September 17, 1998
Ann, my teacher at the writer's workshop ('Unlocking Your Stories') is a very intuitive, kind, honest and patient person. These qualities are evident in her writing and manifest from the moment you meet her. But I think I am beginning to try her patience with my 'perception and inquiry' thoughts (after one workshop and numerous emails). She doesn't accuse me of 'technobabble' as some have, and she wants to listen, it's just that she's got two batches of ten students to deal with as well, and I've just got myself and my dual keyboards.
When I went into the 'futures' shop on St. Catherines and asked the salesman what keyboard he'd recommend (so that i don't have to go into a position like a dog walking on his hind legs to get to my tiny notebook keyboard), he started telling me about the Manager of Bell Canada, and how he has an armchair with half of the keyboard on each armrest. This kind of intrigued me, with respect to how my brain would feel about that much key separation, so I have been doing a bit of it with my two keyboards, but I separate them and put them on different levels on the desk as well. It kinda feels cool, and as far as my posture goes, I no longer feel like a dog on its hind legs tippy-toeing up to my notebook keyboard. In fact I feel more like Lionel Hampton or someone, and am almost expecting some tuneful chords to start flowing from my fingertipping actions.
.... Its one of those digressive days for me, I can see that. Where was I? ... oh yeah, .... well everything about Ann suggests she favors the intuitive and non-judgemental approach to writing, and that's what I'm looking for as well. But the first 'in-class' exercise she gave us was to write a murder mystery, with each of us being assigned a character to 'write from'. I was the 'innocent bystander', in more ways than one, because I just couldn't get into this structured approach. I felt like saying to Ann; 'scuse me, Miss Diamond, but this exercise is a Jantsch level II exercise, couldn't we go right to level I?
Of course, as Henri is always telling me, .... 'you must speak in simple words that everyone understands, and not these complex specialized words you are always using'. Ok, Henri, ok, ... I hear ya.
What I want to know is how YOU would explain to Ann what I am trying to say, because I'm sure you can get my point, but what words would YOU put it in?
I am talking about the two basic geometries of perception; looking down and in on something (as if through a microscope) and looking up and out at everything (as if through a telescope). First of all, I don't know any simple words for those two basic perceptual geometries, that's why I have been calling them 'shared space' and 'voyeur space', referencing them to how we 'feel' when we are looking at things in those respective ways.
To really talk about these alternative perceptual geometries, one has to go back to the fundamentals of space-time and human perception. Here's a brief history of perception that I think will be easy to follow and that I'm pretty confident you'll agree with;
As far as we know, space, or rather space-time, comes in the form of a continuously evolving flow with no FIXED landmarks (everything is relative, as Einstein has shown). So in order to 'measure' anything, we have to have at least two reference points which will define an interval, right? Well, we kind of like the idea of a 'center', which is about as basic as you can get, so we tend to establish a local 'center' and then measure things with respect to their relative distance from the center. Now there's definitely some 'feelings' tied up in where we put the center, because when we shifted the center of the world from the earth to the sun (Ptolemaic to Copernican model), there was all hell to pay, and the Church was pretty angry with Galileo's pamphleteering of it, as well, .... or do I repeat myself.
In the case of the sun, the center is defined by the relative motion of the planets around it; that is, the planets all seem like 'groupies' dedicating their dance to the sun. This didn't work out the same when we had earth as the center, because when we observed the movements of the planets relative to the earth, while some seemed pretty committed, planets like mars were off there doing loop-de-loops to impress who knows, and how to explain the forces on Mars to make it do such a thing? So by picking the sun as center, we simplified the apparent geometrical order in this purely relative system, based on the geometry of space-time resonance.
You can imagine this, if you think of yourself as a participant in a May Day Feast sort of 'enactment' of the solar system. First imagine yourself in the position of the sun-king (or sun-queen as Kepler notes is more appropriate, as will be discussed later). What you see is everyone running around you in circles and by those circles, they are implicitly defining your position. You see them all smiling at you and you think, ... 'my, isn't this nice, everyone paying me all this respect'. Then you suddenly think, ...'no, it can't be for me, there must be someone standing behind me'. But then you look around you and there's no-one behind you that they can be looking at because you are in the 'center'.
