Zak Stein’s paper focuses on our collective descent into the liminal zones. How do we give voice to the mytho-poetic dimensions of the pandemic?


It’s just me, but I have a hard time following a discussion about something everybody in the discussion has read but me. I guess I just need more context than many others.

If there are any others who might be like me in that way, here’s a link to the original article: Covid-19: A War Broke Out In Heaven.


Good day, @johnnydavis54 — amidst some domestic distraction, I listened to about half the talk last night and liked what I heard. The care for thought and language is apparent. I appreciated what Zachary had to say about text, code, and music as forms of communication, and his desire to bring text and music together in his piece. It was suggested this was a kind of poetry—but not in the way poetry is understood by the rabble, as personal expression.

I did find myself slightly offput by what I sensed as a kind of ‘purity code’ enacted in the invocation of the pre/trans fallacy (whereby prerational consciousness is confused with the developmentally achieved transrational sort) with respect to spiritual-seeming language. We have to be very careful, it seems, to avoid being labeled (and dismissed) as New Agey. I hope someday we can stop apologizing for alighting on the far side of a sphere.

Nonetheless, I found the discussion of symbolic language really resonant. I would be interested in reading Zachary’s paper, then hearing the rest of the dialogue between these obviously fine minds and thoughtful hearts; so I’m glad you shared the link, @achronon. It saved me a search.


Yes, the academic contempt is ever present for the housewives who talk to plants, the hands on healers, and massage therapists who use essential oils, the one eyed acupuncturist you go to when you have a stomach ache, the herbalist with jars and tinctures, the old ladies who read tarot, the New Age is a hodge podge and Zak scoofs at it with his superior knowledge-wisdom phd kind of thing. That kind of scorn for the working class/suburban magicians the academe expresses is an indicator of a bias.

I can forgive such snobbery as I am more interested in where Zak is perceiving-participating from, which I find most compatible to much of what we homegrown soothsayers are trying to stitch together here. We are drawn to healthy forms of magic as I believe is indicated in our work with metaphor and our drawings and voice work and unpretentious style of presentation. The grand theorizers of everything are running out of gas, too, it appears. I am hopeful that Zak will find a new tone of voice as the highbrow jargon will not translate well to the plebs he genuinely seems to care about. This was the only sour note in his performance. I have learned much from him.

It is the store clerks and cashiers who are keeping our society moving and they are the big heroes here and many of them I have found read Plato and Karl Marx. I know this from personal experience as I have worked under the shadows with them my entire life.

There is a senior shopping hour at Trader Joe’s. As I checked out at the register, I felt a wave of gratitude for the young person with the crucifix around her neck, who rang up my groceries. I thanked her for her sacrifice. She said, simply," We love you." This kind gesture, a love for the stranger, is what holds society together.


Reading Zak’s article is helpful. Thanks for sharing the link.You might find it interesting that Zak is a big fan of Steiner. I think a capacity for embracing the mythopoetic is a sign of the Second Axial Age. Bellah mentions that the mental rides piggy back on the mythopoetic which it tends to imagine it has transcended. Zak recognizes in the liminal zones the mythic mind can make sense in ways the Mental can’t. We need to use all of our knowledge and use all of it well


I can too, I hope. It takes one to know one, after all. I will check in again after I’ve read the paper. I am a stinky, sloppy porker who just happens to be a connoisseur of the finer slop. Every once in a while I find a pearl in there.


I will talk pretty someday.


This is my Gratitude to U Cafe’ Friends ; Bring to Language,Careful Thought to the Moment:

Zen Pause

To Bring “A Steady Heart”


All of that stuff doesn’t mean shit, says a grumpy genius, William Irwin Thompson,. He is a hard core Gebserian, who offers a brief personal history that traces out some of the cultural landscape that many of us continue to resonate with. Thompson is worth contrasting and comparing with Zak’s crowd, which comes out of the Wilberian wave, which Thompson is highly critical of. He is a pioneer in many fields, including education. And with all of this research creation what happens now?


These old Lindisfarne tapes give a very good feel for the complex weave of visionary thinkers that Thompson co-sponsored. He was ahead of the curve and much of what came later in the name of the Integral. Some of these thinkers were in their prime in the 80s and 90s and they are doing serious culture work, even as the New Age was in full swing. Let us hope, as we gaze into the abyss, that there is a baton we can pass on to the next generation. The future is in the instant.

