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Conceived in 2008, LiquidFractal.org is a privately owned open-ended teaching and learning site focusing on (but not limited to) the arts and humanities. The goal is to create an online meeting place for scholars and knowledge-enthusiasts from all walks of life to exchange ideas, debate, explore, and learn.

Why fractals, you might ask? The folks at Fractal Foundation can give you some cool mathematical and scientific discussions of fractal geometry, chaos theory and so forth - their site is great and definitely worth checking out. Peter Fryer and Jules Ruis at Fractal.com define a fractal system as "a complex, non-linear, interactive system which has the ability to adapt to a changing environment. Such systems are characterised by the potential for self-organisation, existing in a nonequilibrium environment. [Fractal systems] evolve by random mutation, self-organisation, the transformation of their internal models of the environment, and natural selection. Examples include living organisms, the nervous system, the immune system, the economy, corporations, societies, and so on. In a fractal system, semi-autonomous agents interact according to certain rules of interaction." Fractals are also incredible representations of what I think of as the entanglement of sameness and difference, patterns of varying complexity that reiterate themselves across different scales. The video clip to the right shows how every time you zoom into a fractal system's detail, that detail repeats the original pattern. Evolving in different directions and in different modes, fractals illustrate how complex patterns can emerge from a uniform pattern as it repeats itself stepwise through time.

The same, from a philosophical/psychological point of view: we have a notion of "who we are" - the person you describe to yourself as you who takes all the information around you and arranges it into a unique formation that only you can create, but which is also fluid and evolving. Now, we don't know exactly how we do this - there are lots of theories about this of course - but through all the information we encounter and collect there's always something we retain as who we are ("personality," "I"ness, ipseity, ecceity, call it what you want). We see this self-organizing tendency throughout nature - especially in crystals, which form in supersaturated liquid with a uniform symmetry branching off in different directions (for a great look at self-organizing symmetry in nature, check out Tyler Volk's Metapatterns).


The iteration of a Mandelbrot-set fractal (put your mouse pointer over the screen/right-click for controls
Ice crystals on a window
No art by human hands: ice crystals on my
window, winter 2014

We tend to think of liquid as something conforming to existing patterns. Nature often gives the best examples: the water in a river flows toward the sea, constrained by the contours of riverbanks and islands. But over time, this water will erode shores and islands to create entirely new pathways where water will travel to new places, fertilizing new land (not unlike the creation of new synaptic connections in the learning brain). We might say that liquid, remaining the same, also evolves through time.

The German philosopher Friedrich Schelling once wrote that the pursuit of authentic ("absolute") knowledge is the pursuit of a line of thought wherever it might lead, regardless of whether or not it is consistent with a pre-existing, unified system of knowledge. And from all of this comes the concept of LiquidFractal - free thought and open learning which fearlessly strikes out on its own path regardless of where it ends up.

Originally my private research site while I was researching and writing my doctorate at the University of Western Ontario, LiquidFractal.org soon evolved to meet the needs of colleagues, hosting discussions for the Theory and Romanticism Reading groups, as well as a special seminar on Kierkegaard directed by Leo Stan and sponsored by the Theory Center at the University of Western Ontario. Rebooted and reworked with state of the art CMS software, its goal is to become a meeting place for thinkers, teachers and learners of all levels to come together to debate and share ideas.

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About LiquidFractal

LiquidFractal is a proudly nerdified, independently owned and operated website which is unaffiliated with any educational institution.  Aside from its existence as a professional teaching, learning, writing and research site, LiquidFractal is an online environment where our members negotiate cerebral issues, blood-boiling passionate debate, politically incorrect nonsense, breathtaking hilarity and the requisite minimum number of memes and funny cat pictures required to exist online in the 21st century.  Oh...and zombies.

Please click About for more information on the site's concept.  Click the Professional Services tab to learn more about what LiquidFractal can do for you!

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    To contact the site owner about the website, or to inquire about tutoring, editing, research, or other professional services, please use the Contact link at the bottom of this page, or register/sign in and send a Private Message to Gord Barentsen. All correspondence is directly through this website; other methods (e.g., email, phone) must be arranged via PM.
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