04-23-2014 | Psychological Geography

From "Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information," Manuel Lima pg. 75

Psychologist Jacob Moreno was born in 1889 in the city of Bucharest, Romania, and spent most of this youth and early career in Vienna, Austria, where he graduated with a medical degree in 1917. While studying at the University of Vienna, Moreno attended Sigmund Freud's lectures and became and early challenger of his theories. While Freud favored meeting people individually in the artificial setting of his office, Moreno believed in the power of group settings for therapy, which could only be accurately conducted in their natural environment -- the street, the park, the community. The latter also opposed the emphasis on the unconscious mind: "Moreno was more interested in the conscious process, the here and now, the creativity of the person, than the unconscious process, the past and the resistance of the 'patient,'" writes Moreno's biographer Rene Marineau.

In order to further pursue his ongoing research on his theory of interpersonal relations, Moreno moved to New York City at the age of thirty-six. The following years saw Moreno become increasingly motivated by the prospect of visually representing social structures, and seven years after his arrival in the United States, at a convention of medical scholars, Moreno presented one of his most famous creations: the sociogram. Moreno's sociogram introduced a graphic representation of the social ties between a group of boys and girls from one elementary school, marking the beginning of sociometry, which later came to be known as social network analysis -- a field of sociology dealing with the mapping and measuring of relationships between people (e.g. kinship, friendship, common interests, financial exchange, sexual relationships). The idea of a measurable sociogram became a decisive turning point in the quantitative evaluation of an individual's role in a community, but it also demonstrated, for the very first time, the enticing power of network visualization.


A year later Moreno expanded many of his initial ideas in what came to be known as the paramount work on sociometry, Who Shall Survive? A New Approach to the Problem of Human Interrelations (1934). The work contains some of the earliest graphical depictions of social networks and exposes Moreno's appreciation for the power of visualization. In his discourse, Moreno explains that the sociogram is not simply a method of presentation but a "method of exploration ... It is at present the only available scheme, which makes structural analysis of a community possible."


04-20-2014 | Sunday Sermon

"Evil and World Order," William Irwin Thompson pg. 7

"At the time of Pythagoras, the Egyptian mystery schools were no longer forces of culture and civilization-building; they were probably priestly bureaucracies subsidized by the state to pass on harmless traditions by rote. The only way to preserve the purpose of the mystery school was to do something radical, radically conservative. And so Pythagoras created the secular school, the university. As civilization was moving towards entropy, he created a new form to hold old values against the flow of time.

The tragic background against which the school of Pythagoras at Crotona was figured continued, however, to its end. Many were accepted into the Pythagorean discipline, but some were rejected as morally unfit. One of the rejected students is reputed to have raised a rebellion against the influence of the school. In the conflict, the school was burnt to the ground. The Pythagoreans fled throughout Greece, but in their flight, they took the message to the Greek world. Like the seed-pod exploding in its death, the school created new lives, and one of those lives was Plato and his Academy.

Plato's Academy lasted from 385 BC to 529 AD; it became the archetype for all the universities that followed. Pythagoras's school at Crotona lasted only for twenty years. The Pythagorean tradition went underground, but like an underground spring it flowed beneath the foundations of many of the schools that came after. Iamblichus in Syria, Ficino in Florence, Copernicus in Fauenbeurg, Bruno in Nola, and Heisenberg in Munich: all identified themselves as Pythagoreans. Pythagoras may have died as an old man in exile and despair at the destruction of his life's work, but the success of his short-lived experiment rivals the success of institutions that endured for centuries."