New Age: Part 4

New Age: Part 4

Posted on Jul 25th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
The New Age has some of its origins in organizations such as the Theosophical Society.  Besant and Leadbeater wrote the book Occult Chemistry where they claimed to have used psychic vision to discover the structure of the atom.  Also, it was the Theosophical Society that raised J. Krishnamurti as the coming messiah even though he chose not to take up this role and went his own way instead.  Theosophy was a part of the whole spiritualism movement which related to various occult groups and practitioners.  This side has been a bit lost in the lightness and fluff of the New Age, but the New Age tradition of channelled writings comes from spiritualism. 
All of the spirituality and religion of that time was largely in response to the industrial revolution and the rising of scientific materialism.  Mesmerism was one of those attempts to bridge the gap between spirituality and science.  This is partly why New Agers are so focused on material manifestations of spirituality such as healing and wealth, and why they’re interested in quasi-scientific theories about quantum physics and such.  New Thought ideas are getting some actual scientific backing from books written by people such as Lynne McTaggart who is a reporter on consciousness studies.
There is also an intriguing connection between the New Age and phenomena such as UFOs and conspiracies.  They’re two sides of the same thing.  UFOs and conspiracies, like much of New Age, is seeking rational explanations for the non-rational.

The basic connection is that there is much crossover between those interested in New Age and those interested in UFOs, conspiracy theories, and whatever else.  New Age types tend to be open-minded and curious about life in general (and some more extreme New Agers have a naive gullibility that allows them to believe in almost anything).  I mentioned that the early origins of New Age include spiritualism and Theosophy.  The occult in general is sort of the shadow of mainstream New Age, and the occult is mixed up with UFOs and conspiracy theories.  
I was reading a book by Vallee who is a UFO investigator and was one of the first people to make a connection between alien abductions and traditional folklore.  In the intro to one of his books, he mentioned that he had studied Teilhard de Chardin and appreciated his view.  Teilhard de Chardin is a name that comes up in both New Age and Integral discussions.  BTW there is much crossover between New Age and Integral in general to the chagrin of Ken Wilber. 
If you go to the alternative section of a bookstore, you’ll find books on New Age, books on such things UFOs and conspiracy theories, and books on Integralism.  Also, you’ll find books on New Thought Christianity and all other aspects of Christianity that aren’t deemed suitable for a normal Christian viewing public. 

There is another common element to all of these besides the type of person who is open-minded and curious.  Nearly all of these subjects have some connection to Jung and depth psychology.  Jung proposed the theory of archetypes that has become popular in the New Age, in certain sectors of Christianity, and in subjects such as tarot and kabbalah.  The idea of archetypes does come up in books about UFOs and the occult and Jung comes up a lot in Integral circles.  Jung was influenced by some writers of the occult, Jung wrote a book about UFOs, and Jung was a direct inspiration of Alcoholics Anonymous which was one of the earliest self-help groups.  Jung had wide interests and many New Agers share this trait.  Also, shadow work is becoming an increasingly popular topic in the New Age.  Of course, the belief in synchronicity has been a mainstay of the New Age for quite a while now.  Plus, the MBTI was based on Jung’s theory of personality, and the MBTI has become a big player in the self-help field.
There is another even more interesting side to all of this.  Intentional communities and Gurus are very popular amongst New Agers, but there is a dark side to this with Jim Jones, Charles Manson, and Heaven’s Gate.  Heaven’s Gate is an especially good example.  They were a UFO cult that was very New Agey in their interest in pop culture utopianism and their beliefs in alien/angels that would come to save them.  Many people who have alien abduction experiences are given messages by their captors.  They are made to feel special and that they have a mission to accomplish.  They are often told that the world is ailing or even dying, and that the aliens have come to save the planet or the aliens have come to save an elect few.  You can find similar messages in New Age channeled writings.
Basically, there is a very diverse connection between the New Age and various subjects that don’t seem very New Agey.  Even so, these connections go back to the beginning of the New Age.  Part of the problem here is that its nearly impossible to define what the New Age is.  It includes so much.  And if you follow the trail of connections, it can lead you in many different directions.  Its good to keep in mind that the New Age has slowly been co-opted by the mainstream (eg Oprah and Tolle, and The Secret), but the New Age originated in the unrespectable fringes of society.  Just as its useful to distinguish between New Thought and New Age, its also useful to distinguish between the early beginnnings of New Age and the contempory popularization thereof.  The New Age that is becoming popularized right now is in some ways a whole new phenomena.

This blog is posted in the God Pod.

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about 6 hours later

Cloud said

Thank you, your “New Age” entries have been very enjoyable and you hold a wealth of knowledge surrounding it.   And as you said, “Part of the problem here is that its nearly impossible to define what the New Age is.  It includes so much.”  My experience with the New Age and New Agers has been both challenging and challenged, by many people for many years.
Suffice it to say that the New Age has opened doorways to so many people in regards to spiritual unity and freedom.  It has definitely provided the opportunity for people to express their individuality within their personal beliefs and outside of the limits of dogmatic religion.  To me the New Age is a melting pot of worldwide cultures and belief systems, some ancient, some new.  And while it appears that the intention of the New Age is holistic and unified it is also, in some ways exceedingly empty and self-serving (i.e. false prophets, self-exalted gurus and self-important people charging exorbitant amounts of money for ceremony or participatory experiences).
It seems to me that Americans, in general, are at a loss when it comes to spiritual identity.  Structured, patriarchal religion no longer serves hardly anyone but on the same token, to “convert” the God to Goddess is merely a paradigmatic shift that creates a dichotomy devoid of balancing the masculine and feminine.  My personal favorite “term” for this Goddess/God is the great mystery.  It is a great mystery, regardless of attempts in naming it or owning it; no one really knows what it is.  It is not a he or she and it seems to be inclusive of all sentient and non-sentient beings.
My path for countless years has been an earth-based path, paying homage and attention to Gaia if you will.  In my own search for finding meaning and depth to my spiritual essence the Native American ways appeal to me, honoring and acknowledging the balance of Mother Earth and Father Sky, respect and awareness for all of the elements, directions, seasons, creatures, etc.  People who follow this path are often, unfortunately, accused by Native American people of being a New Ager and are accused of trying to steal their traditions.  This thinking on their part has allowed me to delve more deeply into the roots of these earth-based ways and to know, beyond the shadow of a doubt that they have been celebrated by countless peoples the world over since the beginning of time, to include medicine wheels, sweat lodge ceremony, various ceremonial dances, smoking the pipe and vision quest.  No one owns these traditions, these beliefs, these ways and for any one peoples to think they do is arrogant and selfish.
Another meaningful paradigmatic structure for me, and one that has been termed as New Age, are the works of Carlos Castaneda.  The man was a genius, how could he not be, having concocted an entire 8 volume story including all of its characters as a means to cut through the bullshit and connect to the simple, energetic beauty that surrounds us all.  Much of his work pulls from Buddhist and Hindu philosophies as well as early writings from mid-19th century Mexico.  Beyond the sometimes tedious words of his stories lies the opportunity to connect to the magic of life with awareness, personal power, integrity, efficiency and respect.
A blog post of mine from over a year ago included:  “We perceive that we have outgrown patterns and behaviors when all that has really changed is our capacity to utilize those patterns and behaviors in different paradigms, with more awareness and with more fervent justification.”
Let’s hope that the New Age is really what it claims to be:  A New Age.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 9 hours later

Marmalade said

Thanks for your comments, Cloud!  I always appreciate it when someone gives a thorough and thoughtful response.

I agree that New Age is a melting pot, and those with distinct traditions (whether Catholic or Native American) don’t like that.  New Age is truly the religion of the US.  The US is a melting pot of a country.  And, even though conservatives don’t like to admit it, there was great religious diversity and disagreement amongst the early settlers and founding fathers… not to mention the diversity of the native religions that were already here.

I don’t know if the New Age is really what it claims to be.  It is definitely something “New”.  However, as it becomes mainstream it will become increasingly codified and commodified until it becomes a new religion, but I don’t know if we’ll see a unified New Age religion in our lifetime.  I think Integral is doing its best to create a unified theology which is one of the first steps in the process.

Its kind of fun living in a time when a new major world religion is forming.  Its been something like 1400 years since the last major world religion formed (ie Islam).

Commenting on Balder’s blog about the Wilber-Combs Lattice

Commenting on Balder’s blog about the Wilber-Combs Lattice

Posted on Jun 21st, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade

Here is a blog post I commented on:

The Wilber-Combs Lattice and the Pre/Trans Fallacy

Posted on Jun 19th, 2008 by Balder : Kosmonaut Balder

And here is my comment:

Thanks for posting this Balder!  This brings up some important issues I’m interested in.

And thanks Jim for your perspective.  I think you’re right on target.

There is a difference between theory and experience.  And experience can be quite messy.  We don’t experience these coneptual categories because our experience is always a mix of different states and stages… and also a mix of various paradigms and memes that influence our views that are entirely outside of this model.

Even scientifically testing emprical claims is tricky when it comes to all things consciousness-related including divinatory predictions.  For anyone interested in the challenges of consciousness studies, I’d recommend Lynne McTaggart’s books or The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen.

God is in the manure.  This is an idea of alchemy.  The figure that represents the alchemical/individuation process is Mercurius and he is a Trickster.  Tricksters are known for breaking the distinctions between things… especially between intellectual distinctions such as prerational and transrational.

Mercurius relates to Hermes.  And Hermes acts as a mediary between the popular distinction of Apollonian and Dionysian.  Wilber’s view (or at least the model that he has created) is very Apollonian.  Whereas, Dionysus is about the transformative experience that can’t be understood or controlled.  Can integral find a way to include and use the Jungian model of the Trickster/mediary to overcome this divide?

Jim, you said:
“Would it be skillful for the physician to tell Lars that he’s not being rational about the situation, and that his belief that Bianca is a real woman is a “prerational” delusion?”

To play “as if” would be an act of the imagination.  The imagination is the realm of the Trickster.  Can pretending that the false is real transform it into a real positive result?  This depends on what is defined as real.  The imagination is about what is metaphorically real and this is just as important as what is rationally real.  Besides, the distinction between the two is never absolute.  So, how do we rationally speak of what is or isn’t skillful means?  In considering this question, I’d agree with what Jim says here:

“I would say that we can only tell in retrospect if we can tell at all if certain manure had the potential to help one develop in a transpersonal direction, and that ultimately we may not be able to tell, because we are talking about an organic rather than a mechanical process.”

And here:

“There is also a sense in which I think the PTF is like a grammatical rule that we learn to apply and then forget about.”

Also, like a grammatical rule, there are many many exceptions to the rule.


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Marmalade : Gaia Child

11 minutes later

Marmalade said

I don’t know how much Philip K. Dick knew about Alchemy, but he was probably aware of it as he studied Gnosticism and was somewhat familiar with Jung’s ideas.  I’ve mentioned before about PKD’s view of God in the garbage.  I’m wondering if he got this idea from Alchemy or if he came up with it on his own.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 1 hour later

Nicole said

Interesting! either is quite possible I guess. the archetype of the Trickster is so very vital and of course by the nature of it very challenging to pin down…

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

I just checked back to Balder’s thread.  No one responded to what I said not even to disagree.  I can assume that it simply went over their heads or they were intentionally dismissing it, but either way its clearly not friendly.  Obviously, I find it frustrating.  Integralists are like any other group of people devoted to a certain way of looking at the world.  I was attracted to integralism because the model provides the potential for seeing multiple perspectives, but I find few integralists live up to that potential.

