Cosmos Café: Transforming Language to Transform the World [3/6]


Philosopher and novelist, Lisa Maroski, offers provocative insights into the nature of paradox and language. Different cultures draw different boundaries between categories ( personhood, kinship, sentience) differently. Our categories have fuzzy, porous, or fractal boundaries. In order to create more transparent language, she insists we will need to make important shifts in category structure. To embrace and live in paradox (given our cultural abhorrence of it) might be uncomfortable, even terrifying. She invites us to consider that instead of pouring new wine into an old wine bottle we could pour it into a Klein bottle?


ALT DOWNLOAD LINK: Lisa-Maroski_Transforming-Language-to-Transform-the-World.pdf (154.0 KB)

Seed Questions

  • How do we move towards a more transparent language?
  • What is a Klein bottle?
  • How do we speak from Integral awareness, rather than about it?

Context and Backstory

Clean Language Session on Creativity:

Thunder handout.docx (894.0 KB)



Thanks for setting this up, John. I am looking forward to meeting Lisa and reading her work, and will certainly be there!


This looks totally fascinating! I can’t wait to hear more!


Of course, I’ll be there. Read the papers and watched the video (which a bit of sound editing would have been kinder to these old ears, but I think I got it all.)


I share some notes from our recent CL session with Lisa and Doug.

We model Creating at Your Best and develop a felt sense, and through map sharing, co-create a telepathic rapport. I hypothesize that this is a version of what Integral Awareness is like when " we tap into the more that is going on."

There is static and noise on this video as three persons in different time zones try to make sense. There are signals emerging from the techno shadow/light displays. We are learning to see, hear, touch in different ways. Kind of weird. The beginnings, perhaps, of new kinds of ways to create categories. We are modeling in motion. A trio of voices in different imaginal zones attempt to resonate with an evolutionary social system.

We answer with our silence.

Towards the end of the video Lisa asks, " What does Integral look like in non-Integral language?"

I wonder how can we tap into" the more that is going on"?

Doug says it is ethereal.

Maybe we can discover what happens next at our next cafe?


Hi there. First, I want to say Thank You for inviting me to participate with you. I really look forward to our conversation on Tuesday. In case you want to know more about me and about what I’m up to, more of my writing is on the Blog tab of my website I would recommend starting at the bottom (the very first posts) and working your way up to the more recent ones.

Also, if you have any questions that you would like me to answer…clarifications of anything in the articles or video (since the sound quality wasn’t great–sorry! the organizer’s computer crashed the day before the conference), post them here.

Also if there are particular topics you want to talk about, post that too. I want you to get what you want to get out of this.

And although I think we are developing toward being telepathic, I’m not there yet!!


Hi @Lisa, I have a quick question. I haven’t finished reading your paper on Rosen’s article (which I have also downloaded to read), but in the introduction, it seems to me that the ideas are at least partly grounded on those introduced by Korzybski in 1933 - but neither you nor Rosen cite Korzybski in your respective papers . I was wondering if this was intentional… perhaps Korzybski is not considered a “citable reference”, although given the importance of his oft-cited phrase “the map is not the territory” that would surprise me somewhat. It seems to me the Korzybski’s Science and Sanity (1933), although a bit of a slog to plow through, is one of the first works that proposes this idea that language should incorporate some explicit reference to the paradoxes that are implicitly present but rarely addressed. Comments?


Hi Geoffrey,

Thank you for pointing me to Korzybski. It is not a name I have come across, so his absence was not intentional. I found it on google books and will hopefully be able to find a somewhat reasonably priced copy to add to my reading list. I am a bit surprised that it wasn’t included in a small collection I have called The Limits of Language, which includes selections from the writings of scientists, as well as philosophers.



I checked back on my copy of Merleau-Ponty, and he didn’t cite Korzybski either. I looked also at Goodreads, there are a number of reviews there and almost everyone speaks very highly of the book, although I remember it had its slower parts, and like Teilhard, much of the science is outdated. However, Korzybski also writes about time in interesting ways, and for a Gebserian scholar it might be interesting to compare also that part of his work. My reading of Gebser is still too superficial to do the job - I now have a copy of The Ever Present Origin, but have not read it - I’ve only read commentaries on Gebser.

