Distanced               -                  Close
Detached                -                  Attached
Playful                    -                  Serious
Ironic                      -                  Earnest
Empty                     -                  Full
Light                       -                  Heavy
Conscious               -                  Unconscious

[...] working-class people, who expect every image to fulfil a function, if only that of a sign, refer, often explicitly, to norms of morality or agreeableness in all their judgements.

Thus the photograph of a dead soldier provokes judgements which, whether positive or negative, are always responses to the reality of the thing represented or to the functions the representation could serve, the horror of war or the denunciation of the horrors of war which the photographer is supposed to produce simply by showing that horror.

If formal explorations, in avant-garde theatre or non-figurative painting, or simply classical music, are disconcerting to working-class people, this is partly because they feel incapable of understanding what these things signify, insofar as they are signs.

[Pierre Bourdieu]
Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, p.41-3

The aesthetic disposition which tends to bracket off the nature and function of the object represented and to exclude any 'naive' reaction - horror at the horrible, desire for the desirable, pious reverence for the sacred - along with all purely ethical responses, in order to concentrate solely upon the mode of representation, the style, perceived and appreciated by comparison with other styles,

is one dimension of a total relation to the world and to others, a life-style, in which the effects of particular conditions of existence are expressed in a 'misrecognizable' form.

These conditions of existence, which are the precondition for all learning of legitimate culture, whether implicit and diffuse, as domestic cultural training generally is, or explicit and specific, as in scholastic training, are characterized by the suspension and removal of economic necessity and by objective and subjective distance from practical urgencies, which is the basis of objective and subjective distance from groups subjected to those determinisms.

The aesthetic disposition, a generalized capacity to neutralize ordinary urgencies and to bracket off practical ends, a durable inclination and aptitude for practice without a practical function, can only be constituted within an experience of the world freed from urgency and through the practice of activities which are an end in themselves, such as scholastic exercises or the contemplation of works of art.

In other words, it presupposes the distance from the world [...] which is the basis of the bourgeois experience of the world.

It is not surprising that bourgeois adolescents, who are both economically privileged and (temporarily) excluded from the reality of economic power, sometimes express their distance from the bourgeois world which they cannot really appropriate by a refusal of complicity, whose most refined expression is a propensity towards aesthetics and aestheticism.

[...] the aesthetic disposition is defined, objectively and subjectively, in relation to other dispositions. Objective distance from necessity and from those trapped within it combines with a conscious distance which doubles freedom by exhibiting it.

This affirmation of power over a dominated necessity always implies a claim to legitimate superiority over those who, because they cannot assert the same contempt for contingencies in gratuitous luxury and conspicuous consumption, remain dominated by ordinary interests and urgencies.

The tastes of freedom can only assert themselves as such in relation to the tastes of necessity, which are thereby brought to the level of the aesthetic and so defined as vulgar.

[Pierre Bourdieu]
Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, p.54-6

[The detachment of the aesthete] is seen whenever he appropriates one of the objects of popular taste (e.g., Westerns or strip cartoons),

[introducing] a distance, a gap - the measure of his distant distinction - vis-a-vis 'first-degree' perception, by displacing the interest from the 'content', characters, plot, etc., to the form, to the specifically artistic effects which are only appreciated relationally, through a comparison with other works which is incompatible with immersion in the singularity of the work immediately given.

Detachment, disinterestedness, indifference - aesthetic theory has so often presented these as the only way to recognize the work of art for what it is, autonomous, selbständig, that one ends up forgetting that they really mean disinvestment, detachment, indifference, in other words, the refusal to invest oneself and take things seriously.

[...] the refusal of any sort of involvement, any 'vulgar' surrender to easy seduction and collective enthusiasm, which is, indirectly at least, the origin of the taste for formal complexity and objectless representations, is perhaps most clearly seen in reactions to paintings.

Thus one finds that the higher the level of education, the greater is the proportion of respondents who, when asked whether a series of objects would make beautiful photographs, refuse the ordinary objects of popular admiration - a first communion, a sunset or a landscape - as 'vulgar' or 'ugly', or reject them as 'trivial', silly, a bit 'wet', or, in Ortega y Gasset's terms, naively human [...]

[Pierre Bourdieu]
Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, p.34-5

Although the phenomenology of schizophrenia comprises an array of symptoms and experiences, these relate to a group of core disturbances in the relationship between the self and the world. Perhaps the single most important one is what Sass calls hyperconsciousness.

Elements of the self and of experience which normally remain, and need to remain, intuitive, unconscious, become the objects of a detached, alienating attention; and levels of consciousness multiply, so that there is an awareness of one's own awareness, and so on. The result of this is a sort of paralysis, in which even everyday ‘automatic’ actions such as moving one leg in front of another in order to walk, can become problematic.

This goes with an inability to trust one's own body or one's intuitions. Everything gets dragged into the full glare of consciousness.

[Iain McGilchrist]
The Master and his Emissary, p. 394

In modernism the disruption of narrative, with formal devices drawing attention away from the inherent temporality of language, empties human action and intention of the meaning they have in a world to which we respond, and which responds to us.

[...] All of this, coupled with the forcible alienation caused by the bringing into awareness of what is required to remain latent, results in a detachment and irony that are inimical to pathos, a subversive disengagement and spirit of mockery towards life and art.

If one had to sum up these features of modernism they could probably be reduced to these: an excess of consciousness and an over-explicitness in relation to what needs to remain intuitive and implicit; depersonalisation and alienation from the body and empathic feeling; disruption of context; fragmentation of experience; and the loss of ‘betweenness’. 

Each of these is in fact to some degree implied in each of the others; and there is a simple reason for that. They are aspects of a single world: not just the world of the schizophrenic, but, as may by now be clear, the world according to the left hemisphere.

[Iain McGilchrist]
The Master and his Emissary, p. 397

The first is intellectualization, in which the cerebral element prevails, with an interest focused on harmony, often leading to a technical radicalism to the detriment of immediacy and sentiment (“human contents”), resulting in abstract rhythmic-harmonic constructs that often seem to be ends in themselves.

The extreme case of this is recent twelvetone music and strict serialism.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p. 159

The Case for Big Brother

Big Brother is, amongst many things, an opportunity to talk ethics on a national scale.

Like any drama, it affords us the opportunity to comment upon the actions of its protagonists, to discuss morals and negotiate personal politics; and like any cultural product, it affords us the opportunity to create meaning.

And yet, this opportunity - unique in its nature; its scale, its availability, its prominence - is refused by many. At a time - amongst the subjectivity and relativism of post-modernism, and the proliferating distractions of advanced capitalism - when the discussion of ethics may be a particularly pertinent one, should we not at least consider the positive opportunities that Big Brother affords us?

