20th December 2009
Cognitive Cycles Vital to Sustainable Self-Governance
The Lord of the Rings as an emergent integrative dynamic
- / -
Gaussian Copula, the Kaya Identity, and what else?
-- Gaussian Copula: investment risk
-- Kaya Identity: emissions
-- Sustainability metric
-- Other fundamental "metrics"?
-- Secret formulae?
-- Metrics: a measure other than human?
of Mythopoeic Insights to Global Challenges
Metrics with a "human face"?
-- Neglected geometric "metrics"
-- Mythopoeic insights of relevance?
-- Cognitive drama of the disciplines
-- Human remedial capacity: a ninefold challenge?
Cycles Vital to Sustainable Self-Governance
-- Embodiment: how "one" engages with reality
-- Interweaving singular metrics
-- Emergent integrity of a configuration of cognitive
cycles -- a "Lord of the Rings"
Part 3 of Uncritical
Strategic Dependence on Little-known Metrics (2009)
Cyclic irrelevance: It is precisely the subunderstanding
associated with pursuit of a single way of knowing that transforms the "knower" into
a cognitive "wraith" in Tolkien's terminology. Those in possession
of such singular knowledge are "doomed to die" in the
words of the poem above (in Part
2) -- effectively to lose the immortality
conferred upon them by that knowledge.
As noted in framing the Integrative
Knowledge Project, the inadequacy and natural limitations of specialized
approaches are poorly recognized -- although is however increasingly recognized
that it is both inefficient and inadequate to organize research or action
programmes as though nature were organized into disciplinary sectors in
the same way that universities are.
How, asks Russell
Ackoff (1960), is a practitioner of any one discipline to know in a
particular case whether another discipline is better equipped to handle
the problem than is his? It would be rare indeed if a representative of
one of the many disciplines in some way related to the problem in question
did not feel that his particular approach to that problem would be very
fruitful, if not the most fruitful.
This tendency is also institutionalized, as noted by Hasan
Ozbekhan (1969): "This almost subconsciously motivated attempt,
that of a sector to expand over the whole space of the system in its own
particular terms and in accordance with its own particular outlooks and
traditions, compounds the problem by further fragmenting the wholeness
of the system. For sectors cannot become systems, they can only dominate
them; and when they do they warp them."
On the same point, Ackoff notes (1960): "...few of the problems that
arise can adequately be handled within any one discipline. Such systems
are not fundamentally mechanical, chemical, biological, psychological,
social, economic, political, or ethical. These are merely different ways
of looking at such systems. Complete understanding of such systems requires
an integration of these perspectives. By integration I do not mean a synthesis
of results obtained by independently conducted undisciplinary studies,
but rather results obtained from studies in the process of which disciplinary
perspectives have been synthesized. The integration must come during, not
after, the performance of the research."
This predictable death in time constitutes a valuable
reminder of the "cognitive unsustainability" of any particular
mode of knowing -- of any single-factor explanation. Its apparent appropriateness
to any given challenge must eventually fade. It effectively falls victim
to a generic variant of the incompleteness
theorems of Kurt
Gödel. The emphasis of Edward
de Bono, on the need to shift between
modes of knowing, offers a contextual insight into the nature of transdisciplinary
Thinking Hats, 1985; Six
Action Shoes, 1991). This dynamic has been explored elsewhere (Navigating
Alternative Conceptual Realities: clues to the dynamics of enacting new paradigms
through movement, 2002).
Intelligence and learning: However, as "ways of knowing", these
might be understood as "intelligences" -- in the light of the theory
of multiple intelligences, initially developed by Howard
Gardner (Intelligence Reframed: Multiple
Intelligences for the 21st Century, 1999). This set variously
includes (or excludes): bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, intrapersonal, visual-spatial, musical, naturalistic, spiritual,
existential, and moral intelligence. Each might be understood as a distinct
form of "metric" -- a way of assessing the world and defining a
Another approach is to consider these modalities as patterns of learning
which lend themselves to being "bound together" through a higher form of
ordering, as explored separately (Towards
a Periodic Table of Ways of Knowing -- in the light of metaphors of mathematics,
Pattern of Human Life: the Periodic Table as a metaphor of lifelong learning,
through Hypercomprehension and Hyperdrive: necessary complement to proliferation
of hypermedia in hypersociety, 2005).
Psychosocial hazard: The drama of The
Lord of the Rings emphasizes essential danger -- a significance typically
drained from any single metric, no matter the indicator. As noted above,
it is therefore fruitful to recognize the nature of psychosocial hazard
undermining any fruitful assessment of risk (Overpopulation
Debate as a Psychosocial Hazard: development of safety guidelines from handling
other hazardous materials, 2009)
Embodiment: how "one" engages with reality
The following discussion uses Tolkien's "rings" and "ring bearers" as metaphors
in the light of the interaction between the following arguments:
- the quest for globality -- for oneness -- currently manifested problematically
neglect of the global environment, and confusion regarding global understanding
Geometry in Quest of Globality: in response to global governance challenges,
2009; Future Generation through Global Conversation
in quest of collective well-being through conversation in the present moment, 1997)
- cognitive externalization, "outsourcing", or projection of
psychological functions, subpersonalities and insights into roles, whether
represented by conventional categories (sectors, disciplines, arts, etc)
or by mythical figures (elves, dwarfs, etc)
- existential embodiment of externalities typically designed out of single
Embodiment of Externalities: radical cognitive engagement, 2009)
- enactivating the pattern that connects, notably through challenging
Elven Pathways: enactivating the pattern that connects, 2006)
- implication of geometry and topology for thinking and identity, whether
individually or of relevance to governance (Geometry
of Thinking for Sustainable Global Governance: cognitive implication of
synergetics, 2009; Geometry, Topology and
Dynamics of Identity: cognitive implication in fundamental strategic questions
- recognition of the "monstrous" complexity of the highest
forms of symmetry (cf Mark
and the Monster: one of the greatest quests of mathematics, 2006),
riainf the possibility that appropriate comprehension of the governance
challenges of "globalization" call
for a form of marriage between "beauty" and such a "monster" --
but of a quite unexpected order of complexity? Why is it assumed that the
knowledge required is not of such an order of complexity?
