November 12, 1998
The movement exists; the organ forms around it.
Most often, people determine a physical structure - for say for a radio, building, or roads in a city - and the actual movements of those involved are conformed to the design of the physical structure. This is a natural mode of thinking if one premises that Matter - materials - are primary (linkto symposium), and motion-dynamics are only attributes of which may arise in connection with predefined physical structures to move through. A very different sort and set of structures will arise when the *motions* are considered FIRST, and the structures conformed to the cyclic repitition of movements. For example, think about a heart. Scientists today make artificial hearts from physical processes as they would manufacture an automobile. Likewise dentists drill screws into a jaw to replace a bad tooth.
Can you see a difference?
Even if you couldn't see a difference, there would be a fundamental difference in how the result was achieved. An artificial tootth or flower is never the same as the real thing unless it grows. If laws of growth (the How) have been manipulated, this still does not mean that the fundamental growth principle (the Why) has been understood.
Image Copyright 1997 - O.Dalmao, D.D.S.
Think for a moment how contrived the artificial heart and tooth seem compared to the organs they are replacing. The tooth grew, and the the heart grows and evolves over time - as does a tree. The form adapts to the circumstances in which it performs its growth. A tree may grow right around a metal bar lodged within it. The artificial tooth screwed into the jaw, or the artificial heart pump has no adaptability. It can perhaps be designed and contrived with sensors and mechanisms to make it respond more fully to its environment, and be said to thereby "adapt", but what I mean here by adaptablitiy is something quite different - a dynamic adapting process that is not contrived by design, but one that is integral to its existence and generation. A plastic skin, if torn, does not heal up (unless it has been made to become active by already living tissue) as real skin does. This is a completely remarkable difference of the greatest significance, and is currently completely beyond our technology. Bio-engineering may (and probably will) learn to manipulate biological laws of growth, much as science has learned to control the laws of physics to produce mechanical and electrical devices. However, it still has no fundamental understanding of exactly WHY things GROW.
Consider for a moment - if the motions and flows of blood in the human organism, or the air moving through the lungs could be present without the organs yet formed to hold the blood - the blood flowing with no organs yet existant to contain the flowing. No viens, no arteries, no heart pump; only the movement of the blood in its circulatory patterns. If you could do this, you would find that slowly, by a sort of building-up and depositing of bits along the course of the flowing, viens, heart and arteries would begin to appear. The movement exists; the organ forms around it. This is the organic process of growth. This is evident also in the growth of cities, plants, networks, etc. The legacy of the growth determines the history, or unique character of a particular instance of a certain set of movement configurations or Habits.
There is a fundamental assupmtion in much of today's science that tends to view things from the exterior aspect. Much of science analyzes humans by studying their outsides (they study the human by studying the corpse (see Visible Human project: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/research/visible/photos.html ). The study of Anthroposophy turns this around, and begins with the study of human insides (consciousness), and then works its way out to living manifestation.
How Natural Science Views the Human Head
Everything measured, digitized and quantified, but the funny thing is, they haven't found a way to measure Consciousness - that is seen as an inexplicable phenomenon arising as a random by-product of complex molecular interaction. The science of Anthroposophy begins the other way around - from Consciousness to physical manifestation.
Translating a characteristic set of movement habits into another set of initial circumstances results in a self-similar resulting structure conformed to its unique environmental circumstances. Habits therefore can be said to be "constant" (* i.e. self-cohesive dynamic structural organizers. they could in no way be considered static or constant - merely, the habits are a constant thread from manifestation to manifestation, however this still considers that these habits continually also evolve over time), while the manifested forms can be said to be most various depending on the inter-dynamic play between habit and environment. If we are to understand growth, we must first understand how pre-existing habits and patterns of flow are an organizing principle.
CITIES, buildings, and institutions are the exoteric manifestation of the culminative thoughts, wishes and desires of a peoples (esoteric core). The esoteric is the kernal around which the exoteric forms, and are the organizing structure behind the exoteric forms.
