Cosmos Café [7/9] - Reading and the Body

Definitely . . . and I hope this dumping does not send you and others into overload and a distaste for the topic. I like that so many others have already responded and have given direction to the conversation.

Pardon the misphrasing; I intended to state that TJ and I as the ones doing the Clean Language exploration, expressed reading at our best as (mostly) occurring or accessed from the headspace. You mention near the end of the call that when you are reading at your best, you are electric. You embody the characters and authors language and are moved emotionally and aesthetically. I have learned much from observing you when you respond to such questions and realize I still have much to learn.

McLaughlin also conveys that reading is cultural. Little VIncent, now picking up books cannot read the words but, by observing his older brother Miles (the intonations, gestures, facial expressions), he is now an expert “reader” . . . Vincent will pick up a book and sound just like a librarian or author reading a book to an enraptured crowd. Tones go up and down. Hands are moving. Face is emoting. I have a surface level reading of Donald’s mimetic culture but I assume I am seeing this occur in real time. And the core of mimetic is gaining awareness of the body of the self and of others. Vincent is also observing where our eyes go when we read, noticing that we read from front to back, left to right. He is watching our hands as we turn the page, point to words and images. . .the list of bodily actions go on and on.

Miles, now five years old, is expressing Donald’s Narrative, reading alone + reading to others + combining stories to form his own imaginative narrative. He can read in any space and at any time but he reads at his best when he is alone on his bed. But also, perhaps inexpressible, he is reading at his best when he is witnessing how we read to Vincent and then reading to Vincent on his own, teaching Vincent how to read.

If we zoom forward to the collective here…is to focus just on how we as an individual experience reading a limiting thing? The act of reading may be done alone, but I keep all of you in mind when I read at my best collectively. Our reading groups and Cafe sessions have been some of the most intensive reading experiences around, without the anxiety of having to take a test once the reading is over.

This “electric feeling”’ when we feel the vibrations and rhythms, when the need to run around the block after reaching the climax or the moment of epiphany, is perhaps when we feel closest to the reading, when we become the reading and it becomes us. Perhaps at this moment we are literally vibrating with the physical text and exchanging our elemental being. The reading becomes us; we become the reading.

@patanswer shared his epiphany during the EST Magician call which I feel is highly relevant and applicable to the axial age explorations along with discussions on culture. I imagine TJ felt an entingling sensation when this moment arrived!


This is a very astute observation, Doug, and that is, of course, something that TJ could best answer. Sharing our drawings gives an added dimension to our group grope for finer attunements to warm data.

As we are moving rapidly from a first order to a second order culture, I sense that there are signs that we are moving towards a third order. I have worked at the edge of the third order for decades, waiting patiently, for groups to start to register this increase in capacity. This would be very bewildering without a methodology and that has been what these Clean Language sessions have been a prelude for. There is much, much more that needs to be done but phenomenology, hermeneutics and metaphor will be be the foundation for the vast vibratory sciences of the future. We are the past of the interiors of a future people ( which will include non-humans) that we are not able to register currently except by a few, ( the poets get there first). The majority of our species still speak with forked tongues. This is the bind and double bind of our species mind. Soon, we may disentangle from this habit and become entwingled in far greater reality/desire structurings than is currently conceivable. How do I know this? A little bird told me.

Your careful observations of Miles and Vincent, persuades me, that the co-creation of the interiors of these brave new worlds are being laid down in the father’s speech acts. The child is father to the Man.

I salute your efforts, Douglas. A long time ago, in one of your posts, I noted a metaphor you used and I thought yes…metaphor is his mother tongue! I am glad that you are using all of your knowledge and using all of it well. But forgive me for saying this…we still need to learn how to chunk down and chunk slow…


A passing side note here in California the Mother Earth is shaking & Rattling,if that’s not a Vibrational sensation under one’s Feet.!!

John I am chunking down & chunking slow at the Rhythm of Mother Earth’s Voice coming through my Feet,is that Good?


Is this not similar to Keat’s negative capability? The capacity to get a felt sense of what is absent?


This continues to be a very interesting area of our social research. I imagine that we are re-constructing what mental and rational could become. Gebser and Wilber diverge. Gebser was a poet, primarily, and WIlber is focused on science. I think the ones we are missing here are Rudolph Steiner and Owen Barfield.


Gebser is, I would say, a Dichter (which is most often translated into English as “poet”) but it is used to identify anyone who works well with words. Hegel, Heidegger, Nietzsche, and other philosophers were referred to by that term, as was Goether, even when he was writing science and not literature. Thomas Mann, known for his prose, is also considered a Dichter. Yes, Gebser was also a poet in the sense that he wrote poetry.

