Unquestioned Bias in Governance from Direction of Reading?
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 23 May 2016
Political Implications of Reading from Left-to-Right, Right-to-Left, or Top-Down
The text on which much global governance is primarily dependent is written from left-to-write (top-down), following the pattern determined in the Greece from which democracy emerged. Text is written otherwise in other cultures, notably in Arabic and Hebrew (right-to-left), or in cultures of the East (vertically, whether left-to-right, or right-to-left).
Given the implications of “left” and “right” in politics, there is a case for exploring whether the direction of writing locks thinking into a particular mode which is restrictive in a period when there is a need for strategic nimbleness in navigating the adaptive cycle. Is governance constrained by negligence of the global scope of what might be implied by the French term grille de lecture?
This argument is a development of an earlier exploration of directionality in reading musical scores, in the light of the possible significance of musical palindromes and reversing the directions of performance of a composition (Reversing the Anthem of Europe to Signal Distress: transcending crises of governance via reverse music and reverse speech? 2016).
It is noteworthy that major tensions in global governance are currently evident between those cultures with a preference for reading text differently — namely from left-to-right or from right-to-left, to say nothing of those which have a preference for reading texts vertically (whether top-down, or even bottom-up). The issue is whether these preferences derive from particular cognitive biases as yet to be fruitfully explored, as might be suggested by the much-cited work of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (Metaphors We Live By, 1980).
The question here is whether there is a case for an understanding of “post-chiral governance” within which such preferences could variously manifest as appropriate, if not as constituting requisite variety in cybernetic terms. The absence of any language enabling bottom-up reading is noted as being of particular relevance in a period challenged by populist pressures and recognition of its necessity from a management perspective.
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