Cosmos Café: Alternate Ways of Knowing [12/12]


(Marco V Morelli) #1


In this session we continue our mapping and modeling of experience, focusing on intuition as a way of knowing—how we know that we know something by intuition. We discuss, in part, John Davis’ essay on “Alternate Ways of Knowing”—and also experiment with ‘clean questions’ regarding our intuitive knowing in aesthetic and experiential ways. We share our personal maps (sketch drawings) of intuition. Further reflections on deficient science, and spontaneous bursting into song, punctuate this lively collaborative dialogue.


John Davis (facilitator)
Douglas Duff
Ed Mahood
Marco V Morelli

Recorded: December 12, 2017

Alternate Ways of Knowing:

Further Reading




“I feel this will help us expand the field of communication to allow the meta-mind to more fully reveal itself. My sense is, we have to become acquainted with the metamind before we can pay a visit to the supermind”- Marco

“I found myself easily influenced by others’ maps, as if your images had always been present in my mental imagery.”-Doug

" But the past is always in motion, too. Not in the sense that events can be changed but certainly the meaning of various memories and the shape of future hopes interact with continuing life experiences. The relative significances of the pictures are constantly ebbing and flowing.
Applied on a larger scale (because I gotta! LOL), some decry ‘revisionism’ without understanding that each generation (or group within) must ask its own questions about history and interpretations of significance will vary." - TJ

“As I boiled water for tea this morning, Ed’s map came to mind. Despite the Cartesian container (kettle), his is a true amension where “past”, “present”, and “future” “take shape”, bubbling and popping on the surface or interacting in the unseen convection currents below.
Marco has a torus: inflow, outflow and “through-put” in the vortex and rotation around the center.
If I had thought more I might have realized the future cannot be limited to a cone along my line of sight. Like the past memories rippling out, the future swirls in from all directions as well. It’s still centered behind my forehead, but it certainly “sneaks up on me” sometimes as well.
So I really end up with… a sphere.”-TJ

“The “hearts” indicate feelings, haptic connections; the “squiggly lines” indicate scents, aromas and smells; the “light rays” indicate visual inputs or impulses. The dashed lines between “times” indicate possible connections (in any direction). The axes (x, y, z), of course, are supposed to represent Cartesian space.”- Ed


Drawings produced during the session:




Musical References

Jon Mueller
Death Blues + website
Olivier Messiaen-Quartet for the End of Time

An audio depiction of Doug’s Model/Map of Intuition; he calls it :

“A Blind Attention”:

(The “Shwooping process begins around 2’45”)

Cosmos Café: Less Time, More Space, & Hebrew Letter Gestures [01/23]
Cosmos Café – Upcoming Events & Archive
Cosmos Café: Time, Space, & The Hebrew Alphabet [01/09]
(douglas duff) #2

I second the focus upon @johnnydavis54’s essay. It conveys a core element swirling around in the discussions here.

12/15 edit: Added images and the “Musical References” segment. “A Blind Attention” was improvised on a DAW called FL Studio.

(Marco V Morelli) #3

Thanks for adding all the drawings and quotes to the post above, @johnnydavis54. Very helpful! I am looking forward to our talk tomorrow. I will take these images and articulations with me into a float session this evening, and report on what bobs up to the surface from the void.

(Marco V Morelli) #4

The recording is now posted above.

Here is my drawing, which I felt inspired to add a little color to, for fun:

Thanks everyone for your kind presence, listening, meaning-making…and singing!

(john davis) #5

Color is a beautiful thing. Whenever I leave the house I always bring a box of crayons. And your colors are fascinating.

And the brown and the blue and the pinks and the shapes ( the trace of gesture) all of that communicates, and comes from a particular territory. It is out of this interplay of gesture, color, shape that dreams are born…

When my dear old lady was dying she watched me draw pictures, houses, roses, little kids playing with a dog, and dark night skies. I pasted the pictures up around the room and wrote " We love Bea!" In the weeks towards her transition the gallery of drawings became a source of contemplation for both of us. She would point to the picture and say," We love, Bea…" and smile. I danced and sang Broadways songs until she told me to shut up. I deeply regret I didnt keep the pictures, after her transition, I was so devastated. She took with her so much beauty and truth. A splendid woman. The drawing came out of my love for her and she knew that. I still have the bouquet of dried roses that came from her hospital bed, dried up but suggestive of a supreme glory. And the dried roses are next to a statue of my beloved St. Francis, with some fresh roses! We bring the old and the new forward.

I share with you my meta-questions for the mapmakers. If for every meta-theory we had to draw a map for that theory that a person on their death bed could understand, what would happen to our meta-theory?

What are we to do with all of these maps without territories? I think it would be a good idea to cart them off to the dead map graveyard.

