“Why are you thinking about this?”

“Why are you thinking about this?”

That was the question my father recently asked me, in relation to thoughts I had about books I was reading. The moment I heard the question, I realized he had asked me that question many times before, when discussing other topics.

I’m a naturally curious person. It isn’t that I don’t think about the reasons for my curiosity, but I wouldn’t think about it in the way that my father’s question was intended. His question felt defensive, and I realized that I often sense that defensive quality whenever I bring up a new set of ideas to my father. I’m so used to it, though, that I don’t normally give it much consideration. It’s usually just in the background.

My father has been my intellectual sparring partner for my entire life. He taught me how to think more than anyone else. This is significant for a number of reasons.

Most importantly, he is a conservative and I a liberal. So, my own thinking has naturally fallen into the grooves of this ideological dialectic. I’m incapable of thinking of liberalism and conservatism as separate phenomena. My relationship to my father is the ground for my experience of liberalism’s relationship to conservatism. This obviously gives a slant to my views. My liberalism is forever the son’s challenge to the father and hence to all things patriarchal and paternalistic.

This relationship is well established between my father and I. We each know our roles. When he asks me for my reasons, he isn’t just being generally defensive, but specifically toward something. There is something, as I see it, that conservatives will seek to defend before all else. I’ve previously called it symbolic conflation (also, see here, here, and here). It is the linchpin of the social order.

When I go off on my questioning obsessions, I’m wiggling that linchpin. I know it and my father knows it.

I may pretend that isn’t what I’m doing, for sake of good relations, but the fact of the matter is that I find myself a disturber of the peace in the Hobbit’s Shire. Like Bilbo Baggins, I’m not intending to be a radical revolutionary, a mean-spirited malcontent, or a mischievous troublemaker. I resisted my fate, as best I could, but to no avail. A disturber of the peace becomes such for somewhere along the way his own peace was disturbed. My mind and soul is disturbed by forces I neither comprehend nor control (some would call it ‘depression’), and so I act accordingly. It is what it is.

No one chooses to see the linchpin. But once seen, it is hard to unsee, no matter how disturbing.

Researchers have even shown that people will sometimes go to great effort not to see something. A study was done on different patterns of eye focusing. There was some image that didn’t fit into a person’s worldview or else didn’t fit into what they deemed acceptable, and as I recall the researchers were specifically dividing people according to ideological categories.

What was found was that certain people would look all over the room while conspicuously not looking at the one place where that image was located. So, they weren’t looking at it, but at some level they had seen it in their peripheral vision and were unconsciously recognizing its presence by actively looking all around it. This is a cognitive blindspot, not a lack of physical ability to see, just a lack of conscious willingness and desire to perceive.

That is how I think conservatives deal with symbolic conflations (conservative-minded liberals deal with it in the same way). They spend immense energy defending what they will never directly acknowledge. That is why the structure of the psychological dynamic is so important, where the symbol is conflated with reality. The symbol, as such, represents and obscures. The conservative knows and doesn’t know what the symbol means. The conflation is so tricky that even most liberals have a hard time untangling the knot or even realizing there is a knot to be untangled, and that is the conflation’s primary purpose, to hide the soft underbelly from probing daggers.

The conservative’s task is much easier for the reason that most liberals don’t want to untangle the knot, to remove the linchpin. Still, that is what conservative’s fear, for they know liberals have that capacity, no matter how unlikely they are to act on it. This fear is real. The entire social order is dependent on overlapping symbolic conflations, each a link in a chain, and so each a point of vulnerability.

A symbolic conflation both represents and replaces what is unspoken, both distracts from and obscures what is hidden. It is a fluttering bird luring the predator away from the nest. My mind was brought back to these thoughts not just because of my father’s question, although the question helped focus my mind. Seeing the fluttering bird of his question, my attention was drawn to the trajectory from which it was fleeing.

What started all this was my reading about shame (along with guilt, honor, etc), the topic that elicited my father’s question. It so happens that conservatism and liberalism are key to my thoughts about shame, although I had not immediately stated so to him, but still he sensed the implications.

The issue of shame is a sore spot where conservatism and liberalism have, from their close proximity, rubbed each other raw. It is also a site of much symbolic conflation, the linchpin like a stake in the ground to which a couple of old warriors are tied in their ritual dance of combat and wounding, where both are so focused on one another that neither pays much attention to the stake that binds them together. In circling around, they wind themselves ever tighter and their tethers grow shorter.

Stepping away from that predictable struggle, I found myself wondering about what is outside the proscribed boundary of polarized consciousness. In my specific inquiry here, my mind slipped down a side path that runs parallel to well-tread ruts. Exploring shame caused me to wander afield, as the subject is new territory for me, and in wandering I found myself following this new trail of thought. As often happens, I discovered something of interest along the way.

I was led back to an author and a book with which I’m already familiar, but I was now able to see it in new light. The book in question is Trickster Makes the World by Lewis Hyde. I had forgotten how much the author discusses shame and I have to say it is one of the better books on the subject that I’ve so far read. Here is what caught my attention. A few sections I recognized as territory from my own maps of symbolic conflation. Hyde’s cartographic descriptions of this emotional terrain, however, uses trickster mythology (instead of ideological predispositions) for the map’s legend and scaling.

In the first passage that got me excited, Hyde shows the relationship between shame, the body, and the social order. He writes that (pp. 169-170),

“[A]n unalterable fact about the body is linked to a place in the social order, and in both cases, to accept the link is to be caught in a kind of trap.

“Before anyone can be snared in this trap, an equation must be made between the body and the world (my skin color is my place as a Hispanic; menstruation is my place as a woman). This substituting of one thing for another is called metonymy in rhetoric, one of the many figures of thought, a trope or verbal turn. The construction of the trap of shame begins with this metonymic trick, a kind of bait and switch in which one’s changeable social place is figured in terms of an unchangeable part of the body. Then by various means the trick is made to blend invisibly into the landscape. To begin with, there are always larger stories going on— about women or race or a snake in a garden. The enchantment of those regularly repeated fables, along with the rules of silence at their edges, and the assertion that they are intuitively true— all these things secure the borders of the narrative and make it difficult to see the contingency of its figures of thought. Once the verbal tricks are invisible, the artifice of the social order becomes invisible as well, and begins to seem natural. As menstruation and skin color and the genitals are natural facts, so the social and psychological orders become natural facts.

“In short, to make the trap of shame we inscribe the body as a sign of wider worlds, then erase the artifice of that signification so that the content of shame becomes simply the way things are, as any fool can see.

“If this is how the trap is made, then escaping it must involve reversing at least some of these elements. In what might be called the “heavy-bodied” escape, one senses that there’s something to be changed but ends up trying to change the body itself, mutilating it, or even committing suicide…”

I loved his explaining of this metonymy as a bait and switch. It is a brilliant analysis of how symbolic conflation operates. Hyde unpacks the confusion and in its place offers clarity.

The visceral language he uses is powerful. Symbolic conflation sounds too abstract. The actual experience really is to be snared in a trap. The body, as being spoken of here, isn’t a mere metaphor. What makes it so compelling is that the imagined gets identified with the body, with specific parts and specific functions of specific bodies. One feels this in one’s own body and so at the most basic level of one’s sense of identity and reality.

So much falls into place once this is understood. I’m forced to think more deeply about my own previous speculations and understandings. I sense how this touches upon the beating heart of symbolic conflation. A symbol is always rooted in the imagination with the taproot running deep into visceral experience, the body being the dark soil in which it grows. It is in our telling of stories that this visceral experience is brought to life and made personally real. A story is about meaning, but it is a meaning more of emotions than of ideas.

I’m also brought back to thoughts of reactionary conservatism. Is Hyde specifically pinning down the fluttering wings of the reactionary conservative? Has he devised his own snare to entrap the reactionary conservative in action, like a camera set up to snap a picture of a wary beast in the deep wilderness? If so, what is the precise relationship between reactionary conservatism and symbolic conflation that is captured here?

I’ll return to those questions, but first let me explore further into what Hyde has written about. In the next passage, he explores a historical context for one particular trickster mythology, Hermes of the ancient Greeks (pp. 206-207):

“[Norman O. Brown] therefore proposes this parallel: just as Hermes acquires a place alongside Apollo in the course of the Hymn, so in the course of the sixth century the “Athenian industrial and commercial classes achieved equality with the aristocracy.” That equality was not easily won; it required the resolution of a whole series of differences. In the aristocratic era, wealth came from herding and farming the soil; in Athenian democracy those sources of wealth still existed but were increasingly challenged by a craft economy and commercial exchange with strangers. Agrarian aristocracy was organized around hierarchical kinship ties; Athenian democracy retained such ties but added a new ethic of equality symbolized by the fact that many political positions in Athens were filled by a lottery in which all citizens could participate, regardless of family or status. Most important, the emerging cosmopolitan democracy brought with it a “new ethics of acquisitive individualism [that] conflicted with the traditional morality which the Greeks called Themis— the body of customs and laws inherited from the age of familial collectivism.” The older morality took any deviation from “the archaic form of commerce by mutual exchange of gifts” to be an immoral thieving (even what we would now call fair trade was taken to be robbery). In short, during the sixth century, a world organized through kin relationships and a collective ethic of gift exchange gave way to a world in which hierarchy could be periodically revised and social relations were increasingly articulated through the individualist (which is to say, thieving) ethic of the marketplace.

“As for those who were excluded or marginalized, we should remember that, in a society where the dominant values are kin ties and agrarian wealth, those whose identity is bound up with trade are typically consigned to a subordinate place in the order of things. They are, so to speak, “low caste” (as they have been historically in India, where merchants and artisans fall into the lower two of the four varnas). If, in the Greek case, such people hope to place themselves on an equal footing with the warriors and family farmers of ancient days, they will have to subvert that order and reshape it on their own terms. Such, Brown argues, is exactly what happened: the “regime of the landed aristocracy was overthrown, its agrarian economy yielding to a new economy based on trade and handicraft industry, its political oligarchy yielding to the politics of ancient democracy.” The Hymn reflects that change: “The theme of strife between Hermes and Apollo translates into mythical language the insurgence of the Greek lower classes and their demands for equality with the aristocracy.”

“Brown’s claims cover a lot of ground and his talk of class conflict gives off an air of retrospective Marxism, but the [Homeric] Hymn itself, however we fit it into actual Greek history, sets up a tension in accord with the one that Brown suggests. There is little doubt that in the classical period Hermes is associated with artisans, merchants, and thieves, and the poem itself makes it clear that some kind of “outsiderness” is at issue, and that Hermes hopes to change it.”

Right there! That is key. The described “outsiderness” brings us directly to the doorstep of the reactionary conservative, as understood by Corey Robin. Before I get to that, let me add the paragraph that immediately follows the above (p. 207):

“To effect that change he has, as I said earlier, a method by which the excluded can enter a group, change its structure, and give themselves a place at the table. A whole range of cunning tricks makes up this method, but its underlying structure is quite simple: no matter what he does, Hermes is either an enchanter or a disenchanter.”

I would note and emphasize that this touches upon the Burkean roots of reactionary conservatism.

Edmund Burke was one of those outsiders (in his case, raised a Catholic in Ireland) who sought “a place at the table” of the English ruling elite. He didn’t want to overturn the table and certainly not to take an axe to it. His attitude was that of the emerging middle class challenging the weakening traditionalism of the ancien régime. It was the same basic pattern that played out two millennia before in ancient Greece.

It is interesting to think of the reactionary conservative in his role as trickster. He is seeking to redefine his position and remake the social order, of course in his own image. The reactionary rhetoric being used is tricksy, for it generously borrows from the political left in order to undermine the political left. The reactionary conservative seeks to usurp the liberals role as challenger to the status quo and simultaneously to remove the teeth of radicalism, leaving the left without any real bite.

