Category Archives: serendipity

Penetrating Sensings I.

(1)

“The actual order (the Implicate Order) itself has been recorded in the complex movement of electromagnetic fields, in the form of light waves. Such movement of light waves is present everywhere and in principle enfolds the entire universe of space and time in each region. This enfoldment and unfoldment takes place not only in the movement of the electromagnetic field but also in that of other fields (electronic, protonic, etc.). These fields obey quantum-mechanical laws, implying the properties of discontinuity and non-locality. The totality of the movement of enfoldment and unfoldment may go immensely beyond what has revealed itself to our observations. We call this totality by the name holomovement.” David Bohm

(2)

In the free play of thought, creative intelligence responds to opposition and contradiction with new proposals.” David Bohm

dharma-wheel-gs

For me and my research into serendipity the notion of hidden connectedness yields to the notions of uninstantiated contingency and radial contingency. In the free play of uninstantiated contingency, sensitive (to radial contingency,) intelligence responds to possible fortuities and unknown potentials with new conjunctions.

Radial contingency means the possibilities that are located at the end of the spokes of a observer/participant’s awareness, as this awareness radiates outwardly toward other locations of awareness.

“The quantum field contains information about the whole environment and about the whole past, which regulates the present activity of the electron in much the same way that information about the whole past and our whole environment regulates our own activity as human beings, through consciousness.” David Bohm

Also, my experiential aesthetics being rooted in a theorization of generative learning are deeply informed by Bohm’s conception of enfoldment.

“Everybody has seen an image of enfoldment: You fold up a sheet of paper, turn it into a small packet, make cuts in it, and then unfold it into a pattern. The parts that were close in the cuts unfold to be far away. This is like what happens in a hologram. Enfoldment is really very common in our experience. All the light in this room comes in so that the entire room is in effect folded into each part. If your eye looks, the light will be then unfolded by your eye and brain. As you look through a telescope or a camera, the whole universe of space and time is enfolded into each part, and that is unfolded to the eye. With an old-fashioned television set that’s not adjusted properly, the image enfolds into the screen and then can be unfolded by adjustment.” David Bohm

David Bohm, Implicate Order and Holomovement (via scienceandnonduality.com)

Two Opposing Types of Order (via Learning to See Timelessness, everythingforever.com)

Interview (1997) with F. David Peat

David Bohm’s Theory of the Implicate Order: Implications for Holistic Thought Processes
Irene J. Dabrowski ISSUES IN INTEGRATVE STUDIES No. 13, pp. 1-23 (1995)

Morphic Fields and the Implicate Order A dialogue with David Bohm (Rupert Sheldrake)

David Bohm.net (curated home page || The David Bohm Society

Mandala-Bohm-quote

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in education, experiential learning, philosophy, psychology, Religion, science, self-knowledge, serendipity | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Flux of Serendipity

Kate, her sister Holly, my wife Susan, with custom pizzas each designed

Kate, her sister Holly, my wife Susan, with custom pizzas each designed

I told my new friend David, ‘last night the Kuper sisters came over for dinner.’

Kate has been a friend of mine since around the summer of 1967, and I met her the first time in the early weeks of seventh grade. At some unknown point during that same time I met her older sister Holly and her younger brother Peter. By the time ninth grade started in the fall of 1968, Kate and her two girlfriends Joan and Sarah were pretty much my closest friends. And, I spent a lot of time at the Kuper’s house because the Kupers were a simply joyful, creative and cool bunch.

Fifty years later, Kate lives with her family in Illinois, and Holly lives with her family outside Dallas. Earlier yesterday I met Kate and Holly, along with some family friends, who came together at the tree planted in memory of their wonderful parents. There I met Mrs. Johnson, who was both a Kuper family friend, a friend of my late mother’s, and, a teacher at Hawken School at the same time I was there as a member of the class of 1972.

After I told my new friend David, ‘last night the Kuper sisters came over for dinner,’ he told me how he would have liked to have been there because he knew the Kupers too, and, in fact, Buzz and Ginger ran in the same activist circles David’s own parents ran in from the sixties onward.

This is not an example of a dramatic coincidence. Over my years of thinking about serendipity, I have come to recognize how stable is the web of local potentials and contingencies when the location of persons is close by one another, and they share preoccupations, and, in effect, the channels for binding relationships are readily accessible.

However, there are hidden features too that make the total contemporary arrangement the result of very fragile arrays of realized contingencies. I am a new friend of David’s because I ventured into his garage sale a year ago, and he responded to his sense that I looked familiar by asking what was my name. In fact, we figured out that although we were not even acquaintances during our one shared school year, that it was likely sometime at the end of the 1972 school year we last caught sight of one another.

I was in a position to go to the garage sale by virtue of a huge array of realized contingencies, and one of the first order ones concerned my high school spanish teacher Mr. Carter, who gave me three “D’s” rather than flunking me–when I had earned the F. A first term F in Spanish would have shaken up my deck a bit, and, it probably was the case that when David remembered me from spanish class he was remembering me retaking my second year of spanish. In any case, the three D’s thankfully destroyed my grade-point average. In turn I did not do well enough to go to Haverford, the college David matriculated to two years after my senior class graduated.

But, there was yesterday Mrs. Johnson who shared an office with Mr. Carter, as both were foreign language teachers together. Had this same Mr. Carter treated me more realistically I might have missed out on being shot by a holdup man while working in a record store the summer of 1974. Moreover, David doesn’t learn the Kuper sisters are visiting Cleveland Heights from distant homes because I wouldn’t likely be back in Cleveland because the family crisis that precipitated by return to my hometown in late 1992 may well have not have taken place had my own life path gone even a little bit differently.

Whether or not the web of contingency and causality extends to the Kuper sisters is, at once, a seeming kind of hard problem, or, is itself mixed in with my actual relations with Kate in the two years I remained in Cleveland, prior to being shot in June 1974, because we reconnected in the fall of 1973, after she returned from a long trip abroad.

At the same time, we’re having dinner together last night in one respect because of the serendipitous reconfiguration instantiated by the hold-up man who walked into Music Madness on Lee Road on a Thursday, forty one years earlier in June 1974, took all the cash the store had earned that day, had me lay down on the floor of the backroom office, and, finally shot meat point blank range in the back. Thank goodness.

In the combination of the more stable ecology of local contingent ‘webs’ and the less stable non-local ecologies–when persons leave their family of origin he or she lands in a non-local ecology–the fragility of realized conjunction and potential conjunctions becomes many times more complex, dynamic and, where dynamical complexity increases so does fragility.

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in personal, serendipity | Leave a comment

Boojums, Anti-finality, Art, and Learning

Stephen Calhoun, fine artist, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118

African Alchemy – African Alchemy Inversion

 

I’ve been in the season of collecting desiccated Lily blossoms from the Lily patches in our yard and the yard of our neighbors, a retired couple. I walk over and show proofs and drafts of new pieces to ‘Mrs. Neighbor,’ when these involve stuff I’ve picked from the floor of their wonderful, large garden of perennials. The other day, I caught both of them and showed them the photo on the left, African Alchemy. Mrs. Neighbor always asks me to invert the image from the geometry I’ve decided upon. Once the photo was turned upside down–inverted–Mr. Neighbor almost immediately remarked that he liked the inversion better than the ‘pre-inversion.’