- recognition that elaborating significant sets of concepts and categories
is a continuing process of psychocultural experimentation, aided and abetted
by mathematical insights; any closure is therefore typically premature,
rife with confusion and contradictory interpretations (Representation,
Comprehension and Communication of Sets: the Role of Number, 1978)
Any pejorative judgements on the dramatis personae (above) are
then to be understood as applied to projections and externalizations of the
"one" -- as carried by those roles in society.
Cognitive "engagement rings": Tolkien's rings
might be fruitfully understood as modes of quasi-sustainable cognitive engagement
with reality. Their significance is most readily understood through the psychosocial
significance associated with rings and circlets as discussed separately (Engaging
with Globality through Cognitive Circlets: Learning/Action cycles,
Cultural Rosaries and Meaning Malas to Sustain Associations within the Pattern
that Connects, 2000).
Related insights of potential relevance are associated with:
- the function of rings as great
circles interlocking to define a globe -- giving form to the "one", if
only symbolically (Spherical
Configuration of Categories to reflect systemic patterns of environmental
checks and balances, 1994;
Representation of Icosidodecahedral Net of Strategies: Configuring strategic
dilemmas in intersectoral dialogue, 1995; Spherical
Accounting using geometry to embody developmental integrity, 2004)
- the dynamic integrity and relative sustainability of smoke
rings and their equivalents, and how they are engendered. As a theme
associated with aesthetic representation of the destructive
power of "wraiths", the cognitive analogue to the temporary dynamics
of a tornado,
twister or whirlwind is of interest -- especially in terms of higher
orders of twistedness (Twistedness
in Psycho-social Systems: challenge to logic, morality, leadership and
personal development, 2004; Engaging
with Questions of Higher Order: cognitive vigilance required for higher
degrees of twistedness, 2004).
- the transformation of a matrix, as a form of "metric", into toroidal
of Requisite Variety for Sustainable Psychosocial Dynamics: transforming
a matrix classification onto intertwined tori, 2006)
- the sense in which a set of "rings" might be understood as vital feedback
loops through which a complex cognitive system is sustained. Significant
in this respect is the work of Maurice Yolles (Knowledge
Cybernetics: a new metaphor for social collectives, Organisational
Transformation and Social Change, 2006; Exploring
Cultures Through Knowledge Cybernetics, Journal of Cross-Cultural
Competence and Management, 2007).
- the sense in which exploring reality "through" a particular
ring has associations to the use of a (secret) peephole or spyhole, or
- the considerable symbolic significance associated with a
ring as worn, and the subservience that may be due to the wearer (Cognitive
torque and fruitful associations, 2009)
- the sense in which the rings take the form of "points", whether "bullet
points", bullet holes, or "talking points" (Cognitive
Realignment: making points and aligning a target, 2009; Thomas
R. Flanagan and Alexander
N. Christakis, The
Talking Point: creating an environment for exploring complex meaning,
2010). The cognitive transformation of a point into a hole, as an entry
into a tunnel opening into another space, also highlights the fundamental
role of the feminine -- seemingly absent from the exclusively masculine dramatis
The Lord of the Rings, despite being implicit in ring symbolism
implication "down the rabbit hole"?, 2009). More generally, this further
implies the paradoxical dynamic of any such polarized relationship (Engaging
with Globality through Knowing Thyself: embodying engagement with otherness,
Tom Flanagan "makes the point" (private communication) that points
are like "nouns" and holes like "verbs", with all
nouns as idealized objects, leading to recognition that nouns are
effectively contemporary myths, whereas verbs are more concrete:
So ... if I look closely at any point, it becomes a
hole. Every noun becomes
a verb. It is only through a noun's capacity to evoke verb-ness that a
noun enters the world for me.
In theological terms, such considerations
"point" to the possibility of other metaphors through which to
engage cognitively with "deity", as argued by Sallie
McFague (Metaphorical Theology: models of God in religious
1982; Models of God: theology for an ecological, nuclear
age, 1987). Imagining deity as a noun might even be seen as a fundamental
trap to any meaningful interaction between science and spirituality, as implied
from various perspectives (R.
