SMALLER PICTURE vs BIGGER PICTURE
Ingo Swann (14Oct98)
SOME STRUCTURAL CHARACTERISTICS OF SMALLER PICTURES
As alluded to in earlier essays, quite compelling evidence indicates that the superpowers "belong" within a bigger picture that incorporates the whole of our species. The evidence is historical, anthropological and archaeological in nature, although the field of archaeology tends to avoid and smooth over much in this regard.
Additionally, if the existence of genetic memory is entertained, then certain kinds of evidence that otherwise cannot be explained could possibly be acknowledged.
This bigger picture evidence somewhat flies in the face of modernist conventional ideas that the superpowers are merely representative of various social or mental artifacts, and as such have little authentic existence.
However, while it is true that different social formats assign different nomenclature to the various types of superpower faculties, the structural functioning of the superpowers is remarkably consistent on the world-wide species basis.
As but two examples, what we call intuition and future-seeing are found world-wide, even if they are dressed in different local social metaphor, terminology and lore.
The unavoidable implication is thus quite clear: that the superpowers belong not within finite, smaller-picture social collectives which can be so different in many ways; rather, the superpower faculties belong within the bigger-picture supersystems that demonstrate FUNDAMENTAL or CORE samenesses throughout our species.
Here it is useful to reprise the most convenient definition of the superpowers as those human faculties that transcend the known "laws" of physicality including space and time, and matter and energy.
By far and large, the superpower faculties have to do with information-transfer—and as such they are found well within the bigger-picture aspects of our species intelligence, awareness, and meaning-recognition supersystems, and which are shared world-wide across time and the bio-physical generations.
As it is, though, the universal Human World (as its called) is a very big world quite overloaded with all kinds of natural, artificial and local social differences.
Because of this, the differences tend to assume often overwhelming importance—with the outcome that the universal human world is observed and studied within the confines of the differences that are NOT universal.
Anything that demonstrates the existence of confines can be assumed to constitute some kind of smaller picture—and this even if the picture looms large from within the confines.
As it is, the human world contains many confines (i.e., frames of reference.) Thus, the human world has a rather vivid abundance of smaller pictures. So, by the nature of all things, most specimens of our species are more or less forced to accustomize and operate within the local smaller pictures in which they dwell.
As mentioned earlier, many recognize this aspect of the human world. If it thence seems important to do so, many try the tactic of escaping the confines of the smaller pictures.
But this often results merely in taking on the trappings of other smaller pictures that seem alluringly bigger, but in fact might not be. This tactic can have something in common with escaping a local set of ordinances and replacing it with another local set.
If one studies the nature of the superpower faculties, an important clue to their activation and development can emerge.
By their TRANSCENDING nature, the superpowers faculties don’t care very much for confines and sets of ordinances. And so, when they spontaneously emerge, they stubbornly transcend those, too.
One of the important implications of this particular clue is that escape from smaller picture confines can actually be quite meaningless IF the transcending superpowers remain inactivated.
Thus, escape might be a perceived duty in some cases, but there are important distinctions to be made between mere escape and the processes of transcending.
As a general rule of thumb, however, one can neither escape nor transcend unless one comprehends the nature of whatever is being escaped or transcended.
In the case of smaller pictures, it is easy enough to escape their cultural or social CONTENT. But smaller pictures also have a STRUCTURAL aspect that almost always remains invisible.
One possible metaphor for this is that the CONTENT of a smaller picture consists of the decor and furnishings of a room. The decor and furnishings can be changed in fashionable or trendy ways.
However, the room is in its building, and the building can be referred to as STRUCTURAL.
In any event, smaller pictures have to hang together upon and because of something. Otherwise, their content would soon dissipate into the non-structured ethers.
The question thus before us here has to do with how smaller pictures are structured in a fundamental sense, and what are some of the characteristics of the structuring.
As earlier mentioned, a smaller picture is most identifiable not by what it contains, but by what it DOESN’T.
In this sense, then, the smaller picture is STRUCTURED so as NOT to contain something or whatever.
This aspect of smaller pictures, however, is broadly understood—and is one of the reasons many opt to escape from them. The picture doesn’t contain whatever one wants or is searching for (bigger knowledge, for example), and so one attempts to go elsewhere to try to find the whatever.
There are a number of anatomical structural elements regarding HOW and WHY smaller pictures become formulated.
Four of these particular structural elements (or dynamics) are discussed below, with others discussed elsewhere.
The two most familiar structural elements regarding smaller pictures have to do with various modalities of REDUCTIONISM and CONFORMISM.
