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Psychoactive engagement


System Dynamics, Hypercycles and Psychosocial Self-organization (Part #7)


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More intriguing is the assumption that the desirable global map is something to be "looked at" rather than being a new kind of psychoactive medium through which people can engage and by which they can be engaged. Steps in this direction are evident in the technology of situation rooms and in the experimental, scientific immersion environment of Allosphere (Topology of Valuing: psychodynamics of collective engagement with polyhedral value configurations, 2008). A case can be made for the dramatically increasing role of interactive video games as a collective transformation towards an engaging, interactive map of relevance to governance (Playfully Changing the Prevailing Climate of Opinion: climate change as focal metaphor of effective global governance, 2005).

It is not recognized how much is built into assumptions about the appropriatness of the flat surface on which the text of the above reports are all written. By contrast, a torus holds an interesting position in the discussion of the relationship between form and medium as fundamental to advanced theories of communication. This notably featured in the work of Niklas Luhmann (Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft, 1997) as discussed by Michael Schiltz (Form and Medium: a mathematical reconstruction, Image [&] Narrative, 6, 2003) in relation to the calculus of indications of George Spencer-Brown (Laws of Form, 1969/1994). Schiltz notes that form/medium is "the image for systemic connectivity and concatenation", as described by Humberto Maturana and Francesco Varela. He further notes, that the notion of "space" is the key to reflexivity appropriate to any discussion of form and medium, citing Spencer-Brown (see discussion in Comprehension of Requisite Variety for Sustainable Psychosocial Dynamics, 2006).

Such considerations highlight the merit of embodying psychological processes in understandings of the governance challenges sustainability (Psychology of Sustainability: embodying cyclic environmental processes, 2002). There is indeed a literature associating consideration of hypercycles with sustainability, various referring to information/knowledge management, and notably by authors of Chinese origin:

  • Na Wang, Wenyi Zhang Xiaofang Wang and Lu Liu. A Research on Dissipative Structure of the Information Resource Organization of E-Government (IFIP International Federation for Information Processing, 2008): This article starts with the basic assumption of the government information hyper-cycle system consisting of e-government and its object system, depicts the dissipative structure of government information resource organization through introducing superior-rank operator and lower-rank operator in algebra system, and explores actively the self-organized, extensible and universal government information resource organization pattern based on hyper-cycle (PBHC) systematic plan.
  • Wolf Dieter Grossmann. Realising sustainable development with the information society: the holistic Double Gain-Link approach (Landscape and Urban Planning, 2000)
  • Lothar Mayer. Designing an Economy with Built-in Sustainability (Feasta Review, 1). This discusses how the capital/resources feedback loop turns into a hypercycle through being linked to human needs: The (human!) agents of the system who, from their own experience, know intimately the psychological profile of its customers have the capacity to invent a never-ending stream of new needs and wants. Moreover in a mature capitalist society there is a positive feedback loop connecting, on the one side, the gratification of essential human needs (for love, support and identity) with material satisfiers (impressive homes, cars, TV, clothes) and, on the other side, the deficits and needs that are created and sustained in the process. The cycle thus established displays classic features of addiction, maintaining and feeding on itself. The coldness of economic relationships creates an overwhelming craving for warmth - to which industry responds by offering an abundance of products promising to fulfil this need.
  • Xu Xusong and Zeng Xuegong. Disorder-Order Theory of Complexity Science Management (Wireless Communications, Networking and Mobile Computing, 2008) offering a general model for organization innovation and organization evolution is depicted based on the theory of disorder-order.
  • Mario Giampietro and Gianni Pastore. Biophysical roots of 'enjoyment of life' (In: Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, et al. Bioeconomics and sustainability, 1999) discuss the structure of exosomatic emergy flows in society in terms of an autocatalytic look indicating the possibility of using energy inputs converted outside the human body in a way that dramatically amplifies the amount of energy used by society. The associated hypercycle generates a surplus that can be considered a "disposable energy income" for society.
  • Zhang Zeqiang and Cheng Wenming. Reverse Logistics and the Forming of Circular Economy Hypercycle Structure (Science Innovation Academic Frontier, 2010) introduce their study with the acknowledgement that in recent years, a broad and worldwide consensus has been reached on the great importance of striving for sustainable development. The traditional industry, characteristic with high investment, high consumption and high pollution, cannot satisfy the demands of sustainable development. Due to the rapid economic development and the relatively limited resources, China has identified the establishment of circular economy as one of key strategies for implementing sustainable development. Reverse logistics plays the key role in the realization of the circular economy. Reverse logistics is the driven force of the forming of circular economy hypercycle structure. They The authors propose, from the view of hypercycle theory, the forming of circular economy hypercycle structure and the effect of reverse logistics in several different level cycle. They conclude that reverse logistics is the driving force in forming of the structure.

Missing from this literature, however, would seem to be the psychological dimension so intimately encoded by the hexagrams of the I Ching as a feature of change, decision-making and credibility. Given hypercycle arguments with respect to molecular biology, is the hypercycle to be understood in some way as the essence of life and living? The elusive quality of this comprehension, so directly and fundamentally accessible, is indicative of the challenge of sustainability.

To what extent is achievement of sustainability dependent on cognitive engagement with a hypercycle intrinsic to comprehension of a sense of identity of  higher order? A potentially valuable metaphor is to be found in the art of sustainable breathing in the playing of the didgeridoo and other such instruments.


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