0.3 ~ Bonini’s Paradox & Useful Delusions ‡

Wherein we consider a most fascinating caveat.

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This is the first example of what might be considered an optional ‘esoteric’ lesson.* Note the symbol in the title—the double daggers ( ‡ )—as fair warning. These lessons are entirely skippable, though they are often fun to consider.

* Not to everyone’s taste. Though esoterica—like taste—is a contextual thing, influenced by exposure. What may seem esoteric to some is common knowledge to others, and vice versa. 

In this video, I share Bonini's Paradox—the notion that, as the accuracy of a complex model or concept increases, its utility decreases.

Imagine a super-duper accurate map; so accurate that covers multiple dimensions—right through the the sub-atomic level. Chances are: it wouldn’t be too handy.*

* And, given that life is in flux—and that we live within a hypercomplex interconnected system—chances are that this maps accuracy would wane with time (entropy).

Now imagine a mud map, drawn with a stick in sand, along with a few symbols to represent features in the territory. Provided the Symbols are comprehensible (and the charm of a good symbol is that: they often are) then the desired affect will manifest. Even if the map wasn’t entirely accurate—it will have served to help us find our way.

This is a handy notion to keep in mind, for much of The Ritual of Becoming is going to be inaccurate at best.


Instead, we are seeking to unravel what ‘meaningful progress’ might mean, for you, through a (somewhat mythic) developmental lens.

Meaningful progress is that which brings us closer to future relevance. And this is a fluid, nebulous and subjective notion, liable to change as our context or situation shifts. Ergo, we shall willingly embrace Useful Delusions—concepts that aren’t necessarily true (in a strict sense), but instead serve to bring us closer to relevance realisation.

There’s a trickster-like ‘Path Betwixt’ we must find here. A both/and ‘metamodern’ tension that ought be held betwixt notions of fact/fiction, romanticism/pragmatism, naïveté/knowingness, cynicism/optimism, irony/sincerity (and more).

I hope, in time, to share with you, if not the way, then: a way (or a set of ways)—which may, in turn, inspire your way. For the way reveals the way, as I like to say. Or (even better)…

“Better to operate with detachment, then; better to have a way but infuse it with a little humour; best, to have no way at all but to have instead the wit constantly to make one’s way anew from the materials at hand.” Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes This World

PS: I’m not sure if you’re familiar with David Chapman’s work but if you’d like to explore the notion of self development further—there’s an abundance of insight to be found at meaningness.com 

And also: John Vervaeke’s Awakening from the Meaning Crisis is wondrous, too.

To contemplate…

What knowledge do you have that may be considered as ‘esoteric’ by others?

Oh my. There’s so much more we could be exploring here—but this is a labyrinth to which many disappear, never to return. Instead, we gird ourselves to face into the meta-crisis.

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This a work-in-progress ‘virtual book’, meta-blog and online programme by Dr Fox. Illustrations by dangerlam. (CC BY-NC-SA)