An ASKLEPIA FOUNDATION Journal
Information Theory and the Vortex of Internal Structuring Process
by Iona Miller, 1993
ABSTRACT: Because of its very nature a chaotic system cannot be decomposed. If consciousness is pure information it is not limited to physical form; its patterning may emerge from chaotic dynamics operating at the quantum level, where the "no-thing" of pure information becomes a structured "some-thing," through intentionality coupled with chaotic determinism (self-organized emergent order). The so-called "software of consciousness" is unlike the matter and energy of classical understanding, but exerts a measureable effect on the physical world, apparently through quantum chaos.
Fractal therapy allows us to penetrate deeply into the psyche--into the vortex of the internal structuring process--through progressively de-structuring patterns of organization. The undecomposable level of chaotic consciousness is experienced as the pure, unconditioned imprint of the whole, resulting in a new primal self image and sense of relationship to the greater whole which emerges through nonunitary transformation.
We have to begin to view the universe as ultimately constituted not of matter and energy, but of pure information.
--Michael Talbot, BEYOND THE QUANTUM
In the past 15 years a philosophy of mind called functionalism that is neither dualist nor materialist has emerged from philosophical reflection on development in artificial intelligence, computational theory, linguistics, cybernetics and psychology. All these fields, which are collectively known as the cognitive sciences, have in common a certain level of abstraction and a concern with systems that process information. Functionalism, which seeks to provide a philosophical account of this level of abstraction, recognizes the possibility that systems as diverse as human beings, calculating machines and disembodied spirits could all have mental states.
--Jerry A. Fodor, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
TURBULENT SELF-ORGANIZING FLUX
Research in cognitive sciences is leading toward acceptance of a model of consciousness as pure information. Even though it is beyond physical reality as we know it, it is nevertheless "real" and even more fundamental than the world of matter. The functionalist definition of consciousness is not based on the measurement of a substance or energy, but on a measure of pure information. This implies that consciousness interpenetrates the entire universe, but at a level more fundamental than field theory or QM. As Bateson declared, the "no-thing" of information is the pattern which connects.
In THE HEART SINGLE FIELD THEORY, Jacques Boivin has suggested that, "If we wish to understand the nature of the Universe we have an inner hidden advantage: we are ourselves little portions of the universe and so carry the answer within us."
Current research at the threshold of matter--the edge of physical reality--indicates that the vacuum state is the foundation of the appearance of matter. Prigogine won the 1977 Nobel Prize for substantiating his notion that matter is not inert but "alive and active." Further, the vacuum state is teeming with nonobservable "life"; a turbulent froth which conditions the emergence of probabilities in quantum fluctuation.
Bohm has posited a multidimensional common ground for consciousness and matter. He alleges that the superholographic level of the universe has a staggering number of dimensions, and that it may be a "mere stage" beyond which is "an infinity of further development."
Bohm calls it, "vast, rich, and in a state of unending flux of enfoldment and unfoldment, with laws most of which are only vaguely known." In this view nature itself is a living organism whose diversity encompasses all the diversity of form emerging from the superhologram. It is "purposive" and possesses "deep intentionality."
According to Talbot (1986),
All of the creativity and insight that we ourselves experience must also be seen as derivative of this common ground, and thus in a sense it seems that nature has made us seek her. Perhaps that is why there is a deep drive in all of us to understand the universe. It would no longer be correct to speak of the multi-dimensional level of the universe as a material plane. Rather, Bohm concludes, 'it could equally well be called Idealism, Spirit, Consciousness. The separation of the two--matter and spirit--is an abstraction. The ground is always one.'
At the level of the quantum, reality is fuzzy, and any attempt to penetrate that mist collapses our commonsense understanding of the way the world works. The vacuum is not an empty stage, but the domain of violent upheavals in nothingness, where new particles are constantly being created and destroyed. Again, according to Talbot (1986),
Most of these particles have lifetimes so incredibly brief that they are virtually nonexistent, and hence are known as "virtual particles." However, physicists know that virtual particles are more than just abstractions that pop up in their equations because, ghostly and short-lived though these particles may be, they still jostle around the atoms in our own world a bit when they appear, and these effects can be physically measured. Indeed, a growing number of physicists are coming to believe that everything we know as real in the entire universe may ultimately have sprung out of this empty and seething vacuum.
