Fractal Rhythms in Two Spiral Ethnographies: Sustainability Spiral @ NMSU, and Spiral of Changing DSM Measures of Stress

David M. Boje

January 19 2014; last revised March 31, 2014


Fractals have been used to understand how coastlines, glaciers, and solar systems look at various distances or scaling lens (Sornette, 2006). My intended contribution follows Tonya Wakefield's (Wakefield, 2011, 2012a, 2012b; 2013a, 2013b, 2013c; Wakefield, Boje & Lane, 2013) 'new materialism' work in applying fractals to the sociology and economics of organizations. Fractals are combined with rhythm to understand how similar patterns recur in organizing and marketing in organizations of many sorts. A rhythm forms among the basic fractals, that can achieve increasing momentum, diffusing the innovation, and the marketing can go viral. In this essay I explore how the self-organizing of fractal rhythms works in two cases: the spread of a university-wide sustainability minor across the curriculum of a university, and the ways stigma of PTSD keeps soldiers and their families from obtaining needed stress management techniques. The fractal rhythm of a green leaf symbol, into the catalogue, department's marketing materials, career service's material, advising centers, and student culture are explores. In the military example, the focus is on how stigma can be analyzed as a fractal working through the Warrior Myth in ways that spreads a bullying of soldiers, along with hazing, so that treatment is not an option. Fractal rhythms are defined here as the process of progressively smaller scales of observation, bringing into view the self-organizing phenomena of spiral formation, growth, and adaptation to turbulence of the spiral's environment. A spiral is a particular kind of antenarrative. Antenarrative is defined in much prior work as a double meaning of 'ante': (1) what is happening before narrative petrification sets in, and (2) bets on the future courses of action that potentially will unfold. There are four kinds of antenarrative: linear, cyclical, spiral, and rhizomatic.


There are fractals that repeat, that are self-similar, yet not identical. The fractals are scalable, so the observer can zoom in one the goings on of pathways in a landscape. Each pathway has its fractal rhythm. When we zoom out, the level of generality makes it difficult or impossible to see the fractal rhythm in any detail. In the new materialisms, we get a sense of the materiality, and materialization of fractals


3 examples of fractal rhythms

Figure 1 - 3 Examples of Fractal Rhythms (source).

Fractal rhythms involve complex dynamics of self-organizing that are visible are various levels of analysis by zooming-in or zooming-out, and tracing the pattern changes over time. While usually studied in bloof vessels, coastlines or trees, fractal rhythm can be studied in marketing and management situations. For an example of the Mendelbot fractal zooming-in and out, see this short YouTube video.

We can study the fractal rhythm of two projects I describe in this essay: one about Sustainability of a University Curriculum, and the other Stress in recently returned veterans from overseas theatres of combat, and their families.

Fractal rhythm of spiral

Figure 2: Fractal rhythm detail of a Spiral of Momentum (source)

The fractal rhythm of the Spiral of Momentum above has fractals in the main path and in the connections to the environment.

Deleuze and Guattari (1987) write about a theory of rhythm that seems to imply a reading of Lefebvre’s work on space and rhythm. My sense of it is it has a theory of space-time, then pulls in a kind of dispositiv, a device of rhythmic expression, an interceding. I I am looking at how the transcoding (transduction process works in a study I am doing of coordinating sustainability in the curriculum at NMSU. If you think of university as Chaos, and the several sustainability tracks (minors) I am working to get on line, then what is happening is a struggle around the code-device (codes for identifying the sustainability minor, the sustainability courses, the funds for scholarship money, etc.). “Each code is in a perceptual state of transcoding or transduction” (D & G, 1987: 313). Transduction is a transfer of energy in-between two kinds of assemblages (chaos and the new assemblages of territory). The energies are “vibratory” (p. 13) and “a block of space-time constituted by the periodic repetition of the components” and such milieus are “living thing” and “and exterior milieu of materials, an interior milieu of composing elements, and composed substances” (p. 313). In my study of implementing several sustainability minors, the space-time-materaility is sorting out around the devices, the apparatus of codes, because codes mean territory, resources, payments to department budgets, student credit hours, etc.

Spiral-antenarratives are upward and dowward (double) spiral forces for fractal rhythms. Spiral-antenarratives are sequences of choices among paths that have specific or random trajectories that might have been enacted. That sequence of choices is fractal, a repetition of fractals each slightly different from the other, and together, creating a rhythm of momentum, a force of change. For example there are risks in the process of the collective decisions made at our university to enact a 'Spiral of Sustainability.' Those events are fractal.

For example, in the MATRIX,

There is a fractal rhythm there if you know what to ook for, and how to analyze it using qualitative methods. For example, count up the number of course offering within a college, and those outside a college offered in each track

Table 1: How many courses are offered inside a College out of total Sustainability Minor offerings in the University-wide Sustainability Minor?


