Short lecture on rivers LO23982

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 02/16/00

Replying to LO23978 --

Dear Organlearners,

Leo Minnigh <> writes:

>This contribution is hooked on "Organizational Learning &
>Knowledge Management LO23931" of At de Lange. I
>changed the subject title, since the river of our dialogue
>became so rich - the rich picture - that it is inevitable that
>bifurcations occur. So much bifurcations that the original
>main stream is hard to find, or even completely disappeared
>in the many substreams.

Greetings Leo,

Thank you very much for this bifurcation of yours and thus the new topic
("on rivers") it has introduced by forking from "on knowledge".

It is not so much the many bifurcations which make the picture confusing
as the fact that they do get mixed up. Here is an example taken from "on
rivers" itself.

Here in South Africa we have two rivers flowing westward, the Vaal River
("vaal"=grey) and the Orange River. Their colourful names refer to the
colour of each as a result of the clay particles suspended in it. Where
they join near Douglas they form two streams flowing side by side for a
couple of kilometers. Then they become gradually replaced by a dull orange
stream between them as a result of the mixing between them.

>But there is something strange. I told you of the river system
>in balance: MANY to ONE, the countless number of brooks
>and streams that finally their destination in the main river.
>With the braided river some of the water shows escape behavior.
>Some water tries to avoid a main stream and tries to create an
>independant separated stream: bifurcation before our eyes. It
>looks like ONE TO MANY.

Thank you for pointing out this interplay between ONEtoMANY and MANYtoONE.
The Law of the Excluded Middle (LEM -- either the one or the other but
neither both nor none) makes it very difficult for people to see this
harmonius interplay. The ONEtoMANY mapping happens as the system tries to
go beyond the edge of chaos while the MANYtoONE mapping happens when the
system tries to stall into a deadly equilibrium. The total effect of both
these ONEtoMANY and MANYtoONE mappings is like knitting one giantic web.

There are many other ONEtoMANY mappings than merely the "braiding". Here
is one concerning the water itself. Some water "fork" from the river into
the atmosphere by way of evaporation. Other water "fork" from the river
into the water table under the ground by way of "permeation". Thus some
water never reaches the sea -- other attractors taking over from the
principal attracor.

>The river is a marvelous sieve, separating the total sediment
>load in numerous fractions. ONE TO MANY. We may dream
>of an expression like 'the chromatography of the river'.

Leo, as you know South Africa used to be a country with lots of diamonds.
The distribution of these diamonds is for the very reason given by you
above intimately connected with geological evolution of our westward going

Many people have the idea that "diggers" (diamond prospectors) are
intellectually poorly developed. It is far from that. These diggers along
a river can bind a spell on you by telling how they figured out the
geological evolution of that river without the help of books. They are
often surprisingly close to what the books will tell. Why?

They need to theorise on the geological evolution of the river so as to
spare themselves from fruitless digging. Why? Diamonds are scarce even
where they occur. To find them where they occur the digger has to move and
wash about 50 tonnes of rubble per one gram of diamond. (The actual mass
of a diamonds is specified in carat.) Do that by hand with a spade and see
how far you will get without a theory!

The few rich diggers are all fast learners! Many diggers are poor beyond
description. Yet they keep on toiling because of their dream that some
lucky day they will strike it rich. They merely look at the rich diggers
to keep on firing their dream. Sadly, they do not look deep enough. They
do not look into the mind of the rich digger to see the becoming in it.
Some of the rich diggers even tell them about their theories, but they
fail to make that theories their own, even though they try very hard to do

Rote learning and digging for diamonds never match.

My brother, being a diamond cutter himself who has to deal with diggers,
once told me the story of a digger working all along the bank of the Harts
River. That digger's theory was his own version of what is better known in
formal geology as the theory of plate techtonics. He kept on digging,
meter after meter, year after year, searching for that inevitable step
between two plates. Everybody laughed at him, pitied him or wondered
should they not hand him over to an asyllum.

Guess what happened the day when he did found that step?

(Diamonds have a higher density than ordinary rocks. Thus they tend to
settle into rest as soon as possible. Like molecules in crystalisation
settle on seed crystals or even a scratch -- microscopic fissure --
diamonds seek up a quiet "pocket" in the stream. You can imagine what
happens when that pocket becomes a step like thousands of connected
pockets, a step which transverses the entire river bed!)

A lot of other diggers suddenly began to copy him. Some of them have not
yet given up their copied dream, still digging in vain.

Leo, you for one know that such techtonic steps are much scarcer than even

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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