Voyageur Storytelling: Fourfold Vision, Tetrads, Re-Imagination, the MUDL Model

Friday November 26th 2021

Fading Away

Voyageur Storytelling has had a good run, from its origins in Yellowknife in 1998, to 15 years of Country Supper Storytelling Concerts on Saugeen-Bruce Peninsula, to the Stephen Leacock tour in 2017 and subsequent endeavours.

Now passing the torch to:

KnICH Magazine

A Literary Affair




Tetrads! Tetrational! Tetradical! Tetraddled! Tetraddicted!

This web site will vanish on December 12, 2021.

Meanwhile, weekly up-dates continue concerning current projects.

For information about old projects contact Paul Conway by e-mail at the address below.

This Week's Tetrad Pictoverbicon

November 26. A new variant heralded today. Surprise surprise! Natural disasters on both sides of the country. Surprise surprise! Nature strikes back after two centuries of ruthless abuse. Global heating & garbage choke are symptoms only. The underlying condition is the way we think, and live.

Press upon the Pictoverbicon to see the full 2021 array.


A Re-Imagination for 2021, Using Tetrads

November 19. How consoling Fourfold Vision can be! When we confine our minds to single vision we will always be disappointed, because the world cannot satisfy all the disparate (and desperate) single visions. Under Fourfold Vision there is always something positive going on. Try it and learn.

November 12. Nature's evolution proceeds by natural selection, negatively, through non-survival of the unfit. Human, humane evolution proceeds positively, haltingly, from one half-(or less)-truth to the next, step by incremental step, through Resolute, Sane, Orderly, Continuous Social Reform.

November 5. Why do I keep harping on Fourfold Vision and Complex Thinking for Complex Times? Because I see no sign that these necessities are being recognized as such in the wider world, especially the political and media worlds so important to public discourse. We are awash in simplicism.

October 29. I propose replacing the beaver with the star-nosed mole, an amazing gift of Evolution who, tiny and visually nearly blind, forges its way through the underground or underwater world and feeds itself guided by the amazing organ on the front of its face. A symbolic beast indeed.

October 22. While re-examining our history in the spirit of Truth & Reconciliation can we retire the beaver as a national symbol? I fear its role in the story will not stand up to scrutiny. Instead I nominate the star-nosed mole, whose image appeared here last week. I'll explain next week.

October 15. The Mudl Model seeks Fourfold Fusion through promotion of Fourfold Vision: Complex thinking for complex times. Fragments of little pictures do not cohere into Big Pictures without a coherent idea of how they can. Individual and Collective are intimate complements, not polarities.

October 8. You will perhaps notice that the Tetrad panels on these weekly images don't change much. The Mudl Model works,—i.e. cultivates Fourfold Vision & the humane conditioning of minds,—through repetition of Words in Tetrads. Read them over & over until they stick. That's all it takes.

October 1. After all that politics it's good to return to the old routine, although it would be nice if some old routines were replaced by new, such as old routine pollution, old routine inequality, old routine violence, and old routine resistance to complex thinking in these complex times.

September 24. Voting ends. Votes are counted. Results appear. Winners rejoice. Losers mourn. Pundits flourish. Life goes on. Has complex vision triumphed over simplicism? Perhaps, in some collective sense. And what are politics, community, all about if not cultivation of some collective sense?

September 17. Voting day coming! I am imagining a Fourfold Profile for each choice: Quality of Local Candidate; Party Cast of Mind (based on platform); Party History; and Leader, in that order. I am going to try to imagine all four folds at once, as Fourfold Vision requires. Here we go!

September 10. I am asking myself (because no one else has asked) what "Re-Imagination" would look like if we had it. Would it look like what we saw last night (at the English language leaders' debate)? The media sponsors said, "We like sound bites. You will therefore talk in sound bites, and if you don't, we'll cut you off." A terrible arrogance.

September 3. This Fourfold Vision campaign is about how people think, favouring complex thinking for complex times. What kind of thinking is behind these outraged protests against vaccination? Vaccination is basic civility— nothing to do with rights. If Fourfold Vision is too much can we at least try Twofold?

August 27. The CBC asked me (& others) to suggest questions for leaders' debate. I suggested a question about Re-Imagining. What would our leaders like to imagine in a cross-Canada Re-Imagining? They asked what I feared most. I replied: lack of imagination, lack of courage, in government.

August 20. Such an abundance of interesting choice! We can only rejoice. We now get to assert our sovereignty. BW Powe dreamed of a Canada of Light. So do I. I dream also of a Canada of Imagination, of elections as a time for Re-Imagination. I haven't seen much yet, but I keep looking.

August 13. Christine Louis-Dit-Sully offers a new tetrad: Humanism + Universalism + Individual Agency + Use of Reason. This is clear-thinking, hard-headed stuff; difficult. So is Knowledge + Imagination + Compassion + Humour. We make progress. It does not make itself. Re-Imagine. Re-Work.

