Where Twitter Leads

September 18, 2009 | 4 Comments

Category: Future, Society, Unconscious, Web

There is a process that we engage in that is characterized by our observing changes in information over time, noting trends and estimating where we will be in the future.  Our lives are filled with charts that provide an image of where we may end up at some particular point.  Usually what is implied is something scary.  Gore’s pictorial representations of greenhouse gases are an example.

I engage in a similar process, focusing on patterns that reflect both personal experience and my social environment.  What interests me are evolution, transformation, consciousness and interconnection.  The news might suggest some specific thing is bound to get worse because there is an evident pattern to support the conclusion, and then it focuses on that thing because it drives viewers to return.  I also have a criterion for what I focus on.  My criterion is that what I follow has to be interesting.

So, reality has little to do with what the media choose to share.  Reality has little to do with what I choose to focus on and write about.  Still, whether a song describes reality isn’t as important as whether the song succinctly expresses feelings and a point of view.  That is what I am seeking to achieve:  a grounded, cogent, emotional slice of real, in the now.

Twitter is such a tiny slice.  I’m seeing it as a crack between the worlds, not unlike that described by Carlos Castaneda.  There were times in the Castaneda books when Don Juan would behave in ways that resulted in Carlos’s perceptions being transformed.  A world characterized by hidden interconnections would emerge.

Twitter is opening a crack that is providing vast numbers of interconnections among people, establishing a routine characterized by a sharing of massive amounts of information at lightning speeds.

Meditating since 1972, in psychotherapy for over half my life, I’ve observed a trend in my perception, my self consciousness, which is characterized by an increasing sense of trust and confidence.  The confidence isn’t exactly in myself but is confidence in that which is unconscious, my conscious or normal self, and people in my life.  I’m not a particularly heart-driven person.  Yet, over time, I’ve experienced a slow growing of trust.  In other words, I can chart out my own personality transformation, nurtured by an environment designed to encourage such transformations, and estimate where my self is headed.

Observing my own personal transformation, I observe society following a similar path.  Twitter is a window to that transformation.

At this time, Twitter mostly seems a game to accumulate followings by offering interest in another person’s life.  That interest seems often feigned as players seek opportunities to share personal experiences with many people.  Nevertheless, in an effort to encourage others to pay attention, there is a tendency to pass on interesting information that has been received, to behave with some authenticity and to be funny or entertaining.  I’m observing a number of interesting patterns that are emerging.

Twitter users grow higher-value microblogging personas by finding and passing on information that their community respects.  Individuals are being evaluated by their access to information and sorting criteria for what is passed on.  Who we are is becoming characterized by how connected we are.  In this horizontal, interconnected, information world, information is valuable.

Suddenly, we have access to worldwide real-time information on what individuals are concerned with in this moment.  Using Google to find blogs that specialized in a particular interest was the last derivation of this trend.  We can now search within Twitter to find people anywhere that share our particular interest or point of view.  Arcane passions can find reflection half the world away.  In real time.

Discovery of a person with astonishingly similar interests can lead to a treasure trove of information.  Simply exploring the list of people that the new person follows can lead to interconnections hidden because websites weren’t achieving high enough rankings or the information was not easily accessible on the web.

Each individual becomes a hub in the universe of his or her interests.  Leaping from hub to hub, exploring followers and followings, I am astonished by the almost infinite variety of connection.  In addition, many personal connections are being made as personal messages between connections encourage trust.  As time is dispensed in the form of messages, relationships are being formed.

Where is this going?  What does this trend line suggest?

This is a massive, incomprehensibly quick realignment to a horizontal, nonhierarchical, nonstratified point of view.  The commons is growing at an incalculable speed as shared resources emerge and disperse both efficiently and at no cost.  Our deep desire to feel respected is transforming into information-sharing behavior, not unlike the aboriginal potlatch.  Instead of seeking conspicuous consumption and hierarchical control, he or she that accumulates seeks to share.

What is occurring is profoundly aboriginal yet astonishingly modern as we each behave as part of a massive, interconnected whole with no mythology, no deity and no rituals that confuse the metaphor with that which the metaphor represents.  We are each reveling in the benefits of life lived with a small band or tribe with no hierarchical barriers to communication, except we are doing so with thousands.  Each individual is in his or her own customized community, with deep shared beliefs that could be described as a reverence for process.

God, now, truly has no name.

Where is Twitter heading?  We are speeding toward behavior that takes into consideration the wider community, a wisdom of the masses that makes understanding available at no cost.

Twitter is the crack that is splitting open an individual’s belief that he or she is alone and can have little effect or influence on the world.  Mainstream media’s reality that life is frightening and we are helpless to intervene will feel strangely anachronistic.  Frames of reference that engender change and transformation will feel familiar.  Don Juan showed Carlos how to shift perception.  Our perception is being shifted by Twitter and what follows.  The trend is clear.  With Twitter we are focusing on the now.

Theory and Play

August 24, 2009 | 1 Comment

Category: Art, Biology, Myth/Story, Play, Unconscious

Evolutionary theory has been encouraged to grow in the direction of what society believes about itself.  When we in the West were committed to the mythology of the Judeo-Christian ethic, we concluded that life emerged as a direct result of transcendent intervention in a prescribed time period.  Darwin was heavily influenced by contemporary forces that included the belief that humans could observe patterns, draw conclusions and make predictions without the influence of a universal god.  Drawing upon Linnaeus, Paley, Malthus, Smith and Lyell, Darwin created a theory of evolution that seemed to integrate both a reverence for the subject and respect for enlightenment and intellectual independence.  In choosing among Darwin’s three theories, society embraced the theory of natural selection, which directly reflected a material, stratified, industrializing West.

A new paradigm is emerging.  Instead of “survival of the fittest,” we see a drifting in the direction of “transcendence of the interconnected.”  Cooperative communities are becoming recognized as integral to understanding how individuals and collections of individuals evolve.  For many evolutionary theorists, the environment is now a variable that influences the kind of progeny that are produced.  We need not be products of random variation any longer.

Still unexplored as a variable in evolution is a feature of existence considered inappropriate for study.  As we assimilate the power of the concepts of interdependence and environmental influence on biological transformation, that aspect of experience will likely emerge as a variable to be treated with respect.  Right now that aspect of experience is associated with mythology and religion.  The variable with potential to deepen our understanding of how biology, societies and individuals transform is awareness.

Modern science mostly has concluded that because awareness is not measurable, it should be ignored.  Though perceptible by an individual, consciousness is usually assigned to that basket of features of human beings that arose due to contingent circumstance.  Consciousness, along with other human characteristics, was useful, so it appeared.

Consider the possible benefits of a theory of evolution that integrates awareness or consciousness as a characteristic of existence that has structure and features and changes over time.

I have found it useful, when theorizing, to presuppose that consciousness has always existed.  This is not about storytelling and assigning mythological motifs.  The issue is whether the presupposition is useful.  Does it provide any leverage to form explanations that offer an ability to predict the future or make connections between formerly unrelated concepts?  In other words, does presupposing universal awareness usefully deepen our understanding of our world or ourselves?

Regarding evolution, I believe that assuming that awareness or consciousness exists as a ground or foundation beneath biological evolution offers theorizing benefits.

Assuming that consciousness is embedded in biology, I look for subtlety, complexity, elegance and uniqueness as features of the overriding system.  Consciousness is characterized, from a human perspective, by a conversation between creativity and appreciation, yang and yin, proliferation and nuance, rate and timing.  By presupposing that consciousness exists, we look for interconnection, intuiting relationship, assuming a tendency to balance.  Instead of looking for hierarchy, we look for nested hierarchy (each level embracing the one below) with hierarchy violating interconnections.  If there are barriers to be broken, we search for evidence of breaches.  Anomalies are not just suggestions of broken models but are themselves evidence of a thriving system.  Integral to understanding how things work is how they play.  Novelty is a desired outcome.

Unlike our traditional, transcendent god with a desire to intervene, this is an immanent force with a compulsion to play.  This may be a force totally without certain features of human awareness characterized by split consciousness, which we might describe as the ability to be two places at once, two times at once, with an imagination capable of intuiting an opposite.  Prehuman biological awareness may feature what Freud called primary process:  one time, one place, no negatives.  This may not be creative consciousness as humans understand creative consciousness but something far simpler, yet unfathomably more powerful.

How does this apply to evolution?

What if the consciousness featured by our great ape cousins and early hominids is a form of consciousness equivalent to an individual’s manifestation of the overall general awareness, similar to sleep?  Then, brains split.  The two cerebral hemispheres grew to communicate poorly with each other, with one hemisphere having developed something wholly unique, an ability to assign gestural communication to speech.  With the split, a separation characterized by one cerebral hemisphere growing smaller than the other and the brain bridge corpus callosum accepting less traffic, each human became two humans.  This provided an ability to exercise personal imagination, featuring a knack to be two places at once, two times at once and an ability to imagine something and its opposite.  At night, when dreaming, we return to primary consciousness, great ape consciousness, when we can only be in a single place or time, unable to imagine another place or time without actually being there, along with an inability to imagine something not being.

This is a story.  The question is:  Can useful stories or theories be derived from a shift in presuppositions?  By making believe that awareness is not important when theorizing about biological and human evolution, we constrain our results to include only those conclusions that do not support consciousness as an unimportant variable.  Perhaps we should consider the alternative.  The benefits might include our being able to detect patterns in experience not obvious if we believe certain patterns can’t exist.

With the emergence of evolutionary developmental biology as a theorizing framework that offers interdependence and environment as variables important to understanding evolution, we have a bridge concept that clears the way to embracing the idea that interconnection and environment are features of a model that include additional concepts such as consciousness and play.