Environmental Protection

Environmental Economics Environmental Equity TOTALS
Track 1 Arts & Sciences College






Track 2 College of Engineering






Track 3 College of Business
















Out of 24 courses offered, 18 are taught within the college (or about 71%). That means 26% of the courses cross college lines. The results of the rows suggest that Track three (College of Business) could improve strategically, by having more course listings with other colleges. I am therefore working with departments in College of Agriculture to make this happen. Results of the columns of the Matrix suggest that the Envrionnmental Equity is being taught mainly with the college, while the other domain facets of sustainability are rely more more inter-college relationships.

There are three types of Matrix reductions. Table 1 is a Numerical Redution, assiging numbers to the states of each cel. Table 1 also gives a funcational breakdown by the three Tracks. A thrid aspect is what I call 'pragmatic storytelling' in this case a critical look at strategic options for developing Track 2, and the Environmental Equity domain.

Table 2: Zooming Out to See the Viewing the Wider World (v) courses


Environmental Protection

Envionrmental Economics Environmental Equity TOTALS
Track 1 Arts & Sciences College





Track 2 College of Engineering





Track 3 College of Business











In Table 2, while zooming out, we also notice something important. Track 3 has a V-course in each of the Domains (columns). Engineering has one in first Domain, and Arts & Sciences has v courses in the last two Domains. Overall in the column totals, the V-courses are evenly divided.

Some interesting strategy conclusions follow. We can compare the enrollment results from having more or less inter-college offerings in a Track, and using V-courses as the way to build enrollment in a particular college. Within tracks we can also analyze the inter-department offerings within a College, across Colleges.

You have no doubt noticed that one College is not yet participating. We can work on that.

There are more qualitative analyses that can be done. For example, develop a table of the number or prerequisites to courses. Do some nested matrices, for example looking at the temporal dimenions. For example, you do not need another Table to figure out, there are no offerings in the Minor, the Matrix in the Freshman and Sophmore years (no 100 or 200 level courses). See and do your own count, your own Table, if you like.

It would be terrific to develop templates, pathways for several majors in each College, showing how to fit in electives, V-courses, some courses in the core that are part of the Matrix. This will make it much easier for students and advisors to plan a career path thorugh the University for all three Tracks of the Matrix.

In sum, there are three types of Qualitative Multivariate Matrix reductions. First, there is the numerical, as in the example in Table 1. Second, there is the functional, the displays by university functions (the Rows) in Tables 1 and 2. Third, there is the Pragmatic, the rule of thum, the ways of arraying the display of Matrix cells to make a point about the distributions of courses in spaces and places in the curriculum (both Tables), and the timing of courses (e.g. there are no 100 or 200 courses). This is an exmaple of what I call 'pragmatic storytelling' in this case a 'critical ontology' of the spacetimemattering of courses in the NMSU curriculum. We have also seen examples of fractal rhythms. The fractals are the courses, the leaves, the ways things repeat in a fractal way in the curriculum. And there are rhythms, pathways, tempos, momentums, and self-organizing. What else does it mean when the Track 2 is up and running on Friday, and approved by ADAC on Monday. That is fractal rhythm, at a high rate of speed, for any university.

What are Fractal Dynamic Facets?

There are five important fractal rhythm dynamical facets: 

  1. Spirals are dangerous. They do not follow the step-by-step sequence of a linear planning strategy. That can be good, or can get out of control.
  2. Spirals are more complex than linear planning strategies.  The spirals have additional dynamics that need to be understood before they can be managed.
  3. Spirals are dynamic because they are a process of collective self-organizing.
  4. Spirals become agential collective behavior, going beyond what individual agents (actors) or actants design.
  5. Spirals are fractal because similar patterns recur in the organizing and marketing of the spiral itself. That is, spirals have fractal rhythms that are social, economic, and even material.

The self-organizing aspects of the fractal rhythms occurring in the spiral formation, growth, and adaptation come into ethnographic view as scale of observation becomes more specific, more micro, and material. The problem in doing an ethnographic field study is how to do scales of observation of an ongoing pattern of diffusion.

The whole fractality of the Spiral has rhythms and connective pathways, more rhythms. Henri Lefebvre (2004) wrote a book called Rhythmanalysis (no spaces between the words rhythm and analysis in his title or text). We can use rhythmanalysis to study fractal rhythms. Lefebvre does not write about fractals. That is our own contribution. My contribution is to say fractal rhythms are created through storytelling praxis. There are sets of petrified narratives, more dynamic living stories, and antenarratives making connections between them, such as the spiral-antenarrative. There are fractal rhythms, momentum of pathways in triadic storytelling (narrative-living stories-antenarratives).

