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Civil Energetics

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pattern integrity [Jan. 25th, 2012|01:37 pm]
Civil Energetics


I've been playing way too much World Of Goo lately. I'm particularly charmed right now with what happens when you push the reset button on the sandbox game. All the balls disconnect from each other except for three at the center, just above the button. If the game didn't leave those three to start with, there would be no place to start a pattern of goo balls.

In some game levels, the challenge is simply to transmit that pattern across the board to 'wake up' more sleepy units, and add them to the existing pattern: you don't even need to keep the old thread going. If you start the skulls from this pattern, you can walk them almost all the way to the pipe and then hand place each goo ball to finish the level.

The pattern exists independently from the container. When Buckminster Fuller is explaining pattern integrity, he uses the metaphor of rope, spliced into a different kind of rope, spliced into yet another rope. If you tie a knot at the hemp end, and move the knot through past where it becomes nylon, and well into the steel cable, the knot doesn't care what kind of rope is containing it, it's still a knot. So too with the cells of the human body: each type of cell is individually replaceable, and in seven years, none of your cells will be the same cells that exist now. Most of the patterns will remain, and you'll have a continuity of life.

I also think the horcruxes of Harry Potter are an imaginary example of this kind of thing: instill your life's force into such an object, and the pattern can continue, you'll come to live in a completely different body from the one you started with.

Lately when I rummage through my parts bin, I imagine I'm looking for a horcrux, the one magical item that will remind me what it is I wanted in the first place. It's hardly my soul's true pattern, but it's part of the puzzle.

And when I turn my gaze to OWS and its goals, I see the same challenge turned inside-out. How can we completely shift the pattern that our institutions have been following, without creating a lethal discontinuity of service? Like upgrading a computer operating system while still maintaining day to day service levels, it's a nontrivial problem.

Such patterns are infectious!