I’ve been reading about fractals – a word I’d heard before but not sufficiently understood. They are a concept the same uniform motion can be infinitely repeated to form very concept patterns. Almost as when Brahma opened the cavernous abyss of his mouth and intoned ‘AUM’.
The concept is beautiful and unifying – shows how the smallest gesture can be on a great scale magnified and replicated – how you’re taking notice of a stranger, or some extra time for your mother can in some way improve international relations.
You think I’m joking, dear one. No. It’s been a long while I’ve ranted and raved at those who have dropped the significance of individual action in context of the bigger picture. It’s not in the way of ordering people to be holier than thou – an exhortation to conformity and the banal.
The simple reason is that circumstances pass before us as codes – to be recognised and deciphered by way of mindful action. These codes – such as dealing with a lover’s infidelity – as the self same situations and actions replicated at an international level.
It IS the same gesture to ignore the pleas of a beggar on your street – the one who sits daily by the cash machine, not to be closer to the money but to take advantage of the surveillance society, be close to the ATMs CCTV and avoid being beaten – as it is to restrain government purses in development aid.
It is the same to demonise Israelis and cherish Palestinians as it is to build a wall between them.
These codes, these attitudes all find their way into the collective mind and find expression in a grander form – infinitely replicated in a fractally logistic way.
Which means, dear friends, that the world around us – that we so despair and revel in – is nothing but a magnification of our own desires at one end and our nobility at the other.
Gordon Brown is as imaginative and inconsequential as the people he governs. Barack Obama as manipulative and coolly efficient as the societies he runs and the basking scar of Africa the collective expression of everything that we do not see.
We’re going on a philosophical trip because that’s where I’m ‘at’. Some ideas have been fermenting and experimenting with in the head for some time – a couple creeping into these pages – are finding expression in the words of others.
For a long time there’s been an idea that the subject of global cooperation is the same energy as that required to improve local participation. One will not come without the other. As we expand supernationally – and folks though it may take a different form it IS going to happen – we need to look more deeply into our communties and expand their participation. At some level we know this intuitively but the concept of fractals is so elegantly unifying it expresses what I’ve been thinking perfectly. If this words strike as irrelevant or confused, it’s because they have yet to find in me decent expression, still hovering before maturity.
It was a former professor of mine at McGill University, Montreal (I sound so grand to say it – but you know I am both educated and travelled) whose writings I’ve been unearthing that’s been working on the topic of fractals and global cooperation – himself concerned with moving on the conversation from the ‘dominator paradigm’ expressed so diligently by current executives (and, just you wait, ALSO by Obama).
Myron Frankman, short, grey bearded intellectual, would stand at the front of a class and mumble witticisms that could only be heard in the front row – even though his voice was amplified by microphone – and spend inordinate lengths of time on house keeping and describing homework assignments. His passion was for the power of the collective and he saw himself not as a dusty prof, but another member of the collective who could contribute equally, albeit with more erudition and insight than any of us assembled. And certainly with no less passion.
Arrayed in a lecture theatre, late teenagers and early-twenty-somethings would tire as he rambled about our latest assignment or dithered on his computer to find today’s powerpoint presentation. Just as heads would nod – Myron would produce, like a magician a chicken from his cloak, the most radical firebrand ideas to set minds fizzing and ardent revolutionary hearts alight.
World taxes, advanced critiques of the ruling order, dominator models, co-operative schemes to empower the disempowered. The ditherer became so alive and able to enfold all of us in his enthusiasm and passion – while still over 60 – he became one of my most cherished-remembered professors, even though he revealed the firebrand only two or three times in three months of teaching.
Myron was not the sole external factor – I’ve yet to write on here my involvement with an equally exciting NGO in Amsterdam – taking up my precious fifth day of the week. It’ll come in another batch of storytelling. In the meantime, stay well, stay ardent, passionate and above all, free.