I've been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand… - Dante Alighieri
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita / mi ritrovai per una selva oscura, / ché la diritta via era smarrita - Joy Division
In the Cynefin framework, there are five domains not four. It is not a 2x2 matrix. The one that is least discussed is the one in the centre - a wound in its structure. Tis but a scratch. Or possibly a mortal blow. Or maybe a stigmata. A tear in reality that heals imperfectly, leaving the scar tissue of the Cynefin framework.
This is not an attempt to analysis the domain of disorder but to commune with it. It is poetry not science. It may also be bollocks but that’s OK. I did think about trying to write it in terza rima. But I’m not that good a poet.
In the beginning was not clarity, complication, complexity, nor chaos. In the beginning was the word. And the word was “disorder”. Not knowing where you are.
You awake with a start. For a moment, you don’t know where you are. The dream seemed so real. The knives so sharp. Your teeth so loose. Your trousers so absent in the schoolyard. And yet it was all just a dream. Now you are safe in your bed. High in the atmosphere over the surface of Jupiter.
Disorder is the condition of just dropping in to see what condition your condition was in. You may be supremely confident about where you are. But you are probably wrong. The revised new international version of Cynefin renames disorder “confusion” so it adds as a fifth C in the framework. If we view the Cynefin framework as late 90s boy band Take That - and all the scientific evidence says that we should - then disorder is very much the Howard Donald of the order of things. Feel free to align the remaining four domains of Cynefin with the remaining four Take That members. I think the results should be obvious.
But it’s not just confusion. There’s aporia as well. Confusion is “bad” disorder because it seeks to deny the multiplicity of the world, to fall into the trap that, to quote polymath Jared Kushner, “For every problem there is a solution that is simple, neat—and wrong” (wise words Jared). Aporia is “good” disorder. We know that we don’t know. We accept our lostness and with it, the hand of Virgil to lead us through the bowels of damnation and up into the light.
But the aporetic turn is as uncomfortable as confusion is comfortable. The shift twists and strains our ligaments like playdough. Our pride may snap like a frozen branch under the weight of our delusions. Leaving us spreadeagled on the ground aporetically speaking. The aporetic turn can be graceless.
But we find our way on our journey. Ready player one.
David Snowden’s three posts on disorder: one, two & three. Joy Division.
Either Ian Curtis with early drafts of the lyrics for Unknown Pleasures in 1978 while Bernard Sumner flicks cigarette ash at his head or David Snowden discussing complexity with Cynthia Kurtz at a White Plains IBM office with a faulty HVAC unit in 1999. Brother Francis Gerard’s efforts at reconstructing the historical record have been mighty and yet holes still remain. Please contribute to our Patreon to assist his efforts.