I’m not going to educate you about what fractals are.
The internet is full of information, go find it. If you care, of course.

I’ll just remind you of an old saying,
‘There’s nothing new under the sun.’

As if nature doesn’t exert itself.
If something works… why invent anything new when you can adapt something which already exists?

In this sense, I somehow must admit that those who believe is God do have a point about this. Sometimes Nature seems to have been fine tuned by an engineer…

Or that engineers have learned a lot from Mother Nature?

Enough with this back slapping between the engineer in me and … whoever is at the other end of this game.

1. The ‘revolving’ principle.

Basically all matter turns around a center, is circled about or finds itself in both situations at the same time.
From the electrons which turn around the nuclei of the atoms to our Sun which spins around the center of the Milky Way.

Behind this principle lies another one.

2. The dynamic equilibrium.

Everything which exists is in a state of dynamic equilibrium.
Both internal and external.
Its components relate to each-other in such a manner as to keep that thing together while the surrounding medium exerts various influences towards that thing.
From the meager proton – whose quarks ‘cooperate’ to constitute a distinct individuality and somehow manage to remain ‘apart’ from the rest of ‘world’ despite the huge forces which keep each atomic nucleus together, to, say, a living organism – which remains alive for only as long as it conserves its ability to interact, both ways, with the environment.

I can probably identify a few more but today I’m going to mention only one more.

N. Killing your host might not be such a good idea.

Remember the fable about the Scorpion and the Frog?

‘Now you really got my attention! How on Earth are you going to spin this into your tale about fractals?!?’

When syphilis first appeared in Europe in 1495, it was an acute and extremely unpleasant disease. After only a few years it was less severe than it once was, and it changed over the next 50 years into a milder, chronic disease. The severe early symptoms may have been the result of the disease being introduced into a new host population without any resistance mechanisms, but the change in virulence is most likely to have happened because of selection favouring milder strains of the pathogen. The symptoms of the virulent early disease were both debilitating and obvious to potential sexual partners of the infected, and strains that caused less obvious or painful symptoms would have enjoyed a higher transmission rate.”

Robert J. Knell, Syphillis in Renaissance Europe…, 2004

Want some more?
How many people have you seen last winter wiping their noses? How many of them actually had the flu and how many suffered from having a benign ‘cold’.
You must have surely got my drift by now… flu kills many more people than the cold. And Ebola kills far many than the flu. And that’s why the cold viruses have far more chances of finding a host than both flu and Ebola.
On one hand, the more deadly a virus is, the less hosts are left for the next generations of viruses.
And on the other hand, the more dangerous a virus – or any other ‘parasite’, is, the more those in peril will try to do something about it.

N+1. If you can’t beat them, join them.

Now that I’ve mentioned parasites, let’s take a step further and talk about symbiosis.

“Mitochondria are rod-shaped organelles that can be considered the power generators of the cell, converting oxygen and nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the chemical energy “currency” of the cell that powers the cell’s metabolic activities. This process is called aerobic respiration and is the reason animals breathe oxygen. Without mitochondria (singular, mitochondrion), higher animals would likely not exist because their cells would only be able to obtain energy from anaerobic respiration (in the absence of oxygen), a process much less efficient than aerobic respiration. In fact, mitochondria enable cells to produce 15 times more ATP than they could otherwise, and complex animals, like humans, need large amounts of energy in order to survive.”
The mitochondrion is different from most other organelles because it has its own circular DNA (similar to the DNA of prokaryotes) and reproduces independently of the cell in which it is found; an apparent case of endosymbiosis. Scientists hypothesize that millions of years ago small, free-living prokaryotes were engulfed, but not consumed, by larger prokaryotes, perhaps because they were able to resist the digestive enzymes of the host organism. The two organisms developed a symbiotic relationship over time, the larger organism providing the smaller with ample nutrients and the smaller organism providing ATP molecules to the larger one. Eventually, according to this view, the larger organism developed into the eukaryotic cell and the smaller organism into the mitochondrion.

Another interesting case of symbiosis is that between each of us and the flora which populates our guts and helps us to digest our ‘daily bread’.

Now, do you remember my post about viruses?
Where I mentioned that viruses are organisms which somehow penetrate into their hosts, take over the management mechanisms of said hosts and ‘convince’ them to actually manufacture the next generation of ‘invaders’.
Killing the host cell in the process, but not necessarily the whole host organism.

This being the difference between the common cold, influenza and Ebola viruses.
On one hand.

