Live Conversation #8 - 8/3 - The Siren Stage: On the First Sonospheric Alliance


(Marco V Morelli) #1





Regretfully: the first 30 seconds of the conversation were cut off due to a technical error. Geoffrey is beginning to introduce the session’s reading with a note on the concept of the membrane.


Geoffrey Edwards
Wendy Ronitz-Baker
John Davis
Michael Schwartz
Ed Mahood
Marco V Morelli


Dear @spheres readers:

I’m looking forward to our next Bubbles call on August 3rd at the usual time (12 pm MDT).

Video link:

Coincidentally, we may be publishing a piece next week in Metapsychosis on drone music—which I think could echo back themes from this week’s reading.

I’ve been preoccupied this past week, but look forward catching up with everyone’s expansive (and/or intensive) comments, which I’ve been skimming with interest but hope to dive into soon.

I’m also reminded that at the end of the last call, we didn’t determine who would kick off the next discussion, as Ed did last time and Michael the one before.

I will be traveling, in Vancouver, and will be on the call but prefer to take on the last chapter. Any volunteers for this coming week?

(Geoffrey Edwards) #2

I’d be happy to volunteer, Marco. Since I’m now caught up!


(Marco V Morelli) #3

Excellent! Thank you!

(Ed Mahood) #4

Since we’re getting into sound this time around, here’s a link to a what could be a generally relevant article. I wonder what Mr. Sloterdijk would say. What would Bach’s music save in his terms? Ahh, those crazy, whacky, old-European German philosophers. What will they think of next?

(T J Williams) #5

Sloterdijk does seem to be calling us to take ‘womb theory’ seriously. Aw well, why not? I could look at it as the nearest to universal constitutive happening of human being (I won’t say experience just yet - but that’s just me tying that word to ‘consciousness’…). At least this chapter was a more… sound (hahaha) application than the concept of the With.

Looking forward to seeing where you folks went with it.

(Ed Mahood) #6

Great chat folks … I, for one, learned a lot. Again.

Just stumbled across this, which I find very fitting to this past reading and tonight’s discussion theme:

(john davis) #7

Our ears can do math? And if our ears can make these subtle very abstract distinctions, what does the Emerging Self know about all of this? These capacities of the inner ear may be happening beneath the threshold of anyone’s conscious awareness-maybe not. Who or what is keeping track of all this? And what about the music of the spheres? Can we hear that Cosmic activity if the signal -to- noise ration is just right? How does the embryonic self, who gets blasted with sounds from our noisy planet very early in the womb, deal with all of this complexity? No wonder babies cry so much.

(john davis) #8 I saw this on YouTube channel so I took the liberty of posting it here. I hope the conversation will continue! Let’s keep the momentum going-

(Ed Mahood) #9

Not just babies, John.

But what a fascinating clip. Brilliant.

(john davis) #10

Michael mentioned Kurt Fischer’s work. Here is an interesting presentation by Fischer that resonates with our unfolding fractal knowing(s)-

(Ed Mahood) #11

Although it certainly wouldn’t hurt if the good professor worked on his own presentation skills, there is a good bit to think about here. Too bad so little of it gets into public education. But, I’m sure Betsy DeVoss is working on that even as I write.

(john davis) #12

I noticed Ralph Abraham and William Irwin Thompson, two of my favorite thinkers, were on the front row. I thought there was an interesting self-aware moment, when Bill pointed out to Kurt that most people learn outside of academia and in an entirely different way than academics do. Kurt admitted this was accurate, as academics are mostly reading to extract information from texts, and designing courses and shaping trajectories for a world that from my limited knowledge appears to be rapidly dying out.

The skills he seems to advocate for are produced for a niche society that is loosing its grip on reality, and I don’t know if Harvard is the place to go to get help of a radical kind. At least Kurt admits his theories are not making the world go around. He also spoke about funding issues for various research projects, all of which I find useful perhaps but pretty limited in scope. I don’t think this is Gebser’s Aperspectival but it is a healthier trend. for what appears to be a mostly neo-liberal eco- suburban mind set. I’m perhaps a bit envious for I never had such support or attention as these kids are getting. I don’t think however we should despair too quickly as we still have a lot to learn and different ways of learning are happening, as we are doing here in this Spheres experiment.

