The Language of Desire and the Search for the Illusive Personal Pronoun 'I'

Recorded 18 April 2020

How can we co-create the conditions to concretize our desired outcomes? We will explore differences between a problem, a solution, and a desired outcome. This session is a follow up to previous Clean Language episodes. Please bring your memories, dreams, and reflections.

Reading / Watching / Listening


Modeling Questions
-How does ‘attract’ ‘approach’ function?
-Is the ‘I’ that can’t find the same or different from the 'I" that wants to find?
-If different what is their relationship?
-What are the symbolic components?-
-What are the relationships between the symbols?
-How did the whole construction come into Being?
-What happens before and after the sequence of events?
-What is the nature of that which prevents approaching?
-And if you could generate some clean questions-what would they be?

A Cosmic Opera

Developing Questions
Is there anything else about that … ?
What kind of … is that … ?
Where is … ?
Whereabouts … ?
Is … on the inside or the outside?

Convert to Metaphor
That’s … like what?

Intentions and Relationship
Is there are relationship between … and … ?
Is … the same or different to … ?

Then what happens?
What happens next?
What happens just before … ?
What would you like to have happen?

And where could…come from?

Creating Necessary Conditions
What needs to happen for … to happen?
When … what happens to …
And can…?

And how do you know?


Is this supposed to be a resource or media link?


Act ‘as if’ this is a communication made to you by someone.

If the communication were made by a person what would you know from the language? Seth and I will muse upon this statement together and make explicit how we can use clean language to work with this kind of mixed message. We will do this ‘live’ so it will make better sense.

Then we can work with statements already generated by members of the group and search for the ’ I ’ of desire.

What kind of statement is it?

A problem?

A solution to a problem?

A desired out come?

Is there a double bind?

Can you, Marco, listen to the statement with your third ear? Please feel free to ignore.

My desired outcome-I want to explore relational processes that make other relational processes possible.

How do you know this is a desired outcome?


Does this above statement reflect a desired outcome?

Is there a pattern operating?

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OK, I got it. Of course, the “can’t find” state is energetically unattractive. Moreover, to “find” that which one desires implies seeking for it, a movement. But the state of being attractive is not one of clueless seeking but of knowing stillness—the creation of a charged energetic field, which draws seeking energies into a relationship with the presence that is generating the field. The statement, “I can’t find attractive women,” is therefore self-defeating. The outcome is repelled in the very act of stating the desire.


That’s really good, Marco, thank you. My job as a modeler is to use Clean Language questions to investigate the language of the client.


Hello John and all,

I do have a prior commitment. If able (and if you’ll accept a time-intruder) I will arrive late to the conversation, likely a distant star or a passing cloud rather than a stage performer as depicted in your conductor artistry above :comet:


Hi fellas, thanks for the fun session. I just want to share the picture I made, which I enjoyed making. Thanks for the help with opening up.


Was unable to connect during the final 30 minutes. Looking forward to reviewing this one.

Temporary link


Thank you, Marco, I had fun, too. And thanks to Michael and Seth for their skillful attention. I learned a lot.

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Thanks, Doug, but the temporary link doesn’t work. It asks me for a password. I hope you can join us next time and look forward to your feedback.


Zoom is now adding a password by default to recording share links. Here is the info.

Error - Zoom (Access Password: f8.24!7?)



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Thank you again John and co-inspirators for another Clean Langauge session. Below are some notes, observations, tangential thoughts, questions and graspings. I also post my drawing from the previous session here for reference. There is a field present in my drawing that may have some resonant weavings with Marco’s great visual drawing.

  • Desired outcomes
    personal pronoun “I”
    … and illusive (did he mean elusive?).
    (either way…that’s for sure…)
    problem, solution, desired outcome

  • …and how is this relevant to “my” desired outcome, as a listener?...even as a watcher/listener, I listen and have a desire for the outcome to move towards a particular desire I have in mind (a tall order for something that has already been recorded!). I encounter the problem that is setting up the question in the first place. I want for the first 20 minutes of “logistics” to be unnecessary…let’s get to the point…do we not know each other well enough to cut to the chase. Do we not know that Marco wants to write his poem, that life interrupts and that his poem is his life and is the greater life at large and to complete the poem is to …. this is where Clean Language can be a chore to me and I want to quit it and just have a normal conversation. I am learning that, outside of my desires, there are infinite amounts of other desires coming forth and even if I am respectful of others, am I really listening?

