Posts Tagged ‘chaos’

Entropy And Heat Death

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Human convention and social lore hold that we must always be vigilant for external threats: monsters from beyond, invading tyrants, alien invasion, nuclear war or world financial catastrophe.

As always with humanity, the vivid threats deflect from the prosaic reality that the threat is within. The brutal truth tells us that most human efforts fail because the people involved give in to an impulse — greed, lust, self-importance, convenience — and lose sight of the purpose, thus become agents not of their own goal but of their own misleading desires.

This shows us that while the conventional is not incorrect, it is also not the full story. Threats occur from both outside and inside our walls, but the ones inside are more likely, statistically, to carry us away or at least prepare us to fall to the external threats. We self-destruct more than experience conquest.

Perhaps the most challenging and most typical circumstances are those between two extremes. We are oblivious to some facet of reality, so a parasite or enemy takes advantage of it, defeating us through our insistence on paying attention to something other than the task at hand and the rules of nature, logic, mathematics, information or the divine.

Focus requires constant re-investment of energy in something that is invisible. If you are working, and produce objects, even if they are useless, everyone in the crowd can say you are doing your part. If you are investing time and energy in avoiding change or decay to the present tense, then most people have no use for that, because they do not realize that without your work, decay would win.

When we are athletes, soldiers, musicians or other high-performance roles, it is understood that daily effort must be spent to avoid losing ground one has won in terms of ability. But for civilization itself? No such thing is permissible to expend, because the rest of them will not understand, and upon seeing you do nothing they recognize as necessary, will begin doing nothing.

Thus it is that human populations become vulnerable to entropy, or the process by which too many possible directions make choices difficult if not impossible:

Entropy, the measure of a system’s thermal energy per unit temperature that is unavailable for doing useful work. Because work is obtained from ordered molecular motion, the amount of entropy is also a measure of the molecular disorder, or randomness, of a system. The concept of entropy provides deep insight into the direction of spontaneous change for many everyday phenomena.

We have to look critically to see how this works: thermal energy (potential) per unit, measured in temperature, refers to the advantage to any choice in terms of heat. When a choice offers wide variance, or inequality, then some choices return a huge amount of energy, and others return less. When they are made equal, every choice returns the same, and so the process of choosing itself breaks down, and with it, the incentive to do anything.

This quickly leads to a condition known as heat death, where the lack of potential advantage to any particular choice makes the selection of options random, since any is as good as any other. Heat death causes complex systems to break down from a lack of purpose to any given choice:

For any system to be capable of producing useful work, there needs to be disequilibrium, a difference in potential. For a mill-race to turn a water-wheel, the water must flow downhill over the wheel. If the water on one side of the wheel is at the same level as on the other — that is, the parts of the system are at equilibrium — then nothing will happen. When the potential gradient inside a flashlight battery reaches zero, the battery is dead.

Without that disequilibrium, where one choice wins bigger than another, no motion happens and energy dissipates through a lack of ability to keep it in motion. An acceleration in entropy eventually begets heat death, much as when a society looks inward and stops having a purpose related to the external world, all choices become about the same.

Look at our world. You can take just about any job, and some will earn you more money than others, but you will still be there for most of your life, dealing with similar problems. You can live anywhere, but eventually some idiot will destroy that place, combining your school system with that of the poor kids across the tracks, building shopping malls and apartments, running in new freeways.

It all becomes the same in the bigger measurement of things, which we refer to as “existential.” If we have some purpose, our actions are not random, but designed to end up fulfilling that purpose, therefore converge on a few basic notions, which reduces entropy. With purpose, each action is ranked by how well it succeeds, which creates the inequality necessary to avoid heat death.

When thinking about such things, we translate them into temperature, but really, they reflect differences in information — patterns, essentially — associated with each choice. Thermodynamics provides a way of understanding the world through its underlying mathematics, as expressed in patterns, that shows us the order of life in a way that material existence never could.

In other words, we can measure entropy by the amount of variation between reality and our actions. The more we are realistic, the less chaos we introduce and thus, the farther from heat death we are; the more we are humanistic, or focused on individualism and its extension into the social group and process of socializing, the farther we are from purpose, and the more entropy we retain.

Our modern — from the age of ideology, or egalitarian — society seems to be designed around entropy-as-a-virtue. This makes sense, because the more entropy there is, the less any individual is likely to suffer consequences for his actions. Heat death is his ideal because when no action has consequences, any action is permissible, and in this energyless disorder, the individual feels he is safe from social judgment or Darwinistic consequences.

