My Crossed-paradigm Communications Experience
[This note is adjunct to ‘The Role of Media/Newspapers in Community Dynamics’]
There is a problem in trying to communicate with others when one’s understanding is in a different ‘paradigm.’
The different paradigms can be described with the help of the following picture of the earth’s biosphere and comparing it with the skin of an apple;
The health of the biosphere is like the health of the skin of the apple. In mathematical terms, the space on the surface of a sphere is a non-Euclidian space wherein everything is relative to everything else. There are no absolute locations in this space, so that if anything moves, it can only move relative everything else in that space and since there is motion, it is continuous motion involving everything; i.e. the biosphere is continually transforming in a spatial-relational sense.
What this means is that while there are persisting forms as in ‘material forms’ such as ‘storm cells’ and ‘human organisms’, the ‘persistence’ of these forms is relative to the observer’s persisting awareness.
If we had a camera in space recording a picture of the earth’s biosphere, as above, and if we could zoom in down to the street level as in Google Earth, and if we kept recording for 50 human generations or so (e.g. 3,000 years or 1,095,000 days) and selected one frame per day and played it back at 16 frames per second, we could watch, in one day (19 hours), fifty generations of human families emerge like whorls in the flow, develop and mature and be reclaimed in the continuing transformational flow of the biosphere.
The spherical space of the biosphere, charged with solar energy, the animating source of all of this, would persist in looking much as it does today, judging by past history where 3,000 years is like the wink-of-an-eye in geologic time.
So, we have a potential problem in that our habit is to ‘re-render’ these dynamics in terms of ‘what things do’ or ‘what people do’. Nietzsche pointed out this problem, saying that the world was a continuing becoming and that treating it as if it were a collection of local ‘beings’ to whom we imputed their own doer-deed actions, was a ‘total Fiktion’. The same point has been made by others, Heraclitus, Bohm, Shroedinger, the Vedics, Buddhists etc.
Howard Zinn, in ‘A People’s History of the United States’ makes the same point in a different way. He notes that our historical narratives are in terms of what we, as a people, ‘do’ and ‘have done’, and that the historical narratives of the colonizers of the Americas and the historical narratives of the colonized, are ‘opposing realities’. That is, the colonizers speak of their creating of a new world while the colonized speak of the destruction of the world as it was. But they are both talking about ‘the same thing’ but seeing it in opposite ways (genesis and degeneration).
From the viewing point from out in space, we can observe the waves of emigrants leaving Europe for the Americas, leaving a ‘hole’ in terms of skills and brain drain that will have to be filled, we can observe the waves of immigrants arriving in the Americas, flooding the land with skilled and intelligent agents that spread out like ‘hammers’ in search of anything that looks like a ‘nail’ that they can hammer on.
Europe sees the departing ebb-tide of emigrants and America sees the arriving flood-tide of immigrants, but from the vantage point of space, one sees the transformation of biosphere space. The space of the biosphere has a one-ness to it like the skin of the apple. It is all connected and mutually dependent. Therefore, it is not realistic to speak of the colonizing dynamic in terms of ‘a chip out of it here’ and ‘a bump on it over there’. It is one thing, the space of the biosphere, that is undergoing [spatial-relational] transformation.
Neither of the two opposing historical narratives, the story of genesis told by the colonizers and the story of degeneration told by the colonized, are ‘real’.
What is ‘real’ is transformation of the common space that colonizer and colonized share inclusion in.
Only if one mentally splits apart the ‘figures’ [inhabitants] from the ‘ground’ [habitat] is it possible to split apart ‘genesis’ and ‘degeneration’. If space is not empty but energy-charged medium, then the apparent opposites of genesis and degeneration are resolved within ‘spatial-transformation’.
McLuhan pointed this out in regard to what goes on when developers put a factory into an agricultural community. All the focus of the development faction is on this new construction and what it is going to do, while the old-timer locals are witnessing the destruction of what they have, the farmer’s sons and daughters drawn out of farming into the industry, new roads and traffic trucking supplies in and product out destroying crop fields and polluting the region with fumes and noise.