  • To you John: You do well, John, with stating your desire, giving space for others’ desires and restating the original desire to give this deeper penetration a chance. As I listen I have gained a stronger sense of what you wish to happen John. By the title alone, which made little sense to me upon first glance…I see that you had the desired outcome to reach into that space of desire and find the illusive “I”. When I take a look at your collective effort with Clean Language I am realizing that we may not at first hear the voice of your desired outcome, but I believe that we are hearing its echo.

  • To Michael: The multiple layers of the self…the illusive “I” was defined when you abruptly changed from elder Mike into 3-year-old Mike… who are you …really? or where are you? I find that the self is more elusive though maybe in the larger scheme of the self, illusive is a better term.

  • To Marco (and to the poet or more so to the artist and the search for that defining core of the self):
    My time here interacting with the Cosmos has shaped me up into an artist. I may go ahead now and say that yes, I am an artist, it must be so. Art is beautiful and life is beautiful and there is not a moment to waste doing otherwise. Like you, I carry that “dual dedication” and let go when I must, when I can. As always a deep bow and an illuminated grin for your illustrious illustration of what it means to be an artist when the world is in constant collapse and re-breath.

  • A quote or two from Bergson from the essay “ The Life and Work of Ravaisson” that I read earlier Friday, quite fitting for the discussion you four shared last night:

There is, in Leonardo da Vinci’s Treatise on Painting, a page that Ravaisson loved to quote. It is the one where the author says that the living being is characterized by the undulous or serpentine line, that each being has its own way of undulating, and that the object of art is to render this undulation distinctive “The secret of the art of drawing is to discover in each object the particular way in which a certain flexuous line which is, so to speak, its generating axis, is directed through its whole extent, like one main wave which spreads out in little surface waves.” …

…The (painter’s) art does not consist in taking in detail each trait of the model…neither does it consist in picturing some impersonal and abstract type, where the model one sees and touches is dissolved into a vague ideality. True art aims at portaying the individuality of the model and to that end it will seek behind the lines one sees the movement the eye does not see, behind the intention, the fundamental aspiration of the person…

  • I see Clean Language as an art. I see you John as a solid student of Clean Language that has “surpassed the master” … you take Clean Language and shape it into an art form. Clean Langauge naturally aims to seek behind the lines, beyond what the eye sees. You take us behind the curtain, close our sensory apparatus and provide us access to the third eye, the third ear. This is your project John, not solely in your possession of course. You require each of us to participate. As you said, your desire to explore relational processes and make other relational processes happen happened when Marco and Michael created the condition to make your desired outcome complete.

  • What did I learn? Like learning any art form, the beginnings of the Clean Langauge process can be tedious, especially in the way it is set up online. When we worked with Alternate Realities I felt that sometimes it was too difficult to carry forward. And, about these sessions we are doing now with Seth included, I wish to say that I like where this is going but want to give it direction…where are we going with this?…is it solely a practice? Are we carrying forward something?…what is the desired outcome of the group for these sessions, after they have occurred?…we cannot know where we are going right now, nor what the future holds, but we can continue to frame this into something meaningful and carry forward the creativity.


and illusive (did he mean elusive?).

And what determines illusive/elusive?

Let’s get to that point… And when let’s get to the point…and where is that point?

and how do you know that point when get there?

And when I want to quit it and just have a normal conversation…

what happens to conversation before normal conversation?

And where does that normal conversation come from?

And when I believe that we are hearing its echo…where does that echo come from when I believe?

Last night, as I practiced dream yoga…I sat in a chair in an upright posture and held the tension in my mind between oppositions in my psyche after reading your comments. I held the tension in head, chest, belly, and it moved around and I rested in the opposition stances that ’ I ’ can take…from different kinds of semantic spaces…and ‘I’ am aware of different semantic and perceptual spaces…

When I returned to sleep I held briefly in my mind’s eye your drawing…and from memory was aware of three black points in the tall figure in green on the right side of the picture…

I went through several sequences that are too complex to communicate adequately with English language…but it was like a giant underground city…I had a package of notebooks, drawing, sketches, that I was trying to get rid of…One of the drawings had an abstract figure with three black dots arranged in a zig zag fashion with a red background and other kinds of geometries…I no longer want to carry this package of images and words…and I placed them on a kind of conveyor on the floor, like you see in an airport when you pick up luggage, and I put the package on this converyor and it zoomed away to an underground area…and I walked across the large space ( much like the central hall of Grand Central at 42nd street- a big cavernous public space with the zodiac on the ceiling and lots of travelers, and big echos) and a man appears on a balcony above, an official man, with authority, and he says," John Davis, you have forgotten this."

He holds the contents of the package I dropped off, but it is compressed into a slender envelope. He transports/transmits the envelope from across this vast space to my hand in a split second. I open the envelope and inside is a slide rule. I ponder the significance of a slide rule in a dream-space? What am I supposed to measure when everything is changing shape and size?

