scales from the molecular to the macroscopic — of certain patterns, such as
spirals, pentagons and triangulated forms. These patterns appear in structures
ranging from highly regular crystals to relatively irregular proteins and in
organisms as diverse as viruses, plankton and humans. After all, both organic and
inorganic matter are made of the same building blocks: atoms of carbon,
hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus. The only difference is how the
atoms are arranged in three-dimensional space.
structures having new properties that could not have been predicted from the
characteristics of their individual parts, is known as "self-assembly" (synergy). It
is observed at many scales in nature. In the human body, for example, large
molecules self-assemble (synergize)into cellular components known as
organelles, which self-assemble (synergize)into cells, which self-assemble
(synergize)into tissues, which self-assemble (synergize)into organs. The result is
a body organized hierarchically as tiers of systems within systems. Thus, if we are
to understand fully the way living creatures form and function, we need to
uncover these basic principles that guide biological organization.
that guide atoms to self-assemble(synergize)into molecules. They know even less
about how groups of molecules join together to create living cells and tissues.
Over the past two decades, however, I have discovered and explored an
intriguing and seemingly fundamental aspect of self-assembly (synergy). An
astoundingly wide variety of natural systems, including carbon atoms, water
molecules, proteins, viruses, cells, tissues and even humans and other living
creatures, are constructed using a common form of architecture known as
tensegrity. The term refers to a system that stabilizes itself mechanically because
of the way in which tensional and compressive forces are distributed and
balanced within the structure.
areas. For example, new understanding of tensegrity at the cellular level has
allowed us to comprehend better how cellular shape and mechanical forces —
such as pressure in blood vessels or compression in bone — influence the
activities of genes. At the same time, deeper understanding of natural rules of
ranging from drug design to tissue engineering — of the rapidly accumulating
data we have about molecules, cells and other biological components. An
explanation of why tensegrity is so ubiquitous in nature may also provide new
insight into the very forces that drive biological organization — and perhaps into
accurate operational definitions of plants, animals, and humans. He defined the plantsas
energy-binders, the animalsas space-binders, and we humansas time-binders.
Korzybski explained that:
animalsadapt to their environment through theirawarenessand controlof space. And
wehumansadapt to our environment through our awarenessand controlof time.
The powerof energy-binding is transformation,growth, and organization.
plant is a solar collector. It spreads its leaves and harvests the ultraviolet rays directly
from the sun.
soil organizes this energy and nutrients into growth through cell division. The growth of
the energy-binder and its self-propagation through progeny are the resultant of cell
division — if the cells remain together we have growth; if they split off into a separate
entity we have progeny. Energy-bindings have the power of organization. Organization
possible through the ability to time the release and binding of energy. Timing based on
knowledge — energy knowledge.
bacteria. We are looking at a simple rod-shaped one celled plant which can avoid dangers
and seize opportunities. Inside this simple one celled plant — there are four "boss"
molecules. This DNA molecules have a molecular weight of 2.5 billion each. Then we find
400,000 assistants to the bosses, RNA molecules of over 1000 types with an average
molecular weight of 2 million each. Packed between all of these molecules are about 1
million protein molecules of over 2000 different types with an average molecular weight
approximately 700 types with an average molecular weight of 300 each. All of these units
working together to bind energy, making controlled choices, adapting to their
environment, avoiding danger and embracing opportunity.
sense of proportion, we must recognize that life requires complexity. energy-binders
represent a much more complex order of organization that the most complex of non-living
molecules. If a molecule were likened to an automobile, then a cell is like an automotive
factory — a vast organization of men, machines, and computers.
information about energy. They remember energy events and from that memory make
controlled choices — energy choices. The plants think and decide. This is not human
thinking, now even animal thinking, but it is a form of intelligence — very powerful
energy intelligence. The plants use their power to bind energy — to organize, to adapt to
their environment. They must adapt by making controlled choices, which keep them
within the narrow corridor of life or they will die. They must avoid the dangers
threatening their survival and embrace the opportunities for growth and reproduction.
choices of the use of that energy, they have limited adaptability. Limited because they
cannot move. Plants are rooted to their environment. If a plant roots in the shade, it cannot
move to a sunnier place. If it is dying for lack of water, it cannot move to a rainier spot.
Plants lack the power of mobility. Plant growth is movement, but movement towards an
infinitely remote goal — the sun. Plant motion is in a constant direction, either away from
gravity or towards the sun.
Neutral relationships originate in the plantworld.
sun, and adequate water and minerals to survive. Plants are solar energy collectors. They
use the sun's radiant energy in photosynthesis to manufacture glucose, carbohydrate and
other plant cells. Individual plants do not relate to each other. They relate only to the earth
and the sun.
utilize sunlight directly to synthesize organic tissue frees them from the need for others.
