Summer Reading Plans / Updating our Cosmos Café Hours, Menu, and Format

@readers, @ccafe crew, & @metapsychonauts ~

With the holiday weekend (in the USA) and the summer season (in the Northern Hemisphere) officially underway, I’ve been reflecting on the various projects on my plate—actually, books stacked up and papers piled all around me—and pondering how best to choreograph the play of research-creation these materials represent.

On Thursday, June 1, 2018 12:00 AM, we will begin our “Journey to Supermind” with an introductory session on Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine—with meetings every couple weeks tentatively planned, and concurrent or branching-off readings proposed for Savitri, The Synthesis of Yoga, and/or Debaneshish Banerji’s The Seven Quartets of Becoming (which seems like it could be a good bridge between Aurobindo’s metaphysics and contemporary philosophical thought)—depending, of course, on who shows up and what they want to do.

We are also continuing with our reading of Erin Manning’s The Minor Gesture (next meeting on June 6, 2018 3:00 PM) and finishing a reading of Gao Xingjian’s Soul Mountain on Friday June 1, 2018 6:00 PM, beyond which I imagine we’ll be adding more fiction and poetry (TBD) to our Readers/Writers Underground repertoire. This could also include some readings in psychedelic literature…maybe even developing a concept of reading as (a kind of slow time, endogenous) psychedelic experience.

I think it would be also be cool to some more explicit history later this summer or fall. A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History by Manuel De Landa (brought to my attention by @care_save) looks like a strong candidate, and I’m sure @patanswer would have an idea or two. :smile:

However, in the Café we have nothing really planned, and so at this time I’d like to make a couple proposals.

  1. Donna J. Haraway’s recent book, Staying with the Trouble has come up a few times, and based on what I’ve read so far, it seems like it would provide an excellent way to follow through on many of threads we’ve been working with over the past few months, re: ecological thinking and our response to planetary crisis. It has 8 chapters, which I would like to suggest we read one at a time, weekly, for Café-style discussion during our Tuesday sessions. Here is the Introduction and Chapter 1, if you’d like to take a look: Haraway-Staying-with-the-Trouble_intro_ch1.pdf (493.8 KB) [You can Google for the entire book in PDF format.]

  2. Sometime after Haraway, I would like to suggest that we take on the fictional Hanzi Frienacht’s manifesto for Metamodernism, The Listening Society, which multiple forum members have expressed an interest in, and would carry on the conversation about how a contemporary integral politics could be theorized and practiced.

Between these two readings, I wonder if we could schedule a session with Steven Rosen (as @Lisa has offered to coordinate), and I believe an exploration of genius (e.g., the chapter from Irreducible Mind) or creativity could also be in order. But I think we should schedule these in advance, and in the meantime (let’s say, starting on Tuesday, 6/5) begin reading Haraway. I do like open frames and Stammitsch sessions, but feel these would best come in between more structured reads. Thoughts?

I would also like to make a personal request that we change our Tuesday Café meeting time to an hour earlier (high noon, Mountain Time) so our first session on the Trouble would occur on June 5, 2018 6:00 PM. This would just work a little better for my schedule, and would also be slightly more Euro-friendly. However, I would want to tmake sure this still works for all the regulars. Objections?

Finally, I would also like to work on the format for our Cosmos Café talks, introducing more structure, but also opening it up participation by others in a hopefully friendlier way. Here’s my thought:

Do you really want to know?


On the one hand, we have a small group of regulars (and occassionals) that has developed some rapport, and I’d like to keep that. On the other, I’d like to welcome in new blood, but in a way that doesn’t disrupt the flow of our ongoing talks or unnecessarily put newbies on the spot. I realize it can be intimidating to jump into a live, recorded discussion on often-deep topics with people you probably haven’t met or talked with before.

So what if we create an intermediary, off-screen zone where people who are interested in the Cafés and would like to participate can ‘lurk’ for a while, and use the chat to participate, but then have the opportunity to come on screen at some point later in the call? The format I’m imagining would look something like this:

  • First 60 minutes: discussion amongst regulars and present-occassionals on the day’s topic with newbies invited to listen in and share their thoughts/questions via chat. However, each talk would be led by a regular or occasional (with rotating leadership).
  • At the top of the hour: we take a pause and read some of the contributions from the lurkers, giving this about ~30 minutes.
  • The last 30 minutes: is open and newbies can join us on camera if they wish; or, at this point, we can just shoot the breeze or go in any direction.

