Consciously Evolving Language - Session 8 - 15 Dec 2020

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This Week

What does it take to “create” new language? the role of technology; the role of spirituality; what comes after “peak ego”? Where do I/you/we go from here?

It’s hard to believe we’re having our last discussion session (still one more workshop). Please read the last two chapters of Consciously Evolving Language. And here are some bonus readings: An excerpt from Finite and Infinite Games, by James Carse and a poem recently written by Steve Rosen. It’s sort of a modern-day version of The Thunder, Perfect Mind



Thanks, Lisa! I look forward to reconnecting after missing the previous session, which I partially watched (completely listened to) and thought was one of the best sessions so far.

I am also eager to catch up with the lengthy follow-up thread… (Consciously Evolving Language – Session 7 – 1 Dec 2020) where I might post my response, if there is anything to add.

Hard to believe we are almost through the course—and almost through the year. I am feeling the coagula beginning to congeal… :octopus:


Here is the link to Nomic - there is actually a wikipedia page on this…


Here are the things I promised to post.

  1. The slide of the various topics we have circumabulated around.
  2. The questions I posed at the very end are:
    a) If this course has changed your worldview in any way, what has changed?
    b) If you had to write a term paper for this course, what might your topic be?
    c) How can language help “to keep the game going?”
  3. Here is the article about herd immunity against fake news:

I really enjoyed our conversation about democracy today. I hadn’t planned on discussing that, but I’m glad we did. I’m in the midst of reading Glenn Parry’s new book, Original Politics, about where we got a lot of our democracy from, namely the five nations of the northeast (what we call the Iroquois Confederacy). Glenn has been coming to a number of our recent Gebser conferences. He studied at CIIS.

Oh, and here’s the link to the SNL sketch I mentioned about making a finite game artificially consistent…


Oops. Forgot to upload the slide. Here it is. topics.pdf (512.7 KB)


A great moment in a great discussion brings me here. To my thinking, it is not so much whether capitalism and democracy (which in their ideal forms institutionalize freedom) are compatible but whether either are compatible with “power” dynamics (which usually guarantee they don’t stay in their ideal forms).

And then annoying, deceptively simple questions occurred to me about a very complicated word .
Just what is “power”?

(Random House, 1982, because it’s the one on my desk):

  1. ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something
  2. political or national strength
  3. great or marked ability to do or act; strength; might; force
  4. the possession of control or command over others; authority; ascendancy
  5. political ascendancy or control in the government of a country, state, etc.
  6. legal ability, capacity, or authority
  7. delegated authority; authority granted to a person or persons in a particular office or capacity
  8. a document or written statement conferring legal authority
  9. a person or thing that possesses or exercises authority or influence
  10. a state or nation having international authority or influence
  11. a military force
  12. a deity, divinity
  13. an order of angels
  14. a large number or amount
  15. work done or energy transferred per unit of time; the time rate of doing work
  16. mechanical energy as distinguished from hand labor
  17. a particular form of mechanical or physical energy
  18. energy, force, or momentum
  19. the product obtained by multiplying a quantity by itself one or more times
  20. the magnifying capacity of a microscope, telescope, etc., expressed as the ratio of the diameter of the image to the diameter of the object; the reciprocal of the focal length of a lens
  21. to supply with energy or other means of power
  22. to supply force to operate (a machine)
    -Syn. capacity, energy, sway, rule, sovereignty / -Ant. incapacity, weakness

A dictionary being but a snapshot in time of a living language, I ask:

Which definition(s), if any, resonate most with you? Why?

Which definition(s), if any, evoke the greatest sense of unease within? Why?

If you were arranging the various definitions, in what order would you place them? Which would you like people to most readily associate with the word?

I hope the above is not too much of a digression from the conversation, but perhaps this is one of those words which implies an infinite game in the very breadth of its meanings, but seems to be used in very finite (win/loss) ways almost instinctually. But maybe this is just a reflection of those who have - or want to have but feel they don’t have - power? I don’t know, but I like throwing spaghetti. Throw some with me if you want.