The non-modern style of acting toward purpose at first seems inefficient because there is always a shorter path to material reward, comfort, convenience and the mental stability that arises from a lack of social threats. But in the mathematics of the universe, the modern style brings nothing but a grey void, while from the non-modern style, infinite colors emerge, but they reflect order, and not the chaos of individuals expressing themselves to a sky they believe is empty in a universe where no purpose can be discovered.

Huntington Won The Battle Of Ideas, And Defined Our Future

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

Back in the 1990s, there was debate over our future as a species. One writer, Francis Fukuyama, opined that since all other systems had failed, liberal democracy would be the pattern of human dwelling from that point onward. Another, Samuel Huntington, wrote that humans were motivated by existential need more than compromise, and so our future would be one of clashing tribalism.

Naturally, there was nuance. Fukuyama is perceptive, and basing his argument in Nietzsche’s concept of “the end of history,” he immediately revealed his reluctance to embrace this future as wholly positive. Huntington, for his part, suggested that each tribe would find a political system which matched its cultural needs. And so the complexity deepens.

Almost everyone paying attention realizes that we are right now in the midst of a massive shift of history. The old way has fallen apart; the new way has not yet become clear, but the many failures of the old path suggest that we need to go in an entirely different direction. This resurrects the debate over which of these writers was more correct.

Fukuyama gives us an insight into human decision-making that endures, even if liberal democracy does not:

But whether Fukuyama’s neo-Hegelianism is plausible is not the most interesting aspect of his thesis. For throughout his analysis, Fukuyama insisted on the centrality of thymos (the Greek for ‘spiritedness’), or recognition, to human psychology: what Thomas Hobbes called pride, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau labelled amour propre. This denotes the need to be liked and respected by other people, and to have that recognition outwardly affirmed – if necessary, extracting it by force. Some human beings, Fukuyama thought, are always going to be inherently competitive and greedy for recognition. Some will therefore always vie to be thought of as the best – and others will resent them for that, and vie back. This has the potential to cause a lot of trouble. Human beings demand respect, and if they don’t feel that they are getting it, they break things – and people – in response.

It was this psychological feature of people, Fukuyama claimed, that guaranteed that although we might have reached the end of History, there was nothing to be triumphalist about. Just because humans could do no better than liberal capitalist democracy – could progress to no form of society that contained fewer inherent conflicts and contradictions – it didn’t mean that the unruly and competitive populations of such societies would sit still and be content with that. Late capitalist modernity might be the highest civilisational point we could achieve, because it contained the fewest contradictions. But there was strong reason to suspect that we’d slide off the top, back into History, down into something worse.

In other words, Fukuyama rejected the Hegelian notion of dialectical materialism that saw the zigs and zags of history as converging on an ideal, and instead saw a pattern of reduction to compromise, by which we retained that which was least likely to cause chaos. In this view, the indecisiveness of liberal democracy is its saving grace.

What hovers in the wings is the idea, common to all conservatives, that history is cyclic or composed of repeating patterns which have an apex, then deviation, and finally a return to order. Any theory of golden ages and dark ages bears out this concept, which is that we stumble into bad times by denying what we know of the good, and then must fight to recover that lost wisdom.

This presents an interesting dilemma, which is that by the cyclic view of history, “compromise” is an artifact of the death cycle and not the resurrection of life (think of winter turning to spring). Compromise is what one does when losing and trying to minimize further loss. Fukuyama’s skepticism is well-merited in that context.

On the other hand, Huntington argued that a spiritual and cultural revolution based in the need for meaning would drive humanity to a new dark age leading to the resurrection of classical orders of civilization:

The political scientist Samuel Huntington predicted that the post-Cold War world would be dominated by a “clash of civilizations,” and even the most sanguine observer will admit that recent years have seen more than a few chaotic civilizational clashes. The shifting and fragile alliances between the scores of nations and organizations active in the Middle East, for example, show chaos at its “best” (or worst). War has brought its own chaos and, by displacing millions, has brought the chaos of a refugee crisis to even the most comfortable and complacent nations of the West. Nor is the rest of world immune from international chaos, which seems to constantly take on new forms and create new problems.

…Confucianism and Taoism represent two opposite paradigms of responses to personal and social chaos. Confucius saw chaos and tried to approach it, to master and control it, to tame and pacify it. Laozi (the founder of Taoism) saw chaos and tried to avoid it, to flee from and ignore it, and even sometimes to surrender to its inevitability. Psychologists and physiologists who have studied behavioral responses to threats would identify the well-known “fight or flight” reactions embodied in these philosophical traditions. Confucianism is the philosophy of fighting chaos, and Taoism is the philosophy of flight from chaos.

