Author Archives: Stephen Calhoun

Stephen Calhoun

About Stephen Calhoun

Outsider researcher, experiential guide, naive musician and artist. "My beliefs are unbelievable!" (P.Krassner) "Follow the perfume, not the tracks." (Shams)

Imaginal Cybernetics, the Demonic Daemon, Deep Play

Hermes

Part One of Two

First you pour the water in the pool. Then you dive.

I’ve dived into the recent hours of intense creative dialog with Ken Warren. We’re preparing our presentation cum performance at The Society for Analytical Psychology of Western New York on December 12.

Peras-Swine

I’ll get to its description in a moment. First, let’s wander.

Systemics and cybernetics can be viewed as a metalanguage of concepts and models for transdisciplinarian use, still now evolving and far from being stabilized. This is the result of a slow process of accretion through inclusion and interconnection of many notions, which came and are still coming from very different disciplines. Systemics and Cybernetics in a Historical Perspective, Charles Francois, Systems Research Sciences and Behavioral Systems Research Sciences, #16

In short, directed at the above from 1999, Blow that shit up. Ken and I discuss our stuff, and we very seriously marry our paired, then dancing, intuitions. I could identify and then name and then post the essential contexts that inform our brotherly shamanism–and this would interest me more than him–yet most of those contexts are deliberately unstable.

Why? “inclusion and interconnection of many notions, which came and are still coming from very different disciplines,” souls.

We’ve been playing very hard in the overlap of our entangled sensibilities. We also play in the medial space described by the overlap, but, this medial space is outside our ‘pure’ overlap. Near where it’s bounded by the overlap we understand each other, but as our intuitions drift farther away from the overlap, or as our individual impulse reconnoiters closed to the unsharable territory in the other person’s homeland, he or I become tourists.

venn

Yes, the medial aspects cross too. (Ken might attend to this using astropsychology, where I might propose a matrix of classification.) Still, the more one of us leaves behind both our home experience and the means that implicate our individual understanding of our, by definition, non-mutual experience, the more we traverse the medial boundary away from our core and toward the other person’s core.

Why do I mention this sort of map? For one thing, it’s a good example of third order social cybernetics, a framework I am in the process of hatching.

The two of us know something about what goes on betwixt us in our co-creative conversations. And we know that much just comes up from out of some nowhere, from the, as Ken would say, foamy depths.

What we know on our own obviously is a differential knowing, it regards my knowing being different than his knowing. That is not a trivial point. At the same time, we all the time drag one another into the medial territory for the purpose of revealing the so-called second-to-third orders ‘secreted’ there in the borderlands. The borderlands are where the action is!

Here’s the call for our program.

Repairing the Opposites, Doubling Stars, Turning Swine Into Pears
An experiential and imaginal exploration of relationship as individuation and daring-do

What is any human system of relationship in relationship to, and contextualized by?

Is there deep value available in transforming important partnerships, friendships, and, pairings into sites for adventure?
How does activation of the Trickster archetype revitalize the approach of the single, yearning person?

Using experiential learning, archetypal inquiry, and deep astrology, the principles of IN4tuity present an evening’s worth of games centered on the participatory psyche and sparking self-knowledge. Ken Warren and Stephen Calhoun use analytical psychology to bridge esoteric and cybernetic expertise. Their wild blend on this special evening aims to animate a circus of interactive exploration and discovery. Come prepared to play. Come ready to capture an epiphany or two about you and one other, even if the one other has not yet been met.

Pear. In Greek and Roman mythology, pears are sacred to three goddesses: Hera (Juno to the Romans), Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans), and Pomona, an Italian goddess of gardens and harvests.

The ancient Chinese believed that the pear was a symbol of immortality. (Pear trees live for a long time.) In Chinese the word li means both “pear” and “separation,” and for this reason, tradition says that to avoid a separation, friends and lovers should not divide pears between themselves.

In Christianity, the pear, rarely used except in paintings of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, symbolizes the fruit of Mary’s womb. St. Augustine remembered his first sin to be when he stole a pear. His original sin was mimetic with regard to the original sin in The Garden of Eden.

Stephen Calhoun is the principal of squareONE: experiential toolmakers. He recently became one of four worldwide learning partners of Experience-based Learning Systems, and, he is a founding member of the Experiential Learning Community of Practice.

Kenneth Warren is the founder and editor of House Organ, a letter of poetry and prose. BlazeVox recently published his selective history of American poetry: Captain Poetry’s Sucker Punch: A Guide to the Homeric Punkhole, 1980-2012.

I created the program in this way: 100% intuition, spontaneously, on a hunch. By 100% intuition I mean, following loosely from psychologist John Beebe: 50% extroverted intuition, and 50% introverted intuition; and by the latter I additionally mean, unconscious/occulted/demonic and of unknown origins.

Next step, to discuss with Ken what it is that is interesting to us both, and so find our hook in this 100% mutual intuitive build, a co-creation now consisting of half conscious and half unconscious interests brought together from our two different sides.