(The SNL skit was hilarious.
The article on education in Finland was heartening. I’m going to try to eliminate “fake news”, “alternate facts”, and “double-speak” from my vocabulary when I really mean “mistakes”, “lies”, “hoaxes”, or “gossip”.) :grinning:

Wishing all peace and a good night.


Since it’s the Time of the year for Christmas Lights( I use to have to untangle said Xmas lights of spaghetti). It’s also a time I remember of Freedom,Power,Hope,Healing & Dare I Use the Word Love ; in at least a Western Come From.

One in the morning here in California the State most West in the Lower part of United States of America (Sounds so Hopeful)that it’s closer to East Asia then other states. I am not sure what Power I have to share to Bring About the Childhood Feeling-Spirit of this “Timing of Year” at this Time in my walking in Time for 66 years?

For I have Struggled & Played with the:

And I Want to have Happen:

Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit 1st Edition

by Parker J. Palmer (Author)

We are within days of the shortest day of the year & 2020 is ending.
I understand that we live in a Time it’s Important to have Clarity of Thought-Mind.
I grew up not understanding the Big Picture of Mind,
I still have the Big,Clear Feeling of a Young HEART!!!

Blessings of Old & New Dreams Being Born Within Each & EveryOne,
Thank U for Sharing this Walk In Time & Space!


Okay…and my thinking…and when my thinking…where is my thinking? Does thinking have a size or shape when my thinking? And is there a difference between my thinking and our thinking?

From the article on Finnish education. “You must always factcheck. The number one rule: no Wikipedia, and always three or four different and reliable sources,” said Mathilda, 18. “We learn that basically in every subject.”

This is a procedure, and a good one, for critical thinking skills. And yet what is a fact? How do you know a fact? And where does a fact come from? And who checks the facts of the factchecker?

It seems to me that there is already a presupposed theory operating. And a commitment to a certain kind of logic? A logic that presuppose an objectivity that may not be real but is more like a fiction than a fact. As you are claiming that capitalism and democracy are compatible, and that power dynamics corrupt them in their ideal forms, I would strongly disagree. I would agree that power certainly can change what can be expressed but I still hold that capitalism and democracy are wildly incompatible in our current planetary crisis. Let me elaborate upon this theme…

And some example of mixed up logics from history. In 1882 married women were granted the right to own property for the first time. Previous to then a woman couldn’t own her own work, nor could a father pass on property to an unmarried daughter Her inheritance was given to her husband to administer.

When the law was changed and women were property owners some women showed up to vote. They were not allowed to vote. Only property owners are allowed to vote. But, the women declared, I am a property owner. Everyone was stuck in an impasse. This was not just a clash about power but a clash about logics. I think we need to consider this clash also when you claim that democracy and capitalism are compatible.

Graham Priest would say that was was needed to solve this contradiction is a para-consistent logic, that includes the excluded middle. Aristotle’s logic claimed this was not possible. The law of identity must be preserved.

Godel’s Incompleteness theorem, of course, changed all of that. A formal system, he proved, that is consistent and complete can’t exist. He brought into logic the tendency towards self reflexivity. Who or what decides what a fact is? This calls into question the whole idea of objectivity as a standard for truth. So, what determines a fact from a factoid?

Cady Stanton was told by the Dean of the Harvard Law School that women would not be allowed to study law at that institution because of the blood flow to her uterus would interfere with her cognitive ability. That was, according to the Dean, a well established scientific fact. Cady, who was the mother of five and spoke five languages, and was a legal scholar, trained by her father, felt that the Dean could not be right. It took her ten years of her life to research and mobilize the thinking and feeling of her fellow citizens, ( both male and female) to change the policy. She eventually won that but she did not live to see women’s right to vote happen, though she created the conditions for that to happen. Cady had a vision.