I could talk in proper integralese, but I don’t find it an inspiring language or at least I don’t find many of the people who speak it to be inspiring.  To me, its just one view among many… true but partial.  However, it seems that many integralists take their model way too seriously as if its objectively true rather than just being a convenient map.  I love maps, but as far as I can tell the integral map shows in detail only a small area.

Why can’t such a view as I present be allowed within the sacred confines of integralism?
Why can’t Apollo acknowledge Hermes?

On an integral discussion board, I noticed a post that fits in here.  The person was asking this question… why do all of the integral sites seem to be losing their momentum, there activity in major decline, some even closing down? 

It seems to me that its the loudest advocates of integralism that are turning off the average person from being interested.  In the beginning, integral was attractive to so many because it had so much potential, but I think many people like me are realizing how little of that potential is actualized within the integral community.  Even the integralists are getting frustrated and closing ranks around a few bulwarks of integral theory such as pre/trans.  The innovative spirit of integral is dead and awaiting a new theorist to resurrect it, but as long as Wilber is around that probably won’t happen.

Many have complained about integralism being elitist.  I don’t think that is quite right, but not entirely false.  I’ve found that the integral boards aren’t very welcoming communities (often a bit aggressive and argumentative), and I’m not entirely sure the reason.  The friendliness and openness of the God Pod is something you’d never find on an integral board… why?  Is it as I’ve conjectured… that integral theory attracts more Intuitive Thinking types (Apollonian intellectuals) who are more interested in ideas than in interpersonal relating?

The reason I’m so frustrated is because I really do like integral theory.  One of my complaints about Gaia was that I felt that I resonated more with the community than the community resonated with me.  I don’t know if that is true for Gaia as a whole, but it definitely seems true of my relationship to the integral crowd within Gaia.

I’m not merely complaining based on this one incident.  I’ve posted comments and started a thread on the Integral Post-metaphysical Spirituality Pod, but there wasn’t much of a connection.  And I’ve participated on several other integral boards outside of Gaia.  I’m more interested in integralism than most people, and if this is my experience of integralism then what hope is there for this model fulfilling Wilber’s grand vision?

Basically, I’m trying to decide how I want to relate to the integral community here.  Should I just ignore and avoid them?  Or should I just trudge on assuming that eventually my viewpoint will be aknowledged?  I’m trying to focus my time spent on Gaia anyways, and so I don’t want to waste my efforts on being frustrated with people who don’t appreciate what I contribute.  Maybe I’ll stick to my method of commenting abou the integral discussions from the sidelines of my own blog.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

I just read through Balder’s thread again.  My frustration is not lessened. 

I’ve spent years studying integral and I understand everything they’re saying.  I don’t even directly disagree with what they’re saying.  In fact, I think they’re discussing important truths. 

Nonetheless, I can’t shake the feeling that so much gets left out of the conversation.  I’ve observed many integral discussions over the years, and there is a similarity amongst them all.  The same basic ideas get bandied back and forth, but new ideas are so rarely introduced or if introduced not given much attention.  Integral too often seems like a self-enclosed system.

I am interested in the model as it now exists, but I’m even more interested in how it can continue to evolve.  Restating the same ideas that have been discussed a thousand times before isn’t going to further the discussion.  Integralism needs new blood.

I understand that they’re wary of anything that stands outside of the conventions of integral.  They feel they have to defend themselves against the onslaught of the green meme.  I’m a strong proponent of many of the integral criticisms that are brought against the New Age.  But as it stands the New Age seems to have more potential and vitality for growth than integral does.  The New Age may simply take the best from integral and simply bypass it.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

My sense is that I didn’t get a response in that thread is because Balder (and others) didn’t feel it related to the topic of integral… even though it was in response to what Jim said and Balder responded to Jim. 

To me, this seems a vast failure of imagination, failure of vision even.  From my perspective, Jungian views on alchemy and mytholgy correspond with Integralism.  And if it doesn’t, then Integralism needs to be revamped.  Many other critics of Integralism have brought this up… such as Kazlev and Goddard. 

What do Integralists fear would happen if they opened up the gates to new (and old) ideas?

Why is Wilber the sole standard by which everything in the universe is measured?

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

Centria started a thread (based on her blog) about negative experiences and how we handle them.

Well, this is how I handle it.  I write my thoughts out and let myself vent.  It gives me perspective.  And sometimes it allows me to understand the situation better… which on a good day might lead to a more compassionate attitude.

So, how about my present situation? 

Only a few people commented to Balder’s blog and my comment was a fairly long one.  Balder responded to everyone’s comment except mine.  I perceive that as being the rudest that anyone on Gaia has acted towards me.  His dismissal of my comment obviously was intentional… I just don’t know what the intention was.

This leaves me to interpret it as best as I can.  Unless I ask Balder his reasoning all I have is his silence.  The question is how do I want to respond to this situation.  I don’t feel like asking Balder why he ignored me.  What I feel like doing is dismissing him in return.  He seemed like a decent guy that I might like to know, but this makes me doubt how nice of a guy he is.  Maybe he is nice.  I certainly don’t know the motivations behind his lack of a response.

In Balder’s blog, he has given lengthy responses to Julian.  And Julian has said some of the most confrontational statements I’ve heard on Gaia.  What am I to make of the integral community here?  This is an important question as the fact that many integral people being here is partly why I joined Gaia.  If the integral crowd here isn’t overly friendly, it puts a minor crimp in the reason I joined in the first place.  Fortunately, it turns out that I’ve connected with more non-integral people who seem more open-minded and curious than do the integral proponents around here… which I’m a bit surprised by.

However, I want to focus on this situation with Balder for the moment.  I feel hurt, annoyed, frustrated, even slightly angry.  Balder could’ve given a single sentence reply to just aknowledge my existence… but he didn’t.  I don’t know him and so part of my frustration is not even knowing why he chose to not respond even with a simple courteous comment.  Do I just accept that is just the way it is?  People do things that are unkind all of the time even people who are usually nice.

The thing is I’d never do what Balder did.  NEVER.  I wouldn’t respond to everyone with lengthy replies and ignore one person.  I said nothing to offend him.  There was no good reason for his ignoring my comment.  What kind of person is willing to treat people that way?  I know, I know… I’m blowing it all out of proportion.  But I’m doing so because I really don’t understand.  I was prepared to have Balder disgree with my view, but I didn’t even expect that I’d be simply ignored.  It took me by utter surprise.  Balder seemed like a nice guy and in my worldview that isn’t how nice people act.

Should I be sympathetic and assume the best.  Maybe Balder was having a bad day.  Maybe I offended him in some manner I’m unaware of.  The only thing I can think of is the discussion I had with him about his pod in an earlier blog of mine.  I was telling him how I didn’t join the discussions there because I didn’t feel like I fit in.  Maybe he took it as a personal criticism and is holding a grudge against me.  I just don’t know.  Maybe I just rub him wrong for some odd reason.

I guess its not important.  He isn’t obliged to respond to me whether or not it would be the polite thing to do.  I don’t know how to respond and so I guess I’ll just let it go.  Let go and let God as its been said before.  If I have offended Balder in the past somehow, then I’m sorry.  If I haven’t offended him and he simply doesn’t like me, then I’ll just have to accept that is the way it is.  If he didn’t comment to me for no particular reason at all, then such is life.

This small experience has effected me.  Gaia feels like a less friendly place because of it.  Balder is one of the more active members here.  Its not as if I can avoid him as he often posts in the God Pod.  My two ways of handling negativity is either to avoid it or understand it, but in this case neither seems possible.  So, I just have to try to process it internally.

It just makes me sad.  😦
I don’t like it when I’m sad.

I don’t handle negativity well at all.  If I feel too much of it, I just withdraw from the world.

Oh well… obladi oblada… life goes on…

BTW did I mention that I’m sad?

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said


I’m so sorry you are sad, honey! That does seem intentionally unkind. And I’m so sorry that Gaia feels less friendly because of it. I have noticed this kind of intentional ignoring before, sometimes of me sometimes of others, but not usually in a way that is important. This is very significant.

I doubt you have offended Bruce. I can’t understand why he would treat you in this way. Even unintentionally it doesn’t seem like him. He is so careful to respond to everyone.

Have you been able to let it go or are you still upset? Wish I could make it better…

Are you sure you don’t want to discuss this on the God Pod? Not the thing with Bruce, just the original comment about integralists, like what you say above. Start a thread and we could discuss it in detail. See if Bruce responds at all.

What do you think? I won’t do it myself, if you are not comfortable.
What I can’t figure out is why I didn’t see the notification of your other comments on this blog.  I didn’t see until today that you had posted anything else. So I want to respond to your earlier comments.

I think you have identified a huge problem with the integral movement. Here on Gaia we can have discussions on Integral on the God Pod, but even then they are problematic becaause of polarisation and disaffection.

The Integral Pod  is still on the top 10 most active pods, but it went through some really rough patches and had to reboot. It’s only so active now because they tend to discuss controversies, so they’re not really discussing Integral much. So in a way it also proves your point.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

Thanks for stopping by Nicole.  I know you have your own emotions to process at the moment.  (BTW I’d be curious to hear how you process.  Journalling?  Going for a walk?)

I do feel relatively better.  A venting session like that and some good sleep often does the trick.

I’ve decided it probably isn’t something to be taken personally.  Balder’s lack of response probably had nothing to do with me.  One thing, a blog is like someon’s personal space.  He is interested in integral and he didn’t see my comment as appropriately inegral.  I’ve noticed that integral types have little tolerance for ideas outiside of integral conventions.  I’ve noticed many times an integral person become impatient and frustrated because someone was once again trying to introduce non-integral ideas into an integral discussion.  The feeling I sense from a person when they’re like this is that they feel the person doesn’t understand or respect integral.  Balder started his blog because he wanted to have a discussion about integral (as he understood it, not as I understood it).  He doesn’t want to deal with people like me in his own blog, his own personal space. 

I’m the type of person that integralists see as the greatest threat.  I was raised in the New Age and I’ve been known to defend the New Age against integralists.  I’m interested in Jung and the paranormal, two subjects that integralists have an uneasy relationship with.  I tend towards more of an open view towards ideas and I’m not as willing to classify certain ideas as clearly better than other ideas.  I prefer to see differences as simply differences.  I’m skeptical of the general attitude of integralism that was first modelled by Wilber: Apollonian, masculine, willful, ascetic, confrontational, defensive, rationalistic, idealistic, approval-seeking(from the academia), etc.

And, in spite of all of that, I love integral.  I love the models Wilber has created.  I’ve gained great insight from studying integral.  I appreciate how integral can be applied in practical ways.

Basically, I was totally into integral until I met various people who were even more into it and I was turned off.  One of those people that turned me off was a good friend of mine.  I’d known him for a while and we started an integral group with another guy.  I quickly realized that studying Wilber’s work was like an act of devotion for this guy.  He didn’t want to think analytically about Wilber’s ideas; he didn’t want to consider alternative viewpoints; he wanted to ‘study’ Wilber (somewhat similar to how you study a holy text).

This seems very odd to me as integral attracts very intelligent people.  Integralist remind me of the intelligent types I’ve met on atheist boards.  On those boards, there would be these people who knew what they knew and knew it extremely well, but they lacked humility and openness to new views.  They could talk about the minutiae of some particular school of thought or some particular set of ancient texts.  You meet these kinds of people on integral boards also.  When you join an integral discussion, you realize you’re dealing with people who have lived and breathed integral (ie Wilber’s work) for years if not decades.  Its daunting to face them in a discussion.  But despite their massive knowledge of this one subject, they often know very little of anything else (at least not with any depth).  They have some vague familiarity with other ideas, but those ideas just aren’t important to them.