The perceptual view from the center is rather unique because, as Kepler said, it is purely intuitive; i.e. you cannot MEASURE anything 'out there' because you are standing on the center, so how can you look at the relative distance of anything from the center? The answer is, you can't. Of course if you were'nt occupying the center but were standing off in the periphery, you could, for example compare the distance of mercury and venus from the sun-center. So, in order to measure things, you need to be able to see them relative to the a; i.e. to have both the center and the thing in your field of view. But centers aren't entirely arbitrary, right? .... not in astronomy.
Ok, if you were playing the part of the earth in this May Day game, you could say, ... 'I am the center and everyone is paying respect to me'. Sure, ok, .... the sun is going around me, that's fine, but some of these other characters are doing some weird moves, .... are they really 'for me'? When you finally come to terms with the fact that you are not at the natural resonant center, then you acknowledge the sun-queen as being in the center. As you do, and continue to run your loops around the sun queen, you will be looking down and in like a voyeur on venus and mercury as they flirt with the sun-queen and having 'competition' like this may well irritate you. Then as you turn around looking radially outward from the sun-queen towards the open space beyond your 'orbit', you will get basically the same view as the sun gets, with a few less admirers focused on you; i.e. you will 'become centered' by this shift in perceptual geometry.
So, we are capable of perceiving things 'from us as a center' or 'towards an external center' and it is not entirely arbitrary, where resonant patterns prevail. We know that the solar system is a resonant pattern and that life itself, and its 'far-from-equilibrium' systems are based on stable resonances.
Taking stock here, we have one perception mode, the one which looks out from the center, which associates with the geometries of; 'many-to-one' (integration of diverse elements), female, 'shared space' as well as intuition and purpose, while the second perception mode, which looks inwards towards a center, associates with the geometries of 'one-to-many' (dispersion of like elements), male, 'voyeur space', as well as rationality and goals. Ok, I know that was quite a mouthful and you don't have to buy all of that, I just make a note of it here, and I'll pick up on a bit of it when we get through my basic point dealing with the 'learning system' in Ann's workshop exercise is that we do have two modes of perception and these lead to two variants of learning systems.
See how long it's taken me just to convey these two basic perceptual modes? If you know two simple words for these perceptual modes, that captures the whole notion, that everyone knows, please write and tell me. It would save me a lot of keyboarding and it would save those I discuss these things with, a lot of exasperation.
Ok, if it's all right with you, from now on, I'll abbreviate these two perceptual modes as 'center-based' (where you are resting on the center) and 'center-pointing' (where the center is perceived as being 'over there').
Now let's look at Ann's 'Murder Mystery' exercise. I was given the 'bystander' role which kind of says alot in terms of the above geometry (at least, if had've got the role of the corpse, which went to the girl opposite me) i could have been in the center and been totally intuitive, but no, I was the bystander so my gaze had to be towards the central event 'out there', the murder. Clearly, my perceptual mode was 'center-pointing' and so was everyone else's except for the corpse who did a lovely job of intuitive imagining.
Now what I want to say here is that every mundane team I have observed works in precisely this 'center-pointed' mode, working towards a distinctly positioned goal. And this puts everyone on the team into 'voyeur space', rational thinking mode, ..... borrrrrring!!!
But those extremely rare and transient 'high performance creative teams' I studied (and was occasionally a participant on), which sprouted up and died because the organization didn't know how to nurture and sustain them, .... every one of those suckers went into 'center-based', 'shared space', intuitive mode. And that's the learning system approach which I was hungering for in the "Unlocking Your Stories" workshop (not that it doesn't emerge from time to time).
Ok, now how do you put a team into 'center-based' mode? Actually you can't PUT them into that mode, in terms of TELLING them WHAT to do, you've got to let them be pulled into it by means of giving them a common, unifying, .... what else, .... 'STORY'. Now if we all had Erich Jantsch's 'Design for Evolution' vocabulary, we would say that we could put the team into 'center-based' perceptual mode by having them 'tune-in' to evolutionary consequences, or if we had Lev Vygotsky's 'Thought and Language' vocabulary, we would say that we could put the team into 'center-based' perceptual mode by having them become part of a spontaneous ontogenetic flow, as in 'real life'.
But we don't all share either of those vocabulary suites, so it's back to the pagan celebrations again (Hey, whatever happened to the May Pole, did someone start associating that pole with ..... noooo. really?).
