Cosmos Café [1/8] - Speaking into the Air about Communication

Thanks, Doug. As I mentioned before I have virtual amnesia for conversations in Cyberspace and need the archive to develop a metalogue. I look forward to the Bateson tomorrow.


Can you remind me how to switch screens to one person at a time? Multiple talking heads really gives me a headache. I notice that multiples faces at the same time flattens the affect of the communication. I am looking at this an audience…

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And what does this audience want to have happen?

Well, after a damn busy day, with at least two hours of technical issues, there is little to show (if I can refrain from cursing and remain level headed while dealing with the underbelly of production issues, I will come out of this as a changed man; if I can do all of this with a smile on my face, happy to be processing, I will be a complete human :crazy_face:).

I remember now the requests for single speaker vs multi-speaker views. You are only able to switch screens while in the actual conversation. To have single speaker view available in the recorded video, the processee needs to upload that particular version. I will attempt to have both available for each Cafe and other recordings, with speaker view as the first priority. Tomorrow, I will have multiple commitments (Bateson as one of them!) but will try to have available: 1. our pre-discussion on Cafe logistics 2. Speaker view 3. Multi view. My liner notes may be poor (yet another skill (summarizing) I have yet to develop), so if anyone who has participated or examined our Communications recording would like to help out, edit in a quick summary below the temporary video link (that doesn’t seem to be working) on the initial post.

EDIT: Leaving things as is for this one; the can has been kicked…:canned_food::foot: …I will simply quote Bateson:

Well, people spend a lot of time tidying things, but they never seem to spend time muddling them. Things just seem to get in a muddle by themselves. And then people have to tidy them up again.



The speaker view for the event is processing on Vimeo as I type, and should be available soon. I posted the link above.

I feel for you Doug! Welcome to my world, heh. Technical support misery loves company. Have no fear! We will work our way through this. Already an improvement (if it continues to work) will be the auto-transfers of the video from Zoom to Google Drive. A simple thing we could do is make that “Zoom recordings” Google drive folder available to all CCafe crew. Then even if there’s a delay in editing or sharing to Vimeo/YouTube, at least they can access the raw recording in the Drive.

This has to be documented! Where’s that damn Playbook? :exploding_head:

I think we need a post-production huddle. Maybe sometime after CosmoVision, if you’re still available? I think we could diagram a workflow that keeps the show going.


Some of us are working backstage, some of us are working backstage and onstage, and some of us are in the audience. And some of are doing all of this at the same time as we study the archive. We listen with the third ear. And an unprecedented opportunity arises to capture the multi-layered nature of our ongoing embodied culture. Seeing and hearing faces and movements, simultaneously or sequentially, has an impact on momentum and affect. Flat screens can deaden expression if the viewers get bombarded by too many mixed messages from too many at the same time. I have more to say on this. When do too many options imposed by techno-gadget(s) create chaos in biotic systems?


I find myself less drawn to re-viewing a talk than to listening. It is usually tiring to me to watch talking heads on a screen—I already do a lot on screen, so try to avoid the additional exposure when I can. On the other hand, with headphones on, in podcast mode, I can enjoy a conversation, listen and learn, with no eye strain.

I also observe—as an audience member, as well as pragmatically speaking being in these talks—that the number of participants matters. Two people can go deep. Three to four can get more complex and dynamic. 5 to 6 can invite a broad range of perspectives. But beyond this the conversation can have trouble cohering within the allotted time, which doesn’t allow for integration of participants’ contributions at depth. There is a ratio, naturally, to speaking and listening and the simple pleasure of being present, which changes depending on how the event is configured.

As a viewer/listener, if there are too many voices or faces to follow, it can get confusing. I want to go deep, and have options. To view, or to listen. To follow one thread down the rabbit hole—or another which stays above ground. I have peculiar tastes in a given moment, and one conversation speaks to me while another goes by me completely.

