This week we will continue the conversation which began with, around, about, and in response to the philosophical essay “Sophia Speaks,” by Bruce Alderman. In that conversation, which can be found here, we shared our individual, overlapping, and differing reactions to the essay, remarking on the novelty and value of using everyday parts of speech as lenses for contextualizing different philosophers—or philosophical schools and movements—and their various ways of construing reality.
The chart below summarizes some of the areas (the “sides of Mount Sophia”) that Bruce’s essay circumambulates.
One point that more than a couple of the participants in the first discussion noted was that they do not identify as philosophers—but rather as practitioners who relate to language as an essential medium of their practice as writers, teachers, activists, etc. As we continue with the “Integral In-Dwelling,” dwelling (and playing) with the wonders of the parts of speech—this week particularly focusing on prepositions—let’s see if we can more explicitly bring forth how we relate to these ideas as practitioners in, with, and of language.
How might “integral metatheorizing”—if that is what we’re doing when we read and discuss this work—change how we write, think, teach, work, mobilize, (grand-)parent, evolve language, make peace, move in time, play in space? What from this reading experience can we take with us into our lives and future conversations?
Please help develop this topic in the coming days. The above questions are only meant to give us a starting point…
Abstract: “Integral In-Dwelling, A Prepositional Theology of Religions”
The concept of generalized co-presence is a central one in the grammar of Bhaskar’s metaRealist metaphysics. As a term denoting the radical relationality and mutual indwelling of beings in the cosmos, generalized copresence finds analogues in the holographic principle of Morin’s Complex Thought, Wilber’s nondual inflection of holarchy, as well as multiple religious archetypes of divine interindependence. In this paper, I will explore the potential of this concept for framing a “deep participatory,” Complex Integral Realist model of interreligious relationship that can amplify the integrative potential of the metaRealist, Integral, and participatory approaches to this topic that have been articulated to date. To facilitate this inquiry, and to situate it in a context that I believe will be most fruitful, I will first broadly outline the contours of two related metaphysical projects which I believe are highly relevant for integral metatheorizing: prepositional philosophy and theology.
Hi, all, I’ve read “Integral In-dwelling” now, and I don’t really have a clear sense of how the conversation might take shape on Thursday when we meet. With this and the previous reading, I think I get focused on the argument Bruce is making, which is for a specific audience who want to also advance knowledge in this area of philosophy (philosophical or theological grammars). I find it hard to break down the piece into points we can all accessibly riff on or questions we can relate to. I think this is highly valuable work, but what might be the way in to the discussion… for us? I have the most interest in “co-presence” and the preposition “with” myself… philosophically and in terms of praxis/experience/practice. Also, I’ve been thinking of Gendlin with this reading. I’ll repost a quote a friend shared on FB from Gendlin below.
I may have an appointment during our call on Thursday (unavoidable since it’s during my office hours). But, I will be there for some or most of the call! I finish teaching at 12:05 and often have a student or two lingering with questions right after class. Looking forward to talking soon.
I want to start with the most important thing I have to say: The essence of working with another person is to be present as a living being. And that is lucky, because if we had to be smart, or good, or mature, or wise, then we would probably be in trouble. But, what matters is not that. What matters is to be a human being with another human being, to recognize the other person as another being in there. Even if it is a cat or a bird, if you are trying to help a wounded bird, the first thing you have to know is that there is somebody in there, and that you have to wait for that “person”, that being in there, to be in contact with you. That seems to me to be the most important thing.
So, when I sit down with someone, I take my troubles and feelings and I put them over here, on one side, close, because I might need them. I might want to go in there and see something. And I take all the things that I have learnt—client-centered therapy, reflection, focusing, Gestalt, psychoanalytic concepts and everything else (I wish I had even more)—and I put them over here, on my other side, close. Then I am just here, with my eyes, and there is this other being. If they happen to look into my eyes, they will see that I am just a shaky being. I have to tolerate that. They may not look. But if they do, they will see that. They will see the slightly shy, slightly withdrawing, insecure existence that I am, I have learned that that is okay. I do not need to be emotionally secure and firmly present. I just need to be present. There are no qualifications for the kind of person I must be. What is wanted for the big therapy process, the big development process is a person who will be present. And so I have gradually become convinced that even I can be that. Even though I have my doubts when I am by myself, in some objective sense I know I am a person.
