simplistic emphasis is on denying its significance and seeking ways to prohibit any such mode of comprehension.
With respect to the argument above for a pattern language of cognitive radicalisation, through which the daimonic might be engaged in some manner, of particular interest is the classic set of 10 Zen ox-herding images. Their progression may be usefully arranged in the following schematic, as discussed separately (Configuring the Varieties of Experiential Nothingness, 2012):
Circular representation of the classic Ten Ox-Herding Pictures of Zen Buddhism
Adaptation into circular form of the traditional linear version in Wikipedia, as derived from
That set of patterns has also been related to degrees of self-reflexivity in responding to the global problematique (Progressive integration of the shadow of non-self-reflexivity, 2007).
Given the arguments above, any discussion of identity and existence is especially challenging. The point is appropriately highlighted in two modes by classic quotations of the poet John Keats:
Dreams? Resorting to allusion and metaphor, could the degrees and modes of existence be more fruitfully explored as waveforms and distinguished through a pattern language reminiscent of the periodic table -- as indicated above? In terms of the latter, how many "ways to be" could be fruitfully distinguished?
The remarkable advances of physics with regard to the nature of physical reality have as yet to be reflected in any reframing experiential reality in a coherent manner inviting new modes of comprehension. Pointers in that direction are evident from the title of a work by Stephen Hawking (The Dreams That Stuff Is Made Of: the most astounding papers of quantum physics -- and how they shook the scientific world, 2011). This can be fruitfully contrasted with that of Thomas M. Disch (The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: how science fiction conquered the world, 2000) and that of Steven M. Rosen (Dreams, Death, Rebirth: a topological odyssey into alchemy's hidden dimensions, 2014). What might it take to shake the rigid assumptions of the world of cognitive normality?
Concrete proof? Given such possibilities, how is radical disidentification and annihilation to be experienced? Is the very framing of this question to be usefully called into question (Am I Question or Answer? Problem or (re)solution? 2006). Is there a need for the future to engender other modalities, as separately discussed (World Futures Conference as Catastrophic Question: from performance to morphogenesis and transformation, 2013)?
The challenge is especially pertinent at a time when there is a desperate quest for so-called "concrete proof" in relation to the potential development of nuclear weapons by Iran. In what other domains might such concrete proof be sought (10 Demands for Concrete Proof by We the Peoples of the World, 2012)?
Existence? Given the strategic importance of the question, it can be fruitfully applied to the currently unquestioned existence of other entities, as discussed separately (Cultivating Global Strategic Fantasies of Choice: learnings from Islamic Al-Qaida and the Republican Tea Party movement, 2012). Specifically it can be applied at this time to the "existence" and "identity" of the so-called "international community", to which appeals are now made in the event of disaster. These are now reminiscent of appeals for divine intervention in times of catastrophe by civilizations of the past.
More to the point is the nature of "concrete proof" for the purported existence of entities such as the United States of America -- especially given its own demand for concrete proof. The relevance of the question is usefully highlighted by the process of quantitative easing through which the existence of trillions of dollars is declared by fiat (ECB launches 1 trillion euro rescue plan to revive euro economy, Reuters, 22 January 2015). How is the existence and credibility of these resources to be evaluated?
The challenge is highlighted by the scientific criterion of falsifiability, namely the inherent possibility of refuting a statement, hypothesis, or theory. A statement is called falsifiable if it is possible to conceive an observation or an argument which proves the statement in question to be false. In this sense, falsify is synonymous with nullify, meaning not "to commit fraud" but "show to be false". The unfalsifiable has been classified as unscientific, and the practice of declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientifically true is held to be pseudoscience.
To what extent does this apply to the existence of the USA or of the international community? Should the USA be considered a pseudoscientific creation -- as with Al-Qaida? Given that such entities may be held to exist as a consequence of legal fiat -- constitutions and the like -- could the inability to sue such an entity constitute a form of concrete proof that it does not exist? The dilemma has been explored in an Australian comedy (The Man Who Sued God, 2001). How is the quality of evidence for weapons of mass destruction (as presented in March 2003 to the UN Security Council in justification for invasion of Iraq) to be compared with the quality of evidence for the existence of the nation presenting it?
To what extent does "Israel" exist any more than "Palestine" -- especially given the strange attraction these entities share with Christianity for a lump of rock?
Cognitive cloaking? Of particular relevance to this argument is the tale of The Emperor's New Clothes (1837) by Hans Christian Andersen. As the Emperor of the moment, Barack Obama could be understood to be disporting a new set of clothes -- carefully designed by the US government propaganda machine to persuade the world of the credibility of the claims regarding the current global terrorist threat. The clothes are claimed to be a "new" design -- in contrast to that of the past, now deprecated (as outmoded).
