X-Plane – the Liminal Layer

Vaguely (subconscious irony) aware of David Gray’s upcoming Liminal Thinking publication, and reminded today by a Facebook post from Johnnie Moore (which itself has a hat tip to Jon Husband) that set me thinking – a riff linking some thinking, rather than any deep reading of the references (yet).

Johnnie’s trigger was “Tyranny of the explicit” which obviously resonated with my whole agenda. The memetic problem that we over-value the explicit, demand the implicit is made explicit, because it’s much easier to count, express, communicate, manipulate, select and validate explicit forms than simply accept the implicit. Our culture – the objective memeplex – rejects acceptance of the implicit. Ease-of-argument wins over value-of-content. (Obviously very consistent with my current Wittgensteinian Logical methods vs Language games vein of work, but that’s not the riff here.)

No, what fired off the links was the Liminal Thinking graphic on David’s web pages, presumably in his book:

Culture OS 016

The thing is the 3-layer model is my “everything comes in 3 layers, even the layers” mantra. Any “layer” of anything has three aspects, itself and interfaces to two others. This is useful anytime we express conceptual models in 2D or 3D views representing lines and surfaces, as we do mentally all the time whether we capture them explicitly or not (whiteboard, powerpoint, any information model in any publishable form – see “ease” memetic point above). But that’s a generic point. (XPLANE is the branding of David’s consulting business, which obviously uses his liminal thinking thinking – an obvious allusion.)

The specific important point is that this particular

Conscious <> Liminal <> Unconscious

3-layer model of thinking maps in an interesting way to a particular physical model of the brain

Left Hemisphere <> Corpus Callosum <> Right Hemisphere

Now, left-right brain myths won’t go away, even though many now find it easier to simply dismiss such ideas. The point is explicit myths about left-right brain differences are wrong. What is important is their three-layer architecture, not their differences. The interface mediates how processing in the two halves communicate with each other and keeps different forms of thought processing separate at any given time. Apart from some major, broad specialisations of dedicated connections, most of the cortex is generic and plastic enough to be involved in any kind of processing of any topics of consideration at any time – but the architecture is always there to enable joined-up thinking. (See Iain McGilchrist) Pretty sure the real (best) conceptual model of thinking has to be:

Particular & Explicit <> Liminal (Interfacing) <> Abstract & Implicit

The problem looks like explicit dominating the implicit, but in fact they interact not directly, through a zero-substance interface, but through a significant and substantial interface in which important processing happens. How literally the conceptual maps to the physical is not important – ie our physical models are ultimately conceptual (informational) anyway. Liminal thinking processes are worth understanding, valuing and learning to use.

Looking forward to Liminal Thinking by David Gray.

2 thoughts on “X-Plane – the Liminal Layer”

  1. Interesting reference to Wittgenstein, one of the main influences on Steve De Shazzer’s thinking in the development of Solutions Focused Brief Therapy

  2. Interesting – been a fan of Wittgenstein for 15 years or so of blogging and reading philosophy, but been posting many references over the past couple of months, and re-reading his work.

    Not heard of Shazzer or Solutions-focussed Brief Therapy – I’ll Google them.

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