[NetBehaviour] Our long global nightmare is over

Max Herman maxnmherman at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 26 17:03:28 CEST 2019

Hi Gretta,

I really appreciate your reply and wise reflections.  Something about the news cycle yesterday gave me an impression that some kind of sea change had occurred or could occur, and wanting to salvage an internal spark of hopefulness I lapsed into a largely irrational state of optimism which should indeed be tempered, perhaps even with skepticism, and even my own has set in to some degree a day later.

The image you mention of "where you sit" is I think extremely relevant on many levels -- where are we as individuals, and our behavior, located in the hyper-networked and often totally disoriented space of human events today?  One of the great mysteries of humanity I think is that it isn't always possible to know this but it remains our lodestar, an ongoing creative reality.

My knowledge of meditation and mindfulness in particular is pretty average, but I do pay some attention to the neuroscience behind it and its application to systems change (as with the UK Parliament's mindfulness program).  Perhaps meditation is best understood as a key element of positive change, but not sufficient or all-powerful in itself.  So the issues you reference are totally germane.

One recent article I've found interesting is by John Kabat-Zinn, regarding the usefulness of meditation during dystopian times:  https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-017-0758-2

The application of meditation and its neuroscientific basis to the theory and practice of literature and the arts, all viewed within a network context, may offer some promising avenues of progress for human systems and could ideally help with better solutions for inequality and climate change.  No guarantees of course but the efforts could be valuable even when unsuccessful if part of a learning process.

The mini-bookshelf (not without major flaws and omissions) I'm pondering these days includes: Calvino's Six Memos for the Next Millennium (on the novel as network, and self as network); David Bohm's On Dialogue (which discusses communication, creativity, and the "proprioception of thought" that resembles mindfulness); Olaf Sporns' Networks of the Brain (which relates neuroscience to networks in a significantly new way); and James Austin's Chase, Chance, and Creativity: the Lucky Art of Novelty (from 1979, which presents a network-oriented model of scientific innovation and presages his 1998 book Zen and the Brain).

Reality of course, perhaps by definition, does not always respond to our wishes, so I definitely need to temper the flights of optimism I sometimes entertain with grains of salt and realism.  I like to believe that hopefulness can have a cyclical role vis-a-vis realism which can have a positive or at least acceptably inquisitive impact.

Thanks again for your reply and all best regards,


From: NetBehaviour <netbehaviour-bounces at lists.netbehaviour.org> on behalf of Gretta Louw via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Sent: Thursday, September 26, 2019 2:55 AM
To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>
Cc: Gretta Louw <gretta.elise.louw at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] Our long global nightmare is over

I enjoyed reading this / hoping for this, though a big part of me is not buying the idea that we’ve woken up nor that the nightmare is over.

I meditate myself (mostly starting out as a coping mechanism that helped me deal with anxiety-insomnia), but also see a lot of truth in criticisms that the mindfulness obsession of today is very much about relocating angst about the state of the world and legitimate discontent with political, environmental, and social injustices to tensions going on within the mind of the individual. i.e. the system is not broken -> you’re broken. Here’s one article I dredged up on short notice but I think not the best one: https://theconversation.com/mcmindfulness-buddhism-as-sold-to-you-by-neoliberals-88338

I think often about a talk I happened to hear by a buddhist meditation teacher who explained that he first got into meditation - in the 60s - as a way of dealing with his fear of dying while he was protesting the Vietnam War. He went on to talk about how people often consider meditating an apolitical act, or wonder how ‘just sitting’ can affect change in the world. He said meditating is just sitting, but it matters *where* you sit.

Some morning thoughts…

take care all,

On 25. Sep 2019, at 22:52, Max Herman via NetBehaviour <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org<mailto:netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org>> wrote:

History is indeed a nightmare, but fortunately we have now all woken up!

Networks are not about technology.  They are about living things, first and foremost.  Plants, people, coral reefs, polar bears.  These are the real networks of value.

The purpose of the technology networks is to serve and support the life-networks, not to be ends in themselves and certainly not vice-versa.  Life-networks are both individuals and groups.

Now that the nightmare is over we can focus on individual wellness via mindfulness, natural-intelligence-positive neuroplasticity, and a new birth of genius across all nations to save the planet and ourselves.

It's a great time to be a living intelligence!

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