This fractality rhythmic is related, of course, to quantum storytelling, to entanglement,to superposition, to deconstruction. For example, Lets deconstruct (Boje, 2001) the discipline of 'Accounting' into 'account,' and into the and the 'counting,' in the the 'account,, and the storytelling of 'accounting,' which brings out the ethics in our resituated deconstruction of 'accounting' in its storytelling. One way to notate this is ac/count/ing.

“The quantum dis/continuity queers the very notion of differentiating. It offers much-needed rethinking of ac/counting, taking account, and accountability that isn’t derivative of some fixed notion of identity or even a fixed interval or origin. Ac/counting – a taking into account of what materializes and of what is excluded from materializing – cannot be a straight forward calculation, since it cannot be based on the assumed existence of individual entities that can be added to, subtracted from, or equated with one another….” (Barad 2011: 46).

Quantum entanglements, those superpositions, are “impossible to count. They are far more ghostly than the colloquial sense of ‘entanglement; suggests” (Barad, 2010: 251). Notice how Barad switches between 'count' in 'accounting' and the ethics of a storytelling of an 'accounting' in mattering (part of what she calls the inseperability of quantum spacetimemattering). “There is no getting away from ethics on this account of mattering” (Barad, 2010: 265).

Next, we look at two examples of fractal rhythms.

EXAMPLE # 1: Spirals of Sustainability

STORYTELLING ABOUT LEAVES /counting and /accouting

Through a kind of magic, the changes into an ethical claim to reproduce in things called 'courses' in things called curriculum of things called Universities, and so forth, a spacetimemattering. The is a simulacra, of course, yet agentially it "copies conforming to a standard" in "parodies of presence" (Lefebvre, 1992/2004: 23). The is a scrap of art, a drawing I made, that produces some kind of a rhythm, a fractal rhythm by ac/counting. This is a dialectical relation (Hegelian) that calls for other courses to alter by negation, to take up the , "substituting itself for the other" (ibid.: p. 23). The is a portrait, an imitation, a copy, a double, a facsimile, and it is "introducing a rhythm (time)" (ibid.: p. 23).

For example, Hegel's (1807) use of the word dialectic is more subtle than you might have suspected if all you learned was thesis-antithesis-synthesis, as the sequence of phases repeating in a pathway. Rather, there are two or three negations.

FIRST NEGATION: The first type of negation involves a reversal of antenarrative direction, such as into the Vanilla MBA program in 1996 under Dean Danny Arnold. Dean Arnold wanted to downsize the fuculty, increase class size, and expand the teaching load to five or six class a semester. By having a Vanilla MBA, fewer secitons would be staffed, or offered. In 1996, when I was Department Head of Management, the University strategic plan called for the elimination of one of the 20 some PH.D. programs, as part of the downsizing, and the one picked to be sacrificed was the Management Department. The plan was also to combine Marketing with Management, or to just move Management to the Agriculture College. I fell on my sword, as they say in leadership, and develop definant statistics showing Management had among the best publishing and best placement and graduation rates, so some other program became the object of sacrifice. I was negating the Vanilla MBA, the downsized MBA, and at the end of the year as department head, I was demote/promoted to faculty (depending on your standpoint). For about a week Marketing and Management were combined into one department, under the then marketing department head, and I returned to teaching my MBA classes, and a Ph.D. seminar (661, from time to time). Prior to Dean Arnold's strategic plan, and the University Strategic Plan, the MBA program had many different electives, offered by each department. In the undergraduate curriculum I did environmental sustainability lectures in a freshman course. I also developed an accounting evenironmental course in Mexico enterprises, and an environmental audit test (still get royalties for that).

Perhaps there were these little fragmented green teaching moments of sustainability, little first negations within the MBA curriculum, but entirely insufficent to be independent moments, they just had little momentum or none at all.' See NMSU College of Business Current MBA Curriculum: 36 hours; Nine of those courses cover the managerial aspects of accounting, information systems, law, economics, finance, marketing, operations, organizational behavior and quantitative analysis. As of January 25, 2014, some green negation has cropped up in BA 590 & MGT 590, and BCIS 502, each has sustainability-related material in them already. I suspect that ECON 502, MKTG 503, and MGT 502 have some green moments in them. Perhaps some of the other core courses, as well. I am recruiting these courses for participation in the university-wide Graduate Certificate Program in Sustainability.

Garrey Carruthers became dean of College of Business in 2003. The MBA program developed a couple of concentration, and continued its relationships with Engineering and Agriculture.

MBA degree with a specialization in agribusiness

Joint Bachelor of Science in Engineering/MBA Program

MBA program to cohorts of students at remote sites such as Sandia National Labs and Santa Fe.

