...some notes on James Gleick’s Chaos, 1993


fractal clusters = a percolation network, cascades of bifurcations

A scientist named Schaffer claims that chaos rather than equilibrium theory now is the ruling paradigm in ecological science. That is, chaos theory incorporates the principles of the theory of systems in dynamic equilibrium but is able to explain the rapid changes that occur along the borders of stable systems and when those systems break down.


If equilibrium theory dominated 1950s academic discourse in the human as well as the natural sciences (cf. consensus history, etc.), contemporary cultural studies is inspired by the paradigms of chaos theory, which describe both highly regularized and repetitive patterns and their boundaries, where infinite and unpredictable and unregularized complexities occur. Hence theories of sameness and difference, of borderlands, of sites of improvisation, critique, revision, recombination….

Compare Gleick, pp. 220ff.


Geick’s text itself, as reading, seems perfectly smooth and polished as it develops its arguments. Where is the chaos in his text?


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