Enchanter and deceiver. The trickster may free you but at a cost of enslaving you to something else. He hypnotizes you with a story and makes you drowsy with a song, he puts you under the sway of an archetype and delivers you into the control of an unseen power.

This is what the reactionary conservative does with symbolic conflation, not to claim that this is how conservatives understand their own actions, as this process happens mostly within the unconscious, the territory of the imagination and the playground of the trickster. Reactionary conservatives end up deceiving both others and themselves, a mutually-afflicted magic spell of misdirection and mystification.

Edmund Burke the progressive reformer becomes Edmund Burke the reactionary conservative. Was there an actual change of character or was his real character revealed?

Is the reactionary mode of being the trickster lying in wait within the liberal mind? Do liberals simply fall prey to their own fears and dark thoughts? If Burke hadn’t felt shame in his outsider status that he tried to hide by gaining social position, might he have avoided falling into this reactionary stance of pulling up the ladder behind him? Why is it so often that the challenger to power who is the one most fearful of challenges to power and so most reactionary to any further unsettling of the status quo?

With this in mind, Hyde does offer further context, in which he describes two aspects of the trickster (pp. 208-209):

“Depending on which way he is moving across the threshold, I call him Hermes of the Dark or Hermes of the Light. Hermes of the Dark is the enchanter or hypnagoge who moves us into the underworld of sleep, dream, story, myth. This darkening motion is a precondition of belief; with it Hermes delivers you to one of the gods and puts you under his or her spell. He dissolves time in the river of forgetfulness, and once time has disappeared the eternals come forward. Hermes of the Dark is the weaver of dreams, the charmer who spins a compelling tale, the orator who speaks your mother tongue with fluid conviction.

“Hermes of the Light is the disenchanter or awakening angel who leads you out of the cave. There the bright light prepares the ground for doubt. There he kills and roasts the sacred cattle. He dissolves eternals in the river of time, and when they have disappeared, the world becomes contingent and accidental. Hermes of the Light translates dreams into analytic language; he rubs the charm from old stories until they seem hopelessly made up and mechanical. He walks you inland until you stop dreaming in your mother tongue.

“Hermes himself is neither one of these alone but both at once. He is neither the god of the door leading out nor the god of the door leading in— he is the god of the hinge. He is the mottled figure in the half-light, the amnigoge who simultaneously amazes and unmazes, whose wand both “bewitches the eyes of men to sleep and wakes the sleeping,” as Homer says in the Iliad. I sometimes wonder if all great creative minds do not participate in this double motion, humming a new and catchy theogony even as they demystify the gods their elders sang about. Pablo Picasso had that double motion, disturbing classical perspective while presenting a strange new way of seeing, one so hypnotic it shows up decades after his death on billboards and children’s printed pajamas. Sigmund Freud had that double motion, dragging slips of the tongue into the daylight, or “explaining” Moses, while simultaneously retelling the old story of Oedipus in a manner so compelling that, decades after his death, Ivy League literary critics can’t get it out of their heads. Or there is Vladimir Nabokov: if you think his deft language magic is serious, you’re wrong, and if you think it’s just a game, you’re wrong.”

Hermes of the Dark and Hermes of the Light. The latter might be thought of as the liberal mind in radical mode. The former would then be the liberal mind in reactionary mode, what is known more simply as conservatism, it likely being redundant calling a conservative reactionary.

Hermes isn’t one or the other. He is both the enchanter and the disenchanter.

This is how I see liberalism in this liberal age. I suspect that ultimately the radical and the reactionary are the two archetypal roles of the trickster, as they get expressed in post-Enlightenment modernity. Hermes the enchanter puts the linchpin in place and hides its location. Hermes the disenchanter is the liberating force that wiggles the linchpin or even pulls it out, but only to put it back in at another location. The trickster shifts, not destroys, the boundary.

The great minds of any age play both roles in an act of creative destruction. They learn from the problems and weaknesses of the old vision. They then replace it with an even more powerful reality tunnel, a cognitive trap that will be even harder to escape, whether or not that was their intended result.

This is how we must understand conservatives. The best conservative thinkers and leaders were able to accomplish this magic trick. They offered something new and convinced so many that it was always that way. Conservatives are first and foremost enthralling storytellers, drawing us into their narratives, sometimes even against our better judgment. They don’t just redefine conservatism, but the entire political framework and the entire historical foundation of thought. They proscribe the perceived reality of what was, what is, and what must be.

This obviously isn’t how conservatives think of themselves, and that is the entire point. What they do has so much power for the very reason that it doesn’t correspond to what they say. The closer you watch the more you will be thrown by the sleight-of-hand.

I’ll allow Corey Robin to explain this from his own perspective, as written in his book The Reactionary Mind (pp. 42-43):

“Whether in Europe or the United States, in this century or previous ones, conservatism has been a forward movement of restless and relentless change, partial to risk taking and ideological adventurism, militant in its posture and populist in its bearings, friendly to upstarts and insurgents, outsiders and newcomers alike. While the conservative theorist claims for his tradition the mantle of prudence and moderation, there is a not-so-subterranean strain of imprudence and immoderation running through that tradition— a strain that, however counterintuitive it seems, connects Sarah Palin to Edmund Burke.

“A consideration of this deeper strain of conservatism gives us a clearer sense of what conservatism is about. While conservatism is an ideology of reaction— originally against the French Revolution, more recently against the liberation movements of the sixties and seventies— that reaction has not been well understood. Far from yielding a knee-jerk defense of an unchanging old regime or a thoughtful traditionalism, the reactionary imperative presses conservatism in two rather different directions: first, to a critique and reconfiguration of the old regime; and second, to an absorption of the ideas and tactics of the very revolution or reform it opposes. What conservatism seeks to accomplish through that reconfiguration of the old and absorption of the new is to make privilege popular, to transform a tottering old regime into a dynamic, ideologically coherent movement of the masses. A new old regime, one could say, which brings the energy and dynamism of the street to the antique inequalities of a dilapidated estate.”

When I first read this book, Robin’s theory was disconcerting. I had previously been taken in by all of the confusing rhetoric. I couldn’t make heads or tails out of any of it. I couldn’t figure out what conservatism even meant or was supposed to represent. Like most Americans, the obfuscation was a powerful force in obstructing clear thought. But what if, as Robin suggests, conservatism is in some sense the complete opposite of what it pretends to be? That is a truly radical possibility.

The one part of his theory that is most intriguing is something I already pointed out. According to Robin, conservatism is and always has been driven by outsiders. That is what gives it such a dynamic quality, as opposed to its proclamations of traditionalism. In speaking about “populist currents,” he states that they “can help us make sense of a final element of conservatism.” As he elaborates (pp. 57-58):

“From the beginning, conservatism has appealed to and relied upon outsiders. Maistre was from Savoy, Burke from Ireland. Alexander Hamilton was born out of wedlock in Nevis and rumored to be part black. Disraeli was a Jew, as are many of the neoconservatives who helped transform the Republican Party from a cocktail party in Darien into the party of Scalia, d’Souza, Gonzalez, and Yoo. (It was Irving Kristol who first identified “the historical task and political purpose of neoconservatism” as the conversion of “the Republican Party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy.”) 41 Allan Bloom was a Jew and a homosexual. And as she never tired of reminding us during the 2008 campaign, Sarah Palin is a woman in a world of men, an Alaskan who said no to Washington (though she really didn’t), a maverick who rode shotgun to another maverick.”

This outsider element is key to probing beneath appearances. It gets down to the visceral feeling behind conservatism, the gut-level pull of its language and imagery. “Conservatism,” he continues (p. 58),

“has not only depended upon outsiders; it also has seen itself as the voice of the outsider. From Burke’s cry that “the gallery is in the place of the house” to Buckley’s complaint that the modern conservative is “out of place,” the conservative has served as a tribune for the displaced, his movement a conveyance of their grievances. 42 Far from being an invention of the politically correct, victimhood has been a talking point of the right ever since Burke decried the mob’s treatment of Marie Antoinette. The conservative, to be sure, speaks for a special type of victim: one who has lost something of value, as opposed to the wretched of the earth, whose chief complaint is that they never had anything to lose. His constituency is the contingently dispossessed— William Graham Sumner’s “forgotten man”— rather than the preternaturally oppressed. Far from diminishing his appeal, this brand of victim-hood endows the conservative complaint with a more universal significance. It connects his disinheritance to an experience we all share— namely, loss— and threads the strands of that experience into an ideology promising that that loss, or at least some portion of it, can be made whole.”

This brings me around to the original issue. Loss is a powerful emotion and so it is a site of symbolic conflation, where the trickster can play his tricks. Loss speaks to everyone and it is a truly amazing trick to make loss symbolic of power itself, of position and privilege (pp. 58-59):

People on the left often fail to realize this, but conservatism really does speak to and for people who have lost something. It may be a landed estate or the privileges of white skin, the unquestioned authority of a husband or the untrammeled rights of a factory owner. The loss may be as material as money or as ethereal as a sense of standing. It may be a loss of something that was never legitimately owned in the first place; it may, when compared with what the conservative retains, be small. Even so, it is a loss, and nothing is ever so cherished as that which we no longer possess. It used to be one of the great virtues of the left that it alone understood the often zero-sum nature of politics, where the gains of one class necessarily entail the losses of another. But as that sense of conflict diminishes on the left, it has fallen to the right to remind voters that there really are losers in politics and that it is they— and only they— who speak for them. “All conservatism begins with loss,” Andrew Sullivan rightly notes, which makes conservatism not the Party of Order, as Mill and others have claimed, but the party of the loser.”

But what is loss? It is primarily a feeling. Once elicited, many stories can be woven around it, both hopeful and disempowering, both beneficial and malign. Loss by itself, however, has no inherent meaning.

Loss is a wound, an opening and an openness to meaning. In portraying the listener as the wounded, the rhetorician and storyteller puts the listener in the position of vulnerability and fear. If one is wounded, someone must have done the wounding and so there must be an attacker toward which requires a defense or a counter-attack. The loss points an accusing finger to a thief and a criminal, someone undeserving and dangerous, a taker rather than a maker, a destroyer rather than a creator.

The trickster is as much about what isn’t there, silence as much as sound, which is why loss resonates so deeply here. Loss signifies something and yet refuses to settle on a single significance. It makes us uncomfortable, to sit too long alone in that throbbing ache. We seek to fill the emptiness with meaning or yet more emotion, anger or shame, hatred or longing, or else fill the silence with the sound of speaking, our own voice or that of another.

Loss is elusive, always shifting, hence its trickster quality and reactionary persuasion. We are willing to be deceived by anyone who will tell us what our loss means, who will give us a story to help us forget, if only temporarily.

Lewis Hyde also touches upon this theme of loss in Trickster Makes This World (pp. 287-288):

“Like the heap of stones over a grave, the symbol that stands for a thing that has been lost (not “Krishna” but “Krishna-gone”) belongs to an odd class of symbols. We cannot “read through it” to its sense, because what it stands for is missing. It operates not as a point of entry into meaning but paradoxically as a breeder of multiple meanings. That is to say, when we try to find the sense of one of these “symbols of loss,” we discover only senses that we ourselves bring to it, and we can easily bring new ones each time we approach. (A famous example is Thoreau’s remark in Walden: “I long ago lost a hound, a bay horse, and a turtle dove, and am still on their trail.” A hundred and fifty years after this line was written, what one notices is not that its readers have slowly settled on its true meaning but that meanings have proliferated each time someone looks at it.) Symbols of absent things draw interpretive minds the way the flute music draws the gopis. If multiple meanings are what you want, a lost hound is a better breeder than any real Fido. Krishna erases the mundane, then erases himself, and these removals— precisely because they do not declare— open the field for human beings to spin out endlessly their sense of what has happened.”

