Here it goes; our first book read, out of beta, for #litgeeks. I’m glad that it’s Ever-Present Origin, As noted, at around 500 pages this is no easy read and certainly fits under the category of an “unusually hardcore” book.
More than that, though, is the exciting and strange convergence of all of us together here. In this digital space. I know some of you personally, others are new faces (or avatars), still others are here from previous litgeeks reads like The Dispossessed and Infinite Jest.
I don’t know if Jean Gebser, a poet, cultural philosopher, and phenomenologist of consciousness, has ever been read collectively and intentionally across the world like this before.
The fun thing is, this isn’t a classroom. The litgeeks team is curating, but not assigning. The reading schedule is a rough guideline. You can go at your own pace. Our live Hangouts are free to attend by everyone (whether you’ve read up to the suggested page or not) and since we’re dealing in non-fiction, there’s no danger of spoilers.
Anyways, I digress from my introduction! I’ll keep it short, as you can hear more about my own origin story in the podcast that Marco Morelli and I recorded to talk about Gebser, the book club, and reading as a form of social poetics.
I came to Gebser through two sources; Ken Wilber and Daniel Pinchbeck. I was reading Wilber in undergrad as a sociology major at Fordham in Manhattan. Wilber is, succinctly, a “grand synthesizer” and has written quite a few volumes on the evolution of consciousness, science and spirituality, and what he’s dubbed “Integral Theory.” Some of the fundamentals of his thinking were adopted from Jean Gebser. This peaked my interest.
Pinchbeck, on the other hand, wrote a book called 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl which helped to spur on the eschatological thrust in the mid-2000s and ignited the counter-culture to talk about social transformation. Quintessential to the text was the author’s curiosity about time in a moment of cultural transition. Significant sections of the book referenced Gebser, who, as we’ll see, emphasizes the importance of time in his philosophy.
What else? Well, I went on to get my graduate degree in Consciousness Studies (via Goddard), and become involved with the Jean Gebser Society. I helped put on a conference in Manhattan in 2014, “Crisis and Mutation” and am currently serving as the society’s president.
I’m really interested in revisiting Gebser, now, because he wrote about prescience. Time. Chronos. How the future and the past are all wrapped up in the present, and how to live that way. I’m curious about his applicability today, perhaps equally so because he is not just an origin of my own thinking or certain intellectual schools of thought, but just as much a starting point for the present. Gebser wrote about seeing through things to their spiritual origin and a transparent world; I’m interested in seeing how that speaks to us today, this year, in the age of “open source” philosophy and the systemic crisis we’re in, presently.
Some of you will be coming to Gebser for the first time, others will be revisiting, but I’m excited to hear from all of you about what the text might bring to you and to our time. Careful examinations of media, texts, and artistic expressions down through the ages trains the mind to think in new ways – I wonder what new insights we might bring to our current media and cultural consciousness, the poetics of our time?
What do you say? What brings you here?