Feeling agitated or adventurous? Enter Tornado Country to witness the fury of Spin Doctor as he analyses the ins and outs of the modern world, tears down old preconceptions, and glimpses into history with an eye on the future.

Careful Of Those Dam Categories


Consider this: from the moment we put a label on something, we gain perspective and can process it faster and more reliably, but we lose scope and understanding of the totality of its nature, at least for a while.

Categories are like containers for fluids. They bottle a stream of consciousness without ever being able to capture its flow.

Let me start from the beginning. Categories. Categories are like containers for fluids. They bottle a stream of consciousness without ever being able to capture its flow. They provide us with a temporary supply of what we seek from it, but can only capture so much of it at any given point in time. They need to be constantly replenished. They need to be changed, upgraded or redesigned according to our needs.

Meanwhile the rivers run deep, carving the human condition with their pulse and history.

Evidently something is lost in the process. From the moment we put a label or category on something, we are removing it from its life-giving, animate flow and repurposing it for a specific use, feeding off (and meddling with) the stream of consciousness.

Those of you who are thinking large scale constructs — dams, for example — yes, some theories and belief systems are so strong and all-encompassing, at least they try to be, they work like dams, gathering the flow of entire rivers of knowledge, research and data within their framework.

But the principle still stands. While these dams can be used to disseminate knowledge at will, according to our needs and understanding at any given point in time, they can’t emulate the flow of the river. They capture it only to lose its effect. The stream of consciousness is limited to a preconfigured set of uses, leading to a hotchpotch of green and dried-up lands around them.

Once again, categories are like bottles and dams. They alter the web of meaning around the ideas they encapsulate, offering us a compartmentalized series of peeks into their nature. Bottle them up too rigidly, or too drastically, with fancy designs, or at very large scales, and we risk losing the bigger picture, the entire flow, rendering ourselves stuck on what is for all practical purposes a spectacular pool of still water (and its dedicated oases).

From your swirling Spin Doctor,

Eyes open, mind sharp.

PS – In Greek, category (kategoria) also means accusation. A specific statement of deterministic nature and moral reasoning.

Something to think about.

PS 2 – Isaac Newton once said, ‘We build too many walls and not enough bridges.’

Damn right! Dams are walls. Bring on the rivers and bridges.