The human brain has the features of a complex system: It cannot be easily described by materialism or mechanism even though it is influenced by external factors, has a self-organising tendency towards equilibrium, non-linearity (unpredictability), and recursive (repeating) features. Complexity theory can predict and model computer algorithms, cloud formation and economic patterns with statistical formulas. A simplified, mystical and perhaps reductionist view could compare a complex system to a kind of animism or a 'god in the machine'.
Complexity is a cousin of Actor Network Theory which is used to describe human behaviour in sociology. Both consider internal and external ‘actors’ acting on an object to create states of ‘go’ or ‘stop’. Both consider objects to be reinforced and stabilsed with repeated action.
In contrast to Actor Network Theory, complexity theory considers a wider range of states than just stop and go: for example stop and go occurring at once (strange attractor), transition, and a movement in between states that involves disorganisation. Complexity thery allows for more disorganisation and unknowns, and is non-linear in approach but can nonetheless be used to create predictive statistical formulas.
Complexity theory can describe culture, and perhaps will one day allow us to predict the direction that art and fashion will take. Online activity, for example, could be measured. Statistical formulas for predicting societal behaviour are already used in the field of market research.
It has been posited that culture is an ultracomplex system evolving not of a single complex mind, but out of billions minds, and then millions of mediums (encompassing digital, vocal, mechanical, material expressions).
Equillilbrium within complex systems, which, according to the theory is necessary for their continuation, is attained through the system’s being neither too rigid nor too chaotic.
Postmodernity and all of its cultural corollaries remind one of chaoticness. Lyotard, paraphrasing Habermas equates postmodernity to fractured totality of experience into specializations ‘in the mode of that immense ennui' of succumbing to the chaos of disorganisation, which in the spectrum which meets at the extremes, equates to the ‘boring' hyper-rigidity of realism.
Art is the chaos-making, then rigidity bringing, balancing ‘actor’ within the complex system of culture.
Walking the line between chaos and realism, or making narratives out of nonsense, was the task of the Shadow puppeteer, the Preist and Surrealist, who mediated between cultural conventions and wild unconsciousness to banish deamons when times were too chaotic and excite a dull culture when they were too rigid.
The solution to postmodernity’s problems is not a linear progression towards order: It is a balancing act.