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The diplexity of complomacy in the Muddle East

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

[ bu Charles Cameron — paging Jackson Pollock ]
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Liz Sly has the overview:

Karl Sharro provides the specifics:

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For “Muddle East” — hat-tip Ralph Birnbaum.

Sceenius: Y2K and a universal graphical mapping language

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a mental long-jump, following Sceenius: the macro in micro, Nepal ]
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It’s a stretch, I know, and whether it will prove a useful leap or not I have no idea — but for the record, this detail from slide 8 of the Sceenius promo caught my eye, offering a graphical continuity between my own HipBone / Semble gameboards and Richard Feynman‘s celebrated particle diagrams:

Sceenius

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I have this almost Borgesian interest in what kind of map of the world we’d get if we had a universal language of graphs.

When I was working on the potential social implications of the Y2K computer bug — which included the al-Qaida “Millennium Plot” and Albert Ressam‘s attempt to blow up the international terminal at LAX during the millennial roll-over — my friend and colleague Don Beck of the National Values Center / The Spiral Dynamics Group suggested in a private communication:

Y2K is like a lightening bolt: when it strikes and lights up the sky, we will see the contours of our social systems.

As it turned out, the lightning struck and failed to strike, a team from the Mitre Corporation produced a voluminous report on what the material and social connectivity of the world boded in case of significant Y2K computer failures, we did indeed get our first major glimpse of the world weave, and thankfully, very little of that weave was broken as the new millennium dawned.

But as Thomas Barnett put it in his first book, The Pentagon’s New Map:

Whether Y2K turned out to be nothing or a complete disaster was less important, research-wise, than the thinking we pursued as we tried to imagine -– in advance -– what a terrible shock to the system would do to the United States and the world in this day and age.

Viewing the world as an integral, interconnected whole, illuminated by our various preparations for whatever eventualities might arise, stuck with me. And my take-away was the idea of a world-map that represented as widely and richly as possible the tugs and tensions, the causalities and probabilities, the chains of command and channels of distribution that are present in our world — a pragmatist’s equivalent, if you like, to the Buddhist Net of Indra.

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Our mandate [at The Arlington Institute] was to understand potential social fall-out of the Y2K computer event and related millennial events. Essentially, this was a dry run for failures in the intricately cross-connected world we now inhabit, and even thought Y2K was a “non-event” in terms of computer disruptions, it was an education for those of us who tracked it.

In that spirit, a few years ago, I wrote:

The world is woven of many different processes: causality and synchrony perhaps each play a role in determining the moment, qualitative and quantitaive, head and heart concerns all have their role, fear and hope impact stock prices, movement (e-motion) in the inner world triggering movement (motion) in the the outer, rumors of wars becoming blacks ops in the wars they mimic, with the Cartesian mind / matter barrier no less than the barriers between our disciplines falling… and in all this shuttling to and fro of the looms of the Moirae, humans find themselves making models and diagrams to understand and explain…

My point is that that our systems diagrams, flow charts, maps, conceptual networks, semantic graphs, HipBone Games and so forth are not isolated entities but family members, and that at some point we may wish or need to be able to link one of the diagram types above with others into a master-diagram, for which we currently lack a graphical language. [ … ]

I think we should at the very least be thinking about how these various diagrams intersect, overlap and breed offspring after their own kind..

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This project — an actual world-map of this kind — is hopelessly utopian, impossible, needed, encyclopedic like Wikipedia, a secular bead game in its own right, and in general probably best left as a Hilbert-like challenge for future generations to gnaw at..

Next post: a few examples of examples of graph-types that should be included.

Sceenius: the macro in micro, Nepal, anyone?

Monday, February 8th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — an interesting research angle to keep an eye on? ]
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I haven’t explored my friend John Kellden‘s project, Sceenius, yet, but thought some Zenpundit readers might be interested in the suggestion by his colleague Ron Scroggin that accomnpanies this diagram:

Crystal ball Nepal: How do we design the future?

