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Igniting An East-West Globalizing Dialogue

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The Syntax of Fire

10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. — Matthew 3:10-12 (KJV)

 29 For our God is a consuming fire.  — Hebrews 12:29 (KJV)

There are a myriad references in the Christian Bible to fire as a purgatory, purifier, baptizer, and consumer.  Historically, man has used fire to manage vegetation, maximize food production, contain undesirable plants and pathogens, harvest desirable plant communities for livestock or wildlife, reduce fuel loads, and restore historical disturbance regimes (David A. Pike, Matthew L. Brooks, Carla D’Antonio, “Fire as a Restoration Tool: A Decision Framework for Predicting the Control or Enhancement of Plants Using Fire,” Restoration Ecology, 2010).  As restoration ecologists have shown, fire is a highly effective restorative tool.  However, one does not need to be an ecologist or a Christian to acknowledge the utility of fire.

Religion and ecology aside, fire – the act of purging, purifying, and restoring by fire – is an apt call to action today.  Now, more than ever, we must ignite a globalizing dialogue to purge our past miscues and its ensuing calamities in the global arena.  There is no excuse to delay any further.

Through electronic technologies, individuals have already mediated their effective agency at the world arena, thus defying classical limitations of time, space, and geography.  At the quantum level, scientists have stumbled upon the pentaquark giving us an informative glimpse into the composition and life of the neutron star (Gautam Naik, “Scientists Discover An Elusive Particle,” The Wall Street Journal, 15 July 2015).  At the cosmological level, NASA scientists are gathering more accurate data on our galaxy and reconsidering past decisions about Pluto, Ceres, the Kuiper belt, and the asteroid belt (David A. Weintraub, “Pluto a Planet Again? It May Happen This Year,” The Crux, 25 February 2015).

In science and technology, we are accomplishing extraordinary feats.  At the individual level, we are leveraging our creativity in ‘outside-of-the-box’ ways to effect meaningful change (please see my prior posts referencing Bolter and Grusin, Mackenzie Wark, and/or Howard Rheingold).  And yet, at the international political arena, we have yet to see an equal level of innovative creativity towards communicative action in the name of effective collaboration.  From disparity to unity, will our world’s nations ever bridge their ties of discord?

As with all communication, syntax – in tandem with semantics and pragmatics – is critical. The inflammatory connotation of “ignite” is apropos for the kind of global dialogue necessary today [hence the title of my book Igniting an East-West Globalizing Dialogue Volume I: Thus Spoke Chuang Tzu (www.outskirtspress.com/thusspokechuangtzu.php)].  It is imperative that we burn all remnants of our past miscues and oversights of cultural ignorance and insensitivity.  For a comprehensively educated viewpoint (CEV) of cultural nuances among nations and between individuals across cultural boundaries, let us take the first step to emblazon a bold new path.

And after the embers fade, the land will be restored anew and so too, his soul for “[i]f a plant cannot live accordingly to nature, it dies; and so a man” (Henry David Thoreau, On Civil Disobedience).


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The Da Vinci-Heatherwick Paradigm: Creativity is the Key

When I was growing up, I was exposed to…invention on a small scale.  And I was there looking at the larger scale of buildings and finding that the buildings…felt soulless and cold.  And there on the smaller scale, the scale of an earring or a ceramic pot or a musical instrument, was a materiality and a soulfulness.  And this influenced me.”  –Thomas Heatherwick, TED2011

Extolled as “the Leonardo da Vinci of our times” by renowned designer Terence Conran, Thomas Heatherwick is a rather extraordinary individual worthy of Conran’s apt praise.  Looking through his studio’s body of work, one can easily discern a thread of consistency: Heatherwick is a brilliant genius of genuinely novel creativity rivaled only by the Great Masters of the Renaissance.  And this is no exaggeration.

In every sense and measure, his projects are the best representations of realized Infinite Creative Potentiality to-date with a uniquely compelling and palpable soulfulness:

Extrusions – listed under the category of ‘small projects’, Extrusions exemplify Heatherwick’s use of the discarded by accentuating mutation and bestowing it with everyday functionality.  Formed by a single, continuous component of aluminum into seating for airports, Extrusions seamlessly combine form with function.

Piggyback and Plank – also listed under the category of ‘small projects’, the Piggyback table(s) and the Plank table-chair are stunning examples of functionality with secret (dual) forms.  Indeed, the Piggyback is a set of seamlessly nestled tables (one on top of the other) that can be placed side-by-side, end-to-end, or used separately as two distinct tables.  Similarly, the Plank can be folded up into a table or a chair when it is not lying flat on the floor or propped up against a wall.  For both pieces, complexity of craftsmanship combine with simplicity of design in beautiful symmetry.

Rolling Bridge – listed under the category of ‘medium projects’, the Rolling Bridge in London is unique in its extraordinary and novel movement.  As Heatherwick states at TED2011, “…we liked the idea that the two farthest bits of it would end up kissing each other.”  Indeed, end-point unites with start-point each time the bridge curls back to open for boats.

UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010 – listed under the category of ‘large projects’, the UK Pavilion focuses on the power of “simplicity and clarity” through a dialogue between cities and nature, plants and human health, economic success and social change, interior and exterior, form and texture, and form and content.  Heatherwick designed the building façade to manifest its content, and the texture of the façade to take on the building’s form.  As a “cathedral to seeds”, the pavilion itself offers tangible symbols of “potential and promise”.  And in the landscape alone, form becomes the message from one nation (UK) to another (China): “The pavilion is sitting on a landscape that is crumpled and folded like a sheet of paper, which suggests that the pavilion is a gift from the UK to China, still partly enclosed in wrapping paper.”  In its entirety, the Pavilion represents the UK’s stunning creativity as a “pioneer of the modern public park.”

The SWF Answered:

Infinite Potentiality Theory announces the dawn of the Transcendent Era.  With the help of e-technologies, the individual has overcome erstwhile limitations of time, space, and geography.  However, it is not technology alone but rather creativity that is our transcendence.  Heatherwick is one of the best representations of that caliber of creativity defying limitations, overcoming obstacles, inspiring greatness, galvanizing ingenuity, and catalyzing meaningfully positive progress forward.

At every turn, Heatherwick is a trailblazer and the world is magnificently elevated by his example.


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The Pope, Hope, and The Four Pillars

This month, Pope Francis is calling for the “globalization of hope…which springs up from peoples and takes root among the poor, and must replace the globalization of exclusion and indifference” (Frances X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, “Pope Calls for ‘Globalization of Hope’,” 10 July 2015).  Respectfully, I ask him to reconsider (the syntax of) his statement.  Humbly, I suggest replacing “globalization” with “universalization” because of the inherent meaning behind each word:

Globalization” generally denotes the act of extending to all parts of the world and is thought of as a movement towards worldwide integration and development.

Universalization” generally denotes something used, understood, affecting, concerning, or involving all or the whole that can be possessed in common, characterizes all or most members of a class, and may be applied throughout the universe to many things (e.g., an entity that can be in many places simultaneously).

Hope is a universal characteristic inherent to all individuals across political, economic, and social background.  For as long as s/he breathes in life, s/he possesses hope.  And like all inherent traits, this hope – in its entirety – cannot be taken away.

I repeat: by its very nature, hope is universal.  Although it is not immune from diminishing circumstance(s), it remains characteristic of each and every individual as such.  To say hope is something that should be globalized is counterintuitive; it is something all individuals already possess, universally.

The distinction between “globalization” and “universalization” is important.  When we are globalizing something, we are expanding its worldwide application, integration, use, and/or development.  Accordingly, the act extends its reach to untapped peoples, places, and things.  When we are universalizing something, we are affecting what applies characteristically to an entire class of individuals.  That character is what they each already possess intrinsically as a trait, with application as such.

In other words, globalization very often involves bridging distances and bringing together disparate entities that were not otherwise bridged or integrated.  Hope already exists within all individuals.  As a universal, it does not need to be bridged over or integrated to those who already possess it.

Circling back to the Pope’s message, it is well worthwhile to remind all individuals of their intrinsic right to and inherent possession of hope.  Rather than call for a “globalization of hope,” it would be meaningful and even more far-reaching to globalize a dialogue qua global communicative action.  During the course of this globalizing dialogue, the intention would be to globalize four critical pillars of this Transcendent Era: creativity, freedom, tolerance, and understanding.

Electronic technologies have already mediated the individual’s effective agency to overcome erstwhile limitations of time, space, and geography.  Indeed, one person really can make a difference and s/he can do so in a meaningfully significant way.  Likewise, within the political, economic, and social spheres, individuals have already bridged impossible distances in a truly globalizing manner, paving the way for meaningfully positive change.

So it is with reverence and humility that I ask the Pope and all individuals to reconsider the call to ‘globalize hope’.  Instead, I ask all to globalize the four pillars.  And by so doing, I call everyone to reclaim transcendence over all possible obstacles.

Now, more than ever, we must wholeheartedly adopt a defiance against repression, intolerance, terrorism, and fear.  In their place, we must firmly implant creativity, freedom, tolerance, and understanding.  Combined, these pillars are invincible and worthy of bulwarking our present reality and those of future generations to come.


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Modern Bridges to the Past

It’s not the digital revolution. James Murdoch is right. Look around you man, it’s the television revolution!”  –Michael Wolffjune, The New York Times, “How Television Won the Internet,” 29 June 2015

In “How Television Won the Internet,” Michael Wolffjune writes about the battle between television and digital media.  More to the point, he explains how television regained its rightful crown while colonizing the Internet in the process.  In a series of ironic ‘flips’, television proved itself superior time and again.

The most telling ‘flip’ of positions masterfully executed by television is illustrated in the YouTube story:

When YouTube threatened to become a TV piracy site, television…dragged Google, YouTube’s owner, into a painful spiral of litigation.  A throwback like Mr. Redstone turned YouTube from pirater to licenser.  He made Google his customer.”

Another significant ‘flip’ of positions centers on advertising:

Mass-market TV upgraded to class, while digital media…chased lowbrow mass.”