I am just about ready to adjust the program’s call to reflect what it is we will actually try to pull up, and pull off. Up to this point, Ken and I haven’t discussed my original program intuition at all.

What we have been discussing is the birth of romantic relationship, the initial soulful foray toward another soul, and, the paradoxical status of self-knowledge in both the light and dark zones of initial (and initiatory,) relating.

131. But if thou shut up thy Soul in the Body, and abuse it, and say, I understand nothing, I can do nothing, I am afraid of the Sea, I cannot climb up to Heaven, I know not who I am, I cannot tell what I shall be: What hast thou to do with god? for thou canst understand none of those Fair and Good things, and be a lover of the body and Evil.

132. For it is the greatest Evil, not to know God.

133. But to be able to know, and to will, and to hope, is the straight way, and Divine way, proper to the Good, and it will everywhere meet thee, and everywhere be seen of thee, plain and easy, when thou dost not expect or look for it; it will meet thee waking, sleeping, sailing, travelling, by night, by day, when thou speakest, and when thou keepest silence.

THE TENTH BOOK, THE MIND TO HERMES The Divine Pymander, by Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus, tr. by John Everard, [1650]

Hermes symmetry

horizonal mirror symmetry, Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus

Part One of Two

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Creative Workflow – Cat Trying to Swallow Its Own Tail

In the Tariqa note

In zoom mode in Photoshop, while preparing a large new piece to be reduced to a PNG for publishing on the gallery blog, an interesting overall configuration of small details in the edge style of the digital image file.

Edge style

Because I’m nowadays very sensitive to the level of complexity a possibly worthwhile mirror transformation requires to hopefully capture an intriguing symmetry, I moved around the small scale details looking for a candidate. The first image shows the workflow and the second image above is the detail I discovered.

The result is a symmetry I like. (more I like)

Symmetry

The actual details of the 300dpi original are too small to really see in the 16×10″ proof.

The two hallmarks of my creative ethos and artistic experimentation are: generativity and recursion. I work toward a surprising conclusion by implicating those two procedural factors. In the visual realm the manifestation of both is very clearly exemplified in the above example: the discovery of a small scale within the large scale provides a recursive capture and the mirroring manipulation generates the symmetry. I act as a spotter.

Interestingly, the small scale details result from generative manipulations of the original piece, and the original piece itself is the result of blending two layers both captured in different generative procedures that are keyed by programmed search routines. Those generative instrumentalities, then, represent a recursive routine in their own right.

The final recursion is: this all evokes Gregory Bateson. (see: Peter Harries-Jones: Gregory Bateson, Heterarchies, and the Topology of Recursion. Cybernetics and Human Knowing 12(1-2): 168-174 (2005))

Among Bateson scholars, Peter Harries-Jones (1995) is notable for looking at Gregory’s “ecology of mind” in the context of his mature work, using terms for it associated with that period, “recursive epistemology” or “ecological epistemology.” The processes with which Gregory was concerned were essentially processes of knowing: perception, communication, coding and translation. Ergo epistemology. But basic to this epistemology was the differentiation of logical levels, including the relationship between the knower and the known, ergo a recursive epistemology. Ideally, the relationship between the patterns of the biological world and our understanding of it would be one of congruence, of fit, a broader and more pervasive similarity than the ability to predict in experimental contexts that depend upon simplification and selective attention. It seems useful to refer to Gregory’s ecology of mind as an epistemological ecology to contrast it with the largely materialistic ecology of academic departments. It seems essential to underline that recursiveness is a necessary feature of such an epistemology (and perhaps of every epistemology, since every effort to know about knowing involves the cat trying to swallow its own tail).

Bateson was haunted in his last years by a sense of urgency, a sense that the narrow definition of human purposes, reinforced by technology, would lead to irreversible disasters, and that only a better epistemology could save us. Certainly irreversibilities lie all around us, many, like global warming, the decay of the ozone layer, and the movement of poisons through global food chains, set on courses it is too late to change although we have yet to suffer their full effect. Still, the situation has not worsened as rapidly as he predicted and perhaps he sometimes succumbed to the lure of dramatizing a message in order to get it across in ways that later undermine that message. But the habits of mind that he described can be seen in every newspaper or newscast: the search for short term solutions that worsen the problem over time (often by mirroring it, such as violence used to oppose violence); the focus on individual persons or organisms or even species, seen in isolation; the tendency to let technological possibility or economic indicators replace reflection; the effort to maximize single variables (like profit) rather than optimizing the relationship among a complex set of variables.

Mary Catherine Bateson – new Introduction to Step to An Ecology of Mind by Gregory Bateson, 2000)

One last recursive piece – that can be thought of as recursive in a second order, thus by way of duplication and “re-relation.”

The Pir x Eight
The Pir x Eight – (2014) S. Calhoun – 17×11 proof for giclee

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Esoteric Intra-Image Dialectic

Jesus & SatanCat's EyeHands and

Not all of “it” is here in this trio of cross-commenting images, yet, some of “it” is here.