This isn’t unusual behavior.  This is normal human behavior in fact… which makes it all the more sad.  For some reason, I had higher expectations of integral types because they seemed to have higher expectations of themselves.  Integralism has so much potential.  It is one of the best theories out there.
I realize I can’t expect everyone to be like me.  And, of course, I have my own issues.  But I just wish that online discussions weren’t so challenging.  Why is it so difficult to speak about differing opinions openly (without polarization, judment, and dismissive attitude)?  When I enter a discussion, I try to always give someone a fair hearing (as long as they’re not being rude or something).  As you know, I’ll go far out of my way to understand another person’s perspective, I’ll spend much time trying to see what interests them about a subject.  Or, if I feel confused or uninspired, I’ll just give a quick response to aknowledge them. 

I’m not perfect at this.  I’m sure at one point or another someone felt dismissed by something I said or didn’t say.  In the past, I could get argumentative when I disagreed with someone… which is something I try not to do anymore.

For some reason, it irks me when I run into people who are entirely committed to a single viewpoint.  I probably need to do some shadow work on that one.  Maybe I’m jealous because of my lack of an ability to commit to a single viewpoint, and then I idealize my non-committal nature as being open-mindedness.  Probably so… I rationalize my behavior as much as the next person.

Now, to your question of whether I want to discuss this on the God Pod.  Yeah, probably.  I need to think about how to present it.  I’d be curious to know what you’d think would be the central issue of such a discussion.  Integral’s lack of openness to new ideas?  I could bring up the defensive/critical attitude that Integralists have towards New Agers (and other non-rational metaphysics), but that has been brought up before.

I agree its important.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

3 days later

Marmalade said

I just love synchronicity.

Just today Theurj in Balder’s Pod posted a thread about Integral Ideology.
(and I posted the thread as another thread over in the God Pod.

Either Theurj read my mind or we were both reading the collective mind.

I’d taken that pod off of notification, and the only reason I knew about is because I looked at my friend activity.  I had asked Nickeson to be my friend a while back because I knew him from another integral board.  He has one of the most grounded and even views of integral that I’ve come across.  His comment is my favorite in the thread so far.

Ironically, Balder responded saying he didn’t think any of it applied to him.  Meanwhile, unbeknownst to him, he has inspired me to rant about the problems of integral for several days.

Anyways, that solved my problem of trying to figure out how to start a thread about this.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

4 days later

Marmalade said

To be fair, Balder does seem like an open-minded and self-questioning fellow.  In his post, he did say that “I may be deceiving myself – our shadows are notoriously hard to spot”.  And its to the credit of Integralism that this subject came up in the integral pod.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

4 days later

Marmalade said

Hey Nicole

You might find it interesting that my response to this situation is somewhat typical for an INFP. 

I took Balder’s silence very personally and blew out of proportion, and then I started obsessing over it.  I focused on the interpersonal dimension and conjectured about his motives all the while questioning myself.  My sense of values felt challenged and so I went on a miniature righteous crusade.  And yet I did it all without ever having to directly confront the person who was bothering me in the first place.  🙂

And this was only a minor annoyance.  Just imagine what I’d be like if I really felt like my values had been challenged.  To give you an example, some people conjecture that Osama bin Laden is an INFP.  INFPs might be one of the best types for being a terrorist.  Here is a thread where we discussed this at Globalchatter.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

4 days later

Nicole said

Wow, Ben… I’m glad you found a way to resolve it. Great self-analysis there. You are helping me a lot in my crash course on INFPs. It’s interesting to see you and Alan talk together in the God Pod. You are finding your way very well with him. He likes you and enjoys your discussions. Of course, we talk about you on the phone together at times, so I know this directly and not just by inference. It’s obvious by how much he interacts with you on the God Pod.  You are one of the few in the God Pod who take the time to try to meet him in the very unique space he inhabits… as well as myself of course lol Thanks for that.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

4 days later

Marmalade said

INFPs can have a very odd way of thinking and communicating.  To other people who aren’t INFPs, the odd comments and the constantly shifting tangents seem to have no coherency.  To an INFP, everything is connected. 

What others can’t see is the Introverted Feeling (Fi) of an INFP.  Fi gives the INFP a solid core that brings it all together.  An INFP can jump around a million ideas without needing to hold onto any given single one of them.  This Extraverted Intuition that jumps around in a very non-linear fashion.  As its their favored Extraverted function its how they relate to the world.  But since its not their primary function, they aren’t directly attached to it.  The INFP can get stuck in a single value but rarely in a single thought.

INFPs tend to gather bits and pieces of everything and stick it all together in a loose fashion.  INFPs can be intellectual but not usually in a very systematic way.  We don’t have the patience and focus to study one thing to the exclusion of all else.  So, this means we can our knowledge has breadth without depth if we’re not careful.  Depth is in our values, but that is hard to communicate even to ourselves.

I grew up with an ENTJ dad who taught me how to analyze and so I’m not entirely typical for an INFP.  I’m able to communicate in a more linear fashion, but my mind is always all over the place.

As such, INFPs might have some interest in integral theory because they appreciate any insightful viewpoint.  However, the INFP is forever saying: “Thats true, but….”  And an INFP has less of a problem with seeing two contradictory things as being true simultaneously.  To systematize one’s thoughts as integral theory does would be to destroy the beautiful complexity of life.

So, an INFP might come off as being ‘Green Meme’ to an integralist.  The INFP wants to see multiple perspectives and doesn’t want to judge any of them absolutely.  The integralists call this relativism and consider it inferior.  The INFP would have to alter their way of thinking (or at least communicating) just to fit into the correct view that integralists idealize.  Fortunately, INFPs are independent thinkers who are unlikely to change their ways for anyone.  Unfortunately, INFPs are stubborn who are unlikely to change their ways even for loved ones.

Anyways, its nice that Alan and I can connect as we do.  I know on my end that it isn’t important that I agree with him or even entirely get any given idea of his.  I understand the general way of his thinking.  I also realize that as long as you listen well and  don’t judge INFPs they tend to be easygoing people who just like to play around with ideas.  I can sense where his values are and as a fellow INFP I respect that inner certainty.  I just present my view as my view.  At times I’m left clueless by what he means and so I respond with silly humor.  Most INFPs love silly humor.  Its hard for INFPs to stay serious for too long.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

4 days later

Marmalade said

About this situation, I didn’t really need any responses from anyone else even though its always nice to have a sounding board.  INFP’s have a knack of seeing all sides to a situation on their own if given enough time and if given the space in which to contemplate it.

INFPs get perspective from Ne which means they have to throw out every possible idea they can think of.  Their Fi sorts it all out in terms of relevance, but first it all must be considered.  No rock must be left unturned.

If you just active listen to an INFP while nodding your head (and maybe throwing out a few alternative possibilities), they’ll probably figure it out.  They just need support in their own processing.  INFP’s have a faith in their Fi.  They may not immediately understand, but they assume that it must make sense one way or another.

Though, if their processing fails, they will be strong in their blaming others.  If their Ne can’t help them, then they fall back on their Fi which can tend towards black/white thinking (wrong or right, good or evil).

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

5 days later

Marmalade said

I noticed Balder’s most recent comment in the discussion that started this whole rant of mine.  At the end of his comment, he says:

“This, at least, is the conclusion I come to when I attempt to “think inside the box.”  In other words, I’m not saying this is how things are; rather, I’m looking at the “model” and tracing out its implications (as I see them), to see how well they serve us.”

I’m not sure but that sounds like he may be taking seriously the criticisms of the Integral Ideology thread.  He is being self-conscious of the fact that there is a box he is thinking within.  He explains that he is looking at the implications of the “model” in order “to see how well they serve us.”  This seems to imply that he is considering how worthwhile it might be to think outside of the box.

In an earlier comment, he said this:

“As Jim points out, and as you pointed out also, this topic can get somewhat complex and difficult to sort out, in part because of the nature of the subject but also because Wilber’s language has sometimes been rather vague.”

I am in agreement with him about this.  This is something that both the proponents and critics of Wilber agree upon. 

Wilber is often not very clear and even people who’ve studied him for decades aren’t always sure what Wilber’s position is.  Plus, there is the complaint that its impossible to determine Wilber’s true position because he is always saying that statements he made previously no longer represent him.  He’ll refer to his present position being clearly stated in the notes 7b of such and such book, but of course the notes to his book are somewhere on his site rather than actually in the book itself.

So, if its so confusing, then what good does it do for the average person?  Heck, what good does it do for those who are willing to spend years trying to decipher Wilber?

Nicole : wakingdreamer

5 days later

Nicole said

Ok so my response is in two main parts:

1) I really appreciate your in depth analysis of INFPs. It totally resonates with my observations of him, and a lot of our conversations have a randomness because of that. He tries to be linear because of me but clearly it’s a struggle. 🙂 I can feel his attention and mind jumping all over. And superficiality is a danger for him, one I think at some level he tries to avoid.  Still just beginning to know him so it’s hard to be sure about much. But this really really helps, Ben. Thanks.

 And silliness is so much a part of him. Example: Yesterday, I booked the B and B I will be staying in when I’m in Scotland in early August. We were both amazed to realise it is literally one block from the flat his brother and he share. He kept saying, “But I don’t remember seeing a B and B there” and noticing that I was becoming nervous, began this elaborate story about how it was probably Brigadoon, and that I would end up 300 years in the past… I kept telling him to stop and he kept spinning the story, in sheer delight. It took him …. a long time before he relented and told me that when he walked out to look at it, sure enough, he just had never noticed it. 

It’s also really helpful to know you didn’t really need any feedback. I always give it compulsively, but I did see you were working it through all by yourself and doing a perfect job. This too will help me with him, if I can just remember to bite my tongue when I am tempted to give him advice (something I realised I needed to do almost from the first day by how he reacted to something, doesn’t matter what) all goes much better.

2) Bruce is very thoughtful and I agree that he probably does see these things. Wilber’s frustrating disowning of his previous ideas is very confusing indeed, and one of the many reasons he can only be one of many sources for a balanced Integral perspective.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

5 days later

Marmalade said

I was starting to forget about Balder’s blog, but finally someone responded to what I said.  Jim made some comments which is fitting as I was largely responding to him in my comment.  I’m assuming that either this blog or the Integral Ideology thread brought me to the attention of Jim.  I just wish I had received a response without having to go through all of this hullabaloo.

Jim was friendly towards me in his comment and I appreciated that he brought up Mindell as that is another interest of mine.  But why couldn’t he have responded earlier?  We could’ve spent this whole time discussing how ideas such as Mindell’s relate to Integral models.  At least, the opportunity has now arisen. 

The only problem is that I don’t know how much I feel like participating in Balder’s blog.  I feel turned off from the integral community right now.  For instance, the only integral proponent that responded to the Integral Ideology thread in the God Pod was Albert and he has an aggressive quality about him… which seems fairly typical of many integral proponents.

I was just observing something about integral discussions.  When I bring up criticisms or alternative perspectives, I get a feeling that I’m not quite being treated as an equal or there isn’t precisely a sense of connection.  Its partly that it seems participants in integral discussions have to somehow prove themselves.  I don’t want to prove myself.  I just want to have a friendly conversation.  Also, comments in integral discussions can feel more like lectures or arguments.  They don’t entirely feel inviting.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

5 days later

Marmalade said

“It’s also really helpful to know you didn’t really need any feedback. I always give it compulsively, but I did see you were working it through all by yourself and doing a perfect job. This too will help me with him, if I can just remember to bite my tongue when I am tempted to give him advice (something I realised I needed to do almost from the first day by how he reacted to something, doesn’t matter what) all goes much better.”

I hear you about that difficulty.  You’ve hit upon the difference (and potential conflict) of Fe vs Fi. 