I only brought attention to this because Michael brought it up in our discussion that various research on adult development indicated there was a lot of flexibility and plasticity available for use if there is rigorous support for such development. I don’t see much support for anyone in this crack in the cosmic egg from which I observe this spectacle. But I just enrolled in a free edX course from Harvard on Cell development. It’s pretty slick and I can get what I want from it and move on. Maybe I’ll study Spanish or Latin!

(Ed Mahood) #13

No, it’s not, but you still hit the nail on the head: it is a healthier trend. I’m all for that. As the latest Nobel-lit-laureate put it, “when you ain’t got nothin’, ya got nothin’ to lose.”

Personally, I like his refinement of Piaget: it makes it easier to use for anyone who’s actually interested in even trying to make a difference in school. And it certainly isn’t the good professor’s fault that that much-needed, and as you poignantly and personally noted lack of, support these kids are getting isn’t more widely available. The government’s past hope and the rest of us don’t have 60 grand sitting around every year to send our kids to an institution like the Ross School.

I’m glad you brought it up. I’m glad I got another chance to think about a few things that I haven’t thought about for a while. I’m glad there’s at least a chance that some underdog somewhere will pick up on all of this and actually do something with it when and where it is needed most.

And I’m really glad you decided to enroll in an edX course, too. You never know what might get inspired. Truth be told, there’s a lot of opportunities “out there” (I’ve listened to several different courses from Yale (e.g., Literary theory, the Old Testament, the New Testament) and I’m still refreshing moth-balled math skills with the Khan Academy (Sal Kahn is the most enthusiastic math teacher I’ve ever encountered; his engagement (ref. Prof. Fischer) is infectious) … only to realize I’ve forgotten more than I ever learned). My own predicament confirms as well one of the most important points that Fischer was making: if you don’t use it, you lose it. And it doesn’t matter which subject or domain you’re talking about.

Hell, Latin can be a hoot, if done right.

(john davis) #14

I watched many of these courses too .These were already fields of study I knew pretty well but I did many of the readings and tried to catch up. I have dipped into difficult territory, too, and have done remedial work in math and attempt to fill in huge gaps in other areas too. All of this is very therapeutic. I did spend a lot of time trying to figure out developmental theories but found the applications for such study unrealized. Life conditions do not demand much from most people as they are in retail or the service sector doing what they are told to do, they are not in think tanks at Harvard, working on improved test scoring .

Living in the streets of Manhattan for forty years is probably more valuable in learning about people than anything else. I went out last night to a ethnically mixed gay dance club and watched many people, different races, genders, from different worlds, and walks of life, mix it up… This is probably more educational than going to grad school. Street smarts is not offered in most places but is desperately needed as I have worked with people with advanced degrees doing the same boring retail job that I was doing without any training. It was painful to observe how over qualified they were and under qualified at the same time. Lots of efforts were made and many lost their dreams I fear. I guess my life was too hectic and I have yet to create a coherent meta- narrative. Those who do so are I expect at the top of the food chain.

It seems there is a dramatic shake up in academia that makes the playing field not just uneven but unplayable for most people. But then I live in the city that never sleeps so I admit my views are skewed. Because I live among the affluent I get lots of free perks and advantages too. Finding a balance in this circus gets more challenging not less so. Hence the opportunities to articulate alternate ways of operating ( as we try to do here) is extremely important.

(Marco V Morelli) #15

Thanks, @johnnydavis54. I’ve added the recording from our call to the original post above :smile:.

Synchronistically, I’ve also been working with various music-related submissions for Metapsychosis these past couple weeks.

There’s this one on Drone music (infinite womb-sounds, anyone?):

And a pop song which, in my opinion, accomplishes a compression of meaning and feeling in a 3-minute chunk of time that Sloterdijk doesn’t even try to elucidate the depths of, seemingly dismissing the format as mere consumer indulgence.