I like it better this way! (turned upside down)

I studied it. I nodded my head. I walked away wondering whether or not I could create a new piece out of the inversion, or, join the new pieces into a two panel, and new, piece. A new two panel piece could be immense, 74 inches wide by 54 inches in height.

As an artist of the sort of artist I happen to be, the feedback of a viewer which challenges me to pursue a specific experiment further is simply part of the territory my vision for my art and artistic life inhabits.

With respect to this transaction and response, my outlook intends for the transaction to admit a potential for recursion back into the unfinished project.

“Just the place for a Snark!” the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair.

“Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true.” 

The Hunting of the Snark – Lewis Carroll

The predicate for the recursion is: uncertainty. There is no completed piece. My work obtains its imperfect goal by virtue of the engaged viewer. There is: the piece, the unaltered (abductive) experiential sense, the abductive experiential sense which requires an altered or alternate explanation.  Three times true.

But then I discovered that the rule of three was not invented by Lewis Carroll. It is far older and used to be called nolo episcopari: I don’t want to be a bishop. The idea was that when somebody was appointed bishop it was a given that they would be too humble to accept the post: that’s what Christian humility means. So they would say nolo episcopari meaning “I don’t want to be a bishop”. They were meant to say this twice as a matter of etiquette. On the third request they were meant to surrender and take the mitre. If they did not, if they said nolo episcopari a third time, it was assumed that they were telling the truth and a new candidate was sought. To say something twice may be mere manners, Truth speaks thrice. – Mark Forsythe, author, The Inky Fool

Kailash Awati ends his excellent article about Carroll’s The Paradox of the Learning Organization,

Conclusion. Experts and consultants have told us many times over that the journey towards a learning organisation is one worth making….and as the as the Bellman in Carroll’s poem says: “What I tell you three times is true.” Nevertheless, the reality is that instances in which learning actually occurs tend to be more a consequence of accident than plan, and tend to be transient than lasting. Finally, and perhaps most important, the Snark may turn out to Boojum: people may end up learning truths that the organisation would rather remained hidden. And therein lies the paradox of the learning organisation.

See also, The Hunting of the Learning Organization. A Paradoxical Journey – Paul Tosey, Univ. of Surreypdf

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in adult learning, experiential learning, serendipity, social psychology, organizational development | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Discovering Novel Approaches

squareone learning

Learning Intention: Suggest ways of contemplating the problem I have with a person who just will not walk their talk.

comment:

First, a Cube-O-Probe casting from the newest Cube Sets, Archetypal #3, Archetypal #4, and Experiential learning #3.

Second, this learning intention isn’t directly my own, I’ve borrowed another person’s challenge and used his challenge to fashion a worthwhile intention. Note the intention precedes the casting of the Cube-O-Probe. It addresses a common enough problem.

Third, Because I’m expert at formulating learning intentions in the context of prospecting for transformative learning, this nicely shaped intention displays the several facets of a well-shaped intention to learn. It doesn’t ask for a solution, it asks for suggestions. It aims at deploying helpful ideas for the sake of exploring better ideas.

Fourth, The pole opposite TRANSITIONAL is HEROIC. (The given opposite of a pairing rendered by a cube is the pole of the pair that cannot be shown at the same time as its opposite. It is on the other side of the cube!)

Alterity is a philosophical and anthropological term meaning “otherness”, strictly being in the sense of the other of two (Latin alter). It is also increasingly being used in media to express something other than the sameness of the imitative, numbing conformity often found in today’s mass media. (…fairly good snap definition, via Wikipedia)

In philosophy, the phenomenological tradition it is usually understood as the entity in contrast to which an identity is constructed, and it implies the ability to distinguish between self and not-self, and consequently to assume the existence of an alternative viewpoint.

serenity-prayer-051

 

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in adult learning, experiential learning, self-knowledge, serendipity | Tagged | Leave a comment

Cubes Upon Cubes

Archetypal-Cubes-3

Values for Archetypal Cubes – set #3 (2 cubes)

archetypal-cubes-4

Values for Archetypal Cubes – set #4 (2 cubes)

The cubes of the Cube-O-Probe are color coded to make it easy to constitute different aggregates from the several sets.

The following is one cube set of dichotomies taken from what I term the Covert Pairs of the experiential learning theory of David A. Kolb.

set of dichotomies taken from what I term the Covert Pairs of the experiential learning theory of David A. Kolb

Tomorrow I’ll use the set to address a situation for learning.

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in adult learning, analytic(al) psychology, experiential learning, Kenneth Warren, my research, psychology, self-knowledge, serendipity | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Spontaneous Relationship “Be-crossed”

squareONE experiential toolmakers

“authenticity cross”

Intention to Learn: Suggest animated entryways to making sense of relationship forsaked.

(The above diagram melds together two transformative learning devices, The Cube-O-Probe, and Playing Opposites.)

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in adult learning, experiential learning, personal, self-knowledge, serendipity | Leave a comment

Spontaneous Relationship

spontaneous relationship

People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.” I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds. Carl Rogers

One cost of my understanding that the most golden opportunity is being with/doing with people, is uncovered when I learn what the other’s perception is of this primary urge of mine. Additionally, I could catalog the rationales for other person’s disinterest, or, otherwise, for someone not wishing to step toward relationship.

Sometimes a person who has rebuffed my offer might wander back to where our two atmospheres and breath-making intersect, and this seems to offer the playing out of a beginning, grief, authenticity.

Writ to the scale of practice, questions about the varieties of relationship remain under-appreciated. Often considerations of relationship are subsumed by regard for communicative elements, yet this can come to filter such considerations, and do so to the point that understanding of communication comes at the expense of understanding relationship.

Carl Rogers: Core Conditions and Education

The definition of a relationship depends not merely upon the skeleton of events which make up the interaction but also upon the way the individuals concerned see and interpret these events. Thus seeing or interpreting can be regarded as the application of a set of propositions about the world or the self for whose validity depends upon the subject’s believe in them. The individuals are partially free to interpret their world according to the premises of the respective character structure, and the freedom to do this is still further increased by the phenomena of selective awareness and by the fact that the perceiving individual plays a part in creating the appropriate sequences of action by contributing his own his own action to the sequence. (Gregory Bateson, Juergen Ruesch, 1951, The Social matrix of Psychiatry)

In stepping back from most bare bones conceptions of relationship, the multiple operational loops of dynamic construal and “intra-enactive” responses come to be revealed. Who are you? It is the most penetrating question possible.

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in adult learning, personal, self-knowledge, serendipity | Leave a comment

Pre-Probe – Generating Paradox

Cross Format - Cube-O-Probe

Cross Format – Cube-O-Probe

Ken and I tossed the ‘Probe before our staff development moment at Wadsworth Public Library. It identified some factors to consider before our program. For example, Ken and I discussed how to keep the group coloring within the lines of our process for the sake of both clarity and effectiveness. It was good head’s up.

As a procedural heuristic device, the Cube-O-Probe sets a sunny top three cubes and a lunar bottom three cubes, with the two X-axis cubes mediating both above and below.

The above toss, spilled out prior to this afternoon’s program, is welcome as it suggests it would be wise to think about over-theorizing–going too far–in the direction of the normative theory in this afternoon’s virtual program (for the Experiential Learning Community of PracticeGenerating Paradox. Overt and Covert Polarities in David A. Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle.