Buckminster Fuller, God
is a Verb, Whole Earth
Catalog, Fall 1968; David A. Cooper, God
Is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism,
In response to Tom Flanagan, Peter
Jones (private communication) draws
attention to the ways in which nouns are "translated" into verbs in order
to communicate across disciplinary boundaries, notably as developed by Brenda
Dervin (Verbing Communication:
mandate for disciplinary invention, Journal
43, 1993, 3,
pp. 45-54) as part of a Sense-Making
Methodology. Sensemaking across disciplines is understood as breaking
down when people adhere to their interpretation of the meaning of nouns --
they objectify and factualize. Translate to "verbings" enables
people to agree about what is being performed in an activity. An approach
to "globality" through sense-making is a feature of the Global
Sensemaking group dedicated to helping humanity address complex,
interrelated global problems. With the myth of The Lord
of the Rings, this
might be said to be the polysensorial challenge of the Fellowship
of the Ring (Strategic
Challenge of Polysensorial Knowledge: bringing the "elephant" into "focus",
Understood dynamically, the metaphor of a cognitive "engagement ring" is
especially relevant to reframing personal identity as a cyclic dynamic in
its own right appropriate to the challenge of a turbulent environment (Emergence
of Cyclical Psycho-social Identity: sustainability as "psyclically" defined,
|Ringwraiths, whirlwinds and
|Inherently, a whirlwind does not last through the morning.
A sudden storm does not last through the day.
What makes these? The cosmos.
If the cosmos cannot make even these winds endure,
How much more is it the case for human windiness?
(Laozi: Tao Te Ching on the Art of Harmony,
from chapter 23,
Walking together in a Way,
as translated by
Chad Hansen, 2009)
The strategic implications of the seeming coherence offered by "human windiness"
are especially relevant at the time of writing in the preoccupation with
global warming and the surprising collapse of the global financial system.
In both cases meteorological metaphors have been used to frame the processes.
Both are notable for the amount of "hot air" to which they have given rise
-- suggesting the value of greater attention to their cognitive and strategic
-- Strategic Inflation of Expectations and Inconsequential Drift,
of Global Hot Air Emissions to Music: aesthetic transformation and instrumentalization
of vaporware, 2009).
"Union" vs "Metrification": The argument
above endeavours to highlight the challenges of "harmonization" through "metrification"
-- as is typical of many approaches to governance in search of a "silver
bullet". At the same time, the multiplicity of single metrics -- each
aspiring to be a Theory of Everything -- stimulates the quest for the "One
Ring to rule them all"
The challenge of the "union" offered by the "One Ring" would appear to lie
in the manner whereby it transcends and reframes such an enterprise -- calling
for insight that is both "out of the ring" and "out of the box" (Dynamic
Reframing of "Union": implications for the coherence of knowledge,
social organization and personal identity, 2007). This is
well-illustrated by the simplistic understandings of "union" and "agreement"
which pervade global strategic discourse and the outcomes sought -- recently
evident in the frustrations of the United Nations Climate Change Conference
Specifically the challenge would seem to call for a transcendence of simplistic
polarized value systems and of the manner in which the "knower" as the "one"
engages integratively with "known" reality. This is most evident in the unquestioning
commitment to "positive" and the unquestioning rejection of "negative" --
despite the fact that no feedback systems can function without both, nor
can light be generated. (Being
Positive Avoiding Negativity: management challenge of positive vs negative,
There is therefore a case for engaging in an exploration
of the implications of the reminder of the final phrase of the the core poem
Lord of the Rings:
|One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
Darkness where the shadows lie: Clearly reference to "darkness" is
exceptionally challenging for those committed to the "positive" --
although many epic dramas achieve enlightening insight and significance through
the encounter with that quality. The reference to "shadows" is
vital to many psychotherapeutic insights, including the fact that they may
Failure to encounter the "shadow"
appropriately, especially one's own, results in its qualities being projected
onto others -- as is now so evident in the post-Copehagen blame game regarding
climate change, and as was so evident following the global financial crash
As a psychologist, Robert Romanyshyn (Psychology
is Useless; Or, It Should Be, Janus
Head, Fall 2000)
endeavours to combine the traditions of phenomenology and depth psychology,
particularly the works of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, notably in the
light of the poet John
Keats' famed "negative
capability" -- "of being in uncertainties,
Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable
reaching after fact and reason." (1817). It is indeed uncertainties
which challenge current global strategic endeavour and the modes of thinking
through which tragic suffering is faced, with only limited capability
to respond effectively.
explores Jung's concern late in his life at how much he had sacrificed
for the sake of making his work acceptable, namely Jung's question, "Anyway
why did it have to be the death of the poet?" (1975) failing
appropriately to acknowledge that negative capability, lamenting the
death of the poet that he was and was called to be in crafting a psychology
in service to Soul and its aesthetic values. Romanyshyn notes the recognition
of the extent to which the artist
"lies in order to tell the truth". A degree of "lying" may
be essential to the art of global governance (Emergence
of a Global Misleadership Council: misleading as vital to governance of the future? 2007).
Ironically many would see the challenge of climate change, and other global
issues, in relation to earlier lines in the poem:
|One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
On the other hand there is an elegant symmetry with the "Dark Lord", held
to be the most wanted man on the globe (Engaging
with Osama bin Laden in Swat,
It is tempting to associate the reference to "Mordor" with the binding function
of mordants -- especially
in the context of to "bind them" as applied to the set of "rings" as ways
A mordant is a substance
used to set dyes on fabrics or tissue sections by forming a coordination
complex with the dye which then attaches to the fabric or tissue. It may
be used for dyeing fabrics, or for intensifying stains in cell or tissue
preparations. A mordant is always a polyvalent metal ion. The resulting
coordination complex of dye and ion is colloidal and can be either acidic
Civilization has long been committed to "enlightenment" although,
again ironically, this has obscured the insights available from the dark
-- including any view of the stars (Enlightening
Endarkenment: selected web resources on the challenge to comprehension,
2005). of him. The descent
to the underworld is a mytheme of comparative mythology
found in the religions of the Ancient Near East up to and including Christianity.
