Cosmos Cafe [2023-05-18] -- WI Thompson's 'Imaginary Landscape' 6

In your time zone: 2023-05-18T18:00:00Z

ZOOM video conference: Launch Meeting - Zoom


After more than 150 pages of rather dense “mind jazz” prose, we have reached the last “chapter” of Thompson’s Wissenkunst presentation: the Epilogue. In contrast to the text up until this point, it consists of a cycle (as he calls it) of eight poems written specifically for the four friends who have been accompanying him on his quest.

A different style, a different genre of writing, calls for a different reading approach.

The approach is this: each of the four participants remaining in the group shall each select two poems to prepare in order to read them aloud to the others at this session, and it would be additionally supportive if the reader would then moderate whatever discussion and reflections that might arise within the group. Alternately, the presenter may come up with their own approach to foregrounding the poems for the others.

Who presents what is a matter of choice and advocacy: ideally, each participant should express their preferences as soon as possible so that there is ample time for preparation. Perhaps the most straightforward way to accomplish this is sorting the details in the accompanying thread.

Before the end of the session, we should also arrange some time to exchange our impressions and reflections on the work as a whole.

Reading / Watching / Listening

Thompson, William Irwin (1989) Imaginary Landscape: Making Worlds of Myth and Science, New York, St. Martin’s Press, Epilogue, “Gaian Cosmologies: A Cycle of Poems for Four Friends”.

Lab section

TBD (Any volunteers or suggestions?)

Reading Schedule

  • Feb 09: Acknowledgements, Prologue
  • Feb 23: Chapter 1
  • Mar 09: Chapter 2
  • Mar 23: Chapter 3
  • Apr 06: The Spirit of AI (an organic interlude)
  • Apr 20: Chapter 4
  • May 04: A WITting Interlude in the Imaginary Landscape
  • May 18: Epilogue

Seed Questions

  • What motivated you to choose the poems you wished to present to the group?

  • What did you like most about your selected poems? What least?

  • Throughout our reading, we frequently critiqued Thompson’s approach and positions – both positively and sometimes negatively – so how do you feel about the cycle generally? How well does the Epilogue work in the context of the book as a whole?

  • How successful do you think Thompson was in his goal of producing an example of Wissenkunst?

Context, Backstory, and Related topics

Cosmos Café [2023-01-26] – Deja Vu all over again … or another spin of the wheel?

Cosmos Café [2023-02-09] – WI Thompson’s ‘Imaginary Landscape’ 1

Cosmos Café [2023-02-23] – WI Thompson’s ‘Imaginary Landscape’ 2

Cosmos Café [2023-03-09] – WI Thompson’s ‘Imaginary Landscape’ 3

Cosmos Café [2023-03-23] – WI Thompson’s ‘Imaginary Landscape’ 4

Cosmos Café: The Spirit of AI (an organic interlude) [2023-04-06]

Cosmos Cafe [2023-04-20] – Wi Thompson’s Imaginary Landscapes 5

Cosmos Café [2023-05-04] – A WITting Interlude in the ‘Imaginary Landscape’

Proposed Agenda

  1. Welcomes and greetings

  2. Lab section

  3. Prepared readings and immediate reflections

  4. General reflections on the reading and Café series

1 Like

I am interested in Poems III Worlds Interpenetrating and Apart,
IV Food Chains;

The Interpenetration of Form And Color Drawing

A Chain/Hierarchy Or A Web ?

Another Weird Moment of Surfing the Materiality of Cyber Space;




IF I can get into the meeting, I’d choose One : Interceptions of Starlight (for Varela) and Five: Origins of Life (for Margulis)


It’s simple: we won’t have the meeting till you can get in. :grin:

I’m fairly certain Marco can get the access issue resolved in time. Why the video choked after half an hour is anybody’s guess. I know computers are “moody”, but it’s certainly the impression I get more often than I’d like. It’s only technology, and so it’s complicated … unfortunately. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Although I said (in the session) that I’d pick up the slack for our last meet-up (i.e., take the poems no one else wanted), I do know that Marco’s got more than enough on his plate right at the moment, so I thought I’d step up and say I’ll take the two Ralph (Abraham)-dedicated poems (not quite the shortest, but definitely the longest phase of the cycle), which would leave @madrush with the two Lovelock pieces. (It’d also leave us with a cross-author/individual split, which creates a certain asymmetry as well.) 'Zat OK with you, Marco? (It’d be one more box on the to-do list ticked and give us all time to prepare.) :relieved:


Hi everyone, just a quick update to say that I’ve adjusted the Zoom settings back to how they were previously, namely, to not require a password but to have the waiting room feature turned on instead. Zoom requires at least one security option to be turned on.

So, @Ariadne, at your convenience, prior to Thursday, would you test to make sure that you’re at least able to dial into the waiting room?

Regarding our reading for this week, I am more than glad to take on the Lovelock pieces, or any others.

I also thought, by way of bonus/extra-curricular reading, and as a follow up to our last couple of discussions, I would offer this short essay that Michael Garfield recommended to me. I think it summarizes some of Thompson’s views on “AI” which we’ve come across piecemeal elsewhere.

WI_Thompson_Borges-Borg.pdf (50.2 KB)


I tried calling the CAFE numbers and it says (as always), “the meeting has not started, please try again later”…no way to tell
unless meeting is happening! This is what happens every time (normally) when I call, if the meeting hasn’t officially started,
I get the recording and then get cut off. But I was not asked for a password, so I think it is back to “normal”: ie, I have to call
in a bit late to avoid the cut off.

1 Like

Hi Maía, give it a try tomorrow and if it doesn’t work, we’ll wait till you can join us before proceeding. I will give you a call at 5 minutes after if you haven’t yet joined the Zoom.

1 Like

Thanks for another excellent conversation, everyone. Here is the recording for our Archives.


An Article that seems to Float With Our Cafe’ Conversation?