Consciously Evolving Language – Session 7 – 1 Dec 2020

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This Week

The layers that keep language resilient, or why it’s not easy to change language consciously; the usefulness of paradox to show how to speak from wholeness.

Please register for this event series to receive instructions on how to participate.


For this session, read Chapter 18. This is an article I published in Cosmos and History.

EmergentLanguageParadox.pdf (272.5 KB)

On Tuesday is Workshop 3, which will get into creating language.


A note to all that I may not make it to the session today.

Today, December 1st, is a kind of personal holiday for me, as it is the anniversary of my dad’s passing last year.

I am calling it V Day in his honor, as well as because this day represents for me the nadir, the singular point, of that V—cyclically with the year’s season as well, it is typically when I feel darkest,

So I am figuratively down, and there is nowhere to go but up. “Only through time time is conquered…”

Yet I am no conqueror, nor was my dad. We are more like refugees who came seeking a new life, in a new world, in cooperation with time.

So what does my particular V day mean? I am taking the day to dwell on the question.

Have a great session. I look forward to catching up with y’all soon…


Thank you, Marco, for letting us know. A year after a death is an important milestone. His soul is truly free now.

And after this period of dissolution (solve) there is inevitably the coalescence of something new (coagula).

Sending you light and love, knowing that your journey is ultimately toward wholeness and integrality, and the darkness is an important part of that.


Writing from the paradox - Excerpt from the Intro to my developing book on the nature of Singularity :

« The knot not nought where the self implodes and shivers in hiding, waiting for the
pieces to identify themselves, which they never fully do. Who said the centre of the
self is full? A better model is the empty void, so much larger than one can ever
imagine. »


Simply A Hang 10 Ride ALL
So Somatically Wholesome from this outside Person Listening-Seeing -Feeling into the
Inner Circle…



Knowledge is just but a rumor until it lives in the muscle;Saying from Papua New Guinea

There is a Thread you follow.It goes among Things that Change.
But it doesn’t Change…
You don’t ever let go of the Thread.
William Stafford

Maybe Transcendence Happens Beneath Our Feet? Dancing the World Into Existence like King David Naked?


Since we were having such an informative and lively discussion last night, I didn’t want to break the flow with a clarification question that wasn’t specifically on-topic, so I decided to defer it to the forum here.

On page 75 of the set text (Consciously Evolving Language), part of our reading for yesterday’s session, Lisa (@Lisa), you wrote:

“I think these are nascent signs that the deficient integral consciousness structure (described by Jean Gebser in The Ever-Present Origin) is emerging more strongly into consciousness. Let us foster its development into efficient integral consciousness.”

Truth be told, I stumbled over that sentence. Nowhere that I can recall, does Gebser speak of a “deficient integral structure of consciousness”. His primary assertion, if you will, is that we are experiencing the full thrust of the deficient mental structure and are positioned somewhat tentatively on the threshold to the integral structure of consciousness.

How should that sentence read?



I resonate with the Dancer Self. Watch how the priestess puts the Cobra into trance and enters into telepathic rapport. I wonder if there is a relationship between this performance of woman/cobra communique and what happens when a social network gets caught in a drama triangle? Can we work with double binds as skillfully as she dances? And is there a relationship between Cobra/Woman and the ineffability of mobius strips and Klein bottles?


First, OMG, that snake dance was riveting. Interesting that she held it away when it struck. I will take that as a metaphor for dealing with people who do that to me. Her reaction to hold it at bay had to be unthinkingly instantaneous.

Second to your question Ed (@achronon), you’re right, Gebser does not discuss a deficient integral. Some might even say that it is a non-sequitur. However, I see two forms of deficiency, a “hypo” (not enough) and a “hyper” (too much) form. The blog by Cynthia Bourgeault, referring to Jeremy’s book, points out the hyper form. I think that the new consciousness structure only seems to burst forth fully formed, but if you look closely, you can see clues of its nascent development (i.e., the hypo form, the not-fully-developed form). One might say that the hyper-rationalism of physics birthed the nascent integral/aperspectival in the form of quantum physics and the type of math that gave us Moebius strips and Klein bottles. Then the field had to (still has to?) reckon with the implications coming from a quantum understanding (e.g., entanglement) that point to the next consciousness structure.