What happens when our so-called highbrow media would, without question, rather discuss the interior of a graphic designer's house than the implications of one human being refusing to engage with another? When the baton of talking everyday ethics is instead taken up by the so-called gutter press?

We could, perhaps, point to the 'insignificance' of Big Brother and its fame-hungry contestants, but then we would, perhaps, be missing the point. At its root, it is the interaction of individuals - it may lack the poetic prose and resonance of your average Shakespearian drama, but it remains a fiction about human beings. This much is inescapable.


Is the black male the most unassailable member of our society? Is he the most feared, and the least 'known'?

The definition of the black male still appears to be a narrow one - he does not, in the popular imagination, have as many 'roles' as the white male.

For the black male to become more known (and therefore more assailable, and less feared) his representation within culture would have to be more widespread and varied than it currently appears to be. A wider range of roles would also afford freedom; it would allow the (average) black male greater room to manoeuvre, and more ways to be.

Related posts:-
Holding Each Other
Infinite Doorways
Make Yourself Up
Guiding Fiction


Thesis              -              Synthesis             -              Antithesis

To become too much of a singular 'type' is to sink into the ground, into the soil, from where you can no longer see or communicate with other 'types'. By sinking you have curtailed your ability to communicate on a wider level.

In this way society becomes compartmentalized. How do the various elements of society (the various sunken 'types') understand and communicate with each other?

If we decide that it is important for lines of communication to stay open, then we need those who have not sunk, or have not sunk too far down. Those that can skirt the surface, go between types and carry messages from one to the other. These would be the oil between the gears, slipping and sliding and keeping things turning smoothly.

These people embody the psychic hermaphrodite. The opposite notion is when something, or someone, becomes predictable - becomes, in other words, a 'type'.

Empirical sciences, pursued purely for their own sake and without philosophical tendency, are like a face without eyes. They are, however, a suitable occupation for people of good capacity, who nevertheless lack the highest faculties that would even be a hindrance to minute investigations of this kind. Such persons concentrate their whole strength and all their knowledge on a single limited field.

Therefore in that field they can reach the most complete knowledge possible, on condition that they remain in complete ignorance of everything else, whereas the philosopher must survey all fields, and indeed to a certain extent be at home in them all. That perfection which is attained only through detail is necessarily ruled out here.

In this connexion, these persons are to be compared to the Geneva workmen, of whom one makes nothing but wheels, another only springs, and a third merely chains; the philosopher, on the other hand, is to be compared to the watch-maker, who from all these produces a whole that has movement and meaning.

They can also be compared to the musicians in an orchestra, each of whom is master of his own instrument; and the philosopher to the conductor, who must be acquainted with the nature and method of handling every instrument, yet without playing them all, or even only one of them, with great perfection.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, Volume II, p.128-9

When you are dependent on the earth under your feet and the community around you for your survival, you experience interdependence as a fact of daily life. Such a deep experiential understanding of interconnectedness - feeling yourself a part of the continuum of life - contrasts starkly with the analytic, fragmented, and theoretical thinking of modern society.

We need to return to a more empathetic relationship with the living world and learn to see broader patterns, process, and change [...] Our static and mechanistic world view has reached its limits, and some scientists - particularly quantum physicists - now speak of a paradigm shift away from the old "building block" view of reality to a more organic one.

In direct opposition to the trend in mainstream culture toward greater specialization, we need to actively promote the generalist - the one who sees connections and makes links across different disciplines. In this regard, one of the most hopeful trends is the increasing respect for more feminine values and ways of thinking.

[Helena Norberg-Hodge]
Ancient Futures: Learning From Ladakh, p.189

Thresholds are zones "in-between" two multiplicities, what Deleuze and Guattari refer to as "zones of proximity", where the elements of multiplicities enter into, and pass through and between each other. Thresholds precede the bifurcations and distinctions that mark off one multiplicity from another.

As Deleuze and Guattari observe, "the self is only a threshold, a door, a becoming between two multiplicities". While we might think of the self as that which is ours, the site of our uniqueness and that which most distinguishes us from others, in this observation Deleuze and Guattari cast the self as preceding these forms and functions of self-organization.

So the importance of thresholds is that these "in-betweens" are becomings. When we are "in-between", on the threshold, what keeps us distinct from this or that can become indiscernible or indistinct or imperceptible.

[Patty Sotirin]
Gilles Deleuze, Key Concepts, p. 119

I think an artist is someone who gets to do whatever they want.

Other professions or practices don't have this level of freedom, dentists need to do dental work, dog trainers train dogs, etc. Those could be fun or not so fun professions to have, but regardless that is what those people need to do until they decide that they want to do something else.

Artists can do a project about dentistry or dogs or anything else they are interested in at any time and then can do something else right after or even during, and still remain an artist.

[Harrell Fletcher]

That was one thing I didn't know. I was hoping, coming here, that I would be able to do a lot of swimming. When you look around you see all these creeks and they look really appealing. But everyone is saying, not only don't swim there, don't even touch it. It's pretty devastating to realize that in a place that is so beautiful, all the foliage, the mountains, the creeks -- it's all in a very fragile contaminated state. It's a real sad thing.

I don't know exactly what we as artists are going to be able to do about that - getting on to your other question. We asked the Gishes, the people who run the newspaper in Whitesburg, what they thought about how art could contribute, and they said that they didn't think that it could. Maybe thinking traditionally about what art is maybe it wouldn't. Maybe we need to come up with a different way of working.

Of course, on the other hand, I fear dilettantism. I don't want to pretend that I'm some sort of scientist or politician that would be able to make some kind of change or know what the change should be - because I don't really. I don't know if that can be my role. More, what I'm capable of doing is allowing voices that are already here to become more audible. If that's what they want to say then that's what they will say. I'm not going to determine issues and then find the sound bites to fit into that. That's not the way that I work or the thing that I find interesting or enjoyable to do. I have difficulty thinking, "Let's try to tackle this issue and as artists fix this thing". I don't know if that's really the way that I can function.

[Harrell Fletcher]

[...] she wrote as a woman, but as a woman who has forgotten that she is a woman, so that her pages were full of that curious sexual quality which comes only when sex is unconscious of itself.

Coleridge certainly did not mean, when he said that a great mind is androgynous, that it is a mind that has any special sympathy with women [...] Perhaps the androgynous mind is less apt to make these distinctions than the single-sexed mind.

He meant, perhaps, that the androgynous mind is resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment; that it is naturally creative, incandescent, and undivided.

