Wednesday 11 March 2009

The dynamic complexity of experience

From Chandler:
...the binary opposition which we employ in our cultural practices help to generate order out of the dynamic complexity of experience
(My emphasis.) All the time we are trying to generate order out of the dynamic complexity of experience. Well, that's what I think the job of an academic is, but also surely a natural human impulse1. What do we mean by 'order'? Models, maps, stories... When we study we learn new stories to tell, new maps to use, new models. But 'the map is not the territory' and a new map provides us with new understanding of the territory. It is better to have more maps than seeking ever more detail on the one map2. Better to have Beck's topological tube map in addition to a street plan, rather than a map that includes both. And hence the pleasure I'm getting from my reading of semiotics - a new map for me.

1 Of course that statement is itself a story, so this all gets very circular.

2 Which is not to denigrate the work of producing better maps. Just the need to recognise that however good your map, it is only one of many. The physicist's 'theory of everything', even if it were a perfect map in physics - the complete topology of the London Underground - would only be one possible map.

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