If quanta are ultimately constituted out of the vacuum--ultimately just structures in the nothingness--what does this mean? What is structured nothingness but just another word for information? ...Something that has always been thought of as being "no-thing" may prove to be the only thing. ...Perhaps we should give this vacuum in our thinking another look.
There are characteristics of quantum systems that can be tied to chaotic behavior in classical systems. Ronald F. Fox has found such a property linking quantum physics and classical chaos:
For a classical object, one normally thinks of these quantum fluctuations [expressed by the probability distribution] as very, very small and ignorable. We argue that when the dynamics is chaotic, these quantum fluctuations grow very large.
Prigogine's work on the self-organizing nature of the universe led him to similar conclusions. Disorder is not an ultimate fate from which nothing can escape, but is actually the progenitor of order. A more ordered state arises out of apparent disorder. His notions also hold true at the human level, as observed in the psychological transformation process. Talbot summarizes Prigogine's description of emergent order from chaos:
Given that most systems we know of are open and are constantly exchanging energy or matter and, perhaps most importantly, exchanging information with their environment, Prigogine observed that all such systems should be viewed as fluctuating. At times such fluctuations may become so powerful that a preexisting level of organization in a system cannot withstand the fluctuation.
Prigogine called this moment of crisis for a system a "bifurcation point" and believed that when such a point is reached, a system has two options. Either it will be destroyed by the fluctuation and disintegrate into chaos, or it will suddenly leap to an entirely new level of organization, a new internal order that Prigogine called a "dissipative structure" (because the role of this new level of organization is to "dissipate" the influx of energy, matter, and/or information responsible for the disabling fluctuation). It was for his theory of such dissipative structures that Prigogine won the 1977 Nobel Prize.
FRACTAL THERAPY AS IMAGE PROCESSING
Because of the "butterfly effect" in chaotic dynamics, small (even "virtual") fluctuations are pumped up to macroscopic changes in consciousness through CCP. The process is organically initiated throughout the course of the consciousness "journey."
In STAR WAVE, Fred Alan Wolf concludes that the ultimate stuff of consciousness lies in the ghostly and incorporeal world of the quantum itself. Given that there is now persuasive evidence that this world is nonlocal, it may be that consciousness, like the quantum, does not possess any single and precise location at all. Sometimes it seems to be inside our heads. Sometimes, via the infinite interconnectedness of the quantum landscape, it seems to "journey". But in truth it never "goes" anywhere at all. It simply accesses whatever perspective on the universe it wants via the nonlocal realm from which it operates.
Deterministic chaos is disorderly behavior produced by a simple rule. The simple rule of CCP is to amplify disorder (i.e. fear, pain), dissolve or depattern osified consciousness, and facilitate dynamic repatterning of the whole self. There is a whole world of forms and formlessness to be explored and harmonies to discover.
The fluctuating "dance of chaos" has a life of its own. Perhaps its signature talent is the ability to curl in upon itself, to maintain its own existence, and increase and grow in complexity. The spiral is fundamental in nature. It plays a conspicuous and important role in nature, civilization, science and art.
"Strange spirals" may be infinitely convoluted, or infinitely discontinuous (fuzzy spirals; bushy spirals). Spirals amplify (and as DNA, project) information and energy. It becomes ever more intricate, diverse, and packed with more of its own essence, more information. They are sustained by oscillation and damped by nonlinear vibrations.
As far as the physical universe is concerned, spiral shapes are one of nature's most fundamental forms, too vast to catalog here. Why it is ubiquitous in nature, civilization, and CCP is a profound question. They often occur spontaneously in matter that is organized through symmetry transforma-tions. Nature often constrains itself to exhibit self-similar spiral growth. Humans have imitated the spiral motifs in culture, art, and science.
In some ways this self-organizing dance can be likened to fractal generation, which reveals the unfolding and enfolding structure of the unseen world. Fractal structure repeats at all levels of organization. Fractals reveal the geometry between dimensions.
Imagery lies at the heart of fractal generation. Fractal unfoldment is a means of graphically depicting natural, yet nonlinear, processes of unfolding. Via fractals on the computer screen we can directly view the inherent beauty of these complex unfolding patterns. They present the image of a myriad of perspectives, multiple centers and vortices within a connecting principle.
