Cosmos Café [5/14] - BYOC

Recorded 14 May 2019

. . . We brought it . . . with intensities.

Building a Café from the Bottom Up

In the previous Café session, we conversed about conversation and stretched the edges of discourse in real time.

What makes a Café? What makes the Café come together? What makes it taste better? Gives it more life? How do we pay more attention to what we are paying attention to? Can we deracinate savage growths and let twine Nature’s vine upon thine hearts?

This is a call out to all to help determine the content for the next Café. Post any readings recordings, recent thoughts, inclinations, inklings, etc. to this thread and we will see what happens. The connections and interlinkages may run amok, but let that be as it will. This is an experiment in the formation of a Café gathering. And yes, a demand that we supply contents of the highest quality.

Bring Your Own Café and make it ours. What will you bring to the table?

Reading / Watching / Listening

  • “Tell me, what is it you plan to do
    with your one wild and precious life?”
    ― Mary Oliver
    “Instructions for living a life.
    Pay attention.
    Be astonished.
    Tell about it.”
    ― Mary Oliver
    Also From Norman Fisher Interview on Tricycle : The Practicality of Imagining the Impossible- Norman Fischer on the the Practicality of Imagining the Impossible

Seed Questions

  • Q1
  • Q2

Context, Backstory, and Related topics

Agenda items

  • @douggins would like a few minutes of feedback and requests as to the content and direction of the Cafés. Would you like to lead your own Café? Reach out to certain guests? Discuss certain topics? Even if you do not participate in the recorded sessions, feedback and requests are kindly received!

Periodic phases of self-reflection always have positive effects … well, unless one has been particularly naughty and actual soul-searching is called for that is. But that’s not the case here, is it.

As you all also know, I’m a big fan of a looser Café process while still recognizing the need for and value of more laser-focused discussions on grander topics. Too much of any one thing can always get you sidetracked.

Still, having said that, I also have to tell you that I won’t be able to make the session on Tuesday as I’m heading south later tomorrow for grandpa/dad duty all next week. Chances are very good that I won’t be in the conference threads much either. It’s not that there won’t be an internet connection, rather that ol’ To-Do list gets longer every time I’m on the phone with my wife, who has been establishing the support bridgehead for a couple of weeks now.

Of course, as always, I wish yinz lots of fun and success.


I don’t have any words of wisdom for you and your family arrangements. I do appreciate making us aware of your personal situation and wish you the right amount of grace, acceptance, peace, curmudgeonery. . . whatever it takes to make the circumstances bearable or less bad.

You will be present, as we tend to acknowledge (whether you like it or not), in the reflexive universe of Cosmic things. I hope we can leave you with an artifact that is worth watching (if we remember to press record!)

And . . . to clarify what is intended by this Café . . . just want to note that it does not need to be a reflection on the Café itself (as we tend to do from time to time). I did make a note in the agenda to discuss the content and direction of the Cafés, but mostly as useful feedback for the “curator” of these events. We can accomplish this through the thread or with a short discussion at the beginning or end of the Café. Beyond that, I wanted us to experiment with how we put together a Café before the event happens.

By “Bring Your Own Café” I mean to allow others to have a say in what is placed upon the menu. The Nora Bateson selections from last week were all of my own selecting. I think we had a heightened conversation, but the conversation was made by those conversing, not necessarily by the content. This experiment I am asking for us to do is something we already practice. We post things. Others respond. We talk about what we have been talking about.

As a starter, I will share that I have been reading The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt. I do not remember why I decided to purchase this book about three years ago, as I rarely purchase a book if I can find it at the library. I began reading it last and fell in love with this mind. Arendt seems to be both a product of her time, writing about totalitarianism and related subjects, and a thinker that tapped into the timeless qualities of what it means to be human. I will share her Prologue here (not a reading recommended for all) as an example of this timelessness on a subject we still discuss 70 year later: The Human Condition Prologue.pdf (39.4 KB)

I had intended to make this the main reading for the next Café, this Café . . . then thought better of it. What do I know about Arendt? What do others know? I do know that whatever the content is for the Café, we will always seek to have a “successful” and “fun” discussion. And, back to the reason for asking others to share their own findings: I find what you are interested in is often more interesting than what I thought others would be interested in.

