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Polyhedral coherence of sustaining narratives


Towards Polyhedral Global Governance: complexifying oversimplistic strategic metaphors (Part #13)


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Whether or not mnemonic use is made of pantheons, astrology or games, there is a case for exploring each of the polyhedra as a distinct "system" (in Buckminster Fuller's terms). Each polyhedron may be understood as a network of narratives or "lines" of argument that together sustain the "points" that distinguish the cognitive operation (and area of discourse) with which they are associated.

"Nets" of the faces of 12 Archimedean solids
Upper row from octahedron, lower from icosahedron (from Keith Critchlow, Order in Space, 1969)
Nets of the faces of 12 Archimedean solids
Nets of the faces of 12 Archimedean solids

As noted above such mapping onto a polyhedron was done in relation to the issues of the Earth Summit (Strategic ecosystem: configuring strategic dilemmas in intersectoral dialogue, 1992). In principle the enabling discourse of each individual Specialized Agency could be mapped onto one such polyhedron as a form of coherent visual index (with hypertext links) to its structural features and dynamics -- as illustrated above. Together they are indicative of the challenge and potential of what might be termed the "songlines of the noosphere" (From Information Highways to Songlines of the Noosphere: global configuration of hypertext pathways as a prerequisite for meaningful collective transformation, 1996). More specifically they are indicative of configurations of peer-to-peer links in peer-to-peer networks that the P2P Foundation seeks to enable.

Whilst this can be done as an exercise in systems analysis, it could also be undertaken as an exercise in mapping sustaining narratives. This would be especially interesting in the case of traditional bodies of knowledge in the form of comprehensive sets of wisdom stories (Jataka Tales, Nasreddin Tales, etc). As cultural resources, recognized as a source of insight to be called upon in elaborating appropriate attitudes and responses to challenges, they merit attention given the respect in which they are widely held -- in comparison with many conventional tools for global governance.

The challenge would then be how any correspondence might be found between analytical approaches to governance and such traditional tools of governance (Theories of Correspondences -- and potential equivalences between them in correlative thinking, 2007).

Given the challenge of a "global identique", this approach relates to the challenge of identity in a multicultural context, as explored by Núria Gorgorió and Núria Planas (Cultural distance and identities-inconstruction within the multicultural mathematics classroom, ZDM, 2005, 37, 2) who note:

  • However, we consider any classroom to be a multicultural one, since we understand the student's culture as something polyhedral, having many facets, of which we, teachers and researchers, can only see some.
  • There should be room in classroom discourse for negotiation of meanings and cultural interaction in order to build up, as a joint construction, the classroom culture. In this way, the classroom culture, which is one of the factors that contribute to shaping individuals' polyhedral identities, could include all and every individual, minimising or avoiding cultural distance through negotiation of conflict.

It is interesting to reflect on the communication "footprint" or "signature" by which each of the above polyhedral structures might be distinguished in light of the development of the "net" of polygons of which each is constituted. It suggests a notion of "valency" (vertices?), or "channel capacity" (sides?) characteristic of each -- perhaps even an alternative configuration of a negotiating table. Such characteristics may exert constraints on the viability of the cognitive sets that can be formulated, and on the complexity of multi-point policies these might then be able to sustain (cf Representation, Comprehension and Communication of Sets: the Role of Number, 1978).

Such geometrical explorations are of course a focus of "sacred geometry" (Robert Lawlor, Sacred Geometry: Philosophy and Practice, 1989) . It is perhaps useful to consider that the sense of the "sacredness" (and "holiness") of such geometry may be associated in large part with a sense of its capacity (as "wholiness") to carry communications of a higher order of integrative complexity (cf Russell Chu. An Introduction to Synergetic Crystallography 1998). Such possibilities are notably of relevance in conference communication (cf Energy Patterns in Conferences: a context for higher levels of integration, 1988) and the organization of the emergent semantic web (cf Sacralization of Hyperlink Geometry, 1997).


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