Although these modalities, in different formats, are recognizable from antiquity onward, they also became glowing hallmarks of the twentieth century sciences, most of its major philosophies, and overall sociological adventures and experiments.
A full part of the world drama of the twentieth century centers on the arising of and escapes from modernist reductionism and conformism, and a rich literature was produced in this regard.
Lurking just behind reductionism and conformism, however, are two additional smaller-picture-making factors that are seldom identified and examined.
These are (1) UNIFORMISM (so unidentified, indeed, that the term doesn’t exist); and (2) DEPRIVATION OF KNOWLEDGE.
The term UNIFORMISM is not found in any dictionary, and is also not considered as a thing-in-itself in any philosophical or sociological context.
However, the term UNIFORMIST does exist, albeit only in the OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY, wherein it is defined as "an advocate of or believer in a uniform system, especially in respect of religious doctrine or observance."
As an aside here, why the Oxford Dictionary singles out religious factors in this regard is a complete mystery—in that one can discover uniformists of all waters everywhere pounding away whether subtly or stridently.
In any event, in that ISM is defined as "a distinctive doctrine, cause or theory," then wherever ISTs are found their ISMs are not far behind. Indeed, it is questionable that an IST could exist in the absence of the ISM to advocate or believe in.
Since they have different contexts, it is worthwhile reprising the definitions established for UNIFORM to help provide for increase of clarity:
Having always the same form, manner, or degree; not varying or variable.
Of the same form with others; conforming to one rule or code; consonant.
Presenting an undiversified appearance of surface, color.
Consistent in conduct or opinion.
Two slight, but temporary, difficulties surface in seeking to utilize the term UNIFORM.
First, the term is most popularly aligned with styles of dress, costume, or body decor, and not only of the military or ceremonial kind.
Second, the term UNIFORMITARIANISM has been claimed on behalf of geology as "the geological doctrine that existing processes acting in the same manner as at present are sufficient to account for all geological changes." (In this sense, a UNIFORMITARIAN is "a believer in uniformitarianism; an advocate in uniformity.")
To help sort through the latter definition, it should be noted that uniformitarianism as a geological doctrine is more or less defunct today. But the doctrine seems to have had its origins in a kind of pre-modern period when, in defiance of evidence otherwise, it was assumed that nothing fell from the sky to Earth’s surface. The doctrine also held that all significant geological changes were SLOW ones, and that the changes proceeded within this slowness within averaging uniformity.
The above slight discussion has relevance to the nature of philosophical and scientific UNIFORMISM—which, of course, would have to be somewhat intolerant of any change at all, whether slow or fast. SLOW, however, is a major construct within UNIFORMISM, since slowness is least likely to "threaten" any brand of the ism.
As it is, outside of the concept of "making the fast buck," it is difficult in the human world to find any other context that has vested interests in FAST change. Indeed, if things change quickly all of the time, then the changes tend to become redundantly meaningless—and boring.
If the foregoing comments are slowly considered, then it can become apparent that, on average, there exists within the multifaceted human world some kind of general predilection for slow uniformisms.
However, the desired uniformity (whatever it might consist of) can be achieved only by lopping of whatever can’t be made uniform.
It thus would follow that if what is lopped off doesn’t exactly go away, but persists in flopping about anyway, then active measures need to be designed so as to discredit it and its meanings.
In the overall contexts of the on-going human world, this means that the work of uniformists is never done—because it takes careful work to keep things uniform.
Lopping of what doesn’t fit into this or that ostensible uniformity is, of course, one of the all-time greatest and most popular ways to commence small-picture construction.
For whatever the reasons, the energies of our species for such kinds of projects are considerable, and so our history is appropriately littered with monuments to this or that kind of uniformity.
In the hypothetical sense of the foregoing, then, reductionism, conformity, and deprivation of knowledge are vehicles via which uniformists seek to achieve their lopping off goals.
But here we reach something quite difficult to articulate and grok.
On the surface of the uniformism issues, one might at first think that the goals of uniformists are to achieve the greater glories of the particular uniformism in which they are indulging themselves.
If this would be the case, then there are often various kinds of pride and ennobling purposes involved.
However, this is certainly only one side of the coin regarding all kinds of uniformism. If any given uniformism is to succeed and prevail, the obverse side of the coin has to be become vigilantly aware of whatever might disrupt or threaten it.
It then follows that whatever any disruption might consist of (such as facts and phenomena inconvenient, for example), it is fated to undergo attempted extinguishment—even if knowledge is cast askew and suffers as a result.
