About Cosmos (rough draft)

The purpose of this page is to develop an “About Us” page for the co-op, which will live publicly at Cosmos.coop/about. Below is a first draft, combining some of my own formulations with an initial version drafted by @care_save.

This is a canonical document. In other words, it should reflect and express, as well as possible, a cultural consensus regarding what “Cosmos” is about. This is the page we expect people to look at when they land on the co-op website and want the equivalent of an executive summary to determine whether the project is of relevance or interest to them. However, it should also be invitingly written, pointing to concrete actions people can take if they choose to participate; at the present time: joining the forum, donating, or contacting us.

This page is expected to evolve over time, and should leave room for (not prohibit) individual expressions of what Cosmos means to you.

COSMOS is a cooperative enterprise dedicated to producing visionary works of collective genius.[1]

Through conversation, collaboration, learning, and exchange, we are cultivating a community that amplifies the creative imagination of each individual, emboldening us all to face the challenges of our time with greater intensity and coherence.

We recognize that our civilization is spiraling in a process of accelerating transformation. Some say collapse; others predict a singularity event; even while many remain in reaction or denial. Our narrative premise calls upon visionary creators to engage our collective reality with critical intelligence and deep empathy—regarding crisis as a call to band together, offer our gifts and skills for wider benefit, and elicit each others’ best selves as an ethical praxis.

Concretely, we are building a community media platform[2]—designing spaces to meet the social, cultural, and economic needs of our members, specifically through offering:

  • Incubation: to nurture latent potentials and ideas
  • Production: to collaborate on media, literature, and events
  • Publishing & Promotion: to cultivate audiences for our members’ work
  • a Co-op Marketplace: for member-created products and services
  • Advocacy & Sponsorship: to champion the ‘slice of genius’ of each individual

Our methods are experimental and holistic, inspired by principles of anarchism, integralism, futurism, and radical thought, forming a kind of mutual aid society for visionaries.[3] And, while our organization is in an early (bootstrapping) phase, we are nonetheless beginning to envision and model our dream platform by fostering a vibrant intellectual community in a cooperatively owned space that gives us the freedom to evolve.

##Current Projects:

Our flagship publication is Metapsychosis, a ‘journal of consciousness, culture, and planetary thought.’

Our community hub is Infinite Conversations, where we host public discussions on published media and collaborative dialogue for our members.

We have a podcast and are developing a podcast network at InfiniteConversations.FM.

And the Readers Undergound is where we’re brewing a literary culture through reading groups, study circles, and community events.

##In Development:

  • Co-op Marketplace

  • LitCoin – creative currency for a gift economy

  • Untimely Books – publishing imprint

  • The Cosmos Codex – “organizational source code” for collective governance

#Next Steps…

First, we are sharing the vision of Cosmos with our networks, listening to feedback and answering questions, ahead of opening up membership and inviting founding members. The founding membership will comprise our initial equity base and working groups for moving various aspects of Cosmos’ development forward. We are in the process of recruiting our core team now. Please fill out our contact form to let us how you might like to participate.

Our first priority is to build a stellar community with robust collaborative spaces conducive to deeply satisfying experiences for our members. Our culture and community will fuel the development of all Cosmos’ features, and all members will have access to the conversations and development process, to the degree they wish to participate.

We intend to constrain the cost of membership to the extent of our features, i.e., starting with a nominal, extremely affordable membership fee and increasing as we’re able to deliver greater value and returns on member investments. Through a generative model in which visionary people comprise the consumers, producers, and workforce of Cosmos, we aim to realize our mission of producing creative work of the highest calibre, while serving the social, cultural, and economic needs of our members.

#Get Involved

Create a free user account on InfiniteConversations.com to access our public discussions, toss us some bucks to support Cosmos’ development, and/or request an invitation to join us as a member. We’d love to hear from you!

[1] See Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation, by Emily Truelove, Greg Brandeau, Kent Lineback, and Linda Hill
[2] See The rise of community media – and why social networks don’t work (via The Next Web)
[3] Placeholder for notes on each of these terms (Anarchism, Integralism, Futurism, Radical Thought, Mutual Aid). Note that it says “inspired by the principles,” not “adhering to the doctrines.”

Hi Marco,

  1. How would you like people to participate in the revising process?

  2. I just ran this text through a basic readability tool, and at a glance
    it received scores of a 12th grade+ reading level, and college-level
    difficulty to read. I.e., a lotta $5 words in here. What concerns me is
    that most of those words are employed to describe who/what we really
    are–which implies that you need to be comfortable reading advanced dense
    text in order to be welcome in Cosmos–which I think patently is not the
    case. I’d urge for simpler language (8th grade is fair to shoot for I
    think–a couple of $5 words is OK, just not too many). I’d also urge that
    this include an enticing, “turn-the-page” kind of vibe, where we give them
    just enough info to stoke their imaginations (like a first date with a sexy
    person–our minds will fill in the blanks, to infatuation!) just enough
    that they’re yearning for more, just enough that they could (vaguely) see
    themselves in this, without being bludgeoned by labels or theories that
    they may not grok–cuz any sticky-point on which someone could stick, and
    doubt, (“huh… not sure what that means… is this really for me?”) should
    be filed down.