The other half of the lunar side carries a more ominous hint upon which to reflect.

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in Kenneth Warren, self-knowledge, serendipity | Tagged | Leave a comment

Coincidentally Fragile

NWO-Serendipity

via Tom Woolley, Samson University

 

Confusions about probability cause probable errors. A possible conjunction supposes a chance of eventuation and has a chance of happening, yet after it has happened its chances of happening collapse to unity by virtue of the happening having occurred.

If/When
When Jesus is Lord of your life, there are no coincidences. Dick Luchtenberg, Journey to Freedom

“There are no coincidences in life.” Glenn Beck

“It is my purpose to show that it is logically impossible to ascribe any power to chance whatever… If chance exists in its frailest possible form, God is finished… If chance exists in any size, shape or form, God cannot exist.” R.C. Sproul. 1994. Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science and Cosmology

“If one likes one could ascribe this randomness to God, but it would be a very strange kind of intervention: there is no evidence that it was directed toward any purpose. Indeed if it were, it would, by definition not be random.” Stephen Hawking

Time to consult the Cube-O-Probe. Probe, in what direction might fruitful territory be discovered for further investigation of the aspects of coincidence and a priori requisite in the quiddity of eventuation?

probe

Comment: The Probe suggests an obvious investigatory dialectical vector between the practical consideration of the marriage of the apparently opposite chance and foreordained, with the completely knotty problem of seeking essential morality within this same interplay. Here also is the ping-ponging between theological and Newtonian determinism, and maybe this could give into finding dual forms for morality. Once again the Cube-O-Probe charts the way!

 

clown-probe

 

Doxastic commitment, or “soul in the game”: You can only believe predictions and opinions by those who committed themselves to a certain belief, and had something to lose, in a way to pay a cost in being wrong. Nassim Taleb (from the Anti-Fragile Glossary)

“The general principle of antifragility, it is much better to do things you cannot explain than explain things you cannot do.” – Nassim Taleb

coincidence (OED)

[a. F. coïncidence, L. type *coincidentia: see coincident and -ence.]

1. a.1.a The fact or condition of being coincident; the occupation of the same place or part of space.

1626 Bacon Sylva (1677) §224 There can be no Coincidence in the eye, or Visual Point.    1715 Cheyne Philos. Prin. Relig. (J.), The coincidence of the planes of this rotation with one another, and with the plane of the ecliptick.    1831 Brewster Newton I. x. 222 The singleness of the picture arises from the coincidence of the two pictures.    1870 R. M. Ferguson Electr. 33 This want of coincidence of the points of vertical dip and of maximum intensity.

fig. or transf.    1650 Fuller Pisgah v ii. §5 By a casuall coincidence some straggling words of the Athenians may meet in the mouths of the veriest Barbarians.    1847 Emerson Repr. Men, Plato Wks. I. 304 The rare coincidence, in one ugly body, of the droll and the martyr.

b.1.b (with pl.) A case of coincidence.

1837 Whewell Hist. Induc. Sci. (1857) I. 153 The method of making visual coincidences.    1880 Adams in Times 28 Dec. 10/2 The new line-spectra, the real basic lines of those substances which show coincidences.

2.2 Occurrence or existence at the same time; simultaneous occurrence or existence.

1650 Fuller Pisgah iii. iii. §8 There might be a casuall coincidence of this feast and his presence at Jerusalem.    1681 More Expos. Daniel 257 There is a Coincidence, at least of time.    1722 Susanna Wesley in Eliza Clarke Life (1886) 130 There hardly ever was a greater coincidence of unprosperous events in one family.    1837 H. Martineau Soc. Amer. III. 297 A happy coincidence of outward plenty with liberal institutions.    1878 Huxley Physiogr. xx. 342 The coincidence of twelve by the clock with noon by the sun-dial?is exact only four times in the year.

3. a.3.a Exact agreement or correspondence in substance, nature, character, etc.

1605 Bacon Adv. Learn. ii. v. §3 Is there not a true coincidence between commutative and distributive justice, and arithmetical and geometrical proportion?    a?1716 South Serm. VII. v. (R.), Those who discourse metaphysically of the nature of truth?affirm a perfect coincidence between truth and goodness.    1831 Brewster Newton (1855) II. xxiv. 352 The coincidence of the religious views of Sir Isaac Newton with those of John Locke.    1876 Grote Eth. Fragm. iii. 58 These two ends of action are sometimes found in conflict, but more frequently in coincidence.

b.3.b (with pl.) An instance of such agreement or correspondence.

a?1661 Fuller Worthies (1840) I. 201 A local coincidence, which?cannot be paralleled.    1736 Butler Anal. ii. vii. 356 Evidence arising from various coincidences.    1790 Paley Horæ Paul. Rom. ii. 13 Such coincidences may fairly be stated as undesigned.    1867 Freeman Norm. Conq. (1876) I. App. 724 A remarkable series of undesigned coincidences in favour of the belief.

4.4 A notable concurrence of events or circumstances having no apparent causal connexion.

a?1682 Sir T. Browne Let. to Friend (Camelot ed.) 185 That he should also take King Francis prisoner upon that day [of his nativity], was an unexpected coincidence.    1821 De Quincey Confess. Wks. 1863 I. 96, I felt it at the time?as a singular coincidence, that twice, etc.    1823 Byron Juan vi. lxxviii, A ‘strange coincidence,’ to use a phrase By which such things are settled now-a-days.    1829 Scott Guy M. Introd., The fact, if truly reported, is one of those singular coincidences which occasionally appear.    1865 Livingstone Zambesi xix. 378 It might be only a coincidence.

5.5 Of persons: Agreement or concurrence (in opinion or sentiment).

1795 Hull Advertiser 28 Nov. 3/1 Mr. Sturt?expressed his co-incidence with the sentiments of [the Petition].    1800 Wellington in Owen Disp. 647 You are already apprized of my entire coincidence in your opinion.    1800 Syd. Smith Six Serm. 60 A modest coincidence with received opinions above our faculties.

†6.6 Falling together, conjunction blending. Obs.

c?1645 Howell Lett. (1650) II. 88 The Latine tongue, with the coincidence of the Goths language and other northern peeple.

7. a.7.a Physics. The indication of the occurrence of ionizing particles in two or more detectors simultaneously (see quot. 1958). Also attrib. Cf. anti-coincidence.

1930 Physical Rev. XXXV. 651/2 Enormously increased resolving power can be obtained by the requirement of multiple instead of paired coincidences. The attainment of very great freedom from accidental coincidences is of greatest importance [etc.].    Ibid. 652/1 Automatic recording of the amount of the penetrating radiation coming from particular areas of the sky, using two tube-counters and a special ‘coincidence circuit’.    1938 R. W. Lawson tr. Hevesy & Paneth’s Man. Radioactivity (ed. 2) xxv. 280 Insertion of sheets of lead between the counters only slightly diminishes the number of simultaneous discharges (coincidences), and this proves that we are here confronted?with cosmic rays.    1940, etc. [see anti-coincidence].    1958 Van Nostrand’s Sci. Encycl. (ed. 3) 369/1 A true coincidence is one that is due to the detection of a single particle or of several genetically related particles. An accidental, chance, or random coincidence is one that is due to the fortuitous occurrence of unrelated counts in the separate detectors.

b.7.b Computers. Equivalent signals received simultaneously in an electronic circuit; the reception of such signals. Also attrib.