I don’t have a lot of experience with dominant Fe types, but Fe came up a lot in discussions at Globalchatter.  Some INFPs have a very strong reaction to Fe.  To an INFP, it could feel meddlesome or even manipulative. 

I’d like to hear more about your experience of Fi.  I’m sure it must bother you sometimes.  We Fi types aren’t as tactful as Fe types.  We’re not very easygoing when worked up, and we’re not very emotionally expressive except when very relaxed or very worked up.

This blog of mine is an interesting experiment for you to observe.  I used to journal a lot.  But now I’ve started using this blog somewhat like how I used my journal in the past.  This means that I’ve made my personal processing a bit more public.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

6 days later

Marmalade said

I was reading more closely the comments by Tulim in Balder’s blog.  They were amusing.  Tulim’s second comment makes my original comment seem pretty in-the-box.  Tulim had enthusiasm, but I could tell right off that he wasn’t going to get a response from that crowd.  In a different situation, I might’ve asked Tulim some questions just for curiosity’s sake.

Tulim was saying how he was playing with lego’s to try to understand how it could be modelled differently.  Playful imagination… that is one of the things I’ve been thinking about lately.  Integral types seem to lack playful imagination or at least integral discussions seem to.  I admire the ability to wonder.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

6 days later

Marmalade said

In case anyone was wondering, I truly don’t feel bothered by any of this at the moment.  I wish it could’ve turned out differently such as having a nice conversation with Jim.  Now that Jim and I know that we agree on some things, maybe the next time we meet we’ll have the conversation that we didn’t have this time.

I realize that I could’ve responded to this situation differently and by doing so it might’ve turned out differently.  However, possibly no matter what I would’ve tried to do, Balder might simply not have been interested in what I was interested in.  I had expectations that Balder apparently doesn’t share.  Of course, often when I have expectations, I end up disappointed.

All I can say is that I was true to myself.  I responded in my own fashion imperfect as it might’ve been.  I’m not entirely dissatisfied with how it turned out.  The God Pod discussion was fairly interesting.

I hold have any major issues towards Balder or the integral community here on Gaia, but there is now a bad taste in my mouth.  I think I’ll mostly or maybe entirely avoid integral discussions that occur outside of the God Pod.  The God Pod may be the only place where an open discussion of integral can occur.  Thank God for the God Pod.  I hope Jim decides to join in at the God Pod.  Then, life would be good.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

7 days later

Marmalade said

I noticed Balder did respond to Tulim in a very polite manner.  I wouldn’t be surprised if his response was inspired by my comments here.  He probably wanted to avoid another person going off like I did.

It makes me laugh.  He still hasn’t responded to anything I said even though I posted some further comments to Jim.  I very well may never get another response from Balder for the rest of my time here on lovely Gaia.  That is fine.  I’m sure its been a learning experience for the both of us.  🙂

Balder : Kosmonaut

7 days later

Balder said

Hi, Marmalade,

I’m very sorry for the impression you’ve taken from my silence.  I actually appreciated your comments and I believe I said as much on my blog, although I did not say that to you directly, and I can understand why you feel slighted.  Partly my silence is because I’ve actually just got too much going on, in my own life as well as online, and I just have not been able to keep up with all the conversations I’ve got going (I just apologized to Valli in IPS for similar lack of response).  But my lack of response was also because your response seemed more like it was directed to Jim’s first post, which was also not directly related to the topic of my blog, and I felt like if I went down that track, it would take the whole conversation astray from the questions I was wanting to explore.  Please don’t take this as overall closed-mindedness, or a dismissal of your points, however.  I did not intend that at all, and do not believe I am closed to non-Integral perspectives (I have my fingers in a number of pies; Integral is just one of them).

I have noticed that you’ve been commenting on IPS posts over on Nicole’s pod, copying many things over there rather than commenting directly on the original posts, and I have taken that as a reticence on your part to actually engage with me or with the people on my forum.  So, I think that might also have contributed to a “lack of connection” overall – not consciously, but looking at it now, I think that could have played a part in my prioritization of my own attempts to respond to the various posts out there addressed to me.

I have not read all of your comments on this blog here, but I read over enough to see that your feelings have been hurt, and again, I apologize.  I will happily add my comments to your observations on my blog later.

Best wishes,


P.S.  I just discovered your blog comments today, so they did not influence my response to Tulim. 

Balder : Kosmonaut

8 days later

Balder said


I just read a few more of your comments.  Honestly, I think a bout of projection was getting the best of you, friend!  You are referring to me and others as “that crowd,” thinking that I would not respond to Tulim because he was playing with Legos and exhibiting playful imagination.  I thought it was delightful!  I do adopt a more academic tone in some of my posts, depending on the subject, but it is just one of my voices, not the whole of it.  Have you read much of my blog, which features fairy tales, stories, original poetry, music, etc?  I’m actually very interested in imagination, and have several blogs on that subject that I’ve been planning for awhile (particularly in relation to TSK and Integral).  I’ve also written papers on the ecology of imagination in children, and have been a teacher of creative writing and imaginative fiction. 

A year or two ago, several of us on the Integral Pod also engaged in an extensive “chain story” about mythical characters from Egypt.  The story actually bogged down towards the end, and some people’s feelings got hurt when others took what they saw as too much liberty in directing the story’s ending, but in the process of it (when it spontaneously arose), it felt like something magical and inspiring was unfolding.  Playful, not great art, but a lot of fun.

I do think there is room for broader, more creative, playful ways of expression in Integral writing and discussion.  I certainly would welcome it. 

Anyway, I hope now that I am aware of your feelings about these issues, and painfully aware that I caused you to feel hurt and disregarded, I hope our interactions can take a turn in a more positive, fruitful direction.

Best wishes,


Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

8 days later

Marmalade said

First off, I know I was projecting.  That goes without saying.  LOL

Secondly, it doesn’t change much about the objective points I made… about my experiences of the Integral community… even if my assessments of you were entirely wrong.

I’ve found many people interested in Integral hard to relate to, but that is just my personal biased perspective.  It just feels like the only discussions that take off in Integral groups are ones that are extremely abstract.  I tried to start a thread about comparative mythology in your pod and it did get some response but never really went anywhere too interesting.  OTOH the Translation/Transformation thread went on and on.  Why are the various obscure meanings of ‘translation’ and ‘transformation’ more interesting to integral types than mythology?

The first Integral group I joined was Lightmind and there were two factors that I disliked.  It felt like there were these cliques, these private conversations going on where I wasn’t welcome.  And everyone was always arguing like a bunch of competing egotists.  The conversations were often interesting, but the place was also often rather annoying.  It wasn’t any specific person, but rather the environment of the whole place.

I’m sorry to have responded the way that I did.  No doubt you’re a multi-faceted person as we all are, and I was only seeing one side of you.  I realize you have to prioritize your time and I empathize with that immensely.  The problem was that I felt you were prioritizing based on your integral view… that was the rub.  To me, my comments were very much related to your blog or at least as much related as were Jim’s comments.  The reason I felt slighted was that you ‘prioritized’ your time in such a way that you lengthily responded to everyone else but me.

Whatever… I’m feeling better now.  I was projecting and you were prioritizing.  Its not important in and of itself.  It was just the situation and it hit me wrong because I’m sensitive to that kind of thing.  I’ve had a couple of experiences recently where I was dealing with people who seemed stuck in a particular view, and so that was where I was coming from.

Try not to take me too seriously.  I rant sometimes, but I don’t generally hold grudges.  I’m glad I ranted in fact.  My opinions on the whole matter of Integral are out in the open for all to see.. including my messy emotions.  I’m glad everything is cleared up now.  Now, doesn’t everyone feel better?  🙂

Okay, for more important things… such as the silly side of my personality.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I love being playful and imaginative when I’m not going off on some serious rant.  I realize Integralists aren’t without humor… although often more of a biting humor (which I see as being more MBTI NT).  There was a fair amount of playfulness at Lightmind, but there is a certain kind of Integralist that sees the world as an ideological battlefield, a certain kind of Integralist who has an air of moral superiority.  To be honest, I really don’t like that kind of Integralist… “No sir, I don’t like it,” says the Mr. Horse from Ren and Stimpy.

I’d love to see more imagination and whatnot in the Integral community.  And I’d love to help contribute to that rather than privately griping in my blog.  So, I’d like to participate in your pod more if I can do so on my own terms.  My interests are wide and do not fit neatly into integral categories.  I love to integrate all that I know, but I don’t follow proper Wilberian protocol. 

I feel my weird sense of humor and wildly roaming imagination is appreciated on the God Pod as people respond to it there.  Your pod is no doubt interesting, but I just don’t see much focus on lighthearted fun and playful creativity.  What I require from a discussion group is that both my serious and silly sides be satisfied simultaneously… because I don’t separate them.  So, I still feel some slight reticence towards the Integral community here.  I want to join in, but I don’t know that I fit in.  Does that make sense?

BTW thanks very much for stopping by and being so kind in response to all my ranting and projecting.  All is well that ends well.


Nicole : wakingdreamer

8 days later

Nicole said

Dear Ben,

This is wonderful to be able to catch up with you at last here. I’m delighted to see you and Bruce have had a chance to sort things out.

Now, let’s try to tackle things in order of how you blogged comments:

1) the sense of not being an equal: I have experienced this feeling of marginalisation very much in the Integral pod, which led me to going away many times from the discussion. i didn’t feel it was at all deliberate and in fact some of the people there try very hard to include people, and this issue and related ones have been discussed extensively there from time to time. it’s just a question of focus and perspective, i suppose…

2) INFP… yes, I’m well aware of the danger of coming across as meddlesome or intrusive and keep an eye on myself about that. I really had to laugh out loud when I got to this part:

We Fi types aren’t as tactful as Fe types.  We’re not very easygoing when worked up, and we’re not very emotionally expressive except when very relaxed or very worked up.

I was just in the middle of one of our webcalls which as usual had fallen into silence as we listened to music and worked on whatever we were doing. Looking at him, and thinking about how true the above can be. It does indeed make it challenging to be in a close long distance friendship like this.

This blog of mine is an interesting experiment for you to observe.  I used to journal a lot.  But now I’ve started using this blog somewhat like how I used my journal in the past.  This means that I’ve made my personal processing a bit more public.

Indeed, I am learning so very much about you in particular (which is fascinating) and INFPs in general, through these blogs and discussions.

3) Tulim and playfulness – you know how delighted I am by play in discussions of all kinds. I had the pleasure of meeting another person who really prioritises play in her life and work, another volunteer in the Children’s Area at the Old Songs Folk festival. We had a blast… and skipping ahead to the end, I do love your weird sense of humour and wildly roaming imagination, as well as the others who share it – Andrew, Eric, Ua, Christopher (sometimes lol) et alia…

(((((((Ben))))))) I do love you so much! This is a wonderful discussion. Seems to have helped you  a lot but it’s also given me a lot.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

8 days later

Marmalade said

We’re not very easygoing when worked up, and we’re not very emotionally expressive except when very relaxed or very worked up.

There is another thing I wanted to mention in relationship to this.  As Intuition is the INFP’s main Extraverted function, this is their preferred way to relate to people.  Ne communicates in terms of abstractions, possibilities, creativity, and silliness.  These modes of expression can be used to communicate their Fi core, but they can also be used to hide and protect it.  For instance, I know that I sometimes use humor as a defense mechanism to ameliorate my cynicism or to distract myself from depression.  Also, Ne can be used to obsess over possibilities as a way of avoiding those inner experiences that can feel so certain.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

9 days later

Nicole said

as a defense mechanism, to hide and protect, to distract, to obsess over possibilities to avoid inner experiences, oh Ben, you have no idea how true these are of him. at times it becomes a barrier that feels insuperable.

one of the things i have found most difficult is his use of humour and distraction when i’m trying to talk seriously about something that is bothering me about the relationship or, sorry, the friendship 🙂 he keeps haring off here there and everywhere and i keep calling him back with a growing sense of frustration and alienation.

anyway, you’ve been able to observe quite a bit of his behaviour and our interaction in the pod. any further insights for the moment?