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I agree with this, Caroline, not to give off by simplifying some condescending signal or message that “you people are stupid” and that’s why we must “dumb it down”, (or seeming to condone anti-intellectualism and giving a pass to the fact that Trump, pathetically, even disturbingly because of the position of power he’s in, has the vocabulary of a third grader and may literally be illiterate), but to begin with something clear and rooted in “Ever Present Origin”, for everyone to use as leaping off point for their own way of participating, which then can explore complexities.

But to begin with too much complexity, without first establishing the ground, and maintaining it in simplicity, I think ends up being counterproductive, warding off more people than it invites.

It would be wonderful if the general presentation, where the spirit of the whole is established, stayed at a level where kids of various ages feel welcome too, and wouldn’t hesitate to jump in and get involved in exchanges with older folks. I think it’s a worthy goal to shoot for the creation of an environment where the three ages of life have a place for expression, and all feel free to interact.

That would be so beautiful. It would speak to the notion of human family, of community, and work toward making it a reality.

Another thing to consider in going with Caroline’s suggestion is that, when first coming across this Cosmos coop, many individuals to begin with are all busted up inside and swimming in fragments. Concentration is hard to come by in this complicated and often inscrutable world. So that individuals can begin looking more closely at their own fragments floating inside them and piecing them together, working toward healing, many are looking for a place to regain their concentration and strength, not have it sucked out of them. It’s just more of what we all already experience in the world, really. A thousand things vie for our attention simultaneously during the course of a day, converging on us from all directions. After encountering this already, day in and day out, why would one want to deal with certain pieces with extremely difficult concepts and abstruse ideas, not clearly and well expressed at all, and done in such a way that one feels that the author doesn’t know either what the hell is going on? Such things end up agitating me and pissing me off, especially if I detect affectation in the author. To snuff out or discourage such pretension and mendacity, it would be good to create some space of silence and meditation where clutter and noise are eliminated.

If you really want to grow something, you cannot begin with the forest, you must start by planting and caring for the little seeds.


My feeling is, after reading this, is that we should get a group project, like the reading group, up and running, ASAP. Others when they see people have a good time will join or watch or browse and check back. If you want something to happen in the group, make it happen. Others will not make it happen for you. That happened with the other reading groups I was engaged in and that the sharing becomes part of an archive is important, it cuts out a lot of BS because you will be on YouTube.

You like the tone of the moderator, you like the pace, you know what the assignment is and do it. The reading group can be an attractor and good writing can emerge out of the clash of civilizations in the making. No one is an expert, all of us are experts about something.

Each of us learned the ABCs and how to dot an i and cross a t and ride a bike and brush our teeth and shake hands and tie our shoes. We learned a lot of stuff and it was really hard but we wanted to do it and we did. We want to start a revolution? Okay. Start slow, break it down into chunks, come up with some compelling stories about your own experience and if you have no experience call it fiction or poetry or dream and act ‘as if’.

Don’t write about what you know ( that’s not very much) write about what obsesses you. People need to hear about the weird stuff, the stuff that you hide. We need to be able to deal with being out of our depth. If you don’t know a word, look it up. I like idiosyncratic and odd.

Some people like to comment who may not have read the chapter. That’s cool. And those who have gone deeper may be more interested in going deeper. There is a difference between speaking in public and writing in private, or reading in private and meta-commenting on the process. And exploring what you don’t know sometimes feels uncertain. I assume that there will be enough people on board who are comfortable with the arrangements and can participate at the level they are at, recognizing how fluid that can be, with all of the shit many of us have to put up with.

What is needed for any movement to start is movement, and momentum that builds on previous movement. You can over rehearse and get stale. The curtain has to come up eventually whether you are ready or not. Sing out Louise!

And when it is your turn to speak after you have listened to all the manifestos and intentions and you want to bring your best self to the discourse event and then what happens next? Get ready. Get set. Go!


I don’t disagree with what you’ve written, Johnny, but I feel a need to put it in context. Marco mentioned in one of his comments elsewhere about creating spaces which can accommodate coop activity. It appears Marco doesn’t want to have only an exclusive club for certain types of artists and writers, but a true coop where individuals with other skills, talents and interests are welcome too and feel that what they bring is useful and has a place. The larger overall structure is what my comment addresses, the architecture, and it appears it is what Marco and Caroline and others have been thinking about, in addition to individual rooms, and particular activities, book readings among them, that may be started in this or that one.

I agree with you that there can be too much overthinking to where everything becomes stagnant. Too many ideas at the same time, too many choices, not enough focus and direction, on the whole only ends up bewildering and confusing people, and sort of makes up their minds for them, predisposing them to tune out and pass on. I find it a little disheartening that there aren’t more individuals jumping in for participation in comment boards. You are a wonderfully energetic and original character, imaginative and intelligent, Johnny, a fantastic writer, I’m truly glad and grateful to have made your acquaintance, but I don’t only want to interact with you, and I’m sure the feeling is mutual. What I and Caroline address in our comments is how to welcome more in for actual participation. What you say about momentum is true, but one must make a good start first to get the ball rolling.