Over time, as newbies --> occassionals --> regulars, we might split out other sessions (with other café managers, baristas, and cafeteers) who take advantage of our franchise opportunities. Yes, you too can start your own Cosmos Café with our easy-to-follow plans!

One more thing: I’m having ideas about creating a Cosmos Café “menu” that organizes our various topics into themes, which could be presented nicely on a web page.

This might be too silly, I don't know:




Please share your own suggestions and requests!

To summarize:

  1. I reviewed what’s coming up in the Readers Underground (which usually meets on Thursday or Friday), and suggested some future possibilities (esp. readings in poetry, fiction, and history)
  2. I proposed that, in the Café (which meets on Tuesday) we read Staying with the Trouble followed by The Listening Society. In between, we’d have room for guests or other interesting topics.
  3. I requested shifting the time of the Tuesday Café an hour earlier, so beginning at 12 noon Mountain time.
  4. I suggested a way we could format our Café session to maintain our core group coherence, while inviting newbies/lurkers to participate in a more gradual or graduated ways.
  5. I also made up some silly names for our Café menu.

Thoughts? Ideas? Feedback? Thanks for your attention!

*To any friends down under, sorry for the Northern Hemisphere-centric framing in the topic title.

cc: @metapsy-collective



All sounds great! Exciting.

I am very interested in the supermind reading group. How do I sign on?


Michael Schwartz

Augusta GA

I think this is a good plan, Marco, emerging out of the tradition that has been established at the Cafe and re-imagining the adjacent possibilities that might want to emerge. I have sat back and let others come forward most recently as I have other projects developing. I like a disciplined flow. Good improvisations require a special set of skills. It is fun to go all over the place as long as we have a frame to start with and that we can return to when things get off track. This is part of the fun.

I imagine the most interesting experiences at the Cafe occur when there is adequate time for preparing mind(s). Eurekas rarely occur without a prepared mind and with so many events being offered we need time to prepare the mind so that the actual occasions when we show up can fructify. I have been frustrated by the poor planning which in my humble opinion thwarts the serendipitous learnings that can happen. So Haraway is a very good one to work with.

I don’t mind new people coming in who add a well informed view about what is interesting to them as long as they have bothered to read the chapter. Such well informed participation is welcome but I dont like the idea of treating anyone as a ‘lurker’. I believe there are too many lurkers in social media.

I believe it is a bad idea to lurk around and wait and see if the group is right for you. Read the text, form an idea and find the right time to bring forward your view. After developing rapport and sharing your influence you may then make suggestions about the direction we could go in. This is more of a club than it is a study group, as relational as much as it is task oriented. It is a more intimate zone but when it works best is when someone drives the bus. We can certainly take turns driving. We need to frame the discussion thoughtfully, be courteous to guest or the author we are focusing upon and then let it happen.

What I like about the Cafe, and hope it will be preserved, is the sense that we are all newbies. We are, each of us, a little bit out of our depths, and that is okay.


The only issue I have with this is the reading schedule. I am currently maxed out, tackling Haraway on top of everything else will be too much, I think. Certainly a chapter a week. If you did every second Cafe on Haraway, and in between we did more informal discussions, e.g. with guests, I could probably manage it. I might have some ideas/contacts for guests, too, if I put my mind to it…


So - 1) tomorrow for the @ccafe time change? an hour earlier.
2) I started reading “Trouble” - It fits in perfectly. Tomorrow’s lead topic? I can do “seed questions” & post , if you’d like?

3) love the idea of a cafe “menu”
1 Like

What am I learning from this convocation of dreamers and critics that have come together on the Cafe? We have different styles and different tempos. We need to get better at finding the down beat, hearing the right pitch, aware of minor and major gestures of our fellow performers in motion. If we go sour while hitting a high note we need to pay attention to that. As we are living in different time zones and with different agendas it takes a greater sensitivity to the stress zones that are important. We need to get better at transcending and translating between disciplines.

I am most interested in the experiential and process oriented than the theoretical. I sense that this Cafe may not be the right space to develop those kinds of far out, active visionary experiments. This space seems to have a more cognition-centric bias, a kind of let’s sit back and think about what we are thinking about. And as a space to summarize or get a handle on different trends within and beyond the Cosmos site this is useful and enjoyable.

