Introduction to ‘/’ Chameleon essay

Introduction to ‘/’ Chameleon essay

In our western culture, we implicitly ‘see our self’ as a local, independently existing being or organism with its own local, internally originating behaviour.

This is a ‘machine model’.  It is the model of a ‘local system with its own locally originating behaviour’

The ‘environment’ is seen as something mutually exclusive of the ‘self’ or ‘organism’ and we understand the interactions between the organism and the environment to be by way of forces that originate in the environment, being applied to the local system (of ‘self’, ‘organism’).  This model is consistent with the material systems models that are dealt with by Newtonian physics.

Meanwhile, we acknowledge that all such ‘local systems’ are eventually ‘recycled’ within the suprasystem of nature.

The question thus arises whether we are justified in treating the ‘self’ aka ‘organism’ aka ‘local system’ as LOCAL since over the long haul, the ‘local systems’ that emerge, develop, mature, degenerate and dissipate, look more like ‘features-in-the-flow’ of the overall system of nature.

In physics and in the systems sciences, when the ‘local system view’ is too simple and fails to explain the behaviours of the system that are being investigated, the investigation has to ‘open up its scope’ and include the suprasystem that the ‘local system’ is included in.  For example, studying the hurricane as a local system will explain it in terms of local updrafts, downdrafts, energy exchanges between warm ground level and cold upper atmosphere, and between evaporating vapours and condensing vapours, … but it will not explain the number and intensity of hurricanes.  For that one has to look at solar irradiance, climate, polar-equatorial temperature difference, ocean currents etc.

In physics, the term ‘nonlinear dynamics’ refers to a system that has to be solved (its behaviour mathematically modeled) in toto.    This is due to the interdependencies between the ‘parts’ of the system.   Of course, the parts are defined on a visual basis; e.g. the hurricane visually appears to be a ‘separate system’ and multiple hurricanes visually appear to be ‘independent of one another’ when they are interdependent.  In fact, it is more accurate to say that hurricanes are dynamic features within the system of ocean and atmosphere that our construing as ‘things in themselves’ is justified only by convenience to us, the investigators.

The new physics of relativy and quantum theory suggests that the universe is a resonant energy-charged space and that ‘matter’ and material bodies are resonance features.  Quantum physicists use descriptions such as ‘thingless connectedness’ to describe nature, and the implication is that this need to solve systems in toto would have us ‘open up the scope’ of our investigation to include…. everything…. the spacetime continuum.

Ok, we recognize that we ‘lose something’ when we use the results of our investigation into ‘local systems’ because we are ignoring the interdependencies between the suprasystem and the system (e.g. we ignore the action of atmosphere on the tractor that is rusting and slowly dissolving the tractor).  But we nevertheless get a lot of useful information from modeling and investigating the tractor as if it were a local system that moves about and interacts with other material objects and machines in an absolute fixed and empty space.   This was also Galileo’s view in choosing to model the movement of material bodies as if they were in a vacuum.  This enabled the formulation of general laws of motion that would not have applied equally to a feather and a cannon ball, unless space were assumed to be an absolute vacuum.  The actual fall of a feather is an extremely complex problem since we have to understand the fluid-dynamics of air and how they are perturbed by a falling feather, which would require us to look into the elastic movements of the feather’s thousands of barbs and barbules and their simultaneous dynamic interaction with the fluid-dynamic medium of air.


This is an important question when it comes to ‘human beings’ and ‘organisms’ and it includes within it the question ‘what is evolution’ because evolution is something we notice about the ceaselessly innovative spatial-relational unfolding that characterizes our natural living space.

But, because we decided to take advantage of the notion of ‘local systems’, we have, in Darwinism, regarded ‘species’ as a local system that develops NOT like the hurricane in the atmosphere (Lamarck’s view of evolution) but like a system-in-its-own-right.  This requires us to start with one of these species and try to explain ‘its evolution’ but there are no answers in such an approach to the number and difference of new species that cannot be explained in terms of a prior ‘lineage’.   This is the point that Stephen Jay Gould made about the abundance of fossils in the middle Cambrian (540 million years BCE) ‘Burgess shales’ which had no predecessor lineages and no descendent lineages.