…So this is my way of saying that: Do not let [“therapeutic” techniques] like reflective-listening or anything else get in between. Do not use them as an in-between. Do not say: “I can stay here because I have my reflecting-method [for knowing how to respond to you], I have my ping-pong-paddle, so you cannot get me [you cannot see that I too am just a vulnerable human being who is here with you, also perhaps at a total loss in this moment for what to say and do].” There is a sense that we are armed, you see. We have methods; we know [intersubjective systems theory or process-oriented psychology or somatic experiencing therapy or neurocognitive therapy or constructivist-developmental models or DBT or AEDP or TRE or EMDR or Circling or what have you]; we have certificates, we have credentials; we have doctors. We have all this stuff and so it is easy for us to sit there with stuff in between. Do not let it be in between; put it out of the way. You can have at least as much courage as the client has. If not, I would be ashamed of myself, with all the stuff that I have, if I still cannot really look when this person can. So I want to be there in that same way.
That—I think—is the first job we have. And on the question what we [“helping professionals”] need to do now, on this, also, I think the first thing we need to do is to communicate that attitude. That is so necessary in a field that is becoming more and more “professional,” which is to say useless and expensive.
-Eugene Gendlin, pioneering psychotherapist, Professor of Philosophy and Psychology
Reading this article was a lot like eating a croissant: you have to swallow the bread, but spit out the air. I found it much more airy than buttery. Don’t get me wrong, it is a well-written piece full of domain-specific erudition, a worthy contribution to Bruce’s need-to-publish obligations. He did an admirable job of recycling previous material (getting a lot of bang for his prepositional buck), but it was obviously written for an exclusive group of insiders – to which I, just as obviously, don’t belong – and that makes it somewhat rough going for the rest of us mere mortals. Our metabolism fires at a different rate, at least mine does, so breakfast wasn’t quite as satisfying as I might have hoped.
Gadamer, Ricoeur, and other contempory hermeneuticists have argued rather convincingly (at least for me) that what a text means can diverge radically from what the author might have intended. Ricoeur in particular in his work on what-is-a-text has made an especially strong case for this, showing that any given text can, and most likely will, be read very differently, but certainly not incorrectly, by any given reader, so however we – that is, our little group, which only partially overlaps with the intended readership – understand this piece is ultimately up to each of us. We are free to chew on whatever we consider bread and spit out whatever air remains. To some, this may be cherry-picking, but I’m not all that excited about getting bogged down in explications of the Wilberian world. It’s too abstract and complicated for my aging simple mind, so I’m perfectly content to stay focused on what might be more practical and applicable to my own everyday existence.
In other words, “copresence”, a notion which seems to backdrop much of what Bruce is talking about in this piece, seems like a reasonable place to start, especially in light of the Gendlin quote you shared with us. “What it means to be a human being” has profound and far-reaching consequences for all our everyday praxes. What is more, while “with” is a worthy preposition to focus on initially, I would hasten to add that this article, even moreso than “Sophia Speaks” (even if I did mention it in our discussion there), comes across as highly English-language-centric. That is, “prepositionality” itself may be a side conversation for us. Different languages slice this pie differently, so if we’re looking for some kind of “universality” in what we’re gleaning from our reading, we could be well served to expand our linguistic horizons, even if most of us will continue to function “englishly” in the world, so there is still a lot of room for play here.
Last Friday I left NY after Hurricane Ida turned Brooklyn into a lake-41 killed in floods. I was able to fly down to Houston to get my mother out of the hospital. Each day has brought more challenges. Two nights ago Hurricane Nicholas struck Houston, knocking out our power, requiring us to switch her source of oxygen. Six hours later with only a half hour of oxygen left we were able to connect with an extension cord to a next door neighbor who had power, so her breathing is stable. We are still without power but she can breathe. And that’s two hurricanes within a week. My brother and I are living on adrenelin. Having no sleep for three nights, my imagination was on over drive, re-thinking every move, trying to coordinate meds, devices, breathing tubes, toilet, food, etc., in the dark, the roar of raging storm, of an exploding tranformer. Living hell.
