Logovisual technology (LVT) is the outcome of years of exploration and development that started with the work of John Bennett on systematics and structural communication. In both of these, the key guiding principle had been Gurdjieff’s discussion of ‘mentation by word’ and ‘mentation by form’. He called the first ‘subjective’ because each of us associates different things with the same word. We need mentation by form to correct for this. This kind of thinking is not taught in schools.
Mentation by form includes how we are influenced by the landscape of our formatory years, but is mainly significant for us as the way of thinking that is based on forms rather than on words. A simple way of looking at this property is to say that we deal in the ‘shape’of thoughts. This is not simply an addition of imagery. Thoughts have a shape insofar as they exist in a space of arrangement in which their mutual relevance is apparent. In sentences such as these, thoughts are strung out in a line and we rely on some unknown internal process to link them together – to create a ‘whole that is more than the sum of its parts’.
LVT evolved to enable people to enter into mentation by form and achieve higher levels of integration than is possible by using words alone.
A first requirement is to deal in thoughts that have their own autonomy. If we are only used to words and documents, we rarely have an experience of this state, because thoughts tend to be merged together in complexes such as stories that carry emotional tonalities. To deal in discrete thoughts is a radical step. But, if there are such discrete thoughts, then it is possible to work an alchemy with them and find ever new significance in their combinations. Such combinations cannot be expressed in words alone but require a visual display.
Making discrete thoughts is like giving them a place and reminds us of the important role given to sensation by Gurdjieff. Such a consideration is also paramount in the work of the psychologist-philosopher Eugene Gendlin, who did a study that showed that all effective psychotherapy involved the subjects locating their feelings or thoughts in their bodies.
Discrete thoughts belong to the logo part of LVT, the word stemming from the Greek logos or ‘word’ or ‘meaning’. We use the term ‘molecules of meaning’ (MMs) for such discrete thoughts.
These thoughts 'have a body'. The written-upon hexagon mirrors the mind-body of a person thinking. This feature of our experience has been explored by the physicist David Bohm in his last paper on Soma-Psyche.
The people engaged in LVT are the most important MMs. These do not look like 'statements written on hexagons' but have the same character of embodied meaning. There are MMs on many levels and they can become very complex, but even with written statements people must 'invest' something of themselves in them so that they take them seriously. Work on MMs can then do more than 'symbolically' represent 'work on oneself'.
Putting a thought 'out there' into a shared physical space is an important act. It implies a separation, enabling new ways of linking them together. For most people, seeing what they have said in a conversation written down can come as a great surprise. If this is done, as it is is in LVT in a defined way, in real time the nature of conversation will be altered.
One of the advantages of LVT in a group is that everyone can use a common language. This is usually not the case. In LVT, all conversation must relate to the MMs produced and displayed by the members of the group.
The display of MMs belongs to the visual part of LVT. We have to use a two-dimensional surface, which can display various groupings and arrangements of them. The step from one to two dimensions, just by itself, can change the way we think. Two dimensions allow for thinking in more than one direction at the same time. We are naturally adapted for a visual intelligence and spatial awareness that does not work by logic and is blocked by making lists.
The technology part of LVT addresses the means whereby people can interact with MMs so that they can participate in their assembly and flux. It most corresponds with feeling. In moving and arranging MMs hands follow feelings to evoke new thoughts. The realm mediating thinking and moving is that of feeling.
The MMs that are people and the MMs that are in the form of written statements on hexagons form the limits of a spectrum of meanings. The process of LVT then serves to link them together, making a bridge, or a staircase, from outward knowledge to inner understanding, from the greater to the lesser 'pressent moment'.
The Genius of Thinking Together
Within our own subjective sphere, each of us thinks perfectly. It is quite a step to think well with other people. This requires something like the construction of a shared mind. To realise such, the people involved must agree to use the same MMs and to follow the same rules of engagement as each other. This is in contrast with most conversation, which explains why such conversation has few objective results. It is also the case that a lot of conversation is competitive – to gain some advantage or ‘win’ over others – and it is rare to have conversation in which people build something together.
The general name for procedures in which people share the same MMs and rules is meaning game. The objective of such games is to ‘make meaning together’.
Systematics was an early approach to the construction of meaning games, in which it was proposed that the integral numbers could serve as ‘authorities’ governing regions of discourse by providing a form of construction of MMs. In LVT, there are little or no set forms. They emerge with the process.
Structure of Process
The process of thinking together is not mono-valued but contains many component processes. It is an organised complexity, an open system, with constraints and rules. Research into what became LVT concluded that there were five main stages in all productive thinking.
FOCUS. Aligning attention to one ‘object’ or concern. A group needs to have some common orientation so that their intentions can correspond with each other. This can be in the form of a question, or of an aim. Coming to agreement about this serves to activate what the analyst Foulkes called the matrix, the information field which the people share in. This does not exclude differences and diversity of viewpoint.