In the Vanilla MBA only 3 Optional Specializations remain:

June 2013 Dean Carruthers became President Carruthers, and initiated a Performance Excellence fund to motivate expansion in enrollment. I applied from the Sustinability Council, got an award on my birthday Dec 17th, and by Jan 13 2014 has strategy in play to Green the Curriculum, including the College of Business.

SECOND NEGATION: In the second negation, another reversal of what I call antenarrative directionality, happens, as a certain indivisibility underlies the distinct facets of an emerging Green MBA program. Think of a diamond, that has been cut into facet-sides, one for each discipline: Marketing, Accounting & BCIS, Management, Economics, Finance & Law, and so forth. Each discipline negates the whole idea of a Green MBA by sustaining (ironic) their own facet, such as Green Marketing, Green Accounting, and so forth. In this second negation, each facet is in moments of opposition to the wholeness of a Green MBA proram, and that opposition is a good thing, as it is agential, and a self-organizing dynamic of gentle competition among departments, negating anything like a single integrated Green MBA program from emerging. There is a certian freedom of the departments in sustaining their own discipline-facet of sustainability.

As a Spiral Analyst, I am carring out observations of the first negation (little green moments, too fragmented to focus), and second negation, a countermove to the Vanilla MBA program, that brings forth a Greener MBA program rich in diverse and heterogeneous diciplinary facets, some greener than others. The green MBA fragments in first negation do what Donna Haraway (1992) calls diffraction a negation of reflection (as in a mirror). In our diamond story, the rays light (waves) are diffracting through the MBA program facets (departments). This diffracting relates through the MBA to other Colleges (Engineering & Agriculture).

Course are transformed into presences by the because grasps and ideology of sustainability of the thing called course, the course of a professor, a department, a college, a university are enrolled. "Thus the thing makes itself present but not presence" (ibid.: p. 23, bold in original). entangles the course-things, the catalogue-things, the web-things, Canvas-things, --- in a dramatic becoming, an assemblage in an actor-actant network (Latour), an ensemble called "Greening the Curriculum" transforming things no longer diverse course-things into presences by the power of storytelling. power of metamorphosis

The  takes on its own role as an actant in that self-organizing process.   is a symbol playing any of a set of active roles in the Quantum Storytelling.  becomes a storytelling brand image.  As the  took on roles in the Spiral of Sustainability, it became active, it took on the role of not only symbol for ‘sustainability-related’ and ‘sustainability-focused’ courses, it became an iconic brand for the university-wide Sustainability Minor.  

As the process has unfolded, one leaf became two, in order to have symbols for two kinds of courses:

 Sustainability-Focused Courses

Sustainability-Related Courses

The dispersion of the  through the NMSU curriculum has variability in the three tracks of the University Sustainability Minor. As Anthropology has had its minor in sustainability established for several years, it is fairly easy to get  next to the courses list in the Matrix in Track A.  The amplitude and spread of  in tracks two and three is expected to go more rapidly since Anthropology has set a path in place for other departments in the university to follow.  The  becomes a strange attractor and pulls along a set of obligatory responses on the part of actors initiating and responding to the Greening the Curriculum project.

I thought I could easily put the leaves on the following courses in Track One of the Sustainability Minor, but it turned out I had to invent another symbol to account for courses missing in the database. In meeting with the Anthropology Department, we found this would be more difficult than thought. Lets trace the recent fractal rhythms role in the Spiral of Sustainability, in some field notes:

  1. Jan 13 2014: A meeting took place the same day with Judith Bosland at Office of Institutional Analysis, on developing the course databases for sustainability courses focused- or related to sustainability @ NMSU. See for current listings. David Boje (Management), Rani Alexander (Anthropology), Mark Uchanski (Plant & Environmental Science), and Nate Whitten (data analyst Business College) met to strategize the database management issues of the ‘ Greening the Curriculum project.’ Judith will meet with the Register Michael Zimmerman to work on coding the leaf leafinto the online NMSU course schedule. By doing this, ’ sustainability in the institutional databases becomes sustainable.’ The next step is to send the’Green leaf’ graphics to Registrar’s Office so the two kinds of leaves (Focused-course and Related-course) go into the course catalogue. See Matrix at contact David Boje to schedule a time with your department to review courses listed in the Sustainability Minor @ NMSU.
  2. Jan 15 2014- Hank Strevel and I met with the Anthropology Department. They are submitting the definitions to the catalog changes. The definitions and objectives of the university-wide minor in sustainability would appear in the front of the NMSU Undergraduate Catalogue. They are also vetting 31 sustainability courses so they can get their green leaves on them in the Registrar's online course schedule. We discussed where to focus efforts next, to get tracks 2 and 3 on line.
  3. On Jan 15, Hank Strevel and I met with Associate Dean Liz Ellis and submitted this for the catalogue revisions. It may not make it into this cycle, however, it lets us move forward to develop it into the STARS Audit students use in declaring minors:

    A minor in sustainable development is available for students who want to include sustainable development in their academic training. The minor includes a minimum of 18 credit hours from the following: MGT 375V, MGT 388V, MGT 448 or BA 448, MGT 449, MGT 458, MGT 465, MGT 490.

