Societal Reimagination: Win^n Inquiry

John Kellden
8 min readMay 21, 2020


In a network, assumptions, in a context of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th order cybernetics, in service to emergent, unfolding, evolving lines of increasingly win^n inquiry.

The world is changing. We feel it in the water. We listen to Gaia and her songs. We sense a newfound vibrancy in the air. Much that once was is rekindled; for some now live who remember it.

Understanding our lines of inquiry becoming more beautiful.

Old Local Cups and Cosmic Kintsukuroi

“When you really start to see things and you look at an old paper cup and you go into the nature of what it is to see, what vision is or what smell is or what touch is, you realize that that vision of the paper cup is the brilliant light of the cosmos, nothing could be brighter.”
— Alan Watts

Futures Literacy
A capability that allows you to imagine multiple futures, for different purposes and different contexts.

Loes Damhof:
We use the future to plan and to prepare, but that does not take the complexity of the universe into account.

The future doesn’t exist of course and cannot be foreseen. Our predictions and dreams are always based on assumptions.

Becoming aware of those helps us to open up for spontaneity, and… emergence. So if something does emerge through the cracks, it makes you realize, “hey, I did not see this” because I was making assumptions.

It is neither good nor bad, just a revelation of things you took for granted. You can practice this capability by imagining futures and identifying your assumptions.

But also by slowing down, acknowledging complexity as a given, and having the confidence to sit in it, swim in it, be in it.

Being in that liminal space, where there is potential for going somewhere that you hadn’t thought about.

Corona: Hi! …. You: ……

To what purposes are we turning our conversations?

“…in order to find the edge you’ve got to be very careful not to walk in circles.” — Alan Watts

Laureline Simon:
Establishing the right conditions for resilience is likely to generate not less but more determination to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and care for nature.

Yet, this regenerative resilience approach also means acknowledging that shocks will keep on emerging, and that, in response, we need to regain agency at personal level on how we prepare for and react to those shocks everyday.

This is likely to imply restoring our support systems at various scales, starting with our communities and natural environments.

This could also mean looking into the mental tools we have at our disposal to face the health risks resulting from the degeneration of the biosphere.

This is why questioning our reliance on large-scale long-term planning, while welcoming emergence, in the sense of “all that emerges”, feels critical to building resilience today.

Conversations that Mind and Matter
Conversations that mind and matter, is an invitation to a different place, an attempt at becoming increasingly aware of how our intentions, perspectives, languages, tools and practices, shape our re-aligning around centers and how our re-enactment of experienced worlds, shape us in return and shape what futures we imagine, reverse imagineer and leave as legacy, seven generations to follow.

“We got used to it so in the same way Einstein’s relativity theories, the curvature of the propagation of light that began to bother people when Einstein started talking like that, but now we’re all used to it.

In a few years it will be a matter of common sense to very many people that they are one with the universe, it’ll be so simple and then maybe if that happens we shall be in a position to handle our technology with more sense, with love instead of with hate for our environment.”
— Alan Watts

Loes Damhof:
I did know that the moments I enjoy teaching the most are when I’m talking to my students and a new insight comes to me, or something emerges from the classroom discussion that I did not prepare for. As in:

I don’t know where it’s going, or how it fits in the class but somehow it feels right.

Yes, there is confusion, there is complexity, there is not knowing but we are diving into it regardless.

The world is changing. We feel it in the water. We listen to Gaia and her songs. We sense a newfound vibrancy in the air. Much that once was is rekindled; for some now live who remember it.

In transition, a story told about a future event held in the individual hearts and collective intelligence by a growing number of small groups, story-weavers gathered around many different campfires.

You’ve found some of the others and together, you’ve made a makeshift camp in the outskirt of the village.

“…along with the other animals, the stones, the trees, and the clouds, we ourselves are characters within a huge story that is visibly unfolding all around us, participants within the vast imagination, or Dreaming, of the world.”
— David Abram

Some of your stories are about what pieces of the puzzle, what parts of the predicament, what threads to rekindle and re-weave — is yours, individually and as a group, to bring to the whole.