So, what I am saying there, and I should definitely clarify it in the book, because I do deviate a bit from Gebser, is that deficient in this sense refers to the hypo form of deficiency.

To the extent that we can talk about the integral also points to the hypo form that is still being birthed. (Aristotle helped to usher in the mental form, but you can see in his theory of gravity, that it wasn’t completely developed. His theory of gravity was that like is drawn to like, so objects fall to the earth because they are attracted to their element (earth). Whereas things rise because they are attracted to their “like” element, air. Nice metaphor, but it doesn’t work that way.

Thanks for the question. I will add some of this discussion to the book. :slight_smile:


From Peter Kingsley’s book, Ancient Philosophy Mystery, And Magic: Empedocles and Pythagorean Tradition.
It seemed relevant to the discussion and reinforces Lisa’s point that with Aristotle the “mental structure of Gebser” gains more clarity and direction.

“Certainly mythology continued to play an important role for Plato and the early academy, yet it was a role that had become subordinated to other aims and interests. Mythical complexity and paradox had little chance of surviving in a climate where ambiguity was a quality that needed to be purged from ethics, and where interest in the intricacies of the cosmos had been made subservient to the attainment of a transcendental Good…

One of the greatest lessons of western intellectual culture had already been learned: argument is more important than appreciation, reinterpretation an easy substitute for understanding. For any real understanding of the Philolaic* system, a grasp of its mythical dimension was absolutely vital; But, in the philosophical mainstream, mythology had either ceased to be an issue at all or had degenerated into the superficial pastime of endlessly elaborating artificial new schemes and systems of correspondences (Kingsley 1996: 198-199).

*Philolaus was a Pythagorean from whom Plato drew heavily.

BTW: " …with Plato and Aristotle…the most enduring Athenian contribution (Greeks) to intellectual history: instead of the love of wisdom, philosophy turned into the love of talking and arguing about the love of wisdom (158)."

The last quote seems an apt description of trajectory of philosophy down to modern times?


Here is quick sketch of the Drama Triangle that I mentioned in the class. This pattern is worth studying as it rears up in almost every discourse event we have had. The roots of the Drama Triangle ( I would guess ) come out of the family drama of mom, dad, and child and gets formalized in the Greek Tragedies, as chorus, and the three leading actors, who act out before an audience complex divisions and polarities within society.

These are also the roots of the Semiotic Self which emerges through writing, reading, math and logic. These dynamics are of great interest as Charles Sander Pierce, who proposed a theory of signs, works directly with the Triad. This is a long, rich tradition in philosophy and in art.

If you participated on the call you might want to review this short video and then reflect upon what happened when Kate blamed Geoffrey and I tried to rescue.

I sense blame coming from Kate, I sense a wavering between victim and blamer coming from Geoffrey, and I felt an uncomfortable need to Rescue as the stability of the group seems too fragile to handle this perturbation. Lisa, came from outside of the triangle, and made a meta-comment. Others may view this very differently. Those who are silent are often caught in flight/freeze reactions to the drama. The children in Greek drama are always silent.

There is a fine, very thin boundary between Drama and Comedy. We can do both at the same time!

This triadic meta-pattern, performed in Greek Drama, grounds most of our dialectical thinking which goes back and forth from thesis and antithesis without ever quite reaching a synthesis. There is most often no resolution ( aporia ).

Theory comes from theoria. The Theoria were a class of persons who traveled from city to city and reported upon the different kinds of theatre productions that were taking place. The Theoria were detached observers who made a report of what they witnessed and started to think critically about performance, rhetoric, and public discourse.

