Fractal cognition seems to be the basis of everything I know about performance optimization. In this post, I’ll explain where this idea comes from and why I firmly believe in it.
“Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.” Wrote Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractal geometry as we know it.
“He was able to see and describe the true roughness of the world.”
Wrote Ralph Gomory in an article about Mandelbrot’s life and work, published in Nature on 17th November 2010, following his death.
“Mandelbrot’s goal, like his background, was different. He wanted to find order where everyone else saw a lawless mess. He wanted to learn about real, concrete complex problems.” Says Gomory.
Cognition is a “real, concrete, complex problem,” a fascinating one. I propose it is fractal in nature.
The personal scholarly history of Mandelbrot is in itself a great example. His innovative research in fractal geometry demonstrates the complexity of cognitive development.
It implies that cognitive development in the individual depends on many factors inside and outside of us. It seems to be an individual process, different from one person to another.
This leads me to the next point.
My point is that cognition is a rough natural element. It has many dimensions and a complexity that defies accurate measurements at this point in cognitive research.
Furthermore, I believe any comprehensive study on cognition should consider the fractal nature of its development in nature, as pointed at by James A. Shapiro.
“All living cells sense and respond to changes in external or internal conditions. Without that cognitive capacity, they could not obtain nutrition essential for growth, survive inevitable ecological changes, or correct accidents in the complex processes of reproduction.
Wherever examined, even the smallest living cells (prokaryotes) display sophisticated regulatory networks establishing appropriate adaptations to stress conditions that maximize the probability of survival.
Supposedly “simple” prokaryotic organisms also display remarkable capabilities for intercellular signaling and multicellular coordination. These observations indicate that all living cells are cognitive.”
James A. Shapiro, All living Cells are Cognitive, Biochemical and Biophysical research communications, vol, 564, 2021, pages 134-149, ISSN 0006-291X.
From cells to more complex living organisms (human bodies, for example), to ecosystems, social systems, planets, and the universe, cognition, looked at from a close distance in a microscope or at a distance with telescopes, has similar patterns, and is a fractal phenomenon of nature.
This is important for the research of optimal performance I occasionally describe in this blog. It’s fascinating. It speaks to the individual cognitive development of your cells, responding to stimuli you give them to improve your optimal performance for the work you need to do.
In other words, how your body’s cells interpret and react to inputs you give them determines their reaction and function to optimize your performance.
If your performance and energy management are important to you, you must understand that the cells in your body, including your brain, react directly to how you treat them.
Like educating children, you can educate the cells in your body and get them to an optimized level of performance that best serves the creative work you do in the world.
In circus arts, this is extremely obvious. The condition of your body and mental state directly influence your ability to perform well.
I suggest it is the same for all of us doing creative work in front of audiences, even online.
Do you agree?
Let me know in the comments below.