25th December 2007 | Draft

Beyond the Matrix

becoming other wise

- / -

An early study on this site that continues to attract a surprising number of visitors is:

What follows are pointers to various explorations of the challenges and opportunities that seem to lie "beyond the matrix". Although presented chronologically, to some extent as one learning pathway or "story" through selected themes and documents on this site, this "linear" organization is in fact progressively called into question here -- as with the implied "matrix" of this checklist.

Organization of the themes of human activity in matrix terms has since been systematically developed and applied:

In contrast to such hierarchically ordered information, the theme of networks and networking is treated in an extensive range of documents:

Tensegrity in particular offers an interesting way of ordering networks that balances challenge and harmony and transcends duality and polarization -- whether in social organization or the organization of knowledge (including the larger set of documents on this site: Distinguishing Emergent Conceptual Polarities: experimental ordering of a collection of research papers, 2004). Documents focusing specifically on these questions include:

Tensing networks in this way is a means of responding to some of the weaknesses of dysfunctional network organization, as discussed in the following:

Of particular importance is the need to shift the focus from "static" to "dynamic" modes of organization, from "structure" to "process", in order to relate seemingly incompatible conditions::

This dynamic focus offers insights into a range of preoccupations, especially when understood in terms of cycles:

This highlights the importance of benefitting from the neglected insights of Eastern cultures (in addition to those of the West), especially in the light of the value of metaphors to comprehension of more complex patterns and alternative modes of understanding:

One challenge is to be able to benefit from other tools and forms of knowledge presentation in order to comprehend such complexity:

An obvious shift beyond the matrix is to a sphere-based geometry, notably implicit in tensegrity organization:

The shift beyond the matrix also calls for attention to the potential of other geometries and the alternative configurations they offer of "higher order":

Any patterning of "higher order" can be explored in terms of the quest for the "pattern that connects" and the new questions it implies:

This exploration of "higher orders" can also be associated with Eastern metaphors and other media:

The shift beyond the matrix is notably associated with non-linear dynamics, "catastrophes" and the emergence of associated new modes of organization:

As implied by any concern with "hyperreality", a further challenge then lies in the nature of the psychosocial engagement with "reality" and the associated sustaining forms of energy:

Any such context raises important questions regarding the integrative nature of identity in relationship to any form of sustainable development and the manner in which "time" is reframed:

The above context raises issues regarding the nature of wisdom and synthesis in any emergent "wisdom society", beyond the current knowledge-based society:


The complexification associated with the above progression highlights a fundamental ambiguity in relation to the introductory theme of "matrix":

  • in mathematics (as implied initially), a matrix is a rectangular table of quantities to which arithmetical operations can be applied. They are typically used to describe linear equations and to track of coefficients during linear transformations.
  • in science fiction (as noted initially), matrix is the name of the simulated virtual reality that has been the basis for three films: The Matrix (1999), The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003). In those films, those aware that the matrix is a simulation (and few are) can partially bend the simulation's physical laws in order to perform superhuman feats within the simulation. It is in this respect that such a matrix has become a metaphor for many cognitive challenges with which humanity might currently be said to be faced -- and consequently has become the focus of a wide range of disucsions and documents.

Whereas the first is an exemplification of linear thinking the second is an aesthetic portrayal of non-linear thinking. Many of the documents above might be said to be explorations of the transition between linear and non-linear thinking -- in a number cases with the assistance of modes of knowing, including aesthetic forms of awareness, that challenge the conventional understandings of reality (constructed on linear and grid-based patterns) in which subject and object are safely distinct.

There is however a third, and older, understanding of "matrix" of which the two above might be understood to be more readily comprehensible simplifications that hold some of the cognitive challenges. It has two significant extremes:

  • matrix as womb (the original derivation of matrix): as experienced by any child and from which the child emerges at birth
  • matrix as ungraspable totality: this has been notably understood, through a range of terms in many cultures, as the archetype of the Great Mother

In relation to the above progression of themes, it might be argued that the primarily linear understanding of matrix usefully reflects both the strengths and weaknesses of patriarchal society and the structures and modes of knowing to which it has given rise. The struggle to give fruitful operational form to non-linear (more "feminine") modes has been less than successful. More understanding has perhaps emerged from its failures than from its successes. The films offer intriguing insights into possibilities -- but with little insight into how they are to be embodied in practice in response to current challenges of society.

The title of this document "Beyond the Matrix" raises the question as to the nature of the understanding "beyond" such polar extremes -- however "beyond" is to be understood. The sub-title, "becoming other wise", emphasizes the possibility of an emergent mode of awareness. This is characterized both by the dynamics of "process thinking" and a reframed sense of identity with "otherness" rather than confronted by it -- however these can come to be understood.

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