A symbolic conflation always points elsewhere, assuming it points anywhere at all. It is an empty signifier, for it can never mean what it claims, can never be as it seems. It sends one’s mind in circles, chasing what is not there, a shadow cast from somewhere else, and like a shadow it is defined by a lack of substance. It is the shape of an empty space, a sense of an absence. It is an aporia in the narrative, an elision between meaning and the meaningless.

I’m always enticed by what is missing, unspoken, ignored. My father’s question attracted my attention not because of some answer it was pointing toward, but because it seemed to point away from something else, maybe another question. That is the same basic reason that has obsessed my mind about symbolic conflation. It feels like there is no end to insights to be mined, for the trickster multiplies meaning. The trickster can always disenchant. Our minds can be freed of the binds that tie us down and tangle up our every thought.

Still, taken at face value, my father’s question is a serious question. Why do I focus on what I do? I ultimately don’t know.

It reminds me of my habit of always looking down as I walk. My father, on the other hand, never looks down and has a habit of stepping on things. It is only by looking down that we can see what is underneath our feet, what we stand on or are stepping toward. Foundation and fundament are always below eye level. Even in my thinking, I’m forever looking down, to what is beneath everyday awareness and oft-repeated words. Just to look down, such a simple and yet radical act.

Looking down is also a sign of shame or else humility, the distinction maybe being less relevant to those who avoid looking down. To humble means to bring low, to the level of the ground, the soil, humus. To be further down the ladder of respectability, to be low caste or low class, is to have a unique vantage point. One can see more clearly and more widely when one has grown accustomed to looking down, for then one can see the origins of things, the roots of the world, where experience meets the ground of being.

This is also of the trickster. One can learn a lot about people by looking at their shit and sifting through their garbage, all that is metaphorically and literally rejected and repressed, tossed away and thrown aside. The greatest of insights are gleaned this way. Those who know shame are given the opportunity to know what gets lost and hidden in the muck of shame. Toiling in the dirt and grime, they can dig up what was buried, now decaying, and in the hole dug they can plant seeds to grow.

Where sun and earth meet is the liminal space of the fertile.

As Hyde explains (pp. 179-180):

“In this world, in trickster’s world, life and death are one thing, not two, and therefore no one gets rid of death without getting rid of life as well. You get no seeds at all if the sunlight is too pure ever to mingle with the muck of the rice paddies. You get no seeds if shit never enters the New Palace. And because there is always a hunger seeking for those seeds, whenever humans or gods move to purify life by excluding death, or to protect order completely from the dirt that is its by-product, trickster will upset their plans. When purity approaches sterility, he will tear a hole in the sacred enclosure and drop a dead pony on the virgin weavers, or strew his feces under the Sun Goddess’s throne. In the Legba story we saw that trickster can create the boundary between heaven and earth, threatening the gods with dirt until they retreat into the distant sky; here we see that once such a boundary exists trickster can abrogate it, importing dirt into the exalted halls until some of heaven’s wealth is loosened and the earth is fertilized, the sun reborn.

“I am, of course, reading this Japanese story rather literally. While it is a nature myth for an agrarian culture (those seeds are actually seeds, and that pile of shit should properly be called manure), the images resonate at other levels as well. If dirt is “matter out of place,” if it is what we exclude when we are creating order, then this and other stories about tricksters and dirt must also speak to the sterility that hides in most all human system and design. The models we devise to account for the world and the shapes we create to make ourselves at home in it are all too often inadequate to the complexity of things, and end up deadened by their own exclusions.”

That is why the world needs skeptics and contrarians. Those who don’t just ask why but also why not. Sometimes the windows need to be opened to let the musty air out and the sunshine in, circulation and merging of the elements. A balancing, a coming to equilibrium.

To play this role, however, is difficult. For the outsider to succeed in forcing change to what is inside is likely to find himself then being on the inside. A window being opened, the opportunity of entry beckons and, with entry, comes promises of inclusion. This is how the trickster transmutes shit into gold, a turtle of the earth into a lyre for a god. And in this is found the secret link between the trickster and the cultural hero, between the bastard child and the prodigal son.

The trickster often finds himself having become domesticated and respectable. The trick of change is as much a trick played on himself as on others. “Such may be the frequent fate of radical change-agents,” states Hyde (pp. 224-225), “to be coopted, outflanked, and contained by the larger culture, to be brought up short of a full apocalyptic reallotment.” He continues,

“But what exactly are the options? A remark by Claude Lévi-Strauss offers a way to imagine the possible fates of those who threaten a group with fundamental change. Lévi-Strauss contrasts two types of societies: “those which practice cannibalism— that is, which regard the absorption of certain individuals possessing dangerous powers as the only means of neutralizing these powers and even of turning them to advantage— and those which, like our own … adopt what might be called the practice of anthropemy (from the Greek emein, to vomit).” The latter eject dangerous individuals; they leave them in the woods, or build special jails to cut them off from the group and keep them isolated. In short, groups can either expel or ingest their troublemakers. The most successful change-agent avoids either fate and manages to stay on the threshold, neither in nor out, but short of that difficult balance the next best fate may be to be eaten, to be incorporated into the local myth.

“Let us say, then, that the Homeric Hymn to Hermes records an incorporation; it is an after-the-fact record of a disruption that has been contained and re-presented as something Zeus “had in mind all along,” not an apocalypse. Trickster’s disruptions are always potentially apocalyptic, but in this case they are converted into manageable mischief. For apocalyptic action, one needs turn to Monkey disrupting the Taoist immortals or to the medieval Loki after whose disruptions the Norse gods are not reborn in Scandinavia but supplanted by Christianity.

“The Hymn is not so apocalyptic and that may be the more common case. It is what might be expected when an outsider penetrates the group: at some point there must be an understanding, a series of compromises that formalize the move, a negotiated living together. In this case the terms are to a large degree set by Hermes, but they do not upset the entire order of things; the order adapts to contain the introject, the foreign thing it has swallowed, and at that point we should divide the “domestication” plot into two forms. It is one thing to submit to an old set of house rules, quite another to enter a house that you yourself have helped to build.”

The reactionary conservative gets assimilated. This is how each generation of conservatives inexorably shifts ever leftward. Over a long enough period, conservatives becomes more liberal than even the liberals of the past.

The ultimate secret of all symbolic conflations contrived by the conservative mind is simple, that there never has been a conservative tradition. The voice of conservatism is but an echo of the liberalism that came before. A reactionary can only rearrange, never create anything new. Yet, in rearranging, the next stage of radicalism is made possible.

The reactionary asking the radical why merely provokes the radical to ask their own questions. These further questions the reactionary cannot answer.

* * * *

By the way, I’m not clearly speaking of absolutely distinct categories. I probably could have explained that better.

I don’t see any reason why a person couldn’t be a radical liberal at one point and a reactionary liberal at another. My speaking of both as liberal was my way of speaking to that possibility. Maybe everyone has the potential for each, and understanding that is our only defense against the extremes.

These are roles more than they are fundamental identities. I wanted to state this more overtly so as to not allow for any confusion.

In talking about my father, the context is a relationship. These roles always exist in particular relationships. As such, I’m only a radical to the extent that I’m relating to someone playing the role of a reactionary, my father in this case. Ditto for what I perceive as my father being a reactionary, a role he is playing in relation to me. These are situational and hence contingent roles, although people have a way of trying to make such roles permanent.

Anyway, it is irrelevant how an individual self-identifies. Labels can be misleading. What is important isn’t that my father prefers the label conservative and that I’ve tended toward the liberal label. There is nothing inherently reactionary or radical in a label.

None of this involves judgement of character. Neither role is morally inferior or superior. These are social realities and must be understood on those terms. They exist only in relationship and only as a singular inseparable dynamic. For me, this isn’t just a dynamic in my relationship with my father, but a dynamic of ideas in my head, what can feel like an internal division and conflict that gets processed by way of an external relationship.

In short, I can’t blame my father for how I experience my father. My response to his question remains my response. My purpose isn’t to objectively prove intentions and motivations. I’m limited to my own intuitive abilities to suss out meaning, an endless process.

These are thoughts I’m playing around with. When the personal is involved, it can make it easier to ground one’s thoughts, but it also can mire one in other kinds of confusions. That is what I was trying to indicate near the beginning of this post, when I spoke of the dynamic between my father and I. It truly has shaped my view of politics. Through this, I gain certain insights, but those insights no doubt have many biases and constraints.

This is the reason I find value in connecting my personal insights to the writings of others, to give me perspective. I’ve been developing these kinds of ideas for many years now. This represents some of my most original thought. My initial understanding arose out of my experience. My later readings have helped to give shape to this understanding.

As my understanding has developed, I’ve come to a more nuanced view of ideology and labels. This post represents one further step in the development of these ideas and insights.

* * * *

As a side note, I mentioned directly above that this is some of my most original thought.

I’m speaking of symbolic conflation. I came to that insight entirely on my own. In fact, I coined the phrasing of ‘symbolic conflation’, as I hadn’t seen it described by anyone else. Lewis Hyde comes close in his use of metonymy, but that doesn’t fully capture my meaning.

The insight slowly emerged from years upon years of discussions with my parents. So much of my political understanding goes back to my family relationships. The original inspiration was a single observation.

A highly emotional and divisive issue of politics is abortion. It has in some ways been the most central theme of the culture wars, connecting together so many other threads in a way that is hard to disentangle.

I presented my parents with the data that countries that ban abortions don’t decrease and, in some cases, increase the rate of abortions. This is to say that on average banning abortions does increase the abortion rate.

This undermines the entire rationalization of the socially conservative position. But my parents were unfazed by this challenge to the heart of their ideological system. I experienced similar refusal to confront these basic facts from other conservatives as well.

By their own logic, social conservatives shouldn’t support banning abortions. Doing so, according to their way of thinking, increases the killing of babies. The only way to protect life is by not making it an issue of shame and fear, by giving women many choices and resources. All of this prevents unwanted pregnancies in the first place and hence prevents most women from even needing to consider abortion.

This is common sense. Yet I’ve never met a conservative who is able and willing to morally and rationally confront this challenge. It hits too close to a nerve. Pull on that thread and the whole thing might unravel.

This is how I came to my original thoughts on symbolic conflation.

Now, having read Lewis Hyde, I realize that it was no accident that I first came to this understanding because of an issue like abortion. It is a highly emotional issue that take the body as an ideological battlefield. An ideology, as some see it, isn’t just about political opinions, but an entire worldview. When ideology is grounded in bodily experience, this creates the possibility of what I observed and what Hyde describes.

Lakoff sees the family as a fundamental metaphor for politics. That seems to be the case, but maybe that is because family relations are so personal and visceral. A mother gives birth to and breastfeeds the child. Parents hold, caress, and at times punish the child. Families live in and share the same physical space.

Hyde points in this direction with some of his examples, such as a mother telling her daughter a story of shame when her first menstration came. As Hyde explains, this is about creating and enforcing social boundaries. The first boundary ever created is the bond with the mother.

In future writings, i’d like to explore the relationship between shame and symbolic conflation.

I’ve recently come to realize how important shame is to so many aspects of human experience and society. I sense that shame might be core to every symbolic conflation. Both shame and symbolic conflation are about wanting to keep something hidden. Or rather shame is the experience of the failure to keep something hidden or the fear that such failure is likely, and that fear will never go away as long as the symbolic conflation is in place.

I’d also like to connect this to my thoughts on race and racism, along with some similar issues related to our collective past of colonialism, slavery, and genocide. Specifically, I’d like to connect this to my thoughts on the perplexing issue of simultaneously knowing and not knowing. The study of ignorance, agnotology, would also be the study of what is hidden, both to public and private awareness. All of this connects to ideas I first came across in the writings of Derrick Jensen, ideas about the victimization cycle, silencing, dissociation, splitting, doubling, etc.

