That I might have featured Asperger’s when I was young never crossed my mind until this year.  I’d been studying autism for 12 years.  Working for 12 years with the thesis that testosterone informed the rate of maturation, it never struck me that estrogen might manage the timing until last winter when I discovered I’d been causally considering it for a couple of weeks.  My creative process is an artistic process that often features a conscious mind just along for the ride.  There are similarities between those of us living lives deeply informed by the creative process and those that this society calls autistic.

Understanding autism is at the heart of this orchestral theory of evolution.  If this theory does explain how autism emerges and offers interventions that can improve the lives of those that feel inhibited by the condition, then there is the chance that several dozen conditions and diseases may be addressed by using the principles outlined in this work.  My premise is that autism is a condition that features male maturational delay and, in females, acceleration.  Social structure, neurological anomalies and endocrinological differences are all integral to autism and Asperger’s etiology.   By adjusting our theory of evolution …

A foundation of this work is the power of sexual selection and social structure to inform biological and social evolution.  Integrating sexual selection and social structure with heterochronic theory, neuropsychology and endocrinology makes it possible for these components to comprise a synthesis I’m calling “The Orchestral Theory of Evolution.”  One way to explain how these seemingly different disciplines integrate is to explore them in enough detail, one at a time, so that depicting how different languages are describing the same process makes sense intuitively.

In the case of sexual selection, I have the work of Geoffrey Miller (2000) to detail what I am thinking.  Miller doesn’t believe neoteny influences human evolution in an important way.  Miller is an evolutionary psychologist.  He believes that the simpler explanation is likely more useful.  Nevertheless, Miller adroitly describes human evolution impacted by sexual selection.  My variation of Miller’s thesis is as follows:

1) Natural selection
2) Sexual selection (selecting for pattern when seeking a mate)
3) Human sexual selection (selection for novel pattern when seeking a mate)
4) Art (selecting for novel pattern outside of mate selection)
5) Awareness of the selection, or creative, process

I believe that a familiarity with social structure is …

“Before Agassiz, recapitulation had been defined as a correspondence between two series: embryonic stages and adults of living species.  Agassiz introduced a third series: the geologic record of fossils.  An embryo repeats both a graded series of living, lower forms and the history of its type as recorded by fossils.  There is a “threefold parallelism” of embryonic growth, structural gradation, and geologic succession.  ‘It may therefore be considered as a general fact, very likely to be more fully illustrated as investigations cover a wider ground, that the phases of development of all living animals correspond to the order to succession of their extinct representatives in past geological times.  As far as this goes, the oldest representatives of every class may then be considered as embryonic types of their respective orders of familiar among the living.'”  (1857, 1962 ed., p. 114)  (Stephen J. Gould, Ontogeny and Phylogeny (Cambridge:  Belknap Press, 1977), pp. 65-66.)

Stephen J. Gould’s Ontogeny and Phylogeny lies at the heart of many of the interconnecting concepts of this thesis.  Ontogeny and Phylogeny made sense of many of the disciplines I’d been studying for many years, showing how evolutionary theory informs many levels of experience.  Central to Gould’s thesis …

Split Consciousness

December 21, 2009 | 2 Comments

Category: Society, Unconscious

By presupposing that consciousness or our relationship with consciousness is integral to the kind of evolutionary theory we can create, this work seeks to make part of the equation of our theorizing the actual way that we theorize.  Many Neo-Darwinists make direct correlations between their interpretation of Darwin’s theory of natural selection and a materialist, atheistic world view, making it clear that a theory featuring randomness supports a world view with no mythology.  I also make connections between theory and a world view with no mythology, except my understanding of the world is informed by presupposing interconnection.

This interconnection that I presuppose can be described as consciousness or awareness.  I assign consciousness to everything that exhibits life.  I consider it possible that consciousness is a feature of all that exists and does not exist.  I sometimes explore if presupposing this to be the case offers any insight regarding the assigning of biological principles to a cosmic scale.  Significant to this work is the hypothesis that human beings are split conscious beings, and that this split consciousness can be explored in detail.

