The Recent Science of Complex Dynamics and
a New Understanding of Metaphoric Symbolism
Re-Conceiving Art--As Dynamical Metaphor
A New Science -- Order from Disorder
The recent science of dynamical complexity--or 'how things actually happen'--has revealed that much of the ordering of the world emerges unpredictably from disordered conditions. In this new view, order arises from chaos to become recognizable patterns, forms, and events. These can then become self-organizing systems of simultaneously interacting feedback networks. This ordering not only 'makes itself,' it can adapt its systems in ways the preserve them over time. But--these dynamics are sets of instantaneous, non-linear relationships, not predictable sequences of events, thus they are not 'visible' to our ordinary sense of logical process.
What Is Art? -- The Dynamical Mirror of Self-Organization
Viewed from this new scientific perspective, art can be seen as modeling how simultaneous interactions feedback into each other to generate unpredictable order through dynamical metaphors. The ways that art's images and actions can constellate into interactive associations, from which emerge unexpected meanings, mirrors the real events of this strangely non-linear science.
What is Art Good For? -- Knowing Hidden Reality
Artistic symbolism can now be understood as an essential way of knowing a hidden realm of creativity, in which 'everything happens all at once' and order arises from disorder. By confounding our ordinary perceptions and expectations, art presents us with metaphors of these otherwise 'invisible' dynamics.
Art as Scientific Education -- Metaphoring Complex Dynamics
We can now see that art is the archaic mode humans have used to prompt intuitive understanding of self-organizing, nonlinear dynamics. Now it is a genuinely scientific method of educating our selves about reality.
Art and the Making of Culture
As an essential way of knowing the strange new dynamics of order creation revealed by complexity and network science, art's metaphoric mode of modeling those dynamics is fundamental to forming a scientifically realistic cultural world view--Art can alter our sense of reality.
Art and Social Change
Recognizing art's role as a means of knowing the strange dynamics revealed by the new science enhances its function in reorienting social values, changing behaviors, promoting equity, and facilitating ecological sustainability--Art can make a real difference.
Art as Secular Spiritual Practice
Among the startling aspects of our new scientific world view is the description of how complex systems, from species to ecologies and individual persons to societies, generate autonomously self-directing operational networks. The creatively adaptive behavior of these networks closely resemble ancient concepts of spiritual animation in Nature. By modeling the interdependent dynamics of such networks, artistic symbolism, like more overtly mythological representations, can now be understood as a secular modality for perceiving these mysteriously self-creating and self-adapting dynamics--Art can be a scientifically valid yet secular form of spirituality.