Nepal-culture-by-altitude

The current tension between the world’s momentum and its inertia is playing itself out in Nepal’s ancient cultural landscape, revealed in interacting social, economic and geographical forms, which include some of the worlds lowest, and its highest features. What is happening in the world is happening in Nepal.

Small in geographical area, Nepal’s spectacular landscape rises from 194 ft elevation in the tropical Terai to 22,966 ft, at the summit of Sagarmatha (Mt Everest), where arctic weather conditions prevail. Its timescape spans the worlds of the ancient nomadic culture of the Raute people in western Nepal, and of the jet-age culture of capital city Kathmandu.

Nepal’s extremes in many dimensions make it a highly readable barometer of life’s conditions. The people, divided by caste, religion, ethnicity, and politics are stitched together in a social quilt which mirrors the country’s radically exaggerated terrain, weather, and ecosystem.

Nepal is therefore a crystal ball into which we can project the world’s social, organizational and political conditions, and see there the jobs, pains and potential gains they entail, reflected in exaggerated relief.

If you find that idea interesting — and any opportunity to study organic, high-dimensional “model worlds” seems worth checking out to me — the whole piece is worth reading, and maybe you’ll want to check in with Kellden, Scroggin and the Sceenarius team.

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More on world-modeling coming up.

Ideal as cause, real as effect

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — a pretty intense little cognitive romp, b’day surprise #2 ]
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nefertiti saccade cc version
mapping object seen to eye movement, Yarbus via MIT

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Today I was reading James Harkin, How the Islamic State Was Won, in Harper’s from November last year, and this sentence struck me:

The aim was to wipe out the regime’s armed opponents, but the result was to destroy the country’s social fabric and displace whole communities — leaving millions of Syrians with little to lose. Groups like the Nusra Front took control of towns across the north, and foreign jihadis flooded into Syria to join the fight.

Here’s the thought it prompted:

The aim, purpose, or target of an action will often represent some sort of ideal, and that ideal becomes the cause of the action in question. Like all ideals, it represents a trajectory in a model space, that of the imagination, which like all models, lacks some of the details of the reality it purports to represent. Not only is the map not the territory, it will in all cases not envisioned by Jorge Luis Borges be smaller and less informed than the reality.

The result of that action, its effect, takes place in reality, even thought we then cognize it in a mental comparison with its aim or cause.

Unintended consequences, then, are quasi-mappable as arising in precisely those areas of the real which the ideal fails to map.

Mapping the distinctions between reality and unconscious perception, conscious perception, neural activity, and verbal, visual and matghematical models in mind, brain, and on a napkin or computer is, accordingly, one of the great tasks of the age.

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duchamp cc versionDuchamp (image) and Ithkuil (verbal description) via John Quijada, see Birthday surprise

Sunday surprise: sinkholes

Sunday, October 4th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — and including a 1936 German illustration of the hollow earth ]
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Bryan Alexander on his Infocult blog notes a fascinating symmetry as More sinkholes open up under countries on opposite ends of the Earth — one in England and the other in Australia. The implication that our devouring planet may at last be preparing a Journey to the Centre of the Earth he leaves to his reader’s imagination..

SPEC DQ sinkhole

BTW, “opposite ends of the Earth” is a delightful phrase, reminiscent of John Donne‘s “the round earth’s imagin’d corners” — kudos, Bryan!

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And while we’re on the topic of the centre or center of the earth, one of my favorite “finds” as a book-crawler was this gem from Frankfurt, 1936:

Johannes Lang Die Hohlwelttheorie

Highly compatible with Nazi occultism, nicht wahr?

And this more recent piece, showing the location of the hidden Buddhist city of “Shambala”, completes the picture:

Agharta

Maybe our Journey to the Center of the Earth will provide us with some occult Infocult material, eh, Bryan?


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