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Creative Cognitive Engagement

Beyond the Limitations of Descriptive Patterning (Part #1)

Annex 2 of Governance through Patterning Language: creative cognitive engagement contrasted with abdication of responsibility

Stage 1: Enjoining
Stage 2: Exemplifying / Enabling / Empowering
Stage 3: Imaginative world-making
Stage 4: Enminding: environmental challenges as a reflecting mirror
Stage 5: Embodying
Stage 6: Engendering through non-action
Stage 7: Perfection of what is: intelligent design?
Stage 8: Grounding alternative realities
Stage 9: Silence: the unsaid and the unsayable?

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Beyond descriptions of the problematique of change processes (as described in Annex 1: Distinguishing Levels and Patterns of Strategic Obsolescence), and of the problematique itself, lie the questions of how to transform the situation -- with which I have to deal in my world.

"Peak meaning": As but one of the challenges to which society is called upon to respond, "peak oil" points to the complex implications for the governance of oil-dependent economies. The potential for collapse of those economies may however be associated with another more fundamental form of collapse, namely the "collapse of meaning". Such a collapse -- following the "peak meaning" of globalization -- would be associated with a radical loss of confidence in the institutionalized articulations "oiled" by global meaning. The difficulty in recognizing the potential for such collapse may be intimately related to the difficulty in acknowledging the possibility of the collapse of the monetary system that is so emblematic of one form of confidence on which society is dependent. And yet many national governments have gone bankrupt in the past, and many specialists have highlighted warning indications that the global financial system could collapse.

Institutional credibility: The problem for institutions and authority structures is that, having indulged so heavily in news management and "spin", they are now completely unable to prove with any credibility claims they may choose to make. How is the integrity of independent evaluators to be proven when so many have been bought in the recent past -- or persuaded by false claims regarding "national security" priorities? Hence the democratic deficit. At the time of writing this has been exemplified by assertions by the Director General of MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller, that it was currently tracking 30 major terrorist plots in the UK involving 1600 people (BBC News, 10 November 2006).

To what extent do such claims serve overt or covert political agendas? (cf Promoting a Singular Global Threat -- Terrorism: Strategy of choice for world governance, 2002 ). As with claims traditionally made by the Pentagon, how many "plots" is it necessary to detect in order to justify increasing the budget of the security services by x%? The validity of claims made by medical, and big science, researchers is similarly impossible to establish.

Irrelevance of authority structures: Authority structures are acquiring the significance of the "beef eaters" guarding the Tower of London -- covered with medals and awards and empty of contemporary relevance other than for tourists, the gullible and their victims. Such assessments are only reinforced by the incompetence and ballooning budgets associated with the management of mega-projects claimed to be visionary. Institutions and their initiatives are increasingly drained of independent meaning.

Cognitive engagement: This creates a context in which descriptive patterning is not enough. Whereas the map may indeed not be the territory, it may constitute a trap if it is not recognized that its value is intimately related to the map-making process of the map-maker (cf The Territory Construed as the Map: in search of radical design innovations in the representation of human activities and their relationships, 1979 ). Its significance, and how it is used, derives from the value the map-maker attaches to it.

Beyond the arguments for the social construction of reality, whether enhanced by positive thinking or not, the question that emerges is the degree of personal cognitive engagement now called for. The process of effectively delegating or projecting responsibility onto external authorities and initiatives is increasingly questionable. As the collapse of many social safety nets is now demonstrating, the capacity of such collective initiatives to respond appropriately in my world is becoming increasingly questionable -- and this capacity would appear to be diminishing further. The expectation that proposed initiatives will meet needs in the future is as problematic as the budget estimates now made for well-circumscribed projects.

The following "stages" should be understood as pragmatic clusters that emerged from the author's reading of seemingly relevant literature -- with the many reservations for which this may call. Many other such interpretations -- with fewer or more "stages", of greater or lesser subtlety -- are possible in the light of various metaphors and schools of thought, as for example summarized elsewhere in terms of the "rebirth" metaphor (Varieties of Rebirth: distinguishing ways of being born again, 2004). In particular the metaphor of a linear sequence of "stages", implying a "ladder", is itself to be considered questionable (as discussed below). One interesting example is the classic Zen set of 10 Ox-herding Pictures (Kubota Ji'un, Ten Ox-herding Pictures with the Verses Composed by Kakuan Zenji, 1996)

en/cow_e.html">Ten Ox-herding Pictures with the Verses Composed by Kakuan Zenji, 1996)

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