Interestingly, the Canadian science fiction writer A.E. Van Vogt wrote a trilogy concerned with Korzybski’s system - the “Null-A” books. “Null-A” is a reference to “non Aristotlian”. I think it was via Van Vogt’s books that I first encountered Korzybski, although I later met others who had read him. He was an interesting thinker/writer, and just like many people know a little about affordance theory but have never read Gibson, a lot of people know a little Korzybski without having read his book or even being aware of who he was.


There is a an abridged version of Korzybski available, Selections from Science and Sanity which provides a sound introduction to what he’s about, including the bit of a slog, but for a more reasonable price that S&S itself.


The only reason I know about Korzybski is because of Gregory Bateson’s frequent quotation of him, " The map is not the territory." To which Wilber added, " The map is a performance by the territory." This makes sense as we move between dimensions, we become aware that we are chronic map makers. And sometimes we make mistakes. We eat the menu rather than the meal.

We are trained to’ go meta’ perpetually in our scientistic culture which seems to me to lead us to a hyper-modern impasse. ‘Going meta’ becomes a transcendence without an immanence. Abstraction without concresence. Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon! The meta/trans fallacy is the mental structure and what could be the Integral awareness we all yearn for? It is the awareness we had when we were babies turning into toddlers, learning how to walk, before the talking started.

I imagine the Kleinian approach, outlined in Lisa’s paper, is less about 'going meta" but rather turning around, away from an externalized reality located" out there" and focusing attention upon the observer doing the observing, a more proprioceptive movement, a going inside, and then outside and then neither inside nor outside, a both and neither. It is like, going through the looking glass and realizing you are the looking glass and what is looking at and beyond the looking glass simultaneously as the personal pronoun ‘I’. That ‘I’ does not begin with language, it is a synesthesia, an overlapping interplay of senses in motion.

And when “I” let go of left and right and the right side drifts off which side is left? And which side is right? Proprioception allows each of us to make such distinctions from which our decisions can emerge. These are those templates our species gives us, each time we re-enter the human action arena, which break down each night when we fall asleep. This is not arbitrary as our social world(s) are not possible without such distinctions as up/down, left/right and these distinctions must be widely shared by many entities in many realms to make collective sense. Each species coordinates such activity in our mother’s wombs. Our sense of balance is coordinated by the vestibular system, the first system to appear, which happens in the inner ear. In the beginning there was movement. This isn’t arbitrary nor is it fixed. We can work around these supposed limits but how to put into words that make sense?

Dancers, athletes and lucid dreamers are attuned to this intelligence. As an active lucid dreamer/OBEer I can testify that a buzzing in the ears is the first sign that I am beginning to take off into other dimensions. I sense that something similar happens when I use a clean language question such as Where is that? Does it have a size or a shape? These are orientation questions that point out different features of our landscape than the conventional language games typically endorse. Such questions often have a’ dizzying effect.’

I am drawn to Lisa’s and Steven’s work because they are trying to make explicit some of the implications of chronically ignored aspects of our nature. And they are doing this phenomenologically. It must become first person first before second or third can arise. We cut off first person and rely heavily on third person accounts.

Merleau-Ponty is the most adept, perhaps, at focusing attention on the missing kinesthetic intelligence that atrophies in most of our discourse. Returning to and remembering this deeply forgotten and repressed propriocetive/kinesthetic interplay could wake us up! A lucid waking up! The linguistic consensus trance, which traps our tempo- rhythms in conventional 9to 5, 24/7 language game creates neuro-muscular lock down which becomes the norm.

A few nights ago I had a puzzling dream. I had in one hand a sock and in another hand a glove. What I wondered can I do with this pair of objects?

A brief video helps to make sense perhaps of this often ignored aspect of our nature, which I believe is the background knowledge that we draw upon to make communal sense.


Yes, found it and have ordered a copy.

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Looking like I will not be able to make this discussion, yet may appear closer than I am.

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Once again, sorry that I had to leave the conversation so suddenly. That’s not how I like to work, but sometimes life simply makes demands that have to be met.

