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Engaging with the Inexplicable, the Incomprehensible and the Unexpected

Varieties of incomprehensibility and inexplicability
Incomprehensibility and inexplicability in the wild
Incomprehensibility and inexplicability in urban environments
Challenging incomprehensibility of "terrorist violence"
"Evil" as necessarily incomprehensible and inexplicable
Re-cognizing the cognitive reality of otherness
Challenge to comprehension of more integrative perspectives
Changing status of information and knowledge
Re-cognizing information and communication
Implication for personal engagement with a turbulent knowledge environment
Metaphorical patterns through which to engage with memetic challenges
Metaphors enabling engagement with threatening incomprehensibility
Damanhur: an imaginative experiment in communication
Engaging with the environment: plants, particles, poverty and potential
Cognitive challenge
Global knowledge society vs Global imagination society?
World lines and the navigation of imagination space
Narrative lines of stories and myths
Cognitive wormholes and knots in imagination space
Conclusion: communication for meaningful change

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In celebration of the United Nations International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures
and the International Year of Biodiversity


Many experiences are now readily labelled "inexplicable" or "incomprehensible", whether in personal life or in relations between groups and nations. Such a label, perhaps associated with a sense of "injustice", is notably used in the case of accidents, natural disasters, and extreme violence -- perhaps to be also labelled as both "tragic" and "traumatic", given the degree of suffering typically associated with such occurrences.

Every effort is of course made to provide "explanations" and to render the experience "comprehensible". Science and religion continue to compete in providing such frameworks -- notably with reference to statistical probability and to "Acts of God" (Acts of God vs Acts of al-Qaida, 2005). The legal provisions of the insurance industry provide a degree of reconciliation between these. Some may have recourse to philosophy. All such efforts are typically unsatisfactory for those affected.

As a continuing challenge for the individual at least, the following is an exploration of possibilities of engaging with phenomena -- anomalies that are not adequately foreseen by conventional frameworks. These are also typically "unexpected" as explored by Karen A. Cerulo (Never Saw It Coming: cultural challenges to envisioning the worst, 2006). As with the disastrous flooding at La Faute-sur-Mer resulting from the Xynthia windstorm (2010), and failure to maintain dikes since Napoleonic times, such events are readily qualified as "unacceptable"-- as by the President of France. Furthermore they may also have "unexpected" consequences, as reviewed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable, 2007). Central to the following exploration is what might be described as the management of information and meaning -- beyond the constraints of convention.

We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library whose walls are covered to their ceiling with books in many different tongues... The child does not understand the languages in which they are written. He notes a definite plan in the arrangement of books, a mysterious order which he does not comprehend, but only suspects.

Albert Einstein, as quoted in The Science of Aliens (1998) by Clifford Pickover

quoted in The Science of Aliens (1998) by Clifford Pickover

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