Principles and dichotomies

© 2002 Paul Cooijmans


The vrille

In the early days of aviation, many pilots lost their lives in a vrille; a corkscrew-like dive from which it appeared impossible to escape. Until one pilot tried to steer along with the corkscrew, rather than against it, as if to make the turn even tighter; thus he got out.


To fully (and more) satisfy a need, even to the point where side-effects - clipping - start to occur.


To monitor and analyze the effect of an action and use that information for optimization in future instances of that action.


To use a counteracting force to regulate the effect of an action. Often this force is controlled via feedback.


To use various stimuli associated with a particular entity to evoke that entity. Often used in magic. The more senses are addressed, the greater the effect.


To evoke an entity in an object or individual by expressing the corresponding entity in oneself.

Economy/cleaning up

To use as little material as possible in storage, communication and execution, to maximize meaning per unit. A universal principle in fields like writing, composing, programming etcetera.

Avoiding habituation/inflation

To counteract the inclination to consume ever more of particular stimuli by always taking less than apparently needed, or nothing at all.


If the parts of a whole are each brilliant in their own right, no other binding principle or technique is needed. An overlooked form type in art, where often the dogmatic terror of uniformity as a binding principle rules.


If the parts of a whole each contain the full information, one can know the whole by looking at one part.


A wider window gives better understanding of a passing landscape, even though one sees the same as with a narrower one.

Crack up

To disintegrate under stress. To avoid it, reduce the stress, reinforce the weak areas where cracks might occur, or both.


To combine entities in such a way the result is "more than the sum of parts". Involves interaction between the entities, such as shared elements. When elements are shared between entities, then on the level of entities there is more than the simple sum of their elements.

Borderline cases do not invalidate a distinction

The existence of borderline cases should not be an excuse to not make the distinction at all; for instance, the existence of hermaphrodites, transsexuals and the like in no way implies that males and females do not exist, or that it is useless to make that distinction.

Psychosis causes degeneration

Living in discrepancy with reality - having delusions and/or hallucinations - goes with slow but sure degeneration of the brain and mind. This works on the individual level as well as on the level of societies; for instance, a population under the rule of a system based on a delusional doctrine (like Marxism) degenerates as a result of the dysgenic effect of that rule, seeing its intelligence lowered by several I.Q. points per generation.

Stimuli below the pain threshold raise that threshold, stimuli above the threshold lower it

"What does not kill you makes you stronger" is not true; rather, the more one suffers, the less one can bear. Only stimuli just below the pain threshold raise that threshold (make stronger), while stimuli above the threshold (suffering) push the threshold down, and therefore weaken one, make one oversensitive.


Hardware versus Software Programming

If a number of tasks are to be performed, hardware programming is to put the physical objects needed in those tasks in one's way in their required order, such that one will be reminded of the tasks when they are to be performed. This relieves stress on the memory, does not require administrative work and saves time. It is not a very flexible system though.

Software programming is to notate tasks to be performed in a diary or planner, or simply memorize them. This system is flexible; it is easy to make changes. It tends to work slower than hardware programming though, requires administrative work and strains the memory.

In general, recurring tasks that stay unchanged for a longer period are better programmed hardware-wise, while incidental or irregular tasks requiring flexibility are better programmed software-wise.

Linear versus parallel

To process information or tasks by one unit at a time, in alphabetical, chronological or whatever order is the linear mode. Reading a book from beginning to end. An A to Z index, or A to Z encyclopaedia. The linear method offers the greatest likelihood of reaching a goal and is the least likely to produce errors. It is sometimes slow though.

Parallel is for instance a thematic index, which usually has a tree structure. This provides short search paths, provided you choose the right path. Hypertext is parallel. The parallel method requires more thinking and use of memory, and often produces errors. It is fast though.

Rationality versus irrationality

When confronted with absurdities of life, some follow the strategy of rational analysis and explanation, while others take the path of irrationality, occultism and mysticism. The first strategy is only open to persons of very high intelligence, while the second occurs at any intelligence level.

Mass production versus craftsmanship

Do you first put on both socks, then both shoes, then lace the shoes? Or finish one foot off completely before going to the other foot? The eternal dilemma. The first method is faster and provides greater consistency, the latter is better for higher-level craftsmanship when only quality counts. This is related to Linear versus Parallel.

Cut versus uncut

Uncut diamonds are often more beautiful than cut diamonds. Yet they are less practical in use and more likely to pick up dirt and get damaged or cause damage. Similar with paint; unpainted wood often looks better than painted wood, but is more vulnerable and less usable. Primer often looks better than the finishing paint layer. The process of finishing things off to make them ready for use often takes away the raw beauty.

Guided versus free

The land speed record for vehicles on a rail (guided) is well over 10 000 km/h. The record for freely moving vehicles ("cars") is only just over the speed of sound, so about nine times slower. However, to explore new areas, only freely moving vehicles would be suitable. For there are no rails in unexplored terrain.

Similarly, studying to develop yourself in an existing field of expertise following an established method of education is fast; exploring new fields or expanding the boundaries of old ones goes much slower for there are no methods or teachers to guide you.