Now, as already pointed up, the concept of uniformism is unfamiliar—and so its workings and mechanisms are left unidentified and unexamined. In partial explanation of this, anyone can look around and perceive much that is not uniform.
Another reason is that the concept of conformity gets so much limelight attention that the conformity itself is taken to constitute THE problem. However, conformity always exists in regard TO something, and the TO something is almost always some kind of uniformism.
In this sense, any given conformity consists of a smaller picture of some kind.
None the less, concepts that are unfamiliar always at first tend to be imprecise and thus to become surrounded by fogs of ambiguity until the functioning dynamics concealed in the ambiguities are more clearly identified. The concept of UNIFORM itself is a good example of this.
The first recorded usage of UNIFORM in English dates from 1623 when it was utilized as IN UNIFORM—this defined as "in one body or flock." IN UNIFORM seems to have been utilized in the context of "Our sheepe shall fear no Wolfe, or suddaine storme; But goe and come all safe in uniform."
The above is indicated as obsolete in the Oxford Dictionary—which is astonishing, largely because the activities of going and coming in one flock are redundantly present everywhere.
In any event, the above usage was obviously intended to refer to a major sociological premise-cum-model, in that the sheep members of the flock were to be herded in inform ways—while at the same time those ways included the protection of the sheep from Wolfes and suddaine stormes, presumably by eradicating the former and guarding against the latter.
This sociological model has indeed produced a large number of very impressive social structures and institutions (some not all that beneficent on behalf of the sheep). Thus, the concept-premise of IN UNIFORM really should be dredged up and considered in some depth and seriousness. Here, however, it’s possible only to reconstruct a nut-shell examination, expanding piecemeal in other essays.
For starters, the metaphor of sheep always directly implies the existence of herders. So at first take, the nature and character of the herders assumes limelight importance, and a good deal of fuss and bother of various kinds has always gone on in this regard.
However, at the bottom line of this sociological model, the herders haven’t much to herd if, in the first instance, there are not sheep to go and come in uniform.
Thus, if this sociological model is to be workable, the sheep FIRST have somehow to be provided or acquired so that not only will the herders have something to do, but also live up to their job of eradicating Wolves and guarding against suddaine stormes that might cast the sheep-flock asunder.
If the internal dynamics of this model are groked, it can easily be diagrammed envisioned as a self-contained social system with the sheep and herders inside the perimeters and all else outside of them.
Even so, inside the perimeters the sheep remain of central importance. Attendant upon, and intimately integrated into, this importance is the matter of how and wherefrom the sheep are not only to be provided or acquired, but how their on-going population is to be maintained AND guaranteed.
At first sight, THIS factor seems very complex, indeed. But it can speedily be illuminated by the sheep metaphor itself.
Sheep are universally considered as dumb animals, and hence the sheep metaphor serves not only as the universal symbol of dumbness, but its archetype, too.
In this regard, it is not too much to say that the sheep metaphor cuts like a meat clever through ALL of the implications of the second essay in this little series—in which it is posited that the chief characteristic of our species has to do with the fact that it is, by any measure, a superlative intelligence-system.
In any event, where sheep are required, ways and means have to be undertaken to guarantee their existence and on-going presence.
At first glance, how their existence and on-going presence is to be achieved might seem as if it needs some kind of monumental and intricate solution.
However, IF this intricacy was the case, then many of the ostensible herders might find themselves inadequate to the purpose and quickly beached on its complexities.
The major solution is far more simple and easy to effect, and is neatly enunciated in the concept having to do with the deprivation of knowledge already mentioned.
In this sense (and as almost anyone can self-discover), it is far more easy to effect various kinds of deprivation of knowledge than it is to erect any kind of it. Thus, the task of the herders is not all that taxing and arduous.
It now would follow that sheep, in order to be and remain as sheep, need only to be deprived of the specific kinds of knowledge that would shift their sheep status to something else—specifically with regard to the overall IN UNIFORM context upon which this kind of social edifice is mounted.
Indeed, it’s not too much to say that sheep can be identified not by what knowledge they have, but by the knowledge they are deprived of.
If this would be the case, then it would follow that there can be various echelons of sheepness through and through this kind of social structure, including up and through the top of it. Even the topmost herders can stand more completely revealed by virtue of the knowledge they are deprived of.
The foregoing attempted nutshelling of course leaves much unaccounted for. But one of the more astonishing (if revolting) factors of this has to do with the apparent fact that deprivation of knowledge can be managed IN UNIFORM kinds of ways, and that the entire social structure can conform to the deprivation.
