Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Building New Structures

Motion traces a path in the surroundings. The excessive focus on the identity of things obscures the importance of how we move among them. Over time our movements create an image of the intertwined pattern that is the clearest expression of the meaning of our lives. Alfred Adler first coined the word “lifestyle” over a hundred years ago to place the emphasis on the movement, the style of life and way of being in the world that builds our satisfaction or unhappiness. When I see someone clinging to their resentments, it’s not hard to see how that way of looking at things creates problems. So many have become confused by the messages of consumer culture that try to identify meaning with what you have accumulated. In the depths of the heart we know that we are meaningful through our actions in the world, the way we behave, how we affect others, the functions we perform and how that changes according to context. It is through understanding our own life-in-action that we understand others. Though the specifics are not the same, the structure of the pattern is what tells us they’re headed for trouble or triumph. We’ve seen it before. This is the basis for our attunement with the world.
So much of what we experience has parallels in other areas. We’re tuned to primary patterns that we can recognize in other areas to help us decode the unfamiliar. The gestalt psychologists of the 1940’s and 50’s used the word “isomorphism” for this structural similarity. That we can apply knowledge from one area to patterns in another is the essence of reasoning. The pattern shows us where to look for the next step or what might be missing from the whole.
The Internet is isomorphic to the brain. Every site (neuron) is the hub of many other connections. The web abounds in terminology of location. We create sites and navigate within them. These similarities may allow us to better envision the idea of consciousness as continuous, shared, something expressed through each of us. Since the structures are similar we can look at the evolution of knowledge on every subject like a wiki in the collective mind, where all views and life experience inform the development of the whole. The principle of life is growth. That’s why contributing to the store of knowledge gives us pleasure.
I would love to see a game experience that made me fell connected to the universe in exhilarating and insightful ways. Immersion in a game of pure beauty might be found to be far more refreshing than day-time naps, now being explored in companies hoping to decrease mistakes due to long days.
A game format could be used to develop our self-awareness of deeper level patterns in our psyche. Creating a range of places to explore we could learn about our inner world by seeing the choices we make about where to go. Imagining entirely new places to be may allow us to develop capabilities not even dreamed. The acts of identifying and classifying chop our true continuity into parts. Though it’s a way of thinking that has its usefulness, it has wrecked our connection to all the wonderful different kinds of people who share our patterns as living human beings. We need to remember that our categories are tools and are not the reality. Eating and sleeping, togetherness and loss, being born and dying, are the patterns of being we share, isomorphic to each other, a reality deeper than the ideas, labels, theories and ideologies we mistakenly let divide us.

1 comment:

brianweber said...

Susan,

I really am digging all of the your thoughts on learning, engagement, games, and art. A friend of mine at work was telling me about "flow" and "autotelic" personalities. I believe that book you are reading by Jane McGonigal may cover it. If not, please check it out on the internet. It's some really interesting stuff.

Here is the Wiki site...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)


Flow is basically what artists and others may commonly refer to as focus; a state of near euphoric meditation triggered by concentrating on one goal. The goal has to be one that presents a large amount of challenge. It's basically riding that thin line between success and frustration. That's what triggers flow and thus the euphoric state. Another good link to check out is that of "autotelic" personalities and activities. Interesting stuff. :)