Cosmos Café -- Deja vu all over again ... or another spin of the wheel? [2023-01-26]

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It’s Cosmos Café time again!

'Tis been more than while, that’s for sure: the summer came and went, the golden glow of autumn has faded, and both the solemnity and gaiety of the Christmas season is behind us; in fact a whole new year and more is before us! Seems like a good time to get face-to-face again, even if only virtually.

This is a heartfelt invitation to any and all to stop by and catch up or just introduce yourself.

Hope to see (or at least hear) you there!

Reading / Watching / Listening

Nothing in particular … even if I did propose at least one possible thread of activity … for this get-together is more about reconnecting with any and all of the old stalwarts and hopefully enticing some of the more recent Cosmonauts on the site to jump in to help us get organized again, or even, dare I say, chart a new course.

Seed Questions

  • What get-togethers or projects do you have in mind that could be realized on our platform here?
  • Are there any books or other works of art you might like to experience with other like-minded souls?
  • Do you have any other, creative ideas that would benefit from some wholesome human interaction?

Context, Backstory, and Related topics


R (2)

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Some cautious comments. I respond to the sincerity in your messages and I hope my response reaches each of you in good spirits after so many obstacles unfolded during 2021-2022. It feels like an unwanted initiation, being thrust into a theme and variations I don’t like much.

As we start to move across a threshold towards a new reality structure, the current system we are leaving throws all kinds of shit storms, trying to keep us in a despondent status quo. These tensions are necessery in our human forms so that we can make sense of sudden change. Too much change can kill us. Not enough change can kill us. We are creatures of the middle ranges, our percieved reality ( the senses five) are just a tiny spectrum from which we can co-create, re-structure, re-model. But we have to have a good enough ego that can serve the momentum of these more complex configurations that are waiting in the darkness to bring forth so great an object ( hyper-object?) onto so small a stage and become a coherent performance. As Jesus said in the heretical gospel of St. Thomas," If you bring forth that which is within you that which is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth that which is within you that which is within you will destroy you." Does this feel familiar? I have borrowed some good ideas but have suddenly forgotten my lines, the lights are too bright, the dark audience is waiting nervously.

I’m moving towards a more coherent world view as I embrace the works of Dr. Ibrahim Karim ,a researcher into ancient Egyptian architecture and a practitioner of a physics of qualities. His recent book is Hidden Realities, which I find highly compatible with my mostly right brained, artistic drive towards integration of opposites. His work is less philosophical and more of a how to manual. In various media and through different mediums I persevere. I like using word-gestures, tones, metaphors, analogies.

The Human Experience for me has always been full of struggle as I have been swept up into social movements, artistic movements, and fierce political battles with high risk and uncertain outcomes. I am an old warrior with a wounded body trying to work out the kinks in my psychological armour… It aint easy. Somatic intelligence is hard to nurture in this hostile AI take over.

Dr. Karim’s Biogeomtery is an esoteric study that draws upon Steiner, Goethe, and many others. I’m immersed in this work right now. The center is a point and as we move towards it the point turns into a circle with another point. The point at the center is transcendent and we don’t touch it with our five senses but with our trans-physical senses we can know this. The artist knows this experience as we try to use senses which do not stay confined in pandora’s box but find constant re-imaginings through emerging boundary conditions. The human form is where these boundary conditions happen. Dr. Karim in a lot of on line lectures and three good books outlines a new curriculum for a science of qualities. I would recommend if anyone is curious that this is a strong contrast to Markus Gabiel’s book, which is excellent in its own way, but in my view stays stuck in the same sticky speculative realist status quo many of us are trying to get out of.

I had the good luck to meet Markus G at the Helix Center before the pandemic. When I questioned him about his theory he gave me a surprisingly honest and very political answer. With a man like Trump in power, with institutions crumbling, philosophers had to commit to an adamant, realist response.He said that since Monism is false and dualism is unjustified some kind of modernized pluralism is necessery. This is necessery to combat Trump’s post-truth orientation.

And when Monism is false and dualism is unjustified…what would you like to have happen?

A modernized pluralism sounds like a reprise of what is already happening, a deficient mental strangle hold. Markus is not a vulgar physicialist but somewhere in between. His book, I could probably re-read but only with Dr. Karim’s healthy magic by my side. He is working with vital energies from the the body and beyond which Markus G is not. I am for a neo-Archaic pluralism that goes beyond the current stuck states we are all mired in. Bellah and Aurobindo would assist, too.

