unfolding expression

context and content

Unfolding. Origami in reverse
HERB SIMPSON: "I'd like to give you a twenty-minute presentation that'll change the world." HOMER: "Aww. Twenty minutes!"
edited: 2 Nov 2021, written: 24 Aug 2018.

The answers we get are determined by the questions that we ask. In a world now humming with information, both these are expected to be brief, and simple. Science is reasonable, yet while it provides straightforward answers to simple questions those concerning wellbeing are chaotic. It can do little more for these than provide information.

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

This was my introduction. Lost, buried under sympathy and dogma, I searched through silos of knowledge to get back to elementary facts. Although I found that these were familiar, when I assembled them the result surprised me - like old children's stories once did.

This is a story of semiosis, conversation, society, and health. Its four chapters coextend, like the layers of a map, but while its contents seem reliable its form has had to rest upon my abilities, and it remains a work in progress. My hope is that you can find your way through it - even though that seems unlikely:

For last year's words belong to last year's language. And next year's words await another voice.

λ  literalism
    meaning and spells

The ideas we form and choices we make are misdirected when different frames of meaning are unconsciously mixed - there may be an epidemic in our minds, and one too in our souls, but even if so these are not the same. When feeling certain we know what things mean we are at our most vulnerable to deceptions and misunderstanding.


Ψ  on being heard
    life and language

Life was born when an environment was perceived as a pattern of signs - in the beginning was the word, just not a word that we recognize. Every being perceives others in its environment through the signs they make, and as consequence of this awareness, which is intrinsic to life, language and society have emerged and developed.


Δ  making sense
    health and fluency

Communication is central. From the beginning, as beings have multiplied and developed, their survival has depended upon them successfully interacting with their environment. Finding advantages of protection and empowerment in social integration they evolved, their mental as well as physical well-being coextensive with their fluency.


θ  gathering conversations
   society and reproduction

As societies grow and develop their individuals become more dependent upon them and their roles increasingly specialize. Cohesion is achieved by means of a culture, a shared narrative that replicate in the thoughts and behaviours of individuals. By forming new colonies virtually, these cultures grow, competing with others as individuals do.



Chaos refers to dynamic systems of apparently random states of disorder and irregularity that are actually governed by interconnectedness, underlying patterns and deterministic laws. The mathematical study of this is chaos theory.

scientific limitations

Science can say little about wellbeing as it is not available for scientific examination; it cannot be isolated, and is itself a function of qualities that present the same problem, such as contentment and success. To us wellbeing is something priceless, self-evident and substantive; engaging with it is unavoidable. Science however, like a computer, can only engage with something that is clearly defined, otherwise, put crudely, it results in GIGO. While E=Mc2 is the answer, if you want to know the relationship between E and M, science did not build the Atom Bomb, engineers and politicians did.
quoteleftMathematics is able to deal successfully only with the simplest of situations, more precisely, with a complex situation only to the extent that rare good fortune makes this complex situation hinge upon a few dominant simple factors. Beyond the well-traversed path, mathematics loses its bearings in a jungle of unnamed special functions and impenetrable combinatorial particularities. Thus, the mathematical technique can only reach far if it starts from a point close to the simple essentials of a problem which has simple essentials. That form of wisdom which is the opposite of single-mindedness, the ability to keep many threads in hand, to draw for an argument from many disparate sources, is quite foreign to mathematics.
Jacob Schwartz (Prof. of computer science, mathematician), in: "The Pernicious Influence of Mathematics on Science", 1992.
quoteleftIt may seem natural to think that, to understand a complex system, one must construct a model incorporating everything that one knows about the system. However sensible this procedure may seem, in biology it has repeatedly turned out to be a sterile exercise. There are two snags with it. The first is that one finishes up with a model so complicated that one cannot understand it - the point of a model is to simplify, not to confuse. The second is that if one constructs a sufficiently complex model one can make it do anything one likes by fiddling with the parameters - a model that can predict anything predicts nothing.
John Maynard Smith (theoretical evolutionary biologist, and geneticist) and Eors Szathmary (Prof. of theoretical evolutionary biology), (1999) The Origins of Life: From the Birth of Life to the Origin of Language..
No matter how transparent science is, it can always be misrepresented and then used to hide the crudest of intentions. It is abused by climate-change deniers to disguise their 'refutations' and, still, by Nazis to disguise their zenophobia. Science requires elementary reason to make sense. Reason need not then be abandoned when confronting its results. It is a choice how we behave, our ecosystem providintg countless examples of the variety of strategies that are viable.
A farmer, perplexed that his hens were not laying, called on a theoretical physicist for help. A few weeks after investigating the problem, the physicist returned with detailed calculations and announced: "I have the answer, and it holds for all spherical chicken in a vacuum."
after: A Spherical Cow. Science Magazine, 28 Dec 1973, Letter: 'Allocation of Natural Resources', letter from Stephen D. Stellman, Dept Biochem, Princeton.

T. S. Eliot, 1934, from the pageant play: 'The Rock'.

Prefatory Note to: "The Rock"
Choruses from "The Rock" by T-S. Elliott
Wikipedia The_Rock_(play).

From the poem: 'Little Gidding', written by T.S Eliot during the air-raids on Great Britain in World War II.

As illness and the war disrupted his ability to write, Eliot began work on 'Little Gidding' in February 1941. Dissatisfied with each draft, he believed that the problem was with himself and not with the poem. He finished it in September 1942. As the last in a series of four poems, that he wrote between 1936 and then, it was published in 1943 as: 'Four Quartets'.


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