30 December 2010

Mindmapping (1/8/11)

Greetings and Happy Solar (Gregorian) New Year.
Please find included:
A few links for mindmaps
A list of suggested supplies to bring with you (in orange)
A bit of suggested homework (in blue)

Cobbled together with some of my rambling thoughts on mindmapping. Please feel free to ignore any or all of it... or if you only wish to read a bit of it perhaps look at the links, the supplies and the suggested homework. I will also likely cross post this on the blog I am developing with some images of mindmaps. There is likely to be something there on 'creative tension' in the next few days. I Felt Hat

I thought I might send a couple of things to the people who have expressed interest in the mindmapping on Jan 8th (11am, The Sanitarium). First, if you have not ever done any mind mapping maybe you could take a couple of moments and look at these links.

You Tube Instructions


The wiki on mind maps

Overall, mindmapping is creative process that can allow you to engage with a variety of things in a creative, playful way. It is also a way of relating to a complex information set as a system. For instance, we might typically make lists of the things we want to accomplish or manifest in life. These lists tend to lead to a linear process in which one set of activities might even compete with another. The mindmap can allow you to look across all these and find points of integration and 'leverage' that might otherwise not be apparent. A point of leverage is someplace where you might be able to work on one aspect of a project and have a beneficial effect on many other areas. The map becomes a reflective surface for one's life or endeavor.

Happy in SLO

My friend Cate Trujillo always has these interesting creative projects she is doing. I wrote this for her "Happy in SLO" project.

Happiness is neither a made nor unmade condition, though it seems so. It is possible to make suffering and to place things in the way of our happiness. It is possible to experience pleasurable stimuli we confuse with happiness, a deadening substitute that callouses the heart. Happiness can seem closer to the surface here, in the location of this location, than in many of the places I have lived, and I have lived in many places. Such a comparative act of narrative is not useful in the domain of happiness. The felt heartbreak of our impermanence sloughs away the callouses on the heart in an instant. This sundering of what we have through artifice avoided is always present in any local moment, here no less or more. In that moment the happiness in which we are simply participants is revealed. These hills that surround and hold the particular moment of the town remind us of our natural condition in their embrace. In any direction, we can see the outlines of this bowl, in which our lives unfold. We feel that unfolding in the natural, cyclic changes adorning the apparent permanence of surrounding hills. Like happiness this can only be witnessed. I particularly like the winter when, occluded, the hills could be the feet of some soaring, implied, mountain. There is an immediate doorway to an unexplored horizon. The town itself becomes intimate; embraced. All becomes green in just a few days it seems. This way of being held seems to me a mixed blessing, giving both a natural relaxation to life and a shadowed xenophobia that can come with being cradled so. Time can slow, stretching out to some fullness of being. People walk, rather than rush, to some appointed moment. There is a localized and immediate sense of fabric and exchange. There is the sense that something beautiful can emerge in the liminal spaces of some us, together. This is brought into relief by the shadowed reflection of fear and isolation that has us wish to remove park benches and decide that sweeping events of this moment on the planet are not occurring because the weather stations within hailing distance have not reported, cannot report, them to us. Our happiness wears the leering mask of acquisitive complacence, a rictus grin of 'us and them.' We grasp and cling to the imagined moment of an artificially produced security; an impoverished and fearful substitute for actual happiness. We feel the immediacy of dependency and its imagined necessities at the expense of greater connectedness in the world. In the moment of this intimacy we recoil from the volatility, upheaval and intricacy of a larger complexity. We are afraid and in the doings of our fear actively forget the immediacy of our happiness. The stars of Antarctic night are overwhelming, self obliterating. Should I look away? A cloistered immediacy steals away the natural morphology of happiness always arising and so present here. I myself live in a very small world here and the outer smallness of this place reflects that back to me, amplifying and refracting the state of immediacy and intimacy. In the stillness of that it becomes possible to feel the sweep of this moment on the planet, if we are willing. So felt, that wave of moment is not some comparative, analytic act to be placed in the ledger of such moments and then used in the heartless calculation of happiness as a fetish. Happiness is not particulate and cannot be counted. The artificial duality of 'here and there,' some imagined 'us and them' mists the moment of our already present happiness and we seek consolation in stimulus and consumption. "If only... then I would be happy" rides the soul, an unwanted passenger of habituation. Happiness is never the minimization of suffering to be found in some exercised efficiency. Happiness is only ever a discovery of what already is. It is revealed in the contemplative and ecstatic, both of which call forth an already present wholeness and coherence, both of which draw us through and outside of ourselves into the land that actually is. In the breaths between our busy-ness this bubbles up, unless we habitually and actively prevent it. The social contract of our scarcity and fear encounter the abundance always issuing forth from our impermanence. Here, in the place of this place, it seems closer to the surface, a less distanced remembering of what is already known, and can only ever be known now, when we are turned to it in the wholeness of our hearts.