Shame is the one of the most primal defense mechanisms. When I see shame in operation, I know something of the greatest of importance is being protected. People will kill and die for shame.

In thinking along these lines, Hydes book reminds me that with shame we touch upon the sacred. This is at the heart of what it means to be human. It isn’t just about conservatives and the conservative moral order. I wish to tread lightly, for we are all implicated.

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Dark Imagination

The Darkness. The Blackness.
The Dark Mother. The Black Goddess.
All Devouring. All Giving.

She who is the Blackness, the Emptiness, the Void. Ancient memory, bodily impulses, guts and groin.

Deep in the Earth, the Womb of the Mother of us all, the Virgin Mother. Caverns where all light is extinguished, where the force of Light can’t penetrate. All that one can do is feel, feel, feel… run one’s fingers along the walls, feel the mud between one’s toes… feel, feel, feel the tug of water flowing downward, ever downward into chasms unseen.

The Earth, Gaia. The dark rich soil out of which life grows. The humus where life and death meets, endless aeons of death upon death out of which life emerges, a dark magic of creation that simultaneously re-creates even as it creates anew.

The Deep Blackness of the ocean where undiscovered beings dwell. The Darkness of the woods on a moonless night. Breathing, movements, things that brush by, things that sting. A mass of life, an orgy of life, self-consuming, all-consuming. Life flows, emerges, feeds. Life, an urge, a force.

The Darkness, Blackness of night. The garish sun hidden by earth, the distant stars like cat’s eyes in the dark, eyes looking back across light years of space. The openess, the emptiness of space, the void, the womb. Infinite potential that can be nothing else.

The Darkness, Blackness of mind. The unconscious unknown, unknowable. The Dark Imagination. The Trickster is the first Son of the Dark Mother, the Black Goddess. The Artist is her servant, she his muse. The Light of Truth must be brought down into the Darkness of Being. Light given form becomes darkness. Darkness given form becomes substance. Gestation is an event out of sight, out of mind.

“Art flies around truth, but with the definite intention of not getting burnt. Its capacity lies in finding in the dark void a place where the beam of light can be intensely caught, without this having been perceptible before.”

Franz Kafka (1953). Blue Octavo Notebooks

More About the Paranormal

More About the Paranormal

Posted on Jul 31st, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
A response of mine from a thread I started based on my New Age blog series: 

HI Andrew,

no matter what otherworldly things i have experienced i can safely say they they were upper left quadrant happenings. in saying this i mean that these experiences of mine happened in my interior space. no angels physically manifested in any way in these 3 dimensions. no one walked thru my walls, no one defied the laws of physics etc. now whether it’s 3 kids in portugal having visions, or someone being abducted in downtown manhatten, i contend now that all these experiences are interior and have no right quadrant existence.

Have you been following the discussion going on in one of Julian’s blogs (here)?  The relationship of internal and external has been brought up.  I mentioned paranormal research there and the difficulties of the field.  Specificially, I discussed Hansen’s view and linked to some detailed reviews of his books.

but nowhere have i come across objective, verifiable, repeatable accounts of any type in any of these phenomenal cases.

Hansen speaks to these issues.  Objectivity, verifiability, and repeatability aren’t easily applied to the paranormal, but researchers have attempted to do so.  Some are satisfied with the evidence and some aren’t.  I talked about the research angle in Julian’s blog comments, but you’re experience was outside of a research situation.  How are lived experiences proven?  Well, very little of even our “normal” subjective experience is provable.  As for the paranormal, it all depends on what kind of evidence you consider acceptable.

People have seen lights and when they investigated discovered crop circles.  Crop circles are just more complex forms of fairly circles that have been observed for centuries in corollation with fairy lights.  My brother visited with friends a place where orbs (ie fairy lights) were known to be common.  They saw the orbs and the orbs approached the car and hovered around it.  Even scientists have observed orbs, but no one agrees on what explains them.

Pilots have seen ufos and they were observed simultaneously on radar.  There are a fair number of radar cases.  Why is there not more evidence?  For one, I’ve heard that pilots are discouraged from reporting ufos.  Also, some evidence gets destroyed because people fear ridicule.  Vallee started out as an astronomer but later became a ufo researcher because he personally observed astronomers he worked with destroying video evidence (here is an interview with him where he speaks about this).

Rupert Sheldrake was describing a dialogue he had with Richard Dawkins.

Dawkins: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

Sheldrake: “This depends on what you regard as extraordinary”, I replied. “Most people say they have experienced telepathy, especially in connection with telephone calls. In that sense, telepathy is ordinary. The claim that most people are deluded about their own experience is extraordinary. Where is the extraordinary evidence for that?”

(Sheldrake describes how he tried to bring up his own rearch about telepathy, but Dawkins refused to discuss it.)

but a ufo landing on the white house lawn and broadcast to the world would probably cure me of my skepticism. i feel the same way about religion. please all you theists, part the red sea today and have the decency to bring cnn along for verification

Well, that is some pretty extreme skepticism.  If being “shown billions of light beings singing the most amazing song onto god” doesn’t convince you, then I doubt anything could.  Plus, I’d consider your statements to be based on a less-than-useful view of the paranormal.  You seem to be responding to a literalist interpretation of paranormal which isn’t the view I hold (nor that which Harpur holds).  It would take some explanation to describe what I mean by literalist, but here is an interesting discussion about Harpur from the Lightmind forum:

Jim wrote:
Kela has mentioned Patrick Harpur here a couple of times in the past, and Susan and Heru mentioned him just recently. Harpur, like Carl Jung, Richard Tarnas, James Hillman, Arnold Mindell, et al, understands the psyche. Many people don’t. 

Here is Harpur from his book Daimonic Reality:

    St. Paul mentions an ecstatic experience in which he was “caught up even to the third heaven”, but, as he says, “whether in the body, I know not, or whether out of the body, I know not; God knoweth.” And this is the dilemma confronting many otherworld journeyers. 

    It is, I think, too easy to dismiss the conviction of many of them that they were physically lifted into another realm, such as an alien spacecraft. This, after all, is what it felt like; and it is a conviction shared by all members of traditional cultures – although, as we shall see, with an important difference in viewpoint. Thus, although I do not share the conviction, I want to stress that it is ancient and respectable and, I think, nearer to the truth of the matter than not to believe in any kind of otherworld journey at all. However, using the model of daimonic reality … it is possible to make otherworld journeys intelligible, without recourse to a belief in an actual, physical experience.

Here is Ken Wilber from One Taste:

    When people have a memory or an experience of being “abducted,” I don’t doubt the experience seems absolutely real to them (most would pass a lie detector test). And it is real, as an experience, as phenomenology, but not as ontology, not as an objective reality. So there’s the phenomenology (or the experience itself), and there is how you interpret the experience. And for that interpretation – as will all interpretation – you need to draw on the total web of available evidence, which is exactly what the believers in these experiences are not doing. 

    Do any UFO experiences represent higher realities? It’s theoretically possible that some of these experiences are stemming from the psychic or subtle levels of consciousness, and that, precisely because these people do not grow and evolve into these levels, they experience them as an ‘other.’ Instead of their own higher and deeper luminous nature, they project it outwardly as an alien form. Even if that is the case, these people are still in the grips of a dissociative pathology. … The giveaway, as usual, is the narcissism.

    What do people really want when they think of UFOs? What are they yearning for at the thought of something extraterrestrial? Why, they want something bigger than themselves. They want to know that, in the entire, wild, extraordinary Kosmos, there is something other than their meager egos.

What Harpur honors, Wilber tends to pathologize.

It seems to me that the rational, Freudian-flavored pathologizing approach that Wilber takes here doesn’t honor the way the psyche or soul actually works, plays, unfolds, grows, flows, meanders, soars, swims, lives, breathes, and develops.

When Wilber asks what people really want when they think of UFOs, he is talking about what the “meager ego” wants, but he neglects to note that the experiences in question (i.e., UFO abduction experiences) don’t stem from the ego but from the deeper psyche (there is no other place they can stem from, unless they are just willful fantasies, e.g., as if someone were to fantasize about winning the lottery, and reports of UFO abduction experiences indicate that they are not mere fantasies). So it’s not a matter of what the “meager ego” wants but of what the deeper psyche wants.

Speaking about the appearance of symbols of wholeness in the psyche, such as UFOs and mandalas, Jung says, “they do not invariably indicate a subliminal readiness on the part of the patient to realize that wholeness more consciously, at a later stage; often they mean no more than a temporary compensation of chaotic confusion.”

This is not something that someone who elevates pre” to “trans” would say.

Trungpa says:

    …anything that happens in our state of mind, including emotions, is manure. Whatever comes up is a workable situation… 

    …we begin to realize that all kinds of chaotic situations that might occur in life are opportune situations. They are workable situations that we mustn’t reject, and mustn’t regard as purely a regression or going back to confusion at all. Instead, we must develop some kind of respect for those situations that happen in our state of mind.

This is why it simply isn’t skillful or useful to pathologize intrapsychic phenomena, such as UFO abduction experiences or those who have and interpret them. Such experiences are “workable situations that we mustn’t reject, and mustn’t regard as purely a regression or going back to confusion,” or as “dissociative pathology” and “narcissism.” “Instead, we must develop some kind of respect for those situations that happen in our state of mind.” Which is what Harpur, Jung, Hillman, Mindell, Tarnas, et al do. The issue here isn’t what is right or wrong or “politically correct” or incorrect. The issue is, what is most useful? What is most likely to benefit the individual who has and interprets the experience? If someone has a UFO abduction experience and they interpret it to mean that “they were physically lifted into another realm, such as an alien spacecraft,” as Harpur puts it, that’s the manure we have to work with. Calling it shit isn’t going to help anyone, is it? Saying that such people are in the grips of a dissociative pathology and are narcissistic isn’t going to help anyone, is it? There is psychic energy and psychic potential to work with here. Dismissing it by pathologizing it is like throwing manure away instead of working it into the garden and then tending and nurturing the garden and waiting to see what grows. Suzuki Roshi speaks of a similar process in terms of “mind weeds.” He says, “We must have the actual experience of how our weeds change into nourishment.” Or of how our lead changes into gold.

Jung and Trungpa compare the process of intrapsychic transmutation to alchemy. Trungpa says this is “like the alchemical practice of changing lead into gold.”

Mindell says:

    And what is this gold? The alchemist’s beginning goals will be like yours or mine: freedom from trouble, hope for nirvana, enlightenment, love, immortality or spontaneity. But what you actually receive may be something you were not even aware of missing, something so precious and vital that you might even forget your original goals.
Jim wrote:
Exactly, that’s my point: It’s not wrong to psychopathologize, but it’s kind of like calling something shit. When we call something shit, we naturally think in terms of flushing it away, whereas when we call the same thing manure, we acknowledge that we are dealing with something that, used skillfully, can fertilize and enrich the soil of the soul. To try to flush away aspects of the psyche that we don’t like doesn’t work, and as Harpur and Jung agree, when the daimonic is repressed, it often returns in the form of the demonic.

but surely if supernaturalism exists, it’s on unemployment insurance at this time unless these angelic beings are just being really subtle and sneaky for some reason!

You really should read Hansen’s book if you’re genuinely interested in this.  He writes about how the Trickster archetype plays out with paranormal experience.

Blessings,
Marmalade

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Integral, the Paleolithic, and the Liminal

Integral, the Paleolithic, and the Liminal

Posted on Jul 1st, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
This is an extension to my previous blog post about Fictional Worlds and Fictional Drugs and a partial response to Balder’s blog The Wilber-Combs Lattice and the Pre/Trans Fallacy.

In my previous blog post, I mentioned Paul Shepard.  His theories are ones that I come back to every now and again even though its been quite a number of years since I’ve read one of his books.  It conflicts with the more optimistic vision of most Integralists.  However, I see potential truth in both of them.  Shepard sees that a misdevelopment occurred in humanity’s early development.  Wilber doesn’t see this early misdevelopment, but rather places the blame of misdevelopment on later stages such as his theory of Mean Green Meme.

