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Complexity and simplicity

[ by Charles Cameron — where both are aspects of our cognitive response ]

The New Yorker has a sweeping piece about Lake Chad, subheaded:

Boko Haram, climate change, predatory armies, and extreme hunger are converging on a marginalized population in Central Africa

We need, accordingly to understand at subtle levels, the interactions of those five elements, a wide-angle task, cognitively speaking –- and simultaneously zoom in on some specific issue regarding the humans involved, a task requiring single-minded focus — an entirely different cognitive style.

I offer this here as emblematic of wide-angle and narrow-focus thinking. Zen terms them horizontal and vertical, see his two articles for further elucidation!


The strategic importance of barriers and when to cross them is illustrated by two quotes from the NYer article (above) and the I Ching (below):

If I recall correctly, there’s an admonition in the I Ching not to camp in evening when you come to a barrier such as a river, but to press forward and cross it, lest overnight the enemy take it &c.


And talking of complexities, how about the impressive mindset reset implied by MSNBC’s cute phrase about Gen. Flynn just now:

from the insurgent battlefield to the political minefield

Jim will no doubt have his own thoughts about that!

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