As television decreases its adverts, digital is “…drowning in free.”  Television chases paying customers while digital chases views, one click at a time:

The fundamental recipe for media success…is the same as it used to be: a premium product that people pay attention to and pay money for.  Credit cards, not eyeballs.”

In touting itself as the ‘next revolution’ entertainment medium that will usurp television’s throne, digital media proved just the opposite.  Ironically, television swapped places with digital media in terms of advertising.  While digital media is oversaturated by advertising, television is freeing itself from its historic reliance on advertising dollars to sustain itself.  Wising up, television cut through the ‘middle man’ and collects directly from paying subscribers.  More importantly, television offers quality worth its value to said subscribers.

The battle between television and digital is one between quality and quantity, dollars and eyeballs.  There is something to be said of television’s victory.  Indeed, China could learn a valuable lesson as it struggles through its falling political credibility, a plummeting stock market, and a virtually eviscerated middle class (Edward Wong and Chris Buckley, The New York Times, “Credibility of China’s Leaders Takes a Hit Along with Markets,” 9 July 2015).  On all four of its corners, its bubble looks like it will burst.

The SWF Answered:

The battle between television and digital media is one between a seemingly obsolete colossus and an omnipresent, ever-dominant technology.  However, the obsolete colossus bucked its fated trajectory to reclaim a new one with an even stronger foundation and an infinitely vast potentiality.  As China faces an imminent burst of its bubble and soon-to-be-forgotten “China dream”, it must prove its ‘mettle’ by seizing a new path away from its current trajectory.

It will be a matter of time which way it turns.

Perhaps we can send it the following image, courtesy of Iowa:

The High Trestle Trail Bridge in Central Iowa features an art installation mounted in forty-one spots along half a mile.  The installation is lit up by blue LED lights and is the work of David B. Dahlquist.  For landscape architect, Doug Smith of EDSA, the installation reminds him of a drill bit and the bridge represents to him “…the expansiveness of the land and the ability to repurpose old things for a modern use” (Heidi Mitchell, The Wall Street Journal, “A Bridge to New Ideas In the Iowa Countryside,” 2 July 2015).

It will be very telling how China repurposes itself and indeed, if it can reclaim its potentiality…


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Transcending Our Past

“I think of the past and the future as well as the present to determine where I am, and I move on while thinking of these things.”  –Tadao Ando

The life of the ever-present Spirit is a cycle of stages, which, on the one hand, co-exist side by side, but, on the other hand, seem to be past.  The moment which Spirit seems to have left behind, it still possesses in the depth of its present.” –Hegel, Reason in History

In every sense and measure, the past is with us, guiding our steps forward. It is up to us to determine the depth of its influence. Whether we let our past constrain, empower, or desensitize us, we are inexorable walking histories. Of course, this is critically relevant to the erstwhile paradigm.

Infinite Potentiality Theory (IPT) describes the qualitative ontological paradigm shift of dyads from the phenomenological-metaphysical duality to the infinite creative potentiality (ICP)-ultimate freedom (UF) collaborative interrelationship. In other words, we shifted from a tension between existence and essence to a collaborative interrelationship between creativity and freedom of and from the self. As a result, the individual is posited in an ‘other’ framework wherein he can make a meaningfully positive difference. Like outward-radiating waves, he achieves this beyond his locus to that of future generations.

This shift came about as soon as the individual activated his effective e-presence – at the individual level – to make a meaningful difference. This occurred circa 2001 in the Philippines, with the first successful political revolution mediated by portable e-technologies (please see Howard Rheingold’s Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution). Within four (4) days, “Generation Txt” demonstrated the power of the text message to topple a government. More importantly, they proved it on the global arena.

There is something to be said of little ripples in big oceans. Without notice, they quickly become tsunamis. A seemingly innocuous medium – the cellular device – and the simple act of text messaging turned into the ‘next generation’ metonymic adage of: “the pen is mightier than the sword.”

More importantly, the Philippine smart mob collaborated creatively to resolve a ‘problem’ in a completely novel way. Defying evidence of their past history, they remained undeterred. One could say they were even fueled by their past limitations. In an act of its wholehearted rejection, they used a significantly advanced methodology relative to the time, which would itself prove to have infinite future potentiality, and they did so in a revolutionary way.

A revolution indeed…

The SWF Answered:

Before the paradigm shift, the challenge of limitations overshadowed us. Rather perniciously, it inhibited our effective agency towards meaningful empowerment. Trapped in the quagmire of self-imposed gossamer nets of personal histories, the individual was confined to a self-mode of existing, rather than an other-mode of living life.

After the paradigm shift, the individual activated his own empowerment. On a global level, he transcended his past by overcoming erstwhile limitations of time, space, and geography. On an individual level, he became liberated from his self and all related – mundane – fetters. So liberated, he could focus on the other relative to the impact of his footprint.

Jettisoning obstacles of self-considerations, he can now focus on elevating others to the same.

From the one to the many…

Moving from a self-mentality focused on the one to an other-mentality focused on the many, the individual can create measures and means of transcendence in very real and practical ways. He already mediated overcoming time-space-geography constraints. He has proven himself at the individual level to create meaningful change in the political, economic, and social spheres.

So the questions remain:

How will you face your past?

What will be your transcendence?