Peace map – phase 2

Opening conclusion:

I write this for those readers who are not that interested in the process I am describing but just want to hear my “conclusions”. Well, since conclusions, as the word indicates, mean closing, they are no favorites of mine. Enough doors, windows and minds are closed on Earth, we don’t need any more.

However, here is a kind of “abstract” of this text:

Peace is possibly not the opposite of war. War is both destructive and creative (during and in the wake of war, industry, innovation and creativity – if only of the killing kind – flowers). Peace is often neither destructive nor creative, more like a Ferdinand the Bull kind of stasis.

If we take peace to mean a kind of stasis (which many people seem to do) then, yes, that can be an opposite of war. If we however think of peace in a much more dynamic (“Venusian”) sense, peace becomes more like a middle stage, a harmonizing mean between extremes.

Thinking along these lines “peace” can be viewed through the filter of diverse models: The Eastern triune models of Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva) and Tridosha (Sattva, Rajas, Tamas) but also meteorologically, i.e. as the harmonizing role of mid-latitude areas between the extremes of tropic and polar weather.

Rather exciting perspectives, if I may say so.

I have not worked on my peace map for a while, and sometimes non-thinking is the best way of thinking. When I ponder the map anew things have started to move.

Very broadly speaking my older map had war on the left side and peace on the right. You could call them black and white.

WAR>>>>> (grey)>>>>>>> CENTER >>>>>(grey)>>>>>>>> PEACE

In between you had a large, very important and neglected grey area, which is neither pure war nor peace. Here you find un-war, non-peace, war seeds, etc.

The grey area very much concerns the war that does not look like war, but which nevertheless is an important close relative to it. Music and the concepts of harmony-disharmony, consonance-dissonance, also enter the map.

But now I start to question some of my premises. For example the very obvious pair of opposites war-peace. Is peace really the opposite of war? (And let us not forget that there is peace and peace. Country music, Indian ragas and techno are all music, and all very different.)

Should peace and war be at the extremes of the map? Is peace somehow extreme…?

More and more I see peace in the very middle of the map.

War is still furthest to the left, but what should be in the right corner? Another, different extreme. Let’s call it stasis (inactivity, suspension, stagnation). Peace in the middle position then becomes a harmonious mix of action and stasis.

WAR>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>VENUSIAN PEACE<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<STASIS

In the corners we have two kinds of disharmony: too much antagonism and too much conformism. I believe this is an important revision of my former model. Let’s call it Rev. 2.0 of peace in progress.

One imperfection of the former map was this:

In the middle — just to the right of center AGON — came what I call mirroring/ tuning / conformism, which is rather obviously something negative. Here individuality is lost and one blends into the mass, many examples are found in memetic aping of viral ideas and phrases. This is clearly unbalanced.

So we have a imbalance to the left (War) and an imbalance in the middle (mirroring). And then balance to the right…?

That sounds unbalanced. Better of course to have balance in the middle.

WAR >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> BALANCE <<<<<<<<<<<<STASIS

Other aspects of the “elephant”.

I am inspired to look at the peace-war dichotomy (if dichotomy it is) through the lens of the Indian model of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (trimurti) and Sattva, Rajas, Tamas (tridosha).

Keep the elephant-mode in mind: I don’t expect any of my models to mirror reality in full, but I do try to find models that capture an angle of the elephant well. In short, different models complement each other, plus it is good for man to be mobile and not get stuck in one viewpoint, ride just one hobby-horse.

I have also opened the door to a slightly unpalatable thought, namely that war creates jobs, opportunities and progress in many ways. I doesn’t only kill (Shiva) but also creates (Brahma). It allows new life to bloom by killing off the old, like removing weeds in gardening.

If war kills but also creates and allows new life, what then does peace do?


That question has a strange tinge to it, not least because we are working with such a poor concept of peace; vague, idealist on the verge of naive, dealing very much with absences, what is NOT  (weapons), what does NOT happen (poverty, killing, oppression, etc.)

This prosaic, negative kind of peace — reminiscent of FTB (Ferdinand the Bull) who sat all day long under the cork tree and smelled the flowers —  is in itself a peace problem: We don’t aim high enough, at a good enough kind of peace. It’s like talking about how fantastic and wonderful music is, and only listening to dixieland or recipe-based hit songs.