To flip your impatient sarcasm around and give you a dose of your own medicine, let me apply the actual point I was making to your Clean Language and Clean Space idea. You walk into a room and you find everything in disarray. Several books have fallen off the shelf, landing open and face-down on the floor; a bike has toppled, and the dots from the "i"s have rolled under the table. No need to develop an entire theory about it. It’s redundant. Just pick up what has fallen down and put the marbles back in the drawer.

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I agree with you @care_save and @jDockus—simpler and more inviting is better for this About page.

However, regarding the grade-level readability of the text, I don’t think we should aim for 8th-grade level readability. How is that even determined, anyway? And should general (modern education system) grade levels of intelligibility matter to us? Is that a useful criteria to apply to our communications?

I love @JDockus’ vision of Cosmos being a fundamentally family-friendly place. This is really a beautiful vision…

It would be wonderful if the general presentation, where the spirit of the whole is established, stayed at a level where kids of various ages feel welcome too, and wouldn’t hesitate to jump in and get involved in exchanges with older folks. I think it’s a worthy goal to shoot for the creation of an environment where the three ages of life have a place for expression, and all feel free to interact.

I could certainly imagine a day, for example, when my daugthers are able to participate in Cosmos events and activities, as young intellectuals in their own right. Cosmos Kids! Intersteller Culture Camp! :slight_smile:

However, realistically, the youngest kind of person I could imagine having any interest in Cosmos at this time is a precocious high schooler, most likely with a college-level vocabulary and reading comprehension, who would certainly have a curiousity about unfamiliar concepts.

In fact, that reminds me, we had a couple high schoolers read Infinite Jest with us. One in particular was active in the discussions and it was great. We all made friends. She was on the debate team in her school, and also opened up about her struggles with depression, and found some support in the group. Check out what she said after finishing the book:


But @care_save, I think that whatever the difficulty of the language, the gist of your feedback is that the text could be more inviting. Sexier. I agree! And I think this connects with what @johnnydavis54 is saying, which is that the most attractive thing is to see people having a good time—and to feel welcome to join in the fun, not overburdened with a lot of complexity.

In our case, however, “fun” often consists in grappling with complexity, nuance, levels of meaning, etc. So this somehow needs to be clearly communicated, otherwise we will get the wrong people in the door, attracted by fancy words without a sense for the depth, and it will get awkward very quickly.

Cosmos, as a ‘space’, could be a refuge from the dumbing down and psychic violence of other spaces on the web. It would be its own kind of “bubble,” to be sure—a better bubble, if you will—but one which actually preserves some relation to the Real.

What qualities define this space? The words elegant and bold come to mind at the moment…

Elegance is simplicity with nuance.

Boldness is simplicity with power.

@JDockus’ “messy room” metaphor feels right to me as well. I would love it if we could get more people feeling at home in the space and even welcome to clean up the dog poo in the yard and do the dishes.

So here’s what I propose. Let’s go with this text for now. The Presenting Cosmos video (version 1.0) is ready; the website is ready; I have some last updates to make to the forum, which I will work on this afternoon; then we can begin inviting more people in for real.

I also think we should read a book, and would like to work with you on that @johnnydavis54; and I think we should open up a conversation about what other people want to do in this space. I really do want people to feel free to try things. I’m also aware that we need to make the instructions and pathways for doing so easier.

But, to get the ball rolling, I would love to read Sloterdijk. I think he’s a thinker for our times, and he’s come up for me in various contexts over the past couple months.

Here is Sloterdjik on one of my favorite podcasts, Entitled Opinions, very recently:

And John David Ebert—whose book of poetry we’re publishing this year—just did a podcast on Sloterdjik. He actually proofread all three of the Spheres trilogy translations in his job at SemioText(e); he has a YouTube series on Sloterdjik as well.


More importantly, I think the theme is right for Cosmos:

If The Ever-Present Origin was about Time and Intensification (which was needed to break out of the accelerating stagnation of consensus time) now what seems to be needed is Space and Expansion (which is needed to grow the “immune system” where mindful culture is preserved from the deluge of bullshit that threatens to bury our society).

I would invite any Cosmos member to edit the About page. We can keep discussing it, hopefully with others as well, and let’s see where it goes.

I made the post a wiki. Here’s how you can edit it.

And here is a very simple guide to the markup, if needed:


If only as an experiment, I’d love to see how this page might evolve with community members working on it wiki style. The only guideline I would suggest is that the text syncs or complements with the video, since the pieces will need to work synergistically on the website. The exact ideas and words do not need to match, but they should resonate with and amplify each other.

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“to get the ball rolling, I would love to read Sloterdijk. I think he’s a thinker for our times, and he’s come up for me in various contexts over the past couple months.”

