To imagine or not to imagine. LO27673

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 01/07/02

Dear Organlearners,

Greetings to all of you.

May this new year be the best up to now.

As usual many people have made new year's resolutions. Perhaps you are one
of them. But if you are not, what will your resolutions be for the new
year should you make them?

I carefully thought about the question and what my answer would be. For
example, I would not want to make any resolutions which I cannot keep up
with self. I also would want to make resolutions which would be worthy
living for. So what would they be?

I want to answer this question, but there is for me an even more important
question to be answered. Why do people make new year's resolutions? As
usual in December of last year South African news papers and magazines
here asked many famous people what their resolutions are for the new year.
But none ever asked these people why they make such resolutions. Thus I
tried to infer this answer from the many diverse resolutions given.

It seems to me that by far most people make such resolutions to improve on
the past and to focus better on the future. Some answered that they do not
make such new year's resolutions because they frequently take stock of the
past and adjust for the future accordingly. A few answered that they do
not make such exercises any more because doing it in the past failed to
have the desired outcome. Thus, whatever their answers, it seems that they
all were reflecting on their personal evolution.

WHY would you fellow learners make such new year's resolutions? I wonder.
Please write and let us have a dialogue on it. It is a pity that the news
papers and magazines did not ask these people WHY they made such

Let us assume it is correct that they want to improve on their personal
evolution. We can also describe it as their "irreversible

The qualification "irreversible" is crucial. It means proceeding from the
past to the future without digressing back into the past again. It is like
water flowing from fountains high up in the mountains along a river into
the ocean. Imagine water flowing on its own in the opposite direction from
the ocean upwards the river until it reaches the fountains high up in the
mountains. Imagine water rising up against a water fall -- a "water rise"
so as to name it. This just never happens on its own.

Why is it possible for water to flow from the mountain to the ocean?
Because its gravitational free energy is continuously decreasing as its
elevation is continuously decreasing. Once it has reached its lowest point
at sea level, its free energy cannot decrease any more. It is the same
with our personal creativity and hence evolution. Each person's creativity
has to be driven by his/her free energy, physical and spiritual. Once the
person's free energy has been depleted, he/she cannot change creatively
any more.

Why does the fountain not dry up since water cannot be created out of
nothing? We know that fountains are being fed with water coming from
rainfall. The clouds themselves are formed mostly over the oceans as a
result of the evaporation of pure water from salt water. It requires free
energy and that is furnished by nuclear fusion in the sun. To replenish
our free energy, we also will have to follow a similar looped pattern like
the "water cycle". We will have to charge our free energy. This happens
during what I call the digestive phase of creativity. Consequently we will
have free energy for novel creations in the bifurcative phase -- water
flowing from the mountain to the ocean -- "Let your mind flow to the sea
of ideas" as fellow learner Leo Minnigh's signature says it.

We gain in physical free energy by eating many kinds of physical food.
Certain molecules (proteins and carbohydrates) move from the food into our
bodies by means of our digestive system. Likewise we have to eat many
kinds of spiritual food to gain in spiritual free energy. Certain bits of
data are moved from external information sources into our minds. Here the
"digestive system" is our personal knowledge. (See Michael Polanyi for an
articulation of personal knowledge)

To confuse or coincide knowledge which lives within a person with
information which exists outside a person is most devastating to the
replenishing of spiritual free energy. That person becomes like one of the
many dry rivers in the arid regions of Southern Africa. Only once in
several years after a heavy rainfall it will run for a few days before
drying up once again. Consequently there is little difference between the
vegetation along such a dry river and the countryside further away from

It is also dangerous to walk in such a dry river bed, even though the
chance of getting caught by a torrent of water is very slim. The reason is
that rain might have fallen so far way that one do not know that it
happened and thus that a wall of water is on its way. I have seen once
such a wall of water coming along a dry river bed. It was frightening. It
was a rolling front of water with soil and debris rather than the gradual
rising of clear water. It is the same with a person not being able to
manage the digestive phase of his/her creativity. For several years little
will happen and then suddenly the gush of creative free energy is so
violent and chaotic that many people suffer from it.