Darwinian and genetic theory that addresses how existing local systems ‘evolve’ does not address how they “came to be” in the first place.  As critics say, ‘DNA did not invent life, life invented DNA’.

The alternative suggested by the new physics is that there is nothing that “came to be” because everything is included in a global process of ‘becoming’.  This means that those local forms that inhabit the habitat DO NOT EVOLVE; i.e. the habitat evolves and these ‘local’ forms (which seem to be ‘local independent beings’ in a visual sense) are manifestation of the evolution of the habitat in the manner that whorls in flow are manifestation of the turbulent evolution of the flow.

In this view, the habitat and the inhabitants are two aspects of a single dynamic, the ‘inhabitant’s being the emerging visible forms that manifest the ceaselessly innovative spatial-relational evolving of the habitat.

In a world understood in terms of continual becoming, rather than as a collection of ‘material beings’ within an absolute fixed and empty living space, that are born and die, the ‘self’ becomes the ‘slash’ [‘/’] in the expression habitat/inhabitant.  In fact, in a world of continual becoming, all of the binary opposites ‘give way’ to the ‘slash’.  This ‘slash’ in Egyptian mythology was the ‘evolutionary force’ responsible for the ‘continual becoming’, the chameleon-like God Theuth;

Theuth, the chameleon-God, is the ‘/’ between death/life, light/dark, logos/mythos

Theuth, the chameleon-God, is the ‘/’ between death/life, light/dark, logos/mythos

Theuth, the chameleon-God, is the ‘/’ between death/life, light/dark, logos/mythos

All of the evidence (relativity, quantum theory) points to nature overall as being in a continual state of becoming.

Granted that we can use technology to ‘make machines’ and we can use science to understand people as ‘being’ (local systems or ‘machines’) and that this delivers a lot of utility to us, WHAT ARE WE MISSING by constraining our view to one in which the inhabitants of the habitat are seen as a collection of local system, machines, beings, that move about and interact with each other in a notional absolute fixed and empty operating space?

The essay ‘Rehabilitating our ‘/’ Chameleon’ does not try to do the impossible and identify spirit and soul and the like, but it does try to show ‘what we are missing’ in terms of an understanding of ‘organization’ that we are inextricably included in, yet which we tend to ignore.

The price of this ignore-ance is rising social dysfunction, as in the binary opposition of political parties and the binary opposition of the views of sovereign states or alliances thereof.

Modern scientific studies of nomadic peoples such as the Nenets of Siberia show that these people naturally let their movements and behaviours be orchestrated and organized by the dynamics of habitat that they are situationally included in.   When the reindeer move, they move (the reindeer know how to find food (exposed lichen) better than they do.   They believe that ‘man belongs to the earth; rather than, as the dominant western culture believes, ‘the earth belongs to man’.  In other words, they are living the ‘/’ of Theuth rather than ‘coming from out of themselves seen as local systems’.

The observing scientist can always impose the view on the Nenets, that they ARE local systems with their own locally originating, intellect-and-purpose driven behaviours, but that is because this view is inherently ‘simpler’ in the manner that euclidian space is simpler than non-euclidian space (‘in the manner that a polynomial of degree one is simpler than a polynomial of degree two’ – Poincaré).

If we assume that the space of our experience is more complex than the straight-line geometry of Euclidian space, which it surely is, and if we assume that it is more like non-euclidian spherical space (as is Einstein’s belief which he incorporated into general relativity), then there are no binary opposites; i.e. in the space on the surface of a sphere, when some of the people push out and expand the land they occupy, people are at the same time being compressed.  The relationship between ‘expansion’ and ‘compression’ is by way of the ‘slash’ — expansion/compression.   in non-euclidian space, one cannot have ‘expansion’ on its own nor ‘compression’ on its own.  These only exist on their own when one conceives of space as rectangular and infinite (Euclidian).