In these two extremes we see echoes of Nietzsche’s analysis of the Apollonian and Dionysian approaches. Apollo strives for order; Dionysius revels in chaos and indefinable impulses like hedonism and aesthetics. What seems lost is the recognition that chaos is a part of order.

When one desires an effect, it is necessary to look through history to discover its cause, which often does not resemble the effect at all. In Huntington, the desire to escape rigid human order and assert the need for meaning — a property of the individual in interaction with civilization and world, not of the individual alone — shows us chaos leading to order, guided only by logical analysis which realizes that what humans consider “order” is most often a cause of chaos.

In this view, liberal democracy is the last effort of a dying trend to replace what makes human life meaningful with laws guided by our intentions and the presumption of equality. We want good effects, but cannot look into the causes for them, such as tribalism or natural selection. This leads to us creating the chaos of the death cycle, but at some point, that chaos reverses.

The human spirit bounces back, once enough of us see the decay, to want to thrive again instead of merely trying to hold back the ruin. We admit that failure happened, that we have hit rock bottom, and recognize that we have to rebuild. At that point, we start working to overthrow the “order” that has oppressed us, leading to revolution.

Some would say that civil war is upon us but this misses the broader context that Huntington illustrates:

There is no form of legal authority that the left accepts as a permanent institution. It only utilizes forms of authority selectively when it controls them. But when government officials refuse the orders of the duly elected government because their allegiance is to an ideology whose agenda is in conflict with the President and Congress, that’s not activism, protest, politics or civil disobedience; it’s treason.

…Our system of government was designed to allow different groups to negotiate their differences. But those differences were supposed to be based around finding shared interests. The most profound of these shared interests was that of a common country based around certain civilizational values. The left has replaced these Founding ideas with radically different notions and principles. It has rejected the primary importance of the country. As a result it shares little in the way of interests or values.

In the Huntingtonian view, therein lies the problem: we are trying to make different groups equal. They cannot be; they desire different types of societies. Those on the Left desire a third-world style anarchy, and those on the Right want a civilization that thrives and moves qualitatively toward greatness. Those views are incompatible.

Human intentions lead us to try to force life to produce good outcomes on the level of effect, but because we deny causes because they are beyond the level of intention, we then create enduring conflict. Leftists and Rightists cannot coexist in the same society. We have been doing so because the Right has been in retreat because Leftism is always more popular, until it collapses.

Now as the collapse begins to filter in through many different angles, we see that coexistence cannot occur. There is no equality, least of all between those who want civilization and those who want subsistence living. The two must separate. And in doing so, we will restart the cycle at a point shortly before its golden age.

In this new history, those who want civilization will separate from the rest and send those others to dwell among those of like mind in the third world. Tribal groupings will reform, and the old alliances will be restored such that related groups act together for mutual benefit. Caste, hierarchy and strong cultural rule instead of the police state will return.

To the modern mind, this will be a new dark age born of chaos because there will not be rules reflecting human intent such as equality, pluralism, tolerance, socializing and individualism in this new age. Instead there will be only realism, stark and yet providing the best results because it understands reality instead of denying it, and an impulse toward goodness that defines the start of a cycle.

Diversity Is Neurotic Chaos

Monday, December 12th, 2016

Cesar Barreira teaches at a Brazilian University. This particular institution features a Violence Studies Lab. It’s well placed. Only UMBC or Johns Hopkins would have a more convenient source of violence data near at hand. People like to delude themselves that violence is senseless. It’s not. Chaos gets solved. He makes sense of the “senseless violence” below.

“A lynching is a communal act in response to a sense of impotence,” Barreira said. “It’s a hunt for an infection inside a social group.”

If lynch mobs are organized to cauterize a social infection, than Brazil should teem with them. The place is an open sore that suppurates the pus of public and private corruption. The President has been impeached and much of the Congress is under some sort of legal blackmail/jeopardy. Official authority is behaving worse than the common denominator of Brazilian citizens. The citizens naturally take after their leaders and the law enforcement is typically no less corrupt than its leadership.

This chaos comes from a total lack of any concern for these people’s well being. The people figure this out. Then they go full Twisted Sister, and it’s Street Justice time. This chaos is often caused by rapid injections of un-asked-for diversity. The Turkish Minute describes how taking in three million Syrian refugees has angered the Turkish people.

