Cosmos Café [2021-05-27]: The Wholeness of Nature 6

Session Introduction

This is the sixth of seven planned sessions (currently scheduled every two weeks, till mid-June) encompassing a collective reading of Bortoft’s book. This session’s reading encompasses roughly the third quarter of Part III “Understanding Goethe’s Way of Science”. The focus of this third essay thus far has been what Bortoft calls “the organizing idea” as a determiner of perception. In this reading, the emphasis is on Goethe’s approach to color and the dynamical unity of the plant.

Whereas Newton was primarily interested in color in order to improve optical instruments, Goethe’s interest was in the phenomenality of color. “He wanted to understand the necessary conditions for color to arise” (p. 213), and his means of doing so was by focusing on attention. It was through concrete attention to the phenomenon that he came to understand it, not just explain it in terms external to color itself. He carried out a strictly organized series of experiments, if you will, to demonstrate and simultaneously experience how it is that color comes-into-being, through the interaction of light and darkness. In this way, he was able to experience light in its pure, or primal, form, as Urphänomen.

Goethe applied this approach, of course, in his other scientific investigations, into his study of both plants and animals. He was not interested in finding the commonalities among plants, thereby reducing their differences into a kind of uniformity. This the approach taken by the analytical mind. Instead, Goethe recognized that there is such a thing as distinction without separation, that is, that many variations we experience, in plants for example, are not different things, but rather variations of a fundamental theme, so to speak, which are different but still intimately related to one another. Goethe came to understand that a plant is the result of a “conversation” of sorts between its own self-determining entelechy and the environment.

Reading / Watching / Listening

  • Bortoft, Henri (1996) The Wholeness of Nature: Goethe’s Way Toward a Science of Conscious Participation in Nature. (Great Barrington, MA: Lindisfarne Press), III. Understanding Goethe’s Way of Science, the last section of Chapter 4 and the first section and a half of Chapter 5 (pp. 212-275).

  • (Alternately: Bortoft, Henri (1996) The Wholeness of Nature: Goethe’s Way of Science. Edinburgh: Floris Books, 6th printing 2018.)

  • Bortoft Reading Schedule_The Wholeness of Nature, v22.pdf (82.6 KB)

Seed Questions

  • Goethe took a very different approach to investigating the phenomenon of color than did Newton. What do you think of his approach? Which of the two investigators do you think took the more rigorous, “scientific” approach to his investigations?

  • Have you been able to obtain a prism and replicate any of Goethe’s experiments (and Newton’s for that matter)? If so, what was your experience in conducting them? How has the experience changed your own understanding of the phenomenon of color?

  • The notions of “difference”, “distinction”, and “separation” play an important role in Goethe’s approach and in Bortoft’s presentation. How do you understand these notions? Has Bortoft’s presentation helped (or hindered) your understanding?

Context, Backstory, and Related topics


A Epiphany of Today’s Conversation & “The Wholeness of Nature”
from a West Coast Dude:

Surf the Waves #2

Rumi Heart


I finished listening to this a few minutes ago & was struck by
how it streams into our conversation in terms of Bodies,Senses and Active/Receptive (not passive).
How the senses are Bilateral not Unilateral.
There’s a Tactful use of Sight that is Receptive(Goethe-ing)


The Necker Cube of Mahler and Goethe, music and language transmute into one another, rising up through the Eternal Feminine into everlasting Cosmic with a C bliss.

Here is a link to Goethe’s text and translation


" The process that can be said is not the whole process." Arnie Mindell

And is there a relationship between this pair of hands
and this pair of hands?

And this?


And this?

And can we come into Being while knowing the differences between the left/right styles of communicating?

And is Self/Other 1+1 or 1x1 …both/and…neither/nor ?

Plato claimed this kind of knowledge can’t be taught but it can be remembered.

And can we remember that we forgot this knowledge?

And what difference would remembering that make?

And with all of that …what happens to Goethe’s Way of Seeing?


Dream Semiotica 5/31/2021

The Third Dream and the Dangerous WIne Dark Sea

Find the New Human in the following dream report.

I am in what appears to be something like a high end retail store in Midtown Manhattan., surrounded by luxury items. I am aware that I am participating in an underground society that uses the store to conduct secret rendezvous with agents working outside the established networks. Some of the contacts are gay undercover agents. I am one of them and have a coded conversation with another gay agent, well dressed, handsome, middle aged, well built, with a dark green cashmere sweater and a darker jacket and a device in his ear. I am able to tune into the invisible network that is in the back ground of our encounter and sense the history of our relationship to the vague community operating in the shadows when I suddenly realize I am in a dream.

I look up towards the ceiling which appears like a tent with a hole in the center of it and a night sky beyond. I say," I want to communicate with the intelligence that has created this dream." I sense that the intention of my message is received. Then I ask, " What do you want to have happen?"

I zoom upwards through the hole in the tent and I am aware of two blue spherical lights, floating slightly above me. The sense of a human body fades but I still maintain a sense of self and then I hear a robotic, female voice above my head space that speaks an English sounding language but it is heavily inflected with an accent I do not recognize. This strangeness defamiliarizes the speech and leaves me frustrated. I notice my lucidity is vanishing as I can’t maintain the calm detachment necessary to sustain a meta-attention with so much ambiguity. I awake in my physcial body in bed and stay attentive to the memory of the semantic space I shared with the intelligent One that created the dream. Although I have no clear understanding yet of what that intelligence wants to have happen I am aware that I know something that I did not know before.

After coffee and as I continue to contemplate the contact experience in the marginal imaginal space ( Necker cube AB) between wake/ sleep cycling, staying in the in-between I watch a lecture by Graham Harmon in which he contemplate the nature of metaphor using Homer’s wine dark sea, which we discussed recently. Harmon’s analysis of metaphor is useful for our Goertean purposes.

I believe we discussed Thirds in our last call. And the thiidness of all of these musings, reflections, paradoxes…the tensions between objects, qualities I believe resonates strongly with the Intelligence that created the dream/vision.

And what happens next?

I myself am the the reader. Could the intelligence want this encounter to happen? Are we and them in between and are trying to perform a new metaphorical construct?

I and my Double are a hyper-object


Mind-melding and triangulating, I recall that Weird Studies did an early episode on Harman’s “The Third Table,” and that JF started a thread with this topic a couple years ago.

I loosely had object-oriented ontology in mind when we were discussing Lisa’s work on consciously evolving language, and I asked about the status of “the object,” aka in a friendlier guise, the phenomenon. I look forward to reading the essay, which I never did…another take, it seems, on the being of beings and unenclosable status of things.


I want to read the essay, too. Harmon refers to it in his talk. I recall JF works with Harmon and I recall our discussion in Lisa’s class. This may be another turn in the labyrinth of our Cosmic Rendezvous with the Fifth Dimension. I have also a study by Harmon on Dante that I have on my list of reading projects. My communiques from the field seems to have a sense of what I read and the imagery I use. Before bed I visualized the Necker Cube AB in Third Eye. Although I do not have a clear step by step protocol for making contact I do believe we can prepare our minds for this next phase. It does seem that allies we make as well as art we make are important.

" The author-interpreter is herself and interpretant to/for her signs. In the act of interpreting her signs, she is interpreted by them, she becomes an act of signification by which she, as a sign, ,undergoes change a change at the same time that her signs are transmuted into other signs by her act of interpreting them."-Floyd Merrell.

This is very Borgesian with a splash of Kripal. Look, Ma, I’m a sign?!