And then there is the other kind of hurricane…as the mind crumbles under exptreme pressures which seem to be ( in my view) way beyond anything developmental theory is capable of tracking. I tend to agree somewhat with Nora Bateson who has recently declared develomental theory is colonial bullshit. Every person living on this planet are already more complex than any theory can possibly capture. And when it comes to articulating the God thing I would not spend too much time getting bogged down in details. Pick your metaphor. For me, the metaphor for God that makes most sense is God as Stranger.
If we get power on today I will try to review the Alderman essay and look forward to a another civilized Cafe conversation. Such encounters may be few and far between as the current configurations are becoming ever more fragile. It would be a pleasure to make contact with the Cafe syle of communiques from the field of all possibilites.
Virginia Satir, the great family therapist, said," A family is a group of strangers going in different directions." Scaling that up and out we could probably detect all kinds of meta-patterns as we seek on a planet of strangers a deeper connection to our host planet. All manner of thing shall be well but if I can’t make it I will look forward to watching the video when it appears.
Still without power, I type this messge from Starbuckes. They just asked me to leave. The Tech giveth and the Tech taketh away. Blessed by the name of Tech.
@johnnydavis54 - I’m so sorry to hear about everything you’re going through with your mom. It sounds like a perfect storm (the scenes echo) and you are the third eye/third ear at the center. May you bob, weave, and hang in there with the wind, rain, and flying debris—and continue unfurling into co-presence with your brother and mother!
@hfester - Thanks for your opening reflections and the Gendlin quote. That gives me a clearer idea of how we might proceed from, toward, through, about, and around the text. Perhaps, as Gendlin suggests and Ed seems on board with, we could put the essay to the side, yet near at hand, and begin simply with who, where, and how we are in the moment. From there we might find our way towards a perichoretic, in-between zone where the conversation could become fruitful.
We’ll give it a few fuzzy minutes for you to make your way from class—and if we need to be co-present with your partial absence, well, that could provide some food for thought and I expect we’ll gladly riff with/in the fluctuations of your availability.
The power came on last night but the power to disentangle from the destructive patterns of the Family Constellation is wavering. Those unhappy beings who lived before us continue to rage against the dying of the light. I am doing homage to the ancestors, feeling currents from pasts and futures in the co- present, as a re-unfolding, of the co-absent. Now is the time to walk around barefoot, on the grass, to ground myself, as I do my best to disentangle from the collective amnesia. I will plan to be on the call, as dwelling upon these infinite conversations, may shed light upon our weaved up folly.
@johnnydavis54, I too am so sorry to hear about all of your struggles, especially as these impact your mom! What an awful struggle, and it’s amazing to hear from you in the midst of it.
I’m thinking of another thread to add to today, following Johnny’s comment about developmental theory being complete colonial bullshit (while the human is a wonderous complexity). I wonder if there’s something to explore there as we keep Bruce’s article close to hand but not in front of us?
Something about this conversation appealed to my spectrum of senses. I believe that having completed my homework (reading “Integral In-dwelling”) opened up a more robust second-hand, third-ear listening that permitted a flourishing of thought-sensation. I listened while mountain biking this morning in between work duties (mountains = gently rolling Kentucky hills) and had plenty that came to the foreground. I have a desire to respond to each individual response (on time/retrocausality, language, Rodney King, included middles, speaking from) . . . but wish not to digress/transgress. I will take what I have learned from you all into the next.
A note on the next Café: We have hinted at exploring David Abrams’ Spell of the Sensuous and Stephen Harrod Buhner’s Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm (a book @Ariadne quotes at length here and I work with here). I would like to revisit and re-explore either of these books, especially in the context of the Café. I personally do not know how to go about distilling the book into a single-serving Café just yet but liked John’s suggestion to start simple with a video/audio recording or a snippet of the book.