And there’s another little linguistic twist I’d like to mention. The German word for “science” is Wissenschaft, and this term can, and is, applied to any area of serious investigation and study. So we have Literaturwissenschaft (lit. “literature science”), Sozialwissenschaften (lit. "social sciences), Ingenieurwissenschaften (lit. "engineering sciences), and so on. So when you say “Wilber is focused on science”, I understand that he’s focused on the natural sciences. In English, the term has taken on a very focused meaning that is not shared everywhere. We in English, and this is part of Kripal’s case, separate the sciences from the humanities; but in German there are the Naturwissenschaften and Geisteswissenschaften (and the word Geist in there probably means “mind” as well as “spirit” as well as “soul”, which are all common translations of the word). Whatever struggle there is between them is qualitatively different here than in North America where there is a movement to have them eliminated, as far as possible. (Of course given the nefarious spread of neoliberal ideology and a continuing Americanization of much of European culture, I am not maintaining that it will stay that way.)

One of Gebser’s most admirable accomplishments was that he had a flash of insight that he developed and explicated almost exclusively from within the mainstream. When you look at the sources he uses to document his opus, they are not marginal at all. He was certainly sensitive to the margins, but bringing them in to substantiate his case would have been risky. He’s ignored more than rejected, I believe, because he played the game well in making his case, and if he’s correct in his assessments, a whole lot of rethinking needs to be done. And I think we all know how that is going to play out.

Barfield’s primary possible contribution, Saving the Appearances, didn’t appear till 1957. I think it is clear that Gebser wouldn’t include Steiner in his work, as Steiner is perhaps the most well known of the “traditionalists” (in contrast to the “evolutionists”) from whom Gebser made great efforts to distance himself. And let’s face it: it is only most recently that a scholar like Gidley could even make a serious statement of any kind mentioning Steiner, Wilber and Gebser. I’m not sure that would have even been possible 10 years prior.

Having said all this, though, I agree … at some point I’m sure that we’ll invite both Steiner and Barfield to the table. And I, for one, am looking forward to it.


I 've this working image of the future gathering around The Table, place your food & drink preferences with MindfulBot :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Thanks for asking. Actually, no, that is not really what I mean. I am familiar with Keats’s negative capability - the avoidance of reaching for certainties, fixities, etc., and the ability to stay with and accept the uncertain, to put it baldly - but that is actually pretty far removed from what I’m interested in re: kenosis. I suppose tangentially that one experiences kenosis when one is, in a way, tuned into a sort of “negative capability-isness,” so that one can really and truly absorb a text, movie, work of art, without reaching egoically or otherwise for false certainties and fixities and (too easy) answers, but in essence I mean kenosis as a giving one’s consciousness, one’s self, to another, through the “cognitive music” of one’s voice or vision or what have you. Maybe this analogy will help: sometimes - I’m not sure if anyone here has experienced this, but I’d love to hear about it if it has - if I watch a movie by a director I like (Ingmar Bergman is a good example here), and then I leave the room or theater in which I’ve watched said film, I will experience the world around me, at least for a few minutes, as if I were inside a Bergman film. I will be more conscious of “chiaroscuro,” at least in a cinematic sense, and the world itself will be intensified and somehow more lyrical, stark, austere and poetic, a la Bergman. This is what I am getting at - the film involves kenosis, i.e. Bergman emptying himself, giving the viewer his vision, and this happens as what I’m calling consciousness transfer, where I see the world momentarily through Bergman’s vision, his consciousness, at least in some sense. It can happen through looking at art, or reading poetry, or whatever else. I’m not alone in this - I’ve talked to the critic Michael Clune about this phenomenon, who claims he experienced “consciousness transfer” (though not in those words) in a deep way after reading the Tale of Genji. He has also written about a kind or sort of consciousness transfer through the experience of virtual reality here. This book about Henry James by the literary critic Sharon Cameron, which I am looking forward to reading, also seems relevant:


Back in the 80’s, during the AIDS epidemic, while I was working at the largest mergers and acquisitions firm in the World, I took a break from the fast lane, and read a half dozen novels by Henry James. I had a close friend, who read as much as I did, and we started a support group. James, I found to my surprise, was a very queer writer. We went through The Bostonians, The Portrait of a Lady, Roderich Hudson, Princess Casimissima, The Ambassadors, The Golden Bowl, and some short stories.

