Thursday, 14 August 2014

Mix of Ideas, Part 1

This post is a mix of ideas, none of which are fully developed. Please think of them as seed ideas, do with them as you will...

Eclecticism 
Jason recently wrote about  eclecticism part 1, part 2, and part 3. Really good articles and advice that I heartily recommend. It got me thinking about the fact that certain types of problems that face are very common and we come up with very similar solutions to them each time. In software development terms we call them Design Patterns.

There is however the idea of anti-Patterns, which in brief refers to the applying the wrong Design Pattern (common tried and tested approaches to solving problems). I can't really think of a decent example of this in a magical context...

Keep Your Head Off the Mat
I recently started attending a weekly Aikido class. Inspired by Scribbler's post, I finally got organised enough to attend four weeks in a row. In the class a new person joined and I initially made the mistake of thinking that he was a novice like me... boy was I wrong. Turns out he learned from O-Sensei's last pupil and he ended up running that evening's class.

One of the things the guest Sensei taught is to keep your head off the mat. It's hard to explain how different it feels to let your head rest on the floor when someone is trying to grapple you - compared to how you feel in the same situation but you make an effort to keep your head off the floor. In the former your body feels like it has at least partially given up. In the latter you feel stronger, as if you can struggle for longer.

Sometimes on your magical path you feel like life gets the upper hand and you end up on the floor so to speak. Even if you end up in such a situation, remember to keep your head up Mr. Black and you've got a fighting chance of getting back in the game.

Ecology of Spirits and Lands
Today the Digital Ambler posted a call to arms: Get Off Your Ass and Work: Magic and Politics. I commend his desire to better the world, if we don't at least try to leave the world as a better place for the generations to come... what are we really here for?

Here are three things that I have learned in my brief forays in to this area:
  1. Geopolitics is like studying ecology. You can look at only one aspect, for example 'follow the money', religion, etc in the same way that a biologist might only focus on the water cycle, carbon cycle, etc. But oversimplifying it leads to (more) flawed analysis and hence I recommend looking at it as a complex system of constantly interacting and changing organisms and environments. Embrace the complexity. If you've read Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams you'll know that by saving the coelecanth, the dodo died out.
  2. Analysis of Spell Patterns. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson does a really good job of explaining that if you cannot decipher communication, that by studying when and where signals are being sent - you can learn something about who is sending messages and  speculate about why. I think that the same idea could be applied to trying to map the influence other mages have in the realm of geopolitics. You may not be able to work out how they're doing it. But you could see patterns emerge in how various political figures behave and when they start 'acting out of character'. Then again, this could be an anti-pattern of what Stephenson describes...
  3. You're playing with the big boys now. The politics of nations, which the Book of Daniel mentions each has an angelic prince representing them is not an arena to wonder in to, dabble a bit and then go back to your day to day life. This is not re-tweeting your 20 seconds of emotional outburst about one of the many, many conflicts going on the world. Dreamworks even has a song about it. 
Anyway, I had another couple of topics to add to this post. But it's too long already of under-developed ideas and it's late in the evening for me. Sleep tight.