The Digital Haunted House

As the Iowa Caucus debacle has made obvious, democratic process has been hijacked by a bad app. The idea that we can leave our big decision making process to Silicon Valley soft ware developers is showing signs of a fissure . There are more things in heaven and earth than can be captured by 1s or 0s.

Douglas Rushkoff believes Tech will not become a solution to anything. We need real people, in real time, breathing together, to make sense. We are still embedded within Nature but are acting collectively ‘as if’ we are doomed to live alone on a station in outer space. That’s crazy!

Today, I am off to my public library to meet with a dozen LGBTQ folks to prepare a response to a lot of shit going down within and beyond our community. I am going to enter into real face to face communications, with real voices, in a really real room. This is scary and rather unpredictable. I can’t delete or edit anyone, change the channel if I get bored.

This risk may be kind of raw but may lead to rapture. Who knows? Out of such rawness relationships can form and societies can actually function. We are planning to go out to dinner afterwards. Maybe, out of these fragile coalitions, a brave new world will emerge?

I will leave my smart phone at home.


LOL. But - and I think this is more to Rushkoff’s point - you will be bringing to the table your considerable ability to reach people through caring, active listening, attention, and sponsorship.
Thank you for sharing this. Rebel Wisdom has generally replaced TED talks for my own limited attention in the past few years because the format and content makes for deeper dives.

I like how he stresses the difference between “information” storage and retrieval, at which Tech certainly excels, and human thriving, which really is at risk as we surrender so much to feed the machine. Again, this is not really “man vs machine” but man vs his own blinders and addictions.
“The Cylons were created by Man,” as you know… :wink: :upside_down_face:

In the playing out of an interstitial vibe the presence of which no longer surprises me, I was reading this (20+ year old!) essay just last night.
Ehrenfeld, David - The Coming Collapse of the Age of Technology.pdf (213.2 KB)


Inner-Outer Worlds

Marshall McLuhan:

We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.

The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village.

There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.

Art is anything you can get away with.

*I don’t necessarily agree with everything I say.

Earth in Human Hands


Just read the essay… even more true in 2020 than it was twenty years ago. Sometimes I despair that there is anything that can be done about this, though.


Me, too. Rebel Wisdom resonates with many of our conversations.

I look forward to reading the article and will get back to you, TJ. As an aside, if we ever get back to the Axial Age project I would like to do a re-think. I get the feeling that we started with the wrong book. We should have started with the Bellah book first and do the one we started second, even though this is out of chronology. Bellah’s book is a very good read and I imagine could help us figure out what happens after we flip. If we have any space in the Spring maybe we can re-organize? I sense that Bellah is Integral but many of his colleagues are still in the transition between efficient and deficient expressions. I may be wrong about that. This is a notoriously slippery slope.

When I am reading at my best I finish what I am reading. I set a high priority upon closure. My reading has way too many open loops, a tendency to suffer from postmodern drift. I still feel too many unanswered questions from that project that still have relevance continue to haunt my digital house. It feels more urgent to exercise ( rather than exorcise) these demons as our incoherent politics reaches a dizzying techno-digital climax!


We all know the plane is going down but it seems those enjoying the long free fall have the votes. One often wonders how the pilots are to be reached. (If they even wish to be reached - Rushkoff paints a troubling picture of disconnect among some “movers and shakers” toward the end of the interview.) Below and behind lies the wreckage of many flights - but we know all about those too… “‘Tis a puzzlement!”

Nice to meet you, Jud!


I am hoping the spring brings renewal in a number of ways. :crossed_fingers:

I agree our explorations are not yet finished; I also agree (IIRC we collectively identified this in the last session) that ‘silo’ thinking still predominated among many anthology contributors while Bellah himself seemed to be in a different place with broader concerns. In any case a rethink is rarely a bad move.

Of one thing I am firmly convinced: we (collective) have become incoherent strangers to ourselves. Our technotopian nightmares and post truth politics alike merely reflect this.


Your observation reminds me of Emily Dickinson, the sibyl from Amherst, who said," I like a look of anguish because I know it’s true."

Even though it hurts to admit that we are incoherent strangers that can be a blessing if we can drop our defenses. The future has arrived too soon. But after the initial shock we can deal better with our circumstances. I think this impulse was also behind some of our talks with Davor which I would like to review. How can we create the conditions for a second-order culture? We are still in an embryonic stage and yet there are some who may have hit a 3rd order capacity already. The capacity to register the grief and sorrow seems to be necessary so that we can wean ourselves off of the Bigger Yam mythology. These transitions can be tricky. It’s getting weird.

And when you go meta at your best… that’s like what?