This is great, Marco, and I appreciate the hard work you and Carolyn and many others are doing behind the scenes to make this forum possible. I enjoyed the last Winter of Origins group read and that actually had a very good impact on our imagined futures. A year later and we are here again with a new book in mind.

I share your enthusiasm for exploring Sloterdijk at this time. The first thing I need to do is learn how to pronounce his name properly. I also want to read some background material, and I am aware of Ebert’s work and will check out the podcast you mention.

I read a collection of interviews with Sloterdijk and I read one of his shorter books and admire him a lot. If you want to do the first book in the trilogy, that is fine with me, I just am eager to get a better handle on the Political landscape that is shifting so wildly and wonder if the second volume might generate more momentum. I believe they can be read in any order as they all sort of point to one another, as a good trilogy should.

To make a Clean Start, I would like to ask you, Marco, a few simple questions.

  1. For this group reading of Sloterdijk to be really useful for you, this reading will be like what?

I have a follow up question that will develop out of the answer you offer. When we both have the time to focus we could do some clean language questions about reading and writing and maybe develop some metaphors that could be shared with the group. Might be fun to do this using zoom as we did with Zaq. Also as a follow up to the Gebser I would like to model Time with you. And then we could set the stage for exploring Space with Sloterdijk.

Another question might be-

And when you are reading at your best that’s like what?

But we can do this when we have a safe container, I greatly value intimacy, and feeling safe, so that it is possible to go deeper into uncharted territory, creating ever better maps.

Thanks again and look forward to get the ball rolling-

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Beautiful, Marco. There’s really nothing to add. Essential parts are here. I’m just as excited as the next freethinking and creative individual to explore outer space, expanding into the farthest regions, going boldly where no man has gone before, but I deliberately pared down my comments to direct attention to the counterbalance and grounding needed, so that everything does not spin out of control and crash to the ground, leaving a smoking crater.

One of the main problems of contemporaneity, screaming out to be addressed, is that you get a roomful of individuals and everyone essentially or at least initially speaking a different language, playing by rules of different games, talking past each other, or over each other’s heads, not to and with each other. A lot of pretending ends up happening that way, and no real learning. Everyone makes their clever comments (I’ve certainly done my share), pats each other on the back, and honesty itself is slowly undermined and becomes the casualty; and without honesty, there’s no learning. It’s replaced by the practice of pretending. No one goes to the core anymore, to the ground, but always stays on the outside of things, to the periphery, shooting fireworks into the sky. That’s what we have in spades in the contemporary world I think: individuals who excel in putting on displays and pretending . They even become recognized as the experts. You asked recently, Marco, seeming a little exasperated behind the admission, “What are we learning?” That in itself, that you even had to ask that, speaks volumes. I find it very funny, and ironic, that I could be challenged on what I’m driving at, when Ed Mahood, regarding a video of John Berger and Susan Sontag sitting at a table across from each other that Johnny posted, led to both of them wistfully and nostalgically reflecting on a time when individuals actually had discussions with each other.

There are types of writing and postings which may be on the face of it very dazzling, a grand spectacle, and in fact, when the essence is boiled down to the actual substance, just sort of tickle the brain, or maybe don’t even do that, leaving one staring into nothingness; and there are other types which perhaps aren’t as glamorous, with makeup on and furs, swinging hips and dancing around, and stopping for poses on the catwalk, but reach deep down inside and nourish us. I actually want to be nourished. After a while, if there’s just a bunch of wonky geek talk and spectacle, noise and fury, signifying nothing, I know, speaking for myself, I’ll quietly and naturally move on to other things.


John says-
“I actually want to be nourished. After a while, if there’s just a bunch of wonky geek talk and spectacle, noise and fury, signifying nothing, I know, speaking for myself, I’ll quietly and naturally move on to other things”

What I am most drawn to in this statement is the first sentence. John states a desired outcome. The rest of the sentence describes what he doesn’t want and the consequences of what happens next.

So my interest as a CL researcher would be to ask in a certain sequence some of the following. I offer the questions here as an over view of my task as a CL practitioner, to respect the other persons model of the world and to leave out my own metaphorical constructs. So CL is not a conversation or a dialogue. It is a structured communication that models the Self process, ultimately.

" And when you want to be nourished, is there anything else about nourished?
" And whereabouts is nourished?"
" And does nourished have a size or a shape?"
" And want to be nourished, and when want to be nourished what kind of want is that?
" Does that want have a size or shape?"
" And when that want to be nourished, what happens next?"

So this is just a brief encounter with my process as a modeler, using John’s own language, to explore his self-model. I offer this cluster of Clean Language questions, and suggest the syntax of the questions, how they point out certain features of the language generated by the client, alerts us to the client’s self generated metaphors. We are inviting the exploration of qualities.

This also what is happening in the Sphere, Bubble, analogies for cultural and personal transformation described in the podcasts. We want to create safe container for a very good reason.

And Marco, as I study the podcasts I notice that Sloterdijk says that his ordinary voice is a baritone, but that his writing voice is a tenor. He believed that Nietzsche, in his writing was a tenor too. So that is an interesting metaphor, a metaphor that I can use. When I am writing I am a tenor, I hit the high notes, I generate excitement, I am romantic, etc.