Frederick Douglass was not allowed to learn how to read or write. It was illegal in the state of Maryland where he lived to teach a slave to read. The penalties for doing so were stiff. Jail time and fines were given to anyone who would help a slave escape or to read. So, how did young Frederick learn this complex skill? As he lived in a wealthy house, and had access to the kitchen, he could grab a loaf of bread, that would not be missed. He took the bread and gave it to little white urchins, poor kids, who played on the street, who were happy for the bread. Frederick got the lads ( who could read) to teach him the strange signs of the English alphabet. He spoke years later to wide audiences in the USA and in England on the evils of the slave trade, which was a highly profitable, world wide institution, that had its base in the US South, where cotton was grown and reached England, so that garment were manufactured, enriching the owners of the slaves and the factories. Douglass was considered one of the greatest orators of his time, and through his language he persuaded many people to break with this ancient institution .He spoke of those poor white boys with great affection. Frederick played an infinite game.

Was Capitalism a driver of the Slave trade? Who profited from it? Who was destroyed because of it? And how did the US government respond to this dilemma?

And what are the boundaries between the US government, Capitalism, Science, Free Trade and free speech?

I’m most interested with the following definitions.

.12 and .13 are the most interesting in this list.

But none of them satisfy me. As you say, TJ, these definitions are just snap shots. And my response to your reasonable statement is to say," it don’t mean a thing if it aint got that swing."

And power…where is power? In my gut

And does that power in your gut have a size of a shape?

Yeah…it sort of feels like a winding shape, twisted, able to stretch, expand…strike out of my solar plexus…it can get very hot…

and that’s like what?

It’s sort of like a snake…with fangs,that can strike…

And what does that snake want to have happen?

To be left alone…stay away…I want to rest in the garden.

And what happens to that power when snake wants to rest in the garden?..

Well…the power in the snake in the gut who wants to rest in the garden … has also a snake in the head…and that snake in the head area ,a coiling , vibrating, sensation, that moves up and down the spine but can move in the cranium is much like a mobius strip…

And is there a relationship between that mobius strip in the head and the snake in the gut?


Power, for me, comes from people who know the difference between a metaphor and a simile. Power, for me, comes from people who can tell if someone is speaking the truth by listening to the tone of the speaker’s voice, feeling what is behind the speaker’s words.

Like I said…it don’t mean a thing if it aint got that swing…and if it does that that swing…what happens next?

As you may notice, TJ, I can work with definitions and with an embodied sense and I believe that you can, too.

So, can we who can do both talk to people who can only do one or the other? To skip over such differences can create a skewed view of capitalism, socialism and democracy.

The most taboo topic in US politics is socialism.

I believe in a version some of us are calling cosmopolitan socialism…or better yet, a libertarian socialism. The nuances this new political categorization create could change the left/ right divide. And this would evolve us out of the need to throw pasta at each other. Power in the future will belong to those who can diffentiate between the digital and the analogue, the virtual and the subtle. We are, I believe, making that happen.

As always, it is a pleasure to do business with you, sir…


I was trying to articulate this in our call. I can speak from my center about my concept of the whole. The whole is a semantic object, very different from but certainly related to the center.

Relationship is primary. Things and processes arise out of relationship. This comes out the meta-theory of Charles Sander Pierce who thought in terms of a triadic logic, which we started to play with already.

And is there a relationship, Michael, between what we have been learning in this course, Consciously Evolving Language, and our work together in Cultural Somatics?

“There is so much to process-besides sifting through my own reactions to / thoughts on " strange fruit”-

And your reference to the Billie Holiday song is a sign that we share a complex, evolving cultural landscape, that vibrates each of our sensorium’s in unique ways.

As a culture that is as diverse and multidimensional as our own, can we find public forums that can deal effectively with the integration of these kinds of processes? I would invite us to consider what kind of forum could we make happen whereby we could do that. Your feedback , TJ, upon the episode that you mentioned would be very helpful in jump starting that imaginal Second Axial Age.