We see an analogous phenomenon in the polyphasic transforms of the consciousness journeys. Fractals are patterns which exhibit increasing detail ("bumpiness") with increasing magnification or unfolding. Many interesting fractals are self-similar, including those based on spiral waveform.
Mandelbrot informally defines fractals as "shapes that are equally complex in their details as in their overall form. That is, if a piece of a fractal is suitably magnified to become of the same size as the whole, it should look like the whole, either exactly, or perhaps only after slight limited deformation."
Perhaps we see the same phenomenon from a slightly different perspective in the holographic concept of reality--the part reflects the whole through self-similarity, though it is not necessarily identical. In a hologram, the detail about the broadest qualities of the whole would be "fuzzy."
During consciousness journeys the fractal-like images of the deep psyche unfold, facilitating emergent creativity. Like fractals, the kaleidoscopic images are an endless cascade of repeating detail. Image processing reveals structures of interest on the "consciousness map". If the involvement of the guide is too low, important features do not show up; if too high, sometimes significant features are obscured.
CCP works like an amplification of consciousness to first de-structure old systems, and amplify the healing effects of "whole-self patterning." This emerges from the irregular unpredictable transformative behavior of the strange attractor during image processing.
Complex nexes of imagery, such as Jung's complexes, or psychosynthesis' subpersonalities, or NLP's "parts" can be broken up by the dissipative action of the strange attractor. Existential gestalts separated by time, but linked by similarities in experience are stored together. They are "magnetically" entrained to the same core issues. Under the transformative influence of CCP, initially adjacent experience/images eventually follow widely divergent trajectories--they more or less explode.
Attractors correspond to the behavior to which a system settles down or is "attracted." A strange attractor presents an unpredictable trajectory among related aspects of the whole. Classical attractors are smooth manifolds; strange attractors are not manifolds, they are rough and fractal--vortices within vortices, within vortices, turbulent complex curls.
"Letting go" to the magnetic pull of the strange attractor by flowing in participation with the stream of consciousness is an organic form of feedback: the return of the input of a part of the output of a system. Thus, entering the primal transformative spiral means entering the vortex of the internal structuring process, the natural kaleidoscope of shapes.
At bifurcation the stability of steady states and cycle changes becomes supercritical--far from equilibrium. Repatterning of the whole by the natural chaotic dynamic leads to new emergent order within the framework of personality--ego is transformed and "reborn" anew.
Repatterning may occur through harmonic resonance of certain informational content within the general perception of overwhelming white noise or blankness, the results of "downloading" informational overload. The information contact that is "in phase" with the participant is fed back into the system through synchronization.
Iteration or repetition of the process makes it more thorough and pervasive within the organism. More deeply implicated information becomes available for restructuring. Iteration represents the complicated behavior of simple functions. In CCP, the iterative process can be accelerated.
The transformative process continually folds in on itself, stretching and kneading psychic space, bringing in that which is needed, and disposing of irrelevant informational content. Always the condition of a nonlinear system is crucially dependent on initial conditions.
Output is not directly proportional to input as in linear transformation, because of the dynamic pumping up of chaotic dynamics from micro- to macro- proportions. This is like a "phase-locked loop," a circuit whose output is fed back into the system in order to keep it in phase with the incoming signal.
Feedback creates pathways in fractal generation. Fractal patterns produce complicated networks as a result of the propagation of signals through them. Networks can be thrown into chaotic behavior in response to the propagation of complex input. Human beings are systems with many functions and feedback and feedforward paths. Thus transformation can involve several, nonlinear phase changes.
When a complex signal is propagated through a network with feedback or feedforward paths, some networks remain stable, and other network values "explode." Over several steps intersecting feedback paths generate intermediate nodes. The stability of the network's behavior can be plotted in response to a range of complex input values as the network is iterated (i.e., as signals are stepped synchronously through the net).
Network connectivity can be represented symbolically. Symbolic representations provide a "language" to systematize and classify the interconnections and pathways and feedback loops--the flow of which are in general nonlinear and difficult to conceptualize. In computer graphics, the darkness of a region of the graph relates to how many times a trajectory crosses a particular pixel in the display. Some regions are dominated by high intensity, with almost no other features visible. Low intensity values are less vivid, therefore more subtle.
Self- and world-simulation process is recursive, defining itself in terms of itself. A recursive operation invokes itself as an intermediate operation. In CCP this is the process of recursively feeding back information about the dynamic process of self-world construction, and providing a safe context for de-construction (i.e. "set and setting").