Perhaps with time, embracing play, we will become like children.  Maybe it is by playing that we can only truly understand.

Mysticism is largely about shifting identity. There are techniques–strategies and tactics–that encourage opportunities to identify at levels alternative to what occurs within one person’s body or one’s imagination. When the opportunities appear, an individual can choose to identify with something different from himself or herself.

People are engaging in such opportunities across society. Mysticism could not be further from their minds.

There was a time in our species’ past, perhaps not so very long ago, maybe as few as 3,000 generations ago, when our experience was not characterized by individuality. One of the several profound differences between then and now was that then we had a far less concise idea of the passing of time. This was true socially and biologically. Socially things just did not change much. There were no fads or fashions. Progress as a concept is barely 250 years old, let alone tens of thousands.

Biologically our brains were not sorting in a narrative, sequential path. When narrative reality emerged and spoken language acquired the ability to parse out past from present and present from future, we acquired individuality at the same evolutionary moment. With our ability to disassociate in time we were also able to imagine disassociation in space or being a different person. Empathy, envy and the other theory of mind emotions are evident in our great ape cousins. Yet, with the emergence of language and time, a depth was added to our ability to identify with the other that has a lot to do with our relationship with the future, our survival as a species and an exploration of what it means to have identity.

We started out with little language, no sense of time, no identity. We grew to become adept at speech, with a powerful sense of time, with identity. Nevertheless, without making the choice to at least on occasion not have identity, or shift identity to experience consciousness on an expanded scale, our powerful sense of time is hobbled by difficulties viewing the future as a commons, a group holding, a possession of something-larger-than-the-self.

Consider time as a territory with the future as the commons. To survive, it is necessary that we pay close attention to where our resources are stored. Paradoxically, they are stored in the future. That is where our descendants live.

This alternative path toward understanding time suggests an emerging new, third way of experiencing self. The commons is sacred space. The future is our commons. To know this we need an expanded sense of self, a shift in identity.

Whereas we started with little or no sense of self before language, with language and culture we’ve acquired a clear sense of self, of time and of that which is within our personal control. The third place, the synthesis of the first two in a sense, involves an expanded sense of self, which is very different from the no sense of self, yet they are related. We’re going from no time, to time, to yes time. We’re evolving to a place where the future can feel familiar as we intuit our connection with people and an earth that does not yet exist.

This is more than an exercise of imagination.

The opportunity we are creating to make that transition has an enormous amount to do with the new online and cell phone communications technologies. We are shifting identity. We are tying together narcissism and mass cooperation, two distinctly different identity levels, expanding our personal boundaries to include the information received from countless others.

Our defined self is being redefined to include self and others.

The next step is to cross the boundary of time.

When tens of millions of people buy SUVs because they see friends buying SUVs and they see SUV commercials telling them to do so, they are responding to one-to-many communications media commands within a consumer economy that congregates profits in the hands of those that control the communications. We are encouraged to be selfish and not think of the future. Exercising a sense of time only insofar as it offers immediate or delayed results to be experienced by the self gets us only part way to where we have to go.

New communications technologies are expanding our sense of self. Along with that our sense of time is changing. The future is ceasing to be a place that we steal from to satisfy a limited self. The future is becoming our vastest commons, offering literally infinite resources to integrate into our expanded sense of self.

While doing so we are redefining mysticism. Spirituality is acquiring another name. Spirituality now has nothing to do with mythology. Shifting identity is the name of what is now a social game.

The Quick Read

July 24, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Society, Web

Just finished a quick read, A Short History of Progress, by Ronald Wright.  At first, I found the work annoying.  An approximately 70-page overview of human history discussed none of the competing paradigms but stuck with the conventional default view of history.  An overview observing competing theories would be interesting, but that was not Wright’s goal.  After the ~70-page set-up, he started talking about environmental destruction.

What Wright did is set up a playing field to discuss various ways we may choose to destroy ourselves.  It is a sort of CliffsNotes version of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel plus Collapse without the erudition, insight or sense of doom.

One of the more interesting parts of the book is Wright’s comparison of Sumer and the Easter Islands with the ancient Greeks and Romans.  In Sumer and the Easter Islands, they destroyed themselves, possibly without the knowledge of how they were doing so or without a civic structure to stop the process, but the ancient Greeks and Romans observed how specifically they were agriculturally compromising their future.  The Greeks and Romans did not act to stop the self destruction.

The drama that we, more than six billion people, are in the midst of now is one where our natural inclination to act like our present behaviors have no future repercussions competes with a proliferation of communications technologies that place high quality knowledge in the hands of those that can most use that knowledge to moderate our tendency to ignore the future.

From my perspective, we are engaged in a race to produce hybrid human beings.

I’ve hypothesized that humans 4,000 generations or so ago were matrifocal, mostly anomalously dominant (both cerebral hemispheres were the same size) and largely primary process thinkers.  As primary process thinkers we were not so much engaged in ruminations on the past or imagining the future.  We did not tend to devour resources because we were not dividing the world into narrative interpretations that could be easily broken down into cause and effect.  We were in the present.  Life was very horizontal.  We were associative thinkers.  We were vulnerable.

Along came cerebral lateralization, early childhood synapse-pruning of the left hemisphere and a diminution of the corpus callosum.  Right-handedness proliferated.  We became facile with time, emerging from the dreamlike world of primary process to be able to easily estimate the effects of our actions.  We became narrative thinkers.  Observing the patterns of our surroundings, we developed an ability to predict those patterns, store what we learned and use that information to accomplish personal goals, with an emphasis on the word “personal.”  With the new patrifocal paradigm individuality emerged.  Even with an ability to predict the future, there was little attention provided to repercussions of present actions because the people in the future affected by present action had no relationship, no connection with the people in the now.

Thesis:  People living in cooperative communities with relatively few negative effects upon their environment, associative thinkers with little sense of individuality, little hierarchy, everything is transparent, what you see is what you get.

Antithesis:  People living in competitive mass societies with widespread environmental degradation, narrative thinkers reveling in cults of individuality, stratification, secrecy, the congregation of information into protected professions, the segregation of ethnicities, information and resource access.

Synthesis:  The merging of a sensitivity to time with an ability to experience the now.  A collapsing of hierarchies that feature secrecy and segregation by transforming information distribution from a pyramid model to a horizontal web or grid with no single source of information storage or control.  Instead of associational or narrative frames of reference, you integrate both together in a context where one can both imagine the future and experience the repercussions, feeling the estimated repercussions as useful information informing present behavior.  Instead of viewing the commons as a place where the individual acquires assets, the individual becomes respected for his or her contribution to the commons.

The problem I had reading Wright’s book is that it was all narrative, no association.  Without an understanding of what we humans are outside what we sequentially have been engaged in, there is little ability for us to feel our way into the future.  Paradoxically, we modern humans, with all our narrative strengths, spend little time exploring our past, back when we were not narrative thinkers, or the future when we may learn how to integrate the two thinking paradigms.

We have imaginations.  It’s time to brainstorm what we will be like when we’ve learned how to live within our world.

Medium is the Message II

July 14, 2009 | 2 Comments

Category: Society, Web

More and more work is emerging that is noting the influence of the Internet on society as regards the web as a communications media informing how we view the world.

This is a process rather than language version of the Sapir/Whorf hypothesis that the structure of the process through which information is disseminated deeply influences the content that is shared.

Marshall McLuhan understood and communicated that different media suggested different solutions to the problems that society wrestles with.  One-to-many media in a hierarchical society limit an ability to consider horizontal, many-to-many solutions.  There are specific problems created by allegiance to specific media, problems particularly difficult to deconstruct in an environment committed to those specific media.

One-to-many media encourage apathy and a belief that we as individuals can only have a limited effect.  This helplessness keeps hierarchical societies stratified.

The Internet encourages an experience of personal empowerment by offering individuals an ability to achieve goals and communicate in fashions that result in change.  There is a not so subtle realignment of orientation to identifying with a group as a means to specific ends.  On the web, becoming a member of a group is quick and seamless.  Achieving ends becomes quick and seamless.  The deification of the individual that accompanies one-to-many communications (note the incredible number of TV ads hawking individuality) becomes unnecessary in an Internet environment where the individual actually feels empowered by associations with conglomerations.  It’s all about the commons.

The Internet is fostering what the Republicans call socialism.  The media transformation is changing the political landscape along with how we process information and interpret content.

My guess is that the future will look somewhat like how Scandinavia is embracing the new media.  It is a society with a politic prepared to understand and utilize a horizontal, transparent and diverse media.  Look there first for where we’re going.  An Icelandic lesbian female head of state seems a reasonable direction to be headed as barriers come down and anything that is possible can be discussed.  There are few barriers in many-to-many communications.

There are many books and blogs out there on the seismic media/social/political shift that we are experiencing.  Too much attention can’t be provided to how the structure of the new media changes the structure of society and the way that an individual experiences self.  The medium is the message.

Susan Boyle

July 11, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Society, Web

At a gathering of a group of seven friends in April, folks in their 40s to 60s, someone mentioned the Susan Boyle video.  Everyone had seen it after being directed to it by other friends.  On that particular day, over 35 million people had viewed the most popular version of the video.

I was deeply moved by the piece as had been the other people in the discussion.  There seemed numerous layers to the production.  We began parsing out some of those layers as have millions since Susan Boyle appeared that night.

There was a lifting of veils on several levels, usually characterized by a reversal of expectations.

Most obviously there was the ugly duckling story.  Expectations were flipped completely as an expectation of the mundane was replaced by an experience of the exceptional.