August 6. A virus may be telling us there is something wrong with the way we live. Nature is certainly telling us there is something wrong with the way we live. Are we listening? Are we prepared to live differently? Or are we hoping to blot these messages out with technological magic?

July 30. If the tetrad of our dreams is Comfort + Convenience + Safety + Amusement, then how are we ever going to deal with Disease + Pollution + Inequality + Militarism? Any effective measures are going to blot the tetrad of our dreams, one way or another, or several. There is no magic.

July 23. Where does the capacity to make good decisions come from, when situations are complex and full of contradictions, and the data insufficient for guidance? "Evidence-based decisions" are only plausible if we have sufficient "evidence", a high standard, rare in public affairs.

July 16. These days I am urging Fourfold Vision. We see too much single vision. Fourfold Vision: the art of looking at complex situations in complex ways. What's the alternative? To look at complex situations in simple-minded ways? That is a form of separation from reality, an insanity.

July 9. Relativity promises us a four-dimensional Continuum (Tetrad!) of LENGTH + BREADTH + HEIGHT + DURATION. We deny ourselves the pleasures of continuum life by chopping our landscape into lots with survey grids and our time into intervals with clocks. To Re-Imagine is to break free.

For July 1: Canada. A country to be caught by tickling not by running at it with your head. A both-and country whose reality is how it is imagined. A kaleidos of a country, of heaving, fluid stuff. An expanse of a country. A fold of a country. A process. A learning. A teaching. A passing on.

June 28. The MUDL MODEL is a formal algorithm founded on FOURFOLD VISION. It uses TETRADS in strings and layers to fuse


(the Ur-Tetrad, a Stephen Leacock legacy)

and thus evoke THOUGHTFUL DECISIONS. It is real, natural, not artificial intelligence. It is evolving into a tool for RE-IMAGINATION.

June 25. A Tetrad is a four-word poem striking a glancing blow at some truth, performing itself through self-imposed restrictions, a passage for the mind. A Tetrad is a compound word, an opening toward a "Great Re-Set" for a world of Interdependency + Complexity + Velocity + Uncertainty, an aid to Re-Imagination.

June 18. The Prime Minister wants us to "re-imagine the Economy" post-Covid. Why stop there? Why not re-imagine Society? Why not re-imagine Canada? Why not re-imagine Re-Imagining? There are no limits to what can be imagined. Difficulties getting there perhaps, but so what? Air-castles first, then foundations, as H.D. Thoreau recommended.

The MUDL Model's Mission is to help re-imagine a country (Canada) whose political centre philosophically is Liberal + Conservative + Progressive + Libertarian, and whose ideals are PLURALISM + IDEALISM + PRAGMATISM + DEMOCRACY. The cause is Democracy, Social Justice and Wise Decisions. Fourfold Vision aided by Tetrads, in model form, is evolving as a tool. There may be others, but they must be able to handle the complexity and not try to reduce it to simplicity.

In the evolution of human mental capacity, that is where we need to go next. Our way of life is Complex, Interdependent, High-Velocity, and rife with Uncertainty. Our ways of thought need to be able to handle that. The MUDL Model of Fourfold Vision, using Tetrads, is so designed. I will post progress reports in detail on KnICH Magazine, with encapsulations here (until December) and on Twitter and Facebook. Spread the word, please.

June 10. The MUDL MODEL is TETRADICAL, pursuing THE UNSOLVED RIDDLE OF SOCIAL JUSTICE (another Stephen Leacock legacy) and other vexing contemporary imperatives by raising BOTH-AND THINKING to the FOURTH POWER.

To operate the MUDL Model place your KNOWLEDGE + IMAGINATION + COMPASSION + HUMOUR into a STATE OF READINESS and CONTEMPLATE the TETRADS. These are sets of loaded words, packed with Implications & Ramifications. Let their light shine upon the ISSUE AT HAND. Let your mind play.


2021 Progression

May 27th

A Fourfold Vision of Canada


June 3rd

A Democratic Tetrad


June 10th

A Tetrad for Social Justice


Notes made in 2020, leading into 2021:


Fourfold Vision and associated prophetics applied to public affairs.

See recalled pictoverbicon below.

Twofold, Threefold, Fourfold, and Morefold = Fourfold Vision

Complex Thinking for Complex Times

Onefold = Single Vision: Inadequate

Tis fourfold in my supreme delight

And three fold in soft Beulahs night

And twofold Always. May God us keep

From Single Vision ... (William Blake)


Earth + Water + Air + Fire

Life + Beauty + Grace + Choice

Nature + Culture + Unity + Diversity

Prosperity + Health + Security + Freedom

Pluralism + Idealism + Pragmatism + Wisdom

Knowledge + Imagination + Compassion + Humour

Fourfold Vision + Unsolved Riddles + Both-And + Muddle


Fourfold Vision in Public Affairs:

(Tetrationality Forever!)


