tableChris Corrigan over at Parking Lot has just completed an intriguing (and a bit confusing, from a reader perspective) week-long Blog Switch with Alex Kjerulf. He’s back, and and he’s in fine form. He points us to a great list of community tools from Australian Coastal Waters Cooperative Research Centre — via Flemming Funch, who also brings us this wonderful take on the nature of consciousness:

The more simple answer, to me at least, is that there’s an infinite Omniverse there, and you’re an integral part of it. It has the inherent capability to do everything that ever happened and ever will happen, and the scope of what can happen is infinite. Some of the inherent qualities are self-reflexive consciousness and the ability to evolve. It is vast, complex and mysterious, but ultimately completely logical and coherent. You can learn about it and understand it as deeply as you want, and it will readily divulge its secrets, but everything in it is connected with everything else, and all of it is continously evolving, so you’ll probably never be done.

And then today, Chris talks about the properties of circles, presenting us with this insight into how we relate to circles during human interactions:

That got me thinking about tables, in various shapes, and how our choice of position at them tells us a lot about how we perceive ourselves. Ever notice that in business meetings in rooms with rectangular board room tables no one really gets settled until the perceived ‘leader’ arrives and selects a chair? And how at sit-down dinner parties everyone shuffles around and stays standing until the host signals in some way what the seating arrangement is, or that there isn’t one? And that some people prefer place cards at tables (and get dismayed at being told ‘sit anywhere you like’) where others rankle at being ‘told’ where to sit?

I’d be interested in readers’ stories and perceptions on this. As my readers probably suspect, I never hesitate to pick the best untaken seat in the room (the one with the view of the most people), unless it’s an uninteresting occasion (in which case I take the seat closest to the door), or unless I’m told where to sit (which makes me suspicious as to what the arrangement means). Circular tables are very democratic, but there are still choices depending on room layout. And what about the protocol of waiting for women to sit first, and pushing in their seat (the latter ignored at business meetings, and a courtesy increasingly provided only for elderly women)? Are there cultural observances regarding seating arrangement in different countries that have edged their way in, or managed to hold on, in multicultural societies? And given the deep cultural significance of eating and meeting, what does the way we select our place at the table tell us about ourselves?

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  1. O RLY YA RLY says:

    I once read this exact same thing in a book on negotiation techniques. Round tables are more productive, rectangular ones lead to a more confrontational attitude.

  2. mscandide says:

    I probably know too much about myself already, which is why I eat on my sofa. But regarding the nature of consciousness quote–this is what I’m saying with the M. C. Escher/”mood-ring” metaphor I posted a few days ago. Only I say it flakier.

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Sam: You’re far too modest. There’s nothing flaky about your writing, or about the lovely metaphor you used. Anyone who has not yet discovered Sam’s Thistle & Hemlock please click on ‘mscandide’ above and discover a blog that’s pure poetry.

  4. Thanks for the nice words Dave. The blog swap was an interesting expereiment to be sure…it was probably just as confusing for me as it was for you!There will be more on this circle thing, suffice it to say, as I did in an email to you, that tables are another matter altogether.

  5. Mark Gehrke says:

    We just bought a new circular table for our dining – kitchen area. Your table metaphor is good. When I ran my own company at first I spent a lot of time trying to be recogized as having the lead position “at the table” and the last 3 years deconstructing that structure to give everyone the opportunity to be at the head.The circle shape transcends the “box” way of thinking, allowing more natural flow. Concentric circles are good ways to show relationships that are more integral. The circle shape can be twisted to show depth, movement and evolution, i.e. spiral; the chinese ying-yang symbol is a good representation of a circle with depth. It’s a spiral viewed on end shows the movement (and balance) of the circle. The representation of this geometry can be related to the social relationships and our evolving consciousness.Thanks for the insight!

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