The Complex Consumes the Simple - Evolution?

by Satanus 4 Replies latest jw friends

  • Satanus

    An interesting analysis. Whatchoo think?


    Copyright (c) Jan M. Cox, 1988



    This approach can explain a lot of things and, after all, you're got to operate when the blue light special is on. So let's forge ahead: The Complex Consumes the Simple. There are all kinds of phenomena having to do with human life, with the human nervous system, that this piece of information can chew up like a lawn mower.

    The Complex Consumes the Simple. This is true in every way imaginable: physically, emotionally, and especially intellectually. And it's true in other ways, apparently outside the individual realm: culturally, tec hnologically and academically. So in order to hit both ends of a very wide spectrum, I'll give some examples.

    The first one deals with the physical end of the spectrum. Consider what happened when the Europeans took over America from the American Indians and the Spanish took over from the South American Indians. From any p oint of view you want to take, the Europeans -- even the crudest of them -- were more complex than the Indians. And the outcome of the meeting between the two groups was inevitable.

    Now jump to the other end of the spectrum and look at science. Quantum physics consumes Newtonian physics -- just eats it up. Remember I'm not saying there is some objective reality to quantum physics -- I'm just p ointing out an example of something complex swallowing up a simpler explanation. Whenever there is a dynamic involving two people or two theories or two things -- the basic dynamic is that the complex is there to consume the simple.

    I'm going to ramble and bounce off as many examples as possible. What about the startling reports that occasionally reach civilized humanity about the existence of cannibalism? Or some biologist verifies an instanc e of an animal eating one of its own kind. This is extremely unusual, and seems startling, even despicable. Why does it seem so? If you ask people about why they're so repelled by cannibalism, they'll talk about the sa nctity of human life. But what is really going on is that the process I've described -- the complex consuming the simple -- has been interfered with: one level is consuming the same level. In Life, that's a waste of ti me or worse. When that happens, there will be no progress, things won't get any better.

    Notice that all human studies are involved with tracing this process back down the line:


    All studies in every discipline are involved in attempting to go back down this line. The researchers are all headed toward that which is more simplistic than they are. Consider any field you can think of: in religion, psychology and all forms of science the attempt is made to run back down this line. And by attempting this, they are always studying the past.

    The pursuit of the more simplistic is the pursuit of the past. A psychologist might deny it -- "No, I'm studying live humans, running them through mazes right now!" -- but even that kind of study is a pursuit of the past. You might note there is a real dearth of future studies. Every few years, some topnotch college tries to set up a "Department of Future Studies." They hire faculty members who say they're studying the future. There have even been books written supposedly pointing out future trends. Yet all these attempts at future studies don't last long -- and the reason has nothing to do with a lack of good teachers or texts.

    Listen to what I'm telling you. It's so simple you might be astounded that you've never looked at it this way -- except the nervous system is not constructed to look this way. The past is always simpler than the on e studying the past. This is an indisputable, mathematical fact in the 3-D world. And this fact is not dependent on the characteristics of individuals. If Man A is more complex than Man B and both are studying the past, that doesn't matter: If Man A has a Ph.D. in history and he studies the past, what he studies -- the past -- will be more simplistic than he is. If Man B has a high school education and he studies the past, the same thing will be true. Man B might come away with a less complex impression BUT his impression remains simpler than he is. That's a mathematical fact.

    The past is ALWAYS simpler than the one studying it. That, among other reasons, accounts for the unending popularity of the past. That accounts for the reoccurring "noble savage" syndrome and the "glory of Greece" (which, by the way, was a nineteenth century invention). In the face of unease with the technology of their time, people turn to the past, to a simpler time.

    Why do you think people love antiques? If the appeal was aesthetic, then somebody would be redoing Chippendales and manufacturing Queen Anne chairs today. And that manufacturer would drive out the antique dealers, since normally antiques cost more. Consider why antiques keep hanging around.

