Psychosocial Learnings from the Spiral Form of Hurricanes


Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens – TRANSCEND Media Service

Implications of the triple helix and the 3-fold triskelion as “cognitive cyclones”?


25 Sep 2017 – The potential value at this time of transforming traditional 2D symbols into 3D can be fruitfully explored (Cognitive Implications in 3D of Triadic Symbols Valued in 2D: representations of the triskelion in virtual reality and implications for quantum consciousness, 2017). Composed as it is of three interweaving Archimedean spirals, the triskelion (triskele) could well be recognized as topologically equivalent to a triple helix. That argument noted the widespread interest in the Triple Helix model and the pattern of international conferences of the Triple Helix Association since 1996. These seek to promote all aspects of the interaction between academy-industry-government in fostering research, innovation, economic competitiveness and growth.

As described by the Triple Helix Research Group of Stanford University, the Triple Helix thesis is that the potential for innovation and economic development in a knowledge society lies in a more prominent role for the university and in the hybridisation of elements from university, industry and government to generate new institutional and social formats for the production, transfer and application of knowledge. (The Triple Helix Concept; publications). The approach is being extended to a Quadruple Helix on the understanding that sustainable development of a knowledge economy requires coevolution with the knowledge society. A further extension has been proposed to a Quintuple Helix model seen to be of relevance to the challenge of global warming.

In highlighting the importance of triadic thinking, the earlier paper implied a degree of topological equivalence between the triskelion and the triple helix as a consequence of transformation in 3D. Various forms of the triskelion pattern have been valued as of fundamental significance over millennia. However there appears to be little recognition of the psychosocial implications of any triple helix, other than as a particular form of innovation remarkably distinct from that associated with social revolutions and paradigm shifts — perhaps readily described as “cognitive cyclones”. It is in this sense that a degree of equivalence can be recognized with the spiral form of powerful hurricanes — understood in cognitive terms as inexorable “winds of change“.

Such an association can be recognized in the light of the disruptive impact of the recent succession of hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, Maria) which have called into question the assumptions of human dominance over nature in the face of climate change. As a “wind of change” in his own right, these have inspired reference by commentators to President Trump as “Hurricane Trump” (Hurricane Trump, The New York Times, 23 September 2017; Dealing With Hurricane Trump, Politico Magazine, 4 September 2017; Hurricane Trump makes landfall in Manhattan, The Japan Times, 20 September 2017; Hurricane Trump and America’s Road to Nowhere: how did we get here? Salon, 2 September 2017; The Destruction Left By Hurricane Trump,, 29 August 2017 The Daily 202: Is Hurricane Trump a Category One, a Category Five or something in between? The Washington Post, 11 October 2016).

Much is known about the structure and dynamics of hurricanes. Much is also known about the helical structure of DNA and of spirals in general. The question is how such insight might be related to the intuited significance of the triadic triskelion and how it might be employed to enrich the very particular institutional preoccupations promoted under the banner of the Triple Helix model and its extensions. The relevance of the latter to the radical nature of current global challenges would seem to be somewhat questionable — despite the claimed potential.

Whilst the symbolic significance of the triskelion is elusive (however enduring), the current institutional concern with the Triple Helix (whatever its potential) does not seem to reflect the complexity and fundamental role of DNA — whether double-stranded or triple-stranded. Neither would seem to be offering the power so obviously evident in hurricanes. The psychosocial difficulties are evident in the manner in which widespread binary thinking undermines all too readily most current efforts towards fruitful triadic thinking — especially in a surreal context characterized by fake news of every kind. The verbal exchanges between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un regarding North Korea are but one dramatic example, with those between Alt-Right and Alt-Left in the USA offering another. Both risk engendering violence.

In the language of cybernetics and control systems, is this a case for recognizing the need for requisite complexity appropriate to global governance challenged by a variety of “cognitive vortices”? These call into question the rational modalities of the linear thinking on which viable uptake of innovative models is so dependent.

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