Sarah Perry is a contributing editor of Ribbonfarm.

This essay attempts to place ritual in the context of evolving complex systems, and to offer an explanation for why everything is so ugly and nobody seems to be able to do anything about it.

On Boundaries and Their Permeability

Boundaries are an inherent, universal feature of complex systems. Boundaries arise at all scales, defining the entities that they surround and protecting them from some kinds of outside intrusion. To be functional, boundaries must be permeable, allowing the entities to take energy and information from outside themselves. If we are looking at complex systems, we will find boundaries everywhere.

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The Mother of All 2x2s

by Venkat on February 25, 2015

A few weeks ago, I tweeted that I had made up the mother of all 2x2s — taxes vs. play/death vs. life — and that a large fraction of the models I’ve been playing with over the last couple of years, here on this blog, seem to fall neatly into (or are amenable to being forced without too much arbitrariness into) this 2×2. Understandably, there was some skepticism. Well, here we go. I’ve put not one, not two, but thirteen of my models (some of which I haven’t shared before) in 2×2 forms. Not only that, I figured out a personality test of sorts based on these models. For convenience, I made a deck out of the 2x2s rather than making this a blog post with 13 images. If you have trouble viewing the deck below, use this link to view it directly on slideshare.

I am working on refining this, and also developing versions for businesses, cities and nations.

I suspect this will not make much sense to people who haven’t been following along on this thought trail, and will require some work even for those who know where this is all coming together from. At some point, I’ll put together a talk track or an expository essay, but if you’ve read at least some of the posts linked on the first slide, you should get at least a sense of the multi-model. You should be able to usefully try out the personality test even if you don’t quite understand every 2×2, but are able to classify yourself on most of them.


A Dent in the Universe

by Venkat 02.18.2015

At higher levels of the Maslow hierarchy, imagination is a survival skill. At the apex, where self-actualization is the primary concern, lack of imagination means death. Metaphoric death followed by literal death of the sort that tortured artists achieve through suicide. Less sensitive souls, such as earnest political philosophers and technically brilliant but unimaginative mathematicians, seem […]

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What Is Ritual?

by Sarah Perry 02.11.2015

Sarah Perry  is a resident blogger visiting us from her home turf at The View from Hell. If we should inquire for the essence of “government,” for example, one man might tell us it was authority, another submission, another police, another an army, another an assembly, another a system of laws; yet all the while […]

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Refactor Camp 2015: Narrative

by Venkat 02.02.2015

It’s Refactor Camp time again for the fourth time.  As with the last three years, the event will again be held in the Bay Area over the first weekend in March.  This year, that’s the weekend of March 7-8 in San Francisco. Click here to register. The theme this year is narrative. Even though this […]

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The Heroine’s Journey

by Editor 01.28.2015

Haley Thurston is a resident blogger visiting us from her home turf at The Sublemon. What are women afraid of? Why do women matter? How are women useful? Do these questions have gender-specific answers? In The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell says that a hero is “someone who has found or achieved or done something beyond […]

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Let’s Play! Narrative Discovery vs. Expert Guides

by Ryan Tanaka 01.21.2015

Ryan Tanaka is a resident blogger, visiting us from his home turf at The latest musical work that inspired this article can be found here. (Animated music video!) If you’ve been watching South Park’s recent episodes, you might have noticed YouTube commentator PewDiePie making a few cameos here and there near the top corners […]

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On the Design of Escaped Realities

by Venkat 01.16.2015

Human beings have this amazing ability to retreat from reality without knowing precisely what reality is, in which direction it lies, and how to solve the converse problem of deliberately approaching it. We have gotten so good at this game of retreat that we’ve even managed to define an entire frontier of virtual reality to […]

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Ritual and the Consciousness Monoculture

by Sarah Perry 01.08.2015

Sarah Perry is a resident blogger visiting us from her home turf at The View from Hell. A selective sweep occurs when a new, beneficial gene mutation appears and quickly sweeps across a population, erasing the genetic diversity that existed prior to the sweep. Similarly, languages have “swept” across continents as the cultures they belonged […]

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Black Mirror as Hell-Is-Other-People Futurism

by Venkat 01.01.2015

Over the break, I watched Black Mirror, the highly acclaimed British futurist show.  I am tempted to call it a tech-dystopian show, but it isn’t quite that. To count as dystopian, you need a corresponding utopian vision that has failed or is stillborn, and the show doesn’t offer or suggest any. People have also been comparing it to […]

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