I’ve heard of one theory that could bring the two together.  It was brought up in a discussion on Wilber’s site.  The person was speculating that maybe Spiral Dynamics should be seen as descriptive instead of prescriptive.  It is an accurate model describing how social development has occurred so far (in Western societies and non-Western societies influenced by Western culture).  But this doesn’t mean that development couldn’t have happened differently nor does it mean that Spiral Dynamics represents the best possible outcome of development.  These are the types of thoughts that came to me when I first studied Wilber.  It seems an obvious possibility, but it rarely comes up in discussion and I haven’t yet seen it in a book about Integralism.

This seems to bungle up the workings of Wilber’s aesthetically elegant model.  If we can’t be sure that the development model we have is optimal, then it undercuts other theories such as the pre/trans fallacy.  How can we be sure that we have it right?  From one perspective, the model is prescriptive, but maybe from another perspective it could be proscriptive.  So, is their a larger context in which to place this all?  Is their a perspective of perspectives that transcends and includes both idealism and pessimism? 

I must admit that I’ve been more interested in the potential of a Theory For Anything (TFA) and less interested in a Theory Of Everything (TOE).  But I don’t know what a TFA would look like.  I reference back to Jung’s archetypes and personality types because it seems to give something closer to a morally neutral perspective and less hierarchical.  I especially find personality types insightful because it clearly shows how often differences are just differences.  This fits in with my criticism of Wilber’s model and those attracted to it being more Apollonian (MBTI NT?).

All of this interesting enough, but my mind has been focused on another set of ideas.  I’ve just started the book The Trickster and the Paranormal by George P. Hansen (here is the author’s blog and here is an article by the author about skepticism).  This book brings some important questions to rationality.  I can’t summarize this authors views at the moment, but let me pull out some quotes and ideas to give a sense of where he is coming from.

Okay… many philosophers have considered the mind to be binary and this goes back to the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Anaximander.  From this tradition, we get Aristotelian logic with its binary opposition (a or not a) and its “the law of the excluded middle”.  And one end of the binary opposition is usually privileged.  We enter a different perspective with the liminal (introduced by Van Gennep and further elucidated by Victor Turner). “When a structure is subverted or deconstructed, there is a reversal of the positions of privilege or a blurring or collapse of the line dividing the pair.” (p. 62)  This liminal between is the space that post-modernists see as empty, but which earlier anthropologists saw as being where the paranormal and supernatural can be properly placed. 

“Deconstruction calls attention to ambiguity and uncertainty, and at its core, it is about the problem of representationin all forms.” (p. 76)  

“Like magic, the problem of meaning is banished from the consciusness of science.  Deconstructionism raises the issue overtly.  It points out that meaning is neither neutral nor transparent.  It asserts that language precedes science and thus has primacy over it.” (p. 377) 

“The Issue of power again leads back to Max Weber.  Weber’s discussion of authority was about power and domination.  He identified three types of authorrity: charismatic, traditional, and bureaucratic.  Pure charisma, the most fundamental, involves supernatural power.  The other types are rationalized forms of it.  One need only recall Weber’s insight that the process of rationaliziaion calls for the elimination of magic form the world (in actuality, elimination of the conscious awareness  of magic by cultural elites).  With the process of disenchantment virtually complete in the academy, deconstructionists (and everyone else) display an almost complete amnesia as to the primitive foundations of their school of thought.  Neary all have forgotten the taboo areas, the liminal regions, those betwixt and between categories, the anomalous, the supernatural.” (pp 377-378)

In this, we can see the questioning of dualistic models.  This is where the questioning can also be turned to Wilber’s pre/trans fallacy.  I don’t fully understand the implications as of yet, but it opens up some space for further discussion about experiences that may not be dualistic nor either pre or trans.  If all it does is bring up more unanswered questions, then that is fine by me.  I’m looking more for a model of questions than a model of answers.

What I’m trying to figure out is how can we step outside of Wilber’s models to see them objectively.  To the extent that we commit ourselves to a model, we can’t see it clearly.  This is a problem because we can’t understand a model either if we look at it entirely detached.  Does the liminal provide a space where we don’t get stuck too far in either direction?

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Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 11 hours later

Marmalade said

Prerational and Transrational Spirituality: The Difference Is?

That old discussion on the Integral Pod hit upon something that is on my mind.  I think that its easy for the rational to be confused with the transrational when someone is trying to differentiate their experience from the prerational.  This reminds me of the analysis of the theory of the Mean Green Meme.  Here is what I said in the Integral Ideology thread in the God Pod:

“Jim linked to an article about the Mean Green Meme.  In that article, Todorovic looked to the statistics to see if it supported this hypoethesis.  According to this view, the criticisms of Green Meme are more likely to come from Blue and Orange than from Second Tier Yellow.  She explains that the supposed Second Tier criticism is actually First Tier criticism masking as Yellow which she calls Yellow False Positive.”

Many people are attracted to Integralism because its a very rational model.  It does give room for the non-rational, but still its primarily rational.  I don’t know if a transrational model is possible.  So, if we become too identified with the model, we by necessity become stuck in the rational.  Where does this leave the transrational?  Can the the term ‘transrational’ within a rational model be anything more than a placeholder for the unknown, a finger pointing at the moon?

The nonrational is another category I’m interested in.  There may be some states that are neither specifically prerational nor transrational.  How does Integralism deal with this possibility?  So far in my research, I’d say it doesn’t to any great extent.  I’ve done some web searches about Integralism and Wilber using terms such as ‘paranormal’, ‘supernatural’, and ‘liminal’… but not much came up in the results.

My sense is that Wilberian Integralism hasn’t yet fully come to terms with the nonrational.  Even the category of the transrational feels somehow inadequate.  I think part of the problem is the medium.  Rational language and linear modelling are inherently limited.  I suppose poetry and art more capable of expressing the transrational and nonrational than any Integral theory ever will be able to do.  This is why I’ve been thinking about how can the imaginative and playful be emphasized more within Integral theory.  And in general I’ve been wondering how the rational and nonrational can be experienced without conflict, without either trying to supplant the other.

Balder : Kosmonaut

about 19 hours later

Balder said

Hi, Marmalade,
An interesting post!  Thanks for your reflections here – they resonate with a number of my own interests and concerns.
Was the person who was suggesting that Spiral Dynamics might be better understood as descriptive than prescriptive possibly me?  I don’t expect I’m the only person to have thought of this or discussed it, but this is something I explored on the Integral Multiplex (and possibly also the I-I pod) a number of months ago.  My suggestion was that typical descriptions of Orange, for example, often appear to presuppose elements that might be better regarded as historical accidents rather than developmental necessities, and that there may be a wide number of “ways forward” as Amber societies mature – that, while there are social and cultural constraints that might work to encourage development in a particular direction, there still may be a wide degree of freedom in how a post-Amber society takes form (wider than conventional descriptions of Orange appear to allow for).  I was using these two particular levels just as an example; the suggestion would apply across the board.  Though conceivably, the lower levels are likely harder to shift, just because they have greater historical force behind them.
I agree with you that possibilities such as this do have the potential to “bungle up” the pre/trans fallacy – or, rather, the application of the pre/trans fallacy.  But I do think that it would still be a valid tool.  Because even if a particular trajectory isn’t the only available one, it would still be possible to distinguish – and also to potentially confuse – earlier and later stages of that trajectory.
You wrote:  I must admit that I’ve been more interested in the potential of a Theory For Anything (TFA) and less interested in a Theory Of Everything (TOE).  But I don’t know what a TFA would look like.
This is an interesting idea and I’d like to hear more about what you mean here.  I relate it to another “vision” with which I’m involved – the Time-Space-Knowledge vision, which I have practiced for a number of years and which I’ve also explored in relation to Integral Theory.  Where it differs primarily from Integral is that is more a visionary mode of inquiry and “engagement” with experience than a “map” of the world.  With Integral Methodological Pluralism, we get more into the territory of active exploration and engagement (and begin moving away from strictly “mapping” the world or various worldviews).  This is why I became interested in exploring Integral in relation to TSK, because TSK already has this open-ended, inquiry-centered orientation.  Starting with basic “elements” of reality (time, space, and knowledge), without taking any of them for granted or at face value, it opens various ways to explore the nature and dynamics of our world, ultimately with an interest in the potential of transformative vision.  It is a “way” that invites intimate engagement with reality through radical questioning and inquiry, and so in that sense serves (for me) more as a theory for everything rather than a static representation of everything.
Concerning your discussion of George P. Hansen’s perspectives on models and rationality, I am also interested in these questions.  If you’re interested, I have a paper online which looks at some of them from the points of view of Integral and TSK.  Here is a link to the relevant section of the paper:
TSK and Instrumental Knowledge.
Best wishes,
Balder

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 19 hours later

Nicole said

Bruce and Ben, thanks, I tend to side more and more with Ben in these discussions. I guess it’s because he is so darned persuasive! Or something.

I’d really like to hear your take on TSK, Ben, as I have been meaning to dig into it, but this week will not be my chance…

Ben, does this discussion here help? http://multiplex.integralinstitute.org/Public/cs/forums/50052/ShowThread.aspx

or what about this application here? http://www.quantumintegralcenter.com/articles.cfm?mode=display&article=4

this looks like a good article: http://www.integralworld.net/chamberlain3.html

Balder : Kosmonaut

about 22 hours later

Balder said

Bruce and Ben, thanks, I tend to side more and more with Ben in these discussions.

Gee, thanks, Nicole!

Seriously, I assume you mean side with Ben against any number of others, since I’ve only had a couple conversations with him so far…

And for the record, I appreciate his perspective as well.

Best wishes,

B.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 23 hours later

Marmalade said

Balder, so far we seem to agree on some things.  Its hard for me to say what I agree or disagree with at the moment.  I’m presently in exploratory mode and it will take me a while to get my bearings… if ever.  😉  There is so much out there about Integralism that I can feel lost and confused sometimes.

“Was the person who was suggesting that Spiral Dynamics might be better understood as descriptive than prescriptive possibly me?”

It might’ve been.  I can’t remember when it was that I noticed those ideas.  Would you mind linking to your comments from there?

I’ll be getting back to this blog soon… maybe this evening.  For right now, I’ve been reading through and formulate a response to Julian’s blog post about Christianity. 

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

I can’t speak for Nicole, but my guess is that her agreement is partly with my view of personality types.  It seems to me that certain types have more of a preference for certain kinds of thinking such as NTs preference for rationality.  From this, I conclude that some differences are just differences.  Nicole and I have been discussing typology quite a bit lately and she seems to find it helpful.

BTW there is a particular theorist within the typology field who interests me the most.  Her name is Lenore Thomson.  She wrote the book Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual, and there is a wiki about her work.  Her view of typology touches upon my own thoughts about a TFA.  Basically, a TFA to me is a perspective of perspectives.  Some relevant pages from the wiki:

Rhetorical Stances

Beyond Personality

Philosophical Exegesis

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

Here is the first thread I started at Open Source Integral.

TFA and Perspective of Perspectives

Discussion didn’t really get going in the thread and I never came to any conclusions.  I was just throwing around ideas and possibilities.  And that is still what I’m doing.  I gave up on the idea of a TFA, but I’m glad its come up again in this discussion.  It seems some kind of TFA should be possible.  I probably should first figure out what purpose a TFA should serve.

