In both contemporary literature and science, chaos has been conceptualized as extremely complex information rather than an absence of order. As a result, textuality is conceived in new ways within critical theory and literature, and new kinds of phenomena are coming to the fore within an emerging field known as the science of chaos.

The science of chaos seeks to understand behavior so complex that it defeats the usual methods of formalizing a system through mathematics. Among the controversial issues within the science of chaos is the word “chaos” itself. As the term gained notoriety, chiefly through James Gleick’s popular book Chaos: Making a New Science, it lost credibility within the scientific community.

chaos james gleick

Marked by scientific denotations as well as historical and mythic interpretations, it serves as a crossroads, a juncture where various strata and trends within the culture come together.

The word derives from a Greek verb-stem, KHA, meaning “to yawn, to gape”; from this comes the meaning given by the Oxford English Dictionary, “a gaping void, yawning gulf, chasm, or abyss.”

In this semiotic, chaos is opposed to civilized values as well as to the initiating act of creation.

That chaos has been negatively valued in the Western tradition may be partly due to the predominance of binary logic in the West. If order is good, chaos is bad because it is conceptualized as the opposite of order. The furor over chaos has made many practitioners in nonlinear dynamics feel it would be best to avoid the word altogether.

In general, scientific discourse adopts as its ideal univocality – one word, one meaning. Anyone who has seriously studied how language works is aware, however, that it shapes even as it articulates thought. Language is not a passive instrument but an active engagement with a vital medium that has its own currents, resistances, subversions, enablings, pathways, blockages.

The science of chaos is new not in the sense of having no antecedents in the scientific tradition, but of having only recently coalesced sufficiently to articulate a vision of the world. An important turning point in the science of chaos occurred when complex systems were conceptualized as systems rich in information rather than poor in order.

The Maharajagar aims to investigate these negotiations. It treats chaos both as a crossroad where various paths within the culture converge. It explores how insights that work against the grain of Western culture mingle with other cultural currents, changing and being changed by the resistances they encounter.

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