1947 Rev. Sci. Instruments XVIII. 907/1 In order to reduce chance coincidences to a minimum, it is necessary to use a coincidence circuit.    1948 Ibid. XIX. 565/2 Methods can be found for modulating one of the E.M.T.’s?so that the E.M.T.’s themselves form a coincidence or anticoincidence system.    1950 C. B. Tompkins et al. High-Speed Computing Devices iv. 37 An electronic gate is a circuit with a single output and two (or more) inputs so designed that an output signal is produced when, and only when, input signals are received on both (or on a particular set of) input leads. Such circuits are variously known as gates, coincidence circuits, Rossi circuits, or logical and circuits.    1953 A. D. & K. H. V. Booth Automatic Digital Calculators xi. 111 Coincidence sensers. In computing machine design it is frequently necessary to have available means for ascertaining the identity of two quantities.    1964 M. J. Pedelty in Tou & Wilcox Computer Sci. x. 248 The essence of the system?is that signals are ‘broadcast’ on a ‘to-whom-it-may-concern’ basis. Coincidence gates and delays can then be used to detect certain pulse patterns from the ‘broadcast alphabet’.

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in cultural contradictions, experiential learning, my research, Religion, science, serendipity | Tagged | Leave a comment

Maslow + Cube-O-Probe Mashup

MaslowC-o-P

Right hand column is what I term a totem. Cube were randomly drawn in a bottom-to-top order. The cubes were next placed against the basic classes of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This creates novel, and other types, of pairings.

Question 1: what kind of pairs are these kinds of pairs?

Question 2: what does each pair assert?

Bonus Question: What potential for learning is neuro-phenomenologically encoded in pairs–such as, these kinds of pairs? Simple version of this question; What are the ways we may get at the assertions of each pair?
note to self:
Coupling
Congruent Pair
Incongruent Pair
Novel Pair
Dynamic Pair
Significant Pair
Dichotomy
Opposite
Polarity
Pure Dialectic
Spiral Dialectic
Transitive Dialectic
Replacement Dialectic
Modal Dialectic
Abductive Dialectic
Ecstatic Dialectic

 

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in experiential learning, psychological anthropology, serendipity | Tagged , | Leave a comment

As Below, So Above

epiphanium

My essay, Liberating the Stars From Space & Timewhen completed. will complete the narrative concerned with how I came to necessarily etch a limit to my philosophical ability, and, in doing so, squish thousands of years of astrology into tools able to exist in my flatland.

These tools do not either make predictions or anchor person and possibility to a priori requisites. On the other hand, in future experimental philosophical research, I will attempt to show to some greater degree how these flatlander’s astro-psychological tools connect up with other over-arching concerns of mine, serendipity in adult development, the praxis of polarity and paradox, and the ‘action’ pragmatics given in the third order human/social cybernetics.

Until this essay is ready-to-roll, there’s a new page here that skates over the surface of my promethean poke, Cybernetic Liberation of Astrology.

zodiac_young_anim

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in analytic(al) psychology, cultural contradictions, my research, play, psychological anthropology, psychology, self-knowledge, serendipity | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Fate of Public Libraries

LIBRARIES-DSC03523

The fate of public libraries is unknown. However, perhaps a random delivery from the Cube-O-Probe set to the Heaven & Hell four square format could induce compelling intuitions and predictive  abductions.

This capture might benefit from facilitation.

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in experiential learning, Libraries & Librarianship, my research, serendipity | Tagged | Leave a comment

Maybe (Teaching Story)

Sun-Chariot-Lunar

“Maybe”

Once upon a time a peasant had a horse. This horse ran away,so the peasant’s neighbors came to console him for his bad luck. He answered: “Maybe”.

The day after the horse came back, leading 6 wild horses with it. The neighbors came to congratulate him on such good luck. The peasant said: “Maybe”.

The day after, his son tried to saddle and ride on one of the wild horses, but he fell down and broke his leg. Once again the neighbors came to share that misfortune. The peasant said: “Maybe”.

The day after, soldiers came to conscript the youth of the village, but the peasant’s son was not chosen because of his broken leg. When the neighbors came to congratulate, the peasant said again :”May be”.

(Huai Nan Tzu)

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in experiential learning, serendipity | Tagged | Leave a comment

New squareONE Tool: Cube-O-Probe

Cube-O-Probe

Intention: What are clues to the positive and negative aspects of using the Cube-O-Probe?

 

 

[Above: random Cube-O-Probe “roll” nailed to the Heaven & Hell Mandala. In this form for interpretation, the Heavenly opportunities are betwixt the cubes in the upper right quadrant, and the Hellish obstacles are between the cubes in the lower left quadrant. These two conventions are explicit conceptual anchors given to the heuristic means of the tool. Less explicit would be what Ken and I call the flickering aspects in the other two quadrants.]

I invented, with assistance from Kenneth Warren, two new squareONE tools over the last several months. Both have applications in discovery-based self-knowledge. Additionally, the Cube-O-Probe has already been given a trial run as a method for adducing insight about organizational development. As it turns out, the Cube-O-Probe is organically integrated with the earlier tool, Calhoun/Warren Heaven & Hell Archetypal Assessment Mandala because the form of the Mandala provides a very sharp interpretive format for the roll of the cubes.

The ‘Archetypal Assessment Mandala,’ as this is being written, is being beta tested  by intrepid volunteers. It was rolled out to participants at Ken and my program Repairing the Opposites, Doubling Stars, Turning Swine Into Pears, that we presented at the Analytical Psychology Society of Western New York December 12th.

I am working on a post to explain how I came to liberate astrology from the confines of space and time, and also free astrology from its deterministic meta-theories. In doing so, I could add on additional cubes to the new tool the Cube-O-Probe. Those add-on cubes increase the original set of cubes based in masculine, feminine, mythological archetypes, and psychodynamic polarities (or dichotomies,) and, the explicit so-called oppositions of the typological constructs taken from Dr. Jung and variously identified by John Beebe and John Giannini.

These new cubes, based in a matrix devised from the basic developmental psychological positions given by the twelve houses and twelve signs–think of the signs as a Y axis, and the houses as a X axis–implicate those positions and also the polarities given in the astro-psychology to be food for reflection/exploration/self-discovery.

The Cube-O-Probe is anchored to my theoretical wondering about the role of generative inducements for praxis using polarities in personal meaning-making. In turn, this has to do with freeing practical means for self-knowledge from linear and stage-based regimens of self-seeking. Both these ‘second orders’ of experiential learning aim at providing spontaneous ‘third order’ methods for self-recognition and self-development, or, alternately, for synchronic (insight-based,) individuation.

 

 

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in adult learning, analytic(al) psychology, experiential learning, Kenneth Warren, my research, self-knowledge, serendipity | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Dreams, Late Summer 2014

 

S.Calhoun, 2014

Ship Wreck, Tiled Version #1 (S.Calhoun, 2014)

Dream #1

I’m driving a winding road on a nice summer day and I drive out of the countryside and then I’m on a winding road by a big lake and the road starts to wind down toward this coast.

I sense I’m going a little too fast. Seems in control but I start on a big turn just as a village and pier come into sight. I see a big white yacht and and a group of sharply dressed grown-ups. This distracts me and the next thing the car flies off the road, flies off the hillside and heads right toward the yacht.

