a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
I don’t understand the math on it, however, at least one stream of string theory postulates that there are infinite universes all happening now. They don’t say, but I imagine all the universes are operating within the same Eternity. Perhaps there are infinite concurrent eternities, too, and they just haven’t worked out the math on that part yet.
Ernest Everhard would rightly call the foregoing, getting “up in the air.” So, theory aside, I feel like this week the plain truth has clearly been on display: we have two distinct universes defining the political climate of the U.S.A. right now. We’re all looking at the very same thing and yet two nearly mutually exclusive narratives to describe the same facts are being rendered.
I think both groups generally agree on seeing this:
While one group really sees no problem with that, the other group says, ‘No, “everyone” doesn’t,’ and insists on setting the issue in context with this framing:
With the circus in town nearly twenty-four seven three sixty-five these days, the anxiety that flows from the reality-show-presentation of things is completely exhausting. Even if one sees the big picture, it’s not easy to keep it top of mind. The circus provides endless distraction through never-ending proxies for the underlying dynamic tensions. Cable news (of both groups) has monetized the circus and continually presents nearly mutually exclusive narratives to their respective groups. We really must learn to keep our eye on the ball.
One particular ‘underlying dynamic tension’ has been steadily developing since the time of The Enlightenment, so, it is not really generational, it’s cultural—in the sense of competing worldviews. Perhaps it feels generational in our experience right now because it appears the issues are rapidly coming to a head.
Historian Yuval Noah Harari has an interesting way of expressing a dynamic tension underlying our present societal divide. In his book, Sapiens (pdf here), Harari writes:
Another example is the modern political order. Ever since the French Revolution, people throughout the world have gradually come to see both equality and individual freedom as fundamental values. Yet the two values contradict each other. Equality can be ensured only by curtailing the freedoms of those who are better off. Guaranteeing that every individual will be free to do as he wishes inevitably short-changes equality. The entire political history of the world since 1789 can be seen as a series of attempts to reconcile this contradiction.
Anyone who has read a novel by Charles Dickens knows that the liberal-regimes of nineteenth century Europe gave priority to individual freedom even if it meant throwing insolvent poor families in prison and giving orphans little choice but to join schools for pick-pockets. Anyone who has read a novel by Alexander Solzhenitsyn knows how Communism’s egalitarian ideal produced brutal tyrannies that tried to control every aspect of daily life. [164-165]
A nice articulation of the relationship between the upper [individual freedom] and lower [equality] quadrants of our holism mnemonic, and the failure to fairly account for them.
Thinking of the reconciliation difficulty that Harari describes, but in Graves/Spiral Dynamics [G/SD] terms, it’s looking at development in the dynamic tension between ‘individual freedom‘ (Orange [ER] modernist/merit values) and ‘equality‘ (Green [FS] pluralist/justice values). Interesting that the novels Harari enlists are commentaries on the two chief Blue [DQ] expressions of the modernist/rationalist Orange [ER] worldview, e.g., Capitalism and Communism. Harari’s illustration breaks down in that it fails to include post-Orange-informed ‘equality conventions/models.’
Clare Graves, et al., argue that this dynamic tension (along with others) creates what I’m here calling developmental gyrations: a dynamism that affords onward movement of human existence/evolution.
a rapid movement in a circle or spiral; a whirling motion.
Note, a “circle” can represent being trapped in an endless loop. It is the capacity of gyration to “whirl” and “spiral” that allows dynamism to create directional movement.
Skyscrapers are made of steel, concrete, and glass, yet they are designed to flex and move in the dynamic tension created by the building and the wind. If a building quits moving in the wind its systems are in a dangerous bind that risks total systems failure. Present political anxiety reflects the ‘bind’ in the dynamic tension in the relationship between individual freedom and equality values.
Some suggest President Trump is a needed chaotic catalyst. Could Trump be intensifying the gyrations created through the dynamic tensions at play and catalyzing an evolutionary leap?
Above I wrote, “onward movement of human existence/evolution.” Any period in evolutionary history may move human-life forward, or backwards. Are we experiencing the cusp of an advance, or regression, in human evolution? How can we influence the outcome?
—First published September 29, 2019.
5 thoughts on “Gyrations? [reprise]”
Nice quote from Harari, but maybe even better would be to also include consideration of the third leg of “fraternity,” along with liberty and equality, coming out of the French Revolution.
Here is how Edgar Morin explains it:
“What is interesting is that the formula itself is a complex one: the three terms are both complementary and antagonistic. Liberty on its own quashes equality and even fraternity. Once imposed, equality destroys liberty without achieving fraternity. As for fraternity, which cannot be decreed, it must regulate liberty and reduce inequality. It is a value which, in fact, is based on one’s own relationship with the general interest, in other words citizenship in its deepest sense. As soon as the spirit of citizenship crumbles, as soon as we cease to feel responsible for – and united with – those around us, fraternity is done for. These three notions are therefore very important. There are historic moments in which the crucial matter is that of liberty, especially in conflicts of oppression such as under the Occupation in France, and those where the main issue is that of solidarity, as is the case today.”
Thanks for your excellent addition!
I do agree that it’s basically reductionist to invoke liberty and equality sans ‘fraternity.’ Your insight recalled this very powerful passage to my mind:
“The dark green stairwell is full of cigarette ends and small brown puddles of melted snow knocked from boots. The apartment doors are padded for security, which makes them resemble asylum cells. Behind the padded doors are millionaire’s apartments, everyone’s done well in this city of baby-faced billionaires, but especially so on this block, the old Stalin gothic block reserved for party and KGB and diplomatic elite and great actors, the last to profit from the old order and the first to profit from the new one. Yet no one cares to band together and redecorate the stairwells. Care stops at the threshold of your apartment. You lavish and stroke your personal world, but when you reach the public space, you pull on your war face.” —Peter Pomerantsev in “Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia,” pg. 116.