“Many people would be disposed to say that it was not the machine, but what one did with the machine, that was its meaning or message. In terms of the ways in which the machine altered our relations to one another and ourselves, it mattered not in the least whether it turned out cornflakes or Cadillacs. — Marshall McLuhan,‘Understanding Media’
Again, we get two opposing historical narratives, one orienting to ‘genesis’ and the other to ‘degeneration’.
Neither are ‘reality’. ‘Reality’ requires the view from ‘space’ that includes both factions, and in that view it becomes apparent that what is going on is ‘transformation’ of that living space and ‘transformation’ is like ‘treading water’ [rather than material forms doing stuff] that incorporates these opposites; genesis and degeneration.
These opposing perspectives are brought together in the new physics of relativity and quantum theory. They support the view from space, the view that is in terms of ‘in-place’ spatial-relational transformation wherein material forms are ‘schaumkommen’ (appearances);
“What we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space. Particles are just schaumkommen (appearances). —Erwin Schrödinger
The bringing together of these opposing sub-realities (genesis and degeneration) associates with a different type of logic than we habitually use; i.e. we habitually use the logic of the excluded third where the inhabitant, A, and the habitat, not.A, mutually exclude each other; i.e. A ≠ not.A (inhabitant ≠ habitat). This allows us to ‘think’ in terms of the inhabitant ‘moving’ while the habitat ‘stays in place’. It is like thinking of the hurricane moving while the atmosphere ‘stays in place’. It is ‘schaumkommen’ (appearances) or ‘maya’ (illusion), but it is our popular way of describing the world dynamic. That is, it is the basis for the historical narratives that play out ‘over time’ that we make up such as the historical narrative of the colonizers who ‘come from the East’ and create a new world in the West.
In reality, as can be seen from an observational vantage point in space, what is ‘really going on’ is transformation of ‘place’ or ‘space’ (biosphere).
Our experience informs us that the biosphere persists while material forms gather and are regathered within it; i.e. the more comprehensive view of the world dynamic is in terms of spatial transformation rather than in terms of ‘what material beings do’.
The logic associated with relativity and quantum physics, that brings the opposing historical narratives of ‘genesis’ and ‘degeneration’ together by acknowledging the natural physical primacy of ‘space-as-energy-charged-medium’ that undergoes transformation, is ‘the logic of the included third’ wherein we acknowledge that ‘material forms’ are not ‘locally existing beings’ but are, as David Bohm and Erwin Schrödinger observe; ‘ripple structures in the energy-charged spatial-plenum’. The logic of the included third wherein A = not.A (inhabitant = habitat) is described by Stéphane Lupasco as follows;
“To every phenomenon or element or logical event whatsoever, and accordingly to the judgment which thinks of it, the proposition which expresses it, to the sign which symbolizes it must always be associated, structurally and functionally, a logical antiphenomenon, or anti-element or anti-event and therefore a contradictory judgment, proposition or sign in such a fashion that the former can only be potentialized by the actualization of the latter, but not disappear such that either could be self-sufficient in an independent and therefore rigorous non-contradiction – as in all logic, classical or otherwise, that is based on an absoluteness of the principle of non-contradiction.”
The point half-way between actualization and potentialization is a point of maximum antagonism or ‘contradiction’ from which, in the case of complex phenomena, a T-state (T for “tiers inclus”, included third term) emerges, which is capable of resolving the contradiction (or ‘counter-action‘), at another, higher level of reality. “ – Lupasco, Stéphane., Le principe d’antagonisme et la logique de l’énergie, 1951.
[see also; ‘Stéphane Lupasco et le tiers inclus. De la physique quantique à l’ontologie’, by Basarab Nicolescu]
Now, here is [one of my] communications dilemmas.
A number of us are involved in an initiative that seeks to sustain the health and harmony of the islands ecosystems (including humans) in the Gulf/San Juan Islands Archipelago.
We have these three different ways of ‘looking at’ what is going on here;
1. the historical narrative of the developers who see themselves as creating a new world in a beautiful natural setting. [much like the colonizers]. This view is in terms of ‘what we should do’.