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

11 days later

Marmalade said

I have only one further insight.  It seems he may be a very strong Introvert.  If that is the case, that could magnify how he uses Ne to protect his internal Fi experience.  A strong Introvert can have more going on inside than outside, and they might not be that trusting to open up completely or quickly.

I understand you’re finding it difficulty which leads to a sense of frustration and alienation.  Of course, that isn’t his intention.  Partly, an INFP uses Ne to test out the waters.  I’m sure he notices your emotional response, and in response he might be even less willing to open up or be serious.

Trust me, Ne being used as humor and distraction is better than some uses of it.  If an INFP becomes irritated and defensive, that Ne will point out every possible failing that they’ve ever noticed in the entire time they’ve known you.  Some INFPs use Fi to keep an internal tally going which can be quite detailed.  INFPs have good memories for interpersonal experience and they will dredge up what you did a year ago even if you’ve forgotten about it.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

12 days later

Nicole said

yes, i did realise that about his reaction to my reaction, so we are both backing off. This week we spoke very little, and now he’s away till Sunday night or Monday, I forget, visiting his brother’s new baby who was born on my birthday. Next week of course I will be out of town, back in town for a week, out of town again and then another week from then I will be in Scotland.

So my feeling is that we will chat briefly on and off and keep it relaxed. I am working hard right now not just with him but with everyone to enjoy the moment and if someone I want to talk to is not available, just enjoy something else. Good discipline for me.

Yikes about the internal tally. 😦 Good to know…

Marina Warner on Rilke

Marina Warner on Rilke

Posted on May 20th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade

“Every Angel is terrible.”
Duino Elegies, Rainer Maria Rilke

By Marina  Warner

Pages 54-55:
In an essay about playing with dolls, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke describes the way imagination stirs to fill a void, to stop the love for a doll expiring on the blank slate of its response.  Rilke often throws an oblique light on Freud, as if engaged in a distant conversation with him (as in the case of his poems on Narcissus), and he also illuminates the uncanny when he describes the power of make-believe in children.  He writes:

“I know, I know it was necessary for us to have things of this kind, which acquiesced in everything.  The simplest love relationships were quite beyond our comprehension, we could not possibly have lived and had dealings with a person who was something; at most, we could only have entered into such a person and have lost ourselves there.  With the doll we were forced to assert ourselves, for, had we surrendered ourselves to it, there would then have been no one there at all…. it was so abysmally devoid of phantasy, that our imagination became inexaustible in dealing with it.”

(The Rilke quote is from ‘Some Reflections on Dolls—Occasioned by the Wax Dolls of Lotte Pritzel’, in Rodin and Other Pieces)

Page 170:
Sigmund Freud produced his controversial 1914 paper on the psycholgy of narcissism the year after Rainer Maria rilke wrote two of his many intense Narcissus poems.  The poet caught at Ovid’s underlying aesthetic concerns, and identified himself with the doomed lover in several highly wrought meditaitons on love, autononmy, self-annihalation, and creativity.  In one tight eight-line lyric of 1913 Rilke passionately describes Narcissus’ beauty, and his absorption and final disappaearance into the mirror of himself; in another, longer poem, his Narcissus imagines loving another or being loved by another, but rejects the possibility as damaging to the perfect unity of his twinned being for the making of beauty.  ‘On Narcissism’, Freud’s paper, ostensibly counters the views of his former colleague and friend C. G. Jung,  but it does seem to be replying, without aknowledgment, to Rilke’s poetic manifesto, Freud laying out his damaging argument that both the ego and the libido are deeply entangled from infancy in self-love(primary narcissism); and prescribing that this energy be healthily cathected towards another object, most often a lover and, especially in the case of women, a child.  The paper, and the concept of narcissism which it has defined and spread, have eclipsed some of the threads in Ovid’s fascinating originary story about the recognition and the self.  Before Freud’s essay placed the myth in the field of perverse sexuality, the motive of the imperilling mirror occurred widely, principally in tales defining primitves, saves: the instrument of revelation, a glass, could capture and subdue wild things and bring them within the compass of civility—usually disempowered.

Access_public Access: Public 5 Comments Print Post this!views (199)  

Nicole : wakingdreamer

8 minutes later

Nicole said

wow! how do you find this stuff, master of the search engine. i am fascinated…

Rilke was deeply conflicted in some ways, very wounded wrt childhood issues. His mother wanted him to be a girl and clothed him in dresses until a ridiculous age. His father was harsh and insisted on military school, completely inappropriate for such a sensitive and poetic boy.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

28 minutes later

Marmalade said

I own this book and I noticed the author mentioned Rilke twice(the two quotes above).  Since, I wanted to start a conversation with you about Rilke, this seemed like a nice place to start.  I wish I had found it in a search engine, but instead I typed it out.

What you said does me give more insight to Rilke.  I’d like to hear more about him if you’d like to share.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 3 hours later

Nicole said

here’s a brief biography

Writer and poet, Rilke was considered one of the greatest lyric poets of modern Germany. He created the “object poem” as an attempt to describe with utmost clarity physical objects, the “silence of their concentrated reality.” He became famous with such works as Duineser Elegien and Die Sonette an Orpheus . They both appeared in 1923. After these books, Rilke had published his major works, believing that he had done his best as a writer.

Rainer Maria Rilke was born in Prague as the son of Josef Rilke, a railway official and the former Sophie Entz. A crucial fact in Rilke’s life was that his mother called him Sophia. She forced him to wear girl’s clothes until he was aged five – thus compensating for the earlier loss of a baby daughter. Rilke’s parents separated when he was nine. His militarily inclined Father sent him at ten yesrs old to the military academies of St. Pölten and Mahrisch-Weisskirchenn. At the military academy Rilke did not enjoy his stay, and was sent to a business school in Linz. He also worked in his uncle’s law firm. Rilke continued his studies at the universities of Prague, Munich, and Berlin.

As a poet Rilke made his debut at the age of nineteen with Leben und Lieder (1894), written in the conventional style of Heinrich Heine. In Munich he met the Russian intellectual Lou Andreas-Salome, an older woman, who influenced him deeply. In Florence, where he spent some months in 1898, Rilke wrote: “… I felt at first so confused that I could scarcely separate my impressions, and thought I was drowning in the breaking waves of some foreign splendor.”

With Lou Andreas-Salome and her husband Rilke travelled in Russia in 1899, visiting among others Leo Tolstoy . Rilke was deeply impressed by what he learned of Russian mysticism. During this period he started to write The Book of Hours: The Book of Monastic Life , which appeared in 1905. He spent some time in Italy, Sweden, and Denmark, and joined an artists’ colony at Worpswede in 1903. In his letters to a young would-be poet, which he wrote from 1903 to 1908, Rilke explained, that “nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you to write; find out whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write.” (in Letters to a Young Poet, 1929 )

In 1901 Rilke married the young sculptress, Klara Westhoff, one of Auguste Rodin’s pupils. They had a daughter, Ruth, but marriage lasted only one year. During this period Rilke composed in rhymed, metered verse, the second part of The Book of Hours . The work expressed his spiritual yearning. After Rilke had separated from Klara, he settled in Paris to write a book about Rodin and to work for his secretary (1905-06).

In the Spring of 1906 the overworked poet left Rodin abruptly. Rilke revised Das Buch der Bilder and published it in an enlarged edition. He also wrote The Tale of the Love and Death of Cornet Christopher Rilke , which became a great popular success. During his Paris years Rilke developed a new style of lyrical poetry. After Neue Gedighte (1907-08, New Poems) he wrote a notebook named Die Aufzechnungen des Malte Laurdis Brigge (1910), his most important prose work. It took the form of a series of semiautobiographical spiritual confessions but written by a Danish expatriate in Paris.

Rilke kept silent as a poet for twelve years before writing Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus , which are concerned with “the identity of terror and bliss” and “the oneness of life and death”. Duino Elegies was born in two bursts of inspiration separated by ten years. According to a story, Rilke heard in the wind the first lines of his elegies when he was walking on the rocks above the sea – “Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’ hierarchies?”

Rilke visited his friend Princess Marie von Thurnun Taxis in 1910 at Duino, her remote castle on the coast of the Adriatic, and returned again next year. There he started to compose the poems, but the work did not proceed easily. After serving in the army, Rilke was afraid that he would never be able to finish it but finally in 1922 he completed Duineser Elegien (Duino Elegies) in a chateau in Muzot, Switzerland. He also wrote an addition, the Sonnets to Orpheus , which was a memorial for the young daughter of a friend. In the philosophical poems Rilke meditated on time and eternity, life and death, art versus ordinary things. The tone was melancholic. Rilke believed in the coexistence of the material and spiritual realms, but human beings were for him only spectators of life, grasping its beauties momentarily only to lose them again. With the power of creativity an artist can try to build a bridge between two worlds, although the task is almost too great for a man. The work influenced deeply such poets as Sidney Keyes, Stephen Spender, Robert Bly, W.S. Merwin, John Ashbery, and W.H. Auden, who had Rilkean angels appear in the collection In Times of War (1939).

In 1913 Rilke returned to Paris, but he was forced to return to Germany because of the First World War. Duino Castle was bombarded to ruins and Rilke’s personal property was confiscated in France. He served in the Austrian army and found another patron, Werner Reinhart, who owned the Castle Muzot at Valais. After 1919 he lived in Switzerland, occupied by his work and roses in his little garden. For time to time he went to Paris for a few months or to Italy. Rilke’s companion during his last years was the artist Baladine (Elisabeth Dorothea Spiro), whose son, Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski), become also an artist. Rilke wrote a foreword to a book illustrated by Balthus’s drawings of cats. Rilke died on December 29, in 1926.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 7 hours later

Marmalade said

Thanks Nicole!

Reading that bio makes me particularly curious to read Duino Elegies.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 10 hours later

Nicole said

I’d like to know what you think, Ben. I find it really helpful to have this background in mind when reading his poetry, especially his central work… especially when he talks about love, or mothers… I think I blogged all or most of the Elegies, but anyway I’m sure you have found online the link to read them all, you’re so good with that.

Self-Made Man

Self-Made Man

Posted on Mar 18th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade

This book is about a lesbian who dressed up as a man.  Its not my normal kind of reading material.  The premise of it sounds like superficial amusement, a catchy idea in a world glutted with such books.  I was very surprised by how insightful she was, and not a bad writer either.

The subject of this book is sorta in my realm of interests.  Gender roles is a fascinating lense through which to see the world.

I’ve read many of the popular books in this field.  There is the clasic Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.  John Gray’s ideas are mostly stereotypes with some decent observations.  In the integral field, David Deida and Carol Gilligan are often talked about.  Deida’s advice may be good for manly men, but from reading him I came to realize that I must not be a manly man.  He does admit that his advice is for the masculine… which equally applies for women as for men.  Anyways, his ideas didn’t fit my self-understanding.  Carol Gilligan is more interesting to me, but I haven’t studied her too closely.

I wonder to what extent these gender theories are about actual biological differences.  I’m sure genetics play a big part, but so do culturally-learned roles.  Even on the genetic level, there is great variety.  I think about this primarily from a Myers-Briggs perspective.  The gender theories I’ve come across seem to be speaking about the same division as Jung’s Thinking and Feeling.  A majority of men have a Thinking function preference. and a majority of women have a Feeling function preference.  But its not a large majority in either case… approximately around 60-70%.  So, that leaves 30-40% of people who don’t fit the expectation.  That ain’t small potatoes.