There was the participation in a sadistic ritual of expecting to observe the destruction of someone’s dear dream to instead becoming aware that we had been participating in a sadistic ritual.  The power of Boyle’s art ripped away the very context that had created the opportunity for her performance to occur.

A deep congruence emerged in her performance that is perhaps so rare as to be almost unfathomable.  The song she chose was a presentation of the moment she was in, lyrics perfectly pacing the context of the execution of her talent.  I’ve never seen American Idol or the other variations of this show.  For me, it was a new experience to view and hear someone so vulnerable with a particular dream singing about being vulnerable with that dream.  She seemed to be singing about the very moment she was in.

We were not just observing a talented performance; we were observing an artfully produced video portraying a community engaged in unanimous consent.  The video piece I saw was highly produced with cutaway views of judges and other participants offering several variations of astonishment, from exuberance to epiphany.  The audience erupted in approbation before Boyle had finished a single line.  Contributing to Boyle’s talent was the skill of the producers of the short piece along with the universal adoration expressed by those present at the event.  For example, after Boyle’s performance the background music guided us on what to feel.

As an online video, it allowed us to listen/watch multiple times.  The piece was short, allowing easy entrance from our daily routine.  It was easy to share with folks we know, creating millions of bridges among friends in the middle of the day.

The Susan Boyle video was an obvious next step in the transformation of modern culture as we have now moved from one-to-many television media creations of shared societal experiences to many-to-many online sharings.  Starting with the Kennedy assassination, last occurring with the Obama inauguration speech, media has been encouraging mass experience, nurturing large shared contexts that attract us.  We are now crossing a line where what is created in a media/art hybrid is distributed not by corporations but through the actions of individuals.  Individuals have created video that has acquired followings of millions.  The Boyle piece is a harbinger of things to come.  It will not be long before a video garners a billion viewers.  That video will not be made by a corporation.

In a very real way, American Idol and other shows allowing voting by the viewer from their home are shows making significant contributions to the empowerment of the population.  People are becoming used to feeling good as part of a community that is having an effect.  What we influence as part of a corporate media entertainment vehicle is insignificant.  What we are learning about what feels good as part of a larger group is compelling.  Combine the spontaneous sharing of what makes us feel good with an expectation that we can have a positive influence and you achieve something that looks very much like Susan Boyle looked before she stepped out on that stage.

Susan Boyle manifested the optimism, exuberance, creativity and confidence of the very young, a stage in our development usually quashed by life and circumstance.  The rituals of American Idol and its variations are built around a sadism born of deep disappointment.  We experience sadistic satisfaction while observing the loss of innocence, the violation of trust that we all experienced when we transitioned out of the Susan Boyle space.  It is a sadistic satisfaction with roots in rage and grief.  We carry this loss throughout our lives.  Sometimes it manifests as compassion.  Sometimes as sadism.  Observing Susan Boyle before her performance, we had a direct window into the soul of the child that expects success because he or she feels the success within her.

It is a feeling we are beginning to experience across society.  It is an experience we are learning to share.

The experience of younger children living life within a world that embraces and respects them is becoming a social and political reality of adults when vehicles like the Internet and social networking allow an exponential increase in our idea of community while permitting a sharing of our experiences online.  The Susan Boyle video offered a lifting of veils on several levels, not the least of which is an opportunity to view our child self as healed, revered adult performer along with an inkling of what our future society holds.

In Nicaragua in the 1980s, deaf children were collected in schools where they could be taught together in one location.  They had developed individually various sign conventions, and a language spontaneously emerged where they were gathered in one place.  The oldest children learned this language slowest.  The youngest developed lightning fast sign fluency in this brand new nonverbal creole lingo.

One of the things that makes humans unique is this ability to play with time.  Language, by prying apart the present into a future and past, offers an ability to imagine being in two places at once.  Language lets you realize that the person you are communicating with is a different person, with the rather astonishing insight that the world is not just here and now.

There was a time when we were animals, experiencing the world through an infinitely lingering present, unclear on the boundaries between self and others, where dream was not only night but the every day.

Animals may not have developed humor exactly, but they have fun.  Animals don’t generate and participate in symbolic language, but they play.  Animals that have fun and play are mostly young animals.  Consider that human humor and language, two things characterized by abstract thinking that involves deep intuitions for variations in time and place, have their origin in the play behavior of the very young.

Think of those tiny Nicaraguan children effortlessly synthesizing and systemizing a wholly new language from the behaviors of the children that surrounded them.  You can bet that they were having fun.

Play is symbolic.  Play is the precursor to the symbolic behaviors that follow that include humor, language and abstract thinking.  Play has its origins with the young.  Perhaps play is the foundation of what it is to be human.

Where does play come from?

I would like to suggest that in the womb we are not just growing larger following a genetic template to only revel in the fun after being born.  Consider that while in the womb, we are engaged in deep play as genetics interact with the environment, constructing unique growth pathways while weighing the varying options made available.  Play in a sense is to practice, being here and now while being either far away, older, having a different emotion, being a different person….play is to be both what is and what might be.  In the womb we are engaged in an unfathomable play that is exploring an almost infinite number of ways to be grown-up.

Again, consider those Nicaraguan toddlers outgesturing every other child in the school.  How is it that the youngest have the deepest intuition for possibility?

Perhaps because the younger we are, the closer we are to creation.

Behemoth Google

July 7, 2009 | 1 Comment

Category: Society, Web

I’ve been a search engine optimization professional since 1999.  I get paid more for this than anything else I specifically know how to do.  It requires no tech savvy (I am technologically impaired) but primarily an awareness of pattern, the implication of those patterns as regards to strategy, and flexibility of behavior.

Muddling through how Google works for a decade, I’ve made discoveries, changed my behavior and watched the results.  Google responds to changes that optimizers make.  Optimizers modify their behaviors.  Over the years what I do to make possible high rankings for my clients, and my own sites, becomes more and more limited to what I believe Google will not penalize in the future.  Often, behavior that Google rewarded at one point in this evolution Google turned around and penalized at a later time.  Though I am very good at what I do, much continues to confuse me.  I have concluded that Google uses random variables in its algorithm to make its behavior less predictable.  That’s what I would do.  I continue to make discoveries regarding what works best, often by accident.  I notice a site doing particularly well, a site subject to some particular linking strategy, traffic pattern, coding anomaly or other effect.

It fascinates me how this process influences search, this process involving two very large groups of people competing to achieve complementary, yet often competing, goals.

We are only at the beginning of search technology.  The process unfolds in the larger context of the horizontalization of society and the amateurization of a number of professions.  As barriers collapse across society, search offers us access to information formerly available to select groups of individuals.

Consider all academic text, all papers and journal contributions available for anyone to browse.  Optimizers like myself might be hired to make available to the public at large, amateurs everywhere, information formerly available only to an academic subdiscipline.  How a web page is coded and linked may influence the following a particular theory might accumulate.  Battles for academic supremacy might spill out into the Internet instead of taking place exclusively on journal pages, at conferences and in departmental political debates.

In other words, I am hired by firms seeking to make money by having their websites achieve high rankings.  In this new world we are entering, consumers may be joined by human beings with particular ideas and aesthetics with specific goals. Those creative individuals that are able to use search to promote new ideas and works of art may find that their ability to achieve rankings for their productions may deeply influence the acceptance of what they produce.

Whereas at this time Google seeks to mitigate the impact of optimizers that make adjustments to achieve a particular client-based goal, how does Google adjust to the disappearance of all search barriers, opening up the Internet to intense competition in art and ideas?

At this time, Google is deciding to place heavy emphasis on widely accepted, large corporations when weighing which of several sites to rank highest.  Regarding the world of ideas, to engage in that same process would serve to stifle the new life and new ideas that will emerge.

What can Google do to encourage innovation?  Right now it seems to be leaning toward protecting established conventions.

I don’t have an answer to this.  But, if Google stays in the business of tearing down barriers, then perhaps it will learn how to encourage the emergence of the wholly new.

It does not seem like a good idea to invest in that which you wish to see fail.  Such mixed feelings are not useful when it comes to money.

The American Left is filled with incongruities and the occasional hypocrisy that comprise any large movement or social group.  Made up of dozens of subgroups, the American Left can’t be said to hold too many positions that are universal among its followers.  One of those controversial positions, a position not often discussed, is the relationship between that section of the Left seeking profound systemic economic transformation and the Left that has a 401(k), IRA or other investments.  Often, a single person may seek both deep economic evolution and profits from investments.

One-half of such a person roots for the destruction of the Dow; the other half desperately seeks the stock market’s return to health.

I have more than a few friends that seek a sustainable, environmentally sound world economy that cares for the starving and makes health care available to all.  With the United States absorbing 25% of the world’s nonrenewable resources, deep systemic transformation needs to be characterized by an end of business as we know it.  Clearly, this has to happen quickly, within a generation, to protect our planet.  This portion of the Left experiences exultation that our consumer economy is suffering.  This sizable percentage of the Left feels that an opportunity for transformation has emerged.

Yet, many of these Leftists are in their 50s and 60s, and their life savings are disappearing as the months limp by.

This spring, I stood outside at a demonstration when a troubled colleague, a radical by any definition, turned to me and asked if I had investments and how they were faring.  We radicals don’t voice the feeling that we are engaging in hypocrisy by demanding change while investing in the system we seek to see transformed.  Still, I perceive chagrin.  To both have assets to protect while demanding that the system be vulnerable to deep systemic evolution that will destroy the established status quo is not an easy balance to maintain.