I think Bellah was a master at meta-history. Well worth thinking more about. Thanks again, TJ, for the article. Will read it tomorrow.


There is a Creative Seed,Thread & Spark in the Darkest Moment,I 've been in Darkness & Glimpsed the Peace that Passes Understanding & Still Feel Afraid at Times.


Have listened to and read Stephen Jenkinson for years, starting with the week my mother died, his voice came just in time. He’s quite a wonder and strong tonic for so many of our tragically mistaken beliefs and actions and lack thereor. This is the first time I’ve heard/seen anybody else mention him, thanks, Michael! For those who don’t know him yet, his two books are Die Wise, and Come of Age, both poetic and harsh and nourishing. He’s at work on a book about marriage now. Many videos and podcasts of his life-work, musical gatherings, etc are widely available, most of them free.


I quote from the article TJ posted.“The shadow structure to replace the existing system will comprise many elements, with varying mixes of the practical and theoretical. These elements are springing up independently, although linkages among them are beginning to appear”

My gut feeling is that we incoherent strangers to ourselves are still alive and can if we so desire co-create a shadow structure in our online experiments and study groups as we find comrades on the ground where we are each of us located. If enough of us can triangulate from the margins we might find a way to gather by the river, and share curiosity rather contempt for one another.

I risk an overly self -referential move as I quote myself but I want to update my remark, as I am aware of my own inertia and sometimes acceleration. Many of us are experiencing a psychic whip lash. Our bodies are moving too fast and we have hit an obstacle and the spinal column gets in a twist.

I would add that I want to work with an “open closure”, a closure that is not final but is open is much more like what our nervous system is perhaps doing when our nervous system is at its best. Currently, our nervous systems suffer from way too much noise.

Thanks for the conversation, Team Human! I hesitate to use that term which Ruhskoff uses because I have an aversion to competitive sports metaphors in general. However, I acknowledge that we need more than one metaphor to make our social worlds to cohere. If we can be more curious about the Stranger within and without we might find more effective metaphors, myths and stories. I imagine, what keeps many of us engaged, is that we are re-training attention. This is hard work and also a deep pleasure.


Very well Expressed John.This is Attuned to my Living Out the Rest of Days,Coming of Age is a Gift,not just the Ending of Life.
In any given moment,our breathing pattern is one indication of our state of being.And our state of being profoundly Affects others of all forms.Our tension & anxiety are contagious.And so is our grounded Presence.
Thank John,Again


Thank you, Michael!

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TJ, what is Rebel Wisdom?
Your avatar…is it new? It’s beautiful, mysterious…

This gives me such a sense of relief, as always happens hearing the deep truth…about how things are and how they could be.


Essentially, fellow Cosmonauts willing to proceed in this troubled time:
Other than my enthusiastic recommendation, I’ll let them speak for themselves.

John introduced him to me. Technically he is now one hundred years old, though what he represents is much older still, explained below (borrowed from here: "Second-order" culture & the Axial Age: an overview the unfinished business of which we speak).

“Angelus Novus” by Paul Klee (1920)

Walter Benjamin, upon purchasing the print in 1921, christened this fellow “the Angel of History”. He imagined him being swept inexorably into the future on his own outstretched wings by the storm winds of destiny - only backwards, so that he must ever survey the damage of a past he could neither pause nor fix. The truth is we too are being swept inexorably into the future, and we are just as powerless to pause or fix what lies behind us in time. But unlike the Angel we are able not only to turn our heads but to move our wings even if slightly. We have a precious opportunity, if not a duty, to allow memory to serve the cause of wisdom ahead - and this is a difference that should make all the difference in the world. "

Vision and despair struggle mightily within me, and in that I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m learning to value the unresolved tension though, in ways I hadn’t allowed myself before… finally starting to grow up at 52 maybe? (LOL)

How are you? :slightly_smiling_face:


“Vision and despair struggle mightily within me, and in that I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m learning to value the unresolved tension…” YES. I’m completely with you.
Thank you so much for the links which I look forward to tomorrow. It feels late to me, and I’m not well, but your full and kind reply has lifted me.
Your wings do shine, friend.


Rumi 3


I am very fond of this cute little guy, TJ. He has such a sweet presence actually. I recall at the opening ceremonies of our deep dive into the Axial Age, the metaphors we self-generated, -the light on the path, the prayer, the story telling around the campfire, the garment, and culture as noodles with apple sauce-all of these combined have a stranger than strange kind of resonance after being away from the big survey that Bellah initiates. Do we have what it takes to complete this project? Even if we don’t we have already started something. And perhaps it is an infinite game? I have confidence in the weird and serendipitous.


AND the dark of the night can also be as beautiful as the day, if we can see its beauty…