And in a shattered world I find little but art to make sense of the parade of losses. My younger brother and my mother both passed away during the pandemic of 21-22. Signs are that another pandemic might be moving towards us. The electo-smog of our devices, and not a virus is in large part the the culprit. We have learned little it seems in the last debacle as the same impasses bedevil us.

However, I find beauty in the struggle and the only antidote to the suffering of so many in countless worlds, human and other than human. And with that sober reflection I offer a video of a performance of perfect balance in human form not an AI infatuation. A dancer/ philosopher is what I need now. That’s what I’m working with. I tune into the worlds of the dying swans. Wish me luck. May the force be with us.


Good to “hear” your voice again, @johnnydavis54, and thanks for the reports about your meeting with Markus Gabriel, your recent researches, and everything else…

While I’m still waiting for my interlibrary loan copy of Why The World Does Not Exist, another book by Gabriel, The Power of Art, has come in. It’s really just a long essay, and I’m mostly through it. And I would say… it’s OK, I don’t really disagree with his argument (which is for the autonomy of Art vis-a-vis its social-political embeddedness), but nor am I finding his writing/thinking particularly deep or compelling.

J.F. Martel in Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice makes a much stronger case for the same point, actually conveying something more of the felt-sense “power” of art (witness that incredible Swan Song performance) through his words, which Gabriel mostly fails to do.

So I am little skeptical regarding the “New Realism” Gabriel is proposing. Ezra Pound said, “Make it new,” back in the 1930s… but it seems to me, here in the 2020s, everything supposedly “new” actually feels pretty same old same old. On the face of it, as a formulation, Roy Bhaskar’s Critical Realism, which some integralists have previously engaged with (though I have not) strikes me as potentially a more fruitful middle way between old-school empiricisms and constructivisms.

That said, one of the books I’ve been reading lately, which I’ve had on the shelf for years and finally found the time for, is really touching on some deep and currently relevant questions for me (and for this whole Cosmic enterprise, it would seem) and that’s Lewis Hyde’s classic, The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World. Have any of you read it?

Not only does The Gift diagnose the fraught modern relationship between commerce and creativity, but it is also erudite and beautifully written, covering not just aesthetics and philosophy of art, but also some of the same anthropological ground that, for example, David Graeber’s work got into, around the gift economies of tribal societies. There would be plenty to discuss in each chapter.

I am not against another argument in favor of a consciousness-based ontology—but what if we finally accept those arguments and move on? Now we are in consciousness—and who cares what the reductionists and materialists think anymore? They are not listening to us anyway. I’m happy to let Bernado Kastrup fight that fight; he is much better suited to it.

I am here to make art. And somehow, I also have to make a living, support a family, and gift-forward something of value to future generations, in challenging times to say the least. That is what speaks to me in The Gift. Even the late, great David Foster Wallace, who was averse as all hell to any kind of marketing-speak, offered a blurb for the book:

The Gift actually deserves the hyperbolic praise that in most blurbs is so empty. It is the sort of book that you remember where you were and even what you were wearing when you first picked it up. The sort that you hector friends about until they read it too. This is not just formulaic blurbspeak; it is the truth. No one who is invested in any kind of art, in questions of what real art does and doesn’t have to do with money, spirituality, ego, love, ugliness, sales, politics, morality, marketing, and whatever you call ‘value,’ can read The Gift and remain unchanged.”
—David Foster Wallace

But I am no rush to introduce it, and remain open to other possibilities. I’m just planting the seed here, in case it may be of interest to others. If we read or discuss something else first (I will still check out Gabriel’s book on ontology), I would just re-introduce it later in the year, because I definitely do want to host a Café-style reading of it at some point.


Let me share some of my misgivings and reluctance to get involved again with the Cafe. Zak Stein says we live in a society where teachers have lost authority and this is the major crisis we are experiencing as a culture. Students have turned into customers who can give a thumbs down on a teacher if the class is too hard. The teacher can be fired. And when a student is paying a fortune to get an education to get a job in a tight labor market then they have a right to expect something they can easily market. So, what happens next? We all get dumber and dumber.

Now, we live in a world where confusion hath made his masterpiece. We are training brain surgeons who don’t want to study basic anatomy. This controversy happened recently at NYU. The next generation may be the stupidest in history. They have googled everything and can get a robot to write their papers. We are all of us, at Cosmos Cafe, refugees from the current collapse.

Can peer to peer community still happen during this collapse? The Cafe has been a healthy trend but you can’t really do much connection in a zoom call with a gallery view of heads in boxes. I doubt that inviting more talking heads to join us is a solution to our delimma. Our culture breeds enough shallow encounters. I look for quality rather than quantity. But I am not looking for customers. I have nothing to sell.