The process typically involves the death of a youthful life-death-rebirth
deity, mourned and then recovered from the underworld by a consort or
mother. Such a visit to the underworld, known as katabasis,
has connotations in poetry, rhetoric, and modern psychology (where it may
be associated with depression). In mythology most katabases refer to travel
to the supernatural underworld.
Romanyshyn points to the learning from the Orphic
myth that the "underworld" cannot
be dragged into the "upper-world" of ego-intentions without losing
something essential about that underworld (The
Wounded Researcher: Research with Soul in Mind, 2007).
Research therefore has the character of mourning the impossibility of fully
realizing in consciousness what is, inevitably, transcendent to direct, unmediated
knowing -- the unsayable and the unsaid. Given the challenge highlighted
by John Ralston
Saul (The Unconscious Civilization,
1995), the maturity required to navigate with incomplete understanding is
relevant both individually and globally (Being
What You Want: problematic kataphatic identity vs. potential of apophatic
identity? 2008; Unknown
Undoing: challenge of incomprehensibility of systemic neglect, 2008; Global
Strategic Implications of the "Unsaid": fFrom myth-making
towards a "wisdom society", 2003).
Comprehending the "One Ring" through its embodiment:
One of the most insightful efforts to clarify the stages of emergence --
beyond the oversimplification and subunderstanding of the insight into the "union" associated
with the "One Ring" -- is that of the classic Zen Ten
Ox Herding Pictures -- especially the 9th and 10th images.
The relevance to global strategic development for humanity -- given any "shadow
of humanity" -- is discussed separately (Progressive
integration of the shadow of non-self-reflexivity, 2007).
Such progressive emergence may also be understood through the variety of
of Rebirth: distinguishing ways of being born again, 2004).
Such comprehension might then be understood as enabled by a kind of interference
pattern of what Romanyshyn helpfully distinguishes as three complementary "sensibilities" (perhaps
to be understood as "elven rings"?) in his discussion of
The Imaginal World and Aesthetic Sensibility (Psychology
is Useless; Or, It Should Be, Janus Head):
In this essay I have been exploring
a difference between three ways of knowing and being. Keats' notion of negative
capability is the abyss at whose edge the poet dwells, and where the psychologist
as failed poet belongs. On one side of this abyss is the scientist with his
or her facts and measurements. On the other, the philosopher with his or
her reasons and ideas.
Poet, philosopher, scientist! This alignment is neither
a hierarchy nor a value judgment. I speak of them as types, as different
styles of presence, different attunements to the world, and different ways
of saying what the world asks of us. They are different sensibilities, and
it is this issue of sensibility, of how each type senses the world before
he or she makes sense of it, which inspires this essay. The facts which negative
capability eschews are generated by an empirical sensibility, and the reasons
by a rational one. At the abyss, therefore, the poet, and the psychologist
as failed poet, are concerned neither with facts nor reasons. At the abyss,
poet, and psychologist as failed poet, are witnesses with an aesthetic sensibility
for the moment. For the moment, and not for anything beyond it. For the sense
of the moment, for sensing it, and not yet for making sense of it. For the
moment in its presence and not yet for any explanation of it.
As discussed separately (Present
Moment Research: exploration of nowness, 2001), of related
interest is the initiative of Francisco
Varela (in many papers)
to give an explicitly naturalized account of present nowness based on
two complementary approaches: phenomenological analysis and cognitive
neuroscience. " (The
Specious Present: a neurophenomenology of time consciousness,
He provides a valuable review of Edmund Husserl's extensive philosophical
studies of "intimate temporarility", noting Merleau-Ponty's concern
that "Time is not a line but a network of intentionalities" (1945,
p. 479). Varela presents a four-fold model of nowness based on flows and
With respect to the argument above, Varela's representation of the phenomenological
epoché may be fruitfully compared compared to two other representations
as in the following table (from Present
Moment Research: exploration of nowness, 2001).
The relationship between the three cognitive "sensibilities" to which Romanyshyn
refers -- those of the poet, the philosopher, and the scientist -- are then
usefully understood as intertwined or entangled as suggested by these representations.
Especially interesting is the sense in which any sense of a "ring" is then
better understood as a dynamic or process "cycle" (see also discussions
Energy from Polarization within a Cyclic Pattern of Enantiodromia,
of Objective, Subjective and Embodied Cognition: mnemonic systems for
memetic coding of complexity, 2007).
of possible relations between the "nine" and the "one"
|Nine modalities "threaded" together
||Nine interlocking modalities "chained" together
|Nine modalities locked together and "touching"
||Nine modalities together "embodying" the one
Interweaving singular metrics
Three interwoven rings: In the light of the cognitive challenge
(discussed above) of reconciling aesthetics, philosophy and
science, the simplest Borromean
ring structure explored in knot-theoretic
studies may be used to indicate the strategic challenge for global governance.
|Interwoven singular metrics
of current relevance to global governance
(adaptation of an illustration
in Wikipedia from a 13th-century
depicting the Christian Trinity,
as reproduced in Didron's book Christian
The diagram uses the Borromean
ring structure to suggest both the complexity and the coherence of the
relationship between three singular metrics of relevance to the challenges
of global governance:
- degrees of global warming: This has been the focus of
the debate at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (Copenhagen,
2009). The tripartite structure of the diagram, deriving from the Christian
tradition and its industral revolution, highlights the argument central
to the debate that 3 degrees is totally unacceptable, and 2 degrees is
already too much for many. "Unitas" suggests the desirability of 1 degree,
as promoted by the majority of developing countries.
