Once we start recognising recurring features in the world and begin seeing patterns that converge, we tend to merge disparate part of our reckoning to build larger concepts that explain. This is undoubtedly deeply rooted in our psychology and probably an inherent part of cognition itself. Douglas Hofstadter talks of analogy as the core of cognition and his concept of ‘chunking’ mental concepts by way of analogy explores this thought in detail (if you watch that talk, skip to 13:30 when Hofstadter comes on). It is in part this line of thinking that was the original idea behind this website. The pattern which connects is an expression of the emergence that occurs when this sort of connections are made (this is of course also related to Bateson’s idea of mind).
In late 2010 I had a series of coincidental meetings, discussions and thoughts that connected different patterns in my life and so I decided to try and share this experience by exploring this process publicly. It was nothing more than a hunch and I had no idea where it would lead. Some of what happened is archived on this site but most of it probably remains obscure and visible only to me. In a way, setting up this site accelerated the convergence of patterns in my life – I’ve had more and more of these ‘coincidental’ occurrences happening. It is probably also driven by a personal need to make sense of the way my life had unfolded and bring together different aspects that seemed rather fragmented.
Connecting the pieces has been fun and to some degree therapeutic. We all need to feel whole, and connecting the different spheres of our lives is very necessary. At a very basic level, the fragmented character of our societies is the root of our collective problems. However, there is also a danger in connecting for the sake of connection, particularly if we are in a rush and don’t take the time to sit with our differences. The quality and depth of connections should not be considered secondary. The misunderstandings that arise from assuming convergence when there is really only compromise have the potential to lead to greater rifts. So, while connecting is an essential activity in order to lead a whole life we should not forget the reality of disconnection. Here, patience and acceptance of difference are necessary to achieve the deeper understanding that is needed for agreement and convergence.
I go into this at length because I’ve noticed recently that some connections I’ve taken for granted covered up deep differences that needed my attention. In the mode of connecting it is easy to accelerate convergence and ‘chunk’ concepts together in the belief that they fit neatly unto the existing structure – whether they are friendships and family relations or thought structures. Sometimes there are differences in ways of thinking and emotional processing that need to be explored thoroughly before collective understanding (and ultimately connection) can occur. Simple as it sounds, we need to take the time to sit with brokenness before we can mend what needs to be mended.
This means that we also need to pay attention to the quality of the conversational space we create together. I’ve often felt a sneaking impatience when I’ve talked to someone and they just didn’t quite get my point. But the deeper point is not connection by convincing, it must always be connection by insight. Describing, circling, turning on its head, pointing, and then some more describing. No one moves on from a particular logic by force. Moving forward (or upward or sideways) requires a willingness to let go. Also of the urge to connect by chunking. Connecting in a deeper sense, beyond just creating larger mental concepts, must to some degree be wordless, allowing us to be in the world without imposing our wants on it. In a series of meetings, for which I am extremely grateful, I have made connections which have made it clear to me that the real task for me as a historical being is to connect my different patterns into the shape of a settler.
Perhaps drawing patterns which connect is best described as a sort of settling in life with all its fragments and broken pieces.