To get back to Vincent, she said she was a tomboy growing up and people perceived her as a masculine woman.  And she was surprised that, as a man, she was perceived as effeminate.  This also fits in with function preferences. Women who prefer Thinking still don’t come out as strong on that preference as most Thinking preference men, and ditto for men who prefer Feeling.

In case you’re wondering, I’m one of those Feeling type of guys which would probably explain why Deida didn’t do much for me.

Vincent did come to the conclusion that there are distinct differences between men and women, but she also observed how much gender roles are taught… sometimes to a harsh degree.  She was playing a role and she found dressing the part was important.  Especially for men, clothing such as a suit can act as a uniform and people will treat you accordingly… even when they claim and seem to consciously believe they’re treating you gender-neutrally.

From her experiment, Vincent learned something maybe even more important.  She got into the mindset of her character to the point that she considered it self-hypnosis.  Later on, she became a bit lazy and partially let her disguise down, but people still treated her like a man.  She found that people to an extent believed what she believed.  Even she, after the experiment was over, had difficulty getting back into her normal mindset.  Even though it didn’t feel natural to her, she became used to acting that way, the role became an ingrained habit.  She had only tried this for a year or so, but just imagine about the identity role one pretends to be for years and which is constantly reinforced by everyone around you.

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Carl Jung: 20th Century Visionary

The Holy Grail of the Unconscious by Sara Corbett

Henri Cartier-Bresson

This article is what I consider great journalism.  For one, Jung was a great thinker and so makes for a more than interesting subject.  Also, the research that went into this article was extremely thorough.  The author considers all of the people involved and paints a vivid picture of the Liber Novus which Jung seemingly considered a full accounting of his psyche, a direct expression of his soul.  I’ve never seen the thing myself, but I’d love to get my hands on a copy of it.

(Click here to see larger image.)

There are two reasons I’m writing a post about this.

First, this article is the type of thing that The New York Times does best.  Many articles about Jung have been written in that publication over the years, but this particular article is above average even for the New York Times.

More importantly, I simply want to recommend the article.  If you enjoy Jung and all things Jungian, then this is a must read.  Or if you’re just a curious person who enjoys intelligent writing, then this article probably will satisfy.  Jung isn’t for everyone, but he was one of the most influential men who lived in the 20th century.  You really can’t understand the world we live in without understanding one of the greatest visionaries of his time (and, I would add, without understanding the relationship between Freud and Jung and the flourishing of scholarship in the 19th century that influenced both).

For whatever reason, our culture at present doesn’t give much respect to visionaries.  The 19th century produced many visionaries, but the visionary as a respectable profession seems to have mostly died out in the middle of 20th century.

Even great thinkers influenced by Jung never quite live up to Jung’s greatness.  Jung covered massive intellectual territory, and did so with a creative flair and a depth of insight.  Some of my favorite thinkers such as Terrence McKenna and Philip K. Dick were influenced by Jung and they were innovative thinkers, but I doubt they’ll have the influence Jung had and continues to have.  Philip K. Dick probably comes the closest to Jung’s fearless explorations into madness and also Jung’s prolific output.  Sadly, though, thinkers like Philip K. Dick grew up in a time when visionaries were forced into the margins of society (science fiction in the case of PKD).

However, even Jung was marginalized by Freud’s fame.  Are all visionaries doomed to be only understood by mainstream society in retrospect?  Maybe so, but there do seem to be periods of history that create the right conditions that encourage the visionary profession.

I do hope that eventually the respect for visionaries will be renewed.  Present day visionaries are more of the flavor of Ken Wilber.  I appreciate Wilber’s scholarship but his visionary ability pales against that of Jung.  Joseph Campbell came closer to Jung’s level, but still fell short.  The world needs a new Jung.  So, who will be the visionary of the 21st century?

Psychology and Parapsychology, Politics and Place

In some recent posts, I’ve discussed personality types and other psychological factors that distinguish one person from another.

Fox and Hedgehog, Apollo and Dionysus

Horror and Typology

The Paranormal and Psychology

This subject is an interest of mine that goes back many years and my interest in psychology in general goes back even further.  I’ve always sought explanations for human experience and psychology is one of the best fields to look for helpful data and theory.  Psychology is also a good place to find connections between other fields: narratology and folklore studies, paranormal, religion, politics, etc.  I really became fascinated with psychology through Jungian typology and traits theory which connects to tons of fascinating research spanning the past century (and much from the last half century is cross-cultural research using large sample sizes).  Correlations and meta-analysis of varied research has offered clearer insight into many elusive factors of the human psyche and socio-cultural behavior. 

Psychology became even more interesting for me when I read George P. Hansen’s The Trickster and the Paranormal in which the author discusses experience and hermeneutics at the edge of mainstream science.  Along with discussing the trickster archetype, he details the relevance of Hartmann’s boundary types.  Upon further research, I learned that research on boundary types correlates with other research on personality types and traits, and of course Jung’s theory of personality types connects with his theory on archetypes.  Even further research has helped me to understand how central psychology is to the UFO field and paranormal in general.  Basically, this was an area that promised many further connections.

I’ve been recently focused on the connections between genre fiction (especially SF and Horror), philosophy (especially Pessimism), religion (especially Gnosticism) and the paranormal (especially UFO experiences).  There isn’t any grand reason my mind is focused on all of these subjects (besides general curiosity in all things weird and countercultural), but it does all fit together (more or less, in my mind that is).  To be specific, my friend has been reading a lot of Thomas Ligotti and other horror writers.  This has caused me to read more horror (and dark weird) fiction and discuss it with my friend… which has led me to read Ligotti’s philosophizing and the blog writing by related people (Quentin S. Crisp and Matt Cardin).  Because of Gnosticism and other reasons, Philip K. Dick and William S. Burroughs have been on my mind and the latter happened to be a favorite writer of Ligotti. 

 As you see, one thing leads to another and I at times can get obsessive in following certain leads.  My brain was being swamped by connections and so I wrote a post about it.

Just Some Related Ideas and Writers

I had initially noted in earlier posts some similarities and differences between William S. Burroughs and Philip K. Dick and between them and Thomas Ligotti.

PKD, ACIM, and Burroughs

Burroughs, PKD, and Ligotti

My interest in such things is very personal in many ways, but I think the socio-political angle is at least as interesting.  Psychological understanding is probably needed in poltical discussions more than anywhere simply for the reason that politics seems to attract many people who lack subtle understanding (if any at all) of the human mind and behavior.  I wrote about this in a post a while back.

Morality, Politics, and Psychology

In looking into psychological research in context of “abnormal” experiences, I came across one particularly interesting piece of data (which I believe can be found somewhere in one of the numerous links in my post The Paranormal and Psychology).  Someone mentioned that UFO experiences are more common along the coasts of the US than in the midwest.  I haven’t seen this data, but I have seen data that shows liberals are more concentrated on the coasts and in highly populated areas (i.e., urban areas) and that shows conservatives are more concentrated in the interior and in lowly populated areas (i.e., rural areas).  So, it would be logical that UFO experience would correlate with liberal politics.  Research has shown that liberals and conservatives tend to have different personalities.  One of the major factors is that liberals tend to have more “openness to experience” (a particular trait that has been well researched).  This Openness also correlates to MBTI’s (Jungian typology’s) Intuition function and Hartmann’s thin boundary types (amongst other correlations). 

Anyways, it’s not simply a matter of different ideological persuasions, but psychological tendencies that we often are born with (and which tend to remain stable throughout our lives).  Liberal types aren’t simply open to believing in the weird.  They’re actually open to experiencing them.  A liberal believes in the paranormal because they’ve experienced it, and the conservative disbelieves because they’re experiences don’t include the paranormal.  However, even if a conservative did have a paranormal experience, they’d be more likely to try to explain it away or make it conform to their cultural expectations (such as fitting it into the doctrine of the religion they belong to).  Because of psychological and other factors, I truly doubt that people hold their viewpoints for primarily rational reasons, but I have no doubt that humans are very talented at rationalizing.  Another thought I had was that people’s beliefs aren’t exactly disconnected from reality.  It’s just they’re limited to one perspective on reality.  The conservative and the liberal each explains in a perfectly valid way the data of their experience.  The problem is that it only applies to their own narrow experience, but from an evolutionary point of view this may be no problem at all.  Both views are helpful or maybe even necessary for the stability of society.  Either side is wrong in claiming their beliefs are absolutely true.  Nonetheless, the conservative belief about human behavior applies to conservative humans and ditto for liberal beliefs. 

However, accepting each as a valid viewpoint would be criticized as pluralism by many conservatives (in particular moral conservatives).  Does this mean that a liberal has a better chance of understanding the conservative position than the other way around?  Maybe… depending on what we’re focusing on.  This could be explained that we aren’t just dealing with types here, but also social development such as understood by spiral dynamics.  Liberal as a personality trait wouldn’t be helpful in understanding conservativism, but liberal pluralism as a stage of development could potentially give someone greater perspective to understand previous stages of development (which is where the majority of the population is still at).  I’m less interested in the latter for this post.  I just wanted to point it out because this a complex subject with many factors and I’d rather not make simplistic judgments.

It is important to point out that these distinctions aren’t absolute.  The average person isn’t at the extreme opposite ends, and our pscyological attitude can change depending on situation.  Even so, most people tend to spend most of their time in one mindset or another.  Furthermore, people tend to seek out others similar to them and careers that are conducive to their thinking style.  A liberal-leaning person living in a rural area is more likely to move to an urban area and so this is how genetics become concentrated.  Liberals will tend to marry liberals and tend to have liberal kids, and the same for conservatives.  This wasn’t possible in the past because people didn’t move as much, but modern society has created a situation where human genetics may be diverging into two type of people.  This reminds me of a species of rodent (or something like that) that I saw on a nature show once.  There were two genetically distinct variations of males.  One set of males mated for life with a female, but the females weren’t so loyal in their affections.  The other set of males would have sex with any female and the females of this species were willing (when their spouses were otherwise distracted).  The children of the loyal males grew up to be loyal and the opposite for the other type.  I’ve always suspected this might be the case for human males as well, but even if not the general principle might apply to humans in other ways.

It can’t be denied that humans do like trying to divide eachother up into categories.  I was reading an article titled “Burrough-sian Gnosticism In His Own Words” by Sven Davisson which can be found in the journal The Gnostic.  I was already familiar with Burrough’s ideas along these lines.  He considered himself a Manichaean and it was from this that he founded his own typology of people: the Johnsons and the Shits.  The Johnson Family was a designation that came from turn-of-the-century hobo culture.  A Johnson was someone who was a basically good and trustworthy person, someone who would help when such was needed but otherwise would mind his own business.  On the other hand (from the article): “A shit  is one who is obsessively sure of his own position at the cost of all other vantages.”  Upon reading that, I immediate thought that it sounded like an extreme version of a hedgehog type of person (who knows one big thing)… which is approximately an MBTI type with Sensation function (most notably represented by Kiersey’s SJ temperament), a thick boundary type, someone low on the trait ‘openness to experience’.  I was also reminded of a quote (by someone other than Burroughs) about a missionary (to paraphrase): “You could always tell the people she helped by the hunted look on their faces.”  My guess is that Burroughs was making an extreme distinction that could otherwise be stated with more psychological subtlety.  Taking as an extreme, it’s hard to disagree with Burroughs about the Shits of the world, but I’m sure he was intelligent enough to realize that not everyone exists at the extremes.