On the other hand. . .

Words

The disciples were absorbed in a discussion of Lao-tzu’s dictum:
“Those who know do not say; Those who say do not know.”
When the Master entered, they asked him exactly what the words meant.
Said the Master, “Which of you knows the fragrance of a rose?”
All of them knew.
Then he said, “Put it into words.”
All of them were silent.

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Two Teaching Cartoons

Sufi-Story-The-Cat

Sufi-The-Eye

h/t 202 Jokes of Nasreddin Hodja, Minyatur Yayinlari Press, Istanbul, Turkey

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Sixty

Tim Calhoun Cleveland poet

Timothy Carl Calhoun – Cleveland Poet, philosopher, father – September 2, 1954 – February 24, 1993

Sixty_edit

Stephen Crespi Calhoun – still unpeeling the layers

Stephen&Timothy-1958

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking,–John, I

sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what

can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,

drive, he sd, for
christ’s sake, look
out where yr going.

(Robert Creeley)

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By Nothingness to Nirvana, Beyond Contrivance

Road to Nirvana

I have finally found myself compelled to give up the logic, fairly, squarely, and irrevocably. It has an imperishable use in human life, but that use is not to make us theoretically acquainted with the essential nature of reality. Reality, life, expedience, concreteness, immediacy, use what words you will, exceeds our logic, overflows and surrounds it. -William James

Kagyu Refuge Tree

The central teaching of the Karma Kagyu is the doctrine of Mahamudra, also known as the “Great Seal”. This doctrine focuses on four principal stages of meditative practice (the Four Yogas of Mahamudra):

The development of single-pointedness of mind,
The transcendence of all conceptual elaboration,
The cultivation of the perspective that all phenomena are of a “single taste”,
The fruition of the path, which is beyond any contrived acts of meditation.
[Wikipedia]

The “ambiguity” in the sense of the indeterminacy or vagueness that permeates our existence in the world derives from the “ambiguity” of our embodied being in the sense of its irreducibility either to the transparency of self-consciousness or the inertia of matter. – Nabuo Kazashi

Highly recommended: The Social Self in Zen and American Pragmatism. By Steve Odin. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996.)

by the same author: Whitehead & Ethics in the Contemporary World (pdf)

Philosophy of Nothingness and Process Theology – Yutaka Tanaka (pdf)


quotes from secondary source:
The Varieties of Pure Experience: William James and Kitaro Nishida on Consciousness and Embodiment
Joel W. Krueger

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Andy Thomas Closes His Eyes

Nightingale and Canary from Andy Thomas on Vimeo.

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In the Whole of the River

E Middlebury River

The gash of the East Middlebury River between E. Middlebury and Ripton, Vermont

E. Middlebury River

Roughly, my two favorite swimming holes on the East Middlebury River. There are several good swimming spots by pull-offs from the road, but the best spots are deep in the narrow canyon and involve hiking and scrambling down the river’s boulder fields. The most magical swimming holes are mildly dangerous to get to, and the swimmer has to be smart about risky spots in the river’s course.

At one point on the river, (I recall from twenty-five years ago,) for about 50 yards the canyon narrows to less than twenty feet wide and this causes about a fifty foot high gash, at the beginning of which is a small waterfall, then comes a deep pool, and, then comes a deceptively dynamic breakout into a huge undercut boulder. It’s very dangerous because the pool is beautiful but it channels a lot of volume into a very risky situation.

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The Catch

Lucy

In my unstoried softball career I’ve enjoyed two periods of defensive excellence. Excellence counted as not making a circus of the routine. The first was between 1977-1984, an era during which Bob Buckeye and I locked down center and left field for the Abernathy Special Collections challenge team. during that time, Andy Kirkaldy was at the hot spot, and he was the best short stop I ever played behind. I turned thirty in 1984–heck, thirty years ago–and turned myself into a volleyball hero for the next ten years.

(Ironically, blessed with good hand/eye coordination and a crafty mind, volleyball was the only sport I ever was really nicely fit to.)

The second period started in 2002 at the time I once again trotted out to left field; this return came, after 18 years. Luckily I kept my giant Rawlings glove, a xmas gift from around 1970. Free Play Softball gave me a second life as an outfielder at forty-seven years of young. In October of 2005, I suffered the most serious on-field accident any of the Free Players so far have experienced when a line drive and a low sun and a momentary lapse in my attentiveness worked together to land the ball between my eyes with a fearsome thunk. Blood everywhere. $6k hospital bill.

I would like to report that in the next year, in the new season, I shook this off. In actuality, I was terribly snake bitten for the next three seasons. Although I consistently played left field from 2006 through 2011, and while I basically still can catch almost anything hit within my shrinking range, my own review of my skills is harsh. I’ve become slow. My signal strength remains but its being combined with a loss of velocity measures my decline as an outfielder–well, I do turn sixty next week!

I’d be a really good first base person, my original softball position back in 1970, but, nowadays, I do my damage in right field or as the roaming outfielder.

