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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Complexity

Complexity

"Abandon the urge to simplify everything, to look for formulas and easy answers, and to begin to think multidimensionally, to glory in the mystery and paradoxes of life, not to be dismayed by the multitude of causes and consequences that are inherent in each experience -- to appreciate the fact that life is complex."
- M. Scott Peck
"The little things? The little moments? They aren't little."
- John Zabat-Zinn
"We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?"
- Wendell Berry
"A diverse ecosystem will also be resilient, because it contains many species with overlapping ecological functions that can partially replace one another. When a particular species is destroyed by a severe disturbance so that a link in the network is broken, a diverse community will be able to survive and reorganize itself... In other words, the more complex the network is, the more complex its pattern of interconnections, the more resilient it will be."
- Fritjof Capra
"A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding."
- William Gibson
"A garden is like the self. It has so many layers and winding paths, real or imagined, that it can never be known, completely, every by the most intimate of friends."
- Anne Raver,
Deep in the Green
"Show me a person without prejudice of any kind on any subject and I'll show you someone who may be admirably virtuous but is surely no gardener. Prejudice against people is reprehensible, but a healthy set of prejudices is a gardener's best friend. Gardening is complicated, and prejudice simplifies it enormously."
- Allen Lacy,
Home Ground, 1984
"I see the world in very fluid, contradictory, emerging, interconnected terms, and with that kind of circuitry I just don't feel the need to say what is going to happen or will not happen."
- Jerry Brown
"It isn't that I don't like sweet disorder, but it has to be judiciously arranged."
- Vita Sackville West
"Biological diversity is being lost at a rate unequalled since the appearance of modern ecosystems more than 40 million years ago. A quarter of all mammals are threatened with extinction; and nearly 70% of the world’s fish stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted."
- Royal Society
"A true noun, an isolated thing, does not exit in nature. Things are only the terminal points, or rather the meeting points of actions, cross sections cut through actions, snapshots. Neither can a pure verb, an abstract motion, be possible in nature. The eye sees noun and verb as one, things in motion, motion in things."
- Ernest Fenollosa
"Probe the universe in a myriad of points. ... He is a wise man who has taken many views; to whom stones and plants and animals and a myriad of objects have each suggesting something, contributed something."
- Henry David Thoreau,
Journals 1951
"Because a garden mean constantly making choices, it offers almost limitless possibilities for surprise and satisfaction."
- Jane Garmey,
The Writer in the Garden
"The simplicities of natural laws arise through the complexities of the language we use for their expression."
- Eugene Wigner
"Existence consist in the interplay of a plurality of elements whose true nature is indescribable and whose source is unknown. Combinations of these elements instantaneously flash into existence and instantaneously disappear, to be succeeded by new combinations of elements appearing in a strict causality."
- Earle Ernst, The Kabuki Theatre
"To make progress in understanding all this, we probably need to begin with simplified (oversimplified?) models and ignore the critics' tirade that the real world is more complex. The real world is always more complex, which has the advantage that we shan't run out of work."
- John Ball, 1984, Memes as Replicators,
Ethology and Sociobiology, Vol. 5
"Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line."
- Benoit Mandelbrot
"Gardening is about being grounded, rooted to the here and now with the need to tidy up. It is the difference between managing life and entering into life, reminding us that gardening need not be the fraught, perfectionistic, slightly paranoid struggle that it becomes for some. Truth is, our love of plants is bound up with a taste for human error, nature's excesses, and sheer unadulterated indulgence."
- Terry Hershey,
Soul Gardening
"Simple pleasures are the last refuge of the complex."
- Oscar Wilde
"Scientists know we must protect species because they are working parts of our life-support system."
- Paul Ehrlich
"How deeply seated in the human heart is the liking for gardens and gardening."
- Alexander Smith
"An agricultural adage says the tiny animals that live below the surface of a healthy pasture weigh more than the cows grazing above it. In a catalogue selling composting equipment I read that two handfuls of healthy soil contain more living organisms than there are people on the earth. What these beings are and what they can be doing is difficult to even begin to comprehend, but it helps to realize that even thought they are many, they work as one."
- Carol Williams,
Bringing a Garden to Life
"Nature goes her own way and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order."
- Goethe
"Making simple matters complex or complex matters simple are both bad gardening techniques.
Simplifying our relations to things sometimes allows us to live more complex intellectual and emotional lives.
Repetition and diversification are Nature's formulas.

