Taking back 'Chaos'

Civilization is tidy. We like to keep things clean, organized, secure, predictable. We're taught to seek comfort for ourselves and our loved ones, whether it's on the couch watching '24' or in our SUV on the way to the supermarket. Law and Order, though often villified by the same society they protect, are credited with helping maintain this false appearance of normality.

Whether in Hollywood or in Washington, the vagueness of 'The Enemy' often leads us to the same conclusion: 'They want to hurt us, they're jealous of our society, they want to destroy everything we've built'. In other words, 'Chaos' becomes an absolute evil.

Absolutes and Evil are two things I have difficulty accepting. Chaos, however, is everywhere around us: walk into a forest to see it. Even symmetry in nature - the appearance of perfect order - can have its roots in chaos (hah, I love how that article begins 'Women have more orgasms during sex with men who are more symmetrical'. It makes me wonder how far the male biological scale slides to 'asymetrical...')

D&D Alignment ChartThe Dungeons and Dragons universe has an alignment system for players to categorize the moral and ethical perspective of a character. This slides from Good, to Neutral, to Evil, and from Lawful, to Neutral, to Chaotic, respectively. So for example, a Paladin (or an honest Police Officer trying to do the best he can) would be 'Lawful Good', whereas an evil senator or magistrate who used his power to corrupt and dominate would be 'Lawful Evil'.

However, many characters could also be considered 'Chaotic Good' - Robin Hood, Neo (from 'The Matrix' films), and others who refuse to accept the false notion that structure, order and society are as fair, just and equitable as they can be.

The idea that 'Chaos' is something negative is easy to spread, because of the value we've mistakenly grown to place on our security and comfort - which are, truth be told, better described as fear and sloth.

Throughout history, the major changes and paradigm shifts we've faced have more often than not brought on by groups or entities that started off as chaotic, unstructured bodies.
Indeed, all revolutions are inherently chaotic, and are generally spawned within the stifling context of the drive to build perfect order and structure. Revolutions, regardless of how they often end up, are simply responses to the incompatibility between societies' quest for order and individuals' quest for freedom (freedom is defined here as 'The Right To Choose'). Interestingly, the futile attempts to build homogenized, perfectly ordered societies (The Third Reich, The Global Caliphate, Project for a New American Century, etc) inevitably devolve into fascist, rigid steamrollers that lay a swath of destruction to anything in their path, regardless of its place on the order/chaos scale. They then finally collapse on themselves.

Non-profit groups operating within the constraints of a structurally rigid socioeconomic and political environment - in other words, almost any country in the world - are operating under the 'lawful good' alignment; "We'll try to do the best we can withn the current framework we're forced to work in... we'll try and help people while being good, law-abiding citizens." Which is why we see charities, NGOs and research centres consuming a disproportionate amount of resources for the small amount of change they usually manage to bring about. It's why many charities spend as much or more on overhead, administrative costs and bureaucracy as they do on their actual development work. It's why the UN operates far too slowly and expensively to be relevant in world affairs.

On the other hand, small groups that openly defy the establishment and succeed in challenging accepted truths can have a great impact far beyond their groups' lifespan. The problem arises, of course, when these 'ragtag bands of freedom fighters ;)' eventually build a structured, cohesive unit and decide to incorporate, get their tax numbers, and start co-working from a loft on the plateau which they get to on their Vespas with their macbooks safely snug in their courrier bags after picking up a double-latte. :p

The Internet is another great example of productive chaos. All these phenomena that Web Too-Point-Oh hipster nerds like to call 'user generated content' or 'social software' or 'crappr beta' started out as completely unorganized or loosely organized groupings of techies, artists, thinkers and developers who wanted to make something cool. The open source world is very good at it. However, many of the projects that do end up making a mark are snatched up by Yahoo or Google, absorbed into the monolithic culture of order and assimilated to 'fit in' to the new structure which they now serve. It's part of the reason why so many web-savvy people bitch about these cool services 'selling out' to the big guys, only to resign to continue using them by opening up a google account or yahoo ID: our inherent, human desire for chaos loses out to our firmly ingrained, brainwashed-in search for comfort and security.

Unlike Boris, though, I don't believe that 'Humanity is unsustainable; designed for extinction.' Even though those who know me intimately know that (despite my happy-go-lucky exterior ;))I'm quite a pessimist with a dark world view and little hope in the human race, I believe that the problem isn't inherent in humans, but in the structures we seek to build and the order we strive to create. Our systems are designed for extinction, but our chaotic nature could - though very unlikely - perhaps someday find a way to sustain itself and ourselves.

So be chaotic. Be unpredictable. Avoid patterns. Break things. Refuse laws. Try. Fail. Try again. Fail. Try again. Succeed. Then tear it all down and start over again. Align yourself with non-alignment.

Myself? Why I'm Chaotic Good, of course.:)


 

“Chaos in the world brings uneasiness, but it also allows the opportunity for creativity and growth.”

- Tom Barrett

“Our real discoveries come from chaos, from going to the place that looks wrong and stupid and foolish.”

- Chuck Palahniuk

“Chaos is the score upon which reality is written.”

- Henry Miller

“Chaos in the midst of chaos isn't funny, but chaos in the midst of order is.”

- Steve Martin

“Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.”

- Henry Brooks Adams

“Randomness is not totally haphazard, as it is consistent in its chaos; it has negative consistency and so is predictable.”

“Chaos results when the world changes faster than people.”

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