You have no idea how difficult it is to truly think outside of the box.
The trouble starts the moment you realise that you are in fact already thinking inside of a box. You probably have no idea how you ever got yourself into that box to begin with, and shudder when you do the mental math and realise you were stuck in there for many years. Much of your lifetime is spent mapping the interior walls of the same box you crawled into as a baby, with only enough strength left to crawl back to your bed. And you will only remember the most important bits in the proverbial nick of time, if at all, when you re-enter Space Time to continue your work, assuming you don’t get reassigned elsewhere to grow a new frame of reference and hopefully achieve more useful results.
Don’t look at me like I just grew another head. You know what each and every one of these concepts means. I used lots of small words with specific, well-documented usages, all searchable in any search engine you prefer.
In fact, I resent the implication that this stuff is somehow above your head. You know what I just said. You don’t need an explanation. You’re just being stubborn, using your careworn social filters to deny the meaning of what your read.
Are you still upset?
Do you know why?
Did you see what just happened?
I have teased myself into believing for at least a decade now that I am a little old balding fat man who found himself a spirit guide up in the high hills of the imagination, but when I asked for advice, she simply stood up, dropped her robes, and walked off starkers out of the cave, leaving me there alone. So I’ve been sitting there in her place ever since, wrapped in her robes, which actually smell better than you’d believe. Sometimes I see shadows dancing at the mouth of the cave. Sometimes those shadows turn out to be Stories. Other times, they turn out to be seekers. I remember the feeling of seeking truth everywhere. It was so exciting. I used to laugh and point with the other pretty young things when we saw wizened monkeys that spouted nonsense and decried the path of progress, like Quixote raging.
Now I sit in my cave, waiting for the day when Realtors come to shoo me out to make room for another family from Toronto that I will probably love too much not to let them. My Work is nearly done anyway, I believe. It feels like it’s ending, is what I’m saying. We’ve nearly got the answer dancing before us, and we’re stumbling to identify it, to understand it, to learn from it and possibly save ourselves, if not our work. We know the road ahead looks dangerous, and yet we’re sure we have to see it through to the bitter end, because being there at the end to record the experience is important science, too.
So we get dressed, climb into our hybrid vehicle, and drive through heavy traffic to our current temp work placement, and keep waiting for someone larger than us to open the big door at the back and let us through. We’ve forgotten why. Thinking about it too much makes the work less bearable.
In fact, we cripple ourselves and inhibit our progress by squeezing ourselves into successively smaller, tighter-fitting boxes. Don’t ask why. When they finally find the remains of our souls, after the flesh has decayed, they always feign surprise when it becomes clear–from the twisted, perfectly preserved, carbon-scored cavities where our souls used to reside–that the cause of death was asphyxiation.
It’s always asphyxiation. Always.
I have learned through painful practice that spelling out tricky concepts, either through allegory or through effective use of metaphor, even in easy-to-swallow bites, doesn’t work, because we need to be using the same semantic charts we learned as children to think in those lines of logic. We take them for granted, actually, and therein lies the problem: we each make our own notes in the margin to explain the more wriggly bits to ourselves, in a language only we understand. Naturally, that biases the data and produces myriad faulty interpretations. Not deliberately. Even cads have core values. Just not yours. Again, that’s the point I’m making. We need to do certain types of work on our own, with nothing but our brain and the world we are interfaced with. Conformity is obviously not the correct solution for this application, because it’s unsustainable and inflexible. All logical systems need be flexible, productive, and adaptable to many different kinds of unforeseen problems, in order to accommodate the necessary philosophical and procedural updates. But older systems are by their very nature resistant to implementing new instructions correctly.
Seen from a short enough distance (see also: Abstraction), it gets easier to understand where and why we’ve been having so much trouble with this dilemma for so long. We as a species decided several centuries ago to devote ourselves to maintaining and preserving our work for future teams to continue, and devised some pretty draconian methods to ensure that work continues along predictable lines, long after we have shuffled off this mortal DNA strand. However, as we are no longer present to determine the appropriate moment to retire dated processes and adapt new ones, it behoves us to devise more responsive systems that let future users make effective course corrections as needed, and to assume administrative roles that permit them to govern, modify, and conclude generational projects in our absence.
It’s like the rumour paradox, where the story passed on never returns in the same form it arrived with. The telling changes the form until it becomes something Other (which is the point of sharing information to begin with; otherwise, you’d be able to do it all by yourself, right?). Sometimes the results are a marked improvement; Occasionally not; But the results are always informative and oddly validating to observe dispassionately from the edge of your sofa.