By assuming that life exhibits consciousness, embracing consciousness as integral to understanding life and evolution, and distinguishing human consciousness …

Shift

December 18, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Play, Society, Unconscious

Thomas Kuhn describes those unique situations when a science discipline experiences a shift.  Shifts occur in different ways.  One way that a shift happens is when a new presupposition introduces new information that offers an almost completely alternative frame of reference and new world view.  Everything seems to look different with the new presupposition.  The established presupposition, by not embracing the new presuppositions, can continue in a kind of alternative universe.  The question becomes:  Which presuppositional matrix is more useful for which particular outcomes?  Asking which paradigm is true is not a useful question.

Darwin expressed deep distress and consternation that his theory of natural selection was instrumental in the discussion of whether god existed.  Indeed, his fears were reasonable, and we might say that society has shifted as a result of its acceptance of the theory.  This work operates with a different thesis.  It is an integration of all three of Darwin’s theories and the work of theorists that immediately followed.  This orchestral theory of evolution is an alternative frame of reference and a new world view.  Nevertheless, it has roots going back thousands of years, with connections to the work of many contemporary theorists.  Try on this work …

This work began almost 15 years ago when I disappeared down a rabbit hole where I was studying the origins of dragon and serpent mythologies in matrifocal cultures that came before the Indo-Europeans.  It was an art and writing project that involved my creating a book of dragons, treating the various dragons and dragon-like mythological beings as species within a genus, exploring them biologically and socially.  I became intimate with the religions, mythologies and social structures of ancient aboriginal societies and early civilizations at the root of dragon myths.  I found myself living and breathing ancient air, viewing, listening to, and feeling the world in a different way.

This alternative path features a world view that presupposes connection.  Studying ancient matrifocal society, I was introduced to an experience characterized by an immanent presence rather than a separated, transcendental god.  Interconnection is presupposed.  The individual is part of a larger process.

These themes are, of course, reemerging in contemporary times through a number of avenues, including Eastern practices, drugs, group art/aesthetics such as dance and chanting, and aboriginal spiritual paths.  I was exploring the origin of dragon myths, discovering the cultural heritage of societies that had their myths and familiars demonized …

Explorations of societies displaying matriarchal, or matrifocal, tendencies often struggle with a definition that will adjust to very different examples of the paradigm.  Often, a woman’s exercise of authority within a culture can be profound but not obvious, as if there were an agreement that men look like they are in control.  There are different areas where authority manifests such as home, work, market, social situations.  Female authority may vary depending on the context.  Shared authority can look very different in different societies.

What I am calling “The Orchestral Theory of Evolution” is a feminine theory of evolution insofar as both sexes share the ability to inform change and both foundation hormones have profound impact.  “Feminine” suggests sharing and cooperation.  In the context of evolutionary theory, a feminine paradigm is a cooperative paradigm with both a male and female command of process.

Nevertheless, from our Western perspective, provide a woman any control in a hierarchical context where men have traditionally called the shots, and the female anomaly often receives negative attention.  Evolutionary theory traditionally focuses on the male.  Some exceptions with a focus on the female have emerged over the last 40 years, mostly from female theorists, but so long …

Meta-Evolution

December 15, 2009 | 1 Comment

Category: Biology

When in 1858 Charles Darwin received a letter from Alfred Wallace describing Wallace’s version of the theory of natural selection, Darwin was exploring three different theories of evolution.  Conducting experiments in three different areas, he was also looking for evidence of how the three different dynamics were related.  Wallace’s letter aborted Darwin’s attempts to find a synthesis.  He then struggled to reduce his work on natural selection to a volume small enough to be accessible.  On the Origin of Species was published in 1859.

Darwin’s 1868 The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication explored Lamarckian principles of evolution.  In this two-volume work, environmental influences and the use and disuse of organs were addressed in the context of his theory of pangenesis, which described hypothetical, influential gemmules passing through the bloodstream.  As it happened, both his 1868 Variations and his 1874 The Descent of Man, which discussed sexual selection, were almost totally ignored, while Darwin’s theory of natural selection received massive attention.

