[ by Charles Cameron — watching a Franco-British detective saga ]
This police helicopter view from The Tunnel (series 1 episode 3 at the 16’21” mark) —
— raises the question for me: are anomalies blindspots, or are blindspots so anomalous as to evade even the “blindspot” category? Certainly my practice is to seek out blindspots, and anomalies may be clues..
What’s interesting about anomalies is that they aren’t isolated, they’re precisely anomalous in respect to some norm or other, figure against field.
— shows on the right, the Lovers of Valdaro — a matched pair of skeletons of which Time wrote in 2011:
For 6,000 years, two young lovers have been locked in an eternal embrace, hidden from the eyes of the world. This past weekend, the Lovers of Valdaro — named for the little village near Mantua, in northern Italy, where they were first discovered — were seen by the public for the first time.
On the left, you have an artist’s representation of how they might have been embraced in death.
All of which reminds me of Buddhist meditation on death, and of the dancing skeleton couple known collectively as Citipati:
Citipati is a protector deity or supernatural being in Tibetan Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism of India. It is formed of two skeletal deities, one male and the other female, both dancing wildly with their limbs intertwined inside a halo of flames representing change. The Citipati is said to be one of the seventy-five forms of Mahakala. Their symbol is meant to represent both the eternal dance of death as well as perfect awareness. They are invoked as ‘wrathful deities’, benevolent protectors or fierce beings of demonic appearance. The dance of the Citipati is commemorated twice annually in Tibet.
Our research with fighters shows that the US Government’s judgement is fairly mistaken about underestimating ISIS and overestimating the armies against it, because it denies th4e spiritual dimension of human conflict. Three critical factors are involved: sacred values and devotion to the groupz people are fused with; willing to sacrifice family for values; and perceived spiritual formidability. For example, among fighters on both sides in Iraq and Syria, they rate America’s physical force maximum but spiritual force minimum, and ISIS’ physical force minimum but spiritual force maximum. But – they also think material interests drive America but that spiritual commitment drives ISIS. The spiritual trumps physical force when all things are equal.
and here’s video of tigers similarly employed to pair with that eagle video, making a fine YouTube DoubleQuote:
Thoreau describes the (newfangled) train in Walden, using an animal metaphor:
When I meet the engine with its train of cars moving off with planetary motion … with its steam cloud like a banner streaming behind in gold and silver wreaths … as if this traveling demigod, this cloud-compeller, would ere long take the sunset sky for the livery of his train? when I hear the iron horse make the hills echo with his snort like thunder, shaking the earth with his feet, and breathing fire and smoke from his nostrils, (what kind of winged horse or fiery dragon they will put into the new Mythology I don’t know), it seems as if the earth had got a race now worthy to inhabit it.
We have nature, and we have nurture — but new tech hardly fits in either category. When a new tech arises, initially, it’s readily assimilated to an animal, ie a form of nature — as in my equation of drone and mosquito in the header to this post.
And drone? What kind of name is that? As near as I can judge, the mechanical usage derives from the same term used to describe a male bee.
Okay, we might as well close with a quote from Thoreau’s friend Emerson, offering an intriguing ontology of means of transport, the natural and technological included — with an eagle this time on the receiving end of hunting..
Man moves in all modes, by legs of horses, by wings of winds, by steam, by gas of balloon, by electricity, and stands on tiptoe threatening to hunt the eagle in his own element.
I have no idea of how Kofman came across these ideas — Boyd has nine pages of sources at the end of Patterns of Conflict, so he isn’t claiming that he thought most of them up. Regardless of how Kofman discovered them, he establishes that they certainly do work, but unfortunately not for us.
For example, when describing Russia’s overall approach to strategy, he notes that
Russia’s leadership is pursuing an emergent strategy common to business practice and the preferred path of startups, but not appreciated in the field of security studies. The hallmarks of this approach are fail fast, fail cheap, and adjust. It is principally Darwinian, prizing adaptation over a structured strategy.
This should leap out at anyone even casually familiar with Boyd since Patterns of Conflict cites the theory of evolution by natural selection as one of its two foundations (war is the other).
Boyd’s whole approach to strategy was emergent. This is clear not only from how he uses strategy but in how he defines the term, at the end of Strategic Game:
A mental tapestry of changing intentions for harmonizing and focusing our efforts as a basis for realizing some aim or purpose in an unfolding and often unforeseen world of many bewildering events and many contending interests.
In other words, there is an overall objective — it’s not just random actions, even very rapid actions, for action’s sake — and the pattern emerges as our “efforts” interact with the “unfolding and often unforeseen world.” You see a similar philosophy in Kofman’s description of the Russian approach:
This is confusing to follow when Russia’s goals are set, and yet operational objectives change as they run through cycles of adaptation. It is also a method whereby success begets success and failure is indecisive, simply spawning a new approach.
Compare to Patterns 132: “Establish focus of main effort together with other effort and pursue directions that permit many happenings, offer many branches, and threaten alternative objectives. Move along paths of least resistance (to reinforce and exploit success).”
Why take such an approach? Right after his definition of strategy, Boyd suggests an answer:
Zenpundit is a blog dedicated to exploring the intersections of foreign policy, history, military theory, national security,strategic thinking, futurism, cognition and a number of other esoteric pursuits.