The Provocative Opinion (PO) LO30015

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 03/24/03

Replying to LO30013 --

Dear Organlearners,

Andrew Campbell < > writes in the

>This contribution is dedicated mainly to 'Terra', Leo Minnigh's dog.

Greetings dear Andrew,

I suddenly perceived a strange correspondence ;-)

We have two German Shephard dogs: Jack and Geena. They are quick to
respond to any "dogly provocative opinion". For example, when another dog
passes by on the pavement, especially when it leaves a "track" on the tree
or a "trap" on the grass, they wake the dead with their barking while
doing all sorts of acrobatics to impress that dog. If they just could
connect to that dog!

>Po - A word that de Bono invented and he laments that it's
>slower to catch on than his other invention, lateral thinking.

Slow is not the word. A search with Google's advance search engine
gave 47 700 hits for "lateral thinking" (in 2nd window -- phrase), but
only 364 hits for "provocative opinion". By adding to the first window
to make sure that all hits refer to De Bono, it gave 6 500 hits for
"lateral thinking", but only 3 hits for "provocative opinion".

>It signals de Bono says, This is provocation; see where your
>mind moves onto from this provocation. Po is more important
>because any self organizing system, like the brain, forms
>asymmetric patterns and there is an absolute need for
>provocation in order to cut across patterns. Provocation is
>an essential operation in creativity.

Some five years ago i described how the Provocative Opinion (PO)
in the contribution
"Yes, but does LO work? LO19007"
< >
works in terms of fruitfulness ("connect-beget"). It is one of the 7Es
(seven essentialities of creativity).

Let us now consider why the PO is so slow to catch on. At the very
end of the meassage refered to above, i wrote:
>The golden rule when using a PO, is to take care never to
>hurt people with a PO. That hurt will surely happen when
>the PO is intended to destroy something in other people. If
>we want to destroy things, let each of us destroy only what
>belongs to the "me".
After another 5 years, i believe this "even more" to be true ;-)

I suspect that thousands of people have experimented with the PO, but have
found it to blow up in their faces. The reason is that the PO, in
conjunction with the Regular Opinion (RO), creates a strong entropic
force. In any subsequent discussion (entropic flux of thoughts), this
entropic force-flux pair drives the system quickly to the edge of chaos.
If one or more of the 7Es are impaired with respct to the situation at
hand, the bifurcation at the edge of chaos will result into a destructive
immergence rather a constructive emergence.

I have often used the PO with good success. But it is not something which
can be used impulsively on the spur of the moment. I first make sure that
all 7Es match the complexity of the situation at hand so as to avoid a
possible destructive immergence. I then formulate the PO to be as
different as possible from the RO, but still on the the same topic ("of
the same kind"). Should the PO be of a different kind as the RO, an
entropic force will not get generated.

There is another facet which i also have to comment on. A PO in the system
will not work when the system is deluged by entropy from the outside. What
i mean is this. When i shout to someone close to me in a city which gets
bombarded with missiles, the sounds of the bombs exploding will deafen my
shouting. In other words, the PO will work only within a calm situation
(the system close to equilibrium). This is why the PO is intended to push
the system out of its comfort zone. It is not intended to push the already
at the edge of chaos even further. Or as you have articulated it:

>The nub of de Bono is I sense, the nub of the work Sajeela
>Ramsey worked so hard to bring from the background to
>the foreground .. the presencing power of real perceptivity.
>It brings forward new ideas, words, emotions, connections,
>mages, visions, concepts, worlds ;-) There is a blind spot in
>using the same old tired terms, signs and words and phrases
>...and do Bono's mood right now I intuit to be one of
>fed-upness ;-) so much so that he thinks the mistake many
>are making in this seeming trivial matter (think butterfly now
>and alcoholic habituation) is in fact, FATAL (-my capitalisation).
>I agree with his sentiment ;-) (A sideways reference to the
>current stock market malaise ;-)

Yes, the stock markets are bobbing on the edge of chaos for several months
now. Many people have gotten hurt financially by the bifurcations leading
to destructive immergences, especially those who were brought under the
impression that equities in the stock market are safe and sound -- the
comfort zone (digestive phase close to equilibrium).

Andrew, you also write:
>Andrew, I saw in the museum also a superb small exhibition
>of drawings and woodcuts of Anthony Gormley. This is a
>must for you. If you have the chance to see this, take that
>chance. I knew some of his sculptures, but was not familiar
>with drawings.

I am puzzeld here. Was it a quote of Leo addressing you, or was it the
artist speaking to himself (which is common among artists ;-)?

It is the first that i have ever read about Anthony Gormley. This is the
price to be paid for living in the new South Africa. African peoples have
little eyebrows for European cultures because of the tragic legacy of
colonialism. Wherever African peoples have control over the media, they
avoid any reports on cultural events in Europe.

I used Google to see what comes up using Anthony Gormley in the
2nd window. I got 1 200 hits. I was pleasantly surprised with some
of them. Among others, in an interview at
< >
i found the following wisdom said by him:
   "They're about experiencing freedom by knowing one's
    intimate relationship with one's environment, knowing where
    one fits, comfortably, perfectly. Finding that place through
    experiencing it fully is what people find so difficult."

Now, someone who says this has probably rich wilderness experiences.
So what i them did, was to add into the first window
I got 9 hits. I explored them eagerly for any information to that extend.
I got nothing substantial, except that he was educated by Benecdine
monks and trained at an university as an archeologist and anthropologist.
But one of the hits was the following:
"Art and the Environment"
by F. David Peat at
< >

It fits nicely with your:
>LeO, Senge said that we will learn best by learning from
>and by nature's ways. The artist Jackson Pollock, when
>invited to study nature to help his creative development
>said, "I AM nature."

What a PO!

>I know Gormley's work Leo .. he was the man who made
>the Angel of the North.
>Imagine that, Leo ... an image looking out at you ;-)

I wish i could examine the statue personally. The aeroplane wings of
the angel make me think that he made a PO with this statue. Imagine
an image looking past Leo even further beyond into the Middle East
or even Africa further down south.
"We from up the north will liberate you with our technology.
But we will keep our mouths shut on colateral casualities."

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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