I also checked out a copy of The Jazz of Physics which is shared in this thread. I am interested in the connections between music and science. And @johnnydavis54 mentioned making headway into understanding the world of quantum physics, which would be music to my ears if he could explain it to me! And some of you have been flipping out with Kripal’s latest. What am I leaving out? Who haven’t we heard from? Not to put you on the spot @Ariadne, but I would love to hear what you are interested in. Or what would make for good Café content that we may be blind to.

What does it mean to share online? We already discern what content we bring forth to the forum, what would be worthy of others’ eyes and ears and minds. I share my recent readings not just to give you more words to read but to put the content out there so that others may pick up on something that would normally remain within my private realm. One thing we do all have in common is that the media we consume isn’t because it is required reading/watching/listening as determined by the mass collective or as seen on TV. Some of us have concluded that Facebook or HBO is not where we will go for most of our discourse. Like the Duke of Burgundy, I will make a demand before this royal view that we seek out ingredients of fine quality . . .but I’m preaching to the choir, not speaking to kings.


Just now I’ve been reading about science’s belated discovery of insect intelligence, even some forms of “logic”, counting, reasoning, and this is being discovered at the same time that science is discovering that insects are disappearing, their “nations” down now by huge percentages… Just as the world is diminishing, we are beginning…to see what we are losing. Has anyone read Ted Chiang’s short story in the voice of a going-extinct parrot, asking why why are we looking out into space for stranger beings to leave us less lonely, when they are all around us right here on our ailing still beautiful planet Earth!

Just now I’ve been listening to Richard Powers speaking (again) about his “conversion experience” from one who has been blind to trees, to one who shaken to the core by their beauty, power and yes, secret wisdom. He just won the Pulitzer for Overstory, about the blindness/hate and love affair of humans with trees.
And just now I am (again!) trying to write about a recent tree/bird experience of my own so hard to express. I’ve been working this morning on a poem not quite finished, I cringe with some embarrassment, reluctant to impose unfinished poems, but because of your question, and because of my so far month-long media fast, because you ask what is in my mind and heart…somehow I also feel now is the time to post it anyway.

Sparrow in the Loped Tree

his round transparent song pierces me—

as I watch them cut, the men who won’t look
at me as they do it because
they remember how I begged them not to—

song restoring me even as I weep, as the severed
branches, as the leaves rain down—

in his song I hear the invisible structures, I hear
what the singer sings from— indestructible
ribs and lungs of Life —

men who cut the tree won’t look
at me as I watch them, weeping, as branch after
branch snaps from the trunk, tearing
the others as it falls–

I hear the intricate structures
of the singer and the song, hear what it means to shine
without light, to generate fire forever

through sound and flesh and bone
appearing, disappearing

passing through the one who is singing
and the one who is listening—

while branch after branch
cracks down—

and sparrow goes on singing


How do I post an image here that goes with the poem/comments just posted? I tried to just copy and paste but it didn’t work. I guess I’ll have get the image into jpg . I don’t have scanner/printer, so distant friend is doing the work, but he sent me the image in the body of an email, and I don’t see a way to convert. (My first ever watercolor for many many years! )
I appeciate your patience with my lack of tech savvy!


Poignant message, @Ariadne. One can only hope that we “men who won’t look” will realize before too late that we are seated on the branches we sever…

Alas, forced as usual to study past events when it comes to the Café… which, while in some poetic sense fitting for me, means missing out on making some history for a change. But @Douggins since I can’t resist an invitation to “status report”, I will share (with the same caveat that none of this needs a second look from those pursuing other paths):

(1) I had to look up some passages in On Revolution recently. Hannah Arendt was a great writer and heavyweight political philosopher, student of Karl Jaspers and student (and one-time girlfriend) of Heidegger before things went Nazi…
(2) Speaking of Karl Jaspers (of “Axial Age” fame) - I plan to finish the Robert Bellah/Hans Joas book The Axial Age and its Consequences by month’s end. Thoughtful collection of essays on evolution of mind, search for the symbolism and practice of transcendence, and social-political effects. John has also read this and I think it might be worth a brief (written or on-screen) dialogue for the archive.
(3) Historian John Lukacs passed this Monday, May 6. I’ve admired his writing for some time. Essays like this are why: The American Scholar: Putting Man Before Descartes - <a href=''>John Lukacs</a>

Hehehe. I’ve got a few of those T-shirts… And yet I’m sure I’d be much more miserable without them, so no complaints.
Enjoy your trip!