We have examined the "irreversible" of "irreversible self-organisation".
But what about the "self" of "self-organisation"? The term
"self-organisation" was created by Prigogine. Maturana created
"autopoiesis"=self-making which is a similar term. I think that these two
terms are somewhat misleading. That is why the term "adaptation" like in
CAS (Complex Adaptive Systems) is often preferred. Allow me to explain.

I think we should rather have spoken of "sysu-organisation" where "sy" is
the abbreviation for "system" and "su" for "surroundings". The
surroundings are the whole network of systems in the environment. But the
prefix "sysu" is so strange that unless explained, it will be too weird to
convey any meaning. Thus I would like to suggest "systemS-organisation"
with the emphasis on the plural S. The reasons is the following. Let me
again use the "water cycle" as example.

Imagine water flowing down the mountain and its whole course as the system
SY. Water has gravitational free energy because it is attracted by
gravitational force. This force is caused by the mass of the rest of the
whole earth (water, solid crust and molten core) beneath the course of
that river. The rest of the whole earth serves as the surroundings SU.
Because of a lack of wholeness we seldom think of this SU making the
flowing of water from the mountain to the ocean possible. Would the earth
had been as mall as the moon, water would have moved much slower from the
mountain to the sea because of a much lower gravitational force. Actually,
the earth would have been as waterless as the moon because water molecules
would have escaped into interstellar space since the gravitational force
is to weak to pull them back.

Likewise the bifurcative phase of our creativity depends on our
surroundings as much as on ourselves. For example, should I ask you fellow
learners to imagine a short story on a big cat species, someone from
Africa most probably will select a lion. But someone from India will
probably select a tiger, or someone from South America will select a puma.

It is also the same with the digestive phase of creativity. Think of the
"water cycle" once again. Water does not evaporate on its own. It needs a
source of heat like the sun to evaporate continuously. It also needs dry
air to carry the water vapour. This means that rainfall in a system is not
possible without a source of heat as well as dry air in the surroundings.
Again it is not the system acting on its own, but the system in relation
to its surroundings SU.

I cannot stress enough that the system cannot act on its own. The system
SY can only act in terms what its surroundings SU has to offer. This is
what wholeness is about. By making new year's resolutions, we (the system
SY) acknowledge that we live in a surroundings SU which is changing and
thus to which we have to adapt. Adaptation is the interaction between a
system SY and its changing surroundings SU to the benefit of both.

Dear fellow learners, I do not doubt that you are thinking of ourselves
and what the future has in stall for you. But I wonder whether you take
your surroundings SU sufficiently into account when determining what the
future has in stall for you. The past changes irreversibly into the
future. But we have to think of the past and the future as one whole. The
system SY alone cannot change independent from its surroundings SU
indefinitely. The past and future of the surroundings are as important as
our own. We may think that we can change as we wish, but in the end it is
those changes in compliance with our environment which count.

There are two ways how we can diminish the influence of our surroundings.

The first way is to actually isolate the system SY permanently from its
surroundings SU. Such a system will gradually use up its free energy while
producing entropy. Its creative changes will become less until it has
reached an equilibrium state where no significant changes happen anymore.
Thus it seems that an open system is desirable to have changes endlessly.
However, an open system producing entropy may lose too much of this
entropy so that it cannot reach the ridge of chaos where bifurcations
happen. In order to reach the ridge of chaos, the system will have to
close itself up to a certain extend. However, once the bifurcation has
resulted into the emergence of a new order, the system has to open up once
again for the new order to grow digestively on its surroundings.

Imagine sexual intercourse as approaching the ridge of chaos ;-) The
bifurcation happens when a sperm cell penetrates the egg cell. After
fertilisation the sygote cell (egg + sperm) isolates itself by forming a
fertilization membrane. Thereafter the fertilised cell divides all on its
own into many cells for couple of days so that the embryo emerges. Only
thereafter the embryo will open itself up by attaching itself to the wall
of the womb. A placenta develops out of the fertilization membrane by
which the unborn baby will digest upon its mother blood in the uterus wall
for the next nine months. Eventually a new ridge of chaos is approached
when the mother has to give birth. The baby has to leave the isolation of
the womb, a process which we know better as birth. Thereafter the baby has
to feed again, but now upon milk provided by the mother's breasts.