One of the biggest problems of the Left at this time is that without a Hegelian Marxism there is little shared idea of what the ideal future offers.  It is easy to pick out the horrors we seek redressed, the injustices that can be offered peace and respect.  It is far more difficult to understand where exactly we would like to be in a generation or two as regards how a world economy would look and behave.  We are familiar with a consumer goosed to own more than the planet can reasonably provide.  We have invested in an economy founded on those principles.  Maybe if the Left disinvested in the economy we wish to see vanish, it would be easier to envision the world we work to make.

It does not seem like a good idea to invest in an economy you wish to fail.  For the Left, it is time to get clear on the world we seek to be.

Prolongation

June 6, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Future, Neoteny, Society

In China, there is something like nine wholly different languages using the same writing system, unlike Europe where you have many similar languages using a similar language system.  A result is that in China, over a billion people can understand what people from other groups write but not what they say.

Over three billion people have cell phones.  Companies like Nokia are designing phones for the market of people that make about $4 a day.  There is not yet a universal language of communication, but there may soon be a universal communications interface that offers an ability to understand what any other person is saying.

I have a friend, a Florida Jewish commercial fisherman with a grouper vessel in the Gulf, who conducted a romance with a Mexican woman mostly by the Internet.  She spoke only Spanish.  Martin spoke only English.  They communicated by email, translating each other’s words using Internet translation software.  They are now married with a son.

Consider a world language, perhaps iconic and very basic, which allows all peoples to communicate.  It could be a language not unlike the Chinese characters universal to that culture.  It may not be necessary with translation software.  But if invented, it might be something children would embrace, particularly those children participating in many-culture multiplayer virtual communities.

Clearly, it is becoming easier to communicate.

Consider that the anecdotal evidence that our young men are taking longer to grow up is not just the grumblings of older generations.  Neoteny, or the prolongation of younger stages of ontogeny or growth into older stages over time, is a central feature of contemporary society.  Play is not just for children anymore.  Our young adults are spending sizable amounts of time playing with new technologies, technologies that enhance the neotenous perspective; they are egalitarian, horizontal, diverse and transparent.

In other words, there is a juxtaposition of new technologies with a new humanity.  People are becoming both more communicative and more capable of communication as people biologically transform, bringing early childhood stages of language acquisition capabilities into older stages where new communications technologies are being embraced.

Consider also that as these facilities with language prolong from early childhood to young adults, the profound, pervasive and natural creativity, affection and attraction to connection that characterize our small children will be more and more evidencing itself in our older youth.  As adult individuals neotenize, so will our societies, reflecting in their structures and conventions our modified human beings.

It is said that to see the future you have only to look at our children.  Might it be the case that the actual features of our children may be the future of our adults?

There is a not politically correct notion that the individuals that make up ancient aboriginal societies are different from contemporary humans.  It is usually assumed that they are different as in less evolved, less intelligent or less capable.  It depends on whom you talk to or what you’re reading.

The American philosopher Ken Wilber attempts to take this issue head on, repackaging the 100-year-old four-fold parallelism that equates human evolution, societal evolution, individual ontogeny and an individual’s psychology.  Wilber does not frame the differences between an individual in an aboriginal society vs. an individual in modern society in negative terms, but seeks to unpack the features of various stages of growth and show how these stages manifest on a number of different scales.  Growth, transformation, evolution, all these aspects of how life manifests over time, display pattern.  Those patterns can be described.  Ken Wilber seeks to describe how those patterns manifest in human society.

My personal focus is the influence of sexual selection on social structure mediated by changes in the rates of maturation.  The patterns I focus on are very specific.  Still, I focus on biology, society, ontogeny and personal experience, the four-fold parallelism.  Wilber is more general in his approach, preferring to show THAT there is a connection rather than HOW the connection operates.  Wilber also focuses heavily on religion and spirituality.  I pretty much stick with Zen.

I’ve written a little bit on similarities between Hopi and Trobriand Islander language structures.  Both have a heavy emphasis on the present tense and both are matrifocal societies.  Two societies a pattern does not make.  So, my research assistants, Rosanna and Elia, are conducting a survey of almost one hundred matrifocal or matrilineal societies across the world, looking for patterns.  The variables we’re tracking are not often studied or noted in the societies we’re exploring.  I want to know rates of left-handedness, twinning percentages, disease and condition proclivities and languages with tense anomalies.

It would also be interesting to know their mythological motifs, myth structures, rituals, societal bans, morays and varying idiosyncrasies.  That’s how I got into this almost 14 years ago.  Fascinated by the origin of dragon myths, I ended up studying ancient serpent myths, finding myself studying ancient matrifocal societies.  Seeking to understand the nature of the transition to our contemporary patrifocal societies from our hypothetical matrifocal roots is how I ended up studying human evolution.  It was through our stories that I began that journey.

At this point in my studies, I’m thinking there IS a major difference between the humans living in our still existing, ancient matrifocal aboriginal societies and what we would call modern humans living in the industrialized world.  I suspect these differences have a neurological, physical and behavioral foundation.  I also suspect that an exploration of the relationship between primary process, which might also be called dream consciousness (one time, one place, no negatives), and autism might be useful as we seek to understand autism and conditions characterized by maturational delay.

If our matrifocal aboriginals experience waking life in some ways like we experience dream, if primary process is familiar to their waking experience or at least very accessible, then perhaps these aboriginals can offer us some wisdom and perspective regarding the surge of individuals familiar with primary process in waking life in the modern world, what we call autism.

It may not be politically correct to equate aboriginals with autistics, but consider that if there is a relationship, then the relationship suggests that a portion of modern society is drifting back to where we started mere tens of thousands of years ago.

Consider that modern times may be crossing a line whereby our future may have much in common with our past.  This might suggest our evolution may be more characterized by a spiral than a linear pathway.  We may be swooping around to a position with much in common with the last time we rounded this bend on the spiral highway.

Our aboriginal colleagues may be in a position to teach us some important things about autism, beginning with:  How do you raise an autistic child?  If a society facile with a landscape characterized by primary process might be integral to a child’s feeling at home within autism, then perhaps we should be observing tribal society closely.

Estimating which society is more advanced becomes an odd notion in our unique, transforming world where time seems in some ways to be changing its direction.

In the United States, we hold societal allegiance to the concept of independence with a reverence for the entrepreneur.  We carry a unifying belief that each hero walks a separate path.  We express confidence that the individual reigns supreme.

We all fervently believe each person should act upon his or her own unique beliefs.

Different authors and theorists have written on how they think this unique paradigm emerged.  Robert Pirsig suggests that American colonists unconsciously embraced indigenous aboriginal character traits, what looked like self-confident, autonomous competence.  I’ve suggested in other pieces on this blog that the youngest sons and daughters were impacted by the influence of old world primogenitor laws.  These landless immigrants were encouraged to congregate in the New World.  (See my hypothesis to review why the youngest would be the most creative.)

There is a paradox that lies at the foundation of what it is to be American that connects to a paradox regarding the youngest son and daughter and the bridge between the youngest children and aboriginal societies.

It can all be summed up in rock ‘n’ roll.

In the early 1960s, with the emergence of undisguised African aboriginal rhythms in modern music, after several decades of their exploration in jazz, we as a society experienced an adulterated neotenization of older societal archetypes into contemporary society, not unlike the biological principle of neoteny where the infant features of our chimpanzee-like forebears prolonged themselves to appear in the adult of their descendants, modern humans.  Just as our species biologically has delayed in maturation over millions of years, society at this time is revealing the same dynamic.  That which is ancient is manifesting in the present day.  Rock ‘n’ roll is but one feature of our ancestors’ society emerging in contemporary times.

This comes with two seemingly contrasting features:  a deep reverence for creativity and a reflexive connection to community.

Emerging modern society, as split as it often seems and feels, is twisting its way around to acquire many of the features of our aboriginal roots.  The United States has led the way in many ways by being a place where the creatives come together, youngest sons and daughters of Old World immigrants mixed with those of aboriginal African descent.

What emerges is a society not bound by ethnicity but by its reverence for celebrating difference.  Innovation becomes the currency of respect.

I’m wrestling with the concept as I write these words, flummoxed by the paradoxical nature of the insight.  As highly stratified, hierarchical and patrifocal as American society seems to be, there also seems to be an argument that the United States is at the vanguard of a surge in innovation and creativity that will result in a horizontal community of creative innovators that embrace interdependence and a reverence for the commons.

We already hold egalitarian truths to be sacred.  All that’s left is to wrest control of assets from the elites.  By reassigning our reverence for the entrepreneur to the creative innovator, the artist, we retain our universal respect for he or she that stands out while making sure that he or she stands out for contributions to the whole.

We often fear the future because it holds so much that is unknown.  Consider that with the neotenization of society, the future may feature many characteristics of the past.  Aboriginal music may become Youtube hits.  Ongoing ritualized creativity may become the norm.  Craft may re-emerge in life.

That which is unique about America may metamorphosize and become that which becomes unique about our species:  a reverence for the individual that makes a creative contribution to the whole.

The administration is not yet thinking in terms of new institutions as it seeks places to invest borrowed dollars.  In the way they are spending some budgeted dollars, they seem to sense that the Internet is integral to future solutions, but the government seems unsure how exactly the Internet can be integral to job creation and a stable, healthy society.  In the previous piece, I show how government-supported Internet news gathering, production and distribution can form the foundation for a vibrant new societal institution.  Consider that government-supported online education can form the foundation for new institutions essential to a healthy, creative, secure, educated society.

A number of studies have come to the conclusion that the strength of a teacher’s talents for performing her or his job has more to do with the quality of a teacher’s education than any other single variable.  Bill Gates, Obama and others have emphasized the importance of training and maintaining excellent educators.  Consider that we open up this process to the web.