[...] men, that is to say, are now writing only with the male side of their brains [...] It is the power of suggestion that one most misses, I thought, taking Mr B the critic in my hand and reading, very carefully and very dutifully, his remarks upon the art of poetry.

Very able they were, acute and full of learning; but the trouble was that his feelings no longer communicated; his mind seemed separated into different chambers; not a sound carried from one to the other.

Thus, when one takes a sentence of Mr B into the mind it falls plump to the ground - dead; but when one takes a sentence of Coleridge into the mind, it explodes and gives birth to all kinds of other ideas, and that is the only sort of writing of which one can say that it has the secret of perpetual life.

[Virginia Woolf]
A Room of One's Own, p.108, 114, 117

All this pitting of sex against sex, of quality against quality; all this claiming of superiority and imputing of inferiority, belong to the private-school stage of human existence where there are 'sides', and it is necessary for one side to beat another side, and of the utmost importance to walk up to a platform and receive from the hands of the Headmaster himself a highly ornamental pot.

As people mature they cease to believe in sides or in Headmasters or in highly ornamental pots.

[Virginia Woolf]
A Room of One's Own, p.122-3

No alliance exists between hackers and specific political organisations. In spite of the fact that each would benefit through interaction and cooperation, the alienating structure of a complex division of labour keeps these two social segments separated more successfully than could the best police force.

Here are two groups motivated to accomplish similar anti-authoritarian ends, but which cannot seem to find a point of intersection [...] The schism between knowledge and technical skill has to be closed, to eliminate the prejudices held by each side - hacker intolerance for the technologically impaired, and activist intolerance for those who are not politically correct).

Electronic Civil Disobedience and Other Unpopular Ideas, p.19-20

Is the artist the point of intersection?

Inasmuch as the State relies on alienated relations to maintain power, the artist, by remaining in-between, works against the State simply through existing.


We find him, with wings on his feet and wings on his helmet, carrying messages from god to god and from gods to humans. When the god Hephaestus fashions Pandora, the first woman, we find Hermes bestowing on her his very special gift – persuasiveness. When Hephaes­tus springs a trap on his wife the goddess Aphrodite and her lover Ares, god of war, netting them in the middle of their love-making, Hermes remarks without embarrassment how glad he would be to take Ares' place.

We find him charming gods and mortals alike. He is the lover of Aphrodite, and even of the virgin goddess Artemis. He takes a decidedly non-heroic stance in life, always avoiding conflict. This slippery, deceiving, seductive, non-heroic character seems to have been the best-loved of the Greek gods, and perceived as the friendliest to mortals.

He has many names and takes many forms: the god of travellers, the god of shepherds, the god of merchants and markets, the god of persuasiveness, the trickster, the god of lies and deceit, the god of gamblers, the god of thieves, the god of illusions, the god of shamanic medicine, the god of the crossroads, the god of connections, of quicksilver, of fast footwork and smooth talking, the god of boundary-crossing.

He is the divine entrepreneur, a con man without ethics and without malice. He has no values of his own, no concern for substance. He enjoys doing deals, being clever, playing the game. He is the herald of the gods, the connector, the carrier of information. Hermes does not craft anything, like Hephaestus. He does not manage anything, like Zeus, or lead us to understanding, like Apollo, or ensure the smooth functioning of society, like Hera, or harvest and hoard, like Kronos. He does not fight, like Ares, or nourish, like Demeter, or protect the weak, like Artemis. He loves paradox and process, trickery and risk. He is ambiguous and many-­faced. He is everybody's mate. He is not associated with a particular place, does not have a temple and priests like the other gods, but is worshipped at every crossroad.

[Bernie Neville]

'Spiral Wizards'

Every epoch, generation, culture and ethnicity has produced its own wizards [...] These 'wise ones' typically arise in times of crisis and rapid change when old patterns and forms are being replaced by the new.

They inhabit the shadows and in-between places - edges, cusps, verges, caves, brinks, rims, fringes, and divides - those misty realms that are no longer one thing but not yet another. Anything can happen in these haunts, the borderline spaces and times.

[...] Most worked quietly offstage, king makers and breakers behind the scenes.

[They] are adept at bridging transition zones between one [thing] and another.

Spiral Wizards wear many different hats and can play a myriad of roles. Just as they can fit in many worlds, they can adjust styles, being sensitive when appropriate and ruthless when necessary, even walking away when their own interests and needs take them elsewhere.

They have very few boundaries, off-limits, or narrow, confining rules to restrict their thinking. Nor are they impeded by the artificial separations imposed by disciplines, fields of knowledge, sacred territories, restrictive traditions, or separate divisional titles in a company. They are resourceful enough to experiment with the novel or make do with the ordinary. Historic differences in terms of church vs. state, public vs. private, one level of government vs. another, or one category or person vs. another have little significance.

'Who is right?' is not as important as 'what does the Spiral need?' Competency is more valued than seniority; knowledge is more useful than status. The mind is free to learn anything from anybody in any manner necessary. Nothing from the past is thrown away, and nothing from the future is rejected out of hand.

Overall, they act on behalf of the entire organism (person, company, or society) for both the greater good and individual gain.

[Don Edward Beck & Christopher C. Cowan]
Spiral Dynamics, p.105, 111

'YELLOW MEME' (Spiral Dynamics)

YELLOW thinkers can stitch together the interests of the often conflicting MEMEs so each continues to run independently together. YELLOW defines situations so as to make possible, though not to guarantee, the healthy coexistence of all of the systems. [...] YELLOW activists are uniquely qualified to remove blockages and smooth out flows between and among MEMEs.

In short, YELLOW is able to move in and out of the various First Tier systems in order to (1) make them healthy and (2) show their connections with other systems in the Spiral.

[Don Edward Beck & Christopher C. Cowan]
Spiral Dynamics, p.283

One of the basic tenets of American Indian religion is the notion that everything in the universe is related. Nevertheless, things that exist are often seen as having a counterpart: sky and earth, plant and animal, water and fire.

In all of these polarities there exist mediators. The role of the mediator is to hold the polarities together, to keep the world from disintegrating.

[...] The mediator between the polarities of woman and man, in the American Indian religious explanation, is a being that combines elements of both genders.

[...] The berdache receives respect partly as a result of being a mediator. Somewhere between the status of women and men, berdaches not only mediate between the sexes but between the psychic and the physical - between the spirit and the flesh.

Since they mix the characteristics of both men and women, they possess the vision of both. They have double-vision, with the ability to see more clearly than a single gender perspective can provide. This is why they are often referred to as "seer," one whose eyes can see beyond the blinders that restrict the average person.