    Why does Bach remain popular? Nowadays you have girls and boys in undergraduate school who can sit down and in no time write a brand new "Bach" fugue. Yet there's no demand for that. Why not? Why are people all o ver the world are dying to find an authentic undiscovered Bach piece, when they can have brand new ones? You can try to convince yourself there is something spiritual, mystical, artistic -- something deeper -- about this if you want to. There's not. The "noble savage" syndrome was not started by Rousseau. People ar e always looking for something simpler than they are. The past will never run out of steam or go out of style.

    On the other hand, the future is always more complex than the one studying it. This is as mathematically true as the first fact, and as unavailable to the ordinary nervous system. The future is always more complex than whoever is trying to study or think about it. This is one reason for the futility of all predictions. If you happen to keep up with predictions as a hobby, surely you realize there has never been anyone whose predi ctions amounted to anything. Anyone who says they can predict the future -- whether they put on a turban or go into a trance or analyze the data -- is as ordinary as they can be. Because the future is more complex than t hey are. If something's more complex than you are now, there's no way you can make anything other than fruitless speculations about it. The future is more complex than you -- there's no way to avoid this. Nothing will change this fact, though if you have the ability to See, seeing this will change you.

    Carry the premise into some other areas. For example, every idea man's ever had about the gods has always been a terrifyingly complex piece of work, has it not? All "gods" were always terrifyingly complex. Think o f any story you've heard about a god. You couldn't depend on him. He'd say, "I want you to do this," and then he'd disappear for a thousand years. He'd burn places down, then tell the people to build them back up. And , just when no one was expecting it, he'd kill everybody. We're talking complex. Apart from any judgment -- good gods, bad gods -- whatever is "god" is complex. Complex, complex, complex. That's man's dream of "god" - - complexity beyond comprehension.

    Any idea of a super being is complex. Since man cannot make himself any more complex, his speculations about "god" come out as a big bundle of complexity. The best ordinary consciousness can do is take all the thin gs man is -- good and bad -- and put them into "god." Nobody walking around could get away with what the gods in the old stories did. Such gods are terrifyingly complex, but are on the same level as you. (So, in a sens e, such gods are not really "complex" as I originally used the word tonight. They're on the same level of simplicity as you are, but more compounded.)

    What about heroes, movie stars, rock musicians and other famous people? Your molecules and hormones get stirred up just hearing their names, seeing them on stage. Having another human being as your hero is tied to the notion that the hero -- or the hero's life -- is more complex than the fan and the fan's life. Why do you want to meet your hero? What is the benefit of reading about this person, of studying them? Why do you get a kick out of just driving by their house or seeing their picture in a magazine? The notion you have is that they are more complex than you, that their life is more complex than yours.

    A person cannot possibly be your hero if you imagine they're simpler that you are. Have you ever had a hero and believed his or her life was duller than yours? That's not mathematically feasible. The belief in com plexity is at the heart of having a hero. Forget any ordinary explanation about why you idolize some star -- "I like the way he dances," "I love the way she plays." Just answer the question for yourself: Can you imagin e your hero's life being simpler than yours; can you imagine your hero being simpler than you?

    Bounce back to an apparently different area -- quantum physics. Physics has almost reached the simple point that is becoming again complex. Here's another rule: Just past everything is itself again. That sounds p oetic and it is. But I'm telling you it's also true in what is known as the natural, physical world. Right past everything (as observed by City science) is itself again. At City level that is always true.

    Very mild shocks, tremors from this make their way into City consciousness and are reflected in such ideas as eternal reoccurrence or the picture of the snake swallowing its own tail. I'm not going to predict exactl y where physics will go next, but watch what's going on in that area of science now. Physics is interesting to watch, because they're up to such a simple point -- continuing to narrow everything down, to make the complex simple, to uncover the building blocks of reality -- that just beyond this point it will repeat itself. Of course, physicists won't notice when that happens. They'll think they're onto something new.

    Here's another one to Consider in light of this rule: the reformed drunk. First he's a drunk, then he's a reformed drunk. It's just him again, without the booze. There's no real change. Right past the guy with t he booze is the guy without the booze -- but it's still the same thing, just sans booze. Which is why a reformed anything doesn't ever smell right and is not good company. They're right past where they were and it's the m all over again.