I’ve watched several hundred hours of college course lectures by the outstanding lecturers videotaped by The Teaching Company.  I watch and listen to these performers while exercising in the morning.  I’ve listened to an untold number of audio tape books and lectures while traveling by car.  I’ve received the equivalent of several additional college degrees of information while engaged in exercise or transportation.  Almost any of these educators were better at communicating content succinctly than the professors teaching similar subjects when I was in college.  Many of these video lectures are superb.  Somehow I slipped through four years of an undergraduate education that I adored without establishing rapport with a single professor whose work I respected.  I often designed independent studies.  I found a faculty sponsor and studied a particular subject on my own.  Classes bored me.  The passion I experienced in my chosen subjects was not uncovered by enlightened teachers, but by myself.

We can open up the education of Americans to Internet interactions with the very best teachers by producing video that can be distributed on the web.  This would be a government-supported program.  Highly rated teachers would lecture on tape at government expense.  Available on the web, these videos would be rated by number of visitors, relative popularity of subject and the test scores of viewers at the end-of-course evaluations.  Evaluations would be conducted at real-time, centrally located, physical locations with human test monitors.

All video courses would be free.  All testing would be free.  Teachers would be remunerated by the federal government based upon a formula taking into consideration base pay, Internet popularity relative to subject and student test results.

Courses requiring labs would not be conducted on the web.  Courses with small class sizes offering student/teacher interactions that train students in the art of brainstorming, human interaction and rapport could not be outsourced to the web.  Much that is done now that suppresses the emergence of great teachers would disappear when those with excellence are also Internet celebrities.  By integrating the Internet with superb lecture skills, offering a “wisdom of crowds” evaluative procedure, with funding by the federal government to make possible the wide distribution of quality information, we can achieve a stunning increase in the number of people empowered by their education.

This would be a brand new educational institution serving high schools and colleges, funded by the federal government, with testing facilities across the country.  Integrated with brick-and-mortar institutions, this federal web education program could employ amateurs, teachers without professional qualifications, if the lectures designed by an independent amateur academic are approved by a qualified professional.  Imagine a proliferation of astonishingly entertaining lectures imparting high quality information leading to high student scores.  Imagine professional performers, comedians even, memorizing lectures written by established academicians.  They could work together to create an astonishing production and receive wages for their work.

Then consider the emergence of free lance lectures by outlaw academics and amateurs.  No testing would be available.  Yet, with the proliferation of high quality information across the web, there would be a place for unorthodox perspectives pitched to a community intimate with learning from the net.

There are few pleasures that go deeper or last longer than absorbing the wholly new, integrating it with what was already understood and experiencing an unexpected synthesis.  The federal government can encourage this process, provide jobs, build new institutions and make dramatic contributions to the economic health of this country and the world.

It comes down to encouraging great teaching with new communications technologies.

Make knowledge free.  Understanding will follow.

Conversations at the dinner table when I was small revolved around money and psychodynamic motivation.  Freud was king in the mostly Jewish, northern Chicago suburbs in the 1950s and early 60s.  At least, among my family.  Fourth-generation German and Russian Jews, we had had no bar mitzvahs for more than 100 years.  I remembering telling my Christian friends that there were four kinds of Jews:  Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed and Commercial.  We were Commercial.

No member of my family had ever finished college, with the exception of some distant cousins.  Our family tree had been dramatically pruned by WWII.  My mother’s and father’s families would gather together on the two great holidays, Christmas and Thanksgiving.  My father’s only brother died around 1950, not quite a college graduate from Northwestern.  He had spina bifida.  My mom’s sisters were children.  So, it was the identical group of people gathering every year.  There was no sibling competition to go other places.  Both sets of grandparents had only one set of grandchildren.  I was the first born.  I was male.  I was the cat’s pajamas.

Mental illness was a popular avocation amongst the adults I was in contact with.  My father’s mother had borderline personality disorder in an exaggerated form.  Mom was manic depressive, institutionalized periodically.  Dad displayed benign forms of OCD.  My mom’s dad killed himself shortly before I was born (upon hearing the news my mother was getting married).  He was manic depressive.  There is Asperger’s in my family.  I have a bi-polar sister.  I lived in a zoological menagerie of human mental derivations from the norm.

I started talking when I was three.  I was kept an additional year in nursery school before entering kindergarten.  There was no religion in our household.  There was little philosophy.  My memories emerge in a world with one powerful presupposition.  There was a belief that one’s unconscious informs all of one’s experience.  All behavior is created by hidden motivations.  What was discussed in my family was making money, and Freud.

I was fascinated by making money.  I was plagued by Freud.  That money bought stuff seemed far less relevant than all the ways that one could make money.  It was a game.  That people were compelled to behave in the ways that they did for good reasons, reasons often beyond our understanding, made the world make sense, even if the sense was inaccessible.  This was not so much a game.  There seemed constant repercussions resulting from the behaviors created by these invisible motivations.

I grew up in a household where both my mother and father were in psychoanalysis.  As they explored their own childhoods, they punctuated my sisters’ and my experiences with evaluations based upon Freudian dynamics.  Everything my sisters and I did was based upon unconscious compulsions.

We were a nonreligious house filled with talk of forces deeply involved with our inner lives, forces often beyond our ability to impact, but forces nonetheless influencing our every move and utterance.  Clearly, the lives of those around me were being buffeted by gale force winds beyond their conscious control.  I wanted to know what made the winds blow.

Until The Enlightenment and Modernity, we worshipped the gods as the hidden forces that made our world move.  With Freud and the 20th century, many of us shifted focus to the unconscious.  I suspect a synthesis is in our future that integrates the two.  Either concept by itself leaves a half world out.  Believing in only one or the other still places wisdom somewhere other than the self.

We can’t afford to continue to assign wisdom and responsibility to an inaccessible source.

To live in an integrated, transparent, horizontal world, we need immanent access to those forces that inform our lives.  It’s time for god to stop being somewhere else, be it in the world or in our heads.  It might be useful if we redefine god as being here and now.

I grew up with suburban gods.  I look forward to the new gods on the way.

Waking Up To Dream

April 19, 2009 | 1 Comment

Category: Future, Society, Unconscious, Web

What evidence is there that aboriginal dream consciousness is re-emerging into modern global culture?  In what ways might our society be taking the ship of state below the surface to deep waters mostly familiar to the artist, the mystic and child?

As society becomes more horizontal, exhibiting neoteny, there will be a prolonging of features of the infant into the adult, the aboriginal into modern society, with those that are on the fringes, such as people in poverty, ethnic minorities, artists, musicians and the Left, moving toward the conventional center.

There are the perhaps obvious signs of societal transformation seen in the dramatic increases in transparency, vast horizontal communications through new technologies via our youth and an astonishing surge in diversity as people across the world meet and communicate online.  We are observing Scandinavian economic and social support models heavily influencing the American economic transformation.  Scandinavians, both sexes, exhibit neoteny.  I don’t note any enhancement of dream consciousness or the influence of dream on their everyday.  But I am observing something very similar.

If features of dream were to emerge into waking, not unlike the vision quests of American aboriginals or aboriginal Australians, how exactly would they manifest?

Alternative online worlds such as Second Life offer not exactly dream, but a shared alternative reality.  There are now several different massive multiplayer virtual worlds, including Entropia Universe, IMVU, There, Active Worlds, Kaneva, Moove and Red Light Center.  (See Wikipedia for details.)

One of the most robust of these online communities, Entropia Universe, was developed by a Swedish firm.  It is free, maintains its own currency pegged against the dollar, is profitable and growing.  Its number of registered participants is approaching one million.

Consider that the aboriginalization of modern society involves the integration of virtual realities into waking life.  I would also expect a dramatic diminution in reading (reading during dreaming is almost impossible) with a surge in computers with no keyboards but with an ability to interpret what you speak.  With a drop in literacy, there will be an increase in articulateness, with those with gifts in spoken word achieving a prominence impossible in a world where the written word was necessary to achieve status.

Signage will evolve to mostly imagery with a future global written language featuring mostly iconic images instead of written speech.  In China, many different languages share the same exact iconic writing system, allowing people to communicate in symbols with no ability to exchange spoken words.  Two generations from now, I expect there will be a universal written iconic language with many children growing up without an ability to read or write their own nation’s language.  Technology will make illiteracy chic.  Oralacy, as opposed to literacy will be in demand.

Applying the effects of ontogeny’s neoteny to a different scale, society, one can make predictions on how the future will transform.  Noting that dream or dream consciousness is a feature of the very young and of ancient matrifocal aboriginal societies, consider that dream is in the process of becoming integrated with current waking life.

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily….

The Unbush

April 16, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Society

I thought for a while that we’d come to the end of cult of personality politics.  I was hoping our species had grown past the point of projecting the ideal parent onto our political leaders.  The world has grown so complex and subtle that no leader seemed capable of manifesting the mythology of the Good Dad or Good Mom.  It has been my hope that we were taking responsibility for own lives, our own futures, by not making politics about some person that would make things better.

Then came Bush II.  Evidently, we still require powerful stories to make the hard choices.  Bush chose to make himself society’s Judas to whichever Democrat got elected after his second term.  Just as Hitler was the personality that resulted in the uniting of 27 countries, almost 15% of the world’s nations, into a single unit, Bush is serving as the mythic focus compelling the horizontalization of the planet.  Obama is the UnBush.  Bush, like Hitler, will be haunting us, guiding us for generations.  (I am not suggesting Bush is like Hitler in other aspects.)