Viewing things from outside the usual perspective, they are able to achieve a creative and objective viewpoint that is seldom available to ordinary people. By the Indian view, someone who is different offeres advantages to society precisely because she or he is freed from the restrictions of the usual. It is a different window from which to view the world.

[Walter L. Williams]
The Spirit and the Flesh, p. 21, 41-2

[The neophyte is] neither living nor dead from one aspect, and both living and dead from another. Their condition is one of ambiguity and paradox, a confusion of all the customary categories.

Jacob Boehme, the German mystic whose obscure writings gave Hegel his celebrated dialectical "triad," liked to say that "In Yea and Nay all things consist."

Liminality may perhaps be regarded as the Nay to all positive structural assertions, but as in some sense the source of them all, and, more than that, as a realm of pure possibility whence novel configurations of ideas and relations may arise.

Dr Mary Douglas [...] has recently advanced the very interesting and illuminating view that the concept of pollution "is a reaction to protect cherished principles and categories from contradiction."

[...] From this standpoint, one would expect to find that transitional beings are particularly polluting, since they are neither one thing nor another, or may be both; or neither here nor there; or may even be nowhere (in terms of any recognized cultural topography), and are at the very least "betwixt and between" all the recognized fixed points in space-time of structural classification.

[...] We are not dealing with structural contradictions when we discuss liminality, but with the essentially unstructured (which is at once de-structured and pre-structured) and often the people themselves see this in terms of bringing neophytes into close connection with deity or with superhuman power, with what is, in fact, often regarded as the unbounded, the infinite, the limitless.

[...] in liminal situations (in kinship-dominated societies) neophytes are sometimes treated or symbolically represented as being neither male nor female. Alternatively, they may be symbolically assigned characteristics of both sexes, irrespective of their biological sex [...] They are symbolically either sexless or bisexual and may be regarded as a kind of human prima materia - as undifferentiated raw material.

[...] The coincidence of opposite processes and notions in a single representation characterizes the peculiar unity of the liminal: that which is neither this not that, and yet is both.

[...] Liminality may be partly described as a stage of reflection.

[Victor Turner]
'Betwixt and Between: The Liminal Period in Rites of Passage', found in Betwixt and Between: Patterns of Masculine and Feminine Initiation, p. 7-9, 14

Every Castalian institute and every Castalian should hold to only two goals and ideals: to attain to the utmost command of his subject, and to keep himself and his subject vital and flexible by forever recognizing its ties with all other disciplines and by maintaining amicable relations with all.

This second ideal, the conception of the inner unity of all man's cultural efforts, the idea of universality, has found perfect expression in our illustrious Game.

It may be that the physicist, the musicologist, or other scholar will at times have to steep himself entirely in his own discipline, that renouncing the idea of universal culture will further some momentary maximum performance in a special field.

But we, at any rate, we Glass Bead Game players, must never allow ourselves such specialisation. 

We must neither approve nor practice it, for our own special mission, as you know, is the idea of Universitas Literrarum. Ours to foster its supreme expression, the noble Game and repeatedly to save the various disciplines from their tendency to self-sufficiency.

[Hermann Hesse]
The Glass Bead Game, p.233-4

The need to be perfect has meant, for me, an avoidance of all positions; because as soon as you take a position, you're compromised. Every position has a blind spot, is flawed. Staying in-between has been a coward's way of trying to stay perfect and un-sullied; an avoidance of battle-scars and wrinkles; mistakes and missteps.

I run endlessly around the pool, observing the people in the water: some are laughing and playing and others are determinedly doing lengths; some have life rafts and float on the surface, whilst others have goggles and explore the depths. Some are drowning.

More and more it seems to me that the challenge of life is to jump headfirst into the pool and to hell with the consequences. Is it too cold? Too deep? Can I swim? Well, there's only one way to find out...

The notion of the superhero as a guardian is quite appropriate. A guardian stands on the wall, on the limit, and protects the city from whatever threatens it. So in this way the hero is […] liminal.

The hero usually is not normal, is not a proper extension of the centre, of identity. Rather, the hero is an exception, an exception that manifests itself in ways that reflect [marginality]: Superman is an alien, Wonder Woman is an Amazon, Aquaman is from Atlantis. Many of the superhero types are born from accidents - they’re freaks, like Dr Manhattan, or the Hulk. They suggest a type of hybridity, the type that happens on the margins - the place where two categories meet. We can see that in the names of superheroes like Batman, Spiderman, etc.

The heroes of antiquity were also hybrids. They were usually demigods, ambiguous beings that stand between worlds: Heracles, Achilles. We also see [examples] in the Bible: the Pre-Diluvian giants -  called ‘men of renown’ and known for their extraordinary feats - were born of the miscegenation between the sons of God and the daughters of men.

They were the last generation before the end of a world, and being at the end of a world before its destruction they appear as a mixture of categories, as a place where the categories begin to fall apart.

The superhero is usually a mirror-reflection of the super-villain, like two sides of a coin, or a wall. Sometimes the difference between one side and the other isn’t that obvious, and that was certainly the case in antiquity.

Because the superhero is an in-between character he can also sometimes defend the world, not from the outside threat, but from the dangers and pathologies of the centre. Sometimes the hero can defend the world from both extremes at the same time.

[Jonathan Pageau]
Symbolism in Guardians of the Galaxy v.2

Preconquest regions were often fringed by intervening zones of mayhem and disorder, including warfare, piracy, extravagant sexuality, and brigandage. Getting through to them was often dangerous.

Where preconquest populations were unrelentingly besieged by harsh conquistadorial demands, intuitive rapport sometimes suddenly give way en masse, precipating a period of acute existential crisis.

Arising from such crises was the ‘savage- savage’ who caused much of the mayhem and disorder seen in those disturbed and dangerous zones that so often barricaded entrance to remnant preconquest areas.

[E. Richard Sorenson]
'Preconquest Consciousness', p. 2

[…] Rosch found borderline members seemed to cause more uncertainty.

[…] she asked subjects to respond true or false to assertions such as “A carrot is a vegetable” and “A pickle is a vegetable.” She found they answered true significantly faster with high-ranking items like carrot than low-ranking ones like pickle.

The marginal examples demanded more thought […] they seemed harder to round off.

[Daniel McNeill & Paul Freiberger]
Fuzzy Logic, p. 85

[…] imagine an item which is part table and part cup, perhaps a toy table with a broad hollow on top.

This ungainly goblet is not much of a table or a cup, so it is a table and cup to very low extent, say, 0.02. But it is a table-cup to high degree, perhaps 0.95.