I don’t experience the actual crash to any dramatic degree.

Seen changes. I’m a very old man in a small house. Our car Sassy is very old and on my lap. There is a sign among the picture on the wall and it says: 2044.

I slowly become oriented to the room I’m in. A dark haired woman in a maid’s uniform is standing off to the side.

A crippled man comes in the front door. I shake his hand and he turns and tosses his cain away.

An old lady come in and tells me she can’t hear anything. I touch her ears, and say to her, “How about now.”

She nods her head.

I turn to the cat (Sassy) on my lap and say, “It always surprises me every single time that I can do that.”

From behind me, the maid says: “It’s your atonement.” (The maid carries a substantive tone: sober, attentive, prepared. She’s pretty in a severe way, and middle-aged.)

When I look toward her, the sign now says 2050. I feel ninety-six years old too. The cat on my lap is very still, maybe coming to her end.

More people come to be healed one by one.

After a healed girl leaves, the maid comes up behind me and puts her hand on what I realize is a wheelchair, and pushes me through the front door onto a wide porch. There’s a line of hurting people waiting near the door. Yet, when she pushes me onto the porch, she says to me over my shoulder,

“Then there’s your other legacy to remember.” She turns the chair to the right and pushes it to the very edge of the porch.

At that, I look down the hillside. I hear music. It’s dusk. At the bottom of the hill I see an enormous colorful carnival with lots of people, and I can hear the sounds of the celebration as it carries from there to my front porch.

Dream #2

I.
I’m watching out a big main window on the second floor of a large club–it may be a yacht club–at an odd scene. Lots of people gathered on the 2nd floor porch and are looking up in the sky. I can see the glint and gleam of the sun on a clear day flashing and reflecting off small stuff floating in the sky.

I step outside into the crowd and look up. I see small metallic umbrellas. A boy next to me tugs on my pants and says: “they are robotic.”

I walk down the porch near of kids and observe the robotic umbrellas coming almost within reach. But then they stop and hover and gleam. Some seem to be copper, others silver or aluminum.

Suddenly, I’m struck that I need to go get my turntable. I fetch it and set it up on a small table on the far edge of the porch. I go back to get a record to play on it. When I return moments later, to my shock, the turntable is gone.

I shout to no one in particular but to the assembly of adults and kids, “Never mind the robots, somebody took my turntable!” I feel very upset and realize no one cares about my turntable.

II.
A bird’s eye view of me on a scooter, propelling myself down a suburban sidewalk. Attached to my waste is a yellow rope and it drags along a small wooden rectangular box. The box is the same dimensions as a shoe box, but twice as deep. It has no lid.The right side of the sidewalk is very rough and cracked and holes appear every now and then. It seems important enough to keep on that side of the sidewalk that I hale joggers in front of me to move left.

I come to a big intersection. I wait for the Walk signal. Other people come to the intersection. I ask several of the people, “Have you seen my turntable?”

Then, realizing I missed the Walk signal, I step out into the intersection. I feel lost for a moment. Then a police car rolls up and the officer jumps out.

“What are you doing in the road?”

“I’m waiting for the signal and looking for my turntable.”

“You’re breaking the law.”

He grabs me and forces me up against his car and pins me there with one hand. With the other he turns on his walkie talkie.

He makes a call.

“I’ve got a problem here and I’m going to make an arrest.”

Pause.

“It seems to me the person is disoriented and it’s probably a Code Between the Eyes.”

He pens the door and shoves me in the police car.

III.

At the station, I argue with the sergeant at the desk that there’s been a mistake. He tells me, “The officer is experienced and he says it’s a textbook case of insanity. He says you were going on and on about your turntable.”

I tell him I think somebody stile my turntable.

“The judge will determine what happened.”

The scene changes to a court room. It’s just me, the officer, a prosecutor, and a judge. The prosecution makes a case based in my missing the walk signal and then stepping into the intersection. The judge tells me its my turn.

I agree to the facts as stated, but then I say,

“This is the exact kind of case in which expert opinion is required. Both accounts agree, but, since I’m not insane, the conclusion differs.”

The judge responds, “I see this and I will gave you and the officer work it out.”

Now the officer and I sit at the classic steel table in an interrogation room.

He states the several facts in order. Each fact he asserts I respond by asking him,

“Have you ever done the same thing?”

He replies every time, “Yes, I have.”

Back in the court room, the judge calls the officer and me to the bench.

He states the following:

“We had two psychiatrists observe your mediation. Both, after some discussion in chambers, agree, that Calhoun is not insane. They both were impressed at Calhoun’s sane method of deconstructing his insanity, and so their expert opinion is that no insane person would be able to do the deconstruction Calhoun managed to do.”

I feel relieved. I turn the officer and tell him, “We’re not very different.”

The judge tells me that I am free to go.

This feels like a victory.

Dream #3

From above the scene unfolds as if shot from a helicopter: a huge mixed group of people is running between two brick walls, maybe about twenty feet wide, and the walls are set in a large field.

The perspective changes to pick me out of the crowd. I’m running with it. The walls are old and ten+ feet tall. The feel of the crowd is that they are motivated, compelled–I feel this about the crowd–and, yet, I do not know what is really going on.

Next the perspective is first person, through my eyes, at ground level, and amidst the crowd. The walls are slowly converging. The crowd slows down. I continue to the front where I come to a wooden door with a window in it. At the door, in the window, I see very clearly my reflection, except I’m a young man with long hair, maybe around twenty years old.

I’m impressed with the trick: I feel my current age but see a young man.

I open the door and start walking. People from the crowd come through the door and squeeze past mer and start running again. This passage between the walls is not the width of a doorway.

I kind jostles me as he passes me, and squirts by and starts running. Then I see he is being chased by a young man in black pajamas. I think he is a fundamentalist of some sort.

The narrow path looks to end up ahead at a wall perpendicular to the two walls. I walk fast and come to see the path ends and one can go left or right. I see the boy at this wall ahead. He jumps into a hole in the wall but cannot get through, and so there is just the site of his blue shorts, bare legs, red sneakers, and the man in in black reaching him.

The man in black stops and starts spanking the boy’s behind. I trot up next to him and ask him,

“What’s the problem?”

“The boy disagreed with me, so I’m punishing him.”

I get the man’s full attention, put my hand up, palms facing toward him. I tell him,

“Instead of punishing him, let’s pray. That is the best thing to do when you disagree.”

I went to my knees, as did the man in black. We started praying.

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in analytic(al) psychology, experiential learning, personal, psychology, self-knowledge, serendipity | Tagged | Leave a comment

Generative Alchemy

Brueghel - The Alchemist

Brueghel: The Alchemist

Calhoun Generative Art
The Alchemy of Symmetry – Excerpt from Brueghel’s The Alchemist
S.Calhoun (2014) 10×10″

This piece is part of a large series that will likely be presented in a short film. The film is intended to show the interplay of manipulations and recursions involved in generating different pieces.

I dedicate this new series to Ms. Uidhi. (I may be one of a handful of artists, or pseudo-artists, focusing on creative luckiness in the context of a post-academic post-scholarly focus on the situation of serendipity in adult development. This could include meandering into philosophical swamps.