This fact makes plants theindependentclass of life — independent of other.
plant's success or failure depends solely on its own efforts and talents. Individual plants
have no relationshipwith each other. Plants have no awareness of each other, they ignore
each other. To survive as a plant, you must be self-sufficient. Plants are the only form of
life that are trulyindependent. If we analyze neutral relationships, we discover that
individuals are unchanged by their relationship. They are neither less or more after the
relationship. They are the same.(1+1)=2.
neutral. Relationships which do not hurt or help are neutral.
The power of space-binding is mobility — the ability tomove about in space. This is not
the simple motion of plants. This is mobility — running, jumping, leaping, swinging,
swimming, creeping, stalking, crawling, diving, and flying.
shelter — and in any direction. The mobility of the space-binder is not just motion, it is
controlled motion. The space-binder moves in search of food. For grazing animals the
quest is continuous; for predators, occasional but more strenuous. And all animals are
under constant threat from natural enemies. The animal, therefore, requires sense
awareness — awareness of the space in which he lives. The space-binder uses his
awareness to find food and to warn him of the approach of enemies. A deer may be
motivated by thirst to go to a waterhole, but if it senses a lion, it will refrain. It must
continuously evaluate conflicting stimuli and choose between alternatives, alternatives of
pleasure or pain, alternatives of good space or bad space. Space-binders are aware of
space, they are aware and they think, they think and they decide — constantly making
controlled choices as to where and when to move.
situation. When the rabbit hears a sound in the thicket, he must react instantly, "fight or
flight" and the decision must be made now, based on the wholesituation. There is no time
for analysis. Only wholistic thinking has the rapidity and flexibility to allow survival in
the adversary world of space-binders. The power to allow animals move instantly towards
produces injury or death.
binders. While they cannot transform solar energy directly into organic chemical energy,
they can transform the tissues from the plants and animals they eat into organic chemical
energy, they can also grow, and they can also organize energy. To the fox who sees the
rabbit, success at seizing this opportunity for a meal depends not just on his ability to
know when and where to move, but also on his ability to control the energy which he will
need to power his movement. He must have adequate energy stored so that he can release
it at the proper moment to catch the rabbit. And the rabbit can only escape if it uses its
knowledge of both space and energy effectively.
Adversary relationship originates on earth in the animal world. Earth supplies limited
spacefor the animals. Space is finite. Good space is even more finite. Thus, it is very
limited. There is only so much good water, so much good grazing land, so much good
shelter, and so much good potential food. There is not enough to go around. The space-
binders must competefor this limited amount of good space. They competeadversarily.
They compete by fightingand flighting. They compete by attacking and killing other
space-binders. They compete by devouring the energy-binders.
finding plants to eat. The carnivores depend on finding other animals to eat. The animals
inability to utilize sunlight to synthesize organic tissue means they must eat. Animals
survive by eating either plants or animals. Animals are completely dependent onother
for survival. This fact makes animals the dependentclass of life — dependent on other.
of the rabbit who losesits life. On the other hand, if the rabbit is quicker, the fox loses a
meal, and the rabbit winsits life.
fightingand flighting— of painand dying. To win in this game someone must lose.
Winning is always at the cost of another. All animals, from the smallest insectto the largest
whale are struggling to avoid losing — struggling to avoid being hurt.
notice to go tooth and nail to avoid losing — to avoid death. Losers/winners is the
harshest of games. Winning is always at the cost of another's life. The loser tends to resist
with all of its might occasionally prevailing by killing or wounding its attacker. So both
parties can lose, turning the game — losers/winners into losers/losers. If we analyze
adversary relationships, we discover that individuals are less after the relationship.
(1+1)<2. In the animal world where the loser forfeits its life (1+1)=1. Or in the end game of
losers/losers, both adversaries may die in battle, then (1+1)=0.
dependent live forms.It is the way of all animal life. The adversary way is not bad for the
animals, it is nature's way. The animals have acquired the ability to move voluntarily, but
they lack the ability to understand their environment. Their inability to understand locks
them into the adversary world.
to chemical energy. They lack the full power of energy-binding. They are dependent life
forms like the animals and survive through adversary relationships with other forms of
life. This includes pathological bacteria and parasitic plants. This also includes the
carnivorous plants which possess a primitive form of mobility.
We humans are Time-binders. We possess the power to understand and through that
understanding tocontroland dominate planet Earth.
time. Understanding comes from the awareness of time— an awareness that allows
humans to experience time as sequential or linear.
the present, from the present to the future. Change is bound in time. And time-binders
understand change in space because they are aware of time.
make decisions based on understanding changes in his environment over time. Time-
binding analysis is sequential analysis — linear analysis — focused on theparts rather