That is, if a group of people; i.e. a sovereign nation-state, expands the limits of their state that lies in a flat plane of infinite extent, it is fair to speak of this action as a ‘local action’ or ‘the action of a local system’.  But if the state is in the space on the surface of a sphere, the moment they extend the area claimed by the state, the area of the rest of the space shrinks.  In other words, in such a space, which more nearly represents the space of our real-life experience, there are no binary opposites.  This means that we cannot speak of ‘expansion’ without speaking of ‘compression’.  ‘Self’ and ‘Other’ are in a conjugate relation, ‘self/other’, where the ‘slash’ rules (where habitat/inhabitant ‘continual becoming’ is primary and ‘being’ is an illusion.  As Emerson points out using the example of the fixed form of the cascade.  The cascade is, in its real essence, continual becoming; i.e. it is an emanation of the water cycle which is operates between earth and sky, but the cascade appears — to ‘be’ (to be a local system)— because of the persistence of the same form to our visual senses.

So, what we are missing, by thinking of our ‘self’ in terms of a local system, is the remembrance of HOW ORGANIZATION REALLY WORKS.

We have ‘inverted the order’ of things by our imputing of ‘local system’ status or ‘local being’ to the forms that are the manifestation of the continual spatial-relational evolution of the natural habitat we are included in, … forms which are in the conjugate habitat/inhabitant relation where the ‘slash’ [‘/’] rules, where ‘becoming’ is the primary reality and where ‘being’ is a useful ‘Fiktion’.  This is Nietzsche’s expression which  explains his anti-Darwinism where he opts NOT for the evolution of ‘local beings’ but for ‘evolution’ as a conjugate endosmosis-exosmosis relation.  This is a view of evolution wherein nature is a fluid space that enfold into and unfolds out of itself, kind of like walt’s graphic except that it is impossible to picture ‘one fluid dynamic’ that includes everything as relativity  and quantum theory suggest; i.e. the observer and his measuring rod and clock must come inside the system in which case it is impossible to picture it since one has to be outside of something to picture something.   How can we get outside of the sky?

trying to see the outside from the inside

trying to see the outside from the inside

Walt’s graphics illustrate the problem of the limitations of visualizing our ‘included-in-nature’ experience, … but a straight-forward visual solution to the problem is impossible.

When we assume a world of local material beings that populate an absolute fixed, empty and infinite space, this constrains our notion of ‘organization’ to terms of ‘what things do’.  We disallow the lava-lamp type of conjugate habitat/inhabitant mutual becoming that is suggested by ‘the new physics’.

Meanwhile, ‘the nomad in us’ assumes that space can organize our individual and collective behaviours; i.e. that we can put our trust in the dynamics of space that we are situationally included in.

But wait a minute, the notion of being situationally included in space gets away from this dependency on absolute location and absolute motion which is our cultural default when it comes to how we think about ‘our self’ and ‘our behaviour’.    The nomads don’t think of space as a rectangular box with goodies here and there in it, that we walk over to, and take possession of, and consume etc. etc.  The nomads continually ‘resituate’ themselves in the ceaselessly, innovatively unfolding spatial-relational dynamic that nothing escapes from inclusion in.  (suggested by another of walt’s graphics that attempt to give visual suggestion, at least, to the un-visualizable dynamic we are included in.);

a universe wherein enfolding/unfolding are in conjugate relation

a world wherein spatial enfolding/unfolding are in conjugate relation

If everything is in a continual state of becoming and if we are included in this; i.e. if we are the ‘slash’ [‘/’] in a conjugate habitat/inhabitant relation, then we would do better to describe our movements not as ‘our movement’ but as our ‘resituating’ within the ceaselessly, innovatively unfolding spatial-relational dynamic of nature.

This is what nomads do.  People who believe that ‘man belongs to the earth’ take it for granted that our motion is not ours, but that we are continually ‘resituating’ which is all that we, as ‘slashes’ in the ‘conjugate habitat/inhabitant dynamic relation’ can do.

This means that we don’t have to be ‘positivists’ about ‘organization’; i.e. we don’t have to assume that the world is a collection of ‘beings’ and thus that ‘organization’ has to come out of the interior of these ‘beings’ since there is nowhere else for organization to come from when we see things in terms of ‘local systems with their own locally originating, internal process-driven behaviours’.

This is our ‘mistake’, but nomads don’t make this mistake.  They believe that the organization that is natural is that wherein the spatial dynamics they are situationally included in orchestrate their individual and collective behaviour.