I also think the distinction between hedgehogs and foxes relates to the attitudes of universalism and pluralism.  I was thinking about  this latter category because of my reading another article in the journal The Gnostic.  The article is “Magic and Gnosticism” by  Will Parker.  I won’t say much about it right now as I haven’t finished the article yet, but I’ll point out that I’m thinking about his ideas in terms of George P. Hansen’s discussion of Max Weber’s theory of the process of increasing rationalization in Western society.  I plan on blogging more about this where I’ll also bring in how certain personality types are most likely to gain positions of power in certain types of organizations.

Fox and Hedgehog, Apollo and Dionysus

I’ve been thinking about the difference between types of thinkers which is a continuation of my analysis from the post prior to this one.

 Just Some Related Ideas and Writers


Systematizers and Non-Systematizers

One distinction I made was between those who tend towards the systematic and those who don’t. 

The systematizersmay be wide-ranging in their interests or not, but either way they have a focused mentality.  Even if wide-ranging in their interests, they’ll still try to connect everything not just as a set of relationships but in the context of a specific theory or model, a single idea or belief.  They may expand outwards, but the core of their thinking remains solid and everything new is judged in terms of it.  This kind of intelligence can seem clever in that it’s complex (or simplistic depending on your perspective) to organize so much data into a single view, but it also can have a practical side to it as it’s part of a desire to bring order. 

Quite differently, the non-systematizer has a methodology that would appear (at least from the outside) as random.  They may end up with quite a variety of things and yet the only clear connection between them all is simply the person them-self.  The non-systematizer’s methodology is more personal and intuitive which means it might not make much sense or seem worthy to anyone else.  Still, they may make new discoveries that the more methodical person would never come across.  Non-systematizers are the artists who lives in creative chaos, and so the ups and downs of their lives may tend to be magnified.  The unexpected good can come from this attitude of faith, but a lack of planning can lead to immense troubles.  It’s not that they can’t see the big picture, but rather they see too big of a picture without the ability or desire to focus in.  They see so many possibilities (and they don’t want to discount any of them) that it’s hard for them to make judgments of probability.  They’re reluctant to consider what the systematizer might point out as inevitable consequences.

The systematizer is more conservative, more careful.  They don’t just trust fate, but would rather take control of events.  The systematizer is a bit of a pessimist.  In being systematic, they make clear judgments about what does and doesn’t belong, and if it belongs they want to know precisely where it should be situated.  This is the conservative mindset that believes if things are left to their own accord bad things will happen.  The conservative prizes order and furthermore believes that order must be continually reinforced. 

The non-systematizer is more liberal.  Their outwardly haphazard ways may seem irresponsible to the conservative systematizer.  However, the non-systematizer has something of a faith that is grounded in an intuitive insight.  Such a person makes up for a lack of organizational thinking with an intuitive grasp of what matters.  They could be thought of as more individualistic and idiosyncratic simply for the reason that their vision of life is hard to articulate. 

The liberal non-systematizer believes there is something inherently good to people and if not disturbed this goodness will naturally manifest.  The conservative systematizer, on the other hand, worries about all of the ways things can go wrong.  It’s hard to surprise them because they see the consequence of actions from a mile away (or at least think they do).  While systematizers are aware of boundaries even when they cross them, the non-systematizer might simply not notice or else not care.  The systematizer might be inclined to say that the non-systematizer is oblivious in not noticing the seemingly obvious, but the non-systematizer might simply feel that they’re focused on what is important at the moment.  They follow what inspires them, what excites them.  This may not seem responsible, but it does have its practical benefits in that the non-systematizer might notice specific details that the systematizer would miss by looking at the “big picture”.  Even though the systematizer may think of themselves as a realist, they may actually be taking in less data from the real world.  The apparently irrelevant that the non-systematizer wastes their time on might turn out to be relevant afterall.

Foxes and Hedgehogs

This distinction I’m making is somewhat related to the fragment of writing by Archilochus:

“The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”

Isaiah Berlin used this quote to divide people between two kinds of thinkers.  It’s sort of useful.  The fox survives by its wits and by ranging widely.  So, the fox can’t just focus on one thing but must apply its intelligence to a broad array of sensory detail.  The hedgehog is a simpler creature having one good talent.  It doesn’t need to worry too much about the larger world because it has its spines to protect it.  So, the hedgehog can focus narrowly. 

Approximately, the hedgehog is the same as my systematizer and the fox is the same as my non-systematizer.  The only difference would be that I believe Berlin was arguing that foxes are more practical and can make more realistic judgments for the very reason they’re not filtering the world through a single idea or theory.  This may sometimes be true.  Someone too attached to a particular theory will be obviously biased, but on the other hand someone who entirely lacks theoretical knowledge won’t have the context to make sense of the data.  Even though I see hedgehogs as being more practical in terms of the basics of life, the fox might have an easier ability to learn and integrate some of the hedgehog’s talent than the other way around.  The foxes talent is mental flexibility and so this would be helpful in learning abilities outside of one’s natural talent.  So, potentially a fox could make a better expert in that they could have a broader range of tools.  Although, it seems reasonable that some hedgehog types might gain some fox abilities such as if they were raised by a fox type.

Jung’s Typology and Nietzsche’s Dionysian and Apollonian

So far, I’ve only given two broad generalized types.  I feel the need to use the more defined ideas of Jung’s typology to clarify my sense of these categories.

The two functions that get the most attention in our society are those of Thinking and Feeling(maybe for the reason that they most closely associate with gender differences).  These are the Judging functions and they roughly equate with the conservative and liberal attitudes.  Thinkers (I’m specifically focusing on the combination of Thinking and Judging which translates as Extraverted Thinking) idealize principles and judge by principles.  Feelers (specifically, Feeling Perceiving; Introverted Feeling) idealize values and judge by values.  Thinking is about objective order.  Ideas and people need to be ranked.  Something is socially acceptable or not and each thing must be subordinate to its proper place.  People should first consider their social role and its attendant responsibilities.  Feelers see things less clearly as the significance of values can only be determined according to each specific situation.  A simple way to think about this is that a Thinker believes people should serve principles and a Feeler believes values should serve people.  In terms of thinking styles, its a question of whether ideas connect people or people connect ideas.  Also, it relates to a difference between a focus on the objective versus a focus on the subjective (which would include the inter-subjective).

These two types can also be thought of in terms of the Jungian functions Sensation and Intuition.  These originated from Jung’s study of Nietzche’s understanding about the Dionysian and the Apollonian.  Jung’s theorizing seemed to at least initially to conflate Sensation and Intuition with Extroversion and Introversion.  For Jung, Intuition had an inner quality that particularly connected it to the unconscious.  Others have pointed out how our society idealizes the ESTJ type (Extroversion Sensation Thinking Judging) and particularly identifies this as a masculine ideal.  As such, the systematizing hedgehog seems more or less correlated with the ESTJ type and the non-systematizing fox with the INFP type (Introverted iNtuition Feeling Perceiving).  By the way, the distinction between Judging types and Perceiving types doesn’t originate from Jung.  The J/P distinction comes from MBTI and I sense that this particular distinction might fit best the categories of systematizing hedgehog and non-systematizing fox.  (For my purposes, I’ve decided to emphasize the connection between all of these categories and so I’m using the ESTJ and INFP types as generalizations to portray a larger trend within our society, but these are only 2 of the 16 MBTI types.)

Going by Intuition (in particular the Extraverted Intuition of the INFP), the fox is ruled by an expansive curiosity.  Going by Intuition and Feeling, the fox has a strong aesthetic sense (represented by the fox’s playfulness).  This means the fox sees value beyond what is rationally useful and rationally explainable.  To return to Nietzsche’s division, Apollo isn’t about rational order but rather aesthetic order: beauty and balance.  The Dionysian is pure sensual experience but not aesthetic appreciation.  The Dionysian sensuality is embodied and so active rather than contemplative.  On the other hand, the Dionysian is also the tragic because it’s so clearly grounded in the concrete world of limitation and death.  Dionysus is the god of masks, but he isn’t separate from those masks.  Dionysus is precisely what he presents himself to be and nothing more.  Apollo, however, points beyond the obvious. 

In terms of Jung’s typology, it’s useful to clarify rationality.  Intuition is about abstractions and this connects with the common notion of Apollo as being the god of rationality.  It’s true that Intuition is about the world of ideas, but it’s also the world of imagination.  Rationality, in a more objective sense, is clearly a product of Sensation which is concerned with concrete details and facts.  A Sensation type tends towards literalism in that something is what appears to be.  Sensation is the rationality of the typical research scientist.  They think the data should speak for itself, but of course hidden in this attitude are certain conservative assumptions about the data and the world in general.  This lack of subtlety and nuance is what leads to the tragic.  A hero is tragic when they can’t see outside of their situation.  This is the connection between the scientist obsessed with studies of causation and the tragic hero who is trapped in a world of fatalistic causation.  This is the vision of Noir in particular.  The Apollonian, from a very different perspective, sees the forces or ideas that are greater than them, but these greater things help to transcend the mind beyond the predetermining causes of matter and society.  As such, it’s less of an issue of resignation or struggle.  Rather, it’s an attitude of possibility.  (By the way, I’d say that Neo-Noir includes examples of these two attitudes of utter nihilism and hopeful quest which is an aspect that; Thomas S. Hibbs writes about this.)  Then again, maybe the Dionysian only seems tragic from the perspective of Apollonian.  From the perspective of the Dionysian, it’s simply reality.

I sense this is part of the context of my thinking about how Freud and Jung relate to pessimism and optimism, but I’m not sure exactly how.  Maybe the Dionysian concrete world is only tragic when isolated from the Apollonian, when the apparent is taken literally.  The Dionysian should be taken at face value, but Dionysus’ face value is a mask that must be looked through (by putting it on).  Maybe the Freudian tendency to pathologize is to make a literalistic judgment instead of imaginally entering the experience itself.  The Jungian view in some ways seems Apollonian in that it looks beyond but maybe the only way one can look beyond is by looking within.  I’m thinking that Apollo and Dionysus are two sides to the same thing, but you can only see the one you’re not inhabiting.  The Dionysian seems tragic from the view of the Apollonian, but to put on the mask of Dionysus one can then see the beauty of the Apollonian.  As Kafka said, maybe the only suffering we can avoid is our own resistance to suffering. 

In my own world of ideas, Ken Wilber and Carl Jung personify the hedgehog and the fox.  Both have studied widely, but the former systematizes according to very clear models and theories whereas the latter spent decades slowly spiralling around ideas that interested him.  Even as Wilber’s ideas evolved, his central conception remained unchanged and his new thinking merely accreted to it.  Wilber methodically built upon what he perceived as solid ground.  Quite differently, Jung’s ideas often seemed ungrounded and yet somehow still very tangible.  Jung was very much interested in helping people (and it could be easily argued that he has helped more people than Wilber), but much of his philosophizing had no direct practical value (such as his writing a book about UFOs).  Related to the Freudian and Jungian distinction, I’ve read some critics who have argued Wilber pathologizes the types of experiences Jung focused on.  Wilber’s over-arching model is based on his desire for the transcendent.  Freud wasn’t interested in the transcendent, but maybe what Wilber and Freud share is a resistance to entering the depths.  To enter the depths is risky as Dionysus can be a violent god, but going by the stories of Dionysus it might be even riskier to resist his power.