Moving right along, my role as the bystander with the goal of describing the central event, .... the murder, could be likened to me as 'the earth' having to get in to the sun-queen and take her flower from her (I think she holds flowers, doesn't she?). Of course, I would have to compete with mercury and venus to do this (the policeman, the journalist, the wife of the deceased etc.). Sure, I would be doing 'my own thing', but this would be dimensionally constrained because I would have to orient it to the common subject; ... the murder, ... an event which has already happened and been fixed in space and time. Meanwhile the corpse across from me is 'free-floating' in the space-time continuum.
Now when we look out upon the May Day field, THIS TIME, we aren't going to focus on structure so much. We will use structure in that everyone will still be running their same loops around the sun-queen, but we will be looking at 'form' or 'quality' of movement. What we want this time is for everyone to be like the sun-queen, to be 'center-based' instead of 'center-pointed'. So what we shall do is to tell a story in music, like Peter and the Wolf as we are running around and we shall give everyone a different sound to relate to (i.e. the wolf, the hunter, the bird etc.)., and we shall play the music as we are running our loops. A useful imagery here is one in which we are each surrounded by a circle of imaginary characters (the Peter and Wolf characters), and depending on what they do and what aspects we particularly tune to, we respond accordingly via the form of our movement.
The difference here is that our observations are no longer constrained to descriptions of tangible structural relationships, but we now have the scope to respond to intangible qualitative relationships, the ones we imagine in our head. That is, what I had to write about when I was 'center-pointing' were my tangible views of 'the murder' (I tried to cheat on this, but I felt like I was cheating). This time around, I can create my own events. This reminds me of a mute Balinese dancer someone introduced me to in Jakarta. She blew me away because she could carry a conversation with her hands and body, and she could also make a kind of chirping noise. Anyhow, you get my point, we can also be 'interpreting' imaginary stuff as well as 'reporting on' or 'explaining' tangible stuff. When we are in this mode, each coming out of our own centers, we are in what Kepler terms 'purely intuitive' mode, no longer constrained by structural views, just as the sun-queen has no structural constraints to worry about (keeping her loops circular and all that) because she is at the center, she is 'centred' in herself.
"Smoke and mirrors!', you say. .... and I say, 'No way, Jose', this is part of our everyday experience (though we deny it more and more in the western culture).
Let's take a look at a familiar example of a high performance team that went from 'center-pointing' mode to 'center-based' mode; i.e. 'Apollo 13'. Just as in the 'murder mystery' writing exercise, everyone on the Apollo Team had a role and the common goal of putting the astronauts on the moon. They were all 'center-pointing'. But something went wrong with the clockworks execution of roles and structure; .... a faulty oxygen tank valve triggered an explosion that fritzed the complex suite of systems on the command module. At that same moment, the same little circle of dancing fairies came into everyone of Apollo 13 team's heads, .... the dance had three movements; the 'freeze my ass in space' movement, the 'burn my butt on re-entry' movement, and the 'safe-home to the sofa, or should that be 'sophia').
The old goal of the moon landing was reduced to no more than a mere footprint imposed on a continuing ontogeny, ... a bureaucratic paper-track on the ongoing evolutionary space-time flow. The perceptual shift was underscored by the mission leader, when the Grumman engineer kept whining about the lunar landing module's rockets not being 'designed' to fire in open space (outside of the moon's gravity field). The mission leader, exasperated that that the engineer was still lost on the field of 'center-pointing' play, finally exploded, saying; 'I don't give a damn about what ANYTHING was designed for, all I care about is what it is CAPABLE of.'. And in that mouthful, necessity and possibility, flipped their polarity.
What the mission leader was implicitly saying was that the team was out of (had transcended) the structural design oriented mode, i.e. had transcended the 'center-pointing' mode, they were now deep in Jantsch's 'Design for Evolution' mode, where each member of the team had to start coming out of their own center and be brought into harmony as a team by the common images they had dancing around in their heads. There was no longer any 'right' or 'wrong' ways to play their 'roles', they had all become 'larger than their judgements'. Of course, they came up with new goals, but there was a difference this time, .... the goals were no longer central, .... instead, 'purpose', ... common, connecting 'purpose' was central. The goals, and their 'center-pointing' efforts were now reduced to the mere footprints of purpose, they had been subsumed by ontogenetic necessity; the real-like need which had been sucking hind tit to possibility, in one swell foop, ate its own parent (this is 'just' revenge because knowledge and possibility, the children of experience and ontogenetic need, should never have enslaved their parents in the first place. And in this new, inverted-into-its-natural-polarity system, there were no metrics and there was no beginning and no end, just the harmony-seeking journey and the hope. This was a team which could never describe what they were doing because they were co-resonating with whatever tangibles emerged, so that their response could not be specified without specifying the complex stimulus patterns of the environment which they were responding to..
