Day 1112: Emergent Complexity

Yesterday, I met my friend Peggy at the deCordova Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

The deCordova — with its amazing sculpture park, gift shop, and creative exhibits — has been a favorite destination for me and my 17-year-old son Aaron for years. The original plan was for Peggy and I to meet at the museum’s gift shop at 11 AM, but when Peggy  called me from her home in Worcester, at 10:20, to tell me she’d be a little late, she wondered  whether we should meet somewhere else instead, because the winter weather  would definitely interfere with our visiting the deCordova’s beloved sculpture park. However,  I just said no to a different meeting place, since I thought the deCordova’s gift shop and the main building would still be a great place to spend time, especially since my main goal was to hang out with her.

Is there any emergent complexity in this post, so far?

In order to judge whether complexity is emerging here, you probably need a definition of “emergent complexity.”  However, all the definitions of that, emerging online, have too much complexity for me.  For example, I found an  article — “Emergent Complexity : The Fourth Law of Thermodynamics?” —  where the very title seems questioning and unsure.

 Here‘s the least complex definition emerging online, in the emergent moment:

An emergent behavior or emergent property can appear when a number of simple entities (agents) operate in an environment, forming more complex behaviors as a collective. If emergence happens over disparate size scales, then the reason is usually a causal relation across different scales.

To help with the emergent complexity in this already complex post, I’ll explain that the term “Emergent Complexity” was used yesterday by  Marty, an incredibly helpful and charming staff person at the deCordova gift shop.

Here’s Marty:


Marty used the term “emergent complexity” when he, Peggy, and I all had different visual associations with this pair of earrings:


… which reminded Marty of jellyfish, Peggy of flowers, and me of flying saucers.

I wonder what emergent complexity in each of our personalities those different associations reveal?

There was SO MUCH fabulous emergent complexity to be discovered yesterday at the deCordova gift shop, thanks to Jane …


… who has been emerging at the deCordova  gift shop as a terrific buyer for many years.

Here’s some emergent, complex photographic proof of Jane’s incredible buying skills:


What do you think of the complexity emerging there, at the deCordova gift shop?

If the emergent complexity of any photo montage here is too complex to read, clearer and larger photos should emerge, if you click on them.

If you need more emergent complexity from yesterday, there’s more!

What best represents “Emergent Complexity” to you?

Before the ending emerges from the complexity of this post, here are more associations, from complex me,  about “Emergent Complexity”:

  • Sometimes, the complexity of thoughts emerging from our minds can interfere with our choosing helpful actions.
  • As I’m preparing for my try-out for “The Voice” next month, I can get tied up in the complexity of my thoughts and feelings about that, which might get in the way of my enjoying the experience.
  • The human mind’s complexities — with tendencies to go into the future with  fear of the unknown and into the past with regret about what cannot be changed — often interfere with the emergent riches of the current moment.

I look forward to the complexity of comments emerging from this post.

Emergently complex thanks to Peggy, Marty, Jane, the deCordova, and every other person, place, and thing contributing to the complexity of today’s post.  Special thanks to you — of course! — for all your complexity, emerging here and now.

Categories: definition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , | 33 Comments

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33 thoughts on “Day 1112: Emergent Complexity

  1. “Emergent complexity” could very well describe the process of evolution which makes it fitting that Marty appears to be wearing an orchid (I would guess a Paphiopedillum, since I used to grow those). All flowers are complex but the incredible range of orchids are a good example of just how complex they can be. And I remember when I bought my first orchid an experienced grower told me it was the first “of hundreds”. He’d started with one and had over five hundred–emergent complexity indeed!
    I never did acquire that many but I still enjoy orchids and now will think about how each part of an orchid, complex in itself, combines with the others to create an even more complex whole.

    • I love the emergent complexity of your comment, Chris, as well as the emergently complex fact that when I asked to take Marty’s picture yesterday, he asked me to wait until he put on that orchid.

  2. The emergent complexity is that I cannot get out of here!

  3. I love seeing the museum’s gift shop via your iPhone camera Ann! My secretaries and I will be taking a field trip soon to the Seattle Art Museum. I hope their gift shop is as wonderful as the deCordova’s.

    • I love seeing your comment via this emergently complex post! I hope the Seattle Art Museum and its gift shop provide enjoyable complexity for you and your secretaries.

  4. The emergent complexity is that I’m now writing a book. Harley shouldn’t have texted you that Ann was going there.

  5. When I am confused and frightened by life’s emerging complexities, as I am these days, then I like to remember that neutrinos can simply pass invisibly through solid matter. I try to be a neutrino.

    • Whenever you pass through here with your emergent complexity, Maureen-o Neutrino, I am very grateful that you are not invisible.

  6. Love the statue guy in front of the mirror, seems very indicative of today’s society doing selfies and such. Also loved the ‘old bags’ item at the gift store Anne! ❤
    p.s. They look like spaceships to me too. 🙂

    • I love all the emergent complexity in how you see things, Diana. By the way, the complexity of the photos fooled you: those are two statues — one is inside and one is outside the entrance to the museum. The complexity of that installation fooled Peggy yesterday, too — she thought there was a mirror and only one statue. ❤ xxoo

  7. I don’t know how this comment relates to the main theme of your post… However, I wanted to say that I absolutely love the deCordova! It’s been too long since I’ve been — I think a visit is in order!

    And I adore the push pins in the cloud creating shadows!

    • I adore the emergent complexity of what you see and how you think, Sandra. If you go to the gift shop and see Marty or Jane, say hello to them for me!

  8. I love what emerged from this post Ann! 🙂

  9. Looks like a wonderful time, complex though aspects of it may have been! Love that Hello Dali! You see the coolest, sometimes complex, stuff. ❤

  10. I think complexity makes simplicity attractive and vice versa, so I like periods of both, but neither for too long. I hope next time you visit the sculpture park in summer.

  11. I am totally confused, but I totally enjoyed the post. Is that emenent?

  12. I mean emergent…see how confused I am?

    • That’s my typical reaction to complexity, too — confusion. I’ve learned to enjoy the confusion and the complexity, as they all emerge. Thanks for emerging here!

  13. Emerging creativity, spontaneity and a fabulous day Ann! 💛

  14. Ok I have no idea what to say about this post so all I am saying is that I was here

  15. Has that naked man emerged from London’s Marylebone Road, or am I complicating things?

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