To Benefit the Common Weal

To Advance Social Justice, Unsolved Riddles and all;

To Nourish Human Contentment;

To pursue sane, orderly and continuous Social Reform.

the Prosperity necessary to it

the Society necessary to it

the Culture necessary to it

the Environment necessary to it

the Democracy necessary to it

the Government necessary to it

the Security necessary to it

the Education necessary to it

the Understandings necessary to it

in particular of

Pluralism :: Complexity (Muddle) :: Overview :: Both-And

and the consequent need to cultivate

Knowledge + Imagination + Compassion + Humour

(the Stephen Leacock Tetrad)

Other Useful, Attractive, but Insufficient Casts of Mind

The Mariposan

Fragmented, Incomplete, Inconclusive

Muddled, Sometimes Inefficient, Democratic

The Ideological

Clear, Convinced, Sometimes Closed

Enticing, Unworkable, Inclined to be Authoritarian

The Scientific

Intensely Focussed, Rigorously Disciplined, Fragmented

Enticing, Impatient with Context, Sometimes Dogmatic

The Literary Cast of Mind, properly mobilized, retains the advantages of all three

while avoiding the traps.

Much more could be said, and will be.

Since Stephen Leacock's book (The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, 1919-20), and maybe earlier (Henry George, Progress and Poverty, 1879) the cohabitation of Social Justice and Unsolved Riddles has been known, effective, and sometimes deplored. Conversations surrounding the attempt to marry them officially and thus make their relationship respectable yielded the following ideas, general in scope, specific in application, and blessed by their mutual attraction:

(1) Make a Mantra of Social Justice. At present it seems that the words we hear most often in public discourse are "The Economy", meaning economic growth of the common, quantitative kind, measured by a very small number of indicators, such as GDP, the stock market indices, or (un)employment. We should elevate 'Social Justice' into that dominant position, and think of economic affairs as simply one tool in the box.

(2) Complex Thinking for Complex Reality. The cumulative effect of democratic, industrial, and commercial progress in the past few centuries has been a hugely complex, interactive society, or set of societies, seeking to satisfy individual, local, national, regional, and global imperatives. In order to make those our servants rather than our masters we need to think as complexly as they are. Simplicities, however consoling, cannot do the job.

(3) Sane, Orderly, and Continuous Social Reform. There is no magic formula. If something needs improvement, work to improve it. If we try something that works, we should do more of it. If we try something that doesn't work, we should try something different. We may in fact work that way naturally. We need to trust the process, and distrust those who are impatient, dogmatic, or authoritarian.

(4) Education. All advancement of any kind begins here, and not only with schooling, important as that is. The humanaculture of learning and teaching needs to permeate public discourse and private aspiration.

(5) Social Safety. We cannot call ourselves socially just as long as anyone is in distress through no fault of their own, and we need to be very careful in our judgements about fault. What looks like fault is often our lack of understanding. In particular children should not inherit the misfortunes of their parents.

(6) Fitting Taxation. In order to provide the public services and protections so essential to Social Justice, we need to tax whatever creates or manifests material wealth for individuals and corporations, using a set of largest possible bases and at steeply progressive rates.

(7) Guaranteed Incomes. The Big Four pillars of Social Justce are, or ought to be: Income, Housing, Health Care, Education. If people have incomes they can help with the other three. If we don't guarantee the income we pay a huge price trying to provide the others.

(8) Right Œvirsagas. Œvirsagas are the macro-stories we tell ourselves in order to know who we are, where we are, where we have been, and where we ought to be going. They are the propaganda we generate for ourselves, in order to keep us focussed and energized.


A Tetrad of Post-Covid19 Specific Measures

based on lessons learned

(1) A Guaranteed Annual Income. If we had had that from the beginning the social safety net it would represent would kick in automatically for those in need.This measure would require higher taxation of the progressive redistributive kind.

(2) Massive Reform of Elder Care. Towards Home Care and minimally institutional forms of residence; away from large institutions especially those of the warehousing kind.

(3) Sophisticated Understanding of Risk. Covid19 is a new risk and we don't know how to think about it. We take risks all the time in our daily lives, especially with disease and accidents, and we know how to think about them. We need to apply the same kind of understanding.

(4) Journalism for Our Time. The present whip-saw oscillation between sensationalism and sentimentalism, along with grotesquely inadequate expertise in statistical interpretation on the part of journalists, is making any kind of contextual thinking extremely difficult for those who rely on regular journalism for understanding.

Your Host: Paul Conway

56 Brinkman's Road, R.R. 1

Miller Lake , Ontario N0H 1Z0 Canada


Thank you for your interest!

© Paul Conway 2021