Best Experienced With: Arcade Fire & David Bowie; Wake Up
(please right click on the link below to open the suggested ideal background song to this evening’s treatise on life, love, fractals, business, and Chaos Theory. Damn fine tune. “You gotta look out below!” Indeed.)
At its very core, and in the most simplistic terms, life is messy. Not the “slosh your latte over the top of the Starbucks cup and get vanilla flavoring on your hand” messy. The “three year old getting into the grape jelly and spreading it all over your new white living room furniture” messy. Life is random and whenever you have randomness, you get a mess.
Science and mathematics embrace this messiness and there are thousands of books and scholarly articles on Chaos Theory. The fundamental precept of Chaos Theory is that underlying all the disordered and chaotic systems, there is order. We may never, ever see it….yet there is order. In Mr. Lorenz’s research described below, the order presented itslef in the form of a double helix with enough data points. There is always order in chaos. If you saw Jurassic Park and were equally entertained and annoyed by Jeff Goldbum’s character, Dr. Ian Malcolm, you had an introduction to Chaos Theory.
Have always found it interesting that anyone hires Jeff Goldblum to “act” in movies; primarily because he is the same character in each and every one of his movies. Same facial expressions, same intonation, same delivery, same everything. Watch The Fly, Jurassic Park, and The Big Chill and Independence Day in an eight hour movie marathon and you will see that Jeff Goldblum is the same character in each and every one of those movies.
It’s a wonder Jeff Goldblum gets new jobs. Same with Rob Lowe, Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy, Ally Sheedy, and Molly Ringwald. John Hughes had it easy because he knew that each of those actors would deliver anything he wrote precisely the same way. In fact, if you have three televisions, cue up The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, and Sixteen Candles, one on each television. Invite over friends who have seen none of the John Hughes movies and run them from room to room, changing rooms every four minutes. Odds are good that your friends will think they have seen one single John Hughes movie in three different rooms.
Back to Dr. Ian Malcom in Jurrasic Park. He has one of the best lines in the flick when he said “life finds a way” in that eerie, foreshadowing voice that was the same intonation and delivery as each and every other line Jeff Goldblum has ever uttered in a movie. Dr. Malcom was correct because nature is complex and unpredictable, like everything in life, love, and business.
Up until Edward Lorenz was playing with a weather predicting model on his computer at MIT in 1961, most businesses, governments, and people believed that everything in the universe was directly caused by other things. Lorenz (and many others who followed him in math, biology, economics, ad infinitum) proved the sensitive dependence on initial conditions which postulates (and proves mathematically) that just a minute change in the initial conditions can drastically change the long-term behavior of a system. Instead of typing .506127, Lorenz typed only .506 and the results veered drastically from the normal pattern described when he typed in .506127. Theoretically, the results should not have been that far off from the predicted pattern because those last three digits are impossible to measure using reasonable methods.
Chaos Theory was born of this and many brilliant folks followed with applications in other disciplines. John May in biology with populations growth rates, Helge von Koch with the Koch curve in mathematics, and Ray Bradbury in his time travel short story A Sound of Thunder. A Sound of Thunder coined the phrases “ripple effect” and “the butterfly effect which we’ve all heard or seen in the movie The Butterfly Effect. Which did not have Jeff Goldblum. Thank God.
“The flapping of a single butterfly’s wing today produces a tiny change in the state of the atmosphere. Over a period of time, what the atmosphere actually does diverges from what it would have done. So, in a month’s time, a tornado that would have devastated the Indonesian coast doesn’t happen. Or maybe one that wasn’t going to happen, does.” (Ian Stewart, Does God Play Dice? The Mathematics of Chaos, pg. 141)
Sigmund Freud’s theories and therapy nonsense are disproven by Chaos Theory. Dr. Freud and his psychoanalysis followers would have us believe that malfunctions in the mind are the results of traumas suffered in the past. Regression would allow us to stroll down memory lane, pinpoint the sore spot and rub it away with Freud’s healing techniques that were again based on linear cause and effect. Chaos Theory, however, teaches us that nature most often works in patterns, which are caused by the sum of many tiny pulses. Chaos Theory makes a eunuch out of Freudian psychology.
The Random smashed me into the antidote to Freudian psychoanalysis and when I was in Nepal during a work hiatus a few years back. In order to get the most out of my month in Nepal, I asked the concierge at my Kathmandu hotel to please hook me up with two younger tour guides for a week: one Hindu and one Buddhist. Was Catholic at the time (this was before my anti-pedophile priest epiphany) and wanted to get a good feel for the Nepalese religions while seeing the sites. Hindus and Buddhists live peacefully side by side in Nepal and you’ll find their ridiculously cool temples side by side in Kathmandu. And monkeys! Shitloads of monkeys! None of them tossing their poop indiscriminantly…;iving peacefully at the Kathmandu temples with no poop throwing. Fascinating! I digress.
At its very core, and in the most simplistic terms, Buddhism embraces the fact that life is messy. According to the Buddhist doctrine birth is suffering. Sickness, old age and death are all suffering. Suffering also arises out of frustrated desire and our habit of grasping. All pain and suffering is caused by grasping. If we don’t get what we want we suffer. If we lose something we suffer. Desire, even when satisfied, may lead to suffering as we may lose the object that satisfies that desire. Everything and everyone is transient. When we cease to grasp, we begin to find enlightenment, skipping down that path to the end of suffering.
Siddhartha Gautama and Edward Lorenz would have gotten along swimmingly and I like to picture them smashing their blue Foster’s oil cans together while making a toast of “Freud was a slap dick and Jeff Goldblum sucks”. The ideal religion for Chaos Theory adherents is Buddhism. Mr. Lorenz and Siddhartha Gautama would then have a fun discussion about how messy life, love and business are. Each would then laugh uproariously and yell “of course they are” in unison while digging into the nachos they ordered.
The song you cued up above there is solid example of Freudian cause and effect silliness. I’m going to see Arcade Fire play at the Orpheum Theater on April 28th in Memphis Tennessee. Cool little old theater venue that will surely blow apart at the seams when Arcade Fire cranks up the tune you cued up when you started reading. That’s going to be a great show. Going to think about Mr. Lorenz and Siddhartha Gautama when Arcade Fire sings “We’re just a million little clouds causing rain storms turning every good thing to rust…I guess we’ll just have to adjust.”
Because that Arcade Fire lyric, Chaos Theory, and Buddhism each teach us how to deal with life, business, and love. You treat the highs and lows the same….much like they used to throw out the Russian and United States scores during the Olympic gymnastics competition in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Let go and allow the chaos to show itself in order down the road. And look out below.
What Mr. Lorentz found…….