A good CL research question could be-" And when writing at your best, your writing voice is like what?"

A safe container is a lot like what they are calling a Bubble, It is a safe configuration in which a person or a culture can protect itself. As in molecular biology we have organism emerge out of what is inside and what is outside of the membrane, what gets in, what is excreted, what stays inside and functions internal to the cell, and the organism. This metaphor is developed further in the podcasts and I find this of great interest as a modeler of discourse events.

Also as we have image schemas, unconscious, as of being in a womb, we our concepts are metaphorically structured by such unconscious experience. What is in or out is primary concern.

In and out of an argument, falling in love, falling out of love, being in the know, being in the market, getting out of the market, and so on. This image schema is out of conscious awareness but in shamanic journeys and in dream yoga experiences or traumatic or mystical events the image schema can get deconstructed, or pop!. This can be harrowing or produce ecstasy or something in between.

Off to work, good people, and thanks!


Totally agree that we should get actual activities happening among our existing community simultaneous with putting this About page out there & opening up membership! Hmmm… where would be the best spot to locate a thread where we hash out/coordinate the different book clubs / movie clubs / discussion topics / creative committees that we want to kick off amongst ourselves over the next… year? months?

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Marco–great stuff in your comment here!

I totally share the ultimate aspiration, voiced by John and Marco, of accessibility for all ages.

However I have substantial concerns about launching the About page with the language “as is” above. At the very least, I’d need to see links or call-out/pop-up boxes that define the uncommon terms (like praxis). Even better, imho, would be to nix some of the hifalutin clunkiness of terms like “ethical praxis” and “narrative premise” in favor of clearer, simpler communications. To conclude that the people who will probably be interested (read: who we probably want in our spaces) should be comfortable reading at a college level (and thus would happily parse dense text on an About page of-all-places!) subtly reinforces a certain sociocultural homogeneity for our spaces–and again, I don’t think that that’s patently true of the actual content and nature of what’s happening in the forums. It sets a tone, a voice, for Cosmos that I’m not comfortable with. Put it live if you will, but let me help rework it with equivalent urgency–if you will.

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“When writing at your best, that’s like what?” “When being nourished, that’s like what?” I am ecstatic that you’ve taken the meat of this conversation in this direction, johnny! I was just talking with Marco two evenings ago about the potential for the Cosmos co-op members to build up our own metaphors, using Clean Language, that could form a spontaneous, participatory common framework for what we are doing as we move forward–given, as John points out, the challenges of coming into a room and all speaking different codes & languages, wherein we gain social esteem by “pretending” we grok what’s going on. I’d really like to “take up” the problem/project of what certain words (which some of us in this “sphere/bubble” called Cosmos may–or, may not–identify with) mean, in a dialogic framework. Maybe we could use Clean Language questions to ‘call out’ any dense/sticky terms in any language representing Cosmos (e.g. the Codex, any public web pages, etc.) and workshop them in a forum? I mean, I’m talking about a long term project here… but would love to think up how that could be set up and how that could work. Considering how important both having a safe, and a challenging, “bubble” are for our members… let’s really dig into “what’s nourishing?” What’s “attaining your full artistic potential”? What’s “encouraging experimentation”? What’s “real conversation”? Etc. …I’m actually feeling ecstatic just imagining the potential for this!

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Hey Caroline and Johnny, that’s definitely worth exploring - “nourishing” - why that term popped out while I wrote my comment. Of course that may mean different things to different individuals. For me it’s as good as saying the beating and living and breathing human heart. In many ways it’s an intangible, but it’s a personal and individual organ - an organism - which can be watered and have its roots fed, or it can be deprived or subjected to impoverishment and starved. I suppose one can still sustain it feeding it nothing but junk food, ding-dongs and ho-hos, but it will not by those means grow stronger. By those means rather one paves the way for giving oneself a heart attack.

What is it to love? That question comes to mind related to this. Sometimes one comes across a friend, doing something which appears to inflict self-harm, or unnecessarily convoluted, overly dramatic, never going to the heart of the matter, but always dancing around it. Becoming drained and exhausted listening to them, one finally exclaims, “Enough! Why do you do that to yourself?”

I could use as another example, in keeping with my last comment on this thread: What is more nourishing, being held hostage in a room with 17 speakers in it, all placed around at random, each of them blasting a different song at the same time, or sitting in a concert hall and listening to an orchestra of individuals, each highly skilled at playing their instruments, performing a symphony by Mozart or Beethoven? (Of course, I use this just an example for the sake of clarity. I actually like avant-garde music, which explores sound pushed to extremes, dissonance and discord not at all discounted, even employing literal noise within a conceptual structure or context. I’m well aware that something in one context can really grate on one’s nerves, and in another context stimulate.)

I find a lot of intellectual jargon without nourishment in it. It sounds good but the more one exposes oneself to it, the emptier one feels. I suspect a power grab is in it. The impressive sound of it is meant to hypnotize, paralyze, transfix us, getting us to behave like deer caught in headlights.