    As an aside, notice how psychology now refers to the serious professional drinker as exhibiting "addictive behavior." And no one ever realizes that for a reformed person, non-drinking is also addictive behavior. Th at's why there is no real change. In both cases the person is exhibiting addictive -- compulsive -- behavior. If he's reformed, he's now addicted to NOT drinking in the same way he was previously addicted TO drinking.

    "Addictive behavior" is almost a striking term. Because it explains nothing new, but sounds otherwise. The term is an example of verbal repackaging -- repackaging the description of the symptoms. Each time the des cription's repackaged, the new term seems to explain something, to convey some new information, though it doesn't. You go to a conference and hear a new phrase: "addictive behavior." You write it down. Later, you hear the term rippling around -- "addictive behavior, addictive behavior" -- and you feel like progress has been made. "Addictive behavior. That explains it!" No, it doesn't.

    Time and history is another area you could Consider. History is a record of the increasingly complex consuming the simplistic. Time itself -- time as perceived by people -- is the record (right now, not just in his tory) of the more complex consuming the simple. So "time" has a practical meaning. Time is your perceived record of the continual consumption of the simple by the more complex. This applies to people, and to events, an d to movement in space. You perceived sense of time varies. If I ask you what you're thinking, and you have to go to the airport later to pick up a friend, what you have to do later is more complex than what you're doing right now and you' ll be thinking about what you have to do later. At such times, you have an impression -- a personal sense -- of time. Unless you have the more complex consuming the less complex, you have no sense of time at the 3-D lev el. If you're sitting there and you don't have anything at all to do later tonight and I ask you what you're thinking, you'll say, "Oh, I don't know..." because you aren't recording the more complex right then.

    All growth at the 3-D level is the complex consuming the simple, or else what you have is not growth but regression. Personally, you begin to die when your future ceases becoming more complex -- and not necessarily just physically. I can also tie this into the concept of "adulthood." The whole idea of "growing up" is to become more simplistic. When your parents say, "Hey, grow up!" they mean it's time to be more simple.

    "Ok, you've bummed around the country, gotten kicked out of school, gotten your girlfriend pregnant (or gotten pregnant), taken drugs, and fun is okay to a point, but hey, it's get real time." What they mean is you should marry, have the kid, get a job and settle down. They mean you should simplify your life.

    The pressure to become more simple does not just come from external influences. You do it to yourself. As you get older, you literally begin to die -- your life has ceased to become more complex each day. And for most people the process is not reversible. If you personally are not in the process of continuing to become more complex then you are dying. Actually, you're already dead. That's what the doldrums of middle age are all about. Most men have actually been dead for years, but at the age of about forty they start to stink up the place and their condition becomes noticeable.


    Three-dimensional death is the reversal of that process. This is a fact, speaking at the most basic level. When you die worms begin to eat you; microbes go to work. Once you die, more simplistic creatures consume you. (Of course, you can die before you hit the ground.) What all forms of death, regression and involution have in common is that the process of the complex consuming the simple is reversed. (Think of the many hobbies in li fe that fit into this category.)

    Take a look at what routinely happens when the lives of the simplistic become unexpectedly more complex. What happens when a janitor wins the lottery? Generally, the payoff is negative. Most lotteries are won by s implistic (poor) people, since they're in the majority. And what happens? A working person's life operates in a certain way -- it's simplistic compared to winning a million dollars. When that life is made more complex there is a negative payoff. A process of increased complexity occurs unexpectedly and the personal effect is negative. This is so common it's no longer even newsworthy. The janitor wins the lottery, he's ecstatic -- th en, a year later, he's spent all his money and committed suicide, or divorced his wife or become a drunk. His life does not become what he expects or what you would have expected. In fact, when you first read about the janitor from Brooklyn winning the lottery, he becomes almost a hero to you -- perhaps not like your favorite musician, but he suddenly seems interesting. You feel you might like to meet that man, because his life now see ms so much more complex than yours. But look at what really happens to simplistic people who win a ticket to complexity.