Natural selection, sexual selection and Lamarckian selection were all embraced by Darwin’s work.  Then, shortly after Darwin’s death, there emerged the work of the Neo-Lamarckians, Mivart, Cope and Hyatt, who were exploring principles of maturational acceleration and …

I have found that definitions of neoteny that I provide to friends often don’t easily stick in their mind.  To ask someone to think of an automobile accelerating is easy.  It is not too difficult to ask people to make a picture in their mind’s eye of an accelerating automobile changing its model year to acquire future features while speeding up, decelerating to change shape to look like an older model.  But it is more difficult to ask them in their mind’s eye to perform this animation while considering a long succession of automobile models, each succeeding vehicle behaving a little different from the one before, different in a fashion where its ability to change model year with speed is enhanced or compromised with time.  Minds’ eyes sometimes can use a little training.

Neoteny, one of six heterochronic dynamics described by Gould (1977), is the biological process that prolongs ancestor embryo, infant and childhood features and displays them in the physical bodies and behaviors of descendant adults.  The classic examples are our ancient chimpanzee-like forebear infant features of small jaw, small teeth, big head, relatively large brain, upright stature, vertical skull positioning, playful disposition, curiosity, social dependency and displays of …

If heterochrony is the study of the rates and timing of maturation, with testosterone levels impacting rate and estrogen levels controlling timing, then those environmental or social structure adjustments that influence levels of testosterone and estrogen determine the speed, timing, features and direction of evolution.

Central to the dynamic that winds its way throughout this work, and what I am now calling the Orchestral Theory of Evolution, is the idea that biological evolution and social evolution are the same.  The present paradigm behaves like there has been so profound an effect upon society and consciousness by self awareness and language that culture now seems separated from biology.  This work seeks to integrate biology and culture.  This integration is made possible by an understanding of how evolution proliferates variation outside of natural selection.  This is an old idea, one that emerged in the nineteenth century.  Stephen J. Gould, in his 1977 Ontogeny and Phylogeny, sought to codify this idea.  He focused on the principle of heterochrony, a word coined by Ernst Haeckel.  Heterochrony is a process that describes the dynamic of progeny variation, a process that is not random.

The natural selection paradigm hypothesizes that the progeny produced by a parent …

Several themes run through this blog.  Several related melodies play off each other as I explore how they are connected and the way that the melodies seem to transform when approached from different directions.  Perhaps this work’s most influential theme is the power of play to inform understanding.  I am not an academic.  I have no affiliations with an established institution or connections with groups that compel me to defend specific beliefs or conjectures.  I feel like a grown-up surrounded by toys, ideas that represent patterns in our experience, and I’m reveling in the process of letting myself be led to what feels like unique ways for the ideas or patterns to interact.

Like a child, I presuppose that what I am exploring, I can understand.  Engaging, I intuit and experience connection, and I estimate that my participation will be rewarded with my having learned something I didn’t know before.  Many themes carry through this work, but perhaps the core idea is that everything is connected and that those connections can be understood, or at least intuited, by a nonacademic.

I maintain a deep reverence for what might be called “fun.”  When I feel attracted to something, I take that …

Reversion

December 9, 2009 | 1 Comment

Category: Ontogeny, Sexual Selection, Society, Theory

“Again, masculine characters generally lie dormant in male animals until they arrive at the proper age for procreation.  The curious case formerly given of a Hen which assumed the masculine characters, not of her own breed but of a remote progenitor, illustrates the close connection between latent sexual characters and ordinary reversion.”  (The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, Charles Darwin, 1868, V2, p. 394)

Freud was inspired by his contemporary evolutionary biological theorists to take the emerging paradigm equating the fossil record displaying species transformation with embryology and cultural variation.  Biology, ontogeny and society were thought to be allied.  Western prejudices assumed aboriginals were less “evolved.”  They were looking at evolution as a process displaying “progress.”  Nevertheless, this threefold parallelism was embraced by many a hundred years ago.  Freud added a fourth layer by theorizing that individual human development could follow pathways, influenced by incidents over the course of a lifetime, that would align themselves with paths at the biological, social and ontological scales.  Central to Freud’s thesis was the power of adult reversion to early developmental stages to then have early childhood (and earlier human-society) features manifest in the lives of adults, informing their behavior …

Horrible Choice

December 8, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Society

I was born in 1952 in an affluent northern suburb of Chicago.  Glencoe was perhaps a third Jewish.  I was raised mostly nondenominationally, but my grandparents embraced their ethnicity.  Still, they identified more with being wealthy Americans than with being Jewish.