The Emperor's allies (the "international community", "the military-industrial complex"?), through their various spokespeople and commentators, necessarily express admiration for the clothes. The reasons are obvious, if they wish to continue to be "accepted at the imperial court". The difficulty is that the Emperor's new clothing is virtually transparent. It does not exist -- except to the extent that it can be compared to a "cloak of invisibility". But few with careers and funding to protect would care to draw attention to that fact.
Unfortunately for the courtiers and the Emperor, there are now many without any position to protect at court -- as a consequence of imperial policies. As with the "Little Boy" of the tale, they can rudely attest for all to hear that the Emperor is "wearing no clothes". He is naked -- although primus inter pares. With respect to the existence of the "wolf", the entanglement of that tale with the fable of Aesop (The Boy Who Cried Wolf) can be further discussed (Entangled Tales of Memetic Disaster: mutual implication of the Emperor and the Little Boy, 2009).
However the converse may be of relevance. If an entity can be believed to exist, requiring the degree of credibility accorded to fiat currencies, is this an indication of meaningful viability in cognitive terms? How is belief in the existence of deity -- and claims to that effect -- to be distinguished from existence of the USA?
World religious authority? Various recent top-down initiatives to globalize religion have been reported, as summarized by Matthew Butler (Spirituality in the New World Order: is a one world religious authority in formation?, Global Research, 16 March 2015; Unmasking Tony Blair's 'Interfaith' Crusade: Using Religious Extremism to Impose a New World Order, Global Research, 22 June 2014). In September 2014 Israel's former President Shimon Peres asked Pope Francis to head a future "United Nations of Religions" Peres suggested this organisation should wield the "unquestionable" authority to declare what God does and does not want, in order to combat religious extremism.
Any such initiative would indeed be remarkable, given the history of the Catholic Church in defining radical views as heresy. This has been most notable in the case of the Galileo Affair -- requiring a delay of 400 years before error could be fully acknowledged. It is unclear what percentiles of the Gaussian normal distribution would be identified as radicals by pontification, and whether they would be subject by the organization to the methods of the Inquisition -- recently proven to be such an inspiration to the CIA in dealing with terrorist suspects. Beyond the interfaith challenges so unsuccessfully addressed in the past, more challenging is how the existence of any such entity is to be comprehended and how pontifical judgments are to be rendered credible.
More intriguing is whether those involved would bring radical new insight to the theological challenges in the light of the radical insights of science, as separately explored (Mathematical Theology: Future Science of Confidence in Belief -- self-reflexive global reframing to enable faith-based governance, 2011; Is the World View of a Holy Father Necessarily Full of Holes? Mysterious theological black holes engendering global crises, 2014).
The need for radical framing is currently evident from the sensitivity of Islam to depictions of Mohammed esteemed to be blasphemous and insulting -- with the violence engendered in consequence. The issue can be fruitfully highlighted in the case of Buddha -- famously compared by Zen masters with a "shit stick". However this insight has not prevented a Buddhist country from analogous sensitivity to insult (Burma jails New Zealand bar manager over 'insulting' Buddha images, The Guardian, 17 March 2015).
Caliphate, dispensationalism and full spectrum dominance? The argument for such a religious authority is seemingly understood as a means of counteracting the aspirations driving the radical initiatives of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. This has been epitomized by the declaration in 2014 of the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate -- whose existence is purportedly unrecognized by any other country, many of which are effectively engaged in combat with it.
How should the credibility of such aspirations be compared with those of Christian dispensationalism anticipating a future world based on a millennial kingdom and a Third Temple in Jerusalem -- from which Christ (upon his return) will rule the world? Through Christian Zionism, these variously accord with the aspirations of Judaism for the construction of such a Temple (Rammy M. Haija, The Armageddon Lobby: dispensationalist Christian Zionism and the shaping of US Policy towards Israel-Palestine, Information Clearing House). All such aspirations -- and the inspiration they offer to those of the respective faiths -- are interwoven with anticipation of messianic figures, variously prophesied and offering the delightful challenge of how they might be most fruitfully briefed (Strategic Briefing for the Messiah, 1999)
From a historical perspective, the nature of the existence of such entities can be fruitfully explored in terms of the reality accorded to them and the credibility they invite and have invited.. Of relevance are the empires of the past, including the British Empire, now transmogrified into a legally elusive Commonwealth of Nations. Given the millennial emphasis, it is curious to note the alternative name for the German Third Reich, namely the Tausendjähriges Reich.
With respect to global aspirations, these strategic initiatives -- and their half lives -- are also to be compared with those of the US military for full-spectrum dominance and the existential reality to be associated with it. This is the quest for achievement of control over all dimensions of a battlespace -- presumably viewed by some in relation to Armageddon. The matter can be considered in terms of global hegemony (Embodying Global Hegemony through a Sustaining Pattern of Discourse: cognitive challenge of dominion over all one surveys, 2015).