Before there were cars, and radios, and suburbs full of houses and shopping malls, there were values and desires in the group of people we call a society. Collectively, these values and desires - although the individuals within the society may individually hold differing (and even conflicting) beliefs - as a whole, a certain pattern of buildings, and preoccupations arise over time. If these preoccupations are focused on the differences, you often see patterns of barrier erection, and sometimes escalating to the level of armed conflict. If the focus of the individuals in the society is to cooperate with each other and focus their efforts on projects based on shared beliefs and goals, the efforts of the individuals become effective towards achieving affuelence. If an increasing proportion of the population has a certain level of say superficialness, work ethic, or artistic tendancies, you can trace it as a social movement - a branch of growth of the development of a strain of ideas and influences that work their way to individuals through countless channels. These range from seeing a sign, or hearing a passing comment from a stranger in the street, to formal gatherings such as activities targetted toward furthering a corporation's (an abstract concept that is treated with the rights of an individuality in the eyes of the law) activities, media distribution (internet, radio, television), a religious or altruistic group such as a charity, or along other various demographic lines. Cities are a catalyst for the propogation of ideas - this is why the city has always been regarded as "more sophisticated" than country dwellers. The city brings people together along these lines of influence due to geographic proximity of the individuals living there. A significant shift in the distribution of growth in ideas (and hence the organizational structures that shape our cities and society) came about when the means for communicating information was extended geographically and temporally by means of writing, and further by the mass propagation and dissemination of ideas by means of the printing press. These non-local lines of communication were excaberated by newer communications technologies - radio, telephone, and currently the internet.
It is now possible for an architect or builder to design, visualize, and demand execution of a building without the need to ever come in contact with the used materials, or even to visit the site on which the structure is to be built. One can make complete drawings and plans in a CADD programme on completely abstract terms, and "print" a building. Of couse it is not yet so simple, but the direction we are headed is one in which completely abstract conceptions in a computer can draw upon the required physical resources to construct an actual instantiation of the abstract conception. This is already evident in the movement from completely physical practical design considerations, to almost completely stylistic ones in, say clothes, radios, or cars. This movement is similarly seen in computers where the trend was first completely with function, and then with the advent of the iMac - considerations of style in addition to utility. This is the same path as clothes took as they moved from single utilitarian garment to multitudinous changes of garment based or personal taste and fashion.
This is in stark contrast to the methodology used only several centuries ago of finding and knowing each stone individually and intimately. today, little regard is given to the "sanctity" of each individual stone, tree, and source material used in construction. Rather, they are treated uniformly as endlessly similar raw units for mass processing - cement, wood pulp. Buildings created with human individual consideration given to each stone, brick, and timber of wood are very much different to buildings that are created with no consideration for these things. Today, it is not unusual for a great deal of stone (in the form of concrete), wood, and raw materials to be directed into uses completely independently of direct intimate knowledge of the materials being used. By this I mean that often a building is concieved of entirely in the abstract realm of the architect or builder on a computer with a CAD programme in a completely arbitrary way (i.e. based on the needs of an abstract organising principle such as a corporation - bank; shopping mall; parking lot, etc.), and the plans for construction are then "Output" with girders and concrete, much as a letter is printed on a printer - the use of the inks is completely removed from any intimate knowledge of the sources of the used (consumed) materials. In contrast before certain technologies became available, every stone, door knob, shirt, dish, and image were fashioned individually. To get an idea of this, imagine a world where you could see no pictures whatsoever except those that had taken an individual hours and days to paint - how would seeing an image then be regarded differently? Quite differently than when we have mass reproduced images bombarding us from every street corner on billboards, on television and computer monitors, and magazines and advertising signs. In the past, a person who may only see one painting in their whole life - if they've left they're village to see it in a Cathedral - a home where the community came together to realise their common aspirations and beliefs. Compare this to who casually a painting is regarded when it takes an effort in our society to avoid images and recorded noises (walk by a store and hearing music coming out of it from a mechanical device - whereas formerly you might only have heard music if you made it yourself, or were at a gathering place where music was actually being performed. Land and places were at one time regarded as specific and even "holy".
These facts indicate a general movement over the past several centuries from a profound regard, and even an identification with (for if all food comes from this place, and ones ancestors lie in the ground there, it is much different today when we have no idea where the food in a shopping mall comes from, foods mixed together on a plate may come, and often are from several widely disparate countries or regions) the land, to a system which regards land and things only as commodities or resources to be used for ones own purposes or devices. There is a general shift from "regards for place and what constitutes and characterizes that place" (i.e. craft and devotion) to -> undifferentiated usage of land and things that constitute a place as a commoditiy or resource to fullfil the purposes of an abstracted entity. This trend indicates a growing rift between the forces moving and directing uses of the materials, and the materials themselves.