My mother was manic depressive and was institutionalized on and off from about the time I was ten on.  My father’s mother was mentally ill.  Familiarity with mental illness up close purged my body and mind of identification with the benefits of affluence.  I withdrew from the conventions of success.

I was a walking, talking incongruity-detection device.  Hypocrisy jumped out at me when I saw or heard it.  My childhood calibrated my intuitions to make me hypervigilant to mixed messages.  I knew “crazy” up close.  I perceived the crazy in communications I observed.  In my experience, crazy was almost everywhere.  What wasn’t incongruent, I hardly noticed.  The dark side of the world felt familiar.

I became intimately aware of how my thinking process inhibited my goals.  I felt deeply split regarding much of what I desired.  I acquired a psychodynamic world view made up of trends and tendencies and what inhibits their achievement.

Growing up in craziness, I felt …

I’ve been playing with the idea that the genome is not a blueprint or a computer algorithm or a structured plan designed to take into consideration information provided by the environment.  I’ve been toying with the possibility that the genome is closer to a musical script, sheet music, designed to only make sense when integrated with the scripts or compositions of other beings of the same and other species.

First, perhaps a genome makes no sense as an isolated single gnome.  I am suggesting that a genome is but a puzzle piece among puzzle pieces, each piece appearing in a different being.  Seeking answers from within a single genome is like trying to understand a symphonic composition by reading the sheet music of the timpani.

Second, if the genome is like sheet music, then perhaps the musician is something science has been ignoring.  I’m thinking that it’s not that our genome is supplying content for the artist to then display, but that the genome is creating context whereby content and artistry can both emerge.  This is difficult to even consider without the first point successfully absorbed.

The genome is like a nationwide train-track system, with each city a different individual, …

Gemmules

December 4, 2009 | 3 Comments

Category: Biology, Ontogeny

After several hundred pages of describing biological anomalies that didn’t fit his theory of natural selection, on page 350 of his second volume of The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, Darwin said the following, “Under this point of view I venture to advance the hypothesis of Pangenesis, which implies that every separate part of the whole organization reproduces itself.  So that ovules, spermatozoa, and pollen-grains, – the fertilized egg or seed, as well as buds, – include and consist of a multitude of germs thrown off from each separate part or unit.  In the First Part I will enumerate as briefly as I can the groups of facts which seem to demand connection; but certain subjects, not hitherto discussed, must be treated at disproportionate length.  In the Second Part the hypothesis will be given; and after considering how far the necessary assumptions are in themselves improbable, we shall see whether it serves to bring under a single point of view the various facts.”

Darwin is wrestling with observations that don’t fit an established paradigm, the one that he and Wallace introduced in 1858 called natural selection.  He is hypothesizing movement across a body and between generations of …

Darwin Revisited

December 3, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Biology

Exploring some of the original sources of the ideas I play with in this blog, I’m revisiting Darwin’s The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication.  In this two-volume presentation of Darwin’s Lamarckian hypothesis, published in 1868, after his 1859 On the Origin of Species, Darwin does not associate himself with Lamarck.  Lamarck is rarely mentioned.  Then, as now, evolutionary theories focusing on use and disuse of organs and environmental effects were controversial.  Some sample excerpts….

“…selection does nothing without variability, and this depends in some manner on the action of the surrounding circumstances on the organism.”  V1, p. 7

Describing the transformation of several English dog breeds when raised in India, Darwin states, “It would appear that climate to a certain extent directly modifies the forms of dogs.  We have lately seen that several of our English breeds cannot live in India, and it is positively asserted that when bred there for a few generations they degenerate not only in their mental faculties, but in form….This remarkable tendency to rapid deterioration in European dogs subjected to the climate of India and Africa, may be largely accounted for by reversion to a primordial condition which many animals exhibit, as …

Paradigm Gap

December 2, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Activism, Society, Web

It struck me this evening that there are no Leftist specialists on the Internet and the Internet’s influence on Left politics.  There are journalists that write stories about the Internet and politics.  There are Left and left-of-center blogs that discuss the influence of the Internet on politics.  There are books, such as Viral Spiral and Here Comes Everybody, that are partly devoted to Internet activism and how the Left is impacted by the web, but I’m having trouble finding examples of those concentrating pretty much exclusively on Left politics and the net.

