by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ November 28, 2020
How do we climb up out of the pit that may well be our grave? This not just a local hole in the ground, although in many places it is that also, but a planet-sized gravity well?
In our 21st century world, even a metaphorical pit threatening to be a grave is complicated. Explaining it requires significantly more intellectual effort than most people are willing to invest. Still, we really don’t have any other options but to work because no one else will help us.
A key understanding is that this giant well we have fallen into is chaotic in nature. I’ve come to see this as fractalized. But what does that mean?
In this case, I take this to mean we are in a hole made up of many smaller holes that are identical at any scale.
. . . a fractal is a self-similar subset of Euclidean space whose fractal dimension strictly exceeds its topological dimension. Fractals appear the same at different levels, as illustrated in successive magnifications of the Mandelbrot set. Wikipedia
At the simplest level, this means we are in a helluva hole. At this point, many people would give up as we discover that many people have before discovering they are in a fractal dimension that exceeds their topological dimension.
I see this as another route to discovering hyperobjects that are highly complex ontological objects overwhelming us as a species. These objects or fractalized holes are created by us, even if we can’t really comprehend them, and threaten our survival unless we learn what is needed to deal with them.
These are climate warming, self-destructive economic systems, suicidal political diseases, quantum mechanics, and the problem of why we think we are separate entities that need to kill each other. These are just a few of our self-similar subsets of Euclidean space.
To reduce this in scale, we can focus on America’s current dilemma of escaping the hole represented by Donald Trump and his corrupted political party. The first step is to see that the problem is not a hole that Donald Trump and minions dug, though that is the broadly popular perception, but that Donald Trump is a fractalized, self-similar subset that appears as a self-replicating void.
From the mental health and public well-being perspective, this is seen as a form of social psychosis that creates a dangerously dysfunctional population. But we face an unsolvable problem that people subject to social psychosis need to be understood and educated to assist them and our society in recovery but does not work with the population affected.
This illustrates the need to see what we are dealing with from a more useful analogical perspective. Even if you are not comfortable with Euclidean geometry, let alone chaos theory, it makes little sense to discuss this with a Mandelbrot set. The mathematical structure never changes.
In fact, I suspect that very few people would attempt to argue with a complex number mathematical formula. If they did, there would be little expectation of success unless you could change the mathematical dimension involved.
That is, I think, a useful point at the human level. Talking to Trumpists, fascists, Stalinists, Maoists, or religionists is no more useful than talking to a Mandelbrot set. We need to move them to a different perspective.
While the US media, also caught in a slightly different scale instance of this problem, many people fall out of the Trump fractal set back into the primary dimension. Why that happens is experiential and not the product of logic and discussion. I think it is best seen as the result of such people running into a variable that destroys the self-replicating formula.
Just as we deal with suicidal and irrational denial of climate warming despite accelerating examples monthly, the power of the self-imaging formula only collapses when a change in perspective produces personal disaster or epiphany. This is the case endlessly and unhelpfully stated as ‘getting it’ or ‘not getting it.’
Reading about this from people who have made the dimensional change is almost always very personal and hard to replicate. People have endlessly fractalized with very little difference, but our species sensitivity to tiny social variances is the end product of several millions of years of evolution.
The media focus is also more likely to be on those who resist change, even on their death beds from something that does not exist in their dimension. But those are extreme cases and probably produce a large enough variable change to blow members of that person’s family and friends out of the fractalized dimension. We can, at least, hope.
So how does this fractal analogy help with our problems? It should reduce a lot of useless discussion of ‘talking to Trumpists’ on a rational level. It should also shift the focus to changing the overall dimension that supports their fractalization. However, that is not nearly as easy as thinking you can talk to the affected people and get them to change.
We are in a hyperobject, fractalized environment, as referenced above. These patterns are self-referencing at any scale. But here is the hard part. You must distinguish between the problem's formulaic structure and the specific reality to which it is being applied.
In America, the Trump problem replicates the economic problem, climate warming problem, social administration (political) problem, and no shared ontology. Everything that we are doing replicated the same elements of a fundamental problem set.
This is why many people who are most concerned about what we are experiencing see little hope in changing the deck chair colors to solve our problems. This leads to the conclusion that the whole things need to collapse to move to a new dimension. Hopefully, within this fractal analogy, it is clearer that everything we face as a hyperobject problem is fully entangled, preventing small piece solutions.
Problem-solving is a process of finding the right perspective after working to understand all of the problem's elements. A profound example taught me this at a young age.
I no longer could even begin to remember the book from which this came, but in the story, a critical repair needed to be made on a ship requiring the removal of a bent shaft from a large gear set. The obvious requirement was to remove the problem shaft, but it proved impossible to drive the shaft out of the gear. The solution was to drive the gear off of the shaft.
That model has worked for me for many years in a completely different field. Change your perspective, and unsolvable problems in one dimension become minor in another. That change often requires exploring new ways of looking at the problem.
The result is usually a permanently changed perspective. Unfortunately, we are not in so simple a world now. The nature of highly complex, entangled problems not subject to a divide and conqueror or piecemeal solution requires bold changes to begin the process by changing the perspective.
This becomes a trial and error that must hold no rule as valid and no solution as potentially helpful. This is not a world for conservative survival. All cries that only what worked before can be used to solve the problem need to be ignored. That is the pointlessness of arguing with a Mandelbrot set.