After posting my last comment yesterday, probing myself my own words and what exactly they mean, the phrase "intellectual exhibitionism” also occurred to me. I suppose there’s a place for that. Many who do it however, only come off as perverted. Oscar Wilde, however, was a real dandy.

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My favorite Wilde quote," Every whore has a future, and every saint has a past."

And thanks for developing nourishment, and yes we do use words in ways that are unique and idiosyncratic and so CL has been a great tool for helping me stop projecting my own bias onto someone else’s words, descriptions, models. It helps me stay curious and open rather than jump in with lots of presuppositions and projections.

And when you want nourishment, how could this group support you?

I realize this is a sort of outlandish question as we are all communicating in a public space that is not face to face. So we have no direct access to the very important information conveyed by tone of voice, tempo-rhythms, gesture, eye contact, breathing and all the other subtle cues we give to one another in real time. It is very challenging to enter into the middle of a long thread and try to pick up on the momentum and seek to find the current again.

So I appreciate also the unique opportunities we have to develop ideas quickly online that may have take tons of time in bars and cafes for anyone to get to the point. If we are sensitive enough to the language in use, in our online attempts we might discover lots about each other that even our best friends aren’t aware of. I’m open to the possibility that even as the old fashion face to face exchanges are dying out, because no one is paying that much attention to who they are with, as our devices manipulate us so much, that we can develop our skills to cut through to another level. I am nostalgic, feeling the loss of the depth that Berger and Sontag seem to touch upon so gracefully, in their conversation…

I just hold open the possibility that we can open up our latent capacities to get rapport with each other and learn something useful and maybe even delightful!

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“Maybe we could use Clean Language questions to ‘call out’ any dense/sticky terms in any language representing Cosmos (e.g. the Codex, any public web pages, etc.) and workshop them in a forum? I mean, I’m talking about a long term project here… but would love to think up how that could be set up and how that could work.”

You are reading my mind, Carolyn. I would love to work on this and perhaps we can coordinate a live event with you and our friend, Marco, to play with the adjacent possibilities. I would love to find new applications for using CL and I could get some people in that community to follow us. Most people doing CL are therapists or coaches but I am more interesting in developing writing projects and finding those hard to put into words tangles that we often get into.

And when actually feeling ecstatic just imagining the potential, what happens next?


I remember when I was a boy, not too much older than my first daughter is now, and I would walk to the candy store at the edge of my neighborhood. I bought candy all the time, after school. I had my favorite kinds; others I shunned or that seemed gross to me. For example, I could never stomach Baby Ruths. I don’t know why. I liked the idea of Baby Ruths. I was a Yankees fan! But something about the flavor and texture of the nougat filling didn’t sit right with me. My favorite chocolate bar were Milky Ways.

But my favorite bubble gum—the King of all Bubble Gums for me—was Hubba Bubba. It was the most luxuriant little soft brick of chewy elasticity you could imagine, with a subtle dusting of powdered sugar on the outisde, which you would smell poignantly when you unwrapped a piece, and which is dry for just one glorious moment against the inside of your mouth before you chomp down on the chunk, releasing a gush of concentrated sweetness from inside.

Hubba Bubba was a special treat for me, though I would sometimes opt for Bubble Yum (watermelon, artificially flavored) or even Bazookas, which were almost the opposite of Hubba Bubbas in terms of texture; hard and dense, a workout for the jaws to get going. You could zing a Bazooka at someone’s face and injure their eye! But you could buy them individually and they only cost 5 cents, and I think (if my memory serves me correctly) they had some kind of micro-cartoon inside (…was it Bazooka Joe?), whereas a pack of Hubba Bubba cost 55 cents and came with no cartoon.

Of course, one of the things I loved to do, like many children, was blow bubbles—and Hubba Bubba was hands down the best bubble gum for that. I think it was my dream to blow a Hubba Bubba bubble the size of my head!

Peter Sloterdijk begins his Spheres trilogy with the beautiful image of a boy blowing a bubble—in this case a soap bubble—from a balcony, and how the boy’s attentive (and tentative) awareness follows the bubble through the air, floats with the bubble, even in some way is that very ephemeral iridescent blob of a translucent formation. (There’s some 5 cent words!) Sloterdijk writes about this very simply and evocatively, apropos of image itself.

It occurs to me that not only Cosmos but even these conversations are like bubbles, that we blow and blow and blow, filling them with our inspiration, to see how big we can get them. And sometimes our thought bubbles get so big they splat in our face! We get soap in our eyes, or oozy, stretchy bubble gum in our hair (which you can get out with peanut butter, by the way).

Corporate sponsor???

So much for nourishment…

And @johnnydavis54, I would like to follow up with some specifc questions about your Clean Language questions, and their patterning, especially as regards space, time, and quality, but I will save those for a dedicated topic. I’ve started taking notes! Let’s also start a separate topic for planning the Sloterdijk reading…

Regarding the About page, @Caroline, let’s continue hashing it out. I’m not satisfied with it either, and I agree that we should nix those words that are too technical, such as “ethical praxis” and “narrative premise,” even though these may be useful in other contexts.