IP LAF Forum: Christy Mag Uidhi on Artistic Serendipity vs. Artistic Luck, 25 Sept

Tuesday 23 September 2014

INSTITUTE OF PHILOSOPHY

Thurs 25 September 2014, 4.00pm
IP London Aesthetics Forum: Room G34, Senate House, WC1
Artistic Serendipity vs. Artistic Luck
Christy Mag Uidhi (Houston)
Supported by the British Society of Aesthetics

It is standardly thought that artworks may gain and lose art-relevant properties over time (and thereby may also admit of similar gains and losses in artistic value). From this it follows that insofar as such gains and losses may be well outside the control of the artist, we ought to expect any minimally adequate theory of art and its value as such to come with (or at least be amenable to) some minimal notion of artistic luck and artistic achievement (such that ascriptions of the one undermine ascriptions of the other). In this talk, I’ll sketch what I take to be uncontroversial minimal accounts of both artistic luck and artistic achievement. From these I show it to follow that if artworks must be products of intentional action, then there can be no such thing as artistic luck (either descriptively or evaluatively). I claim the only formative role luck might play in our understanding of art and its value as such is to provide the means by which we may productively carve out an informative sub-class of artistic achievement: specifically that of artistic serendipity.

Ends.

[My bold.] Intention, serendipity. Intentional serendipity is pseudo-serendipity. It is a kind of search routine. I don’t subscribe to the idea that intentionality is properly monolithic or exclusionary. But, I concede that psychologizing the artist’s creative process may take my own considerations and sensemaking out of and away from a proper philosophy of aesthetics.

Nor do I know what Ms. Mag Uidhi has in mind to flesh out the intriguing precis.

For my own part, there is so much in my creative process that permits creative intention-up-to-the-point of pulling the curtains away, and, thus includes less discrete combinations of intention and, fundamentally, hope about the unknown!

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in cultural contradictions, my research, philosophy, serendipity, visual experiments, my art | Leave a comment

Inside the Psychologist’s Studio With Albert Bandura

Dr. Bandura wrote one of the few and most important papers on serendipity in adult development; except the paper, Exploration of Fortuitous Determinants of Life Paths (pdf), traffics in fortuity rather than serendipity!

“Perceptions are guided by preconceptions. Observers’ cognitive competencies and perceptual sets dispose them to look for some things but not others. Their expectations not only channel what they look for but partly affect what features they extract from observations and how they interpret what they see and hear.” ~ Albert Bandura, Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory, 1986

This quote provides more than an echo of William James. Bandura occupies an important spot in the Jamesian ideational lineage.

He’ll turn ninety next year.

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in adult learning, serendipity, social psychology, organizational development | Tagged | Leave a comment

Roots of My Urbanology (II.)

Lakewood Totem
Totem For Lakewood; 2010 S.Calhoun

II. Roots of (My) Urbanology (part two of three parts)

In 1972, my mother suggested that I might find Lewis Mumford interesting. Although I was mostly concerned with–in 1972–squeezing through various doors of perception, I managed to wander through Mumford’s The Conduct of Life, along with Huxley and Laing and Watts. The Conduct of Life was written in 1951. (I suppose hardly anybody reads Mumford anymore.) A few years after returning to Cleveland in 1992, I remember revisiting Mumford in a series of conversations with my mother about Cleveland, cities, the de-industrialization of the Mid West, and, the curse of Ronald Reagan. She insisted I read The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. (1961!) I did so. I re-read Mumford’s The City in History. I explained to my dear mother what I meant when I described Mumford to be a constructionist mystic.

In the fall of 2005, again due to the result of a remarkable fortuity, I met the Director of the Lakewood Public Library, Kenneth Warren; (to myself I noted: heck, a constructionist mystic!) I learned of the Visionary Alignment, the Lakewood Observer Project, and soon enough–even though I was a wash-a-shore–was in the thick of it. At the outset, among the suggestions I introduced to the Observer crew was a ripe and dangerous speculative question:

What would it be like to live in a city devoted to knowing itself better than any other city ever has known itself?

I didn’t really get at the time that I was both implying a name for the practical learning process of the project being unfolded by a handful of intrepid Lakewoodites and Observers, and, idealizing a highly charged constellation of conflicting fantasies about what is the very stuff of civic knowledge-seeking and civic knowing. The name/process is simple: civic self-knowledge, but the charging of the civic constellation is altogether complex, entangled, and, as we soon enough came to understand, is plain difficult.

Community, know thyself? Really? Plug into the circuit and call forth shadow, and every variety of impossible dream, and quixotic obstacle?

LAkewood prism
Lakewood Prism (demographic analysis schema)

(from a presentation by Kenneth Warren, – Lakewood Future Tools – Understanding Lakewood: Communities and Memes; March 2005) See also the pdf, Community Capacity.

(Lakewood Ohio) Place-Making with Good Neighbors on the Lake
· Flow =Quality of Life
· Increase the flow states in the community.
· Refresh the conventional sense of local living in Lakewood by engaging good neighbors.
· Cultivate the habit of good neighbors listening to one another.
· Activate through the Lake a sense of the liminal among good neighbors, that is, the threshold of physiological or psychological response to the unique energy that permeates the people and place.
· Make Lakewood permeable to new experience, ideas, mechanisms and structures among good neighbors
who are joining society to economy, conscience to knowledge.
· Obtain commitments from good neighbors to act on projects that will stretch beyond circular, selfjustified egocentric gated communities.
· Know there is a beginning point and ending point to each good neighborhood.
· Realize that a commitment to sustainability is shift in consciousness; it is not about constructing a pretty
fence.
· Understand that places and institutions can get high-jacked by interests that lie outside the particular community, i.e. absentee landlords, absentee corporations and absentee public employees.
· Construct IEDs – Improvised Economic Devises
Ken Warren, Lakewood Visionary Alignment

During the summer of 2006 I happened upon my current research focus, serendipity in adult development. Under the auspices of The Lakewood Observer and Lakewood Public Library, I devised a small project. I would quickly teach street anthropologists to conduct a survey, and then from their gathering of this data set, build out with them a very constrained ethnography focused on a single question, What brought you, [the subject,] to live in Lakewood?

For two weekends a dozen or so of us fanned out through Lakewood and conducted this survey. We then spent an afternoon debriefing the results. We never assembled the final work product, but, in reviewing the surveys on my own time, I realized an amazing quality threaded itself through many of the survey results.

I can capture this quality in one of the answers to the signal question.

My husband and I came to live in Lakewood because he had just taken a job at the hospital in Fairview Park and we were in a very temporary sublet in Rocky River. One day, at the grocery store there, I asked the gal at the cash register if she knew of any good resources for tracking down nice rentals in Rocky River. Before she could answer a woman standing behind me in the checkout line tapped me on the shoulder and told me that her sister had a first floor, two bedroom apartment available in her Lakewood house. I jotted her sister’s number down and we moved in the very next month.

Not only were the surveys littered with similar narratives, but having my nose pushed close to such stories compelled me to consider my own.

So: I had to reckon with the robber in 1974 who made it all possible by trying to kill me.

In other words, I discovered my interest in the problem of serendipity in adult development by reflecting on my apparently fortuitous encounter with a robber in 1974. This reflection itself was inspired by asking residents of Lakewood what was it that brought them to Lakewood to live.