Recently, I went to a post-pandemic party, the first party I’d been to in years. It was thrilling! Real people in real time without masks or social distancing with plenty of food and drink, brilliant communications with mathematicians, novelists, musicians, artists, young people and retirees. Very high culture, the pulse of freedom was palpable. Nothing on zoom can compare to that rich experience.That used to be the norm but I worry that it is dying out. Young people can teach certain kinds of skills, and older people can refine what they know and share it. But these online forums are under stress. The Cafe has been dark for a year. Can we really re-light the candle? Warm up the cave? And whatever happened to the idea of reading William Irwin Thompson,that neglected, almost forgotten Sage?

These reflections on self-education and culture are happening at 4am in Manhattan. I am wide awake. I go to bed around 9pm and get up early before dawn. My tempo rhythms are changing. My urinary problems, which troubled me last year, are gone. My digestion is good, a very clean diet, no alcohol, no medications, and cognition is working fine inspite of great tragedy in my personal life last year. My mood is elevated. I take cold baths frequently. If anything, I suffer from hyperarousal by the electomagnetic disturbances in my hectic enviornment.

Even though I have a lot on my plate right now, reading Proust with a live group, Biogeometry course, perhaps restarting this Cafe, amd adjusting my participation in other online forums which to be honest are not that interesting to me anymore. Also, I am taking care of an dear freind with Parkinsons and most of my elder neighbors need assistance with major health problems. I continue to protect my solitude which is necessery skill for survival. My generation is dying fast, the circle of care is shrinking. I feel the evolutionary pressure. I am the last of the bohemians.

I can do a lot of work on my own and since most of my interests are esoteric few humans on the planet can help me. I have my own personal curriculum and the clock is ticking. If have a decade I will be very lucky. Two decades would be a miracle. My mother lived to 91 and would have lived longer but she was in an autobmobile accident, struck by a teenager who ran a red light. After that accident, her health declined quickly. If I live to ninety ( I’m turning 69 next week) that won’t happen unless I want it to happen. I am becoming, as I suspect most of us are in what is left of Cafe society, Self-Initiated, which is a concept I borrow from Rudolf Steiner. The Internet has obselesced the Guru Model. That means we have an increased responsiblity to make groups work coherently under extreme stress.

I have cancelled plans to travel to Europe this spring and am worried that I shall never see Rome, I’ve seen Paris, London, Amsterdam, but I still yearned to see Italy. Travel is no longer the pleasure it once was and is risky. My last trip I got sick shortly after. My world is shrinking.

And I am aware of new aches and pains and am thinking about getting a massage therapist to work out the kinks in my sore muscles. After a recent fall my left shoulder is in a crunch. The pandemic has cut us off from our bodies as well a most kinds of social discourse. I walk a lot every day, go to the gym, and read voraciously the Times and the Wall St Journal as well as tons of books. New York is surrounded by dead men walking. It’s turning into a zombie zone, humans becoming robots who want to sell you something. Every thing is self-service, you need a bar code. I am an outlaw because I unplug my smart phone and never carry it with me. Since I don’t care about being highly functional in zombie world, I do my best to share a good vibe. And some people catch it and graciously toss me a good vibe, a nod, a smile, a peace sign flashed from a stranger in a car at a red light, waiting for me to cross the street. Some random thoughts as the sun rises in the East, the angelic realms briefly open up the horizon. I go to sit on my firescape, sip coffee, catch the first rays, coming through the thick haze, from the solar God. Life is good.

These are certain signs to know
Faithful friend from flattering foe.



I hear you, John. We all have to find a balance that works for us. Real life is much better than the virtual. Small is beautiful.

Yet too small easily dies out, and too old sooner rather than later. Too local gets too insular, and too global dilutes. I want worthwhile conversations, and I want to co-create a space that makes cultural community available for the future, that sustains quality in era when most things are fleeting and disposable.

When I die I’ll know that something of what I’ve created lives on. I’ll have received the gift and done my part to pass it on. It will be more than worth it. Yet how much better to have friends, comrades, and collaborators along the way.




And the too young need to be protected. I hear you, too, Marco. I no longer have to fight for my daily bread, so I can afford to become post-conventional. The young are not conventional yet and the middle aged are the most conventional as they have to do the heavy lifting. And there are invisible hazards, slippery slopes, false starts, and different ways to re-enter the Klein bottle. The only thing we take with us are the changes we make in our sublte bodies. Those changes belong to us. Everything else is ephemera, rubies, emralds and bit coins tossed into the air. I’ve built my ship of death and I’m ready to move on.