Free Play Softball

Close game this week. Funny stuff happens. Our Sunday games are not–how to put this–over-determined. If we’re sometimes careless about the handful of nuances, such as mentally simulating what might happen next time the ball is put in play, still, the nuances that gently hold the miniature dramas in our oft performed theatre of the momentarily absurd remain in great hands, in everybody’s great hands.

“Bring something incomprehensible into the world!” – Gilles Deleuze

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Amusement Park

Amusement Park

Amusement Park – S.Calhoun 2014 – 14×11″ – from a photograph

Of course there’s a giant genre of youtube videos featuring point-of-view roller coaster rides. For me, nearing sixty, the scariest thing about a roller coaster is waiting in line for a couple of hours.

Camus’s would-be favorite:

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Missed-Understood and the Web of Hypotheses

This video counts as keeper in my quest for laser-focused riffs on adult development lasting less than ten minutes.

The one qualification I would offer about managing conversations is: be aware of what happens if you idealize the structural and intentional features of a conversation. It seems to me all deep conversations come to be managed in their real time trajectory. From my perspective, discernment and shaping of conversational intentions (of any party to the conversation,) may engage third order repertoires. This seems to me to be part of the system and meta-system of conversational communication. It’s okay.

On the other hand, this may also be rationalizing on my part!

“Not-knowing refers to the belief that one person cannot pre-know another person or his or her situation or what is best for them. It refers to the intent and manner with which the coach thinks about and introduces his or her believed knowledge and expertise (what they think they might know). Knowledge and expertise (e.g., whether from research, experience, or theory) are tentatively offered as food for thought and dialogue and remain open to challenge and change.”Harlene Anderson, h/t C.Visser

Harlene Anderson bio from Taos Institute.

Harlene Anderson, Ph.D., is founding member of the Houston Galveston Institute, the Taos Institute, and Access Success. She is recognized internationally as being at the leading edge of postmodern collaborative practices as a thinker, consultant, coach, and educator. She takes her tools — her insights, her curiosity, her engaging conversational style, her leadership skills and her keen interest — to help professionals turn theory into new and often surprising possibilities for their clients, students, and organizations. She embodies her own belief in learning as a lifelong process — inviting, encouraging and challenging people to be inquisitive, creative, authentic, and open to the ever-present possibilities for newness in others — and in themselves.

reflection

Harlene Anderson and Dr. Harold A. Goolishian developed collaborative therapy as a postmodern approach to creative and solution-based communication. A core component of postmodern collaborative therapy is that the relationship between therapist and client is one of equals; the therapist is not in a position of authority over the client. Instead, therapy is viewed as a partnership that allows the therapist and client to combine their expertise. There is a strong emphasis on becoming comfortable with uncertainty, including the therapist’s own uncertainty. The therapist avoids the use of jargon, and makes notes readily available to the client. Clients are encouraged to actively participate in the process by providing feedback on the process itself, for example, and loved ones in the client’s life are not stigmatized or viewed as harmful. Instead, they too are invited to participate in the therapeutic process.

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Inevitable Nexus When Fear Runs the Numbers

Civil Rights

The variable progress we’ve made toward a color-blind society requires the astute observer and citizen to grapple with the causes of the breakdowns that focus attention on a grievous collection of problems, and, at the same time, may tend to crowd-out and push the sundry daily problems out of view.

The shocking events in Ferguson Missouri crowd out the following daily problems:

1. everyday racism
2. racial profiling
3. law enforcement presuming guilt
4. traffic stops for being black
5. killing innocent people, killing innocent people-of-color
6. police regarding themselves as enforcers of laws but not subject to laws
7. officer safety divorced from objective risk management
8. heavy-weaponization of police departments
9. the dangerous synergy, and daily transactions, between the military-industrial complex and the law enforcement complex
10. not applying social and psychological-scientific understanding to the consequences of militarizing police departments

Consider whether or not the police in a given year kill more innocent people than the number of police killed in the line of duty.

Psychologically, in a critical, larger, sense, our police are us.

Ferguson

This ghastly power is mostly explained as fear of the neighbouring nation, which is supposed to be possessed by a malevolent fiend. Since nobody is capable of recognizing just where and how much he himself is possessed and unconscious, he simply projects his own condition upon his neighbour, and thus it becomes a sacred duty to have the biggest guns and the most poisonous gas. The worst of it is that he is quite right. All one’s neighbours are in the grip of some uncontrollable fear, just like oneself. In lunatic asylums it is a well-known fact that patients are far more dangerous when suffering from fear than when moved by rage or hatred. (C.G. Jung pg 231 Civilization In Transition)

Some criminologists argue that there is a deep antagonism between cops and black and brown men that leads both to perceive the other as a constant threat, feeding a complicated intergroup conflict. For police, it may be fueled by a sense that they represent the last line of defense for the rest of us.