The second way how we can reduce the influence of our surroundings is to
isolate ourselves mentally. Thus we perceive influences which are often
different to the actual influences. We might think in an era of
objectivity that this is a foolish act. However, this mental closure is
absolutely prerequisite for any conscious mental activity to emerge. We
know this emerging activity better as our imagination. Again the danger
lies in keeping up the isolation too long. As a result the mind will run
down to an equilibrium state by using up all its free energy. Thus,
whatever conscious thought has emerged, it has to be allowed to feed upon
its surroundings by way of the five sensory organs so as to gain in free

After Beethoven became completely deaf, he served as a perfect example for
the closing of the mind to let the imagination roam freely. While creating
music in his mind and "hearing" that music mentally, he would usually hum
softly or sometimes sing in full force. This he could not hear physically.
But it sounded to others like a cacophony without any rhythm or harmony.
He was creating order inwardly, but outwardly seemingly chaos.

He would also frequently grab a "sketch book" and scribble in a cryptic
manner the essence of the music in his mind. After having created hundreds
such sketches over many weeks and once the whole was clear in his mind, he
would then compose them all together in a score book. The seemingly
cacophony over several weeks would then manifest itself as a masterly work
like a symphony, concerto or sonata. Order out of chaos became clear.

Our imagination is necessary to give purpose to our sensory organs.
Without imagination they will still work like in brain damaged people
(most unfortunate), but without any sense. We create with our imagination
a "world-inside-me" with which we can explore the "world-outside-me". For
some unfortunate people the "world-inside-me" gradually diverges so much
from the "world-outside-me" that they become psychopathic. To prevent this
happening to ourselves we have to set up a feedback loop in which we
present our imaginations to the "world-outside-me" so as to explore how
they interact with it.

The Elementary Sustainers of Creativity (ESCs) are the most
natural means to explore the "world-outside-me" so as to align
the "world-inside-me" with it. Up to now I have identified five
ESCs which are:
 * thoughts-exchanging (dialogue)
 * game-playing
 * exemplar-exploring
 * problem-solving
 * art-expressing.
They are the most natural means because they are practised
by most people of all kinds as well as by some higher ordered
animals. Obviously, excluded once again are those most
unfortunate brain damaged people.

I wonder how many people realise that it is impossible to talk, to play,
to explore, to solve and to articulate without imagination. I wonder how
many people realise that the greatest accomplishments of all kinds among
humankind are invariably connected with sheer imagination. One of the
devastating fallacies of the modern era is that imagination plays no role
in science. This is reflected in the most unimaginative teaching of
science possible despite the clear examples set by Michael Faraday and
Albert Einstein.

Faraday was the greatest experimentalist and Einstein the greatest
theorist in physics. Perhaps most fortunately, neither had the benefit of
any (dull?) university training. Yet with their sheer imagination they
made discoveries from which humankind benefits profusely today. Just think
of two examples: electricity (Faraday) and laser (Einstein) technology.

A couple of weeks ago the results of the examination of South African
matriculants (final school year) became known. As before, many people were
alarmed at less pupils taking science and mathematics. As for the few
students taking some art, this is not even debated any more. All these
trends are symptoms of a serious lack of imagination in teaching and
learning at schools. What is less imaginative than parrotry, i.e. rote
learning. A technical superior reproduction of facts, but void of any

It reminds me of Beethoven. In his young days he was acclaimed as a
technical devil capable of outplaying everybody else on the piano. Yet
this technical performance was far less important to him than interpreting
feelings with music. Someone could make technical errors and he would
seemingly not even notice it. But when someone played technically perfect
without expressing feelings imaginatively, he would get mad or laugh out
aloud in scorn. Such a performer missed the very essence of acting

Some people speak of the "human condition" as that which makes a
difference between humankind and all other forms of life. Many a
discussion took place on what is the human condition. Some claim it is the
ability to believe. Others say it is to think rationally despite having
emotions. Some argue that it is to live mentally within language.