    AACSB is stressing sustainability "Sustainability, corporate responsibility, and ethics are an integral part of management education. They shape our values and help us understand our impact on the world around us. In order to provide students with these critical skills, programs must integrate these elements and initiatives into their curricula."

    AACSB Overview of Business Schools and Sustainability
    "Recent years have seen exponential growth in the use of terms such as corporate social responsibility, sustainability, going green, sustainable development, social entrepreneurship, corporate ethics, the triple bottom line, as well as a variety of other terms that imply that businesses have obligations beyond the maximization of profit. See more on history page.

4. Jan 20 2014 - Marketing events are scheduled: Career Connections is Feb. 4-5, Employment Extravaganza is March 12 and Career Expo will be in Sept 2014.

5. Jan 24 2014 - Dominic Filosa (MBA) and Trumen Bob went with me to meet Jeffrey Beasley, Tom Jenkins and Kenny Stevens in the Engineering College. We went to find the first home department for Track Two of the Matrix. We worked out a Track Two with two required courss (ET 381 & ET 386), plus choices amont the rest: WERC 300, WERC 350, WERC 330, ET 360V, and a Special Projects course, either ET 300 or ET 400. The good news is these course are already on the books as a "Renewable Energy Technologies" minor in the Department of Engineering Technology and Surveying in the College of Engineer. The difference is we selected courses for the university-wide minor that might attract students from other colleges, with a minimum of prerequistes. There was a great discovery, embedded in that minor were two College of Buisness courses: ECON 337V (Natural Resource Economics), and ECON 384V Water Resource Economics). Good news for extending Track Three housed in the Management Department of College of Business.

is agential, materailly entwining with things we call courses. The creates a spiral agential process, what I call a "Spiral of Sustainability" that becomes an entire "Tree of Sustainability" with many fractal rhythms spiraling all thorugh the tree.

Spiral Analyst

To be a Spiral Analyst you have to work very hard to coordinate fractal rhythms. To be a spiral analyst you ahve to modify your conception of the world. Its nonlinear spacetimemattering as we call it in Quantum Storytelling. To be a spiral analyst meands using your whole body, all its senses, to attune to rhythms. Why? The body is is nothing more than "diverse rhythms --- each organ, each function, having its own --- keeps them metastable equilibrium which is always understood and often recovered, with the exception of disturbances (arrythmia) that sooner or later, become illness (the pathological state" (Lefebvre, ibid.: 20). The body attunes to its enviornment, the rhythms. In quantum terms, the body is waves or if you will, rhythms of energy, and any stability or solidness is illusion. The environment of the body is also what Lefebevre terms: bundles, bouquets, garlands of rhythms. I submit that these rhythms are quantum waves and our body is attuned to the fractal rhythms in a very quantum sense of entanglement. Our body grasps and attunes to the natural or produced ensembles. There is nothing immobile about quantum rhythms.

Any choice in a 'Spiral of Sustainability' is potentially risky, since choice implies the existence of alternative paths, all with their own outcomes.  Spirals are both organized and unorganized. Spirals are both emergent and vitalist.  The Earth in her sustainability provides her share of risks such as earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts, floods, and volcanoes --- and so do the technologies of organizations have their own sustainability risks such as pollution, over-use of earth resources, threat to biodiversity, and so forth.  Enacting a Spiral of Sustainability at a university involved an ongoing interaction between Earth’s risks and technologies of the university and habits of human participants at all levels (operational and support units, courses, departments, colleges, administration, etc.).

The Spiral of Sustainability has rich and complex patterns of self-organizing transformation.  The self-organizing the Spiral of Sustainability involves branching, such as when the Sustainability Minor in the Anthropology Department split into three tracks to establish the University-wide minor in Sustainability. The evolution of the Sustainability Minor now has three paths that are intertwined, and paths not chosen (such as departments not yet involved).  At each new organizing event, there are choice points.

The Quantum Storytelling in this example consist of the ways the fractal scales oscillating from minutiae to global concerns are animating the self-organizing processes of the Spiral of Sustainability.  This can be seen in the example of the green leaf.