    You can also look at what has happened to famous people in history -- they also wind up with their hands full. Or look at what happens to the gods -- think of the stories you've heard. Gods get routinely murdered, crucified and dug back up. The nervous system at one level is attracted to the sensation of the more complex. But what man imagines as more complex is self defeating. No one notices the direct connection between becomi ng suddenly more complex and having big problems; no one notices the detriment to those who suddenly find themselves with more complex lives.

    The idea of "knowing yourself" is a popular one in the City. Yet, if people could see themselves, they wouldn't like it. That is a mathematical fact. If, somehow, they could see and know themselves in the City, be lieve me no one would like it. Because if they could see themselves, they would have stopped the process. They would be observing themselves in the first stage of rigor mortis. To see oneself would require that the pro cess of the complex consuming the simple be stopped.

    At the 3-D level, it's not possible for anyone to see themselves if they are alive. You can't see you as long as you're alive and still becoming more complex. You can only see yourself after the fact. Throughout h istory people have believed, "If I could just know myself, all the answers to the cosmic problems would just fall into place." Actually, if you could see yourself, you would not be seeing you now -- the best you could se e would be you yesterday. And "you" yesterday is less complex that "you" today. So it's not possible in real world time to get an objective fix on yourself.

    If you can hear what I just said then all kinds of things I haven't mentioned tonight will fall into place. For instance, the futility of trying to study yourself. How many of you have been involved with that in th e past or even now? Don't raise your hands in response. Just ask yourself if any of your attempts have produced results? Did you get any better at it after years of trying? Did you make any progress? The answer to al l those questions is no, yet you continued to try...

    All plots and intrigues in Life are the complex planning supper. When your molecules hear that one I should pack up and leave for the night. All plots and intrigues are the complex planning supper. Coevally, plots and intrigues can be the simplistic planning questionable attempts at overthrow. (Remember I said questionable.) Whether we're talking about the geology of this planet or about humans, the complex are always subject to being tripped up by the simplistic. You've all had the experience of having your foot stepped on by someone who was so inferior, so much dumber than you, that you couldn't believe they would step on your foot. You c ouldn't believe someone that simplistic could do anything to you.

    Overall Life is growing, but in some areas involution and death is taking place. This is continually going on in some parts of Life's body. People look at those areas and see chaos -- things apparently going downhi ll. What's happening is a reversal of the process of complexity consuming the simple -- and that reversal is seen as chaos.

    The simple always seek to be ruled by the more complex. That's true in the natural world, whether you're talking about animals, weather, or chemical and electrical processes. But lets go back to your favorite area: homo sapiens. Simple people always want to be ruled, dominated by the more complex. They have no desire to actually understand the complexity of the ruler; they just want to be surrounded by and bathe and dance in the domination.

    Look at what folly this leads to in humans. Often a group of people is led by a madman. No one tries to throw him out, but after the fact people say, "How could they have lived under such a king? He killed thousan ds, he was insane." A ruler might be obviously crazy, but that's not the point. His subjects will often pass that off as the King having a few peccadillos. He may be nuts, but he's complex and that is what's important. This kind of thing goes on even today.

    When people submit to a ruler, they are submitting to the mathematical need for the simple to be ruled, dominated by the complex. If the simple ruled the complex, we would all be done for. That happens once in awhi le, but is so outside the mainstream it's like Life burping. The simple can't rule the complex. That's dancing backwards; that's regression.

    More complex people are more tolerant of the simple than the simple are of the complex. The deprived, the poor, the less educated are less tolerant. The City explanation is that some people are more tolerant becaus e they ARE more educated, have a wider world view, and so on. The reality behind this tolerance is the complex consuming the simple. Things don't run uphill. The simple CAN'T be more tolerant of the complex. It's a ma tter of energy conversion. The simple can't even see the complex as being more complex, though they know there is a difference. Conversely, more complex people CAN see that others are more simplistic.

    Even at the cellular level the more complex is more tolerant of the less complex than can ever be true in reverse. There is a food chain going on that transcends the physical food chain. Much of what seems to be in explicable is explained by the fact that the tolerance doesn't go in two directions. The complex can perceive the less so and not vice versa. The simplistic don't see complexity as something to strive for. That's why t hey come up with ideas of god -- because they can't see another human as being more complex.

