Linear Thinking LO22849

AM de Lange (
Mon, 11 Oct 1999 10:23:40 +0200

Replying to LO22817 --

Dear Organlearners,

John Zavacki" <> writes:

>This whole thing about linearity is somewhat absurd. At, who
>is very far from what I assume the members of this thread are
>calling linear, uses linear visuals to show very non linear
>meanings. The very medium in which we communicate is
>linear. The problem is not linearity, is it? The problem is
>nonrecursion. Sentences are linear, syntactically. Meanings
>are not. Thinking is far from linear, it occurs in an irregularly
>shaped geometry along pathways with constantly changing
>underpasses, overpasses, bi and tri and quasi infinite

Greetings John,

Thank you very much for shedding light on this incredibly important issue.
What issue? The fact that we have to signal our writings in words along
lines, i.e a linear manner. And the fact that when we read a scrpit, we
have to begin with a linear presentation.

It is important to observe that when we speak or listen, none of this
linear visualisation applies. But when we speak, we utter words
sequentially. Any arrangement of things in a sequence is not necessarily
linear -- for example, people standing in a que. Similarly our sequential
speech is not necessarily linear. Yet it may become linear when we think
in certain ways. What ways? The things which we have discussed and
perhaps will still discuss in this topic: monotonous obsessions, change
without change itself, localise something global, exclusive claims, ....

One of my great frustrations is that I can observe clearly how people
speak and thus trace some of their thinking. But I can observe only dimly
how they listen in terms of their body language (especially facial
expressions) and thus almost nothing of their thinking. That is why I hate
to use a telephone. If I have to speak to somebody, I would walk or even
drive to that person to speak to that person face to face.

The little which I know about their thinking, I have to detemine
experimentally case by case, carefully observing their facial expressions
while I am speaking as well as afterwards their replies. While speaking, I
keep a "deeper eye" on the dynamics (entropy production, force-fluc pairs,
etc) and mechanics (seven essentialities) of creativity to promote
creativity in the discussion. With my other eyes I then observe how the
person sometimes actually "switch off" when I get to a certain facet
(dynamical or mechanical) of creativity in the discussion. In such cases,
with few exceptions, the reply of the person manifest a rigidly linear

But let us rather get to writing and reading which give us more permanent
records to investigate. A person has to express his/her thinking in terms
of words which have to be stringed sequentially into line after line. The
first opportunity to emerge from this linearity is punctuation. Some
writers fail to break linearity by punctuation. It happens in many ways.

For example, they may be monotonically obsessed with simple sentences.
They use them excessively. A simple sentence has a object, a verb and a
subject. It acknowledges liveness. Liveness is about "becoming-being".
They avoid several essentialities in a sentence. They avoid sureness by
using few predicates. An adverb is a predicate. An adjective is a
predicate. They use a new simple sentence for each predicate. They avoid
wholeness by denying subsentences. They make a sub-sentence a complete
sentence. They avoid fruitfulness. Thus they seldom use logical
connectives. "If... then..." is a logical connective. Another logical
connective is "either ... or". They avoid spareness. Hence they seldom
express modality. The word "some" is modal. The word "usually" is also
modal. They avoid otherness. They refrain from listing a diversity. They
use collective words to imply it. They avoid openness. Each sentence tries
to close former sentences even more. A sentence seldom begs others to

In short, these writers take a whole paragraph either with many simple
sentences to avoid one non-linear sentence having several predicates,
subsentences, a logical construction, a limitation, a isting or an opening
clause as patterns of form on the one hand or on the other hand patterns
of content such as entropic force-flux pairs, free energy conversion,
driving to the edge of chaos and settling to the grave of equilibrium, or
with merely one simple sentence to scold other for not doing the same.

Another way to think linearly is to use long complex sentences such as the
one in the previous paragraph. (Compare it to the many simple sentences
used in the previous pargrpah.) In this case, although the writer may self
think in a non-linear way with respect to the topic, the writer thinks
linearly with respect to the reader! The writer denies the reader the very
non-linear emergences which have to happen after each complete sentence by
the full stop after the sentence. Denying the full stop is to deny the
opportunities for the reader to emerge in understanding.

Sometimes the opposite happens. The writer builds in a lot of non-linear
thinking, by the reader fails to apprehend it by reading linearly one
sentence after another. The reader does not compare a sentence with those
preceding or following it. The reader does not compare the meaning of a
sentence to that of the whole paragrapgh. The reader does not compare the
meaning of a paragraph to those preceding or following it. The reader is
completely unaware of meaningful holons in ever widening patterns,
branching, intertwining and looping. The reader is so rushed for time
that he/she seldom, if ever, goes over any sentence twice. To read a
perplexing contibution over and over again until its deeper meanings
emerge, is for them a sign of an inferior writer and not an inferior

John, when I read the final part of your contribution:

>Who is there among us who can possibly even explain
>'linearity' in thought? Language has multitudinous recursions:
>the loop of the personal herneutic, the loop of the specialist,
>the loop of the creative genius, the religious loop......
>Every word lives on many levels, none of which are connected
>by linearity. It is our perceptual limitation and the space/time
>continuum we have overlain on ourselves which even gives rise
>to the notion of linearity. In the not so humble opinion of this
>Polak, there ain't no linearity in the human conscious or un.....

I sense that you have suffered much by you non-linear thoughts transformed
into linear thinking by readers and listeners. We all suffer by the
"linear thinking" of others and we all let others suffer by our own "hyper
linear thinking". There is not better metaphor to describe it as the one
used by Jesus -- we want to take the splinter out of another person's eye
and do not see the beam in our own eye.

So how can we prevent non-linear thinking to immerge destructively into
linear thinking, whther it be in ourselves or in others? I think that this
is where Leo's maxim "Let your thoughts meander to the sea of ideas" is
most helpful. Sometimes we should invert whatever we are doing. If we are
like the meandering water, then become a solid rock resisting the stream.
(It means to create an entropic force.) If we are like an immovable rock
in the stream, then become floating and explore where the meandering water
will takes us. (It means to create an entropic flux.)

No inversion is ever linear.

To proceed from a learning individual to a learning organisation requires
a lot of inversion -- to create Systsems Thinking out of our Mental
Models. These inversions are non-linear. Since they are non-linear, they
require a lot of creativity. To learn is to create. This non-linear truth
applies to individuals and organisations.

Thanks again John for introducing the means of communication
in our topic. You have done it superbly.

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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