Heart of the Art

To the Heart of Living Systems


emma loftus


Acceptance can lead us to normalise and even ignore situations and events that we should instead stand up and shout about. Acceptance removes our desire to be heard, to fight for the things we believe are right and just and moral. In acceptance we become stalled and static, frozen, unable to move, blind to possibility and the promises in the tension of change.

The Philosophy of Freedom

The philosopher Steiner asked us to consider what is freedom. Steiner considered fundamentally that freedom is about relationship, about how we know what we know. In considering the world as a living system of living systems, in ‘systems thinking’ in our organisations we instigate the philosophy of freedom in its most basic and purest sense. Is it that as Steiner believed of children, that in doing this we allow them to grow and reach their best potential, unhindered by predetermined restraints and controls?

and so I swim

Swimming to me has become many things. It’s an escape, a reason, a passion, an obsession, a fury. And on days like today swimming gives me space and quiet amidst the noise and chaos of my life. An opportunity to feel nothing but myself, my being.

Emma- About me

It’s always an interesting question to wonder who am I? I could give you a list of adjectives, that while true enough, tell you little about me.

Discovering my system

I used to think of my body as nothing more than a machine. A series of components that function in predictable and purely mechanical ways to get a job done. To hold me, nourish me and keep me alive. I was floundering around in a body that felt old, with a mind devoid of spark. And then something clicked. ‘What if’? I thought ‘Everything is connected’? It was with a wild leap of faith and not without some imagination that I began developing a picture of myself as a whole physical being. A machine that pulses. But here’s the thing, you and the world we are all in is a system too. And should we treat our world as a mechanistic thing, made up of a series of separate components?
This way of thinking is convenient. It gives us quick fix possibilities; address the faulty component, treat the symptoms and move on. But what if, just like me, everything in this world is connected in minutely, infinitely, unfathomable, impossible ways? All of them beautiful. (By Emma Loftus)

The Butterfly Effect and The Doll Affair

When we think about operating in systems, doing systems thinking, we seek to find and understand how systems work and how we may work within them. But of course there is another question we need to ask when considering this way of thinking. And that something is why? Why do we need to think in this holistic tangled way in the first place? When for the most, our lives and the organisations, tasks, roles and people within them, function perfectly well in the very lightness of thinking that is simple and linear, A to B thinking. (By Emma Loftus)

Systems Thinking: The Super Power of Autism

It’s a sad fact that autism is still viewed as a disability. A disorder. That mis-wiring that characterises the neurobiological connections (or often lack there of) in the autist’s brain is at best considered a failing. But what if we look at autism differently? The absolute chaos of normal everyday life that drop-kicks those with autism and sensory disorder into meltdown and withdrawal, is in fact a super-power. This is systems thinking at its absolute beautiful edge, where every detail of the world stands out in excruciating, wondrous detail that can’t be ignored. This response to the unfathomable, the ability to absorb obscurity and sense pattern is not rigidity at all. It’s simply gorgeously mind-blowing. (By Emma Loftus.)

Not my circus, not my monkeys…

A circus is a system of complex, beautiful chaos, but sometimes the chaos becomes messy. It’s easy as someone who cares deeply to want to control the monkeys and control the mess, seeking once more the simplicity of the complex chaos of a perfectly performing circus. (By Emma Loftus.)

Wendell Berry: Peace of Wild Things

In The Peace of Wild Things, Wendell confronts the reader with the universal fears of what may be, what may happen. The fear we have of the unknown. The power of doubt. He reminds us that the cost of being human is an imbalance of heart and soul; humanity confronted with the flaws of civilisation and modernism. But all is not lost.

Understanding Focus

There’s a lot of focus on focus. It’s a core part of the work of psychologists and part of the heart of thinking about change in systems thinking. It forms part of positive psychology, Gestalt, coaching methodologies, and practices such as four orders and constellations, (to name but a few). But what do we mean and why does it matter?

Descartes: COGITO ERGO SUM ‘I think, therefore I am’

I am a thinking thing. But what if anything can I know for certain? I can’t rely on my senses. They sometimes mislead me. How can I be sure I’m not dreaming now?

Questioning Greatness

The world demands that our work and lives be great and meaningful yet gives no clues as to what that entails, other than leaving us with the somewhat humbling notion that we must somehow be great and change the world. Though whether that be for good or bad is left to our own imagination and consciences.

Uncommon Ground

The Photographer Dominick Tyler, is collating a glossary of terms used to describe the Great British Landscape. Along the way Tyler realised how much of our understanding of a thing, a concept, a place is dependent on the language we use. He realised that when we can’t connect through language, when we don’t have the ability to connect and share things, then we treat them differently as a result.

What’s love got to do with it?

Love has been held as the key epitome of human life since forever. Princesses, frogs, glass slippers, pumpkins and all of that. But there’s more to love than falling. Love isn’t just the act of being in love. It’s the act of feeling a part of the world. Connected.

At the Fishhouses

For me the parting words from Elizabeth Bishop in her 1955 poem At the Fishhouses, are a wonderfully allegorisation of the sea as a medium of knowing. A metaphor for knowledge and the intransigence of change.

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