Table 2: Track One Sustainability Minor’s Initial Course listing on Jan 14 2014

AGHE 380G Ecosystem Earth (Is this EPWS 380)

AGE 315V World Agriculture and Food Problems

SOC 465G Environmental Sociology

GEOG 295 Introduction to Climate Science

AGE 337G Natural Resource Economics

GOVT 424 Environmental Policy

BIO 461 Human Ecology

AG E 348G Water Resource Economics

ANTH 362 Environmental Anthropology

BIO 462 Conservation Biology

AGRO 483 Sustainable Production of Agronomic Crops

GEOG 464 Land Use and Land Rent

BIO 301 Principles of Ecology

ANTH 360V Food & Culture Around the World

WSLC Principles of Natural Resource Management

WSLC Systems Ecology

GEOG 362 Geography of International Development



GOVT 447 Sociology of Development


 Sustainability-Focused Course
 Sustainability-Related Course
not yet in online database has the full course listing used in the application for GOLD STAR Sustainability rating several years ago. They are out of date. We are rapidly building momentum not only to put them in date but to institutionalize the leaf.

The problem is to institutionalize the databases, to institutionalize 'Greening the Curriculum.' The Spiraling above, from leaf to leaf, becomes a whole 'Tree of Sustainability.'

Tree of Sustainability at NMSU

In this Tree of Sustainability, there is fractal rhythm spiraling through the truck, the branches, and the root-stems. The roots of the Tree of Sustainability grow, to support the truck and branches, and all those s.

Plant Sustainability Tree in our Curriculum


Think of the roots of the Spiral tree of Sustainaiblity as the infrastructre, the subterranean, those student clubs OASIS and ESSO that get things going at our university, those staff members organizing at the grass roots. How do you bring a Green MBA thing into a becoming present? It takes things like databases, meeting with committee after committee. Where are the biggest branches of the Tree of Sustainability? Ironically, in Agriculture, in Engineering, and ironic as it may be the Arts and Sciences and the College of Business are energized with initiative. Soon Agriculture, a department or two will become a dwelling-thing, a home for s. Observe the sub-altern, the alterity (the other excluded from the halls of power).

Louis Althusser attacked structuralist synchrony (e.g. the cross-sectional studies) and Hegel’s essentialism (of generalized historical time and expressive totality of parts each expressing the other). For Althusser temporality is not homogeneous (see Doreen Massey, 2005: p. 40). In the leaf example, the “total instantaneous interconnectivity” of the leaves, whee they form as elements of the whole curriculum in immediate relationship to each other expresses a Hegelian ‘internal essence’ that Althusser objects to. time in cores-sections through time (called ‘space’ in an errant way by Bergson) lacks the living story voices, the microstoria (Boje, 2001). Althusser’s critique of space conceptions, involves thinking through the voices excluded in cross-sectional studies of organization.

Let's not dismiss Hegel too quicly. Hegel's dialectic is moslty misunderstood. A curriculum-thing is conposed of quite diverse materials. , in a rather shapeless repetition those diverse materials. Sustainability is an Idea, in Hegel's terms, a "sort of repition of the same formula" (Hegel, p. 9). The knowing student goes around signing up for classes-things, the material encounts fulfilling what the student and the College deem needed, as the arbitrary insights come course content. From one insturtor to the next, teaching the same thing, there are differences, as instructors imagine that same material differently, so no universal Idea develops. Course does not equal course . The full body of curriculum, seeks and demands fulfilmient of a formalism of content, that we all act to denounce and despise (ibid.: 9). The College, the University grasps at the 'universal' Subject matter, an "undifferentiated, unmoved substantiality" (ibid.). This Universal is opposed by the experiences of faculty and students in the "immediacy of knowledge" (ibid.). Out of that dialecic classroom "thought united with the being of Substance, and approaches immediacy or intuition as thinking, the question is still whether this intellectual intuition does not agian fall back into inert simplicity, and does not depict actuality itself in a non-actual manner" (ibid.).

Hegel (1807/1907) puts it this way, "Dialectic as a negative movement, just as it immediately is, at first appears to consciousness as something which has it at its mercy, and which does not have its source in consciousness itself ... what vanishes is the determinate element, or the moment of difference, which whatever its mode of being and whatever its source, sets itself up as something fixed and immutable" (ibid.: 124). Think if how immutable a University is, how its curriculum defies changes, yet it contains no permanent elementt: insturctors change course content and proces; insturctors come and go, each year something is different. I add somethin new now, and something must vanish. Yet, the University is entirely bundles of rhythms, fractals bundled everywhere, in a process of becoming that makes and "absolute dialectical unrest" in those course representations, where differences keep recurring fractals from being identical.

Trees have a bundle of rhythms, capillary action to nourish s, the movement of water caused by molecular attaction to reach s, molecules of water natually attracted to one another, moving on up the trunk. How to draw water from the deepest roots of a Tree of Sustainability to its highest leaves in a College? It takes intermolecular attractive forces, that are quantum intra-activity of discourse with materiality, as Barad (2003, 2007) calls it.  Capillary action is enhanced in trees by the branching, so more are supported, nourished, at the highest elevations of a tree.