My God! It’s stunning to see such beauty of form and spirit in the body of a 61 year old woman, thank you.

I agree with everything you’ve written here, John, in your several deeply relevant to our humanity- in- a- crumbling- world comments, and am glad to have your “voice” in my “ear” again…

“We never see the actual raindrop…we have raindrop-thoughts…” Timothy Morton


Yes, I read The Gift, long ago, and yes I continue to re-experience its shining truths every day.
If we can’t come up with another book for a reading-aloud/discussion follow up to SYIOD, maybe this one?
I am currently re-reading Tim Morton’s Dark Ecology which is one of the most brilliant books ever, but for some, impenetrable. One of my close friends began it, but couldn’t keep going. When I asked him why not he said that he lost faith in Morton’s sincerity, felt he was kind of showing off with word-play, etc.
I saw Tim once, part of Laurie Anderson’s brilliant video/lecture series. He is the avatar of sincerity, shy and humble even while being brilliant, a wonderful combination. Lewis Hyde, I don’t know as much about, but if we can judge a person by their best writing, he’s up there with Tim.
What do you think?


“Turning something from an idea into a reality can make it seem smaller. It changes from unearthly to earthly. The imagination has no limits. The physical world does. The work exists in both.”
From The Creative Act: A Way of Being


It seems to this Humble Creature of Creation, Uncertainty is a Very Certain Juice ,
I have come to Accept as a Way to Participate with/in this Small Life of Michael, this
is a decision/choice that has helped with the"Intense Mutation" moment and has " lowered
the Fear/Anxiety that comes with So Much Fucking Shit, this Small Life Form can’t Comprehend and maybe I don’t need to? The Wave is Great!


I’m all for it, @Ariadne! I’ve read some of Morton’s work on “hyperobjects,” and I think once had Dark Ecology checked out from the library, but didn’t get to it, or didn’t finish it. I’ll put on my night-vision sunglasses and give it another lookey-see.

I definitely do want to read The Gift, too, but not necessarily right away. Like @Michael_Stumpf, I’m happy to surf the uncertainty for a bit longer and see what really wants to happen.

Cowabunga, dudes and dudettes!

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A riff on vibrations and variations. In this video posted below ( about six months old) I muse upon a new kind of cultural weave in motion as new symbolic landscapes are co-evolving. We see a a moody, young, black musician (Lamar) in a communication with an older, white lady ( played by a glowing Helen Mirren) They meet in a formal setting which suggests a clash of styles could happen but its uncertain. Is she a counselor? An educator? A talent scout? After a sequence of scenes in the desert, with Lamar taking on a messianic archetypal energy, we might think this is less about civilization crash and more about transitions from one kind of civilization to another one. Lamar claims he is not easily categorized. He says he is doing human music. I would say he is emerging out of a titanic struggle to keep this ship of fools afloat. Lamar, who is a devout Christian, is bringing forth a new complex, form of socialization that is happening as music, body, tech, re-model our capacity for touch, seeing, hearing. We breath in percepts, we breath out concepts. And I would suggest that Lamar is post-post modern. He is beyond identity politics and does not fall into grandiosity. I would categorize him as a dynamic meta-modern performer. He’s not a thug. This is conscious rap.

Timothy Morton once spoke of the dangers of information dumping. Most of the internet and social media seems dominated by this unfortunate trend. I hope we will avoid this as the temptation is great to slip into labeling and dismissing. My motivation in sponsoring Lamar is because I don’t like rap music but I have to open up and resonate with the stranger. If we only read or listen to what we like already we are will be trapped in our isolated egos in our isolated silos which are catching on fire. Does anyone know where the exit is? I smell smoke.

Morton has a wonderful series of lectures on Blake and other romantics. I think Lamar comes out of this tradition. This is what is coming at me as I try to re-focus attention on what the next iteration of a more vibratory Cafe might become.

"What does it enhance or intensify?
What does it render obsolete or displace?
What does it retrieve that was previously obsolesced?
What does it produce or become when pressed to an extreme? "-The Laws of Media

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Thank U John for these words,visual, & musical Expressions, it seems to give a interesting

Which lands on/in these Sensitive Ears as not to be so Certain what the Unknown
is growing & the polarity of +/- is Permeable which seems to Reveal a Wholeness that
is Trustworthy in Uncertain Times. The Important One Thing is as U have pointed out;
What is the Quality of One’s Attention when Interacting,Interconnecting,Interrelating,
Etc. the Inter, liminal, & Bardo of Movement (Vibrations we receive & make…).
OIP (1)


I Hear Your Heart John!


