Saturday, 11 February 2012

The iron law of chaos

Henry Fuseli's painting of Odysseus
facing the choice between 

Scylla and Charybdis. 
From Wikipedia
If you take a handful of Cornflakes and throw them all over the kitchen floor instead of into your breakfast bowl, then you've made a bit of a mess. It's the kind of thing I do all the time, being a clumsy cove, always thinking of other things rather than the task in hand. Not that I actually eat Cornflakes, even before they've been on the floor.

Anyway, back to messes. We all know there are far more ways for things to end up messy rather than tidy. Tidy is an abnormal situation, as are neat, well-run, reliable and useful. Messy, badly-run, unreliable and useless are easy to achieve. Do nothing or do something badly and there you are. Job done - or rather undone.

In a sense, harmful and damaging situations sit there waiting for us to drift into them, simply because there are more of them. It's a statistical thing and very often the path of least resistance too. Like Scylla and Charybdis, messy, unclear and damaging situations will trap the unwary and if we have the unwary leading us then we really are stuffed aren't we?

The iron law of chaos is just that. Chaos will come knocking if we don't smarten up and run our complex world in a simpler and less furtive way, more transparent way. If we don't give people the liberty to adapt or fail because that is how we learn to steer a course through the vicissitudes of life.

Yet a caring society is the modern trend, caring without a thought that we might be taking away the need to  learn. We have to learn life's lessons, but how are we to do that without trial and error? A grown-up society needs its hard edges where there are knocks and setbacks and even tragedies, but lessons are learned and  digested and genuine progress is the result.

Otherwise the iron law of chaos takes a hand and that's something we really shall find difficult to cope with. In fact we already are.


rogerh said...

I once took my brother's kids to the funfair and as an experiment gave each £10 to spend as they pleased. One blew the lot on the first attraction and one still had some left at the end. Now, twenty years later their fundamental nature has not changed. In case you're wondering I did relent - a bit. Perhaps the experiment should have been repeated sufficient times, but life is not like that.

As for Scylla and Charybdis - that's life, trouble comes when you ignore the one or the other or don't reveal the bottomless pit waiting for the taxpayer - that is what a change of government is for, blame it on the last lot.

How fitting S&C arose from Greek mythology, I wonder if the Euro will be an ancient Greek myth by Monday?

A K Haart said...

Of course you relented - as we do with our grandson! I think the Greeks should be better off out - good luck to them.