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Emergence

Another digital collage, part of a page done for a ‘zine I put together for Expozine 2011. You can see the rest of the PDF here.

The quote on this page reads:

The collective psyche points toward and guides us through the transition period we now face. New images are arising, reframing the future. Images have healing properties. They speak to us in our sleeping and waking dreams, forging shared stories relevant to everyone in the process as well as the Cosmos itself.

We cannot separate our psycho-physical symptoms from the collective environment. There is a missing dimension in our worldview and mindscapes. We sense it, even though the market and media have attempted to drain all depth from our experience. Emergent events are not merely responses to economic and climatic conditions or social engineering, but eruptions of the collective unconscious.

— Iona Miller

Basically, this passage sums up what I feel is happening as we hurtle along the river of time — not as individuals, but as beings that are inextricably connected on the most subtle levels of existence, and where the true function of art lays: to suggest new visions, new worlds of possibility.

So what exactly is “emergence“? It describes a concept from systems theory that within complex systems, the sum is more than its parts; the integrity of this entirety arises from the intricate multiplicity of seemingly simple inter-relationships between its parts, which are not always easily quantifiable.

Wikipedia quotes Jeffrey Goldstein in the School of Business at Adelphi University as saying that emergence can be seen as “the arising of novel and coherent structures, patterns and properties during the process of self-organization in complex systems.” Biologist Peter Corning details emergence further:

The common characteristics are: (1) radical novelty (features not previously observed in systems); (2) coherence or correlation (meaning integrated wholes that maintain themselves over some period of time); (3) A global or macro “level” (i.e. there is some property of “wholeness”); (4) it is the product of a dynamical process (it evolves); and (5) it is “ostensive” (it can be perceived).

So what does it mean? It means that we’re all in this boat together — and that things are not what they appear to be.