As our politics gets more and more like a theatrical spectacle, can we turn the polarities into contrasts? Or will we get stuck on the triangle until we destroy our planet? Could there be a post-dialectical thinking in the Integral Age? What would happen if we did the Drama Triangle on purpose rather than unconsciously?

I said to Kate, when she blamed me for not respecting her and Geoffrey’s conflict, that I had a gut feeling. These dynamics happen below our conscious awareness but I am hopeful we can study these strange vibrations which we can bring to the surface and then make a different kind of living arrangement. I asked Kate if we could turn our polarity response into contrasts. Is there a difference that can make a difference?

I also want to be the first to acknowledge that those who have not been heard may not care, can pick up their marbles, and go home. The opposite of love is not hate it is indifference.


John thank U for bringing this forward,as I did watch,listened & felt the Vibrations move in interesting & strange ways as U

So I am going give my Empathic Engagement (does not mean just in terms feelings & emotions) hopefully it will be an an appreciative response with discernment?

Can there be a way engaging/inhabiting a triangle in multiple ways,I.e. the Power of Three ,which in my working Hypothesis there’s Giving Attention to the Energy manifesting between & within( which can be described as Drama) .Is there another Description such as a gameplay?

Using your come from as a Empathic Engagement as Participating from reviewing the Cafe’ after the Real Time Happening, using different Words & Metaphors from my Sensorium.

What I was sensing was a play energetic perspectives being expressed as …Geoffrey giving a possibility of how science ( Neuro)might broaden the discussion (I did not feel him to be a victim, more as a respectful - appreciative participant). Then Kate responded to with a reactive retort which I felt to be contracted & Respectful & yet a well round reply that could include Her Passion for Myth & Image.(Kate did not feel to be a Perpetrator… more like I can get very animated ).
Then You responded with what I will describe as the Referee
(which is a wound from childhood in me) & gave your honest, precise response as a third person interacting in the discussion giving your Heartfelt concerns.( Your response resonated with the most,I want to point out a referee is not rescuer even if they have crossovers).

So what does all this has to do "with what I want to Have Happen?
Possibly with Giving Attention to our Intention as a Group to
be able to play with the Triangle-Triad as the Power of Three & know there is more then one way to Inhabit Triangle.Which May Be Living the Paradox?
And John this is my slant to your helpful expression!

There is a fine, very thin boundary between Drama and Comedy. We can do both at the same time!

Let’s learn to Play on,with & Engage that Edge,our lives & the Planet is asking us to!

1 Like

Just a couple of offerings about the video discussion.

The oral recitation of the story changes how one engages with it, but it takes much more time…and we often don’t take the time…and if it is in translation how does that change the understanding? That is why a good translation is so important in reading or reading out loud in a different language (Iliad, Divine Comedy, Shakespeare, etc.). Reading out loud requires a slowness that allows embodiment. For me that is why art, music, theater are instrumental and foundational to human experience.

About the hand discussion: “… we are on the threshold of returning to an art “made without hands,” a phenomenon known since antiquity as acheiropoieton.”

Acheiropoieta by Marco Grassi | The New Criterion

Perhaps tangential to the end of the discussion about artists and scientists and the polarity in which they are currently defined.

"These types of judgment—'mere magician’, ‘primitive crudity’—call for a few general comments. First, it is important to appreciate that those characteristics we associate most readily with modern science—observation, the collection of data, and the organization of knowledge—are not the prerogative of the scientist but…are part of his [sic] inheritance from the magician (Kingsley 1996:294).”

There are several ways in which to interpret and express understanding of experience (art, science, rational, mental, neuroscience etc.). Rather than “either/or” there is also “both/and much, much more.”

On the discussion of the integral, a question: is it emerging, or is it in us already and we are seldom aware of what the experience of the integral is or, once recognized, how to maintain it; or is the integral a temporary, ephemeral state like happiness? And is it different for each person?

Just musing out loud.


