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1.1. Lost and Atrophied Modes of Mental Functioning: The Morphology of Cultural Memory Systems
1.2. The Symbol, Matters of Representation, Stasis and Dynamis
1.3. Aisthesis, Mnemesis, the Mind, Understanding, the Mental Image, the Idea, tha Ratio, the Empeiria, and Multimedia
1.4. Modern Computing in the Tension Field between Leibniz and Leonardo
1.5. The Synaisthetic / Poly-Aisthetic experience: Music combinded with Mathematics, Harmonics, Sacred Geometry, Pythagoreanism, Glasperlenspiel
1.6. The tradition of Visualization
1.7. The wealth of indigenous sources
1.8. Complementary processing power: sequential computer and parallel visual

1. Introduction, Overview, Aims (URL)

This draft and outline presentation of the ongoing project work is made available as preview version with the aim of inviting comments and suggestions, and, what would be most welcome, further support for the project work. The present study draws on previous designs of the Projekt Leonardo-Leibniz, namely the essays: "Infrastructures of Representation: A Quest for Multimedial Symbolization Systems" (500 pg.), and: "An Essay on the Morphology of Cultural Memory Systems" (150 pg.). These as yet unpublished essays can be obtained from the author on request.

This project description gives an outline for the defininition of a novel class of symbol handling systems, the dynamic, poly-aisthetic [1] kinemorphic [2] symbols [3]. This new class of symbol systems can be constructed with further development of the current multimedia technology. The word Symbolator can be read as short for these terms: syn-aisthetic symbolization tool [4] , technological symbol transformer and translator, technological ars memoriae [5] . The main emphasis of this study is to sketch a possible outlook on the different modes of mental functioning and imagination (in the following abbreviated: the mentation) that will become possible with the new thinker-tool. Whitehead had once mentioned that a new kind of instrument will directly lead to new perspectives - or paradigmata in the Kuhnian sense. When this new and different class of symbol systems will be applied for serious, we will realize that some very decisive things will change. In all of human history, symbol systems had been static by necessity. The encoding materials and processes necessitated that a fixed form or image or pattern was introduced into or onto some carrier substance. Only with modern multimedia capabable computers has this limitation been transcended.

The static symbol systems, like writing, the formal mathematical and other scientific symbolisms, notations for music, and dance, had not allowed the representation of the dynamic aspect of the things they were describing. In the civilizations, only the performing arts preserved this dynamic element which had more and more become evanescent and elusive in all the other sectors where the heaviest use of static symbols had been made: Law, administration, government, and the academics, humanities as well as the natural sciences. The word state used for the political system that governs the current civilizations aptly expresses that a stasis was introduced into human life by the static symbol systems that formed the basis of all power and administration structures of the last 5000 years. This stasis has given the civilizations a strong element of thanatos, or death, the anti-life tendencies of industrial civilizations devouring the life substance of this planet in the technological onslaught.

As Aristoteles has pointed out, life and dynamis (movement) are equivalent. If there is stasis, then there is death. So far, all preceding human civilizations have been very successful choking themselves into all possible patterns and variations of stasis, crustification, calcination and the rigor mortis of final disintegration. The great historical perspectives of Gibbon, Toynbee, and Spengler have given us the thoroughly worked out descriptions down to the detail by which the former great civilizations of humanity had managed to plunge themselves headfirst into that pit. The specific crustification mechanisms of the power structures shall not be dealt with here, but the aspects of the symbolization systems leading to that effect, are of importance in the present discussion. There is no reason to assume that the present technological civilizations are exempt from the crustification trap. Moreover, there are quite strong indications that humanity is jumping straight into the biggest crustification trap ever, possibly leading to the extinction of the whole species. To avoid this is the reason for the present study and to take on the project of "inventing" the kinemorphic symbols.