I like this quote from Bruce’s “In-dwelling” and feel it is an entry point or segue into this view of alternate intelligences and an alternate meaning of integral:
Interreligiously, such a model might inspire modes of encounter similar to Deleuze’s becoming-animal: Not a process of imitation, not a conscious choice to adopt a costume or to mimic another being’s ways, but the invitation to draw close to the other until, imperceptibly, in that zone of maximal proximity and indeterminacy, becoming eventuates. We awaken what is always already, but in so doing, it becomes what it never was.“
On my bike ride this morning I encountered a turkey vulture flying off from where bike was about to tread. A downy feather slowly slipped down from up high; I biked into its path and it clung to my thumb after an attempt to grasp the delicate puff. It clung and formed onto my thumbnail and knuckle area remaining in place for the remainder of the ride. After completing the ride, a short drive to the library to complete some work tasks. A “wake” of turkey vultures (more like a black feather tsunami flowing in and out of the road) shredded a deer carcass, stopping cars as they carried forth with their frenzy.
a collection of vultures' collective nouns
Vultures circling overhead, riding thermals as they search for carcasses are called a ‘kettle’. A group of vultures perched in a tree, meanwhile, are called a ‘committee’, a ‘venue’ or even a ‘volt’. Then, when the vultures descend to the ground to feed on a carcass they’re called a ‘wake’ which we think is beautifully descriptive. This makes a total of five collective nouns for a single type of animal, which is quite exceptional! ~~ quote from this web article
When at the library, a brief deshelving of books from the “New” shelf led me to browse Animal Medicine by a Riverside graduate Erika Buenaflor. It includes a directory of 76 spirit animals. Curious if the vulture would make the cut, I flipped to T . . . U . . . and yes Vulture. I thought of you @johnnydavis54 when reading the symbolism meanings:
The coming change that is inevitable will inspire you to grow in unprecedented ways. Trust that the universe is always conspiring for your benefit.
You may feel challenged right now, but these feelings ultimately stem from doubting yourself. Put effort into meeting the challenge, and excel. You’ve got this!
Stop making excuses, and let go of people and circumstances that are toxic or are weighing you down.
Show gratitude to those who have been loyal and loving to you and continue to inspire them as they inspire you.
I’m grateful to you, Doug, for for your ongoing kindness and support. And to the Cafe society which continues to suprise me with such a wide range of erudition, as well as the cultivation of Integral capacities.
About letting go. My mother’s last words to me were, " Get out, asshole." Now, mother is still hanging on by a thread, but I decided that is was time to go. I packed my bag and left without saying goodbye and waited for the bus. I got to the airport, where I spent the night and took the earliest flight back to New York. My brother, in one of his sleepless rages, threw homophobic slurs at me, made personal attacks, and threatened my life. I knew where he kept his loaded shot gun. His erratic behavior, under extreme stress, and my mother’s dementia induced diatribes made me recall the Angel’s warning to Lot’s wife. Don’t look back. And I didn’t.
My mother’s curse sadly amused me. It was totally in character. She has always been all over the place, seductress, goddess, shape shifter, southern lady, a master of the double bind. She can say one thing and mean something else and she can remain silent and give you an evil eye. " Wait till I get you home." she would threaten me as a child. She always frightened me. Even when she was gentle. I knew her fury was right around the corner. But which corner?
My brother shared a childhood dream ( the one who threatened to kill me) In his dream I was kneeling before my mother pulling nails out of my tongue and throwing them in a pail. The dream image terrified him. How odd. His dream came true-sort of. How can we know when a recieved image is real?
Is it just your imagination? Well, yes. Or does it hold a truth? Maybe. We have to figure that out. Rilke said we have to give birth to our images.
A philosopher I admire said the opposite of the human is not animal, but the demonic. My childhood house, a demonic one, the rule was, if you were to survive, that you had to keep it all a secret. Thou shat not speak. But I never kept the secret. I let it out. For that crime my father, and especially my mother, punished me severely. But this is not another sad story about abuse and neglect.
I have broken that frame, So, it was a good journey I completed back into the heart of darkness in that damned house. I bypassed Darth Vader ( which my sweet little brother turned into) and quietly packed my bags and returned to New York.
Take me back to old Manhattan That’s where my heart belongs Give me a show place to hang my hat in, Give me those Broadway songs.