    A simplistic person can look at a Rockefeller, for instance, and will see that such a person is a big shot -- somehow different -- but he doesn't see that as positive, doesn't see it as tomorrow. He can see the man as someone who might dominate him and, because of that, he might feel fear. That's as far as it will go. The more complex can see others that aren't as complex as they are, but the simple can't comprehend the complex.

    All I have told you about the more complex consuming the simplistic has to do with you and the partnership. And it has to do with you and me. I can give you a verbal job classification of what I am doing: My job i s to make you more complex than you otherwise would be. My job is to make you more complex than you ever, EVER would have been.



  • Amazing1914


    Interesting article. There is some merit to it, but I find that sometimes, the simple explanation is closer to the truth. Example:

    Cox stated: "From any point of view you want to take, the Europeans -- even the crudest of them -- were more complex than the Indians. And the outcome of the meeting between the two groups was inevitable."

    I think this is a "simplistic" statement. The people living in the western hemisphere were very complex and advanced. e.g. the pyramid construction by central American people required advanced math and construction skills. Rather, the people indigenous to the Americas had not yet developed guns and gun powder. Even with this disadvantage, the Aztecs kicked Cortez' ass, and forced him out of their territory. Eventually, the Spanish returned in greater force, and overpowered the people living here.

    Simply stated, the people in this hemisphere were out manned and out gunned. It is as simple as that. - Jim W.

  • Terry

    e=mc2 Complex or simple?

    F=ma Complex or simple?

    Playing the piano for: Mozart; complex or simple?

    These terms "complex" and "simple" are generalities. They are concepts. They are meaningless without specific contexts.

    There are several fallacies of analogy in the piece quoted.

    What is true of society is not analogous specifically to what is true of atomic particles. To render the two analagous is a leap of metaphor that does violence to language and to understanding.

    I have a deck of playing cards. There are 52 cards in the deck.

    I shall begin dealing them out on the table. Now it is your job to memorize as many in sequence as possible, okay.

    First row: 2 hearts, 3, hearts, 4 hearts, 5, hearts, 6 hearts, 7 hearts, 8 hearts, etc.

    Second row: Ace diamonds, 9 spades, Jack clubs, 10 hearts, Queen of spades, 2 of clubs, 5 clubs, etc

    Isn't it obvious why we'd find one row SIMPLE to memorize and the other row as complex?

    We filter complexity/simplicity through the filter of our arbitrary perception.

  • Annanias

    Terry, the guy who wrote that article, was he a mormon? The reason I ask is that it's been a while since I've ran across something quite so wordy. But I guess succint is next to sutoilet.

    I never saw the Spainish conquering the Incas and Aztecs because they were complex. I always thought they conquered S. America because they were resilliant to smallpox. The spanish could have been armed with slingshots. Are you more complex because you are immune to smallpox?

    "Here's another one to Consider in light of this rule: the reformed drunk. First he's a drunk, then he's a reformed drunk. It's just him again, without the booze. There's no real change. " Oh, really? And how many AA meetings has this guy been to I wonder?

    All "gods" were always terrifyingly complex. Excuse me? I'm sorry, but the appeal of JC is his absolute simplicity, not his complexity. We can address Buddah, Confuscious, and the Dali Lama later.

    "A person cannot possibly be your hero if you imagine they're simpler that you are. Have you ever had a hero and believed his or her life was duller than yours? That's not mathematically feasible. " Oh really? How does this guy know who my heros are. By his own definition(s), my hero would have to be from my future, because everything in my past has to be "simpler" than I am now. Does that mean that I don't get to have a hero? And what the f*ck does mathematics have to do with what constitues a hero?

    Terry, do you find, say DaVinci being "simpler" than Warhol? Plato "simpler" than Adam Smith? Aristotle "simpler" than John Maynard Keynes?

    The complex consumes the simple, eh? I bet this guy never saw "12 Monkeys".

  • Terry
    Annanias:Terry, do you find, say DaVinci being "simpler" than Warhol? Plato "simpler" than Adam Smith? Aristotle "simpler" than John Maynard Keynes?

    I guess I'M too simple to say for sure!!

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