Again, as the mission leader had suggested to the rocket engineer, possibility was now being put into the service of ontogenetic necessity, rather than vice versa.
This gets us to the point where we have defined two fundamental modes of perception; ... 'center-based' or 'purpose-oriented' perception and 'center-pointing' or 'goal-oriented' perception, and these in turn lead to two modes of teamwork, 'purposive' teamwork where possibility (or 'capability') is in the service of ontogenetic necessity, and 'goal-oriented' teamwork where our ontogeny is in the service of possibility (and our ontogenetic need is ignored).
My irritation with the 'murder mystery' exercise was exactly the latter; ... it ignored my ontogenetic need, and it was because of my ontogenetic need that I was going to the workshop in the firstplace. I won't go into how this 'goal-oriented' way of working equates to 'lowest common denominator' effects and assumptions of homogeneity and the focus on generalization rather than uniqueness because I've already belaboured the point in some recent essays. The main point is that 'teams' and 'learning systems' do not have to be in 'goal-oriented' mode, that is just the western, euclidian way. They can just as easily be in the transcendent, 'purpose-oriented' mode, where the harmony of the team is induced by intangible purpose rather than tangible goals. And in this mode, one's ontogenetic need can be satisfied even as one learns, because one contributes what one is capable of in an inclusionary, co-resonant way, rather than contributing what one is told to, in an exclusionary and judgement-based way.
Thus the goal for the team cannot be set in the form of 'an event', but must be set in the form of a living 'story'; i.e. an 'imaginary world', and the teammember can reach down or wherever, into their experience and imagination and find out what capabilities they can bring to bear to make the imaginary world evolve in a harmonious direction.
Clearly, what 'moves' our reality is more than the tangible, it is our imagination, and our common, imagined aspirations. If one doesn't look at this 'center-based' 'shared space' aspect of things, one will never develop an understanding of 'complex systems' aka 'life' or 'teams' or 'global economies' or whatever.
That little observation was for the purpose of segueing from a concluding of the workshop story, into an Epilogue on some of the more general implications of these two basic types of perception and collaboration.
Like I say, if anyone has some simple but more condensed words to convey the concepts of the two types of conception and collaboration, I would welcome hearing about them. I suspect they are there some, somewhere in mythology (though probably unreconciled with scientific concepts) but my background is almost nil in that area.
* * *
Now the above workshop story is a story within a story; i.e. 'my story' which I am trying to unlock. And of course it is a never-ending story (I end, but my story keeps going since its just a web of relationships that I've made a few waves in, anyhow).
How shall I describe it whilst avoiding technical terms. See, the problem is, that I want to continue to dialogue with scientific circles (I mean science in the broadest sense here, in the context of understanding nature in a consistent manner, rather than taking a 'leap of faith' into some weird sect.), and this means that I have to avoid certain words because of their heavy baggage. But I'm going to use one which is 'on the edge' of scientific respectability; i.e. IMAGINATION, because that one is actually used in reference to 'complex numbers' which are unavoidable in physics, in dealing with 'resonant' systems behaviors (like the solar system).
