Planning a reading of (/from) Peter Sloterdijk's Spheres trilogy

A few of us have discussed the idea of reading one (or more?) of the books from Sloterdjik’s SPHERES trilogy, as a sequel to our reading of Jean Gebser’s The Ever-Present Origin last year and kick-off to a new season of cooperative reading.

<strong>A few background posts</strong>

And Jeremy back in April…

The purpose of this topic is develop this proposal, and clarify details such as timing, structure, costs, and individual participation.

My initial ideas would be read either Volume 1 or 2 (or both) in a format that’s a bit more relaxed than the Gebser reading last year, which met 2x/week for 3 months and worked through the entire book rather intensively.

I would prefer to meet something more like once every 2 weeks, and give six months to the book, so it could be something we absorb more slowly without taking all the energy from other things that also want and need to happen in the co-op as a whole.

As with Gebser, each section or chapter could also have it’s own dedicated thread on the forum for asynchronous dialogue.

@johnnydavis54 has said he’d like to help, and John David Ebert said he’d like to participate as well; and I think if we put out the word, we’d easily find a few more contributors.

As well, John (Davis) has expressed a preference for reading Volume 2, which I am fine with and the see the relevance of in our contemporary political moment, where “globalization” is such a crux (though I currently own Volume 1, drats!), but would like to hear how others feel about it.

We’ll need to work with the asymmetry of respective differences in familiarity with the material. I could imagine alternating, for example, between Q/A type sessions with JDE and other scholars, who already knows the material well, and more open, community-led discussions with John, me, and I hope others holding the space. That said, I think the reading will go best as a collaborative effort overall. Incorporating in a few comparative or aesthetic excursuses—open to ideas on this—might also be fun.

I’ll also mention that last year we asked for donations and received just over $700 from participants and well-wishers. So I would like to consider the economic dimension of our effort, and what will make it feasible for us individually to help organize the reading; not to profit and get rich, but to acknowledge the time, care, and conscientiousness that’s required to create the conditions where participants can have a good experience.

Last note: I’ve heard from a couple others interested in reading Teilhard de Chardin’s The Human Phenomenon; and personally, I would like to read some fiction too with a group in the coming months.

I don’t mind having a few books going at once. I think it will be a strength of the co-op if there’s a diversity of reading groups for people to choose from. So just keep in mind the ecosystem we’re simultaneously creating and what else we might have going on in the bigger bubble.


I’d like to add some specific objectives to this topic to ensure that we answer the logistical questions before delving into the theory and vision. I’d prefer to do this first, then open to dreaming about the space more generally, if our aim is to act.

In fact, the reading itself will entail a meditation on the space and provide rich ground all kinds of explorations. But let’s make sure we answer these questions so we can craft our commitments of time and attention accordingly.

  • Which book are we reading?
  • When will we begin?
  • How much time will we give it? What will be our pace and reading schedule?
  • How will we engage and interact with readers? How often?
  • Who will we invite to participate and how?
  • What will we ask of them?

As we come to decisions I will collect them for summary (or any of you can). This will provide a framework for the public invitation we create and our execution plan.

Thank you! And I apologize for not being clearer on this earlier.


I am not attached to the order of the reading. I have all three volumes so am glad to start at the beginning. If we have the energy to do volume two together that would be great, too. I’m sure I could tackle Volume 2 on my own by reading Volume 1 with a group. I like your plan Marco and am open to however way you want to do this. The slower pace would probably be easier. The Gebser flew by.

I have a few research questions I could come up with around reading and writing. I believe I shared this with you and Carolyn in a previous post and that might be fun to develop before we start the read. This would be good to do live on zoom as you and I did with Zaq. We could do it at quick pace with a few people who might want to participate in my research project.A Transformational Reading Project!

When you are reading at your best that’s like what?
When you are writing at your best that’s like what?

Sharing our metaphors for these basic skills we have already developed might stimulate a group resonance at a meta-level. Just an idea.

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I’ve had the thought that we should read all three. Hardcore, right?

But there is certainly something to say for reading Globes at this moment in time, not to mention biting off something we can chew. I’d be curious what Ebert and others think.