The art of the therapeutic transformation lies in the utilization of the "controlled accident," in the ever-changing context of resonating mental spaces. Co-consciousness carries the process forward in ways the therapist could never imagine or direct. The "accidentals" are intuitive communication from the unconscious, from the whole. The concepts of chaos and chance just describe our gaps in awareness, the phenomena of which we are ignorant.
Peat (1991) suggests that "when the shared meaning between two people is very high, very delicate structures within their brains begin to mirror each other. At this physical level, the boundaries between people dissolve, the inner and outer merge, and a new wholeness is created."
Since the mind and body are deeply linked together, such a new wholeness will also spread to the body. Holistic meaning can therefore link people at all levels, from the mental to the physical and between a person and nature. Actions, conversation, decisions, and dreams emerge out of this resonance. And clearly, synchronicity would be one manifestation of this new type of activity.
Quantum theory stresses the wholeness of communication, rather than viewing it as a signal moving passively through some channel between two autonomous entities. In QM, an entity can change under the influence of energy vibrations, even from a vast distance (nonlocality), evolving a new structure and new excitations.
We might look at this physics process as an analogy of what happens in co-consciousness. Peat notes, "at one level, information about structure and coherent vibrations passes between the two molecules, allowing new collective oscillations to be created. But in another sense, communication involves a dissolution of form in which the two systems are constantly participating in a process of dissolution and recrystallization. One can also picture a quantum system as being in constant communication with its whole environment. Not only does the system respond to information, but by means of its own coherent vibrations, it can, in a sense, reach out and touch the environment."
Life is the physical manifestation of this creative flow of coherent information. This "active information" binds living systems into a coherent whole and sustains their healthy functioning. In agreement with CCP, Peat has also surmised that,
When information ceases in its active role, and when its coherence breaks down, the organism enters into a state of decay and breaks up into a mere collection of inanimate components. The maintenance of a creative flow of meaning is of key importance, not only within the human body but also for the whole of society. And creativity need not be confined to the animate, for it pervades the entire natural world.
To the ancients Chaos was the unknown, the spirit world, which displayed the discontinuous monstrosities created by the erratic side of nature, as well as her beauty. When we look into the face of nature, we see ourselves reflected back with an eye not jaundiced by the bias of the ego. Dreams, nightmarish visions, and the dynamic imagery process all reveal the state of our consciousness at the deepest level--depicting the nature of our relationship to the whole of consciousness network.
Recycling consciousness allows new emergent order to crystallize in a more-adapted primal self image--a new steady-state, a new system of values. Transformation takes place as one configuration or expression changes into another in accordance with chaotic dynamics, global repatterning. Adaptation, balance and beauty naturally emerge in the new pattern. Physicist Joseph Ford has said that, "Evolution is chaos with feedback."
In SUPERNATURE, Lyall Watson reminds us that, "Life survives in the chaos of the cosmos by picking order out of the winds. Death is certain, but life becomes possible by following patterns that lead like paths of firmer ground through the swamps of time. Cycles of light and dark, of heat and cold, or magnetism, radioactivity, and gravity all provide vital guides -- and life learns to respond to even their most subtle signs."
In Bohm's causal interpretation of QM, we inhabit an ocean of "active information"--the ever-flowing, ever-changing pattern of the meaning of life itself. The entire inner and outer environment includes the whole field of electromagnetic information, which patterns our electronic bodies. But we also are subject to the patterning effects of the whole of existence, a global pool of information, a pool of being, which is paradoxically rooted in non-existence.
Bohm identifies "active information" with quantum potential, which does not depend on its size or intensity, like other forces, but on its overall form (coherence of the system). In this view, even a very weak quantum potential can have a dominating effect on distant quantum objects. It operates not by pushing or pulling an electron but by providing it with information about its environment and thereby guiding its motion.
As Peat puts it, "Just as with an organism that is informed by its surrounding field of electromagnetic information, so, too, the quantum potential provides information about the surrounding quantum environment. In turn, the electron responds to this information and so modifies its motion."
In a nonunitary interpretation of the universe it is possible for novel processes and elements to emerge that are in no way implicit in anything that has gone before. They permit the totally new to enter the universe, superceding historic determinism. They are like gaps or intermittancy in the scintillating fabric of spacetime, from which creation emerges.
