Cosmos Café [2019/11/26] -- Gebser, Jung & the Fullness of Time

Temporary video link:

Neither Jean Gebser nor C.G. Jung are strangers to our regular CCafé visitors, and fortune had it that these two figures played the central role in this year’s annual Gebser Conference, held in Asilomar, CA just last month. In this CCafé session, we’d like to start taking a look at and discussing some of the contributions made there. Sean Kelly’s “Gebser, Jung & the Fullness of Time” seemed like a reasonable place to start as he addresses a number of themes and authors that have played a role in quite a few CCafé sessions in the past.

Kelly’s talk is somewhat general in nature (and relatively short: <45 min. w/Q&A) addressing a wide range of topics, including “astrology”, “the Axial Age”, “synchronicity”, “initiation and ritual”, “faith”, “NDEs”, and more, not to mention several writers who have asserted (prophesied?) the coming of a new age or aeon for humanity. Are we standing at, or even crossing, the threshold of such momentous proportions? That is the central question to be explored in this session, along with thinking about what the answer (or partial answers) mean for future CCafé sessions as well.

Reading / Watching / Listening

Sean Kelly’s presentation at the 2019 Gebser Conference

Seed Questions

  • Is humanity standing at, or even crossing, the threshold to a new age, a new structure of consciousness, to use Gebser’s term?
  • If so, what are the indications? If not, why not?
  • What do the answers (or partial answers) to these questions mean for us personally and for our future CCafé work?

Context, Backstory, and Related topics


CCafé sessions




  1. Who’s here and what’s up?

  2. Which impacts did you take from Kelly’s presentation?

  3. What does it all mean?

  4. Where is this taking us?


We in The Cafe’ this Week -" Dwellers"

The Sax made it a Party!The Music of the Spheres!


When I click on the link, I get a “Video unavailable” error message. It doesn’t say why, but there are videos, especially music but also cinema, that America prohibits from being shown in Europe (due to differences in their understandings of what constitutes “digital rights”). Of course, that may or may not be the reason. So much for the planetary when it comes to money. :imp:


To my small mind, this CCafé was a good one: we touched on a number of themes, but we we were also able to get into a couple a little more deeply. I was particularly struck by the faith/creativity connection.

Right after the CCafé, I started reading Patrick Harpur’s The Philosopher’s Secret Fire: A History of the Imagination, which is a worthy complement to Lachman’s Lost Knowledge of the Imagination. Harpur’s is not necessarily a “profound” book, but it is a sane and insightful one.

Now, I’m just under a quarter of the way into the text, so whatever I say is preliminary and tentative, but it strikes me that “imagination” may be the better notion to deal with, in contrast to “creativity”. As Harpur is using the term – which sits well with me – “imagination” is the broader, more encompassing, and more penetrating notion. When I think back about our brief exchanges about the faith/creativity interaction, I find myself tending to think that faith/imagination may be the stronger expression of what we’re actually dealing with.

We’ve been dancing around the fire of imagination for some time now, in a number of sessions and threads. Corbin’s “imaginal” (which came up in the Axial-Age sessions and elsewhere), and even the “liminal” (in, let us say, more general terms than John has brought our attention to) are aspects of the phenomenon that shouldn’t be ignored. I think what I’m trying to say is that I’m a bit hesitant to “nail down” a particular terminology when the phenomenon hasn’t been sufficiently illumined. For me, at least, there is still a lot of unclarity, uncertainty, and unsuredness that needs sorting.

In other words, after our (planned/intended) engagement of the most recent Gebser Conference contributions, we could perhaps start thinking about exploring “imagination” a bit more closely, especially in relationship to “faith”, of which Kelly’s presentation made us aware. What I liked most about his talk was his pointing out that “hope” is not really enough these days. It’s too weak to carry the burden of the future with which we may be confronted. His suggestion, of course, was a new(ly understood) “faith”, and our CCafé session – rather unintentionally (synchronistically?) – put the notion of “creativity” into a strong relationship to that. I’m convinced there is more here than meets the eye, as they say, and wanted to at least make sure that the topic doesn’t fall off the table.


And a wise hesitation, Ed, as the words we use are so slippery and can slide off the table before we get a chance to google it. I am wary of faith as I have lost so much I once had faith in. The unconscious nihilism that is so pervasive is not going to be evaded by blind faith or upset by false hopes. Nihilism bites back. And if hope is a bit tepid, faith is just as problematic. I still retain faith, however, in the kindness of strangers.

I have great faith in performing small gestures, such as in drawing a doodle to get a meaning across, as powerful as a text book definition. I would not throw out definitions, or try to impose them, except when signing a contract on a dotted line. But many of our speech acts and written communications change in contact with many different mediums, and do not resemble contractual agreements. Words, like everything else, move. They don’t sit still. They slip and slide, as T.S. Eliot said, with imprecision. Perhaps, the ancients were wise to trust speech more than written words. And yet how do we govern empires with only face to face encounters and hand shakes? We need contracts and treaties and decrees, with all of that paraphernalia. We also need oracles and the change in moods produced by plays and songs. We are not a dictionary, we are more of an encyclopedia. After the eureka of transformation, comes adequate translation. This is tricky.

What I put my faith in is the high C of the soprano when she is centered, the curve of dancer’s trace through space, the laughter of kids at the playground, the smell of onions and garlic heating up in a pan…it is is in these tiny micro-movements in shared perceptual spaces that make sense to me…I can tell when a writer knows what she is writing about by this shared perceiving in motion. It can be quite gender fluid, and those who have been erased in history, can talk back to us in prose and verse. If we get good at listening to our listening, we can learn to read better, and to speak better, we can write better, we can move better. I do have faith in that capacity.

And that reminds me of a story…and tuning into the stories that we use to tell our stories can become a very important practice. And imagination and creativity and innovation are somewhere lodged in a capacity for perceiving from someplace, somewhere. Situated knowledge. And Objective knowledge, whatever the hell that is, is a special case of the observing participant(s) giving attention to where they are perceiving from. And does it have a size or shape? Where is it? And what happens before? What happens after? These are child like kind of questions, I often ask, in the hope that we can by pass our strong tendency to reify, to harden our categories, to thicken the line we draw around objects. We might want to allow those lines, to have different colors, to be perforated…

Words move, music moves, only in time…


Your slippery words & sounds have met my Field of Perception, Inter-Acting like this my friend:


We are the body electric, Walt Whitman, declared , way back in 1865. Then at the turn of the next century, a fourth dimension, entered the popular imagination, brought about by the new physics. In the 60s, when I was a lad, Rod Serling, introduced us to the Fifth Dimension. We watched transmissions from other worlds, on television, late at night, in our pajamas, circling around the TV set. Now, in the Internet Age, we humans may have already lost any coherence, driven mad by the sheer increase of images that we can make no sense of, many of us are drowning in incoherent live streams and disconnected narratives. What is real and what is imaginary is not so easy to figure out, a dilemma captured in this weird Twilight Zone episode.

In our last call, Mr. Ed, noticed that the young seemed lost. We may have already crossed a threshold…or maybe there is a new talent, arising in the youth and their elders, to hobble together other alternate ways of knowing/feeling? That is why I stress the need to become more active in framing events. Our survival may depend on this capacity. If we are not proactive in framing the frame, someone else will do it for us…and it isn’t just about perspectives…it is also about where are we perceiving from?..and this is a crisis of huge proportions…it is also deeply fascinating, as the webs we weaved, are starting to unravel…