All happy families, according to Tolstoy, are happy in the same way, but unhappy families are unhappy in a unique way. I would say my family was tragic. I carried the burden of its tragic beauty. And what was beauty before it was tragic beauty? During the hurricane the protective sheath was torn open and the demonic voices, the alien voices, irupted. This was the second hurricane I had experience within five days. Ida in New York and Nicholas in Houston the third day I was there. I take this as another strange syncronicity.
There was a wierd glow coming from the window the eveing it arrived. My brother asked." What is that?" We had been so busy we had not listened to the weather report.
I said," It looks like the light that comes before a hurricane." It was a strange, orange, phosphoresent glow. " Do you have a flashlight?" My brother scoffed. But I felt an evil vibe. That night the storm came, we were in black out, my mother was running out of oxygen, and all hell broke loose… The air was thick with demonic elecricity. The most terrifying six hours I ever spent in that house.
Each of us channeled these demonic voices in our own unique way. The unforgivable was said. When the storm passed, the next day, I knew I had to wait until I could make the final break. So, when my mother’s curse fell upon me, I knew it was my time to make the break. Don’t look back.
The diffference of scale within the Child/Man. What the child recieves is too big, unmangeable. What the child can’t do the adult can. I found that out the hard way. The rage of my brother ( inherited from our father) and my rage at my brother’s rage…the patterns that disconnect…male rage… a child’s rage trapped in an adult body is one of the deadliest forces on the planet. This is a force that will cut your throat in the church. I stood firm but felt the loosening of my bowels as his spectacular, Shakespearean rage, climaxed, trying to take me into a death grip. He wants to kill but has not the power to die. He lives on in my brother, through our dead father, again, walking the earth. The intensity, once it starts can’t be matched. The fuse will blow. I stayed calm, breathedd into my belly, felt his words, pass through me, from beyond the grave. My mother is too old and helpless to be a referee. She was no good at defending anyone, not even herself. But I still loved her and tried to save her with a child’s broken heart. But not anymore. I’ve taken the child home with me. We escaped and live in Manhattan.
What Thou wilt do with me none of my books will show…
I stayed vulnerable and strong, just as when I find a good posture on my meditation pillow. O the Mind, Mind has mountains.…I remained silent. Darth Vader irrupts in the fright night, very much alive in the family mind, a mythic mind, with ancient ferocity. And they always kill the thing they love. It is no mistake that most murders are committed not by strangers but by family members.
I watched and waited. The fury and the storm abated. I waited for a sign. My mother’s curse was that sign. I have embodied the excluded middle, felt in the gut, messaging a new reality, an indeterminate reality, a queer reality. My brother told me I was no better than a woman. It is a queer reality that the Darth Vader can’t abide, a queer Jesus that can turn the other cheek, tune into the middle third, that the Tyrant Warrior mocks. I slipped into the inbetween, that no-man’s land, aware even in danger of the tragic beauty.
And I’ m back from the outer limits, sharing notes, a gruelling exercise in endurance. I travelled back to Manhattan, through Houston’s Metro system, to the Intercontinental Airport, then to Charotte for a connection to JFK, from JFK down into the subway, up to my fifth floor walk up in the East Village. My journey was economy class, mediated by barcodes and touch screens, that when you touch them do not work, where you make a call to a representative and are told there is a two hour wait.
Of one thing I am certain. We must reject Modernity and create conditions for a new Axial Age. This is the underlying theme of our work here at the Cafe and other study groups. We are creating safe containers to celebrate the Imaginal. If we don’t do it who will?
So, I recognize the archetypal but I also want to pay homage to the particular, the really real. Each of us recieves and constructs images but spiritual attainment can’t be tested in a monastic order. That is why we need relational spaces with competent persons to dialogue with who are testing reality with thier shared imagery.
Surprised by joy, I turn to share the transport, with the habitues of the Cosmos Cafe, where I sense a new wave of resonant realities are being shaped through us.
A vision quest is a rite of passage in some Native American cultures . … During this time, the young person prays and cries out to the spirits that they may have a vision, one that will help them find their purpose in life, their role in a community, and how they may best serve the People.
John Thank You for sharing the above report from your journey
Back into the Beginnings of your Life.
As I read the Words & Felt the Tones;
Rilke said we have to give birth to our images.
The Above came to Be My Response…
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