The slide rule disappears and I find myself in a dark passage, rooms within rooms, people are being operated upon by ugly, fat creatures, humanoid but also too strange to describe, with arms that enter into sleeves of a garment that connects to the body of a person who is being operated upon…this is a weird kind of surgery that is gruesome and I am reminded of the nightmare images of Hieronymous Bosch…the juxtapositions of medieval tortures and high tech gadgets…it feels like a factory farm, a slaughter house… and all of this activity baffles me but I remain calm…then I notice with alarm that one of these men has a cart made of bones…he tosses the thigh bone of a human from the cart onto a pile of bones…some are from prehistoric animals…some are human remains…then I relax…and float in a fetal position between dimensions,it is very pleasant until I feel the presence of a strange, unfriendly energy that is coming from behind, tries to embrace me gently but then take on a sinister aspect as my space is being take over…and this is not a pleasant union, but more like a rape…I stop this and say, " I want to see your face."

" I can’t do that…" he says. And I feel his misery.

I could zap him but I also know I might not learn something important if I don’t stay stable so I soften my affect and feel more curiosity than fear…he takes shape in my visual field, a human male, middle aged, with an injury…he shimmers in a thin shape, transparent and I pass my dream hand through his body…and I ask," You have died recently?" He communicates telepathically that he has…and I realize we are in a ‘bardo realm’ and I am looking above him at the figures of many humans floating without a clear boundary but a sense of separation between entities…they don’t know where they are or where they are going…and there appears to be no guidance…I feel a deep compassion and I say," Is there no one to pray for you? I will pray for you."

I feel a great wave of compassion for all the lost souls, wandering without purpose, trapped in a human belief system without a human body…a terrible situation to be in…so lonely and frightened and exhausted…that they try to inhabit my center…which I will not allow, but from my center…I can pray for them…pray that they can find the place where they belong…and I pray for myself as well that I make good use of my human incarnation to make a bridge between these dimensions before the opportunity to have a benefit collapses…I feel a great urgency to do so…this might happen…but then again it may not…and if it doesn’t happen where will all of these lost souls go?

And so…where is the perciever in all of this perceiving from…Jung, Freud, Bergson and Deleuze are useless… the Bible except for the 23 psalm is of no use…I am in-between without a map…and none of my books read upon planet earth are worth a damn…I will have to leap into a new cosmology… whether I want to or not…without a guide…

And really listening…respectful of others…and really listening…

I am determined to take my sense of the personal pronoun ‘I’ with me… if I surrender a sense of a center I can’t create a bridge for others to walk across…and relieve these great oppositions…the body is a very important player, and the body has many layers, many levels,and a capacity for synesthesia,…coupled persecutions and resurrections…lucid feedback loops between worlds…between heavens and hells,and vast persecutions programed, and this work is not for the timid…or those who want to forget…the semiotics of the subtle are not easy to read…

Clean Language, for me, is a para-language, the only tool that has helped me in my search to meta-stabilize a system in collapse that goes far beyond the skin encapsulated ego…this may seem a chore to you…and for anyone who wants to get to the point quick and get to the good part…slow mind is very slow…and maybe there is something good on Netflix that you would prefer to watch, Doug?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I will be tuning into the inter-interiors of a future people who will have learned how to work with desired outcomes in creative and ecological ways. Your boys, Miles and Vincent, may benefit,as well as Marco’s two girls… one of whom appeared off camera in our session with Marco…making a snowman…and while the children play,…all manner of thing may not be well without enough persons who can direct their attention in coherent we spaces who can work with subtle semiotica. This I believe to be true and I will act accordingly.

The poet Rumi says…do not go back to sleep…


Beautiful John. I am awake and aware. I have four hours of caring for good ol’ granny and her precious landscaped vista and will come back here with a strong intent to reply with a whole heart. Take care and be ware today John and all.


And Yet John U have a Heart Beat … And When a Heart Beat,Do U Need the Guide of A Map?
This is to Be Clear: I Hear & Find your Heart Beats with a Fierce Compassion !!!


and the great poet, Jesus, warned…do not throw your pearls before swine…it is not what you say but how you say it and where are you saying it from…

And this para-language, which I consider Clean Language to derive from, is primarily about the practice of style, and style emerges from a certain rhythm, which endures even when our flesh rots off of our bones. David Grove, who created this Clean Language, did not have a theory for what he was doing. People were healed, some people got confused and went crazy before they were healed, some people were more curious after working with him. David had chronic fatigue syndrome, writer’s block, and was a very weird genius. The last workshop I did with him he said his work was almost finished. He died of a heart attack a few months later, at the age of fifty six.