For me the human condition is the fact that we can imagine so that we end
up with the "world-inside-me" interacting with the "world-outside-me".
Without imagination our mental faculties like loving, believing, learning
or creating collapse. Without imagination our talking, playing, exploring,
solving and articulating will dwindle into that of animals. Without
imagination we will not be able to distinguish between the past and the
future. Without imagination we will not know of such a thing as new
year's resolutions.

Dear fellow learners, how will each of you react towards imagination
(your's and that of others) in the future? Remember the outward cacophony
while Beethoven created inwardly sublime music. How will we react when
someone writes something to this list which does not suite us all
together, what to speak of senseless cryptic notes or sheer nonsense. Are
we willing to search for the inner imagination with which that person did
it? Are we willing to let these sketches appear until that person sits
down and write them all up in one sublime document? Or will we ostracise
or even excommunicate that person for a seemingly wrong sketch?

Did you know that on the auction after Beethoven's death his sketch books
(many dozens of them spanning over more than thirty years) were sold at
the lowest price for all items. Whoever bought them, got each sketch book
for a price less than that for a dinner. The footsteps of the world's
greatest musical genius valued so little! Let us not make the same error
by considering each other's sketches on the LO-dialogue of lowest value.

Have you ever contemplated what role does imagination play in the
emergence of a Learning Organisation (LO). Is it possible to have a LO
while curbing the imagination of its members? How will its members share
their imagination? Is it not primarily by means of the unconditional
dialogue? I want to encourage each of you to participate as much as
possible on our LO-dialogue. To do this you will have to let your
imagination roam freely. If you do not succeed fully in expressing your
imagination in a manner which others can appreciate, it is not your fault.
Think of it as a Beethovian sketch which has to be followed up by many
more until the sublime composition appears. Think of each sketch as a
footstep along a journey which is as important as arriving at the

Alfred Rheeder and Chris Kloppers gave me a wonderful present consisting
of all Beethoven's piano sonatas on CD as well as an extensive compendium
on his whole life. Thank you both. While reading the compendium and
listening to the sonatas, it struck me how much music lovers were raving
to hear or perform a new masterpiece. What will the master come up with
next? Many knew that he kept sketch books in which he frequently jotted
cryptic ideas for a masterpiece. He also studied the scores of other great
composers, copying musical moments which were striking to him in these
sketch books. But no one was keen to learn how all this information in the
sketch books culminated into a sublime composition. They all wanted the
destination, but none were interested in the footsteps reaching it.

I am keen on studying all your sketches and not merely the final sublime
document they will emerge into. Your creative becoming is prerequisite to
your creative outcomes (beings). Let us have these sketches so as to learn
how the artist and scientist in each of you evolve. Let us make the music
of learning together -- the music of the learning organisation which is
called metanoia. Let us share our imaginations. And if you find striking
sketches of somebody else, copy it and share it with us like fellow
learner Andrew Campbell often does. It is the way in which most artists

I imagine a world in which peace, prosperity, progress and patience will
flourish. I imagine a world in which we guide ourselves spontaneously by
the 10Ps (Principles) of the Enochites. I imagine a world in which we will
be as willing to adapt ourselves as we require others to change. I imagine
a world in which creative learning will be treasured and tempered with
unconditional love. I imagine a world in which learning organisations will
emerge exponentially. I imagine a better world as the one which we have
created up to now. I imagine a world in which our children and
grandchildren would love to live in. I imagine our LO-dialogue to become a
major force in shaping this world, helping people how to manage their
creativity and its free energy

I wish never to subject imagination to political correctness. I wish never
to stop imagining because this is the human condition.

To imagine or not to imagine? This the question with which I want to let
your noble minds suffer.

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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