It would be nice to have a sense of where each person who shows up is showing up from? That will vary no doubt, from day to day, session to session. Some of us may be having post rational fast forwards and need alternate frames of reference. Some people do not want that, they are fine with with the frames of reference they already have. That may appear to them as an intrusion or violation of norms.

As a storyteller, I am very aware of the stories we use to tell our stories. Science and art are kissing cousins and odd bedfellows. And as we are multi-cultural citizens, often stuck in a mono-phasic bias, that has a crippling effect sometimes on our discourse events. I believe we have enacted this twist in the mobius strip in some of our recent episodes.

I think what I have learned from this experiment is that my kind of experimenting is perhaps not what the Cafe needs. And that is good for me to know so I wont inflict my own needs onto this particular configuration. I may continue to develop those needs in other group formations, such as the underground channel(s), and then report those discoveries, to the Cafe if they warrant reporting. I am grateful for everyone’s support and the kindness that I often have felt come towards me. I sense this is the essence of co-sponsorship and hopefully we can balance the homelessness that many of us have given voice to, with a more active social engagement system.

I tend to agree with Geoffrey. Haraway is a big book and it will take more than just a village to read this well. I think we should save the Cosmos for short essays, articles or films and topical stuff. It is more like Saturday Night Live than the deep dives we do at the Reader’s or Writer’s Underground. We need to cultivate the slow and the fast, not too loose and not too tight.


Mark, I love your enthusiasm but I feel we are moving too fast on Haraway. I agree with Geoffrey. I feel we are not integrating much of what we are opening up and need to reorient ourselves. We cant decide a day before the cafe what we are going to do at the cafe. It is not enough time to read and absorb a complex thinker like Haraway. Maybe we need to press the pause button. I like reading something smaller and manageable and that we know well in advance as the topic. As we are meeting up weekly, that is a different energy than a monthly meet up.


There is a bit of disconnect here, I think. I’m easy anyway anyone wants to go. It would be nice to know when I should try to log in, however, or does the disconnect indicate a one-week hiatus?

1 Like

Trying for clarification is what i’m up to. I’m ok with whatever. I read marco’s proposal as just the first chapter of the book, and then one each week? Reading the intro, seems to me the book is about all the things we’ve been talking about - so in that way, it is “integrating” the “conversation”. That’s what she’s trying to do / calling for, i think.
… I’m ok with whatever you decide. Date and time, i’ll be there … most likely.


Precisely my point … just what is “on tap” tomorrow?

The text he provided is the intro plus chapter 1, whereby the intro could also be considered a chapter (say, 0, even if it is short), but he says later we could start discussing her book on 5 Jun. That was the disconnect for me.

Of course, I started glancing over the intro, just to get a feel for what’s she’s on about, and agree that she’s talking about a lot of the same things that have been coming up over and over again in many of our recent CCafés, which does make in “integrating” in exactly the sense that I think you’re using the term. While searching for an online pdf version of the entire text (which I found without t-o-o much effort), I stumbled across a talk Haraway gave at the SF Art Institute in 2017 which consisted in “long quotes” (although presented extemporaneously) from her intro/ch1 plus some supporting examples and further discussion of themes she addresses in the book. I’m guessing that it’s a concise, but accurate, overview of the whole project. For the most part, it’s not overly challenging listening/watching, even if she has a tendency (which I’ll forgive her for, considering her audience) to get a little jargony in places. (Then again, her way of expressing herself is as much worth thinking more about as is the content of what she’s trying to bring across.)

But, be that as it may … I’ll be there tomorrow, I was only interested in knowing whether it would be an hour earlier than usual ? We’ve still got 24 hours or so … perhaps we’ll find out.

One of the people I am thinking about approaching for a Cafe is my friend and collaborator Marie Louise Bourbeau. I’m not sure if she would accept, she is quite busy, but she is an expert on breathing for both singers and non-singers, and I thought it might be interesting, both for her and for us, to try some sort of an online chat focussed around some of her breathing exercises. She often incorporates a bit of chanting into her workshops for the general public (i.e. non singers), and that might fit with our other interests.

I also think my friend Cora (who is on the Manning chat) might be coaxed into doing something similar in relation to dance. She could talk about some of her work in dancing with children and dancing with people with disability, and integrate some active exercises as well. She did a session like that years ago for a research group we were involved in, it was a memorable experience.

So a more “practical” arm (or legs) for the Cafe?


I have advocated for alternate ways of knowing until I am blue in the face. I think it is time for me to lie down and do my breath exercises. I dont know that we are ready for anything that radical.

