[Proposal] Cosmos Café - Introducing The Patterning Instinct

Proposals are percolating brews brewing, waiting for the right time-space for an introduction to our ever-growing, always-pulsating Cosmos Café menu and calendar. Give the proposal a like if you think it would be a good addition to the list of Cosmic brews.

In your time zone: TBD

ZOOM video conference: Launch Meeting - Zoom

From @care_save:

Reading / Watching / Listening

Seed Questions

  • Q1
  • Q2

Context, Backstory, and Related topics

  • Other relevant links or topics, e.g., leading up to this talk
  • Links to additional reading, viewing, listening

Agenda items

  • Coordinating upcoming sessions
  • Tech questions
  • Other procedural issues
  • Meta / reflections on Café practice itself

This looks very interesting, so, I hope Carolyn could present a relevant chapter and make this a Cafe topic. I believe we need to sponsor our favorites rather than hope others will take in our orphans and protect them. Thinkers we admire need our sponsorship. I advocate for authors and thinkers I like and try to make it a happening. Please, Carolyn, make a date and give us the assignment, and I will be glad to show up and develop this further. I am curious.


I honestly wouldn’t be able to get to this book for some months but the topic is certainly “right up my alley” and, from a ‘scouting distance’, it seems Lent has indeed put together a compelling case. If perspectives from similar territory covered be allowed, I would be honored to participate in whatever way I could.


I’m with TJ on this one. I doubt I’d be able to get to this till most likely October (and depending on how the Axial Age reading is progressing by then). It’s long (Amazon says 569 pages), so a teaser session may be in order, but a complete reading would take some organization, that’s for sure.


@care_save introduced this book to the Reading Suggestions thread about this time last year and I too felt it would be a worthwhile group deep-read and would make for a great comparative study of recent and past (and future) explorations. I posted this proposal unbeknownst to Caroline (I don’t know if this is what you meant by sponsoring others…!), but I think she can handle the pressure to take the lead on introducing this massive book and concept to the Café :exploding_head: I will leave it up to Caroline to determine the content and the time for this Café and we can take it from there.

As previously discussed in other threads, such as the Patterning Language proposal, the current Café time slot need not be the sole, official Café time slot. I like @achronon observation that the Café need not be imagined as an institution but as a format. In my imagining, the Cosmos Café table is just a location in a fully public park with a dazzling menu selection open to anyone anytime and open to any ideas from anyone at anytime . . . just note that someone might have reserved a time to sit there (though you are still welcome to have a seat), so it good practice to check in with the communal calendar attendant (Marco or Doug) to see when a spot is open.


I hope Carolyn will do an appetizer for us at the Cafe. Maybe a longer study will emerge out of that. We have just started doing The Axial Age and I have noticed that a small group of sponsors, rather than one person making a pitch, may create more of a consistent performance. If a core group is established and has feet upon the ground, we can gaze up at the stars, and have an interesting experience. The longer term effort of the reading group are not easy to maintain without a committed core group. It is better not to start a big project rather than start a big project and fizzle. We need safe to fail experiments. I already have too many unfinished reading projects, I don’t need anymore of them. A group should motivate us to actually finish a difficult book and help us complete some distinctions. This is happening but it is not magic. It is actually hard work!

I have a concern that is just coming up. Please, let us not become an information dump. We have all the information we will ever need. Completing distinctions is become a pressing need as more and more research is making less and less sense. This is difficult to monitor as experts are in such a muddle. More people popping in to rally around a pet project is fine as long as we have enough stability. I am mindful of when we start to wobble, as we try to lift something heavy when there are few persons really concentrating. You are only as effective as the other person’s attention. Most people, as Tim Morton says, are getting ready to change the channel. Let’s do something different.

I hope we continue to make a solid effort to stabilize attention spans. Changing the time of the events may open up opportunities, while shutting down others. It is a mixed blessing, this asynchronous world. There is no freedom without constraints. Are there some patternings detectable in this meta- message? I’m not sure.

Let’s keep Book Culture alive! Thanks for everyone’s valiant efforts.


it did arrive today, so though on the back burner for now, count me in when it is time to turn the heat up… :grinning:


Hello all, just seeing this all now. Grateful and humbled for the various expressions of “sponsorship” here. Thank you.

October sounds like fine timing to start this. And if you can fit me in to a nearby Cafe for an intro to the text I’d be happy to do so. Let’s schedule that, anyhow.

Happy for the interest, as this book is one of a few seminal texts serving as the platform for the book I am trying to produce one day–as soon as possible, which could be years, but still, it is very much on my mind. I’d love to be party to others’ processings of this book. And I concur with @patanswer that we should & could integrate other perspectives on the same subjects into the reading – would appreciate and accept help organizing that aspect. The book really lends itself to an inquiry about these “cognitive structures” historically and cross-culturally, one which I’ve yearned to deepen since reading it.



