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Of Vital Interest: This Indecision is Final! Getting the Linear Pegs in a Non-Linear Whole – Part II: Non-Determinism

Mark R. Filippi, D.C.

Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research ~ Volume 4 ~ Number 1 ~ Pages 1-2


Way before there was virtual reality, there was the 4:30 movie. Typically, the movies had a theme for the week, like monster week or sci-fi week. One of the stock B-movies in the rotation was one called The Fantastic Voyage, which was my first experience of being “inside” the human body. For the chronologically-challenged, this movie was like Star Trek, only the setting was “inner space”, which, by the way is the title of a Martin Short flick of the same ilk. Anyway, the heroes of the Fantastic Voyage are housed in a shrinky-dink space ship, battle white blood cells, stomach acids and other “natural” phenomena for reasons I can’t remember and probably should. In any event, what I watched was not the model of homeostasis pitched to me ever since 7th grade biology. What I saw… was chaos! Even something as mundane as a simple breath, was portrayed as an adventure to behold by this knock-off Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

But as the years elapsed, and my “knowledge” of the human body deepened, my perception of The Fantastic Voyage became muddied with the push-pull style of Guyton’s Physiology and the either/or logic of allopathy. Everything fit too easy in these stories — the plot was predictable as you went from symptom to pathology to intervention and round again til disability and/or death ensued. It was a fatalistic model, best reserved for life-threatening situations, but not our everyday life experience. Out here in the world, we stumble and regain our balance, as BJ Palmer put it, slipping and checking, in order to adapt and survive, grow, develop and heal. This discounting of the familiar is what Moshe Feldenkrais discussed in his book The Elusive Obvious…

“Familiarity makes things, actions, and notions obvious. We are so familiar with speaking that everything about it seems obvious. Familiarity with our bodies makes most of our overall notions about it obvious. The same can be said about learning, thinking, dreaming, and about almost all the things we are familiar with. My contention is that speaking is not thinking, although we ‘obviously’ consider them as the same thing. Most people have difficulty in admitting this to be correct. I would rather say that the obvious to us contains all our scientific ignorance, and it needs more fundamental understanding and relearning than anything we think we know.” (p.145)

Chiropractic philosophy provides us with a great insight, a beacon into the fog of the elusive obvious, one that allows us access to the process of reality. Take a look at the words chosen by R.W. Stephenson in describing The Major Premise…

A Universal Intelligence is in all matter and continually gives to it allits properties and actions, thus
maintaining it in existence. (p. xxx)

This statement amounts to the “push” portion of Guyton’s Physiology. The universe runs on automatic transmission! No clutch, no parking brakes, and no jacket required. Taken into a more contemporary light, here’s how Charles Webber, Jr., Ph.D., a professor of physiology at Loyola University Chicago and Joseph Zbilut, Ph.D., from the Department of Molecular Biophysics & Physiology at Rush University describe their version of The Fantastic Voyage in their 1998 paper: Recurrent structuring of dynamical and spatial systems: Colosimo A (ed), Complexity in the Living: A modelistic approach.

“Living systems are governed by numerous interacting variables (high dimensional problem) with drifting parameters (non-stationary) in the presence of noise (internal and external perturbations).”(p.2)

What Webber and Zbilut are describing is called a non-deterministic system, one that embodies multiple levels of intention but a limited amount of attention. This asymmetry fosters a bias for relevant information, which helps the nervous system prioritize its adaptation to the world around us from the inside-out. This open set-up offers a manual transmission, wrought with stop and go traffic, as we shuffle the deck of consciousness to meet the demands of the environment.
So, in effect, the ideal push-pull world is interpreted as slip and check, as BJ had first offered chiropractic years ago. In physiological terms, a slip plays out as shift from one possible response trajectory to another. The check amounts to a coupled pause, a form of biological math, designed to bridge the space-time continuum, and provide us with the experience of continuity amidst an ocean of discontinuity. To put this in the context of adjustment-subluxation, it becomes “obvious” that the more familiar the nervous system gets with one side of this coin, the more “elusive” the other becomes.

The fatalistic model of allopathy makes us cover one eye and see either/or, but the lessons of The Fantastic Voyage teach us our well-being hinges on much more than the flip of a coin. The key to achieving a clinical application of The Major Premise involves allowing the abundance of possibility to filter through the diversity of each individual. Put simply, letting the adjustment speak…for itself.

With Turbulence,
Mark R. Filippi, DC

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