GATHER. There needs to be an assembly of relevant MMs. At this stage, any tendency to merge MMs or seek links between them should be suspended. The reason for this is that the aim at this stage is to generate truly autonomous items. This creates a field of potential meaning, signified by the ‘gaps’ left between the MMs.
ORGANISE In this third stage, expression is given to the mutual relevance of the MMs. According to a simple model, the MMs experience attractive and repulsive forces between them and the participants respond to these forces to organise the MMs into different groups or cells or clusters. If there were 30 MMs to begin with, then this stage will produce say 6 cells. Every MM is used and used only once.
Each cell is treated as autonomous, so there is no attempt to link them together. Each cell has its own meaning and work has to be done to give these meanings expression back into words. These are called CTs or ‘cluster/titles’.
INTEGRATE The CTs are then brought into a single structure. Typically, this is in the form of a circle or ring. At this stage, the thinking we have usually in the form of story-telling comes into play. Around the circle is a narrative or sequence of actions or expositions. Across the circle is a set of relationships defining their possibilities of coherence. Via a systemic geometry, based on the latch (begin/end) and turn (mid-point), the left and right hemispheres, and radial as well as latitudinal oppositions, a rich set of implications can be obtained.
The enneagram shown by Gurdjieff exemplifies a type of ‘ring composition’.Ring composition is an ancient method of writing texts such that they have a synoptic structure capable of conveying meanings that cannot be expressed by linear narrative or exposition. It has been investigated by various scholars, Mary Douglas in particular. The 'turn' and 'latch' indicate possible crisis points. Both 'tuning theory' (related to music) and ring composition are to be found in ancient and classical scriptures.
Though complex, an Integrative Ring can be considered as a whole, a new type of MM called IR.
REALISE The final stage is passing from knowing to doing in that new initiatives bring the participants back into the ‘world’ but also carries with the deeper implication of self-realisation.
The five stages represent what we called the 'staircase' linking the MMs of persons with the MMs that are first written down. The stage of Realise can be associated with 'work on oneself' and every Integrate Ring can then be seen as a kind of 'school'.
Deeper Technical Features
LVT is a three-brained activity, involving thinking, feeling and moving.
The methodology of LVT is situated in John Bennett’s ideas about creative thinking, in which the usual automatic tendencies of the mind to have answers and closure are suspended to build up creative potential. That is why, as far as possible, no connecting lines or arrows are allowed to be used. The gaps represent creative potential and need to be preserved.
Also, LVT precisely relates the two poles of human thinking, which are the discrete and random and the continuous and ordered (private communication from the mathematician Francoise-Chatelin).
LVT follows Matchett’s making of meaning from the known (MMs) and the unknown (gaps) together.
The gaps between MMs are the creative potential of mutual relevance and should not be closed by 'connections' but treated as sources of new insight. Spencer Brown's Laws of Form gives a version of this idea in his treatment of what he calls the 'unmarked state'.
There are levels of meaning object ranging from the MMs of Gather to the CTs of Organise and the IRs of Integrate.
The LVT structured process is most related to will.
In terms of the systems of systematics, the stages Focus and Gather centre on the Monad, the stage Organise on the Triad, and the stage Integrate on the Heptad. In terms of LVT, the systems appear in the range between Organise and Integrate and LVT is a more general method than systematics.
ArchivalMaterial on systematics is to be found at www.systematics.org and on structural communication at www.structuralcommunication.org.
Commercial and educational applications of LVT at www.logovisual.com
Bennett, John: Creative Thinking, Bennett Books, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Best, Brin, Blake, Anthony & Varney, John: Making Meaning, Chris Kingston Publishing
Blake, Anthony: Circles and Molecules, DuVersity Publications
Blake, Anthony: Globalization, a Case Study in Systematics, DuVersity Publications
Blake, Anthony & Varney, John: Making Sense: A guide to LogoVisual Thinking, CMC
Bohm, David: Thought as a System, Routledge, London
Bohm, David: Soma-Psyche: A New Notion of the Relationship between the Physical and the Mental http://www.goertzel.org/dynapsyc/1995/bohm.html
Douglas, Mary: Thinking in Circles, Yale
Foulkes, W.: see http://www.groupintervisual.net/hosting/ga-special-issue/papers/angela.htm
Gendlin, Eugene: Thinking at the Edge, http://www.focusing.org/tae-intro.html
Gurdjieff, George: Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, Dutton, New York
Matchett, Edward: Journeys of Nothing in the Land of Everything, Matchett Foundation
Spencer Brown, George: Laws of Form, Allen and Unwin, London (see also http://www.lawsofform.org/lof.html)