Jubilation Deficiency Disorder

Tom Munnecke

Draft 12/14/99

            This paper describes two distinct ways of looking at a system: the analytical and the jubilant. The analytical is that which is subject to predictability, certainty, and traditional forms of engineering and management control. The jubilant level is of another scale and dimension – it speaks of the vitality and spirit of the system, which is neither predictable nor completely knowable.

            The jubilant level of understanding often is given short shrift in our analytical era. This has created a surge in people who feel that they are trapped within careers, organization charts, and circumstances that are devoid of happiness and jubilation. This jubilation deficiency is a result of insufficient attention paid to the jubilant layer of a system. Vitality is a bi-directional phenomenon – those who create it find it enhanced in themselves. This loss of vitality pervasive to our systems today can be called the jubilation deficiency disorder.

            An example of this is to compare baby formula (the analytical) with mother’s milk and the process of nursing (the jubilant). The creation of baby formula is an analytical decomposition/composition process views mother’s milk through a particular lens – that of the nutritional mechanism. It replicates the most obvious function of mother’s milk, the feeding of the infant.

            By analyzing mother’s milk at the chemical level, we can recreate it in a stable, easy to mix formula which can provide a large percentage of the nutrients found in mother’s milk. We could even quantify the similarity between the two, for example, that formula contains 98% of the nutrients found in mother’s milk.

            This approach, however, makes several assumptions:

  1. That the scale at which we are analyzing mother’s milk is appropriate. For example, we could say that the formula exactly the same ratio of electrons, protons, and neutrons as mother’s milk. Although this ratio could be proven exactly true, the net effect of the concoction would likely have little nutritional effect.
  2. That we use some "yardstick" by which we can claim "98%" complete. Is this 98% by weight, volume, active ingredients, or other measure?
  3. That this yardstick is linear – we can add together components together to get 100%.
  4. That we understand the missing 2% of the formulation. Are these missing ingredients something vital to the infant, even if in trace quantities?
  5. That there is an "average" mother’s milk that serves as the basis from which the 98% analysis is completed.

Let us examine the system from another scale. This looks at the dynamic interaction between mother and infant. The nursing process is a mutual process, by which the baby receives nutrition, emotional support, comfort, warmth, touch, massage, cooing sounds, heartbeat sounds, love, and bonding with her mother. Other than the specific transfer of chemical nutrients, the mother receives much of the same from the baby. She may have feelings such as reassurance that she is a worthy mother, a sense of being needed, a sense of wonder at the mysteries of childbirth, hope for the future, happiness that her labor and hard work to bring a child into being was worth it, resolution of fears and anxieties, and an array of other emotional feelings.

This scale introduces many new levels of complexity:

  1. The mother and the baby are interacting with each other simultaneously at many different levels. Communication is no longer a one-way process based on "average" nutritional content, as viewed from the chemical/nutritional scale of viewing.
  2. There is no "yardstick" by which to measure the mother/infant nursing dialog. We can not claim that a mother is receiving 74% of her sense of wonder or the baby 98% of its emotional support from a particular nursing session. Even more remote is the possibility of aggregating these factors into an overall quantity, to claim that a nursing session was 74% successful in emotional factors.
  3. There is no way to characterize an "average" nursing process. Each mother and each infant are different, and each nursing session has its own context.

This scale of thinking is difficult to handle from a scientific, "rational" point of view. Management textbooks teach, "If you can’t measure something, you can’t achieve it." Science demands objectivity, an observer outside the system being measured which is free of investigator bias. It expects falsifiable hypotheses, which the objective observer could disprove according to scientific methods.

Nature, however, is not hampered by the limitations of analysis. Despite the numerous difficulties of "rationally" explaining the process of nursing, it has been used successfully by billions of mothers without any rational explanation.

Let us call this scale of understanding of the mother/infant nursing process "jubilation." It has no yardstick for measurement, nor is there any one way to define it according to analytical terms. Just because we cannot measure it, however, does not mean that it does not exist.

We can now see two contrasting levels of understanding of the nursing process. the chemical level, which deals with the analytically understandable nutritional process, and the jubilant, which deals the whole of the mother/infant nurturing relationship.

The jubilant level of understanding is a much more complex process. There are many feedback loops involved. The infant nurtures the mother as well as is nurtured by the mother. In both a figurative and literal sense, the baby creates the mother. This is a much richer and complex relationship assumed at the chemical level.

From a perspective that examines the full richness and complexity of the nursing process, the chemist’s nutrition perspective suffers from jubilation deficiency. In the same way that a chemist would scoff at a physicist’s understanding of mother’s milk as "just a collection of electrons and protons," the jubilist would scoff at a chemist’s understanding of nursing as the flow of milk from the mother to the infant. The jubilation level of understanding is full of surprises and uncertainty which are not necessarily repeatable or predictable.

Each characteristic scale is typically dominated by a discipline or a specialist. The atomic scale has physicists, molecular has chemists, proteins have biologists, etc. The jubilant scale, however, has no formal group associated with it. Artists, musicians, architects, writers, allude to it.

Artist/Architect/Sculptor James T. Hubbell speaks of the need for an architecture of jubilation:

I have heard astronomers talk about the music of the spheres. I have heard this music described as a song of jubilation. Perhaps this is a word for our coming age, a time of coming together, of coming back to the whole.