Simplifying and simplicity are never simple matters.

The empty garden is already full.
The happiest gardeners have simply learned how to relax.
The simplest garden is never simple.

It takes four seasons to know one year.
Complexity is closer to the Truth.
Diversity, multiplicity, relations, combinations, mixtures, complexity - rarely just one process or one thing.

Location, location, location ... is also true for plants.
Never just One: fruit, a hoe, the moving Sun."
- Michael P. Garofalo,
Pulling Onions
"Plurality should not be assumed without necessity."
- William of Ockham
"Nature abhors a vacuity
Especially in perpetuity
She finds her felicity

In asymmetricity
And notices no incongruity."
-
Jim Clatfelter
"The motto of science is not just Pauca but rather Plurima ex paucissimis - the most out of the least."
- M. Bunge, The Myth of Simplicity, 1963
"The human mind can appreciate the One only by seeing it first in the Many."
- Joseph Wood Krutch
"What is important is that complex systems, richly cross-connected internally, have complex behaviours, and that these behaviours can be goal-seeking in complex patterns."
- W. Ross Ashby
"Unity is plural and, at a minimum, is two."
- R. Buckminster Fuller
"Every time we lose a species webreak a life chain which has evolved over 3.5 billion years."
- Jeffrey McNeely
"For the first half of geological time our ancestors were bacteria. Most creatures still are bacteria, and each one of our trillions of cells is a colony of bacteria."
- Richard Dawkins
"Biodiversity is the greatest treasure we have. Its diminishment is to be prevented at all cost."
- Thomas Eisner
"Human beings, viewed as behaving systems, are quite simple. The apparent complexity of our behavior over time is largely a reflection of the complexity of the environment in which we find ourselves."
- Herbert Simon
"O Marvelous! What new configuration will come next? I am bewildered with multiplicity."
- William Carlos Williams,
At Dawn, 1914
"Each one of the Earth's 5 million invertebrate species plays a role in its ecosystem. It's like we're tearing the cogs out of a great machine. The machine might work after you tear out ten cogs, but what happens when you tear out a hundred?"
- Scott Black
"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."
- Aldo Leopold
"Life is a banquet, and most fools are starving to death."
Orlog
The Norns' Chant

"In the midst of darkness, light;

In the midst of death, life;

In the midst of chaos, order.

In the midst of order, chaos;

In the midst of life, death;

In the midst of light, darkness.

Thus has it ever been,

Thus is it now, and

Thus shall it always be."

-
Ancient Nordic Spirituality
"Use what talent you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best."
- Henry Van Dyke
"Each portion of matter may be conceived of as a garden full of plants, and as a pond full of fishes. But each branch of the plant, each member of the animal, each drop of its humors, is also such a garden or such a pond."
- Leibniz
"Every explicit duality is an implicit unity."
- Alan Watts
"Everything is complex and everything is simple. The rose has no why attached to it, it blooms because it blooms, how no thought of itself, or desire to be seen. What could be more complicated than a rose for someone who wants to understand it? What could be simpler for someone who wants nothing? The complexity of thinking, the simplicity of beholding."
- Andre Comte-Sponville,
A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues
"Nothing can be created out of nothing."Nil posse creari De nilo."
- Lucretius, 99-55 B.C.
"The only way out is spiritual, intellectual, and emotional revolution in which, finally, we learn to experience first hand the interloping connections between person and person, organism and organism, action and consequence."
- Gregory Bateson
"Part of the problem today is that we have a surplus of simple answers and a shortage of simple problems."
- Syracuse Herald
"The number of people displaced by dams is estimated at between 40 million and 80 million, most of them in China and India. The costs of dams were on average 50% above their original estimate. Some designed to reduce flooding made it worse, and there were many unexpected environmental disadvantages, including the extinction of fish and bird species. Half the world's wetlands had been lost because of dams."
- Paul Brown
"For if one link in nature's chain might be lost, another might be lost, until the whole of things will vanish by piecemeal."
- Thomas Jefferson
"If you're anxious for to shine in the high aesthetic line
As a man of culture rare,

