On Wed, Oct 2, 2013 at 6:52 PM, GS Chandy <email@example.com> wrote:
> I've been through your "An Introduction to Synergetics" as well as the > Wikipedia entry to Synergetics provided there. I believe it might be more > appropriately called 'An Introduction to An Introduction to Synergetics'. > I've also been through the 'Synergetics Figure Index', and I'm currently > wading through (whenever I have the energy) the 'Synergetics Dictionary > Online' > > If you've visited 'Synergetics Figure Index' on the web then you've been to the web site containing the full text of Synergetics, nothing you'd need to buy or get from a library.
When it was published in hard copy, it was too voluminous to fit between the covers of one book. However the sections and passages are numbered and the two on-line are shuffled together like the two halves of a deck of cards.
Fuller waited until almost the end of his life to get this work in a publishable form. Mostly he was about designing artifacts and spreading the idea that the science of design was a more effective change agent (for better or for worse -- we hope for the better) than politics.
Both left and right wing fanatics use the iPhone and the Internet. Artifacts, in being more apolitical, are also more revolutionary / evolutionary.
Language itself is an artifact and in Synergetics he was crafting a kind of custom-made "universal language" that for him was a kind of Esperanto or common language for decoding the communications of others. I'd say it was experimental but also experience-tested.
We're all in principle free to, and in some sense responsible for, doing the same thing: constructing our own sense of reality and what's going on.
E.J. Applewhite was especially keen to have Fuller leave some essential or distilled version of his language for the ages.
Applewhite knew, more than most (having been a fan of Fuller's from his teen years on), that Fuller considered crafting his own language an exercise in personal integrity. Fuller had become highly distrustful of the language he'd inherited and resolved in the late 1920s to more boldly resist standard patterns of thought, starting over from scratch with whatever info he most trusted. He stopped speaking, except to his wife, for almost three years.
Applewhite (later a friend of mine, after a mutual assessment phase) wasn't a university professor. That was Arthur Loeb, who taught at MIT and Harvard and who wrote an appendix to Synergetics.
> The Wikipedia article does tell me plenty of interesting (and useful) > things about Synergetics; it does NOT show me how to understand > Synergetics in such a way that I can start using it myself. As you've > implied (I think), Synergetics is DIFFICULT stuff (for beginners, at > least).
In some ways it's of more historical than contemporary interest. In other ways it may be ahead of its time (a time capsule for the future to better appreciate).
Like there's a lot of source material on geodesic spheres, but you can get the same information in less cryptic / strange language from other sources.
When you say "system" which you do a lot (as do I) what do you imagine? Maybe nothing in particular.
In the language of Synergetics, there's a strong etymological tie between the word "system" and the Platonic wire frame of six edges and four nodes we call "the tetrahedron".
The idea that "systems" might sometimes consist of edges (connections) and nodes (dots) is not all that far fetched. The tetrahedron happens to be the simplest node + edge diagram that implies an inside versus an outside i.e. it's the first "cage" or "space divider" or "inside outside divider".
You might say "no, that's a sphere" but no matter, we have a shared concept, of something with an inside, concave interior and an outside convex exterior.
So even when we say "criminal justice system", there's that sense of insider and outsider views. Having geometric metaphors in the background adds structure to thought.
That's what Synergetics is about in many ways: wiring up your associations such that when you think of A, you also tend to think of B. That's what any language does. Languages are memory management tools more than we appreciate sometimes.
Language helps us dredge up the most relevant information when confronted with a situation.
Synergetics is "reprogramming" for those who immerse themselves in it, but then so is any great work in the humanities.
> Yes, Professor (?) EJ Applewhite DOES imply that his 90-page Index at the > end of Synergetics 2 along with his dictionary constitute an effective > 'learning guide' to Synergetics. This is not a justifiable claim (I > believe, from my own experience with these documents). However, I shall > continue my 'wading' in the hope that I shall one day learn to swim. [I > must note that I currently do not have access to the 2 volumes of > 'Synergetics]. All said and done, I believe the world still awaits (in my > case, most eagerly indeed) an effective "Introduction to Synergetics" that > can encourage and enable people to take up the study of both the > Synergetics volumes. > > If you're that committed to wading, then may I recommend my own little tract, published in the early 1990s:
The font is kinda tiny but you no doubt know how to tell your browser to bump it up.