On the other hand, there’s the difference between a parasite and a symbiont.
A parasite always being a ‘nuisance’ – from the innocuous common cold to the deadly Ebola, while all symbionts bring along quite lot of added value.

‘OK, and where’s the fractal side of all this?’

How many of the politicians you know behave as parasites and how many as symbionts?
Relative to the rest of the society, of course.
How many of the business people you know behave as parasites and how many as symbionts?
How many of the working age people you know….

And do you remember about the dynamic equilibrium which is essential for survival?
Of everything? Including human societies?
Which need ‘division of labour’ and ‘free market’ in order to thrive?

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We arise as human beings in the experience of observing ourselves observing.

Humberto Maturana, The origin and conservation of self-consciousness, 2005

Maturana’s essay is compelling.
Yet, like everything else done by us humans, it is not ‘complete’.
It doesn’t mention ‘memory’, nor ’empathy’.

A key difference between a psychopath and a sociopath is whether he has a conscience, the little voice inside that lets us know when we’re doing something wrong, says L. Michael Tompkins, EdD. He’s a psychologist at the Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center.

A psychopath doesn’t have a conscience. If he lies to you so he can steal your money, he won’t feel any moral qualms, though he may pretend to. He may observe others and then act the way they do so he’s not “found out,” Tompkins says.

A sociopath typically has a conscience, but it’s weak. He may know that taking your money is wrong, and he might feel some guilt or remorse, but that won’t stop his behavior.

Both lack empathy, the ability to stand in someone else’s shoes and understand how they feel. But a psychopath has less regard for others, says Aaron Kipnis, PhD, author of The Midas Complex. Someone with this personality type sees others as objects he can use for his own benefit.

Kara Mayer Robinson, Sociopath vs. Psychopath: What’s the Difference, WebMD

You see, both the psychopath and the sociopath are aware of their own doings. They are able to observe themselves observing. And doing whatever it is that they are doing.
They are aware of their goals.
And do what it takes to achieve them.

The problem with the psycho/sociopaths being that a quirk of their memory allows them to learn – to remember, through language, the information contained in past experiences, but denies them the ability to recollect/imagine the emotional consequences imposed by their actions upon those who happen to be affected.

That’s why the psycho/sociopaths don’t have a functional conscience.

Sometimes during their coming of age, something went wrong.

The interface which mediates some of the information traded between their brains and the rest of the world is flawed.

Our brain consists of three main sections. The reptilian, the limbic and the neocortex.
The reptilian part deals with the ‘mechanical’ aspects of our lives – breathing, heart rate, etc, the limbic deals with our emotional lives – and is the first which can store easily accessible ‘memories’, while the neocortex is the part where most of our ‘reasoning’ takes part.
Of course that these three parts are interconnected. That’s how we can influence our breathing and why we – well, most of us, are able to control our sexual urges.

My point being that self-awareness is not enough.
Both psycho and sociopaths are able to calibrate their actions in order to achieve their goals. Which is the functional definition of being aware of yourself.
By not being able to fully grasp the emotional consequences imposed by their actions upon those who are affected by them, the psycho/sociopaths can develop only a more ‘focused’ understanding of the world than the rest of us.
Which can sometimes be a lot deeper than usual. Some of the psycho-sociopaths have been notoriously proficient manipulators…

But no matter how deep that understanding may have been, its lack of breadth has proven fatal. Historically and statistically speaking, of course.

This being the reason for which having a functioning conscience is an evolutionary advantage for individuals.
And, maybe even more important, for the communities composed of those individuals.

Societies which have successfully identified and kept in check those who behaved improperly fared way better than those which had allowed the ‘bulls’ to take control over the ‘china shop’.

And what better example is there than the fact that democratic societies constitute a better medium for their members to live in than the authoritarian ones?

As long as democracy isn’t replaced by mob-rule, of course…

Men grow up ‘against’ their fathers.
Women grow up with their mothers.

Men try to ‘fix’ their relationship before the older one ‘grows out’.
Women don’t have this problem. By the time they have reached that stage of the relationship, they are beyond the point of no return.  Either not really speaking to each other or so ‘in sync’ that there’s no difference of opinion left to speak of.

Statistically speaking, of course.
For both genders.

Scientists haven’t made up their minds yet. They cannot agree whether viruses are actually alive or not.
They do pass over their genetic information to the next generation but that’s it.
They don’t do anything else of what all other living organisms do. Viruses don’t ‘eat’, don’t excrete, don’t feel anything…
A virus doesn’t do anything else but somehow injects itself into a ‘host’, hijacks its ‘control mechanism’ and ‘coerces’ the host to ‘mass produce’ another generation of future invaders.