Let’s use a separate topic, @johnnydavis54, for organizing Clean Language experiments.

I’ve also created one here:

I had also started this here, but maybe you didn’t see it?

What if we incorporate your two questions into a Welcome post or orientation page for this reading (and other readings)? These could be optional reflection questions that we ask new readers on some kind of “intake form” (not CL-specific, but more general) to invoke the field of possibility of what it’s like when people are reading and writing “at their best.” They could share these answers or keep them to themselves, but they would be there in the meta-space.

What else might we ask of potential readers; and how best might we serve them?

As I mentioned over in the “Gebser course” thread, I have no real preferences one way or the other.

I would prefer the slower-paced reading for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that I would probably want to read him in German (since that’s his original communicative medium), asking my fellow readers to provide additional chapter-subchapter-section heading references in addition to page numbers so quotes are easier to find).

As for parallel reading groups … I could handle perhaps a second one, if it were also slower paced, as suggested, but I’d prefer it to be fiction. I’m a big change-of-pace fan, but that’s just me.

Let me try to clarify my intentions. I posted this in another thread but move it here where I believe it actually belong. I want to cross fertilize between readings of different authors and this is how I want to do this. This is a preparation for a modeling project. A very rough draft. Your patience is appreciated.

If we want to move towards visionary experiences, we are going to need new ways of prompting the collective imagination Our failure to do so has bequeathed us the Trump administration and like an ugly fractal this food fight is happening on line everywhere and more recently has happened here too. As I mentioned I want to move out of therapy world and into literary world on line in this new platform and I feel we are heavy already with missed opportunities.

And when you are reading at your best that’s like what?

When I am reading at my best I am a dramaturg.

This metaphor has certain entailments that would have to be worked out in motion with whatever metaphors others are using.

And is there anything else about Dramaturg?

A dramaturg is a professional within a theatre or opera company who deals mainly with research and development of plays or operas. He consults with a wide range of persons within the company and he gives background information to everyone that will be useful to create a vision.

What kind of vision is that?

Vision is not a personal achievement and it is not for a personal gain. It is a collective effort, as in theater or opera, where a disciplined flow creates a powerful sense of a unifying force in the audience that comes through the performers.

You are your own metaphor and it is my belief that the kinds of forums, performances, aesthetic relationships, we want to develop, we will need a few clean listeners, and a few clean interviewers in each group.

Clean starts are very helpful. For example, Marco, for this reading of Spheres I to be really useful this reading will be like what?

And for this reading to be like__________ you will need to be like what?

And for all of the above what support do you need?

For me this falls flat as a questionnaire. It needs to be in time not through time. We need to get verbals and non verbals at the same time. We need the voice and the face and the hands at the same time.

And we need more than just one person’s response. And when we have two or three such interviews in time, for everyone to watch in the archive, we can then move through time and take meta-perspectives. Unless we can do this for the group we are as I said in another thread, pissing in the wind.

You have Marco clarified what you don’t want, an endless thread going nowhere. If after each thread there was a summary of sorts and an action plan sketched out then our collective cognitions would have a place to launch an initiative from.
We need to use analogue and digital communications in ways that we have not yet done. Without the analogue ( which is infinitely richer than the digital) more chaos will continue.

I have much more to develop but need more time to do so. I appreciate how busy we all are and it is a big sacrifice to start a new way of thinking/feeling/operating. My feeling is that as much as I dislike the new technologies they are here and we have to deal with them. Many of us are in training perhaps to break out of the morphogenetic field of the Human. That is a vision I am interested in developing further.

I have peer to peer community in Clean Language which is a high level skill and I expect no one here to develop that skill. I want to develop something here that I can share with Penny and James and Caitlin and they can supervise my efforts here and then I can be the local representative in this group for that meta-learning in that community and feed that back into this group’s initiatives.
This is a different kind of expertise I want to share and develop. None of us are on the same level and we don’t have to be. I am not a systems biologist but I can get a metaphor from someone who is and develop that further for advancing social research and integrating our knowledge.

If we put new wine in old wine skins the old wines skins will break. Let’s do something different, and something better.