My friend and I were at the Piers, a run down board walk with holes in it, where many gay men gathered, to catch the rhythms of the urban underclass. We cleaned houses, and offices, performed off off Broadway, had temp work in big corporations, made ends meet somehow. We liked to read late into the night, and listen to Maria Callas over cocktails before we went out to the Bars. We slept until noon.

But at the Piers, that afternoon, surrounded by the call of the gulls, and the lapping of the Hudson River, my friend Gary, screamed, threw the cheap paper back a few feet away from him. He was in a state of ecstasy, his head spinning, his breathing rapid and high in the chest, pupils wide.

" Don’t tell me," I said, for I was a few pages behind him. I felt the mounting tensions of the heroine, Olive Chancellor, the rich aristocratic lady, as if they were my own, and I felt bewildered as an overwhelming decision was being demanded of her. I, too, read the last page, felt chills, and screamed." Oh my God! Oh my God!"

For months, afterwards, we parodied ourselves. We started to take on slightly British accents, and recited snatches of dialogue that we relished. We were in several worlds all at once.

Years later, I absorbed Eve Sedgewick’s Epistemology of the Closet, a brilliant appraisal of James, Proust, Cavafy, Oscar Wilde, as she traced the contours of a hyper-ironic queer aesthetic that she, as a heterosexual woman, totally loved. She clearly was able to enter a world of critical evaluation, which Gary and I, as common readers, could not. I did, eventually, get a feel for Sedgewick, and she entered the weave of my already warped imagination. Hers was pretty warped, too, and the authors she focused attention upon, were really weird. I realized that Eve was pointing to a cultural dynamic, peopled by people, like Gary and myself. We lived in the cracks, like the weeds, that came up out of the cement, in crooked back streets. What a cliche!

Gary had moved away but I had more James to read, on my own, and that was a great blessing, as I went to my corporate sponsored office job, and took care of the sick and dying. and engaged in high risk political organizing, as well as being bombarded by the alien forces of contemporary music, Ingmar Bergman movies and bullshit politics. It was a landscape dominated by Reagan and Thatcher. Our brief window of opportunity was shutting down .

So, kenosis, is a term, that has been used by Plotinus, to describe his altered states, and your altered states, too, Andrew, can be described in your own inimitable way, borrowing from an already large lexicon. We have inherited a huge vocabulary, from many cultures. I am a bit cautious as I find so much of this to be very ungrounded talk. What is an altered state of consciousness? Compared to what?

I know you are wanting to avoid circles within circles, and that is a great thing, if you can break out of that. So, negative capability, satori, samadhi, kenosis, transmission, nirvana can have a lot of zest, at first, but pretty much falls flat, for the common reader, like myself. There are no end of language games to be pursued and commentaries upon commentaries. But I like to slow down, sometimes, and go into the cracks between words and word games. There are lots of cracks in the Cosmos. It is a queer thing to do.

A well known novelist, thought it was the critic, rather than the poet, that had anxiety about influence. What in the world do critics have to offer anyway to us hardworking, distracted, common readers? Eve Sedgewich and Harold Bloom are a hard act to follow!


John I get what U are bringing forth.The question of bringing together of our different tempos…I sometimes have difficult time of slowing down too much,I’ve been described as dancing like a epileptic elephant(use to hurt,now I think of Dumbo ,talk about Imaginal).I wonder John how to herd the cats so speak with this coming Cafe’? I for one feel there’s enough framing to just enjoy cats play?


A great image. Shakespeare would have loved that. And what is that epileptic elephant right before the epilepsy? And what happens after epilepsy? And cat’s play? And herding cats. And with all of that what happens at the next Cafe?


A peaceful easy feeling with the anxiety of performing at my best among friends,ideas,povs & the movements Between.


Honestly, I think critics are great because we are hardworking, distracted, common readers. There is so much, too much, to read, view, watch, experience, when it comes to film, poems, short stories, essays, works of art, dance, theater, opera, music, what have you. The past is an enormous gift, but also, in a way, an enormous and overwhelming burden - where in God’s name do we even start? I think a good critic, like Bloom or Sedgewick or Perloff or someone I used to like more, A.O. Scott, or for that matter James Wood or Darryl Pinckney, and plenty others as well, help us think more deeply about what we care about, while at the same time introducing us to works that can transform us, that can literally change our lives, and make us think and feel in new and different ways. Critics are essentially guides to the labyrinth that is art and literature. Good critics have thought very deeply about such things; if you read them a lot, they can help clarify one’s own taste, aesthetics, preferences, etc., through agreement and disagreement with them. Really, good criticism is an art form in itself.