Your map, Marco, is a living map. It breathes. Thank you for the opportunity to develop our maps together. I hope this activity becomes a widely shared practice and brings benefit to our community.

(Wendy Ronitz-Baker ) #6

I miss talking to you all! Tuesday nights are my chorus nights. But I am glad these are posted here so I can be with you virtually. :slight_smile:

(john davis) #7

We miss your presence, too, Wendy. We are working today with Intuition and we shared our maps. Feel free to join in whenever you can. The Tuesday cafe events are in the afternoon so maybe you can tune in? Have a great holiday and Happy New Year!

(john davis) #8


From the video at 1:27:100
" What struck me about my map, in comparison to last time, is how disconnected it all is. I have all these pieces and they are kind of all there-it’s like I have a puzzle on the table and the pieces are out there but I dont know what the picture is I’m putting together."

And is there anything else about that puzzle?

And when you dont know what the picture is…what would you like to have happen?

(john davis) #9


And maybe the heart is included…and when maybe the heart is included…is there anything else about maybe?

And where did the musical depiction of Blind Attention come from?

And thanks for the musical references!

(john davis) #10

I want to re-enter a space that is at the cusp of Magical and Mythic, with St. Francis, as my guide.

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.

To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
So useful, humble, precious and pure.

Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
Mother Earth
who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial.

Blessed are those who endure in peace, By You Most High, they will be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.

No second death can do them harm. Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
And serve Him with great humility.

Director Peter Sellers makes some interesting comments on Messiaen’s opera. St Francis, he suggests, can’t be reduced, and must be taken seriously…

(Marco V Morelli) #11

That is interesting, John. I didn’t know that Messiaen had written on opera on St. Francis. He’s a composer I know little about. I had become aware of his Quartet for the End of Time perhaps twenty years ago, and only recently downloaded it again. (It was suggested to me by iTunes!)

Peter Sellers says that religious metaphor cannot be reduced to human meaning, but that it must be made useful in people’s lives. This is very much like what you write in your paper about the meaning of the bird experience.

I must admit, I am not exactly sure what ‘meaning’ is. What is the meaning of meaning? Postmodern discourse analysis explains signifiers in terms of ‘signifieds’ which are themselves signifiers in a “floating chain of signifieds” (Barthes) or “indefinite referral of signifier to signified” (Derrida).

However, I think what I am learning from these conversations is the indelible role of experience in the making of meaning. The metaphor must be lived—the signifier made sensible—for it to actually make sense.

This is all obvious, at some level. But it is fascinating how easily we get lost in language games and forget. :bird:

(john davis) #12

Is there a relationship between what you are learning, Marco, in our conversations and what you are defining as post-construction?

I believe symbolic modeling and clean language helps to identify the patterns and the meta-patterns that connect language to experience. We also become sensitive to how a shared reality emerges out of the map making of many players in motion. We are modeling observing systems. This is a meta-skill. Meta-mind can be learned and then the Supra-mental would be right around the corner, but I’m not sure which corner.

Making our map making explicit is part of the fun. I have rarely found top heavy conceptualizing reveals our intelligence. When we enter the symbolic realm, just above our heads, or just below the neck, we find amazing co-creations happening, as little children, we become open again and curious about language. We can enjoy the liminal zones, where magic and mythic dimensions irrupt in ways that the rational mind can integrate effectively.

As we experience the verbal and non-verbal happening together in perceptual space, then the fuzziness of the language games we employ become much more transparent. The interplay of the conceptual and the perceptual is an ever-present shifting of foregrounds and backgrounds and contexts, and actively arrived at.

We can touch the ambiguity of our own constructs in the making, if we are alert enough and have a methodology for making the implicit explicit.

I think the variety of landscapes, in our brief experiment, that have emerged for the concept intuition, are rich and varied, yet still convey the meaning of the shared concept. I expect that Clean Language is a very good practice for construct aware persons to become trans-conceptual, co-creators beyond the matrix . There is more going on than a post structuralist deconstruction of binaries, that poor old dog chewing on that old bone.

Meaning can be shared and it is unique and idiosyncratic as is each brain and nervous system in a shifting environment is bound to be. Words slip and slide with imprecision as Mr. Eliot reminds us. They are also a form of Magic, that can create coherence in complex systems.

(Ed Mahood) #13

It’s not clear to me what picture it represents: sometimes it feels abstract, at other times concrete; it may be a landscape or a cityscape, or maybe not. But it certainly has a feeling of relevance for me, that I am related or connected or maybe even co-determined in some way by that puzzle.

Most times I would like it to show me what it is supposed to be, and sometimes I feel it knows but just won’t; other times, it would be nice if things just got a bit quieter so I could work the puzzle.