I would have liked to have said godspeed to Lisa, of course: do keep at what you’re doing, do more of it when you can, and don’t forget the art. The world can use more of what you’re trying to do.


Unto Your Body Rocking.

And where does language come from? What are the roots that clutch? You contain multitudes, my friends. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

And that sound you made? …where does that sound come from?


And whereabouts inside?

Lisa makes a non verbal communique from the field, you can hear it in this brief exchange. ( sounded to me, like a morning dove but that is a meta-comment that is from my model of the world and I offer here not as a truth but as an example of where I am coming from in this moment…) As a modeler, I am alert to verbal and non verbal communications and am keeping track of this and bring our attention to that non verbal and ask developing questions. I am also alert to patterns and the patterns within and between patterns… and to beauty…and to the evolving aesthetic relationships that emerge as we explore our maps of the world…

Lisa locates that sound in her perceptual space and then we develop further. This is to make the implicit, explicit. We are drawing upon vast imaginal resources. We are with the fourth dimension ( and possibly fifth) and the third at the same time. We have a center and an access to the field. We can use language not as expression but as a tool for modeling. This, I submit, is the future of language.

We can, by modeling the self system, as observer-participants, contact the stranger within, that generates language ( and a whole lot more!) We are, I believe, collectively at the cusp of ‘third order’ systems thinking and I submit that this exchange from our modelling session, as an example of what happens when we come from an Integral-Aperspectival awareness, a shared proprioception.

This is a skill we all have access to. Can this skill be operationalized? This skill, I assume, is not algorithmic and never will be! It requires human presence to process at these depth levels.

How can we prevent the unfeeling and un-intuitive and non-conscious automatisms of the Spin-Meisters from stealing your soul?

We can model the Self and recover our metaphorical landscapes and increase our capacities to re-enter the fourth dimension with confidence and precision. We are Klein bottles all the way down.


That MMmmmm sound reminds me of @Dougginsshwoop (sp?) (for the sound of intuitive knowing) from this talk here: Cosmos Café: Alternate Ways of Knowing [12/12]

Is this the creativity of language in the act? The birth of words from weird twists of experience?

We talked a bit about constructed languages. @Lisa, are you (or is anyone else) familiar with the musician / filmmaker / artist Stuart Davis? Here’s a really nice presentation of his created language, IS, which brings together vertical (depth), horizontal (orientation), and creative (expressive) dimensions of commun(ion)ication with a sort of calligraphic meta-aware aesthetic.


Here is the essay you mentioned, Ed, a gift from Lisa. I hope we will all get a look at it and perhaps discuss at our next cafe. As we dont have a topic yet it might be a good thing to follow up with.The Grammatical Mirror.docx (70.0 KB)


Excellent! Thank you, @Lisa, very kind of you to share.

I suspected that Aaron Cheak had already translated this little Gebser gem. I certainly would be up for talking about it, particularly in light of the last CCafé session with Lisa.


One of the things Lisa discusses in her papers, more so, in fact, than does Rosen, and that we didn’t get into in the online conversation, is the relative importance of inconsistency. This is something I think we need to look at more closely. Lisa discusses some alternative logics that allow for partial inconsistency. At one point she says, “culturally, inconsistency is almost taboo”. She goes on to underline that « However, Gödel’s second theorem formalized that a complete system cannot prove its consistency, implying that a complete system entails inconsistency. » I have long considered the « tyranny of consistency » to be one of the banes of our discourses. My personal devise, that I put as a reference at the bottom of my emails, is that « The first right of a human is to be inconsistent ». It defies political correctness, neoliberalism, and, indeed, any attempt to control people, to treat people as if we were machines. Human beings are profoundly inconsistent! However, this has both its up and its down sides. Certainly the downsides have been widely emphasized. Inconsistency can be taken to mean « anything goes », but like all things, in the extreme it doesn’t work. However, there is such a thing as a « healthy dose of inconsistency ».


I’m seeing a suggestion that we read Gebser’s “The Grammatical Mirror” for Tuesday 3/13.

It’s been a while since we’ve discussed Gebser directly. I’m printing the paper out now and would certainly up for it.