If I were to write a term paper it would be about how CL can be used to enhance group learning by exploring self-generated metaphors. If your metaphor is in the mix this will deepen participation in the coherence of the group. If your metaphor is not included, chances are the group will lose interest for you. I imagine groups of the future will have integrated this knowledge. As things stand now most group life involves a fight over a metaphor and this leads to disruption in knowledge sharing. Metaphor is the key that can help us to to co-evolve our conceptual worlds. Something like that. I am really open to believe that this can happen. And then we can re-embody we, the people,

We are moving out of a Euclidean world view of the founding fathers into planetary world view which is fractalholographic. We have already, in this forum, been processing quite a bit. Can we do what we have already been doing and do this on purpose?


Speaking For-From my Relational Experience with Both in the Sense of Language-Body;Both/And,Either-Or and all those Other Polarities seem to
Be a Core Way of Humans Expressing Creativity. There does seem to be a Participatory Injunction,which is Growth Centered.

A Book that came to me after our Cafe’ that was Important to may Journey to the phrase now used Cultural Somatics is ;


The same Mark Johnson who wrote with George Lakoff, “Metaphors to Live By”.

What I am wishing to do is create conditions for, is the allowing & opening slowly,pausing toTouch Sensation/s Moving in & as Body, as Resmaa 's teaching is
expressing as a come from Bottom-Up Moving into the Liminal-Between “left behind(Literally) & made less than”. I feel this is a Small

Exercise that brings a Healing( Wholeness that has never left us,even with the pain-suffering endured Living Our Particular Life). And in so Participating we Move Into -

So YES there is a Relationship John , and Yet there is the Willingness to Participate with the Relational Dynamic always in Play in New,Exciting & Intense Ways even as we are Always In Relationship it seems.
I am Still in Relationship with old relationships, only very different wave-forms. The " strange fruit” is still in the Garden of the Infinite…


We agree completely about everything else, so…

None of us are strangers to the real problems lying behind such notions as ‘fact’ and ‘objectivity.’ And I did say “ideal forms” deliberately as a wannabe philosopher in recognition of those problems. Your phrase “…in our current planetary crisis” is key here (and why this is a disagreement but not-quite). There is no denying the historical progressions in this country of democracy (fitfully but generally increasing the voices at the table) and capitalism (widening the “have-lot” and “have-not” gap to rather obscene proportions) are on opposite tracks. I probably should have mentioned that, but I was intrigued in the moment (again echoing Lord Acton, my father, and in light of my recent research track) at how power seems to be at the root of all corruption of noble intents. But then on closer inspection of some definitions of “power” perhaps the real root enemy is closer to ‘greed’ (as in the seductive “gimme, gimme” that has many Americans allergic to the very word socialism - which in its ideal form institutionalizes a community of caring not at all out of sync with ‘human nature’ as Wall St et al desperately wish us to believe). Some European countries today seem to be doing quite well with happier if certainly not perfect balances among ideas of ‘socialism’, ‘capitalism’, and ‘democracy’.

The “mixed up logics from history” are very real indeed. The anti-trust legislation of the first Roosevelt and the New Deal of the second: attempts to keep the playing field as level as possible in the spirit of both John Locke and Adam Smith - examples like this are what I have in mind when I think (or whatever word would be appropriate for the dangerous thing that goes on where memory, observation, reading, and discussion meet in my head and heart) about compatibility. Government, science, trade, speech, and freedom do not have to be locked into silos of mutual incomprehension. But, yes, the Enlightenment (which had its own flaws of course) is long gone now, the fact that both Roosevelts were vehemently opposed speaks volumes… and we must take account of the tortuous paths to our present.

The trick, as always, is in the communication. Left and Right still mean so much to so many in terms of identity and, dare I say it, life-purpose, that just opening up the discussion there can be a feat. You say it all the time and it remains true: we need all our knowledge.
(I do reserve the right to throw pasta, though - it is only ever directed at the wall. If it ain’t got that stick-to-the-wall swing I know to continue to stir the pot. (LOL))

:grinning: Likewise. One only “fights” when one cares. In turn, thank you for your patience. Not many Visionaries fully understand and appreciate - and embody - the ‘how do we get to the beautiful and necessary there from the ugly here’ dilemmas of the Realists as you do.