I think there are ways to re-embody the Triangle, as you and I, and Seth have been doing in our Cultural Somatics practices. That is practice space, experiential, that compliments what is happening here at this course. I believe that I could ask a few questions that might create a recursive response that moves us towards a second order ( meta-perspective) upon the group dynamic when the Drama Triangle is encountered.

And what does the Blamer want to have happen?

And what does the Victim want to have happen?

And what does the Hero want to have happen?

And find a space that knows about all of these. And what do you know from there about all of these roles in the Drama Triangle?
It seems to me that each of us could ground ourselves better when we get triggered in real time, allowing for curiosity rather than contempt.

I am sure we could learn something from such a practice. If enough persons could recognize the pattern , without reactivating trauma, we could move towards a social engagement system that doesn’t get trapped into high arousal states, that fragment and divide.

Most of us, who are participating in this course, have expressed concerns about the battle of narratives that is going on during this Covid crisis. As I just started taking a product sponsored by Zach Bush, and many of us are trying to sort through the facts and factoids generated by the media, I sense this interview may help us find a greater sensory acuity as we sort through the battle of narratives that is happening all around us. Dr. Zach, for example, articulates how he works through these binds, as he points to paradox, dilemma and impasses we are encountering. He has a mission and a vision. And my gut is my guide.


I would say say yes to most of this, more or less. Most of the people in the Elizabethan Age were chopping wood and carrying water, and only in a few places were there any gatherings where individuals were recognized as we recognize individuals today. People were burned at the stake for casting spells, and the Catholics and the Protestants all had different ideologies that they were willing to kill and to die for. Out of conflicts and civil strife emerged Shakespeare and after the brutal Civil War, John Milton, great poets. Were they integral? Who cares? The language they invented and performed can hardly be surpassed.

So, I don’t see each age stacked on top of the previous ones, as rungs on a ladder. Perhaps the capacities of many persons, in public and private, unfolded in what we would call a fractal fashion, a non-Euclidean geometry. We use a different kind of imagination, but certainly not a better imagination. I think we can do metaphor and myth intentionally in ways that may not be obvious to us as we are so easily high jacked by evading uncomfortable intensity or getting swept up into it.

Whether you embody a magician, a lover, a scientist, or an artist we can handle intensities if we can hold it like a baby, in our arms screaming at us. Most often we tense and get scared before such intensity. And babies who were not held when they were intense can act really weird when they grow up.

So, I am not blaming the blamer. He or she may have something of great value to communicate but she may not be in a state that can socially engage at a cognitive level. That is why story and metaphor are so important, as good story tellers can by-pass the dominant ones who want to demand compliance, who claim universality, and that they can know what your essence is. This is a dangerous ploy that fascists’ have always used. That doesn’t mean that there are no universals but we must be cautious about claiming we can know what is universal. Ethnopsychology shows us a wide diversity among humans and much of what dominant globalization initiatives claim is not universal. One size does not fit all. The essence that others claim they can identify and manipulate should be examined very carefully.

Can we turn this battle field metaphor into a dance? Maybe but we will need to transition, slowly, so that we can catch the others tempo-rhythms. And we can dance as if we were in a battle. That can be very thrilling. We can become dance-warriors!

Just a few musings upon the somatic/cultural landscapes we are giving our attentions to. Thanks!_-


What a Awesome Articulation of Embodied Cognition that Shares the Inner of the Human Inside the Ecological & Cosmological !

“Adumu” Dance from the Massai Tribe in Africa…

Your own Articulation Gives Direction to what I (personally & in practice ) want to have happen with Intensity within & extended outward to Dance across the Porous Boundary of inside- outside & the insider- outside boundary within myself the stuff that hurts to much!