And regarding inside/outside, and also where to start organizing activities, I would suggest you take a look at how I’ve structured the channels on the forum, which I’ve made a lot of progress on these past two days. You can see the state of that project here:


Click into a channels and see the pinned post at the top, “About [this] channel,” for the overview and access levels. I’ve tried to strike a balance of public and private, open and closed, so we have a variety of spaces for differnt kinds of discussions and coordination.

I keep returing to @bradsayers’ essential formulation in thinking about generative spaces: “Open to learn; closed to protect.” Here’s where he introduced the Tao of that idea:

The new introduction to the forum, which I posted last night, attempts to define these these boundaries in simple terms. It’s a first pass, anyway.


But for example, the “Creative Studio” is for members, private, not visible to the general public, but the Cosmos Co-op channel is “transparent,” although only co-op members are able to create posts there; and the mix of access in other channels is slightly different. I have rationales for my choices, but we haven’t really discussed these publicly and I would be glad to take feedback, answer questions, and iterate.

The post where I laid out my first draft, which I know you saw, but for reference, is here:


I love the idea of using Clean Language and other structured conversational tools to form a “spontaneous participatory common framework” for what we are doing. I think it would be wonderful to define a common space where our respective conceptual and metaphorical libraries can fruitfully interface.

I would see the Codex as a “canonical” expression of that, but not exclusive or exhaustive; rather, a way of Making Space for the deep qualities, nuances, and divergent meanings of our shared code, which I hope we’ll take our time to explore and craft mindfully in the coming months.

Meanwhile, at the outer membrane of Cosmos, specifically the About page, what feels right is to be as inclusive and inviting as possible in our language—yet without dumbing down or oversimplifying it all, because that would be inviting in forces that would actually disrupt the deeper spaces we wish to inspire.

I guess practically what I’m saying is that let’s continue working on the About page and bring it to a state of articulation where it feels that the space invoked is broad, common, and inviting enough to bring in the life and nourishment we want.

Please feel free to revise my original post, which is a wiki. Or perhaps we need a fresh start, which focuses more precisely on specific words, phrases, and story elements? I may do some more work on it if I get inspired this weekend. But really, anyone can edit the wiki right now, or create an alternative version in a new post. We’ll talk about it soon, I know.

I so agree that it would be delightful to explore our words and concepts more in depth, so that whatever we say on the surface level is resonant with and grounded in our considerations deeper within these spaces. There are such riches buried in our language. I feel that if we’re really sensitive to how language shapes our experience (which is very much unconscious most of the time, thus a process of learning and discovery) we will gain some power to re-shape it, and learn to enjoy ourselves more, which is a process I hope Cosmos will nurture in everyone who participates.

“And @johnnydavis54, I would like to follow up with some specifc questions about your Clean Language questions, and their patterning, especially as regards space, time, and quality, but I will save those for a dedicated topic. I’ve started taking notes! Let’s also start a separate topic for planning the Sloterdijk reading…”

As David Grove said Clean Language allows a person to become a Master of Time and Space. Of course, in a sense that sounds so grandiose, and yet it also seems rather obvious that we need people to go for that.

“What pattern connects the crab to the lobster, and the orchid to the primrose and all four of them to me? And me to you?…The pattern which connects is a metapattern. It is a pattern of patterns.” Gregory Bateson -Mind and Nature

By the way if you need someone to interview Nora Bateson, I would love to volunteer! I heard you and Jeremy discuss this possibility. She would really get what CL is about, as it comes out of Gregory’s musings. Just putting that out there.

You’re really rolling with your comments, Johnny. I enjoy your writing very much. It has a fluid elegance to it. However, I must admit that I’m skeptical about Clean Language. Not that it’s the same, of course, and maybe I’m off, not knowing enough about it, but it gives me this vibe of Ayn Rand and her Objectivism. I recall in my twenties coming across Rand’s Objectivism, interacting with a couple individuals about it, and becoming increasingly critical of it. It smelled like a new religion to me and it still does. I never understood why objectivity, plain and simple, had to be capitalized and made into an “ism.” That’s the first scent of fishiness to me. It’s like bottling water which is available to everyone, putting a label with a fancy title on it, and then trying to sell it back to them. From that point onward, you can pile on the nonsense. You can say that the water in the bottle is not just any water but has special vitamins and minerals added to boost brain power, and so forth. The placebo effect then takes hold, and even those peddling it fall under the spell of believing it, and of course they really play up that belief, giving it religious overtones, because they’re the ones who are literally profiting by it (selling books and tickets to symposiums and taking fees for classes). I have this sense that Clean Language is like this. I don’t see why simple clarity aspired to isn’t enough.

