Constructive Recollection

By: Ron C. de Weijze

Constructive recollection is a method that always provides the best possible answer you can give to a question or problem you are faced with. It is your lifeline that may never break or you will be lost in your thoughts. What makes it so hard, is that it may be very dynamic and hardly recognizable from one moment to the next, let alone from one date to any other. And when you feel you have multiple ‘loose ends’ you are working on, it must have the same answer to all of them, be they in different forms.

I hope you recognize this situation. If you do, chances are that you have a synthetic mind, integrating all that you sense and know into one frame of mind, one understanding. Once you have found your frame of reference and this has become part of your world or your (sub)culture, then the need for synthesis disappears and makes room for analysis, from that one perspective and point of view you arrived at, or the generation before you.

How can recollection be constructive? The answer can help us who have problems with learning, or even understanding (our world). Basic are two human capacities that we are all born with: to sense and to know. Sensing and knowing are extremes on the scale of human capacities, from dealing with the material-, to dealing with the immaterial substances that surround us and that we are made of.

The product of dealing with reality is the content of our brains, both material and immaterial. The grey matter and the things we trust, expect, suspect, predict, believe and intend. I try to describe and explain how this works, in private and in public. My theory is, following Henri Bergson, that sensing and knowing set the stage, paint the picture and bring out the magic. We are both sensing ànd knowing organisms in a sensed and known environment (figure 1).

figure 1

The environment produced us and as sensing organisms we are still instinctively connected to it. We produced the known environment and as knowing organisms we are still intellectually connected to it. So there are 4 basic entities, each having powers of its own, which (or the abbreviations of which) I shall continue to work with:

The ‘now & here’ is a point that changes content over time, as the organism and the environment ‘roll’ (which is why I call it the ‘roll-model’). All points together thus form a flat surface or field. So there are two flat surfaces, one for the surface-of-interaction between sEnv and sOrg, and another one, virtually at the same position, between kOrg and kEnv.

figure 2

Where the organism and the environment touch, things change. Actually, what is known is adapted to what is sensed or vice versa (figure 2). Then which surface is it, sensed or known? It can only be one of these two and they should rather not be changing simultaneously, for they are about ‘truth’. Which one it is, depends on the dynamics of exploration or social interaction.

The organism, as a source of knowledge and intentions, somehow translates information from sOrg into kOrg. The environment, as an object, is formed or deformed by our actions, from kEnv into sEnv, on the opposite side. These transformations, together with the adaptations, are drawn as grey arrows, forming a cycle (figure 3).

figure 3

kEnv ‘rolls’ 360° around kOrg, as kOrg is able to. This I call ‘Multi-Perspectivism‘ (MP), since kEnv is seen from all sides, before the mind’s eye. Simultaneously, sOrg ‘rolls’ 360° around sEnv, as sOrg must, like a trip around the world. This is called ‘Object-Orientation‘ (OO).

MP produces a changing image, because the organism moves and the environment does not. OO produces the same changing image, because the environment moves and the organism does not. We pick up bits of information or put them down into facts when they are intentions. They are positioned on the same surface of impressions and expressions, to shape images and grow as roots from one image in time to the next (figure 4).

figure 4

The system is governed either by the environment, or by ourselves. Then what reverses, is only the direction of the adaptation. In social interaction, the side of the initiative changes. If the situation was that the field created by the interacting sEnv and sOrg, had copied itself onto the one of kOrg and kEnv, then now this situation has turned around and copying starts in the opposite direction. That is, expressions are matched by impressions and vice versa.

Suppose that the environment is another person. Then we ourselves, as an organism (sOrg and kOrg), are ‘mirrored’ on the other side of the shared environment (kEnv and sEnv) in ‘the Other’. Both organisms, Self and Other, draw the same information from their shared environment (figure 5). Both our, possibly different, social realities, ought be reducible to the same physical reality (L. Festinger, 1950; M. Turner, 1968).

However, the ideal of independent confirmation can not always be accomplished, especially when social reality is taking over from physical reality. Nobody can claim to have seen God, or society, physically, so their definitions must stem from social reality, or communication about the concepts. sEnv is now directly what the Other says or how he behaves: sOrg. And adaptation then is either in dominant- or in submissive mode.

figure 5

Although the signal travels past 4 stations in each person in the dyad of Self and Other, either from sEnv to kEnv, or from kOrg to sOrg, the responses still are practically immediate. You might think of it as a pixel on a screen that is turned on. When two people interact, the question is, who determines the traveling direction: from Self to Other (Self dominant & Other submissive) or vice versa (Other dominant & Self submissive) .