2. the historical narrative of the indigenous islanders who see the actions of developers as destructive to what is already in place and see the need to regulate new development to prevent it from destroying established ecodynamics. [much like the colonized]. This view is in terms of ‘what we should not do’.
3. the view from space in which transformation of this island space (and the biosphere which is the broader view of it) is ongoing. This view is in terms of how relations with one another and ourselves (the spatial plenum we share inclusion in) are transforming.
There is a problem in discussing this in that everyone is on ‘different pages’. If we were talking about putting in a Walmart with a McDonald’s in it on a back street, the first group would be focused on ‘what we should do’, the benefits of the new development. The second group would be focused on ‘what we should not do’, how mom-and-pop businesses would be hurt, how traffic patterns would shift (the veins and arteries of the community ecodynamic) and leave shops on deserted thoroughfares etc.
There is no way to understand what will ‘really’ transpire by debate orienting to ‘what we should do’ and ‘what we should not do’; i.e. the pro aspects associated with ‘genesis’ versus the ‘con’ aspects associated with ‘degeneration’. As McLuhan observes, what prevails is ‘transformation’ of the place which is understood in terms of how relations with one another and ourselves [the spatial plenum] are transforming.
What is wrong with the typical debate in terms of 1. and 2. is that it is a ‘rational approach’ based on what we should do and/or what we should not do. This is the view in terms of figures split apart from ground. It implies the ethic of ‘the land belongs to the people/biosphere’ rather than ‘the people belong to the land/biosphere’.
How do we get into an awareness of our connectedness, of being included in the continually unfolding spatial transformation of the habitat/biosphere [“the dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants”- Mach’s principle] instead of starting from, and getting stuck in this ‘what we should do’ and ‘what we shouldn’t do’ mode of thinking?
LSD, ayahuasco and peyote are said to overcome this artificial split between ‘self’ and ‘other’, ‘inhabitant’ and ‘habitat’, and so is the ‘Overview Effect’ of the astronaut.
Space Euphoria: Do Our Brains Change When We Travel In Outer Space?
In February, 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell experienced the little understood phenomenon sometimes called the “Overview Effect”.
He describes being completely engulfed by a profound sense of universal connectedness. Without warning, he says, a feeing of bliss, timelessness, and connectedness began to overwhelm him. He describes becoming instantly and profoundly aware that each of his constituent atoms were connected to the fragile planet he saw in the window and to every other atom in the Universe.
He described experiencing an intense awareness that Earth, with its humans, other animal species, and systems were all one synergistic whole. He says the feeling that rushed over him was a sense of interconnected euphoria. He was not the first—nor the last—to experience this strange “cosmic connection”.
Rusty Schweikart experienced it on March 6th 1969 during a spacewalk outside his Apollo 9 vehicle: “When you go around the Earth in an hour and a half, you begin to recognize that your identity is with that whole thing. That makes a change…it comes through to you so powerfully that you’re the sensing element for Man.” Schweikart, similar to what Mitchell experienced, describes intuitively sensing that everything is profoundly connected.
Their experiences, along with dozens of other similar experiences described by other astronauts, intrigue scientists who study the brain. This “Overview Effect”, or acute awareness of all matter as synergistically connected, sounds somewhat similar to certain religious experiences described by Buddhist monks, for example. Where does it come from and why?
As far as I can see, once we get stuck into ‘what we should do’ and ‘what we shouldn’t do’ mode, there will be endless head-butting without resolution because these opposing ‘realities’ are not realities at all, but ‘illusions’.
The solution would appear to be to ‘re-orient’ so as to achieve the ‘Overview Effect’ in which we can see things in terms of ‘spatial transformation’ in which we are all interdependently included.
In this case, we must let our behaviours be orchestrated by the cultivating and sustaining of balance and harmony in the unfolding spatial transformation we all share inclusion in. This takes us beyond ‘what we or others should do’ or ‘what we or others should not do’. That is, it takes us beyond the Fiktional world of ‘doer-and-deed’ and into the beyond-good-and-evil ‘greater reality’ of relational transformation [Nietzsche].
* * *