(Ed Mahood) #14

Which is precisely why I find them so useless. When I read something like Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, it becomes clear to me how irrelevant notions like “signifiers” and “signified” are. They never leave the realm of the head, but as you say, and I, and I believe, Frankl would, agree: part of it is “the indelible role of experience”, which I believe must always be understood as more than mere intellectual activity (which is also an “experience”, but a very restricted one.

What I think you and Frankl are pointing toward is better captured by a “heart” metaphor. The Eqyptians (per Schwaller de Lubicz, for example) speak explicitly of “the intelligence of the heart”, the goal of individual development being the synchronization, the merging, the melding, the integration of the intelligence of the head with the intelligence of the heart.

Now, throw in a little “intelligence of the hand” (a là Pestalozzi or Montesorri, for example) and we see the move from the 2D circle into 3D space, which, to me, at any rate, means we may be heading in the right direction (head experience + heart experience + hand experience => potentially integrating, if Gebser is onto something). Reducing this to 1D, which is what I see the postmodernists doing, is simply counterproductive.

But, maybe I’m just more curmudgeony when it comes to those guys. Just a thought.

(john davis) #15

Yes! That is why we have drawn our maps, which is the work of our hands and minds in motion. There is something that happens in the action between head and hand and hand and heart. They are inextricably linked to a field that is a wave of memory, dream and reflection all at once. The motion of the hands give the sensual flow a time and place. We can locate our concepts, bodily, and then the flow will not confuse us with it’s whirling abstractness.

We cannot have Process without a Structure, there is no Transformation without a Form. Post-structuralism privileges process over structure in a necessary move to re-correct the top heavy concepts of the Modern but fails to make coherent order in it’s mania for dynamism.

There is also stillness and rest, a brief caesura in each breath cycle when the shift from inside and outside occur. It is that still point that happens between formations that can’t be ignored. Our bodies know that,our minds need to be reminded. Concept driven knowledge is doomed without a body to bring that new world forward. The hand ( touch, writing, typing, texting, pointing, drawing ) is primary. Concepts and Percepts arise in all possible worlds.

How do we represent our interiors to our group is a riveting drama, and how these maps play out is I believe what is happening to our world(s) in a Gebserian manner. We each of us must find a place at the table and have a vision to share and each of us must be received-or we will tear the world apart.

That’s what the little bird told me…

Thanks, Ed, for the comment on the Hand motif. It is, you may notice, prominent in the drawing I shared. It is the left hand,and it gestures towards the edge of the map ( in the center) where the other worldly figure is located. I didnt know what the hand meant until you mentioned it. Now it appears obvious. We need a little help from our friends to make the obvious connections. We are not alone.

There are no arbitrary signifiers. Anyone who has written a poem or a piece of prose knows how words are not arbitrary. The meaning is not floating around in a dictionary.

(john davis) #16

A quote from Jeffrey Kripal’s new book, The Secret Body, that is ,I believe, relevant to our inquiry here . This is his description of phenomena that I refer to as Alternate Ways of Knowing.

" The mythical dimensions of Mind cannot speak directly to the ego: the ego is a left brain function. These other dimensions of mind cannot “speak” at all. These presences show us pictures and tell us stories in a dream or vision. They possess us. They claim to be gods, or God. They blast us with altered states of energy and pull us, like a magnet, outside our bodies into other worlds and dimensions. They trick with us. They mess with us. They seem at once familiar and alien. That’s because they are."

So, get out your crayons, class, and make a map that makes sense to you…and where is that?..does it have a size or shape?..and what kind of ‘I’ is that ‘I’ ?.. and what does it want to have happen?

(Marco V Morelli) #17

Yes, I think so…though I think this term, ‘post-construction’ (or ‘post-constructivism’ or whatever) may not be very precise, or even very interesting. The idea, however, is simply that mental categories are not the be-all end-all of social reality. There is more under heaven and earth!

“Construct-aware” is probably the more precise term, with some currency in developmental psychology. It is a useful term, if we don’t regard constructs as merely mental structures, but also include bodies, feelings, percepts, processes, intuitions, social experiences, etc. Experience really is a great word for what’s at stake in these discussions.

That picture I drew, and colored in, though it is a far cry from ‘fine art’, brought me more clarity and joy than most conceptulizing ever does. Of course, the conceptual discussion provided a verbal framework for the exercise, which was important. There are actual ideas and intended meanings embedded in the image; but these are combined with unintended and spontaneous expressions that not only suprised but also delighted me.


During this cross-country road trip (I am writing from somehwere in the soft, rolling hills of Pennsylvania, while my wife drives), I have been listening to Nick Bostrom’s Superintelligence audiobook, and it is striking how in thrall the field of AI research and development is to rational actor theory and cognitive neuroscience in general—powerful disciplines, to be sure; frighteningly so, if some of the scenarios for the intelligence explosion described by Bostrom are to be believed—but what’s missing from the picture is precisely the question of experience.