We learn best by experience and example. Isn’t it interesting how that proves to be the case every single time? We can learn institutionally by memorising abstract formulae (academic), or we can learn through induction by studying the available manuals (practical), but neither yields true comprehension and innovation until you apply the principles in the real world to solve problems unlike the ones we learned in school (immersion). Everything else we have learned, discovered, or devised to mitigate problems is purely academic. Not invalid; just inapplicable to the present situation. Those principles may yet become relevant in a future social paradigm model, where the processes required to apply specific alternative thought processes to real world situations are allowed to proceed, without being impeded by outdated context filters that no longer apply accurately, or yield useful results.
I know that sounds a lot like gibberish. I’m sorry for that. We haven’t evolved our language(s) far enough yet to make many of these concepts accessible for general use.
I don’t want you to feel confused.
I need you to understand what I’m saying.
We all need each other to catch up, as fast as possible.
But there are a lot of things we learn in infancy that we deliberately forget in order to be able to move around in the societies we have built for ourselves.
What we need to do now, more than we’ve needed to in several generations, is to re-evaluate the tools we’ve become over-reliant upon, and make sure that they are indeed the best tools for the job at hand (whatever that may have been; does anyone even remember why we came here in the first place? Am I the only one who worries about this any more?). We need to be certain we aren’t better-served by doing something completely different from what we have been. We need to reacquaint ourselves with the wider tool kit of less-prescriptive thought processes we were coached to abandon on entering society as children, like Linus’ security blanket tucked neatly into a dusty cardboard box, packed away and stacked up in a long-disused attic crawlspace.
Still with me?
We all now know that it’s better to be flexible when dealing with completely new situations. We also know that organisation uses familiar infrastructure to ease induced congestion, once production becomes generalised. We know that mass production permits growth and expansion at greater rates than possible using the more user-friendly-but-poorly-scaling social interaction models we first adopted when population and resources are combined in favourable ratios.
The question is, and has always been: What is the exact nature of the actual problems we’re facing?
Why do we need to grow and expand to more effectively deal with these problems?
The next question is always whether it’s even necessary, but I strongly believe we can stop wasting time on that one; clearly it’s important that we figure this paradox out, because we keep getting the models wrong.
We’re hardwired for the processing of natural resources to aid in sustainable expansion. It’s in every iota of our living experience. We do this whether we are thinking hard about it or not. We do it by accident on our way to work. We break stuff apart and put it back together in different combinations and configurations to see what else it can do. On this principle was built human civilisation.
The most-relevant results and their many possible interpretations are already well-documented. Hell, most of us enjoy sitting around an open fire pit sharing a collegial and permissive atmosphere, proposing ludicrous hypotheses and encouraging our peers to shred them to metaphorical pieces for our mutual amusement. We do this whether we’re highly edu-ma-cated or not. It’s our favourite pastime.
What we take away from such information-sharing sessions is invaluable, both for making necessary adjustments our own frame of reference, and as an effective goad to get our ass back to Work.
See how easy that was?
I’ll bet you are certain that I’m a gibbering idiot now, and that you can easily take the best of this premise to magical places no one else can dream of. You’ve already got a map of where to look next forming in your head, haven’t you?
So what’s the hold-up?
What were we talking about?
Is this thing still recording?
Short Answer (at last): Yes, it still works as intended, which is what confuses the dinosaurs among us, because they haven’t accepted that the environmental reset button has been pressed, and we have no choice but to wrap up our current projects quickly, even if we figure out how to stave off the worst of what’s to come, because the results we are currently working toward will become invalid if we push the release date back any further.
Big Daddy Saturn is back in da hizouse, and your annual performance review is due. Make sure you cite all of your references, and cross-check Absolutely Everything (it’s what we built the Internet for, kids. No Exceptions). No one is expected or required to have synthesised an entirely new cosmology and philosophy from scratch. In fact, that’s specialised work for advanced research purposes. Good to dip your toe in and figure out if you have something important to add, but no one is going to flunk you for focusing on validating others’ work.
Long Answer: You’re soaking in it.
Bench Advertising Works, QED
And In The End:
You will probably move on from this project and do great work elsewhere.
You get a new life, and I get a new life, and everybody gets new lives, working on new existential problems in the fields of comprehension, innovation, and synthesis of better-scaling social models and cultural processes. And if we keep at it, one day, when all the ayes are dotted, and all of the tees crossed, we should finally arrive at an answer we can all live with.
(c) 2019 Lee Edward McIlmoyle