Their intellection is like a ‘technology’ that they can use to ‘sand and polish’ what goes on within this nature-induced organization, but it is not ‘primary’.  They do NOT see themselves as ‘local systems with their own locally originating, intellect-and-purpose directed behaviour’.  That is NOT the basis for their ‘organization’.

If our own leading edge medical researchers examined both us and today’s nomads (e.g. Nenets), they would conclude that we have ‘common equipment’.  Neither of us has more equipment than the other.    So we have all the makings of a nomad.

But the different approach of our culture is clear.  We have a serious tendency to put our ‘intellection’; i.e. our technology, in an unnatural primacy over our innate capacity to understand ourselves in ‘man belongs to the earth’ terms and to be organized by nature.

That is, THIS IS HOW WE SEE IT.  If we are in a sailboat in a storm, we will let the wind and waves organize us, and we will see our technology (e.g. ‘intellect’) as secondary, the sand-and-polish that we can add to letting the ceaselessly innovatively unfolding spatial-relational dynamics that we are situationally included in, orchestrate our individual and collective behaviour.

It is not that anything has changed other than our technology.   That is, the seas still get rough, but we have bigger, more powerful boats, like the Titanic, whose movement comes first and the push of the wind and waves is like ‘noise’ to the destination oriented behaviour of the high-tech ship.

The more powerful our technology, the easier it is to think of our technology as dominating the dynamics of nature, so that the way that nature seeks to organize us becomes ‘noise’ on our self-determined, deliberate, destination-oriented trajectory.

What’s going on here with this ‘inversion’ as to ‘what’s primary reality’ and what’s secondary ‘sanding and polishing’.

Poincaré point out that this inversion is what ‘scientific thinking’ does to us.   We develop a theory in the manner that we fit a curve to the data, and once we have the curve in hand, we use it TO CORRECT OUR EXPERIENCE.  That, if the cannon ball and the feather don’t ACTUALLY fall to earth at the same rate, we say that that is due to ‘experimental noise’.   Well, since the laws of motion assume that space is a vacuum, and since living in the earth’s atmosphere is the reality of our natural experience, we can only realistically conclude that the theory is only an approximation of our real-life experience, and that what actually happens is ‘what is real’, rather than what theory says ‘should happen’.

Our positivist plans are merely theory, and they are based on ‘what things do’ as if these ‘things’ are ‘local material beings’ with their own ‘locally originating, internal process-driven behaviours’ that move about and interact in absolute fixed and empty space.  Why should we assume that we can actually ‘actualize’ our plans.  If the US government has a plan that they invest in actualizing, that plan assumes that they are capable of independent action (absolute motion).  That is not possible in the common space we all share inclusion in, on the surface of the earth.  If one person moves in such a space, ‘everyone moves’ since there is NO absolute reference frame in nature, yet we should have to have one to ascertain that that person was capable of his/her ‘own motion’.

If one reflects on it, ‘everything is in flux’ so that it has to be ‘idealization’ by which we impute ‘local being’ to material organisms and impute to them ‘their own locally originating, internal process directed behaviours’.

Getting back to our nomads who maintain that ‘man belongs to the earth’, we all get in that mode when nature ‘gets rough with us’.  When the green agriculture belt drifted out of Oklahoma, Kansas etc. in the ‘dustbowl’ era, it led to the biggest induced returned to nomadism in US history.  It wasn’t called ‘nomadism’ though.  Why should we proud humans who maintain the ‘the earth belongs to man’ allow that we are mere putty in the hands of the ceaselessly innovatively unfolding spatial-relational dynamics of nature?

Ego would have us instead stick with our view of self as a local system with its own locally originating, intellect and purpose directed behaviour, … thus it is better to speak of the nomadism as ‘migration’ and that’s how it is ‘written up’ in the history books.  It is said that people reasoned that because of the deteriorating local conditions, intelligent people such as they were, they concluded that it would wise of them to break camp and migrate to some new site which their intelligent analysis would inform them was a ‘better’ site to make camp.