Balder, I looked at your paper.  I’m curious about it, but it will take me a while to process it.  Its a nice addition to Wilber’s models.  Time and space also come up in explanations of typological function-attitudes, but typology is less abstract in how it speaks about them.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

Yes, Ben, your ideas on typology but so many more, actually. Funny since in many ways we are so different, but I had a long chat with Centria (Kathy) last night on the phone, and of course you were one of the people who came up, since we both think you’re so interesting and intelligent. I was saying that to me you have felt like a soul brother, and she said she saw that energy in some of our blog discussions, like the Rilke ones…

And yes, Bruce, I can see you appreciate Ben as well. Good! I appreciate you too, very much, I hope you know. For example what you offered in balance in that very immoderate Mod Pod discussion lol.

Ben, I will wait to hear more about your thoughts on TSK, it does seem very intriguing for you.

Perspective of perspectives eh? :):) Yes, that’s my Ben… 

Balder : Kosmonaut

1 day later

Balder said

Hi, Ben,

Thanks for introducing me to Lenore Thompson.  Her work seems very promising and interesting to me.  The typological system I’ve studied the most is the Enneagram.  A thought that has occurred to me from time to time is that Integral needs to better integrate typology.  It does explicitly include it – AQAL (or AQALALASAT) stands for all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types – but I have noticed that, in typical discussions in Integral circles, the only types that get much mention are masculine / feminine.  I have also found that frequently, when people are “assessing” or categorizing each other, they will go very quickly to labels which describe level or altitude, apparently not considering that there may be different typological expressions of the same level.  In my case, I have looked at this through the Enneagram, talking about how certain features of a 9 or a 3, for instance, might give the impression of a level, but that actually it’s just more of an overall mode of interaction that can be expressed at any number of levels.

If you haven’t already, and if you’re interested, I think you should write something on Lenore’s work to introduce it to the Integral community.

Personally, I have doubts that a type model is sufficient in itself, and would not expect it to work well as a theory for anything.  I don’t think everything can be reduced to or explained in terms of horizontal types.  But I do think that it is a very valuable lens you can adopt – one of several different perspectives on perspectives that AQAL incorporates.

Best wishes,

Balder

Marmalade : Gaia Child

1 day later

Marmalade said

I find it difficult to speak about any particular thing using only one model.  It often leads to making exaggerated claims.  We need multiple models in order to fine-tune our ability to discern differences and to discern their potential meanings.

I was feeling challenged to speak clearly in one of Julian’s blogs.  Rational can mean so many things to so many people even within the Integral community.  There is this idea that if someone is being rational they must either be orange or second tier, but nobody at green could be rational.   

Why do some people seem to think that second tier is just a more complex version of orange with green being a temporary irrational blip in development?  And why do so many equate rationality with a materialistic worldview?  Why do people who idealize rationality feel such a strong need to deny anything spooky?  How would someone act if they were well-developed in orange and yet had come to be centered in green?  Or, considering someone who is a more intellectual type (ie NT), how would they think rationally if they were strongly green? 

I’ve noticed too that the only type that gets much Integral discussion is gender.  Here is something I said about it in another thread at OSI:

There is the matter of whether a type is used consciously or not and this relates to development, and there is a specific order that each type will likely develop each function. This is highly theoretical and I don’t know what research has been done on it. Another theory presents how each function itself develops which is equivalent to saying that each function represents a separate line of development. There is some correlation of MBTI with models of psychological development.

For instance, how the Judging functions(Thinking and Feeling) have much similarity with Gilligan’s work on gender differences and the hierarchy of development that either gender will tend to follow. Typology brings a slightly different slant to this. Statistics have shown that their is a slight preference of males for Thnking and females for Feeling. Also, Thinking males tend to have stronger Thinking preferences than Thinking females, and Feeling females tend to have stronger preference for Feeling than Feeling males.

However, this gender preference is only around 60-70%, and that leaves a good portion that doesn’t fit the social expectations. David Deidda recognizes that gender patterns are only general. He says that his advice for men doesn’t apply to less masculine men and does apply to more masculine women. As a Feeling guy, I don’t entirely resonate with his advice.

———-

Here is something Wilber said about gender in

“Based mostly on work by Carol Gilligan and Deborah Tannen, the idea is that the typical male orientation tends to be more agentic, autonomous, abstract, and independent, based on rights and justice; whereas the female orientation tends to be more permeable, relational, and feelingful, based on care and responsibility.”

That makes me wonder.  A tendency towards the abstract is considered more masculine and I’ve heard people make this observation before.  But the MBTI research has shown no correlation between abstract cognition and gender.  My theory on this is that there are different types of abstraction.  An NF appears less abstract because their way of abstracting is less structured as they aren’t Thinking types.  So, the definition of abstract used in gender studies is probably NT biased… maybe because most scientific researchers are NTs (?).

Anyways, you’re probably right that a type model couldn’t be a TFA.  But it could be a decent model of a Theory Of Theorizing (TOT).  Typology gets at the intricacies of our cognitive and perceptual biases.  For instance, personality research has shown that certain types and traits are most prevalent in certain professional fields.  That is partly the basis of my suspicion that Integralism has a personality bias.  Different types of personalities will tend to be attracted to different types of theories, and some types of personalities won’t like abstract theorizing whatsoever.  And none of it necessarily has anything to do with what developmental stage they’re at.

I’ll start a thread about Lenore Thomson soon, but not today.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

Hey Balder, I noticed you started a thread about AQAL and TSK at the II Multiplex.
And another thread of yours about TSK.
I noticed you’ve blogged about TSK.
And so has Davidu.
Ronpurser has some videos about TSK on youtube.

Also, is this the thread you were referring to earlier about Spiral Dynamics?

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

Ben, when you put it like this, it does seem very odd! supposedly so advanced and not really dealing with personality types, and generalising in such limited ways about men and women…

Balder : Kosmonaut

2 days later

Balder said

Hi, Ben,

Thanks for collecting all of those links together.  Yes, I’ve talked about TSK (by itself and in relation to Integral) on a number of forums online.  I also have a TSK pod here on Gaia.  I am also friends with both Davidu and Ron Purser.  A small world!

And yes, that thread on Spiral Dynamics is exactly the one I was thinking of.

Best wishes,

B.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

Nicole,

Integral has such a focus on development that types can get short shrift.  I think Wilber was trying to remedy that with his further developments of the quadrant model, but I’m still uncertain what I think of the quadrants.  The quadrants are useful, and the same probably goes for other similar models.  In some ways, quadrants seems more of a convenient way to categorize things than necessarily an accurate representation of fundamental structures.

It might be helpful to compare certain aspects of integralism and typology.  Wilber uses internal and external as categories, but in some ways it feels like a crude division.  OTOH Introversion and Extraversion are attempts to explain how the human brain actually processes information.  And yet there seems a basic conception that both systems are getting at.  Introversion/Extraversion is likely the most accepted and understood traits in all of personality research.  It touches upon something fundamental to human experience.  I get the sense that Wilber is trying to get at this same human experience but coming at it from a standpoint that emphasizes objectivity (ie categorization).

I don’t know if that makes sense.  Its just something that has been on my mind for a long time.

For whatever reason, I have a bit more interest in types than in developmental lines and stages.  Types can speak more to our immediate experience… whereas development speaks more to potential future experience.  As long as someone is moderately intelligent and aware, they can grasp the fundamentals of a system such as MBTI.  But a system such as Spiral Dynamics is only meaningful to someone who is already fairly developed.  I think Spiral Dynamics requires more abstract thinking to understand it than does MBTI.  MBTI has its complex abstract theorizing, but it has been honed for the purposes of therapeutic insight and so has been designed in a very user-friendly fashion. 

So…  MBTI is a system that can be understood by all of the types it describes.  Spiral Dynamics can’t be understood by all of the vmemes that it describes.  That isn’t a weakness of Spiral Dynamics, just a challenge of any developmental model.  MBTI is also a developmental model, but in its most basic form the developmental aspects aren’t directly emphasized.

I’d love to see someone attempt to create an integral theory of types similar to how Wilber has created an integral theory of development.

Balder,

Your welcome.  I like collecting links.  Its a hobby of mine.  🙂

BTW I don’t think it was your Spiral Dynamics thread where I saw these criticisms/questions being brought up.  If I remember correctly, it was an older thread.  Anyways, I was happy to read your comments about this.  I haven’t yet read through the whole thread, but I plan on doing so.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

Yes, yes, Ben, I agree totally.

While I was looking for more useful links I found this about Haridas_Chaudhuri

Are you and Bruce familiar with him?

Balder : Kosmonaut

2 days later

Balder said

Yes, I’m familiar with him.  His integralism is rooted more in Aurobindo’s model, which was initially one of Wilber’s big influences as well.  Wilber ended up going in other directions, though recently he has returned to Aurobindo, using a number of Aurobindo’s stages of consciousness as the highest levels of his model of development. 

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

Nope, never heard of him.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

I just commented on Julian’s blog The Transformative Power of Development: A Three-Part Distinction:

Balder, I appreciated what you said here:
“If rationality begins with 3p, and transratonality begins at 5p (or expanded 4p), then it just isn’t correct to call a temporary state experience at a rational level (3p) transrational.  Because transrational is a structural designation, not a state designation.”

I’m starting to understand the importance of separating states and stages.  So, if transrational is a structural designation, then does that mean the pre/trans fallacy doesn’t apply to stage designations?  If transrational isn’t the correct label for a temporary stte, then what is?

Even though I didn’t mention it in my comment, I was thinking about the category of the nonrational.  I was considering that it might be appropriate to speak of rational and nonrational in terms of states.  But if states are differentiated from stages, then pre/trans doesn’t apply.  This makes sense to me. 

My understanding of the nonrational is that it isn’t specifically developmental in Wilber’s sense, but it does relate to the process of development as the liminal is inherent to initiation rituals.  States aren’t static even if they aren’t dynamic in terms of linear development.  Maybe states follow more of a cyclical pattern.  This could help to show the connection between the theories of Grof and Wilber.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

interesting! but i am being called away … back later or tomorrow

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

Leaving?  You just got here!  Called away… sounds mysterious.

Oh well… I hope the rest of your day goes well.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

ah, just family. i urgently was required to watch a Nicholas Cage movie, light and funny. not much punishment there lol. and then to bed.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

I see.  Just spending some quality time with family and Nicholas Cage.
What movie was it?
I’m watching some Outer Limits episodes right now.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

cool! It was um… hang on… LOL! I remember the second part of the title – Book of Secrets – anyway you will find the whole title somewhere else – i know i mentioned it earlier to you. you see the depredations of old age, Ben. 🙂

Marmalade : Gaia Child

3 days later

Marmalade said

You have depredations?
Sounds horrible.
Is that a medical condition?
You probably should see a doctor about that.
I hope they find a cure for it before I get old.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

3 days later

Nicole said

LOLOL!

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.

Marmalade

Access_public Access: Public 29 Comments Print Post this!views (346)  

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

((((((((((Ben)))))))))))))

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

Nicole,
“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,

Balder

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

Marmalade,

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,

Balder

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.

Marmalade

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…

PKD’s Love of the Disordered & Puzzling

PKD’s Love of the Disordered & Puzzling

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

I actually had to develop a love of the disordered & puzzling, viewing reality as a vast riddle to be joyfully tackled, not in fear but with tireless fascination.  What has been most needed is reality testing, & a willingness to face the possibility of self-negating experiences: i.e., real contradicitons, with something being both true & not true.

The enigma is alive, aware of us, & changing.  It is partly created by our own minds: we alter it by perceiving it, since we are not outside it.  As our views shift, it shifts in a sense it is not there at all (acosmism).  In another sense it is a vast intelligence; in another sense it is total harmonia and structure (how logically can it be all three?  Well, it is).

Page 91 (1979)
In Pursuit of VALIS: Selections from the Exegesis
by Philip K. Dick, edited by Lawrence Sutin

———

This deeply touches upon my experience.  I also had to develop a love of the disorderd & puzzling… for I never felt capable of denying these or distracting myself from their effect upon me.  If I didn’t learn to love the puzzles that thwarted my understanding, then seemingly the only other choice would be to fear them.

