Triangulation: or, why the moderate isn’t moderate.

I was reading an article by Thomas Frank in today’s Guardian: “How the democrats could win again, if they wanted” in the course of which he used a term unfamiliar to me in the context of political ideology: “triangulation”. It piqued my curiousity, given what we’ve been exploring about the tripartite logic of the mental-rational consciousness structure, expressed as dialectic, the pyramid of perception and the point-of-view consciousness structure. That is to say, that the ratio of rationality is a ratio of the three spaces — length, width, depth. Franks was asserting, largely, that the Democrats lost the election in the United States because of their penchant for “triangulation”. It was, for me, one of those Aha! moments, since this is exactly what I’ve denounced as “Third Way” politics of the kind practiced by Tony Blair and “New Labour” in the UK and which is passed off these days as “moderate” or “centrist”, but which is, in fact, elitist in those terms.

Triangulation is exactly “perspectivist consciousness” and there are a number of contexts in which the term is used: surveying, science, psychology, and politics.  “Triangulation” is also a descriptive feature of narcissism and of the narcissistic personality. Triangulation is the very meaning of this symbol of the Enlightenment,

annuit coeptisAnd also of Blake’s mad Zoa, Urizen, called “Ancient of Days”

Urizen -- Architect of the Ulro, "Ancient of Days"

Urizen — Architect of the Ulro, “Ancient of Days”

Both are images of the “perspectival eye” of the Renaissance and Leonardo, and in those terms “triangulation” is its ratio or modus operandi. So triangulation in these various contexts is a beautiful illustration of the logic of that structure in everyday life. The apex of the triangle is the “point-of-view” consciousness, and in those terms it will be seen why calling this point “moderate” or “centrist” is delusional. Terms like “moderate” or “centrist” are truer only of the mandala form, not the pyramidal or triangular geometries of thinking.

Triangulation can take the form of “divide and conquer” or “playing to both sides of the house”, as they say. And when we appreciate the meaning of “triangulation” in this context, we can appreciate why “moderation” isn’t particularly relevant in its terms in a four-dimensional cosmos. The “centre” of the fourfold is not the apex of the pyramid.

Rosenstock-Huessy's "cross of reality"

Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality”


Mandala: the fourfold vision

Mandala: the fourfold vision


Oscillating Microbubble: Strange Attractor

Oscillating Microbubble: Strange Attractor


William Blake -- the Fourfold Vision

William Blake — the Fourfold Vision


Sacred Hoop /Medicine Wheel

Sacred Hoop /Medicine Wheel

Jung's four psychological functions

Holling's Adaptive Cycle

Holling’s Adaptive Cycle

As you can appreciate, a very different sense of the moderate and the measured and proportionate – a different ratio — is associated with the quadrilateral or fourfold logic. “Triangulation” isn’t precluded in this paradigm, but it is made subordinate to the “big picture view”, as we say — the holistic. And in these terms, I think becomes quite apparent why today’s rhetoric of “moderate” and “centrist” isn’t moderate or centrist, as long as it relies on this process of “triangulation” rather than the mandala form of thinking, which is integralist. This difference becomes particularly important in interpreting Gebser’s own re-interpretation of “moderation” in terms of “measure and mass”.

I think you can learn quite a bit about the deficiencies, limitations, and constraints of the mental-rational consciousness structure (or perspectivist logic) by contemplating this issue of “triangulation” in the various cultural contexts in which it is presently used and described. This “triangulation” is pretty much the “common sense” of that structure of consciousness. Yet it is not an authentic universal compared to the cruciform structure, which IS a universal in the sense that in one way or another, it is found as a symbolic form in all cultures.

As you might appreciate, it would not take very much at all for the triadic structure to morph into the mandala structure, and no “information” would be lost in that process because the triadic is included as one of the four quadrants of the mandala. It would simply be integrated into the “overview”. This is what Gebser refers to as a “plus mutation” of a consciousness structure, and in the case of the mandala, instead of “single vision & Newtons sleep” you now have “the fourfold vision” as Blake put it. The triangulation is only a specialisation of one aspect of the mandala which then presumes to be itself the whole of it.


5 responses to “Triangulation: or, why the moderate isn’t moderate.”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    Given the nature of this “triangulation”, it becomes somewhat clearer what we mean by speaking of “intellectual acrobatics” or “rationalisation” — the attempt to triangulate an emergent reality (or emergent truth, or “return of the repressed”) that isn’t triangular, but spherical, as it were. the result is distortion. It is in this sense that “post-truth society” (or Age of Bullshit, as it was previously called) can be appreciated as a restructuration, and in those terms also “chaotic”.

  2. abdulmonem says :

    As there is malignant triangulation ,there is benign triangulation. It is the intention behind the expression, theoretical or practical. it is also where we place our attention and since we have placed all our attention on the language of economics we are reaping the fruits of greed and the governance of the kleptocracy. We no longer think there are divine rules and even the so called the laws of nature we stipulated away from the creator of nature,we violate and work against as it is well illustrated by so many interdisciplinary thinkers , who warn against the linear perspective vision, as it is well-demonstrated by this post and so many other posts by our integral,holistic visionary who deserves all our respect for his endeavour.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    Interesting and disturbing article by George Monbiot in today’s Guardian about Trump’s team

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: