Chaos Theory

Saturday, 24 September 2011

I love science.  We live in the most incredible time.  It feels like some sort of bizarre cosmic coincidence to me that so much is being discovered in this age that I want to learn about, and yet I'm so bloody information overloaded I could miss the most amazing things right under my nose.

Erin told me in an email exchange this morning that apparently they have discovered a neutrino that moves faster than the speed of light.  This has ramifications for the theory of relativity that I would like to have a month to sit down and solidly read all about - starting with learning what the hell a neutrino is - and then to ponder it, to turn it about in the sun, and see what it looks like in the dark, or when it's raining.  To see how different that makes the world feel.

Learning and understand more about science is an ongoing quest for me, because it's gotten bloody interesting.  What they've discovered over the past decades ... how it's so anarchic on that subatomic layer, that excites me in my guts.  But I can't hold together what I learn about subatomic layers and quarks and neutrinos.  It falls apart when I try to rearticulate it to myself, let alone anyone else.  And so I have to come back to it again next time.  And so I enter in the door again, learn and feel a little spun-out, and come out of it with nothing but a sense of wonder and a complete, utter inability to feed it all back.  It's like dream language.  It's a kick to my intellect but it's a buzz to my creativity.

I hate rigid systems that kill people's souls.  I'm very glad that the world we live on is proving to be anything but.

I decided earlier on that I would go and look up a little more about chaos theory ('cause this is what I do when I've got a spare five minutes, then I wonder why I feel informationally-overloaded).  I like this description here:

After nearly two decades now of work by Chaoticians made up of the leading scientists and mathematicians in a wide variety of fields, the evidence is overwhelming. The world is not a gigantic clock where everything happens in an ordered and predictable manner.The real world is fundamentally disordered, free. Chaos reigns over predictability.Simple, linear systems which are causal and predictable are the exception in the Universe, not the rule. Most of the Universe works in jumps, in anon-linear fashion that can not be exactly predicted. It is infinitely complex.Freedom and free will - the Strange Attractors - prevail over rules and determinacy.
Yet Chaos is no enemy and destroyer of Cosmos, for from out of Chaos a higher order always appears,but this order comes spontaneously and unpredictably. It is "self-organized." The creation of the Universe is an ongoing process, not just a one time event at the beginning. All and everything - and everyone - is part of this creative process. Over time all systems - from molecules, to life, to galactic clusters- are continually creating new organizations and patterns from out of featureless and chaos. The world is not a Clock, it is a Game, a Game of Chance and Choice. In the game random processes - chance and serendipity - allow room for free will, individuality and unpredictable creativity.

There is something about this chaos theory that reminds me of what it is that frustrates me when I look at how so many organisations operate with their employees.  I talk about this quite a lot on this blog.  It seems to apparent to me, but I find it hard to articulate what is so apparent.  I feel that the way business run shoots them in their own feet.  Ultimately it comes down to a control issue.  Because I think that humans operate best on a self-organised basis as well.  We need to have freedom to work spontaneously and unpredictably.  Or at least I do.

An organisation puts rules in place to keep it functioning effectively.  But those rules hamper and hinder and constrain because the people operating under them are not free.  For the rules to work properly, people would have to have enough internal freedom to be able to know WHY the rules are, their context, their meaning, what they're wanting to make happen by their existence rather than simply a punitive sort of a stick put there that will beat people who don't conform to them.  Then, if there are free people who understand the meaning of the rules, they still have to be not so rebellious as to be unable to function under the rules (my problem).  They have to be able to stand up under the rules so that they don't stop thinking, and using their nous and their consciences.  So that the rules don't make them feel claustrophobic so that it feels their personal turning circles are taken away from them (my problem), but that they point their thoughts in the right direction so that they can come to these conclusions themselves.

How does all of that work, though, when you are an employee at someone else's employment?  Even if you don't balk at being a cog in someone else's wheel, a chaos theory business would need to have a low fear level and a high willngness to make mistakes.  And I've never seen that in any organisation I've ever worked for in my life because they all by nature become conservative and boring.  Which is understandable.  People who start businesses are so invested, the business is so much of a reflection of themselves, that to let go, to let it fly off and be self-organised, is too dangerous.  Especially because you know that if you give that much freedom to employees, they will abuse the system.

But I've always liked that biblical suggestion to farmers that when harvesting their fields, to make sure they leave some for the gleaners to follow, those people who are poor and hungry.  I think that those who abuse the system are poor and hungry too.  Space should be allowed for people to fuck themselves up.  Because what is lost through those people is gained in the freedom of employees who have space to be individuals within a communal culture.  The right and the left combined.

