Some Thoughts on Complexity

I want to say that complexity is an emergent — and, as such, unfixed — multiplicity that is not a chaos. Complexity is always on the cusp of order.

The univocal cannot be complex. However, one note or one tone that endured just so and reverberated just so might be complex in that it forges multiplicity in its singular wake.

As necessarily a multiplicity, complexity entails a quantification — not one voice but many voices.

But this "many" is not really a more as much as it's a differentiation (or is it differenciation? Tell me, all you mathematicians).

Complexity is a quality — the quality of multiple trajectories that don't unify or stay fixed and yet is not a chaos.

Complexity is not complicated. Nor is it convoluted.

This post, however, may be.


V said...

It still surprises me that you never really took to Go, which is as controlled and (literally) hands-on an opportunity to contemplate the nature of complexity as I've come across. Which reminds me of an interview I read once with a Go playing, Nobel-nominated Japanese chemist, who said that perhaps both chemistry and Go had some deep order amidst their complexity but that it shouldn't be discovered because it was almost certainly not "elegant." I loved that imposition of an aesthetic limit on intellectual curiosity.

But explain what you mean by "Complexity is not complicated. Nor is it convoluted." Are you saying that complexity itself -- as a quality separate and apart from the thing that is complex -- is not complicated?

Daniel Coffeen said...

I did take to Go — only conceptually, not practically. Conceptually and figuratively, Go has been quite prominent: the cooperative building of an environment, the emphasis on shape, the order amid the seeming chaos. It even makes an appearance here: http://www.tate.org.uk/intermediaart/entry15539.shtm

What I mean is that, yes, complexity is not complicated. That complication may be as much an effect of simplicity as complexity. That complexity is a distinct qualitative state that is not, per se, complicated or convoluted: it is. Or, rather, it goes like this: it becomes.

Complication seems like a matter of explication, not a matter of complex being.