Before I spout out my 'story outline', I want to just quote a short passage which Martine passed to me, from Peat and Bohm's (quantum physicists) "Science, Order and Creativity". This passage, which is fully consistent with the general message coming from quantum physics, and Einstein's comment that 'space is a participant in phenomena', gives one a view of the huge latencies in space which we do not account for when we focus solely on the tangible. In a geometric sense, such 'latent order' comes into play in systems such as teams, and could be described in terms of the 'imaginary'. For example, if we watched the May Day dancers doing their purposive dance (to Peter and the Wolf), there would be no tangible information whatsoever, for the traditional scientist, in that space-time region which could explain the qualitative order in their dance. Their ordered, qualitative behaviors would be linked, through the music, to the common imaginary in their mind which may have been shared with them many years ago (particularly if based on myth). What is relevant is not where the imaginary pictures are stored etc., but the obvious 'fact' that those imaginary pictures, those latencies in space-time, if you like, are having a REAL impact on system order and evolution. Anyway, here's more on space-time latencies from Peat and Bohm;
"Current quantum field theory implies that what appears to be empty space contains an immense 'zero point energy', coming from all the quantum fields that are contained in this space. matter is then a relatively small wave or disturbance on top of this 'ocean' of energy. Using reasonable assumptions, the energy of one cubic centimeter of space is far greater than would be available from the nuclear disintegration of all the matter in the known universe!
Matter is therefore a 'small ripple' in this ocean of energy. But since we, too, are constituted in this matter, we no more see the 'ocean' than probably does a fish swimming in the ocean see the water." (p. 199, 'Science Order and Creativity', London Routledge, 1987).
Ok, so my story, coming from a physics background and being interested in why some collaborative systems work splendidly and others are crap, has to do with raising an awareness of the overlooked 'space-time latencies' or the 'imaginary component' of systems, which are always present, even in a game of pool.
What I have seen, as many others have, is that this subordination of the imaginary to the tangible is an unnatural inversion which gives rise to massive dysfunction in human collaborative systems. I'll give a couple of examples, and at the same time I'll reconcile them with anthropological and psychological work.
Where to start? .... perhaps with a poem, .... or perhaps better, I'll follow my bootstrapping practice and assemble a small collection of 'answers' without specifying 'the question'. The idea in bootstrapping is that you can take a lot of 'dirt' and stuff in, and what you do is to 'bring into connection in your mind, from the many real and imaginary experiences', some common ordering schema. That ordering schema, aka 'understanding' may be too high dimensional to articulate. For example riding a bicycle is a resonant system response (involving real and imaginary aspects) which is roughly ten dimensional and therefore cannot be articulated; it must be experienced to be understood.
Item I: A short bit of poetic prose by Leonard Cohen (seems right since I am in Montreal);
Magic is afoot, God is alive.
God is alive, magic is afoot.
Magic never dies.
- Leonard Cohen
Item II: A short comment, from a Ph.D. thesis, 'The Archetype of the Magician' by John Granrose. This one reminds me of Ali's performance in Peter Pan and the huge upswell of latent energy, when Tinker Bell is dying and the only thing that can save her is if people believe in her, .... and quite suddenly and deliberately, Peter turns around, and looks directly into the eyes in the audience, saying; 'do YOU believe in fairies?'. If ten year old kids had credit cards, and tinker bell needed money, the whole cast and production crew could have retired for life (not to mention the adults who were pulling out kleenex). Anyhow, .... i digress once again.
In magical practices, the circle is valued as an effective symbol of protection against evil spirits, demons, etc.; the protective function ascribed to such items as the belt, ... ring, hoop, and circular amulet probably derives from the symbolic value of the circle.136 So in this sense a magic circle is what in German would be called a "Bannkreis," a circle which keeps something out, which "bans" or "banishes" it. This seems to be the idea behind the image below, showing Faustus within his magic circle and Mephistopheles being kept at bay.137
A related way of conceptualizing the function of the magic circle is to imagine it dividing the secular from the sacred or the ordinary from the extraordinary. This is expressed in a quote from The Magician Within by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette:
Ancient cities were sacred spaces, usually roughly (and sometimes precisely) circular by design, with the palace-temple complex always located at the circle's center. Thus the King dwelt at the organizing center, from which the created world radiates. Sacred mountains, sacred trees, and inner sanctums all were the "power spots" through which an energy exchange took place between the various dimensions of reality. The center was always bounded and contained by impregnable walls or "magic circles" or some other device designed to separate ordinary from extraordinary time and space.142
In the typical case of magic, however, an audience of some kind is assumed. Hermes, the Tarot magician, Merlin and Houdini all work their wonders before an audience. Why and how is this significant?
Just as magic circle and the performer's stage set off the realm of magic from the ordinary, secular world, so too does the presence of an audience contribute to the success of magic of all kinds.