In PMM the bits of information and facts are called Notes. You can position them on Sheets and link them by Relations of all types. A sheet is one perspective and orientation you have on your environment at a time. You decide how many Notes, Sheets and Relations you need, as long as you want, to bring about your own sensible, knowledgeable reality.

The Sheets appear one by one and they are all slightly different (figure 4). Not only because the Notes are put into slightly different positions, integrate into nodes or differentiate into separate threads, but also because the perspective changes. Thus, your orientation towards the object (environment) changes and so do your perspectives. This is what PMM can bring out for you (figure 6).

figure 6

I assume that social interactions between a dominant Other and the submissive Self or vice versa, aims at the education or indoctrination of the individual (Self or Other), being a dependent group member at least in the current dyad. Impressions flow from one source (Self or Other) and are expected to be reproduced so that deviance is minimal. Dependent confirmation therefore is simply conformation.

Within groups, individual opinion is thus strengthened. Between groups, individuals with strengthened opinions do not reproduce or dependently confirm each other. Instead, they aim for independent confirmation of their own, thus strengthened or weakened, impressions. That is, if no violence is used. This aspect of social interaction seems to be featuring in new politics and new journalism. I believe it is a continuation of how people started out their lives as children playing. This is constructive recollection in its truest form.

In figure 7, personal constructive recollection (at least in a dyad) is developed in four phases. Although the process is natural, I can divert from it, when I somehow lose my sense of relevance, culture, self-respect or ability to communicate. So I must return to these basics every now and then, to follow the trail back to its beginnings. Bergson (1932) wrote: “Go go back in the direction from where the driving force came and you will regain strength”. Once I am back on track, these steps disappear from my conscious radar, back into their natural somnambulism.

figure 7

I. Sense

When the brain doesn’t want to function and all you can do is sense, then what do you feel? You’d probably say: ‘nothing’. However the environment can still be sensed and the organism still senses: pain or numbness most likely. Take the first step by letting the negative refer to the positive: ‘not here’. And ‘roll’, as in figure 1. The mind can pick up the trail while you move to a better place to stand or to be. Even when you interpret this in a more philosophical or existential way, the ‘roll-model’ still upholds.

II. Know

So now you also ‘know what’ you sense. You can at least copy it so that it is ‘the same’, even though immaterial, as an image in your mind. You have created a known environment from a knowing organism (i.e. yourself). And just like sensing, knowing is something now & here. Your mindmap can direct you to better places. You ‘roll’ to places that are more agreeable, make better sense or have stronger connotations. Initially this may be just a reflex, but later on memories may insert themselves so that you can be more reflective and make better judgments.

III. Intuit

Next, match the now & here you sense, with the now & here you know. This means you have to make a choice for what determines your present state of being: the environment or you. The one gets copied onto, and effectively replaces, the other. The environment may be the power (of argument) or expectations of the Other. You, on the other hand, may have affections and evaluations you cannot or do not want to let go, and so you let them determine.

IV. Realize

As figure 5 showed, two intuitions can turn into one uniquely shared intuition, by the realization of dominance and submission. You then only look for confirmation and possibly even forbid criticism. Another way is by independent confirmation. Then you are willing and not forced, to accept the view the environment or the Other has. Therefore we can have democracy: when anybody believes he is right, let him show how he can be proven wrong. So what is true or real, will finally become clear. There will be no separate groups and what is more: no polarization and extremism as in the case of dominance and submission. The machination in terms of the model used here is as follows.

When sEnv, including sOrg, preceded kOrg, including kEnv, then kOrg adapts to sEnv and the context is one of justification. Vice versa, when kOrg, including kEnv, preceded sEnv, including sOrg, then sEnv is made to adapt to kOrg and the context is one of discovery.

I feel very fortunate living in a time that we can afford ourselves the luxury of developing and reflecting on our own thoughts. Yet, even because that is our human condition at the moment, a lot needs to be done. We need to discover what is possible these days, justifiably correcting each Other’s thoughts and actions.

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