Friday, September 16, 2011

Growth, Organization And Entropy in Cultural Process

An all too brief look at organic progress and regression as a natural occurrence in human cultural endeavor.


As described in the past several journal intries, the architecture of Zaha Hadid is a physical demonstration of organic growth and organization. In A Thousand Plateaus Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari proposed the notion of the rhizome as a process applicable to cultural processes. I dealt with the idea in this journal, particularly in “Metamodernism: Parts II & III, on June 2nd and 23rd, 2011” respectively. * 1 In those journal entries I stated that a rhizome has a two-dimensional growth pattern, and that the pattern of growth and entropy in human social organization would of necessity be a three- dimensional process. I based that observation in part on Vermeulen and Van den Akker’s ideation in “Notes on Metamodernism.” * 2 In those entries I also mentioned creationist criticism of all science that has anything to do with organic processes. I did so in order to debunk such a notion as less than plausible. Creationist criticism of organic science is based on the notion that the 2nd law of Thermodynamics (hereafter “the 2nd Law) is wrong. That creationist criticism of natural science is non sequitur. Let me explain. The 2nd law sets forth the tendency for all physical processes to tend toward equilibrium or stasis in a closed system. The non sequitur involves two missteps. First, life on earth is not a closed system in a mechanical process. Second, even if it were, the 2nd Law does not refer to random processes such as the variability of snowflakes, lightning, or planets. In short, the 2nd Law has nothing to do with evolutionary theory and/or the growth and organization of organic material. Perhaps they confuse the concept of homeostasis in organic processes with the 2nd Law. In any event, they are confused and illogical.

I have also stated that I'm ambivalent about the Deluze and Guatarri concept “rhizome” because it is two-dimensional. More often than not, human cultural process, including oppositional process is three-dimensional. Consider our own nation. Yes, we can trace a linear development from British colony to Twenty-first Century nation. Within that process, however, one must consider the development of our political two party system, the notion of separation of powers, and the sharing of power among the branches of government (presidency, legislature and courts),as well as the constitution and constitutional interpretation by the courts and others within the culture. Such variation can best be described in two dimensions. However, we must also look at the development of other newer institutions over time many of which are opposed by still other institutions in the larger culture of our democracy. These have proliferated, and their development is a random process that can only be described in more than two-dimensional terms. For instance – without casting aspersions on either side of the following binary opposition - take the cultural reaction to the reality of human sexuality as being variable. Michele Bachman and husband, PhD. Marcus Bachman own a Christian counseling service, “Bachman and Associates” that tries to counsel homosexuals out of their homosexuality. In opposition to that practice is the more largely held cultural position that homosexuality is caused by a combination of biological, genetic, and behavioral factors that are not amenable to counseling and change. Examples of cultural institutionalization of such binary oppositions are rife, and they demonstrate the 3-dimensional quality to cultural variability. I proposed a model for that 3-dimensional variability in the above mentioned journal entry of June 2nd 2011.

I also advance here the idea that Metamodern architectural practice as conducted by Herzog and de Meuron, Daniel Libeskind, Peter Cook and Colin Fournier, Zaha Hadid and others is - for varied reasons based on each architects oeuvre - a physical three-dimensional visualization of the random cultural processes described here, and I will spend much time in the future developing and describing that notion in more detail.


* images from archdaily at Viewed Thursday, August 18, 2011. It is understood that one time use of images for intellectual purpose is acceptable under U.S. copyright law.

* 1 Deleuze, Gilles, & Guattari, Felix, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism & Schizophrenia, Minneapolis: 1987.

* 2 Vermeulen, Timotheus, and van den Akker, Robin, “Notes on Metamodernism,” in Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, Vol. 2, 2010 DOI: 10.3402/jac.v1i0.5677. On line at, visited 10:35 AM, EDT, Thursday, June 23, 2011.

1 comment:

Betsy Grant said...

This building does appear to be a rather "living" thing doesn't it. It almost looks like it could melt right into the surrounding area from the angle of this photo.