Magic, both ceremonial and performing, is, after all, a kind of theater. And theater people are very familiar with "the roar of the crowd" and its effect on the performance. Having an audience is not just incidental. Metaphorically if not literally, there is a reciprocal flow of energy between the performer and the audience. This must be so if the performance is to be successful at least.143
For there to be a spectacle there must be spectators. Shamans and magicians have long realized this and have devoted considerable attention to gathering and preparing (or "conditioning") their spectators.
Because shamans use ecstatic techniques (such as drumming, chanting, and, often, drugs), it is often the case that, as Rogan Taylor writes, "... the psychological fusion between the shaman and his people is almost total and discrimination between the performer and the audience becomes almost impossible. ... In the sophisticated civilisations the very definition of an "audience" revolves around an increasing discrimination between performers and onlookers. It is really only when the onlookers no longer know the mystery which lies behind the performance, and to which it constantly refers, that they become an audience. In certain contexts, it might be true to say that the audience only comes into existence when it stops taking the same drugs as
the performers.144 And when all are "in on the secret," they are colleagues or comrades, members of the same "community" or "tribe."
But now, really, what is analysis and how can thinking about "magicians" help us understand the process? Michael Harner quotes Albert Schweitzer as having observed,
The witch doctor succeeds for the same reason all the rest of us [doctors] succeed. Each patient carries his own doctor inside him. They come to us not knowing this truth. We are at our best when we give the doctor who resides within each patient a chance to go to work.162 Or, as a different writer put it, "Somewhere along the way our inner Magician is awakened ...."163
The Archetype of the Magician by John Granrose, Ph.D. Diploma Thesis - C.G. Jung Institute, Zürich 1996 Thesis Advisor: Mario Jacoby http://www.phil.uga.edu/faculty/granrose/granrose.html
Item III This one is from Kierkegaard and speaks to what happens when the various 'possibilities' out there start to dominate in modulating our actions and pursuits; i.e. the various possibilities we can 'center-point' at and which take us farther away from our 'center-based' imaginative or intuitive state. I always think of this in terms of technology as well. Our culture is proud of pushing out new technology which is so often 'out of joint' with our 'ontogenetic' need or necessity, and each time that happens, it sets up a new supply and demand loop which creates dissonance in the system. For example if I come up with a pill which will make you live to 500 years, imagine what a scramble there will be and what dissonance will be introduced into the ecology, since the natural support systems are just not in place in the ecology to accommodate the growth in population which would result. The massive supply and demand alterations which would be induced would involve the efforts of millions and would have, now't, ... diddly squat, rien, nichts und so weiter, to do with ontogenetic necessity; i.e. it would constitute a huge pull away from 'center-based' mode towards 'center-pointing' mode.
"Now if possibility outruns necessity, the self runs away from itself, so that it has no necessity whereto it is bound to return --- then this is the despair (sickness) of possibility. The self becomes an abstract possibility which tires itself out with floundering in the possible, but does not budge from the spot, nor get to any spot, for precisely the necessary is the spot; to become oneself is precisely a movement at the spot." (compare this to kepler's imagery of the sun-queen at the center of the solar system, turning in on itself, and being pure intuition).
Item IV: This one concerns two books I picked up here in Montreal, one which raised a question and the second which provided an answer, and a pretty good answer (the quote is from the second book). The first book is an old book, published in Montreal in 1886, the account of a member of the 65'eme Bataillon on the expeditionary campaign to quell native uprisings in western Canada in 1885. I bought this to improve my historical perspective on how the French viewed the native peoples. The unanticipated question which came to mind was, .... how could the author regard 'les Sauvages' so consistently throughout the book as some lower form of life. An answer came in the preface to a book which I had been looking for for some time and which I found in a used bookshop the next day, i.e. "The Two and the One" by Mircea Eliade. I never did find a copy of the english version, but what I did find was a copy of the original (french) form it was published in; "Mephistopheles et l'Androgyne" (1962). The point that Eliade makes is that up until the twentieth century, primitive people's were studied from a 'naturalist' viewpoint ("with the detachment and the indifference which the naturalists of the XIXth century brought to the study of insects"), which accounted only for tangible behaviors, tools etc. and ignored the imaginary side of things, i.e. how their imaginary 'circles of fairies' (i.e. shared symbols and myths) gave meaning to their lives. Eliade points out that we now realize that what was needed was not "the objectivity of the naturalist", but the "intelligent empathy of the interpreter".