Certainly, since water is water, if you drink the bottled water, even if the branding and selling of it as special and with incredible enhancing properties is essentially a hoax, you still get the benefits of the water, being nourished and replenished by it. Likewise, if you eat a dirty snowball, when you’re dying of thirst and that’s all that’s available to you, it’s still better than nothing: All that matters is that you get the water to slake your thirst. So eating a dirty snowball isn’t necessarily bad. I mean, I can subject myself to the Clean Language program, and while reaping some benefit from it, finding that my use of language in certain respects has improved and become “cleaner" because of it, still be amused by the hoax. No doubt those who really believe in the program and have a vested interest in it will point to me and exclaim, “Aha! You see? You have a sarcastic grin on your face, but you can’t fool us. There’s definitely an improvement in your use of language. Let me give you a brochure. You’re showing remarkable progress and are ready to advance to the next stage.” Maybe for fun I’d come to the next class dressed as Spock and stay in character for the duration.

Clean Language also, strangely enough, recalls to my mind Scientology and its peculiar jargon and treatment and utilization of language as a “technology.” If one signs up for the program (or I should say, “the programming”) and asks such and such questions, takes such and such steps, and employs such and such techniques, then one will achieve a higher level of consciousness, crystalline in its clarity, and so forth. Once you’ve been through the spin cycle, even the whites of your eyes will be bleached. There’s a sales pitch which is dangled like bait, and once one is hooked, one is reeled in and kept from thrashing around by a kind of hypnosis. This furthermore recalls to my mind Landmark Forum, formerly “est” of cult guru Werner Erhard. Language is treated and applied very curiously in these cults, suspiciously to me, as a special sort of technology, pitched as something one needs if one wants to achieve some form of enlightenment or transformation into a higher state (to me it’s really just a rebranding and reselling of the "Power of Positive Thinking”), and in its specific oddities and neologistic turns of phrase it’s even copyrighted and protected, giving those who participate in its use, and pay to advance to the higher levels, the programmed in turn becoming the programmers, the feeling they are part of a secret society, and one day will be one of the illuminati.

“You’re really rolling with your comments, Johnny. I enjoy your writing very much. It has a fluid elegance to it.”

Thanks, John. And I would say the same about your own writing.

And Clean Language reminds you of Ann Rand, Objectivism, Scientology and hypnosis, Werner Erhard and the Forum, and is there anything else that Clean Language reminds you of?

" I mean, I can subject myself to the Clean Language program, and while reaping some benefit from it, finding that my language in certain respects has improved and become “cleaner” because of it, still be amused by the hoax."

And while reaping benefit from it, finding that my language in certain resects has improved and become " cleaner" because of it, is there anything else about reaping benefit?

And what kind of benefit is that?

And when your language in certain respects has improved, is there anything else about certain respects improved?

How would you know your language in certain respects has improved?

Can your language in certain respects improve?

And when a benefit, what kind of hoax is that when reaping a benefit?

And an amusing hoax. Is there anything else about amusing when an amusing hoax that you reaped a benefit from?

And what kind of hoax is that hoax before it was amusing?

" I actually want to be nourished."

And is there a relationship between nourished and an amusing hoax?

I’m off to the International Association of Consciousness this weekend to explore Out of body experiences. I have had an increase lately and need assistance in learning how to work with these experiences. I hope you have a great weekend, John, and that you can put your pencil down or stop typing at your computer and look out a window perhaps and relax and recall something of benefit yo your writing, some benefit you haven’t thought of in a long time.

But you don’t have to do that. There are certainly other kinds of things you can do. Placebo effects are effects after all. I hope you enjoy lots of them!

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In defense of Clean Language, @JDockus, one thing I know that distinguishes it, based on my limited exposure, is precisely that it’s not a proprietary, trademarked, business pyramid scheme, like the examples you cite. As far as I know, from what @johnnydavis54 has shared with me, it’s just a tool that anyone can use, without needing to seek permission or certification or initiation or what have you. In this sense, probably a better analog for clean language is non-violent communication.

I do think, however, that any ‘dialogical practice’ probably should be used in context. John Davis has spoken of how helpful clean language has been for him in processing personal trauma. This is a specific use case—not a general, everyday conversational context, where the formality of the question-patterns could seem awakard if not even threatening.

Once in my early 20s I went out to a bar with some friends. A pretty mediocre band was playing and I got bored, so I found myself a spot in the back by the wall, sat down on the floor, closed my eyes, and started meditating. A few minutes later, a bouncer came over to me, poked my shoulder and said, “Hey buddy, you can’t be sleeping in here.”

I replied, “I’m not sleeping, I’m meditating.”

“I don’t care what you’re doing, buddy, you keep doing it and I’ll kick you out.”

He was a big guy and, well, I wasn’t about to start a fight. So I got up, found my friends, and got myself another drink.

But it just goes to show, even a usually harmless practice sometimes needs the proper context. Even a safe container needs…a safe container.

And sometimes, when you’re thirsty, all you need is a glass of water. It is good if that water is filtered and clean. But you don’t necessarily need a special branded bottle for the water. On the other hand, it’s good to have nice carbon filteration system in the kitchen if the water from the tap tastes like chlorine and you suspect that the fluoride added in the treatment plant will give you cancer.

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