But all that's pipe dreams, really, because I don't think I'm ever going to be able to find a company to work for that doesn't make my throat tighten with its rigidity.  Maybe some day I'm gonna have to do it myself.   Get me a co-op.  And a good idea.  Or maybe if someone publishes one of the four pieces of writing I've got out there waiting for a home, that'd be a start :)  In the meantime, I guess I'll just keep me and my rebellion here at home, typing transcription, dreaming about how it could all be so much better :)


  1. OK, Sue, this is probably my fave subject. Apart from cooked breakfasts, that is. I could bore a small multitude talking about it. I might just point out that the speedy neutrinos haven't been confirmed yet - - but it's still pretty cool:)

    'Chaos' is really just a word we use for 'something we can't measure or pin down'. I love the infinite possibilities contained in quantum ideas, the wildness of it. A physicist once said, "...something unknown is doing something we haven't the faintest idea about..." (or words to that effect)

    What I love about this is that science - left brain - and spirit - right brain - are being reunited after a long separation. They're actually saying the same things. We're becoming unified beings, evolving consciously.

    Your idea about bringing this into the business world will require a paradigm shift, away from 'bosses and workers', with all the control and confrontation implicit in that, to one of co-operation. We need to stop telling ourselves stories about the way Life works, and let Life do its stuff:)

  2. It seems the universe is self-organizing in the interest of preservation and evolution - even if it begins as chaos, or even if chaos is a part of the process, it will eventually organize. Even if we look at our solar wasn't always this neat little system of 9 or so planets orbiting a star in an orderly took half of forever to get there, but organize it did!

    Take a business, for instance, that begins with the best of intentions of being loosely structured and providing a lot of employee freedoms. Either the business will fail, due to some employee's own abuse of that freedom, or just due to too much lack of a centric focus or vision...or the business will succeed, but will increasingly organize in order to preserve that success and so the success can increase. Rarely is there a business venture that is able to remain loose and free-flowing AND remain successful and grow/evolve. I'm sure it's been done, but not often. The same is true with natural selection or so many other kinds of things. Even with the evolution of humanity, our instinct always has been to increasingly "circle the wagons", to increasingly gather together and organize and structure ourselves in order to preserve what we have built so far. Sometimes this worries me about the future. 

  3. LOVE that quote from that physicist.  Awesome :)

    I love it too, Harry.  Left and right coming together again.  Although it's hard to face because I think there is destruction in it, too. But many of our spiritual writings of the past couple of millennia note this too - the life/death/life cycle.  Everything ends.  But yet ... it feels like nothing ends ultimately.  And I know that's how you feel about it too :)

  4. "...  even if chaos is a part of the process, it will eventually organize."  Yeah, it's hard to look at the chaos and not freak out though.  

    Yeah, I worry about that too, the "circling of the wagons".  We have to stay open, we just have to.  So many wise people who have come before us know this, and I feel it too, and I know you do too.  Instinct causes you to want to close down with fear but we have to open up instead.  

    There's a life's work just there, eh :)

  5. It just seems like we are circling those wagons closer and closer...and there is something unsettling in that. I mean the whole internet, connectedness, big brother kinda we're all drawing TOO close to one another. Think back to when you were 18...could you even IMAGINE having a device in the palm of your hand that is connected to the greatest wealth of information that ever existed, you are able to reach anyone you know in an instant, you are simply "connected" to everyone and every thing at every moment. I am both in awe of this and somewhat wary of it. And I have know idea if you own a mobile phone or if it is one that has internet, but the reality is you *could* even if you don't. And when I think back to when I was 18, there was no way to even conceive of the internet, much less this kind of mobile capability.

    And don't get me wrong, I LOVE that I am now connected to so many people like you all over the world due to this technology, and I don't necessarily have any problem with it form a paranoid perspective, but I just wonder what all this instant connectedness robs us of in our humanity? And where do we go from here? Will our great-grandchildren have brain implants that do what our mobile phone do now? How close are we to the Borg? How connected is TOO connected? Where will the individual end and the collective begin?

  6. Yeah, I wonder about that too - how does the 18 year old know what it feels like to really REALLY be by yourself, to be able to hear things you might be whispering to yourself.  That stuff gets drowned out in the constant round of instant connectedness.  What sort of a relationship with yourself are you going to be able to have in such a world?  That worries me.

    Interesting thoughts.  I am concerned about those things too.  The individual and the collective, both as strong as each other - that's the only way it would work.

  7. Yes, Sue, I don't see anything as being 'destroyed', but as Life evolving in what we call the birth-death cycle. Both birth and death are merely transition points where Life takes on another form, always moving forward. And every 'birth' is the 'death' of a way of experiencing reality... And birth is a very painful thing, for both 'child' and 'mother'... and we're not separate beings anyway - that's just how it appears - but unique, glorious, totally connected expressions of Being.

    It was Arthur Eddington, who empirically demonstrated one proof of Relativity Theory, who said that, but several other physicists of that time and since have made similar comments. I saw a report recently which seemed to indicate that a large majority of scientists have no trouble reconciling their work with spiritual concepts. In many other ways too, it's all coming together, and another death/birth is happening, with the inevitable disruption of one paradigm reorganising into another, like the caterpillar and butterfly. Birth pangs and last breaths indistinguishable...

    As the Chinese say, we live in interesting times:)


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