Although the exact number is unknown, some 3 million Syrians have taken refuge in Turkey since a civil war broke out in 2011. Syrians are often exploited by employees as cheap labor, and Syrian children have been documented as working in textile plants in several places across Turkey.

This has led to problems for the indigenous population of Turkey.

According to questions asked to 1,224 people, 91 percent of respondents believe they have difficulty finding jobs because of refugees, while 94 percent believe rents are on the rise because of Syrians in Turkey…72 percent of respondents say they are uncomfortable encountering refugees. Eighty-three percent of Istanbulites even believe that epidemics are on rise because of Syrians. Similarly, 86 percent of respondents claim that crime rates have increased due to the Syrians’ presence in Turkey as well as a rise in begging on the streets of Istanbul.

So Turkey is essentially now on the brink of becoming a dumpster fire. President Edrogan has declared a “state of emergency” that pretty much makes him a dictator and has locked up tens of thousands of malcontents. Turkey, for all intents and purposes, is no longer a democracy.

But it is not just Turkey. All across Europe, wherever diversity has been tried, it has resulted in failed states wracked with violence, corruption and crime. Britain, Italy and Austria have revolted against this, but the elites — who gain their power by acting under the aegis of feel-good warm-kumbaya notions like “social justice,” “civil rights” and “equality” — are unwilling to give up the throne. They rule as tyrants as their empires collapse around them.

In Central and South America, similar mass migrations have heavily unbalanced populations and destroyed social order. This is why people are stealing to feed their families in Venezuela. It is why the people being robbed then attempt to burn the thieves alive. When order fails, what seems like chaos returns through violence against the symptoms of the dysfunction.

With no social order, only disorder remains as a recourse for removing the failed order and getting started on a new one. There is a cycle between chaos and order, and only violence stops the chaos of a dead order. At that point, the failure can be pushed aside, and those who still have the will to live can restart the process of civilization.

Investment Strategies For Conservatives (#3)

Thursday, July 21st, 2016


Pete Morrici of Newsmax is predicting a thirty-three percent increase in the stock market. Despite a paltry 200-some-odd-thousand jobs being created monthly, rampant social disorder, stagnant wages, stagnant productivity, and very low rates of money velocity, that is.

Morrici claims that stock multiples could well shoot up from eighteen percent times earnings on average now to 24 times earnings. His theory is based on the idea that the economy will expand at 2.5 percent in the seconnd quarter and that corporate profits will be up thirty percent or so next year. If the US economy is so great then why is hiring at such low levels? and why does the Fed maintain silly low interest rates that don’t compare to private sector loans? And what about the $500 billion in debt? how would the GDP look without that borrowed spending?

The Austrian school of economics would say that there is so much government intervention that it is worsening the natural balance of supply and demand in things. Businesses which should have perished (under normal interest rates) and been devoured in bankruptcy court have been kept on life support for far too long. It is time to pull the plug and let the free market do its job. That’s how we will get higher rates of productivity. Only when we have more productivity (as well as a more level playing field in terms of currency wars and market barriers) will we see real wage increases. It is time to cut the fat not in terms of firing workers, but by slashing crummy companies with too much debt and not enough profits (Chesapeake Energy, Groupon, Znyga, and probably a few junior miners for example) to just go bye-bye for a change.

While it is true that left wing Kenysian central banks are pumping funny money out at light speed rates, it is also true that this is having very little effect on the streets or on the level of the average person. Civil unrest from Paris to Italy to all over the United States as well as global terrorism dominates the news. Saber rattling from Russia, China, North Korea, and NATO are no laughing matter either. The US already is fighting a proxy war versus Russia in Ukraine, as well as losing to ISIS in the middle east and to Al-Qaeda in Africa. Europe is divided and tanking under socialism.

It seems odd that many articles are now having rosy predictions for the economy all the sudden. A month or two the overall sentiment towards stocks seemed pretty negative, and now that it’s been a pretty horrible summer politically on a global scale the S&P has crossed some magic line in the sand and now we are getting market happiness propaganda on a daily basis. Perhaps this is all part of some larger attempt to buttress the case that liberals manage the economy so well, and to gloss over the fact that the whole world is basically going to hell in a handbasket under liberal rule. Some people might fall for this old shell-game act — but we here at recognize that the whole market is a bit overpriced.