It correlates directly with the de-localization of idea communication. Reverence, memory, tradition and religion are seen to be replaced by logic (rise of "the Age of Reason"), and then by utilitarian and economic considerations - which have developed an increasing rift from actual physical reality when corporations become independent entities, and the factors which control the economy were decoupled from any last direct ties to physical reality by the elimination of the gold standard in the 1940's (FIND: get the right date). Severing the economic entity of society from physical reality by no longer basing it on a gold standard gave the economic realm freedom to act on its own terms and become increasingly indendent of physical considerations. We now see how physical resources are used to fullfil the missions and tasks of completely arbitrary entities ("corporations"). As a society, we have given these abstract entities the same powers and rights as an inidividual. As it is natural for corporations to seek to maintain, and even perpetrate their own existence, resources are used to ensure that these entities continue to exist.
Accountability to shareholders based solely on short-term financial gains, and especially extension and withdrawal of support towards an endeavour based on short-term profitablitiy have created a system where the highest determining factor in most cases today is "the lowest price is the law". When the law is based not on the ability of people to live, but on an abstract entity whose primary consideration is the making of money - we see that a global system has arisen which does not depend on any direct physical circumstance, but is rather directed by an abstract principle of a corporation's economic quarterly and yearly financial success. The motivating factor then involves people (primarily), but requires and uses those people as subordinate to the achievement of survival as a financial entity decoupled from actual physical processes. This is not the only corporate model, but it is one that is commonly in use today, and we must be aware that the valuations of "lowest price is the law" have certain social-economic implications.
The corporation is one of the most ingenious inventions of mankind in this age, and as with anything, it can be used in the determination of both beneficial and detrimental effects to the population. Counter-balancing the purely economic with a three-fold system of:
- Reseach: Education, Learning, Science (THINKING)
- Social and Cultural Life: Well-being of citizens (FEELING)
- Economic: Resource allocation -> practical, doing, (WILLING).
brings the corporation into full effectiveness in our society.
The point to be made in contrasting previous systems of history with current practices is not to say one system is better or worse than the other. It simply points out the fact that the priorities and organizing principles have shifted drastically once technologies became available for the implementation on a wider scale of peoples' wishes and desires - primarily the wishes and desires of those who have the most influence.
A most profound change is now taking place again in the economic sphere. Just as ideas became non-localized by the invention of books and the printing press, and the use of money instead of barter non-localized and allowed much more flexible trade arrangements between cities. Now the first signs of eCommerce are coming into play, and consequentially, a further rift forms between the abstracted needs, wants, and desires of individuals in the society, and the actual history ("sacredness of place") of each component involved
Individuality of place is asceded to abstract redirection of goods and materials by newly arbitrated lines of communication, and global commerce dislocates to a highly accelerated degree the use of materials from a wide variety of geographic sources. People in general no longer care where an Apple, or a cow in their hamburger comes from, or the tree used for the wood in their pencil. The demands of modern life (e.g. a burger flipper at a fast food restaurant) mitigate against it. The average person is completely removed from any knowledge or memory of the source and history of the materials involved say, to make the plastic in a computer mouse. The materials are simply used to "print" the CAD design, their history (in general) is of absolutely no regard. In short, the *design* and the *materials used to execute that design* are completely severed from each other. In practice, and on a grand scale, this is never strictly true, but it is an axis of movement along which there has been a dramatic shift.
INDIVIDUALITY AS AN IDEAL that was not as highly regarded as it is today. What we today regard as attrocities and violations of personal rights were commonly accepted by previous societies which did not esteem individuality as highly as we do. Other societies valued the good of the community or tribe more highly than their personal freedom. As groups mingled, individuality and logic became more important than groups, tradition and ancestors. Logic and individuality come at the expense of personal memory and history.