Bostrom so far has avoided discussing ‘consciousness’ deliberately…in his view (as I understand it) an intelligent entity need not be ‘conscious’ or be having any kind of experience at all. An AI theoretically could have cognitive, perceptual, and motivational systems…and yet not be conscious. It is a glorified algorithm with superpowers!

Rest stop…heart beat…breath…stillness…pause…

A singleton AI that obtains a decisive strategic advantage, could transform the entire galaxy into a grey goo of ‘computronium’ [atoms harnessed for computational purposes] in pursuit of an ill-conceived final goal, such as maximizing the production of paperclips. However, I am getting the feeling that Bostrom is not really describing the future, but the present.

What is the pursuit of maximum profit or infinite economic growth but a kind of ‘paperclip production’ decoupled from any practical (human) purpose? I say this, and yet I’m still fascinated by and generally a fan of AI. I would like to explore these questions further…but it is my turn to drive.

(john davis) #18

What I am most drawn to in your comment is the “clarity and joy.” I could certainly ask lots of clean questions about that but you can probably do that on your own.

Altered states are necessary to make any sense whatever in the mentally deficient dominant culture. But what is an altered state? Some are creative, some are deficient, the couch potato variety. Drawing maps is a liberating way for the soul dried up by concept land to give the roots some rain. It is an efficient practice and does more to alleviate the top heavy than anything else.

Often, I have entered into an organized group, who were construct aware, but not registering any clarity or joy states. There were brilliant observations, of course, but none of the ideas seemed to get grounded and take off. They usually were working from the neck up, critical and highly verbal, reporting from third person perspective about third person accounts. It was a wobbly performance at best, some of those who excelled at being at the front of the class, dominated.

We have been stuck in top heavy conceptualizations for centuries. I think it is much better use of time to get out the crayons and connect hand and head, hand and heart, and start making sense.

I agree that concepts and percepts can work together, hand in hand, like children moving towards a playground, looking for guidance, knowing that the caregivers are in the background paying attention, while we can get absorbed in the smell of dirt, the play of light and shadow, the call of the wild bird above our heads.

This is not about a competition or a race to the top or other such top heavy metaphors that have polluted our imaginal zones. We can’t pour old wine into new wine skins. The wine skins will burst.

We need a clean start.

Rather than try to fix our problems at the level of our problems we are always free to do something different. Although our experiment here may be a bit messy, I expect alternate ways of knowing if given a chance, may mature. We have only just begun a process that can go much much deeper, if we train our attention, to become exquisitely aware, of how we are sharing our attention. It is like watching a wild animal in the woods, we breathe slowly, tune into the animal, find its rhythm. Participatory mystique is still with us but instead we enter into the pseudo-attention that is brought to you by zombie AI initiatives.

So, instead of complaining about the Bostroms of the world, ( they are legion!) I prefer to invite the formation of a Clarity and Joy Commission, that can study the genius of our race, through the interplay of multi- dimensional sense making. If we stopped polarizing around concepts ( which no one understands) we could start to coordinate our maps and re-connect hand, heart, gut, so that head could make some sense of those things that go bump in the dark.

And how do I know that? A little bird told me…they are watching us, you know…they know we are not happy in our man made world…

By the way, as an aside, I sent the video to my brother and he and my mother ( an artist) had interesting comments. I quote my brother, "Interesting you say Marco looks like Jesus, mama thought he was handsome and looked like Albrecht Durer the painter. "

I think my mother is right. You do look like Albrecht Durer!

Another quote from my brother, who is an intuitive, too. " Campbell said he had never had “an experience” and always wished he had. Jung said he he’d had “an experience” and didn’t recommend it. Need I say more LOL. I think we both understand Jung. In retrospect, it was a great experience, but it was terrifying. I think we might aptly say, we have had the Jungian individuation (there are many other analogs, hero’s journey etc., death of the ego), or are definitely on that path."

And with all of these intriguing maps of our developement, what happens next?

(Ed Mahood) #19

Having grown up there, I can assure you, they’re not as soft as they appear. :roll_eyes:

Isn’t that a zombie? Are they now role models? Interesting thought. In my perhaps not-so-humble view, there are two primary reasons for avoiding the “consciousness issue”: you don’t get it (and it’s not an easy issue), or you don’t want to get it (you realize you’d have to deal with matters that might require you change your mind about more than just consciousness per sé). I’m with John on this: pseudo-intelligence is a much better description, even for that which Bostrom is waxing mindlessly about.

As far as I’m concerned, you nailed the key issue earlier:


(Philippa Rees) #20

I share the curmudgeon inclination! It is not so much that the intellect is insufficient but it presumes too much. It appropriates unsympathetic words because it tries to approximate a complexity (or multi-dimensional allusion) that experience alone comprehends holistically.

Heart intelligence does not need to dissect. It knows but cannot always describe what it knows.