In case anyone is curious to study Jungian typology further, there are a few books that are helpful in elucidating types in terms of ways of viewing the world.  Most pertinent might be Lenore Thomson’s Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual (trust me, it’s much better than it’s title conveys) and there is also a very useful site about her work (The Lenore Thomson Exegesis Wiki), but three others that I’d recommend are Compass of the Soulby John L. Giannini, Integrity in Depth by John Beebe, and Pathways to Integrity by Blake Burleson.  These books explore Jung’s ideas about personality beyond simply categorizing people as types.  There are also several books about the ideas of Jung and Nietzsche which would discuss the Apollonian and Dionysian.  The book I have on the subject is Nietzsche and Jungby Lucy Huskinson, but another one that might be good is The Dionysian Self by Paul Bishop and there are at least a couple of books about Jung’s seminar on Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.

Prodigal Son, Boundaries, and Trickster

Let me add another set of thoughts.  

I have a friend who is attracted to the story of the prodigal son and so I was wondering if it works as another example of what I’m trying to articulate.  In terms of that story, maybe the prodigal son would be the fox and maybe the son who stays home would be the hedgehog.  This relates to boundaries for the prodigal son leaves the boundary of home.  He must leave in order to return changed.  The home is often a symbol of self-identity, of consciousness and ego.  To leave that behind is to enter the unknown, the unconscious.  And in the process he lost everything he had been given.  But the story seems to imply that he also gained something by his experience.  It seems to me that this isn’t a story about the journey everyone has to take but rather about the journey of a certain kind of person. 

It’s similar to the fairytales about the three sons who each individually try to accomplish some deed.  The two older brothers try first.  They have specific talents and plans, but they fail.  The last to try is the youngest son who isn’t strong, brave or smart, but he succeeds.  The point apparently is that he succeeds because of his openminded attitude towards life and other people.  As such, he seems more like a fox.

There are many ideas that relate to boundaries.  Hartmann’s boundary types correlate with Jungian typology to an extent.  People tend towards thick or thin boundaries which is a basic element to how people relate to the world.  George P. Hansen, in analyzing the paranormal, writes about these boundary types and connects it with the Trickster archetype(Keith Thompson also writes about the Trickster and boundaries in terms of the paranormal and further uses the difference between allegory and literalism).  The Trickster is involved with both the creation and the breaking of boundaries.  The Trickster is somewhat of a tragic figure at times and seems more connected to Dionysus than Apollo, but in certain ways he is more in between them (and in between any sets of opposites).  The Trickster is something like Adam in that in some stories he brings death into the world.  The Savior, on the other hand, is the Second Adam in that he transcends death (although, Saviors tend to have Trickster qualities as well).  In the book Christ In Egypt, Murdock writes about the Christian conception of the savior as it relates to Egyptian mythology.  Horus is the corollary to Christ and the name Horus relates to the term horos which means boundary.  The boundary has much significance in religion and in ritual.  Boundaries create liminal spaces and also create order in the world.

Some Previous Thoughts

This is an excerpt from an old blog post:

A recent discovery of mine is research showing that the MBTI correlates with Ernest Hartmann’s boundary types.  Let me go into more detail here because this is an important part of my viewpoint.  There are four components to the MBTI: Introversion vs Extraversion (E/I), Sensation vs Intuition (S/N), Thinking vs Feeling (T/F), Judging vs Perceiving (J/P).

(1) Introversion and Extroversion seem to have the least correlation to boundary types, but there were some aspects to it that seemed to fit.  Introverts tend to have more of an ability to focus intensely and for long periods of time, and they tend to be more territorial about personal space.  Extraverts, on the other hand, are drawn outwards and so are more easily distracted by their environment.  Here is a relevant quote from Hartmann’s book Dreams and Nightmares:

“Those who have taken psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, report that under the drug’s influence they have thinner boundaries in a number of senses.  On the other hand, taking stimulants such as amphetamines, or for some people, antidepressants, definitely produces a thickening of boundaries.  In the most extreme case, people given large doses of amphetamines first become intensely focused; they are the opposite of distractible, keeping their thoughts entire on one line of thought.”

(2) Sensation and Intuition have the highest correlation to boundary types according to the studies.  Simply put, you can think of the difference here being between those who tend towards the concrete and those who tend towards the abstract, but there are many other dimensions to it.  Another interesting aspect is that Sensors tend to be more conservative basing their decisions on past experience, whereas Intuitives are more innovative because they can more easily see future possibilities.  Obviously, Sensors (and in particular the SJ temperament) are the practical sort of person who sees reality for what it is (based on what it was).  Some Intuitives, on the other hand, may seem like daydreamers, but Intuives also tend to be the innovators.

The concrete preference of Sensors is what makes them thick boundary types.  Things are clearly what they are and each thing is clearly distinct from other things.  Sensors have commonsense.  The abstract preference of Intuitives lends them to thin boundaries.  Distinctions are more blurred.  Because they can more easily shift distinctions, they can see new relationships between things.

In this symposium, I’ve definitely noticed the contrast between the practical-minded realists and those drawn to more theoretical understandings and far-reaching (or over-reaching if you prefer) possibilities.  As I believe, it’s not a matter of either style being more correct.  To speak from a green vmeme perspective, it takes all types.

(3) Thinking and Feeling are slightly less correlated to boundary types, but there are some important connections.  Thinking is about principles and rules with a focus on autonomy.  Feeling is about values and morality with a focus on relationships.

There is a fairly strong split with most Thinking types being male and most Feeling types being female.  This same division comes up with boundary types.  Thick boundary types tend to be male and thin boundary types tend to be female.  To understand this archetypally, this relates to the animus and the anima.  To understand this in the real world, this relates to the conflict between Integralists and New Agers.  It has been pointed by others how the Integral movement is dominated by men.  Also, you could think of this division in terms of Ken Wilber’s Grace and Grit or the movie The Fountain.

(4) Judging and Perceiving are an interesting division that was original to Jung’s typology.  Studies have shown that J/P doesn’t test as separate from S/N with young children, and so there is some developmental aspect to this (whether biological or psychological).  In MBTI, J/P simply determines which function you Extravert, but it can be looked at as its own category and there is some correlation to boundary types.  Judging types like order and conclusiveness.  Perceiving types are more about creative chaos and they prefer to keep their options open.

With J/P, I sense a similarity to a division between two kinds of thinkers which brings me back closer to this symposium.  I’ve seen distinctions (here and here) made between Ken Wilber and William Irwin Thompson.  This partly seems like a difference between a systematizer and a bricoleur.  Interestingly, William Irwin Thompson’s son (Evan Thompson) co-wrote some books with the enactivist crowd.  So, this made me think of the possible differences between enactivism and tetra-enactivism.  From what I’ve read, Varela seems to have intentionally avoided systematizing his ideas, but then Wilber took Varela’s ideas and systematized them for him.

The bricoleur is a term I’m using in its relationship to the George P. Hansen’s book The Trickster and the Paranormal(2001).  Hansen uses the term bricoleur as one way of describing the Trickster archetype.  Hansen also brings up Victor Turner’s ideas of liminality, anti-structure, and communitas.  Enactivism questions the traditional assumptions of science and so blurs the boundaries somewhat.  Varela was influenced by phenomenology, and Hansen says that ethnomethodology was similarly influenced.  Ethnomethodology (along with sociology of scientific knowledge and studies of experiment expectancy effects) puts the scientific endeavor into a very different context.


There are also some other blog posts that cover similar territory as this one.

Political Party, Morality, Personality, Gender

Morality, Politics, and Psychology

Jung and Typology, Gnosticism and Christianity

Concluding Thoughts, Personal Context

These are just some thoughts, some connections… tentative as they are.  I haven’t fully articulated the possible significance of this line of thinking.  I’ll surely be returning to this more in future posts.

By the way, going by some of my blog posts, someone might conclude I was a hedgehog.  I do have a slight tendency at times to systematize, but it isn’t exactly my inherent nature.  When younger, I had an extremely unsystematic mind, but was raised by two extremely systematic parents.  I not only learned how to be systematic, but learned to highly value it.  My mind is a chaos of ideas and impressions.  I’m more systematic in the way Jung was.  Jung was capable of thinking systematically in order to clarify some set of ideas, but he wasn’t attached to the results.  Jung’s thinking was eternally tentative.  Likewise, ideas in my head tend to constellate together organically rather than my trying to fit them into a particular theory.  Also, I’m an INFP type.  INFPs are the penultimate artist living in creative chaos (you should see my room), but INFPs have Thinking as their inferior which means (according to Beebe’s theory) its what we aspire towards (for example, the systematization of Jung’s typology in the form of the MBTI was accomplished by an INFP).  This aspirational Thinking was magnified in me as my parents are Thinking types.  So, I may aspire towards systematic thinking, but unlike my parents I’m completely impractical about it.  Even when being systematic, I’m lost in the abstractions and imaginations of my mind.  My systematizing still is subordinate to my creative chaos.

I’ll add some last thoughts.  There are many reasons for thinking styles.  Personality type and traits are just some of the most obvious or at least the easiest to understand. 

In light of this, I’d say that hedgehogs may or may not be systematizers, but their one big idea or belief would tend towards the systematic in that everything is filtered and ordered accordingly.  However, a hedgehog may or may not inherently have a systematic personality.  For instance, someone who experiences some trauma or life changing experience can become a crusader fighting against or for something.  If someone was abused as a child, they may become an advocate for children as a career and they may take this on as their central sense of identity.  Another type of experience would be something like a spiritual vision or an alien abduction.  If the person openly speaks of this experience, they might become polarized into an extreme position because of negative reactions from others.  There is an attraction to becoming a hedgehog for having such a clear sense of vision or purpose can be very motivating and comforting.  This often happens in conversion experiences where a person actively prosyletizes their new found belief and organizes their whole life around it.  Brought to the extreme, this one big thing becomes their whole reality (like a conspiracy theorist).

Foxes too can become the way they are through life events and experiences.  If someone rebels against some belief system they were raised with, then they may become the complete opposite and try to deny all belief systems.  Or else psychiatric conditions can create tendencies.  Personally, depression has probably encouraged a fox attitude in me by how it scatters my psychic energy.  But another depressed person might turn to a belief system to conserve their energy or else become obsessed with something to counteract the lack of focus.  I do at times become obsessive with certain subjects which does seem a direct response to depression, but the scattermindedness always prevails.  I know that for me it’s a combination of personality, moods, and general life experiences. 

I’ll say I wouldn’t mind having some transformative experience that turned me into a hedgehog because I’d probably get a lot more done.  Plus, most great thinkers who are remembered as being great by historians are almost exclusively hedgehogs.  Rightly or wrongly, hedgehogs have the most direct influence on society.  The experts with strong opinions are the ones that get to be the talking heads on tv.  The foxes who can see multiple perspectives have a hard time getting to a clear point and so their opinions don’t make for good sound bytes.  Foxes probably make for bad debaters as well.  Foxes either end up creating convoluted websites or else writing tomes that few ever would read (or writing blogs).  If a fox can’t learn some hedgehog abilities, they might as well give up trying to communicate.

There are reasons to be critical of typing people at all.  Most people don’t perfectly fits into any given category.  Hartmann talks about this in terms of boundary types and MBTI practitioners recognize this.  People may act differently in different situations.  Someone may have a focused mind at work where they’ve learned to implement a particular model or system, but at home they may pursue a wide variety of subjects and ideas completely outside of or even contrary to their work mindset.  So, an academic might simply accept a hedgehog-like attitude just to fit in, but secretly hold doubts or alternative views.  A religious person, in particular, may act like a hedgehog, not just to convince others but even to try to convince themselves.  As such, this person would look for all the ways this belief system can be supported in order to assuage their doubts.  On the other hand, a person who is confident in their hedgehog thinking may be less vocal and so may not even be noticeably hedgehog-like.  Still, despite situational behavior, most people probably have a basic personality or personal preferences in their thinking style and will act that way when given the freedom to just be themselves.