If someone held a gun to my head I would be aggressive and buy some Smith and Wesson stock. Trading at eighteen times earnings it’s priced like an average stock. What I like about it is that this stock value definitely seems to increase when national and world events go downhill. Ironically, when new gun control laws are suggested that also creates runs on the gun stores since people want to snatch up the models before they are banned.

Smith and Wesson is a time tested brand name that controls a decent share of the gun market. It has a balance sheet that is simple to understand. and earnings growth will likely be revised to the upside. Some stock-brokers I have dealt with in the past find it to be a morally repugnant stock and didn’t want to put my order through for it. That’s not the way I see things. It’s a nice simple-to-understand business model which should be set for growth in the coming quarters.

On the downside, class-action lawsuits are one of the big things to look out for with a stock such as this. Also since this stock and the stock market are near the top of their trading range it may be best to buy a little of this stock every few months. That way if by chance there is a decline one will not have bought in at the top. But on the whole, this stock is a great way to insulate yourself against the coming disorder and profit from the ensuing chaos.

The fruit of equality

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015


Most people identity George Orwell’s 1984 with a warning about the dangers of totalitarianism. Read more closely, the book serves as a warning about political instability brought on by popular sentiment.

The political authority in the book is IngSoc, short for English Socialism. Citizens are herded into activities like Two Minutes Hate that remind us of corporate team-bonding activities today. Telescreens watch for dissidents. The root of the problem here is not the control itself, but that it is needed.

In the same way, we live in the ruins of equality now. Equality as a concept is like a virus, using altruism as its approach and reductionism as its weapon. Once allowed into a society, it spreads like a cancer, demanding the “democratization” of all things. First we engage in class warfare to make ability levels equal, then equalize the sexes, and finally bring in the third-world labor as equals.

Equality swallows up all other ideas. If you are an environmentalist, you must work equality into your platform; to make the two work together, environmentalism must not tell anyone what to do — unless they are at the levels above equal, at which point they must be punished to benefit others. If you are an architect, your buildings must emphasize equality; scientists must consider all people to be identical molds that serve as interchangeable parts with no biological differences.

Since equality is a fantasy, and if people were actually equal society would quickly disintegrate, equality serves as the perfect control virus. You either obey and go insane, or resist and are marginalized and eventually destroyed. Since the price of success is accepting nonsense as reality, actual competence becomes secondary. This creates a society, headless and out of control, careening toward oblivion…

Returning to 1984, we can read Orwell’s pugnacious analysis of liberalism:

But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.

In his view, it is a pure power trip. The joy of subjugating others with ideology and having the ability to abuse them drives these people. He creates this in parallel to the hate rallies that keep people bonded to government:

The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.

This is what drives the egalitarians. From SJWs gangrushing employers to coerce them into firing employees with controversial opinions, to the mainstream media attacking Donald Trump for even mentioning immigration, all of leftism is an addiction to the power of harming others. It is the rise of those who cannot do much against those who can, and their desire to humiliate, subvert, sabotage and enslave the can-doers. It is human envy, resentment and fear enshrined into a false “goodness” that gives its members license to destroy whatever they want for the brief thrill of power and feeling of superiority.

Even 1984 is infected with this crowd madness. The only conclusion one can come away with from the book is that the crowd is mad, but they can be controlled through “freedom” instead of power-lust. What Brave New World points out, but 1984 missed, is that the root of power-lust is the drive to freedom and individualism. People seek power with their freedom because they lack actual purpose, and because through egalitarianism and assuming that everyone is the same, we have empowered mob rule instead of leadership by the wise and capable.

Physics provides a metaphor here. As written about by Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLilo, modernity consists of chaos: a pretense of order, with people in states of zombie-like panic acting out their individual desires at the expense of the rest. With equality comes chaos, or a lack of cooperation between people, which results in infinite activities of a perverse, distracting, pointless or destructive nature. The concept of entropy comes into play here because it states that, over time, options proliferate.

As more options become available, it becomes less likely that any particular one will be selected; entropy increases. Eventually a state is reached called heat-death where all options are equally the same in value and likelihood of being selected, at which point selection itself shuts down. There is no point doing anything. And so the system drains energy and becomes dead, much like the senescent Soviet Union and now, the modern US-EU axis. Equality creates individualism which creates chaos and ends in a state of paralysis.

If I could leave you with one image, it will be this: that boot smashing into the human face — since not all humans are equal, and most are unable to control themselves, most faces should be smashed by the boot so they do not do the same to the rest of us and doom all of society. Most people are doomed to disappointment by their own inability to control their desires and impulses, but not all of us should go down together, although it appears that “unity” is the goal of liberalism.