What collective strategy embodies the complexity of ITER? Why should it then be expected that current strategies can engender and sustain the requisite psychosocial energy for global governance? Does this explain the Ungovernability of Sustainable Global Democracy (2011)?
Identity? These considerations apply equally to any individual sense of identity, otherwise held to be strictly defined by "identity papers", increasingly backed by extensive database profiling (augmented by photo and biometric ID). This modality tends to be further reinforced through elaboration of curriculum vitae (CVs) held to be vital by many, as with the often desperate cultivation of a profile on social media (Facebook, Linkedin, etc).
Given the crisis of identity which many face in psychosocial contexts disproportionally populated by immigrants, how is the individual to imagine a meaningful identity? What response can be envisaged when any homeland no longer constitutes a qualitatively viable "place to be" (in the terms of Christopher Alexander)? The challenge for some goes further to include the question of whether and how they themselves exist -- beyond their capacity to nourish themselves. This has been remarkably articulated by R. D. Laing (The Divided Self; an existential study of sanity and madness, 1960), as excerpted separately (Collective Memory Personified: an Analogy, 1980). Laing's description was used as a means of providing a perfect, if tragic, summary of the condition of world society -- particularly in terms of the condition of collective memory.
These various "dimensions" can be explored through the 7 WH-questions, highlighted in the animation above: Who? Where? When? Why? What? How? Which? However in a daimonic reality, for a radical it is precisely the non-definitive nature of any answer which characterizes the experiential nature of individual identity. The focus of existence is outside the box by which "inside-the-box thinking" endeavours to contain that reality.
More curious is the comprehension associated with the sense of coherence which any quest for identity may be held to offer. Indeed, as indicated above, Am I Question or Answer? Problem or (re)solution? The definitive answer conventionally sought is challenged by the possibility of an identity framed by the dictum of Hinduism: Neti Neti -- hence the key offered by apophasis, otherwise applied to comprehension of divinity (Being What You Want: problematic kataphatic identity vs. potential of apophatic identity? 2008).
Destruction? To the extent that particular comprehension of identity is offered by action, the current preoccupation with the attitudes framed by suicide bombing call for the most careful exploration. Understood more generally however, they highlight the nature of the stories on offer with respect to dying. It could be argued that the variety of stories is remarkably impoverished and endangered -- as with biodiversity. The menu of cognitive options though which to die is very limited. A daimonic reality implies a far richer range of metaphors, as may be discussed (Metaphors To Die By: correspondences between a collapsing civilization, culture or group, and a dying person, 2013). That exploration calls into question the irony that cosmologists and physicists do not seem to have applied such insights to themselves, despite their extensive insight into richer metaphors of "ending".
Curiously it could be argued that the manner in which reality is atttributed increasingly to the externality of existence through the course of a life is intimately associated with aging and the manner in which it is ensured. Astrophysical metaphors inspired by the aging of a Sun, are suggestive of how the internal energy (by which it is sustained) is progressively lost to the point of final collapse. The question is the nature of the possible engagement with externalities to counteract such an existential drain (Existential Embodiment of Externalities: radical cognitive engagement with environmental categories and disciplines, 2009).
The obvious concern at this time is the strategic commitment of individuals to "blowing up" things (and themselves), purportedly in service to a higher cause. Simplistic condemnation unfortunately omits consideration of the founding myth of Christianity, namely the violent actions of Jesus in the so-called cleansing of the temple. It also avoids consideration of the analogous response to the iconic Golden Calf of the Israelites. Although remarkable with respect to cultural heritage, their destruction invokes otherwise missing dimensions and gives meaning to them -- as with any suicide pact. Placing icons in museums makes a pretence of the reality of which they are indicative.
Many religions are quite systematic in their destruction of the icons of cultures they seek to dominate -- as more recently evident in the actions of the Catholic Church in Latin America and elsewhere. Islam is quite categorical regarding the problematic nature of imagery -- especially that purporting to offer indications of any transcendent reality. The approach is seemingly basic to assertion of collective identity, as with recent threats to blow cultures back to the Stone Age (Nick Clasher, Bomb them Back to the Stone Age: an etymology, History News Network).
What multidimensional experiential reality is obscured by focus on an external iconic image in three dimensions? Why the remarkable enthusiasm for killing and destruction in movies and video games -- from the youngest age? Is there a sense in which any destruction frees a daimonic reality to some degree? Is self-destruction -- and taking others with it -- indicative of a more fundamental understanding of this, for which there is currently no other modality?
