Imagination and governance: Like it or not, governance in the 21st century will be significantly influenced by the imagination -- whether as manipulated by news management and media phenomena, by the faith-based articulations of different belief systems, or by the search for imaginative relief from the constraints of simplistic governance, insensitive planning and the incompatible preferences of others. "Urban myths", notably regarding "immigrants" and minority groups, may have increasing influence on social unrest and remedial policies. Imagination will be called upon, through self-reflexive processes, to reframe depression, anxiety and existential doubt. Relief will be increasingly sought in alternative realities, whether private (including drug-enabled), virtual or elective communities, in which primacy is given to imaginative connectivity to provide coherence.
Governance and aesthetics: The relevance of the aesthetic organization of music to the challenge of contemporary governance has notably been evoked by Jacques Attali (Noise: The Political Economy of Music, 1978/1985) -- prior to taking the role of first president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He explores the manner in which the organization of music prefigures social and conceptual organization [more] (see also Aesthetics of Governance in the Year 2490, 1990). Recent indicators include:
Sustainable psychosocial organization: Such indicators raise the question of what kind of psychosocial organization is sustained by "fusion music" -- and the organizational implications of the didjeridu, now played worldwide to a greater extent than by indigenous Australians [more]. Curiously, in the light of its "demonic success" in 2006 -- Finland's well-recognized uptake of information technology was acknowledged in the accession speech of the Finnish President of the European Commission on the New Dimensions of Learning in the Information Society (July 1999) -- by referring first to the influential role of archetypal figures in the Kalevala (cf Newsweek, May 1999; Wired, September 1999). These factors may be especially relevant to non-western cultures (cf Knowledge Gardening through Music: patterns of coherence for future African management as an alternative to Project Logic, 2000). Such considerations suggest the inappropriateness of assumptions regarding the simplicity of ensuring sustainability through "silver bullet" remedies.
Interface between abstract and concrete: ITER-8 is conceived as a process to function at the interface between abstract framings of the challenges, or the responses considered appropriate, and the concrete approaches articulated through the most insightful responses to complexity (exemplified by ITER). It is an imaginal device through which the generation of psychosocial energy is catalyzed. It uses highly disciplined thinking, employed to manage the most fundamental sources of energy, such as to order the thinking necessary to manage subtler forms of energy that are also fundamental, notably in their elusiveness. It points to the need to alternate flexibly between "hot" and "cool" processes to cognitive fusion -- and to the challenge of the interface between them.
Generation of "energy": ITER functions at on one extreme understanding of "energy" generation. Contolled "cognitive fusion" points in another direction, cultivated by ITER-8, in which possibly four forms may be conflated from more conventional, reductionistic perspectives:
Concretely such a progression would be consistent with what physicist David Peat has recently proposed under the term Gentle Action -- " an action that arises out of the whole of the situation and is not fragmented or separated from it", based on a "very gentle, but highly intelligent 'steering' of the system, in which each one of us assumes responsibility" (cf F. David Peat, Non-Linear Dynamics (Chaos Theory) and its Implications for Policy Planning).
Simulation possibilities: A variety of simulations, notably when widely accessible as part of the proliferating set of internet and video games, would elicit insight, understanding and skills regarding engagement with "snake-like" dynamic challenges relevant to sustainable governance (cf Playfully Changing the Prevailing Climate of Opinion: Climate change as focal metaphor of effective global governance, 2005). Cultivating their mythological context (cf Hermann Hesse, Magister Ludi, 1943), or their imaginative dimensions, can only enhance their relevance. The science fiction work of a missile launch officer (M A Foster, Gameplayers of Zan, 1977) highlights, for example, the challenging cognitive boundaries between conventional bureaucratic thinking, nature-sensitive thinking, and the strategic game-playing fundamental to ensuring sustainability -- especially the paradoxical skills required to "drive" a powerful vehicle such as to keep it in one place, and accessible. Such game-playing calls for the kind of understanding highlighted by James P. Carse (Finite and Infinite Games: a vision of life as play and possibility, 1987).
As a collective social initiative, ITER-8 responds to the need to invest imaginatively in the metaphors that can sustain psychosocial energy in such conditions -- with appropriate attention to feedback loops necessary to the sustaining process.
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