I’m making a deliberate effort to use my notebook as an unconstrained, free-thinking journal. In a recent entry, I riffed on “swell and cut” as a process and started listing synonyms for the process. One was “commit and omit”. This evolved into the following table:
Commit has a positive valence but in two senses. A passive commit means doing something. It’s relatively easy, in basically any scenario, to do something. An active commit means doing the right thing. As we all know, that is much harder.
Omit has a negative valence but in three senses. A passive omit means doing nothing. Again, standard and easy fare. An active omit is slightly more complex; it means avoiding the right thing. I couldn’t decide whether this was easier or harder than doing the right thing, so I allocated them the same difficulty. And yes, I’m aware of the semantic complexities of defining action versus inaction–I’m just opting for selectively applied ignorance. A super active omit means negating the right thing. It’s this last that I find most interesting.
Negating the right thing can mean a few things. Rolling back a hastily deployed software update; a societal wide attempt at degrowth; exiting a less-than-suitable relationship. But what do these examples have to do with strange loops? Straight from the annals of Wikipedia (emphasis mine):
“And yet when I say ‘strange loop’, I have something else in mind — a less concrete, more elusive notion. What I mean by ‘strange loop’ is — here goes a first stab, anyway — not a physical circuit but an abstract loop in which, in the series of stages that constitute the cycling-around, there is a shift from one level of abstraction (or structure) to another, which feels like an upwards movement in an hierarchy, and yet somehow the successive ‘upward’ shifts turn out to give rise to a closed cycle. That is, despite one’s sense of departing ever further from one’s origin, one winds up, to one’s shock, exactly where one had started out. In short, a strange loop is a paradoxical level-crossing feedback loop. (pp. 101-102)”
In the context of the above examples, software is regressed to a previous version, a person exiting a relationship returns to single-status and a society that degrowths executes a weird time hop. In each case, however, the state returned to is different due to the presence of insight and the gathering of now-invisible experience.
(Confession: the above is likely inconsequential. However, it refused to give up its tenancy in my mind so I thought I’d persuade it to take up residency in yours. Let me know if I am successful…)