A premise of this work is that transformation unfolds in two waves or impulses, which inform the direction that evolution takes.  This concept first emerged in the works of Darwin’s contemporaries, such as Ernst Haeckel, but was eventually abandoned as Mendel and Weisman’s work around 1900 converged to suggest that evolution could be nothing less than random.  This blog urges the re-examination of the principle of waves–heterochrony is its old name–in light of recent discoveries in evolutionary developmental biology and neuropsychology.

Theorists and philosophers such as Habermas, Gebser and Wilber have noted a succession of stages in the development of species, societies and the maturation/development of individuals.  The evolutionary biologist Stephen J. Gould was sensitive to the potential insights that a multiscale–biological, societal, ontological, biological–perspective provides.  It is my experience that by observing the impact of waves upon this multiscale, four-leveled chess board perspective, a visitor to this model can detect patterns that inform an understanding of present day politics and social activism, features of the future and insight into how society is changing.

In other words, recent discoveries in biology and neuropsychology suggest that biology, ontogeny, society and the individual are all operating according to the same dynamic.  Exploring this dynamic in detail is more than useful.  As an artist, I experience it as beautiful.

One idea bouncing around my head, surfacing as waves, is that class structure in the U.S. and more stratified societies exhibits a process not unlike what has been expressed in the previous entry and other postings.  Whereas youth culture washes up while corporate culture washes down, occupied aboriginal or indigenous culture has a tide that moves one direction as occupier European culture goes the other way.  I’m considering that in an identical fashion, poverty and working class culture exhibit currents of change that course up through stratified layers while the wealthy, upper class culture’s currents flow metaphorically downhill.

Fashion and musical trajectories form with the poor and uninfluential, are embraced by society and finally get integrated into corporate product lines and are made the convention.  The upper class allegiance to the idea of an unencumbered individuality manifested by the power to purchase anything you want drifts down to the very poorest of society, encouraging them to believe that purse strings are the most important strings that bind us all.  The new drifts up.  Assimilated conventions drift down.

Nineteen years I was in the gift business.  I watched multiyear fad cycles become eighteen-month cycles, and then approach a year.  The cycles are growing shorter as the avenues of idea distribution become greased by online technologies and a mass media that crave stories that compel viewers to watch the ads.  While the young and the working class are creating, the controlled-by-the-old corporations are broadcasting their central insight that whatever it is, it’s OK if it makes money.

A principle we use to design social change web applications, building networks between activists across the country, is the principle of waves.  By investing the lowest level of political authority with the tools for social change, we enhance the ability for culture to evolve in a horizontal, transparent, diverse direction.  As this impetus moves upward, it transforms the very premise that society has been built upon for over 6,000 years, hierarchy.  The more power provided to the lowest levels, the more potential there is for profound, creative change as the system itself is transformed by using the principles that drive transformation.

Waves and scales.  Scales and waves.  Standing knee deep in the surf during a thunderstorm, it’s not clear whether we’re being pelted by the ocean or the sky.  Evolutionists like Haeckel, Darwin or Gould may seem dry at first exposure.  Noting their ties to contemporary society, we can feel the waves.


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