We also have a jazz & blues excursus, courtesy of @Greg_Thomas :

And coming soon: an essay from @TrevorMalkinson on Heavy Metal and the Book of Revelation, along the axis of political resistance to empire.

Mr. Sloterdijk, are you paying attention? Where is our sonospheric alliance now?

Indeed, let’s keep the conversation going!

(john davis) #16

There was an amusing moment on the video#8 when Wendy said that she was channeling her " inner Ed". We laughed. I was amused because I sensed that there was a joint attention established and that a meta-attention ( being able to see through another person’s set up, even in cyberspace) was starting to emerge. This is the kind of response that I believe is a good sign, the group is maturing, better able to recognize patterns and meta-patterns, nuances and tones of voice, a capacity that emerges out of simultaneous and successive processes. This is a delicate balance, and I want to nurture that kind of process, and viewing the videos can become a very important tool for group development . As you know I’m attempting to model the group.

I agree, Marco, when you said that we are working on each other. And I would add that we are working with each other. And using an enigmatic book, Spheres, continues to be fun and highly educational.

I think the challenge for me personally, Marco, is when the subject changes, what does the subject look like? Sound like? Feel like? And since the subject is not fully formed in any conversation or discussion or dialogue it is often over before it even happened.

Stabilizing attention in the individual is difficult on the best of days, stabilizing joint attention without direct contact is even more precarious. I need a lttle help here, as I was trying to reconstruct through memory what was said in the previous video #8 because I rarely remember what was said after a day or two.

When I get a chance to review the video a week later, focusing on verbal and non verbals of the group dynamic, I notice some salient points and try to develop them, here in this forum , themes such as adult development, post trans fallacy, etc., and then I try to keep track with whomever responds, which is usually just a few people. That seems to be a good thing.

I realize timing is crucial in these online adventures, as the sands are perpetually shifting, and the foundations of the house were never that secure anyway and it feels that it may be wise for me to just embrace the communal death space and let go of any pre conceived notions and just start all over again the next morning. Just drink a tall glass of water before bed.

So having said all of that and having read your reply I appreciate that there are many themes you want to develop. Please let me know where you want me to focus my attention?

(Marco V Morelli) #17

Thanks, Johnny, for the good question. And I think I owe an apology for my previous post because it didn’t really pick up on or tie in with the back and forth on Fisher or Fractal Coltrane, but only cross-pollinated a few items from other channels. In that sense it was dissonant! Although, perhaps, we could tease out some harmonics.

Once again, I think Sloterdijk—in elucidating the notion of a sonosphere, and how this is formed, how our ears select signal from noise, and how in some sense (I took his argument to be) our being aspires to a form of music—is opening a space for meditation on powerful dimensions of subtle experience.

Further, insofar as my meta-project is precisely one of sphere formation (via this community-media platform), I’m extremely interested in how things sound and how we sound things out, the music of our spheres.

The signal to noise ratio (and if it’s a ratio, how do our ears hear it?) is something I imagine we’re all intuitively paying attention to and processing. Ampltitude and frequency are also aspects of the sonic milieu. A membrane functions like noise-cancelling headphones. But there is signal in the noise—the noise is a kind of signal, too. There is beauty in the warm fuzz of a needle spiraling toward the center of an LP, as is in the crying, wailing, howling feedback of Jimi Hendrix’s guitar.

I do believe that Sloterdijk is onto something with the notion that we aspire to song, as temporal flow and feeling of being. This might have something to do with the stabilization and concentration of attention, as well as the immersive/participatory type experience that he writes about in the note on Oral Fundamentalisms, though I would disagree severely that these are necessarily “illiterate truths.”

In other words, I don’t exactly know how to answer your question! I do hear some music in all this, and I’m working on how to select, compress, amplify, and transmit the signals in the noise. With this reading, I feel a spacious chamber with echo effects, which literally depend on the emptiness (which is also a coolness) that is a special quality of Sloterdijk’s phenomenology. I’ll leave it at that!