I think there are many different ways this could be done and they’re all (most of them) valid. I want to give attention to the aesthetic implications of the different ways we can design these events. Is it possible to move through the screen to deeper possibilities of communication/connection?


As an audience member a good podcast is great if it’s tea for two. For a group podcasts become confusing. When a larger group video helps us sort face, gesture and voice. Most of communication is gesture. Try to talk without your hands. Politicians get elected not because of arguments but for their affective qualities, their gestures. Hearing a poem recited is different from reading it on a page. I would also add that the roots of theory are in theater. As we synchronize our rhythms we enter the zone with others, if our rhythms get interrupted we get grouchy. The more we pay attention, our meta-attention can become our shared focus. We go through the frame when we dream. And we can dream with our eyes open or closed.


How do we work with mixed messages in a creative way? Well…that reminds me of a scene from a movie…


I like youtube, no edit. Just saying. Be who you are. I think that was Nietzsche who said that. Just saying.

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You express the underappreciated benefits of audio so well! This too: we can close our eyes…which science has shown actually changes the mix of neurotransmitters (vs eyes open), brain wave states, etc. allowing more profound listening/insideness. OR a person stretch, mend a rip, water plants, or other very slow and simple motor activities, and still listen quite attentively, which is a meditation in itself, this depending of course, on the level of the conversation. Tone of voice and other aural nuances convey what is not necessarily spoken, and tends to get drowned out by video distractions. I know the audiophile-position this is a losing “point of view” (!) in our culture, but I appreciate very much your expressing some of the “ear side” of things!


Appreciate what you have to say here, but for me, much of communication is tone of voice, timbre, rhythm, speed, and other qualities of voice. You can hear a smile, a feeling of uncertainty or hurt or…falseness or pressure, etc. Scientific studies tend to show that lies get by more easily in political life via video than audio. Poems, I feel, are essential aural/oral, but not visual. There is “radio theater” via story telling…a minority taste, but quite popular, eg a program called The Moth where real people come on and tell real stories from their direct experience. There are interviews of all kinds, entirely heard,not seen.
I agree we CAN dream with eyes open, but…I would guess for most people it’s easier with eyes closed or in dim light. Which is why theaters are dark? And bars? Music halls? Bedrooms? I write (as a species of dreaming) with eyes open, but often close my eyes between phrases to get a more intimate feel as to inner happenings, etc.
No argument here against video, just that audio rarely gets the equal value/time.



I love the night. Always have. And humanity may get most of it’s best work done at night, away from the harsh glare of what happened during the day shift. We take off our many masks, at night, and put on new ones and seek some solace from the Other. And sometimes that Other is felt in solitude while entering into trance states with many voices, synesthesia are magical . Our techno gadgets can disrupt our diurnal and noctournal rhythms, algorithms are bad for our bio-social circuits. Face to face, with the intricate mirroring effects and affective sharing, has for generations, been the norm. Falsehood and mixed messages, of the pathological kind can flourish, in our current social spaces. Unless we learn how to detect mixed messages, with eyes wide open, we will continue to fall into a merciless, spider web of deception. I read in the NY Times yesterday that a fifth of our corral reefs have died in the last three years. It appears we live in a bio-semiotic maze of micro-creative motions in an open cosmos. How we use our unique sensoriums has major impacts on ecology. Ecological practice is what motivates me to endure the sometimes negative impacts of the technology on my peace of mind. I appear in front of the harsh public gaze, which is high risk, because we might make a difference that “makes a difference”. Let’s use all of our senses in this pluralistic multiverse and use them well.


ALL of our senses are underdeveloped and I so much agree that we do need them all, including vision, but not necessarily all of them all of the time. We need to balance more with less, to learn how to do that. Modern culture is abstract-thought and optic heavy, in general. But it doesn’t mean viewers are really seeing, even with eyes wide open. Really seeing takes all of our being, just as really hearing does.

