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Widening gyre - The Ex-Communicator

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March 20th, 2012

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10:12 am - Widening gyre
M John Harrison writing in his blog on personality:
Personality (is) a product of all the interacting systems of a body... Every process is responding to every other one via “rules of engagement” that only apply to that type of transaction. No station-master is needed—or could be developed—to oversee the process... “You” is the second-by-second product of a billion decisions taken second-by-second by thousands of totally autonomous systems. “You” stacks up; it accretes, or agglomerates–but it also falls down and changes and shifts evanescently moment by moment...
Yes, I do think this is true.
He also says:
You don’t like to be told that. It’s offensive.

It's not offensive to me. I find it relaxing. Though perhaps if I argue against him a little that will seem defensive, as if I were trying to fight back on behalf of the station-master.

I am thinking about how systems emerge from the interaction of multiple autonomous processes. Some examples - cultures, TV series, wars. They have emergent properties which can be better or worse. In a human being or a human process, awareness of a better way of being is an input to the agglomerate. So a culture can change, or a person can change. There is no controller who takes control, but nevertheless the collective self develops into a team with a project. I think that's why we love TV programs where groups of individuals come together and make a team which is greater than the sum of the parts. Well, I do anyway, and I link it in my mind with the idea of a personality developing cohesion and power.

(4 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:March 20th, 2012 08:15 pm (UTC)
I'm a jazz performance: I not only find that a relaxing idea, I find it kind of uplifting.

But I know a lot of people - or hmm, personalities - who for some reason need there to be more control than that; by some outside authority (God? but not necessarily) if not by them.
[User Picture]
Date:March 20th, 2012 10:05 pm (UTC)
Yes whether you believe in personality is probably a function of personality.
[User Picture]
Date:March 20th, 2012 11:36 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure that I find it particularly relaxing, but I do find it helpful and (at least partly) explanatory. I think that that insight is an essential part of understanding ourselves from day to day, and of understanding others, too. Perhaps especially others, of whom it's very tempting to think that they're monolithic and constant.
[User Picture]
Date:March 21st, 2012 07:51 am (UTC)
It's simpler I suppose to flag someone 'cheerful' or whatever and think you've got a handle on them.

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