Clearly there is a case for careful exploration of the sense of identity in relation to the representations with which subtle modalities of existence are believed to be associated -- especially when they are termed "real estate". In echoing the architecture of temples, it is curious to note the extent to which "pillars" are now used in strategic constructs -- virtual temples? -- most notably in the case of the European Union (Coherent Value Frameworks: pillar-ization, polarization and polyhedral frames of reference, 2008).
Ways of being? Rather than the conventionally restrictive understandings of identity, is the issue a matter of recognizing the variety of ways of being? Some of the metaphors noted above are indicative in this respect.
The latter highlights the possibility that identity for some, or under some conditions, may not be a matter of a sharply defined, ordered focus in relation to externality, for example. With respect to the daimonically radical, identity may be better explored as the alternation between a variety of modalities -- as would be characteristic of the waveform sense of identity noted above. This is consistent with the questionable quality of "existence".
Cognitive "management"? It remains intriguing as to how such dynamics might be "organized" and "managed" as a cognitive process -- especially when the identity and existence of the "manager" is a feature of the dynamic. It is in this sense that the most complex collective endeavour at this time -- the design of a nuclear fusion reactor -- offers a particularly valuable metaphor (as noted above). It offers a way of thinking about "cognitive fusion", namely a means of integrating otherwise incommensurable perspectives which cannot be otherwise contained. There is then clearly a case for exploring how attention can be "managed" and "invested" to engender psychosocial energy such as to sustain some form of identity coherence (Investing Attention Essential to Viable Growth: radical self-reflexive reappropriation of financial skills and insights, 2014).
The toroidal design of ITER in three dimensions obscures the sense in which any viable psychosocial analogue might require at least a fourth dimension. This is currently implied by the external management of the ITER process. However in the psychosocial case the toroidal design can be more fruitfully understood in terms of of the topology of the Klein bottle (mathematically related to the torus). Any "management" function is then integrated into the paradoxical "insertion" into the bottle through the fourth dimension --- only partially comprehensible through depiction in three dimensions. This could be considered consistent with the self-reflexivity of a higher order of cybernetics (as mentioned above).
The irony of the acronym of ITER, being the Latin word for "the way", offers further potentially fruitful associations at this time, given the Biblical declaration: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). As a "design specification", the question is then how comprehension of identity takes the form of a vehicle with the degree of complexity of ITER. The psychosocial energy engendered by the processes of the vehicle offers further associations between the astrophysical metaphor of "Sun", as traditionally associated with "Father". Does this specification suggest that identity could be explored as a dynamic embodiment of the processes of "ITER", as previously argued (Enactivating a Cognitive Fusion Reactor: Imaginal Transformation of Energy Resourcing (ITER-8), 2006)?
Pattern language of radicalisation and daimonisation? The possibility of such a "language" was suggested above. There is a possibility that the elements of such a language already exist in visual form in the light of the reflection within various religions over the centuries. Curiously, despite the unresolved difficulties of interfaith discourse and the theological differences which reinforce them, there is a visual form which is reasonably common to a number of major religions -- if not central to their iconography.
The patterns in question are the centro-symmetrical geometrical forms which figure in architecture and on other media. In the case of Islam they are recognized as "Islamic patterns" (Yahya Abdullahi and Mohamed Rashid Bin Embi, Evolution of Islamic geometric patterns, Frontiers of Architectural Research, 2013; Keith Critchlow, Islamic Patterns: an analytical and cosmological approach, 1976). Christianity recognizes them best in the form of rose windows and circular mazes (Painton Cowen, The Rose Window, 2005). Buddhism and Hinduism recognize them in the form of mandalas, of which Hindusim recognizes a particular yantra form (Madhu Khanna, Yantra: the symbol of cosmic unity, 1979). As a language these forms are more systematically explored by Keith Albarn (The Language of Pattern, 1974)
In the light of the potential cognitive implications with respect to "managing" attention in a daimonic context, and the metaphor offered by the control of nuclear plasma within the ITER toroidal container, there is a case for imaginative exploration of such patterns. It could be assumed, for example, that they are effectively cognitive screenshots of intuitive insight -- much as such images are produced during operation of the CERN Large Hadron Collider. Rather than considering them as static and only implying a dynamic, they could be embodied in animations suggestive of the dynamics of a daimonic reality -- namely the challenge of embodying/containing the core dynamic (as suggested by the case of the "plasma snakes" mentioned above with respect to ITER).
The following animation is an example of the possibility, made up primarily of many Islamic patterns, but with the first being the central portion of the famed Sri Yantra of Hinduism. The animation rate is designed to reinforce the argument regarding the dynamic nature of daimonic reality and the cognitive "flows" which contain it through momentary mnemonic associations. The words tentatively framing the animation are suggestive of different modalities of engaging with normal reality.
|Animation suggestive of various understandings of coherence|
|See the world otherwise
identity through action
"perfection of what is"
through deeper insight
(be the change)
reinventing oneself and
reinventing the world
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