There is Richard Stallman’s late 20th-century crusade to carve out a commons on the web.  His influence has been astonishing.  In the Left community that I am part of, I am in contact with hundreds of activists.  His name has never been mentioned.

The word “hacker” has evolved over the last 20 years.  It rarely appears in Leftists’ conversations.  Nevertheless, its emerging meaning has more to do with an egalitarian revolution than with one that violates private cyber space.  The folks I am in contact with are little aware of the young programmers’ community fighting for free code and shared universal software.  There are few bringing …

There are about a dozen of us volunteers working with nearly 1500 local peace, justice and environmental organizations in 50 states. The Peace, Justice and Environment Project (PJEP), located at pjep.org, places in the hands of local activists, at no cost, the kinds of tools that larger organizations have access to. This includes such features as online fundraising, eletters, online petitions and boycott tools. In addition, we make available almost 1000 resource documents congregating in 44 issue clusters, offer inter-organizational communications tools, and connect activists with like minded grassroots organizers in other states.

Spontaneous protests have been emerging across the country this last week with activists demonstrating against Obama’s anticipated escalation of the Afghanistan war. Currently United for Peace & Justice (UFPJ) is in flux. They are in debt functioning with all volunteer staff as the steering committee reaches out to member groups to help define the future of UFPJ. As a result, A.N.S.W.E.R., National Assembly, Codepink and World Can’t Wait (WCW) have been, by and large, offering attention to this issue as national organizations. Nevertheless, none of those organizations have an inclusive national presence with chapters or affiliates in every state. Only WCW has put any effort into …

It is not uncommon that I am with a friend who is in distress and he or she is describing an experience that he or she has had or is having that is not related to the distress but which occurs during the time of distress.  The experience is informed by the individual’s emotional and mental state, resulting in what appears to me to be an experience very different from what it would have been without the distress.

Underlying, or presupposing, any experience is the mental/emotional place we are in when it occurs.  What I mean is that experience is informed by context.  An individual’s ability to be aware of his or her personal context while being exposed to life’s experiences can have a lot to do with how empowered a person feels by his or her life.  There are layers and layers of underlying context or presupposition.  These have been called personal stories or scripts.  It can be argued that the deeper our awareness of this context, the more empowered, the more secure we feel.

This kind of context, these presuppositions, is integral to understanding evolutionary theory.  Gould alludes to these issues in various works, including Ontogeny and Phylogeny

Seeking a Pathway

November 27, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Art

The introduction to the theory discussed on this site is “Introduction to the Theory of Waves.”  It’s been viewed over a thousand times.  I’ve received feedback from perhaps 30 academics.  Most find it too condensed a presentation of unfamiliar material to convince them that it represents something useful.  So, I’m playing with the idea of another introduction, one that is less dense and more playful.  Only, it’s evolved from an introduction to a book.  It’s almost 100 pages.

Those folks reading this entry who have been more or less following along on this blog journey, please tell me in the comments below which parts of this thesis you’ve found most interesting.  What I’m thinking at this point is that a new introduction would begin with the last big piece that fell into place, the discovery that estrogen may be what manages the timing of maturation.  That seemed to communicate fairly well when I wrote people this piece.

Consider this as a sequence of themes or subjects in an introduction:

The trick is to find a way to take a step-by-step narrative path through an experience that implies a global gestalt understanding of a whole.  I find myself, for example, …

Teaching Process

November 26, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Art, Unconscious

One of the astonishing things about being a human is that the great majority of us open our mouth to start a sentence with almost no awareness of a process that will culminate in a relatively articulately communicated thought or experience.  Talk about unconscious.  We have no clue how we do this, yet we associate it with our conscious experience.

Being part of the process that produces the words that appear on this blog is no less mystifying.  The fact that so much of the content emerges as my fingers type the words, while I subvocalize content having to do with the nature of evolution and transformation, is beyond me.  The stuff feels interesting.  I start to feel connections.  My fingers type.