"If the discovery of the unconscious has forced western man into a confrontation with his own secret and 'larval' history, his meeting with non-western cultures will oblige him to delve very deeply into the history of the human mind and persuade him, perhaps, to come to terms with this history as an integral part of his own being. In effect, the question which is already being posed and will be posed with an increasingly dramatic acuity to researchers of the next generation, is the following: What means will be employed to recover whatever is still recoverable in the spiritual history of humanity? And this question arises for two reasons: 1. Western man is unable to live indefinitely cut off from an important part of himself, that part constituted by a fragmented spiritual history of which he is incapable of deciphering the meaning and the message,; 2. Sooner or later, the dialogue with 'the others' --- the representatives of the traditional cultures, asiatics and 'primitives' --- will no longer be able to be initiated in the empirical and utilitarian lanaguage of today (which is incapable of dealing with anything beyond social, economic, political and medical realities), but in a cultural language, sensitive to human realities and spiritual values. Such a dialogue is inevitable; it is inscribed into the destiny of history. It would be a tragic naivety to believe that it is possible to persist indefinitely at the mental level where it [history] finds itself today.
Item V: This item is a definition of naturalism taken from a May 1997 paper on naturalism presented at 'the Conference on Naturalism, Theism and the Scientific Enterprise, sponsored by the Department of Philosophy, The University of Texas, Austin, Texas, February 20-23, 1997. The paper (Naturalism is Today --- By History, Philosophy, and Purpose --- an Essential Part of Science). The author opens with a quote from Mephistopheles in Goethe's 'Faust', presumably to give the reader a sense of the 'supernatural' and garner the support of one of history's great mind's, Goethe, ... but wait a minute, ... let me think now, wasn't it Goethe who also said something like "Tell a wise man or keep silent, .... for fools will surely mock you". Anyhow, you can make your own assessment of whether the naturalists are throwing the 'baby' (imagination) out with the mephistophelian bath water.;
Verachte nur Vernunft und Wissenschaft,
des Menschen allerhöchste Kraft,
laß nur in Blend- und Zauberwerken
dich von dem Lügengeist bestärken,
so hab' ich dich schon unbedingt.
 This wonderful verse from Faust, Part 1, lines 1851-1855, expresses Goethe's view about human reason and science, and the result of its abandonment by proponents of superstition. It also succinctly expresses the theme of this paper. The verse has been translated in a variety of ways. Walter Kaufmann (1961, p. 195) gives it as follows in a rhyming translation:
Have but contempt for reason and for science,
Man's noblest force spurn with defiance,
Subscribe to magic and illusion,
The Lord of Lies aids your confusion,
And, pact or no, I hold you tight.
Stuart Atkins (1994, p.47), in a literal and non-rhyming translation, presents it as follows:
Scorn learning, if you must, and reason,
the highest faculty mankind possesses,
let your fondness for self-deception
involve you deeper still in magic and illusion,
and its dead certain you'll be mine!
Naturalism is, ironically, a controversial philosophy. Our modern civilization depends totally for its existence and future survival on the methods and fruits of science, naturalism is the philosophy that science created and that science now follows with such success, yet the great majority of humans (at least 90% of the U.S. population) believe in the antithesis of naturalism--supernaturalism. Our culture persistently indulges and celebrates supernaturalism, and most people, including some scientists, refuse to systematically understand naturalism and its consequences. This paper proposes to show that naturalism is essential to the success of scientific understanding, and it examines and criticizes the claims of pseudoscientists and theistic philosophers that science should employ supernatural explanations as part of its normal practice. Along the way I will speculate briefly on the reasons why such individuals are today advocating what would appear to be such an oxymoronic conjunction as supernaturalistic science (or worse, theistic science). Also, quite a bit of this essay is devoted to examining basic concepts in metaphysics and the philosophy of science, since there seems to be some confusion about them.
(author gives several, and his own consolidated definition, as follows;)
Naturalism is the philosophy that maintains that (1) nature is all there is and whatever exists or happens is natural; (2) nature (the universe or cosmos) consists only of natural elements, that is, of spatiotemporal material elements--matter and energy--and non-material elements--mind, ideas, values, logical relationships, etc.--that are either associated with the human brain or exist independently of the brain and are therefore somehow immanent in the structure of the universe; (3) nature works by natural processes that follow natural laws and can, in principle, be explained and understood by science and philosophy; and (4) the supernatural does not exist, i.e., only nature is real, therefore, supernature is non-real. Naturalism is therefore a metaphysical philosophy opposed primarily by supernaturalism.