- children per family: To the extent that population overshoot
is considered to be a challenge, more than 2 children per family ensures
continuing population increase (beyond the replacement level). A policy
of one child per family has notably been adopted by China -- perhaps
appropriately indicated in the diagram by "Unitas". A two-child
used for some population groups in China, has previously been used in Vietnam,
and has lately been discussed in the Philippines.
- global hectares per capita:
The global hectare (gha)
is a measurement of biocapacity of
the entire earth. One global hectare is a measurement of the average
biocapacity of all hectare measurements
of any biologically productive areas on the planet. It is a productivity
weighted area used to report both the biocapacity of the earth, and the
demand on biocapacity (the ecological
footprint). The sum
of the world's biocapacity divided by the number hectares on
the earth's surface gives the biocapacity of one average
earth hectare. The term "global hectare per person"
refers to the amount of biologically productive land and water available
per person on the planet.
In 2005 there were 13.4 billion hectares
of biologically productive land and water available and 6.5 billion people
on the planet, giving an an average of 2.1 global hectares per person. Using
Ecological Footprint Calculator, the global
average footprint is about 21 global hectares (or nearly
50 acres) per capita. Lastest findings suggest that a sustainable
footprint is about 15 gha (37 acres) for every person. A List
of countries by ecological footprint (in gha/capita) indicates
that the majority of developing countries havde a gha/capita less than
one, with the more industrialized countries having a gha/capita in excess
of 3. This implies that on average humanity has surpassed sustainable
ecological limits by about 6 gha per
capita. As an example, Australia's Ecological Footprint in the WWF
Living Planet Report (based on the Living
Planet Index, 2008) was 7.8 global
hectares (gha) per person, namely 2.8 times the average global footprint
(2.7 gha), and well beyond the level of what the planet can regenerate
on an annual basis -- an equivalent of about 2.1 global hectares per
person per year.
The circumferential ring in the diagram above is indicative of the challenge
of the binary debate and the
coherence to which "unitas" refers. Given the slippery dynamics of
the debate (much evident in relation to climate change), the following much-cited
text of Chinese culture merits attention -- in relation to the nature of
any central pivot (as "Lord of the Rings"?):
Tao is obscured when men understand only one of a pair of opposites, or
concentrate only on a partial aspect of being. Then clear expression also
becomes muddled by mere word-play, affirming this one aspect and denying
all the rest. Hence the wrangling of Confucians and Mohists; each denies
what the other affirms, and affirms what the other denies. What use is this
struggle to set up "No" against "Yes", and "Yes" against "No" ? Better
to abandon this hopeless effort... The possible becomes impossible; the
impossible becomes possible. Right turns into wrong and wrong into right
- the flow of life alters circumstances and thus things themselves are
altered in their turn. But disputants continue to affirm and to deny the
same things they have always affirmed and denied, ignoring the new aspects
of reality presented by the change in conditions.
The wise man therefore… sees that on both sides of every argument
there is both right and wrong. He also sees that in the end they are reducible
to the same thing, once they are related to the pivot of Tao. When
the wise man grasps this pivot, he is the canter of the circle, and there
he stands while "Yes" and "No" pursue each other around the circumference. (The
Pivot from The
Way of Chuang Tzu, interpreted by Thomas
The challenge of balancing the relationships between the functions represented
by the three interlocked rings has previously been explored in the light
of Venn diagrams and the architecture of three-dimensional tensegrity structures
Principles by Balancing Configurations of Functions: a tensegrity organization
approach, 1979). Of particular relevance is the minimal requirement
for 3 interlocking circles in order to enable the emergence of a viable 3-dimensional
structure -- effectively a pattern of sustainability in design
terms, potentially significant to the transcendence of disagreement (Groupware
Configurations of Challenge and Harmony: an alternative approach to "alternative
organization'', 1979; Configuring:
using disagreements for superordinate frame configuration, 1995).
The Trinitarian origin of the above representation highlights the extent
to which principles fundamental to belief systems tend to be represented
in geometric form, most notably through the triangle, the square and the
circle. Early Christian understanding
of the Trinity as
challenged by the heretical doctrines of Arianism,
was subsequently used to refer by contrast to other nontrinitarian theological
systems (Wade Cox, The
Unitarian/Trinitarian Wars, Christian Churches of God,
No. 268). Trinitarian warfare is a topic of continuing religious preoccupation
(Gregory A. Boyd, Satan and the Problem of Evil: Constructing a Trinitarian
Warfare Theodicy, 2001). It is possible that these differences, and their
consequences for the separation between Catholic and Orthodox understandings,
may offer learnings regarding current challenge of global governance in relating
the themes associated with each of the three circles in the diagram, to each
other and to the whole. Global governance might even be understood as a "theological"
Borromean rings provide an example of a mechanically-interlocked
molecular architecture in three dimensions in which three macrocycles are
interlocked in such a way that breaking any macrocycle allows the others
to disassociate. They are the smallest molecular examples of Borromean
rings and are suggestive (in the above context) of the dynamic relationship
between interwoven singular metrics.
(as reported by James
Fraser Stoddart et al. Science 2004, 304, 1308-1312.