@Ariadne: You can try to drag the image into the box in which you would normally type these messages. You will have to download the image from the original email → save to your desktop —> drag and drop. If you want to place it into the poem post, you would click on the edit this post “pencil” icon and try and drag the downloaded file. If you run into any trouble (such as file size too big) you can try forwarding the email to me at and I can attempt to make it appear here. Good luck!

And, before things become too tech, I want to thank you for sharing your poem and I am waiting in anticipation for a view of the watercolor.


I read that book when I first came to New York in my early twenties, sharing an apartment with a group of struggling actors, waiting tables, going to shows, auditioning, etc. I got through that book with some effort but enjoyed a sense of accomplishment. More recently, I read her tribute to W. H, Auden. It was very touching as she meets him when they are in New York, both of them late middle age, after the War. Having known her as a formidable political thinker, I was surprised by her intimate tone and the sensitive observations of her eccentric friend, who was also a great poet. It is an absolutely perfect character study.

I am open to this, TJ, as I loved those books by Bellah and would love to do an on-screen dialogue if you can participate. We can find a time that is good for you. Perhaps we can make this happen in the near future, I am happy to review those books. I think we could compare with Gebser. Do you have a favorite essay from that collection?

That’s exactly right, Ariadne, they are psyche-acoustical magicians and their music has a healing effect upon us.


Thanks for the reference. I – not being anything of an historian – am not familiar with his work, but I very much appreciated this particular article. It had – for me, at any rate – a number of notable and noteworthy statements, such as

But isn’t objectivity an ideal? No: because the purpose of human knowledge—indeed, of human life itself—is not accuracy, and not even certainty; it is understanding. […]

Every human being sees the world in his own way. That is inevitable but not determined. […]

Knowledge, which is neither objective nor subjective, is always personal. Not individual: personal. The concept of the individual has been one of the essential misconceptions of political liberalism. Every human being is unique, but he does not exist alone. He is dependent on others (a human baby for much longer than the offspring of other animals); his existence is inseparable from his relations with other human beings. […]

There is only one kind of knowledge, human knowledge, with the inevitability of its participation, with the inevitable relationship of the knower to the known, of what and how and why and when a man knows and wishes to know. […]

Until now the great earth-shattering catastrophes—earthquakes, floods, firestorms, pests, plagues, epidemics—came from the outside. Now the potential dangers are coming from the inside: nuclear explosions, global warming, new kinds of contaminations, pestilences produced by mankind itself (for instance, genetic engineering). […]

[And one of my personal favorites:] The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but the road to heaven may be paved with bad intentions that have not matured into acts. […]

They are noteworthy I suppose because they reflect and express things that I have thought (and said) for a long time. This is not to put myself in the same class with Mr. Lukas, anything but; rather, there is a good feeling that comes from recognizing that the thoughts you are tapping into are being tapped into by others who are in a better position to ensure that a wider range of people than you yourself will be able to reach have the possibility of becoming aware of them.

One of my primary “positions” for which I catch a lot of flak is that we humans are simply different. Oh, we are like everything else we have ever discovered or encountered, to be sure, but we are unlike them all at the same time. We’re not better than rocks or trees or bugs or horses or any other thing in the universe, just different. And that is a difference that should make a difference. The corollary of that position, in my mind, is that with that difference comes responsibility (a word, Mr. Lukas does not shun to use). That difference doesn’t get us off the hook, in truth it puts us on it. But we humans are more than negligent in regard to that responsibility; in fact, our negligence has taken on what I consider to be criminal proportions, yet he reminds me that it wouldn’t hurt if I found a kinder, yet firm, way of expressing that. I suppose that’s one of the distinguishing marks of a scholar as opposed to, say, a curmudgeon.

At any rate, thanks again. I found the article well worth the read. In spite of its brevity, it contains rich fare for thought.


I admire him, too, thanks to your posting this essay. The Flip and the conversations with Davor and others, persuade me that a Quantum Age is coming at us. We can no longer think in terms of billiard balls colliding and objective standards and that the almighty algorithm will colonize the solar system. We are more, much more weird than that.