But the death accounts of unarmed black men often demonstrate something more basic at work in brutality cases: The victim was somehow perceived as less than fully human. (Less than human: Do some police take a step beyond simple prejudice? By David Dante Troutt, Reuters)

Police are not soldiers. Are democracy at its most local level is threatened if we allow our police departments to morph into combat teams.

Officer safety is a magical fear in a specific sense: advocates of risk management that approve re-arming police departments with technology that is designed to kill militarized enemies, and protect from the same, can only bridge the desire for safety with the need for the technology by entering irrational suppositions and fantasies about threat into the equation. It is a fact over the last decade that heavily armed SWAT teams have entered the wrong houses, have burst through the doors of innocent citizens, and for the sake of officer safety, killed innocent people.

Detroit SWAT officer murdered seven-year old Aiyana Stanley-Jones in 2010.

Our religions and political ideologies are methods of salvation and propitiation which can be compared with primitive ideas of magic, and where such “collective representations” are lacking their place is immediately taken by all sorts of private idiocies and idiosyncrasies, manias, phobias, and daemonisms whose primitivity leaves nothing to be desired, not to speak of the psychic epidemics of our time before which the witch-hunts of the sixteenth century pale by comparison. (C.G. Jung pg 155 Symbols In Transformation)

Comment: The nexus of racism and fear is obviously very deadly. Equipping law enforcement with inappropriate surplus military equipment is insanity. As Dr. Jung stated, “If you put enough bombs all in one place, they will go off by themselves.”

How America’s Police Became an Army: The 1033 Program By Taylor Wofford, Newsweek

|1033 procurements are not matters of public record. And the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), which coordinates distribution of military surplus, refuses to reveal the names of agencies requesting “tactical” items, like assault rifles and MRAPs — for security reasons, a spokesperson for DLA told Newsweek via email.

Police in Watertown, Connecticut, (population 22,514) recently acquired a mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle (sticker price: $733,000), designed to protect soldiers from roadside bombs, for $2,800. There has never been a landmine reported in Watertown, Connecticut.|

Comment: the police work for the citizenry except in police states.

Not Just Ferguson: 11 Eye-Opening Facts About America’s Militarized Police Forces by Alex Kane

| In June, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought more attention to police militarization when it issued a comprehensive, nearly 100-page report titled, War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing (pdf). Based on public records requests to more than 260 law enforcement agencies in 26 states, the ACLU concluded that this police militarization “unfairly impacts people of color and undermines individual liberties, and it has been allowed to happen in the absence of any meaningful public discussion.” |

Comment: plus,  follow the money.

| “Bring it. You fucking animals, bring it,” one police officer was caught on video telling protesters. In Ferguson and beyond, it seems that some police officers have shed the blue uniform and have put on the uniform and gear of the military, bringing the attitude along with it. Read more-businessinsider |

In Ferguson, the blurred line between law enforcement and combat By Adam Serwer, MSNBC

| These heavily armed men are part of a more recent tradition: the militarization of American police. They are, like domestic surveillance, weapons built to fight a faraway war turned homeward. Hands-up is how black people survive nonviolent protest in the era of what author Radley Balko calls the “warrior cop.”

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Department of Defense has transferred $4.3 billion in military equipment to local and state police through the 1033 program, first enacted in 1996 at the height of the so-called War on Drugs. The Department of Justice, according to the ACLU, “plays an important role in the militarization of the police” through its grant programs. It’s not that individual police officers are bad people – it’s that shifts in the American culture of policing encourages officers to ”think of the people they serve as enemies.”

Since 2001, the Department of Homeland Security has encouraged further militarization of police through federal funds for “terrorism prevention.” The armored vehicles, assault weapons, and body armor borne by the police in Ferguson are the fruit of turning police into soldiers. |

don't shoot

 

Police are not soldiers.

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The Smoothing Factor

Free Play Softball league

This past Sunday we had our first turnout that was so copious I had to institute the rotation rule: when a team’s numbers exceed eleven, players must sit an inning out to insure only eleven are on the field at once. (Related to this is the rule that requires of unequal numbers to field the same number of players in the field.) This an example of a rule that has come about by a combination of fiat and informal discussion, which is to say we discussed several seasons ago the imposition of the rule by my fiat. Usually the extra players are absorbed in the outfield, giving the defense five outfielders. It’s crowded out there!

When we have more than the standard number of players–to me, it’s nine players–devising equitable distributions of players is easier. Well, I tell this to myself because I suppose that greater numbers smooth out the aggregate regressions of player performance. I do not know if this folk supposition is actually correct, but I do know we had our second one run game in a row!

Peanuts Gang

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Sweetly Focused Nora Bateson

What a great two minutes!

Nora Bateson’s soulful approach to her father’s work, to his way of understanding, strikes me as being beautifully personal, ingratiating, and, most crucially, precisely formulated so as to provide a warm introductory gateway to his legacy.

The following videos help frame her brilliant film about her father, An Ecology of Mind. The interviewers are different, and there is some repetition, yet Ms. Bateson is so much deeply her father’s daughter that I find her views enchanting.

