Perceiving complexity (part 4)

Part of the series Perceiving complexity

Perceiving complexity (part 3)

Back now to continue with the feminine take on the relation between the raw reality and the “meaningful world” in the majority of the human societies with social structure based on male control of the situation. The women too can go to the other side of the Moon to manipulate the spider web of the “meaningful world” when something inconveniences them on its side facing the Earth, whether to cover up for themselves something that bothers their sense of self in the current structure or to manipulate the others’ perceptions.

For the classical women the style is significantly different from that of the men (this may not be entirely relevant for the emancipated women of our times, but it can be something as a psychological legacy). The men focus on a manipulation that favors them as active agents, something to put them in a better position and maximize their power. The women focus on a manipulation that changes the structure in a way to favor their rather passive reflections in the “meaningful world”. The focus is on how can the structure be changed in a way to determine favorable outcomes coming their way rather than the masculine focus on changing the structure in order to put them in a better position to create favorable outcomes.

If it is about their sense of self, about the inner edifice of their ego, both men and the women act about the same, as the women too have the same idea of an ego as the men, as a private seat of power in which you are in control of your life. But when it is about influencing other people, due to the differences in practical power they have in social life, the genders tend to have different directions in determining changes in other people.

The men in the classical human social structure go to the other side of the Moon because they need to ignore how the raw reality is seen, they use the information they have about the raw reality to reorganize the current mental structure in such a way that would make the raw reality be perceived in the manner that favors them. They do this both to cover up for themselves something that bothers them and to manipulate the others.

The classical women do this too when it is about covering up something for their own sense of self. However, when it is about manipulating the others, they go to the other side of the Moon because they need to ignore its side facing the Earth. In this case they treat the “meaningful world” on the side of the Moon facing the Earth as a spider web of mental constructs that only reflects the raw reality on the Earth. The Earth is… the reality and they use extensively the information gathered in the raw reality for finding ways to make changes in the web.

The men tend to gather information from the raw reality only around the sore points in the mental structure that put them in a bad position, they simply don’t see much of the raw reality beyond the spider web of mental structures in their mind. The women do this too when it is a cover-up for themselves in a matter that bothers their sense of self. On the other hand, when it is about manipulating the others’ perceptions, they use the information from the raw reality in a wholesome manner, they are immersed in the raw reality and thus they can come up with informed and out of the box ideas.

This Hungarian folktale The Horse Egg can be a good example of how people who feel in control of the spider web in their minds react to novelties and gather information only around aspects that bother their existing structure, without paying attention to the raw reality. A simple peasant finds in a meadow a big pumpkin, which for some reason ended up there. For him it is just a huge oval object, as he cannot relate it to anything he could usually find in a meadow. He takes it to the local council in the village, asking there the men with authority what could this object be.

The mayor, judging it by its shape, considers it to be a huge egg. The peasant is first shocked by the bold idea, but the next moment he finds supporting evidence in the pieces of information around this topic in his mind by adding that he found it warm. The other men are for a few moments mentally blocked, not knowing what to believe, until one of them dares to speak in support of the mayor’s opinion with a sense of relief that this object is not challenging anymore their knowledge as control of the world by the unknown it poses (and possibly also to ingratiate himself with the mayor).

This belief is spreading among themselves and it is strengthening by their number and authority. Then the mayor goes further in his quest for knowledge by taking into consideration the other piece of information the peasant brought, namely that he saw a strange horse in the area. The mayor infers that it must be a horse egg. This spurs his thirst for being the one who opens the way for the humanity to new unexplored paths of knowledge and proposes to the other men to keep it warm in turns in order to hatch it.

The people from the nearby village learn about what happens and deride their neighbors. The people in the village put pressure on the mayor to end his quest for hatching the egg, so the mayor lets it roll down to the people from the village below. The pumpkin smashes in a bush scaring a rabbit out of it. The rabbit emerges with pieces and juices of the pumpkin all over its coat and people infer that this is the little horse hatched out of the broken egg.

This is a bold description of the typical fallacies humans fall into as a result of the structural problems deriving from their way to relate to the world through patternization based on the power to control the situation. People may not be too ready to acknowledge their own mistakes, they tend to be more open about this when they are “in the nearby village” and they notice how haywire their neighbors went.

Still, it should be added that the “nearby village” people are not themselves in the position to face the unknown, with all the responsibilities that derive from this. Those who face the unknown can stay stuck in their point of view or, if they can realize after a while that something was not right in the way they understood the context, they are better off than their neighbors in the quest for a better understanding of the raw reality.

The concept of modern science is not entirely out of this conundrum, as it tends to rely on certain axioms as a basis for endless discoveries stemming from them. The inconsistencies that accumulate in time may challenge these axioms and paradigm shifts occur when new perspectives are discovered. Part of the axiomatic foundation of Newton’s physics was a bit like the rabbit jumping out of the bush and taken by people as the hatched horse. And Einstein’s physics may have too some hatched horses in its axioms, some “geocentric” misleading aspects.