John Lucas left us with some stunning observations about our human condition. A panpscyhist movement is underway in the social sciences. Lucas and Wendt, are in my partial view, trying to map across more than one discipline, and hopefully creating conditions for what Nora Bateson calls " transcontextuality". These could be signs that these skills of giving our attention to our joint attention, could become so refined, that it becomes a new habit in human affairs.

And then what happens?

What has been our collective unconscious will change because we are paying attention to it. And what happens if larger portions of humanity start to create a meta-attention that can enter into the weave of our human folly and spot the crack in the Cosmic Egg and can repair it?

Are we there yet?

On personal note. At dawn I sat in my chair and closed my eyes and followed my breathing. A mourning dove, with that melancholy mezzo-voice, sits outside my window, and fills my apartment, with her solo voice. I relax my boundaries, as a body and as a human, and her voice becomes my voice. There is no outside or inside. The cool tones are emerging from my own interior, she and I, are no longer separate but entangled in an elemental magical concerto, she and I become a We.

She soothes me for a half hour with her solo and faraway in the distance, I can hear a response to her as her friend picks up the patterned sounds and replays them. We are a triad. I am intoxicated by too much beauty and return to bed and snooze.

I dream about a text, a very difficult one, and as I try to put together the words on the page, I am aware of the entangled nature of the surface and deep structure. That is a very, very deep, ancient structure. And perhaps, the mourning dove duet, is another performance by that spectacular territory, from which we all of us are perpetually arising?

And progress…what in the world could that mean? Can it get any better than this?



This was quite well put. I dunno, Ed, you are sounding like a concerned veteran of life here rather than a curmudgeon. Should I be worried? :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Now, this sounds like one of the best working definitions of “integral” I’ve heard in a while. Just sayin’… :+1:

Yes, once I finish the Axial Age book (about seven chapters to go) and organize my notes let’s talk about a joint presentation. I don’t have a favorite essay yet - although I’m glad that Donald (3), Matthias Jung (4), and Wittrock (5) didn’t get caught up rehashing the historical debate but mainly focused on implications for then - and now. I can’t shake the feeling that we are experiencing something similar in today’s ‘crisis-of-opportunity’ that the authors are putting their fingers on in various ways.


I didn’t really know him…and yet when I read the quotes you chose and posted here, I DID feel as though I knew/know him, that feeling of someone’s words being right at home inside, and as you said, almost your own. Thank you and I will read the article soon and perhaps have more to say

You may get a lot of flak for this wonderful restorative tonic, but it’s exactly the medicine we need! I might start getting a rep for being a curmudgeon, too, since I’m always saying such things, I just can’t seem to help it. :slight_smile:



So thoughtful and generous to take the time here to describe this. I think the problem is, it’s not an attachment, it’s just in the body of the email and my computer doesn’t give me the choice of “save as” when I click either right or left. But that’s okay because my friend is going to make a PDF of another version, and if it’s okay, I’ll post that. I think! :slight_smile:


“a new habit in human affairs…What has been our collective unconscious will change because we are paying attention to it. And what happens if larger portions of humanity start to create a meta-attention that can enter into the weave of our human folly and spot the crack in the Cosmic Egg and can repair it?”

John what you’ve written here is part of the essence of what I was trying to express in the poem I posted: a meta-attention (in any sense or all of them at once) through which we"can enter into the weave", can repair a tiny tear …and though it is infinitesimal, this mending of a moment which is violent or alienating or just ordinary into a vision of connection…it is somehow being done in concert! You and your mourning doves, me and my song sparrow… and billions more moments… Everywhere we turn, these moments are offering themselves to us, need us, in a sense.
The Kogi people of Columbia say exactly this, that their job as humans is to see and remember, hear and feel, the “threads” connecting The Mother to the mountains, rivers, oceans, birds, to ALL, and to celebrate them, repair them if possible, give thanks for them!


Your poem influenced my adventure. And poetry is the royal way to the royal ‘we’ coherence that many of us are yearning for. I sensed that as the ‘I’ began to blend ( not disappear) into the mourning doves intra-communique, I heard a pinging sound in my third ear, letting know that I need to stay centered and open to the field of all possibility. Of course, it could just be a bit of tinnitus but I am not at all distressed by it. Keep those poems flowing, Ariadne!


Great idea! This is a very good direction.


