Mark Frankenberg

(on Better Ways to Achieve individual and collective Health and Efficiency)
Mindfulness and Efficiency

I have been thinking about efficiency since childhood.  One of my first heroes, besides my mother, was my mother's father, William C. Hurt, Jr.  He was an engineer and very wise and practical.  I remember when he took me to the then new Washington Dulles Airport when I was 9 years old, to see the "Transpo - '72" exhibit.  He was happy that I remembered what he'd taught me when I was able to point out the piston casings on a steam engine there.

As a new professional in Ronald Reagan's Army during the 1980's I discovered computers before my unit did; and when I gained sergeant stripes I was introduced to rudimentary complexity problems regarding task-management and scheduling, and wrote simple computer programs in the evenings to aid in my day work.  While working out the steps for task accomplishment in these programs, and while learning various languages including x86 assembly language, I came to realize that much of the appeal of computers for me was (and still is) the concept of breaking complexity down into its workable component parts.  More recently I have read numerous books that contain descriptions of work that Alan Turing did (before he was killed by a sick society).  The "Turing Machine" concept, upon which computer science is largely based, is a model of breaking tasks down to their smallest components.  There is a degree of serenity to be gained and an elation of discovery when one sees the foundation of a solution.  When one is able to identify exactly what bit must be turned on or off in order to achieve a solution, or I suppose when bio-chemical engineers are able to point out which configuration of elements is responsible for a given activity, there is a peace in having traced complexity down to its root.  The flow-states achieved by effective artists and engineers is in part characterized by this serenity of contact with the foundation or essence of one's quest.

My comparison between the individual person and the collective society, which publicly began with my first novel over a decade ago, continues on this website.  For an individual, peace of mind can be attained through presence, or mindfulness, as teachers from the early Buddhists to recent figures such as Eckhart Tolle and Thich Nhat Hanh emphasize, and also through the focused flow of attention to the foundations of things as I mentioned above. 

Using mindfulness, we "watch the thinker" and gain increased control over our thoughts including our emotions.  We become more effective system administrators of our brains and can "click X" on undesired processes when necessary.  An attention to presence can result in a more effective lifestyle, wherein we achieve our own individual goals more often than in a life of distraction.  A mindful, efficient society likewise results from a "clear head".  Decisiveness means nothing and is actually a big problem if decisions are made based on a poor understanding of the situation.  Being mindful is knowing when there is corruption of the thought process, of what is noise and what is truth.  A mindful society has a clear picture of what constitutes issues requiring action.  Currently our country has a lack of collective mindfulness that parallels that which can be found at the individual level in people whose lives have been taken over by the excessive use of intoxicants or by other addictive behaviors: minds lacking clarity due to noise.  That corruption  was a key element in my first book.

-- Mark Frankenberg

Work In Progress
Version: 31may17a0200e