And so Obama is obliged to propel us forward while dragging our projections that he is special.  Yet, he is unable to legislate the future without it being obvious to a large number of us that massive transformation is required.  Again, Hitler comes to mind.  After WWII, the European nations almost immediately began the process of unification, integrating universal health care and social security into their rebuilding solutions.  Free university education and free child care followed.  For Americans to be willing to shift to a sustainable lifestyle that respects the individual while revering the community will require a deep humbling of our reflexive, entitled perspective.

When the American psyche is lying on the ground, beat to insensibility, then it will accept the value of a society that guides and nurtures those that are lying on the ground, beat to insensibility.

I used to get severe migraine headaches and anxiety attacks.  Deep in pain and/or emotional distress, I’d find myself negotiating with whatever the forces were that set up the situation where I was having the painful or terrifying experience.  I assumed I did something to make it happen.  I assumed that there was something different I could do to make the experience go away.  Migraine internal conversations were often made up of pleas for information on what I should do differently.  I felt willing to do anything to make the pain and the anxiety go away.

Over time, I changed my diet, slept regular hours, exercised, stopped working nights and weekends, meditated regularly and looked to be with people that brought me joy.  It slowly dawned on me that the pair and terror were not about what I had to do differently to have the pain and terror go away.  What the pain and terror were encouraging me to experience was feeling joy.

Along with our adulation, Obama gets our expectation, an expectation that he will behave in a way that will get us what we had.  When we realize there is no going back, legislation will reflect the new horizontal perspective, the view acquired while lying on the ground.  To experience the societal version of joy we have to behave like lives have value.  I’m figuring that we will have to be almost insensible with pain and fear before we will walk that path.  The fact that we are still making believe the Good Leader will be the one to change things suggests we have chosen to go about this the hard way.

The hard way is making the changes on our own.

There is really no other path to joy.

It’s only been this year that I don’t feel a Cold War chill when the Evanston air raid sirens go off after snowstorms to alert the community that side street plowing is underway.  I grew up deeply impacted by the societal certainty that the world would end in nuclear conflagration. Polls from the 1960s showed the majority of Americans believed that the world would end in nuclear war.  The Cold War weighed upon my mind and my dreams when I was a child and a young man.  There was no sound more terrifying than the air raid sirens.  Practice on Tuesday mornings always, without exceptions, brought me the chill of terror.

An activist’s showing of Dr. Strangelove this last January was followed by a discussion.  It was taking place in Hyde Park, a few blocks from Obama’s home at the 57th Street Friends Building.  I chose not to watch the film; instead I read in the next room.  When I was young, I saw Dr. Strangelove, Fail-Safe and On the Beach.  These three films probably politicized me more than any other single event, as I was shifted left by forming an identity with a world I perceived as deeply threatened in a way that I felt deeply threatened.  Watching those movies was a terrifying experience in the 50s and 60s when they came out.  I did not feel a desire to revisit those feelings.

Listening to the movie just outside the door, I scanned academic bibliographies for theory leads.  I was not jolted by what I heard in the next room.  It’s taken almost 50 years, but I no longer feel haunted by the bomb.

I stepped back into the room for the finale of the movie and the discussion.  The discussion was a shock.

Many of the people in the room expressed the experience that the movie now was terrifying for them whereas it had not been when they saw it the first time over 40 years ago.  This confused me.  Then several people expressed the opinion that the world is a far more dangerous place now than it was during the Cold War.  Several people in the room believed that worldwide conflagration is a more certain thing now than then.  No one expressed a different opinion.

I’ve concluded that this has far more to do with stories, the stories we tell ourselves, than with the reality around us.

Just like any other community, the American Left loves its stories.  The American Left, like most other communities, also tells itself the story that what the community believes to be true, is true.  I wouldn’t be an active participant if I didn’t agree as least some of the time.  Still, at events like this discussion of the movie, I am stunned by how powerful our stories are, informing our reality, molding our perception to embrace alternative realities.

From where I sit, there has been a slow, steady stepping back from the nuclear abyss.  Yes, we have a long way to go.  Yes, there is the strong possibility of horror in our future.  But the threat of worldwide nuclear annihilation has dramatically diminished.  American bombers are no longer constantly in the air.  We share the space station with the Russians, relying upon them for transport.  We have strong ties with the Chinese.

The Left engages in exaggeration, but more than that, we tell ourselves things that are not true.  Those untrue words serve to focus our attentions and motivate ourselves to accomplish goals.  Telling ourselves and one another stories, our community coheres, making it possible to easily work together.  Sometimes the stories leave out relevant information.

In January, when the Gaza protests were gathering together hundreds of thousands in protest across the world, the story of horrors, the media coverage of those stories and the protests objecting to the conditions that created those stories continued to pry apart the priorities of Israeli West Bank settlers and Americans that sympathized with the Israeli government view that the Jewish nation was threatened by terrorists.  We have a long way to go before the American government stops funding Israel.  Between now and then, the stories Americans tell themselves will have to be based on information different from that which the Israeli Right Wing seeks the American public to see.  Video coverage of the massacres in Gaza told a different story.  On the Left, there was a kind of exultation and vindication that the real story was being told.

There was relief that the word was getting out after the endless Gaza boycott and decades of horrors committed with little coverage.  Activists and nonactivists were propelled into the streets to voice their support for the Palestinians.  The community was strengthened by the telling of the community’s story to the society at large.

Yet, like the missing pieces in the Dr. Strangelove discussion, in the Gaza protests there was no discussion of the fact that it was the horror that was creating news to inspire change.  The innocents were martyrs for the story that needed to be told.  If the original missiles sent into Israel from Gaza could be taken back, Hamas would not do so.  War itself had become a Leftist activist intervention to achieve change.  With new communications technologies, video everywhere, even with the Israeli government shutting down cell bandwidth during the war, information was getting out that supported the Palestinian position.

The story within the story is that the violence feels necessary for the violence to end.  Both sides are colluding to kill vast numbers of an already repressed people to achieve their release from horrible conditions.  The awfulness is compounded by the story of destruction being a story that both sides want to tell.

Growing up, listening to grandmother, I was told the Jews were special.  I was told that Jews suffered more than other peoples.  In my child’s mind, I thought she was saying that Jews were special because we suffered more than other peoples.  I thought the suffering and the special were connected.

Then I somewhere concluded that because I suffered, I was special.  I suffered from feeling terrified.  I was stalked by a nuclear end.  I experienced myself as being unique.

Growing older, withdrawing from suffering, fear lifting, I realize specialness and suffering are unrelated.  Yet, in some strange, twisted way, the Jewish nation is conferring its specialness upon the Palestinian people.  The Jewish people are sharing perhaps their most powerful story, the story that we are unique because we suffer.  They are sharing the story with their “enemy.”  The horrors inflicted upon the Palestinians by the Jewish nation feel like the kind of deep abuse that one family member inflicts upon another.  There is a sickness to it that transcends a normal war.

In the end, there will be peace.  It will take time.  And, perhaps in the end, the need to make suffering part of the story will not be necessary anymore.

I’ve been viewing this work as that of an artist that plays with ideas.  As an artist, I change or modify my perspective on a sweep of data until I acquire a position (have an experience) that suggests beauty, subtlety and complexity.  I then evaluate those ideas based on how potentially useful they are.

In other words, I am looking for useful stories.

I am coming to the conclusion that the world is so complex and so gorgeously constructed that any theory–that is what I specialize in, creating theories–can only be a temporary, partial explanation.  It feels obvious that the universe was created by god as artist.  It is while deeply engaged in the artistic process that the universe feels most understandable.

So, I look for patterns.  If I had been trained in music, I would be composing and playing tunes.  That not being the case, I compose and play the patterns evident in the world around me.  Theory formation is so like music because those patterns I draw out from my environment are so deeply influenced by my culture, the information available, my sense structure (sight, feeling, hearing, taste and smell) and my personal experiences.  The theories I come up with are not arbitrary, but they are deeply informed by my place in space and time.

Whereas a musicians works with notes, bars, phrases and musical sentences, I as a theorist play with fads, trends and transformations.  I parse out time by examining social pattern durations and look for the beautiful, subtle and complex larger patterns evident in this world that I see, hear and feel.

There is as much truth in a theory as there is reality in a song.  Every song serves to communicate emotion and create a consensus about how the world works.  Every theory seeks to consolidate structure long enough to make it useful to perform predictions.  Time is an issue.  Reality changes as time flows, and a theory can grow dissonant, like a song developed for ancient ears.

I am an artist playing with fads, trends and transformations, constructing melodies that make it easy for listeners to feel how the music sounds in the moments coming up.

The narrative fine arts (music, dance, song, storytelling) often allow the participant to predict the future in a fashion that makes it feel like what is being created is by both artist and participant.  The artist sets up a structure that allows specific futures to unfold.  The performer and the audience member experience closure at the conclusion of one of the many predicted pathways.

Concluding that reality is so deep, subtle, complex and ever changing as to be ungraspable except by works of art, I would suggest that science might be usefully redefined as art.  Let’s give up this idea that something can be known.  Reality can only be romanced.

Gregory Bateson in his Steps to an Ecology of Mind discussed a unique feature of the human species that he believed is responsible for our destructive behavior. Humans are able to visualize a future, splitting time, and then focus on the steps necessary to achieve a specific future. In addition, with humans, steps imagined and achieved on the way toward a future don’t have to be examined for their repercussions on other people or other aspects of the environment.

Competitors are encouraged to “stay focused.” Shutting out the world achieves goals. Bateson might suggest that this ability to shut out the world also destroys it.