The point of the probe is always in the heart of the explorer. (Gregory Bateson)

According to the popular image of science, everything is, in principle, predictable and controllable; and if some event or process is not predictable and controllable in the present state of your knowledge, a little more knowledge and, especially, a little more know-how will enable us to predict and control the wild variables.

This view is wrong, not merely in detail, but in principle. It is even possible to define large classes or phenomena where prediction and control are simply impossible for very basic but quite understandable reasons. Perhaps the most familiar example of this class of phenomena is the breaking of any superficially homogeneous material, such as glass. The Brownian movement (see Glossary) of molecules in liquids and gases is similarly unpredictable.

If I throw a stone at a glass window, I shall, under appropriate circumstances, break of crack the glass in a star-shaped pattern. If my stone hits the glass as fast as a bullet, it is possible that it will detach from the glass a neat conical plug called a conic of percussion. If my stone is too slow and too small, I may fail to break the glass at all. Prediction and control will be quite possible at this level. I can easily make sure which of three results (the star, the percussion cone, or no breakage) I shall achieve, provided I avoid marginal strengths of throw.

But within the conditions which produce the star-shaped break, it will be impossible to predict or control the pathways and the positions of the arms of the stars.

Curiously enough, the more precise my laboratory methods, the more unpredictable the events will become. If I use the most homogeneous glass available, polish its surface to the most exact optical flatness, and control the motion of my stone as precisely as possible, ensuring an almost precisely vertical impact on the surface of the glass, all my efforts will only make the events more impossible to predict.

If, on the other hand, I scratch the surface of the glass or use a piece of glass that is already cracked (which would be cheating), I shall be able to make some approximate predictions. For some reason (unknown to me), the break in the glass will run parallel to the scratch and about 1/100 of an inch to the side, so that the scratch mark will appear on only one side of the break. Beyond the end of the scratch, the break will veer off unpredictably.

Under tension, a chain will break at its weakest link. That much is predictable. What is difficult is to identify the weakest link before it breaks. The generic we can know, but the specific eludes us. Some chains are designed to break at a certain tension and at a certain link. But a good chain is homogeneous, and no prediction is possible. And because we cannot know which link is weakest, we cannot know precisely how much tension will be needed to break the chain.

6. Divergent Sequences Are Unpredictable
II Every School Boy Knows
Mind & Nature (Gregory Bateson)

Any form of certainty we find along the way is probably transitional. (Nora Bateson)

Nora Bateson from AURA on Vimeo.

Nora Bateson’s film (Amazon DVD) An Ecology of Mind, A Daughter’s Portrait of Gregory Bateson–it’s wonderful– Web Site | An Ecology of the Mind (on Facebook)

Department of Anthropology Indiana University: Gregory Bateson biography

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Teaching Story – The Great Warrior

Kabuki symmetry

Kabuki Warrior (S.Calhoun-2014)

There once lived a great warrior. Though quite old, he still was able to defeat any challenger. His reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him.

One day an infamous young warrior arrived at the village. He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great master. Along with his strength, he had an uncanny ability to spot and exploit any weakness in an opponent. He would wait for his opponent to make the first move, thus revealing a weakness, and then would strike with merciless force and lightning speed. No one had ever lasted with him in a match beyond the first move.

Much against the advice of his concerned students, the old master gladly accepted the young warrior’s challenge. As the two squared off for battle, the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old master. He threw dirt and spit in his face. For hours he verbally assaulted him with every curse and insult known to mankind. But the old warrior merely stood there motionless and calm. Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself. Knowing he was defeated, he left feeling shamed.

Somewhat disappointed that he did not fight the insolent youth, the students gathered around the old master and questioned him. “How could you endure such an indignity? How did you drive him away?”

“If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it,” the master replied, “to whom does the gift belong?”

from: Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors

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Cat Toy?

bird house

My favorite end cap at Giant Eagle is the one stocked full of products somewhere once offered as cannot live without premiums on TV, where, if you act right now, we’ll also send you. . .

The other day, I found this, maybe the ideal interspecies toy for indoor cats. We have five indoor cats. Susan gave a thumbs-down on doing the experiment.

(But there are endless experiments to possibly do! via Wired: How to use your cat to hack the neighbor’s wi-fi.)

bonus:

Originally posted in May 2012, Sonny today is two and half years old, sixteen pounds, and still retains a kitten’s disposition. He has a year old brother Kippie, who is also a Maine coon mix, so the flying is earthbound but multiplied by two. Actually, Sonny can be inspired to leap around a foot off the ground, which is about the length of his body not counting his tail.

Sonny

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Cat Spat

[Gregory Bateson] The first definite step in the formulation of the hypothesis guiding this research occurred in January, 1952, when I went to the Fleishhacker Zoo in San Francisco to look for behavioral criteria which would indicate whether any given organism is or is not able to recognize that the signs emitted by itself and other members of the species are signals. In theory, I had thought out what such criteria might look like?—that the occurrence of metacommunicative signs (or signals) in the stream of interaction between the animals would indicate that the animals have at least some awareness (conscious or unconscious) that the signs about which they metacommunicate are signals.

