Participatory Inquiry, episode 4: At Home

John Kellden
4 min readMar 21, 2017


“In transition, conversations that mind and matter.”

In which we learn how The Waste Land is related to Guns, Germs & Steel.

Conversations that mind and matter — it’s a thing
A thing can be a group of people gathering together in efforts to make a difference that makes a lasting difference. The conversations can include building a shared and shareable understanding of a patterning that re-aligns.

- Re-aligns with what?
- Ecologies of minds.

In order to achieve this difference, we use information, which invariably invokes mind.

- that which is able to resist purpose and keep purpose from dissecting a seamless universe
- the embodiment and incarnation of metaphor
- mostly not conscious
- that which accomplishes learning
- comparing things, experiences and patterns and finding them more or less related
- that which compares an experience of a present seeing to a memory of what has been seen in the past
- playing by making working relations

“So books are real to me, too; they link me not just with other minds but with the vision of other minds, what those minds understand and see. I see their worlds as well as I see my own.”
― Philip K. Dick

Matter: Pattern Anatomy
Each well-intentioned, well-designed pattern, includes:
- context (mutuality, learning)
- problem space (behavior, attention, will, performance)
- forces & building blocks (ecosystemics, cultural and social dynamics, TIMN)
- maps, models, theories (this is a common problem, our near default reduction and representation, remaining stuck inside our obsolete favorite worldviews, our own umwelten)
- solution spaces (conversation)
- play (participation, sensemaking, meaningmaking, decisionmaking)
- story (synthesis, selfhood, service)

Patterns, pattern languages and generative sequences can be fieldtested and used to design processes and build things. The word thing is often important to understand, including how it is different than object.

If we pause the catgifs for a brief spell, if we right in the middle and muddle of our abundance of content, take a moment to look at and see

Participatory Inquiry as a pattern
We can use the above pattern anatomy to better understand it by considering all seven characteristics, including how to engage in conversations that mind and matter, out of which a discourse co-evolving (feedback loops) with our participatory inquiry, towards an ongoing rediscovering how a noun is like a leaf.

Story: We Made It? What Happened? We Happened

- Oh, God, we’re all going to die, aren’t we?
- Well, we might, but every day until we do, we’re going to live.

The story I’ve chosen to highlight here and the comparison of historical patterns, takes place over rather a long time.

In 1922, there were three works of art, three books that can be argued, have been influential in various ways:
- Duino Elegies, Rainer Maria Rilke
- Ulysses, James Joyce
- The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot
In 1933, there was a beginning recovery from the great depression.
In 1945, the ending of the second world war.

In 1997, there were three works of art, three books that can be argued, have made their mark in our cultures and societies:
- The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
- Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Jared Diamond
In 2008, there was a reboot of the financial system.
In 2020, the ending of, well, we don’t know that yet.

What patterns do you see?
The important thing here, is not to determine whether the above story and pattern comparison can be validated, but to realize that we are increasingly able to form and compare these and many other patterns, learn from such patterning — and drawing forth new lines (to take a leaf from Paul Klee).

Now and then, throughout history there’s been brave people, explorers, entrepreneurs, innovators, visionaries, cyberneticians, making bold predictions and prophesies, some which turned out to be true, some which didn’t.

Access, Attract, Achieve
With the advent of the web and web search, with an increasing wealth of information available, we are living through a moment in history with unprecedented access.

A difference that makes a lasting difference
We are at a place where a whole lot of people, including ordinary people from all walks of life can share stories towards finding new, slightly different questions out of which an exploring of different lines of inquiry.

Are We At Home?
Are we at home in the middle and muddle of all this information? What conversations are we engaging in? What stories are we sharing — towards rediscovering what mind, what patterning?

Participatory Inquiry, episode 4: At Home

Alva Pratt



John Kellden

Cards catalyzing stories, Conversations that mind and matter, Digital communities and collaborative narratives