Complexity, An Emotional Processing

from Brian Atkins,


Your pet died.

Your dad died around Christmas the previous year.

Mortality says hello, and goodbye.

Yellowstone-the-Super-Volcano could blow at any time, climate change threatens mass instability across numerous domains, eco, econ, political, and what we do so well in the West, eating. 

You know that longer bouts of systemic instability sometimes release stored, pretty automatic DNA-vehicle responses to crisis. Talking about those time-tested-and-selected apps-on-file, apps like: murder, war, rape, genocide, plunderous anarchy . . . all that wholesale social-contract breakdown stuff where there are no Tony Hayward yacht races because everyone’s a pirate.

Your superficial understanding of physics and neural physiology has revealed a probable lack of free will, that you’re largely bacteria, some amalgamated bi-pedal ecosystem toiling in a parallel universe in some obscure fork in one river of time. Regardless, your life’s events will be swallowed whole by death, and promptly forgotten. So, if you miss your third child’s fourth school-play . . .

The reaction to all of this, when you’re not busy running yellow lights, builds, spreads. This reaction can be metaphorically summarized as an increasingly demanding voice that, depending on the day and your anti-depressant dose, whispers or screams: WTF.

Friends, and enemies, allow me to offer you this interview as an evo-balm for your enervated complexity-navigation systems. Verily, you can learn here. Verily, big truth is pretty. And this new economic system called Net Planetary Value (NPV) appears most aesthetic. Hope in the holarchy, bioootch. Death will still swallow us, but now, all that cruel DNA tyranny of past domination struggles can mean something.

Oh my dudes and dudettes, verily, more ubermensch light can be generated for our overcoming. Further from the caves of our often sad and horrific evolutionary permutations we can run. . . . all those people broken on the wheel, burned at the stake, impaled on a shaft from their anus through their mouth and left in the sun . . . all those people bombed, gassed, starved, stoned, knifed in lung and heart, shot, whipped, overcome in their own feces in the dungeon, on the slave boat, eaten alive by lions or ants, and yes, all those parking tickets too, all that shit, can now, most gloriously, by way of NPV, mean something . . . help tame that WTF feeling . . . if only for a moment . . . (longer if you grasp the concept.)

Your internal dialog can now transition like this:

The Voice: WTF; You module: Something.

The Voice: WTF; You module: Shut up, I’m thinking.

The Voice: WTF; You module: NPV!, NPV! In your face, extinction troll! 

Net Planetary Value is a new, still emerging structure in cultural evolution. While it can’t cure Yellowstone of its bubbling, gonna-blow heat, I sincerely think it could be a huge evolutionary leap for how our species interfaces with reality. NPV appears to be evolutionarily compatible, at least to this psyche’s limited processing engines.

Like the evolutionary process, NPV solves problems, lots of them. Like the evolutionary arc, NPV processes more information, faster. It also increases the speed of feedback between components in the holarchy. NPV can help us grapple with the exponentially accelerating complexity by standardizing, and hopefully, optimizing, relationship interaction information. Relationships? Remember what the good polio Dr. said. “The most fundamental phenomenon of the universe is relationship.” He said this, too: “Evolution has proceeded along the course of optimizing relationships.”  Jonas Salk

NPV is an evolved relationship weight matrix, a postgenetic code for better navigation of complex cultural relationships, with one another, rivers, soil, Mars, animals, technology, education, etc., much like the genetic code was a relationship weight matrix seeking to optimize complex bio/geo relationships, enzymes for rice, meat, and milk, toenail thickness, offspring gestation protocols, etc.

It’s like natural selection is this huge computer, this huge mind processing info, selecting; this works, that doesn’t. Everyday, hell, every moment is judgment moment in the complex systems’ constant corrections, adjustments, in the ceaseless holonic ordering . . .

Info processing . . . you’re processing this code, these letters. Natural selection processes the code that generated the blue feather or gray fin. Does it work, does it fit, does that G code (condensed information set), and concomitant feather or fin, work in conjunction with all the other holons?

Relationship processing. All the holons be doing it. Verily, See Jane Process Dick, do that sexual selection thing.

Net Planetary Value frothed forth from an artist, an outsider, a culture particle on the fringes. Naturally. Memetic-speciation happens faster with an isolating mechanism.

Larry Chang grew up in Jamaica, a gay Asian. I’m all like: “Larry, so you’re a gay Asian in Jamaica coming of age in the early 1960s? Dude, could you put a few more outgroup rocks in your way?” Larry Chang laughed. He navigated all them rocks most adroitly, and, as he had to, went to art. Studied fractals. Sustainability, too. Read David Bohm, Capra, Wilber, Buddhist wisdom, published anthologies, and . . . Net Planetary Value emerged. It’s brilliant. Can’t stop your death, but it does provide hope on the group selection, Tragedy-of-the-Commons level, and far beyond. That’s something. That counts.

So, to help our species move beyond this painful teenagers-in-evolution stage, and in honor of all the people, plants and animals who have suffered, or whatever might motivate you, please spend some quality time with the artist Larry Chang. See how he fits pieces of the complexity together in new forms that can augment our survival and well-being.

Yeah, we probably don’t have free will. But we can learn. There’s been selection for the ability to review the past and do things differently the next time (Robert Trivers told me so). We have the capacity to load the brain-box with new information-structures, ruffle them cranial modules’ neural pathways by learning, learning that generates creative behaviors that solve problems. Behaviors that include Larry Chang’s Net Planetary Value? We’ll see. Process on fellow holons . . . 

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