I, too, was struck by 13 - as in the “better angels of our nature.” I, too, would like to see concepts of ‘energy’, ‘ability’, and ‘influence’ move up the list while ‘national strength’ and ‘command over others’ sink lower or receive heavier contextualization. The biggest event of 1982, if I remember correctly, was a bit of chest-thumping over two bleak rocks in the South Atlantic… Words have consequences, as Michael Meade makes clear.

I’m glad I left open the possibility in my questions that none of the definitions given might be adequate.

Power as a mobius strip in the head (ever-turning, reflexive with an inward and an outward orientation) and a snake in the gut (coiled, not necessarily dangerous but clearly not defenseless). I like it, especially as flexibility is a unifying concept in both. A certain cobra dance comes to mind…


Someone said that numbered lists are an attempt to create order where there is none. That amused me as I noticed the numbered lists I have made, found in the bottom of a laundry bag or the back of a closet. I don’t usually get any of those things accomplished on the list but when I do I check it off with a real sense of pleasure. Numbered lists are very soothing and I will continue to make them.

Inviting us to shift the number of a definition up or down is interesting exercise as I sense there is an attempt to make abstract qualities quantifiable in some way. There is in the exercise a sense of values re-arranged in a hidden hierarchy that can be modified. I think the angel of our better natures are way up there on my list right below the Divine. I suppose I have the Great Chain of Being hard wired in my psyche.

This making of lists and the embodying of metaphors ( as you did when you responded to Kate’s piano crashing) the combination of these kinds of moves create conditions for a balanced left/right brain practice by gently opening up adjacent possibilities. Definitions are the devil’s work. I like the metaphorical stuff but my right brain needs to be coaxed, I do find the analytics interesting. Math, logic and philosophy absorb most of my attention in my mature years as poetry and fiction did when I was young.

I agree and that is why I tell so many stories, as they allow for multilayered communications. A person who might disagree with your arguments can be open to your story. The trick is not to assume that we can solve everything by story telling as important as that ability is if we want to create rapport and atmosphere. I am easily triggered by someone’s argument but if I pause and say…that reminds me of a story…and I just let whatever comes out I find most people are very tolerant of new ideas, if they feel that you are safe. And you can’t create a sense of safety if you are not safe. I am a great believer that the social engagement system, which is evolving slowly in our species, picks up on the non verbals first, tone of voice, eye contact, etc. If a story creates curiosity, rather than contempt that comes from an adversarial argument, that is very important to encourage. I heard a great ethicist, Sisley Bok, say that the only things humans can understand is a story. Story telling puts us in a good mood. I think Bellah, whom we read in the Axial Age, would agree. Science and mental structures emerge out of myth and mytho-poetics. Some day, maybe, we can pick up where we left off on that study project.

And thank you for your patience. Learning how to co-regulate with others is a deep skill. And in these forums it is a hard one to master as there is so much going on that is out of awareness. I am pleased to say that I feel that I have received my desired outcome in this thread, I have already learned a lot from this dialogue and look forward to what others are learning. Being understood by another person, as you have demonstrated, creates a willingness to let down the guard.

And if you want to throw pasta on the wall feel free as long as you clean it up afterwards.


I don’t have anything more to add to this portion of the thread, except that Money = Power in Western society.

The information in this article offers a context for some of present political discussions. Theodor Adorno and the Crises of Liberalism | The Nation


Parker Palmer’s extensive and insightful work, influenced by his Quaker background (I think), offers a viewpoint that attempts to engage the sacred and mundane in daily practice. Poet David Whyte’s narrative books offer a similar sensibility to engaging with life in western civilization; less abstract and intellectual and more a balance of mind and body.



Everyday is a Journey



A. If this course has changed your worldview in any way, what has changed?

The course allowed me to sort through new information and ideas from a variety of people previously unknown to me. The course provided an opportunity to explore multiple opinions, perspectives, insights and research offered by the participants. However, as to whether that changed my worldview, I would say no.