roger burton, SLO 2010

21 December 2010

Socrates and Necessity

This is an excerpt from MIT open source copy of Plato's “Republic.” Apologies on the formating. It follows on from my posts on necessity, but is also interesting as an example of a different sort of dialogue. I picked this because it represents a key moment in this dialogue for me. Socrates has just distinguished that the subject of the inquiry is 'justice' and they have moved to begin defining a state. In this passage Socrates describes his ideal state. Glaucon then asks about 'luxury' and the entire thing changes. It is a shift in contextual necessity from 'food' to 'luxury.' The implications and change in the dialogue are evident and immediate. This is echoed in the Cave analogy and again in the myth that concludes the “Republic.” This is also one of the places where people feel Socrates is making an argument for 'expertise' or 'division of labor.' One could also meaningfully interpret these statements as about 'social fabric.' It is interesting to consider that as an ethicist (rather than an economist) Adam Smith expressed concern about the destructive effects of division of labor on the workers themselves and society at large. He stipulated that the society would need to invest heavily and broadly in education to balance this. That idea was in turn interpreted as the need for 'factory schools' as appeared in the northern part of the US at the beginning of the industrial era. The factory school does not address the need for dimensionality. There is a very good RSA video about this latter question of education: RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms

The Republic, Book II

Then, I said, let us begin and create in idea a State; and yet the true creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention.

Of course, he replied.
Now the first and greatest of necessities is food, which is the condition of life and existence.

The Unsent

This is an 'unsent' letter. The 'not sending' of it is a result of engaging in the simple reflective process below. The unspoken question of the 'process' is the basis for such a conscious choice to 'engage' or 'by-pass' in particular moment of the arising motive to speak, act, etc. For me this is an occasion to reflect on the context of service, or the attended to commitment, of that moment. What is my 'mandate' to speak or act in such a moment. Often it is a moment of some felt conflict, or the arising 'need' to do something. This may seem tedious, but we are enacting some form of this much of the time. I was introduced to this simple process by my dear friend Robert Hanig. I have made explicit the distinction between 'internal' and 'collective', but it is not necessary.
I engage in a very simple process, It can be depicted like this:

Even as I write this I am deciding about the first level of engagement, and am not yet clear. It occurs to me that whatever I write is going to possibly occur as offensive to some people. I therefore have to make a determination about whether I am sufficiently committed to deal with that and to do so in a spirit of inquiry and learning, as opposed to one of advocating some form of 'rightness'. In my model, this has to do with the context of service or mandate for my speaking and action in any moment. In the Bohmian model this has to do with distinguishing where I might advocate for something as 'necessary' and developing a kind of conscious responsibility about my disposition with regard to that. One result of such a Bohmian act is the possibility of suspending what occurs for me as 'necessary' in that (any) moment and trusting something about the collective nature of emergence as we inquire together. In short, I am writing this, but have not determined that it is appropriate to send. If I do send it I hope you can read it as coming from a committed partner. Should you be generous enough to read what I have written, I certainly understand the commitment required for that reading.

19 December 2010

Dialogue & Necessity

I was imagining that I might write an entry about blogging itself, but I found myself writing about dialogue instead. In doing so I have used some terms like systems thinking, emergence, etc. without really defining them. I hope you are not overly bothered by this. I feel certain that I will come back to ask more about those things.

Is necessity the mother of invention? This is a pretty deeply held cultural icon. If it is, what are the implications of this?

