Correlating a Requisite Diversity of Metaphorical Patterns


Anthony Judge – TRANSCEND Media Service

Entuning the Dynamic of Cognitive Eases and Diseases


This is an exploration of a methodological possibility of dynamically interweaving disparate threads which might thereby offer integrative insight. This follows from an earlier discussion (Interweaving Thematic Threads and Learning Pathways, 2010). Threads considered are:

  • hopes and despair in information terms, as characterized by wijdespread depression, disillusion, denigration and denial, and their opposites
  • cyclic patterns eases and diseases, readily modelled by variants of the traditional game of snakes and ladders
  • challenge of polarity in which the significance of information “slithers”, “flips” and “twists” between possible interpretations
  • memorability, mnemonic devices in a time of reduced attention span and information overload
  • comprehensive patterns of metaphors, especially those cultivated by different traditions
  • necessary shift from static to dynamic understanding of patterns
  • potential implications of a rotating positive-negative psychosocial field
  • cognitive implication in formal indications of boundaries and distinctions
  • reflexivity and the relevance of higher orders of cybernetics to the complexities of global governance

The central focus is on the varieties of psychosocial unease and how engagement with them might be more fruitfully articulated through weather as a metaphor — given the extent to which weather metaphors are used to frame social crises. There is a familiarity and coherence to weather which suggests that its patterns may offer ready access to greater experiential insight than is offered by more conventional models. It could be considered extraordinary that a term like “depression” is used to explain both weather and economic phenomena at a time when it is also recognized as an increasingly widespread form of individual unease and personal agony..

The question is whether there is a recognizable pattern of any value to such connectivity — and for whom. The question might itself be framed through a metaphor of animal movement and how it is enabled or constrained in a natural environment. The organization of knowledge is readily compared to trees structures (Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, The Tree of Knowledge: the biological roots of human understanding, 1992). Understood as information silos, what kind of movement between such “trees” is possible and by whom? Clearly some apes can travel easily by swinging from tree to tree. For others movement is constrained to branches of individual trees, with aversion to the risk of going to ground level in order to climb another. For birds there is much less constraint on connectivity. Ground dwellers are faced with different kinds of constraint, notably when faced with water barriers to movement, unless able to swim.

The issue can also be explored through correspondences as enabling cognitive transitions, as clarified separately (Theories of Correspondences — and potential equivalences between them in correlative thinking, 2007). This has been highlighted in the case of so-called moonshine mathematics associated with symmetry group theory — now extended with regard to a mysterious connection between number theory, algebra and string theory (Erica Klarreich, Mathematicians Chase Moonshine’s Shadow, Scientific American, 7 April 2015). In the case of symmetry, this focused on the existence of a mysterious entity called the monster group, a gargantuan algebraic object that, mathematicians believed, captured a new kind of symmetry. The concern here is whether such insights have as yet unexplored psychosocial implications (Potential Psychosocial Significance of Monstrous Moonshine: an exceptional form of symmetry as a Rosetta stone for cognitive frameworks, 2007). The question to be asked is what kinds of connectivity are deprecated using single terrain modalities — in the absence of an all-terrain cognitive vehicle or pentathlon-enabled skills? How does such cultivated inhibition fail those facing despair and a sense of meaninglessness?

Although such incredible complexity could be set aside as unnecessarily abstruse, the need to engage with it is evident in the increasing recognition of so-called wicked problems. These exemplify the challenge of connectivity across multiple conventional domains and knowledge trees. Curiously the point is made by extension of small world theory to the global problematique. Not only is everyone connected to anyone through six intermediaries, but so too are the problems of society (Duncan J. Watts, Six Degrees: the science of a connected age, 2004; Albert-László Barabási, Linked: how everything is connected to everything else and what it means for business, science, and everyday life, 2003). It is in this sense that the insights into “cognitive weather” and “experiential weather” , offered by personal recognition of its complexity, suggest ways of engaging otherwise with any change in the global climate — whether in physical or metaphorical terms.

There is therefore a case for recognizing the exploration of such “cognitive metabolic pathways” as constituting a discipline which might be appropriately named “path-ology” — namely the study of experiential “snakes and ladders” as this may relate to the many forms of unease in a period of questionable public hope-mongering.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 1 Jun 2015.

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