Water from down under, is drawn into cellulous fibers in the tree trunk, in bundles of capillaries, (xylem). The water adheres to miniscus, a spiraling curving along the edges of the xylem, so the wate can climp up the spiral in spaces between wood fibers, into the top branches to nourish those s.

The Tree of Sustainability accumulates after . There are bundles of s and garlands of s. The Tree itself has an environment of soil or earth, wind or, water or rain, and the fire or passion of the storytelling. The rhythm of the s is slow or fast, as the spiraling relations among the s gathers self-organizing momentum. First, one tree, then many trees. "The forest moves in multiple ways" in movements of soil, earth, sun, and in the quantum movements of particles, waves, molecules, and atoms (Lefebvre, p. 20). There is a vitality in the Trees of Sustainability, the life of a forest. You can hear the leaves, hear the rustling of the s in the forest, like when you put your ear to a sea shell and hear the ocean waves.

Example 2: Stress and the Military

In our military example, spiral-antenarratives are a downward spiral of hazing, stigma, and bullying of soldiers returning from combat that prevents veterans from seeking services. Those events are fractal. For example, soldiers get hazed by their peers for seeking counseling or training. As a fractal example consider how PTSD was originally measures in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, versions III to V: DSM-III, changed in DSM-IV, and radically changed in DSM-V.

A. Diagnostic criteria for PTSD in DSM-III. It changes soon after release: “The stressor criterion (Criterion A) was subsequently elaborated” after the 1980 release of DSM-III, in DSM-III-R. It game more examples of qualifying events: serious thereat to life or physical integrity (Brewin et al,2009: P. 366). The stressor criterion (Criterion A) was subsequently elaborated” after the 1980 release of DSM-III, in DSM-III-R. It game more examples of qualifying events: serious thereat to life or physical integrity (Brewin et al,2009: P. 366). Criterion A (stressors) was revised to deal with what are those events “generally outside the range of usual human experience” (ibid.: 366). Critics says the thee is “criterion creep” as PTSD is diagnosed now in situations quite far removed from trauma, such as divorce, loss of cattle to foot and mouth disease, frightening Halloween TV program, etc. Read more Brewin et al article PDF with more history. The fractal changed a bit...

B. Diagnostic criteria for PTSD in DSM-IV. or see more extensive one here. See DSM-IV checklist of 17 test questions. DSM-IV further broadened the stressor criterion to more cases, such as sunned death of relative or friend, the build up of stress over prolonged period of time, such as at at work in a corporation, being a graduate student at a university, or a professor seeking promotion and tenure. It exampled to even ‘virtual PTSD’ such as watching 9/11 TV, persons ongoing worries about terrorism, etc. The criterion for children, on the other hand, was a bit too rigid: children had to respond with intense fear, helplessness, or horror (Criterion A2). “Among civilian victims of violent crime a small number had sufficient symptoms for PTSD in the absence of Criterion A2” (Ibid.: 368). The other main criticism of DSM-IV how there was much symptom overlap with other kinds of disorders, making diagnosis a problem. For storytelling, it means that clients or patients whose storytelling has an absence of any intrusive memory of an event met Criterion B characteristics of depression, more than PTSD. Phobic persons also met Criterion B, with social withdrawal, loss of interest, emotional numbing and hopelessness about the future. A confirmatory factor analysis found four factor solution. Then the fractal changed more radically...

C. Diagnostic criteria for PTSD in DSM-V. or see PDF of the changes. Download the new 9 item scale for measuring PTSD: Severity of Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms—Adult (National Stressful Events Survey PTSD Short Scale. For children, download Severity of Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms—Child Age 11–17 (National Stressful Events Survey PTSD Short Scale [NSESS]). The fractal is small in number of items, yet gets even more complex: "It added a new symptom domain of "negative alterations in cognitions or mood," and expanded the hyperarousal domain to include aggressive, reckless, or self-destructive behavior. It also added a sub-type characterized by dissociation (drastic reductions in physical arousal and conscious emotion and thought)" More from this source.


"Instead of three major symptom clusters for PTSD, the DSM-5 now lists four clusters:

Understanding the Examples with the New Critical Materialisms

The New Materialisms Karen Barad, Elizabeth Grosz, Vicki Kirby and Elizabeth A. Wilson are exemplars of the 'new materialisms' work being done (Davis, 2009; Coole & Frost, 2010). Coole and Frost (2010: 1) ask "How could we ignore the power of matter and the ways it materializes in our ordinary experiences or fail to acknowledge the primacy of matter in our theories?"  They pluralize new materialism to the 'new materialism' noting various levels of materialization, and many future possibilities the 19th century materialist philosophies of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.