I knew, of course, that there was no likelihood of finding denotative messages among nonhuman mammals, but I was still not aware that the animal data would require an almost total revision of my thinking. What I encountered at the zoo was a phenomenon well known to everybody: I saw two young monkeys playing, i.e., engaged in an interactive sequence of which the unit actions or signals were similar to but not the same as those of combat. It was evident, even to the human observer, that the sequence as a whole was not combat, and evident to the human observer that to the participant monkeys this was ?“not combat.?”

Now, this phenomenon, play, could only occur if the participant organisms were capable of some degree of meta-communication, i.e., of exchanging signals which would carry the message ?“this is play.?”

(4) The next step was the examination of the message ?“This is play,?” and the realization that this message contains those elements which necessarily generate a paradox of the Russellian or Epimenides type -a negative statement containing an implicit negative metastatement. Expanded, the statement ?“This is play?” looks something like this: ?“These actions in which we now engage do not denote what those actions for which they stand would denote.?”

We now ask about the italicized words, ?“for which they stand.?” We say the word ?“cat?” stands for any member of a certain class. That is, the phrase ?“stands for?” is a near synonym of ?“denotes.?” If we now substitute ?“which they denote?” for the words ?“for which they stand?” in the expanded definition of play, the result is: ?“These actions, in which we now engage, do not denote what would be de-noted by those actions which these actions denote.?” The playful nip denotes the bite, but it does not denote what would be denoted by the bite.

According to the Theory of Logical Types such a message is of course inadmissible, because the word ?“denote?” is being used in two degrees of abstraction, and these two uses are treated as synonymous. But all that we learn from such a criticism is that it would be bad natural history to expect the mental processes and communicative habits of mammals to conform to the logician?’s ideal. Indeed, if human thought and communication always conformed to the ideal, Russell would not in fact could not have formulated the ideal.

(5) A related problem in the evolution of communication concerns the origin of what Korzybski,62 has called the map-territory relation: the fact that a message, of whatever kind, does not consist of those objects which it denotes (?“The word `cat?’ cannot scratch us?”). Rather, language bears to the objects which it denotes a relationship comparable to that which a map bears to a territory. Denotative communication as it occurs at the human level is only possible after the evolution of a complex set of metalinguistic (but not verbalized)63 rules which govern how words and sentences shall be related to objects and events. It is therefore appropriate to look for the evolution of such metalinguistic and/or meta-communicative rules at a prehuman and preverbal level.

It appears from what is said above that play is a phenomenon in which the actions of ?“play?” are related to, or denote, other actions of ?“not play.?” We therefore meet in play with an instance of signals standing for other events, and it appears, therefore, that the evolution of play may have been an important step in the evolution of communication.

(6) Threat is another phenomenon which resembles play in that actions denote, but are different from, other actions. The clenched fist of threat is different from the punch, but it refers to a possible future (but at present nonexistent) punch. And threat also is commonly recognizable among non-human mammals. Indeed it has lately been argued that a great part of what appears to be combat among members of a single species is rather to be regarded as threat (Tinbergen,64 Lorenz,65).

(7) Histrionic behavior and deceit are other examples of the primitive occurrence of map-territory differentiation. And there is evidence that dramatization occurs among birds: a jackdaw may imitate her own mood-signs (Lorenz66), and deceit has been observed among howler monkeys (Carpenter,67). [excerpt: 4.2 A Theory of Play and Fantasy, Steps to An Ecology of Mind, Gregory Bateson]

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The Precarity of the Estimate

Free Play Aug 4

This week, with the game on the line in the top of the last inning, the visiting team smartly aimed their offense at a weak spot in the infield and ended up with one single, one runner on base by error, and three successfully fielded ground balls. Outlier!

Then, needing a run to win with two outs in the bottom of the last inning, and bases loaded, this same fielder came up with his bust-to-boom hitting approach and pumped a pitch 300 feet for the walk-off win.

One run  game. Ideal obtained!

FreePlayRoster-Aug4

A simple example will show the nature of this difficulty. Consider some ball game played by a few people of approximately equal skill. If we knew a few particular facts in addition to our general knowledge of the ability of the individual players, such as their state of attention, their perceptions and the state of their hearts, lungs, muscles etc. at each moment of the game, we could probably predict the outcome. Indeed, if we were familiar both with the game and the teams we should probably have a fairly shrewd idea on what the outcome will depend. But we shall of course not be able to ascertain those facts and in consequence the result of the game will be outside the range of the scientifically predictable, however well we may know what effects particular events would have on the result of the game. This does not mean that we can make no predictions at all about the course of such a game. If we know the rules of the different games we shall, in watching one, very soon know which game is being played and what kinds of actions we can expect and what kind not. But our capacity to predict will be confined to such general characteristics of the events to be expected and not include the capacity of predicting particular individual events. Friedrich August Von Hayek

As the Free Play Softball handicapper for ten years, social systems/human cybernetic theories provide me with critical perspectives, none of which impact my ability to obtain the ideal of handicapping: a close game. Such perspectives are meta-related (second order in a cybernetic sense,) to the game at-hand. They allow me to not only be a participant/observer, but also to be informal analyst/ethnographer. Crucially, at least for my peace of mind, I can step back and consider the interplay of domains in the game but not of the game. Another consequence of how I view my role is: I make out line-ups knowing beforehand that any line-up possesses characteristics of some kinds,and, doesn’t possess characteristics of other kinds.