This is not an illustration of my sparrow experience, just a coincidence, literally, both happened near in time, acausal, as they say. Not an illustration at all, rather a dreaming with Bird, Snake and Landscape. It’s a thumbnail of a larger painting and the “canvas” is a torn piece of paper. A friend sent me some pigments, another friend gave me her old brushes, another found me a pad of nice paper, another scanned the image and sent it to me…and the Snakes and Birds started it all! A co-labor-ation…


Lovely. I hope you will share more of them. Water color is a magical medium.

And is there anything else about acausal?

And what happened right before the Snakes and the Birds that started it all?

And what happens to water just before it becomes color?

And is there a relationship between words and colors and Snakes and Birds?

Just a few word games that I woke up with prompted by your musings, Ariadne, the tones of voice, the tones of the painting… seems so free and easy… and yet I wonder where it starts…where it comes from…All of it is, perhaps, in the service of something…and of the pleasure of the making of something…

I have a box of pastels around here somewhere…I like soft pastels because I can smear them with my finger across the page…touching a rainbow…

Sorry for all of the ( …) I just have to have a way of signalling a pause…it comes from doing so much trance work…you need lots of pauses in the between to allow time to become magical…

Thank you!


Errg … I may or might (or not) show up … somewhat depending on my next session w/my psych-girl, Monday. She is trying to humanize me, or teach me how to lie.

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I thought I was the one who used too many ellipses…but I need them! And no, there cannot be too many, Jonny, that’s like saying “too many breaths”, too many birds, too many snakes and leaves and rivulets, no, and in fact I would say that when I am painting and writing poetry I am well, avowing myself, my life, to these worlds and worldlings I love so much. Like the birds, here, I sometimes whistle and sometimes feel-imagine touching them and its so vivid, I can actually feel the florious intricate texture of feathers, a living bird intelligence, all the energy of a star, singing…other times I get very anthro and breathe out “I love you”. Yes, I am saying I love you in pigments to the water and sending it onto the paper to take shape, and later I might find hundreds of miles inside that painting, might find canyons and waterfalls, or wildly, an eye in the sky, whose eye, I have no idea, and it doesn’t matter, or rather it matters as much as everything else, as a single dot, as a hairline crack or crystal of sand, the tiny worlds that are everywhere, as Robin Kimmerer says of moss forests, where a single drop of rain is a planet…

Oh, and I love pastels, too, though I don’t have any at the moment. Decades ago I painted with them and it was their luminosity and willingness to merge that I found so enchanting. I think I’d like to try using water color and chalk together and see what’s possible. I’m also wanting to do collages because that’s how I paint anyway, and write too, bringing things that aren’t usually together, together.…and discovering what happens.
By the way, I’ve been meaning to say that I give my writings/paintings away, don’t sell them, so because I know you dig and delve Shakespeare, I thought of sending you something, if you are interested! In the middle of my spec fic novel which has many Shakespeare references throughout, there is a fictitious play inside the novel based around various aspects/pieces of Shakespeare. It’s performed for the “Wedding” of the last two, still separate, giant corporations in the 2050s. Put on by an underground performance group, that does five minute versions of S.'s plays, called Fish Wives (men, too). They’ve been chosen among contenders by corp-goons (because their bid was lowest) to entertain (and act out) the lustful gov-corp “King” and Queen" , while also sub-textually “speaking to” the resisters who are in the audience. It’s called Shakespeare’s Diana: meant to be a slightly bawdy, subversive, somewhat silly (ancient and modern meansings here) play, and it’s written with stage directions, et al. I wonder if you’d like to see it It’s about nine pages. No obligations, of course! Just thought of this now, and am curious if The Play would “play” for someone who hasn’t read the book. By the way, in the book, pastels are the material of choice for Teri, an off-line artist who is trying and re-trying to represent a mysterious entity communicating via Dreams…
…okay, sorry, got carried away! I am so close to getting this book published after, let’s see, 16 years of working on it, off and on, since just before my partner died. I painted the cover for it in my twenties from a Dream I dreamed when I was seven. I publically predicted in a Bio that it would be out by 2020, and I did that on purpose to prod myself away from the fear it also generates to imagine anyone reading (and maybe disliking!!) the book.

Forgive me for the ridiculous length of this email, but you inspired me into it! :slight_smile: