Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On Synergy and Magic

Glurp said something casually a while back that I've been thinking about ever since. He said the concept of synergy was a case of magical thinking. Was he right?

As a mathematical concept, particularly in geometry, I'm convinced Buckminster Fuller proved his case that synergetics was a demonstrable law. Like Plato though, Fuller took the extra step of applying the concept to human dynamics, and it's there we may have a bit of a problem.

Is the whole greater than the sum of the parts where human beings are concerned?

My desire is to say "yes" decidedly, but then I am a compulsive magical thinker, no matter how hard I try to weed it out of me.

The problem with applying this concept to human beings is that, for all practical purposes, it's impossible to quantify either the sum of the parts or the whole, so without quantities to demonstrate your point, how does one aver (or even suggest) anything about the result of their combination?

SecondLife, as a concept, depends heavily on the theory of synergetics. We each contribute our little bit, but it's the whole that confronts us when we log on.

We celebrate the greater energy of the whole in a the classic magic thinking style of creating an idol (in the form of a human effigy) and then setting it on fire in the Burning Life (or Burning Man) celebration.

It's not hard to imagine the Burning Man statue near Stonehenge or the Temple of Apollo, with naked celebrants dancing and chanting around with with stag horns tied to their head.

Magical thinking, yes--but is it true?

I'm not actually prepared to answer that. Far greater minds have tried and failed to come up with anything unassailable.

But, in a few moments I'll log into the madness that is mainland SecondLife and I know, in my mind, the answer is "yeah, probably..."

1 comment:

  1. Darn You! You made my lil pixel brain hurt way too early today.
    In all seriousness though...
    Thanks Boyd, I'm happy to see I'm not the only one thats wakes up thinking about questions that may not have concrete answers.


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