So let’s aim at a peace that is really balanced.

Remember, Venus  and Libra (The scales) are all about balance and harmony. And balance means at least two components. Let’s talk music and call them consonance and dissonance.

Consonance in a broad sense means that things melt together easily, there is no or hardly no resistance, the process is streamlined, it’s like curling with no friction. Taste: sweet. Language: euphonious words and concepts that go with the grain.

Dissonance means friction. Here there is resistance, maybe even aversion. Things don’t flow easily. The taste is sour, salty or bitter; the words foreign and brush us the “wrong” way, against the grain.

The second category sounds less attractive than the first, but that’s in large part because we as a culture are weakened, spoiled, eat to much sweets. In the restaurant and gastronomy we understand the need for spices; too little salt is almost as bad as too much.

We also well understand the need for dissonance in sports. If contestants tried to please their opponents, the audience would cry BOO! and protest. In sports we want opposition, challenge, even harshness. AGON, to use that old word.

Consonance alone is bland and boring, at least after a while. It is unbalanced by itself.

The second component, dissonance, is harsh and violent. It lacks calm, rest, and the familiarity of safe boredom. It is also unbalanced by itself.

Consonance and dissonance in a good proportion however is the peace doctor’s orders. It satisfies hunger on many levels. Action and stasis combine to create HARMONY.

So far harmony. How then should we think about disharmony? Let me suggest: either as a poor relationship between action and stasis, or overdose of either.

Woolly conformism, people mouthing the same dusty cliches over and over is disharmonious, even though consonant. It may not be unpleasant however; it is a kind of disharmony that is easily accepted.

Dissonant violence is accepted in certain strict forms (sports, for example) but is otherwise looked down upon. At least in theory. In practice we have diverse forms of entertainment and punishment that entails violence, plus our (un)justified wars where young men are ordered to kill other young men for the greater glory of national, religious or business interests.

The terrain (the elephant) is not simple and unequivocal; much depends on where and from which height we observe things.

There is for example a strong peace-element in war, namely within an army. In the unit of an army you want total, mutual harmony between the parts, military language must be precise and correct, etc. Nevertheless the final aim might still just be plunder, reputation augmentation and national chauvinism.

What then is the war element in peace? One could of course say demonstrations that turn violent. Personally I think the dynamic, active (war) element in peace is too small. That is a great weakness of our current Ferdinand the Bull-model. FTB-peace is too passive, negative, sentimental, consonant, too hung up on tired catchwords that are so dusty that they make us sneeze.

Gesundheit! Peace comes from within…

Oh, yeah? Never heard that one before.

So my current suspicion in this peace mapping in progress is that the opposite of war is not peace but stasis / stagnation / bland consonance.

But stop a second! That — stasis / stagnation / bland consonance — is very close to how many people, pros and laymen, see peace! As a kind of huge relaxation. War is over; fighting is over; let’s put down our weapons and relax, enjoy ourselves, let our hair down, watch more TV, do more Facebook and computer games, turn obese.

That’s not my Utopia. My Utopia consists of an improved, upgraded kind of peace. Venusian peace, in contrast to the Ferdinand the Bull-variety, is not the opposite of war. Balanced peace should embrace opposites, not BE an opposite.

Or rather, if peace equals harmony then its opposite is disharmony, which is something else than mere dissonance.

As you can hear, this is an invitation to immerse ourselves in musical thinking. That should be a very good peace investment.

One final angle of the peace-elephant.

As far as I understand, in meteorology one divides the Earth into three broad horizontal (latitudinal) regions. The outer, cold polar regions and the inner hot tropic region seem like extreme phases of Yin and Yang.

But between the hot tropic and cold polar regions we find the mid-latitude regions, which have a tempering, harmonizing effect. They serve as a bridge between extremes which, without this go-between, would be too different from each other [as war vs. stasis], too incomprehensible to each other [as boxer vs. bookworm].

Is peace perhaps a mid-latitude thing?

Of course as a musician I come to think of a Harmonilehre, the art of gracefully dissolving dissonances but also of adding enough dissonance so that music doesn’t turn into a sleeping pill.

More anon.

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