Your hypo/hyper idea is interesting, but it does raise a couple of questions in regard to Gebser himself so it might be worthwhile to keep these in mind. Gebser goes to great lengths to preclude thinking of his approach as a stage or developmental model. The fact that he chose the word “mutation” to describe the various shifts in consciousness which he describes. What is more, he stresses that these shifts should be understood as discontinuous leaps. This does not mean, of course, that once a mutation occurs that absolutely everyone is operating from that structure of consciousness. There will always be residual instances of previous structures, in particular that from which the mutation occurred.

Another point worth noting is the role that the notion “deficient” plays in Gebser’s approach. It comes very close to being a terminus technicus, especially in conjunction with its counterpart “efficient”. In this regard, Gebser also takes pains to point out that mutations are from a deficient mode of one structure to the efficient mode of the following. What your idea appears to do is place “deficiency” on both sides of the mutational discontinuity between structures. I’m not sure that Gebser would agree. It strikes me as approaching a kind of analogisation of what Gebser saw as a quantum-like change. This may be a subtle, but I believe it is nevertheless an important point.

The larger issue being addressed, I suppose is the question of how we “know” when a mutation has occurred. This is tricky and Gebser appears to be intentionally vague on this point. I think a key lies in his use of the word “manifestation”. As I read him this is a matter of now-you-see-it-or-not-at-all. Petrarch’s portrayal of what he saw from Mt. Ventoux was perspectival for Gebser, not preperspectival, not almost perspectival, but perspectival, kind of analogous to not being just a little pregnant. It was, given what we have been able to reconstruct, an isolated case but apparently it was enough to open the door for others to follow. In no time, the great Leonardo is writing a treatise on the subject, everybody gets it and it becomes taken so for granted that it is the unquestioned dominant mode of consciousness.

To my mind, the same reasoning applies to EPO2: the entire book is devoted to showing instances of the Integral structure of consciousness. It’s not just one or two, its hundreds. Jeremy Johnson has done well showing how it is becoming ever more, but we all seem to agree that it is not yet the dominant, take-it-for-granted way of dealing with reality. Nevertheless it is there, some “see” it, recognize and acknowledge it, but it’s not just partly there: wherever it manifests, it manifests completely. This does not mean that over time, so to speak, we will not develop a deeper and richer, more intense understanding of the phenomenon, but it is there nevertheless, and that seems to be what mattered to Gebser: each instance is in itself an efficient instance.

The same applies to Aristotle and the Mental structure of consciousness. I’m no expert, but I would be willing to hazard a guess that the word “theory” doesn’t appear anywhere in his Physics. If the verb from which the word is derived it is probably a very banal “watching” or “looking at”. John has pointed out who the Theoria were, and this, too, has little if any relationship to the word used to describe what Aristotle has to say about “gravity”. In fact, I’m willing to go out on a limb and claim that he probably doesn’t use that word anywhere in his Physics either, unless he’s talking about “heaviness” in some, maybe even metaphorical, way. He talked a lot about motion and did his very best to explain the phenomenon; falling was most likely just a particular kind of motion, but it was the motion that was important to him, not what we these days call “gravity”.

To speak, then, of Aristotle’s “theory of gravity” is really only a modern projection back on Aristotle. (It was first around the 16th century that the word “theory” in English came to take on its nationality of “speculative observation and explanation”.) What is important is not whether Aristotle got his explanation of motion right, it was all about how he went about arriving at that explanation. It was through reason, the application of known and accepted principles (even if he picked an inappropriate one: might not apply to rocks and the earth, but it is certainly valid for human affairs, as in “birds of a feather …”), and deduction that he arrived at his explanation. (And it is this point in particular that Rick’s quotes from Kingsley make clear as well.) This was the way the culture had come to develop its explanations, not through reliance of the myths and the gods. It seems to me, then, that Aristotle is a fine example of what the Mental structure of consciousness is about: he was one of a growing number of individuals who brought about that state in which we find ourselves today, namely that it is the taken-for-granted-and-unquestioned basis for most of how we engage reality.

Of course, now we realize how much it’s getting in our way and are poised for a new approach. It is already there and we can find examples of it, even if we, individually (and certainly collectively) haven’t quite got it down on how to engage it that is there from whence we “speak” rather than what we are speaking about.