It shows a molecular
Borromean ring with the grey spheres representing zinc(II) ions)
Five interwoven rings:
Whilst the three-fold Borromean pattern is readily comprehensible -- although
more complex than the framing by global governance focused on disparate single
metrics -- some knot-theoretic links contain multiple Borromean ring configurations.
The question is whether these are in some way of greater cognitive relevance
to global governance.
The example below is a rendering of that in the Principia
Discordia, itself an example of mythopoeisis. It is a Discordian
religious text written by Greg Hill (Malaclypse
The Younger) and Kerry
Khayyam Ravenhurst), originally published under the title "Principia
Discordia or How The West Was Lost" (1965). The name is intended
to signify "The
Principles of Strife". The Principia describes Discordianism,
the Discordian Society and its Goddess Eris.
The mandala is made of five interlaced irregular nonagons (the "Fellowship
of the Ring"?), fitted within an overall pentagon. No two nonagons are
directly interlinked, but any three adjacent nonagons (for example, yellow,
green and blue) are in a Borromean
rings configuration. The structure is sufficiently complex to be suggestive
of a pattern that might be used to hold the complete set of Polti's 36 plots
characteristic of human drama (as mentioned above). These are presumably
exemplified by the problematic dynamics of global governance -- effectively
the pattern of narrative tunnels through which globality is variously imagined.
An epic held to be complete, such as The Lord of the Rings, may then
be understood as mapping out in narrative form the complete set of such plots.
The extent to which it achieves this may be indicative of its power as an attractor.
|Five interwoven rings
||Topologically equivalent structure
|A rendering of the "mandala" design (or knot-theoretic
link) from the Principia
in the Wikipedia entry for ease of comprehension
Of possible relevance to such explorations are the understandings associated
with the classic martial arts text The
Book of Five Rings, appreciated in certain approaches to strategic
thinking. The five "books" of which the manual is composed refer to five
different elements of battle, corresponding to the five
different physical elements in life recognized in various Eastern religions: Book
of Earth, Book
of Water, Book
of Fire, Book
of Wind, Book
For other examples of linked structures which contain multiple Borromean
rings configurations, Wikipedia proposes Image:Borromean-cross.png and Image:Borromean-chainmail-tile.png.
As shown below, this highlights the possibility of "zooming" into
greater complexity, corresponding to understanding of higher degrees of systemic
of more complex ring configurations found in traditional culture
| Traditional Celtic
Made of 3 interwoven strands
(seen in the 3 inner loops), expanding to 6 loops in the second
circle and 12 loops in the outer ring.
(adapted from Triple
Tomoe and Related Threefold Symbols)
of the United
Climate Change Conference
from Wikipedia entry
Emergent integrity of a configuration of cognitive
cycles -- a "Lord of the Rings"
The following might be a way of fruitfully and self-reflexively interrelating
the 3 sets of "rings" or cycles (3-fold, 9-fold, and 7-fold) and thereby
providing a sense of an emergent cycle to integrate and "rule them all" --
the "Lord of the Rings":
- 3-set: reframing what was noted above as aesthetics, philosophy and science
as the "cognitive arts", "natural philosophy" and "technique" respectively,
accepting the subtle shifts in interpretation as being characteristic
of the generality implied by each. The rings of the 3-set distinguish the
complementary styles of knowing needed to understand the dynamic engagment
of the 9-set and the 7-set
- 9-set: the distinct cycles might be usefully understood
as modes of attention that are not independently sustainable, whatever
the indications to the contrary in the short-term -- hence their "wraith-like"
quality. Of greater significance is their implied polarization between
an internalized cognitive
abstraction and an externalized sense of "reality". The
latter organizes the environment in terms of what might be fruitfully clustered
as a 9-fold set of "natural" cycles -- hence the "planetary boundaries"
(previously discussed) -- perhaps systemic echoed through a 9-fold set
of metabolic pathways. The former might be understood as a 9-fold set of
cognitive "biases" or "orientations" which are mutually correcting within
the set (as with the 2-fold complementarity between the equally "erroneous"
wave and particle understandings of light). Explorations of the enneagram are helpful in distinguishing the variety of cognitive modalities.
The challenge with this set -- and for their respective "wraiths" -- is the
engagement across the gap between "internal" and "external" modes. It is
here that the 3-fold set of understandings is fundamental to the cognitive
construction of that "bridge" and how the internalized "plugs into" the externalized
(and vice versa). The cognitive bridge then has the quality of a "correspondence",
noting the ambiguity between the older "symbolist" and the more recent "scientific"
variants (Theories of Correspondences -- and potential
equivalences between them in correlative thinking, 2007).
Using an electrical metaphor, the bridge might for example
be understood as operating like a transformer in
which there is indeed no tangible "connection" between the wiring carrying
one voltage and that carrying another. The bridge then takes the form of electromagnetic
the gap between the two circuits -- namely, in this case, between internalized
and externalized understandings of reality. The dynamic within the one effectively
entrains that within the other. The two understandings are then to be understood
as "inductively coupled" (see also discussion in Electrical
Systems as a Guiding Metaphor for Stages of Group Dialogue, 2001).