In nonunitary quantum theory, communication becomes communion: long-range interactions of quantum systems on one another cause each system to dissolve into the environment provided by the other. Following this, the systems recrystallize again and show a modification of their original global structure. An analogous transformation occurs through co-consciousness in CCP.
But the nonunitary vision extends even beyond this. Quantum systems can open themselves to true novelty and potentiality through nonunitary transformation. In this process, Hilbert space dissolves and reforms. With each transformation, radical change, evolution, and modification become possible. In this image of dynamic existence, the whole of existence is flickering, scintillating, rather than fixed and solid.
Peat describes the meaning of nonunitary transformation:
A nonunitary transformation takes us from the present into a future that is no longer a deterministic unfolding of what is already present but is unknown and totally open. It may well be that the future contains echoes and memories of the present and that certain tendencies in the past continue to unfold into the future. Nevertheless, this future is truly free and unlimited; it is never absolutely conditioned by the past; there is always a possibility for the new, the novel, and the unexpected to emerge.
As to the actual nonunitary transformation itself, it can be thought of as bringing about the dissolution of all forms and structures. Just as the structured Hilbert space of a quantum system that enters into communion with another will dissolve into something that is beyond itself, so, too, within a nonunitary transformation, the processes, forms, and structure of the world cease to be. Within that transformation, the universe touches what could be called a ground of unconditioned creativity. Then, as the present re-forms again--this present that lies in the future--the world and all its forms and structures recrystallize.
The nonunitary world is indeed like a crystal. It comes into existence out of a matrix of possibilities...the universe is in a constant process of crystallization and dissolution.. At each instant the rock, the tree, the atom, the star, and the human mind die and are born anew.
The constant coming into existence and dissolution of the nonunitary universe could be compared with a beating heart or with the ever-repeating cycle of birth and death. This pattern of birth and death applies as much to a molecule or a stone as it does to a single thought or a whole human life. Indeed, the distinction between the animate and the inanimate has begun to dissolve, for everything is involved in a pattern of continuous rebirth, and everything is the manifestation of one underlying creative potential. Synchronicity, at this level, is a bubbling up of ever-fresh forms, patterns, and connections that transcend all boundaries between mind and matter, the physical and the spiritual.
Herein lies the essence of healing in the Creative Consciousness Process. Non-existence underlies existence, and we fluctuate between them. Existence is discontinuous. Just where are we when we don't exist--between moments--at the bottom of our breath? We have dissolved into the matrix of unconditioned creativity, unconditioned process--the spirit world, the realm of the dead, eternity.
When the structure of the universe dissolves and comes into contact with the creative source, time essentially ends. According to Peat, "There is no moment and no time within a nonunitary transformation, for time only has meaning within the processes of the manifest unitary world, and the nonstate of dissolution lies outside time."
The meaning of a nonunitary transformation, therefore, is for the universe to leave time and to cease to have any existence within the realm of the known. Following that transformation, the world recrystallizes again and reenters the domain of time. As the mystics of old well knew, material existence lives in time, but its roots lie elsewhere.
One way of approaching the idea of nonunitary transformation is to see it as a process whereby the present is moved into the future. But a deeper view would be that this transformation creates an eternal yet ever-changing now. We exist in the present, and this present constantly dissolves and reforms anew. Time is no longer a river; it is a dynamic bubbling spring whose waters are ever fresh. Existence is a series of stepping stones of time. Each island is called "the present" and lies in an ocean beyond time and structure.
Existence belongs to the interval between transformations, as the transformation itself takes us outside time. There is no temporal interval, no gap in time, between one "now" and the next.
Whereas unitary time is a measure of the mixing of states, nonunitary time is concerned with dissolution and recrystallization of Hilbert space structure. It is a mirror that takes the now and reflects it into a free and open future.
Yet we tend to cling to form. Structures in the universe contain recurring themes and patterns. Within the creative moment of every nonunitary transformation, there is the possibility that certain forms may be reborn and enter back into themselves. The unitary therefore forms a special, limited case of the nonunitary, and it is this aspect that is responsible for regularity within the universe.
We suggest that the healing, creativity, and dynamic repatterning which emerge in CCP are the results of such nonunitary transformation, during the embryonic interval of creation.
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