Boje and Wakefield (in press) "Recent works by Bennett (2010), Barad (2007), Boje et. al. (2012), Wakefield (2011, and Strand (2012),  all lend credence to recognizing the agency of material things as part of a greater collective unfolding that is more than the five senses of our sensemaking. Latour (1999, 2005), Boje (D. Boje, 2010b, 2011b) , Clough (2008) and Haraway (1992, 2008) address the power of material objects in posthumanist assemblages and collectives, leading away from the spookiness of Bergsonian élan vital, toward a less troublesome brand of agency wherein man and matter intra-act in a co-creative, fractal unfolding of the universe-as-assemblage."


We can gain some insight into the fractal rhythm process by looking at a phenomenon called 'agential cuts' and 'Cartesian cuts.' Each way of observing what is happening means addressing embedded observational apparatus that are an intra-action (not interaction) of materiality with discourse (spiral is a kind of discourse; curriculum is a kind of discourse; catalogues, web-pages, expos are a kind of materiality in both an ontological and post-positivist sense).

Observation of Agential Cuts & Cartesian Cuts in Field Ethnography

One way to proceed is to address the agential cuts that that are going on in the two cases. In the sustainability case there are narratives in place that prevent the dissemination of the green leaf in the curriculum. In the case of military, there are narratives in place that prevent the dissemination of veteran and family support. The narratives accomplish in both cases, what quantum physicist and 'new materialism' philosopher Karen Barad (2003: 815 )calls 'agential cut' in contrast to 'Cartesian cut.' An Cartesian cut makes a separation, such as between 'subject' and 'object.' In deconstruction (Boje, 2001), we call this a duality. Agential cut, on the other hand, involves a conjunction, brought about by "a specific material configuration of the 'apparatus of observation'" that is "enacts a local resolution within the phenomenon of the inherent ontological indeterminacy" (Barad, 2003: 815).


Fractal rhythms are created through the materialisms of storytelling practices. We have stuck narratives about sustainability and PTSD. There is a history of changes to those dominant narratives. People situate themselves in those dominant narratives. Living stories do not conform to the dominant narratives.

A spiral-antenarrative makes varied connections (aka pathways) between the dominant or grander narratives and the living stories. One particular antenarrative variety is the spiral-antenarrative, the pathways that have a self-organizing fractal rhythm.

The events, such as meetings, the people assembled, in places, are part of the fractal rhythms, and part of the transformation function.

In the Green Leaf example, the leaves are among several kinds of fractals. Other fractals include Career Expos, Teaching Academy Sessions, changes to what courses constitute a Minor, the departments that house a Minor, the formation of Graduate Certificate, changes to the STARS audit program for tracking student paths through the university, the path of a career in sustainability, and so forth.

In the PTSD example, there are fractal rhythms as PTSD is redefined, its criterion A and B in the DSM-III to DSM-V, keeps changing, which changes the test instruments, which are also 'observational apparatus' for assessment and treatment, as well as part of the legal system, and the benefits system, and so forth.

In fractal analysis, there is a zooming in and zooming out to get at at observation of the momentum of changes. This observation by us, has its own 'observer effects' and is therefore part of what I call quantum storytelling.

There is a difference cross-culturally in fractal rhythms. Westerners put more emphasis on time of a spiral-antenarrative development, its temporal production of events by certain dates. In a majority of Native American and other Indigenous cultures, the 'place' is more significant than the 'time.'

I submit that in the Native cultures, fractal rhythm embodied in place, is efficacious and meaningful. With regards to the Spiral of Sustainability, this brings up a conclusion. It is not a mater of finding a leaf here and there in the course schedule, catalogue, or university web pages. Rather, the leaf is part of the fractal branching. Each student, each faculty member, each course, each department, and each college has a different way of looking at the meaning of substantiality, and its 'place' in the university.

If our fractal rhythm lens zooms in to narrowly, all we see are leaves, and we miss the tree. If we zoom out too far, the Spiral of Sustainability is too general, lacking in specific content.

Storytelling involves place, the features of sustainability in the landscape of the university. Leaf has to become more than mnemonic device for remembering some courses have more sustainable content than others. The storytelling has to influence the landscape. The Spiral of Sustainability is situated not just in human activity and behavior, it is situation in a landscape that is fluid, and flows all around us.

In New Mexico, in this Land of Enchantment, Navajo peoples have sacred spaces, dwelling called Hogans. One enters and exits from the East in a geographical space of awareness, where the four directions are sacred. Deloria Jr. (1994/2003: 67) says the majority of trees have a sacred center, a particular place that is the center of the four directions. Deloria claims that Westerners are too time-oriented, missing the spatial aspects, the sacredness of place.

I observe that trauma happens in a place, often in an institution, with places of trauma. The context of trauma, its location, the people involved, is part of the landscape of the institutions. The network of those institutions is what Hobbes (1651) called Leviathan. See more on Leviathan.

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