Thursday, 4 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 9: the actual processes of culture (ii)

The term "quantum leap" applied to a sudden shift in thought about something can come about wholly within the psyche through the linking of formerly disparate mental pictures or ideas or through dream imagery where a solution from the unconscious, usually of an archetypal nature, is given when the consciousness cannot resolve a problem. Probably the most famous example of a mental quantum leap is where Archimedes realized the displacement of the water level in his bath and came up with the solution to discovering whether his patron, Hiero II's new gold crown had the correct amount of gold in its alloy. This discovery, was not entirely happenstance, though. Archimedes was in an "altered state" merely because he was relaxing in a bath. Other mental quantum leaps have taken place through hallucinogenic drugs or the shaman's drum, and even through the practice of poetry (especially obsessive verse). All of these things and more can stimulate the unconscious. The most skeptical of medical doctors can talk about the "placebo effect" and be completely oblivious to the fact that they have just endorsed telekinesis on a cellular level.

If the resulting cognition is important enough, it can result in a direct change in a culture. Less important, and more frequent mental quantum leaps can have a cumulative effect and appear to show a culture evolving. All of these, however, virtually only happen to a single person. On a rare occasion, two people if they are "in sync" can come up with an idea or a solution at the same time, but the skeptic could offer various "logical" reasons as to why this occurred. If eight people in a room did this, though, parapsychology would suddenly move from theories to fact.

So let's imagine these eight people in a room at time when one of them has a mental quantum leap. The scenario being that they are not random people in a waiting room, but people who are working together on some project. As they all share a very similar mental set (or cultural frame), the realization of one of them is more likely to be understood and find agreement by the others. It would also be most likely that not only a project is being shared, but a specific stage of that project was being discussed at that time. Furthermore, the seven people who witness this quantum leap are familiar enough with the other person's base mental and emotional state to be able to recognize an altered state. Having all had such experiences, themselves, even if with something as mundane as being roused by a piece of music, or seeing a painting. They thus gain a sense of importance about what has been discovered and give it the requisite attention. It does not even matter if the idea is valid: if it is invalid, those working on problem has just been made aware of a false assumption that had not been previously identified and steps can then be taken to ensure that this would not be repeated in the future. Most often, though, the quantum leap is valid within the given parameters of the group. This local culture has just taken an evolutionary step.

But what would happen if these same eight people were dotted about in an organization of two thousand people; were working on different projects on different floors of a large office building? They would know each other less, if at all. The person who makes a quantum leap might email the idea to his manager and the idea might be evaluated  by completely false criteria such as the status of the employee; their work history; the mood of the manager at the time and his or her's personal psychology; professional jealousies, the list goes on. Most often the idea would die because it was not mutually experienced to some degree. Of the eight people, it would be most likely that only the originator of the idea would know about it. the manager would be less likely to be one of the eight because the mental environment in the first scenario would be lessened by the absence of a shared status. The dynamics of boss and employees injecting too many other factors and the quantum leap might never have taken place at all.

Now let us take this quantum leap to the next step and assume that it has been adopted by the local culture (the small group) and has also found favour with larger groups within the society (the company, organization, or right up to nation). What starts as a psychic phenomenon then shifts to a material one and can only progress through mechanistic methods which will inhibit or even eliminate the likelihood of further quantum leaps. The larger culture slows its development. If the idea becomes policy or dogma, it cannot evolve at all, and if the culture has too much of this sort of thing it will cease to evolve or adapt and will certainly fail at some point. As Bob Dylan once wrote: "Those who are not busy being born are busy dying". A static point cannot maintain.

If the quantum leap had, instead of moving to a much larger group, been shared with other small groups, then the dynamic allows proliferation: the idea than can become paired with with another idea for the first time and another quantum leap can then take place. The evolution of the small, interacting groups speeds up.

Ponder all of this, and I will continue with more on it tomorrow.

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