Spiral (2)

I left Monday having started talking a little about the spiral with a specific foray into teal.

If anything I wrote bore even the slightest resemblance to the facts, it is that most readers will not have understood anything. That is, unless they already know all about it (Hi Claudius, Michelle and Jane!).

That wasn’t meant to sounds arrogant, just how I perceive the theory – if it makes sense, first time around something is wrong; OK. So, some of you might not have heard of this before and already have the theory stitched-up (despite my not having covered much; whatever).

Steve Jobs said, ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’ – well, I guess if you follow that notion, the spiral is entirely unsophisticated, at least on first reading.

It isn’t for babies. It requires effort; work.

Let’s go back.

On Monday I also mentioned memes. Now, my 15 year old son is very familiar with these – they are big on the Internet; he showed me some of his and despite his mirth they made no sense whatsoever to me. I will try to track some down to show you. We also showed my brother – he was equally nonplussed.

Isn’t that the point? My son’s cultural heritage is in its very nature different to mine; his experiences, future and sense of what is funny are not the same as mine (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia?) (I eventually warmed to Parks and Recreation).


We had a sense, my having discussed this with him, that my memes and his were different; in that the concept of meme was different – his to do with peculiar (to me) Internet graphics and mine with concepts of cultural evolution. Although I don’t totally have it, I suspect they are one and the same.


To the spiral!

The spiral (which I suspect needn’t be a spiral, could be a Curly Wurly) begins with the start of human evolution – when we shifted to becoming what we are now; that is, Homo sapiens. The immediate family and its survival.


This was the way we humans first organised.

There are not many places where this exists today; where people (organised groups) don’t just know one another, they are related either by genetics or pair bonding.

At this level of development or, evolution that was what worked at that time; what more was there? This family, battling to survive, reflecting instincts, fight or flight is the first level of the spiral.

Now, those folk living in families were the same as you and me; their memes would have been different, but, take a baby from then, send the tot to the 21st century and they too would be fretting over GCSE’s 15 years later. Little has changed in our biology in that time; we might be a little taller, have more heart disease or neuro-degeneration, these however relate predominantly to environmental and social changes rather than something in us. (Immunology and epigenetics have I guess evolved.)

My point; is, then and now we are the same, mostly.

Yet, our interpretation of the world has altered to such an extent that if we were to meet; those original folk and modern humans we would probably perceive two different species.

I am getting bogged-down in the minutiae of sociology and anthropology; I will leave that to Noah Harari – I’ll get back to the spiral.


The spiral, or the first step, is the family grouping. There is a colour associated with this, but it really is secondary and also, what this level is called isn’t all that important.

What matters is that we started somewhere; what we had met the challenges we faced.

If you reflect this across to Maslow, this is the very bottom of his pyramid – achieving the primary requirements of food and shelter. Once these are in place you can start getting-on. If not, you don’t survive.


Now, this being the first-step, doesn’t mean that it is a worse step; a naughty-step of civilisation, just one which was best adapted to that time and place; just as a butterfly is best adapted to getting at the nectar or an eagle perching on its eerie.


There is no good or bad, better or worse; just different. This is the birth of diversity.

I promise to get to the colours and all the rest eventually, but, for now, let us suffice with this first tentative step.

It really is so removed from today – my sitting watching the sun set over the Mediterranean, laptop and internet; the mess/miasma of modernity that it is hard to conceive, yet, just as with the traditional evolution, it is a phase all of us pass-through; our early family life, dependence on parents, siblings or close family.

An aside, which might help emphasise the point, you can find in studies of embryology.

This is the time a fetus is sitting warm inside the womb.

As the embryo grows and differentiates it passes through a fish-like phase where we have gills, just like a fish.

Here is a picture.


This doesn’t mean that we all have fish within us, or, as with above, tuna aren’t as sophisticated as humans, just that there is a link buried within that is mostly not noticed. (Douglas Adams has this sussed).

so long.jpg

Again, this is probably side-tracking, and now, I think, probably the best way for me to explore the spiral is for individual blogs focusing on each.

Have I explained the first tier?

It seems to me straightforward.

The family unit;

Ma, Pa and baby bear, exposed to the elements.

The vicissitudes of survival.

Sure, some miss-out on this, the point I suspect relates to us, that is humans as a whole, as a species.

Again, all this seems quite removed from my usual concerns of older people waiting in line for a blood test or a visit from home care A, B or C.

Yet, it is directly linked – our need for family, our dependence on one another, the sense of loss when a parent dies or the sandwich generation rushing-in to care.

Families are part of us no matter how much we pretend this is not the case; for the good and the bad.

Our helplessness as babies or dread of separation and loss.

Our family helps with our identity, it is a link to the past and a mirror on ourselves. Busy at important job in the city or rushing around the hospital ward, anxious over unemployment, our families are within us. They don’t go away no matter how much we pretend. And when the family is gone, passed on or moved-away, the memories play-out either in our dreams or our imaginings. Part of us is part of something else, our genetic linkage, or childhood memories or reflections in the mirror.

Family is where you begin.

It is where the group starts.

It is a route into the dynamics of a team – how we relate, how we connect and associate with one another; archetypes of our parents, our brothers and sisters, transforming into work colleagues, teachers and mentors. A reflection through time and space.

Again I have spilled-over the word-count.

I’ll try to do better the next time.

For now, I will leave you with a teaser; I will reveal the colour that is family or tribe, remembering that it is arbitrary;

It is beige.

dr phil.jpeg


Published by rodkersh1948

Trying to understand the world, one emotion at a time.

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