In the Bohmian sense of dialogue it is usually the case that first dialogue is about the nature of dialogue itself. There are several aspects to this, it seems to me. One of the primary dimensions is the consideration together and for oneself about the 'purpose' of dialogue, and of any particular dialogue. In a certain sense, for me, dialogue is not a 'functional' undertaking in the modern sense. It is not intended as a means by which operational decisions are taken, though that is not excluded in the broadest sense. One way to consider this is that the moment of dialogue is not about some other moment. It is about that particular moment and these particular people in that moment, exactly as we are.

This is frustrating to many people when they feel a need to get something done. It may be one of the things that Bohm is pointing to when he talks about the nature of necessity, it seems to me. There are some aspects to this that are not immediately apparent and can be hard to unpack. The inquiry into some felt necessity in itself is not a proscription against action. It is an inquiry. Typically when we consider action, particularly action where we feel there is some urgent problem that must be solved, we do not engage in an inquiry beyond the functional means of accomplishing that action. We can even be frustrated or angered when asked to do so. It may seem to us in the moment that such an inquiry reduces our effectiveness. So why would we inquire into some necessity of this or that moment or context?

17 December 2010

Aristotle's Causality

This is an acquisition of Aristotle's Causality that I use in my work. I frequently combine this with Donella Meadow's hierarchy of systemic interventions, which I will post my understanding of later. I do not go into the differences between 'potential' and 'actual' here. That distinction is useful in understanding the appearance of change, but creates a very complex matrix. This is just meant to be a useful sort of rubric for beginning the consideration about one's own model of causality. I hope you find it entertaining at least.


Causality (Aristotle)

Ask yourself, how do things happen? If I am imagining something coming about, or someone “getting something done,” how do I think this works? These are questions about agency and causality and are related to any theory of change we may have. So how do you think things are caused? Most people involved in commerce and business, or living in the current modern paradigm would answer the question about causality by talking about cause and effect. This probably seems so obvious to you that it may not be a meaningful statement. “Of course if we speak of causality and how things come about we are speaking of ‘cause and effect’.” This way of thinking about causality is so deeply ingrained in our thinking that we don’t typically notice that it is a way of thinking about causality and change, rather than a description causality or change itself. Essentially we have a belief that something happens because we do something, or because some observable causal action takes place that creates some observable, measurable effect. If we think about causing something, we are usually thinking about if x, then y. We are thinking about only the active means as causal in the matter. This type of if x, then y causality was called by Aristotle, efficient cause. It represents the means by which something is brought about through action.

For the ancient Greeks there were four distinct types of cause. We have collapsed this set of distinctions down into one. This 'reductionism' is consistent with the kind of objective materialism of today and efficient cause can initially seem the cause most closely related to and appropriate to a subject-object orientation in the world, the purpose of which is the manipulation of objects. For something to be at the effect of something else usually implies some degree of objectification. Consider being at the effect of your circumstances. This can seem a situation in which you have lost control. Now consider causing something to happen in this sense of taking specific action that produce some desired effect that you relate to as an outcome, or contributor to an outcome. What do you notice about this?

Notes on the Industrial Era

The following is from an open letter that I wrote to Humberto Maturana a couple of years ago. Some of my views have developed and changed since that time, but the letter still captures a lot of the basic things I am thinking about.
Heinrich Kley

Excerpted from an open letter to Humberto Maturana:

Several years ago he (Adi Da) wrote a couple of ‘public’ books about this moment in human history and happening (“Not-Two Is Peace” and “Reality-Humanity”). In these essays he suggests several things about living together on the planet in this emergent moment. He defines the ‘anthroposphere’ as the right domain of human responsibility. He suggests that all systems are self-balancing and self rightening and that the current institutions of humanity are preventing this self-balancing nature of systems. This seems to imply, as you have also said, a particular relationship between the anthroposphere and biosphere. One of the things I conclude from this is that the natural systems of the biosphere will continue to work to self-balance and that this activity will even escalate in a way commensurate with the degree of institutionalized prevention from human institution and activity. We are likely to experience this as increased volatility and escalating crisis, with decreasing delay loops. This seems to me good news and bad news. On the one had it means escalating series of crises, even to the extent of tearing the social fabrics of the anthroposphere. On the other hand the decrease in delay loops and increased ‘self-evident’ quality of the crises as such, may make evident to a critical mass of the human population the systemic nature of all this.