This word ‘migration’ is used for wildgeese as well.  Does anyone not believe that wildgeese are like nomads; i.e. as their situational within the habitat changes, because the habitat is changing, they keep resituating so as to sustain their natural resonance with the dynamic space they are included in.

The wildgeese and the Nenets are nomadic and their cyclical resituating is based on sustaining resonance in their conjugate habitat/inhabitant dynamic relation.

How do modern scientists get this wrong?

Well, not all scientists get it wrong but most do.  In ‘Arctic climate change discourse: the contrasting politics of research agendas in the West and Russia’, Bruce C. Forbes & Florian Stammler bring up this split in view wherein they see the nomads behaviours as being orchestrated by the dynamics of climate/habitat while Western researchers are describing the same thing in terms of the ‘nomadic behaviours’ being driven by ‘intellect and purpose’ that draws on ‘knowledge’ accumulated over multiple generations.  This ‘Western’ research view does not give credit to the behaviour orchestrating (organization-inducing) powers of nature’s dynamics, but gives all the credit to their locally originating, knowledge-informed, intellect and purpose-directed behaviour.  This is the same as NOT ACKNOWLEDING the ‘participation of space in physical phenomena’, as was the grand finding of relativity.

In concluding (this ‘introduction’ to the essay ‘Rehabilitating our ‘/’ Chameleon’ ), the situation being presented is this;

Western man has taken the dominant role of the ‘slash’ [‘/’] out of conjugate pairing such as habitat/inhabitant, light/dark, good/evil, self/other  and reduced the pairs to the mathematically degenerate of binary opposites.  Western man has kicked the ‘becoming’ out of them and has given them each ‘being’.   This occurs when he trades out ‘absolute space’ for the relational space of our real-life experience (i.e. motion can then only come from local material objects that populate the fixed, empty and infinite absolute space.)

No, we don’t go through all these mathematical geometry-of-space manipulations in our head, but they are implied by the ‘machine model’ and by thinking of ourselves and ‘organisms’ as ‘local systems’.    This is what came with the ‘Creation Myth’ of Christianity, wherein God created the local systems (species) out of nothing.  In Amerindian creation myth, the present world comes out of prior worlds.  E.g. the Raven discovers man coming out of a clam shell; i.e. evolving or ‘morphing’ out of something that is already there.

Once we start with the notion that the world is a world populated by ‘local material bodies’, some of which have their own locally originating, internal process-driven behaviour, we are assuming that SPACE IS NOT A PARTICIPANT IN PHYSICAL PHENOMENA, and that all of the dynamics in the world dynamic derive from material bodies of those two types (inorganic that have no locally originating internal process driven behaviour, and organic, that do).

In this Western belief system, organization can only come from ‘organic beings’ (cells, organisms), there is no other choice.  And that is the source of all of this authoritarian, hierarchical control system based organization that is driving us nuts.  Not that it has NO use, but that we elevate it into an unnatural primacy over nature’s inherent organization inducing powers …. UNLESS…

Unless the dynamics of nature rise up as in floods, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis and avalanches and ‘make us scatter’.  We say that ‘we are in control of our actions.’  In other words, the norm is when we are in control, and when nature takes over, that is ‘noise’.   So that when nature organizes us as in times of flood; i.e. where everybody heads for the nearest high ground, we still credit our internal intellect and purpose [i.e. our ‘gradient-seeking’ ability, as we also do with cell behaviour] rather than conceding that it is the spatial dynamics that are orchestrating our behaviour.

What else can we do?  If one starts from a view of the self as a ‘local system with its own locally originating intellect-and-purpose directed behaviour’, … and see the dynamics of our living space in terms of the newtonian dynamics of local material bodies that act and interact within an absolute fixed and empty space, … then in such a view, there is no room to acknowledge the orchestrating/organizing power of the dynamics of our living space.

What happened to us?  We used to be nomads who accepted that space could organize our behaviours.  As nomads, we would never describe our movements as ‘migrations’, as if they were intellect-and-purpose driven.  We would describe them in the humble terms of people who believe that ‘man belongs to the earth’, not the other way round.