You must get up all the germs of the transcendental terms
And plant them everywhere.

You must lie upon the daisies and discourse in novel phrases

Of your complicated state of mind,

The meaning doesn't matter if it's only idle chatter

Of a transcendental kind."
- W.S. Gilbert,
Bunthorne's Song from Patience
"To understand the whole it is necessary to understand the parts. To understand the parts, it is necessary to understand the whole. Such is the circle of understanding."
- Ken Wilber,
Eye of Spirit
"Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds."
- George Santayana
"Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough, but not baked in the same oven."
- Yiddish Proverb
"We struggle with the complexities and avoid the simplicities."
- Norman Vincent Peale
"May you have warm words on a cold evening,
A full moon on a dark night,

And the road downhill all the way to your door."

- Irish Saying
"Exclusiveness in a garden is a mistake as great as it is in society."
- Alfred Austin
"We live in a rainbow of chaos."
- Paul Cezanne
The Three Laws of Ecology:
First Law: All forms of life are interdependent and interrelated.

When one is disturbed or harmed, all are disturbed or harmed.
Second Law: The stability of ecosystems is dependent upon their diversity.
Greater diversity means more stability.

Eliminating some life forms reduces stability of the whole ecosphere.
Third Law: We must conserve natural resources.
- Adapted from Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace
"We—human beings—are part of 'biodiversity.' We are dependent on the whole food chain down below us."
- Darrell Merrell
"Everything is contingent, and there is also chaos."
- Spaulding Gray
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's there are few."
- Shunryu Suzuki,
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
"Diversity ... is not polite accommodation. Instead, diversity is, in action, the sometimes painful awareness that other people, other races, other voices, other habits of mind, have as much integrity of being, as much claim on the world as you do. And I urge you, amid all the differences present to the eye and mind, to reach out to create the bond that will protect us all. We are meant to be here together."
- William Chase
"What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected."
- Chief Seattle
"When two texts, or two assertions, perhaps two ideas, are in contradiction, be ready to reconcile them rather than cancel one by the other; regard them as two different facets, or two successive stages, of the same reality, a reality convincingly human just because it is complex."
- Marguerite Yourcenar
"To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things."
- Zen Master Dogen
"The complexity of things - the things within things - just seems to be endless. I mean nothing is easy, nothing is simple."
- Alice Munro
"Civilization has ceased to be that delicate flower which was preserved and painstakingly cultivated in one or two sheltered areas of a soil rich in wild species ... Mankind has opted for monoculture; it is in the process of creating a mass civilization, as beetroot is grown in the mass. Henceforth, man's daily bill of fare will consist only of this one item."
- Claude Levi-Strauss
"The more we understand individual things, the more we understand God."
- Benedict De Spinoza
"God is in the details."
- Mies Van Der Rohe
"Caress the detail, the divine detail."
- Vladimir Nabokov
"Natural species are the library from which genetic engineers can work."
- Thomas E. Lovejoy
"Details are all there are."
- Maezumi Roshi
"We think in generalities, but we live in details."
- W.H. Auden
"If you take care of the little things, the big things take care of themselves."
- R. Reese
"We work with the stuff of the soul by means of the things of life."
- Thomas Moore
"The current massive degradation of habitat and extinction of species is taking place on a catastrophically short timescale, and their effects will fundamentally reset the future evolution of the planet's biota."
- National Academy of Sciences
"To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things."
- Zen Master Dogen
"Pay attention to minute particulars. Take care of the little ones.
Generalization and abstraction are the plea of the hypocrite, scoundrel, and knave."
- William Blake
"The object of our lives is to look at, listen to, touch, taste things. Without them, - these sticks, stones, feathers, shells, - there is no Deity."
- R. H. Blyth,
Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics, p. 144.
"When we look for things there is nothing but mind, and when we look for mind there is nothing but things."
- Alan Watts,
The Way of Zen, p 131
"Do things noncoercively (wuwei),
Be non-interfering in going about your business (wushi),
And savor the flavor of the unadulterated in what you eat. Treat the small as great and the few as many.
Requite enmity with character (de).