Your questions are my questions, Johnny. Gracias mas gracias for the links to more Tim than I realized existed and other things I have now in my pocket when needed.
The song sparrow exulted just now outside this screen!


Just a note regarding this Thursday that I’ve added some call-in options to the Zoom link in @achronon’s original post above.

Also: Why the World Does Not Exist is finally ready for me to pick up at the library, so I will at least have the chance to give it a quick glance before we talk.

Finally, just thought I’d share this recent episode of Weird Studies I particularly enjoyed. I am an extreme novice when it comes to the tarot, and hermeticism in general… but the more I learn, the more I want to learn. Wouldn’t mind hearing a little more from our wise elders (or Fools? :wink: ) on your experience with this subject.

As a bonus, JF drops in a little excerpt (around 47 minutes in) from Brian George’s Masks of Origin, which we published last year. Also potentially of interest, Brian’s talk with Layman Pascal on “The Integral Stage.” It starts a bit slowly perhaps, but picks up energy as the two build resonance and rapport…


YES I was Young once, I am playing with my Second Innocence ( the Child of Ig-norance-clouds has grown a New Heart from the experience &
the Fool card of Tarot seems to give some needed Truth about how to
relate to the Death card…it seems?)

The podcast was the inspiration for:


And what determines wise elders from Fools?

I’m mindful of the warning not to throw pearls before swine. Why am I reluctant to revive a Cafe that has been dormant for so long? .There is probably a good reason for that reluctance. And it may have something to do with protection. Is this a safe space?


I breathe in the rose light into the heart center.
I breath out the rose light in the heart center.
I find the center point of the heart center and let the point become an expanding rose light from the throat to the diaphram. Relax. Feel the warmth of the rose light from heart in the hands and in the feet.

I go to sleep tuning into the ArchAngel Michael. During the first wave of sleep I dream. I hear a voice from an invisible presence and the voice dictates to me-

Number one. There is one light for each device.

I write this down in a flowing script with my dream hand ( a script which I can’t produce with my device) I notice the words go from a black ink to a silver hue which starts to fade. My memory of the words are locked in as I awaken, on my back, hands on chest, looking into the darkness ( I wear an eye mask)

I sit in a chair and tune into the statement which I have written on a white board next to my computer. I go back to bed and sleep. In the inbetween I focus upon the nature of transmission itself, and cosmos as communication networks, and language and culture. I get a garbled dreamscape full of strange symbols, becoming a lizard, crawling upon the grave of a powerful woman who has been buried, women are dancing, celebrating her powers. Being lizard feels normal. I see a rope and know it is a rope and not a snake. Below this burial mound is the body of the powerful woman. I feel a great communal effort between worlds is happening.

I will not bother trying to communicate what happened next. I do not feel this can happen correctly in writing and will not attempt that. It could be hazardous.

In the Corpous Hermetica there is a long dialogue between Hermes and his son.

When men quit the body, the soul ascends to its own place and is seperated by the vital spirit; and the mind is seperated from the soul.
What do you mean, father, by the mind seperated from the soul?
My son, the learner ought to share in his teachers thought; he should be quicker in his listening than the teacher is his speaking.

And when, Marco, your deceased grandmother told you," You will lose everything." …

Is there a relationship between what your deceased grandmother told you and the Death Card in the Tarot?

This would be, in my humble evaluation, a creative place to start the next iteration of the infinite conversation. The conversation could become more concrete, less prone to arid abstractions , and take the pressure off of the wise elders to be say something wise. This is, as Blake said, where angels fear to tread.

And let’s not throw any of our pearls before swine.


Thanks for the link to the talk, I really enjoyed it, especially when it got more personal toward the end of the talk. Relationships with the dead are or can be incredibly rich and, as one of the speakers said, it is tragic when people dismiss the possibility and miss out on beautiful and challenging aspects of a real relationship with friends, family and even people we’ve never met, know only through their art/writing. Many of my Muses are artists/poets who died long ago. I do also have Muses who are not human…such as many kinds of birds, animals, plants, and elementals, eg, the moon, the sea, the stars…
Tarot readings became a familiar event in my life when I was with my partner, Charlie, who was a Tarot reader in our community, held gatherings every FUll Moon at Midnight. His method was very eclectic and intuitive, not following any one approach, and tailored to each person who asks a question. I am a novice/non-practitioner, but because of Charlie, I know there is something real there. He had more than a dozen decks, including the Native American one, which was among my favorites…