Item VI: There is an obvious sexual geometrical congruency between 'center-pointing' and the male equipment and 'center-based' and the female equipment. In fact, it is not only the equipment which is congruent, it is the nature of the related 'force'; i.e. the 'many-to-one' geometry of a 'center-based' community implies an intuitive purpose which allows one to stay in the center of the shared space and allow one's actions to be 'modulated' by intuition, and the 'one-to-many' geometry of a 'center-pointing' community implies tangible action-oriented material movement out of one's 'center' (as Kierkegarde discussed). The following few items are from a web collection of quotes maintained by a computer science grad student at Caltech. There are many items on the list, and I was searching for 'imagination' when I picked these up. (http://www.cs.caltech.edu/~adam/CLEVER/clever4
Male sexuality is inherently manic-depressive. Androgen agitates. Men are in a constant state of sexual anxiety, living on the pins and needles of their hormones. In sex as in life they are driven *beyond* -- beyond the self, beyond the body. Even in the womb this rule applies. Every fetus is female unless it is steeped in male hormone produced by a signal from the developing fetus's gonads. Before birth, the male is already exiled from the female, exiled from the center of life. They are born knowing they are sexual exiles. They wander the earth seeking satisfaction, craving, never content. There is nothing in the anguished *motion* of men for women to envy.
-- Camille Paglia (via email@example.com)
[Camille Paglia is Professor of Humanities at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She is the author of three bestselling books: "Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson," "Sex, Art and American Culture" and "Vamps and Tramps." ]
* * * *
Happy is he who not only knows the causes of things, but who has not lost touch with their beginnings. Happy is he who still loves something that he loved in the nursery: he has not been broken in two by time; he is not two men, but one, and has saved not only his soul but his life. -- GK Chesterton
* * * *
Conclusion: Like I was saying, you can do your own 'bootstrapping' on this stuff and interpret it in the context of your own experience. For my part, there are many more 'stories' which could be unlocked around this theme, like the three sexes of the ancients, male, female and hermaphroditic (l'androgyne) which emerges in the symbolism of the number '3' and in various religions etc.
A point to note is that the mathematics of resonance involves congruent geometrical concepts; i.e. complex variables which have three aspects, ... a REAL component, an IMAGINARY component, and the resonating COMPLEX variable itself. Sounds kind of like human perception, right; .... in our 'center-pointing' mode we can look into 'voyeur space' at the REAL stuff, in our 'center-based' mode, we can look into 'shared space' at the IMAGINARY stuff (i.e. things are not measurable and therefore they are 'intangible' in 'shared space'), and of course, as Vygotsky observes, our consciousness forms at that very interface between our tangible interactions with the world, and our experiential imaginings. We ARE the complex variable we are reaching out to touch and this is in full agreement with modern science. Mephistopheles only emerges, as William Blake and Carl Jung intimated, when we try to deny our experience, our imagination and split Heaven and Hell apart. So in response to Camille Paglia's somewhat judgemental (anti-male) flavour, men may be shits, but God is in the shit, too!
And if we really want to get into the naturalist debate above, as articulated by the naturalist at the UT conference;..."I will speculate briefly on the reasons why such individuals are today advocating what would appear to be such an oxymoronic conjunction as supernaturalistic science (or worse, theistic science)."
My answer is simple, as described above, imagination can be collective, smeared out over space-time for as long as you want, and it still continues, through commonly known myths and symbols, to modulate our REAL behaviors. You want to solve things in 'causal mode', .... go to it baby! The theism which troubles us is not the theism which the naturalists are 'center-pointing' their weaponry on, ... it is where Prigogine says it is, in the blind belief in a euclidian world which requires a 'divine viewpoint' to be ever understood in this framework, ..... and this is where mainstream science and naturalism, appears to be today.
I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge-
That myth is more potent than history.
I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts-
That hope always triumphs over experience-
That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death.
-- Robert Fulghum
Return to '98 Update Page and Essay Index