Especially interesting is any experiential dysfunctionality between the
sense and behavioral patterns of individuality and the reality of daily
life, namely in the form of so-called lifestyle
diseases. The suggests the
merit of exploring a 9-fold clustering of such diseases as representing behavioural
"biases" that call for correction, rebalancing or better integration as
- 7-set: these rings might best be understood in terms
of the phases of any cycle in which some form of "work" is done in its
most general sense. The emphasis is on the technique and timing through
which the integrity of the cycle is sustained. Useful insights into the
organization of learning/action cycles are provided in the explorations
of Arthur M. Young
(The Reflexive Universe: Evolution of Consciousness, 1976).
Poetry has offered insights into cycles of time and a sense of non-linear
time characteristic of some cultures, notably the Mayan and the Hindu (Sarah
Borrowed Time: cycles of narrative, nature, and memory in the work of Tennyson
and Eliot, The Victorian
Web, 2004). A speculative commentary on the insights into time in The
Lord of the Rings is offered by Jay Weidner and Sharron Rose (Tolkien
at the End of Time: alchemical secrets of The Lord of the Rings,
New Dawn, 2004, 82). The nature of any emergent "Lord" is
implied by such frameworks.
Musical instruments offer a useful metaphor for distinguishing the ways
in which the above sets can be understood and the cognitive roles they play.
Such instruments can then be understood as associated with distinct ways
of knowing. Appropriately the classification of musical instruments continues
to evolve beyond the most common 3-fold set: string, wind and percussion (Musical
instrument classification). An
orchestra may have a wide variety of instruments that can indeed be clustered
into that 3-fold set. For the purpose of this argument, one might image a
9-fold clustering as representative of the spectrum of modes of attention.
This is then the requisite variety to achieve a meaningful symphonic
opus -- rendering comprehensible and emergent order -- based on a vital combination
of musicality and technique.
The musical metaphor provides a context through which to identify the nature
of the binding integrity associated with a creative opus -- too readily confused
with the composition of the score (as a "metric") or the directing role
and understanding of a conductor (as "Lord of the Rings"). The challenge
for any form of governance is the subtle nature and expression of that role
-- of the "One Ring to Rule them All" -- beyond the inadequacies
of the all too familiar simplistic forms of direction and governorship. Catalyst,
enabler and mediator hold other dimensions that emerge through engagement
with the music in that role -- through the cyclic expression of the various
"rings". It is this that gives integrative expression to the 3-fold
emergence of value, viability and operacy. The necessarily subtle understanding
of "rule" is then itself emergent.
The charm of the mythopoeic for anybody in this case is that the "Lord of
the Rings" -- the Ringmeister -- is as much oneself as any
distant governor of the world. Everyone is then necessarily an emergent "Lord
of the Rings" in terms of the understanding of the operation of the "One
Ring to Rule them All" -- governing the range of cognitive rings and
cycles vital to individual systemic survival. But as the tale illustrates,
it is the quality and subtlety of that understanding which is necessarily
to be challenged given the possibility of premature closure
on dysfunctional rigidity. Identity in that role is essentially dynamic and
unexpressible, as previously explored (Emergence
of Cyclical Psycho-social Identity Sustainability as "psyclically" defined,
What You Want: problematic kataphatic identity vs. potential of apophatic
identity? 2008). It relates to the exploration of entelechy by the
human potential movement (Entelechy: actuality vs future
In metaphoric terms, the tale may also be understood as a "vehicle" for
understanding equipped with various sets of "wheels"
to give it traction over varied terrain, to give it motive power, and to
enable it to be driven -- namely the sets of rings or cycles. This does not
preclude the design of other "vehicles" with other combinations of "wheels"
Transdisciplinary Vehicles of the Future, 1991).
In the quest for a single metric to encompass any (strategic) domain, there
is a case for exploring the value of an analogue to the renowned Turing
Test -- a "Metric Test". This would be a test of a metric's
ability to distinguish between a system in which human factors play a significant
role and a simulation of such a system in which humans are reduced to (complex)
mathematical objects that do not engage proactively and self-reflexively
with their environment -- even, as they do, to the point of challenging the
The test would fail if the metric was unable to distinguish
a reduced "ersatz" institutional "sustainable" environment
(a space colony, a penal colony, an educational institution, etc) from one
in which humans found it meaningful to live. The merit of the test would
be to distinguish metrics whose adequacy was only evident in simplistic situations
-- minimalistic sustainability, to be caricatured as an intensive farm (uncluttered
by the richness with which many associate a meaningful life). The strengths and
limitations of a single metric, as currently envisaged and applied within
a global context, would then call for reflection on how they might be applied
to the cognitive challenges experienced by individuals -- how their significance
might be "personalized", in the spirit of "think globally, act
It is most curious that both the Gaussian Copula and the Kaya Identity,
metrics of such global significance, were developed by researchers with
respectively a Chinese and a Japanese cultural background -- potentially
consistent with the predictions of Susantha Goonatilake (Toward a Global
Science: mining civilizational knowledge, 1999). Insights from the western
mythopoeic framework offered by The
Lord of the Rings could then be fruitfully contrasted with insights
into governance and sustainability inherent in the Mahabharata and
the Ramayana of
Hinduism -- two of the longest epic tales in the world. One indication
of the relevance of such a cultural framework are the insights of the Arthashastra (4th
Century B.C.) into political economy offered by Kautilya (Balakrishnan
A/L Muniapan, Kautilya's
Aphorisms in Management, 2007). These appropriately challenge
the dominance of conventional western frameworks, as argued by S. Chatterjee
the Dominance of Western Managerial Models: Reflections from the Wisdom and
Traditions of Asia, International Conference on Integrating Spirituality
and Organizational Leadership, University of Delhi, India, February 8-10,
The cognitive challenge of the times is appropriately illustrated by popular
European rejection by the younger generation of over 30 songs in the Eurovision
Song Contest of 2006 as
bland, unimaginative expressions of classical "positive" values -- in favour
of historically unprecedented support for a rank outsider in the form of
a self-questioning, humorous presentation of "satanic" lyrics by
a Finnish heavy metal rock group masked as demons. Curiously, in the light
of its "demonic
success" in 2006, Finland's
widely recognized rapid uptake of information technology had been acknowledged
in the accession speech of the Finnish President of the European Commission
on the New
Dimensions of Learning in the Information Society (July 1999) --
by referring first to the influential role of archetypal figures in the Kalevala,
the epic poem of Finnish culture (cf Newsweek,
May 1999; Wired, September 1999).
The role of drama inherent in mythical representation may prove to be fundamental
to social transformation in the 21st century, as suggested by the unforeseen
collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991 (Gorbachev:
Dramaturge ?! Participative Democracy vs. Participative Drama -- lessons
on social transformation for international organizations from Gorbachev,
1991). There is, for example, a case for contrasting the grooming and promotion
by the Theosophical Society of Jiddu
Krishnamurti (1895-1986) as the Star
in the East with the hopeful worldwide promotion a century later of Barack
Obama as the
"Star of the West" -- effectively consecrated in that role by the Nobel Peace
Prize Committee in 2009. Both have been heralded as harbingers of
a New World Order -- whether understood as a new
socio-political order or as the manifestation of a secretive
conspiracy to rule the world via world government and globalization.
It is within such a context that the function of any single metric merits
Given the three-fold pattern of rings discussed above, it is curious to
note that it was central emblem
to the distinctive flag of the Pax Cultura (or Roerich
Pact), an international
treaty signed in 1935 by the United
States and 20 Latin
American nations, agreeing that "historic monuments, museums, scientific,
artistic, educational and cultural institutions" should be protected both
in times of peace and war. It was intended as a cultural
analog to that of the Red
Cross for medical neutrality. The treaty was signed by the Soviet
Union in 1959; both the Pact, and its instigator Nikolai
to be acclaimed by Russia (cf L. Shaposhnikova, The
Necessity of Roerich's Pact in Today's World, Cultura
i Vremya, 2005, 4).
|Emblem of Pax Cultura
The Roerich Pact was superseded by the distinctive
marking of cultural property as defined by the Hague
Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed
Conflict (1954). However the relevance of the pattern to global
governance (as discussed above), especially its embedding in cultural
tradition celebrated in mythopoeisis, suggests the possibility of a "Flag
of Sustainable Global Governance" -- systemically based on
the three-fold pattern above, with its challenging interwoven metrics
for sustainable global governance. All that is required is an accompanying
epic poem and song !
The attractive cognitive riches of aesthetic "metrics" offer a
path beyond measurement to effective strategic engagement -- avoiding the
impoverishment and cognitive trap of any singular narrative (Promoting
a Singular Global Threat -- Terrorism: Strategy of choice for world governance,
If the "Dark Lord" of The Lord of the Rings, commanding
the "hideous strength" of C. S. Lewis, is indeed to be understood
in terms of "the Beast" of many myths, there would seem to be a
case for exploring the pattern of aesthetic associations and resonances through
which such bestiality is traditionally "tamed". The case can be
made with respect to current challenges of global governance (Poetry-making
and Policy-making: Arranging a Marriage between Beauty and the Beast,
Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic? 2006; Poetic
Engagement with Afghanistan, Caucasus and Iran: an unexplored strategic opportunity? 2009).
Given the current global focus on Afghanistan as the source of terror, it
is perhaps appropriate to recall the establishment by Roerich of the Urusvati
Himalayan Research Institute in that region (and now in process of reconstitution).
The original Roerich Pact made a case for the manner in
which beauty and knowledge contribute to the kind of thinking that may
indeed be essential to governance in the 21st century. As stated by Roerich: Wealth
in itself does not generate Culture. But broadened and subtler thinking and
the sense of Beauty produce that subtlety... It is the cognitive implication
of aesthetics that may be vital to global governance of the future (Aesthetics
of Governance in the Year 2490, 1990).
|Role of imagination
|C. S. Lewis (The
Chronicles of Narnia, 1950-1956) was a close associate of J.
R. R. Tolkien during his elaboration of The
Lord of the Rings. He also explored imaginatively the nature of
monstrosity in society (That
Hideous Strength, 1945). Both were members of the Inklings,
a group which promoted exploration of a mythopoeic approach.
noted by Robert
Huston Smith, Lewis held that poetic language "is by
no means merely an expression, nor a stimulant, of emotion, but a real
medium of information, whether (he carefully added) that information
be false or true. . . . Though immensely subtler, the human imagination
is, in its own distinctive way, just as absolute as are universal moral
laws or syllogisms. All are part and parcel of the same underlying reality
that is itself inaccessible to the mind through any direct means." (Patches
of Godlight: the Pattern of Thought of C. S. Lewis, University of
Georgia Press, 1981, p.
136). [see also Ken Myers, C.
S. Lewis on Imagination, 2008]
The biologist Gregory
Bateson, in explaining why "we
are our own metaphor", pointed out to a conference on the effects of
conscious purpose on human adaptation that:
"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
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