For example, line-ups do not possess the characteristic of embedding the eventual outcome of the game within their flux of estimations and generalizations.

They do reflect an on-the-spot generalization of a quick reconnaissance of performative variables. However, I know going into the exercise that the actual dynamic interplay of many player’s regression-to-the-Mean with the outlying performances of a handful of players is enough to falsify any hope for a close game, and realization of a game that objectifies actual parity. I make a very informed effort to design a close game and yet close games, decided by three or fewer runs, are comparatively rare.

(I have had occasion to point out to a few of the several players who monitor my handicapping track record that outlying negative performance of the better players and exceptional performances of the mediocre players tends to be more decisive than the mean performance of mediocre players.)

Other players theorize the line-ups. Player’s folk theorizing doesn’t bother me because I understand the double framework of the performative system: the Meta-system is focused by its norms and heuristics–a line-up is a heuristic–while the phenomenal system instantiates the precarity of performance. The latter system cannot ratify idealized estimations. Idealized estimations are heuristic; what players actually do to implement the five skills (hit, catch, throw, run, remember where they bat in the lineup,) is part of the phenomenal–enacted by experience–system.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Free Play Softball League for me, the inveterate researcher, is that I assume most players think meta-thoughts about the game and these in turn refer at least loosely to their cognition within their own contextualizing of their individual Free Play experience. I don’t know anybody else’s detailed specific system-making, but I do know how I contextualize the game. Players may regard the heuristics, regard their phenomenal experience of the game, and reflect upon and make connections between the two fields in completely different ways. There is something of the black box in this, but also, the line-up–which after all is a quasi-economic object too–is established to be the main totem of anticipation of outcome.

The line-up is a charismatic object, and along with this come, at times, a projection onto the handicapper which holds that in some direct way the result of the game is embedded by me (!) in the line-up. No, most times my estimations and generalizations, aimed to achieve parity, are falsified.

What allows me to put up with line-up related guff is my understanding something about the math of precarity in human systems.

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Artist’s Way of Flow

Alchemical Function versions

The first example is the final version. Second is the original photograph of lilies taken in our backyard, and then follow several versions. Recently, I’ve taken my one year+ experiments in applying symmetry translations to photographs and other sources in a new direction by applying additional generative content to the pre-mirrored raw sources. If that content is itself a symmetry, then I can mirror the symmetry in the mirroring of the conjoined source.

Alchemical Function

2014 – Alchemical Function – 18×12″ proof

The final version reflects–pun intended–the layering of a pattern over the photo of the lilies. This pattern was derived on the iPad using an app, then mirrored, enlarged, layered at partial opacity over the photograph and mirrored a last time.


symmetry experiments: tumblr

my naive art: online ongoing gallery

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Being a Hippie Changes Something

Moby Grape

Moby Grape – my first rock and roll record purchase

Action Schema

This schema comes from a Tumblr blog. I discovered it via a Google image search.

hippie-thoughts-o

I discovered this graphic via Google image search.

Hippie Action Schema

I put them together.

There is no reason to take a schema seriously if its context is a Google image search. I know because of my skillfulness in psychology that color used as a verb won’t cut it as an apt description of the psychological process that underlies intentional action. But, heck, I like the way the hippie graphic can be plugged in to the schema.

So, as hippies sometimes do, I just plug it in.

Old-Hippies

Damn, I am mostly bald forty-seven years after the Summer of Love.

I sometimes answer the question, What is your background? this way:

Being a hippie, and, music.

Many times this response compels a questioner of my age cohort to lean forward and in a near whisper reply:

I used to be a hippie.

Hippies were made fun of back in their heyday, and, old hippies remain low hanging targets. In the late nineties ‘hippie’ became the term on the internet for lumping liberals with progressives. This eventually led to concise formulas such as: Obama becoming President is all the fault of the hippies.

hoon

Hoon and pal Catherine at the Richmond Vermont commune, 1974


Although I moved to Vermont at 19 and spent formative years as a hippie in that most hippie-flavored state, its political blueness is the exception to the longstanding geography that demonstrates clearly that contemporary hippiedom is, quantitatively speaking, almost entirely a cosmopolitan phenomena.

For me, the essential character of my core hippie lesson is: experiment and retain negative capability against the pressure supplied by opportunities for belief.

Or, as John Lilly put it:

My beliefs are unbelievable.

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