Hi Mark, good to see you again! Here’s where you can follow all the Aurobindo stuff:

You can also update your settings to track posts in this particular channel:

And you can adjust your email preferences…

Like this (click me)

Maybe we’ll sort out our plan for the Café. I agree with @johnnydavis54 that some advance planning is best, hence my proposal.

A chapter of week of Haraway’s book is, I think, on its own, perfectly doable, maybe even ideal—and would be a way of integrating (by re-viewing, re-thinking) many similar ideas we’ve been discussing all along. However, point well taken (via @Geoffreyjen_Edwards) that this is in addition to Aurobindo, Manning, Xingjian, et al. Too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing, of course.

But then again, no one has to read everything everybody else is reading. This is all radically optional, and what I like is that we’re cultivating different channels or ‘spaces’—underground, aboveground, etc.—where different people can focus on different things, which nonetheless, by virtue of being interrelated in a meta-space, have something to do with one another, which makes possible some very interesting (imo) creative overlaps and resonances.

My desire is to keep the Café alive, so I’m trying to solve the logistical question: What will we talk about next week? Having a few chapter books lined up answers the question for most weeks, while leaving room for guests, one-off topics, open frames, and other ways of knowing. Haraway’s book, btw, is 168 pps. (or 228 including the Notes), divided into 8 chapters, so an average of 30 pps./week (max). But again, for some (including myself) this would be in addition to a lot of other reading. Not to mention writing and editing, etc. So maybe every other week would be fine.

Or maybe I need to go gonzo left-brain for a spell and make a budget of books, pages, time… We never get to eat everything on the menu! Why don’t we talk about it tomorrow? However, I would definitely like to have a plan for the summer. I prefer not to be winging it every week, with everything else going on.


I still think Haraway deserves a different space from the Cafe. I think it is a big book in terms of ideas and needs more of an intellectual commitment. I think the Cafe is better suited for movies or videos, short but thoughtful contrastive viewpoints of different writers, more like the mother! quintet we did a few weeks ago.

Do we really need another full length book to discuss?

I hope can start meeting objections at least halfway before we start the bus and start driving. Did anyone bother to bring a map? Another extravaganza to nowhere is the last thing I need. A small party with appetizers please! I dont need another giant buffet.

1 Like

So, what time tomorrow?

Have you seen our bus, @johnnydavis54?

Pripyat, Chernobyl (The Exclusion Zone)

May 29, 2018 6:00 PM


So maybe we should get out of the bus and walk? Maybe hitch a ride to town. I am a bit tired of too much travel. Getting a bit of vertigo.

Perhaps we could construct a group list of “commentable films” - that is, films old or new that might benefit from a deeper collective conversation and that fit with the broader range of interests characteristic of this site.

Here are some films I have seen that I consider possible candidates. Note that I have not listed other films I’d like to see but do not know much about (Tarkovsky’s other films, for example) :

Wings of Desire : great complex film, highly poetic
Arrival : could be worth doing
Blade Runner & Blade Runner 2049 : the combo would be fun
Contact & 2001 A Space Odyssey : these also make an interesting combo
Fahrenheit 451 : I think someone already suggested this
The Lathe of Heaven : A decent production of Leguin
Childhood’s End : The recent version
Interstellar : Not sure about this one, although I have read interesting commentary about it
Mars & Avril : Lepage’s film, not widely available in English although it can be found - great film, also complex and poetic
The Zero Theorem - interesting film, haven’t seen much about it
Synechdoche, New York - I loved this but it is an acquired taste, maybe?
Immortal : - Another French film available in English at link provided - screening of Erik Bilal’s classic Bande Dessinée


@takeurvitamins, in her personal introduction, has made these suggestions (some nice overlaps):

Regarding “lurkers,” I meant that in the friendliest way. :female_detective:

It’s just that I’ve heard from a few people (including amongst us oldie-newbies) that being on camera, and being recorded, with the video posted publicly, can be intimidating. Naturally, some people are more extroverted or introverted, more or less comfortable being “on stage” (performing), as real as we may keep it. And I wonder what we’re losing in neurodiversity by not providing a more gradual on-ramp for quieter voices.

However, on the other side, it’s no fun being lurked at, so I’m not quite sure I have a technical answer. As well, I am trying to think about this at a platform-design level, in response to some of the visionary concepts in @care_save’s Key Docs:

^^ which also would be a good topic for an upcoming Café.