This blog describes a hypothetical proto society characterized by dance-and-song-driven rituals and a population selecting neotenous features in our species over time. We lived in dreamtime. We communicated by gesture. Both cerebral hemispheres were the same size, the corpus callosum brain bridge was still wide, we did not split time and children did not know who their fathers were. We were random-handed, left and right-handed half the time.

There were changes, changes described in this work. The result was society stopped selecting exclusively for aesthetics and started selecting for those adept at spoken language, splitting time and telling stories. The right cerebral hemisphere grew smaller, the corpus callosum became thinner and dreams retreated to the time we spend asleep. While awake, imagination flourished with an ability to manipulate time. Consciousness was now split with two hemispheres allied but in poor communication. Instead of each individual being unconsciously part of a larger whole, each was now consciously divided.

Thesis and antithesis. The synthesis is what we face today. How does each individual become consciously part of the larger whole?

I am coming to the conclusion that this is not so much a spiritual or religious question as much as it is social and biological. As a species, we are in the process of making the transition to a form of consciousness that features a far higher number of interconnections in space and time than has been the case before the emergence of the social networking technologies. Observing the ways the young are using the new technologies and how they encourage the invention of even newer technologies that enhance the destruction of traditional ideas of space and time, I conclude that we are deep into a social/biological transition.

Our world is becoming characterized by massive interconnection with individuals, each a hub in a universe of incoming and outgoing information. To some degree, this mitigates the destructive capabilities of the split-brain, split-time human. We are each becoming experts in consultation with an increasing capacity to embrace the connotations of repercussion. We are developing an intuition or understanding that our ability to split time can create unintended consequences. Society is technologically and socially addressing the destruction we have wrought. Still, to transcend the dissociative plague that Bateson describes requires more than just technology.

In addition to evolving as a society, our biology is transforming. There has been a return of matrifocal values that include horizontal interconnection and the original matrifocal neurological structures. The numbers of left-handers have been increasing along with the numbers of neurological conditions characterized by both cerebral hemispheres being the same size with a wide corpus callosum. These are the members of the self described neurodiversity movement. Autistic and Asperger’s individuals are stating that they are not subjects of a disorder, but members of a new order. I would suggest that the representatives of the neurodiversity movement embody the re-emergence of matrifocal proto society, in a context where their strengths and intimacy with nondifferentiation can become the guide and balance to the modern split.

What does the neurological synthesis look like? I’m not exactly sure. I suspect it has something to do with what we’re observing in Scandinavia, though visually the new humans may look a lot more like the Obamas. Left-handed, lanky synthesizers are in our future. Speciation is not easy to predict.

I met a young person at a party.  She was a freshly minted clinical psychotherapist interning to become experienced in her profession.  As someone that had been seriously considering the same profession thirty years ago, I had questions about what models she uses to perform interventions.

I expected that she would be describing psychotherapeutic models I was unfamiliar with, and I was right.  What I had learned was mostly unfamiliar to her and vice versa.  The conversation was disjointed, though.  It took me to the end of the short conversation to discover a particularly important piece.  Almost all her patient contacts took place in a setting with no privacy, in rooms filled with other people, with people she would only see once or twice.

The reason the conversation was confused was that every minute to ninety seconds her cell phone would ring.  She’d then review what was on the screen and sometimes text.  It was after this occurred the fifth time that she told me that in the environment that she practiced her profession there was little in common with the way I’d been trained.

Thirty years is a long time in a social transition.  The relationship between time and attention is radically transforming.  Cell phone technologies, twitter and texting are abbreviating experience, layering the near and far away so they overlap, dramatically increasing the number of people we come in contact with every day.  Yet, the contacts are not particularly deep.  We have less uninterrupted time to explore each other in detail.  It is no wonder that the young therapist and I have different intervention models.  All my models assumed time to establish rapport, set up goals and construct new and useful pathways to the desired change.  In an age where the young are facile with divided and abbreviated attention, I’m not clear how the new models work.

With the increasing amounts of time available as unemployment and underemployment rise, and the dividend, layered and abbreviated use of time familiar to the young, I’m seeing in the near future a world culture so unique it borders on a speciation event.  In the world of biology two subspecies or species variations can so diverge in behavior that they cease to interbreed and eventually create different species.  For example, two insect variations might at first be able to successfully breed, but rarely do so because they are awake at two different times or populate two different areas of tall trees.  With time, interbreeding becomes genetically impossible.

Imagine a youth integrated into the new technologies attempting a bonding with another youth unfamiliar or unattracted to the new divided, layered and abbreviated use of time.  There would be a dissonance, a cultural divide perhaps greater than that of two people pairing that speak different languages.

At what point does our use of time become so fragmented that it starts to acquire aspects of dream?  In dream there are no two times.  What you imagine becomes real.  There is only the place you are in and the time you are in.  Layering different times (being in conversation with one person while texting another), abbreviating time and spending time in contact with those remote, are all contributing to invest waking life with an almost dreamlike quality.  In dream the narrative is designed by the dream creator, connecting the dreamer with the extended matrix of our origins.  In waking, our lives are becoming deeply impacted by the behavior of increasing numbers of other people.  We are becoming increasingly social animals influenced by an ever growing community.  Waking and dream are showing a potential to converge.

Psychotherapy is one of those professions at the forefront of the changes underway.  Clinicians will need many tools to address the variety of ways that people are impacted by changing times.  At least one course in philosophy might be useful, particularly a course on the philosophy of time.  It might also be useful to pay attention to those ways that new technologies are embedding in the waking world, integrated in ways formerly most at home in dream.

Modern technology serves hidden societal assumptions. Different societies encourage radically different uses of technology. A hybrid transitional society with easy access to energy supplies and natural resources, such as the United States, proliferates technologies like a wildflower garden sends out seeds. Still, there is a method to the madness of technological innovation.

On one side perches the atomic bomb and pregnancy ultrasound, two of the most powerful tools of a patrifocal society. On the other side, serving a matrifocal society, are the Pill and the Internet.

Across the world there is a war being fought between destruction and creation. On the eastern front, battles wage across a woman’s womb; and the sex of the survivor determines both the structure of future society and that society’s talent and tendency to innovate. On the western front, the military-industrial-financial world alliance is clashing with the Internet society, and losing.

Female foeticide is one of the greatest killers on the planet, a scourge that goes almost unremarked. Modern ultrasound technology has facilitated the abortions of female fetuses rather than the drowning and smothering of infants. It is a machine that insures a child is male. The liberal West supports abortion. The conservative West supports patrifocal culture. It so happens that aborting females supports patrifocal culture. Is it any wonder we read or hear so little about the millions of females that are aborted?

The fewer females that survive the womb, the fewer non-ideal males in a society that find a wife. Those males achieving patristic success that manifest an ability to work well within hierarchy, take orders, give orders, command followers and perform well in male-to-male competition are rewarded with an opportunity to procreate. These males are the ideal mate. If only the ideals sire children, the values of the society are far more likely to be passed on. With the ideal male being one that fits in well and cooperates with the established patrifocal paradigm, innovation is not encouraged. Innovation is not a feature of societies that kill a female foetus. It is no mistake that societies displaying the most stability are societies that kill the girls.

In the quickly transforming West, where women are achieving parity with men, the Pill places in the hands of women the kind of man that they will mate with. In the West, concepts of the ideal male have blended together and produced any man that can contribute to an innovation. The idea of a Western ideal male has disappeared. Societal ideals have become amorphous with independence. Innovation thrives in an environment where the female can pick a mate with no guidance other than what she feels is best for her personally. The Pill provides her the power to make her own choice. Only males that she approves of supply her seed. The result is a proliferation of male ideals with an emphasis on males that can beat out other males to make a woman happy.

In the meantime, those Western males with a facility to thrive in hierarchy, take orders, give orders, command followers and perform well in male-to-male competition, build bombs. Multileveled corporations and military hierarchies work closely together with government and lending institutions to build a world where males are in control.

Encouraged by the shift to female choice and a reverence for innovation, the West has invented and nurtured the Internet. The web is planting matristic values into societies across the world. Horizontal communication, transparency and diversity are spreading like hurricane-propelled seeds from a continent of wildflowers. Disappearing borders are making bombs seem so yesterday. Observe our governments needing to encourage borderless adversaries to be able to continue to manufacture the myth of the enemy.

Technologies serve male or female-based societies, even forming hybrid technologies in societies like America where both social structures are in integrated combat. Male dominated Wall Street feeds off unique financial vehicles created by innovative minds. Huge influxes of corporate capital have fed the horizontal web.

Sex-determining ultrasound, the bomb, the Pill and the web all reveal how technology helps determine and support the social structures that drive societies as they change.

Should

February 28, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Society, Unconscious

Exploring ideas in evolution, traveling with my consciousness instrument up and down the scales of biology, society, ontogeny and biography, concepts familiar to one level often evoke interesting, complementing melodies in another.

I was recently asked by an editor about a piece that he was using if I was saying that charismatic leaders will be unnecessary, or if I was saying such leaders should be removed.  The editor wasn’t clear by the way I wrote it.  I was confused by the question.  Why would someone suggest that I believed something “should” be different?  I experience myself as describing what I see and hear and the likely evolutionary repercussions.  Then I realized that people often evaluate the future based upon what scenario they prefer, what “should” be true.  I can see how the two can be confused.  My predictions must feel like expressions of ideals to some people, manifestations of a “should.”  To me, when I make predictions, I’m following implications of established patterns.