The mind forms a prototype of table-cup and compares the item to that, not to tables and cups. 

[Daniel McNeill & Paul Freiberger]
Fuzzy Logic, p.98


The mind naturally wants to round off to the nearest whole number - the nearest steady-state. If the in-between can become a prototype in itself, rather than being an inferior version of other prototypes, then the mind has an easier time grasping it, or resting upon it.

[…] they do not mean that the author wants to make up his mind in the usual sense and set to work in the external world. 

This is something he simply could not do without realizing his unlimited possibilities in a limited reality, without emerging from his subjectivistic creativity and concerning himself with the mechanism of cause and effect or with normative ties.

He could not make up his mind without relinquishing his superior irony; in other words, without giving up his romantic situation. The romantic wants to do nothing except experience and paraphrase his experience in an emotionally impressive fashion.

[Carl Schmitt]
Political Romanticism, p.100

Liberalism's logic seeks to eliminate not only borders as we normally consider them - through political and economic globalization - but also the "boundaries" that exist in nature.

Today's emphasis upon issues of identity - especially arising from the sexual revolution - arise equally from the liberal abhorrence of “forms."

The human form above all that requires elimination is sexual difference, a goal advanced by increasingly aggressive efforts to secure state-funded birth control, abortion, and artificial forms of fertilization and gestation of children.

The people most committed to protecting and preserving the environment and the technological manipulation of nature are often the most fervent in support of eliminating every evidence of natural differentiation between men and women, through chemical and technological manipulation.

[Patrick J. Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.xix

Clowns are disturbing because they turn the world upside down and openly challenge the order of nature and society. Wherever harmony and order are present, the clown intervenes. The clown makes boundaries explicit by crossing them; demonstrates the meaning of order through disorder. Most important of all, the clown reminds us that in the flux of the world nothing is certain. In Blackfoot ceremonies the circle is always open so that something new can appear.

A relative of the clown is the "contrary" who does everything in reverse. The contrary will walk backward, face the rear of a horse when riding, and wash in dirt. The contrary's behavior is also linguistic, with No used for assent, and Yes turned into a denial. Thus, through the medium of speech and action, a contrary teaches the limits and conventions of social behavior and social inhibitions.

Clowns and contraries, how much we need them in our own society today. We need the Fool in King Lear who constantly mocked the king, reminding him of human mortality and stupidity. The clown reminds us of the irrational within our universe, the Dionysian forces within human society that must be balanced rather than repressed or denied, and the futility of our quest for certainty, control, and absolute power.


The basic element of this worldview is that balance lies in flux, transformation, and chance. Harmony always requires the presence of the trickster, the one who overturns laws, transcends boundaries, and can win everything when down to the last counter.

By contrast, the Newtonian worldview pictured the cosmos as material bodies moving under fixed laws against the backdrop of space. Newton's universe was perfect order and predictable mechanical motion and held no room for the trickster. As the quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli put it: There is no place for the irrational within the world of classical physics.

Chaos theory (or, more generally, the science of nonlinear systems) explores the different consequences that randomness, chance, and probability can play in our world. It demonstrates that our universe is far from being simplistic clockwork because chance plays a guiding role in a vast number of processes, including weather, fast-flowing rivers, the shock waves from supersonic aircraft, the growth of materials, and the fluctuations of insect populations.

[F. David Peat]
Blackfoot Physics, p.83-4, 174-5

Androgyny, which some feminists promote as a pacifist blueprint for sexual utopia, belongs to the contemplative rather than active life. It is the ancient prerogative of priests, shamans, and artists.

Feminists have politicized it as a weapon against the masculine principle. Redefined, it now means men must be like women and women can be whatever they like. Androgyny is a cancellation of male concentration and projection.

[Camille Paglia]
Sexual Personae, p.21-22

Spiritual enlightenment produces feminization of the male. Mead says, “The more intricate biological pattern of the female has become a model for the artist, the mystic, and the saint.” Intuition or extrasensory perception is a feminine hearkening to the secret voices in and beyond things.

Farnell says, “Many ancient observers noted that women (and effeminate men) were especially prone to orgiastic religious seizure.” Hysteria means womb-madness (from the Greek ustera, “womb”). Women were sibyls and oracles, subject to prophetic visions. Herodotus speaks of Scythian Enarees, male prophets afflicted by a “female disease,” probably sexual impotence.

This phenomenon called shamanism migrated northward to Central Asia and has been reported in North and South America and Polynesia. Frazer describes the shaman’s stages of sexual transformation, which resemble those of our candidates for sex-reassignment surgery. The religious call may come as a dream in which the man is “possessed by a female spirit.” He adopts female speech, hair style, and clothing and finally takes a husband.

The Siberian shaman, who wears a woman’s caftan sewn with large round disks as female breasts, is for Mircea Eliade an example of “ritual androgyny,” symbolizing the coincidentia oppositorum or reconciliation of opposites.

Inspired, the shaman goes into a trance and falls unconscious. He may disappear, either to fly over distant lands or to die and be resurrected. The shaman is an archaic prototype of the artist, who also crosses sexes and commands space and time. How many modern transsexuals are unacknowledged shamans? Perhaps it is to poets they should go for counsel, rather than surgeons.

Teiresias, the androgynous Greek shaman, is depicted as an old man with long beard and pendulous female breasts [...] It is as if Teiresias, in the underworld of racial memory, represents a fullness of emotional knowledge fusing the sexes.

[Camille Paglia]
Sexual Personae, p.45

Related posts:-
The Middle Path
Escaping Uncertainty
Shades of gray
Everything and Nothing 
Open Wound
Chinese Whispers
Seeking out a challenge
Playing the Art Game | Art as In-between
The Principle of Polarity
Making Connections
Forever Becoming
Separations and Bridges
The Oak and the Stream
Walk a Straight Line
The Eternal Ideas
Where language ends and art begins 


Global                     -                    Local
Machine                  -                    Tool
Complex                  -                   Simple
Large                        -                   Small
Fragile                     -                   Resilient

Natural limits keep us in harmony with our environment (i.e. the larger system). When these limits are surpassed we become cancerous for the larger system.

[...] the more time I spent in Ladakh, the more I came to realize the importance of scale. 

At first, I sought to explain the Ladakhis' laughter and absence of anger or stress in terms of their values and religion. These did, no doubt, play an important role.

But gradually I became aware that the external structures shaping the society, scale in particular, were just as important. They had a profound effect on the individual and in turn reinforced his or her beliefs and values.

