In our work with complexity, groups typically develop knowledge
structures, i.e., structural models. These invariably fit the description
"non-linear logic models (nllm's)".
Prose is inherently linear. These nllm's testify, every one of them, that
the patterns involved in complexity are not statable in prose. As far as
I know, almost everybody who engages in a conversation uses prose.
Uttered prose is detected by the ear, which is a great machine for
receiving linear patterns. The eye, however, is the instrument that we
have for receiving nonlinear patterns.
I can imagine Ray telling me (quite correctly) that the ear also hears
music, and that music is not a linear pattern. Very true. However the
ear hearing music is usually operating in a mode of "appreciation", which
is seldom the way the ear reacts to people (e.g., professors) describing
In the past X years, I have tried very hard to avoid engaging in any
conversations where I am convinced ahead of time that the subject matter
cannot be dealt with using a linear mode to present a distinctly nonlinear
pattern. I find that by behaving in this withdrawn manner, I can save
huge amounts of my time while simultaneously avoiding massive frustration.
Of course a commonly accepted alternative is to resort to metaphor, which
is a way of politely obscuring the detail even more, commonly used by top
managers who are not aware of the detail, but who seem to sense
intuitively that even if they were it could not be communicated verbally.
John N. Warfield
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <email@example.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>