Tao of Engagement — Weaponised Interactions and Beyond
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 31 May 2010
Produced in celebration of the United Nations International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2010) and the ever increasing development, manufacture and sale of arms by Permanent Members of the UN Security Council following the UN Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations (2001)
Fibonacci’s magic carpet of games to be played for sustainable global governance.
This is an exploration of the possibility of providing a common framework for the huge global investment in weaponry — and the binary logic associated with its use — in relation to a variety of other more complex games and non-weaponised modes of interaction. The specific focus is on interrelating the associated “Western” and “Eastern” patterns of interaction and engagement with various existential challenges of “otherness” — with or without metaphorical implications, whether manifesting as games or not. This emphasis follows from the case made in an earlier exploration (Enhancing the Quality of Knowing through Integration of East-West metaphors, 2000).
The relevance here of “Eastern” patterns of thought follows from earlier explorations of binary coding patterns of significance central to classical Chinese texts and games (as mentioned below). A central ordering principle used in what follows is that of the Fibonacci spiral construction, whose strategic relevance was highlighted in a recent paper (Adaptive Hypercycle of Sustainable Psychosocial Self-organization: designing a mapping of a Chinese metaphorical pattern language, 2010). This emphasized the importance and constraints of design in rendering the significance of complex patterns both memorable and credible to those expected to act with their guidance. In highlighting the merit of the classical Chinese insights, the point was made that, in contrast to the primary emphasis on formalism in the “Western” approach to patterns, a specific effort is made within that culture to associate subtle meaning to the features articulated by such formal patterns. It is precisely such meaning that may enable a wider insight into such patterns and the possibility of their use in relation to decision-making.
Game dynamics are fundamental to this exploration because of their importance both to strategic thinking and to recreation, enabling in both cases a degree of engagement with patterns that are beyond immediate comprehension and formalization — therefore introducing degrees of uncertainty both as challenge and playful entertainment. A related concern is accepting the complementarity between logical rigour and stories capable of creatively engaging the imagination, as previously argued (Playfully Changing the Prevailing Climate of Opinion: Climate change as focal metaphor of effective global governance, 2005; Relevance of Mythopoeic Insights to Global Challenges, 2009). The question raised here is whether it is possible to present a framework/story that encompasses the variety of games and strategic approaches — recognizing the bloody central focus of the military-industrial complex on weaponised interactions.
The argument here is that governance, and the strategic challenge of any integrative approach, is essentially a design challenge — variously taking into consideration geometric constraints and possibilities, mnemotechnical issues, and the aesthetics conducive to psychoactive engagement, credibility and communication. Of specific importance is the use of design to enable and enhance comprehension of greater degrees of complexity and subtlety — embodying and interrelating the greatest diversity of cultural associations. The prevailing fragmented approach, reinforced by the variety of disciplines and belief systems, has been widely recognized as undermining any coherent, integrative approach. In a political world governed by image, rather than rationality — and in the absence of any inspiring global epic — the challenge may be fruitfully considered as one of portraying a memorable, succinct narrative respectful, to the extent possible, of formal considerations. The design argument is further developed in a subsequent paper (Designing Global Self-governance for the Future: patterns of dynamic integration of the netherworld, 2010).
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 31 May 2010.
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