Patternism, Clade Patternism

The study of cultural patterns specific to various clades

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A platform in deep space with four citizens of Orion's Arm watching a spaceship refuelling. Two nearbaseline humans, a spider-vec and a sapient tree.

Clade Patternism is a broadly based meta-school of art and design, with branches in fields as diverse as the fine arts, architecture, landscaping, urban and civic planning, memeplex design and maintenance, and industrial design. It is the study of a clade's innate, deeply programmed biases and resulting societal patterns, and the way these produce and are produced by the physical environment. The name is taken from the term, "pattern language" that was used in some early 1st century AT texts. However, these exploratory studies did not bear significant fruit nor become widely adopted until well into the Information Age. This was when interdisciplinary "consilience" studies tying together findings in diverse fields such as neurobiology, paleontology, sociology, ethology, history, various theories of art and architecture, and various practical disciplines placed Patternism on a firmer foundation. A few scholars have noted connections with schools of thought devised much earlier, from the pre-Spaceflight Age: the Feng Shui of Eastern Asia, the Pythagoreanism of Classical southern Europe, and similar systems of thought from elsewhere among Old Earth's founding cultural traditions. Others disagree, and consider these to be primitive and superstition-ridden parallels rather than true precursors of Patternism.

Early Patternist thinking was oriented solely toward human baseline needs and biases, and the "ideal set of human environments". Patternism became widespread in the period leading up to the Nanodisaster but its development was interrupted by the Dark Age that followed. It saw its first great flowering in the early decades of the First Federation. Later, when the First Federation was in its decline, Patternism was regarded with some suspicion, as a pernicious influence that was more disruptive than integrative in its effect on a multi-clade metapolity. The framers of the Second Federation Ontology restored something of Patternism's respectability by concentrating on what has been called Sec Fed Patternism. Since then Patternism in one form or another has been a constant element within the Terragen Sphere, sometimes as a specific movement and at other times as a general influence. The most persistent source of explicitly Patternist ways of thinking has been Ao Lai, where it first came to prominence at the time of the Snow Superiors Renaissance. It has remained a dominant element in the Gamma Leporis system, and the source of several waves of innovation since that time. A variant of Patternism, emphasizing rapid directed coevolution between communities of sophonts and their physical environment as an aid to mass transcension events, was first explored by the Abergists and has since been discovered or reinvented on several occasions.

Patternist art, structures, gardens, arcologies, and megastructures are renowned for the degree to which they attract, comfort, or stimulate members of the clades and cultures for which they are designed, as well as for their ability to influence both group and individual behaviour over time towards specific ends (greater or lesser hierarchy, harmony or dissent within groups, crime or suicide rates, and so on). Many of the Terragen Sphere's most famous classic habs and landscapes are built to Patternist principles.

It is commonly observed that Patternist objects or environments can be quite uncomfortable for clade other than those for which they were designed. A settlement built solely for the enjoyment of human nearbaselines may not see many resident nonhumans, other than members of clades with very similar physical forms and psychosocial profiles. Because of this, some artists and designers prefer to work towards broader appeal to a larger variety of clades, even at the expense of losing some of Patternism's strongest effects. On occasion, the principles of Patternism have been used to exclude clades that are seen as undesirable. Bioist portions of the Zoeific Biopolity are notorious for such practices, as are some of the more extreme mechanist polities within Metasoft domains. The reclusive Alchemists are a clade notorious for the use of this 'reverse Patternism' to repel other bionts and even many vecs from regions the Alchemists wish to call their own.

In the modern world responses to Patternism vary considerably within the Sephirotic sphere of influence. The MPA often adopts Patternist principles into its projects, since studies by the Ozymandias Institute show lower maintenance costs, and longer survival times for structures built according to Patternist principles. Solarists often discourage the most clade specific versions of Patternism as a divisive influence, as do many Negentropists. Caretakerists, though they are often silent on matters of cultural aesthetics, have lauded the most clade-based Patternists for 'increased specificity'. Some NoCoZo elements find the increased durability of Patternist goods and settlements to be an impediment to the planned obsolescence cycle, and discourage it, though they do use aspects of Patternism in targeting niche markets. For their separate reasons both the Zoeific Biopolity and Metasoft employ specialised versions of the Patternist memeplex. Keterists generally discourage full Patternism as a distraction, citing lower transcension rates in Patternist-influenced communities. However they do encourage Abergist-style coevolutionary Patternism. Sophics commonly employ specialized Patternist designs as an aid to spiritual development.

Outside the Sephirotic sphere, it is believed that the Diamond Network, particularly the Oracle Machine cult and other anti-human or ahuman factions occasionally use Patternist principles, sometimes as a warning or repellent device and sometimes, according to at least one source quoted in What The Thunder Said as a kind of bait.

Transapient sources declare that there are equivalents to Patternism for beings of the first toposophic. Darwins are said to be skilled practitioners. However according to the best information available transapients of S2 or other levels find the equivalent of Patternism irrelevant, except at the level of one's lower toposophic subminds or avatars.
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Text by Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 09 October 2006.