So, opportunities emerge that suggest how two or more of these various strands connect to one another.  A connection feels interesting.  I type.  Yet, there come moments when I’m feeling stumped.  I intuit a connection or connections but they feel so deep, subtle or variable that describing them feels more like making a map than like traveling a territory.  All words are maps.  Using words, I’m playing with associations.  Nevertheless, there are times when I’m happy if I …

Two Sides

November 25, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Activism, Society

From my sophomore to junior year in high school I went from selling fruitcake for my Boy Scout troop to selling buttons and bumper stickers for my anti-war group.  I grew up in a merchant family and looked at the world as an opportunity to sell things.  I didn’t exactly have the personality for it.  I was shy, but I was moderately obsessed with numbers and so made a numbers game out of whatever I was trying to encourage people to purchase.

That money bought stuff never seemed particularly relevant.

So my contribution to the Left in the 1960s and 1970s was mostly handling the accounting for the various things that were exchanged.  Forty years later, at protest planning meetings, I mostly handle display and transfer of information because web development is my profession.  Watching and listening to organizers in meetings, I notice that same deadpan earnestness I remember from my youth, but relations today are plagued by decades of hurt feelings and activists taking personally the former strategic decisions of their peers.  I am constantly astonished by how often present behaviors are informed by past disappointments or frustrations.  Experiencing forgiveness is not a common experience in the Leftist avocation.  …

How Special Are We?

November 24, 2009 | 1 Comment

Category: Unconscious

Idea has structure based upon how those that create or share societal ideas relate to and are driven by the dynamics of testosterone and estrogen.  This societal structure dynamic, this testosterone-and-estrogen frame of reference, operates in an identical fashion as biological social structure.  For moderns, it’s been particularly difficult to parse out this commonality between biology and society because we’ve been so unaware of the relativity of social structure, because patrifocal social structure has been so ubiquitous in our lives.  Nevertheless, social structure informs culture and biology at the most basic level, the level at which progeny variation is decided.

The idea that idea has structure and that it is informed by sexual hormones is not new.  The pantheon of gods and goddesses in various religions display representations of ideas as specific male or female figures.  What I am considering now is that the idea that there are no new ideas may have its foundation in an understanding that all idea is a reflection of biological social structure and an endocrinological allegiance with one of the ways that the two sexes relate.

We humans indulge in the belief that society is profoundly different from biology.  Because we are able to …

Jacqui Russell is the artistic director of Chicago Children’s Theater.  My good friend Arnold April mentioned to me the unique program that Jacqui manages at Agassiz Elementary School in Chicago, encouraged into existence by CAPE (Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education).  Arnold is CAPE’s creative director.

The program that Jacqui manages guides autistic children into more interactive relationships by blending performance with a sensitivity to the nuances of emotion.  An audio interview is located here, an article here, with CAPE documentation of her process located here and here.

The documentation describes a step-by-step process that guides children with deep difficulties intuiting the experience of others into a place where they can estimate another person’s emotion and respond in an appropriate way.

What has me thinking is the possibility of approaching autism with a blending of performance, rhythm and education around emotion, something that this program has been doing to a large degree for more than ten years.

If autistic children can be encouraged to dance to rhythms, dancing to the same beat in a group, experiencing the mirroring of each other’s experience in a performance context, then perhaps bridges can be built between beings with difficulty entering others’ …

I just noted a paper, Multiple ancient origins of neoteny in Lycidae (Coleoptera): consequences for ecology and macroevolution, that observes instances of neoteny compelling jumps in evolution.  One of the riddles of the career of Stephen J. Gould was how he seemed to rarely discuss how his deep insights focusing on neoteny explained his theory of punctuated equilibrium.  Gould did not believe in gradual evolution.  Yet, he seemed to only occasionally discuss the specifics of his saltationist conjectures, particularly when it came to heterochronic theory, or the study of the rate and timing of maturation and development, the source of neoteny.

The work just noted, Multiple ancient origins…, doesn’t just not note the influence of neoteny on humans, but it goes back many millions of years to discuss its subject.  My work has focused almost exclusively on neoteny in humans and makes the following statement….

If heterochrony is the study of the rates and timing of maturation with testosterone levels impacting rate and estrogen levels controlling timing, then those environmental or social structure adjustments that influence levels of testosterone and estrogen determine the speed, timing, features and direction of evolution.

Contemporary research on neoteny and heterochronic theory, …