I happened across a post from some time ago, written by @madrush , with a Latin phrase I was new to: “De gustibus non est disputandum” - “in matters of taste, there can be no disputes.” Essentially - correct me if I’m wrong here - but the idea being that taste is utterly subjective, and there is no use arguing about one’s subjective preferences. But I guess I find behind or within that idea something somewhat “anti-intellectual,” in the sense that I find it valuable to really think about why one likes one thing rather than another, and I find it useful to have such conversations, which can often clarify to both/all participants what they value in a work of art, or even beyond art and into life and existence themselves. Also, this phrase, if I am understanding it correctly, also suggests a kind of nihilistic relativism when it comes to matters of taste (you like this, I like that, and never the twain shall meet), which I think is incorrect, i.e. many of the works of literature in our “canon,” like Henry James, or Shakespeare, or Dickinson, or Richard Wright, Blake, Whitman, Milton, etc. ad nauseum, are mostly part of our canon because they are the result of scholarly consensus. In other words, the fact that we are reading and performing and imbibing Shakespeare, say, centuries after he wrote, suggests that there is something about Shakespeare that is not just subjectively good but objectively good. Scholars and critics, if they are any good, are trained to see this; in that sense, criticism is really a discipline, like anything else. It really isn’t just one blowhard offering his or her subjective opinions about whatever. It is often the accumulation of many years of reading and thinking and experiencing and feeling.

Criticism is also helpful because it de-idealizes works of art (and artists). In other words, while I do personally like criticism that is appreciative - I really can’t stand the “hermeneutics of suspicion,” that is just relentlessly negative and resentful and allergic to gratitude - most robust appreciations see the good and the bad about an artist’s work. Whitman, for example - good criticism does not idealize Uncle Walt as a sage only, and then write drooling hagiographies about him (which is what happened right after Walt passed away). Good criticism acknowledges that when Whitman is at his strongest, he is absolutely tremendous; but, when he is not at his strongest, his poetry lags and droops and becomes a caricature of itself or himself. Ashbery’s late phase, for me at least, is pretty disappointing; Wordsworth seems to have ossified over time and lost aspects of his inner radicalism that made the Prelude astonishing; someone recently commented on Twitter that Blake was a great poet but not a great writer. But these are very important distinctions - i.e. there are some religious geniuses, like Joseph Smith, who were powerful visionaries but not very good writers, and so on.

Not everyone likes to read criticism - some people are perfectly comfortable with what they like, and that’s fine. There are millions of Thomas Kinkade blankets sitting quite happily on couches everywhere. But if we are mature art-appreciators (not to mention mature artists), sooner or later, I’d think and hope, we’d read criticism as a sort of sobering educational process of development (our own personal “kunstlerroman,” to use a term @achronon is probably familiar with), where we can learn about the dangers of sentimentality, say, or the meaning and contours of camp, or just a sense of the absolutely astonishing tradition that came before us, and that informs us utterly, even if we are in denial about this. I"m all with Emerson’s call for not seeing through the dead eyes of the past or whatever, but of course, Emerson was not exactly a naive or immature reader or writer, and he had a powerfully robust sense of who and what came before him. In the poetry world, because there is often such resentment towards the abstraction called “dead white males,” there is often not really a sense of the actual tradition we emerge out of. This has often seemed to me to be utterly disingenuous. There are inane articles online that say things like, “we don’t need to read Mark Twain anymore - he was a racist!” which are completely shallow, and “paranoid” (Sedgewick’s term), and really totally beside the point. Good criticism points things like that out - it does not settle for the superficial cant that claims to be thinking online, (how many “thinkpieces” do we actually need to read?), but instead goes deeper, recognizing that what we value carries immense weight for the present and future of our culture , society, country, world, not to mention our own immediate and actual felt lives. Good criticism, in that sense, is a needed corrective - it de-idealizes, contextualizes, evaluates, and so on - things that we all often need help with, if we’re going to think about art and literature with any clarity, depth, or even originality (interesting word) whatsoever.


I am a big fan of appreciative critique & in fact my first personal of was with my Parents & Myself,it Healed a whole bunch of baggage & Lighted the Weight on this Heart of a Human Being.Thank U for your Art-iculation😎


What I like most about this phrase is that it was a saw to the Romans, and it’s a saw for us still.

Yesterday my wife talked me into going to the singing-club’s Fest in her home village. Yes, her sister sings with the group, and these village get-togethers are refreshing in that people actually engage in face-to-face conversation and there’s plenty of simple food and drink. On the menu, so to speak, was something called Ploatz in these parts, and it’s something you only get in these parts. Basically, it is a normal sourdough-rye bread dough rolled out flat, but not too thin, that is topped with something akin to mashed potatoes laced with bacon fat or a really heavy sour cream mixture clogged with fried onions. It’s a traditional “delicacy” from this area, and hardly anyone knows how to make it anymore. And that’s why I went, because I hardly get Ploatz anymore.

My brother-in-law told me that what you really need to complement it with drink-wise is a Furztrockenen (lit. “fart-dry”; i.e., you can’t get it any drier) white wine. Hmmm, I thought. Given that Ploatz is local, North-Hessian, so to speak, and he comes from the Ruhrpott over in the Rhineland, why does he think so? We lived in Swabia (a German wine-growing region) and they made something they called Zwiebelkuchen (lit. “onion cake”) which is a very quiche-like dish (which is not unusual since Alsace is only about 50 km away, now French, but not always), but you can only get it in the fall when the first wine grapes have been harvested, because traditionally, there, you drink Neuwein (lit. “new wine”; that is, wine that has just started to ferment, so it is slightly carbonated (the yeast are working overtime) with a sweet, but slightly yeasty taste. Some people (even locals) love it, others hate it. Well, here in North Hessen, there was nary a vineyard till some “yuppie” (and I use the term endearingly) a couple of villages to the East of here planted one which produces, now, a very small yield of wine. Much farther to the East they are trying to develop a wine-growing region, but that really takes a lot of time. So, traditionally, what you drank with your Ploatz in these parts was beer, because everybody drank beer and that was that.

What is there to discuss? Well, nothing really. We joked around about the beer and wine and whether Ploatz and Zwiebelkuchen are even comparable, let alone the same thing, but in the end, it really doesn’t matter, because there is really nothing to discuss, let alone dispute. A lot of things in life are like that, and somebody somewhere somewhen let loose a witticism that stuck and we have a saw to toss about today.

That same kind of process can be observed in other areas of life, such as fashion, popular music, or even what people like to read. I can’t take best-sellers, for example, but I know any number of people who swear by them. Among aficionados in any particular area or genre, I’m sure there is more than enough to discuss, but things do get a bit complicated when we take those “discussions” “to the next level”, if you will.

Having started out my potential professional career as a wannabe secondary English teacher in the backwoods, literally, of Western Pennsylvania, I had a lot of high ideals. The reality with which I was confronted, however, didn’t always resonate with those ideals. Oh, I managed to awaken a taste for the Bard, in individual cases, but not generally, but there were not a lot of disputes, believe me. Back at college, there were a few folks with whom I could discuss literature in a different way, and it became clear to me that it was a pretty small subset of the general population with whom I could. The more serious one was about it all, the more “exclusive” the club became. Not much has changed in all my travels.

The saw is still a saw because it is still generally true. But, that doesn’t stop any of us from doing something different. That’s why I, for one, appreciate you raising the issue of literature and criticism here, for there are folks in these parts who don’t mind hearing about or even discussing such matters. Keep it up, sir. I still stand to learn something, even at my age.


The words you speak become the house you live in.” — Hafiz

“I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.” — Emo Philips



Here is a link to John Horgan’s online book. Horgan is a mixed bag, he is sometimes too conservative but he does have a criticism of current reductive materialisms that is useful. I think his choices are pretty good here. As we move from deficient rational phase to more Integral structure, we should expect lots of oscillations. The Stuart Kaufman chapter interests me the most as he is working with different logics in phase spaces and the direct experience of telepathy.


Hey fellas, just want to say how much enjoyed listening to the talk. It’s been an intensive week and it seems I have miles to go…

But the art of your co-imaginative conversing brought some serviceable joy to a solitary evening. I am reluctant even to begin responding to the topic at hand; I would have to go on and on and on and on and on about the magic of these weird squiggly lines.

I will distill it to one image:

When I am reading at my best (in my body) I am a like…

a honey bee—

pollen-carrier (despite myself)
& nectar-gathering (my desire)

book to book — mind to mind —
symbol to symbol — body to body —

following my particular

of buzzing colors
& mellifluous intensities

line-squiggles thru information-blare

zooming-in on flower galaxy
and drinking my fill

shaking my bum-brain
zim-zumming w/ gamma-waves

shooting Imaginal rays
— outta buggy eyes!




of ambrosia



to my Quantum

(everyone is

geometric structures
self-assemble in soft wax

voices aromatic
touch — musing & mulling

cast errant

exude thick-glistening
golden-sweet globs

to whomsoever


The touching of your words…



Licking my lips… after feasting.
Honey’s the Healer, sings The Queen.