Same difference exists between regular people and ‘ideologues’.

Regular people ‘earn’ their keep by being useful. The more they do for their communities, the more comfortable is the life they lead.
OK, for this to happen as described here the market would have to be actually free… I’m discussing principles here…. you get my drift.

On the other hand, ideologues act very much like viruses.
They get inside the heads of the unsuspecting and convince them to change their behavior according to the ‘ideological’ view of the world.

This is not necessarily a bad thing.
Some of the viruses have been useful for the living world
The problem is that most of the time the process takes place ‘under the table’. Most of the people don’t even know what’s being done to them. Hence they have nothing to say about it.
Because they have been kept in the dark, people are being denied their most important function.
Because they’ve been kept in the dark, the people have been robbed of their ability/opportunity to choose.

As much as we’d like it to be unique, reality is a spectrum.

Varying from factual to ‘seat of the pants’. And everything in between.

But what is this thing we call ‘reality’?

The key word here being “we”, of course!

First of all, reality is a concept. Which covers everything we know it exists ‘out there’.
Mind you, not everything ’which exists out there’, only ‘what we know about’.

We know about how?
Here’s where things become really interesting.

Maturana says that we, humans, are the first animals able to ‘observe themselves observing’ – his definition of ‘self-awareness’.
We not only observe things, we’ve developed the ability to set them apart from us. To understand that ‘things’ are both separated from us and still connected to us.
Even this understanding of ours comes in various degrees.
Some of us behave as if there is no tomorrow while others have developed intricate thought systems which connect our past actions (a.k.a. ‘sins’) with our future (a.k.a. ‘redemption’).

‘But most of the religious people base their faith on myths rather than facts!’

Well… myths are facts too.
Not in the sense that all the content of all myths had necessarily happened!
My point being that a story becomes a myth/fact as soon as enough people believe in it. Regardless of that story being a factual description of a real incident, an interpretation thereof or even the figment of somebody’s imagination.

Too much confusion… facts are no longer factual, reality is no longer real… everything is in a sort of limbo…

Yep. You’ve got the gist of it.
Our own consciousness has thrown us in limbo. Which, obviously, is yet another of our own inventions…
The funniest thing being that our consciousness hates being in limbo. And tries to explain everything it comes in contact with. Which explains why we have so many myths.

Now, if we want to explain the difference between the factual and the seat of the pants realities, we need to retrace the whole argument.

We have the ‘real’ reality – everything that exists out there, and the conceptual one. Everything that actually exists versus what we know it exists. Or it may exist.
What we know it exists can be further divided into things we think we have completely understood, things we ‘know’ but we still cannot fully explain and things which continue to baffle us.
For instance, we think we know everything there is to be known about internal combustion engines, we know when we are in love but we cannot explain ‘love’ and we are completely baffled by the callousness of some of our brethren.

Un bunicuț simpatic care participă, din când în când, la proteste antiguvernamentale.

Ce-l face deosebit?

Doctoratul obținut în Franța, cu vreo 70 de ani în urmă?
Calitatea de membru al Partidului Comunist Francez, din aceiași perioadă?
Întoarcerea în Romania deja comunistă?
Colaborarea cu regimul? Unii susțin chiar că Șora ar fi fost, la un moment dat, mâna dreapta a Anei Pauker…
Prezenta în primul guvern Roman? De unde și-a dat demisia în semn de protest împotriva folosirea minerilor pentru curățirea Pieței Universității?
Calitatea de membru al Academiei Române? Cu cât prestigiu o mai avea aceasta, după ce a primit în rândurile ei pe vestita savantă de renume mondial…

Sau faptul ca Șora, și alții ca el, sunt dovada vie a evidenței că te poți vindeca de comunism?

Iar asta îi lasă fără nici un fel de scuză pe cei care….

Chapter 1.
Feelings, perceptions, facts.

Everything starts with a feeling.
Followed by a reaction.
Which, in biology/psychology/sociology is whatever the feeling organism does after it has been ‘poked’.
At this level, everything happens ‘mechanically’. Even for the most ‘sophisticated’. None of us is aware of what’s going on inside out gut yet a lot of information is being exchanged during the digestion process. We might ‘be there’ when we eat but our presence is not requested while our digestive tracts break down our food into usable ‘chemicals’.

Organisms which are capable of learning sometimes transform their feelings into perceptions.
In the sense that their reactions are no longer determined exclusively by their genes. In some instances they use their learned knowledge to improve their reactions, hence their chances to survive.
Think, for instance, of the many things our dogs do for us. Without having a clear understanding of whats going on but, nevertheless, faring a lot better than their wild cousins, the wolves. Or about the huge amount of data passed from one generation of elephant matriarchs to the other.