Take account of the difficult while it is still easy,
And deal with the large while it is still tiny.

The most difficult things in the world originate with the easy,
And the largest issues originate with the tiny.
Thus, it is because the sages never try to do great things
That they are indeed able to be great.

One who makes promises lightly is sure to have little credibility;
One who finds everything easy is certain to have lots of difficulties.
Thus, it is because even the sages pay careful attention to such things
That they are always free of difficulties."

-
Chapter 63, Daodejing
Translation by Roger T. Ames and David L. Hall
"All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in that community, but his ethics prompt him also to co-operate (perhaps in order that there may be a place to compete for). ... The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals..."
- Aldo Leopold,
A Sand County Almanac
"Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital."
- Aaron Levenstein
"Step out onto the Planet.
Draw a circle a hundred feet round.
Inside the circle are
300 things nobody understands, and, maybe
nobody's ever really seen.
How many can you find?"
- Lew Welch
"We cannot win this battle to save species and environments without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well - for we will not fight to save what we do not love."
- Stephen Jay Gould
"Soil . . . scoop up a handful of the magic stuff. Look at it closely. What wonders it holds as it lies there in your palm. Tiny sharp grains of sand, little faggots of wood and leaf fiber, infinitely small round pieces of marble, fragments of shell, specks of black carbon, a section of vertebrae from some minute creature. And mingling with it all the dust of countless generations of plants and flowers, trees, animals and – yes – our own, age-long forgotten forebears, gardeners of long ago. Can this incredible composition be the common soil?"
- Stuart Maddox Masters,
The Seasons Through
"Everything is both simpler than we can imagine, and more complicated that we can conceive."
- Goethe
"The truth is rarely pure and never simple."
- Oscar Wilde,
The Importance of Being Earnest
"The value of biodiversity is more than the sum of its parts."
- Byran G. Norton
"Chaos is the score upon which reality is written."
- Henry Miller
"The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle of capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity."
- Richard Dawkins
"For the beginning is assuredly
the end -- since we know nothing, pure
and simple, beyond
our own complexities."
- William Carlos Williams,
Patterson, 1946, Book I, p.3
"Life emerged, I suggest, not simple, but complex and whole, and has remained complex and whole ever since—not because of a mysterious √©lan vital, but thanks to the simple, profound transformation of dead molecules into an organization by which each molecule's formation is catalyzed by some other molecule in the organization. The secret of life, the wellspring of reproduction, is not to be found in the beauty of Watson-Crick pairing, but in the achievement of collective catalytic closure. So, in another sense, life—complex, whole, emergent—is simple after all, a natural outgrowth of the world in which we live."
- Stuart Kauffman,
At Home in the Universe, p. 47
"We consider species to be like a brick in the foundation of a building. You can probably lose one or two or a dozen bricks and still have a standing house. But by the time you've lost 20 per cent of species, you're going to destabilize the entire structure. That's the way ecosystems work."
- Donald Falk
"You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things."
- Mary Oliver,
Wild Geese


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