1.1. Lost and Atrophied Modes of Mental Functioning:
The Morphology of Cultural Memory Systems

Although the present text is intended as a standalone presentation to be printed as a separate book, it should be mentioned that it is part of a series, and a companion volume is also in the process: "The Morphology of Cultural Memory Systems". This work provides a survey and an outline of the cultural history and general morphology of the Cultural Memory Systems of humanity as they had been in use throughout the last 10,000 years on this planet. Although an exhaustive project in this direction would need an immense encyclopedic effort covering all-and-everything of human cultural production since the Neolithic, even a sketchy overview like it is undertaken in this essay, richly rewards the effort. As becomes visible quite clearly, the range and scope of human expressions and impressions of all cultural stages and variations are vastly broader and especially, deeper, than the currently used symbolization systems that are common in the technological and industrialized societies modeled after the Western European and U.S. American culture model. When we take a non-eurocentric perspective, and drop the burden of mostly hidden and unconscious preconceptions that the western technological model is the necessary and inevitable pinnacle of human cultural evolution, we find that on the contrary, the immense variation of human cultures as they had developed on our planet, has a lot to offer in this crucial period of global transition. While the western cultural model has led to the present technology, and namely, computer and multimedia systems, this development has not come without a cost. It is not necessary to go deeper into the problematic issues of current technological civilizations, but in the present context, it is important to state that there is a very definite connection of the problematics of the present societies with the major and dominating symbolization systems, or as we call them more generally: the Cultural Memory Systems. Our present and future societies could very well make good use and profit a lot from the wider perspectives and mental options that would be gained if other mentation modes became more widely used in our societies. The "Essay on the Morphology" covers this in greater detail from the side of Culturology (using the term coined by Leslie White), and the focus of the present work "The Symbolator Project" will be more in the direction of the technological installation application of the vistas gained from the "Essay".

1.2. The Symbol, Matters of Representation, Stasis and Dynamis

The development of western civilization has been heavily influenced or even determined by its main symbol systems, mainly alphabetic writing, but as well by the other systems, like mathematical, scientific, and musical. These latter systems were developed and took their forms in response to the shortcomings of the alphabet when concerning the codification of certain "facts of life" that simply were not easily amenable to verbal description. It is quite easy to see that a non-alphabetic system like the Chinese, even though it is as static as the former, does not rely on spoken language and can utilize different tradeoffs of mental processing that the alphabet doesn't allow. So, those other cultures that had not adopted an alphabet had not the same rationalization for developing the other symbol systems. This is more evident in the Amerind cultures which had been regarded as primitive from the eurocentric view, but it has rarely been attempted to demonstrate the advantageous tradeoff factors of these systems when compared with the alphabet [6].

Ralph Abraham has used the chaos theory term bifurcation for certain decisive developments that occurred in human history [7]. The invention of phonographic writing was a major bifurcation which occurred at some time around -3120. This bifurcation point is the most important since the Neolithic, which was fully developed some time around -8000. It neatly divides the last 10,000 years into two equal periods of approximately 5000 years each. The widespread adaptation of the Greek alphabet occurred around -500, that is 2500 years ago [8]. That again halves the last 5000 years into two equal periods. Jaspers called this last historical bifurcation the Axial Age. The 2500 year intervals correspond also quite closely to the succession of the Zodiac signs. If we again halve the last bifurcation period, we come to around 750, which may be loosely associated with the rise of Islam, and the resurgence of civilization in the northwestern part of Eurasia, commonly called Europe [9].

The phenomenon of the Axial Age of Jaspers was, in western Eurasia, the rise of Greek thinking. In the scope of the present discussion this was entirely an epiphenomenon of the new symbol system, the alphabet, and the consequent bifurcations in thinking modes of the Greeks. Mainly the separation of the Logos from the Mythos, the development of Philosophy, and lastly, Science.

The philosophical bifurcation that occurred in the time between Parmenides and Plato was the split in human thinking between those two factions and geographic areas:

1) those leaning towards a priority of the static and eternal, transcendent: the ideal, mental and rational understanding, (Parmenides [10] as "founding father", Plato as the elaborator and popularizer, Plotin, and later in the European development the christian philosophers [11] for the mass distribution [12], Leibniz [13], German Idealism, Hegel),

2) those favoring the dynamic, the sense impressions, empeiria, the aisthaesis: Heraklit [14], Demokrit, Aristoteles [15], Epikur, later the Renaissance line of the Uomo Universale (Leonardo, Giotto , Brunelleschi , Francesco di Giorgio , Verrocchio , Leon Battista Alberti , Dürer, Michelangelo), Blasius of Parma. Then in the origin of western science: Locke and Galileo.

In western Eurasia, the static faction had won both the political as well as the philosophical scene, whereas in eastern Eurasia, China and India, it divided between the static political system (like Confucianism), and a dynamic philosophical system like Buddhism and Taoism.

Even though there is no way to prove it, it is at least illustrative that a static symbol system in some way gives a strong bias for a static philosophical system. A corroborative cofactor is of course given by the religious systems of western Eurasia, namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, for all their differences unified in being "religions of the book" and preferring a certain static eternal image of the after-life. The world-centeredness of the eastern religions Buddhism [16], Shintoism, and Taoism, and the non-religion of Confucianism accentuates this.

As Abraham points out, the ramifications of these opposing outlooks permeate all of life in these societies, and the present rise of dynamic systems in science, like chaos theory, indicates that there is some kind of a swing happening that leads the western thinking back on the thought tracks it has abandoned in Greek antiquity. But it should not be overlooked, that political power structures always favor the static version. The best example for this might be the German idealist movement, which took hold essentially because the prussian education ministery liked Hegel's version so much, because it suited the business of the state so perfectly [17]. All political power structures are idealistic, even if the common man in the street might have a different idea of what idealism is about. But that little cognitive dissonance is part of the obfuscation strategy.