Further up the decision chain are the conscious species.
Those whose individuals are capable of ‘observing themselves observing’.
This self awareness is what makes the difference between being capable of being trained and that of actually being able to learn. To choose what you consider to be important and to decide according to that particular piece of information.

This being how facts are born.
We, self aware intelligent individuals, notice something. Deem it to be of a certain importance and, hence, call it a ‘fact’.
Regardless of that something actually having happened or being nothing more than a figment of our imagination.

 

Perfection is absolute. Hence unattainable.
Yet chasing it constantly improves the reckless who attempt it… simultaneously keeping their pride at bay.

Success is relative. Hence always reachable.
All you have to do is beat all your opponents. Preferably to a pulp.
The only limitation being that you are expected to remain inside the rules.
Only nobody says anything if you bend them. No matter how ‘creatively’.

Străbunicul a fost felcer.
Undeva în Bucovina.
Străbunica se născuse într-o familie, probabil scăpătată, care facea parte din șleahta poloneză. Adică din ‘nobilimea de spadă’.
După ce a născut doi copii, pe Nela – străbunica mea – și pe Gheorghe, străbunica s-a plictisit de ‘viața la țară’ și i-a lăsat baltă pe toți trei.

Străbunicu’, cu doi copii mici, n-a avut de ales. S-a recăsătorit. Și a mai făcut doi. Pe Andrei și pe Zizi.

După care a venit războiul.
Primul, bineînțeles.
Mobilizat, străbunicul a luptat cu armele meseriei sale. A fost ‘sanitar’.
Chiar înainte de sfârșit, medicul regimentului s-a îmbolnăvit de tifos. Împreună cu mulți alții, bineînțeles. Dar nu pentru ‘alții’ a refuzat străbunicul să fie lăsat la vatră printre primii – avea deja patru copii, ci pentru comandantul său. Care îi devenise între timp prieten.
Comandantul a scăpat dar străbunicul nu. Contaminat și el de tifos. Medicul, camaradul său de arme, abia scăpat de faza acută a bolii, fusese prea slăbit pentru a-i întoarce serviciul. Iar ceilalți erau erau prea prinși de bucuria momentului.

Așa că bunica, domnișoară în toată regula – se născuse odată cu secolul, a rămas acasă. Cei doi frați mai mici nu puteau fi crescuți, mai ales atunci, de o mamă singură.

S-a măritat mai târziu, aproape de treizeci de ani.
Cu bunicul meu. Funcționar la stat.
Au avut doi copii, născuți amândoi înainte de război. Cel de-al doilea, de data asta.

După cum bine știm, în 1940 Basarabia a fost ocupată de Stalin.
Nu știu care a fost politica oficiala a statului român. Nu știu dacă conducătorii de atunci au oferit funcționarilor din administrația locală posibilitatea reală de a se retrage odată cu trupele. Și iarăși nu știu câți dintre aceștia au folosit eventuala ofertă.
La fel de ‘în ceață’ sunt cu privire la soarta celor rămași pe loc. Câți din ei or fi ajuns în Siberia…?
Tot ce știu este că după „Ostași, vă ordon: „Trece-ți Prutul!” ”, bunicii mei au fost trimiși într-o comună din județul Bălți. Să refacă administrația locală. Au trăit acolo până în 1944.

După care au fost ‘refugiați’ undeva lângă Târgu Jiu.
Bunicul era deja grav bolnav. A murit în primăvara lui 1945.

Satul în care fuseseră încartiruiți era foarte sărac.
Bunică-mea ar fi trebuit să-și crească, singură, cei doi copii dintr-o alocație de hrană – niște făină, ulei, zahăr și ceva gaz, și o sumă modică de bani pe care le primeau, ca refugiați, de la stat. Situație care nu avea cum să continue multă vreme.
Iar în satul ala, unde nu conoștea pe nimeni, nu era nimic de făcut.

Așa că bunică-mea a plecat, pe jos, până în Bucovina. Aranjase ca maică-mea și unchiul meu să primească un litru de lapte și o jumătate de păine pe zi iar gazda unde stăteau îi lăsa să culeagă ce vroiau din curte.