> I've also been through "Leveraging Python" and a few other of your 'Grain > of Sand' entries. Shall do more later. >
I appreciate your visiting my blogs. Many of my postings link back to threads here on math-teach.
> I've not yet been able to look at/hear 'Cabin in the Woods' - shall try to > do that in due course. > > >
Don't worry about it. I realize that when we post to a public archive, we have an opportunity to leave bread crumb trails to interesting resources.
I can't expect any given reader to follow all of them or any of them really.
Our household is a fan of Joss Whedon (TV and movie director / screenwriter). If you follow his career, you get to a lot in our shared popular culture, but not necessarily parts that interest you.
> > > > I've been looking at the TerraServer and Google Earth - and I can see the > potential of these constructs. > > >
Yes. The ability to have a globe that allows you to zoom in, that shows global data, is one of the dreams-come-true in the Fuller syllabus.
He was always writing about something he called a Geoscope which would let you see global data in a dynamic and animated way. Google Earth is a huge step towards that.
He was mindful of the fact that a globe doesn't show the whole surface at once, and there's the whole cartographic science of map projections designed to give us whole surface views that aren't too misleading.
As you know, the prevalent Mercator Projection shows Greenland as way overblown in size and has no good way of dealing with the poles. One of Fuller's artifacts is another projection that uses the same geometry behind geodesic spheres.
The Geoscope and his world map went together as two artifacts to use while playing World Game, a third artifact (people would come together with Fuller to play these "World Games" which were like workshops for people who need to integrate data and help drive policy formulation, perhaps using simulations or just simple models).
World Game often happens in a kind of "situation room" where you have world maps updating on monitors, showing various trends and events.
Anyway, he'd fantasize about such things a lot. A Geoscope in the East River, facing the UN. A globe that folded out into his projection as an Expo Pavilion.
These were the forms the dream took before the Internet.
Science Museums are also starting to sprout "geoscopes". You can bet they're used in situation rooms to which the public has less access:
> > The question is, how to stimulate *us* (i.e., human beings at large - this > I'm sure is essential) into doing the hard work of 'becoming smart' (or, at > least, *somewhat smarter* than we have been showing ourselves to be since > the age of Newton)??? > >
Artifacts have entered our lives to amplify our access to the thinking of others, to information.
We have tools like Google, for searching. These revolutionary artifacts are collectively changing the consciousness of humanity, for better or for worse (or neither, or both).
> I'd suspect that this is the real issue of this era. We do have > practically all the needed tools - but I do despair sometimes that we'll > ever do the needed hard work to *escape the abyss* lying just ahead of us. > > And yes, as you've noted below, in many schools, the 'prevalent culture' > is to set the kids up to succumb to Malthusian despair. Once that's more > or less *ingrained in a person's thinking*, it's well-nigh impossible - at > least it's EXTREMELY, SUPREMELY difficult - to get him/her out of that way > of thought. (And then not to forget that we do have the relatively less > dangerous problem of the 'sloganeers' around us!!! Yes, they're rather > less dangerous, but they are definitely sizable barriers to be overcome). > > GSC >
It's important to talk about in what ways Malthus was right too.
From his point of view, there would be no physical way to support even the 7 billion humans on Planet Earth today.
Malthus worked for the London College of Economics and was tasked with assembling a big picture view of the world's resources, in service of his Empire. He did not anticipate canning, or refrigeration on a massive scale, ways of preserving food that have kept its nutritional value way beyond what was possible in his day.
The ability to do more with less has also been an exponential growth curve, in addition to population.
In schools, we should clue students that humans are not in a completely hopeless situation and they should not feel consumed by fear. But are they getting this message. Where does the school register on the Fear versus Longing meter? How does one quantify this axis?
Given students take personality tests, there should be a way to measure a school's "personality".