When warriors become meek

Sunday, September 27th, 2015


In the West, we became weak as a society the minute we legitimized interruptions over purpose. Think about your day in this modern world: many small interruptions, subdividing every task into shorter and shorter pieces, each one less related to the others with each additional interruption, in addition to become simplified and the reason for its existence forgotten.

This is what egalitarianism does: it interrupts any clear intent with infinite small objections and exceptions because it associates people with importance of function, rather than function itself. A bureaucrat must announce himself as often as possible to show his importance; hipsters must make as much noise as possible to demonstrate their validity; everyday people must bungle, move slowly and otherwise interrupt flow in order to feel alive. Every act possible is thwarted by phone calls, advertisements, visitors, queries and paperwork; every simple task involves obtaining permission, filing forms and extensive background study to fit into the bureaucratic model. But, if we were not to do these things, they would not be accessible to all, which means both “equal” opportunity through bureaus and dumbed-down to the point where Beavis and Butthead can (but won’t) do it.

Aggression is seen as objectionable. Conflict is minimized through compromise and subsidies. Buy off the disenchanted; what do we care, it is only another hour or two in interruption. The lack of actual power means that people are always defending their power, so every staffer must show up to every meeting to maintain the illusion that they were “kept in the loop.” Every person must compete with others to be important, so the walls, screens, floors and even foreheads are covered in advertising. Each one wants to be different, so chooses ludicrous outfits and even less sensible hobbies to distinguish themselves. The Crowd reveals its face subtly, but pervasively.

In contrast, what builds good healthy people? Concentration. Dedication to task, learning it on their own and not with prompting from thousands of memorized rules. A warrior in particular treasures his concentration. It is how he goes from nothing to achieving an objective often with very little on his side. Consciousness itself is a commodity that our society does not recognize yet we need it to create anything better than mediocrity. Could it be that the war for interruptions is in fact a war against concentration, so that mediocrity is “safe” for those who fear they are less than equal? Leaders become sheep, warriors become meek, and only those with something to hide in the chaos are happy.

When looking at politics, it is important remember that cause->effect reasoning is about our only accurate guide. Every bad thing you see has a cause which is not necessarily “near” it visually or how you associate details. White suicide, for example, does not start with race, but far from it in the class warfare and egalitarianism that turned life in the West into a neurotic hell. Miserable, the people began to die out, and their leaders — probably in the midst of constant interruptions and unable to think anyway — opted to replace them with more convenient people. It is the type of distracted, neurotic and solipsistic decision-making that defines this time.

Chaos and Order: Complex Dynamics in Literature and Science edited by N. Katherine Hayles

Saturday, September 26th, 2009


This volume of essays tied together by an introductory contribution by its editor displays an early attempt by the postmodern camp to attempt to find a sensible intellectual structure to the diverse, bizarre, and often incoherent tenets of chaos theory. It does so through a multidisciplinary approach which results in a metaphorical understanding which expands the underlying science into the edges of practicality.

Essays in Chaos and Order: Complex Dynamics in Literature and Science attempts to link representations of natural order in literature with philosophical concepts gestured to by aspects of the new found discipline of chaos science, chasing through fractal patterns and scatter diagrams to find common threads which exemplify the beginnings of a new idealism. What emerges is a group of people attempting to find structure outside of the modernist (Judeo-Christian industrialist) symbolism that constrains our thoughts at the initial levels of our processing, forcing us to react to taboo and/or praise necessary egalitarian principles; this quest for reason is met with problems as the authors, like most in this field, attempt to use the iconographic principles of the modernist era to prove their points.

This approach works – up until the final stage of analysis – at which point no larger abstractions can be drawn, and the entire work collapses in the mumbling incoherence of an intriguing conversation heard through a crowd: fragments of brilliance and the most mundane conclusion of all, a lack of cohesion enough to produce some finite conclusions. Academia after all functions by applying known theory to new ideas, which both expands theory and forces new ideas into variations on older formats. This approach is both conservative, working from archetypes, and liberal, or making speculative conjectures a basis for future theory.

As a book of essays, Chaos and Order: Complex Dynamics in Literature and Science demonstrates great internal variation and some essays rise above the rest. The book as a whole strikes a balance between intriguing topics and social affirmations which in the end tips toward indecision, but does so in a way that connects (linguistically, conceptually) chaos theory to other disciplines. The result is masterfully written by people who enjoy both the process of writing and academic study, and highlights emerging ideas and language constructions which will be a large part of defining future scholarship.

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