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

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speaks very highly of the book, although I remember it had its slower parts, and like Teilhard, much of the science is outdated.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.


Works for me, I have started reading it also.


Is there someone volunteering to set up a page for our Grammatical-Mirror session? Or is my asking what was understood in the military as “volunteering”?

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I nominate you, Ed, to set up the page. You already know the text and so you can give us a head start. Thanks!

a little Korzybski without having read his book or even being aware of who he was.

I found this talk by Nora Bateson for those who have an interest in maps and territories. Her book, Small Arcs of Larger Circles, is a move towards third order systems thinking.This might be a topic for a future Cosmos Cafe. For those who have a third ear let them hear!


Thank you all for these delicious comments and videos.

I just watched the Stuart Davis video and was delighted to see a kind of “depth dimension” in his conlang. Granted it didn’t encompass the type of paradox that Steve Rosen says is implicit in the depth dimension, but it is a step in an interesting direction. There are similar such systems of new language being experimented with all around the globe.

I think that as we increase the “dimensionality” of language (my website’s tagline is “taking language broadband”) we will use more ways to signify—whether it’s color, two (or more) dimensional graphic structure for “writing” or more use of the whole body for “saying”—is hard to predict at this point. Or we may evolve different types of languages for different contexts. Certainly, not much extra is needed to order a hamburger, fries, and a Coke, but certainly much more is needed to convey the multiple layers and mutual dependencies of an ecosystem, such as a pond.

Back in college I was interested in General System Theory. I thought it was such a good idea, and I couldn’t understand why it didn’t get better traction in the world of ideas. Decades later it dawned on me that it might not have become more widespread because we didn’t have a way to talk about systems that could convey the complexity—the layers, the interrelationships that were so much more than Subj-verb-Obj —especially if you considered the “parts” and the “wholes” to be sentient. In order for us to deal with the big issues of climate change, we need to have a language that can convey relationality in ways that aren’t just a reductionistic one-way-linear-causality. Yes, feedback loops, feedforward loops, but what about how what happens on a “sub” level affects a “supra” level (or maybe even skips a level and affects things two levels of wholeness “above” or “below” it, the way a recessive gene skips a generation (and spatial metaphors like “above” and “below” and their attendant assumptions would have to be altered, new terms invented).

I look forward to discussing the Gebser. I have often wanted to introduce new prepositions into English. When was the last time we got a new preposition??? A lot longer ago than we got new nouns and verbs!



Hi Lisa, I’m glad to see your reply. As it happens, my wife Kayla and I, and our two daughters, 8 and 4, watched the Conlanging film last night, which you mentioned in our last talk. Well, the little one fell asleep, but our older was enthralled (running to the kitchen to get a slice of pizza because she didn’t want to miss any) and I LOVED IT. What a fantastic—inclusive, educational, entertaining—feature on people who’s meaning-making manifests through such linguistic creativity. Highly recommended to anyone with a passion for language who hasn’t seen it yet.

Of course, I’d heard of Esparanto, and have read Tolkein, etc., but I had NO IDEA that a whole sub-culture exists of people dedicated to creating such a diversity of crafted tongues. It’s very cool to see them speaking their languages so fluently, and all the art and tangible artifacts they create to animate the worlds invoked by their words.

Glad you’ll be reading Gebser with us, too. And I wonder, have you seen the film Arrival?


Hi Mario,I’ve been very engaged with this topic for a log time in my life,thank U for your everyone’s creativity…I want to a book that ran across a few years that in in the same waters,Listening,Thinking,Being-Toward an Ethics of Attunement,Lisbeth Lipari…I am experiencing a kind of spring-summer time transition in this world today,I smell the sea breeze of the future & AHHHH!!!.Peace Be With U & Everyone at Cosmos,Laughing BaldOne


A post three years after the recorded conversation.

A recorded conversation (one of many) that speaks of our times, here in the Cosmos and in the world at large.

I remember much of the conversation when I first listened to this Cafe in 2018. It has aged well…

I reviewed this one as I am doing a bit of Maroski internet perusal to better understand the origins of Consciously Evolving Language. Language in 2018 had a much different meaning than it does now. I came for the presentation and left with a better sense of what the Cosmos is about.

Ed reminds us that it isn’t a top down approach that changes a language, it is a shift in consciousness often brought about by the arts. Art is where culture is changed. Change our minds, our language will naturally follow. He refers to Gebser’s “Grammatical Mirror” (discussed in the following week’s Cafe).

There is much more in the conversation ignited by Lisa’s work and worth a (re)listen. This was Lisa’s “onboarding” to what she later in the talk states enthusiastically as having found her tribe. Yes, we are few but we certainly has an impelling story worth hearing. Thank you Lisa for bringing your ideas to the table!

Yesterday I came across a sensationalist (click-bait) title elon musk says neuralink brain chip will make language obsolete in 10 years. It reviews a segment of a talk with Joe Rogan from a year ago. It has been a few years since I examined the strange world of techno-utopian dreaming. This is techno-dreaming at its best (worst). Language will be obsolete, sways Musk, because Neuralink, if the technological curge continues at breakneck, will permit telepathic downloading. I become confused when I see 5 million views for a talk that imagines solely from the perspective that machines will overtake humans so it is best to merge with the machines and become cyborgs a la Musk and Neuralink. Our discussion here, resting humbly below 100 views, has many dreams too; ones that consider the dreams of Lisa, the cyborg a la Haraway, a messy human dream of humans and wholeness.

“Reengineering” came up in the Cafe (not just to piss John off, as was joked, but) because, as Marco suggests, the world is being reengineered . . . it is important to highlight the metaphors that we are trafficking" Musk uses brain as faulty machinery; human thinking as bits of information (machine information as terabits of thinking); the human as a programmable machine.

Douglas Rushkoff in his 2010 book Program or Be Programmed writes “When human beings acquired language, we learned not just how to listen but how to speak. When we gained literacy, we learned not just how to read but how to write. And as we move into an increasingly digital reality, we must learn not just how to use programs but how to make them.”

I did not want to steer any discussion into the realm of the Musk and Neuralink and technoutopian criticism. I bring it up as a reminder of what we are up against. I think this clip below from the recording provides an answer (from 1:43 to 1:58:44):

Some of us are considering a certain renewal of the languaging around how the Cosmos Coop is presented on the various websites, forums, about pages, etc. Towards the Formalization of Cosmos as a Cooperative. I like what is being said in this conversation by @achronon , @madrush, @Geoffreyjen_Edwards (here) and @johnnydavis54 (here) and consider our archive as an evolving language.