portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

Freedom From Form

A new way to understand.
The following article relates to a new book, Freedom From Form, which is available through the World Travelers Press link of www.dictatorwatch.org.


By Roland Watson

The universe is a web of systems, of loose and not so loose forms of organization, and of an extremely wide variety. Also, there are structures we are aware of, and those which we are not, for whatever reason, including:

- We have not yet developed awareness of them.
- For some systems it may be the case that it is not possible for us to have awareness of them.

This is the subject of Freedom From Form. A form is any type of system, organization or structure, including any thing or process. For instance, when we consider music using the structure of scales and octaves, or numbers using a base system of ten, these are forms.

Such a characterization in turn raises two fundamental questions:

- Are such forms real aspects of nature, of physical reality, or merely human projections onto it? - And, can a careful analysis reveal new forms that to date have been un-discovered?

On examination, it is clear that there are many levels of form in the universe. To start, there is the form of the universe itself, which is the study of such fields as physics. Also, it is worth noting that the universe is a global form; it is a structure that embodies a whole.

Within the universe there are two basic forms of parts: its inorganic components, and those that are organic, i.e., life. But life is also a global system: each living thing comprises its own self-contained universe.

Within life we find its various kingdoms, including animal, and within animal, human. Human life in turn is comprised of two sets of form, individual and social, which also interact. The form of any given individual is a consequence of his or her genes, and free will, and the interaction of these with all manner of social influences. And, social influences themselves can be distinguished between education and other types of influences, with the latter having some selfish underpinning, distinct from but which is then applied to such individuals.

As all of this suggests, another aspect of form is its content; what the organization or structure contains. Viewed in reverse, this means that a form is anything with content. But, must a form always have content, or can it be empty? Also, if form does imply content, then is anything truly random? Wouldn't the content necessarily take on some aspect of the form? Further, if nothing is truly random, is there such a thing as chance, or luck?

Moving on, social influences, or conditioning, can also be referred to as behavioral form. The basic sources of such form include one's parents, siblings and other relatives. However, there are manifold sources of behavioral form, including all of the influences of one's culture (and others to which we are exposed). These influences are expressed in the culture's values, belief systems and goals, and they are delivered, are regularly imposed, via its various social institutions: educational, governmental, religious, economic and media.

Regarding Freedom From Form, in the first instance this is the type of form to which the title applies. The book provides an extensive review of social or behavioral form, and of the means by which we can achieve our freedom from it. In addition, it considers this in two different ways: how individuals can counteract the deterministic influences imposed by social institutions, reclaim their free will, and create unique identities; and how we can work together to transform our institutions such that they become less oppressive and are refocused on their traditional mission to satisfy human needs.

Related to this is the issue of how change occurs: of how forms can be transformed. Change can occur continuously, or through a discontinuous break. Indeed, the first is equivalent to development, and the second to evolution. However, some changes are not possible, and others can occur only via one process or the other (but not both). The fact that history repeats itself, that we are unable to accomplish certain changes, as from a world where conflict is the norm to one at peace, reflects our ignorance of this. This type of change requires a discontinuity. There must be a "break" from the past, from one global form to its successor. (Also, change is regularly thwarted because the powers that be, those individuals who control our institutions, do not desire it. They like things just the way they are.)

Freedom From Form considers all manner of forms, and the continuous and/or discontinuous processes by which they may be changed, including:

- The ways in which we should attempt to change our social institutions and overall social structure, the prerequisites for such change, and the probability that we will succeed.

- The fact that Homo sapiens may now be entering an accelerated period of species evolution, fueled by widespread literacy, and an evaluation of how such evolution can, and likely will, proceed.

- An exposition of the deepest forms of the universe and of life, including an appraisal of the many flaws in our common-sense perception. For example, Einstein demonstrated that space and time are inseparable, and that reality is a procession of "events." Consequently, the view expressed above that a form is a thing or process must be amended. However, we remain trapped in this perceptual framework, that space is distinct from time.

- In addition, we believe in luck, but it can be proven that there is really only good and bad chance. (Everything is a function of probabilities.) Further, an understanding of the deepest secrets of the universe explains why this must be so.

- The idea implicit in Eastern philosophy that it may be possible to leave one's form behind and become, so-to-speak, formless, i.e., at one with the universe.