S-a întors după câteva luni și au plecat cu toții, cu trenul de data asta, înapoi în Bucovina.
Acolo unde bunică-mea găsise posibilitatea de a deschide un debit de tutun – asimilată fiind cu o văduvă de război. Chiar dacă bunicul nu luptase efectiv pe front, fusese ‘mobilizat pe loc’. Precum angajații de la Căile Ferate.
Numai că treaba asta nu a durat prea mult iar bunica a tot schimbat slujbele si ocupațiile.
La un moment dat cumpăra lapte de la țărani, îl punea la prins, lua smântâna de-o-parte iar din restul făcea brânză de vaci. Vindea brânza și o parte din smântână la un spital de tuberculoză, restul de smântână îl mâncau copii cu mămăligă iar cu zerul, amestecat cu tărâțe, creștea porci.
Abia după ce-am aflat povestea asta am înțeles de ce n-am văzut-o niciodată pe maică-mea mâncând mămăligă cu brânză și smântână…

Ultima slujbă pe care avut-o bunică-mea a fost aceea de administratoare a căminului unui liceu de fete. Erau ea, o bucătăreasă, un paznic bun la toate și încă două femei – care ajutau la bucătărie când era nevoie și făceau curățenie în restul timpului.
Personalul locuia în orășel iar bunică-mea în cămin. Maică-mea venise deja la facultate în București îar unchiul meu făcea o școală tehnică de construcții.

Așa că bunică-mea, rămasă fără supraveghere, s-a apucat de furat.
De la stat!
Împărțea cu colegii cele doua-trei kile de ulei/zahar/făină/biscuiți care se adunau la fiecare sfîrșit de lună.
Cu resturile de la cantină creștea porci în fundul curții. E adevărat că introducea o parte dintre ei în apoi în gestiune…
Dar nu pe toți!
Pe restul îi împărțea cu personalul iar partea ei din carne o trimitea mamei mele și unchiului meu.
Din când în când mai lua și câte o fată sau două să doarmă în camera ei. Doar cele cu ‘dosar curat’ erau acceptate ‘cu acte’ în cămin, nu toți cei considerați ‘chiaburi’ aveau tot timpul destui bani să-și țină copii în gazdă… iar bunică-mea se mulțumea cu mult mai puțin decât ‘prețul pieței’…

În 1962 a ieșit la pensie.
Până atunci, în fiecare an a avut parte de câte o ‘revizie contabilă’. Un fel de inventar mai puțin riguros.
Înainte de a primi decizia de pensionare, a fost supusă unui ‘control la sânge’. Făcut de același inspector care venise și în ultimii cinci ani.

„Doamna Ungureanu, sau dumneata ai fost proastă și n-ai luat un capăt de ață… sau eu sunt prost pentru că nu sunt în stare să-mi dau seama dacă ai furat ceva toți anii aștia!”

Precum toate celelalte zicale, și aceasta are cel puțin două înțelesuri.

Unul direct, ‘orice regulă este întărită de fiecare dată atunci când este sancționată încălcarea ei.’

Și cel implicit. ‘Orice comportament aflat în afara regulii slăbește regula și pregătește cadrul pentru schimbarea acesteia’. Adică favorizeaza apariția unei noi reguli.

Ei bine, toate astea au, evident, consecințe.

Regulile, toate, stau la baza funcționarii organismelor sociale.
Care organisme sociale sunt forme de organizare prin care membrii lor – adică noi oamenii, încercă să-și maximizeze șansele de supraviețuire. Și, dacă se poate, bunăstarea.

Istoria demonstrează, cu asupra de măsură, că de cele mai mari șanse de supraviețuire, precum și de cea mai ridicată calitate a vieții, se bucură acei indivizi care trăiesc în societăți cu adevărat democratice.

Cu toate acestea, în absolut toate societățile – inclusiv în cele democratice, există indivizi care încearcă – din prostie, din credința că astfel le va fi lor mai bine sau din amandouă cauzele simultan, să promoveze idei de natură totalitaristă.

Pe cale de consecință, supraviețuirea – și bunăstarea majorității membrilor, acolo unde este cazul, societăților depinde de capacitatea membrilor de a-și înfrânge frica și de a ‘reaminti’ ‘excepțiilor’ cât de esențială este respectarea ‘regulii benefice’.

Și care este ‘regula benefică’?

Respectul reciproc. De acolo pleacă totul.

De fiecare dată când supraviețuirea individuală devine mai importantă decât respectul, incliv cel de sine, iar această atitudine devine regulă/virtute socială – ‘capul plecat, sabia nu-l taie’, se va găsi câte cineva care, în disprețul tuturor regulilor de bun simț, să se pună în ‘fruntea bucatelor’.

 

 

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