Circles, in some aspects, seem the perfect shape, but they also represent closed systems, at least when considered alone. Spheres add dimension. And groups of spheres, almost infinite groups of spheres, well that is a very different thing. Groups of spheres seem to surround us, from micro, sub atomic structures to the shapes of ever expanding universes. We humans, and perhaps other biological entities, seem trapped in the middle, although, the gift of volition would seem to impact the concept of a closed system, a flaw in the predestination that geometry and mathematics and physics seem to imply. It is interesting to speculate on whether or not there was any volition inherent in the transition from singularity into everything which eventually evolved. That might, to some extent, explain the imperfections in that first great conflagration. Of course, that could imply a demiurge and, to be honest, demiurges are currently out of fashion.
Circes are symbols as well as archetypes, especially when configured in groups. And while the potential configuration of circles is infinite the classification of their configurations are not. They can be singularities (theoretically), solitary circles, groups of solitaries, concentric, overlapping, intersecting, and combinations of the foregoing. As combinations they represent the fascinating possibilities inherent in chaos where all that can be, “is”, and is simultaneously notwithstanding inherent contradictions.
As archetypes, concentric circles represent hierarchies, authoritarian systems, each level encompassing a prior level around a singularity in the middle. Overlapping circles represent interactions among some groups of circles without a hierarchy and without a centric singularity, and, intersecting circles represent interaction among all members of a group, without a hierarchy but with a common nucleus: circles interacting around a central axis with a portion of their circumferences overlaying, generating a small shared area, one that they occupy in common while the rest reflects a sort of independence. The latter variant represents very special things to me on a number of levels. The ideal blend of intimacy and independence in intimate interpersonal relationships, or the ideal relationship among social groups with shared values but also, with treasured differences; the antithesis of the revered melting pot concept much more accurately reflecting the ideal in a multicultural society and a multinational state. No one’s values superimposed over those of others even as important values are shared.
Ideals are such frustrating things though. They posit idealized solutions to intractable problems: unstoppable forces crashing into immovable objects but with the hope that faith can indeed move mountains. Somewhere in chaos, in the multiverse posited by the variant of string theory that encompasses eleven, rather than ten dimensions, somewhere where everything that can happen happens somewhere or some-when, idealized solutions function. But not here, not now.
It is very sad that in today’s polarized world where purported progressives have exchanged almost all of their values in a quest for perpetual power, the balance in my vision of intersecting circles is being brutalized and the quest for individuality, for harmonious liberty, for tolerance and mutual respect is being savaged. It’s as though an intellectual pandemic infected many of the people who once shared my values and my goals and turned them into negative mirror images of what they once were. Inexplicably, at least to me, metaphorically their quest seems to involve converting intersecting circles into concentric circles, and then, into singularities, reversing the tolerance-for-difference humankind once seemed determined to attain into Orwellian conformism.
I recall the hope and love inherent during the chaotic nineteen-sixties, a blend of incoherent emotions demanding change, demanding an end to bellicosity at every level; an end to war; an end to racism, xenophobia and misogyny; an end to intolerance; an end to inequity and injustice, but in each case, endings to be attained through empathy and love rather than conflict, conquest and suppression. However, we lost our way and flower children became politicians and entrepreneurs and journalists and, instead of great writers, many became great publicists, enamored with the apparent magic of the tools behavioral psychology made available, tools that, like the mythical philosopher’s stone, permitted almost total manipulation of feelings and beliefs. And truth became irrelevant, a merely relative concept. Rhetoric became a divinity at whose feet, amidst the sounds of silence, we became that against which we once railed.
As we changed, we propagated and under the leadership and guidance of many of us who, for diverse reasons, like Luke Skywalker aka Darth Vader turned to the dark side, much of our progeny became more and more incoherent, incongruent, vitriolic, violent and intolerant. Slogans replaced goals and to them, the changes in the present we so need required that the historical past be destroyed and replaced: in essence, that our historical mirrors be exchanged for discordant pseudo-art: visual as well as vocal, cinematographic, etc. To them, censorship, rather than the evil we once believed it to be, ought to be imposed in the name of security from discordant opinions, as though rather than the music of the orbs, only a single unending, unwavering, invariable note should be permitted to exist, and that what it lacked in terms of diversity, should be replaced with volume.
In essence, in this temporal instant, in this corner of the multiverse, we are experiencing a battle of discordant circular configurations, perhaps a battle between the armies of chaos (intersecting and overlapping circles, the good guys) and the armies of the concentric circles seeking the singularity we once were. Singularity which provides security through the absence of choices and the absence of opinions but which, in the end, crushes us all.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at email@example.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.