Having spent over 30 years of my life in psychotherapy, usually group therapy, and having received some training in psychotherapeutic interventions in my 20s (NLP, hypnotherapy, child clinical work), my world view has been deeply influenced by the 1960s humanists (Pearls, Rogers, Maslow, Laing, Janov, Berne) and Eastern paradigms.  In Gestalt psychotherapy, the word “should” becomes a marker for hidden scripts or story lines that inhibit the natural flow of personal transformation.  Practitioners encouraging psychotherapeutic change use a road map that includes frequently used, less than useful detours, barriers, dead ends and dangerous roads.  When the word “should” appears in client conversations, it often indicates that they are traveling one of those avenues.  They are not seeing the world as it is.  They are seeing it through the lens of a skewed world view based upon low quality information, usually acquired at some point in the past.

For example, if someone believes he or she shouldn’t express affection unless in private, or believes the behavior could draw derision, it is probably because the person had an experience where that was the case.

Regarding following an idea as it travels among the scales of biology, society, ontogeny and biography, the word “should” is a signal that natural, personal traffic flows are being impeded, and it also applies when discussing biological or social transformation.

No evolutionary biological theory should work better than another.  That’s like saying one fairy tale should be more satisfying than another fairy tale.  What works, works.

It’s not a question that we should have world peace or end starvation.  We seek to understand the way the world is now and the dynamics of transformation that lead to change.  The better we comprehend the present and the processes characterized by societal evolution, the more seamlessly peaceful options will emerge.

Psychotherapeutically and societally, providing high quality attention and present moment awareness serves to make a “should” unnecessary.  Focused on the present, future possibilities can unfold naturally in the context of a dynamic manifesting in the now.

There is only one moment.  The moment we are in.  “Should” suggests a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of evolution, transformation and change.

Personal changes and societal change are profoundly practical.  They only have time for the present.

The Stewardship Economy

February 25, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Activism, Society

The Obama Administration seems to have a feel for part of what our society and our economy has to achieve when it seeks to fund a transition to a “Green” economy.  Decentralizing the electrical grid by creating a distribution infrastructure that encourages solar and wind offers economic health without greenhouse gas production.  Still, the Obama Administration is not exactly displaying a lack of imagination but is exhibiting a failure to understand that the economic crash is signaling the end of the consumer economy.

Three generations of Americans have grown used to this giddy consumer amphetamine high accompanied by a reverence for products and the institutions that bring us all these choices.  Imagining an economy without the constant churn of natural resource conversion into disposable commodities, at this point, is a challenge.  Engaging imagination in this direction would be a useful challenge for the new administration.

My website design and development firm serves over 400 businesses.  One of those clients is down the street and around the corner.  Monica sells used children’s clothing and toys.  This Christmas she saw her business boom.

Monica told me the story of one of her customers giving the younger of her two daughters a used toy, a toy that would have been quite expensive if new.  The older child, maybe seven or eight years old, upon being told by the mom that is was a used toy, expressed excitement at the mother’s virtuous act.  To this child, the fact that the toy was used enhanced its value.  It was a recycled toy.

The Obama Administration needs to be able to see three or four years into the future when a sizable portion of the slowly recovering economy is revolving around stewardship of what we can use as opposed to abandonment of what’s not new.

This means paying close attention to infrastructure that encourages preservation of resources.  One obvious choice would be to fund public transportation over highway construction.  Another would be to subsidize specific areas within industries that don’t churn nonrenewables.  Modern agriculture burns up fossil fuel fertilizer in the guts of cows, pigs and chickens that we then consume.  Nonconsumer economy food is organic.  When we note the astonishing amount of the greenhouse gas methane that is produced by cow flatulence, moving quickly away from beef would be another prudent stewardship economic action.  We could tax beef as we tax gas.

Very soon advertisers will begin touting the longevity of their products as an integral feature of what they produce.  This change in frame of reference will encourage the new stewardship perspective.  How can the government proactively spend our money to make our withdrawal from the three-generation consumer high as painless as possible?  It can begin by emphasizing quality over quantity whenever possible.

Perhaps that which most characterizes a quality life is a life spent in appreciation.  The government can’t make people appreciate, but it can encourage reverence for life and art.  One of those things government can be spending money on is massive art works.  Art, almost by definition, enhances or encourages the idea of stewardship.  Art is not generally disposable.

I imagine that the zeitgeist message of a stewardship society is stories that naturally emerge from artists.  In a consumer economy, all propaganda revolves around consumption.  Those days are over.

Does the Obama Administration have the hearing and vision to be able to note the excited voice of a child observing that recycled is actually brand new?

“The classical argument for recapitulation involves a threefold parallelism of paleontology, comparative anatomy, and ontogeny.  Morphologists occasionally added a fourth source of evidence — teratology and the phyletic explanation of abnormalities as developmental arrests (Chapter 3).  This fourth criterion — the abnormal individual as an arrested juvenile — forms an important part of the usage made by other disciplines of the biogenetic law.  We have seen how Lombroso invoked it in his theory of criminality.  We will encounter it again in Freud’s theory of neurosis.” (Gould, S.J. (1977) Ontogeny and Phylogeny.  Cambridge: Belknap Press, p. 125)

The phrase “American exceptionalism” seems to be emerging more frequently in the sentences that the Right is experimenting with to communicate what it believes it still has to offer to Americans.  Just as many Americans believe the U.S. is special, they have also believed that this country makes it possible for any individual to achieve anything he or she sets out to do.  Independence, freedom and liberty are frequently intoned as representing this point of view.

This frame of reference, the belief that we are special because we are different, has hobbled the ability of the left end of the American spectrum to put forth a vision of where we are headed.  The Left or liberal message emphasizes community, cooperation, sacrifice and interdependence.  These attributes don’t just exist in our future; they exist in Scandinavia and other European countries in the form of mature institutions serving the population in unique and useful ways.  We rarely find Left or Progressive elements in America using Scandinavia or Europe as an example.  Part of this is our whole culture’s hesitation to defer to another country, to suggest we can learn from somewhere else.  Most of us really believe we are exceptional.  In addition, when looking to Europe, the right cries out “Socialism.”  Then Progressive elements reflexively concede the higher ground of language to the Right and its mythic control of message.  So the Left is left with no clear way to build a picture of what it seeks to achieve both because we don’t want to put another country on a pedestal and because we don’t want to buck up against the Right Wing’s ability to reframe.

Our deep-seated American exceptionalism has had other repercussions.  We do not easily see the connections between processes.  We frequently fail to examine the causes of difficulties that the country faces.  During this economic meltdown there is some unanimity around the idea that regulatory forces failed to make and hold to any boundaries regarding corporate behavior, but there is an almost phobic hesitation to regard in detail what has to change.

Americans fail to make connections.

Parallelisms run in several directions from anyplace you choose to make the beginning.  That there is a beginning is as arbitrary as that there is an end.  Connections between different ideas or different patterns of experience provide insight not only into how the world works, but an understanding that our place in the world is profoundly relative.  We can hardly be exceptional when who and what we are is integrally related and interconnected to any and everything else we choose to examine.  There is no beginning, no end and no center.  We cannot be the center of a world characterized by seamless interdependence.

Gould emphasized in his multiscale perspective of evolution a re-examination of the fourfold and threefold parallelisms of Freud, Piaget, Haeckel, Darwin and the host of theorists that came before the neglecting of connection that became the hallmark of Americanism.  Our belief that we alone make a difference in the world engendered an environment where the impact that we have on each other goes unexamined.  Boundaries between concepts, regulations of agencies and explorations of similarities have been ignored.

As hard times compel a deep re-examination of whom and what we are, we will discover a new self identity that offers an ability to see beyond our own needs and self-aggrandizement.  Sensitivity to connection will emerge.  Fourfold parallelisms will proliferate into multifold perspectives that will encourage views of science, religion, art and politics that are integrally connected.

Like folds in clothing that crease and then modify as we move across our day, parallelisms will form and move in waves across the cloth of our experience.  It will become clear with time that integrated, seemingly separate processes are animating the same material.

Still, to understand how everything is connected, we’ll need to surrender the American idea that we are alone.

Seeking Words

February 14, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Myth/Story, Society, Unconscious

Being human, it’s difficult to imagine what we don’t have words for.

Benjamin Whorf proposed that language powerfully determined the reality that a society can perceive.  For example, some indigenous Americans communicate largely in the present tense.  In Hopi mythology, the future and the past converge in a mythological alternative present as if at the other end of a giant wheel or hoop.  Such an experience of reality could influence individuals and societies at a number of levels.

Our unconscious, our personal representatives of the infinite other side, provide us information based upon the stories we have made up about the world.  What fits our stories we can absorb.  What does not fit our stories we ignore.  The words we use to create our stories are stored with a myriad of associations.  Associations left outside our experience, outside our words, do not end up in our stories and are not available to makes sense of the world.

A society emphasizing a single tense may be wiser than one deeply sensitive to the increments of time, wiser because the information received is far often high quality, real time information.  Nevertheless, that wiser society may be vulnerable to the machinations of a time-dissociated society.  The dissociated society is able to achieve long-term goals partly because they’re not spending time paying attention to the present.

Imagining or embracing what we don’t have words for is a particularly difficult issue in the sciences.  Over 150 years, many variations of evolution theories have emerged and languished as society keeps encouraging origin stories that support corporations battling for supremacy that then manage our financial/economic world and world view.  Demonizing socialism, as in socialized medicine, the elites seek to control disbursement of assets by controlling the meanings of words.  We don’t have a word that means both freedom and community.  “Epigenetic” is coming to mean both environment and heredity.  There is a concept binding together both “independent” and “cooperative” that when invented will go a long way toward making possible the placing of attention on the many-with-few-resources by the few-with-many-resources.

Isadora Duncan mentioned that if she had the words to say it, she wouldn’t have to dance it.  Perhaps the scientists and politicians should learn to dance.