“The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost; for none now live who remember it.”
— Galadriel, J.R.R. Tolkien

Other stories are all about what is needed in the village.

“Sometimes, you can actually bring home something that is food, food for the human community that we can sustain ourselves on and go forward.”
— Terence McKenna

A third theme, a third part of your stories, is how to best return to the village, what gear to bring, what gear to leave behind.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is
the journey that matters, in the end.”
— Ursula K. Le Guin

Last but not least, a fourth thread running through some of your stories, is how to best provide for your group, to strike a dynamic living balance, between the needs of the few and the needs of the many.

“Intelligence is quickness to apprehend as distinct from ability, which is capacity to act wisely on the thing apprehended.”
— Alfred North Whitehead

There’s a fifth theme, not always visible, hidden in plain sight, now and then a glimpse — a golden thread.

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by yourself. It is not far. It is within reach. Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. Perhaps it is everywhere — on water and land.”
— Walt Whitman

Here, there and everywhere, people are waking up, gathering at makeshift camps, making provisions, crafting new instruments, weaving deeper resonance stories and different tunes.

“When we play a musical instrument like a violin or a cello it has a sounding box because that gives resonance to the sound and in the same way the cortex of the human brain enables us when we are happy, to know that we are happy and that gives a certain resonance to it — if you are happy and you don’t know you’re happy, there’s nobody home!

But this is the whole problem for us — several thousand years ago human beings evolved the system of self-consciousness and they knew that they knew.

It was a young man who said though it seems that I know that I know what I would like to see, is the eye that knows me when I know that I know that I know.

See? And this is the human problem — we know that we know and so we came to a point in our evolution when we didn’t guide life by just trusting our instincts, we had to think about it and had to purposely arrange, discipline and push our lives around in accordance with foresight and words and systems of symbols, accountancy, calculation and so on and then we worried.

Once you start thinking about things you worry as to whether you thought enough: did you really take all the details into consideration, was every fact properly reviewed and by Jove the more you think about it the more you realize that you really couldn’t take everything into consideration because all the variables in any human decision are incalculable, so you get anxiety.

This is the price you pay for knowing that you know, for being able to think about thinking, to feel about feeling and so you’re in this funny position — now then, do you see that this is simultaneously an advantage and a terrible disadvantage?

What has happened here is that by having a certain kind of consciousness, a certain kind of reflexive consciousness, being aware of being aware, being able to represent what goes on fundamentally in terms of a system of symbols, such as words, such as numbers, you put as it were two lives together at once: one representing the other, the symbols representing the reality, the money representing the wealth and if you don’t realize that the symbol is really secondary, it doesn’t have the same value.

Now, people go to the supermarket and they get a whole cartload of goodies and they drive it through and then the clerk fixes up the counter, this long tape comes out and he says thirty dollars please and everybody feels depressed as they they give away thirty dollars worth of paper, but they got a cartload of goodies — they don’t think about that, they think they just lost thirty dollars, but you’ve got the real wealth in the cart!

All you parted with was the paper because the paper in our system becomes more valuable than the wealth.

It represents power, potentiality, whereas the wealth, you think: Oh well, that’s just necessary you gotta eat…

I mean that’s really mixed up.

So then:

If you awaken from this illusion and you understand that black implies white, self implies other, life implies death, or, shall I say death implies life — you can feel yourself not as a stranger in the world, not as something here on probation, not as something that has arrived here by fluke, but you can begin to feel your own existence as absolutely fundamental.

What you are basically, deep deep down, far far in, is simply the fabric and structure of existence itself.”
— Alan Watts

In a network, assumptions, in a context of 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th order cybernetics, in service to emergent, unfolding, evolving lines of increasingly win^n inquiry.

Emergent, unfolding, evolving lines of increasingly win^n inquiry.



John Kellden

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