At this point, it is worth mentioning the nuance distinctions between (1) the absence of knowledge, and (2) the deprivation of knowledge.
On average, and in some aspects, these two contexts might amount to the same thing.
But ABSENT is defined as "not present or attending; missing."
DEPRIVE is defined as "to take something away from; to withhold something from."
Thus, deprivation of knowledge has to do with something that is knowledgeable, but which is none the less taken away or withheld FROM."
Obviously, a deprivation of knowledge cannot be effected unless there is already a good idea of what the knowledge consists of.
Equally obviously, then, deprivation of knowledge is effected and engineered mostly because it is UNDERSTOOD to have direct negative implications regarding the supposed integrity of this or that uniformism.
The broader social contexts of all of the foregoing are, of course, entirely complex and complicated—so much so that at best one can only attempt to wobble one’s way through them.
But with regard to all of the foregoing, it can at least be hypothetically established that the largely unexamined dynamics of uniformism, reductionism, conformity and deprivation of knowledge can be engineered so as to work in tandem with each other.
Of these four societal workhorses, the dynamics of conformity are best understood broadly, with reductionism as close runner-up in this sense.
But, as already established, the concept of IN UNIFORM (and hence, its UNIFORMISM fallouts) fell into obsolescence and has thus remained largely unidentified since, and certainly not examined.
It is easy enough to see why—in that the CONCEPT of uniformism is a keystone with regard to great parts of the so-called human condition. Such keystones usually have something to do with power, how it is to be maintained, and how it is managed and partitioned in sheep-cum-herder social structures.
In the line-up of these four great societal workhorses inter-functioning in tandem, REDUCTIONISM usually plays a role somewhat akin to greasing the machine or system in fail-safe kinds of ways.
However, before briefly going into this, it seems necessary to point up that reductionism has achieved a rather bad reputation with regard to the sciences, in that the sciences have been accused of being "too reductionistic."
This may or may not be the case within the vast panorama of the sciences. But it is far more likely that the sciences internally suffer, when they do, more directly from unscientific deprivations of knowledge than from their reductionistic research methodologies—even though the latter can result in the former.
In the broader perspectives of the human condition, the formal definition of REDUCTIONISM is given as "a procedure or theory that reduces complex data or phenomena to simple terms."
At first sight, this definition seems sensible enough. But the definition is somewhat astonishing with regard to whether complex data or phenomena can or should be so simply reduced.
Indeed, much naturally existing data or phenomena ARE and REMAIN complex by their very nature. And so in this regard this particular ISM and its formal definition clearly trend toward the oxymoronic—an OXYMORON consisting of "a combination of contradictory or incongruous words (in this case REDUCTION + ISM).
However, the history of our species clearly demonstrates that the concept of reductionism has had enormous appeal, and this even long before the term was coined.
One possible reason that might account for this appeal is that the erecting of "simple terms" need not necessarily be preceded by any given complexities of data or phenomena. Indeed, such terms can easily be "arrived at" without anything of the kind.
REDUCTIONISM is one of those terms that definitely need to be examined within the contexts it is being employed.
The appeal of this term is more pronounced within societal contexts than any other ones.
Since most societal contexts contain an over-abundance of sheep-cum-herder social systems—and since these are largely dependent upon ubiquitous presence of sheep deprived of knowledge—it is somewhat logical to assume that the sheep at best can only deal with "simple terms."
Another way at stating this is that ANYTHING other than simple terms might react among the sheep as the Wolfe and suddaine stormes might—thus upsetting the desirable balance of deprivation of knowledge shared by the sheep.
After all, it is easy to grok that no proper herder wants a nervous flock (even a science-oriented one), and which nervousness anyway would make the herders’ jobs more complicated and stressful.
The contexts of this essay stand in direct conflict with the contexts of the preceding essay having to do with our amazing species as a bigger picture.
The central premise of that essay is that our species, in a bigger picture way, consists of a superlative intelligence-system, and which downloads into each specimen of it.
In this sense, then, the central bigger-picture confusion more or less involves a stressful dichotomy that can be described as follows:
(1) a species-wide, superlative intelligence system—which is distorted and diminished by
(2) such superficialities as socially engineered deprivation of knowledge and various uniformisms (no matter how elegant THEIR macro and micro managed surfaces might appear).
The struggle of (1) above to exist and flourish in the face of (2) above is awesome indeed.
To move rapidly on into next part of this small series of hypothetical considerations, the inherent mandate of our species as superlative intelligence system now needs some elaboration with regard to the individual level—for believe it or not the contexts highlighted in this essay can be reflected down into the individual level.
All things do trickle down, you know.