I know what you mean about “appear(ing) in front of the harsh public gaze”, and I have definitely done my share of that! Politically, artistically, relationship and otherwise. When I was well, I was an activist and a social-justice worker. I read poetry in public for ten years. Been around the map in terms of abuse. Was married, birthed and raised two children, basically alone. Now I would describe myself as “gender fluid” as well as fluid re: most any category. My heritage is mixed, spirituality integral with a nature-mystic flavor, etc I am a lover of pluralism But also a lover of chosen-limits and of balancing out too much of this with a bit of that. A favorite thing for decades for me, as a writer, was silent retreats, no speaking/reading/writing, a word-fast. Another favorite is a “creative retreat” where I hole up to do pretty much nothing but write, paint, listen to music. I say all this because I am like you a lifetime supporter/participant re: “making a difference that makes a difference”. But I’ve done twenty-plus years of telephone counseling and co-meditating/teaching, phone writing groups, phone consciousness raising groups… so that I have a special love for this by-ear mode, which has it’s excellences and unique skills. When I was no longer able to travel or show up to events, many times even leave my room/bed, I learned to cultivate the aural mode, and to cherish it. We can’t be good at everything, all the time! We do need limits as well as expansions , but don’t appreciate their gifts enough, in my opinion. They are like the zeroes in mathematics…
I was listening to Michael Pollan the other night describing his trip on toad venom and other psychedelics. Like others before him, he thinks that non-tripping consciousness works well because of its specific limits. Eg, attention: wide open attention is wonderful for certain activities, terrible for others which need a strongly focused directional beam. So, yes we are plural – each aspect has its strengths and weaknesses—most especially its right balance of development and rest.


I so agree, Ariadne, and put limits upon myself as a way of exploring my freedom. No freedom without constraints, and we dont know what we got till it’s gone. Like the coral reefs.And we are losing quite a bit currently.

If we are in a position to rejoice about anything we certainly should, even as we tune into the suffering of others who may not be in a good position to rejoice.

I had dinner with a dear friend last night who has to decide for or against brain surgery. He had plenty of doubts about if it was worth it. I thanked him for the food he had prepared that evening, for the many memories we shared, and what a wild time we have had. At the end of the evening, having listened to some opera, I put my arms around him, joyfully, exclaiming," I love you! I love you! I love you!"

I walked home in the cold, night air, the traffic loud, the streets a glow, and I buzzed with an odd euphoria, as I was very close to finding a balance between joy and sorrow. These kinds of paradoxical states can be cultivated as we become sensitive to the odd and the unfamiliar.


Beautiful! As you describe the time with your friend, tears fill my eyes and I’m smiling!
These kinds of magnificent moments–mine or yours or anyone’s-- are the answer to-----
Why are we here?!


I am not, to rephrase James Baldwin, a scapegoat. And when I am not a scapegoat, then what happens?

I had a dream in which I heard a voice. " Hi, Johnny," the baritone voice said," I am someone you went to high school with." I listened to the entity with a third ear.

I vaguely sensed the presence of a young man, I remembered, who had a beautiful singing voice. I remembered that his name was Art, that he was very handsome and that he showed such promise. As I had recall of him, his face appeared, a vague shape and size, but I felt it was Art.

In high school, we were not friends. I was out of the closet, gripped by strange intensities, mocked and scorned, and also connected to an underground of intellectuals and activists. Stonewall had just occurred in the faraway land of Manhattan, but the ripples of that great riot were felt through out the world. So, I endured the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune of this brave, uncertain, vague, queer, possibility, while Art , more cautious, stagnated in the closet, and attracted the attention of many girls, who had deep crushes on him, and who were frustrated by his aloofness. He was not intellectual at all but had that great pop voice.