The salient consequence of the dominance of the school of Plato and Parmenides is a system that favors the static, eternal, but essentially lifeless universe of ideas, and this eventually permeates the whole culture, if there is no counterforce that stops this. And this, in a few paragraphs, is the symbol system theory of the decline and fall of all civilizations.

1.3. Aisthesis, Mnemesis, the Mind, Understanding, the Mental Image, the Idea, tha Ratio, the Empeiria, and Multimedia

1.4. Modern Computing in the Tension Field between Leibniz and Leonardo

In the history of western science, there arose another historical bifurcation between the visual, geometric, and the analytical arithmetic and logic approaches. Whereas the Greeks generally favored Geometry, the work of Euclid with his style of proof favored a sequential approach, eschewing [18] more visual, haptic, intuitive, and experiential, methods. Thus, the foundation for the analytical and arithmetical geometry of Descartes is already laid here. This mental frame dominates the approaches to mathematical thinking in the next 2500 years. Western mathematics is in a very deep sense the most idealist and platonic science [19]. The rationalistic origin of computing: Sybille Krämer's work on the development of logical machines. Rationalist thought, Leibniz, calculus, the binary system, mechanization of calculation, mechanical precursors of computing machinery: the automatic loom. Konrad Zuse's work in the line of engineering and technical approaches. Current computer science instruction in Universities still leaning very much to highly formal and rationalistic methods. Underrepresentation of the aisthesis factors. Problem of cutting out talents of the Aisthesis and Kinesis domain, sensory and haptic experience.

1.5. The Synaisthetic / Poly-Aisthetic experience: Music combinded with Mathematics, Harmonics, Sacred Geometry, Pythagoreanism, Glasperlenspiel

Alternative possibilities for mathematical thinking: The still underrepresented role of the arts in Multimedia development. The revival of the Leonardo approach becomes possible with Multimedia. Comp Sci education world wide favors the mathematical approach. Only a few exceptions in the field of Aisthesis and Kinesis domain: Mihai Nadin: The Logic of the Senses, Aesthetic structuring of Knowledge. Ralph Abraham: Visimath; Dan Sandin and Ars Electronica: The Cave. The possibility to create computational representations for synaisthetic experiences, VR and whole body thinking [20].

Ralph Abraham and the Orphic Trinity, Wolfgang Roscher and poly-aisthetic education, Lord Jehudi Menuhin and musical education, Maturana, Verden-Zöller: Liebe und Spiel, Hermann Hesse: Glasperlenspiel (Magister Ludi), Harmonics: Pythagoras, Kepler, Hans Kayser; Rudolf Haase; Marius Schneider; Hertha v. Dechend: Hamlet's Mill; Frances Yates and the Renaissance tradition, Giordano Bruno; Blasius of Parma, Platon and the Greek Paideia: the elevating and education of the faculties of the whole body.

Multimedia poses the historical necessity and incentive to develop a unified notation system for all the performing arts: music, dance, acting (animation), oral poetry (epics).

1.6. The tradition of Visualization

Modern proponents of visualization: Hermann Maurer: MUSLI, Computer Visualization; Mihai Nadin: Projekt Sophia; Ralph Abraham: Visimath; Dan Sandin and Ars Electronica: The Cave; Leonardo-Journal: The Visual Mind; Herbert W. Franke; Anthony Judge; Anthony Blake; Edward R. Tufte: Envisioning Information; George Landow, Brenda Laurel; Arthur Young; Buckminster Fuller; Keith Critchlow; Robert Lawlor; George Bain; Adrian Frutiger; Carl Loef; Robert Williams; Anthroposophic work: Olive Whicher; Paul Adam, Arnold Wyss; The Design Science Collection: Arthur Loeb; H.S.M. Coxeter; Marjorie Senechal, George Fleck; The precursors: Jan Amos Comenius; Wenzel Jamnitzer, Renaissance art and technology; The prehistory of visualization: James Mellaart: Chatal Hüyük; Riane Eisler, Marija Gimbutas: The cultures of Old Europe. Cro-Magnon Art: Altamira, Lascaux.

1.6.1. MUSLI and Computer Visualization

With MUSLI and Computer Visualization, Hermann Maurer and Jennifer Lennon have outlined a program for creating animated symbolics [21]. The approach can be followed and augmented by adding a geometric modeller and incorporating the auditive.

1.6.2. The Cave and Ars Electronica

The Ars Electronica festival (AEF) has since many years been a world leader in bringing together creative talent from the computer science field with the arts. In Europe, AEF seems to be the only institutional approach that has persevered this aim.