I was just thinking about the several years after my highschool graduation.  For most people, this time of life is filled with a sense of bright opportunity and youthful fun.  But, for me, it was the darkest time of my life.  I felt utterly lost with no good choice available to me.  I questioned deeply because my life was on the line… quite literally… because it was during these years that I attempted suicide.

I don’t remember exactly when I discovered PKD, but it was around that period of my life.  PKD’s questioning mind resonated with my experience.  The questions I asked only exacerbated my depression, but I did not know how to stop asking them.  So, to read someone who had learned to love the unanswerable questions was refreshing.  Plus, I was inspired by the infinite playfulness of his imagination.

Imagination was what I sorely needed during that time of feeling stuck in harsh reality.  To imagine ‘what if’ was a way of surviving day by day, and the play of possibilities brought a kind of light into my personal darkness.  I won’t say that PKD saved my life, but he did help me to see something good in it all.

Then, I became interested in other writers for quite a while.  I had even given away most of my PKD books.  I’d forgotten why I had liked him so much until A Scanner Darkly came out.  I watched it twice in the theater and was very happy to be reacquainted with PKD.  That movie really captured his writing like none other.

Those years spent away from PKD’s work, I had been seeking out various answers(such as those provided by the great Ken Wilber).  But now I feel like I’m in a mood again to simply enjoy the questions.

———-

I’ve been taking notes on another book and came across some lines that resonate with my sense of what PKD was about:

“Mercury is the trickster, happiest when he is at play.  Playing he is able to achieve the double consciousness of the comic mode: the world is serious and not serious at the same time, a meaningful pattern of etenrity and a filmy veil blocking the beyond.”

Page 77
The Melancholy Android: On the Psychology of Sacred Machines
Eric G. Wilson

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Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 5 hours later

Nicole said

i used to think when people talked about the teenage and university years as being the best part of our lives that i might as well kill myself then too. it wasn’t that i was as depressed as you, because my depression was only mild, but i was confused and searching. getting married and having kids was very challenging at times and i really only feel that i am beginning to enjoy my life as fully as i always wanted. i know what i want, i have some idea about how to be fulfilled and happy, i have a satisfying career and many friends, i am pursuing depth with God and meaning… everything is falling into place.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 5 hours later

Marmalade said

I hear ya.  I do enjoy my life now even though my depression probably isn’t any less than back then.  I have perspective now and I know what I like.  I focus on what I like and I do my best to ignore the rest.  I can now enjoy the questions but without as much angsty desperation.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 11 hours later

Nicole said

that’s really positive! though i do hope that somehow the depression can lift. That must be challenging always to come back to that. Reminds me of a book I enjoyed years ago called Father Melancholy’s Daughter
about a priest who couldn’t shake his tendency to deep depression no matter how hard he tried. very moving…
here is something else by the author about it

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 15 hours later

Marmalade said

Thanks for the mention of that book.  I liked this last part from the first link:

One of the answers lies in the words of Margaret’s father to a fellow priest: “The Resurrection as it applies to each of us means coming up through what you were born into, then understanding objectively the people your parents were and how they influenced you. Then finding out who you yourself are, in terms of how you carry forward what they put in you, and how your circumstances have shaped you. And then … and then … now here’s the hard part! You have to go on to find out what you are in the human drama, or body of God. The what beyond the who, so to speak.”

“And then … and then … now here’s the hard part!”  lol

There is a movie about depression that I watched back then: Ordinary People.  I haven’t come across another movie that captures better my sense of my depression, but my situation was and is a bit different from the character. 

The story is similar to the Stephen King story The Body(made into the movie Stand By Me).  A younger son has to live with the memory of his dead older brother who had been the perfect son.  The mother is entirely into image and the son tries his best to fit in. 

The most insightful part of the film is where a depressed girl he had befriended in the psych ward had killed herself after convincing everyone(including herself) that everything was normal.  It shakes the boy to the core because if even someone who deals with their depression so ‘positively’ falls prey to hopelessness, then what hope is there for him.  However, the point is that he is less likely to try to kill himself again because he doesn’t repress his valid feelings. 

The message of the movie is that we all are just ordinary people, no one is perfect.  The movie presents the mother as less together than the son despte her trying to put up a positive front.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

1 day later

Nicole said

yes, Ben. Yes!

another book I have found important in terms of many of these themes – finding yourself, working out who you are in your family, understanding your mission in God, dealing with the death of a sibling – is mystical_paths_by_susan_howatch
Actually, it’s part of a long series about this psychic but though it speaks casually of paranormal abilities it is very real and goes deep into our day to day lives.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

5 days later

Marmalade said

I checked out your review of Mystical Paths and sounds like a strange story.
Have you read the whole series?

Nicole : wakingdreamer

6 days later

Nicole said

it’s a very strange story! i’ve only read a couple of the books, and while i’m mildly interested in the rest, you know the mantra! so many books… 🙂

Myth, Religion, and Social Development

Myth, Religion, and Social Development

Posted on Apr 7th, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Child Marmalade
I’ve been reading several authors recently that are related.

I just finished The Gospel & the Zodiac by Bill Darlison.  I’m now reading Christianity: the Origins of a Pagan Religion by Philippe Walter.  I’ve also been perusing two of Joseph Campbell’s works: Thou Art That and The Flight of the Wild Gander, and Alexander Eliot’s The Universal Myths.

They all are related(in my mind).  First, they’re all about mythology.  Second, they all speak about Christianity.

There are 5 mythic/archetyapl characters that fit closely together.  There is the Trickster, the Primal Man, the Titan/Giant, the Hero, and the Savior.  The Hero and the Savior are obviously related as Jesus fits fairly well into the Hero’s Journey.  The Primal Man is known as Adam in Christianity and Jesus is known as the Second Adam, one causes death and the other conquers it.  The cause of death is normally an element of the Trickster which is closely related to the Primal Man.  Loki connects the Titan/Giant with the Trickster, and Prometheus fairly well brings together the different categories.

In Walter’s book, he theorizes about a European pagan mythology that was incorporated into Christianity of the Middle Ages.  He sees at the center of this was a Giant and also related was the class of Birdwomen.  Birds have been related to shaman’s and their visions for as long as man has been thinking about such things.  He mentions the difference between myth and ritual, and how rituals are more reliable evidence of ancient religions because rituals are more stable and unchanging even as the explanations(stories) surrounding them change.

Campbell writes about the differences betweem visions and rituals in reference to what he calls the ‘Titan-shaman’.  He also details how this can be understood through looking at the differences of hunter societies and planting societies.  This relates to paganism and Christianity and the development of religion in general, and Campbell also mentions the differences of religions that emphasize the individual vs the collective.  All of this fits into the insights from Spiral Dynamics.  I also thinks this relates to Jasper’s notion of the Axial Age.

Furthermore, I’ve been thinking about the distinction between symbol and sign, connotation and denotation.  And also what Campbell was saying about tender-minded vs tough-minded.

I plan to go into more detail, but I wanted to do an intro blog to set out the ideas I’ve been pondering.

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Nicole : wakingdreamer
about 3 hours later

Nicole said

this would be a great series for the God Pod. what do you think?

love,

nicole

Marmalade : Gaia Child
about 7 hours later

Marmalade said

Yeah… most definitely.  I was actually thinking of posting it in one of the pods, and it probably fits well into the theme of the God pod.  Feel free to add it, or if you’d prefer I could start a thread.  My next entry should give more detail to my thoughts, and I’ll try to get to it tomorrow.

While I’m here in the comments, let me add two other related archetypes.  I was reading the chapter about the Trickster in Jeremy Taylor’s book The Living Labyrinth.  He mentions how the Divine Child and the Shadow are polar opposite faces of the Trickster.  As an example, the child who points out the king is wearing no clothes is simultaneously playing both roles.  Also, two well known examples of the Divine Child Trickster are Hermes and Krishna.  As for the Shadow, I’d think the Trickster archetype would be inseparable from it.

Marmalade : Gaia Child
about 20 hours later

Marmalade said

Here is the link to the thread where I posted this blog entry in the God Pod.

Nicole : wakingdreamer
1 day later

Nicole said

I’m really intrigued by your comment about the Divine Child, Shadow and Trickster… If you’re willing to take the discussion into archetypes and these kinds of interactions, it could really help get things rolling by sharing that in the thread on the God Pod. Many are not sure how to comment on something as intellectually challenging as your posts there, but these archetypal aspects are more accessible and intriguing to more people… what do you think?

 – – –

Here are comments from the forum threads:

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Myth, Religion, and Social Development: A series by Marmalade

Marmalade said Apr 8, 2008, 5:36 PM:

  By the way, if anyone has any info to add, I’d be glad to hear it.  Specifically, I’m interested in anything about the relationship between comparative mythology and Spiral Dynamics.  I know of various theories about the development of myth, but I’ve never come across a Spiral Dynamics analysis.

I’ve always wondered why comparative mythology doesn’t get much inclusion in integral discussions.  I know Julian has blogged about comparative mythology and has blogged about Spiral Dynamics, but I don’t know that he has blogged about their possible connections.

I’ve done thorough searches about this on the web, and have yet to come up with that many leads.  There is only one that comes to mind is James Whitlark who wrote about Jungian archetypes of individuation in the context of Spiral Dynamics.  However, Whitlark wasn’t looking at myth in terms of social development.

 – – –
Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Integral Comparative Mythology?

Marmalade said Apr 9, 2008, 2:44 AM:

  I’ve been recently thinking about comparative mythology.  I’ve been reading some books on the subject including Campbell of course, and the developmental perspective often comes up.  I thought Spiral Dynamics would be a good model to analyze theories such as Campbell’s, but I was wondering if there were any in-depth integral interpretations of comparative mythology.

In doing a web search, I see that Wilber speaks about Campbell in Sex, Ecology, Spirituality.  Its been a long while since I’ve read that book and I don’t have a copy of it on hand.  I also came across this old discussion of Wilber on the Joseph Campbell Foundation discussion board, but I haven’t had a chance to look through it thoroughly.

Does anyone know of any other info out there… websites, articles, books?
Does anyone know Wilber’s most recent thinking on mythology and mythologists?
Does anyone have any personal opinions or theories on this subject?

My thoughts at the moment are primarily focused on a particular set of archetypal characters that are often closely related in mythology.  Included in this are the Savior, God-Man, Man-Beast, Primal Man, Titan, Trickster, and Divine Child.  But I’m always interested in all aspects of mythology.

 
  Balder : Kosmonaut  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Balder said Apr 10, 2008, 9:57 AM:

  Hi, Marmalade, I’m just checking in to let you know I’m not ignoring your question – just waiting for an opportune time to write.  And to research something.  I have some books at home that discuss the works of some folks who might be of interest to you, but I haven’t had a chance to look them up yet.  I’ll try to get back to you this evening or tomorrow morning.

Best wishes,

B. // <![CDATA[
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  Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Marmalade said Apr 10, 2008, 1:16 PM:

  Balder, I’d appreciate anything you had to offer. 
 
  theurj : dancer  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

theurj said Apr 10, 2008, 2:18 PM:

  I received my indoctrination into mythology via iniitiation into a hermetic and qabalastic Order. Tarot study was one of the vehicles into the meanings of myths. One of the early pioneers of tarot study is A. E. Waite, also a member of said Order. He (and his artist) published one of the most widely-used tarot decks today. His free e-book, The Pictorial Key to Tarot, can be found at this link. Enjoy.

 
  theurj : dancer  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

theurj said Apr 10, 2008, 2:37 PM:

  Jung was also fascinated with tarot and it is claimed that he got his four basic personality types from the tarot court cards. Sallie Nichols wrote an interesting book on Jung’s study of it: Jung and Tarot: An Archetypal Journey.
 
  Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Marmalade said Apr 10, 2008, 4:25 PM:

  I’ve studied Tarot a bit.  I became interested in myth through Jung, but it was through Tarot that I became interested in Jungian typology.  I’m not familiar with what Jung knew about Tarot, but he was knowledgeable of Temperaments in its pre-Kiersey form.

And it’s good that you posted that image of the Fool.  That is definitely another archetype closely related to the Trickster and Divine Child. // <![CDATA[
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  theurj : dancer  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

theurj said Apr 10, 2008, 6:58 PM:

  It is ironic that part of the curriculum of the Order was assumption of God forms through ceremonial ritual. Comparisons have been made with Tibetan deity yoga. We also used Tarot for pathworking, i.e., stepping inside the tarot card and interacting with the characters and symbols via imagination. Of couse we were first inculcated over years in the symbolical meanings of the images and other hermetical, alchemical, astrological etc. lore so that our “astral” travels were fairly pre-ordained by “right view.” On the other hand I did have some rather unique and idiosyncratic journeys with the cards, often revealing my personal and familial psychodynamic material. // <![CDATA[
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  Bill : practicioner & free  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Bill said Apr 11, 2008, 1:47 AM:

  I did have some rather unique and idiosyncratic journeys with the cards, often revealing my personal and familial psychodynamic material.

Me too. Fun times. // <![CDATA[
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  Balder : Kosmonaut  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Balder said Apr 11, 2008, 10:01 AM:

  Hi, Marmalade,

One of the authors I was thinking of is Lawrence Hatab – and in particular, his book, Myth and Philosophy.

I just looked on the web and found the following brief summary of (and editorial response to) this book:

Myths make sense in (and of) a cultural context. When the context changes, the old myths stop making sense. That’s what happened to the Greek myths over twenty-five hundred years ago, when philosophers like Xenophanes began to question the reality of the traditional gods and goddesses. In a similar spirit, our own philosophers have been chipping away at the Judeo-Christian mythos for the past couple of centuries, attempting to replace it with a secular substitute.
In Myth and Philosophy: A Contest of Truths, philosopher Lawrence J. Hatab of Dominion University has argued that myth cannot and should not be reduced to other modes of expression (such as rational explanation in philosophy, mathematics, or science), and that in its own way myth offers truths as real and important as those of rational discourse. Moreover, according to Hatab, when philosophy tries to break completely with myth, it loses its way; and it is this attempt on the part of modern science and philosophy to demythologize human consciousness that has weakened our ties with the deepest truths of our cultural heritage.


The materialist philosophers that Hatab opposes say that we should get rid of myths altogether, become more rational, and wean ourselves from superstition. Myth, they say, should retire in favor of science. But science, though it is formulated in a way quite different from traditional myths, still serves a mythic function: It tells us how the Universe began, where the first people came from, and how the world came to be the way it is. This suggestion that we do away with mythology is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of myth and of the human psyche. Myth in some form is inevitable and necessary. Our knowledge is always finite, and is always overlapped by our need for meaning. Our thoughts and aspirations seek some symbolic language through which we can talk about, and participate in, what we otherwise cannot see, touch, or taste. What is our goal, our meaning, our purpose as human beings? These are the questions a myth can answer.

Virtually every thinking person sees the need for dramatic global renewal if our world is to survive; and, as the greatest politicians, artists, spiritual leaders, and even scientists know in their bones, only a new myth can inspire creative cultural change. But where will this bolt of inspiration come from?


Ironically, while many scientists have sought to undo myth altogether, it is science itself that seems to me to be serving as a primary source for a new myth. Science’s great strengths are its continual checking of theory with experience and its ability to generate new theories in response to new discoveries. While it is still a very young enterprise, and capable of generating its own irrational dogmas, science is in principle malleable and self-correcting. Currently, it appears that elements of a new myth are emerging through quantum and relativity physics, though more directly and powerfully through the findings of anthropology (which is “discovering” the wisdom of native peoples), psychology (which is only beginning to develop a comprehensive understanding of human consciousness), sociology (which offers a comparative view of human economies and lifestyles), and ecology – as well as through the profound, nearly universal human response to the view of planet Earth from space, an image that owes more to technology than to theoretical science.


Each of these sources is, I believe, contributing to the formulation of a myth whose general features are becoming clear enough that it can be articulated in simple story form. We could call it the myth of healing and humility. It starts out somewhat like the old myth, but diverges rather quickly.”
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  Lionza : Sweetfire  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Lionza said Apr 14, 2008, 3:50 PM:

  Quoting from Balder´s post :

´´Currently, it appears that elements of a new myth are emerging through quantum and relativity physics, though more directly and powerfully through the findings of anthropology (which is “discovering” the wisdom of native peoples), psychology (which is only beginning to develop a comprehensive understanding of human consciousness), sociology (which offers a comparative view of human economies and lifestyles), and ecology – as well as through the profound, nearly universal human response to the view of planet Earth from space, an image that owes more to technology than to theoretical science. ´´


It is all too apparent that Science Fiction, particularly in the last 40 years, has combined all of these fields;  physics (warp speed…), anthropology (…and new civilizations, to boldly go…), psychology ( I did not kill your father:  I am your father…) sociology (… we cannot interfere with…), ecology (… this is project Genesis…) and much more – and has unoficially become a steady source of modern mythological reference.  Not many Western kids can refer to Hanuman but they probably know Chewbacca.   And as these things go, Science fiction was/is heavily inspired from Ancient mythologies the world over. 

It seems that now movies such as the ´Lord of the Rings´ Trilogy, has joined this esteemed loop of neo-mythology.  Wasn´t the horned demon  Balrog a superb mix between Satan and the Minotaurof Crete? 

Yes, our new Mythology is here already and the great thing is that we don´t have to be conned into any crazy belief systems or worship rituals to call it ours – maybe we can re-organize it a bit…

L. // <![CDATA[
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  Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Marmalade said Apr 16, 2008, 3:12 AM:

  I’m looking at several books I own right now that are about the connection between mythology, religion, and culture including pop culture.

The Secret Life of Puppets by Victoria Nelson

The Melancholy Android by Eric G. Wilson

The Gospel According to Science Fiction by Gabriel McKee

I read The Secret Life of Puppets several years ago, and its a great book.  The other two I haven’t read all of the way through, but I have read another book by Gabriel McKee which he wrote about Philip K. Dick. // <![CDATA[
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  Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Marmalade said Apr 11, 2008, 10:29 PM:

  Balder – Thanks!  That is the kind of book that interests me.  I have some books about Jung and philosophy.  Jung certainly felt mythology and philosophy were related. // <![CDATA[
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Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Zakariyya [no longer around] said Apr 16, 2008, 2:08 PM:

  I really think that modernism and post-modernism doesn’t understand spiritual mythology, Including Ken Wilber.

Mythology is only the outer face of spiritual cosmologies that explain very intimately the workings of the inner [human soul] and outer universe
[UNIVERSOUL]

A GROUP OF IGNORANT PEOPLE MISINTERPRET THE MYTHS THEREFORE MODERNIST AND POST-MODERNISTS THROW THE BABY OUT WITH THE BATHWATER

The wisest humans in history have left great pearls of knowledge in these myths. A group of secular philosophers want to label them as obsolete, though these philosophers, not a single one of them can come up with knowledge that can replace any of the real meaning of the ancient myths // <![CDATA[
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  Marmalade : Gaia Child  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Marmalade said Apr 16, 2008, 3:23 PM:

  I hear what you’re saying about modernists and post-modenists… and Wilber too.  I do feel that most people don’t have much understanding of mythology.  This isn’t surprising as its not a subject widely taught in schools.

I don’t know to what degree that someone like Wilber does or doesn’t understand mythology, but it does seem that he doesn’t see much value in studying it as he doesn’t talk about it much.  Is this just a personal bias in that it doesn’t interest him?  Or does he see mythology as being limited to a specific quadrant at a specific level of development?

So, what would second-tier mythology look like?
What is a genuine trans-rational perspective that integrates both the rational and non-rational?

 
   

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Zakariyya [no longer around] said Apr 17, 2008, 4:14 PM:

  Wilber looks at mythology as “ myth of the given” metaphysics. In other words the great thinkers don’t need it anymore because the myths are obsolete.

There is nothing further from the truth!

The myths HAVE NEVER BEEN FULLY DECIPHERED!

People are impressed by the highly intellectual scientific mystics like Wilber because of their appearance of knowledge.

In my opinion their knowledge isnt that deep

Some important points about mythology:

1.Mythology has nothing to due with stories or fables.

2.Mythologies are just allegories that describe universal subtle laws on all levels of understanding.

3. A myth is usually based on a real event, simply because myths are always playing themselves out in the real world in some form. It is important to understand that myths have levels of interpretation

For example: The statement in the mythological New testament of Jesus:

“I and the father are one”

Is a description of the path of the mystic merging with the universal idea of cosmic science? This is the high level interpretation.

The lower level [for the exoteric believers] is a description of being one with “God”

Another myth– that of the Garden of Eden story– is also HIGHLY misunderstood.

The tree of in the Garden of Eden is really very lofty states of “Paradise” not a real tree with an apple.

The Garden of Eden itself is the inner structure known as The Essence, that which rules all of our states of consciousness.

These are just two examples of the very rich dynamic knowledge and wisdom that are cloaked in mythology.

The modernist, and postmodernists, personified by folks like Mr Wilber apparently dont understand the higher levels of interpretation of mythology.

 
  Lionza : Sweetfire  

Re: Integral Comparative Mythology?

Lionza said Apr 25, 2008, 11:12 PM:

  Yes I agree.  Myths ARE multy layered coded stories of the major  principles, havoc and games playing in  nature and her creatures, human emotions, stellar events, etc.   But since many of them have not only been coded but have also been warped by additions and twists along the corridors of time , it  gets difficult to see how consistently they do this. 

I too have been perplexed as to why Ken Wilber practically dismisses them without a close examination. Jung first understood the idea of archetypes when a bizarre dream of one of his European patients described an image of the Sun exacly like a Mithraic myth which the patient had never known.  

And I also agree that advanced laws of science are coded in myths.  For example, the idea of all of creation springing out in a Big Bang from a ´tiny seed´of compressed potential was described centuries ago in myths of the Indian sub- continent . 

Definately, treasures would be had if myths were to be deciphered  AND weeded out of warped additions.

Jesus: Trickster Who Saves The Damsel In Distress

A while back, I purchased several collections of Gnostic (and early Christian) texts.  I’ve been reading them off and on.  I’ve noticed a couple of things.

First, a number of Gnostic texts refer to the Christ in a particular way.  One text said that different people called him by different names and he didn’t care by which name he was called.  Another one said that the Christ presented himself in different forms and that people saw what they expected.  These seem like attributes of a trickster.  I’ve noticed in reading books about comparative mythology that saviors are very close to tricksters.  Many saviors have trickster like qualities, especially as children.  There is even an apocryphal text of Jesus’ childhood that portrays him as a troublemaker with magical powers.  Some Gnostics portrayed Jesus as only apparently physical and so couldn’t really suffer.  One story has him switch places with someone and that person suffers on the cross as Jesus laughs.  A very strange character, but no stranger than any other trickster/savior figure. 

Here is a blog post by Tim Boucher: Jesus, The Trickster

Second, the Christ is typically spoken of as descending into the material world.  The Christ represents the active masculine principle that seeks out Sophia who is the feminine soul lost in this lower realm ruled over by the Demiurge.  This also made me think of comparative mythology.  In many myths, the savior will rescue the woman from the tyrant through fighting but also through intelligence and deception.  Here is something from the Wikipedia article about Sophia (wisdom):

The analogy of the fall and recovery of Sophia is echoed (to a varying degree) in many different myths and stories (see Damsel in distress). Among these are: