Bubbles, Live Conversation #7 – 7/20 – Soul Partitions...

Our conversation on Chapter 6: “Soul Partitions – Angels—Twins—Doubles,” as well as Excursus 6: “Spheric Mourning – On Nobject Loss and the Difficulty of Saying What Is Missing” and Excursus 7: “On the Difference Between and Idiot and an Angel.”


Ed Mahood
John Davis
Wendy Ronitz-Baker
Marco V Morelli

*@raphae1 sent his regrets by email, ahead of the meeting, that he wasn’t going to make it due to a prior commitment.


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" In future, anyone who wishes to have a liberating effect on humans in a specific sense must be not so much an envoy with a transcendent message as a human being where directly evident otherness fully replaces the bringer of news from beyond in a real presence." p. 472

What kind of human? One with a real presence. Really? And how will I know a human with a real presence from a human with an unreal presence? Sounds like the way to lose the next election.

Real or unreal presence is like the flip of the coin and too static. I sense that Peter is still stuck in Freud’s steam engine, hydraulic metaphor. Super ego on top, ego in the middle, Id on bottom. Its a basic top down structure. He also has a tinge of nihilism which adds to his old world charm but Peter is still in the grid and I don’t think he wants to get out of it. I may be wrong. I welcome other responses.

Consider a fractal, motifs in motion that unify wholes and parts though our pattern detection capacities. We are fractal observers, not steam engines.The future is moving towards our past in ways that we can intuit if we are clear enough. I’m calling all angels! And I like demons too.

And a liberating effect? What is ‘liberating effect’ in Peter’s world? I hope he gets to that in the next volume and hope he also gets more transparent. It seems that our media arrangements can stabilize or destabilize depending upon who is using it. I don’t think technology is a problem unless we get attached to it. It is a servant not our God.

I want to use the efficient Mental to liberate the Subtle Realms. You don’t need expensive technology from Silicon valley to do that. You do need to cultivate your attention.I don’t think Peter spends much time in subtle realms. He is above all that. living as he does in an expensive Ivory Tower. A fragile place to be in this, Alice in Wonderland phantasmagoria. Sanctuaries are getting more and more expensive.

Stigmatizing angels as idiot savants seems to be a way to maintain his own stance as a very rational non angel without a message who wants to be appreciated for his presence. And he does have presence as a writer but I don’t think he should be listened to about the future of the future. He spins some interesting tall tales about the long, mostly dead past. Historians, however, rarely make good futurists.

There are lots of debates about evolution as slow and incremental ( like psychoanalysis) with a pre-given outcome ( heterosexual marriage) contrasted with the notion of rapid extinction and punctuated equilibria ( sudden interruptions). Culture and Nature it seems to me have a very fuzzy boundary and I would definitely draw the lines very differently from Peter with his heavy Euro Centric albatross around his neck. I may be unfair to Peter. I am open to doubt my own feelings here. I am hoping that I’m misreading in a creative way.

" The idiot is an angel without a message-an undstanced, intimate augmenter of all coincidentally encountered beings." p. 472. ???..

Peter seems to have never had an encounter of the third kind. He has never been on the Road to Damascus. He thinks an angel is a picture on a Hallmark Card. Angels, in my experience, have many attributes but they are not idiots.

There are Holy Fools and Madmen for sure and Jesus Christ was not one of them.

Peter, although he doesn’t say it, is pretty much a neo liberal, who wants to debunk the Apocalyptic voices that have I believe run amok but this seems to be a very weak way of working with the Dark Side.


Well, I must say, @johnnydavis54, you’re riding the edge today. Nice riff on the high notes here. But, when you’re in the groove, well, you’re groovin’.

You’ve hit a number of nails squarely on their misplaced heads. PS’ spherical cathedral is looking a bit more like a shack today. But the glory that attends special places is never made sound on their appearances, only by the presences they provide. Yet, I think you’ve got your finger in a couple of open wounds, too:

The question’s both poignant and insightful, but if he hasn’t given us a clue yet (and we’re 3/4 of the way through Vol. 1, why should we think he’s going to get to it later?

Precisely, but if you want to provide a media-theoretical solution, you need to provide a media-theoretical problem. I agree with you, John, it’s only a problem if we allow it to be one. There are innumerable ways to counteract the technoculters.

Though I would add “with the help of the efficient Mythical and Magic” to your liberating Mental, I agree with your diagnosis: attention is the key and it’s the scarcest resource nowadays. I don’t think Peter can spend much time in subtle realms. This last reading closed the case for me: he’s a witnessing materialist. He’s befuddled and resentful because all those folks way back when, even if they had no idea of what they were talking about (because that’s all been debunked of course), but they nevertheless had a way of talking about it, and he can’t talk that talk anymore. And no one who he probably cares about is willing to learn that talk either. I’d probably be just as nihilistic in his shoes. I don’t think that comes from Old World, Euro-centrism. He’s simply trapped in a world of his own making. There are not encounters of the third kind allowed there, which is too bad; he’s missing all the fun.

Nor was Dostoyewski’s prince.

No, he doesn’t say it here, but in other writings, he comes down hard on the side of the free-trade charade. He’s a big fan of Big Capitalism. (He’s like Jordan Peterson on this point. For all their creative potential – and I believe that both of them have a lot – when it comes to economics, for some reason – and this applies to lots of other folks as well, it’s a very widespread phenomenon – they somehow can’t imagine a – well, for lack of a better word at the moment – “third economic way”. Almost any way, even some that look downright anarchistic (at least on the surface) are better than the two that have proven themselves to be failures and which have outlived their usefulness. Fortunately, there are a lot of people working on this point, but it is also the one where the resistance from the dying will be the strongest. (But that’s a whole other topic for another time and another place.)

Yes, John, I do think you’ve down an excellent job in zeroing in on – well, at least my – concerns with Mr. Sloterdijk. Let me put it this way: those of us who accept the (or, like myself, even believe in the reality of the metaphysical (which invariably becomes spiritual at some point … and if you don’t believe me, just ask our friend Gebser), we can not only talk about certain phenomena, we have an experiential foundation which allows us to engage it in a self-transforming way (be that positive or negative, it doesn’t matter for the argument). If you are denied that, or, even worse, if you deny yourself that avenue of affective thought, you will find most of human existence, life, and certainly culture, inexplicable. You will only ever be able to at best talk about it, for it is not really a reality that you may live. I firmly believe that Mr. Sloterdijk suspects that we (not personally, of course, but those of like minds) are correct in our perceptions and understandings of reality and what irks him more than he himself would care to admit is the fact that we don’t really care if he gets it or not. We’re going to go on looking for solutions to problems and searching for understandings that have practical, pragmatic applications to real-life issues anyway.

Unlike Michael, I don’t find Mr. Sloterdijk to be an original thinker, but I consider him an insightful and penetrating one. I do agree that Mr. Sloterdijk can be considered provocative, but I also think that Precht got him right: he really only wants to play, but what we could use right about now, in the grand scheme of history and things, is not just a player, but a worker: someone willing to roll up his intellectual and creative sleeves and, when necessary, kick some ass.

I know you have said more than once that you see him as a magician or magus of some sort, but I don’t see that at all. All the magicians and magi I’ve ever known were fighters. Mr Sloterdijk has perhaps been too pampered in his Ivory Tower for that kind of life. Too bad, really. With a little training and a bit or reorientation, he could be a good guy to have on the team.


I’m all for high intellectual play as long as it comes with an action plan! It is the Realist who formulates an Action Plan with the friendly contributions from the Critic and the Visionary/Dreamer.

The Fractal Participant/Observer is able to model spaces and times through the most exquisite instrument that the Kosmos has come up with and that is the human instrument. We contain multitudes, ( many plant and animal intelligences make us) we are hard wired for transcendence and we do not live by bread alone.

We have amazing meta-skills waiting to be developed that can re-incarnate the ego as servant rather than Master. We re-incarnate through the Imaginal into the flesh, not the other way around. We are not epiphenomena of purely material processes.

The Neo Libs and the Neo Cons are like speed bumps, they can slow down but not stop the speed of our more vibrant networks from vibrating. In my flesh I shall see God. They told me gay people were evil, they said women would never get the vote, that black people have no souls, that there would be a thousand year Reich, they continue creating havoc in the name of the Big Buck. They always go down in flames. We crash and burn and arise again. The Neo Lib, Post God configuration has a mission ( to take care of its own) but has no Vision. Obama’s administration sadly brought this to our attention. Trump is the last gap of the Patriarchy. There will be a tearing of hair and a gnashing of teeth!

More recently, we have observed the dark side of the Church and State ( Wall Street) have merged to become a new religious order. The Neo Libs try to have it both ways but they are in a big bind and it gets reprised all the way down. They say they are Post-God but they really are just the same old top down free traders we have heard since Reagan and Thatcher. Dear Margaret, in her loyal opposition to any kind of Justice, said there was no alternative. Her TINA formation has gobbled up the minds of the best and brightest. You may recall she claimed that there was no society.

An aside about her regime. When the theater that Shakespeare performed his last great plays, the Blacfriars, was rediscovered during the building of a shopping mall in London, she ordered that this most precious literary and cultural archive be bulldozed. I expect that Reagan and Thatcher’s short term focus has landed them where they ought to be. They were not Visionaries nor did they remember much about the past. Vanity all is vanity.

And third way economics is the next wave and it is very useful to study Peter’s seductive power tactics. He may pull a rabbit out of the hat! The alternate right is emerging out of their pacts with Devil/Mephistopheles and unless we disentangle ourselves from the Grid and the fight/flight/freeze dynamics of our archaic nervous system we may postpone indefinitely a remarkable opportunity to re-embody the Body Electric.

" If you bring forth that which is within you, it will save you. If you do not bring forth that which is within you it will destroy you." Gospel of St. Thomas


Angelic beings are among us. A child works with the family system.


And on a completely different note, literally, I cam across this link on my Facebook page and it struck me for a number of reasons. First, because of the geometry involved. Second, because it shows a torus in action (the torus having been mentioned in other contexts in this and related discussions). Third, because the movements involved reflect the interaction of symmetries/asymmetries, which our friend Peter never touches upon at all but which are of fundamental importance not only here but also in certain parts of quantum field theory.


Of a bit of an interesting subpoint perhaps, you may notice the six-pointed star and hexagonal structures that are also related to this discussion. (I have to think not only of the long, intense history of these forms in esoteric symbolism, but also of the importance of these structures to bees, and in turn the existential relationship between us humans and bees as well.)

Please don’t get the impression that I understand everything that is being said in the link or the further links that it references. I’m hardly a music theorist nor am I a mathematician nor even an armchair physicist. But, being one sensitive to the effects of symmetry/asymmetry this link struck a very resonant chord with me.


And while I’m at it (this Sunday has been alt.science day apparently), here’s a like to a well-known and oft-seen video of a talk by Rupert Sheldrake given at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Of particular relevance for our Sloterdijkian excursion are his thoughts on memories (starting about 15 minutes in) and his final remarks about whether matter is unconscious (at about 25:30). Sheldrake’s ontology – whether you agree with it or not is another matter – is anything but wobbly, but his clear presentation of these assumptions does shed a good deal of light on Mr. Sloterdijk’s difficulties which we have been talking about here.

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A post materialist world? I’m looking forward to that. I agree that Peter seems to share in a conventional neo liberal scientism. I have no problem with that but he does seem to oscillate uncomfortably with some of the material he is investigating which doesn’t fit that paradigm at all.

Lucky for me, I did a workshop with Sheldrake and his wife, Jill Purce, at the Open Center, before he became famous. He was fascinating then and he continues to develop the same themes and there is I sense a tipping point. The Daniel Dennett of the world are starting to act really nutty, their materialist security blanket is starting to fall apart… I read Nagel’s book and he has made a solid case but the materialists are as rabid as any creationist in holding onto their dogmas.


Actually, I like the potential implications of Sloterdijk’s “model” of the self, which seems to move us away from Freud’s triple-tiered hierarchy into a more fractal (as I understand fractals) or perhaps nested ‘Faberge-egg’ metaphor.

The structure of my “small world” is (pp. 438-439, English):

  1. “Me” and
  2. my “primal companion” forming a
  3. microcosm/sphere/bubble within which is ’
  4. unhindered mutual accessibility and around which the “companion” places
  5. a permeable membrane that, at its healthiest, is neither too inclusive nor too exclusive of “the outside”.

Again, as a “subject”, “I” am most complete in a “five-poled field” is (p. 442ff):

  1. “Me” and
  2. My “primal companion”,
  3. Mother,
  4. Father,
  5. Other (extended to “the limits of my capacity for transference” (p. 13))

That said, this makes Excursus 6 especially confusing for me. The “primal companion” does not appear to be something that can be separated from “me” in any meaningful way if it co-determines my ‘bubble’ and provides my ‘membrane’. That the “nobject” is neither angel nor ‘With’ makes some sense; there is still something very suggestive of exteriority about a messenger and even a placenta though it inhabits the same womb. But the “nobject” is not a genius either, and the genius pretty much exists because “I” do. So what exactly is this “thing” (Chose, en francais) that is both closer than a genius and able to be lost - or pronounced dead in the depths of my melancholia?
Or is the “primal companion” concept necessary at all? It seems to go without saying that the healthy human being learns (or grows into his/her instinctual knowledge - same thing, different expression?) to form partnerships. But surely the importance of mother and father (or whoever the ‘primary care givers’ happen to be) and others in this process cannot be denied. Wasn’t this whole project about how our bubbles are formed as much if not more from the outside in (hearts, faces, eggs)?

John (~83:26 mark): “Do we need technology to be connected?”
Deep question.
And what is connection (over and above the physical means of communication, of course)…?

(As ever, hoping these unfocused musings make some kind of sense.)


There’s an old Kabbalistic adage: You become what you hate.

Since what up until now has been considered mainstream science has become a religion (which we acknowledge when we call it “scientism”) it can, and does, have dogmas. Dogmas tell us what we are allowed to believe. If you don’t believe what is permitted, you are a heretic. It’s all very simple and it is nothing new. The only thing that is new are some of the words and concepts that we use to describe the phenomena.


Oh yes, TJ, your musings make sense, there’s no doubt about that.

The thing that gets me about potential, though, is that it is endless. If it can be anything, then it’s probably nothing.

One of the things that quantum physics, for example, is showing us is that reality as we know it is a kind of realization of potential. Sheldrake glosses over it in his talk, too, when he talks about the collapse of the wave function. Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle tells us that you can know the momentum of a (subatomic) particle or you can know it’s location, but you can’t know both. It’s the observation that makes the difference. So, literally, light, say, can be a wave or a particle depending on how you look at it. I wouldn’t want to generalize the details of this to the macro-world, but I think the principle applies, namely that observing that wave doesn’t produce just anything (though potentially it could be anything, I suppose), it is either a wave or a particle. In other words, there is limited number of actualities that are sensible for a given observation.

I believe that Mr. Sloterdijk recognizes this which is how I understand his insistence on exclusion: the sphere as container (some things are in, everything else is out). Distinction and discernment are the very foundations of any kind of recognition. If you can’t create some kind of contrast, nothing can be seen, for example. But contrast is limited in the range of intensity that makes it contrast (at night, all cats are grey, as the Germans say, but for you there are no cats at all if you’re blinded by the light). Similarly, there may be, as the post-structuralists and postmodernists pointed out, an infinite number of interpretations of a text, but a Jordan Peterson reminds us, only a limited number of them are legitimate; that is, make any real sense. There are limits and it might just be to our advantage to push the envelope, so to speak, but in full awareness of the fact that that is precisely what we are doing. I’m not sure that death and destruction on the “other side”, but the postmodernists have made it perfectly clear, as far as I am concerned, just how much nonsense there is “out there”.

And so, I see the model (if that is what it is) that Mr. Sloterdijk is developing (if that’s what he’s doing) as just that: a model. A model tells us, “this is how it could be”. To me, though, a good model tells us, “this is how is appears to be” and a great model tells us “this is how it most likely is”. My experience has been that good and great models conform to certain criteria that the efficient aspects of all consciousness structures have agreed on: coherence, consistency, parsimony, elegance, explanatory intensity, relevance, to name just the first few that spring to mind.

Any model, then, has the potential to be useful. I think you have done an excellent job of summarizing the primary features of Mr. Sloterdijk’s and I believe that things can be done with that which can be very helpful and useful. I, for example, have never found Freud’s model very helpful because (a) it took too much specialized knowledge to understand (Freudians are always telling you that you didn’t really understand what Freud was saying), (b) it struck me as arbitrary (why three parts, not five, and Sloterdijk has demonstrated that he thinks five is better), (c) it was fragmenting, not integrating (that is, the parts of the model are separate, distinct, and can never unify), and (d) it really didn’t help me in my everyday life (for example, dealing with adolescents at a boarding school).

Well, Freud’s model is not without value. I don’t find it all that exciting, but there have been thousands of Freudian analysts who I don’t doubt for one minute have helped hundreds of thousands of people lead “better” lives (in some sense of the word). One of the problems with Freud’s (or anybody’s model for that matter) is that they tend to be absolutized (one of those deficient mental hang-ups, I suppose), and instead of recognizing a tool for what it is, it becomes the overarching reality itself. The fact that this model has changed so little over the years is evidence, to me at least, of how unscientific it is. New information should inform modification of the model, and while a certain guarded resistance is to be welcomed, that’s not how our modern scientific community operates. And once the materialists became the majority in that community, well, it was possible to simply ignore Freud and move on. Ignoring things doesn’t make them go away, and as @johnnydavis pointed out in our last online conversation, his model is still very much a(n unrecognized and unacknowledged) part of our understanding of ourselves.

So, while I do recognize that Mr. Sloterdijk’s model has potential, I have to ask myself if it is really adding something to my own understanding of who we are. Wobbly ontologies are for me a sign of inconsistency and lack of coherence. The convoluted and often overly obscure paths that he takes to make the simplest of points lacks elegance in my eyes. The fact that he’s got a five-pole model of self that includes poles that are not-self (for at some point who or whatever I am must distinguish itself from what I am not … there’s that distinction and discernment again) and, in my mind, that is not being parsimonious. And, the fact that he’s waging some kind of quixotic fight against a broken-down windmill (Freudian psychoanalysis) simply strikes me as a bit irrelevant for my own life. But, let me repeat, that’s just me. I find that I’m simply investing too much time and energy for too few results.

This is not to say that Mr. Sloterdijk’s ramblings are worthless. If it weren’t for the online conversations and these pre-/post-conversation discussions, I would have tossed in the towel during the first reading. But, the other readers and participants raise issues and topics that are relevant for my own Quest and so I engage them as best I can. They keep me honest and mitigate the hostility born of frustration that I feel when I’m being confronted to too much nonsense, which for me includes apparently essential features of a model that could be excluded or perhaps disregarded or are perhaps not as essential as they first appeared to be. I haven’t penetrated the mystery of why we readers have to be kept guessing.

But, be that as it may, what really prompted me to respond here was this observation:

Nail. Head. Smack. A deep question to be sure, but the addendum is just as deep: connection beyond physical means. For me, then, the short answer is a resounding “Nope!” Digital technology is a tool that can enable connection, of course, but so is a bicycle when I want to go over to my friend’s house to play or the car when I drive south to visit my daughter and our extended family. There are cycling fanatics, to be sure, and there are folks who practically, if not literally, worship their automobiles, but nobody’s thinking about elevating these to the divine levels that we are apparently doing (or allowing to happen) when it comes to digital technology.

Even if we don’t always see things eye-to-eye here in our Sloterdijk discussion group, I, at least for my part, feel a connection to others in the group. We are sharing a common experience, whereby “common” means anything but “the same”. Put differently, we are all experiencing the same phenomenon (our reading of a particular book) and sharing what we are experiencing with each other (and potentially (!) with anyone in the future who watches the recordings or reads these forum postings). That connects. Well, at least I feel connected to everyone involved. What’s important for me in this regard is that this connection does not go away when I turn off my computer or go about my daily business. There are times during the day that something that Marco or Michael said in one of the online conversations floats back into my mind. In addition to the thought itself, there is the feeling of connection that resonates with. Depending on the intensity and afffectivity of any connection, this could also come up months or weeks or even years hence, when I’m talking to someone who was never involved and who doesn’t know any of you others who were involved and they may use a word or phrase or bring up a topic that is connected to what were wrestling with now.

I hate to bring up quantum physics again, but it does provide some very useful metaphors. Bell’s Theorem tells us that if two subatomic particles were once connected, they will always be connected regardless of where they are. If, for example, there are two connected particles each with positive spin, and at some other point in time they happen to be on opposite ends of the universe, if the spin of one of them changes, the spin of the other automatically changes as well. It’s spooky, of course, because it demonstrates non-local causality, which in Newtonian physics simply may not be.

Well, one of the logical consequences of this is as follows: we know that all atoms are made up of subatomic particles (regardless of how we envision these). We also know that every atom in our body is changed out about every seven years. We know that those atoms don’t go away but must go somewhere so they probably end up being part of the new cells, say, in some other organism or whatever. Going back in time, to the Big Bang ultimately, we know that all those billions of stars and galaxies are giving off atoms and particles that are also being used somewhere, and no doubt some of them end up being part of our own physical selves. Since Bell’s Theorem tells us that once-connected-always-connected, we’re all made up of particles that we once part of something else, but we’re connected anyway. So, everything is literally connected to everything else. But then we have to ask the real question: so what?

Obviously, the physical connection, which is no doubt real, is not as a big a deal as the connection we described above in relation to our conversations, etc. What really makes a difference, in my mind, is the awareness of connection, on the one hand, and the affectivity of that awareness, on the other. Being aware of the physical connection increases its intensity (at least to me) and the same applies to non-physical connections as well. These can be technology-mitigated at some point, but Bell’s once-together-always-together still remains. We see this connectivity even more poignantly in other non-technologically mitigated and non-biologically determined groupings like neighborhoods, communities, nations, cultures, religions, or similar constructs, be they mundane, secular, or spiritual.

Now, any materialist worth their salt will simply tell me I’m just confusing the issue with the facts, but in the end, I would argue, it’s really a matter of what you believe. I believe in connections because there is good physical evidence for it and in my own reality that has a non-physical aspect to it as well, the evidence seems to provide further support for the facts, too. So, for the moment, at any rate, for this all depends upon the discovering of new facts and probabilities that may entail a revisioning of those beliefs. But as Sheldrake points out, we need to be open to that, too.


First of all, as a therapist, Freud stinks!

He wrote up very famous studies ( the Wolf Man, the Rat Man, etc.) about his theories with his clients but we have only one report from one of his clients. She wrote a book of her experience with him, Tribute to Freud, and she is one of the great poets of the last century, HD, Hilda Doolittle. Although she is very fond of the Herr Professor, she thinks his theories are nuts. Since she is a sophisticated artist and comfortable with her own mind she never falls for his transference crap or his cheap theatrics.

Freud as a theorist is totally nutty and no one would admit anymore that they are doing the Freudian thing, It is not cost effective, it has no empirical studies to back it up, it is pseudo science of the worst kind and yet we all live in a Freudian metaphorical landscape.

Freud was a nobody in Europe until he got an endorsement from William James, when they met at Princeton, during Freud’s lecture tour. Freud was very nervous, as James was the most famous intellectual of his day and revered everywhere. James thought Freud’s theory was a necessary development but he thought it would be a short fad that people would get over eventually. William James was quickly eclipsed by Sigmund, I am stunned how few know who James was.

Freud’s nephew of course became a Wall Street consultant and created the Freudian brand. This fraud has become a dominant cultural figure and his monumental capacity for self deception continues to obfuscate even as most sane people admit it is BS. Freud was a fraud. He wrote letters to Ferenzi about his psychic experience but admitted they could never been admitted in public for he would have been laughed at. So he did not become a visionary. He became a Grand Inquisitor and he got lost in the shallow end of the pool as he knew nothing about the depths. His was a very conventional orientation.Jung saw this too and had a break with him. The smartest thing Jung ever did.

As I mentioned on the video there are other metaphors in our culture that we can draw upon and probably will and those metaphorical constructs will come out of our technology just as Freud drew upon the Steam Engine and we are drawing upon the particle and the wave and cyberspace motifs. All of our metaphors reveal and conceal and we should use them with caution.

I did a talk with Marco recently working with self generated ( rather than therapist generated) metaphor. The methodology comes out of my work with David Grove, and I am grateful that I have had a chance on this forum to develop some new models. A model for me is a metaphor. Each of us is our own metaphor. And I believe what we are doing on this forum is playing around with metaphors but in a more conscious and consistent way than our predecessors have done.

Much research has to be done, and we are on the cusp of a giant leap of faith into unknown territory, however, we have our map making skills, and we can hone those skills, in this forum and elsewhere so that we can co-evolve adaptively to each other, to Nature, and to God.


John (~83:26 mark): “Do we need technology to be connected?”
Deep question.
And what is connection (over and above the physical means of communication, of course)…?

This is an excellent recap, TJ, of Peter’s process and you clearly demonstrate a grasp of the material, which I find kind of slippery, hard to get a handle on. I mentioned this musical metaphor too on the video as a good one for what he is working with. The duet, he says, becomes a quintet.

I’m very fond of musical metaphors and it is my expectation that the quintet has beome much more like a grand atonal opera that is giving everyone a headache.

I think we have lost our natural rtyhyms, developed out of face to face encounters, over thousands of years, in just a few decades of FB and social media run amok. Our participation in this forum, with a small band of players, who pay good attention to each other, has a very promising future. It is like graduate school without the debt. Out of these kinds of experiments, we can use the technology mindfully and find a center as the giant storm is coming at us.

I appreciate also that we are playing with fire. We can blow our fuses! But with a little bit of luck we can become Prometheans without being chained to the big rock.

Good men have bad dreams…


Good point. Paraphrasing John at about the 00:56 mark: When/if you do figure out where our dear author draws a line, you may not like where it is. :grinning: I do find the model (if such it is, as you rightly note) to be an intriguing way of looking at things but, as I said, it raises many questions for me, too.

I cannot resist the question: Is he guessing?

I love this.^ As we here know/believe, one of the many deficiencies of the deficient rational is the assumption that magic and myth by definition make no sense, when in actuality they are explanatory schemes of the greatest coherence and relevance to those who use them. Now Sloterdijk has so far mentioned aspects of both magical and mythological “thinking” - in positive terms no less - but as he does not seem prepared to ascribe any continuing relevance to them, he restricts himself to the wisdom of the “Modern Age”. (All this time I suspect I’ve been misreading his criticism of the “Modern Age” as if he was working toward some kind of alternate vision. Silly me.) Speaking of, as you said in the video, ignoring the solutions to the problem you raise…

I was going to use the examples of smoke-signal or pen-and-paper to make the same point. July 21 was McLuhan’s birthday, so I threw on a few YouTube interviews and pulled up some articles I hadn’t read in forever. Brilliant, insightful fellow (the mark of a true prophet is how much the establishment hates you, Mr. Sloterdijk…) but the medium is the message primarily on the society level; as we drill down to the people receiving the message, the content becomes very important indeed. You said it well on the video: we always get in trouble when we let our tools master us (and we always seem to find a way to do just that). We forget that we ultimately have to deal with each other, no matter what we have in our hands. (You’re familiar with the principles of strategy (Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Liddell-Hart, E Luttwak). There is a reason why so many are truly timeless.)

Also: “When the power goes out…” deserves its own discussion thread.


What an image! I like musical metaphors as well and this one sums up our times brilliantly.

We’re on the Philadelphia side of New Jersey and though affected by Hurricane Sandy along with the rest of the state were spared the worst.
I too sense the approach of another kind of “giant storm” which attentiveness should see us (macro-collective) through. That our (macro-collective) attention span has never seemed shorter is a bit of a problem… :worried:


Having tutored strategy in business school for so long, none of those you mentioned were ever mentioned (well, except in the very first introductory lecture where von Clausewitz gets something like an honorable mention; Sun Tzu was apparently too exotic for the stale, pale, male British business-strategy establishment).

I will confess, though, that I’m not a big fan of nor knowledgeable about military strategy. I’m sure it has it’s place and I don’t doubt for a moment that there’s a lot to be learned from it, but being as unmilitaristic as I am (a draft dodger who enlisted to avoid Vietnam), it’s never really been my thing. To me, the ultimate strategy question – that each and every one of us has to answer for him/herself – is – as I phrased it to @madrush in our recent online chat – “what do you want to be when you grow up?” What that shares with Sun Tzu and von Clausewitz at any rate is the long view of the future (unlike Mr. Sloterdijk, who, as @johnnydavis54 puts it, has a “long view of the past”). And, it was that long view of the future that resonated so well with me when I was reading Gebser, too.

There are timeless, if not tiring, business strategists as well. I mention this only to let you know that one of the world’s leading MBA producers avoids military sources like the plague. Too few people can distinguish the principles of military strategy from the methods of strategy implementation. You find this particularly in the marketing department, which is driven solely by military metaphors (tactical, it is true, not strategic), the strategy department likes to think its above that, even if it isn’t. (Marketing is all about winning the battle; strategy, in simplified terms, is about winning the war. I simply wonder in the first place why we’re fighting at all.)

The strategists like to think of themselves more as social scientists, so they are more model driven. This was a point where I stumbled a bit in @johnnydavis54’s equation of model and metaphor, for I have long seen them as very different things – for reasons I’ll get to directly – though I think I see what he means by his statement. They have models for everything: Porter’s Five Forces of Competition, the STEP model describing the near environment, and any number of Boston Consulting Group models which are all 2x2 matrices (which prompted my perhaps irreverent comments in response to @care_save’s video on stress-free productivity). These models are attempts to reduce reality to some kind of manageable chunk. They share Mr. Sloterdijk’s proclivity to identify it-is-this-and-certainly-not-that. They are attempts to describe reality – somehow – as-is, whereas I have always seen – and still do, when I think real hard about it – metaphors as opening up possibilities of thought rather than closing them down. (But I’m still mulling over John’s statement, for I know there’s much more to it than my initial reaction.)

My view of models resonates strongly with the notion that Albert Murray oft advances that what the social scientists, for example, produce, for the most part, is social science fiction. The strategic models that are being taught are pretty well divorced from reality (though they do provide us with useful ways of thinking about reality, ways that we might not have thought about otherwise … but then you have to let them go), rather than enhancing reality (which I think metaphors do; that is, providing us with useful ways of thinking about reality that we may not have thought about otherwise … and then you hold on to them because of their enriching nature).

But, as you so cogently point out, “the medium is the message primarily on the society level; as we drill down to the people receiving the message, the content becomes very important indeed”. Every generalization of every great thinker has to bear itself out in my own personal life or else it wasn’t worth the time finding out about it. Every metaphor used to comprehend, or every model used to describe, reality has to have direct, recognizable connection to my personal reality or it’s just hot air. You are right: at the societal level, the medium is the message, but at the personal level the medium is irrelevant. Digital technology enhances the impersonality of connection, even personal connections (e.g., via Facebook). Other media, such as music, and as Albert Murray would hasten to add – quite correctly, I believe – the blues in particular, enhances the personality of connection. The personal can more easily be universal than the universe can be personal. Mr. Sloterdijk doesn’t seem to grasp this.

And, thank you, I too think that “when the power goes out” deserves a thread of its own.


I stumble quite a bit with what I mean by modeling. The demonstration with Marco is an example of what I mean by the term. Modeling is an activity. The brief group event you participated in, Ed, with Carolyn and Marco is what I call modeling. I use the idea differently than the following text book definitions but there is a family resemblance.


  1. three-dimensional representation of a person or thing or of a proposed structure, typically on a smaller scale than the original:
    synonyms: replica · copy · representation · mock-up · dummy ·
  2. a system or thing used as an example to follow or imitate:
    synonyms: prototype · stereotype · archetype · type · version · mold ·

Theory is making claims about Truth, Reality, etc, all of which I personally avoid as much as possible. Theories may be necessary but they are not adequate. When people use theory without models I run for the hills which is probably why I dropped out of college. My main interest in life is to make things, useful, beautiful things, with other people in mind, and I leave truth and reality for other people to figure out.

The relationship between models and theories is largely metaphorical. The analogical mind is always operating in the in between, never quite arriving, always just departing, it is essentially play acting, working with ‘as if’. The analogical Imagination is what both Einstein and Shakespeare were up to.

It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!

A meta-comment here. There is a juxtaposition between cheek of night and a jewel in an Ethiope’s ear ( a dark skinned person) that is very fast when spoken and probably out of the conscious awareness of any audience member’s listening capacity but I believe a decent actor registers the affects of the imagery and the audience gets the affect. We are affect driven creatures, we read each other’s moods extremely well,

Einstein, who was bad at math, had a strong kinesthetic feeling about riding a beam of light at the speed of light with a mirror in front of him. When I try this image I get quite dizzy. Also the beam of light between the legs has an erotic feel! The entire image produces a profound sense of self-fasciation, a healthy narcissm. More affective than logical!

The poet and the physicist are using the analogical capacities of mind, not reductive logic. They were modelers of the mind in motion. That is I believe one of the key insights Marco and I discuss on the Clean Space experiment. Marco elaborates on the difference between multiple perspectives of the healthy Mental with the Aperspectival. .

And so is Marco in the video session when he says writing at his best is like a lucid dream. The wonder is we can all come up with our own metaphors and we can have different metaphors and we can still understand each other. Quite amazing actually. At that level I believe all of us, even small children, are working with genius.

I think at the level where most of us are forced to reside, in ever more abstract concepts, rather-well- I hate to say it-but it makes us kind of stupid., It is our rigid conceptual categories that make us declare war.


I took away from my reading that strategic principles in general concern the overcoming of opposition, which as a conception is “the easy part”; i.e., mastery of principles is not the same thing as dealing with actual circumstances and coming up with a plan based on inevitable contingencies and deviations. This is what I meant by the ‘timeless’ factor: the human element can be all too predictable (including the penchant for thoroughly preparing for past conflicts, which is why as John said “historians… rarely make good futurists”). Knowing when to let go of the model, when not to apply certain understandings, how not to fall for one’s own ‘social science fiction’ as you put it, has proven difficult time and again.
Notably, non-Westerner Sun Tzu seems to be the only one of the lot to start with the assumption that having to fight at all represents failure.

And, speaking of resonances, John’s latest comment came in while I was typing:


“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”-Rumi

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I was reading through this thread again and picked up on this comment, Ed, and want to highlight some of your understanding of our group effort. As we had previous conversations about motivation and sticking with a difficult text, there was the connection between persons that keeps the effort happening. Eventually, identity issues arise and when we have that happen the strangers we were evaporates and a consortium of intelligences starts to reveal what each individual could not come up with probably by herself. I like to imagine the group becomes a sponsor for the best in each member of the group. This is an art and a high level skill. I imagine that when we are ‘grouping’ at our best we could have lots of different answers.

When I am grouping at my best it is a lot like jamming with a jazz quartet. I have noticed that with this metaphor as background knowledge that the discourse generated by the group becomes very compelling and I like that! There is a music that starts to form and a good player knows how to get out of the way and hold back and also when to let it rip, when to carefully echo what others have already allowed, and then to take a risk, and go too far and exaggerate and then return to a center and to play it safe. It’s as simple as being polite and knowing how to practice good timing, not to step on someone’s else’s punch line!

So the ebbs and flows of these group dynamics are fascinating. I spoke earlier to Marco about my avoidance of groups that re-enact unhealthy family dynamics, authorizing sanctions and scapegoating, etc. We see this in politics especially. Tolstoy said that happy families are all alike but that unhappy families are unhappy in a unique way.

Mine was a very unhappy family and uniquely so and I also have to realize that some of my gifts and my sorrows in life have been shaped by but not pre-determined by those early experiences. If all goes well the family provides a cocoon that holds the life force of the family intact but there are unfortunately many cases of that family experiment that backfires and gets tangled up in what happens beyond the family structure.

I believe our attachment to media and the anxiety it sometimes produces has a lot to do with our family of origin stories but also with the fear of reprisals from those who are trying to get the group to honor an unspoken agenda. With self aware participants this can be avoided, as a disciplined appreciation for the mystery of the Other deepens we allow Others to be different from us without threat. We find ourselves surprised by the Other and the many theories we create to explain this mystery.

When we put aside time to develop our social skills as we are doing now I believe the individuals involved are nurtured and that the field responds in ways that we could never predict. So as our study continues on this first round of reading this book I must say I have learned a lot about how I read stuff that I really didn’t know about before this reading began. These are some random thoughts about our emerging collective intelligence and how we might do more of that, and do it even better!

I heard a famous stage actress, when asked who she plays to in a large audience, say," I always play to the most intelligent person in the audience." That seems to be very wise advice, on or off stage.