Keynote: communities collect the results of serendipity.

(Technically speaking: communities aggregate the product of intricate conjunctions of agentic, environmental, and temporal fortuities.)

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in experiential learning, Kenneth Warren, my research, psychological anthropology, serendipity | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Leave-taking is as necessary as the homecoming (I.)

Coventry Homes

I. Home Coming (part one of three parts)

I dig Cleveland Heights; I’m from Cleveland Heights. My wife digs Cleveland Heights too, and we count ourselves blessed that after the challenging circumstances of my mother’s illness and passing, we moved from the apartment in her home in Shaker Heights we rented from her for almost five years  to our new home in Cleveland Heights.

This new home is almost exactly one mile from my first family home on Ormond Road, and a tad more than a mile from the succeeding family home on East Overlook Road. It is the first home Susan and I have owned together and comes after twenty years of our being renters, most of the time in various neighborhoods of, yup, Cleveland Heights.

Personally, as an independent researcher recently concerned with the role of constructive fortuity, or serendipity, in adult development, it is worth noting three of many fortuitous events that staked me to my home town. The first was a family emergency that brought me back from Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1992, and the second was the teamwork of two realtors, and the intuition of one of them, to show us our current beloved house on the great Cleveland Heights street of Coleridge Road. Our house here is five blocks from where I went to elementary school between 1959-1961. The third lucky event is bookended by the aforementioned two: meeting my future wife and partner Susan as the result of a fix-me-up sponsored by a mutual friend. This first meeting unfolded at a September party on Grandview Road in 1993, in, sure, Cleveland Heights.

For Susan and I Cleveland Heights is congenial ‘to-the-max.’ Yet, a final fortuitous event was primarily instrumental in both my leaving Cleveland Heights, and, eighteen years later, returning. On a Thursday afternoon in June 1974, a guy walks into the record store I was assistant manager of, Music Madness. It was located next to the old CH Post Office on lee Road. He found me alone and more than willing, at gun point, to give him the contents of the cash register, and walk with him to the back room office, and give him the rest of the day’s cash. Then, after a frustrating for-us-both few minutes during which I tried to–by myself–tie up my hands, he beckoned me to lay down on the floor and once prostrated, he next shot me in the back at point blank range.

(Good ol’ Cleveland Heights; Lee Road could be a bit like the wild west in the mid seventies.)

I got the hell out of my home town, and took the bus to Vermont by the end of July.

Nevertheless, the way the very long chains of contingency, necessity, and fortuity operate to constitute the foundation of future events, the leave-taking is as necessary as the homecoming–is, in actuality, its required precedent.


Cleveland Heights news and Resources (these links will remain in the sidebar)

Cleveland Heights vCity Data
Cleveland Heights (City Hall)
Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Heights Observer
Future Heights
Sun Press
Cleveland Heights (Plain Dealer)
Cleveland Heights Patch
Coventry Village
Cedar-Lee

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in adult learning, Cleveland, Kenneth Warren, my research, serendipity | Tagged | 1 Comment

Nothing that might not happen in a universe of fortuity

Dharma Wheel (Calhoun)
[Dharma as Chance, 2012 S.Calhoun, digital construction]

After we had dinner at Cafe Tandoor, I stood up, put on my coat, and turned around to see right behind me all along hanging on the wall all along was a beautiful, intricate Buddhist tapestry depicting the Dharma Wheel. I chuckled–synchronicity.

Earlier Susan and I had lunch with her cousin and her cousin’s husband–oh, yes at another Cleveland Heights cafe, The Stone Oven–and we spent a couple of animated hours describing chapters in our four different lives. Of course, having lunch together joins those four lives for a moment. I would add as joining those lives ‘again,’ but in truth this lunchtime meeting-up constituted my first extended visit with this lovely couple.

People who know me obviously already understand discussing deeply anything is one of my favorite things to do. I’m not always careful to avoid jawing too intensely about my own interests. There was for a spell something of that in our moment together. Luckily, Susan is expert at reigning me in. Still, I took advantage of the situation to first explain a bit about my research focus, and then deploy my interest as a possible launch pad for discussing what happened in our lives; what’s the story; and, ineluctably and implicitly from this, how did we get to this moment?

Fortuitous events may be unforeseeable but fortuity does not mean uncontrollability of its effects. Paradoxically, people can bring personal influence to bear on the fortuitous character of life (Bandura, 1998). They can make chance happen by pursuing an active life that increases the number and type of fortuitous encounters they will experience. Chance favors the inquisitive and venturesome, who go places, do things, and explore new activities. People also make chance work for them by cultivating their interests, enabling beliefs and competencies. These personal resources enable them to make the most of opportunities that arise unexpectedly. Pasteur put it well when he noted, “Chance favors only the prepared mind.” At a much earlier era, the philosopher Seneca, portrayed seeming serendipity as “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” The harder one works the luckier one gets. Even the distinguished lay philosopher, Groucho Marx, insightfully observed that people can influence how they play the hand fortuity deals them, “You have to be in the right place at the right time, but when it comes, you better have something on the ball.” Personal development and engagement in a wide range of activities gives people a hand in shaping the courses their lives take. Albert Bandura (2011) But What About That Gigantic Elephant in the Room?

Fortune strikes. In ‘explaining myself’ I made a bit of a hash of some of my explanations, going meta in the case of defining the word fortuity, and, just getting my synopsis of the plot of The Three Princes of Serendip mixed up with another tale. I shall now recover both elements.

Wheel of fortunes

various Wheels of Fortuna

First, let’s lean on the Oxford English Dictionary.

fortuity a chance occurrence.

1. a chance or accidental occurrence
2. fortuitousness
3. chance or accident

f. forte by chance, f. fors chance

1712 Addison Spect. No. 293 ?4 The highest Degree of it [Wisdom] which Man can possess, is by no means equal to fortuitous Events.

Fortune

ad. L. fort?na, related to forti-, fors chance, and ferre to bear.

1. a.1.a Chance, hap, or luck, regarded as a cause of events and changes in men’s affairs. Often (after Latin) personified as a goddess, ‘the power supposed to distribute the lots of life according to her own humour’ (J.); her emblem is a wheel, betokening vicissitude.

fortune (n.)
c.1300, “chance, luck as a force in human affairs,” from Old French fortune “lot, good fortune, misfortune” (12c.), from Latin fortuna “chance, fate, good luck,” from fors (genitive fortis) “chance, luck,” possibly from PIE *bhrtu- and related to base *bher- (1) “to carry” (see infer).

The social history of chance in human life is fascinating. One of the meta aspects is: how the fortune teller delivers advance notice of future fate, and, in doing so, brings the future backward to its beginning. This is a modern way of describing the time-honored effect of having one’s fortune told, and clearly the bridge to having the future foretold is a single step long.

In a modern sense, the notional beginning is radically different than it was way-back-when, say, during the eras during which fortune telling is common to most cultures.  (There’s much which could be told about this subject.) The beginning, in the modern (or phenomenological) sense, is at the point the foretelling breaks the heretofore hidden chain of future events. A fortune teller creates a new beginning by bringing to the surface and into the light events in the future. From that moment on one knows their fortune; and, knowing one’s fortune paradoxically changes/cannot change every/anything!

mertonandbarber

Merton and Barber’s work provides a cornerstone in book length form of the surprisingly small academic literature about serendipity. The literature itself is mostly entered in the fields of social psychology (Bandura, Krantz, et al) and sociology of science (Merton, Barber, J. Austin, et al.)