I no longer work with corporations much because the heart of the conversation and action in my own life has to do with considering the implications of the industrial era and the anthropocenic era, and I have found that this is increasingly difficult to do in organizations that are themselves self-identifying with the industrial era. (This difficulty is no doubt intimately linked to my own lack of mastery and particular approach to such questions as I am sure will be amply demonstrated by this writing.) I feel that the industrial era is over and that the institutions and epistemologies of this era are collapsing rapidly. My understanding of the anthropocenic is that humanity as a whole is acting (unconsciously) at the same scale as the systems of the biosphere and indeed, at the same scale as the biosphere itself. This brings up the question of systemic resilience. I have been talking with major corporations about this for about ten years and the conversation has gotten very explicit in the past several years. Recently I have been discussing several things with organizations and individuals willing to talk together:

The industrial era is over.
The industrial era can be understood as:

The Burning Building

I sometimes have the great privilege of working with youth leaders around the world. Prior to the COP15 Climate talks many of them were feeling disillusioned so I wrote this piece for them. I myself am not sure what to make of the Cancun talks. I frankly do not understand how the talks could both produce aid for adaptation of island nations and still not produce a meaningful result in terms of mitigation, before mitigation becomes militarized. Transcripts of the Copenhagen and Cancun talks reveal that leaders from the island nations have a very distinctive voice, which has apparently been heard, but only responded to in the most myopic fashion. My Chinese colleagues edited this and used it in a Chinese publication. Their version was better, but I cannot find it. In general, I am going to spend some time posting things I have already written while I create new posts.

J.M.W. Turner

The Burning Building
Among world leaders there is no longer an actual debate about climate change. It is clear that the CO2 molecule traps heat. It is clear that there is more CO2 in the atmosphere than at anytime in the past 50,000 years and the gross amount and rate of emissions are both growing. World leaders also recognize that we, humankind, are, if not the cause, at least a major contributor to this condition.

This is all well known and socialized. None of this is actually a debate among leaders. World leaders are now in a negotiation about it. In that negotiation it is strategic to assume certain positions, some of which are even counter to factual conditions. This is true for many corporate leaders in multi-nationals as well. They know we need to do something about climate change, but strategically, cannot say so publicly. Or conversely, they say something about this publicly and strategically, but are not engaged in really meaningful activity about it.

Consider the nature of the negotiation. It is simple. Who will bear the cost of the changes we must make? Who will own and reap the benefits of the solutions we must create? If this seems crazy to you, you are not crazy. Imagine it this way. There is a diverse set of people in a burning building. They all know the building is burning, but it seems to be burning slowly. They can see the smoke. Occasionally a wall collapses on some of the people, but they are not yet be consumed by the flame itself in any way they collectively notice. In some parts of the house people are more vulnerable and effected than others. I am sure the analogy is clear.

transition and transgression

In great part I have started this blog based on having posted the following text elsewhere. My kind friends kindly suggested that I might wish to start my own blog... The reasons for their kind suggestions are probably self evident to any reader.

Please consider all of the following remarks, and all my remarks in general 'qualified' in a wide variety of ways, including the implicitly read 'in my model' embedded within each sentence. Also, I consider this an asynchronous blog and therefore assume that anyone reading this has chosen to do so and could certainly cease, or abstain from doing so at any moment.

I have several working assumptions about change and the supposed process of change. At least it seems so to me today.
  • Change is already always occurring, except with reference to the whole itself, in or as a function of which some change can be considered to be occurring.

  • There is an 'absolute' version of such a whole, but it is not sensible in a 'normal' way and cannot be constructed from what seem to be its parts, because such a whole does not actually have parts, per se. Such a whole can perhaps be intuited.

  • We actively define, construct, and enact conditional 'wholes' that are not naturally given, but are part of the larger whole (or we participate in such)

  • Such an enactment gives us the impression of change as something that happens with respect to something that is not changing, but this is a false impression, in most cases

  • Our thoughts, actions, behaviors, emotions are a result of participation in the definition, construction and enactment of these apparent (not actual) points of stability (paradigms, mental models, social constructs, habits, patterns and the sources of patterns- patterns patterning)

  • Sadly this may mean that change is also not occurring, except as a function of our own construction and enactment - this possibility may have many interesting consequences in terms of managing what we experience as conditional change. It also means that in a functional sense that seeing our part in this construction and the act of pattern recognition become important.