Started the book this week. An interesting tying together of some familiar trains of thought (for this group certainly!). Lent writes quite conversationally, which makes for a refreshing reading experience.
He could be accused of a few reductionist approaches of his own while presenting his argument for ‘connectedness’ but in the end it is the argument that matters. It is evident that he intends to keep a clear focus on the current ecological predicament.
I will post further “book-report” entries here as I come across striking ideas.


I am waiting for the book to arrive. After listening to the interview I sense that the author is sensitive to the power of the metaphorical mind and draws upon cognitive linguistics, which is the area of the library, I find most interesting. I really love metaphor and the more I study it the more slippery it becomes. I look forward to your book reports, TJ, and hope to catch up with you.

I have also posted a dialogue with Nora Bateson that compliments the theme of this book. I appreciate how many researchers are working in adjacent fields, creating mind-waves, and lots of diversity. Never a boring moment!

And maybe we need to protect our right to be bored? I have noticed that what appears too slow for the fast mind is just right for the slow mind. As students of history and culture we need to appreciate how these different waves interact to produce more stable structures and more coherent social processes. We have to resist the tendency to rush to get to the good parts. To be a good scholar is a lot of work. More on this later.


Especially where our identification of “the good parts” and our wisdom on what to do with them may be shaky…


I really did like this book. Despite warning myself against it, I find my notes a little too concerned with where Lent did “drive-by” history to make his points, so I’ll change my tack.

With everyone’s permission I would like to open this thread to discussion specifically of the concluding sections of the book: Chapter 20 “Consuming the Earth in the Modern Era” and Chapter 21 “Trajectories to Our Future”. It is here that Lent most eloquently outlines his main quest and I would love to hear opinions on it. Lent, ultimately, would like to see our metaphor for nature change from “MACHINE TO BE ENGINEERED” to “WEB OF MEANING”.

However contributors are able to get a hand on the book and whenever over the next few months it fits into the schedule, if it does, is OK.

But here are some hors d’oeuvres :smiling_imp::

“Has our global civilization found itself in [Goethe’s(!)] Sorcerer’s Apprentice dilemma? Has the technological magic unleashed by scientific knowledge placed us on a trajectory accelerating ever faster out of control? Or do we have it within ourselves to find the sorcerer’s spell that can restore harmony in our world?” (p. 375)

“The busy façade of modern life, with its endless flurry of cell phones, sports updates, e-mails, and celebrity news, covers an emptiness that no one wants to feel.” (p.376)

“Once based on tangible objects, money has become an increasingly abstract entity, now residing solely as a symbol in our shared consciousness. And yet, the more abstract it has become, the more powerful its hold over the human trajectory.” (p. 381)

“The story of our civilization’s inadequate response to the threat of climate change is illustrative of how society’s predominant values are at odds with humanity’s own intrinsic well-being.” (p. 392)

“This self-defeating collective dynamic… highlights a crucial flaw in capitalist ideology: the notion that it is inevitably beneficial for society when each person seeks to maximize his own gain. Underlying this notion is an even more fundamental defect of classical economic theory; the assumption that nature is inexhaustible. When the framework of modern economics was developed in the eighteenth century, it seemed reasonable to view natural resources as unlimited because, for all intents and purposes, they were… As we’ve seen, the experience of the past fifty years has proven that assumption to be wrong.” [my italics] (p. 397)


You certainly have my permission, TJ, as well as my sincere blessings. I am intend to read the whole book but I can focus on those two chapters. It is not necessary to read it all to have a good group study. This book compliments much that we discussed today on the Axial Age call. I hope we can get a temporary link soon so that I can review what was said today. My practice has been to review the live sessions as soon as they are available so that I can search for new metaphorical constructs that may want to happen, metaphors that are often lurking in the joint attention of the participant-observers.

I sense that we are already moving ( if we are not already there) towards a Second Order Culture. A quote from Lent’s book that resonates.

" The patterning each person uses to impose meaning on the world ultimately affects the actions and choices they make in the world. When aggregated to an entire civilization, these patterns of meaning shape history and fundamentally alter the world around us. In the words of cognitive linguist George Lakoff " metaphorical concepts structure our present reality. New metaphors have the power to create a new reality." p.23

By the way, George Lakoff, is an intellectual hero of mine. Someday I might sponsor a conversation on metaphor. Clean Language emerges out of Cognitive Linguistics. I like that Lent is so drawn to this kind of research. David Loffler was working at cognitive history, too. Maybe we can develop all of this research creation further?

What kind of knowledge communities would we create beyond current manic capitalism? This is a worthwhile discussion. The stock market plunged again today after the Fed cut interest rates.