 

Wikipedia’s treatment of The Three Princes of Serendip is fine.

“In ancient times there existed in the country of Serendippo, in the Far East, a great and powerful king by the name of Giaffer. He had three sons who were very dear to him. And being a good father and very concerned about their education, he decided that he had to leave them endowed not only with great power, but also with all kinds of virtues of which princes are particularly in need.”

The father searches out the best possible tutors. “And to them he entrusted the training of his sons, with the understanding that the best they could do for him was to teach them in such a way that they could be immediately recognized as his very own.”

When the tutors are pleased with the excellent progress that the three princes make in the arts and sciences they report it to the king. He however still doubts their training and summoning each (of his sons) in turn, declares that he will retire to the contemplative life leaving them as king. Each politely declines, affirming the father’s superior wisdom and fitness to rule.

The king is pleased, but fearing that his sons’ education may have been too sheltered and privileged, feigns anger at them for refusing the throne and sends them away from the land.

The lost camel

No sooner do the three princes arrive abroad than they trace clues to identify precisely a camel they have never seen. They conclude that the camel is lame, blind in one eye, missing a tooth, carrying a pregnant woman, and bearing honey on one side and butter on the other. When they later encounter the merchant who has lost the camel, they report their observations to him. He accuses them of stealing the camel and takes them to the Emperor Beramo, where he demands punishment.

Beramo asks how they are able to give such an accurate description of the camel if they have never seen it. It is clear from the princes’ replies that they have used small clues to infer cleverly the nature of the camel.

Grass had been eaten from the side of the road where it was less green, so the princes had inferred that the camel was blind on the other side. Because there were lumps of chewed grass on the road the size of a camel’s tooth, they inferred they had fallen through the gap left by a missing tooth. The tracks showed the prints of only three feet, the fourth being dragged, indicating that the animal was lame. That butter was carried on one side of the camel and honey on the other was evident because ants had been attracted to melted butter on one side of the road and flies to spilled honey on the other.

As for the woman, one of the princes said: “I guessed that the camel must have carried a woman, because I had noticed that near the tracks where the animal had knelt down the imprint of a foot was visible. Because some urine was nearby, I wet my fingers and as a reaction to its odour I felt a sort of carnal concupiscence, which convinced me that the imprint was of a woman’s foot.”

“I guessed that the same woman must have been pregnant,” said another prince, “because I had noticed nearby handprints which were indicative that the woman, being pregnant, had helped herself up with her hands while urinating.”

At this moment a traveller enters the scene to say that he has just found a missing camel wandering in the desert. Beramo spares the lives of the Three Princes, lavishes rich rewards on them and appoints them to be his advisors.

This story is where the word serendipity came from.

Serendipity

[f. Serendip, a former name for Sri Lanka + -ity.
A word coined by Horace Walpole, who says (Let. to Mann, 28 Jan. 1754) that he had formed it upon the title of the fairy-tale ‘The Three Princes of Serendip’, the heroes of which ‘were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of’.]

The faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. Also, the fact or an instance of such a discovery. Formerly rare, this word and its derivatives have had wide currency in the 20th century.

I’m reminded of the equivalent story that stands as the counter-factual, Sura 18, “The Cave,” verses 60-82; the adventure of Moses and Khidr. Syed Abu-Ala’ Maududi’s commentary crystalizes the truth (for believers of a certain kind) that serendipity is but a veil.

The story of Khidr and Moses has been related in such a way as to supply the answer to the question of the disbelievers and to give comfort to the Believers as well. The lesson contained in this story is this “You should have full faith in the wisdom of what is happening in the Divine Factory in accordance with the will of Allah. As the reality is hidden from you, you are at a loss to understand the wisdom of what is happening, and sometimes if it appears that things are going against you, you cry out, ‘How and why has this happened’. The fact is that if the curtain be removed from the “unseen”, you would yourselves come to know that what is happening here is for the best. Even if some times it appears that something is going against you, you will see that in the end it also produces some good results for you.

Kizzy and SonnyKizzy and Sonny. Kizzy (from Kismet) was a stray kitten that found her way to our back door. I would guess our back door is the best back door for a stray to come up to! Sonny’s story is not dissimilar. While visiting the veterinarian with our two older cats, we noticed a kitten on the counter in the waiting area. Hard to miss! We learned somebody had left three kittens in a box in the parking lot the day before. With that the aid plucked a bluff colored kitten out of a waste basket full of shredded paper, and told us, “This one is spoken for!” Soon enough he was spoken for, and so Sonny comes home, learns to fly, and, becomes the central character in yet another story of serendipity.

Kismet

(Turkish from Arab., qisma, ‘share, portion’).

The allocation of whatever occurs, hence the acceptance in Islam that God determines all things: see QADAR.

fate. XIX. — Turk. — Arab. (Pers.) ?ismat portion, fate, f. ?asama divide, apportion.
kismet

fate, destiny. The word comes (in the early 19th century, via Turkish) from Arabic ?ismat ‘division, portion, lot’, from ?asama ‘to divide’.
.

Westinghouse Dharma

Explaining my research is dull compared with eliciting person’s recollections of decisive serendipities in their own life. Yesterday I surely made the set-up a bit too complicated, yet we got the meat of the inquiry soon enough. As it always happens, whether or not I am informally or formally documenting these recollections, the recounting brings to the light of day spectacular, decisive chance events.

(This inverts the fortune teller’s strategy!)

Yesterday I learned of a decisive: lark road trip passing a corporate sign reminding the ‘subjects’ of a past employer and so providing the spark to investigate job opportunities–somewhere nearby the sign itself–and then subjects are accelerated through a hiring process–as in: hired on the spot.

This led me to remark, “It’s good to keep an out for the big “W” sign, the W standing for wisdom.”


Several sources for further exploration:

1. Explorations of Fortuitous Determinents of Life Paths
Albert Bandura (1998) A Comment in response to:

2. Taming Chance – Social Science & Everyday Narratives
David L. Krantz (1998)

published in Psychological Inquiry

3. Social Cognitive Theory: An Agentic Perspective
Albert Bandura (2001)

4. The Structure of Serendipity
M. DeRond (2005)

Books:

Chase, Chance, and Creativity: The Lucky Art of Novelty
James H. Austin

Luck: The Brilliant Randomness Of Everyday Life
Nicholas Rescher

Serendip at Bryn Mawr (my late mother’s alma mater-go figure)

The structure of what I term constructive fortuity has not been worked out in any robust way, to this date. In noting this, it is also true that the popular literature on serendipity is mostly a literature about luck. It has grown exponentially over the last several years. Such books tend to mystify the subject matter as much as clarify it.

My own musings and reports are always attached to this item here on the blog. Strategic Serendipity.

(It’s not a goal yet, but I would like to help derive a structural model from the qualitative reports–perhaps beginning with a taxonomy of constructive/structural elements, with these given to explicate dynamics such as micro and macro cruxes, orders of contingency, and other stuff–and not ending with formalizing the model because mathematicizing it is way beyond my abilities.)

Be Sociable, Share!
Posted in adult learning, Kenneth Warren, serendipity, social psychology, organizational development | Leave a comment