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Navigating Alternative Conceptual Realities

clues to the dynamics of enacting new paradigms through movement

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Metaphoric Entrapment (Annex 1)
** Possibilities of entrapment
** Detachment from embodiment within traps
Clues to Movement and Attitude Control (Annex 2)
** Clues from kinetic intelligence and sports psychology
** Clues from animal locomotion
** Clues from animal locomotion understood generically
** Clues from Christian vices and virtues
** Clues from yogic perspectives on afflictions of the mind
** Clues from Buddhism
** Clues from the streetwise and from nonviolence
** Clues from the martial arts
** Clues from psychotherapy and game-playing
** Clues from dialogue
Combining Clues to Movement and Attitude Control (Annex 3)
** Combining the clues framing any static perspective
** Clues to integrating movement through kinetic intelligence
** Clues from catastrophe theory, force dynamics and manoeuvering
** Clues from navigation of multi-media and virtual reality environments
Clues to 'Ascent' and 'Escape' (Annex 4)
** Clues to 'ascent' from Christianity
** Clues to 'escape' from Buddhism
** Clues to 'ascent' and 'escape' from Theosophy
Combining Clues to 'Ascent' and 'Escape' (Annex 5)
** Tuning and playing category arrays: methodological challenges
** Patterns of aesthetic associations


This paper is concerned with how to move and navigate within alternative realities and paradigms -- if they can be identified beyond the metaphoric frameworks in which people may unknowingly be trapped. But it is assumed here that any such reality is as much framed by the style of movement within it as by recognition of its existence. In many respects a new paradigm is indeed the way in which people move -- physically or conceptually -- and the patterns of that movement with which they identity. In this way the reality is as much defined by those dynamics as by any sense of a static framework within which that movement occurs. The static features may even be defined or engendered in the process of movement -- a Buddhist perspective echoed by Francisco Varela's book title: Laying Down a Path in Walking: essays on enactive cognition (1997) [more].

The perspective emphasized here is that efforts to identify and enable much sought new paradigms are unlikely to affect behaviour unless they are accompanied by a new style of movement, whether conceptual or attitudinal. This is recognized to some degree, despite the material bias, in such policy themes as 'new patterns of consumption'.

The paper endeavours to identify some useful clues and guidelines to such movement, notably from a number of spiritual traditions but also from disciplines of the body that are assiduously and popularly practiced by many possessing a high degree of kinetic intelligence -- such as skateboarders. The emphasis is placed on widely accessible understandings rather than on reference to other models. The eclectic sense of 'discipline' is inspired by the work of Paul Feyerabend (Against Method: outline of an anarchistic theory of knowledge, 1975 [review]). Varela's perspective is associated with what is termed enactivism [more; more; more], as used by Gregory Bateson, Humberto Maturana, E Rosch and E Thomson to label their theories. It is itself associated with radical constructivism [more]. The "Experientialism" of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson is closely related to enactivism. The text amplifies and extends arguments presented in earlier papers.

The particular focus of this paper is on the possibility of re-reading the clues from spiritual traditions in the light of the disciplines of movement. The core argument is that whilst spiritual traditions point to a better, essentially static, condition to be achieved through following their guidelines, the injunctions in their guidelines are do's and don'ts that give no sense of the dynamics of the experiential reality that their practice is claimed to enable. As a result they appear essentially static and moralistic, and disconnected from the patterns of movement that people find meaningful -- setting up, through misapplication of those guidelines, a somewhat antiquated moral barrier that prevents interpretation of those guidelines in ways that would be highly valued by those who seek a richer and more dynamic reality. It is in this sense that this paper is presumptuously impatient with the conventional dogmatic application of spiritual guidelines and is instead focused on decoding them for insights into more appropriate ways to enable and move in new realities -- and thus to sustain them.

Whilst such guidelines may well be vital to what might be understood as 'attitude control' and coordination, the latter can be usefully understood as prerequisites to any process of shifting attitude into subtler perceptions -- described metaphorically through somewhat misleading terms such as 'ascent' or 'escape'. The distinction between attitude control and ascent for an individual may then be compared with the various highly elaborated challenges of launching any vehicle into planetary orbit [a theme to be explored in a subsequent paper].

Metaphoric Entrapment (Annex 1)
Clues to Movement and Attitude Control (Annex 2)
Combining Clues to Movement and Attitude Control (Annex 3)
Clues to 'Ascent' and 'Escape' (Annex 4)
Combining Clues to 'Ascent' and 'Escape' (Annex 5)


This paper set out to discover whether there were clues to moving in new ways in order to enter and sustain alternative realities -- enacting new paradigms. There are indeed many such clues that can be associated with conceptual and attitudinal movement, whether individual or collective, that might be the basis for a new psycho-social agenda. It is useful then to ask how engendering such realities would be distinct from very common experiences, such as falling or being in love -- or the use of certain drugs. These experiences are of focal importance to many in altering their behaviour and sustaining an alternative reality to that experienced by their neightbours. The same might be said of the virtual realities increasingly lived through the media and more directly in high-tech videogames. The lifestyles of many young people are increasingly enhanced by such experience.

Perhaps more pertinent is how the approach explored here is distinct from planning and project development as an exercise in the 'social construction of reality' [more; more; more], notably in the light of 'epistemological constructivism' [more]. Questions in this connection might be:

It would seem that in this sense there is already a heavy investment in alternative realities. And there is an effort -- at one level -- to live in them, in denial of the lived reality of the moment. The difficulty may be that these engendered realities are the artificial products of a particular western logic -- Project Logik -- that has limited capacity to embody the more subtle kinds of movement that would make such realities more meaningful and less dependent on addictive enhancement.

This paper has pointed to the possibility of exploring a richer range of movement as a way of sustaining richer alternative realities. Whether this is done by the individual alone, or collectively, depends on the capacity to invest in dialogue of a quality that might sustain such realities. It is an ironic feature of the times that society's largest investment in dialogue now takes the form of its electronic surveillance rather than its qualitative enhancement. But it is also curious that the times have seen an explosion in the creation of social groups and movements which in their own way are sustained by characteristic patterns of attitudinal 'movement'. Is each to be considered as the memetic vehicle for an alternative reality?

The striking isomorphism between the challenges of 'attitude control' in relation 'ascent', as explored in this paper, will be compared in a subsequent paper with the various highly elaborated challenges of launching any 'vehicle' into orbit -- as an exemplification of the possibilities of 'escaping' from one reality into another.


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