Since villages are rarely larger than a hundred houses, the scale of life is such that people can directly experience their mutual interdependence.

They have an overview and can comprehend the structures and networks of which they are a part, seeing the effects of their actions and thus feeling a sense of responsibility. And because their actions are more visible to others, they are more easily held accountable.

Economic and political interactions are almost always face to face; buyer and seller have a personal connection, a connection that discourages carelessness or deceit. As a result, corruption or abuse of power is very rare.

Smaller scale also limits the amount of power vested in one individual. What a difference between the president of a nation-state and the goba in a Ladakhi village; one has power over several millions of people whom he will never meet and who will never have the opportunity to speak to him; the other coordinates the affairs of a few hundred people whom he knows intimately, and who interact with him on a daily basis.

In the traditional Ladakhi village, people have much control over their own lives. To a very great extent they make their own decisions rather than being at the mercy of faraway, inflexible bureaucracies and fluctuating markets.

The human scale allows for spontaneous decision making and action based on the needs of the particular context. There is no need for rigid legislation; instead, each situation brings forth a new response.

[Helena Norberg-Hodge]
Ancient Futures: Learning From Ladakh, p.50-1

Is it that towering individuals (the artist-genius, the rock-star, etc) are a psychological necessity (a manifestation of the hero-archetype)?

If this is the case, then perhaps we need to think carefully about how we create our towering individuals.

A local hero is accessible and understandable (and implicitly supersedable in a way that the global hero is not). The ultimate local hero is the parent or, in Buddhism, the lama (mentor). Global heroes are often unattainable, and by their distance appear unearthly and perfect. We have a sense that we will never reach them, let alone supersede them; in this sense they exert a tyranny over us.

We are currently saturated with global heroes, but are these - and should they be - balanced with local heroes?

The cultural centralization that occurs through the media is also contributing to a growing insecurity as well as passivity. Traditionally, there was lots of dancing, singing, and theater. People of all ages joined in. In a group sitting around the fire, even toddlers would dance, with the help of older siblings or friends. Everyone knew how to sing, to act, to play music.

Now that radio has come to Ladakh, you do not need to sing your own songs or tell your own stories. You can sit and listen to the best singer, the best storyteller. But the result is that people become inhibited and self-conscious. You are no longer comparing yourself to neighbors and friends, who are real people - some better than you at singing, but perhaps less good at dancing - and you are never as good as the stars on the radio.

Community ties are also broken when people sit passively listening to the very best rather than making music or dancing together.

[Helena Norberg-Hodge]
Ancient Futures: Learning From Ladakh, p.123-4

They have a turtle pond in front of the museum that everyone has to walk by to get in. It looks like a nothing kind of pond with water lilies in it. We decided to do an underwater video. In a really klunky way, we put on waders, got an aquarium, put a video camera in the aquarium, submerged it part way and walked around. The images that were shot that way wound up looking beautiful.

We projected them as three big video projections inside the museum. It felt like you had entered inside the water. It was like uncovering the beauty of a place that's already there in the same way that we'd done with people.  

We were uncovering the inherent culture that exists within a place. Making that visible to people.

Valuing what is already there, rather than bringing something new in and saying, "This is what art is," or "This is what culture is. This is what's important." Instead, we were very subtly pointing to things and putting and highlighting various aspects of a community or place or person.

Several projects I have done have been about one individual who is local to the place where the show is going to be. Redefining what a celebrity might be. Taking control of that system.

Often when you go to a community and say, "I'm going to do something about this place," people will say "You should do it about the mayor." "You should do it about this person who is famous and who came from here." And I'll say, "No. I want to do it about regular people. Those people are important too." There will be this reluctance at first, but then they will be excited.

It's a shift in how you understand what is important or what history is. What an important person in the community is. It's trying to flip a lot of those things on their heads and value everyday things. Using things like a museum context, or gallery context, or media, inherently adds that to it. Making a movie about somebody. People are used to movies being made about famous people. It's reversing that. It's always been pretty positive.

[Harrell Fletcher]
"An interview with Harrell Fletcher: Merging art, functionality and education" from In Motion Magazine

When my elder two children were young I was for several years a stay-at-home dad, immersed in a world of diapers and groceries while trying to write my first book. 

I often felt terribly frustrated, torturing myself with thoughts like “I have such important things to share with the world, and here I am changing diapers and cooking all day.” These thoughts distracted me from the gift at hand and made me less present with my children. 

I did not understand that those moments when I gave in to my situation, put down my writing, and fully engaged my children had just as powerful an effect on the universe as any book I would write. 

We don’t always have the eyes to see it, but everything has its karmic effect, or as the Western religions say, God sees everything.

[Charles Eisenstein]
 The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, Chapter 11

One of the most important studies that we have on the effects of local business compared the impacts of $100 spent at a local book store versus $100 spent at a chain.

$100 spent at the local book store left $45 in the local economy. $100 spent at the chain left $13, so we get 3 times the income effects, 3 times the jobs, 3 times the tax proceeds for local governments.

The principle difference was that the local book store had a local high level management team; it used local lawyers and accountants; it advertised on local radio and TV. None of those things were true of the chain store.

Excerpt from 'The Economics of Happiness'

The Amish people maintain a human rather than an organizational scale in their daily lives. They resisted the large, consolidated school and the proposition that big schools (or farms) were better than smaller ones.

[...] The Amish appreciate thinking that makes the world, and their own lives, intelligible to them. When human groups and units of work become too large for them, a sense of estrangement sets in.  

When this happens the world becomes unintelligible to them and they cease participating in what is meaningless.

Smallness in the Amish community is maintained by a functional unit no larger than a group of people who can know one another by name, by shared ceremonial activity, and by convention.

[...] the Amish community "is small, so small that either it itself is the unit of personal observation or else, being somewhat larger and yet homogenous, it provides in some part of it a unit of personal observation fully representative of the whole."

When Amish enterprises become large - successful by worldy standards - they also constitute a liability to the Amish way of life. The determination to maintain a small-scale operation dictates that if the business becomes "too large," it must be sold to an outside company.

[John A. Hostetler]
Amish Society, p. 12-13, 138

When a thing reaches a certain size the bonds between its constituent parts begin to weaken. These bonds consist of the sorts of things that tie things - tie people - together; and imperative amongst them is 'trust.'

Because real trust does not function at larger scales, we must invent ways of simulating, or augmenting it. In much the same way that we augment the human eye with telescopes and microscopes in order to allow us to 'see' at non-human scales, we augment our human capacity for trust with bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy is, amongst other things, a formalised simulation of 'trust.' It substitutes trust engendered through familiarity, with 'certification' by means of 'testing.' I do not need a DBS form in order to be around the children of friends or relatives, but I do need one in order to work with children in my community.