And it is not just about science, this is affecting all aspects of the human social life. Just to remind of a few glaring problems, this is the way the broad society dumps the fault of its structural issues on groups with less social power, including minorities, with such horse egg inferences that “discover” their guilt in causing those structural issues (and besides the unjust suffering of those groups, this causes stagnation in the respective society, as they do not pay attention to the real causes of those issues). This is also how the authorities in some cases end up accusing the wrong people for crimes they did not commit (and besides the injustice to the respective person, the real perpetrator is still at large, continuing to be a threat). And so on.

How difficult it can be sometimes to admit a mistake for people who believe in the conclusions they draw about aspects of the raw reality and end up wrapped in a solid mental scaffolding full of strong argumentations for their point of view! Someone like Arthur Conan Doyle, who ended up believing in the “paranormal activity” of a few likely charlatans, when confronted with techniques that magicians used to get similar manipulations, had the reaction to stick to his previous conclusions, insisting that he is not believing, he is knowing that those conclusions were true.

This kind of knowledge appears when you are oblivious of the unexpected “crazy” complexity of the raw reality and of the possibilities of the human mind to take this “craziness” seriously. You believe in the concept of a “meaningful world” based on the feeling of being in control of the situation and you create a solid mental scaffolding that gives you the impression that you “know” something. A problem even for the author of Sherlock Holmes, himself a real life lawyer who debunked wrong accusations against falsely convicted prisoners (his solved cases can serve as some good examples of wrongly accused people).

This kind of axiomatic thinking is when you go to the other side of the Moon to ignore the raw reality in order to try to figure out for yourself what to do with a context that you have no idea how to include in your already existing patternizing system. At least initially, in the first stages, it may not be about direct intent to manipulate the others, as I previously made the distinction between the two reasons to go to the other side. It may just be that you want to have peace of mind about something you have no idea how to relate to the current spider web of the “meaningful world”. The mind can slide from trying to figure out for yourself to the manipulation of the others when there is external pressure for a consistent answer.

In the human repertoire there is also another way to see the patternizing system. It is the millenary experience of the women as powerless cushions mediating between the male self-confidence in being in control of the situation and the complexity of the raw reality. The Hungarian folktale The Mayor’s Clever Daughter can be a good example of one angle of this perception of the human mindset. The story begins with the king Matthias roaming incognito in the country. On the door of a certain village mayor he finds the inscription “Here lives the village mayor, with no trouble or care”. No trouble or care? Let me give you something to care about. Once returned to the capital, the king sends the mayor a clay jug with a hole in it with the order to mend it, otherwise he will be executed. The mayor is mentally blocked, he has no idea how he could solve this, he thinks this is the end for him. However, his daughter finds a solution with ease, just send the jug back with the message to turn the jug inside out, as the material is always mended on the other side.

This is how you go to the other side of the Moon to ignore its side facing the Earth. As you are not in control of the situation, you do not have vested interests in the mental structure created on the side of the Moon facing the Earth that is purporting a “meaningful world” through the patternized control of the situation. You are actually the cushion between this structure and the raw reality on Earth and, because of this context, you end up many times getting a raw deal.

Hence you go to the other side to ignore the purported power of mental control over the Earth that structure is creating in social life. You go to the other side to focus on it as a mental structure which is just pretending to represent the raw reality Earth (as from your mediating cushion status you already noticed so many times its fallacies and absurdities in representing the raw reality, many times you acted as the cushion for appeasing the male insecurities and for strengthening their sense of being in control of the situation when such fallacies and absurdities occurred).

The mayor in the story is thinking how to mend the jug only within the spider web of patternizations in his mind, his use of the human language is about living within its utterances as though they were referring to real life. This kind of use of the language is blocking him to notice anything beyond the “meaningful world” created with such utterances. For him “jug” stands for his self-confidence and peace of mind that he can make sense of a piece of raw reality by identifying in it a certain pattern that in his language is called “jug”. This feeling of being in control of the situation by patternizing the raw reality into a “meaningful world” created with words can make people believe that the respective words are the reality.

For his daughter, as a disempowered woman living in a pre-modern patriarchal society, a “jug” is an element of mental structure, she makes the difference between the identification of the “jug” in the mental structure and that piece of raw reality the king sent. She is going to the other side of the Moon to see how she can deal with the absurd request of the king by ignoring the masculine self-confidence in the “meaningful world”. And, by following the reasoning of the king, in the way so many generations of women had to deal with absurd impositions of the men, she notices a way to checkmate him with a creative use of his own reasoning. If you think my father should mend the jug, why didn’t you send it turned inside out, the way the materials are supposed to be mended?

The tale continues with the king sending a mill stone and ordering it to be skinned. The mayor is again mentally blocked, the daughter finds again a solution easily by checkmating the king with his own reasoning: the king should first slaughter the stone, because no beast can be skinned before it had its throat cut. The king learns that the daughter gives the mayor such inventive ideas, he is ordering her to come to his palace by fulfilling a series of absurd requests, which she manages to solve.

Perceiving complexity (part 5)