We need an Architecture of Jubilation to sing of it!

            Organizational theorist David Cooperrider of Case Western Reserve University has developed a theory he calls Appreciative Inquiry. Rather than focusing on deficits and problems discovered through analysis, his approach is to accentuate the positive:

Could it be that organizations are in fact affirmative systems, governed and maintained by positive projections about what the organization is, how it will function, and what it might become? If so, what are the implications for management? Is it true that the central executive task in a post-bureaucratic society is to nourish the appreciative soil from which affirmative projections grow, branch off, evolve, and become collective projections?

            Rather than focusing on decay in an organization, it focuses on the forces which give life to an organization. Rather than fixing what is broken, it amplifies what is already working well. Appreciative inquiry, if it were applied to the mother’s milk/formula discussion, would focus on the jubilant level of understanding.

            We can generalize this notion to many other systems. There is a level of abstraction at which the system is viewed as predictable and decomposable to a specific level of understanding – the rational or analytical level. There is also level above it which has liveliness and significance, but is not directly analyzable – the jubilant level.

            Both of these levels exist simultaneously. The rational level, being subject to precise measurement, is a powerful tool for control and predictable behavior. The jubiliant level, however, being by nature unpredictable, is of less value for control and analytical understanding.

            As a result, our education, business, economic, scientific, government, and legal systems have all tended to focus on the analytical level. The jubilant level receives little formal attention, even if it is the force that gives life to the system. We can call this systematic deprivation jubilation deficiency disorder.

            Those who are analytically inclined (or suffering from JDD, as the case may be), may say that there is noting in the jubilant level of thinking which is not understandable with sufficient analysis. Our lack of understanding of mother’s milk, for example, is just a matter of not having studied it thoroughly enough from a multidisciplinary approach, including biology, chemistry, psychology, medicine, genetics, and nutrition. The truly skeptical would say that things that are not objectively understandable are not significant.

Economists postulate the "rational consumer" as the mainstay of the economy. Rather than accepting that their definition of rationality is flawed, they speak of irrational behavior and externalities. Uncertainty is a fact of life, and a critical part of the jubilant level. John Maynard Keynes, writing in 1937, said,

By "uncertain" knowledge…I do not mean merely to distinguish what is known for certain from what is only probable. The game of roulette is not subject, in this sense, to uncertainty… The sense in which I am using the term is that in which the prospect of a European war is uncertain, or the price of copper and the rate of interest twenty years hence… About these matters, there is no scientific basis on which to form any calculable probability whatever. We simply do not know!

            Bernstein remark on the jubilant potential of not knowing:

A tremendous idea lies buried in the notion that we simply do not know. Uncertainty makes us free…where everything works according to the laws of probability, we are like primitive people – or gamblers – who have no recourse but to recite incantations to their gods. Nothing that we do, no judgment that we make, no response to our animal spirits, is going to have the slightest influence on the final result. It may appear to be a well-ordered world in which the probabilities yield to careful mathematical analysis, but each of us might just as well retire to a windowless prison cell – a fate that the flutter of a butterfly’s wings billions of years ago may have ordained in any case.

What a bore! But thank goodness, the world of pure probability does not exist except on paper on perhaps as a partial description of nature. It has nothing to do with breathing, sweating, anxious, and creative human beings struggling to find their way of the darkness.

            Part of the jubilation of a young mother is not knowing - the mystery and discovery of what nursing and child rearing can be.




Appendix A. The Architecture of Jubilation.

James T. Hubbell http://www.sandiegoart.com/JHubbell/jubilation.html

It is my belief that we are passing through a gate from one age to another perhaps more profound than the changes medieval man faced with the rising of Humanism and the age we call the Renaissance. We have spent the last five hundred years trying to understand the world by dividing it into parts. We are now at the task of putting our world back together. We are seeking a vision of a whole world, with ourselves as part of the whole.

Let me describe to you a world we are entering into, a world where equality is seen not as sameness but as uniqueness. Here time is seen not as ends and goals but as process, with moments to be savored - not separated from past and future. This is a world where matter and energy are understood as inseparable and where God is at home in a cup of coffee as well as in the stars. In our new world, survival will be measured not by control or force but by sympathy and understanding. Technology has made morality no longer an option but the only path away from self-extinction. Architecture - what we build - must now reflect this sympathy and understanding.

Have you ever watched the millions of stars in the sky on a moonless night, or seen the wind waver over a field of grass, or noticed the dust at play in a shaft of light, or felt the warmth of another's hand..someone you cared for? This is where architecture must come from. Architecture must take measure of all that it is to be human in a world that is whole. It must take count of our galaxy and of a smile and somehow learn to interpret and express our new world in walls, doors and roofs.

It is not that economics and function are not important but that they no longer express the whole man. They no longer express who we believe ourselves to be. We must add our love, our history, our metaphysics. We must add the wind, the sun and the call of the hills. Our buildings must learn to express all that we contain, for now we are a whole world.

I have heard astronomers talk about the music of the spheres. I have heard this music described as a song of jubilation. Perhaps this is a word for our coming age, a time of coming together, of coming back to the whole.

We need an Architecture of Jubilation to sing of it!