So, fifty years later, I am a melancholy man, a New Yorker, and I reflect upon the old world, back in Texas, when I knew Art. How odd? Art, in my lucid dream, showed me some different kinds of creative spaces. He showed me stuff I have no language for. How sounds and colors are no different from floating clouds, the boundaries between objects often disappears, and gravity is optional. Also, there was no back or front, there were no eyes to look out from, there were no pens and pencils to jot things down. Memory wasn’t in or out of anything. I could imagine that ‘I’ was the ‘Other’. We were both waves in a mind without organs that pumped blood or spat out something nasty. The senses were not arranged in the human scale kind of way. We were telepathic. He zapped me with a knowledge, like a thump on the head.

When I woke up, in the so-called real world, I logged onto my laptop, and googled this young man’s name, that I knew in high school. I received with a strange, glad, feeling that he had died of a mysterious illness, ten years ago. In his last photo he appeared middle aged, pudgy, not at all like the tall good-looking youth I remembered.

The obit said he led the church choir. There was no mention of the fact that he was gay or that he was outlived by a partner. I imagine he lived a closeted life, a nice bachelor type, so very nice, with a small backyard, where he fried hamburgers for a few other closeted friends, like himself, on the weekends.

In that dreamscape, Art, had a vaster intelligence, that had not been activated during our acquaintance on Earth, This is very common characteristic I have noticed among those that have died, which persuades me that the nervous system and the brain are severe constraints upon our percepts and concepts. As his strange brilliant presence, escorted me on a grand tour of this para world , his voice appeared to me to be that of a Magician, a person of immense capacity. So, what could have brought us together, in this odd man out rendezvous, in the middle of nowhere?

The Real and the Imaginal are chasing each other, like cats in heat. Certainly this dream event was not produced by an algorithm.

We are in between metaphors for mind, transitioning towards an ungodly world, dominated as we are by ugly feelings, spawned by a passive nihilism, as we scramble for hi tech jobs in the financial sector, while couches and car parts float in our plastic oceans and radioactive materials swirl in the air and in our morning coffee.

This is why I am here, Ariadne, and thank you for the question- I want to create conditions for a new wave of metaphors for the mind, so that we can create new subjectivies and new metaphysics. The computer metaphor is dead. And we must all meet the death that is waiting for us. The dream no longer needs interpretations, as we are becoming, often against our fixed judgements, a performance by the territory. Nor do I need toad’s venom!

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What a true gift of a dream your dream is!

“My mind is a metaphor monster, it has an insatiable appetite for novelty.”
I share your reverence for dreams and the dreamworld whether awake or asleep or in between, And likewise that hunger and quest to re-shape metaphorical thinking/experiencing as part of the path to a different kind of (human) life, to be much more a part of all life whatsoever. A piece I am writing these days looks into the primary causes of human malfunction/destruction of our planet by observing what happens to characters over their lifetimes when they suppress/ignore and distort their essential gifts (natures) in order to win fame, social approval, money, political power. Compared to developing those gifts, such things are worthless. And yet. Just take the word “success”. So often it requires NOT cultivating ones gifts and gifting the world, but becoming an image of fascination and envy.
Oh, it’s okay to develop gifts IF you make lots of money or are considered famous, etc. Until even your fame and money come to demand that you change with the changing whims of your public/corporate promoters.

What would the world be like if… ? Another way to answer Why are we here, which you are speaking so well to, is that gift-cultivation and giving to the world without allowing fame, reputation and fortune to distract and betray and deprive, is the very deepest calling.

God how I hope you are right about the demise of the metaphor "computer". In mainstream science, portions of living cells are commonly and casually referred to as "machines".

I agree about the toad venom by the way. The only such substance I ever explored was cannabis and though, not sorry, like a relationship overstaying its freshness, I began to consistently encounter its flaws as well as its powers. I prefer to await "openings" that naturally arise (though I now do appreciate the pain-alleviation of the non-psycho-active portion of the hemp plant. Plants are incredible beings and we humans have much reason to be grateful to them.

Your desire for "effective dreaming" ( this is from The Lathe of Heaven), to change the metaphorical landscape/sky of our world from the inside, so to speak, is inspiring, Johnny.


The feeling is mutual. Thank you, Ariadne!

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