Academic journal article Tamara Journal of Critical Organisation Inquiry

Rubik or Rubric: The Cube as Bridge

Academic journal article Tamara Journal of Critical Organisation Inquiry

Rubik or Rubric: The Cube as Bridge

Article excerpt


Obsession/addiction may serve as bridges from Sartre's "being in itself", as epitomized by the discouraged worker effect of our ex-navy "cuber", through a cyber-island of "being for itself" where the obsession/addiction of the cube forces externalization (Sartre, 1943 (2003)). Ultimately the need to demonstrate proficiency causes the obsessed to journey across another bridge and identify with a "being for others". The discussion is situated in a modern world rendered liquid through change and the need to change. The illiquid being in a liquid modernity is insoluble and precipitates. The discouraged worker is such an illiquid being in itself.


Discouraged Modernity Being


In a documentaiy entitled "Cubers" (LeBlanc, 2008) Rafael Algarin [in photo] (CBC, 2008) refers to cubing [the solving of the Rubik's cube in timed competition] as his bridge from a dark place back into society. His dark place is one of failure, and diagnosed depression holding interstitially from the world in that small space where one is and can be seen but does not participate and is therefore absent. He has been pushed into this small space by his inability to understand and/or cope in the world of modern management and organization. He was unable to participate in his high school social life, unable to comprehend the norms of militaiy organization. He did not fit so he was moved aside, sent to his room by the working world. Solving the cube and the quest to be officially recognized as able to do so in less than 60 seconds, liberated him from his room, baby-stepping back into the light of society. He fails to get back into society but does not retreat back into depression?

This image opens an ontological arena of hobby and obsession as a bridge in the multi-dimensional space which is society participated in or not. The Rubik's Cube exists in three dimensions, ultimately the Cuber competes in a four dimensional space. Solve the three dimensions of the cube in the fastest time possible. Metaphorically, this activity bridges many vectors and conflicts. The obvious conflicts of path and choice in the solving of the cube in the competition for the fastest method of process to go from a mix of colors to six monochrome sides and the conflict between hiding in the darkness of depression and the desire to demonstrate the skill with the cube. The loner is drawn to the solitude of the pursuit but their success draws them to our postmodern internet world. That world is facilitated by technological bridges (websites, advice, technique descriptions, videos, and finally chat-rooms where roadblocks and ideas are discussed). A solitaiy sole can participate through screen names, avatars and remain anonymous. If interest is peaked he/she may be enticed into face to face meeting, discussion and competition, public success and failure. This bridge takes the cuber from the safety of his room to a larger space but still a space where he can be hidden.

How does this bridge compare to Simmel's bridge (Simmel, 1994) or the bridge as we see it in the physical world. A bridge is also a destination. We say, "I am going down to the bridge". Perhaps we go there for the view, the fresh air, to think, or fish. The journey to the bridge may lead to crossing it. We are enticed by the idea of using the bridge. The cuber approaches the cube in the same way. A destination, he might think, "I want to solve this thing". Some end up crossing the metaphorical bridge of the cube, from the solitary obsession of solving - to the organization of solvers.

Most of us have picked up a 3x3 cube, tried it, some have solved a side, maybe two. We flirted with reading the pamphlet and learning the "trick". But, we moved on to other tasks. A select few have found the cube to be engrossing, obsessing. The World Championships features events including blindfolded solving of a 5x5 cube. A modern alchemy of spatial manipulation. …

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