Variety of System Failures Engendered by Negligent Distinctions


Anthony Judge – TRANSCEND Media Service

Mnemonic Clues to 72 Modes of Viable System Failure from a Demonic Pattern Language


Global civilization is currently witness to a variety of systemic failures — and the recognized potential for more. There is an evident degree of incapacity to encompass their nature, whether or not efforts are made to frame them in terms of a global problematique, or the possibility of a global resolutique (as originally proposed by the Club of Rome) — or by more recent recognition of the nature of so-called wicked problems.

With respect to the dangers of the current destabilization in the Middle East, one aspect of the challenge lies in the consequences of the arbitrary nature of territorial boundaries, as fruitfully outlined by Baron Meghnad Desai (After Paris: Long Cycles in Politics and History, The Globalist, 16 November 2015). His analysis focuses on the secret Asia Minor Agreement of 1916 (otherwise known as the Sykes–Picot Agreement), arguing that the world still awaits a resolution to the end of the Ottoman Empire, Caliphate or not. The systemically negligent definition in that case is more generally evident as a form of “conceptual gerrymandering”. The major problems of today may indeed derive from the unexamined consequences of negligent distinctions in the past, embodied in authoritative assumptions of the present, as separately explored (Vigorous Application of Derivative Thinking to Derivative Problems, 2013).

Another aspect is the challenge to comprehension of global systemic complexity. It is increasingly difficult to render the complexities of governance comprehensible, whether in the formulation of policy, to decision makers, to the media, or to those from whom a mandate for new initiatives is expected. The probable ungovernability of global civilization is a matter meriting attention, despite assumptions to the contrary (Ungovernability of Sustainable Global Democracy? 2011).

Yet another aspect is to be recognized in the disassociation of many from conventional approaches to governance, whether this takes the form of voter apathy, violent protest, absorption in a variety of distractants (computer-mediated communication, games, the use of narcotic substances, and the like). These variously cultivate imaginative reframing of conventional reality, notably renewing the engagement with fantasy and myth — and the irrational — most notably through science fiction and video-gaming.

Especially intriguing in the latter case is fascination with the demonic. This is strangely matched by authoritative condemnation of alternatives to conventional initiatives as implying a demonic inspiration. Such demonisation, of one kind or another, is a common response to any disagreement with preferred modalities — most notably reinforced by religion. Curiously however it is the attention to mythical demonology, cultivated in some widespread forms of video-gaming (as with Dungeons and Dragons), which suggests a potentially fruitful means of encompassing systemic failures in their totality and of engaging with them otherwise.

This possibility arises from a fourth aspect of the challenge, namely the characteristically unmemorable articulation of systemic issues. The global comprehension challenged by systemic complexity calls for radically new approaches to handling dynamic patterns of information. These are typically beyond the capacity of fragmented individual disciplines and other specialized modalities. The unprecedented investment in global information systems and information retrieval does remarkably little to enable integrated global comprehension, despite assumptions and claims to the contrary.

The following exploration combines issues arising from the definition of arbitrary system boundaries — whether across physical, virtual or cognitive territory — with the mnemonic facilities associated with patterns of demons. The primary focus is therefore on comprehension of system dynamics which typically elude conventional linear approaches to reality — to the point of necessitating some engagement with hyperreality, however that may be understood, as previously discussed (Reality and Existence of Complex Abstractions, 2014). Recognized in chaotic system terms, the problems of governance then suggest their more widespread and comprehensible representation as “demons”.

These are effectively creatures of a multidimensional hyperreality, namely the “faces of chaos” — insofar as it can be recognized. However the experiential nature of such entities is also to be recognized in the common use of “our demons” or “my demons” with respect to engaging with life’s challenges, and especially its dangerous temptations and the vicious cycles with which they may be associated. Such phrases feature widely in popular lyrics through which their existence is acknowledged. The terms are consistent with reference in the policy sciences to so-called wicked problems, but unfortunately without any comprehensive effort to encompass them in memorable song.

Such demonic personalization usefully frames a sense of individual and collective “disease”, more formally framed as sociopathology (Cognitive Implications of Lifestyle Diseases of Rich and Poor Transforming personal entanglement with the natural environment, 2010). It also frames the existential vulnerability to potential mortality (Metaphors To Die By: correspondences between a collapsing civilization, culture or group, and a dying person, 2013).

Conventionally framed as a focus of concern, the unmemorable problematique, is thus reframed here as what might be termed a “demonique” — extending the jargon promoted by the Club of Rome, as previously suggested (Evil Loops and Sigils as a Pattern Language, 2015). An earlier articulation of such an elaboration was framed in terms of the requisite fourfold complementarity between problematique, resolutique, imaginatique and irresolutique, understood as a pattern of perpetual game-playing (In Quest of Mnemonic Catalysts for Comprehension of Complex Psychosocial Dynamics, 2007). It is noteworthy that little attention has been accorded to the Club’s original advocacy of “resolutique” as articulated by Alexander King and Bertrand Schneider (The First Global Revolution, 1992).

The focus here on widespread comprehension, and on the memorability of potential system failure, contrasts with the distinctive abstractions offered in a variety of specialized models — for which comprehensibility and widespread uptake are not significant factors. It anchors preoccupation with problematic complexity in the comprehensible dynamics cultivated in traditional folklore and myth — from which it has been unfortunately disassociated. The uncritical deprecation of such traditional insights is an instance of a wider concern (Societal Learning and the Erosion of Collective Memory, 1980).

The widespread current enthusiasm for demonisation, and the credibility it engenders — even at the highest levels of politics and governance — was noted previously (Encyclopedia of Evil Claims, Claimants, Counter-claims, and Sigils, 2016). There is therefore a case for the following exploration of the advantages to be gained from the systemic demonisation of problems“, as suggested by the traditional set of 72 demons indicated there.

There is however the strange irony that traditionally the discipline of demonology encompasses contrasting entities of equally elusive higher dimensionality, otherwise termed “angels”. These also engender widespread popular belief, potentially to be associated with a resolutique. How demonisation might then be matched by an “evangelisation of solutions” is of course a feature of the controversial dynamics of end times scenarios — fundamental to some framings of the immediate future of global civilization. Appropriate to this exploration is the matching set of 72 angels and the virtues with which they are associated.

Given the surreal nature of the dynamics of current global governance, the transcendent engagement with hyperreality — through the “demonique” and the “angelique” — is developed in a second document, notably highlighting the possibility of deriving insights from visualization of hyperbolic tessellation.

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