Monday, March 29, 2021

More Wikipedia Talk on Facebook

I don't see the A,B,T,E,S modules as an isolated topic in that they're constituents of the concentric hierarchy, itself defined in terms of the sphere packing lattice (IVM). The concentric hierarchy, with its Jitterbug Transformation, provides the beating heart core of Synergetics.

When we call Synergetics explorations of the geometry of thinking, we mean these streamlining, simplifying heuristics that have more whole number memorability than standard fare e.g. 10th grade "plane geometry" with polyhedrons in the back of the book and not always reached.

Descartes Deficit, Euler's V+F=E+2, and the spherical spin networks fit into the same tight little framework of interconnecting ideas, a "memory palace" of useful concepts. We get the language of systems, spheres of relevance (omnidirectional halo), concavity and convexity, frequency (time/size) and angle (eternal shape).

Given Fuller's (a) overall prominence independently of people reading and commenting on Synergetics and (b) folk fascination with polyhedral geometry, I'm somewhat shocked at how few papers since the 1970s, even if only about obscure corners of grade school pedagogy, deign to take up the concentric hierarchy from any angle. The volumes table in Wikipedia is practically nowhere echoed in the culture by any other authors. Yet that volumes table, which includes the modules, is what Synergetics is so much about.

Sure, there're a few of us, but way too few for comfort, who carry the torch. But I find it semi-incredible, yet true, that elementary and middle school teachers across the board have no exposure to A,B,T,E,S in the course of their training, either in math or in the American literature of the 1900s. People treat the concentric hierarchy as something deep that should be left to the specialists, whereas the actual subject matter is closer to kindergarten than college. By now, the 40 year gap in attention, the malign neglect of these innovations, has become the story, as much as the concentric hierarchy itself. What was the reason for this neglect?

A New Englander from Bear Island writes densely philosophical prose ala Poe's Eureka, wherein he celebrates the Individual, over governments and corporations, as the source of wealth and culture, and with a "hotline to God". Very Emersonian. And his great aunt was Margaret Fuller. To not classify Fuller as in the American Transcendentalist lineage would seem an error, not that such a classification is exclusive of other ways to compartmentalize. But for the sake of curriculum coherence, we've got a useful pigeon-hole. I've taken up the matter with a Transcendentalist group here on Facebook and received zero push-back. They're into it.

Probably the best argument that Fuller should not be considered a Transcendentalist is that by convention that chapter in literature has been tied off as a pre civil war phenomenon. The Buddhist idea of a "lineage" that goes for hundreds of years, does not seem to apply when telling America's story. Were it not for the convention of saying the age of the transcendentalists is over already, I'd say including Fuller within that lineage is a no brainer.

To my mind, Bucky waited until towards the end of his life to publish Synergetics because he knew a strong track record would help. Having people willing to work with you and take business risks with you is testament to their not thinking you're full of snake oil. We already have Applewhite and Loeb attesting from their two different angles that Synergetics is not a waste of time.

Ergo I think the Concentric Hierarchy was already sitting in clover (with color plates and everything) when a next generation showed up and maybe decided to neglect its cultural heritage.

This is not an argument from authority. I dove into the subject and checked the math. Koski has showed directions forward e.g. VE:Icosa = S:E isn't that spelled out. The whole game of using phi-scaled E and S modules to fill other volumes shows me his getting the Synergetics Explorer Award was not based on snake oil.

My story of Synergetics: The Invention Behind the Inventions is also plenty compelling, when you stand it up next to all the papers and lectures devoted to far less ambitious topics than Fuller's memory palace.

The reasons for all this malign neglect do not necessarily trace to shortcomings in Synergetics. Fuller himself put his finger on it in what Nature calls one of the most influential works on the topic of sustainability, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth: he said overspecialization was the biggest threat i.e. no academic department sees fit to tackle anything so manifestly multi-disciplinary. Easier to attack the messenger with all these canards about Fuller's lack of intellectual integrity. Smear tactics and character assassination. The car flipped over, the domes leaked, and every idea he had was a popularization of someone else's. He became a target.

I choose to side with Applewhite and Loeb over these featherweight detractors who are losing the battle for hearts and minds.