Thursday, 8 October 2009

The healthy grooming of social patterns

Ravaged land, broken branch, spread of infective hotbeds. This is the activity, say, of a herd of wild boars and it doesn’t look a thorough gardening. You’d prefer land in order, cozy and spotless. But to turn the soil inside out is good: it brings oxygen in lower levels, it makes the earth breath. Moreover it moves the upside down, it put the bottom at top. Randomly, intentionless, without a plan. Pure, casual revolution; not always good, not always helpful, but occasionally vital.

You’d prefer to cut precisely your trees, maybe giving them desired shapes. Round. A spike. A dinosaurs, whatever you like. But you don’t have roots; you don’t transform sunlight in energy; and you don’t grow incessantly. In other words, you aren’t a plant. A tree doesn’t want a shape. A tree grows, grows and grows. This is its only thought, the only will, the only desire. How does a tree understand when it’s time to stop and to cut? There is no method. Or better, there is one and it is outsourced. To suppliers like boars.
You’d prefer to avoid epidemics. Flu is bad. But sickness is learning. Under normal circumstances the organism works: it lives. Under the condition of sickness you test the organism, you put the metabolism under stress. From an engineering point of view, it’s good for a machine to be tested. Not only to eliminate the ones that fail the test. It’s good for the machine to be tested, because only through the test it becomes a machine, from the metaphysical, platonic, logic existence of a project. A living organism must incur in viral attack, from time to time.
Indeed the grooming of a forest consists also in local situations of chaos, disruption and chaos. The forest is healthier after the ravage of a wild herd.

Our forest, our social forest, our cognitive environment of logical projects and algorithmic procedures, requires a similar grooming. We are sociopathic primates; we suffer from nightmares, deliria, panic and these, in part, are the sources of creativity and invention. To placate our fears, we invent. To entertain our madness, we develop complex architecture. And to survive in these environment, our inventions must be organized, precise, reliable. But again, we can’t leave ourselves alone in our own creations. They become crystal prisons. Our thinking can become so clean and geometrical , fanatically perfect that they could threat our survival.

And here comes the wild herd. Groups of individual that locally tend to disrupt the geometry of social patterns. They are infectious, they break things, they bring chaos:they destroy. Do we need to like the mischievous situation? Of course not! But from a different angle, less local, this destructive activity is helpful, is healthy. Because to turn inside out things is at least an opportunity: sometimes you discover that you were walking with your head and the turn allows you to try your feet; sometimes you know how to grow and you don’t know how to stop; sometimes you are tested. It’s difficult to plan all these helpful diversion from the normal, linear, crystal activity. Crystals are clean, but not that imaginative. And we need to invent to create; the disruptive activity of revolution therefore is a grooming of our social, cognitive habits. Revolutions are necessary, occasionally.

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