(john davis) #18

And as we go dissonant or off key returning to something…perhaps… plausible,cross-pollinated…tease out harmonics…free associate…in a different register… that reminds me of a story…from dream…to chat…to other conversations…other voices…other rooms…about that Coltrane Fractal…I drift into the margins of my own mind…flickering images of light and darkness…

And as I walked across the dark, barren parking lot, with a bottle of booze, in in a brown, paper bag, under my arm, I was visited by the Angel of Death. He was a delicate looking young man, blonde hair, and blue eyes, wearing a long, gray Yugoslavian trench coat, the kind that you see in old black and white photos, the kind the Gestapo wear when they break in your door at night and drag you off to the concentration camp.

I dropped the brown bag, the bottle shattered on the cement. On my knees, my palms turned upwards, I surrendered, my throat exposed, as if waiting for the dogs of war to tear me apart. He was impatient with my melodramatic gesture and commanded me to rise. I obeyed, stood, face to face with the Angel of Death and wished to be kissed on the lips, a Judas kiss, and lit up as He was, from within, radiant as a figure in a William Blake drawing, radiant as Love Supreme. He commanded simply, “Give up form.”

The Angel pulled out of the pocket of his coat a small hand gun, aimed at my forehead, and from it streamed a ray of light directly into my third eye.And falling feet first into an open pit, I came to rest in a black void, filled with electrical currents, like the currents buzzing around the head of the Bride of Frankenstein. Above me I hear a male voice tell me that what was going to happen in the next phase of my earth experience, and what was going to happen was connected to my life as a High Priest, with supernormal powers, who had committed crimes against the people.
With this grim understanding, imprinted upon my subtle body, there is a downward floating sensation, gentle as a breeze on a warm day in May, as I reassemble into a new incarnation. I am returning as a Caucasian man, moving lightly, wearing sneakers, walking on a tree lined street in Harlem. I feel as if I have lived here in this Caucasian body, on this street for a long time. Enjoying the brisk weather, the falling leaves, and observing from a distance the kids playing basketball behind a fence, I sit on the bench and daydream, feeling tragically optimistic-

And about the Fractal Coltrane, perhaps, we could tease out some harmonics… I don’t know what Kurt Fischer would think about this or Albert Murray…or Sloterdijk since he doesn’t believe in Angels who have a Message-

(T J Williams) #19

More unfocused offerings…

Interesting ending proposition: would I consider myself, if forced to choose, “for” or “against” Sloterdijk at this point? I would say “for”. I sense, finally, a growing coherence in the last few readings. Like Wendy, I find myself wondering why we had to take the scenic route, but no permanent harm done. I do not see where he has made much of a case (yet) for his favored metaphor of spatial relationships in the humaniverse, but his suggestions are thought-provoking and, in my philosophical naivete, I’m OK with that. I’ll give him his unique if not precisely new take on old knowledge.

So, the womb is our ‘first interior’, “full of sound and fury”, and our embryo is always accompanied in some way. It would be too much to say the womb is a model for later personal and social development - whatever happens there must have some deep influence on subsequent life, but most of us cannot directly access those events, leaving an inexpressibility at this most basic ‘stage’ of physical and psychological building blocks. Yet the point remains that the contextual core of human being is interaction and communication, even at those times we cannot exactly ‘know’ what is going on.

I read it the same way. I would say the embryonic sound environment primes or prepares us for the feelings music can evoke in us later on, along with and partially framed by other emergent socio-cultural elements, and that this core receptivity is the more important phenomenon compared to the specific - and individually resonant - form(s) music can take.

[Stop right there! “…individually resonant”…
“I” may be an amalgamation of influences, but “I” must still act from a center of awareness - and responsibility - concerning them. (Gebser too distinguishes collective resonance from abandonment to irresponsible ‘mob’ hypnosis.) I’m still not sure Sloterdijk’s “primal companion” works: do internalized habits of interactive dialogue necessarily indicate a personal “dyad” (outside of genuine schizophrenia?)? But then again how do “I” become aware of ‘the soul’ when consciousness mutates into the mythical from the magical… so maybe there is something to consider after all…
I digress.]