David called his ultimate work, Emergent Knowledge, though some might call this dynamic he was working out of, the Soul.

And does Soul have a size or a shape? It definitely does.

Have a great time with Granny!


What is coming to mind for me this morning, in the wake of the conversation on this thread since Friday evening, is that there are finite and infinite poems, and that when I spoke my desired outcome, “I want to complete a poem,” I was referring primarily to specific language-formation with the formal characteristics of a “poem” (with a finite size and shape) which I believe will have some liberating & illuminative to role to play on at least my own psyche and of some others.

The poem belongs to infinite language game which is very serious business! It exists as a path dependency in shifting networks of cosmic emergence, which are due to coagulate into stellar forms. My desire to speak about it, however elusively, illusively, or allusively, belongs to an attempt to suss out inner technical truths and inspirational irruptions from the co-creative milieu, since even though the overall flavor and shape of the poem is clear to me, there remain various internal challenges, energetic blockades, and personal foibles preventing the finished product from fully materializing.

That is how it feels from this vantage point anyway. From another perspective, everything is going exactly according to plan and there is no reason to fret. Picasso famously said, “I do not seek, I find.” I believe he stole that line and covered it up with the drivel that “great artists steal.” (Which I have since begged for and borrowed for my lucid I.)

I have more transpersonal desired outcomes that I consider imporant—especially relating to Cosmos. What is the relationship between intensification and expansion? I feel perhaps that these are subtle and complex forces in dynamic interplay. One desired outcome I had going into the event was simply to see the gang, meet up with Seth again, and hang out (expansively). That mission was accomplished! In future sessions, I would like to make cognitive music that can be shared like fish and loaves, with personal delivery service for the home-bound with a hunger to evolve the game.


And we have more than one desired outcome, they are clustered around themes, motifs, gut feelings that are quite vague, and sometimes we are only aware of our desired outcome when we have achieved it, without even knowing that we wanted it, as if a synergistic reality, keeps popping up in our social arrangements, with an odd, synchronicity event.

We must somehow make ourselves worthy of these odd events and note it before it slithers quickly back into the margins. I don’t think this has to be driven by accidents and disasters. If we were more attentive to the structure of our desire, a structure that is often invisible, we could gather together and say to the mountain," Move." And the mountain would move. This is imaginal thinking, drawing upon logos and mythos with discernment.

I wanted to explore necessary conditions with Clean Language. When I asked you, Marco, what needs to happens to make your desired outcome to happen…you made a significant meta-comment. You said, " Necessary Conditions." and then you proceeded to lay out a strategy. And you formulated a strategy, out loud, in public, with your peers. This could become a co-learning event of immense proportions for yourself and your peers.

I have been working on this for three years, speaking to less than the third ear, of many persons. So, it is with great relief that I made this explicit, a dynamic learning point, that I pointed to in the session and it is on tape. I would add that I hope that we will, in addition to focusing attention on desired outcomes, focus attention on creating necessary conditions. Without a desired outcome, you have no system. Systemic learnings in groups can spread like wild fire, if there is a systemic orientation. Weaning ourselves off of the dead metaphorical structures of our current culture is not easy. We are deeply constrained by battle field metaphors, in education, politics, medicine, the arts. We have, as a group, made a deep study of this. This is culture work. And I am accepting of the ambiguity of this transition, these raw phase spaces, as we move through these outcomes and conflicting claims upon our attentions.

Procedures and techniques are many and the body needs varied practices to evolve culturally. I am very aware of the power of a practice that makes shared attention the center of attraction. This ensemble effect can be nurtured and new operating chains can develop, a capacity for creating self models, (rather than over indulging in endless critique), will need to be mastered by many of us before the shift can happen. We are more, much more, than any model, but it is models rather than theories, that attract me. Models and theories can co-refer and the maps we develop are very important but provisional steps towards a liberating ecology of minds.

I look forward to creating conditions for more safe to fail experiments in virtual spaces. I have arranged desired outcomes and voids in para-frames, side by side, within a a lemniscate pattern and let this somatic syntax arise from the juxtapositions. Translation is as important as transformation. Questions about how to do this, rather than why we should, is my main interest but I recognize others have a different and interesting style. I try to co-facilitate an open/closure from a depth dimension. And that can happen…


In the session on Friday you gave me a great metaphor as I worked with the clean language analysis of I WANT TO COMPLETE A POEM. You said," It’s like a hologram." And that is perfect, exactly what I was trying to express. Thank you!