1.7. The wealth of indigenous sources

The wealth of cultural material of different dimensions of the synaisthetic mentation. Anthropology and Aesthetics. The Amerind Tradition: E. Boone, Writing without Words. Carlo Severi: La memoria Rituale. Frobenius and pre-historic African Art. More on this in the "Essay".

1.8. Complementary processing power: sequential computer and parallel visual

The human visual system is an extremely powerful parallel processing system. Its capacity is several Gigabytes /sec. as opposed to about 50 bytes/sec. for the human language processing system. The computer is very powerful in tasks that the human performs poorly, in logic, and symbolic, formal processing, all done sequentially. So both the computer and the human can complement each other well.

There is a necessity to design adequate programming systems for the symbolator system. String / tokencode systems, comparison with VRML. Proprio-centered systen in the Logo/ Turtle principle.


[1] The word aisthesis is here written in transliteration of the original greek spelling, not the more common word aesthetics. The modern meaning of aesthetics has lost a great deal of the power of the old greek term. The term poly-aisthetic was borrowed from Wolfgang Roscher.
[2] This denotes the kinetic and kinemic aspects in the systematics of codified, discernible, repeated movement patterns. It is called a kinemorphe (abbreviated KM) for a "movement gestalt". In Japanese, the equivalent term is Kata. The Japanese culture has probably developed the greatest understanding, appreciation, and systematisation of kinemorphic patterns of all the "higher", literate civilizations on this planet. Yet all the so called "primitive", "non-civilized", or "indigenous" cultures have not only cultivated the kinemorphe to a great extent, it is a selfspeaking matter of fact in their lives and pervades it wholly. Only in the "higher" civilizations based on static symbol systems like writing has the kinemorphe disappeared. In CA, the KM covers the whole range of ritual, posture, dance and other practices connected with dynamic CMS. The KM is denoting that evanescent class of phenomena that exists only in motion and change, and that simply vanishes into nothing when frozen into states and symbols. It marks the vital factors of a living, viable culture as a self-replicating system of motions that is itself in constant motion.
[3] The term symbol may be problematic to apply, as its popular definition indicates: A thing that stands for (or indicates, denotes) something else. The static ideal principle of the symbol and its inveterate association with static representation is hard to overcome.
[4] syn-aisthesis= the synergetic cooperation of all the sensory instrumentarium
[5] art of memory
[6] E. Boone, Writing without Words.
[7] Chaos, Gaia, Eros.
[8] There is much debate about the origin of the alphabet which had been dated to about -1400 by Bernal, and around -700 in scholarly consensus. That must not detract here, since the alphabet and the earlier phoenician aleph-bayt were not so much different as some more ideologically tainted opinions assume. Both are phonographic and atomic, one efficient for semitic language, the other more efficient for the indo-european language structure. The most important factor here is when the development starts to transform a society. See also the works of Havelock, Innis, MacLuhan, and Kerckhove.
[9] This number game is just a grid, it does not imply that there is a causal law, or astrological influence factor at work. See also a similar grid system by Terence McKenna, Timewave Zero, mentioned by Ralph Abraham. To complete the number game, we might set the closing point of the present period to exactly 2012, the end of the Maya calendar, which has been pointed out by Arguelles, also used in the Timewave Zero model of McKenna.
[10] Born around -540 to -514. "esti gar einai" - "indeed, being is" (B6) and "to gar auto noein estin te kai einai: indeed, identical is knowing and being". B3, also B7, 3-5
[11] Philosophia est ancilla theologiae.
[12] that is what the christian mass is for.
[13] who made a formal logical system out of it.
[14] Panta rhei: everything flows, and: ta de panta oiakizei Keraunos: the kybernetes (governor) of the Universe is the Keraunos (the lightning flash).
[15] Metaphysics, 1. Also: On Memory and Reminiscence, On the Soul, On Sense and the Sensible, On Generation and Corruption.
[16] To clarify the position of Buddhism, a longer discussion would be needed. Of course, Buddhism aims at transcending this worldly life, but not for attaining a better after-life.
[17] And the ministery therefore ordered all philosophy departments under its control to preach this philosophy. Hegel was the wilful master craftsman of this.
[18] See Tufte, Envisioning Information, p. 84-87, Schopenhauer's criticism of Euclid, Needham, Science and Civilization in China.
[19] After people in the West are not so sure any more about an omnipotent God and an eternal afterlife, the statement: 2 + 2 = 4 still gives us the comfort of eternal, everlasting truth, that pervades the whole universe from end to end, from point alpha (big bang) to omega (complete thermal equilibrium).
[20] Ars Electronica 1996, Simon Penney.
[21] See Ed-Media 1994-1996.

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