A couple of random thoughts while on the road, so please excuse their rather fragmentary nature.


I realize this is addressed to Lisa’s comments about Gebser AND as you are referring also to others in the group, I can certainly excuse the fragmentary nature of your thoughts, while on the road, as I am trying to make sense of your writing within a group practice, that refers to many sources, including McLuhan and Gebser, who may not have known each other. There is a history unfolding through our writing and our speech acts. It is this interplay that I find most amusing and sometimes so difficult to catch a rhythm from.

And who are we writing to? And where are we speaking from? And what’s it all about, Alfie?

There are solos, duets, trios and choral passages, fugue states emerge, as multiple voices are often together heard, ordered and chaotic, at the same time.

Now, I know little about Aristotle’s physics but I do know something about his poetics…and his fascination with metaphor, which he misconstrued as a special kind of speech that is reserved for genius poets.

" Mama," the little boy said, when he noticed that his foot fell asleep," my foot is bubbling soda pop!"

Now, that is a metaphor, and a novel one, too, and it came from the mouth of a child. I just want to point this out as Aristotle tends to restrict metaphor to poetry, rather than as the normal way most people organize their thoughts, even at a very early age. Lakoff and Johnson, and other cognitive linguists, point to this common feature of daily communication, as pervasive in all fields.

So, how can we read Aristotle ( or Gebser’s reading of Aristotle) without projecting onto him limitations which were only revealed through studying him in translation over many centuries?

Aristotle’s work was written down by his students by the way, so they were putting on paper what he was saying in a public forum. He was speaking to certain groups of highly trained practitioners who shared a tacit knowledge. He used the language that they probably would understand. HIs version of physics looks very naïve to a nuclear physicist living today. But, my gut feeling is, that Aristotle’s formulations about different kinds of causes is still resonant in our turbulent times. We continue to be troubled by final causes in our culture. Our science is very hostile to that idea.

I think you are pointing to the problem of the subject. Correct me if I got it wrong.

Foucault, in The Order of Things, wrote," Discourse in general, and scientific discourse in particular, is so complex that we should approach it at different levels and with different methods." (1970) He was writing at the beginning of a new age, dubbed the Post Modern, but did he know that? Or are we just projecting that onto him? I can remember the 80s and we weren’t calling ourselves Post Modern, that came later in the 90s. There is a lag between the academe and the street ( I hung out on the street)

Foucault goes on to invite the reader to read his work as if it is an archeological site that is open. That is a metaphor that is widely used and has some merit as we are still learning about the Neolithic, reconstructing through artifacts and new methods of dating materials, a mind as complex as the so called Modern. The aboriginal peoples of Australia lived in harmony with a very harsh climate for 40,000 years. We Moderns should be so lucky. And could there be an Alter-Modernity emerging? I think there is evidence for this.

So, let us continue to cultivate these comparativist capacities in our Internet Age, as best we can. And we can write, read, and give oral reports on YouTube, and quote from lots of sources, in ways that Aristotle could never have remotely considered. Gebser registered in his comparative study, even before the internet, what could happen. I read EPO as a very coherent book about what could easily become an incoherent blob that we would want to run from. Gebser intuited this but did not live to see it. I work with his vocabulary and social taxonomizing ‘as if’. Are we there, yet? How would we know? What would be the first sign? And after the collapse of this civilization, which is moving at a dizzying pace, how could future groups of persons make sense of us?


@patanswer I have seen your icon, again, TJ! That makes me feel very glad. I do hope you will pick up on the flow of conversation and share some feedback. Since you last posted or appeared on a zoom call, much has happened in our world, is that not so? I am curious about any reflections you might want to offer us. We rehearsed quite a bit, in many study groups, before the Covid outbreak, and as you may have noticed, we are still at it, and none of us appear to be going gentle into that good night. Good to know that you are tuning in.