It seems fitting that the ear is our first filter, as the inner ear is our primary orientation in and to space (as John noted). This is certainly no surprise to a Gebserian who recognizes the roots of the magical structure (I hear Ed: “And?..” LOL). Other senses, some coming into their own after birth, also carry forward this function of input filter, and our knowledge maps and models extend this further. Ultimately, Culture (using Spengler’s capitalization) is about collective decisions on what is signal and what is noise, and Myth essentially attempts to justify those collective decisions.

As this is written, I have yet to get to the Kurt Fischer vid, but I plan to.

@Geoffrey_Edwards: Great introduction, by the way! I doubt very much that I would be perceiving much coherence if not for the discussions of this group.

(john davis) #20

Sloterdijk, in a surprisingly direct passage, admits that philosophy has not lived up to its traditional role, as a source of inspiration for people in need of guidance. Does anyone read philosophy for guidance anymore?

I experience almost daily a crisis-what am I supposed to pay attention to? It seems there is so much going on in a big city, like a large ant hill in constant need of repair, the city is being torn down and rebuilt every day, roads are re-routed due to construction, sewers fixed, fires put out swiftly, police with riot gear and weapons on every corner, surveillance cameras, under cover agents, stores that you don’t remember are going out of business, new stores appear, looking just like the ones that went out of business, etc.

The city has always been a labyrinth with a vague sense of some Gnostic drama being re-enacted, full of nefarious characters, hipsters, heroes and victims, but now the city is as convenient and easy to use as a smart phone ( yes I know there is no such thing as a smart phone) and though there are lots of busy people running around, there seems to be a lot of vacant stares and confused glances, as people sedate themselves with their devices, holding on tight to that tattered security blanket.

Recently, I had a scary experience. I met an older man in a gay bar at happy hour, $12 for a beer, and we had a pleasant chat and I agreed to meet him for coffee a few days later. It was a charming café, $6 for a cup of coffee, ( I don’t get a refill) and he and I find out we have nothing in common, except that we have a lot of old memories about the way things used to be. I notice, poignantly, that he has a slight tremor in his left hand. We are getting older but not much wiser it appears.

I recall the great intellectual, Hannah Arendt, speak of her friendship, with the great poet W H Auden. She says they met in New York and in their late fifties and became good buddies. What touched me was she said that it is hard to become best friend when you meet in your late fifties. The category of Best Friends usually gets filled up when a person is in their twenties. You age with a group of people and find a place in a group. But then with wars and famines and illness the group starts to shrivel up. And as you meet new people, as you age, there are new intimacies that can occur, but both persons who reach a certain age know how the show is going to end, and so there is a different kind of atmosphere. Hannah and Auden became good friends and she wrote a lovely tribute to him when he went the way of all flesh. She said something that shocked me. I don’t love humanity, she says, I love just a few people.

But I am not Hannah Arendt! My greatest fear is that as a bookish person, with an inexhaustible love of books, and very good eye sight and lots of energy, that during my golden years, I will end up in the back room of a library and with a good internet connection, I will escape the irritations, the ups and downs, of the social completely. Culture, by the way, is so expensive and the return on one’s investment is not that great. A $100 for a night at the Opera? I don’t think so. What’s on Netflix?

And what is your greatest fear? My experience has taught me that what I most fear is what usually happens. I am unfortunately well tuned to disaster. It may be a blessing-who knows? Is this a good philosophical posture to take?

What I find most absent in this Brave New World co-sponsored by Microsoft and Monsanto is there seems to be lots happening at the Global Level but there are no small scale events happening, there are fewer and fewer situations arising. Yesterday, I met, by chance, a neighbor at the laundry mat, and we talked about how many of our neighbors had disappeared…

How is a story teller supposed to make anything happen in such a shallow pond? ,Are there any interesting situations anymore? I just see a lot of chatter on the smart phone, no one is cruising anyone anymore. The heat from the street as an prostitute once said is gone. What are we supposed to be paying attention to?

I don’t want to “pay” attention. I want to give it freely but for what purpose?