When you build a road, you don't simply build a road. what you are actually doing is creating a *condiut* along which cars and people flow. then, for various reasons (say, a behaviour attractor of people wanting to live "out in nature"), a first structure or "stop" is built along the road. soon, other structures congregate around that area. you begin to have an accumulation of development along the course of the road. as this happens, a reciprocal effect takes place in that as more structures or destinations are built along the road, the people managing those structures may have it in their best interest to make those places into destinations - and so seek to setup inducements in the form of behavioural attractors (hotels offer accomodation, restaurants offer food, movie places offer entertainment) which cause changes in the patterns of flow along the road. if they are successful, the flow of traffic is increased, and larger roads and more roads are built. towns, and then cities begin to form around an initial point of interest. the behavioural attractor equivalent of a "seed". most cities with any sort of history have these "seeds" - in north america, a prime example would be the city of niagara falls, which is named after its attractor-seed.
Put bluntly, Advertising exists in order to manipulate habits of people. If it were not so, companies would not pay billions of dollars a year to produce advertising. These are largely effective due to the tendancy of people to succumb to the appeal to their most basic desires (food, clothes, telephones, toothpaste are sold by promoting a "lifestyle" which capitalizes and exagerates, and even invents "needs" for the consumer). Behavioural conditioning from advertising becomes more effective as people listen to it. The human attribute of WILL (self-determination) atrophies with disuse. Advertising then is able to set behavioural attractors for large numbers of people. For example, by advertising a large stadium concert for example, you can observe patterns of flows of traffic towards and away from the event location (or determine the load path in a switching network for remote viewers). When you have relatively large event attractors, you must ensure that the various departments of a city co-operate in the process. for example, if you begin reconstruction and repair of a major access road the same weekend as a major concert or festival, you will tend to have mass innefficiencies and slowdowns through-out the system. for this reason highway and road building are often scheduled off peak traffic hours, because it is cheaper to pay the workers overtime for the odd hours than it costs the city in terms of transmitted inefficiencies in the rest of the bussiness systems.
For example, placing a light at one end of room, and people tend to congregate around it. You can guide the flow of traffic in a room - say, a club - by strategically placing the lighting within the room. if you place your washrooms, tickets, and access platforms at a train station, you can control the flow of traffic, or cause "knots" - areas of turbulence in the flow of traffic through a station.
CYCLIC ECONOMY IS LIKE AC ELECTRICITY.
THE PROMISE OF "CONTINUOUS ECONOMIC GROWTH"
IS AS UNSUSTAINABLE AS LONG DISTANCE TRANSMISSION OF DC ELECTRICITY
The economy - Those who strive for a system in which they seek only continuous economic growth are striving for an impossible situation. Analagous might be the transmission of DC electricity. If you try to transmit a DC electrical signal over a wire, it dies out in very short order. This is why digital signals must be converted to analogue (i.e. alternating currents - tones) by modems in order to be transmitted any great distance. When Edison advocated an DC electrical power system, DC generators would have had to have been set up every few blocks to provide electricity to home. A DC electrical impulse is impossible to sustain for very long. This has direct implication to economic theory -> any politician who promises or promotes the idea of "continuous and indefinite economic growth" either doesn't know what they're talking about or is lying. In contrast we have AC electricity - which can be sent over wires for a long distances. This correlates directly with a system which views the economy as Cyclic. A cyclic economic system doesn't have the same grand boom/bust cycles as a DC economy, but builds continuous miniature boom/bust cycles into it, and thus is more robust at long term survival as an economic model, just as AC electricity can naturally be transmitted longer distances than DC electricity.
GOOD DESIGN, GOOD ARCHITECTURE TAKES INTO ACCOUNT FLOWFORM PRINCIPLES
In building a kitchen, a public washroom, or designing an aeroport, the behavioural attractors must be considered the defining organizing principle if optimum efficiency is to be realised.
in flowform structures, i am interested in the patterns of wear that occur in things. for example, you notice the wear of stone or concrete in stairs, or ruts in a road. this points to a need to reinforce those areas based on wear. instead of pouring pavement uniformly across the roads, it would be more efficient to condense areas focus around the wear patterns. utilitarian clothing is often made this way - with reinforcement of leather say around a collar or a cuff where the clothing may have to endure more wear. the more the way things wear is considered in their design, the more they can be said to conform to flowform principles.
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this page last updated: may 18, 1998