I read Zachary’s paper, and also listened to the remainder of the dialogue. I think it’s interesting that Zach & co are trying to articulate a kind of counter-counter-culture — similar to (but different than) Will Thompson & the Lindisfarne experiment. I particularly resonated with the discussion of education and the importance of getting beyond the factory/industrial model in order to reprioritize the intergenerational transmission of culture (not merely technical skills and cognitive mastery, but character building and spiritual formation) as a primary function of the educational process.

Zachary addresses some of the points we’ve discussed in previous Cosmos Cafés such as this one: Postformal Pedagogies and Complex Futures [CCafe 10/30] and this: Cosmos Café [4/30] - Free Progress Education, as well as our discussion of “screen culture” here: Cosmos Café: Stare into the lights my pretties—a talk with filmmaker Jordan Brown [2/20]

For example, he writes:

Let us not forget that the modern sciences of learning, which are ignored in the design of most educational technologies, tell us that learning is optimised when it involves sustained interpersonal relationships, emotional connection, embodiment, and dynamically interactive hands-on experiences. Based on the best of what we know about the dynamics of learning, educational technologies should be bringing people together away from screens– not isolating individuals alone in front of screens. Technologies ought to help us customise learning and provide universal access to information through useful, well organised, and curated content. They should not be the primary locus of attention or main source of interaction and instruction.

I also liked this point:

To be with each other in reality, to be with the reality of each other, means taking the time to step out of the simulations of reality presented on our many screens. If screens must be used for real-time communication, see through them and into the facticity of the person, however far away, and witness them being transmitted through immensely complex fiberoptic lattices and rare-earth metals.

This is a valuable reminder that there is a real person on the other side of the screen (which I know, should be obvious—but the technology subtly seems to cause us to forget).

I also found resonant the point about cultural work being carried on by small groups who can give it sustained attention. Perhaps we can pick up on these points in a future Café or other dialogue. It’s always up to each of us, within our networks and communities and our selves, to keep the flame alive—especially during the darkest times.


I hope we can make this happen. Thanks, Marco, for pointing out the past Cafes that have contributed to this vibrating network which we each have made more resonant through our best efforts. If you do not trust the ones you are with nothing worthwhile is going to happen. As we have given considerable attention to our intentions and our styles of presentation, we can appreciate that differences make differences and the uniqueness of the other person greatly advances our enjoyment of wisdom and creates conditions for the aesthetic surprise of alternate ways of knowing.

The face and gestures that you see though the flat screen , and the voice that you hear through the speakers of your laptop, are living mirrorings of unseen and unheard depths of shared interiors. If we use speaker view we can touch gently with the synesthetic mind, and sense the curve of the mandala of the Self resting upon the mutual shared curving of the planet as we gaze into the eye of the other. Emerson pointed this out in his essay we read Circles.

If we plaster faces in boxes upon the flat screen as in gallery view we are fragmenting the living mirror into a bland featureless, algorithmic machinic blur, like a wanted poster at the post office, we are obscuring the potent communiques emerging from the more affective, liminal zones. The gallery view might support a didactic purpose, as the students or employees are lined up in row but this arrangment can obscure the non-linear changes in more informal communiques. It is very much how we use this technology that will influence our next phase of collective development.

The eye is the window of the soul. Look carefully on the screen to the left eye of the person who is talking, give attention to the left ear. You might gain rapport with the right side of the brain-mind,as the vaster kinestheic-spatial rhythms of the speaker are revealed through slow mind.

Whether in person or on a flat screen we can connect to the subtle as we gaze through the screen into the psychic space of the person, not to be confused with the physics of the person. Facility with drawing and gesture and voice are of extreme importance if we are to gather the warm data necessary for flowering of our collaborative natures.

We are just beginning to learn how to work ethically with this technology in our small world networks. The learning curve if we are attentive could be immense as this transition amplified by the pandemic is sweeping away structures that we feared would last forever. This would be to realize a waking lucidity that many of us have yearned for. The Master/Slave dynamic may be let go of as depths and surfaces re-organize our culture through our conscious participation.

We can ask a simple question whether in waking state or dreaming," Where am I perceiving this from?" For the soul has a size and a shape.

A beautiful woman appeared to me in a dream. Her left eye was was in the center of a swastika. She traced with her finger the shape of the swastika, which surrounded her eye, a divine symbol in Hindu tradition, stolen by the Nazis. She says." Don’t write about this."

I have broken with her command. Now is the time to steal the Promethean fire, to step into the mythopoetic without succumbing to amnesia, to use the efficient Mental to ask meta- questions of the Unconscious and to take good notes and make an honest report.