last updated June 4th, 2005 and is permanently morphing...
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chaos, in science, field of study devoted to processes that exhibit complex, apparently random behavior, such as cloud formation or fluctuations of biological populations. Attempts to predict the behavior of these systems led to the development of an interdisciplinary science, NONLINEAR DYNAMICS.
chaos (kâ´òs´) noun
1. A condition or place of great disorder or confusion.
2. A disorderly mass; a jumble: The desk was a chaos of papers and unopened letters.
3. Often Chaos. The disordered state of unformed matter and infinite space supposed in some cosmogonic views to have existed before the ordered universe.
4. Obsolete. An abyss; a chasm.
[Middle English, formless primordial space, from Latin, from Greek khaos.]
- chaot´ic (-òt´îk) adjective
- chaot´ically adverb
Chaos (kâ´òs´), in Greek mythology, the vacant, unfathomable space from which everything arose. In the OLYMPIAN myth GAEA sprang from Chaos and became the mother of all things.
"Freedom is just Chaos, with better lighting."
- Alan Dean Foster, "To the Vanishing Point":
"A chao (pronounced "cow") is a single unit of chaos...therefore, chaoboys and chaogirls wear designer genes of future myths..." excerpted from THE 23 ERISIAN MYSTERIES.
"Babylonians, Egyptians, and Greeks all acknowledged the primal dragon of Chaos even as the gods of their civilizations felt compelled to tame and organize the beast. Christianity tried to erase the goddess altogether. That is why the Church decided that God created the world ex nihilo, from nothing at all. But you can still smell the briny spew of the primal goddess in the formless, watery void that opens Genesis -- a distinct echo of the older Babylonian myth.
"The dragon of Chaos wore
a far more honorable face in the East, where it was known as the Tao.
For ancient sages like Chuang-Tzu, the subtle
order of natural chaos was rich and bountiful compared to the bankrupt
legalism and moralistic strictures of Confucian civilization -- which
paradoxically produced the very disorder it wanted to suppress. The
Taoists felt that only by tearing down the State of things -- including
ordinary consciousness -- could we return to the
golden age, the mixed-up harmony symbolized by the wonton (which derives
from Mr. Hun-tun, Chuang-Tzu's lord of chaos). If these anarchic dreams
could not be realized in society -- as Lao Tzu hoped to do -- then at
least they could be realized in the body, through spiritual and physical
practices which would open up the spontaneous chaos within. "
- Erik Davis - _Spiritual Chaos?_
Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.
Henry B. Adams (1838-1918), U.S. historian. The Education of Henry Adams, ch. 16 (1907).
To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is
the task of the artist now.
Samuel Beckett (1906-89), Irish dramatist, novelist. Conversation with John Driver, 1961. Quoted in: Deirdre Bair, Samuel Beckett, a Biography, ch. 21 (1978).
In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a
Carl Jung (1875-1961), Swiss psychiatrist. Collected Works, vol. 9, "Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious," pt. 1 (1959; ed. by William McGuire).
There is nothing stable in the world; uproar's your
John Keats (1795-1821), English poet. Letter, 13-19 Jan. 1818, to his brothers George and Thomas Keats (published in Letters of John Keats, no. 37, ed. by Frederick Page, 1954).
Chaos is a name for any order that produces
confusion in our minds.
George Santayana (1863-1952), U.S. philosopher, poet. Dominations and Powers, bk. 1, pt. 1, ch. 1 (1951).
"Chaos is present everywhere in countless ways
and forms, while Order remains an unattainable ideal."
M.C. Escher, 29 December 1947
Feedback is all around us. Some philosophers and scientists believe that consciousness itself is nothing but feedback; it's the brain thinking about the brain. Thinking about thinking creates feedback, and that may have been one of the sparks of human consciousness. That is what is so interesting about seeing a smaller example of a feedback system and be able to, when you look at one of these patterns, to see everything from hurricanes to swastikas, and all kinds of things in between. Some mathematicians to this day, even with chaos theory and nonlinear dynamics, say "How can such complex behavior arise from such a simple system?" These systems also have meaning in the physical world. What we have in video feedback is an incredibly simple system that is deterministic in design yet we get incredibly complex output from the system, even if there's no human intervention. When everyone thinks of fractals they think of a digital environment, and here is this totally analog environment which I never understood before producing beautiful, self- referential images.
"Everything is sentient." - Pythagoras.
A "failure of logic" in a "paranoid democracy",
ghost in the machine? Sentient Electronics? As technology develops
also our dependence on that system increases, even fault tolerant
computers are vulnerable to overload, no standards have as yet been
developed, "software is not predictable". The nine hour breakdown
of AT&T's long distance telephonenetwork in New York dramatizes the
vulnerability of complex computer systems everywhere and that chaos is
evident in all systems. Chaos breaks across the line that
separates scientific disciplines because it is a science of the global
nature of systems. Science was heading for a crisis of increasing
specialization, dramatically that specialization has reversed because of
terms of their constituent parts, quarks, chromosomes
or neurons, chaos is looking at the whole. We have to look at
chaos. Norbert Wiener, father of cybernetics,
defined information as "essentially a negative
entropy". In modern communication theory entropy is equated with
noise which causes a waste of information. According to the second
law of thermodynamics "the general direction of physical events is
towards decrease of order and organization". Schrodinger
was led to postulate the existence of an ego which ultimately "controls
the motion of the atoms". Whatever the theory, something unseen
and as yet unkonwn is at work behind the mechanisms of the world and the
universe. From the beginning of consciousness man has been all too
aware of the existence of some mysterious force, and we can see
this most obviously reflected in his spirituality.
- from the liner notes for the track _NYC Overload_ MP3 by Clock DVA off of _Man-Amplified_ CD on Contempo (1992)
In the beginning, according to the Pelasgian mythmakers, there was chaos, which is where most creation stories originate. To the Pelasgians, however, chaos was not just a great cloud of nothingmess. Rather, it was dynamic region that contained tremendous potential- a place of great energy but no differentiations to define things as separate or individual. There were, in short, no dualities. The grand scheme of creation, in this view, was to impose order on a limitless kernel of possibility. This idea was passed down through the centuries and has become part and parcel of our very definition of the universe. 'cosmos' is the Greek word for 'order.'
_Aimless Wandering: Chuang Tzu's Chaos Linguistics_ by Hakim Bey from Fringeware Review 10:12
I Ching symbol for chaos
The 23rd hexagram of the I-Ching signifies chaos, Disintegration.
"One must have chaos within oneself if one is to be a dancing star."
- Friedrich Nietzsche
"our categories: authors, chaos vs. superstring, and rubadub..."
- What Do Kids Know? game show host in film
_Magnolia_ (1999) directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
The Chaos Experience - a layman's guide to chaos