In modern societies we are asked to experience ourselves as a part of an increasingly large collective. Whereas once circle A would have defined the boundaries of our collective, now it is defined by D.

As the perimeters of our collectives widen, the need for simulated bonds increases. If human trust fails beyond the borders of A, then any level beyond this will require artificial trust. At these levels it is our red tape that binds us; and increasing levels of scale (i.e. complexity) require increasing amounts of red tape.

The fact that we often feel bogged down by red tape is a sign that we're operating at an unhealthy scale. I'm not saying that there are too many people, rather that the way we think of ourselves - and organize ourselves - is dysfunctional.

Inasmuch as we are imbalanced in favour of the large-scale, then our remedy must involved tipping the scales back toward the small-scale. In practical terms this involves, amongst other things, devolving power; splitting our over-grown structures into smaller pieces, and reducing the scale of things to a level in which artificial trust is manageable, and in which human trust can thrive.

The indicators that matter to the European Central Bank (ECB) [...] are those representing half a billion people.

The ECB is concerned with the inflation or unemployment rate across the eurozone as if it were a single homogeneous territory, at the same time as the economic fate of European citizens is splintering in different directions, depending on which region, city or neighbourhood they happen to live in.

Official knowledge becomes ever more abstracted from lived experience, until that knowledge simply ceases to be relevant or credible.

[William Davies]
'How statistics lost their power - and why we should fear what comes next'

Dunbar's number

Dunbar's number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships—relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person.

This number was first proposed in the 1990s by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who found a correlation between primate brain size and average social group size. By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, he proposed that humans can comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships.

Dunbar explained it informally as "the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar"

Proponents assert that numbers larger than this generally require more restrictive rules, laws, and enforced norms to maintain a stable, cohesive group. It has been proposed to lie between 100 and 250, with a commonly used value of 150.

'Dunbar's number'

Up to a tribal scale people could do a better job of accurate information sharing because there was less incentive to disinform each other, because it would probably get found out - and we depended on each other pretty significantly. The Dunbar limit seems to be a pretty hard limit on that kind of information sharing. 

Tribes never got beyond a certain scale within a certain kind of organisation, and if they started to they would cleave - if they were going to get larger they would have to have a different kind of organisation.

One thing that we commonly think about is a limit of care and tracking - up to [say] a hundred and fifty people I can actually know everybody pretty well, they can all know me, and if I were to hurt anybody I’m hurting the people that I’ve known for my whole life.

Something like universal interest of that group, or a communalist idea makes sense if there are no anonymous people, or very far spaces where I can externalise harm. I basically can’t externalise harm in the social commons when I know everybody well. I also can’t lie and have that be advantageous. 

There is a communication protocol that anyone who has information about something within that setting can inform a choice where that information would be relevant. They can actually communicate with everybody fairly easily. If there’s a really big choice to make everybody can sit around a tribal circle and actually be able to say something about it. As you get larger you just can’t do that.

I think there’s a strong cleaving basis in not wanting to be part of a group that would make decisions that I’ll be subjected to that I don’t get any say in - unless it’s really important. [For instance,] tribal warfare is starting to occur more often, and so having a larger group is really important. In which case the bonding energy exceeds the cleaving energy.

[Daniel Schmachtenberger]
'Daniel Schmachtenberger on The Portal (with host Eric Weinstein), Ep. #027 - On Avoiding Apocalypses' (1:52:55)

There is actually a maximum size a state can get to - which about five to seven million (it varies a bit, depending on the number of cities) - before it loses cultural coherence.

The argument in Europe is that we need the European Union to provide financial defence and foreign policy, but then you want smaller states which do culture.

[Dave Snowden]

[…] Mother Nature does not like anything too big. 

The largest land animal is the elephant, and there is a reason for that. If I went on a rampage and shot an elephant, I might be put in jail, and get yelled at by my mother, but I would hardly disturb the ecology of Mother Nature. On the other hand […] one bank failure, that of Lehman Brothers, in September 2008, brought down the entire edifice.

Mother Nature does not limit the interactions between entities; it just limits the size of its units. 

(Hence my idea is not to stop globalisation and ban the Internet; as we will see, much more stability would be achieved by stopping governments from helping companies when they become too large and by giving back advantages to the small guy.)

[…] I realised that as they become larger, companies appear to be more “efficient,” but they are also much more vulnerable to outside contingencies, those contingencies commonly known as “Black Swans” […] All that under the illusion of more stability.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
The Black Swan, p. 314-5

One person, one vote evolved for small populations with a highly resilient ecosystem. It doesn’t work for large populations where there is too much manipulation.

One of the things we need to start to look at is smaller communities in which you actually know the people you are electing, and then those people elect the larger groups.

[Dave Snowden]
'Resilience in a Time of COVID w/ Dave Snowden'

The Crystal Palace project did not use computers, and the parts were built not far from the source, with a small number of businesses involved in the supply chain […] There were no consulting firms. The agency problem (which we defined as the divergence between the interests of the agent and that of his client) was not significant.

In other words, it was a much more linear economy - less complex - than today. And we have more nonlinearities - asymmetries, convexities - in today’s world.

Black Swan effects are necessarily increasing, as a result of complexity, interdependence between parts, globalisation, and the beastly thing called “efficiency” that makes people now sail too close to the wind. Add to that consultants and business schools. One problem somewhere can halt the entire project - so the projects tend to get as weak as the weakest link in their chain (an acute negative convexity effect).

The world is getting less and less predictable, and we rely more and more on technologies that have errors and interactions that are harder to estimate, let alone predict.

[Nassim Nicholas Taleb]
Antifragile, p. 285

Locke says in 1690, ‘well England’s full, so if you want some land just go to America, it’s empty. Maybe there’s a few savages there, just kill them.’ 

Melville does the same thing in Moby Dick, he thinks, will there ever come a time where we run out of whales - and he says no. But we have run out of whales. 

So Locke was right in 1690 that the world was large and had infinite resources [but] he’s certainly wrong today. 

[Sheldon Solomon]
'Sheldon Solomon: Death and Meaning | Lex Fridman Podcast #117'

Small-scale operations, no matter how numerous, are always less likely to be harmful to the natural environment than large-scale ones, simply because their individual force is small in relation to the recuperative forces of nature. 

There is wisdom in smallness if only on account of the smallness and patchiness of human knowledge, which relies on experiment far more than on understanding. The greatest danger invariably arises from the ruthless application, on a vast scale, of partial knowledge such as we are currently witnessing in the application of nuclear energy, of the new chemistry in agriculture, of transportation technology, and countless other things.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Small is Beautiful, p. 29

'The craftsman himself,' says Ananda Coomaraswamy, a man equally competent to talk about the modern west as the ancient east, 'can always, if allowed to, draw the delicate distinction between the machine and the tool. 

The carpet loom is a tool, a contrivance for holding warp threads at a stretch for the pile to be woven round them by the craftsmen's fingers; but the power loom is a machine, and its significance as a destroyer of culture lies in the fact that it does the essentially human part of the work.' 

[E.F. Schumacher]
Small is Beautiful, p. 46

Behaviourism was a philosophy very much under the influence of modern science. As such, it focused on commonalities across individuals, assuming that the particular subject's uniquely individuated dynamics could be safely ignored.

[Alicia Juarrero]
Dynamics in Action, p.220

Like most one-size-fits-all approaches, Behaviourism was designed to suit the needs of society at scale. 

The therapist does not, for the most part, have the time to get to know the patient in all of their splendid uniqueness. Instead of this they have a schematic approach, a general plan. 

A traditional approach would, perhaps, focus more on the whole person, including what is unique about them - in spite of the fact that the inevitable errant data points would lead the therapist away from the clear air of general theory and into the thickets of case history. 

This wouldn't pose such a challenge for a therapist that was embedded in the same community as the patient, and so knew most of the case history already.

Yayayi's gradual devolution suggests how the organizational problems of a large, permanent community remain beyond the reach of traditional Pintupi means of resolution.

The very basis of integration limits the numbers it can manage. 

The expectation among Pintupi coresidents is that they are "one countrymen," that they should help each other. When the number of people is large, however, too many claims are made on one's relatedness.

[Fred R. Myers]
Pintupi Country, Pintupi Self, p.260

With each century of development, and especially with the growth of industry, both the powers and the desires of men increased.

Those powers and desires gave rise to new habits, and those habits began to be experienced as needs. Since industry encourages the emergence of new needs, and democracy encourages industry, the needs of modern democratic societies are destined to diversify and multiply continually.

Thus it is that in America, an unprecedented level of social energy goes into the invention of new ways to meet social needs. And yet “new needs arise every day.”

[Dana Jalbert Stauffer]
‘“The Most Common Sickness of Our Time”: Tocqueville on Democratic Restlessness’, The Review of Politics 80 (2018), p.452

Nisbet assumes that Roman and Christian philosophers shared our high opinion of material comforts.

But although they admired the ingenuity that produced those comforts, they believed that moral wisdom lay in the limitation rather than in the multiplication of needs and desires. 

The modern conception of progress depends on a positive assessment of the proliferation of wants. Ancient authors, however, saw no moral or social value in the transformation of luxuries into necessities.

Now we can see what was so novel about the eighteenth-century idea of progress […] Its original appeal and its continuing plausibility derived from the more specific assumption that insatiable appetites, formerly condemned as a source of social instability and personal unhappiness, could drive the economic machine - just as man's insatiable curiosity drove the scientific project - and thus ensure a never-ending expansion of productive forces.

The moral rehabilitation of desire, even more than a change in the perception of time as such, generated a new sense of possibility, which announced itself most characteristically not in the vague utopianism of the French Enlightenment but in the hardheaded new science of political economy.

[Christopher Lasch]
The True and Only Heaven, p.45, 52

Complexity is best characterised as arising through large-scale, non-linear interaction.

[Paul Cilliers]
Complexity and Postmodernism, p.37

Maybe a type of industrial society could be developed which was organized in much smaller units, with an almost infinite decentralization of authority and responsibility.

From the point of view of the Gospels, a hierarchical structure, i.e., authority as such, is not an evil. But it must be of a size compatible, so to say, with the size of the human being.

Structures made up of, say, a hundred people can still be fully democratic without falling into disorder. But structures employing many hundreds or even thousands of people cannot possibly preserve order without authoritarianism, no matter how great the wish for democracy might be.

[...] Its authoritarian character, owing to organization in excessively large units.

[E.F. Schumacher]
Good Work, p. 29

[...] when we look at economics in terms of evolving extraction, abstraction, and accumulation, all economic systems to date (communism, fascism, socialism, and capitalism) have been different instanciations of this same core principle.

Capitalism has been the most effective overall, but they have all been part of the search space exploited by the evolutionary dynamics arising from surplus, win-lose game dynamics, and this ring of power.

[Daniel Schmachtenberger]
'New Economics Series: Part 4', Explorations on the Future of Civilisation

With certain exceptions the wars of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries had been struggles of limited resources for limited objectives. The growth of political democracy, the rise of nationalism, and the industrialization of war led to total war with total mobilization and unlimited objectives.

In the eighteenth century, when rulers were relatively free from popular influences, they could wage wars for limited objectives and could negotiate peace on a compromise basis when these were objectives were attained or appeared unattainable. Using a mercenary army which fought for pay, they could put that army into war or out of war, as seemed necessary, without vitally affecting its morale or its fighting qualities.

The arrival of democracy and of the mass army required that the great body of the citizens give wholehearted support for any war effort, and made it impossible to wage wars for limited objectives.

Such popular support could be won only in behalf of great moral goals or universal philosophic values or, at the very least, for survival. At the same time the growing industrialization and economic integration of modern society made it impossible to mobilize for war except on a very extensive basis which approached total mobilization. This mobilization could not be directed toward limited objectives.

From these factors came total war with total mobilization and unlimited objectives, including the total destruction or unconditional surrender of the enemy.

Having adopted such grandiose goals and such gigantic plans, it became almost impossible to allow the continued existence of noncombatants within the belligerent countries or neutrals outside them. It became almost axiomatic that “who is not with me is against me.” At the same time, it became almost impossible to compromise sufficiently to obtain the much more limited goals which would permit a negotiated peace.

As Charles Seymour put it: “Each side had promised itself a peace of victory. The very phrase ‘negotiated peace’ became synonymous with treachery.”

Moreover, the popular basis of modern war required a high morale which might easily be lowered if the news leaked out that the government was negotiating peace in the middle of the fighting. As a consequence of these conditions, efforts to negotiate peace during the First World War were generally very secret and very unsuccessful.

[Carroll Quigley]
Tragedy and Hope, p.149

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The Pyramid
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Close To Extraordinary
The Earth's the Limit 
Masters of the Universe
Making a Difference
Small Mind/Large Mind
Everything is Connected 
One to One 
Concentrate / Decentrate
Short Cuts
Global / Local