Tabletop

Reminded by Marsha reading Hofstadter’s “I Am A Strange Loop“, that I never did record the Tabletop (or Theatre of Operations) metaphor for creative analogy … that is analogies that actually create things, things as interesting as humans and minds.

I mentioned it twice here and here referring to Hofstadter’s “Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies“, and I know I’ve demonstrated the Tabletop exercise in real life, but I’ve never recorded a description of it.

Scenario : Now is a point in time … everything you know up to that point. You have a decision to make – now. Your available options are laid out in front of you (on the Tabletop). Your decision is in reponse to the last action of the party you are in debate / dialogue / negotiation with. What next ?

The original point of the exercise was in fact to do with how humans created concepts as part of thought processes. However, it’s pretty much a model of any life decision, for any individual or organization … the question being, what next action is the best choice. The core point is that the “available options” laid out on the Tabletop in front of you are NOT all you will consider, even if they are the only available options in a purely practical – pre-defined rules of the game – sense. Your thinking process will invent relationships and analogies that exist in conceptual levels removed from the Tabletop itself, before making your choice. Your real theatre of operations is much greater than the Tabletop and most of it is invented in your head – created.

The example starts, as befits a Tabletop, with random cutlery and crockery, eating utensils chosen in turn by two people sitting across the table from each other. You choose a knife, I choose a knife / the same knife /  a fork / what ? Same object, same kind, same relation, same what ? Same by some created analogy, and you’re off … infinite levels of creativity. (In Fluid Analogies, these series of what-nexts start with simple number, letter, symbol, word, quine-series ad-infinitum.) The creative question concerns which next choice is “best“.

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