‘What happened to us’ is that ‘we got technology’, lots of it, … and the more we got of it, the less we thought of technology as being the ‘sand-paper and polish’ that was secondary to our movements that were orchestrated by our living space dynamics.  The techology transformed us from sailboaters that derived their power and steerage from the dynamic space they were situationally included in, to powerboaters with inboard drive power and steerage that were the primary drivers of our behaviour.  The waves and currents that smacked against our strong hull and the winds that screamed through our steel superstructure couldn’t regain control from us or put us off our course.  They were merely ‘random noise’, low level fuzzy deviations on the GPS track of our smooth and relentlessly determined trajectory.

This was the difference between our earlier ‘nomadic selves’ and our ‘modern era selves’.  Because of our technologies, we no longer had to capitulate to the orchestrating powers of nature like our nomadic forebears did.  Our actions start from us, from our intellect-and-purpose directing internal centres.  Instead of humans being another ‘crop’ of forms in the flow of nature, like wheat or corn, which the uncivilized Amerindians called sister or brother, we were the masters.  We were now ‘producing’ wheat and corn, instead of letting the berry-bushes orchestrate our behaviours.

Technology has enabled us to manage and organize things AS IF we were in control, … as if ‘the earth belonged to man’.  And the stronger that technology has become, the less often are the ‘wake-up’ calls that would have us acknowledge that the dynamics of our habitat are the PRIMARY orchestrators of individual and collective inhabitant behaviour.

We have seen what this ‘attitude’ of ‘the earth belongs to us’ is doing to us.  There have been no ‘tread lightly on the earth’ philosophies on the part of technologized western civilization.  There is no need to ‘tread lightly’ in the machine world view where space is seen as an absolute fixed and empty operating theatre for our machine actions and interactions.  In our machine world view, there is no more to ‘the world dynamic’ than is given by ‘what things do’.  But, of course, nature’s dynamics are nothing like the machine world view.   The world view of relativity acknowledges Mach’s principle, that “the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants at the same time as the dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat”.

The world view of relativity and the nomads and Amerindians is that the organizing power of our dynamic living space is in a natural primacy over that of ‘human beings’, and that, furthermore, there are no ‘beings’, that is merely a convention, a ‘useful Fiktion’.  We are the ‘slash’ [‘/’] in the conjugate habitat/inhabitant relation.  In the real world of our natural experience, there are no binary opposites, there is no ‘self-other’ split, there is no ‘good-evil’ split, these pairs of conjugate relations mutual define one another without having ‘being’ of their own.  The inhabitant is the habitat.  We live at the boundary between order and chaos.  We are made of balance-sustaining, resonance-sustaining evolutionary will, Nietzsche’s conjugate endosmotic-exosmotic dynamic relation that he refers to as nature’s inbuilt ‘will-to-power’ (too bad he didn’t call it ‘evolutionary will’ as that is clearly what he intended and it might have saved a lot of confusion).

Anyhow, that’s about it for this ‘introduction’.  Western man’s strengths in technology development have allowed him, in many cases, to ‘turn the tables’ on nature and seemingly ‘organize nature’ rather than letting himself be ‘organized by nature’.  Technology has thus been the underpinning of his notion that ‘the earth belongs to man’ in contradiction to the view of his forebears (and present day Amerindian and nomadic brothers) who believe that ‘man belongs to the earth.

Unfortunately for all of us, this unnaturally inverted Western worldview has been leading to behaviours in which we confuse the idealization of dynamics in terms of ‘what we do’ for ‘reality’.  The reality is that “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”.  This reciprocal conditioning is an aspect of the real world dynamics of our experience, that is beyond the basic capability of Western man’s machine model of the world dynamic.

Today’s nomads live on the edge between order and chaos, the basic way of nature.  They let the blossoming of their productive potentialities and the opening of spatial possibility couple in sustained coniunctio.  Western man’s mathematics and logic-based technologies have allowed him to amplify one side of that conjugate relation, the assertive/productive side, to the point that it seems to ‘overpower’ its female partner and reduce her actions to noise relative to the powerful and strongly ordered assertive productive aspect of the inherently conjugate assertive/accommodative dynamic.  This has become the ‘practical worldview’ of the western culture dominated world.   It is one thing to accept it as a ‘useful Fiktion’ but quite another to confuse it for reality, as is our current predicament.

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