B. If you had to write a term paper for this course, what might your topic be?

Term paper Topic: The metaphors used to describe climate change. I would explore the scientific, abstract language currently in use and then ask why the language or metaphors used to describe climate change are not more natural [use agrarian, agricultural and natural metaphors]. If one cannot language climate change and link it to nature, the land, sky, rivers, forests and the individual body then climate change remains abstract and support for change is harder to come by.

C. CEL: While my conscious language can change; and that effort may influence my small community; the issue is how to make that language and those metaphors go viral. At present, there are larger, more entrenched meta-metaphors and language used in society that obliterate attempts at new language. My opinion is the use of more scientific abstract based metaphors are simply a variation on the current theme and not a fundamental change in the trajectory of existing language.


Very interesting, Rick. I especially like your term paper idea, Rick!

Indeed, getting any changes in language to be picked up by lots of other people is THE question. It can’t be forced or even “suggested”. It just has to be so “right” or “natural” that it feels like it just has to happen. I have no idea how that would occur.

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I would like to propose a thought experiment in language—I am not sure if this is employing a simile or metaphor or a little of both. What if, when we think, “Capitalism” we also think, “Cannibalism,” creating a poetic equation that looks something like this:


And whenever someone propounds the doctrine of “CONSCIOUS CAPITALISM,” we think, “HEALTHY CANCER.” Or,


I would like to play with these equivalances, which admittedly, may be radically unfair—or not—but at the same time, may point to a deeper truth at the pattern level.

After all, in a truly liberal, free-minded society, one would be allowed to identify with and believe in CANNIBALISM, as long as one didn’t actually EAT anybody else—without their consent. Yet in our much more narrow-minded civilization, CANNIBALISM falls well outside of accepted belief and practice.

Can we imagine a future civilization where the concept of CAPITALISM is similarly beyond the pale and almost unthinkable to actually engage in? Could this experiment go viral?

I would also like to make a distinction between CAPITALISM—which I identify essentially as a belief system that reduces all things to their economic value, i.e., to CAPITAL, and whose primary goal is to maximize profits for CAPITALISTS—and a related, but in my estimation healthier and more innocuous concept, which I will call COMMERCE.

I would like to suggest that we can have COMMERCE, including productivity, innovation, and wealth production, within a free/fair market in the service of democratic society—without CAPITALISM—much the same way we can have agriculture, or sex, without slavery.

I submit that CAPITALISM includes the mechanisms of COMMERCE, but that the former is more like a totalizing ideology that barely masks a fundamentally exploitative relationship with other beings, which are reduced to natural resources and labor, while the world is collapsed into a total market and subjected to the requirement of infinite growth in repayment of centralized, fictitious, artificial debt, whereas the latter simply signifies the mutually beneficial exchange of goods and services between autonomous, interconnected, mutually regarding agents in a common ecological context.

Can’t we trade and do business, meet individual and collective needs, and even use money to translate between different kinds of value, without commiting to the brute metaphysics implied by CAPITALISM? I would like to suggest that our democracies may fundamentally depend on whether we can decouple them from CAPITALISM without losing the dynamic, creative energies of COMMERCE.

This, perhaps, could make an interesting topic for a term paper. As for how my worldview has changed through this course, I would say that I don’t think it has fundamentally changed, but I feel much more sensitized to the way that binary oppositions (all kinds of either/ors) shape my thinking, and that I feel more attuned to creative opportunities to find new ways of thinking, feeling, and being that are more dialectical, transcendent, and inclusive of polarities, contrasts, and distinctions in a field of possibilities beyond presupposed binary options.

“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.”

― Ursula K. Le Guin


I Like Your Outdoors Thinking & Wondering madrush


Marco, here is an article I ran across that speaks to some of the concerns you present. It is long but it attempts to sort through a variety of issues we seldom consider…including issues related to power.
The future of liberalism - Prospect Magazine